It’s the middle of the afternoon in 2020 and I have been awake for 22 hours. But I have to finish. I can’t leave it like this. I am writing about events in my past so distant, yet so close, that I am living and dying in the telling. We, you and I, have to get through this, and that means I am up. I am up with you as I tell the rest of Patchwork. As I hand off this monumental piece of myself to you, I will not be able to eat or sleep. I won’t leave this desk, and hopefully by the end of the night, this part of my life will be set down.
I started Reality of the Unreal Mind as a blog to tell my readers a little bit about who I am as a person and the things I have been through. As I traveled through the telling of this tale, I have been finding things out and setting things next to each other in ways I never had before. I am seeing motives behind glances and getting the full picture of what was happening. I am hearing the story as if for the first time with you as you read it because as I tell the parts that I remember, the other alters are stepping forward to tell their parts and let me see what they were thinking, or in some places letting me know what did happen.
Today before I get to go to bed again, the two biggest events in my life will unfold. Before we rest the two greatest moments I ever lived will play out. One step on the cloud, one step into hell. The climax of two separate parts of my life are explored in the next thirty minutes of yours and my life. As I write this to you now, we both come forward to discover the type of man I am, and the kind of person I have become.
We see the unifying moment, the one spark that brought all of the alters flaming as one in one place, at one time, for one great fight for love.
We see the rage of battle and the clear defining moment of character and resolve. We see the beginning of Guardian’s War and the loss of a mind.
I sit here right now waiting for the next clicks of the keyboard to tell me the most intimate details of the most important moments of my life and I have to say, I am scared. I am terrified and type with eyes rimmed with tears, for I know the broad strokes but I don’t know the details.
Thank you. Thank you for coming into my darkness and not making me do this alone. Thank you for being here when I need you the most. For I do not know a story until it is told. And I have never understood the things that happened in my life until this day. Thank you for coming to help me through this as I bleed from old wounds and find new ways to heal.
There is flame and blood and love and hope before us, but first we have to make one quick stop. We have one smaller step, one more breath before the plunge. Let’s talk about the ball Sunshine got rolling and the things she taught me as she left. You’re going to have to know this part to understand the true scope of my defeat and the true power of my victory.
Sunshine sat me in that lawyer’s office, slapped the papers down in front of him and answered all the questions the lawyer asked. Most were pretty basic. But there was one doozy. While interviewing us about the potential evidence available to him, he said, “And is there a person that you think reliable who could testify on behalf of you as to the struggles and challenges you have to live with on a daily basis?” He shuffled some papers and looked up for a brief moment before reaching to write something down. “A character witness of sorts.”
“We have one,” Sunshine said.
“And what is their name?”
“Rebekah Lynch,” she said without pause or caution. She looked at me, lifted an eyebrow, and I nodded emphatically back. “She knows him better than anyone else, and you can rely on her for accuracy and no drama. She is exactly what you are looking for.” She turned to look me in the eye and smiled. It was the first time I had seen her do that all day. “She is exactly what you are looking for.”
Then her fingertips rapped lightly and lovingly on her belly. She was about to have her first son. He was not quite here yet, but he was not waiting. She stood by me every day until she gave birth to that beautiful son of hers. Then Sunshine had to walk away. She needed to go and be amazing with her new ray of light. The Sun Worshipper was bringing light in the world and she would not be able to help me anymore.
I hugged her goodbye when she left. I told her I loved her and she said it back. I thanked her, but that song was not long enough, and she flew off. What is left of this chapter belongs in her legend. Here we are. She has been gone for months and she is about to teach me one last lesson about myself before she is gone forever.
Let’s lean in and hear what she has to say.
My new case worker was awesome. She was fun and smart and, in the end, we did not work out very well. But while she was with me, she was a warrior. We will call her Indigo. Indigo drove me to the appeal that day and I met with my lawyer in the hallway.
He had been there all day.
He lived in this building. It was an office building where these court cases were heard and he was here almost every day. Indigo told me he had between six and eight of these hearings that day and he would be here long after ten. She said he was good and we needed to be ready when he was.
He walked up to me, saw Bekah standing right beside me, and he nodded. “Okay, I will go in with Jesse and Indigo. We will present our case. There will be a lot of questions. Talk slow and measured. Do not rush. If you say any numbers, spell them out. Rebekah, please wait in the waiting room and if I decide you can help us, I will let you know. We may not need you at all, but it is always wise to have someone like you around, I hear.” He chuckled.
I tried to chuckle too, but it came out a wheeze and a cough.
“Do not speak until someone asks you a question. Answer the question and fall silent again. Everyone go to the bathroom and be ready in ten minutes.” He looked up at me and smiled.
“Thank you,” I said. I tried to sound encouraging. I tried to sound grateful. But all that came out was a sob.
He looked me in the eye for a moment before nodding. Indigo squeezed my shoulder. Bekah hugged me.
The room was pretty big but only the front of it was being used. I remember wood paneling. I remember thinking that they don’t update government buildings as often as they should because this decorating was from a year or two after I was born. The table was big and I sat on one side of it. Across from me sat the judge.
He always seemed to be looking everywhere else. He never seemed focused on me. I would find this to be boldly untrue but at the time it seemed fact. The reality was this man was studying everything about me. He would see things I would forget to hide.
