Saturday, August 3, 2019

Love Letter to the Snake Handler (Posthumous)

It’s a bit after eleven, love.  Autumn, 2018, a time and place I couldn’t imagine just a few years ago.  In 2015, it would be about the right time for you to phone me.  It was always around this time, and we never talked deep into the night.  Just an hour or so.  Recent gossip and debacles of the psychiatric survivor human rights movement. Or something about one of the splinter groups.  Peer supporters.  Even fucking worse.  Who pissed me off?  You would ask me, was there just one of them?  Should you bring a shovel?  Or was it a whole contingent of them?  Would we be needing the backhoe?  Or, what about stringing one of them up like a piƱata and busting their guts open with a garden spade?  You’d say anything to make me smile.  

It’s 11:05, and the first time I have let your ghost sit with me in the time we used to share since you died.  

I’m so calm and so goddamn fucking sad.

Most of us from this little-known movement have almost nothing.  Just a few folks have most of the existing resources, and, a few times, a couple of us might have tried to have more than enough.  I was, just recently, a (small, as it turns out) part of the total of what another of us wanted, “a part of me I didn’t even know I needed,” was how she put it.  I knew when she said this that I was only a tiny sliver her total pie and I didn’t really matter much in the sum.  She might have broken my heart a bit.  

And, you’re gone. I don’t have anyone to tell.  I don’t delude myself that your “ghost” is really here with me.  

Your ghost is only my remembering.  I am on survivor time.  

My throat is constantly swollen and sore.  I think of all the years and things I smoked.  I wake several times a night, aware that I was not breathing for a significant time before waking.  Panicked. They say I have atrial fibrillation. Sometimes my ankles won’t hold me and other times my hands won’t type in the familiar rhythm of creation I love just a bit more than you.  

And, I don’t delude myself that your ghost is anything other than me, thinking about you.  Nor do I hold hope to see you in the next dimension. When it’s over, I think, it’s over. All the mystical bullshit I used to talk echoes in my head and sounds infantile.  

In my head, I tell you about this woman who wanted me, not too long ago.  Of course, as you would know, I did not, in any way, misrepresent myself to her.  And, I get lonely.  This beautiful, brilliant woman came to me and sort of tied up my essence with the unnecessary borderlines and boundaries she had extracted from the fraying edges of herself where she had cut her psychiatric label loose.  She liked my mind, so she naturally wanted go into it deeply.  Soon enough, we were saying, “I love you,” over a distance of 700 miles in some kind of polygamous context I have yet to fully understand.  

And then came the “part of me” part.  And next, the news that she wasn’t sure what to “do with us”.  It seems she had been “sort of winging it to see where I fit”. 

Her words.

The woman, I’m telling you, my love, has everything.  She is well-thought-of in the survivor community and has paid work there (which most of us do not).  Her husband is sweet and compliant and able to afford the kinds of commercial things that can cushion a fall from the fragile, web-like bridges of our stability in ways that our poverty never could.  

It wasn’t enough for her. She wanted me too, or at least the idea of me.  

We said, “I love you.”

There’s a fable about a turtle who picked up a poisonous snake on the bank of a river and thought that for sure, if he carried her across, she would not harm him.  Why was he surprised when she bit him in the middle of the river and they both drowned?  Some folks, you know, they want to have everything, and they also want to pick up the cobra that everyone already knows is deadly and press their lips to the back of her dry neck.  I’m inclined to let them.  I might not even feel like I have a choice.  If someone already has everything, and they need to feel like they are special enough for that as well, maybe the only one who is special enough, I can’t even imagine how I might say, “no.”  

But, I don’t misrepresent anything.  As I have said, you know this.  

Tonight, I tell your ghost about how I bit her and drowned us both.  

You would ask me, “How was the sex?”  I would tell you there wasn’t any.  

You would sigh and ask me what was the point of any of it again?

This is how I imagine you into being tonight, after the beggars have come and gone and taken all of my sweets. 

I tell you that sometimes, we are in the deepest denial because we are trying to do the right thing. 

It is almost Samhain.

The veil is thin.

I don’t tell you how your wife once told me you had a tiny cock.  While you were alive, I did not think my relationship with you was like that. I do think about how it was an unnecessary thing for her to say.  

Instead, I tell you, “Pleasure is not happiness.”

You think I am profound and then your ghost is gone again.  I go to bed alone and have erotic, twisted fantasies about anyone who is not you. You and I, my love, my comrade, my brother, are not like that.

Almost Samhain.

You were the only true snake handler, and you have gone.

