what do you do when a trained professional tells you there may possibly be something wrong with the chemical composition of your mind?
well first, you think, fuck
then, second, you think, oh
then, thirdly, you think of all of the hundreds of times you or the people around you (or the people who raised you, grew you, lectured you, fucked you) told you this was a possibility begins to play like a movie reel in your head. the sound of click, click, click the ironic background music of your life’s I Told You So soundtrack. part one of probably, possibly a million.
the memories came out like a waterfall of emotions. a torrential storm of feeling, tears, sounds, words, noises. the audible, uncomfortable choking in your throat when the words that escape are the ones that have always reached back and around to squeeze, strangle, asphyxiate. the words that force their way back down your throat, into your stomach. the words that nest in your heart and whisper to you in the darkness when your mind is asleep and good sense is lost in dreams and noise.
it was the people that hurt me. the people that loved me. the people that scared me, frightened me, touched me, fucked me, forgot me, raped me. it was the people who sat with me in the darkness while my tears and wails and heart echoed in a vacuum. it was the people who held me when all sound left me, the people who chose me, who remembered me, who whispered to me. the people who carved into my skin over and over and over again and forced the scar tissue in my throat, mouth, thighs, the scar tissue inside the places I could only feel and not see. it was the people who shoveled me liquor into a quieter, sweeter, softer abyss.
but it was never people at all; just me and the versions of me. the little girl on the floor of her deceased father’s bed, repeating the words no, no, no into the knees pressed against her chest. the teenager on the floor of an empty master bathroom, staring at mirrored closet doors, carving her own wanting into her thighs, her neck, her spirit. it was the the twenty-year old in a cab; the eighteen-year old in an empty hotel room, the mosaic of nights spent on my own bedroom floor, making flawed decisions about men and women. it was the me: carving her own wanting further beneath the skin of herself.
it was the precarious still brown eyes staring back at every turn. the small, chubby hands clutching the tequila, the scissors, the knife, the cock, the despair.
it was the hope that maybe all of these were not me.
it was the slow discovery that each iteration was only another facet.
at each life event my mind declares a reckoning. an event of severe self mutilation to know the taste. an impeccable matter of self destruction to understand the feeling. it was seventy-nine days of boxing with Tyson in the ring of my own mind for the championship round of my mind.
Twenty-seven! This was your pact. You can stop now. We’re tired and sleepy and would like to rest…
It’s sweet at first.
You’ve accomplished everything on your list. Mom’s okay, the boys are fine, Luna will have a home, there are no sad children, no sad boyfriend…
It’s bargaining now.
Not another fucking day of this absolutely mundane insanity...
It’s anger builds.
Well, if we’ll be here, then we might as well have some fun...
The migraine begins. The drinking starts. The bad decisions marathon.
The memories blurr.
What did you do you useless fuck? You don’t deserve to live...
The anxiety begins.
Look at you. You can’t do anything right...
The hatred replicates. The child cries.
I sat in the bathtub. Visualizing each step. The cold porcelain pulsates against a radiating migraine.
Who will find me? How will they feel? Will they be okay?
My fingers scratch crescent moons into the red-spotted galaxies of my palms.
Does it matter?
No, please, no please, no please… a muffled child cries. Her dribble and tears dripping down her calves and knees to puddle at her ankles.
We’ll be safer. It will be quieter. No more bad decisions, no more disappointments. No more urges, no more anger...
The child squeezes her eyes shut. Her hands pressed against her ears, her elbows at her side, fingertips massaging her skull. Dad, Michael, Mom. The names of her family continuing in succession. The thoughts of her lookalike niece, her growing nephew and her future memories cascade from the sky of her mind. the thoughts of her brothers’ tears and mother’s fears. the thoughts of becoming a past tense. of becoming the person people held only wishes and regrets about. the thoughts of becoming a picture frame on a mantle and a body in the ground. the thoughts of transforming from a living to a remembering.
the smell of incense fills my nose. the quiet, loud thudding of my heart echos in my ears. a human alone is a sad, dangerous thing. my mind triggers the smell of marlboro reds and my father’s cologne.
When people find out that my father died young they always ask what saved me. What got me through it. It was four boys, all unlike in dignity. I’ve asked them all at least once if God was real, how could this be true? Why would good people die and how could it all hurt so much? Faith in the middle of despair is a flickering candle in an unapologetic darkness.
The coolness of the porcelain tethers me to reality.
The memories slip, time slides; my brain is a cascade of all the things that happened before and all the things that may happen after.
I feel the calmness of my breath gathering my sanity.
If there is faith, there is afterlife.
My father will hold me again; as a warrior of demons or a victim of one.
I think of her once more: grateful, calm, strong. Confident. Passionate. Furious. Steady. Her hands loosen. Her heart relaxes. The breath escapes. The control gathers. It was me who dropped the tequila, the scissors, the knife, the cock, the despair. It was me who once held happiness, laughter, hope. Creativity, intelligence, wonder.
It was me who picked up the shield, the sword.
In the shadows behind the tears of death the Valkyries await our valor for judgement.
On the battlefield of life the enemies are just camouflaged innards and sometimes we are just alone, dazed and confused with funhouse mirrors and reflections of an us we refuse to want to know.