We’ve Moved to the Sunny Side!

Dear Present and Future Subscribers,

We’ve moved to a new blog called “Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon”.

Click to go to Lulu’s new website!

Join me at the new site!

Pendulum will remain open for reference on Sunny.  However, some posts will be password protected, since I am going completely public very soon with my personal identity.  If you are interested in having the password, feel free to email me at:  lulu.em.stark@gmail.com

I want to thank everyone for their loyalty, support, and following over the past year.  It is just time for me to move on in a different direction, and I think Sunny can help me do that.  I do hope that you will come and follow over at Sunny for more stories, narratives, blog projects, and information.  It’s been a pleasure to write for you in the past year.  And I appreciate all of you.  Thank you again.

Remember, it’s http://sunnywithachanceofarmageddon.wordpress.com !

 

Sorting It Out

I have always felt like I had a “base mood”, which is the state I’m in. Depressive, hypomanic, stable. I noticed that there was kind of an “atmospheric mood”, which was a wispy, temporary mood state that would come through. I’ve always characterized this as weather.

This emotional weather is just about as predictable as meteorological weather. Forecasts can go out based on current information and predictable outcomes. But, things can change quickly, and suddenly, storms crop up. Unfortunately, they don’t make an emotional barometer. There are no external instruments to sound an alarm on the emotional accuweather forecast.

I considered the weather to be just regular “moods”. I know one thing that is difficult for all people who have bipolar disorder is to draw the line between typical and symptomatic. It becomes a nearly impossible task when a person is actually symptomatic. That’s why it’s considered a disorder.

Over the last three years, I’ve become pretty familiar with episodic behavior. I cannot always identify it straight away. But, eventually, I tease it out. What I encountered in January was genuine symptoms, starting with an ultradian cycle I wasn’t even aware of until I reviewed my logs.

What I started to experience toward the end of that depressive episode was uncharacteristic. I hadn’t experienced those types of symptoms in some time. It didn’t look as if it was a coincidence that my mood chart started jumping at the same time my marriage got thrown on the rocks. And now, two months later, I’ve seem to hit some semblance of a period of stability coinciding with the start of my husband’s admissions and treatment.

He broke the silence. Now, I’m breaking it too.

Criteria 1: Fear of abandonment:
My fear of abandonment isn’t typically characterized, because of the keen awareness of the consequences. My fear is very real. The frantic efforts are a little unusual. It’s not outwardly frantic, because I know that behavior actually drives people away. Instead, I take huge strides to make myself more appealing. That feeds into the destabilization of self-image.

There’s a hidden switch, though. At some point, when I’m overloaded with anxiety, I shut down. I will shut down on a person, and it will be over. It will be difficult for me to feel anything for them until they have been out of my life for awhile, or they take a big leap of faith to me.

This disrupts my ability to make friends. I keep everyone at a distance, because I know that I will drive them away. I know that I am intense and strange. And I know that most people are passing ships in my life.

Criteria 2: Unstable Relationships and intense relationships:
I’ve been in a serious relationship with two different psychopaths, one diagnosed (Avi, the abusive one), and I’m now in a marriage with a man with MI. I always swore that these men found me. I think it was a little bit of both.

But, the catch about my marriage is however intense it is, it is stable. Go outside my romantic relationships. Looking at the intense dysfunction between my parents and me tells the tale.

Those people hurt me. And yet, I still love them. I hate them for everything, but I still vacillate between pandering for their affections and shutting them out. I know that they had their hand in this. And still, I blame it exclusively on myself.

Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance:
I used to dye my hair everytime I had a serious mood shift. When my first ex and I broke up, it shattered my whole world. And I said “F*ck the world.” At that point, I let go of everything. It was at that point in time that I started partying my life away.

That wasn’t me. I was a control freak. I always wanted control of my reality. I wanted control of the direction of my life and was always goal oriented.

My ex, Avi, was the worst agitation. I let him tell me who I was, what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and how I should live my life. I let him victimize me, because he told me I was a victim.

C.S. helped me find my way back to me. The me that I liked and was used to. The me that read, wrote, played music, and enjoyed artistic expression, not mindless video games. He helped me find my way back to goal-orientation and showed me that he could love me. That was the only reason I could even be me. Because that’s what he loved.

Criteria 4: Impulsivity:
After I had experienced sexual assault for the first time, I had come to the conclusion that I was a slut. So, I started to act like a slut by having sex with any man who looked at me sideways. I wanted to convince myself that I was at least good for something.