Very few people have ever heard of the Mad Movement. Those who have don’t really even agree that it should be called the Mad Movement.  The Survivor Movement.  The Ex-patient movement.  Consumer movement.  Peer movement.  Some versions are more or less offensive to more or less “mental patients” and “allies” than others.  All are equally obscure.  Let’s be clear from the beginning, though.  The movement is not “mad” and has not been for some time.  Bourgeoisie pseudo-activists like Robert Whitaker have been instrumental in opening every last door and window to the  clinical and credentialed fucks who have downgraded the diagnosis. It is mildly dysthymic at best.  Jesus fuck.  

“The movement”.  I’ve seen it.  

I could have never believed it if I hadn’t. 

I guess I would be hard-pressed to say I didn’t have a good time.  The movement, like all movement, contains everything and nothing.  It has given me love and death and purpose and shame and grief. It’s certainly given me hatred generously.  It’s 2018 and I’m finally a writer.  We arrive at our destinations via narrow paths going up or down impossibly high walls of stone and ice.  We come to know things that are true:

Not committing suicide won’t keep you from dying.

You can start to understand how to live your life in a way that feels ok.  You’ll still die.

Your body of significant work may be recognized and awarded.  Guess.  What.  Still. Happens.

Deny the personhood of an individual or group who offends you.  Yes. Eventually.  You will motherfucking die, bitch.

Memento fucking mori.

And then what?  


It was 2014.  I was staying in a cheap motel in Southwest Ohio as the guest of an expat attorney whose son had become a political prisoner of the psychiatric system following a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea to a minor assault charge.  I didn’t have any real place to go and was just as happy to be there as anywhere. There was screaming all night, and plenty of drugs.  You were in the room next to me.  We referred to each other as best friends, or comrades, or brother/sister.  Any implication that our relationship was anything other was a non-starter.  

A couple of years later, a serial killer used the Chillicothe Inn as ground-zero for murdering sex workers.  You died.  But, in 2014, I could not have been more content anywhere.

I explained to the-woman-who-has-everything-and-wanted-me-too that I let myself get close to death.  I let it in the door, and gave it a coffee, and shit, I probably loaded a fat bowl and put out a few lines, too.  She asked me how that was working out for me and didn’t seem to think I was brave for doing it, or even anything really special as a human being.  She seemed, in fact, a little freaked out, like I had done something so foolhardy and potentially chronic, or at least long-standing in the nature of its excruciating possibility that she could hardly believe it.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t spoken to that many people about it.  It occurred to me that she might be the only one to whom I had described it who had really thought out a salient response.


It 2016 and perhaps an hour since you have died.  It is toward lunch time when your best man friend returns from the hospice with your wife.  The best man friend is not one of my friends.  He is a clinician I have tolerated warily, for the sake of you, my love, and, I think, the tolerance has been mutual and also somewhat fragile.  He and I had a theoretical demilitarized zone between the desert and the only river within a thousand miles.  He hugs me; I don’t want him to.  I don’t need his stamp of approval on how I have handled myself.  

I’m fucking fierce and I have been for months while your big heart slowed and slowed, inflicting you with pain and anxiety and terror.  The internet, of course, describes how a person dies with congestive heart failure. Those months, I was too afraid to look it up.  But I stayed close to you.  Now, I know.

Your best man friend does not stay.  He goes back to his Very Important Job.  He might have stayed at your house for lunch, though I am not sure who might have served him. Really, he might have served me, given that his Very Important Job Description involves something exactly like that.  

It is almost the precise middle of 2016; I have filled up the kitchen with fresh things from the farmer’s market, hoping for you to come home and eat, hoping for your wife to come out of her bedroom and eat with you, or minimally, for the “homeless mental patient” from New York City you have taken in to, perhaps, demonstrate some volition and make a salad or, more unlikely, a pot of soup.  

It’s starting to rain as he drives away.  The “mental patient” is asking me to help find her shoes.  Your wife, who, in my fierceness, I have tried to also love, has wandered into the front yard and is heading toward the street.  The over-sized gray sweater I gave her yesterday to cover the gashes she made in her arms is getting damp.  I can almost feel it, hot and scratchy against her wounds. She tells me she has a headache. I offer her two Valium as a cure.

“Are these headache pills?” she asks.

I assure her they are.  I offer her my hand and walk her back into the house.  She is play-acting at “dissociative identity disorder” again.  This is Trisha.  She’s three. She has me fooled, still. Everyone else, still, I think.

She sleeps.  I suggest cooking to the “mental patient”.  She does not know how to cook.  It is not astounding.

