The Sandwich of Love

Last night Jesse went out grocery shopping. I'd requested a sandwich when he got home. Despite being in a bit of a hurry to head to Pat's to hang out, he made me a delicious sandwich and presented it on a plate to me in bed.

That sort of care is lovely. It was in these things, the small, daily care sorts of acts, that David excelled at. In this, he was perpetually kind, attentive, loving, and warm, especially when it came to feeding me. I never had to ask twice (and rarely had to ask at all) for him to move into the kitchen and expend energy in taking care of my hunger. He was also fantastic at buying small gifts, such as strawberry milk and chocolate for me. When I had nightmares and woke up screaming, he'd fetch me the sugar-laden treat I always inevitably asked for (boosts in blood sugar help me calm down from scary dreams) and he would hold me as I ate it.

These were not acts of manipulation. David didn't do these things to keep me off balance. He NEVER brought them up and used them as a weapon when I got angry at him. And no matter the anger I showed towards him at any given point in the relationship, he continued this sort of care.

It was these things that made it so hard to leave David for so many years. Any "good" abusive relationship has these, these times or places when the abuser is pure, solid gold. Surely the relationship is not ALL bad, one thinks. Surely they obviously DO love me. Many studies talks as if this phenomenon is calculated, deliberate on the abuser's part. I don't think it was. I believe he did them because he loved me and wanted to do things, actual physical actions, to convey that.

It was why, on the very day I decided to break up with David, I penned the words "David is, at his core, a truly wonderful man."

I think, had I less experience in dealing with abusive people, it would have confused me for far longer than it did. But these are textbook dynamics, blindingly so, and by the time I'd had enough, I knew better than to rest the relationship on those moments.

David is not a truly wonderful man. He is insane, cruel, petulant, and a mess of painful contradictions. But it is some comfort, small and nervous as it is, to recall those brief moments when he treated me well. I thought that those times were enough to sustain a relationship.

They were not. The sandwich that Jesse made for me last night was profound not because it was a kind act. It was profound because it was a kind attitude, something that carries through even when I am not in distress. The reasons why those same acts shone so brightly for David was because they stood out sharply, outlined against the shadows of our relationship. They were a difference in how he treated me, not a continuation.

"It makes no difference how NICE he is being to you, since almost all abusers have nice periods. What matters is how RESPECTFUL and NONCOERCIVE he chooses to become." - Why Did He Do That

Them there's the key words. Respectful and noncoercive. It's a strange balance, to know that David abused me, even as he was often getting me my favorite milk and cookies. (That sounds like a euphemism. It's actually not.) It is not enough to make me think our relationship was good, or that David was healthy, or that he in any way respected me.

It's what makes the sandwich from Jesse a true act of care and affection. Even when I'm not upset, Jesse still respects me and he never gets forceful, not even in snide, sneaky ways. That sandwich is not a brief light in the darkness. It is an act of love.

Plus, he put extra onions on it for me. I LOVE ONIONS.

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I was not a clown

AHAHAHAHA!!! SIMON I LAUGHED SO HARD!!! AND THE REASON I LAUGHED SO HARD IS BECAUSE NOT ONLY IS IT FUNNY BUT IT IS ALSO TRUE!!! AHAHAHAHA!!! (LOLSOB, BUT STILL, AHAHAHAHAHA!) I mean, you're RIGHT. One of the first things I had to do with David was teach him how to wipe his own ass.


"He doesn't like having her appear in public as smart, capable and interesting, because that collides with his deeply held belief that she is irrational, incompetent, and worthy of being ignored." - Why Did He Do That

The "in public" part is important because while David was always patronizing me, the worst of it happened in public. Around other people. (In public also means public websites, like Facebook.) How many times did you guys see a comment of his own a FB status of mine, a comment that said "Oh, she's just not rational. Oh she's just not logical. She gets so worked up and that gets her in trouble"? A LOT. So. Many. Times. Those exact words, even.

Cutting comments that if only I were "smarter" in a "traditional" sense I would not be having so much trouble with school. (The school he could never drag his ass to, despite firmly expecting that I pay for his tuition and books.) I will not get tired of saying that for a long time.

Endless hours of "teasing me" about misprouncing words. His insistence that I was a completely emotional creature, that I could not think clearly about issues - even my own issues - due to that.

And sometimes, even a complete, outright IGNORING me. I'd talk and talk, five minutes later not having a sound of him - or even him LOOKING in my direction - for it, get frustrated and say "WHY AREN'T YOU LISTENING?!" only to have him get defensive and say "You are too impatient. Stop getting so worked up. You're too emotional to have a conversation with."

And the worst of it in public. Then the jabs would be with a smile, a hearty laugh, and what would I be if I chose to get upset about it? Irrational. Can't take a joke. Crazy. (Oh, the crazy was such a FINE thing for him to point to.)

And I would tell him, over and over, in direct words, writing out the entire conversation as such it happened on LJ, how upsetting those comments were. And time and time again, he'd just shake his head and say that I was too sensitive. Or he'd say he would make an effort not to do these things, only to grin and tell people just how emotional I was.

Like, I'm angry about it.

