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Breaking Free

     The  chocolate  hit as I was writing a letter home.  I just smiled and realized,  yes, I was high.   I wasn’t sure I wanted to be.  The bad patches come as well but, if I keep breathing,  I will be okay.   A few days of ennui while reading the most horrific book, “Unbroken” about Louie Zamperini’s true experiences at the hands of the Japanese during World War II.  An amazing story full of understanding of the human mind: the the strength it needs to withstand the onslaught of abuse.

     Mental illness can be a defense against horror.  Those that had had a good life kept their dignity and remained sane if not battered.

     I feel my embarrassment when I look back at my freak out at a party, in public.   A group stood around me trying to talk me down.  People eyed me or judged me.  Some were compassionate and looked sadly on as I repeated, per some psych 101 student, “my name is Rachel and I am at Mary’s birthday party.”

     I was on the pinnacle of change having just left my husband during the changes of the late sixties.  I had moved into a small apartment with my two children and planned to be a Socialist-feminist bra-burning organizer as a Vista Volunteer.   I was falling into another world outside the middle class Jewish, high school cheerleader one that I knew but didn’t feel at home in.

     This new one seemed alive with women talking about rights and freedom, not their ailments or the kids or new clothes and manicures.  It was a breath of fresh air that I hadn’t known about, cloistered as I was having gone from high school to marriage with only one year in the dorms of college.

     So I stepped off the ledge and trusted that I would land, whether safe or not didn’t matter.  I had to leave and this was the life alternative that I had found.

     So at Mary B’s I lost it among my women’s group and the man I thought I loved and the woman he loved.  The group surrounded me and had me repeat my mantra until I was stable.

     At the end of the night one of the men fucked me, like a marine.  I suppose it was his payment for helping.  I had no idea why or what I was doing.

     I didn’t really flip out until nine months later, the next September after I left my husband in January and moved the kids to the inner city, definitely not the burbs.

     In many ways I was quite capable and could make arrangements and do my job.  I was quirky that way in my insanity,  as if mania and depression, lucidity and psychosis were on a twenty-minute cycle.   I could choose at random the face I wanted to project and probably during the climax of my insanity was saying exactly what I wanted to say.

     I was free.  I had broken out, not broken down.  The doctors at the State hospital and Yale/New Haven Hospital had different take.  But that’s another story.



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