5.20.20

That Hindsight high lasted a good minute. That was a solid period of bonhomie.

The last two months have been hard, starting with that migraine in late March, followed by this ever-loving BACK! which I pulled three days before my birthday last month. Little did I know it would go on for a month, and longer, I now expect.

Still, I felt good. Positive, happy.

Thankfully, the back pain is livable now, making its ownership of my body known mostly upon rising, of course. I ease into standing, and go about my day. Unfortunately, predictably, it’s triggered a massive fibro flare. I’ve taken it all with a sense of humor, resolve, and purpose.

I fell out of yoga after the cheilectomy (big toe surgery) in November. It’s a long, slow recovery. I passed an important date on May 11th: Six months. I can expect final swelling to be gone anytime in the next two. I did notice a nice improvement in late April. It’s consistently more comfortable, albeit just a little, and I’ll take it!

My body is so tight and resisting! This back debacle has got me back to my mat, in the privacy of my own home. The floor was always there, but I’m lazy. What can I say? I’ve been doing baby stretches every day, regardless of pain. Sometimes I just lay there, feet up, if that’s all the back will permit that day. The strain was going along, recovering nicely if slowly, when BAM! Three weeks into “getting better,” I reverted to the inability to stand, for another three days!!! At that point, my mood began to plummet. What the fuck?

It’s one thing when you can identify a cause, but I have done NOTHING in quarantine but study Spanish, stretch, and practice the guitar. Not one thing warranted this relapse, and here it was. I was immobilized.

I was fed up.

In all my complaining, I’ve avoided the real reason I couldn’t take it anymore. Penny up and popped an aural hematoma. Remember Cricket’s cute cricky ear? It resulted from surgery to correct aural hematoma! And now Penny? What the actual fuck?!

cricket in the er

“My dandruff is out of control, because I’m terrified in the emergency room, and I puffed it out of of my undercoat like a scared chicken pops out its feathers, but isn’t my cricky ear adorable?”

The tech at Banfield was stunned, having never heard of the condition in cats. It’s more common in dogs, but both my girls get to have their go at it. The kicker is that Penny’s heart murmur – rated 4 out of 6 – prevents her from having surgery. All we could do was drain and fill it back up with steroid, hoping that would reabsorb and treat it. It didn’t. Blood rushed back, darker, bigger, and angrier. Our only recourse was repeated draining and filling. My poor kitty was traumatized.

She had three appointments in a week-and-a-half. The second course has done better than the first, and I’m encouraged by that. We had a follow up appointment yesterday, that I expected would be a sign off of sorts: Continue to watch and hope the small pocket that’s left finishes draining and retreats permanently.

During Covid, I instructed Penny repeatedly not to get sick right now. I’ve kept my sense of humor about that, even while it forces me to drop my baby off all day – separated from her mom, stuck in her carrier, terrified – for a brief treatment that otherwise would have been done in-room, where I could be with her and take her home straight away. She hides under the bed now. This is so devastating for me. I’m fighting tears! My kitty doesn’t trust me. Everything she’s ever known is unsure now, and she doesn’t feel good!

(Being cooped for so many hours in her little carrier has aggravated her arthritis to a point that she won’t put weight on her front right paw! What had been, with one medicated treat per day, an almost imperceptible limp upon waking is now a heart-breaking hop!)

Penny’s old age is harder than Cricket’s. Cricky had thirteen years with one emergency that gave her the silly ear that so suited her funny offishness. Finally, there were three months at the end, when we fought but never got the better of a disease that ended her sweet, gentle life. Penny is falling apart piece by piece, and it’s brutal! A bad heart precipitates teeth that hurt, because she can’t have her annual dental cleaning under anesthesia (and I didn’t know pets need their teeth cleaned, until mine were old and started having dental problems). A mistake I made – using essential oils to freshen the air – gave her chronic bronchitis! (This was another moment I was grateful not to mother humans. The guilt is unbearable.) And now she can’t step on her front paw.

And the ear condition her sister wore so well lingers, frightening and uncomfortable.

God in heaven, let her passing be soft and beautiful like Cricket’s. Let me sing and hold her in my arms. Please. With Dr. Kpat and the beautiful Banfield team that’s taught me as much as my two girls have. They love Penny. They see more of her, because I just didn’t understand until diabetes took Cricket that they have to see the doc throughout their lives, just like we do. It seems so obvious, but I just didn’t know. They’re my first. They’re my only. They’re my world.

The team at Banfield all tell me how sweet and affectionate Penny is, how they love her little chirp. Elise delivered her to me curbside after one appointment and confided, “She’s my favorite lady.” I believe her. Penny’s the best thing on Earth. I tell her every day.

Yesterday’s appointment was to be 10-15 minutes only, thank god! Unlike the previous appointments, I could wait at the curb for her and hope to put this all behind us.

Enter Rich, my landlord. He offered a ride. I was so grateful! I hadn’t quite known what I was going to do. I couldn’t ask an Uber to wait indefinitely, could I? I imagine I would have asked for Galen’s help. But Rich offered.

I asked the night before if he was still willing . “Yep,” he assured me. “Remind me an hour before.”

“I will. Thanks so much!”

I did as instructed, and yesterday I tore my poor kitten from under the bed, shoved her in a dreaded cage, whereupon she started crying, and I ran next door to grab my ride, who wanted me to sit and watch the end of a game show! Not only would this potentially make us late, but my baby was alone and terrified right now! He rolled his eyes at me.

I sat and waited, just dying inside. When the program didn’t end but went to a final cliff-hanging commercial break, I pleaded with Richie, “We’re gonna be late!”

HE LOST IT. Rage!!! He was up and screaming. Violent, red-faced, vein-popping, murderous, immediate RAGE.

I left. He chased me. “Fine!” he screamed. “Let’s go, then! I’ll miss it cuz you can’t wait two goddam minutes!”