But reading this, I'm also heartbroken. I'm linking to this entry of mine, written in mid 2010. A little over a year after we got together. The entry is waaaaay too long to repost here.

It breaks my heart to read my own words about it. I was struggling. I was in pain. I was TRYING SO DAMN HARD. The worst of it? I was falling into believing him. This was when he started moving the most infuriating, discrediting, patronizing behaviors of his into the public sphere. Around his friends. Around my friends. Around anywhere that other people might see how witty and affectionate he was by teasing me.

It breaks my heart. Not over him, but over the fact that I wasted five fucking years trying to get one man to not treat me like a child when he couldn't even wipe his own goddamn ass properly.

Like, fucking literally.

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(no subject)

Last night I briefly shared about my last summer I spent in Arizona back in 2003. The summer right before I moved to Kansas City. It was a rough one. I'd just gotten back from my two year stint in Oregon and was having trouble adjusting to being a live-in girlfriend again. (With Pat, who had waited and welcomed me back, even years later.) It was also the one summer Pat fucked around with responsibility, quitting his job, not getting a new one, and borrowing thousands of dollars from his parents.

The only reason the bills got paid was because of one of our roommates, who dealt weed on the side of his crappy part time job. I also had a crappy part time job that I walked to, five days a week, in the blinding, 110 degree Arizona afternoon sun. I don't hold any grudges towards Pat for that summer - I kinda feel everyone gets a period in their lives when they act like petulant children. (But just ONE and it has to be out of the way EARLY, unlike Mr. David, who had years worth of it in his 30's.)

Patrick got over it very quickly, inside three months, once we finally got out of the hellhole that is Sierra Vista and into Kansas City. And besides, it was, like, twelve or thirteen years ago. A near lifetime, really. Both Pat and I were young, still Figuring It Out, and total newbs at Supporting Ourselves. That is fine enough.

Jesse noted that I don't talk about my life in Arizona that much. That surprised me, as life in Arizona makes up almost 14 years of my past. Childhood, adolescence, and then a couple of years into my 20's. But I realized he's right. I don't share much of anything about my time then and there.

I have no idea why. It's not as if that time of my life is horribly traumatic. Well, I mean, it IS, because that's when the worst abuse (both from others and myself) was inflicted onto me. But it's not as if that trauma is anything I hide or am ashamed about.

I'll just chalk it up to the idea that talking about my childhood, or the specifics of my life then, are pretty boring. Okay, not boring, because again, Abuse Central, but rather that it's just not that exciting for me to TALK about.

I figure that someday I'll have to go back to that town. A funeral, most likely.Home is not where the heart is. Thanks, Mom.Collapse )

I wouldn't have all that if I'd stayed in Sierra Vista. Hell, I might not have any of that.

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How to properly wipe your ass

Something that baffled me about David's family was their habit of taking dumps, starting wiping their butts with baby wipes and then they'd FINISH wiping their asses with paper towels. Then they'd throw those paper towels into the bathroom trash can. Being as they do not like to take out the trash, the smell would get tremendous. Not to mention, the sight of brown encrusted paper towels every time someone wanted to take a shower.

Cholula, doesn't Dennis do that?

I mean, like, WHY. Just WHY. I never bothered to ask David why his family had the habit of half-wiping their shit-covered butts with paper towels and then throwing those paper towels into the trash can directly across from the toilet. Those paper towels would pile up (there were four people in the house doing this daily) and then would dry into crusty and smelly bits. And then sit in there for, like, weeks.

WHY. WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT. LET ALONE A WHOLE FAMILY. IT MAKES NO SENSE. To this day I still cannot figure it out. I mean, that has nothing to do with their hoarding, so I can't point to that. Just....WHY. WHY OMG WHY. I DO remember it took about a month of reminding David to use regular toilet paper and to flush that before he finally made it a habit. Thankfully, after that, he had it down like a pro. Like someone who had been wiping with TP and flushing normally for their whole life.

Like, seriously, WHY. I kinda wish I'd asked David about that, now that I think about it. His family had many baffling habits but most of those could be traced to either their hoarding/terrible impulse buys or religion. This one? I HAVE NO CLUE.

Once I'd asked David's mom if he had always been the filthy hoarder that he is now. (Didn't use those words, of course. It was his mom, after all.) She shrugged and said "He's always been like that. He'd sit down and it's just like piles fell off of him."

But in talking to HER sister once, she said that she used a strip of masking tape to divide the childhood room they shared. Otherwise, she said, David's mom's mess would literally blanket HER side of the room, too. I never got to talking to any of David's father's family, but I imagine the story is also the same. David himself does not recall the mess and clutter being so bad as a child.

But considering how bad it is NOW, I'm not sure if that says anything particularly noteworthy about their hoarding. The last time I was over, maybe four or five months ago, to help David clean his room (I got compensated handsomely for it, though, as we combed through his sister's Extreme Hoarding room for something like 70 dollars of toiletries.) The mess was as it was the last time I'd been there, which is to say two-foot-wide pathways through each room, no couches or chairs available due to being piled on, and trash covering an inch of most every floor in every room.

Ew. Just ew.

