Monday, June 25, 2012

Here For You

As readers may have noticed, I've been a little relaxed in my posting habits- inspiration seems to come in waves. I have every intention of posting as often as I can to do the most good for all of you readers and visitors to the site as you journey down your individual paths of self awareness, however I refuse to post if my content isn't inspired or fully actualized in a way that allows me to completely express the thought in words that can be easily followed or understood. There are many things I've learned recently, many steps I've completed, revelations I've experienced that I hope to soon share, but for some of these ideas and revelations the experiences and pieces of thoughts haven't completely gelled to form a concise and understandable theory or processes. The bottom line is I need to sometimes allow for gestation of thought processes and the complete understanding of them to properly convey them to all of you. In the meantime I will try to post content from my past to show the strength and resiliency we all possess and the amazing transformational power we all have access to. So when you notice I haven't been as talkative as usual on this blog, know that I'm still here and still serving, and understand that great realizations and understandings are underway!

All My Children- Living in loving acceptance of all your deepest, darkest emotions

I've been reading up recently on the body-mind connection and it's involvement with emotions and their manifestation differences in mind vs. in body. As someone who has PTSD, a past of eating disorders, and a survivor of rape, total disconnection from my body has been a normal part of my life. I've always pushed my body to its limits, ignored or lashed out at physical reactions, mutilated or physically assaulted parts of my body that hurt or complained, and numbed my physical self from reactions. Pain and self immolation or destruction have been a way of control for me in the past, so when I embarked on a journey of connection and understanding with my body, I had no idea where to start, how to proceed, or what to expect.

The idea had never even occurred to me; that I might be completely disconnected from my body, until I began a two month long course and support group on grief and learning to live wholeheartedly through grief and loss. About halfway through the course, one of the modules was on the body. If I was paying attention to my inner attitudes and thoughts more effectively at the time, I would have noticed it sooner, but although I always studied every module before our class began, in this particular module I was unable to connect to or fulfill the assignment requirements regardless of the fact that I tried very hard to do so. I ended the assignment the night before class with generic, general answers that were more thoughts than feelings in the body- any actual feelings of pain from my body were portrayed in my assignment as angry thoughts against my Judas body- and I almost didn't attend class the next day because I blew the whole module off as insignificant and inconsequential. The next day I attended however, groggy, distracted, and not completely present. This module was dumb in my mind and meant nothing, but perhaps I could get something else out of it.

We began the class with a meditation, and as I did like meditation I distractedly  participated, opening my eyes and moving here and there to keep taking notes so I could try this meditation on my own later. We scanned our bodies for our worst pain and were told to focus on this pain, to try and see ourselves as a whole from above and zero in on that part of ourselves, to come down and sit with the pain. This was incredibly simple to hone in on as my lower back had been killing me the past few months. It was so stiff and sore I couldn't bend properly anymore, and simple acts of moving, stooping, twisting or bending concerned me as I was convinced it might snap in two at any moment. I had been half joking that I was becoming an old woman in the prime of my life, and I had been quietly worrying about my apparent aging. During the meditation I could feel a tingling or electric current throughout my longer limbs such as my arms or legs, but everywhere else felt dead. I had a numbness in my feet, stiffness and pain in my neck, shoulders, and upper arms, upper back, shins, eyes, and head area by my eyes, forehead, hands and forearms. It was difficult for me to maintain my breath ratio in the meditation, and although I was unaware why at the time, I think it was because of the deeply embedded emotions coming back up from the depths of my body. We were asked to sit with our one specific area of pain- the one area that needed the most work- to try to embrace it, to tell it we are here and are listening, trying to understand it, and to ask it what it needs.

In that time during the meditation, I realized that with my PTSD I had been hyper-focused on the negative, that I had cut myself off from my body and it's wealth of support and information and monitoring. In cutting my body off from my life force energy and spirit I allowed pain, fear, burnout, and illness to enter my body and manifest itself in various destructive ways. My body was manifesting physical fear and trauma as sickness and physical pain or degeneration. As my body had always been there to support and protect me, I had withdrawn my spiritual support from my body and cut off the connection, isolating my fight into the realms of the mind (where I thought I may be able to defeat my enemy) while controlling and forcing my body to slowly die away with no allies to help it. My body had become another enemy in the realms of my mind. While floating above my body during the meditation, I watched my body and allowed it to feel the sadness and depression and aging I had inflicted upon it during the years of separation but had refused to feel or acknowledge in return. I was completely disconnected at this point, looking down upon myself as if a stranger, as if I was dead looking down at my unrecognizable,  lifeless, tired, worn body, observing the final culmination of my actions and reactions throughout my life against my body that had always been there for me, and had tried its best to support my spirit within the constraints I had allowed it to exist. I floated down in my mind state to hover directly over my body and gently touch my face in a final gesture of thankfulness. I returned my focus on the area that needed the most work, my lower back, and as instructed, asked it what it needed. I asked it what I need to know from it, asked it what it needed from me in return for shouldering my burden- I asked it "Blessed body, what do you need?".

