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Twisting all the bad things into good

Nov 25, 2011

The Nitty Gritty Part 20: Galeophobia

The waves are crashing in
And I can't save this sinking ship
I sent out signal flares
But no one out there seems to care
And now I'm lost at sea
I'm drowning in what I won't be
I'm haunted by the sound
Sweet sound of my last breath
                               Senses Fail, Lost and Found


            It was not only my hallucinations that were on par with my worst nightmares, so was my life. The delusions just took it that must further.  My guilt, my fears, my regrets, my pain. All were being manifested into my psychosis. What had been a slow downward spiral was now moving at hyper speed. I would escape one nightmare only to find myself in another even more horrifying.
           Addiction and depression were nightmare enough.
           Months of failed detox attempts and withdrawal made the depression worse.
           The coinciding insomnia just made it all unbearable.
           Over the last 5 days, overwhelming fear was the only thing that distracted me from the unshakeable  physical withdrawal symptoms. As awful as my body felt, the mental anguish was worse.

            I had somehow got out of Vegas without being buried in the desert by Criss Angel's thugs.
            Before I could see that as a second chance at life, I found out my father died.
            I barely had time to grieve before finding myself in the company of pimps and whores with their dirty needles.
            I thought escaping prison rape and a crime ridden ghetto would allow me time to finally reflect during the boat ride home.
           I did not have time to get my head straight before I was threatened to have it severed from my body.
           If I had been allowed a moment of peace, I would have realized that I was struggling to keep alive a person who had wished they were never born. I had fought and killed to preserve my despised and wasted life. Since Friday, I had faced more ways to die than I could think of reasons to live. I was about to face another. This was enough to drive a person mad, if they weren't already.
           The cold ocean water made me shake.
           The detox made me tremble.
           The thought of my greatest irrational fear made me shudder.
           If I had a phobia, this was it.
           Don't think about it.
           It was only a matter of time before they smelled it.
           I was covered in it.
           Think about something else.
           Anything else.
           Make your last thoughts be about something good.
           Make your peace.
           Try to forgive yourself.
           It wasn't always like this.
           I tried in vain to prevent the word from entering my mind.
           Too late.
           I'm scared, mom.
           I hear my mother's voice.
          "They can't hurt you, honey" she assures me.
            My treading legs, along with my arms are now convulsing with panic at the mental images of something that I had always been fascinated by. Once the sharks smelled me, there would be no hope. There was nowhere to swim to. I didn't even know in what direction to swim towards the coast. I couldn't talk my way out of a confrontation with a shark. Even with all the rage a man could muster, there was no way to fight off a school of them or even one man eater.

            I did not bother to pray.
            If there was a God, He had given up on me.
            Maybe I had given up on Him first.
            Maybe He could not be bothered with me because of what happened on the boat.
            Maybe I lost my soul from fighting on the boat tonight.
            Maybe I lost my soul from filming on the boat 5 years ago.
            I remember what Doyle said that day.
           "God can't save you here".
            I try distracting myself from the shame.
            I try distracting myself from the sharks.

            I remember being 4 years old. It is one of my earliest memories. It is the moment that introduced me to the concept of fear. My mother was there. So were the sharks. I jumped into her arms when I first saw them. The movie screen at Sea World scrolled up and revealed a huge tank filled with dozens of them.

            I remember being in a McDonalds only a few years later. While I ate my Happy Meal, I saw something on the wall that has stayed with me ever since. It was a picture of a Winslow Homer painting called  The Gulfstream. A black man is lying on the deck of a damaged fishing boat. The rough ocean waves battering the small boat are filled with blood and sharks. A water spout is in the distance. Whether or not I knew it at such a young age, I was deeply affected by the sense of impending doom I saw in it.

            I only thought about the fear I imagined that I would have felt if I were that man. If Homer did not want to convey a feeling of hopelessness, he would not have made the seas so rough. He would have put the man on a boat with a rudder or a ship with a sail. He would not have included the blood in the water indicating the man had not always been alone on this boat. If there was supposed to be any hope to be found in the painting, the artist would not have made the shark's aggression so obvious. He certainly would not have painted an approaching water spout if there was to be any hope of a happy ending.
            The painting had left such an impression on me that I visualized it while I felt my own impending doom approaching. Despite my panic, I started to think of the painting in a different way. I had always noticed, but I had never acknowledged that despite the dire situation, the man was calm. He obviously understands the situation, but he shows no fear. I always imagined that he had once been a slave. If this was to be his death, his only comfort was knowing that he had lived through worse. 
           I hear my mother's voice.
          "They can't hurt you, honey"
           I stop my furious treading.
           I give my legs a rest.
           I float on my back.
           I stare up at the moon.
           I've been through worse.

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