Though we couldn’t leave the ward until we’d earned

to wear our shoe laces again, and the problems of the

news-worthy world looked like dreams in someone

else’s pig tail and Candy Land bouncing head, the adult

troubles of the world resembled either an afterschool

program for babies or a Wizard of Oz play put on

by 3rd graders. It’s not that we didn’t care about what

was happening beyond the breakproof glass and

padded safe rooms of the impatient psychiatric unit,

but that the news seemed to be a way of teaching

others to forget that what’s newsworthy

begins with someone with a mental health issue.

We hated all attempts to dismiss deep-rooted

problems for ones that could be all wrapped up

in 24 hours. We were the gatekeepers of the truth,

the givers of real life, and the writers of true love.

When we were ignored, it was because the world

wasn’t brave enough to be sick and begin the

radical process of deep acceptance and self-compassion.  

Yeah, at 16 I did think about killing myself,

and manipulative snake that I am, I even think

I told a girlfriend I’d do it if she didn’t stick around,

a ploy her psychiatrist father had relayed to my own father,

who then asked a guidance counselor family friend

to come over and accompany me to my aforementioned

vacation spot in the tall pines of New Hampshire.

Being admitted against my will was stupid and dumb

and impatient counseling was for crazy people, not us.

Leaning back in a chair in the smoking room at the hospital  

and burning up one of my father’s Lucky Strikes,

so proud I was of the fact that it had no filter,

even though it made me cough in my sleep and smell

like a back alley behind a restaurant.

They’d all get what was coming to them, unvarnished

and too raw to be palatable. That was the plan.

But what a mask I had on then. Even when I took one off

there was another mask under it.

When I threw up at night in my private bathroom

I saw my face in the toilet water covered in colors

even I couldn’t understand, like a frat buddy had

had fun with me in my drunken sleep. But I looked

savage and intimidating, and that was the point.

Each insult I hurled at others I thought were smarter

and dumber than me made me feel like I was being

evacuated from a self that was so angry it could have burned

itself down. Tragic flaw that I was, I was too strong

and too secure behind a piss-stained idea of power

and a door stop pushed under backwards for my own good.

Though I’d have preferred to walk on the crowded classrooms

of my youth like a Kaiju on top of a miniature Tokyo,

or a Jason Vorhees down a hallway that’s always fast enough

to get around the back of you, they made a healer out of me

instead. What flies and hits us aren’t our punches or tears

or catastrophic comments meant to call the cavalry, but our

feelings that, like geese approaching, get louder and more

beautiful the closer they get to us.