I went home, locked the door, and canceled the appointment. He kept screaming. I shut the windows, so he banged on the door. I got off the phone and stepped out. I couldn’t subject my already traumatized cat to that hostility. “It’s okay,” I reported, breezy. “I’ve rescheduled. Don’t worry about it.” Nothing irregular here.

That made it worse. Now he’s pacing to the garage and back, to his truck and back, to their door and back. “I emptied my whole day for you!…” (He just finished a job, and would have gone to the lake today if not for a days-long high wind event he knew was coming. He’s a Navy man with a boat on the Great Salt Lake. He knows the forecast. He was staying home.) (And he offered.)

“I’m sorry I got impatient.” Neutral face.

Still screaming, he didn’t hear me.

“I’m sorry I inconvenienced you.” Neutral tone.

“No, you’re not!” he shot back, venomous. “You enjoy it! You did it on purpose!”

I went back inside. I tried. He raged on, inside, up the stairs, to Molly’s office and kept her from working for more than an hour, screaming blame and hatred of me.

I never matched his energy. Not once. I did try briefly to break through but, having done all I could, I removed myself. This had nothing to do with me.

I did everything right. In the past, his behavior so closely resembled the dynamic of my childhood home that I’ve fallen into ineffective battles. This time, I walked away.

I’ve told him before not to treat me like this. This time, he won’t. He’ll never get close enough. They’re my landlords, not my friends. They don’t have access to anything but my apartment, with my permission.

In time it will blow over, but I’m finally permitting myself to cut Rich out of the deepest warmth of my heart. I’d already removed Molly, the true homeowner (who makes it known to both of us all the time). She’s passive-aggressive and demeaning. When held to account, she excuses herself as “blunt,” a lie that only fools her.

There’s a difference between truthful and blunt. Honesty says, “I esteem you enough to say the hard thing.” Blunt doesn’t care if it hurts you. Indeed, the right to wound is an entitlement of the rude. “Just sayin’.”

And Molly’s not even blunt. She’s cutting. I hold passive-aggressive people in utter disdain. A healthier response would be to dislike passive-aggression, but it would be dishonest. I hate the people, and I confess to feeling superior. I think it’s the weakest, most cowardly, selfish, juvenile, deluded interaction. And who do you think you are, some arbiter of everything that’s right and good? You’re an asshole. That’s blunt.

You said it. Own it.
It doesn’t take long for me to remove those who pretend away petty meanness.
Gone. Outta my heart.

The thing I hate most about passive-aggressive people is that they don’t think they’re aggressive. IT’S IN THE NAME, YOU IDIOT.

The irony is that she’s totally pleasant company. I like her! I’ve never had a relationship like that, in which there’s little regard but I enjoy the person. I take what she has to teach me (landscape architecture), and retreat when her ugliness rears its head. It makes me feel broad and open-minded, to enjoy someone I find basic and cruel, haha! Until she says something triflin’ again and then I hate her. Then I don’t care. Cuz she’s triflin’.

Rich, on the other hand, goes longer between periods of abuse. I get lulled into the friendship anew. Until the next time. And there will always be a next time. I did nothing to deserve this. There was no extra stressor, in particular, to precipitate it. (All the others I could see coming.) Out of the blue: Rage, blame, hatred.

Thankfully, we pretty much keep to ourselves most of the time. I’ll stay invisible for a good long while with this one, then reemerge eventually. I’ll weed and maintain the flowerbeds and share the garlic I planted when it harvests.

Penny is not long for this world, bless her. I’m preparing myself, tearfully. (Yesterday, not surprisingly, the dam broke. I sobbed, loudly, for half an hour, quietly on and off for the rest of the day.) Life goes on as usual, nothing that hasn’t happened before.

There’s a part of me that so desperately wants to leave, but I promised Penny I wouldn’t do that to her again, and I don’t want another roommate. I love living alone. I’m so self-entertaining. I have my little to-do lists. I’m keeping up with my 2020 goals, except stretching daily. (Thank you, back strain from hell, for keeping me on task.) I think I’m hilarious. I laugh all day long, and I have krcl. Best music on the planet!

And my tiny apartment is so pretty. So here I’ll stay, unless Molly kicks me out. I live in fear of that. It’s why I don’t push back any harder than I do. And I’m glad. I learned a lot. It makes no difference to abusive people what you to say. You don’t matter. So fuck ’em.

I couldn’t learn that in the context of my family. There’s simply no objectivity. I’m so conditioned to make room in my heart for people who harm me. (It’s a Taurus thing, too. We hold onto relationships longer than any sign. We’re loyal to a fault, staying by your side long after others would have left. If you cross that final line, and we make it very clear, you don’t exist. That’s it.)

I feel lighter having taken back their capacity to hurt me. They don’t matter. They’re exacting, insensitive people and I don’t fucking care.

I’m getting better at responding in healthy ways. I’m cutting out so many people! The time to launch is ever closer. I can feel it happening, now!

The friends I chose while I was sick and acting out of maladjusted habit are getting fewer and fewer. I get to build a community of friends who support each other, forgive their own and each other’s shortcomings, apologize and mean it, and live happy, consistently, for the love of all that’s holy! Everyone around me is as fucked up as I was. (Imagine.) How is it that I’m the only one who sees it and wants to change?

Well, I will. I am. Someday soon, my circle will mirror that back to me. How wonderful!

Molly will raise my rent again this summer. It will officially get me into the range of “house poor,” but such is life in Small Lake City anymore. Who do you think you are, SLC? San Francisco, with rents like these? Fuck you, too, while we’re at it, haha!

When Penny goes, I GO.

You know, when I realized I was going to have to do the big scary thing: Become a globe-trotting, amazing, dynamic, fearless woman of a certain age (rather than the Chief Lover and CEO of a family unit, which is what I actually thought would happen when I talked all big), I started to panic. I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it! I just wanted to be a mom!

