~Friday, June 26, 2009


Therapy was a little awkward this week. After being diagnosed with a "broken heart" (I still love that), I thought we were going to delve into things more. Let's break it wide open and talk about my father and step-father and how I've never had a positive male role model in my life. I thought we were going to explore my emotional stunting. But instead, she stamped my file as "healthy" and tells me I'm approaching the end of my therapy and I don't need to come back for three weeks.

I believe there are underlying issues and I don't want to deal with them again. I don't want to go through this again. I want to fix myself now so I can be healthy and happy and well adjusted.

Maybe she felt that way because I stayed silent, waiting for her to steer the conversation back to my Major Issues. I didn't know letting her lead the conversation would mean that I'm healthy. I don't feel healthy. I told her the waters have been calm the last few weeks and the reason I feel as good as I do is not because I'm all healthy and well adjusted, it's because I haven't been tested. She says I don't give myself enough credit and that I have a lot more strength and self-worth than I realize.

She said me putting one foot in front of the other during a job loss, cancer scare, domestic violence, breakup, moving home with my parents, and then starting a brand new job shows that I already have what it takes. She says any single one of those situations is enough to debilitate anyone, much less all of them happening at the same time. She gives me a lot of credit for that. I guess I needed to hear that and have it validated because when I think of things in my head, I think if I were a healthy-minded individual, none of this would have ever transpired. And I can intellectually acknowledge the flaws in that thinking. Some of the scenarios I went through were out of my control. Healthy people can get laid off and have cancer.

It's just that when I imagine where I want to be, I think of a life like my brother's. He seems to dwell in this charmed existence where nothing ever goes wrong. My brother married right out of college to a woman who just graduated from medical school. He just quit his job he held for the last 10 years to move across the country with his wife. He quit his job after I got laid off and he found a new one before I found mine (and if I were being really honest, I would admit I got my job through his wife. I applied to over 100 jobs on my own and couldn't get anything.) That kind of crap just isn't fair. And I do get hung up on the fairness of it all. Everyone is supposed to have ups and downs, not my brother having all the ups and me having all the downs. I feel like Danny Devito in Twins. One got all the perfect genes and the other one just got the leftovers. I'm the 3-foot tall bald man. The things I've been through AREN'T FAIR.

And I find myself wanting to fix whatever's wrong with me so maybe one day I can be charmed too.

~Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ladies Only

I have not had a period for months. I contributed it to the stress I was under and a very stupid and impulsive decision to stop my birth control. (When I was moving out, I decided that I was never going to need anything sexually related ever again, so I dumped every birth-control pill, condom, lube, oil, you name it, into the trash.)

Today I've been feeling especially blah, staring at my computer screen at work for almost an hour without moving. I was thinking about an e-mail I received from a friend the other day and thought, Yes, I too need to shake things up in my life! and then promptly wrote that in my planner. Then I noticed my Little Red Sister join me.

I don't know about anyone else, but the first real period after a breakup is so freeing. Everything's working fine for the next guy (or the guy after that) and you know for sure your ex didn't sneak one in and have the last laugh.

So goodbye, Ex and all your phantom babies!

~Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Date #2

Christopher called me Thursday night while I was at a gas station filling up my tank. I had a perfect night: dinner at Hooters followed by a screening of The Hangover with a group of friends. The day had been so hot that everyone was tired. I slumped against the hood of my car. It was 9:30 at night and still probably 94° outside.

"What are you up to?" I asked.

"Watching an episode of CSI," he said softly.

I can't explain this to anyone who isn't me and didn't live through my last relationship with Christopher, but he is different these days. The tone of his voice, his demeanor, his spirit- it all seems calmer and gentler than the boy I used to know. My therapist says it's called maturity.

She was thrilled to learn about Christopher. She said he sounds healthy for me and that he will be instrumental in my healing process. As long as spending time with him is a positive thing and I don't rush into anything to dull the pain of my last relationship, she has no problem with me dating him.

So when Christopher invited me around for the following night, I accepted. We basically talked all night with the TV playing in the background. He wanted to know what cities I would move to. I wanted to know more about his unemployment stint.

I also asked if he had ever been hurt. He said no. I promptly retorted that I don't trust a person who has never been hurt and Christopher changed his answer to clarify he's never sat around for a week crying his eyes out. I asked if he has ever been dumped. He gave the same response and I again chirped I don't trust a person who has never been dumped. Christopher again clarifies with some BS that they were "mutual decisions." I like that I stuck up for myself, even if it meant disagreeing and potentially rejecting him, and he was the one to cave. He could have responded, Yup, that's me. Total heartbreaker. But he didn't. It made me feel like we (together, including him) were working on something.

