[Trigger warnings for a bad relationship, victim blaming, paranoid delusions, perceived stalking, shoutiness, so forth.]
Had my first in person encounter with actual paranoid delusions today. Maybe not my first, it can be hard to tell when, say, a random person you don't know starts going on about things you don't know about whether there is some basis in reality for what they say, or whether they're delusional. Call it the first confirmed encounter. Or at least the first encounter when the person having them isn't a random stranger.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, the day didn't start there. It ended there.
Two of my plants are lost to me. One died a while ago from lack of water. It was in an extremely small container, the water dried up fast, by the time I realized what had happened it was too late, I tried to bring it back, but all evidence is that it really did die back then.
The other one I couldn't figure out what was wrong. It had water, all should have been well but it was shedding leaves fast. When some new leaves appeared I tried to make sure it always had water. I think I overdid it, flooded out the new leaves. I did finally figure out what was killing it, the changing season meant the window it was in wasn't getting enough light.
I've moved it, but it looks like the damage has been done.
I really cared about those plants. They're dead now.
Things went down hill from there.
One of the downsides about being unemployed is that people assume you have time to help them with what they need. One of the downsides of actually caring is that saying no isn't always an option.
So today I was to help with a house and with yard work because if the evil witch of the [whichever direction she's from now, she moves around a lot] comes back to see it trashed lives will be ruined and the illusion of stability will be shattered and replaced suffering and gnashing of teeth.
And while I'm being poetical, very bad things will happen if improvements are not made soon.
I hate working there, I hate the way it's open ended, I hate the fact that it never seems to end, I hate the fact that I've cleaned the damned place before, several times, and none of this edge of disaster panicked labor would be necessary if it had simply been kept clean.
I also hate waiting. Much of last week (not the last seven days, the actual Sunday to Saturday period before the one we are in) was spent waiting. Expecting to head over there in a moment and so unable to accomplish anything because the need to be able to stop in a moment and leave puts a serious damper on any projects one might attempt. And then for days it never happened only to, after a day wasted in waiting, be told it was being rescheduled to the next day and repeat.
Finally some work was done near the end of the week.
Today I was supposed to go back and do more work. No waiting should have been involved, I was asked with the car at the ready. But then third party decided that he wanted something else done first. Waiting, waiting, waiting and when waiting was finally finished, he decided he didn't want to make use of wha t was done during the waiting anyway.
We got into the car, he made a joke about murder. I didn't get the joke, the person he was joking about killing had to explain it to me.
Squicky power dynamics involved in the driving.
He started talking about how I had to see something, she knew he was being an asshole and told him to stop. I didn't know. He was building something up so that I could be unimpressed at the lack of progress and so look down on her. He claimed that he wasn't, but his shouted remarks at the end of the day indicated otherwise. He thought it was a monument to failure and by pretending to want to show it off to me he was intending to rub salt in her wounds.
She caught it, preempted it, and was derided for being accusatory and unfair. His own words would later vindicate her and condemn her.
Before we got to the work, there was a stop for food. Old cartoons were playing. Sam and Ralph at one point, but one without the friendly off duty chatter that makes Sam and Ralph Sam and Ralph. Then one with Pepe le Pew. He praised the skunk.
He said that the cat never said no. I said that the cat never said anything and her inability to speak was no excuse. He said she brought it on herself by looking like a skunk.
Her: That's like saying she deserved it because of the way she dressed.
Me: That is saying she deserved it because of the way she dressed.
[I've forgotten the exact words leading up to this but they were something like, "I do believe that" and then:]
Him: If a woman walks into a dark ally dressed like a tramp she brought it on herself.
Finally at the house, some good interactions with ducks, he goes inside to take a nap rather than help. Eventually we have to deal with the inside, it makes the problems outside look like perfection in comparison. We also need to fashion the parts for some of the work outside. I do that in the basement, she attempts to corral the mess inside.
He makes it all about him. Every noise made is a personal attack on him. Every bit of work done is an affront to him.
While I'm down stairs the shouting starts. It moves. There's confusion on her part, anger on his, as it approaches the door I hear her make a small sound of pain. He responds by shouting that she hit him with a shovel (as in, she hit him right that moment). I come up stairs, quietly. The noise has stopped, I don't know what's waiting for me. I see him walking back toward where he was taking a nap. I see her nowhere.
