Thursday, August 9, 2007

All Teeth and Toenails (Warning: Long and Ranty) a dear friend of mine says when things get tough. Hang on with what you've got left, even if all you've got to hang on with is teeth and toenails.

That's about where I've been. I've wanted to post, but haven't had the energy. I feel myself turning inwards, wanting more time alone, in my own head, and I'm not sure if it's that I need a time of contemplation, or if I'm just depressed and don't have the energy to deal with people.

Financially I'm not bad off. All of August's bills are paid already and I have some money left, and the guys who owed me a thousand bucks gave me (finally!) a check for it Monday. It hasn't cleared yet and I don't know if I'll believe it's really there until it does, but it's a sign of hope, enough money to keep me going for another couple months if I don't get a job, the beginnings of an emergency fund if I do.

And it's a good thing, because Tim's only got fifty dollars to last him through until he gets paid again on Monday. They're moving, you see, into a townhouse on the other side of Longmont. They're renting it from friends of ours and it's a good thing, because they got to spread their security deposit out over a couple of months; without that, they wouldn't have been able to afford to move. Even so I'm going to have to bail them out, because Ray refuses to look for a goddamn job.

Yes, I'm bitter about this, and upset, and angry, and trying really, really hard not to take it out on anyone. Yelling at Ray won't help either of us a bit, especially since that's how Lewis tried to 'fix' my depression. All it'll do is make Ray feel even worse about himself than he does already, and make me feel like a shit.

Because yes, I've been there. Never as bad as Ray is, but far enough down that I should be able to understand where he is and why he has been unable to do anything about it. But at the same time I know what helps for me, and I know what's worked for many, many others who've fought depression, and when I try to hand him the tools I know work, he either refuses them, or thanks me politely and puts them down.

I can't make him use them. I can't make him go to a psychiatrist or psychologist. I can't make him get up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast right away, get out of the house for a while. I can't make him do the little exercise I taught him for learning how to focus on things outside yourself, or make him find the best way to remind him of what he's said he'd do today.

It's frustrating. And that's the understatement of the month, I tell you what. Watching, just watching, as he spirals further down; watching as Tim slowly burns himself up doing all the work for both of them -- he's the one with the job, he cooks dinner, does the housework; he found a place for them to live and did the work to get that done. Ray didn't even have an opinion on the place: 'It's okay, I guess.' They start moving in a week. Tim has asked Ray, again and again, to work on cleaning the house, organizing stuff to pack, figuring out what they'll keep and what can go, getting stuff into boxes. None of that has happened.

And I know what'll happen. It's happening already. When Tim's exhausted from working along day and making dinner and doing the laundry, and Sarah needs to go for a walk and Ray is upstairs on his computer or has already gone to bed or is staring at the TV, I walk the dog. When dinner is done, I clean up the kitchen. I chop onions and zucchini and occasionally even make dinner myself, and feel guilty because I don't have the energy to take more of the burden off of Tim -- and Ray does nothing.

I'll help Tim pack, I'll help Tim move. Ray will help some, mind you; in fits and starts, easily distracted, and only with someone standing over him to make sure he stays on task. I'll help Tim figure out what furniture goes where in this house I won't live in. I'll help Tim figure out where to put the litterbox so the cats can get to it and the dog can't. Tim and I will stand in the kitchen and discuss where the glasses go, and the pots, and the knife block, and at the end of the day I'll go home, and Tim will take up, once again, the task of taking care of Ray.

Yeah, I'm bitter.

I put most of what energy I have left, after work and trying to keep Tim afloat and just keeping myself together, into looking for a job. I apply for every job that I think I can do, regardless of whether I'm qualified on paper, or whether it's something I think I'll enjoy. I apply for jobs an hours' commute away. I apply for jobs I'm sure I'll hate, but will pay enough to live on. And for my efforts I get the occasional interview, and barely enough money to pay my rent and utilities. My credit card debt piles up, slow but steady. Last week, for the first time in something like three months, I spent money on something which wasn't strictly a necessity: I spent two dollars on an ice cream cone. And felt guilty about it for hours.

