Story time! Time to visit my Really Not Finest Hour.
There’s going to be a lunar eclipse on Saturday, July 4.
As many of us know, the Moon’s phases run in roughly 19 year cycles. What that means is that 19 years ago, a full Moon with a lunar eclipse fell on the 4th of July.
And 19 years before that, there was another: July 4, 1982. That 4th of July is a date I remember vividly.
I saw the bloody Moon that night from the walled outdoor enclosure of a mental hospital called Oakcrest.
I was twenty.
Less than a month earlier, I had graduated as valedictorian of my community college and was set to transfer to a university.
But three days before, I had slit my wrists in the bathtub.
The details don’t really matter. I was a complete mess, as I have described previously. I had freaked out and harmed myself and I was in a locked facility. I would spend a week there before release.
I remember that it seemed apocalyptic, that red Moon in 1982. My world was burning, the air was still and hot, and the Moon flew over, sullen and bloody. I was enclosed by locked doors and walls, denied anything with which I might hurt others or myself. My fellows were various flavors of depressed or delusional; I remember a sorrowful, distracted young pregnant woman who s
tood before a mirror for hours, combing her hair and singing the same single line from a pop song, 867-5309, over and over.
I am now closing in on three times the age I was at that sorry time. I look back at the sad, lost, self-deluded boy/man I was at that time—and trace the faint white lines that still persist on my wrists—and I feel tremendous gratitude that I was foiled in my plan.
Side note: depression is a bastard. I have written about this before. But that’s not what this story is about.
No: this story is about how—no matter how bad it gets, no matter how hopeless it seems—if you have time, you have the possibility of something better.
You have hope.
I’ve been through peaks and valleys since. Especially in the following few years, there were serious valleys. Even when I succeeded, I alienated people and loathed myself.
But I was never hospitalized again. And things got better. I healed.
Now, I have reached the third of those lunar cycles. The July 4th, 2020 Night of the Red Moon.
The pointless, baseless self-hatred has at last subsided. An effective combination of medications has become available. Life, once so awful, has become a rich amalgam of beauty and horror, and somehow I have come to peace with it, choosing a path that both rigorously focuses on the real and chooses to celebrate the glory of What Is.
I have chosen the joy.
I will look up at that red Moon this Saturday, and I expect I will cry: cry at its beauty, cry at the passage of the years, cry in relief that I have had these 38 years since my night under the blood Moon of July 4, 1982.
Friends, I don’t know whether it is possible to communicate this except by living it, but if it is, please know: it can get better.
However bad it is.
That red Moon will come around again, and with it, bring hope. -Mark Green.
Shown: Oakcrest mental hospital. Closed 2016.
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Note: This essay was originally published at Atheopaganism and is copyrighted. It has been published here with the explicit permission of the author.
About the Author
Mark Green is a writer, thinker, poet, musician and costuming geek who works in the public interest sector, primarily in environmental policy and ecological conservation. He lives in Sonoma County on California’s North Coast with his wife Nemea and Miri, the Cat of Foulness. For more information on Atheopaganism, visit Atheopaganism.wordpress.com, or the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/godlessheathens.21.
Thank you for sharing your own story and your message of hope to others that may read it and need it. I would like your permission to print out this article and share it with some of my patients who may need this message in the future.