C’s BIL worked on the set of the HBO series Sharp Objects, and the crew was given free Amazon Echos branded with the HBO Sharp Objects logo. He mentioned he has 2 or 3 he can give us, which made me REALLY excited because I love electronic gadgets, and I was already thinking of spending some of my holiday money to get an Alexa. C. brought home the little Echo Dot yesterday, and after setup, we had so much fun asking it all sorts of questions, many of them downright silly. Surprisingly, Alexa had an answer to almost everything. To complement the little Echo Dots that he’s giving us, I bought one of the taller Alexas to go in the family room. Eventually, I’d like to make it where you can use it like an intercom so we’re not hollering for each other all of the time.
Happily, I have found a new therapist and scheduled my first appointment for late January. Unfortunately, that’s after my current therapist leaves for maternity leave, and she was hoping to have a conversation with the new therapist to fill her in on things. I did ask her two important questions: 1) Do you have experience with OCD? (yes), and 2) Do you have any religious biases that might be problematic as I am dealing with trying to heal from religious trauma? (no). I hope things work out.
C’s helping his sister and BIL move in to live with his mother. She’s 79 and has no social life outside of Facebook. Zero. Her husband, C’s stepfather, died earlier this year, and the two kids have been struggling between them to be her social life and her everything. C’s sister doesn’t work for mental health reasons, and it’s not good for her to be alone, either, so moving in with C’s mom seems to be a good idea for both of them. So tomorrow is the Big Move. The plan is C will head over there whenever he wakes up in the morning. I’ll go order a half-dozen bagels and cream cheese and join them a bit later. I know it’s going to be really stressful for all of them, but I just keep reminding them that the move WILL get done one way or the other, and this will all be history soon.
Mood-wise, I’ve been doing better. I’m not sure if it’s meds or the busyness of the holidays or the excitement of my favorite secular holiday (New Year’s!) coming up, but whatever the reason, I’ve been functioning decently.
Yesterday, C was going to have breakfast with a friend of a friend. When I asked him about it, he was very snappish and said I was asking too many questions. That seemed weird. When he got back, he seemed amped up. The man he had breakfast with is a very successful retired businessman who sold his company for 8 million dollars. I asked him if it was a secret or if he could talk about it, and he agreed to talk. C. paid a something like $80+ breakfast to pick the guy’s brain about all sorts of subjects related to success. I don’t doubt he realized it, but I think he was looking for a spark of something to help give him passion and motivation again. He sounded more positive about life as he related the things they discussed. I’m glad and hope it continues to help him.
I’m sorry to talk about something negative now (I seem to be doing that a lot lately!), but I need to get this off my chest. It’s been a rough night.
C. and I have a mutual friend named D. whom he met in college when they were both studying mechanical engineering. They went on to work together for the same company, and C. said he was very straight-laced back then, even remaining celibate as an adult for some 25 years due to religious beliefs. C. said he’s changed radically over the years and loosed up a lot. He’s brilliant, funny, quick thinking, sensitive, and often kind. His kindness and friendship makes what I’m about to describe all the more difficult.
When I met D. in 2012, he was living in a one-bedroom apartment. Since I met him, he started becoming increasingly free-spirited. He retired, went to Burning Man where he brought substances with him and was offered other substances that he tried. He came home and raved about how beautiful his experiences were and how he grew so much from them. We briefly met a couple of the people he met there, and how do I say this without sounding like a horrible, judgmental person…we did not like the quality of people he was hanging around with. They were users, both of D. and of harder drugs than simply marijuana. We were concerned for D’s wellbeing.
Over the years D. become increasingly eccentric. About two years ago, he asked a friend if he could buy a shed and put it up rent-free behind her home, and she said yes. So he had a concrete foundation poured, and the shed was erected. He calls it his tiny home and has draped it with tie-dyed tapestries. The photos he has sent are really quite beautiful and amazing. His “tiny home” has no running water or indoor plumbing. He pees in a jar and dumps it in a toilet in the house when it’s full. He washes his hands and gets a drink of water from a jug-dispenser thing in his shed.
Since I met him, he has been involved with a few road rage incidents, one with me in the car. I was terrified. He was angry when a woman cut in front of him, so he deliberately bumped her car, then got out and gave her false information. I was afraid and sick as it all unfolded. I couldn’t believe he’d done it. At home, C. talked with him and told him it was a felony, yet D. kind of dismissed it. He also has very real, valid chronic pain issues, and when he got upset at a doctor’s office, he put his fist through the wall and left.
Since those incidents, he addressed his issues with opioid dependency for his chronic pain, which we really weren’t aware were as bad as they were. He weaned himself off of the opiates and was much less aggressive both on the road and off.
Over the years, he’s also started increasingly talking about conspiracy theories, “evidence” in Genesis of aliens mating with humans, specific types of aliens that have been on earth, psychic phenomena, and so-called near-death experiences. He wrote a book mostly about near-death experiences (regretfully proofread by me). He’s also given a lot of money to a guy who calls himself a spiritual counselor or psychic or something, and that guy told D. that he’s psychic. So D. has grown in his belief that he has a psychic gift. The result is that he is constantly talking about his “vibes.” It’s extremely annoying. He’ll randomly “read” strangers or salespeople, and the stuff will be ridiculous, like a woman will say she’s a nurse, to which he’ll reply, “You’re also a very responsible person. You have children, don’t you? Yes, I thought so. You love your daughter a lot, but oh, she’s a handful sometimes!” Well, what nurse ISN’T responsible? And moms usually love their kids.
