Chapter XV: Eighteen Again
Granted emergency financial emancipation, residential status, and placed with a job on campus, the blow of discovering shortly after I moved my Mom had made a genuine suicide attempt leaving her institutionalized did not hit as hard as I’d imagined it would. I knew at that point her behavior was simply an attempt at manipulation, and that she’d finally crossed the line into acting upon actual violent tendencies. A stipulation of my emergency placement on campus was that I was promptly report to crisis counseling and continue to report there daily until things in my life had stabilized.
67 degrees. My favorite temperature, I recall thinking to myself.
It was 67 degrees in the teal colored waiting room in an old chapel on campus. Arriving early as I often did to appointments, I began heavily rehearsing what I wanted to say to this woman. Thinking it was best to address the most immediate things that had transpired first, and then my brain jumping to wanting to address my own brain…..guh, I couldn’t even help but spin myself into panic thinking about what I wanted to say.
Emotionally puking all over my counselor, I told her everything that I couldn’t keep avoiding anymore. How I felt like my brain hadn’t stopped running a mile a minute since I was five and put on stimulants. How I’d spent years maintaining a facade that not only did I not construct, I didn’t even give a fuck about. I let it all out. Walking on pins and needles for twenty years had left me dangerously, and brazenly honest.
Once I’d finished puking up all of my emotions on the floor, I cried. Heavily. And for a long time.
The fucks most people hold onto until forty had run dry before I could even legally drink. There was no more room inside me to compress feelings down and hide from them. Nope, those days were over.
You’re safe now, I told myself every time I hobbled to my therapist’s office.
Knowing a lot of big words, reading a lot of big books often and growing up around crazy people led me to self-psychoanalyze and self-diagnose my problems. As I was already someone with what we now know were SEVERAL inaccurate diagnoses feeding into the concept that I was crazier than I actually was simply proved to be counter productive.
A few weeks into therapy I finally worked up the courage to ask. This woman had been polite, calm and compassionate towards me. I was a lost puppy that had been getting kicked in the face for years, I didn’t even really know how to communicate with people. With certainty, I had no understanding of healthy interpersonal communication and relationships. I made an effort to make sure when I did speak during my sessions with this woman, I was measured, polite and did my best to match her calming energy.
“What’s actually wrong with me?” I uttered with hesitation.
“I’m only basing this off of my interactions with you and what you have told me. You present as someone with post traumatic stress disorder with your most disruptive symptoms being anxiety and insomnia.”
A diagnosis of such nature didn’t seem correct. Mom was so pervasively mentally diseased, and now she was institutionalized. There was no arguing anymore that she was crazy and that I fact came from her.
Surely, all those diagnoses from my childhood must of held some validity. To me, it seemed simply too good to be true. How could I have escaped from that family with only PTSD?
Another shoe always drops…it does….but you don’t always have to let it hit the ground.
“Your brain development is not complete, meaning all that could present itself hasn’t come to light yet and won’t for a few more years. This is to your advantage as you can stabilize emotionally so if you face further mental health issues later in life you’ll have a strong foundation of coping mechanisms to fall back on.”
“But, what do I do now?” I asked genuinely confused as to what the next step in my life should be.
“You go to college! You enjoy yourself! You’re a young adult and you have the chance to start over in school and be whoever you want to be in life. Go do it.”
“Should I ever talk to them again?” I inquired.
“Not until it’s safe.” She told me.
Leaving that session, I felt a powerful calm come over me. I was safe. There were armed guards every where on campus, my friends now knew where I was at all times, my counselor and adviser kept close watch. No one could get to me and I could finally start over and be eighteen again.
Sneaking the occasional beer, boy or bud into my dorm, waking up late to my shifts at the bakery on campus, switching majors three times before finally settling, I’m happy to say, college was very, I guess you could say, normal.
There was no fucking up this time, failure was not an option as the only one who could catch me if I fell was myself. I’d have to figure out my way through the whole college thing and finally be a damn grown up. Honestly, it was exciting.
In time, I began poorly navigating my way through developing interpersonal relationships. Not really even having a fully developed personality and still mimicking many behaviors out of my own mother's playbook, it comes as no surprise the majority of those relationships did not last long. Approaching all personal interactions under transactional pretenses, I didn’t exactly do a good job of making new friends, or understanding others in general.
Fortunately enough, in time life provided my the opportunities to develop who I actually was. To no shock to anyone, I became funny.
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