June 24, 2018

you don't want to go back again

You would fuck it up.
Trust me on this one.
Fantasy operates as a strange mechanism in me.  I heartily suck at traditional forms but have others that fit neatly into the cubby of mental illness.  People have fantasies, widely either sexual or about winning the lottery jackpot advertised on billboards.  I don't have the capacity for either.

Lottery fantasies quickly devolve into watching every lawyer and charity appear on the doorstep with Dysons to draw out the resources.  I try to revel in all the good I could do, all of the wonderful things I could buy and utilize and give to loved ones and to dogs, lots and lots of dogs, but after thirty seconds the lawyers show up.

My brain can't run with the good stuff for longer than that before the over-developed muscle-rippled corrective, logical bit walks in like a protein-powder commercial weightlifter and points out all of the flaws and couldn't-possiblies and makes-no-senses.  He keeps Lille safe, but that motherfucker could crash any party you care to name.

Lately, I've been taken with that universal fantasy wherein one gets sent back to childhood knowing what he or she knows in adulthood.  "Boy, I wish I could go back and do it all over again, knowing what I know now."  If you haven't heard that one, move out of your cave.  The damp isn't good for your lungs and the delusions aren't good for your psyche.

Also, that idea is unadulterated bullshit.

Edward Lorenz gave us the butterfly effect glimpse at chaos theory.  Something as simple as a butterfly flapping its wings could, if conditions were right, create a tornado a continent away.  Cause and effect.  Change one thing in history, like a conversation or buying a different mule or having to go back for your car keys, and the effects are widespread.  Different children are born.  Things don't get invented, or do get invented.  Minute effects, catastrophic effects.  Unpredictable as the weather.

In this fantasy, I return to age nine.  I'm Lille.  During those delicious first thirty seconds, I marvel at how limber and energetic I am and make plans to become a runner right away so that I won't grow up with a weight problem.  I can sleep on my stomach with my limbs spread.  I can sleep without medications, and without Cocoa, who hasn't come along yet.  I can unravel the mysteries of what it was like to teach back then, see my teachers as working adults, relate to them.  I'm not just smart; I'm prodigal.  I act like an adult and know things and speak differently from the rest of my peers, and everyone marvels.  I show up at a Messiah rehearsal at some large church and impress them so much that they let me sing with them.  I'm the star of the show.  I go far in life.  I go to college at fourteen.  My supply of need-meeting specialness is as seemingly infinite as the ocean.

I would see my Teacher in two years' time.  So long as I didn't flap my butterfly wings too vigorously, it would happen.  My heart would beat faster at the thought.  This time, I could do things right.

Muscle Man shows up and the nine-year-old hears the record-ripping sound.

It would actually play out like this:  I would instantly be ontologically and culturally shocked.  I wouldn't know how this happened and even if I survived the cognitive dissonance, I couldn't leave my bedroom because I wouldn't know how to act nine years old again and it would be super-obvious that I'd had some type of mental breakdown and needed help.  My mother would notice and fret; my teachers would notice that I didn't even remember where my seat was in the class and that my behavior was paranoid and markedly different from one day to the next.  My peers would notice, and while they were already used to me knowing things and speaking differently, instead of bullying or ostracizing me, they would simply stay away and stare when they didn't think I'd notice.

None of that would matter.  Because next, I would leverage the perception of a mental breakdown and somehow maneuver things, through using the phone book at the library and making a long-distance phone call and begging, such that my mother would drive me from my hometown to this city for evaluation.  I would get an appointment with Therapist Gumby because I know where he was working back then.  My former therapist was in the same building, so I'd walk in to my first session and convince him to go get her, and we'd meet together.  He would close the door and sit down, and I'd start in.

"Listen, we don't have much time and I have a lot to tell you, so this isn't a traditional session, okay?  It's critical that you listen.  I have to tell you something that you will not believe and then I have to somehow prove it so you will believe me, and that just has to happen.  It has to.  I know I'm nine, but I'm actually forty-one.  I've been sent back to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, and yeah, everybody says they wish they could do that, but they're stupid bastards and that's bullshit - yes, I know I'm not supposed to curse, but I'm forty-one and I happen to know that both of you aren't prudes, so accept it.  Keep listening.

"You.  Gumby.  I can't prove things to you nearly as easily as I can her.  You grew up in the Midwest and played baseball and you ran fast and you were the star outfielder.  You always caught the pop fly.  You had lots of sisters.  You're married and have two young children.  I know your middle name.  None of that is enough to go on."  I'd turn to my former therapist.  "You I can cinch.  Toward the end of your master's program, you stumbled across a book while writing your thesis and it completely revolutionized your outlook and understanding of why you were doing what you were doing.  Schizoid Phenomena, Object Relations, and the Self by Harold Guntrip.  It was green with gold lettering.  We discussed it in depth and its model using the anti-libidinal ego was quite helpful at the time.  We called him Harry.

"Okay, now I have your attention.  Listen to me.  I don't know how this happened and I clearly remember that one of you is open to some mystical stuff and the other is a panentheist and not closed-minded.  I'm stuck here, have been for three months now, and I'm forty-one and I don't know if I'm going to get to go back to where I belong and I don't know if I'm going to get to see my wife and son again.  I've lost my family.  I'm grieving.  He was almost fifteen and what if they're still going and I won't get to see them again?  Am I still there, too?  Do they know?  Did I disappear?  Will I ever even meet her?  Will he be born?  Why is this happening?

"You can see how much I need to be able to talk to you both on a regular basis, to get to be myself to someone, and I'm already being selfish and changing the course of your futures by sitting here talking.  Please, please forgive me.  But I need you to go out there and convince that woman who is my mother, through whatever creative means you can come up with, to keep bringing me here.  She hates the drive, so it has to be really good."

Notice how much more elaborately the realistic bits have to get themselves sorted before the fantasy can continue.  And I have no idea why I'm having this particular line of thought, except maybe it's one of those middle-age things that starts happening, when you're the pivot of the see-saw.  Maybe it's the meds.  I like blaming the meds.  They don't argue.

Or maybe it's that continued need to feel special, even though my brain wrecks the fantasy without fail.  The fantasies that always succeeded were about sating that need.  A teacher or authority figure I was preoccupied with would watch me do my homework from outside my bedroom window, watch me get the answers right because I was smart.  Everywhere I went, I imagined they were watching.  I couldn't dance like no one was watching, so to speak, because someone was always watching.  Always watching, admiring, appreciating.  Always serving to anchor my worth as a person.

I wouldn't go back again for anything.  Not even to spend a year gazing upon my Teacher and be given an opportunity to prevent the fissure.  I am here, and now.  I love, and I am loved.  I am gratefully bound by the commitments of maternity and the tender, unyielding vows of marriage.  To go back and erase much of the negative in my life would be to forfeit treasure that would always elude me.  The butterfly wings would flap into the chaos and I would live in want.

I am fantasizing about something that I would never in a million years desire, because fantasy is safe.

I still need to learn to dance like no one is watching, to provide my own fountains, rivers, oceans when a craving for specialness emerges.  I have never mastered this trick.  I learned too well, too early, to take in the ersatz worth as my sustenance.  I do not know how to convince Lille to go hungry for a time while I tap into other waters.

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