Y’know…when I first moved in with The Dandy and Dandette (and more specifically after the two of them resumed their relationship, which effectively killed a bunch of stress that was building in the household), I loved it there. She and I became close really quickly and even developed a snuggly kind of relationship. We weren’t outright sexual with each other but in a way it felt like we were dating, too, and so instead of her being just The Dandy’s other girlfriend who I had to figure out how to live with, there was love flowing in all directions.
But now it’s different and I don’t entirely know why but I hate it.
The first major setback is that Dandette ran out of anti-anxiety meds and wasn’t able to get more right away. I thought what she was on was supposed to take a while to leave the system, so maybe it was just placebo effect in reverse or something but Dandette almost immediately started having panic attacks and other manifestations of her anxiety, like, a lot.
When she’s having a panic attack, she shakes with adrenaline and doesn’t want to be touched at all. She’ll stumble backward away from you all terrified if you even look like you might approach. And she becomes convinced that her panic attack is inconveniencing everyone, which makes her panic more. So you can’t try to help her in any way; she will perceive it as her issues inconveniencing you and she’ll freak out. But you also can’t let her know that her panic attack is, oh I dunno, scaring the shit out of you and twigging your own anxiety really hard, because that’ll convince her, too, that she’s a terrible person who ruins everyone else’s lives.
For the most part, her thing of not wanting her attacks acknowledged or helped works for me just fine. I’d come out of my room in the morning, see her in the living room shaking and hyperventilating with her eyes all dilated and weird, say “‘morning” in a cheery voice, walk past her to get some cereal and go back into my room again to eat it. She doesn’t consider this rude. She doesn’t change her mind once the attack is over, either; I mean it’s not like she says “leave me alone” during but then after she’s like “WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME ALONE WHEN I WAS PANICKING YOU ASSHOLE” so cool.
But one time she had an attack while we were out running errands together and I was kind of stuck with her and it was the most awful thing. She was clearly all fight-or-flighty and vulnerable and I didn’t want her walking home alone like that, so I had to pretend that I just happened to feel like walking home anyway and then walking back to complete the errands. It was such a lovely day out, after all. I definitely felt like taking a nice long walk. And of course the walk home was a grim deathmarch during which I contrived to act casual and comfortable and make light conversation that didn’t require any replies while making sure I stayed beyond accidental touching distance and trying not to let it show that my heart was hammering. At one point she was stressing out about how much work she still had to do at home (her whole housewife thing) but when I tried to comfort her by saying “I can help with anything you need” she barked my name all angry-like, meaning “stop making it worse by trying to help me” so fine, I guess I was supposed to let her sit there and stew in a cage entirely of her own making, then. And then partway home – cutting through the parking lot of the grocery store I’d been aiming to circle back to when Dandette started panicking – she insisted I leave her and do my grocery run but then a car started backing out of a spot and almost backed into us and I yelled “HEY” and my yelling triggered some kind of fugue state in Dandette. I could see her go even more wild-eyed and freaked out than before. But I knew if I insisted on walking her home, she’d scream at me not to, so I just kind of walked away. Dandette did end up finding her way home, but when she got there she wasn’t wearing shoes and she didn’t know why. She couldn’t remember anything after my yell. She was standing in the parking lot and then she was home, with nothing in between.
And any random thought could trigger one of her attacks at any time, which made me not exactly want to spend a lot of time around her. Plus I became afraid of ever touching her in case she’d begun having an attack and I just hadn’t noticed. Before then, I would touch her affectionately in passing all the time (and vice-versa). I didn’t even think about it. Suddenly though it seemed like there was a chance she’d be horrified and recoil and I didn’t want to be rejected so I kind of kept my distance and waited for her to initiate, which she…kinda didn’t. Maybe it was a vicious cycle; maybe she stopped being touchy and snuggly because I did. But for whatever it’s worth our whole ambiguous snuggling thing came about in the first place because she started it, so she sure didn’t mind making the first move before…
The second setback for us was that Dandette had a sudden second health problem. She had a cyst a year or two ago – I forget the name of the kind of cyst it is, but basically it’s a zit that gets so huge and impacted (like, the size of a golf ball) that a doctor needs to slice it open with a scalpel to drain it. It’s right under her tailbone, where it presses on her sciatic nerve, so in addition to being all under pressure and hurting to sit on, it’s fucking with her actual nerves and causing pain that way. And a week or two ago, it started to come back.
I knew she was in pain and I assumed (correctly) that she’d be in no shape to fix us the amazing dinners she usually made. The Dandy and I fended for ourselves/ordered food in for a week or so until Dandette’s cyst was big enough to get drained. Please believe me that I was not on any level feeling bitter about this or thinking “humph. She should suck it up and cook for us anyway.” No no no. She was not doing well at all and clearly needed rest. Buttttt the nature of my psyche seems to be that I have certain things that make me feel loved, which in turn will make me love the person back. And if I’m not getting those things from someone, my feelings for them can switch off amazingly quickly. The main things that make me feel loved are affectionate touches (which she’d already withdrawn) and being fed. And so my feelings of love for Dandette…winked out. Just like that.
