The Jericho Factor . . . Inside The Locked Ward of Redemption

The euphoria of crossing the Jordan was quickly sobered by the facing of the next immediate challenge – JERICHO!

It’s funny, but the rapid evolution of events since the day of truth shook the foundations of everything I had believed about my partner Jennifer, and our relationship spanning 10 years seems, at least upon reflection, to be progressing with a confident peace that is centered on the belief that this was perhaps the way it should be . . . was meant to be.

I am not talking about a victimized mindset which can far too easily fan the hot burning embers of anger, hurt, and feelings of betrayal. What I am talking about is the the eternal view beyond the acute agony of discovering the unbelievable. A recognition that prevents you from being stuck in the moment where time and space seem to be at the helm of a runaway freight train heading towards the edge of a cliff. I never felt that, although I can now understand how someone might succumb to such feelings. Yet there is none of that desperation so much as there is a recognition that for Jennifer her battle with the internal demons of a troubled childhood is no longer confined to her thoughts alone. In essence, by stripping away the veneer of normalcy and calling out to the world beyond her own distorted mind and perceptions, she has perhaps crossed her Jordan.

Let’s think about this for a moment . . . for the first time ever, Jennifer stepped out from behind her thoughtfully created, painfully maintained chameleon-like facade, and introduced herself to an unknown world believing that she would be scorned, abandoned and ultimately discarded for her transgressions both real and imagined. In fact anyone who has any experience with someone who suffers from Bipolar Disorder – regardless of origins, will tell you that abandonment is one of the main fears that paralyze and drive these individuals based on the belief that they are of little if any true value to everyday society.

This again does not excuse their behavior, because at the end of the day those with Bipolar Disorder do have the freedom to make choices. It is not the devil made me do it situation. Perhaps it would be easier if it was, as Bipolar sufferers in many instances have a keen sense of right from wrong, its just that their brain chemistry coupled with self-medicating addictions and poorly developed social skills make the distance between knowing and doing a desert of lonely isolation where it is easy to get lost.

Theirs is not an easy life, so when an individual finally has the courage to say to the world this is who I really am versus what you think you see and know, there is at least for a short time a feeling of freedom and perhaps even a fleeting euphoric reaction along the lines of the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan River over to the promised land.

That being said, any feelings of a long-awaited respite quickly dissolve at the prospects of the next looming battle associated with the daunting challenge of coming face-to-face with the demons whose obfuscating presence limited their existence to a conceptual awareness versus a tangible knowing. Like the denizens huddled behind the seemingly impenetrable walls of Jericho, these internal voices of intimidating persistence will do anything and everything to hide behind the faulty wiring of even the most magnificent of minds, while picking at the debilitating scars of an abusive childhood in the hope that the mere suggestion of exposing a deliberately forgotten life will keep the sufferer from opening up to the possibility of a better, more joyful and productive future. This is perhaps the great stalemate of mental health.

It is this reality that, as one doctor put it, will see me be her guard and protector for life . . . her touchstone if you will. It is also the reason that I understand why Jennifer needs to be in the safe and controlled environment of a hospital for at least the next two-weeks. Do not get me wrong, and perhaps this is her greatest curse, when you meet her she can and has in the past shone like a bright star whose way with people is reminiscent of Stephen in the Sonya Green article on the website that shares the same name as her book; www.reinentingmyself.com. She is charismatic in a vulnerable and innocent way, while putting out an contagious energy that gets anyone with whom she comes in contact believing that they can do anything. So seeing her in a locked down ward, which doesn’t have electrical outlets and requires that all bags being bought to the patient by visitors be searched, is a disquieting disconnect from that person that I believed I knew so well.

This collision between a carefully crafted outer persona and the hidden forces of a mental illness is also a potential stumbling block in the recovery process in that I am certain that not even Jennifer herself knows what she will be facing when she ventures into her mind’s darkest places. If anyone remembers the closing scene of the 1968 movie The Boston Strangler, when Albert DeSalvo comes face-to-face with his own demons, you will understand why this is something that has in the past week, crossed my mind on more than one occasion.

At times it is as if Jennifer believes that she is a healthy person playing the role of a troubled soul, without fully recognizing the fact that it is not a role and that her reality of normalcy is in truth the act she has worked so hard to craft as a means of survival. She once said to me that she doesn’t really know who she is and what she believes. I think that I finally understand what she meant and that she is for all intents and purposes facing her Jericho in this regard after crossing the equivalent of the Jordan River by way of her acceptance that something is wrong.

How she ultimately deals with this epiphanic truth will determine the course of the rest of her life. Considering the gravity of this contextually significant crossroad, the issue of what has happened in the past and the damage it has wreaked while still relevant, warrants a reasonable consequential abeyance, and a great deal of prayer.

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