#mentalhealth_awareness_month: The first thing I’d change about this is the naming: It’s not about the mind or mental healh – it’s about emotional injuries and their consequences for a person. Call it “emotional diseases” or “emotional injuries” or whatever else. I don’t think, my mind was ever impaired in significant ways. When emotional distress is taken to the extreme, this might bring about conditions, where a person is no longer able to function in a consistent manner, agreed. Still: That’s emotional distress and a lot of neo-cortex’ activity taken hostage or circumvented from it. All of that is normal healthy behaviour and a result of how human beings are “wired”.
That’s just about the best explanation in laymen terms I’ve ever heard about the complexities surrounding brain chemistry disorders like e.g. PTSD and addiction! And seeing as I come from a lifelong history of untreated chronic PTSD, over the past years I’ve buried myself in the latest neuroscience’s research on those debilitating conditions. But since I’ve been made understand that our societies can accept “winners” only and is ill-equipped, if not plain incapable, of actually making compassion a basic code of living together, I’ve started to go back into the closet about it. However, since Debbie Bayer does such a tremendous job in making PSH’s suffering understandable for everyone, I can’t help but share this. And I couldn’t possibly chime in any louder on her closing statement: “For this, like all addicts in this situation, he deserves our kindness and compassion.” That, and accurate treatment.
As of late, I’ve given myself permission (again :rollseyes:) to let go of any hope that I’ll get to find validation from bio family, let alone make good on it – ideally mutually and thus process our collective trauma – because I’m pretty sure they have their unprocessed residual trauma content. What an idealist fool I keep being over and over…
Anyway, as I read another posting from a friend’s blog, I seem to find that I keep being triggered from hearing about friends’ journeys. And I was triggered (badly) a few weeks ago when hanging out with someone in real life. In other words: I am now faced with the fact that there is a vulnerability in me I can’t do anything about. Not really. I mean, sure, there are all these “wonderful” CBT/DBT derived ideas of making yourself aware that whatever situation triggered my feelings in the present moment has nothing to do with the old, original situation. Are you kidding me? I know that much, thank you! But noone – not that I can remember – has ever told me what the goddamn fuck to do with the pain, with the rage, with being flooded with unpleasant feelings that are an accurate emotional response to what was done to me! If in your present day life, someone treats you poorly, you have a variety of options: You can respond with rhetoric or physical aggression (I advise against the latter, violence never solves anything), derision, sarcasm, genuine humor – there is a number of behaviours you can use in order to address the situation in whatever way suits your temper and personality best. Right? But that old shit – has passed already! I even went back along the path of my emotional and mental memory and allowed all bottled up feelings of abandonment and fear and despair coming from the first to come forward and out of my system. I’ve gone to those painful moments and investigated and actually lived and expressed my feelings – for myself, though, as the involved parties wouldn’t ever join me there, that much I now know for a fact. But that “hole in the middle” as someone called it – is still there. It hasn’t healed or closed up. And it can’t! Because seemingly “irrelevant” day to day situations tear open this old wound that wants nothing more than finally, eventually be left alone! (True healing could only happen, if the perpetrating parties acknowledged my feelings then, which has become utterly clear they will never do – or are simply incapable of meeting me there on account of their own fucked up hearts and minds).
Without much further ado, I’m trying to get to the point, where I’m thinking that going back to being in denial – as a general course of action – was, is and will be my best bet. As far as desensitizing: Other than the fear of being rejected and singled out (abandoned) again, I think I’ve pretty much been exposed to other triggers so frequently that the “hyper-emotional” response got ground down to null or just a mild one, as in: Like other people respond to certain situations, who don’t have to deal with events triggering a cascade of old emotional content surging through the system. Except for this one thing: Fear of abandonment and its adult equivalents, i.e. being bullied, singled out, sent away. That shit seems to be ingrained in my system so deeply that all I can do is not to think about it. And best not get triggered, either.
Which… has me thinking, whether I could make better progress if I stopped journalling and blogging and interacting with similarly affected individuals, so that I may safely go back to being in denial over my past. In other words: I seem to have fared better when simply pretending I didn’t have a residual emotional injury. This worked fairly alright along the lines of being functional. It will never work in a more intimate setting or relationship, which means I’ll have to stay away from that (I pretty much vowed to myself, I’ll never have a romantic relationship ever again after my divorce of exactly 10 years ago.)
