Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Advancing toward the rear."

Such is the alternative name for a "retreat." And today, after a visit to GitP, that's exactly what my brain did.

I went to peek in on the Depression Thread, as I often do, although I don't reply nearly as much as I used to. While various living conditions have changed for the better, my medical and psych problems have changed for the worse. It's an uncomfortable cycle. I am mostly a witness to my body's ongoing rebellion and malfunctioning. When my feet ache after a simple walk through the local Wal-Mart, I often am psychologically exhausted, as it becomes a fight not to break down in tears after I think, I'm 42, my body aches like I'm 70, and all of these beautiful women I'm passing wouldn't want to be with a guy whose body doesn't work properly. And the ladies are just part of it. Some part of my mind still wants kids, yet I don't believe I'll ever have any at the rate I'm going.

The one person I've been most comfortable letting down all of my defenses was Julie. Our friendship transcends what other people call a friendship. Even the closest people tend to have a number of secrets from one another. Julie and I have VERY FEW secrets.

For example, I might joke with my friends that it's been so long since I've been intimate with a woman that my virginity has been refunded. "Yep...Got a certificate in the mail claiming I was a virgin again." This usually gets a laugh, which it's meant to do. But Julie knows even MORE about my woes when it comes to intimacy...details you just don't share when you're shooting the bull with your buddies.

My last post was a rather feeble attempt at distraction. I don't want to dwell on the fact that Julie exploded on my last call to her. What I did to check on her well-being should have been obvious. I love her in a way that transcends mere friendship, is very much along the lines of love of family, and teeters on the cusp of romance without actually falling on the other side of that line. Julie even told her current husband, (number three, for those that are counting), "I come with a Rob."

Now, things have been going on in my life for which I need my Julie. And although it came out angrily, it would seem that there have been events in her life for which she could have used her Rob. Despite all of my efforts to contact her, there was no reply.

Added to this was the fact that Julie has had a troubled past. She's been married twice, and both men did what seemed to be an excellent job at hiding their true nature until after they were wed. The first was physically abusive. The second was psychologically abusive. So extended silence from Julie can only result in me developing nightmare scenarios for what's going on in her life. The worst of which involved her current husband, an ex-special forces military man, losing his cool and bringing her SERIOUS harm. As her silence went on, my imagination just got worse and worse.

I have no other way of reaching her, other than by phone. I have no printer with which to print a letter. My handwriting has gotten worse over the years from neuropathy, which is compounded by the fact that I can't grip a pen for long; a letter is practically out of the question. Thus, in my desperation, I called upon the police, those civil servants that look out for the well-being of the populace, to do a wellness check. Although I was willing to accept that things might not be "well" in her neck of the woods, I wanted to let her know that I was worried, and that I was willing to go to extremes to make sure of it. I didn't ask the police to call me back, but they did, and let me know that she was okay. I was ultimately relieved.

How things fell apart after that doesn't make sense to me. How this is being viewed by ANYONE as me having "called the cops on her" is baffling. I can repeat this until I'm blue in the face, "I did NOT call the cops ON her. I called them to do a wellness check. That's it."

...yet the reply posts on GitP all seem to say the same thing. Several people have made it out as though I called to rat Julie out on something illegal, or that I was trying to control her in some way. If that had been the case, I could have manipulated the courting of her newest husband and kept her all to myself, instead of working rather hard to see them get together.

Then to learn via emotional explosion that things have not been good, and at no time did she make an effort to contact me to let me know. It's not my DEMAND that she keep me in the loop, but it would certainly have helped to let me know so that I would know she was alive...struggling, but alive. I love her, probably more than I love any other friend, and it's upsetting to now know that she didn't deem to keep me in the loop - to leave me wondering - when she should know by now that I am available to her day or night when it comes to venting her woes onto me. In the past, I was her go-to guy when it came to such difficulties. My advice often offered up another perspective, and I was usually capable of bring a smile to her face. But since our last enjoyable call, I seem to have been relegated from "Best friend she has in the universe" to "some guy she knows in KS."

At least, that's how it feels right now. Between the emotional upset I feel over this, and people shoving the idea that I'd "called the cops on her," my brain, once again, shut down on me. I retreated to my room, turned off the light, and slept for many hours, smack in the middle of the day.

