Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Get Yourself Bigger

"I'm here because I want to be. That's the only reason. James, I'm going to call you James, that's ok right? Anyway, I'm here because I want to be here. You have to get that right. When I'm ready to leave I'm going to go find my wife and tell her I'm ready to get things right. But right now I'm too small." That was the first thing Henry said to me. We were sitting in my office, you probably know the drill. You've seen enough movies about the marginalized and depressed. You've seen Edward Norton stare intently at the camera and turn away quickly. Turning into himself, as if there was something deeper there.

I am not a doctor. I don't have the qualifications for this job. I'm not even sure how I ended up doing this. The patients, we call them clients now, talk to me like I am there therapist, because that's what they are used to doing. I guess it is a kind of therapy. Its not part of their weekly hour with their actual therapist. I am supposed to make notes, and I do, because they, the clients, say really interesting things. 

Henry for instance is obsessed with his size. He has been diagnosed with Body Dismorphia, along with the usual list of disorders and maladies that pull people out of the general population, by which I don't mean prison, I mean the actual general population. Henry beat up a man at a bar downtown. He wasn't even involved in the initial fight. Which was started because a man thought a girl was trying to take his coat, when she was in fact making sure it didn't fall. Anyway, Henry beat that man into permanent brain damage. The victim now rides around town on a tricycle because he can't balance on a bicycle anymore. 

Henry turned himself in, two weeks later. He said he was afraid of doing it again. He said he didn't have his head right. I've been talking to him twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays for about six months now. 

The fucking thing is this: Henry is right. Here's what I wrote down from our last session. 

"James, the whole thing with the bodybuilding, I realize now that it wasn't about muscle. I was just being dumb. I was getting bigger in the wrong place. I should have been getting bigger on the inside. You know? Like, oh man, I should have paid more attention in school, what do they call it?" Philosophy is what I chimed in with. "No that's not it, I don't know what it is but that ain't it." Then the meds kicked in a little bit and he lost focus and started staring at the wall. They do that sometimes, the clients. Everyone does it, but the drugs the state gives people here, the drugs exaggerate certain things.

"I'm like a child staring up at the clock at school." He said, this is the sort of disconnected thing that you have to follow with these patients because when you do, oftentimes they end things up in a beautiful way, this is what I have learned. "I'm like a child staring up at a clock on the wall at school, and I don't even see the map of the world next to it, and that's the thing that is ticking away and not the clock. Everyone is ticking away, all of us, and we don't see it because we're focused on the thing that's moving." This is a sentiment that is repeated a lot in here. The world is moving on, and we the witnesses and the victims and the perpetrators are not, because we are beholden to some sort of different time scale than that which rules the outside walls.

I go home to my apartment and think about these things. Then I go to work, I do not work full time at the hospital. They should call it an asylum like they did in the old days, because nobody is getting better, they are only accepting that the staff along with everyone else will become indifferent to them, just like everyone else in their lives. Eventually everyone will stop visiting, parents, siblings, wives, children, everyone stops visiting in the end. Life covers up profundity with reality, and so it goes.

Here sits Henry, a boat against the current, and I can't help but agree with him. He is too small on the inside, and so are all of us. The thing is though that the space that we try to fill is becoming increasingly infinite. We are all trying to bridge an ocean, and Henry is the only person I know who acknowledges that his lifeboat may not breach that ocean, and that is why he beat a man into infirmity. God bless Henry., 

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