Ticking Away

There was this aunt on my paternal grandfather’s side. Noone of immediate bio family liked her much as she was rumored to have stolen food from other family members during the flight and expulsion of Germans towards the end of the war and after when food was a rarety. But as they were told, they kept her in, looked after her, family sticking together, got to, you know.

I must have been anywhere between 8 and 11 years of age, when my mother would make me go visit her about once a week or so. Some kids older than I lived in her neighborhood and every time I had to go see her, I tried to find those kids, too and get to spend some with them. But before I was relieved from the duty of seeing this aunt, this is what I remember:

When I rang her doorbell, she’d pretend to be happy to see me. (Maybe she was, I was too …. I don’t know…. preoccupied to notice). She’d invite me in, offer snacks and tried to break into some small talk. Usually, she’d briefly inquire as to what was going on at school, whether I was doin’ o.k. there, that sort of thing. Everytime I was there, I couldn’t help, but wonder: What is it like to live alone? Never have anyone to talk to? Immersed in your own thoughts day in, day out.

She had embroidery hanging on the wall, usually some sentimental motto about her generation having lost their home and longing to be back. There was this smell of … old age. And the incessant ticking of her “grandfather” clock in the kitchen. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Every moving of the hand seemed to say: “This is the grim reaper talking. I’m preparing for you. Just fix your eyes and ears on the watch. With every move of her hands, I’m closing a notch in on you. And I’ll be coming and you know it!” That is what her kitchen, her living room, her bedroom felt like: Death closing in without any mercy on anyone.

I’d usually stay there for maybe 30 or 45 minutes, long enough that she wasn’t under the impression I had only showed up to collect some spending money (when in fact that was the only reason I ever brought myself to showing up there). Every time the “conversation” – if you wanted to call it that – dragged. There was actually no communication at all. I wasn’t really interested in her stories, she didn’t seem much interested in mine.

I always felt a great sense of relief, when I got to leave. And I always knew: One day, this is going to be you.

Guess, I have always been morbid….

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A Day Like This

There are days when you can’t help but wonder: Why – put up with all this anymore? Today is one of those days.

First thing I come across today after booting the computer and checking emails, social media accounts, noteably Facebook, is this. They spoke of 50 dead this “morning” in my time zone, the death toll has now risen to as much as 59. And over fivehundred injured (!), some possibly still in critical condition. The police have confirmed the identity of the attacker as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, according the Guardian. Over …. fivehundred injured! My first conclusion that I can’t help but make is this: He must have had hundreds, if not thousands of rounds of ammo on him to fire this many shots in comparably a short amount of time until he was found and killed by the police. He used ten rifles and must have been either trained or very good at aiming at something from a distance away as far as several hundred feet (370, I read). And he chose a music festival with a crowd of some 30,000 coming together to celebrate music, life and being together. And he … aims at them and kills 50 in next to no time, wounding hundreds of others.

I don’t think, I can wrap my mind around this. I know what’s gone wrong with me in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever harbored an idea like this: (Randomly?) “Picking” tens of thousands of innocent strangers to take out my bitterness on? Or my pain? Or both? No. In all honesty, I have never had an idea like this.

Even later then, news broke that Tom Petty has died this morning after having been found unresponsive from cardiac arrest in his Malibu home and taken off life support as of this writing. According to other sources, he’s still hanging in, though!

want to look at the bright side of things. I seriously do. (and I am, ever more often). But some days… things get too fucking much to “accommodate” anywhere… This is one of them.

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… is god’s way of reminding us that we’re only here for him/her/it to have fun. Fun with us, that is. #no_thanks_big_motherfucker_go_suck_your_own_celestial_universe_sized_motherfucking_dick_motherfuck

(P.S. I’m gonna need y’all to pray for me. Thank you)

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Will there be a Post Recovery Void?

