I am so sorry to say that I’ve been cheating on you. It’s not you, it’s me. I love you, and I hope we can work it out.
Basically, I have a pen pal, and all my writing has been going privately between us rather than posting here. I think about you every day, but after baring my soul in black and white once, it’s hard to think about doing it again.
However, I do have a lot to say.
First of all, the MRI didn’t find anything and I am still in pain. I’ve been wearing a sling that you put in the freezer before you wear it, and taking Aleve every day. My next step is probably a massage therapist, but there’s a chance I could make it worse, so it’s a hard decision. Nothing is worse than pain a doctor can’t find, especially since it’s bad enough to need narcotics but I won’t deal with the side effects. I could get addicted to them, and besides that, they cause dehydration to the point of bowel impaction (gross) no matter what you do. In short, it’s just not worth it. I have better things to do besides rehab.
I have had to switch jobs because of it. I couldn’t move fast enough in the kitchen, and I couldn’t lift more than 10 lbs. without help. So, I do medical transcription from home through a company called Rev, choosing medicine/health because I worked for my stepmother (rheumatologist) for two years and have excellent recall with the spelling of drug names and being able to easily and naturally spell diseases without help- either from seeing them in print before or using my quick thinking with Latin roots.
Rev has introduced a new feature: it’s a computer-generated translation where you only have to go in and correct rather than typing the whole thing as I did originally. Notice I said “new” rather than useful. Computers are shit at spelling words that aren’t in the dictionary, and there are more of them than, say, if someone was transcribing a business meeting. It hinders more than it helps. The only thing that sometimes makes it hard is doctors with accents. I am okay with French, German, etc. Not so good with Indian and African. Nigerian is the worst. I can understand people from India, Nigeria, Eritrea, etc. just fine in person, but on a recording, I have to listen to them 10-15 times to get something like “ankylosing spondylitis.” At least the recordings are digital and much clearer than analog.
In fact, I meet tons of people from Africa almost every day, because Silver Spring has a HUGE African immigrant population and a lot of them drive for Uber. We get along famously, because especially with young men, what we have in common is soccer.
In fact, one of my roommates is a physician from Nigeria who is studying for his boards to get certified in the United States (looks 15 to me), and yesterday we hung out in his room watching Tottenham vs. Ajax. I knew from the beginning that Tottenham was going to lose, because even when Ajax has bad years, they aren’t THAT bad. My senior year of high school (1996), Ajax made it to the European cup finals, where the game ended in a 1-1 draw and Ajax lost by just two penalty kicks. It was heartbreaking even though I really didn’t have any skin in the game. I just hate it when teams come so close, and yet, so far.
I have a lot of soccer jerseys and one fabulous “dressy” shirt from Barca that I got from Dana’s parents one year for Christmas. Only one is personalized- Lionel Messi, a gift from my friend Katherine. The others are just as cool:
- MLS Jerseys and Scarves
- Portland Timbers (has Timber Joey and a chainsaw on the back)
- Houston Dynamo
- Houston Dash
- DC United
- National Teams
- Costa Rica
- South Africa (actually, that one is Springboks Rugby, but a sports jersey nonetheless)
Next on my list are Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and a t-shirt from the Canadian Soccer Association. One of these things is not like the others, but I can’t get over this logo. I must have it, especially since I now own red shoes. If I can’t find what I want, I will buy a really thick white or grey t-shirt and print it out on a t-shirt transfer. The background on this image is transparent, so I know that one must exist that is large enough for 8.5×11 paper. If not, I’ll put it on the pocket or the sleeve. It will go nicely with the ringer T I have that says “Canadians are Eh-holes.”
Inside joke- my very first high school girlfriend was Canadian, so I cannot help but make jokes at Canada’s expense. I love her to death, but she’s still my ex. Therefore, she deserves ribbing, but not hard enough to actually be mean about it…. especially since I have been to Montreal and Ottawa, and while I was there I could imagine myself as an expat immediately. If I ever decide to drive again, I’d love to take a road trip to Ottawa for Canada Day, then turn around in enough time to be in DC for the Fourth. Road trips from here to Ottawa are really fun. You go through Philly, New York City, Boston, and Montreal….. and the Ben and Jerry’s factory isn’t too far out of the way.
