See March 16th’s post for the first part of this story…
Part III: The Happy Months
The first few months of my relationship with him were absolutely, positively, the most wonderful months I have ever spent with a guy. We were a true couple. We did everything together… from see movies to go to parties. We cooked together and shopped together. We had a whole schedule worked out where I would spend a night at his place and he would spend the next at mine. Aside from actually living apart, we were as good as married.
Of course, a lot of that stems from the newness of it all. Anytime that I have been in a new relationship, that first few months is just magical, and nothing compares to it. You’re on top of the world and nothing can stop you. It’s like floating on clouds nine, ten and eleven.
He encouraged me to find a new job when I was reaching the end of my rope at Crate & Barrel. He helped me with my resume and pushed me to keep looking for new jobs whenever and wherever I could. When I finally got an interview at my current job, he was so happy for me. I still credit the fact that I have this job to him in some way, because of all of support he gave me.
He even met my parents– something that has never happened with a boyfriend before. And they really liked him a lot. They liked what he brought out of me, and they liked how we related to each other. He came up with me to Wisconsin many times, and would spend time with mom and dad, or go shopping with my mom and sister and I.
For Christmas, we bought each other gifts. I got him something he loved from Crate & Barrel, and a sweater that brought out the blue in his eyes; he got me tickets to The Producers, which was previewing in Chicago the following spring. It was one of the most amazing Christmases ever.
He had two cats that I fell in love with right away… Ricky and Lucy were their names. They were adorable, feisty little critters and they were so much fun to play with. But he talked about getting a third, which I advised against, being that his place was so tiny as it was. But one day, I came over to his place and he was holding in his hands the tiniest white kitten I had ever seen. He was the cutest little thing. And he had such personality! He talked a lot, and so he named him “Screech.” After a couple months, we realized that Screech wasn’t going to survive well with Lucy– she just didn’t like him. One day he came home and found Screech with a scratch across his nose. He called me up and asked if I would take Screech in as my cat… and he has been with me (and Pippin) ever since.
That spring, he joined the Chorus. He sang with us for two shows. It was so great having him there with all of my friends. He even found a few members who were also in “the program” (Alcoholics Anonymous) that he could talk to and relate to when necessary.
It seemed like everything was going incredibly well, and nothing could get in the way of my happiness. I was madly in love. And I was loving it.
But darker times were ahead….
IV: The Beginning Of The End
One day, he called me at work, distraught.
“I have a problem with my landlord,” he said.
“What is it? Did you pay your rent?” I asked.
“Yes, but the check bounced.”
“Oh great… well what does he want you to do?”
“Well… he wants me to move out,” he replied.
“What?? How can he do that?” I asked.
“Well… this isn’t the first time this has happened,” he said, meekly.
“How many times has it happened?” I asked.
“This is the third time in a row,” he responded.
“Why didn’t you tell me this? We could have figured something out. Now you are going to be evicted??” I was shocked that he couldn’t have told me something this serious.
“I didn’t want to trouble you,” he said. “Besides, it’s too late now. I have to be out by next week.”
So that weekend we spent each day cleaning out his apartment. He sold the majority of his furniture, and had a storage company pick up the rest of the stuff he wanted to keep.
And he moved in with me. Cats and all.
He lived with me for a month. And not once during that time did I think that anything was seriously wrong. I was living with my boyfriend. And that was all that mattered to me. I could take care of him, and he could feel safe with me. He still had his job, and he still had a place to call home. Meanwhile, he looked for a new place to live, and eventually found a room to rent from a fellow Chorus member. He moved in, but kept the majority of his stuff in storage until he could afford to get it moved in.
After he moved out of my apartment, I noticed him beginning to grow distant. He claimed that he was just dealing with everything that had been going on, and I believed him. In the course of a few months, he had lost his apartment, moved in with me, and now was living in a new place with hardly any of his possessions. He still had his job, and was now working extra hours (or so I thought) to try to make more money.
It was a lot to deal with.
And then one day, he told me that he had stopped taking his medications for Bipolar disorder. When I asked him why he did that, he said because they made him too crazy and unfocused. His doctor was going to try something new and he had to wean himself off the old medication first before switching to the new one. I really questioned this move, because I had been doing some research on Bipolar disorder since he told me about his having it, and everything I read said that the important thing for people to do is stay regulated with medications. He seemed to be treating this very nonchalantly, and it worried me.
The distance seemed to grow more and more as time went on, and even when we were together, it seemed like I was with a stranger. He talked a lot about being “inside himself” too much, which obviously meant he was dealing with a lot of things inside his head. He never, EVER acted out toward me or did anything to hurt me. He was killing me with the silence, though… and in some ways that hurt even more.
Then September 11, 2001 happened.
He had served in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s in the Air Force, and he talked about those years as being some of the best years of his life. He was always interested in the military and was proud that he could serve his country. (He showed me a picture of himself from that time in his uniform. Oh. My. God. He was to die for.)
September 11 did something to him that I still can’t explain. The episodes of “being within himself” grew more and more frequent, and our times together grew more and more distant. It’s almost as if something snapped inside of him and couldn’t correct itself. Up until now I brushed these episodes off as him just wanting to be alone, but after a few weeks, I couldn’t deny it anymore. There was something wrong.
I called him from work one day and laid it all on the line.
“I just don’t feel like you’re there anymore. We talk, but you aren’t saying anything. What’s going on?” I asked him.
“I’m just really lost inside of myself,” he answered. He said this a lot.
“I know, but you are getting so lost inside of yourself that you’re starting to lose me, and I don’t want that to happen,” I told him.
“I know, I don’t want that to happen either,” he said.
We agreed to meet for dinner downtown near where I work the next night.
And that’s where things started to spin wildly out of control.
Next: Part V: Gone In An Instant; and Part VI: The Official End