Monday, April 14, 2008

'The Man' Tales - In The Land of the Unknown

The next day the vultures came to my room and got me out of bed. They listened and knocked continually as they stood outside the bathroom door. Eventually they led me to a little room where the man with the accent was sitting and looking through files. Somewhere in my memory I remembered the accent and the dark circles around his eyes, but I didn’t know who he was. What I soon discovered is that I still couldn’t understand him.

Instead of trying, I spent my time staring out the window. I didn’t recognize anything. I thought I had been transported to a foreign planet by aliens and perhaps I was being interviewed by the head of command.

I wrung my hands harder, afraid.

The sound they made as one washed over the other fascinated me. It was dry and rasping and whispered strange words into the air. If I wrung them harder - I could feel the energy of my anxiety warming my stomach. I felt as if I could almost direct the flow of my anxieties into my hands and wring it all away.

I worked at it.

Those dark circled eyes stared at me and through me. I checked the corners behind me but there was no one else in the room. They stared some more. Eventually he wrote something in the file and let me out of the room.

And suddenly, I was lost again.

The vultures took me to a large bathroom and forced me to undress. They ran the water and tested it, making sure I wouldn’t get scalded, and then they put me under the shower and made me wash myself. It had been a long time. Somehow I had forgotten about washing. In fact, I was told later I hadn’t bathed in almost two weeks. When I was finished, I promptly forgot that it was something I was supposed to do.

I wandered the hall again, lost and alone. There were many others that wandered that hall with me and we would bump into one another in surprise, so lost in our own little worlds that we didn’t see each other.

As long as I was in sight of one of the vultures, they didn’t hover in my face. But as soon as I entered a room, they were there. I couldn’t understand it. Why did they have to follow me around like that? What did they want? It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that I was on ‘close supervision’. I was considered to be a threat to myself. And much later I was told that I had been suicidal before they had admitted me.

I didn’t know any of that.

Meals were delivered to the hallway and we joined in one large communal room to eat them. In the beginning I never noticed just how many people were in that room. I was just happy to be able to eat something once more. One of the vultures sat beside me while I ate because of the utensils I was using. I thought she wanted my food and I hunched over it while I shoveled it into my mouth.

While the light faded out of the foreign sky, I sat listening to my hands as they talked, and stared out the windows. Slowly the lights came on in the buildings that surrounded me, and I suddenly had a revelation. I wasn’t on a foreign planet! I was waiting for a cruise ship! I could see its lights in the distance and I knew they would be coming for me to board it. Obviously dress for this cruise was casual. My pajamas and housecoat were what was required. And everyone else on that hallway? They were going on the cruise as well!

Recently Stephen King published Lisey’s Story. In that novel, he takes us to a place where there are depressed or mentally ill people sitting and watching a ship – waiting for it. When I read this – I wrote to Mr. King and asked him if he had done research on this. Had he found that this was a common thought among those who were suffering mentally? Unfortunately he has never answered me. But how I would love to know!


Breezy said...

Just catching up Aims. Gripping and told from the heart as usual. I felt like I was wandering around there with you.

Daryl E said...

Ah Aims ... as always so involving .. so well written ... it has to be both tough and wonderful to share/release those memories.

Living the Dream said...

This must be so hard to write, but as usual, compelling reading. I find it hard to believe this is really a true story, it makes it all the more amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it with us

dND said...

So fascinating to read your memories and see the threads of similarities. Yours to a greater extent, mine to a much lesser.

I can remember time stopped having any meaning, time just passed and the time I spent just looking at something and not being able to work out what it was. I also went through the hand wringing, quite often scratching myself with my nails. Dark times.

Your writing is just so vivid, I can feel myself being drawn into the space you are describing and seeing what you are writing about 'happen' in front of my eyes. Very powerful.

Deborah x

Maggie May said...

Gosh ...... Aimes ....... This is gripping stuff.

Amy said...

Aims, I don't know about people waiting for cruises. I know that my husband's grandma was waiting for her dad to bring her carriage.

It's surprising to me how much you remember.

Sweet Irene said...

The sight of you wringing your hands is the most haunting one and stays with me the most, as I can keep picturing it in my mind; those hands and the noise they make. It is a very vivid image of despair.

I Beatrice said...

Harrowing,Aims! But those wringing hands are steady now; try to remember that as you struggle through this most difficult part of the story.

And all your many good friends are with you every step of the way.

John-Michael said...

You know that I love you! Remember that as you unwrap this little GIFT

Remember! I love you!

(sounds of big old clunky feet running away)

Mima said...

The way that you describe it aims, I am with you wandering through the corridors, you create such a clear mental image for us as readers.

CrazyCath said...

Aims you create the images so clearly in what must have been the foggiest time of your life, if you understand what I mean by that! The image of you wringing your hands to bring warmth to your stomach... And that doctor just staring at you. Why do they do that?!
Real scary stuff. Real lack of understanding sometimes. The mind boggles.
I don't know about cruise ships I'm afraid. I hope Mr. King will one day respond.

