I’m Listening

This was an intention statement that i made a year ago today.
I’m proud of my conduct and progress in this area, and i intend to continue.
To that end i share it even with those that i don’t personally know or interact with.

Happy Thursday.

**********

Dear People-that-i-personally-interact-with,

I wanna tell you something. I have a lot of thoughts about this and more than a few things to say about it, but i’m gonna keep this short (ish).

The reason i’ll be brief is because this stuff is super important for me regarding what kind of human i want to be, and also how i see the other humans in the world, but based on how my husband’s eyes have rolled up into his head a couple of times, i think i have a tendency to drone on and on about it. Pity the poor man when i’m trying to figure something out. Heh.

I was raised “right wing” but would currently be considered “left wing”.
I’ve decided that, with respect to interpersonal relationships, i don’t know what the hell those terms mean.

The recent political campaigns and elections i’ve seen in my province, in my country, and in my closest neighbouring nation, have all been contentious and divisive. I’ve seen so much fear and anger and hatred amongst people on both sides of the political spectrum and i get it.

I SO TOTALLY, TOTALLY GET IT.

You do you. Say your piece. Trim your friends list. Make your ultimatums. Draw your lines in the sand. Curate. Block. Plant your flag at the top of your hill and defend it against all comers.

I want you to know i believe in your right to do that, and i have no judgment about whether it’s good or bad, or you should or shouldn’t do it. It’s your life and you should live it as you choose and do what you think is right. I support you in this respect.

This is a belief and intention statement from me, about me.

I have thoughts and beliefs about things like religion, politics, sex, family, the law and law enforcement, the rights of other living beings, the environment, the planet, the universe, what’s right, what’s wrong, who’s right and who’s wrong… all of it. Just like you do, and i can guarandamntee that there’s not a single human with whom i completely agree with about everything out there. If there is, it’s because neither of us have the time or the inclination to discuss ALL OF THE THINGS, and our jaws are starting to lock up and we’ve got a headache from nodding so much.

What i believe is that there is room enough here for everyone, conditionally. Those conditions would include tolerance for differences of opinion and points of view, and a willingness to be wrong and to see things from another perspective. And the earth could stand a chance of being a truly transcendent place if everyone actively tried to understand everyone else.

Maybe that’s just me. Anyway…

Maybe it’s also just my perception that the divide between “sides” is getting wider and deeper. However, maybe there are others out there who’ve been watching it happen and are becoming more and more concerned for our future. And maybe, like me, you’ve also been wondering what in the name of all that’s good in the world, can little ole nobody me do about it?

This is not the part where i tell you. I can’t because i don’t know.
I think that most of us by now have gotten the message that we all have a voice and we all have something to say, but there is another piece of that message, a yang to its yin, that i believe has been lost.

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Although that was initially intended as a philosophical thought experiment regarding observation and knowledge of reality, i can use it to illustrate the point that i’m trying to make, which is this: Have you really spoken if no one has listened to what it is that you said? Does it matter what you say if no one listens? If everyone’s clamouring to be heard, who is left to hear?

I’ve decided that i am. I’m left to listen, and listen i will.

Look, i get frustrated, too. I think everyone should think what i think because i’m clearly right.
But i read the same tones and hear the same inflections in the words of people espousing various beliefs that in my opinion go from nonsensical to repugnant. So then WTF? I used to go to snark pages to blow off some steam about how incredibly ignorant and stubborn some people can be, but i quickly found that i didn’t feel good about participating. Over the past few months i’ve found myself not going to those pages at all, not even just to read them, because i don’t even feel relief anymore. For me those groups are just echo chambers, and i think they gave me a false sense of security, and gave me an excuse not to think for myself, not do my due diligence, and close my ears to opposing opinions, beliefs, and points of view.

This does not mean i’m suddenly open to changing my mind about all or even any of my beliefs. I have good reasons for the things that i believe to be right and good, and i can back it up. What i’m saying is that i’ll listen, even if i disagree -and more than that- i’ll listen respectfully. I will tell you bluntly though, i may not find your beliefs or opinions worthy of any respect, but as long as you can have a civilised and relatively reasonable discussion with me, you will have my quiet attention.

I will try my best to understand where you’re coming from.
I will not patronise you, neither with my demeanor nor with my responses.
I may believe you to be dead wrong. I may even find what you’re saying to be morally reprehensible.
But i will hear you out. I will listen to you and try to understand where you’re coming from, unless or until you either become intolerably disrespectful or aggressive, or i perceive to my satisfaction that you’re being intentionally or otherwise wilfully ignorant, at which point i will end our interchange in as decent and quick a manner as i can manage.

For myself, i cannot see how i can do otherwise, and not be contributing to this increasingly wide, deep, and treacherous divide between recognisable and appreciable sides of any and all issues. I don’t know how good i’ll be at this, but wherever this place is that i’m starting at, it is my sincere promise that i’ll get better at it.
Listening.
Understanding.
Communicating respectfully.

Okay, so maybe you think this isn’t short or even ish. If you don’t believe it, just ask my husband, and be vigorously assured.

Have as good a day as you’re able.

Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. Isn’t one expected to be dropping resolutions rather than adding more at this stage?

Setting the Stage

I don’t quite know how to explain to you how i saved my own life. I know people want a formula, a step-by-step guide, some easily digestible cracker of wisdom that they can swallow and metabolise, an old coin to keep forever in their pocket.
I want to help, i do. Helping is what i want most to do in this world, but i’ve not yet found a way to easily quantify and succinctly communicate what i’ve done and learned.

