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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Now that I'm not dying....

I started making plans. It's the not knowing. Only two weeks of uncertainty. Not bad by any standards. Except mine. Not knowing is better than knowing something terrible. I'll take not knowing for two weeks anyday over knowing, having lethal, devastating information, information that I feared but did not receive. Time falls into a different rhythm. One feels suspended. In fact, it feels a lot like the experience of being more literally 'dissociated,' as I was in the months after the attack in 2002. Dissociation is that eerie and awful experience of feeling outside yourself, outside your mind, outside your life. It is the sensation of watching your life go on, and you with it, but without being on the inside of it. During the months after the attack, the experience of dissociation was a safety mechanism, a gift from my mind to myself, a protective layer between my reality and the reality of what had occurred. It was hard enough to go on, being conscious as I was, of what had happened, what had been done, what other humans were capable of doing to one of their own, the evil that was perpetrated in a sacred space. It was a shock. But there was still this lovely layer, like gauze, a sheath, protection. Because there are times when life is too much to take in. We cannot stand too much reality, as the playwright has said (Bertold Brecht). Sophie's Choice is a devastating portrait of a life severed from reality, a reality that is too diabolical, that feels overwhelming, beyond redemption. I just read the book again in the company of some very talented writers, and we were really struck by the way the author wove together life and death so close, so interwoven that the lines became blurred. Like too many of her peers, Sophie was dying from the moment the Nazi's crossed the border. Reality was far too much. She never found her way back. Some of us split away from our personalities, our selves, forever in the wake of extreme shock, trauma, violence. And some of us just take a break, a time-out from the reality of what is in the world, what the world can do, of how harsh and stupid and destructive the world can be. And then we come back for more. Daring to step back in, to take steps in the direction of living, of life, of trusting and loving and playing around with life again. These last two weeks of not knowing what was going on inside my lungs was scary like that, the temptation to step outside for just a little while. To wait and watch. And not make any big plans. Not like before, not like I felt for the years it took before I dared to move outside a very small circle of trust, after being attacked a few years ago. And not quite like it still feels today when I come too close to what my animal brain perceives is danger. Not that bad, but weird all the same. No cancer, no embolisms, no creepy stuff. Just this one stinkin' rib that broke. I can live through that. In fact, now that I'm not dying, there's a list I've got to get back to. Poland is on it, of course, and Sweden. And, by gum, there's a novel..... It's good to be back! And thanks again for all your notes and concern! This is reality that is easily better than bearable. You make it good. Thanks!