Friday, October 03, 2003

@$#&%!!! (or, Anger Management, Part II) 

I don't think it's healthy to get homocidally angry at your SO. And yet here I am, entertaining a nice little fantasy of strangling him and watching his eyes pop out of their sockets.

I didn't intend to write about this tonight. What I was going to write about had to do with infidelity, and how I think the nicest thing about being with an autistic man is that I don't have to worry much that he'll cheat on me. I'll write about that later. Right now, I'm simply too pissed off to do so.

"We clash far too often and far too hard to ever be relationshippy." This is a quote from a particular ex of mine, but it's becoming more and more true of my current relationship.

You know how most of my relationships ended? I dumped the person when it got to the point where everything they did pissed me off. Which brings up another quote that's altogether too true -- "The one constant in all of your bad relationships is you."

I have an anger problem. I fly off the handle far too easily and with excessive force. I do not believe it is possible for me to peacefully coexist with another human being, unless I don't care about them at all. I am broken, and I need to be fixed.

Today was just one dramafest after another. In the end, just half an hour ago (twenty hours after it all started), I decided to log off of the computer rather than continue talking to my fiance. This is because putting my fist through the nearest wall, door, window, or face started to sound incredibly appealing. That's a definite warning sign that I've lost my temper.

The first thing that pissed me off took place last night at around 3:30 am. I'd already been having a bad night. Steve fell asleep early, I dozed off with him, then woke up around midnight and wrote an incredibly depressing post here. Then I went back to bed, and had a truly awful nightmare. I woke up crying. I have to give him credit here -- he was every bit as supportive as I could have hoped for, and within ten minutes I was feeling a lot better, so I went back to sleep.

About an hour later Steve woke me up. Well, I figure if he's waking me up in the middle of the night, he's probably got a reason for it. Although maybe not, he wakes up and says incomprehensible things sometimes. Then I just respond with, "Okay, sweetie, you can go back to sleep now." He generally starts snoring again before I've finished the sentence. It's worked up until now.

So, at 3:30 am he wakes me up, and we have the following conversation:

Steve: "Don't get drunk."
Kataine: "Okay. I wasn't planning on it."
Steve: "It'll save everyone a lot of hassle. [mumbling] locals in Eugene, Oregon."
Kataine: "Okay, hon, I won't get drunk. You can go back to sleep now."
Steve: "No!"
Kataine: "Are you okay?"
Steve: "Yeah."
Kataine: "Why don't you want to go back to sleep?"
Steve: "I'm too lazy to talk about that."
Kataine: "You're starting to worry me a little..."
Steve: (half-shouted, in a very angry tone of voice) "It's a bad idea to talk to me when I'm half-asleep!"

Well, truth be told I wasn't terribly rational right then, after the nightmare and all that good stuff earlier. So when he started in on me with that really nasty tone of voice, I became quite upset. To make a long story short, I went outside to smoke and calm down (I was crying again) and came back to bed.

By the time I got back, I was worked up into a righteous fury. "How dare he bitch me out when HE woke me up and all I did was try to make sure nothing was wrong?" I grabbed my pillow and the sheet, then stomped off into the spare bedroom to sleep, slamming the door behind me.

After 45 minutes I realized I couldn't possibly go to sleep, as it was far too cold and the floor is damn hard. So I went back to bed, and snuggled up with the wall.

That little situation was handled by noon, when Steve came home from lunch and we talked a bit. I found out he'd thought I said something I didn't (he was half-dreaming), and I came to the conclusion I shouldn't really pay attention to him when he's essentially sleep-talking.

Then he got home from work and we went shopping. We went to the mall first, and I made a comment like, "I'm just going to trail you around, we can go wherever you like." So I dutifully followed him around to a lot of places I had little interest in. After a while, remembering the way he'd told me I should assert myself when we go shopping if there's somewhere I want to go or something I want to buy, I walked up to Bath & Body Works and announced I wanted to go inside.