I don’t think it exists.  I could wax philosophical and go on about balance, but as fascinated as i can be about the nature of our existence, i can only tolerate the study and discussion of the various disciplines for short periods of time. I always wind up getting annoyed with the endless pedantry, in other words, the way they talk makes my brain hurt in short order. I would speak about balance though, because it seems to be the way the world works, or at least they are the patterns that i can most easily recognise. And balance is where i find the most peace and the greatest happiness.
That is not to say an even keel, i’m not looking to be the bead in the centre of the carpenter’s level, rather, i’m looking to place my arms in the right place in order to correct the inevitable wobbles as i walk my own personal tightrope.

If my life were a tapestry, i would want to gaze upon the beauty of it as a whole, and also train my eye upon the intricacies of the weave, but to unravel it would diminish it. Once the threads have been woven together in the same configuration for a time, they will never wind back around each other as tightly and perfectly as they once did. I’m free to examine it as closely as i wish, but i wouldn’t change the tone of the piece by taking it fully apart.
But that’s just me.

When i refer to my life as a piece of art, don’t mistake me for believing in a grand design or designer. I do not. I see no need to bring up my lack of belief in the supernatural for the most part, but here it’s important to me to be clear that i see the fact that i’m still here and doing this well as a fortunate confluence of my personal choices and those of others’, with the inescapability of nature doing as it will.

I MADE THIS.

Growing up in an abusive household, i reacted. I had no choice in my birth, nor in the manner of my upbringing, nevertheless, i had choices and i made them, all along and from the beginning. I was without doubt an innocent victim, and my choices were unconscious ones, yet there were decisions for me to make, and regardless of how or why, they’re foundational to who i am now. Here is another area where i don’t think it would be helpful to delve into that viper-filled pit that is the endless debate on nature vs nurture. I’ll just deal with what was and what is – i can always stick my head up my ass at a later date.

What i’m trying to set the stage to say, is something like this: Through my examination of both how i, and life, seem to work, i may or may not be my own physician/saviour, and if i am, to what extent is unknowable. Now that i have you completely relaxed and settled trustingly in the palm of my hand… Heh.
I’m sharing how my brain works.
I’m sharing how i’ve learned to deal with it.
I believe i am the linchpin and the major reason that i’m still here and the person i am today.

And if you think THIS post was nonsensical, meandering, and otherwise nebulous, wait until the NEXT one. Until then, be well, be happy, be loved. Well, try your best.
It works for me. Mostly.

~H~

The Art of Broken Pieces

“When you write, you should put your skin on the table.”
~Louis-Ferdinand Celine

I’m afraid to write too often or too regularly, because i’m afraid of what might come out. I’ve made a firm commitment though, to share how i deal with how my brain works, and to deny it -even to hedge a little- would lead me to stumble on my path. I’m as committed to stumbling as little as possible, as i am to telling you about it when i do, therefore i must write. As much and as able as i am to do so, i will.

Even if all i end up being is an excellent example of what not to do. Heh.

So yes, i am feeling somewhat fatalistic today. Which is odd and also amusing when one considers that i don’t believe in fate at all. Not a whit. Maybe it’s not so much fate, as it is this feeling that comes over me when i’m at the keyboard – the feeling that i MUST do this. The caged bird singing and all that, how poetic, tralala. I’ve expressed myself artistically in other ways, but i was too dysfunctional to pursue any of the opportunities that came my way as an adult. As a child, my seethingly jealous and envious mother did all my sabotage for me. I don’t know if i’ll ever be any good at writing, but i know i have one thing going for me, and that is that i’ve found my voice. I may never bash out any fiction (the mere thought makes me perspire), but when i write anything about my own thoughts and my personal life, i am exactly me, myself, and i. Which is darkly amusing, because i am many parts making up a whole person.

What do i want to write about today? I guess i want to write about what i’m going through right now, which is pretty much what i always write about. About a month ago, something happened that is the worst thing to happen to me since i’ve gotten my mental health on track. I’ve got one full year of no full blown mania or depression, no police or judge involvement, no voluntary or involuntary hospital admissions, and manageable levels of dissociation. I haven’t had two months of that, let alone thirteen and a half, since i went off the rails in 2006.

So i am deep in the shit. I’m going to do everything in my power to maintain my streak, but the pressure’s high, and i know that i might fail. I know some people bristle at the use of such words, but the word “fail” doesn’t bother me at all. I understand that sometimes it can help to shift someone’s perspective in a positive way to use different words. For instance, instead of the word “fail” i could call it a “stumble” or a “learning opportunity”. If that’s what works for you, then you keep doing it. You’ve got to tailor your plan of personal growth to suit your personality. I find a tremendous amount of freedom in calling a thing what it is and just dealing with it head-on. For some people, calling something they did a failure could be detrimental to their health, and i get it. Try not to hurt yourself anymore than you’ve already been hurt. Because of my upbringing, i loathe euphemisms and pop psychology is tough for me to take. Calling a thing what i think it is, helps me stay real and honestly connected to myself and my surroundings. What i mean to say is, just because it would be a euphemism for me, doesn’t make it one for you. Yours may be more accurately called a “learning opportunity”. Geez, i hope i made some sense, there. Heh.

You call what you call it, and i’ll do the same, and neither one of us is necessarily wrong. Although you might be. (I need a smartass font.)

