Another cold night, in the car, listening to the waves. I would blast the heater and try to make sure the windows that were not functioning with the electric open mechanism were all the way up. Tiredness started to creep up on me, my eyes started to itch, even without my contacts in. Earlier today I got what is commonly called ‘the creeps’ which is not that uncommon for me, but this time it came out of nowhere. No, not what is called a ‘panic attack’ , no, it wasn’t that. It was something I could turn from, with some effort. Something I could manage to distract myself from.
I have heard some people describe the feeling of loneliness, but it wasn’t that. That must be like the feeling that occasionally overtook me when I felt something, anything at all and started to vacillate between wanting to cry and sort of scream, but not like a horror movie scream, it was more like a slow, low keening, something akin to howling but without the ooo oooo oooo that usually kicks off a dog or a wolf howl. It rarely turned into actual tears, or the tears would be separate from the sobbing sensation, the tears would leak out, only a couple, and then usually the feeling would go away, only to be replaced by the wanting to make a noise as if one was in pain. It was not like what people think of when they think of crying. Then it would pass relatively quickly.
The other night I stood by the lookout and listened to some type of music and tapped my foot or bounced my leg along to its spastic techno beat. It didn’t feel the way listening to normal music felt- it felt like sound meant to drive one into another mental space and it did. Let me see the dissociative off-ramp up ahead. In about 10 minutes of foot-tapping, it did. I became aware of it being cold outside. I felt like I had landed or was in the process of landing. I could feel myself going away from the state I had briefly visited, a kind of waving goodbye to that part of myself that had started to enter that frightening land of thoughts that mixed with emotions I could not identify.
How was that possible to feel something (really anything these days)and not know what it was? Imagine eating something unknown and tasting flavors that one did not have words for. Unnerving. Then it would sort of go away for a while like a receding tide but then mocking laughter knowing it would come back. I would pick up a scarf and smell it. Something that would bring back a feeling, a memory of that unidentified taste and at the same time, would separate thinking from the feeling, and never the the twain shall meet. As if there was some kind of referee I had never met that kept the two apart.
The referee was all business and would not tolerate the one side running away with the game. The referee had ultimate power over the other two- thinking and feeling.. although at times the referee’s job was too exhausting, at times the referee just had to sleep or took time off and forgot to notify thinking/feeling. They thought the ref was still there and went along as if that were the case. The problem lie in that when the ref was absent, one side would start to gain strength yet neither would know what the score was. It would just happen. One side would be bleeding out, yet not know it, and there was no one to stop the one side from continuing to smack the other silly.
Sometimes there would be a voice, whose was it? Mine? The voice might say it was afraid or that it felt weak , it would speak when the dissonance between the other two was great or of her own accord. Other times it would be more like poetry or a story. Sometimes I wouldn’t remember what the voice said, only that it was indeed me, not like some outside voice like people who had schizophrenia would describe, this voice was me and would speak not in my head. It was more like a narrator, yet still me. The narrator kept the rest of me tethered by a thin thread to what was happening in the now, real-time. Though I would not always remember all of what was said.
If it felt like fire, she would say so. The narrator was much kinder than the referee, though she appeared far less often. Was this narrator talking to someone else or to herself? Was she conveying things I was thinking or feeling or was she also telling me things, in either a direct or veiled way, like an oracle? It felt like both. It was hard to know whom to trust. The ref was like the adult, the narrator the child. One was like the waking mind, one was like the way things were conveyed in dreams. One told what to do, one told what one was doing, or reminded one of things like hot or cold. But sometimes neither one was there, they both went away.
Then she would feel physical things she usually didn’t notice, and would wonder if she had somehow fallen down or been hurt otherwise yet was unaware or didn’t feel any pain, like feeling a long hike the day after. A backache, a twinge here or there. During these times the other two would have shut up, as they were not needed. In this phase, all the physical, earthly things would be intensified although there was still some distance from them. That was almost all there was left.
Hunger, fear, sleepiness. Soreness. Dreams that were slow and mundane. A sense of having been consumed, the stillness of ashes. The freezing hands. Anemic pallor. What was all this? Remnants of humanity? All these physical things, puzzles to solve, distractions, at times simply annoying or unpleasant. It was always me who had received- but this….. now it was I who was left feeling I had graciously donated blood I did not have to give and it had left me bruised and weak. Cauterized. How was this possible? I was the oldest, I was the strongest.
Then another layer, another veil, feeling the cold or tiredness but being apart from it. Warmth, food and sleep not fixing it. Knowing there was no way to fix it. No one else noticing it. Then the cold feeling of being a ghost would come, and the physical stuff would subside -sometimes this would last a while. Could you repeat that? What was that last part again? Not answering the phone. Prescience. Being past the fear of the knowledge of ones aloneness and the realization of the inevitable finality and the void. There wasn’t enough strength here for either the ref or the narrator.