Love Will Be the Death of Us — Dispatches from the Future — Medium

Notes on the end of my marriage.

Source: Love Will Be the Death of Us — Dispatches from the Future — Medium (Ian MacKenzie)

I had meant to revisit my apparent inability – or lack of willingness? – to commit to a romantic relationship and in doing so zeroing in one more time on the why’s and how’s of my own marriage’s ending. And then – I found this or should I say: It found me, quite miraculously. Not only touches Ian’s piece upon quite a number of moments in our own journey of committed relationship and ultimately marriage, it resonates with me for his willingness to find the good in something that slowly seems to become inevitable while the heart desperately tries to hang on to an attachment that is falling apart one piece after another. Sadly, though, I have not even attempted to forge a friendship or other form of somewhat more distant relationship with my ex, but pretty much drew the line after our divorce appointment at court. I guess, I had meant to elude the pain of realizing that we had not been the One, just like Katherine and Ian had to find in their difficult, painful, but at the same time utterly fascinating and brave, graceful journey.

For what it’s worth – I’m sharing this piece that has tugged at the most profound, rarely ever stirred heartstrings in me. And I bow to Ian for his courage of baring his soul as well as his phenomenal talent of putting words to feelings rarely visited, if ever.

(Post scriptum: Ian is quite an interesting man, I just find, with a number of very interesting, innovative projects going on. Check him out at http://www.ianmack.com)

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Major Insight

IMG_20160610_202314I had an insight today, which I believe to be the insight I had needed for a long time (it was in the making, but it only fully presented itsself today): I have been trying to prove myself worthy to my bio folks for all my life. Wow, that’s a humdinger! To think that almost everything I did, at least with regard to my choices of careers and lifestyle, came from a place of meaning to meet their expectations – or what I believed to be their expectations – … just leaves me speechless and my jaw drops from here to Australia…. And in addition to that: What took me so long to see this? Guess, it’s the abandoned child that still craved his heart out to be seen once and for all! Alas – it never happened. Won’t happen. Not in this lifetime (and where I’m concerned, this lifetime is all we got).

So. No more “proving myself” or trying to please. It’s gonna be rough and I have a feeling it is going to involve cutting all ties with them for reasons of mere self protection. I can safely say that I’ve tried everything over no less than 51 years. (Ok, minus the first few, unconscious, non-reflective years maybe, but that still leaves me at 40+ years of trying to get some validation. I think, this is a big enough time window even for the emotionally or otherwise most challenged individual. If it hasn’t happened till now, it never will).

I wish this came with a sensation of great relief… but it feels more like letting go of a love that is not reciprocated, so there’s some sadness involved, some humiliation, anger here and there and some other feelings I don’t wish to revisit. And I think, there I’ve just said it: My love, which was unconditional for the longest time, didn’t get reciprocated in healthy, nurturing ways. So I have no other choice but to turn away and find love in other places and from othet people.

After all this time, I think I can eventually give myself permission to move on and never ever look back again thinking what might have been, if just… it wasn’t what it could have been and unfortunately it never will.

However, fortunately I have found appreciation and even affection in other places and others people. But I must say that I’ve felt lost for so long. I feel the need to share this because I barely made it through these feelings of being lost and the actual experience of being neglected for the person that I really am.

If this resonates with you, I hope you can give yourself permission to let go and move on as well. It sounds so easy. But it’s the hardest thing to do, trust me on that. Nonetheless, it can be done. And if things stand for you like they do for me, I’d even say at some point it must be done – if you want to heal, that is, and if you don’t happen to be a masochist (which most people aren’t, I think). I wish you strength and positive new encounters!

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That Moment…

… when you realize (took me only half a century to figure out): The entire system loves you, when you’re disempowered (as in: down for the count), including immediate family, so called friends, the whole nine. Once you make a choice to no longer eat shit – you’re setting yourself up for a manhunt – with yourself as prey. And Jesus is offline. Just sayin’.

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Wrapping it Up (? / Triggers…)

IMG_20160326_184308_037I 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)

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The Month of Farewells

I arrived at my home folks’ place for an extended visit on April 15th. Two days later a friend, whom I had stopped communicating with about four years ago, contacted me via Facebook. He sent a photo along of a buddy we graduated from High School with and had been friends with forever. The photo didn’t depict him at all. The mental image I had in my mind was that of a life-embracing, adventurous, humorous, tall and strong man with a zest for life like noone I had ever known before or ever again. Instead, the picture showed the frail contours of a body that had gone through multiple treatments of chemo therapy, survived a stomach perforation on account of it and looked like it was marked for … its last journey. If they hadn’t told me, whom the picture depicted, I would have not been able to connect the dots of my memory and the contents of the image I was looking at. But it was him: My friend of old and until a couple of weeks, maybe mere months ago (that’s when his messages stopped coming and I had wondered, but not inquired about this just yet), Charles Richard Kolshorn.