He brought out more bags of pretzles from the newstand downstairs and said if I wanted something different he'd go down and get it. He even offered to order us Chinese, but I was trying to be low maintenance.

And then I dumped my drink in my lap. I spilt it artfully enough so when I stood up, it looked like I peed both down the front and down the back of my jeans. I know when people spill a little on their pants, they say that, but I was soaked. The jeans fabric had already plastered itself against the back of my left leg. Christopher disappeared into his bedroom and returned with a pair of green plaid Calvin Klein men's pajama pants and told me to change. Conditioned to Scott's skinny frame, I gulped. "If these don't fit, I am going to kill myself," I said automatically, not even remembering that Christopher is larger than me. They fit fine, and Christopher said so.

(And when I tipped my drink into myself again a couple of hours later, he laughed and said too bad. He didn't have any more pants for me. Luckily it wasn't as bad that time.)

I stayed the night again. We made out. We were rounding second base, heading into third when he stopped. He sat up on his side of the bed with his back towards me, his white sheets draped around his waist, and said, "I want to take things slow." I didn't respond because a) Our past relationship revolved around sex and for him to not pursue it is peculiar; b) Take what slow? Sex? We've done it all before; c) Does this mean he actually wants a proper relationship with me? d) Or, did he just drink too much and it protecting himself? I don't care that he stopped, I just want to know why.

He came over to my side of the bed and tried to wrap his arms around me. Only Friday had been another smoldering day with the temperature hovering around 100°. The night didn't feel any cooler and Christopher doesn't have central air. "You're too hot," he moaned while he rolled on his back. "Your skin is always so warm." I barely heard him, my eyelids already fluttering with sleep. He announced he was going to buy a fan for the bedroom and I muttered in aggreement and fell asleep. I thoght he meant I'm going to buy a fan... next time I go to the store or I'm going to buy a fan... tomorrow or even I'm going to buy a fan... when I sober up. I had no idea he actually meant I'm going to buy a fan... this instant!

He got up, put some clothes on and walked to the 24-hour CVS and bought a fan. While he was there, he spied the matching pink beer coozy to the blue one of his I liked so much and he bought it for me. (Seriously, go to CVS and get one, it's awesome.)

After CVS, Christopher walked another couple of blocks to Chick-Fil-A, all while I was sleeping in his bed. We were talking earlier about their breakfasts and he bought each of us one and carried it back to the apartment. He put the food in the fridge, hooked up his new fan, took off his clothes and went back to sleep. I had no idea.

I wake up at 11:30 a.m. in a mild panic because I am supposed to meet M-Joy for lunch at noon on the other side of the city. I get dressed—my jeans by now had mostly dried—and crawl on top of the sheets with Christopher, who had also woken up. He fills me in on his 6 a.m. and I laugh. When he told me about my new pink and purple coozy, I simply thank him because I am shocked that someone who used to do so little is now doing so much. He keeps saying something about breakfast and I don't make a big deal out of it because I thought he bought bread and eggs at CVS that won't go bad if I don't eat it. I politely decline because lunch is now in 20 minutes. I say that I'm leaving because I'm meeting someone and he doesn't say anything so I kiss him on the cheek and hop out of bed.

He follows me out and helps me get my things together. He opens the fridge and insists I take my breakfast with me to eat later. He comes in for a kiss, opens the door for me, and I leave.

When I meet up with M-Joy, she instantly knew that I was just as tired as she was, and all of a sudden having lunch at a pub didn't sound as good as it did before going over to Christopher's. I fill her in on my night.

"You need to change your vocabulary," she offered. "Instead of saying, 'Christopher never used to-' say 'I can't believe this wonderful thing he did!'" she pretends the excitement of the latter expression.

Basically I need to be more positive and less focused on who I thought he was. Because Christopher is clearly surprising me at every instance, I don't know him as well as I thought I did. In the best possible way.

~Monday, June 22, 2009


I saw Christopher again this weekend. I'll blog about it later, but I have one thing he said rolling around through my head: "I want to take things slow." I just don't get it. Christopher, previously emotionally unavailable, wants to take things slowly. TAKE WHAT SLOWLY? WHAT THE HELL IS HE TALKING ABOUT?

If I sat here and tried to figure it out, I would bloody my head by banging it against my desk. So I'm not going to think about it. I am just going to sit here looking confused, not thinking about it and working.

