Lessons of Independence for the Aquarius Full Moon

I have a friend with cerebral palsy.  Or rather, he is more of an acquaintance.  We met after chatting online for a little while, and he is a nice and friendly guy.  We had only actually hung out three times ever when he up and moved to California with his full-time caretaker a few months back.  BUT, he came back to town this past week to attend his brothers wedding, without his caretaker. 
When I say caretaker, I mean the person who cares for him 24 hours a day, every day, all the time, for everything he needs.  My friend has limited use of his left arm, and that is about it.  He is otherwise confined to a wheel chair and must rely on others for everything aside from feeding himself and wiping his own ass. 

A few months back, he called me up to ask if I would like to accompany him to his brothers wedding.  I knew what this would entail at that point.  I would have to pick him up, lift him into my car, get his chair folded up in my back seat, get him and chair back out of the car at the venue and wheel him around for an evening.  I agreed happily and willingly because it sounded like a good time. 

Then, just before his flight back across the country, he called and asked if I could pick him up at the airport and bring him to his fathers house.  I figured, why not?  It's not like I've got anything else going on right now being unemployed.  So I go to the airport and pick him up.  As soon as we get into the car he says that he needs to go pick up his tux before going to his fathers house.  It was on the way, so..  whatever.... 

We get the tux and start heading to his fathers.  As it turns out, his father lives a lot further away than my friend had originally said. But, I'm used to driving..  so..  again, whatever.

Then we get to his fathers house.  His father is an angry and gruff bigot who treats his son like shit.  I did not know this.  Nor did I know at the time that my friends caretaker refused to come with him for the trip because he didn't want to see the father.  Upon getting him in the house, his father informs me that he is unable to lift his son in and out of his chair and I can sleep in the back bedroom......


My friend never told me part of the plan was having me stay with him and his family.  I started to panic.  I told them I would stay with a friend who lived nearby and frantically started txting so as not to have to drive 2 hours home, or worse, sleep in this strangers house.  But I had no luck..  my friend nearby had lost his phone earlier that day, and as time wore on i saw my situation getting more and more grim.  By nightfall, my friends father told me i needed to pull my car into the driveway for the night because he didn't want it to get hit int he street.  This made no sense to me, but not wanting to offend him I went and pulled my car in the driveway.  He then pulled his car in behind mine claiming he had to be up early to bring my friends step-mother to work early the next morning, and he didn't want to have to wake me up to move my car.

I was trapped.  I started freaking out, but silently and without letting them see how uncomfortable I was because that's just the Libra in me.  But this was the night of the full moon in Aquarius, and these strangers had suddenly stolen my independence and lain captive my ability to escape..  There was no way I could get my car out even if I tried.  And if I did escape, then I'd be leaving my friend with people who refused to help him. 

I told them I was tired..  helped my friend into bed, and excused myself and went to bed myself.  It was still hours before I normally go to sleep, but I couldn't sit there watching VHS taped daytime soaps any longer.  As I lay there trying to ignore the menagerie of bobble head dolls lining the walls in this strange place, I ended up overdosing on benedryl just to pass out.  What the fuck had I gotten myself into....?

The next day involved waking up to my friends father trying to get him ready for the day..  his father pulled off all of his clothes as he lay in bed, and then started yelling at him for not bathing properly.  He told him he stunk, and he had better find someone to give him a bath before the wedding.  I just stood there trying to not look at my embarrassed friend, who was now naked, wondering why he came back to this. 

After my first ever micro-waved egg and margarine breakfast, I loaded my friend in the car and left the house as soon as possible...  As we drove around all day, I didn't know what to say to him.  Did he just assume that I had offered to help with everything?  ..or was he just taking advantage of my willingness to help?  I didn't know..  and I didn't know how to ask without making the situation even more uncomfortable. 

Many hours and miles later, we returned to the house to find the extended family there for dinner.  I spent the evening sitting with them at the dining room table listening to them talk about their family, how much they disliked the bride to be, and how their small town had gone to shit.  I had nothing to add to the conversation, and just sat there until i could once again banish myself to the creepy back room with all the bobble-heads, because no, I had still not heard from my nearby friend and resigned myself to the horrible situation. 

The following day, we were to check into a motel closer to the wedding venue, and then attend the rehearsal dinner.  This had already been planned without my knowledge, and at that point I just accepted it.  But first, there were errands my friend needed to run...  go to the bank, buy a wedding card, visit an old friend...  Several more hours of driving with just as many piss breaks as the day before.  Pulling into the back of a parking lot and waiting outside the car as he urinated in a bottle, which I then had to dispose of. 

