I am not asking for some reward or pin or medal of honor for doing thankless caregiving work, I just want the world to quit telling me what a bitch fool sucker I am and that I should not have done it and what a mistake it was. I guess that’s what I get right now. “Told ya so.” I gave over a month of my life to a person with intense physical and emotional needs. I dropped everything at the beginning of December, not long after NaNoWriMo, and chose to devote my whole life to her. Immediately, I was warned not to do this thing by someone that knew her and had known her for years, that she “had problems,” but my heart told me I should help her. You don’t just leave someone to die. I know all too well that folks like me with eating disorders often fall between the cracks, and she was such a case. I was determined to pick her up, hold her hand when she needed me, and be there for her. I offered a place in my home, even knowing that this was breaking the terms of my lease. This was purely my choice. I did what I still believe in my heart was right. I think I helped her. Or I hope I did. She spent a good month in the hospital where I showed up daily and gave her hope and laughter and companionship. Then, she arrived in my home on my birthday, only stayed a few days, then fled. I guess, though, she got what she needed from me and I served a purpose in her life, so I am satisfied with that. I was not thanked and my own feeling that I did what was right is all I need. Please, world, allow me to feel good about at least that.
Please, world, stop looking at me like I am a dirty burnt-out anorexic living in on Welfare in Watertown. That was the look I got last night from the deus ex machina friends who came to rescue her out of here. Disrespect. Disgust, even. They immediately thanked me for having me over. Huh? They only stayed for seconds so this made no sense. They must have felt such disdain for me. They looked at me like I am this awful person and this is an awful place, which was I guess what she frantically told these friends on the phone, in a panic, but world, I know who I am and I am more than that. I can only imagine the conversation, about what a horrible nightmare it was for her living here, and how awful Julie is, and how kind and wonderful these rescuers are who came out of nowhere.
I guess it’s “that look” of disgust and total disrespect these rescuers gave me that causes me to now go public with this. This is the look society gives me. When I pull out my food stamps card at a cash register. When I go to the housing office to pay my rent that is subsidized. When I sit in a waiting room at a “mental health clinic” waiting for therapy or a psychiatry appointment.
I do not need you fuckers.
I guess in the beginning of December I was that good rescuer who came out of nowhere, too.
This dirty, burnt-out anorexic Welfare case did her darndest and burnt herself out even more. I put her first and myself last on the list. Right now, I’ve got a badly hurting leg to tend to and I need sleep, too. I got the flu over New Year’s and found I had no one to care for me. No one. I feared I would run out of Kleenex and could barely stand up or walk across the room, let alone walk Puzzle or walk to the store and I was dehydrated and scared I would die. I thought I, too, could use that hospital nurse and that call bell, just like she had a few miles away. She asked for me to come, and all I wanted was to get better so I could go see her and care for her once more.
Please, too, allow me to grieve now for the emptiness here, for the empty drawers in the dresser, for the empty closet and all the empty shelves I’ll leave vacant for a while. I’ll need to cancel the storage space I’m renting and take the handful of boxes I brought there home.
I prayed for a kid. She appeared in my life, was a Chanukkah miracle friend blessing to me, and then stomped out. They say to be careful what you pray for and I guess this is true.
It occurs to me that more than one life was saved, in a really weird way, though. I didn’t even ask for that. No way did I expect to live to my birthday even last week, and she was not supposed to live past Christmas. I came out of nowhere and never mind exactly where that is. Well, here we both are, fucking alive.
Here I am at a local ER cuz my case manager and her boss coerced me into going here. She drove me here herself and it would have gotten super nasty had I refused all this. Not that I’m expecting help here, no way, but the DMH people said that if I’m going to drop dead, we might as well find out right now instead of waiting an entire week when I have my appointment that they made me make with a doctor. I guess the Charlie horses are reason to be concerned, that plus all the other stuff I deal with day in, day out. I am in a wicked blabbermouth mood right now, which is not to my advantage cuz chances are, I’m going to blurt out something that gets me into some big time trouble.
So I’m waiting. A lady called out to me, saying, “Ann! Come here!” and of course that’s not my name, so I just sat here and ignored me. Then she assumed I am deaf, and started making all sorts of wild gestures at me. “Ann! Ann!” I didn’t see anyone else around but figured maybe she was on the other side of that desk over there. So I am this deaf person now, with the nurse starting to walk over to me, “Ann! Ann!”
