Ta Da!

We talk so much of resolutions and goals, but what are you proud of about 2019? What’s on your Ta Da List?

I’ve written about mine extensively. It’s the work of my life, the reason I started this blog, but it wasn’t until 2019 that I really saw results. I saw improvement, but I hadn’t yet managed to sustain it, or found a way out of my pattern: crisis/recovery/crisis/recovery.  It’s all I’ve ever known. It’s how my family relates.

I see it now, the shift. I believe in it. I’m so encouraged and excited by that! Time and again, I’ve met with resistance, rejection, assault, attack, or heartache and upset, and I’ve responded with strength and calm.

My biggest success is the biggest loss, but it was my biggest trigger – my mom – and I DID IT! Poorly, but I did it. That was a toddling argument, full of mistakes and regret. Falling everywhere, bumping, crying, anger, re-centering and starting again, in one stilted conversation. If given the opportunity, I could build mutual trust with her. We could get better at discussions of thorny or painful issues. I could build a real relationship between us, with depth and substance. I understand, too, that it’s not available. She won’t.

Acceptance was the huge Ta Da for me in 2019. I can’t force it. I love us both enough not to ask again. The sorrow, of course, is that I feel hollow and unsatisfied by such a superficial connection, and it’s the only other option to shunning. The sole interaction they permit feels uneasy to me, inauthentic, like being loved with an asterisk.

But love it is. Just as Mom doesn’t have the right erase my origin story, I can’t pretend that love isn’t love when it doesn’t behave exactly like I want it to. For now, I can appreciate that. I accept her limits for our relationship, but meaningful acceptance of this quasi-“love” from my family is beyond my skill set for now. It makes me mad. I want to open my heart to it, but I’m not there yet. Layers…

Perhaps I’ll always feel second-class. It’s still love, the only way they know how. Today, it’s insulting. “Isn’t it a shame?” they condescend. “If only she’d stop causing so much trouble, we could welcome her.” I just won’t receive their embrace. Tsk, tsk.

As for their religious estimation of me, “pearls before swine” sums it up, but I don’t mind them seeing me as Esau, tossing my birthright for sin. We both feel superior in that regard, which is sad, really, and antithetical to love, but I can only handle so much. It’s unfathomable to me how they refuse to examine their thoughts. It’s positively willful, but they don’t see the action verb in their behavior. They’re so used to believing without thinking that they’re blind to the blinders they wear.

There’s a song in Book of Mormon Musical, in which the missionaries dance to a wonderfully irreverent tune about those dreaded, creeping questions. Before allowing themselves to complete any thought, they interrupt with the chorus. “TURN IT OFF!”

I know plenty of Mormons who think for themselves. I know countless intellectually curious, courageous individuals who explore truth on their terms and land in their own place on the spectrum of orthodoxy, but my family is culty. Gross.

Look down on me, then. We share that.

Our problems are behavioral, not theological, but I can see how that refusal to look deeply at an issue came from our religious culture. I believe, too, in genetic memory. Studies show that trauma alters genes, which are then transmitted to subsequent generations. When we feel history in our bones, we really do!

I’ve found a lot of understanding and healing in that notion, and when I sit in it, I feel my ancestors. They’re in my blood, pumping and alive. Whether they’re angelic or not (They are), they’re now.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” -William Faulker

I don’t think we’re doomed by genetic memory. In the context of ancestry, we’re all the perpetrator and the victim, and I believe we can heal our spirits and bodies in real time. For me, it’s overwhelming and so fulfilling to consider recovery in a larger framework, one that challenges my understanding of time. The cosmos itself offers too much discovery to bend my mind to, that tells me time isn’t linear. Time is both real and unreal. Can I heal the past? Yes. I’m healing me, and the past is never dead.
healing hurts

Headlong into Hindsight 2020!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s actually happening!

Did anyone else do that? Set an intention for Hindsight 2020, when they’d have all their shit figured out? Well, I did, and I marked it a long time ago. Like, 20 years or more.

The confluence of midlife and that symbolic cliché struck me long before I knew what a bitch this shift would really be. I mean, I knew it would be. My early life was painful. I knew it would be the work of my life to process all that.

I planned to have it done by next month, haha! The weird thing is, I do.

2019 was the first successful hard year I’ve had. It was productive. There were so many opportunities to state feelings of upset, anger, and fear without freaking out, and I did.

The thing I have that I didn’t before is confidence. I trust myself for the first time.

The sexual violence I experienced during festival season, culminating in Burning Man, was a trauma I only just released… last week. I didn’t realize how much of it I was still carrying around until I wasn’t.

I’ll never allow predators to remain again. I know it, because I don’t apologize anymore for my limit. I don’t question anymore if I’m worth walking away from people who don’t honor my boundaries. My safety’s not negotiable.

It’s not asking too much. Refusing another chance – when your needs have been stated and ignored, multiple times – is normal. It’s called Healthy Boundaries.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Listen, dummy!

(It takes time to learn a foreign language, and quite literally, boundaries are not my native tongue. It is what it is. I got it now. I probably have an accent that gives away my place of origin, but that’s fine.)

“Fool me once, shame on you… twice, shame on me” is too reactionary. The benefit of the doubt might enrich us both. Show me it was a slip-up, not the norm. Or don’t, but that tells me about you, not me. I’m not shamed by that.