Finally, we get to the motel.  It's nasty.  It's not the same place the rest of the family is staying at because my friend couldn't afford to stay there..  this is a place downtown where sleazy shit goes down, and scary people hash out a living.  And there was only one bed.  He expected me to sleep next to him.  I started to break. 

I ran outside and frantically started calling friends..  finally getting in touch with one about 45 minutes away who I could stay with for the night.  I felt slightly better.  When I got back inside, he told me that he was going to have someone he knew come to the room after the rehearsal dinner to bathe him.  I definitely felt better.  But then I had to dress him for the dinner... not fun.
So we go out to the rehearsal for which I was told I needed to dress up in full garb because it was at some fancy place.  Nope.  I could have worn shorts and a polo and been fine.  We eat.  It goes quickly.  I'm happy for that.  But as we get up to leave, my stomach cramps up.  The family dinner from the night before was preparing for it's second appearance and it wasn't going to be pretty.  I almost shit myself trying to lift him into my car.  His whole family stood by and watched without even offering to help.  Now angry and frantic I sped back to the sleazy motel and somehow managed to get him in the room and myself on the toilet before I ruined the one pair of dress pants I had with me. 

That trial done, he then told me that the friend who was coming to bathe him needed a ride.  I had to go pick up a stranger off some random street corner on the other side of town before I could leave for the night.  Awkward and annoying indeed.  But I made it to my friends just a few minutes after midnight...  and he was standing there waiting for me with a big hug and a stiff drink to calm me down.  I needed them both, and that one night I actually slept like a rock. 

The next morning I got back to the motel to find him still asleep..  the guy who bathed him gone.  The wedding was that night, and I told him we were going to relax and take out time.  No running around.  No panic.  No surprises.  I got what I wanted for that little bit of time.  It was nice. 
Then off to the wedding.  I spent the night being directed as to where to push him and escaping to chain smoke on the deck.  I didn't know anyone aside from him family I'd met the night before, none of whom spoke to me.  The music was awful;  the food, not much better;  and I couldn't drink because I had to drive us back into town at the end of the night to bring him to that sleazy motel.  Over the course of the evening I devised a plan to stay with another friend who I needed to get keys from as I am now house sitting for her..  not entirely true.  But not a total lie either..  and it got me out of sharing a bed with someone I was really quite angry with at that point. 

When we left the wedding, I loaded his drunk ass in the car and he immediately started crying.  He said he wanted his family to treat him better..  he was angry that he was left out of so many things his other brothers did as part of the wedding party..  he told me that he had always tried to be so considerate of others knowing how much of a burden it was to care for him, but he needed to think about himself now.  With that statement I almost hit him.  I was so angry I seriously wanted to shove him and his chair out into an intersection and just drive off.  No one in his family wanted to help him because they had been doing it for his whole life.  I had volunteered to go to a wedding and been roped into a weeks worth of personal care.  I turned the music up as loud as it would go and started singing to drown him out.  He kept crying.  I didn't care. 

Back at the motel, I put him to bed and asked why he ever came back knowing his family would treat him this way and he would have to rely on an unsuspecting me to help him through everything..  He said he may need them one day.  I told him that they most likely won't be there when that happens and I left. 

When I got to my other friends, she sat and talked with me for two hours to calm me down before going to sleep.  The shit show still wasn't over yet.  I had to get up the next day and get him out of the motel before checkout, then drive him back down to his fathers.  I told him I had a job to do that night (which was true) but just very quickly dropped him off.  As I was leaving he said, "You can pick me up tomorrow around 10." 

I said, "I will get here when I damn well get here.." and left.  I then went and sat in a parking lot for 3 hours to kill time before work.  I still had to go back the next day and pick him up again to bring him to the one other person in this state who was willing to help him out..  but it was almost over.
The other friend who was willing to help had been away all week and was supposed to get back around noon.  It was a half hour drive from where I stayed after working with one of my buddies, and then an hour drive back up to where his only other willing friend lived.  I took my time.  The other willing friend was late.  We had three hours to kill.  He offered to buy me lunch...  having not gotten anything out of the deal so far I accepted. 

