Tag Archives: Dandette

Hard times

Our oldest cat (I think I called him Grumpus in an earlier post) seems like he might be on his way out. He hasn’t been eating or drinking and he just…has a really miserable look in his eyes. The Dandy decided we needed to take Grumpus to the emergency vet tonight and see if he’s salvageable or what. He figured if we waiting til tomorrow to make an appointment it might be too late. I should add that The Dandy has seen four or five other cats off to the next world so he’s pretty fine tuned to the signs at this point.

So off we went. But Grumpus was originally The Dandy and Dandette’s cat; he arrived from a previous home about eight years ago, hating all women on sight for reasons we don’t know (we assume the woman in his previous house abused him), and Dandette rehabilitated him over the course of years and now he’s just calm and friendly with everyone. I kind of hate Dandette but I think she deserves to know her cat is ailing, and to come say goodbye if it comes to that. I suggested The Dandy text her and let her know the situation.

I accompanied The Dandy and Grumpus to the vet for emotional support, and while we were waiting to be seen, Dandette texted The Dandy back saying she’d be there by around 9pm. “How much do you need me to be here when she’s here?” I asked The Dandy. He told me I could bolt if I needed to. And at about 8:45, that’s what I did. If he’d asked me to stay, I would have (and felt barfy the entire time) but he didn’t. I hope he didn’t let me go solely for my benefit and later he’ll be resentful that I didn’t read his mind and stay.

So I went home, and like ten minutes after I got here, The Dandy got back, too (he drove, I took public transit, so he’s faster). He shut Grumpus in the kitchen with some food and water (isolating him so we could better tell if he’d eaten anything; Bastardcat will eat Grumpus’ food if he can get to it), then told me that Dandette was downstairs having a smoke and he was going to drive her home and in the process pick up my blanket and DVD that she’d taken with her when she left.

It’s only right that she be kept informed about Grumpus’ failing health and come be with him if she needs to, and I don’t begrudge The Dandy driving her home after. But for the record I hate that this crisis required Dandette and The Dandy to spend time together and I hate that they no doubt fell into an easy old pattern of relating to each other and reminisced about old times and all that crap. And/or she (understandably) burst into tears about Grumpus and The Dandy felt obligated to comfort her through hugs and god knows what other measures. They have a long history. A lot of it is shitty but it’s still a lot longer than what The Dandy and I have, and against all odds, she and he seem like they’re still comfortable around each other. I mean, he’d even been debating remaining friends with her. More recently he seemed off the idea but now that fate forced them together again who the fuck knows what he’ll think.

Meh. I started writing this entry a few hours ago and then got sidetracked. The Dandy is home now, and he has my blanket and DVD – huzzah! The only thing I asked him about Dandette is whether she tried to seduce him so he’d admit he was wrong to let her go, and invite her back into the fold. He said she didn’t. I didn’t ask anything else about their time together; now is the time to gloss over that shit and focus on helping him through the emotional turmoil of his cat probably dying. I just kinda needed to know if they’d ended up having ill-advised makeouts.

 

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Last night The Dandy checked his text messages and said “Dandette is asking about getting some of her stuff this weekend. She also wants me to come see her new place, which I have no interest in at all, obviously.”

“Why would that be obvious to me?” I asked. “Just the other day you implied that you wanted her in your life in some capacity.”

“I flip-flop,” The Dandy said. “I mean I was thinking of trying to be friends, but now that I know she’s been making up some story in her head that I’m gonna break up with you and I’ll ask her to come back…ugh, that’s just too much crazy.”

TBH I rather suspected that this would happen. The Dandy was with her for around seven years, held prisoner by her anxiety attacks and suicide threats, and probably got a big ol’ case of Stockholm Syndrome. I think he feels guilt at the relationship failing, or at not being able to save or fix Dandette. I think he’s beginning to realize how fucked up and abusive things between them actually were. But I also think he’s resisting seeing her as just a flat-out awful person because that would mean he was stupid enough not only to fall for an awful person, but to invest seven years in her*. So it probably soothes his pride to pretend that she’s great and the two of them just aren’t compatible as lovers but can still be friends. I don’t think this will be the last time he flip-flops about this. I anticipate a rough ride for the next six months to a year where he vacillates wildly between trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and realizing that he dodged a bullet.

And I’m sorry, I know I’m harping on this yet again, but it still BUGS THE SHIT OUT OF ME that the things Dandette has done to me don’t factor into any of this. He fully understands that what she did to me was sexual assault; he calls it what it is and doesn’t try to minimize it. He also knows that the thing where she jokingly threatened me with the sword was inappropriate – in this case he was the one who said it first to me because AnxietyBrain was making me feel like I might be upset over nothing. He said every kind of training with a deadly weapon will always tell you never to point it at someone unless you actually do intend to hurt them, and that threatening me with it was not at all acceptable, especially since I’m a layman with no idea how sharp it was or anything. For all I knew, the thing could have sliced my arm open. And he said it was just a ridiculously childish and inappropriate way to act in front of his mom.  So he knows that these are bad things that happened.