That night, in bed with your wife, under an enormous quilt that smells of line drying, I write your obituary. We were there, in her bed, to write it together.  She has fallen asleep before adding anything.  I cannot begin to imagine 2018.  I’m still trying to love her.  I wonder if everything might be alright again someday.  I write.  My words become something beyond me, as they always do.  I wasn’t sure if it would happen.  It happens anyway.

In the morning, your wife offers the obituary to the friend with the Very Important Mental Health Job.  I hadn’t realized it was being submitted for editorial approval until a bit later.  “Steve read the obituary,” she said.  “He doesn’t want to change a thing.  I have never known him not to make changes to something like that before. He’s really impressed.”  

I hadn’t realized it needed his invalidation.  His stamp of approval looks just like the small, white, square discount stickers plastered over the original prices on his cheap suits, leaving a “1” just barely poking out from under the sticky left side.  $59.95.  Discount. Dis.  Count.  Cunt. 

His middling, white male sticker near my gorgeous sorcery of words is unnecessary and offensive in every way. 

I give your wife the bottle of Valium and tell her to keep it in case she has another headache.

It’s Kennebunkport, a month and a day later.  July 16 might be the only real beach day of the year in Maine.  Southern Maine.  I wanted to be much farther North,  in Bar Harbor or  even past, but my reserves of energy are finished.  I feel like I have been driving for a month, which is just a few miles from the literal truth.  At least there is a beach day. 

The sand is solid, but it isn’t really dry.  I have laid out one of the over-sized Turkish towels that is roughly the size of a double bed sheet.  It is already soaked through.  Wet--not just damp.  I don’t care. I’m not fancy.  

I have on a bathing suit top with a long peasant skirt and nothing else.  This skirt was bought in a thrift shop in Washington DC a few years back when I still thought being in places like that mattered.  

My love was alive then.  

You were alive.

Next to me is my favorite lover of the critical New York Jew persuasion.  Uptight, he also spent a long time in Boston.  He is fussing about the wet towel.  I smile and flatter him in some forgettable way and take my hair down. I’m 47 and so fucking full of sex and drugs and brilliance and shattered grief and fast-running blood and the cut flesh belonging to your mental patient wife.  My bikini top isn’t much of a match for my breasts and I am practically topless.  He settles, finally, and lets me convince him to take off his shirt so I can touch his bare chest (in public) even though there are all of five other people on the beach.  He is taller than I, and much thinner.  He wrote most radical anti psychiatry book I have ever read and survived brain electrocution, though he has never directly told me the second thing.  I don’t know for sure, but he might have been overly conscious about his slight upper body.  He turned me on beyond the blue horizon where there is nothing but deep water and Europe.   

Time doesn’t mean a whole lot in Kennebunkport.  

Just behind the beach, there is a crab and lobster shack that has been selling seafood tasting like the ocean from which it immediately came probably since the pre-depression grand hotel days.  Before all those gorgeous places burned just after the big war.  My motel is one of the long white ones with the row of black doors that open to where the cars are parked directly outside.  It was built probably sixty years ago but hasn’t really changed.  Fifty-nine-ninty-five a night, like one of Steve’s suits.  It has a landline.

I am content outside of time, but a bit torn.  Finally, I have no pain anywhere in either my body or other parts of my being.  Yet, I am empty, a living echo chamber on a planet where every form is deaf.  I lie down and put another of the big towels over me.  My lover, next to me, seems to have chilled out a bit, or perhaps he ate some of the candy he found on the my night stand.  He lies behind me and pulls me close, my back to his chest.  He puts his hand inside of my bathing suit and touches my breasts.  

Very bold for him.  I’m honestly impressed.

With minimal encouragement, he goes, actually, further into me.

God, I’m…not really happy…  But something next door to that dimension.  

He presses the tip of the middle finger of his right hand into my cervix and his second knuckle into my g-spot. I’m acutely aware of the ocean’s static. The waves are cerulean and white, with the sky being just a touch lighter.  Chemtrails are also white.  No separation.  The color saturation is very pure, though my eyes are only partially open. Far-northern sunlight is tangible like a warm oil massage.  I move my body slightly, pulling my right leg toward my chest.  Barely.  My lover reads me.  He pushes his finger into me incrementally harder, opening my cunt just exactly the bit more I require.  Deep breath; the air smells close to nothing, almost like outer space, or at least a very high layer of the atmosphere.  It fills up my chest and tears pour out of my eyes.  Tiny, beautiful, ancient waterfalls.  No one, except me, hears the low sound I make as I exhale.  

My love.  

The many smiles you gave me are on my lips.  

