The Absence of Presence – Part One

I began writing this on November 6th while I was back in Michigan. Things have happened since then, and will be in the next few posts.


My mother is dying.

For many of you, this statement strikes a powerful and poignant chord in your hearts as you envision how you would feel were your own mother dying, or as you remember how you did feel when she passed. I empathize with you deeply, and envy you having a relationship with your mother that was different from me with mine.

My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder, which brings with it histrionic, manipulative, and generally cruel behaviors. While she stopped short of physical abuse, the emotional and psychological abuses were vicious. Because I didn’t know how dysfunctional our family was until I was in my thirties, I felt “close” to my mother for a few decades before realizing what we had was not closeness at all, but a wildly co-dependent relationship. I was the very definition of a preoccupied child.

My mother raised me to be both ego-maniacal and incredibly insecure. Depending upon her mood, I was both the best and worst possible child a mother could ever have, and I’ve written about that elsewhere on this blog. To this day, I still wrestle with low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and other psychological and emotional issues as a result of her unceasing, relentless judgment. Fortunately for me, a gang of wonderful millennials taught this old dog some new interpersonal and personal tricks, and I’ve been so enriched by following their example. Thus, anyone who denigrates millennials as a whole will receive an entire earful from me about “not all millennials,” and how my particular kids have given me a lot of hope for the future of our species.

I don’t remember why she was crying here, but this was before The Great Schism.

In 2010, my mother was in a very minor 5mph car accident in which she hit her head including a direct blow to her Broca’s area on the driver’s side window, which left her with very bad paraphasia, visual disturbances (including the inability to make sense of written words or letters,) bad coordination, and terrible memory issues. Her life was irrevocably altered in an instant due to the misconduct of one reckless driver, as was my ability to reconcile any issues from my childhood with her – she simply did not remember them, and, cruelly, could not remember why I resented her so much. She only remembered the happy times, whereas I mostly remembered the bad.

I’ll spare you the lengthy details of the ensuing legal battles with her insurance company, but suffice to say she was completely screwed from every quarter. Despite the fact we had not spoken in over two years, I became her legal Guardian and Conservator, as well as her primary caretaker for over a year. It was unpleasant for both of us, and I admit I resented her the entire time.

Due to the duration of the legal battle, and the pitiful insurance settlement she received, she lost her car, her home, and most of her belongings. After 15 months, I could no longer stand it, and I surrendered Guardianship and Conservatorship to a law firm who specialized in those things. They’ve done a good job, as far as I can tell.

Since surrendering responsibilities, I have not seen or spoken to my mother. I learned she had been placed into an assisted living apartment because she was not safe living on her own. Then, she went into full-fledged adult foster care in a hospital facility. Last month, her case worker phoned to say she was not doing well and I should come see her if it was important to me to speak to her before she died. She wasn’t expected to pass immediately, so I had some time to decide.

I debated a lot as to whether I wanted to go back home to say goodbye. 90% of me did not. I sought my friends’ advice, which was overwhelmingly (and gently) this: Go, because you may regret it if you don’t. Go for yourself, if not for her. Go, in case she might recognize you. Go, unless it will truly destroy you as a person. Go, because you’re more likely to regret not going than having gone. Go.

Thus, when I received the call last week that she was in the end stages, I booked a flight for the next day and made arrangements.

This was how she looked about a year ago in a photo taken by my aunt:

Such a lost, yet hopeful expression; it just about makes me cry to look at.

Driving over to the facility, I made attempts to steel myself for this visit, but I had no idea what to expect. I realized I couldn’t very well prepare myself for whatever lay ahead and surrendered to whatever was going to happen. I was both relieved to be alone and also really wanting “Walter” with me. Business had taken him back home, and he could not come along. He told me I was strong, and that I could do this. Part of me believed him. Part of me was glad he wouldn’t see me crumple because that would surely inevitably happen.

When I arrived at the absolutely wonderful rehab facility that has been her home for the last year, I parked and went inside. Registering at the desk, I received her room number and directions. Exiting the elevator, I knew I was scant moments from seeing what I didn’t want to see, but had to see.

I approached her room, which was near the end of a hall. Inside, two beds, both empty. Some personal effects I recognized as inherently “Mom.” The beds’ mattresses were thin, much like camp cot mattresses atop frames that could be hand-cranked to raise and lower head and feet. There wasn’t much in the way of noticeable smells.

I knocked softly and called, “hello?” as I peeked inside. To my immediate left, two nurses had a gruesome figure in the shower. I saw this wretched, skin-and-bones, whimpering … the only word that comes to mind is “hag” of a woman being held up and firmly but gently sponge bathed. I don’t use “hag” as a derogatory term here: It is the only word I can use to convey the grimness of the apparition before me. Skin hung off her bones from head to foot, her breasts swung around her waist, bones jutted from her hips and legs, her normally dyed-dark-brunette hair was shoulder length, wild, and completely gray, her face a contorted rictus of misery. She was whimpering in misery almost constantly, in obvious physical and emotional distress.

The expression she wears here is how she appears most of the time – in agony. In hell.

Thus it was I saw my mother for the first time in over five years.

I would never have recognized her.

I stepped back into the hallway to preserve her privacy in such a state of misery and nakedness. I was stunned, heart-broken. My aunt had sent me a photo to help prepare me for what I was going to see, but even it didn’t show anything near the depths of despair to which my mother had sunk. When she went into assisted living, I would imagine she weighed well over 200 pounds. Now? Perhaps 100. When I last saw her, she was oriented and aware of her surroundings, had a sense of herself, and could remember some things about the past. Here? No longer.

When I told the two lovely women who I was, they were astonished. “Lynn!” exclaimed one woman with a beautiful central African accent. “Lynn! Your daughter is here!”

I heard a whining, barely-audible mumble from the skeletal figure. The nurse replied, “I’m not lying, your daughter is here!”

After a few minutes, they had finished bathing her and dressing her in what must have been clothes from the Goodwill, and then helped her teeter-shuffle out of the bathroom. They managed to get her into her Jerry chair, a wheeled medical chair with a locking tray to hold her in – an adult-sized high chair, as it were.

I knelt before her, overwhelmed with compassion and sadness.

Continue Reading: Part Two

 

Mid-Life Cliche

A couple of years before I officially left my (now ex-) husband, I noticed I was exhibiting all the symptoms of A Mid-Life Crisis.

I was 42, and I bought a Harley on a whim.

Thanks to work, I was hanging out with people far, far younger than I was.

We were going out to the bar several nights a week, and I was drinking more than I ever had in my whole life (which is not to say I was drinking a lot – just more often; I’m not much of a drinker.) I bought a BAC meter to keep in my car, because I wasn’t sure I knew where my limits were, being such a booze amateur.

I reallllly stepped things up a notch when I left my husband in 2014, immediately started dating someone 19 years my junior, and began living the single life again. I can’t say I was “out of control,” but I was not acting like myself.

He was young, he was half-insane, but he was sweet and he was hot, and I loved him.

“Not acting like myself.” Which is to say… I was having a hell of a lot of fun. I’m not someone who usually “has fun;” I might enjoy some things more than others, but when out in the world with other people, mostly, I “tolerate” it.

Since October of 2014, however, damn – life has been good. Sure, it’s been kind of a cliche, too – I bleached my hair blonde, I dye it crazy colors, I spend a fuckton of money on clothes and shoes and other shit I never thought twice about. I dated three other people almost 20 years my junior, one of whom was married with kids (good choices, edar!)

I bought a car far more expensive than I had any right to own.

“4-Door Sports Car” is an apt description for the Maxima. <3

I took the primary boyfriend to a Suicide Girls show, where another quasi-boyfriend showed randomly up, and that made for an interesting, fun time (no, seriously – two ridiculously hot boys in front and back of me, with mostly naked women running around on-stage? Yes frickin’ please.)

Basically, I’m doing all the stuff I should have been doing all along with my life, and was just too… reserved. Too worried about everything. Too busy over-analyzing everything to live life rather than to observe it. FOR PETE’S SAKE, I have wasted so much time.

Everyone should have a mid-life crisis, only we should have them in our twenties, when we can really take advantage of our young, healthy, strong bodies.

Then, we should keep having them, either every year, or every now and then, because they are RIDICULOUSLY FUN, YOU GUYS.

Do it. Do it all. DO ALL THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO – of course, provided you’re not going to hurt yourself or someone else in the process, et cetera.

Life is short. The middle could be anywhere.

And so could the end.

Do the things.

 

Just a Number

“Age is just a number,” if we are to believe the cliche.

It’s such a lie an alternative fact – technically true as a fact, but “age” is not “just a number;” it encompasses so much more.

I understand the sentiment behind the well-meaning saying, of course; “don’t worry about your age; people don’t judge you by how old you are.” The blissful ignorance of that statement is precious and lovely, but also naive and ignorant in so many circumstances. Hanging out every day, sure – it’s not necessarily on everyone’s minds. On an employment application? Age can mean the difference between getting a job or not.More to my point here, though: Folks, it’s not just the age – it’s the miles. It’s the shit we’ve witnessed and lived through and cried over and laughed at until we couldn’t anymore (often at ourselves.) We have seen absurdity and serenity, abject cruelty and profound compassion, acts of altruism that make us burst into tears from their sheer beauty and acts of hatred that leave us enraged and hopeless.

We have borne witness to events much bigger than any of us are, as well as millions of simple, repeated, everyday moments, and that leaves us with little choice but to expand our awareness, to become mindful of how little we know, and, for many of us, it leaves us with a deep and abiding sense of smallness. Humbleness.

I should note – that humbleness does hibernate at times. I am reasonably certain my ego, if unchecked, would run absolutely amok. You have only the smallest idea.

I know plenty of people younger than I am who look like they were ridden hard and put away wet for decades; the sun, their lives, their kids, illness, jobs – something shriveled them, some from the inside out, some from the outside in. I also know people older than I am who look a decade or more younger.

I’ve been fortunate to apparently have good anti-visible-aging genes, and it probably helps that I’ve never spent a bunch of time sunbathing, or wearing a shitton of chemicals on my face. But the wrinkles are creeping in – first, around my eyes, now a bit around my mouth. It’s making me panic just ever so slightly, just occasionally. Now and then. Infrequently.

For now. I am certain it will increase and intensify if I do not get ahead of this looming trainwreck.

That ego is glancing around the edges of the mirror, finding each and every pore, every imperfection, every scar, every smidgen of evidence I am Not As Young As I Once Was, and she wails in despair. Oh, the unfairness of it all. Youth is wasted on the young! Get off my fucking lawn! Et cetera.

Both helping and hindering reconciling ego with reality is this: Since 2008, the vast majority of people in my life have been significantly younger than I am; I work with primarily twenty-somethings, with a few thirty-somethings peppered in there. Almost no one at my company is 40 years old or older. Most of the kids I work with are remarkably more mature than I ever was at their age – hell, some of them are more mature than I am now – and I have remarked before upon how much they have helped me to grow and develop as a human, for which I am eternally thankful.

I’ve been very fortunate that my team/tribe has been very accepting of an older person in their midst. For a long time, most of them did not realize how large the age gap is between us, but they recognized it was there. Many politely suggested they thought I was in my early-to-mid thirties (thanks, good genes!) and seldom have any of them seemed to really judge me for my age. There have been times when I’ve felt like Jane Goodall – even to the point of having mental conversations/note-taking sessions in that vein:

The young tribe members are wary and uneasy today; I let it slip I had never once in my life played a Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Brothers game. This was a rookie move; my inclusion has ebbed slightly as a result. I must find a way to regain their trust and once again move with them as a troop member. “Hey, how about those Pokemons?!” did not have the desired effect. I will consult with my source text – The Urban Dictionary – for better vocabulary consistency.

