Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sharp Memories

LOL. I was looking for a picture about how scary knives are in the kitchen...but I was being very careful not to google search any terms that would bring up graphic pictures that would scare the bejesus out of me. This was one of the first ones that popped up and it's actually perfect. Whew.

Knives terrify me. Not just big, scary, hunting knives. But even little weenie kitchen knives. I don't know where my knife obsession started. I think I've been scared of knives as long as I can remember.

My family tells stories. We are a family of story tellers. Sometimes I remember the story vividly because I was there, but sometimes I remember the story vividly because I've heard it so many times that it feels like I was there. Sometimes I can't remember if I was there or not, but I've heard the story so many times it doesn't really matter.

My Grandma Gatlin was a complicated lady. But one thing for sure was that she was a clumsy, blundering oaf with a wicked sense of humor (when she wasn't being flat out wicked). Some of my favorite ridiculous stories are of her in her essence, just being her. One of those stories involves knives. I wasn't there; I think it happened before I was born. But as the story goes, she got a new set of knives. She was excited and bragging about them (as she was wont to do). She held up the box to show them off and she happened to be holding the box upside down and the knives came tumbling out and into her feet. Ouch. But also? Sorta hilarious. Maybe that's where my fear of knives started, but I'm not sure.

I remember being younger and trying to help cook. The knives always scared me. I'd have visions of me slicing off my fingers on accident. I still have visions of doing that. I am a lot like my Grandma Gatlin (hopefully nicer). I could never be one of those chefs that chop things a thousand miles a minute. I shudder just thinking about it.

When I see those minimalist knife strips in people's kitchens I purposely go NOWHERE near them. I'm always afraid they'll fall off and slice my feet off. Dear god I would never have one of those in my kitchen. Nightmare.

My first partner was an alcoholic. I've dated several alcoholics. Alcoholism runs through my mom's family like blood runs through everyone else's. It was my first serious adult relationship. It was also my first out lesbian relationship. She was and is a good person; we are still in contact. She was also a crazy alcoholic. I was with her for three years but had been breaking up with her continually for the last two. I'd break up with her and kick her out. She'd beg for me to take her back. She'd wear me down because I was too busy, too crazy, too emotionally underdeveloped to keep saying no. Things continued to get worse and worse. I continued to get meaner and meaner. I didn't know how else to convince her to stay away. We would scream horrible things at each other when she was drunk and me at her while she was hungover. She was habitually losing or quitting her job and I was the one who managed our finances.

One night she had plans with her asshole friends. I hated her friends and they hated me. Our relationship was truly dysfunctional. I gave her $20 for the night and a new pack of cigarettes (she was also a smoker). I was studying for finals (I was in my MPH program at the time). She came home that night drunk and belligerent. She came into the office where I was studying and demanded I give her money so she could go buy more cigarettes. I said no way. How she had smoked 20 cigarettes and spent $20 in 4 hours was not my business. She'd have to wait until tomorrow. She was pissed. She kept trying to argue with me. I told her to shut up and leave me alone because I was busy. This went on for several minutes. I was getting more and more angry that she would not shut up and just go pass out in bed. She came over to where I was sitting and drunkenly tried to grab my book that I was studying from. She missed and clumsily punched me in the jaw. It didn't really hurt, but in my anger and frustration and years of being worn down, I snapped. I jumped up and pinned her against the wall and told her she better never lay a hand on me. She lost it. She was kicking me in the shins and shrieking. I let her go. She walked into the kitchen and grabbed the cordless phone and turned and hurled it at me in the doorway. The dogs scattered. I told her to calm the fuck down. She was absolutely hysterical at this point. Screaming and crying and threatening. She walked over to the sink and leaned against it. Then she started grabbing knives from the knife block and hurling them at me like she was a ninja or something. Luckily she was so very very drunk. I strode across the room dodging her knives and grabbed her by the waistband of her jeans and dragged her to the front door. I opened it, threw her on the porch, closed and locked the door. She stood outside screaming that she was going to call the police and press charges.

I called first.

They came and found her hiding in the bushes at the neighbors house with a steak knife. They arrested her and took her to jail. This was not the first time I had called the cops or the first time she had been taken away. But it was the first time they took her to jail. Previously they had taken her to the local public hospital and locked her in the psych ward until she sobered up. And because she didn't have insurance they would let her out the next day and tell her to follow up with a therapist for treatment. She never did. And we'd start the cycle back over. But this time she went to jail. I didn't actually want her to go to jail. I wanted her to move out and stay out. I wanted her to go to rehab. But mostly I just wanted her out of my life. I bailed her out the next day on the promise that we were absolutely and positively done this time. I had a temporary restraining order against her mandated by the judge until her hearing. A month later, she was still out of my life and walked into court and I dropped all charges. The DA's office tried to bully me into not dropping them. But I knew jail wasn't going to do her any good. She needed rehab and it wasn't going to happen there. She went to rehab many times after that, and then was arrested many years later and spent some time in jail. She got sober for good then. Maybe I should have pressed charges and she would have gotten sober earlier. Or maybe she wasn't ready and it wouldn't have mattered. She's sober now. And her life is good. She's good person.

The knife block stayed. Her dogs stayed. I had 4 dogs and me in the house. I was spiraling down into the worst period of my OCD in my life. I started worrying that I might lose my mind. I might lose my mind and have a psychotic break with reality and might stab all the dogs to death. Every time I walked by the knife block I worried I was nanoseconds away from losing my grip and I would slaughter all my dogs. I had vivid visions of the blood bath. It was terrifying. This was before I knew anything about violent, harming obsessions and scary intrusive thoughts. I just thought I was fucking nuts and a latent homicidal maniac. I loved my dogs more than anything in the whole world. I would never kill them. But I was worried I would. I was so worried that I ending up hiding the knife block in a far back cabinet. I knew they were there, but if I didn't see them every time I walked by the kitchen it felt better. I convinced myself that if I went nuts I probably wouldn't remember where the knives were. When my roommate moved in I got rid of the knife block and got a different one. I was more convinced that I wouldn't go on a murderous snap now that I had a roommate. Why? I don't know. I suppose I thought he'd notice if I started acting like a psycho losing grip on reality. I stopped thinking about killing my dogs. My brain moved on to different obsessions.

But I'm still scared of knives.

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