V-Day

I ran into my next-door neighbor yesterday as I was coming back from the pharmacy up the street and she was heading out to her car. We usually only exchange a “hey” and weak smiles. Instead, I said, “Did you hear the downstairs couple screaming for eight and a half hours Saturday???”

She said, “Oh, I guess he has PTSD, so that’s why he’s violent.”

I said, “That’s NO excuse. None.”

She walked away from me quickly and snidely said over her shoulder, “Well, stuff happens in relationships.” 

Yeah, it does. I can tell you all about the relationship downstairs. There’s a lot of crying. The guy rages and screams and says that he CAN’T EXPRESS HIMSELF LIKE SHE CAN and SHE’S GOT IT EASY and EVERYONE LETS HER TALK BUT NO ONE LETS HIM TALK and I can’t hear her response clearly because he’s raging and screaming and telling her to shut the fuck up. Sometimes he tells her she’s stupid for touching his stuff. Sometimes he tells her she’s stupid for cleaning a certain way and that no one else cleans that way in the entire world. THE ENTIRE WORLD DOES IT BETTER THAN SHE DOES. If she would just LISTEN TO HIM THEN THINGS WOULD BE BETTER, but NO, SHE’S GOT TO BE FUCKING SELFISH, and WHY DOES SHE MAKE IT SO HARD ON HIM? She’s so self-centered!

This went on for eight and a half hours Saturday night. The only break was when they had visitors at around 7 pm to sing one of them – I think the husband – happy birthday. Just a half hour beforehand there was sobbing, so someone had to get cleaned up before the friends came over. Then when the visitors left, there was a huge, audible sigh, and the fighting resumed. 

Is this what my next-door neighbor really believes is the norm? Is this really what is healthy in her eyes?

It doesn’t feel good to me. It makes my skin crawl. Specifically, it affects me because I have been in it before. The worst was Drummer #2, the guy who would write me hate letters in dry erase marker on the kitchen tile counter overnight and cover the entire counter and I would wake up to chaos. Our fights would last hours and days, and the scripts were the same: he couldn’t talk about his feelings (while screaming at me), if I would only do things his way then he wouldn’t get pissed off at me (but the rules were always changing), and by the way, why was I so selfish?

But I didn’t learn my lesson with him. The most recent live-in boyfriend that I had turned violent after we moved in together. He became very unhappy after realizing that I wouldn’t be able to wait on him hand and foot because I’d be recovering from one of my many surgeries, and it really pissed him off that I made twice as much money as him. He shoved me three weeks after one of my surgeries. I broke up with him five months after we moved in together, but I still kick myself for even letting it go that long.

Eve Ensler, the creator of “The Vagina Monologues,” came up with a brilliant movement: V-Day. On Valentine’s Day, it’s important to remember that it’s not always roses and chocolates – sometimes it’s booze and bruises, or worse.

http://www.vday.org/homepage.html

And of course a block down the road from us in St. Paul is the oldest women’s shelter in the U.S.

But even though we have these wonderful resources, and we have the women’s march in D.C. and around the globe, and we can say “pussy” and “vagina” without raising an eyebrow, there is still such a huge disconnect.

Why is my neighbor so flip about “stuff” happening in relationships? Is she just so fucking grateful that it’s all about pleasing the guy? And is her assumption that I’ve never been in a relationship so I don’t have a clue? Oh, honey, let me direct you to my blog…

But I feel like it is such a never-ending battle, for me, and for all women, to be considered equal and to not be slut shamed or used as punching bags, and to make sure we are not buying into some patriarchal and misogynistic vomit.

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No. Oh, Wait…Oh, That’s a Definite No.

Of course it’s been a while since I’ve logged on to OKCupid, but there are some guys who don’t pay attention to that and just like my pictures or check out my profile without looking at the last time I’ve logged in. I will admit that even I’ve been excited about a profile and then noticed too late that it’s been a month or three since the guy has logged in, signaling either 1) He found someone, or 2) He gave up, or 3) He’s in jail. I got a little notification in my email with a note from the guy saying, “I do have a German shepherd and a Siamese – otherwise I’m clean- list-wise”

I’ve heard this before. I logged in. We were a whopping 43% of a match. I looked over his profile, and the very first thing I saw is that he’s Christian, and it’s somewhat important. What did I specify in my profile? I won’t date someone who participates in organized religion. Why not? Because I’m not waiting to be saved or led or subjugated. I can lead a morally upright life without religion. I can lead a spiritually aware life without religion.

