14 January 2014

Not a great start to the new year / new life

Lets see...

After almost 2 months of trying to sell my RV trailer with no success, I finally found not one, but at least 2 serious buyers who had the cash and wanted to buy within the week.
Then I got about 7 calls and emails of other people interested in seeing it (after I listed it for $500 more than the first two were expecting), and I was considering if I should try to get the best price or just get it sold and over with.

And so, of course, that's when it gets stolen.

Its 35ft long, 15ft tall, 8ft wide, and 7500lbs.  It requires a 3/4-ton truck and a class IV hitch at a minimum to move.  It had a solid hitch lock on it.
Someone, some how, hooked it up in the middle of the night and took off.  Several witnesses (people interested in buying, and the police, who were about to ticket it for being in one place too long) saw it one afternoon, I went to move it the next morning, gone.

My building's janitor died suddenly and unexpectedly.  He had some ongoing health problems, but they seemed mostly controlled.  There may have been some drug use other than the prescribed kind, its not that clear.
It sucks, because, as he did clean ups for the building and I did repairs, we ended up working together fairly often, and I got to know him better than anyone of my other neighbors.  He was a good guy.  I last talked to him a day or two before he passed out on the street and was hospitalized.  I haven't known many people personally who have died.  A neighbor who I barely spoke to once, my grandmother who I met a couple times and talked to on the phone sometimes.  The closest to me was my brother.  When that happened I was living in a different state, and I hadn't interacted with him for at least a year, and only sporadically for a few years before then.  Of course I knew him much better, was closer to him, but in one sense the distance meant it didn't feel as real and immediate as this time, when it was someone I had seen and spoken to just days before.

That is sad and unfortunate in its own right of course. On top of that, it means I am now responsible for the stuff he used to do.  And it turns out he was going above and beyond, cleaning up after some extremely lazy and irresponsible neighbors.  Several households here apparently can't be bothered to carry their own trash all the way down one or two flights of stairs to put it in the dumpster.  When our janitor died, bags of garbage almost immediately started piling up on the stairs and landings and balconies behind the building.
Followed closely, of course, by the more civilized tenants calling me to complain about the garbage.
The culture of poverty is very disheartening.

There was a tense and uncomfortable interaction with my recent girlfriend, who I am still friends with, still work with, and who didn't want to break up.  I was trying to avoid hurting her, but the way the timing worked out, the attempt itself caused some hurt.  Having been on both sides of that now, its hard to say which feels worse - being the one who is left, or the one who does the leaving.  They both suck.  In different ways, but both a lot.  I really really hate hurting or disappointing people.  Especially people I care about.

Of course, as I mentioned in my last post, I ended a brief fling.  Or rather, I should say, she ended it.  So that hurt a bit.  Not terribly, but the timing wasn't great.  The worst of it lasted about a day and a half, maybe 2 days.  Then I reconnected with two other women I was beginning to get to know before I got distracted by her, and that helped me regain some perspective and clear my mind, and more importantly clear my heart.

Then I started a huge work project with my recent-ex / current friend.  It involved moving a large amount of concrete up a steep incline, about 4 stories worth of steep driveways and rock stairs and dirt paths, to where we will build a giant chicken coop and fully enclosed run.  1000lbs worth.  My back was sore for days afterward, so much it was hard to get up out of a chair or walk around. 
Ok, ok - all the rest of these have been emotional hurt, and this was just physical.
But it added to the stress non-the-less.

I failed my advancement test to move to a higher rank in the Coast Guard for a 2nd time.
From those who I've talked to, most fail it a few times.  Its kind of a stupid test - lots of esoteric numbers to memorize that you would just look up in a reference manual in real life, and very little practical stuff on how to actually run and maintain the systems.  In fact, the entire thing is being completely re-done.  Sometime in the next year.  So, probably after I finally pass the current one.  Oh well.

I haven't been working nearly as much as I'd like to.  This year the slow economy finally caught up to my business.  I haven't had to dip into savings, but I keep looking at my retirement fund each month, and it is just flat-lining.  Each month I am more and more behind on my long-term goals.  I am already behind, because I didn't even start trying to save until I was 30 years old.  And I really like to at least partially retire early, while I still have the health and strength to fully enjoy it and appreciate it.  I could be volunteering and taking classes and writing and who knows, maybe even traveling the world by bike!  But 40 grand is not going to last the rest of my life...
In my reluctance to move any money from savings to pay for daily life, I actually bounced a check!  Haven't done that in many many many years. 
Selling the RV would have been really nice.
At least it was insured, so maybe I'll recover something...