I realize he's locked her out. Of her home. No one here owns the house, but it is her home and he is her guest and without her he would have no place here. A guest just locked his host out of her home. Sudden't Aeneas doesn't seem like quite as much of an asshole as he did before. At least he never locked Dido out of Carthage.
I let her back in the house. The shovel is on the other end of the house. Nowhere near where they were when he claimed to have been hit with a shovel. It is not lost on me that his faking being hit with a shovel happened right after she sounded like she was in pain.
It is not lost on me that, while it would be completely impossible and unbelievable for him to actually have been hit with said shovel when he claimed to be, it would be completely reasonable for someone, on causing another audible pain, to realize that there was an audience who couldn't see what was going on but could hear it and try to sway the audience to his side by making himself out to be the bigger victim.
He comes out. Words are exchanged, shouting starts.
My voice is ragged and my body shakes. One of his points falls flat, his shouted argument was bullshit and I managed to shut it down. He changes tack. You see my voice is ragged and my body shakes. He's showing just as much emotion, but he doesn't need to.
He turns it off, acts like he never raised his voice, speaks in calm measured tones and fluid graceful gestures. Paints me as emotional and irrational. I've seen people do it on the internet, I've never seen it done in real life before.
At the time I assume the fury of emotion was an act, something he thought could get him off the hook for his actions. Later it will be suggested to me that the opposite is true. The calm was an act. This is more disturbing. It means that at any point he could be seething with rage and not let on in the least.
In any case, something here is massively disingenuous.
Musical chairs. At one point I'm alone with her, I'm alone with him. At some point, I think the part between when we're all in the same place at the same time, something new comes up: he says he can't get away, he says she's stalking him.
She sends people to follow him in cars, she begs him to come back, she has a network of people who make her impossible to escape.
It doesn't all come out at once. First it's the stalking. I tell him if that's the case he should leave, he's traveled the country, and done it without funds. If he really thinks she's stalking him he can be beyond her reach.
I doubt she wants me telling him to dump her. If she wanted to she could break up with him. But if he's going to make the argument that what he does is justified because she's stalking him, I'm going to make the argument that it's not healthy to be in a relationship with a stalker so he should get out. His claims made no sense. His mobility is like nothing I've ever seen before in non fictional characters. And his electronic footprint is nonexistent, if anyone could escape a dedicated stalker, he could. And escaping her in particular could be accomplished by moving to the next town over.
So I argued, that if he was so troubled by the supposed stalking, leave. He has no local ties, he's not from here. She's the only thing tying him to the area, when they broke up in the past he was in a different state in the blink of an eye. If he wanted to be off her radar, he could be.
But then she asked for details of her stalking. And that's where the delusions come up.
When he dumped her she deserved it, and she knew it.
She decided to change her life for the better and be a better person. At first she was thinking of this in terms of getting him back, but she realized that being a better person would be a good thing regardless of whether or not it got him back.
It would be better for herself, her friends, her family, any future boyfriends. It would be better in itself, and that had nothing to do with him.
So she decided that rather than try to get him back she would try to improve herself, put her life in order, improve herself. Once she did that if he was still around, perhaps she could suggest they get back together.
Then she got a call from him. He wanted her back.
She didn't think it was a good idea, she'd had this epiphany about needing to be a better person, and she decided that the best way to do this was working it out on her own, and she was worried that getting back into a relationship with him would derail that whole self improvement plan.
He convinced her that they ought to get back together.
Then came wrinkle two. He'd gotten pretty far. This only just happened and he was already in another state. She had to make a long drive in the middle of the night on roads she wasn't familiar with to get to him.
That's how it happened in reality.
I remember, I was there. Not in the car as she drove, but I was the one who she bounced all her ideas off of eventually deciding to stay single for a while while she worked out her personal stuff. I was the one she contacted to say, "I don't know what to do, now he wants me back but I just decided to try to work things out on my own."
This is how he remembers it:
Every car that picked him up while he hitchhiked away was staffed by one of her goons. As were cars that followed him while he was on foot. In the gas station where he waited for her, a gas station that she couldn't even find on her first try, was one of her friends making death threats if he didn't treat her right.
(In reality she has at most two friends in that state, and she doesn't even know if they're still in the state. She didn't have one at the station, as I said she didn't even know where the station was.)
In his mind she has an infinite network of supporters and he cannot escape her grasp. There is no where he can run to be free of her. He has to stay with her because it's the only way to not have her stalking her.
And that's where it the day ended.
I'm back home now. It was not a good day.