Sanctuary for the Damned
My name is Taijhena Mona Lisa Ormand and my life can’t get any more fucked up than it already is or maybe it can. I’m named for the song by Nat King Cole not La Gioconda by Leonardo. However my parents must have been big fans of both because they named my brother Leonardo, thankfully leaving out da Vinci as a middle moniker.
Who knows maybe I’m the female incarnation of Joe Btfsplk that hapless supporting character in the comic Li’l Abner. Whatever…. Okay maybe not that drastic but I am the embodiment of a ghetto fabulous authentic Lemony Snicket.
I hate these religious fanatics with their weary platitudes and homilies that they pull out and dust off for use whenever a friend, neighbor or acquaintance is in trouble. Platitudes and attitudes. Phony part-time Christians. Practicing Christianity only when it suits their objectives. Only their brand of “Christianity is sacrosanct marking followers of other belief systems even those of differing Christian denominations hell bound.
The religious nuts say I should be thankful I for my body no matter its malfunctioning condition. Well let’s trade bodies. You take the excruciating 24 hour pain and physical discomfort. The huge blocks of time lost to unrelenting abdominal and back pain. Barely being able to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom wondering how you will make it to work before realizing that you won’t.
Being awaken one, two, and three in the morning with sharp stabbing pains coursing through the lower half of your pain. Going to the bathroom every hour on the hour passing not only urine and feces but bucket loads of bright red blood peppered with liver shaped clots of blood turning your toilet into a sacrificial altar. Like a severed artery with a never ending source of spewing blood forth I’m a vampire’s ultimate desire and fantasy.
My fallopian twins have released hundreds of eggs who never had the good graces to be fertilized and the one lost soul who did was not allowed to see the light of day torn apart by the unseeing eye of a uterine vacuum. Perhaps this tiny spirit torn asunder has come back to exact retribution from the one who denied it life.
Then there are the pills. Dozens and dozens of pain pills that give no more reprieve than M&Ms. Trips to the doctor’s office and to the E.R. with no body able to give you an answer or provide relief from the constant nagging throbbing ache that refuses to go away. Remembering being a young girl and my mother applying hot water bottles on my stomach, her gentle touch, her checking on me to make sure I was okay. But Mommy has been gone for years and now all I have left is the pain of her loss and the constant tenderness and soreness of a vindictive uterus and ovaries out to ruin my already complicated life. Three years ago a cruel, heartless GYN removed an invader from enemy uterus, (all while I was awake and with very little anesthesia) perhaps the alien has returned. Maybe this time he’s brought buddies with him.
Even though I totally despise religion and all it stands for, with Mom and Dad long taken from me, this sacrificial god is who I turn to for comfort and understanding. Either I haven’t paid for my sins totally or in his wrath or displeasure he has appointed me to be the female Job combined joined together unnamed women with the issue of blood.
Lately I bear my stigmata alone without complaint to family and friends. Why? Because no one can really help and most people have their own problems. I’ve also absolved the few acquaintances who do call me from future interaction with a diseased, discarded misfit and freak that inhabits a club called the House of Pain in which no one in their right mind wants a membership.
Once the pain has let up a bit and I can return to work I will once again put on the mask of the true believer filled with faith, happiness and joy, smiling clown-like to society’s pressure to not whine or complain but to take joy in the fact I’ve been chosen to suffer while making appeasements to a silent universe.
Earthly vets put to sleep animals whose suffering cannot be alleviated or who have outlived their usefulness why can’t the perpetual vet grant me the peace of heavenly rest or at least the empty unknowing void given through death.
Alas I remain the feminine Prometheus, in eternal punishment, chained to a mountain rock, my uterus and ovaries being eaten out by birds of prey day and night only granted some solace for perhaps one or two weeks out of the month to be a normal regular woman, only to have my hopes dashed to pieces once again at a later point in time.
This drama of degradation and misfortune has brought me closer to my mom Mabel. Her curse was schizophrenia. She bore her curse from her mid-30s until age 64, finally being granted permission into the sane world but for only four years until her death from pancreatic cancer at age sixty-eight. I suppose fate frustrated by her triumph over one disease decided to bless her with one that could not be fixed. Her last two months filled with tubes coming out of every orifice of her body along with IVs stuck into every major vein and artery of her small 4’9, 85lb frame. Mom’s pain was so intense I saw her while she was in a coma try to pull off her hospital gown and pull out all the tubes only to be restrained and further sedated by the nurses. I was a helpless viewer to her suffering. Death was the only relief from endless torture. To this day I hate hospitals along with their beeping, buzzing, blinking machines that measure out your final existence, a mechanical last rites of sorts.
