Wednesday, September 21, 2011

'Remembrance of Things Past'

Usually, I come to the keyboard with ready thoughts and ideas of what I will say. Tonight I start with nothing but the impulse to write. Today has been a very strange day. The sleeplessness is finally getting to me, and a deep fatigue is setting in. I'm finding it hard just to walk out side, and little tasks that I have to do seem very difficult. I seem to be running a slight fever, and my bones ache. I have been working hard on getting my body to respond both to my spirit and the spirit of the universe, (I'm afraid to say God today) by doing a full thirty minutes of visualization (also afraid to say prayer) in the mornings. However, this morning when I started, I was so distracted with aches and pains that I would find myself unable to concentrate. I've also noticed that several fingers on my right hand have a feeling of numbness, and it seems to radiate from my entire right side. With everything I've gone through the last eleven days, its discouraging to have today's set-back. I was worried for awhile this afternoon, if something wasn't wrong with another part of my body. The internet is the poor man's doctor, so I kept finding different medical sites to do my own diagnosis, but I didn't really come up with anything I could find as definitive. I do know, however, what energy feels like, and mine is completely gone at the present. If I do fall asleep, it's only briefly and then I am awakened by anxiety, I think arising from a sub-conscious mind that is as confused as my body is. My mind still seems to work, but even it today has fallen apathetic, as if to even think is 'too much'. As I'm writing this, I realize I'm starting to sound like Proust, who absolutely began to drive me crazy with the little details of his feelings, (Remembrance of Things Past) however, as I think of this thought, of reading him, I'm having a moment of hope, as if his suffering and self absorbed thoughts about his feelings and observations I could somehow identify with. His writing and Kafka's reminded me of each other, in thought if not in style. Reading Kafka's letters were intriguing, but very depressing when I think back. Perhaps the reason I was excited when I read them was again, that I could relate to them.

Although I know I have experienced deep depression in my life, I know that I have fought it fairly well, and for years at a time was able to find that passion is what would stave off the bouts, as long as I could generate one project to the next, I could get out of the ensuing depression that was always evident at the end of a project. I can't help feel that the genesis of this developing is in connection with my father, (who I can't seem to let go of) as whenever I went to visit him when I was a child, I would often suffer from a severe bout of flu and fever, and lay in bed in what seemed like a life threatening depression after visits there. In high school, I look back and see the periods of black depression, coupled with extreme use of substance and alcohol, which were those years that no one thought I could possibly live through. I clung to life because in spite of all of it, I had blasts of light and hope. I wanted to live but also felt I was swimming in a drowning pool for reasons that I didn't understand. Its still hard for me to understand, however, having lived beyond those years, and having moments of true happiness give me the view point of experience, that I might once again find my hope and life blast. "Oh, blast of hope engulf me…now!"

I've had lots of time to think of my behavior, and how it relates to my family and friends. Although my family knows my history and my battles with this disease, I think there is a pervasive thinking as to "Why can't he just get over it and get on with it?" Response: "Do you think I don't wonder the same thing? Do you really think I love waking up in a jail or hospital not knowing exactly what I have done with such feelings of loathing?" And then there are long periods where I have been able to function, but it was always there, and as the medical community has finally concluded, it is a disease, just like cancer, or any other life threatening disease, and it gets worse without treatment, it never reverses itself. From my experience, I do believe this is true, and its treatment is complicated, just like many diseases. I do think that the will can be helpful in thwarting bouts of it, but the will can grow tired of fighting it all the time. I understand the notion of AA that advocates, 'Letting go and letting God…" But that has been a difficult road for me. I'm paradoxically extremely willful, although I do love to collaborate, however, a human will, I'm learning, is as fragile as the human body. The will runs itself down with its desire to over ride spiritual dependence, until it lays there like a deflated balloon. I have made many collaborative deals with God through the years, but have refused, I think, to turn it completely over to a caring and benevolent God. When I do that, literally, my mind is thinking just the opposite, as if logic and reason are fighting all the time to keep me on an existential path that relies on my own actions. The resistance to God has hardened with a shear will to live, coupled by instincts that react in dangerous moments. It really is a wonder and a revelation that I am not dead. But, there is hope for me still.

I've noticed that since the fire I am a little nervous around anything that creates fire, which is probably to be expected. I've also been reactive to anything that smacks of a funeral, (I watched a video that had a funeral in it and went a little weepy) but given that I was close to witnessing my own from above, that's also an expectation that doesn't surprise me. There are little bits of information about the fire that are coming back to me, and as soon as I am ready to share that I will, but for now, I need to just keep analyzing things, and let them come when I'm ready. The fire, the fire, the fire… I don't want to die, in a fire. I think I just defied that possibility.