Sure, it’s a source of some good-natured teasing, and a lot of groaning on my part when I realize these people have zero context for formative parts of my life, and indeed, most were not alive before I went to college. It’s sobering. Humbling.

But it’s also helped me come to terms with things much better. I hid my age pretty obsessively until the last few months, when I decided “oh, fuckit. If Dana Delaney can be out and proud about turning 60 and looking fucking amazing, then who am I to keep hiding it?” Out of the mid-life closet I tumbled.

She is 60 years old. Yes, seriously. Right?! She looks a hell of a lot younger than I do.

 

 

 


I am 46.

I spent most of 2015 and 2016 saying I was 46, when I was actually 45, but whatever.

The guy I was dating until about a month ago was 28. The guy before that – 26. My husband was 9 years my junior. Thus, I have a bit of a history with younger men, sure, because I’m fucking surrounded by them and have no life outside of work.

The person who just asked me out is about 24. He’s an insanely mature 24, but I think that is too young even for me, no matter how well-traveled, well-read, ridiculously attractive, and generally amazing he might be. My entire brain balks at that number – nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, NOPE.

Of course, were he to know my age, he’d probably be NOPE-ing right along with me.

Men dating (often significantly) older women is quite a trend now, according to some sources, so I’m apparently not alone, but I’m not entirely comfortable with that large an age gap.

Per usual, I have digressed.

Just as I cannot fathom the perspective of someone 15 years my senior, these kids cannot fathom the things I have seen and done, and why I have answers to many of their questions. Why I can offer seemingly sage advice – it’s not because I am “wise,” my friends; it is because I have made a fuckton of mistakesmany of them more than once. I learned the hard way most of the time. I’ve seen many other people make similar mistakes, and have learned from them, as well.

When older people say, “someday, you’ll understand,” we’re not trying to be patronizing or dismissive of your life experience – we just know it to be true in more cases than not. Just as once cannot innately understand how the Krebs cycle works until we’ve seen it in action and have actually put the time in learning about it, we cannot expect to have the life perspective we’ll have 5 years hence.

Aging, like life in general, is not for the faint of heart. Today, a Physician’s Assistant at my doctor’s office told me (of my extreme sciatic pain,) “ah, you’re almost as old as I am; yeah, this is probably going to keep happening, and it’s probably going to get worse as you age.”

Great! Thanks!!

Naturally, that reminded me (as many things do) of a Louis CK bit:

As a parting note for those of you youngsters reading this: These are all things that have happened while I have been alive (source: http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe70s/worldevents_01.html:)

  • Nixon was President
  • Anwar Sadat became President of Egypt
  • Apollo 15 lands on the moon and uses the Lunar Rover vehicle for the first time.
  • The microprocessor was introduced.
  • The environmentalist group Greenpeace was founded.
  • Watergate
  • Roe v. Wade legalized abortion
  • Beverly Johnson became the first black model on the cover of Vogue or any other major fashion magazine. (Important aside: THAT IS HOW RECENTLY SHIT LIKE THIS HAPPENED. IN MY LIFETIME.)
  • The United States Bicentennial
  • Microsoft and Apple come into being as companies
  • Elvis died
  • The original Star Wars is released… and I watched it in the theater.
  • Jim Jones/Jonestown
  • Three Mile Island
  • Iranian hostage crisis
  • John Lennon killed
  • The wreck of the Titanic is discovered
  • First woman appointed to Supreme Court (not so long ago, eh?)
  • AIDS identified
  • US invades Grenada
  • First woman goes into space
  • Hole in the ozone layer discovered
  • Chernobyl explosion
  • Challenger explosion
  • DNA used for the first time in a criminal case
  • Berlin Wall came down
  • First computer virus reported
  • Exxon Valdez disaster

This brings us to 1990, a time by which most (but certainly not all) of my people were at least born, if not fully aware of the world around them.

I am as susceptible as anyone else to think of “anything that happened before I was around happened forever ago,” (for example, I spent the first 10-15 years of my life thinking Black Americans had been treated like equals for easily 50-75 years – that racism was truly a thing of The Past. Tragic.)

I was about to launch into another whole thing about Trump and the things he’s destroying that we’ve worked so hard for during my lifetime, but I’m spent. Thank your lucky stars. 😉

Careening Pinball

A few days ago, someone to whom I had not spoken in a very long time wrote a lengthy, wonderful, deeply touching bunch of words to me when I really needed them. Much of it I cannot share, because it’s just too much, but this bit – this really helped me to wrap my brain around a bit of why I have been so extraordinarily lucky to have people sometimes pay attention to what I say and do, who wish me well, and who seem to truly care about what happens to me:

We want you to win. We see ourselves in you. You’ve managed to channel the angst and hope and struggle and random joy of life into a strange and wonderful arrangement. We want to know it works, that there’s a better way, or at least another way. “If Erin, that careening pinball, can make it, doing all that crazy shit, maybe I can do this.”

“Careening pinball.”

Adding that to my usual “Tornado/Catalyst” self-description lexicon.

All of My WTF

My team at work is a tight group: Most of us get along ridiculously well, love and care about each other, and are a wonderful support group for our team members. I treasure almost every one of them like family – indeed, they are my family at this point.

After much agonizing thought, I recently decided to take another job, leaving my beloved LW friends and tribemates after four wonderful years this time around, and more than two years a bit before that. This place has been the biggest part of my life since 2008. These people are my life, and we depend upon each other – I feel like such a traitor by leaving.

In my opening paragraph, I wrote, “I treasure almost every one of them;” “almost” because the person who acquaintance-raped me is on our team, and I most definitely do not treasure him.

Last night, I received a text message from him:


Will this number work later?
Just found out some news and Im not sure if its true but it makes me extremely depressed.
either way, happy valentines day. Know that you are loved!

Let me know if you can.
2:58 AM via Project Fi


Know that I am loved. Oh, ok. Though I was still awake, I ignored him until this morning. Because I am (for the time being) forced to see him at work, I feel the need to be civil. Plus, I’m just not someone who easily dismisses anyone outright. Anyhow.


what’s up?

11:50 AM via Project Fi

I heard a rumour and I was hoping it was not true. That you might be going somewhere? It really made me sad and I just wanted you to know that everyone I know of on 2nd shift loves you and thinks the world of you.
And obviously the person that mentioned it to me slipped up and didnt mean to tell me. So Im not going to talk about it or mention it to anyone else if it is true. I dont really feel the spreading rumours is helpful.
12:25 PMvia Project Fi


When he arrived at work today, he immediately came to my desk, visibly upset. I confirmed I was, in fact, leaving. His lips trembled. He stood here for awhile, wiping away actual tears… because I’m leaving LW. I was taken aback for a moment, and literally could not find any words.

I was, to say the least, stunned by his reaction. I wanted to grab him by the face, shake him around a whole bunch, and ask him, “where was this concern when you took advantage of me? When you let me believe what happened was my fault?!”

Instead, what did I do? I comforted him. I consoled. Because that is what I fucking do when people are in distress.

Afterward, I relayed the texts and the tale of his appearance at my desk to a trusted adviser, who is aware of the whole sad situation. I told him the story awhile back because I needed him to know what went on to make sure a.) I was not in any way letting on at work how much I hate this person,  b.) to ensure I was treating him fairly, and c.) to cover my ass in the event the guy came after me somehow. I love and respect this adviser so much, and trust him implicitly.

He said:


it’s your go-to
you always wanna make folks feel better, even if they don’t deserve it
you need to be more of an asshole sometimes lol


He’s probably right. I wouldn’t even know where to actually start, however.

I have no point here – I just had to share my abject befuddlement. I sat at my desk, shaking my head, trying to wrap my brain around … oh, everything.

Not having to see his face every week is a definite plus to leaving LW – one of very few happy things.

Onward!

Sand

What an odd expression, “a line in the sand.”

It has unclear origins, historically, and may be based entirely upon a misunderstanding of words Jesus is said to have spoken.

The thing about sands is they shift. They move with the slightest breeze. 

A line in the sand is quickly blurred, and soon eradicated altogether. A gust of wind, a small wave, a footstep – gone.

Ironically, I have found my line in the sand; I know what it is – at least for the moment, I do. As I have learned over the last three days, “having made up my mind” is suddenly a fluid state of being. I am certain one moment, uncertain the next, and certain of another thing four moments hence.

The gods are having a field day with my life right now, laughing uproariously as I struggle to get a handle on this rapidly-changing, constantly unfolding trainwreck. “Look,” they cackle; “she thinks she’s got it now! Wait, wait – hold my beer,” and they throw something absolutely ludicrous into the mix.

I take the blow, smash face-first into the floor, blink in abject confusion, and then stand back up again, reassessing, beginning the whole process anew, but with different rules, different information, and a deck stacked against me – the deck I myself shuffled, and either subconsciously stacked badly, or just had my usual horrifically bad luck with random number games.

This is all my own doing. I knew going in that it was a bad idea – but I didn’t realize I was going to be the one to suddenly have the shoe on the other foot. My mood this very second is nothing short of absurd – I have tripped an emotional circuit breaker of one sort or another, unplugged my ego, and am being controlled by whatever inmates run rampant in my head when I’m not at the wheel.

I keep hearing this quote from WKRP in Cincinnati back in 1979 running through my head – Johnny Fever is … doing something dumb, I assume. Someone says, “let the chips fall where they may!” to which Johnny replies, “wait… I’m the chips!”  Later, as the story unfolds, things get tense, and he murmurs in a very scared voice, “chips are falling!”

Welp – I’m both the chips and the thing making them fall here.

All of this is maddeningly vague, I’m sorry. I can’t go into details for more reasons than you can imagine, but these last three days have been a rollercoaster from the depths of hell. A ride of Shakespearean proportion. I half envision a Greek chorus following me around, providing foreshadowing to the audience – none of which I can hear, of course, because the actors don’t know about the chorus.

The irony won’t stop – it steps up its game every time I think things cannot get any more unreal.

I’ve said this many time before, and I’ll say it again – life is not for cowards. My heart-like place is just chaos – it doesn’t know what it is, what it’s for, where it’s going, why it’s here, or whether it’s even a real thing. It is simultaneously dust, and glass, and stone, and tender flesh. This is my life right now.

Unsurprisingly, from the time I began this post until now, the sands have shifted and my line is … if not gone entirely, then certainly blurred all to hell and gone. FOR THE CRAZIEST FUCKING REASON: The least likely person on the planet, almost totally literally, has put my mind at more ease than anyone else has been able to do thus far. We were having two entirely different conversations, depending upon which perspective one took, and it all worked out beautifully for both of us. And I’m at peace. For the moment, of course.

It could be matter of days, hours, or nanoseconds before I am ripped out of this “everything is hilarious/fine” mode – I’m guessing a matter of less than an hour, given the material at hand (buckle up, babycakes!!) – and then who knows what’s next. And then after that. And after that. How long can I keep this up?

Answer: Until I either don’t have to, or until I can’t.

Fuck, I wish I could go into more detail, and maybe someday, I can. But for now – just laugh with me, friends, and wish peace upon my soul. I need both.

Thanks, Mom. No, Really.

My mother taught me a lot of very bad things.

Overcoming them as much as I have has taken decades of work, and there are many casualties lying in pools of blood alongside the path.

In the featured photo, I am far, far too young to realize the patterns I was learning even then. My heart aches for that little girl and the years she has ahead.

Seldom do they serve any useful purpose – they are designed to be precise weapons of terrible destruction, of others and of myself. I’ve used them that way in the past myself, and it’s horrible to witness myself, as if from a third person, wielding them thusly. They are wicked and effective.

I have learned, however, that in gentler hands, they can be used for good. One of the habits my mother taught me was to never show signs of hurt or anger. We bottle that shit up and shut it down, because emotion is weakness. Stay in control, never let them see you bleed. That defensive behavior, in conjunction with its more offfensive siblings, results in what someone once called The Ice Queen.

