It had been about a week since the events that transpired in my room. I was both physically and mentally broken down. My foot was in a small partial cast due to the fractured cuboid bone from where I had jammed it into my RA’s door. The scrape that I had along my thigh from the scissors was all healed up, but I’d be lying if I didn’t still feel it there when I closed my eyes…and that was rare in itself too. I probably had slept maybe an hour or two a night since the event took place.
This particular day, I was busy putting on a suit, which proved to be a bit of a challenge with a bum foot. You know the expression “putting your pants on one leg at a time?” Well it was easier in this case to sit on my bed, put both legs in, and pull up than the one legged method. It’s funny what the mind chooses to remember about events like this. I couldn’t tell you what the weather was like, my particular emotional state, but I remember the pants. But what do you expect from someone who was probably suffering from PTSD?
The suit was for the meeting I had with the two Deans (Students, and College). Supposedly the college therapist, D, and her parents were all going to be there as well. Surprisingly, I wasn’t really all that nervous about the whole thing. Or rather…I just didn’t feel anything. I was waiting for the anxiety. I expected wracking shakes, bouts of tears…and nothing. But that’s what it means to be in true shock.
So I took the trek to the offices of the Dean, and I entered into the office. Outside in the lobby D was sitting alongside her parents and the college therapist. She looked up at me with a mixture of apprehension, anger, and anxiety. How would I react inside the office? What would I say? Ultimately, my testimony would be what would bury her, and she knew it. Looking at her, I felt a surge of anger, fear, and pity. Yeah…it was a confusing sort of day.
I told the secretary that I’d wait outside because I could feel the eyes of the parents slowing boring a hole into my skull, as if they wanted to see how all my cogs were turning. The air was so thick and tense, I could have mixed in some chocolate sauce, put a straw into it and it would have been the world’s thickest shake. I couldn’t breathe. When I walked into the hallway, it was like a sledgehammer of air straight into my lungs. I coughed because…well to be quite truthful it felt like I had been holding my breath for the entire day and it was my first lungs of oxygen I had gotten that day.
As I sat outside, feeling my heartbeat pounding a samba into my ears I saw the Dean walk by me. He placed a hand on my shoulder and I’m sure he said something meant to be reassuring, but all I could hear was my own heart. It was time. So I entered with him and we all went into his office together.
I’m not going to lie to you…my memories of the meeting are a little fuzzy. In fact, none of it felt real. The fact that I sat there in that office and admired the decor, the smell of wood, leather, and books… It was all happening to someone else. I was just privy to the various senses. I imagine that this must be what it’s like to hear a story like this. Disbelief, surprise, the initial reaction of “yeah, right! Who’d believe this shit!?” That should have been the reaction I should have been having. And intellectually, I knew that. Instead though, I admired the curtains, and the feeling of the necktie around my neck. (Apparently I kept stroking my tie, according to the school therapist. I had no idea I was doing it.)
D was recounting what happened first. To be honest, I wasn’t listening. What did it matter? I was just so very tired. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep for 3 months and pretend like nothing ever happened. I think at one point, I did actually close them, and it was some sound that woke me. Then it was my turn. And as I sat there by myself and recanted the story as emotionless as I could, I didn’t look at anyone in the eye. Just kind of stared into space. I must have looked insane…
When I got to the part about the scissors and the bed, the parents glared at me and must have uttered something like “How dare you lie about my daughter…” or something of the like. And I suppose that reaction was only natural when your child is being thought of as a criminal. I remember I tried to be indignant, upset at their disbelief, but nothing came out. Instead I looked at them and almost deadpan I asked the father, “Sir, do you have dementia or have you ever been institutionalized?” I watched D’s reaction as I finished the question because I wanted to see what emotion would be there. Almost like a scientist observes test rats. What I saw was fear…horror.
The father reacted the way I knew he would. Indignation, anger. How dare I say that about him. I didn’t bother responding and turned to the mother, who I swear to god, must have flinched by the completely dead look in my eyes. “Ma’am, have you ever gotten belligerently drunk and struck your daughter?” At this point the parents rage almost boiled over and the faculty were having trouble keeping order so I made my closing argument. “I’m not saying this because I want to. I’m telling you this because that’s the lie your daughter told me. About you.”
And then dead silence. Horror on their faces. They turned to D who had the good graces to look mortified and afraid. I imagine it was that look that sealed the deal, proving that my words were true. There was further deliberation after an extremely awkward silence and then finally everyone turned to me for what I had been dreading the most. Verdict.
I didn’t even know what I was feeling at that point. How do you deliver sound moral judgment when you can’t even tell if you’re in the room or not? I must have Uhm’ed and Uh’ed for what seemed like an eternity before I came back with something that even I didn’t expect to say. I wouldn’t press charges. Whatever problems she had, it wasn’t going to be solved by going to jail, only made worse. However I did insist on a restraining order, for obvious reasons. The best course of action, we all agreed, was that she seek professional institutional help, until such time that those people give her a clean bill of medical health. At which point, I had no problem with her returning to the school to pursue whatever she liked.
The parents agreed very readily because they realized that this was the best deal that they could have hoped for. The therapist and deans were impressed that I had rendered a very sound verdict without getting too emotional. Had I been capable of feeling anything at that point, I wonder if the outcome would have been different. But…no matter. I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that even despite having my head fogged over, I still acted like a good person.
