And now I’m officially off to take a shower in hopes of sloughing off all the trace residue of peanut butter. It took me entirely too long to type that last sentence.
[Ed.Note: I mentioned when I started this series that I was going to write some things that would make me look bad, too. This is one of those things. But it’s important, because otherwise I would just be writing a biased “Christina is a horrible friend, pity me!” series of posts. She was, at one time, a loyal friend. Maybe now it will make a little more sense why I kept going back to her, in spite of the stalking and the lies.]
The month of May 2005 was practically a Lifetime movie of the trials and tribulations of a bi-polar asshole. It had it all: suicidal thoughts, attempted OD’ing on anti-psychotics, and worst of all – LIVEJOURNAL DELETION. I know what you’re thinking: How did you ever survive that, Erin?
Well, I had Henry and Christina. They were like a Bi-Polar Damage Control tag team. When Henry couldn’t handle me, he’d turn me over to Christina, who would try to soothe me via telephone. Christina took to buying me CDs and even made me a memory box full of things only she and I would understand, in an attempt to keep me on this earth.
The hot and heavy portion of my relationship with Christina had fizzled out into a ramekin of soggy, ambivalent passion ashes, like a culinary student’s first flambe, but she was still my best friend. At the end of the day, that was her number one role in my life. Best friend.
It got really bad one weekend, like wrist-slitting bad. Henry called Christina himself for that one and asked her to come here. It was a Sunday, but she didn’t hesitate. She somehow bribed her sister to drive for 300 miles and I was a total shit to her when they got here. Christina had stopped somewhere along the way and got me a ring out of a gumball machine. It was a lion, still inside its round plastic cocoon; I took it from her and chucked it across the room. She spent the rest of the night sitting on the couch, me all curled up like a suicidal cat, crying and punching her. Then crying and hugging her. Then crying and slapping her. She had to leave the next morning so she could make it to work that evening. 600 miles so I could take it all out on her.
Like I said, it was a bad month.
And like I said, she was my best friend.
She came back for Memorial Day weekend, arriving here that Friday night on a Greyhound. I was still not feeling right mentally, but she had started to broach all those dreaded relationship questions. She was definitely the female in this dynamic. Me, I’d have been delighted to just let it fizzle. But she was so lovesick. I would literally catch her staring at me with these droopy, sad eyes and her lips would be protruded in such a strong pout that Gary Coleman could have used it as a trampoline. And the heavy, wistful sighs. And the unwanted gestures. And the breathing! God, just fucking stop breathing on me.
I couldn’t have felt more smothered, even if my face was pinned under the ass of Ruben Studdard. (And I don’t even watch American Idol, so figure that one out.)
Saturday afternoon, I was hungry. Actually, I was passed the point of basic human hunger, and had reached the point where I was trapezing from the precipice of homicide. There is a small window in which my hunger can be sated with no causalities, but Henry and Christina were too busy being insensitive to my needs to realize I was about to start busting caps.
For the 79th time, I screamed, “I want a fucking peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”
“We don’t have any bread,” Henry said in the calm tone of Dr. Loomis, after Michael Myers escaped for the fortieth time.
“Well, I want a peanut butter and JELLY SANDWICH!” I roared.
This went back and forth for quite some time and you can imagine how pleasant and thoroughly intellectually stimulating it must have been for all involved parties.
Eventually, I did what I do best and stormed out of the room, being sure to brattily knock things over in my mad wake. I pouted at the computer for a little while.
Meanwhile, golf was on. Yeah, I was missing GOLF because Henry was being a complete prat and wouldn’t go buy BREAD so that his QUEEN could have her fucking CAKE (peanut butter and jelly sandwich). And then I heard something that shot straight up my spine and bazooka’d my amygdala.
Quiet, sly, SHARED laughter.
“What’s so funny?” I screamed, twisting around in my chair to further inspect the guilty parties. I hated that they were straight up twittering over there. They were supposed to hate each other!
“We were just laughing at what this one golfer is wearing,” Christina started to explain, but I had already stampeded up the stairs and slammed my bedroom door. Unfortunately, I was still hungry so I came back down.
Somehow I wound up with a grilled cheese suctioned to the bottom of a styrofoam container on account of all the molten cheese tentacles congealing with grease and pure disgust. It was from this sandwich shop that used to be down the street but went out of business on account of all the molten cheese tentacles congealing with grease and pure disgust.
