I made two New Year resolutions. One is coming across, one is looking sillier and sillier in retrospect.

But today, I want to make a new resolution: when I wake up, I wake up.  so it shall be written, so it shall be done.

Yesterday I woke up at 6 AM, rolled around in bed, took care of my body sewage system, wasted time here and there and sit down at 6:30 and worked. On day job stuff I'd otherwise procrastinate until it was too late. And by 7:30 I had done most of what I had to do for the day, so I went to the office early so I could leave early without reprise.

Today I woke up at 4:30 AM and said "man, this is much too early", and made all sorts of effort to go back to sleep. Which I did, and then I woke up at 10:30, dazed and knew the entire day would be ruined by this brain fog. And it was. Other than a few Anki deck reviews, I got no work – paid or personal - done.

As someone cursed by bipolar disorder, I should be very mindful of consistent sleep schedules. But you know? Screw this. I'm already on heavy medication -- lithium and lamotrigine -- which already fuck up with my ability to male a mark on the world.

Or, I know what you did last Friday.

It has been nearly a week since the events described below happened, but I have spent the past few days completely shell-shocked by them, to the point where I am only just now comfortable talking about them, and even now I'm a nervous wreck.

Tuesday's group was interesting. Since there were three new people we all had to go through introductions again. Through said introductions I learned I was only one of two out of roughly fifteen or so who weren't being forced to attend the class by a probation officer. I already opined on these guys here, where I perhaps uncouthly called them "buttholes". Well I'm in a bit of a mood today after everything that has happened the past few days, so I stand by my somewhat childish insult. There are far unhealthier attitudes than mine flying around about this group, to be sure.

As mentioned, I was only one of two in the class from a psychiatrist's referral rather than legal troubles. The other was a girl named Kara. I met her briefly at last Thursday's meeting, and I learned that, much like myself, she was there to get clean, or at least some facsimile thereof, so she could resume being medicated for bipolar disorder. While I have said a million times I wouldn't wish this hell on anyone, I was thrilled to meet another person who understood first hand what I was going through. Bipolar disorder is painted both by popular culture and by the ignorant alike as something heinous, something that always inevitably results in pandemic tragedy (because we all go on homicidal rampages when in manic mode, see). It's okay, really. I suffer from this affliction and I don't understand it any better than you, but I assure you that my murderous impulses are about as common as my impulse to do the dishes.

Kara and I had this conversation over a brief smoke break, at which point we bonded. She told me she wasn't a fan of booze (so already she is a healthy person for me to have around) but like me she also had a taste for pills, and according to her that was why she was sent to the addicts' program. On Tuesday, however, she painted a far more grim tale.

At every group everyone has the opportunity to speak if they have something pressing and relevant to recovery they need to discuss. Kara chose to tell the story of what happened to her last Friday night. Everyone in the group sat fully riveted to her tale of being held hostage by deranged crack dealers, fearing for her life. She remembered only one detail with perfect clarity; staring at the window in the room where she was held, waiting for headlights to illuminate the smoke-stained window blinds, indicating to her that she was going to be rescued. She was utterly convinced someone was coming to rescue her. That someone never showed up.

That someone was me.

Part of me wants to say I wish I'd never even answered the phone Friday evening, that I wish I hadn't gone to her house. A slightly smaller part of me wishes we hadn't fooled around for two hours in her bedroom, but an even bigger part wishes like hell I had refused when once we were finished she asked me if I'd come with her "to run an errand." I didn't know what the hell kind of errand would bring her to this shitty neighbourhood, but I had a pretty good idea.

Sometimes I hate when I'm right.

I spent the next two hours sitting in a room with no furniture aside from some flimsy folding chairs, watching the dregs of society traipse in and out of the house. Most left proudly holding onto their prize, while others left empty handed for various reasons. This was always unpleasant to witness, but in some strange way I was glad I was able to see this. Perhaps calling myself an addict is a misnomer. Though she sent me to an addictions recovery program, my therapist is fairly convinced that I have merely been self-medicating. The same could not be said for these folks. Perhaps at one time it could, but this was a stage I cannot even fathom reaching. While I can function perfectly well sober, albeit uncomfortably, these people probably couldn't even string that sentence together. I watched a guy completely obliterated, so thoroughly fucked up he couldn't even stand or remember what he had said two seconds prior. Not that anything he was saying was making any damn sense. A woman who would later introduce herself as his wife was becoming furious with him as, much like me, she seemed desperate to get out of this hell. She yelled at him, threatened him, and eventually left without him (thankfully she returned for him after a few minutes). He just didn't give a fuck.