I legit did not know that. I couldn’t connect it to emotional truth, that I really am allowed to call disrespect by its name, and walk away.

believe them

I’ll give one chance more. Fix it or confirm it. Your choice.

“Disregard those who disregard.” That’s my MO. No guilt or guess-work.

Y’all, I know my boundaries for the first time. Take that in. It’s life-altering.

Kids who grow up with abuse have to love the person(s) hurting them. Boundaries don’t form there. I forgive myself for being a perfect target, because I didn’t create the circumstances that made me a victim.

It’s weird that it took me so long. I knew what I knew what I knew… but not really. I knew what I didn’t want. I had an idea what I did. But real boundaries? I just didn’t have any. I couldn’t. I didn’t know what they were. I was ruled by fear of what I didn’t want to repeat, and terror of being found out: I can’t do better. (I’m not worthy of better!)

Well, I am. Let’s build something!

Now, the only thing keeping me from the future of my dreams is inertia. And that’s a big one for me. I’m lazy. I could blame my luxurious, indolent Taurus. I could blame a life of vigilant anxiety. (You hunker down and dip your toe in, never swimming freely.) Yeah, sure, all the things. I could blame. But I’m staring down 50. It’s now. Holy shit!

I’ve joked for decades, “My epitaph will read, ‘Lovingly gave half her life to sleep.'” If I don’t get up now, I will die never having truly committed to any life. I’m sitting, waiting for it, watching. Get UP and make it!

I feel myself very clearly looking behind me at a wild, manic, amazing first half. I see me – oh, wow – aching for that girl, understanding her, cringing and regretting her, LOVING her. I’m so strong! I survived! I fought like hell not to stick my head in the sand that shields my family from reality. I’d rather kill myself than hide from the truth. I LOVE THAT ABOUT ME. I stared down death to live honestly.

What I see now is courage. I had strength without the tools to voice it in meaningful ways. I was screaming for my very life, and that’s how it felt. What I see now is power expressing itself weakly, and it will again, but not as often, and not blindly.

I’m not as afraid as I was, even two years ago. I think that’s about where the shift took place in space and time. The last two years. In other words, now.

I see myself pivoting, with intention, 180 degrees, to look out on a tabula rasa. Its blankness doesn’t scare me. I don’t have to control right this second what might happen out there. I’m going to make what I make, and I’m excited! I want to start walking, now.

A sad truth of this change has been the adjustment of several relationships. Unfortunately, young Christie’s friends aren’t used to this middle-aged lady’s insight. I built those friendships when I was sick, and those patterns of interaction don’t work for me anymore. I’m not operating from weakness, and I’m not apologizing.

I had to leave a decades-old friendship last year. I sent a card six months later for her birthday, a love letter, really. She called. I answered, glad to put it to rest and move on, only to have her start up with justifications and explanations, and a complete lack of awareness. She was still in a fight that didn’t matter anymore. I tried to work through it – I believe in working through it – but we were talking in circles. At the end of the day she confirmed what I saw for the first time six months prior: a woman who will not share responsibility for misunderstandings. I owned my shit and wouldn’t let her off the hook for hers. I deserve friends who apologize when they’re wrong, of their own volition. I do.

She can’t. She’s not sorry. She’s comfortable in a world where I blame myself for the behavior of others. “I’m fucked up. What do I know?”

Not anymore. Level up.

I had no idea she needed to be “the healthy one” until I got better. In 22 years, we had two fights. After the first, I acquiesced (apologizing without reciprocation) because I needed her and didn’t know my worth, so I couldn’t recognize that she didn’t either. After last year’s argument, I couldn’t stay in a friendship that won’t grow with me.

I love her so much, and I know she’s out there with no clue why our friendship is over. She actually thinks it’s because we had a fight. She needs me weak, and if given the opportunity, she’d go over the minutia again, to prove her point under the guise of resolving things, when it’s long-since moot.

That friend is the keeper of my youth and beauty, of joyful exuberance, freedom, and fun! I’m still fun, can’t help it, but it’s different. I’m fun, with edge. And I love my edge! It’s wicked and sharp, still silly and laughing at my own expense, but not… young anymore. Anyway, the pictures in my mind of this sweet friend and me are footloose and fancy free, if anything ever was. We pranced through mountains singing, and swam in glacial lakes – head underwater three times or it doesn’t count – not a care in the world. She’s a hallmark of an unpolluted era. She holds my innocence, and I love her forever.

Moose Falls

Some badass chick I used to know ~ 1995

kayaking Hoback

Adventure Duo! ~ 1995

I wrote about the friendship that changed after Burning Man, the couple I introduced who got married out there and then hung out on Zafod’s art car after he assaulted me. It doesn’t hurt anymore to accept them at their level. They were friends of long standing that I thought of as intimates, but I see now a childish eagerness to make family of peripheral community. They’re friends. Their values are different from mine. Okay.

I like them. I enjoy them. I’ll seek them out at every gathering. I invest nothing more.

One more important friendship is in 2019’s crucible, on the verge of moving from sister to drinking buddy. We’re in process, and I think we’ll be okay, but my new boundaries are being met with a resistance familiar to me now. The equalizing of power imbalances doesn’t feel as hopeful and thrilling to others as it does me, it seems.

