The Memory of Man
I saw two prides of sea lions on the rocks
Across a cove filled by a clear green sea.
I was alone. I sat there harmlessly
While pelicans flew by in ordered flocks.
I posed no danger, but the sea lions’ young
Looked warily at me with huge dark eyes
Of deep translucent black, and their surprise
Was soon confirmed by action. A pup hung
From the rock’s edge, then plopped into the sea.
His mother followed and the other young
Followed behind, while one male, unimpressed
Stayed on his back, lounging in luxury.
I wondered why the beasts became unstrung
Then recalled guns and clubs and all the rest.
Yesterday was a bad day. I had at least three weepy/weeping spells, two of them on the cliff across from the sea lions that made for the sonnet above. What really made me cry was the idea of God and an attempt at prayer. I have such feelings of rejection from the Almighty, and the idea of approaching him fills me with such a sense of unworthiness I can’t begin to describe it. I feel like a bug under glass, but smaller. It’s a feeling of primal abandonment which likely goes back to infant bonding issues with my mother, and is subsequently projected on that great screen, God. It’s a grief over a vacuum that persists from my adolescence and young adulthood. Back then I was such a fanatic I felt I had to have a message from God to do nearly anything of consequence.
For some strange reason I received the impression at the age of 17 that God wanted me to become a doctor. When I didn’t get in to medical school the first year with a 4.0 from UCLA, I felt betrayed—“Look, God, I’ve done all this work for you getting through college, working three jobs and the rest, and then you thwart the ambition you gave me?” I later realized this was the sin of presumption. But just when being a doctor began to make sense in the third year of my psychiatry residency, I fell into a severe depression that caused me to drop out. There went my hope to make something of being a doctor, something I could bear, as psychiatry dovetailed with the humanities. After this debacle, my primitive thinking was: “I tried to do God’s will, but he screwed me.” How could I be so special that God would screw me? All this demonstrates the narcissism of the depressive. When an infant does not have enough human bonding, he makes up people in his head, and his life revolves around his head instead of society. To the degree you were isolated in your earliest years, to that degree will your head fill with chatter as a substitute.
I know that my feelings toward God are opposed to Christian theology, but I can’t help how I feel. If I have a relationship with God it must be infantile on my part. Especially in depressions, prayer only makes me sadder. Yes, I did pray for myself yesterday. There’s no harm in that. But any emotional wholeness from a perceived contact with God is something I’ve never experienced. I wish for healing, of course, but at my age I settle for acceptance. This is how I’m built. My emotional wounds go way back to infancy. I project them on authority figures, even an authority figure presumably on my side.
Mental illness lends itself to hyperreligiosity and religious psychoses, in which I was an avid participant, though to be fair, I didn’t know of the illness that possessed me until I was 30.
One more thing: When I am well I like to say, “It is not I who have a relationship with God, it is he who has a relationship with me.” Let the burden be on the Almighty. He can take it, one assumes.
At 3 kilorats,