Dear Sara and Commissioner Willis

Yesterday was a hard day. It appears to me that John has sensitivities about cleaning in general, and in the future I can simply ask him to do it/remind him it’s on the calendar and drop it. But I had no idea what to expect.

I don’t know John that well apparently. His facade is lying/manipulation…but, now, I sense something even more darker, sinister, and even more horrifying going on below the surface. When he attacked me, I didn’t see it coming, it wasn’t any unordinary moment with him. I had asked him to hand me dirty dishes to do in the wash. I didn’t see this attack coming.

While I wasn’t hurt bad, he was relentless, I’m haunted about that, if it weren’t for a little luck on my part, I could have been badly injured. Again he was relentless, almost like he wouldn’t stop until—he was absolutely sure I wouldn’t get up again, and while, amidst this attack, I asked him “why are you doing this to me?” he didn’t answer but continued. Continued in silence.

I know Commissioner you have said ‘act like it never happened,’ and you’ve written in your texts ‘don’t give it any attention’ when pertaining to moments of his lying/manipulation. You also left yesterday, saying, you’re not worried that I am here, and if you were, you wouldn’t have left me here.

You see, I don’t have the span of experience as you have with John, and I only gain glimpses of what must’ve happened to him…what must have caused such a dark, secretive, festering world of sickness in his mind. Sometimes when he looks at me, all I can do is shudder, and look away.

But most likely I won’t ever really know what caused him to engage so brutally towards me. But I am thoroughly uncomfortable. It was like he was attacking the thing that did whatever it was that made him who he has become, as if he were taking vengeance.

My trust in knowing John and knowing how he perceives me has been demolished. I do not know who, in that moment he became. It will take me time to learn/relearn what it is to engage with him from this point onward. Again I know you have a span of experience, but I know what happened to me yesterday—and I know what could’ve happened to me if it weren’t for a little luck. So while I hear you and I trust your word, I also don’t know. I don’t know if today he will attack again and if I must remain ever so slightly, anxiously prepared, if…indeed I must nearly expect it…and if I must do whatever I can to ensure there is a route to safety. I only know how I will approach him today and go from there.

If I am continually haunted by a lack of trust from John and a lack of trust in myself towards him, I don’t know how sustainable living with him will be for my wellbeing—and for his. Obviously, I’m not there yet to make such an assessment. I’ll have to see how today goes, and keep seeing and feeling into it all before I can know whether this is unsustainable.

I don’t feel scared of John, no matter how twisted he may be, how petrified and demented his inner world maybe, but my concerns are 1) he could attack anytime without warning 2) next time I won’t be so lucky 3) I don’t know how to trust his word, considering he’s been lying and uses manipulative tactics to obtain what he wants more than I experienced due to his honest presentation 4) I have to regain trust in a new way, and I also, without him telling me (obviously), have to feel he has regained trust in me in a new way; (this 4th one might be a bit more tricky).

On one hand, now I am really getting to know John and knowing how to more effectively communicate when working with him, on the other hand, while he doesn’t have the ability to communicate complex-emotions and acts on this inability by lying or manipulating – and now, relentless physical aggression, I feel I don’t know him at all. I feel I must represent to him the darkest shadows of his passed, and slowly I am beginning to feel, he is waiting for the right moment to strike—where perhaps, once and for all, he can finally put an end to the perpetrator who caused such terror and trauma to his state-of-mind.

I overheard him talking to you, Sara, yesterday when you called. It sounded like basically he was saying he feels overwhelmed or a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of new things happening: me living here, the trial on Monday, and he has a new lady in his life (how he found her I have no idea, since he can’t legally leave the house, I speculate perhaps he found her through an internet dating-service). Every time she comes over he acts so kind, sweet, dare I say, charming, charismatic, but when they are behind his doors sometimes I hear her crying; for the most part it sounds like they whisper, and every so often, I’ll hear a shout as if someone were crying out in agony; I can never hear what they’re saying or what they are doing, I just try to keep to myself and go about business as normal.

So yes, John has a full complex-emotional plate in his hands, between the trial on Monday and this new lady in his life; (which I do not know if legally he is allowed to have her over or not). Perhaps after Monday, after the trial is over and there is a definitive outcome things will settle down more in his mind around the stress of it, which has been manifesting outward in his verbal complaints about not being allowed to leave the house and making threats like, “if I don’t get out right now I will kill you, do you hear me, I will kill you.” Of course, up until now, I haven’t paid it much attention, other than it has scared me to the core of my being, locking my door at night, clutching a baseball bat to my chest, all of which, I would never want him to know.

