I Was... Accosted? Or: Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

Simply Simon

My symptoms are all kicking. I’m reminded too much of My Actual Stalkers, like the one who woke me up in the middle of the night in my room, standing over my bed, stroking my face.

And The Good Doctor was so, so gentle. So delicate. He reached out and held my face like he was touching an orchid. His face, soft and drooping with age, was full of tenderness and the wide-eyed, trembling adoration of a teenager making his first ever move. The way he clung desperately to my hand. The way he said, “You are so sweet.” It sounds predatory but it felt pitiful (famous last words of Simon—always, every f*cking time. You’d think if I can read music I could maybe read tenor, but I guess not.). Who knows how many times he’s pulled this. I don’t. But I know his practiced lips were strikingly soft, careful, not as if he were self-conscious of spooking me so much as it actually felt incredibly sincere.

But then, I’ve always been a real sucker for the touch of a doctor, the way they grasp you firmly and gently at the same time, so knowing, so practiced, and so nonthreatening.

These undeservedly complimentary, sickeningly sanguine thoughts bob up like a buoy, flashing at me just long enough to shame me, before they sink beneath the rich silt of my blazing outrage and persistent anxiety.

I want to tear him to shreds. I catch myself wondering creatively how I might sink my fingers into him and rip out his insides, making him feel just as torn open as he’s made me feel. I bet I could. And the cortisol, the adrenaline, it’s all pumping on triple overdrive (it was already bad before). I start losing control over my thoughts. I can’t concentrate, and now my whole head is tossed, and my body is begging me to run, jump, kick something in the teeth, and I’m rocking, trying to quiet it all, trying to ground.

So then I’m doing bumps of Xanax, which is very hard to come by, but I don’t have enough of my prescribed clonopin to be dealing with this, and as much as I want to save the Xanax, I want the stillness, the dragging-me-to-earth sedation, the inner silence, the I Give No f*cks, the oblivion so much more. I try to be cautious and conservative, but goddamn it feels good when I take enough to actually make everything stop.

That motherf*cker.


IDK Simon. Maybe a punching bag would work instead of the Xanax? Or in addition to it? (An ex-boyfriend had one. I used it more than he did and wish i had one of my very own.) From what I've read about the whole "somatic" theories of PTSD, things like beating the crap out of inanimate objects can help resolve the unresolved. No idea if it's true, but it felt great to be able to haul off and hit something like I really wanted to kill it.

I'd actually kind of like a chance to try tearing him limb from limb myself. LOL Not your fault, and no shame to you. Your only error was mistaking him for a decent human being. He's probably had a lot of opportunity to practice passing as one of those.

Simply Simon

@scout86 I actually highly recommend putting cold grapes in a bowl and squeezing the hell out out of them. It’s extremely satisfying.

I have actually been coping by playing tug with my giant dog, but it’s been so cold it’s been difficult to drag myself out of bed to suit up for longer than I need to just to exercise him. There’s nothing quite like going toe to toe with my beloved bully mongrel to get out frustration.

And don’t worry: there isn’t enough Xanax to worry about, and it’s not like I bought it to stare at. It’s almost impossible to find. But my clonopin is due today, so I didn’t have any PRN doses left, and anyway I really mentioned the Xanax to underscore my anger. I bought it for fun, and I never anticipated using it because I was getting burnt up by PTSD. All these emotions keep surfacing that I haven’t dealt with in sooo long... all these memories, reminders. How I loved my brother more than myself. How people envied what we had, a connection surpassing twins. How we made art together, composed music, wrote stories, inspired each other, shared friends. We had our own world between us, and it was expansive and full of endless wonder.

And then my memories came back. The abuse. The years of abuse. And then everything went up in flames.

I’ve been in a kind of depression coma since the wedding. Until a couple of weeks ago, and stretching back to early August, it’s seriously been one thing after another. Putting together a wedding alone didn’t help. Snapping at my engagement party and leveling with my father for choosing to protect my brother instead of me didn’t help. My car got stripped of parts and broken into. I rebuilt it, which was expensive, in three weeks, and two weeks later it spontaneously burst into flames. My favorite client almost hospitalized me the next day. I mean... seriously—it just kept going.

The day I found out The Good Doctor was Israeli, I hadn’t slept or eaten in almost two days. J and I were celebrating my birthday, and I didn’t mean to party all night, knowing I had to work long shifts for the three days following. I should have felt like tissue paper under a boot, but when I showed him pictures of the base I stayed at for Gadna (a sort of elective I did in Israel, mandatory for Israelis—a week of basic training shortly before they go for real) and we shit talked the local “Israeli” food, I might as well have been high. I was bouncing off the walls when I got home.

