This is a true story.
I was living with my boyfriend, an intensely dark pretty boy I’ll call Darth Vader. He was a Scorpio, with a huge black motorcycle and a complete Vader costume; spare no expense. Vader was “off the chart” good looking. He was tall, dark and handsome, like Tom Selleck was back when his look was the flavor of the month.
I thought we were doing well, but I may have been wrong about that, considering how naïve I was. In whatever case, we’d lived together some months, when one night tragedy struck and our lives were thrown into pure crisis.
Trying to cope with the brutal aftermath, Vader went to see a psychiatrist. I stood by, until one day the doctor asked to meet me. He said he wanted to talk to this seventeen-year-old girlfriend.
“Why?” I asked. I’d never seen a psychiatrist before.
“I don’t know. But he says he wants to talk to you. He’s worried about your age.”
Vader was twenty-seven.
“You told him how old I am?”
“Oh. And he wants to see me? Why?”
“He didn’t say. I guess he wants to talk to you about me. It’s up to you. Go if you want. But if not, I’ll have to call him and cancel the appointment. He wants to see you alone. You’re on for Thursday at one. He’s clear downtown though. I have to work so I won’t be able to take you.”
“I can get there.”
I didn’t have a car so I made the two-hour trip on three buses, arriving at the office exhausted and settling in for a forty-minute wait. I hadn’t slept through the night in several weeks, because every shred of Vader’s life had become intense and acute, and mine went right along with his. I thought this had better be good. I could’ve easily lay down on the couch in the waiting room and slept for three days. I was disoriented from lack of sleep and pretty much floating in and out of consciousness.
Time passed and the doctor popped his head into the waiting room and called for me. Uh oh. Show time. I walked into his office, nervously.
The doctor shook my hand and started asking questions, none of which I can recall. I do remember his mannerisms, though. I remember his body language and whatever I said was not what he expected.
I don’t know what he expected and it doesn’t matter. He asked questions and I answered them. What else could I do when I’d been up all night? I wasn’t feeling very crafty so I just talked. I could see he was being derailed by my presentation and sure enough, fifteen minutes into a fifty-minute session, he stood up from behind his desk and announced he’d heard enough.
He leaned over his desk and spoke carefully, “You may be seventeen, but you’re very smart. Smarter than I guessed, or even hoped for. I want you to listen to me.”
He was effective. He shut me up, like turning off a tap. You know how you can be exhausted, but alert? I was like that.
“You’re bright enough to do something with your life. Vader has problems and I don’t think you should make them yours. I don’t know why you don’t live at home but I bet there’s a reason, and it’s probably a good one.”
I opened my mouth to tell him the reason, but he waved me off.
“You say you don’t drink, and you don’t do drugs. You’ve obviously found a way to survive. You’ve made it this far, and I have to think you’ll probably be able to continue to make your way. You’re working, right?”
“Vader told me. Well, just keep working. You’re off to a rough start, but in comparison to him, you don’t have a problem. In fact, I’d say that he’s your problem.”
“He’s my what?”
“He’s your problem. Go home and pack. That’s my advice.”
“You should move as soon as you possibly can. Vader has serious problems that I doubt he’ll be able to solve, anytime soon. Do yourself a favor. Don’t make them yours.”
I looked down at the floor.
“Look at me.”
I looked up, ready to cry. I was too tired for something like this.
“Go home and move. Get out of there. You’ve left home before, right?”
“Then you know how to do it and you need to do it again.”
I nodded, but I didn’t answer because I was afraid I’d start crying.
“The sooner the better. This is a serious situation without an easy solution. Do you understand me?”
No. I didn’t understand him. I wanted to cry, but I stared at him instead, and he shook his head. I took this as a sign he didn’t approve of me and wanted to cry twice as bad. I was supposed to understand this? I didn’t understand, and it made me feel small and terrifically vulnerable. It was like a car wreck in slow motion, I could not believe what was happening.
“That’s it, Elsa. There’s nothing else I can tell you. I suggest you go home and move as quickly as you can. Get away from him and go see what you can do with your life. Try to make yourself a life worth living. I think you have a chance and you don’t want his life, believe me.”
“No. You don’t want a life with this man. I can say that for sure.”
I looked at him hoping to see him vacillate, but it didn’t happen.
“You’re smart enough to do something. Now GO!”
That was it. He’d dismissed me. Flustered and feeling rejected, I mumbled, “Thank you,” as I stood and turned and left his office.