D. has admitted that he has mental illness, and his brother is committed to a mental hospital. He once asked C. to let him know if he sounded like he was ever getting carried away with things. That time came long ago, and we talked with him, but it fell on deaf ears. He is very resistant to help, feeling like others are trying to control him. It makes it difficult, if not impossible, to help him.
Things have become increasingly uncomfortable in our relationship with him to where it’s hanging by a thread. C. has asked him to stop constantly swearing in our home; we’re not uptight, but we also don’t want to hear it frequently. C. has also said we don’t want to hear about his drug use or some of the
colorful skanky people he’s hanging out with, either. He often makes sexually inappropriate comments, to which I’ve been saying very forcefully “TMI, D.”
His behavior has been annoying C. for a long time to the point that he becomes quiet and moody, refuses to join us when we go out to eat, retreats to the bedroom to leave me to talk with D. alone in the family room. To make things worse, D., then counsels ME with things like, “Well, you may not have noticed, and I want to offer this kindly, but what you said back there really made C feel diminished as a man, and as you can see, he’s been quiet since and has retreated to his room.” And I’m caught in the middle of this insanity. I bit the bullet last time and told D. that his talking about his vibes is really upsetting C. and that that’s why he’s behaving this way. I asked him not to talk about them around him. That was the visit before tonight.
We had scheduled a get-together for Friday. Knowing C. is so stressed, I thought this was an especially bad time for them to get together. He’s supposed to come over for New Year’s Eve, so I called and told him that I thought it was best we cancel until then. That way the big move will be over (C. is helping his sister and BIL move into his mom’s house), and C’s stress level will be lower. He said fine. Then today he asked to come over anyway. I told C. that we shouldn’t say yes because it was a boundary I set and that I didn’t think it was a good idea, but he said to go ahead and invite him over. So I did. Once again, there was tension, and this time even more than usual. C. got moody. D was oblivious, made a couple of sexually inappropriate comments, swore, talked about his vibes despite having told me last time that he wouldn’t any longer. We were all going to go to lunch, and when D. stepped out to take a walk, C. said loudly, “You go. I’ll go with you, but I’m not going with D.” I shushed him. I told him that I had said this wasn’t a good time to get together, yet he had insisted. He admitted I had been right. He said, “I want him out of my house.” Great. Now what?
So I told him that it’s time this is addressed. I can’t deal with the tension anymore, and I’m tired of being the middleman who tries to cover for the awkwardness and repair the angry and hurt feelings. It’s stressing me out, and I won’t do it anymore. So we agreed that I’d go to lunch with D. and talk about all of it first, and then we’d all talk together. I asked C. to be tactful and keep his anger in check. Then I took some Xanax and headed to lunch.
At lunch, D. said that he could tell something was on my mind. Yep. He said or asked something like whether C. was upsetting me or we were having problems with our relationship. I just looked down and stayed quiet. It is SO hard for me to confront anyone and be so honest, but then I somehow was, and I told him everything that’s upsetting C. He acted like he was fine with things and said that they’ll talk and maybe he’ll find he can’t come to the house anymore, and that will be okay.
When we got home, the guys started to talk about picking out a movie, but D. said he’d have to leave before long. I turned the TV off and said we needed to address the elephant in the room. Things started off okay. D. naturally got a bit defensive at times, making some points that I absolutely agreed with. Then things started getting heated. C’s got a temper and goes from 0 to 100 fast, so I had to ask that they take it down a notch, and they nodded and did. Once again, I was right smack-dab in the middle, playing referee.
D. was under the impression that all of this was an issue between C. and him, and at one point said to me, “Do you not want to hear about my vibes anymore, either?” And I paused a moment and said, “No, I really don’t” and talked briefly and gently about why. I could see him pull back into himself. A wall went up. He viewed me differently. It was as if I had joined the “other” side even though I didn’t want there to be any sides. Shortly thereafter, he said, “So what you’re saying is that you want a break from me.” We said that neither one of us had said that. I think he was projecting: He is hurt and wants a break from us.
At the end, he said he needed to leave, and I asked him to please stay a little longer and let us know things that bother him about us and that we need to work on. He was quiet a moment, made some small joke, and said he’d have to talk about it some other time. Avoidant?
The talk with him, both alone and with C., was very difficult. For once, I was brave and authentic, tactful, honest, kind, and thorough. I guess I’m proud of myself in that regard, but I feel no joy. The friend I used to know has changed. It’s growing increasingly clear that we probably need to break ties with him or at least set some very firm boundaries, and then if/when he doesn’t respect them again, that will have to be the end.
We had previously scheduled that he would come over on New Year’s Eve, but I’m thinking that he will cancel. Maybe that is for the best.
How do you let go when it’s someone you know needs help, yet you know you can’t help them enough? I feel guilty, like I’m abandoning him, but we’ve tried to help him for a long time now. There’s no other way we can think of to help him, and he’s not respecting our boundaries. He lives alone in a shed. I know he’s not happy. Will he be okay?
And will I be okay losing one of the only friends I have, however damaged he may be?
And as I finished typing that last sentence, he canceled our New Year’s Eve plans. I can’t stop crying. I know I have done nothing wrong and that we had to have this conversation, but I am so sad.