R.I.P. Susanne Preusker (w/ trigger warning)

Source: Susanne Preusker – Wikipedia (in German)

I am dazed and I guess in a state of shock over the news of Susanne Preusker’s passing. (she decided to end her life on February 13th 2018). Before I carry on I must issue another strong trigger warning especially to victims of sexual harrassment and/or sexual violence. I am writing this in order to honor Mrs. Preusker’s incredible accomplishments in dealing with the outcomes of major trauma. It is also an attempt for me to come to terms with her decision to end her life. I guess, I really am in shock and devastated over this turn of her journey.

I came across her story some four or five years ago when grabbing a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room to pass the time until I’d get called into his office. I don’t recall exactly what it was that made me pick this particular article. All I remember is that only a few lines into it my attention was completely fixated on the story at hand as I knew right there what this was going to be about: Trauma and its multifaceted results. (and I guess in retrospect I was longing for hearing about others, thus hoping to come tobetter terms with my own history)

Mrs. Preusker had been the leading psychologist at a major state penitentiary in Bavaria, Germany, working with some of the most dangerous criminals there are: Murderers and perpetrators of sexual violence. On the day that her ordeal was about to happen she was in great spirits, looking forward to getting married in about 10 days and determined to end the day a little early. One of her “clients” asks for an impromptu appointment with her, which she agrees to.

Her “client” is a convicted perpetrator of sexual violence and a murderer. She has been working with him for four years and generally attests to a bright outlook for her client believing that her work with him has “fixed” him and allows for him getting rehabilitated. Unfortunately, her assessment turns out to be completely wrong as he relapses into his violent behaviour with her right after entering her office. It takes seven neverending hours until corrections officers manage to regain control over the situation and liberate Mrs. Preusker from the brutality of her attacker.

Following these horrific experiences Mrs. Preusker (naturally) becomes unable to continue working in her former position. She develops severe PTSD in the aftermath and takes years to return to a semblance of a life that might appear “normal” on the outside and to the unassuming observer. However, her strength in confronting her perpetrator in court as well as her unrelenting stance of not letting him get away with half-assed, mumbled excuses and in addition to all that her courage to publish her story in a book ultimately sees her accomplish an incredible post-traumatic growth (or so I thought). Overcoming triggers one by one, reclaiming an ever-growing space of independence and autonomy, sticking to her truth while slowly allowing herself to become vulnerable again – she did it all. If I had to put her post-trauma story into a nutshell, I’d have to call her the “poster”-lady of post-traumatic growth for want of a better expression.

It devastated me to learn of her decision today to end her life a few days ago. I chose to post this as there is literally no information available on her in English and to honor her accomplishments and contributions to raising awareness regarding the challenges a person living with (C-) PTSD has to deal with. My heart goes out to her husband and son, whose incredibly sensitive and intuitive way of supporting her healing are no less impressive. R.I.P., Susanne Preusker.

P.S. I feel compelled to add this as going over above blog entry has me fear that some readers might succumb to another wave of feelings of hopelessness as her story might invoke a sense of despair in so much as the condition seems impossible to overcome. And yes, agreed, I’ve felt that way myself many times and I have a very hard time not to concede to the grim perspective that another tragic fall of one of our fellow soujourners seems to paint. But on the other hand I have been following the work of Maps.org, in particular all their trials and studies investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances coupled with heavy-duty psychotherapy and particularly where they focus on the healing potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients suffering from (C-) PTSD. Even more specifically this interview/podcast with the now near-famous Rachel Hope on Amber Lyon’s Reset.Me instilled the firm conviction in me that there are modalities out there – and in the progress of being developed as standard therapy – that actually remove the condition and its outcomes from a person who had very unfortuntate experiences happen to them. In other words I guess I am trying to say: Do not despair! We’ve come this far. It’s only going to be another very few number of years until this kind of help will be available in a standard clinical or outpatient setting. Myself, I’ve been living with the outcomes of PTSD for 53 years and it’s taken away everything from me! (But I’m still here and willing to fight and keep looking for relief until I take my last breath). Do not despair. Please. Thank you.

