I didn’t know what to do. I usually don’t.
What I should have done was the thing I did not do. A simple phone call to the hospital would have probably end the phone calls at night.
They say to go with your first instinct. I’m not sure that I ever go with my first instinct. I’m not very decisive in real life. My instincts usually tell me to ignore followed closely by denial. My decision making process is slow. I overthink, ruminate, weigh options. I usually hope to take the path of least resistance. Most decisions generally are followed by regret.
I knew that calling the hospital would satisfy the household. There was already talk of changing locks, changing phone numbers, calling the police.
I did not agree with the claims that we would be robbed or raped or murdered in our sleep. But I knew that inaction would not satisfy the household.
The phone calls at night from the mental hospital probably did need to stop though. I wasn’t too worried about them but I could understand why they were disconcerting to others.
I did finally do something, which in and of itself was not something I usually do. The first few times I kind of had to do it on the down low. I’m confident that if I had told anyone in the household I was going to do it that I would not have done it.
He was insistent that he knew me. I did not think so. I don’t really know a lot of people and I generally know the people I know.
I would like to say it was against my better judgement but my judgement is not always the best to begin with.
So I went to visit him.
The mental hospital does not really bother me. I’m not sure how others feel about such places. I do know that their portrayals in popular culture does not always match their reality.
I do have the advantage of familiarity when it comes to these places. I’ve worked in one and been admitted to one. Both of those statements are true. It’s not something I bring up very often, especially the latter. They tell me I should not feel the shame I feel but there it is, nevertheless. I don’t really believe them when they say that.
No, the awkward part was not actually being in the hospital, though I do find other visitors awkwardness interesting. You can tell when they are pretending to be cool with some thing when they really are not.
Nothing’s absolute, of course, but even though there was mostly awkward silence the first time I visited Byron in the nuthouse I did not feel like he was dangerous or crazy and was not going to break into my house in the middle of the night and murder us all.
Nuthouse was his word, not mine.
Any awkwardness was probably coming from me. I am awkward. We sat across from each other at a little round table in a small common area. There was a bigger common area but Byron said that there were too many people in that one and that he did not like to be around a lot of people. I agreed with him on that.
The television was on but the sound was not. It at least gave me something something to look at during the pauses in the conversation. There were a few other people in the room looking at the silent TV, but I don’t know that they were really watching.
It does depend on which floor you are on in a mental hospital as to how quiet it is. The crazier the patient the more opportunity for commotion. I think in general, though, the mental hospital is a pretty quiet place.
I did tell him that he had to stop calling. He did not say if he would or not, but after the first visit he did.
You look the same.
I’ve not asked him who he thinks I am or what it is that he wants. I continue to not recognize him.
I feel like he just wants someone to talk to. I doubt it’s specifically me, but I get it.
I did ask him that first time why he was there. What’s wrong with you, I asked.
I don’t know that ‘wrong’ was the right word and he didn’t really answer. He just kind of shrugged. He looked normal enough. He did look sad, though. He looked defeated.
We didn’t talk about much, nothing heavy at least. We talked about the weather. I tried to talk about sports but he wasn’t really into it.
I asked him how long he’d been in the mental hospital. He said that he was not sure but that it had been awhile. I asked him when he was getting out. A lot of mental patients admit themselves and can ask to leave after awhile. He did not admit himself and did not know when they would let him out. He said that he was not really in a rush.
I’m not sure how it came to this.
I don’t know that I was going to come back for a second visit. He said I didn’t have to. I heard what he said but I saw his face when he said it. That’s probably why I did come back.
Thanks for coming.
That was pretty much it that first time. I wish it was a better story. I’ve seen when mental patients go a little crazy and create all kinds of craziness. This story did not have any of that. I only have my personal experience to draw on but I don’t think full on crazy happens all that often. I think the mental hospital is pretty chill most of the time, only occasionally punctuated by full blown chaos. Most of the patients are dealing with their own crazy and don’t bother the other crazies with their craziness.
Crazy is my word, not his.
I don’t think he wanted to be there. And I’m no professional, but in addition to the sadness and defeat I think I sensed relief. That relief was something I could definitely relate to.
#7 – Cousins, or We are Family