I’m struggling with this.
Six years ago, the woman I loved decided she didn’t love me any more. At least, not enough to share the rest of her life with me. Though we did have some off and on time after that.
Three years ago, she became pregnant with her (then) boyfriend’s child. It wasn’t the best of times for me. But, in the end, and this is skipping a bit, I became the boy’s father. And it has been absolutely wonderful to have him in my life; he brings me so much joy, as do all my children, in spite of everything else going on.
Two years ago, she met another person.
One year ago, she became pregnant with his child.
And in one week, she will be marrying him.
It feels easy to sound overdramatic and say that my life is falling apart around me. I should have accepted the end of this relationship six years ago, but honestly I never had to. We functioned decently enough living in the same house together raising our kids together, and it was just the two of us, so … apart from the periods of lack of physical affection, it really didn’t seem that different. We recently bought a house together and in doing so she move her fiance in with us. I am no longer a “partner” in this, I am just the roommate. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about this, but the fact is that this situation allows both of us to see the children as much as we want to. No need for split custody this way.
So the wedding is like a punctuation mark at the end of a very long sentence that was my relationship with her. A “fuck off” to our past. I do not labor under the delusion that I am owed anything, but it’s still really frustrating to know that the past 20 years of change and growth with someone are now rendered meaningless.
I am actively trying to move on. No, that’s not quite right. I’m actively trying to WANT to move on. I’ve never been one to enjoy meeting people. And I’ve never been good at it. As I became more comfortable in my now-failed relationship I lost the skills to talk to other people, because they weren’t necessary. I don’t know when it happened, but I grew to hate people. I stopped going out. People stopped coming over. I met most of my friends in social settings; parties or weekly gatherings or chatrooms or highschool, where I was forced to be around people. I don’t really have that anymore. I see people at work but I haven’t really met anybody there I would call a friend. And I can’t develop a further relationship without making friends.
I don’t really WANT a relationship with someone else, I’m just tired of being alone, and watching her not be alone.
My self esteem isn’t that great, but self-esteem is useless anyways. The value I assign to myself doesn’t matter, unless other people agree with me; and since I’m single, nobody seems to agree with me. I’ve been in chat rooms, I’ve been on dating sites, I’ve tried phone apps. I’ve sent out more attempts than I’d like to admit, and nobody’s been interested in what I’m offering.
I don’t know how to talk to people. I enjoy talking about things I’m passionate about, but I find it really hard to be passionate about anything right now. If I don’t want to hear myself talk about something, I have a hard time believing anybody else would want to hear me talk about things.
I just want to get to a point where I can say I’m happy.
Silly me, getting used to being happy.
I started working at a new job recently. Medical transport. I’ve done it before, and it’s similar to EMS stuff, so.. not REALLY a “new” job, but a new company.
And… I already have people not liking me. Two weeks in, woo.
One I’m going to talk about now is a woman older than I am that likes to talk a lot. I’ll call her Talky. My first shift with Talky was pretty uneventful, just a few calls. She had plenty of time at the station to talk with her friends. At the end of the shift she said I was professional but that she hoped she never had to work with me again because I was too quiet.
Well… two days later, guess what. We’re together again. It was worse, this time, because we left the station almost as soon as we went into service and had only me to talk to. (Or not talk to, as the case was.)
So there’s something that you should understand about me, if you’ve never actually been around me. I don’t really talk much. Even less so around someone I don’t really know, and lesser still around a group of people, regardless of how much I know them. And I am fine not talking. I can drive around in an ambulance for hours and never say a word to my partner. It’s got nothing to do with how I feel about that person, it’s just not something I do much of. I do not ignore people. I respond easily to questions or requests. I’m just not good at starting or maintaining a conversation that has no purpose. Bullshitting, as it were.
