Spiraling into comparisonitis and onto dark memory lane.

I worked yesterday. 

Early in the morning, on little sleep.

The morning prior to work involved a shower mishap that brought me back to falling flat on a wet floor the first day of the ill-fated semester of Spring 2013, and an odd interchange with the unusually grumpy man life, which brought back all sorts of memories filled with anger and verbal assaults, and I had to remind myself that no, I am not living that life anymore. I am not that girlfriend anymore.

Then I worked a crazy shift and had 5 hours until a Kirtan yoga/meditation group I had been relishing the attendance of since its existence first entered my awareness a week prior. 

So, I wandered around New Haven in a barely conscious haze, spending money on brioche I couldn’t afford, attempting to read books I couldn’t concentrate on, staring at young, vibrant Yalies whose life was so close to my former life, the one that ended with the fourth hospitalization in 2009, and whose lives now seemed so immeasurably far away.  I hated them with their promise and hope and respect and lives filled with jobs that aren’t minimum wage and homes that aren’t crumbling on their foundations. 

I wondered if any of them had ever been called an overindulged lunatic by their grandmother.  If any of them knew what it was like to be woken up at 5 AM by a schizophrenic performing an exorcism on a night nurse.  If any of them were ever cornered by their boyfriend, were ever trapped against a wall by an acrid nimbus of cheap alcohol, were ever described as the “worst fucking thing that has ever happened.”  If any of them woke up day after wretched day to their minds telling them that death would be preferable to their hellish life and the utter failure they have become.  If any of them knew pain. 

I tried to stay in New Haven, but I was so tired.  I felt fragile.  I craved nothing but sweets, and masochistic sex and my body kept unconsciously gravitating toward the mental illness section of the Yale bookstore and I knew that I needed to go home and get to sleep. 

So, I did.   

I barely made it home.  I was so exhausted I nearly careened off the road.  But I did.  

I immediately fell asleep and dreamed horrific dreams.  Dreams about him, about Jarett.  Flashbacks and reconstructions.  Him lying to me and screaming and becoming out of control, and me trying to convince him that this wasn’t right, that he was hurting me, and him telling me that I was crazy and too sensitive. 

Finally, I remembered in the dream that I had a no contact order on him and I called the police, who got the address wrong the first time around, but were on their way when I woke up in a cold sweat. 

My dad said he had come in while I was sleeping and I was white as a sheet.   

Terror. 

Sometimes, I don’t even know how to make sense of all of this.  These years of bipolar depression, the suicide attempts, the unplanned pregnancy, the adoption, the abusive boyfriend, the dreams deferred, the poverty, the fear. 

My older sister, Shannon, upon hearing a story about a really terrible date with what turned out to be a drug-addicted misogynist that had occurred some five years past, looked at me and decided I must be paying on some heavy karmic debts from a past life. 

Maybe.  I’m crying as I write this.  I am not a fan of crying.  There was a period of time in the spring when I cried for six hours every day, right after Jarett had fallen off the bandwagon, when my sainted roommates were leaving for marriage and a condo and everything in my refuge of an apartment was haphazardly thrown into boxes, when any words, from newspaper articles up to to the cell biology texts I should have been memorizing, turned into a jumble of black before me.  I hate crying.  It doesn’t do anything.  I know it’s supposed to release cortisol or some other stress hormone, but for me, it just leaves me depleted and reminds me of every other time in my life I have felt powerless and hopeless and every other less that exists but fearless. 

Sometimes, I feel that I have royally screwed up this life.  That I was supposed to do something, and didn’t, and the avalanche of trauma that has descended is some sort of cosmic punishment for failing.

Sometimes, I feel that my chance in this life is over, that I should just bide my time as quietly and uneventfully as possible until the inevitable occurs. 

Sometimes, I feel that I should make the inevitable happen more quickly. 

I talked with my sister, the younger one, Francesca, on the phone tonight.  The lone sibling to have escaped the worst of mental illness.  The one leading the closest to the normal American life with the normal American worries of a 24 year old college graduate.  