Now, I’m laying the groundwork for a future I’d considered empty swagger. Instead, what I said for two decades – “If I don’t have kids, I’m moving to Bolivia and teaching English” – became my instructions to the Universe. I will teach and take a leap into the unknown, and I’m getting excited for it. Scared as hell, and so excited!

And someday, someday off in the near future, my fucking back will release, the world will reopen safely, and I will go to yoga, never to neglect my beautiful body again!

And my cat will live for a few more years, and I’ll love her so well while she’s here.

Today is hard. I feel like crying a bit, and curling up in blankies. Instead, I’ll go stretch and make a warmy soup to enjoy on this cold Spring day the wind blew in.

penny's hematoma

“My ear is full of blood and I feel lousy.”

I feel better having written this. I was in danger of having another rainy day mood. Match the weather and wallow in it. Instead, I feel empowered and… fine.

Thank you, 2020! You really are working for me! What was a playful resolution to post on every “20” became a fortuitous rescue this month from a shitty day.

Pray for kitty? Thank you.

(P.S. I’m reading Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way.)
(P.S. Fuck is my favorite word.)
(P.S. The sun came out. It’s a bright, crisp, beautiful day out there, and I’m smiling.)
fucking lady
Later that day… soup
I made rainy day soup! I even used filtered water for the base. The whole thing is from scratch, and I made it all up! Turns out, I’m a good cook. I just didn’t like my mother. That’s sad, for real, but whadya gonna do? Figure it out later!

(We passed another six-month benchmark in May: Mother hasn’t spoken to me since November. She didn’t even call after my surgery. None of them did. They’re so fucked up.)

Oh, and did I grow my own cayenne peppers, dehydrate them, and pulverize as needed in my own mini mortar and pestle? Of course I did. Fucking overachiever.

Hindsight 2020!

copper mule

I make a fine cocktail, too. I don’t have fresh limes, but I have lime juice. And why not? #drinkingsolo #pandemic2020

Quarantine Freebie!

Fender offered THREE MONTHS FREE online lessons!

I joined today, and already I’m better than I started. In fact, I took a couple steps back; My hold was problematic. During Rock Camp, I struggled. I was probably the weakest in class. It was surprising. I did really well at Boise State. If only I’d followed through!

Well, I’ma give myself a big fat break on that one. I was the state of Idaho’s key witness in a stalking case that put my attacker behind bars for three years. I also was a young, young woman just leaving the trauma of sustained childhood abuse, with a future of mental chaos ahead of me and no coping skills whatsoever for weathering the storms of life, big or small. It’s a bloody miracle I survived, so there’s that.

So here we are! Starting anew in midlife, like a fucking rockstar!

At camp, I kept asking the “right” way to hold my guitar. The answer was always the same: “However’s comfortable.” Yes, there’s truth to that, but there’s also proper technique. (And I was too new to feel comfortable!) When you’re five years old in piano, they teach you to make your hand the shape of a bear claw. What’s correct on guitar? I’ll start there, and grow into my comfort. It was very frustrating for me not to have time to work through communication differences to get the information, as I need it.

In the FIRST lesson, Fender showed me proper hold. (Was that so hard?) So I’m backwards for a bit, reluctantly pacing myself on fingering exercises, rather than skipping straight to easy songs and learning their chords, like yesterday. (Jolene! Jolene! Jolene! Joleeeeeeeeene!) It’s funny how different brains set us up for gaps and gaffes in processing and understanding. So odd and diverse, the human animal.

I’m SO GRATEFUL! FENDER! This is just what I was asking for at camp! The link was posted on the camp Facebook page, so I’m still considering this part of that wonderful experience. This is camp. I’m still there. Yay!

Fortunately, I’m so beginning beginner yet that I don’t have far back to go to work the basics. This is, in truth, just in time. I needed to be thrust into the fire to break through my own barriers of precious ego and loss of control. I’m ever grateful that I gave myself that gift, and I dearly love my camp instructors. The girl who kept answering the same, despite endless rephrasing and efforts to find another reply, was such a beautiful person, with the kindest, most patient demeanor. I was tremendously grateful for her attention. She kinda became my personal tutor as class outpaced me (all day every day.) (I was really behind.) She’s statuesque and breathtakingly beautiful. I was intimidated by her on sight, and she’s among the most gentle energies I’ve encountered. Her name is Snow. She feels like a soft storm – big fluffy flakes – in a dense, quiet wood.
snow falling

Intention

the best thing

I’m really proud of that choice. I’m excited to keep doing the work. I hope to feel less judgemental about my family’s unwillingness to look any deeper at our collective functional ability, and more grateful for my strength and willingness to do so. I like the future that intention brings to my life, and that’s all I need to concern myself with.

I do feel alienated and alone. They don’t want to participate in anything below the surface. To them, our time together would be great if I’d just shut up. They don’t recognize that we share that. I never bring it. I leave my politics at the door until it begins to feel dirty not to voice a different view. Unfortunately, by then I’m upset, and we’ve never learned to navigate differences or challenging emotions together. Never. Consider that. It’s crazy, and it’s my reality, my whole life.

They don’t see a problem. It’s my problem. It’s not a far leap to perceiving that I am the problem. I get it. I’m the scapegoat, as far back as I recall. The most maddening thing is that I actually am! I fall so neatly into my part every time I cross that threshold, it infuriates me. I feel powerless and disgusted that I CAN’T resist my role in their context.

Intellectually, I can give myself a break, inasmuch as I can’t do it alone. Emotionally, that feels like a lie. I’m a failure. And seething! Every time I visit.

I cannot change a systemic problem alone… I am alone… I can’t go.

Mom disowned me again last month, when I told her why I wouldn’t be coming home for the holidays. The anxiety that starts in October. Anticipating the rhetoric, feeling at once disregarded and erased. I DON’T MATTER. That’s all I get from them, whether they mean it or not. It’s the truth. They don’t care to shelve their ideology long enough to maintain neutral space where everyone feels included and valued. I’m the only one bothered by that, so get over it. You don’t matter.