For some time now, an eerie idea has been haunting me: What if I managed to truly recover from the majority of my PTSD symptoms and instead of enjoying the feeling of a serene, relaxed here and now in my body with a sense of being safe, instead of the anticipated big sigh of relief, I’ll meet abject boredom? What if my mind somehow reinterpreted the insanity of an overcharged nervous system that I’ve been living with for so many years (decades and practically all of my life since almost day one) and had me believe this was the heartbeat of life, a nervous energy that permeated all my days, all my feelings and informed some of my actions? What if arriving at the anticipated liberation from the pressures of said nervous systems and the physical manifestations it has been producing for so long left me feeling completely …. dead inside? Unmoved, indifferent, bored “to tears” as the expression goes save the tears? What if I missed feeling on the edge and being hypervigilant for most of my waking time?

Suddenly, it dawns on me that I had never even tried to imagine whom I would be minus the condition, minus the often agonizing symptoms and the challenges they create in my daily life. I had been so obsessed with getting rid of them that it never even occurred to me what I’d do and whom I’d be once they might be gone… And now that I’ve been fighting hard to find a hospital with doctors and personnell well trained in trauma therapy with a special focus on the somatic aspect of things, now that I’m zeroing in on actually getting specific help taylored to my therapeutic needs and thus relief and potential healing coming within reach for the first time – I can’t help but start panicking over above questions and what the aftermath of hospital and therapy might feel like.

I haven’t had an abode to myself for a year and the bulk of my former household is stored away in moving boxes and those boxes sit in my bio family’s garage or basement. I only unpacked the utmost necessities in order to get to have clothes and a few pots and pans to fix breakfast, coffee, meals etc. The housing arrangements prior to that year offered reduced privacy and felt limiting, only a hair short of stifling. I have signed a lease starting in November and am undergoing the necessary huge amounts of paperwork that I need to hand in with authorities paying those meager benefits that make the remains of our social security system. So, currently I know one thing: I’m most likely coming back to a largely empty appartement in a new place, where I don’t know anyone and which is likely not going to be furnished (or poorly furnished, like an oversized palette/panoply for a bed with a thin mattress on, no closets, no sofa, just a tiny desk with a computer screen and some electronic equipment). I know that. I expect to feel as empty and lost as I did in the first few weeks after my ex-wife had separated from me and with me needing to find another place to live as the former one was beyond my budget and the layout of rooms wasn’t conducive to having a room mate (to be honest: I would not have been comfortable having a room mate without the possibility of having a place to get to completely retreat to when needed). So that’s going to feel weird, possibly depressing. I also know that I haven’t found a new perspective in terms of what professional occupation to go for when released from hospital. I also don’t have any mental GPS left in terms of what to look for. Which is ironic as I think I have a bunch of good qualifications from my previous career and life that might still be needed by someone and possibly even pay decent money. (largely technical stuff, online content/special interest writing, SEO marketing, content management systems, some basic marketing skills, at least one language I think I know well enough to communicate in on a professional level etc.). In short: When fast forwarding my outlook to the time after being released from hospital, there is… a blank slate. (well, technically not entirely blank as I’m not an infant anymore and as life has left its mark[s] on me in a multitude of ways and outcomes).

Shorter even: It’s scary. The one thing I don’t deal too well with given my condition is not getting to plan ahead, not knowing what’s coming at me. (yeah, trust issues, haha! That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? 🙂 ) But that is precisely what I’m looking at over the coming months.

Guess, whether I’m ready or not, I had better embraced the utter unpredictability of life, its potential perils, its pitfalls – some of which I’ve fallen prey to – and force myself to make room for the mysteries and wonder and opportunities that are also [said to be] a part [of] of all that.

Boy, oh, boy…. I hear that there can be an easier path to travel…? Apparently, not for me. At least not until now. I’m still around, because I’d like to know what it all feels like minus all this anxiety and worrying… maybe even become what they call a “happy camper”? Contrary to what I just expressed above, I think that might feel nice. Just getting to be a happy camper.

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The Neighborhood

It’s a quiet neighborhood. A light drizzle falls upon the leaves of the apple trees in the garden. The grass is wet under my naked feet. It’s fall, but not cold just yet. I stand there in my undies enjoying the droplets on my skin. Some of the neighbors have their lights on at 3 a.m. Like I have the lights on at this time of day. There isn’t much I haven’t been through. And yet… I can’t help, but wonder: What have they been through?

