Get Used To

12743909_945984215455688_7422037828919330423_nEarly February 2005 was three months before I quit poisoning my body and mind. That month I wrote the piece presented below. It’s quite amazing I still had some good brain matter working well.

Yesterday I was swearing heavily at my PC. Some invincible virus has infected the computer and it makes all web pages I open in Internet close or “hang-on” whenever it wants or for whatever period of time it wants. It wants… That is the thing. If you think about it, computer doesn’t want. It doesn’t have a will, a mind, a soul. It is just a working machine with electronics sown though it from left to right and from top to bottom. If the virus has infected the system, machine stops working properly. No curse, no damnation, no active misbehaviour of the machine. Just electronics. It reminds me of people who try to start a car and it doesn’t go. “Come on, work it!” And the engine is silent. “Work it, for God’s sake!” Engine starts. Just a whole bunch of metal, honestly, though you sometime start thinking your prayers have been heard.

Just a whole bunch of metal. Just electronics. We know it. However, I freak out when the “Word” program makes me type a sentence for two minutes. One sentence – two minutes. Words are typed but haven’t been displayed yet and are showing up slowly, one by one. I freak out and swear, but it works as effectively as milking a cat. Couple a months ago I was trying to write an email to my folks back home and had to call out Yahoo web page three times in a row, for it was disappearing as soon as I have type my password and pressed a button to go. Three times. Computer god was laughing at me. Aha… Computer god, right. Listen to Black Sabbath. But seriously, now I am not surprised. I got used to. I call out the program twice, more times until I got the result I needed and it finally works, even after computer being restarted twice. The letter is typed and sent. Bravo.

Earlier that day, in the morning I was waiting for LRT to take me downtown. A group of down-syndrome kids, escorted by either guides or teachers, goes down the ladders and join me in my wait. Maybe not just down-syndrome. Who knows. I can’t distinguish. Poor little kids who looks at the world the way it makes us laugh when we are kids ourselves and have little tolerance for things. Though now when I look at them, I feel nothing but pity.

So there are those female guides, two of them who watch the kids, sit them on the benches and keep them from climbing railings. I watch them, walking there and back impatient for the train to come. A guy who was sitting at the bench next to that group got up and walked for at least fifteen meters away. When I‘ve been passing him by, he said in a low voice: “Can’t sit there next to them… How do they manage to deal with ‘em?” I understood the last part of his phrase was related to the guides. I looked at them. They definitely didn’t have a fun time: watch every kid of ten or fifteen. A kid that can’t just be told “don’t do it.” A kid that needs to be nursed; not a toddler, but a seven year old, almost helpless because of his mental deformity. I said in a low voice: “I believe you can get used to almost anything.” The guy nodded and answered: “But it is a constant headache!” I just nodded. Then the train came. This guy went to the last carriage, I’ve got myself in the middle, and where did the kids go I don’t know and didn’t really care at all, I was into my stuff, I had lots of things to be done that day. Though now I remembered. And I thought.

I thought, you can really get used to almost anything. You can get used to the fact that every day you stare at the faces of the number of kids who experience down-syndrome. Kids that have to be nursed, watched, be fed and clothed and treated not like a mistake of a human kind, but as a living being that deserved care. That is not their fault they’ve been born that way.

You can get used to the fact that for long months you lay in the trenches full of stagnant water and mud, holding defence of the territory and the bombs fall and explode every thirty minutes, and you are deafened and exhausted, hungry and thirsty, none knows what for. Lost in the battle field and every day you watch your yesterday friends been carried out of the hospital tent and been packed in black plastic bags. And no one knows when will the end of this hell will come.

You can get used to the fact your loved ones are not with you anymore and there is no way you can have them back soon, ‘cause you are separated from them with lands and oceans. You can work hard and dream of meeting them some beautiful sunny day, and that day never comes, and you just get used to it and live on.

And you can get used to the fact that your computer “hangs-on” every time you start it, but you have no time to call a technician to fix it or to do it yourself. The computer “hangs” and “hangs-on”, like a war criminal on the gallows pole, for weeks, and you get used to it and keep on going with it, with downloading easy programs for hours, and it eats your time, eats your patience, your sense of confidence. Though you get used to it.

