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Butterfly in a Jar
personals [ Journal ]
psychiatric days and other boring days

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
by [cristina-monica ]

2013-02-13  |     | 

I. Steam and smoke covering the small barred window. Drug induced blurred vision. As if chestnut flowers were spreading light like chandeliers, stinging my eyes. I am dressed up, taken out. Rolling harder and harder in the wheelchair around the morgue building. I stare at the brain halves openly floating in big jars on the upper floor window. The trees raise up only half of their crown. Mental home gardeners cut down the rest.

gloomy alley...
crushing chestnut flowers
under my wheelchair

I tried to kill myself a few weeks ago. Now I am in the psychiatric hospital. Wishing I were not so fat. If I weren’t, maybe I could have been spared of losing my left leg. I lay in my bed with the other leg wrapped in plaster bandages. The pain is less intense now, I can endure it. Today they took me out in the hospital’s courtyard. They placed me in a wheelchair and some polite men from the patients’ group raised me up with the chair to pass over the door sill. I took a walk in the garden with a nurse. I felt pain only in my memory’s backbone and in my eyes: so many flowers around, such green grass… I saw the tall chestnuts. I came back and I heard another patient, a woman laughing or calling me “that cripple”. I dislike that. Isn’t she also suffering here, like all the rest? Now it is evening and they will come to give us the treatment. It's strange how the hours pass so quickly here, as if time itself were speeding in a wheelchair, enchained and crippled like me.

II. I remember when I went to see that old drama film „Goodbye Again”, starring my favorite actress Ingrid Bergman. That May-December romance. Usually I arrived late at the cinema, usually I entered there when the lights were switched off, bumping into other men or women standing up on those stairs, together with one of my classmates. It was always his fault, I never learned to be late at a meeting. I was embarrassed. My heart throbbing in the dark like a candle lit in a warm cave. I felt pity for that woman on the screen, victim of others’ misconceptions and abuses, of her own disillusions, needs and desires.

I passed that age threshold. If I were that woman in the story I wouldn’t have fallen in love with a young man, I wouldn’t have accepted to be with him. Because I think that such things are not good. Even if I were beautiful. My heart was always a mother’s heart, never a lover’s sweet hideout. I can still remember the awesome pink magnolia blossoms on a narrow street in my neighborhood and my amazement in front of them. They open wide their secrets before their leaves take charge of the tree.
Like them, I never learned to be late enough.

winter clouds...
bare magnolias
bowing in the wind


III.This moment was bitter-sweet and I can’t comprehend its meaning entirely.

It is the story of a special moment in my isolated and rejected life at my grandma's funeral. She was the mother of my mother, a luminescent figure in my childhood, a hard working peasant woman, a very good cook, knitting and weaving in winter at her wooden loom. Also a constant church attendant. She paralyzed in 1996, before her 68th anniversary, and died a few months after that. Everyone said she was still young. I was near her when she was on her dying bed, I took care of her, helped her eat, talked with her and in a couple of weeks I made her raise in her bed and eat alone with her left hand. She even began to speak a few words. My idea then was to read her prayers from an old prayer book, prayers for suffering individuals. And she listened and memorized, in spite of her state of mind. After two weeks or so I was obliged to leave from there and it breaks my heart to remember that my aunt, who did not know what I had read to my grandma, told me she called me until her dying day with words she remembered from those prayers. She needed me, I became her support then and I could not stay there longer. God is my witness I did everything I could. She died a few days after her 68th birthday, exactly on the birthday of her daughter-in-law, the 13th of July. I went at her funeral with my parents.
One of the happiest moments of my life (happy and sad altogether, considering the occasion) happened that day. I was always treated like the black sheep of the family and even my relatives, not only the rest of the society, avoided talking with me. Yet I tried to smile, to be gentle and to help others, for example that day I helped with the preparation and serving of traditional food for many guests gathered in our courtyard and in the garden. That unforgettable moment happened on that road back from the cemetery to our house. The ex-surgeon N., one distant relative from Sibiu was also there. He was a hospital director in his youth, a renowned doctor, but he became a diabetic and that day his hands were already trembling. He approached me (a thing that usually no one did) and talked to me as if I were a normal person, as if he were sincere and respecting me. I almost cried of emotion because I was kept isolated for such a long time. I don't remember exactly what he told me, what he asked me, but I remember I told him that I am rejected or something like that. He asked me WHY and I said I don't know. I felt his openness and kindness as if he were talking to another human being, while the others never did so in my life. His words entered directly in my heart and my eyes were moist. I was so alone; it was like a bright sunbeam in my palm. He also shook my hand. At the table he asked me why my father acts so cold and unnatural towards me. I was again impressed and I said I don't know.

I kept these memories close to my heart for decades. After a few more years since that day my mother announced me that her uncle, that doctor, had a miserable fate because he died all alone in his house, maybe the same house where she used to play as a child with her cousins (not first cousins) and they were happy children as far as she remembers.
I remembered again the kindness and sincere talking of that man, one of the few real happy moments in my life, the only man that talked with me like that in my life as a psychiatric inmate.


IV. How do I feel sometimes?

chasing the sun on narrow streets
under foreboding clouds,
I drag a mountain in my sandals
resoled nine times,
waiting for the future ten commandments
to govern me

stripping beautiful words
out off my tongue,
third class passenger on a ship of fools,
I am seasick,
leaning over the window
to breathe more easily
in the luggage compartment.

V. How do I feel most of the time?

I feel like that cherry tree,
carrying its heavy load of flowers
in springtime under rain or sunshine;
suddenly men came, cut half of it down
to built another casino on that place.

I feel like that seashore rock,
proud to be standing up to all the storms
for a hundred years or more;
suddenly men came, knocked it down
and made a stairway for them to climb higher.

I feel like that young gentle woman
whose heart was filled with love and compassion,
carrying for others and for mother Earth;
suddenly men came, broke her trust,
dragging down her body and her innocence.

I feel like that old woman,
after raising children and grandchildren,
hoping for a better future for them;
suddenly they came, took her away,
locking her alone in an asylum room.

I feel like a motherless child in a motherless world.
I feel like a childless woman in a fatherless world.

VI. Schizophrenia test (a cinycal dialogue invented by me):

Doctor: Have you ever had hallucinations?
Patient: No, have you ever seen a schizophrenic?

D: Are you a virgin?
P: No, until I meet the right man.

D: Have you heard strange voices around?
P: No, my parrot doesn't speak.

D: Do you think you are a great woman?
P: No, I killed only a few cockroaches, with too much spray.

D: Do you think you are a martyr?
P: No, martyrs are killed in a short time and everyone is happy afterwards.

D: Do you think you should die?
P: No, it is better on the floor than below.

D: Can you forgive others' sins?
P: No, Jesus Christ was better than me.

D: Do you think you have enemies?
P: No, I don't have a hammer drill.

D: Do you love your mother?
P: No, only our feelings are the same.

D: Did you try to kill yourself?
P: Yes, because whatever I asked, others said NO.

Patient: Doctor, what are you thinking now?
Doctor: That you never think.

signed: butterfly in a jar

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