I don’t like the Ice Queen; she and I are not friends. She is, however, a tale for another time.

Today, running errands amongst the thronging hordes of people, I laughed and smiled and interacted as if my whole world were not burning. No trace of the flames in my heart licked up through my eyes, the shards of glass did not protrude through my flesh – all of that was Contained. Bottled up. Hidden.

Rather than storm throughout the day, being miserable and passing along those bad vibes, I radiated positivity, friendliness, and courtesy. When encountering a genuine smile, more people than not will respond in kind, sometimes even with surprise; this makes my day. So it was everywhere I went this afternoon. I even had myself fooled.

Back in the safety and solitude of my car (which is as black as my mood,) the feelings could no longer be contained properly, and oozed out, coating me in a foul, oily aura.

Home, I gave my roommate the briefest of details as to the situation. I didn’t cry, I didn’t rage, I just stated how I was feeling, loosely describing the mental and physical anguish and distress I’ve been in for the last three days. Going into any meaningful detail would have been a different story, but I even managed to chuckle a few times at his responses, for my roommate is far too impressed with me – “Dude,” he began, “you are on an entirely different level of acceptance in life.”

He meant it as a compliment, and I took it as such, but I wonder – is there such a thing as too accepting?

There is, I’m certain – and many of the things on the mental list I just composed of “things one should not accept” are things that I am, right now, accepting. Shit.

I tell you what, friends; life is not for cowards or for the faint of heart.

 

A Fine Line

There is a very fine line between “broken” and “not broken.”

A hair’s breadth.

A moment.

A choice.

Is it possible to be crushed to bits, destroyed, yet not broken?

“Broken,” to me, implies being unable to recover, incapable of putting myself back together – I’m not there, not yet.

What I am is ground to dust. My heart, my gut, are filled with the sharpest glass, slowly shredding me. Everything in me is actively on fire.

But I am not broken. Though I may be absolutely crumbled to shit, sheer stubbornness prevents being broken – I am not going to let one cruel, cowardly, lying bastard break me forever. My pride, coupled with whatever sense of self I have, will not let this happen.

My pride, my wounds, demand his immediate and irrevocable banishment. My insecurities demand this, as well, but also wheedle to keep him close. My insecurities are conniving, two-faced assholes. My true self is ambivalent – she is honest, she is destroyed, she is furious, she is grief-stricken, heart-broken, incredulous, and filled with burning, but she loves him and believes at least some of it was real, somewhere. If she’s 100% wrong, then I’m better at fooling myself than I ever thought I was.

Was it real if only one of us was actually living it?

The thing I was living was an illusion – a lie. Of the two of us, only he knew the truth. I was living in a fantasy.

Perhaps the worst part of it all… no, there are many, many “worst parts:”

  • I believed a liar, and I doubted myself. I consciously chose to believe his lies. I looked at my gut feeling, and I looked at the words he was saying to me, and I said, “you know, I really don’t believe this, but I’m going to choose to believe him, because that is the most kind and compassionate thing I can do.” So I did.
    • Ironically, only recently, I was having a conversation with someone about being suspicious versus believing people. Every time I have this conversation, I say the same thing, and I still hold it as My Truth: It is better to believe someone and be taken for a fool later, than to disbelieve someone who is telling the truth.
    • I am furious with myself, as well, because I knew. My gut knew. My conscious brain even knew. But two things kept me from trusting myself:
      • I wanted to believe him. Plain and simple, that is what my heart wanted.
      • I knew if I started this relationship with Grave Doubts, it would never flourish into everything it could be, and it would be my fault. Now, it will never be everything it could be… but it’s not my fault. I suspect that will be easier to live with.
      • Eventually.
      • Maybe.
  • Karma/I don’t deserve nice things. This is karma for Jon, this is payback for the times I slept with married people. I am not a good enough person to be this happy.
  • I did my best, and it wasn’t enough. I don’t have much of anything else I can do or give. That was what I was, what I had, and he actively chose to shit all over it. If he had me at my best, and that wasn’t enough… what then?
  • Jailbreak. I was writing a beautiful piece about how he saved me from my internal prison, how he was the one I’d been waiting for for so long. Now, I look at the paintings, and am filled with unspeakable sorrow and emptiness. I suppose the one good thing is that I was out of the prison for awhile. Maybe now I go back in – this remains to be seen, and is terrifying. The only thing stronger than my stubbornness is my subconscious, and I don’t know what it’s doing right now. I am deeply afraid of it.
    • I don’t know whether to burn the paintings, to keep them on the wall as a reminder, or to just put them away somewhere. I hate them.
  • I understand his stupid, stupid reasons. I get it – but I don’t get it. I understand his logic, or the lack thereof, but I don’t understand how he could do this to me.  To someone he professed to love and cherish, the person he said he had never and would never lie to. As he said he hadn’t lied, that he wasn’t lying in that very second… he was lying.
  • I made plans for the future that included another person. I don’t do that. I didn’t do that with my fucking husband, not really, because I know nobody sticks around for the long run. What fucking planet am I suddenly from where after two months I believed? If I could see through the tears to kick myself, I would.
  • Blatant disrespect and a complete disregard for THE ONE THING I NEED. This wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a slip – this was a conscious choice, a deliberate series of actions and lies to cover them up. I do not use “disrespect” lightly, for seldom do I feel I am worthy of respect. He made me feel I was – and then he was the one who destroyed that feeling.
    • Sidenote. Irony: He may be the person who convinced me I am actually worthwhile and valuable enough not to be treated the way he has treated me. What the fuck do I even do with that.
    • I have long been amazed and awed by people in relationships who have such obvious and abiding love, admiration, and respect for each other, no matter what. I thought finally, maybe, I had rediscovered such a thing after 25 years of what I can only call penance. I believed. I looked forward to everything.
  • The cruelty. He chose a cruel path. He actively reassured me, built up my trust – encouraged me to believe, believe, believe, only to betray me.
  • I legitimately do not know what to do. I am in an untenable position. I have two obvious choices, and myriad variants:
    • End the relationship.
      • I will be miserable. I will miss him. I will grieve for what we had, and what we could have had. “I couldn’t love you any more, and yet I will tomorrow,” I told him a couple of weeks ago. That would die.
      • All of the things I love about him will be gone forever.
      • He will never whisper, “you’re amazing” to me again.
      • I will never feel that unbelievable sense of oneness as he holds me in his arms – the perfect contentedness of being right where I am supposed to be. Where I thought I was supposed to be.
      • I do not become a crazy person, second-guessing myself at every turn. Well, at least, not with him – maybe that’s just going to be a part of my life from now on, becoming less and less trusting BECAUSE OF THE WORDS AND ACTIONS OF ONE FUCKING MAN GODDAMN IT I AM QUESTIONING THE THINGS THAT MAKE ME WHO I AM. FUCK.
        • Typing those words made me burst fully into tears for the first time since this nightmare began. Great.
    • Try to cobble things back together. Make the choice to work through the pain, the fear, the doubt, and try to figure out if there’s a bearable way forward.
      • I will probably still be miserable, for quite some time. Maybe until it ends. I don’t know.
      • I will still grieve for what could have been, because whatever lies ahead is irreversibly altered. We will never have “what we could have had;” it’s no longer a viable path.
        • Because of that, I don’t know if it’s worth my time, pain, and effort to even try.
      • I don’t know whether he would change (read, “stop lying,” and “stop being afraid of conflict,”) or even legitimately try to.
        • Instinct says “people can change, but he is not going to change, because he’s not willing;” as he said earlier, “this is who I am.” If that’s who he is, and if he is comfortable with that, there is no changing. If there is no changing, I have to decide whether I can live with a complete lack of trust in my life. I can’t believe I would even consider that.
      • How do I look this person in the eye after everything? He will never fathom the hurt, the damage.
      • He would still be in my life with all the wonderful things about him – but also with all of … this. I legitimately don’t know what’s worse – having him, or at least the part of him I’ve had to whatever degree that might have been, or not having him at all.
        • Common sense says, “you’ll never be sure. You’ll never be totally confident and secure.”
        • I have to decide if that’s something I can do. Even considering it makes me feel foolish.
      • When he murmurs, “you’re amazing” into my hair when I’m lying on his chest, I will always think, “but not amazing enough.” That is my new truth.
      • When I am wrapped up in his arms, will I ever feel that same sense of security and belonging? Did he feel the same when he’s been cuddled up with her? Honestly? That part doesn’t even matter – monogamy is optional. It’s the DECEIT that is killing me. I know we can both be amazing in his eyes for different and similar reasons.
      • Do I become a crazy, paranoid police person, always vigilant, always wondering, never truly certain I know the situation? How do I not become that person?  Put a GPS tracker and a chest cam on him? Constantly monitor all forms of communication, knowing full well that is easily circumvented?
        • I have no interest in keeping track of the seconds that have passed, the steps he has taken, reading all of his emails and chats, ruthlessly discovering what he has or has not done or said. That is exhausting, and it is an unwinnable battle.
      • His lies come so easily, and they’re so specific; I’ll never truly know whether he’s telling me the truth. Can I live with that? That’s what this boils down to. Can I have a lesser happiness, a lesser relationship, and be content with that? Will that state with him be better than something else?
    • I need assurances. How the fuck do I get them from a pathological liar?
    • Worst-case scenario: I try to work things through, really give it my best go, and things begin to go well. Things fall apart as he cannot keep himself from lying. How do I recover from that as a whole person?
    • Alternate worst-case scenario: I shut the relationship down, when it could have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I spend the rest of my life wondering about him, just as I have about Jon.
  • Jon. I thought maybe, just maybe, the universe had forgiven me for Jon – that maybe I’d forgiven myself for what I did and said. Turns out, I was just being set up for a comeuppance.
  • Changes. I made deep changes to accommodate him in my life, things about which he has no idea, and for what? Just to be lied to and deceived, all because he was afraid. You want to talk about “afraid?” He has no fucking clue the things I had to overcome to get to this place, and him? He was just status-quo’ing it, coasting along as he always has. The demons I have faced in these few short months would blow his fucking mind.

I fucking hate being this weak. As I typed those words, my better nature told me I am not weak – I’m strong for even considering working things out. Working for something difficult and painful, something I want to have, is not weakness. Not making a rash decision after an egregious wounding, is strong. My worse nature countered, “what if it’s just a pipe dream? An impossible fantasy? Is it really strength to pursue that at the expense of your sanity and self-confidence?”

Fuck. That reminds me – I have never felt more confident than I have these last couple of months. The love in this relationship made me a better person on many levels, and has given me strength I didn’t realize I had. Now, knowing I was laboring under a complete delusion, my confidence has shriveled and has slunk into a very dark recess; it is utterly unwilling to resurface for now. I hope it returns.

When I confronted him with the lies, he said he was going to tell me today. Oh, ok. How do I believe that? Even trying to swallow that line makes me nauseated. Here, we go back to “believe someone rather than disbelieve them,” but at what point does that become foolish instead of honorable? This is the first time I’ve had to ask myself that question; I suppose I have been exceptionally fortunate on that front, then. How tragic this is the time I have to ask it.

In his place, I would be fumbling over myself, trying everything and anything, saying any possible true thing I could think of to salvage the situation. He mumbled platitudes, and had very little else to offer. That is infuriating, and makes me feel he doesn’t really care either way. If things don’t work out here, he’ll pack up and go back home, and pick up his comfortable old life that never really made him happy – I’m certain of this.

It’s not like this was months ago – it was goddamned yesterday. It would be one thing if it were “in the past,” but it’s Right Fucking Now, all apparently because his what-I-thought-would-soon-be-his-ex-wife “started being nice to me.” If that’s all it takes to rekindle those feelings, I’m fucked any way you cut it.

