Love Lost and Lessons Learned (Bye-bye, Bipolarity and Sympathy)

They – that proverbial and ever-present “they” – say that you shouldn't air your dirty laundry pubically. I assure you that I don't air most of mine. However, there are sometimes lessons to be learned by many from the mistakes of a few. Besides, if enough people learn from my “great mistake” of the past two years, that might make the last 23 months of my life less of a waste. I've often wondered why it is that some men are attracted to beautiful women, get into relationships with them, often get them pregnant, have the relationship fall apart and then find themselves attracted to other beautiful women immediately thereafter – all of this without even trying to figure out what went wrong before getting caught up again.

On one level, I understand that his sex drive along with her beauty and willingness can work in tandem to create “the approach” which can lead to dating. On another level, I expect a man to think things through so as to avoid another “fatal attraction” – to find the characteristics apart from her beauty that eventually assert themselves within the relationship and can lead to its demise. I'm sure some men do; but, all men who've had bad relationships should. Oddly enough, many of the women who don't want to be seen as “sex objects” are game for it when men who couldn't possibly know anything about their minds as of yet are attracted to their beauty and offer to buy them drinks (sometimes for the easy sex date). I dare to be different and I always make it a point to initiate conversation on emotionally difficult topics as often as possible. So, here it is.

On June 26th, 2013 I went with several colleagues to the John L. Young Women's Shelter, one of three shelters in DC's Federal City Shelter. We were there to tell the women about a June 27th hearing at City Hall where the future of the building and its residents would be discussed. The following day there were about a dozen shelter residents from a building that holds 1,350 people during the five coldest months and 1,100 during the other seven. One of those women was Shacona Ward, a resident of John Young.

With it being extremely difficult to get the disenfranchised homeless community to come out and self-advocate around their issue, I treasure those who answer the call. So, when Shacona testified, I decided to see if I could keep her involved in advocacy. She made some scathing accusations against shelter staff as she delivered one of the most poignant testimonies I've ever heard. When she returned to the crowd, I went to her seat and introduced myself. A few days later, I bought her a meal at the Union Station Food Court and attempted to discuss her future in advocacy. I noticed that she didn't want to remain on that topic and that she seemed to always have a chip on her shoulder. I wondered if it was emotion pertaining to her present station in life or if there was some mental illness that was manifesting itself. I didn't have to wonder for long, as she is very open about the fact that she's bipolar (has mood swings) but won't divulge any further details on her condition. With me being Captain Save-a-(ya know), I figured I could help her work through her condition and that it was worth the effort.

I shifted the conversation toward dating. She threw up a wall. I asked her if she wanted to go out to the fireworks on July 4th because I already knew that the women – who normally have to check into the shelter by 7 PM and have til 8 PM to return if they were there last night -- were allowed to stay out later on holidays. She obliged. When the fireworks ended around 9:30, she ran like Cinderella to return to the shelter by the 10 PM curfew – anxiously pulling me along.

I began a two-month long job on July 1st of that year doing scaffold work on a stucco project. I was being paid approximately $100 daily. I'd get off work and then join Shacona as she and dozens of women sat outside of the shelter, with some women getting there as early as 3 PM for a 7 PM check-in. I'd sit on the ground next to her, our backs against the wall, and chat with her and some of the other women. It was during one such conversation that I learned that Shacona's brother named Skyler had committed suicide in March of 2013. I also learned about her interest in becoming a journalist and bought her a few journals in which to record her feelings and daily activities. I would often bring my blue-tooth speaker and play music videos of Shacona's choosing as we sat there. I was privileged to meet a Caucasian woman who was not mentally ill and who befriended Shacona, though Shacona's mood swings put a noticeable strain on that and other relationships. With what seemed to be a higher than usual concentration of mental illness existing among the residents of John Young, a sane friend was something to be treasured, though Shacona's condition disabled her from realizing that.

Shacona would often complain about not being able to sleep well due to sane women talking to each other all night and mentally-ill women talking to themselves. (An intelligent lady friend once told me of an occasion where she walked into a gang shower where she heard six women speaking and none was talking to another woman. They were each talking to themselves. That would be a sight to see, to be sure!!!) In one instance, I was walking Shacona to the Library of Congress and had to stop several times during this 20-minute trek because she was falling asleep standing up.

So, I advised her to begin the process of getting into another part of the Federal Shelter called the Community for Creative Non-Violence or CCNV. She began inquiring at the bubble daily as to whether or not they had a bed available. After more than a month of “No's” and several reports of those who requested beds after her having gotten in before her, Shacona filed a complaint with DC government's Office of Administrative Hearings just two blocks away. I accompanied her there and she got a bed at CCNV in late August. Oh, happy day. Now she didn't have to leave at 7 AM each day but could come in up until 2 AM. She could also leave two nights per week and have her bed saved – taking Friday through Monday out if she hose.

I met various family members of hers throughout the fall of 2013 and got along well with them. We could drink, talk, watch TV and have an all-around good time together. Shacona didn't want to go with me to see my mother in Florida in August of 2013 but would end up going in January of 2015. My mother loved her. My mother loves everybody. When Shacona told my mother that various adult family members were mooching off of her 86-year old grandmother, my mom offered to fly the three of us to Florida for a few days. I would eventually learn that Shacona's grandmother hated airplanes and wouldn't have gotten on one. Sadly, she died on February 7th. I accompanied Shacona to the funeral and the repass where I met even more of her family. My mother also gave me $20 toward taking Shacona to the movies. (I didn't tell her that one of our usual movie outings costs $60 – $13 for each ticket, $7 for each food item at the theater and $10 per meal at Chipotle's afterward). We've seen at least five movies together.