It was pretty watershed, actually, my fight with mom. We both got emotional, started our bad habits, and we both reigned it in! Again and again, in one really hard conversation. For the first time in history. Seriously, in all my 46 years, we’ve never had a painful discussion that didn’t devolve into screaming and abuse, both ways.

It was a sad victory; I regret hurting her. And I’m mad, still. It’s not unreasonable to ask my family to choose impartial topics while I visit. I’m not safe there, and I’m not lying about it anymore. I sent my mom an email pointing out our success. We returned to respectful tone, repeatedly. Progress! But she was fully triggered by then and went crazy via text, saying all the insane things that show me how much further down the rabbit hole she’s falling the older she gets.

(And just like before – all the befores – she activated the “phone tree,” and they circled the wagons. I’m blocked from every number. Except my oldest brother, who’s a big sinner like me, and never goes home.)

The truth is, my mother is fragile. She’ll outlive me, most like, but she does not have the resources anymore to cope with any stress or upset, at all. The end. It’s on me.

I accept. It’s a sad truth of my life that my family is a dictatorship, not a home. There’s no diversity or dissent, or you’re out. You’re bad, intentionally. Fighting is futile, and it only causes pain and regression for the two most sensitive, vulnerable [mentally-ill] people there: my mom and myself. She can’t act any other way, but I can.

We deserve peace, and this is the way. It’s so fucking sad! It feels wrong in every way, but it isn’t. It’s love that accepts what we can’t change. It hurts my heart. I feel it everywhere. In my toes, everywhere! It kills me. It really is the tragedy of my life.

I’ll visit in summer (if/when permitted). I love those babies, and crops of ’em are being born all over the place now that my nieces are grown and married. I play with the kids and don’t go near the adults. I’ll have to pay for a hotel, and that’s fun, too. I guess??? Ugh. All so unnecessary, but nothing else is workable for us.

I’m ready to put that to bed and build my own foundation for lasting, meaningful family. Mine is coming. After a big, scary adventure (Bolivia and unknown travel, solo!), some partnership is coming. I’m getting ready for the life of my dreams.

Ooh! Let’s just write it! This is the truth of what I want, and I have no reason to doubt that it’s mine already:

I want to meet a man whose children are grown. I’m gonna be Grandma Christie someday!!! We’ll live someplace beachy. I have no idea where, but I will live in mild humidity and 80 degrees year-round with another person who looked honestly at the hard stuff and built something new.

And then this hot, middle-aged gal comes along? You lucky devil. You hit gold!

Me, too. Let’s go.

mexico 2010

Mexico 2010

peru 2011

Peru 2011

I want to live where people dance all the time. With a man who gets up and dances.

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.

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.

Every weekend.

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.

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

GO HOME!!!!!

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.”

What?

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.
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 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.

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 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?

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. (My only physically abusive relationship since childhood.) 22 years later, Jax has proven worse than the man half my life ago. (Same is true of childhood. Bruises heal. Mental abuse sticks.)

Two men. At 22, and 22 years later.

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

Near suicide after each relationship.

The scary difference is that suicide is sad when a person is young. “She had so much promise, intelligence, beauty, talent. If only she’d held on. It gets better…”

When mental illness kills a middle-aged woman, it was a tragic, noble effort (at best). I tried. I found out. I have an illness that kills people.

Why is it okay when a person dies of diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, but not mental illness? We all 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. But 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 repeating the dynamic of my childhood in nearly every relationship and experience. 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.

Whole New Exit

So let me back up.

I felt sure Jax was taking his trip, because he spent the night in my house on Sunday, alone. Or meant to.

He hasn’t slept in the house for a month. Her car left; His truck has been absent as long as he has; I had no reason to believe I wasn’t alone in the house again.

After the box prank, I called my buddy to ask if I could hide yet more stuff in his stuffed shed until the move, and I unloaded all my rage and heartache over the kid and the awful parents who keep subjecting a child to that anxiety just to spite me.

“Christie, I’m still here,” Jax announced from the kitchen.

Well, naturally, I was mortified… but it didn’t last. I’m not ashamed to call bad behavior what it is. I wasn’t doing anything to him. I was experiencing my own life, and he’s impacting it. I’m allowed to shed tears and blow off steam to a trusted friend who’s getting me through this.

So… he was staying at his “old” house. We’re just 4 blocks from Trax, Salt Lake’s public transit, which goes straight to the airport from our place, in less than 15 minutes. His trip was scheduled for the next day, Mon. Sept. 18th.

He was going! Why else would he leave his family for the night? A drive first thing in the morning to the airport from their suburb could take over an hour round-trip, on a busy morning trying to get a kid to school and a woman off to work. All signs pointed to departure. I was going to be left alone! (I was a little anxious to be around her, now that she would no longer have to play “nice girl” in front of her new man, but the police had instructed me to have my phone on video, at the ready, and I planned on it.)

I wrapped up my call and set about – shaking – selecting “most important” boxes and planning to load them into my car, to deliver to Marko’s during lunch the following day. But Jax was in the driveway on the phone. Soon he got in the old caddy that sits in our drive, operating but unused, and drove away.

I didn’t pack my car for hours, awaiting his return, but he didn’t come back Sunday.

Or Monday, which was his departure date. No one came on Monday.

Today, her car was in the driveway when I got home from work. Imagine my surprise when Jax was inside, too, helping her clean.

Perhaps he had planned to go until he overheard me. I imagine he’s telling himself that I’m going to attack his innocent bride the moment she’s not protected by her big strong man, that he’s keeping me in line. (I see him falling in line.)

I suspect, however, that even he can see the act, whether he knows it or not.