I feel especially foolish that I fell into the “but I’m leaving my wife” trap. I didn’t want that originally – I wanted nothing of the sort. At all. But we fell in love, and then he said he was leaving her, and I said “not on my account, you’re not,” and he said “no no, it’s over anyhow,” and then he moved in with me and I actually believed it was all true.

God I’m such a fucking moron.

The truth is, it has only been a few months – I have to get my head wrapped around that fact. It has not been a long time, it is not a loss I could never get over. It will just hurt like a motherfucker for awhile. It doesn’t matter how long it “feels like” it’s been, how all-consuming my side of this relationship was.

“I deserve better.” Do I? Do I really? With the crap person I have been, do I? Maybe I deserve to be played like this, to be made into a complete, gullible, naive fool by someone I believed to be my unflinching ally. How horrible it is to realize my ostensible wingman doesn’t like conflict and had utterly bugged out once my foot touched the battlefield. I didn’t even know he wasn’t there anymore, and I kept walking forward, confident and trusting he had my back when he was actually nowhere to be seen. I am alone, surrounded by hostile forces.

I am used to being alone in the midst of the war – that is what my life has heretofore been;  it was the feeling of having someone unquestionably by my side that was new. I can’t decide whether I wish I hadn’t ever felt that security, because now it’s gone, and I have no idea whether I’ll ever feel it again.

Listening to him talk with her on the phone just now, his entire tone has changed toward her; it’s softer and much more gentle. That might be the most telling thing of all. He is over there chuckling at videos, oblivious. I’m over here eating myself alive. Where is the fairness? I’m getting shipment notifications for things I bought just for him, dying inside, wishing they would never arrive. I am at a complete loss.

The only thing I know is that I cannot make this decision right now.  I have to sit with it and decide which grief-stricken path I want to take, unless he offers some kind of opinion – which he is afraid to have.

That unto itself speaks volumes about my growth as a person – even entertaining the notion of trying to work things out is orders of magnitude more than what I would have done previously.

Despite being devastated, despite my heart being rent from my body, despite the immolation of my fucking soul, I will stand back up again.

But not today.

Today, tomorrow, for the foreseeable future, I have to figure out how to get from here to there, to pick a path amongst the thorns and pitfalls.

For now, I have to grieve the death of something nearly perfect, and decide which “less than” path to take.

I wrote this for myself, without intention of sharing with anyone, but now I think I have to show him. Verbally, I have failed to communicate where I am; I’m too devastated and angry to formulate words on the fly. So I guess it’s time to show him – provided he doesn’t mind being interrupted.


Today brought a different perspective – at least, later in the day did.

One of the most infuriating things was not feeling heard, understood, and acknowledged. Verbally, there was nothing other than, “I’m sorry,” “I love you and I don’t want to lose you,” and various other superficial sentiments that brought no new understanding to the situation.

Thinking maybe he might do better in writing, I reached out to him via text when we were working, and it did indeed bear more fruit. I have a better idea of where he is – it’s no less painful, the situation is no less dire, but simply knowing he understands how hurt, angry, and betrayed I feel makes all the difference. It’s helping me to allow myself to let go of the abject rage and sense of being completely dismissed and disregarded.

Old edar wouldn’t have let the anger go; she would have held onto it like a precious treasure, clinging greedily to it because it made her feel righteously indignant and justified.

edar 2.0 realized there is no sense in staying actively angry because he has feelings for his estranged wife. What does staying angry accomplish, other than making it all much worse? Nothing.

So, I am letting it go – sometimes great chunks of it break away, sometimes smaller ones, but at least now I can sense there is still a core of me intact beneath the jagged crust and molten rock.

Her flame may be dim right now, but at least she’s still there.

I’ve realized too that I cannot make a decision until he does. Now that I know where he is, and how he feels – that he legitimately may choose her over me – that puts a different spin on the whole thing.

It is situations like this when I become so frustrated with the culturally mandated concept of monogamy. He’s in love with two people, but has to choose one? How is that fair in any way, when he could love us both?

However, whinging about things out of my control serves no purpose. Now that I am getting my wits back about myself, I can apply the usual tools of logic, reason, dignity, compassion, understanding, integrity, and, if need be, graceful withdrawal.

I am not his wife, nor am I at all like her – I will not actively try to “fight for him” if he chooses another path; that, too, serves no purpose other than to frustrate and infuriate everyone involved. He will choose me or he will not, based solely on the merits or lack thereof. If he doesn’t find me worthy, so be it; it will be a loss for both of us.

I will hate it, I will be devastated even more, but I will accept, recover, and move on.

The not knowing, though, that is a fresh hell. Until today, I thought the decision was largely mine; now I know he isn’t decided himself. I knew it when I heard the tenderness in his voice last night, but didn’t let myself accept it until this morning, when he confirmed he didn’t know what to do, whom to choose. Ah.

And so, death metal, and painting. Escape.

 

Anatomy of a Date Rape & Its Aftermath

I have written the following account hastily – I wanted it out of my head and onto paper before midnight, before this stinking hellhole of a year breathes its last, shitty breath. I want to start 2017 by not carrying this around.

It is, perhaps surprisingly, not a terribly heavy burden – it’s just an annoying one. I had mostly left it all behind until the individual in question began getting weird with me again this past week.

So. Here we go.

Superfluous trigger warning: Sexual assault; rape; societal bullshit; gaslighting.

In autumn of 2015, I was date-raped by a co-worker. I say “date,” but we were not on a date; there just isn’t really a better term for it. We were hanging out, watching a movie.

“Rape” is the applicable legal term, but I feel saying “I was raped” somehow lessens the experiences of women who have had to endure the more classical definition of violent, forced intercourse.  So, I say I was date-raped, which sounds somewhat akin to “Rape Lite.” Thankfully, I was unconscious or otherwise so altered during the event, I only remember two very brief moments.

Before I continue, let me say this: I’m ok. I’m not scarred, I’m not traumatized, I’ve not lost a piece of myself I’ll never recover: This was not that sort of incident. I don’t feel “brave” for telling the story.

What I am, though, is angry.

People are surprised this person is still in my life in any way shape or form – but he is, and I doubt he’s going anywhere anytime soon. People have said to stop tolerating him, to shun him, et cetera, but given we work together? Sadly, that is not completely possible.

Important backstory: I am a supervisor at my place of employ, and the man who date-raped me also works there. He is not a supervisor.

This automatically creates a power dynamic in my favor that could be used against me.

For that reason, and for many others, I never came forward with this story – except to three trusted friends. I’ll go into some of those reasons in a bit.

Too, I know I could have (and should have) done things differently, both before and after the event. However, immediately after the incident, and for a fair amount of time thereafter, I didn’t realize I had been drugged; I thought I had been irresponsibly drunk. Because there was a slight tinge of attraction between us, I thought I had gotten really, inexplicably drunk (which I never do,) and came onto him – because that is what he told me had happened, and I believed him.

This caused me to respond very differently than I would have, had I been in complete charge of my faculties, and not riddled with self-doubt.

I want to say again – I really am ok. The support and compassion which erupted on FaceBook yesterday was so touching, so overwhelming, and I am very fortunate to have these people in my life.

Let’s get started.

When this person began working for our company, I liked him. He is interesting, and talented, and very good at his job. He is reasonably attractive on the surface. The underlying instability didn’t reveal itself for some time.

I am an outgoing person at work, and I am typically direct. I make a lot of eye contact, and sometimes I use touch to emphasize a point with people who are comfortable with that level of contact. I hug. I swear a lot when riled. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes, I flirt a bit as a way to connect with people, and to break down initial, awkward barriers (please note – the “flirting” in the sense I’m using here with people I don’t know well is very mild, and stops fathoms before one can even begin to see sexual harassment on the horizon.) It is mostly the direct, unflinching eye contact that seems to break through the most, which unto itself may not seem like flirting, but can be.

All these things work both for and against me, depending upon circumstances.

Were I to go to Human Resources, or to the police, and report this event, my character and comportment would immediately be called into question. I get it – one must determine the legitimacy to any claim of wrongdoing, and, right or wrong, part of that determination is going to come from assessing the character of the person bringing the allegation.

Let’s look at a few potential outcomes of going to HR:

1.) He denies the claim, they investigate, they find the accusation without merit. I could probably lose my job here for several reasons: Michigan is an at-will state.

2.) He admits the act. He would probably lose his job, and the company would lose a valuable employee (no really – he’s very good at what he does; that’s separate from his predatory sexual behavior.) I would be viewed as someone who put herself into what some might consider “a vulnerable position,” given the circumstances of the event itself (more on that later, of course,) and I would actually lose credibility as a leader on a number of levels with some people. I could also potentially be labeled as a troublemaker. Women who report sexual harassment are often vilified – this should come as no surprise to anyone. I would love to think no one at my company would respond that way, but it’s possible.

3.) He denies the claim, they investigate, they find the accusation to have merit. Pretty much all of the consequences of #2 above, with the addition of who knows what level of outrage he would feel, and who knows how he would retaliate. We need employees with his talent very badly.

These are the broadest strokes, leaving aside the myriad ripple effects on an individual level with people I know. I think most will see why I was unwilling to rush to action.

Couple that with my initial assumption of self-guilt, and I didn’t report it; I’m sorry that disappoints people, and I understand why it does. “He can just keep doing this to other women,” they will say; “are you ok with that?” Of course not. But there are very real, very pragmatic concerns at play here with my life.

What Happened

This person and I got to know each other, became casual friends, and there may have been a very slight undercurrent of mutual attraction – which I ignored. I ignored it mainly for professional reasons, but there was also something odd about him I couldn’t put my finger on, something that made me keep him at more of a distance. Thus, I interacted with him like I do with people in general.

He would text me often about random things. This unto itself was a source of some contention, even before the assault, because he uses his phone to text (like most people do,) whereas I type texts on my computer and it sends them over SMS. I hate typing on my phone – it is slow, tedious, inaccurate – all the things. I would rather chew off my own legs than type on my phone for an extended period of time. He exhibited some paranoid tendencies during some exchanges (“can you see what I’m typing while I’m typing it? you’re responding so fast,” that kind of thing.)

I need a name for him, so I don’t keep referring to him as “this person.” I’m going to call him Harold, which of course is not his real name. I explained to Harold many times that my texts come in quickly because I am typing on a real keyboard. You’ll see why I specifically mention that later on.

Also of note, Harold and I had hung out together in groups of co-workers, but not on our own.

Harold was texting me on his night off while I was at work, chatting about random stuff. The conversation turned to movies.  I mentioned “The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, & her Lover,” a beautiful film very few people I currently know have seen. Harold has seen it, and loved it.

I’m going to include a lot of our text conversations in this post, because it is the only way to fully understand the confusion and consternation Harold causes me. My lines will be italicized, and narrative will be [in brackets.]

Harold: I dig foriegn films. Sorry. A sucker for them.

Me: i like film in general
i’m a sucker for a good story, presented well

Harold:
The days of film snobs are almost gone, but plots will always need more.
Youre making me want to watch a movie instead of unpacking…
😀

Me: mission accomplished, returning to base

Harold: And i want hard liquior now.. errr
Have you ever seen “Baraka”?
Its a 70mm art film, made just to say “can you make a film that is asthetically beautiful without a plot”

Me: that’s two movies no one ever knew
pretty cool
i saw that when it came out and was blown away

Harold: Im going to watch [Baraka] right now actually

Me: jerk 😛

Harold: HEY, ill wait.

Me: really? i don’t want to inconvenience you.

