Remember all the times as a kid you were told never to put a plastic bag over your head because you might suffocate yourself?  No?  Well, maybe I have always been a little destructive.  It was something I remember being told.  But I was also told never to smoke cigarettes behind bushes – no sex talk, no period talk, never told not to drink, do drugs or put myself into illegal situations so I am not saying I ever experienced “normal” parental directions.

Every several years, I have a day where I feel the air around me getting thinner and the act of breathing narrowing…like I have a plastic bag tied around my head and slowly experience a dissipation of air, like trying to suck ice cream through a straw.  I am feeling it right now.

For context, one time my friends may remember is when I took a job in New Mexico – site unseen.  I was feeling lost and exasperated with how my life was turning out.  I had spent 3 years going back & forth with a guy I craved who sometimes craved me and sometimes wanted me dead.  We worked together so I had to suffer frequent humiliation quite publicly and had to be quiet about all the times when I actually won so as not to alert all the other women he was sleeping with or trying to sleep with that I was still in the picture.  My whole job was tied up in my personal life, including friendships.  I had no identity other than being Bud’s girlfriend or Bud’s ex-girlfriend or Bud’s other woman.  I was either crazy or pathetic.  I woke up one morning and couldn’t breathe.  I had the sensation of needing to just put sneakers on and run but I weighed 200 pounds so I couldn’t actually run.

I posted for a job 2300 miles away one day and a week later got the job.  I moved a month later not having even visited the state or having toured the place where I was going to live.  I had no friends there.  In fact, I only had what I knew to be “enemies” at the time because of him.  In a weekend’s time, I threw a bunch of stuff in boxes, left a ton of stuff behind, without regard for who would have to dispose of it, and got in the car and drove away with my dog to a place I would be initially hated and that was still better than what I was leaving behind.

Present day.  I have been turned down for 2 jobs I have applied for in the past 3 months.  One inside my company and one outside my company.  This is on top of the dream job I also got turned down for in August of last year.  It’s like a dating profile.  I have all the right bullet points and pedigree.  I interview well and am highly engaging in person.  But I don’t get the job.  I feel trapped.  I know what needs to be done but I can’t execute.

I met a really cool guy recently.  After 2 great dates, he texted me last weekend to tell me that, while he understood my situation, he really wished he could spend time with me on the weekends.  Fair.  I told him I would stay home the following weekend and we’d come up with date 3.  He said I made him happy and he could be dead in a week so this is what he wanted or something like that.   It was all very sweet, even though slightly much for this early on.  But I get the “dead in a week” thing more than most people so I ran with it.  He also told me I was to plan date 3.

I have no idea what I am supposed to do for a date 3 plan.  Date 3 has implications I didn’t want to emit or omit.  Plus, every time I was out doing stuff, he would ask me who I was with and then laugh it off when I would tell him I wasn’t on a date with anyone.  But he had been cheated on when married so I understood this even though it seemed a little early on to be answering this question.  Truth is, I did go on a date with someone else a few days after my first date with him.  But he had more potential so I shifted focus to date 2.  I stayed active on my dating profiles but was mainly just using the experience for writing purposes at that point.

Last week was date 3.  The Las Vegas shooting happened and that kind of thing sort of marinates in my mind for several days as I give out small spurts of reaction but nothing too overt.  I knew on Friday it was still there.  I considered trying to re-schedule because I knew I wasn’t on my A game.  But I worried he would think it was because of someone else, regardless of any explanation I might give.  And, I did want to see him.  But I was also so nervous.  In reality, we both could be dating other people which would be ok this early on.  But he could be dead in a week and I was 10 feet from being dead once so forget “could” and “should.”  Just roll with it.  And I make him happy.  How, really?  I have all this PTSD shit under the hood that I can’t always control.  I didn’t know if there were expectations or not and I was just super anxious.

I let him pick me up which is something I never do but I thought it would be a good time to loosen up on my control issues and give this thing a real chance.  We went out for drinks.  I had too many and imploded.  I was having flashbacks going into that night and then I was worried about him worrying I might not be interested or I might be seeing other people or I might someday cheat on him and that I would not always make him happy.  It was like having an intestine explode but it was my brain instead.  I shared that I liked him.  Big no-no.  You are not supposed to tell someone that.  You are supposed to let guys wonder, I guess.  I definitely overshared some things and spoke a great deal of random gibberish.  That is totally what 6 beers, anticipation, nerves and PTSD will do when combined in my mixer.  It’s like watching a really, really, really bad movie of yourself and not being able to yell “cut!”

I am so embarrassed by my adult diaper blow out but the nerves were not 100% my fault.  I felt some serious pressure based on things dropped in conversations too early on.  I felt responsible for someone’s happiness long before I could be ready to handle that.  I am an onion.  I add amazing flavor to meals which would be bland without me.  But peeling the layers is hard and uncomfortable work.  I wanted to do that quietly on my own and sting my own eyes in the safety of my own kitchen.

I knew the next day that everything had changed.  Quick, basic text responses which I was accused of previously.  I tested it by throwing out a new invite which was quickly rebuffed.  Next day, he deleted our dating profile chat – probably cos he was moving on to the next girl that fast and didn’t want me to see any profile updates or new pictures.  I bet there’s something in there today about looking for a girl who drinks but not too much.  I digress.  I’d give it another day and then call the moment.  Got through a busy work day and then a work dinner.  After the event, I sent a text that said “I screwed up, didn’t I?”  The response was “I wouldn’t say that.”  I was just waiting for the “but…”  Then I decided I just didn’t even want to hear it because I don’t think there is any way for the response to feel anything but patronizing.  I wasn’t going to grovel or point out his red flag issues (divorced, followed by an 8 year relationship which only just ended, wants to buy a house in NH, worries I am keeping secrets and thinks I make him happy while concerned he may die soon.)  I once walked out on a guy in the middle of one of these “corrective” conversations…like literally got off the couch, put my shoes on, said nothing and just left the apartment.

I can’t breathe.  I completely blew it with this guy.  My walls went up so fast I almost didn’t have time to pee first.  I am so angry with my PTSD.  I am so angry with my self-sabotage.  I am embarrassed I thought this could eventually be something.  I am exhausted at being thought a failure with low potential at work and not being able to remove myself from that toxicity.  I am in a very small room with no doors and there’s no way out.  Why on earth do people want to pay to experience escape rooms?  I freaking live in one.  It’s not fun!

If it weren’t for my commitment to the very small family I have, I would literally go to Century 21, hand them my house keys and tell them to sell the place.  I’d take the dog and just drive or, at this point, fly the hell out of this country and never look back.  I’d take the plastic bag off my head, basically.

But in this case, I can’t move.  I can’t quit.  I can’t make a relationship of any kind work with anyone.  I got rejected from a job today on top of realizing I can’t be with other humans ever and that I can’t make mistakes either because they are not to be tolerated or worked through in any way.  I have skills but no one wants me to work for them.  I have a mortgage I can barely pay.  I have a long road ahead of barely scraping by and doing it alone.  I know that even one mistake is something people can’t work with.  I’m supposed to take the plastic bag off my head but I can’t.  Oh, and I weigh less than 200 pounds now but can’t run because of my mangled feet and back problem.  So there.