May 3, Fall Apart

I will spare you the gory details of how Busan “friend” became Busan foe but know that it ended with me changing my phone number, C alerting school security to keep an eye out and offering to help me file a police report, and my Korean army of friends offering to call him and threaten him with the police.

So yes, it has been a difficult two weeks. Not only deciding and telling him that it would be best we don’t see each other anymore but also the terrible, terrible fallout that had me Googling “knife self defense”.

The day it all came crashing down I had first called C, who didn’t answer, then E who did. E was helpful but also gave some questionable advice: give him what he wants so he’ll calm down.

No thanks.

The following day at school, C helped me change my phone number and a myriad other annoying and tedious things I didn’t realize had to be done when suffering from someone’s narcissistic rage.

Surprisingly, E never once came to talk to me during the school day. Not one “are you okay” or “let’s follow up”. That coupled with the pushover advice has, I must admit, lowered my opinion of her. She was also the homeroom teacher of terrible, terrible 6-3 which makes me wonder how much they got away with under her meek guidance.

C, on the other hand, is turning into a useful ally. The subject teacher committee ordered takeout lunch and C arranged our two donkatsu on student desks and laid out utensils.

Ah, I thought, she wants to eat together!

A friend recently posted that introverts don’t make extrovert friends, they are simply adopted by extroverts. I think I have talked C’s ear off enough, and rallied her in my time of need, to cement a solid bond. She was slightly more talkative during lunch and wanted to make sure I was okay. My heart!

“I hate to say this,” she started, “but that is the behavior of a KoMan (a stereotype of the Korean Man).” She was referring to the devolvement of a semi-normal seeming relationship into stalking, threats, and otherwise obsessive behavior.

Unfortunately stalking or overly possessive and dangerous male behavior seems more common here. I’m at least thankful that the average Korean man cannot get his hands on a gun.

To lighten the mood she talked about theme parks in the US which I appreciated. As we cleared away the empty takeout boxes, she added that many teachers were leaving early since it was a holiday. Before the virus, the school would have been closed. To make up time now, it wasn’t. She offered to input an early leave from my vacation hours if I too wanted to do that. I agreed; I have so many vacation days and now not a time to to use them.

Before leaving, I texted all four Korean mobile contacts in my phone to let them know my number had changed. To my surprise, G actually gave me a call! She’s currently in Busan taking care of her elderly mother. When she’s back in Seoul after vacation, she wants to hang. Yay!

At 2PM I left and went to the ENT by the school to address the strange sound in my left ear. I was the only patient and when the nurse sat me in the chair, the doctor spewed Korean at me. He got frustrated when I didn’t understand and almost rolled his eyes.

After the day I had, this was the hole that broke my emotional dam.

The nurse led me to a separate room where I had to use some magical Korean ear heat gun for reasons I don’t understand and I burst into silent tears the minute she left.

I wanted to yell at the doctor, do you have any idea what kind of day I had? Do you know I spent my morning changing my phone number so that a scary man can’t find me? Do you know I’m a foreigner and this isn’t my first language and cut me some damn slack?

The heat gun clicked off after two minutes and I was able to dry my tears but not erase the red eyes above my face mask. I had planned to scold the doctor but upon my return to finish the procedure he was much nicer and spoke English. He told me to stop using Q-tips inside my ear. Nooooooo.

I thought to myself, he must be terrified to speak English and lashed out earlier in embarrassment.

But at this thought I also got mad at myself. This empathy is what got you into this mess in the first place! Stop giving people the benefit of the doubt!

And then I felt upset that crazy Busan Boy was making me question my own EQ. In spite of it all, I’ll continue to treat others with empathy.

Finally the appointment ended with a 10,000 won bill which I scoffed at for being expensive. Oh, how national health care changes a person!

I hadn’t quite pulled myself together, the flood gates had been opened, and at the pharmacy the man and woman working behind the counter gently explained what the pills were and made no comment about my wet hiccups and shudders.

I teared up a few more times on the subway ride home, but managed to keep it in. Crying in public is not new to me and it comes with its own benefits. Aesthetic.

I was still raw and hesitant to leave my house Friday night, even though that guy doesn’t know my exact address, so I played Spyro on Steam and ate leftover fried chicken. It was healing.

The following day I met my friend J who I haven’t seen in months! He treated me to bbq and coffee and said he should pay since in South Korea, one typically buys others gifts upon receiving the first paycheck.

I can’t lie: a part of me recoiled remembering that Busan Boy had also paid for our last outing, only to use that against me later (his last text before I blocked him and his frightening stream of phone calls floated into vision: “spending time and money on you on your birthday was a waste, you used me, you can’t treat people like sh**, pay me that money back now, I don’t care how busy you are”).

I had to shake it off, I’ve known J for almost a decade now, surely he wouldn’t say something like that later.

Of course a part of me knows that if that guy tries, he can find another way to contact me. Then I really will have to rally the troops.

Strangely enough, one of my tutors has me write in a journal in Korean and corrects it. I’ve kept her up to date with all this and since things started to go down hill she’s commented that he’s a bad guy. After my latest journal entry, she was shocked and today in class I found out it is very personal for her too: she is currently undergoing divorce proceedings with her own narcissist husband. The things she told me! She started to cry and my heart broke; I only got a taste of it. I cannot imagine being with someone like that for almost a decade.

They also have a child together and I imagine things must be extremely difficult. For a snapshot of the type of person her ex is, just know this: aside from the stalking and constant put downs, he criticized her for gaining weight during the pregnancy.

Horrible.

I want to give her a hug. We cheered each other on and wished for happiness going forward. It is a strange bond to have with someone but I can’t imagine someone better understanding than her.

Needless to say not much got done during class but I’m learning a lot about the people in my life!

I took tomorrow off and don’t have grandiose plans. My life has been rather unexciting (well… in terms of travel) and I fear I’ve fallen into a routine that is mostly sleep well, read on my tablet, and study at cafes. By next month I hope to report more entertaining stories for you!

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