Harold: Yea. If course.
Of
Sure comon over

[At this point, I should tell you guys – Harold likes to drink. A lot. I didn’t realize how much of a problem this was until after this event, but I now know Harold is an alcoholic. I didn’t know that on the night I went over to watch Baraka, so, being a polite guest, I offered to bring something. However, I wasn’t going to be able to bring either of his two favorites, Fireball or Jagermeister (hork,) because … well, I don’t buy them, and I was going to bring stuff from my own stash, rather than stop at the store.]

i’ll bring some booze – any preference? i, um, don’t have any fireball or jager…

Just bring what you like to drink.

i can do that

If you can get a shooter of fireball, that would be enough.

i need to run [home] and let the pooch out, but that’ll just take a minute
i can stop and get some fireball, sure

Im tipsy so be warned
Kk

[At the time, I didn’t realize the implications of that statement – “be warned.” I mean, who would? People say stuff like that all the time.]

i can’t wait to see this again. i have no idea why i haven’t watched it since .. decades ago.

Its so good!

hokay, home to pick up booze and feed the pup, then will head over.

Kk

[End texts for now.]

Thus concludes our pre-date-rape relationship.  I went home, grabbed some whiskey, stopped at the Quality Dairy to pick him up his stuff, and drove the ten or so minutes to his house. I wasn’t nervous, per se, but I was a little worried it might be Awkward. I worry about that a lot, because that is part of what social anxiety does. I figured if nothing else, I’d get to see that amazing movie again, which would be awesome unto itself. Maybe get to know him a bit better – which is not a euphemism; I had no intentions of doing anything other than having a drink or two, talking, watching a movie, and going home.

I arrived, and he gave me the nickel tour. It was a nice little rental house. We chatted a bit,  and then I went with him outside while he had a cigarette. We talked about painting, and he said he’d love to teach me what he knows about it. He said he would love to cook me dinner sometime. We talked about some health thing or another, and he brought out his Physician’s Desk Reference [PDR] to consult. I remember chuckling and thinking, “of course he has the PDR; why wouldn’t he?” He seemed quite pleased with himself about it.

It was all pretty normal conversation for people getting to know each other.

Back inside, we poured ourselves a small glass apiece of spiced holiday brandy and sipped it in the kitchen before pouring our next drinks and getting the movie started. We each sat on opposite ends of his very large couch – we were easily five to six feet apart.

If you’ve not seen Baraka [link goes to official site,] it is a very visual movie. There is no plot, per se – it is just a beautiful accounting of our world and its inhabitants.

During this time period, I was going out to the bar at least once a week, and I had slightly more tolerance for alcohol than I used to: I could have three drinks in a couple of hours before feeling like I was unsafe to drive or make important decisions. Yes, that is still a lightweight, I know: Cussing like a sailor doesn’t mean I can drink like one.

I had a drink with, at most, two shots of whiskey mixed with Coke and ice. This is not a volume of alcohol which would incapacitate me.

We watched the movie, mostly in appreciative silence, with the occasional commentary here and there.

This is the last scene I remember seeing:

Somewhere in the middle of the Monkey Chant, I remember getting very dizzy and sleepy, and I think I started to lie down on the couch. Then, I was out like a light.

I woke up with my face in his lap and his penis in my mouth. I was only conscious for a few seconds before slipping back into blackness.

I woke up with him on top of me, and inside me, again, only for a few seconds. I didn’t even have enough time to be confused or angry or scared before crashing out again.

I don’t know how long it was before I actually fully “woke up.” The movie was over, or had been turned off, and I had my pants back on, though unfastened. There was no mistake I had had sex.

I have no memory of the first words we exchanged upon my regaining consciousness, but the parts after I started being able to remember things now seem surreal after the fact.

Reading the following, please rememberI was not in a lucid, rational state of mind: I was heavily altered by whatever was in my drink.

Also, I am a person who takes care of other people, who respects their experiences, and who has seen sexual assault victims be re-attacked by the people they tried to get help from. I have been sexually assaulted in other situations. If someone claims sexual assault, I believe him or her first, and ask questions later – to me, the greater evil is assuming someone is lying when they are not. I would rather believe and be made a fool than to disbelieve and be proven wrong.

Those two things caused me to say things which could easily be used against me as admissions of guilt. It wouldn’t even take a sneaky reading of the remarks – I straight-up said I was guilty, because I believed him. I never said I remembered any of it, mind you.

I remember kind of coming around as if through deep sea waves, with Harold sitting on the other end of the couch again, shaking his head and saying, “I don’t think that was a good idea, edar. I feel like you took advantage of me. I wasn’t ready for that.”

At that point, I burst into tears. I remember feeling humiliated, violated, confused… and now, apparently, I was the instigator? Shit! I’m a terrible person! I tried to untangle my own thoughts while still respecting the things he was saying to me.

“Oh, don’t cry, don’t cry,” or words to that effect. “It’ll be ok. It’ll be great, actually!” He went on to compliment parts of my body, and various aspects of the sex he’d had with it.

I was reeling – he was claiming I was the aggressor, that I took advantage of him… while saying things like, “you have a really pretty pussy.” What the literal living hell? Even drugged, I knew something wasn’t right, but, ever the only child, I have to take responsibility for everything, even if it isn’t my fault.

So, I apologized.

I apologized to someone who date-raped me.

Saying that makes me want to vomit.

I couldn’t stop crying as he spoke of how this was just not at all what he expected. Yeah? Me either, Harold. This wasn’t what I signed up for here, pal.

At least he had used a condom.

I got ready to go – I had to leave, to get away from him and from his house, the scene of (apparently) my crime. I was most definitely not okay to drive, but that was the least of my concerns at that point in time – I was envisioning my job crumbling out from underneath me after Harold went to HR and claimed I assaulted/raped him. I was wracked with guilt for (apparently) forcing myself upon some unwitting soul. I was thinking about the fact that I’d just had sex with someone I had absolutely no intention of having sex with… but apparently attacked and coerced into sex. It did not occur to me I had been drugged until the following night.

Harold begged me to stay the night, to cuddle up with him, to “heal” the wounds caused by the night’s events. To “bond.”

No thank you, please.

As I was gathering up my things in the kitchen, Harold scooped me into his arms, tugged at the v-neck of my t-shirt, and made a “rowr” sound as he tried to kiss me. “Why did you have to wear this shirt,” he purred, smarm pouring off him, almost tearing the fabric.

I’m fairly sure I pulled away and walked out the door, but there may have been more words at that point.

I drove the short distance home, and found he had texted me. We had a long text conversation, during which I tried to be respectful, to fully own my (alleged) actions of “having attacked him,” while coming to terms with everything.

Reading this a year later, it is easy to see these are not the words of someone who was just taken advantage of sexually. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to 100% conviction he had drugged me; what a horrible, horrible thing to accuse someone of, only to be wrong. Surely it is better to assume he did not, right?

—————-

Did you get home safe?

yeah, just dejected

Yikes.sounds gruesome.. glad youre home safe 😉

i feel like a predator

Lol

with the past i have, it’s so not ok to pressure anyone.
and yet i apparently did
i’m really having a hard time 

Ease up on the predator talk so I can feel normal, Im sure that will make us both feel ok
Try to think about what you liked.

[Yes. I shall try to think about what I liked about having sex whilst unconscious.]

…i legitimately feel like a complete piece of shit
but we carry on, i guess
12/27/15, 4:59am

[The conversation ended, and I went to bed to sleep off the rest of the drugs and the night. I don’t even remember if I showered. When I woke up, he was back, chipper as anything:]

Good morning sunshine!
How you doing?
12/27/15, 11:01 AM

Didn’t really sleep, feel like ass. I don’t get hung over, but the sleep thing is kind of killing me

Aw hun 🙁 next time Im in [his hometown] I’ll find out what meds I used to use which seemed to help.
Didnt you think that was funny that I plopped down that PDR last night!
12/27/15, 3:22 PM

i have stuff i know will work, 100% – but it’s the stuff i really don’t want to take anymore.
some nights are better than others, last night was just one of the bad ones.

That really sucks. Also dont forget to start thinking about what might be going on for new years eve
• 12/27/15, 3:54 PM

[Ah yes – New Year’s Eve. Prior to these events unfolding, I had told Harold I would be happy to take him out on New Year’s Eve, because historically, he has had a completely shitty time. And why wouldn’t he want to spend the last night of the year with someone who had taken such advantage of him? Of course, we could turn the tables around here and ask me the same question – but I wasn’t in the mindset of “this guy date-raped me” yet – I was in the opposite mentality.]

[Now he still wanted to do something? Ugh. I was still in recovery mode, trying to make sure not to further offend him so he wouldn’t go to HR or press charges or any other damn thing, since I had apparently attacked him, and not the other way around.]

[By this time we were back at work. We do not sit near each other, so we were mostly conversing over text still, though he had stopped briefly by my desk when he arrived.]

[“I got stuck in some thorn bushes last night,” he said, laughing.]

[“What?” Very confused.]

[Harold lifted his shirt to show me dark red scratches along his chest, sides, and back.]

[“Holy shit!” I exclaimed, “did you fall or something when you went out to smoke?”]

[He stared at me in amusement. “Erin – those are from you.”]

[I was mortified. It didn’t occur to me that, even drugged, I was trying to fight him off however I could – by scratching the shit out of him; I assumed I just got carried away.]

That really sucks. Also dont forget to start thinking about what might be going on for new years eve
• 12/27/15, 3:54 PM

it’s your [NYE thing] – you pick.
in all seriousness tho, i was apparently way, way drunker than i’ve been in probably 15 years last night. that big drink plus the brandy must have done me in. i haven’t ever had memory lapses from drinking before. it’s just not like me. i don’t know what went wrong.
so sorry about the scratches, good lord.
12/27/15, 5:00 PM

Yea I was too. Its all good 😉 😉

i think i failed on every possible level last night.

Nah. I was sad that you were crying though. I wouldnt worry about anything.

i am really worried about all of it tho.
i mean, you seem pretty ok with it all, and i’m glad about that, but you felt taken advantage of, and that’s 100% nowhere near ok to me.
i didn’t go over there with the intention of getting thoroughly obliterated and doing that 

You shouldnt worry about it. Bc then you will start to not act like yourself and Im much more worried about that then anything.
I like you being yourself

i have no choice but to be myself

Good 🙂

Nice hat today btw
• 12/28/15, 1:46 AM

Https:/twitter.com/imternetofshit/status/680753875247345665
12/28/15, 2:36 AM

ha
the hat i had forgotten about, dug it out of an old bag

It was good!

you’re too kind

Never saw you wear it before
• 12/28/15, 3:00 AM

Just a question, when you message me from your google number to my phone do you use your computer to send that message or do send it by typing it in your phone?

i’m on my desktop, i can’t stand typing on my phone

So its open knowledge then.. whether you decided to send earlier texts to my number vs sending them to chat. They still went through chat. Just wanted to know.
No biggie.
I felt much more worried than you think today even if I am presenting myself as collected. I was totally worried about you
• 12/28/15, 3:39 AM

[To this day, I have no idea what “it’s open knowledge” means, or why he is worried about them going to “chat” instead of “text.”]

don’t worry about me, i’m pretty good at it.
i’m sending to your phone via sms on my desktop, thanks to google voice
i’m really upset about last night still, but time heals, etc

Well I am too.
And the only thing that heals is trying to understand one another.
Will you let me know about you? Can I let you know about me?

i do need to know more about you so i can process what happened and where everything went off the rails

It didnt go off rails. But ive seen this before. So thats why I notice this

[“I’ve seen this before,” he said. I bet that’s true. I would be surprised if there isn’t a slew of women who have had these conversations with him over the years.]

what went wrong was me apparently not paying attention to what you wanted or needed.
and i’m really really not ok with that.

[Still really wanting to vomit about taking all the responsibility for what happened, Just In Case it was, indeed, my fault.]

No no, how could you know.
I didnt think you drank too much. But we did.. it was youthful and fun. That was great!

[“YOUTHFUL AND FUN??!!”]

ideally, you’d tell me if you weren’t ok. 
i wish you didn’t feel taken advantage of
that is not great at all.

