Dear Shadow, Alive and Well

“My shadow side, so amplified, keeps coming back dissatisfied—“

It’s starting to be autumn here—creeping, slowly but surely, through the windows and the trees.  Each morning is a little cooler, and it’s almost unnecessary to keep the air on at night.  I’ve picked back up the habit of leaving my car windows open when it’s too cold, blowing the heat on my feet so I don’t freeze up.  I remember starting this, in the almost-autumn of 2006.  A lot of things were starting then.  I was about to go completely crazy, and I didn’t know it yet.  I wouldn’t know until after the fact.

So the autumn brings the memories, brings them in viscerally.  As it gets colder, I will keep remembering.  I won’t stop.  I will try to, sometimes.  But they get stuck inside me, stuck on repeat.  They are skipping records, spinning in my abdomen.  The echo is enough to drive you crazy.

Or, at least, crazier than you are already.

They get exacerbated by new memories, by the phrases tossed around by friends.  One of my closest friends from medical school is on her psych rotation, and she had the distinct pleasure of doing a home visit for a man in an acute manic phrase.

“I know he’s sick,” she said, “but I couldn’t help thinking ‘This is someone I’d want to hang out with.’  He made us mix cds, and he was wearing these huge glasses.  He was…fun.

I don’t want to be sarcastic, because I love her and, anyway, her perceptions give me new perceptions.  It’s like looking at someone looking into my past and describing me.  But still, in my head, I want to quip, real sardonic, like I am these days: “Fun…yeah, that’s one word to describe it.”

On bad bad days, when I’m beaten down and feeling miserable, I worry that I will never feel that euphoric again.  People want to be that, don’t they?  Euphoric?

[Hey all you bipolar people—let’s tell the world our secret.  Euphoria is unnatural.  The kind of happiness that shouldn’t exist, the kind that is only possible with spazzed-out neurons and illegal drugs.  It’s a dangerous feeling, in that you will always want to chase it.  Don’t you want to be happy?  What’s wrong with being happy?]

Not to leave out all the normal people.  Hey normal people, over here!  Welcome to my Mind Fuck.

Every day, I make the conscious choice to file my memories into piles and folders.  Memories of cheating, of lying and manipulating, of sleepless nights spent pounding coffee and writing plays, short stories, poetry—collate into folder marked “BAD.”  Memories of time spent getting out of that hole I’d dug myself, memories of therapy breakthroughs and the first time he said “I’m sorry,” after all that—pile overflowing the “GOOD” box.

But there’s always the shadow of everything that was.  Where do you file the memory of someone else putting on your motorcycle helmet because you always fuck it up, the conjoined memory of your hands in the air, 70 MPH on city streets at 4 AM [File it BAD, Jenny.  File it BAD.].  When you think about winding red ribbon around your favorite book and giving it to someone else—this book is about love, you think.  When you are crazy, you think you have the power to make everyone see everything—you think you can make people love you [FILE IT BAD, GODDAMMIT—DON’T THINK ABOUT IT—JUST DO IT].  Every moment when you felt beautiful or brilliant or sexy, every moment when you thought you were spinning the world with the electricity in your heart [BAD—BAD—BAD].  Everything you worry you will never feel again.

I put those things in the BAD folder, sure.  But the Shadow keeps wanting to pull them out.  So I re-file them, once or twice or a hundred times a day.  But sometimes I worry that the Shadow will pull them out, and that they’ll sit on the desk in the sorting pile while I stare at them.  That I won’t remember why they’re so bad in the first place.  That I’ll drop them somewhere else, or just pick them up and inhale their dusty pages.  That I’ll tumble into them, like some movie for children.  Except it’s not a game.  It’s my life.  It’s the life that I’ve put everything too.  It’s the whole life, everything I have to lose.

So, I focus on generating more memories, to hang on the wall over the GOOD box.  So I’ll remember:

-That I feel beautiful when I catch a glimpse of my eyes in my rearview mirror

-That I feel brilliant when I finally work out a mechanism, when I take something apart with my hands and put it back together, better than it was

-That I feel sexy when my boyfriend picks me up in the kitchen [though I’m wearing glasses and a pair of umbrella-print underwear, and I’ve got morning hair] and throws me onto our bed

-That every day, I get the chance to spin the world with the electricity in my heart.

Posted by AnotherChanceTo on October 6th, 2009
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1 Comment a “Dear Shadow, Alive and Well”

  1. RealMental » Blog Archive » Lasers and Pinholes says:

    […] am often flooded with conflicted feelings, plagued with the shadow, with the devil, with a sense of longing that winds itself into my pores and kicks out the bottom […]

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