I can take the gloomy days marooned in my head like an abandoned boat house. I can deal with the eternal cloud hanging over my head that makes me Eeyore’s best friend. I have grown accustomed to the hurt: those sorts of imaginary heart attacks that turn my inner chamber into a maniac rock concert attended by punks, high on acid. I can deal with all that. I can find the lesson, the challenge, the opportunity. Like everyone keeps on reminding me, it is only in my mind: the fear, the terror, the claws grasping my throat, the electrocutions that kill me and bring me back to life again, time after time. I am even fashionable now. Depressed, anxious, somewhat paranoid, psychosomatic, suicidal. I am almost a super star in the making -just need to burn myself down after one or two top ten music hits and I’ll live forever.
What? You didn’t think I had enough on my plate?
What else do you want from me?
I take my pills, like a good girl. Exercise at ten, meditate at three, do my CBT journal to use all my mind tools and ask myself, ad infinitum, if the world really hates me or if it just my opinion. I breathe in. I breathe out. I count to four, to ten, to one hundred and seven. I express my feelings, write them down, burn the pages and let them go -go, go, far away. I detach. I accept. I embrace my vulnerability. I ask for help. I humiliate myself as I’m held like half- drown kitten, shivering, screaming, trying to remind myself who I am, that I am, pretending, hoping, praying I will well someday, normal once more, human again, like Disney’s candle stick once said.
I try to be positive. I listen and listen to all this motivational talk, chats on how everyone and their cat have overcome far worse than this, so surely I, too, will reach the heights of triumph and someday give my Rocky speech, my Henry V on Saint Crispin’s day; be one of the happy few, who, old and grey, will look at their scars and smile with pride because I dared, and went for it, faced the foes, ten to one, and somehow, with the power of my mind and sheer will, I escaped the dungeons of my soul and pulled away the scales from my eyes. And I saw the light. And I was okay.
Not yet, though.
Someday, I tell myself.
I affirm myself.
Each day I get better and better.
Except that I don’t.
And then I find lice on my head.
And I know someone has it in for me. Above or below, someone is playing with me, laughing at me, watching me like a favourite soap opera where the damsel in distress never gets a happy end, because that’s not fun, you see. That’s so predictable. This is a radical approach. Or a classical one, perhaps (Ophelia, anyone?) Pain does not stop. Failure only sleeps a while, to make me put my guard down. Someone out there is the Lucy to my Charlie Brown, pulling the football away at each attempt. And I fall for it. Again and again.
I do rationalize this, of course.
We are talking about tiny insects, after all. Not the end of the world. No Syria, no car bomb, no famine. Just me. In the bathtub, watching them wiggle over my wet fingers. Me, of the eternal night. Me, living about phantoms no one sees. Me, choked in my own fear, beaten by all the dark possibilities that fly in my mind like a murder of crows. No biggie. Just two three, five little lice.
And I cry.