My father used to say that I am too small, too young to understand his explications. This is how I remember him: telling me how small or perhaps how stupid I am. Then, he left. Then, he died. He didn’t have the time to explain to me those things that were apparently too complicated for me to understand at an early age. Maybe he was unable to explain something that he himself couldn’t understand well. Maybe. Or maybe I was indeed too young and I was risking a misunderstanding. Maybe. But he is no longer around to clarify his point of view. He’s gone. He took with him this key, among other keys that could have opened doors that I found difficult to open, or doors that even today remain locked for me. His absence, just like his presence, has a similar impact and bears a similar weight: the weight of inability.
Psychiatry was a logical destination. This is not for the small people. You need to be a physician, that is, a doctor. You need to know the anatomy and the functioning of the body, healthy or sick. Then, you need to know the human psyche, healthy or sick. Then, you need to know how to talk, what medicines to give, what papers to write. Then, you need to have social skills and leadership skills and educational skills. And then you need patience and masochism so as to achieve mastery in this field. Again, this is not something for the small people. And then, after having learned everything, you must do it again in French. Then in English. Then in German. Then you must bear solitude and the stigma of being a doctor for the “crazy people”. That’s not easy, that’s not for the small people. And it’s not over. At some point you are forced to leave your country once, then twice, then thrice, then for the fourth time. This comes with cultural shocks, with airplanes and trains, with a lot of paper work, with losing friends and your social support. Not for the small people indeed.
And one day, after all this, you mother tells you that you are not yet awaken, that you are still in a deep sleep, that you don’t get it. Just when you thought that being small and stupid was the worst possible thing.
* If you’re interested, I wrote a book, Twilight Tales.