Saturday, 29 October 2016

Invisible Quicksands. Roland


 When  I saw Roland for the first time he was freshly admitted for scaring his neighbors… He was walking nervously to and fro in the ward. He was speaking out loud into a walkie-talkie without batteries. 

 He was nineteen years old. He had a nice kid's face, he was tall and slender. Diagnosis: schizophrenia. He asked me to open the door for him. A helicopter was waiting for him in the yard; he had to join his regiment that belonged to the 114th Panzer division. He had to go fight in Lebanon. If he couldn’t go, he would be considered as a deserter and could be shot for that. It was extremely important… 

I could almost see the helicopter but opening the door was out of the question. He had been sectioned: He had been legally labeled “dangerous to himself or others”. Under this status he couldn’t go out of that door, even to go into an enclosed courtyard.



Roland believed he was a kind of hero in the military prevented from performing his duty… a couple of injections and pills later, he had become another self, though not much more himself than previously… He was now a friendly young man with a good sense of humor. He was always looking for his friend Francis.

 Have you seen Francis? Where is Francis? A nurse once answered to him “He’s in his shirt!” It was a way to say that we are not an information agency. "Oh replied Roland, I am looking for shirts then!" He could be witty. 
 
 However, he would get indignant if it was suggested that he should cut his nails himself, or trust a nurse to do this. Only his mother could perform such a task properly. The tentacles of madness do not necessarily smother those they stem from… 

Lieutenant, you’ve got a serious fight to contend with, jump into this helicopter and repel the barbarians! 


  

 

Friday, 21 October 2016

The most ridiculous breakup of my life


Maybe I should now write a few posts about the great catastrophe of my life: my relationships with women...

I will start with the narration of the most ridiculous breakup of my life.

I was living with France (that's not her real name) in the South of France (my native country). We loved each other. We had soul to soul moments, like when you look at each other without saying a word and you burst out laughing - You know exactly why, and you know the other knows that you know, and you know the other know that you knowst they know, but it's not complicated at all, you're just laughing. Such moments are heaven on earth. We had quite a few…
We also got on very well in bed; we loved talking, listening to music, dreaming, going to the little restaurant by the river...

We were tormented though. We made a lot of drama between the heavenly times. France was jealous. The idea of not being loved was branded on her mind... On my side, I felt trapped, imprisoned, smothered as I always end up feeling when closeness happens.
From the depth of our unconscious minds, bubbles of old stuff blew up to the surface of our love, wasting it.

Our common craving for permanent, absolute and safe bliss wasn't assuaged. We were as close to Nirvana as you can be when you know intimately what Nirvana is, because you feel, with intense and precise clarity, that it is not there. And sometimes it is, but on earth everything comes and goes...
If I really loved her, she said to me one day, I would not feel unsatisfied. I have always had bouts of depression and anxieties,... I didn't understand why and how I felt the way I felt when I felt bad... It panicked her.

I wanted to live this great love and at the same time I couldn't accept the idea of being trapped in a single relationship to the point of not being able to love beyond. The idea of being emotionally connected to only one special one, and to refrain from merging with the rest of the world still seems weird to me. Merging is part of my nature. 

I have always wanted to make love with all the fairies, beautiful women, trees and dogs I could be aware of; I have always wanted to make love with all minds and musics, fires and smokes, clouds and whatever floats in the air, with the earth and the rivers, the ondines and the mermaids..
. The beauty of women is an invitation to merge with the whole universe. Women resemble doors to other dimensions... Why should I be allowed to only one door when their multiplicity and variety sounds like a symphony that wants to be heard?
I know. This is not how things work on planet earth…
Neptunian dreams will never die. You may believe you are in love with women for their beauty, as if they were the masters of the magic they conjure up by means of hormones and make up, but it's God who is craved for...

A friend of mine told me he had fough
t hard to convince his long term partner that monogamy was just a bourgeois concept imposed on the masses by Church and State as means of control, and that love and freedom can't be separated. He told me that when he eventually got her to accept that he could make love with other women... the desire of it simply vanished. I am pretty sure that this would have been the case with me as well.
The right to desire whatever we desire is more important than actually getting drunk with other perfumes. I had never been unfaithful to France in reality, only in fantasy. But it showed…
If the person you love demands you not to feel what you feel... Suddenly a gap opens between the two of you.