If someone I was close to sexually assaulted my partner and then – on another occasion – knowingly did a thing that drove them into a huge panic attack (let alone all the other, more insidious shit Dandette did to both of us!) I would be angry at them for it. I would yell at them for it and then I wouldn’t want to hang out with them anymore. And yet…here we are.

And I know The Dandy was an abuse victim, too, so his head is probably all screwed up and I have to try to be gentle with him. But I don’t know how to stop being angry about this. I’ve been in abusive relationships with people who terrified me; I’ve had such low self-esteem that I thought I deserved to be treated badly; but even through all of that, if someone threatened someone I loved, my usual terror would evaporate and I’d fill with rage and step in to defend my loved one. My dad (who was abusive and scared me shitless) screamed at the family dog once for no good reason and I got between them and said “DON’T YOU DARE YELL AT HER. SHE DIDN’T EVEN DO ANYTHING. STOP IT.” I was probably eight or nine years old at the time, confronting a grown man who I knew could throw me through a fucking wall if he wanted to. But I did it.

And at this point, Dandette has moved out. I don’t need The Dandy to reprimand her for things she’s done to me (although I wish he had). I don’t need him to intervene when she’s in the middle of doing something terrible to me (though I wish he had). I just want him to not be pals with her. I want him to not talk to her except to work out the practical details of her picking up the rest of her stuff. I want him not to say yes to going for drinks with her. And most of the time he can’t manage to do even that.

 

*I don’t think he’s stupid for not seeing the red flags, or for getting so caught up in his and Dandette’s fucked-up relationship that he didn’t know it was fucked up anymore. Abusers and manipulators are subtle about it; they lure you in under false pretenses; that’s kinda their whole schtick. It’s not The Dandy’s fault for being a normal, trusting person. But I think victims of abuse do tend to blame themselves for it.

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A weird but nice visit.

Boyfriendish – Dandette’s…ambiguous friend/dating person who is now definitely no longer dating her – came over for a visit the other night, by his own request.

I believe that he and The Dandy had run in the same social circle for a while, years before either of them knew Dandette, and then when Boyfriendish and Dandette hooked up and she told The Dandy about it he was like “Oh! Ha! I used to know that guy!” and of course sometimes Dandette would have Boyfriendish over and The Dandy was around and they’d talk some. And Boyfriendish and The Dandy did go out for drinks after Dandette’s exodus to kind of talk that over so Boyfriendish could separate fact from Dandette’s specific brand of fiction. But I thought that was the extent of any kind of friendship there. So when Boyfriendish asked if we wanted to hang out, I was surprised. Was this an interest in being actual friends rather than just acquaintances connected via Dandette, or was he looking to process Dandette-related trauma with people who get it?

For the first couple hours he was here, we talked about just stuff in general. But when Dandette’s name eventually did come up, it’s like the floodgates opened – first for Boyfriendish and then we followed suit.

I’m getting an even creepier picture of Dandette now than before. Boyfriendish says that Dandette recently visited the guy who lives next door to us (I know that part to be true) and reported back to Boyfriendish: “Neighbour says he hears Cowgirl and The Dandy having screaming fights all the time. I bet they’ll break up and he’ll beg to take me back. I’ll end up living there again – you’ll see!”

The Dandy and I don’t have screaming fights all the time. Or, like, ever – unless you count my low blood-sugar rage that one time, and that was just a brief tantrum on my side only. And I rather suspect that the neighbour never claimed we did fight; Dandette’s story sounds entirely contrived and creepy and delusional. There is a couple near us who has screaming fights (sounds like it’s coming from above us somewhere) and I wonder if the neighbour said something about that and Dandette chose to assume it must be us. I mean surely we’d fall to pieces without her occasional lacklustre housework efforts, right? We never fought when she was living with us but that’s gotta be because she was the glue holding the household together.

But here’s a thing that bugged me: Boyfriendish said “I don’t know if you know this, but Dandette referred to the two of you as being her partners when you all lived together” – like, clearly believing that this was another delusion of hers – and The Dandy didn’t correct him. I figured The Dandy must have his reasons for not saying anything, so I didn’t clarify anything, either. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Dandette is all kinds of fucked in the head and it would be easy to make up all kinds of stuff to add to the pile of red flags; people would believe it, and maybe even she would become confused if confronted about it because she seems to struggle with knowing what’s real. I don’t want to do that to her. There’s enough shit she actually did that we don’t need to invent any.

Later, I asked The Dandy why he didn’t say anything when Boyfriendish said that thing about Dandette being deluded that we were partners.* He hesitated and said “Did she and I ever get back together, though? Or did she just assume it?” And at the time I was like “Ha! OMG good point” because she did just assume it. What actually happened was that I basically said “Hey, theoretically speaking, if you and The Dandy were to get back together and he dated me, too, how would you handle it if he wasn’t in the mood for sex, or wanted it with me and not you? Because I know you have a history of using sex for validation.” She never did answer the fucking question, but a few days later I overheard her telling someone on the phone that she and The Dandy were back together.