The third setback is that – overlapping with Dandette’s whole cyst thing – I had a fairly terrible week. I am a nocturnal person; at this point in my life, if I have to wake up in the morning more than two days in a row, I start to feel seriously depressed and fucked up. That’s even if I’ve gotten adequate sleep. Well, I had six days in a row of working 10am-1pm and I didn’t sleep well during any of that time. My bladder was doing this hilarious thing it sometimes does where it forgets how to empty entirely so within half an hour of taking a piss I’d desperately have to go again; I was getting up ten times a night to pee. And I was having issues with insomnia. And The Dandy was snoring. And my stupid asshole cats were being restless for some reason and would randomly jump on me at night and stuff. So I had six nights in a row where I didn’t, at all, even once, get into the deep dark black part of sleep that is actually restful.
Y’know how clinical depression is caused by low levels of a brain chemical called seratonin? The thing that restores a person’s seratonin levels is sleep. By the end of my week of hell, my anxiety and depression were off the charts. I was full-on crazy, like “nobody in my life really loves me, they’re all just pretending, they probably talk about me behind my back” crazy. Everyfuckingthing The Dandy or Dandette did seemed like a plot to fuck with me or a secret code spelling out that they didn’t like me or want me there. Oh and in fairness I also wasn’t cleaning the kitchen (my one official household job) to my usual standard, so maybe Dandette wasn’t feeling loved, either.
On the Thursday of my hellweek, Dandette got her cyst drained*. Presumably the stitches etc hurt after that but the draining process would have relieved all the pressure and nerve pain and stuff so that she was a lot more functional. And indeed, on Friday morning she set her alarm specifically to get up and make coffee for The Dandy, as she does every workday (except while the cyst was hurting her). She brought his coffee in to him and left it by the bed, like every workday. And then she went back to bed without fixing me breakfast.
(For contrast: when I had a solid week of work just a few weeks before, she woke up and made me breakfast every day, and packed it up so I could sleep in later and eat it on the bus. She packed me a lunch, too, when I had a two-gig day. And these were good meals, man. Fresh-squeezed orange juice. French toast. The lunch included dessert. Dandette made it clear that a) she loved being a housewife and considered feeding me like this to be her job b) she expresses love through cooking c) she receives love through appreciation of her cooking. And boy, did I ever appreciate it. I gushed to her so much I was afraid it might come off as fake. And she glowed and kissed me goodbye on the cheek and wished me a good day at work every single morning.)
The living room was in disarray and Dandette decided it needed a major reorganization so she pulled an all-nighter Friday night to do that. She was still awake when I got up Saturday morning and started getting ready for my sixth consecutive morning shift, but she didn’t make me breakfast. What she did do was hold up my old mug with the QWERTY keyboard printed on it and ask “do you use this?”
“I keep pens in it,” I said (or rather, I did at my old place and then I moved and didn’t know where it or the pens had gone).
“Do you want it still? Because if not I’m taking it to the garbage room.”
“If you hate it that much, I guess you can toss it,” I said.
“It’s not that I hate it, it’s that we have too much stuff,” Dandette said, and she left with the mug and some other things of hers. Then I immediately changed my mind and flung open the door and got it back from her. I like that mug and it feels like I’ve given up entirely too much lately: a shit-ton of my belongings so I wouldn’t have to pack them to move; my big dresser which got destroyed in the move by accident; exclusive use of The Dandy’s cock; having my own room… It’s too much. I wanted my fucking mug. So I told her I changed my mind, and she handed it back saying “Well, just don’t let me ever see it again.” Which I’m pretty sure was, objectively, a really fucking rude thing to say to me, but also remember I was suuuuper crazy from lack of sleep so it really hit me badly at that moment.
I said nothing and just stomped off and put my mug in the bedroom. The Dandy was in there putting clothes on because I’d begged him to drive me to work. I bitched to him furiously about what had just happened. I mean, Dandette regularly finds major pieces of (admittedly pretty cool, usually) furniture in the garbage room and puts them in the apartment. SHE BROUGHT IN A GRANDFATHER CLOCK a few months ago. All that fucking thing does is take up space doing the same thing a five dollar watch would do. Just a few weeks ago she brought in a huuuuuuge hutch and transferred all our dishes and silverware into it (four full sets of dishes, two sets of silverware, and maybe five sets of glassware, by the way, not including mine), and when I was like “Hey, now we can get rid of the previous hutch, which is sort of ugly and most of the handles are broken, anyway…” The Dandy and Dandette completely ignored me and decided to put the stupid thing in the front hall and keep shoes/umbrellas/etc in it, instead. The shelving unit that had previously been used for shoes/etc got crammed into the storage closet. The Dandy, meanwhile, has a bunch of assembled sets of Star Wars Lego on display. Ewok cities and X-wing fighters and a bunch of other shit whose only function is to be looked at and that’s been sitting there so long that I doubt anyone in the house even consciously notices it anymore. Neither of these people get rid of anything fucking ever (and I have been delicately sort of sniffing around the idea of them purging some things for a while, because the apartment is big but in serious danger of being totally subsumed by furniture etc and having no more usable space than my old tiny apartment). I’d been tactful and gentle in my urgings and both of them had seemed kind of hostile so I dropped it. They have a different aesthetic and different priorities than I do, and part of living with other people is accepting differences like that, so I worked on doing so. And now Dandette has a wild hair about clearing out the living room and my one little mug is too much but the Lego and grandfather clock stay? Fuck off.