I hate to admit this, but I've also had this overwhelming feeling that I want to just lay down and let someone else take care of me. Just lay there, just be completely taken care of. I think the last two or three years have rendered me officially exhausted, runnin' and gunnin'. I remember reading William Styron's book, 'Darkness Visible', and feeling relieved when he went into the hospital for nine months. Of course, I don't think he enjoyed everything about it, but he emerged a man ready for a third act. He was sixty years old at the time, and because of a health crisis, he had to stop drinking alcohol for the first time in his life. When he stopped, he went into a debilitating depression that he says, "Was like being a walking dead man." There have been plenty of times in the last three years when I thought I would benefit from just going into a treatment program, just get a foundation going, but have always been hampered by costs and responsibilities. I also found that the commitment I made to my little dog when I first brought her home has hampered the notion. I told her from the beginning that I would always take care of her come hell or high water, and that I would never leave her. And, I have been true to this promise. All the love that I was never given a chance to with a family, or the last few years, a relationship, have transferred to this little border collie/Australian shepherd. She is loved and well taken care of. Did I mention that a dog is an amazing thing?

As I have so often in my life, my own treatment has to come in a more generic way, in the form of meetings and picking up therapy where I can. I do wonder, however, if I would have entered into a treatment program several years ago whether I would still be having issues medicating. I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know what it feels like to force myself to move forward after a crisis. This fire has been the worst, because it destroyed what little possessions I had. I've never felt to this extent the loss of so much energy, as if I don't get moving again I'll end up by a dumpster down at the park. I don't think I could survive that scenario for very long. I think that would be the end. And so, I struggle through another day, looking for any sign that my body will respond, looking for the way back to the kind of treatment I need to stay sober and contributing. One last thought on this. When I went to see the movie 'True Grit', I was struck by the dire circumstances that Jeff Bridges, (Rooster Cogburn) found himself in dealing with the bad guys, but I noticed for me it wasn't the bad guys he was dealing with that I was paying attention too, rather, it was the dire circumstances of how he had to deal with the elements, and the world heavy mentality of his demeanor. I was having anxiety at the notion of him having to sleep on the ground, ride a horse for miles and miles, feed himself and that little girl, and get up every day and do it again, through snow, cold, and rain. That's the part that got to me. It was also very informative of his character, that struggle in those circumstances. I was thinking while watching it that this is what my life feels like. Sleeping in strange beds for months at a time, driving across the country on the very edge of running out of gas. Wondering if I was going to have a place to sleep that night. Oh, now I get it. That's why people buy houses that they can live in. Living without security has worn me out. The stress of living hard is not as romantic as I once thought it was. My notion of 'The Bohemian Cowboy' boiled up some very tough meat. As I write this it occurs to me that although I'm tired and sick from living this way, I can't help but be hopeful that it will serve me when the time comes, and I'm not giving up, writing this is evidence that I can still write in spite of any obstacle thrown in front of me, I hope that counts for something… Perhaps someday, these will be my letters. Goodnight.


Gerry said...

I got up after an hour or so of sleep looking to see if you had stirred and thought you must be having a bad day following a day when you felt better. It seemed like that would follow. I do think you should rest as much as you can and snatch sleep when you can. Only I know how close you came to dying when you were being born. You were weaker than any baby I have ever encountered and I knew it was up to me to take very good care of you and help you get the strength back that should have been yours when you came into the world. It was like you were hanging to life by a thread. That was how I found out that a baby born blue must have encountered such trauma on the way to being born you hardly made it, so I always knew you had a history of a close call, and I knew pretty much what had caused it, late months of stress during the pregnancy and a doctor who was given to too many drugs when I could not go into labor I am sure because of the previous months of stress. Gary literally bounded into the world in comparison, the strongest baby who could practically pull himself up by holding on to your finger unbelievably soon.
But I do think this, we need to struggle to live until we die because we might have something to impart to the world that is very important about survival. So you became the amazing comeback kid who would battle back from some tough experiences to inspire.
One of these days I think you will be able to relinquish the need to stay conscious and vigilant so you can safely sleep and rest longer periods of time. I have had to live by taking naps which came from impaired stamina mostly. In old age a myriad of wearing out parts keeps sleep mostly short.
So I think as disability comes on a little early you have to relinquish the idea of a complete return to health and be content with a partial recovery and learn to live with that. I admired Doc for the years he had no income and no will to work and somehow survived on the streets, in shelters. I think those were probably his strongest years because he could not afford the substance, alcohol, he is so addicted to. The slightest bit of prosperity has meant "I can drink again" to him. So what you say in enforced sobriety, unable even to afford to medicate yourself, has clarity beyond anything I will ever hear from him, now that he is cushioned by 'security' and extended credit. I think you not having possessions such as a closetful of clothes, boots, etc, speaks louder to us, so don't worry about that. It is as though the mighty power of Mother Nature has had her way with you, tumbled you about, and cast you almost naked on bare stones to try to recover, and it is always a wonder when people do recover to write well again. I am amazed at what you have written despite being so depleted.

Chanelle said...

Can it get any more beautiful?

Hang in there. You are going through a refiners fire. Physically and spiritually. Endure to the end and you'll come out stronger, cleaner, brighter. Because of your experiences you'll be able to touch others and help them through their refiners fire.

But, then you already know all this, don't you?

ccpinmich said...

I was born blue too. The birth certificate said, "a little blue."

I had a panic attack in my sleep last night, actually two, but only one woke me up completely.

We should get canes and wander the fields singing songs..actually, I sing terrrible. I will photograph, you sing.

Bohemian Cowboy said...

I like that wandering the fields singing songs with canes. I know some good ones. My panic attacks are subsiding some this week. But they wake me up as well.