To the one who has no idea

It’s 2 am, and I am wide awake. The start of this vacation has not been as restful and peaceful as I had hoped. Unfortunately, I think I know why. I like you, and you have no idea.

Not sure how much longer I can hear about your eharmony questions, or your questions about what to wear on your next date. Yes, part of me loves that you ask me, but another part of me does not like the fact that there is even a need for the conversation. Though it was amusing to get an anxious text from you with a picture of a couple of sets of your shoes asking for help. Even more amusing is that I was the inspiration behind this statement in your eharmony profile, “If you say that a food is the worst thing you’ve ever eaten, I will want to try it.” I think it’s crazy and funny that you put such a thing in your profile. And, yes, I maintain the particular diner on Broadway that I pointed out to you is among the worst. Or course, now you want to eat there. Why do I want to go there with you?

Nearly everyday you and I communicate with each other. Do you realize that when you seriously start dating someone our relationship cannot continue on the level that it is? I find it hard to believe that whomever you date would find it acceptable for you to have such a close friendship with me. You can call it fellowship, or whatever you want to label our relationship, but, mark my words, this will end as soon as you start seriously dating someone.

And with that, I cherish the early morning breakfasts with you at the diner. You are the only one for whom I would wake up early for a 7:30 a.m. breakfast on the weekend. I rather like that we practically have the place to ourselves at that early hour. I never like when life gets in the way, and we have to skip a weekend. Remember, these breakfasts with me will end when you find the one because she will expect that you will be dining with her, instead of me, and rightly so.

You spent Father’s day with me, always a hard day. Thank you for that.

I like that when I told you I have DID you said to me, “I only know what Hollywood has shown … or is it like Hollywood?” The sweet sincerity of the question made me laugh when you asked.

You’ve seen me as another alter, and you didn’t freak out or run away. In fact, you seemed to process it as not a big deal. Most importantly, you’ve remained my friend.

I like that we can laugh about my DID. While hiking you posed the possibility of going off the trails. I think you said this in jest, though it is hard to know with you. I put the kibosh on that idea, and said I had never done that. You turned to me, and with a sparkle in your eye, you said, “YOU can never say that.” I laughed right out loud. I never dreamt that there would be a day that I would laugh about my DID.

We don’t have a lot in common. In fact, we have quite a few differences. I like Kripalu as much as you like Vegas. You admittedly rarely read for pleasure, and you say you are not a “word person.”

But, I like who you are … the dramatic, kind, funny, loud person that you are through and through.

Though you cannot know how I feel about you. I do not want to face the prospect of not having you as a friend. Your friendship means too much to me. And so, I will continue to try to look unaffected when you talk about your latest date. I will glance at your hands, and try not to think about touching them. There’s a reason we have those awkward moments when it looks like I want to hug you, but don’t.

The preschool room

The preschool room in the church is where we have our Alanon meetings. It’s fitting in a way as my connection to Alanon started at the same age of the children that inhabit this very room during the week. The blue sky paint and rainbows on the wall harken me back to the days where it all began. There are lovely crayon drawings on part of the wall facing me. My favorite is one of a personified sun that seems to grin at me from the top of the wall.

Many times I can set the reminders in that room aside, and focus on the here and now. Friday night was a notable exception. Our meeting chairperson read a piece about being grateful for the alcoholic and their alcoholism. I felt myself stiffen. I never imagined being grateful for my father’s alcoholism. I can hardly fathom it. My brain shuts down at the thought of it. I don’t know if I can speak. We’re going in round robin order today. The woman beside me is speaking for a long time, the long wait makes me crazy out of my mind because it is an all out effort to stay present, stay here. I stare at the clock: 7:59, 8:01, 8:04, 8:06 … good god, the wait is excruciating. I start tapping my chest as Doc has taught me when I get triggered. Finally, blessedly, she is done. I’m up.

