This LIttle Light of Mine (mar chuid 1)

Blessed are the Cracked, for they shall let in the light…  Groucho Marx

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Many of you know this to be my favorite quote.  I found it on a quotes app on my phone (yes there is an app for that)  shortly before I started this journey.  It..spoke to me in significance and rang true for reasons I did not understand.

The part that I clung to was  Blessed are the Cracked.

 Blessed.

I am cracked.  I didn’t feel very blessed, but here was somebody saying I am.  The light part, I just wasn’t sure about.

What light?  Whose light?  Does that mean if I was standing in a sunbeam, the light would not be blocked, that because I am cracked it would still come through me, making me less of a nuisance, and rather useful?

Yeah, that worked.  Sounded cool anyways.

I have come to understand it a little differently lately.   It is not the light behind me, or around me that I will let through by the fact I am cracked…

It’s my light.  

Really, I am letting it out.  Without even trying.  Not that it’s  easy, but I am enormously gratified to discover that while I was looking for  something  to set me apart,  something other than a dark illness,  to make sense of my disordered and I had thought unremarkable life, while I thought how can I change this, and while I longed to find…….  something to make me shine,

I have been shining  all along.

Through the cracks.  

Starting with just a flicker of light that I struggled so hard, and longed  to find in myself.

Now a light so strong,  I feel like I could bring home a ship in the night, if I put my mind to it..

When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar, I brought home the Superbill, the page the doctor gives you as a receipt that has numerous ailments with codes by them.  They are called diagnosis codes and it is what the biller uses to bill the insurance and serves as your receipt of payment, proof you went to the dr and an indicator of your diagnosis.  I had been in the psychiatric hospital for a week.  A rest.  How I ended up there, what the catalyst is a story for another day, or maybe for never.

It was my second stint in a psychiatric ward, my first having been in the Army, in Panama, and it really was for a rest and to tuck me away so I wouldn’t cause any (more) problems.  I ended up being over medicated, isolated from any friends, and completely confused.

It was at one of the evaluations I had there daily, when my psychiatrist  informed me that he was discharging me from the Army for mental concerns.

I remember sitting in the sunny room watching the dust float down through the sunbeams and not really registering his words.  When I asked him to repeat what he had said and he did, It was if the little me inside my brain came to life but the expressive me, was drugged and in a fog….danger danger…warning bells.

I knew I needed to understand, and I couldn’t.  So I asked again, what does that mean I asked..am I crazy?

No he said,

well, it is because you are too pretty.

The Dr. was an older distinguished Panamanian  gentleman who had an excellent grasp of the english language in terms no one but the medically educated could hope to understand, and then with his accent on top of it was hard to understand at all.

This was his laymen terms.  His, how can I make you understand what we are about to do to you?

I was too pretty he said, to ever hope to have a  career in the military.  The men would not think of me as any more than a beautiful woman, I would not be taken seriously, I would be used and abused and tossed aside and eventually it would destroy me, the way my mind worked could not ever hope to process this and rein in my enthusiasm and beauty to conform to the proper standards.  I would be a liability….

I have spent a lot of years thinking about that conversation.  I tell the tale sometimes, but usually stop at,  I almost got kicked out of the Army for being too pretty…  (remember the best liar post? now you know)

Ha ha ha ha ha ..  and I was careful who I told it to because I think it is one of those stories that could be taken the wrong way – as if I am trying to convince you I am beautiful….so pretty I couldn’t be in the military.   I am not and do not believe that.

I remember I laughed.  It would have been hysterical, but I was too doped up.  And asking the good Dr if he was high.  He of course was all seriousness and said no and this was the best thing for me.

Part of me was drawn to the idea of going along with this little plan, the thought of sitting there in the locked loony bin until the next medevac in a week, was comforting….shuffle on the plane, drool, get off the plane another week in the Stateside mental ward,  and then…home…I so wanted to go home.

And he was handing it to me as nonchalantly as if I had asked for a kleenex.

But I said no.  I still had fight in me, I refused to go home with my tail between my legs proving all the people that said I would never last in the  military, right.

NO.

And some little tiny part of me told me that if I just went along with it, if I accepted this idiocy, I would never fight for anything ever again in my life.

NO  I said it again.

And I started to cry.  The orderly came and got me and they gave me a shot, and I went night for a few….who even knows…

When I woke, I remembered the conversation and felt panic.  Focused only on the injustice of the fact  I was getting discharged from the Army, because a dirty old man had the hots for me.  (not the case you know but try explaining that to your brain when it’s got a medication hangover and in a state of high anxiety)

I used to have long auburn hair, um, I still do actually just a little streak of grey now,  that I refused to cut, even in training when most of the girls gave in,  and at the end of my shift or coming in from the field, there was never a better feeling than literally letting my hair down, getting out of uniform and being … me.

I was reprimanded and told to put my hair up even off duty when I wasn’t in uniform, and I did get a fair bit, ok maybe more than I knew what to do with, of attention from the boys.

But I wasn’t a face that launched a thousand ships… not too pretty.. not so pretty to be shunned from my chosen commitment to serve my country.   How the hell would I explain THAT one?