"I guess you're not just following me around," he said. I muttered something to the effect that if he didn't want to go there, we didn't have to, but the annoying pushy saleswoman interrupted us.

This was fairly annoying, but he said he didn't mind going inside, he was just surprised, so I didn't think about it too much. So then we were walking by one of those "Buy a huge cookie for way too much money" places, and he asked if I wanted a cookie. I shrugged and said, "Sure, I guess so."

Apparently this wasn't enough enthusiasm, because he seemed kind of miffed that I didn't jump up and down shouting, "OH MY GOD A COOKIE!!!" Actually, I did want a cookie, and even knew right away which kind I wanted, but didn't want him to think he was obligated to buy me one just because I glanced at the shop on the way past it. This is why I didn't act more excited about it.

Nonetheless, I was feeling even more irritated. We bought cookies, and after we ate them, we left because it was most certainly time for a cigarette before I clobbered Steve with the nearest available blunt object.

So then we went to HEB, which is our local grocery store. On the way there, Steve was reminding me that we were buying groceries with our common money, and that we had quite a lot of it this week, so if I wanted something I should just toss it in the cart. This is something we had problems with before, because I tend to feel like I have to ask permission to buy anything with our money.

We shopped for quite a while. I got pissed off about some baked beans and stomped around the store silently for a while. We solved the baked bean issue by substituting another type of beans with less sugar.

Then Steve noticed the cart was nearly full of groceries. We hadn't yet touched the meat aisle, or half of the frozen foods, but he suddenly decided we were going to check out and go home NOW. So he just suddenly started walking towards one of the checkouts.

"Umm, we're done?" I asked.

"Yep," he said. "I estimate about $70 in here."

"Well, there's a lot of money left then..."

"Yep." He continued walking towards the checkout.

"Do I have a say in this?"

(no answer)

By the time I finally got it across to Steve that it would be nice if he would ask if I was ready to go before he got in line to check out, we already had a woman behind us. Since he's a man, he tried to fix the situation by suggesting repeatedly that we get out of line so I could finish shopping. I declined as I prefer not to cause a scene whenever possible.

So we got outside and I noticed it was dark. "What time is it?" I asked.

"About eight, I think," Steve answered.

"Well, FUCK!" I was fuming now. We had this little setup where we each get a couple of hours a day to do whatever we want to do. I've been spending
"my time" working through Dr. Phil's "Relationship Rescue" book with Steve. Eight o'clock meant that I was going to miss out on my time yet again (the fourth day in a row) because I had to go to work soon.

So then we went home, talked about the drama, and ate P'zones from Pizza Hut. I think we got everything hammered out pretty well, but all of this crap was giving me a headache and I was on edge when I went to work.

And then the never-ending argument arose yet again. See, when I go to work, I spend much of the night online, and if Steve's awake, he usually talks to me in IRC or on ISCA (a telnet BBS). I like talking to him while I'm at work, though it doesn't compare to the real thing. However... my absolute number one pet peeve is when I'm trying to have a conversation with him and he's taking an excessive length of time to respond. Often this is as much as three to five minutes for a three-word response.

It pisses me off to no end. We've fought countless times about this. I've proposed God knows how many times what I think is a perfectly reasonable solution. You see, when his response time is that high, it means he's spending more time in another window doing something than he is talking to me. So, I've asked him to please tell me if he's doing something else. If I'm feeling patient enough to talk to him anyway, I'll do so. Otherwise, I'll log out with no hard feelings and do something else.

But no, Steve just can't do that. I've seriously been asking him to do this for so long it's ridiculous. At least since April, possibly before then. It seems so damned simple to me. Surely he can tell if he's doing something in addition to talking to me, and it's not that goddamned hard to type, "I'm doing some other stuff, too, right now." Christ. It pisses me off just thinking about it. If it's that fucking hard, he could get a macro or something.