And now the most recent addition to this string of unfortunate events:

The woman I recently stopped dating has for some reason gotten the idea that every number she receives from a blocked or unknown number is actually me, calling to harass her, or, I don't know, beg her back, or something, I really don't know.
She doesn't just suspect this, she "KNOWS" it.  She sent me an angry email to leave her alone, and she said not to bother to deny I'm calling over and over, because she "knows" its really me, and nothing I say will make any difference.

What makes this not just paranoid, but a little insane, is that she said that the person calling ("me") is leaving messages.  Which means all she would need to do to find out who is actually calling is just listen to one of the messages!!!!  That would answer it, with actual absolute certainty.  But she thinks she doesn't have to listen to it, because her intuition tells her that its me.

This would be why I always argue against intuition so strongly. 
The strength of the feeling behind it does not make it any more likely to actually be correct. 

Here is someone who has faith in her intuition that I would call and harass her for weeks after we stopped talking no less strong than other people have faith in God, when in fact I haven't called her ever.  Even when we were still dating!  Her phone has a broken speaker, so we always connected by chat or text.  She stopped talking to me during a chat mid-conversation, and I gave up.  I moved on, I scheduled dates with other people (people who I have a much higher OKCupid match % with anyway!  In fact, my number 1 and 2 highest matches in my area.  So its not been all bad news recently), I was living my own life, totally unaware that somewhere else in the world someone was experiencing an imaginary version of me tormenting her.

I don't know exactly why this bothers me so much.

Maybe because I told her so much about myself, my thoughts and feelings and fears and dreams, because I was totally honest and held nothing back, and this is apparently the impression she got from all that: that I am a likely stalker.

Why should I care what this one random person who I will never have to interact with ever again thinks?

I know, intellectually, that this has nothing to do with me.  It has to do with her having had a crappy life where many of the people she was close to, family, long term partner, turned out to not be trustworthy or caring people. Her family was anything but supportive during the transition from child to adult years, one of the times many of us need it the most. 
She was manipulated and deceived in a pretty major way by her partner for years and years.  That's a pretty good reason to become cynical and jaded and paranoid, isn't it? 

If you have never gotten close to anyone who is actually honest and straight-forward and isn't trying to take advantage of you, then of course your intuition is going to be confused by me, its going to be trying to figure out what my angle is. 
Its like Kelly said about Darryl:
"Darryl Philbin is the most complicated man that I have ever met. I mean who says exactly what they're thinking? What kinda game is that?"

But on an emotional level, it still hurts.  Obviously making phone calls is not the biggest deal, but it feels like a smaller version of being falsely accused of something like murder or rape. 
Is this really how I come across? 
Why would anyone think that about me? 

And I feel particularly helpless, because there is no possible way I can defend myself.  If I were to say anything to her, like "just listen to the god-damn message! you will see it isn't me", or offer my phone records, or point out that if I wanted to contact her, I would have just sent a text so that she would actually get it, or point out my last blog post that clearly shows I got that it was over back then and was already in the process of moving on - the very fact that I contacted her to communicate one of those messages, it would be contacting her, and that in itself would reinforce the idea that I am trying to contact her!

Its a classic Catch-22!!!!

It wouldn't be so bad if it was just that someone once thought that.  But its present tense.  It is presumably future tense.  Shes still going to get phone calls from "unknown".  Everyone does.  Maybe it's different people each time, and she is just ignoring all of their messages.  Maybe it's telemarketers.  Maybe she really does have a stalker, she just doesn't know who it is! 
Her ex is a drug addict who she is still in contact with, who she had been giving money to even after they broke up, until just recently.  Seems like a pretty likely candidate. And as long as the calls don't stop, she will presumably continue to assume (or rather, "know") that its me. 

Even if she were to eventually discover that future calls weren't me, I have little doubt it wouldn't shake her faith that the past calls really were.  That's how the human mind works - we hate for our versions of reality to be wrong so strongly that we will bend information in whatever way is necessary to fit the pre-written story.

This is perhaps why normal people are guarded around new people they meet that they don't know that well yet.  You never know when a seemingly normal, intelligent person will turn out to actually be mildly insane.

I should have known better.  There were some red-flags that reminded me of my ex-wife, and while she never did this specific thing, it was the sort she would do.  She was frequently convinced that her intuition of my thoughts, feelings, and motives were more accurate and genuine than me actually stating what they were, and she would then respond to her wrong assumptions while ignoring anything I said. 
But of course, I wasn't lying, and I was self-aware, and she was just wrong.  And it caused a lot of (totally unnecessary!) conflict.  A whole lot.  She had the same tendency to assume the worst possible motives for other peoples actions (not just mine).  She had the same extreme difficulty in letting her guard down around others, because she was never really sure anyone was trustworthy.

