california state university. sacramento. i got lost on the campus again, after dark. asked for directions no less than three times. i know why they call it eureka hall. the moment i found it i felt that way. the kids were packed in the classroom, florence gave me a big smile and i took my place on the panel. the three stories came before mine were nothing short of inspirational. i hoped my truth could keep the spirit alive. about halfway through my story i found the pulse. the faces began to light up. these are difficult memories to draw. i told them how i owed forgiveness to my dearly departed cat. around 2001 Raccoon turned on me and slashed me in the face with his claws. that’s when i knew what an asshole i had become, deep in the heart of addiction.
when we were kids a raspberry was a scrape you got running around rough. the kid with the biggest raspberry was honored for a warrior. i remember once when i was 8 i injured myself on purpose, jumped from a real high spot hoping i would break my leg. i ended up landing on my hands and sprained my wrist. i wanted a cast for kids to write their names on, and all i got was a sling and a bag of ice. i went on to hurt myself in decidedly dangerous ways in life. driving too fast in the rain, age 17, i hydroplaned and rolled my vw. i was known to put a cigarette out on my arm. i had a lot of one night stands with strangers. hooked up with randoms. addiction was my tried and true. i wanted to numb the shame that came of hiding and fighting my identity. that was my biggest secret. i was trying to protect myself. i ended up in jail and rehab after rehab until finally i had to face myself, take my medicine, and face the world. my lease on life was renewed. today i have learned to let the feelings rise and fall. be true to yourself no matter what. today i like my raspberry red. i pack a peanut butter sandwich for my lunch with jam.
all the way back to ancient history, i mean my personal teenage daydream, i stayed away from the opportunities the crosswalks the celebrations the teachers the smiling faces. i could see them but i could not approach them. they were there waiting for me all those years but i harbored social anxiety and a strong feeling i did not deserve anything good in my life. so it was personal justice i exacted on myself, the better part of my twenties. then i hit the thirties and got a taste of freedom from my vices and moved to california. then the question of owning my identity arose. this would require courage and resolve. i could not conjure it up. i needed a plan and i got online and got with community and developed one.
i made a career move that fit my strengths and values. i was working so hard full-time school and job with a serious commute two hours each way. i still hadn’t put it all together, i mean, anxiety and depression and dysphoria were my lot. i had a few friends but mostly isolative. the pressures grew and i got heavy inside my head and i slipped up. years go by. you feel like all is lost. it can turn you against yourself. i was lucky to survive. i made it.
i seem to always be working on the residuals of my mental illness, sweeping them up and out of my life. this is a maintenance thing, i mean, i have to radically accept the eternal presence of anxiety and depression. they no longer stop me from living my life like they did before (and after) i got clean, six and half years back. yet they are like a snake and threaten to constrict. i have to maintain and keep building. thank god i have a career that enriches me. i have a home and can cook my own food. i have my health and no longer take psych meds. the recollections of traumas have subsided though they sometimes resurface in nightmares and an uneasy mistrustful and guarded relationship with both internal and external worlds. i am working on self-discipline. my stress levels fluctuate but are more manageable when i eat healthy and exercise and stretch. life demands mindfulness. i am drinking more of water and air and prayer. i am devoting more time to reading and writing. i read at night, before bed. on weekdays i get up before dawn and write, more and more frequently. it is hard to build the life you wanna live but it sure is worthwhile.
i moved to california from chicago hoping to renew my life. i was always looking 4 the energy to carry on. depressed and reluctant 2 try antidepressants after all the pills in china failed to help. some good people helped me get through the day by days. i got a job and sold my house in illinois. i bought a truck and read some books. i could not write anymore. not without cocaine and bourbon with milk. believe me, i tried. i carried a deep sense of self-betrayal (though no longer self-medicating and destroying myself). a better life was waiting to receive me. my demons were not done with me. i read more books. i walked around and thought. i enrolled in graduate school to study transpersonal psychology. i read William James and Carl Jung and Bill Wilson. i wanted to make a difference in my community. i had to teach myself to be responsible all over again. i had to be alone. to write without putting anything in me. just a cup of coffee or tea…ten years later i found the courage to really live.
The medical tech excused herself to speak with her supervisor. She hid her worry rather well. I was in a gown after an EKG. I had a paperback in hand, from the donated library in the waiting room. This happened almost every time. I was once living at high speeds. Sleepless nights. Racing around to no end. Years ago I exited my madness. Since then life has been something to cherish in slow motion. Few sudden surprises. When I saw her, she looked relieved. I asked her the number. Today my pulse chimes in @ 39.