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Ten Years. TEN YEARS! Ten Years. TEEEEEN!!!

I think I watched the movie “Gross Pointe Blank” – of which above clip is taken – several times in sequence, that’s how much I enjoyed it! To me, it perfectly describes the absurdity and superficial quality of High School reunions and all the embarassing moments the latter keep in store. The movie ramps up the absurd quality of these situation to the max by John Cusack’s character or rather: His character’s way of earning a living. (I say no more so as to not spoiler in case you haven’t seen the movie).

The above clip is taken from a scene in the movie when John Cusack’s character has more or less just arrived and tries to find his way around town, trying to identify what’s still the same or what has changed and (re-) acquainting himself with the “lay of the land” in a manner of speaking (and a friend takes him on a ride around town to help with the latter). In particular I chose to start this blog entry with said clip because of the time span. It’s been my “ten years anniversary” of knowing about (C-) PTSD and consequently learning that I had been living with it for all my life. (53 years to be exact, minus two weeks into my life as an infant).

I am a solution-driven person – or at least that is how I think I functioned until about ten years ago. What happened? Well. Probably “nothing”. I just felt that the severity of my symptoms had surpassed a point, where I could no longer be sure I’d be able to have some sort of “control” over my visceral responses of my body to mundane day-to-day situations. It is grace to the process of educating myself (next to other sources) that I now know these are called “triggers”. The aspect that makes these triggers such a heinous threat to one’s wellbeing is: They might or might not kick in. You never know. You can’t know. Because you can’t navigate life by foreseeing everything. (although some people claim they can. Uhm… that would be subject for a very different debate…)

I’ve talked about these things and their implications on this blog. I set out to journal my story of healing – or so I thought coming from the – granted! – rather naive place of believing that I’d be given the opportunity to _get rid of the symptoms once and for all_! Well, by and large, my overly optimistic assumption doesn’t seem to be that naive. Prior to learning of Rachel’s (his-) story I had reluctantly begun to settle into the idea that I was damaged from almost day one and that I’d have to deal with the outcomes to the day I’ll take my last breath. Well – maybe not? Or too?

After ten years of trying very, very hard to get proper treatment and taking on an insane uphill battle with regulations and legislation in my country – and in the process becoming impoverished, having some of my legal rights taken off of me and becoming socially isolated for long stretches of the way, it’s beginning to look as if I had exhausted my options. I don’t believe in conventional trauma therapy (that I only have access to via inpatient therapy which is a retraumatizing situation altogether…) – and for good reasons so, I’d like to add and add here again amongst others – and so far I have not been accepted in a phase 3 trial with MAPS.org – who look more and more like my last option.

So…. I think I’m on the brink of concluding this journey (at least the blogging part). What have I gleaned from my trip into the abyss of my being? Well… things that come to mind easily are: I haven’t “imagined” this, I’m not a hypochondriac. Next: I’m by far not alone with these experiences and their outcomes. Third: (C-) PTSD is a debilitating condition. It is nowhere near being too “touchy-feely”, it is NOT a personal choice we make at some point in our lives (when almost everything else is, b.t.w.). It’s the outcome of other people’s actions and we’re left to deal with them. On the brighter side: There will always be cold people and good-hearted ones. Some of them choose their walk of life in the realms of helping others who are subject to a very difficult trajectory in life. In short: I’ve met people equipped with empathy – and in some cases with lots of knowledge and wisdom to support it – and … the other kind. It seems that the other kind is at the helm of things in this world. In short: There is no room for being less than 150% productive, no matter the reason or circumstance. I had that insight down at age … 14.

Now what? I have no idea.

