Are There Characters in My Head?

by Mike Travelstead

My name is Raymond Starr and I exist inside the writer of this story. I am the voice created from the toxic brew of childhood and adult experiences that includes schoolyard bullies, teachers and peers that play out in his mind like some twisted fucking funhouse from a horror movie dream sequence. I have no look because I am a thought process inside this person. If you need context to picture a world for me think film noir. As for what I would look like as a person. Whatever you think an alcohol and depression scarred mind would look like will work. I think all the negative energy from the writer's childhood is only part of what lies in the shadows behind the door that leads in here. It's like having eyes watching you from a surrounding darkness and they are waiting for a moment of weakness. That's when they get their hold.

He was born under a third quarter moon. It's said a person born then will suffer from inner conflict so if you believe that then this one was marked at birth. The memories he hasn't drank into oblivion show him in his own world, at first voluntarily then forced. 3rd grade he use to improvise stories in front of the class. 7 or 8 years old and comfortable in front of people performing and improvising. I guess no one put much into thinking about what might have been going on in here then. He didn't do well in music at school but it wasn't rock and roll. He had to endure a teacher give him all kinds of shit about being a kiss fan. The class starts to join in and he lets it go. He did stand his ground even against the friends who had joined in the chorus to turn on him and be with the in crowd. Sometimes I wonder who the fucking follower really is. I've noticed that some of the people who talk the loudest do the least.

The girls took the freak thing and ran with it to the point that he could not look at other girls and he wouldn't dare talk to them. Kids are just fucking angels ain't they! The effect of this would be felt most of his life until I got here. I guess the Einstein's couldn't figure the next puzzle piece when he started daydreaming in class. He's getting bullied and treated like a sideshow freak! "He seems to have withdrawn inside his head". Solution! Add to that out of place freak feeling by sending him to a different school in the afternoon. Once again no one asked why? Just a bus ride to another school to be someone else's problem. In his memories there are only a few names and a few faces from the school years so how high is that wall. Talk about blocking something out. There's a shadow cast in here but I hear him thinking does this even matter now and it's been a lot of years since any thought process has been spent here.

He finds rock and roll and is saved. From here on this would be the one constant in his life. He heard his mom and brother's Elvis records. The only problem here was him trying to be Elvis when he can't sing but fortunately a friend asked him if he had heard the Beatles and that was the sound that changed everything. When he thinks back now, his mental picture for when he discovered music is being at the top of a staircase and looking down into darkness but you put your foot out anyway. When he watched a hard day's night and the scene where Paul strums a chord on his bass, that was the torch that lit the stairwell up and he still went down there. There is a memory of being told when he was a baby and an aunt and uncle watched him, to help him get to sleep the uncle would play stand up bass. Christmas of 1975 there is a red Apollo bass under the tree. I know his parents had no idea that it was not only a guitar they were giving him but a life preserver that would keep his head above water for the rest of his life.

When it comes to creativity there is a dark side, for some of us it feels like everything is served up by some shadow lurking demon inside your head. This is where the crowded feeling in here started because so many anxieties' can ride with creativity. Until it becomes its own monster and crushes creativity with its own weight. The whiskey slamming, Wildman musician had all the demons necessary to be found dead in a hotel room and music was the explosive in his mind but depression and alcohol were the blasting caps that ignited the toxic brew in his brain.

Alcohol and Depression felt like having a set of claws gouging both sides of his brain. Its toxin's exploded and infected every vein, every synapse. The neurotransmitter's stopped creating positive thinking then alcohol and depression done some real fucking damage in here. They bloodied everything. No voice, no emotion was spared then the three of them, meaning the writer, alcohol and depression built an emotional wall between positive thinking and their dark wasteland. I did not exist then and the memories are broken and more vague thought's of what might have happened.

This is when insanity came in and it brought friends. There were all kinds of voices and thoughts banging around in here and all of them thinking at once. So the mind chatter starts and then the nerves start to grind until there's a bottle in his hand. Eventually migraines started piggybacking the alcohol devil. The monster would feed off the whiskey and the outside world goes black. He is still going It's just this part of the evening will be forgotten the next day.

You can feel the first stab of daylight go thru your eyes and hit your brain stem which triggers the exploding feeling in your forehead and starts the whiskey burn in your stomach. He Counts how many times he woke up choking from apnea attacks. you would think stopping breathing would keep him under control but he does not even consider that he is relying on his body jump starting the system every time. Once he was to drunk to move so everything fades and the last thought before he passes out is didn't a couple of rock stars go this way? Other extreme moments included being so jacked on pain killers his eyes were rolling up in his head which is a weird feeling because at that point you are so far gone. Your head is spinning in every direction and it's a different view when his eyes are rolling around and looking in here. Before it became a funeral procession the highway he traveled was positive until the anger and resentment from the know it alls telling him how he should live came out of the shadows and poisoned the thought process of everyday living. I know the memories are vague but I can't find any moment where someone asked him what would make him happy which looking out from in here done nothing for his well being.

A lot of these people he should have made their lives feel like a constant kick in the balls for fucking with him but he didn't, instead to avoid confrontation he went with the flow. The world had knocked him down and he didn't get back up. Still blaming everyone but the responsible one he was driftin and existin on the outside and killing his self on the inside for not having the confidence to be who he was not who they wanted him to be. When you project your anger inward you can be calm in the outside world while enduring a mental bloodbath on the inside. While his splattered like a scene from a slasher movie no one out there noticed.

He would get everyone's attention when he tried to quit. Alcohol and depression dig in deeper and try to pull you farther into the pit when you try to give one up. The first 7 months were fucking hell. Every moment is a reason to drink and every craving feeds off your nerves while your thoughts are consumed with waiting for it to happen. Which it finally did because he didn't just fall off the wagon, this mother fucker blew it up and scattered pieces for miles. Logical thinking was the first causality and believing he was about to lose everything it felt like every voice, demon and thought process came crashing together like some mental battle royal. In the outside world this manifested into OD's and knives as the poisonous thought's flowed thru his heart and mind until the explosion of energy from the war inside his mind.

When the smoke cleared I was here. I came from the depths of our asylum to keep him from being found dead in a cheap hotel room after losing everyone and be the voice that keeps him from ever drinking again. He will always live in the shadow of the alcoholism that he is possessed by.

It's been a long time but I never let our guard down. Whenever he doubt's the choice we made I remind him of the last time and that we can never let that one out of it's cell which is how it feels in here just an insanity ward of voice's and anxiety. While he has had help getting here he became one seriously fucked up individual when all he had to do was get up. His hand was the only one on the volume dial for the thoughts in here and he turned it up to block out what was going on out there. There are those days out there of energy draining depression and fragmented writing which means one of them in here got out of it's cell and is bouncing off the walls of his brain but it can be hard to catch those little fucks and put them back in, but we still have to go in those dark rooms if for anything just to heal from self discovery.

I know it sounds like I am making this up as I go but I am not. I came from the depths of our asylum and there is some good stuff in there. If he can handle touching the bones of the skeletons that he wants to bring out of the closet? That's a lot of getting on with your life when your skeletons look like a mass grave guarded by sleeping hell hounds, do you try to read the story behind each bone to see why it's there or do you move on being content in the fact that you have changed.

You could self analysis what's going on in here and what has went on and think I am a sub conscious or an alter ego come to life. Maybe I'm the creative voice of anxiety and short circuited nerves, blackened by years of drinking. If you ask the writer, he will tell you this is a fiction story and I'm not real, just another character in his head.

But alcoholics always deny they hear voices in their head and see a devil on their shoulder.

   Raymond Starr 2012

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