FAITHLESS : 2003 : STEPHANIE.ZIOBRO
FAITHLESS
on normal

I probably should have been in therapy much more often than I actually was. But my life was the way I thought that Things Just Were. I thought everybody struggled with the exact same things that I did. To me, my life was Normal. And part of having a Normal Life meant that Dads only showed up occasionally Ė like company.

My father was a merchant marine, which meant that he was out at sea for most of my life Ė up until I was about twelve years old. Starting two weeks after my parents got married, dad had to leave for six months. After six months, he came home for a few weeks, and then he left to be a sailor for another six months or so. And this was how things were. When I was two or three, I had a best friend, Danielle, whose father came home from work every night. But I was never jealous, because I thought it was because there was something wrong with him Ė I thought he was sick, so thatís why he was home all the time. To this day, my mother worries that the root of all my problems is due to the fact that my sister and I basically grew up in a single-parent household, but I have never felt any resentment towards my father for not being around. Ever. What I do remember are the times when he was home Ė it was always like Christmas. (The Christmas part might have to do with the fact that he always had presents for me, but I never associated dad coming home with getting cool stuff from overseas.) It was more like that Christmas Feeling Ė that underlying sense of excitement and anticipation and having new stuff to play with. (As people get older, stress and depression starts to be associated with the holidays, but as a kid, Christmas is the Best Time Ever.)

A little background on dad: He grew up the only child of a sea captain and a sea captainís wife, and he was sent off to military school when he was thirteen years old. Due to this upbringing, according to my mother, his interpersonal communication skills werenít quite up to par. (When I was in high school and stared having boys come to the house, it took hours of convincing that my father didnít actually hate them, he was just quiet. And no matter how sincere I was in my arguments, nobody was ever convinced. They were sure he had a huge shotgun collection that he was just waiting for the opportunity to use Ė which he didnít. But dadís silence was beneficial for me Ė the boys always treated me with admiration and respectÖ) and since most of the years he was sailing were during my childhood, he never really learned how to relate to children very well. This isnít to say he didnít try. Oh, he tried, and I adore him for that. I was two or three years old, and dad was home, and I wanted him to play Barbies with me. In case you didnít know, there are rules to playing Barbies: the key one being that the voices have to be done the correct way. It is simply common knowledge that Barbie speaks in a high falsetto, and Ken sounds like the boogeyman. Well, I didnít have a Ken doll, and dad, already having mastered the boogeyman voice, just could not hit the appropriate falsetto to play with Barbie.

I was so angry.

I refused to ever play Barbies with dad again.

There is a part of me that is so afraid that I truly hurt dadís feelings that day, but the logical side of my brain tells me that he most likely went into the kitchen, laughing, and told my mother about how I screamed at him that he didnít know how to play Barbies the right way. And he probably sat down at the table saying, "Thank God."

If my dad was here right now, (I say that like heís dead Ė heís not. Heís in Wilbraham with my mother and the dogs) Iíd thank him for all the efforts he put into being there for me. Even though my most severe bouts of depression left him at a total and complete loss, he still came into my room to try to do something. Dadís Something was sitting next to me on my bed while I cried, saying nothing, but patting my head. Not stroking my hair, not caressing Ė patting. Like a person who isnít comfortable around dogs "pats" a dogís head. He actually uses that same pat on his own dogs. And as miserable as I was, when dad came in to pat me, Iíd feel the corner of my mouth turn up in as much of a smile as I could muster up.

Little does anyone know, dadís loss of ideas and words and motions Ė his helplessness Ė was exactly what I craved. Mom was always the one with the suggestions, which made me more angry than I already was, because how am I supposed to "shower and go for a walk" when I canít even get out of bed because once I stand up I donít know where Iím supposed to go? "Call up Dr. Borsari" when I canít even breathe? "Take a nap" when thatís all Iíve been doing for the last 78 hours and canít you see it hasnít worked? My mind shut down, and when someone asked, "what can I do?" saying, "beat the shit out of me" or "run me over with your car" seemed so inappropriate. Didnít people know that if I knew what I needed I would do it? There were even issues to that, as well Ė because I knew what I needed, I just couldnít do it. Itís as if youíre paralyzed from the neck down. All that works is your brain and nothing else.

"Get dressed." "Canít, Iím paralyzed."

"Eat something." "Wish I could. Paralyzed."

"Shower." "Um, paralyzedÖ"

And the brain, the one part of you that DOES work, just doesnít fucking work the right way. It becomes a broken record, stuck on the worst lyrics of the most annoying song ever: die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

die

There is no off switch. You want to know what its like? Imagine youíre trapped under an eighteen-wheeler and youíre being crushed to death and youíre in excruciating pain but you canít pass out so youíre wide the fuck awake and all you want is for somebody to help you so you try to scream but either nothing comes out or no one can hear you and no one knows youíre there and you want to get out you want to get out of there so bad but rather than wait for someone to figure out that youíre missing because who knows how long its going to take you hope you just die RIGHT NOW but you canít because you canít move and the weight of the eighteen-wheeler just keeps pressing harder and heavier on your lungs and your heart and youíre stuck.

Youíre just fucking stuck.

So thatís Normal.

What else is normal?

