Every day I wake up somewhat confused. Every day I wake up feeling like I was in a car accident. Some days I wake up feeling like I was hit by a bus. It is all a matter of degrees.
My life changed in many ways when I got sick, spent twelve days in the hospital having every conceivable test run and being discharged because "we don't know what's wrong with you." My blood tests were, according to one doctor, "like that of a dead person." I was barely able to laugh. Since my diagnosis of systemic Lupus, being put sort of into functional mode thanks to medication, every day is an effort. Some more than others.
A year and a half ago I had to stop working. I'm now on disability. I pushed myself hard to work for another year and felt I did some good work with recovering addicts during that time. This is what drove me for so long, working to help people find a better path to travel. Now, I operate mostly from my home control center, contributing to websites that help people find their way out of dark places. And I still can't help having people approach me randomly when I'm out so they can tell me their life stories. This was a difficult adjustment. When you can no longer work you feel useless, and even though my path smacks me in the head if I even start to feel useless, the impact of this was great and required months of therapy to adjust to. Now I have plenty of free time. The problem is I also have no energy and live in constant pain that ranges from a baseline of about a three and zooms upwards at times.
I follow signs, believing in my madness that they are taking me somewhere. Life is an adventure or it isn't. I'll take the adventure every time, but when I push myself too hard physically, my body reminds me it is consuming itself when I wake up unable to move.
The sign was the appearance of the long predicted and denied fourth queen. How would I know her? The dreams told me she'd tell me when we met for the first time that she was the dark queen, but alas the dark queen did not exist. She was the end of the journey. And when I met a new nurse at my last job, introducted myself and had her reply by saying, "I'm a dark queen. You don't want to know me." The sign that the journey was over arrived. Was I now going to die? No, as it turns out, it was just a sign that told me it was okay to rest and to stop pushing onwards with the relentless drive I've had for the past quarter century. I'm used to my life running at full tilt boogie speed. Now it is powered by rubber bands that break regularly.
What does it mean to rest? I solved the riddle of the three queens. Three queens in rapid succession, each fitting the type and interaction of the queens of the past. "Find what was lost and begin again," the dreams told me. And so the pattern revealed itself one more time. This time there was a catch. These queens were young enough to be my daughters. Two of them are devoted to the love of other women. The sex and romance part was removed from the equation this time. Without that attraction and sexual tension, it was much clearer.
"The Jack serves the Queens. The Queens serve the realm. Know this and you will know the answer." It wasn't about finding love or that sort of thing. It was about empowerment. Everyone struggles to find their way. Everyone wears masks in public except the ones labelled mad and eccentric. Most people would rather avoid those labels. "Dude, you've spent the last quarter century empowering women, usually without even realizing it," a friend told me as I struggled with feeling useless after I stopped working. This is the nature of the Three Queens, the nature of the pattern. The One Queen must know she is divine. The Two Queen must know she is second best to no one. The Third Queen must be realized as the friend and travelling companion she's always been. What did I do in the past? I elevated the One Queen to divinity while trying to solve the riddle of her nature. I treated the Two Queen like a second option. And I pushed the Three Queen away after she rescued me, always regretting losing her when I failed to remind her that she mattered. The great lingering regret of my life, not being there for Tammy when she needed me after she saved my life and put me on the path forward, sits like a rock in my gut.
Everything's on loan here...
There is only one reasonable response to this lingering regret. There is only one response to the appearance of the dark queen, who is actually filled with an enormous amount of light regardless of how she thinks of herself. It was time to rest, to stop pushing forward down a difficult path, but it was time to finally really write the whole story. Tammy read everything I wrote. She kept it all. The original drafts of the story, which only included up to 1998, are probably still in her possession. She also reads voraciously. How do I let a woman who saved me, who I left believing that I thought she was disposable and unimportant? I write the book. I give it the title she gave it, A Dead Guy Walks Into a Bar, and I dedicate it to her. In its pages I will tell her how I truly felt about her, even as I avoided expressing it for fear of giving someone else the impression that I was romancing her co-workers. She is, after all, the most important of all the queens. She was the one who gave me the answer. She was the one who saved my life by saying, "If you give up then what are the rest of us supposed to do." That, it turns out, was the answer I'd been sent to find. It just took me eighteen years to realize it.
