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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Creauture From the Shrunk Lagoon

Never thought I’d be the lifelong shrinkage type.

Don’t you have to be Woody Allen levels of neurotic for that? 

Or have some big fat issue with a name -- like Bipolar Disorder?

Mebbe you need to be famously, tragically unstable, like Marilyn Monroe?
“The nicest thing for me is sleep, then at least I can dream.”
How ‘bout a combo of Nixonian paranoia and insecurity?

Or simply be all one percenter kinds of rich because therapy’s expensive, indulgent shit. Right?

No, no, no, no and not necessarily.

This all began after my first surgery at the not so tender yet still sorta delicate age of 23. Being diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 was a real blow. My cousin Carmel (who chose to die instead of fight the Nf2) was all ‘Don’t tell Stan or any beau -- they’ll leave!’

Yeah, beautiful -- I’m totes unlovable now and will die alone, painfully and possibly in a gutter OR in my parents small, backward, Western Pennsylvania town. Same thing (in my mind, at the time, it surely was).

Stan and I did split up and he did leave while I was in hospital BUT, truly, we should have broken up months earlier. His timing just sucked Creature From the Black Lagoon wang.

Where this left our now half bald, scarred hero (me!) is here -- not knowing what the future held but feeling certain it wasn’t gonna be pretty. The present sure as fuck wasn’t nice. I lived in a dark, basement apartment behind Fenway Park. All my friends had been Stan’s buds so *poof* gone (or so I’d erroneously imagined). The print shop where I worked had been sold so I was soon to be out of a gig which meant my health insurance was gone too -- which meant that I'd be holding the bag for tens of thousands of buckos for that recent bit of scalpel magic. And, the capper, I was gonna lose all my hearing (at the very least) and there was no way to know when that would happen. It could be tomorrow or next year. I never imagined I’d have two more decades of hearing.

The point here (you just knew I’d get to it, didn’t you?), I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. Seriously, I’d be on the Red Line, heading home from work, and the water works would commence. It was pretty uncontrollable. Dunno who suggested it but I found a shrink through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.  Payment was on a sliding scale so I was able to pay what I could afford, which wasn’t bloody much.

At first I couldn’t speak. I brought in drawings and told the wonderful lady ‘this is how I feel.’ We’d go from there.

Therapy and painting were my tools for battling out of that very dark, sad pit.

So, why do I still shrink? I’ve got The Amazing Bob, Saint Jen, the always calm Oni, my wonderful Helen, tremendous sister Celeste as well as a mega huge ton of other pals who’ll listen and help me work through the Okefenokee Swamp of my emotions.


It helps to talk through shit with an impartial other -- someone without a dog in the fight, so to speak. Yes, yes, yezzzz, I can do a lot of the hard work on my own BUT talking it all though with Janice isn’t just helpful -- it’s calming and focusing. Oh yeah, and she's wicked prescient too. She doesn't tell me what to think, feel or do. Nope, she referees my brain's warring factions and shines a light on the big hot mess.

Some folks go for a massage once a month, sit in a sauna a few times a week, hit the shooting range, golf, climb rocks, watch TV, dance. I talk to a woman who really isn’t much of a stranger anymore.

Whatever works.

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