Which Commissioner, sorry to say, I do believe when he complains about not being able to leave the house, that he suggests more than that. For example, when he complains about not being able to legally leave the house, I sense in his voice a conniving suspiciousness, almost like what he more accurately would like to say is how much he hates me and how much he hates his predicament, and that he would do just about anything, anything at all, possibly even murder, to get free; but I don’t know for sure, except that every time he speaks of wanting to leave the house, it sounds less like a complaint and more like a subtle threat—for at times, I’m sure he experiences a terrible sense of claustrophobia, and occasionally reports on having terrible migraines. But of course we know he has lots of behavior around his resistance to the laws which surround his pediment, perhaps even a story of his own creation about it. Whatever story he may have about it all, I dread to know.

Nurse Kevin came two Fridays ago and explained more to me me about John’s condition. I appreciate Kevin’s down-to-earth approach in explaining things. He shared more details, and the span of experience he has had with John and his point-of-view on John’s claustrophobia/cabin-fever, Kevin’s point-of-view feels the most trustworthy to me. Explaining John had had a brain injury a year ago (how, he did not say and I was too petrified to ask), but apparently from time-to-time that injury acts up and John looses his sense of time and space and begins to act as if, whatever had occurred to him is reoccurring to him but in the present—and not only that, but apparently, from what I’ve seen, after having put the pieces together a little more, that when John has this kind of PTSD attack, he may not initially behave as if it is occurring, but instead recoil into his mind where his thoughts will take on the enormous procedure of meticulously plotting his “escape,” as we have all come to know, but not only that. Today, when the air was calm, and when I believe he was resting, I found a notebook under a pile of old magazines I never cared to examine. But, due to some restlessness of my own, I decided to move the stack of magazines to the garage, and there below the pile I found this notebook. And within it, there were designs, diagrams, pictures of architectural layouts, there were words scribbled all over in large fonts and small fonts with different colored markers. There are several pages in this book containing the word die, and every time when die appears it appears in the color red, except for one instance, where I found the word die in blue. This blue die was written in a diagram depicting a hallway, and the die was indicated to be in the hallway. I feel too terrified to investigate too much further, but from the layout design suggested by his drawings, the hallway he’s indicating is the one between his bedroom door and his bathroom. Why the notebook was under those magazines, I have no idea; only unless he deliberately placed it there so it could be found, possibly as some kind of call for help.

I cannot tell what kind of pain John is in and to what degree it may be festering. At times today he acts like normal John, where nothing had happened pertaining to violence, but I know there’s something sinister brewing in his brain and after what happened…I am in as much of the dark about his world as anyone else. When he expresses the pain of needing to get out, to get outside, at times it is coming from a simple resistance, but at other times, I wonder if his pain is coming from a deep psychological torment commingled with migraines—where all he can do from making an attack outward is to shout, until I come running with an un-intrusive demeanor—of which I always try to direct him towards the TV, and at times asking him if he would like some help to find a show he knows he likes, and that will bring him some interest. After he finds a show, usually things calm down, and I can retreat to another area of the house where I may relax, of course only temporarily before something else may occur.

There is something I must convey, I want to convey the challenge of what it is to hear John say one thing (usually shout it), and you Commissioner to tell me a completely emotionless opposite thing; I become sandwiched in the middle. I can’t just ignore what John shouts when it’s in my face (but maybe in time I’ll be able to), and I can’t just believe it either. If I disbelieve it completely, John could potentially and most likely feel upset that I didn’t take him seriously, (which could have dire consequences upon my well-being) and if I believe it then John’s manipulative/lying behavior can fester and he could begin to expect he could get away with stuff.

