Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Cager

I’ve made amazing progress!
I realize stress is my enemy right now, so I am dedicated to only doing that which brings me joy, talking as little as possible and treating myself with … respect.
Treating myself with “respect” is a revolutionary concept.
Dr. Shoja believes my problem is due to the (unfortunate) things that happened to me in my past. I totally believe her. My friend Beth always thought so, and my friend Bruce opened the same door when he sent me an article about emotions causing voice problems in an actor. I get it.
She also wants me to accept that the things that happened to me were not my fault. Yesterday, I wondered how I was going to do that. I am 68 years old. I have felt like a piece of shit for 68 years. I have felt I deserved everything that happened to me because I am shit.
I couldn’t imagine how to not feel like that piece of shit.
This is the truest way I can say this: I am afraid that my mother put me in a “cage.” We had a crib with a hardboard floor that folded in half. And I think that mother would put me in it but with the floor on top that felt like a cage.
I don’t want to be a boy whose mother put him in a “cage.” I don’t want to be a boy with a mother who put him in a cage. Is it a real memory? Is it imagined? Does not wanting to be that boy prevent me from accepting it? Why would I be writing about this if it wasn’t true? If it is true, and I accept it, will I get better?
I’m scared it is true.
It could be true. She did, after all, tell lies to my father so he’d beat a sensitive boy (me) and say terrible things.
The huge radio in our living room also had bars. It had beautiful mahogany bars protecting the speaker and I definitely remember desperately wanting to get through those bars, into the speaker and out onto Mockingbird Hill (a song I loved) that I knew was Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
I can’t figure out how to not feel like a piece of shit, but I can treat myself with respect. I can learn to like myself. My friends help and so did caring for Rita.
Rita: The woman I hated, my mother’s nurse who had an affair with my father, I would kill to have back. I miss her like water.
And Connie: The woman who adopted me. I have cried for her all my life. I have missed her, and tried to love her my whole life. I have spent 68 years protecting her reputation— excusing her behavior, forgiving her and blaming not he, but her disappointments and illness.
The cage is going to save me. I can believe that she should not have done that. I can understand why being in it bothered me. I can use this (maybe) memory to say to myself: She was wrong to do that. Not me. She was shit; not me.
Why is it so hard to say that she was shit and so easy to say that I am?
I feel progress. I believe this “rejiggering” of my perception of my past will fix me. This is the kind of work I can do. I can do no other work and I have Dr. Shoja’s hand to hold. I literally did that yesterday. I reached for her at one point. And I cried during the massage.

I am hugely optimistic about my future‑—a new future supported by a rejiggered past.

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