I have alcoholism. It is mostly controlled now. That’s no secret.

Now, here’s the big secret. I likely have an eating disorder. In times of serious distress, I deny myself food. I don’t deserve to eat. I’m a fatass. No one loves a fatass.

I have pindged and purged. It’s not often. In times of depression and self-depreciating behavior, I will binge to feel good. And then I’ll purge, because I worry about my weight. But worse than that. I’ll purge, because getting rid of that overstuffed feeling feels good. There is no better feeling than an empty belly.

I would excessively spend. But, you can’t spend without money in the bank. As a teen, I used to shoplift. And I got caught and got in the worst trouble of my life with my parents. I get the impulse now and again, but the fear and embarrassment is enough to keep me from doing it.

Criteria 5: Recurrent Suicidal / Self-Injurious Behavior:
Admittedly, as a teen, I was more satisfied with cutting with a steak knife than a razor. A razor was too easy, and the cuts were always thin, sleek, and healed without incident. The serrated knife left jagged cuts that never healed right.

I used to pick at the scabs. I only recently started scraping them with a luffa.

I take scalding showers for two reasons. First, there is the whole germ part. But, secondly, sensitive skin burns easily. Scrub it with a luffa, and it flakes and peels. It hurts so nicely, I can’t think about anything else.

I don’t ever threaten. I warn. Because I know certain stressors will set it off.

I used to attempt suicide. I have probably a dozen serious attempts under my belt. I probably have about a dozen more half-assed attempts where I hoped I’d die of alcohol poisoning. Or, if I let an infection go long enough, I’d cause organ failure. (I almost did that with my kidneys that started as a UTI).

I don’t anymore. It’s pointless. I have never come close to succeeding. And I’m convinced that there is a reason for that. Besides, I’m not so cruel as to leave my husband and son like that. Not now. My son is old enough to remember me. My husband might actually go down with me, although he’s never indicated as much.

Criteria 6: Affective Instability
Rage. I’m almost always irritable. I’ve always thought that irritability and reactivity were hallmarks of bipolar disorder. I was wrong.

I have bouts of intense anxiety. Especially when I feel like I’m not in control. It is expressed in OCD-like symptoms when it goes critical. I start hoarding. Or purging items. I check constantly. I do mental checks. I fear contamination.

Dysphoric moods. It’s always been suicidal ideation in the past. It’s only recently that I’ve had homicidal ideation, and it’s enough to scare me. But, I don’t imagine harming loved ones. No, I imagine harming people who are a perceived threat to my family and me.

That emotional weather, that was affective instability. When it produces serious storms, it becomes separate from bipolar disorder completely. Layered moods.

Criteria 7: Chronic Feelings of Emptiness:
Curiously, I don’t have the typical definition of this. Most of the time, I feel too full. I’m full of emotion, turmoil, life. I’m bursting at the seams.

But, if you examine the criteria a little closer, it can be characterized by never feeling good enough. I’m bad. I have never achieved anything noteworthy. No one really loves me. I feel as if I am worthless, rather than empty.

Criteria 8: Inappropriate Anger / Difficulty Controlling Anger
Sometimes, yes. I have a temper. I try to be careful at expressing this anger. It’s usually restricted to times when I am alone. I scream. I break things.

I don’t want to scare my family. I don’t want the shame and guilt I would suffer from such impulsive, inappropriate behavior. I don’t want anyone to leave me, because they fear me. I try so hard to practice restraint. I’m not always very successful.

Criteria 9: Transient, Stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions, or severe dissociation symptoms
This was the key to finally prove the potential for BPD to me. I’ve always had delusions. I’ve always had the berating voice. But, my paranoia has always turned out to be justified in the end.

When C.S. and I were very rocky, I was convinced that a man, who I would never otherwise suspect, was cheating on me. The voice separated into a an auditory hallucination, free of any rational mind, feeding me horrible things. I had my first real break from reality.

But, it was in fits that never lasted longer than a few hours to maybe a few days. And it could be broken by immediate distraction.

I’m nowhere near as volatile as I used to be. Medication has tamed my symptoms, and nearly domesticated me. There are a lot of behaviors that I don’t engage in anymore.

But, I am a far cry from ridding myself of all of them. And if I keep going on this course of alienating people, disabling my supports, and self-sabatoging, I’m going to end up in a very bad place.