Another puff from my “stickie”. I walk back to the house, knowing that I’ll have a comfty place to sleep. Things could be worse. And have been worse. Not anymore, though.

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Finding Peace?

Filmtheater Krumbach

Filmtheater Krumbach

Context: I grew up in a small town. Back in the days, the number of citizens maxed out at somewhere around 10,000 (including neighboring communities that got factored in). Today and in 2017, we’re closer to the 20,000 mark. But it’s still a small city compared to the urban centers in my country and still far from numbers of inhabitants most US cities boast.

But – it is – or was it? – about numbers at any point? Possibly not. My version of a possible explanation reads like this: You probably won’t have too hard a time imagining that the number and quality of “excitement(s)” in this small a town was limited growing up in the 70ies and 80ies. The local sports club, the local swimming pool, a number of outdoors activities, your mandatory time with family on weekends and on family vacations, one or the other “odd kid on the block”, a movie theater, a number of cafés and bars in the single digits realm, maybe a weekend outing with the local boy scouts. That was it. Pretty much. (I may have been oblivious to the more interesting stuff going on seeing as I’ve been holing up myself in mold-infested rehearsal rooms for the larger part of my high school years and becoming so religious about wanting to be a professional musician at some point. Speaking of which: “Mold” probably had to stand in for my first encounter with “natural psychoactive drugs” or something…, o.k., with weed being added to that roster shortly thereafter). But I’m digressing. As usual.

The point I’m trying to make is this: I counted the years, months, days until I’d GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE! (the capitals largely on account of my upbringing and bio family). I even signed up for a short contract with my nation’s Army in order to have an income right away after high school and in order to get to make my own decisions. That is how bad I wanted to get the fuck out! And I’ve been staying away for all these decades until…. about eight years ago. (I would have stayed away, though. I’m gonna spare us the details as to why that didn’t exactly work out as “planned”). Long story short: I’ve been finding myself living here, in my original hometown, again for the past year. And what can I say: I met the most interesting, loving, wonderful people I couldn’t have dreamed up if I had wanted to and with a loaded gun pointed at my neck! The experiences and encounters here kind of remind me of a scene with Julianne Moore in the wonderful, though tragic, movie “The Shipping News“, starring the equally wonderful Kevin Spacey and the outstanding Grande Dame Judy Dench! (I’m getting misty just typing her name and thinking of her almost uncanny performance of “Send in the Clowns“… whoa….!). So, the scene I am thinking about is somewhere towards the last third into the aforementioned movie, when Julianne Moore’s character explains to Kevin Spacey’s how she ended up on this patch of land in New Foundland, which can sport four seasons in one day. The bottomline of her monologue there revolves something around the notion that pople on the island embraced her with so much love that she seemed unable to bring herself to leaving. Something like that (and I certainly hope, this wasn’t too big a spoiler…)

Well…. it kind of feels like this in reverse to me. Or maybe it feels exactly like this….

I have been looking for a place to myself for more than two years. My moderate household is stacked in my home folks’ garage with only the most needed things unpacked. I have been looking far and wide and I would have taken any old place so long as it provides the possibility for retreating from the world. But… something else happened. I no longer want to isolate myself from the world. I no longer need all this solitude. I am hungry for encounters, people, chatter, card games, hanging out, being silly, getting drunk… and whatnot. Also: I’m very interested in cultural things. Bottomline: I’m interested in as high a quality of life as possible (not necessarily meaning luxury or high spending). And I seem to find … more than enough of all that where I’m at.

This is a surprise. A big one. I had fooled myself into thinking I’d have to go far away from home to find all these things. And now it turns out they have been at the tip of my nose all along… Guess, I’m grateful. Very grateful for this. (it’s still a surprise. A fat one!)

P.S. I want to give back. I guess, I just volunteered to help save above local movie theater from getting torn down for good. This is going to be a several years-spanning endeavour. And I want to help. As best and as much as I can.

