~Monday, March 29, 2010

April 5th

*Cue music*

Christopher got a job! Yea!

He interviewed with a leasing company that required him to work 45 days out of town in different cities, and then be off for two weeks before leaving town again.

"So what do you think?" he asked.

I huffed. Being gone for 45 days at a time is a long time. I knew that if he took this job, I couldn't be in the relationship any longer. People can have entire relationships in 45 days.

"You don't want me to take it, do you?"

You know how in movies, especially romances, someone doesn't say what he or she is really feeling for some reason or another, so the couple doesn't get together and another hour of the movie goes by until the big revelation? Yeah, that's not me.

"For selfish reasons, I don't want you to be gone 45 days at a time and only be home for two weeks. That is not a relationship. But if you have to work and need the money, I understand," I qualified.

"It's just that if I take this job, I won't be able to keep looking for work," he said. "How in the world would I be able to interview if I am out of town for 45 days?"

"Well is this job enough for you to compensate you for not having another job? Something in your field? Would this be fulfilling enough to give that up?"


"Then I think you have your answer," I said.

So Christopher did not take the job. A week later I sent him a flurry of text messages about watching The Biggest Loser together at his apartment, to which I received no reply.

OMG, are you alive?! I finally sent.

Halfway into Biggest Loser on my own couch, my phone chimed.

Sorry, I was trying to nap because I have to meet with my recruiter at 7:30 tomorrow morning, he had sent.

I snorted, thinking he must really need his rest in that case.

Wednesday night I call Christopher while I was climbing into bed.

"How was the meeting with your recruiter this morning?" I asked.

He goes into this 10 minute explanation of all the tests he had to take at the headhunting company and the results on each test. He details how long the test were and how well he did on them.

"Uh huh," I mumbled while I was flipping through the Felicity DVD menu.

"And then I interviewed at a company and got a job," he finished.

"YOU WHAT?" I exclaimed. The boy likes playing with me, that's for sure.

"I start April 5th," he glibly said.


Christopher giggled.

It's a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday in the city suburbs as an insurance analyst. Not exactly his career path, but pretty close to it; it will look good on his resume. It doesn't pay his normal salary either, but it's a job that he can go to work and come home and still send out resumes and interview. More importantly, it ends his unemployment and provides him a regular schedule and a reason to get up every morning. It provides him with self-worth.

He and I are both counting down to April 5th. Four more work days. He's counting down to starting a new job and I am counting down for my week-long vacation to visit my sick grandmother.

~Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Broken Up and Broken Down

It has been several months since I have heard from S's step-mother, probably not since the new year. It felt strange not talking to her—and I thought about calling her more than once—but I know in order for me to be healthy there has to be some distance.

That's one thing that sucks about breakups; you're not just losing someone who was once the closest person to you in the world, but you also lose a litany of friends and relatives in the process. I don't think there are many people who truly care about me out there, so to give up his father and step-mother are truly loses for me.

However S's step-mom called me while I was at work on Friday. I knew for her to call me in the middle of the day that something was up. She asked if I had heard from S recently. I told her about the phone calls and voice messages I received a couple of weeks ago, but I had not spoken to him since last September.

She said she was calling to alert me that S is in jail. She said S "did to his new girlfriend what he did to [me]." Apparently Convict Rehab Girlfriend was breaking up with him and they got into an argument and S called his dad, saying he thought he was about to be arrested. He told his dad Convict Rehab was getting arrested for domestic violence and he was getting arrested for disturbing the peace. A quick phone call to the jail by one of S's family members confirmed that S was in jail for domestic violence and under a mandatory 72-hour hold.

She elaborated, telling me that Convict Rehab's father and grandfather are both state judges and the grandfather had shown up to the scene. So basically S is screwed. Shit creek and all that jazz. She also said that S was fired the week before from Marshall's where he had been working since rehab. She said a whole bunch of other details that I've already forgotten because it's just S's lies that I don't even have the energy or the care to follow anymore, but basically he lied about why he was fired and everyone suspects he is using again. I said I don't think he ever stopped. His mother is already planning which parent he is going to live with when he gets out of jail. S's father laughed really hard and hung up the phone on her after telling her that S is 34 and it's time for him to grow up or fall down.