Finally, I looked right at this lady and said, “My name isn’t Ann.” Not that I was going to say what my name really is or anything. I mean, if she wanted me she would figure things out soon enough. After I told her I wasn’t Ann, she asked me if I’d had my vitals taken, and I said yes, I had, and then she walked away.
My stomach is killing me all of a sudden. Dunno what this stomach pain is, really. If that doesn’t get me, lord knows what will.
Okay, as I was saying (I am finally home)…Whole Foods Market. This is an expensive store. Kind of a fake health-foody supermarket for upscale people. Very trendy. I suspect they sell a lot of…you got it…yeah…bottled water. Packaged untested water from god-knows-where that tastes weird. Half the people that drink it don’t even recycle the plastic bottles, mind you. These bottles sit at the dump forever. Yes, forever. Okay, enough about that. I don’t know as a fact that WFM sells bottled water anymore. Maybe they’ve caught on that Coca-Cola and all that big business that thought they could rip people off charging more for water than they do for Coke were doing us all a disservice. Okay, anyway….I was thinking Whole Foods Market and where these stores are located. I’ll bet there ain’t any in places like Mattapan, Dorchester, Southie…I’ll bet Brockton doesn’t have one either.
Then I got to thinking about Brockton. I don’t happen to recall if I’ve ever been there. It’s a city outside of Boston, an area of its own. I don’t know much about it. I could be entirely wrong, but I’ve heard there’s a lot of poverty there, or at least that there are pockets of Brockton that are impoverished and places where there are a lot of drugs and prostitution.
So this was my thought process, just as I was leaving the house on my way to Boston to run an errand. I was wondering what it was like to be a teen living in Brockton. I figured it was a tough place to grow up. I wondered what it was like being a teen in a really poor neighborhood in Brockton, or living in the “projects.” I wondered what it was like if both your parents were hooked on heroin or really bad drugs and were out cold all the time. I wondered what it would be like to find your parent real bad off, and have to call 911. As I lifted my backpack to my back, I remembered that when I was a young teen, I was able to carry both brothers on my back simultaneously, the smaller one on my shoulders, and the middle child on my back. This is why to this day I am able to carry heavy backpacks. I pride myself in this. I carried both brothers literally and metaphorically. I am guessing that any teen with absentee parents, (absentee either literally or in their hearts), would have to raise his or her siblings and take on the role of parent.
But to be a teen in Brockton, or anywhere…being a teen is hard no matter where you are. It might be tough in Brockton, but then again, there might be a way out for those kids. Cuz all it takes is one adult in a kid’s life, one special adult that listens and cares. This adult is more important than where you live, how much money you have, or anything. When this thought came into my head, I started crying. I stood by the computer with my backpack half-slung over my shoulder, and wept.
I did have someone like that in my life. She wasn’t really an adult, not yet. She was in my life f0r a very, very short time, but she was there. I wrote about her in my book. I believe that I first introduce her in my chapter, “Locker #47.” I call her “Maria,” which is a pseudonym. Before I met her, I had no clue what human closeness was. I thought you had to keep all your thoughts, everything, to yourself. I thought that humans were bad people who did nothing but tease me or dominate me and kick me around. I always had to watch out for myself and be careful not to say something that would get me teased yet another time.
She was my camp counselor. She was only eighteen years old, about to go off to college. I was twelve, and had just finished what had turned out to be a nightmare for me: seventh grade, that is, my first year of our two-year junior high school. Is twelve too young to fall in love?
I couldn’t get enough of her. When I was with her, it felt like nothing else mattered, only that I was sitting beside her and I wanted to soak up all my emotions, everything I felt right then and let them surround me and bathe me, because what I felt in my heart for her was sweet and tender beyond what I had ever felt before. Even if the sun had set, I felt that it was upon me, keeping me warm from the other side of the earth. Maria! Maria! I could summon her up at any time, when I was walking to dinner, or singing at the lake with the guitars at sunset, even naked in the shower with the water, not quite warm enough, thoughts and images of her were always in my heart.
But summer ended. She went to college and I went to eighth grade and my parents. I didn’t hear from her much. Long distance phone calls were very expensive, so we had to send letters instead. I kept these letters secret from everyone, and I still have every single one of them. They came so rarely. High school was a very hard time for me, but I survived, and escaped, and ran off to college.
We kept touch for a number of years, and I’ve seen her on occasion. Sometimes it’s been okay, sometimes it’s been a little strange.
