Dear Mother Directional,
When there’s nowhere left to fall, then I suppose there are no more reasons to be afraid of falling. Anywhere you go, there’s no more need to worry about what comes next. What’s going to happen? What should I do?
When there’s no more room between us and the truth, then there’s no more space for excuses. There’s no more time for the internal lies or the casual denial that we shrug off and dismiss.
There’s nowhere left to turn and no place left to hide. This is it – and here we are in the wake of our aftermath and, finally, rather than saving face or trying to save our own ass, we find ourselves with no more excuses. (At last)
There are some things that follow us throughout our lives. Some of these are good – like the smell of honeysuckle bushes in springtime and how this reminds me of good times as a child – or the sound of the ice-cream truck as it came down the street.
I can remember hearing the jingle. I can remember the candies that turned our tongues into different colors. I remember the ice pops and the snow cones and the bubble gum and the summer months which were perfect for kids to play and explore.
There are smells that exist, which can automatically bring us back to a moment in time, which is an otherwise minute of encapsulated memory. Preserved and protected. There are songs and sounds – like the sound of cicadas as they chatter in the trees which reminds me of a hot day, quiet as could be yet there was a peacefulness that was unencumbered by sentiments or the confusions of emotion or loneliness. There are songs which can take us back or reflect or allow us to feel.
There are little signs which are cosmic to me, entrenched in my heart; moreover, these are the tiny droplets of hope which I have seen since my oldest memories from my youngest years. This was before the infractions and before the arguments and the allegations.
I can remember the very first time I drank a glass of iced tea. Mind you, this was no ordinary iced tea. This was made by you, at home, and sure – maybe the ingredients came from a can – but the taste from that first glass was unmatchable by anyplace else – even up until this date, I have not tasted anything like it.
There are memories I have of the nighttime during the colorful showers of a firework display. The time was perfect and the town was somewhat innocent. There was nothing pressing at the moment and the only priority was to look up at the sparkles and the showering rockets, like, “ah,” what amazing colors.
There are times which came before. By this I mean before, before. I mean there were times when life had a different pace and took on a different shape.
There were times before status. There were times before the worries and before the damages. There were times before the fights and the scars and the arguments which cut deep. There was a time when life was crisp and yet to be folded or crumpled.
There were times before age, when youth took place, when it was safe to step outside and not worry – to go out or sit on a lawn chair and to laugh or to look up and see the sky. Or better yet, to look up at the white trails in the sky that were left behind by jet planes – and wonder, “where would I go, if I could?”
There was a time before the intensity switched. There was a time before the emotions took on weight. There was a time before; and before this, there was a time of innocence and there was a perfect time of ignorance because we didn’t know yet. We didn’t know any better. It was okay to believe or have faith.
I have sat here in this hospital and spent time in the psychiatric wing, which they call Edenbrook, and I have heard stories and met with people who had terrible things happen to them. I know there is more than one side to their story. Then again, there always is. Including mine.
I suppose the people I’ve met here are people who have a “before” as well. There was a time before this, when our motivations were different. The angst and the resentments had yet to hatch. There was a time before the awareness of guilt or shame. There was a time before the world turned into a different place. This was before our moments of realization or feelings of foolishness.
I suppose like anyone else, we took this time for granted. We never realized how things truly were because our vision was altered or modified and shaded by our perception. Now we look back as if to say, “hey, those days weren’t so bad. What the hell was I thinking?”
I am here and while there are so many places that I’d rather be – I am here and making the best of this. I am doing this because there is no more room left for my anxiety. There is no more room left for fear. There’s nothing left in my gas tank which, in fairness, I am challenged to talk about this with anyone because I am afraid that they will delay my release. I am afraid that something else is coming my way. Or maybe they’ll flunk my discharge and make me stay.
The strange part here is although I am here because of my thoughts and actions to end my existence – there is a fear that once I choose to live or once I choose to experience life or allow myself the openness to enjoy, once I allow myself to explore like we did when we were kids, or once I allow myself the freedom to let go of the pain or the memories and the scars – my deepest fear is that this will all come back. I’m afraid that somehow, someone or something will come and take this away.
I used to be afraid to let go of the pain. I used to be afraid to let myself heal. I was afraid to feel better because what happens if I do? What happens if I let the pain go? What happens if I open myself to the fairy tales of vulnerability and then all of a sudden, everything comes back – what happens then?
All the pain. All the worry. All the anxiety and the depressive thoughts. What do I do if I let go and all of this comes back?
No one really answers this question, nor do they understand that the anticipation of this can be paralyzing. No one seems to understand this – at least it doesn’t seem so.
