Friday, March 13, 2009

And I was doing so well

Just so you know, I had a really great post planned. It was about how I was doing so well lately. One about how things were getting better and how I had decided to reclaim my space and my nights. And more importantly to reclaim my voice, because I can't seem to tell people how I feel in the real world and I want so much from them and I don't know how to ask. I was going to say the things to my friend that I should have said while he was here. Namely, that he should have held me without me having to ask. And I was going to give myself a pep talk about how to go about asking. I was going to talk abut that moment on the couch, watching him struggle with the lock when I started to think and feel and not fight it. When I said "It wasn't supposed to be this way" and he said something about it being a stupid lock. And I nudged harder and said "I wasn't talking about the lock" with a soft and strained voice. I leaned forward and I wanted to cry, probably needed to cry. But I couldn't tell him that. I was too scared. Scared of nothing and everything. Scared of looking stupid and vulnerable. And I have to reclaim myself and fight for what I need and tell people then, instead of telling them later. Hidden behind this screen is no way to live, and its not fair to me or to any one else. I had a great post planned that would have made all of this sound so much better, more sincere and elegant. Instead of all this rambling. That's not all I had to say either. I need to go into her room. I haven't been there since she left. And I can't go in there. I was going to talk about how I'm stronger. About going in there. Sitting on the floor in that pale pink room and just letting the horror in. And then letting the pain out. I was going to talk about how I was ready to start to challenge myself, how I want to lay under that crib one more time because I know it will break me. And I was feeling well enough to do that to myself. Maybe with some help, but still. Oh the beautiful post I was going to write so you guys could all stop worrying.

