” “To find out what is truly individual in ourselves,…”

images“…profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.”
I watch a series “This Is Us,”” faithfully. (Well as faithfully as I can since I don’t have a TV or cable.) What I have learned is that my need to watch shows that are military/police is nothing more than an unconscious need to re-perpetuate the trauma so that I can make sense of a world that makes no sense.
In the last episode of “This Is Us,” family members learned that they had a long lost uncle. They then found this uncle and saw how a traumatic experience he endured as a young man in Vietnam, he accidentally killed a little Vietnamese boy, made it so he could not cope with the outside world,  the rest of his adult life.
Now my friends who know me know I struggle with this. My traumatic, violent, abusive experiences as a young boy have put me in a place in the last 10 years where I struggle most of the time to keep moving.
jess-and-oatieNow I am very aware of how much this complex problem does not have a simple solution. I watch those close to me, in particular Willem3655 and the Fanatic, and see how complex PTSD affects them.
But the best part of the latest episode of “This Is Us,” is when one of the Uncle’s nephews says that he couldnt sit by and watch his Uncle suffer like he was. Metaphorically, Kevin made a different choice than did his dad did long ago because his Dad turned away from Kevin’s Uncle and walked away from him because Kevin’s dad could not deal with the trauma his brother carried.
This is a wonder full metaphor for the world. Many of us see and know those who need comforting and support and walk towards them even though by doing so we may get triggered ourselves. We also do it knowing there is a strong possibility that those we seek to help may not greet us with open arms. But as I become more and more that person I am supposed to be,(see opening quote!) I realize I truly have no choice.

123 RV, SA, RW, AF

Quote from Jung

 

 

“Luck is surviving what you dont want.”*

stunning-smeared-sky-time-lapse-photography-matt-molloyThis is the best way I can look at the experiences of the last few years.  I did not want to be “diagnosed,” (which is really a metaphor for “educated guess,”) with depression. But I was and here I am and it is real today.

I was at one of my favorite events the other day, the Thanksgiving alcothon, and was in a meeting with one of my favorite people.  He is one of my favorites because he openly discusses this whole concept of a Ggod and doesnt mind leaving the idea out there as a point of discussion rather than a struggle or a question that needs an answer

“Spirit, like God, denotes an object of psychic experience which cannot be proved to exist in the external world and cannot be understood rationally.” What I dont understand is why we think we “know,” what this Ggod thing is!

10347232_10201917599660507_5224584867827727870_n“God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.”(1)  When I truly realize that I dont have a clue about anything as far as the why we are here question, since I cannot understand it, then life has that child like quality of being a fun, interesting mystery.  I know I do better when the quality of mystery is present.  Not fear of, but interest in, whatever it is that is in front of me.  “This is its meaning if we use the word “spirit” in its best sense.”

“Once we have freed ourselves from the prejudice that we have to refer to concepts of external experience or to a priori categories of reason, we can turn our attention and curiosity wholly to that strange and unknown thing we call spirit.”  I pray for our sake that we, the collective we, get to the point that we realize that we have lost that spirit of life and have made the external expression of our fear, called “knowing,” what any Ggod is is not based on anything but our unconscious being projected onto others.
123 RV, SA, PA, PH, RW

 

*I heard this the other day on “Red Band Society.”  All other quotes from Carl Jung except (1) Joseph Campbell.

“Our fathers are our heroes and greatest foes.”

on-his-eternal-journey-ajaytao1My Dad was my greatest hero when I was so small that he literally looked like a giant to me. Heck, my Mom looked like a giant to me at one time as well and she was only 5’2″! So when I was a little boy and was not yet rational, I watched how a father was supposed to behave. The problem was my Dad did not how to deal with his emotional conflicts that he carried from his own childhood and sadly never did.

10576235_1478792175702340_1648178438_n“With those whose love we wanted but didn’t get, we emulate them. It was the only way we have within our power to get the closeness and the love that we needed and desired.” Unconsciously I did this. Even though I railed against it and act like I wasnt the same as him, as I got older, when I was lost and confused, those memories and actions of my father on how it was to be a man obviously came up into my conscious. I am sad as I say this but feel it to be true. I would withdraw into myself when the tension of life came up. I would do exactly the same thing my father did; I would shut down emotionally. This is sad and hopeful in the same breath.

“My Dad’s voice was sacred to me as a child.” I remember my father talking to me. Not the words he said but the tone and the body language associated with his words. Needless to say I am hard on myself as he was on me. I feel such a sadness realizing this as I sit here. I know dear friends whose father was like mine and they seem to find men and women in their lives who were eerily similar to their fathers.