So she did assume. BUT. She also repeatedly referred to herself as The Dandy’s girlfriend, and to him as having two girlfriends, right to his face a thousand times without him saying anything to correct her. They had sex. We openly talked about all getting commitment rings for each other. We all came out to our parents about our living situation. The Dandy really can’t take the tack that Dandette was mistaken about our arrangement. So again I’m wondering why he didn’t say anything to Boyfriendish to correct his misunderstanding of things.

Anyway, I say it was a confusing visit because I was hearing things about Dandette from these two different perspectives – and I had my own – and usually we were all kind of on the same page but sometimes we weren’t.

And the thing is, The Dandy did lie to me, once, when he failed to inform me that he and Dandette were having sex again. Dandette was the one who told me they’d been fucking while he and I were broken up and that he’d dumped her again shortly after (but not right after) I came back into the picture. And when I confronted The Dandy about this, it turned out to be true. Honestly if that hadn’t happened I think things would have gone very, very differently with the three of us. I’d seen red flags in Dandette and distrusted her and wanted her out of The Dandy’s apartment and life. But I’m guessing she realized this and embarked on a manipulation campaign to be super nice to me and gain my trust so she wouldn’t lose her meal ticket, and by fortuitous accident The Dandy had violated my trust, which shifted my loyalties considerably. Suddenly she looked like the good one and he looked…not so great. And it made me question everything that had gone before.

So The Dandy lied to me by omission that time, and then The Dandy lied by omission to Boyfriendish the other night by not saying “Oh, we did get back together; that was real.”

So like, Boyfriendish said to The Dandy “Dandette says she’s been texting you a bunch, asking when she can get the rest of her stuff back, and you haven’t replied.”

My automatic reaction – I guess because The Dandy has that small history of lying to me and because he tends to hide from shit he doesn’t want to deal with – was to say to The Dandy “I didn’t know that! You gave me the impression she wasn’t saying anything to you about getting her stuff and that we’d have to push the issue.”

The Dandy said “She sent me one text, and it was about returning some stuff of ours that she took by accident. But yeah, I haven’t responded.”

And I thought shit, that’s right, Dandette tends to spin her own version of things. It’s totally possible that she hasn’t been asking about her stuff but she’s telling Boyfriendish that she did in order to make us look bad. But is that really what’s happening? Or is The Dandy lying?

Boyfriendish, meanwhile, is telling us that he never, ever told Dandette that the two of them were boyfriend/girlfriend – that if she ever thought that, it’s because she made it up herself. And…maybe? But they were hanging out and having sex. They were going on LARP weekends together and sleeping in the same bed. He emotionally supported and comforted her through her mental crises of various kinds. Perhaps he never thought of them as dating, but it sure sounds like they did dating-type things (unless Dandette was even lying about that…) so if she was under the impression they were an item, I don’t actually think that’s so crazy.

We got to talking about the sexual assault and Dandette’s general need to have everyone she knows fuck her in order to confirm her value as a human being. Boyfriendish mentioned that the time he came over and Dandette ended up getting drunk, she went into “fuck me fuck me fuck me” mode and he had to be like “whoa, back off, we’re not doing this.” But I was there that day and once Boyfriendish left I asked Dandette if she’d had a nice time with him and she smugly said “I got my cunt rubbed.”

Boyfriendish, as I have mentioned, is poly. He’s married and up until recently he had a long-term girlfriend, as well – the girlfriend broke up with him, though, because she felt threatened by how close he and Dandette were getting. Well, no, not exactly. She felt threatened by how close he and Dandette were getting and told him to please back off her a bit but he didn’t do it (they did ease off on sexual stuff, but apparently that was Dandette’s idea – both Dandette and Boyfriendish’s now-ex girlfriend corroborate this). Then when Dandette left our apartment forevaaaaaar, she went to Boyfriendish’s place for refuge and he didn’t tell the gf immediately. When she found out, that’s what triggered her to break up with him.

I know most of this because I friended the gf on FB and we compared notes about Dandette, like, a bunch. One thing she said about Boyfriendish is that he has a hard time saying no.

So did Boyfriendish get all affronted by Dandette’s drunken come-ons that time and ward her off? Or did he give her a hand job to shut her up? Or give her a hand job because he wanted to, even, and his interest overrode the fact that his gf wouldn’t have wanted him to? Did the “cunt rubbing” happen only in Dandette’s mind, and if so, was it a deliberate lie she told me or is it a thing she’s choosing to actually believe?

Dandette legitimately does seem to rewrite history with her own special spin on it. But The Dandy and Boyfriendish both have a vested interest in pretending that they saw her red flags the whole time and didn’t get sucked in that much. So whose perspective do I trust?

Anyway, in happier news, although Boyfriendish seems pretty done being friends with Dandette, he says he’d willing to help her get the rest of her stuff out of here or to act as a sort of intermediary in the negotiations that will probably have to happen re: the general severing of her from our household. So that’s cool.