It was so far from what I wanted. You know how can you tell? BECAUSE IT WASN’T A PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH. So I found myself sitting there on the chaise, picking at this grody grilled cheese, when suddenly Henry decided it was cool to make light of the situation and began poking fun at how “difficult Erin can be when she’s hungry!” Oh hardy har har, you mother fucker, let me show you difficult.
I freaked out. Tossed the sandwich. Began windmilling my limbs like I was at a Gravemaker show, while screaming, “Don’t make fun of me! What’s so hard to understand when someone asks for a PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH?”
This went on for awhile and ended with me locked in my bedroom with a bottle of Trazadone.
Actually, when I tell this story to people, I always say, “And then they thought I was trying to like, kill myself or something, but all I was doing was reading a magazine.” Though according to the entry I made that night in my journal, which I just read to make sure my facts were straight for this, I was totally hoping to kill myself. I must have blocked that part out.
All these years, I really thought I was just trying to read Alternative Press.
That’s the thing about being bi-polar. The good times are really super good times, and the bad times are slit-your-throat-with-a-frying-pan bad times. It wasn’t really about the peanut butter and jelly that day. It was a greater frustration, a sad confusion, a muscle-shaking fury which all met in the middle and took on the embodiment of a two slices of bread slathered with Skippy. There’s always a trigger. Sometimes it can be someone’s tone that I’m mishearing, sometimes a shirt I can’t find in my dresser. Today it was a pb&j.
I’m not that bad anymore. As I age, I find new ways to control it. Oh, I still feel it. I still break things and I still lock myself in my room. But mostly I can just walk away now. Mostly. It’s still there, festering in my brain but I’m a mom now. I have a kid. I have to try extra hard to make sure he doesn’t see Hulk Erin. And this is why I don’t have many close friends. It’s embarrassing when this happens, and it has happened in front of an audience before. I keep most people at arm’s length, because no one should be expected to have to deal with this behavior. It’s easier that way.
I ignored the knocks at my bedroom door; after awhile, suspiciously, they stopped. I imagined the two of them leaning into my door with Peanuts glasses pressed against their ears, listening for sounds of a razor meeting flesh.
Then I heard Henry’s muffled voice telling me Christina was crying. Like that was going to lure me out. Oh, Christina’s CRYING? Let me suddenly turn off my psychosis and I’ll be right down.
Then I heard Christina sniffling. She said, “I walked to the store and bought bread,” and when she received no response, she added, “And I bought you something.”
Meanwhile, Henry, not to be undone, had fetched his TOOL BOX and was going to take the door apart the door, I suppose. I could hear him out there pissing around in some manner of disassembly and it was really jacking me off.
But Christina had won with the words “I bought you something.” Maybe also because deep down, I couldn’t stand that I had made her cry. I opened the bedroom door before Henry could even figure out which screwdriver to use on the hinge. It was the most passive aggressive competition ever. What happened to the days when Scott Ash and Jay Mulligan fist-fought for my love after gym class in ninth grade? Now all I get is a purple plastic cup with a straw bent to resemble a flower and some pedestrian attempt at breaking down a door? A real man would have shouldered that bitch right off the frame. A real man like JOHN BLACK from Days of Our Lives.
So Christina came in and laid down with me in the bed, trying to suggest all these terrific diversions, like going for a drive and listening to Fall Out Boy. (Please, this was 2005.) I kept telling her shut up but she wouldn’t so I screamed some more and ran downstairs, where I sat on the chaise and tried to just focus on the really exciting golf thingie that was on TV.
And here came Henry, with a goddamn peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Like he was some goddamn hero now.
“No thanks,” I said. Like I wanted that now? That ship has sailed, you bastard. I mean, Christ. Now they’re both so eager to feed me peanut butter? (I realize I could have solved this whole dilemma myself hours earlier, like a big girl, but then I wouldn’t have this super awesome story to share today. And you might not have gotten any other chance to see how fucking retarded I am!)
But he kept pushing the sandwich on me. “No, I don’t want this anymore,” I said again, clenching my hands. Besides, Christina bought the wrong kind of bread.
Henry then began baby-talking me, like it was OK to start with the jokes ten minutes after they were practically hanging up with the suicide hotline.
Finally, I knocked the plate out of his hand and yelled, “I SAID NO, I DON’T WANT THE FUCKING SANDWICH! WHAT PART OF NO DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?”
Then I spent more time locked in my room. I suppose you would be upset too, if you nearly got raped by a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.