The Best Kind Of Rehabilitation
I'll tell you of one of the best, and shortest, relationships I've had. It was platonic, it had to be. Friendship born of mutual terror. It was desperate, but unselfish. I won't say the name, it will be 'She' or ' Her'. It was moments of being at my best in the midst of the worse it's ever been. Maybe it all shone a little brighter in contrast. But if the lustre was exaggerated by the awful circumstances, it just stands out all the more for that.
Hospitals are not romantic. People ought not to feel such forms of affection or human love in mental wards. What I experienced was not romance. It was human beings in flashing moments of joy, where joy was not thought to exist. The events of life happen many ways, the perfect storms are not always destructive ones. Though they are often born of such catastrophes.
Paisley green is not a particularly beautiful color. But it can be calming when you're locked in the drug-addict ward of a mental institution. I was afraid. I was angry. I had devoted myself to destruction, and the destruction had let me down. It had stopped working, and the pain was no longer dulled by the miniature suicide attempts that comprised my daily life. I was still alive, and still hurt, and had nothing left to try.
Rehabilitation, drug and alcohol 'rehab'. Here, I was, in a cliché. But the labels, and stigmas mattered so much less when it was clear that my own life was at stake. Those who laugh in the face of death, often stop laughing when death actually shows it's face. Think about that. I was in a strange and scary place. I myself was strange and scared. It was time to look back over my life, to face what was inside, for better and worse. To know for sure, whether I wanted to live or die. When my choice was made, either way, what would I be willing to do to follow through? How could I even begin.
Hospital staff did their jobs wonderfully. I was medicated and educated and given tasks to aid my broken mind through such new, and swirling territories. I made friends and kept a journal. I snuck coffee in and drank it greedily. I wept alone in my room, and failed to repress outbursts of anger and fear. I learned and I grew and I received a human love from the other patients in that place. A human love I had previously failed to see before. I know now that it had been all around me, always. But my eyes were never open. Strangers, suffering, ruined people, taking time away from their pain to assure me I was a worthy human being. To thank me for the help I'd given them, that I had no idea I'd given.
That was the setting, the living, breathing energy in that place. The deepest of human lows, as the backdrop for phoenix potential. The dead, resurrecting and attempting to soar to brave, elusive heights, from the lowest, darkest places where their lives had crashed completely. I was among them. I still am.
I found a simple joy in that place. Someone who seemed to alleviate the loneliness better than all the other things. A person to talk to, relate with, share, and learn about what had gotten us all there, how we would all get out. Why do strangers meet? How do people who have never known each other, find themselves in the exact same places? Why?
She wore melancholy like an expensive perfume. A lifetime of pressure to meet the expectations of parents, siblings, boyfriends, glamour magazines, and society's standards.
I wore anger like a badge of honour. A lifetime of offenses masquerading as revenge. Against all of it. Everyone. I had been hurt and the world had to pay. But I was weak, and lame, and the concussive waves of my impotent fury reached only as far as the people who loved me and kept me alive. I had tried for so long to bite every finger off of the hand that had fed me.
I was there to learn how disgusted I could become with myself. How awful I was capable of being, how blind to it I had been. And then, to my own surprise, I was to be shown that even I had redemptive qualities. That perhaps even I deserved salvation. That a wild animal could be trained and domesticated and allowed to live among humans.
Nothing about her was particular. Her beauty was as grass growing out between the cracks in concrete. With effort, and struggle it shown through in brief spots. A smile seemed forced and painful, but genuine at the corners. Her eyes would flare in recognition of some emotion being denied. I didn't want to love her forever. I didn't want to lover her romantically. I wanted to be a jester. To achieve the satisfaction one can only get by bringing joy to another. Let the broken fix the broken, and the world will function fine, if not slightly off, the parts will still work, and the quirks will add dimension to the tapestry.
If I could make her laugh, it would make me smile. I think we both needed that. A joke at a funeral can be the funniest one ever told. So I fixed the cable TV in our ward. Because she wanted to watch MTV. I didn't want to watch it, but I could sit in the corner and write, or pretend to watch with her. I could whisper a smart remark in group therapy and make her giggle. Distracting her from her torment, allowed me distraction form mine. That was what made the arrangement so nice. I could offer nothing tangible, or lasting, or substantial. I could but provide a brief reprieve, and in so doing, receive my very own. And that was it. It was that simple. To say to someone else, "You are not alone. We are not alone. The world is as it is. We are where and how we are. Now, why don't we talk about the weather?"
(c)Valentine Media, Sonny Giordano, 2010