Drowning In Social Media

 

 

re(dis)c-11

I seriously don’t know how people do this blogging thing.  It’s utterly overwhelming even for someone who considers himself technically savvy.  But there’s a big difference between figuring out how to rewire a fuse box and trying to figure out how to manage all the various venues, outlets, and platforms of social media.  I suppose the younger generations have the same leg up as those who graduated shortly after me and who learned HTML along with their normal spelling lessons.  Oh, right, there were no spelling lessons because spell-check made that obsolete!  I’m trying to figure this out, trying to set boundaries (No twitter, no Instagram) but perhaps my biases against the ‘see what I am doing right this instant’ mentality is unfair.  I don’t know.  All I do know is that this is incredibly time consuming.  All consuming.  Breathe, step away, doing something for myself first, then blog.

 

 

 

 

 

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Review: Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Knowing when to give up is a gift. DFW killed himself at 46, a creative genius haunted by mental illness and addiction. Hmm….I’m 47, haunted by my own issues, creative (I’ve never be called ‘genius’), years of meds and suicidal ideation. C was kind in thinking I would get something out of the read; unfortunately too much. I last 60 pages and realized it wouldn’t be healthy to go further. I skipped a couple hundred pages, read the last page of “how he did it,” then went to play the piano. Knowing when to give up a book is the gift. Knowing when to hold onto life is another.

View all my reviews

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

In Love with Lithium

Here’s what gets me upset:  regardless of the program, therapy, rehabilitation program, or self-help book off the shelf at B&N, attempting to tame an addiction without a thorough investigation into one’s mental health by a professional (not a therapist, not a sponsor, not a general practitioner, but someone with the specific credentials to understand mental health “disorders” and the drugs that can possibly help), is like teaching braille to someone with complete hearing loss.  It might open up a new world of sensory exploration for your fingers, offer an insight and language with which to communicate with a specific group of people who share a different physical problem than your own, but it does not address the bigger issue of not being able to hear.  And lumping all mental health disorders into one massive category and allowing non-professionals to diagnose and prescribe, even via a casual personal story, is no less harmful than saying addiction to alcohol is the same as every other addiction whether it be sex, bath salts, binging/purging, meth, heroin, and on and on.

Too often, addiction is a symptom, not the problem, but in the hands of the wrong people, that claim can be turned on its head and used as some form of sick proof one is “in denial” or that their ego is fighting against the fact they are really just a ‘bozo on the bus’ and not being honest with themselves about their true condition, a condition through which adherence to a few simple steps can bring freedom, serenity, and joy.

Somewhere along the way, it became cool to be a part of a larger program of recovery;  that’s great.  Actors step forward and claim their seat.  Writers do the same.  Politicians even.  But it seems that with this new esteem has come the bashing of psych-meds, medications that not only save lives but that treat the problem, not the symptom.  I could run through the list of diagnoses I have been given by various professionals throughout my adult life, could tell story after story of how I fooled some professionals into giving me the exact diagnosis I wanted to hear at the time, and more tales of unsolicited advice from people who insisted they knew what I was going through because they, too, shared the label, “Addict.”  Or they were a family member of an addict or a whole family of addicts.  Often, these people are the ones out there shouting the loudest in a well-intentioned attempt to bring relief to others.  Often their shouts just confuse the issue for those of us suffering from something other than our addictions.

Lithium.  What does that word bring to mind?  To me it’s looney-bins, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Francis Farmer (or rather Jessica Lang), and on and on.  So unfair, so off-target, such a stereotype from an old generation of labeling.  I don’t know a thing about Lithium outside of what I just read in the below article.  Not a thing.

[‘I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium’]

 

But I do know about Wellbutrin, Effexor, Zoloft, and Prozac.  In the first three, up until last December, I held my hopes for some relief along with a heavy dose of therapy and 12-step.  Why the first three and not Prozac?  Because of magazine ads, commercials on TV, suggestions from friends, and stories in ‘the rooms.’  These were the newer, cooler, if you will, medications that could and would bring relief.

