Out of the Valley of Shadow

The cycle of always having to play second to Rick’s wife had played into a depression from which I’d never fully recovered.  Then being thrown away like a disposable fork launched me into a deep depression.

Things were not going well with Jessica.  She wouldn’t finish putting her stuff away, so we had boxes in the living area.  Her deposit check had bounced and she was making excuses about getting that straightened out.  I’d caught her in several lies, and she hadn’t paid her rent for this month.  Worst of all, she confronted Rick over at the house when she went over to hang out with Chris.  She’d made a scene and he called me kind of pissed about it.

Days that I worked were better.  Work was a good distraction.  But I was so emotionally unstable, I’d actually have to struggle to get my emotions under control as I stood in front of the cameras teaching a live televised class.

My sister suggested that I talk to my doctor about medication.  I wasn’t quite ready for that, yet.  It seemed to me to be like cheating.  I buried myself in books, mostly audio, and mostly fantasy like Paolini, Rowling, and other young adult fiction.

Then my sister called me with a suggestion.  Her daughter, my niece, had found a kitten in the backyard.  My sister, Audra, told me I needed the cat.   The idea of investing my heart in anything at that moment terrified me.  I declined.

If you’re lucky enough to have a sister, you might know that when they know you’re hurting, they can be relentless.  She believed that I needed that kitty, and she wouldn’t give up.   I ended up taking her home.  I named her Sweetness and that’s exactly what she was.

My sister also convinced me to see a doctor.  The doctor prescribed Zoloft, and for the first couple of days, I felt like an absolute zombie.  By the end of the week, I began to realize just how badly I’d been controlled by irrational fears… because I didn’t have them anymore.

In the meantime, Jessica and I were fighting regularly.  I told her to move out.  She told me she didn’t have to, because her name was on the lease, too.  I’m not proud of this, but I was older and wiser than she was and frankly, smarter.  I used that to intimidate her into moving out as quickly as she could.  I basically bullied her until she started to show signs that she would leave if she could afford it.  I told her that if she was out by the end of the month, I’d reimburse her deposit.

I had put an ad on Craigslist that I was looking for a roommate.  I’d had several promising responses.  One was a guy who was going through a divorce.  He seemed nice and professional and I told him that if he wanted the room it was his.  He initially accepted, but later emailed me to tell me that considering the divorce he was going through, he didn’t think it would be wise to move in with a woman he was so attracted to.

A woman contacted me from Oregon.  She sounded perfect.  But he couldn’t move in until July, and I needed someone by June.  Then there was a guy who was ready to move in and though I wasn’t as excited about him as a possible roommate as I was about the other two, he was ready to write me a check that day.  He wrote a check for $200 for the deposit and another check for the rent.  I immediately put them in the bank and told Jessica that she needed to be ASAP.

She fussed and screamed now and then, but she wanted the money so she finally got out.  I had the locks changed and waited for June 1 to roll around so the new roomie could move in.  On May 31, the new roommate called to tell me that he needed his checks back.  He was backing out.  I told him I’d already deposited them and I’d write him a new check as soon as his checks cleared.

This was the moment that I knew the meds were helping me.  Before Zoloft, something like this would have caused a vortex of panic.  My mind would have raced in a downward spiral of things that were going to go wrong, now, always ending with “and I’m going to die alone.”  That’s not what happened this time.  I thought about it.  Ok, what’s the worst thing that can happen?  My rent might be a little late, but I’ve got food in the fridge and gas in my car.  I was tutoring regularly, so that’d be a few dollars here and there, and there are people who love me.

I also had an idea.  I called Adina, the woman from Oregon, and told her that if she could pay me the deposit in advance, I could hold the apartment for her.   She was very excited and I was, too.

For the next couple of weeks, it was just me and Sweetness, but I was ok with that.  She was so sweet.  She would just melt when I’d pick her up.  She’d meet me at the door when I’d walk in from work.  Then she’d race to my computer chair because she knew that’s where I was going next.

On the weekend of July 4th of that year, Adina arrived to move in.  She wasn’t very tall, but she had a strength that I already liked.  Her brother would be bringing a U-Haul.  I had no TV and Jessica had taken her furniture when she moved out.  So that first night that we met, Adina and I sat on the floor across from each other and stared rather awkwardly.  Adina chuckled a little and said, “Now, the snarfblatt dates back to prehistorical times when humans used to sit around and stare at each other all day. Got very boring.”

I recognized it as a quote from Little Mermaid and I burst out laughing.  “I love The Little Mermaid!” I said.  Then we launched into how much we both loved Disney.  Well, of course, I’d have to bring up Harry Potter, since it was practically a religion for me.  She loved it too!  We spent the evening giggling and holding our cats.

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