Temenos

“And it is so simple…you will instantly find how to live.” –Dostoyevsky

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, I contradict myself.
I am large.
I contain multitudes.

–Walt Whitman

Temenos:a Greek word which refers to a universal instinct to create a protected, safe space in which to heal, reorganize and regenerate the fragmented personality; taking shape in circular shapes like Mandalas (Jung)…

“Heart on your sleeve”—I had been doing it for years. I’ll admit that for the first one or two years after breakdown, I had to. I didn’t know who I was otherwise, or where I was, or why I was here. Yes. A diagnosis became a light out—a red-pinned focal point on a map of black behavior that was almost sociopathic, because there were no feelings or compassion or empathy behind the wheel. Just actions. Behaviors. Thoughts. An almost death.
I realized I’ve stepped out of my laziness a little—I no longer define myself by some diagnosis or history or trauma. Why do we need to define ourselves by such intangible things? But enough is enough. I’ve been spending a lot of time in silence, and quite a bit making a few new friends online—and woo-hoo one in reality. That was tricky shit at first. But on the real level, the level I care about–I am seeing changes. I am making changes. I have been changing rapidly for the last six years, and things are finally feeling…right. I am feeling forward motion. I am even having flashbacks of beautiful things—that smell in the country air with Erica on our bikes by that shaded plateau of forest where the ground was moss-covered and fragrant. I can smell it. And sunscreen. Mello Yello out of the clean hospital cups her mother worked at outside of town, us on our bikes, thirteen, Walkman speakers connected to the handlebars. Or walking in the cold winter mornings—the world is blue and suffocating and it’s beautiful. Puddles reflecting branches in the cloudy sky, the way water rivulets on pavement, sounding like Spring is coming and then I smell Easter candy and marshmallow peeps and I see Emma the year she was four and got a new bike—bubbles in the chilly air, her orange hair and squinty eyes not so amused, and I smell the carpet of that upstairs apartment and how I climbed the roof to clean windows when she napped, black coffee on the counter and wet lilacs from the rain in my antique mason jars—this is the strange shit I can’t help but notice lately. Smells are overwhelming. And physical oh my god physical–sexual—which is also at its peak. My prime must be here, and I’m only learning my sexuality. I have slept for so long. I was asleep before I got sick. So this being okay and kind of healthy is a whole new trip for me. I define my health. Or I’ve always been sick. And this is me now. And I’m creating who I want to be—or what I want to be. I think we already are whatever we were born for—be it reincarnation, or, what I believe, stardust (the ever-present connection of Taoism and Science)–and our choices and desires only direct a life. And that life is small. Insignificant. And beautiful. When everything is taken away, and I have been completely annihilated and there is no god anymore and there is no purpose, I was forever changed. I cannot unsee. And at last I learned how to stand—because I chose to. Because it was time. It’s easy to lay low as I did for a few years. I could be gentle on myself and say I was recovering and heavily medicated, and that sometimes it’s too much– or I could be harsh on myself and say I was weak to be so afraid of myself. I had not prepared myself for something I had always known was coming. I refused to look in the mirror and be brave. Face myself. Face illness and rot and emptiness. I guess because I didn’t think she’d make it. Huh. I dreamt the other night that I was assigned to this beautiful futuristic apartment in London, and I went to my sister’s apartment to check myself in the mirror. I looked. I was stunning. My dimples, the high cheekbones, the long lashes. Pink lips. So I stepped closer and I startled for a fraction of a second, but didn’t trust my instinct so I leaned closer. I’m suddenly wiping all the makeup off, and beneath the colorful layers, my face is a blackness, a vacuum, a shapely hole of what I imagine to be hell, because it reminded me of being in the mental ward. It scared me but not enough. I was more so curious and imploring.

A few years back I felt like I woke up. I was sitting in the sun and it was spring and there were fat bumble bees. I could smell the mud and budding grass. I believe Sonny Boy Williamson was playing through the window screen. But I wasn’t quite ready. So I kept on, but I knew it was building somewhere in me. Then one day, maybe 2 years later, I woke up to words, as if I’d never used them before. And they began to heal me. And then I found I wasn’t waking up to anything but myself. More and more every day. And I was curious and am curious about this woman. I don’t take any pride anymore in my “wounds”—that’s such a sad way to exist. They are not wounds but just parts. No name to them. They are there and that’s that. Small parts.
I used to fear being so many fragments and pieces. Yet somehow they are all managing to start to fit together a little. I have many masks. I am many people. I change all the time. And I like it. I like that I don’t believe in something or feel I have to. Because I know in my gut I come from something—something as vague and enormous as the universe, and as small as an atom. I’m starting to crave things too, things I was unable to find before or even fathom. I’m hungry for everything and my god, it feels so good.
It’s all become so simple, and it took the most complex existence to figure that out.

“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.”

Thoughts:

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