Monday, January 30, 2006

too close for comfort

it seems like a long time since i last wrote; i was busy being dead.

for a while i was on the damnable death-dealing demon drug and it was too painful for words but i tried to tell about it anyway. it stabilized my mood pretty well, but it stabilized it at "i feel as depressed as ever, hopeless and half-dead" and in addition it stole all my energy and most of my soul.

and then i felt better.

and then worse.



every time i feel worse, i feel a little MORE worse than the time before and today i feel like i'm on the inexorable slow-dance spiral to hell with no hope of a return ticket.

last friday i took off for the adirondacks and a place i know and love. there were geocaches to be found, but i felt like i should come home and go to a saturday church supper. i'd never been to one, and all of a sudden i really wanted to go.

so i came home. it was all right. the weather was bad, but dinner was good. so was the company.

and sunday morning bright and early i bounce out of bed and think: "i will pack my bags again and after church i'll go out caching."

and i do.

but i get as far as bristol (get your own darn map) and i get a feeling that i should go back home, maybe work on a new song that's kind of forming in my brain.

but do i listen?

no, i do not. i take my precious pocket query and all my gear and i head to bennington, where i look for but cannot find an easy cache by a duck pond. i pirate somebody's open network long enough to send czarniecki an email and i manage to go visit before i head on up to my campsite up on kelley's stand.

overnight it snows. it's not an important detail, but it's a grey day, and it keeps snowing. a lot. and i can feel the crash coming on and all of a sudden i don't want to find any geocaches. i am up on monument circle and i have not started to cry yet and a woman with deep beautiful eyes comes up out of nowhere and asks me if i'm all right and if i need help.

i am not all right, i confess, but i reject her offer of help. i take a moment to pirate an open network and send out some emails: Barbara, Flyingfisher, Tharagleb.

a little while later and all in the same minute three emails come in, and they all begin with the words "find a church and go in". i do not. Flyingfisher calls me to suggest it more forcefully. i do not, will not.

an email comes in from a friend i have not spoken to in a while, just checking on me.

after a while the crying subsides. i decide to hunt some caches whether i feel like it or not.

in fact, i do manage to find a few stages of a multi, but then my resolve evaporates and i can't get the energy to get out of my car to walk the 340 feet to one of clippy's caches, so i know i'm not doing so well and i decide to come home.

i only get as far as east middlebury before the crying comes again, harder and harder and i know i'm really losing my mind and in bristol i stop at the roadside and i call Flyingfisher; i don't know why, since about ten minutes into the conversation she is tedious and i wish i hadn't called.

by this time every car that pulls past is in my mind "them" come to get me. it doesn't matter who "they" are. i had slipped very far from Who I Am into being something else, something ugly. i accuse Flyingfisher of some things, i tell her some other things.

i am prepared to commit suicide by cop, a well-known phenomenon and a dreaded one among law enforcement officers:

an unarmed person at a traffic stop emerges from the car and charges the officer, giving the impression of being armed and dangerous, forcing the officer to shoot, usually at close range, and often to kill.

it is cruel and i am not above it. at this point i am not above running down pedestrians, or jumping fully clothed into the river, letting my friend Flyingfisher overhear it on my phone which i have still not hung up.

that whole day will be to her great credit and to my everlasting shame. i have very few real regrets in my life. that kind of cruelty to loved ones is right at the top of the list.

so here's the recap:

i am stunningly, painfully out of my head, paranoid, delusional, and twisted. something much harder, much more deadly had taken the place of my true heart.

and i'm out on the road. alone.

and i won't tell Flyingfisher where i am, other than to say that i am in bristol somewhere. at some point because i have told her where i am, i move the car a couple of times, changing direction twice.

something in me breaks and i don't want to be that cruel, cold person. i think i may return to it, but for the moment i apologize to Flyingfisher. i tell her the truth about where i am. i agreee to talk to Barbara.

this means that Flyingfisher has called my pastor.

i am angry.

it comes out that she has also called my mother, and my friends.

they are out looking for me. this complicates things.

and who else? will the police be looking for me? will they be warned not to shoot?

God has been sending me advice and offers of help all day and i have been rejecting it.

but all of a sudden i get it into my head that if i can go into the church (which is on my way home), if Barbara will meet me there, i will come in quietly.

so she meets me there. she leaves me alone in the sanctuary for a little while.

what i do not know yet is that at this point i have been found by one of my friends out hunting. crashco is certain to see that i am at the church and he goes home, leaving me to Barbara's care.

after a while she sees me home.

when i wake in the morning i write this song.

i had a lot to say about hope and healing and about the certainty that God's plans for me do not include suicide.

i had a couple of good days, but i keep getting slammed up and down and farther down and i don't know that i have anything left.

