April 25, 2018


Yesterday, in therapy, I turtled.

In the morning, I had three people call or write me to say that the piece on my sisters was moving, one of the better pieces of writing I've done.  Chills.  Tears.  They felt strongly enough about it to tell me that.  So I went back and read it again, and was startled to find a line that I do not remember writing.  It could not have come from me.

"A sister is a portrait frame missing its face."

But I had a fever, so this bypassed all filters and came from somewhere I do not recognize.  I'm still contemplating its meaning.

I had a fever.  When I write with a fever, and bypass those filters, things come out unhindered, things that have pressed to be spoken that were held back.  I read the piece again.  Then I went to therapy.

In therapy, I told all of this to Therapist Gumby, staring at the small worn spots on the right arm of his chair and wanting to bring in a wood stain pen and color them in.  I tried to talk about my sister, and for the second time in my personal history, I broke out in hives during an intense session.  They traveled all over, arms, legs, back, face, head, and I scratched and scratched.  And suddenly, without warning, I was overcome with the need to strike myself, hard, repeatedly, and I sat on my hands quickly before I could hit myself in front of him.  And then I turtled.  I went deep inside myself and I could not emerge.  I stared at the carpet, at his perfectly-pressed navy blue dress pants seam, back at the carpet.  And I breathed, and could not talk easily in spite of his tender compassion and attempts to draw me out, and I wandered inside myself, away from my sister.  My mind blanked.  I was turtled.

I haven't fully come back out yet.  My pain and I are inside myself and things are not allowed in.  I ate a little of my breakfast but did not want the rest.  Food cannot come in.  There was no music in my car, only a Dar Williams song echoing in my head ... "You're helping me move from the inside to the outside / You're trying so hard and I can't even start / It's a war in there" ... music cannot come in.  I am still severely congested and my ears are clogged and I feel like I'm in a jar.  Voices are muffled and distorted.  They cannot come in.  I cannot taste.  I cannot smell.  My preoccupation object had to cancel coffee again, for more good reasons, and I can give and give, love and sympathy and understanding, but I cannot need or want anything back, cave in to longing for a piece of a person already stretched too thin.  I cannot take those things inside.  So my pain rattles around inside me, inside my shell.

P.J. sent me a birthday card.  I read it this morning.  It said, "Motherfucking unicorns and rainbows, bitches.  Love now and always, your P.J."  It even had a Pratchett cartoon.  She knows the secret ways into my turtle shell.  She is the exception.  She can come in.

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