I had been having such a good time sleeping in my bed, instead of Ginger's bed left behind in the basement office, that I thought I might continue even after Kris returned from vacation. She slept in the Yellow Room - what did it matter to her if I slept in the Green Room?
Quite a lot, as it happened.
Wednesday the 13th I ran through half a dozen audits, trying to clean things up before a Thursday of meetings at the VA. At some point in the evening, Kris got home and she looked terrible. I asked what was wrong.
She explained that her sister had been verbally abusive on vacation. Abusive to Kris, abusive to their mother, abusive to my niece Taryn. Finally Kris decided (she said) that she had had enough, and took the train back to Seattle. This involved getting a ride from the coast inland, but I didn't ask how she managed that. She spent the next couple of days hanging with her mom, and reported that they were most congenial.
None of this was a surprise to me. Suzy had always had a mean streak, and her behavior calling the cops the last time she was at my house was pure dickery. On the other hand, when Ginger lived in my house, she and Kris had a great time going shopping, but mostly sitting around and drinking and "talking smack" as they put it. I am sure Kris missed her drinking companion when Ginger moved out.
Kris seemed actually distraught about Suzy's behavior. I believe she had looked forward all year to powwow, and she had the choice of staying and being abused, or fleeing. I'm not sure why she felt that way; she had plenty of other family there to help her, but who knows? I'm just reporting what she told me.
I reassured her that abuse like that is abnormal; it's not Kris' fault but Suzy's. I myself have ample reason to heap verbal coals on Kris' head, and I have on occasion, but Suzy does not. If anything, Kris has been too kind to her, and this repayment must be hard to bear.
Kris had another problem. She had gone to Big Al's for her customary Wednesday of grillin' and chillin' (after which she often comes home stinking drunk, and by that I mean literally stinking, but if she's in a good mood that is not really a problem, except of course for my emotional distress.)
She told me there is a man there who she does have romantic interest in. She told me very explicitly in email, and he apologized, but he didn't seem to get the message because he keeps bugging her. She asked two other male friends to sit on either side of her, and eventually the guy went away. The thing is, Kris expressed surprise that this should happen. How could someone think that she was available, she asked me? And why didn't he get a clue?
I explained in terms of this Cracked article - basically, we men are taught from birth that we are owed a woman. If we do all the right things, we'll get one.
She thought that was hilarious. And it was. And it was reassuring to see her laughing, may be letting off a little steam, maybe coming out of that slough of despair she was sinking into.
Her distress may have been merited by the situation but her holding on to is is biologically based, and abetted of course by what she'd been drinking at Big Al's. And in my unwisdom, when we sat down to talk, I poured her and me one.
We had a very good conversation for hours - hours I should have been spending completing auditting reports, but it's important to help out a housemate in distress - and I had the ghost of a hope that perhaps we were getting to some stability. I talked about meeting a few women over the weekend and some funny recommendations a friend of Brian's had made at the party at Company.
Then Kris's eyebrows came down. Her jaw set.
She said there was something we had to talk about.
Had I slept in the bed in the green room?
Yes, I said. I don't lie. I might if I were better at it, but I've never had the skill. Besides, I had thought it over during the week of Kris being gone, and I realized that she was just bullying me.
We had never had a discussion about housing arrangements. First she had ordered me to leave, and I declined. I explained in writing the impact of Washington's community property laws and so forth, and she blew some money talking with a lawyer, and she backed off. I had made an offer in compromise, and suggested that I sleep in the basement office for a while. She then gave me that order as if it was her own idea and a great concession; I said I'd do it for a while to keep the peace.
It wasn't so bad, but Ginger had left the basement in filthy condition. The cats shit in a box down there, and had barfed all over the rug, and between one thing and another the rug was ruined and the basement is smelly. Still, I'm not terribly fancy and it avoided conflict so what the heck.
But now, after a week of being able to sleep in my bed in the green room - which has great windows and air flow and so forth - I thought we could get to the point where we could just sleep in separate rooms like adults.