So, I made an impulsive move yesterday morning. Finally, a good one. I called and made an appointment to start meeting with a qualified professional with an objective eye. I could’ve gotten in today, but my hours are restricted right now due to work.

So, next Thursday. In one week, I will take my first baby steps back into the world of therapy. Honestly, I don’t have high hopes. Thankfully, I have a number of therapists to choose from. And if it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it a try.

I want to keep trying and not get discouraged. But, I’m so picky about my professionals. I know there has to be some hope for recovery.

For Now, Not Farewell

First, and foremost, I wanted to let all of my wonderful blogging friends know that I am alright.  The gaps between posts keep getting larger, and I worry that others are worrying.  I will make you a promise now that if something serious happens and there is a critical situation, I will not hesitate to inform everyone.

There are a lot of things that are happening in my life right now.  Many personal matters need attending to.  I’m probably getting laid off in three weeks, although my boss doesn’t seem like she wants to drop that bomb on me.  Personally, I find that incredibly irresponsible.  I could have been looking for other work.  Well, in any usual situation.

Still, it creates a serious blow to my self-esteem at a time when it is not well received.  I know everyone has been passed over for a job and has suffered layoffs before.  It’s really unpleasant, to say the least about it.  Then, there’s entire summer, twelve weeks ahead of me, where I have to sit on my hands and wonder if I’m getting recalled for the school year.  Something tells me that I’m not.

There are an increased number of incidents that have been happening on my watch.  I see my faults and flaws as a teacher, though I have little help on my end establishing my role and developing my skills.  I feel as if I am not well accepted or even really respected at my job. I feel undervalued and underutilized.  Each project I have suggested has been shot down.  And, each time I volunteer for something, I am assured that my assistance is not needed.

I realize this could be the ever present paranoia that has been occurring where I get this idea that I am being persecuted in my life (including at my job).  This includes ideas what someone / something is out to get me.  Or, it could be the subconscious vibes I get from others.  My immediate employees that are on the outer circle of the program seem to be unaware.

However, those on the internal circle are treating me as if I am a ghost.  They mumble a sort of hello as I walk by, hardly acknowledging my presence.  No one is keen on engaging me in conversation.  And those that are my higher-ups have taken to lambasting me at every chance they get for things that aren’t entirely my doing.

I’ve always kept Xanax on my person at all times, in case I encounter a situation that flares the anxiety.  Typically, this is an unexpectedly crowded area.  Lately, Xanax has become part of my diet.  I can’t fathom the idea of going back there.  And I tick the days off of my calendar.  Twenty-two left before I am unemployed.  Twenty-two left before leaving my house becomes optional.

(I’m exhausted this morning and not very inspired.  Please forgive the bland post.)

I had told my husband at one point, “I feel as if there are many things that have gone neglected in my personal life, especially my home life that other things are interfering with.  Maybe it’s for the best.”  I believe that there is a rhyme and a reason to everything, whether it is God or just the pattern of the universe.  Choose whichever suits you.

My husband agreed.  I’ve mentioned that he needs tended to more now than ever.  I’m not the only one who thinks so.  His best friend has been sending check-in messages, noting that C.S. “hasn’t been himself for awhile.” I am very focused on keeping my resolve so that I can be a part of his treatment.  It’s difficult.  He has always been my rock, the stable touchstone that I could rely on to keep me in check.  Now, it seems, the tables have turned.

Six more days until the appointment.  I’m checking the days off of my calendar, holding onto the wild ride as hard as I can to get us there.

Then, there is the matter of my son.  Though he has made significant gains without therapy in the last six months, he still requires it.  He still remains behind his peer group in terms of speaking and social interaction.  And because of everything that has happened with his parents in the last six months, I have been unable to navigate the labyrinth of services.

That is something that takes a lot of time.  I recall from the first time we had to go through this.  There were a lot of evaluations in places that were at least a half an hour’s drive from here.  Even the ones in home took an hour at the least.  There were meetings with counselors, social workers, specialists, and all manner of people.  It took a great deal of time, effort, focus, and all of the things I’m sorely lacking in my position right now.

My lack of initiative makes me feel like a bad parent.  It makes me feel as if I’ve robbed him of crucial developmental time.  My self-absorption in my illness makes me feel as if I have precipitated and then ignored serious signs and symptoms in my husband.  I find that I am destabilizing to the point where I don’t want to return to work.  And the paranoia and the anxiety it produces when I think of all of this are too much to handle.