“Sometimes, shit is just shit”, said the same friend I quoted above with the “whole in the middle”. And maybe I’m best advised to simply find the acceptance of seeing my past as “shit happened”. And it happens to many people…
I get the feeling I have exhausted my options. (I keep saying that, I know).
(This blog may trigger potentially unprocessed feelings in you, so please be advised and read at your own discretion and responsibility. Thank you)
I’ve been dreading this for the longest time: The insight that any chance of “fixing” the relationship with bio family or even creating something new after having moved past injuries endured – with or without therapeutic mediation – is a futile longing of mine. Yes, a longing, a heartfelt wish. For some time and when embarking upon this process of “sorting out the gargantuan mess that is me”, I had resorted to a stance of holding grudges, even allowing myself (violent) feelings of retribution enter my heart. It was a start. It might have equalled the emancipation from the role of the beaten-up victim (figuratively and in a mild context verbatim) and finding my “inner cowboy” as Jean calls this ego-state. In other words: Anger bordering on – potentially violent, luckily never carried out – rage was a beginning, a first step in finding authentic healing.
While being engulfed by this ego state and subjecting myself to lots and lots of self-abusive and debilitating behaviour and the latter from still being haunted by unresolved, unconscious patterns of auto-aggression/self-destruction thus perpetuating endured abuse, I had required a “cease and desist order” status between me and bio family to the point, where I once indeed threatened legal action if they so much as performed one single act of “crossing the line” by contacting me without my prior asking for contact! It is only due to very unfortunate material circumstances that had manifested in my life at this point that I really had no other place to go to in order to ask for some monetary help prior to moving from my previous abode to this one and the latter having become very, very urgently necessary, as the other place had become pure mental, emotional and physical torture with my nerves laying bare beyond a degree I had ever encountered before. In very brief and appropriately dramatic words: Sooner or later I would have totally lost it over there and most likely become physically violent in a major psychotic fit…. Luckily, I was able to force impulse control on myself till the very last day, but one incident one week prior to my actual moving out reaffirmed the necessity of this undertaking.
Anyway, I had asked a friend to cover the realtor’s fee for me and I’d pay him back in tiny chunks. He let me down. (No, we’re not friends any more, as he was well familiar with my situation on all levels and also aware of what it would mean for me to have to ask bio family beyond just swallowing pride, where the latter was such a minor thing to me from where I stood at the time that I wouldn’t have even mentioned it…). So I had no other option than ask them or … risk falling apart and by doing so possibly creating irreversible things to my and others’ detriment. I hate violence and I don’t think it ever produces any lasting positive outcome, so I rather did the unthinkable at the time: Asked family for monetary support. Unthinkable, because in my mind I already knew the strings attached, which were having to allow them closer proximity with me and be involved in some things pertaining to my life (including such seemingly minuscule things like “suggesting advice”…). I was in major conflict, of course, but then thought to myself: Who knows. Maybe something really good can come from this. I wanted to believe it and I think, I’ve done my best to create a situation where we might have built something new from it and really just “putting the past behind us.” I wanted to make that happen!
Sadly, I now have to realize: It is impossible. And this so for a very basic thing: We can’t communicate. There is no channel available, by which real communicating ever happened or can happen now. I’ve tried. I’ve met them not only half way, but two thirds of the way, ultimately all the way and the latter by never addressing any of the injuries I did feel and endure at the time, but wasn’t able nor allowed to ever articulate properly (can you say “double bind”?).
A few weeks ago, I even stayed at my birthplace with them for roughly ten days – I had the last three days to myself there. It felt like tiptoeing on egg shells and it made this gap between where my authentic self is, was and will be and the inevitable abuse I had to take in early years painfully evident. So evident in fact that I fell apart when leaving. I think, in my heart I knew then that I had exhausted every option I had ever been able to see, use or create in this regard of enabling us to really communicate. We can’t… talk nor feel each other. What’s worse, I think, we all want to, but we can’t seem to find a way. My entire emotional “make” is simply too far removed from theirs (as to the latter: I recently came across an author writing on the subject of what it’s like to be an empath, which is similar but not equal to Elaine Aron’s concept of the hypersensitive and hypergifted person. I believe – no, I now know beyond a doubt – that I fall into that category. You could almost call this phenomenon “clairsensing” and it comes strikingly close to telepathy. For more information on this, please find her book here – unfortunately, so far there’s only a German version of this. I had deliberated offering my services as far as translation, but don’t feel emotionally balanced and strong enough at this time to actually go about such a large and important project, although another part in me is bursting at the seams to do it, because it is my story! [and that of many others, too, of course])
So, here it is: I’m letting go. I give myself permission to remove myself from what I believe to have been a co-dependent relationship. I let go of hoping to be seen by those, who should have been closest to me (and physically were for a long time). I’m giving myself permission to confront the fear of feeling emotionally isolated and separated from the bulk of people. In this regard, finding Gitta Peyn and her community of followers and readers as well as collaborators and friends comes with immaculate timing. I don’t feel like I’m tumbling down an infinite abyss of loneliness and emotional separation borderline isolation any more. This in itsself provides some healing already next to the relief of finally being heard and seen in my being’s entirety – for the first time ever!
