Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Post-Katrina Lesson #1- Adventures In The Psychic Psychotic Friends Network- Part 4

Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Richard asks... Alright, if nobody else will ask the obvious question I WILL. What the hell is the psychotic part?? Cuz if you haven't already described a loony tune, then I can't wait for the orchestra to get fired up.

Well, get your opera glasses polished up, 'cause were getting close. I can't do it all in this post because it's not fair to just say behold the psychosis, without putting it in proper context. By the end of this post, you'll be standing on the edge of the abyss. Next post, we all fall in.

Now, back to the story...

When we left off, XX had broken down and apologized repeatedly for her nasty behavior toward me and said we were fine, everything was fine. And everything seemed okay for a week or so. I had been busy trying to find a way to get back to New Orleans to get my car and check on my house and was spending a lot of time alone in the wing making phone calls and fighting with the aircard for internet access. I think XX resented this (remember- she complained that I was on my cell phone all the time and I said this was a clue), and soon she would barely acknowledge my presence when we'd cross paths around the house. We only engaged in prolonged conversation when I initiated it and really worked hard on making it happen. She seemed happy only when I was following her around like an obedient and loyal pet and this and I did from time to time both to placate her, and because I did consider her a friend and I cared about her feelings. If this was what she needed, then I'd give it to her. I realize now how manipulative this was of her. She was happy when she felt she controlled me. But it doesn't change anything. That's one of the things about trying to maintain a position of love without judgment. You just have to accept people as they are, like it or not, and give what they need as best you can without failing to honor your own needs.

During this time, I was really trying to give XX the attention she needed, but I noticed little instances of passive-aggressive behavior erupting from her. For example, one day she asked me to meet her at Best Buy sometime after 4:00PM, once we'd both finished running our individual errands, so I could help her pick out a PDA. She was to call me when she was on the way there. I finished my tasks early so I killed time in town waiting for the call she promised. The call never came and when I called her (repeatedly) she didn't answer. The plan was for XX to bring Rachel along since XX would be home when Rachel returned from school and I'd be out at an appointment. Rachel remembered the phone ringing and XX looking at it and putting it back in her purse more than a few times. So, I'm waiting and waiting and calling and calling again, and after finally getting through to the house after 100 busy signals and 2+ hours of putzing around killing time, XY answers and says XX has been home for a some time and had already gone to Best Buy. I later asked XX what happened and she said she tried to call me but couldn't get through. Rachel said XX made two calls while they were out, one to XY and one to her mother, but that was it. (Did she think I wouldn't ask Rachel?)

Another example, around the same time: When we first arrived in Keswick, XX invited me to go to see the Rolling Stones when they played in C'ville using XY's ticket, since he was sick. Then, about 2 weeks before the concert, while I'm in earshot, she starts calling all kinds of people and offering them the ticket without having ever "uninvited" me. She just acted as if the invitation never happened. I didn't think it would be appropriate to address this and once I realized that I didn't have to work around this date, I made plans to leave and was in New Orleans on the day of the show. But she could have given the ticket to my poor, forlorn son, who, as we learned earlier, was being ignored by her much to Rachel's advantage and who was starving for such an outing. XX went to the concert with her mother and a woman I heard her openly disparage many times.

I discussed my need to make the trip home with both of the Xs well in advance of making any arrangements and both assured me that they were OK with having the kids with them while I was gone. They said they didn't mind at all. And XX had taken quite a liking to Rachel, as most people do. She's a sweet and fun little girl and I call her my little Satellite of Love (50 points to anyone who gets the reference without having to click the link), because she happily orbits me and wants to participate in whatever I'm doing. She's a good little sidekick and XX loved this, as I guess Rachel was giving her the time and attention she wanted. In return, she showered Rachel with little presents and purchases, to the wretched exclusion of Alex, even after I asked that one of my children not be openly favored over the other this way. XX even took Rachel to get a French manicure. Nine year-olds do not need French manicures and heaven knows I don't need any more vanity seeds planted in Rachel than the ones that the wretched Disney Channel has already sewn.

A couple of days before I was to leave, while XX was napping I asked XY what was going on with her, and told him that I felt she was acting strangely toward me. I offered the two aforementioned examples. He said, repeatedly, that XX was just worried about him and she was just tired. He said that she was used to him doing everything and now that he was recovering, he was being more critical of her and more demanding and it was wearing her out. (They'd been bickering more and more and on one evening, to my horror, XX started disparaging XY to me while he was in the room, and she repeatedly tried to solicit my agreement that she was right about him being an asshole! I'm sure the look of panic was all over me -shoulders frozen in a shrug; eyes wide like saucers, darting between the two them; mouth hanging open in shock. Oh, please, oh please, oh please no! Please don't do this to me!!! I couldn't utter a word.) Anyway, XY repeated over and over not to worry about XX's behavior, that she was just tired and that they would be leaving for Florida in a few weeks and we'd have the place to ourselves and everything would be fine.