You see, because of what she did, everything I was able to achieve over the next two decades would not have been possible. And she thinks she didn't matter. I remember what that feels like. And I have no other way to reach her. I let her slide into the mists after pushing her away and then realizing my mistake after it was too late.
When I died, or did whatever you prefer to believe, I came back with a relentless drive to live following a suicide inspired by feeling useless and meaningless in a world that had become very cold to me. I came back feeling light, happy, and free from the pain derived from the traumatic moments of my past. I didn't know what to do other than enjoy my life for a change, but I was haunted by vivid, lucid dreams that told me I was in the wrong place, that I needed to find a woman, to follow the pattern of the three queens, and that would give me the answer to why I needed to reclaim my life. If I gave up, then what was everyone else supposed to do?
Situations in my life since my suicide have actually been worse that my situation at that time, but my perception
was different. The struggle is determined by how we respond to it. If we are not prepared to respond, to deal with situations, they become far worse. In 1999 I faced a major crisis because I had a gambling addiction that had consumed my finances and left me in debt to some people who seemed nice when I met them but really weren't. I couldn't give up. I found my way out, later on applying what I learned from that experience when working with recovering addicts. It is in the brain chemistry. Some people are more wired to addictive behavior than others. There was a wild rush I got from gambling. The high of the big win, and the high that came from the big loss because now I had to get it back. I loved that high and let it consume me. In 2007 I faced horrors that left me with post-traumatic stress disorder
that I didn't deal with properly for two years until it hit me so hard in the face I couldn't get off the floor for two days. And, in 2014 I was diagnosed with Lupus, and in my case it is a particular vicious creature. My immune system
is overpowered. Part of me believes it is why I was able to come back from death after consuming five times the amount of liquor and pills it would take to kill me. My immune system refused to let me die, and now it is fucking with me hardcore. Amongst other things, I'm on the kind of drugs they put organ transplant patients on. It had taken a lot to suppress my immune system enough so that I can be as functional as I am.
Time ticks away. Strangely enough, the way I live now has caused time to feel like it is dramatically speeding up. Work on the book is slow. It derives a lot from the notebooks I kept over the years, prior drafts, and the reflections I've made in writeups on this site. To keep me honest, every version of the story I wrote along the way was given to someone to hold onto. This keeps me honest. Dead men tell no tales, and I did that to keep myself from adding elements just to make the story flow better. Everything is true. It is the only way to write the story of my journey which began with a dramatic experience that runs parallel to the resurrection myths of many cultures. The hero emerges reborn and begins a new, more meaningful life in which his or her actions inspire and empower people. That is the journey I took. It is the same as the quest for the Holy Grail, which any good mythologist knows is a metaphor for that which you can never quite reach but never give up on. The grail is symbolic of the answer to, "Why do I exist here?" It is what has been forgotten. It is best reflected in the story of The Fisher King. When you find what is lost it restores you. My quest was to avenge my own death by proving to myself that I did matter. That was what drove me all those years.
Thought time was on your side...
Over two decades of this site, many have fallen along the way. Illness has claimed the lives of notable noders. Suicide has claimed others. Some have been badly broken and wandered off with no one knowing what became of them. Others are dealing with life situations and illnesses that have reminded them time is never on our side. It is a tool to use but it is not our friend. You keep hammering those nails, but eventually the hammer starts hitting you in the face.
I am coping marvelously well. Last year, I wasn't, at least for the first half of the year, but then I remembered after the dark queen told me she was "becoming more light," that there was still work to do. The nature of the work has changed. Perhaps after twenty-five years, what I did to myself on the night of June 6, 1994, is coming back to kick my ass. The morning after my suicide, I was paralyzed completely for six hours. Now I wake up in the same state but it doesn't take nearly as long to start moving. It is a constant reminder that I am still alive. It is a reminder I why I am still alive.
"The Jack serves the Queens. The Queens serve the realm. Know this and you will understand. You already know what to do."
I have come to know thirteen women I have elevated to the status of queen in my personal mythology, which is the number that often appeared in my vivid dreams of Rancho Nuevo. The pattern of the three queens was not a single pattern. It was a repeating pattern that told me I was often thinking selfishly when it came to the queens, often blinded by passion and lust, instead of realizing them as individuals.
I am the Jack of Rancho Nuevo and I will never stop giving everything I can to everyone I know. This is who I am. I have work to do.
Tick, tick, tick, tick...