I rode the elevator down to the ground floor, shaking and swooning and feeling vaguely sick to my stomach. This life of mine, I’ll tell you. It’s not easy being a teenager in the world.
The bus showed up. I climbed on it, overwhelmed and so tired; it was hard to lift my feet to climb the steps to board. I couldn’t believe he’d said what he’d said, but he’d definitely said it. What should I do? Should I tell Vader? What should I tell him? It was a loyalty thing and I was confused. This session was supposed to be about him but come on! What was that?
Should I tell Vader his doc told me to leave him? Then what? Would he get mad and find another doc who wouldn’t tell me to leave him? Was this psychiatrist stupid? Was he a dumb-ass, or a bad doctor? What if he wasn’t? What if he knew something I didn’t? What if he was right?
The bus took a sharp turn and I leaned over, almost knocking my head into the pole that I should have been holding. I wished I would have. I wished I’d have hit my head, because maybe it would stop this thinking. The thinking I was thinking seemed dangerous.
I played conversations in my head.
“He said to leave you.”
“He said, what?”
“Uh… He thinks I should leave you. What a bastard…”
Or how about this one:
“He said to leave you and I’m going to do it.”
I sat on the bus, with my head in a knot. I rode. I rode, changed buses and I rode some more. It was a two-hour trip. By the time I got home, I’d decided to leave Vader and I was chilled to the bone.
Walking home from the bus stop, I thought I’d better tell him right away. I thought he’d know anyway, just as soon as he laid eyes on me. I was going to leave him and it must be written all over my face.
When The Sky Falls!
Inside, I plopped down in Vader’s favorite leather chair to think. When did I decide to leave him, anyway? Was it a week ago? What the hell? How long had I been kidding myself? And was I justified? I was going to do it, all right, but was I justified? I played back the events in my mind.
It was three weeks earlier. I was at home and Vader was not. He was usually home by six, and it was eight. He was late, and I was sort of pissed. I knew he was probably at the bar, but I wasn’t going to call him there. Are you kidding? I was a bartender. I thought women who called their men at the bar were damned fools.
Anyway, I didn’t mind being alone. I liked it. I liked my life with Vader in general. I trusted him, but I was wishing he’d call. He usually called when he was going to be late, sparing me any kind of worry, so what the hell?
I didn’t know it, but Vader had already left the bar. And he’d already been in a head-on collision, three blocks from our home.
It was around nine o’clock when the phone rang.
I heard crying. He was crying. “What? Where are you?”
“I think I killed someone.”
“Um… You what?”
He answered that with a wail that made me shiver. Did he just say he killed someone?
“I may have killed someone.”
“What? Did you say you’re in jail? What do you mean, ‘killed someone’?” It started to sink in. “What are you talking about? What happened? Someone is dead?”
I couldn’t get a clear answer. He sounded hysterical. He asked me to call his best friend to get him out of jail. He begged, and asked that I send his friend alone.
“Please, Elsa. I don’t want you to see me like this.”
He sounded scared. If he was scared, I was scared. Shaking, I hung up and did exactly as he asked.
“It’s Elsa. Um… Vader is in jail. He wants you to pick him up. Can you?” I held my breath.
“What’s he doing in jail?”
“I don’t know. Um… Carl? He says he thinks he killed someone.”
“What? What did you say?”
“That’s what I said. He killed someone.”
“I’m on my way. Should I pick you up?”
“Uh uh. He wants you to come alone. He doesn’t want me to see him. Call me okay? Or just bring him home.” I started to sob.
“Okay, Elsa. Calm down. I’m on my way. Hey. Is there bail? Did he say?”
I felt a rush of gratitude, because he seemed to know what he was doing. “I don’t know.”
“Okay, I’ll call down there and find out. And I’ll call you as soon as I know something. Just relax, okay? He’s probably just drunk. I’m sure it’s going to be okay. Let me just find out what he’s done…”
Through the night, Vader’s friend called me every couple hours. He filled me in as details became clearer, but it was nine o’clock the next morning before my boyfriend got home and I heard the whole story.
Vader explained he’d stopped in a bar after work for happy hour. He’d gotten in his truck to drive home, per his habit, and what he thought would never happen to him happened. He got in an accident that left a married woman, with two children under five years old, in a coma.
I gulped, and the coping began.
What Happened When This Happened
In the beginning, there was denial. Vader was cut off from news of the woman’s condition, at the request of her family. In this void, we imagined she might be okay. This lasted a couple days, until the newspapers picked up the story. The woman’s husband was prominent in the community and the accident became front page news.