I remember David trying to convince me that his room was cleaner. He doesn't really have a room himself, persay. Just the spare bedroom, which has less than foot walkway around the bed due to the family's hoarding. But what floor was available was carpeted with Magic Cards, candy bar wrappers, dice, and unpainted miniatures. The same as it was at my place when he lived here. BUT he does not live here, and he lives THERE, and so I didn't really care about how filthy he was.

I remember saying shortly after the breakup that if he wanted to live like them, he could go live WITH them. So he did and he does, indeed, still live like them. If he's insistent on becoming Girl Extraordinaire, maybe he'll finally learn how to fucking clean once in a while.

Though I can't imagine him falling into a relationship where he takes up the societal mantle of being the housemaid. That's girly as shit, but it also requires effort. That's a no-can-do for David, no matter what skirt he's wearing that day.

Bancroft, in speaking about how his abusive male clients are wizards at avoiding housework, childcare, jobs, etc, says "Yet on a deeper level the abuser seems to realize how hard his partner works, because he fights like hell to not have to share that burden. He is accustomed to his luxury and often talks exaggeratedly about his exhaustion to excuse staying on his rear end."

Exhaustion = depression, and depression = exhaustion, which all equals David not doing a goddamn thing. He never outright said anything like "Oh, what you're doing isn't really that hard at all." (Concerning housework, work, family obligations, etc). But what he DID do, when he threw fits about me not being able or willing to spend hours upon hours hanging out at his friend's house, or staying up till midnight watching tv, or having sex with him, was completely ignoring just how much work what I was doing WAS.

He always acted like I should have all the free time and energy in the world. (Y'know, like him.) As if working the hours I did and babysitting Cassie's children and going to school shouldn't have worn me out. He always acted as if those things were easy....BUT -

if he really thought it was easy, he'd have taken up some of the reigns. He could see the toll all of this work was taking on me - and even if he didn't see it, I TOLD HIM IN DIRECT WORDS ALL THE FREAKING TIME - just how hard it all was for me.

And he would do anything to avoid having to help out and shoulder some of that work, even if it meant claiming that the work should not have been work at all. David went to incredible lengths to avoid work of any kind, so much that occasionally it took MORE work than what would otherwise have been TO work.

It's all so ridiculously contradictory that I'm not even sure if what I'm writing right here, right now, makes any sense at all. It sure as hell doesn't to me. But that's the way I lived, that's the way I lived with him, for years.

Working my way through that book now, "Why Did He Do That", I feel like I've got five million David entries to write. I guess that's okay. At least I didn't have to toilet train Jesse when he moved in here. He's been wiping his butt normally for over 40 years now.

I dig that.

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Be brave

I had dreams about cats last night. About going to an animal shelter and wanting to take them all home, but I only had room for one cat, and about how I wanted to take home a kitten, but I was scared to, in case it died suddenly like the last two kittens I've had. I asked the lady to see the cats on Death Row, and I wept when I saw just how many were scheduled for euthanasia.

In the end, I chose a middle aged cat, because the older cats always have a harder time getting adopted. I didn't want to leave the room with all the other kitties that would die that week. As if by walking out of that room I was personally responsible for leaving them to their deaths.

It makes me want to cry even now. Dreaming about cats is like other people dreaming about their kids. It shows domestic worries. It shows guilt over Giles's death, to which it's been MONTHS. You'd think I'd be over it by now. Not so, as it turns out.

Strangely enough, it is dreams with cats that produce tears for me. I may wake up screaming from a dream involving the abuse of my stepfather. I may wake up terrified from a dream about monsters. But it is only dreams about animals that make me cry. Maybe not so strange, as I often feel my greatest responsibility is towards my pets. Far more than towards Jesse or Pat or even myself.

They and I will get along if I do something crazy that drops me out of the "aware and mentally well" game. My animals? They can't pour their own water or ladle out their own food. They don't understand it when someone suddenly isn't their in their lives. They just know they are hungry and that there's someone missing in their lives.

I have an obligation to be there for them. There have been times when my cats have been the sole thread that kept me tied to this earth, the one thing that kept me from snipping that thread and floating off entirely. I do not have children. I do not have that singlemost, often deepest reason for living.

But I have them. I have an orange tabby, with orange eyes the same color as her coat, edging up in age to well past the senior years. (She's about 12 or 13, as far as we can tell.) I have a fat gray and white tabby, who attacks socks and underwear and hates to be petted on her belly, who has arrived at middle aged herself this year. (7 years old.) I have them and I must, must stay present enough in my life to keep having them.

It is strange for me to have only two cats. But as Pip is most certainly FLV positive now, and Judi, while vaccinated, might be as well, I cannot in good conscience, bring another animal in. When Pip passes, and if Judi tests negative, I can then adopt another cat. I wish to, wish to right now, even. My happy place is FOUR cats. Jesse's happy place is two, as he has allergies, but to hell with that, I say.

(Okay, not so much "to hell with that". But to "when we get medical insurance you can get actual allergy shots and then it won't be so bad for you", I say.)

I will do something that I've always wanted to do but never had the room to do. When it is time to adopt, I will adopt a pair of cats that need to be adopted together. I've never had the room to do that, as having three cats and adopting two more is too much for this small space. (Wouldn't be too much for ME. I'm pretty sure my happy place could be TEN cats, had I the room.)