To be free is essential. I would readily spend my life in a prison cell if this was what made my love happy, but the door must remain open.
When the other wants you to freely want what they want you to want, it is called a “double bind”. It is the road to madness. You can only negotiate about behaviours. Feelings and wants have to allowed to be whatever they are.
France didn't get that. She wanted a fully committed boyfriend with all his cravings in good order, who doesn't even notice other women.
One day we were watching TV, on the sofa, in each other's arms, like when all storms have calmed down. There were advertising clips. A beautiful woman dancing her way through the crowd, free of perspiration smells thanks to a deodorant, appeared on the screen. Suddenly France jumped off the sofa, shouting at me. She told me the rhythm of my breathing and my heartbeat had accelerated at the sight of the deodorized female. I believed I was just bored at the advertising interlude...

Not far from where we lived there was a nudist camp, with a swimming pool. We all went there: it was free! We just had to be naked. The first time I took my pants off under the sun I felt a little bit self conscious, but not for long. Everybody is naked and nobody thinks anything of it, so I quickly got used to the situation and enjoyed the swimming pool.

One day, instead of the nudist camp, we went to friends. They were cultivating organic vegetables for a living, there was basin for irrigation as big as a little swimming pool. We went naked as usual. There was no crowd around. Our friends weren’t there. There were only two very beautiful young women sunbathing, their heads hidden from the sun under bath towels. Apart from the towels, they were as naked as you could expect. France was swimming. I was sitting on the edge of the basin admiring the scenery. The two beautiful women being part of the scenery, I couldn't really help my gaze from lingering about their lovely shapes. Time hadn't had time to wear them out yet. Their breasts were works of the art.
Breasts are fascinating. It's fascinating how fascinating breasts can be. Breasts look like the elixir to all pains. Breasts look like you could get to heaven if you could only eat them. Oh, I know the theory, I have studied! A long long time ago, breasts actually were just that. And they were big, so big because we were so small…

I wonder how women see other women's breasts. Whatever our gender, we've had the same start, haven't we?
"-But he is having a hard on!"

France was shouting. Before I was even aware of any physiological reaction in my body (nothing more than the slight beginning of not much yet) France already knew more about my intimate mood than I did, and it made her very angry. She exploded. She made a big drama, as you can do only when you have an audience. My indictment was wildly and ruthlessly uttered under the sun, in the irrigation basin in the middle of the fields…

It was more than I was able to cope with. I grabbed my clothes and left without looking at the girls. Once home, I packed my things.

Nudism, my dear friends, is good for old people.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Watery Signs Blues


"I am sorry, I didn't have enough time to be brief."
I remember Jean-Charles making a speech for his brother in law's birthday. This was his leitmotiv: "I am sorry, I didn't have enough time to be brief." Marcel Proust wrote these words at the end of a letter to a friend. Jean-Charles kept repeating them as he conspicuously enjoyed speaking at length about the art of being brief. 

Jean-Charles' and Marcel Proust's star sign was Cancer (as is my rising sign) I don't know why the sign "Cancer" is not straightforwardly called "crab" given that it is symbolized by a crab, which is a creature that walks sideways. A crab is a typical rambler, as Jean-Charles and Marcel Proust were, with great talent.

(Jean-Charles, by the way, was the husband of my ex-partner's aunt, on her mother's side, and he was making this speech for his wife's sister's husband, but this husband of my ex partner's mother, even though well loved, was not her father)

A crab, or a Cancer, needs to go round and round in circles and circles. It can't reach its goals without knowing everything about the environment, unlike an ultra straightforward Aries, who will reach the goal and find out about the context afterwards. A Cancerian individual may take more time to get where they want to get, but he or she is less likely to get killed by their own goals. I don't say this to criticise, we need kamikazes in this zodiac after all. As for me, Neptunian by my Sun, the universe is the goal, therefore I am at risk of rambling for a while all around the zodiac... 

”Sorry” said Marcel Proust to his friend at the end of a long letter,” I didn't had have time to be brief...”
One day, Jean-Charles died by drowning. He liked fishing. He spent a lot of time during his life pulling fish out of their natural environment, where they could breathe at ease in their own way. One day his car slipped on a muddy path, he was making a reverse manoeuvre as crabs do, the car overturned and fell into the water. He was trapped inside. It must have been a difficult moment to live, unless the adrenaline or any other chemical produced by the brain made it a completely different experience than the scary one we imagine when we dare to try putting ourselves in the dead man's shoes.

