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Henry Fuseli: The Nightmare (1781)
"It's a long, hard road."

Every day carries a hint of irrecoverability, each one new and subtly different from every day before it. A very few days arrive carrying the clear threat of a radical BreakingPoint with the past, a clear sense that forever after, no day will likely seem terribly similar again. A death or a divorce brings a dismemberment along with the dread certainty that no subsequent surgery will ever reattach whatever was torn asunder. One wonders What Next? without mustering anything like a reassuring impression of what that might entail. These discontinuities might seem curiously reassuring, marking an end to what had become for almost everyone, an increasingly intolerable situation, but also inject a shit ton of uncertainty into the proceedings. A deeply disturbing unknowing settles in to wait for a fresh opening in the storyline. Above all, everything seems anything but fine in that moment. One proceeds, anyway.

I have been scampering along the eroding cliff edge of just such a BreakingPoint for the last few weeks, terrified over where this story might next take me and those I care about most in this world.
I'm not ill or anything, and nobody's on the edge of dying, yet continuity's been disrupted and the future seems to promise ever grimmer forms of reality. We've been living with a resident insanity since the end of last year. We'd invited The GrandOtter to join us here in the clear crisp high mountain air, believing that this context might provide the kind of atmosphere several previous attempts had failed to delver. We reasoned that at least it might seem safe here to work through an ungainly volume of residue remaining from pent up previous trauma, and our tactic seemed likely to work, though results seemed sporadic and somewhat imaginal. We kept faith, as one does whenever dedicated to producing any miracle.

Friends and colleagues were supportive without predicting success. Such a combination of conditions, they counseled, usually require lengthy in-patient treatment, however caring an extended family. One psychiatrist friend asked if we'd come into a sizable inheritance, since that would represent the approximate cost of the typical course of recovery, with perhaps a forty percent success rate after a year. She'd started out with insurance, but lost it when her dad lost his job in the initial pandemic crash. Public assistance might require a year or more delay. They don't just give that stuff away. We cobbled together a kind of treatment strategy, anyway, largely delivered in kind and out of pocket, a larger commitment than we'd intended to make, and that emergency collaboration sort of worked until the therapist concluded that her three times each week counseling wasn't likely to produce any long-term benefit and so removed herself from engagement on ethical grounds. She'd been accepting co-pay alone for months, a perhaps inevitably compromised context, anyway.

The therapist's retreat prefaced a BreakingPoint. The GrandOtter interpreted it as another abandonment and reacted by insisting that she could not possibly be as ill as her then discredited confidant had concluded. She set about sabotaging her support system, cobbled together as it was and utterly dependent upon extraordinary kindnesses. It's one thing to generously give and quite another to receive escalating disrespect in return. The Muse and I quite understandably felt burned and we'd learned from life that the cure for headstrong youth usually lies in simply agreeing with them. If the GrandOtter insisted that she was well and recovered, then she must logically be declaring that she was ready to (finally) make it on her own. We granted the liberation she insisted upon. It took some searching, but she finally found a surrogate home willing to take in her indigence and The Muse offered to buy out her option on providing further assistance. She's packing up and moving out this weekend, without help from us. We're planning on relocating to somewhere else while the separation surgery occurs. It's too painful to watch.

In my youth, I wrote a song asking "how tall is the sky?" I didn't know then and I'm no closer to knowing now the relevant range of almost anything. One extends hands generously or not at all, but generosity never covers a blank check. Beyond some point, further help might deflect a necessary crisis and inhibit further growth. No one knows precisely where that BreakingPoint lies and guilt properly accompanies every attempt to find it. We move in quiet speculation or we do not move at all. We move more or less continuously until encountering another BreakingPoint. Then we take a walk in the rain, certain that everything will never be the same again. It's a long, hard road.

It's suddenly Friday again, and time to recall my first full writing week of this Fall.

I began my week writing from Breckenridge, a resort town sitting at ten thousand feet above sea level, reveling in the dizzyingly

I continued to the end of our Pilgrimage explaining the different ways time seems to move in

I next railed a bit against my demographic category, mostly annoyed that I've grown to self-identify with an utterly fictional classification in

My most popular posting of the week attempted to deconstruct the US Tax Code in

I went all self-disclosing by announcing to the world one of my more definitive identities in

I spent the final two days of my writing week anticipating the impending BreakingPoint, demonstrating two of my most frequently resorted-to coping strategies in
HidingOut and ExitStrategy.

I wonder now just how I managed to maintain my writing schedule through the preceding week, for I spent it more or less in hiding. This was a week spent crawling, dragging that certain sort of knowing that seems to bode poorly for everyone involved. I hope for better times, and soon. Until then, I thank each and every one of you for following along. Better stories next week, I hope. It's recently been a little too real around here. Now you know what's been going on.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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