As I continue further into therapy and attempt to get to the point where I can build a bridge to communication to the other aspects of myself who seem to go by different names and each possess different needs or desires, I begin to find myself in a horrific and strange place. This place is somewhere in my psyche, but it feels like a real location.
Hazy and confused, I emerge from this place often left with only a strong lingering scent in my nostrils and an overwhelming sense of dread. I suppose I am one of those folks who emerge from “switching” with temporary head and leg aches. And, I come back feeling so very tired.
I am trying to piece it all together and hold on to the memory of this place. This room. This appears to be the place where “everyone” stays. “Everyone” must be waiting for his chance to come out. And, “everyone” seems to be competing to get out and gain control over the shared body. And, “everyone” seems to feel entitled to this one body as if it is his own.
Currently it is a battle of sorts. A fight for control. The goal is to get “us” all together. To get “us” all on the “same page” — working together toward integration. A shared psyche that will allow me — or “us” to function in life as one. There is a block coming from “me” which is keeping this from happening. So, the exploration continues as my therapist and I work to break down the block (or blocks) and bridge a way toward communication.
But, for now, I’m left with my thoughts, nightmares, and odd discordant memories from that place “we” go when “one of us” breaks out and takes over the real-time action of life. …disconnected from each other and rather lost. A scary exploration of the mind. A mind damaged by years of child abuse. A mind splintered off into odd emotional segments designed to protect. Trying to figure it all out and remember…
first i notice the smells
the scent of vomit, sperm, blood and wet grass
i notice the damp feeling
the repugnant odor of what must be rotting flesh
the grimly lit room
i can see
or is it “sense” the beds lining down against the cracked wall
how many beds?
but, there are more than a couple.
my eyes can only make out the feet
the uncovered dirty feet hanging at the end of each bed.
like from some european film?
are those feet blue?
are those the feet of a dead person?
is that a child in the back of the room?
he is trying to hide from me.
is that child me?
he looks like me.
who is speaking?
it sounds a bit like me
in a disguised voice or dialect.
“come in here. take your place.”
i touch behind me.
started to gag from the scents
that permeate this place.
i want to leave.
where is the door?
“you can’t leave. why don’t you lay down and rest with us?”
At the moment, my life is consumed by confusion, fear and therapy. It’s an old and over-used metaphor, but sometimes one must look at his/her life as onion. In therapy — especially the type of three days a week’s worth which I am in — one must rely upon metaphor to grasp an understanding so that the mind can get a grasp around the core problem. At the core is the key to the way toward integration.
So, I sit with my therapist and think of a conference table at which to negotiate and make peace with parts of myself unknown to me. Fragments of me that have long ago split away from the person I know as myself. We are unpeeling the layers of my life — my onion. Some of the layers I know. Oddly, the most soured/bitter layers I already know. But, other skins are layers that have been long hidden somewhere in my psyche.
Sitting on a beautiful beach this morning with my toes pushing through sand, sun pouring down upon my head, cold ocean breeze messing my hair, cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other. I watch the waves as the surfers head to catch some magic waves. I begin to think of this onion that is my life and all these layers I’ve never really known that are slowly returning to my memory. Suddenly odd choices I’ve made in my life start to take on a sense I had long since tried to understand.
The sting or stench of the smell can be unbearable as we peel. Bringing tears of regret and fear to my eyes. I do my best to toughen up and get a grip to face the truth that is my life. I am tough. I can roll with the toughest of them and, if required, can usually take them down if they push me against the wall. But, I grow so very weary.
Pull back this layer and I suddenly remember experiences and misadventures that seem so alien that it doesn’t seem possible that these memories are mine. Here is a layer that reveals a long lost trip to New York with a black dude who was into things far twisted from my own interest that I was in way over my head. Another very thin layer and parts of a debauched night spent in a hot apartment in Harlem. Another layer and I discover a trip with a doctor to Fire Island. Is that me auditioning for a career in porn? Another several layers and prostitution reveals itself. $50 for this and that. Closeted lawyers, law students, MIT professor, an old man, a married “straight” doctor from New Hampshire, some sad sack editor and some guy named Julio who gives the smell of meth on his breath. Here is another layer. I’m walking down an alley with some big scary looking guy. I think we’re behind some educational institute annex on Newbury Street. I’m thinking to myself, “Is the money worth it? Is he a cop? Am I going to get killed? Arrested” …As I try to push this slice of skin to the side I find myself wondering if maybe that is what “I” wanted.
As I think about my first physical in San Francisco I remember being so very relieved that I was totally STD free. And, yet I can remember wondering why I was worried about these tests. As I move the bits of onion to a tuberware container for further examination at a later date, I realize that there must have been some “aspect” of “me” urging me to be tested just to be sure I was OK.
She leans forward and tells me we are doing hard work. …unpeeling such a complex onion. She encourages me by letting me know that we are moving forward at a very good pace and she feels quite positive that I will come through this fine. That this is the hardest part of my journey and that it will be quite difficult as we work it all out and try to understand “me” and the things that “me” wants that “I” don’t understand or know. In the meantime, life gets turned upside down for me and my significant other (the most important “aspect” of my life) — I try to get a grip and be tough. I try to find reasons to laugh and smile.
I escape into movies and music quite a bit. I lean on FaceBook and sometimes to find the level of concentration required to read a book — but that can be a stretch. I find it hard and almost impossible to be reliable. …to be on time. …to be in a place where there might be more than one or two people. Some people who are strangers to “me” at the beach seem to know “me” — I go along with it best I can. I pretend and act like I know them. I try to approach it like I’m some private investigator in disguise trying to resolve the unraveling mystery of the onion that is my life. I’m trying so hard, but sometimes I really have to fight not to give it up.
This onion stinks. This life is a hard one. But, then, who ever said it would be easy? Like PE coaches love to tell their students, “Look kid, life isn’t fair. Give me ten.”
…I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly..
Joni Mitchell …I find myself leaning heavily on the likes of Ms. Mitchell, Tori Amos, Barbra Streisand, Tom Waits, Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen lately. Then again, I always have. When you’re feeling down and out who can resist a defiant cover of “Cry Me A River” or Captain Tom Waits invitation to the blues and a drive in an ol’ 55? Let me tell you – no one can.
And, I wait til 3pm to pick up my peeling knife to work closer to the core of Me.