A week before the end of a 90-stay in my first rehab, 90 days after having tried to shoot an 8-ball of meth into my arms with a 4 year-old rusty veterinarian’s needle previously used on our cat, 11 weeks after telling one of my rehab counselors I wanted to die to which she replied, “Oh Spencer, leave the drama for the stage,” 5 days before leaving that rehab, my other counselor said, “You don’t need that Effexor.  Just stop taking it.”  Literally.  I was advised to go cold turkey days before heading home.  What happened after isn’t the point; the point is this person wasn’t qualified to discuss psych meds, a psych med that had been prescribed by a physicians assistant the previous year.

I stayed off that med and all others until 5 years later Wellbutrin and Zoloft were prescribed by that Harvard trained psychiatric nurse.  They worked as well as they could while I secretly kept my truth:  I was raiding the needle-exchange closet of all the used needles dropped off by the meth users in town, sometimes scraping the residue out of those needles and using the clean needles on the shelf above, but at other times, just filling the used needle up with water, shaking the left over crystals together with the client’s blood and shooting it into my veins.  At work.  Yes, I hit a major bottom, nearly killed myself by going septic, and eventually went away to the PRIDE institute.  There, the doctor, a pediatrician, gave me her diagnosis and psychiatric recommendation.  A pediatrician.

A few more years later, last fall, when I finally accepted I couldn’t stop thinking about killing myself, I finally admitted to my therapist these fears (they had become not just ideations but a fear I would succeed), and I saw a psychiatrist for the first time in my life.  There was an initial diagnosis, multiple visits to ensure ‘bi-polar’ was not appropriate, and a thorough discussion of my med history and my current two meds (Wellbutrin and Zoloft).  We eventually landed on my needing to stop Zoloft and to add Prozac.  Prozac?  Isn’t that so 80’s?  Wasn’t that the catch-all drug of a generation of self diagnosed depressives?  Wasn’t it a joke?  I had to check my biases, my baggage, my history in order to hear what he was saying and to realize he was the one with the expertise who could possibly give me my life back.

He did.  As did Prozac.  You see, I’m on the obsessive compulsive spectrum which I never really knew.  My binging, purging, love of sticking needles into my arm, self-mutilation, and addictions were as much a part of obsessive compulsion and they were in what I thought was an inability to stop (addiction.)  Suddenly (weeks later), instead of a tiny unexpected thought creeping into my head creating a chorus that would scream, “DO IT (‘it’ being whatever desire was hitting me at the moment), I heard the initial voice and could stop other voices from joining it.  Instead of crying on the way to get drugs, hating myself because I couldn’t stop, I could now see my thought process. Where before I had no control over where those thoughts went, now my thinking was under my own reigns.  My obsession wasn’t in control  That is a big difference in the mind of a depressed, self-destructive addict.

I write this because I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to seek professional help, to question the baggage of all those non-professionals offering help, and to make sure you cover all your bases.  If you were recovering from a car crash, you wouldn’t just have your bones reset; your medical team (TEAM) would cover all the basis.  Putting all our eggs in one basket only makes for a big helping of raw, scrabbled eggs.

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

My A.S.S. (AIDS Survivors Syndrome)

After reading a startling honest and fresh blog entry by Leslie L. Smith this morning, (Why A.S.S. Is About So Much More Than Guilt), I was unwittingly startled into an acceptance I am in a period where the forces at work in my life are joining together to take me beyond the troubles of the last decade and to help me solve a major creative problem:  what to do with about 30 short stories I wrote two winters ago.  I used to facilitate a health enhancement course called the L.I.F.E. program (Learning Immune Function Enhancement) at the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod.  It was a perfect fit:  my background was not only in teaching, I was HIV+, with an AIDS diagnosis, and currently working in the Prevention and Education arm of the agency.  One requirement of our MA grant was to provide some sort of health curriculum to agency clients. The only downside was that I never had the opportunity to actually take the course.  I was relatively newly positive (about 5 years) and hadn’t had much opportunity to process with other HIV+ men.