“I’m changing,” I told her. “Keep up or don’t.”

I have no delusions that my patterns and problems will go away, but I’m a different person. EMDR is hard. I hate/love it. I’m hoping to love/hate it soon, but one year in, I still can’t sleep soundly the night of a session. It’s disruptive to a brain!

I have gods-honest panic attacks now, not just the white-knuckle, jaw-clenching stranglehold I’ve had on the day-to-day. On one hand, I prefer it. It feels more honest, less monster under the bed. “Okay, you’re real. Let’s face this down and really talk to it.” On the other hand, panic attacks fucking suck.

I asked my therapist if I’m having fits now because growing new neuro-pathways has basically turned me into a toddler. He said yes, haha! It feels like it. It eases my mind a little to think of them as the tantrums of helpless child because, well, it amuses me, and because a phase is less menacing than a condition.

I don’t have a panic disorder. I have control issues, sure, but I inherited those from a scary childhood. I expect it to settle, because I also feel, for the first time, like a mature adult who can handle her shit without losing it.

I DARED, and I’m so glad I did. I see real results from intense therapy.

(Sometimes, when my practitioner passes over the hand buzzers, I still see them coming at me in slow motion. It’s the craziest thing, like I can watch how I used to “pop out,” but I stay in my body now. It makes me feel faint, and I sense my whole body, the fluttering in my gut, the tingling and numbness in my limbs of staying put instead of running away.) (At this point, as a kid, I just started screaming god-knows-what stream of consciousness, and by age 7-8, I was being mocked for how “smart” I was. I couldn’t stop the violence, but I could get in your head.)

I’m not afraid of that screaming thing in me anymore. It kept me alive. It’s the same warrior that made me willing to stare this down, and put it to rest. Real strength is nascent in me yet, but I trust it. I believe it. I can do it. I am.

It’s not my fault what happened to me, but it’s my responsibility now.
go bravelyLooking forward, the only thing I have to confront (that has nothing to do with cPTSD) is that lazy streak. I have to muster up some self-discipline! I got no time left. If I keep sitting, I will actually die waiting for my life to happen.

So, to that end, here are my plans:

Get my ESL certification in preparation for moving to Bolivia to teach English.

Finish my recovery. (Unlike Donald Trump, my bone spurs were real. You don’t get out of Vietnam. You get surgery.)

gross foot

It was so swollen under the bandages, I have to slough that skin entirely. The peeling!

Keep up Afro-Brazilian drum lessons until I can…

Return to yoga and dance!

Audition for Samba Fogo drum corps.

Restring my guitar and start online lessons.

Participate in SLC’s 3rd annual Rock Camp for Womyn.

Build the E11 Temple again (Hindsight 2020 theme!) and join an art installation crew.

Tarot… Actually learn the deck, and do readings at E11.

Cook something healthy at least once a week, for the love! (I’m skinny fat.)

Oh. BULLET JOURNAL! Why have I never done that? Oh, yeah. I’m not busy enough to need a planner. But I love lists, and I love pretty things. Boom, done. Bullet journal.

Write short blog posts. 😆

The end.

Cured!

gentle power

I didn’t believe quiet strength was available to me until 2019.

(P.S. Two fights in 22 years? [222!] … Ignoring my experience and intuition is my Achilles heel. “I’m tripping myself up” repeating old patterns of unhealthy relationships. Foot metaphors? [I fixed my toe, and relationships are changing.] I love synchronicities, and that’s too coincidental not to notice. *hi, angels*)
repeat repair

Counter-Dependency

Whoa! Just found a new word. THIS:
counter dependency

Finding this was so timely and germane, it’s a little freaky. That happens, too.

Yay! Okay. Awareness is the first step in mastery.

I have the recent success of relying on others – albeit against my will – and being embraced and befriended by them. It took about a day, but then I braved asking for continued help, for supplies, for companionship. We had fun! I’m so grateful to them.

That puts me in great stead facing this fear when it creeps up again. And it will. I’d long-since identified it, just didn’t know it had a name. I don’t know why a word should make such a difference, except, well, I love words.

It seems more concrete, universal, and surmountable with a name. Somehow, it’s comforting to know that it comes from someplace. It’s just part of the process of healing from cPTSD. I can do that. I’m a boss.

Just ask. If the answer is no, you still win. Asking for and accepting help is success.

It’s Over

I’m back at work – and online – for the first time since the move on Sunday.

Saturday was the culmination of all their efforts to make me pay. Officers had advised me to film them whenever they attacked me, but I didn’t know when that would be. Mostly, it was just mockery, gloating, and name-calling as I passed from room to room, if I left mine. I didn’t want to aggravate them further by recording every time I walked out, so I did my best not to, which was always their goal, to impede my ability to move freely and to make this as stressful and agonizing for me as possible.

I had given Jax my rehearsal schedule. He knew I only had Fridays and Sundays to pack. So there they were. Every weekend.

I packed the house after rehearsals and Fridays before they came “home” after the workweek, and worked in my room weekends. They spent both nights only once – that wasted weekend of late summer lightning, trashing my dishes, and box theft (#4f) – but they were there Fridays ’til late, all day and overnight Saturday, and throughout Sunday.

Every weekend.

