I can feel that I’m becoming more accustomed to chaotic events — not happening directly to me per se, but the whole process of hearing about them, seeing some media or counter-media evidence of them, observing that nothing’s being done about them or worse, the chaos is actively prolonged, incited; and it might be violence or it might be talking heads saying truly backwards things, things from a fever dream, or it might be something close to home, always to do with my phone, with digital manipulation, what I’m seeing or what I’m able to broadcast. Just a dozen tiny things every day, at various proximities to me, making me feeling less and less grounded in a right side up world. Each new WTF is just a tiny piece in the new reality mosaic, and more tiny pieces are added here, there, everywhere; I don’t know what kind of final picture could possibly result from all these backwards, upside down pieces.
The only frame of reference I have, when reality became unhinged, was the period of time after my involuntary life-reset of 2006. I was moving from Texas to Arizona with my dog, Eva, and my travel trailer, following completion of 2 years of active duty medical training in Texas. My dog was killed by a car on the road, just prior to departure, and Jason, the guy I’d enlisted to tow my trailer for the trip, returned from Auto Zone with her dead on the tailgate. She’d slipped her leash and followed his truck out the main road, from the RV site, which he’d noticed but not addressed. I’d remained behind, doing last minute packing, until I realized she was no longer tied up to the picnic table, and got more and more worried until he returned with the body and the bad news. I remember the moment exactly — me inside, fussing with a cabinet or something. I’d already gone all around and asked everyone if they’d seen her. I heard the truck park and shut off; the swish of boots through grass; the weight of a heavy stop into the camper, and his face before he said a word.
Everything after that was surreal, including figuring out what to do with her body, because we still needed to leave. She was sacked up in a trash bag in the bed of the truck when we had the accident on I-10. It must have been a design flaw in the trailer. I’d bought it as an alternative to an apartment, for training, figuring I’d just keep it or sell it later. I’d never pulled it — I didn’t even own a tow vehicle, hence Jason. He was a Texas cowboy I’d liked, but I didn’t like him anymore. He should have stopped, when he saw her following him. Anyway, my camper trailer was gorgeous. 28 feet long, full of beautiful fabrics and colors, just right for me, lots of light, windows, a queen bed, a huge closet full of my favorite clothes. The whole thing jackknifed at the bottom of a hill, striking the guardrail and flipping over on to its side as it continued moving, gutting the trailer and dumping all my possessions into a ravine. The truck slewed hard right, hitting the opposite guardrail with a tremendous impact. I didn’t think it would hold. My consciousness had been dull and miserable since I discovered Eva died, several hours before, and I was unable to muster even terror in this situation. Everything came to a stop, truck and trailer still connected and spread across Interstate 10 at the bottom of a large hill with midnight traffic fast approaching. I was barefoot, and sprinted out, waving my arms, to stop them before they hit us. I don’t know if that was helpful, it just happened, without thought. Everyone got stopped in time.
A person in a pickup truck rolled down their window and said something to me. I stared at them and they repeated it. “Is everyone okay?”
“No,” I said, somehow not even really here. My entire world was just Eva, Eva, Eva, dead in that trash sack. “I mean, yes. Yes, everyone’s okay.”
After a trauma, there’s a next thing and a next thing and a next thing, and it doesn’t matter what they are; they’re all just next things. A trauma is like the line between BC and AD. There were many next things that night, and in the following days, weeks, months. All the next things are a rip current, sucking you out to sea, further and further from the thing you didn’t want to leave. In that state, even though you know life must go on, it seems actually insulting that it does. I remember standing in a hardware store at one point, looking for something I needed, and feeling waves of some kind of disorientation I’ve never felt. What does it mean that this hardware store was just doing business, while all these things were happening in my life, like an invisible blip, and life goes on, and here I am staring at wrenches, and I can’t put my finger on what any of it means. These wrenches. All these different sizes. It takes a very long time for it all to stop being next-things and start being just things again. To lose that frame of reference. The frame of reference makes you miserable, it’s a gut wound, but to let it go is the biggest trauma of all.
When you let it go, it’s like turning the volume up on a movie that’s been playing on mute. People say things again, events and decisions interrelate again, your own involvement is a thread connecting things to you. The future begins to occur in the present again, a little bit at a time, rather than the present moment infinitely retreating from, but remaining connected to, the past trauma.
That process took a long time for me. Instinctually, I wanted to suffer on the outside as much as I was suffering on the inside, but I’m not a cutter and I don’t use drugs. I stumbled onto fasting as a psychological hair shirt, and fasted for 10 days at a time, every couple of months. I did this five times, and on the sixth time it was impossible. I simply could not be that miserable; I wanted to eat and have energy and function. But you see, it was just as miserable the five times before, but my grief was such a match to it that the hunger and depletion felt like relief. On the sixth time, I wasn’t a match any longer. So it’s not even that I wanted to finally let the trauma go; it’s just that my life force and my vigor took me in hand, almost without my permission.
