Bad Mama

There was a time when I did not have anywhere I could call home*
October 1, 2009, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I had really hoped to come back with a happy, funny post, but that will have to wait, because I have just been blindsided.

Back in college, I was out one night and a guy came up to one of my friends and started hitting on her. He was really tall (6’5″), dark, and I thought he was ridiculously good-looking. My friend was not interested, so I started talking to him. At first, I knew he was talking to me only to get to her, but gradually he figured out that I was not, in fact, unattractive, and might even be a worthwhile date. We began to see each other, which lasted for a couple of months, until I essentially ended it because I felt he wasn’t taking things seriously, and I didn’t want to just be a booty call. But we stayed friends.  He was funny and smart and thought I was cool as hell. He nearly always called when he said he would and really seemed to like spending time with me. We both dated other people, but gradually became each other’s best friend. He was a kind, gentle, and slightly innocent soul, unlike any other man I knew.

Then I found out I was pregnant by a guy who had just dumped me out of the blue. It was, at the time, the darkest point of my life. L. didn’t hesitate. He offered to help in whatever way he could, including stepping in to help me raise the child if I chose to keep it. I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time without him.

Soon afterwards, he moved back to Chicago, his hometown, and then I met Big Daddy. We gradually lost touch, the multiple daily phone calls fading to weekly, then every few months. He moved again to Los Angeles, and with the next move around the same time as one of ours, we lost touch completely (this was before email was as ubiquitous, obviously). I thought about him once in a while, and eventually Googled him (his name is rather unusual). He would pop up here and there. He was modeling (I told you he was gorgeous!) and working as a fitness instructor in some of the best gyms in LA and NYC (yeah, seriously hot, people). Eventually, I contacted him through Facebook, and we had a short email exchange catching up. He was doing well, about to open his own studio in Chicago, his dream for many years. Things looked very bright for him, and I was happy he was doing so well.

I hadn’t talked to him in a while when I realized he had de-friended me. I was kind of hurt, but knew no good reason for it, so I figured it was probably an error and when I felt like chatting again, I’d just send another friend request. Then, his profile disappeared, then reappeared, with only a half-dozen people on it as opposed to the 200+ there had been before. I sent another request about a month ago, and he accepted. He told me he’d had a problem with his other account, and I didn’t really question him about it. He was in NYC, to teach a class. He said nothing about his studio, and I didn’t ask, figuring he’d tell me what happened when he was ready. The next message, about two weeks ago, told me he was in Chicago, and would I like to come down and hang out? I replied with my phone number, so we could make arrangements. He answered that he didn’t have a cell or a car at the moment, but it would still be nice to see me. All right, did he have a number where I could call him?

The next message blew me away. “I’m kind of homeless, and have been sleeping in a park most nights. Money is tight so I don’t have a phone at all. I will try to call you from a friend’s soon.”

My response was, essentially, WTF, are you serious? Why isn’t your father helping you? Do I need to come and get you? I spoke to Big Daddy, whose response was to immediately offer to put him up in our home. Then yesterday, I got this (only slightly paraphrased):

“I was in a mind-control cult and the woman who was supposed to buy the studio with me was a sorceress and she was using sex and black magic to try to kill me. My father won’t help because he thinks I’m mentally ill and  need to be institutionalized. Please help me, I am good with kids and I can help you with yours. I am all better now. Can you come tomorrow?”


His parents divorced when he was very young, and he went to live with his mother. It turned out that she had schizophrenia, and he eventually had to move in with his father for his own safety. She disappeared into the streets. He had always been afraid that he would get it too, but once he’d made it into his mid-20s, he felt safe.

I called a friend of mine who also knew him, and she agreed to make calls around to see if she could find someplace safe for him to stay. I then carefully wrote him another email, offering to pay for a bus ticket here and telling him we would try to find him a room. The next message elaborated. He needed a lawyer because of the unethical practices of the yoga center he’d belonged to–a yogi had tried to have him killed, sending his disciples to influence him psychically and flipped his dream state and his awake state in his normal conscious daily activities. The good news was that he’d found a friend who agreed to put him up for a few weeks while he waited to start a bartending job. But he still needed that lawyer, and if I just looked all this up on the internet, I’d know he was telling the truth.

I did look it up on the internet. I don’t think I have to tell you the results.

My heart is breaking. I know that I cannot fix this, that if he is as ill as I think he is, he does need to be institutionalized and get on medication. I am having a hard time reconciling this L. with the man sitting on the couch in my studio apartment, eating the dinner I cooked for him every week because I didn’t like cooking just for myself, and laughing about our pathetic love lives. I cannot bear to think of him so obviously in distress, feeling as if everyone has turned against him. I have a lot of ex-boyfriends who have not ended well (the majority, really), but he was not one that I expected that from and not in this way.

I hope I don’t lose touch with him. I hope this friend of his is able to get him some kind of help. I will do my best to support him, to not alienate him, while keeping myself safe. I know the vast majority of people with this sort of mental illness are not violent, and he never had an aggressive bone in his body, but I don’t know if that’s still true in his case.

Mostly, I will pray that whatever sorcery that is mental illness releases its hold on him.

There was a time when
I d
id not have anywhere
I could call home.

I was awake because
Sleeping was difficult.

Well, after several weeks
I entered the world of dreams …

*From the poem Waking Dreams, in Schizophrenia Poetry, by M. Stefan Strozier


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am so sorry, Carrie. I hope you can find a way to help him, but still keep your girls safely tucked away. Is there anyway you can contact his father without your friend knowing? He might have some insight on what, if any, medications or treatments have already been tried.

Comment by Jen

hugs and beautiful poem

Comment by DANA

Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. That’s really hard. My wife has bipolar, and while she’s never decompensated to that extent, she did in fact spend twenty years hearing voices. Fortunately she accepts that she’s got this condition — I hope your friend gets the kind of help that enables him to believe in reality and do what he needs to do to take care of himself. I’m thinking of you.

Comment by Pronoia

Holy sad crap! I have been bad at keeping up on your blog so I am sorry this is coming so late but wow, that is truly sad and scary. I don’t have any experience with anyone having mental health issues that severe – can they be hospitalized against their will? Maybe he could be lured to meet you at a hospital? I don’t know what I am talking about – I am just so sad for him and for you.

Comment by Meredith

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