Sometimes she lived in the city and sometimes she lived in the country. Once, I went to see her in the city. I don’t know exactly, but what I recall is that there was something, this drive in me…I needed to run out of the car and into her place to see her. I didn’t lock up or bring everything in. I had to see her right away. There was this urgency. She was at the window and I saw her, too. I ran up the stairs and inside and she was there and we embraced and we were together and this was all that mattered.
We spent a long time together, lying there. It had been dark out for hours. Eventually, I went back outside to get the rest of my stuff. It had been stolen out of the car. We reported it, but it never got recovered. Just an old, chewed-up pair of hiking boots and a vest inside a knapsack, that was all. I guess I was lucky. I guess I was the luckiest person in the world.
I don’t know how many years it’s been. Ages. Like, twenty years, maybe? Has it been that long since I’ve heard from her, since her last letter? More? Dang!
What is she doing now? Does she know I’m alive? Does she ever think about me? Where does she live? Google, Facebook…how can I find her?
This afternoon, while I was walking to the bus, I was thinking that I must, must get in touch with this woman, that I was desperate to do so, to at least say hello or something.
Maybe she has already Googled me, and thinks I’m really weird. Dunno.
Just have to find her.
A bit ago I heard a sound I haven’t heard in quite some time: my phone rang. But the real surprise was that it wasn’t a telemarketer. Not only that, it was my therapist. She never calls me. Never.
Actually, she was the person I needed to talk to.
I told her lots of things. This would include my immediate difficulty trying to take a shower because first of all, I hate my body and I can’t stand looking at it or touching it right now and I have bad feelings about my weight and shape. Secondly, I do not want to die in the nude and have been afraid to spend any time naked whatsoever for fear that I will be “caught” in the nude and frozen in my death without clothes on. For months, I have made two exceptions: shower, and weighing myself.
I told her a few other things besides that. Just some stuff going on over the past weeks, months that I never told her, maybe no one ever found out the whole story, maybe I’m finally telling it now. Secrets.
She asked me if I was going to show up at my PCP appointment tomorrow. I told her I was planning to cancel. She told me I’d better show up. So I will.
I spent the day in bed pretty much the whole day. I took Puzzle out but then came back in and lay down again for a bunch of hours. I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to get to therapy so I e-mailed my T and we have an appointment for Wednesday. I think around 2 or 3 I went over to the church to see if the minister was in and I rang the bell and no one was there so I came home and lay down again.
I have had diarrhea and I feel like I might throw up. I am not able to make myself throw up and I hardly ever puke. Like once every few years, maybe less. I’m guessing it’s been ten years or so since I’ve puked.
You know, it’ll probably feel damn good. There’s a lot I’ve been laying out on the table lately.
You know, I feel fairly decent today. It is near the end of the year. Already, the days are getting longer. The difference is only a couple of minutes, but it seemed very noticeable to me. Puzzle and I celebrated this difference during our late afternoon walk. I had my headphones turned up loud.
We walked down Main Street where a cop car had stopped a speeder. It is a place where this often occurs. I didn’t want Puzzle to linger too long under the flashing lights. For some reason, the lights reminded me of those strobe lights they had at my junior high dances. The music was sickeningly loud there. I had never heard music so loud. I ended up dancing with Charlie I think, but I don’t quite remember. Then he introduced me to Jeff. I already knew Jeff but I guess it was our formal introduction. And then we were going out, me and Jeff. We kept it secret. We wrote letters in the summer and wrote our initials backwards so our parents wouldn’t know who it was. My parents guessed anyway. Then he broke up with me and told everyone that he hated me. I was in the eighth grade and I didn’t really care. We never spoke again.
Puzzle and I came home, and I fed her. Dog food is so simple. You just put it in a bowl and the dog eats it.
It is around 6pm. So far, I have made it through the day. You can never be sure. I am blessed.
It’s damn cold out. I know cuz I was just out there. I went grocery shopping. I didn’t take the shortcut to the grocery store. I went the long route both ways. Luckily, I changed into my boots beforehand. It was a good idea to check weather dot com before heading out. There was a “strong wind warning” and a statement about potential resulting power outages. I guess I’m lucky I didn’t get clobbered by a tree while out walking, or clobbered by anything else. You never know what you might run into when it’s only ten days before your 54th birthday.
It’s been the Year of Hell. I could write a book about this year. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, cuz it’s not over yet. Anything can happen in the next ten days. I wouldn’t wish this year on anyone. I keep on thinking of exceptions to this, people, really, really bad people that I might actually want to experience what I’ve been through at age 53. My mother? Nope. Too old. It would be pointless to put her through this torture. She would not understand the meaning of it and would not feel the depth, or feel the turn of the knife. It’s hard to explain to a stranger what I mean. (Please don’t call me a sinner for saying what I’ve just said. You don’t know me and you don’t know her and you didn’t grow up in my shoes.)