But I don't have that post right now. I don't have that strength. I ain't got shit but a keyboard, and some new locks and I am waiting for the sun to come up. I am fucking scared. Better than a few hours ago, but just because adrenaline can only last so long. And it's been a long night. Fuck, it's been a long night. I came home from my lovely job, relatively happy, so would say perky. Because things have been better. Because I haven't been scared. Irritated, sleep deprived, and pregnant with a blog that needed to come out. But not scared. And here's the stupid part, where it's time for me to take my blame. I forgot to lock the door when I left. Fucking forgot. But this is the first time. I came in and the TVs were left on. Except, I didn't leave them on. The cable boxes are gone. And my pictures are gone. But I'm still holding my own, no worries. He's been here. He's gone now. Then I think of why he is so mad. It's not about changing the locks. He planned on seeing my daughter this weekend and he wanted the truck to take there and I refused. I think he's going to run with her soon and I'll be damned if he thinks I'm helping him do that. So I'm worried, and I walk over to where the I keep the spare key, and it's gone.
At this point I am annoyed but I can handle this. I'm mad but I have worked the problem, and I have a plan.
So I take the elevator down to the truck because I'm going to go to the 24 hour Kmart and buy The Club. Then it doesn't matter if he has the key. And I'm reasonable proud of myself, hell, I probably have a little smirk on my face. I get in the car and I smell the faint odor of cigarettes. I hate cigarettes. Never would have dated my ex had he smoked. But he didn't when we met. Like all good bipolars though, he picked up the habit, and became one of those strange people who develop nicotine addiction much later in life. But he hasn't been in the car for at least a month. There is a faint flicker of a warning there, but in my hubris, I let it go. Then I put the key in the ignition and turn it over and hear...Silence. Oh. Shit.
Oh shit. This truck worked not ten minutes ago. And it has a new battery. He put it in himself not two months ago. Oh Shit. He's here. He's real close. He's gotta be somewhere in the fucking garage. This car has been fucked with. It's around midnight. Everyone else in my complex is asleep. No one's going to open that basement door and walk in any time soon. I lock the car doors. Pick up the phone. And I'm fucking beside myself with terror. There is nothing else but terror. My car is disabled. No one else is around. I am cornered in a parking garage with that man. You can't watch all places at once. Can't look out the back and the passenger side and the drivers side all at the same time. Trust me I tried. I'm looking everywhere but seeing nothing all at the same time. I have this realization, this flash forward, that I will only see him a a second before he has me. It's this flash forward now I see every time I close my eyes. I'm fucked. I am dead in the water. I am the fish shot in the barrel. Fuck, I didn't see it coming. Out maneuvered, out gunned, out of options. Fuck. I hear that line in my head in his voice. He used to say all the time, I heard it everyday, until it became a part of me. "How can someone so smart, be so stupid" I hear it everytime I want to speak up and express how I feel. I'll know the answer in rounds and I hear that line and I don't answer because maybe, just maybe, the answer got changed when I wasn't looking and I don't want to open my mouth and be so smart and so stupid. And I know he's in my garage. He is watching. He's enjoying this. And he is laughing to himself.
Fuck. I have my phone and I am debating how best to use it. I could call the police. But say what, my car won't start and I'm stuck in a parking garage. I have had several run ins with my town's police department and to say that they have let me down is an understatement. I will tell you one day, how I didn't think I could get any lower and I didn't care anymore if anyone found out. I called them and they did nothing. Worse then doing nothing, they taught my husband and me that it didn't matter if I called. I thought I was holding a pretty high card, that domestic violence card, and when it got real bad I played it. And when those officers walked in and then left me there as they walked out, I realized just how rigged the game was. Fuck that. So the police are out. I have but in place the Mother of all Hail Mary texts in my phone. It is my name, my address, and it directs the receivers to send the police and ambulance immediately. Having called 911 from my cell phone I know that it is a process to get some help. I'm guessing I won't have time to jump through those hoops. And I have planned accordingly. Except I know that text is only designed to go out once. I'm being terrorized but not brutalized, so that is out. I low ball a smaller Hail Mary text, try to keep it light. My car is disabled, I'm stuck, who's up? I'll leave out the heart pumping, white knuckled, animal trapped in a corner part of this situation. I get pinged back in rapid succession and a phone call from someone who has always been there.
That man would love me if I would just let him. But tale as old as time. He wants me, but I don't want him. I know I should. He is the quintessential nice guy that always comes in last. I wish he made me feel safe and protected, I wish he helped me feel not afraid. And I have tried to lay in that man's arms and fall asleep, but I can't. I haven't even let him read my blog, though he knows a great deal about my situation. I texted him once, barefoot, soaking wet from the sprinkler, hiding from my husband in the bushes in front of my apartment. "If I needed you to come get me right now, could you?" "Of course" And out went my address. He must have been so hot in that car, with the heater on full blast as I sat shivering in his passenger seat. He would have listened but I wasn't willing to talk. Would have held me, but I couldn't stand to be touched. We talk, he is not a dumb man and he knows I'm in trouble. We decide to get me out of the car while still talking to each other. If the phone goes dead, he'll call the police. I pop the hood and the battery has been disconnected. Fuck. This must be how the gazelles feel approaching the water hole. You know it's a trap, you know it's a set up. But you still have to do what you have to do. I reconnect the battery and jump back in the truck. And lock it. The truck starts right up and I creep out the sliding gate. One eye glued to the rear window.
Both replies ask the same thing. "Are you okay?" NO. No you assholes I'm really, really, really, fucking scared. I'm really hurting and I'm scared. And I'm scared of getting hurt. And I can't believe this is my life. I can't believe this has happened to me. I don't know how I fell of the edge of the earth but I did and there is nothing but fear and sorrow on the other side. I am so tired of living my life waiting for the bogeyman to come get me. And I am tired of pretending everything is so fucking okay when it's not. I'm not okay tonight, I'm not okay, I'm not fucking okay. FUCK.....I text back that of course I'm okay. Because what else do they want me to say. If they gave a shit they would have called. Would have checked in to see if I was crying, or my voice was quivering. To listen for themselves if I was anywhere close to being okay. But instead we all hide behind a 160 character limit on our humanity and wonder why are lives are so adrift. How's that for reclaiming my fucking voice.
I get the steering wheel lock and a spare battery at the store. I walk through the children's section to try to hide the peculiarity of my shopping cart with happier things from happier times. I'm not quite sure what to do. Do I go home? Do I sleep in my car? Is it safe? And if it's not will it ever be? What was his plan? Was he going to take the truck. Or was he trying to thwart my escape from some confrontation he had planned? I don't know. Maybe he was just trying to scare me...and it worked. It worked really fucking well. I am as hyper vigilant as I can get. I can't sleep. I can't even turn out the lights. Every sound is him. Every car that goes down the alley. And I had been doing so well too. I had considered spending some time with a man but now I can't be near them again. I'm a fucking wreck. I feel like I've been knocked back to the bottom of the ocean after I had been swimming so hard to the top. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I thought things were getting better. Just so you know, I had such a great post planned about how I was doing so well.....