Some other tidbits from his profile: He admits he drinks regularly (at least 4-5 nights a week), he really, really wants to fuck anything that moves, and he’s a Dom. A little more from his questions: He doesn’t want women to have “too high self-esteem; he wants to date a slut; he would prefer to date only in his race; jealousy is healthy; he could be in an open relationship; he’s just looking for sex for the next few months.”

I started with the easiest one, and replied that we wouldn’t be a match because he has listed himself as a Christian and that it’s important to him.

His response: Really? I’m a barely attending Lutheran with doubts. And what is with intolerant people on all sides of the spectrum- Good luck with your godless utopia
Me: Since your profile says that you’re Christian and you’re getting pissy that I pointed it out, I’d say it’s pretty important to you. And since you’re offended that I don’t believe in organized religion, I’d say we’re not a match.

I didn’t even have to take it any further than that because he blocked me and so I blocked him (sometimes these jackwads come back later when they are drunk and looking for spank bank material). But really, he’s “questioning” his faith because he really, really wants to fuck around and he doesn’t want to feel guilty about it. It was such a weak insult to throw at me – “godless utopia”??? That’s only a horror to someone who believes it’s the worst kind of hell a soul can suffer. If he wasn’t strong in his faith, he wouldn’t have written it. I guarantee you he’s still trying to work out how to give himself blow jobs.

The One That Got Away & Other Lies

There is a guy on Twitter that I started following who is a life coach and motivational speaker, but is definitely not a Joel Osteen/Tony Robbins type, though closer to Tony than Joel – he reminds me of the fast-talking Italian types that I think all of us have seen a time or two whenever guys in suits are interviewed about whatever happens on Wall Street. And they’re Italian. And they’re loud. And they say “fuck” a lot. And they have a lot of big, white teeth and they talk fast and they say “fuck” again, just for emphasis.

What Brenden says in 140 characters on a regular basis at least once a day is what I have said at least once myself, or maybe have taken a few more words to have said it, but the sentiment was there. One downside to Brenden is that he is a staunch supporter of Trump, so I have to sometimes decide if I have to walk away from what he’s saying for an entire day because he’s humping Trump. I wish he would leave the elections out of his life coaching, but it’s his choice, so I have to deal with it.

To be clear, I’m not following Brenden because I feel I need life coaching. I think I have a pretty good handle on who I am, and I think Brenden has a pretty good handle on who he is. For a good portion of my life people have come to me for my help and advice. I feel like Brenden should be my backup bitch. I haven’t got the energy for it. Actually, I need to reword that: I don’t have the fucking energy for it. I’m at doctor appointments nearly every day and worrying about where I’m going to live when my money runs out.

Anyway, one of his posts today was this: “You can’t move forward in life until you’ve got a proper context for the past and are completely at peace with it.”

I think proper context is something that a lot of people miss out on, especially if they are finding themselves stuck in the same patterns.

Because I’ve been on OKCupid a few times in that past couple of weeks, I’ve seen old messages that were not previously deleted – even from a few years ago! Some exchanges cracked me up, some made me roll my eyes, some guys made me think of course you’re still on here, you’re just looking for someone to bang, not a relationship like you claim in your profile.

Of course, the messages between the most recent ex and I were in there too. He told me in the course of our exchange that he had taken expensive dance lessons to impress a woman who had no romantic interest in him and never would. I found out this happened sometime between age 38 and 44 for him, and he turned 45 when we dated. He was supposedly madly in love with this woman for five years while she said she only wanted friendship from him (and maybe once in a while emergency assistance like errands or bail-outs).