But when Pip passes, and I'll only have Judi left, I'll finally be able to do that. Animals that have to be adopted in pairs often are left without. They wind up on Death Row with an extremely high frequency. I'll be able to do that, to save two more animals than were saved before.

I don't know if I could ask the shelter to see those on Death Row. Going into a shelter, even in just the normal rows, leaves me awash in tears for a week. To see all of the animals I couldn't save? It would take a brave person to do that.

I'm not sure how brave I am. But maybe I will. This is all quite a ways down the road. Pip could pass at anytime due to her age and FLV positive status. (Though god PLEASE NOT THIS YEAR. I don't know if I can handle losing three cats in one year.) But she seems to be in good health, as is Judi.

The time to let them go, to bury them, to bring another cat home in their places will come all too soon. I know this. There's never enough time with animals. But as you said, GrantP, maybe the reason their lives are so short is because there are so many of them that need to be loved.

I really like how you put that. It was beautiful and it helped ease the pain of Giles's passing. It is something that I will forever now pen into entries when one of my cats dies.

Writing this out helped. I don't feel so much like lurching over in tears, as I did when I first woke up. It is good to know that many of you - most of you - understand how deep and moving this subject is for me. Jesse himself likes cats but is not an animal person. He has said recently, though, that he is afraid to get close to Pip, who has chosen HIM as her human.

(Y'know, people don't choose cats. Cats choose people.) He'd gotten close to Giles and that hit him hard when Giles died. He's worried about the same with Pip.

But I tell him that love is inevitable when it comes to being in this household with cats. And I tell him that it hurts, but that they - and so many others - still need our love. Be brave, I tell him. Know that the inevitable end will arrive long before you are ready for it, and know that you are brave and open enough to love the next animal that comes through that door.

Like you said, Grant - there are so many of them that need our love. I will never shirk nor quail before that statement.

All this said, I need to scoop out the litterboxes. Work has worn me out the last couple of days and I'm pretty sure they are going to start rebelling and peeing on the floor. This carpet is old and cleaning it is a bitch. Better get to that.

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May as well see

Yesterday was my first full day at this new job. It's a warehouse job. This being a national, corporate company, it's bigger than the last one. Easily five times as big. We get to drive these motorized carts around, which helps, but you're still standing on the carts. No seats to sit down. Still, that part is pretty fun. I'm still not 100% on the cart (it's called a Pack Mule), but I'm sure given today I'll feel like an Indy 500 racer by the end of it.

Patrick and Jesse asked me yesterday how I liked it. I shrugged and went "Eh, it's a job." They seemed surprised by how nonplussed I am about the whole thing. But the truth is that it IS just a job. I show up, they tell me what to do and I do it, I do it and then I go home. That's fine enough for me.

I'm not happy about the 12 hour shifts, but seeing as this is my third job in like five months, I am obligated to stick it out. Yesterday turned out to be only about 10 actual working hours. Not too bad. I think the largest frustration will be not strangling my coworkers, who are armies of 20 year old kids fucking around in their first job.

I may not be excited about this job, but it's still a job. The rules are that they tell you what to do and you go DO it, and then you go back to the managers and ask them for MORE stuff to do. That's how it works. Them's the rules. Of course, when you're young, you don't know that, and when you're learning that, you don't get it for a long time, usually. Still, at least it gives me a leg up on work ethics.

We have this French couple working there. Young people, likely only in their early 20's. They don't speak a word of English and only ONE employee in the entire warehouse speaks French. I wonder how in the world they landed in Kansas City and how in the world they landed at this warehouse. I want to write up an index card that says "Welcome to the American work system. It totally sucks, doesn't it? Hi, my name is Teressa! I hope things are going well for you." But I don't know French and Google Translate kinda blows.

I also think there's cultural differences in the slight of how sarcasm is conveyed. Still, I wish to find a way to communicate with them. It must be lonely and a little scary to be working in a big place for half your day with no one but your spouse to talk to. They can't communicate any particular needs or problems easily, as the French speaking employee works on the other side of the complex for most of the day.

I've worked with people who did not speak English well or else not at all. The housekeeping industry is dominated by Latinos, so I've spent a lot of time working with people who speak only Spanish. But housekeeping is one of those things you can mime to people. And most places have a Spanish speaking person or three on staff, so it wasn't hard to find someone for them to talk to. French? That's a lot harder.

This particular branch of this company (Alphabroder) has only been open for a year, so there's a big chance to garner seniority. There's been a change in management, and a large spat of hiring people, so all I have to do is wait out the inevitable rash of turnover that always happens when people are mass-hired. I told Jesse that the real bonus of seniority has nothing to do with company benefits like health care, vacation time, etc. What seniority gives you is wiggle room when things go wrong and you miss work or else do it badly. People know you, trust you, and are willing to work WITH you with seniority.

It's one thing I had at Super 8, having worked there for nearly a decade. If I had to take off early 3 days in a row, I was allowed to. They knew I'd be back in on the fourth day, making up every hour I missed. They knew if I was having a bad week, all they needed to do was give me a few gentle reminders to get back on track. It takes time to develop that kind of relationship.

