It’s Over

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

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

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

I packed the house after rehearsals and Fridays before they came “home” after the workweek, and worked in my room weekends. They spent both nights only over the second installment – that wasted weekend of late summer lightning, trashing my dishes, and box theft (#4f) – but they were there Fridays ’til late, overnight every Saturday, and throughout Sunday. Only twice did they “prep the house.” They were there to eat, drink, and make-out during movies. With the ex-girlfriend around. For their honeymoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just taking back another gift,” he snarked.

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

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

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

*giggle giggle, slurpy slurpy, giggle giggle*

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

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

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

“It has a note of cherry.”

“I can taste it, darling,” I’m hearing as I’m in-and-out from my bedroom to the growing pile of boxes in the front half of the living area, outside my door.

Conversation shifted, however, the moment it became clear to her that my attention 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, an avocation, a pursuit of pleasure, “Maybe you could come to my work and see what I do.”

There had been no related discussion of employment or anything having to do with tasks of life. Jax was showing her son how to sterilize bottle caps, and Carrie was sitting at the table, “darling” and drinking.

Apropos of nothing, “Maybe you could come to my work and see what I do.”

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

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

I went about my business and … rolled my eyes. I know you have a solid skill. I respected you once as a woman starting her life over after tragedy. 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. You know, 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 3 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, plunked over her, and muttered under my breath, “Fuck you.”

Oh, fuck. Oh, Christie. Oh fuck!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She judged my hateful energy, repeatedly, and I got snide. “This? is not loving, dear.” (Just don’t, Christie.) In truth, I’m pleased with how well I ignored them. I responded to very little over the last 4 weeks. (But she’s just so dumb!)

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

“We’re both guilty,” I confessed, “but you fail to see the mirror. And that just amazes me.” That ended her, and she began her retreat to their room.

She did tell me to “grow some balls” as she walked away, still yelling back at me and “not dealing with it anymore.” (You never had to deal with it. You brought it.)

First, no self-respecting modern woman says such a stupid, sexist thing anymore. (Trust me when I tell you that 90% of her show has been full-on 1950s Stepford.)

Second, 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 wheelhouse. 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 into my well of bravery than ever before in my life. And it’s done. I survived.

****

The next morning, the movers came and Jax was up first thing, to govern and meddle. I thought he’d be civil for show, as he has been whenever a potential witness was present, but I suppose now that I had the footage of the previous night, it made no difference if he was an ass for 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, recognizes Jax – he’d helped move me in 2 years ago, knows nothing of the drama – and, friendly man that he is, reaches out a hand and a Good-Morning-Hey!-How are you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what do I care now?

With 3 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 water, granola bars, and nut sacks to feed my crew.)

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. And rolled again.

I’m blessed.

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you do?

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Four For Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEAVE ME ALONE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, I have to get out of here.

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

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

I’m in so much pain.

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

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

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

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

I just don’t understand.

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

Oh fucking kay.

An Anniversary I Didn’t See Coming

It was as simple as explaining to my therapist my history on the guitar, and why I’m not starting lessons tomorrow after all. (Yoga has aggravated my wrist a bit. I’ve decided not to add another stressor until it settles and I’m stronger.) It all came back.

I played the guitar at Boise State. It was a beginning class, and I excelled. “I don’t know why I didn’t follow through with it,” I wondered aloud. “Oh! Oh, my god! Uh, because my roommate tried to kill me and I was scurried to a cement dorm for one week, where I convulsed and cried, and aced my finals before going home.” (3.8 GPA, thank you.)

I regaled my therapist with the tale of The State of Idaho vs. Roger T. Black. I was the key witness. It’s pretty gross. (Read my history – How I Got Here – if you want the gory details.) The only thing that remained in the retelling was seething anger at my parents.

HOW COULD THEY NOT SUE BOISE STATE FOR MY TUITION AND RENT? I could have crucified that school with punitive damages, and I wish I had. I was too young and traumatized to think of it. I know if I were to ask my parents about it now they’d claim non-litigious humility, but Boise State injured me! I shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege!

I’m disgusted at the inferior adult guidance I had.

I had a nervous breakdown after my first semester. (I went back for more, but could scarcely get out of bed.) The difference in my wellness was marked. I’d struggled all my life in a bad relationship with my mother, angry and drowning in a tragically dysfunctional family, but I was perfectly absent after that semester. I look back now, stunned. I don’t know how I climbed out of that. ALONE. How could they not take care of me?

There’s a handful of circumstances in which they DID NOT DO THE BEST THEY COULD. I think that’s a bullshit platitude, and I’m sick of it. My parents failed to do their JOB. They consciously ignored a medical emergency. You should have seen me. When I wasn’t catatonic, I was flailing, fighting, trying to fix, clean, contain… something!