It took about 5 minutes or more of me continuing my plea in progressively more sincere tones and truly changing my mentality to one of openness and curiosity before it answered directly, quietly, and kindly- "Empathy and love, tolerance and understanding; Empathy.". The truth welled up inside of me and expressed itself as tears- in my mind's eye, appropriately enough, for no reason. I had been unfair to my body. I had never given my body the opportunity to grieve its loss. I had directed my anger toward my body and had punished it for my pain. I had numbed my body in the past to complete the separation and had used pain as a way to feel that my body was there, that I was connected to this world in some way. I had in the past beat my body up and abused it or mutilated it. I always forced it to do what I or others wanted- as a method of personal connection or control, in jobs, or with the military. I had always served others in some way, never thinking or caring of the effects on myself- often to the detriment of my body. I had separated myself from my body, severed the connection. I didn't think I needed my body, but my body had been there for me the whole time- it had been there to support me, not as a Judas, but as a friend.

Upon this realization my body became light and joyous. The pain and stiffness subsided and gave way to lightness and tingling or a feeling of an electric current, as though my body could finally, joyously reconnect with the vital spiritual energy it needed and gain the connection of a much needed ally. Upon this realization of the extent of disconnect from my body and what that disconnection was doing to me as a whole, I set off on a journey to reconnect to and understand my body. What did my body need in this moment? What could I do to produce empathy and become friends again with my body? I realized I love my back because it's MY back. I adore my back- my back is here for me. My back loves me in return. It shoulders my burdens for me and wants me to be ok. It will always be here for me and try to help me until my body dies. This was a revolutionary discovery for me. Instead of fighting my body (it can't focus anymore, it hurts, it's falling apart, my mind isn't working, I can't sleep, etc) I chose to ally with it. I chose to trust it, allow it to be, allow it to feel, chose to partner with it, and reached one of my best mantras for living in the present- If it's happening, be for it. Allow yourself to be and exist however you do in this particular moment. Nothing about your story in your head matters, only the present moment in and of itself is real, and your emotions are feelings located in your body so you can live an effective life in synergy with your greatest ally. Do what your body needs and allow yourself to play. The play will create its own purpose so long as you listen intuitively to what you need and allow fun and creativity to happen. Your body knows what it truly needs better than your mind thinks it does.

Although I've worked in this way with my emotions in body since then, and I've been able to transcend my emotions recently in arguments to keep my cool and stay on point in discussion rather than engage in self centered emotional arguments, it has been harder for me to stay in an emotion and locate the root in my body. Although I had been trying to notice roots of emotions in my body, I hadn't been able to specifically pinpoint their location successfully. Perhaps I wasn't feeling my emotions to their fullest in my mind to begin to locate them effectively in my body. Perhaps when I felt some of my emotion I allowed myself to become mentally lost to it, sticking to the more ingrained habit of disconnection. In any case, that all changed one day while driving to work as I became suddenly enveloped in the emotion of the present moment, specifically anger and irritation (often referred to as road rage- but on a milder level). I felt sudden, intense anger rise up as I uttered choice words in the direction of the other driver. As I felt the anger flash in front of me, I simultaneously felt a hardening, a weight, in the pit of my stomach. Instantly I noticed it as I had made a habit by this time to try and look for origins of my emotions in my body. As I was driving I chose to stay with the feeling and sensation in my body, and a funny thing happened. I could feel my mind shift to other thoughts and various hues of a myriad of other emotions, but if I chose to notice and stay with it, the pit was still present in my stomach. I was mentally able to overcome my anger quickly, singing my favorite songs while looking out at the beautiful scenery in happiness or awe while driving, but I could feel that I had just piled more anger atop years of buried anger in the pit of my stomach. I could feel it because I chose to keep checking into the sensation in my stomach,  consciously staying with it and was able to feel years of anger as a weight in the pit of my stomach. It wasn't a feeling anymore- it was a physical sensation, a tangible result of years of not feeling or refusing to understand my anger to its fullest extent. As I sat with the physical feeling, allowing my mind to go about daily activities (my mind was fully over the emotion by now), I approached the pit in my stomach as one would approach a crying child. I told it I was here, I was listening, and I would feel and support it. I asked it what it needed, and instantaneously it responded in a shout "Love!". I embraced it, told it that I loved and appreciated it, that I wanted to understand it, that it was needed and that I would take as long as necessary to listen to it and stay with it. And then something absolutely unexpected happened. It almost completely dissipated- instantly. I kept checking back in and noticed that it would creep back after a little bit, I would validate my love for it and my acceptance of it, ask if it needed anything else, and it would disappear again. It was beginning to trust me.