Fast forward to March 21st, 2015. We've been together for a year and nine months. I've yet to shout at Shacona, though she has taken such liberty with me on many occasions. I had resolved to be her pillar of strength and, in hindsight, think I may have been kind to a fault. We had just finished a church service on the first floor of the CCNV Shelter and had sat down to eat the hot meal that always follows. I had to get up for some reason. As I returned to my seat to resume eating, I was singing along with the music that was playing. Shacona got sharp with me as she said, “Eric, we know you can sing! Can you shut up and just let the music play?!”. This time I shouted back at her as I slammed my hands on the table and demanded some respect. She couldn't take a taste of her own medicine; so, she got up and walked out. We said very little over the next 12 days due, mainly, to her avoiding me.

She couldn't avoid me altogether; as, I was giving her transit fare to get to and from Prince George Community College where she began to study journalism immediately after returning from Florida with me. The tension eventually dissipated. Shacona seemed to have gotten over any apprehension she felt on March 21st hen she realized that I can shout louder than her. Things seemed to be getting back to “normal”. They actually got a little too normal this time, as she became even more belligerent than she was previously. I guess she knows that I'm not predisposed to domestic violence and that she can get away with her bad behavior. (People taking kindness for weakness is my pet peeve.)

On Sunday, May 17th, I accompanied her to the store. As we walked back and talked, Shacona told me about how a certain Retina Christian had advised her to “leave my ass” (and the rest of me, I'll ASSume) if I were to again do something that Shacona accused me of doing. It was more a matter of perception than of fact, for which reason I won't say that Shacona flat-out lied. That's generally not her style, though one may need to separate fact from feeling with her – to take what she says with a grain of salt. Retina was not the first woman that Shacona involved in our relationship. I told her that she needed to quit doing that and we parted after I helped her bring her goods to the second floor.

I was so bothered by her allowing other women into our business as well as certain other aspects of our relationship that I sent her a few texts to read that night. We spoke by phone on the 18th and 19th but she wouldn't come and speak to me face-to-face. She told me over the phone today that she didn't want to be with me anymore but repeatedly refused to meet with me. Our break-up is not official yet insomuch as I foresee her needing a favor within the next couple of weeks. I'll lay off until Saturday, May 23rd, and see how she feels. If she holds her ground until the 30th, then I'll know it's for real.

That said, Shacona has been the worst girlfriend to-date in my 46 years of life. She's the most belligerent – unmethodically belligerent, at that. Other girlfriends have gotten upset; but, there was usually a discernible reason – even if I didn't agree with the reason. Shacona snaps about the littlest thing. She told me some time ago that her psyche meds decrease her sex drive. I've been sexually starved for the past two years. The fact that I don't have many finances with which to get a hotel room make it even harder and then there have been times that we've gotten the room for $80 plus another $45 in transit and food and she hasn't been in the mood.

I've thought about ending the relationship several times, namely due to her belligerence. However, I figured that, when I asked her to become my girl, I bought the farm. I saw myself as having taken on a responsibility that I couldn't easily dispose of. I wanted to be supportive. I felt a moral mandate. Furthermore, if it got out that my sexual starvation was a factor in the break-up, I'd have to further clarify my religious stance to some “devout Christians”/ fellow church members. They'd want to know why we were even considering sex before marriage. So, here it is.

I consider myself to be a spiritual man more so than a Christian. I've yet to meet a Christian who can make enough sense of their religion by answering the hard questions. I long to see something in the way of God's Old-Testament heavy-handedness – to see God exact vengeance on the world for its utter stupidity and lack of order. I believe people have misused salvation. I'm not fond of Christ and his apparent sweetness. In lieu of how disorganized people's thoughts on marriage are, I believe that I could reason with God sufficiently well concerning my marital, sexual and relationship choices. That said, I am not a staunch advocate of waiting until marriage. Besides, with marriages being so easy to get out of, a license isn't worth the paper it's written on.

In closing, I've learned that I can't deal with bipolarity or with a woman who is belligerent for any reason. I will make sure that my next woman is as sweet as 1 Peter chapter 3 says she ought to be. I was attracted to Shacona's outspoken manner; but, it soon became the problem. I love women who can reason well. She didn't make the mark. Never again will I feel obligated to remain in a relationship because I am with a woman who is emotionally or financially dependent on me. I'll make a last-ditch effort to have Shacona straighten up and fly right, after which I'm through with her. No more sympathy. The next time I'm going to be a bit more selfish.


Anonymous said…
Too bad there are/were not adequate mental health resources; that might've helped you and Shacona learn how to deal w/each other in ways that supported you both. You deserve/d respect and a calm relationship and she did too. She may not have known how to make the changes you required. I doubt that she liked/likes herself when she's belligerent any more than a drunk enjoys the aftermath of a drunken binge. people are not their behavior and can be redeemed... i speak from experience. did you ever try to discuss how you felt when she acted that way? did she ever attempt to explain her internal experience to you? it would be unfortunate if neither of you learn to understand the other... it can be a cold, cutthroat, free market world. having a partner can help you get through it (when you have mutual respect and effective interdependence). so sorry to hear (read) about what's happened to you (both).

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