Who are You? Who, Who, Who, Who?bydinkleberry©
Edited by femadorer
I know there's a place you walked
Where love falls from the trees
My heart is like a broken cup
I only feel right on my knees
I spit out like a sewer hole
Yet still receive your kiss
How can I measure up to anyone now
After such a love as this?
-- Who are you? Written by Pete Townshend, performed by The Who
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Every time I look in the mirror I see the same face looking back at me but I always wonder, 'Who is that person looking at me? Who are you? Just who the fuck are you?'
I am not a hero, nor a role model. I should not to be admired, commended, or respected. I am not courageous, nor brave. The best that can be said is that I am lucky and a survivor. I not even a good person. I've hurt a lot of people, too many people both physically and emotionally -- often not even apologizing for the carnage I've left behind. In fact, I've walked away from the wreckage without even feeling bad for those I've damaged. No, I'm not a good person but I'm working on becoming one.
If there are any heroes in my life, it's been my family. They've endured years of my insanity without turning their backs on me. My family members are human and thus not perfect. It's only now that I can realize the trauma my parents suffered as they watched their daughter. Yet every time I got out of jail, rehab or the psych ward they let me back into their house. Only now do I grasp how hard it was for my mother and the guilt she borne. While my father always visited me at whatever institution I was at, often dragging another family member, my mother couldn't always withstand the sight of her daughter in such places. I only now comprehend how devastating it was for her.
Yet every time I came home to start over again she hoped this was time I got it right and would do everything she could to help me. Someone once said that my "mother is a hard woman to like and an even harder woman to love." That person was my dad yet he did. My mother can be harsh, judgmental and critical but only mom was allowed to condemn me. She'd turn her wraith on any other family member who dared to whisper, "I'm not surprised" or "again?" when learning of my latest fuck-up.
My sister and I haven't always been lovey-dovey with each other. Still I remember the day she bared her fangs on my behalf. Unlike me, my sister was a golden girl and now enjoys the deserved benefits of graduating from an Ivy League college. She and her husband live in a nice part of Manhattan in a very nice apartment. Fresh from a trip to a detox program, I was visiting her and her husband. They went in the kitchen and he expressed concern about leaving me unsupervised in their living room. Boy did my sister chew him up one side and down another, only then did she rip him a new one. All while I sat in the living room uncomfortably hearing it all. The lesson being my sister can say what she wants about me, and does, but don't you dare do the same. [The goes with my brothers.]
The other heroes are the doctors who upon finding me broken, unlike Humpty Dumpty, were able to put me back together again both physically and mentally. These doctors did more than just their job. I've had plenty of doctors who were just doing their job and did a great job at it. No these doctors went the extra mile. The surgeon who put my hand back together was the one who pursued, and made sure, that I go to one of the best psychiatric program in the country and while there that I get the psychiatrist he knew and trusts. The psychiatrist would then fight to ensure I started working with the psychologist I needed, not the one on my treatment team and that he normally works with. He had to fight hospital policy to get that done. Then there is that psychologist. What can I say about him besides he saved me from the most dangerous person in my life -- myself.
My girlfriend, who we'll call HarleyQuin after that great Batman character, will tell you she's not a hero either. She got on board less than a year ago after all the destruction and mayhem. She'll also admit that she would not have endured all the pain and suffering, that she would've cut the cord a long time ago. She's told me that if I wish to go down this road again it will be without her. This isn't a threat to keep me on the straight and narrow. It's a warning that she has to preserve herself because she can't and won't suffer what others have.
I was born on January 1, 1985. My mother says I had the courtesy to wait until late in the evening and when I was ready to come out, I was ready. Less than two hours later, I arrived kicking and screaming. Another ugly, bald baby and a plague upon the world. (My mother also says it was the last courteous thing I've done.)
Due to the vagaries of European history, I am a mongrel of uncertain nationality. My father's side of my family were originally fishermen from near St. Petersburg, Russia. However, after the Bolshevik Revolution it was explained they would be fishing 'for the people' and so wouldn't be getting paid for their efforts. With this information, my father's family and many others realized that the fishing might be better on the other side of the Baltic Sea, which conveniently happened to be Finland. From there they, of course, naturally immigrated to New York City.