I know I slipped through the cracks in some regards because we just weren’t as sensitive to issues of mental health 20 and 30 years ago, but after Boise State I broke. Because of Boise State, I broke. It would been obvious in the 50s that the young lady needed a doctor.

WHY DIDN’T MY PARENTS HELP ME? EVER?!!!!! I’m so ANGRY!

And they’re in medicine! Sanctimonious hypocrites! They’re so smug about Obamacare. They know everything about how “socialized medicine” will fail us, because they’re in the business. THEY DIDN’T EVEN TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN DAUGHTER!

After that, there were 5 or 6 suicide outcries, a term I detest for the suggestion of faking. I meant it on April Fools 1997, learning at last the difference between an attempt and a cry for help, or simply the desperate willingness to do anything to escape that moment’s agony. I think I only tried to kill myself twice. I OD’d more times than I know; I knew as soon as I started swallowing gobs of pills I’d stop feeling. I became a machine. Then I’d try to lay down, but invariably ended up driving myself to the emergency room for a tube down my throat, wretching suction and a gut full of charcoal, never telling a soul.

Why didn’t The State of Idaho offer trauma counseling? What of victim’s rights?

What parent wouldn’t insist on care for their child after something like that? Even if I seemed fine? (And I didn’t!) They didn’t do their best. They didn’t do anything. I was in crisis! Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real, and I already had it from growing up verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. I can imagine, though it’s a stretch, that they hoped my earlier problems were average adolescence, but when I got home from Boise I was a shell. I was spiking and raging all over the place, because there was nothing left in me. I was trying to force “me” … out! But I was gone. All attempts at interaction were like being in space, grasping but floating away. I was dead in there!

I was in danger, and my parents ignored me. Again.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

It wasn’t until I left therapy today that I remembered when it happened. Initially, I couldn’t even recall what time of year it was, but it didn’t take long to go back. I came home in that condition for Christmas break. Twenty years ago.

****

Goddamn, I’m an insufferable optimist. Yes, I’m angry that no one looked out for me. Right now, it chaps my hide that I could fairly have got my hands on hundreds of thousands of dollars for Boise State’s complicit indifference, which very seriously endangered my life and leaves me with scars to this day. I’m not the same. I’m suspicious, jaded, angier, harder.

That being said… Good god, I’m strong! I’m really amazed by me right now. Not just my survival. My thrival! I find beauty in everything! I still have enthusiasm and belief. I have hope and joy and humor. I see the good. I must. The fact that I can come through my life and be this playful, joyful and loving is amazing!

I see the good.

I often regret that I was so slow to start my life, but I spent 20 years re-parenting myself. Mine were pretty pitiful examples, if you ask me, so I literally didn’t know how. They’re not bad people. Good, in fact! But they failed me. They did not parent me. I did. And I’m a pretty good kid. Musta done something right.

~ BSU ~ Bullshit for You! ~
bsu

Unbearable Pain

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were going to attend the Arts Festival together. He had a wake later that evening for a friend and neighbor, so we were just going to spend a couple of hours enjoying the exhibits, performances, food, and music.

Instead, we got chatting and drinking with the neighbor who’d lost her boyfriend to suicide. His best friend stopped by and shared a few drinks and memories with us, and I felt like I really came to know this person. The girl brought out a book of his poetry, some really good stuff, profound and wicked. He had such a turn of phrase! I said, more than once, that I felt like I’d met him. They painted such a clear image of his particular brand of hard, sardonic living. I had a sense of his voice, his presence: Unmistakable, messy, original, intelligent.

Mostly, I regretted that this woman, whom I’d come to really enjoy and hoped to further a friendship with, had to be the one to find him. I let her know that I wanted to see her again. She was such a bright, interesting, and vivacious girl.

“I don’t mean to insert myself in your grief,” I told her, “but I so enjoy your company. I’d love to hang out again, whatever that looks like. If you need to scream and rage, I’m not afraid of that. If you just want to take a stroll and get out of your thoughts, I’m in.”

She agreed, but you know how that it.

“Whatever you do, just don’t isolate,” I asked her. “And thank you for sharing him with me. I feel like I’ve met him. I’m so sorry for his pain, and yours.”

We skipped the Arts Festival, drinking instead on the court until they left for the wake and I went home with a DVD from this gal. I’ve had it for 2 weeks and wanted to reassure her that I hadn’t forgotten. I messaged my buddy today that I’d love to get together again and pass the time, and I’d bring that movie.

He was sorry to tell me that she’d joined her fiance, the same way.

I can’t believe how I feel. I feel like the wind’s been knocked out of me. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know her, really, just spent a few hours. But it hurts my heart.

