When I read
The falling flowerI saw drift back to the branchWas a butterfly.-- Babette Deutsch
and cried, I thought I was being sensitive. And when I read thirty other poems and cried each time, I again thought it sensitivity.
Then when I cried for the jilted mop on the Swiffer commercial, I knew I was sad.
I did a walk-in appointment at the counselor today. I couldn't stand the elevator so I climbed up the twelve flights of stairs, the first five of which were in squares and stopped at a wide view of the city over a graveled roof. I used to suck down that view from whichever building would give it to me, the city cross-section with the lake off to the right. This time it made me dizzy, sick to be so high, but I denied it and stayed and stared and admired the fat, fat, fat spider lazy in his web of dead midges.
Then I climbed up the rest of the way, these stairs internal and tight, windowless, and I knew that all buildings will fall and trap this inside. Three out of four floors told me NO ENTRY and I thought it'd be cruel but regular not to let the elevator-averse in through the counselor's door.
But the 12th-floor door let me in, and I looked like an emergency, or so I figure because the receptionist didn't seem to hear me say "if possible, or I can come back some other day." Panting up the stairs plus panic -- some other day would be fine -- but if another day, I might never come back into this building.
I went to the waiting room and filled out the form as the building gave way to itself again and again, as concrete choked our throats from different angles, or maybe I'd black out before the crush. Back again, waiting for the counselor, I ignored a half-done jigsaw puzzle in favor of Taylor Swift -- our certain culture, planned colors, nothing collapses under such architecture -- told you she wasn't an American Idol.
I saw the same counselor I saw on Friday, an intern, and told her I hadn't told her the whole truth last time. Friday was a good day, and today was not. Today I'd woken up talking to myself and laughing -- but then leaving the house was a crisis and this tower they'd insisted on being in was an accordion. I hung onto her features, her shoulders, trying to be a productive emergency, to communicate as the floor gave way with each new huff of my lungs.
If I curled up and shook and fought, they'd take care of me. They'd still be in a ridged building and if mine collapsed they'd drag me out, lay me out, they had to have Haldol around, had to have somewhere to put, something to do with a crushed girl.
But I hooked her and held her thin eyes until she shut off the light and talked me to where I relax, the side of a lake at sunset, shrouded in an inlet, pebbly beach and fallen flowers---
i will wade out
till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
Will i complete the mystery
of my flesh
I will rise
After a thousand years
And set my teeth in the silver of the moon-- e. e. cummings
And then we talked to the root of the problem, past the vulvodynia to being cut off from what had always been piping me alive. And being cut off, the vulvodynia had only ever worsened it. It hadn't been the trigger, though it became the main obstruction. Consumption.
When I was in college, falling down every day, that's how I died -- not all of a sudden but over time. What I felt today was usual back then, was more days than every other. Young bright self, mopey high schooler, my intensity had always felt like luck, like insight, a distilling dew, but in college it overboiled, perverted itself, turned from a power to a possession. And as I fell over and over, as I couldn't keep up, every hope an onus, possession withered to lameness, intrinsic, chosen.
When my anxiety was at its widest, I didn't hallucinate -- no, that would be too intriguing, let alone diagnosable. Instead my senses jolted up and saw things of no interest, scurries of light, babble without instruction, falling floors if I closed my eyes so I held onto my bedframe and stared. Everyone else can do these things I've laid out for me to do -- the schedule, the work, the aspiration. They've all acceded to the demands, adult-like. My resistance is dissent, my dissent a tantrum. I am lazy; I avoid; I'll never be anything I admire.
My integrity, that thing that'd kept my back straight under adolescent pressure, it seeped out and asserted itself where it didn't apply. Failing to achieve as my aptitude said I could became a moral offense, slashing the face of society.
The zillion faces I drew
stopped their line, the writing and the music were burdens of ability. Everything was a burden on my ability, and everything was an imperfect use of time.
And that's why I'm so sad.
Vulvodynia is sad. It's all sorts of abandonment. But the ultimate insanity is losing yourself, however it happens. Vulvodynia can do it. Mental illness can do it. Crises, trauma, external strife. It's all the same. If you have yourself, you stay sane. If you don't, you don't.
Myself. She's the one who did those drawings, who hunkered down mindlessly to do them. Who could hunker down mindlessly, who had that unawareness of self, went even under bent back of sadness to the things that would vent her. It's not a fault of not venting, all these afflictions of mine -- rather, they are what stopped me up, cut me off from my happinesses, loaded me with obligation, felled me -- they took me from myself, the saddest thing, the insanest thing, and I am devastated that I've been away this long.
I'm dropping the class I was taking. I told the intern I'd prefer her as a counselor if possible. She's still an intern but that was probably the most useful therapy session I've ever had. I am so hard on myself and she wouldn't allow it, she sniffed out the heart and ripped it up, she didn't give up, she liked the blood and knew how to make it bleed. Meds are good and I'll probably be back on them, but we don't have the most successful history. They aren't magic pills, as anyone knows.
I hugged her and ran back down the stairs just before 4, just before I couldn't be parked in my space anymore. I ran, my little piggy heels down to their metal studs, out around the concrete campus and down the final steps -- across the one-way street to the cop tucking a ticket under my windshield wiper. "I was just crying in therapy, thanks," I said -- no point in arguing with her, but maybe some random shaming? Ticket time: 4:01 PM.