It was kind of weird Skyping with my T. She wanted to know stuff, and I didn’t know where to begin, so I began with the Cable Guy. It was hard to tell the story. She “got it” right away. Then, right then and there, it was simply unnecessary to tell her anything else.
I know what I have to do. I am an adult. I am ten days shy of 54. On my 54th birthday, I do not need to be in a dining room full of fourteen-year-olds playing “Twenty Questions” while eating a “therapeutic meal,” carefully watched over by two well-trained staff counselors. I have no desire to spend my 54th birthday with a tube in my nose. I have ten more days of 53, and during none of these days do I plan to be in any nuthouse, or in an ambulance, or escorted anywhere by police.
I used my food stamps card for the food items, but for the coffee filters (which were on sale) I handed the cashier a ten dollar bill. She rang up a one hundred dollar bill. The cash register, and my sales slip, reads $98.14 change. She handed me $8.14, apologizing for the error. I’m just trying to sort this out. She’s going to get into a bit of trouble I think. I have never seen her before. Maybe I will never see her again.
The people after me were in a hurry. They scooted past me while I was filling my knapsack with my groceries. They looked at me like I was crazy. They were a mother and daughter. The cashier noticed that they had forgotten their half-gallon jug of apple juice. She called after them. “Ma’am!” she called. They heard her and came running back. The daughter grabbed the apple juice and flew back to her mother. They disappeared out of the store.
I took my time. I wasn’t carrying much. I adjusted my MP3 player and changed the music. It was going to be a cold, cold walk home. I was glad to be wearing boots, and that I had checked weather dot com before leaving home.
I am sick. I went to get water in the night and just about fainted. Somehow, I got back into bed and lay down before I collapsed. I felt the same way when I awoke this morning. I feel rather crappy and have not felt well at all today. I am seriously beginning to doubt my ability to heal myself on my own. I have avoided getting medical care because turning to professionals may lead to a trip to a psychiatric unit.
It is just not working.
So why did I press the panic button and call 911 on Friday? I guess it was because my malnutritioned brain was not working right. I felt shitty. Of course I needed medical care. Anyway, after that, I vowed I would not call 911 again. What a waste.
I got Puzzle out this morning. Took a shower. Trying to hydrate myself, etc. I will speak to my T at 1pm. One look at my face and she will know. We are going to be Skyping. I cannot hide it.
The DMH person called while I was out with Puzzle. I looked on my caller ID and saw that he had called and hung up without leaving a message. Very weird.
Well, two more hours and my T will be calling me on Skype. Might as well be doing something useful between now and then. Take out the trash or something.
All I want is to be loved and wanted and cared for.
I drank two tablespoons of carrot juice and two tablespoons of fruit juice and some water.
I contacted my T and we are going to Skype tomorrow at 1pm Eastern time. That’s 10am on the West Coast, where she is vacationing.
I wrote in my journal quite a number of hours ago that if life meant a life of hospitalization then I did not want it. I wrote something like that…I don’t recall the exact wording. That was only one of the things I wrote.
How to work this out.
There was a knock on the door. Puzzle barked. I opened the door and no one was there. Then I heard a call. A male voice said, “Wait a minute! I’m coming!” A guy appeared. He said he was the cable guy. He gave me a card, saying, “If you want three months free, call me.”
A bunch of feelings came into my head just then. What did I expect when I opened the door? Santa Claus? Did I think it was the police coming to take me away…yet another time? What did I want? What was I dreading? What was I hoping for from this visitor? Do I want to be loved and wanted and cared for?
Spots came in front of my eyes, the kind of spots you get when you are dizzy from getting up too fast. I went into the kitchen. Puzzle followed me. I got myself a little water. I came to the computer.
Earlier, my therapist wrote to me and said she needed to cancel our Thursday appointment. She is extending her vacation. I will be seeing her next Monday. She said if I wanted to talk to her on the phone that could be arranged. I think it was about four hours ago that I wrote back and said that everything was okay and that I hope she was having a happy vacation.
At some point, I don’t recall when, I wrote some in my journal. I don’t want to go back and read what I wrote.
I realize now that I just want to be loved and wanted and cared for. Like everyone else I guess.
Thanks, cable guy.