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September 23, 2002. Dear Jack: I’m tempted to shut down my weblog because I’m getting fed up with what some people send my way. Here are a few words from “Larry” in response to my musings about Vittoria’s long-established practice of running away.

“James Stephens: I admire your ability to maintain your commitment to a woman who by all appearances has so little regard for your feelings. There's no point in asking you what Vittoria does when she disappears for weeks on end; even from a distance it's painful to consider. I am often struck by the remarkably thin line between someone being a blessing or a curse. Which one is Vittoria really to you? I’d guess the latter.”

I might have responded by saying that after a great deal of careful thought over the past several years I’ve finally concluded that Vittoria has good and sufficient reasons to disappear. Every time I thought her motives were mean, or vengeful, or spiteful I was proved wrong. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe. But she remains the most guileless woman I’ve ever known.

Well, to be fair to this chap there’s a lot that I haven’t yet revealed. Why am I holding back? The primary reason is that Vittoria—as you know—reads everything I write and would hit the ceiling if I exposed her too honestly, too fully. She’s entitled to a few secrets, isn’t she? But then on the other hand if I don’t paint a complete picture, folks like Larry will get the wrong impression. I suppose there’ll be no harm in elaborating on what I’ve already written.

Two or three weeks into our relationship Vittoria said that I would never fully understand her. I asked her why. She replied that she has always kept most of the “real” Vittoria hidden. “You might figure out 50 percent,” she said. “But not any more.” Of course I saw it as a mystery, which I’d solve if I worked hard enough at it. We’ve both always enjoyed intellectual challenges, haven’t we Jack?

Not too long after our first few sexual encounters—which by the way were the most sensuous and delightful I’d ever experienced—she announced it would be a good idea if we did not speak on the phone or meet for a week or two. Which disturbed me. I needed to know why.
“Trust me,” she replied.
But I needed a full explanation. Actually, I needed reassurance that she wasn’t changing her mind about us. I didn’t want to lose her, because…well, I’d taken a long drink from that ancient Greek love spell cup they’d found in the necropolis in Lacco Ameno.
“You can tell me,” I assured her. “I’ll understand.”
“It’s PMS,” she replied. “You really don’t want to be around me. I might say something we’ll both regret.”
I laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“I’m sorry. I guess I’m just relieved it isn’t something else.”
She gave me a hard and cold stare. She picked up her bag, pulled out the keys to her BMW. “I’ve got to go now,” she said.
“Wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Later Colly explained that her mother’s PMS symptoms go way beyond irritability, short temper, or bitchiness. It’s truly debilitating. She gets severe migraines, which last two or three days at a time. Also nausea, depression. When these attacks come, she locks herself in her room and lies on her bed in darkness. She can’t bear to hear anyone’s voice. What makes it worse are the bizarre thoughts that creep into her mind, which explains why she often says so many really hurtful and nasty things to people, even those she loves. It gets so bad that she thinks she must be crazy. There can be no other explanation. She believes—knows for sure—that if she were ever to tell anyone what goes through her mind, they’d lock her up in an insane asylum. So she works hard to disguise all the symptoms, and she’s found that an even better tactic is to hide until they go away.
“What does her doctor say?”
“Tylenol,” Colly said. “Extra strength.”

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I love this picture and understand completely Vittoria's need to hide in the midst of severe PMS. I've had the equipment removed so it's not a problem for me anymore but I can remember issuing an all points warning bulletin complete with a please don't take anything I say to heart disclaimer to my loved ones when I felt the monster moving in.

Thanks, as always I appreciate your comments. These especially so, given your nursing background. I guess this is about the best argument in favor of removing equipment, eh? Seems a small price to pay to instantly erase what is for many women a most disturbing condition...

i can sympathize with the need to hide away when severe PMS hits. i get migraines too, and terrible depression, and murderous thoughts. it is hell. you don't want to drag someone you love into this dark pit you have to live in for a few days.

I understand that some medications like SSRIs have side effects, which put a woman in a position of having to choose between two evils. It's a truly bad situation all around.

I have so stumbled onto something wonderful here!

(I followed the trail of breadcrumbs from jodymeme's journal.

I am jealous ~ you live on my island! I lived in Naples from 84-90 thereabouts. I miss it terribly

And yes I am empathetic of that type of PMS ~ it is horrible :(

I'm a cranky hermit and, as a rule, don't add friends. It's nothing personal, really.

I'm a cranky hermit as well, but I never hesitate to add friends. I live in splendid solitude in a small villa on the slope of Epomeo and go into Forio only when necessary. When I got here four years ago I knew that I would miss it terribly so that's why I decided to stay. What were you doing in Naples?

Re: Decided to stay

Oh what a beautiful icon/picture

Let's see, long story short. My Dad moved there in 82 (he was Sicilian and jumped at the chance when he was offered a NATO post there so he could be closer to family). My Mum and I joined him in 84 thereabouts. He then retired in 86. They'd planned on living out the rest of their lives there but my Mum's parents became quite ill (age) so both of my parents returned to the US to care for them. When they moved back to the US I'd been living in Munich for awhile and then, I'm not sure really why (in hindsight) why I moved to the US ultimately as well. Hmm ...

As it happens there's a "secret" NATO communications installation on the top of Mt. Epomeo which is manned by a handful of military people who wear civilian clothes. One of these days I will go to Fontana and walk up the road that leads to a gate and guardhouse, where I'll be instructed to turn around and go back.

What a welcome surprise to see such a fascinating person having added me to their friend's list; how did you come across me? :)

Poor Vittoria; that really must be dreadful for her, and I'm sure it's hard on those that love her as well.

Thanks for your comments. I made my way to your info page from the friends of Folletta (see above), who came to me by way of Jodymeme. Saw your reference to Buddha...

For some reason, that story is darling and sweet to me! Although, I daydream sometimes that I could kick all people off the planet during PMS.

Yes, I know. I've been kicked off the planet a LOT of times!

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