Unfortunately this scenario would repeat itself again when I tried to get Kara to leave. I didn't want to be there, and I didn't want her to be there. I didn't want her touching that shit. I certainly didn't touch it. I've never had any interest in it. It's almost funny how people pick and choose their vices so carefully. But it doesn't matter because I sat right there and let her fucking do it. Maybe I'm a bad friend, who knows. For all my swagger, sometimes I am just convinced no one listens to me. But on the other hand I was afraid of these people and I didn't want to stir up any shit by forcibly dragging her from the house. I leaned over more than once and told her I was ready to leave. She didn't even hear me.

Then the unthinkable happened. Kara and one of the two men who remained in the house at this time went into the other room. I was left with the other guy, who then leaned over to me and said,

"So we all gon' sex now innit we?"

Like the others he made no fucking sense, but I caught the one word that set me off. I fucking lost it. Unfortunately, I have a habit of reacting explosively sometimes when caught off guard. For having an outburst there is probably no worse setting than a house full of fucked up crack fiends, but that didn't stop me.

"What the fuck! No, we're not going to do that. The fuck is wrong with you? We're leaving now."

Of course this set him off, and he proceeded to scream gibberish at me. All the yelling attracted the attention of the others, and Kara and the other guy came running back into the room.

"Christine! What the fuck are you doing? Shut up. Shut up. Shut your fucking mouth."

This further incensed me because she was trying to stifle the only voice of reason in the room. Finally she said to me, "Okay I'm going to sort this out. You wait here." They then disappeared into the back. I waited about ten minutes to cool down before going after them. I knocked on the door, and when no one answered I tried to open it. It was not locked but clearly barricaded somehow as I felt it hit something before someone rushed over to push it shut.

"What the fuck is going on in there? I'm ready to leave."

"Go away, Christine."

Now I was pissed all over again. I pounded on the door, told her I was not spending another minute in this godforsaken hellhole and she was to come take me back to my truck immediately. When she refused I tried to bust the door down with my shoulder, which only induced more yelling. After a threat to call the cops (I don't normally threaten such things, but I was desperate at this point) the door was opened, and I was presented with the most vile scene imaginable. This is the only way I know how to describe it:

The two guys were standing there half-naked. Thankfully their t-shirts were long enough to mostly cover them but that didn't change the fact they were still basically fucking naked. Kara, however, was completely nude, kneeling on the floor in the center of the room with her back to me and her head down. The two men are looking at me with the most evil expressions I've ever seen in my life. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a pistol on the bedside table.

I said...something. I don't know what. I just stood there feeling absolutely violated. Somewhere I worked in "come on, we're leaving" and grabbed Kara's shoulder. "Don't you fucking touch me," she barked, and slapped my hand. I grabbed her again, pulling her to her feet and she whirled around and slapped me across the face. "I said fucking leave." I was furious. Leaving was no longer an option, we were going to fucking leave. At this she just told me to go wait outside and she'd be right there.

I was not having this. As much as I didn't want to abandon her, even though she had hit me and condescended to me and, yes, she did deceive me by bringing me to this fucking hellhole in the first place, I had to get out of there. So I walked the ten or so blocks back to her house where my truck was parked. Because I was racked with guilt for leaving her there with those two psychopaths I tried calling her cell phone a few times. The first time she answered with "I will call you in a fucking minute, okay?" The next couple of times it went straight to a recorded message stating the number was not in service.

I didn't know what the hell to do, so I did the only smart thing and drove home, where I boiled myself in the shower with the hottest water I could stand. The stench of that godawful house had embedded itself in my hair and clothes. I then popped a couple sleeping pills, knowing I would never sleep tonight, and crawled into bed. I had nightmares about what I had seen. I feared what news might be waiting for me when I awoke.

