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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shattered Life - part III

Meniere's disease is a terrible fate to apply to anyone.
It's not fully understood but what it can do to people is. People who suffer from it have intense, disabling bouts of vertigo. It can limit their life and, at times, prevent them from even being able to tolerate being conscious. It can also evaporate into nothing for long periods of time. Conjecture around Van Gogh's mental illness issues exists and some of the experts believe that Meniere's was at the root of his inability to cope with the world.

My lady had most of the symptoms of this dreadful disease. Long before I met her the intense bouts of disabling vertigo and dizziness trashed her career path and diverted her from achieving a big-name disk-jockey role and pushed her into the periphery. After the initial flare up her ability to function returned but with great levels of hesitation. The bouts of dizziness would come and go and the anxiety over when she might have one permeating her very being. She could not hold a regular job because the dizziness could come at any moment and destroy her ability to be at work through forcing her to the floor in a fit of disorientation.
This, of course, led her to pursue the necessary knowledge to steal the web development business from one of her previous boyfriends; she needed that job to survive.

During the course of our relationship this disease prevented us from doing many things. Some of them were things she had planned and a bout of dizziness destroyed her ability, or her confidence, to go out and have a good time. Sometimes I found myself wondering if this was a crutch for her to rely on if she really did not want to go to do something she did not want to do. Other times, though,  it was obvious that she couldn't partake. While she did a great deal of compensation for her concerns there were distinct times that she simply could not truly function. She could fake it and having a trustworthy person at her side made it seem that she was able to function but the reality was that she was a wreck on the inside. I respected this and I did my best to provide her with the support that she needed to make it through those times. This process changed, though, when it came to things I wanted to do; places I wanted to go; people I wanted to see. When it was something that I was planning it was almost certain that she would have a bout of the dizzies that would prevent it. On many occasions she proclaimed that I should go without her because it was important to me but I learned, early on, that this was a trap. If I took the offer to leave I was abandoning her and I would pay for it dearly later on. Thus, she was able to turn her disability into a leverage point to retain tight control over me for the entire time we were together. I did not dare go do the things I wished to do for fear of getting in trouble and I dared not speak up to outline my concerns because the situation could be twisted to make me look terrible for not supporting her when she needed it most. I was trapped and she knew it; and she used that to her advantage.
This was used to force me to miss a movie I wanted to see. This was used to make holiday arrangements difficult. This was used as leverage in planning the wedding. This was used in a great many ways to facilitate her getting what she wanted and preventing me from getting what she did not want me to have.
Even now I'm not sure she understood, on a conscious level, that she was playing this manipulation; but, rather, I suspect she was doing it at a slightly subconscious level. I believe that her subconscious would manifest the necessary symptoms that her conscious mind would use to force the situation.

Immediately preceding me in the chain of men that have moved through her life was a man named Todd.
Todd was not a good guy. Todd had boxes and boxes of horror novels and a personality that belonged in one (this was validated by sources other than my lady; although she was the first to outline it).
The two of them created a domestic dispute that resulting in police intervention and Todd being arrested (years later I discovered that she, too, had been arrested but she hid this from me).
The incident, and overall behavioral patterns led to a temporary restraining order being filed against Todd.
The process of temporary restraining orders is interesting. Anyone can file one against anyone at any time for absolutely no reason. The order is upheld until a court date is appointed to conduct a hearing on whether the order should be permanently enacted or dropped completely.
I met my lady in the intervening space between the issuance of the temporary order and the court date. She had told me about the situation and the court date so I knew it was approaching. I saw her anxiety grow as it approached.
I offered to take the day of the court date off on multiple occasions so I could be there for her and, each time, she declined and assured me that it was ok; she had it under control.
The date came closer and she got more and more anxious about the situation.
My memory informs me that the date itself fell on a Monday and the logical flow of the situation clearly makes that likely. I awoke on the day of the court hearing in her apartment, 3 hours from my office, to her asking me to stay. I called in to work and let them know I could not make it and I stayed. I stayed with her until it was time to go to the hearing at which point she told me to not go with her.

The short summary of the story is that I took a day off without notice to work, ended up being spoken to over it, to accompany her to a hearing which she, at the last minute, refused to let me attend.

In retrospect I believe that the hearing would have uncovered her arrest and her violent behavior of the evening in question and that is why she refused to let me go; for fear of losing me over it.

Every year I have a birthday. Another birthday that will quietly slipped into oblivion with minimal fuss and recognition from those whom I care most about. It passed almost the optimal way to my liking.
A bit more than a decade ago my birthday was not this.
HER birthday is supposed to be a big deal and she expects lavish gifts and social gatherings. HER birthday, which is in April, experienced this.
She refused to accept that, when I outlined my dislike of being the center of attention, that I meant it. I did not want to have a big deal of my birthday and, most especially, I did not want a surprise party.

As my birthday approached I could tell something was up. Things were just "off" in a way I could not specifically identify. I suspected that she was, against my wishes, arranging a surprise party for me. As far as I was concerned this was clearly confirmed when my brother phoned me to invite me to an afternoon showing of a movie that neither of us really cared about but which was the best option currently in theatres.
The night before she sat me down to confess. He confession started with an inquiry of "do you really mean it?" in reference to my dislike of being the center of attention and large birthday celebrations. I outlined that I did, in fact, mean it very much. She was surprised when I outlined that I knew exactly what she was planning and that there was no surprise. She offered to cancel it but I declined. At this point the party was for others and not for me.

As surprise parties go mine was not that bad. I did not feel too terribly uncomfortable.
But the principle matters. I had outlined for months that this is NOT what I liked and she did it anyway because it is what SHE liked.

Before we moved in together she had an apartment. It was a two bedroom apartment, one of whose bedrooms was turned into her home office. The home office had two desks.
Her previous boyfriend was a terrible, terrible person.... but that is another story. When they broke up many things were abandoned in her apartment, mostly books but some video games. Among them was Diablo II.
Diablo II is a point and click game. That is, pretty much, the ENTIRE game. There is a LOT of clicking.
One day when I was visiting she had to work. She wanted me in the room with her so she had me settle in to the other desk to play on my computer. I was playing Diablo II until she started screaming at me about the clicking.
I was moved to the living room where the clicking still bothered her.
I ended up watching a movie or reading - at this point I cannot recall.

In addition to the business she ran from home she was also an on-air DJ. I'm sure you've heard what is called a "bumper" on the air. Radio stations often get celebrities to record them when they have an interview and some stations also make them from listeners to help engage the audience and increase their station loyalty.
Her station had a bank of bumpers and she wanted me to record one. I made an attempt but it did not have enough excitement for her so I tried to show more excitement. After many attempts, none of which was good enough for her, she surrendered to the reality that creating a great "bumper" is not something I am good for.

And then put a barb on the end of her disappointment by highlighting how simple a task it is and how, if I really loved her, I would have been able to figure it out.

This, like everything else in the shattered life tale, should have been a red flag that was waiving bright and clear in front of my eyes.

The above anecdote of the "bumper" may, or may not, be the first chronological instance of the "prove you love me" game. But it was certainly not the last.

This is a game where no one wins and it is the signature of mental disorders that can be very dangerous. The proofs start small and escalate until the person burdened with the tasks encounters one they are unable to complete and then, the burdener, temporarily loses their grasp on their sanity because they feel unloved.

A typical progression will be something as simple as "if you love me you'll get me a glass of water" through an increasing set of steps until it is something like "if you love me you'll stop talking to everyone you've ever known because I am all you need." If ever you encounter someone who says "if you love me you'll do it" then you need to be VERY wary of them.

Oh, yes, there's more.....