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About to “book” an inpatient treatment. Feeling reluctant to say the least. Friend enquires: “What have you got to lose?” Let’s see: Time. (even more of all the quality I’ve already missed out on; money. Sanity – or what’s left of it. But most importantly: The “self” I’ve become through all of it. A damaged self, an “impossible” self to some, inconvenient to be around at the very least. But – at least I know that guy… Damn.

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The Plot Thickens

… and it reads: (Personal) History had one part. Experience the other. The result: It begins to look more and more like I have arrived in a place that there was no coming back from. That saddens me. The creator had other plans for me. (or did he?)

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Spirit? Or Simply Charisma?

The “number of times watched”-counter on this must stand at something close to “20” over the last two weeks:

It is soooooo inspiring! And devastating at the same time. Because: Here I see (fragments of) the life I failed to go for. Or missed out on. Failed to fully manifest. Call it, what you want. How so? Short excursion for context, then back on point (which is #nihilism):

I remember this: I touched the string of my uncle’s guitar at age two. I was sold! Was made to learn other instruments before actually being allowed to move on to guitar at age 9. (local music teacher thought my fingers were too short. They still are. Doh!). The same teacher then had the presence of mind to realize that I was “underchallenged” and asked my home folks to allow me to learn a second instrument. I wanted the electric organ. They thought – upon advice of said local music school teacher – that the piano would be a better apt choice. I was mad then, but I no longer am.

Fast forward: Come age 14, two years into my piano lessons with a classically trained local music teacher, sent to the “outpost” of my home town by the congregation she was paid by. Two years into classical training once a week and I was religious about showing up prepared. Nobody needed to tell me or force me. I wanted to be prepared and the best version of me I possibly could be!

Fast forward again: The piano tuning guy we employed once a few months tunes the upright piano in our living room. He makes me audition for him (unbeknownst to me then). I play a few things. He then does a hearing test. Says “Perfect pitch” (or at least very near, I was nervous). Offers me a gig with his Big band some 10 miles away from our home town and which toured internationally and made the press regularly.

I tried to negotiate. I said, I’ll gladly drop any other activity, if I’ll just get to do this! Join the Big band. In the end, I basically begged. No way. I was told it was beyond our very meager budget to take me to rehearsals twice a week. (I must say, from today’s perspective I can understand that). I didn’t understand then.

And now I’m watching above Jacob Collier at MIT for some 20th time – and can’t help falling apart over it every time. Because, deep down, where the gut feeling of any person – screw that “soul” bullshit! – resides, I know that this should have been my life: Join that Big band, go for some more formal music training after High School, then go on and land me a “gig” with one such Big band. Tour the world with them, make a comfty living, maybe teach here and there.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda… I know. But… it feels pretty bad to now realize at a progressed age that I’ve missed my calling in life (or at the very least: That’s how it feels when watching the video, not meaning to liken my modest chops to those of Jacob’s…). On the other hand: I’m probably making too much of this. Life is happenstance anyway. We’re all here for some random quantum fluctuations some 13.8 billion years ago. And we’ll all be gone in the blink of an eye. It really, REALLY doesn’t matter at all! None of anything! (I failed to include a trigger warning in the beginning, sorry….)

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Imagination Off the Charts: Jacob Collier comes to MIT – YouTube


Lost it. Again. Completely. Over this. Gonna have to figure out as to why that is. Or maybe not me. But the friendly…. uhm… shall we call her “practitioner”? Yes. I think, that’ll work.

update: Figured it out: I see a life, which I think I could have and should have had (spell: Vocation, purpose) – or at least similar to it – weren’t it for the limitations of the condition and general history imposed on me. I’m not seriously saying that I thought I could have been a Jacob Collier, talent- no, geniuswise. But someone …. maybe a little bit like him, although on a much more modest scale. Much more modest. The main point being: I see and feel the purpose in this. I possibly could and should have been my life’s purpose had I had better judgement at the crucial junctions in my former life.