Another word that i use that can make some people uncomfortable -even my therapist doesn’t care for it- is “broken”. Maybe some day i won’t use that word to describe myself anymore, but i can’t see it happening. I was profoundly abused as a child, and i’m broken in ways that will never be fixed. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life trying to emulate what normal looks like to me, and despite my best efforts, i’ve never quite gotten the hang of it. Once the most important thing became to know myself and be myself, the first thing that was abundantly clear to me is that my childhood broke me, and i will never know what i could have been or done with my life had i not been so broken.

As with most things though, i do find that there is a line to walk with this knowledge. I’ve seen what happens when the freedom that comes from acknowledgment becomes an excuse not to bother trying to fix the things that can be fixed. I have dived deeply into the waters of self-pity and while i believe i needed/deserved to and i’m glad i did, there came a time when i knew it was time to get out, shower, and dry off. I will never be returned to my original state, but i can stitch the wounds and set the bones.

I see myself as a piece of Kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery using lacquer that has been mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. Instead of hiding my cracks, i decorate them with something beautiful and those mended bits become the most precious parts of me. It’s not to say that i take a perverse kind of pleasure in being this broken, it is more that what others might see as useless and throw away, i put back together. And not just in a utilitarian manner – i did so artfully, and now it is even more beautiful and precious than it was in its unbroken form.

Freedom.

I have been broken and i have failed and i am free.

I am currently repairing the chip in my bowl with gold.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
~Leonard Cohen

Love and Peace to All,

~H~
P.S. Did you notice how i started out writing about stumbling and then got on to failure? I didn’t until i was proofreading. Welcome to how my brain works – she is an interesting bit of stuff. Heh.

I’m Naked in the Sun

Hey Friend,

If you’re feeling low, maybe try this thing i stumbled across while blogging a week or so ago…

Since i’ve begun this very intentional journey towards becoming a critical, rational, skeptical thinker, i’ve tried to be more aware of the things i just say. You know, like when someone says Hi! as you’re passing them and you say Hi! back, and then they say How are you, and you say Fine, thanks! They’re not really asking, and you’re not really telling them – not really. It’s just a thing you say.

(As an aside, i am, as a person who prefers to love humanity from a bit of a distance, in favour of these meaningless exchanges. I want to acknowledge your presence and bid you well with the least amount of interaction possible. It’s not that i don’t like you or don’t care about you, i just manage my thoughts and emotions best with a minimum of physical, in-my-actual-bubble involvement, and the more personal we get, the more quickly i need to GTF home and recharge my batteries. This is not to say that i don’t have the time or energy for a deeper exchange – i just tend to reserve those for personal friends. What i’m meaning to say is, i simply don’t have the desire or the wherewithal to engage on a deep level with everyone i say Hi! to. Hm, this still doesn’t read quite right…

If i’ve never seen you before, or have only ever said Hello to you, i’m fine with the basic niceties and some small talk. There. That seems clearer. I guess this is a bit of insight for you, lucky reader, into how my brain works. Heh.

I’m working on being more conscious regarding what i think and what i say. I question whether i have enough reason and evidence to believe the thing i just thought/said. Is it something i just say? Is it only something i’ve heard my whole life and i’m parroting? Is it something i was taught is true and never questioned? While it is a long, arduous, and exhausting endeavour, i’m completely committed, and i’m happy to say it has borne some good fruit.

This is not to proselytise or preach, that you should be trying to achieve the same things as i am. I want to be right about as much as possible and wrong about as little as i can be, and the only way to do that is to test everything i think that i know and believe to be true. I try to foster a skeptical mindset, and apply critical thinking to everything, which begins with my thoughts and naturally extends to what i say.

If you were wondering when i was going to share the thing that may lift your mood as it did mine – wonder no longer, for i have meandered my way back to that thing that i stumbled across last week. Huzzah! (The civil engineer was on holiday when my brain was mapped out, it could use some signage, i admit.)

I was blogging, and i found myself writing about the best thing that had ever happened to me. It’s a story i’ve related many times, but my new, carefully cultivated mindset caused me to pause and ask myself, “Is that event actually the best thing that has ever happened to me?”

To know if it is the best thing -and by best i mean the thing that took me off the path of destruction and pain that i’d been set upon since birth- i must test it to see if it’s true. I must subject it to critical thinking, and look for evidence, evidence being a body of facts that would indicate my belief is the only valid conclusion.

I asked myself if anything else contributed to me changing my life for the better, and it was instantly **INSTANTLY** clear that there were other people and events that had contributed either a little or a lot, to me shucking off my mourning clothes and plodding steadfastly towards the light.

Actually, there were many. There were many people and events that helped, and more than that, there are still, today, many people and events that continue to be helpful. Sometimes it’s hard to be this naked, and i think about my clothes laying somewhere on the ground back there, but the light is warm and beckons me, and i know they’d be too dark and heavy for me now. There are those along the way who would provide me shelter and refreshment too, so i never need go back.

Through testing whether or not that one particular story was indeed the best thing that ever happened to me, i discovered that it both was, and it wasn’t. I realised that there were many things that had happened with many other people, that could at least be put on the short list. And then, as i pondered, i had a little epiphany. It’s nice when they occur. I don’t go looking for them, because then i just get frustrated and depressed if i don’t have one, but geez, they sure are nice to experience sometimes.

I realised that there is a common denominator in all of those “best things that ever happened to me”, and that is, of course, me. ME is the best thing that ever happened to me. Nevermind the literality of that statement could get your brain all twisted up in knots – just take it in the easy and obvious way. The way that means that i am the best thing to ever happen to me. And i invite  the best things ever and the best people ever to happen to me. And i am the one who makes them the best things and people ever.

