Have you ever had the satiric part of one of your suicide notes, you know the part where you parody all those chipper “live in the now” people, read out loud as encouragement while you were on the floor in a college ballroom surrounded by students who were lying on their backs and breathing themselves into an orgasm as part of a workshop?

I know, that’s a stupid question. Everyone has had that experience, or something very close to it.

When it happened to me, I went into a laughing jag, much the same as when I was dressed down at an intimate party for Virginia Prince after the Van Nuys conference on sex and gender.

Father Phil (as Dave Letterman calls him) talks about “pyschological sunburn,” a hypersensitivity that comes from past events. I know that. When I went to the local therapist a few years ago, at the end of the session she said she could listen to me for hours, but she was beginning to believe what I was telling her, that I have very low latent inhibition, low ability to slough off the everyday hits we all have to take in this fast world which is built on the endurance of humans to not actually be in the moment. I think she said it was my eyes that were the tipoff — she wasn’t used to seeing such a consistent and intense look of pain.

I recently took a look at Lucinda Bassett’s perscription for people like me. Her solution is the standard one, based on the whole change your mind, change your life premise. Until you can contextualize the stimuli you recieve without feeling the hurts & slights of the past, it is almost impossible to make choices that lead you into happiness in the moment, instead leaving you in depression & anxiety.

Someone once said that anxiety is the disease of the imaginative, for if you can’t imagine all the possible bad outcomes, it is impossible to be truely terrified and anxious.

It turns out that I have really bad self-talk. After years of the demand to lie or be called a liar, my skin feels like it has met the lye, burned so badly by hazmat that even a breeze can pull up the pain. That’s why I hide here in this cave, a hermit doing just what needs to be done.

I got a standard request today, and I felt the rage rise, the frustration and the anger. The pain loomed and my heart beat and I lost focus, instead being jittery in my tenuous heart and diseased jaw. I tried to stay calm, but it built in me, and my skin flaked against my soft cotton knit shirt, leaving parts of me raw again.

I know why I hide. It’s the lye that comes from the lie, the caustic that comes from the toxic.

And as to self-talk, well…

In my high school bedroom, tucked between the blizzard of anti-war posters filled with images of the terrifying & tragic, was a blue felt banner with a picture of Charles Shulz’s Linus on it. It said “I feel the need to have the feeling that it is good to be alive.”

I felt the lye then when I was assertive & manipulative. Now that I am surrendered & stooped, well, the lye creeps deeper.