(I’m understanding that a whole lot of Jax’s behavior is unconscious and convenient. Stale, old girlfriend of years lives down the street. Bright, new girl moves in and suddenly, she’s out, I’m in. Until I’m sad, stale, and old. Bright, new girl shows up at a holiday party and he marries her 2 months later over another holiday? I’m embarrassed I dated this guy!)

Deep down, though, Jax doesn’t trust Carrie not to aggravate the situation for sport, and he reasonably expects me to stand up to her, though I had already decided not to, and discussed with the police what I should do in his absence. I told them – with respect to their experience of people behaving badly – of my fear of duplicitous, dangerous women, and the fear that this might be a real one.

Perhaps he had spent the night Sunday at my house, because it was going to be ON starting Monday the 18th. They’d made such a big deal of me being displaced this week, it’s possible they were going to ramp up the pressure and discomfort, and I would have been facing a good deal more than the “2 more weeks” I was set to survive.

But he overheard me. It was the best thing for me.

I did notice that the boy was not in the home awaiting my arrival. Jax couldn’t deny that that behavior was reprehensible, and to continue to expose a frightened child to me would simply prove me right. And Jax will do anything to blame me for everything.

I did feel that sick flood of nerves I get every time they come to the home, upon seeing her car, and then finding him, but I needed to get a snack in before rehearsal, so I went to the kitchen, where they were.

Carrie was showboating; Jax was deferential. He really doesn’t remember taking that box, or her taking it, but he can’t insist anymore that it didn’t happen, because I’m right. He was that drunk. And he can’t deny their shoddy care of a boy he committed to parent. Fun-dadding in the back yard does not a quality father make.

Without any intention to do so, I shamed him into respecting me in this space.
Thank you, angels.

Rehearsal was brief (which freaks me out; We open in 3 and 1/2 weeks!) and I was home an hour earlier than they expected. That cute kid was dancing his heart out to some pumping music, on the coffee table! He saw me, jumped down, and ran to the kitchen. And Jax was ready to wrap it up, now.

“Alright, we’re done here. Let’s head home.”

But she hadn’t had enough time to shove her happy life in my face again and didn’t want to go anywhere. Trying desperately not to show me how hard he was trying to save face, and trying desperately not to have to tell her what I’d said about her shitty parenting, he played “cool” in the most sad, comical fashion.

Meanwhile, I was starving. I’d only snacked since lunch. I’d stopped at the store for late dinner. I needed to cook and be off to bed before midnight. I’m not hiding anymore!

In her mind, she’s finally got me just where she wants me, an audience! They’d started their home renovation by deep cleaning the kitchen, and she wanted to gloat. (I think she wants me to know she did theatre. Honestly.)

“Let’s go outside,” Jax said casually to his step-son.

“It’s dark,” he refused. He doesn’t want his mom alone in the house with me, bless him.

“Let’s smoke,” Jax said to Carrie.

“We’re replacing this stove, darling.” she told me her doting husband. “It’s disgusting.”

Jax chuckled at his happy new bride making her home hers. “Of course.”

Tomorrow! Get them here tomorrow! I want an estimate, now.”  *giggle, giggle*

“Tomorrow!?” *chortle, chortle* “Alright!” He picked up her purse. “I need a smoke.”

“I want that gone, and that! And this is disgusting!”

“Okay,” he obliged, certainly for the first time, because she’s saying all of this to him.

“I’ll pay for it!” she let me know. “I want these gone!” (In Brooklynese. Did she play Adelaide? I’m not kidding! Darling everything, and an accent.)

(More type-casting for Jax: Attraction to theatrical girls in need.)

Meanwhile, I’m cleaning veggies and barely containing a laugh. I mean, this girl is just stupid. She really thinks I care. Or that this is news to me! I knew they weren’t selling the minute I learned of their marriage. She wanted me out “yesterday,” because she didn’t want to pay a cent more on rent, now that she’s a homeowner.

She really is just dumb, and values her worth and that of all women only on how far looks can take them. (Like, dumb dumb: Post-it notes around the house reveal plans to “rechalk” the tub and fix “cabnets.” Perhaps she’ll have their 3rd syllable installed.)

For me, it was just a total shift. I feel sorry for her. I don’t need to. It’s none of my business, soon, and in my experience, a complex mind has a wrought a rather convoluted life. Whadya know? I do envy her! Simplicity looks nice.

People don’t do things repeatedly that don’t work. Shaking her tail has produced a desired result all her life. Hell, I’m a natural coquette. I resent that it works, because it’s sexist. I play it onstage for pleasure, and many festy personas are flirty for community entertainment, and my own. But none are dumb, because I love my brain.

For the vacuous cutie, ignorance is bliss.

Jax is a weak man, who doesn’t want a woman to “encourage his greatness,” we’ll say. He wants an easy life, sex, and love. And who can call that unreasonable?

I want so much more. Real connection is impossible for me without the whole self.

(Jax heard me tell Marko, “Their neeeeed to make me suffer their joy completely negates it, and they’re just too stupid to know it. I never loved him like that. It’s why I couldn’t begrudge him meeting a nice girl at a party who did! I wanted my friend happy, but he was never more than that and a potential co-parent. I wanted it to be more, but it wasn’t. I was settling, too. They think I’m just broken up over here, but it was never heartbreak for me. It was not dealing with me straight, and then skipping out. That’s not even a friend. That’s a lie. That’s total disregard for me as a person. It’s betrayal.”

I did also joke, “Never promise crazy a baby,” because I’m hilarious. Truly, though, I was a goner at the word go. I saw nothing else, not even how seriously depressed I was.

We were friends who loved each other, and saw an opportunity to maybe get the family thing right because it wasn’t complicated by intense romantic feelings. Instead, neither of us was bonded to the other, in spite of the intimacy we played at, and only one of us was bound to a goal, a dream, and, yes, love. The sex was disappointing, because we weren’t in love. And he’s a fat man of certain age. There.)