10446666_10204349217710974_5055388173445466429_n“All we know about manhood is what we have seen and learned from our fathers.” Such a statement might seem ridiculous to many. But as a testament to this truth, I can tell you that I worked hard to get out of that family. I worked hard to get away from him. But as I sit here today I realize his depression is my depression. I am carrying his fucking burdens as he I am sure carried his fathers.

No matter how hard we try, those unconscious memories are always with is. The question is can we work with them and dance with them like Hillman says we should do with our dreams, or will we try to make them “go away.” Well I am fucking proof that no matter how much you ‘think’ you are not carrying those memories, you are.

123 RV, SA, PH, TL, WC, JM

All quotes from Bruce Springsteen albume”On Broadway” from the song “My Father’s House”

 

“Thank you for being the friend you’ve always been to many of us.”*

siblings-love-ajaytao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met my friend Patrick for coffee yesterday.(1) It was a rainy, blustery, cold day up here in the mountains. Patrick is a very interesting man. He is maybe 70ish. He is both American and French. He was born and raised in France but came to the U.S. in his twenties. He has had a very interesting life to say the least.
As we sat there in the coffee shop he almost could not stop talking. I am not complaining as I am not a big fan of listening to myself speak. Its not that I don’t like my voice, its that repeating what I know already cuts me off from learning. I learn more with my mouth closed.
imagesWhat I learned during the couple of hours we spent sipping espresso and coffee was that Patrick had had a major breakdown a few years ago. He thankfully had not lost everything But he was just coming out of a depression. He was grateful that I had invited him for coffee.(2)
I also noticed that he had a similar experience to mine with his family surrounding his depression. A couple of his nephews, who he invited into his business, were apparently working to take away his business from him.

What do I glean from all of this? Is it that much of the abuse in our culture is perpetrated on those who are ill. Abuse is perpetrated on those who are physically ill as well as emotionally ill. My experience is not the subject of this blog, but needless to say a “family,” member took advantage of my wanting to be fair when I fell into my depression.

What sucked is that I could not fight back. It is not that I could not afford to protect myself, its that I did not have the psychological will to do it. It sucks to write and read this but it is true.

10553437_602979719814934_7879934007941607271_n

I did not give Patrick advice. After learning of his situation, I just listened. He was talking because he needed to have someone besides himself hear his trouble. All I could do was tell him I heard him and if he needed to chat about this I would love to meet for coffee again.

We all want to be heard. Our fucking isolated world leads so many of us to not have anyone else to hear them. I am so grateful for my friends, almost all of them made because of my time in A.A.

finger touching nose of baby

123 RV, SA, WC, JM, AF, PA, SR and say a prayer for the Colonel

* My friend the Painter I call him(since we are anonymous here so as not to violate the 11th tradition) sent this to me the other day when we were texting back and forth about a mutual friend who is/was suffering with a major bout of depression. I pray I can live up to the Painter’s words
(1) We met at a wonderful newish coffee shop up here called Infused run by a dynamo named Jamie! If you are ever up on Cobb or Loch Lomond check them out. Infused is in Loch Lomond. There is also a great coffee shop called Mountain High Coffee which is in Cobb
(2) I gave him some Peets “Ethiopian Super Natural,” coffee. You could see the joy in his eyes when he smelled it. Apparently the French are snobs when it comes to coffee, TOO!

“We are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children’s lives….

jess-and-oatie“…We either lay our mistakes upon them and we haunt them, or we assist them in laying our burdens down and we free them from the chains of our flawed behavior.” (1)

I pray I made the right decision to do what I did with my daughter.  I have never written about my relationship with her here, or if I did, it was a cursory mention of the facts of our separation.  But I am here today to talk about it.  Why now?  I don’t have a fucking clue why I was not able to do this before today.  But here goes.

When my meltdown started in 2007, I could no longer run from the what the medical world calls my depression.

One of the effects of that event was that I left my marriage of 18 years.  Why is not what matters here.  But as a result of that decision my ex spouse did some things that necessitated us having to go into Court to deal with the “custody,” of my at the time 10 year old daughter.

The court ordered me to do “reconciliation therapy,” with her before I could see her.  I did not then and still to this day do not understand why they did it.  But I attempted to set up the therapy with a court approved therapist.  But the problem with this is the therapist made some allegations about me that I was not willing to let stand.  I told the therapist that if she insisted in the premise that I abused my daughter, then I wanted her to call the cops and report this alleged abuse and we would deal with it that way.  I knew a therapist has a duty under CA law to report to law enforcement any suspected abuse.(Jay told me.  You will learn about Jay later on down the post)

The therapist said she didn’t think that was necessary.  I asked her who had made the allegations.  She wouldn’t tell me.  I said I was not willing to have the fucking elephant in the middle of the room that I abused my own child since it would have been a set up and I would never be able to disprove a negative.

