Fought Like a Mother

I was in teacher training, 23 years old.  She had a psychotic break. It was scary, not being able to tell the difference between her self-expression and her not-being-based-in-reality.  The day before, we had shared a seat under a shady tree, munching peaches, and talking murmurs of nothingness.  Then, in the middle of the morning, the very next day, she was swooped up.  It was a stealth capture.  Ninja mental health workers.

She fought it like a mother.  Tooth and nail. Kicking and screaming. Wild animal captured and crazed with constraint.  There was a helter-skelter dragging out the side door.  I kept my eyes trained on the one person I recognized amidst the Charlie-Brown-Pig-Pen-cloud of her tumult – one of our teachers.  The story wrote itself in my mind: she is unraveled.

Later we sit on the floor, in a circle, as if revisiting the morning meeting safety of our preschool years.  And we are told – psychotic break, safe, taken to a hospital, won’t be coming back; we’ll tell you what we can when we can.  Stopped taking meds.  Parents are involved.  Don’t worry.  To this day I can’t remember her name, but the image of flailing arms and skewing hair is visibly clear.

I am writing today, because I am afraid I am going to be dragged kicking and screaming out of this meeting room, fighting like a mother, unraveled. Even its forced-soothing seascape palette does nothing to calm me.  Like her, I am a massive ball of inflicted rage, source difficult to diagnose.  My skin is porous; my nerves exposed. I fall face first into the gasping hole of organizational life – that space between what the company says it will do and what it actually does.  I breathe the air – a petri dish of undelivered promises.  It gnaws me.  The click clack train of “I like you, so you have a future here,” rolls by me, my hair flying back from my face.

We are in a lush, lush, hotel, oceanfront. It is positioned at the end of a deserted ghetto street. Boarded up stores, empty alleys, dark windows, graffiti and grit.  It is a straight shot from this poverty to that spa.  So today I am writing because my colleague said, “Are you still writing your blog?” And I realized that the story needed to be written; if only to avoid the escort out of this room when I would be unable to discern reality from my mind’s hijack.  We live a say-the-right-thing-without- doing-the-thing-that-makes- the-thing-right-cycle of anonymity in our big, organizational construct, and I am begging to know why.  Why can’t it be real and related and relational? Why only pretend, posture and pose?

Taking a breather from the non-stop corporate speak, I look around the restaurant bar situated to the left of our meeting room.  (Note the consistent and close contact between alcohol and corporate functions.) There are three or four couples.  All of them are young women in long skirts and wigs; young men with steep black hats and tzitzit, white shirt tucked into black pants.  The girl and boy sit as far apart as the booth will allow, sipping water out of plastic cups. The restaurant must not be kosher.  Turns out, a resort at the end of a ghetto street is an observant match maker’s haven, a mating ground for the next generation of Hasidic families.  And, we, corporate citizens, side-by-side with the future wedding couples, talk and talk to hear ourselves speak.

How can we all be so seemingly deaf to the needs around the corner at the intersection of this hotel’s fabricated ease and the-no-life-line down the ghetto street.  Hodge podge world. Harsh and surprising and strange. Sometimes fighting like a mother to get through is exactly the only thing that can be done in a day.

©Gabriella Strecker, 2016

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