Monday, January 16, 2006

gabriel's garden

the damnable death-dealing demon drug stole my soul and left me a hole here at the heart of me; gutted out the part of me that cared if i came to despair and killed myself while waiting for something better and here i am on the platform; where's my train?

'coz it's six degrees out and windy and maybe it means nothing but i can hear the horn howl in the night and i come up near the tracks just where i'd see the light from the sunoco sign but it's late at night and the full moon shines bright and i just happen to be at the place where the brother of a man i once knew took a tire iron through the face and he never lived to see the inside of the ambulance, never had the chance even though when the truck rolls it wouldn't have to roll too far to get here.

so i'm out in the darkness, and i'm afraid of the dark but i'm out in hubbard park, not really alone because i've got Flyingfisher on the phone, wearign my ski jacket which i never wear except when i'm skiing, but hey, you never know.

it's cold outside, gloves off, jacket open wide and there are footprints all over the place and my heart sinks a little but then i notice i'm on a trail but i remember i have not brought my light and i'm looking for the box under sticks, under rocks and i'm trying to kick away all this hardpack and ice and i'm thinking:

who am i trying to fool?

you? would you believe me if i told you i knew where it was all the time? would you believe me if i told you that just as i went to sign my name the the clouds gave way and the huge white moon shone bright as day and i dropped the phone and in hushed voice i left the ring and i left joyce.

so i went back to my car and i got on the road, thanked Flyingfisher and hung up the phone and i was thinking a lot about long lost friends lost to time and lost in place, lost on lines i cannot trace. a name brought out of memory deep, a name carried by that one small jeep.

but this is where my story ends: i've travelled far but i've come home.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

wings above, water below

"wings above, water below". it's the name of a geocache near here that i liked a lot.

back in the early days.

i'm still behind in my cache logs; i'm working my way through a day a couple of weeks ago when i was out with Flyingfisher.

i haven't had a lot to say lately. or rather, i have, but you can only say things in so many venues at a time.

i'm out of work for a while. having to come off of all my mood-stabilizing medication was tough. and now i'm taking a lot of a new and pretty strong anti-psychotic. it's very good at stabilizing my moods, but there's this one hitch, a small detail that i think is dangerous.

deadly dangerous.

before this drug when i was depressed and i felt like killing myself i had a huge sorrow at the center of me, a sadness on behalf of all the people who would miss me. and i was depressed a lot of the time.

a LOT of the time. i have attempted to describe here the great yammering maw of it where there was nothing to do but cry and keep on crying, tears and snot streaming down my face while i crawl across the room and try to reach up to get a kleenex.

now i'm not so depressed. the swings are easier. i'm writing music in a way i have not done since before i was properly medicated.

what could be wrong with that?

i'll tell you what's wrong with that. i'm not sleeping. not on my own, and not soundly. even with a large amount of sedatives i can't fall asleep well, and i don't sleep soundly, or at least i don't wake rested.

if i get to bed by ten i'll lay awake for a couple of hours and then sleep fitfully, maybe waking and walking out in the night, and having to drag myself out of bed if i need to get up anytime before ten.

on top of which, there's a lot going on in my head. i think i'm going to return to my work as a storyteller, only with all new material. and i'm writing a lot of music, thinking that this may or may not be my last opportunity.

i'd better get busy in case there are no more chances after this. i was brilliant once.

and then there's the really disturbing thing. although my moods are more stable, i'm at a greater risk for suicide. i think of it out of the blue, when things are going pretty well, and i have the feeling that i ought to get on with it while i have the energy.

the thought of suicide used to fill me up with sorrow of the first magnitude; sorrow for the survivors, sorrow for myself, sorrow born of compassion and strangely, of love.

but this new thing is colder. it's like a piece of me is missing, and the part that's left out is the part that cares.

better get on with it, then. not my problem.

if you ask me, that's a medication that while effective in some ways and makes me generally more comfortable, i can feel that something is very wrong. something dangerous.

it's hard to explain, but i care a lot less. i think i'd rather suffer.

to the good, i took membership this morning in the richmond congregational church. had my baptism affirmed.

it will go a long way toward healing, a long way toward simply enduring.

and after church i went geocaching with friends and then out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant. it was the kind of meal that you could live on for weeks.

you go there and you order and the food comes to the table a dish at a time while you sit and talk with your friends and you all just become suffused with warmth and light and you know there's just never any surplus of that.