Mommy was a lot like me. She abandoned formalized religion as soon as she met a kindred spirit in my father giving in only to social mores in sending me to local Baptist church for Christian indoctrination. Briefly she attempted to reconnect with church when her marriage threatened to falter, seeking advice from the sexist Baptist preacher, Rev. Quimby who denied her worth as a woman and as a human being pushing her back into the role of subjected robotic wife who never questions the authority, rule and reign of her husband. Pastor Quimby was married to a fat light-skinned woman and together they had an equally pudgy daughter. An unholy trio to say the least. I wonder if the fire and brimstone he preached from the pulpit was equally practiced in his home and in particular in the bedroom being wed to an unsexy blob.
I envision the two of them engaged in sexual role playing. Acting out everything he admonished his congregation not to do. The corpulent daughter was probably hidden in the closet with the 8mm motion picture film. This vision brings that misogynist down to size.
Fortunately Mom got her moxie back, kicked submission to the curb and laid down the rules to my Dad who agreed to compromise for a full partnership instead of a hierarchy.
I made my first fire prevention trip to the front of an August 1982 Jimmy Swaggart revival. And we all know what happened to him. I joined the mass of humanity surging to the front to please my girlfriend and so the gates of Hell would not engulf me with spewing, spitting, flames. The next trip to the altar was to make my Aunt Hennie, whom I loved very much happy and again provide assurance that my soul would go in the right direction at my death.
Perhaps one day I’ll figure out what I did to offend God so much that he has withdrawn his smile and love for me. At this point I extremely overwhelmed.
As for me I’ve found a new faith, a new church whose members are named Oxycodone, Percocet, Demerol, and Valium. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Blessed relief. Blessed sleep. My new friends come to my altar from many High Priests and Priestesses found on my night prowls across the city. It’s so easy to obtain. Also I never knew so many people down on their luck that will either sell or perhaps give you their prescriptions. I receive their offerings with open hands along with a few martinis, rum and cokes, or Cirocs.
Then the Fifth Horseman made his appearance. His name is Ambien. Let me tell you of the journey.
True peace has eluded me for a long time. I can’t believe I’m up at a little after 2am in the morning but I can never quite completely shut my mind off. However I’d had most of these problems since my 30s and they have not abated yet. Perhaps I’ve inherited the mental problems my mother had. Looks like I can’t escape my DNA. Just like I inherited high blood pressure from my father I’ve got my mother’s tortured soul. It might have started in my mid-20s or even before. I had a lot of nightmares as a child. Usually one grows out of this kind of thing but not me. By my mid- to late- 20s I used to imagine demons or devils were attacking me in my sleep. I was afraid to go to sleep at night because I knew they were at the foot of the bed ready to get me. Obviously I was way too old to ask my parents for help and they would have blamed it on religion. My parents were not religious. Now my nightmares are no longer imaginary creatures from the movies, they are real flesh and blood people who hate me and are out to get me. They prey on me. Though my physical body might destroyed my soul and spirit will live on. Those human demons should fear their master who can destroy both body and soul.
Another fear I had was not waking up during a nightmare. That’s horrible. Imagine a monster or maniac is out to get you and you try desperately to awaken but you can’t. It’s like having Freddy Krueger in your dreams every night but it’s real. I was having these dreams way before those movies came out and I never watch them. To close to life for me. These dreams were so vivid that I had whether sleeping by myself or with a lover. Many times my exes had to reassure me that it was just a bad dream and to go back to sleep. After a while my subconscious had to protect itself so by the time I hit my 40s the insomnia had set in pretty well. I will say the one good thing about antidepressants is that they stop you from dreaming. No dreams. No fears. No torment. Now that I’ve gotten older I dream but unless the dream is about my parents or a sex dream when I wake up I don’t remember my dreams. Probably better that way. Right now I kind of feel like a vampire and that my mind is a haunted house.
