(Note: So I thought I could get away with the last post and just leave everyone hanging. My wife and friends saw it different. I even had someone brave having to leave their email in order to leave a comment. (I have since disabled that requirement and made it easier to comment.)) So now, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story…
Knocking on someone’s door at six in the morning will get you noticed. My friend answered, blurry-eyed and still in PJs. I made no small talk. I simply handed her the paper grocery bag full of coffee table books and wished her well. I don’t think I blinked the whole time I was there. I’m not sure, when in that state, I ever blinked.
She just stared at me for an awkward, silent moment, looked in the bag and noticed that one of the books was a collection of the works of Monet. She loved Monet. Still confused by my presence she mumbled some thanks. I just stared at her and then turned to and left
My mind was still racing. What if she is in on it? Would she try to slip the books back into my apartment? I made a mental note not to ever let her in to my place again and then sped off.
I attempted to go to work. My bulging, non-blinking eyes had trouble focusing on the computer monitor. I was the tech lead for a multi-million dollar software upgrade. All eyes—blinking eyes—were on me.
I managed to make my way through the upgrade steps. Then I noticed it. A security camera in the corner of the room. Had it been there before? I thought not.
They were studying me. The client was a large chain of hospitals. Very important people, people with MDs after their names were studying my every move. I made every effort not to stare into the camera. I’d just show them the master at work.
Returning home, sleep was hard to come by. Four-thirty rolled around and I heard a car pull up to the walkway to my apartment and then a distinctive thud. The car raced off.
I went outside to investigate. It was a newspaper. Not any newspaper. It spoke to me.
I studied the headlines. I was racing too fast to study the copy, but the headlines were important. They were clues, clues to the end of the world. An end that I alone could prevent.
For a week this continued. I was studied at work and then came home to wait sleeplessly for the newspaper. I supplemented what the paper was telling me with magazines—armfuls of magazines. Any day now the doctors would be calling me in to reveal what I had learned. They were counting on me.
And then the fevered pace broke. I fell asleep at six in the evening and slept in until noon the next day. I awoke. I drew a deep sane breath and then breathed again. My thoughts were not racing. It had all been a dream. Or was it?
I surveyed my room. Newspapers and magazines were strewn everywhere. Headlines circled in red ink. Pages torn out of magazines. Articles cut out and taped to the wall.
But the pages and articles and headlines were silent. Nothing beckoned to me as before. Instead of clues to the impending collapse of the world, I saw them for what they were—a garbled mess. I scooped them all into two milk crates and covered them with a blanket. Like a child hiding his eyes and thinking no one can see him, I hid the evidence of my insanity from myself. No one was to know.
Though I hadn’t drunk for months, the bottle called to me to drink away the shame. It was practically yelling my name. I abruptly stopped meetings and hung out solely with my liquid friend. I drank until I napped involuntarily. The milk crates stayed hidden. It would be three more years of hell before I spoke of this with anyone. It would be three more years before I sought professional help and considered medication.
After each manic, the feeling of shame and brokenness would become more pronounced. This week I will be posting about overcoming shame.