The morphine from your final illness is in my brain.  

It was always fucking like this for us.  

It was like this.  

Yes, my love.

It was.      

Friday, April 5, 2019

Recipes from the Loony Bin:  On the Psychiatric Survivor as

the Third Class Citizen and the Addict as the Fourth Class Citizen

This is a piece I have been trying to write for a while. Where to start?  Start, I suppose, where I am with myself, as I would with any of you.  I was watching a video today.  The video was of a person I know.  She was being interviewed about her recovery from substance abuse.  “What did your last day of using look like?”  A typical twelve-step interview, with none of the questions probing anything beyond what could be answered with standard, twelve-step bullshit.  

She, the person I know, prattled on about how dirty she was, and how desperate, and how badly she felt.  So, she asked god for help.  That’s right.  It’s such a fucking surprise.  And, an even bigger surprise that god sent the police.  And, from that point forward “my life got better than I ever thought it could be.”  Deep.

So, where I was with myself today, well, I was wondering when all of this horrible and marvelous stuff happened since the last time she matched me drink for drink and, well, other stuff, too.  It occurred to me that it set a horrible precedent for the “peer” community because she was speaking as a member of same. Destructive.  It was a slick little video that lied as many times as someone waved a dollar bill in front of the liar.  

This video is one of the (smaller) building blocks within that community It is constructing the same hierarchy of disdain that we ought to be dismantling.  She was, essentially, saying, “Listen to me.  Even if I am lying, what I have to teach you can elevate you from your fourth class existence to my third.  You don’t really need to get clean.  You just need to learn what to say.  And not say.” Then, you might qualify for exploitation level work that will allow you, possibly, to someday, own another vehicle. 



I wonder if the sanctimonious mansplainers know

that the memes they display about 

addiction being a disease and 

about addiction not being a disease

kill women like me as dead as breast cancer.

My last “real” job in “the system” was as a drug counselor.  A drug counselor who got to work on a Tall American with a double shot and 2 mg of Ativan.  Always a cocktail at lunch.  Opiate is the lunch of the masses.  Professing, the entire time my glorious recovery from Opiate and Benzo addiction. “I don’t know, Daryl.  I don’t feel so good.  I think I need a meeting.  Maybe a 13th step.”  What male supervisor in his right mind would think to question the integrity and sobriety of a female subordinate when it was presented just like that?  Yeah, I learned a lot as a drug counselor.  One day, I was sent to Columbus for the State Opiate Summit.  I learned how to make a new cocktail:

Scioto County Cocktail

1 part SSRI
1 part Soma
1 part Benzodiazepine

Inhale and chase with peppermint oil

Possibly, it will kill you.  Otherwise, it will send you on your next vacation.  This was, by the way, at a conference that focused largely on medication-assisted treatment modalities as the shining future of substance abuse treatment.  So, you go from seeing a heroin junkie to seeing a methadone junkie.  The are not appreciably different, given that they are the same person and they are still using opiates.  But, what they are is billable into perpetuity.  

So, I ask myself, which system was more worth gaming?  Hers, or mine.  Yeah, she claims sobriety she doesn’t have, and so did I, but I got recipes. 
I don’t wonder if they know

when they pay my professional consultation fees

that my morning minimum includes

an over-the-counter-analgesic

two milligrams of  Ativan

and some kind of SSRI, my preference being to 

chase it with a Tall American double shot

and morning sex.  

The definition of a spiral is that it begins at a certain point and ends, presumably, at a point that is somewhat, or quite, or a lot farther below the point where it began.  By this definition, there is, in fact a high point in the spiral.  The point where I am high.  Still using this definition, we can see that the spiral turns in pulled out circles as it descends, somewhat like the tornado slides we went down as kids.  An addiction spiral.  A shame spiral.  Those who are sharing their wisdom, strength and hope would have us think it is a terrifying ride.  A burning, skin ripping, sub-dimensional ride to the rock bottom that will smash my bones when it collides with me.  Maybe some people feel it that way.  For me, it is really just like the tornado slides.  Mildly frightening, yet not all unpleasant; and, something I am willing to climb up a few steps to do again and again.  Relief is in a bottle.  It’s not a needle anymore, but I still have needles in case I run out of bottles.  It is early September; and, I am scrambling through my drawers for all the bottles I can find.  

Most days, my hands shake by 1.

I’m done counting the milligrams of Ativan and am earnestly

sticking them under my tongue.  One, two,

three or four, depending on how much

I shake.  More analgesics.  Some Benadryl, 

just in case it does something.   If there is Morphine,

I might even feel happy and smile

for our afternoon meeting.  If not then,

half of an Ambien?  Why not?

