My grief made me loyal...but also I was grieving for someone who was dead, and death is such a physical thing. I didn't want physical things. I didn't even like facts about things and in a secret way I came to hate the truth itself.
This extra dimension of loneliness, this revulsion for the world and even; at first, for the stuff of which I was composed, seemed unique at the time. But I think I see now that it was completely typical and that what revolted me about it all was the understanding that everything passes away.
Denis Johnson, The Name of the World
The past few days, I have been obsessed with personality tests. Emode.com offers way too many tests for my safety. Dathilacha sent me the link, then he and Anthony and I have been taking the tests like crazy. So far, I've learned that I am a slightly evil slacking "lethal weapon" with an emerald aura (which I guess works out to being a lapsed flower child) who is neither an optimist nor a pessimist but contains elements of both and who while for the most part has an adult outlook on life, is adolescent when it comes to responsibilites. I've also learned that my romantic type is "intellectual" and that I match most favorably with guys who are of the "artiste" type and girls who are of the "guy's girl" type...which basically boils down to this: I like guys who are girls and girls who are guys. Confused? I am.
I think I am obsessed with these personality tests because in this whole process of recovery, I am trying to figure out who I am, who I was and who I will be. So these tests offer insights (however limited) that are appealing because they save me the work of having to make sense of my own story. Instead I can just cobble together my preferences in food, pop culture, films, etc. and come out with an identity of sorts. (Did I mention that I am a pop culture super-genius for the year 2000?)I sort of feel like a pastiche of a person anyway, because so much of what I am saying is a quotation from someone or something else. Even this online thingy is the same. I am relying on others words in a way that I never did before.
I did find one personality test that I thought sort of captured what I think is most prevalent in my character. It is called the Keirsey Character Sorter or some such thing. Dathilacha, Anthony and LordOuch all took the test and we all turned out to be idealists (different forms: counselor, teacher and healer)LordOuch and I are the idealist healer (iNFp) and that personality type is supposedly only present in like 1 percent of the population (I like to say that it makes me feel special) and there is a mailing list on Egroups devoted to just INFPs. I read some of it. It is like little sensitive boys playing guitars and writing in journals and stuff like that. My problem is that while I probably am a sensitive little thing, I also have an extremely nasty sense of sarcasm that overly-sensitive peoples do not understand. They think I'm like some screwy Satanic bitchypoo or something. At first, I thought there weren't any famous INFPs cuz the site where the test was didn't list any where they listed famous personality types for others (like counselors have Ghandi and Eleanor Roosevelt) but LordOuch emailed me a list that included Mary, the Blessed Virgin, St. John, St. Luke, A.A. Milne, Fred Savage and Lisa Kudrow. I'd like to know how they know that Mary was an INFP? I mean did she really wait for someone else to pick up the phone when it rang? Whatever, I am amused by these tests and don't take them too seriously though I would like to know what sort of person is compatible with a healer idealist, just for the hell of it. Since I've made a pretty good mess, without a personality test to guide me, I may as well give one a try.
I think Dathilacha has an ulterior motive for sending me these personality test links. He is a very pro-therapy person and he has mentioned that maybe I should consider it. A while back, I went to two therapists (psychiatrists) and got enough medication to choke an elephant. The list is fun: wellbutrin, lorazepam, temazepam, diazepam, depakote, buphrenex, remeron, and tons of trazodone of varying strengths. I have been diagnosed as clinically depressed twice, and bi-polar once (and the best one--threatened with institutionalization twice). And I think it is all horse shit. I refuse to be sedated or perked up. But sometimes, like today when the blackness descends, I wonder if I shouldn't try it again. Dathilacha pointed out that in my healer idealist profile that I was most likely a fanciful child and that I was a swan among ducks and that is the way he remembers me. He added that in therapy they say that you are the way you are as an adult because of what you were as a child and that therapy helps you recover those elements that you want to and rebuild yourself from the (good)seeds of your childhood. I don't know, I did not have the best childhood and I'm not sure I want to return there. But of late, it is sort of floating back into my life.
Last time I tried to recover, I got lost in the pain from my past. I was afraid to feel it, so I used to suppress it. Then I sank so low, that I would have given anything to have only the pain of my past to deal with. Now, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just trying to stay clean. It was easy for a bit because, like I said, I screwed my life up so badly that using just wasn't an option> With some time clean I am having problems...and i'm pissed.
I finally, just worked one of the 12steps with my sponsor and that did a lot to take my mind off of using for a little while because I really saw the wreckage...and I felt grateful and lucky that I got out. Then I noticed that the holiday season is upon us. The holidays have always sucked in my house, but they are particularly awful now--it was Grandmother's b'day yesterday (she died last year) and we were very close. She was a rock in my life. The holidays also bring my father's b'day, my b'day, and the anniversary of my father's death...so everything that I wanted to just sort of bracket for a while has come crashing in on me and I want to use so badly...I haven't and I'm grateful but all I do is think about not using/using/trying to do something just to make another hour clean.Which let me tell you is not a fun way to spend your day.
I have lived my pain to its fullest. It is a terrifying thing what that pain can make me do. I thought I'd sort of left it...and just said I can't think about this right now because I need to stay clean and thinking about it is going to make me be afraid to be clean. That worked for a little...
Ain't no question, no suggestion
Nothin' in my mind that can't be
Shut out when I want it to be
Nothin' in yours that can't be kept in
When you open it up and lose it
And nothin' you can't let out
If it's got to be let out, just let it out
And don't worry which way it goes.