My mother's side of my family are a band of gypsies that had mostly settled in southern Spain. With the outbreak of the Spanish Revolution and the resulting anarchy, like many others, they decided now would be a good time to visit Morocco and not return. And so with an ironic twist of fate, I am considered both Moroccan and even of Arabic descent although I don't have a drop of blood of either. My mother's troupe of gypsies along with others settled and set-up shop in Tangier, where they stayed to themselves. Of my parent's children, I am the only one who has my mother's raven black hair, pale white skin and ice-blue eyes.
Born and raised in the greatest city on Earth I still live there, the city of Brooklyn, New York. I'm the third of four children, yet I never felt like a middle child. My older brother is 5 years older and my sister four, but as a nerdish bookworm, she skipped a grade. That put my brother and sister in the same grade and somewhat in competition with each other. Although having to live in the same room, my sister and I never get along -- perhaps because she's too much of a snitch. My older brother was my idol and as a kid I would follow him and his friends everywhere's. I would cling to them like a dinkleberry and when they started calling me Dinkleberry I felt I had arrived. It would be DearOldDad who would shorten it to Dink. [While we all called my father DearOldDad, pronounced as one single word, we also referred to him as DoD.]
If I was an 'Oh shit' surprise, then my younger brother was even bigger 'Holy Shit' surprise. Born four years after me, he's essentially nine years younger than my older siblings. My older brother and I welcomed his arrival, as he was the new 'Golden Child' much to my sister's ire and our delight. However, by the time he was six my older brother and sister were in 10th grade and what 10th grader wants to deal with a kindergartner? While I am my older brother and sister's lil sister, I am my younger [but sure not little] brother's big sis.
After surviving childhood on the streets of Brooklyn, three things would come to define my life: Heroin, mental illness and sex -- all with a gothic soundtrack playing in the background.
It's been fifteen years since I tried heroin for the first time, yet I still remember that moment so clearly. My drug counselors tell me I shouldn't romanticize those past memories, so I'll just say that after sniffing two matchbook heads of brown stuff I puked my brains out. Then the high kicked in and I discovered the purpose for my existence, that part of me that was missing was found, for the first in my life I was alive. From that day, Heroin has been my ever-present friend, lover and tormentor.
Within a few months to my baptism to true chemical nirvana, I had mastered an improved delivery system. I was now bangin' junk [slang for shooting heroin intravenously] and had found my Savior. Now if you are doing the math and wondering, 'How can a 12 or 13 year old girl afford to be a junkie?' I'll answer that very easily: crime.
At first, I started slingin' dope and loved the fame and glamour of being a penny-ante street hood drug dealer. My brother and sister were becoming seniors in high school, one focused on becoming a Marine afterwards the other focused on being valedictorian and going to an Ivy League school. I kept my parents unaware. I was already a master at hiding things. My parents thought and hoped that Dink had finally started to quiet down and mature.
However being a drug dealer is a time consuming job and burdensome to a lazy junkie. I discovered a new way to make money, much easier and with less effort. No not prostitution, its name was robbery. As a small, thin teenage girl people discovered I made an excellent cat burglar and soon my assets were being utilized to break-in to stores, warehouses, storage units and best of all pharmacies. Did I have any misgivings to my illicit activities? None at all, I was paid in the only currency I cared about: bundles of dope.
Unfortunately, the authorities aren't as good humored and forgiving when a string of pharmacy, and even hospitals, jobs were being reported on the local news. In New York City where there's three sensationalism newspapers [the Daily News, NY Post and NY Newsday] plus the TV stations, when the press wants to create a feeding frenzy they can. So one night after slithering through an airshaft, I dropped into the med room of a methadone clinic only to discover an NYPD detective patiently waiting for me.