And that makes me feel good, and happy, and powerful, and important, and loved.

I could go on, but it’s probably better for all if i don’t. My brain is spinning all over the place right now, and my feelings are centred in my chest but feel very light and floaty, which experience tells me that, if i was understandable at all in this piece, i soon won’t be. I’m going to listen to some soothing instrumental music and play some mindless games. It will keep me from slipping into a state that can make it easier for mania to gain a foothold.

Ah, life as me is always fairly interesting. And just so you can better infer my tone – i have a huge smile on my face right now.

“Victories over ingrained patterns of thought are not won in a day or a year.”
~ Isaac Asimov, The Naked Sun

Love and Peace, Friend,
~H~

Addendum: See what happens when my brain gets all excited and flits about like that? I clearly didn’t bring it back around to you. I was trying to share something that helped me, just in case it might also be helpful to YOU.
So if you want to, think about who you’re not sure you could have made it this far without. Think of things that happened that changed the way you thought or felt in such a positive way, that it altered all your experiences after it happened.
Realise that there are people over the years that have shown you mercy, compassion, support, protection, love… Whatever it is.

Remember how those people and those transformative occasions made you feel.
Become aware that it was you who gave these people and events the permission to change you. So there. You could maybe feel a bit better. I hope. If it didn’t, i want you to hang in there. If you wait long enough, something probably will. The wait sucks, but stick around, okay?

Tell Me Who You Are, And I’ll Believe You

“The real message is to accept your children,
and accept your friends,
and accept people for who they say that they are.”
~iO Tillet Wright

 The other day i found myself in a situation where i was able to see some good fruit come from a decision i made a while back.

 Some months ago, i decided to let people tell me who they are and what they think.
 What i mean is, i decided to stop trying to read people. No more guessing if they were being genuine or telling me the truth or representing themselves correctly.
 Through examining my life, and trying to be healthier and happier, one of the things i’ve learned is i can’t change anyone but myself. Over the years, i’ve been misjudged and misunderstood – i’m certain y’all have been as well. I’ve learned the hard lesson that i can’t make anyone think the way i want them to think about me. I can’t make anyone understand why i am the way i am and do the things i do.
 One day it occurred to me that the reverse is very likely also true.
 So i’ve stopped figuring people out.
 I was taught to read people, and i can usually do it fairly accurately – but so what?
My life isn’t constantly in danger anymore, so what does it benefit me to know that the smile i see on your face hides a seething hatred of me?

What good does it do either of us for me to notice the subtle, secret body language between you and someone i know damn well isn’t your spouse?

There’s a reason you’re playing your cards close to your chest, and it’s none of my business, or you would have told me.

There’s a reason you’re clearly lying and it’s none of my business, or you wouldn’t be lying to me.

And what about the times i’ve been wrong? People have been wrong about me, and i’ve been wrong about people. Not just a few times, either.

What good did it do me to know what you were really thinking or what you’re up to or who you really are behind closed doors?

Not much good at all. That smug feeling of superiority or having one over on you didn’t feel very good once i stopped caring so damn much about what YOU think of ME. In fact, it makes me feel like a shithead – and i think it SHOULD.

So i don’t do it anymore, and my life is a lot less stressful. It turns out some of the drama in my life was created by lil ole me. Heh. I’ve already got enough things to deal with, without creating any extra trouble.

I ask myself one question, though:

Could it hurt me to take them at their word and be wrong?

For instance, if a mechanic promises me he’s been working on my brakes all day and they’re perfect, but i get the distinct impression he’s lying due to his shifty eyes and the smell of whiskey – i’m going to address the potential lie because i have to drive home in that vehicle he was supposedly working on. I could get pretty hurt all right.

And hey, if you’ve got bruises again, and you tell me you ran into a door AGAIN, i may question you about that – because you’re my friend and if you’re in trouble and i don’t ask or offer help, that would hurt, too.

Other than that – i take you at face value.
You tell me what you want me to know about you.
I will believe what you tell me, unless i have an important reason not to. Still i won’t jump to conclusions without asking you.
You get to keep your private business private.
Like if i irritate the fuck out of you.
Or if you smile and make small talk to my face, and gossip about me when i’m not around.
I’m not close with very many people, so chances are you don’t owe me any personal stuff at all.
If i am close with you, i was never super nosy, but i’m even less so now. I want to know whatever you want to tell me, and that’s all.

I won’t take it personally if you keep something private and i find out later.

You tell me who you are, how you’re feeling, and what you’re thinking. I won’t be trying to second guess you. Even if i get the strong feeling that you’re lying to me, i’m gonna let it go.

I’ve been doing it for quite a while now, and it feels good and right.

Less drama, more peace. I like you better now, and hopefully it’ll be reciprocated.

If not – that’s your business, not mine.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Wednesday’s Child Needs Her Some Saturday

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
~ Mother Goose

 

Since Wednesday, i’ve been nearly overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment. It happens whenever i become highly dissociative. It’s a loss of control. It’s involuntary vulnerability. It’s utter failure. I want to hermit in my Little Crooked House for good. I’m dreading seeing my family again.

This is not healthy, nor is it functional. This bit of family is extremely important to me. To not see them again would be immeasurably worse. Therefore, i must find a way through this bit of woe. I am certain that i will dissociate again. I’m actively working on ways to minimise the damage that can be caused when that happens, and the aftermath of Wednesday seems so far to be evidence that i’m having some success. What needs some more work are my thoughts and feelings following those times.