You see, I’ve been saying I used HIV.  That’s my survivor’s guilt.  I’ve been saying that in a path of self-destructive behavior, I was ‘chasing’ HIV.  And in a way, I was.  This piece isn’t about that, so I’m going to stop right there.  What this piece is about and what Leslie’s blog piece helped me see, is that all those stories are somehow based on my HIV.   I have struggled trying to figure out where to take them, how to join them, how to tie them together so that I can move on to something else.  Because I haven’t given my chance to step back from the story I have been telling for the past 10 years, that I used HIV, I’ve been anchored in one spot unable to unfurl my sails and let myself glide to a new destination.  I have been stuck in my story, with my 30 short stories, unable to to move on.  Reading this article helped see that I need to look at these past 10 years as a THEN, not a NOW.  As soon as I read that today, it all came together.  The outline, the order, the themes of a collection of short stories.  I felt the anchor lift as I egged the boat forward over it, felt it give way, and I am now pulling for my life.  Afloat, gliding, sailing on.

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Review: All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m always a bit skeptical of #1 bestsellers, new fiction at the top of all the lists. This one deserves everything–all the attention, awards, recognition. I’m in my busy season at work, trying to maintain consistency with my new websites (extracurricular activity), and I still finished this book in under a week. I went to take my necessary nap before heading into my long shift and I ended up reading the last 100 pages to the end. It’s magical. It’s stunning. It’s on the scale of “The Book Thief” good. Need I say more?

View all my reviews

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Breaking the Cycle: Writing Down a Dream

I normally don’t remember my dreams beyond the first few moments of waking.  And I usually sleep like a rock (daily swimming/biking will do that.)  But this week, almost every night, I have been not only waking and remembering my dreams, I have been able to carry them into the day, able to sequester the images, the feelings, the story, and able to return later in the hopes of wringing out meaning.  At first there was a series of plane crashes; not the scary, “I’m gonna die” sort of thing but instead the kind which fosters a curiosity.  They are the “Hmmm….ok, here’s how I’m going to survive this” sort of dream.  In one, I’m forced to take a seat on the wing….literally laying down on the wing with my feet clipped into a ‘chip-clip’ contraption and my arms over my head hanging onto a handlebar of sorts.  Next night, bigger, fierier sort of apocalyptic plane incident in which I simply managed my way through.  Often I’ve been yelling at my family.  On Tuesday after an evening having dinner with two couples (we don’t do dinner/have very few couple friends with whom we interact) I woke up screaming, ‘Why?’

I knew exactly why.  I tried to calm myself after the scream, starting thinking about the dream, and quickly told myself that I’d probably not remember it, that if I turned on a light I would wake myself further and not be able to get back to sleep, that I needed sleep more than I needed to write down or remember the dream, that yes, the dream was really significant and held a piece of a puzzle I have been searching for for a very long time, that I was clearly just lazy because I wanted sleep over truth and insight, that I wanted to stay in my own vortex of avoiding the truth, avoiding hard work, of demeaning my existence, my gifts, my talents, that even if I did turn the light on and write out the dream it would surely not have the same significant in the morning that I was attributing to it while in bed, tears streaming down my face.

I realized in the hour long conversation with all of the voices in my head that I was at a tipping point.  For years my baggage, my stuff, and my process kept me just under the surface of understanding and change.  I have been as addicted to my story as I have been to my drugs of choice so much so that even subconsciously, I have not allowed my true self to break through even in my dreams.  I have held it at bay, necessarily so, until this point in time where now I am allowing a deep voice to bubble up and force me a little further up to the surface, perhaps even breaking through into the air above.

My subconscious cried out, “Why?”  The dilemma?  In my dream, after an evening with new friends explaining to them how I wasn’t an artist but something less than, wasn’t an actor but something less than, wasn’t a musician but something less than, wasn’t a teacher but something less than, wasn’t a writer but something less than, I cried out, “Why?” in tears.  Why am I still doing this to myself?  Why am I still demeaning by natural talents whether they are top-notch, have-assed or new developments/talents/abilities?  Why am I still defining myself as ‘less than’ when in reality, when I look at my gifts, my life, my experiences, my soul, I am clearly something more than ‘less than.’  I am more-than.  I am what I define myself to be.  Law of Karma.  I am what I put out there.