Anyways, point is… I’m ok sitting in silence. Talky, however, was not. Repeatedly, she would antagonize me for being quiet, saying how she hopes she never works with me again. (Once is amusing, all day long is not.) Saying how I was being rude. Saying I wasn’t meeting her half way, that she felt like she was trying to accommodate me but I wasn’t trying to accommodate her. (That’s not true.. I was responding to her accusations. If she was accommodating me, she would have stopped talking.) And this isn’t mean being too sensitive. I’m used to people telling me I’m too quiet. But I generally get the feeling that they’re really quite apathetic to how much I talk and are just making a light-hearted observation. Not Talky. She was really going after me, all shift. The very act of me not talking irritated her more and more as time went on.
And then came the fight. Verbal, of course.
I should explain a little bit first about how this job works. At least, this part of it.
When I work the EMS side of things, which I’ve done more than I have the medical transport side for this new company, you have the driver, and the person doing patient care. You get to your destination (the hospital ED), and both of you get the patient out of the back of the ambulance on the stretcher, wheel them into the ED, and transfer them to the bed. At this point, the person that was doing patient care stays to give the report and transfer care of the patient to the hospital, and the driver goes back out to the truck to clean it up and get it in order for the next call. The one doing patient care finishes up the charting of the patient, and off we go to get the next person. This is almost automatic for me, and everyone else at my other job.
But I wasn’t at that job, I was at my new job. With Talky, who was already very irritated with me.
I was driving, she was doing patient care. We get to our destination, get our patient dropped off. There was a minor problem with the oxygen concentrator at the destination facility, and so we had to wait a minute for another one, meaning the patient had to stay on our portable oxygen tank until then. Also, Talky needed to finish giving her report, transferring the patient into their care instead of ours. I could not be a part of either activity, so I take the stretcher back out to the truck, clean it, put new linens on it, and clean out the back of the truck. So then Talky comes out, literally yelling at me, wanting to know why I left her there to carry out the equipment by herself. I thought she was just humorously exaggerating, so I started to chuckle, but when she snapped at me for laughing I realized that she was being quite serious. So this started her going into me for a while about how I shouldn’t have made her carry that stuff by herself. “That stuff,” by the way, was a laptop, and a D-sized oxygen tank. That’s it. I didn’t think anything about her having to carry “all that weight” because honestly it was less than 10 pounds total, and it was two items, both of which were small, and had handles on them. If it was a lot of weight, large, and unwieldy, I wouldn’t have left. The amount of time she went into me about this makes me think she REALLY doesn’t like quiet people. Of course at this point I was rather fed up with everything else and didn’t stay quite about what she was saying. I had to be really polite, though, because I’m the new person.
Were I to stay in the room with her, I would have been sitting around not doing a damn thing waiting her to finish what she had to do. We’d then go back out to the truck together and I’d have still done what I did, only now we’d be that much more delayed getting back in service.
She complained about having to carry 10 pounds, but didn’t care at all that I took the 90 pound stretcher and put it back in the truck by myself. She doesn’t care that she’s unable and unwilling to lift the 200 pound patients on the 90 pound stretcher into the back of the ambulance. She doesn’t care that she’s unable and/or unwilling to take the heavy side of the stretcher when raising or lowering a patient. Now… I’m not trying to sound like *I* am complaining about doing these things. It’s just part of the job. But you better believe I’m going to get pissed off when someone complains about 10 pounds when I’m doing all the heavy lifting.
Anyways. We have more shifts together. So …. more fun to follow.
Something happened recently that’s caused a great deal of stress. I’m not going to get into the details because it would expose some other people. (Not really — nobody’s reading this anyways.) Anyways, I’m somewhat of a withdrawn person. I lack the ability to properly understand my emotions, to say nothing of expressing them appropriately. The result, usually, is that my outward appearance and the way I act around people doesn’t match what’s going on in my head.
This builds up inside me. It causes a burning feeling under my skin. It’s similar to that rush you feel in your chest when you see the person you love, when they don’t know how you feel about them. Except it hurts. It burns, and sometimes makes it difficult to breath. It spreads from my chest into my arms and legs and face. I start picking at my skin, grabbing, rubbing, tearing, cutting. Try to get it out. But I can’t, because it’s not real. I look at myself in the mirror and I can’t see what I’m feeling and that bothers me. So I try to make myself look like I feel. I used to self-mutilate a lot. Cutting, stabbing, scraping myself so that I could get my mind off of whatever was making me feel that way.