Letting go is also saying farewell – at the very least to that hope of finding some common ground and a common language with bio family. I have alluded to it time and again, but didn’t seem capable to see it through. I hope, I do now and won’t turn back again, whatever the price may (still) be.
… call for desperate means. OK, admitted: I’m a bit dramatic with this allegory, true. However, it is no exaggeration to say that despair has been a part of this journey more often than not. And again so quite recently, where I seem to recurringly settle in a place of frustration from not really making much progress. Yes, I’ve found, applied and to an extent perfected the tools in place to keep the symptoms in check as best as I can. Yes, I know how to put things in perspective for myself. And yes, sometimes those seem to work well enough to calm the mind. But the emotional tax, the rollercoaster, and more than anything, the solitude and thus isolation coming from this persisting injury have become too much to bear! I can’t continue being the recluse I have become and the latter simply for “social hygiene”, for making it easier for others to put up with me – by removing myself, when I think I’m too much of a burden. (the last thing you want to hear then is that you are being a burden, which happened to me recently… and yet and again, I have to rise above myself and be the bigger man, telling myself that the person in question could not have known about the impact…. I’m digressing, so I’ll drop that thought right there as I have spoken about it here anyway.)
But this avoidant behaviour slowly kills me. It chokes my mind and heart to death. I need to find a way to either overcome or better handle the recurring depression and the latter – and this became crystal clear to me – is there due to unprocessed and suppressed emotional material from the past, that material being: Acute fear of impending death! It seems, I can’t “reconnect” the “chipped off” parts of my emotional bodymind, can’t heal myself into becoming whole again without going to and through that fear again, without feeling its overwhelming weight and without allowing myself to emotionally respond to this and then have someone walk me through the plethora of emotional flooding.
So I need to actually do this. I need to resume the process of comitting myself to inpatient treatment. I have been abhorring this for the longest time as the very situation and idea of a clinical stay has a strong triggering quality to it. But given the catch 22 situation with my health insurance plan, which won’t cover expenses for outpatient psychotherapy, I have no other option left than at least giving it a try. I still shudder at the thought of seeing myself inside such a place, with dozens of similarly affected people, undergoing the same still-in-place routines I have been experiencing for the first time at age 20, when my batallion’s army physician recommended psychotherapy to me, which resulted in a four-month long inpatient stay that yielded zero results! (Other than more emotional injury from finding myself neglected even there…) I guess, you can see, how difficult it is for me to even just think about going the inpatient route… (trigger plus scorched earth from experience… damn…).
Well… there is no other option. I have to find the guts to do it. I actually had a nightmare about this tonight, as I thought of comitting myself last night as well and from seeing me give in to yet another eating binge including some mild alcohol abuse and concluding that I have no control over these binges any longer – none. And they happen as a form of self-medicating the bottomless anxiety that came to govern me day in, day out. Not only doesn’t it work all that well any more, it is of course a physically unhealthy course of action (albeit I try to eat healthy, but some “foods” simply don’t deliver on the quickly sought “high” and “fix”…)
Ok, today I have commenced the formal process of checking myself in. I gather there’ll be a waiting list worth months or more, particularly so as one of the nearby hospitals didn’t even bother to call me back about this again… So that tells you something about the situation as far as availability is concerned.
Sheesh. Society doesn’t seem prepared to deal with “us” efficiently yet. Or maybe just for a few, more prominent, well-defined situations. Hm. Ok, gotta brace myself here. “Fixing” whatever can be fixed about me first. I can always come back and try to fix “the world” at any later time…
The truth is: I am lonely. The truth is that I have too much time to contemplate. The truth is that I can only self-motivate for so long. When I fail, depression is ready to kick in to a lesser or larger degree. The truth is, analyzing and researching my condition and its possible causes has brought only a few new insights, but not to the effect where I have an all new, all efficient angle to alter it. The truth is, only taking action can change things and along with it change perception, feelings, outcomes and thus state of mind and heart. And the devastating truth is that I simply lack the means and the budget to do so as my situation impoverished me very quickly. I can’t socialize any longer to an extent, where my life becomes less solitary confinement with my small cell a.k.a. appartment, equipped with bathroom, kitchen, heating, internet, TV, where the latter two have become my primary sources of communicating with the outside world.