Initially, the papers were vague around her condition, so we still had hope. We hoped she would recover and the whole thing wouldn’t be as bad as it was. We even imagined that, in time, he could make this up to her and her family somehow. We fantasized this sort of happy ending, but the illusion was difficult to maintain as days passed and the reality of the situation began to emerge from the cloudy shock and confusion people create to cope with an event of this magnitude.
I have to say if you ever put yourself in a situation where this could happen to you, you’re a pure fool. What I watched Darth Vader endure in the weeks after the accident was a horror movie of the first degree. He couldn’t run and he couldn’t scream. His pain was perfect and it was absolute, but he couldn’t apologize, explain, escape or take back the accident.
His pain was deep and as profound as I’d ever seen, and it was relentless. I watched him contained in his body, with the pressure in his head, unrelenting. I watched him writhe around. Vader’s grief was real and it was pervasive, but he continued to drink and I didn’t have enough sophistication to comprehend this.
I watched him try to get a leg up, but no dice. Every time he tried to stand up, he was slammed back down in short order. For example, he wanted to apologize to the family and would call the hospital on a daily basis. His calls were routinely refused, but this did not stop him from coming home from work each day, optimistic that this new day would be different. Each day, he expected someone would take his call, if only to yell at him. He was hopeful, so I tried to be; but over and over his calls went unanswered and I watched him hang up and pour himself a drink.
Later, he’d sit on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands and cry profusely. I watched his tears run through his fingers, down his forearms, onto his knees, then down to the floor. His agony was acute and alarming. It came in waves that threatened to overwhelm us both. I’d sit next to him, just as close in as I could get. I felt like the only thing holding him to this earth and I was afraid. Could I do this? And if I didn’t do this, who would?
The woman’s condition was dismal. This reality became clearer each day and Vader sunk deeper into the abyss. He lie motionless in the fetal position on the living room floor for three, then four, then five hours, without moving a muscle. I sat next to him until the crick in my back forced me up off the floor to sit in the chair above him. Periodically, I’d reach down to put my hand on his back, to make sure he was still breathing. I wondered when he was going wake up. I wondered if he was going to wake up. I wondered if tomorrow was going to come or if this was going to be the end of everything.
Well, he did get up and when he did, he went right for the bottle while I stood by, hopelessly. More days passed, but they brought no relief. Vader swore off drinking in the morning only to pour himself a drink in the afternoon. I wasn’t an alcoholic and I didn’t understand.
I tried to exist alongside him. I lay my head on the pillow at night, but not for long. Night after night, I shut my eyes and saw the same picture in my mind. I saw two little girls standing next to their mother, lying motionless in a hospital bed, in a sterile room. The camera in my mind paused on this scene, before panning out. This is when I could see the hospital bed was in a morgue, and when I became conscious of that, I’d wake up crying.
Please, no. Not again tonight But…yes. Night after night, I could not shake this picture and I became enraged. I wanted to punch Vader, because he was still drinking. I wanted to beat on him with my fists because someone’s mother was in a morgue, but he kept on drinking, and drinking and drinking.
I never did it. I never hit him. I contained my emotion, because I knew his pain was real. He was not the monster the papers said he was, but I didn’t understand. If this doesn’t stop a person from drinking, then what does?
I wanted someone to answer this for me and explain how the things that were happening could be happening, the way they were happening. I spent the nights tossing these questions around, rather than close my eyes and see the dreaded image of the body in the morgue. Vader didn’t even bother to lie down.
Vader sat on the edge of our bed and he drank. He drank and drank and drank. It was as bad as it could possibly be and then quite unbelievably, it got even worse when all hope of recovery faded, and the paper reported the woman brain-dead.
Vader screamed like an animal that night. I watched and listened, frozen in pure shock. From there, everything dropped another degree of wretched. I knew it was bad, and then I knew it was really bad, but at this point, I could feel the misery solidifying around me. It was like falling in a deep well and looking up to see a lid slowly sliding over the top. At first, there was still light. There was hope. But now, I was watching the last sliver of light shrink and I knew if the lid closed, I would be contained in this space with Vader, for a very long time.
I didn’t know what to do. What should I do? I wanted to work through it. I wanted to stand up, climb out of the well. I wanted to run for my life and I wanted Vader to run with me. I wanted him to wake up one day and see the trouble we were in. I wanted to come to terms with the situation, together, and plan our way out – but every night he was drunk and I was caught.