They’ll tell us about our coping skills. They’ll tell us what to do or how to find help. I hear this news and then I think to myself, “if it was that easy, no one would ever be on suicide watch.”
No one would ever feel so totally lonesome and unworthy or unwanted. If it was that easy, no one would ever look at themselves and say that they’re ugly or believe that they’re a waste.
I know that there are doctors with degrees on the walls and I know that they went to school for this. I know that there is an educational process which is needed in order to treat patients (like me) and at the same time, there is this troublesome hierarchy.
There is a level of detachment and a perceived judgment as if they sit in their chairs like the good doctors they pretend to be and deem themselves better (like an authority).
There is something missing. And there needs to be more. There needs to be more empathy. There needs to be more people who listen to understand instead of listening to answer or to solve the equation of what others would see as an unsolvable riddle.
When there’s nowhere to turn and there’s no more need to wear the mask – and when the time is right to come out or be truthful, then the healing can begin.
I am thinking about the times before. I am thinking of the things which we take with us throughout our life, like the honeysuckle bush or the smell of Grandmother’s perfume – or the feel of her hand, which was soft like a chenille blanket or delicate like freshly-fallen rose petals. I am thinking about the collaboration of love and how this felt on my forehead before bedtime.
There are times of people, places and things that we wish we could revisit. There are also times that we wish we could forget. There are voices that we wished we never heard and memories that we wished we never experienced.
There is a saying: Surrender to win.
When there’s no time left to fight and when the fight is done – we can surrender. We can give up the fight. We can return from battle and end the wars, which in fairness – these are the fights that only exist in our head.
We can release all the worn soldiers from their fatigue and let go of the battle hymns. We can stop the war cries because when there’s no more time to hurt, the only time left is to heal.
I wish this part was easy – or at least, easier. I wish this was as easy as it is for me to place the words on this page. I wish it was equally as simple to resign or to quit and to surrender unto a new life with a new beginning.
It would appear that although the people I’ve met at Edenbrook are all from different places, there are similarities between us. I am not anyone other than me. I am not a different gender or a different race and regardless of our differences, there is a commonality which I have found among us.
There is a certain safety here. Then again, there’s walls and barriers and people who watch us. There’s food and then there’s snack time and then there’s groups and real life is something that only exists on the outside.
I started these letters to act as a detail so that I could understand why I’m here. Or more to the point, I started these letters to understand why I am still here. Why me? Why did I survive and Cousin Contagious failed?
There was a young man who I used to spend time with when we were kids. This goes back to when we were long haired and wild, just looking for trouble and, eventually, we were looking for the next best fix. I recall him asking me, “Why you?”
Why did he go left and I go right? Why did I go in one direction, which appeared to have more luck, and he went the other way, which eventually led him to where he was.
I can remember our talk before his wake. I can remember what he told me. He said it’s not fair to be stuck in a life that doesn’t fit anymore.
The problem was he never knew how to get out. So, he chose the only route that made sense. Not too many people showed up to his wake or funeral. I suppose the news about him spread too fast and those who knew him, knew too much. At the same time, those who knew him didn’t really know anything about him. Not at all.
I wonder what his “before” was. Maybe it was the times when we were young, when the summer was like an endless stream of days at the park, free as a bird, unencumbered, unhinged and untouched by life.
There was a specialist at Edenbrook. He was a survivor. He lived through his own madness. He was heavily tattooed with scriptures that meant something to him – Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord. I will repay. This was about a man who hurt him when he was young.
This man talked about finding his own redemption. Said he was never comfortable being himself. Said he was never comfortable in the crowd. Said he was on the dangle a few times, a noose around his neck and ready to drop. Said he tried twice. Both times were unsuccessful for reasons beyond his understanding. He said this has nothing to do with God or anything else. He told me that this is not to preach or to say anything other than this: People can and do recover.
I’m not sure what to believe anymore. I’m only sure that when there’s no room left for pain, then I better start to heal. And that’s where I am now.
There’s no more room for this. There’s no more room for the bad memories. There’s no more room for the old recollection of sounds, like barred doors rolling shut – or the sound or a car door closing or the sound of an ambulance taking me away because for some reason – I accomplished life. Not suicide.
There’s a reason for this Mother.
Maybe someday, I can be like the specialist who came to visit me. Maybe someday, I can find a way to inspire life in someone who’s only inspiration is to make the pain go away (or to make the voices stop). Maybe I can do something like this and help people like me. Maybe then the voices will go away. Maybe the insecurity will stop and the anxiety will let me go –
So I can be free.
Maybe . . .
I only have a few more days here.
Let’s see where this takes me.
I love you, Mother.