Only twice did they “prep the house.” They were there to eat, drink, and dry hump during movies. On the couch, in front of me. Once, when I passed them to use the restroom, Jax whispered loudly to Carrie, “You’re making me hard!” Ew! (The kid was there, too!!!)

For their honeymoon, they chose to spend 3 weeks sharing a house with his ex.

?????????????

GO HOME!!!!!

The final hateful push was a campaign nearly as brutal as the first, and I fucked up. That woman literally blocked my movement in and out of the kitchen WITH HER BODY, twice, the night before my movers arrive and I have no choice but to get this done; I cannot hide in my room tonight. That makes 3 times she’s hindered me in some part of the home. Admittedly, it was far more egregious when she had me pinned against a table, captive in my bedroom – unwell, triggered, terrified, BEGGING – with her hand jabbing in my face and her husband blocking my exit behind her, but here she was again, obstructing unfettered movement through the home I legally occupy!

Jax had really been working me, every time I walked through any room, with every tedious little thing, like, “Did you take the garbage can?”

“I bought it when I moved in, stored the lid in the garage to keep it clean.”

“Did you take the tray with the ‘H’ on it?”

“It had been donated and was never mine to give you.”

“Just taking back another gift,” he snarked.

“I’ve given it back to the charity from whom I had no right to take it.” (I left a beautiful  mirrored tray – same size – in its place. He was getting rid of it when I moved in. I cleaned it up and loved it, but I want nothing from that house.)

*giggle giggle, She’s pathetic, darling, giggle giggle*

At one point, Talking Heads were playing when Carrie loudly crowed, “Darling, this is my faaaavorite love song, ever,” just in time to sing along. “Home… is where I want to be…”

*giggle giggle, slurpy slurpy, giggle giggle*

Just the most bizarre woman I’ve ever, heard. I do have to say, though, I enjoyed that paltry display of blissful glee, because it showed me something lacking. Girl can’t belly laugh. That guffaw was forced and creepy. Hey, not everyone laughs with their whole body. That’s fine. But she so desperately needs me to see her in this happy, exultant light, and her boisterous attempt was just… fake.

The other thing she did that amused me… I’m not kidding when I tell you, she’s nothing but an eye-roll to me. Like, why do you need me so badly? She is desperate for my attention and envy, puffs herself up whenever I’m near. It’s weird. Who cares? You will never see or hear from this stranger again. And I’m “pitiful,” remember? “Irrational.” What does my opinion matter? Why do you need the admiration of a pathetic woman?

Jax was bottling beer in the kitchen. She was oohing and ahh-ing over this craft and that. “Oh, darling! I love this one.”

“It has a note of cherry.”

“I can taste it, darling!”

I get fleeting sound bytes as I’m in and out from my bedroom to the growing pile of boxes outside my door. Conversation shifted the moment she realized I was fixed for a time within earshot. Her volume increased and, out of the blue, she says to her new husband, who’s enjoying a hobby, “Maybe you could come to my work and see what I do.”

What?

There’d been no discussion of employment or anything having to do with earning a living. Jax was teaching her son how to sterilize bottle caps, and Carrie was sitting at the table, “darling” and drinking. Apropos of nothing, she brings up work.

“Oh,” he asked, interested. “Do they have an observation area?”

“No,” she admitted. (Why then, one could wonder, would you invite him to watch what he can’t see?) “But,” she continued. “I have to suit up to be in a 60 degree operatory…”

I walked away rolling my eyes. Always rolling my eyes. She’s so stupid and obvious!

I know you have an education. I admired you once as a single mother who earned her degree and built a career. Then I got to know you. Now all I see is desperation and hate, and fake fake fake fake fake.

So back to her blocking me.

At one point, Carrie was climbing the kitchen entryway – just playing and larking about – but I approached and she didn’t come down. I don’t make eye-contact with her, ever. I don’t say a word. But I waited, and she remained there, suspended.

Whatever. I ducked beneath her, changed my laundry, ducked back, and walked on.

About an hour later, same thing, only this time, she’s sitting in the archway, legs up. I approached and asked neutrally, “May I?”

“Oh!” she paused, feigning surprise. “Yeah,” she answered poisonously.

She bent her knees, lowering her feet three inches max, forcing me to climb over her and drop into a sunken kitchen. I waited. Those feet weren’t moving further.

Grow the fuck up! What is wrong with these people!?

It’s non-stop degradation, sarcasm, and show-boating every time I pass, and now this? Again? I mean, I know it’s not the same as imprisoning me in my bedroom while you thrust your finger in my face and yell at me to get out of your house, and I am closer to stable on my meds, but it’s just so disrespectful. They’re RUDE!

I don’t understand how they’re not embarrassed to accuse me of everything they’re guilty of. Unnecessarily, to boot! At the end of the day, what are you doing here? You have an apartment. I live here until October 1st, because YOU designated my move-out date, and I found a home accordingly. I cannot believe they think I’m in the wrong, when just showing up every weekend has proven my point.

So I rolled my eyes and plunked over, muttering a fuck you.

Oh, fuck. Oh, Christie. Oh fuck!

I avoided it all month. It’s what they were gunning for, and I walked into the shootout. They were ON ME. Stupidly, I proceeded to the laundry room, which is just a tiny utility closet off the kitchen, when Jax roared, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”

I about-faced and booked it past him to my room. Carrie was up immediately and, just like the first weekend, chasing me. “FUCK YOU!”

