I have a massive crush on a schizophrenic.
Note: All characters have been fictionalized to protect their identities.
September 9, 2022 Writings from the Nuthouse, Redux
I have a massive crush on a schizophrenic.
R* is so not my type, but so my type. He’s in his early 40s, bald, short and stocky. He has the most incredible green eyes. He is so funny. I laugh out loud, and nobody laughs out loud in a psych hospital. He’d laugh with me, and then others would laugh. His goodness, his humor is simply infectious. R* is snarky and witty and smart. He’s kind and thoughtful and extroverted as all hell. He’s probably the most interesting person I’ve ever met.
R* has constructed an entire universe in his own mind. Sometimes, he’ll go on about some concept that is completely unreal, but so meticulously crafted, it's believable. It's the stuff of really good science fiction.
The first time I figured out he lived in a parallel universe was when he talked about walking 486,000 miles and “the 20,000 books of Shales”. After a while, I figured out Shales was his surname. From what I could glean, he’s lived at least 40,000 years, he’s had multiple identities, and he’s immortal. On his “walk arounds”, he simply finds someone that wants to “twin” with him. They swap characteristics, absorb one another's memories and learnings, and continue on their way.
When I first figured out R* lived in such an incredible place, I did what I usually do: ask questions. That shut him down. I kept doing it for a while until I realized that shut him down. Then I quit asking questions. I just let us both relax, and when he started talking, I pretended his stories, ramblings really, were not the most absorbing I’d ever heard. Because when I really focused on him, he’d just shut down. I didn’t want that. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know all of him, what was inside, what he was thinking, what he was feeling. He’s protective of his inner world. He knows people think he’s crazy, not reality based. It’s only when he forgets his own mind has cost him his freedom time and again that he shares snippets of his adventures.
People are actually made of a jello-like substance. Not like "Jello" jello, but like gelatin, he explained patiently, his eyes holding mine intently. It’s not so floppy it doesn’t hold form and shape, and it gets firmer as we age. We are all from a basic mold, but we sculpt our physical characteristics however we wish. We start out clear, and on our walk arounds, we choose our colors – maybe blue blood, a green liver. We design every inch of us with shapes and colors we feel best define who we are. When we twin, we swap characteristics with our twin.
So, that’s nowhere near a perfect recount. It is only the surface of the probably five minutes I listened to him go on about this birthing/rebirthing process until I couldn’t get out of my own way and I started asking questions. That was the most interesting of his telling’s, and I shut him down.
I wanted to know more, I wanted to see it all in my mind, own it all for myself. I wanted to live in R*’s world. Instead, I got only very fleeting glimpses of his universe. There were so few days, so few minutes with him. I long to be with him again, just to drink him in, look into his other-worldly green eyes, watch his expressions as he shares the incredible details of his world.
We played Rummy for hours. Then he taught me King’s Corners. If I just bantered with him, when he relaxed in my presence, when he finally trusted me, that is when the telling’s would emerge. He would very occasionally forget the fact everyone else in the world believes he’s crazy and not able to care for himself. It was only then he was truly authentic.
It is his natural state, as is mine, to be his authentic self. That is what drew us to one another, or rather, drew me to him. He was reluctant to let me in, to let me see his truth. But somehow, I made it through that seemingly impenetrable barrier of self-protection. I love that about me. I can do that. It has given me more joy than anything, my ability to put people at ease. It is then I experience the incredible miracle of receiving flashes of the images and impressions of their souls.
When I think of R*, I have an inexplicable sense of longing for his universe. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, a place of total freedom. In that universe, you live Free Will in its purest state. There is total happiness and acceptance there, and bad things just do not happen. It’s only when R* is drawn down, pulled down, by the weight of this ugly world that doesn’t share his truth, that bad things happen. That is when he suffers. He has suffered greatly.
That is all for now. There is so much more. To be continued…
“As well as being one of the worst things that can happen to a human being, schizophrenia can also be one of the richest learning and humanizing experiences life offers.”
-Mark Vonnegut in his “Letter to Anita” at the end of “The Eden Express: A Personal Account of Schizophrenia”
Artwork a gift from R*