So to that end, i shall list the reasons i feel guilt, shame and embarrassment:

  • loss of control;
  • being seen while out of control;
  • doing things that are uncharacteristic;
  • doing things that reflect poorly upon my character;
  • damaging relationships/property;
  • reliance on others for information.

 

There’s probably more, but those are what’s coming to mind. (I can’t think on one thing for too long or i risk getting stuck in it and losing focus and discernment.)

 

I was very depressed upon waking this morning. The weight of it all was so heavy. I was tired and lethargic and my dreams had drained me of most of my reserve energy. I got up to pee and went back to bed. Sometimes i hide in my dreams -even the vexing ones- because at least it’s not here and now. The thing is though, i seem to’ve come too far along in my personal growth to do that for very long. Oh yay. So i’m laying there filled with anxiety because i know i can’t do this forever and i know it doesn’t help and i know i’ve gotta face the feelings and face my family and i know. I just know, now. I know every time i’m not the person i want to be, every time i do something i’d have preferred not to do, is now a proving ground. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow and be/do better next time. (The previous sentence was brought to you by: Gobs of Sarcasm. Are you running low on witty contempt? Well we’ve got GOBS!)

So yeah, i got up. I already knew i needed to write about it, and i had a pretty good idea what i was dealing with that needed some reexamination by way of reminder, coupled with a good, hard tweak.

I cannot control what other people think or feel about me. And not only do i really hate that, but it scares the shit outta me.

 

I spent the majority of my life knowing something was different/wrong/broken about me, but not exactly what it was. I worked very hard and for a long time, to try and figure it out. Once i did, i wanted to go back to every person that had ever disliked or just misunderstood me and explain why they were wrong to do so. Heh. I set about putting people right and fixing my life. And it worked really well. (GOBS!)

 

Okay, what really happened was, people thought i was weirder than they did before. They overwhelmingly did not care and continued to dislike me, and more often than not – they didn’t believe me. I spent a few years skipping around singing, “Neener  neener, you were wrong because i was sick and it wasn’t my fault!” /tralala

I didn’t even give most of them any details. I just told them that my childhood had made my brain sick and that was sometimes why i acted the way i did and sometimes did weird/crappy stuff. And i was generally just rejected all over again. This particular, very important member of my family was one of them.

So there, that’s why i’m in this awful place. I lost control in front of someone who matters a great deal to me. A person who rejected both me and my diagnoses at one time, and although they now no longer reject me, that other subject hasn’t come up yet. I wanted to make it a non-issue by keeping it out of our interactions, but i wasn’t able to on Wednesday. They assure me that everything’s fine, but i feel very not-fine. What do i do?

 

This is why i dragged my ass outta bed – because i know exactly what to do.

I haven’t done all this work for all these years for nothing.

 

When i didn’t get the results that i’d expected from telling people i had REASONS, i wondered why not. I pondered for a long time, and as i continued to work on myself, gathering information, doing the work my therapist told me to, learning about who i am and what i want and what i think… I figured out why, or at least i came to a way of looking at it that gave me peace and allowed me to accept reality and let it be:

  • what people think about me is none of my business;
  • i can’t control what people say about me when i’m not around;
  • i can’t convince anyone of anything without their cooperation;
  • being disliked won’t kill me (it hasn’t so far);
  • being misunderstood won’t kill me (see above);
  • the truth is the truth, regardless of whether or not it’s believed;
  • belief is subjective;
  • i don’t owe anyone an explanation, unless i’ve done harm;
  • it’s not always about me;
  • awareness and respect of my personal boundaries is paramount to healthy interactions with others.

 

I don’t know if my family member believes me. I don’t know if they understand me. What i do know is that, based on results, they accept me and want me in their life. And i veryveryvery much want that, too. I must let it go and be what it is. They’re allowed to think and feel what they will, and it’s only my business inasmuch as they care to share. There may be fallout in the relationship as a result of what happened, and if i want to maintain this relationship, i must handle it within the parameters as they’ve been defined.

This guilt, shame, and embarrassment, while valid, are secondary to what is really going on – and that is fear of rejection. The absolute core issue of my life. I must keep this in mind, and recognise that it has a hair trigger. The intensity of my reaction is in alignment with this, but out of proportion to the event. I will check myself accordingly, and i will draw peace and calm from knowing this. I will acquire confidence, respect, and esteem for myself from figuring this out. I’ll be stronger and more functional next time.

I’m looking forward to being bonny and blithe tomorrow.

 

*** Life as me: It’s as simple as that. ***

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

 

 

Reanimator

As i work towards being healthier and more functional, one of the most important things i can do, i think, is ask a lot of questions. Of myself. Hard ones.

It’s a bit tricky, because navel-gazing isn’t a good place for me. I can get obsessed, or mired in circular thinking rather easily. I need to ask the hard questions, but answer them relatively quickly, without dwelling on them. It’s not as difficult as i’d worried it might be. I’ve given most of these questions significant thought before, but either stuffed them away in some nook of my brain because i couldn’t deal with it, or just simply been unable/unwilling to implement whatever conclusions i’d come to. Simply put, most of the answers are in there, and fairly accessible just by asking the questions.

