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Angry Pickle

June 21, 2014

written on June 18, 2014

Pickle’s been angry lately.*

She tells me about her day and she’s angry. At her clients, her sister, at her neice, at her mother, her ex. When she listens to me talk about my life, she gets angry, at my boss, at my job, at Z and sometimes at me.

I can’t decide if this anger has been there all along if we’ve both changed and I’m just noticing it now. Or if she’s in an angry funk. I find myself not talking about things because I know how she will react. She’ll analyze, compare, contrast, instruct, judge, direct and become agitated. She’s angry. There’s something stuck in her head and her heart.

A week ago, she left me a voicemail message. She was having a moment, she said. She asked me to call her back. I was busy at work but I found her downstairs at our café later in the day. I snuck away early and we hopped in her car to go change before going walk in the park together. In the car, she started crying.

“What happened?” I asked?

“He moved in with her,” she said.

She recently found out that her ex was seeing someone new. Not the girl he left her for. A french teacher. One of a gang of teachers who hang out at the Moon and teach in area schools. A gang we affectionally call, “The Frenchies.” Now, it seems this particularly Frenchie, who is always wearing a tattered, bluejean vest, had moved in with her ex in the small home that they had painstakingly designed and built together. I’ve seen it. It’s an amazing little structure. Each part carefully created out of unusual materials and pieced together, making a unique whole. It sits near a bayou and overlooks a cane field. We used to meet out there when Pickle still lived in it. One night we watched meteors and drank wine with friends. It’s a magical place. But it’s not hers anymore. It’s his now. And now someone else is living there with him.

She has every right to be angry. They designed and planned and saved and sacrificed and put time and sweat into bringing their dream to fruition. His dream, really.  They were going to live there together and maybe start a family. And now that’s all gone. I understand the anger. It’s natural. I don’t know how to help her. I don’t even know how to tell her how palpable it is. How it’s oozing out of her daily existence. I really don’t know what to do when it’s directed at me.

One night recently I met her for drinks at Pamplona’s. The usual. We exchanged stories of our day. A group of acquaintances were having dinner at a nearby table. When they left to leave, one of them, Simon stopped suddenly on his way out, noticing us. He said hello and told us he hoped that we were coming to the party he was throwing that Saturday. I had a work event and my son had his best friend in for the weekend. I promised to hang out with them. I couldn’t blow him off. “No,” I said. “I have a work thing. I’m afraid I can’t come.”

“Maybe next time,” he said.

“I’ll be there.” Pickle told him. She said she was trying to convince another friend to tag along.

The exchange lasted a minute or so and he joined his friends who were impatiently waiting at the door. Pickle turned to me and said accusingly, “What’s the matter with you?! Can’t you see how into you he was? He really wanted you to go to that party!”

I looked at her, surprised. “I can’t go,” I said. “I have that sponsor party, remember.”

Whenever I complain about work, she encourages me to meet our sponsors and network. So, I told myself I’d do more of that.

“Well, you could’ve shown him more encouragement.”

I didn’t know what to say. She was fussing at me. I felt defensive. This is a recurring theme for me. People say I’m cold, detached, unapproachable. And tell me all about it. And I let them.

“Everything you’re doing right now, stop doing it.” Steve had instructed one night at the Moon.

“You have walls up,” the bartender scolded once.

“I’m backing away now,” Mr. R said after offering to make me dinner.

“You have that….I-might-punch-you-in-the-face-or-I-might-be-nice-to-you look,” I was once told.

I found myself negotiating with Pickle at the bar. “What did I do? You know I can’t go to the party. What am I supposed to do? Besides, I’m not even sure I’m even interested in him. And he’s done nothing to give me any indication he’s interested in me. If he is, he can ask me out or ask for my number.”

The accusations continued.

“Maybe that’s the problem,” she said. “You’re waiting around for guys who will be outgoing and take the right steps, like Sam and Z and Syrian Doctor. Those guys end up being full of shit with nothing to back it up. Maybe you should encourage a quiet one, once in a while.”

I got upset and starting tearing up. I didn’t know what had happened. One minute we were having a normal exchange with an acquaintance. The next, I was under the microscope and being picked apart. And worse, so was Z. That relationship ended in such a neat little package. It was nice to have that to look back on. We had loved each other for a little while and it was over. “It was untested,” she said. “It was only in those four walls.”

Ouch.

I cried in the bathroom and tried to pull myself together, splashing some water on my face. I thought about Sam and how he had treated me. He didn’t give a shit about me. I thought about Z. He would have moved the Earth if I asked him to, just as he would have for any of his friends. The comparison left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was hurt.

I walked out and got my purse and we both walked out the door. When we got outside I said, “Not for nothing, but if I called Z right now and told him I needed something, he would drop what he was doing, and drive here. Sam didn’t give me a second thought except to stroke his own ego.”

“And I’m the one who encouraged you to keep seeing Z,” she said, raising her hands and laughing nervously.

“I’m just figuring it out and doing the best I can,” I said.

“I don’t have it figured out either,” she said.

“Yeah. Ok. Goodnight.” I told her as I hopped on my bike. I was thrown for a loop and I cried myself to sleep.

The next day at lunch she apologized and said she wanted me to be myself and not pretend to be someone I’m not. She even hinted that perhaps she was projecting a bit of anger onto me. Something about ovulating.

I accepted her apology and we moved on.

But she’s still angry.

Our daily walks are exercises in judgement, analysis and aggression. I told her about something my boss said and before I knew it she was screaming in the park, yelling out her prescription for what he should be doing. I looked over at her. “You ok there, sport?” I asked. “You got anything else you need to yell about?”

Today on our walk we found ourselves talking about our ex’s. She re-told me some of the things he had said to her. It was a reminder of what a complete dick he was to her. It’s hard to understand how one person can be so pathetically cruel to the person they claim to love. “I feel like I need to go to confession for the hate in my heart I have for your ex,” I half-joked. He really did a number on her.

No wonder she’s angry.

I guess I need to remember the mantra, Don’t Take it Personally and remember that when she’s expressing aggression, if it’s coming my way, it’s probably not really about me. If it means soaking in some judgement to help her exorcise that anger, maybe I can be that sponge.

After all, she did save my life.

A few weeks later and she could see it too. She’s been remembering more things from her time with the ex. Heavy shit. She told me one of the things he said to her and I looked over at her and said, “Damn. I’m so sorry.” What a dick. “Maybe it’s time to go back to the therapist,” she said.

“Yeah,” I agreed,”You know when you’re yelling at the top of your lungs about my boss…..”

“Yeah, that wasn’t about your boss,” she said.

I knew she was smarter than me. I guess it was just my turn to take a blow so she could get where she needed to be.

 

 

*Pickle is a nickname for Liz, my best friend. We became reacquainted just as both of our marriages were ending. We’ve been seeing each other through the past two and a half years.

 

 

 

 

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From → Rantings

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