Saturday, March 2, 2013

Seven years. It just dawned on me that seven years ago today I was there. In that place where I know not whether good or bad or both happened to me. Perhaps those lingering ghosts are why I feel like I do right now. But at the same time, in the pit of my soul, I know that’s not the only reason. My hands get too tired to really write anymore. I’ve become so accustomed to typing all day. I love to hold my pen and let words come forward, but it gets to a point where my hands fight me. My fingers tighten and cramp and my letters turn illegible. At least when I type, the letters are clear. The words may be unintelligible, but I know what they are.
And I lied, it wasn’t today. It was tomorrow that marks seven years. IT doesn’t feel like it makes any difference, really. I’m sitting here, in my(our?) room, with Enchant playing through the headphones. It both helps and hinders my thinking. Part of me just wants to go to bed. Or cry. Or both. But It’s only 9:26, and I can’t do that yet. The bed part. 

The moment it dawned on me that I am at that anniversary, those shadows and haunts flooded back into my mind, like they do in my nightmares, and the first time I read the Asylum. Some may seem ridiculous. Others, most might find genuinely terrifying. For a fifteen year old girl who didn’t understand any of it to begin with, the entire thing seems like a surreal dream mixed with blurs of nightmare. 

The day I got there, they locked me in the glass room and made me take a shower in the bathroom that was a small, hexagonal, entirely tiled space. I couldn’t leave my clothes outside because I didn’t want to let the orderlies see my nakedness, but after I shivered through that horror-movie shower, my appointed sweat pants and T-shirt were damp and cold. 

The little boy who couldn’t have been more than 8 years old, locked up with us for trying to kill his mother. The stories he told about it were bone-chilling. He knew what he was planning, what he had done, and this small creature felt no remorse. 

Moving to UNI, the sheer humiliation of having a stranger comb through every belonging I brought with me, and over every inch of my body, making notes of every scar, scab, and freckle. 

Having my books and my notebook taken away. Is it really SO insane to desire escape in literature? They left me with nothing but a golf pencil and an hour a day to write out my demons. 

The heavy acrylic trays we were served “food” on while on Level Red. The only edible thing was the banana, which was protected by its own skin. The rest of it tasted like it was already tinged with bile. 

Unidentifiable shadows in the light, both too dark to see and too light to sleep by. 

Sara’s blood-curdling screams in the middle of the night and the noises she made in time-out. It was not your standard time-out room. There were no padded walls, no straight jackets or restraints of any kind. It was a cement and cinderblock room with a few couch cushions thrown in. The moment the door closed, the screams began again and we could all hear the dull “thump” of her head hitting the wall. Once, I saw the blood on her face when they took her out. 

The only thing worse than Sara’s hours in time out were Stephan’s. He roared to no end, cursing everything. And some moments, his screams sounded like they came from multiple people.

Sleepless nights where we were punished for our grogginess the next morning. Sometimes, in the early hours, we didn’t know where we were.

Nobody would ever accept “I don’t know” as an answer. If we knew, why would we have been there?