June 05, 2007

Of Digging Up Errors and Aliens

I was surfing a little while ago and ran across something I wasn't looking for, and not a good thing. Specifically, I ran across the website and blog of an ex-girlfriend. Not just any ex-girlfriend, though. She's a big part of the reason — I'd say about a third — of why I didn't finish my undergraduate degree until this year. It's an old story. Something happened that damaged me enough to what I believe was a nervous breakdown. I gave up on myself and literally walked away from life and spent years finding my way back. Suffice to say that this event is on the top ten list of the absolute worst moments of my existence. There's a twist, I think, but I'll get to that. I rarely do things the easy way.

For the sake of preserving her anonymity as well as avoiding any contact with her, I'll call her Badnews. Badnews cheated on me with my undergrad advisor, a professor I trusted profoundly at the time. As much, in fact, as I trusted Badnews herself. I also found out at the time that she'd been doing a lot of drugs with him. Now, I'm not saying I was Mr. Clean, even if I look a bit like him now. I went through that period in my life, too. Still, what she was doing made my own usage of mind-altering substances look like a mild addiction to soda pop. Moreover, there was a history of mental disease in her family; her father was a diagnosed and medicated schizophrenic.

Badnews, you see, had pretty much blown her brains out and I didn't know about it or, more likely, didn't want to believe it. It was all trippy and coolness and whatever, and I didn't want to admit to myself what was going on inside that curly little head of hers. When the end came for us, it came horribly. She couldn't even understand by then that what she'd done with this professor was wrong, that she'd absolutely lied to and betrayed me and torn my heart out of my chest and used it for a trampoline while wearing spiked heels. So instead of the relationship simply ending, Badnews went for a crawl into a fantasy world that culminated with her trying to dig up a hillside with a garden shovel because she was convinced that aliens in a UFO buried there were sending her messages. No exaggeration. I mean it when I say that she went off the deep end. I gave up on myself and lost any trace of self-esteem for some time. I was excruciatingly depressed; Badnews had a psychotic break.

Today, as I said, I found her journal. I know it's her because, of all things, I recognize the name of a cat her parents owned when she and I were together. It's a very unusual name; it's the same as the Armenian word for "stomach." She described the cat in her blog, too. Then I found her sister's name (Badnews' sister, not the cat's) which is also rather uncommon. I'm sure beyond any reasonable doubt that this is the same person.

The twist? Badnews is now an ultra-ultra-orthodox Jew. She's dived completely into religion... strict Biblical interpretation, cover every part of your body, take a ritual bath after you have your period, my husband is the lord of the house religion. If one thinks about it, it's not that far from digging up UFO's; aliens are the angels of the modern age (or at least used to be...)

For a few moments, I thought about sending her an email. I'm entitled to a moment of stupidity as much as anyone else. The important part is that I didn't. It only took a couple of minutes to realize that I really don't have a damned thing I want to say to her, and even if I did, what would be the point of it? I was already feeling queasy just from having found her online presence. Did I really want to establish any sort of contact, however brief? What possible point could there be? What good could it do? I have, after all, moved on. I've patched up the holes, as it were. I went back to school, I finished my degree, I'm going on. I'm with a woman whom I love beyond all possibility of description, whom I respect and whom I have come to trust with my life after these past 11 years of ups and downs.

I resolved the damage in my own way. It took a long time and a lot of work, but I did it. And Badnews, after all, was only ⅓ responsible for what I went through. Another third of that was my own doing, so why undo even a little bit of it now? Why revisit that steaming fecal heap of failure? I don't need the voices of aliens or angels to tell me right from wrong, about how to go forward. I don't need to spend half my life with my head bowed. I'm not the one, thankfully, who went through a psychotic break and wound up resolving it by submersing my personality in those of substitute father figures (first a professor, then a religious fanatic, and then a deity). How she did it is her own business and her own problem. What happened happened 20 years ago now.

Like everyone else, I have my down moments and my self-doubts, but lately I've come to feel like the world is opening up for me in amazing ways. Aside from being a poor student, my horizons are wide open, not tightly bound by 5,000 year old rules that I impose upon myself to feel like I'm doing the right thing by daddy. Having been at both ends of this emotional spectrum, I gotta tell you... that's a very good place to be. My stay in hell was relatively brief; hers is lifelong from my perspective. Fine. I'm not about to get involved with it, not even to the extent of saying that I've climbed out of the pit.

Of course, there's that other ⅓... the professor in question. He's still alive; he lives in a tiny little apartment in upstate New York. I know this because he also has a blog (doesn't everyone?). I found it some time ago; it's raving. The guy is so far out there now, due perhaps to his own combination of heavy drug use and the onset of some form of senility, that he's damned near made up his own language that nobody else speaks. Needless to say, I haven't emailed him, either, and have no intention of ever doing so. It may seem petty of me, but I'll be honest, anyhow; I hope his mind dims very, very slowly as he descends toward his grave. Of everyone involved, he should have known better.

There. I've vented. I feel better for having done so.

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