Jean-Charles' rising sign was Scorpio, as I am by my Sun. Doesn’t death suit a Scorpio well? When the idea of dying becomes as scary as imagining yourself trapped in a car that has fallen wheels up into muddy waters (how long does it take before all the air is gone?) then our mortal condition becomes so unbearable... So unbearable that it's called Anxiety and is considered a mental health problem. When the imagination becomes so vivid, then the need for another way of being comes up. A need for the certitude that at the bottom of the pool there will be a door opening. Will there be one?

If we are spirit, being a little fish suddenly eaten alive by a kingfisher or a fisherman pulled into the the water by a fish wouldn't be more than some peak of intensity in the great dance of transformation... Can we take refuge there and be safe? Can we reach the 12th house alive?

Sorry, I didn't have time to be brief...

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The fish on the sink


Dear unknown friend,

Where were you?

I was a little boy, maybe 8 years old. I had a great admiration for my uncle Raymond. He always arrived late for Sunday lunches when the family was gathering at my grandparents. Instead of wearing dull and stiff Sunday clothing, he turned up in sportswear, sweating and went for a shower. From the point of view of a little boy who would be sternly told off for being two minutes late this meant great freedom.

Raymond was a fisherman. I was fascinated looking at the big fish he brought and left to die a slow and distressing death on the kitchen sink. They were barbels and so full of bones that my grandmother never prepared them.
It takes hours for a fish to die. Paying close attention I could feel the exhaustion that squashed them and kept them quiet whilst the agony of being out of the water slowly built up enough strength for just another hopeless spasm… Flap! Flap flap! …. And they were quiet again, though I knew they weren’t dead and I somehow felt how they felt. 



I was bewildered by the complete indifference of the family to the intense suffering that was going on in the kitchen. They were eating and talking as if nothing, it was Sunday, they had been to mass…. You know, mass: Christian values, stories of heaven and hell, or being good, of Jesus multiplying fish and dying a slow and painful death because of our sins...

It didn’t occur to me to protest or express anything about how I felt about these fish. I didn’t occur to me that feelings could be heard. It didn’t occur to me that I was a fish. One day I insisted enough to be given the smallest one, a little carp that could fit in a jar. I brought it back at my parents’ home at night. The poor saved fish was put in a yellow plastic bathtub in the cellar where it could swim. I had a feeling of great isolation at looking at this fish, alone in an environment reduced to yellow plastic walls. But there was water, and I liked the animal…
A few weeks later we went on holidays. Sitting behind in the family car on the way South, I suddenly remembered the fish. I thought we would take it and put it in a river before going, but I had just forgotten. I asked my parents to go back home for the fish. They didn’t want to.

Several weeks later, I would find the fish, dry, laying on the concrete, two meters or so away from the plastic bathtub.

It had jumped. I imagined the immense distress a fish might feel, all alone in an environment as poor as a yellow plastic bathtub with nothing in it can be, jump into the unknown… just to die a slow death of the same kind you were saved by a small boy who shouldn’t have…

I felt so sorry... 




Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Psychiatric Memories: Yvonne


 Yvonne was bipolar. She was not bipolar like you and me; she was Bipolar with a capital B. When she was depressed, she would sit all day long on a plastic chair in the doorway… She would stay there for months. She was forced to go to bed at night and get up in the morning. Her head was just falling down on her chest, her back was without any strength, and her legs stayed the position they fell in when she collapsed on the chair… She was heavily empty, she was immensely sad…

 When she was somehow stabilized she was an upper class lady on the brink of third age, not very tall with a bit of a pot belly. She was very knowledgeable. Once she gave us a little lecture about the different varieties of champagne which astonished us.

 When she was “up” she couldn’t keep her clothes on. She ran about in the ward in a state of extreme agitation, sending her clothes away, pissing and shitting on her way to nowhere without even noticing… Yes, I remember following Yvonne with a scoop, a bucket and a mop… She had to be locked up in a room and could tear up a whole mattress into little pieces without leaving a single piece bigger than a walnut, along with a pile of magazines she turned into confetti… 

 Then she would be down again, squashed by sadness and shame on her chair, and she would remember everything…

 It happened that the psychiatrists found out a particular dosage of chemicals that seemed to prove effective. Yvonne’s moods were much more even than they used to be, for months. A christening was planned in her family a few months ahead, it was agreed that Yvonne temporarily leave the hospital to join the family celebration the weekend it was planned. Yvonne was really looking forward to it. Nobody knows what looking forward means but Yvonne. 