So I noticed he had a high response time when we were talking. I asked what he was doing, and he responded he was reading a message board. He asked me if his response time was too high, and I said it was. He said, "Okay" then started talking to me more, so I shrugged it off and continued our conversation. Then a while later his response time shot up even higher, and I asked again. This time I was pissed.

Well, I pissed and moaned about it for a while. He said that he only has a hard time telling me that he's doing other things while talking to me if he wants to be playing games on the computer. This makes absolutely no sense to me, but whatever. I informed him that from here on out, if he doesn't tell me of his own accord when he's doing something else, I'm going to be seriously pissed the fuck off. The alternative would be that I will no longer talk to him while I'm at work.

So right in the middle of this conversation, Steve stops responding. Some three minutes pass, and I send another message. "Are you there?" No response. I call home. The phone rings for several minutes straight. Finally he answers and tells me he decided to go outside to smoke a cigarette. Of course he didn't fucking tell me. I logged off.

And that's when I started writing this. Meanwhile, as I was typing, he called to tell me he'd emailed me the specs to his computer, which he'd decided to sell about a week ago. I thanked him for the specs, and then he told me he'd deleted all his games, since they were causing more problems than they solved.

I'm not sure how to respond to this. Okay, it's true, his gaming has caused issues in the past (which is amusing, because before we met, I was much more of a hardcore gamer than he ever was). In particular, I have a problem with him spending time with me while moping because he'd rather be playing on the computer. Somehow this problem was eliminated, although I'll probably never figure out how that happened.

I don't care if he plays computer games while I'm at work, though. He could spend the entire time I'm at work, every day, gaming for hours on end, and I wouldn't give a fuck. All he has to do is say, "I'm going to go play a game now." This is apparently not possible for him, however, so instead he's elected to delete all of his games.

It's like they're some kind of bizarre sacrifice to me or something. Not the first time I've had that happen. Men under a certain age (20ish) seem to have a tendency to offer burnt sacrifices to their girlfriends. I have no clue how I'm supposed to respond to this kind of gesture. At least he still has the ISOs, in case he changes his mind.

He's wrong, I am nuts 

Since Steve wrote a nice little post about my schizophrenia, I think it's only fitting that I respond with my side of the issue. Not that I'm going to argue with anything he said -- rather, I want to fill in the blanks, and give a bit of insight into what the schizophrenic experience is like.

My first clue that there was mental illness in my family came from stories about my mom's younger brother, Tom. Tom is, to put it mildly, more affected than I am. While I often go for months or years between episodes, my uncle spends more time off his rocker than on it.

At one point, Tom drove his car into a crowd of people (at the least, injuring a few), climbed on top of the vehicle, and shouted, "I'm Jesus Christ, and I'm here for the third time to give all of you AIDS!" He earned a new nickname that day. We now refer to him as Uncle Jesus.

Tom has spent a lot of time in mental hospitals. They put him in a padded room sometimes. Once they did this while he was in the midst of a major psychotic episode, which, oddly enough, led to a major head trauma. For those of you who don't know what a padded room is like, it's basically a white room (with padding on all the walls, doh) and a padded door. The door has a small observation window in it, which is made up of two layers of shatter-resistant glass with a metal grill between them.

Well, Tom (quite understandably, I think) thought this room was a microwave oven, and that the nice folks in white suits were cooking him. So he ran headfirst into the observation window, repeatedly, trying to break free. Somehow he managed to break the glass, and his head, in the process.

I mention this because most, if not all, of my own psychotic episodes are accompanied by a terrible fear of being put in the microwave oven.

Tom was hospitalized again recently -- this time because he was driving around town naked, claiming to be a disciple of Jesus.

Enough about Tom though -- his experiences are more colorful and interesting than mine are, but this post is about me. Specifically, about how schizophrenia has affected my relationship with Steve.

