Monday, August 01, 2005

Psycho exes, seven minutes of work, the opposite of summer

I enjoy looking at pictures from the season opposite the one I'm living in. I took this picture last winter with my little busted Nikon CoolPix. Look how *cold* that looks. Today, it was 94 degrees in this same park. As much as I dislike winter and the cold, I still find it interesting to contemplate the extremes of seasonality in the place where I live. It's been as hot as 106 here and as cold as -24. That's quite a range.

Work was slow today. That's putting it mildly. I did exactly seven minutes of actual work today, as you may have guessed from the post title. I suppose it makes up for those days I have so much work that I skip lunch and stay late. I feel kind of bad, though. I'm getting paid to sit in my Herman Miller Aeron chair and look at blogs. To what higher power do I owe such good fortune?

I talked to my brother today, briefly. The poor child is living through poison ivy hell. Apparently he and the wifey stopped by my parents' house earlier today with their new puppy, and the girl was actually civil to my mother--although she wouldn't speak to/make eye contact with my dad. It's a step in the right direction, at any rate. I just don't understand. And I don't want to spend any more mental energy breaking my brain trying to understand. When I talked to my brother, I called him on his cell phone rather than their shared landline. I told him of the hot-water remedy and he said he'd used it the night before with miraculous results. We talked about his dogs, briefly, and then we hung up. It was almost a normal conversation. It was good to talk to him. I hope we can do it again in the future.

This evening, I picked up the page proofs for a book index I'm doing for my ex. She was in bad shape. She's been having a really hard time the past couple years, going through one bad relationship after another. I knew it was going to be awkward and she was probably going to have some sort of meltdown so I was prepared for it somewhat when she started saying she kept hearing this voice inside her head that screamed "what's the point" over and over, and that she was confused, couldn't write more than one sentence without forgetting what she was doing, and dealing with getting this book published was making her want to slit her wrists. She started crying and couldn't articulate her words. When she cries, it's more of a nervous breakdown, she does this little shrieking thing and starts jerking and sort of grabbing at things and like, I don't know, fuck. It's really disturbing to see. She had a breakdown when we were at Borders one time and I was about two seconds from calling an ambulance. It scared the shit out of me. But I've gotten better at handling it now that I've been exposed to it several times.

Once, when we were dating, we drove down to go camping in Kentucky. It was about a three hour car ride so we just talked the whole time, playing the questions game. I rather jokingly asked her if she had a secret that she'd never told anyone before. She blurted out, my brother sexually abused me for years. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment. The blur of humidity in the air, the thickness I suddenly felt in my veins, the stink of my own suddenly-sprung sweat, the chill of the car's air conditioner blowing on my skin. The stillness after she said it. Jesus. Everything about her suddenly made sense.

It didn't work out with us. And I felt terrible about not loving her. She was so lonely. She needed so, so much more than any human on this planet will ever be able to give her. It's desperate, and naked, and stark, and I couldn't do it. We didn't talk for a while after we broke up, and then we gradually morphed back into becoming friends when she started dating somebody new, who got to the same point I did with her, and dumped her. And so did the next one. And the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

Ugh. I feel weird writing any of that down. Her small body is the repository for more psychological pain than it seems capable of holding. I feel terrible for her, but I can't fix her. I tried. I managed to at least have her smiling and even laughing by the time I left, but it felt like a quick fix, duct tape on a broken water pipe. I've suggested before that she see a therapist (such a delicate suggestion to have to make to someone). She said she tried it and it didn't help. I think one day, she'll probably do enough damage to herself in some sort of depressed rage that she'll probably kill herself, but I have no idea how to prevent that from happening. I've been there for enough of these breakdowns. I certainly know she's capable of it. And know that she'd take it as the ultimate betrayal if I tried to stop her if it came to it, or she'd get so out of her own head that she'd try to assault any EMTs I might call in desperation.

Oy. A lot to handle when I just went over there to pick up the page proofs. She actually let me give her a hug before I left, which is a good sign; usually she freaks if you get close enough to touch her when she's like that.

I feel grateful that I'm not in that state. It scares the shit out of me. Dealing with it scares the shit out of me. I'm glad as hell to come home to M and stability and three dogs who demand nothing more of me but that I feed them and let them out to do their business and snuggle with them in the morning when we wake up. M and I took them for a walk when I got home and it made me feel better. I talked about the situation with M and he was sympathetic. He is the greatest. I am so lucky.

All in all, a day that made me appreciate what I have all the more.

And tomorrow, I start the index. Fun.