By asking and answering some of those harder ones, i’ve been able to set my feet upon a path, and plod in a generally forward direction. I know there are things about my brain that work differently than most people, and for the purposes of being more relatable i refer to them as mental illnesses. I’ve asked why i am this way and come to some kind of conclusion that, at least for now, satisfies me to the point where i can accept it and move on. I’ve asked myself what i’d like to change about myself and my life, and acknowledged what i need to do to get there. The questions don’t stop there, but the biggest, most serious ones regarding what made me this way are mostly behind me (probably). Hopefully. Maybe? Okay, we’ll go with “for now”.

 

As someone who’s spent a significant part of my life in deep contemplation, i suppose i’ve developed a sort of slapdash personal philosophy, at least with respect to the broader definition of my own existence. I see my life as a tightrope walk. Or a balance beam. Or standing in the centre of a teeter totter, with one foot on either side. Yeah, i think i’m that sort of person. I’m looking for balance. Not so much for stasis, because boring, but i’m on a swing and if it goes too high i fall off and if i don’t pump my legs i’ll eventually stop, and either of those is death. That extends to my worldview, but only in the broadest and most non-theistic sense. I see that there are a chain of events set off by every action we take, whether conscious or unconscious, and that which happens as a result are natural consequences. I do what i do, and life responds in return, and while i see life around me as somewhat random and coincidental, i see evidence every day that convinces me that my choices play an important part in who i am and how i live, thus persuading me of the benefit of living a more conscious life. I am compelled to continue.

Yes, Life happens. Every day, all day. With me and without me. But insofar as i am conscious and aware, i have autonomy in how i respond to it. As someone born into a mental cage inside an emotional prison – this is sweet freedom. I’m deeply comforted by the unconsciousness of Life’s non-response to my presence, which is a balm to the constant and strident histrionics of humans responding both to me and around me. And while i love humans very much, i’m loathe to be associated with most of them.

Each time depression cycles back around it’s like dying. Things slow and darken and everything is tiring and painful. People exacerbate the condition, making me want to skip to the inevitable conclusion and save myself the suffering. So i withdraw to a place where the feelings are more manageable. My Fortress of (relative) Solitude.

It’s difficult with this particular brain and heart to be amongst you for very long and remain conscious, intentional, and contribute positively to those around me. I know it will change as i move forward – i see continued improvement with every small foray i make into the big, bad world. I have much evidence to hope that one day it might be mostly natural, and even fluid. For now though, i’m fortunately able to live in my Little Crooked House with my moat of trees and grass and wagon wheels, and my dragon-dogs and fire breathing husband and son.

I ask questions, form hypotheses, and then go out and test them, gathering evidence to bring back to my lab, where i study the data and then do it all again. I’m working on a theory, but that paper is a long way from being written, and peer review still scares the  shit outta me.

 

I just combined the 2 prior images and came up with Princess Frankenstein. I like it.

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

 

The Mystical Power of the Ninja Mouth – PT. III

 

Definition of Ninja from the Urban Dictionary

The best thing about wilfully, purposely hermitting in my Little Crooked House has been the effect it’s had on my brain and my stress level. Slowly and steadily, the constant thrum of activity in there has slowed down. There’s not so much chatter. There have occasionally been moments that might qualify as silence. As i’ve tuned out local people and concerns i’ve been able to relax and slow down. I sleep better and my level of chronic pain has also decreased. I can focus on simple, daily tasks and keep to a reasonable schedule. I’m more engaged with my husband and my children, and connecting with them feels more natural and less forced. I’m less inclined to watch television and more apt to just listen to music. I feel safe. I feel better in my body and in my brain. I like how i look more than i have in years, and i move about inside my own skin more fluidly. I feel as if i’m the one sailing this ship.

It’s been a good opportunity to examine my thoughts and behaviours to assess how well they are or aren’t working for me. I judge them based on what i know about myself so far, what i want my life to be, and whether or not what i’m thinking and doing is helping me get there, based on results. It usually starts with noticing something in my life that is causing unhappiness or other negative fallout. For instance, going to large social gatherings. I wasn’t handling those situations very well, and through examining why, realised that both what i thought and how i acted needed extensive work. So that whole thing requires an overhaul and is currently in the shop.

My advanced ninja skills started with stepping away from people. If i couldn’t communicate the way i wanted to, then i wasn’t going to communicate at all. Just stop. Go back to the beginning and start fresh. Gather more information, relearn or unlearn or whatever works. I’ve known for some time now that i’m not the super-extrovert that i’d thought/been told i was. I wasn’t just alone a lot when i was growing up in order to escape, i was alone a lot because i liked being alone. And i still do, very much. I crave it, i seek it, and i’m certain that i need it, almost as much as food, water, breath, and sleep. I’m not sure where i fall on the spectrum now, but i’m far more introverted than i knew. I’ve learned something else about myself through spending more time alone, and that is i enjoy being quiet. Not saying anything at all. I feel calm and relaxed when i’m alone and not talking. It’s when my brain is quietest, too.

I decided to try taking a break from talking through my problems. I don’t currently have a “person” outside of my husband to process things with, so it’s been just him. I have my doctor and my therapist if i need them, but i just stopped using my husband as an outlet. Let me explain my reasoning behind this decision, because on the surface it may not sound like a great idea.

Once i decided to disclose my history, the floodgates were opened and i’ve talked non-stop for years now. I started out talking about everything that happened, and then i moved on to how i felt about what had happened. After that i had to talk about everything. I mean, i couldn’t let anything go. I needed to address everything that triggered memories of my past. If i was angry, i had to talk about it. If i was scared, i had to talk about it. I had to let all the voices in my head out.

