life stories

the center of the universe is the brain


After six itinerary changes, five airports and zero sleep, I landed in Anchorage. Somewhat disoriented and mildly displaced I wandered through the house. John asked me questions about what I’d like to eat and I couldn’t answer. Everything felt vague.

I expected this feeling after being away and in a high-stress situation for three weeks. But I also expected the joy of arrival to overwhelm everything. When I saw John, I wanted to cling to him like a silly teenager. I wanted to cry.

For the last 30 hours I’ve wanted to cry. Occasionally my crying muscles contract, my throat clenches, my sinuses fill and I think the dam is going to break. So far it just keeps filling.

The pain of the last few weeks must be greater than I imagine. Numbness set in and memory failed. caregiving isn’t for sissies and I am a sissy.

I expected Mom to need more physical care and that small part of it I could handle, even enjoy as I felt a sense of purpose. I cleansed and re-dressed the open wound on her tailbone. I put lotion on her feet. I even shaved her legs. I felt like I was adding value to her day.

Emotional care was what she really needed and I didn’t then, don’t now, and never will have anything to offer her in that area. Before I went on this journey I prepared my emotional defenses and they held up well. However, now I’m quite certain there was a leak in my armor and there is now a small but lethal toxic waste holding tank deep in my brain and the only way I can be rid of this sense of numbness is to re-process these toxins.

I’ve departed from and re-entered my life on many occasions. When I lived in New York City I went on annual backpacking trips in the Rocky Mountains. Coming back was always a shock. But both the world I lived in and the world I visited were beautiful and joyful.

Now I am trying to re-enter my beautiful and joyful life in Anchorage after visiting a world that is filled with the misery of my childhood, an intense isolation and relationships lost in complete dysfunction. It’s as if there is an oily film over my eyes and nerves and heart. The harder I try to wash it away, the more persistent it becomes.

I wish there was a magic soap, a simple answer, a stronger antidepressent. The only cure is probably time mixed with patient understanding. I thought re-entry would be simple. I thought I was leaving one place and returning to my home and family. But we never truly leave anyplace, anyone or any experience behind.


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