I asked when this happened, when was S arrested. She said the night before last. Wednesday night. I thought about what I did on Wednesday night: I went to therapy, came home and called Christopher and my mom to discuss what I learned in therapy (daddy issues, shocker), had a quick bite to eat while I watched American Idol and Real World and went to bed early so I could watch an episode of Felicity before falling asleep. It was a good, relaxing night and I slept very well. I've almost forgotten about the nights I used to have with S. Obviously his nights have stayed the same.

I've learned several things by this latest incident:

It. Wasn't. My. Fault. Yes, I know this has been told to me and discussed extensively in therapy and there is a very emotional scene in Good Will Hunting over the same topic, but I always believed I contributed to the fights with my sharp tongue and I knew just what to say that would push his buttons (see: Go take a dump in some other girl's car). Convict Rehab is a whole other person with a whole other attitude and the same thing happened to her. He didn't hit her over anything I said and did. It wasn't my fault.

The story is that Convict Rehab went to jail too. I do not know if this is true or not. My mother once asked me why I never called the police after one of his attacks. I told her it was because he told me he would lie and ensure I would go to jail too. It was enough to frighten me and not do it. I was not willing to risk going through the embarrassment of handcuffs and mug shots and finger printing and sitting in the scariest jail in the state over something that wasn't my fault. And it sometimes happens. I've seen Cops. If the police can't figure the story out, then both will go to jail. If Convict Rehab was arrested too, then I know I made the right decision for me to not get the police involved.

I always felt like I was the catalyst that made S's life go to pot. He was progressively getting worse by attacking me more and more frequently towards the end of the relationship, but while he was with me, he had an apartment and a job. Then I leave, sticking him with the apartment I know he could not afford alone and he no longer had to hide his alcohol and drug use, so he quickly got fired from work and evicted from the apartment. Then he started going to the hospital for attention and called me and his family members with threats of suicide. He never pulled that crap while we were together. Then there was the psychotic break and the stints in a mental institution and two rehabs and getting kicked out of both of them and getting fired again and now getting arrested. (My god, he's been busy). Besides getting fired, none of that happened while he was with me; he was arrested when he was with every other girlfriend but me. I learned that I wasn't the catalyst; I was what held him together. I made him a better person for as long as I could stand it. And I'm kind of proud of that. I am a good and worthy person.

I heard he was able to leave jail long enough to go to the hospital again. This time for anxiety. He was scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning and I don't know if he was bonded out. I know his parents claimed they weren't going to do it. But the step-mother called to warn me because he has a tendency to contact ex-girlfriends when his current relationship is in trouble. It makes me a little nervous, but not nearly to the extent his contacts used to scare me.

~Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting Life

Christopher and I had decided that a break was something only seen on Friends and thankfully it ended without either of us sleeping with the copy girl and dedicating U2 songs to one another. But I was still Queen of Space. Even though we decided to work on things, the problem wasn't magically resolved and I think he needed time to take a step back to straighten himself out.

Another week had passed. I was busy with training for my 5k and going to my knitting-for-charity group and meeting a new friend and going to happy hours that I didn't notice Christopher's absence much. Somewhere along the line, I had created a life for myself. All of the small steps I had taken since I started therapy last May amounted to whole new life. I learned that change isn't made by leaps and bounds, but small steps in a new direction.

And when Christopher called a week later, I was breathless.

"How are you?" he asked.

"I'm great! I am going to the gym three times a week to prepare for a 5k I signed up for. My group of friends and I planned a weekend trip to the mountains and we're in the talks of another roller skating night since the first one was so fun. And I just booked my spring break!" And I didn't lie once.

He was taken aback with how busy I was. I truly wasn't playing games with him; life had just fallen into place. It had been heading in this direction for awhile.

Christopher had been using his time wisely too. He told me he had been getting up early every morning to look for work. He shared enough detail about the jobs he had been applying for that I believed him. And then he asked to make plans. He came over on a Thursday night to eat dinner and do some laundry. While he was there, he asked if I had made any plans on Saturday yet. He's never asked me if I was already booked yet. He used to always assume I was free until I say, "I can't. My father wants to have dinner," or something like that.