She started shouting at me. She also shouted something about the shower.
I had realized that shouting back at her is what her disease wants. It understands that reaction and likes it and sometimes it leads one of the shouters to do something stupid. I sure didn't want that!
So I told Kris that I was done with her bullying me and walked out the door. I went down to the far end of the street, passing some many houses of friends who appeared to be living normal, loving lives, and walked home.
I went in the door and into the kitchen where I dinner dishes were by the sink. I put them in the dishwasher. Kris stuff up, jaw set angrily, and sponged out the sink, saying it was greasy. Then she literally squinted at the sponge, decided it was dirty, and soaped and washed it. She said loudly that a sponge doesn't get like this in normal use and why was I so dirty. I still retained the facility of being surprised at this, and said what? She told me that I was dirty, I never cleaned, I was a pig.
I couldn't think of anything useful to say. I am somewhat casual and also pretty busy, but who likes being called a pig - especially by someone you had just finished nurturing. I said good night, walked to the Green room in the back, and closed the door.
Kris started shouting. She shouted all sorts of commands at me. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore her, but she opened the bedroom door (fortunately I hadn't had time to undress, or who knows what she would have done) and shrieked at me to get out. I said I wanted to sleep and it wasn't her bedroom. She said it was (even though she slept in the Yellow Room) and that if I didn't leave, she was calling 911.
Well, I'd already been through the 911 thing and although it turned out o.k. for me, I didn't want to do it again. So I said, fine, I'm going. I headed down the hall to go downstairs and she shouted that it was too late, she was going to call 911 anyway.
This was kind of interesting. I understand ... although I disapprove of ... her threatening to make phony 911 calls as a means of bullying me, but once I had complied with her bullying, what was the point? Perhaps it was supposed to punish me so I wouldn't disobey her again. Or maybe she was just crazy mad, I don't know. I admit I had a momentary impulse to grab her phone - and maybe that's what the disease was hoping for. One tiny bit of physicality on my part, and everything would come down on my head - with some justice, to be sure. So that was just not going to happen. Period.
(She has hit me before. It was back when we were in the Centennial, and she was raging. She doesn't hit as hard as some of the guys from aikido, that's for sure, and anyway, I know a single hit is unlikely to be permanently damaging, so the pain from it was merely distressing; it was not something to make me react stupidly, like by hitting back. If this sounds odd, try some aikido or whatever and you'll see; the pain of getting hit is just a thing, and it is most emphatically not something that you have to react to.)
I headed downstairs and heard her start talking with the 911 dispatcher. Well, nothing can be done about that. I got my laptop, and then sat out in the front yard on the swing working on stuff until the police arrived. I figure it's nice to be right there when they show up so no-one is inconvenienced.
One cop talked with me outside while the other went inside and I suppose talked with her. I say "I suppose" because I tried very had to say only what I knew with my own eyes, and not to speculate. These guys were here to do a job and it's no good trying to get clever. When the cop asked what was going on, I said we were married but estranged, she had been drinking, she started shouting and threatening to call the police, and here we are. He asked if she had been hit and I said nobody had hit anybody. I think the other cop asked how long we'd been married and I said more than ten years. Also at some point I think one of them asked what my plans were and I said I planned to go in the back door and sleep in the basement.
They then went inside and I suppose talked with her, then they came out, explained that there was no
domestic violence issue and that I was free to go. I went downstairs and tried to sleep, but naturally it's hard after something like this. I'm really not accustomed to having the cops called on me. I would prefer to talk things out. I also felt an extra dose of betrayal because I had given Kris hours of my time, which I could have put to better use, being supportive and helpful, and she ended up bullying me anyway.
Obviously, there is a problem.
I don't like being bullied; it's something I've put up with all my life, but it may just be my karma and I will have to learn to be happy with it, so long as the bully is in a position to cause a lot of trouble and has the will ... fueled by liquor ... to do so.
Lots of people are worse off. I have my writing!