I’ve determined that I need a break.  Please, don’t take this as I am self-isolating.  I have been feeling this way for months now, starting in my depressive state.  I wasn’t sure if it was the trickery of depression, or if it was a genuine need to crawl inside my shell for solace.  My emotional reserves are tapped, and I’m really running on empty.  My support system is crumbling, and I feel like I can’t run my life anymore.

I have even made the consideration to file for disability.  Making the admission that I might not be of sound mind enough to work with any stability is very difficult for me.  It’s difficult to think that I am having such a hard time managing my personal life.  I do understand that things are unusual in the way of stress and function (or lack thereof).  However, I seem to think that others who aren’t quite as affected may stand a better chance against life’s little upheavals.

For myself, to collect my own emotional fortitude, and to prioritize what little there is left to go around, I must limit my writing.  This is so that I may stabilize my personal life, and have reflections that may be useful to those in my immediate vicinity.  I would like to focus primarily on my personal journal at the moment, in order to keep a solid documentation of what is going on, free of any flare or censorship (yes, sadly, there is a little that happens here).

I adore each and every one of you.  I am always available via email at tallulahlulustark@gmail.com  If you’d like to touch base with me, or just need to talk about something, I am always available and always willing.

Just for now.  This is not a farewell.

Theories on the Development of Disorder

When something, an emotion, an urge, an impulse, is so severely suppressed that a person becomes oppressed, we can often observe extreme opposite reactions. This is consistent with the laws of physics and the universe, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Except, one thing. I believe when it comes to emotions and behaviors, the opposing reaction is more like equal plus. The plus being an x-value holding place for a value with the meaning “a little more.” Determining that exact value in numerical terms may be difficult, since there is no numerical value for emotions.

It basically conveys the message that the situation perpetuates itself. Any potential absence of behavior or action can still be perceived as a positive value. Inaction can still be considered an action in this case, because there isn’t really such a thing as a complete absence of behavior.

This is potentially a huge factor in mental illness. Obviously, we are aware of the psychological damage abuse and neglect in childhood can cause, even throughout adulthood. It is thought to manifest in anxiety disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. However, that does not account for people who did not experience what is typically considered childhood trauma.

Even as adults, we are susceptible to psychological damage. This is a fact that is well established through research involving war veteran and victims of sexual assault. However, we only consider extreme forms of trauma as something qualifies as such. Such is also true of childhood trauma.

Other qualifying trauma often happens over a period of time, and goes consciously unrecognized. This does not mean that it is also subconsciously unrecognized as well. In fact, the subconscious is likely keenly aware, but unable to translate to the conscious mind.

Once the conscious mind becomes aware that there is something amiss, the traumatizing behavior seems commonplace. The person has likely become desensitized to what was once a subtle, but generally constant external stressor. By then, it becomes internalized and often mistaken as an internal stressor.

Those are the seeds for maladaptive behaviors in both children and adults. At this point, unhealthy coping mechanisms have already been adopted as part of a person’s behavioral repertoire. This is directly the result of an extreme reaction to the accumulation of what may be considered subtle long term stressor(s).

The maladaptive behaviors are recognized as such, and perpetuate trauma through mistreatment of oneself. It can be behaviorally observed by an unusual response to certain unpleasant stimuli. Unfortunately, the subject is often unaware that their responses are abnormal. By the time it is either pointed out or realized by oneself, the original cause is well buried under layers of self-abuse / neglect.

The result of this is much larger than anxiety disorders. It reaches out to grab behaviors typical of a variety of psychological disorders. Behavior repertoires are often observed in personality disorders and mood disorders. it would stand to reason this is true, due to the nature of long-term external stressors, particularly subtle abuse and neglect.

The Woman Who Played With Matches

Tuesday was a big day. The Blackberry – now dubbed BB4, because I’ve determined I’ve doomed any inanimate (and potentially animate) object I name, arrived. And I struggled at every step getting the damn information transferred.

A compulsion dragged me into two different pharmacies in town, in search of a replacement Sharpie pen. I obsessed about it. I couldn’t continue writing in my journal without it. The writing wouldn’t look right. I saw the hideous tag of $9 and change for two. And I decided that day that my sanity had a price.

I continued with my regression therapy experiment by listening to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. The album as a whole. Still nothing but lyrics. I can’t ever remember where I put my phone and my cigarettes. But, I’ll never forget a single lyric from any of those 14 songs.