“Hi, I’m Beatriz. Today’s topic – Grateful for the alcoholic Wow. This hits home for me. No question that I will always be grateful for my father, and what he gave me: a love for¬†writing, literature, poetry, human rights … But I don’t know that I will ever be grateful for the alcoholism, and everything that came with it -his disappearance from my life- and everything that came as a result of that disappearance, and all the crime and so much more … Maybe there could be a day when I’m grateful for all that. It certainly would be a more peaceful place to be, and maybe it’s a sign of how much more work I have to do, and how young I am in this process … But no, I am not grateful for the alcoholism. I am grateful for all of you, and for this meeting. I look forward to it every Friday. Thanks for listening.”

We continued around the rest of the room with shares until the end of the meeting. The business meeting was up next with a short five minute break in between.

And that’s when I heard it.

I heard the voice of the old man, the old man with the bright green shirt and a constant cough. I heard his voice go up, and I dismissed it. I thought I was mistaken because this man had kindly passed me a box of tissues at my first meeting when I cried about my father. But then there it was again, unmistakably his loud voice … he was mad about something we wrote in our introduction to the meeting. I can’t make out what he’s saying because I have to run. I have to go. He starts shouting. It’s no longer just a loud voice. My mind starts to get scrambled, and I can’t think, can’t think straight, just have to go, go for the door. I need the door. But I feel heavy. The desire to run is not in concert with the rest of my heavy feeling body. I must be walking oddly. I just keep my eye on the door and will myself towards it. I manage to feel the door against my hands, and I push it open, and when I do so I just fall out with the door and stagger onto the sidewalk. I feel myself fall onto the concrete curb for a respite from my heavy feeling body.

I hear a voice call out to me, “Beatriz, are you ok? Do you need help?” Jack is part of our group, and he sounds so far away, like he’s speaking to me from the end of a long tunnel. I strain to hear him, part of me knows he must be near me though it sounds as if he is long out of my reach. I will later learn that he was sitting right beside me on the curb.

I try to stay there, stay there, right there. I do not want to fly away and disappear. I need to stay. I try to focus on Jack’s voice. I don’t know what he’s saying to me, but it’s a calm voice, and that is good. His voice is calm like the light breeze on the lake as you sit on your hammock. I try to focus on that. I think I can come back. He asks me something, I don’t recall what he asked, but I can tell I’m slipping away because my own voice comes out in a hoarse whisper. I can tell it’s barely even my own voice. I am barely present.

But then I hear him again, the old man with the bright green shirt and constant cough who once passed me tissues. He is now outside, and he is still yelling. Is he coming closer? I have to go. I cannot be here. Jack tries to keep me from running. “He’s not going to hurt you. He’s leaving. You’re safe. You’re safe here.”

And there’s the change. I feel the moment when I’m no longer in the driver’s seat. I’m now in the passenger seat of my own life, my own interactions with people I barely know.

I feel the little girl voice, and the little girl fear take over all of me. “I sorry. I so sorry. I not supposed to be here. I sorry I scared.”

“Where’s Beatriz?”

“She not here. She be gone. Please don’t call no police.”

“Why is that?”

“They not nice. They mean.”

“Is there anyone we can call?”

“Inside.”

“Inside where?”

“They be a man inside. He friends with Beatriz. He know about me.”

“What’s his name?”

“I forgot.”

“Don?”

“No.”

“Ben?”

“Yes! It’s Ben! That’s him!”

“Okay, we’ll get Ben. Do you have a name?”

“Yes. Letty …”

“Hi, Letty. I’m Jack. Can you give me some big belly breathing? You’re safe here.”

“I sorry. I not supposed to be here. Please don’t be mad at Beatriz. It my fault.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. No one is in any trouble. Here’s Ben.”

“Ben! I so sorry. I sorry I got scared in your office when we was at your house. That was me. I sorry. It looked like my old room. That was me, not Beatriz. She tell the truth when she say it was me.”

“It’s okay.”

