Watching the movie P.S. I Love You on TV. About 40 minutes in I break into a major crying jag. First, the movie is really, really, sad. It’s about a young couple who have been married 9 years when the man gets a brain tumor and dies. Shortly after, on the woman’s 30th birthday, she learns that her dead husband has arranged for her to receive letters from him at various intervals for the foreseeable future.
It was at the memorial service scene where I broke down. Nobody close to me as died recently, so why did it affect me so strongly? I felt the pain and emptiness that comes with the loss of – someone in my life. It doesn’t take a death to cause that feeling. There are many losses that can hurt just as deeply.
I watched the movie the day after I had been locked out of my apartment because of an apartment fire in another unit in the building. I had not been home at the time of the fire and by the time I got home the fire had been put out and all emergency personnel had left the scene. I didn’t have any idea anything had happened while I was away. There were no notices posted anywhere and I had not received a phone call or an email. I had no clue. I found out about the fire because my garage door wouldn’t open. I keep the privacy lock on at my front door because I always come and go through my garage. My apartment was locked down from the inside. I called the after hours maintenance contact, who filled me in about the fire and said that power had been cut off to my garage. Nice.
To top it off, instead of coming out to take care of my issue, Maintenance Guy sent an office resource to handle the job, and after an hour and a half, Office Boy had made no progress and had headed off to some undisclosed location to get something, and after ten minutes had not returned. So I called the after hours number again and left the message that it was after midnight so I was getting myself a hotel room and would present them with the invoice in the morning.
At around 7 a.m. the next morning I drove back to my apartment to see if they had by some miracle figured out how to open my garage door. They hadn’t. The leasing office at my complex normally opens at 9:00 a.m. during the week. I stopped by the leasing office to see if someone may have come in early to manage my issue. Nope. I drove back to my hotel, had breakfast, and then left a message with the leasing office asking that they call me as they are in so they could share with me their plan of action. Nobody called.
I drove back to the office at 9. When one of the other office staff members greeted me at the door I stated my name and apartment number. No recognition. I explained that I had been locked out of my apartment all night and stayed in a hotel. I handed her the invoice. Across the room I saw Office Boy. He clearly had not told anyone what had happened the night before. Neither had Maintenance Guy. Really?
I was told I would have to wait to see the Office Manager because she was currently speaking with another tenant who had been affected by the fire. The tenant lived in the apartment below the unit where the fire occurred. She had experienced water damage. But she had still been able to get into her apartment and sleep in her own bed.
When I was ushered over to Office Manager, I shoved the hotel invoice at her and told her my story. She apologized profusely. She had had no idea this had happened. Clearly, but there was no excuse for that. She offered to have the amount of my hotel stay deducted from my next month’s rent. “Not acceptable,” I told her. I had just paid my rent for the month and wasn’t interested in waiting around for a month to get my money back. She said she would have to call “Corporate” and she would do her best to get me what I wanted.
I left the office still angry and feeling patronized…but also feeling something else. Helplessness…neglect. I had showered at the hotel, but had had to dress in the same clothes from the day before – don’t ask about my underwear. I couldn’t go to work that way. What was I supposed to do?
I drove to the parking garage at my job, turned off my car and sat for a minute. My phone rang. It was Office Manager. Did I know my garage door was open, she asked? Had I gone over that way when I left the leasing office? “No,” I told her. “You said your maintenance supervisor was just on his way over.” “Well, the door is open already,” she said. “You can get into your apartment now.”
Fast forward to the end of the day. I spoke with a lawyer who said I should take the offer to credit the hotel bill against my next month’s rent. Sigh. But, good news (relatively speaking), I have a brand new garage door opener (something about “the event” had damaged the wiring in the previous opener). And the leasing office’s Corporate office approved an immediate refund of my hotel expense. Vindication.
Back to the movie which I’m watching at the end of a day of feeling angry, patronized, frustrated and…helpless. So of course I would be a little extra emotional watching a very sad movie. But it’s more than that. What had this story of loss triggered inside of me? Which wound had it ripped open, jagged edges inflamed and leaking fresh blood? The feeling was so familiar.
It was the sense of helplessness on being locked out of my home twice while living with my alcoholic boyfriend because he was passed out drunk inside and had locked the house from the inside. Both times there was nothing I could do to get in except break a window, which would have wakened the neighborhood, or call the police (which would also wake the neighborhood and also intensify the sense of humiliation associated with the situation.) I chose to find another place to spend the night.
It was the hurt of knowing that no matter how much love I showed my boyfriend and how genuinely loving and caring he was toward me when he was sober, he was still willing to lie to me when he was drunk. He would lie about being drunk and never lost his determination to defend himself against all reason. It felt insulting to me.
It was also the sense of loss I felt after finally leaving my alcoholic boyfriend and then attempting to remain friends with him so I can support him through his journey to sobriety…something he wasn’t willing to do while I was still the romantic interest in his life. There is still a big hole in my soul for losing my best friend to alcohol. It’s a hole I’ve been reluctant to try to fill again. I have had one date in the year and a half since I moved out. I just don’t have it in me to go another round. I guess I have some work to do myself.