I am, have always been, and will always be, at the core of my existence, a rebellious soul.
When my father finally got me back from the home broken beyond belief where I lived for the first thirteen years of my life, I had nowhere to go. No room to breathe, or to live. He was protective. He ran a tight shift and had eyes everywhere. Like my home had been, rules suddenly were meant to be broken, and I broke them every chance I got. It was my only opportunity to feel alive again. Alive like my mother has felt her entire life, and has taught me to do, whether either of us like it or not.
My doctor warns me all the time how lucky I was to get out of there when I did. That if my father hadn’t scooped me up and given me the opportunity to learn the lessons he taught me in those five years before I jumped ship at eighteen, like other generational members of my mother’s side of the family, I would be a raging sociopath.
As a result, in adulthood, I bend the rules. I speed in my car just enough as to not make a mess of the freeway; I trade the policies of my day job to do things the way I know they can be done better; I don’t sleep; I work harder than any person I’ve ever met.
I work way too much.
I talk a lot about psychosis and how much it affects me. Specifically, at my day job. The corporate culture in Los Angeles is guided by stress; in the eyes of the executives, there is no other way to do things other than to dress conservatively, speak to no one, and get everything done right now exactly how they say it should be done. The tension is a taut wire that will bring everything down with it when cut. Even those with no mental illness walk the edge of their own insanity every single day. Creatives cannot survive in this environment. They also cannot survive in their own environment because life is too expensive here. Throw in a serious mental illness and sometimes we consider checking ourselves in to a mental institution if only to sleep for a while. (If you’ve been there, you know this is a disgusting joke.) I have these issues frequently. Another meeting. Getting yelled at for something that is not my fault and nearly reaching the breaking point of my schizophrenia-riddled mind. Wondering why I’m still here.
I’ve wanted to move out of this place for what seems like my whole life. Somewhere that is cold (like my heart!) and is beautiful and is uncomplicated and is peaceful. Somewhere where the quality of life is so much better there than it is here. My friends know this. They know I love that place, wherever it may be. Why haven’t I gone yet, they usually ask me. And usually the answer is oh, I don’t know. I can’t afford it or I don’t want to leave my friends or I can’t afford it. Us humans, we have a valid excuse for everything. Except the regret that comes along with the chances we didn’t take. There is never a valid excuse for that.
I have a friend who knows everything that I go through on a daily, because I am open with him. He knows about the fire. Seeing how close you can get before you get burned. He knows because like me, he tests the flames by bending the laws of life.
He’s been telling me forever to get out of here. If he thinks I don’t already know, he’s not as smart as I thought he was, but the ideal in his aura seems more prevalent with the balance of age and schizophrenia. With the rate of death of the mentally ill in this country, I feel as if there is a connection there. Like, the longer you live with a mental illness in this country, the stronger you are, because the harder it gets with each day that passes.
By this point, I don’t even know if I can feel the heat of the flames anymore. I like to tell myself that I am living and breathing the rebellion of a life outside of these eight-hour-walls, but is that true? An author friend made less than half as much in royalties than she did last year. Is the life I seek even possible, or do I work myself until my bones are brittle for nothing? Have I walked too far into the fire? Absolutely. But how do I get out before it eats me alive? Do I want to? And why does the fire matter so much to us?
The fire matters because it keeps us warm, until it doesn’t. To achieve the balance we seek, we should all know the difference between the warmth and the burn, and be mindful of it. I must remind myself of this on a daily, because the more the voice of reason wants to be heard, the more I want to prove to reason that it doesn’t know shit.
Reason has been wrong before, but so have I.