Being a 14-year-old white girl proved very fortuitous, along with DearOldDad's fervent involvement, because they were much more lenient with me then my co-defendants. I was charged as a minor and eventually pleaded guilty to a multitude of charges and received a sentence of up to 4 years (which had nothing to do with the fact I would then be 18. In New York State, after becoming 18, or younger if authorities feel it's appropriate, you go to an adult prison to serve the remainder of your sentence.) Off I went to what New York State likes to call the Division for Youth, DFY or colloquially called Reform School.
Would you like to hear that I had an epiphany while at DFY or turned my life over to Christ? Then you are reading the wrong essay. No, I basically survived a 30 month vacation in hell while in DFY but like most Reform School graduates I only came out scarred, bitter and unrepentant. I'm gonna fast-forward here since my character in my submission "The Prodigal Son" experienced the similar endeavors that I did. The only difference is I continued to bang junk but with a job at a local grocery store, I was largely able to support my habit legally.
For the next nine years, I went to college, worked and was a mostly functioning junkie. I would do the rehab shuffle when necessary either for legal reasons, appease someone else, to get off the psych ward or just needed to detox, lessen my tolerance and start over.
Then one day, over two years ago, I realized I'm getting too old for this shit. However, this revelation came while on the psych ward, again, recuperating from another breakdown.
The second leg to my bar stool is PSMI, Persistent and Severe Mental Illness. Forgive me if I use too much technical jargon but a lifetime of mental health problems has taught me more then I'd care to know about mental health.
When I was 8 years old, I started down the road of being crazy or perhaps people just started noticing my madness. The first warning sign was when people in my school began to notice I would leave. I don't think it's too much boasting from me to claim I'm a little above average in intelligence. That plus having an older brother and sister, I was further advanced than many of my second grade peers. At my house, we had to do our homework at the kitchen table. Before I started school, and discovered homework fuckin' sucks, I wanted to hangin' with my brother and maybe my sister. So my mother would have me working on learning my alphabet and numbers.
By second grade, I had already read the Berenstein Bears books and was now struggling to read my sister's non-picture books; in love with Little House on the Prairie, I was trying to read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. My sister and I agreed Little House on the Prairie was awesome and so she'd help me. We received the Daily News and NY Post every day. My parents had a rule, if we wanted to read the comics or sports we had to start at the beginning until we reached what we wanted. With sports in the back and comics in the middle, it forced me to read the whole newspaper, as I was a budding New York Giants, New York Mets and New Jersey Devils fan. DearOldDad was a Rangers fan and I had to be a contrarian to one of his teams. (I'll explain later why I choose the Devils.)
In first and second grade, they don't start separating students. As I sat there with that weird yellow paper, where the lines are each over an inch high, I would do my ABC's and was done. I would get bored and would just leave. Since first grade teachers are busy just trying to get the kids to sit down, stop eating things they shouldn't and stopping the boys from fighting -- they never noticed my absence. Things in the world were much more interesting than the chaos in my classroom, especially when Ms. Pegram would sit at her desk with her hands over her head crying.
In second grade, it was basically the same except my teacher began to notice that I would slip out the door during the peak of bedlam. Notifying the 'powers that be' about my behavior, there was a big meeting with my parents, my teacher, a bunch of other people (one of whom I'd later learn was the school psychiatrist) and me. When asked why I leave class, I told them that I "was bored." Diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I was placed on medication. My first med was a non-stimulant type. I'm sorry, I nor my mom remembers the name of it. There's been so many since.
Thanksgiving, 1993 was a big moment for me in a not a good way. It was the first time (of what would become many) I cut myself. Like my first time of experiencing the majesty of Heroin, I vividly remember the magnificence of my first cut. I'm going to avoid discussing the beauty of cutting because its allure still sings to me. A few months ago, I had a relapse and wrote about it in a non-erotic essay titled, "I Hurt Myself Today."
While my mother mistakenly believed it was me acting out for attention and my sister believed I just wanted to ruin Thanksgiving because I'm "a fucking bitch." DoD realized something must not be right, no more for the fact that his daughter slicing her wrist at the Thanksgiving dinner wasn't right. Two things came from the aftermath. First, my medication was switched to the magic blue and white pill of Ritalin. Secondly, I would go on to cut myself so many times I can't count all the scars.