I thought I could get through to him if he would just stop drinking, and I tried to make this happen.
“Please don’t drink. You have to quit drinking, Vader. I’m begging you to quit drinking. We’re never going to get out of this, if you keep drinking.”
“I have to drink, Elsa. Don’t you think I know I should stop? I can’t stop. I need this, right now.”
“I can’t stand it. You’re dying.”
“You think I don’t know that? I can’t stop. I want to die.”
Well, I wanted to live and here I was, five days later; sitting in his favorite chair and planning to follow the doctor’s orders and to do just that. Good and fine, but what kind of person did this make me?
I felt despicable. I was repulsed by my own desire to get away. The doctor suggested I leave to save my own skin and he was so matter of fact about it. If he had any qualms about whether this was right action to take, they were not detectable to me, and I was perplexed. I felt only a disgusting, contemptible person would leave another human being in a sobbing heap on the floor, yet he’d suggested I do exactly this. He’d offered permission, and I was going to exploit the opportunity.
A week earlier, I would not have thought this possible. Now, not only was it possible, it was happening. I thought this made me foul, and a base human being. This is how I understood the situation, as I sat in the chair and came to terms with this fact. No. Apparently, I won’t sacrifice my ass for yours. This was news to me, around what sort of person I was, and I let it crystallize inside me. I didn’t know I could go this low, but I could…and I would.
Slash and Burn
I looked around the house. Vader’s doc had told me it was possible. I could be somebody and I realized I agreed with him. But…not in this house. I was going to have to go and then…I didn’t know what.
“Then what?” I wondered.
It didn’t take long for me to become resolved. It took ten minutes for me to commit. I decided I was going to do whatever it took to get back on track. I went to sleep that night and the next morning, I started to tear down and rebuild the structure of my life.
First on deck, Vader. He had to go. I had to go. The psychiatrist was right. He was around my neck, like a noose. He was clinging to me as his life spiraled down, down, down, to the depths. He was dense and he was draining, and taking me down with him; but more than anything else, he continued to drink and I could no longer support him.
In spite of tending bar, I didn’t know anything about alcoholism. I knew some astrology, I could stand on my head, and I knew I should always sleep with my head to the north, but “alcoholism” was completely foreign to me. I just didn’t understand. My family drank carrot juice. We drank water. Can you work in a bar and not fathom alcoholism? Yes, you can. It’s easy. Especially if you’re a teenager, and a sheltered one at that. I just didn’t understand how a person could suffer something to this degree and keep doing what they were doing, which caused the problem in the first place.
Actually, the effects were more pervasive. Not only was I repulsed with Vader’s drinking, I was repulsed by drinking in general. Well, hell? I was a bartender, but after this experience, I wanted to be remote from alcohol. I was sick to death of lying about my age as well, so I did the math. Hmm. It seemed that if I left Vader, rented an apartment, got a roommate…and if I did x and y and z…well, I thought I could go legit, still manage to pay my bills, plus swing my deal with my mother.
This seemed possible, and I was a born gambler, comfortable with risk. I weighed it quickly, but carefully, and decided I’d probably survive the leap. But in the end, the odds made no difference. I couldn’t stay where I was, anyway. I was going to go for broke, but boy it wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, I had to fight like hell.
The first thing I did was confess my lie. I was a lying bartender, but this accident put an end to that. I may have been seventeen and claiming twenty-three, but it was not by design. When I started lying at fifteen, I claimed I was twenty-one. I planned to stay twenty one until I was twenty one, slowly closing the gap between truth and fiction, and erasing my lie in the process. Instead, to my great horror, I’d aged. People gave me birthday parties, which is something I had never envisioned. Consequently, I’d celebrated my supposed twenty-third birthday and I was dizzy from it.
In the beginning I lied to everyone, but this changed over time. Vader knew my true age, as did everyone we associated with. This was enormously liberating for me on one hand, but quite the mind-fuck on the other. I was twenty-three at work, but seventeen when I got home and straddling this gulf had become ludicrous. I was a young girl and I was sick of pretending otherwise. I decided to confess my real age and start my life over.
I was holding my breath when I walked into the bar to confess to Sexy Gal. But I did it and I walked away, free and feeling clean, for the first time in two years. A life worth living, huh? Well, it’s not a life worth living if you have to lie about who you are. But I was scared. I’d just burned my ace. Could I really pull this off?