He told me, “She’s the closest thing to the one that got away, I guess.” This is not proper context. If one is going to use this Nicholas-Sparks-antiquated term, it refers to both parties loving each other and feeling as if they could, indeed, be in a long term or forever relationship, but distance or circumstances (like one of them is taking care of an ailing parent for 20 years and it’s the 1940’s and unmarried people don’t live under the same roof) keeps the couple from getting together. This woman could not imagine dating him. He was really, really trying hard to make her change her mind. For five years.

She does not owe the Ex-Saint because he really, really wanted her to change her mind. She is not, nor will she ever be, the one who got away.

Same goes for me. I am not one that “got away” – but I did call bullshit.

It’s weird and creepy how much of a departure from reality his imagination took him, but here’s a glimpse: He would tell everyone he managed a “call center.” Now, I’ve worked in call centers for 15 years. Hell, the campus I worked at in Arizona had 4500 people. His area has 3 people including him. He’s never worked in a call center in his life because this has been his only job in his entire adulthood besides the pizza place in college (which also wasn’t a call center, incidentally). My apartment has a cell phone and a VoIP phone. Do I live in a call center? No. But if he were describing it and it was his apartment, then yes, it would be a call center.

The Ex-Saint would get many calls that he wouldn’t answer while we were spending time together. I suspected that they were bill collectors, but he never admitted it.

The Ex-Saint had a gambling problem and would drop large bills on pull tabs. I only knew about it because the few times that we were at bars, he couldn’t pass by the pull tabs without spending a minimum of $50-100 in 5 minutes.

The Ex-Saint is a binge drinker. Every weekend, and even a few days a week, he gets stupid drunk. I estimate that he drinks somewhere around 50-70 12 oz. beers a month (but that might even be conservative). He’s also obsessed with putting jalapenos on all of his food, which has been identified as being an indicator that someone is an alcoholic – they seek out the spiciest food because they have fucked up their entire taste system.

The Ex-Saint is a binge eater. He slurps all of his food from his fork in a frenzied fashion as if it’s the first and last time he will ever eat, chews frantically with his mouth open and his eyes glaze over. He also eats 2-3 full plates at a time. This one is particularly hard for me because I have certain triggers myself, having struggled all my life with food addictions and seeking comfort emotionally through food. (Side thought: Where’s the damn gene that makes us addicted to vegetables??? WTF?)

The Ex-Saint is a hoarder. I was never allowed to see his apartment because apparently it was packed with junk and boxes.

The Ex-Saint is a compulsive liar. From the job description to the denial about drinking and gambling and just about anything else you can think of (too much to list here), lying is so much a part of his life because addiction is. I remember one time he tried to accuse me of lying about playing the violin, clarinet and piano; I told him that he had walked past my violin a few hundred times in my closet without realizing it, but it was there on the top shelf right in the open if he looked. No lie there. I’m musically inclined.

Proper context would happen if he actually got professional help to work through his issues. Unfortunately, he’s back on OKCupid (so now I can properly block him) – but that means he’s going to be telling his lies to a whole new audience. I’m sure his family feels sorry for him and has told him to get out there and try again. But if he’s lying to them, or worse, they are enabling him to continue to hoard and binge drink and gamble and wrack up debt, they’re not doing him a lick of good.

If he’s ready for some honesty, I’ve got Brenden’s info. Brenden will help him kick some fucking ass with truth and live an authentic life.

(Just don’t vote Trump or we will all die by February 2017.)

Okay, OKAY, Cupid – Sheesh.

I received a message from one of my stalkers whose messages go directly to my spam folder on my phone. I somehow managed to open it in my sleep and it startled me wide awake when I saw it: “I left Minnesota.” Did I believe it? No. Because when I scrolled back further in the spam folder, I saw various messages from him desperately trying numerous tactics to get my attention. “Oh, hey, the sky is blue, so I thought of you.” Yeah, buddy, nice try.

I haven’t logged onto OKCupid since March, so it took me a few tries to get the right username/password combo. I finally got in and found this jackass’s profile, made sure he was still blocked, then tried to figure out if he truly left the state, but everything looked the same. So I really can’t tell. That means I’m going to be looking over my shoulder for a while still. His “I won’t take no for an answer” attitude has gone on for almost a full year now.

