Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I posted this between midnight today and noon, then got embarrassed and ashamed, nor wanted to be a downer to others, so I took it down. A few of you emailed me and asked that I please repost it, because it's life and it's real and sometimes both hurt so much. As one dear reader said, "it had the effect of a strong cup of black coffee on me at 3 AM." Another offered some work we can - and will - do in book collaboration. Thank you all.
I will get through this. I must. I may not have been emotionally smart enough to avoid some of the mistakes I made, nor did I have control over outside circumstances that can destroy the best laid plans of anyone, but dammit, I am smart enough to survive and survive well.
Okay... the truth. Tis' the season, as my 2 AM post said yesterday, but all has not been well in my life lately. I need to stop fronting like everything is peachy. It ain't, and it sets a bad example for this blog, which generally ain't about regurgitating the news and only telling about happy shit while commenting on some poor soul I know personally or in the news who is catching hell.
As if I didn't have enough trouble with one landlord this summer, I am having a crisis with the latest one. He used to be easy-going, friendly, and nice as apple pie. This changed virtually overnight, and currently my family is scared to death of his rages, insane demands, and threat of killing our dog as an implied threat of hurting me.
But before I explain the last part of that last sentence, last week I started having problems with Xavier's mood swings and bad temper again. I told him, finally, that I couldn't take it anymore; he had become mean like he used to be, and no way I could endure what I did when he was in his teens. I was serious too, and he knew it.
Xavier downed all of his medication in a suicide attempt. It was manipulative as hell. He knew I would never kick him out under those circumstances, because when he gets this way, part of him really doesn't care if he dies. He refused to give me back my phone so I could call an ambulance, and took a shower.
This time he got the floor wet, which leaked downstairs into the basement where the other, meaner, manic-depressive lives. That son of a bitch has us so terrified that when he came up to rant and rave at us, neither of us mentioned that Xavier had 40 pills in his stomach. Xavier, even in what could be his last day, didn't want us getting kicked out, and stood there wrapped in a towel, apologizing. Poor kid.
You can't get more accommodating than that. Ain't that some shit?
Of course I had to tell the loony landlord after the ambulance came, who yelled that he wanted us to move because of this and the decorative bong he saw in Xavier's room.
"This is a major violation of your lease!", he screamed before returned to his basement.
Bitch please, I thought, he used to be the biggest drunk and druggie in town I learned after moving here. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if he's still snorting coke up his nose.
Needless to say, our landlord-tenant relations hit a new low, which I didn't think could get much lower. Even before that, Rocco had been telling me he wants us all to go to bed at 11 PM because he doesn't like hearing us upstairs. Crazy shit like that. You'd think that paying my rent before the first, and keeping the place sparkling clean and quiet would be enough. Not for that bottomless pit with a fucked up personality and problems that look like mania to me.
Then there was the big snow storm that hit my area late Friday night. I went to bed early. Xavier came in maybe 1AM. Rocco, who lives in the basement, and came in 3 AM. Normally I'd have no idea when he comes or goes because he uses the kitchen door. I awakened, hearing a lot of noise in my living room.
I go out there, just as he's stomping back through the kitchen.
"What's going on?", I ask.
"You left the got-damned front door open!", he yells.
"That's a damned lie!", I yell back. "I'm tired of you lying on us! Stop it! It's not even cold in here. It would be cold if the door was open!"
"That's because the heat is on, you stupid bitch!"
He starts screaming how he drove up and the door was wide open and the tv on, "wasting electricity!"
The man is obsessed with utility bills and has been scheming since mid-October to force me to pay half for them, when it's not in my lease and he'd made a big hoopy-dee-doo how he'd pay for this when I signed the lease. He had yanked the tv cord out of the outlet. My friggin' outlet.
"It's not cold enough in here for the door to have been open," I reiterated. "You're lying."
There was no snow or even wet foot prints inside my front door. This man, I am 99% sure, made up this shit to try to justify once again why I should pay half of the utilities after coming home and hearing our tv on in the living room. If he had gotten the damn calibration in the AC/heating unit fixed back in August when I told him, when the fan just kept blowing for hours or days before the AC or heat kicked on, his bill wouldn't be so high. Can't convince him of this, though; he's a know it all.
My dog doesn't like him anymore either. He barked at him, and even his own dog was hiding from him.
Then comes the new threats.
"I'll kill your damn dog... I'll bring a pitt over here to eat him! You need to move the fuck out of here as soon as possible."
I asked him if he has ever gotten along with a tenant.