I finally did fall asleep and woke around noon to the sound of my cell phone ringing. It was Kara. She was absolutely distraught and apologized profusely. She told me she didn't know what the fuck happened, that that had never happened to her before, etc. So apparently then I must be the catalyst that prompts you to binge your guts out and fuck strange men for crack. Super. That's going in this year's Christmas card. I really didn't want to see her but since I'd left some of my stuff in her car I had no choice. I agreed to meet her at the corner gas near her house since I needed a pack of cigarettes anyway.

When I got there she was in tears, jumped out of the car and threw her arms around me, sobbing on my shoulder, the whole bit. As I always do I exhausted myself trying to figure out what I should be feeling at that time. I settled for "being in absolute shock". I've been in some unspeakably scary situations before and I still don't even know where to begin placing this one on the scale. I told her that and that only made her cry harder. I asked if those guys had hurt her. She said they didn't even touch her, that they merely yelled at her for a few hours in between fits of extreme paranoia in which they were convinced someone was in the bathroom spying on them. But the kicker was this: she told me that the whole time this was going down she just sat there in that filthy little room, staring at the window, waiting to see headlights. She was convinced she would see them eventually.

"I kept myself sane by telling myself over and over, 'Christine's gonna come back for me. She's going to come save me. I know she will.'"

I didn't say a damn word. I just made her promise never to go back to that place. She promised she wouldn't. I made her promise to lay off the crack. She promised she would. I want to believe her.

Speaking of trust issues, I returned home that same day. This agreement was made with one caveat: if anything at all happened to me, no matter how bad, Kendra wants me to talk to her about it immediately. She assured me she is not checking up on me. It is just that the majority of our problems have arisen from the fact that I try to deal with my problems alone because I am too prideful, or too ashamed, to reach out to others. So even though I really didn't want to, I told her this story. Predictably she was shocked and saddened, until she asked what I had been doing at Kara's house prior to the debacle.

"What?! You fucked her? God, Christine."

To say I let my hormones take over would be a glib interpretation of this incident. At any rate, in hindsight it was clearly a bad decision to get caught up with someone who has the same issues as me, regardless of whether sex was involved or not. While it is comforting to talk to and be intimate with someone who experiences and understands firsthand the same difficulties that I do (and therefore is less likely to leave me), unfortunately this works better in theory than practice. Clearly what has happened here is we have effectively compounded each other's problems, due in no small part to the fact that while we do share similar problems, we also have very different ones as well. Friday's incident could very well be chalked up to my lack of knowledge on the nature of crack addicts.

There have been many impressive write-ups on this subject which I perused before writing this, and they all accurately depict what I saw that night. The sudden frightening mood swings, the dual personalities, ones that put those of someone who is bipolar to shame. I witnessed this with Kara that night. She swears she doesn't remember yelling at me, or hitting me, or anything she said to me. But abuse is abuse is abuse. And a bad friend is a bad friend, even if their bad behaviour isn't "their fault." She is not my friend. She is not someone I need in my life right now, and the shittiest part of all is I met her during the course of trying to improve my life. I didn't want to see her on Tuesday, but I had no choice. We did not speak of the incident. And I have to see her at tomorrow's group too. Nothing is easy.

I think for once in my life, I don't want to be someone's hero.

Things have changed.

Let's see. Since I wrote my last writeup, I've gone off my psychiatric meds; stopped feeling suicidal and depressed; started looking in earnest for employment; had a relative die; attended her funeral in Michigan; reconnected with a long-lost friend; entered into a romantic relationship with that friend; and moved to Michigan to be with her.

Last June, my health insurance ran out. I stopped going to see my psychiatrist and therapist and stopped taking the antidepressant and antianxiety drugs the psychiatrist prescribed me. After a period of withdrawal, I started feeling much better in August—much better than I ever felt, mentally, when I was on any psychiatric drug. In fact, I felt so much better that I began wondering if I ever needed antidepressants in the first place. I certainly needed the antianxiety drugs due to panic attacks and social phobias, but I also wonder if those things were caused by the antidepressants. I don't really know and there's really no way to know for sure. I'm not really worried about it, though. I feel calm now and I don't want to lose that feeling by worrying about things I can't change. I was initially prescribed antidepressants, in 2001, because I felt gender dysphoric. A therapist I started seeing at that time, after I first came out as transgendered, recommended I get on antidepressants, so I saw a psychiatrist and did. And though my gender transition was aborted in mid-2002, I kept taking antidepressants through almost the next eight years. It never occurred to me to stop taking them, and the only time I did, in 2007, was because I had no health insurance then and couldn't afford to see a psychiatrist or pay for the pills. After that, I got health insurance again and went back on antidepressants. Perhaps it was more habit than anything.