All day, obsessions. These obsessive, intrusive thoughts snagged and snapped at me.

You lose everything remotely important. Check your bag for your pens. Your cigarettes. Your phone. Check again and make sure you see it. Did you put it back in there? Check again.

The world whizzed by me. And the music blared:

“Need you.

Dream you.

Find you.

Taste you.

Fuck you.

Use you.

Scar you.

Break you.”

Eraser

C L I C K .

– – – – –
“Fine-ally!” I seriously thought my bladder was going to literally burst inside of me. I pulled myself to sitting on the beige bench seat, all the way in the back. My heavy sandal fell off of my foot and landed directly on my copy of The Downward Spiral. I plummeted at freefall speeds. And upon impact, BANG! I was fiercely sobbing, van door open to a busy, boiling hot highway.

I rustled myself out of that van, and into that rest stop. I lit up a cigarette in a stall (back when you could smoke almost everywhere), and continued to sob.

“What the hell are you causing so much fuss about?” I heard from the stall next to me, “Me and your dad will buy you a new one when we get there.”
– – – – –

My father wouldn’t let me have anything that held any value. I didn’t even carry a wallet until I was 18. I didn’t carry a purse until I was 21. Why have these things without valuables. He insisted that I’d lose it.

When I did lose something, I’d never hear the end of it. Things I’ve come to realize can be easily replaced. A pen. A hat. The trouble is that these things never were replaced. If I lost something, and I loved it, it was gone forever.

Gone forever.

“Everyone I know, goes away, in the end.” Trent purred.

I was eager to get the key into the lock. I couldn’t remember the last time I had to go so urgently. I threw my bags on the sofa as I rushed through. I shedded my coat onto a kitchen chair and turned the corner to the bathroom. I walked up to the toilet and –

The seat was up.

Why was the seat up? I was the last one in the house.

A cloud descended upon me. A dark, nasty, vile cloud filled my head with heavy, smokey noise. It seemed a man had been in my house. And seeing as how only two men have a key to this house, and know the odd work hours I keep, that narrowed it down.

I take my father at his word. The man doesn’t lie. He would just avoid the subject.

That knocks it down to one.

“Confront him.”

“Wait! Don’t! Confronting a potential liar gets you nothing but more lies. Provoke him into exposing himself.”

I fired off a text, “Someone is busted.”

Normally, there is a lag time between fifteen minutes to three hours between texts. “I’m just so busy with everything going on! I’ll go to text you back and something will come up.”

More excuses. I don’t expect to take precedence every day. Just one day would be enough.

Immediately, a call shot to my cell. I nonchalantly answered the phone. At first, he carefully poked around. “Who? What do you mean? What happened?”

We didn’t speak while he was coming home. Unusual. He was only quiet when he was either alienating someone or plotting. I had him cornered.

When he arrived home, he put on a great show. He anxiously scoured the house looking for clues. In paranoia, he wedged himself between the fridge and the wall to boost himself above the drop ceiling. It was quite the farce.

He made a mistake. My husband, a man who is not guilty of anything and deeply crippled by anxiety, would not have given up so easily.

He was chipper when asking, “Would you like to take a walk over to the store for freezer pizza?”

I was bitter and suspicious. He hadn’t regarded me in that way in nearly a month. Each revision of behaviors became more noticeable. He eagerly set up the stroller. He made a pass of the exterior of the house for good measure. Only a pass. It was anything but thorough.

“So who do you think it could have been?” he uneasily questioned me.

Fishing.

“Anyone.”

“Like who.”

“Everyone and anyone who could gain access to our house. Whether it be by force or key.”

Some more silence.

He rattled off a few very unlikely people. Forced. Any shift away from focusing on him. The insinuation was nowhere near vague. If there was something to hide, I’d find out. I made that unmistakably clear.

He trotted through the store. Suddenly, necessary items considered to be superfluous became important. I begged him for toothpaste when I had thrush. I knew it would clear faster. But, though we had just gotten paid, there was no money available.

He was overly enthusiastic about everything. At one point, he went to the Digiorno pizzas, and exclaimed what a great price they were. I had done so three months ago, and was shot down, claims they were still “too expensive'”, and returned to the same nasty, three, overcooked Tombstones.

Fake. Appeasing me. Buying my distractions.

I glared as he rushed through our taxes without complaint. We have never done our taxes so late. Never down to the wire like this.

