The effort it takes to remember my life jolts me into familiar pain—my side that hurts, my right side to be exact, right under my rib, the place that always hurts, the place where I’ve been certain I have a malignancy for going on five years now.
A few days ago in my dreams I was inside my throat, turned the corner at the back, and saw several polyps. I knew they were polyps in the way you know such things in dreams. I didn’t know why I was seeing them, but they terrified me. One in particular looked bad. Jagged, not round, edges. Black. Raised Like the ones they show you when you search the Web looking for pictures of hang nails, and suddenly you’re lost in a dozen sites regaling the symptomotology and treatment options for a range of the fatal illnesses.
Something happened in the dream. As I stared in horror at my own malignancy, it began to rise from my throat’s surface, and was quite suddenly encased in a beautiful silver armor, which, in time, shrank the tumor and gave it a guilded, smooth, round edge.
Did it heal itself?
Did I heal it?
Or was it a message that something is lurking. A warning.
I left my dream, as I always do, six or seven times a night.
Life number 13. Lucky.
Because I’ve died at least a dozen times inside myself.
When I think back, way back, trying to uncover, or maybe construct--only my therapist knows for sure--the missing pieces of my childhood, I realize I had three of them. Not therapists. More than three. But childhoods. Each interrupted by a major life event, each split, or at least me within them, from one another.
Birth to 5: Mother, Father, Sister, Brother
TRAUMA: Father died
5-12: Mother, Sister, Brother
TRAUMA: Mother re-marriage
12-now: Mother, Step-Father, Step-Sister, Sister, Brother
TRAUMA: Final attempt at individuation
That’s more than enough childhoods for anyone. Two too many for me.
I say “Final attempt at individuation” because I don’t think I’ll live through another attempt if this one doesn’t work out. It’s simple biology, instinct even: Eat or be eaten.
I’m the only one who can.