For years i talked so much that it was maybe a bit like emesis vocalis. While purging years of pent up emotions and traumatic events, i think that somewhere along the way i became a bit of a nag. It started out with the big important stuff, but it had degraded to pointless bitching about all the things all the time. And i think it brought me down and coloured my outlook and dampened my mood. It never took much to bring that slowly simmering frustration to a full boil. And i pulled him down with me, to the point where any legitimate issues i may have had with him or the marriage, were lost in a roiling grey sea of riotous scribblings that covered every wall of our married life together. I’d worn him out as i’d done myself.

So i started letting go of small things. Little irritations that i knew didn’t matter, i just clamped my mouth shut and ordered myself not to speak about it. It led me to letting go of other things that i’d believed so much more important than they actually were. He was less stressed, not as grumpy and tired, and he appeared to be paying more attention to me. And when there was an issue between us that seriously required our attention as a couple, he heard me and we’ve been dealing with them as a team. I like myself better, and he does, too. He’s said so.

I wondered to myself if anything else in my life might be improved by talking less, and the answer is YES. In the same way that i needed to break out of the prison my childhood had built around me by being heard about how it hurt me, i needed to figure out who i was as a free human by talking about life, the universe, and everything. I needed to figure out what i thought about things rather than what i was told to think about things, and that involved having opinions. And i had opinions. Lots of them. I had opinions all over the place and everyone knew about them. I stressed and agonised and obsessed over every single one of them. When someone i liked had a different opinion than i did, it was terrifying and the result was more talking. Having a different opinion than someone i liked and/or respected and wanted them to like and/or respect me in return, triggered many reflex behaviours around safety and self-preservation.

I tried to handle differences of opinion in a variety of ways. I would sometimes act very gracious about it, but it was utterly disingenuous and i knew it before the words came out of my face. Other times i would counter them with what i imagined was a stunningly intellectual argument. In that instance in particular i know i alienated people and perhaps even belittled them, for which i’m now ashamed. And then there was the time i tried being a troll for a minute. I used to watch trolls with a glittering eye, wanting desperately to be like them. I know, i know – they’re assholes. I sort of knew that even back then, but i was attracted to their bravado, and that they appeared to give absolutely zero fucks what other people thought about them. I failed at trolling miserably though, because i’m not actually an asshole, and if that’s what it costs to be one, i’ll just stay off the porch and let the big dogs bark.

Here again, i just stopped talking. I have social media, and people i interact with there certainly know how i feel about a wide range of issues, but i see that as me. Like, if the internet was a gathering of actual people, my page is me. I want to be me in a group of people. What i don’t want is to plaster myself all over your page, as if to make you more like me. You’re not me. You’ve been born to the mother you were born to, and raised the way you were raised. You’ve made the choices you’ve made and you’re who you are. If i want acknowledgement -and even respect- for that myself, mustn’t i also give that to you?

Well absolutely i must.

So i do, and once again it has led me to more silence. Not a barely-restrained silence, pregnant with words left unspoken. It’s an easy quiet like a mid-spring morning; full of promise, but for what, no one’s certain. And no one cares, because it’s good and it’s simple and you can just BE in it.

I’m a retired Ninja now. I don’t spy on people, i don’t gather information on them, i don’t need to distract anyone from what’s really going on, and i refuse to be involved in the assasination of another human, in any way. I no longer hide within your ranks, i don’t work for anyone, nor am i for hire. The war ended a long time ago, and i’ve accepted that and now devote myself, as is the way of many former Ninjas, to tending my own garden and fixing broken pottery using gold.

END PIECE

Thoughts That I Have That Are Mine and Are Not Yours Because They Are Mine – PT. III

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

I don’t believe in the concept of forgiveness. Or at least, i don’t believe it’s necessary. Not for happiness, not for freedom, and not for personal evolution.

I’ve been raised to believe forgiveness is important, and right, and good, and necessary, if i’m going to be the sort of human i want to be. Everything i’ve read or heard about being the best person possible includes forgiveness as one of the best and most necessary qualities to possess.

I don’t buy it. Not for me.
For one thing, i’m not religious. I’m not bound to a set of beliefs that requires this of me. And for another, forgiveness would be detrimental to my growth as a person. It would compromise the person i’m trying to be.

From Google:
for·give
fərˈɡiv/
verb

  • stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
    “I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her”
    synonyms: pardon, excuse, exonerate, absolve;
  • stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake).
    “they are not going to pat my head and say all is forgiven”
  • cancel (a debt).
    “he proposed that their debts should be forgiven”

I grew up as the receptacle for many adults unwanted feelings. I was the punching bag and the living doll. Got something sticking to you that you want off? Stick it on me. I absorbed it all – including the blame. So now, part of my healing is no longer accepting responsibility for other people’s actions. I can’t be a fully functioning and healthy participant in life and living if i’m carrying the weight of other people’s bad acts.

Why should i stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone who harmed me? I mean, i’m not feeling that way all the time, and not even every time i think about the person who harmed me. But sometimes i do think of what they did, and feel angry and resentful. And it’s not damaging to me, rather, it’s empowering. I acknowledge what they did to me and that it was NOT okay. It was bad and it was wrong, and it’s natural and right for me to be pissed off about it.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m actually one of the most forgiving people i know. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t seethe, nor am i vengeful. If you’ve done me wrong, i’m not plotting. I let go of most things. The things that i don’t forgive are not trivial, and they’re not mild; they are heinous. That i even lived through these things is fantastic. And although my brain did get sick and twisty because of it, i’m not a bad person. I’m a good person who has done bad things, and has made amends wherever possible. Where it hasn’t been possible or safe, i live my amends and leave my door open to the possibility of something more tangible. It’s who i am, and if it happens organically, i let it happen.