The time I went, it was Sept. 12, 2001, and Kathleen and I had tickets to Rent on Broadway. Needless to say, we didn’t make the show. We took a few days in Boston, instead.
I tend to jump around on subjects naturally because I’m either workshopping or terribly ADD, anyway, but today I have a first to report. I took my medication, then two hours later, I forgot and took them again. Lamictal causes terrible dyspraxia at high doses, and I’m at 400mg right now. Lexapro causes something I like…. euphoria. So maybe I’m incredibly joyous, but it remains to be seen whether I can hold onto it. 😛
My depression and anxiety has been so bad lately that it feels nice to let go of it all and just enjoy life for a while, even if it’s only a few hours. There’s a pointed reason my anxiety is ratcheted up, but I can’t lay that card on the table. I would if I could, but it betrays more than one person’s confidence, and that just isn’t right. This blog is my story to tell, not to tell theirs for them. So, I can talk about my reactions, but not the cause. But the long and short of it is that I am not fighting with anyone, or in conflict. Just worried because one of my friends is going through the shit right now, and it’s not anyone I’ve mentioned in the past, and not likely to appear in the future. I have to have something that’s only for me. I hope I already give you enough to really know me.
For instance, I’ll give you the tidbit of how I had a Canadian girlfriend in the first place. Her dad worked for ExxonMobil (Esso in Canada), and therefore the whole famn damily moved to Texas, save, I think, her sister, who was already at university.
It’s also the reason I am so entrenched with the soccer bug. By the time we’d broken up and made friends again, she commented that I knew more about soccer than she did, despite playing Div I ball and training for the Canadian Olympic development team by the time she quit… the combination of a toxic coach and eight surgeries on her knees from Osgood-Schlatter’s disease…. which, at the time, I made it a point not to remember the name of it and called it Oskar Schindler’s disease for years. I call it by its proper name now- it’s no fun anymore because she’s not around for me to flip her shit.
So I just keep buying and being gifted soccer jerseys and learning about national teams from countries I’ll probably never visit. The funniest thing is that I know so much about the players themselves, but am still sort of unclear on all the rules. Offsides is particularly difficult for me to “diagnose.”
And now I feel I should make a pointed difference between telling others’ stories when it’s not something that’s been asked to keep in confidence and they are 20 years old. If you say “keep it tight,” I will.
I made a huge mistake by sharing everything with Dana, when not all friendships are designed to be “couple friendships.” Friends deserve confidential spaces in my heart just as much as my partners.
Note to future partners as well…. if I keep something from you, it’s because it’s needed for the other person to feel safe with me, not because I love you any less. I’m the one they trusted, not you. I will give you that space as well.
I can’t remember how long it’s been, but someone actually asked me about my dating life and I had to admit that I don’t have one, and am not likely to have one in the future. Believe me, if I did, I’d talk about it. I don’t date for two reasons, and both are valid.
The first is that I really, really hurt Dana and she really, really hurt me. You’d think four years would be enough time to get over it, but I see no evidence of it. The way it manifests is that I know I’m capable of hurting people, so therefore, I shy away from dating as not to hurt anyone else.
There are two pathways of thought that are cognitive dissonance for me. Some experts say that you need to get your own house in order before you add anyone. Some say that new relationships teach you new ways of coping, and after an appropriate amount of grieving, it doesn’t matter if you handle everything perfectly. You’ll learn “on the job.”
I tend to agree with the former rather than the latter. If you don’t resolve old patterns, they follow you. It’s a new person, but you’re still the same, so you tend to drag them into your ways of dealing because you don’t know differently yet…. and if the way you deal is unhealthy, the new relationship will spiral out into old history.
