“Reality is overrated,” a nurse on a psych ward said to me forever ago.
To me, reality is represented by Dad.
To my Dad, reality is represented by my Dad.
He sucks my flesh to the bare bones with his recounting of the reality of the war, never the Depression that followed, always the War, the big one, World War II, in England.
Evacuation. Being poor. Getting beat up by his mother (I still think she was a good lady and that she hit him in a poor woman’s way to get him over his autism.) “You’re like the Tin Drummer,” I said to him recently. I only ever read the slightest bit of that book, or maybe I saw a movie trailer, I think a movie was made of it. The silent kid silently bangs his drum to bring people to an understanding. Of reality. Reality is a silent kid silently banging his drum, disturbed, maybe autistic, and brilliant. This is my father. This is his daughter before X-ville, the state hospital. There I was freed. Whatever the cost, it was worth it. Whatever the tragedy, it was worth it. People there had friends in outer space, were aliens, were the anti-Christ. People there read J.R.R.Tolkien. People there wrote about love as shit and meant it. So REALITY, right now, for me, is that I am flat broke, penniless, and that I am living on a promise from my mother (my father had to force himself to agree) for money to pay for my expensive medications in the coverage gap, stated as my rent, which leaves a little left over for groceries. So that I don’t have to choose between food and medication. Obviously, I finally realized, food always wins. So maybe I’m not entirely in reality even in a wholesome way, not to know this.
The issue here is that he doesn’t like my book. He doesn’t want me to publish a book. He told me it was stupid, to get me not to publish it or put it around. I told myself I needed self-esteem. I failed over and over in the process but now with my mother’s encouragement (you DON’T waste all that money and then not go through with it, she said again and again; I wanted to pull the plug again) I am going forward with the book. It’s fun. It’s exciting. Not everybody is coming out with a book, I tell myself.
But today DAD has me in reality. It sucks. My book sucks. Not only will it not sell but people will make fun of it. Not only this but it will gain all kinds of attention and be another major catastrophe, like my blog. Surely this is not reality. Oh please God.