Odds are good, or so I hope, that this will all pass. If our friendship is as strong as advertised, one will call the other and we will talk it out. Do I expect her to drop everything to call me? Of course not. I'm simply not that selfish. She has a family, with great responsibilities to go with it. But I'm hopinh she can make a little room for her Rob again.


Anonymous said...

Bor... I'm gonna write now because of the fact that it being so late, I can barely feel the effects of my drained energy. This means that I'll manage to speak, but I may not make too much sense.

While I can't claim that I know exactly how you feel about your body, I do in a way, empathize. Because I too deal with a body that does not do what it's advertised to be able to do at my age. Not as extreme as your example... but certainly bad enough to cause me issues. I feel almost no pain, but I can't so much as walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like my heart is going to literally explode, so hard it beats that I can feel my pulse on my head. Sitting down for class (or office work!) lowers my blood pressure to levels that make me start to fall asleep. At the age of 25, one would think that I'd be an active person, or at the very least, able to sit down and either pay attention in a class or be able to work through the 8 hours of office work that is required. I can't. So I too know the frustration of knowing that I should be capable of something that I simply am not. And the added frustration that the nature of my illness is such that it is invisible to others and thus gets pegged as "just laziness". It's draining psychologically and even physically as my body forces itself to keep working while my mind forces itself to keep up with the active ways of those my age, keeping up with whatever we're seeing in the course, keeping up with work, and everything. Keeping up with it despite immense depressions, other illnesses, etc. I too have barely replied to the Depression Thread, as I simply barely have the energy to keep myself functional, I simply don't have energy to invest in analyzing problems of others and devising solutions. And I want to help and this is frustrating too. But all I've really been able to muster is some hugs. And this frustrates me.

I also understand what it feels like to have problems with a friend that close. He-whom-I-shall-not-name-here was that close to me. A jerk sometimes(..okay, a lot of the time), but we did share so much. Too much, perhaps. But unlike Julie, he became abusive, dismissive... and.... no need to dwell upon that. Thing really boils down to the fact that, while it's not the same as you and Julie, I can also understand having a friend that close.

And thus I can attempt to place myself in your shoes. You had no other way of contacting her. You did what you could. And I can't say you were wrong in it. You didn't call the cops ON her, as you said. You did a wellness check. Something that was innocent and well-meant. And no one can say otherwise.

And yet, doing no true wrong, what happens? The unexpected does. She doesn't take it well. You express your confusion in the Depression Thread. Several people then try to do what only human beings can do: try to place themselves in the shoes of the other, try to see the other side, so that they could help by explaining to you what may have been going through Julie's mind that would cause her to act as she did.

The one who said that you called the cops ON her... that one... she will most often give very good advice. But always worded in a strange way. I think she meant that it felt to Julie that way. Not quite that you DID do that. But that perhaps Julie took it like that. Please bear with me, I shall get to this part in more detail in a bit. I don't think this person meant to accuse you, but rather to tell you how it might have come across to Julie.

The second person to reply said that your intentions didn't matter. Just her interpretation of the events. And again... this is not accusing you. It is saying that the problem is with how it came across.

Anonymous said...

Then the other person who responded to you said another thing of what it might have been like to Julie. Said you probably came across as controlling. Do recall that these people are simply trying to respond to "Why would a person get angry because of this?". They can only answer it by going "Why would *I* get mad at this?". It really is the only way there is to answer it.

The last person to reply to you told you what I have told you here. That people are not accusing you. They are trying to give you possible points of view that may have caused Julie's anger in the first place. Just theoretically what she may have thought that made her so angry. Not that you actually *did* something wrong. But why you might have been perceived as wrong by Julie. Something happened on her end that made her explode. People are giving you options of what may have happened.

And now to answer from my perspective. I am a person who has battled suicidal tendencies for over 15 years. At any time I could snap (as has SO nearly happened) and take my own life (and my subconscious takes several swipes at me once in a while as well). Like Julie, but for different reasons, I am a person whom people have a legitimate reason to worry about.

How would I take it if I had the cops call on me to check on my well-being in the name of a friend?