Steve was not really aware of my mental illness until it bit us in the ass. This is my fault. Since it'd been over a year since my last episode, and there were no major stressors in sight, I didn't bother to tell him. Oh, I mumbled something about occasionally seeing and hearing things once, but I didn't give him the details. I'm quite ashamed of this, because if I had, he probably would have been much better equipped to handle what happened on the day we call "That Thursday". Truth is, I didn't tell him because I was mortally embarassed, and I was hoping that maybe I was "cured".

The events that led up to "That Thursday" were incredibly stressful, to say the least. That period of time, before and after the episode, were by far the hardest of my life. I think of those weeks as a dark smudge on my life history, and especially on the history of our relationship. I don't like to think about it much, but in order to illustrate the level of stress I was experiencing, I'll explain what happened.

About a month after Steve arrived, I realized I might be pregnant. I figured I was being paranoid, because I had an IUD, but I asked him to pick up a pregnancy test for me just the same, so we could be sure I wasn't. It came out positive.

That night we found out wasn't a very happy one. Both of us were in shock, I think. After a few hours, I'd gotten used to the idea, and had mentally begun the bonding process with our unborn child. However, I still hadn't gotten an opinion from him on what we should do, or at least what he wanted me to do. So I was lying in bed with him, wondering what our child would look like, when he finally stated his position.

"I want for you to have an abortion," he said.

This, um, did not go over well. In fact, I think I was in hysterics for a while. We spent a lot of time talking, and once he became aware of how I felt about this pregnancy already, he reversed his stance. I tried, as best as I could, to soften his fears, which were mostly financial in nature. We decided to keep the baby, and within a few days, he actually seemed fairly excited about the prospect.

The initial prenatal visits went well. They had to remove the IUD to prevent major complications later (like 2nd trimester septic abortion -- "infected miscarriage" in layman's terms), and warned me there was a chance of losing the baby when they did that. I had to go back a few days later, and they measured my blood HCG levels, to determine if a miscarriage was likely to occur. The numbers weren't quite so high as the doctor would like, but they had increased, and they were within the normal range. The doctor reassured me everything was okay, and I went home.

I remember that particular visit because it took a lot longer than you'd expect a simple blood test to take, and when I got out Steve appeared very anxious. He told me he was worried I'd lost the baby. Hearing that made me feel better, because I could finally really believe he did want this pregnancy to continue, that he wasn't just saying that for my benefit. We went out to eat in celebration of the good news.

On the Monday after the next, I had an appointment to go in for a repeat ultrasound. This was also the day I would be starting a new job at a call center, which I was very much looking forward to. I asked Steve to accompany me to the appointment so he could see our baby for the first time. He came along, and seemed pretty excited about it.

Well, to make a long story short, the ultrasound technician determined the fetus was no longer among the living. She wouldn't say anything other than, "There's less growth than we would expect. You'll have to talk to the doctor." I knew, though, watching her type on the screen -- "No FHTs today. No inflow/outflow today. No growth."

So, stunned, we went to the doctor's office, where he said something along the lines of, "Oh, I told you this might happen. Now, we're going to schedule a D&C for Wednesday, and I want you to come in tomorrow to have a laminaria placed." Actually, he said more than that -- he went into great detail about how the laminaria would work and the purpose of the D&C. But he couldn't be bothered to say so much as, "I'm sorry for your loss."

I went to work for my first day of training on the new job. I had a hard time staying very enthusiastic about it. The subject of absences during training came up that day, and I had a private talk with my instructor to explain my situation. I told her I did not think I would be able to come on on Wednesday as I would be in the hospital having the D&C done under general anesthetic. Even if I was released before time for work, I doubted I'd be in much condition to come in. The instructor was very understanding, and assured me that under the circumstances there wouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, I had the laminaria inserted in the doctor's office. This is a little matchstick-looking object made of seaweed, which is jammed into the cervix. The seaweed absorbs moisture, which causes it to swell and dilate the cervix. Having a laminaria inserted is not pleasant -- I'd guesstimate the pain level as approximately that of chopping your pinkie finger off with a blunt axe. I moaned and groaned for a couple of hours, then went to work.