~Friday, June 19, 2009

$$ The Story of Sarah

My therapy appointment went really well this week. With the physical and—slowly—the emotional separation from Scott, my therapist wanted to know how I got this way. I started therapy with her in a tizzy over domestic abuse and suicide attempts and rehab, and now that the immediate reasons of why I sought professional help had become that of a controlled fire, she wanted to learn the underlying causes.

With every age bracket, she asked what I most remembered about pre-school (not much, but I was told I was a reader), elementary school (bullied by the entire fifth-grade class led by one Michael H. that I still periodically cry over the meanness of it all), middle school (extremely shy, not a lot of friends), high school (oh dear god, where do I start? The realization that I lost the father lottery, the angry mother who told me I was heading for average-ness, the death of several friends within several months, or the Christian cult who told my close friends not to talk to me anymore?) And then she asked for the most traumatic singular event in my life (hello, boyfriend who pooped in my car and then choked me over it).

During the half-hour exercise, I cried when I regaled the story of the Southern Baptist youth leader who told children not to be friends with a little girl, and I hollered when I described the rage of the physical fight I had with my boyfriend. And she said it was okay to react that way. It felt good to tell my life story—the story of Sarah—to someone who listened and didn't make me feel shameful over it.

I watched as my therapist widened her eyes, her mouth forming a perfect O. When I was done yelling, I folded my hands in my lap and looked down at them. She closed the manila folder which now contained the Story of Sarah and looked at me in the eyes. "No wonder," she began softly. She leaned forward and made sure I was paying attention. She repeated a little louder, "No wonder you found yourself in this position with your boyfriend and you tried to stay and make it work as long as possible. At every critical emotional-forming point of your life, you've been met with opposition. You've been told it's better to be in a bad relationship than to be single, and you've been consistently told you're not good enough. You," she said, "have a broken heart."

I immediately understood she was not referring to Scott, but to my life in general. Right when we discovered the meat of my issues, my time was up. She's always encouraged me to come every 2 weeks instead of every week, but this time she looked at her planner and said, "Same time next week?" and then probably drew dollar signs next to my name. I smiled. It was official: I was fucked up. And the validation of knowing I was fucked up was priceless. It made me positively giddy.

When I got home, I walked in the kitchen and poured myself a congratulatory glass of wine. My mom hovered around, hoping I'd share some of what went on. I told her my therapist asked about my childhood and then declared that I have Major Issues. "So long story short, I probably should have been in therapy 20 years ago," I laughed as I tipped back the wine glass.

My mother crossed the kitchen and grabbed me. She didn't share my joy at the news. she held me tight in what felt like an apology for things that were mostly out of her control.

~Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Waiting Game

It's official, Scott is in rehab. He arrogantly called me.

"I need to know if you're going to wait for me to complete the year-long program. You said you wouldn't talk to me unless I get help, and now I am."

I involuntarily laughed. He was locked up from the outside world and still thought so much of himself that he could continue to order me around. I opened my mouth to tell him not only was I not going to wait for him, but I had already started running around town kissing boys, but I thought better of it. I still had to remind myself that I wasn't safe around him and he doesn't need to know most details about me, including where I work, where I live, and who I hang out with.

He was acting like because he spent half a week in rehab, attended one AA meeting and met his counselor, he was all better. He never even said anything sincere about me; it was all about him. And he didn't just make these "you owe me" calls to me, he had also made them to his family. I am slowly learning through therapy (and A&'E's Intervention) that even if Scott quits drinking, it doesn't even tackle the deep-rooted problems of lying and manipulating. It was helping me to see that things are truly over and there will be no future for us. Period.

And this isn't even addressing the bloody noses I've suffered at his hands.

"No, Scott. I will not wait for you." There, it was finally said.

"Well... I love you and I'm going to work on myself now."

"You do that."



~Monday, June 15, 2009

Bizzaro Christopher

Christopher came back into my life within weeks of Scott's and my breakup. He looked me up on MySpace and messaged me. Then, in typical Christopher fashion, he began sending me text messages at 4 and 6 a.m. I didn't respond. He got the hint and asked me on Thursday to come over on Friday. He's never planned things with me ahead of time before. I already had happy hour plans with a guy friend of mine, so I told him I would think about it and didn't get back to him until Friday afternoon, just to make him sweat. I remember Christopher's games all too well.