I felt a little self-conscious about my giddiness, a little silly. But being a Zionist is typically received very well by Israelis in the diaspora. It’s not like being a Francophile and getting laughed at by the French because you’re an outsider. Sure, I’ve had one Israeli call me out for not really loving Israel because I didn’t go into the IDF, but in his age group? They’re usually gracious at the very least, if a little amused by my zeal.

But the feeling of self-consciousness was easily dismissed, because he was so clearly just as giddy as I. Then the days passed, and he continued to stop and talk to me whenever possible, waved at me persistently as he passed in his cars (he has a super sweet classic American muscle car in pristine condition that he occasionally trots out besides his typical fancy commuter). And I thought, He’s just as if not more excited than I am. He too must feel the isolation. He too must be ecstatic just to get a taste of that which is native to him. I’m not being silly. He feels it, too—the intoxication of recognition, of the familiar, of shared values and phonemes.

This is to say that when I think back on my childhood with my brother, all the light innocence is transformed. I am no longer looking at a majestic tree but seeing its shadow cast on the dark wall, its branches bent and sinister, reaching for me, the claws of some nighttime phantom.

So too these happy glimpses of sunny conversation I shared with The a Good Doctor are suddenly shrouded in a foreboding filter. The wolf asking where am I going? Who am I meeting? Where’s that, again, dear?

My symptoms first emerged in earnest when I was 12. It was my second summer in the program that would eventually lead me to Israel, and it’s specifically designed to make soldiers out of children. I’m not sure how many of the parents actually realized this. Later, in my teens, my best friend Sam and I, who met there, would joke about the efficacy of their brainwashing constantly. Even today we laugh about it. Even today we trade articles from Haaretz with the seriousness of two peers who dreamed of serving together. Our awareness that we were being heavy-handedly manipulated to want that life didn’t make it any less effective.

My symptoms grew. Every summer, I would catch the counselors talking about how I had transformed from the most happy-go-lucky child into the most depressive one. But no matter how bad my symptoms got, that place cured my insomnia. I fell asleep to the soft sotto chatter of Hebrew or sometimes English, for the benefit of the American counselors, but it was laden with that most soothing of accents—the Rs softened, the Ls further back in the throat, the Hs turned glottal. It was my respite from home. I wasn’t cooking breakfast for my abuser every morning, tending to his tantrums, keeping his secrets. I would lie in the dark and try to catch the Hebrew words I knew or could learn by inference like catching fireflies in a jar, my bright little treasures that chased away the dark. Everyone always asked me how I picked up so much Hebrew every summer, how I got so good at it. I listened.

When I went to Israel, I didn’t sleep for a week. I didn’t know it then, but that year would prove to be the most symptomatic of all. I was way deep into my anorexia and literally everything else. Pop out the DSM. Every single symptom was off the charts. I didn’t sleep, eat, or do anything else at home but self harm and dissociate in my bed. I locked myself in my room 24/7 so I wouldn’t have to see my brother. It was the beginning of my going no contact, even though it wasn’t intentional. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

The medic, our IDF detail assigned to guard us, refused to even give me Benadryl. Happens all the time in basic, he said, You’ll sleep when you’re tired. The first two weeks we hiked every day in the desert until the heat curfew, then we were allowed a shower before we spent the rest of the day working on politics—debating, studying history, whatever. So let me just say I was f*cking tired. But I digress.

After the PTSD Boosted Jetlag Insomnia Bullsh*t finally ended, I could sleep on demand—anywhere, anytime, any place, even just for a few minutes if I felt like it. And I was light as a feather. All of my symptoms—poof. Gone. The only thing I can recall being leftover was what I would later understand as my weird attachment shit, object permanence stuff, I think. I wasn’t scared or paranoid or even hypervigilant, at least not in a pathological way (I had a healthy situational awareness given that I was 16 in a foreign country, but nothing more than that). I definitely wasn’t suicidal, didn’t want to hurt myself. And I was eating. Boy was I eating (which is good, because when my longtime peers saw me at the airport 50lbs lighter than the previous year, I heard the word “anorexia,” but then they saw me scarfing down my weight in Israeli gelato and that was that).