 Unfortunately, as the time was drawing closer the expectation and anxiety about being able to go was growing more and more compelling… and another manic crisis broke out in the weeks before… The emotions were too strong…




 Mental health is not only a personal problem. It’s not all about an unfortunate combination of genetics, early childhood and family history… I have my theory about it, which I will explain with precautions, lest I end up sitting on a plastic chair next to Yvonne in the doorway. For a start, I need to talk about concentration camps.

 In the camps, when the prisoners in charge of emptying the gas chambers after the sinister job was done opened the doors, they found the victims piled in pyramids, the weaker at the bottom, the strongest on the top. The gas was heavier than air and filled the chambers from the bottom and in a desperate attempt to keep breathing just a little bit more, the victims struggled to climb on each other…



 We are still behaving in the same way, at a psychological level. Our suffocating egos all too often build their self esteem by mean of comparison. If we are first of the class, if we belong to the winning team, if we’re told that we are a better lover than the previous one… we feel reassured… The philosophy is: “I am better, therefore I am good” It is warped. We keep climbing on each other’s back. The result can only be a hierarchy of self esteems piled in a pyramid. At the top, there are stars and powerful people, able to manage to be looked up to by many… but always threatened to fall down. At the bottom there is a wide range of egos suffering from inferiority feelings and dissatisfaction with themselves. 

 And underground, the outcasts, the ultimate scapegoats, the sacrificed ones. Those who bear the whole weight on their shoulders…


No, Yvonne did not suffer only from her own suffering…

 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Do I feel like talking about my sexual life?



Do I feel like talking about my sexual life?




Huh....No. .... Yes! ... No.


No, it's embarrassing.


Yes, the truth heals. As a healer, it might well be my job to contribute to healing sexual confusion.






It's time to break a few taboos. Taboos about sex are not taboos anymore. The taboos I am thinking of are about emotions and feelings. Bathrooms have to be cleaned, and it belongs to those who inherit the stench to do the job. In the process, the most wonderful flowers might bloom.






Allow me to ramble a bit, I need preliminaries if you don't mind. My romantic and sexual lives really didn't work out as I would have liked them to, and as a result, instead of focusing my energy on studying, learning a trade or a craft, earning money and bringing up children after meeting the possible one, I looked for all kinds of remedies to my feelings...






Emotional needs do exist, and when they are treated like there are not supposed to exist... they rebel. They disturb. They trample on the delicate stuff that was aspiring to unspoken perfection.






I am speaking about fear of private speaking here. I am talking about emotional avoidance. Maybe this is a form of impotence... I am scared of sharing intimacy. Scared of not being able to behave "like a man". Scared of expressing feelings or emotions and being treated like an object of disgust because of them. Scared... to see what happened to me as a child repeat itself, as it does, again and again, until you die, until you heal... Whatever comes first...






My last partner, that's now about 12 years ago, was abusive. She didn't hit me, no! I was much bigger and stronger than her, no doubt. I didn't hit her either. Physical violence was not part of the game between us. You know what? When it's clear that your physical strength weighs nothing in the balance of power, it's just like you don't have it. At psychological level, you're equals. You not bigger and stronger anymore. And when I say "you are equals" I don't know really. Let's say we are.






Pascale was abusive. She had no respect for boundaries. She had no idea that boundaries are things that do exist and should be respected. And she wanted a lot.






One night I jumped out of bed, put my clothes on and went out for a walk to calm down. I needed to be left alone, I needed to be left alone, I needed it. She ran after me. I can still see the picture in my mind. If our story was made into a movie, this picture would be on the poster. It was winter and freezing cold. The sky was dark. A few lampposts lightened the deserted street. She had only a white bathrobe on. The bathrobe and her dark hair were floating around her as she was running. She was bare feet.






I ran away from her. I needed to be left alone. My body. My limits. My right not to be touched when I don't want to. My right not to make love if I don't want to. My right to feel safe and respected by someone who can wait. We had sex every evening, and many afternoons as well. It's a bit too much, especially when you are not given time to desire.