Even the truly terrible things i might forgive. I don’t know for sure, because i haven’t been asked. If any of those people were to approach me and take full responsibility for what they’d done, and then asked for my forgiveness – i would probably forgive them. But some of them are gone, and some of them are just awful creatures who aren’t going to change. And i don’t forgive them. It would be wrong for me to do so. It would be a betrayal of myself, on the deepest, most personal, basic, and vulnerable level.

Besides, i’ve moved on. I’m not anchored to pain and dysfunction because i won’t let go of the evil done to me. Neither am i moved to commit wicked acts of my own. No. I’m under no faith-based obligation, and no one’s asked, so it is not given. And it will not be fucking offered, either. They don’t deserve it, and it’s appropriate for me to feel profoundly indignant about every monstrous act committed against me.

I don’t think emotions are positive or negative. They just are. My anger over what was done to me, and my resentment towards those who did it, has in fact allowed me to reattach to my own psyche, and to disentangle myself from most of my dissociative behaviors. I’ve connected to myself and become my own champion.

Because of the healing power of anger and hatred, i am my own hero.

Fuck Gandhi.

~H~

Somebody’s Knockin’

“Somebody’s knockin’
Should I let him in
Lord it’s the devil
Would you look at him
I’ve heard about him
But I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans”
~Terri Gibbs

Yesterday as i was handling my business so well and feeling so normal and accomplished, my old party buddy Mania began to stir. She’s been sleeping off her last bender, but it appears she’s feeling better.

So yeah. And YAY. /s

I try not to anticipate some things, because the power of my brain can sometimes make things happen that probably wouldn’t have otherwise. You know, like, if you’re certain you’re gonna have a shitty day, you’ll find a way to make it suck – no matter what. It’s not just a matter of perception; it’s also intention. It can be that way with my old friend Mania. If i talk about her enough, she’ll see it as an invitation to come hang out.

I do need to talk about it a little, but just by way of acknowledgement. It’ll help me with awareness of the potential for crazy to come knockin’. *

I’ve been actively dealing with and working on my bipolar disorder since around 2006, and i’ve learned a few things. One of them is being able to see a mania on my horizon. I’ll try to communicate this stuff as best i can, but it’s guaranteed to fall short.

I’ve been noticing my body’s response to this early, warm spring, for instance. It’s an animalistic response. Like, i wanna roll around in the green grass and stick my face right in the trees and flowers and consume the smell. I’d eat it if i could. Being outside is incredibly invigorating. And my sex drive, which had been in a sleepy, winter lull, is fully energised in a way that is similarly carnal. More of a bodily imperative though, than an epicurean pursuit. Spring fever – i haz it. My appetite has increased, but i’m not enjoying the taste of food as much. I just want to eateateateateat.

I’m also registering changes in my thinking. In a word, it’s turning rather grandiose. I’m getting philosophical – not so much the laid back attitude, but rather thinking about the fundamental nature of things. Deep thoughts in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing. I guess it’s my internal response to what i’m thinking that’s the red flag. I’m very impressed with myself, you see. As i’m thinking these profound thoughts, i’m not only excited by them, but i’m awed by them, and by myself, particularly. It’s not so much pedantic as it is enthusiastic, but…

You see? It happened right up there. In that very paragraph. I’ve always loved words, and have amassed a fair vocabulary. As i was writing that paragraph i got swept away with choosing the best words for what i wanted to say, and so may have lost you whilst i gazed adoringly at my way with words.

Heh.

Simply put: i can see my thinking turning towards the belief that i’m 10′ tall and bulletproof. Without the benefit of drugs. Just this magical, orchestral way of thinking that fills me with anticipation of the magnificent and the expectation of something epic. And it will be me and it will be because of me. That’s as far as i dare go to explain it to you, as my writing has just confirmed to me very well. Mania is awake, and she wants to know if i can come outside and play.

My current plan is to ignore the knocking and continue with my daily routine. It’ll bring some much needed serenity whilst i come up with a plan.

~H~

*NOTE: Yes, i use the word “crazy”. If you find that word troubling, then i do apologise, insofar as it is not my intention to offend, or otherwise vex you. If the response to my use of the word becomes visceral, i may write about it more, but for now i’ll sum it up rather simply. I would compare it to the woman who refers to herself using the word “bitch”, or the gay man who calls himself that word that’s slang for cigarette in the UK, or a POC who refers to themselves using whatever term we generally consider to be an epithet when coming out of anyone’s mouth who’s not of that particular ethnicity.

The word “crazy” holds no negative connotation for me. It serves me in a number of ways:

  • It is a familiar, often casually used word, that has a humourous, almost cartoonish connotation;
  • It acknowledges the truth of my mental condition in a way that lets un-crazy people know that i know it, i’m cool with it, and i’m approachable about it;
  • It reminds me not to make it such a huge deal all the time. It is what it is, and all that remains for me is how i want to handle it.

While it has historically been a pejorative term, it has evolved to become a part of our daily lexicon with its meaning coming more from context than its intended definition in its strictest sense. I like the word and i feel better about my mental illness when i use the word. ‘Yeah baby, i’m crazy. Ain’t nothin’ but a thang.”