I had first met Charles when this young man already larger-than-life joined our class in senior High School in this small town in the middle of nowhere. He had just spent a year abroad in the US and with this experience along with being bilingual – to the best of our and our teachers’ understanding – he was ahead of anyone’s “game” at this particular school – lightyears ahead! He also sported a grown-man beard at his tender age of 13, which gave him another bonus, particularly with the ladies, I should add. But above all and in between all these rather superficial attributes, I’ll always remember Charles as a really friendly person of good character and quite a degree of curiosity for just about everything that was outside the norm. You might say he was one of them soul-seeking-hippie-type wanderers, but – he put his personal spin on it. Never afraid of an adventure, never shy to burst into hearty laughter, whether the situation seemed appropriate for it or not. He had personality long before any of us even knew what that is. But he didn’t take advantage of it, not that I remember. Never. This was Charles. With a very sad stress on was. He left our earthly plane in the morning hours of April, 18th, after putting on a fierce fight for his life to end all fights. I feel honored I should have shared some part of the way with this guy and I’ll miss him forever… His immediate family and friends put him to rest on May, 14th. In retrospect I am so happy that I mustered the willpower and stubborness to sneek out from a group of press people in 2009 when travelling to TX and Dallas in order to spend some very few, wonderfully innocent and light-hearted hours with Charles. They were significant then and they are all the more significant now in light of his passing on. Thanks, man!

Fast forward to today. Last night, I peruse my Facebook, which – after having become disabled in 2007 and having lost most of my social environment in the process – has become a routine to keep me from going crazy with isolation. One of my friends prompts me to call him asap. It sounded alarming and so I did call him first thing after a long night out and sleeping in. The news I learnt felled me with terror and shock in one swoop: Having battled with cancer, this particular friend had received his death sentence from his doctors with the most “charming” statement: “You should have died two years ago.” And they gave him another few days without treatment and maybe a few months to live with all kinds of treatment modern medicine has to offer. He has just buried his wife mere weeks ago and now this. He meant to share these news with me first – or so it seemed – and I could hear and feel his terror in his as well as my bones…. The reaper makes no exceptions for anyone. You may have lived a life filled with and radiating love like him and his late wife did – or you might have chosen to be a villain. No difference. I think this was the first time I actually felt the reality of our mortality myself. And his is only weeks, maybe months away. To use his words: “There is a door marked ‘exit’ for all of us. But I’m not ready to go through that door just yet.” None of us is, ever…

So, I seem to have been elected for the most questionable and harder-than-anything-I’ve-ever-gone-through experience of being by his side for these last weeks or months. I am in shock, I am terrified – I actually feel all his terror night and day – and I don’t know how to handle this. Matter of fact, I might not be able to handle this alone… (Calista, Katya, if you’re reading this: You both grew into superwomen in those past weeks… just sayin’…) But my partner in life is no longer with me. I don’t think I know anyone in real life at this point, whom I’m comfortable asking for support.

I myself have been living with the outcomes of traumatic events that nearly killed me in the first weeks of my life along with more trauma when growing up (untreated to this day, I should add). Death or fear of dying has always been a part of every day’s experience – to a greater or lesser degree – in my life. But consciously seeing it happen – and ultimately being there myself – seems taking life’s and consciousness’ insanity to a whole other level….

Where’s the mercy in it all we got promised in the spiritual teachings of the world, I wonder?

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Cravings (Trigger Warning)

This was my day: Get up at 8.30 am, do my morning routine, collect two sets of clothes to change that I ironed last night, get in the car and drive to the set of the filming crew to do my little part as an extra, this time with one line of text and playing right opposite the main actors of a docu soap TV series that has been running for … I don’t even know. Most of the time, I don’t know the productions that I get cast for, but try to get an idea when I receive the briefing.

So I get there well on time, I meet the crew and the main actors (everyone is really nice!), we do a little rehearsal, we wait some more, we rehearse in front of the camera, we shoot the scene – and I blow it. We do it again after receiving another briefing – and I blow it. The main actors and the entire crew remain nice and calm, I keep apologizing, we do it again. This time the director seems more pleased, he talks to the main actors this time. Back to square 1, cameras roll, we shoot a.s.o. a.s.f. After about four or five takes it’s a wrap and you can’t imagine the amount of relief I’m feeling! I mean, the thing that stands out for me was the kindness and professionalism that the entire crew displayed – not just with me, but everyone on set. That in itsself was worth the experience, not to mention making a small amount of spending money.