Oh hey your home, I thought you had 3 more years to go.  WHat happened?

I was too pretty for the Army.

Uh….wha?

What followed was a combination One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Girl Interrupted and 50 percent concentrated power of will (not the usual 15 percent )

I started hiding the meds under my tongue and spitting them out and when I got to call home, I called a friend instead and begged them to get me out of there.  I argued with the shrink countering every point he made which upon reflection, were few.  I refused.  I would not go home and I demanded to be returned to my unit. Soon.

He said he would think about it, the paperwork was almost done and he would let me know.

When they came to give me my uniform and belongings and walk me off the ward 2 days later,  I had no idea if I was going home or back to work, and desperately wished I had saved the meds I spit out if I had to get on a plane and go home.

I walked out the door to my Section Sergeant waiting for me and was flooded with relief, which I quickly stifled, not wanting to look anything but professional.   My first successful, albeit unknowing, attempt to rein it in, as it were.

I served for 6 more years without a (mental) hitch.  I just shut up and survived.  And kept my eyes lowered afraid someone else would get some stupid idea I didn’t belong there.

But I often revisited that discussion, trying to put it into context with the rest of my life.  It was as if it was a piece to a different puzzle, a loose end.  One of many mind you, but I also look at these little anomalies as clues, that beg to be solved and my brain rehashes them endlessly until they are.  Why why why….

(I’m Gonna Let it Shine…. part 2 )


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12 responses to “This LIttle Light of Mine (mar chuid 1)

  1. My dear…. this is an incredibly beautiful, powerful post, deeply personal and revealing. You have had a long, surely difficult journey, but have reached an epiphany, if today’s post is any indication. I can feel nothing but admiration for your courage and endurance, sadness for your experiences with lack of understanding in those around you, and happiness, no, joy, that you are now beginning to feel and value your own worth. If I wasn’t so glad for you, this would have made me cry (I’ve mentioned my tendency toward such reactions in the past… I’m a sucker for emotional stories), but the obvious acceptance of the pain you’ve dealt with, and the now positive and clear vision of your true nature that you display, kept it from entering the realm of melancholy…. Wonderful post, love, and a joy to read…. Blessed Be, indeed….

    • thank you for your kind and thoughtful words, blessings and .. its ok if you cried. I bawled like a baby.. not quite as whiny..more like silent tears but.. I felt better.. now I guess it remains to be seen where I shall take this.. I have a direction.. I have a good pair of shoes.. :-) and a camera.. my friends.. my “pen” and book.. my faith .. oh! and my glitter (can’t forget the glitter) and ..my little light. ok then..

  2. Oh my God Lizzie! This is red letter day. Today you found your voice. You really have been shining all along. I am soooo proud of my dear cyber daughter right now you can’t even imagine! Truly!

  3. This is an incredibly powerful post Lizzie & I can’t wait to read Part 2. I just feel bad you had to hide yourself for 6 years. I know most of us hide ourselves away by not speaking of our illness out loud, but to stifle it like that must have been extremely difficult for you. Bravo for your courage & tenacity!

    • I guess the saving grace was that I didn;t have a name for it then… but I had had an eating disorder in hs.. and I remember when I was trying to keep it together.. I almost fooled myself that everything was fine…it was after an event that made it apparent that for awhile, I just let it all out and I felt more miserable… I wanted to be recognized for good things and I was an uber perfectionist… then when the house of cards fell down, I got plenty of attention but … pity not pride for / in me… I dunno.. it has been since then so incredibly hard to ask for help.. to admit I need help but I am learning and even very recently I did ask… and was not turned away… I struggle a lot.. but I just keep saying it won;t always be this way.. I hate change..sudden change will floor me…but it is me and I need it… for survival it seems..and Ilove my friends and don;t want to burden them.. but I need them too.. and they have shown me that it is ok to ask for help…

  4. Pingback: Friday Foolishness – It’s Just A Little Bunny Rabbit Edition | Guapola·

  5. Wow. My jaw is on the floor. This is stunningly poetic and reaching. I have been sitting in front of the comment screen trying to think of something worthy enough to reply after that incredible post and all I can think is wow. Thank you for sharing. <3

    • thank you for commenting.. It was hard to do I am not going to lie and I didn;t even look at the comments til that night. I don;t know what I was afraid of but I was drained and scared… I am amazed at the love and support I get from everyone here… :-)

  6. I really like that idea of your light shining through. I’m glad you feel so strong now. What a weird thing to say, that you were too pretty for the army!! he must’ve been a bit loopy.

    • I know right? but putting it into context of now, I think that he was speaking of more than my looks.. he had an excellent grasp of the language – in medical terms but to try to explain in layman’s terms.. searching for a word.. because although the conversation about men not taking me seriously does support the looks part..the part about my brain not being able to function in that kind of world..tells me he was talking of deeper. I wish I could ask – I wish I had been able to understand. although I wonder if I had, which path would I have taken? My will to rebel came from the idiocy of it…and the disbelief that I had no control over my fate..and that my fate was being decided on a bunch of hoey bunk. maybe if I knew then, I would have given up…. I did ask him if he was high lol… but he was so serious all the time.

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