 

 

*Arguably, she and I were not partners, only she and The Dandy. We didn’t date, we didn’t fuck. But we did expressly agree – at one point before shit hit the fan, when I thought she was a more stable and good person – to be platonic lifemate-type people. I told her once that even though she and I weren’t fucking, I still kind of thought of us as a triad. It’s not crazy of her to talk about us both as partners.

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Comparisons.

The prospect of The Dandy possibly fucking someone else got us talking about poly stuff in general. He’d told me once that sometimes he does get uncomfortable with me seeing other people but he just doesn’t make a big thing about it. I reminded him of that and asked him what sorts of things make him feel insecure. He said he thinks the thing that would get to him most would be if he saw me with someone. Like, making out and stuff. He’s hung out with me and The Pedant, and with me and that cutie who briefly visited me from the ‘States a while back, but I kept a respectful semi-distance from those boys out of consideration for The Dandy.

Him saying it would make him feel weird to see me kissing someone else somewhat filled me with rage because, y’know…I got an eyeful of Dandette sucking his dick on a bunch of different occasions and I was never comfortable with that. So I’m kinda ragey that I’ve had to deal with all that crap and meanwhile he’s like “eeek, I wouldn’t be comfortable witnessing this thing many levels less intense than what I exposed you to.” But, I mean, it’s not like The Dandy told me not to make out with anyone else near him or that he couldn’t ever deal with it. Perhaps if it came up he’d power through it just like I did with Dandette. Part of my rage here is also that I did power through the weirdness instead of tactfully leaving the two of them alone when she started doing sexual stuff to him. Just – a lot of poly stuff was scary and awkward at first and I got over it by going through it. And I thought seeing The Dandy being so intimate with another partner might be one of those things I could get used to, so I tried. But it might simply be one of my limits.  Or at least a limit where Dandette in particular is concerned. Her undertone of exhibition poisoned a lot of things for me that I think would have been okay in a different context. Her blowjobs had a smug, competitive air to them. They felt like a challenge leveled at me.

I told The Dandy most of this – how I can’t really tell ahead of time if a scary poly thing is a limit or if I just need to get used to it and then it’ll be fine, so I watched Dandette giving blowjobs a few times but was never at all comfortable and wish I hadn’t. And I explained that while it is a valid thing to try a thing and see if it gets easier, there’s also a lot of cultural conditioning for women to be The Cool Girl who’s easygoing and up for anything and blah blah blah – and I wonder how much that played into my decisions.

The Dandy asked me what I meant by “The Cool Girl.” I said, y’know, a woman who’s adventurous and up for sex all the time and willing to do all kinds of porny things. Someone who’s just fun and doesn’t have a lot of needs of her own and doesn’t complain.

I’m still PMSing, btw, but it seems to have taken a turn from rage into melancholy and illogical insecurity.

I explained to The Dandy that I keep telling myself that Dandette – his partner who was an exhibitionist and would fuck him at sex parties and was all “You don’t have to use condoms with me! I have an IUD!” and who loved to give blowjobs and could deepthroat and was into receiving needle play and who apparently literally has a come fetish – is no longer in his life and I’m still here, but it’s hard to make it sink in and I worry that I’m boring. The Dandy smiled and petted me, comfortingly.

“Okay, so let’s try this,” I said. “Can you tell me some things you get from sex with me that you didn’t with Dandette?”

“Orgasms,” The Dandy said.

“…I…I know you didn’t usually get her off, but I’m talking about things that were missing for you. You had orgasms with her.”

“I came,” The Dandy corrected me.

Ohhhhhhh!” I said, realizing what he meant.

“Yeah. I jizzed, but that’s it. No actual orgasms.”

“Right, right…I knew that those are two different things, but most guys use the different terms interchangeably. What else?”

The Dandy thought for a minute. “You’re present, in body and mind.”

I had started this conversation to hear good things about sex with me, not to get any kind of visual in my head of The Dandy fucking Dandette, so I didn’t pursue that topic. The obvious implication is that her mind was usually elsewhere when they had sex; I’m pretty sure The Dandy would say it’s because sex for her was usually about validation, not about her actually desiring him; no need to ask clarifying questions that would get both of us imagining the shitty sex more than we needed to.

“Okay,” I said. “One more and then I’m gonna try to forcibly get my mind onto a different track because I think I’m starting to pointlessly obsess.”

The Dandy thought some more and said “You actually notice whether I’m enjoying myself. Yeah, Dandette was enthusiastic, but she never paid any attention to what I liked. It felt like she just did whatever she felt like doing.”

“Oh god, I haaaaate when someone is enthusiastic in bed but totally ignores what I want,” I said. “I always thought that was more of a guy thing.”

“I mean sure, she could deep-throat me, but…meh.” The Dandy made a dismissive gesture indicating either that deep-throating doesn’t do it for him or that she did it in a way that didn’t feel especially good.

So today I learned that:

1) The Dandy has orgasms with me and didn’t with Dandette*

2) When The Dandy and I have sex I’m actually into it, whereas Dandette was perhaps just going through the motions.