Saturday I stopped at his place before we went out to dinner. We always bicker about who is going to whom's house to the point that sometimes we don't get together because neither of us will budge. I think my place should be the gathering place because I have cable TV, Tivo, a stocked fridge and central heating and air and my dog. He wants his place because that's where the beer is and his bed is bigger (but my sheets are cleaner).

Begrudgingly, I walk into his apartment. It takes me a few minutes to notice that he bought scented candles and had them lit in every room. In the bathroom was a brand new bottle of strawberry-scented bubble bath that I use when I'm over there. He tried to make it a nice place for me. I need to remember that next time we bicker over who is going to drive all three miles to the other person's place.

He smiled and kissed me at the door and playfully tugged me on the couch so he could finish Cops before we went to dinner. He was trying. It's all that I asked.

At dinner he ordered the same fruity rum drink I ordered followed by the same sandwich and side I ordered. "I must have good taste," I remarked.


"I ordered the rum drink and so did you. I ordered the lobster roll and so did you." I paused. "I like you and you like you."

"I like you too," he said sincerely.

Sunday morning I sit on the edge of his bed and begin getting dressed. As I tugged my last shoe on and stood up, he said quietly, "I have a job interview tomorrow."


He must have been wanting to tell me and waited until the very last possible second before gaining the courage.

He's trying. And it was all that I asked.

~Thursday, March 11, 2010


If there was a memo sent around about it, I didn't get it.

Somehow, some time, all of my girlfriends from college decided to get in shape. Harvey had been a runner since meeting her track-star husband and I had been long ignoring that aspect of her. But somehow everyone else joined the running band wagon.

I think it all started when Katie bought a house last summer. She had been saving for years and finally purchased her own place without help or assistance from anyone else. It is almost scientific fact that when you get your finances in order, you body follows suit. So Katie bought a house and almost immediately began shedding pounds. She was neither skinny nor fat before; she was just the fun-loving friend of the group. Now, she is skinny and tiny and hot. She says things like, "I met with my personal trainer at 6 am and got in a good workout before work."

So Katie's sister Jenna, not to be outdone by Katie, also signed up for a personal trainer and says things like, "I workout twice a day."

Another friend set her wedding date and bought a pair of running shoes in the same breath.

And stupid Harvey with her stupid body had always been stupid running.

We meet for happy hours and everyone talks about what races they are running together. What races are scheduled when and who can make what race. Excuse me? I thought our main activity was beer pong supplemented by more beer. And now everyone is tiny and hot and I'm still "the indoor girl." Hmph.


Last Friday night I was out with the girl getting married, her fiance, and their single guy friend. The single guy friend stops after 2 drinks, saying he's running a 10k in the morning. The girl getting married isn't drinking at all and talking about a 5k she has planned in April.

She turns to me, "Sarah, you should do it too because it's sponsored by [local brewery] and you get free beer afterwards."

Everyone's talking about running all the time and I feel left out. I want to talk like a runner too. I rotate my third beer, feeling intoxicated and a little cocky because the single guy and I have been getting along. "How many miles is a 5k?" I ask, feigning interest.

"3.1" everybody answers in unison.

I yawn and stretch, "That's not that big of a deal. Sure, I'll run that race with you." I winked at the group, "I'm easily swayed by free beer."

The topic (finally!) left running.


Monday morning I open my e-mail. I'm surprised there is a message from the boy I met on Friday.

"It was great meeting you," it read. "I've decided to also run the [Brewery] 5k."



This indoor girl.

~Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Voicemail Message #4

..."Listen, (sigh) I know you don't want to talk to me—(pause) and I don't want to talk to you either— but give me a call back"...

~Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I went to my favorite store the other weekend to buy a case of wine. However unfortunately for me, my favorite store happens to be the one at which S used to work.

When I decided to stop, I was near the location of S's old store before he got fired for showing up to work drunk. I thought maybe enough time had passed and maybe it would be okay for me to stop there. But something in me gurgled and knew I couldn't step foot in that place, so I drove 10 miles out of my way to the other location.