I shared with my partner the next morning with unbridled excitement:  “I clearly heard myself at dinner last night,” I said, “because my subconscious will no longer let me get away with it.”  It felt wrong in the moment at the dinner table, and clearly in the middle of the night I realized I have had enough of the same behavior.  All those voices in my head telling me that I should just try to go back to sleep?  I ignored them, turned on the light, and wrote out my dream.  It may not sound that significant to those of you who make a habit turning on a light to write or who use this tool, dream journaling, regularly.  But for someone who has been listening to all these voices in my head for so long, who has been so comfortable going from “I’m going to change the world” to a “I want to die” on a regular schedule, giving myself permission to see a roadblock and to know it’s not real, to know I can overcome it, to accept the voices are just voices, that the true voice, a “Why” in the middle of the night, is my “barbaric yelp,” breaking my sleep cycle to write out a dream in the middle of the night was breaking a bigger cycle.  A much bigger cycle.

I did it again the night after and last night again.  New cycle.  New voice. New neural pathways….re(dis)covery.

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Love a Highly Creative Person?

From iheartintelligence.com, an amazing list which I shared with my loved one this morning.  We’ll celebrate 10 years together next week, and this….even after all the struggles, therapies, meds, ups and downs of those years….has possibly given us a foundation of understanding we’ve been missing.  There is a huge difference is how we process things.  I kept saying to him this morning, “I get that you know our differences, but you will never understand what it’s like to have gone through….blah, blah, blah.”  He was getting frustrated by that language. Of course he understands, he kept offering.  Eventually it came down to making the distinction between understanding my history versus understand how my mind processes life.  THAT, he will never understand, but this list given to him after our talk this morning, shed light in a whole new way.  Powerful stuff.

10 Things to keep in Mind When Loving a Highly Creative Person

Posted On 08 Jul 2015
there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Let’s Get Something Straight…….

We all have our stuff, our baggage, our beliefs, our insights, our history, our hopes and…..drum roll….our path.  I’ve always known about my path, have always sought to find my secure footing on it, and have often strayed, lost faith my path ever existed, and subsequently succumbed to filling my life with distractions, often negative and dangerous ones, in the hope they would fool me into thinking I was happy and living a meaningful, purposeful life.  Those distractions were, and continue to be, a part of my path, part of who I am. In those distractions, I have built identity, forged meaning.  Both of those verbs, ‘build’ and ‘forge’ are creative actions.

Just like various treatments, medications, therapies, books, people, experiences that helped me bushwack a path to individuation, a path I am making very public, this is MY path. So when I write things with which you have issues, please understand that those issues are what make you and I different.  I am not better or worse for those differences.  You are not better or worse for those issues.  If you feel a need to defend your beliefs because you think I am attacking those beliefs, I apologize.  My path as a teacher, counselor and coach and through my recent creative online writing is to offer as many opportunities and perspectives around recovery (all recovery, not just addiction) as possible–these are the things that have built my identity.  Forged my meaning.  A creative process.

I have a graduate degree in teaching English, my partner is one of the most educated (Harvard/Oxford) people I know who has dedicated his life to teaching English, language.  My first partner, a brilliant award winning poet, has dedicated his life to using language and to forging meaning. I understand the power of language, and it is something I will always hone in on. Language is life. Andrew Solomon, one of the most respected writers of our time, winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction for this 2001 book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, in the following TED Talk says everything I will spend the rest of my life trying to say and does so in 20 minutes. It is one of the most profoundly moving talks I have ever experienced.  Language is life.  It is wrought with personal, group, cultural, spiritual, positive and negative meanings.  If we do not challenge language, challenge and then forge meaning, we will have no personal identity outside the realm of group consciousness and group identity. And that sometimes means challenging the lexicon of our belief systems.

Solomon ends with the concept I wrote on the back of my business card and stuck in my wallet after I watched the video the first time:  “Forge Meaning, Build Identity.”

That’s all I am trying to do.  If I can help someone out along their path via what I write or post, then that is great.  But what I am offering is creative: some based on fact (as scientific as the fact that mixing blue and red will make purple), some based on creative preference (as in, singing more so than painting soothes my soul), some based on what works better for me (as in, I am a much better watercolorist than I am an oil painter.)  I have chosen the word “creative” to use across my websites because while you may come across things that do not resonate with you (I don’t like that song, that painting, that poem, that rendering), I’m not looking for you to try to challenge my creative process or my recovery/re(DIS)covery process.