The truth is: I have gotten singled out. I’m no longer part of the game and the system seems designed in a way that says: “We don’t want you back here. You’ve had your shot and you blew it. Go away, stay away, and if possible at all: Die silently and do it fast.” The truth is that most of my anxiety is from realizing this last part, this reality. The truth is: I am scared shitless.
I can compartmentalize. I can calm myself down, tell myself that I still have some options and freedoms left. I can deceive myself in this way, when I don’t have any real options left that can make a crucial difference as in: A road back to self-sustained living. I’ve been employing all options I’ve had or found. I’ve knocked on every possible door. I haven’t taken no for an answer, when “No! Not you!” was the only answer I ever got. I have fought, I have battled, I have not given in. And I keep fighting and battling with an overpowering opponent, who’s controlling all the cogs in the wheel. I’ve deliberated anything from camouflage as in: flying under the radar to openly resisting the legally allowed pathways. In whichever way I look at my situation, the answer is the same: Defeat! “You’re defeated, son!” I have taken my talents, my life force, my willpower and applied them to the challenges at hand. I’ve done so like anyone else for my entire adult life. I have even managed to conceal a debilitating condition from the public eye and function as best as I could nonetheless. And I even won a few battles, inspite of it all. But ultimately – or so it seems – I’ve lost out. The constantly dripping leakage from that hole in my soul seems to have drained all personal reservoirs of resilience. Exactly July 2007 was the time, when something ran out on me. Was it willpower, was it the energy to uphold a put-on act, was it quite simply youth that had elapsed? Whatever it was, after that I was unable to continue to function. Tentatively speaking, I think it was the latent frustration of fighting so hard without getting anywhere, of rolling the proverbial Sisyphean rock uphill, only for it to slip and roll back down only inches away from the mountain top. And in part, it was probably and quite simply the collapsing strength of going against seeing myself rejected and getting singled out time and time again.
I have now become a ghost for all practical purposes. The phone never rings. The influx of messages is wilting. The feedback on postings is vanishing. All channels of communications are drying out, drip by drip by drip. At the end of this process is a mind slowly getting choked to death, with an ever decreasing number of moments in which I wonder, what the fuck went wrong and when… I can’t seem to find any other clue than this: It is me who is wrong. I don’t belong here.
P.S. One truth I forgot to mention: I’m mad. I’m raving mad. At everyone, including “god”. And myself, of course.
It’s been a week since that emotional SNAFU. I am very slowly coming around from that. It’s somehow almost fascinating, how profound the effect of a mere trigger can be. A week! But I shouldn’t go beating myself up any more like I used to. Used to be weeks and months. And it not only set off a cascade of emotional regression to early on endured neglect and the ensuing depression from that, it may have given me some new insights – or at the very least confirmed existing ones and reminded me of those, too. Fear of rejection – or more precisely: fear of having the outcomes of that initial rejection replayed in my heart – is at the root of social avoidance, over-controlling behaviour, walling myself off and an entire host of more coping strategies, therapists usually are quick to denounce as false coping. Which brings me to another problem I don’t seem to have found a solution for, yet: All therapy and their underlying ideas that I have come in contact with or that I had the misfortune of undergoing to no avail, seem to have one central illogic in common: They seem to inherently establish and reinforce a power balance that automatically entitles the therapist to take higher ground over the patient. What I mean by that is this: Most, if not all therapeutic models seem to assume that the patient is “in the wrong” with their entire outlook on relationships, society and the world at large, like saying “Look – where I am standing is where you want to be, as well.” Maybe I just had bad luck with therapists and only came across the incompetent ones. But it seems to me that there isn’t enough credit for the fact that a patient has made it until here on their own! In other words: Whatever coping strategies and tools they found and employed – have worked so far! In yet different words, I miss a therapist commencing treatment by reaffirming the patient in their current state of mind and heart, in their current position in their journey. Like I said – maybe that happens somewhere else and you, my reader, were lucky enough to have come across such personell. I haven’t. Which produces my dissatisfaction borderline resentment and unwillingness to further comply with the process by which standard therapy – in my country – seems to work. There’s always this power divide, e.g. “I’m up here, I’m well and happy and successful – and you’re down there and you need to shell out your money in order to come see me and have a part of where I’m at.” Or something like that.