It is to be taken before bed, which is only

a few hours away.

I rode the high part of the spiral for most of the summer in Washington D.C. and on the East Coast.  Mostly, I was just a little Benzo high, with the hard stuff saved for really special occasions.  Morphine for two days, motionless, on the beach at Kennebunkport, chilly cerulean blue water still in July, wrapped up in an enormous towel with one of the four men of that summer, my favorite, a few hundred yards away being serious, as he is. There was no pain in my brain or my body.  Morphine and my friends don’t really get me high.  They take away my pain in such a way that I lie on the beach in Kennebunkport astounded and speechless at the fact I don’t hurt anywhere for hours at a time, only aware of the soft towel in which I am wrapped and the close-by nature of a man I can truly embrace.

There is really a lot of shit out there about addiction. And most of it is just that—shit. I don’t know what kind of conspiracy or mind control it is a part of; but, it is certainly a part of one of them. Every community has its pariahs. Recently, the government has been trying to combine “mental health” and “substance abuse” under one umbrella.  This idea has trickled its way down to the states and the counties, where there is often just one board for both, depending upon where you live.  People who are differently abled cognitively still get their own board in most counties. That is because their Medicaid waiver is expanded to include all kinds of expensive services that numerous predatory agencies pay the most disenfranchised of low end care workers starvation wages to provide.  It is not unusual, though, for many individuals who are differently abled cognitively to receive services from both boards.  It is quite common, in fact, for an individual with an identified “intellectual/developmental disability” to be given one or more psychiatric labels in order for their services to be simplified even more by the additions of a cocktail of powerful tranquilizers known in the field as “behavioral control medications”.  

Some days, I overmedicate and accidentally sleep away

four or five hours of the afternoon

pretending I am busily working away on your “project”

in my mercifully over-air-conditioned and anonymous

hotel room.

The accidental over-medication is worse

if I have recently offended someone I respect, 

or been blown off by someone with whom I really ache to connect.   

I still hear voices, you know.  You might like to pretend that I am better.  You don’t know how right you are.  I never have any way of knowing whose voice is going to shake loose or what it is going to say.  And, any significant event with an emotional component, positive or negative, can knock any random one out of the rafters where my best ideas build their nests and hatch their Easter eggs.  Only overmedication and a long siesta under a comfortable blanket can keep them in their respective cages.  I still hear voices.  I didn’t know if you knew.

The last hour before cocktails

may be for solitude,

or to find out who is directly upstairs

or a few floors down

and if they want to stay over,

what they are into, chemical-and-bed-wise.

My over apped phone is on speaker.

My voice is the soundtrack of many someone’s dreams

(so I have been told)

and I confess just enough

to get through cocktails and dinner,

into the night where,

if I am lucky (I am often lucky)

there is no pain in my body or my mind

and my favorite lover is at arm’s length,

would but that it could be endless.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

On Misogyny 4/11/18

I have had a lot of relationships with men who were quite a number of years older than I. This dynamic operated in those relationships. We are not born knowing how these things operate (especially those of us who are also "damaged" in some way). Serving as a placater, a projection object, and a receptacle of abuse may, if fact, be all we have ever known. Sadly, it may feel completely normal. It has taken me many years to understand the function of misogyny in my own life and the way it has shaped my experiences, opportunities, and, often, lack of opportunities. Until I was well into my forties, I might have said that I did not need feminism because my choices were my own and I lived my life according to my own desires. While I consider still that this is true to an extent, as I said, the function of misogyny in my world has become so much more apparent. And example: I was speaking recently to a long-time acquaintance about a man who was my boss in my 20's and 30's. For many years, I had said that this man treated me well and did not treat me badly because I am a woman. What I am able to notice in retrospect, though, is that although he treated me well in interpersonal interactions, he materially advanced the careers of at least three men I can think of who were not half as smart or talented than I. Did he actively sabotage me? Not really. Did he fail to provide me with the support that might have carried me out of roles that increased my socioeconomic servitude and overall distress (which he provided to men who were not as qualified)? Absolutely. A greater level of professional support and socioeconomic independence at that point in my life may have even let me avoid the contact with psychiatry that eventually ruined mostly all of my prospects. So, yeah, it's a long game. And, it is complicated.

