Yesterday, I wrote a blog, which I assume to have been some kind of – almost violent – call to “order” or something. It came from a place of despair as well as a small bout of excess encouragement, the latter arising from the relief of having overcome my fear of going into hospital (and hospital being the trigger experience to end all triggers…). In other words: A bit hyperbole. Dramatic. (what else was new…? ;)).
As I’m settling back into my day-to-day routine – if you can call it that to begin with -, I’m becoming more settled, more peaceful again. I’m sure, this is in part due to the aftereffects of getting heavily medicated at the hospital, flushed with antibiotics and all kinds of other substances I’m not even too clear about in terms of ingredients. So, I guess I’m somehow modulating the battle cry. I came back from the hospital thinking I could just do as I had been doing all my adult life: Pull myself together by all means and just perform and function. I mean – I guess, I could still do that, at least for another short while, but why would I keep violating myself like this? My point being here: It dawned on me that in submitting myself to thoughts of this nature, i.e. you got to go back to working full time, you have to be a part of society again, you have to make money and stand on your feet at all cost, I was and am still following standards defined by others, trying to abide by other people’s expectations. In other words: Hanging on to thoughts of this nature means perpetuating the abuse! That’s not healing, it’s actually counterproductive to healing and simply going back to (better) known territory. Terrible territory, abusive, violent territory, but… familiar in a way. Setting such “perspectives” for myself equals going back to survival mode in a setting that has been feeling threatening, hostile, dangerous, unsafe, unpredictable and in no way soothing or protecting of me and my true nature. In still different words: Not a good idea.
As I took my longer walk last night, a new thought began to settle: I have moved away from whatever previous identity I had fabricated for myself for the past 25+ years. That previous identity was carved along the lines of your standard model of a working citizen and career. I had been in and out of employment on payroll, alternated with periods of being self-employed, the latter finally working out best for myself – or so I thought, until I simply wasn’t able any longer to manage the inherent rejection, setbacks, denial, belittling, marginalizing and – abuse in different ways (like e.g. getting cheated out of money repeatedly, just to give you one example). Having worked as a project manager, consultant, technical trainer, technical writer, journalist, translator in the high paced IT industry seems to have mercilessly drummed on all sore spots in me in an ongoing, constant manner. I must have found ways of taking the vengeance away from those triggers or else I couldn’t have sustained myself for that long (like I said, we’re talking about roughly 25 years of being in that walk of life). But it simply became pointless to go on like that. At some point, I lost faith in seeing progress or a perspective for growing into something better, bigger, easier sustainable. The cards were dealt, my role was more or less set in stone – and it sucked and didn’t seem to offer any growth, not even careerwise. In retrospect and in being brutally honest with myself, I barely got by. This realization seems to confirm itsself through the experience of how quickly it all fell apart as soon as I shifted the focus towards self-healing and away from keeping the pace at the rat race. (hey, sounds like a song title, doesn’t it? LOL). It didn’t even take a full two years until about 40,000 in savings were depleted (largely on medical bills not covered by my health insurance) and until I had to file for bankruptcy in 2011, while trying hard to maintain a modest lifestyle and in keeping a very modest infrastructure running (Housing, computer, car. Food. Almost no socializing, no movies, no eating out unless invited, which I became reluctant and ultimately unwilling to accept, an occasional cup of coffee with someone here and there). Former friendships started to fall apart – not all of them, thank God! -, I started to recede on account of the associated stigma and the insane battle with the remaining fragments of a once well established and comfortable social security system in my country ensued. In hindsight, I have to issue a strong warning to anyone standing at the junction of keeping at it or conking out: Don’t! Not in this country anyway. You’re setting yourself up for a nightmare the scope and intensity of which you can’t possibly imagine. As things stand today, notions of Hitler and the persecution of minorities, disabled people, artists, scientists, queers and anyone not exactly fitting in to the agenda of the time abound again. I’m not exaggerating. People are killing themselves in the thousands from mere despair of seeing their livelihood and their entire life effort denied and stolen from them! Some are left to dying inside their scarcely subsidized homes, left without food and sometimes unable to come and collect food stamps. I’m not making this up, there are independent reports in the hundreds of things like this going on every day. (P.S. This just in: This is really happening. Try Google Translate to make sense of the story in German. A man kills himself for lack of seeing hope for a turn for the better…) Those of us in this country, who have fallen through the cracks of more or less ongoing employment are the new hated-upon minorities, along with immigrants, disabled people and basically anyone not showing up for work at 8.30 sharp. We’re even beyond stigma. It’s become a manhunt. But I’m digressing.
So, new identity. Well – that of the disabled guy. Ok, in all fairness: I guess I could do – a number of – things, in theory. Physically, I’m only partially disabled after overcoming – for now – some ongoing inflammation in the joints from a gout condition which had me immobile for a good deal of 2011 (the knees along with atrophy on the left leg, also from surgery in my later teens. I’ve never fully recovered from that). Which makes this condition even harder to deal with, because people will readily make all kinds of assumptions, usually along the lines of me appearing all well and then concluding I was unwilling to work or something like that. I’m not. It’s just become very difficult to find a setting in which the persisting triggers don’t sabotage all other effort and render me dysfunctional sooner or later like it happened in 2007 and sending me down this very rough road I have been on eversince. As a matter of fact, since going down the path of partial and ultimately full disability, I haven’t been able to think of a setting I might be able to adapt to in an at least semi-permanent manner. I think I am able to mildly socialize – when I can, that is, on account of a missing budget for that -, but so far, it would be unrealistic to commit to something on an ongoing basis as anxiety and the physical outcomes of still active triggers null and void the effort that goes into rolling them back (in this context: Hospital was brutal on account of that – the forced on proximity, the noise like doors being slammed, being at the mercy of complete strangers, the uncertainty of what was about to happen etc. etc. The retriggered trauma couldn’t have been any more complete, it was a nightmare!). However – this has to be my goal in order to become part of something again. Because being this ghost, this recluse… isn’t a mode of operation, either. I am grateful, I get to communicate and interact via this blog and the social media. I’m sure, this has kept me from simply losing it and going full blown coo-coo. But I need to see myself as part of something bigger again at some point (I’d love to play in a band again, once I’ve learnt to manage known triggers more effectively – with the help of medication, if necessarry, the latter of which I have not been able to obtain so far). Hence my decision to now openly talk about disability coming from this condition for now and making a contribution towards advocacy.
Isn’t it “funny” how being sensitive and feeling more and having suffered boils down to the equivalent of disability in this day and age? What about the inherent strength of having endured and survived? I’ll ponder this another time. I guess, I’ll eventually come up with a more detailed and dependable set of tools and qualities I have been relying on so far and which will hopefully serve as cornerstones of finding a sense of security from within, thus ideally enabling me to move about more freely again. I guess, part of the healing can be to assess those aspects that have seen me through and then identify ways and scenarios where they will come in handy as far as a new foundation to stand upon. Sounds like an idea?