I think I’m arriving at a point in my personal inquiry into my past and its outcomes that’s nearing a point of closure. When I say “closure”, I guess I am referring more to a sort of surrender into the fact that things happened to me from early on that were not exactly conducive to a healthy development of personality and well being. I now know that I am not alone with this and I have encountered quite a number of individuals over the past (eight) years who have experienced – a hair shy of saying “suffered”, although I don’t like the “victim mentality” at all… – similar events in their personal biography that are not exactly of the “warm fuzzy” variety to put it very mildly.
When setting out to dig deeper into the outcomes of these events I set the goal to find the root cause of all my problems and then ideally go about removing those outcomes from my being, one by one, if necessary. Today, I may have to surrender to the somewhat depressing insight that I seem to have aimed too high in my ambition to heal myself and/or find appropriate help with the first. How is that? Well, turns out my current landlord is a medical doctor who happens to be in the process of preparing for exams to become a psychiatrist/psychotherapist. Yesterday afternoon, I got invited to a cup of coffee with him and during the ensuing conversation I revealed some of my ongoing struggles to him, which he met with the knowledge he has acquired by now about my particular path and its implications and potential treatments (and from having been sensitive enough to have gathered some of what I shared with him from the day we first met). As I tend to be quite the impatient one, I put my own story into a nutshell and bluntly asked him, what his take would be on my chances to find healing. I will try to recap what he said in my own words: The way I understood his response which he went at pains of articulating in the most mindful way possible would probably boil down to saying “Recovery per se is a big word, but you can be better. Maybe a lot better – until something bad happens again, at which point you are more likely than other people to hit rock bottom again.” (I have dramatized his words quite a bit in order to drill it down to that nutshell-compliant size and in order to describe the impact they had on me). I on my part replied by saying “you have basically put my life’s story into a few sentences.” (and in saying so I was thinking of the many break-ups of romantic relationships in my past, the many bossing and bullying situations I have encountered in the varying positions I’ve held and careers I’ve been in, most noteably hitting an all time “high” with personal drama when my ex-wife broke up with me for the fist time in 1999 and after getting back together together and more break-ups, the series of which ultimately resulted in our divorce in 2003. In all honesty, I don’t think I ever come around from this rather shattering experience, although I think I have come as close as possible for me to experiencing real, almost unconditional love with her. For this, I am grateful to this day. It happened at least once… )
What I mean to say with all this is: None of what he, my landlord and therapist in the making, shared with me as to where the science on our humans’ psyche stands today was big news to me. On one hand, I have lived through most of what he said for decades – and minus my divorce, I have gotten back up time after time after time…(as a friend once said not too long ago: “I think this is the nature of life’s drama, i.e. how many times do we get back up?”) On the other hand and from doing a lot of reading on the matter as well as having connected with similarly affected individuals from across the big pond and around my turf, I had almost known as much as he recounted from the big book he is currently studying as part of his preparing for exams coming up soon. Bottomline: Shit happened to me – and is likely to have happened to you reading this and/or following this blog – that should have never happened to anyone. Boom! That’s one of the haymakers I have put up with for all my life in the best way I knew (even without the research I have accumulated by now, I should add, meaning to say: Intuitively, I seem to have done anything there is to do when being forced to deal with a much less than fortunate biography. And yes, I am aware you can hit even worse rock bottom, e.g. you could have been born in one of the war torn countries etc. etc. I’ve always thought this kind of comparing one misery to the next is a blatant, most insensitive as well as condescending way of adding insult to injury and is likely to come from people who have never walked anywhere near our path. What is more, this kind of “misery contest” seems to display a general lack of compassion to me, read: It’s a cynical take on things). Second: There are things you can do, but they hinge on the presupposition that you ultimately need to have positive experiences in those vulnerable areas where the damage happened. I’d reference my own life incorrectly if I suggested that I had not had positive experiences with regard to the very sore spots, but subjectively speaking, they have always felt and still feel like trying to make a desert into a greenhouse with just one bucket of water. Besides: My efforts – I should rather call them capabilities – seem to have fallen short of what is needed in the realm of intimate relationships. Those damaged areas are that part of our being that identifies the bonding process – any kind of bonding – as a natural need. And by their nature and definition, a need is non-negotiable. It has to be met. Period. Without this, you’re up shit’s creek to put it quite bluntly. And the last finding leaves me thinking and feeling that those counterbalancing good experiences came in a number which was and is minor when compared to the crap that ingrained itself on my synapses. But even if I leave the self-centered, selfish, sort of narcisstic angle for a minute (and I have done so in real life, I’d like to think): My experience seems to tell me that I simply can’t offer what is needed here….!
