i remember going to the carnival in the small town where i lived when i was a little boy. the main square of town had been transformed into a gallimaufry of contraptions and structures which consisted of rides, games, and food purveyors, all of it was strange and exciting and new. adrenalin filled my veins like a mountain stream after a downpour of rain. i always eagerly anticipated attending and would make my way to try as much as possible as soon as possible. i would gorge on roasted corn on the cob, cotton candy, and pork tenderloin sandwiches- usually double up on the sugar- and swirl with a buzz. i treated the rides just like the candy- i was a glutton-almost pacman like.
i don’t remember those carnival days as the happiest in my youth by any means, but i remember them vividly.. they seem pagan and pre-radical faerie at best. what i also remember succinctly is the kind of vertigo that would follow this ritual and roll in like a fog after the convergence of sucrose and kinetics. i would get somewhat numbed, disoriented, a bit detached, just as i do at the end of the manic phase. the energy of those outdoor festivals felt just like mania to me. and for this bi-polar mania may just be like a broadway show overture, comprised of a whirlwind of curious and enticing soundbites strung together in an upbeat tapestry. this vertigo, or motion sickness, that i would feel has always felt intrinsically connected to me, just like the mania that preceded it.
i bring this up because i am in the circuit that is described above in my daily life. there is so much newness going on that i have spied my reflection spinning in circles to keep up with all the changes. interwoven with this activity is that ancient sense of disambiguation which ebbs in and out like a marine layer and fills my soul with intoxicating feelings of engagement and disconnection that can be dizzying. the strangeness of it all is the topside and the underside is the familiarity of the dance.
moving through and living with a chemical imbalance is both the carnival i remember and at the same time it is like the funhouse there. it is an revolving and everhshifting maze that recites “the more things change, the more they remain the same” each time the labyrinth is walked. my life has traditionally felt tumultuous. it was before i began using substances, it continued in the 33 years of consistent self-medicating, and it remains in tact after 9 years of sobriety. it has become less of a star player in my drama and phased into the greek chorus. medication reels in the circumference, but the ride motion remains.
no matter how unflattering, now matter how inconvenient, how unsettling- this is part of the truth of who i am. i often spout to those that i work with that emotional sobriety really involves looking at, understanding, and accepting how we really are in the world. omg- that is so much easier said than done. and it is definitely a ride.