Sometimes I dream that vampires, demons, flesh eating monsters and gargoyles are out to get me. I’m running but I can never run fast enough. Eventually they catch up to me and I must fight them. I scream for this dream to end before I die.
Ambien. My New God. Repeated nightmares compelled me further experimentation on myself. Somehow the side effects of Ambien proved to be so hypnotic I cared not for psychological interactions. I was so results oriented and in such a rush I turned myself into a human guinea pig with disastrous consequences.
Journal May 2010
Very disappointed regarding Ambien. Ambien is the one thing that really
helped me sleep. Now I’ll have to stop taking it. Yes the side effects happened
to me but I did not know what was causing it. I don’t drive, however I did call
my girlfriends house while I was asleep. I spoke to her mother, had an entire
conversation that I still don’t remember and hung up on her. Fortunately I used
my cell phone. Saw that I had dialed her number and called her back to find out
what I said. My girlfriend’s mother was more scared than I was. I just chalked
it up to menopause or old age. Damn now I’ll be awake every night for the next
ten years. It is now 2:28am. As you can tell I did not take the Ambien. Why
can’t science invent drugs that that don’t have side effects. Oh well another
reason for me to transfer to the night shift. Midnight to 8am here I come.
Monday I return to the lunatic asylum. God has consigned me to this mental institution masquerading as a museum as punishment for past sins. Every few months or so He dangles the carrot of escape in front of me only to snatch it away just as I reach out to grab it. It’s like the feather on a stick games that you play with your cat only the cat thinks the game is fun. He enjoys it. You on the other hand are desperate for happiness. Happiness is so close. You race towards it both hands extended only to have it suddenly disappear with you left in a panic searching to see if maybe it fell on the floor, behind the furniture, or maybe release is just hiding around the corner. You’ll find it. You’ve got to find it. Your very life depends upon it. However the gods that rule the Cosmos are laughing. “Poor sucker, they say. Let’s give her some time to resign herself to a life of quiet desperation then we’ll suspend another sweet just out of reach, just so we can watch the torturous drama once again.”
My plan for survival is to lose myself in food, drink, sleep and if the opportunity comes around sex. Actually erotic movies are a good substitute for sex.
Journal December 2010
No matter what steps I take to fix things it seems I always fail. At this point I’m just too tired to go on.
A friend called me last night. She knew something was wrong. I nearly burst into tears. There is really nothing anyone can do to help me. I’m in quicksand and sinking fast. I feel as though I’m in a hopeless situation and I can’t get out. My life is just a big mess.
Slowly but surely I’m beginning to think God is a sadist because he’s a man and likes to see women suffer. I find myself wondering what I did wrong am I being punished for past sins, am I really forgiven and what I can do to appease this angry God.
I feel like a rejected pet who finds himself abandoned out on the street or if he’s lucky a prisoner waiting to be put to sleep in the local animal shelter.
Is God a male who does not care about the struggles of women or does God take on the form of any angry female demon who is out to destroy my mind, soul, and body? Methinks God is the former. The willful destructive God of the Old Testament who did away with nonconformists’ or those who could not successfully placate him. I am the new sacrifice put up on the altar of redemption, the knife at my throat, my heart being ripped from my chest and thrown upon the heap of discarded vital organs behind his throne.
The Message – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five featuring Melle Mel & Duke Bootee (1982)
Zolpidem you are the Hypnos of the 21st Century. My wandering soul remembers well the night you lulled me into what I thought was a deep but fitful sleep. Your brother twin brother Thanatos had come for the beloved Selene.
That evening after gazing upon an increasing stack of unpaid bills and when the phone finally stopped ringing from creditors demanding payments on said bills I turned on the gas oven, placed lit candles in my unheated bedroom and living room, then downed four Ambien tablets with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006, a very good year. For two years I was adrift in a sea of pain, hoping for rescue and finding no angel of mercy to aid me.
It was a very windy March night. Thunder and lightning played off in the distance promising a soon coming storm. Transported to the roof of my high rise building I sat down on the edge of the precipice and gazed up into the belligerent night sky replete with stars and celestial bodies heralding other galaxies. Not long after I felt a presence next to me. To my left was Azrael. Not in expected bodily human form but thousands of blinking eyes and fluttering wings arranged in a human shape. Silently he communicated to me to stretch out my arms like Christ and fly. Standing up I flew. At once the veil was lifted.
