Sunday, December 16, 2012

Excerpt: Core Values.

Earlier that day, for some unknown reason probably related to stress, Bru suffered his first anxiety attack in at least a couple of years.

This time around, at least he knew what it was.

That didn’t make it a whole lot easier to deal with. An anxiety attack is a symptom, not a disease. In essence, it is a symptom of intolerable stress, a warning signal to the individual to shut down for a while. Back in about November, 2007, he literally pulled over to the side of the road, and called his mother to talk for ten or so minutes until an attack passed. He simply couldn’t drive.

He was too scared, too shaky. And for no reason at all.

He was afraid he wouldn’t make it home. It didn’t have to be a rational fear by that point. He was afraid his knocking knees and shaking hands would make it impossible to drive, and he feared calling for help.

He feared fear itself.

And who could he call? Certainly not the Lennox cops. What would he tell them?

‘Hey! You guys were right! I really am fuckin’ nuts…?’

It was like he lost all physical strength in his body.

He was afraid of everything; and nothing at all. He wasn’t afraid of a lamp or a TV set. It was his thoughts. He was afraid of walking into a store and what if? What if Mr. LaSally and some friends should see him?

He could imagine Walter or one of his little buddies phoning the cops and telling them, ‘I’m afraid for my family,’

Brubaker was afraid of being sent to jail, or the loonie bin; over and over again until he just couldn’t take it anymore. Brubaker feared the loss of control. The very real possibility, as it felt sometimes, that he just might go and do something impulsive and stupid.

He couldn’t defend himself from accusations of mental illness, and so what if some weirdo claimed to be fearful of him? Is that why some of his buddies followed him once, down in Waltonburg? Was that why some guy in a blue Lumina slid to a halt beside Bru and Willy up on that church roof in London; rolled down the window, popping off pictures with a telephoto lens, and then yelled and screamed some incoherent abuse at the two of them? Who are you going to call, once the cops have you labeled paranoid and delusional?

Oh, yes, Brubaker hated those mealy-mouthed little dickheads, those arrogant Lennox cops more than he could describe. He had no good way to articulate that kind of anger. It always sounded too much like hate mail.

He was afraid that he would get up one morning, go downtown and drive his vehicle through the front doors of the cop shop, leap out and try to kill as many as he could before they shot him. He was afraid that his future would be so bad, so evil, so degrading, so fucking demeaning, that he would jump off the Bridge, and considered it mightily well before rejecting it.

All he could do to cope was to think of the rest of his family.

Was he afraid of himself?

Didn’t he trust himself?

Didn’t Brubaker know himself?

Coming later, it was these questions that ultimately saved him, but that was later.

He had to suffer through it for a while.

He suffered through it too many times, when he was sitting in the living room, watching TV. He couldn’t even remember what was on now. But he had these crazy attacks that sometimes lasted two or three hours. To simply to walk outside, made him feel better—go in the house, and he felt worse.

Today, he figured he must have been thinking the wrong thoughts. Sifting through the past with a fine-tooth comb, re-opening old wounds, re-fighting old battles. Re-writing old, ‘Thomas Paine,’ speeches,’ re-analyzing old evidence, old incidents. He probably caused his own anxiety with what Tony Robbins or someone like that might call, ‘bad self-talk.’

Still, it could be pretty scary.

When the first one happened, he really did think he was going mad. He wondered if maybe what they said was true? Was he really, actually, mentally ill? The prospect, the future, of what his life would be like if he couldn’t control his demeanour…

Life wouldn’t be worth living. They could take away his freedom for any little excuse or provocation.

People like LaSally could remove his humanity and to make him a monster on any complaint.

For those dingbat Lennox cops to predict; “Mr. Brubaker is an unexploded bomb waiting for a chance to go off…”

The power of suggestion is very strong. The cops have manipulated many a person due to their knowledge of human nature, which they get to study up close and under extreme circumstances.

Now Brubaker knew how they abused it from time to time.

He figured it out, all on his own.

In an anxiety attack, the heart palpitates and races. It becomes erratic in its pulse. The lungs tense up. All the muscles tense up. Sweat pours down the armpits. It is a blind, unreasoning, naked fear, nothing more. It doesn’t have to be logical. Breathing is shallow, rapid, and unsatisfying. There is no visible cause, and no rational reason.

What am I afraid of?

It’s just a TV set, just a room, just a carpet, a chair, a window!

Brubaker, like many a man or woman before, feared the loss of control. The loss of his mind. The loss of identity. The loss of a soul may seem very academic, but Brubaker liked his brain, his mind. He liked it very much. And you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Brubaker liked being who he was.

The accusation of mental illness was an assault upon his identity.

It affected him very badly.

The truth was, he let it get to him.

Brubaker’s brain was a finely-honed tool, a precision, highly-developed instrument capable of amazing things. In the final analysis, it was all he’d ever really had.

Without mind, our own minds, we do not exist.

We have no self.

Focusing again on the page, with his eyes tired and sore, his mood not happy at all, Brubaker read on in the hopes of finding some kind of serenity in the classic words.

It was a tough go tonight.

At the height of the crushing burden imposed by the ODSP, when they were all over him for months; with incessant demands for information, holding back badly-needed forms, demanding his books, (and when he turned them in, he didn’t hear back for two and a half years,) Bru got up one morning.

He got all dressed up in his best clothes after a shower, and a clean shave.

“So; what’s your big plan for the day?” asked his father, with what would be called a sneer in a less-jovial man.

Bru knew his old man had no respect for him; that’s why he always treated Bru like a six-year old.

“I’m going downtown to kick some Nazi butt,” he told the old fellow shortly.

He began by going to the library, and going on their computers, and studying the ODSP guidelines in detail. It took days, weeks. Months. He studied the newspaper files on micro film.

He carefully studied every human interest or bad fortune story involving disability, and mental illness, and all kinds of social issues. At some point he bit the bullet and took on the government. It was a one-man effort.

It’s a funny thing. When Bru began to fight back, when he realized he was not alone; and that tens or hundreds of thousands of disabled people were violated every day, when he realized that they needed him, Charles H. Brubaker; to fight for them; his anxiety attacks miraculously went away.

Brubaker had been called. And the lessons of history were there, for all to read.

“Serenity is mine,” he murmured.

The book faded out again. He laid it aside.

From time to time we need a reminder of who we are—and who they are as well.

It was one of the many things he had learned over the years.

‘If you do not confront your problems, they will overwhelm you.’


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