ButtercupRN said...

Oh my God,get out of there! I don't know you but I have known how it feels to be paralyzed by fear from someone you used to love,the betrayal,the abuse it is soul killing. GET OUT OF THERE even if it's to go to a shelter and talk to someone there,they care,I care. You know you're not stupid by any stretch of the imagination,this can happen to anyone,please get help.
I did and I'm getting my soul back,I'm learning to enjoy life and not be so hyper vigilant and scared.
I care. [[[Hugs]]

Walt Trachim said...


Started reading your blog courtesy of one of the docs that I follow.

Reading this post (as well as some of the others) left me feeling like I got punched in the stomach.

Whether you realize it or not, you do have a powerful voice. That shows itself in your writings.

If you don't object I'd like to add you to my own blogroll. It would be an honor to do so. And for what it's worth, you're not alone.

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that (almost exactly like your story - gotta love mental illness) and it does get better. I am 15 years out from it but from what you describe, nothing's changed with regard to other people's response to domestic issues.

And, let me tell you, I still remember the lesson I learned while I was in the depths of that shit: the ONLY person you can truly count on is yourself. Fortunately, you're stronger than you think you are - I promise.

Irishdoc said...

Walt, I would be honored to be on your blogroll. I appreciate all the advice and support from the online community. And I thank you all.

Anonymous said...

I read you whole blog history today, I couldn't stop. Had to read the whole thing. My life is very different from yours, I am protected from the horrors of reality that you are exposed to in your job. Your personal situation is scary at best. I hope when you get through this bizarre ritual called internship, you can manage to carve out some time and energy to take care of yourself. I wish we could talk. I have so many questions and thoughts..but I guess all I can do is offer you my prayers. I will mark your blog and hope for the very best for you always.

KathiB said...

I stumbled on your blog via one of the other medical blogs that I follow. I myself am on call this weekend, but I had to sit and read your entire blog today, between pages and patient disasters and such.

You ARE doing so well. You are getting out of the door and going to work. Trying to do things one minute, one second at a time. Sometimes that is all you can do.
I feel for you. I wish I could help in some way. I am not going to presume that I know how you feel. I only know how I felt when I was in a similar situation.

It is hard to know who to trust. You have to pretend to everybody. It's as though you have this dirty secret. You can't come up with "reasonable" explanations for your "poor" performance. Things like this shouldn't be having an effect on you. You're a doctor, right? Hmmph! It's even worse being a woman in medicine.

I have so much I want to say to you. You are a much better writer than I am. You've done all this work to get this far and been through so much already. You're a fighter or you wouldn't have gotten this far. I wish I could wave that magic wand for you. It's still a long road ahead. Keep writing, keep trying to talk to people. Communication is the key. If there is one thing I've learned in trying to put my brain back together (after he screwed it all up), it's that if you can't figure out what going on in your own brain, then no one else is going to be able to read your mind for you. Talk it out. If you say it wrong the first time, keep trying until you find the words that say what you mean. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Know that there are other women out there just like you, putting on that brave face when she walks in the door to work. This one is here for you and always listening.

Beth said...