The Big Boss had a meeting with us all yesterday. It was a laundry list of complaints. Dirty bathrooms, not clocking out for lunch, not keeping up on daily cleaning duties, not treating the equipment well, etc.

It's the sort of thing that made me think either this place has lots of problems or else the manager is a dick. It's too early for me to tell which. But then, new management, relatively new location, and lots of new hires. It's bound to roll like this for a while.

This job, being as the warehouse is SO big (one square mile, each foot packed with product) and there are SO many people, gives me the oppurtunity to get my daily duty list and dissapear to do it. Far less interaction with coworkers and managers than the previous place. I like that. Being as most of the staff are kids, they are exceedingly chatty, which does not interest me in the least. One gal spent fifteen minutes last night describing to me her gay father, his boyfriend, her interest in cars, and why two of her children were half-black.

I couldn't care less. But the rules of work (and basic social interaction) require that I at least smile and make noises in the appropriate pauses of the conversation. Most people mistake that for interest. I wonder how it is that they aren't paying enough attention to notice that I am staring at my phone, more grunting than speaking, and smiling only when they do.

I have mentioned that I hate people, right?

Still, this is a job I know I can do. Even the 12 hour shifts don't seem so overwhelming, now that I've worked there in the evening and seen how the evening duties taper off. Of course, I say this NOW. It might be different after two weeks of 12 hour shifts. I am somewhat worried about my mental state. Working that much doesn't do normal people favors in their brainwaves. Working that much as a crazy person?

I guess we'll see. I was cavalier about it with Pat, saying if it breaks me, well, at least we'll know I tried. He looked alarmed at that statement, but I know myself. To stave off any dissapointment (personal or from my loved ones), I'm going to have work REALLY hard. Besides, I'm a little curious. Can I do it? Can I work the majority of the week at 12 hours, for weeks, for months, for years at a time?

I don't know. But if I keep up on my medication, make sure I get enough sleep, and develop effective stress relief techniques, I'm pretty sure I have a chance to make it. A GOOD chance.

Besides, what the hell else am I doing with my life? Nada. Not a damn thing. May as well see what making work my life will do.

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Not mysterious

Thing that galls me the most about David's behavior isn't always the behavior itself. What he did was outrageous and offensive, yes. But also outrageous were the excuses I made for it, for him, time after time after time. I know it's human - we will justify the sickest things to ourselves if it means keeping the status quo, not rocking the boat - but it still floors me. I constantly tried to circle back to his feelings, about how hard this all was for him, thinking that this time the compassion would allow him the room to change. It didn't occur to me until damn near the last day that all these considerations weren't giving him room to work on himself.

It just gave him reasons to not work on himself. The more I excused, the more wild his behavior got. Taking larger and larger liberties with my heart, my home, all because he felt, on some level, that he DESERVED to make such a mess of me. "Why Did He Do That" says that an abusive man will never be healed or solved by trying to build him up, by trying to give him room to make mistakes and be loved anyways.

It just gives them a greater sense of permission to continue screwing up. And I gave him so much damn permission. They become accustomed to it and feel as if we are not being compassionate when we call them on their hurtful bullshit. I think he truly believed that he did not know why he was acting in these ways and thus couldn't stop himself from acting in these ways.

"The abusive man wants to be a mystery. To get away with his behavior and to avoid having to face his problems, he needs to convince everyone around him - and himself - that his behavior makes no sense." - Bancroft

That times a million. And so often, SO OFTEN, he would refuse to talk about his behavior, his troubles, instead waiting on me to drag it out of him. It proved that I loved him, you see, that I was interested in him, that I really cared about what was going on inside of him. It also absolved him of any responsibility to be honest. This was a HYUGE problem that ran throughout the entire relationship.

It's like he thought life was one great big Good Will Hunting, and that real love meant your partner was willing to dig it all out of you, with you kicking and screaming the entire way.

It's interesting how he managed this trick. Time after time, once I FINALLY wormed it out of him, whatever was bothering him, he'd compliment me on my talking skills. He'd say that he knew I was stronger at this, better at this, and that's why he waited for me to bring up whatever issue was in front of us.

And you know, there for a little while, I believed it. I believed him. I actually felt COMPLIMENTED by it. I was pleased with my ability to puzzle (insert x, y, and z) out of him, pleased with my ability to do This Thing Better Than He Could, and pleased by the fact that it was obviously something he needed that I was providing. It proved that I loved him.

Except it never did prove a damn thing, except maybe for how insane **I** was. People who need love proved to them are never satisfied, and will only beg to do so with ever more dramatic and unhealthy behaviors.

I can't believe I fell so willingly into the Good Will Hunting trap. (I hate that movie. HATE IT. It relies so heavily on the Broken But Beautiful trope, and relies very heavily on the idea that Real Love Means Hiding Your Pain So Someone Else Will Validate It By Playing Your Dumb Game Of Hide And Seek.)

I guess it was easy because he made it look like I was better at something than he was, and with his constant, patronizing and outright just mean ways of treating me, I latched onto that like a man starved.