And you also can get used to the fact that some moron defecates in the lobby of your floor in the apartment house, in the middle of the room, every God given day. No bloody way to get the person and kick his dirty ass, and you catch yourself on the idea that you getting used to it. To this shit. You can press hard on your Residence Manager or Resident Assistant, for they would hire a security officer with a face of gorilla and a grip of a bulldog, and put tracing cameras on the walls to check the situation out. But you just hang on, just like a war criminal on the gallows pole in the middle of the desert where God’s eye is tired to watch and just… say it: You get used to it.

You can get used to anything. It is just that some things are never to be changed, and there are some that could be changed if some effort is applied. Make an effort. Make a difference. And let the Force be with you.


the image was copied from https://kadampalife.org/2016/03/14/accepting-unhappiness-without-panicking/ thanks.

Yes, You Can Write

painFor me writing is like breathing air, just as vital. I started writing stories, poems, connected ideas in my early teens and never stopped.

Also, writing became as easy as breathing air, although I don’t think I took it for granted, because I was always dedicated and practiced writing endlessly. No, I haven’t mastered it, and I still haven’t written a bestseller, but words are laid out easier these days, and ideas come out clearer with less effort. So, if I am asked if I write well, I answer that it’s up to them to decide, but it goes well, and it goes effortless more often than not (I better not jinx myself here).

Having said that now, I must admit I’ve met quite a bit of people who said they cannot write. Cannot write for the life of them. I met the majority of these people in recovery program where I was the counselor and they were the clients, and the conversations were about writing down thoughts, frustrations, resentments, and keeping a diary. I pressed on the importance of letting out the negative, the overbearing and lasting sorrow, as well as desires, ambitions, unrealized plans, and hopes for the future. I suggested to submit all these to paper. I urged my clients to write and keep the positives, to jot down and save the negatives that are good to refer to and compare “then and now” experiences to witness the progress of recovery. I proposed putting down particularly nasty ideas that they’d want to say to others and after all was written down, destroy it so it would be out of mind, out of sight, and out of the room.

And they just wouldn’t do it. They said they would try. They wrote down relapse prevention plans OK, but they wouldn’t write down a diary or destructible material. Because they couldn’t write.

Which struck me as odd. Granted, some people don’t get enough schooling for whatever reason, and then whatever education they did get, they didn’t have a chance to practice it. But people who did get it, they wouldn’t give it a try either.

I carried that in my head for a while, as one of the usual wonders. And I still kept meeting people in recovery, at work or not, that said they couldn’t write like me, although they never read whatever I wrote, because I am really not that famous yet : ) To me, writing is just… what? You take a pen and start jotting stuff down. OK, these days most people type. No problem. You type, adding a word to a word, because you still have to get your resumes and shopping lists done, right? So, you can do that. You come up with an idea, and you just follow up with it, one thought clings to the other, and the tale of whatever you want to discover starts unfolding. It may take you half hour or three days, but something comes out on the paper, or on a digital document from under your fingers and there you go. How hard can that be, I mused, no matter what you write, an essay, a poem, a ten-sentence summary of your life?

And then I had a conversation with a person who had to confirm that all the people I talked to about writing were in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. And she pointed out that people who go through recovery are not there because their life was so great and she reminded me how much does that have to do with childhood and teen trauma. This person said that people who are enslaved by addictive and destructive behavior most likely were talked down to, get bullied, so often in the family when they were young. Statistics prove that. These people were told they (or sometimes they wrongly perceived the message) that they are worthless, dumb, and good for nothing. Many of them would have witnessed terrible and nasty things happened to their family and/or they were taken away from their families. They wouldn’t do good in school, in relationships, at work, etc. How often would they blame themselves to be the reason of what was happening to them? What kind of understanding of self could they get out of that? Whatever skills and talents they may have acquired through the years, they may have given up on them. And if they never were encouraged to seek and develop such skills, they would never come to see themselves as good at anything, including writing down a ten-sentence summary of their life.

I thought about that, how lucky I was to have a better life and being able to put my ideas on something where I can keep them and make sense of my world through doing so. Was I taking things for granted until now?

At least now I think I can understand people a little bit better. And yes, I will still encourage them to write.


the front image was copied from http://www.myniceprofile.com/emo-60059.html. thank you.