Irresponsible. Careless. Uncharacteristic.

I fished through his cell phone for clues. He’s clever. He would have erased any tracks. He’s too paranoid to let anything revealing slip.

I have my reasons.

More Than Ten Years : 30 Days of Truth

Part II

Day 10 (Part Three) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.

Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.

Liz and the In Between, focused on my relationship with Liz.  It detailed all of the significant events within our friendship, and how it had turned ugly at times.  These were the years in between the first entry and this one.


Kat and I eventually buried the hatchet about five years later. We were both adults who had done a great deal of growing since. We did attempt reconciliation, but mutually decided that we were too different to have a friendship. We grew out of each other. That’s life.

It took Lea and I much longer.

I recall a Fourth of July party I was invited to many years after the incident. A mutual friend of many years invited me, and his sister, best friend to Lea, naturally invited her.

Before I knew it, only a large patio table separated us. We inspected each other, sizing one another up. She still had the same snow white skin, but now she donned raven hair in place of her usual highlight job. Also, she had become much larger than me, at least fifty pounds or more. It was a little more intimidating, but I didn’t care. I’d tussled with men twice my size.

I don’t know what she saw, but she looked fairly intimidated.  I was that same, fiery haired, piercing eyes girl she had known then.  I hadn’t aged yet, though many of the girls at that table already had.  The only differences were these.  I wasn’t staring her down behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses.  I was 1/3 less than girl I was.  And, we were no longer surrounded by brick and mortar that was the all-seeing, all-knowing, completely crooked system that was our public school.

Yes, we were in the real world. Where there were real consequences to actions. If one of us did one thing out of turn, we’d face something that didn’t include losing two perfectly good school days to absolute intense boredom of a desk with blinders, essentially.

So, we were deadlocked, powerless to make each others’ lives hell. We were adults, not children thrust together in the same place at the same time. We had the freedom of escape, to be free from the tangled web of the high school social society. As much trash as we could talk, it didn’t matter. Too much space and too few connections let those words fall on indifferent, rather deaf ears.

So, it dissipated throughout years of silence. I was already married with a child. We were truly adults, lives so far separated from those emotions and the petty grudges generated from them. What did it matter anymore? Through the power of Facebook, we put it to rest through humor over the incident.


Liz and I had settled old scores. That was, until I started getting serious with C.S. I remember driving around our neighborhood, the one we grew up in, yelling at each other. I wasn’t making time for her at her demand.

“I’m engaged to a man who is really good for me, who really loves me. Can’t you even be happy for me?”

She retorted coldly, “You’ve been engaged so many times, I can’t even take you seriously anymore.”

There was no birthday reconciliation that year. Months droned on. It seemed to be over, and I was distraught, but infuriated. How dare she judge my relationship?!

I invited her to the wedding as an obligatory gesture. I knew she’d never attend. She should have been a bridesmaid, and yet, she would have rather carry on a grudge over my priorities changing.

Mid-summer, mid-pregnancy, I received a card in a letter in the mail. It contained a wedding gift and a phone number. I hesitated, but mustered up the courage to accept the olive branch. I announced my pregnancy. A boy. He even had a name.

She came to visit, and it was the first time I saw her in about a year. She seemed overjoyed, but deeply troubled. Liz, Liz, always something brewing under the surface.

She came the day after I had my son. Later in the week, she brought us dinner, on the house. And that was the last time I saw her face to face. It was almost three and a half years ago.

In that time, her relationship with Fox deteriorated.  There was always some contingency on him leaving his wife.  When you graduate college.  When you get a good job.  When…

They were fiercely fighting, and rarely seeing each other anymore.  They had opposing schedules, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Fox to steal time away from his wife.  One day, he left his email open on his laptop, sitting on her kitchen table.  She flipped through it, and discovered a few very old, very intimate exchanges between Fox an I on the MUD.

We talked.  “I know it was years ago, but why would he even save this?” she ranted.

Time passed, things changed.  That was pretty much the end of their relationship.  Well, that, and when she got a confirmation that he and his wife just got a new lease on their house. It wasn’t my fault.  She jumped into bed with their mutual married boss and ditched Fox.