Christopher had a huge smile on his face when he met me in the lobby of his building. It matched mine. We hugged and then grinned at each other like idiots on the elevator ride up to his 15th-floor apartment. I think he was just as excited to see me as I was to see him. In the three years since I've seen him last, Christopher had aged. The crows feet that would only show themselves when he smiled has now made a full-time appearance. He had a slight belly poking out from his black button-down shirt. (I sighed with relief considering I was waving the newfound flesh of my upper arms in the mirror before I left. We used to compete with who could go to the gym the most, but apparently we both gave up on that competition.)

It was like old times; the banter resumed as if the last time we spoke was a week ago. The last time we were together, I was 24 and he just turned 32. Now I'm 28. "Man, if I'm old, you must be, like, ancient," I quipped. At the same time, it was completely different: a New and Improved Christopher to go along with the Trying-to-Improve Sarah. This Christopher was considerate and kind. I was wearing a pink silk scarf to cover my thyroid scar, and when my guy friend had made fun of my wearing a scarf on a June night, Christopher complimented it.

I almost fell into my old routine by wanting to pick up a bottle of wine and some snacks on my way over there, but I decided to let Christopher handle it. He invited me over, so I was going to trust that he would provide. And he did. He bought me my own 12-pack of beer (sophisticated) and he reached in his cupboard and produced 2 1-oz. bags of Snyder pretzels. When I inquired about snacks on the phone before I came over, he went to the lobby in his building and bought some. The gesture was so cute.

CHRISTOPHER: Do you have a boyfriend?
SARAH: No, do you have a boyfriend?
CHRISTOPHER: (Laughs) Why do you ask that?
SARAH: Ask a stupid question, get a stupid question.
CHRISTOPHER: Why would it be stupid for you to have a boyfriend?

He asked rapid-fire questions about the ex: where did I meet him? How long were we together? When did we break up? Or maybe why. I simply said I didn't want to talk about it, but he wasn't a very nice guy. (I worked that answer out with my therapist the week before. Glad we went over that.) Christopher repeated he wasn't a very nice guy and locked eyes with me, trying to gauge exactly how not-nice he was. I think he understood and he never brought it up again.

I filled him in on the two things that most changed my life: my job lay off and my cancer scare. The old Christopher would have told me I talked too much, but this guy just listened and told his own lay-off story and his mother and brother's thyroid problems.

After a few beers, I wanted to visit his car-- his 1992 Lincoln Continental, one of the original boat sedans. We laughed as we sat in the camel leather bucket seats and inhaled the musk. I marveled at the original tape player and dug through his center console looking for tapes. I picked out a Harry Connick, Jr. album that I loved and he put it in. "He Is/They Are" began to play. We both knew the words and quietly sang along. I smiled to myself as we sang the verse, "He is older, they are wiser."

When the song was over, I rolled the window down in his 1992 Lincoln and stuck my head out the window. I took a deep breath, "Mmm, carbon dioxide."

Christopher rolled his window down and took a whiff of the exhaust fumes. "You like that?" he asked. He pressed the gas pedal and the engine roared. "Take that, o-zone layer!" he cried. I fell over into a fit of giggles. "Take that, space! This is what American cars do!" We laughed so hard that the building security guard approached us to make sure everything was okay. We were sitting in his parked car with the windows down and the engine on, screaming with laughter while drinking beer. He probably thought we were on drugs.

We laughed about old times. "Remember when we went to Helen and you re-enacted your open-container ticket?" I asked.
"Remember when we went to your college town?"
"And you hit on that 16 year old and I got so mad at you and called you a pervert?"
"I did that? I'm sorry," he said sincerely.
"And then you threw up in my car!" I added.
"I did not! It was on the running boards which are on the outside of your car!" he protested. "And you bit me for trying to take the last beer." He held up the hand and pointed to the location of the incident.
I gasped, "I forgot about that!"
We laughed so hard. It's funny the things we choose to remember.

I got a lot of validation about the capacity of our relationship through this conversation. And if this is all I get out of this night, it was worth it. Christopher acted like we were together and not just hanging out or f-buddies. And he remembered our times just as fondly as I did.

"Why did you stop calling me?" I eventually asked quietly. I went into this night knowing I would have to get an explanation. He told me his phone had broken and he lost all of his numbers. I remember when his phone broke. I found him drunk in bed one night and his cell phone had slipped between the metal wires of the rack it was sitting on and fell into a glass of water. I was the one who found it and pulled it out. It worked for several weeks on those external emergency batteries before finally giving out and I had been too proud to call him.

It made me see not everything was Christopher's fault. I don't think I could have been more emotionally unstable while we were together. I burped from drinking his beer. "You burp because you keep things in," he said, bring me back to present time. So true, Christopher, so true.