I just found your blog tonight, I read everything from the beginning. I wish I knew all the right things to say or better yet, I wish I could offer my home as a sanctuary for you to escape, rest and sleep. I guess I just wanted to let you know people are listening and care and to thank you for such honesty in your writing, I hope you find some peace soon.

Randall Sexton said...

Please "The Gift of Fear" asap. Wow, you're a great writer.

Deborah said...

I just read your blog from start to finish. I really missed the things you didn't say during those long absences.

You need some kind of therapist. I know you don't have much time, but I seriously worry that you're not going to make it if you don't get some help. Doctor or not, you are only human.

Anonymous said...

Get out of there. Do NOT go back there alone. Go back with a friend, clear out your junk, and GO. ASAP.

Don't know what city you are in, but you need a woman's crisis center asap. Google HAWC (north of Boston, MA): Help for Abused Women and Children (1-800-547-1649). If you can't find a similar group where you live, call HAWC: INCREDIBLE organization. They will know of other similar organizations. Local police in my town have to HAWC staffers on call 24/7. Your locals sound pretty thick, so move to a town where the cops GET IT.

You have described the abuse and resulting fear perfectly. Now go get help--practical, solid help: move, get a new place without the nightmares, change your address, make sure your phone is unlisted, make sure no one gives out your number, and get a couple of close friends to run with you. For the time being, try to find a way not to be alone, so you can let your guard down long enough to sleep, recharge your batteries.

Being a doc is hard enough. Abuse alongside it is unimaginable. You cannot be the best doc you can be while carrying this stress alone, so get allies.

Please note I have not said hit the counselors, get a shrink--that may come, but the first order of business is personal safety. When someone says, "Are you OK?" you take is as "Am I still upright and breathing?" and answer "yes." The truth is no, you are not OK--as long as you are under siege, you are NOT OK, not safe, not "home." So first order of business is to get a safe place to live. Organizations like HAWC have safe houses and a core of dedicated volunteers who will not let you down. Go to them. You will be amazed at how powerful they can be for you; how they will run with you.

Then keep this group posted.

The Bus Driver said...

wow, be careful out there. your husband sounds like a truly scary person... i think you need to get out of that situation..or move or something away from him..

Elisabeth said...

Sometimes, as you reach out from the deepest blackness, the people you reach out to let you down. and it feels like a betrayal. But keep on trying until you find help, because you will eventually find it.

It takes a long time to recover from fear, because it is such a basic survival reaction. Eventually, the fear (and need for fear)passes, and the parts of yourself that you had to put away to protect begin to unfold. I've come through fear.

ER doc too said...

Hi, I am an ER doc too. And I too was in a very abuse and crazy marriage. I had children during my residency, and sometimes I cried before my shifts on a daily basis. I am not you of course, but I can identify with some of your story. I have found significant help through the web site , I have even done over the phone therapy with Dr Irene and found it very helpful and private. I am in a better place with my life now - that time seems like a cloudy bad dream. If you would like to contact me I would be happy to email or talk with you. I do believe that you are going to make it through this time of insanity. Reach out for help. As a doctor you are trained to help everyone else. This is time for you to reach out. No need to post my comment - although you may if you wish.

Ellen said...


You are doing well. You're functioning. I found out way too late that my bosses knew... and were expecting what happened to happen. Yours may be more aware than you think. Please try talking to them.

Four years and half a country away, I still sleep with the lights on and my cell phone next to my pillow. So if you ever need someone just to talk with - someone who has been there, and still is in many ways - give me a call. (I'll send my number in another comment.)

Oh, and please don't let him use the fact that he has bipolar disorder as an excuse. People with bipolar still make their own choices. I should know... I have it. His decision to be a bastard is just that - a decision he made, and continues to make.

Patrick said...

I just got linked over from another blog, and I have only read your this post. But would a pistol be out of the question? I don't mean to offend, nor do I wish to engage in the "do no further harm" discussion. A human, an American, has the right to self-defense, to feel secure.