3) I’m just flat-out better in bed.

This pleases me. And boy oh boy do I love knowing that those expansive, free-float, giggly orgasms The Dandy sometimes has are specific to me (at least for now) and he doesn’t just do that for anyone. And the deeper implication there is probably that he feels safer with me – or more attracted or more in love or all three – than he did with Dandette and that’s why he can let go so thoroughly with me.

Well now I’m turned on. I’m gonna go ambush him.

 

*At least not this most recent time they dated; I assume maybe when they were first falling for each other and he didn’t know how fucked up she is, shit might have been better.

 

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Ugh

On Monday, my back started hurting. Like literally I was standing by The Dandy’s computer chair, saying goodbye to him because I was about to go to work, and suddenly I got stabbing paints in my lower back. Which is exactly what you need right before going to pose for an art class for three hours. 😛

The pain did get better in increments over the next couple of days, but it’s Saturday now and there’s still something there. Not exactly pain. More like…constant, uncomfortable lower-back pressure and a feeling of impending doom. And it’s freaking me out.

Last night I figured maybe the back issues were a manifestation of anxiety, and tried to figure out what I could be stressing out about. My living situation – with Dandette gone – is great. My financial situation is comfortable and I’m able to have a lot more days off than I did when I lived on my own. My romantic relationships are good.

I asked The Dandy – as we lay snuggled in bed – what he thought it might be and he ran through the same list and came up empty, like I did.

Then I remembered a nightmare I had recently: Dandette was visiting for some reason. She walked into the living room barefoot, freaking out and in pain with her toes bubbling and sizzling from some sort of chemical burn; she’d somehow managed to do this to herself while painting her toenails. She said she needed one of us to pour nail polish remover over her feet to stop the burning. I was like “…I feel like that’s counterintuitive though…?” but The Dandy rushed to her aid. I, meanwhile, left to hang out in my bedroom, only to find that Dandette had been doing her pedicure thing in there and left bubbling, smoking puddles of caustic liquid all over the floor. I came back out again and confronted her: I yelled, “You can’t just pour toxic shit all over the place. That’s my room now. YOU DON’T LIVE HERE.” Her face crumpled and she started having a full-on panic attack over me daring to point that out. I sensed that this was entirely faked for The Dandy’s benefit, and indeed he did hover around her all concerned and shit. I went and tried to barricade myself in my room to be rid of her but the room suddenly had a sliding glass door leading to a patio, and also a bunch of windows on several walls, and none of them had curtains or functioning locks.  I was running around trying to secure them before Dandette could try to peer in at me or even climb right in.

So I surmised that something about Dandette was bugging me and making my back seize up, and I said to The Dandy “Tell me again how once she gets the rest of her stuff she’ll be out of our lives and you’ll never talk to her again?” – because he did say that to me, once, completely unprovoked.

And The Dandy paused. And my brain and body flooded with dread. And he said “Well, I don’t know if I want to cut her out of my life entirely…”

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

I asked him what benefit there would be to continuing to have any sort of contact with her. He went silent. I waited and waited and still nothing. Fine, I guess this is one of those things where he needs to ruminate on it a while. In the meantime I riffed about how angry I was – like WTF would it take for him to cut ties with this asshole? If she’d actually stabbed me with the sword instead of just playfully poking me, would that be enough for him to maybe not want to associate with her? Or would nothing she could do ever be enough to actually put him off? Also, this “well I don’t have to cut her off completely!” thing reminded me uncomfortably of the time my ex-husband realized (for like the twentieth time) that his drinking was ruining his life, and when I said he ought to stop he was like “Well I don’t have to stop entirely! I could have one every now and then!” No, he couldn’t – that’s why booze was ruining his life – and also, how creepy and sad that he was so desperate to cling to this thing that he consciously recognized was totally fucking him up. The Dandy was reminding me of that right now; it feels as though Dandette is some kind of destructive addiction for him.

And I said that if he insists on hanging out with her sometimes then that means that either he needs to keep that entirely secret from me – and I’d hate to have secrets between us – or else I’d be traumatized on a regular basis, because if I wasn’t clear before, her actions toward me have gotten me to a point where THE SIGHT OF HER FUCKING FACE MADE ME WANT TO VOMIT and I unfollowed her on Facebook weeks before she moved out because every time her profile picture popped up in my feed my brain went into fight-or-flight mode. Hearing about her or thinking about her makes me woozy. So I’m not really up for The Dandy just casually mentioning that he went for a drink with her or whateverthefuck. I want her out of my life and thoughts, permanently and entirely.

He tried to reassure me by saying that hey, they are broken up, at least; he has no romantic interest in her and she’ll never live here again.

“I honestly don’t want to keep bringing this up and rubbing it in your face,” I said, “buttttt…you do have a history of lying about your involvement with Dandette and your feelings for her. You led me to believe that the two of you had been broken up for years, there was nothing between you, you were basically siblings, when in fact you’d been fucking her just three months prior. A while later, you insisted again that you had no feelings for her, but I got such a strong vibe of chemistry between you, and when I said you might as well go ahead and date her again if you wanted to, you did. So why would I believe you now when you say your feelings toward her are only friendly? There’s an established pattern of that not being true.”