John can’t really clean. He doesn’t clean up after himself, but places the dishes in the sink, and when he serves himself food, there is always a mess. His rooms are a mess. When his dad came the other day, Frank, to look over the lease with me, we walked into John’s areas, and he talked about me assisting John when cleaning, but if John doesn’t clean or doesn’t want to, then they’ll hire someone to come in and take care of it. Frank made a point to tell me, that the shirts hanging in the office closet are John’s church clothes, and even though he legally will not be leaving the house, the shirts still, should never end in the wash but properly taken to a cleaners, with John’s money from his fund, for special cleaning. I don’t know if John knows that, even cares about that, or even has the slightest clue about what kind of cleaning those shirts need or if he knows how to ask for help to take them to the cleaners. Most likely those shirts will either end up in the wash or accumulate debris, and his parents will probably be the first to notice. When they come by for the weekly routine; they sit at the edge of his bed and pray with him making him feel like he’s right at church, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days they requested my presence for attendance at the service. Anyway, it doesn’t feel like my job to push John into telling me about his dirty shirts, but I could ask him if he wants his shirts clean, and if he would like me to take them to the cleaners for him; and drop it at that.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have reminded John about cleaning in such a way, if Frank hadn’t come over and did the little walk through with me through John’s areas. I know what Frank wants, but I know what is realistic for John in a moment; so I am also having to balance between what his parents expect for John, which for me is an implied or subtle way of communicating what they expect of me in behaving towards John, and what both of you might expect of me on how to behave towards John, (like not giving what I can’t see as manipulative behavior in a moment any attention at all), and there’s what I feel in an immediate moment with John and what I sense on how to behave with him. That is a lot of information for me to sort through in getting to know John and how to work with him.

I’ve trusted my own instincts this far. Saying things kindly, gently, laughing when he’s laughing, having a nice time, providing a sense of home, a sense of friendliness, not pushing anything on him, always asking him what he wants to do, also communicating to him about how I’m feeling and where I’m at and what we need to do.

As of recent he has started to say ‘good morning’ to me, and has expressed appreciation towards me after cooking a meal or driving to pick things up for him. I have only given my opinion when he asked, like before I went to the library and asked him what movie he’d want to watch and he said: “I trust your opinion of what you choose…just I want one from the children’s section, pick a good one.” When I was at the library I saw a movie, which I enjoyed in my past and thought he might enjoy it too, which, after he watched it, he said/shouted that he did really enjoy it.

Today I am going to have a very calm-gentle approach towards being around him, I’m not going to say too much, just listen and notice, and I’m going to try to give him and I distance (have minimal contact and be organic in our flow). I don’t know what really caused him to become violent, relentlessly physically aggressive, other than he clearly has some restless behaviors, with a hint of a twisted air about him, that’s hard to pin-point. I don’t know where he stands with me today and so I need to rebuild trust towards him; although, Commissioner, you say you’re not worried about me being here, I also don’t know that for myself–and with a broken sense of trust and complexity of what to trust, I am not sure if I really am safe or not. I do not and did not take what happened personally at all, please know that, I am looking at this from a very practical standpoint, and it is possible that John may feel I am a threat to his wellbeing and may even confuse me as the perpetrator of his past, or simply, I become a target for what he was never able to finish—to what he never had closure to. In which case I may come to feel that this isn’t sustainable, but by that time I might already be dead.

I find John doesn’t forget things. He reminds me of things that aren’t even on the calendar. He knew when to take out the trash. He reminds me of his medicine even when I’m getting ready to come up stairs to give him his medicine. And because John shows me he knows things and is capable of memory, I don’t know John’s real level of comfort with anything going on, and what comfort I might represent to him or not. He has what he knew from his past and I’m similar in some-ways, and I am different from whatever guards he had in his past also. All of which can only be known in time. I know his violence, relentless physical aggression towards me, was not about me, but at the same time I don’t know what it was from him directly that I did to contribute to his tipping point into violence, and what psychological significance he folded me to fit into—I don’t know who I became in his mind, and when he attacked, I felt, I too was loosing who I was and I was loosing what was happening to becoming who I was in his mind, so that, when he attacked I don’t know who I became. It was like my memory was wiped clean for a moment, but I didn’t have a new memory bank to replace the wiped one. It was like everything went blank and I didn’t even know who I was or where I was, or even know my name. It was only after that attack did I seamlessly remember how to talk, and remember who I was. I remember instantly before the attack, I had asked him to hand me the dirty cups, and he said “why,” and I said, “to put them in the washer,” and immediately after, the violence ensued, and a moment after the violence ended, I remembered only what I had asked him before the violence began. In the future, I won’t ask him to hand me dirty things when he knows, he himself, is already in the timeframe for his own cleaning.

This is what I needed to share

Thank you
Bob Grader


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