Once upon a time, a few years back, I took a powerful synthetic cannabinoid and made a choice. And then all hell broke loose.
Strange, but true.
It’s been pointed out to me that my last three posts are confusing. This, of course, is a stylistic device, and corresponds to my mental state during the period under consideration. But actually, it’s more than that. The truth is that I’ve never really understood how I came to be where I am today, in this life, in this relationship. I can’t make sense of the past, or of the passage from that past to this present.
This, I think, is why I’m writing this blog.
The events I described happened as I described them. I had been someone, and then I was with Edith. I don’t really remember who I was before, and it’s becoming harder to remember who I was then. Indeed, since I started the antipsychotics, it’s getting hard to remember who I was a month ago. I realise that I’m writing about things I remember, but that my relation to them, what I felt or thought, is somehow absent. In some strange way, what is absent is Badger as a person.
I’ve never really been, or become, a person. Well just fancy that.
I really can’t tell you who I was up until the period I’ve been describing in my last three posts. The memories are there, but I no longer inhabit them. I can make suppositions about myself – about what I did and why I did what I did – on the basis of my memories, but when I try to describe or explain what happened, what I experienced as happening, all I can give is metaphor.
I could analyse metaphor. But for once, I won’t .
As far as I understand things, for most of my life I’ve been living with a latent psychosis, and four or five years ago it became manifest. What it meant to live with the latent psychosis, what it was “like”, is no longer available to me. I can’t give a more exact account of the events I’ve been describing, of what I thought or felt or intended. It’s impressionistic, oneiric. I had met Edith, and something in her polarised and crystallised certain elements of my personality. I became some thing that took form from my relationship with her. I think. But then this could be a reflection of my thinking since my psychosis became manifest. Or the whole thing could be a narrative imposition on an amorphous clump of experiences and events.
I could develop the implications of that remark. But for now, I won’t .
I was with Edith, and Edith gave me Form. And then there was Charlotte. Charlotte didn’t fit. Charlotte shook things up. That’s as simple a summary as I can give of my last three posts. I think I can stick my neck (at least) out and say that the whole things was intimately entwined with my libido. This is fucking Dali.
Another bloody metaphor.
I’ve talked about my tendency of seeing everything in terms of symbols and metaphor. Until I started medication, this was … well, I think I was living in the emotional equivalent of a Bosch painting. Everything had meaning. I’m not sure what strange understanding of my relationship with Charlotte I had at the time, but I began classic narcissistic transfer from Edith to her while denying to myself that I was. I became increasingly critical of Edith both in my day-to-day life with her and in my online exchanges with Charlotte; at the same time, I subjected Charlotte to a crescendo of idealisation that led to my creating an entirely unrealistic mental image of her that bore little resemblance to who she actually is. I’ll return to this in my next post – it’s so ridiculous that it can only be given in the form of humorous anecdote.
Bear in mind, Gentle Reader, that at this time Charlotte and I had never met in the flesh. Indeed, I didn’t even know what part of the country she lived in. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the summer holidays, it seemed (to me, at least) increasingly inevitable that we were going to meet. I specify “to me” as I’m now not at all sure Charlotte saw things in the same way. I really didn’t know how I felt about the idea of meeting.
So, it being holiday time, Edith and I left for our customary three weeks in England where I fully intended to meditate on the best course of action with the help of a hefty dose of αMT. Save that, on arriving in the UK, I discovered that αMT had been banned and that the only effective designer drugs available were the (then) new generation cannabinoids. With even less than my usual caution, I smoked the same quantities of the synthetic as I would have used had it been weed. The trouble is, not only is it far stronger than any natural weed, but its effects are very different, and resemble more some kind of hallucinogen. And, while weed can sometimes provoke mild paranoia, the synthetic can provoke a kind of profound, dissociative, existential paranoia.
Given that I was already in a state of uncertainty about the future of my relationships with both Edith and Charlotte, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the more I smoked, the more I was subject to intense moments of anxiety about the course of action I should take. This culminated in a memorable evening when, while sitting on the bed in the holiday cottage chatting online with Charlotte, I underwent a kind of complete existential breakdown. I’ve talked a bit about how narcissism is fundamentally solipsistic, but this was solipsism as direct experience. Nothing was real, save what I experienced directly through my senses, and only what I experienced directly through my senses was real. Thus, the cooing of the wood pigeons was real, but not the pigeons themselves; the heat of the sun on my closed eyes, but not the sun; my children’s voices, but not my children. The sense of dissociation became so strong that I had to stop typing, and I remember staring at the computer wondering whether Charlotte was even real. And then it occurred to me that, at that moment and in that state of awareness, she was neither more nor less real than Edith, neither being directly available to my senses, but solely present to my memory. And it further occurred to me that, both being as it were equal before my contemplative and speculative faculties, my inclination tended inexorably towards Charlotte; and thus was my preference fix’d.
OK, this might sound a bit far-fetched as a way of deciding my future, but I was baked. And the decision stuck. Over the next couple of weeks I continued overusing the synthetic, and as I did so, my relationship with Edith deteriorated to the point where we couldn’t even speak without arguing. By the time we returned to Paris we were hardly talking. I can’t really remember the period following our return, save that I was furious with Edith and obsessed with organising a meeting with Charlotte.
All the same, and with both hindsight and the clarity brought by medication, I’m now aware that this period marked the passage from latent to active (if not fully manifest) psychosis. I’d never been particularly in touch with reality before, but now I was attached to it by the thinnest of tethers.
I was free, I was nuts, and I was about to surprise everyone, including myself.
The Persistence of Absence.