Until I started feeling better, I was vigorously avoiding employment or even searching for it. During my stint in a mental hospital in 2009, I learned never to tell anyone else your plans. My plans, while I was extremely depressed and suicidal despite being on antidepressants, were that if I got a job, I'd spend my first paycheck on a gun so I could kill myself. I'm not sure I really wanted to do that, in retrospect, but I held fast to that plan. Until I felt better, I didn't tell anyone about it, but now I feel safe talking about it since it's no longer something I intend to do. As such, since last summer, I've been making an actual effort to find work. Despite sending out a lot of résumés and applications, making a lot of phone calls and sending a lot of emails, I've thus far managed to get just one interview and that was just last week. I thought it went well, and I was told I'd hear from the interviewer by the end of this week.

In December, my grandmother died, aged 89. Merle was actually my step-grandmother, but since my mother's mother died before I was born, she was the only grandmother on my mother's side of the family I ever knew and was my last living grandparent. My father and I drove to Michigan for the funeral, where I saw many relatives (all on my mother's side of the family since my father has no living relatives other than me, my brother and my sister) I hadn't seen in years. The funeral service was Catholic, making it very long and theatrical, as Catholic rituals often are. I have no knowledge of or adult experience with Catholic church stuff so I was a bit lost, not knowing the cues for when to stand up or speak back to the priest in unison with everyone else. I also refused communion, since I'm not Catholic or indeed even Christian, which might have offended some of my relatives. Dawn, my Catholic cousin, sat next to me in the pew and said I was doing fine despite my awkwardness. After enduring her guiding me through when to stand up and what not, I told her it was nice of her to say so anyway.

The funeral took place in the early morning and was over by noon. Since the temperature was hovering around 0°F in Michigan that day, it was decided the burial would be attended only by my aunt (Merle's daughter) and a small number of other people only, so I didn't go. In any case, Merle was always very nice to everyone, including me, and it was sad to see her go. I'll miss her.

After returning to the hotel, I took a nap and waited for the night. I had plans to meet up with Jennifer, an old friend I hadn't seen since 1998, when we were coworkers at Hot Topic. She picked me up from the hotel and we went to a National Coney Island for dinner and beer. We talked incessantly throughout the meal. It was really nice to see her again and I felt more comfortable around another person than I had since... well, since I don't know when. Since a long time ago. After dinner, half-drunk, we drove around in search of a decent bar so we could drink more. The one we chose happened to have a round of bar trivia in progress, so we played as we continued drinking. We won a gift card for $10 off our next purchase there, but we drunkenly convinced the wait staff to let us use it against our check that night. During the game, I was running the answers up to the emcee and on my way up there once I impulsively kissed Jen, on the head. After that, we got increasingly flirty with each other. We ended the night at her place.

The following morning, I returned to Nashville. Thereafter, we talked online all the time and planned a time when we could see each other again, which turned out to be the days surrounding New Years. She flew to Nashville to see me. We stayed a Comfort Inn downtown, which seemed to always be loud and full of people partying. We spent the actual 2010/2011 turnover in the back of a cab, on the way to goth night at the Rutledge, which we had some difficulty finding. It was raining that night, and since we were stuck in traffic in the back of a cab, we decided to walk, thinking the Rutledge couldn't be too far away. It ended up being about six blocks away and almost everyone we asked didn't know where it was, until finally a police officer knew and pointed us in the right direction. We were not soaked, but definitely moist when we arrived. Nevertheless, it was a nice club night, and it was the first time I'd been clubbing in a very long time. I even danced, which I hadn't done in an even longer time. We met some nice people and went to someone's house after the club closed for more drinking.

The rest of Jen's visit consisted of shopping, dining out, being affectionate and acting weird in public. Or at least, we might have been acting weird, given how many people would stare unabashedly at us wherever we went.

Jen returned home on January 2. We resumed talking online and decided that I would move to Michigan, into her home, as soon as possible. That ended up being January 7, five days later, and I've been there since.

