you were supposed to be happy

I’ve gone off the meds, so one way or another, we’re in for an adventure.

As is true of most of my affairs, this decision was made with a dedicated lack of forethought.

One day, a woman who was supposed to go to the pharmacy to pick up her prescription simply didn’t go. And by the time she got around to considering the implications of not swallowing those tiny white pills made expressly for her, days had passed, and somehow, it just seemed too late.

“You’ve done it now,” a giddy little voice in my head tells me.

But done what? I’m not even sure.

Truthfully, I’m not even really sure there’s anything that wrong with me. I’ve been thinking about the disorders for which the pills were supposedly prescribed, and I think in layman’s terms they’re referred to as Being Alive.

I think the real issue has always been more what I’m afraid is wrong with me.

This dates back to a stoned run-in I had with a seer at an outdoor bazaar when I was a teenager.

“Your name was supposed to be Jabe,” was the first thing she told me.

I raised an eyebrow at her.

“Jabe,” she said again. “In my language, it means pocket. Something found. Something lost. A child’s name.”

At this, she reached into the gaping pocket of my beach dress and pulled out two pieces of a broken sand dollar.

I didn’t protest.

“Your name was supposed to be Jabe,” she said again.

“And you were supposed to be happy.”

My heart did a strange loop-de-loop when she said that, which I tried to keep from showing on my face.

She nodded and smiled.

Behind her, the tumultuous ocean waves began to lure me away.

She kept talking, but my mind couldn’t stay put.

Eventually, she touched my face with a warm hand.

“You are listening, but not hearing?” she asked.


She placed her forehead on mine. “Close your eyes.”

I did as I was told.

Behind closed eyes, I continued to see the ocean.

Its white crests. Its fear. Its longing. Its beauty.

“What did she say?” I was asked afterwards. My beautiful long-haired girlfriends and I sat in the dunes and smoked a beedi.

I thought about how, when we first arrived here, I used to try to sweep away the never-ending grains of sand that attached themselves to me. And how their texture now provided such a familiar, and even reassuring, sensation.

On my skin. In my bed.

I realized that it had been a long time since I’d had a home.

“I’m not sure,” I told my girlfriends.

“I think she might have said I would go crazy.”

I closed my eyes, and the ocean was still behind them.

I felt her forehead on mine.

And I heard the words, “You will surely lose your mind.”

But the weird part was, I heard the words in my voice, not hers.

Since I quit the meds, I’ve been struck by nightmares.

The plotlines are so ghastly, the associated images so appalling, that I’m actually ashamed to be the one manufacturing them. I had no idea how much sinister storytelling I’ve been warehousing, just below the surface.

For now, I’m looking at the nightmares as a penance that I’m serving.

And I’m hoping that I can outlast them.

Last night I woke in the dark, feeling possessed. My body was stiff as if from hours of shivering. I got out of bed and made my way to the back garden.

For some reason, I wanted to make sure there was still a moon in my sky.

And there was.

I stood beneath it, breathing in the innocent sweetness of honeysuckle, and willed my muscles to relax.

When my sister, Celia, was in hospital, she would open her eyes and tell me about things in front of her that I couldn’t see, that weren’t happening.

“You’re not making sense,” I’d tell her.

“I know,” she’d respond, and pet my hand. “I’m sorry. I’m overdreaming.”


There is a dangerous part of my unconscious mind that walks free in my sleep. When I went on the pills, it was because I believed that part had grown stronger than I was. I was afraid of overdreaming. And I still might be.

But I’d really like to participate in this thing called Being Alive.

My name was supposed to be Jabe. I was supposed to be happy.

*          *          *

11 thoughts on “you were supposed to be happy

  1. I just started a blog and it would mean so much if you could check out my site! Followed btw xx your writing is amazing

    1. what a courageous girl you are! i will absolutely check out your blog and am so looking forward to it. thank you so much for your kind words and the personal invitation.

    1. without understanding why, i completely trust your sense of the world. i think it has something to do with having seen your childhood reflected in hypnotic photographs of an old barn. and i thought i you when i wrote about the fragrance of honeysuckle.

      but in any case, please oh please let me in on which things you mean when you say, “these are things that will damn our souls…”

      1. I just mean, don’t let some “fortune teller” plant seeds in your conscience that cause you to feel a certain way about the way life happens. 🙂

      2. okay. good. i should have trusted my intuition on that one. i thought that was what you were saying, but the doubting me thought you were saying to stay on the meds.

        by the way, did you just have the most idyllic childhood of all time, or am i just reading that in the landscapes?

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