But I can’t pin all of this on my relationship with Dana. I wasn’t even ready for Meagan (Canadian) even though I thought I was. My way of coping with emotional abuse as a teenager was to lock it away and pretend that because it wasn’t physical, it wasn’t abuse. Not really, anyway. When someone convinced me of the truth, it was as if a bomb dropped in my soul and my stomach dropped to the floor. The blast radius was enormous, mostly because I couldn’t tell which came first. Did my depression and anxiety make me an easy target, or was I depressed and anxious because I was being emotionally abused? I tend to think of that as the former as well, because medication correcting my chemical imbalance didn’t solve the problem, but it did make it a whole hell of a lot better, especially when a psychiatrist in college was astute enough to realize that I wasn’t unipolar, but low-key bipolar. I didn’t truly do much better until I was on a mood stabilizer. That’s because an SSRI was just a Band-Aid and the mood stabilizer actually treated the problem. I was helped again when my anxiety was treated as a separate issue and started taking medication for it as well. To be clear, my anxiety medication does not treat me psychologically. That, I have to do with talk therapy. What it actually does is take away the physical symptoms, like heart and brain race, and popping off with irrational rage because my emotions are going to 11 and I feel like I am literally going to die. There’s a reason people get panic attacks confused with myocardial infarction, because they can cause angina if they’re severe enough. The worst panic attack I’ve ever had was during my divorce from Dana, because something she said registered all my hot buttons at once and I went from fully-functioning adult to weeping, hyperventilating, and heart pain inside of one second. I crumpled to the floor, and Dana called my parents because my stepmom is a doctor. It was the first time they’d seen the bruise under my eye and it did not go well.
The long and short of it is that no matter how badly I behaved emotionally, I didn’t do anything for the physical barrier to be broken. Dana didn’t hit me first, but she did shove me over and that’s when my anxiety caused rational rage. The irrational part was fighting back when I should’ve run and never come back. She was over a hundred pounds heavier than me and her fist was three times as big. Why I thought standing up for myself was a good idea will always be beyond me. It was like thinking, “what would a chihuahua do in this situation if a St. Bernard was picking on them?” Ummm, get themselves into a horrible situation, that’s what.
I didn’t deserve what I got, but I could have handled it differently. I could have gotten in my car and driven to a friend’s. I could have called the police because Dana was so angry that I knew nothing would de-escalate. I could have called someone to come and get me because I was so angry I probably shouldn’t have been driving. But in that moment, the person I wanted wasn’t available… because there’s a difference between any friend showing up and knowing what would happen if the person I was thinking of did. There are few people in the world I can think of who would have caused as much intimidation to get the de-escalation I needed and couldn’t get on my own.
I also go back to a few weeks before that fight, to a friend saying I needed to get away from Dana because what he saw was that she was constantly shitting all over my ideas and not treating me as an equal, which made him really, really mad because I was the one taking care of our family financially and giving her a free ride because I wanted it that way. I wanted to give her the gift of the space to think about what she really wanted to do, and at that time, it was teach. So she’d need to go back to school, whether it was to do a post-bac teaching degree or a course to get certified with the Bachelor’s she already had. She got rejected from the HISD program and instead of finding another one, crumpled into depression and couldn’t pull herself out. So, while she was dismissing me as a partner, she was also doing nothing about an easily solvable problem because she was so good at so many things. She loved cooking, she loved math and logic and could have made an excellent programmer, etc. etc. etc. With anything she chose, she eventually would have been making more than me, and perhaps I could have gone back to school. Or we could have both applied for student loans and carpooled to University of Houston.
It’s always so sad that hindsight is 20/20.
Being the “parent” in the relationship is I’m sure why it was so easy to fall into those “being in love with a stranger on a train” feelings. I wasn’t getting what I needed at home, and the dopamine of an explosive connection helped. It flooded my brain with happiness, so I was more capable of dealing with my problems, which at the time seemed hopeless because I became enmeshed in trying to “fix” Dana when she had to confront her own brokenness and there was nothing I could or should do to help her.
As Argo said to me, “why do you expect everyone else to fix you?” I wonder if I’d said that to Dana if she would have reacted as I did, which was to realize I had agency and that the only thing that would help me with my compounded PTSD (emotional abuse as a teen and the fight between Dana and me) would be getting to an emergency room and getting my shit handled on my own. I decided to be a gladiator in a suit.
Now I have two suits, and a lot of soccer jerseys.
I’m sorry I cheated on you. Are we cool?