After I got home from work, I went to bed pretty much right away, at about 12:30 in the morning. At 3:00 am, I woke up and noticed my panties were awfully damp. I got out of bed, walked into the bathroom to check it out, and the floodgates opened.

I have never seen so much blood in my life. It was like someone took a two-liter soda bottle full of blood and what looked like large pieces of raw liver, held it between my legs and turned it upside down. I was terrified, and quite certain I was going to bleed to death. The volume of blood and tissue on the floor was at least a quart.

I called Steve at work to let him know what had happened, and told him I'd be calling the doctor for instructions. My fiance was, quite understandably, scared to death. The doctor was unconcerned. "Oh, I told you this might happen. Come in a bit early and I'll see if I can get your surgery done first." What he had told me was that I might pass the laminaria. He never mentioned everything else coming out in the process.

I got into the shower at this point in an attempt to clean up, and while standing under the warm water, I coughed. When I did, something warm and wet slid out. I'll spare the gory details, but suffice to say that a perfect nine week old fetus landed on the floor of the shower.

I went back to work the day after the surgery, and provided proof of where I'd been for the one day I missed, along with medical advice that I should not have attended work that day. I was given a written warning.

For the first couple of days following the surgery, I was still in shock over what had happened. Denial, maybe... I think I was denying to myself that this had meant anything to me. After a few days, I cracked and started mourning.

Mourning the loss of an unborn child is not an easy thing. If you lose a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or a child, everyone understands and is supportive. This was something else entirely, because while this baby was as real to me as a newborn would have been, she wasn't to anyone else. I'd seen her heartbeat on the first ultrasound, alone. I'd seen the tiny body on the floor of the shower, alone. To others, this was the loss of a pregnancy -- a concept, a hope. To me, I'd lost the daughter I loved. I would have given my life so that she could live.

So I withdrew, knowing that Steve didn't feel as I did about this. I understood that, and accepted it -- after all, he'd never had the chance to bond with this child. I spent time alone, grieving, quite certain that no one in the world could possibly understand what I was going through.

And then he told me one day that he did feel as I did, and I opened up and told him everything. We decided to assume it was a girl, as I'd had a hunch about that. We named her Eileen. We spent a lot of time holding each other and crying.

I felt better, and had begun recovering from what had happened when Steve revealed that he actually didn't feel as I did. That, in fact, he'd tried to convince himself that I did, so that he could be more supportive of me. This was incredibly hard to handle, because I'd already shared a lot of very private details about what I was going through with him, which I never would have done unless I thought he was going through this with me. Finding out that he wasn't really, that it was all a sham... it's hard to describe my reaction to this. "Emotionally violated" works, I think.

My stress level at this point was higher than I'd ever experienced before. I started having delusional thoughts. I was terribly depressed. The voices were muttering quietly in the background. I woke up one morning, and the only thought I had in my mind was to shut those bastards up. For some reason, I figured drinking might help. I poured a few shots of Captain Morgan's in with my Diet Coke and went to work.

A few hours before the end of the day, I was pulled out of the classroom and interrogated about my behavior. Someone smelled alcohol on my breath. I knew then that I was about to be fired from the job I'd wanted so badly, and I saw no way in hell we could survive even temporarily on Steve's income. I broke.

My instructor and the general manager drove me home, and when I walked in I was delusional as hell. Steve had to go to work. I was trying to call the dealer I'd gone to back in the days when I was using coke. I drank more. He asked me, at one point, "Are you trying to kill yourself?" I'm not sure if this was before or after he went to work.

I hadn't been until he said that, but I decided then that the only way to make it all stop was to commit suicide. The stress, the voices, the way I felt reality was melting around me -- this all had to stop, and offing myself was the only solution I could see. Steve came home from work early, in a panic.