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No Entanglement.

Even particles become entangled. That means verbatim: If one particle over “here” in the universe is measured with an upward “spin”, the other particle – GALAXIES and LIGHTYEARS AWAY! – instantaneously is measured with a downward spin. In other words: Those particles were “entangled”, “connected” in ways that even quantum physics haven’t figured out to this day. In yet different words: Those particles make a pair, the exact nature of which is still hidden from the eyes of very smart people with the most refined “machinery” ever seen in the entire history of mankind. Let this sink in: We have tools – “eyes”, as it were – that can look “back” to the beginning of the universe. And that means: Eyes, that can see as far as 13.8 BILLION YEARS!!! Try this on for size! And yet, we don’t know how entanglement exactly works.

But whatever. I’m not part of that equation anyway. I got locked out pretty much from the get-go. No comfort zone. No bonding. No nothing. To this day. The woes of ordinary people… I simply can’t get excited about as the reality that I was thrown into had “FIGHT FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE, FUCKTARD!” written all over! How can you have empathy for someone who broke their fingernail? Got a root canal? Had regular surgery somewhere on their body that they knew upfront wasn’t going to be life-threatening? How can you put yourself into their skin when your own got prompted into survival mode from almost day one? With no help, no perspective, noone to help you make it through it.

I haven’t figured it out. I thought I had fallen in love. Turns out, she doesn’t give a shit about me. If she had known what a BLACK-HOLE-EVAPORATING ENDEAVOUR it was on my part to even TALK TO HER! Let alone find the other parts of courage that managed to kiss her? What if I told her that this is my equivalent of putting on a space suit and getting shot into “thin” – as in: no, zero! – “air” in the cosmos with only a tiny rocket ship for protection wobbling away under my ass? Millions of miles from home with no intercom? What if … she knew only a portion of that?

I don’t think, we’ll become entangled in any way, shape or form. I had so wished for it, though. Could have used some heart-warming experience for a change. A physical one, too.

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Unlucky in Love

Wow…. the things that reveal themselves to me after the veils of lifelong dissociation fall one after another… And now I find that I had to live to see 52 and for the first time in life experience, how it feels to be unlucky in love as in: Having fallen in love with her and she doesn’t love me back the same. Fifty-effin’-two YEARS! (That’s roughly 18.980 days, b.t.w….; others have checked off that experience in their early teens, possibly sooner)

But you know what: As crazy as it may sound I’m grateful for feeling this! Because I take it as a sign of having connected with my core self – at least more than ever before – or else I’d still be caught in my – narcissistic from the outside – bubble of trauma-dominated perspective. No? I’d think so. Because until here, most of anything I ever experienced were events and encounters that I only made from “extrapolating” other people’s behaviour and then finding the commonalities in that in order to arrive at what others consider “normalcy”, then try and adopt those behaviours and make it part of my own (where they resonated). You still with me? I mean, I’d be like an autistic person, watching other people interact, then find patterns in their behavior in order to get a faint idea of how people “work” in general. In software engineering this approach is called “Top:Down”: You look at an algorithm from the angle of what it does and derive the underlying mechanisms from that. I am aware how weird this will sound and come across, believe me: I know! But I’d rate it as one of my coping strategies throughout life in order try and make at least some sense of all the distressing and unsettling experiences I was put through.

For one of the first times, though – I think I’m a lot closer to living in the moment. And that means: Abandoning (perceived) control over everything and just taking things for what they are and then possibly respond to them for what they are. And I seem to have responded to a recent encounter with …. falling in love (while I had taken a personal vow after my divorce that I would never engage in any romantic situation….). But it seems to be a one way road. And this hurts more than I or anyone could have prepared me for. In other words: I just found a whole new dimension of pain for myself. And I’m …. kind of glad that I did. Means progress. Healing, possibly. At least, that’s how I’d like to think of all this. If you have thoughts on this, feel free to share them.