Great post again.

Carolyn said...

Powerful writing, as usual. Very vivid and captivating. Thanks.

Lane said...

The hand wringing image really hits home Aims. Very, very poweful writing.

I wish Mr King had answered you. Maybe he still will.

Mean Mom said...

Still with you. Still fascinated. Still feel for you, every step of the way.

My son also wrote to Mr King, in connection with a school project. It was about 12 years ago, so we've just about given up waiting, now!!

aims said...

Breezy - Glad to have you back - bet you're glad to be home again.

Daryl - Tough doesn't even come close. Almost too hard is more like it.

Hazel - Sometimes I look back and find it hard to believe it has all been my life.

Dnd - Ah yes...time evaporating...what is time when your mind is blank? Is there time in space? Know exactly what you mean.....

Maggie May - Hold on!!

Amy - That made me laugh - talk about the differences in eras! My everyday memory is nothing but holes - but my past - especially the pain in my past - like it was yesterday.

Irene - It is not something I recommend taking up - believe me. It looks harmless - but it isn't.

Dearest B - I find I am wringing my hands every time I sit down to write this or even read it. How I hate it!!

JM - You call that love?! :0) I'm going to have to start another blog for all the tags I've been asked to do ...someday maybe...I can still hear those feet btw!!

Mima - I'm glad I can do that. Thank you for saying that.

Crazycath - I think the doctors do that to intimidate us into blurting things out. I use to stare back at him at times - just to see who would look away first..Cat and mouse..

Carolyn - thank you for your words. It all helps to keep them coming.

Lane - I don't know if he will looking at what Mean Mom wrote!! Ah well. At least I got up the nerve to write him in the first place. I have never done that with a 'celebrity'.

Mean Mom - 12 years!! Uh...maybe you should give up waiting...I already have...but sometimes the thought crosses my mind....

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

A very vivid description Aims, and one I could really identify with. Strange that when the world disappears, you don't miss it, just feel rather puzzled. Still with you all the way. Margot xx

travelling, but not in love said...

I can't imagine how hard this is to write - you must be going through it there in the barn.

It's great writing though. I can't wait until we see some light at the end of the tunnel though....


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about mental health issues. My sister was sectioned a couple of years ago, and no one wanted to talk about it. It was like one big family secret. She had grown up with a different parent to me, so much of her life had been different from mine growing up. All of that I think left her very vulnerable and some things just pushed her over the edge.

Reading back through your posts has helped me understand the level of confusion she had at that time. Although I live 180 miles away my husband and I visited and attended meetings and tried to get her the help she needed. Mental health is not talked about nor I think even understood even by professionals. Once you are mentally ill in the UK you cease to be intitled to a lot of what are really basic human rights. We had to fight hard for my sister to get what she needed.

Mya said...

Powerful stuff Aims. It's amazing how memory works.All these amazing images pocketed away somewhere - that kind of make sense to you now when they come tumbling out.

Mya x

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Aims - this is so sad but fascinating for me. My uncle commited suicide and some members of my family were very angry with him. I knew that he had to be in a bad place or somewhere unreachable for him to have done that. Your depiction of your lost time in another world sheds some light on what he may have been going through. Thanks brave one.

highlander1463 said...


Thanks for stopping by and reading my post about Bodhi.

What a wonderful writer you are. I loved the line about listening to your hands talk and looking out of the window. It combined the real and the unreal in one sentence and really makes you think. There were more then a few lines like that throughout your story.


Bitter Sweet Chocolate Irene said...

Aims, it may seem inappropriate considering your subject matter right now, but I have two awards for you over at my place.

dawn said...

Another wonderful post making the reader feel like he/she is in that place. You are doing a great job.

Debra in France said...

Just to echo everyone elses comment. You write brilliantly, and this must be so hard to relive in such detail. Thank youfor sharing you life with us. You are truly amazing. debra xxx

Stew said...

aims - you scare me!

aims said...

Margot - How true! You just don't miss the world when it disappears...

TBNIL - Harder than I can express - believe me! But - thank goodness there is a light at the end of this long tunnel.

Melanie - My heart goes out to your sister - and to you. This is very hard to deal with - sometimes impossible for some members of the family. I'm glad I could help even a little...

Mya - Somethings make sense - other things just leave me astonished that I was like that! Certainly a life-changing experience.

MOB I'm so sorry your Uncle found himself in that place where he thought that was his only way out of the pain. And for you as well MOB. The anger comes from the guilt of not being able to help - which is a helpless guilt because when one reaches that place of no return - there is often no help to be had. The poor man - his personal pain was just too much for him to bear. Think of him at peace now.

Highlander1463 - Thanks for returning the visit. Your post made me cranky - and I will keep my eye out for her.

Irene - Thank you so much! I have posted them with great pride!

Dawn - Thanks Girl! Trying to get across those feelings and images is what I strive for.

Debra - So great to see you out and about again! And yes - it's harder than I can express - but I'll keep trying.

Stew - I do? Why?