What is too personal for a blog?
Menstrual cramps. Blow jobs. The cost of your new piece of jewelry. Things you stole. The rape of someone close to you - it isn't nice to point the finger and name the victim. I've learned that rape is a crime you are supposed to sweep under the rug. The box name of the hair dye you dye your hair with. The size of your underwear. Some of the last words of your grandmother.
And maybe, a visit from God?
It is hard to describe such a thing. It didn't happen to me. It happened to my husband. The day after he had to deal with me being suicidal.
It was night. Before my husband goes to sleep. So it was dark in the room. I was snuggled against his side in bed and describing to him what I had written that day in my blog. The cat was lying on his stomach. I was telling him about my therapist's attempts to get me to believe that my life has purpose and meaning. My husband never reads my blog, but I keep him pretty informed. Its nice, because I can edit information, play loose with the truth, but usually, I always come clean.
I don't remember the sequence of events, and my husband says that his memory is pretty vague too. But I do remember my husband saying that he didn't care what my therapist said, for me to hush, that the Goddess had a message for me. That she wanted me to know that my life had purpose and meaning. And my husband began to cry. He kept saying that it felt so wonderful, but that if any more of the spirit entered him he would have a heart attack. And he said that I must know that the Goddess felt strongly about her prophesy, or else, why would she pay such an intense visit?
I know that he is used to his Goddess visiting him a little during ritual, but this clearly was something else. He was being visited powerfully and completely. The next day he would say that now he understands what early Christians say when they felt like when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. But that night, everything was a bit confused, and my husband was worried about the most ordinary thing in the midst of his religious experience; how would he get to bed and to sleep because he had to get up early in the morning and go to work? I told him to roll over and I would scratch his back. That usually relaxes him. And thankfully, swiftly, his Goddess released him and let him get to sleep.
I was left awake wondering what had just happened. A message intended for me? That my life definitely had meaning and purpose? And euphoria accompanying the message? Now I had someone I could pester any time, and ask for comfort, not because it was his opinion, but because it was the opinion of his God handed down to him. I could ask, "And what did she say to you?" And receive that same answer again and again. "Your life has meaning and purpose". Not because my husband loves me. Not because my therapist thinks that meaning and purpose is your birthright, given to you like you are given a kidney or liver,- so solid, so real and so unarguable. Now my meaning and purpose was wrapped up in a mystery. The mystery of a religious experience.
There was some doubt about the timing. The day after I was suicidal. Couldn't the experience have unhinged my husband? Was I just witnessing the expression of unconscious forces, bidden forth, by stress and trauma? Such an idea would meet with resistance from my husband. He is a true believer. And what he got was a visit. There was an I/Thou relationship going on. He received a message, he doesn't believe he concocted one.
It is always an adventure being his wife. One day, while we were on the street, and a couple passed us holding hands, a middle aged man and woman. I thought, "they look like tourists. I like her short, blond hair, it looks bleached. And wouldn't it be nice to be as thin as her in my middle age?" But my husband said out loud, "she is dying and she knows it. But she seems happy." He deduced all this from her aura, which he said was thready and see-through transparent, almost, as it was ready to disappear from this life with her.
I must admit that in the days following my husband's telling me that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesizing about my meaning and purpose, I had a little more respect for him. Not that I don't always respect him, it was just that I had to wonder about him as a phenomena, a force in this world unlike any other. He is goofy. He is enthusiastic. He is creative. He is a humble worker-bee in his job. And I am sometimes grumpy and annoyed at him, but I usually do manage to hold my tongue, because really I know, he doesn't deserve any ill will from me. But for several days I was in addition to being his true-blue companion, somewhat amazed by him. He had an authentic moment of wonder and awe that I witnessed. Through it all he seemed blessedly human. Small in form being eclipsed by forces that were beyond him, and just trying, to hang on. And that silly worry on the heels of something important - "I must sleep because I have to get up early in the morning". What happened to him never happens to me. I don't get the same kind of visits and inside information. I certainly don't see people's auras. God whispers to me, he never shouts.
