Thursday, October 04, 2012

Because it's painful


            Help! I'm supposed to be doing something, but I can't do anything. I don't even know what happened, what made me so exhausted today, obliterated, unable to function. I mean I went outside for a walk in the gorgeous weather, yes the weather is staying gorgeous and it's hard to imagine I mean it's not hard to imagine because it's staying gorgeous. So I went out for a walk, and then sunbathed in the park, came back home and now I can't do anything. But look, I did something – I went on a walk, to the park. I came back. I talked to Gina on the phone. Of course I cooked, earlier in the day, and later on I have plans. But I can't figure out what to do right now, since I can't do anything. Maybe I shouldn't think about doing something, I mean I know I could get back in bed, but I'm pretty sure that would make me feel worse, so I'm trying to avoid that scenario.

            I guess what I'm saying is that my brain, my brain, my brain won't work, won't work today, or at least right now, so should I get back in bed? That just sounds so awful. I could take a shower, but that sounds awful too. I have a whole list of all the things, large and small, that I want to do, but can’t, not right now, so maybe, maybe I will get back in bed or listen to a feldenkrais CD, yes I think I'll try that first, that will be the first attempt. I wish I had other feldenkrais CDs to listen to, other feldenkrais CDs that didn't stimulate my pain instead of calming it because calm is the point, right? And outside it looks like they might be starting construction across the street soon, demolishing the big old house that's a nonprofit, to make something bigger — I mean I hope not, but there is a lot of surveying going on, surveying the angle or the land or something I'm not sure. Although I'm glad that there are so many smokers standing there. Now it's all the fabric softener poison blowing in from downstairs, that didn't used to happen so often but now. But now it happens.

What else do I want to say from this point of exhaustion overwhelm? Oh, I had an idea, an idea about this horrible intestinal bloating that's been going on for the last however many years, three or so I think, right? And then I realized oh, it started around when my relationship with Chris ended, that was four years ago I guess, almost exactly 4 years, so I wonder if there's a connection. A connection between the end of the relationship that made me feel the safest, in my body, the end of that relationship without any ability to process it, to have closure. I wonder if somehow that relates to the bloating.

And then, when I was thinking about this, I started thinking about how Chris used to have a lot of intestinal pain, and how he would always make these really loud and aggressive farts and at the time I thought this was part of some kind of masculine performance, which it might have been, but also I think he was responding to intestinal pain, I didn't quite understand at the time. And so that makes me wonder if I have his intestinal pain — and I know maybe that sounds ridiculous, but I just thought I'd mention it. Since I can't figure out what to do, I might as well think about anything that might help, right? So I called Seattle Counseling Services, or no first they make you fill out a form online, so I filled out the form online, although they won't be useful for me unless they have therapists on staff who do something other than talk therapy. Talk therapy just makes me more tired: I can talk to anyone. I need something that goes into my body, something calming and relaxing, a release. I liked that sand tray work I was doing in Santa Fe, and I wouldn't mind something else even more body-oriented. Anyway, I filled out the form – that was last Friday. They say they usually get back in four business days, which I guess would be today. But not yet.

Outside there’s that brown van starting with a lot of noise. I haven't seen it starting before, just when it's parked. There’s no time limit on street parking in this part of Capitol Hill, so sometimes it stays in the same spot for a while. That's when I notice it. Does it have a dear antler on the front? Something misogynist on the side. Anyway, a guy with long hair, driving, and I can still smell the fumes.

But wait – more thoughts, since this is kind of helping to clear my brain. Or, maybe not to clear it, but something calming, a little bit invigorating, now I notice a headache, sinuses, plus a headache around the whole back of my head up to my temples, is that the same headache or two different headaches connecting? Next week I have an appointment with the doctor to talk about the test for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, that's the test where I had to stop taking probiotics for a month, then eat nothing but white rice for a whole day, and then the next day do this series of breath tests before eating. Several different doctors recommended the task, but it took me a while to actually do it. And guess what? The test results came back: inconclusive.

Literally, that's what it says. What is the point of a test if it comes back saying inconclusive? They want me to take it again, but I've already started probiotics again, I mean this was a month ago, and I've been taking probiotics for a month. They think the test didn't work because I didn't do it in the lab, but I think the test didn't work because the test doesn't work. Or, didn't work. That much we know. I can't take it in the lab, because I would have to go in fasting, and get there by 8:30 at the latest, which means I would have to ruin my night of sleep, which always wrecks me, no matter what, all for a test that's going to come back saying inconclusive.

I do feel a bit inconclusive about this writing. I feel great about the process, actually, so glad I sat down to start something that didn't feel as overwhelming as the rest. I feel inconclusive about where to stop: now? Now? Do I have anything else to say?