I stood in the wine department with an empty cardboard box in hand to fill my case. Above the shelf of the Spanish reds, I saw him. I couldn't remember his name, but he was the old manager of the wine department at the store I specifically avoided.

I was showered and my hair was ironed, so I waved.

He came over to me and I stared at his name tag. "Brandon, it's good to see you. I'm S's old girlfriend," I smiled.

His face lit up and he gave me a hug, "Come here, you're family!" he said.

He kept stuttering about how good I looked. That I didn't even look like the same person I was when I lived with S. I looked happy now. I looked beautiful now.

I beamed, feeling a little self-conscious. I told him I looked like a different person because I am a different person. I told Brandon about my new job and my new apartment and that I felt at peace.

"Yeah, I heard S went through some things. I hope he's doing better," Brandon said. He exemplified the personality of the model employee at that brand of store: outgoing, sincere, tactful.

But I never worked there. "Yeah, he did a short stint in a mental institution and went to rehab for awhile before dropping out."

I saw Brandon's eyes glass over in shock. I probably shouldn't have said it and instead just nodded and smiled, but too late now.

We spoke for a few more minutes. He told me he was happy to see me at this location and for me to come back anytime, and please come say hi to him when I do. He gave me another hug, reiterating how we're family.

He hasn't been the first person to say this kind of thing to me. But he knows me the least and had gone the longest without seeing me, so the change is more drastic to him. And because I don't know him very well, I credit him with being more honest than the others. Friends may say that, and I'm sure they are being honest too, but to feel it feels a little more forced. Brandon didn't have to say anything, but he chose to. And it reminds me that I have come a very long way over the past 10 months and that I am okay.

~Monday, March 08, 2010

Make or Break

Christopher was not angry to see me on his doorstep, which surprised me because he just told me the previous night that he wanted a break. Showing up on his doorstep is not a break thing to do.

He opened the door. "Who said anything about forever?" I chirped.

We cross his apartment and take our seats on his couch. He pats for me to slide next to him. I do and he puts his arm around me. Showing affection is also not a break thing to do.

"So what you were going to write you off for not responding to your texts within 20 minutes?" I ask. "You've gone days and days without calling me back."

Christopher mumbles. His thumb is rubbing up and down my shoulder.

I try to talk to him, but all of his answers are "I don't knows" and shrugs:

"Do you want to take a break?" I don't know.

"Do you know why I got upset?" Shrug.

"Are you going to tell me what's bothering you?" Shrug.

I change my approach:

"Do I smell bad?" Shrug and a hint of a smile.

"Do you find me more attractive than unattractive?" Nod.

"Do you have fun with me?" Nod.

"Do you think you have been fun lately?" Shrug.

"Do you want to work on things with us?" Nod.

He eventually admits that he thinks we haven't been clicking lately. And he's right. It's hard to click with someone when you are not interacting.

He said he got angry with me for always trying to make him do stuff. "ALWAYS?! I squeak. "YOU LEFT THE APARTMENT ONE TIME IN THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY!"

Shrug. "It's the expectation," he explains.

So he's mad that I make the plans and then get angry when he doesn't follow through with them. I kind of understand that on some level, but I also think my intentions were good.

We leave it as the break is off and we're together, but I'm going to give him the space he needs to pull his act together. And I'm going to continue the path I'm on, because I've been feeling pretty good about myself these days.

~Friday, March 05, 2010

Queen of Space

Space? He wants space? Well I'm the Queen of Space. I think he just doesn't want any accountability.

So I send a few texts to MJoy and set the phone back on my nightstand to presumably remain silent until it acts as my alarm in the morning. I roll over in bed and resume watching my DVD of Felicity. It's early in season two and she's just cut her hair. It's been 10 years and I still haven't gotten over this.

Another episode begins. I would normally be asleep by this hour, but I'm not tired as of yet. I haven't cried, I haven't anything. My phone chimes from the nightstand. A text.

"Good night," it reads. From Christopher.

Queen of Space I think, and I go back to Felicity. I was always Team Ben. And Team Noel.


Monday I head over to MJoy's for some girl talk and shopping. We shopped together the day before, but now I had a whole other excuse to spend money on myself.

