The Cat Mold

The calendar moved on, and I wasn’t. This is a reference to the first “day program” I attended.

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All that winter I cried myself to sleep every night. I drove to Rise in the cold dark of the morning and returned home in the gray sunlight of a nowhere afternoon. I sat across from Flora in tears during our sessions. The jewelry workshop ended and with it my connection to the outside world.

A guy from Rise had a father who owned an Italian restaurant, and he invited us to dinner there. It was all I could do to get dressed in some kind of decent outfit and drive across the island for the meal. What I wore: some kind of turquoise-and-black long-sleeve tie-dye shirt and leggings and the necklace of connected circles that was my favorite. Mario was a happy-go-lucky guy whose demeanor masked his depression. Every day he got up and went to Rise and had something positive to say to everyone else. I was sealed inside my agony like I was entombed.

What could I do? I was so exhausted from the Stelazine that I sometimes fell asleep in the community meeting. I once had a cold and took a Benadryl and dropped off stoned asleep for the rest of the day.

I got very good at making ceramics: a blue copycat Ming vase, a doll that beat a drum with the word love on it that I painted yellow and green and purple, and of course, the cat mold. By the time spring arrived, I had made three: an Egyptian cat with green eyes, a white one that I glued blue rhinestones to for eyes, and a sandy cat.

The cat mold was popular at the day program.

This was the kind of thing that constituted victory.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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