“Who be here now?”

“Well, there’s me – Jack, Lucy and Tina, all people who care about you.”

Just like that, I felt myself come back. I looked at Jack, and gave a yelp, a Beatriz yelp, and buried my face in my cardigan that somehow came off me though I don’t recall how it came to be in my hands.

Everyone introduces themselves to me as it is the first time I’ve met them. Perhaps they are not sure who they’re speaking with now …

Awkward hugs for everyone, awkwardness is from me, not them.

We go back inside the school to finish closing up. Lucy takes out a chair and implores me to sit while everyone else closes up shop. She asks for my phone number with her pen poised over her little memo pad that she pulls out of her Betty Boop purse. I give it to her. She tells me she’ll call me. I take her number as well.

Ben remembers I told him that talking about nonsense helps me. He offers to take random things out of my purse as conversation pieces. We all laugh, and head out the door.

Don sees a lightning bug. (Where did Don come from? Was he here the entire time?) He points it out to us. I’ve never seen them aside from pictures. Then he shows us a whole group of them further down from where we stand. It all feels surreal, and oddly special.

Then it’s just me and Ben. He asks me if I can drive. I say that I am not sure. Bugs are biting him like he’s Thanksgiving dinner, though they have no interest in me. “Let’s continue this conversation from our cars,” he says as he slaps bugs off his legs.

We get in our cars, and continue talking via cell phone. I try to talk about something else, and I mention the house he just bought. He says, “Yes, it’s in a neighborhood near you so we can go to your favorite diner more often.” My heart jumps when he says this. I start to cry because if he sees himself having breakfast with me at my favorite diner then he just might still be my friend.

The Floats

The Floats are plaguing me again, that state where my feet feel leaded down walking/trudging through clouds. Today I was at my favorite tea shop, and I made myself sit right in the middle of the shop where the owners could see me because I could feel myself start to disappear, float away. I thought if I put myself in front of people I would, hopefully, be less likely to space out like a zombie with a thousand yard stare. But, still, there I was, floating away, and I would say to myself, “Stay. Stay here. Don’t go.” Sometimes it would work. Other times I just let myself space out.

Earlier in the week, I had an upsetting interaction with someone. I can’t write about the interaction as I’m afraid to get triggered again. But it catapulted me into another time and place with my mother. I was frightened and my entire body shook violently. My head felt like it had been kicked in, and my chest had the sensation that it was closing in on me. I hate that I have moments like this. I look like a freak, and feel like a freak when moments like this happen.

Is this how it will always be for me? Is the idea of recovery just that … an idea, a concept, a fantasy?

Sometimes I feel so strong, and able, and with it. Times like that, I am actually proud of myself. Then there are times like this, where I wonder what the hell I am trying to do with my life. I wonder why I keep trying in the face of all the difficulties.

I have no real answers to those questions, except perhaps I don’t want to miss out if there is a chance to recover.

I’m sitting in that tea shop spaced out, and this elderly woman with a reddish brown cardigan asks me why I’m not sitting in my usual spot. I almost don’t hear her because I’m spaced out. I’m annoyed at first that she is talking to me. She tells me that some people are in her usual spot, the blue chairs (she loves the blue chairs), and she does not like having to sit elsewhere. Somehow I find my voice, and say, “Oh, yes, I’m a creature of habit too. But I decided to mix it up today and sit out here.” And then we start talking about movies, and the fact that we both love the independent theatre in town. She also reads movie reviews before viewing to make sure the movie is not too upsetting or violent. The movie, Blue Jasmine, made us both teary. She asks me to google author Lynda La Plante for her on my phone. We both love police procedurals on tv. And then the place closes down for the night. I pay for my stuff, and leave. I hear her tell the owners, “I sure liked talking to that girl.” I felt the same way talking to her. And that’s why I keep trying, for those small moments that would otherwise not be possible if I gave up. I wish I could have thanked her for helping me fend off The Floats.