She felt far away too.  I didn’t know how to counsel her.  Her life branched off a long time ago.  I was calling her frequently in the spring, crouching on her for support in the maelstrom, until finally she told me pointe blank that she was sick of the endless conversations about my poor mental health, that she just wanted a sister she could call up and talk about How I Met Your Mother episodes. 

I disliked How I Met Your Mother.  I couldn’t relate. 

Aaah, life.  Where are your pieces?  Where do I begin?  How do I put you back together again.  When will you make sense?  When will the intrusive memories stop? 

I really need to regulate my sleep. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A wave of pure ebullience and the aftermath of the storm.

Hello fair world of blog readers – or more likely the eager listeners inside of my own head, 

  So, I remain here, sitting in my grandmother’s house, attempting to grapple with the incongruous stream of life that has floating in and through me the past week.  The week filled with towering highs and sobering lows.  The week that reminded me how far I still need to traverse and how to enjoy the moment without worrying too much about that anxiety-ridden path.  How much beauty and love exists in my life even in the midst of dreams deferred and poverty.    

I still have thoughts about him, about the ex – the alcoholic abuser – and he stalked in the shadows of this exciting celebration of the end of my 27th year of life.  Likely, because he had such a significant role in orchestrating the festivities that accompanied my previous birthday.  And now, that I have conclusively left him, he exists to me now only as a memory, as a no contact order, and in dreams filled with pain and confusion and longing and vitriol.   I suppose that will lessen in time.  I suppose that he will continue to fade into the distance.  I hope the dreams stop. 

And poverty.  The demon that always exists.  The one I thought I would escape by attending Mount Holyoke College and then becoming a doctor.  When that dream deferred and withered – when the combination of faulty neural circuitry, poor diagnostics, too many traumatic experiences, and a weakened will prevented me from completing my undergraduate degree – I had no plan B.  I had only ever wanted to do one thing with my life  – become a doctor for the poor and underprivileged – and now, instead of becoming a healer, I was and am the poor and underprivileged.  Existing below the poverty line.  Depending on the kindness of friends, family, and a backwards social services system to get my basic needs met and to experience exultant events such as the one that transpired this weekend.  I had always wanted to be financially independent, but without a degree, without letters next to my name, and with 10 years of medical mismanagement uprooting seedlings of opportunity, I have found such a dream to be unobtainable, at least for now.  Oh, well.

 I suppose there is only an upward trajectory that can exist from here.  Or that can stem from the near catatonic depression and psychosis that came about in August.   I suppose I can be grateful that there even is an “I” thinking and writing these words.  That my own brain didn’t take me.  That I can still breathe, and function, and enjoy modern art, and hug my friends, and explore centuries-old buildings, and experience orgasms, and effervesce in the glory of Broadway theater, and the taste of vegan cheesecake, and the sound of multicultural New York filling my ears like a choral symphony.  That’s the gift of nearly dying.   Especially at your own hands.  You learn to appreciate the simple sensations of this world.  And the gift of multiple waves of crippling depression.  You learn to revel in any bringer of joy, because you remember so clearly what it felt like not to have that capacity, to be mired in the anhedonia doldrums.   

Kindness to self and patience, patience, patience.   Not too much change at once.  Just grasp onto simplicity and perspective. You still are, Elizabeth.  You survived to 27.  You fought.  You triumphed.  You breathe.  Congratulations.  That is a badge of honor worth celebrating. 

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And to all things there is, inevitably, a birth.

They told me I should journal.

Actually, to be excruciatingly honest, they told me I should journal years ago, when the words Bipolar first escaped their steel lips and wafted through the air silently, destructively, into my life’s definition.

That was 15.

This is 26.

And I have never been consistent with their suggestion.  Littered on various laptops and pieces of shrapnel paper are pieces of emotional intensity; the recounting of experiences too painfully vivid to be kept locked in the recesses of my Hippocampus.  A psychic bleeding of sorts.

Which, I suppose, is an acceptable analogue for the act of journalling.  Or, perhaps, only for those of us who have experienced tumults of exquisite pain, which I’m told if you wait long enough, will be everyone.   Then everyone will benefit from psychic blood-letting.