As with any journey I'm on a course, reaching points closer and closer to my desired destination. No results come overnight, and as I progress and practice I become better at understanding myself and my emotional "children" within me. My child of anger still exists in the pit of my stomach, but I have been in the process of understanding it and befriending it so it can become a mentor and a personal council on where I'm at and how I'm doing in my life rather than an enemy, a blemish of the soul, or something to be ashamed of. Every day I work closer and closer to wholehearted living, embracing the me in the present- the person I currently am in the now- as good enough, and as a team; my body, mind, friendly emotions, and soul can create the future and the present moment of my dreams.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Live open, Live free- To be mindful of the mind

For those living with PTSD and other battles of the mind, past memories, emotions and thoughts all become a means of torture in the prison of the mind. It is impossible to see the mass of tangled up strings within let alone distinguish how to begin to untangle, separate, and release them all. Many lines trace back to points farther than direct sight and surface memories allow and some connect various fragments and pieces of the past that may stretch back into time forgotten. It can be hard to find the end that will begin the separation versus the strings that will just make the knot tighter and more tangled. Past conditioning forms hard beliefs and beliefs form thought processes. Thoughts dictate our options and opportunities available and what paths we take. Often in our unenlightenend rut of living and getting by, we find ourselves forced into a massive dead end, and with mental wars like PTSD the outcome can be overwhelming and completely alienating. It takes time, effort and a new approach to rise above and see the expansive world awaiting you. Although these are specifically ways to control and regulate PTSD, they are beneficial for anyone searching for a more efficient path and a more self-empathetic life.

The unstoppable, incessant, hostile takeover of your mind by shrieking noises, thoughts, and images is brutal, and near impossible to deal with. All you want is for it all to end, to just go away, but you're no longer there. Those emotions you've refused to allow, the truths you've refused to accept, everything from the past you've buried have demanded to be heard- they refuse to be silent any longer- they have bubbled over. Only a sliver of a remnant is left of the conscious self, and it takes all your energy, all your effort to contain the enemy so you can retain your cognizance. You need a weapon that is sharp and true to cut through the heavy ether.  Every time those uncontrollable voices, sounds, recordings of the past, videos, newsreels, thoughts, start to take over your existence, use the mantras to regain control. Mantras are a way to regain the control that is rightfully yours, to strong-arm the oppressor, to rally the defense and fight the resistance. They allow you to override the defenses of your mind and specifically redesign your thoughts and reactions based on your desired outcome. Use mantras to form specific beliefs that can be a rallying cry in times of stress and confusion and refocus your mind to the desired path. These mantras are based in fact and are true- you can back them up by hard evidence. They are based on how you rightfully view yourself. For most people the mantra "I will not allow myself to be a victim- I am strong" will work. There is definitive evidence in your past that you were strong. Perhaps you went through military training, martial arts training, sports training, perhaps you've trained your mind through public speaking or performance, or creative or studious pursuits, perhaps you've always been the one others can confide in, trust and depend on, but at the very least you've been living through this- and that makes you strong! Many people wouldn't be able to deal with the trauma you've faced (just observe someone's repetitive petty complaints in online forums and social networking sites). You refuse to allow this to control you because you have DEFINITIVE PROOF that you are strong. Another good mantra starter is that you are smart or empathetic or wise. Listen to your inner voice, your inner place of quiet (yes it can be very hard to find when you have PTSD- it just takes more focus, effort and patience). Look through the pain, fear, and insanity in your mind to deep within where resides your inner core that is immovable. Hear your personal truths and realize what specifically you don't want, but figure out what specifically you wish to be in that space that you don't want, and what truths will get you to where you need to be. Listen to your inner voice for the right mantra, put it together, and use it OFTEN! Perhaps you wish to be stronger when the noise in your head threatens to overtake you- you don't want to be overtaken, instead you wish to be stronger. Finding evidence and facts that you are strong to base the mantra on, you say "I will not allow myself to be a victim- I am strong". Be sure your mantra is based on personal truth so it will resonate with your immovable core. If it doesn't quite fit, tweak the wording until it does. Mine came to me by my inner voice very suddenly while driving. You can think all the thoughts, feel all the emotions, but you don't have to allow the insanity inside your mind associated with these thoughts, playbacks, and emotions. They don't have to control and take over your mind. You are strong, smart, witty, cunning, whatever you definitively are. And you are not alone.