Again he went silent. I let it go (well, not in my head. But I let the thread of the conversation go). I cried a bunch and he held me. And sometime during the crying I realized where my anxiety lies.

It’s that Dandette still has a bunch of her stuff here and has made no plans to come get it. It feels like a power play: she knows The Dandy won’t be enough of a hardass to throw her shit out, at least not anytime soon. In leaving stuff here she seems like she’s keeping her foot in the door (having an excuse in her back pocket to see The Dandy one last time, even if he doesn’t want to – to what end, I don’t know). Or maybe she’s just fucking with us by taking up our space – same principle as writing “tried to kill myself twice” on The Dandy’s BIRTHDAY CAKE last year – she’s inserting herself into our lives even when she can’t physically be present.

I said to The Dandy that I’d probably feel better if we had a timeline on her getting the rest of her stuff. Doesn’t have to be crazy fast – it can be six months from now, if need be. But I need a time limit; I need a “get your stuff by [date] or we’re disposing of it” ultimatum in place.

The Dandy pointed out that a bunch of her stuff isn’t actually packed up, though, so really we need to do that first or else this bullshit will drag on forever in bits and pieces. Better to have a neat pile of boxes in the corner of the living room that she can just take and go and that’s the end of it. Fine. Fair. Let’s make packing a priority, then. The Dandy said that the main thing is packing up all her various little tchotchkes and whatnot, and since he works full time and I have a looser schedule, maybe I could do it. Which annoyed me because I don’t know which pieces of brick-a-brack are hers. I’ve packed up everything in her room already but there’s a ton of nerdy figurines and action figures and shit in the living room – but she and The Dandy are both nerds and both kinda hoarders so how the fuck do I know which items are whose?

Anyway, I’m glad I got to the root of my anxiety, but it didn’t make my back stop hurting so I guess this really is a purely physical thing.

And I’m annoyed all over again because tonight I started angsting over whether this might be an actual spine problem and not a muscle thing. I asked The Dandy if he would Google what a slipped disc looks like and then take a close look at my back, just to make sure. The next time I passed by his room, I noticed he was looking at a web page with a diagram of a human pelvis and some arrows pointing to the tailbone and I thought “Oh cool, he’s actually helping.” But when I asked “are you learning some things about pelvises and tailbones?” he chuckled and said “it’s amazing the weird things that come up when you’re reading about medieval history.”

I was like “…Ah. And here I thought you were actually Googling spinal things like I’d asked. I didn’t want to do it myself because when you look up medical stuff on the internet, there are always alarmist blogs and whatnot that come up and my anxiety would have a field day and I’d probably convince myself I was dying. I wanted someone calm and sensible to parse out the real information from the scary stuff for me. But hey, learning about shit that happened hundreds of years ago is obviously just as important as my physical well-being, so I guess I’ll leave you to it.”

And I stormed off to my room to angry-type this blog entry.

A little while ago he came in and petted my head soothingly and told me that he’s not trying to downplay the pain I’m in or anything but his understanding is that a slipped disc is a huuuuge damn deal that will incapacitate someone, and I seem too functional for that. Okay, that’s probably fair.

I said though that he needs to understand that my fellow art models (the ones who’ve been doing it a decade or longer, anyway) have all grimly told me that the job dooms everyone to chronic pain eventually – back pain in particular gets mentioned a lot. And from what I can tell, I work a lot more than most models do (or I did, anyway, when I lived on my own and my expenses were so high). And I’m middle aged and my body was never especially robust or good at healing itself, anyway. So I have pretty legit fears.

I also pointed out that maybe I just power through extreme pain better than most people. Like okay I do think if I had an actual slipped disc it would probably hurt too much for me to walk around or work or anything. But the fact of the matter is that after a couple of decades of my mom dismissing any sort of discomfort I ever felt, I’m convinced that I’m a faker; I always tell myself that whatever pain I’m in is probably not that bad, and I’m too embarrassed by what a stupid drama queen wuss I am to actually say anything or stop doing whatever painful thing I’m doing.

I did a pose at work, once, with a string of Christmas lights playfully wrapped around me. This was my idea. I thought it would be cute. Two of the bulbs were sandwiched between my ribcage and the floor, and became first uncomfortably hot, then excruciating, like to a point where sensations like “hot” no longer have any meaning and it’s just my skin screaming and my brain filling with panic chemicals. I often count off the time in my head when I pose, even if I’ve set my timer, and I can tell you that when things got to the excruciating point, I was about two minutes in. I told myself, though, that it probably wasn’t that bad. They were mini-lights, ffs; you touch those and they feel warm at best*. I was probably just being stupid. And I held the pose until the end – eighteen more minutes. And when I got up I saw that the Christmas bulbs had blistered my skin.