Don't worry. Everything will be fine.

I was gone for 5 days. Renard and I arrived in Keswick at 8:30 on Sunday evening. The Xs left soon after Alex told them I'd called and would be arriving within the hour. When they returned, XX and XY gave Renard a friendly greeting on the patio while I was inside, then went into her room and closed the door. She came out once but barely spoke to me. The following morning, once I'd gotten Rachel off to school, XY very coolly informed me that we had to find another place to live.

I was stunned and devastated. I asked why? Why?? What happened?? XY said it just wasn't working out. He said we had to be out by the time they left for Florida- in about three weeks. What did we do or not do?? He had no answer. He just repeated the same response. It wasn't working out. Then he said Alex would be happier somewhere else. Like on the street, I wondered? I said I didn't understand. Then he said that they just didn't think they could show the house with another family living in it. (They'd shown the house several times since we'd arrived and XX even remarked more than once that when the house was shown, we'd had the wing neater and cleaner than the rest of the house and better than she'd ever seen it.) He repeated the remark about Alex being happier somewhere else several times, as if it were some sort of consolation to me. It just didn't make sense. Just before I left, he said not to worry. Everything would be fine. I hadn't even been back for 12 hours and now nothing was fine and I had everything to worry about.

I had a physical reaction to the news the likes of which I've never had before. I felt like my head was going to explode. I had so much pressure in my neck that I thought every blood vessel would burst. I felt as if my head was about to explode and that I might pass out at the same time. I mumbled to XY that I didn't feel so good- that something was wrong. I slowly lowered myself to the floor to put my head down. He sat there and sipped his coffee, never taking his eyes off the newspaper, never once asking of I was okay. I tried to compose myself. I just wanted to get out of the room. I slowly rose and said something like, "so much for the brotherly love," (see Part 1) as I quickly stumbled from the dining room. I made it as far as the den and then collapsed over the ottoman, breathless. It took a few minutes before I could breathe again. I went into the wing and into Alex's room where I calmly made sure he was getting ready for school. Then I excused myself and went upstairs where Renard was sleeping, fell onto the bed, and burst into some of the most intense sobs I've ever sobbed. I didn't want Alex to know what had just happened, but he couldn't help but hear me. He wrote about it on his Xanga site and, needless to say, he was very angry and upset 17 year old . So Mom, if you figured out how to get to this blog and you decide to read his post, please overlook his use of expletives and forgive him for saying that what I was crying about was worse than what he thought I might have been crying about. You know he doesn't mean that. Not at all!

Once I composed myself, I got on the phone and started making calls. I had given up an apartment with six months of free rent and now we had no place to go. There was no way we were staying at that house for those three weeks until the Xs left for Florida. I wanted to be out by the end of the week. I went to the Red Cross and they said they could get us into a hotel, but the only way we could get a room in town was to wait until the following Monday, as all the local hotels were booked because of a big football game at UVA that weekend. I think it must have been the longest week of my life. And it's in this week that the real scary behavior starts to occur. If this story wasn't already so long, I'd finish it now, but I know I'm already asking a lot with such a lengthy post. So stay tuned...


Blogger Alley said...

Aaargh!!!!!! The intrigue is killing me :-)

Happy New Year darling, here's hoping that 2006 brings you and yours a whole bunch more luck and happiness and no psycho's other than those who are purely for entertainment purposes.

I'm so happy that you're alive and kicking and back in the writing fray!


10:20 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Ok, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat ready for you to strike up the band. As usual, you have a wonderfully inticing story telling style. I'm imagining the use of lightsabers, dizzying hand-motion camera effects and an epic explosion of lunitic rage.

11:44 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Thanks, guys. In some ways, it's hard to write this story because it's like I'm reliving it. And once was enough.

But you'll get the rest of it anyway. :-)

3:43 AM  
Blogger Oliver said...

Satellite of Love--Mystery Science Theater 3000, right?

Man, you really do need an evil twin.

Then again, with a last name like Palumbo, don't you like, you know, know people who know people who can, you know, take care of things? sonni con i pesci and all that?

12:53 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Well, unfortunately, no such Italians in my family. In fact, if one were looking for Italian stereotypes in my family, one would be sorely disappointed.

Ironically, I actually do have another engagement ring story from the early 1980's involving Ivan Neville and his klepto-friend. ANd it was solved in a way much like you described... I'll have to tell that story!

4:49 AM  

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