Listening and monitoring your thoughts-
Eventually you will come to realize that these demons, are actually not the enemies you once thought them to be, rather they are kindly friends, entities you yourself have created to serve you and you trapped within yourself because they simply weren't understood. If given the opportunity they can be wonderful teachers and monitors of your inner state, all it takes is a little work, some trust, and willingness to allow and understand. Without judgement, always pay attention to your thoughts and running commentary in the mind. What are you telling yourself? What are you saying? Don't judge, just pay attention with the intense curiosity of a five year old. Allow these thoughts and feelings to run their course. Give them permission to exist to the fullest extent and duration they require, while you remove yourself from their tirades and separate yourself from any expected or preconceived outcomes. Let go, step back and observe (you can choose to do this at first in a place you feel safe, like home, but the ultimate goal is to do this at all times). Notice any patterns. Question these noticeable patterns with the open ended curiosity of a five year old. Without judgement, just interest and curiosity. Perhaps you notice that you don't trust yourself. Perhaps you notice that you don't trust others. Perhaps you notice fears that are rather irrational for their time or place or perhaps you recognize phobias. Perhaps you will begin to notice a connection throughout past events. Perhaps you will feel things that you haven't felt in years, or ever! Just notice with a chuckle- how interesting! You are a very deep, strange, interesting person. Keep noticing. Notice eventually if you still believe these in their fullest capacity, or do these thoughts begin to soften? Are all people untrustworthy, or can you trust some people? Who? (perhaps close family or friends or your counselor or your group). Do you trust some people with certain things and other people with other things? Are you always untrustworthy, or can you be trusted to do certain things? What? (perhaps taking a walk, going to work, making dinner, giving attention and affection to an animal, etc). Keep noticing, determine whether these thoughts actually serve you. They are your thoughts- you can think anything you like at any time! And there are usually facts that support whatever you wish to believe- the facts you choose to focus on are the ones that stand out and form the basis of your beliefs. Notice how the feelings, though intense (it's been a while since you've allowed them room to express themselves after all), ebb and flow like waves in the ocean. They run deep now as they've had so much time to accumulate, but notice how you can relax into them, how you can give them permission to exist because after all they are your creation as a response to your external surroundings, and they have a right to exist as they were a warranted reaction. Notice how you can observe these emotional responses and reactions without buying into them as stories, how you can feel them to their fullest extent but can keep open a channel of empathy and understanding. Give them a gentle proverbial hug and allow them to run their course like a two year old throwing a tantrum. Give them room to express themselves (create nonsensical art, or free form writing, or get into nature) so they can be heard and move on. Thoughts, feelings, and beliefs change with the seasons- allow yourself to be flexible.

Be thankful-
Take the time to picayunely address everything you see around you that's not a negative and say thanks for it, to your god, to the people or animals who surround you, to a higher power, to the universe, to yourself. Even just stating "I'm so very thankful for ___ because ___" will do the trick. Do it often, do it for everything. Go out of your way to find something you are grateful for, something that makes you smile, or something you couldn't live without (your car, your cat, your book collection, your comic books, DVDs, video games, beer, chocolate, pajamas, your iPhone, green grass, brown grass, grey skies, vampires, whatever).  Anything remotely close to being ok needs this ritual applied to it (that means being thankful for the toilet and plumbing, running water, window panes or screens depending on where you live, carpet, the couch, the heater or air conditioner or fan, light bulbs, whatever). Be as ridiculous as you like- make it into a game- just be honestly grateful and thankful when you say so. Realize and connect with your gratitude. Understand how life would be different and more difficult without these things (no plumbing means getting cold, wet, and miserable running outside to use the bathroom). Whenever you realize that you are alive and a part of existence, find something around you to be truly grateful for and connect to that gratitude in the moment.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
—  Maya Angelou

Which leads me to the next item...

Make up a new story-
I don't mean make up a new story about what happened to you. That's over and in the past. The story you get to create is the story of how your past will shape your future and what the past means to you in relation to the present and the future. You need to look ahead for this. What do you want out of life? It doesn't need to be specific for now, your thoughts on this may not even make sense right away- just a general idea or feeling will do, and as a hint, it often won't center around you directly or specifically. Mine was that I would like my experience to help as many other people as possible, hopefully catching on like wildfire and changing the dogma of society from the smallest unit (the person or family level), removing the social stigma from a natural process (PTSD, depression, anxiety), and creating a new and empathetic future for mankind. Yours may be quite different! You get to choose and rewrite your path. Sure we all learned in math class that bad things happen to good people and that's bad, but you get to decide what that means, what that equation equals. Will you take what has happened and transmute it for your higher goals and purposes? Will you remember your loss and use it for good purposes, or destructive purposes? Will you give the cherished thing that was lost the honor in your life that it deserves, or deny it the potential it gave to you? You get to decide, and decide what these questions mean for you. You are an empty slate- the world is yours for the taking- but feel free to go easy and take your time. Enjoy the process.

Rinse, wash, repeat- 
As life goes through cycles, so will your journey. It will be made of many battles, and these steps will need repeated. Constantly. Re-state mantras, form new ones, monitor your thoughts always, be inquisitive and curious, be open and non-judgemental, be empathetic and listen, learn something interesting about yourself everyday, consider your options, and always remember your purpose (which you create with every thought), shaping the fallout of your past to be both the bridge and the driving force to get you to your future.


Go through your day and see how much you can observe rather than simply react to. How does it feel? How free can you feel by allowing emotions without reacting to them?
Here are a few mantras I've discovered that have helped me along...

I refuse to be a victim- I am the one who chooses what path I take
I am strong- I don't need to allow my thoughts to control me
I choose what will have meaning in my life and what it's purpose will be- I choose to use what has happened for good
If its happening, be for it- allow whatever is happening in this moment to happen and be present for it; you can't fight an ocean current, just let it wash over you
I am a river of life energy and peace- I allow what is to wash over me and happen
I am enough
When I seek others what I truly desire is connection, not attention 
I don't need to fix anything, I'm not broken- I am fine in the now, I am me in the present and I'm here

Here's a daily e-letter (small daily e-note) of mantra starters and universal truths you can subscribe to, to help start your day. Notes from the universe.