Saturday, April 7, 2018


Illusions in Orange Neon:  Snap Chats from the Drug Store

I have written a fair amount about the experience of the woman survivor.  The blunt trauma impact of force, in its afterglow.  The subtle, seductive-wet mouldering and eventual erosion of self esteem that accompanies a few sweaty rounds of coercion.  What interests me most today is neither force nor coercion, but illusion.  Most specifically, the illusion of choice.  The promise that is a sparkling mirage for those who have been lost too long in a chaos that is possibly not even their own.  
Drug Store

I can recognize the complaint ones.
The mental patient women,
in front of me at the drug store,
without enough money to cover their inane purchases
of hair dye and flavored potato chips.

They are overweight,
but not so grossly obese that some asshole
wouldn’t fuck them
just because they can’t fuck anyone else, 
or perhaps because these compliant ones
will take a dick up their ass
or do whatever else they are asked.

Know our people by what they choose and what they carry with them to the counter of the CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid.  Or, perhaps, it is the drug counter at the Stop and Shop or Target, if a trip to a completely freestanding monument to pharmaceutical domination and state mind control is too much of an inconvenience.  There isn’t much to worry about in that respect, though.  If CVS is your favorite, as it used to be mine, you will find at least one in any reasonably sized municipality.  Their numbers have, in fact, almost doubled from 5,474* in 2005 to 9,681* in 2015.  Other people do not like CVS; and, that is okay.  On the other corner, within walking distance, there will almost certainly be another choice.  Walgreen’s?  There were 8046* of them in the US in 2010*.  It is so important to have a choice.  

It is as though they have a giant,
orange neon arrow above their heads.


screams the text above the arrow.

Their hair is cut too short for their large bodies, 
partially shaved and partially spiked up
with more product of the drug store.  

Their pants never fit.
These women are cut in half
where the pants expect their waists to be.

Something is for everyone at the drug store.  There are hundreds of varieties of sugar and carbohydrate nightmares, guaranteed to satiate the late-night-early-morning-mid-morning and just before noon Zyprexa fueled cravings.  Chose a Coke or a Pepsi to make things go down more smoothly.  Substantially different, aren’t they?  Fifty different ways of “family planning”, or perhaps just plain old pregnancy prevention if you are like me and many thousands who have been told we will never be able stop our medication long enough to sustain a pregnancy.  If family planning is forgotten today, there is Plan B for tomorrow.  Growing older and finding it more difficult to be smoothly objectified?  The lubricant comes in liquid and gel forms, right here at the drug store.  Through chemistry, better living.  Behind the miraculous pharmacy counter, at least a thousand ways to die.  Today.  Tomorrow.  At age 30 or 63.  Feeling a little blue on that Zyprexa?  Add Abilify.  Still anxious on Klonopin?  What about a cheap, purple bottle of something pretending to be Merlot?  Right over here.  So many choices.   

They speak too much, 
and too loudly,
attempting to hold a full conversation with the cashier
about WHY they THOUGHT they had enough money
for the hair dye in a brassy cheerful color.
(Their THERAPIST has recommended bright colors)
along with other bits of useless magical thinking.

It is 2016, the middle of July, six years almost to the day since psychiatry killed the brilliant, artistic woman I felt as my child from a dimension only slightly removed from this one.  She was 30.  A junkie, her father, my ex, said.  “Who cares what she overdosed on or why?”  Tore me the fuck apart with his goddamn indifference, and confirmed I was wise to have left him two years earlier.  

It’s a month out from when I held the hand of my best comrade and offered him whatever he could take from my being to make the opening of the channel easier for his passage into the next dimension.  “I don’t want to die,” he said.  I told him I knew, but I would also understand if he changed his mind.  Congestive heart failure, they said.  Years of smoking, they said, heads shaking.  Overweight.  Silently, I filled the blanks.  First generation antipsychotics.  Tricyclics.  Atypical antipsychotics.  SSRI’s.  Benzos.  He said many times, “We die 25 years before our peers who are not psychiatrically involved.”  Two days later, I documented this for him one last time.  Then, I placed a period at the end of his obituary.  Full stop.

I wait
for them to finish
in a line of five, then eight.
The eight cannot see the orange neon sign.
Only I, in my fat, blatant insanity—
a woman with long, greying hair
who speaks infrequently and softly
know it is there.  

They leave, the compliant ones,
with only the flavored chips and pharmaceutical poisons
that can be purchased with welfare.

I wait
and hardly ever speak.
No one would ever guess I have somewhere to be.