The thing I always liked about Christopher was the simplicity of it all. He remained just as playful as ever. I don't feel like real life is beating me down when I'm with him. Our time was entirely consumed by making fun of his car and doing our best Jon Secada impressions into his hairbrush. We argued over who was our favorite Pixie. (I say Black Francis, he says Kim Deal.)

When I got tired, he patted his lap for me to lay down on it. I cheered and he rested his arm on me. It was so un-Christopher circa 2006. He suggested we go to bed. I went over there knowing I would spend the night; it was what we did.

In bed he propped up his lap top and gave me the option of Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State. "Paranormal State," I yawned. "Ghost Hunters is so fake." He picked out an episode and laid close to me, pulling me near him. He adjusted something on the lap top and while he was hovering over me, he leaned down and kissed me. So un-Christopher. We never kissed while we were together last time, mostly due to me being horrified. He murmured that I tasted like watermelon and continued to softly kiss me. He was so gentle, reminding me of one of the last times we were together. I put my hand on his cheek and kissed him back. It was supposed to be Scott's and my 2-year anniversary that night, but he never entered my mind. With Christopher it was like the last 3 years never happened and I could pretend Scott never happened.

Christopher wanted sex, but I turned him down. I felt like I was able to regain the femininity that I lost without having to have sex, and Christopher had given that to me. I've never said no to Christopher before regarding anything and I needed to do it to prove to him, and more to myself, that I am changing and capable of drawing boundaries with men. He was understanding and continued to kiss me. It was nice. He told me genuinely that he had a good time and asked me the same. I kept tugging on my shirt strap because my breast kept wanting to come out and say hello, and he reached behind me and adjusted my strap for me.

He wrapped himself around me, matching crevice to crevice and told me my hair smelled good. I looked for his baseball bat, his security for living in the city, and found it in the same position by his bed. Then I flipped my pillow over and looked for the blood stain I left on his sheets from the bloody nose I had 3-1/2 years ago, the night I met him. It was still there. I smiled and drifted off to sleep. I felt like I had finally come home.

~Friday, June 12, 2009

Poet's demise

Coffee with Poet turned out to be tragic, as I imagine any length of time spent with a Harvard-educated poet would be. He had changed since we'd gone through undergraduate school together. He lost his charisma, charm and his rolling belly laughs. The Poet I remembered drove a red Dodge Ram, dipped tobacco and drank bourbon from a 32-oz. plastic cup from McDonald's. This stranger drove an eco-friendly Honda Civic, abstains from everything form bourbon and tobacco to red meat and caffeine, and is now a self-described "cynical mystic" (which I had to look up on the Internet while drinking margaritas the next afternoon with Mel).

In short, Poet had lost his pizazz.

I don't know if it's the medication he has been on since being diagnosed, or the environment he's been living in since he left the great South (meaning hanging out with other poet-y people and doing poet-y things... up north), but Poet had lost all social skills. He spoke with his chin tucked to his chest, even stammering at times. He couldn't make eye contact and was fixated on a dirty penny he found, rotating it in his fingers and spinning it on the table. I felt as if I reached out and touched him, he'd crumble to the table.

A knock on the glass outside interrupted our stilted conversation. A man on the other side of the glass held up his Rilke book, the same one Poet had been reading when I joined him. "Oh look, Poet! He's got your book! How cool is that?" I cried.

"No, he has the same copy as my book; he does not have my book," he mechanically corrected, chin still tucked to chest.

I blew a raspberry at him. It was as if I was sitting next to Grammatically Inclined Rain Man. We both went through the same English program and are both writers: him a poet (shocker) and I am back to technical writing once again. I don't need to be instructed on the difference in syntax; I was simply off duty. Even though I'm not Harvard educated, I consider myself his equal.

"So what's new with you?" he asked.

I shrugged my shoulders, "Nothing. I'm a loser."

"Everyone's a loser, Sarah," he corrected again. "We all die. We all lose in the game of life."

I rolled my eyes. Seriously, this is a bit much. "No, I'm specifically a loser. I specifically just broke up with my boyfriend of 2 years, who, if I was really honest with myself, I didn't even like the last 6 months we were together. I had to give up my apartment and my independence to get away from him and move home with my mother in suburbia because I was too much of a loser to have a job." I exhaled and took another breath, "And if we all lose in the game of life, I'm still a loser because, sometimes—and only sometimes—I wish my game were over sooner."

"So what's winning to you?"