Teachable

life startsThe whiskey I quite liked in high school was called Teacher’s. I only tried it twice, but somehow developed love for it, and the memory of that affection somehow remained for two decades. In them days when the cult of Teacher’s whiskey stood strong, I didn’t like teachers, or instructors, or professors. I couldn’t stand school and classes. I was pretty much forced to go to college right after school so that I would avoid serving in the army.

When I’ve quit drinking, I’ve realized studying was becoming easier. I’ve developed more interest in subjects I was studying, and I started having more conversations with my instructors, and hey, I started liking the teachers a bit more.

The more I went through the recovery and life alongside it, the more I was becoming teachable. And that doesn’t mean I was taking shit from those who cared to give it. I’ve learned to listen and keep listening even if I felt like I really had to say something, to support or to oppose the speaker’s point of view. I’ve learned to retain and analyze what I heard or read, and to recall situations that may have had something to do with what I’ve just learned. I’d see the patterns between the past and the present, and if it called for it, I’ve allowed myself and often forced myself to learn from the mistakes I’ve made.

I would never have stayed sober even for a year, hell, for a month, if I didn’t listen to a group of strangers in the strange room one summer evening. They taught me something that I’ve never considered would work. I had nothing better to propose, so I pondered the lesson they taught me and took it to heart to act on it. What followed was the path of hard work of changing my lifestyle and attitude to the world around me, but with that I’ve acquired freedom and true joy from living that I didn’t have much of prior to that.

After I graduated with the three-year college degree that thanks to my alcoholic adventures took ten years to receive, I went to school two more times and the last time I somehow managed to graduate with honors. I am still amazed by that one. But I kept learning outside of school as well. I learned from the things the strangers kept speaking in the recovery meetings.

One day I learned about creating a healthy routine that started with making your bed every morning. Having that done would mark one accomplishment on the map of the day even when I really didn’t want to go and get things happening. I proceeded with creating more of a healthy routine and that keeps me in check and my mind clear.

Another day I was walking my dog in the neighborhood by a wall with a graffiti on it that said “Life Starts When You Say Yes.” I will be honest, I resented that one. It was in bright colors and it read too optimistic even for my liking, like a person who smiles all the time to the pointed you’re considering punching them in the teeth. Yet the more I passed by that graffiti, the more I pondered the message. I realized that it rang very true in almost everything in my life. I’d see a challenge, either stumble on it or see it passing by, and when I accepted it, interesting and positive things started happening. So today I’m writing about it. I must have allowed myself to accept being teachable one more time.

The message is kind of smells of making a new year’s resolution and I’m not making one, haha. But I think what I’m doing is I’m giving myself a very feeble promise to keep trying new things when I face them. New stuff, different things, man, I can’t stand that. Something in me just revolts in situations like that. But… It’s like you’re in a training for work with a bunch of people most of whom you don’t know and then they ask you to join in groups and discuss stuff at hand, and write stuff down on posters. Each time that moment comes, I hate it. And yet when we do get in groups and share experience and possibilities, it almost always comes to interesting ideas and good conversations. I should remember that.

Sometimes I feel like I have grown into an old and conservative fellow. But I remind myself that I can be teachable when I want to, and sometimes I really have to be teachable when I don’t want to. The last time I did that, the universe has saved and changed my life for the better (see the written ramble above). So I gonna keep trying to say “yes” more often than in the past.


the rights for the artwork in the provided image belong to the unknown street artist. thank you.

bravery

80a898dac48e313dfc891418ea61b4faWas it an act of bravery when you gave up drinking?”

“I never really gave it up,” she said. “That isn’t how alcoholics do it. They can’t do it that way. You employ a lot of sideways thinking instead. One day at a time, easy does it, live and let live, all that. But the center of it is this: you give up believing you can control your drinking. That idea was a myth you told yourself, and that’s what you give up. The myth… What I do – what we do – to keep away from the first one… it’s not that kind of bravery. In spite of movies like The Last Weekend, I think what we do is pretty undramatic.”