"None of them last long," he said smugly. "Only one for a year, that gay guy who used to live in the basement before you, and another for eight months; no one more than three months. They don't follow the rules. When you don't follow the rules, you're out of here."
If I had a buck for every time he said the word rules and broke his own, I could fill up my gas tank. The man lives like a pig but does the white glove dust test on my shit. I just watched him and listened, because he sounded like one of those deranged. obsessive serial killers in a psycho movie, ranting about rules.
The more he talked, the more threatening he became. He said, "Oh, you don't want to me to become the person I used to be..."
And he told me where to google to find his name, and later that night I did. He stabbed former tenant or roommate several years ago. He was arrested for this, and that's all the article said. His telling me this was an implied threat that if we don't move, he could go bezerk.
That's when I began getting chest pains too, that I still have, though not as bad as the weekend.
This year has been hell. This Christmas we are dirt poor because I have to use every dollar to save and earn more money for a new place to move, preferably in January and no later than February.
It is three days before Christmas, and today Xavier and I were applying for emergency assistance. I felt so ashamed. I have never in my life asked anyone for anything. My son was so angry - with me - for being in this predicament, that he didn't even speak to me until after our all day ordeal at the welfare office was over and we were half way home.
Finally he started talking.
"You're supposed to be the strong one," he said sullenly. "The role model. You've spent too much time on the computer when you should have been working two jobs so we'd never had to go through this shit, but noooo, you want to blog! You want to write fiction! You wanna be a big time author one day! All you do is dream and hope! Look what it's gotten us. Nothing. We're damn near broke and at the mercy of a psychopath. Ain't no telling how this will end, and I swear, Ma, if that son of a bitch lays a hand on you, it's gonna be me an him."
How could I argue with the truth?
Yeah, I could have blamed Xavier as the #1 person in a line of several who led me to where I am, and I'd be right, but what good would this do?
What good would it be to say that when I did work full time, he raised so much hell before I got out the house in the morning that I'd be drained, and that during the day he'd have his questionable friends over smoking and drinking and leaving everything a mess, and when I got home, there would always be more drama?
Just asking him to wash his own dishes or go to school led to more than one hole in the wall or broken window, a call to the cops, and/or a psychiatric hospitalization.
For him, being reasonably cooperative is akin to surrendering his manhood, a pattern he established just before hitting 14 years old. I swear, some males can not function without an alpha male in the household to keep them in check, and he has been one of them, to my demise. I don't know why a small percentage of men are inherently sexist; it ain't like I didn't give him Cabbage Patch dolls or take to him to museums along with the boy stuff. It's like it's hardwired into their brains to dominate at any cost, even when it's to their disadvantage.
I should have refused to let Xavier stay after he turned 18, but when a now-ex girlfriend who he lived with briefly ran away from a relationship with his controlling azz, he walked in front of moving car, and is only alive by God's mercy.
I should have refused to let him come with us when I moved this past August, but he had no where to go, swore he'd changed, and I didn't want him on the street turning to crime to survive and maybe hurting someone in a crime-gone-wrong, or ending up in jail or committing suicide.
Once again I am there... that horribly uncomfortable place where I have to choose between my life and my son's life, but I really don't think he'll change, at least not more than a few weeks or months when I get a new place.
I can change, by working day and night, and he'd keep a job for awhile... and he'd then back to the same old same old of being a parasite, living off me and not respecting me for allowing him to do it.
I can kick him out of the nest, and let him take his licks from life. I see no other choice, given that every nest I've built for my family has fallen to pieces.
As a therapist and as an ordinary person, I can tell you that it takes two to make any living arrangement or relationship work, but it only takes one person to undermine and destroy everything.
Maybe there is a value for him to see me collapse. I am no longer the strong one, at least not on the surface. This should have been evident when my mid-life crisis hit this year, closely followed by the racist landlord who gave me sixty days to move - and I learned later, a number of other families as well, so they can get a higher rent from new tenants. That was white collar thuggery with a distinct tinge of white racism. I know this because I was a good tenant who paid my rent on time, but there reclaiming of property is totally legal in my area. Not ethical, but legal.
As I said, I could have blamed him back, blamed racism, and now blame this psycho landlord, but instead I listened.
In the end, the blame lies at my feet for not being better prepared for the possibility of shit happening and lightening striking twice in one year, because I have been too busy chasing my own dream of a different kind of success.
I also couldn't argue his points if I wanted to, because my chest was hurting a little and didn't want it to start up again. I hope it's just anxiety. When you don't have health insurance, you roll the dice like that because if you aren't having a heart attack, you will when you get the hospital bill.
In a way, this will sound odd, but I do have some empathy for my landlord. This will probably fly out the window soon at the rate things are going.