There was a period when I was a consistent chronicler in my teens.  When everything seemed emotional, novel, and worthy.

At least to me.

Though the experiences written at that time – the cadences of first love, the guilt of DCF mandates, the blossoming sexuality, the lock downs in psychiatric units, the stigma – when vocalized, have often elicited a jolting look of shock, and the injunction, “You should write a memoir!”  So, maybe they were/are/will be note-worthy in some way.

Maybe I’ll write about those here.  Maybe you’ll get a taste of this prosaic life.  Maybe I’ll reach back through time and spin tales of the acrid smells of hospitals, of what it’s like to wake up every morning and desire death, of the feeling of childbirth, of the emptiness of going home alone, of the manipulative prevarications and the abuse, of the pile of stuffed animals, and how it is that I am still alive.

But maybe I won’t.

I didn’t follow the listeners’s injunctions before as I do not believe that I – or anyone for that matter- could be truly objective about one’s life.  Memory is such a funny thing.  A recreation truly if you read the neuroscience literature.  Especially the more you remember an event.

That belief stopped me but it was more than that.

There was also the fear of hurting my family.

I know that some of them would mutate into monsters in any tale of my childhood, and they still occupy such beautiful, intimate and deeply fragile chambers in my heart.   I have forgiven them for their transgressions, but I do not/did not believe that others would be so charitable.  I have told others about some childhood experiences, and the response is always a sympathetic gasp, the too simple image of negligent sadists infesting their minds.

Which isn’t the full truth.  By whatever definition of truth you wish to insert.

They are complicated, fantastic, terrible, struggling, thriving people.

Just like all of us.

 

I also believe that that this form of omphaloskepsis is abhorrently narcissistic.

Which it is.

And that there are far too many memoirs in the Western world.

Which there are.

And that my own life is not something that could or should be efficiently mined for story gold.

The instructions to memoir reached a fever-pitch when I was riding a high of collegiate and social success after being told I was too sick to graduate high school.  My life could be part memoir/ part self-help novel!   But, that concept is a fallacy.  There are no shooting trajectories to be found in this story.  Just sparks that flare, and fizzle, flare, and fizzle and flare again.  Like most lives, I suppose: filled with pain and pleasure, a messy search for meaning in the rubble and treasure of one’s past and predilections.

But we want the shooting star trajectory.  We yearn for it.  Homeless man into business owner.  Welfare queen into public health crusader.  Valueless lives into something valuable and enviable.

Which stridently grates against me, as I have had brilliant experiences with the homeless, and terrible experiences with those of the white-coat profession, and the impulse to compare lives, even to compare moments in a life, smacks of elitism and pernicious judgment.  Who is anyone to judge that one person’s life is more worthwhile than another?  No one.  Disgusting socio-cultural indoctrination for wealth, prestige, and egoism.

Tangent, I know.  Still, remotely relevant.  Orbiting the topic.

So, here I am.  Journalling in a public sphere.  Not that I expect anyone to actually read this, as I doubt I will pepper it with pretty add-ons, or links to Facebook (love/hate) or Twitter (completely revolting), or even tell anyone that I am doing this.  I was never much for self-promotion.  Probably because I find any type of marketing to be facile, manipulative, and despicable.

Applying to colleges sucked for that reason.

I’m likely a bad Capitalist American for that sentiment. Not the college one, the one prior. The one that likens marketers to voracious bottom-feeders.

Good on it. Bring on the socialism.  Anything to stop the relentless parade of pitches brought to you by the NFL, or Botoxed celebrities hawking fountains of youth, or incessant jingles shattering the atmosphere of enchantment breathed by the Bergamasque Suite.

So, we shall see if this pans out.  If self-actualization occurs on these page simulacrums, or if it will all be discarded.  If it will help the search for meaning, for purpose, for lasting hope, for understanding.  If it will keep the Dementors at bay.

If it could do all of that, hell if it could do even the last one,  maybe I will journal.

Maybe they were right.

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