For most of the day yesterday I wrestled with a guilty conscience for having missed Christmas Eve service. So I thrashed out my feelings and thoughts on paper until, at ten o’clock tonight, I felt better. The important thing is that conscience is merely part of yourself— although others may try to manipulate it to get the results they desire. I came to the conclusion that the church pastor makes his emotions everyone else’s business and vice versa, disrespecting our boundaries in the interest of the church “family.” His collectivism operates at an emotional level as well as intellectual. But the problem with that is he doesn’t encourage independence and growth as much as enmeshment that suffocates each individual.
Well anyway, Christmas is over with, and symbolically, I wheeled my trash out to the curbside for pickup this morning. Out with the old, in with the new. I don’t know what I’d resolve for the New Year; usually I forget what I said the year before.
Eleven at night.
It’s probably not so healthy to use defense mechanisms like intellectualization, yet it seems like a natural impulse for me. I look around at the world, or my little corner of it, and I make comparisons and contrasts with the reading I’ve done, to finally come to a generalization that rings more or less true. But I admit that it’s a faulty methodology for showing anything like the truth.
Since yesterday, maybe before, I’m seeing fragmentation everywhere, like Eliot in The Waste Land, but it’s only because my church is in political turmoil. My imagination likens it to The Wreck of the Deutschland, the great poem by Hopkins, or even “Synchronicity II” by The Police, in the line, “We have to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies.” I don’t know if the fragmentation is really general. Perhaps my mind amplifies the church situation out of proportion, so that it’s all that I can see. In fact, this is most likely the case. To be honest I feel pretty overwhelmed.
So I just keep plodding along from day to day like everyone else.
I woke from dreams of my garage just now, mingled with the image of my dad’s ghost. I felt violently towards him and I would’ve attacked him in reality. So much of what he did when I was a child was heinous that he deserved retribution. I grew to just hate him and didn’t make peace with him until after his retirement, which coincided with my dx of schizophrenia. Now I wonder why my mother had such a positive talent for picking losers to marry. My dad took the cake for all time assholes. But at his core he was a complete coward and weenie, like all bullies or men without balls. Incongruously, the music in my background is “Strike Up the Band,” an old disco tune by Chic. Whatever was happening with my life, or however dire it was, the music would keep playing obliviously, in benign indifference. It almost seems to say that life for the unconscious goes on no matter what the external circumstances. The soul has its own agenda and it operates in Dreamtime. Where this and reality intersect is something like a peak experience, perhaps a sublime deja vu. We have all been here before. Likely we’ll be there again.
There’s been a fine mist of rain this morning, so I took an umbrella to the store. They were out of Snapple tea; I bought a Dr Pepper instead. I seemed to see green everywhere on my way, like a symbol that follows me around. I think it means nature and pure life as opposed to the dead language of old traditions, also ubiquitous but unpromising, unless the god you believe in is not sandwiched in a book. If there must be a bible, perhaps a person can use Leaves of Grass, something roomier than the other options. My umbrella is black, but during school I had a green and yellow Duck umbrella, lost in the fire three years ago.
The essence is happiness, I always remind myself. Though I have no complaints, neither am I jumping for joy. What happened to the fun I used to have? There’s always something to screw up any utopia, so the best we can do is make the most of every minute.
Were the good times with alcohol really fun for me or was it all just an illusion of joy? My experience with drinking was a relationship, a romance or an old friendship, and everyone else was second to the booze. Before the pandemic came, I enjoyed church, and now those are the good old days. Maybe I overindulged in using my brain for a long period, because today I’m burned out on intellectual pursuits and only want to feel what is true for me. But it’s hard to tell between emotional truth and rational defense. First thing this morning I felt pretty good. Right now the sun is shining and won’t set for another four hours. It could be a very pretty afternoon and evening.
Ten thirty five at night.
I woke up from my nap at nine o’clock with a desire to hear Burt Bacharach once again. So I found the CD in a stack of them and played it, thinking of my last love interest six years ago. What I really miss about her is not only her intelligence but the full range of her emotions, like a piano keyboard. She was not a severed head at all but could actually feel something. Since we separated, I’ve met many people who are impassive and cut off from their feelings, the things below the neck, that come from the heart and the gut. This stolidity might be the result of being too religious or maybe immersion in this age of electronics and cyberspace. People are becoming more mechanical than the machines they use, but the only ones who can change this condition are human beings themselves. “As long as we see / There’s only us / Who can change it / Only us to rearrange it / At the start of a new kind of day.” A few people lately have said what I’ve been saying for a long time: we need to get back to basics and experience life like biological beings again: emotional beings. Get ourselves back to the Garden, as it were. We are stardust and golden. It’s time to turn away from our apocalypse.
Quarter of eleven at night.