The Dandy didn’t say anything during this rant of mine. He often goes silent when I’m angry. This time his expression wasn’t that frozen-up/scared thing he does when I’m mad at him, though. It was aggrieved, like “Ugh, why do I need to be listening to this right now?” When I saw that I reined in my ranting. But boy was I pissed.
A little while later when The Dandy and I were by the door putting our shoes on for the drive to my work, Dandette was like “Can you take this to the garbage room on your way out?” and gestured at a piece of furniture. It was facing away from me and lots of dressers etc have a cheap particle-board back on them so it took me a minute to realize what it was, but then suddenly I did. The Dandy said there wasn’t time or the dolly was in the car or something so we couldn’t. I walked straight out to the elevator without saying anything and just glowered pointedly at The Dandy while I waited for him to catch up.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, once he was finally next to me at the elevators.
“What’s wrong is Dandette and I never discussed throwing my bookcase out. This is the first I’m hearing about this.”
I held it together until we got in the car and then basically broke down and sobbed the entire way to work about how Dandette seemed to have abruptly decided she didn’t want me there and was taking pains to let me know. The Dandy said he’d talk to her (and, thank god, said he wouldn’t mention some of the not-very-nice side-points I’d made in my ranting** and just focus on “hey, you appear to be getting rid of Cowgirl’s stuff without permission; what’s up with that?”
The verdict (reported by The Dandy when I got home) ended up being that Dandette had thought I did say I would get rid of the bookcase – and in fairness I probably did say at one point that I was thinking about it but hadn’t decided yet. So that was a misunderstanding. And the mug thing was just cranky, underslept, ass-stitches-hurting, up-all-night-organizing Dandette phrasing things in a really unfortunate way. And all of this was of course magnified by me being jussssst fuckin’ batshit crazy from lack of sleep. And Dandette apologized to me later and said she never meant to make me feel unwanted at all, she really did think I’d said I wanted to get rid of the bookcase.
I believe both of them (although I couldn’t manage to stop feeling persecuted and suspicious until I’d had a massive cry and an even more massive sleep and set my brain mostly back on kilter). But I still feel like something’s up, dammit. Maybe Dandette wasn’t actually trying to squeeze me out of the apartment but I increasingly feel like she’s not that happy to have me there, either. Not the way she initially was. And I don’t know if I did something or the NRE just died really fast or her initial enthusiasm was all an act to suck up to The Dandy or what.
*After the draining, The Dandy drove her home. They came in and I paused my Netflix show, thinking Dandette might want hugs or to talk about the ordeal or whatever. She just gave me a hostile look (or was my underslept brain just seeing it like that?) and went straight to her bedroom. Later, when The Dandy and I had gone to bed, she kept having things to say to The Dandy and calling out to him to come over for sec. Like five times in a row she did this, and he’d clamber out of bed and go into her room where she’d talk super-animatedly at him for a few minutes. And then he’d come back to bed and it would repeat again and this was at ONE THIRTY IN THE MORNING BTW but anyway a few days later Dandette referred back to the cyst-draining aftermath and said sorry if she was a bit withdrawn that night but she just couldn’t deal with people. Why am I “people” and The Dandy isn’t? When I first moved in Dandette said we were family, we were all in this together, we’d help each other through things. She supported me through some things and I wanted the chance to do it back but she just doesn’t seem inclined to lean on me. At all.
**I may have yelled a bunch more about the grandfather clock and the four sets of dishes and gone on a whole huge tangent that maybe Dandette is so used to finding all her furniture in the garbage that she’s kind of “easy come, easy go” about these things and doesn’t get that I had to work and save up and buy my shit. I didn’t even mean this as a jab at her not working; I really meant it at face value, and still believe it even though I’m less mad now. None of my furniture was a spontaneous “Oh cool, someone tossed this out, I think I’ll take it” affair; I had an idea in my head of a specific item that needed to fit in a specific spot and I went to stores armed with a tape measure and wrote down stats and prices until I found exactly the right thing, which I bought with money earned at a job I didn’t necessarily like, and possibly paid for delivery too, and in many cases assembled myself. I feel like that’s gonna make a person more attached to a piece of furniture than if they hadn’t even actively wanted a particular item but it just showed up for free and it was like “Meh, what the hell.”