He mentioned some chinese restaurant he wanted to get take out from..  I didn't want him eating in my car after seeing the mess he made at every meal all week, so I said we should just go in and eat there.  The place had no wheelchair ramp.  What The Fuck.  One of the waiters offered to help lift his chair into the building..  the only time in the entire week that anyone else touched that chair. 
Finally, as this stupid saga started to come to an actual end and I was pulling up to his friends house, he pulls a twenty dollar bill from his wallet.  "This is for gas..."  I couldn't even say anything......  I just left.  His other friend was bringing him to the airport the next day and I was just done. 
In all, from the moment I left home to pick him up at the airport until getting back home after dropping him with his friend, I spent five and half days being his caretaker.  Granted he did thank me obsessively all day and every day for the duration, but I also put 660 miles on my car driving half way across the state and back more than once for him.  The whole fiasco actually ended up costing me sixty dollars for the gas he didn't otherwise pay for. 

The next day, I woke up with a raging fever, aches and chills..  a throbbing head and dizziness.  I've been in bed since, aside from a quick run to the store because I needed liquids and pain killers. 

At the time, i just kept telling myself, "if i don't do this, no one else will.." .....the truth is, that isn't true.  The afternoon I dropped him off and left, his father and step mother had to have done everything for him, because i didn't find him in the same spot the next day.  I was used by his family as much as I was used by him.  But I still did it. 

I did it because I felt like I had to.  And the whole while I knew it was a life lesson.  I pitied him for his reliance on others, but it made me value my own independence so much more.  It was the initial shock of having my car blocked in..  here I was helping someone who couldn't help himself, and my freedom was stripped from me.  Most of you here know how much I drive (or at least how much I drove for my previous job), and the truth is that I love it..  I am in control.  I can go where I please, when I choose.  Without that option I felt crushed and defeated.  I imagined that is what it must feel like to be confined to a wheelchair and the assistance of others. 

It was no mistake this all occurred around the full moon in Aqua.  This was life showing me how important Independence is. 

This was also life showing me how important family is...  and as many problems as I have with my family right now, I know I can still count on them.  I also know I can count on my friends..  my close friends who are extensions of my family.....  the people who have put me up in their homes for days on end over the past few weeks.  Knowing that I have people to rely on is a powerful thing. 

He does not have the network of family to rely on..  I don't think it was originally his intention for me to care for him all week, but rather, everyone who said they would help bailed.  The friend we visited lent him money.  The guy who bathed him is a home health aid who had worked with my friend before, but offered his services freely.  The guy I left him with was willing to get him out of bed at 3.30am the next morning to get him to his flight home on time.  But none of them devoted themselves to him.  None of them were asked to do so much. 

The night that I picked up the guy to bathe him at the motel..  when I left, he said "Enjoy your night off!!"  -jokingly.  But he knew I was doing a job..  a job I wasn't getting paid for.  I bit my tongue and kept the scathing remark to myself that night, because that's how Libra plays...  but damnit, I was pissed. 

I imagined that if anyone came up to me at the wedding and asked who I was I would tell them I was the UNhired help.  No one asked me anything except some drunk chick at the end of the night...  she asked if I wanted to dance.....  I wanted to leave. 

He thanked me and the three other people who helped him in a facebook post this afternoon.  It was upsetting to think that he could simply group me in with the others after my days and days of effort.  But it was also upsetting to think that twenty dollars might be sufficient to cover all the miles I put on my car because of him. 

At one point, I took the piss bottle he uses and threw it in a sink full of bleach water, because it stunk so bad of rotten urinal that it made my car smell.  His own father just sprayed cologne on him as he wandered past. 

My father caught me attempting to shower with the hose behind the barn at the farm the day before I went to pick the friend up at the airport..  I'd been couch hopping for three weeks or so by that point, and was trying not to impose on anyone too heavily for fear of wearing out my welcome and being selfish.  My father told me to go home and shower, he would deal with moms temper...  I still used the hose so as not to intrude on troubled situation I myself had caused.  I can't be so selfish as to ignore the feelings of others. 

I suppose my inability to be so selfish makes me oblivious to the selfishness of others..  at least, until it's too late and i've been duped.  This certainly isn't the first time my willingness to help someone has gotten me abused.  Anyone remember the xfriend and the feather endeavor from two years back?  ...yeah..  she still works for my former employer.  They just gave her a raise.  how about the scorp?  he used me whenever he wanted, and i played along for 9 months like his little dog oft left in the cold.... 

So.  I want a life lesson from this?  Boundaries.  That is what I need to learn.  I need to learn to recognize when I'm being taken advantage of and when to put a stop to it.  But it's like lying and backstabbing..  I would never do either, so I never expect them from others.  I never think anyone would use me for their own selfish needs, because I would never do that to anyone else.  It's foolish, I know..  but sometimes I think that little bit of innocence may be the only thing keeping me from being the truly spiteful and vindictive person I know I can be...  and letting that part of me out would be worse than falling victim every now and again. 

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