Stephen King, Library Policeman, 1990

The first time I read this story I was in ninth or tenth grade and didn’t start drinking yet. I tried it on more than a couple occasions, yes, but I had not even come to buy it or have been to a single drinking party. So, I don’t even remember reading this chapter where the protagonist Sam meets the couple of people who turn out to be problem drinkers and who he’s yet to find out are going to cooperate with him to beat the ultimate evil of Eternal Librarian and Sam’s greatest fear, the Library Policeman. I don’t remember alcoholics or the candy that Sam used to beat the evil, so to speak, but I do remember getting freaked out a bit. After all, Sam’s greatest fear came from a very real situation of being raped by a person in position of power, something he denied has happened to him for decades. Thankfully, he didn’t become alcoholic himself to deal with that experience.

When I read this book again earlier this year, the above passage struck me between the eyes. It is always kinda nice and kinda freaky for a bit to come upon something you’ve missed in the process in the past. It happened to me writing a story 17 years ago about a problem drinking who eventually dies from it, and not realizing that I wrote a cautionary tale to myself.

I always respected Stephen King for his writing, freaky or not, but I came to respect him more after finding out he had a serious drinking problem and addiction to prescription pills, and that he was brave enough to come through by joining self help groups like AA and kept going forward after that, keeping his family and keep writing great books. His writing about problematic behaviors, family violence, and addiction in his scary stories always made more freaked out because I could feel the real terror of it. The real horror is not the ultimate evil with fangs and bat wings, it’s what people do to each other.

And the real bravery and relief is learning that people do get through those experiences and still manage to have a good life after, learning from trouble others cause and from their own errors.

p.s. as for The Last Weekend movie, I think I wrote it before, maybe I should revisit it one day 😊


the image of Stephen King’s face made from the covers of all his books is amazingly done and an amazing idea and it was copied from https://za.pinterest.com/pin/533676624577675719/. thank you.

 

Un#@%*able

yoda“Make it unfuckable.”

Those were the words of my boss, the chef from the catering place where I worked 15 years ago. I think it was the first time I heard him swear. He also was very particular about washing hands for 30 seconds in hot water before putting apron on and on his breaks he meditated on the floor in the office.

The particular situation when the phrase was pronounced took place while he was instructing me how to do chicken kebab, laying a grand bowl of raw meat in front of me. He told me about salmonella poisoning and made sure I wore gloves and didn’t puncture myself in the process. “Make it unfuckable,” he said.

(Having said that, I’d like to point out that this post is not exactly about making kebab, although considering that gods work in mysterious ways and we know nothing about that, it just may be.)

It appeared to me that what my boss cared most about was me. Sure, he cared about the meal was done right, but he surely didn’t want to deal with any liability that my messing things up could cause. So, he cared for me and so he made sure I did things right.

When I came to recovery rooms to get my life together, I wasn’t told or advised to make things unfuckable for myself. I’ve already fucked up plenty before coming over, and everybody knew I did, otherwise I wouldn’t be coming into the room full of strangers, announcing I needed help, would I?

It went without saying that I may mess up again. And it was OK. I mean, nobody really likes messing up. We all want to be winners. But crap happens. And if we did mess up in recovery, our brothers and sisters in the fellowship would tell us: “Keep coming back” which, I think, means “It’s OK to mess up. After all you are a human, not a god or a superhero. Just do your best to learn from the mistake and try again.”

Still though, I kept trying to make it unfuckable. I remembered all of my relapses prior to joining the said recovery fellowship and they weren’t pretty. I never wanted to have them in my life again. I stayed sober for all that time, but I also quit smoking, and I did give into cigarettes a couple of times. Out of three times, two were at the same place with the same people, but that was not a place or the people that I could walk away from. I just kept, as they say, counting my blessings, and walking straight and watching my step all I could.

I never wanted to say that I am coming back. Granted, shit happens, and it could happen to me, just like disasters and accidents happen. Yet I made sure that I keep my part working smooth and watch what I was doing, so in case it did happen, it wasn’t on me. Otherwise, I’d be making excuses all the time, and that’s so easy.

I kept going to meetings, and I kept writing about recovery. Then I found a job at a place that served the disadvantaged population with a place to sleep and helped people with substance abuse issues to turn their life around. That was the best thing for me, because it kept me paid and it kept me sober.