This latter thought crossed my mind after seeing my hypnotherapist friend two days ago. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I have benefitted from his treatment and he’s incredibly giving and generous in having treated me at no charge, when I wasn’t able to afford treatment any longer and found my health insurance plan exempting outpatient treatment from its terms. I mean to say, I’d hate to sound ungrateful, because I’m sure that I not only learnt to trust my own intuitions and bodily as well as emotional signals more and work with those, he also was the only person who gave me an opportunity to share things that were heavy on my heart for a long time (and prior to starting this blog, for example). I guess, he was crucial in my digging up suppressed feelings and understanding the crux of my being some more. However, when I shared last week’s let down with him, we immediately focussed on “getting away” from it and on the CBT/DBT stuff of understanding that my cognition or rather: My emotional response was not in line with the actual experience that triggered it. Well… yes and no. Of course, the person in question, who shared with me how she felt a need to recede from me at the time, because I was “heavy”, can’t know what effect this would produce in me (well… I think, in her particular case she could have had an idea, at least, which makes her insensitive in my view at the very least… but that’s another story). Of course, she was still interested in me (was she? Is she? Really?). Of course, we spent a nice evening right until that moment. Yes, I understand and see all that! But – there is a fragment of me, a “chipped off” part of my psyche that was hurt beyond comprehension and not only was never given the chance to heal, but more importantly wasn’t even ever acknowledged in its hurt! That part of me, that person at the time, when something grave happened that got him/me derailed, is still in that place! And alone! And isn’t even given an opportunity to say “Ouch – this hurt!” And be met with at least “It did? I never meant to hurt you”. Or something like that… (unless I was indeed meant to get hurt, which then defies any further discussion, of course…). B.t.w. and digressing for a minute: In writing all this, again, it seems to confirm to me that validation of suffering endured is not the predominant idea in any kind of therapy. Because the medical description for having “chipped off” those unacknowledged parts of self is “depersonalization“. Are you fucking kidding me? I was voiding myself of the person I am/was? How is that even possible? No, I – or anyone having endured similar things – simply compartmentalized the pain upon understanding that the perpetrator didn’t give a flying fuck about my pain in the first place! How does that establish ridding myself of personality? In fact, compartmentalizing like this – at the expense of henceforth shutting off some “emotional circuits” – is an accomplishment given the circumstances at the time! It is an accomplishment in so far, as adjusting behaviour to a situation of abuse enables the survivor of abuse to carry on and largely still function! As an accomplishment, I think it should be given its due credit first before moving on and finding ways to reconcile those hurt parts and thus ignoring the still standing, de facto injustice and wrongdoing! A patient should be allowed the pain to come out and then for the therapist to help process this pain and assist in processing substantial and valid grief from real and valid loss of a part of one’s life, one will never have back – ever! Like I said – maybe all this happens with a good therapist, whom some of you have hopefully met and been treated by. Maybe I was just shit out of luck forever – and keep finding myself in a situation, where (partial) rejection – even from the therapist – has simply become too much to bear one single more time. Last week has reminded me of the fact that having a trigger go off in this thoroughly scorched place is a completely inacceptable and devastating non-option, because it keeps putting me back in the place of a victim. And I’m soooo over being a victim.
I might have to carry on by myself, largely. Therapy – the kinds I have encountered – simply doesn’t seem to offer anything of value – as in: help – to me.
P.S. Disambiguation: I keep talking about rejection, when I actually meant fear of abandonment. Or rather: Fear of encountering the full spectrum of despair I must have felt over the intial experience of abandonment in infancy and a few more times later on.
P.P.S.: I also realize that I am highly prone to therapy. If only I could get access to it and find a therapist who really have their shit together. It’s been too many let-downs in this regard as well, it seems. I might have to keep doing “ole grumpy” – and find a funny, humorous angle to it. Or something like that…. hell, I have no idea.
I’ve been in touch with Dr. Schmidt since 2009, if I remember correctly. She had appeared in a 4-hour TV documentary on depression and PTSD. Right after watching the documentary with my breath being held, I researched her contact info and was thrilled to find that she operates in my vicinity (Munich, in this case and I live about 40 mins. out west from the city). All the more disappointment when my phone call with her ended in her turning me down for treatment!!! And this on the basis that at that point of my own research into my history I was left to assume that the residual, neurobiological – and hence physical – outcomes of my PTSD had been caused by very early events in my life that happened in the infant stages, where neurobiology maintains that this is prior to developmental stages that support active and conscious memory. In other words and to put it simply: I had believed that the originating trauma happened at a time before I could remember it and so I was shit out of luck, to put it quite bluntly. Based on this assumption and my reporting thereof, Dr. Schmidt didn’t think that there was any angle from which standard trauma therapy would prove efficient in my case. Again – shit out of luck doesn’t even cut it… I was devastated!