Oh — I sent my mother the manuscript for The End of San Francisco. I don't usually do that, but I did start to wonder what she might think about the beginning and the end. The beginning is visiting my father before he died. The end is childhood. Those are the parts where she plays a large role, those are stressful parts in the way that they were and are stressful in my life. Stressful is an incredible understatement.

But anyway, she didn't have much to say about the beginning, her power struggle with me over whether I would even be able to have any time alone with my father, whether I would be able to say what I wanted. She just said: it was hard to read. But I did read it.

But then, all these funny comments about drugs, she didn't realize I did all those drugs and how did I get off drugs? And, strangely, I hadn’t thought of the book as telling her something about me. I don't know why I didn't think that, but I didn't. Maybe because I was thinking about how she would react to the parts about her, which are critical, intense, maybe overwhelming, suffocating even.

She did say something about how I've had all these intense emotional relationships, which was kind of interesting. A lot of intimacy with these friends, really strong emotional bonds — that's what she said. I wrote down a few other things that she said, things I wanted to remember, but now I can't find that piece of paper. It's somewhere on my kitchen table/desk — oh, here it is, just when I thought I wasn't going to find it.

She said: it feels like I'm right there with you, like I'm not looking at it from a distance — almost like a movie but it's not fantasy it's real. Like I'm there with you in those bars and it’s so vibrant. That actually felt validating — my mother doesn't read much, or actually she read two newspapers every day, the New York Times and the Washington Post, but she doesn't read many books. She has trouble paying attention, that's what she says. Maybe I have a disability – but, it's too late to do anything about it. That's what she said last time.

But actually, the way she read it, her experience of it is exactly what I want people to feel, that you're closer because of the way it's written without a bridge between reader and writing, everything moves so fast and you either enter or you do not. A lot of people will not. And yes, my mother also fixates on ridiculous things like my use of the word fag — really, you haven't gotten used to that yet? Or, how I got off drugs, whatever that means. How come she didn't know, she wonders.

Why would you know?

She asks some questions and I can't tell if she registers the answers necessarily. Like, what was the question that made me respond that it was never safe in our house? I can't remember. But then, after we got off the phone, I realized, when she was talking about drugs, laughing at a part where I talk about the Xanax samples I got from my father's medicine cabinet, and she said something about how she never realized how accessible all those drugs were. And then, she asked me how I got off drugs.

My mother doesn't really know anything about doing drugs. She does know about Xanax, drugs like that, but coke or ecstasy are pot or crystal or whatever — she doesn't know anything about those drugs. I realize I want to explain what drugs did for me. I needed them to get away. I needed them because I never felt safety. I needed them because I wanted to escape. I never felt safety, because she never provided that. I didn't even know what that would mean. Sometimes I'm still not sure. I used to feel that safety with Chris. One day I will feel it again.

My mother wanted to know how I got off drugs. I thought that was a silly phrase — getting off drugs. What would I say? How I stopped doing drugs. I told her: willpower. But was it hard, she asked. It felt silly talking about something so small in comparison to the legacy of her abuse, not that it wasn't hard to stop doing drugs, but that was something I succeeded at. I have not succeeded at healing from the legacy of her abuse, unfortunately. I told her it was hard not to want drugs anymore, that was the hardest part.

Now I don't want drugs, or I rarely do, anyway. I guess it's been 11 1/2 years since I've done drugs, actually. But sometimes, it just feels like I don't do drugs, because I already feel so awful, and I know that I wouldn't be able to handle feeling worse. I guess that's still willpower. Often I wonder: where would I be without will? No, I don't wonder that. I wonder what it would be like to be able to do things without relying entirely on will. Do you know what I mean? Like, I could just have a good idea, and then do it, and it would be fun, relaxing, energizing. Not the way it always is: I have a good idea, and then I have no energy, and then I have to do everything possible to get energy anyway, and then once I do something, something satisfying, usually I crash, and feel worse, and then, well, back to the same thing. Over and over. No matter how much I change in my life, no matter how much I cut out, no matter how much I make things as calm and quiet and intimate as possible.

Let's study the air: it's soft, cool. Let's study the sky: blue, bluer than I would have expected. Let's study the trees, the smaller ones blowing more than the taller ones, except up top. The grasses blowing the most. Look at this tree, leaves with dead flowers flying around almost in a circle: I hope they don't chop down a tree to build some awful new building. They almost surely will. At some point I thought that the fabric softener smell was actually the smell of this tree, maybe a lilac. Maybe it was.

            But wait: where is that final sentence, that final sentence on this scrap of paper, did I lose it? That final sentence from my mother — oh, here it is: I'm a little bit afraid of reading it because it's painful.

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