chaos on bullshit mountain

by lifeonaxis1

thanks to jon stewart for inspiring today’s blog post title.  and for reminding me to laugh, as i watch it the second time around.

because the news i received today is no laughing matter.  it seems as though me and my bipolar twinsies are taking the fall for some professional indiscretions in my department.  oh yes.

let’s talk about some events.  a series of unfortunate events, to be more clear.  the year was 2011.  a long, hot summer was winding down, along with my month or two-long mania binge.  i was facing the consequences of my actions, like having no money, and the fallout from a wicked fight with my sister.

around the end of july, beginning of august, i had lunch with my ex of two years.  we had just broken up at the beginning of june and i didn’t see him during the height of my summer shit storm.  at the time, he was feigning interest in being just friends, although it was pretty obvious that he wanted to get back together.

in any case, we’re out to eat, and he says he has some news that i need to be aware of and cautious about.  oh goodie.

let me back up first.  when we were together, we planned on buying a house together.  for a lot of reasons that are not important for this story, it didn’t happen.  however, we did spend over 6 months looking.  our real estate agent was my co-advisor’s wife.  we all developed a close bond.  i was considered family according to my advisor and his wife.  we’d exchange attendances at dinner events and activities.  all good fun.

back to lunch.  after my ex and i split, he continued looking for a house via the advisor’s wife.  my ex told me they were out looking at houses one day when the wife broke down crying.  she confessed to having problems with her husband (my advisor; hereafter dubbed chuck) and his relationship with another graduate student who we will call amanda.

this part of the story didn’t surprise me.  for months the relationship between chuck and amanda had been viewed with suspicion on the parts of students, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as post docs and faculty.  they were constantly together.  they showed up together and, many times, left together.  i have seen them out, without the company of others, on at least one or two occasions.  many people asked about it.  there were reports from people who observed her crying to him out in public.

i saw all this and you know what?  i stayed the FUCK out of it.  because honestly, do what you want and leave me out.  i’m good.  i had my friendships and my pseudo-family bonds, and that made me happy.  besides, who knows what arrangement chuck had with his wife?

well, i guess the arrangement was of the nonexistent variety, because wifey was crying on the shoulder of my ex, describing how there were problems with her marriage and with chuck.  how amanda was creating a wedge between them, and how she didn’t know what to do.  she described a situation in which amanda had a problem with wifey, and went crying about it to chuck, which in turn caused problems between chuck and wifey.

and here’s my favorite part.  chuck is out 4-5 nights a week with amanda…and ME.

wow!  that’s awfully funny.  i must have amnesia, because i don’t remember spending even half that much time with them.  hmm!

my reaction was an unholy concoction of shock, dismay, disappointment, disgust, anger, and disbelief.  these were my supposed friends and “family” (chuck’s words, not mine).  now i’m just a pawn?

what is a girl to do?

i withdrew.  i canceled my attendance at a camping trip with these so-called friends and family.  my stomach twisted and turned.  i was isolated again.  i only got one glorious fucking semester of respite from stupid fucking drama and now it was all heading down the shitter again.

after several weeks, i confided in someone who i *thought* was a close friend (i only lent him money for all grad applications, a chunk of his wedding, and my fucking car for like, a month, and we talked almost every day, but NO that does not mean we’re friends.  apparently).  this turned out to be a mistake for several reasons, not the least of which because he listened to everything and gave me no solace whatsoever.

now, here is what i SHOULD have done.  i should have kept my fucking mouth shut and distanced myself as necessary.  i should have let their fantasy cruise ship sink, as it was bound to do, with or without my contribution.

but me, nooooo, i can’t leave this small injustice against me alone.  i can’t just leave it at, wow, what a bunch of assholes, and move on with my life.  no, no.  i have to go and make a giant stinking mess out of things.

my course of action was as follows: do nothing for several weeks.  hide from all peers.  drink alcohol.  weigh out who is the SAFEST person (i.e., the lesser of three evils) to talk to about this.  I conclude that it is definitely not the wife, because that could cause major professional problems for me.  then i decide chuck is no good either, because he may be lying to his wife and using me to do it.  finally, i decide that amanda is the best bet.  why?  well, if something IS going on, she would theoretically appreciate the heads up.  if something is NOT going on, she will be able to salvage her reputation by adjusting her behavior…also resulting in appreciation.

i was WRONG.  fucking dead wrong!

amanda and chuck got together the next day and the shit hit the fucking fan.  now, i was supposed to meet with the both of them together but for whatever reason (ahem) i was not invited to this shindig.  apparently, chuck had it out with wifey, who claimed she never said anything at all.  awesome.

monday morning (the next day) i receive a very long, strongly-worded email from chuck about a series of actions that i need to take within specified time frames (24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours), including speaking to a previous grad student who “has seen me (and been involved in) many situations, sexual and otherwise…and she can give you a good idea about who I am, how I behave in a wide variety of  situations, and what I do (and don’t do) with my students (undergraduate or otherwise).”  This student could then tell us all of the problems with wifey, including “the confabulations that she can come up with, the problems with menopause that are rampant, etc etc.”  The next step, specifically to me, was to speak to my so-called friend about confiding in him, and to tell him that it was completely inappropriate to do so.  That was a task i was to accomplish in 48 hours.  then i got a thinly veiled threat about ethically responsible behavior (!) and a command to schedule a meeting with him to discuss the consequences of the situation.

as you might imagine, i flipped a shit when i read this.  the only thing i wanted was to eliminate my involvement with this situation (epic fail on my part, i know).  all of this talking to other people and so on just seemed to get me more involved.

i considered leaving the program.  i considered leaving the state.  this was way above my head and i wanted no part in it.  i followed zero instructions, went in a few days later and said “is this over with?”  he said yes.  i thought things would blow over.

wrong again.

there is another event that complicates this situation further, but this story is long enough as it is.  i’m going to cut to about a month later, when i noticed strange changes in behavior on the part of chuck.  i had thought things were fine but now he was doing strange things like deleting me from facebook and removing me from email threads.  i contacted him as soon as i noticed and said i wanted to resolve the problem if there was one.  we scheduled a meeting.  i went to see him, and he promptly told me he wanted nothing to do with me.

when i asked why, he said it was because i “did not follow instructions” and when i explained that i wanted to be less involved, not more involved, he said it doesn’t matter.

this whole series of events stimulated, in part, the drastic downward spiral into the deepest depression of my life, one that lasted 8 to 10 months of pure misery.  in that time period, i heard rumors that i was on copious amounts of drugs.  i heard that i called chuck a sociopath.  none of these things happened of course.  i was being sacrificed.

i am not sure who orchestrated the ostracizing more: chuck or amanda.  i know bits and pieces of their contributions.  the whole story will remain a mystery.

so today, i met with my other advisor (my primary advisor) to discuss options with my dissertation so that i can graduate by august or december of next year.  chuck is on my dissertation committee, although i had broached the idea of dropping him.  no formal changes had been made, so my primary advisor asked about my status with that.  i told him i’m ambivalent, and he gave me a piece of information that might “help”.  indeed.

apparently, when chuck heard about my “condition” (i.e., bipolar disorder), he said that it “completely puts my behavior in a new light”.  and that now he is less…aversive to working with me.  suddenly there is now some kind of positive spin and i’m “okay” again.

because he can blame the fucking bipolar.

well just get in line buddy.

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