What mantras resonate with you? If you could envision some mantras to take you to your desired outcome, what would they be? What personal truths would they be centered around? What qualities do you already possess that could take you further on your journey and help you create a clearer path?

I leave you with a mantra of truth- "You are exactly all you need"

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Savoring and Serving- in wholeness and entirety

This is a response post to a simple question I was asked a few weeks ago. "What is savoring and serving to you, and what have you done in this manner this past year?" As simple a question this may seem, in pondering it and reading some responses to the question, I realized that we all are very biased toward the nature of these words and therefore are partial to the nature of the question itself. We tend to dichotomize our reality, only choosing to savor the desirable, and only wishing to serve through the ideal. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), life is not that clean, not that neat, organized and placed. Our proverbial ducks never seem to be in a row, and life is quite messy, unwanted in the moment, certainly not processed or ideal! We are encouraged to believe in the ideal, to strive toward perfection and the pristine. We are told that messy is wrong, chaotic is bad, and even though as kids we never seem to completely subscribe to this philosophy, somewhere along the way we all mindlessly agree that it is untenable truth. As adults we fight, struggle, tread the murky waters- the sea of ideal- often stagnating ourselves in the inevitable until we break down... And then what? It's near impossible going back to the beautiful, unadulterated, ignorant, messy bliss of childhood- we've already subscribed to the lie- but perhaps we can realize truth and allow ourselves a lovely, blissful break from all the should's, could's, and order demanded of us to appreciate our life for the beautiful, sometimes irritating mess that it is.

When most people think of "savoring", I don't think they usually include pain as a possible option, however I've come to see that by completely avoiding this aspect of self, one cannot truly savor the other, usually more desirable, aspects of self or those usually more desirable moments of life. The truth is we learn more about ourselves in our times of low, our times of suffering and pain when the mask of "ok" is removed. We understand hidden aspects of ourselves in these less desired moments- what in actuality we choose to focus on or act upon, what we really are thinking and telling ourselves, what energies actually drive us, and the stuff we truly are made of. We can vividly see our perceived faults with no masks, disguises, cloaks, or camouflage, and if we allow ourselves to truly stay in the moment we can even choose to accept ourselves exactly as we are, again and again, producing self awareness, understanding, empathy and compassion that can radiate and spread like a fire, affecting and changing others (and probably also ourselves). 

This has been my epiphany this past year as my year has been quite difficult. One must learn to savor oneself before one can truly serve oneself, and one must understand this to truly savor another, but one must serve oneself before one can serve another, and in order to serve effectively one must be able to truly savor the other (not to sound like Yoda, but it's true). Often it's easier to fight and stubbornly struggle and refuse one's plight than to accept or even to savor, but ultimately the truth is that this is MY plight, MY struggle, MY life. Although I didn't own (and refuse to own) the actions that produced my plight, the outcome it has produced in my life is mine to own, and this life including all its plights, struggles and outcomes is the only life I can own. Some days have been so much more than a struggle, and some have been relatively ok, but I've found that if I stop and actively choose to embrace each day, embrace the struggle, embrace my life, I am in actuality embracing myself- my whole self, not just the pieces. By embracing myself, I am in actuality savoring myself and the life I choose to live. By savoring myself wholly (not just the fractured shards, bits or pieces that I or others deem acceptable) I am able in turn to savor others, and learn to savor and embrace not just their parts, but their whole, to gaze upon another and see the perceived flaws as a whole canvas rather than just brushstrokes, to choose to savor another as I savor myself and the brief interactions between us (regardless of what the interactions may be). It's not easy, and requires constant reminding and practice, but through vigilance and tenacious persistence I can make this practice a habit.

I have opened wide my own grief and past trauma to others this year as a means of promoting change in cultural dialogue, understanding, tolerance, healing, effectiveness, teaching, and compassion. I have exposed all the facets of my suffering and healing, past and present, so perhaps others may not have to suffer as much (although suffering is inevitable) and I can offer others a map of options and paths that may be just out of their field of vision. In this way I bravely serve- I have chosen to offer myself as a whole (aspects generally and culturally desired and those not so desired), and to also accept others as a whole, as a beautiful snapshot of a work in constant progress, and hopefully to shed a beacon on a brave internal path to healing, understanding, acceptance, and compassion. Because only through compassion and wholehearted acceptance can we fully savor or serve ourselves and others...

....What about you? What is savoring, and what is serving to you? How do you incorporate these beliefs in your life on a daily basis? Weekly basis? Monthly basis? What are your plans for continuing this in the future and how do you foresee yourself carrying these intentions forward? And what about when life throws you that inevitable curve? How will you refocus, ground and center yourself to continue to savor and serve fully, in all aspects of your life, both inward and outward?