And I was nervous. Did I add those numbers right? Because if not – if I couldn’t get a legal job that would pay all my bills- well…I had no plan B. Every day, every hour, I struggled with the guilt. Who was going to sit on the bed next to Vader when he cried at night? Did I have the right to leave him in crisis?
My head hurt over this. It throbbed. I was fully aware I was going to have to fire on all cylinders to pull off what I was trying to do. That was the practical side. But the justification for what I was doing was nebulous, in my mind. The doc said it was a good idea, and yeah – I agreed. I would be happier not watching Vader drink himself to death, but I still didn’t know if what I was doing was moral. I wondered if I would do this and never admit I had. Was I leaving a man to die? Would this be a secret I would keep for the rest of my life? Damned if I knew, but I kept going. I kept taking steps on faith.
I got a job as a hostess in a chain restaurant, where at least half the clientele was retiree age. There was no liquor license and the pay was pathetic, but I was happy because the environment seemed innocuous. I had a vague plan for my life. I was almost eighteen and they’d lowered the drinking age from twenty-one to nineteen. I planned to squat in the restaurant and take a breather from drunks and drunkenness. I thought I could lay low and if I were still nearly starving when I turned legal age, I’d go back to tending bar.
I rented an apartment, and got a roommate to help with the cost. More importantly, I had a bicycle. I started riding that bike to work. Pure freedom.
Not bad. I had a new apartment, a new job, and a new roommate. But I had an old problem as well: Vader.
When I told Vader I was leaving, he seemed to take it well enough. We didn’t fight about it, but we never fought anyway. We actually got along very well. We enjoyed and appreciated each other, but by the time I left, he was drunk as snot pretty much twenty-four hours a day. Basically, he was preoccupied, which is one of the reasons I was able to slip out the way I did. After the accident, Vader drank more than ever before. I was sickened by drinking and drunkenness in general, so basically we’d come to an impasse.
He stood by while I followed through and rented an apartment. He was kind to me on the way out the door. In fact, he hugged me as I was leaving and told me he would take me back at any time. It was spooky, but I couldn’t see that it made a difference, because I was going be haunted anyway, right? Right.
I thought that was the end of it – but as it turned out, Vader didn’t let me go so easily.
“Hello?” As soon I as said it, I could hear him crying, and I knew he was drunk.
“Elsa. It’s me. Why did you leave me? I can’t do it. I can’t live without you. Elsa, please…”
“Vader! Vader, damn you, you’re drunk. I told you: No! I’m sorry. I don’t want to be with you, drinking all the time.”
I heard him let go with a huge sob, and I sighed. “Look, Vader. I’m sorry. Just go to sleep, okay? Just…can you just lie down?”
“I’m sick, Elsa. I think I’m going to be sick. Please help me. Please come over and help me.”
“What? I can’t. I can’t come over there. Look. Just lie down, would you? How am I even supposed to get there? I’m supposed to ride two buses over there, because you got your ass drunk? Ride my bike? NO. Look. Just lie down, okay? Just please go to sleep, because I’m not coming over there. And don’t tell me to, because I’m not your girlfriend anymore. I can’t stand it, okay? You know I can’t stand it…”
I stopped talking, because he was crying too loudly to hear me anyway. “Okay, I’m hanging up now. I’m sorry, Vader. I have to go.”
I hung up the phone, wanting to vomit. The guilt. The guilt was overwhelming.
Fifteen minutes later, I walked to the front window of my apartment to gaze out – and son of a bitch, there he was. Oh fuck. And on his motorcycle, no less.
I tore down the stairs to find him fallen from his bike, lying in the gravel.
“Elsa, help me.”
“Oh Jesus, what are you doing?” I looked around to see who was seeing this. “What the fuck, Vader?”
“I’m drunk. Help me. Please help me.”
Well crap? What could I do? Just what the hell was I supposed to do? Put him back on him bike and sent him off to be killed, or kill again? What? Send him to off to kill someone else’s mother?
There was no way I could do that, so next thing I knew, I was dragging him up the stairs to my apartment, lying him on the couch and leaving him to sleep it off.
“Lie down here with me, Elsa? Please? Please hold me…”
“No! Damn it, I am not your damned girlfriend, anymore. Look. Just would you please just shut your eyes and go to sleep?”
“I can stay here?”
“Well, yeah. What are you doing to do? Ride your bike? Fuck! You can’t be riding that bike drunk. For chrissakes, you’re lucky you didn’t get killed coming over here…”
“Lucky,” he said, before he passed out, jaw slack.