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Women And I. Or: Why I’m Relationship-Challenged

Just had another very unpleasant encounter on Facebook (like so many before). It started with a posting that is a loaded one at this point as it addresses sexual misconduct and sexual abuse. (Yes, Weinstein, of course, what/who else).

Let’s be clear: Sexual abuse is wrong. It is a crime and thus punishable. Sexual abuse must not be tolerated. And everything that “happens” to Weinstein at this point should actually have happened a long time ago. And exactly that is what my posting was about.

As expected, commenting on the situation pushed some buttons. The sad part: Those buttons pushed made it impossible to really communicate. Some females invited themselves to commenting on all kinds of things that my original posting was not about. I as a male person apparently lent myself to being a target of projection of their own experiences with such misconduct. Again: Sexual abuse must not be tolerated. But… despite all my efforts to keep the “discussion” civil, it spun off into shaming and finger pointing and hate speech. In other words: I seem to have started a shitstorm against myself and the mere fact that I am a male person daring to comment on this issue seems to have been enough of a criterion to bring this about.

I will tell you: This is a very very painful experience. It feels like some kind of reverse verbal abuse. It hurts. It is scary. No effort of mine to find some common ground or to try and get back to the point at hand was acknowledged. Ultimately, it triggered a host of bad memories and feelings in me making me feel like I had no right to be, let alone express myself. Wow.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time something like this happened. Just recently, I had thought I had met someone again, with whom I might even dare to engage in a romantic relationship again, give it some time and all. Not for long. Very shortly into this, I had to realize that I as a person, as a sentient being did not matter to her. I was made an area of projection of someone else’s ideas, issues and problems again. I do not exist as a person for her! She does not see me at all. And again: This is not the first time. It’s been like this every time! And I think, I can truly say that every time I tried to be with someone that I’ve really opened up to them, invested myself, took all the risks, committed to the person and experience as fully as I possibly could. Yet…. time and again, I was not seen. And I can’t help, but wonder that it was like that for the very fact of trying to be as mindful as I possibly could. For doing my best not to put myself first, but the other. Result: Trampled upon, ignored, disrespected and ultimately: Discarded.

After seeing my ex-wife for the last time some time in 2002 until our ultimate divorce in 2003, I had this distinct feeling “That’s it! You’re done with relationships. They don’t work for you.” And this after every relationship – except one – that I was being walked out on. There were about 15 in their entirety throughout my life.

It is kind of scary to realize that I seem so damaged in that area that I really can’t make a romantic relationship with a woman work for me, for us. There were times when I’ve wondered, whether I might be gay (although I never sensed being attracted to men at all – vice versa, yes, but me? No. And I’ve tried to be open to the possibility, but that’s just not me.)

Love, romantic relationships, the very realm of human existence that seems to be at the core of all our societies, after all seems to be yet another realm that I just don’t seem to have any access to. That’s some scary shit, to be brutally honest.

But I’m giving up. It’s not working, never has and very likely just can’t work at all as I seem too damaged in that area. Yikes.

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About God ‘n All.

OK. People seem to have a need for worship. Can be their Chevy parking in the driveway, their kids, their spouse, their … I don’t know. Fill me in. Whatever. There seems to be an innate need for worship built into human beings. (who – sorry… spoiler… – are just another breed of mammals that #evolution thought up when it didn’t have anything else to do with #time….)

I as of late found that I’m worshipping squash. Yes. No kidding. Squash. As in: Pumpkin. Or Japanese/Hokkaido pumpkin. Or as in: Butternut. (It has the #nut in it, so that naturally appeals to me…).

Matter of fact and point I’m trying to make: We worship that, which or who feeds us. God – “sorry, Sir!” – doesn’t have too big a part in that where it concerns me. (I hope, that godhead doesn’t rely on ego as the mere mortals and rest of us do…). So, with this being said: Sorry, God. You lost over…. pumpkin. Get over it. You’re the big guy. You can do it!

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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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