And I don’t fucking care. That girl’s a joke and her husband’s in his place, for both of us.

Because I’m right about what they’ve done and he can’t pretend it away anymore.

****

I’m so close to closing this chapter, I’m almost embarrassed to keep writing about it ad nauseum in blogspace, but because of the move and rehearsal, I simply don’t have time to also be recording cogent points in my journal.

I’m free-writing everything at this point just to document it for my personal progress. I’m reminded of my power and security – that connection to Source that they just won’t let me sever (They’re bigger than my big ego! I can’t fail utterly! I’M NOT ALONE) – and I still have so much to learn and chart about how I got so very far from my truth.

Also, I’m just not fucking hiding anymore. It helps me to process in this way, and I’m doing it. It’s possible I’ll send this all to the draft bin when I’m done, but I don’t know anymore if I want to “delete” him. He was a frightening lesson I needed.

I feel as far away from who I really am in this debacle, that the feeling today is almost as palpable as it was quitting cocaine 10 years ago (all by myself, thank you very much) (and my best friend, who refused to see me in the end, even when I wasn’t high). It’s as though I’m coming back into my body. I was GONE, then and now, and it’s frightening to realize that you didn’t even know it!

To have weak people victimize you when you’re vulnerable is terrifying.

(TENS YEARS CLEAN!!! I am BOSS!)

Don’t let your shield down again, but don’t let the shield be a barrier. Be wise. Be secure. Be joyful. Be brave. Be honest. You already are. 

I got this. So I created space and energy that drew sick and selfish people to me. I WAS SICK AND SELFISH. It’s Universal Law. Get up. Get out. Get right.

I’ve done it before. I know how. I already feel – in spiritual time – that this is over. Jax’s new behavior echoes my intuition. I’m safe. I’m out. It’s just a formality at this point, to leave on the 1st, and my healing this time won’t take as long as it did 10 years ago.

Luscious Jackson sang to me during the Cocaine Years, “It takes a strong man to satisfy a strong woman, yes it does.”

Well, I’ve been triflin.’ Knock it off, Christie. Don’t restore your strength to attract that strong man, but knowing that when you’re truly powerful and well again, you cannot abide the petty, for any reason, ever again.

Final Analysis

I’ve landed. I feel good. I’m back to feeling the improvements in my health. I’m back to productivity in my move and in rehearsal. I’m not distracted. I’m grooving!

I’m amazed! It took me less than a week! WOW. Well done, Christie!

This breakdown has taught me things and reminded me of things I hadn’t realized or had forgotten. The way they ended this relationship will actually help me in the end.

Right now, I feel an old ache – the one I was living with before abject terror replaced everything on earth under heaven. That sorrow for loss of a dream, for mistakes you can’t take back, for failure to love someone in action they way you felt for them in your heart. Ache. Like a breakup.

What I’m realizing, however, is that Jax did me the biggest favor. There’s satisfaction in knowing that if he were aware, he’d hate that he helped me, haha! Oh, that just made sad. Oh, this is so convoluted, ugly, and sad. All so unnecessary! *sigh*

It is what it is.

I cried all summer, and raged intermittently. I crucified him when I was angry, weak, and still deep in my illness. We made a decision together to risk me getting sick, and when I did he took off. He knows my abandonment issues. I’m not penalizing myself anymore for being exactly who I am. I’m not lying to myself anymore about my experiences, just to make them easier to bear. I’ve been telling myself that his indifference toward me in my hour of need wasn’t something he was doing to me, necessarily. It was just my own baggage, independent of him. But that’s not true. He knew exactly who I was. He turned his back on a girl he helped make sick. That happened.

I was abandoned before I knew what that was, and it’s who I am today. I’ve made a beautiful life since then, but I was sick and Jax abandoned me. The happenstance of meeting Carrie was unfortunate timing that hurt, but I didn’t hold that over him. It was the whole thing, before and after.

Yes, he’d found a new love, but he shouldn’t have left this one before he saw her safely through the bout of illness he helped create. He did it anyway. He didn’t care. I wasn’t easy or fun anymore, so I wasn’t worth it to him. Whether that was operating in him completely, or with any level of awareness, is immaterial. That’s how he left me.

As I began to recover, I appreciated knowing how disposable a woman is to him when she’s no longer cute. Fair enough. Honestly, that’s fine. But I’m not apologizing anymore for being a challenging person. I realize with some anxiety that if I want to ever feel truly partnered and satisfied myself, I’m going to have to accept another, who is, like me, complicated and deep-thinking. I hope that person is also goofy as hell and laughs with his whole body. I hope he loves to dance. I hope he’s got a nice ass.

I also don’t care if I never meet “him.” I’m getting really excited to get on with my life, with me. I’m darling. I’m smart. I’m interesting. I’m devoting the next year of this new lease to music, painting, bellydance, drumming, yoga, and downsizing.

This is the real lesson I hope to take into the future with me: to love myself as the complicated, demanding person I am. I’ve confronted this mistake before, in the early years of festival life when I pretended to be the breezy, low-maintenance hippie chick who goes with the flow. I don’t. I plan. I worry. I make lists to cross-check lists. And it takes us, too!

If everyone was just “Hey, man!” nothing would get done. With me, it lands. It sets up. It gets a beer. It dances its ass off. And finally, it leaves no trace and goes home. I am who I am, and I’m a necessary cog, goddammit. The more I try to be someone I’m not, the more nagging my real traits become, truly! Just embrace and love them, and turn them into the strengths they were always meant to be. Geez, woman!

The Universal Smackdown has precipitated a movement. Starting Oct. 1, I enter 365 days of Shucking The Superfluous Shit.

Oh, I’ve already lost 15 lbs! Thanks, assholes. No, really, thank you. That was the worst diet ever, but I’m gonna look amazing in my striptease!

(P.S Don’t gain and lose weight in your 40s! Whose neck waddle is this!?!)