That was the first time, but it wasn’t the last. He’d come by about once a week. When I tried to turn him away he’d start to weep. He’d sit in the gravel next to his motorcycle, holding his head in his hands, and talk about the woman he’d hit. He’d show up with no helmet, and speak with his jaw loose, slurring, slobbering, and sobbing. I got angry.
“What the fuck are you doing? You’re going to get killed on this bike, drunk.”
“That’s okay. Better than killing someone in my truck,” he’d whine. “But, Elsa. Please. I’ll never ask you again…”
I interrupted him. “I told you not to come back here! I don’t want to be with you anymore. I can’t stand your damned drinking. Why don’t you quit fucking drinking?”
“I know it. I know you want me to stop. I want to stop…but please, Elsa. Just tonight. I don’t want to be alone. Please don’t make me be alone. I can’t sleep without you…”
“Oh fuck. Oh fuck, fuck, fuck.”
I took him in over and over. I begged him to stop drinking, while I quietly grew to hate him. I hated him because he wouldn’t quit drinking, but I still couldn’t find the key. I just couldn’t find my way out of the thing, so I went to the library and I started to read.
I read and I read and I read. I tried to get “it”, but it was very hard. It was just impossible for me. Alcoholism is better understood now than it was then, but that doesn’t explain my struggle, which was so complex and difficult.
I read bits in books about “hitting bottom” and so forth, but I just couldn’t grasp these concepts. It was bad enough I’d moved away. How can you care, yet leave someone in a situation where they could be killed or kill again? The books said you could, but I couldn’t function on this. I literally concentrated with all my might, but I was just not able to parse the information.
Time passed. Vader continued to show up. His dark side visits were increasingly egregious to me, because apart from him, I was getting very happy. I was pulling this off. Life, I mean. I had a legal job. I had my bills paid and my mother’s bills were paid and best of all, I had a bicycle. After two years of hitchhiking, walking and bus riding, I could now fly down the road on my ten-speed, with the wind in my hair. This is when I knew I was going to make it, no matter what. I’d been wondering this since I was about six years old. Was I going to live or die? It had been a point of curiosity for a long time, like some sort of coin toss, but I was free now and I knew it. I knew I was going to have a life and no one was going to stop me.
The more I rode my bike, the stronger I got. It took a leap of faith, but eventually the information gelled. All the books could not be wrong. I had the map out of the mess, but this still didn’t do it for me. I wanted an alternative solution. I wanted an easier option, but ultimately with some prodding from my riff-raff-hating landlord, I came to the conclusion: I would have to cut the cord. Once decided, I laid in wait.
Sure enough, it was Tuesday night, and I saw Vader pulling up. He was always going to “not stop in the bar this week”, but that conviction would always collapse by Tuesday. Not that it mattered. He’d get drunk at home on Monday, anyway, so none of it made any sense. He was weaving through the graveled parking lot on his motorcycle. I went downstairs to meet him, in a pure beeline.
I held up my hand and yelled at him and his bike. “NO! Fuck no! No. You are not coming here. You are not coming in my house today, or ever again. Do you hear me, damn it?”
Ignoring me, he pulled into the parking spot he knew was assigned to my apartment, and then promptly fell off his bike into gravel. Well I’ll tell you. It was almost too perfect. Was he faking it? I thought he was faking it, but it didn’t matter anyway, because I was going to do what I was going to do – no matter what.
I stood over him. “Listen to me. You cannot come in. You can never come in again. Not this week, and not this year. Never, ever, ever fucking again will I let you in my house. Got that?”
“I don’t care. I. Do. Not. Care. Go kill yourself, if that’s what you’re going to do.”
He rolled over onto his back and I was disgusted. ‘Elsa, you can’t do this. You can’t just leave me here…”
“Watch me! Get yourself some damned help! But don’t you come back, you son of a bitch, because if you do, I’ll call the police. I will call them, and so will my landlord.”
He reached for my ankle and I jumped back. He groaned and rolled onto his stomach, face down in the gravel. “That’s it. Go die, if you want to, but don’t you dare come back here – because if you do, I’ll call the cops and….you aren’t supposed to be drinking, are you?”
He picked his head up, and spoke into the gravel. “I’m on probation. It’s called probation…”
“Right. Don’t come back, Vader. Just don’t come back.”
That was it. I left him lying face down in the gravel next to his bike with his arms stretched out reaching for me. He was moaning when I turned my back and walked up the stairs to my apartment, wracked with emotion I won’t even try to articulate.