I’ve actually searched and searched for the goodbye letter I wrote her in one of my journals.  I’m thinking our biggest falling out was in 2010.  Liz was always one of those people who insisted that she came first.  She randomly called and announced that she was back in town.  She wanted for me and her to go out.  I explained to her that a person couldn’t just drop by on me.  I have obligations to my family, plans that I’ve made, and things that just need done.  She was furious, insisting that I never made time for her.  All of these years, she made time for me, and the least I could do was see her during the few days in the year that she was in town.

Finally, I fought back.

“In all of this time, I listened to you prattle for hours about a miserable relationship with a married man, the same one that I urged you not to turn your life upside down for.  You defiled his marriage, and he still didn’t leave his wife for you.  Then, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jumped into bed with his married boss, your boss too. 

Meanwhile, I am being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my marriage – to a man who fathered my son, is falling apart, and my son is showing signs of developmental delay.  The moment I tried to open up my mouth to share my troubles, was always the moment you had to go.  I’m tired of being on standby and being expected to be here at your beckon.  I’m tired of you leading me around by the nose.  So, if you’re going to get pissed off and walk out of my life, it better be for good this time.  Because I’m not taking you back.”

We didn’t speak for about a year or so.  That was, until a random birthday card for my son appeared in the mail, containing a gift card.  I let it sit in my nightstand for a month, pondering what I should do with it.  And finally, I broke down and emailed her.

Back to the status that rubbed me the wrong way. Lea is pregnant, after several years of marriage. And Liz, who I haven’t heard a word from in at least six months, made a comment. “I’ll definitely be there! I’m so excited to see you!” I know she’ll be in town; she lives far away. And I also know that she won’t make any attempt to stop by, or even contact me.

I invited her, holiday after holiday, to stop by the house.  She always said she’d try, but there was so much going on.  I never did see her, not once.

I stumbled upon what may be one of the most heartbreaking revelations I’ve ever had. Liz and I were never friends. We were frienemies. Not from my end, but from hers.

I was a pace car. I was not a concept to admire, but envy. When I actually married the man she truly desired, and had the family she secretly longed for, I had unknowingly won. She couldn’t come around, because she couldn’t bear the sight of it.  I had become her superior in every way, and that is a fact she can never reconcile, nor bring to the surface. It’s too juvenile. But wasn’t all of it?

Clearly, she’s not an active part of my life. Her absence has not made a bit of difference. In a way, I wish I could have ignored that birthday card. She would simply no longer exist, and I could retain all of our funny, powerful, intimate, and warm moments. Instead, I am in some friend limbo.

So, instead, I think I’m going to start hiding both Lea and Liz’s feeds. I don’t need it. Sometimes a friendship is beyond salvageable. The remnants are too few. I don’t want to remain friends for nostalgia’s sake. I am not a keepsake. I am a human. If we really remained friends, wouldn’t she at least message me from time to time.

I place this in the sea and wave goodbye. For the last time.

Lea and Liz : 30 Days of Truth

(Originally dated January 31, 2012)

Day 10: Someone you need to let go of or wish you didn’t know.

Originally, I read this prompt and blanked. It wasn’t until I read Gypsy’s Day 10 Post that I came to this realization.

Facebook is toxic. Cosmo did an article in the December issue about a study revealing just that. That article confirmed certain suspicions, so I started taking statuses with a grain of salt. Yeah, I bet you’re happy about your drunken single life in your late 20’s, since you brag about it so much.

But, a couple of nights ago, a status rubbed me the wrong way.

Bear with me. This gets a little complicated.

I had a huge group of best friends in middle school. One by one, they dropped off for various petty reasons. Kat and I were inseparable. Until a boy came between us. Of course, that left a huge schism between them and me. Lea took on the grudge personally. But, Liz stayed neutral.

Kat pretended like I didn’t exist. Lea campaigned for my social public execution, setting up shop right across the hall from me, and Liz ghosted between.

For thirteen years, we are encased in hallways and lockers

Eventually, Kat and Lea started dating brothers, one who I dated years ago (of course, that was Lea’s boyfriend). I had my first public scrap happened with Lea in that very hallway.

Moe and I were still really good friends. Of course we were! I was the only one who stood by him and spent countless hours on the phone with him when he was in the hospital for chemo treatment. I stayed with him, even though I knew that it was incredibly possible that he could die. But, it was too late to turn back then.

We walked through the hall talking, cutting up as usual. As he met her in the hallway, I passed him and said to him, ignoring her, “Later whore!” A whole fourty-one minutes passed, and my head was filled with Biology before 10AM. I walked down the stairs and met with my gay guy friend to head to the music wing. Lea passed me and snarled, “Fuck you, you white trash slutbag. You’ll regret fucking with me.”