It’s still July and it finally rains—torrents.  Even the chilly Northeast is as lush as the tropics, and oppressively hot.  I watch the rain blur the hanging greenery of the branches outside the window and absently take in the too-loud motor of the window air conditioner that has been installed through a hole cut just for that purpose in the back, outside wall of this cheap motel room.  I chose the man next to me for his brain, his cock and his politics, not necessarily in that order.  I am not ashamed of my thick, naked waist as he puts his hands there.  I want his cock in my ass and tell him as much, happy, max-chilled and even smiling with the lines on my face softened in a haze of the Ativan that will facilitate my multiple orgasms directly.  I don’t know if this man will keep my psyche safe, but he respects my freedom and will continue to do so throughout infinity.  I don’t know if my heart is safe with him, but I can, without fear, tell him the truth about exactly what I would do with a locked building full of shrinks, all the gasoline my heart desired, and a beautiful, sterling silver cigarette lighter etched with some exotic, foreign word for liberation.  In this moment, I have no fear; only deep, delicious peace.  

He pulls the clip out of my hair and it falls everywhere as my energy rises toward him, more intense and insane in each moment, proportionate to rage and frustration that flowed before through my bondage.  No one is looking for me.  My treatment team dissolved eight or ten years ago.  There is no therapist, not even me, to dissect the next two hours of my life into five or ten bad, terrible, regrettable choices.  

Forced treatment is violence
Coercion is violence.
The illusion of choice is violence. 

I am as free as most of us get.

I can see the the orange neon motel sign through the rain and steam outside of the dirty window pane rather indistinctly.  It says there is a vacancy.  I move in for a deep kiss with my lover,  betting the vacancies are far too few for those who substantially need them.

*quantities of CVS Caremark and Walgreen’s stores retrieved from on July 24, 2016

©2016 @MildlyDysthymic

Letter to Man-Without-Love-or-Compassion

I might as well start this essay like I start all of the others and acknowledge that the details of this story are receding into dissociation, a bit like your hairline.  I know you happened to me a little after I turned thirty.  I may have been thirty-one or two.  It was the year when I was almost thin enough.  I only ate yogurts for lunch over several months; and, I may have been under 160 pounds.  I felt I was still at the large end of normal, but small enough not to attract derision wherever I went as a “fatty” or a “hog” or “Piglet” or whatever bacon analogy the patriarchy might randomly assign.  The Black men I worked with at the community social services agency, always a bit more forward than the Caucasian ones, only told me that year that they liked thick women.  I had colleagues who were a bit larger to whom they said they liked big women.  Any you, last man standing, were charmed enough by my intellect and my eagerness to please you that you overlooked what you considered to be my aesthetic flaws.

I remember how the sun came in and warmed you bed that day in July when you pulled of my plain, white, panties, size large, out from under my unremarkable denim skirt, size sixteen.  I wanted your fingers inside of me.  Two of them.  I came and then I sucked your cock.  I remember, very well, when you took off my panties, how grateful I was that I had lost the weight.  Everything from that point forward feels like it could have happened in a casino.  It was all about numbers and odds.

I remember the first time you ever told me you felt cheated.  By me, of course.  It wasn’t about my weight that time.  It was, I think, my “mental health”.  Something had happened.  I had gotten upset.  Not self-directed-violent upset.  Not suicidally depressed upset.  It was I drank a bottle of wine and smoked a bowl and wanted to talk to you upset.  You didn’t feel comfortable.  More accurately, I didn’t MAKE you comfortable.  I felt badly; and, I consumed all that wine and pot without even once considering how it might make you feel.  It made you feel cheated.  I remember, I could not believe what I was hearing.  Was this really the man, more than old enough to be my father, who had taken off my panties on a sunny day in July and made me feel calm for, perhaps, the first time ever in my life?  Did he really mean he felt cheated by what I am, as opposed to what he thought I was before?  That couldn’t possibly be.  And, if it was so, who actually SAYS something like that to the person they love?

Thus began a conversation and a narrative that lasted the full ten years of our relationship.  It was always about me, and “how I was doing”.  Was I stable enough for you to love, or were we “just friends” for the week?  Was I swallowing the pills like I was supposed to, or was I having a “relapse”?  Was the abusive cunt-therapist you hand-picked for me pleased with what I said to her, or had I “acted borderline” in my session, causing her to abort it at 30 minutes, while still charging me the full price?  What else was I to expect from her, you demanded.  I wish I could say it was the longest, most tedious conversation of my life.  It was close, though.

I always have said I am not much of a gambler.  That I avoid gambling because I addict to everything else so easily it seems best not to start.  Many more times, I heard you say you felt cheated.  Always in a sickening, sniveling, entitled tone that made me want to break you fucking neck.   And yet, I think I did gamble on you.  And, you cheated so much more than I did, if I ever did at all.
I feel cheated, twenty-three-years-older man.