"Winning is middle class, which I used to be a part of but feel I no longer belong since I'm living with my mother and had been on unemployment."

And then he launched into some long thing about boxes and belonging and his disapproval of the two concepts which frankly, I don't remember because I half stopped paying attention and started watching a guy push a baby stroller down the street. Middle class as defined by the IRS is making $32,500 a year; it wasn't a concept to me but something discernible and something I wanted again.

We hugged goodbye shortly afterward. Neither of us said anything about giving each other a call or seeing each other again while he is in town. We had just grown apart, living in two different worlds.

Mine just happened to be reality.

~Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old Patterns (or how I've become Nancy Drew)

I've been feeling a lot of anxiety lately over living with someone who just lies and sneaks around all the time. When I originally told my therapist this, she said she won't prescribe me anything because she wants me to feel pain. Instead, she taught me breathing exercises and told me to keep an anxiety kit—something to distract me, focusing on the five senses to bring me back into the present&—on me at all times. I've tried the breathing thing, but the fact I have to breathe differently because I'm so damn upset makes my chest pull even tighter and causes me more pain. And the kicker is, it's not Scott that I'm living with who just lies and sneaks around all the time. It's my step-father.

The day my mother left to go out of town, my step-father said he was going outside to cut the hedges. I made myself dinner and decided I wanted dessert enough to get in the car and drive to the store. As I was leaving my driveway, I saw my step-father standing in a hidden part of the yard still in his teaching clothes and talking on his cell phone. And he looked busted when he saw me. He didn't wave or acknowledge me other than the oh shit look on his face. When I came home from the store, chocolate pie in hand, my step-father had at least moved to the proximity of the hedges, but was still on the phone.

I was sitting on the couch crocheting myself a scarf six months early when he came in the house. I silently wound the lime-green cotton around my index finger when, unprovoked, my step-father explains to me why he was on the phone. "The computers at school are down and I'm the only person who can fix them, so they were harassing me to help them," he explained, going into more detail.

What you don't know is a) my step-father has had no computer training. He's a math teacher. b) It's a county rule that the custodians leave, lock the door, and turn the security system on by 9 p.m., and it was way after 9. c) I find it hard to believe that my step-father, who has no administrative role, would be the only person who can run the school computer system when county has their own tech guys. So I'm concluding that my step-father is a big, fat liar in this case.

I pursed my lips, pretending to concentrate on the leaf applique in my hands. "Well, I'm going to the grocery store. Do you want anything?" he asked.

"Nope. I already went to the store tonight." He should remember, hounding me about my whereabouts when he first came in the door.

And then he was gone for hours, just like Scott. A fifteen-minute trip lasted over two hours. I packed up my yarn and was fixing to head to bed when he came back home with exactly one item, a bottle of Arizona green tea. I know this because I snuck in the kitchen and checked his bag, just like I did when I didn't trust Scott.

Things escalated when I found his wedding ring on the couch Saturday morning. I already knew what had happened before my brain had time to process it. I had arrived home to an empty house Friday night at midnight and I was already asleep before he came home. And he was already gone again when I got up at 8 on Saturday morning. Which means my step-father wasn't wearing his wedding ring.

I fumed and my anxiety and chest pains returned. I frantically called my mother 500 miles away and told her about the phone calls and the ring in the couch and how he is out not wearing it right now. "But how would his ring fall off while he was sleeping on the couch?" she asked. "He wears his college ring on top of his wedding ring."

"That's because he wasn't wearing his wedding ring. Based on the ring's placement in the couch cushions, it would only make sense if it fell out of his pocket!" I cried, feeling like Nancy Drew.

My mother sighed, resigned to the whole situation. "I could ask him about it, but he'll only lie. What's the point in bringing it up if he'll never tell me the truth anyways?"

We ended the phone call, but my mom felt the need to call me back and explain. "If I leave him, I'll have to give him half of the house, and I'm not willing to do that when I used my house that I had with your father to pay for this house, and I'm the one who paid the mortgage off. He's not getting half a house for free."

This time I sighed. We've had this conversation before.

I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind. If my mother knew the truth and didn't care, there was nothing I could do. You know, other than taking my step-father's wedding ring and keeping it until my mother returned home, making him sweat a few days for not wearing it in the first place.

But, to make things worse, he never came home that night. He left early Saturday morning, not wearing my mother's wedding ring, and never returned. Never called me nor my mother. Look, I know my thinking may be skewed from what I just went through, but I don't think I'm reaching far to make conclusions. I'm feeling the same anxiety I felt with Scott, and I'm not even in this relationship. I've fallen into the same patterns of checking up on people when I don't trust them. It makes me feel bad, like I haven't tried to move on and do better for myself. I feel stuck. Helpless. Hopeless.