“Fuck you, you bitch!” I yelled back and locked the door. Oh, Christie! Goddammit!

I stayed put for as long as I could, then figured, well, hell, I’ve done it now. I have to finish this. The only way to stay safe is to leave the room with the video recording, so I did. They followed me to the laundry room, where I got something that could be counted as evidence – although what it proves to me is just how very calculated this has all really been. I knew it, but, wow. The difference in their behavior was marked when they knew it could be used against them.

I got heated and emotional when Jax accused me of pushing his bride that first weekend. She had me pinned in a backbend over a table in a room with no exit, and a husband filling the door frame behind her! All I remember is ducking under his armpit and running for my life. He intentionally filled that space, hands shoulder-height on the door frame, for maximum effect. Carrie not only followed me down the sidewalk, but took a left turn to continue the chase down a dead-end alley!

To this day, I consider it a miracle that my phone was right there. I don’t even remember grabbing it. And still I didn’t call the police! Still, I tried not to make trouble! I called my mother. “HANG UP AND CALL THE POLICE.”

Only when I heard her voice did I perceive the urgency. I was blind with panic, simply reacting and begging for relief.

On video, Carrie called me evil and vindictive, repeatedly, and expressed pity. Every time Jax started up, she “soothed him” quick! She could keep herself from screaming and swearing on record, but not him. And she knew it. That woman is all an act.

I have negative energy, she criticized, telling me more than once than I’m hateful.

“This? is not loving, dear.” (Christie, just don’t.) In truth, I’m pleased with how well I ignored them. I responded to very little over the last four weeks. (But she’s just so dumb!)

“You don’t know me!” she shot back, “But I’ve seen your behavior!” With not one thought to her own. I stood there mostly silent, recording her refusal to leave her worldview long enough to see herself yelling and pointing at a woman pinned in a closet.

“We’re both guilty,” I confessed, “but you fail to see the mirror. And that just amazes me.” She had no reply for that and retreated to their room, inviting me to “grow some balls,” still yelling back at me, and “not dealing with it anymore.” (You never had to! You brought it. Go home.)

First, no enlightened modern woman says that. (Trust me when I tell you that 90% of her show has been full-on 1950s Stepford.) Second, why would I need balls if you’re not attacking me? Is that a confession?

Finally, you have no idea the courage the last month, summer, and year have required of me. You have no idea who I am, or the power, daring, and strength in my toolkit. I’ve seen your behavior, too, and I’m strong enough to take responsibility for my part, get better, and never get here again.

Since meeting that woman, I’ve had to dig deeper than ever before. It’s done.
I survived.

****

The next morning, Jax was up with me – 6:30am – to govern and meddle. My colleagues arrived at 7:00. I thought he’d be civil for show, as he has been whenever a witness was present, but I suppose now that I had the footage of the previous night, it made no difference if there was an audience. ???

My co-worker had pulled up on the park strip in our work truck. Sure enough, Jax starts sniping about it. Then Joe comes out of the cab and recognizes Jax. (He’d helped move me in two years ago.) Joe knew nothing of the drama and, friendly man that he is, reached out a hand and a Good-Morning-Hey!-How are you?

“Don’t bother,” I warned him. “He’s upset you’re on the lawn.”

Joe began to apologize.

“Don’t worry about it,” I cut him short. “Let’s just get it done. Don’t talk to him. He’s not a friend. Just, let’s go!”

I had no expectation that Jax would start in on my movers, and I was nervous now.

When I rushed into the house, Jax asked my colleague if I had instructed him to pull up on the lawn. Give me an ever-loving break!

Later, he followed me out to the truck again, needling me about contact info for the upcoming utility bills. “Oh, Jax.” (Come on.) “You know my email address.”

Ridiculous, these people! Tiresome, punitive, juvenile, CRUEL, and not the tiniest bit aware. Just petty. How are they not embarrassed?

And what do I care now?

With three men and me darting in, out and about like a blur, we had my kit-and-caboodle packed in no time, and on the road! I was close to tears several times, feeling their love and support. I’ve been so alone in this experience. Their kindness and generosity gave me courage when I lacked it, and faith in the world and my ability to reintegrate into a decent population of everyday folk just going about their lives. Soon!

I’m so grateful. Those good men saved me Sunday. (In honor of Carrie’s advice to grow balls, I bought nut sacks to feed my crew… and water and granola bars.)

When we finished unloading at the new place, I asked my boss to come back with me to collect the kitties. I knew it would be an ordeal to gather Penny, who is wily and hard to catch. And under their bed, I knew it. I was terrified to be alone.

Mark took my hand, put his arm around me and squeezed me tight. “Of course I will. Whatever you need.”

I guess I needed to cry then, because they rolled, those tears.

I’m blessed.

****

So… about the bills. I do have a question for the blogosphere. Mostly, I’m just free-writing here – especially now, to survive this month – for the purpose of workshopping my experience aloud, as it were. Helps me to sort through emotions, plans, patterns. But I really don’t know what to do with this idea.

I know Jax is planning to scan and email the bills. At this point, I think I should also scan and email my bill for at least one crisis visit to the ER. We got me there together. I think it’s right to deduct half of that from whatever I’ll owe on utilities. It never occurred to me until this last push, but… yeah. I didn’t do it alone.