Huh?
Previous

you said last night you felt taken advantage of

I did

yeah that’s not ok with me at all
that’s what i feel the worst about

This is placating, but you really shouldnt.

there really isn’t anything you can say that’ll make me feel ok about it.
i’ve been really taken advantage of like that myself, many times, and it’s not in any way ok.

Would you just come over sometime when I want to test a gourmet meal and we can try cooking together?
I just want some honest partnership, a good friend, so if youre okay with that.. that would be relaxing.
So… is that something that I said that you are okay with?
cooking, friendship, companionship
Jk
. Just fuckin with you
No yes.. that is right!
Yes that would be a nice start to a good friendship
Is that okay with you?

sure

[Anything so you don’t get me fired]

Me too.

those were my intentions last night before whiskey got involved

Well, I got wind of that while talking with you longer and I thought it would be right to not make assumptions and to learn more about you.
Btw I told my dad what happened. Lol

[Because that is a totally normal thing to tell your father.]

what?! and he said, i assume, “you idiot.”
i meant my intentions last night were not what happened
they haven’t been at all
i don’t make a habit out of having sex with [people at work], yknow?

[Dad] said… “good luck at work” very sarcastic like im a stupid idiot and should have known better.
Yea I got ya

well, 2 different kinds of people and this would be a recipe for disaster

Do you mean IF this was? Or just if this was another type of person?

if either of us were a different kind of person, i think we’d be in a truly shit situation right now. but apparently we’re both adultish

True. We care about each other. Thats what counts

[“We care about each other?” That’s where we are now? Sincerely? Fuck off.]

But a recipe for disaster… I dont know about that.
Haha
WHOA THORNS!

truly a facepalm moment; i am so embarrassed.

You shouldve seen the other side.

yeah that’s just not ok. that’s tacky as fuck.

I was really shocked this morning.

i can certainly see why

Looked in the mirror and was like holy shit! Haha
It was nice. Made me feel wanted. Very cool

[THESE ARE NOT THING THINGS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN SEXUAL ASSAULTED WOULD SAY!! “Made me feel wanted?” Please!]

you must have such a skewed sense of who i am now

[There is more to this statement than just this incident. At our bar gatherings, I would often pick up the tab, and I would sometimes do the same for food. Harold took that to mean way more than it did, thinking I was picking up his check to express interest in him. NOPE! I just do that sometimes for my friends. He also took my inviting him to the bar as a come-on, which it most definitely was not; it was a way to help a person new to the group feel included.]

No

pissing you off paying for your food and whatnot too often, taking advantage of you, and scarring your ribs.
who the hell is this person?

I am taking you at face value.. granted Ive seeb this before so Im trying to not let you embarrass yourself mixed with how unusual I am. But I just want you to feel good.

lol. “trying not to let you embarrass yourself” is not congruent with me feeling good.
i feel like you think i’ve had these untoward intentions all along, and that’s not the case. i’m just an open person, a friendly person, a flirty person.
yes, you’re attractive, but i had no plans to do anything on that front.
but thank you for not writing me off as a complete shitshow

Yea but I just saw some simalar things and I didnt want you to get caught up in it.. advanced level secret kinda thing, I just wanted you to be yourself again

i’m not parsing “advanced level secret kinda thing.” how do you mean?
but please don’t apply what you’ve seen previously seen in similar situations to me, because i guarantee something else is the case. i am not those people.

Huh? Did you mean “previously sent onto me”?

sorry, “previously seen,” as in, behaviors and patterns you’ve seen in others likely will not apply to me.
i think you are likely a person worth knowing, and that we have some communication style gaps to cross
plus, we’ve been informed by vastly different life experiences
i’m ridiculously naive and trusting, and you’re more wary and cautious. both serve purposes, both have drawbacks.

Its like mario bros.. you can either play all the levels or have someone tell you which tube to take. I JUST figured I would let you know which tube to take to get closest to my heart. Sorry.

nonono – don’t misunderstand – “getting closest to your heart” is not my end goal here.
i appreciate direct and honest communication – that’s what i want. 100%
i think text-based discussions like this are probably causing some misunderstandings, too
especially since you have to type it all out on your phone, ugh

Absolutely.

very sincere question – what do you think i want from you?

I dont know at this moment. Seems like a question like “how & when” did my website get hacked? I understand youre trying to be sincere, which I assume but what if I dont pick up on social ques whether vocally or textually. So I dont know? What do you want from me?

that’s fine – i just want to make sure you don’t think i have some kind of agenda. i don’t. what i want from you is to get to know you better, develop a solid friendship, and have fun hanging out with a group or without. that’s all – no intentions otherwise.
i was afraid for a moment you might think i was looking for a boyfriend

Haha. I dont know what you want, I figured you wanted a girlfriend earlier on, so a guy wasnt really in the picture but it doesnt change anything.

not looking for any kind of committed partnership with guy, girl, animal, vegetable, or mineral.
but ok. air cleared. fresh start.

[Subtext: Please don’t report me to HR]

Fresh start was there all along
Youre a great woman. What can I say.
• 12/28/15, 5:17 AM

[The next day, I had lunch with a good friend of mine. I told her what had happened, and asked for her opinion. At that point, I was beginning to suspect something was not right – I had regained a clear head, and a better perspective, and nothing was lining up.

I relayed the events, and showed her some of the text messages. “Edar. Those are DEFinitely not things he would say if you’d attacked him. Those are things he would say if he wanted to date you. This asshole thinks you’re his girlfriend now. I’m not even joking.”

Hearing her echoing the thoughts I’d been mulling around in my head made me feel so much better. Validated.

Later, Harold texted me, asking what my plan was for our NYE outing. I offered a few options, but said I remembered he had said he didn’t want to go to any parties.]


I did say something similar but it wasnt exactly that. It was that I wanted a party but everybody at the last minute, changed plans and went to another party bc on nye every new party seems better. Hard to describe. Yea I wanna go to a party
I just want it to be a good one!

ah ok – i misunderstood or misremembered. what’s a good party for you?

Oh my.
something that is not approved of.. a little bit crazy, a little bit silly, a little bit sexy? Tough question.

these parties are fairly tame

Thats cool. Going to bed. Night
• 12/30/15, 6:10 AM

[We did go out for awhile on New Year’s Eve, and had an awkward time, thankfully most of it with friends (one of my most favorite people even came out with us the whole time to chaperone at my desperate request,) and he behaved himself.

At the end of the night, however, he was very well into his cups. I hadn’t had anything but a sip of homemade spiced rum all night, because I wanted no chances of a repeat occurrence. I had dubbed myself the designated driver to avoid being heckled into drinking.

I dropped off our chaperone, and drove Harold home. He wouldn’t get out of my car. No, we instead had to have a very long, confusing, many-vectored, fork-bomb-like “conversation” which mostly involved him whining and begging for me to come inside, “just for one drink,” “just for a minute,” “just for a kiss,” “just to spend the night and cuddle, nothing has to happen.” Needless to say, my resolve stayed firm.

After about 30 minutes of this asinine back-and-forth, he started getting Cranky. Harold turns into a belligerent drunk after sufficient time/drinks have passed. The 180-degree turn is radical, and, if you’re not prepared for it, it will take you by surprise.

He went from trying to hold my hand to vicious, snarky remarks about how he’s seen “my kind” before – older women targeting him to be their boyfriend. I assured him that was the farthest possible thing from my mind, but he wouldn’t listen. Instead, he went off the deep end disparaging both me and himself for another 20 or so minutes – before circling back and wheedling some more to get me inside.

I got really firm and ordered him out of my car, moments from either punching him in the face, or driving to the police station. He finally complied, and I went home to find this text:]

It was very special to met you before the year ended and also after the year began.
• Jan 1, 6:23 AM

[I was too pissed off to reply.]

Haha. Thank you for taking me out. I had a really fun time and appreciate what you did for me.
• Jan 1, 3:16 PM

you’re welcome. how are you feeling today?

I have a huge hangover.lol I just woke up a bit ago. Was on the phone with my dad
• Jan 1, 4:35 PM

sorry about the hangover. i’m glad i don’t get them.
do you remember the stuff we talked about in the car?
Jan 1, 5:02 PM

Barely. Actually not at all.
Which probably really sucks. I’m sorry.

it was all important stuff, but no worries.

Im sure It will come back to me though.

we can cover it again sometime if need be

Okay.
I would like that.
I just hope I didnt say anything to hurt your feelings.

you did, but it was also a good talk in many ways – or at least, it would’ve been if you remembered it.
i think i may have gotten through to you on the whole “no really, i don’t want to date you, i didn’t ever want to date you, and i never had intentions of having sex with you but that happened and let’s just move on” front.
you seemed very convinced i was out for you from the moment we met
which is 100% untrue
but we’ll rehash it whenever
altho, even after that talk, you were still badgering me to spend the night.
you were so fucking drunk.

Okay now I remember. Ah yes. Yes it was a good talk. I dont ever want to hurt your feelings. And yes I was.. Thank you again. You made it great.

[Pretty sure he doesn’t remember shit, because from his perspective, the talk was not “good,” let alone “great.”]

Got a question for you. Do you remember holding hands?
• Jan 3, 2:42 AM

i remember everything from NYE – i wasn’t drinking. i remember letting you hold my hand because it was proving to be pointless to get you to stop trying, and holding your hand was harmless. why.
Jan 3, 4:30 AM

Oh the jabs… well i remember all of it too, with some help.
Memories are always in a place, you just need the trigger to get them back.
Thank you for being patient enough to give me a tidbit to get it back. I Dont normally get to have a New Years so doing something that everyone else has done for years as their nye was really special.
• Jan 3, 4:46 AM

[Thus concludes the text surrounding incidents and NYE. However, in the following months, the onslaught of bizarre accusations and rambling thoughts continued.]

[Days pass, random unimportant texts do, too.]

Btw I really like that site whydoesedardrink. That was really cool. I had no idea but I think I need to get you some fine whiskey… and at some point you should tell me your bday so I can reciprocate.
• Jan 18, 2:44 AM

thanks for the compliment on the site

It was nice to see another side of you that everybody cares about.
Whens ya bday?

[Then… shit gets slightly weird weird.]

I sometimes (past two nights) get the feeling you can see what Im typing before I press send.. kinda like chats. If so thats ok just let me know if so.

lol, i can’t see what you’re typing

[Paranoia?]

My favorite was Jacks <spit-take> combined with your love of using <anal-fisting> hilarious
Yea fucking great people!!
It always seems like everyone is better at making humor/comedy via message. I am not so good at that because Im literal most of the time
Oh well

i do much better over writing than i do in person
when i try to tell a story or say something funny, i stumble all over myself
i had this long story about an impromptu boat ride in the gulf of mexico that was part fiasco part “what the fuck was i thinking,” part dumb luck, and it usually comes out, “i saw a boat once.”

I think youre good at it. But thats just me understanding what you say.

that makes one person who gets it
cuz even i do not

I still think you can make some art though. Also I was thinking but afraid to ask. Would you be up for a trivial pursuit night some time?
I dont want it to be a big group thing, just something light.

Whens the last time youve thoughr of something that has made you completely relaxed and went and did that?

i don’t even remember what that feels like.
i am bad at relaxing.
there are things i enjoy doing, but they don’t relax me, per se.

I am too. I just realized that idea while we were talking, and thought… when was the last time I was relaxed, and then asked you too. I dont know.. I dont know.
Me too . But they are imaginative.. like I think they would make me relax.
Phfew.. i dont know either.. the regularity of work, the problem solving gets my mind off of the fact my life is not the greatest. A warm bath, talking, falling asleep next to person I was talking with, waking up with them, continuing the conversation. Not thr answer, but the start.

