Going Somewhere

It is very rare at this point for me to go anywhere. But, in less than a week, I am going to go somewhere. It is very exciting and very scary. But I am going to go camping with my church in the beautiful mountains of southern Pennsylvania. I’m going to do what I can to help my church do what it has been doing for the past 19 years-raise standing stones.

Yup. Standing Stones. Building a stone circle. And this will be the twentieth year. And being there means a lot to me, and I am humble and grateful that I can go.

But there is a lot to deal with before I can walk out that door.

Before we even get into the reality of an agoraphobic schizophrenic going anywhere there must be the means to do so. And currently the car is being a poot. It has refused to pass inspection, and is just hanging out at the garage. The garage is being frightfully casual about getting us an estimate on fixing the car. Like any person, I need to know how much it will cost to fix the car, and when they will be done. But the garage keeps not calling.

Mr. Sweetie is trying to call the garage, but all they say is that they will call back. Then they don’t call back. They have had the car since Tuesday morning, and it is now noon on Thursday. It seems like they would at least be able to tell us how much this is going to cost by now.

I’m trying not to be paranoid. I’m trying not to take it personally. I am trying very hard to not freak out. On the inside, there are armies of voices swirling around screaming that I’ll never get to go, that the garage isn’t calling because they have no intention of fixing the car, that it is somehow all my fault.

On the surface, I am trying to pack my things, and trying to get mentally ready for the trip.

Leaving the house is a big deal for me these days. I have that bad schizophrenic magical thinking. Truly, I feel that if I do every single thing perfectly, absolutely perfectly, then nothing will go wrong.

I make bargains with the Universe…’ok, ok, I won’t take ANY unhealthy snacks at all…now please make the car ok.’ Unsurprisingly, the Universe sees no correlation between my unhealthy snacks and compelling the garage to fix my car. And the rational parts of my brain understand that. The rest of my brain is like a swarm of hornets on krokodil.

Some of the irrationality is *actually* rational, too. The weather is a huge factor. In past years we have shivered, sweltered, and even entertained a large hurricane. (and sometimes in the same 5 days) For comfort and function, it is necessary to pack all of the things.

And all of that does not even begin to touch on the emotions, fears, joys, trepidation, and panic about being outside, about being with my tribe, my friends, my family.

And none of that addresses the underlying spiritual compulsion to go.

That spiritual compulsion is the driving force behind all the rest.

There is not a lot of support in Western Psychiatry for schizophrenics with spiritual compulsions. In fact, my experience has demonstrated that most therapists will do anything in their power to deflect the schizophrenic from religious impulse.

I understand that they have concerns, and evidence to support those concerns. I do appreciate that fact. I ‘get’ that there is no way that they are going to believe that my voices are not urging me to some atrocious act in the name of some deity-theirs, yours, mine…it doesn’t  matter. I understand their concerns.

But I do not share them.

I live my life with a lot of darkness and confusion. In spite of it, I try to be good, and to do good. I am compelled to reach up and out of myself, to try to touch the light.My life requires more religion and less medicine. Somehow, this trip is going to work out. Somehow, when those Stones Rise, I’ll be there.

…but that means that the garage better call…

If you want to know more about Stones Rising or Four Quarters, check out www.4qf.org


The Word Friend Still Bothers Me


Here we are again. And again I really don’t want to write this.

But, in trying to find a way back from crazy, apparently, some of the shortest paths run through sewers.

I was a shy awkward kid, bad haircut, thick glasses, and thoroughly intimidated. I was a reader early on, as a kid, I was not a talker. Add to this my family were the most repressed WASPs ever, and half of them were from rural North Carolina-that is to say, The South.

No one in my house talked ever about bodies. Not living and certainly not dead. I don’t remember my body ever being mentioned at all. I knew I had one. It was the vehicle that carried my consciousness into the varied acts that resulted in my carrying my body to yet another ass-whupping.

But as far as concepts like me being “in charge” or “having sovereignty” of my body…perish the thought.

In short, I was a victim awaiting a circumstance. It didn’t take long either.

He was a “friend” of the family. He is the first person I remember specifically being told was our friend, our family’s friend. It gave me a shitty perspective on friendship.

Not long after I made my acquaintance with our *friend* my hapless Gommy (featured in the diffenbacchia  story, too, poor soul) tried to teach me the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” I let her know that I didn’t want to be friends with Jesus, and that friends were big yuck.

Gommy was no dummy, but she was not particularly gifted with little kids, either. She added 2+2 and came up with 4 no problem. The problem came when the South reared its ugly head. She asked me gently and seriously if I was “being interfered with.”

Interfere…interfere…that word raced around in my little reader’s brain.

thought maybe she meant what was happening with the friend, but I was very leery of making a terrible mistake.

Interfere…interfere…AHA! Interference! Football!!!! I had what Gommy was asking. I confidently told her ‘no.’ (I was not allowed to play football, so there was no possibility of interference.) Hell, I was only allowed to watch my beloved Steelers if I was completely still and silent.

By the time I figured out how wrong what was happening to me was, I was too ashamed to tell anyone. It went on for years. Even now, writing this, I cringe, the shame is as fresh as it was over 40 years ago.

But in time, anger grew over the shame, then adolescence and the punk rock sensibility grew over the anger. Like layers of a tree. After a time, you grow numb to it.