I'd be ticked off. VERY ticked off. Why? Because, well, not everyone has the idealistic idea of cops being those who look out for the wellness of the populace. I may have the bias of living in a place with a known problem of serious corruption in the police department, but even so... at best, cops are entire strangers. Why would I want strangers knowing about my private life, calling my private phone, to check on my private life? To me, at least, whether I'm well or not... that's my business. Sure, it's the business of my friends too. But it's not the business of strangers. So, they'll forget in 5 minutes. That's fine and dandy. Problem? I won't forget. I won't forget that *strangers* broke into my private life. Irrational? Yeah, most probably. But anger is seldom rational. It's just plain uncomfortable to have people checking on your private affairs. I've had issues with emotionally-abusive friends and peers. This does nothing good to my confidence or my trust. I am far more likely than the average person to feel that things are a threat. So someone asking strangers to check on me... part of me will say "Nice of that person to care". Another part will scream that it's seriously pushing things. I may have had a reason to vanish. I was not thinking of worrying people. But I need my space too. Sometimes, I need to retreat. Is it nasty to do that when I know there are those who will worry that I might have found the perfect way to down myself, or that my subconscious finally managed a bad enough "accident"? Oh, yes. Nasty and most probably selfish. But sometimes I just need the space. I need the break. Sometimes I simply can't announce that I'm going to vanish. Why? Because I don't want to have any reactions. Reactions stress me. Neutral reactions make me think people don't care. Angry reactions may force me to back down from my retreat and if I was thinking of retreating, then I needed it. And a happy reaction would probably make me cry. So just avoid them altogether and flee! I can explain everything once I have recovered. So someone forcing me out of my shell, out of my own retreat is something I won't take kindly, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Julie. I can't tell you why she was angry with you. All I can do is to try to see through my eyes what she may have seen. But ultimately, it is what I have written above. It's what *I* would feel if I were acting as what I know of Julie. Only you know her and only you can decide if any of the reasons that would anger me might apply to Julie. And perhaps in this that insight I am providing might be helpful. I find that is is usually helpful to know, or at least theorize, how the other side must have been thinking.

I figure that it is possible that Julie was retreating for her own reasons. And that, by calling the cops to check on her, you forced her out of her retreat before she was ready. I know that you say that she knows she can count on you. But here is an interesting thing. I, at least, tend to avoid bugging people I know already have problems with my own problems. They have enough to deal with as it is and, especially if I perceive their problems as greater than mine (Yes, they're still problems. But we can't deny that there *are* problems more serious than others. No matter how upset it makes you, losing a game is far less serious than losing a pet. They're both problems, they both deserve attention... but they are not the same). It is entirely possible that Julie saw her problems as not huge on their own, but just a huge, tiring avalanche, but no problem really big enough to warrant bugging someone who I'm sure she doesn't want to worry. So she retreated instead of reaching out. It happens. I do it all the time, so I'm sure others might do it too.

As a last note, since my brain is finally starting to fail me... I know you worry about your friends. I know your anxiety can be horrible. I have anxiety issues too. I know how it can be. But... try not to think of the worst possible outcome. You'll only torture yourself. Be concerned... but do not start speculating on what may have happened. Such speculations are usually wrong. It occurs to me, writing this last bit, that if you showed that worry on the phone, that may have driven Julie further into retreating if she really didn't want to bug you. And that's why she was so mad, I think. She wasn't ready to call you. She knew she'd end up talking about those "minor" (and I use quotes to denote that it might have just been her wrong perception) problems (which together probably have been quite formidable opponents for her). She didn't want to give you more troubles than you already had in your plate. So she retreated to get herself together. You kept calling her. She kept her distance. But then you involved a third party and crashed down her line of defense. That sounds like a really plausible reason to be angry.

Again, I'm not condemning your actions. I'm merely explaining how, in my experience, such an action (which yes, was for unselfish reasons) could have caused such an explosion. I guess she just wasn't ready/had too many things on her mind (and goodness, at times like that, even a MINOR offense can set off a nuclear explosion, let me tell you!). It was, simply "the right thing (checking on her) at the wrong time (while she wasn't ready/had too much on her mind) for all the right reasons (you're her FRIEND. Of course you want to make sure she's well!)".

That said... I do hope this can all get cleared out. Forgive the long, rambly post, but at this hour my brain works like that.

Be well, Bor.

Black Pants Guy said...

We all know that some people come from the dark part of the 'woods' where calling the police for any matter what-so-ever is considered an insult for some illogical reason, don't listen to those few idiots on GITP and focus on the ones that know that the police are there to help, not to hinder, and that calling the police to ask for a wellness check is a sign of concern.

I would try and do the same thing if you dissappeared from here and GITP for a month or more.

We love you Bor!