I was never sure if the lightbulb was a magical amulet or just something I needed to take to Lowe’s so I could find a match for the burnt-out fixture in my bedroom. Once I put it in my purse, I felt very sure that it must never leave my possession.
Things have been all over the place for me. I’ve completely lost track of what day it is, as I am on medical leave from work until I can start Clozapine and, I hope, get myself back on track. My mom warned me of the possibility that I may not be able to go back to school this semester, even though I’ve been looking forward to it. I have nothing to fill my days with except endless trips to the library, AA meetings, and trying (and failing) to avoid cigarettes. My therapist is on vacation and won’t be back until the New Year.
Back to the lightbulb. It had something to do with protection. When my psychosis first manifested, I would wrap my fingers in silver tape that I found in Target’s crafting section. “It keeps the Bad Men from watching,” I would mumble when pressed for an explanation of this bizarre behavior. Well, Target has stopped selling this particular tape, so the lightbulb became my source of protection. Last night, I affixed it to a piece of pink yarn and looped it around my neck. It dangled comically low on my body, close to my hips, and got caught up in my headphones. I went outside to smoke before going to bed; it was nearly 11:30 at night, and when I stood up, the lightbulb fell from the slipknot I had tied and shattered on the ground.
Normally, this wouldn’t be enough to send me into hysterics, but I’d been talking with James via text right before this. At first, having a male sponsor seemed like a good idea. My rational mind knows that James has nothing but good intentions. However, the traumatized, paranoid part of me is terrified of him. He is a man, through no fault of his own, and I can’t help but see him as a predator, a potential rapist.
I spoke with other women in AA (in an online forum, at meetings, etc.), my mom, Rebecca, and my good pal AJ about having James as a sponsor. The reactions were mixed. My therapist encouraged me to continue working with him so that I could learn that not all men are predators. “But what if he is?” I couldn’t help asking.
It’s a lot easier for me to send a text message than to say words out loud, even over the phone. Partly because I can’t be interrupted, but also because I’m a much more eloquent writer than I am a speaker. So, around 11:30 last night, James received a long text message from me explaining that although I appreciated that he wanted to help me, I’m just not ready to accept that help yet.
I was afraid of his reaction, but he conducted himself like the gentleman he’s proving to be. His response was something along the lines of, “That’s awesome! I’m so proud of you for setting healthy boundaries. Please just find someone to work with, don’t drink, and keep going to meetings. Call me anytime.”
He’s going to be an amazing counselor someday, and I told him so.
My roommate Colette and I have had a rocky year. I’ve had some glaring character defects such as anger and harshness that I need to work on, and she’s done a lot of soul-searching and healing herself this year as well. I’m grateful that we’re both now at a place where we consider each other friends and can live together in peace.
Last night when my magical amulet/lightbulb shattered, she heard my crying on the front porch and came outside to see what was wrong. “I broke my lightbulb,” I sobbed. I was frozen in my chair, rain was pouring down, and music was blasting inappropriately loudly for the hour from my phone.
“Okay…” Colette said. “Do you need help?”
“I don’t know what to do!” I was absolutely distraught. It was as if the lightbulb was the only thing holding my sanity together, though it was probably doing just the opposite–forcing me deeper into the delusion that I was in danger and needed protection.
“Let’s clean it up. Do you want to call your mom? I think we should probably call your mom,” Colette said kindly. She knelt down and picked up the shattered pieces of the magical amulet/lightbulb, cupping them gently in her hand.
We went inside, and I called my mom and told her what happened. “Why don’t you come over?” Mom said. “Can you drive, or do you want me to come get you?”
“I can drive,” I said tearfully. I was starting to calm down. I wondered why the lightbulb had been so important to me. It was just an everyday object. It wasn’t even useful anymore; it was burnt out, after all.
I made it to my parents’ house safely, took my nighttime medicine, and went to bed. In the morning (more like the afternoon. I didn’t wake up until almost noon.), I talked about the incident with Mom. She was just as puzzled by the whole thing as I was.
I can’t say why the lightbulb became a magical amulet. I can’t say what I need protection from. But I am proud of myself for knowing what’s right for me and choosing to run towards that instead of continuing to create chaos in my life. I can tell you countless stories of when my curiosity got the better of me and I got involved with someone I shouldn’t have.
It’s almost as though the lightbulb was keeping my trapped in my delusions, where things are safe, where I can keep the real world with all its monsters and men at arm’s length. I am somewhat more connected to reality as I write this, thinking less of which men in my life are secretly Cerberus, and more of the hopes that Rebecca’s Christmas present will arrive on time. When the lightbulb shattered, I was given the opportunity to make not one, but two good decisions (something I so rarely do for myself). I played it safe with James, choosing not to let a man who is, objectively, a stranger into my life, and I chose to rip the band-aid of psychosis off and force myself back into reality.