I started writing about recovery, first a diary, then a blog. I went on writing about that, and sometimes did that for the guys in recovery at work. Helping them, I helped myself. I kept it that way and still do, although the amount of people in recovery that I communicate with lately is smaller, due to a different nature of my work and to a growing level of isolating, I think. Excuses, hey?

Unfuckable. That’s how I want it to be. So far it’s been good, and so I want it to keep going. Thanks all for keeping me on the track.

… and I don’t know if he really said that but

einst

 

_______________

the images were copied from https://www.reddit.com/r/STAR_WARS_LAST_JEDI/comments/7k2270/the_greatest_teacher_failure_is_yoda_d/ and https://www.amazon.com/Einstein-Failure-Progress-Motivational-Poster/dp/B01NABXWB5 . thank you.

Embracing Escape

escape-roomsYou have a 1) right to remain silent

And a 2) responsibility to yourself to be happy

But no one tells you that

Unless you get arrested

Or see a counselor.

People often get too close for comfort

And so do the activities and expectations

They invent and implement.

Life gets too weird, stability – chaotic

Advertisements of good life become propaganda of fairytales.

The only escape possible is rebellion against social norms

Because normality appear extinct,

Insanity with a friendly smile seems to rule the world,

So much of truth that don’t make sense.

Looking for an exit out of the maze

Of what is presented as the only happy and responsible way of life.

Pain of the mind is so grotesque and massive,

No care seems able to cure it.

You’re embracing the possibility of running away

“Woe to the blind!” you think. “My fate will be different!”

Substance intoxication of exciting behavior are the only ways out that you’ve found.

When you’re trapped in an illusion that substances or dreams will set you free,

It feels like there is not much to lose but indifference

Fairytale wins as your body and mind rot and spirit is enslaved

So, no escape truly happened.

The only true escape is dying to the world of false values and pretences,

But what takes a big fight to understand is that freedom from substances and behaviors

Is in surrendering to the captor and the advertiser

Refusing to struggle is the way to win.

It may sound absurd, but it works.

Substance temptation withers as you live free longer.

The world’s grip on your mind still lives

Though good news is you have a 3) right to be true to yourself:

Wisdom is to not-giving-in to what everyone loves.

It doesn’t make you weaker or weirder, just stronger and smarter.

Here’s something to choose: be like everyone else and perish as a sick trapped digit in a crowd,

Or listen to what your heart sings for your path having in store for you.

Kingdom of chaos and absurdity, declared as normalcy, stands strong.

Make no illusions – the world hates you for exercising your 4) right to be different.

The world is afraid that you have your own opinion,

That you will to make things work for you in your own way.

Healthy choices are hard to make with years to come

Because temptations of bad lifestyle are everywhere, often disguised as good ones.

Ask for help and guidance – your heart and spirit will know when to listen to the right answer.

Wise whisper will pave the road amidst the chaos you once fought and worshipped simultaneously.


the image was copied from https://www.picktime.com/scheduling-software/escape-rooms thanks.

Veiled Opportunities

notexitThere are all these signs. On the walls, on buses, on TV, in the papers. Some good ones, some better ones, some crappy and misleading. And many deep ones, many that make you think and wonder. I saw a new one at the work place weeks back.

“Things don’t happen to you. Things happen for you.”

Talk about deep ones, hey. How does that wise vase work?

Crap happens. Loss takes over. Tragedies crawl in and linger. Abuse of all that feels good and/or should stand strong and untouched breaks through and demoralizes. The dark suffocates the light and there seems to be either no end of misery or no sense of why would it ever happen, whether to the good people, or to the people in general.

Really, why? Well, hell knows, someone would say. Shit just happens. Or…

One very smart, but not very happy German said once “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Then a fictional villain extraordinaire paraphrased: “what doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.” But whoever posted the “happen for you” sign was way ahead of these two, or simply learned from them. Isn’t it more smart to be positive about things that wallow in infinite grieving and self-pity? Yes, grieving is important, but to keep swimming in the black lake, never allowing yourself to come on shore? I don’t think so.