I'm browsing the racks at Kohl's when my purse vibrates. I fish out my phone, assuming it's MJoy who was on her way. I picked up the call before looking at the screen. It reads "C Dad," Christopher's father from up north.

Christopher's parents are older, which makes total sense because Christopher is almost 8 years older than me. But I still never get used to the sound of his voice. It's innocent and endearing, a grandparent's voice.

"I'm sorry to bother you," his voice shakes, "but I've been calling Christopher since 11 am and he hasn't answered the phone. I've called him at least 10 times. Have you seen him?"

I check my watch. It's 8 pm. "He's sleeping," I state matter-of-factly.

"No, that's impossible. I've been calling since 11 am."

"No, he's sleeping," I state again. I take a breath, "We had sort of a falling out last night. But he's had this cold--"

"I know he has a cold," the father defends his son before he even knows why.

"And he's been taking," I feel myself begin to filter my words, "an antihistamine to sleep off the cold. So he's awake all night and sleeps all day." I almost mention the temporary job that Christopher got then promptly quit, but obviously Christopher has been shielding his parents.

"Oh." There's silence. I feel stupid having this conversation in Kohl's with the background music playing. "I'm really worried about him," his voice shakes again.

I sigh, unemotional. "I am too. I've tried to take him out and get some food in him, but he doesn't want to leave his apartment. He's just in a real dark place right now."

I know his father knows of real, dark places too. I wonder if he knows that I know.

"I'm sorry for bothering you," he repeats.

I've never met him, but I love Christopher's father. I openly wish he was my father. I try to sound cheery, "It's no problem. You may call anytime."

I hang up the phone and for the first time I feel a rush of grief. Whatever chances Christopher and I had are now gone because I spoke to his father. I wish I had checked my phone first.

I called my mother in a panic. My previous experience with a boyfriend's family was traumatic. S's parents would call to talk and I'd talk back normally, not knowing S lied about this or was deceitful about that. He would find out and then scream at me that I'm not allowed to talk to his parents ever. If they were to call, I wasn't allowed to pick up. He would get in my face and scream at me to stay out of his life, which confused me because we were in a relationship and living together. I imagined that Christopher would send a text saying to stay out of his life and that would be the end of that.

My mother told me not to worry. That the father needed to know what was going on. She said I put Christopher's welfare above my own want to be with him by telling the father what I did. Didn't I want Christopher to get better? I spoke the truth.

MJoy didn't share my fear when I told her what happened. She's constantly telling me to not compare Christopher with S. I don't think I'm consciously doing that; I'm just drawing from my previous experiences.

After that I couldn't smile or even talk. She was shopping happily and I was unable to interact. When she asked what next, I said alcohol.

We went to her favorite bar, the one she always writes about. She spoke while I mainly listened. It took me two hours to drink two beers.

Almost home, I fish for my phone again to let MJoy know I was safe. There were three texts from Christopher. The first one was commentary on The Bachelor, the second one apologized for his father calling me, and the third read, "Bye forever."

"Bye forever" is a joke I use with him. If I'm, say, going to go get something out of the car, I'll wave at the door and cheerily call, "Bye forever!" But I can't read emotion in text and our relationship is in a precarious position and he is depressed.

I flip my left turn signal on and head to his apartment. I am the Queen of Space no more.

~Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Maxed Out

I haven't written about it, because frankly I don't know how to present it, whether from my point of view (which I have been told over and over that it is WRONG) or from the correct point of view from friends and family (which doesn't make me feel any better) or the secret insecurity I've been harboring the past couple of days.

So I'm writing my thoughts as they come. Welcome to my mumbo-jumbo brain.

Christopher has been depressed. Not in the ways I claim to be circumstantially depressed every now and then, but medically, clinically, brain-not-chemically-firing depressed. We've been locked in a pattern for the past two months where he mentally and emotionally slips away, I'll call him out on it, and then he swears everything is fine and he puts on a show that I'm not even sure he believes. And then the effort he's been making will peter out and it begins again.

