The Hack

Dana invited me to come over to her apartment for pizza, but she doesn’t have any furniture except her bed and a couple of patio chairs. She said I could fall asleep next to her if I wanted. I woke up at three in the morning because as you can imagine, I did not sleep well. I tossed and turned in what used to be my old bed and just got more confused by the minute. I got up around 4:00 and made coffee, then I went out on the patio and just read. When the sun started to come up, I woke Dana up and told her that it had gotten weird and I was going home. I do not like this dance of “let’s be close” to my face and what a horrible manipulator I can be behind my back. I constantly feel as if Dana is trying to tell me what I want to hear… but at the same time, if that were true, why would she be inviting me to spend time with her? It is a question for which I no longer have tolerance. It’s too much cognitive dissonance to feel valued and devalued all at the same time, and I have other people in my life who haven’t been in a toxic relationship with me for the past two years to fall on.

That is because Dana and Argo both accuse me of revisionist history, but do not explore why I would say what I’d say. To them, it’s just crazymaking that I would say I’d fallen in love with someone without meeting them. It is inconceivable to me that Dana does not understand this, given the way that she moved to Portland (which is her story to tell, but if you know it, IT IS APT.) Argo does not understand the ways she participated in me wanting to be near her in the first place, and sees it as toxic that I would consider leaving my support system here, because it comes across like she thinks that she would be my support system there. We only know each other through letters. Why in the world would I want to see her without mutually agreeing it should happen? The idea of meeting in person is SUPER intimidating to me, and as far as I’m concerned, I could live a lifetime without it happening. Even if we did live close, it wouldn’t mean that I would treat her any differently than I do right now. I never forget that the physical plane exists, and so does travel. If we’d wanted to get together by now, it would have happened already. To me, adding flame to this fire is just a way to make me seem crazier than I really am, which is plenty. But at the same time, not that crazy. There are more reasons to move than there are to stay, regardless of whether Argo and I ever speak again…. particularly true because I loved not having to drive and being able to take public transportation everywhere. But it is just a future that never happened, or hasn’t happened yet.

If we were going to meet, it should have happened early on, before our minds connected to such a degree that we couldn’t go back and undo or unsay anything. Argo has said that she is sorry for the way Oz was revealed, and all I can say is “right back at ya.” I am so sorry that I am not THAT writer for her anymore. I am so sorry that I cannot light her up from the inside with laughter. I am sorry that her opinion of me became so low at my own hand, because I could not express everything that I wanted to say that would put my behavior in context. She talks frequently about my manipulations. But hers are there, too. The difference is that in our relationship, I’m the manipulator, and I should know it. Because why would she ever manipulate me to get what she wanted? That street has gone both ways for many, many months. So why would I stay in a toxic triangle like the three of us created? None of us realized how harmful it was right up until it was a flaming disaster, least of all me.

Argo has no idea how much impact walking with her on HER journey changed ME, but I can’t talk about it. I can only speak to my own experiences, and the only other person that was there for those conversations was Dana, so there is no one else in the world that knows the depth and breadth of our relationship before it got weird and we both picked up our toys. I went home for good reason. However, I feel that I should say it out loud that it wouldn’t matter if she lived across the street. Physical location doesn’t mean much to me at all, until it’s been two years and there’s been no regular friend-normalizing stuff to interrupt doing lines of emotional crack on each other, while she says that I only know “random factoids.” It is not revisionist history to say that the relationship was great AND it changed me in ways that I will never get back. There’s a reason I spiraled out of control mentally. I am not trying to be revisionist. It’s that in Argo’s case, there’s a lot I heard from her that affected me just as much as talking to her. It was a mutual relationship by all counts, until Argo passive-aggressively accused me of something I didn’t do in order to pull away from me because she knew that my feelings for her were growing. The fact that she lied to cover up her real motivation was a huge fissure to me, and though I hold no ill will, it established to me that she was capable of messing me up, and her line about not manipulating me was insulting. This was fairly early on in our relationship, and the pedestal I fell from cracked my face. I never gained any ground with her after that, but the changes to me and in me had already begun. I was not in a place where I could think about anyone else but the two of us, but that’s another set of confidentiality issues and in no way romantic. Just personal.

All of my mental issues were held out in scrutiny, and I think that’s all I need to say about that. We all have our own quirks, and I hope that part of my charm is realizing I needed help for mine.

Dana and Argo are furious with me because they think that I am a monster/mental patient. I am furious with them for thinking that out of this goat-roping clusterfuck, I’m the only one that needs help. It is so much easier to point fingers at other people than it is to own your own shit, but it did not earn me any style points with either of them to tell them so. I wanted them to look at me like, “if she can do it, maybe we can, too.” The reality is soul-crushingly opposite.

They both tend to read my writing without follow-up questions, which leads to a lot of inference and not a lot of direct communication. I am definitely ok with this, because anyone who really wanted to know how I was doing would probably be wise to ask me. Why should I care about conversations that are not of me? It was not like this in the beginning. In the beginning, Argo said that I had amazing insight. But then I became human to her, not the writer from afar, and all of the sudden my insights weren’t so great anymore.

For instance, I remember that I sent her an e-mail talking about her dad; she thought I was in attack mode. I was actually trying to open up a dialogue about both of our parents, but that is not what came across to her. She thought that I was trying to say something bad about him, and I wasn’t…. but if you were just inferring into my words and not asking me what I meant, you could certainly take it that way without context. That, to me, was the breakdown in communication. Neither Argo nor Dana could see me in context anymore, because they both enjoyed the idea that I was the crazy one…. but when they did see me, life was amazing. As things began to break down further and further, people around me began to think that I was losing it. In some ways, I was, but not for the obvious, on the surface reasons. I was losing it because of everything that happened subcutaneously. I once told Argo that she’d gotten under my skin in a different way, through words. I cannot and will not ever tell you what those words were, but they were a game-changer, and I reeled. Of course my emotions were spiraling, but I cannot put it into any more context than that.

I am accused of revisionist history all the time. That’s because it’s my history, not yours. I am sure that you have come away with different impressions of me over the years- some valid, and some not- and that is the same way I feel about you. I have come up with lots of presuppositions and theories about who my readers might be, what lines stick, and how I am going to bring this site into the future.

It is not what everyone remembers about the situation; it’s what I do. For instance, if we’ve been fighting a lot, but we had a really good moment, I will carry the good moment with me instead of all the bad ones. That way, when I look back at our history, I have a rich tapestry of all the reasons why I value and appreciate you.

When you voluntarily ask for help with mental illness, it’s a mark that doesn’t go away. It will affect me for the rest of my life if I let it. But the truth is that I should have been hospitalized at 15. Then I wouldn’t look like such a crazy adult, because maybe I’d have been able to salvage the last three years of childhood.


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