Facebook used to be a place of forging meaning and building identity for me.  I realized recently that unless I learn to make Facebook work for me once again, FACEBOOK will be forging my meaning and building my identity.  I must make the necessary changes to make sure I retain control, power of choice, and positivity.  Thus I will only be posting my encompassart.com and inrediscovery.com posts on my Facebook page, ENCOMPASS ART, not my personal page.  My personal page will be that, personal expression for my own joy. Yy other page will be for expressing myself creatively in the process I call Re(dis)covery.  If you want to follow the stuff I’ve been posting, “like” my Encompass Art page.  Otherwise, on this journey our paths might not cross as often has they have been recently.

Family and friends, do not get wrapped up in your own emotions regarding my websites.  Just as if you were watching a movie or reading a book that is too disturbing, too close to home, too anything which makes you uncomfortable, change the channel or put the book down.  Do not try to tell me my setting in this story should be here instead of there, my watercolors are over-worked and muddy, the song is too high for my vocal range, I’d sound better if I found someone to accompany me while singing, that shirt makes me look fat.  You wouldn’t do that would you?  Then use that same filter when it comes to making comments.  I am not looking for sympathy, disagreement, judgement, constructive criticism, and on and on. This is a creative offering, not a discussion.  If I want that, I’ll ask for it.  Until then, respect my creative journey.

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

“Sober for Five Months, I Drank. Here’s What Happened”

 

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

An Exercise or Two

Time to get creative. Part of the creative process is the ability to go with the flow, to recognize where your energy is taking you, and to know when it’s time to stop and take a break. For me, especially as I see my online journal and website as a creative process, it’s understanding that if I don’t start asking for help, using the help of others, and allowing for revision, I’ll end up packing it all up in a moment of frustration and seeming failure.

Yes, I know what I want this to be about…I want it to be a creative process, creative thoughts, creative ideas, suggestions, tools, etc. But it IS the middle of our busy season at work, my partner is home for the summer, and I promised myself I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. So there’s nothing wrong with finding some tool elsewhere to share with you. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours:

CLIMB A MOUNTAIN from

Choices In RecoverySupport and Information for Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective, and Bipolar Disorder

crayons

 

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Review: Amherst

Amherst
Amherst by William Nicholson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I’ve committed to finishing a book, I find it hard to give it less than 3 stars. It’s either a book I am going to finish because I want to (3 stars), need to (4 stars), or because it’s helped alter my perspective on life (5 stars). I wrote a blog yesterday that included a mention of Amherst for a rather small incidental character and something that happens to her which affected me profoundly. Then I finished the book later that day and experienced a moment of synchronicity which threw me for a loop, helped alter my perspective, and helped me heal a little. I want to give it 5 stars because of the affect it had on me, but that affect was strictly personal, not a big enough part of why this book exists or of its plot. If you happened to read my blog yesterday and found something to which you could relate in it, then this book might surprise you in how deeply its light can reach into your darker recesses.

View all my reviews

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Video A GLEEful Life: Shake It Out

Say what you will about the up and down seasons of GLEE, but I remember watching previews of the show months before it was to first air and thinking to myself:  THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE THINGS.  I only just caught up with the show’s finale several months after it aired; I haven’t been a GLEE junkie, have gotten distracted by my own life, too disturbed by the GLEE lives (on and off camera), but in the end, I can’t do anything other than hold it up as something that has marked society, changed it for the good, and helped a hell of a lot of people.  I wish I could say my years in high school glee club were like the show.  In a way they were; I was out and proud by 10th grade in 1984 challenging bullies while searching for identity.  Of course then there are all the other issues and people to which I cannot help but relate.  A year after rehab my parents were visiting while I was doing a run of The Normal Heart in the role of Felix, boyfriend to the lead who becomes infected and succumbs to AIDS by the end of play.  Heavy stuff during a busy high season of tourism and trying to stay sober.  The man, the actor, Cory, who everyone thought had it all lost everything in an overdose.  It wasn’t the first time I wished my drug of choice had been heroin because I would have been taken by an overdose years ago.  Amphetamines don’t carry the same risk of overdose although I certainly learned to raise risk levels to points of absurdity; clearly something or someone wanted me alive.  But I’m off track.  All I really want to do right now is to introduce a series in which I’ll be replaying clips from songs used in moments of shining light.  GLEEful light, GLEEful life.  And they aren’t always the easiest things to watch or to experience.