So yeah. Ironically, years of my mother telling me I’m a wuss who can’t deal with pain turned me into someone who can lie there serenely smiling for twenty minutes while getting second-degree burns. This happened shortly before Christmas of 2016 and there are still visible scars.

My point being that The Dandy can’t necessarily judge my health by how incapacitated I seem because I have a tendency to push myself inhumanly hard.

Oh and by the way, two days ago I was on the bus to work and it was standing room only and I hurt my right arm trying not to get flung when we went around a corner really fast. I feel like I tore my triceps or something; when I do certain things with the arm I get huge, shooting pains. So that’s going on in addition to my back constantly feeling under pressure/borderline pain.

I’m thoroughly pissed off at my body right now. And I’ll probably have to have a few more talks with The Dandy about why the fuck he still wants to be in contact with Dandette. And I’m afraid there won’t really be any resolution on that.

 

*Of course, touching a mini-bulb and pinning it between your skin and the floor so the heat has nowhere to go are two very different things. As I found out.

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Monster

I do think I’m wired differently from most people when it comes to relationships. I’m really glad I am – it’s an excellent survival skill – but yeah, when someone fucks me over enough times I’m just…done with them. My feelings cut off. Whereas I know so many other people who maintain relationships with toxic family or friends – people who don’t seem to contribute anything worthwhile to their lives – but it seems to hurt them to think of cutting those toxic people off.

In The Dandy’s case he seems to be ready to cut Dandette out of his life, but he still cares if she lives or dies, and that concept is…foreign to me. Like I guess he’s known for ages that he didn’t want her in his life anymore, but he didn’t drop the hammer because he was so afraid that if he tried to disentangle himself from her, it would drive her to kill herself. I still think her suicide threats were emotional manipulation rather than genuine threats, but even if she meant it, and did it…well, she’d be out of his life, right? So, problem solved. I really haven’t been able to care about her being alive since the sword thing, if not sooner.

I told The Dandy all of this. I was a little afraid he’d be horrified by me and not want to be with me anymore. But no, he said that he didn’t think I was wired that differently per se, just maybe my cutoff point with people is immediate and abrupt whereas for other people things taper off gradually.

Interesting concept. I thought about this and, no, my process of distancing myself from Dandette did happen in stages. My feelings first began to die when it became clear that Dandette would only be snuggly on her terms; she felt free to come and glom onto me anytime she wanted and expect me to drop everything if I was in the middle of something, but if I initiated, sometimes she liked it and other times she’d freak the fuck out and rebuff me and it was hard to tell ahead of time which it would be. I’m not saying this was something she was actively doing to me (although increasingly I do wonder how much of her “anxiety” was a dramatic performance); it was probably anxiety and PTSD and stuff making her hate being touched some days. But nonetheless, I didn’t feel safe expressing affection with her, so that was the first nail in the coffin.

Then there was the time she had an anxiety attack when we were out and insisted on going home on her own – and went into such a fugue state that she arrived barefoot with no memory of how she got there or where her shoes had gone*. I can’t get invested emotionally in someone who does unsafe things like that and doesn’t think it’s a big deal/refuses to let anyone help her. I mean, I wanted to accompany her home to make sure she got there okay – she was clearly in no mental state to be wandering around alone – but she allegedly** hates to feel like her anxiety is inconveniencing other people, so she screamed at me to stop trying to help and she would get home by herself. So fine then, wander the streets when you’re emotionally compromised and barely have any idea where you are or what’s going on. But if you take risks like that, I can’t allow myself to get close to you. And so I retreated from her a little more; not necessarily physically, but definitely emotionally.

(The Dandy’s face was filled with absolute comprehension when I brought up these two points, btw. He has very much been there and done that, where Dandette is concerned.)

(It occurs to me now – I didn’t say it to The Dandy then – that another factor in all this was that Dandette started slacking off on the cooking and cleaning. The things that most make me feel loved are affectionate touching and when someone else makes my life easier, especially by feeding me. Take those things away and it’s amazing how quickly my love for someone clicks off, like someone flicked a switch. The affectionate touching got fucked up early on when Dandette ran out of meds and became completely physically standoffish for a month or two. And since then she stopped making dinner with any kind of regularity. So, *poof!* went most of my love. Absence of love is not the same thing as the coldness I feel when I’m done with someone, though. That happened later.)

There was the time Dandette had a big mental crisis and wanted to kill herself, and the next day she casually told me she’d tried to jump off a bridge but was too short to be able to get over the guard rail or wall or whatever. She said it like it was a joke – like I was supposed to giggle at the idea of someone I considered family (well, officially, as far as she knew. It’s not like I’d ever told her I was feeling more and more distant) wanting to die. That’s really fucked up and inappropriate. So, again, I can’t be allowing myself to be close to someone like that, who will not only attempt suicide but tell me and The Dandy about it and not seem to realize it might upset us. I took another step back emotionally, although TBH even as she told the “I was too short to jump off a bridge” story the thought “What, you couldn’t climb? How bad did you really want it, then, you quitter?!” sneaked into my head.