Taking pills every day. Iíve been on everything: Zoloft, Buspar, Paxil, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Risperdal, Trazedone, Ativan, Ceclor. Youíd think that with all the years Iíve been taking pills Iíd be able to make a habit of taking vitamins, as well. But no. Iíll take a vitamin for one day, because my mother tells me I should, and then forget for the next eight months. Thereís a difference between taking vitamins and taking prescription medication. I donít know what that difference is, but there has to be one. Otherwise, why is it so impossible for me to take a vitamin at the exact same moment I take my pill? I could even swallow them at the same time. But I donít. I forget. I forget a lot of things. Actually, thatís not entirely true. I forget where I PUT things. Remember those handy gadgets that people attached to their keys or whatnot, and one day, you canít find your keys, so you clap your hands and a little alarm goes off and you follow the noise and viola! There are your keys! I need one of those gadgets for everything I own. My shoes, my phone, my remote for my TV, my coffee, my wallet, my jacket, the pen I was JUST using, my bagel, my cigarettes, the hammer I just put down two seconds ago to bang that nail in the wall to hang a picture, the picture I just put down so I could put a nail in the wall to hang it upÖ You get the idea.

As for meds, Iíve been lucky with Effexor-XR. Iíve been taking that for two years now. And one day, like the others, it will stop working, and Iíll have to start all over with something new. Go to the doctor, get a prescription, go to get it filled, have trouble with my insurance, fix the trouble with the insurance, get my new pill, try it out for three weeks, find out I still wake up every day wanting to slit my wrists, so see the doctor again, get a different prescription, get it filled (because by now the insurance mess is fixed,) try that one out for a few weeks, find myself still unable to get out of bed every morning, house a mess, bills ignored (although Iíve been getting free cable for about a year now, so I wonít have to worry about that,) and the next trip to the doctor finds me with yet another prescription, so I take that for a few weeks, yet still canít concentrate on anything Ė turn on the TV and not be able to find my remote to change the channel so Iím bored with that already. Turn on my computer and turn it right back off. Open a book, close the book. Start a project Ė maybe Iíll sew fur on something Ė leave the project in the middle of my living room floor after deciding thatís not what I want to do after all. Pace pace pace smoke pace pace smoke pace smoke smoke smoke smoke. Take a sedative, but not Ativan. Iím not allowed to have Ativan after they had to pump a bunch of them out of my stomach. No one believed me when I told them I wasnít trying to kill myself, I just wanted to take a good nap. But I guess when you have to have a vacuum shoved down your throat and your insides sucked out, no one is apt to buy your story. So I take a Trazedone and finally chill out and am inspired to sit down and Make Stuff, but by now itís almost 5am and I have to get up at 8:30 to be at work on time, and even though I took the Trazedone, I canít sleep because my blood consists of 55% caffeine, 35% nicotine, and 10% regular blood stuff, and I tell myself while I stare at the ceiling that I will NOT drink two pots of coffee before noon tomorrow, and Iím pretty motivated by my decision, but I know that when I wake up and have that first cup, before I know it Iíll be wondering how I drank a whole pot without realizing it, and decide that since I already fucked up my plan to Not Consume Mass Amounts of Caffeine, I may as well make another pot, and while pot #2 is brewing, Iíll wonder how much time I can save by just skipping the whole brewing process and dig into the Folgerís Crystals with a spoonÖ so Iíll still be laying there, staring at the ceiling, and I think that maybe Iíll masturbate to relax, but the thought of starting and actually having to use physical exertion to finish is too overwhelming, because who knows how long it will take Ė could take five minutes, could take an hour, and if I havenít had an orgasm after masturbating for an hour, Iíll be pissed off that I wasted all that time for nothing, so I nix the masturbation idea and just lay there and lay there and lay thereÖ

This is Normal.

So then Iíll get yet another prescription, and as the weeks go on, Iíll find that I can get out of bed and I can concentrate on one thing at a time and I no longer cry every single day, and my Normal Life continues. Iíll drink too much coffee, smoke too many cigarettes, tell myself every night "tomorrow Iím going to get my bike from Jimís house and Iím going to ride it everywhere and be healthy." And Iíll wake up the next morning, smoke a cigarette, drink a cup of coffee, check my e-mail, smoke another cigarette, drink more coffee, decide that Iím not healthy enough to start getting healthy, which is completely logical to me, and spend the rest of my morning Making Stuff or getting my bills in order or, if the moon is in the correct house, clean my apartment. Iíll go to work, where Iíll drink more coffee and smoke more cigarettes Ė despite the fact that by 2pm that day I was so strung out on caffeine and nicotine that Iím surprised I didnít drive off the road or submit to road rage on my way to the restaurant. Iíll offer people soup or salad with their New York Strip Steak, get them more napkins, refill their coffee, groan inwardly when someone orders a Shirley Temple, cringe when they ask for a water with lemon. (Incidentally, when I went to the Bahamas this year, I found out that if you ordered water with lemon, you were charged for lemonade. After I caught on Ė it only took one time Ė I found this "policy" fascinating and thought it could be beneficial for restaurant workers everywhereÖ) Iíll waver manically between the point of caffeinated elation and dehydrated exhaustion. Iíll drive home and check my voicemail, say "well, fuck all yíall" to everyone in general when I have no new messages, check my e-mail, (see previous sentence) and since Iím already signed on, Iíll order something online, despite the fact that my credit card is nearly maxed out, but one of my favorite things is getting presents in the mail, even if I already know what it is. Then Iíll finally lie down in bed and begin my nightly fantasizing: Iím in a horrible car accident, which leaves me alive, but with a fucked-up face and the need for a cane to be able to walk. Iím raped at a club or in an abusive relationship, both of which I survive, but my face is a disfigured mess. And when people talk to me, I wonít complain or be depressed Ė Iíll have my ever-so-cheerful outlook, yet my face will show the world how much pain Iím actually in. Iíd never have to say another word about it. And that would be the most wonderful thing in the world. And at last Iíll drift off to sleep and dream vivid yet non-thrilling dreams. And the next morning, Iíll wake up, and do the same thing all over again. A dull, vicious circle. Or is it viciously dull?

And this is also Normal.