At noon on Sunday when he still didn't return, I called my mother again. She was a little more concerned, but still resigned and wished him an early death. That may sound the worst of all, but I felt that way with Scott. It was when I thought there was no other way out of the relationship and I felt trapped and desperate. I wonder if my mother feels this way about my step-father: trapped in a relationship she no longer wants to be a part of.

It makes me wonder how I got here in the first place.

~Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Scott is out of the mental institution. He's been out for close to a week now. I let most of his calls go to voicemail, but the night he got out, curiosity got the better of me.

When he called, Scott's voice was chipper. "How was your weekend?" he asked, nonchalantly.

"Uh, my weekend was fine. How was your weekend?" I responded dramatically.

"Oh, I guess you heard then," he muttered.

He was actually going to pretend that nothing had happened. He didn't know that I knew and he was trying to keep it that way. And once the initial lie fell out of his mouth, the floodgates opened.

He tried telling me that he was drugged date-rape style at the bar he went to in a Kroger parking lot in Racist Hickville where his mother lives. I see now exactly how ridiculous all those whoppers of stories I've repeated on this blog were. He expected me to believe the first time he went to a bar in Losertown he was drugged by a perfect stranger.

"The doctor at the rehab did a toxicology on me and confirmed I was drugged with a hallucinogenic!" he cried.

"First of all, it wasn't rehab. It was a state mental hospital. A loony bin. And a toxicology report doesn't confirm whether the drugs you ingested were voluntarily taken or not, just that they are in you system," I retorted.

Then he tried to convince me his "family" at his workplace (that fired him and have had no contact with him) drove the hour and a half out of the city just to hang out with him in Racist Hickville. But he doesn't have any of their phone numbers. "And they like to pretend they are vampires on the weekend and that's why I was talking about vampires when I was in the hospital," he finished.

"You were talking about vampires because you took an entire box of benedryl and washed it down at a bar." I corrected.

Scott got more desperate in his attempt for me to pity him, the victim in all of this. "You don't understand how bad of a trip it was. A neighbor found me passed out in the driveway covered in blood!"

"No! Your step-father found you sitting on the floor in the living room in front of the love seat by the back window, and you were cutting your arms vertically with parts of the watch I gave you for Christmas! I know everything. Stop lying!" I snapped.

I don't even know why Scott would lie about how he was found; I don't know what purpose it serves. His sister thinks Scott tells whatever version he thinks makes him sound the best. I'm inclined to agree. But in Scott's case, usually neither his version, nor the truth, makes him sound good.

The problem with Scott is that he lies with such arrogance and he'll never admit the truth, even when you're holding the beer-can-turned-pot-pipe in your hand and asking if he smoked up again. He'll shrug his shoulders and say it was old and tell you you're crazy for hearing lighter sounds in the bathroom. And it's with such confidence that I begin to wane. When was the last time I cleaned under the sink in the bathroom? Could I have missed it? Is it possible he's telling the truth? It is.

Only now Scott's doing a me a favor by continuing to pathologically lie. It's making me less attached to him and more disgusted and sickened by him. It makes me see that even though my living situation is at times spirit crushing, at least I'm in a healthy and safe environment. I don't feel crazy trying to figure out the truth anymore. I'm in my own specialized "back to basics" routine in which I go to work, eat dinner with my parents, share the TV and go to bed.

And it's nice.

~Monday, June 01, 2009


I may have given up everything and moved home with my mother, but Scott continues to haunt me. He called me with threats of suicide, which I ignored. Then he called his father with the same idle threat. When that didn't work, he told me he called 9-1-1 and was taken to the emergency room for a severe anxiety attack and he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. They told him he took such poor care of himself that he has the body of a 40-year old. I'm not sure how much of this is true. I've kept in touch with his father since I left and I'm only beginning to find out that Scott's lied about everything to me. Even insignificant things like living with his ex when he didn't or why he dropped out of high school.

He lost his job shortly after I left. They declared him "mentally unfit" to work. When they found about his violence against me, they told him he had to undergo counseling to keep his job, which he didn't. Then he told his work all the tales he told me, like being resuscitated back to life after his heart stopped from the anxiety attack. And in one final act, he showed up to work stinking of alcohol. Scott drank so much that it came out of his pores and after I left, he had no reason to play around with pretenses anymore. The night he got fired, his scooter was stolen. And he never put the power bill in his name, so one lonely Friday night Scott sat around in an apartment devoid of furniture and lights with no place to go and no mode of transportation to take him there. And I feel bad about it. I do. It's not the life I wanted for him. And I certainly feel like the catalyst that made so many things go wrong so very quickly.

