A Disorder Behind A Disorder
My first memory as a child is of a little boy named Ian pulling down my pants in front of cars driving our neighborhood street, telling me to be Madonna while he pretends to be Dick Tracy. He had no doubt seen recently seen the famous film starring Warren Beatty and the infamous singer that has become synonymous with unbridled sex. I was exposed and vulnerable, alone with a friend who had seen a sex scene that should have been forbidden by his parents, this much I assume. Why it matters seems foreign to me and yet this is where it starts.
A man named Reggie tells me we all have a disorder behind our disorder. Mine is bipolar disorder tho I know there’s something deeper. What doctors tell me is a vicious and never ending cycle of mania and depression must have a root that lies not in biology and chemistry but a psychological underpinning that can only be traced thru reflection and analytical perspective brought on by a crisis and willingness for change. I know I’m homeless and I want meaning behind what I’m going thru. And Reggie is the mentor I’ve been looking for.
He’s bald and missing teeth, a black man in his late 50s, who tells the group he recently had a colostomy bag attached to his stomach. His addiction was dope and penchant for violence, admitting he was the man who would not only stick you up with a pistol for whatever cash was in your wallet but also the one to knock you on the head with the butt to make sure you knew who you were dealing with. I listen when he speaks.
Reggie tells us his disorder began when he looked thru a keyhole and saw his uncle’s ass bouncing up and down above a naked woman. That was when it started, the addiction worming it’s way thru his brain, leading him down a dark and haunted path that would result in him being homeless and admitted into the City Mission’s Program, the very program I’m in right now. He finished 21 years ago. I’ve been here 2 months.
We congratulate each other on our recovery and listen to crack addicts lecture us on how to behave, and it’s while I drift in and out of meditation that I realize where my disorder began. I crave attention and fall under the influence of forces leading down my own twisted and crooked paths, on that has led me to leave my home in Toledo and surrender my political makings for that of a spiritual leader, tho I only follow Jesus. My discipleship under his care began 2 weeks ago, tho Reggie is the man I listen to in real life.
Ian went on to military school and became a goth head, garbed in black as I recall the last time I met him. That was in high school over 10 years ago. I wonder how he’s doing.
I’ve craved discipline my whole life, and an education that can only be found among elite suburban housewives and lawyers who go to Ivy League Colleges and Universities. Now I realize I’ve been given the greatest education there is. I have 2 college degrees– 1 in English Literature and the other in Secondary Education. It’s time to close the books and learn the streets, where I find myself locked in a battle now of control and comfort, seeing ultimately that the road to this destination is paved with humility and patience and great sense of thankfulness that is owed to Christian organizations willing to take in a bum such as myself.
I’m told my disorder is bipolar, and yet mania and depression are just larger symptoms that can boiled down to anxiety and doubt. I have no faith in god or God, let alone myself. Here at the mission I’ve found Jesus and a sense of closure on my past. It is written that Jesus sent out two apostles to travel their surroundings with no food or clothes but just to carry the tunic on their backs. I stumble across Cleveland without a wallet, keys, or a phone. I feel like my whole life has been training me to survive this.
So that’s my disorder behind my disorder. I’ve found faith in the form of charity, tho I wait patiently for my own Moses moment where God will turn a rod into a snake and show my hands covered in boils.
And yet I’m told to wait patiently, to follow my own hands and feets, to cast aside my own wants and needs and listen to what Jesus is asking of me. Everything I want will be provided, but it will happen on his time and in his way, and from that I will learn obedience.
Once in awhile my feet will take me somewhere aimless, perhaps down an alley or down a hallway of a hotel that I have no reservation or room booked at. I feel silly and discouraged, asking him why do I even do this. He slowly tells me over the years to learn to follow myself and all will be revealed. Reggie says there’s a disorder behind a disorder. I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for order and structure.
My stomach tells me when I’m full. My tongue tells me what I need to eat. My head wants to fight what my cells know is necessary. I’m tired of fighting myself. I’m tired of feeling sick and dumb. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed for expressing myself.
Ian exposed me to the world. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed. I was a little boy doing what my friends asked of me. What I needed was a father and spiritual guide. Instead I found men who only led me down paths of misery and self-hatred. I’m ready for a true education, one that will allow me to become the human that I am destined to be. I know my disorder behind my disorder. It starts with listening to a child who only has his own self-interest at heart.
That first memory was when I was three years old. I began out of shame and embarrassment, a boy exposing himself to adults who knew no better than to look away at such foolishness. Now is the time to heal and mature. Now is the time to control myself and my hindering urges. I don’t need attention. I don’t need a mentor. I just need to listen to what my own heart is telling me. And that is to write this and to share with the world what few will want to hear. Now is the time to expose myself again for the child I am and to accept the responsibility that I’ve been given. Stop giving to myself and start helping others and all will come. The difference now tho is that this isn’t a little boy telling to pull my pants down. This is God commanding me to bare my soul so that all can see the scars that have formed over my heart.