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Excerpted from Second Sight by Judith Orloff. Copyright 1996 by Judith Orloff, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Books and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Among other things, I was fed up with being so sensitive. I felt no one could understand me anyway."

Judith Orloff, Second Sight, Part 3

Very relieved to be on solid ground again, we were soon able to hitchhike a ride down the winding canyon roads back into the city. Faint rays of pink dawn light were beginning to illuminate the hills. I don't think either of us said a single word the entire time, but I'm not certain. I have little recall of the trip. Staring off into space, I replayed the accident over and over in my mind, unable to account for how we could still be alive. Only a miracle could have saved us.

For many days, I blanked out the details of the actual fall but retained a few disjointed images. I could distinctly remember the car rolling over the cliff and the giddy, weightless, out-of-control sensations during the drop. It was like going over the first big dip on a gigantic roller coaster. I also recalled how every cell in my body had screamed in protest in the instant of the screeching, bone-jarring landing. As for the tunnel, I had no idea what to make of it. It was an enigma, a mystery I would continue to try to unravel for a long time to come.

For my parents, what happened that night was only the latest in a series of drug-related calamities in my life. I was their only child and they were frantic. It wasn't so long before that my mother had sung me to sleep with lullabies, that my father and I had played miniature golf on the weekends. I looked up to my parents, and I knew they both wanted my life to be easy, to shelter me, but the tighter their hold, the more I rebelled. When I began to take drugs, I could see I was breaking their hearts. I knew they feared for my safety, saw our relationship slipping away.. But I felt I had no choice. I had to break free. During the past years, they'd watched me change from being a quiet, sensitive girl into a stranger--unreachable, out of control.

Before the Tuna Canyon wreck, my parents had done all they could to get me some help. My mother, a strong-willed family practitioner, and my father, a soft-spoken radiologist, were both prominent physicians in Beverly Hills; they had the resources of the community behind them. A practical man, with a root integrity, successful but satisfied with the simplest pleasures, my father would look at me with his large oval, blue-green eyes as if trying to see where I'd gone. And my mother, powerful, gregarious, afraid I wouldn't fit in, seemed to be determined with all her intensity and faith to straighten me out, even at the risk of being overbearing. But I was stubborn and rebellious. I just wouldn't listen, was convinced my parents were incapable of truly understanding my inner struggles, perhaps because I didn't understand them myself.

Among other things, I was fed up with being so sensitive. I felt no one could understand me anyway--how I sometimes knew things about people before they said a word. Or how I made accurate predictions about the future, often unhappy ones. My father never gave these predictions much credence or even said anything about them. Loyal, a man of few words, he was a strong, steady presence; his chief concern was keeping peace in the family. His mind sought the concrete, was most comfortable with the world in which he'd succeeded so well. The strange, the unusual well, if it created problems, he was against it. But for my mother, my predictions seemed to touch a raw nerve. She never encouraged them; they made her uneasy, fearful that such talk would keep me from being normal. Much honored, my mother took enormous pride in being part of the Jewish community, the medical community, having a celebrity practice in Beverly Hills, many friends, a phone that never stopped ringing. But my predictions made me no more comfortable than they made her. In fact, I would have done anything to shut them off. And drugs could do that for me. They provided a way out and I took it.

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