Still, he has early stage inoperable lung cancer, but can't afford health insurance, yet earns too much to qualify for medical assistance. He needs his own place where he doesn't have to share the house for income, because temperamentally, he's unfit to live with others. I can see he was an abused child himself but doesn't recognize this because he's too proud of how his daddy didn't take no shit, meaning, abused him. I ain't told him that's my take on it, 'cause I ain't his therapist. Meanwhile, his unfortunate life experiences, decreasing income from the economy and health problem makes him act downright evil, although he sounds like he was an asshole before lung cancer came along.
All of the shit he went through and is going through, and now putting us through, is an indictment of where a variety of social and health systems failed too many Americans. Regardless, he still stinks as a human being, but if you give enough shit to people and don't treat them or their families for their problems, you can't be surprised when some of them turn out to be turds.
As for the new job thing, I had so much hope for a few weeks back, that didn't work out, so I've been back to hitting the pavement, and it's one disappointment after another. It used to be so easy getting social work or mental health gigs, hell, people would ask me to come work for them without me even looking. Shee-it. Not now. Competition is a monster now. I'm actually offended by the groups and agencies who have not called me back. I could run some of those dang places. But nope, they're looking for recent grads who they can pay as little as possible. I'd take that, but not if they don't call me for an interview, ya know?
The last thing Xavier and I talked about in the car was Christmas.
He said, "This is the worst Christmas ever. It doesn't even feel like Christmas. We have nothing."
"That's because you're used to all those great vacations and presents," I said. "We're having a poor Christmas, but it still feels good to me. Our tree and Nativity scene is up. Our living room is pretty. We have a turkey."
He shook his head sadly, like a little kid. "No, it's bad," he said.
"It's not material," I countered, "but neither was the day Jesus was born. A poor Christmas is not the same as a bad Christmas. If Jesus came along now, Joseph and Mary would have been sitting in the welfare office right next to us, applying for emergency housing and cash assistance just like us, so they could get the hell out of that barn. But look at all the good that came from the day Christ was born. That's why Christmas will always be good... unless of course, Rocco totally snaps and kills the dog or me that day. Now that would be a bad Christmas."
I chuckled a laugh; ain't quite lost my sense of humor yet. Xavier, the king of comedy, couldn't muster a smile.
I said, "Somehow the three of us will be fine if we can weather through the next month or two. If I don't find another place, Cassie (my daughter) will make it somewhere with relatives even if I check out of here from a heart attack or violence, or if I have to live temporarily with another relative or even into a shelter. You'll make it too, if you don't give up. But I ain't letting none of this shit ruin my Christmas. Fuck Rocco and being broke, that's my day."
By not blaming him for shit that he already knows he's guilty of, he began to talk a little about where he blew it.
"I have to get a job, Ma, for real. I've wasted too much time. I want to go look right now."
"Uh-huh," I said non-commitally.
"I can't depend on you no more," he added. "You're as bad off as me."
"Yep, that's true. My shoulders broke from all the burdens."
"This can't be happening," he said. "The strongest person in the family has to stay strong."
"I'm sorry, Xavier, even the strongest can only carry so much. There's nothing left to lean on."
Except faith in the Lord and myself, I thought instantly, but did not say.
I'm not sure why; maybe I didn't want to sound too preachy, and maybe this is a truth he has to learn for himself.
True to his word, I watched him apply to several stores when we got back into our neighborhood, and I did too. Yep, I just might end up as a cashier or burger flipper for awhile to get what I need, to get out of this new hell.
Afterwards, I watched him do on the computer what I've been doing super-intensely for the past month - apply online, for hours. That shit is exhausting, and I don't know why, since you're just sitting there filling out forms and answering those stupid psychological questions to determine if you're outgoing, honest and a "team player".
Hell, they ought to just ask if you want to get paid bad enough to show up on time and do what you're told without question, and skip all the bull that anyone with a brain can fudge.
And they can shove that "team player" concept up their azzes. That's just a phoney code phrase for doing what the top dog wants, period. You get the illusion of choices and being on a "team", but it's usually a rigged game, and if you show you have better and smarter ideas, you'll be hated and they'll try to run you out there unless they think you're not a threat to their position, and they can profit from you - often at the expense of business integrity.
I wish Americans would be more genuine with language, but wishes, like dreams, have to go into hybernation when all the things that matter in your soul can't protect you from disasters.
So, if all this ain't trill (true & real) enough for you, have a great Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years anyway!
With affection for you all,
Posted by Kit (Keep It Trill) at 12:01 AM