I don’t really do that anymore, because I have children, and I have to try to keep a full-time job. “Why does daddy look like that?” “Because he’s not good at handling things.” That’s not the example I want to set for them. The problem is, though, that the impulse never goes away. Like anyone that’s ever had an addiction, the urge is there, you’ve just gotten better at keeping it under control. Still, with things that have gone one recently I can’t help but think of blades, and the way they feel slicing into or stabbing through parts of me. I’d also like to make it really clear that the point was never to die. It’s just a distraction. It pulls my mind from all the thousands of different directions it’s going in right now and focuses it down onto one thing going on in the present. It’s not really a healthy distraction, but right now there’s not a lot of healthy things in my life anyways.
I am happy when I do things with my hands.
(not like that, pervert.)
Shannon’s bike, which we bought off some guy off Craigslist a while ago, has had numerous issues with the chain rubbing against the tires, shifting poorly, etc. In the lowest gear, the chain rubs quite badly against the tire. That … really shouldn’t happen. I looked at the rear wheel, and someone had dished the bejesus out of it, so much so that the rear gear side is actually flat.
(What is dish, in this instance? Imagine the front wheel of a bike, with the axle going through the hub, to which the spokes are attached. The axle sticks out equally on both sides of the hub, so that when the wheel is mounted, the tire is in the very middle of the bike. The spokes have the same angle from the hub to the rim, on both sides. Now, think of the rear wheel of a mountain bike. The left side of the hub is normal, but the right side has all the gears off it. If the wheel has no dish, like the front wheel, then the rear wheel would be way off to the left of the bike, because of the room taken up by the gears. So to get it back in line, you dish the wheel. That is, you increase the angle of the spokes from the hub to rim on the left side, and flatten the angle on the side with the gears, thus pulling the wheel back to the middle of the bike. The wheel’s shape then vaguely resembles a bowl or a dish.)
Now, basically all rear wheels on bikes have a little dish to accomodate the rear gears. But this was dished so much that the lowest gear was inside the footprint of the tire, causing the rubbing. The previous owner must have upgraded his bike, adding gears beyond what the bike was meant to handle. SO, that was an easy enough fix — I adjusted the low limit stop of the rear derailleur (thingie that shifts gears) so that it can’t be shifted into the lowest gear. It’s not ideal, but it fixes the issue for now. Also, because of the larger gears, the chain was too short; so short as to not be able to shift into certain combinations. So I replaced the chain. I tuned the front derailleur to shift smoothly, and did my best to the rear one, but it wasn’t shifting smoothly. To shift to the next gear, I had to shift a gear past it, then back into that gear. The rear derailleur was too far away from the gear. It was aligned properly, the tension was set correctly, each click of the shifter moved it to the plane of the gear it was supposed to set the chain into. It’s just that the jockey pulley (the little cog on the derailleur closest to the gears) was about an inch away. There’s an adjustment for that, usually called the b-tension adjustment. You turn the screw in, it moves it farther away from the gears, turn it out, it moves it closer. You want the jockey pulley close, but not touching, the rear gears. (The closer it is, the quicker and more reliable the shifting.) Problem is, this screw was already out all the way; it couldn’t be adjusted any closer. Must have been the result of more poorly chosen parts put on this bike. So I disassembled the rear derailleur. The part that actually mounts to the bike is spring-mounted, and it’s that spring that keeps the proper distance from the rear gears. I was a coil spring, with the ends pointed out, and those ends fit into holes that applied tension on the spring as the derailleur was turned. So all I had to do was drill a new hole, that allowed the rear derailleur to rotate in closer to the gears more. If I got the angle too far in, I could always use the b-tension adjustment to rotate it out enough to clear the gears. While I had everything apart I cleaned and re-lubed it well and put everything back together. I got lucky, the distance of the jockey pulley to the rear gears was perfect without any further adjustment. Woo!
So I put everything back together, tuned the derailleur, and took it on a test drive. Shifts perfectly! All I need to do now is convince Shannon to ride with me more often.
I’m getting pretty good at this bike stuff. Anybody need theirs worked on?