While I was on, I decided to block the profile of the most recent ex, since he also has stalking tendencies – he admitted that he was still trying to “get” a friend to love him after five years of friendship and one failed date and that she was “the woman of his dreams.” The birthday gift to me was what he had told me he was going to give to her, which was a box he had picked out from a thrift store and write out qualities he liked about her on index cards he placed inside the box like a treasure chest. On one hand it was touching, but on the other hand it hurt – it made me realize there wasn’t anything special about me as far as he was concerned, but rather I was just fulfilling some romanticized role he had created in a fantasy. It also explained why he referred to me in the third person when we talked to each other. I was an object. I could barely get him to stop using a fake accent he had concocted when we were being intimate and not silly. I can only imagine the lies he is telling everyone about why I chose to end the relationship, but now I have to worry about him showing up at my sister’s workplace across the street, or hovering around my apartment’s entrance door and slipping in and then trying to SHOW ME how even though he tried to conceal a big part of his life from me and lie about the rest of it, he was going to swoop in on his white horse and save me.

I was logged on for all of seven minutes at about 3:32 a.m., and I guess that was enough to ring the fresh meat dinner bell. Immediately I got a few messages, including the usual with no punctuation: “Hi”, “Hi how are you” “Hi” “hi” “hi how you” and then one saying, “Wow! You are gorgeous! Do you want my phone number?”

I can’t handle the bullshit yet. The littlest nope:
LittlestNope

Pay The Toll To The Troll. The Price? Your Soul.

I don’t have any idea how often this happens, or who determines it, but supposedly, Mercury was in retrograde as of Thursday this week. Why don’t frogs just rain down from the skies and we can all just be done with it? No, the psychic attack is much more stealthy, I think. The back of my neck aches. My gums and mouth burns and everything tastes metallic. I fervently wish that Facebook incorporated a disgusted eye roll emoji in their current six options, up from the original singular thumbs-up option. My inner dialog changes: Get out of my way. Stop kicking my goddamn cane. Your perfume smells like cat piss. I’m not waiting 45 minutes this time before calling in to see if they forgot me again, I’m only waiting 30. I am going to scrub my fucking toilet until it fucking sparkles.

Even before Thursday hit I could feel the earth boiling, and my mood was cooking right along with it. I encountered my first troll on Tuesday night. A friend created a private Facebook group so that (mostly) she and the rest of us could say things that couldn’t be said unfiltered in front of a wider Facebook audience. The creator also uses the page to talk about her new grandchild, so obviously it’s not as restrictive as she originally intended. Anyway, a mutual friend was going through a rough patch with her boyfriend and had already talked about it at a coffee shop reunion the week prior, so when she posted in the group, she was just looking for further confirmation that she wasn’t being too harsh in her judgment; after all, when you are the one in the situation, it’s difficult to be objective. This jackass dude pipes in and starts criticizing her and tells her that she’s probably not communicating correctly or enough with the guy she’s in the relationship with – not at all helpful.

Knowing what I know of my friend, and knowing what I know of the guy she’s dating, I don’t hold back on the troll. First I tell him that she DOES and HAS communicated clearly what her boundaries are and that they have been violated repeatedly. Every point the poster or I bring up, the troll says we’re wrong. Then the troll starts talking about how this always happens to him, that he’s always attacked for having a “different viewpoint from most everyone else.” I told him then that it’s because he’s condescending and he has contradicted everything that the original poster and I have said. He said “No, I haven’t. Tell me where I have. I genuinely want to know.” So instead of turning the post into everything about him, I tell him to go back and read. His reaction is to laugh. Obviously there isn’t anything “genuine” about this jackass. The final straw is when the troll claims that we shouldn’t be “defensive, that he is only being inquisitive.” My response was, “You’re not inquisitive, you’re correcting both ___ and I, so that does not constitute a “different” perspective as if it somehow elevates you, it just makes you repulsive.

But then the owner of the group starts posting paragraphs about how we’re supposed to play nice. Then there’s more posts about how disappointed she is about our behavior and how she wants to shut the group down…but she doesn’t, because other people chime in that despite the fact that I’m a bad apple, the group is a “good idea” and some people claim it’s so great that she should “go global” with it – as if talking behind backs is a new concept. If that’s the case, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell to them. Lots of sand.

