Sunday, October 22, 2017

paper piles

I'm deep cleaning my old room again and I've gotten to the hardest part -- the papers. Years of artifacts have collected into bags and baskets and piles around the room. I try to sort through them - I tell myself to keep it simple this time - but before I know it, the piles are multiplying (as Brett would say).

1) Trash, 2) Recycling (for the curb), 3 Recycling (for at-home paper making), 4) notes and drawings from friends, 5) personal writing, 6) receipts/ephemera, 7) programs and brochures, 8) stickers, 9) collage supplies, 10) fortune cookie fortunes, 11) WILAC movie detritis, 12) Thigns That Might Look Cool Photocopied, and 13) Things I've Had So Long I Should Probably Keep Them.

I debate whether to have a new pile dedicated specifically to Mental Health. The piles will become files. I'm simply cataloging. I tell myself this to release the lump i my throat from old love notes. I carefully unfold each scrap, read each receipt looking for a way to weigh these papers against the one where a man who assaulted me had written his phone number (how I had forgotten), and a pink pamphlet from 2006 - Understanding Your Anxiety - in which some forgotten counselor had circled "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." Before my mind can spiral into the HOW? and ALREADY? and WHO DID THIS? I laugh and lay it down, there's another mystery waiting its turn.

Thousands of papers. Hundreds of scraps. They begged me for a home.

For years, for miles, I've carried them. It's not easy to let go.

Moshe C----- I had forgotten you entirely.

It's comforting to remember that forgetting is possible. Maybe not the best revenge, but still it's a healing thought.

I had forgotten you until I read your name on the page, some venue, some date, your number.

I would never have remembered you if I hadn't read your name on this page. It's hard to write this and I'm trying to find rhymes in it as a way to dissociate.

It doesn't hurt as much if you make it a game.
Now the paper's in the trash and I'll never think of you again.

The moment is hard enough. The writing is harder. Or I tell myself that as an excuse to have a cup of wine.

I'm going to start drinking less - I'm already working on it - but specifically to stop using alcohol as a coping mechanism. I say it will help me process (I think sometimes it does) but really I'm just cloudy and lost.

Mama asks and I have to tell her, yes I finally got diagnosed at the Athena Project. Han said she'd write it up for me, and I can pick it up next week, but basically they think I have PTSD, general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, and some alcohol dependence. Mama says, "It all makes sense to me ecept the PTSD. Is that from the breakup?" I know she doesn't mean to cut me but she does. "Well no it's from earlier stuff in that relationship mostly..." I'm flailing. "Mostly? What else do they think it's from?" I can't place her tone exactly, but it feels interrogative and intense, like I will never have the right answer. "Stuff from a long time ago. I dont' really want to talk about it." She lets it go. Hours later I'm wondering if I missed an opportunity to connect - I've never understood why we are so distant from each other, why it's so hard for me to be open and vulnerable with her. (It's hard for me to be vulnerable at all, in a real way, in person.)

I wonder why she's never told me about her own trauma, why I only know about it in such vague terms from an unsent letter, and finally got more information from Morgan last year. Is it that she thinks she's told me already? She does that with lots of other things. Or is she purposefully not telling me? Or is she just not ready or available to talk about it with me? Was she trying to get to that place by talking today? If that's the case I don't understand why I feel so judged, misunderstood, scrutinized for my feelings, my diagnosis, my experience. Or is that just how all mamas are?

She told me recently that my first grade teacher told ehr she was "too intense" (is this right? or was there another descriptor?) and that's why I was afraid to talk in class. She said she cried so much and felt so guilty.
When I was in second grade she started having panic attacks.

I'm sorry, Mama. If I had been better they wouldn't have blamed you and you might not have felt so bad about yourself. (I know you feel bad and you hide it, like me.) But it can't have been your fault. As early as preschool I was judged, laughed at, and ostracized. I wish I could remember why, but I know it wasn't because of you.

I wish I could remember why you had to give me my first safe word (but I already wrote about that.)

Why sometimes do I have to have my hand held, when I can't stand it when people don't fill in context clues and ask constant questions? I guess I think save them! There are bigger questions! Like how do I fix this hole in my ceiling?