So… things don’t happen to you. OK, I understand that some things do happen to you, disasters and death of loves ones, that seems too much and too great to see anything positive in, but still… things happen for you. To overcome. To learn something. Maybe not right away, because the pain is too much. Yet still, you and I and them, we learn how not to give up, how to stay on and not exit, how to cope, and a mass of time may pass and then we look back…

Yes, we look back and we see the wisdom, sometimes harsh truth, but if we take it for what we saw it before, that sharp punch of doom that knows no mercy, then we will learn nothing but that gods hate us. And if we did try to overcome, if we wanted it, and we looked for a better time, if we (important word) allowed us to have a better time for ourselves, then we will see the things for what they are, the possibly veiled opportunity to benefit from. And we will learn even better. From a mistake, or from a tragedy that wasn’t caused by us, or from a strange event that made no sense, and we will move on. And we may get way better. The crap that happened has done so for our good. I know you don’t like that perspective. I used to dislike it a lot, and who knows what else is coming my way. And yet, it is usually all good. I just have to give it time to see it in a different light.


the front image was copied from https://www.homedepot.com/p/12-in-X-8-in-Plastic-Not-An-Exit-Sign-PSE-0091/206873504 and altered by me. thank you

Lonely Not Alone

crowdJohn looked for an easy way out

Steven looked for love, too embarrassed to say a word to display his need for it

Mike waited for a stranger to say “hello” first

George had the want that overpowered the need and couldn’t tell the difference

John, and Jack, and Mike, and George are the same person

But he is too frustrated with the mediocrity of his life to be just one self.

He became aware of the limitations and failures

But wouldn’t act to improve the condition.

He became lonely way before becoming alone.

He blamed others for something that was only in his power to alter.

He sees life as survival and living as existence,

Joy is being flushed out.

He’s feeling deserted in a crowd of people

With no hope in sight on a sunny day

He listens to the air move around the room,

Concentrating on breathing,

Thinking that meditation is key to happiness,

That communicating with others is too much work.

He starts doubting self,

Starts reading self-help books.

He met a girl, bored her to running for her life

So, he committed himself to a mental hospital.

Four walls feel friendlier than life with responsibilities.


the image was copied from https://www.flickr.com/photos/127972570@N06/34202407680 thank you.

Rain People

rainSo, I changed jobs recently and now work directly in the field with people who have serious mental issues and because of that their independent life is limited to zero. It’s a challenging job, even compared to what I used to do before, which was similar, but now the level is more acute. It’s a good challenge for me to stay objective and caring in the face of the intensity of the issues these people experience on 24/7 basis.

Some of my patients are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and this is something I have never worked with / faced before, except for hearing some stories about family members of one or two of my friends or classmates. And then there was this movie.

I watched Rain Man for the first time when I was 13, I think. And I thought it was funny. Well, up to about ¾ of it. And then it started to get more emotional, and I thought it was a great drama. It challenged something in me, and it felt good. But when I watched it again, I thought it was funny, again. The way Ray acted/behaved, it was hilarious. It became one of my favorite movies.

“Are you taking any prescription medication?”

“What?!”

“That means he likes you.”

Up to that point I watched the movie and for many years after I haven’t met people with any kinds of mental disorders, and I never heard of autism and of what it does to people. I had no family members who had a mental illness. I knew no friends who had it either. If I saw a person on a street or on a bus who was exhibiting a strange behavior, which was rare back in Russia, I just told myself they were “not all there,” and I just stayed away and didn’t make eye contact.

So, Ray The Rain Man was funny. To me he wasn’t one of thousands of people in the world afflicted with a debilitating disorder. He was just one unique fellow from a movie. Good story. Funny movements and peculiarities.

“Hey Raymond, am I using you? Am I using you, Raymond?”

“Yeah.”

“Shut up! He is answering a question from a half hour ago!”

Time passed. I finished school, changed work places, battled addiction, and came to work at a downtown city homeless shelter where I witnessed people behaving in every way imaginable. There was addiction, grief, loss, behavioral issues, and there was mental illness at all stages experienced by people from near all walks of life. I worked at that field and some other similar ones for over ten years. Around the time I started that journey, my brother started experiencing serious issues which were eventually diagnosed as the bipolar disorder.

Now, as I said earlier, I changed jobs again and now work with folks, among whom there are people diagnosed with autism. And though it hadn’t happened before, on the second day of working there, I recalled Rain Man movie. The scenes from it started jumping out at me. I was amazed how little I knew about something that I was directly dealing with. So often I had no idea how to be of help to my patients, sort of glad that I was not a nurse or a doctor.