My memory of this night is fragmented, and doesn't match up all that well with what exactly happened. I remember my friend Victor was there, and left me in Steve's care when he got home. I remember trying to call my dealer, over and over. I remember loading my rifle, and Steve taking it away from me. I remember talking to his mom on the phone, although I don't remember much of what was said. I remember waiting until he went outside for a few minutes, then taking every pill I could find, with particular attention to the prescription drugs.

And I remember Steve caught me in the process of doing this and called an ambulance. Above all, I remember that he didn't accompany me to the hospital.

When I got there, apparently I was ranting and raving. I don't doubt it, I didn't know where I was or who anyone was. I thought one of the nurses was Steve. I remember hearing the doctor remark, "This isn't severe depression, she's on a psychotic break."

Steve showed up and visited briefly. I was incoherant, I thought we were at home in the bedroom. I asked him where he put the phone. I thought at one point I was taking a call at work. He told me that he'd be here until I got out, but after that, he didn't know if he was going to stay with me. "Why is it you want to cancel your DISH Network account?" I responded.

Later, they took me up to a room, where they had someone watching me 24/7 to make sure I didn't jump out the window or some such. On the ride up to the room, one of the attendants asked the other if I had any family with me. "The fiance went home," she said in a sneering tone of voice.

The three days I spent recovering in the hospital were beyond awful. Aside from the hospital staff, I spent the entire time alone. I called Steve a few times... I remember begging him not to leave. He wouldn't give a straight answer. I remember asking him to please come visit me. He didn't. I was devastated.

Until all this happened, I'd been sure that Steve would never leave me, certainly not because of something I had no control over. I thought he would always be there for me, to support me and protect me, no matter what happened. I believed I could depend on him to stick with me through the hard times. I was wrong.

They let me go after three days, when I could put on a nice show of normalcy. Although Steve decided not to leave me, the following weeks were terrible, and our relationship was a shambles. He spent a lot of time playing on the computer while I pretended to sleep. We had sex near-constantly, and it sucked. A lot. I completely ignored how I felt, and tried to put on a show of being the perfect girlfriend. The only thing that mattered to me is that I didn't lose him.

Ignoring how I felt turned out to be destructive as hell. I'm still not sure if that was the right thing to do or not -- I have to wonder if he would still be here if I hadn't. I don't think he would.

I had a few more brief episodes during the couple of weeks following my hospitalization. During one of these, I inflicted hundreds of cuts on myself using a razor blade. I have extensive scarring from this. I'd thought I was being attacked by an angel with talons, when in fact, I was slicing myself to shreds.

Amazingly, despite all this, Steve remained and supported me even when I was ranting about the guy in the ceiling communicating in morse code to me. I started taking Risperdal (an antipsychotic) again -- I had a several-week supply left over from my time in Job Corps, that was not yet expired. The Risperdal made me tired, stupid, unable to enjoy most activities, and gave me horrific nightmares.

We tried, with copious amounts of alcohol, to talk about what we'd both been through. It didn't work so well. By the time I attempted to tell Steve how I'd felt, I was so consumed by bitterness and resentment that all I could do was bitch at him. "Fuck you," he said, and walked out of the room.

I decided the only way I could really let go of all that had happened, and the resentment I felt for him, was to "clear the slate" so to speak -- essentially, break up with him and start all over. This didn't go over well, either. He proposed that instead, we could reaffirm our commitment to each other by reciting marriage vows. I declined which was perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done. I simply couldn't trust him enough to be certain he would keep his vows. I still feel guilty as hell about that.

So we split up, briefly. I think we managed to spend about a day living together as friends before Steve cracked and asked me out on a date. Some residual stuff on his side came up after that, but it worked. We recovered, nearly completely I think.

As far as I know, the only lasting damage is our mutual lack of faith that Steve will stick it out. This is a big deal, because I suspect it's the one reason this relationship still hasn't stabilized. There can't really be stability when both of us are afraid he's going to abandon me if things get hard again.

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