The worry that dodged me all last week, and partly encouraged my suicidal mood, has been taken care of. The bill for over one thousand dollars from my medication nurse has been reduced to $186.40, something that we can more easily manage. It took a phone call from my therapist asking what was going on before I got the phone call from the company's receptionist telling me that the bill had been adjusted. My medication nurse agreed to wipe out everything except from the date January 2009 forward. This manages to avoid debt for the hour long "therapy" sessions I had with her, which I would have never devised, if I had known that insurance and medicare wouldn't be enough to cover them. Now I am seeing my medication nurse once every three months, the leanest time I have ever scheduled a visit. But I seem to be pretty solid, with of course, the occasional suicidal fantasy tripping me up. But really, what heals me the most is seeing my therapist every Friday. What we discuss is usually central to my existence. He says I keep him on his toes, he has to be in top shape with me. And rather than being depressed by the challenge, I think it invigorates him.
When my morning is free, and my mind is sound, I manage to write for about an hour on my book. I'm still at the point where the story is in rough draft form. I'm writing with a ball point pen in a note book. When I come to the end of this chapter (a day in the life of my main character) I'll put her to sleep, with what final thoughts I do not know, and reach back with my notebook as reference, to the point where my computer draft ended. I ended on my computer with a group therapy session. In the notebook is everything that happens next. I counted it and as of today I have 73 notebook handwritten pages. This might condense when it is typed. It will certainly be altered as it is typed, a second draft.
The labor of a first, notebook draft and a second computer written draft are very different. In the notebook usually I do not know where I am going. Once the trail has been laid, the work changes. On the computer I'll usually write for several hours. It seems so much harder when everything is new. When everything is retold I'm more artistic, even, more visionary. It isn't true that what is fresh is the best. I do get the feeling that so much is being written, that eventually, things must be severely chopped. But I don't mind overwriting, because I hope that when all is distilled, every note will be new and different, as if my writing were notes in a song that surprised you with every turn.
I recently watched, cringing, the movie "The Color Purple". I rented it from the library. And what made me cringe was the brutality in the movie. Sure, it has a happy ending. I guess that is what saves the movie. Because there are some really dark themes going on. Incest. Beatings. Racism. Insanity. So I watched the movie, at times wondering whether I could bear it any more, and I thought to myself, "since I am writing a dark book, with the central theme of mental illness and suicide, this movie gives me hope. Darkness can be celebrated. But note to myself, you better pour on the honey at the end if you are going to hit the reader over the head with despair."
Some mentally ill bloggers get awards. "Mental health" award. "I choose life" award. I'm never going to win one of those awards. I'm not happy enough. I'm not positive enough. My brother and sister used to read my blog, but no longer. Just last week my therapist said that he is going to stop reading my blog because "it sounds like you are talking to your friend and I'm over hearing the conversation". It feels like I failed, losing his readership. But I know, he isn't getting paid to read my blog. It was something he was doing on his own time, and who am I to say what he should be doing on his own time? I made a joke once with my husband. While he was driving the car I said, nonchalantly, "My therapist called me today." He in fact had, to change the time of our meeting because he had a doctor's appointment. But what I told my husband was "He said he called just because he was thinking of me." There was several beats of silence in the car. Then my husband said, like a slow talking cowboy, "Now that's a scary thought." I started laughing and confessed that what I said wasn't true. But you know what they say about jokes. You sometimes joke about what you wish was true.
I read blogs of other mentally ill persons and I am instructed. I am instructed in attitude, in forms of insanity, and in recovery propaganda. Everything I read influences me. I must follow at least seven blogs by mentally ill persons who all have a form of schizophrenia. I don't understand why I write about feeling suicidal and suddenly I loose the readership of my therapist. I feel as low as someone who has described their rape. I feel like by detailing the dark, I've done something that trespassed against social graces. I feel like a fumbling idiot for writing what was true.
My muse holds a sword. And she cuts all who follow her.
I've been suicidal once, twice, maybe a hundred times. And given my illness, I'll be suicidal again. I don't like the pain. But doing ordinary things, having ordinary pressures and stresses causes me to get sick. It happens again and again because I go out into the world again and again. Even when I don't go out into the world, it comes into my home to meet me, and there is no escape.
But at this particular moment, I'm at peace. I've worked on my book today (an hour of writing) and I've finished a blog post today, and the weather looks promising for a long walk this evening. To my right, on the floor the dog is curled asleep. To my left, on the bed, the cat is curled asleep. And in my chest, the illness is curled asleep. All is well.