“What is the issue?”

“He lives in his imaginary world.”

“OK, but are there any issues?”

So, I went and bought the movie to watch it yet again, because it’s been a long while. Had a great time watching it, but it didn’t feel the same. I mean, it was still fun, but it wasn’t hilarious anymore. Now that I have experienced, from a spectator and mental health worker point of view, the tiny bit of what people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder go through, there wasn’t as much roaring laughter out of me as it used to be. I then knew he was not a peculiar funny guy. He was one of so many rain men and women who were terrified of the world around them if one small thing was altered, rules changed, new people appeared. Ray as played by Dustin Hoffman was the person with a high functioning form of autism, but in my eyes, he still suffered, which is something I didn’t realize for a very long time.

“Raymond, do you know what autistic is?”

“Yeah.”

“You know that word?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you autistic?”

“I don’t think so. No. Definitely not.”

Still, I had a great time watching it and telling my partner who watched it with me about my few experiences at work regarding the behaviors Ray was exhibiting on the screen.

This time the movie has taught me something else about mental health and people. We’re all vulnerable. We are imperfect, and we hate to show it. We can be affected by events out of our control so often and so quick. And this movie, although I didn’t realize that for a long time, showed me that. The fragile sides of human personality. The sides that push away our inner desire to be caring for others. And that when we don’t understand something, we laugh at it. That laughter can be endearing, but it could be hurtful, especially if one misunderstood stranger is faced with a group of the ones not in the know. Now because I know how addiction affects mental health, I can understand how people can feel when they are ostracized, laughed at, shamed, and persecuted for something they have no power over.

Thank you yet again, Levinson/Hoffman/Cruise team. I learned something again. And thanks for the laugh again, but with no roar this time.

“Well, Raymond, aren’t you more comfortable in your favorite K-Mart clothes?”

“Tell him, Ray.”

“K-Mart sucks.”


Quotes used in the post are from the movie, tracked by memory or copied from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095953/quotes/?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu . Front image was copied from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095953/?ref_=tt_mv . thank you.

 

Awakening

vestido1Soiled mattress.

Bed creaks every time he makes the slightest turn.

Light bulbs are broken, so at night darkness is absolute.

Window panes are broken to open no more,

Glass is gone, wind blows in uninvited at all times.

Ceiling leaks, cold blobs hit him on the head,

Waking him up in shivers.

Wallpaper shouldn’t be called that anymore,

“Nightmare of a stained paper in ribbons” is more appropriate.

How can he live like that?

What kind of a person could ignore

The glaring signs of such disgust and stagnation.

What a disaster of existence that is!

 

I looked at that and shivered,

But not in repulsion.

More of recognition.

I forgot that I used to live like that

Not physically, perhaps, but in my mind.

Stagnation of thinking and reasoning was my unconscious motto.

I used to poison myself with things that I believed made me well,

That helped me escape reality and emotional pain,

And so I lived in a dump of a mind,

Disaster of a belief,

Brain room with leaking ceiling and stained walls shred into ribbons,

Sleeping in a soiled bed that creaked loudly and annoyingly

Each time I turned.

Every once in a while, I would wake up from that sleep

That felt eternal, oblivious to reality,

And I looked at what I found myself at,

Terrified, refusing to believe

What have I got myself into on a seemingly permanent basis,

And scared of the truth of it, I’d shut my eyes

And try to sleep some more,

Resisting reality, closing my eyes on the self borne insanity.

 

It’s a miracle that one day I woke up and stayed that way.

I could no longer breathe in the stench

Of my own mental decomposition,

Could no longer fail to see

The almost complete destruction of sense and equilibrium.

I stopped making peace with enslavement.

Stopped letting the fairytale sooth me for another day.

It’s a miracle that I still stay awake.

My room is clean now.

The bed is fixed, and I do laundry regularly.

I fixed the windows and changed the wallpaper.

I will not let the lie win.

I don’t allow myself fall into forgetting what I am

And how I can so easily fall into a trap

Of embracing the escape from balance.


image was copied from https://blog.flaviomarinho.com.br/jovem-posta-foto-de-vestido-provocante-mas-bagunca-de-quarto-rouba-a-cena/ and mangled by me. thank you.