It sits beneath the surface of my skin like the rumble before an earthquake. Beads of sweat are jostled around like pebbles on restless soil. It’s been there for so long that I can no longer recall its inception. It’s been both an ally and a curse. But there it resides, deep inside. Everyday we take a breath to live. And every time I do, there is a bitterness swallowed with it.
I. Am. Angry.
Yesterday, I stood in my therapist’s office for the first time. What I mean is, I was too agitated to sit and remain still. For the first time my anger boiled over and spilled into the fibers of her carpet. I cast a vengeful gaze out the window that overlooked the bustling city streets below. I could feel a burning swell from behind my eyes and yet I demanded that the tears remain hidden from view. Introspectively I scorned myself and everything that I was feeling. Pleading for it all to dissipate and retreat. A Sisyphean request…
Doc and I had just finished talking about something awful. Something truly abhorrent. Perhaps most troubling was the fact that the topic of discussion was not a hypothetical. It was a retelling of lived experience. This was done as part of my EMDR therapy. Something we have decided to try. Something I have held trepidation towards for some time. And yesterday, was a shining example of fear justified.
I don’t mind being open, but I hate talking about certain things. I’m pretty good at giving Coles Notes versions of things that I have seen and done. But when asked to figure out ‘why certain things bother me,’ I am less than equipped.
I tried, though; yesterday, to give it my best shot and hand myself over to the process. But in doing that, my ailing brain whisked me back to the Hell of the place in discussion. I began to see, smell and taste everything that was there on that day—including a dead boy’s piss.
My nose started to wrinkle in antipathy. My eyes clenched then squinted, trying to keep reality in view—a fruitless endeavour as it would turn out. I felt my stomach begin to churn and my skin tightened with a desire to run. My body was in the confines of a therapist’s office. My mind was knelt beside a dead boy lain within his basement. It commanded my body to feel everything—and I did…
So, in order to survive, I did what I had done that day, too; I allowed for the fury of anger to melt the sensation of all other things. I pushed away sorrow, I threw away despair and remorse, I neglected pain and refused objectivity. My bones began to growl. I could feel the tiniest fibers of my muscles begin to flex into rigidity. Bruce Banner was dying.
I clenched my hand tightly into a ball of rage and felt the sinew snap against the craggy prominents of my balled fist. Being able to sit no longer, I stood and requested to leave the room. I said I needed water, but what I think I was gasping for was air.
There is a pain that lives inside of me. A gift of witnessed torment and death. I tried to save that boy. With all my might and skill, I tried. And when I failed, the first image to come to view before me was of another soul who had hung himself only to be saved by my hand. And then take that gift of rebirth and use it to pedal drugs to kids. Kids no older than the dead one at my feet. A true Fuck-The-World moment.
The session ended and I went home. I sat in complete stillness for some time on my couch. Long enough to see the daylight evaporate into the abyss of a bleak night’s sky. I was not alone, though. Anger sat with me. I bore a hole through the floor in front of me with a rancorous stare. Images of the boy punished my mind’s eye. I was breathing shallow breaths for fear of inhaling his odorous piss once again.
Come morning, I withdrew the blinds and took sight of a new day. A day seemingly crafted just for me. The sky was a pluming tapestry of smoky grey clouds that allowed rain to befall the city. Brilliant splashes of droplets hitting puddles was the first thing to greet my weary eyes.
As a boy, I held a mischievous adoration for the rainy day. Bouncing and splashing in puddles with limitless delight. As a man, I remember that adoration yet hold a kinship with the understanding that rain has now become a sad man’s camouflage—you cannot see my tears. I am the walking wounded.
I stood by the water for a while today. I listened to the sound of rain snap against leaves and pavement. A harmonious orchestra of solace to an aching man and his burdensome thoughts. I did cry today. I remained by the lake and against my pleas, I began to weep. Soon, the corners of my lips fell in the fight against gravity. Tears met rain and thoughts skipped across the lakeshore.
I’m a little shy to admit, but I really wanted my Mum, today. Just something safe, familiar and warm. But she too is gone. Perhaps providing that warmth to the boy…
Anger is easier to feel than sorrow. And I think the biggest reason behind my fear of this process known as EMDR, is because I know with unequivocal certainty that I am going to have to melt anger with feeling. And feeling is something I spent years trying to drown in a bottle. I spent a career refusing to feel just so that I could make it to that next call. And even before the calls started to roll in, I dissuaded myself of feeling in the name of architype—I was a soldier—my brothers were dead but I was to feel nothing as I was still on guard. And now, now I am being forced to confront the inevitable. I am to feel for the first time in God knows when. And I am to do all of it, sober… Fuck me.
I. Am. Angry.
But I am also cripplingly sad.
The dead live within me. And I reside within a world of the dead. Only now trying to figure out how it is that I am to live…
But first, I think I’ll stand in the rain a moment longer.