I’ve been looking out my window on the second floor of the retirement community before sundown. I’ve been seeing all the bugs and things one sees flying around next to a building at the end of summer, doing their own thing, like the kind of self-possessed person I’m learning to be.
There was a girl I knew once, whom my mother characterized as being self-possessed. It was a comment that made me wonder what my mother meant, until one day I observed that person long enough to know that she kept to herself, and did her own thing without assuming on others.
I could never help but wonder whether those bugs were lightening bugs or hornets. I could never figure out what they were, because my windows are sealed, and I can’t tell through the glass. I found I have enough of an idea of what happened back in the early 1980’s, I think I can tell the tale.
Please forgive me if I don’t mention bug again. There’s hardly anymore point to make about them. Once upon a time, I would have gotten myself bitten, or stung by such critters, but by this time I have a nice place to live, where all my nice furniture belongs to me.
It’s an awful lot more comfortable that any insane asylum.
An asylum is not such a bad place to be, over all. The word means refuge or safe place. I was looking for some kind of safe place, to be safe for a lifetime, yet all I ever found were all these awful places that were various forms of nightmares to live in.
There were only those places where there were a lot of people, who were ruthless and spiteful, people who could not be trusted to be kind. Everywhere I went, there were those who would do me wrong, in one way or another.
There were people who could not be the slightest bit kindhearted or caring about anything. All that crap they’d talked about in Sunday School, that my mother could never figure out what I was screaming in Sunday School about, was all that a bitter-sweet party line.
They were keeping the children who go to Sunday School busy enough, so they wouldn’t notice that this whole bloody world is a horrible place, where there are only horrible people, capable of horrible things. I know of another place, but I haven’t been able to get there yet.
My own father was the most horrible person of the bunch, capable of the worst atrocities. I was four years old. He was a monster. He was the pastor of the hypocrites Methodist church, of all things, and no one who knew him, cared enough about the situation to do anything about him.
Why were people trusting that big ope?
I went to asylums plenty of times, I figure I must know a lot about them. When I finally committed myself to one, with two doctor’s certificates against my sanity, I figured I was finally taking on a full life sentence in an insane asylum.
I would be taken care of for the remainder of my natural lifetime, from the age of 30. I figured it was a done deal then. I forgot the two day rooms were always full of people and very noisy places to go. It was one of the few things I was reminded of right away.
I found out that the remainder of a natural lifetime, starting at the age of 30, is a long time for a young person to make plans for. It was going to be tough to stay in that one place for a whole lifetime, with the kind of runaway attitude I had all my life.
I got just so much Television, I wanted out, but the doctor wasn’t letting me go. I asked and asked, but she always said no. She had me coming to her office to talk twice a week, and I blabbed all sorts of things at her in those sessions.
What I didn’t know it for a long time, was that the same doctor was studying my charts from my lifetime career in state and private insane asylums, in addition to listening to me talk on a regular basis. That doctor did her best to help me, and she succeeded.
One day I said that I had done all the talking so far. It had come down to being her turn to talk. What kind of problems did I have, and what did she intend to do about them. The one that surprised me was that I have a problem with alcohol, and she wanted me to go to the Program.
I still can’t believe what I said to that doctor. There I was with a record a mile high, and no chance of ever seeing the light of day again, and all I could think of saying was, “I’m not That bad, Doctor.” Well, how bad did I think I had to get, to need the program?
I also found out that there are a lot of things I don’t like about living in asylums, which I had to learn to put up with, regardless of how unpleasant those things were. The first thing was my isolation from the rest of the world. The doctor was refusing to let me walk out the door, at all.
When the doctor finally let me go out to lunch with my mother, I’d been on the inside so long I started crying, just to be out of doors. I almost couldn’t take it, to be outside and walking around in the world. I ate a delicious steak at a nice restaurant, fighting back tears the whole time.
After awhile, my girlfriend could not come in to visit me. A TV set is not a good enough substitute for the remainder of the entire world. I became despondent there for awhile, only trying to hide, without success, from the TV and the radio, which played in both day rooms all day long.