I think that maybe the biggest part of why this is affecting me so much.  Because it reminds me of my failed marriage.  Because I feel like I didn't learn as much from it as I thought I did.

And because I fear that maybe it says something about me if I am specifically attracted to people who are emotionally unhealthy.  I don't know if that is really true, but there is definitely a part of me that wants to reach out and help people I feel close to.  Its a sort of protective instinct, I think, or just a desire to be helpful, maybe to be needed, I really don't know.  I have the patience and the understanding of how the mind works.  I know I can actually help people get over mental blocks, because I have done it successfully in the past.  Its just that there is one factor that I have no control over.  And it happens to be the biggest one.  The other person has to want to change.  And most people don't.  If they did, most people would have already, on their own, or at least started to. 
You don't go into a relationship thinking "this is a problem, but its one that can be fixed".  Not unless they are saying they know its a problem, and they want to work on it.  Maybe not even then.

But come on.  You can't take a sample size of 2 and call it a pattern.  Yes, there was an element of this in a love interest from very long ago - but that person was actually very receptive to working through her past trauma and learning to trust people, and I like to think I may have actually helped in that process.  And there was no such element at all in my fling with Valerie.  If she had any emotional hang-ups, I never knew about them.  We just got excited about each other, had lots of fun, and realized we weren't compatible as partners.  We tried being friends, but she kept giving me these romantic looks, and she admitted years later it was hard for her to transition to friends after what we had experienced together.  She was healthy.  I fell for her.  So I'm not specifically attracted to people who aren't.

Maybe it bothers me because I didn't see it coming.  At all.  Like, I saw signs that she probably would never be able to completely trust another person, that she thought she knew my internal state better than me.  That she broke it off didn't surprise me.  The fact that she would think I would keep bothering her wasn't even a total shock.

But the part where she is convinced even if I just say "I haven't called you", the part where she is so sure that she doesn't even listen to the message, that caught me completely by surprise.  Refusing to listen means that she WANTS to believe its me.  She doesn't want to be proven wrong.  For some reason, a reason I can't even begin to guess at, her version of reality demands that I be someone completely different than I am.  How would it shake her foundational understanding of reality to find out that I am actually off living my own life, not thinking about her?  Why is that something a person would be desperate to not be proven wrong about?

I always assume the best of everyone.
I always take people at their word, take what they say at face value.
Living here, in this building in East Oakland, I'm beginning to learn that people really do lie.  A lot.  I'm learning to be skeptical of people's words.  I don't like learning that.  I'd rather live my life in blissful ignorance.  I want to believe that other people are sincere.  I want to believe that other people are trying to be good people, that they are trying to understand the world, and that they are doing the best they can given limitations of intelligence and knowledge.  I want to believe that, outside of pick-up artists, salesmen, con-artists, pimps, drug dealers, hypnotists, and politicians, that people are not manipulative.  Real, ordinary people, are not manipulative.  People say what they mean and mean what they say.  Don't they?  Why wouldn't they?  It makes the world a better place.  And people are sane.  Aside from the nutcases and the coo-coo-clock people, the ranting homeless and the institutionalized, people try to see the world as it really is, they don't just see what fits the story they make up inside their heads.  Right?  The guy who does the blog/podcast at YouAreNotSoSmart.com says that this is exactly what basically everybody does.  The only difference between you and I and the guy who thinks he is Jesus is that our stories fit reality a little closer.  But when presented with new information that conflicts with our stories, we reject it, or find a way to rationalize it.  Everyone does that.  That's all she is doing.  Its not about me.  Its that, just like my story says nobody is manipulative or dishonest, her story says everybody is.  And meeting me, getting to know me, I don't fit that story.  So she had to invent a way to make me fit her story.
That was apparently much easier to do when she didn't have to actually interact with me.

So I guess that's a positive way to look at it.

And that's where I am going to end this post.  Because I insist that everything I look at have a positive spin.
All of these things, the whole series of less than wonderful things to happen this month, someday I will look back and they will all be past tense.  They are all temporary.
Much worse things could happen.  Much worse things have happened, and are happening to people all the time.
It is just wearing me down that there are so many in such a small span of time.  It's cortisol that makes me feel this way.  Its stress.
I need sex and cuddling and a few good nights sleep (the first two will help with the third) and to spend some time in a less toxic environment and some more friends (so that at any given moment there is someone to talk to) and some rest.  I need some time to pass.  Eventually I'll get all of those things, and life will go back to its default state of basically good all the time.


  1. Riddle: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?


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