When you’ve thrown up in a bucket because a three month long intrusive thought simply WILL NOT go away, advice like, “Just don’t think about it, you’re not trying hard enough,” becomes offensive and provocative, like lashings of a stick across a bare back.
It doesn’t matter what the thought is, violent or silly – (and some are sillier than others), but the one thing they have in common is that they won’t go away. Like a flickering ghost, it remains until you trick it into the light, or until the next fear squashes it underfoot – I imagine monsters falling off a conveyor belt.
Alcohol distorts it, usually for the worse – yes it can numb it, but it can also poke it in the eye and enrage it. C*caine gives you a forged confidence, a cheap weapon to kill it, but it re-animates in the morning, because the sword wasn’t real, and now you’re depressed and in a sinkhole and back to being useless. It can also fuel it, like spraying oil on a fire. My heaviest indulgences in South America often flash back to haunt me – the times I pulled my hair out, and once threw up against a wall in a Bogota hotel because my thoughts became twisting spikes – dangerously active, like a troubled, twitching child sharpening razor blades. I ruined friendships on that continent, all because I was embarrassed to tell those I was with why I was acting like a selfish dog. I don’t touch the stuff anymore.
Weed can calm me, certainly more than gin, but probably because it puts me to sleep, (and I’m already good at that). It also interrupts my line of thinking, and although that actually helps on one hand, on the other it confuses me to shambles. It offers its best advice at the end of the day, collapsed on my bed, transporting me to those other places.
When I first used LSD at sixteen years of age, (my second drug experience after alcohol), the trip hurled my problems into a washing machine, spinning them so fast they became an elongated blur, the buzz melting my perceptions like marsh mellows in a microwave oven – I called for help but she was lost in space, and that suited me just fine. But the more acid I dropped, the darker my hallucinogenic experiences became. Visions of loved ones’ funerals were so gruesome and felt so real that I panicked in bathrooms, while downstairs friends skipped over rainbows with tap dancing armadillos – Oh, those long misshapen evenings and the carnage I imagined.
It left me in a bag for days – I was a puddle on the ground, a cigarette butt stamped on the ground. At nineteen I promised never to touch acid again. I’ve kept that promise.
So the drugs don’t work and there is no cure, and so succeeding with a tolerable life takes time and considerable amounts of effort. I’m not advocating drugs nor condemning them. It’s a constant clash of steel on steel, fighting OCD on one flank and depression on the other. The horde is relentless, its number infinite, but to win a battle has its particular rewards, and as I mentioned in my last post, I appreciate the quiet times sometimes with nothing more than a smile. But it feels priceless – SO IT IS PRICELESS.
We made it to Moldova; the journey in a crowded marshukta was on slow roads through flat fields and small scattered towns, the horizon blotted out by a blanket of heavy fog. Although I couldn’t see my surroundings further than the fence at the side of the road, I felt relatively good, happy to be on the move. But the crow is a worm-eater, and worm-eaters pick at the ground. I was reminded of sour times, little jabs of false memories that I worried could turn out to be true; torn banners on old battlefields rustling on sudden gusts of wind – like a mischievous God was blowing them back to life; shadows of worlds I should have left behind, wars I’ve already lost but must fight again in a mind-wracking loop. The ground may look dead and worthless, but there are worms rotating beneath that grey soil, and therefore worm-eaters picking them to the surface.
I imagined the great field behind the white fog. And those meek worms turning the soil, the vicious birds digging for their fill. I was the soil AND the sky, the flesh AND the feather – I am the wriggling worm, and I am Crow, the worm-eater.
Another fear rose up like a wave.
‘Oh, F*ck you, Yan, just don’t think about it. You’re not trying hard enough..’
The bus rolled on through squeaking gears, and I clambered off in Chisinau, an austere but interesting capital.
This was a new land, and I thought back to Ukraine with a wry smile. We had located Little One’s Ukrainian family, and as we drank vodka and ate cake around the table with her Uncle and cousins, Crow pulled on a juicy worm – yet he did not get to eat it because I barked and he scattered like it was a blast from the farmer’s shotgun.
We’d sat and watched the Opera in Lviv, and sometimes my eyes burned and it felt like I was chewing mud, but with gnashing teeth I managed to keep the crow at a tolerable distance, far enough away to enjoy the show.
I’d lumbered through some of these days with forced smiles, surviving ’til dusk, when the bottle caps flipped to the floor and forty per cent of my liquid intake aided in my recovery – but not an amount to poke the bull in the eye. I’d also lashed out and fought the worm-eater, and gained experience and pleasure among the detritus of battle. Like a video game villain, Crow the Usurper is king of the hill, but I’ve knocked him about for a few bloody rounds this trip. It’s been interesting times spent in Eastern Europe so far; especially true of the land I rode out of today – so cheers to Ukraine and all who sail in her – (I’ll be back soon, anyway, because I fly to Belarus from Lviv). Until then, ‘do pobachennya.’
So now I am in Moldova, with Transnistria on the fog-strewn horizon. Worm-eaters circle in my smokey skies, one in particular twitching like a nibbling eel. I form the barrel of a gun with two fingers and aim at his desperate red eyes. Another three minute round, Crow?
“One more for the road,” I think would be his reply.
Lying b*stard. It’s never just one more…