I could not get a moment’s peace in order to be the slightest bit creative.
From day one I was looking for a way out of that asylum. I wanted to run. Where I wanted to go, I could not have said. It was like jumping the fence at Springfield, to go nowhere in particular. I should have figured I’d feel like that pretty quick, but I wasn’t thinking.
I was only playing the, What Are You Supposed To Do When You Wake Up In Hell, game.
I thought I had been judged and sentenced to Hell, and that nothing I could ever do would make any difference for me. When we finally moved into our new quarters, there was a baby grand piano in the day room.
The next thing I noticed was that, as a result of talking to the doctor about some of the women, who were inpatients at the hospital, many of them I talked about to the doctor were transferred into my ward. I asked the doctor about it once, and she said she just wondered what would happen.
The doctor was stocking the pond, to tell you the truth.
My libido was alive and well, even though I had considered myself out of the marriage game since I was 21 years old. Now, I was past 30, and the doctor had my girlfriend, whom I’d met on an earlier ward, transferred in to my long term ward with me.
She used to dance for me in the darkness of the back day room in the early morning. She used to say she was dancing a naked as she could, as she rolled around on the floor of the back day room, doing some sort of modern dance.
She was a good dancer.
She was enough of a girlfriend to me, you might say the woman was my only close experience to being a wife experience in my lifetime. I had all kinds of emotions about that woman over the years I knew her. She knew how to overwhelm me, that’s certain.
What I found myself doing was letting her go whenever she wanted to go, because I eventually understood that I couldn’t keep her. She had been trying to mother a schizophrenic baby, and I wasn’t interested in participating in that.
Her mother used to tell me I’d never really know her daughter. Turns out that I wonder if the woman ever let anyone know her daughter very well. That girl, with all her mental health problems, was ultimately unattainable.
She could not be grasped by anyone, in any significant way. I’ve often wondered whether she carried off my unborn child with her when she walked away from me for the final time. I’m certain I have no idea whether she ever got pregnant or not, except for that one daughter she already had.
Well, I figured out how to get sober and stay sober when I was under those two doctor’s certificates. It was the only thing that ever set me free again. I began to understand that what God wants from a man is to submit his free will to Him. Ask Him for help when one needed help.
I tried it, and it worked. That was novel for me. I tried something that someone else had suggested I try it, and it worked. Amazing. I had an epiphany about as life altering as George Bailey went through in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.
I’ve been sober ever since. They even discharged me into a psych halfway house, and I even stayed completely sober throughout the time I was there. There were some of the bad boys from the institutions there who kept wanting me to get drunk, but I stuck to my guns.
I stayed sober, and then stayed sober some more. I heard a lot from my Higher Power over the years, and did my best to remain faithful to what He’s asked me to do. I don’t drink alcohol, and I don’t put mind altering substances in my body. That still works, too.
The other thing I found in sobriety is that if I live in some kind of group home, I get along pretty good. The one place my sister in law found for me to live in has a nice, spacious place for me to call home, with over a hundred other seniors in the other rooms.
We all get together for meals, too. Then, I seek refuge in my nice, private place, where I can write on my notebook to my heart’s content. Some people try to advocate that I practice guitar, but I find that maneuver to be a very uncomfortable prospect altogether.
I’ve found that the Program still works: I’m still sober, after almost thirty years of sobriety. I learned a lot of tricks, attending all those meetings at least once a day, until I finally got enough of going to those meetings.
There are those who can’t get honest with God, so they can’t stay sober. I feel fortunate that I never had that problem. I just went right ahead and got honest with God, and at least the whole internet, or at least all the people who go to FB and Google+.
I’ve found the Promises came true for even a guy like me, who could never follow instructions. I find myself wondering at the Power of an Entity who can take the taste for alcohol and other mind altering chemicals right out of my thinking, altogether, so I don’t crave any of it anymore.
Not even a cigarette or a strong cup of coffee.
I still don’t know what kind of bugs those are?
But I keep saying it: I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!