Keeping your head together can be a struggle, especially in The Tank
Transmissions from the 12th Circle
10:00 PM: I lost my center this evening. I cannot find anything solid to grab onto. I realized about an hour ago that I was shivering. I am always cold. These red suits are simple fabric and the air which circulates feels like air conditioning. I think the physical-ness of being cold has exacerbated a lonely, scared feeling. In addition, the noise level jumped by about 60% after dinner because The Tank got two new tribe members, who happened to know three fellas who are already here! They are so effing LOUD! My senses are being attacked!! I was sitting on my bunk, wondering if this was my life…for the rest of my life. Now, hoping I can sleep.
1:00 AM: FINALLY drifted off around 1:00 AM. Woke at 5:00 AM for breakfast, then back-, to sleep til 11:00ish!
Mmmm…seems I am joining the tribal schedule I have observed all these weeks! I’m still staving off melancholy yet beginning to feel better. The morning light and the view of Mt. Rainier through the slit window always helps my mood.
I thought I had worked my way through the phases of grief. If memory serves, there are five phases: denial, anger, negotiation, depression and acceptance. (I don’t have reference material so if this is wrong, please forgive. The author of the scheme is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Google her if you want to know more.)
When I was booked, fingerprinted and photographed, I was in full-blown DENIAL. I refused to accept the facts. I kept saying to myself “This can’t be happening! Not to me!”. It took a while, maybe a week but I finally accepted the fact that I was in jail.
Then I got pissed!! Buried within denial is shame and embarrassment. When I write my memoir, I will have to include this disgraceful chapter. Sometimes I think of this piece of my history as a life NOT well lived. AND sometimes, it feels like I’m in a character-building stage of my life! (Smiley face emoticon goes here!) I hope I have enough years ahead of me to put this event so far behind me that it will seem and feel small. This experience does not define who I am any more than my Master’s degree, although I used to think it did.
In Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, he narrates a scene from what feels like an Arthur Miller play:
An upper middle class professional man appears before the Nazi authority to present his credentials: his university degrees, letters of reference and so on. The Nazi asks him, “Is this everything you have?”. The man nods. The Nazi throws it all in the wastebasket and says: “Good, now you have nothing.” The man whose self-esteem had always depended on the respect of others, is emotionally destroyed.
I am that man…or maybe I was that man. Being a professional with degrees and the respect of others was important to me…very important, essential in fact. But Frankl goes on to write:
We are never left with nothing as long as we retain the freedom to choose how we will respond.
I work on that every day. When the police storm The Tank tossing my books and letters and writing materials on the floor, I used to feel they were disrespecting me. NOW I look at it (and choose to respond) as an opportunity to read again all the love letters from my wife…and I smile. I will write about the next couple of grief phases… looks like I shot off on a tangent… Try to see it as a “stream of consciousness” exercise on my part.
Nobody’s life is smooth and easy. Everybody has ups and downs. That’s to be expected. We may even be eager to try ourselves out, to discover how capable we really are. — Louis Bisch
Originally posted on Notes From Inside Out
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