Ray gets several hundred dollars from his parents every month. He gets a place to live, dinner cooked for him every night, his laundry done, his internet access and his PS2. Most days he does nothing before Tim gets home: nothing. I will often arrive there after work to discover that he hasn't eaten anything yet and is thus cranky, that he hasn't so much as gotten dressed, that he's apologizing to Tim for whatever it was he said he'd do and hasn't. He's forgotten to get meat out to thaw and so it'll be awhile before Tim or I can even cook dinner.

He hasn't looked for a job because, frankly, he has no reason to. Other than apologizing to Tim, there are no consequences for his failure to look. He has money, a place to live, food to eat, the diversions he enjoys. Why should he bother?

...and truly, this is unfair. He knows he needs to get a job; he knows that he's being unfair to Tim. He knows that he should be doing more and he knows that he needs to do something about the depression. It's not so simple as to say he doesn't bother. He feels that he cannot, and that's a hard feeling to overcome. I know. I've been there.

...but when I see an evening like last night, it's hard to remember that.

Tim's got a lot going on. It's the busy season where he works, so he comes home exhausted. Last night, he came home and immediately set about working on a couple of projects he's working on, things he's promised to various people. Things with deadlines coming up. I sat in his room with him while he did some research on the one project and we talked about the things he found -- the transition between paper and parchment in medieval Europe, the arrest of the Knights Templar, the Holy Roman Empire's repeated disposal of popes in the fourteenth century. Fascinating stuff; stuff we both enjoy learning and talking about. Also, stuff that'll help him with the things he needs to get done.

Ray, in the meantime, had rented Carnivale in order to do research for a live action roleplaying game he's going to be in, and sat in the living room watching it. I've heard it's a good show; it's something I'd be very interested to see, when I have the spare time and energy. I didn't want to pick it up partway through, though, so I figured I'd leave it for later.

At one point Ray came in and asked Tim to come out and watch the show with him. Tim demurred: he's got more things to do than he has time to do them, and if the show is as good as I've heard it is, he doesn't have the time to watch it as it deserves. He has better things to do with his time, right now.

Ray took it personally, to the point of slamming pots as he made dinner. (Okay, he does occasionally make dinner; see what I mean when I say I'm overstating the problem? Though somehow Tim or I wind up spending as much time and energy 'helping' as Ray does cooking...but I digress.) I guess he heard 'I'm too busy right now' as 'I'd rather do these things than spend time with you', which I can see, I guess, butit doesn't seem to occur to Ray that he could a) offer to help; b) take up some of the other chores so that Tim has more time; and/or c) sit in there with Tim and I and talk about the same stuff we talk about, thus spending time with him.

I heard him mutter, later, that Tim doesn't have any time to spend with him, and I...was, frankly, appalled. They live together. Ray has nothing taking him out of the house, and away from Tim. Tim is nearly always accessible; he's not the type to lock himself into his room and tell people to go away. Heck, I get plenty of time with Tim, and I don't even live there! So what's holding Ray apart from going and spending time with Tim?

Fundamentally, they have very few interests in common. Tim is a history geek, a student of politics, agriculture, and the economy; he'll talk religion, philosophy, cooking, the arts; he's a fan of old movies and older portraiture. He's written on the optimal mixture of feed to help your cows give more milk, on usury in Italy in the 1320s, on the origins of heraldry, the methods and patterns of Roman naming practices. Pretty broad, right? He and I can always find something to talk about. He can find something to talk about with just about anyone.

Ray talks And movies. And TV shows. And stuff he found on the Internet.

Many's the time that Tim and I are talking about some sweeping topic and all Ray can find to contribute is 'did you see the movie where...'. And most of the time neither of us have; neither Tim nor I are particularly a patron of pop culture. I haven't watched TV on any kind of regular basis since the early 90s, and Tim gave it up probably ten years ago. We're both gaming geeks, sure, but it's a hobby: we live in the real world, and so we spend more time talking about the real world. Ray's conversational contributions rarely involve the real world.