they have a really good coconut creme brulee, but everything on the menu (as far as we can tell) is rich in flavor and texture and it is a very good place to go and just bask in the goodness of All That Is.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

cross purposes

my one remaining rat still has not forgiven me. he's all done without he batril but every time i go to get him he backs away from me into a corner. he doesn't even know what to do with that, because he was certain that every ugly dose meant a treat afterward.

so he's not sure how to respond without the medication.

nobody's been giving me treats, but it's kind of parallel to my life in that i don't know how to respond without the medication.


don't know how to respond?!?

that's funny.

or it would be if it weren't so horrific. i can talk to you with some of the advantage of omniscient-narrator-from-the-future voice, but not too far in the future, so a lot of this is still up for grabs.

that crash that never arrived? it got here. christmas eve Barbara takes me into her office and she puts her hands on me and prays for me, with me, and the stunningly painful dive is suddenly arrested and i just kind of park in a fragile, stable state for a few days.


and wednesday afternoon i go into the church to water the poinsettias and i paused for a moment to reflect and the next thing i know my head is bowed and i'm hanging limp on my own frame, saying "Lord, it's wednesday afternoon and i don't feel so good."

and i don't remember sitting down in a pew, and i don't remember fishing out a box of kleenex, but apparently i do these things and i'm crying.

maybe i just need to cry. sometimes it's all you need, part of the healing. and for a while maybe it is, but then i feel my mind breaking apart; i am losing touch with the ground and i am going spinning off into the howling.

the sun set. i sat in the darkness, becoming more unstable, more incoherent. wailing with no word, no meaning, and i am very, very afraid that i will break and this time there will be no going back.

fearsome things fly through my mind. i do not know how i will get on my feet and get going, back to my car, back to my home where at least if i can't stand up i'm not going to be a spectacle.

but partly i think the sanctuary is exactly where i need to be. what i am trying to do is be mindful of God's presence, to ask for God's mercy, God's help. it is very hard to feel completely alone in there.

but i have blown apart. i think maybe the time has come for me to die. i WILL not kill myself here in the church though. i just won't. but i have a vision of myself lying very cold and still, crumpled on the floor.

and i have a suspicion that i am this close to going very far off the deep end and being the kind of person somebody hears and calls 911. and i do not want this.

why? not for the usual, sensible reasons; i'm past that.

Barbara, besides being pastor of this church, is an EMT with this town's squad. if it comes to that she will be summoned one way or the other and it will be ugly.

and please, God. PLEASE don't let it come to that.

i don't know how i got on the phone, but i did. i called Flyingfisher, who does not live nearby. i don't know what to do or what to ask for but Flyingfisher is good in a pinch and i remember, oh, i remember wanting to put that phone down but somehow i knew i had to just let her listen to me cry, just to know i was still there while she did whatever she needed to do.

i don't know how it happened because i was too far gone. i remember having some thoughts; some words to say, but none of them could get out. i was gibbering. i managed to force out some of the initial consonants but no whole words except for every now and then the only four words that i could still form:

oh, no, God, please.

i can hear a train going by and i think: "i'm missing my train"
and i have to stop the laughter that comes choking up in my throat because to laugh now and at that is to give up a part of my soul and to laugh now when nothing is funny is to feed the cycle and my body shudders and heaves.

but then Barbara is there. i do not hear her come in; i feel her hands on my back.

i don't know how long we stayed like that before i could breathe and speak.

and i didn't know what i needed. i didn't know if i was going to get better or worse. i didn't know if i was going to be safe for the night.

"what do you need?" she wanted to know. i wasn't sure what to tell her.

i think i just need you to sit with me here. in this place. for a little while longer.

i had no idea of how to say it.

but she sat with me, talked with me, prayed with me.

i've been struggling with this lie: "i'm not going to ask you to heal me, Lord." so we have some things to say about that.

but how much can i reasonably ask to be healed? on the one hand i don't want to define myself by my illness, but it shapes me, it is so much an intrinsic part of me that i don't know what i'd do without it.

the suffering, though. i could do without that.

and it's scary to ask of anyone anything important. it is terrifying to come before God and ask this.

so i'm sort of working against the request even as i make it.

so here's what i'm going to do: i'm going to put it aside for a while. the problem will still be there when i'm ready to think about it again.

tomorrow is monday and i have to go back to work. i don't know yet if i'm strong enough to go back and there's only one way to find out.

there is much else to think of, and much to prepare for. i'm covering a lot of ground in a very short time.


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