Van Morrison, "It's Alright"
My life is sort of at a standstill right now. I am free of vocational entanglements since I was a hard core addict I didn't do anything but try and cop and do things that would facilitate that, I avoided traditional employment opportunities. Since I've used most of my adult life, now that I'm not using...i don't know what the fuck to do with myself exactly. I have tons of books out from the library, and videos and stuff, because I promised myself when I was working 4 million hours a day that one day I would quit and all I would do with my day was read books and watch videos and listen to music. But I am so restless, that doing this is hard work. I' grateful that I can go out for walks and swim and stuff because for the longest time that wasn't possible. I know that right now a door has opened for me. I can walk through it, or I can turn away and go back to using. I'm afraid to walk through the door, and I'm afraid not to. I'm scared of the possibilities and the work and all the things that I feel ill-equipped to deal with. I'm also scared that if i go back to using it will be the end (i was pretty far down the ladder when I got clean).
I just want to take all the wreckage of my childhood, my using adult life and bundle it up and throw it away. Cast it off into the universe to float away and not disturb me anymore. I feel like those girls in the film Fun sometimes. I just am so scared and scarred and I just don't need it anymore, but I don't know how to get rid of it. And unlike Alicia Witt and Renee Humphries, I don't think murdering a little old lady will get me anywhere.
i will dream of you between nightmares and wars and toss and turn ain't you gonna take me for a ride drink and drive down to the l.a. river bed i'll make no mistakes and i'll behave
X, "Some Other Side"
Tonight, i just did not know what to do and I was so restless so i went for a walk at sundown. I went to this duck/goose pond and there was no one there because the park closes an hour before sundown. It was just me, so I sat on this swing and swung as high as I good listened to X on my walkman and watched the sun set into a hill. The leafless trees in the shadow of the pinkish halflight, the indigo clouds lit by the sinking sun behind them, and me flying free on that swing--there was something so wonderful about that moment and I just never wanted to have to leave. So I swang for about an hour, on into the darkness and then I walked around town in the blackness singing along with my walkman because there was no one to hear me. When I left that swing behind, I left all the joy and happiness and possibilty as well. I want so badly to make a new life for myself and I think it is possible...the other times i've tried to recover and stay clean i had no hope...I have hope...it's just difficult to get through the times when that deserts me.
I know it's dark outside
Don't be afraid
Everytime I ever I cried for fear
It's just a mistake I made
Wash yourself in your tears
And build your church
on the strength of your faith
Whew, I feel cleansed. This whole thingy is really amazing. I post crap up here and it is like taking a rock and throwing it in a pond. I toss it off, watch the ripples but the stone itself no longer belongs to me. I give up all my doubts, fears, and stuff to this void and it goes off into the little electronic wasteland and it is no longer MINE.
The past couple days, I've just been treading water. Trying to find something to take my mind off of the holiday mess awaiting me. I watched Godard's Pierrot le Fou which is intensely lush in terms of cinematography (there are filtered colored scenes that remind me of some of my favorite Jack Pierson photos--actually the whole film reminded me of the "shabby chic" of some of his early installations) and I never knew Godard was such a sensual colorist. Of course, Anna Karina rules. She is so fun running through the French seaside in these chic little dresses. And yeah, like it is possible to be that chic when you are on the lamb? But hey, who said this was real. Anyway, this is Godard's "gangster film" (it includes a cameo by Sam Fuller) and Belmondo and Karina are totally french "gangsters." While they hide out Belmondo decides he will write a novel. And we are given his existential angst as a backdrop against the down by law theme...it works for the most part. In the end, the last scene is hilarious--total french over-aestheticization...Belmondo kills himself but before he does, he paints his face blue and then winds yellow and red sticks of dynamite around his head. Then he blows up! And you sort of think thank god, but it is a really good film.
I watched Pierrot le Fou not long after I watched Fun and I think someone is trying to tell me something. I am always one to find things amusing and if something is not fun, I think it sucks. So in Pierrot Anna Karina starts throwing a bit of a tantrum because hiding out while Belmondo writes his masterpiece is boring her (and she is stuck in the same dress) and she complains that it is not fun anymore. Belmondo remarks that all she wants is fun, and damn the cost. The same is true of the two girls in Fun. But in both cases you get the sense that fun or joy is something that is repressed and by experiencing it they are exploding "bourgeois" concepts by embracing it to the extreme. You also get the sense that they are completely naive and in the end pay the price for living such extremes. Karina is killed by Belmondo and he says "you brought this on yourself" in Fun, one girl dies, the other doesn't but she is left utterly alone again, and in prison.
So I worry that my emphasis on fun is not such a good thing. I know why I do it, and why those characters go to such lengths for fun, because in the case of Fun especially the girls were so put down and so abused that they never experienced joy. So when they did find fun, they didn't know how to balance it, how to stop. I think the Anna Karina character has sort of the same thing, but we are not given that history, instead I think Godard makes a more sort of political anti-bourgeois statement with about the repression of joy. Of course, Godard is just a "wee" bit sexist. But ultimately that sexism can be turned on its ear and one might say that Karina is an example of a woman looking for something outside of what society offers her, and within her limited opportunities, she does what she can but ultimately, society and even "anti-society" is not set up to accomodate her and she is destroyed by her search and lack of fulfillment that keeps her moving and keeps her looking for thrills at any price.
What I worry about, is that I am an extreme personality. And I have already paid the price for searching out too many thrills, drugs were fun once, drinking was fun once, relationships were fun once. I know I lack a sense of proportion. If I want to do something I do it until I can't do it anymore, I drive almost everything into the ground. I can't find the handle on how to stop and moderate things. I see that, but I don't know how to prevent it. And that is the lesson of Pierrot le Fou and Fun. Who says art is uesless!