“Everyone has discounted how able I am at guessing.”
“Yes, my ability to predict or guess the correct answer when there is really no reason I should be able to know that.”
I was sitting in the big orange arm chair, coffee on the stand next to me, incense lit the room when I was there now. Trying not to take the appearance of incense personally, I did understand both myself and the absorption she has to face to do this job. I had done this job too. Facial micro gestures don’t bother me. When I mention a man’s name, I ignore the wrinkle of her nose, pleased with her dissatisfaction of him as it shows her commitment to my health, her loyalty to me.
“Even though,” I continue, “guessing games seem silly, if you win almost every time, you start to believe in the supernatural. I grew up playing these games with Leana and we would always guess the color or number the other one is thinking. Of course,” I stop myself realizing how naive I sound, “she could be lying but I just told you the story of the trams at Busch Gardens and the thing about the blackout on Halloween.”
I always gazed to the right when I was trying to figure out how to word something to my therapist. She never seemed worried or put off by me. I had told her about the way the titles seemed to talk to me, how music talked to me, and she listened to my corollations without interference. I found her encouraging, honest and trustworthy and was grounded. Open to collaboration with my spiritual practice but wouldn’t support theories that aliens live in the electricity and whisper things to you all day. I needed that. Whether I gave up the theory or not was inconsequential. She just reminded me to breathe, eat, come back to Earth and take care of myself. Delusions existed in all of us. We aren’t here to fight every delusion but become unmired from them. A practice of decoupling.
“There is nothing supernatural about your Spotify,” he said. “A music fast would do you good.”
“Oh for like a month?”
“Oh god no, like two or three days then listen to it for two or three days. There is nothing supernatural about your Spotify though. You did this in Boulder, I remember. Would walk for hours listening to music.”
“Yes, you know,” I sit across from him in my apartment.
He visits from time to time to let me borrow books, hang curtains, check shelves.
“I can’t believe you still have no one to help you with this,” he says, secretly pleased with my allowance of him in the second bedroom.
“I have friends but,” I am pleased that he made amends to me once, “I don’t ask them for things like this.”
I was trying to decouple songs from feelings, the beat from influence of mood, the aliens from the sounds, the eardrums from the soreness and seizure. Confusion arises from panic which begins with daily, frequent mundane worry. The catalyst is mania and for me, music propelled me into frenzy. Literally got my heart palpitating and my legs moving all over the city, almost on instinct like a hungry centipede, I would be suddenly on the ceiling, seeking. I needed help finding ground. I liked my therapist. We discussed self care often but we also let my imagination bloom. She let me borrow her tarot deck once and all she asked was that I show her how to use it. We sat on the carpet and I flipped a few cards to begin.
“Two means the coupling, or the coming together of something. Ace is the beginning so three is the triangle, kind of like the first part of completion. Ace is nascent, spark, begin. Two is come together, duality, choice. Three is the mark of spark as all fall in line. Let’s examine some for example. What’s on your mind?”
This was risky but she answered.
“I have been having a tough time with my mother. She’s sick,” she hesitated but she shared, “and I am taking care of her.”
“Oh nice the two of cups: love. Look at these swans in the water, swimming, connected.”
We both gazed at the card and she nodded. I always spoke like that in tangles and hoped the other person was reading my mind. When I was kid sometimes I would only share half a sentence or half a story and assumed the other person understood what I was saying. As I sit here recalling my superpower of winning card games, I am, before she even leans forward, asking myself if people really change.
“The consequence of guessing correctly for no reason,” I stick my thumb out to begin recounting, “thinking of things and then watching them happen, writing stories and watching them happen, reading tarot for myself and others and getting nothing but positive feedback and referrals, and sometimes having premonition in dreams, has led me to conclude that the most dangerous thing people have done to me is invalidate my intuition.”
She says nothing because we have been talking for almost four years. All five fingers are up and I am leaning forward in the chair, not gazing anywhere but suddenly extremely straightforward, mouth agape and I am not finished with my resentful tirade.
“Even though it sounds silly, this idea that I am able to guess trivial things like the color of a tram, or the thought in someone’s head or, in a different way, seeing storms or things approaching has discounted a huge valuable part of myself. Because of this I was unable to share it, unable to thrive in it and lost control in it when it became stronger three years ago. Gaslighting is everywhere. I knew something was wrong with my body years ago when I had a steady job and health insurance and went to the doctor for stomach issues. I knew then I drank too much coffee and the vitamin drink I took in the morning was contributing but I complained of sinus, mucus, etc. only to find out five years later, it is connected, it was solvable then and now I have a tumor. I went a year ago to the ER for dysphagia and they sent me home with a referral to a psychiatrist that didn’t take my insurance without even checking my throat even though I admitted to being confused, a tiny bit delusional. How can you justify not checking to make sure someone’s delusion isn’t correct if you’re there to help them? And in the most recent assault, my doctor said I have an ‘enlarged parathyroid’ when she meant tumor, benign and when I became overwhelmed by the dissonance, the inaccuracy of her diagnosis, I cried. That led her to tell me I should see a psychiatrist for my anxiety.”
Pause for impact, self, audience, understanding definitions, facts, the way words form a sentence like a barrel of a gun.
“Because of my anxiety, my admitted sensitivity that has been, I’d say, equal friend and foe, I’ve been dismissed as hypochondriac, psychosomatic, a frazzled danger to herself. Yet, I can feel the breeze change from indoors and I can feel my own body aging each day; reject itself, the mucus climbing up my throat and sitting there like a tiny bouncy ball on my larynx. I even wrote that.”
I was staring at my shoes.
“I wrote a poem about my voice box years ago, being stifled by something and later a story about an apparition squeezing my throat shut. The sensations. It’s just I don’t feel heard and it’s not confusing, it’s real. I’ve been dismissed as a woman with anxiety because of gaslighting. I’m anxious because I’m traumatized and everyone tells me everything I feel is psychosomatic. I have a tumor and the symbology is that I have a tumor because I’m unheard. I have to swallow my own words or yell. I feel like I’ve been yelling. I think I’m clear. Do you think I’m clear? Frank?”
This is where grief sits. Not in this office with my therapist but the repetition of a question that you already know the answer to because you’ve asked it so many times before and a bullet hits your heart when the trigger is released.
“Then why did you leave?”
Suddenly, I fix my attention on someone else.