Vader made several drunken phones calls over the next weeks. To test my resolve, I suppose. I hung up before he could get a hook in, reeling after each call, vomiting even. Meanwhile, I kept on doing what I was doing. Working. I kept working and I kept pedaling my bike, until eventually, he faded away.
Two weeks passed without a phone call. I was flying down the road on my bike, and I thought of Vader’s doc, “Obi Wan Kenobi, Phd. Look at this. See this? I listened to you. I’m doing it.
I thought that, and I whispered my thanks on the wind.
That was a very good story well told! Do you know what happened to him? Was he ever able to recover?
Thank you. Yes, I know what happened to him, up to about ten years after the fact. But it’s interesting and working writing in story form.
Wow, that is some traumatic story, Elsa. I am glad you listened to your gut, with the help of that guardian angel Psychiatrist, and got out. That passage was only going to be a living hell and no one has an obligation to a self destructive person, much less a 17 year old girl.
Thank you for sharing this. Gods we’ve had similar lives but I lived in total fear, where you took the reins. Congratulations 🎉
Elsa, what was going on in your chart at that time?
I had a similar experience. I cant look at the chart of that time and figure out how my experience was mapped in the chart.
Saturn T Pluto and Pluto T Mars
I’ve got a parallel story to this, with no Saving Psychiatrist, but I had somekind of crack one night and I was pulled out of my body and into different dimensions – and I won’t tell you what I was told my body did, while I was gone… I remember singing God Bless America, walking in the halls to keep me grounded, in this body -for I was flying out and I did – and off I went. It was the strangest night when I was 23 – I had quit eating , tracking time – I no longer wanted to live. God doesn’t give us too much, because HE DOES SEND ANGELS when one breaks and say Take me God, I can’t take anymore. I experienced many things that night – it went on for hours. I had an intense prophetic dream a week later – and really my life has been like riding the wind since. I was mostly mute at this time, for I did not understand any of any thing and certainly normal people could not relate to my reality – and I never thought much about that one night for a long time. I come from a stepmonster,& a pedofile uncle at 6, then 13 yrs old- and then a’boyfriend’ 16 yrs older than me when I was 17, who had somekind of mental issue beyond me too and I had my son stolen – that was the straw that broke this back – I’d really like to see what was going on in my chart at that time. March of 1983.
OK, so the Pluto part is clear. What part(s) of your chart signified strength and/or protection from being crushed by grief? I’d like to think everybody’s chart is complete, where everybody has everything they need for every occasion, large or small, and I want to know how to spot this. Or am I being a Pollyanna and some people just suffer for an entire life without respite?
Inspiring story, Elsa. I’m sure many readers can relate to it. Thank you for your bravery, both in living the experience and in writing about it. Much love!
this story has a really good ending, that doctor really is a smart cookie; and i think he was a secret mentor that really cared about you. I like that there are good people out there looking out for others.
Great writing. Those of us who didn’t get our emotional needs met as children can tend to fall into the pit of rescuing addicts. Swallowed up by Neptune. A need to be needed etc. Well done you, climbing out of there!
Absolutely heart wrenching. You have such a gift for writing, a skill that brings the scene to life so vividly, unforgettably.
Your writing is captivating. As the words dance on the page, I put them to the side to take a breath. I can feel the war raging within you ……Should I stay….how do I go without feeling like a piece of crap….his wounds are begging me…and the psychiatrist jumps in! Elsa, you are one amazing soul to survive the emotion, confusion, and turmoil and all at 17! Bless you. Thank goodness for your spunk, Elsa the Brave. Keep writing!!!
My Leo sun, rising and Pluto Leo wonder if I have the strength for Pluto in Aquarius. Haven’t I completed enough challenges? I’ll think of you at 10 driving a truck and tending bar at 17 and I’ll smile and hopefully I can be brave too. 😊
Thank you. This was the first time in my life I ever felt like I may very well be a horrible person and it played out exactly as I told it. I encountered by own subconscious and truly thought I could be about to do something so vile, I would have to conceal it for the rest of my life.
I can’t think of another time in my life where I ran into this again. It was the beginning of deeper self-awareness… and the story that comes after this is even more shocking.
wow. what a gift from the universe (the doctor, i mean.)
i’ve had strangers give me advice that blew me away from potential train wrecks more than once. i’m always grateful…
looking back i’m astonished at the lengths people will go to to convince me they need me. the drama and pathos and complete lack of dignity, so they can keep feeding off of me :/ took me so long to realize that’s what was happening.