It’s my own dull non-responsiveness to stimuli, characterizing that time between Eva’s death and the aborted sixth fast, that I’m reminded of now, in some ways. This isn’t just a private trauma, it’s affecting everyone, and most people are still on their way up the emotional roller coaster, I think. I feel myself tipping down. The gaslighting is so severe. I don’t think I’m crazy, but I simply don’t have the energy to continue responding as if these events are occurring in a matrix of rationality, because they’re not. This is the time when dangerous things can happen, in my opinion — when everyone’s worn down, no longer even agitating that the economic fabric of our society is rent.
One of the hallmarks of an abusive boyfriend is that he’ll separate you from your network of friends and family, separate you from the benefit of their collective input and reactions. Then you start to second guess yourself and rely too much on him, his moods and beliefs and opinions, and pretty soon you’re just up shit creek, feeling turned around and backwards in ways you can’t even explain, plus there’s no one to explain it to. So that’s what’s happening to all of us. We all have an abusive boyfriend right now. It’s so hard to stop people from talking to each other but they’ve almost done it. Social distancing, sanction on non race-war-related gatherings, fines and arrests for going to work, church, or school, and then the only other two places where we tend to download and conspire with one another, bars and church, also closed or sort of open but 6 feet and a mask. And then on top of it we can’t agree with what’s happening to us, or even agree to disagree, because we’ve been pitted against one another. Actual hotlines to report your friends and neighbors. Imagine what we’d do if there was a virus with a kill rate over 1%. We’d be taking out bounties on each other. We’d be turning in each other’s scalps, for fuck’s sake.
Anyway, it’s hard to get people to stop talking to each other, to stop comparing notes and reaching for the comfort of even partial consensus, but here we all are — sort of oddly on our own, all together, gaslit to the fucking moon.
So I don’t really like the level of eye-rolling acceptance I have, now, to things, but I don’t have the energy to put up more of a fight than that. “The New Normal” my ass. The New Highly Fucking Unsustainable. Having had a deep trauma (well; several) occur in my own past, such that reality itself became the least real thing for quite some time, I’m concerned to recognize my own signs and symptoms but writ large, across a population I never felt, you know, entirely connected to, but much less so now. But even as I write this…strangely more so. That’s the important pivot I think we’re all in a position to make, eventually. We’re given reason after reason after reason to become disconnected from, and actually antagonized by, one another, and that in itself is revealed as the ultimate connection.
I had a rough night last night — couldn’t sleep, strangely mindful of another, but more recent past trauma, and I padded barefoot around the house, oddly miserable and unsettled. I scrolled Instagram for a bit and came across some really whack shit that should have made me feel worse, but it was…something about having our sovereignty codes activated, and being willing to become beacons for one another, and releasing our own individual past traumas, not for our benefit alone but in order to become stable and come online as a grid, across the planet, firmly broadcasting love and empathy. I don’t remember the wording and I don’t want to look it up. I don’t know why, but it made me feel instantly relieved, so that I wanted to go to sleep. It made me somehow understand that there’s more at stake than simply me, all by myself, feeling better or feeling worse. I feel as bamboozled and meta-abusive boyfriend-ed by all this as anyone, but as more and more of the normal channels of connection get shut down or eroded or invaded by static, the ultimate and invulnerable channel of connection not only remains, but brightens. It can brighten me up, and in turn I can brighten it up. The reality I’ve known does seem like a receding shore, but…but next thing. My vigor and life force can’t remain suppressed forever, as I’ve already discovered, and if that’s true in the micro then it must be true in the macro. The funny thing about villains is that they’re always hoist by their own petard. We forget that, you know? Everyone’s quite certain, but opposingly, about who the villain/s is-slash-are, and on another day I might argue who it is and who it isn’t, and why, but today: who cares. Small diabolical schemes backfire small and big diabolical schemes backfire big, but the important thing is that they do backfire, always, without fail.
So I guess let’s all try to have some class, meanwhile. That’s something I resort to, in times of distress, believe it or not. Sink or swim, there’s no reason to get tacky. I think a really classy thing to do, right now, for all of us, would be to imagine ourselves as anchor points on a grid of light, spanning the earth. You can imagine it as a round earth or a flat earth or a snow dome earth — who cares. I like the phrase “unlock your sovereignty codes”, whatever that means. I like the idea that maybe we have built-in quantum shifts that don’t have to be struggled for or earned, but simply opened like doors, or valves. I like the thought that I can restabilize along different lines than the old stability, the old normal, and that nothing actually overwhelms me. Or rather that the part of me that can be overwhelmed is, in fact, only a part, sending activation signals up the ‘me’ chain of command.
Or, if you’re someone reading this who feels everything right now makes perfect sense and isn’t destabilizing, then — great. I applaud you, I suppose? That’s the worst part, the part that most feels like that classic abusive boyfriend rut — am I just crazy? Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, in case it’s not just me, here’s a blog about it, and another tiny flickering anchor on the light grid, struggling to come online. Holding me steady first is the hardest part, as is always the case.