Another part of the book which harkens back to the whole "man as a mysterious behavior" thing is how one woman insisted that her SO's behavior of going insane and breaking things really did mean he had no idea what he was doing. Bancroft said "And when he breaks things, whose things is he breaking?"

The woman paused and then noted that it was always HER stuff that he was breaking. Always and only HERS. And that despite often saying that he was sorry, he never made any efforts to replace or clean up the mess he'd made when he broke her things.

"See, his behavior isn't nearly as berserk as it looks. And if he really felt so remorseful, he'd help clean up."

David was never physically violent (outside of towards himself, which was a wonderfully emotional way to be violent towards me). But time after time, this mysterious illness that siphoned off energy to do anything that required shouldering actual responsibility magically never got in the way of him doing the things he wanted to do.

His depression wasn't nearly as berserk (or depressed) as it looked. And for the tens of thousands of dollars he misspent, he never, EVER attempted to make up for it. Not even a few dollars. Not even after insisting to high heaven, to the very foundation of our relationship that was cracking, that he would.

He never even tried. The only thing he did was to repeat the behavior when he got the next chunk of money. If he really felt remorseful, he would have helped clean up the mess.

It's sad to note that David only began to consider mental health treatment when it became obvious that without a psychiatric note, he would not qualify for his school loans. The school needed paperwork to appeal his case, as he'd tried the year before to claim depression but had nothing to show the school that he was attempting to treat it.

So off he went to the clinic to get an intake done, and off I was so proud of him for getting help, and then pretty much immediately dropped out of any therapy at all. He got the note, dropped out of therapy, and then lied about the thousands of dollars when he did finally qualify for his loan.

Like, it was maddening enough that he only sought treatment long enough to get the school to give him money. The enraging part was that he got that money and then blew it all. All that effort I'd done for him - taking him to the clinics, calling clinics, calling like A MILLION of them, going with him to intakes, etc etc ad fucking naseum, and he STILL misspent the loan money and then STILL lied about it.

(And then blamed that on depression, too. Like, for serious. That's a whole other entry there, the argument we had over WHY he misspent that money. Again. W.T.F.)

See, David's behavior around his depression wasn't nearly as mysterious as it seemed. He used the depression thing in the exact, precise manner it would take to get him that money. It took me a long, long time to SEE that it wasn't mysterious.

The more I go on, the more I'm beginning to think the money parts of the mistreatment were deliberate. It'd have to be, because money doesn't just vanish. You have to actively spend it. There's actual effort involved in that. The whole "I just don't know what happened to it" fails to be in any way an explanation.

Well, that seems to be most of the relationship. Funnily enough, I remember he was much more excited about getting diagnosed AND getting medication when he thought he'd get an Adderall or Ritalin prescription. The depression had sapped soooooo much energy, you see, and he was SURE that he'd be getting himself a nice bottle of government grade speed as treatment.

I told him he wouldn't, after all, as depression is not generally treated by stimulants. He insisted that he wasn't really suffering from depression, but lack of focus.

Once he got the diagnosis of dysthymia and his low dose of anti-depressant, suddenly getting treatment was a far less exciting idea.


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These are REALLY GOOD tips, guys, thank you! And Disgruntled, I LOVE that idea of making a list. I like making lists - they make me feel productive and in control of myself.

The set time and off is a little, well, NOT, as it turns out. The start time is between 11 and noon, depending on what they need that week. That's negligible. The END time?

That's anywhere between 9:30 and 11:00 PM....with mostly 11 PM being the end time. That's right, folks, I'll be working lots of 12 hour shifts. That actually made me blanche upon finding that out. I'm gonna do it, because MAD BANK, but it's going to be a heeellllll of a thing to manage, timewise.

I messaged Pat and breathlessly begged him to encourage me and keep encouraging me. I also told him to be GENTLE when I inevitably complain. I told Jesse to expect some heightened crazy due to working 12 hour shifts for most of the week, and that he needed to be gentle with that crazy. "Nothing will enrage me quicker," I told Pat and Jesse, "than not getting recognition for how hard working this schedule is going to be."

Especially, as I told both of them, that I will now be doing something NEITHER of them do. Not even Pat, whose only worked A COUPLE of 12 hour shifts in his whole life. Nothing pisses me off faster than being lectured to do something by someone who has not and has NEVER done what they are lecturing me about.

So I let them both know, right off the bat, what kind of support I'll need. Even a whiff of the previous bullshit they both rained down on me when I was vomiting profusely and decided not to go into work will be met with....well, a very angry Livejournal post, some extremely harsh words to the boys and depending on how tired I am, possibly some crying.

So yeah, got THAT taken care of. Off with pre-empetive righteous indignation and back to the rest of the post.

2 PM sounds like a good time to make those lists, Disgruntled. Well, it'll be 5 at my job, the third break (we get five of them, 4 fifteen minutes and a half hour lunch. Half hour lunch YES!). There is always that hour, isn't there, that just fucking drags, no matter what, isn't there? So make lists, grocery lists, bill lists, Things To Do Lists.

I'm thinking of doing it on my phone, but I like the idea of having one of those HYUGE calendars where I can write stuff on. Put it above my couch, where I sit, where I casually look up at, like, five million times a day.

