Continued from My Story – Part 9 (Relationships with Family)
When I began this blog at the beginning of the year, that very first post, The Year Rang In Like A Cyclone, described an atypical experience from mine and KR’s relationship, at least atypical up until that point. First, a little background info:
My current boyfriend and I met online back in 2000 while I was attending college. I’ve referred to him as KR in “My Story” and here. Quick recap since I didn’t go into much detail about our relationship in that post: We went on our first date in July 2000, and he moved in with me the following December. We dated for a little over a year and a half that first time we were together. The reasons for our break-up in March 2002 were complicated. I felt completely overwhelmed at the time and could feel myself slipping into a deeper depression. I had just been hospitalized for the fifth time at a psychiatric hospital. While I was in the hospital, he moved us out of my apartment and in with a friend because I could no longer pay my rent. In retrospect, this move was the final straw for me that caused me to break up with him at that time.
However, KR and I remained close friends even after the break-up and talked occasionally. In November 2006, I was facing homelessness again. KR offered to take me in when no one else would. I accepted, and we’ve been together for a little over 7 years this time [our 8 year anniversary is coming up in a few days]. I’m not going to say that it’s been any easier this time than the first time because each of us has our own issues that cause us to struggle financially as well as emotionally. I don’t blame KR for this any more than I blame myself. Placing blame does absolutely no good. I accept that our struggles are part of who we are, that the person he is and the person I am does the best we can in order to survive.
After I moved in with KR in November 2006, he became my rock, the one person I felt I could trust and depend on. He became the person who could bring me back to reality when I felt it slipping away. Even with all of my issues, he stuck by me through everything. Even after our relationship ended in March 2002 and we went our separate ways, he was there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on. With his help, love, and support, life for me became a little more stable during that first year and a half we were back together. We had our fair share of ups and downs during that time, but I finally found some breathing space to begin processing some of the chaos that I lived through for so many years.
When KR was fired from where he worked in May 2008, this triggered many of the same worries and insecurities that caused so many of the problems I struggled with previously. Lack of money and financial stress are a recurring trigger throughout my life. KR losing his job was a devastating blow. Like I said in an earlier post, the money I received from SSD benefits barely covered my student loan payments and child support. At the time, I had also received part of an inheritance from the sale of my grandmother’s farm; but I knew I had to make that money last for as long as I possibly could to cover my share of the expenses.
Another disaster struck in December 2008 when a fire broke out in the apartment above ours. Thankfully, most of our belongings were fine, even the electronics; but our apartment sustained heavy water damage, particularly in the kitchen area. A large portion of my inheritance money was spent to secure a new place for us to live and for moving expenses. We ended up moving into a different apartment complex, another gated community, right across the street from our old apartment. This was my second favorite apartment that I have ever lived in (it would have been my first favorite, but nothing beats living in Hawaii). This apartment was beautiful! Perfectly set up, a gorgeous kitchen, and even a screened in patio for our cats (and me) to get some fresh air. For the first time in my adult life, I felt contentment in that apartment. However, the constant sirens (we lived right next to a hospital) and the occasional gun shot were enough keep my nerves on edge.
KR remained out of work until October 2009. We survived on that first portion of my inheritance money until it was all gone. KR finally accepted work through temp agencies; but money was tight. Fear began taking over my life. I was terrified of losing everything again. I had already become increasingly fearful of leaving our apartment due to several incidents I experienced while riding the bus and during bus transfers downtown; but by this point, I rarely, if ever, left our apartment without KR’s company. He was my “safe” person.
Maybe it was the stress of travelling to my mom’s for the first time after so many years or being around other people for the first time after a long period of social isolation; but a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving 2009, I ended up sick, very sick. More than likely, it was the H1N1 virus that was going around at the time. I never went to a doctor. We couldn’t afford it. Delirious from fevers that spiked to 103° at night, I lost an entire week that I have no memory of. KR said there was at least a couple of nights that he thought he would have to throw me in a tub of ice water. The care and nurturing KR showed me during that illness were proof enough to me of his gentleness, devotion, and love.
Financially, things were getting dire by around May 2010. Rent was due and we didn’t have it. We were desperate for a solution. KR’s dad and step-mom, who had only recently reconnected with him around Christmas 2009, lived in Cookeville, TN. His dad wasn’t in good health, and I think he wanted KR nearby to mend their broken relationship before he died. (KR, as well as his siblings, suffered physical and emotional abuse by their dad and step-mom; but that’s his story to tell, not mine.) Since KR wasn’t having much luck finding a permanent job in Nashville, he stayed a few days there with them to check on jobs and housing. Then, Nashville flooded and he couldn’t get home for another couple of days (it was a bad flood!). On May 8th, 2010, we moved to Cookeville, TN.*
*I understand that this tidbit of information may give away my identity since I’m probably one of very few people who actually blogs in the Cookeville area — a little cross-referencing between my 2 blogs would give it away; but at this point, I’m less concerned about anonymity. This is, after all, my story; and I shouldn’t be ashamed to tell it. — With that being said, should you discover who I am, I ask that you, please, be respectful.