Red Flags in the Rear View

I “processed” but didn’t publish Hard Day when I wrote it, but after events of the previous weekend, my first impression of Jax’s wife is relevant now. I was unimpressed with machinations meant to tell me me who’s “got him now.” (Honey, this ex don’t care.) It wasn’t easy, but have at it. I honestly wished them well. I felt empathy and compassion for her, and I loved Jax once. I wanted him to be happy with a nice girl.

My co-worker had warned me to be mentally prepared: This new girl might want me out of the way sooner than Jax promised.

“Oh, he wouldn’t do that.” I answered.

I did pause, though, considered it, and thanked her. Sadly, my co-worker was right.

Jax is the author of his own behavior, but, boy, did I get a taste of his wife! I know exactly who’s fueling this push out the door. That woman scares me! Disingenuous, manipulative, gratuitous. I don’t care, so far as she doesn’t factor into my my life after Oct. 1, but she has affected me greatly, and continues to do so now.

Those people terrorized me. Carrie is just getting what she wants how she always has. Once I’m no longer in the way of what she wants, she disappears for me. That doesn’t mean she didn’t scare me, scar me, even, but it will all be over soon.

As for Jax, he mattered and won’t go away so quickly. I’m surprised at the depth of his cruelty. There’s a place in him that feels like he has rights that he has not. I’m really trying not posit myself above him, but dear god!

I got dirty in that relationship, and I’ve learned enough to know, “There but for the grace of god go I.” We are each capable of anything. All of it. There but for the grace of god…

That said, I am seeing the red flags in his history. They seemed innocuous. They belonged to youth and arrogance, and Lord knows I’m about the most vainglorious person I know. It’s one of my primary life works, to balance the pull of superior/inferiority of an unhealthy ego. Certainly, too, my youth is nothing but error. That’s youth.

But in the part of our relationship where we regaled one another with the adventures and follies of coming up in the world, there’s one story, in particular, that didn’t sit right with me. (The other was flat-out embezzlement! As the manager of a restaurant, he was  head of a theft ring from corporate. Fuck the man, I say, as loudly as anyone, but multiple thousands of dollars?! That’s beyond indiscretions like stealing time or office supplies. I took issue, but chalked it up to getting caught in group mentality and youthful self-importance. Now it serves to remind me to be impeccable with my character.)

Jax didn’t like his friend’s girlfriend. One day like any other, the group was hanging out, and she was reading. Jax asked about her book. After she talked about it a bit, he asked to look at it. She gave it to him, telling him to be careful with it.

And because she gave him orders, he took the book and ripped it in half.

I thought that was pretty serious and, more than once in our ugly departure, I shamed him for it. I should have listened then to what he was telling me. That’s hate and entitlement. I mean, he was lucky not to be convicted of a serious crime at the restaurant, but it’s seductive to convince yourself that no one’s really suffering for your crime. This was personal, and disturbing. And there was the delight I now know!

Jax bragged about it again in Florida when we were in line somewhere with his brother, who also found it unsettling. Never once did Jax express remorse. With me, he defended it. With his brother, he shrugged and laughed.

And what was his defense? I hadn’t heard the way she talked to him, he said. It wasn’t because the book was brand new, or even important. It was just to tell him what’s what, bossing him around, because she was in charge of everyone and everything.

“You don’t get to impose intentions on her boundaries. It mattered to her.”

He dismissed it. “She was a bitch.”

“Even so, it was her property!”

“You weren’t there,” was all he had to say about it.

How dare she assert herself? was the attitude. Woman, know your place. More importantly, it was his right to put her there.

Christie! It was always there!

In fact! Our first fight! Like me, Jax has a very powerful voice, and we both yell. I’m comfortable with that, honestly. I don’t want it. I want to learn together how to disagree better than that, but I hate it when I’m the yeller and my partner is just beaten down by my volume and veracity. Jax held his own. I needed that.

We did improve. We found ways to get heated, with raised voices but not yelling, necessarily, by our standards. There was progress in our relationship that made me feel like this was a partner who could not be bullied by me, but was amenable to taking responsibility – he did sometimes, when I pointed out misapplied blame – and strong enough to make me accountable when necessary. We were good for awhile.

Our first fight, however, was a shock to each of us, I think. Neither of us had met someone who could win just by being loudest. He matched energy, and fed it, too. We went fast from pissed to shocked to rage to fury.

Finally, his screaming shocked me silent, and I paused. “Whoa, Jax!” He continued. So did I. “Jax! Stop! Jax! We can reset! … JAX!”

I really thought we could. I had never been able to settle myself in that headspace. If I could, so could he. We could! He finally out-shouted me, the first ever. And now that he had, he was getting it said. Just like my tipping point, verbal abuse was unleashed.

I finally screamed at the top of my lungs, “STOP YELLING AT ME!”

His response? “You made me.”

“I’m not responsible for you!” I screamed. “I’m yelling because I’m yelling! I can’t make you yell! Fuck you!” I stormed off and slammed my bedroom the door.

(Ugh! “Fuck off” is NOT OKAY. I also called him an asshole all the time. On better days, I just called him a jerk, but that’s not anything to be proud of. Sometimes I didn’t do any of my old behaviors! But I hate that I still haven’t figured out how to disagree with a boyfriend without disrespecting him. No, it’s fighting that different, when I get triggered. There’s something more I can apply there to HALT. Name-calling is a rung on the ladder! It’s dehumanizing, and it’s wrong.)

That day, I called my best friend in a panic, “Oh my god, is he misogynist? Does he really think I made him do it? That’s what abusers say! Is he just a child? That’s bad enough! I am not responsible for you!!!” I was alarmed and ready to call it off.

I didn’t and still don’t think that’s what he meant, and he did later acknowledge that it wasn’t up to me how he behaves. I still believe him. We were speaking in anger. And we all blame. It’s what we do. God knows I do! Impassioned, we are all the child. Patterns and beliefs come up that aren’t true. We own our mistakes, move on, and work together.