I was cheated that day in July, before the millennium changed, as the sunlight warmed the smooth linens on your bed and reflected the pale yellow you had painted the walls, a breeze from the open window moving the paper crane you had made and hung from the ceiling.  I was cheated, in one of the best years of my life, of a lover who was literally anything more than a marginally controlled pedophile.  You had no business touching me; and, you knew it.  Your fingers dripped with guilt as you pulled them out of my cunt.  But, you knew the others had, so you could as well.  And, you knew you had done it before.  Somehow, you apparently felt this wasn’t as bad.  

A few years later, you cheated me again.  Yes, man whose oldest daughter is eight years younger than I.  Like you.  I feel cheated.  Entitled to so much more.  Another “relapse”.  More wine, more pot.  The harder stuff wouldn’t come until later.  On the advice of cunt-therapist, you drove me to the hospital and signed me into the psychiatric ward.  Where I would be raped one night by a large, Black man who attended the community center where I worked as a “client”.  Where the night nurse would tell me that injuries like mine were, “What happens when we throw ourselves out of bed because we aren’t getting the drugs we want.”  Where my records were falsified and my future was sealed.  You cheated me out of so much that day.  

I came out of the hospital and went back in.  I don’t know anymore how many times.  I doubled-down on our “relationship”, putting even more into you and your family than I had before in hopes a smidgen of your attention.  Another orgasm on your smooth sheets.  A little more calm.  The conversation about my “wellness” and “recovery” got louder and droned continually.  It took me three years to tell you I had been raped in the hospital that first time, and by whom, because it was an individual known to you.  I told you on a Friday evening.  Your response was, “Oh well, you have had so many cocks inside of you, what is one more?”  I had doubled-down hard and hedged nothing.  I didn’t even challenge you on that statement.  I was sure you would come through with loving kindness and plan some enjoyable distraction for the weekend.  I didn’t hear from you for two weeks.  It was the first time ever that I felt really contaminated by the rape.

I really went for broke in the next two or three years.  I planned and facilitated a move for your oldest daughter.  Baked endless gourmet treats for holiday dinners and helped care for your middle daughter who went in and out of rehab a couple of times before kicking Heroin.  I ferried you to and from the airport for the extended vacations you had been taking since your retirement.  You cheated me, man-with-the-middle-daughter-you-call-only-the-borderline.  Every time you commented on how much weight I had gained.  Every time you offered me a plate of plain greens with sour, red, vinegar.  Every time you told me how under-employed I was, most likely as a result of my weight, but also, certainly, because no one ever would forget those hospitalizations, nor should they, of course.  Let me say it again.  You fucking cheated me.

So many other things happened in those last couple of years, as you might have guessed if you have given it any thought at all, though, knowing you as I do, I do not feel even slightly inclined to believe that you have.  When I took in your middle daughter because you were too abusive for her to stand, of course she told me what you had done to her.  I lost all my credibility as a human being by not believing her and loving you even a few months past that horrible point in time.  It was her, of course, who brought the hard drugs into my life.  Years of your toxicity in my blood had mad my tolerance high and my need for something a bit stronger to blot you out intense.  I don’t think you noticed, no-man’s land, but I am fucking telling you now.

Ten years are gone now since I sat on your porch swing with you and told you I was not, again, going to assume the “just friends” role in your life so that you could, again, date someone you found more interesting while I continued to fill all of the menial, care-taking roles in your life.  “You don’t want to be friends?” You asked, a bit surprised.  

“No.”  I said.  “I am walking away because this is what I want.”  

And, I did.  

These are the first days of 2018 and it is almost eight years since your middle daughter was found, dead, in your house while you were on a trip to Montana with your new wife.  That was also a beautiful day in mid-July.  She was dead from an overdose.  You and your remaining family called it suicide, though I don’t believe that was probably the case.  I cried when I found out I could not view her body because the funeral home had cremated her before I got there.  I sent flowers to her memorial service, but I did not attend and disrupt your new life.  The truth was, I did not want to see the new wife, there in my place.  I did not want to spend another day as one of your discarded women (the cunt-therapist’s term for what I would be if I did not tow the line of “recovery”).  I reached out tentatively to your other daughters to have someone with whom to very occasionally grieve.  The youngest one eventually told me I was attention-seeking and “pretending I was a part of her family.”   Yes, man-who-is-now-near his own death, there is no way in hell they don’t know.

I met you almost twenty years ago and feel cheated to this day.  Yet, I am not the one who was cheated the most.  If you think it was you, man-without-compassion-or-love, you can go fuck yourself.

©2018 MildlyDysthymicInAmerica