P.S. How was this one here different as I still keep going on and on about what I am feeling? Well, granted, yes. You could take it for another bout of narcisissm. However, this time it’s different: This is not about whether I get a chance at this or not. I want to be given a chance at her giving me permission to be loved – by me! I’m thinking about things like “will I be good for her? Will she be better in her skin for letting me love her? Will I always figure out how to make her – and keep – her happy? In other words: She is at the center of my thoughts and feelings. I’m afraid I’d have to say that I was immature enough all along not to have realized that this is just how things are between lovers: You put the other one first!

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The “Comfort Zone”.

Coming from my background and taking that yours is similar, I’d postulate that in this day and age and with the massive violence that is going on anywhere and against anyone and anything on the planet – people – and by that I mean: The 1st world – have/has forfeited their “right” to a comfort zone. There can’t be any such thing. There mustn’t  be any such thing. For if we are to prevail as a species, there can only be one currency: Compassion.

And compassion holds that it is not o.k. to lean back in your favorite recliner, AC running at full throttle while the sun is at full blaze outside, sinking your spoon into your favorite Häagen-Dasz icecream bucket, while reports of mass killings almost anywhere else on the planet are populating the news far and wide. How dare I? Well… o.k…. I’m being overbearing. For I haven’t known anything even remotely close to a comfort zone as luckier people have. (and I take it, you – dear reader – are ready to chime in on that). So… easy for me to come out at that, i.e. postulating other people shall be miserable, too.

But: Is it just bitterness? Hell, naw. I make it my mission not to be bitter in the face of devastating personal history and … while I think I’m coming around from the former … seeing similar “history” unfold every-fucking-where on the fucking planet! Personal bitterness, my ass!

Compassion. Means feeling what the other person feels. Or at least … trying to imagine their pain. You and I – we were forced to become experts at the latter. In order to protect ourselves when nobody else stepped in for it. In order to …. preserve the notion of sanity somewhere further down the road. In order to… survive.

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About Grace, Dignity and your Inner Beauty

A good “thing” happened to me recently. A good person, actually. It may turn out to be nothing but a fling – or: the beginning of another chapter of committed intimacy for the both of us. Fact is: I don’t know. The stakes are high. But – this blog won’t be about myself. (or at least not completely – I hope). I want to address you, dear readers and subscribers to this blog, and make this about you. How so?

Well. Some context first: The good person has a troubled history herself. (and since I’m not naming names or giving detail, I’d like to think that I’m being discrete about her and some of the things she shared with me in this short amount of time since first encounter about a week ago. Haven’t had a week like this in a decade, possibly two…). Prior to that week I had vowed back in 2003 to not even consider another relationship – or even just intimate encounter – after my marriage had ultimately fallen apart, thus marking the preliminary – or final(?), the jury’s still out on that – end to a history of failed relationships throughout my more or less adult life. I’m already going on and on about myself again, right? Bear with me for another breath, please. Point is: I have a soft spot for the “troubled kind” – and I can’t be sure whether there is such a category in the first place nor whether it is a very nice thing to do lumping people’s very individual paths together like this. And maybe I can find better wording, too: I have a soft spot for the caring kind, the ones who had bad – I mean, really bad – shit happen to themselves and still want to help others along and contribute to their well-being and thus transform their own strife into purpose, by selflessly providing their insights into overcoming the pain of the past and thus make the lives of others better. Or so I’d like to think, at least (about their motivation).

Braving your own struggles like this – and I have to say that most people I came across who were struggling with one or the other thing from their past had almost always managed to make themselves into the kindest, most loving, mindful individuals – and then sharing the progress with the bulk of humankind…: I can’t think of a more noble, graceful, dignifying thing to do with one’s life. Bottomline: Turning hurt and pain into love – I don’t think there is anything more meaningful, shy of saying “sacred” mission on earth than that.

All of you – minus the occasional fake profile that was only generated to create clicks and marketing potential – are like this: Everyday heroines and heroes, turning the bad shit of the past around, making yourself, me and ultimately all of humankind a better version of ourselves. You’re super brave, you’re worthy, you’re beautiful.

Thank you! For having incarnated and for being here. And for what you do. Thank you.

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