I assume each of those kinds of lists are separate? Do you have a Master List or anything?

And Noss, that's what Jesse says his exwife did - all her business calls on lunches and breaks. I LIKE that idea. I haaate phone calls and will put them off until whatever it is is almost too late to handle by phone. If I do it at lunch, that means that I HAVE to be quick and expedient. I will totally be making my wish to GTFO the phone work FOR me.

2 hours seems a long block to schedule for things like errands and housework, but if I think about it, on the days when I DO have errands AND housework, it takes up about two hours. I hadn't at all considered staggering those two things - like errands on one day, housework on another. That's BRILLIANT!

Writing might be a more productive - and sanity saving - task to do when I've got the occasional hour lunch that they throw on us, Cm. Especially working so much, the crazy is bound to get more crazy. A quick writing break - a half hour, 15 minutes - during the day will probably do me WORLDS of good. I can bring pen and paper - doin' it old-skoooool.

And Noss, that's pretty much what I'll be doing here soon. I'm not working 3rd shift, but a late 2cd, so I know when I come home all I'm going to want to do is eat and crash. So setting things up where they can be easily set up MORE in the morning (or at least finalized) is a fantastic idea. No big rush when I get home, but prepare enough so there's no big rush when I wake up, either.

I generally set my alarm about two hours before I have to leave to work (and I leave early enough to get there 15 minutes EARLY). So that means I'm up 2.5 hours before my shift starts. But with this whole 12 hour thing, I might wind up setting my alarm for only an hour earlier. It just takes me so long to wake up, what with the sedatives, and if I don't write in the mornings, before I set out to do anything else for the day, EVERYTHING else just seems SO MUCH HARDER for the rest of the day.

These really, really good suggestions, guys. I appreciate them. Thank you so much. I feel like a kid having to ask these sorts of things, but I try to remember that these are things that you aren't born knowing how to do. It's trial and error, watching those around you, and learning how to do as other people suggest you to do.

Other people include you guys. Thank you. Thank you SO MUCH!

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There were certain things you could not say in my house growing up. "Hey Mom, I think Jim's a pedophile," or "Why are we eating grape jelly AGAIN?!" being among them. But one of the more prominent things you could not say in my household was "I hate you."

This actually seems to be a good rule. It's held such sway over Cassie and I that even now, 30 some odd years later, when Audrey or Julien let slip that forbode phrase, both of us would turn around and exclaim "We DO NOT say we hate each other in this house!".

We tell the kids they can say all kinds of awful things. They can call each other meanie poopie heads to the end of days. They CANNOT use the words "I hate you."

It just amazes me how ingrained that rule was. Without even thinking about it, decades down the line, that was the automatic response kicked out of Cassie's and I's mouths.

And strangely enough, it's something that's also held true for Cassie and I. I've never told her I hate her, and for all of the awful things she's said to me, she's never used the phrase "I hate you" towards me.

It's hard writing about Cassie sometimes. I mean, hard in a very grammatical, syntax sort of matter. I get my tenses all mixed up. Were, was, is. The past and present get tangled, especially when we start tossing in my "what I wish could be's" into it.

I missed her today. In the car on the way home from work. The damn radio DJ had put on a damn sad song and I started to damn cry. (That...does not work written like that. Oh well. My journal MY RULES!) I miss her so much sometimes. And sometimes, like today, it wasn't in a way that was about missing her laugh, or her smile, or her ribald jokes that ALWAYS crack me up.

I was missing the part of my heart where she should be.

I can generally keep thoughts of her corralled in a pen off to the side of my mind, of my heart, where I can focus on the insane woman that she is and not the sister that I had so long relied on. But some days, for whatever reason, the fence gets knocked down, or it falls over, and for a few moments, I am absolutely undone with grief for her.

The thing that gets me the worst is this: For every single day that passes that I think of her, for every single damn day that passes knowing that I will be thinking of her for every single day for the rest of my life...I know she is thinking the same thing. I know she is feeling the same way.

I know not a single day passes where she does not think of me, just as I think of her every single day, too. Our love is too deep and too broken to be otherwise. Maybe this sounds like I am trying convince myself that I am still important to her. But I believe her when she's said even if I'm not there, she can hear me everywhere she goes.

I am as much of a ghost to her as she is to me. I haunt her as she does me. You'd think this would make it easier. It does not. It just makes it hurt more. We do not have to be ghosts to each other. We both are still alive, in our 30's...but as she has continued to kill herself, I have had to leave. All that's left in my wake are chains to be rattled, as whatever ethereal version of me she has wanders the hallways of her heart.

"Precious, ridiculous grief", I said to myself as I pulled into the apartment parking lot. My grief for her, overdrawn for decades, and yet occasionally beautiful in that way that heartbreak often is. It's melodramatic, possibly unhealthy, but I will defend this to the day die, this idea, this SOMETHING that corners a strikingly large part of my heart. Something like us. Something like sisters. Something like love, not hate.

The hole in my heart at least proves something was once there.

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You pedantic ass motherfucker

The novelty of working full time has worn off and I am left with learning how to manage my time effectively. I've got 5 hours, maybe 6 if I stretch it, of free time on a workday. That has to be split up between mornings and nights. I suck at managing my time and so I haven't found the rhythm yet.

