A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankfully Stepping Out Of My Cocoon

Thanksgiving has been over for almost 6 days and I'm only just starting to readjust to being back on my own.  The last two days have been unseasonably warm, but a depressing grey, so that 2pm feels like dusk.  I've been eating left over turkey and sleeping too much.

Thanksgiving was a quiet affair this year.  We had one person come over.  I'll call him Bill.  I was very glad that he came because my brother was making a large feast for us.  Of all the people who could have come, I was hoping that Bill would be the one.  He's good friends with Samantha, my new friend.  And since she couldn't come, he was the next best thing.

Bill is in his mid 50s, he's short, shorter than I am (I'm average height for a woman) and he's quite slim.  Like Sam, he owns property in our town, but doesn't have much money.  He's very much into bartering with people and has a good memory for who needs what.  He is mechanically minded.  For fun he takes things apart and then puts them back together, maybe even improves things.  He's into science, too and does his own experiments.  On Thanksgiving he told the story of how he did an experiment to split an atom, just to see how powerful it was.  I can't remember the experiment except that it used water, but I do remember that he said it knocked him on his ass when he did it.  I thought the fact that he did that was extraordinary.  How many people out there do experiments like that in their free time?

It was nice having just the three of us, more intimate and relaxed.  I got to see a side of Bill that I haven't seen before, a gentler, even sweeter side to him.  Bill knows my story through my brother and through Sam and he seemed to be treating me with patience and kindness.  He also mentioned that he had gone through chemotherapy, though I don't know when.  He mentioned it in passing and I didn't want to grill him on it, but obviously he's had a brush with death and has lived to tell the tale, thank God.  Though he wouldn't thank God because he is an avowed atheist.  Maybe I'll ask Sam about Bill's story.  That's the interesting thing, that I've fortuitously tapped into a small social network of local people through my brother.  Most of them are in their 50s and have no children, are Democrats (Bill is a Libertarian), decidedly non homophobic and mentally and verbally quite sharp, if not actually mensa types.  Our town, because of the college and university here, is an oasis amidst Republican conservative Christians.  This group found each other at the local town bars.

I'm finding that they are very loyal to each other.  This past Saturday one of the group had an accident with a chainsaw--the chainsaw bucked while he was using it and it cut into the heel of one of his feet.  He was alone, but was able to call 911.  A helicopter took him to Rochester where he had an operation.  Sam told me about it yesterday on the phone.  The hurt man, Paul, lives just a few houses up the road from me; I remember the ambulance flying past the house with a police car right behind him.  I remember sending out a prayer, not knowing who I was praying for.  Today Paul came home, but Sam had gotten to his place earlier and brought dry wood and got a fire going and stoked it.  She also washed his dishes and cleaned up; I thought that was very considerate of her.  She stopped by my house afterwards.

I got her some coffee and we sat and talked for a couple of hours.  She was telling me about Paul who is mensa bright but who has a temper from time to time.  I met him in one of the local bars a long time ago and he was very bitter about his divorce.  Sam says he's still bitter about it.  That's a shame to be so bright and yet to get pulled into the blame game even so.  On the flip side, he must have really loved his  wife for it to hurt so badly.  But it was news to me that Paul has a temper because I just don't know Paul.  So Sam was giving me a window into a piece of his life.  That's the thing about Sam's group of friends, they've all bonded in the local bars over at least a decade if not more.  They've seen each other when they've been shit faced and stumbling home.  They've heard each others sad stories and triumphs.    They've also witnessed psychological breakdowns and relationship break ups.  Simply put, they've been vulnerable in front of each other and know a lot about each other and this part of the country.

For me, I see Sam as the gatekeeper for this community.  If Sam gives the thumbs up about me, then I will walk into a small viable community, a community I might wind up growing old or at least older with.  All my years of isolation may actually be ending right now before my eyes.  Now, how cool is my brother for sharing his friends with me and how cool is Sam for welcoming in a another lost soul into the group?  And she has been very welcoming.  She invited me over to her place this Friday and as long as the weather holds, I'm going to go.  It's a treat to go to someone's house and soak up their home atmosphere and especially a treat with Sam.  I believe she's a kindred spirit.  I have so much to be thankful for.  
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