My grandmother got really sick in January. My family was speaking of her in weeks and months as opposed to years. Whats-his-face lashed out at me and temporarily halted my world. I wanted to lean on my boyfriend, but he wasn't there. He wasn't answering the phone calls nor making any phone calls. He was sleeping all day and awake all night. We stopped spending the night together because of his sleep schedule. I got angry (typically my first reaction) and called a friend who said, "Oh, he sounds really sick." And she was all concerned over him while here I was, angry because I was feeling abandoned with his incommunication.

So I went over to his apartment and forced a talk on him. He was meek and small and didn't say much and admitted to even less. I asked what kind of girlfriend he needed from me: someone to support him or someone to hold him accountable. He said supportive. We talked about what makes him feel better. He said going to the gym. He signed up for a gym memebrship and I bought him a year's subscription to Men's Health. He did quietly thank me for coming over and squeezed my arm when I was leaving.

The next day he called me and said he's been up since 8 am and has been applying to all sorts of jobs all day. Good, I thought. Situation fixed.

And downhill slope begins again. He wants to see me, but doesn't want to leave his apartment. So if I ever want to spend time with him, I have to go to his place and sit on his couch. I begin to hate his apartment. I detach. He starts getting colds one after another and I'm not surprised because he isn't eating or sleeping regularly. That was the one thing my therapist asked me when I started seeing her. Every meeting: Am I eating and sleeping regularly? "Yes," I said. "Good," she said. "You're fine." By this standard, Christopher is not fine.

After not seeing Christopher for a couple of weeks, I stop by his apartment at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon. My plan was to kidnap him and take him out to his favorite place to get some food, sunshine and interaction. He answered the door in his boxers, clearly sleeping. I turn the shower on. He gets back in bed. I tell him the plan. He tells me to turn the shower off because he's too tired to go. I begin to cry and say I need this from him. He says he needs sleep. I dance around the depression word again because he'll never admit to him, but he agrees he's been "mopey" this year. I cry and say he never comes over to my apartment anymore. We used to cook dinner together and watch TV, but he doesn't do that with me anymore. He swears he will this week: Monday or Tuesday. He asks me to leave so he can go back to bed. When I linger, he goes ahead and pretends he's sleeping.

A week goes by. I stopped by with several job leads. Every day he sends me a text saying he's got a cold and can't make it for dinner because he's going to take a sleeping pill to sleep off the cold. I've never heard of nasal drip incapacitating anyone to the extent it's taken hold of him. I'm understanding Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But on Sunday we had made tentative plans to go out to dinner. 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 rolls by and I haven't heard from him. He doesn't answer the phone and I know he's sleeping. But I'm angry (again my first reaction). He can't make a single effort for me, yet says he wants me in his life. I feel rejected.

I send him a text that states this sleeping excuse is old and his behavior is unacceptable. An hour later I lessen the blow with saying I'm acting this way because I'm tired of having my feelings hurt. I get no response. I go to bed.

Close to midnight I get a text from him that says he really was sleeping and it's not an excuse. I can't read the emotion of the message so I call. He doesn't answer.

A few minutes later I get another text from him. He wants a break because he's not feeling it and he knows I'm not either. I laugh because this is the second time I have been broken up with by text. I hate texting and I was only able to do it again this year. I ask him to define "break." Does he want space or to break up. "Space," he responds "And I told you I didn't want to be serious."

That's my version.

Family and friends tell me that he's so depressed that he is unable to feel at the moment. That I shouldn't take it personally because he would be like this with anyone. It's not my fault and I didn't do anything wrong. They say he was depressed from being unemployed a year before he met me and that being with me gave him a high during which he was able to function. But now the high is wearing off and he's going back to being depressed because it's been an additional 9 months and he is still unemployed. Unemployment has run out and his parents are enabling him by paying his bills. His credit cards are maxed out.

Each one of them expresses concern for him. But me? I'm angry.

And the secret insecurity? Maybe he just doesn't like me.

~Monday, March 01, 2010

Gimme a Break

"Crying is the refuge of plain women. Pretty women go shopping."
--Contessa Luchhino, The Good Woman

Christopher and I are officially on a break. It's been a long time coming. I'm okay, I really am. I'm kinda tired hearing myself bitch about the situation, so you'll have to stay in the dark for a little while longer.

I think I should go shopping.


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