And so…that was that. D and her parents left…D never made eye contact with me and her parents said Thank You before exiting, and I was about to leave the office when the other bombshell went off. You see…our college has a 3 strike rule like most colleges. My second semester freshman year and sophomore year my grades were pretty god awful. This was due in large part to the fact that I wasn’t used to having so much excessive freedom and I kind of went a little nuts… No excuse for that. Well, due to this incident, my grades once again had plummeted below the Mason Dixon line. So guess what? They had to let me go.
Now before anyone gets angry for my sake, and mentioning the extenuating circumstances behind my GPA freefall, please realize that this was mostly my fault. Those first two strikes never should have happened to begin with. They are there for exactly this reason (well not exactly)…so that if bad things occur, I don’t get thrown out in one go. But I had been given 2 other such chances and I had wasted them. Now, #3 reared its head at the most inopportune moment, and unfortunately they couldn’t make an exception, even given the circumstances.
Mind you…my current mindset and perspective has absolutely nothing to do with how I felt back then. I was devastated. At least I thought I was. Getting shived in the thigh was working better than Prozac ever would. So I was out. They apologized to me and said that if I wanted to come back, all I needed was one good semester from a community college to enroll again in their college. I nodded, and left the office with the therapist who asked if I wanted the number of a good psychiatrist. I said, thanks…but I wouldn’t be around long enough to meet them.
That night, I made the call to my parents. Now…most of you are probably asking yourselves at this point (or previously) what I suspect every single person who has heard this story has asked me. Why didn’t I call my parents at any point while this was happening? Truth? They were going through a divorce and had their own problems to worry about. It wasn’t just that, but I was embarrassed. Ashamed of being a victim, and I felt like I was less than a man. This girl had threatened to cut my manhood off, and in a way, she basically had on an emotional level. So I didn’t tell them. Even when I called that night to tell them I was expelled, I told them it was because of my grades.
I think it was a month or so after I had come home that I finally was able to talk to them about it. When I did, I told them everything, no detail obscured or held back. Since the day this incident had happened I hadn’t cried even once. That day, it was like the flood dams opened and I wept like I was in a goddamn Lifetime movie. When I was done, I hadn’t realized how ashamed my folks had been about me getting expelled until they became relieved at there being a reason for this last semester.
I think it was about a couple of weeks after my confession that I started seeing a therapist while I was at home. She asked me how I had felt during the incident and I remember I described it to her as this: “It’s like lighting. There are so many signals coming into your hardwired circuitry, that your system can’t process it all. So to keep myself from exploding, it was like a breaker in my head was tripped and suddenly there was no power. Nothing. My mind decided I didn’t have to see what was going on right now cause I wasn’t ready for any of it.”
I’m not gonna lie to you. I didn’t trust women (not even my therapist) for about six months after that. I couldn’t even be at the dinner table or outside where I could see sharp objects. I went through a period of time where I literally only ate pizza, hamburgers, burritos and salads. Things that could be at the most, eaten with a fork. It was a while before I could go to restaurants. And about a month before my eyes didn’t dart to every woman with a blade without flinching.
That next year, a friend of mine asked if I’d like to live with her in my college town for our senior year. …nobody else knew that I had been kicked out. But I said yes. Because in my heart it really was my senior year. So I went back…and it was heartbreaking. Everything I did was a sham. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone, much less tell people that I wasn’t their peer anymore. I didn’t know what I was. And when senior week came and everyone was having the time of their lives, building bonds that would connect them beyond their graduation…I was working and seeing them off. It was agony…and I still couldn’t do anything about it. Once graduation came and went, and people said their goodbyes…I had been emptied. I had nothing.
SO!! I ain’t leaving you all downtrodden and completely despondent about my situation, my lovely readers. Here’s the funny thing about losing everything and ending up with nothing and no one. When you finally drag yourself up from the dirt and dust off, you have everything to gain. You get to start all over again, with a fresh beginning. I went back to school, even though it wasn’t the same school. (too many memories) I got on the Dean’s List, I have wonderful friends who I hope I know for the rest of my life, and even reconnected with some who I’ve thought have long since passed beyond my grasp. (Thanks Facebook!) I even cut my food with a knife and fork, and allow my dates to do the same! Wow! (sarcasm)
So don’t cry for me, Blogosphere. (the truth is I never left you…) The fact is, this was probably the worst thing that could have happened to me, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t come out of the other side of this with a strong heart and stronger will. I learned to trust again thanks to all the wonderful people I met, and the people who love me. And let’s face it…after this, getting rejected when you ask someone out is about as scary as a Carebear.
Oh, and D? Last time I saw her was when I was working as a manager at a restaurant and my delivery driver called out. I had to deliver a pizza to an apartment. I didn’t even recognize her when she opened the door at first. Good thing, cause I probably would have yelled “VIOLATION!! POLICE!!” All kidding aside, we talked for a couple of minutes. Apparently she was promised to be engaged to a volunteer firefighter. Good for her. I did managed to fight off the urge to yell through the door “RUN FORREST RUN!!” Course she now looked like she had eaten her last 3 boyfriends (which I wouldn’t be surprised at…), but at least she has something going on. I wished her good luck, I turned and left. She tipped me a buck. Yeah. That about sums up the whole thing right there. Ingrate.
I AM EXHAUSTED! Thanks for reading all of that!! Peace!