Thanks to Jen Louden at the Savor and Serve Cafe for the healthy koan to meditate over!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The monster of shame and indignity- the perpetuation of Rape Culture

I live with the effects of rape and PTSD on a daily basis, being constantly reminded of apparitions from the past, watching them as they spook the present, constantly reliving feelings and sensations, mindsets and thoughts long buried. Everything, all the facts, are continuously in the back of my mind, always lurking as an unspoken acknowledgement- just as though someone had written everything on my forehead for all to see, even though in reality it only echoes in the caverns and recesses of my mind.

Sometimes I feel like a human billboard and because of this I often feel like I must prove myself- prove that what happened to me is not of me, that I am not defined by rape, that rape doesn't define who I am at my core level of existence, that I am just fine; that I am normal. I feel subconsciously that I am always striving, always trying to push myself just a bit further into the sunlight, always trying to push the facts farther away from my being or away from my daily existence- to simply be me rather than a reflection of the perceived looking glass of others, a looking glass of judgement, of pain. But in my striving and pretending I am subconsciously allowing myself to become something far more detached- an adulterated form of self mired in half truths and wishful thinking. The fact is, as I am constantly reminded of the truth that happened to me, events that transpired beyond my immediate control, I realize I am not normal, I am often not ok. I am continuously forced to think about these events and the darkness which spiraled from and around this unchosen past every second of every day. I realize that I currently cannot separate myself from these events that have already transpired, nor the thoughts and judgements of others surrounding the direct knowledge of these happenings, and the judgements forced upon me by others due to my reactions over the years to these happenings or to their subsequent triggers. I cannot currently exist separated or outside of it in my reality or my mind because it IS my reality, it HAS happened, there's no going back, no fixing it. In realizing this and feeling the direct effects of the judgements of the masses and society, even the generalized judgements of the control machine and institutions- stigmatizations and generalizations by the masses- I somehow further separate myself from those who would rather sugar-coat existence, those who refuse to face social or inner demons and dragons that need slain in order for humanity to continue to exist and hopefully rise into a new era of loving-kindness and global acceptance for all mankind.

It is far easier to bury a head in the sand than to face unimaginable horrors, as I would know firsthand from ten plus years of my life that were devoted to the cause of ignoring, and hopefully forgetting. Horrors, however, only grow larger, becoming even more devastating and unfathomable over time if given the opportunity and left alone to fester and multiply. The only way to slay these monsters of destruction is to name them and acknowledge their existence, watching and empathizing, choosing to live co-dependently, allowing these feelings to exist while tracing their roots through society- they are truth after all, messy, bloody, ugly, but still truth. This is something that doesn't mesh well with our modern society's beliefs, values, or thought processes, and anyone raised in this modern mindset will undoubtedly find it hard to cope with these blatant warring values and truths. In society everything must be dichotomized- someone must be wrong, everything must be accounted for, perceived irrationality is not acceptable. Emotions surrounding and originating in a traumatic event are perceived as weakness, and instability, and because of the difficulty surrounding proving a rape when emotions or confusion are taken into consideration (80% of rapes are acquaintance rape- involving persons the "victim" is personally familiar with or close to, and only 2% of those are actually reported- understandably so) and due to our society's obsessive objectification of women (which is the driving factor in many- if not half of all- multimillion dollar markets- advertising, music, films, health and beauty industry, etc), women are often blamed, demonized, shamed and ostracized from an uncaring society, a society that originally taught these same women to be objectified. And forget about male rape- society doesn't even allow for this as a discussion or a possibility. Many male "victims" are forced to the fringes of society, silenced, mute and suffering, screaming quietly as society won't listen, won't care. 

Perhaps we could better educate our daughters and sons and guard our interpersonal relationships with a healthy skepticism so this mindset isn't passed down to future generations as an antiquated heirloom of human evils and tragedy. The truth is we are all strong, resilient creatures; we just need support. We need society as a whole (including on a cellular level, which starts with YOU and I) to stop objectifying our women, our wives, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters. We are intelligent, sentient beings, not items exclusively for your pleasure or pleasurable viewing. We are human, with human faults, human dreams, desires, thoughts, and emotions. We are all human- whether male or female, and we all deserve the same consideration, the same respects, the same value. Consider your actions, consider your thoughts. Begin to understand your unconscious thoughts and desires, and be sure these desires do nothing less than to uphold the inherent value and sovereignty of every being.