When I went to Gadna, I kept thinking, Please, just leave me here. I kept thinking, The US doesn’t feel like it exists anymore. The people there are a faded photograph in my mind. This is where I want to stay—every single second managed for me, full, busy. You don’t need to pick me up. Just let me stay. I don’t want to go back. Don’t make me leave.

I’m not 15 or 16 anymore but 30, so this feels really dumb to say, but this was the second time I was awarded Best Soldier. The first time was the year before, in the US, when they put you through a mock basic training program (I’m telling you, the whole program is designed to make you join the IDF—the whooole curriculum, starting at 6 years old and not ending until you’re in the IDF proper, a dual citizen, everything). The next time was in Gadna. My friend Sam trailed one year behind me, and he’s the one who secured the title in my wake both times as well. We were serious. I was serious. I didn’t want to leave. I loved it. Spending every day at the rock climbing gym either teaching or training had me in peak physical condition in spite of the 2-400 calorie intake. Doing regular pushups was like breathing. The would-be punishing nature of Gadna was easy, homey. Cozy.

THE POINT of this insane ramble IS

I think in not small at all ways, Israel has my heart because it symbolizes asylum from my actual life, my actual self, my problems, my trauma, my relationships here, my complicated family. It is the only place I can go on this earth that is an entire world away from my family where I would be applauded for being. The only reason my parents didn’t move there is because when they tried, it was the middle of the First Intifada. They went to check into their hotel to look for a life there, and when my mother saw that the entire lobby was renovated to be open-air by a missile, she noped out of the idea of raising her children there. Being adopted, of course I wouldn’t have been born there anyway, but my point is that any direction I run from them, they will try their level best to get in the way, unless I moved to Israel. Then it would be their honor to see me off. My father still sends me emails at least a few times a year about this and that opportunity to go back (I don’t because dogs, but I sure would love to).

So what I’m trying to say is what I’ve been reiterating throughout this entire thread but in full technicolor vivid detail, for my own benefit (I genuinely feel sorry for anyone reading this mess).

He represented Absolute Safety. And then he smashed it. And now there’s this filthy little stain in my head. And I’m trying so hard to scrub it out... or make it beautiful. I go back and forth. Again, I want to pave over this. I want to go back and change it. I want to fix it, put it back together. But mostly I sweat over it, blotting, scraping, buffing.

In my head I’m looking up at the masterpiece stained glass dome in Hadassah Hospital’s place of worship (I don’t want to call it a chapel but it’s nondenominational so anyway). Supposedly the greatest artisan of stained glass alive (at least he was in 2007) made it. It is brilliant. Once, a rocket crashed through it—shattered the whole thing. The master came back, picked up all the pieces, and reconstructed it. Now (or, again, in 2007) the entire hospital can convert to a bomb shelter in 14 minutes, I think it was. There’s this crazy metal armor that closes over the stained glass dome so no rocket will smash it again.

I would like to replicate this. And then my outrage is back, and I’m vicious again.

It’s like swinging on a languid pendulum, like the giant one they have in one of the museums I was always visiting back in the northeast. The kind that never stops but forever swings slowly, slowly.

We could still be friends. I want

to trick him. I will offer the olive branch, and then I will learn how to puppeteer his emotions, how to destroy him slowly, how to make sure he feels powerless, how

do I put the pieces back? Can’t we still just work on my Hebrew? Please just be the person I wanted

to hit you. You deserve it, at least once. I am fully within my right to slap you right across your pretentious face, and you can explain THAT to your not wife. I don’t owe you

anything would be better than this bizarre purgatory you put me in, right? So why don’t we just pretend nothing happened, go back to what I thought we were building? Please

spare me your dumbass monologues about my soul and goddamn IQ and assured future success and how very beautiful I am.

You’re making me sick.

You are making me sick.

And I keep trying to scrub.


I think in not small at all ways, Israel has my heart because it symbolizes asylum from my actual life, m
That totally makes sense. I suspect (but don't know for sure) that ALL humans, even "normal" ones want some of what Israel means to you. A place where you actually feel like you belong? A tribe that actually accepts you as a member? And, yeah, asylum from a life that doesn't contain any of that.
He represented Absolute Safety. And then he smashed it.
Also makes sense that that would be a huge blow. Consider that "he" is not actually "Israel". It was a trick. And tricks are possible. But that doesn't mean your tribe doesn't exist or isn't important. It might even exist in places you haven't found yet.
(I genuinely feel sorry for anyone reading this mess).
Yeah? Well don't. It was well worth the read. (I think I'm going to give the grape idea a try!.)