I saw that in him, the working together. It is in him. Not with me, but he’s not one-dimensional. After this weekend, though, wow. I’m more humbled and alarmed the more reflection I give it. Especially now that the threat to my belongings and babies is lifted, and the couple is back to their normal not-coming-around. I can “relax,” and the underbelly is surfacing of a 5-day terror campaign that worked.

She deserved it.

Jax was privy to the pain of the trauma with my sister’s husband 6 years ago, and before that with my family, from childhood to this very moment. I talked about it from the beginning of our intimate relationship, when fears and sorrows and confessions come out. He was there when I went through the heartbreak of “losing” my father and brother, who echoed the sentiment, She deserved it.

He held me when I cried. He knew I was suicidal. I did go to the ER for 2 crisis visits.

Right now, it feels like he didn’t comfort me because he cared, but because he was stuck in a situation where he risked a girl getting sick and she did. I imagine the whole time he wished he could go to Carrie, but she was with her ex-boyfriend. I thought I had a friend who cared that our choice was so painfully costly for me, but now he just feels like a guy who was trapped and long gone in his heart. Now I wonder if he was resentful of me already. He was partly responsible, so… “Guess I’ll suffer the bitch.” ?

What he did this weekend was worst thing anyone’s ever done to me. I’ve been back on my meds for a month now. I’m still depressed, but I have been experiencing pleasure and progress on set and at work. I’m functioning and moving forward toward optimum.

That was all derailed last weekend. I was panicked. I thought I might have to check myself in. I avoided it all summer, no matter how overwhelming the pain became, but I was ready to quit the show. I felt I could never catch up, and the fear and guilt of making myself available to a show that I cannot emotionally or physically honor right now swallowed me up. But quitting meant quitting. And my cats! Don’t get me started.

I was scared.

And that’s not looking underneath! How does one even begin? My whole life has been a sham, a joke. I’ve been so blind, careless, STUPID. I’m too old to change this. I give up! I was curled in a ball in my closet, scream crying. My cats were so scared. I couldn’t handle their panicked faces and efforts to climb up and comfort me, so I hid in the closet and shut the door. I could see their little feet pacing, and it made me cry harder. Sometimes I apologized through the wailing, and I could hear their desperate mews.

And on it went. I was in danger this weekend. I felt brutalized.

He knew. He knew what his behavior could do to to me. He’s seen it. He’s held me, contained me, comforted me, and the whole time he just wanted to get away.

Fair enough. This shit ain’t easy. But he endangered me this weekend, with malice and purpose. And she deserved it.

BLUFF!

He texted before my alarm went off. Naturally, I was jumpy all night and woke to every unusual sound. When I heard the ping, I went faint in my bed. I’m still shaking.

“Your cats will be fine. When will you be out?”

I was prepped for attack and misunderstood. “No. You have no grounds to remove me. The eviction remains unlawful.” Then, “Ah, misread that.”

“Just stop. When will you be out?”

“WE’ve said it a million times.” I’d be damned if I’d play into his fantasy that I’m holding some arbitrary date over their head when I have no option to leave before Oct. 1. We’ve discussed this so many times, initially in an effort to best meet both of our needs.

This was planned a month-and-a-half in advance, and he chose the date.  Since then, it’s been confirmed innumerable times via text.

“I’m probably canceling my Europe trip,” he continued, “largely thx to you being unreasonable and unpredictable,” adding, “So thx.”

“You gave me the date to begin with. You are the unreasonable ones. You are the author of your own behavior. I’m not responsible for anything you’ve done this weekend or for the rest of my tenancy.” “And your trip has nothing to do with me, but thank you for thinking so highly of my sway and influence.” (Come on, I couldn’t help it.)

“I can’t even have my family over for dinner without you making theatrics.”

“That’s not what you did. You terrorized me and ruined your own night.” (And they hadn’t stopped by for dinner. He left to get the groceries only after they didn’t get what they wanted from the police, and decided to torture me the whole night by staying.) “Take responsibility for yourself. For all my fuck ups, I always did.”

“Anyhow, no reason to discuss with you anymore other than to say give us our space on the rare occasion we stop by.” HAHAHAHA! Stop when you’re beat, more like. BLUFF.

I’ve never done different! I begged – cried, screamed, and begged – for space. They are the only alteration, hanging out there at all. They hadn’t for over a month.

“You know damn well an illness is not theatrics,” I texted. “You know who I am and you know exactly what you did.”

I HAVE NEVER MISREPRESENTED MYSELF AND I ALWAYS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, even when I hate myself utterly for having to, repeatedly.

He’s willing to ruin his own joy to cling to their ridiculous narrative that I’m responsible for the weekend’s shameful events. I did everything I could to avoid it. I feel no guilt or ownership. I also feel absolutely no care or compassion for either of them, and no need to anymore. I don’t feel anything much more than shock and pity. You know how that’s thrown around derisively. “I feel sorry for…” whomever. I really do.

For god’s sake, take a trip! Nothing has changed but you. Take a load off and breathe.

I blocked him then, seeing that I would soon be unable to remain, in fact, reasonable in an emotional situation that has scared the holy fucking shit out of me. I survived it.

Oh my god. I can hardly stand today. It is ALL spent, the whole reserve. I’m tapped.

Fight-or-flight is still right under the surface. Tears, too. Passion and hatred have to hover close beneath, as well, but I just don’t feel the ugly burden of that dark prison right now. Maybe I will after the adrenaline fades, or when I safely land in my new home. I don’t know. This is brand new for me. Usually, it’s all I feel, immediately, to the exclusion of all else. It takes a looong time to process the protections of rage and hate before I can go and heal the wound underneath. Right now, I feel FREE. Almost.

What a gross man. He found a wife to suit him perfectly. Hell, I can’t begrudge a good fit.
And I do not care!