So we’re done early (about three hours earlier than what the briefing said), I have some spare time, I call a friend who lives nearby, we get together over coffee and music and a chat, I buy a bottle of champagne for another friend who kindly invited me to her birthday bash later that day. Some time later I get there, say Happy Birthday, give her the champagne and a small something which stands in for another small gift that I sent her later and people come flocking in. She’s actually the same friend I’ve spent that beautiful spring day with a week ago and just like on that day, all her friends that I meet or see again are real nice people, warm-hearted with good spirits, most of them being artists or working a job in social care. I chat here, I chat there, I help myself to the absolutely crazy-delicious food that she and her room mates and family cooked, I afford myself a few shots of prosecco, the party keeps rolling and I feel like a human being again. It’s near perfect. And then…

In the midst of all the hoopla and casual conversations it hits me: This is the life everyone’s been living! Forever. Bonding. Feeling and being connected. Friendships. Family. Knowing what’s going on in the lives of others. Sharing, caring, communicating. Being human. This is what life is all about! There is nothing else! (or nothing more important, I’d say) And what have I been doing all that time? I stood on the sidelines for the most part, if not right out being all isolated for long periods of time. The outcast, the odd ball. Then I found a band in my teen years until High School graduation. So I was that: The musician (which I’m actually not, not by nature anyway. I think, I’m rather an introvert and a bit of a nerd whose nerdiness happens to settle on music or something like that. The talent some people see in me is a mere coincidence – or so it feels today. I remember times that I used to be religious about music, practicing at least an hour every day, most of the times more than that, learning the instrumental parts of songs I’d probably never get to perform live, memorizing the lyrics, the liner notes including all the musicians who had performed on any given track, the producers, composers, the label…  – but those days seem so far gone, I can’t even seem to access that feeling anymore. Anyway. Things change, people change, priorities change, passion comes and – maybe goes, too. Who knows. Whatever. I did my best with what I got. Always. This I can safely vouch and stand for at any moment of any day!).

There were times I’d be jealous. Crazy mad with jealousy and from infinite amounts of pain getting triggered at the sight of all that innocent, casual banter. Why the fuck can’t I have what seems so readily available to everyone else? What the hell have I ever done to anyone to be pushed to the outer rims – and beyond those – of everything that makes life worthwhile to begin with (i.e. human connection)? What atrocity have I committed to be cursed like this?  And: WHY CAN’T I EVER FEEL WHAT EVERYONE ELSE SEEMS TO FEEL? In other words: Why can’t I just … really resonate with all that? (On a side note: When cueing up at the cash register in a nearby supermarket after the filming, a young mother with two kids waits behind me. Her sweet kids keep putting items on the conveyor belt with such sobriety you can’t help but smile, while “mommy bear” comments on their actions with reassuring remarks like “well done!”, “good job!” I wanted to cry for pain… Shit like this still stabs me right in the heart)

Today, of course I know why that is (I have had single as well as multiple and then also extended trauma happen to me from early infancy right into adulthood and beyond). But before I knew, I sort of extrapolated from watching other people and somehow extracting from their behaviors and interactions, what is “normal” and socially acceptable and what is not. And so I figured out how to function in such a way that I thought I wouldn’t stand out too far (today I also know that I was deceiving myself with that assumption, but I think I can say with confidence that I’ve always done my best with what I got, but that “best” unfortunately still missed the mark of that place, where everyone else lives. That “place” might be summed up by terms like e.g. “serenity” or “safety” as opposed to “scanning the environment for threats”, being apprehensive or overactive, hyperaroused etc. etc.).

So, there’s that: I’m sort of enjoying myself the best way I know (and I’m really, really grateful and honored that I got invited to that B-day bash), probably – and with no intention of bragging or flattering myself – even coming close to that “social butterfly” phenomenon here and there and then still landing flat on my tummy in the midst of it all…. I’m here but at the same time I’m still lightyears away from everyone else – or so it feels. And the experiences that knocked me wayyyyy out of “their” ballpark, none of which were of my own doing or choosing, apparently were too extreme to ever let me “come back” or rather: come to that place that others never had to question or second-guess.

So I still crave …. their life, their joys, their excitements, their triumphs, their failures, even their mundane things, their normalcy, their – “bubble” for lack of a better word. I still crave all that as the “sensations” of my own life seem to be so far out of bounds of everything that most other people care about that I wonder whether there ever was such a thing for me as – healing. Or “coming back”, coming – home, actually.

Have you?

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The Soothing Vagus: How Our Wandering Nerve Returns Us To Calm – Reset.me

“The vagus nerve has the important job of ending your body’s fight-or-flight response once a stress has passed. That’s why vagus nerve stimulation is so effective for mood, and has been approved as a novel treatment for depression. Vagus nerve stimulation can also relieve migraines and rapidly quench inflammation.”

Source: The Soothing Vagus: How Our Wandering Nerve Returns Us To Calm – Reset.me

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