On one side of me sat my lawyer, on the other sat a portly lady dressed well, with a large book in front of her. The judge started a recorder, began speaking into a mic, and this was when I realized I had a mic in front of me. It was old and odd, an instrument so old as to be the egg for the dinosaur instead of the dinosaur itself. He introduced the case. Said the name of everyone in the room, and he thanked the woman beside me. Thanked her for her time and her efforts. He made note that she was a wonderfully competent social worker and we were all lucky to have her on this case.
I still did not know her function but now I was beginning to see that she had no papers before her except this big book. It had tabs sticking out of it in many places and it had been thumbed over and over again. I had expected there would be a lawyer arguing against me. An enemy for my lawyer to lock wits with, but I was finding out now that if we had an enemy it was this woman. She did not seem fierce.
My lawyer began to talk. Don’t ask me to go over the minutes. To do so would break me. I will give you the highlights, and I will let them be told to you by Smear Lord of Ire.
“This man looks whole,” our lawyer said. “He looks strong, he looks bright. He looks capable. But this man is disabled. We cannot expect him to live a normal life. Normal will never be attainable for this man. He cannot take care of himself. He cannot support himself. He cannot help himself. He is in every way that you would classify him unable.
“He is a broken man that cannot be expected to take care of himself and I plan to show you that he is worth fighting for, taking care of, and giving life to.
“I have a letter from his psychiatrist that says that he cannot perform the tasks necessary to hold down any job he might seek. He cannot regulate his sleep; he cannot regulate his emotions. He cannot be expected to talk to people in public, to conduct himself in any reasonable way in public for any long period of time. He cannot be at a certain place at a certain time. He cannot be trusted to spend his money wisely. He cannot be asked to be in charge of anything professional. Jesse Teller is disabled and should not be expected to face any sort of schedule or any sort of plan that lasts any longer than a few weeks to two months. This man needs constant change and strict regimen. He needs an environment where he cannot be expected to perform, but at the same time not be let to sit still. Jesse Teller is in my professional opinion severely mentally disabled and if anyone qualifies for disability, it is this man. I have in my twenty years as a doctor written three of these recommendations. This is the third.”
At this point I could not breathe. I could not hold my head up. I had no pride left. I had no hope left. I had been ripped off of any pedestal I had ever been put on, was shown in lurid color my vast limitations. I was raw. I was gasping.
And the judge was watching.
I fought off the tears and just struggled to get my breath back before the next blow came.
The lawyer turned to the woman and began listing off the jobs I had done in the past, what I had knowledge of, and he told her the classes I had taken in college. Then she turned to her Big Book of Jobs and started flipping. She looked again at the doctor’s note. She asked a question. It was so banal and technical lined and bogged down with so much jargon that I was lost halfway through the asking of it.
I blinked. I shook my head and tried to focus.
And the judge was watching.
She asked a few more questions and they were answered by my lawyer. She read a few more pages in her book, made a few statements, read the doctor letter again before turning to the judge and saying something along these words.
“As the Labor Expert of this case I can say with authority that this man is unemployable. With the limitations that have been laid before me and the testimony of the doctor, I can say that the work force cannot hire this man.”
I looked away. I gasped for breath. I looked at my lawyer, who looked up at me and locked eyes with me for a long time. I focused on him. I let myself sit in his eyes. I drew in shaking breath then looked up.
And the judge was watching.
Indigo came in and told the court what she did for me. Making sure I took my meds. Checking in with my therapist to make sure I was still working on my therapy. She made sure I had toiletries. She made sure I had food. She made sure my house was clean. She made sure I was paying my bills. She made sure I was keeping myself clean. She made sure I was wearing clean clothing. I was finding out that day that everything a mother does for a child, Indigo and Sunshine had been doing for me.
I sat on the side of the room now as Indigo and Bekah sat down and now the judge was talking to Bekah.
Bekah told him that she never knew from one minute to the next what sort of mood I was going to be in or what sort of things would be running through my mind. She said that sometimes for no reason I would just burst out crying and not be able to tell her why. That I would get lost on my way to the bathroom. She said that sometimes I would be out in public and have no idea how I had gotten there.
While she was talking, the judge held up a hand to pause her for a moment. The room stopped and I watched as my life played out before me. Then the judge spoke.
“I would like the minutes to record that while hearing this testimony Jesse Teller sits on the side of the room rocking back and forth in an effort to self soothe.”
I did not cry. I did not scream. I did not run. I did not beg. I sat there shifting from one alter to the next while we tried to decide who was going to stand in for us. None of us were equipped for this. We were raised working class. Your worth was decided by how hard and how consistent of a worker you were. I sat there shifting from one person to the next, searching for anyone who could withstand the knowledge that all of that was being ripped from us.
In the end, it was Smear Lord of Ire who came to our aid. He set the room on fire with a blue and purple flame. He put orange wings on Bekah and gave my lawyer armor and a sword. At my feet, a hopping Katherine, and above my head the roof blew off. The daytime sky was black and crusted with stars made of diamonds, and above me hovered a massive man covered in black fur with tiger striped butterfly wings.
A few months later we were dubbed mentally disabled. We were a ward of the state. Our life was to be overseen by a case worker from that day forward. We were retired from any lifestyle we were prepared for.
We were done. Everyone in my life celebrated. Something inside me curled up and dried out.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.