<nod> sounds like a good start indeed. 
Feb 5, 5:15 AM

Erin, how are you doing? You seem to be absent as leader figure. Are you ok? What is dragging you down? You are a pinnacle , pure relaxment, pure fight, pure balance. A lot of people need you. Yes you. But balance it.
• Feb 10, 4:44 AM

I dont think you realize, that who I am is all because of Red.

i couldn’t realize – i never met him, and i don’t know much about your past. i’m really sorry you’re hurting.

I didnt think that you would, but thats why I said that. So you knew. This is really really bad. He was the glue that IS “the family” not to mention the only friend I had that knew how alone I was. We were both confidants of lonelyness. Not something you strive for but it happens when you purposely do nice gestures to people in need. He was so much better at it than I was.

it’s always so hard to try to come to grips, to be able to move forward, when suffering a loss like this. he can still be the glue, though – you all hold him in your hearts, and remember him. and, if you believe he might still be around and watching, you can still talk to him and perhaps find comfort there. it sounds like you’re a better person for having known him; carry that legacy with you, strive to live up to it.

Talk to him?
Copy pasta? Admit it. If so.

what?
i mean you can still talk to him, as if he were still here. i’m not copying/pasting anything, i’m typing.
but now, i am also going to bed.

ERIN, your messages came in out of order bc of hangouts. Dont go.
I have no one to talk to.

i’ll try to stay awake a bit longer
i’m sorry you don’t have anyone to talk to… your dad isn’t of any comfort?

Is your Dad up right now?

i didn’t mean right now, specifically, but yes – he is. i wouldn’t expect anyone else’s to be, though.
i thought you meant you didn’t have anyone else to talk to in general.

Sorry for bothering you.

you’re not bothering me, Harold.

I know, but I wanted to talk with someone that knew me better, and you do. In little ways, but still, you do.

i can talk to you

I appreciate it. I really do. ‘

please forgive me if i fall asleep, though – i really was just getting settled for sleeping. i should be awake a bit longer, but just in case, etc.

T for sure! Go to bed.
Well.. your g shit always is delayed. So there is a relay in there somewhere.. thats why you will always get 3 messages that are sent from hangouts that are always less than the charachter count,but still send in 3 messages.
When you could send it in one text
BUT sending one text in hangouts actually sends 3 and 2 are noticed
Anyway
Have you ever been hit on at a funeral. I have, it was from someone my grandmother really respected too.

Yikes, that would be terrible

I am exagerating what happened. That was just my perception. I dont think that was planned
It was awkward though.
Laugh about it later kind of shit
Just super weird at the time
But right now. This is way serious. Yea got plenty of stories like that. Oddities, unknowns I guess.

Hey Erin! Do something dirty and non-authoritative in respect of my grandfather, whether it be doing something you shouldnt do, or just having a scotch tomorrow. Thank you.
I really stayed at work today bc that was something that he was proud of. He was very happy that I was working at Liquidweb even though he didnt know exactly what it was. He was happy that I worked hard even though it was easy for everyone else.
• Feb 25, 5:21 AM

it will be a pleasure to have a drink in red’s honor later on tonight.
i’m sure he was really proud of you; that should make you feel good.
Feb 25, 1:08 PM

Thank you Erin and thanks for talking to me last night.

i wish i’d been able to stay awake for you longer, but i was knackered.

Its okay. I just cried a lot more.

that’s good tho
Feb 25, 3:29 PM

 

And Erin, you have been so kind to me. You try to understand me. Thank you
Its just Ive lost my only friend that I was able to comiserate with on how lonely I was as well.
• Feb 26, 12:59 AM

you’re welcome – i’m happy to listen. i don’t feel as if i’ve been able to do much for you, but do let me know if you need anything.

Okay. Thank you.

i’m sorry you’re still feeling lonely. you have many people who like you.

how was the service today?

Service. There was no service. It was burial. We buried him the way he wanted. Face down… so the rest of the world could kiss his ass.

he sounds like quite a man

 

Pic would be apreciated too

of?

Just you being you. Thats all.

nope. 

Ok. Well I am going to go to sleep so if you find it, it would be nice. Nite Erin.
• Mar 12, 5:12 AM

cone over and drink.
Come

sorry, no.

You shoulda just came over.
I do know that you have not been vocal/chat or otherwise.
It’s been a weird 6 or so months
Maybe your good leadership has been to gather and support, keep together, the people that want to move forward. I could see that.

That’s often the case with me. I’m a catalyst.

I really wish you could have came over, we could have talked about all this.
“The thing you do”
Jk
You are less than 10 blocks away. Come o er.
Missed the v

Pretty sure it’s father than that, but regardless, sorry, no.

I think its less
Yes. Next time of course. Okay.
Btw I thought it was funny last week when I asked you for a pic and you were expecting me to ask for some puss shot and I just said show me a picture of what you see and I thought it was nice.

Didn’t think you were asking that

I wasnt. But got the impression you thought I was … at the time..

Nope
You read so much into me. Stop it.

What? What am I doing?

Over-analyzing what you think I’m thinking

I do, but now Im wondering if I should have expressed that sexual side..

I’m not following. If you’re talking about the clusterfuck from December, yeah – you should not have “expressed that sexual side.”

[He immediately tried to call. I didn’t answer.]

Voicemail
Hey, Erin, This is Harold. I was just giving you a call. You’re not available to take my call. I just call and leave a message.
00:00/00:11
Mar 18, 4:58 AM

Btw, I just was asking because I am still down. Just wanted someone in the house. You could have sat and read a book for all I cared… I dunno, Im not settled with this loss yet.

it would be surprising if you were fully settled with it – it was a huge loss, it’ll take some time.
i’m sorry i wasn’t fit for human consumption tonight.

Well a spot on the couch could have been claimed and I would have been okay.

Are you joking with me right now? 

You could have done your own thing it wouldnt have mattered.

Jesus, you’re being serious. Harold, I will not be coming over to your house alone at any point in time, now or in the future.

Still up? If not could you call me before you go to work tomorrow? I need a huge favor, for someone to pick me up anything that helps with anti inflammatory as I have nothing at the house and can barely walk, definitely not drive.

i’m up, but i have the supervisor meeting at 1400 😞
if i have time after that and before work, definitely can
they’ve been shorter lately, so i should be able to

Anything. Im really in a lot of pain right now, if anyone has old antibiotics ( i know thats really bad) i dont care.

why would antibiotics help?
if it’s inflammation, they won’t do anything except fuck up your intestinal fauna

Antibiotics can help with inflammation sometimes

i feel like that’s untrue. they only help with infection, afaik.

I dont know, i dont care

well before you start throwing pills down your throat, how about a doctor?

I dont have a doctor right now

if only there were a way to fix that.
i know eric craig will come get you if i can’t

i’ll text you either when the meeting is done, or sometime after 1500 if i can’t get away in time

Okay. Thank you.

K thankyou
• Mar 24, 4:59 AMvia Project Fi

Made it to a doctor, no need to call.

good! what was the diagnosis? if you don’t mind sharing – if you do, is totally ok.

There wasnt really a diagnosis, I told them what I thought it was, and let them know what I took last time to fix it and they precribed it. Its probably a severe case of gout.

right on. i hope it clears up soon!

Hopefully.
On a scale of pain last night 1-10 that was an 8

that’s brutal
really glad you saw a dr tho

Yea well it was hard since my driving foot was the one that had the problem.

yeah that’s miserable
Mar 24, 10:33 PM

Hey come on over.
You can bring pets inside. Only you though.

we’ve talked about this, harold.

Oh okay..
Just come over and sleep.. if you stay awake.

Harold. NO.
Mar 31, 5:15 AM

Its not an offer. Its an everyday thing. The “no drive” thing. Understood. I was hoping you would have brought your pets, and I could have made beds for them too. No worries.
I cant expect you to transistion this late at night.
I am still kinda stuck to playing a game of trivial pursuit, just you and I. You might wonder why I keep bringing it up. Sorry.
I cant do anything but wish you well if you are not here. And if not here to wish (try to fix ) , but you dont tell me so how can I know? Goodnight. Last couple weeks you were adding to your attire. Looked stunning!
• Mar 31, 5:36 AM

Haha that was alot
• Mar 31, 2:41 PM

thanks for the compliments on the clothes – am trying to make myself feel better by trying to look better on the outside, i guess.

Well youre doing great at it. I found trivial pursuit at barbes and noble but it was 60 bucks so I didnt really feel like buying it.

ouch, yeah – that’s a bit steep.

Well if youre not doing anything later let me know.
• Mar 31, 5:17 PM

whoops, sorry – just saw this. do have plans after work, alas.
Mar 31, 6:23 PM

You should come over and chat after work to vent, I want someone to talk to as well…
• Mar 31, 10:24 PM

[And here… here is where we go off the rails.]

So are you stopping by for friendship?
Are you scared to visit?

[“Stopping by for … friendship?” What?!]

i was planning to call you in a bit so we could talk over what you wanted to vent about

No. I wanted to talk to you in person. I didnt want a call to subverse that.
As well I didnt need to vent, you do! I’M trying to help you out but you wont let me.

i’m not coming over. when i’m done here, it’s going to be close to or after 4.

All of that is ok. I know youre not coming over. Knew that before the original request. Was not expecting it, but I’m really worried about you. Give me some leway in a way that I can atually care about you.

i’m going to be ok, promise. i’m a very difficult person to help, but i do appreciate the offer immensely, thank you.

[The next day]

Erin, you promised that you would call me. You didnt. There is something important about you
You flaked

Harold. i said i was going to call you – you told me not to, that you wanted to see me in person. i did not flake.

That was quick and like you saw it before I typed it.

i’m typing on a keyboard remember.
do you think i work for the nsa or something?

Don5 bullshit me.

i don’t even know what you’re talking about right now.

I dont care if you do. Good d3al
Erin, just go to bed.
You still flaked
No legitemacy to her promises
Dammit, can you extract yourself? Can you lighten things up for a bit? I’m afraid youre taking everything so literal thats it causing you stess. Dammit we needed to talk.
If you get to point of doubting yourself then somethi g is wrong

You are highly variable, and that stresses me out. You ask me to lighten up after accusing me of lying to you.
I think we should just plan on seeing and communicating with each other at work and nothing more.
Apr 1, 3:49 AM

You did not lie to me and I would never think that you would. I TRUST you implicitly! And that is why we need to talk, because ypu dont know how I feel about certain tjings and I think you should. Im just trying to levee your added pressure and trying to find a way to alleviate it for you. You did so much for me in the beginning. The highly variable stuff will be very static, I was giving plently of oportunites to know but it seemed that you didnt care to.
Rains are there. Just grab them.

