Just got back from Montreal. Was there on a very aspirational sort of trip. I attended an international conference sponsored by a Canadian science organization. It’s an area of science I aspired to work in. I loved it in my undergrad. I was almost publishable.

On the flight over, I sat next to a postdoc who was going to a different conference. When I overheard him talking of their research topic, I assumed it was my conference, because it uses similar technology. Had quite a nice conversation with him on the plane, and he encouraged me and go back and finish my undergrad research. I stopped because my prof left to another university, but also because I didn’t really believe in either myself or what I was doing, not sure which. Maybe both.

Sadly, on the way back I sat next to some wanker who though twig-skinny had to hog the armrest and the foot-area divider. He repeatedly put his foot on top of mine and elbowed me in the side. Eventually I put a thick airline magazine between my side and the armrest and the jabbing ceased. This person sat and watched lame movies and as far as I know was a complete waste of space. Or at least I felt like killing him 2/3 way into the flight. Why the fuck did he need to keep elbowing me and brushing my skin with his hairy arm? I hate people touching me. I really, really hate people touching me.

So I wasted over $1000 to find out that yet again I don’t belong and to get numerous WTF-looks from people who know damn well I don’t belong. But  I don’t want to retire into a world of shinyhappy lunches, trips, outings, and classes. On the way home I sat and read a python textbook on my laptop for several hours. Those are the classes, method and tools I’m interested in. I want a real job, not an easy wind-down. I’m not finished! I haven’t even started. I never had a life. I want a real life, not delusion. I’d rather not kill myself right now, logical as that direction may seem.

I was also sick the whole time, hacking into my kleenex and taking antihistamines, pseudoephedrine and cough syrup day and night, bolstered by cough drops as needed. Yet another detail to make my old, grey, undereducated and overweight ass yet more unappealing to anyone there.

And I didn’t even make it to Schwartz’ Deli for the ultimate Montreal smoked meat sandwich. I was just too sick and tired. Instead I grabbed a beef shawarma pita thing that was nasty because it tasted like mustard. Is mustard an Arabic thing? I doubt it. So much for getting it with “everything” when you dk what “everything” is.


Getting better

Getting better

I must be getting better. All my hard work over the last year or so, especially the last six months. I came back from the separation, thinking we were going to see each other every week, do something. It’d be like the date nights we never had. He wanted to be friends. It was his idea to see each other at least every week or two or a couple times a week. Sure didn’t work out that way. Still, I must be getting better because even now with this last chunk of jaw-dropping madness today, I don’t feel suicidal. I’m not even lying on the floor screaming in a blackness. I don’t have the urge to ingest anything. I made a cup of peppermint tea because warmth is good for anxiety. And jaw-dropping madness generally leads to anxiety.

See, yesterday I caved to his demand that we only meet do to something fun. I temporarily let go of the requirement that we deal with resolving a now shrivelled and ancient conflict from the last time we got together a month ago. I caved, and I even came up with the fun or creative thing. He built on it. He liked it. But now the goalposts moved, as usual. The bizarre language reminds me of the crazy soldier I painted at his request for the cover of his apparently unpublished book. General Madness, his name. Rule from on high: I must not ever refer to anything in the past. Frankly, I don’t see how I can function like that.

I was strong enough to cave, but not strong enough to subject myself to this. I can’t afford the emotional risk and inevitable cost anymore. I’m trying to get myself a life, and that’s time-intensive.

Plus I value the past. Context, ya know? And that old cliche about repeating the past. I think that’s exactly what he must want: to continue the pattern from the past. Ever since our split he’s refused to examine it unless it is to bash me. I’ve squeezed a few apologies out of him by calling him on his shit, but they aren’t a bountiful self-sustaining crop. More like a square mini-watermelon grown in Japan with great management effort and follow-through. And probably not as good as a fat old field-grown watermelon, straining its thin skin in the Texas sun. Crispy and juicy at the same time.

So, here we are, almost nine months after I got back, and he wants no contact. Just wow, after 12 years of friendship. I know I haven’t done anything that bad, and I have to put this down to his incapacity. After all, he was self-diagnosed schizophrenic from the start, based on his strong hallucinations, but we thought it’d be okay, given he knew they weren’t real. I was proud of his ability to handle them, and so was he. I trusted him. But I didn’t research the complications of schizophrenia, at all. No official diagnosis there, but he fits the patterns I’ve heard about from those more experienced than me. My cousin who does a lot of charity work recognized the schizophrenia before I ever mentioned the word. I just told her how baffled I was by what was happening. The paranoia, the strange fixed ideas, the very low EQ, and tendency to lash out at the very person who most supported them. And BINGO was his name-o.  He can’t deal with me, but that quickly translates as “I’m not worth it to him” and that hurts.

So I lay down on my bed, under a soft flannel blanket that used to be only for meditation time. Heat is good for anxiety, I read, and so I acted on that advice. And I tuned into my body, my feelings. I took a watchful and meditative stance in my mind.