I haven't worked such late hours in a long, long time, and for a morning person, this will take some adjusting. The awesomeness of being able to sleep later with my Seroquel, of having the time before work to do errands, is, well, awesome, but I'll still have to learn how to adjust my time for getting off closer to midnight than not.

Does anyone have any tips, suggestions, experience, or advice to offer about managing your time when working full time hours? I could seriously, SERIOUSLY use it.

I also think we have an hour lunch. I haaaaate hour lunches. Half an hour is perfect for me. Anymore than that and I get bored and start casting about for something to do. An hour is also just long enough for me to notice how much I'm aching. Part of surviving manual labor is staying on your feet. Keep moving. Don't relax too long or you'll start to feel it.

I suppose I could just bring a book. An hour lunch would, at the very least, allow me to shovel in a few more smokes. At the previous place, I could only get in four smokes in a ten hour period. I smoke two packs a day. My entire day was one big, long nic fit. Sometimes it ended with me practically diving into my car and lighting up.

(But better than the two and a half packs I was smoking before I started working. Hell, somedays that was actually up to THREE packs. I apparently hate my lungs and wish to do them grave ill.)

Still, I'm excited to start today. Better pay, better hours, and this time, I'm full up on my meds. Now having a vague idea of what warehouse work entails, I'd laid out my work clothes yesterday. I'd refilled my stapler, gathered pens and permanent markers, loaded up my work apron. I made my lunch, put water bottles in the freezer, put together a couple of snacks I could eat on break. (I've discovered that food during your shift is kind of a necessity for warehouse work. Or at least it is for me, now that I'm not 22 and invincible.)

I made sure that everything was ready to go last night. I loathe having to hunt around looking for things before I leave for work. I despise doing that in general, just on sheer principle. After so many years of living with David, who NEVER woke up on time, who could NEVER find what he needed before we left, and who was CONSTANTLY making me late, I've become even more diligant about putting things together the night before.

God, what an endless argument that was with David. He once even had the balls to argue that he didn't take as long to get ready as I did, which meant that my assertation of him making us late wasn't valid.

To which I then said, "You get up HOURS LATE and then spend another HOUR looking for stuff. Sure, that might be three hours less than the four hours I require to be awake to go anywhere. I KNOW I need four hours and so I GET UP four hours earlier. You refuse to wake up earlier and so WE ALWAYS ARE LATE BECAUSE OF YOUR INABILITY TO GET YOUR ASS OUT OF BED AND FIND YOUR SHIT ON TIME."

It doesn't matter if he took an hour to get ready or three. The fact is that he never managed his time effectively enough to account for his getting-ready-time. Y'know, like an adult fucking should.

I'm pretty convinced he didn't think he actually took any longer to get ready. I do know at that point, he gave up trying to convince me that he wasn't always running late and instead planted his pedantic ass on the phrase "getting ready" instead of "YOU MOTHERFUCKER, I CAN'T AFFORD TO BE LATE TO CLASS ONE MORE TIME."

I use a lot of run-on sentences when I get angry. Oh well.

He also pulled this "manage your time like a fucking toddler" bullshit when it came to things like sleep or game or hanging out with his friends. Twice a week, sometimes more, he'd force himself to stay up for 24 hours at a shot to hang out with friends and then be too tired for work, for school, to clean, to go to therapy, ad fucking nauseam. ('Ad fucking nauseum' is my new favorite phrase concerning him.)

As I say, he had all the energy and will in the world to do the things he wanted. And as he said - and as I accepted - he didn't enjoy doing those things, so it didn't matter how much responsibility he was blowing off in order to go do those things.

I mean, seriously, teenagers pull that shit. I would always tell David this isn't high school, you can't sleep through your classes. He'd nod and then come game night, be up 24 hours again, to whine the next morning (ha, afternoon, because staying up so late means you get to crash the next day and claim that you just can't figure out why your sleep schedule is so fucked) about how the depression has stolen his energy and that's why he couldn't scoop out the litterboxes or go to class or look for a job.

I feel like a broken record. I've been talking about this issue, these issues, for over a year now. We all know he managed his time badly. We all know he blew off any kind of adult living. I am unable to bring up his school record without screaming that I'm the one who paid for it, in entry after entry. None of this is new information.

But here I am, talking about it as if it were a new subject. It's totally NOT. But I can't NOT talk about it, either. I know you guys understand. That's a big relief.

And I don't really need reassurance (at least not at this moment) that's it's OKAY to talk about him, because I believe you guys when you've said already that it's okay to talk about him. I didn't mean for this to turn into a David hate entry. (Not that there's anything WRONG with a David-hate entry. Just didn't plan on that becoming the focus of what I'm writing this morning.)

It's really amazing to me just how pervasive that relationship was, how it seeps into so much of my life NOW, that any random issue I'm writing about DOES have ties into David. I guess that's okay, at least for now.

I think I've got everything ready to go to work. I should double check, though. I'd hate to forget my apron. Or god forbid, my cigarettes. Oh yeah, DEFINITELY got to check for THAT.

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