Troll #2 happens the next day, when I talk about this conversation. He listens for a few minutes, then bursts in with, “I HATE MEN!” As if I, Chelsea, hate men. I don’t. I do, however, hate men who: Lie, cheat, steal, are alcoholics/addicts, are abusive, are lazy, are filthy, are racist, are bigots, pollute, smoke, chew, are narcissists, and hate animals. I’m sure there’s more to the list, but that covers it for now. By the way, Troll #2 fits into quite a few of these categories. Hey, does someone smell butt hurt?

Troll #3 is on Thursday, the big retrograde day. I am pulled into a discussion about racism and white privilege. The person who tagged me is Native American, and the other person is white (and just happens to be an editor for Bloomberg and fancies himself to be an expert on the world and all experiences, like all white guys). The Native American wanted the privileged white dude to know that every other white person didn’t share his smugness. What it boils down to is that the white guy claims that no matter what, all people suffer, so racism, sexism and bigotry don’t actually exist, and we should just get over it. The examples I gave him – white men kick my cane when I’m in public, but women and just generally people of color don’t kick my cane; or white men shoulder check me – probably doesn’t happen, or if they do, they happen because people are just being shitty to me and it doesn’t have anything to do with privilege. He told me I needed to be friendlier (as in, “You are a woman, so you owe it to me, a privileged white male, to smile at me”), so I told him he needed to stop being a dick.

I’m not sure what the cure is. I don’t know how long this shit storm Mercury started lasts. Mercury is an asshole.

Of Saints and Sinners

I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t use drugs (not even the widely accepted green stuff); however, if I could snort chocolate, I probably would. In fact, I’ve heard that the latest craze is snorting unsweetened cocoa. Yes, it’s a thing. But what I’m referring to is more like my love of M&M’s – relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things.

Last year when 23 & Me was still mired in legalities regarding providing medical results in their gene testing, I had my genes tested because I knew eventually they would either 1) be able to find a way to package the results about the health stuff in a way where it would be understood that it was not actual advice, or 2) we would have raw data forever but it would be a starting point for me to take back to my doctors. So I got in on the action while the price was reduced. Just two months after that, they were able to legally follow the fore-mentioned #1 and also increase their price, but my info was grandfathered in, so it was a great situation for me personally.

This testing confirmed I had the addiction gene. Specifically, the results indicated that I would gain no benefit from developing a drinking habit. (Really, who does?) But certain people are definitely more vulnerable to addiction than others. I know I have that bug. Every once in a while I feel it tugging at my corners; in my 20s I had built up a tolerance to alcohol and it would take a dozen hard liquor drinks for me to perceive a feeling a drunkenness. What else could I become addicted to? Being pursued by men. Lipstick. Perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I’ve managed to curb all of these, either cutting them out completely or limiting them severely. I know their price, either in dollars or with the price of my soul.

I’m bringing up addiction because it has claimed my relationship with The Saint Paul. Addiction brings with it deception, half-truths and deliberate omissions. I’m not inclined to list what his addictions are, but I discovered one of the five on our first date. I warned him early on that if I felt it interfere with our relationship in any way, it would not matter if we were 10 weeks or 10 years in, I would not hesitate to say goodbye.

As our relationship progressed, he tried to push the boundaries of my limits with what I would accept. One weekend I chose to ignore it because I was struggling so much with pain and unhelpful doctors that I needed comfort more than I needed to enforce respect. Later, other addictions became apparent. I started actively watching for evasiveness, because I realized that this was his go-to tactic when he felt cornered. I also completely lost trust in his ability to be my partner; his actions did not match his proclamations to support me, because in reality he always waited for me to take the lead and take care of everything.

This past week we did not spend time together. I rested a lot because the week before we were together every day because of non-stop activities, and then I wrapped up the week by spending time with some long-term friends. I had traded texts with him and asked him what he had done with his time and received no answer. I took this to be a deliberate, cowardly omission, a way to avoid telling me what he had been up to because he knew I wouldn’t like it.

I did not pry or send repeated messages. Instead, I went to the stash of brown bags with handles under my sink and began assembling his belongings from my apartment.