Then there was the Night of Drunken Horribleness, which severed the rest of my feelings. Or most of them, anyway; amazingly, even after that I was still gamely trying to make our living situation work as friends. I may no longer have wanted to give Dandette the dildo I’d originally bought her for Christmas (too personal, too sexual), but I got an equally expensive and thoughtful gift to give her instead, and was happy that I had the means to give her a cool thing she probably wouldn’t ever be able to afford for herself.

But when the sword thing happened, that was the last straw. Dandette knew I’m triggered by sharp things. And she’d always been really sensitive and awesome about my triggery things in the past (telling me to please let her know if her drinking ever starts to freak me out, warning me whenever she was about to hammer or make other loud thumping noises because I’m still kinda traumatized by my harpy neighbours pounding on their ceiling whenever I made the tiniest sound). I had trusted her to recognize and be sensitive to my various traumas. And then with the sword thing she violated my trust in one of the most horrible ways imaginable. IN FRONT OF THE DANDY’S MOM, so that I basically made a scene in front of company I was trying to ingratiate myself to. And whatever feelings I may have had left broke with an almost audible snap, leaving…nothing. Just big, whistling emptiness.

The Dandy called it “hatred” and I said no, hatred to me implies passion, of a sort. It implies fire. It implies actively wanting to do something to someone, or actively wishing suffering on them. What I feel for Dandette is cold and practical: I simply don’t want her near me ever again. She could move to Timbuktu or she could kill herself and both of those options would be fine to me because both of those options would accomplish the thing I want. (As it is, she’s not moving to Timbuktu but she is moving in with a friend who lives way out in the boonies. I’m hoping the location of her new home discourages her from venturing into the downtown core too much, but it may not – and she enjoys some of the same nightclub events that I do. So, not a perfect solution. But not bad.)

I’m glad The Dandy isn’t horrified by me being like this. A lot of people are.

When I first moved to this city, it was to get away from my parents. I mailed them a letter that said I didn’t want to talk to them anymore and explained exactly why, and then I left my hometown without telling them where I’d gone. Back then I was a lot fuzzier on what constitutes appropriate sharing, so I would often tell people I’d just met that I’d cut my parents off. They always looked at me aghast and said “But they’re your parents!” okay, but why should I care about that? If someone wants to be in my life, their presence needs to make it better. My parents weren’t doing that. So they had to go.

Dandette also got to the point where she wasn’t making my life better; in fact she made it exponentially worse. So we’re done.

 

*The next day she asked me for money to buy new shoes (“…I mean, since I don’t know what happened to my other ones…” [puppydog eyes]) and now I’m for real wondering if she deliberately flung her shoes away just so she could guilt me into buying her a pair she liked better. I’d always been a bit suspicious of her motivations but now that I’m out from under her constant presence and influence I’m thinking the manipulation may have been a lot more conscious and calculating and deep than I even realized.

**Except when she threatens suicide and makes The Dandy stay up all night talking her down.

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An epiphany

As much as The Dandy may have had that final, cohabitation-ending talk with Dandette more to protect her than me (I’d been going to confront her about things and The Dandy stepped in instead because – his words – “I was pretty sure I’d word things more nicely than you would have”), I realized a thing:

She operates through manipulation. She knew that he typically responded to threats of self-harm etc by panicking and coddling her until she was okay again. Therefore, any time he tried to call her out on bad behaviour, she’d just dodge it by having a “panic attack” over the fact that she’d annoyed him and calling herself a piece of shit and threatening to kill herself.

I believe she also must have sensed or realized that this specific brand of manipulation wouldn’t work with me. Note that the time I called her out on her alcohol problem (and, by extension, on sexually assaulting me) her response was to freeze like a deer in headlights for a moment, then talk to me in a calm and calculating tone while I could see the wheels in her head spinning desperately. Then (I don’t think I wrote about this part before) she was creepily Stepford-friendly right afterward as though nothing had happened. It was the weirdest transition. One moment I’m calling her a sexually sketchy alcoholic and she’s bristling with an ohhhhh shit I’ve been caught kind of alertness; then she goes out for a smoke and when she returns she’s acting like an entirely different person who is having a fantastic day, thanks for asking!!!

I suspect her MO from that point onward was to be extra friendly and nice toward me so I’d just have to think it was awesome having her around. She made me food more often and sucked up to me more and was more social and chipper than before (which backfired on her because I hated her by that point and she was relentlessly chattering at me every damn minute of the day instead of staying tolerably in the next room).

I’ve been lambasting myself for not initiating a Big Serious Talk with Dandette sooner, since the moment the talk happened, she bolted out of our lives. Dammit, I could have made her leave months ago!

But, you guys…I don’t think she would have left if it was me who talked to her. Not if I’d done it alone, as originally planned. I think she defaulted to “I’m leaving FOREVAAAAR!” with The Dandy because she expected him to immediately try to talk her out of it (but he called her bluff and it was fucking magical). With me…she most likely would have tried to broker some sort of agreement, like she did with the drinking, and made no move to vacate the apartment.

So it had to be The Dandy who called her out.

 

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