Abused by her boyfriend, lost, protecting the abuser, Coach is brought this gift (the original just as brilliant in it’s own way, kudos to Florence + The Machine.)

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

I do belong to my life….

I don’t ever remember feeling like I belonged.  To my family, to the 7am AA meeting, to the agency staff, to this theatrical production, to that group of friends.  To the porn world.  To the teaching profession.  To my disease.  To my addictions.  To my trauma.  After working through several therapists I finally sought out a specialist, a Harvard psychiatric nurse, who helped me onto the path of recognizing the hand I had been dealt was wrought with trauma.  Yet I continued to talk about my story as though it were just that, a story.  I never felt like I even belonged to my own story.  In my detachment from my life, from my story, came that uncanny ability to compartmentalize, to act like I belonged when necessary, to prove a point or for survival, but to also quickly tear away one mask in exchange for another when a situation, relationship, scenario required it.  How I could strut and fret my hours on the stage, the stage being every waking minute of my life. The first proscenium my bedroom where I was likely sent when in trouble but to which I ultimately sought refuge from a bully of a father and life I could not longer control with childish charm.  When the adventure of living in South Africa ended and Buffalo and parental marriage problems fell on us in blizzard proportions, I started living other lives because I could no longer bear to live my own.

Why does this matter all these decades later?  Because even after an additional psychiatrist and various treatments and psych-meds were added to my entourage of therapies, I still feel the same as that little kid.  I don’t want to live the life I am living.  Sometimes the only life I want to live is the one I am reading about in a book.  That’s where I have gotten to closest to belonging.  In books. The Hardy Boys created an adventure out of 3 years in South Africa.  At 6 I started and didn’t stop reading until we returned to the States; somehow the brothers lost their appeal when I was no longer exploring caves with my mother, finding scorpions under rocks or hunting pregnant Pit Vipers whose babies ended up in a jar offering to my  3rd grade science teacher (unappreciated).  Then came the grocery store horror books, Stephen King, The Amityville Horror, anything that proved there was a way of living and dying more gruesome than the one I felt I was experiencing.  Then came classics, Richard Bach, the Joseph Campbell collection, Jung, and eventually a game I played when going into book stores:  the next book I needed to read was already calling my name.  I just needed to find it.  My life became bearable because of books.  Those of you who know me might question how this could be:  I’m a happy sorta guy; give good energy, care deeply about people, am a go-getter, dream-maker, goal setter, etc. etc.  I learned how to become those things in the books I read, and not being willing to come to terms with my true self, I’ve worn these masks all my life.

So I have  minor propensity towards being depressed.  See?  I’m already rewriting a story I am hoping will be closer to truth than it’s been.  I’m an addict and I’ve got some serious depression going on.  But luckily I have begun to find a balance somewhere between hanging from the nearest tree limb and knowing I can conquer the world, fulfill my destiny, and forever be happy. It’s a daily struggle to belong to my life.  There are so many patterns of behavior ingrained in my head that I am often at a loss as to how I end up where I end up at the end of the day.  When these patterns start to emerge, I typically try to pick up a book and just forget who I am.  It works for a little while.  Sometimes longer than a little while.  Unfortunately, somewhere along the line I have connected reading books to wanting to write books, wanting to give others the peace I find within pages, to offer an escape from their own lives into the comfort of a life not their own.  And wanting to do something desperately which one cannot find the strength, perseverance or determination to do, pretty much sums up this torturous life journey towards grandiosity that inevitably spills me onto the macadam scrapped, bruised, and bleeding.  A cycle of depression, balance, optimism, grandiosity, back to hopelessness.

I need to learn how to live my life.  When I turned the page of a seemingly innocuous novel I am reading, Amherst by William Nichloson, about the love affair between Emily Dickinson’s married brother and another married woman and about the 21 century writer desirous of capturing the story in a screenplay, I stumbled upon a minor character who, in her suicidal depressive state, is talked into walking through her death by an older mentor.  He tells her to describe it, to walk through it, and then to talk about all the issues and traumas of her life and what has happened to them now that she is dead.  A simple exercise.  With simple intention.  To prove that we can die anytime we want to, symbolically, and in doing so, we can eliminate all those haunting issues.  If they can disappear with one’s last breathe, why can’t they disappear with a breath that far precedes the last?

