It’s a sad day for many. A massacre occurred at an elementary school in Connecticut in the U.S. Many small children lost their lives, and many brave adults did, too. As soon as I heard, I shut off the news on my computer and limited my intake. I am sensitive to these tragedies, and they have a way of needling into my thoughts and taking center stage.
Despite the measures, I wept for a long while and felt anguish and helplessness. My mind returned again and again to the unbearable loss.
Thankfully, I had an appointment scheduled with my psychiatric nurse practitioner, so I knew I would have an opportunity to discuss my emotions regarding the horrifying news. I arrived early and asked if she’d heard the story. She had.
I don’t trust my emotions. I’m unable at times to distinguish how I feel, if anything at all. I’m fighting back tears as I write this, and I don’t know what the tears are for or why I’m fighting.
The nurse informed me that people with a mental illness like mine will often repress emotions. “Little incidents,” she said, “that I wouldn’t even spend a split second thinking about become mountainous obstacles in the lives of my bipolar, depressed, and schizophrenic patients.” Due to this, we often shut emotions off only to have them resurface in odd ways.
I found myself pacing my little house several days this past week. On several occasions, I wandered back and forth along a worn path from room to room. When it dawned on me I was walking aimlessly, I didn’t stop. I tried to remember what my thoughts were while pacing, but it was no good. The thoughts had vanished. My memory was faulty. The nurse informed me this was a classic example of repression.
My sleep has been troubled, too. I wake after a few hours and then can’t get back to sleep until several more hours pass.
And there are the dreams. One I call “The Actor’s Nightmare,” in which I find myself on a bare stage where someone is just about to raise the curtain. I don’t know my lines. There is no set. I’m wearing no costume. There are no props or even other performers. No one else is backstage with me, but I can hear people in front of the curtain talking to the audience announcing the beginning of the show. I can’t get their attention to tell them about the emptiness they’re about to expose the audience to. I find a kind of bag full of papers that I begin to fling about so that I can take the empty bag on as a prop.
Emptiness. Lack of control.
There’s the dream of which I only remember the ending. I have lit a cigarette lighter, and I’m inhaling the flame to burn away the rotten parts of me. My lungs are engulfed by the blaze. I have a desperate need to burn what is unworthy.
I saw my therapist yesterday, and we discussed the dreams. We talked more about the sexual healing I’ve been working on. She mentioned love.
“How far back do you have to go to an age when you know you were loved?”
“The cradle,” I replied.
She displayed no surprise, but I was. My answer was quick and certain, so we spent time imagining caring for a “baby me.” I held the baby close. I cooed to him. I rocked him. I cuddled him.
We went through the steps of changing a messy diaper, and I got to express love in all circumstances with a baby’s needs.
Healing is slow.
I cried today for the lost children in Connecticut. My heart aches now for them, but then my heart aches much of the time. I sent out a prayer to whatever it was that set this universe whirling, asking for healing and solace for their families and me.