So needless to say re-unification therapy didn’t happen.

But to be honest, one of the straws that broke the camel’s back of my marriage was my ex didn’t think Jessica needed therapy. You see, I saw my daughter doing what I did when I was her age.   She was disassociating when the tension was expressed between my ex wife and myself and I knew that if she didn’t get help she would suffer from those deep seated emotional conflicts that lead many of us to drink or use as alcoholics or addicts.

So I was left with this fucked Hobsons choice.  Either I could “admit,” I abused my daughter, or I would not be able to see her.  (Gratefully, Jessica has been in therapy since about a month after I left.  She has had a therapist for the last 8 years and I am grateful for that.)

For my birthday every year, I give myself a one hour session with Jessica’s therapist. After a year in therapy, I asked her therapist, since I am not going to admit a lie as a premise for any sort of me seeing her again,  what could I do to make it so my daughter had as stress free a childhood as I could help her have.  I am aware that my meltdown has caused her a lot of stress and she has struggled.

But I didn’t know what to do.  So Jay, my daughter’s therapist looked me in the eye and with tears in his eyes, said I know you wont want to hear this but I think the best thing you could do for your daughter is to let her go. FUCK NO I said.  He then explained to me that my daughter was too enmeshed with her mother to be able to carry the tension of having a relationship with me at the same time.  I asked him how long did I have to “let her go?”

Again, struggling to get it out, Jay said that I had to let her go with no expectation or goal of seeing her again. I begged, tried to bargain, ranted, raged, yelled and did anything I could to not accept that sitting in that office in Novato.  But after about 10 minutes of me projecting every bit of fucking shadow I could at Jay, I just stopped and  cried.   I cried the rest of the session and I cry now as I write this.  I have never wanted to say or face this openly except in a cursory fashion in AA meetings, with close friends, or with my therapist John Jack.

So I have not seen my daughter since early 2011.  She was 10 when I last saw her and is 18 now.  Glenn Fry is singing “You’re  a Part of Me, I’m a Part of You,” on the radio as we speak.  I cry every day for my daughter.  I miss her so much and a part of me feels like it died that day.

But I pray that Jay knew what to do that day I made that decision.  I trust that he is looking out for my daughter’s best interest, even at my expense.

I pray my daughter does not have to carry the burdens that I laid on her.  I pray that her troubles are not from me making her carry all of my ghosts.

Thanks Renee for always being there on this issue.  123 RV, SA, PH, DH, JDK and a special prayer for the Colonel today.  He needs love and support as he trudges his own road.

I have never acknowledged this but that is Jessica in that picture.  She was with her dog Oatie when I took that picture.

(1) This is a quote Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway Album

P.S. I just re-read this and apologize for the rambling way I wrote it.  I don’t want to edit it but wanted to apologize for the somewhat unconnected way it was written

100_1607

Fanatic Raw

women-eyes

In the daylight hours I am superwoman. Solving problems. Suggesting changes. Looking to boost morale. Taking phone calls. Making phone calls. Meeting with staff. Meeting with my boss. Meeting potential new clients and their families. Completing quality checks. Reviewing and approving incident reports. Answering every single text and email as it arrives on my phone or laptop. Welcome to full time work.

I am no stranger to full time work since I graduated from college some many years ago. However, I am newly re-entering this world.
It’s amazing how I can create such a powerful work persona. But, in reality feel quite weak and helpless much of the time. Vulnerability is not my strong suite. Sometimes radical honesty is not my strong suite. But, work ethic! Integrity. Sincerity. Perfectionism..seems to be in my bones. I work very hard in any job I have. I over extend. I easily get tunnel vision. I too easily lose sight of work life balance.
What is not seen is the inability to get out of bed in the morning. The anxiety that holds me hostage in that bed. The struggle that takes place when my husband heads off to work and I have to hold myself accountable. I have to find the strength to put my feet on the floor. The thought tornado that takes place as I lay my head on the pillow each night. The smile I force on my face as I stare into the mirror and wonder how I can face the day.
20140708-182105-66065695.jpgI took a new job recently. It’s a management position, which I have never had before. With less than 60 days into the position I was asked to supervise another staff. This was not part of the interview process. It’s my boss having complete trust in me. My boss believing in me. I haven’t even passed probation yet. It’s a lovely feeling to have someone believe in you so much in such a short amount of time. We are in the process of hiring said person I will supervise. As we are interviewing and getting closer, I am feeling the stress of never having been a supervisor. The stress of being overwhelmed in my own position right now. The thought of having to train, supervise and be responsible for this staff person is hitting me.
I say all this because I’m not dealing with the stress well. I’m pretending I am not stressed or scared or worried. I have that superwoman cape on. The work persona is my shield. I engaged in some self harm behavior in the last few days to offset the stress. Does that even make sense? I am trying to stay sober. Drinking is a coping mechanism for me. So, I look to other self destructive ways to not feel. Ways I haven’t engaged in for quite a while.

