Saturday, July 08, 2006

Talking To The Walls: Scene 3

By Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D.(P)

These are a few of Crystal’s reflections, a little later on in her life, after she has been living with her psychiatric label for a number of years. She has had a number of landlords by this time of course, and you may notice similarities to some of you own. Let me assure all landlords out there, in the world of reality, that any similarity to any specific landlord, living or dead is purely coincidental.

This story is really an amalgam of Crystal’s landlords over the years which are being discussed by ‘Crystal’, in a collective, generic way. She is using the name of ‘Terry’ as the generic landlord, because it represents both male and female, which seems only right. In any case, the “Walls” family, which is also a fictional family, is being used for the _expression of a group social phenomenon of which Crystal; the identified patient is merely the group’s focal point.

The Landlord
Crystal was sitting at her small kitchen table one day, writing in her journal and making good use of her ‘writing behaviours’ when she heard someone come in through the outside door.

She lived in a cheap apartment that was one of several, in what used to be a single family home. The owners had simply separated it into eight units by putting up sheets of drywall between larger rooms.

As she sat writing, she heard feet walk up to her door, pause there, and then nothing else. She got up slowly from her table and looked through the crack in her ill fitting old door. A moment later, she saw Terry, her landlord, move back from the door and into her line of vision. Terry had been pressing ear to door again as usual.
“Listening for more signs of madness, Terry?’ she thought to herself.

So often she had been tempted to suddenly snatch the door open in an attempt to shock her landlord into reality. She knew though from long experience that terry would only see the act as some bizarre behaviour on HER part, unrelated to any ‘covert’ landlord behaviour.

She laughed to herself, wondering if Terry would report that to someone too. Maybe she should try to get LDL (non medical type, Landlord Door Listening) into the next fictional work known as DSM. Maybe if psychiatry drugged the landlords into submission their tenants would be able to spend less time being dragged into the wacko ward. That way the landlords also could be ‘helped’ and made to believe that they had no real problems; only incorrect reactions to faulty perceptions. Ironically, in this case it was true but not even suspected.

“Gawd,” she thought, “how did we all get to the ponit of being so stupid that most people are eager to agree to deny everything they see and hear that is right in front of their nose? Why, she often wondered. Doesn’t Terry have any self awareness?
She thought about everything she was aware of that had gone on around her since she had moved there. She was sick of moving. It was always the same kind of crap and it was always denied.

Crystal knew that Terry had been in her apartment a lot looking around but when she asked her landlord to call first if entrance was really needed, Terry would always say, Yeah, yeah, sure, sure’ while looking down at the floor. So insincere, and so obvious about it too.

The landlord just loved listening to gossip; almost as much as spreading it.
Crystal noticed that repetitive trait in a lot of people who were handing a load. They often trotted out their best patronizing little tones when they decided it was necessary to ‘humour’ Crystal.

This landlord also gave instructions to others on how to handle her. All would be perfectly normal between her and another tenant until terry decided to give out handling instructions. After that, new tenants who were perfectly normal one day would be looking at her like she was the creature from the black lagoon the next. Since her labeling had taken place, everything she said or did apparently required an ‘interpreter’ as if she were speaking a foreign language. Once, feeling very frustrated, she had said to one of these idiots, “Am I not speaking English?”

Of course, the guy had no idea what she meant. He was looking for some sort of bizarre and hidden meaning in the perfectly normal. Her favourite ‘interpretation’ was the time terry had told a fairly new tenant, who had seemed pleasant enough at first, that her simple gesture of leaving him a bag of cookies, outside his door, because she didn’t like them, was equivalent to an offering of sexual favours. They sure must have thought she was a cheap date to believe that a lousy molasses cookie was going to do it for them. But she had heard something like that before, from another woman who said that she had been told that psychiatrically labeled people were sexually easy. Crystal asked her if she told them she was crazy, not stupid or cheap.

Most of the time of course, the ‘secret’ conversations and ‘interpretations’ were to cover up something the secret keeper didn’t want coming out about his or her OWN behaviour. But the ones felling conspiratorial of course, rarely knew that. They were accepting whatever was being told to them at face value. After all, why would the ‘sane’ people lie right? I doubt if the landlord really wanted other people to know that he was entering tenants’ apartments whenever the mood took him. Terry knew it was illegal. That’s why it had to be a secret. The irony of it was that a woman had told someone else she had been in Crystal’s apartment when Crystal had gone out because Terry was not sure if Crystal could be trusted with the keys she had been asked her to take while Terry was away! The two of them were worried about people who entered others homes without their knowledge or consent! The absurdity of it though was lost on both of them as usual. Apparently Terry had instructed others to enter when the tenants didn’t know about it, saying, “Just wait until they go out and go in then. “ (No, no need to obey the law; no need at all. After all who is going to believe some mental case anyway?’

Crystal thought back to the time she heard her apartment door open and close while she was home sick and asleep in bed. As she woke up, she heard a mad scramble to the outside door but by the time she got there it was too late to see who it was. Of course her previous experience didn’t really leave her too much room for doubt. Of course, Terry ALWAYS denied it and put on a show of righteous indignation about being accused falsely. There was a lot of sympathy given to the landlord for that. When Crystal complained, he made sure to tell others that they really couldn’t go by anything that Crystal said. As with Crystal, the landlord told the others that they should just keep that between them. Of course, SAYING that caused people to talk about what was said just as much, or more, than if he had not said it at all, for then, it was a ‘secret’ about someone that others could gossip about. He sure seemed to suffer a lot with all those difficult tenants. It rarely occurred to others that the suffering wasn’t always Terry’s.

Crystal was just biding her time. Life was hard since her labeling and if she had confronted everyone who was lying to her, or who thought they were fooling her, she would not have ha, and the incidents, that mattered most to her.

Though her landlord clearly felt superior to her, Terry did not know about a lot of things. For example, Terry did not know about the borrowed cell phone she used to have, and Terry did not know about the nanny cam, even though he had almost picked it up once, that afternoon when Crystal was not at home.

No comments: