Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moments of Clarity Part Two

My work with Elizabeth Delabarre lead me to spend more time meditating, chanting, journaling. I reflected on humanity, my humanity, ego, self worth, selflessness. I examined the nature of happiness and the depth of misery. I considered judgment, perception, validation. I weighed success and failure. I asked myself, again and again, why am I so angry? Elizabeth had asked me that. I was finding answers to the question – and they were unbecoming. That is, I thought they were unbecoming. I felt that I was above such emotions. I thought I was too noble to feel angry because of the way people treated me. I had to admit, once and for all, that I was angry about my book. I was angry that it took ten years and seventy thousand dollars of our own money to make and that nobody bought it. I was angry that it didn’t change my life the way I thought it would and angry that its’ failure cost me any opportunities at publishing another. I was angry that my career as a photographer was over and that, at 46, I had no vocation or dreams. Aside from the usual career woes that are no more or less valid than the career woes that every artist has, though, I looked back on four decades of being mistreated. I was angry at the relatives I have had who were mean to me and at the school children who shaped my early years by calling me names like gook, jap, chink, slope, sissy, fag, queer, faggot… I was angry at the years I spent in the bottom of a bottle because I had been taught to hate myself by the treatment heaped upon me by a malicious aunt, an impatient grandmother, a violent grandfather, a homophobic father, many of my schoolmates and every gay man who openly hates other gay men because they are either not Caucasian, not buff, not tall, not butch, not ..well, not anything. I was angry because of every time somebody ignored me, interrupted me, failed to acknowledge me, hurt me, mistreated me or, in any way, made me feel invisible. I was angry that my husband’s parents were taken away from him; angry that he gave up his career as an actor to support me while I did my book and for what? Now we both had no career, not one, between us. I was angry about the people who have mistreated him, even though there is no nicer, no better, no kinder man in the world. I thought about all these things and hated it. I hated being human. Have for a long time. I have hated having emotions. I have tried to make myself over as some implacable being who feels nothing. I have managed to train myself not to cry unless I feel safe in doing so. In my home. With one of four, maybe five, people. I have spent nearly ten years making myself into someone who cannot be hurt.

That’s a lot of work, a lot of anger, a lot of negativity to carry around.

It’s exhausting.

I remembered Elizabeth telling me that maybe I should meditate with that five year old Stephen and find out what it is that he needs from the forty six year old Stephen, what kind of validation and recognition I can give him that will make him need it from outside sources, less. I told her the story about that day, seven years ago, when I was walking up Fifth Avenue and how I felt baby Stephen let go of my right hand, where I have (for years) felt his hand, and turn to walk away from me. I stopped and looked back at him; he turned around and returned to me, placing his hand in mine and, together, we continued our walk toward home. I told Elizabeth that I had told my mother, at the time, and she had replied “You called him back – you were almost free of each other but you called him back.”

Clearly baby Stephen and I still have some work to do.

Last January something strange happened to me. I got my feelings hurt by two people that I love as deeply as you can love another person. They love me. They love me but they hurt me. I had thought (or at least hoped) that the days of being hurt by a loved one were behind me – and I’m not talking about being hurt because somebody forgot your birthday or didn’t make it to your party or didn’t call you back for two weeks; I mean I got my feelings hurt as badly as you can get your feelings hurt. When it happened, I completely shut down. In fact, I disappeared. There was a person living in my house and going about my day and making it to the gym and working out with Hunter and making dinner for Pat… only that person wasn’t me. For four days, I was missing. Near the end of the fourth day, Pat sat down on the sofa with my body and began talking to it. The person living in my body answered but the answers weren’t coming from me. After an hour or two, Pat goaded the person into a fight and the fight culminated with Pat shoving my body and saying “YOU let him OUT”; to which the body replied “Let me pass or I will make sure you never see him again.” Pat pushed and pushed and fought until I started crying. Once the tears came, so did I.. Whoever the autopilot was that was running my body and my life, he went away and I was back.

Pat and I sat on the sofa for a long time, talking about this bizarre new development. Only it wasn’t new to Pat. It turns out that this had happened before- at least twice – in the last 24 years, the first time being some time in the mid to late 80s. Pat told me this person appears when I am no longer able to participate; but it takes great devastation for him to appear; and Pat knows how to spot him and how to make him go away and how to bring me back.

That week I flew straight to Doctor Bowler and told him.

I’m the fucking United States of fucking Tara.

No you’re not, says Doctor Bowler. You had a disassociative moment. It happens when people suffer a trauma. They can’t cope so they withdraw into the deepest place in their minds and go on autopilot. Almost everyone that this happens to comes out of it, once they have learned to cope with the situation. You don’t have MPD. You’re going to be fine.

Thank God. I have enough difficulty with my real personality. I don’t need any others. I put the experience and my worries over MPD behind me and got on with my life, joking with Pat, from time to time, about the alter ego I had begun to call Charles. It bothered him and he wished he hadn’t told me about having noticed Charles twenty years ago – but the truth is that we were both very relieved that he appeared to be gone for good.

Recently, though, I suffered a series of setbacks. Those things that happen in life that amount to little more than kicking a dog when he’s down. Little crimes and injustices that I perceived had been committed against Pat and against myself; and I was over them – so I began, once more, to close down and to build up walls, all on my own. No alternate personality was needed to assist me in the alienation of the people around me. This weary and broken heart must be protected from further damage.

The anger had returned, and in full force. That anger, mixed with recrimination, mistrust and hatred was driving me through life; an unfortunate ride for your basic, garden variety Pollyana to be taking.


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