I woke early this morning with a nasty stomach bug. I had some tea, took some pepto, and went back to bed. I got up a little while ago, and thought of my commitment to write or post something every day for this month in the Nablopomo challenge. I considered just posting another photograph, and calling it a day, but I started this blog to post my photos, and to write! In my post on 10/30 titled, “What am I doing with this Blog?”, I mentioned a story I had written a while back, a piece of my past, that I was debating posting here. I fear judgment, misunderstanding, and opinions that may be formed about me, but have decided that I am going to write it anyway.
This is where I have trouble as a “writer”. After reading my original draft of this post, that I don’t know I want to post, I spent ten minutes going through journal entries from this time/date trying to find ways to “clarify” this better. Screw that. The language, content, and everything else is going to stay just as I wrote it.1996… It was the end of August when we learned Mama had the lung cancer. The surgery to remove a third of the lobe was scheduled for September fourth. I was living in a third story walk-up, what us New Englanders call a “three-decker”, with my soon to be second ex-husband. I had known for a while that “Ted” was cheating on me. I was hurting, and doing all the “playing detective” shit that just rips at your soul, finally, showing up at his work, (they conveniently worked 3rd shift together), and seeing her wearing a pair of my sweat pants. Mine and Ted’s relationship began in a dark smokey bar, where I was a dancer, the throb of late 80’s stripper music vibrating the floor. I took a hit off the joint, checked my nose for “evidence”, and stepped out of the dressing room for my next set. There he sat with his back to me, long, dark, wavy hair down the middle of his back, so totally drowning in “80’s heavy metal land”. I walked around the bar to get a look at his face, and decided right then that I was going to fuck him. It went like this…he tipped me a five, I took him home, we dated on and off for 6 years, and got married in 1994, and barely two years later, he was screwing the chick wearing my sweat pants. I however, was slipping out at night to hang out in the dark basement of the man across the street. The smell of weed, fumbling in the dark stairwell, my heart pounding. He had good pot, and the most amazing 1970 Chevelle. My method of choosing mates obviously in question at this point. The beginning of august through the end of September is still a blur to me. I don’t remember my youngest daughter’s birthday on the first of September, I don’t think I saw her, she was 12. Thursday, September 4, 1996…Mama goes in for her surgery. The smell of the hospital, waiting and waiting for her to return to the ICU, wondering if she even would. Flash…I’m leaning over the bed, giving Mama a sip of water, she struggles to speak, “I want a cigarette”. Friday…Ted comes home seven hours after his shift ended. I know where he’s been, but I’m more upset that he had my car, no license, and that he was drunk. The fight was horrible, and culminated in him pushing me…it was over, even before then…there was nothing left. Saturday…The hospital..Mama’s lungs have collapsed…waiting again..wondering, scared…blur, blur, blur… Monday the 8th…Ted packs his things and moves into his own place. I will find out later that he had rent the apartment for over two weeks before the day of “the big fight”. It’s my son’s birthday, I’m not with him..he’s 13, I’m with Mama. Mama makes it out of the hospital, still smoking. Ted is in his new place, screwing someone else. At some point my electricity gets turned off. I plug my fridge into my neighbor’s, light candles. Flash…my room…it’s daytime, but totally dark, except for the candles. I drape the netting around my bed, lay out the razor, taking sips of wine and hits off the joint…later that day…cute biker guy across the street, my lover’s friend, I call to him…buzz in my head, sweating, panting, pushing…what does it matter??? I’m not even here. Later that night…alone…I see the safety-pin in my hand, pushing it slowly, it’s tough, through the skin of my belly, just above my navel. I find it strange that I can’t feel it…no pain. Flash…Mama coming slowly up the stairs, three flights, she can’t breathe. She pays the bill to turn on the power….. Sometime at the end of September…lover is now living with me. He’s planned to go fishing with friends. “Do you want to come?”…”No”, I reply. I can’t be around people today. I don’t feel “right”. I hear my voice begging him to stay home with me…he leaves. Flash…I’m sitting in the window, legs straddling the sill, three stories up…knock at the door..neighbor, can opener, blood pours down my arm..I close the door…cops, medics…trying to get past my dog, one of them sitting next to me near the window… I have carved the word, “NO” into my arm, and turned the “O” into a peace sign, then slashed my wrist four times. My hand shakes as I stare at the blade, somewhat fascinated by my own destruction, the blood, the lack of pain. Inpatient at “respite’…looks like a motel..small rooms…two beds…”suicide watch”…therapy sessions. I get out, get a psychiatrist. The tell me I’m depressed…no shit, assholes…chemical imbalance…”No”, I say…”life imbalance.”…take a pill they say…hmmm, I mean, who wouldn’t be depressed??? This is what happened before the “experts” diagnosed me as clinically depressed. I would however, over 7 years of therapy be dubbed, manic, bipolar, PTSD, EDNOS, OCD, and who knows what else…the point is…I was just WORE OUT! Too much happening too fast…too much for anyone to handle…they turned me into a “patient” by convincing me that I was all of those things.
Okay, so that’s it, the story I wrote of how I began a long journey into psychiatric care. I didn’t edit any of it. The “flashes” and “blurs” are because I was so out of it, whether from the drugs or pain, I just remember it that way, in pieces. One less skeleton in my closet I guess.
I do want to mention one thing though. Through all of this, and so much that has happened since, I have always kept my sense of humor, as wry and morbid as it may be at times.
While I was sitting on the window ledge, the medic asked me, “Do you think you could come out of the window to talk to me? I would feel so much better”. I took a long dramatic pause, looked down at the street, looked back at him, raised one eyebrow, and said, “Why, are you afraid I might….JUMP?”…right as I said the word “jump” I made a quick move toward the opening, and watched as the room full of people jumped too…then I smirked and said, “Just kidding”, and got out of the window. I know by now you are thinking I really am nuts for thinking that was funny. You have to understand that the horror of that time makes humor in recollection necessary for me. Most of my life is has been filled with many times of horrible events, fear, loneliness etc. …I believe that part of my survival kit is my humor…no one can take that from me.
Oh, and for those of you curious? I am doing very well today. I do take one med for my anxiety, but it has been over 8 years since any hospitalizations, though when people ask, “Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001″…well, that’s another story.