Rape culture doesn't have to continue. With you and I, our friends, our family, our community, we all can begin to change the cultural mindset, the inequality, the silencing, the control- one interaction at a time. With your help we can change this society to be a society of love and empathy, a society where people are heard and nurtured, where our daughters and sons won't suffer a fate of separation, abuse, and tragedy, but of love, understanding, and support.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tomes buried in the mire

I think it's about time for me to dig up some old writings and post them on here. This will definitely take up many posts, so I plan on spacing them out, one at a time, as brief interludes and adding more as I come across them (some are lost, buried, or possibly even gone forever). It is my hope that these writings may demonstrate the vast array of thoughts, emotions, and certain mindsets that can come about from victimization, PTSD, or even by trying to correct the internal imbalances wrought by these social maladies. Hopefully those who are going through similar circumstances may be shown a window of understanding or recognition into their own suffering as to better understand, relate to, and accept their grief or suffering as an understandable process. As nothing living is stagnant, neither is grief and suffering. The process is ever changing as are one's reactions, internal thought processes, and emotions or extent of emotions. The ever changing dynamic between the way a person may change and thus change their viewpoint toward their own situation and the situations of others, and how they then interact with an ever changing world is fascinating in the least and at most can give us all insight into our own inner demons, their meanings, and the grand scheme of things in our individual lives and personal crises.

As a prelude to my writing I should mention it was written during an online class focusing on building your own personal economy. The class focused on attitudes toward money and wealth, lies and misconceptions in society surrounding finances and economics, and how to take control of your own financial outcome regardless of the financial climate at large. As the assignment was in this context, it will make specific parts of my written response in regards to money or finances more understandable in the context of this post. This assignment showed us how, since we've gone off the gold standard, our money basically is valued with speculation (although it was A LOT more in depth). For our response we were to write a manifesto beginning with "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" and keep writing about the current state of our economy and financial mess as a society. This writing was done shortly after my PTSD really flared out of control.

November 2010

I wanted to begin this assignment with an apology. My brain put up a terrible resistance to this assignment and finally I began to recognize and realize the resistance. Ever since beginning this class, but even before then, I've been seriously trying to figure out how to deal with a very traumatic, abusive event that happened long ago. A few months ago I tried, on my own, to tear down some walls and barriers and air everything out instead of keeping everything to myself in secrecy. This has been painful, and this assignment began to dig at the very core of my being, and my mind, trying ultimately to protect me, began to fight very hard. I have evidently programmed my mind very well, but then as I started answering questions with answers probably not expected from the originating question, I started writing a book- literally as my pen didn't stop for hours. I began recognizing my mind's protective barrier as the pen kept moving and I felt the anger rise from a deep, ancient well previously buried by years of cynicism. I've realized that I'm very pissed off and finally I'm able to see through my own bullshit and my mind's bullshit stories. I'm mad as hell that I've fallen victim to my own mind and it's made up reality and I'm not going to take it anymore. I will no longer let things out of my control or influence control my thoughts, my emotions, my actions. I will not allow another individual, or my mind's perception of the individual, to control how I perceive reality to actually exist. I will not allow my anger of the past to influence my current situation, my relationships, or my thoughts and perceptions of the actions of others. I will not waste my life on negativity that was perpetrated in ancient times. I will not, I refuse to be, the embodiment of pain, suffering and hurt- actions that I don't resonate with, that I refuse to resonate with. I refuse to offer them a home. They are alien to me. I refuse to hold onto my fear of loss- the fear that my possessions, my soul, my being are able to be taken from me. They are mine as they are of me and cannot be taken or used by those alien or of a different source. I refuse to allow money to hold me. I am its master and it is my tool. Money works for me to provide me with what I want. I refuse to buy into the corporate/political game of life- the quest for more false security. I don't play games- I run by my rules and will never again be a slave to anyone or anything. I refuse to believe that my worth as a person can be summed up by others who play a demoralizing game of catch and release. I will no longer be influenced by those who claim to have rights to a piece of my existence, to a piece of my soul and being. I will never again allow those who judge and grade me like cattle or a beast of burden to have a window of opportunity or criticism into my own worthiness and dignity. I am more than worthy because I create my own reality, and my reality dictates that I am amazing and just right the way I currently am. I've had it with disappointment and disillusionment. If I am the creator of my own immediate existence, then I will create a world for myself and those who desire freedom that contains no apathy, no disillusionment. I will no longer see the current world as an ideal gone sour, but as a sour place to hold ideals captive as I can create a new world. I will no longer see others as partially awake, but as sleeping- dreaming of a reality that will never be grasped in their comatose state. I am an island, with an archipelago surrounding me, but I am strong. I will never be bullied into submission, but rather will retaliate with non-violence by producing my own reality, separating myself from the looters and their production called society, which really in its own accord is the most violent form of non-aggressive aggression that could be perpetrated on their system.

