What I have learned:
You keep holding on to the things you love long after they're gone. You have to decide which side you want to be on. A new life beckons after you're diagnosed with schizophrenia. It is hard to give up the old life although sometimes the universe forces our hand.
I'm Chris-the same as I ever was only better. My life then: Ray's Famous Pizza at 2 am. My life now: closing down the nail salon instead of a bar. I met someone who would go to restaurants for crabs and beer. That image stays in my mind in a vivid picture.
Who we were then who we are now. I cannot say the schizophrenia didn't change me. It altered my worldview. Yet it is true time changes us regardless of the illness. I'll be 45 in April and it's like my new life has just begun. We have personalities apart from the illness and we can change throughout our lives. I always wanted to leave this world as a different person from the one I was when I entered it. This is possible.
We are still ourselves at the core even though we were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The illness robs of certain things yet it does not take away other things.
You can reclaim yourself in recovery.
You can grow as a person and achieve your life purpose: the life you were born to live.
How can I say this? I have seen it firsthand in my own life.
It is ironic: when I was younger I thought I was open-minded because I liked weird music and thought that other people were narrow-minded because they did not like that music. This was actually a reverse form of intolerance. I had substituted something I loved for a personality trait. Years later I understand that the music does not make the man (or the woman) in the same way that our clothes are not the sum total of who we are.
To quote Jodi Picoult, "People are more than the sum total of their disability." I couldn't see that back then when I attended the second day program.
The years give us wisdom. It is the folly of youth that we think we know everything. What I didn't know could fill a whole book and I had to learn these things over the years, page-by-page.
When you are young you are experimenting with your persona; adopting new beliefs; tasting freedom for the first time. What did I know of the world? The Island was "white bread-and mayonnaise" in the eyes of the student disc jockeys. We railed against that barefoot and pregnant picket fence life.
Years later the image of crabs and beer haunts my mind. Another time a different life. I want to go somewhere to eat crabs and not drink beer yet to soak up that atmosphere.
Life goes on. We rock-n-roll with it.
The green coat that did not fit I shipped back to get a credit to my account.
Today I bought instead a red coat with a 15 percent off coupon. I was lucky to find a nice coat in a size 6P that fit. All the rest were basic black or in large sizes. A gray Kenneth Cole coat I nixed because it did not look good on me and the sleeves were too long.
The coat I went home with was a red Calvin Klein whose sleeves do not need to be hemmed. It hangs below the knee so I can wear it when it's cold with a wind chill factor.
D. and I ate in Tick Tock Diner after we went to Herald Square. It's open 24 hours. I told him what my two New Year's resolutions were. I know exactly how to work on one of them. The expression is flattery will get you everywhere. I know what I want and I'm willing to wait to get it if the outcome will be that much sweeter.
Before I met D. at Macy's I browsed the Museum with Mom and Dad.
We saw the "Who Shot Rock-n-Roll" exhibit and I bought a black Brooklyn Rocks tee shirt with those letters emblazoned on it in white puff letters. The gift shop sells expensive jewelry. I quit while I was ahead with the tee shirt because later in Macy's I bought a thin cotton navy cardigan to lounge in in the spring and summer in the apartment.
By spring I should know whether my efforts have been successful.
I eagerly await the spring and warm weather. I buy a space heater because my apartment is cold when it's windy outside. The windows are not good at shutting out the wind so it gets drafty. On New Year's Day the apartment was warm enough that I could stay indoors in a tee shirt and jeans. It was actually warm enough for me to take off the sweat shirt. Go figure.
A friend came over and had to leave early because it was so cold. I can hear the wind whipping around outside. We ordered in Thai food for lunch.
I want my life to turn out like the ending of Eat Pray Love. Did you read that book? I consider it the best book I ever read. It is one of my favorites.
So I sit at the desk typing in the living room and will shortly sign off to go call a friend. Living with uncertainty is hard and the waiting is the hardest part.
Truly San Diego beckons in the winter months when I retire. Or someplace else sunny and warm.
In the Museum I narrated the lives of the rock stars for my nephew who is too young to know who they are. Mom told him he could pick out a souvenir in the gift shop and she would buy it. He chose The Art Book which cost under $10. He is seven years old and I'm conflicted about that book because he giggled when he saw a nude painting in it.
The 24-tube lipstick tray shipped and I should get it tomorrow or Tuesday so will take it home to organize the lipsticks. I look forward to having easy access to the tubes so I can choose the perfect shade for my various outfits. I will line them up from nudes to pinks to roses to plums to reds.
In this weather I cannot wear the short pink coat. I'm not going to get the sleeves hemmed on the red coat. I will wear it tomorrow with a scarf and my black leather gloves. I hear snow is on the way again.
I read somewhere that Jesus was known for telling people "Be of Good Cheer."
That is what I hope for you in these cold dark winter months:
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