It was only audible to the immediate vicinity, all music kids. I flew, screaming after her, “Are you threatening me, you fat fucking bitch!?”

“What if I am?” she turned and sneered, “What are you going to do about it? Cry and cut yourself?” She continued walking, headed up the stairs.

I lunged at her, screaming, “Get your prissy fat ass back here! I will pull you by your scraggly bleached hair down these stairs and stomp your fucking face in!”

Check had already grabbed me, and held me in a full nelson as I raged at her. A teacher from the third floor came down at that point and lambasted me without even asking what happened. I spouted off, “Fuck you too, Pistol Pete.” And Check had to drag me away. We were unbelievably late and it was still a walk to the music wing.

I told him, “Go in before me. I don’t want you getting mixed up in this.” I stood outside the room for a couple of minutes, listening to the melodies and harmonies of warm-ups bounce off of the tiled halls and wooden doors.

Calmly, I walked in. I turned the corner, and the whole room rose to applaud me! I was beyond shocked, and no words could come. I expected a slow, painful, icy death by silence. Instead, I was congratulated for my absolutely outrageous outburst! By everyone except Liz, who gave me this disgusted and pained look.

It was no surprise when I was called to the principals office by noon. She was coming out as I was headed in. Lea glared and mouthed, “Fuck you, whore,” as we passed one another. I growled under my breath. If we weren’t surrounded by a room full of elderly secretaries, I would’ve jumped on her and ripped her face off.

I sat across the desk from the principal in her little interrogation room. This wasn’t the first time. Hell, it wasn’t even the first time in that school year! But, I had never been in there for fighting. I knew protocol for a search. “Let’s dump your bookbag here, and we’ll have the constable walk you to your locker to watch you dump that all over the hall.” But I didn’t care. I was actually pretty satisfied with myself.

“So Em, would you like to tell me what happened between you and Lea?”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“Why should I? Lea already told you what you’ll believe anyway. I won’t waste our time.”

“Fine.”

And that was it. No, “I want to hear your side.” What was there to say in my defense? The tattletale always wins. And I already had a record.

I knew only hell awaited me at home. It always did after there was an incident at school. Going home and facing the wrath of my parents was worse than any punishment they could deal me at school.

My mother’s head was poking out to look down the street as I approached. I considered turning and running. No, that would make it worse. Then she’d send my father after me, who would literally drag me kicking and screaming back up the street.

Fighting had been the worst offense I had ever committed. And the worst part is that I didn’t even actually hit her. I only threatened it, while verbally assaulting her in front of about half of the student body.

“So, the principal called today,” my mother announced in front of my father. She must have meant business. Usually, she at least attempted to break the news gently to my father.

“Yep, what did you talk about?” I asked candidly.

“You tell me.”

Shit.

I sighed, and recounted the tale, uncensored, complete with swears and acts.

There was a long pause. I wondered how long it was going to take before she slapped me in the face for using that language, berated me for embarrassing the whole family, and let my father actually kill me. Dad stood in the background and just started clapping. My mother smiled. Was this some sort of sick torture? Get on with it!

“We are so proud of you!” she exclaimed.

“She got what was comin’ to her,” he noted.

I was so confused that I was terrified that I had actually lost my mind. “What?”

My mother explained, “That girl has been torturing you for three years now. I’ve wanted to kick her ass myself. And you finally stood up to her.”

“I don’t care what that idiot principal has to say. You did right today,” my father confirmed.

“Next time be a little more subtle and don’t get caught,” my mother mentioned.

“You’re serious?” I questioned. She nodded.

I almost died. If I was caught smoking, I’d get grounded for a month. If I was admittedly fighting, I’d get rewarded? What the hell kind of backwards world was this?

After that, it returned to the cold war. The lines had clearly been drawn, with a no-man’s-land in between. Moe made his decision – all men led around by their second head. Kat had already made hers. But Liz still had to chutzpah to traverse the DMZ.

It wasn’t until Moe and Lea had broken up that more lines were drawn. Lea thought it was insensitive that Kat was still dating Moe’s brother. Kat wasn’t about to give up a good relationship because her friend was too petty to get over it. And it was over in less than a summer.

Lea League, Club Kat, and Team Em. And somewhere where those borders met, Liz sat and slowly seethed.

To be continued. . .