In actuality my PTSD became even worse, however I believe this was a powerful step in regaining control of myself, my mind and my actions, taking responsibility of my mind and my PTSD (although at the time I didn't know it was PTSD) so I was able to produce an outcome that resonated more with myself than allowing others to control the outcome again. Control and safety are both important issues for someone with PTSD, and the first step of deciding to define these for yourself is one of the most important and scary things you can do. I find it almost humorous how certain points above have become either a rallying cry that I've later formed mantras around, an idea that I've either created or am in the process of actively creating, or have become mute points in the scheme of things. I also find interesting how well I can define perimeters that were not understood, but described my my wordage and have turned out all too true- for example "I don't play games". That phrase perhaps defined my existence for a time, and has in fact manifested itself in truth, as the idea of "creative play". This one idea I'm recently discovering (and trying to correct) has become all but eliminated from my life. It's fascinating how our words truly serve to shape and define us as we constantly create newer, more revolutionary versions of our selves in our quest of becoming.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

O Gray World

Before I get too involved with my next post, I wanted to thank everyone who has supported me and reached out in discussion and acceptance recently as I came public with events of my past and set out on a very open and interesting journey of discovery and sharing about my PTSD and ways I've combatted it, learned from it, and embraced it as a part of me. It is an unusual and strange journey as I don't really know what to expect day to day, season to season, and even though my actions are mine alone to choose, my reactions are often foreign and hard to understand or discern. It's a lot like standing in the middle of a storm without a coat or umbrella, high winds ripping around you, threatening to lift you from the very ground you are rooted to, and all the while you're looking up, focusing, hoping to find a ray of light, a small glimmer from the sun signifying a change in outlook (internal or external). The cycle of storms is repetitive, although no storm is exactly the same. After a time, the howling wind becomes discernable words, speaking from within the eye, seeing clearly all that is surrounding and within the dark, swirling clouds. Each storm allows for more learning, internal awareness, and looking deeper within for answers, and although part of me still tries to reject each storm, part of me embraces each new storm as a new incarnation of an old friend; as a journey along a winding, uneven path that will continue to spiral me deeper into knowing, deeper into understanding, deeper into peace and acceptance.

After completing my long planned work with the World Run for Depression, Anxiety and PTSD last month, a strange feeling washed over me, continuing and gaining intensity like waves on a deserted beach as tide begins to come in. That feeling was a completely permeating and deep sense of apathy and melancholy. After coming open with the world and making my case against certain unnatural but accepted norms in society (rape, victimization, social stigma, etc) I became deeply tired, rather ill, and every cell of my being began to radiate an all encompassing apathy that touched every fiber of my being, radiating into all areas of my life. The world was painted in gray and I had decided gray really wasn't all that bad! (Although living in Seattle I must enjoy gray to some extent ;). I've had to live with apathy in the past before, but under usual circumstances of being I would desperately try to fight it all the way out of my realm of existence, always to little avail. Usually the fight and struggle would create more energy drain resulting in either more apathy or a mix of anger, self chiding, exasperation, and a huge dose of additional apathy scooped on top. In the past I had declared open war on undesirable areas of my life (such as feelings of apathy), these undesirable feelings and reactions were swiftly demonized and ostracized- denied entry into my existence. But by denying what was intrinsically myself, I broke my being into shards and pieces, trying to destroy some and piece the rest into a pattern that would fill in the lost space. It was as though by fighting what was inevitable, what was natural, I would produce more of the same at a furious rate- like a virus- and bury myself further in the sensation I was trying to prevent and avoid.

This time, however the feeling was so pervasive and after expending my energy with the world run, I decided that instead of fighting I would notice, recognize, and ride the feeling like a surfer rides a wave. In other words, I would allow the feeling of apathy to exist. I would acknowledge its presence and I would recognize its right as a viable feeling within my being. I would allow myself to experience the feeling of this wave of apathy to the extent it wished to be felt. I would allow myself to stay in my pajamas all day if I had nowhere to be. I would permit myself to stay in bed rather than face the world. I would accept the feeling, embrace the feeling as my own, and feel its ebb and flow, it's waxing and waning in every instant of my existence. I would allow it as part of myself. I found that by permitting and allowing rather than forcing the inner war of stability and permanence, the feeling initially gained intensity and strength, like a two year old throwing a tantrum. However the massive storm wasn't painful anymore- slightly confusing or mildly irritating, but not painful. And instead of an anger and an intruder mentality, a rush to war, there was a natural sense of intrigue and curiosity. By acknowledging this undesirable feeling had a right to exist I stopped warring with parts of myself and justified parts of myself that had been demonized and cut off in the past. Slowly I was allowing myself to become more whole, allowing more of the self to exist in inner freedom and harmony, at peace with the other pieces of self, back to the natural progression, the natural place of being.

The truth is there is very little, even in our inner spectrum of understanding, that we can actually control. Actions of others can sometimes be influenced, but not controlled. This produces instinctual or learned inner reactions. Again, these can sometimes be influenced over time, learned differently, but never controlled. We can make a conscious attempt to rewire responses and rewrite our reactions, but the reactions continue to be what they will. They are the internal storm, the personal storm we weather alone repeatedly, the old friends we become familiar with through our journey, the pieces of our being of which only we are aware, pieces of intrinsic self we choose to either embrace or reject. These choices directly influence the actions we choose and these choices are the only things in life over which we actually can successfully exercise control, all else is smoke in mirrors. When faced with a simple truth, a simple solution usually suffices. The simplest answer boils down to yet another truth. You are enough. Intrinsically all you are in your perfection and all your glorious imperfection, is enough and is truly everything you need.