I've tried to balance his distinct ability to make a bad situation worse while dealing with my own inadequacy issues, starting a new job, and starting life over at 28. But it's wearing on me because Scott's bad-situation-gone-worse is now even worse.

His father and I knew that Scott had to be on his own to make any meaningful changes, but his mother coddles her son and told Scott that he could move in with her instead of looking for a new job in the city near his apartment (and oodles of public transportation versus the boonies where she lives). Everyone knew it was a bad idea for him to move in with her, but no one could convince his mom otherwise. I predicted it would last two weeks before Scott would be busted drinking in her home, but Scott nailed it in three days flat:

The story I heard is that Scott walked to the store, bought and consumed an entire box of sleeping pills and then went to a bar and drank while his mother was at work. That night Scott started hallucinating--

This is harder to write than I thought. I am very much feeling my own pain disclosing this to the world. Why the horrific acts done to me were easier to write than this story, I don't know. Maybe it's me not being there and having to imagine it. Or the things he does to himself are equally horrific. Or that I can't make it better like I tried so hard to do in the past. I still care about him; I didn't want this for him. When he called me the morning all of this transpired, I didn't answer nor did I call him back, and now I desperately want to know what he had to say to me. Whether it would have made a difference or not. Whether I could have prevented this.

He started hallucinating. Seeing people. The boy had a drug-induced psychotic break. He spent the beginning of the week suffering from foaming-of-the-mouth seizures and DT tremors from sudden alcohol withdrawal and now that he had it back in his system, his mind couldn't handle it. He spent the entire night pacing the hallways of his mother's house and screaming because he thought furniture was falling on him. He broke into his mother's bedroom and started yelling at her about the party going on downstairs hosted by demons.

His parents went to work on Thursday. When his step-father came home from work Thursday night, he found Scott sitting on the floor in front of the love seat, slicing the length of his arms with the parts of the watch I bought him for Christmas. He told his step-father Ezekiel told him he had five minutes to kill himself and he took the watch apart to do it. He was rushed to the emergency room and he's been committed in mental hospital ever since.

They say he's suffered brain damage. They aren't surprised he's attacked me nor are they surprised to learn he's not able to control his bowel movements. They said he's a severe alcoholic and a very skilled manipulator. Apparently Scott admitted that he has an alcohol and drug problem. Drug. That's news to me.

I'm sitting here wondering exactly how stupid I am to be living with someone on drugs and not even know it. Some hours I oscillate to "naive" instead of "stupid" depending on how forgiving of myself I am, but right now it's stupid. I am stupid. How in the world did I get into this mess? Somehow somewhere along the way I wanted to protect myself and I didn't fight with Scott about a situation and I transitioned into an enabler without even realizing it. My god, even when I was unemployed and Scott was working, he still borrowed money from me. He said my unemployment was so hard on him, but unlike both of his unemployment stints, I had unemployment insurance and a sizable savings account to carry my own weight for the rest of 2009 if needed be. All Scott had to do was pay his own bills on time; never once did he have to do anything but emotionally support me. And he didn't. Part of me feels bitter about it because I did everything for him in that exact situation and I don't feel like I got a return on my investment. He couldn't even be there when I had my surgery.

But none of that is important now because he's in a mental institution. I spend hours on the phone every day with his father and step-mother obsessing over every minute detail of the situation. Going over the tone of his voice and the complexion of his skin. When he will be released.

His family has cut him off and told Scott not to call them. He is on his own should he get evicted from my old apartment and goes homeless. Him asking for help isn't enough. They want him to seek and get help on his own and only with a note from his doctor will they ever talk to him again.

I'm on board with the plan and have so far avoided the calls from the mental institution. He doesn't know that I know and part of me wants to tell him off on my own, but the other part of me knows I can't put myself in that situation without being manipulated so I'm staying away.

It's starting to negatively affect me. Today at my new job they had a company luncheon and I had to fight back tears over the thought of meeting strangers and having to talk to them. I've become morosely shy, afraid of opening my mouth and the dirty truth about my life falling out while watching the horrified look on their faces. What they must think about someone who allowed all this to happen to her. So as long as I don't get to know them, they won't find out about me. It's become paralyzing.


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