All ‘Interlude’ posts will deal with the topic of mental illness. It’s not the main topic I want my blog to have, but it’s all I’ve been able to write, paint, photographe about lately, thanks to my current state of Feeling Like Total Crap. It’s not forever. It’s a between. A bad period which will hopefully be succeeded by a better one, hence the name.
I remember my third foster home telling me: ‘You need to talk about the things that have happened. If you don’t, you’ll get depressed.’ I didn’t want to talk. Actually, it would take over four years from this point before I’d ever let anything out. Sure, I visited psychologists in the meantime, but what did I really tell them? A very brief summary of what had happened in my life, at most. Youth services had my foster care case files, so in my conversations with them, I couldn’t deny something had happened. But since I didn’t trust them, I’d hardly tell them anything. Yes, school sucked. Yes, I was scared of everything. Yes, I wasn’t feeling too happy. So what? Things in my life hadn’t been right since early childhood, so I wasn’t used to feeling anything else than scared and moody. I knew not everyone felt that way, but the possibility of feeling good, or, at least, okay, seemed fake.
Slowly but surely, old memories started bubbling up. I could no longer repress them. I started hearing what had been yelled at me years before. Everyone who came close – both in the literal and metaphorical way – felt like a threat. I could no longer deny that something bad had happened. Something had changed me – and that was the hardest part: Accepting that I had been changed by something I had not asked for. Some possibilities for the future had been compromised. I had, and still have to, accept the fact that I am now living in the after. Although I’m not certain where the line between before and after lies, I do know that before has long passed. And even now, I know that there are things that I’m not aware off. Things that my tiny childhood brain chose to wrap in a trillion layers of plaster; repressed so far I might never fathom what has happened. I know there’s more, but the pictures inside my head have been shot on expired film and developed in a dark room that was never quite dark enough for them to fully develop. Light leaks linger over the truth that I thought I knew.
As I lie in my bed, I feel fingerprints running over my body. I know they’re not mine, but I have no idea whose fingers they belong to. I feel pinches in my tummy, my shoulders do no longer belong to me. I float. My body does not. Everything feels strange. This is an experience I cannot explain to those who have never felt it. It’s scary, but it’s also a defense mechanism. The only escape from feelings that are potentially even worse.
I try to reconize myself in the mirror, but I can’t. The person staring back at me looks familiar, but they can’t be me. Maybe it’s not me on the pictures, either. It’s easier to tell yourself it’s not about you, even when you know it is. You just might fool yourself into believing none of it has happened and although you know the truth will eventually come crashing into you, for now, it does not exist.
But it is me on the pictures. I wish they had not turned out this way, that I had not turned out this way. I wish I was not confined to the after. But I am. At the very least, they are my pictures. I am no longer anyone’s property. I belong to myself. And I repeat, I belong to myself.