It finally occurs to me that the Vraylar I take is very powerful and acts on me like a sedative, rendering me a lot less sensitive to some of the essential experiences of human life, such as spirituality, sexuality, and other things. Vraylar raises the threshold for the stuff that makes you feel alive in perhaps a primitive way, which I find to be regrettable to an extent. It was having a large Coca-Cola today that gave me this self awareness regarding the antipsychotic. Directly or indirectly the drug is costing me my membership in the church; but on the other hand it helps me avoid alcohol for the purpose of minimizing my delusions and hallucinations. It makes me wonder just what is the nature of schizophrenia: could it be just a matter of extreme sensitivity of the nervous system? In that case, maybe the psychosis is truer to reality than anyone had believed. Or perhaps the excitability of the nerves is like a tale by Edgar Allan Poe, an experience of darkness and terror and phantasmagoria not without its own peculiar kind of beauty… The best part about the Vraylar is how it saves me from alcohol abuse by abolishing psychosis; but the pitfall is mostly the way it deprives me of some of the quintessential feelings of human experience, the sheer primitive energy that makes us alive and gives us happiness as well as pain. It banishes the emotional roller coaster of life— which is why it is prescribed for bipolar disorder in addition to schizophrenia. In sum, it pushes down everything for better and for worse.
Four fifty. I’m going to Katie’s memorial service tonight. Tim is picking me up at six forty. I’ve had a rough afternoon because I listened to the CD this morning, opening up an emotional can of worms. Then I wallowed in pathos for a few hours, thinking of my mother, to whom I was very close. I guess I can snap out of it when it’s time to go to the church. Until then I’m just killing time, waiting for the sun to go down. I really can’t put my parents down for being hedonists. The church has me in a tight spot, and I tend to sympathize still with my parents and not with my sister. I’m not going to manage to be very rational today. Sometimes that’s okay. But it’s not my usual mental state to be soppy and maudlin. If I could just make the music stop.
Six o’clock. It won’t be long now.
The thought of the Christmas season came over me while I was eating lunch. Maybe I really have been a Judas for the past twenty years, and the best thing for me is to open my heart to my family and their concept of human life. Christmas is a big piece of that. Even my mother once celebrated the season, decorated the house with a tree, tinsel, lights, ornaments, and so on. At some point she grew jaded and sour and lost all faith, or perhaps she had never understood the reason for the tradition. My own Christmas spirit died when my mother passed away… or went underground and dormant. Maybe this year Christmas will come to my home again. And I’ll probably go to church tomorrow morning, though it’s not a church that my family would choose. In the end, it’s not an intellectual thing.
Six twenty five.
My taxi ride is about two hours away. The traffic of diesel trucks on the Beltline sounds quite loud. Now I have to go out in the predawn darkness to the store for Aesop and me. Thomas Dolby: “My Brain Is Like a Sieve.” A song of forgiveness.
Quarter after seven. The excursion was fun. Michelle told me she has arthritis in her foot; unfortunate when she has to stand all day. She helped me max out my food credits. When I left the house it was dark outside, but on the way home already it was growing light. The clouds are packed in layers, cloud on cloud. My thoughts are hung up on the same problem, cognitive therapy versus analytical psychology. Rational or emotional thinking… I scroll back about nine years. My online girlfriend started dating another guy, so I had to decide whether to keep her for a friend. Was I capable of doing that? But now it’s just a dialogue with the ghosts of history. Once in a while I get the opportunity to show some courage. With the lockdowns it’s been harder to do. Or maybe the lockdowns are themselves the opportunity? Playing safe gets boring, and it doesn’t get results.
Eight ten. The crows bicker noisily over something. Aesop was very hungry for his breakfast, scarfed it right down. Sunlight burns through a little.
Ten forty. I’m back from the agency. Kind of nice to see Misty. Feeling better from the change in temperature and the promise of the new season. I stopped the statin for cholesterol a week ago or longer: a good move. I remember things I did 19 years in the past because now I can feel something again. It’s a bit like a homecoming, except I miss my family as the perversity crumbles. I could harden my heart for only so long, and now I see all that I might have missed before.
The sun is just beginning to light up the east. It’s the first day of fall. Aesop has been sick with a stomach bug lately; not sure what to do about it. Life has been very unkind to us since the spring and summer, unless I just expect too much from it. But if I decided to be disobedient then I’d only drink beer again. I never resented a Democratic government until now. It seems to rule us with an iron hand. And I don’t enjoy going to church at all anymore because of the politics… For a change I’m going to Grocery Outlet this morning. Feelings are interesting things, and who knows where they come from? I think you have to trust them in the end, and the dreams that embody them. It’s okay to surrender to your feelings and do as they say. They give us strength and courage to carry out our projects…
Quarter of eight. It takes me twenty minutes to walk a mile, and that’s the distance to Grocery Outlet. I suppose I’ll get ready to go now.
Nine twenty five. I was there and back again. Bought Aesop some decent food for breakfast for the next week. And I got some deli stuff for me. I didn’t buy anything to drink this time, so I’m missing my caffeine. On my walk, I thought vaguely about my confusion with reason and feeling, and should I trust emotions to guide me? But I know that this approach has never worked for me before, and my best bet is to go with science. I think it’s just curiosity that lures me towards the Jungian ideas like a Siren song. My ship would be dashed on the rocks if I dared it again… It was kind of a nice walk to River Road past the high school, where I saw a lot of teenagers getting ready for class. School is a much different experience from church. The more I think on it the more I really resent the church for laying down the law rather than liberating our minds for whatever comes. The latter is an exciting prospect indeed.