I want to be clear I’m not angry or upset. If you read through our conversation history when you’re sober, I think you’ll understand why I have to keep my distance.
Heading to bed. Nite.
Apr 1, 4:10 AM

Who said I wasnt sober, ( judgement) waiting for your call like you promised. Sleep well. Yea its txt, everybody can read through it. Next time just stop by like a normal friend.
Goodnight E.D.
And bottom line. I care about you. I do. I think about you every day. I dont know if that matters or not to you. If you dont think that is okay then fine. I was just trying to make something that is more advanced than topical.
And now I feel like total shit. Thank you very much.
• Apr 1, 4:43 AM

Because you feel that my conversations are not stable(but who’s should be? Its communication) but yet you leave it at topical, rather than personally talking to me. Stop by…, borrow some sugar …like a normal person. Youre still worried about something but I dont know why or from what? And last night I started to feel like it was my fault for your problems… your problems are not mine.I have taken on caring about your problems, you dont know that,… but I do. I feel like youre so scared of me because youre worried about telling me about your life. Fine. Whatever. Ps dont ever tell me “when youre sober” in another text again. I choose when I want to talk to you and so do you. Stop cutting me down.
Not only are you worried about your career, your motherly instinct isnt working and you might need advice… or people that are friends that care about you.
You should have stopped over.
• Apr 1, 5:17 AMvia Project Fi

Just a side note, I have no idea why you think you need to prim & proper yourself. Who are you trying to impress? Is someone looking for something more?, dont change just wait it out .patience my friend.
• Apr 1, 6:09 AMvia Project Fi

Eh that was horrible. Sorry about that.
Apr 1, 6:15 PMvia Project Fi

Thank you for calling me out on that today. It helped. I needed some self reflection and I appreciate you for noticing. I really do.
• Apr 7, 3:23 AMvia Project Fi

And I understand youre doing the best thing. But , how you did it was super polite and it made me respect you more. And made me grow. I am trying to become a better participant at work. There are things that I want to do but there are technical topics that I am limited to , but Im pushing myself by not hanging out and studying instead.
• Apr 7, 3:51 AM

Erin, I understand that you are under a lot of pressure to change things. Do it. Take hold of the team you have. Strongest team there is. Someone must have decided to give you that in the first place… whomever decided that… thought that you could use that to change the company. Noone gets so many power players on the first round…to see what they can do with them. They gave you the cards!
Stop worrying and start accepting your empowerment.
And then do something about it! . Be the person you wanted to be at home, and care and nurture your team.
I am limited. I am alone. So dont trust my ideas. But maybe I could have some relevance.
• Apr 7, 5:12 AM

AND.. thats why this isnt personal in the first place because its just a link to some fake phone number that is redirected to chat client that you may or may not pay attention to… DNA it was personal to me. You were important to me even though you persisted on me. Do you even remember how many nights you tried to talk to me? A lot. And now .. i have a question, who am I supposed to look up to, it was you.. but my questions go unanswered. So who is the leader? Is it you anymore?
• Apr 7, 5:27 AM

I respect you more than you know. When you tell me Im fucking up I listen. We both know that. Btw trivial pursuit was not about the challenge.. it was about the chance that you could have a possibly embarrassing time without worring about be embarrassed… you didnt like the one on one, which is my most helpful trait. I wanted to show you so much as well. I will never hold these regrets as they can always be settled. But youre backing off I know that, so just say that…
Youre stopping talking. So say that. Define your point. You are one of only a few people that has this kind of strength.
Its hard that I honestly like you in a way that wouldnt matter what you did. Just like you. I know youre backing off because you know that too. Dont think about it too much, we both have exciting lives to live and sharing that is what makes it special. Care about you. Sure you care about me too in your own way. Ty
• Apr 8, 3:33 AM

Ps. Youre not a nun, so dont try to be one, no perfectly straight legging are going to show that, and only someone that was taught that would understand it. This is our time, not a time for regret. ANY impression to a group of sales people will not work. Unless you make them desparate. This type of people are very nice, but we are different.
• Apr 8, 3:55 AM

Stop trying to be someone youre not.
I like you just the way you are.
• Apr 8, 5:18 AM

Harold, please stop texting me.
Apr 8, 5:44 AM

Im not stupid, youre the one that sucked me into talking to all the time… now that you dont want to, or are tired of it.. i hesitated for good reason.. because I had seen people that create novelty out of their own want and then… thier own curiosity bores them… thanks alot for making me your plaything. I still cant understand how you couldnt make the time to drop off ibuprofin. You were the only one I trusted and you made me go through all that pain. That hurt. Not only physically, but mentally to know you lacked the courage to help when it was really important, and basically I was disipointed because you had made me look up to you… i dont know what to say…
Okay. I just saw that. I’ll stop texting you. Removing your number now.
Fattening Frogs for Snakes, Sonny Boy Williamson & AnimalsFattening Frogs for Snakes, Sonny Boy Williamson & Animals
One last thing. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-b-UF0FlZjo
• Apr 8, 6:04 AM

I’m not going to respond to anything further. You are not rational.
• Apr 8, 6:08 AM

[He left me alone after that – our interactions were strictly and thankfully professional only. Until this past week.]

Erin, I just got off work a while ago, but I wanted to wish you Merry Christmas belated. I hope you had relaxing time and enjoyed every bit of it.
• Mon, 2:50 AM

Thanks Harold – Merry Christmas to you as well 🙂
Mon, 11:13 AM

So another year has went by, but I wanted to let you know that my last birthday was very special to me and thank you for being a part of it because you truely enriched it and made my life happier. Thank you so much!

have a wonderful evening with your friends 
Fri, 10:39 PM

I just went out with my family. Youre going to have a great year. . I can feel it! You have a special place in my soul, friendship, and heart for everything you are and have done. I hope to return it with the same warmth youve given me.

thank you for your kind words
Fri, 10:58 PM

Well you are.we can talk more about ark at work.. And you will always be highlighted in my mind as someone that genuinely cared about me. So the kind words are insignificant compared to how much I appreciate you. Even though youre busy most of the time. You are appreciated and awed and looked up to so much more than you know. I Hope you feel cared about… because you are!
Ok. Enough words. Good night. And have a very happy new year.
But as “short round” (temple of doom)once said… lets hope for
“Fortune and Glory!”
• Fri, 11:16 PM

Hey would care to do me a huge favor on your way home?

[ARE YOU FUCKING JOKING WITH ME?!]

i really appreciate all of that, and thanks harold. what do you need?

Its a horrible request. And I did not spend and hour trying to tell you all that.. just for a thought of how to enjoy my bday before it happens a day later, but 4 tall boys. Miller or bud.

[YOU’RE BEING SERIOUS. YOU WANT ME TO BRING YOU FUCKING BEER?!]

i’m sorry, but i have plans.
Fri, 11:57 PM

[Aaand then we’re off to the races again.]

Thats great. Dont let me bother you with “on purpose ideas that are not sexy on purpose” and ” well I just dont know you well enough, but I want too ideas.” Im glad you denied the beer run girl idea.. i realized after about 30 minutes of what I had had said, I had no choice but to ask you, but my initial reation was just to thank you. Got all screwey. Sorry, but not sorry. Love to learn about what you think sometime!
Eh. I try. I care about you. Thats the simplified version of it.
Have a great time then. Cheers!
Just out of curiosity, why did you skirt, knowing you had plans.. for a simple drop off favor?

i didn’t know what you wanted – you didn’t say you needed to have something dropped off.
your house isn’t really on my way home, so i thought maybe it was something else.

It wasnt something else, I know better to know when Im not wanted but to just be casual.My house is a straight shot east, then south to your house. We can work on the frienship thing, I know I already am. Sorry if I have caused you doubt about that strong part of our relationship.
12:37 AM

Its okay. Have fun. Never a worry because I know we can always talk about it if we are confused about descrepancies. Thank you wonderful.
• 12:55 AM

You are amazing in my eyes, and dont let anyone tell you different.mucho lovo googly goo and all that messy unconfortable stuff. Big hugs and slopply wet kisses. Youre my favorite! Good night sweet uncomfortable princess. Wish you the best, just like you treat me all the time. Thank you again!
1:36AM


That’s the end of things thus far.

To anyone who read the whole thing, thank you – I would love your input, anything you would like to share.

 

Size Insanity

If you’ve seen me in person lately, or if you follow me on Facebook, you know I have recently undergone a bit of a transformation in terms of how I dress: I’ve taken a sudden (and wildly unexpected – almost unwelcome) interest in dressing nicely, focusing on a lot of retro styles – Pin-Up Girl Clothing, ModCloth, Steady Clothing, Blame Betty, et cetera. I am more confused by this change than anyone else, believe me – I have never thought twice about “cute shoes” or “darling sweaters;” indeed, I have held fashion in a sort of contempt for 90% of my life. If you had told me, eight weeks ago, I would have a “Fashion” category on this blog, I would have laughed you across the street, down the block, and off the pier.

If I were seen in a dress or skirt, it was because of a special occasion, or because I’d forgotten to wash my regular clothes.

Dia de los Muertes Dress

Now one of my favorite things.

Jeans and boots were where I lived, man, and happily at that. I took power from my motorcycle boots, and my identity was very wrapped up in being super low-maintenance and unfussy.

As it turns out, it’s possible to dress well and still be those things. I can still wake up and be out of the house in 20 minutes, lipstick and all (that’s right, I said lipstick,) and I haven’t worn jeans and a t-shirt outside the house in at least two months. Who am I? Not a single clue. Maybe a fledgling adult. Maybe having a mid-life crisis.

ridiculous platform shoes

I don’t want to talk about this. Ok no, I really do! I love these! Fuck!

Now, I find myself wandering, wide-eyed, through a labyrinthine online maze of endlessly amazing skirts, dresses, tops, capris, shoes. I find myself saying things like, “Oooh, those are adorable,” when not referring to baby animals.

cute!

Right? Right.

As I’ve been shopping (mostly online) of late, I remembered part of why I fled into the world of comfortable and practical t-shirts, jeans, and boots – there is seldom any size fuckery with those items, especially when dealing with men’s clothing.

In the highly variable and viciously fickle world of women’s clothing, however, what size I am remains a complete and utter mystery – a humiliating exercise in comparing size charts and reading every single review, searching for someone close to my measurements to see what did (and did not) work for them. Opening livechats with customer service representatives imploring them to solve the riddle for me.

Recently, I have purchased clothing which fits me well in sizes running from a 12 to a 4X – what?!  The 12 was very generous, and the 4X was very cruel, but for fuck’s sake – could we please work out some kind of sensible, universal guideline for this nonsense? “Oh, that’s an Asian extra-large;” “Oh, that’s an English 2X.”  We live in a global society, and we should act like it.

Sure! Why not!

Hello, this is what a Size 4X looks like in some places: 5’7″, 175 pounds.

I am not getting hung up on numbers here – I don’t care if I end up as a size 5 or a size 500 – I just want to know what the fuck I am buying. I want consistency. My measurements are what is considered an “hourglass” figure by most manufacturers: At the fullest part of my bust, 45 inches. My waist, 37 inches. Largest part of my hips, 45 inches. In short, “big,” compared to the idolized 36/24/36 figure.

“Hourglass” sounds nice, right? But plus-sized hourglasses are just too much for many companies to deal with in their larger sizes – they tend to design their clothes with one shape in mind: Round. Round is fine – round is great! – but it doesn’t work for those of us who are NOT round.

They often forget that many women have large breasts – regardless of overall body size, large-chested women fight this battle every day, finding the perfect garment, only to discover the top is laughably small, and that the size which would accommodate our girls would look like a mumu. Many larger women have proportionally larger breasts, which do not fit into the …. ok, never mind – this is an entirely other rant for another time.

Back to the point at hand: I understand I am not pixie-sized – I get it that I am on the larger side. I don’t expect every line of clothing to cater to every conceivable body type, nor does anyone need to coddle my ego and tell me I’m a size four. What I want is some sanity.

Check out these size charts as examples:

size1

size2

size3

size4

size5

This may be the most helpful one yet, as it supplies international sizes, as well as numeric and letter-based sizes to compare, and it seems at least loosely based on reality:

size6

From that one small random sample, we see an XL person could be someone with a 31-inch waist all the way through a 38-inch waist. Seven inches of variance is a huge difference.

Women of smaller sizes have it slightly better than I do, but not entirely – “small” waists ranging from 24.5 inches to 27, “medium” from 26.5 inches to 29.92 (point-nine-two? Seriously?!) Girls in the “large” category, watch out – waists of 30.5 inches all the way up to 36.

Even more infuriating are those sites which list most of their garments in numeric sizes, only to have some pieces suddenly turn into S/M/L/XL/XXL and so on – sizes not addressed in their numeric size chart. <dramatic eyeroll>

I have no point, really; I’m just pissed at the lack of consistency. Truly, a “first-world/the struggle is real” sort of problem. There are meatier posts in the pipeline… but I needed to not think about those for awhile.

So here we are. In summary:

  • Finding clothes in my size is an unmitigated bitch;
  • Fuck you, most clothing manufacturers;
  • Please come to your senses.