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When I Was In The Nile…

April 5, 2008

instead and still in denial.

Almost four years ago, I was on The Nile river in a fallucah with a bunch of people I had only recently met.  We were on a trip to Egypt to study the pharaohs for class credit and I was thrilled to be there, although later, I found that I couldn’t stand most of them because of the complaints about – well about almost everything, except the actual tours of the tombs, museums and monuments.

I didn’t want to be an Egyptologist while many of those I couldn’t stand did.  Since we were studying with a well known Egyptologist, almost everyone was intent on impressing her and becoming her assistant in some manner.

I thought the Ph. D. Egyptologist was knowledgable and intelligent as we landed in Paris, although I had only a few conversations with her.  Then we began a tour of the Egyptian wing of the Louvre.  I don’t remember what she was talking about but I heard the words, “and while we are in the Middle East.” She continued to speak and I assumed I had misheard.  I dropped it and continued paying attention to the statues and heiroglyphics she was discussing.

Then as we deboarded at the Cairo airport, she mentioned the Middle East again.  Ok, this time she must be talking about the culture, since Egypt is largely an Islamic culture, this is after 9/11, we are Americans, etc, etc..  No worries on my part.  I was in Cairo, Egypt, surrounded by history, thousands of years older than Christ, walking through an airport, ya know.

We got on the bus for our first tour, the following morning and she mentions again, how since we are in the Middle East, blah, blah, blah…what? WTF?…wait, I turn to my roommate and casually, in a low chuckle say, “She thinks we are in the Middle East.”  My roommate, whom I had known all of one day, replies, “Yeah, seems that way” with a quick eye roll.  My roommate and I became very good friends.  She’s the friend who won’t let me get away with anything even today.

Courtesy of

So quick geography lesson, yes, there are two seas, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean which connect Egypt to the Middle East.  There is also a canal called Suez.  There are lots of Middle Eastern immigrants.  There are lots of Middle Eastern customs and culture, but sorry Egypt has been and always will be part of North Eastern Africa and thus an African country.  Yet here is this respected Ph.D. Egyptologist calling Egypt part of the Middle East.

How much deeper in denial can it get?

Yeah I want her kind of denial (sarcastic snort), instead of the denial I’ve been trapped in.

All this is coming up for me today because I recognized another pattern last night, as I was doing my gratitude and acceptance work.

I’ve been thinking clearly and realize that I have done what I am doing right now at least four times, in the last 12 years.  I go from passion filled zest for life and everything in it to this pervasive sense of apathy and a passionless abdication of everything.  I just stop caring.  Only it’s not about the caring.  I want to stop feeling.  I get these wonderful and frightening insights into my own psyche.  They come when I don’t really give a damn, or at least when I don’t want to give a damn.  Not giving a damn is the worst place to find yourself with insight because it breeds an even deeper form of denial.  Deeper than the denial about what puts me in this state of denial in the first place.  This is no fallucah ride for sure.

I know exactly what it is.  It is a childhood almost entirely repressed because the memories are too much.  Too much for what? I don’t know.  I just know they are too much.

I want to say YES to the memories, the ones that cause me to have mild throbbing and dull thuds on either the right, left, front or rear of my head, sort of like a foam hammer knocking on a rubber nail.  Nothing that makes loud sounds or creates intense pain, bright lights, blackouts or even stops whatever activity I happen to be involved in.  They do, however, keep me from being present and in the moment.  It’s easier to just forget whatever I was trying to remember.

I am finding that I don’t retain things very well.  I get lost in a minute detail and eventually snap back to consciousness because the dog is barking at some invisible enemy.  I’m glad at least one of my dogs knows how to tell time because they might not get feed and oh yeah, how did three hours pass, damn I’m late again.  I don’t remember what you’ve just said to me, or I to you, although during the conversation I was rivited.  Still tomorrow, the flow of our conversation will snap into my mind like a rubber band.  Simplicity eludes me as do most jokes and although I am firing all my brain cells trying to go with it and be involved and look animated and interested and there with you when you are talking, it’s just not working.

See somehow, I always make sure that I have no money when this phase of the cycle starts.  That way I can be assured that the repressed memories cannot be coaxed out of my reluctant mind by a well trained therepist.  Well trained therapists, enjoy receiving payment for their time.  I can allow myself to stay in this denial and know that about six to eight months might pass and it will all go away again and I will:

*sail with a strong wind for 30 months
*drift for 8 months
*be a castaway for 8 months
*take 2 months to get myself back together and ready to sail again

Like I said this is the fourth time in 12 years….and I always begin the drift and become a castaway without money, stalled with no wind and no motor, in the middle of a river of denial. At the beginning of the last drift iteration, I could at least say I was floating in The Nile, with massive denial surrounding me, with the before mentioned good Ph.D. Egyptologist.
Like her, I remain in denial about where I am and what the reality is.  This denial can’t, won’t last for much longer because, well things are shifting as they have in the past and I see the possibility of change.  I’ve just finished reading “Feel The Fear…And Do It Anyway”, by Susan Jeffers who says that, “saying yes means getting up and acting on your belief that you can create meaning and purpose in whatever life hands you.”
I know more about myself now and will remember this because I am writing and sharing it here, even with that foam hammer pounding.  I am aware of the time loss.  This isn’t the first time, it’s been brought to my attention.  I am aware there are different pieces of me, seperated by necessity because of circumstances and they are the ones holding the hammers and pounding from behind their walls.

I know all this and I am choosing to sail again and this time prepare for the drift when, not if but when it happens and work with a good therapist to mitigate the castaway phase and get on with life because I don’t mind not caring sometimes.  I mind railing against not wanting to care and I mind especially the desire to not feel taking over again.  Because honestly, before “not feeling” has always meant trying to take my life.  I don’t want that kind of not feeling.

What I really want is another fallucah ride on The Nile, trailing my hand in a river which runs through North Eastern Africa, with someone I love and who along with me, is not in denial about where they are.

One Comment
  1. April 7, 2008 8:21 pm

    And this is what we call wisdom.

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