There was another visit to the ER, but it was for pain. Turns out, I was having a panic attack and all I could think to do was drink water. I was pissing clear, as they say, but I legitimately felt parched, and as the pain increased, I believed that water would flush my system and help me somehow. When I got to the ER, they pushed 2 liters of saline, telling me my sodium was “impressively low.” The doctor told me, too, that I had almost no potassium in my blood, and low electrolytes generally. He literally prescribed olives and bananas for the next week(s), and ordered me to drink Gatorade.

He also recommended I permit a social worker to talk to me about anxiety. I may have written about this already, but I can’t believe it took me ’til 44 to realize that I get rolling panic attacks! I mean, I try to take responsibility for myself and I think I have a modicum of self-awareness, but I had no idea! Shocking, to be so… yeah, unaware.

I declined the “crisis visit” designation, because I just wanted to go home at that point. It had been hours. I was out of pain, but cold and exhausted. So I couldn’t sue Jax for his half of that, although it was definitely a result of the choice we made together to go off my medication.

I’ve talked to my nurse practitioner. As soon as I close my show, we’re adding another smidge of pharma to get a better handle on yet more tiny pieces flying loose from my psyche. Til then, I can’t risk not knowing what another psychotropic drug will do to my ability to memorize. Or balance.

So here’s the question. Do I pay him, or not? Part of me wants to ignore it. I owe him nothing. That is my belief. They terrorized me, and you can’t put a price tag on that. Except you can. I figure, worst case scenario is they’ll sue me in small claims. They’ll have me served at work, and I can counter-sue for the cost of my medical bills – and full punitive under the law, $2000. I feel like that would be fair compensation for what they did to me. I see them as people who tried to help kill a suicidal woman.

I pleaded for my life that first day. I was humiliated to reveal such vulnerable truths to a woman with no care for me, for the access to cruelty it might give her down the line – and just the stigma, in general – but I was terrified as she chased me down the street. I reminded her of her own connection to mental illness, her personal knowledge of its deadliness. “You are scaring me,” I begged that day. “PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!”

And they kept at it for a month, delighted with themselves and their power to persecute. I think they’re murderers. “Grow some balls”? Woman, you have no idea how strong I am. Had I killed myself this September, the note would have had your new name on it.

On the other hand, blowing off bills will be seen as confirmation, the slap-in-the-face they crave to abdicate shared guilt. I don’t care what they think of me, but it would drag out our disgusting alliance.

I could simply sever the connection, pay, and put them on the road behind me. But I think what they did was deadly, damn-near-criminal, and I am PAID IN FULL.

What would you do?

Four For Four

I had really hoped – and moderately anticipated – that, knowing I’m leaving Sunday, they’d leave me alone-ish this weekend. Instead, Jax’s behavior is second in brutality only to the 1st weekend, when this long assault began. He’s relentless.

This morning, I had a friend coming over to pick up and store some large items I hope to sell, or move to a roomier place in the future. Jax decided I had done property damage to a cheap door with an even cheaper coat of paint. I damaged a chair, too, which belongs to him, he yelled, and I’m “not to remove any property from the premises.”

“You wanted to donate that chair when I moved in, and I gave you $20 for it.”

I don’t have a receipt. It never happened. Fine, keep your chair. Fewer reminders.

But he wasn’t done screaming. I should have just paid him when he offered a “deal” on future utility bills, because now the heat is going to be ridiculous. “You leave it running at [blanking] 80 degrees when you’re not even home!”

“I had the heat below 70 all night and turned it to 76,” I answered calmly, “so it would stay on during my shower and get a jump on the house temp.”

He knows how low I run it overnight, even in winter. I had gone for 5 minutes to get coffee for my friend and me, and forgotten to turn it down. He was home when I got back, and he’d found something “real” to fault.

I took the bait. I lost it. I told him to go ahead and sue me for the utilities. I’d counter-sue for half my medical costs when I was sick, and full civil punitive for pain and suffering. I screamed at him all over again for intentionally inflicting mental duress. I don’t know that I’ve ever screamed like that. I wish I hadn’t, but I just lost it!

LEAVE ME ALONE.

He knew how sick I was. The look in his eyes at every confrontation over the last 4 weekends haunts me. He loves it!

The thing is, he knew I was suicidal, wrestled a pill bottle out of my hands this spring. It’s much worse, in my heart, than kicking a woman when she’s down. It’s getting her down, and then dealing the death blow while she’s down there. That’s how this has felt to me. And he just keeps doing it, weekend after weekend.

He knew his behavior could kill me. He could see, that first attack, that I was more frantic and terrified than I’d ever been before, even more than when I started swallowing a handful of pills that day in April and went to the hospital.

And he keeps at it. Every weekend. Cursing, mocking, utter hatred. Delight.

He loves it! His face, the sadistic delight. I can’t unsee it. And I just lost it.

I screamed today. I don’t remember yelling like that, ever. Even in my violent childhood.

He laughed and laughed. I’ve been in my room bawling. I haven’t eaten all day.

I tried so hard to stay above this. I cannot believe what a sick, cruel, petty man he is.

Jax spent the rest of a beautiful late season day to… stick around and keep me stuck in my room? Every time I walk out, he starts again. Last year, this was his busiest time.