I am not proud of myself. I did tell someone. But, I didn’t call anyone in the moment. I didn’t reach out for help. I just wanted to solve my “problem.”
Life is a work in progress right. Whether you have a mental illness or not. Whether you choose healthy or unhealthy outlets. The day will begin again. My feet will need to hit the floor again. I’m still here to give it my best shot. Some would be impressed by that.

123 RV, SA, AF,BT,TL, JM, WC

 

“The last fight left was with myself….”

10312474_785985181440900_5662887777018086031_n  “…Conscience in chains, I watched my integrity slither away and disappear through a gap in the bars.”

I read a fascinating, eye opening,  blog post/article authored by Sarah Knutson, from which the above quote comes from,  in Mad In America this morning.  The link for it is below.  As I like to limit what I write here to 500 words or less the best I am going to do is to give a cursory review here.

As I have articulated from the beginning, I see depression as a manifestation of and inability to resolve those “very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional conflicts [that] persist below the level of consciousness…[which] have given our emotions violent twists which have since discolored our personalities and altered our lives for the worse.”(1)

I also don’t think the “mental health,”  industry looks to understand the complexity constructed in our minds, based on those conflicts, that are what I truly believe is the basis for our dis-ease we label depression and what I see as its flip side, anxiety.

10446666_10204349217710974_5055388173445466429_nSarah wrote, “I don’t know about you, but for me, the lines between trauma, stress and suicidal depression can get pretty blurred. Whatever you call it, I feel like I’m being attacked from all sides.”   If you know the Fanatic, she has articulated that she feels like she was being attacked from all sides and everyone.  I don’t necessarily think it is everyone but my way of coping is to isolate whereas the Fanatic interacts with the world on a regular basis.

I decided to just let you read the article because to try and give you a synopsis in 500 words would not do justice to Sarah Knutson’s work.

What I can say is, that after listening to other members of my 12 step fellowships for over 30 years, is that this analysis is more accurate about how we deal with trauma, which is the underlying cause of what the AMA and their ilk have said are “mental health,” issues.  Many of my friends’ children and other youth in this country are dealing with this as well. As far as I am concerned it is trauma which is causing the dis-ease and is emotionally fucking up this country so bad that we were left with Clinton and Trump as the candidates for our highest office and many people believed there was a difference between them psychologically and emotionally.  He is an idiot but remember she laughed and said ‘We came, we saw, he died,”  when she was asked about Ghadafi being killed and sodomized with bayonets.  I know this is severe, but the reality is we are so traumatized as a culture we accept this kind of behavior as normal.

100_1607 (1) Many of my friends roll their eyes when I bring this up at meetings.  A few of my old timer friends calls this my “mantra.” The quote is from the 12 by 12 at pg 79-80!

 

 

Link to the Article   https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/01/traumatic-immobility-depression-stress-response/

“Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness.”

soaring-gullI just learned that a friend of mine, Jackson,  who I admired and looked up to a lot, committed suicide recently.  The struggle for me is that he had been sober longer than I have and yet still needed to get relief the way he did.  Many of you know that a very dear friend of mine did the same thing a little over three years ago and he was sober 33 plus years at the time he decided he did not want to be here any longer

So as I sit here on this sunny January day the sun doesn’t seem to brighten up my day.  Listening to the Allman Brothers play the blues gives me more comfort than does the sun.

20150821_063536 (2)Just got off the phone with another one of us who  have been around a long time and yet who suffers from this malady of depression.   We both graduated from Cal.  I find it amazing that we both can go to one of the best universities and yet cant figure out why we cant “get over it,” when it comes to depression.

While I am railing, I watched Prince William and a number of world “leaders” in banking and the medical industrial complex talk about mental health issues yesterday.  All I thought was you mother fuckers make money off creating the trauma that predatory capitalism/the military industrial complex manufactures and now you want to create the solution for it. They want to monetize peoples emotional and mental health, AGAIN!

20140909-201504-72904262.jpgI suffer today because my friend lived in that place where life was no longer worth it.  I  am sad because he was a caring and loving man.  I am angry because those who benefit from the trauma we all carry and perpetuate it to their economic advantage don’t want to deal with the emotional conflicts perpetuated by the systems we live in but want to figure out a way to monetize any relief from them

RIP Jackson

The opening quote is from AA 12 by 12 pg 79-80