At August 02, 2005 1:22 AM, Anonymous Heather said...

That picture looks like my apt feels right now. It's amazing how cool it is in the middle of the night.

I've gone through that type of shit before with a couple of friends. It's amazing how powerless it makes you feel to have a friend in that situation. All you want in the world is to be able to fix it, but you can't; in the end they have to figure it out on their own. All you can do is be there for them in whatever way they'll allow.

Good news about your new sister in law though! Or at least as good as it can get I suppose... hopefully that situation keeps getting better.

At August 02, 2005 5:17 AM, Anonymous em said...

my sister deals herman miller chairs! lately i have to hear of them constantly- i don't think i ever heard of them before this year-

i have an unstable ex- i called 911 on him two times and ended up looking like an idiot when he wouldn't go- its a lot of strain on a person to keep wondering whether you love someone or feel really badly for them- it is one thing to feel like someone wants to have you around, another to feel afraid to leave them alone to say, take a shower, go to work...

its so much different when you get to just live your life and be happy with someone who just wants to do the same- i feel sad for people who can't get to that point-

anyway- glad about your sister in law, too

At August 02, 2005 7:56 AM, Blogger cmhl said...

that is really sad about your ex, she sounds like she is really hanging on by her fingernails. you are a good person to talk to her & try to help her.

At August 02, 2005 9:09 AM, Blogger Indigo said...

Wow, that was pretty deep, but at the same time I completely understand what you are saying. I would have a hard time just walking away, knowing that I did the best I could, and not feeling completely guilty about it. I'd want to leave, and think about it, but in the end the anal part of me would continue trying to fix. Anyhow, that's bravery on your part, IMO.

Great picture.

At August 02, 2005 12:15 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Great picture! The fact that you and the ex are still friends means a lot to her, I'm sure. Don't try to change her; she will change on her own if she wants to. Just be there as her friend.

At August 02, 2005 1:22 PM, Blogger greg said...

beautiful picture j. thanks for the nice words about by mom. part iii is coming. i am often fascinated by things that other people don't think about much. you mentioned the temperature range in cincy. have you ever thought about what a genuinely frigid phenomenon life is, as we know it. the temperature range is from absolute zero (-273C), the point at which molecular motion all but ceases to millions of degrees Celsius. isn't it incredible that life exists in the deepest of deep freezes. perhaps some sort of life exists in those higher temperatures, but we certainly can't comprehend what it would be. we're like the popsicles of the universe. makes you wonder if god really does have a sense of humor.

At August 02, 2005 2:25 PM, Blogger deputyswife said...

Thats great you talked to your brother. At least he wants to be a part of the family. That is what is important.

I don't know how to deal with people when they are in a depressed state. I just shut down myself. I think because I am scared that I will say the wrong thing. Hang in there though, sounds like she does need a friend.

At August 02, 2005 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,, glad to have found your blog (glad you commented on Mystic Housewife. I felt very moved by this post, very honestly and tenderly written. Also, I'm utterly intrigued - how did you find a job as a proofreader (it's my dream job, no kidding)???
Gotta go, the kids have gnawed through the ropes ...

At August 02, 2005 4:45 PM, Anonymous E said...

You've said this to me before, but I need to say it back to you...your honesty is what kept me coming back to your site when we first "met". You write with heart and you care deeply about your loved ones. I admire you for how you handle your friends and crazy family situations. I'm proud to consider you a friend.

Sounds like the healing has begun with your brother, and for that, I'm happy for you.

At August 02, 2005 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

something very awakening about seeing the winter pictures in summer... the story about you ex is heartbreaking, but told so well. you have some real writing talent, i'll look forwrd to checking out your other blog when i have some time...

At August 03, 2005 9:09 AM, Blogger Spenceman said...

Thanks for the comments on my blog. I appreciate them and admire your blog as well.

At August 03, 2005 3:53 PM, Anonymous Jenelle said...

Sorry for the "disappearing" act!
It sounds like maybe your ex is hoping that someone will come along to fix her inner turmoil. What she should know is that only she can fix herself...(I'm speaking from personal experiance). You can't fix someone for them, it's purely a personal journey.
Glad to see you talking to your brother!!!
Oh! And, as usual, LOVE the pics :)

At August 03, 2005 5:25 PM, Blogger BG said...

You have a nice chair!

At August 04, 2005 8:08 AM, Anonymous M said...

"Sometimes, life just bulldozes people."
I wish I'd said that myself, but that's what always pops into my head with these trainwrecks of friends we all have.


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