It is bad enough to be a perfect victim at 5, at 15, or 25 it is a nightmare.

But that code of unshakable silence is hard to break. Even here, trying to break the silence, I’m still hiding in the shadows. At 25 I was chain smoking Kool straights and telling myself that it was “only rape” just get over it don’t be such a baby.

What I didn’t learn at home from our “friend” I learned soon enough through mental hospitals. They call it “milieu therapy” That sounds a lot nicer than ‘we save a ton of money on staffing by putting the violent and the victimized on the same ward.’

I remember at about 25, in the hospital just sneering at this blubbering woman who was dragging group out forever by crying and moaning over and over “he made me suck his….blahblahblah…” Yeah? well, so what? If that’s all he did, grab some mouthwash, and chalk it up in the win column.

I have a lousy track record for compassion for any victim of sexual assault.

And suddenly, it seems overnight, I am being bombarded on social media to speak out against “rape culture” I am suddenly being told that this is not okay.

Well, no shit? It’s not okay. I know it’s not okay. Personally, it’s never been okay. But it is going to take a lot more than signing facebook petitions to change things.

It means changing how every institution in this entire country is organized. We know that there are huge problems in the prisons, and on college campuses. But I’m here to tell you that the mental hospitals, many nursing homes and many many group homes for the differently-abled deserve the same treatment.

I’d like to think that I’m at least evolving personally. And I guess I have a lot more compassion for victims of sexual assault now-as long as they are not me. But I also know if given a choice between getting the daylights beat out of me or sucking a dick, I’ll hit my knees in a heartbeat. Nightmares are no fun, but broken bones are a bitch to heal.

But, as I live and breathe, I’d like to believe that the last generation of perfect victims will die with me-my sisters in silence.

How the Hell You Gonna Love Somebody Else?

An often repeated catchphrase of RuPaul, one of my very few celebrity heroes. At least, it is the second half…the whole line is “If you can’t love yourself, how the Hell you gonna Love Somebody else?”

I don’t know, I don’t know.

Do not the fuck even start in on me about loving myself. I have tried very hard for a very long time to do so. There’s no future in it. I don’t find myself lovable in the tiniest detail. And despite all the ‘Yay! Go! Me!’ that our culture crams down our throats every single day, I am deciding to accept that I find myself utterly unlovable. I am deciding to be okay with that.

I do have some very nice qualities, I can see that. They don’t amount to enough to make me lovable. As some people loathe coconut or lima beans, I loathe me.

For years, I followed all the perky advice of therapists and counselors. I made lists of my positive traits. I spoke affirmations. I read so many self-help books that Deepak Chopra would gag. I gave 110%. And now I am over it. So over it. I think I can find more useful applications for my time.

For me it boils down to that central question…if I can’t love myself, can I actually love someone else?

I think I can. I believe I do. I would charge grizzly bears for my daughters. I have done without a fair amount in trying to see that they did not have to do without very much. Neither of my girls would probably rate me as a good or great mother. But I have no doubt that they don’t lose any sleep wondering whether I love them. With every fibre of my being. Don’t believe me? Your choice, but try to hurt one of my kids at your peril.

I have a tribe of friends. Do I love them? Do they know I love them? Probably it depends on the friend, or the day. When I am at my worst, I retract as deep into myself as I can. I’ll quit talking to people for, literally, years at a time. Some friends do not appreciate this tendency. And I appreciate that it hurts them, alienates them, and angers them. But this is me. Like a bear, I need to hibernate. I need to go deep into my cave and listen to the voices, see what they have. But that cave belongs solely to me. It is not a place of sharing. There is almost nothing in life that I won’t give you, or share until I have none left…but that cave is mine, and mine alone.

My greed of this small dark place is not a miser’s greed. I do not retreat to gloat over some wealth. I go there to wound and be wounded, to suffer, to bleed, to die over and over and over again. You don’t need to go in there. It smells bad. The atmosphere is not healthy.

So, yeah. I love my friends. And I think they love me. At least most of the time. But there is a thing I do, and will keep doing that just pisses them off. Trust me, I beat myself bloody over pissing them off and hurting their feelings. And I apologize, but I know I’m a dreadful friend.

Finally, there is this man who lives here.

I don’t usually know why the man stays.

I’m crazy about him, I guess that is a plus, but it is weighed down significantly by the fact that I am crazy. I do all I can for him, but at this stage, that isn’t so much…when I had money, an income, I could try to better spoil him. Now, it is all I can do to try to cook for him, and do little things around the house.

I struggle to need as close to nothing as I can, to not want…I’m not sure that is really much incentive, but what else can I offer? This relationship reminds me of those terrifying mirror mazes on the Boardwalk when I was a kid…all I see no matter how I look, no matter where I look is my own distorted images.

He might love me with all his heart. On my best days, I like to think so, and feel warm and safe with that. Most days are not best days, and those days, it seems more that he patiently tolerates me, the grinding poverty, all of this…because he currently has no better option. Honestly, if I thought he had a better option, I would support him in taking it. I have before, just historically, his better options haven’t been better…

I never expect to feel as secure in any relationship as I perceive a non-schizophrenic self-loving person might feel. I’m generally okay with my life existing in a question mark. Perhaps, today, I am weary. Perhaps today, I would give anything for a hot shower, but I also know to not worry too much.

Tomorrow, I’ll be somebody else.