I cried. I went to my safe place. I imagined I’m a crying kitten, a tiger kitten. My mother is big and soft and wrapped around me. Cat armpits do not smell bad in my experience, and cat bellies can be quite nice. And this is wrapped around me in a big way. I just imagine feeling it. It soothes me. Takes me away from all the realities I have experienced.

The cat takes my back and the little fairy-girl takes my front. She came from a dream I had, of a strange little girl putting her arms around me and kind of burying her fase in my belly. Disturbing, but then I thought about it and it was like being kissed by a fairy, loved at my centre, accepted. I don’t have kids, but I’m going to be born out of myself, out of that belly formed from stress eating and stuffing down emotions with numbing quantities of food. Cat at the back, fairy kiss at the front. For the moment I feel safe.

I really should take down the cable from the bathroom hook. I’m not going to kill myself. I had a really bad day a few weeks back and I dug that thing out of its box, and I actually put it around my neck. First time for that. Seems like I won’t be needing it, though. I am alone, there is no contact, and I don’t feel suicidal or needing to indulge and ingest, to fill myself up, deaden the panic and all the other feelings. Instead I’m sitting with them and being willing to let go in general, and embrace a life of new good things.

Never again

Never again

She was an idiot; I could tell from the start. I walked into this busy place for my appointment. She comes up, “Are you Frances,” but doesn’t introduce herself. I take a brief look at her, noticing stiff, pinched shoulders and curtains of dried out lizard skin under hollowed eyes. I don’t think I looked at her again for the 15 minutes I was there. “Can I sit here?” Anywhere, sure, but she didn’t invite me to sit, so I just stood there till I had to again take the initiative. So she starts asking me increasingly personal questions as she fills out the form. “Do you have a partner?” That’s when the tears started dripping out of my eyes.

We filed our divorce papers less than a month ago, you see. But that particular wound has been hurting for a couple years since I asked myself if our relationship was going to survive. He’d been pulling away for longer than that. I didn’t know what was happening, just that it hurt like hell. A split was unfathomable to me, and unbearable when it happened. I don’t how how it is that I’m still alive. He was my one and only, even if it was all a mistake. The one that I thought loved me, who often acted lovingly, despite his emotional incapacity overall.

But I’ve never tried to kill myself. I always tell counsellors and therapists that in the first session. This true fact, at my multi-decadal age, seems to reassure them. Also, “I have no intentions,” which is not always true, but, hey, they can’t police the inside of my mind. Clearly, they have little if any understanding of it. So that’s a white lie to keep me from being locked up against my will. I also tell them I think suicide’s not necessarily a bad choice, and by the way it’s not illegal and we even have some assisted suicide now in Canada. So there.

But life has been tough, so tough that none of these counsellors can help me. Certainly not this one, and that’s why she sent me away. Just as well, because she was an idiot. “You need some longer-term help. Go to Mental Health. See a psychiatrist if you’re depressed.” Wow, lady, I’m not depressed. I’m sad for a reason. People throw around clinical labels like GPs throw around antidepressants – like candy. This candy, like real candy, is not good for you and doesn’t really hit that sweet spot of satisfaction. No, that requires empathy – something that should be limitless, but is very rare.

I tried to take the bright path, not the dark one. But days like this the path feels very dark, indeed.

Can’t stop crying. Cried all the way home, in front of people. Got home, lay down and cried some more. After half an hour, I was read to go do something useful. But never again go to any kind of counsellor. I’ll have to sort this out on my own.

See, the last serious counsellor I went to told me something interesting in the last session. It was, “Well, I’ve failed you.” Thank you, woman! First person to have the balls to admit it instead of just biting their lip hesitantly and sending me away. Most of these counsellors have nothing to offer. Me re-telling my story interests them, clearly, as the fascination shows in their eye-glaze, just like a dog looking at food on your plate. But the re-telling doesn’t help me, if I get nothing back, if I get no understanding and empathy. Not sure which is worse, lip service or the silent treatment. Maybe both are just complete garbage, equally rotten.

So, my life was built around him and for him, and now he’s gone, except when he pops up in email to say something irritating and ignore whatever I said. But I just can’t shut the door. I regretted shutting the door on others in the past and I can’t do it to the guy I married. Even if he’s batshit insane. He can’t help himself.

But my life! I don’t spend whole days or multiples in turmoil anymore. I am trying to cram more useful, progressive, hopeful, constructive and fun things into my days. I am doing a time-study – logging every half hour on a spreadsheet. So why am I wasting time writing this blog? Well, really, there are a few different stories I wanted to tell and weave together. Threads in my life. I guess I should have started with a funny bit instead of bitching about the idiot “plain old everyday counsellor” who doesn’t think she’s better than other counsellors. Which I thought was a pretty bizarre thing to say. I guess I’m glad she sent me out of there, because I just saved potentially 12 hours of time spent with her and probably 24 or 36 or more hours of turmoil coming out of letting my life stories be sucked out of me by an emotional vampire who gives nothing back. So, yay. I have to depend on me. As everyone says, I am extremely dependable. Unless you’re depending on me not to cry.