During my downward flight the first powerful gust of wind slammed my head into an adjacent building snapping my neck making the rest of my descent like that of a limp Raggedy Ann doll. Skull hit pavement, split, spilling its cranial contents allowing me to pass through the night into a great cosmic gulf.
At this point you’d think my journey was over after entering the netherworld but it had just begun. At point of impact death claimed my mortal body but not my eternal soul. I was met at the gates of Paradise by Uriel.
“Taijhena Mona Lisa Ormand because you were seduced by the gods of former civilizations’ into taking life bestowed upon you by Elohim I sentenced you to an appointed time in Purgatory till ye make amends and be cleansed of your transgressions.”
He blocked my entrance with a fiery sword condemning me to the endless wanderings of all suicides. Doomed to wander the earth able to see but not interact with other mortals. Allowed to look upon the promised land of loved ones who beckoned from Paradise but not able to enter in.
I was allowed one conversation with a beloved family member. The specter of my beloved mother Mabel Ormand appeared before me.
“Beloved and treasured daughter. I have completed my time in Purgatory. I have made my amends for the sin of self-slaughter. Yes unbeknownst to you there was a second attempt by me to take my own life. The first time I was brought back to see you through into adulthood but after your father died my only thought was to join the man I loved at all and any costs. Not by poison as I did the first time nor by alcohol but by sheer force of will to be reunited with my adored William. I crossed over but not into heavenly bliss with William but into this dark and foreboding underworld where I had to pay for my disobedience. Lifting up my eyes from torment I could see my William in Paradise. Over and over I beheld his exquisite form gesturing to me from the bosom of Abraham. Finally no longer able to bear this torment I called upon guardian Uriel fervently asking him how to escape this afterworld of shadows and to be reunited with William. Finally tiring of my repeated requests for succor Uriel declared that I must provide a replacement soul before I could be released into the Seventh Celestial World. I chose you my daughter as my sacrifice and bid messenger Azrael to claim your angst-ridden soul. Farewell my daughter. Do not sorrow as your time here will not be long.”
At that pronouncement my mother’s being became luminous white light, she arose in all her magnificence and glory her white raiment shone with a brilliance nearly blinding me. Empyreal substance, fiery essence of myrrh, frankincense and unguent oils filled the atmosphere. She was taken up beyond the gulf.
Once again I was violently wrested from this vision into what was to become my new reality.
What the Fuck is this and Where the Hell am I?
“Correction you’re in Purgatory not Hell.” I looked up from the mud, sand and gravel I had landed in to see the most beautiful ugly man ever in life. He sat on a bar stool with a Heineken in one hand and a blunt in the other hand. His handsome face was marred with deep set angry red scars on either side of his face and on his forehead. He took another sip of his beer, another drag on his mary jane cigarette then slowly got up from his stool with the crankiness of a 69 Chevy Impala on its last legs. As he arose a pair of humongous filthy dirty ash covered wings spread and fanned out as if in an attempt to shake off some of the dirt and grime that seemed ground into them. He gave me a look as though he were assessing a bacteria culture under the microscope.
“What the Fuck are you talking about? Purgatory? I’m not even Catholic and who the Fuck are you?”
“Taijhena, Matters not what you believe only what is and you little sister are in Purgatory. And by the way I’m your escape out of this dungeon.”
By now I attempted to stand up steadying myself on a stone sculpture noxiously out of place yet congruous within this vacuum of time and space. I studied at this sorry excuse for an Angel, and then my mind went back to my last human act. The moment when skull hit pavement and I felt my soul sucked out of my body to my present knowing of being slammed into another dimension.
Oh God I silently mouthed.
“He’s not here. Only me. Purgatory is the one place he doesn’t exist. Even the souls damned to Hell can see Him, hear His voice yet never be comforted by His presence. You Taijhena are in a place of decision and I’m your conduit to freedom.”
“Not totally. Just semi-fucked. For now. After what you did you didn’t really expect some nice pure pristine Angel from a Hallmark card did you?”
I guess not and you’ll have to do.
“Baby action and performance are what I do best.” With that he extended his hand towards me which I grasped with the fury of a starving frightened beast and together we walked towards a journey so fantastical only picture postcard flashbacks occupy my mind to this day.