I threw some things in my car and drove to work to donate them, just to get out of the house. I thought about grabbing fast food, but it’s making me sick again. I was excited on my day off to make a yummy, healthy dish – and hoping he’d have gone home to his loving family by the time I returned. Instead, she had joined him here. With the kid.

I’m starving, and terrified that they’re going to spend the night tonight AND tomorrow, just to stick it to me as hard as they can before I go.

I’ll never be the same. I know I’ll be alright. The biggest improvement will come on Sunday, just getting away from the fear of “What/When/How bad/How long…?” The rest will be continued healing, but I’ll never be the same. I’m changed.

Something broke this time, deep inside. I’m not the same.

I never thought I could feel regret like this again. After each relationship – good or bad – I’ve been able to appreciate and enjoy them, able to remember the love or the learning. Except one, who nearly killed me when I was 22. 22 years later, I’m leaving Jax, who has proven much worse than the man half my life ago. 2 men. At 22, and 22 years later.

When I realized it, I cried and cried. I begged the angels, “Please don’t take my beloved 222! Please, I can’t! Don’t poison my 222. I love my 222! I need my 222.”

Near-suicide after both. The scary difference is that suicide is sad when a person is young. She had so much promise, potential, intelligence, beauty, talent. If only she’d held on to learn that it gets better. When a middle-aged woman dies of mental illness, hey, I tried. I found out. I have an illness that kills people.

Why is it okay when a person dies of diabetes or cancer, but not mental illness? We all get or have something. With my disease, I might decide someday when I’m done, and it’s still just an illness. We all die.

Not today, but I don’t have delusions about the danger. Neither do I believe anymore that my condition improves over time. I’m worse now than I was 22 years ago, with no hope, fewer options, less money, faded beauty, and now serious, chronic physical pain.

I joke that I’m far too spiteful to kill myself. “I’ll die before suicide kills me!”

It’s probably still true. I am a Taurus, and there simply isn’t stubbornness like that in another sign. “I’ll be damned if…” is a very Taurean motivation. Little can threaten my determination to get through it, by god, but I don’t know the future. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want this pain.

It took time but I was able, at last, to put my spin on that devastating perversion of my beloved 222. Now, I see it a wake up call to appreciate my vulnerability, and understand that I must always take care. It’s not enough to coast along in moderate health, or delude myself that I’m fine because “I’m not a tortured kid anymore.”

I have an illness that requires maintenance and vigilance, all my life. Okay is no longer good enough. The Universal Smackdown came to tell me: The time is now to choose optimum, and do the work to achieve it.

First, I have to get out of here.

I really believe the angels are telling me that it’s now or never. For years, I’ve been feeling the shift, the urgency of the work. DO IT, CHRISTIE. That’s what I started this blog for. What I’ve done instead is catalog years of me repeating the dynamic of my childhood in nearly every relationship and experience I have. It isn’t up to me what happened in my youth. It’s only up to me what happens now.

I must figure out how to flip that switch, and stop attracting and creating such ugliness.

I’m in so much pain.

I just can’t believe what Jax can do and say to a woman whose health is so precarious, when he shares 50/50 responsibility for risking that health, and 100% responsibility for abandoning her when she got sick.

Worse, he brutalized me before my meds could take full effect, knowing exactly where I was on that timeline. We were still “friends.” I thought he cared about my recovery. He helped me fall; It followed logic and love to lean on him.

Jax has known all along that his behavior had more power to do damage, precisely because of where I am mentally and emotionally. Further, he knows the layers of family trauma that coat every nerve he’s pounced on.

He knows what he’s doing. My meds might have kicked in by now, if not for constant abuse. He knows I’ve been having panic attacks, and crying for months. He enjoys it.

I just don’t understand.

Four For Four … 444 … 44  … Sturdy and built-to-last, solid, strong … 2×22 … 2222222222222222 … The first angelic hello I heard. “We’ve got you.”

Oh fucking kay.

Anxiety Ramping Up

I’m starting to fear the emotions of change. For so long, I’ve been gripping through the trauma and fear of “What will they do next?” that I’ve been able to avoid the heartache and loss of this home I’ve loved so much for 2 years.

And the relationship that turned so very ugly, painful, and dangerous.

I loved him. He was my best friend. All of my girls had gone. He was my whole social life, my whole private life. We were happy in that house, for a long time.

I was. It’s embarrassing to realize in hindsight how much distance he was creating all that time. I wish I’d seen that he was yet another man lacking the courage to be truthful. I asked! Of course I was aware the connection was eroding. So he’s not strong enough to offer difficult honesty. Why hide it when approached with it?

Feelings are coming. Tears are returning.

My new apartment is fine. I’ll adjust. But it’s terribly dark, and it makes me sad for my cats. More than my plants, even, it makes me sad for my cats. My sunroom was such a joy to us. I couldn’t ever get a good shot of it, but it was so colorful and joyful, a place where a new, unexpected talent presented itself. It was a magic space, until that woman cornered me there, leaning me backwards over a table, and gave me the low-down on how it’s going down now that she owns this house. “Meaning no harm,” of course, with her finger in my face.

Since then, I’ve fairly completely forgotten feelings of pain. It was all panic.

Now it’s anxiety of a real and changing kind.

And I feel so much guilt and anxiety about my show. We open in 2 and 1/2 weeks and I’m not even memorized! I don’t know my dances! IT’S AWFUL.

