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.
Jax knew my work and rehearsal schedules. Both are set. 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.
Only twice did they “prep the house.” They were there to eat, drink, and dry hump. On the couch, in front of me. Once, when I passed to use the restroom, Jax moaned loudly, “You’re making me hard!”
Ew! (The kid was there!!!)
For their honeymoon, they chose to spend 3 weeks sharing a house with his ex.
The final 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 crowed loudly. “Darling, this is my faaaavorite love song, ever,” then sang along: “Home… is where I want to be…”
*giggle giggle, slurpy slurpy, giggle giggle*
Just the most unclever woman I’ve ever, heard. (And pitchy.) Be more obvious.
(I celebrate imperfect expressions of art. For god’s sake, I do community theatre. I champion people! But she’s just so fucking fake, I can’t help but enjoy that she’s also not that talented. Or smart. So I can be petty. When you’re hateful, I get a kick out of it.)
I do have to say, I did enjoy her gratuitous displays of domestic bliss for showing me something. Girl can’t belly laugh. Her forced guffaw is creepy. Hey, not everyone laughs with their whole body. That’s fine. But she so desperately needs to lord her triumph over me that her exultant attempts fail. It actually does help that she’s so stupid, she thinks she has something I want.
I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE, YOU IDIOT!
The other thing she did that amused me… I’m not kidding when I tell you, the woman is nothing but an eye-roll to me. Like, why do you need me so badly? She is desperate for my attention, puffs herself up whenever I’m near. It’s weird. Who cares? You will never see or hear from this bitch again. And I’m “pitiful,” remember? “Irrational.” What does my opinion matter? Why do you need the envy of a pathetic woman?
So… this made my night: Jax was bottling beer in the kitchen. She’s 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.”
There’d been no discussion of employment or anything having to do with adulting. Jax was teaching her son how to sterilize bottle caps, and Carrie was sitting at the table, “darling” and drinking. Apropos of nothing, she boasts about her job.
“Oh!” he asked, interested. “Do they have an observation area?”
“Well… no.” (Why then, one might wonder, did you invite him to watch what he can’t see?) “But,” she bragged, “I have to suit up to be in a 60-degree operatory…”
I walked on, rolling my eyes. Always, always rolling my eyes. She’s so dumb 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 emotional and heated 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 one exit, and a husband blocking the door 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 vindictive and evil, repeatedly, and expressed her 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 informed me, 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 gesticulating at a woman pinned in a closet.
“We’re both guilty,” I confessed, “but you fail to see your reflection. And that just amazes me.” She had no rejoinder and retreated to their room, inviting me to “grow some balls,” still yelling 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.
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 pissed 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.
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 in September, the note could well have named you.
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?