Before anyone gets up in arms, let me reassure you there have been years of therapists, professional medical doctors, medications, programs and therapies in my process.  I have worked through, starting at a very early age of introspection, why I am the way I am.  And I have been stuck in this life the entire time.  Haunted by my patterns, by issues, my every cell of memory.  This isn’t a “born-again” experience, an attempt to recreate myself in the image of someone else.  I want all the pieces of me, I want to BE ME and all the wonderful/fucked up things that means.  I want to live this life.  Somehow on p. 131 of the book I am reading I have been given a gift, a tool, a suggestion I’ve never heard before.  There are plenty of people who have suicidal ideations.  I am not the only one.  I happen to find a deep spiritual meaning in death, and don’t suggest anyone with thoughts of suicide to “play through” an act of self-destruction.  But what I am going to do is try this myself:  I might set aside some time to do a meditation (because that is what this is) using creative imagery (creative recovery, right?) to help me eliminate that which I no longer want to carry.  I have been defined by those moments, but I know longer want those moments to rule my life and prevent me from living my life.  I want to belong to my life; there is no longer room both that which is killing me and that which is begging for life.  Will it work?  I don’t know.  I’m going to give it a try.  And in the meantime, I’ll continue to live, heal, grow, and perhaps hide, in these pages before me.

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

Roadblocks

There are triggers and then there are roadblocks.  I personally don’t know which are more damaging to me seeing that my triggers often become paralyzing moments indecision. Or worse.  Naturally a trigger is something that sparks another action.  Obviously in the world of addiction recovery, the word, ‘trigger,’ almost always has a negative connotation; a trigger often leads an addict down the wrong path.

A roadblock–an impenetrable thing standing in the way.  In the world of coaching, self-help, and life-affirmation, a roadblock is often something negative that is then turned on it’s axis into something to be surmounted, something that can be overcome.  Watch any Tony Robbins video of him helping someone with a life-altering roadblock in the way, and within minutes, whether you believe it contrived or not, the person has not only identified the roadblock, they’ve blown it to smithereens and are continuing on their journey.

What happens when your triggers are the roadblocks themselves?  If you are someone like me with a well-developed sense of self-righteousness, my “I’ll show you” super-hero-powers can blow away almost all roadblocks in my way.  My “I’ll show you” tied to my grandiosity tied to a sometimes over-zealous belief in a synchronistic, “The Secret” way of life can perform miracles or at least feats often seen by others as mind boggling.  I’m not saying this is healthy.  It’s not.  It’s what can get me into trouble.

I may see a roadblock, feel that drive and power squeezing up from my solar plexis which finds its way into a stubbornly clenched jaw, and then I trip over a trigger.  A familiar place.  A person.  A smell that triggers a memory.  I can quickly crash into a heap of self-destructive behaviors, the road block long ago surmounted, opportunity sitting there in front of me waiting to be taken, but I am suddenly too focused on hurting myself to take another step.

My triggers are dangerous.  My triggers are many.  My triggers spark actions that involve blood, cuts, deprivation, purging, and on and on.  It’s an old traditional exercise, but today I again write out my triggers so that I can honor their power and learn that the power I have to overcome roadblocks is the same power than can successfully deal with a trigger.  Easier said than done, but like anything worth doing, it’s worth practicing and doing again and again.

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+

DOWNSIZING

The days of upsizing whether to add an additional 500 calories of McDonald’s fries, to extended a warranty designed to make you feel good while destroying your budget,  to remove that natural sand dune because you need a better view:  gone.  You may not realize it, and that’s fine.  Everyone at their own pace.  I simply feel bad and have always felt badly for those who don’t understand the blessings of downsizing.  Of simplifying.  Of saving, of stretching out a bottle of lotion by cutting it open and realizing there is another week’s worth of moisturizer waiting to be used.  My mother taught my sister and I well.  We scrape, pinch, do-it-ourselves, and only buy bargains.  All a form of downsizing.  Fact is, I need all the feel good moments I can get, and if that means wearing a $5 pair of no-name shorts that make my ass look just as good as a $150 pair, then I’m on it.

Great blog from Power of Positivity:   5 Life Changing Things That Happen When You Downsize

there's nothing like sharing
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+