What was I thinking, offering myself to a show I had no time or right to claim availability for? My character is spot on, but I don’t know my part!

I’m trying to memorize, but I still can’t keep my mind on the task at hand.

I’m freaking out.

And Then The Weekend Happened, Part 2

I’m so tired. I can’t even come home starving from rehearsal and hope to feed myself without a curse-laden verbal assault.

The whole family was home again. The adults had thrown away Jax’s remaining food (rancid and molding, left over for more than a month) and cleaned the fridge. His dishes were washed and draining, and they had moved on to laundry.

My food was still out sitting on the table. Why?

I opened the fridge. It was clean and turned all the way down to zero. Warm. Empty. Carrie hurriedly began to put my food back in the fridge. Jax was right behind her.

I asked him how long my food – milk and dairy – had been left out. An hour.

“An hour?”

Knock it the blank off, just a blanking hour, get the blank over it, get the blank out of here, we’re cleaning the blanking house, for blank sake, leave us the blank alone. And on and on and on until I left the kitchen.

I’d had a bowl of cereal 6 hours earlier, and danced for 4 hours. I’d forgotten my rehearsal snacks. I was shaking, I was so hungry. And he just launched into me, screaming and swearing. It’s illegal for a landlord to bar me free movement about the home I occupy, but the roommate loophole permits him to do anything. So he is.

I said simply, “It is not unreasonable for me to feel like you are wantonly destroying my property, because you are,” and went to my room.

They’re taking as much pleasure from warming perishable food as they are from freezing me out. (Why hadn’t she put it away and how long had the fridge been clean before I got home?) It’s been 59 degrees in the house for 3 days, until last night, when it dropped to 58. They finally turned the heat on today, for themselves, but she was bundled in blankets and sheets the other day when they were all here, yet again. Why didn’t he turn it on then? I think they came over that time just to see how cold the drastic seasonal shift had left the house for me. They weren’t here long, to my relief.

Jax came home twice after that, alone, just in-and-out stops, to drop off/ pick up whatever. He knew how cold it was. He wouldn’t turn the heat on for me. Or for his fish, for whom he used to heat the house during the day while we were both at work, to keep their water temp stable. He’s willing to torture his own animals to make me pay.

For what? His inability to remove me legally? He chose my departure date! I secured my new home according to his plans. I didn’t do this by myself. Any of it. Trust a friend, risk my health, wait ’til October to leave a once-loving home. I do not understand.

He completely changed personalities once the marriage was official, and he’s completely taken the reins since, and great pleasure in it. I think he’s evil.

He followed me to my room, and barked mocking intentions through the door to replace my food, demanding a list of it. Look in the fridge, if your intent is anything other than bringing hate and fear to my one remaining safe place. It’s empty, except for the food I had perfectly planned to last one week. I told him to drop it and leave me alone, shielding myself from him with my bedroom door, as I opened the front door and left.

I ordered drive-through junk food and ate in the car, sobbing. I have nowhere to go! My friends all moved, and everyone else in my “urban family” is old and unavailable.

I’m so tired.

Only one more weekend. I won’t be alone. They won’t harass me in front of my movers.

I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. I was sick and abandoned when I was mad at him, and he has officially surpassed the length of time that I spent yelling at him for something he shared and abdicated responsibility for. I do not understand. I’ve done nothing to these people.

I’ve done everything I could to stay out of their way, and they’ve done their best to brutalize me all month. I can’t stop crying today. It hurts.

Shouldn’t he be happily newly wed? Why is he so obsessed with me? Shouldn’t being in love and un-alone make it more bearable to tolerate space with a woman you hate? And why are you here if you hate me so much? If not merely to aim for my suffering, for some form of bizarre vengeance, and otherwise for the pleasure of pure cruelty? Go home! She has an apartment! I hadn’t seen him for a month until they decided to tag-team me in this gross campaign to – what? – kill me?

What a sick, petty, small, ugly, mean man. What are they here for? Torture! What else? They’ve cleaned cupboards and a fridge, just a couple of hours work that could easily wait until my lease is through. He knows how clean I am. He knows I’m not leaving this place a mess. It’s not a bit about prepping their home. It’s about making me uncomfortable while I’m in it.

They’re calculating, horrible people, and they actually have themselves convinced they’re victims of an unreasonable woman. You chose my departure date! How do you figure I have any control over this? My apartment is occupied until Sept. 30.

They’re here every weekend to party. WHY? I hadn’t seen Jax for a month, except for brief stop-ins. What’s changed? Only their first decision as a married couple, to torture a vulnerable woman – not yet stable on her meds – as a “family.”

I’m so tired. I’m worn down, depressed, and tired.

****

I came home from my binge, in a running car for over an hour, and Jax had, in fact, replaced the milk and mayo (not yogurt, sour cream, or eggs). Why do it, if you’re just going to save face after? They didn’t think they’d get caught, I imagine. He wouldn’t have done a thing if I hadn’t taken a picture of it (ridiculed, of course). I’d come home with fresh veggies for a big, yummy hash with eggs that I’d been looking forward to all day, so I snapped a pic of the fridge before hiding in my room.
fridgeThey left me alone after I got home the second time. But then, I didn’t leave my room.

One week. One week.