For the next 17 years, I would battle with my doctors, my family, my illness and most importantly myself. I had as much, if not more, trouble accepting that I have a mental illness than others did. For years, I would say that I had issues or problems. I would say I have mental health problems but no fuckin' way was I mentally ill. Finally, I did come to accept the fact that, yes, I do have a mental illness. I also learned that my illness does not have to define who I am. Yes, I have a mental illness but I am more than mentally ill.
Today the doctors mostly have my diagnosis correct. My Axis I (or primary clinical disorder) is broad spectrum bi-polar disorder with psychotic features. What this means is that I show the full range of bi-polar. I've shown signs of the previously limited diagnosis of manic-depressive where I'm happy, happy, joy, joy then three hours later I'm suicidally depressed. I also have had times where my cycle is spread out over a period of weeks.
My bi-polar can be envisioned as a sine wave flowing up and down, sometimes the waves are tight and with sharp spikes. Other times the wave is more of a stretched out curve with long midpoints but the high and low points are also flattened and extended. The height of the peaks and valleys has nothing to do the sharpness of the curves.
I slowly build up to the manic phrase -- and this phase is the greatest feeling. I'm full of energy, sleep maybe 3 hours, get a lot of things done, think ultra-clear, am sexually ravenous and have low inhibitions. It's kinda like a racecar operating at peak performance.
Unfortunately, it leads to the true manic phase, which my friend it isn't very nice. Now the engine is racing too fast, out-of-control, and can't slow down. Sleep becomes non-existent, I've gone 4 or 5 days without sleep and it's terrifying when you start wondering if you've forgotten how to sleep.
I can also pump my body full of sedatives both legal and illegal to no effect. Most of my OD's came during my manic phases because no amount of dope can slow me down. I've suffered alcohol poisoning because I can drink to oblivion without ever reaching oblivion. My arrests for assaults occur while I'm manic because my already limited tolerance for stupidity is gone. While my inhibitions are gone, my sex drive has shut-off.
I've gotten arrested where I was naked because clothes seemed too confining and then beat the shit out of some poor sap who thought about talking to me. In the manic phase, my thinking goes haywire; no longer can I focus on a topic. I often cannot complete a sentence I'm racing so fast and cannot tolerate how slow and stupid all those around me seem to be.
Feeling invincible, I'll wonder if I can fly like the birds and don't care if I get hurt trying to find out. I once got missed up pretty badly when I thought playing real-life Frogger with me running naked across the Long Island Expressway near the MidTown Tunnel was a good idea.
I'm actually less dangerous to myself when I'm on the downside of my sine wave. First, let me say there's a huge difference between being depressed and depression. Being depressed is a normal, natural feeling especially when reacting to an appropriate situation. Clinical depression used to be called Melancholia and there are times I wish they would go back to that term to differentiate between being depressed and depression.
Depression is a world of difference, it happens regardless of outside conditions. You can't just 'pull yourself out of it' with clinical depression. There are times I know I should be happy but because the chemicals orbiting inside my skull are out of whack I'm lifeless, listless and just dead inside.
I'm usually not too dangerous to myself and others because it would require too much energy. Of the types of depressions, I will usually slip into a Dysthymia type. For me, this type of depression is an extreme case of the blah's that'll last weeks. I just exist, often on autopilot where I'm watching my body go through the motions without experiencing any of it.
I will sometimes drop into a steep and severe enough trough on my sine wave that I will experience what can be diagnosed as Major Depression. This is where I shut down, almost laterally. I just hide in my bed or my closet and stay there for days not eating, sleeping, or moving. I've been hospitalized because I'm in a catatonic state. 3-4 days later, I come back and won't remember anything that happened during those days; or I may know what's going on around me but just don't care. While I may fixate on thoughts of suicide and find these thoughts comforting, to actually do it requires too much energy; although that hasn't always stopped me from trying.