Thanks for sharing … addiction is so brutal
You were so strong not to stay
I love the glimpses into your hindsight
“ plus swing my deal with my mother “ More to the story
I left home (& got married) at 17 –
do I wish I was still that brave girl – yes
I just broke up with someone who I’m still not sure will survive it. There’s addiction, but more notably, there’s a break from reality. It’s frightening. This person now believes I am a bad person, and has looked for and found ‘evidence’ that I’ve actually been bad from day 1.
It took a long time for me to realize that his problems would persist even if I was exactly what he wanted from me, (that I couldn’t resolve things by acquiescing), and that the stakes were too high to just wait for him to find resolution or to try to make it through his madness and out the other side. It almost seems like things would have been ok if he hadn’t gotten into a car accident that made me change my mind and give him another try.
It’s so hard to leave someone you care about that’s in pain. I didn’t think of it as confronting my own dark side. But that makes sense. It’s hard for me to admit to being a ‘bad’ person. Especially since I’m now confronted with a bunch of egregious stuff that’s so left field that I can’t even defend myself. Giving up the fight and leaving someone behind though, that rings true, it feels bad, ow, ouch. How does one integrate that? I’ve admitted I can’t fix his problems. Everyone has their own long dark road to walk down alone. But accepting a resolution that leaves that kind of scar on your self-image seems daunting, even when the alternative is a life of suffering. I’m not 17. I’m in my 40s. I’m a Capricorn rising, growing up late in life. Not a gambler lol. Makes me wonder what the future is worth if it’s defined by sacrifices like this. But kids are involved so my choice is clear. Not sure how to revise my sense of reality though, to continue in a way I can make any sense of the world going forward. I guess if you did it, maybe I will too.
Elsa’s story and your comment struck me…
“It took a long time for me to realize that his problems would persist even if I was exactly what he wanted from me, (that I couldn’t resolve things by acquiescing), and that the stakes were too high to just wait for him to find resolution or to try to make it through his madness and out the other side.
Everyone has their own long dark road to walk down alone.”
Thank you both…
I’m glad you got out. Clearly not an environment for a 17-year old. This story has gotten me out of sorts for the past few hours. Please tell me he is somewhat doing alright……
Excellent writing! That is exactly how to tell a story!
Beautiful and brutal, but honest, as always.
Thank you, Elsa.
What a story, thank you for sharing and how I can relate to drunken behavior and alcoholism (within my family and Soo called friends). I couldn’t have read it at any other time in my life. It was meant to remind me of my worthiness and spring cleaning (Soo called friends).
Thanks for sharing your story, Elsa. I can definitely relate. I had 4 consecutive Vadars, then a sober Vadar, and now a normie double scorpio who punishes me for my imperfections by withdrawing into constant activity. I’m older now, so I don’t care what my husband thinks anymore. He can’t see his own darkness and he’s past the threescore and ten marker. I kind of feel sorry for him. I’ve got Pluto sitting exact on my natal Chiron at 1* of Aquarius as it continues the work across the bottom of my chart. I feel like a boat in dry dock waiting for the tide to come in. I want to move closer to my daughter and grand daughter and open a little store with books and craft supplies, and help people one on one like I have for the lion’s share of my life. I’m looking forward to your next installment. I have a suspicion we have even more in common. I was born with that “second sight” too. I can see people’s death on them before they know it themselves. Literally and metaphorically. It kept me in toxic relationships for far too long, trying to save them from drowning. I learned finally that I had to let them go before they drowned me too. It didn’t stop me from loving them it just underscored that I had to love myself more. On May 1st I will mark 38 years of sobriety. It’s been a wild ride.
that’s how these people often hook compassionate folk- make you feel responsible for their survival. it’s brutal 🙁
Pure Elsa! Great story.
I bet it could change a life.
Did he survive?
I think so. But the last time I every saw or heard of him for about five years later.
I did google him ten years ago and may have found him. He has a porn star name… last name is Starr and first name common, so I can’t say for sure.
I can’t imagine what he looks like today but at this time this guy was insanely good-looking. He was the guy at the end of the bar, pulling everyone in with his looks and his energy.
The way we met was a trip. I dated my current husband before and after this, which is also odd. We broke up and this is what happened to me during that period.
Thank you for your answer.
Wow, that’s Plutonic energy for sure!
Elsa, you are a captivating writer! You make me want to hug the 17 year old girl that was you. From hardship comes unshakable strength, and you have it.