Today, I wish to remind us all to tend very carefully to ourselves. Mental illness is real. It hurts so much, and one is never out of danger. I spent the bulk of my 20s occupied by suicidal ideation, outcries, and 2 dangerous attempts. I think, having gotten to the other side of it, I’d come to believe that it’s a young person’s problem. No. We die at any age, of any illness, and we must care for who we are, as we are. Wow. I’m just really, really sad. I ache for them. I’ve been telling these 2 strangers for the last several hours that I’m glad they’re in that beautiful place of only love, together, relieved of sorrow, and able to continue learning without the burdens and heaviness of Earth life. But I’m just so sad.

To think how much someone has to hurt to do that. I’m sad for unbearable pain.

Life is so precious and fleeting. Be kind to yourself and others.

****

Before I met this woman I’d never heard the term, “in my cups,” when referring to drinking, especially of the drowning variety. It so amused and delighted me, and painted such an amiable, tragic picture of the delicious, deceptive nature of alcoholic seduction, I felt as though I could hear this character’s voice. He was very much a character, a writer and storyteller, too, who performed his stories and even regular conversation, as I do.

I’m currently reading a fiction novel. Well, since this man and woman took their lives, twice the main character in this book has referred to getting “in her cups.” I found it curious, at first, nothing more. Just that phenomenon when you’re introduced to a word or concept for the first time and then find it everywhere. But then I about fell over when I remembered that this main character’s brother was an alcoholic who killed himself. THEN… the brother who died, I realized, had the SAME NAME as this man who committed suicide less than a month ago! So I’m absolutely flipping out when I realized that the main character’s name is the same as the woman’s! I mean, come on! That’s too much!

I feel connected to them. I’m not sure what to make of such massive compounding coincidence. There’s nothing I could have done. I didn’t even know them.

Maybe it’s just them confirming that they are there, and they are safe, and out of pain.
Maybe it’s nothing. (Of course, you know I can’t think that.)
Maybe it’s just gob-smacking WOW.

I’m glad I didn’t die by suicide. I recommit myself to that now, even though it feels unnecessary to publicly declare it. I feel like these strangers are reminding me what a gift life is and to be vigilant about our health and the choices we make. I invite all who suffer in that way to make a similar vow not to die by your own hand. Perhaps start an “other options” list or a log of things to love and live for, so that when you invariably fall back into the pain, as we do, you’ll remember that it will pass. Because it does. Do be gentle. Life is hard, and painful, and precious, and beautiful.

And FUN! And so totally worth it! I love being alive! choose happy

Choose happy. It is a choice. Choose it again and again, every time. When you fail, choose it as soon as you’re back on track and able. If you can’t choose happy in the moment, be patient and know that the time will come that you’ll be glad you trusted yourself and your beautiful determination and strength, and your RIGHT to be joyful, and got yourself to the other side of suffering one more to time to choose happy again.

Drawing on Strength

I’m in it, struggling through very painful days. I’m hurting, crying so hard, so much, for so long, that I’m almost angry knowing I will, as always, recover again. I don’t want to. I want to curl up. I want to be done with it. I’m over it! I’m in it.

I was encouraged to find a quote today by Albert Camus, another sojourner sufferer in the ebb and flow of getting back up.

“In the midst of hate, I found there was within me an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was within me an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was within me an invincible calm. I realized through it all that in the middle of winter, I finally found that within me there lies an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus

Fine as I know I will be, I’m not now. My best friend has been asking me to get trauma counseling. I keep hoping I don’t need it. What can they say that I haven’t learned, read, or tried? What can they advise that I’m not doing? I’m sitting honestly with discomfort, feeling it, looking at it, and getting up. I’m taking time for myself, but not isolating. I’m feeling joy, too, which is something I’ve not been able to do during other depressions.

Nevertheless, troubling self-destructive behaviors have taken firm hold. I’m smoking again. I’m bingeing. I’m back to my baseline: feeling not just worthless, but wholly unworthy. And last night, trichotillomania made its return to the stage, or my eyelashes, as the case may be. Luckily, I stopped myself before pulling my eyes completely bald, as I did – including brows! – in March 1997, before my most earnest suicide attempt on April Fool’s Day. I’m not suicidal now, but I’m not handling my shit. Nothing a little eyeliner can’t mask. But it’s time to call in reinforcements.

I start bi-weekly therapy next week. I’m also in Music Therapy, of course. This djembe workshop was inspired. I’m so glad I threw financial caution to the wind in time to pound some of this out each week.

Yesterday was particularly difficult. I cried for most of it. Wailing, sobbing tears on and off all day. I didn’t want to go to class, but I spent $120 on this thing! I’m not throwin’ that away! So get on my bike, I did, and whadya know but I found myself laughing and communing and healing inside a rhythmic trance, and laughing again that this really is therapy. Then Quinn, seeing me make a mistake and carry on, said – midbeat, without a blunder – “You know the difference between a professional and an amateur?” I raised my eyebrows, missing another beat and continuing with the next.

“Recovery time.”

Yeah. I can do this. I am doing this. progress