Tonight he confirmed my suspicions – he didn’t answer my question because he was doing something this weekend that he knew I wouldn’t like and broke his vow to me. It was just a formality that I asked him if that was the case. I had already mourned the loss of our relationship Saturday when I was met with radio silence. It was actually the sound of the other shoe dropping.

I encouraged him to seek counseling. I told him that I did not want to be “friends.” It would be far too painful for me to be the asshole handing out the advice that won’t be listened to, even if my advice is sought out and makes sense. I can only hope that his fear doesn’t paralyze him and that he pursues a better life by letting go of his demons.

I Heard The News Today

I woke up this morning to a message that was sent to me around midnight telling me, “I know you were friends with Bart [not his real name]; just wanted to let you know that he died after a confrontation with the police Wednesday morning.”

I wasn’t awake to chat back and forth, so I had to do some searching of news articles when I saw the message. There was actually quite an extensive write-up as well as video clips so I was able to get a complete picture from the law enforcement’s viewpoint of what happened.

The hard part was seeing pictures of his dwelling and recognizing the side of his building. Bart was so proud of everything that he did to fix his place up. I still remember walking through his door and smelling his split pea soup.

Bart and I weren’t close friends; in fact, the person that notified me of his death had known him decades longer than I had and was the reason we had become acquainted. But we had gone to the Renaissance festival as part of a big group, and we always ended up attending the same get-togethers. Bart was friendly and jovial, though he definitely had issues with drinking too much. He also could not control his impulses or anger; this certainly fed into a never-ending cycle of joblessness and financial uncertainty.

From what has been published in the stories online, he got a DUI on Friday night and was sent home in a cab rather than sent to jail. On Saturday night he drove by a deputy and shot him and prompted a manhunt/search. On Wednesday morning the sheriff’s department knocked on his front door and he shot himself.

The county sheriff is proclaiming this man to be an obvious participant in the bigger war on cops. I’m calling bullshit on this. Bart was in an all-out war on his own life.

Did he drink to get drunk? Always. He couldn’t get together with a group without drinking. When you’re middle-aged and you’re drinking every weekend (and I am guessing for him, every day), it’s obviously a problem. He tried his luck with dating, but he was always stuck in his 20’s there too, referring to women as girls and only taking pictures with the pretty random strangers with their boobs propped up, never really being less than insulting. Bart was a smart guy and had loads of certifications and degrees in the tech field, so he should have had no problem with landing well-paying jobs. In fact, when I was laid off, I visited his place and we chatted about our resumes and wages, and I was quite impressed with his in both areas – he could have afforded to buy my house two or three times over with his salary. But Bart had done and said so many crappy things in his workplaces that he had been blackballed in his current state, and finding work out of state was proving to be just as difficult.

The friends who were much closer to him had relayed stories about how in recent years and months, he would suddenly become angry and take off, or disappear for hours. If they were all out of town for a trip and following each other in their cars, Bart would somehow manage to leave the caravan and insist on his own route and get completely lost. He would become belligerent if anyone tried to reason with him.

Not that this means a whole lot, but he and I used to debate his support of Trump as a presidential nominee. Bart definitely had prejudices against people who were anything except white middle-aged American men.

So here is this guy who is doing everything he can to make his own life as terrible as it possibly could be – ruled by alcohol, void of love and understanding, built on a foundation of fear and ignorance. He shot another human being because he wanted to blame someone for something. He shot himself because he saw no other way out of the pit he dug.

I have a hard time thinking about him no longer being on this earth. I saw the destructive behaviors in him, but Bart was mostly friendly towards me – maybe because I didn’t have a long or involved history with him, or because I knew exactly what to expect. I hope that now his soul is finally at peace. I think about this often, especially since death seems to be around me a lot more this year, and I wonder if souls review their lives and their lessons like I think they must. (I hope that Bart can see the humor in me saying that my wish for him is to finally understand why Trump would make a terrible president.)

In fact, I wish I could interview all of the people I knew who crossed over in the past ten months and ask them what they have learned. What were they surprised by? What was the biggest reveal? Was it all worth it, taking on this human body and signing this contract?