I liked the Cookeville area from the start. It reminded me a lot of my hometown, but they rival each other in beauty. I’m much more comfortable in a rural setting like this than a concrete jungle like Nashville. In that respect I was more in my element, but the new-found obligations to KR’s family stirred up quite a whirlwind for more than a year. I wasn’t accustomed to being around other people. I felt incredibly nervous and socially awkward, probably due to the prolonged isolation. Often, I found myself overwhelmed, shutting down from over-stimulation. It took me quite a while to work into somewhat of a routine to feel more at ease with my surroundings.
After KR’s dad passed away at the end of January 2011, KR’s step-mom was lost. Her grief consumed her. Later that year, she moved back to their hometown in Michigan where the majority of KR’s family still live. KR mourned the loss of his father in his own way while pretty much denying that it affected him at all. I’m sure that his dad’s death stirred up a lot of his own childhood insecurities because it was around this time that I first noticed changes in our relationship — nothing concrete, only an intuitive feeling that something was off.
That “feeling” was paralleled in our homelife. When we first moved into that old, decrepit trailer more than 4 years ago, we had no idea we would be stuck there for so long. It was only meant to be a temporary housing solution. In the beginning, we tried very hard to make the best of it and get along with our neighbors despite their odd behavior. For the most part, we did get along with them for the first couple of years. Oddly enough, you’d be surprised what you can get used to; but increasingly over the years there, our neighbors’ behavior became stranger and more bizarre as the living condition of both trailers on the property deteriorated.
I’ve written extensively about that trailer KR and I lived in prior to us moving this past June; so feel free to read any of the following posts from the last few months for a better understanding of what KR and I dealt with while living at our previous address:
- Life Just Keeps Coming At Me
- Gunshots, Sirens, and Panic
- The End of Silence
- NO Trespassing
- The Roof Is On Fire
I’m so thankful to be out of that deplorable living situation. That rental was absolutely in worse shape than any place I have ever lived; and I’ve lived in a number of “bad” rentals over the years. I’m fairly certain that it was the reason for many, if not most, of mine and KR’s most immediate problems. While the move did our relationship a world of good, I find myself worried about KR’s recent moodiness over this past year. Many of our issues have been there for much longer, especially those concerning sex and the fact that I’ve been unemployed for more than 9 years. These are issues I’ve coped with my entire adult life; so I guess, that makes them more my issues than his.
I love KR with all my heart. I can imagine growing old with him. I want to grow old with him. Despite all of the struggles we’ve been through together, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would do it all again because there have been more happy times, more good times, than bad. It’s all the little things that I’m so thankful for. Things like:
- Playing video games together into the wee hours of the morning.
- KR making me sit through everything Monty Python because it’s just silly.
- Watching every episode of Star Trek: the Original Series together… and Star Trek: the Next Generation… and Star Trek: Voyager… and Star Trek: Enterprise… (we will make it through DS9 eventually) because Gene Roddenberry’s reality was so much more hopeful than our own.
- Lying on a blanket on the ground during a neighborhood black-out, side-by-side, star-gazing.
- Any of the hiking excursions we’ve taken, especially the one on my son’s birthday in 2012 because KR knew I was having a rough time and needed to “get away” for the day.
- During our move from Nashville to Cookeville, I became so overwhelmed that I lashed out during a meltdown. KR safely restrained me, patiently holding me until I calmed down. (In my opinion, there’s no greater love than a person who can do this for another person without losing his temper.)
- KR writing love messages on the bathroom mirror so that they “magically” appear after a shower.
- KR leaving me with a kiss every day before work (even if I’m still sleeping).
- KR painting my toenails because I impatiently make a mess of it and paint my whole toe!
- The fact that he tries to understand me, my thoughts, my triggers as I try to understand his.
These are only the first 10 things that popped into my head. These are the types of memories I want to focus on, remember, because they are far more important to me. Emotionally triggered arguments that feed off of our insecurities only have power when I give in to the parts of me that obsessively ruminate over past resentments and perceived maltreatment. Perhaps, a few of those perceptions are justified; but it does our relationship no good to concentrate on negativity when the positive aspects of our life together suffer as a result. My continued goal for this relationship as it has been for the past 8 years is to focus on the positive.
Most of the time that’s easier said than done, but nothing worth doing was ever easy.