I guess it's a lack of experience as much as anything else. Ray's never been through so much as a recession; he's never held down a job that he needed, so never had to worry about losing it due to the vagaries of the market; never been the victim of discrimination, so never worried about who was getting elected where. He hasn't got a lot of life experience to talk about.

But I remember when I was twenty-two. Yeah, I was self-absorbed and self-referential and frankly just plain dumb in a lot of ways. But never to the point that I had nothing to talk about other than what anime the topic at hand reminds me of.


And at the same time, I still love him. How the hell do I deal with this?

I find myself praying a lot. Quick little prayers -- 'God, please don't let me say the dumb thing I'm about to say'. 'God, please help me not blow up over this'. 'God, please help me not see this as badly as I am'. 'God, please help me not to advise Tim to dump Ray and be done with it'. As Tim said to me about his silence on the matter when I first considered leaving my ex, there wasn't a lot he could say; he had a dog in the fight. And I certainly have a dog in this fight.

If I keep thinking the way I have been, it's only going to get worse. Things that shouldn't annoy me already do. I'm getting close to the point that, even if Ray does get meds or a counsellor or whatever it is he needs to be a sane and useful human being (at least as much as any of us are, anyway) it'll be too late for he and I to make it work. There'll be too much anger and hurt on my side for me to ever be able to make it through. And I don't know what to do about it. Stay away? I don't want to leave Tim to deal with this alone, and I simply need to be with Tim sometimes. I've already tried patently putting up with it, sweeping along behind Ray and picking up the dropped things and undone jobs he's left behind but it only makes me feel like I'm his mother, and 1) I'm not anyone's mother and 2) that's really not a good way to feel about someone you're supposed to be trying to be in a relationship with.

Even Tim fears that Ray will suck him dry, and only then realize that he needs o grow up now that Tim h nothing left to take care of him with -- and then leave, to go on with his life. And I'll be left with a broken, bereft, drained-dry Tim -- again -- because that's how his ex-wife left him.

I can only conclude that Ray isn't good for Tim, not a true partner; and that Tim's taking care of Ray is not giving Ray the impetus he needs to grow up an start taking care of himself. I can also conclude that I have a dog in the fight, that I'm too close and too biased to have a prayer of holding an opinion that's anything but rot. And so I try to encourage Ray to grow up, hand him tools which he'll not use; I try to support Tim, help him with dinner, give him a shoulder to cry on (would that he could!) or an ear to vent into, help him pick up the house and shop for the groceries, even as I barely have the energy to hold myself together, even as my money drains away and so does the energy I need for myself.

I'll happily advise others about self-care. I don't know when I'm supposed to do that for myself, though.


Mrs. M said...

"Enabling" was the word that kept coming to mind for me, and then I read this "I can only conclude that Ray isn't good for Tim, not a true partner; and that Tim's taking care of Ray is not giving Ray the impetus he needs to grow up an start taking care of himself. " Which makes me think you see it, too.

It's a hard spot to be in. Hand-holding and cups of tea to you, Kate.

Rev. Sharon said...

Oh this was painful to read... SO painful... I wanted to hug you and Tim, and (unfairly) wanted to slap the crap out of Ray... I just left a marriage where this was the name of the game, only I was Tim and my ex was Ray and you and my son Brian would have been in much the same emotional boat. I tried for years to "fix this". I begged I pleaded I bitched I whined I moaned... I did it all myself, enabling all the way, and of course it never got better--and I feel like a failure. :-(

My immediate instinct is to pray and pontificate--but I won't burden you with the pontificating. {{{hugs}}} Instead I'll give you my prayers and hope they help... and if you ever need to rant, you know how to reach me.

Much love,

Kate said...

'Enabling' -- that's exactly the word I haven't had the guts to say to Tim. I'm glad other people are seeing it, too, but then again, you're only seeing it through my eyes...

I don't know. I've sort of got to the point of 'hang on until something happens'. And praying, though there's a whole lot more 'God, help' than 'God, thank you'.

And thank you both.

LittleMary said...

well this is just crappy. sounds SO frustrating. prayers, prayers, prayers your way.

Kate said...

Thank you, Little Mary, thank you so much...