However… it must be survival instinct or something, but I’ve never let up on trying! Side note in this context and this was another bit of wisdom he kindly shared with me, which made immediate sense to me: Scientists (behaviourists would be my guess) have found that on the subconscious level people exchange their entire mutual life’s history in the first moments of meeting! Whoa! Get this! You run into someone, you meet them for the first time and there is nothing hidden from one another! Spooky, ain’t it? And yet, this so soundly resonated with everything I have experienced myself in terms of human encounters that it was immediately apparent to me. (as in: No need to question any of this. I’ve been there. Plenty of times!)
So where does all this leave me – or you? I can only speak for myself here, but it basically sounded like this: You can get fairly close to where everybody else lives, emotionally speaking. There might even be times when life might feel like you’re up on eyes’ level with other people who had better luck. But when rejection happens, you’re more likely than anyone else to relapse quickly. Wow. I have experienced this very thing so many times in my life until now (I’m 51) that my life looks and feels as if it has been nothing but a neverending struggle for the most part. But I’ve clung to it “for dear life” (pardon the lame pun) as it were, where I attribute the motivation for doing so to nothing else but our “hard wired” survival instincts (And yes. I’ve tried the spiritual route, but there is too much hogwash going around in that particular scene…, so it didn’t help). These biological organisms that we inhabit will do anything to protect themselves – sometimes even others – in order to survive. But… there is a real disability in the most vital areas that is unlikely to ever really go away. (In hindsight, even the pretty spectacular recoveries I have heard about, like e.g. Rachel Hope’s, begin to look and feel a bit “doctored”, although I will not doubt that her subjectively experienced quality of life today is lightyears above anything she has gone through until she was finally and supposedly “cleared” of complex post-traumatic stress disorder in … 2007, if I remember correctly and telling from the currently agreed on criteria by which they diagnose the condition to begin with. On another side note: I think the condition per se is falsely categorized as a “mental” or emotional disorder. From my experience and research – look for Dr. Stephen Porges and the Polyvagal Theory here and here – it’s much more akin to a neurological disorder)
Like I said above, I had set out to find the root cause of my troubles and their remedy. Today I get the impression that I have dug up everything there was to dig up. I’ve turned every stone, looked at every shadow (Wink at the “spiritual types” again and their shadow work… ;-) ), looked into and tried to remove every layer of damage there is. I have come some way, I think. But I might have to find the acceptance in my heart that I can never come around all the way. Will this be good enough? I can’t say today. My life is one big pile of debris and although I’ve never been one to not pull myself together and get my ass in gear, on top of all my personal struggles I am now faced with the fact of having arrived in a situation, where the parameters in place equal a kind of lockdown, a prison-type situation (the nature of which mercilessly attacks all the hard work I have been doing and still am doing on a daily basis).
I am at a loss as to how proceed from here. I’ve asked for help many times, but was turned down or the help was not conclusive. Day in and day out it appears as if I have exhausted all options (and I can be really, really persevering, trust me on that!) I might not publish much more on here as I don’t see an exit route from the rather desperate situation that my life crumbled down to. But I will say this (for you, dear reader): As long as there is anything, any one thing that you enjoy, keep going! For me it’s experiencing nature and consciously breathing the crisp morning or night air, seeing a beautiful sunset, inhaling the sweet scent of firs, pine trees and spruce, feeling the soft grass on bare feet, taking a swim and noticing the water caress my skin while consciously taking one stroke after another. A good meal, a glass of wine, in other words: The basic sensation of being alive (and largely healthy, although problems with gout have resurfaced from not keeping as strictly to the recommended diet as I should). As long as there is one good thing to experience – do it for the mere sake of this: There is nothing else to do.
Thank you. (for reading, for following, for commenting and for sharing your insights with me over the years)