As you may have already surmised, I'm in love. We both are. It's a strange yet exciting feeling to be in love, now, after I thought I'd never have the slightest chance at being with someone again. I really thought it would never happen given how poorly I've spent most of the last several years feeling. Jen felt the same way: that she would never find anyone again, either. So we have become each other's refuge. I'm still getting accustomed to being with someone again, since it's been so long, but I feel wonderful. Jen makes me very happy and she tells me I make her very happy. As it turned out, our relationship was a long time in the making. We had interest in each other back in the 1990s but we were both dating other people. Now that we've been able to share stories about that time, we apparently intimidated each other, so even if we hadn't been dating other people, we probably wouldn't have got together back then. But we're together now and that's all that's really important. She's making me happy and I'm making her happy. What more could I ask for?

Going from a prolonged period of waiting to die to love and happiness so quickly has been a crazy ride, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am where I belong.

For each daylog I post there are two or three others that sit in scratch pads wondering if they will ever be released. Sometimes I wonder why I write, then I have days like today and drive home thinking, I should really do laundry, dishes, spend time with my girls, pay bills and I have so many ideas racing through my mind I can't concentrate on anything until some of them get safely into a scratch pad where they can't bother my brain anymore.

On the discussion board for tonight: can my job be saved? When I was hired I couldn't believe it. After I found out that I was getting promoted I drove home wondering if I had dreamed everything. The past few months have been interesting. I am the kind of person who can say anything about another person because there is no paper trail. My boss is good at what she does. She is very busy and when people are busy it is easy to see where their priorities lie. Her priority is not my department, she also handles the outside sales force and that carries demands beyond what we make on her time.

People who are busy have to have an effective organizational system or things will start falling through the cracks. At work I know what I am doing is important so when a woman who isn't my boss spoke to me about why I had called an account I explained that the account had been on my list. Tonight I stayed late talking to a Jewish woman who is a dynamite closer but has some personality defects that make working with her difficult if you do not know how to handle her.

This woman is savvy, she's been around and she's forgotten more than I will ever know about the footwear industry. Formerly she was the Customer Service Manager and I know that she gets frustrated because her ideas are not taken seriously however I think I also know why people have a tendency to blow her off. People who care too much are almost worse than people who don't care at all. Sometime I would like to study people with control issues. In her case I think that she wants control because she sees things being fucked up and knows there is a better system out there.

What she hasn't accepted is that beating people over the head with a sledge hammer does not often win friends. It will influence people, those who have undermined her intelligence are going to be sorry later. I don't trust her however I need her help which is why I was willing to sit in her office and listen to her put down me and others I work with. What she said was true, my department is ineffective and inefficient. My boss is always telling us that we are doing a great job. I believe that she thinks we are however we could be even better than we are currently if we had the right training.

Winning back people takes time. I need to be going somewhere at my job or I am going to get more frustrated than I am and I don't want to quit. I like, maybe even love some of my coworkers. They encourage me, I can talk to them, they care about me and we can have fun and get things done. I know my supervisor is frustrated, the lack of communication is appalling and I hate how each department builds themeselves up and tears other departments down.

Home is another topic I avoid writing about mainly because it is frustrating and I don't have answers. The other day my husband and I fought in front of the girls. It doesn't happen often but my youngest was crying, my oldest was furious with me and listening to my husband was sort of like listening to my coworker shred my department. You can say what you want about a certain person or situation however name calling is less effective than solutions and coping strategies. I am not the perfect wife, I am never going to be what he wants, however realizing that and accepting it are two different things.

Driving things seem clear. This is what I need to do if I want outcome X. Then I get home or arrive at work and my plan starts unraveling because I am no longer in control of my environment the way I was in my car. I want to be able to work from  home for a day or two during the week. I think I would get more work done because I would have fewer distractions. I would save on gas, for the most part I don't mind the drive. It allows me to decompress but driving is a dangerous past time.

If I look into the future I can see the people in my family traveling in different directions. Eventually I will no longer have children living at home. I don't stay here because of them. I stay because I don't want to go deeper into debt by moving out. Maybe this is not courageous but relationships are not always black and white or easily dismissed. A long time ago someone I know said they knew what the problems were going to be when this person married their spouse but they underestimated how bad it would be. That's kind of where I'm at now.

*I found this cleaning out my scratch pads. I had over four hundred so I decided to go through and do some housekeeping. Cheers!

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