"But desire comes as you go along!" she used to say to dismiss my protestations. This was physically true. I could get aroused by physical stimulation, and the thing worked. Love, when done like that, is no better than when you masturbate just because you can't sleep and you hope it will help, and not because of irrepressible fantasies. It's like pouring yourself what could look like a good glass or (of) red wine, but once you drink, it tastes like swimming pool water.


She was using me to protect herself against a terrible void that I could feel behind my back...






There are many reasons why I stayed with her for six years. All kinds of reasons. I'll talk about them later. One day I would leave her (finally rather than eventually) eventually. I know that the way I leave women when I leave them is especially painful: I don't leave them to be with someone else. I leave them to be alone.






I am scared to share my intimacy. I love life, and there are days when I am in bad mood.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Magma and compassion

 If I could say only one word, I would say… “Compassion” 

If I was allowed just a few sentences, I would say… Dear fellow human beings, some amongst us are trapped in a different world. The social codes are irrelevant to them. They can’t make sense, they are cut off. What can we do?  

 I have got enough time so I will tell  stories. 

When I was twenty, I found a job in a psychiatric hospital.   I worked there for two years as an auxiliary nurse. Auxiliary was the lowest rank in the hierarchy. Lower than that you’re just ill!  I am still thinking of the people I met there… Let me introduce them to you.


  Mauricette was about thirty years old but she looked sixteen, the age she was trapped by schizophrenia.  She wore that kind of dull clothing you wear when you’re an inmate in a psychiatric hospital, she wore socks but no shoes, she had shoulder length dark and untidy hair and she was perpetually possessed by acute anger. She spent her days walking to and fro in the doorways or turning round the tables- always anticlockwise. Her fists clenched or her arms crossed, she was churning out an unceasing string of the angriest and crudest words you could imagine… Her anger is my anger. Sometimes I would like to tell the whole word off…

 One day Mauricette stood in front of me in the middle of the path, hands joined over her head, on one leg as if practicing a yoga stance called “the tree” She glanced and at me and barked: “I am a Christmas tree, you turn me on!” I looked at her and replied: “Mauricette, first thing it’s not Christmas, it’s Easter soon” She said: “Shut your fucking mouth, I am the one in charge in here!” she dropped her arms and resumed her speed- walking to the other end of the corridor… 

When I declare my love that way I am rarely understood. It’s a shame; it’s a beautiful way…

 Sometimes she stared right into my eyes; she was an ocean of aggression. I used to hold her gaze…. It was a challenge, a game for me but it was also a way to get in touch. 

 It happened once, only once. I took her in my arms, to help her cross the yard outside. The soil was wet she wore socks… I held her like a child, she cuddled up in my arms with a happy smile… and I let her go on the other side…  

 One day a new resident arrived. She was a beautiful Granny with long white hair falling in two plaits… She was called Philomene. She came from a retirement home. She had lost her mind long ago and the reason she was now admitted in the psychiatric hospital was that she had become incontinent. 
 Philomena did not talk.  She looked intensely lost. I have never ever seen anybody look as lost as Philomena did. In the retirement home they used to tie her to the radiators. We found this unacceptable, and we let her roam about freely like the others, but she was annoying. She kept trying to grasp people’s arms in a perpetual quest for support… She even tried to cling to Mauricette! Mauricette swung round sharply and sent her off violently: “What do you want?” 

 Philomena was extremely surprised, she lost her balance, moved two or three steps backward, hit the wall and fell onto her bum! We hurried to her rescue, she was ok, aghast but she was always aghast anyway. We sat her at a table, gave her some fruit juice, we stroked her hair… She was fine, but ten minutes later she was dead. She started to look drowsy, her head was falling on her chest as if taken by sleep… and that’s how Philomena died.
 It was a cold winter, it was already dark outside; we laid her on a bed in a single room…Her pale skin had turned yellow. A group of inmates tried to look inside…. Nobody said anything to Mauricette. She was howling in the doorways… Whoooo…… 


  This time I spent working there had a deep influence on the way I see life. Mentally-ill people, like poets maybe, are in contact with the other side of reality, the side that  “normal” people manage to smother... 

Under the social fabric, under the masks of appearances, under the earthy crust, there is magma. Magma is stronger and this is reality. 

Earthquakes, volcanoes and madness will always erupt wherever the fabric is weaker. The rigidity of our prejudices, our moral principles, and our theories will always be beaten by madness…. 

 Please, give love! Please give understanding….