PRISON, MORGUE, OR AN ASYLUM
I parked at a park and called my best friend Mark. I asked him to tell me about my past life with him. Mark, tell me about camp, because I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember when we met or what we did at camp. Tell me it was a good time, tell me we had fun, tell me I had fun.
My life was overwhelming and I was not sure I would make it alone. I had suicidal thoughts. I had pictured stealing a motorcycle and driving off the Grand Canyon. Now it seems too Thelma and Louise, but at the time, it was very viable.
By all rights, you should be in a prison, morgue or an asylum. This is what Mark told me. He was trying to convince me that I am good man. That the things that have happened to me should be too unbearable to overcome. Being abandoned, ignored, abused, all of the atrocities. But because of my resilience, I unexplainably did.
I had never thought I would go to a counselor. I always thought it was bullshit and only the weak go to therapy. It’s not manly at all. But I went back to the ASU office and asked what was that counselor’s name? The education office set it up for me. ASU provided therapy for the students at no cost. I could not have gone any other way. I needed it.
My therapist’s was named Joe. He was a tall, white man with a very soft voice. I had little respect for him because I was scared of him and I had not even gotten to know him. He sat me down and gave me all of the rules and regulations. Anything you say can be subpoenaed by a judge and if I feel that you are in danger or someone else is in danger because of you, I will have to call the police. It sounded like, No hitting below the belt and keep your mouth piece in at all times. They were meaningless words. I thought this might be a mistake. The first session was mainly about the cheating and separation. Me blubbering about trying to confess my sins. The second was about the pressures of school. Did I really need to go to a therapist to talk about the pressures of school, I could have gotten a bartender to help me with that. I kept it sterile. I still had no respect for this man. What the fuck does this white boy know. In the middle of the third session, he stopped me and said,
When are you going to stop lying to me?
You have not told me the truth yet in any of our sessions.
Busted! He was right. I thought I was smarter and more cunning than him. Then I smiled and started to laugh uncontrollably. I kept on saying, “Thank you,” to him. Because he released me. My laugh was my way of masking my tears. He started to laugh. I felt such a relief. Someone could finally see me and call me out on it.
Why would I lie to Joel? What benefit would I get? There is nothing at stake. I volunteered to go to him. I wanted him to listen to me. I should have felt safe, but I was not even safe from myself. I could not bear the truths about my life. I could not allow myself to imagine the real shit that made me.
I had been lying for such a long time and nobody had ever said shit. Joel was the first to bring me to the realization of why I lied and who taught me how to lie. Your mother told you that if you tell the truth, someone will get hurt or killed. I took a chance and I never lied to him again.
Our sessions changed. I started telling him about my rape, all the women I had been with, the drugs and alcohol. I asked him if I was a sex addict (Susan thought I was and screamed it at me) and he did not think so. I finally felt like I could tell the truth and nobody would die.
He also asked me what women were to me. I had no idea, which was a revelation in itself.
And he left me with a prophesy that if I did not address my rape issue, I would become a serial monogamist and I would lose my children. Whoa, you have gone too far mother fucker! This counselor is crazy, I thought. There is nothing in the world that I love more than my children. There is no way I am not going to love my children enough to lose them.
He told me it was inevitable. If I cannot get close to anybody, I will not be able to get close to my children.
Fuck you, counselor!
My relationship with my kids is Gibraltar. Our family is united and loves each other. I was Alex’s 6th grade teacher and she would always say that the kids loved me. Alex was so proud. How could I be closer to a kid? What was he telling me? I let my kids love me. They let me love them.
A survivor does not know how much anyone is his or hers. How close can we get to anyone. Even our children. I have no idea how I feel about relationships. We have no gauge on even what close means. What the does it mean? Who teaches it to you? Your parents? Your priest? Your teacher? “Ok, kids, today’s lesson is on getting close. Take out your pencils.” I am very familiar with getting far away from people. I have lived there, far away from loved ones, for 40 years. I know the neighborhood. You detach from everything and travel to places in your mind that nobody can follow. Nobody can get “close” to you. It’s safe. It’s easy. So is this what the counselor was talking about? Abandonment.
A prison, morgue, or asylum? Are these the places I am living that I cannot take my children? I have entered all of them throughout my life.
There were times in my life that I died, absolutely. I smiled with the best of them. Put up the greatest facade. I made sure everyone saw a happy Charlie. I use the Charlie name because that was the person who did not identify with the real Carlos. Charlie is the fun loving, partying, gregarious man who killed Carlos for years. He is still trying.
Prison is defined as a building or vessel in which people are legally held as a punishment for crimes they have committed or while awaiting trial. When I was raped, I was imprisoned. My uncle was not held in punishment, I am. There are no physical scars on my body from the rape. I am a healthy man with some battle scars only from athletics, but is my mind is imprisoned. My therapist would tell me when I was feeling the emotional tsunami rise in me, to identify it as the sad 7 year-old boy who was inside me. The first time he said that I thought to myself, I have a seven year-old inside me? How? Why did I not know that? Maybe because he was well-imprisoned in me. Survivors are imprisoned in our own insecurities and mistrust. Nobody loves us, not even us. We throw chance to the wind or we try to control life so much so it cannot possibly fail us. In relationships we are handcuffed to the idea that it will not succeed. We can never be happy. We get into relationships that are loveless and feel the need of company or we find someone that we truly love and execute it, like an inmate on death row, because we do not deserve true happiness. We are emotionally condemned.
Being a survivor magnifies every emotion. Love, hate, hurt. When you are in the surviver club, everything is at stake. Your children, job, family, health, everything. You overcompensate. You love with a passion as though it is the last day on earth and you want to cram a lifetime of love into your loved ones.
Sadness turns into rage. Telling someone you are sad is weak. It does nothing for your manhood. The saying, Oh, he will get over it, is something that I cannot fathom. I know better because I have had enough arguments and fights that I get over them every time, but when I am in it it feels like it will last forever. Emotions will never go away, other than happiness. Happiness has a very short lifespan. I know that will go away quickly. Magnified, everything is magnified.
So how do I handle my own craziness? I can’t think about it too much. When I think about it, I either get depressed or go hulk-like, punching holes in walls, tearing off the shirt that I am wearing, breaking glasses on walls. I want to scream. My mind is constantly creating illusions, dark visions that are occurring in my life or will occur. My mind races and is never still. Songs are constantly playing, dark songs that I believe the universe has put there to tell me something important or to give me some guidance. Tell me that doesn’t sound crazy. I can’t be still. I’m afraid of stilling my mind because it might give my mind enough time to think about what has happened to me. That I got raped. That everyone leaves me in the end. That I am broken and will never survive it. My mind is my worst enemy. It is constantly telling me I am not good enough. I am in bed, making love, but my mind is not in my bed. I start thinking, did she fuck him like this? Did she have this many orgasms with him? It drives me mad. I question everyone’s intent because my mind will tell me everyone intends to fuck me up. It is insane. I can drive myself mad with my insecurities because insecurities have no limits. I can apply my insecurities to every little part of my life. My mind has turned into something I cannot control. And when I think I have reeled it in, something else cuts the line and it gets away. Any time I feel sane, something happens and sets my mind reeling again. I am a forty-seven year-old man and at times I still feel like that 7 year old kid.
So am I crazy? Fuck, yeah! and I don’t have to go to the asylum, I bring it with me everywhere I go.