However, since I had to learn to be tenacious to the point of masochism only to survive, I wasn’t ready to let things stand in this bleak a place. And so I continued to investigate into my own history, into developmental psychology and all sorts of approaches that explain how memory is accessed. From mere despair I even opened up to concepts of the spiritual in order to hopefully find an angle there, which I might be able to use for my recovery. And I did something else, of which I believe to have yielded me hints and emotional “markers”, which I now believe might turn out to be crucial cues for further treatment – if they’ll accept me in, that is! I would voluntarily seek exposure to feelings that got me in closer touch with my own long suppressed trauma content or rather its emotional outcomes.
In order for this to make sense, I need to create some context at first: I had established a certain fixed routine in my days, which I’d use as “anchors” in the world out there and to replace missing internal, emotional rooting which didn’t get seeded (enough) in me due to an at least partially dysfunctional upbringing (partial neglect, severe verbal and emotional abuse, some mild physical abuse, too). A part of this routine included treating myself to a nice meal in the evenings, while enjoying a movie along with smoking and quite a bit of drinking at the time. Truth is that I was up to one entire bottle of red wine every night, sometimes followed by several shots of hard liquor. Since I’m also suffering from hyper-uricemia, the fairly heavy inebriation resulted in debilitating and very, very painful joint inflammations that eventually produced almost complete immobility to the point, where I was barely able to make it to the bathroom in time, let alone go visit a doctor for treatment. I had to be treated at home, since my foot was so swollen, I wasn’t able to put a sock or shoe on. At one point I was really stuck at home and on the verge of becoming a full fledged nursing case. And this at 47…. go figure.
Anyway, the inebriation helped to once again unlock the carefully hidden empath aspect of me. This would eventually produce major meltdowns and breakdowns, which sometimes had me in a crying fit for hours. The intensity of these emotional breakdowns had me understand that clearly I had touched upon something else than mere compassion for a – fictitious of all things! – character on screen. I hence concluded that the particular movies that had this effect on me must have had something to do with my own unprocessed emotional issues and residual outcomes of trauma, both single occurences as well as the prolonged abuse going on during my upbringing. (On a side-note: This is why I consider myself to be a survivor of both PTSD and C-PTSD, where the jury of medical experts is still out on deciding on whether and how to distinguish the two and whether they’re two distinct outcomes along a spectrum of disorders and emergent co-morbidities).
So now I had an emotional “GPS” of sorts, as I keep calling it. I would keep exposing myself to such experiences on a semi-regular basis, say every other week or so. And I kept at it for a while, until one day somewhere from my unconscious certain distinct images would resurface that took me all the way back to my first weeks on the planet and to that time, when I was treated for maldigestion at the pediatric hospital near my birthplace. My mother informed me that they sent me there two weeks after I was born and on account of my being unable to hold down food. (It wasn’t until 42 years later that another doctor tells me, I’m dairy-intolerant… and since I was fed with formula instead of being breast-fed, I naturally and quite expectably threw up the food my system had been incompatible with from the beginning. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the idea, what my life might have looked like, if I had known about this sooner… ). The images that would come back revolved around me as an infant in a completely alien, if not hostile environment. After all, I was there alone with strangers, my parents allowed to come visit once a week for an hour or so, but never allowed in – I would only get to make eye-contact through a glass pane, with them frantically gesturing towards me inside. (On another side note: It must be from this experience that later on I would choose for activities as coping strategies, which involved lots of exposure, like e.g. being a performing musician. My young psyche must have “figured out” or “concluded” that survival depended on those two familiar faces reappearing in that window in order for me not to be doomed for death. Because the hospital stay involved intrusive exploration and examination, like two spinal taps, with one being in the area of the upper vertebrae in order to tap cerebral fluid to be examined for a potential infection. There was tube-feeding for weeks – major warning for graphic content, if you follow previous link!!! – and whatnot… In other words: A torture-like situation, which I was left at in total helplessness and with the uncertainty of whether or not I would make it out alive… This would clearly overwhelm anyone! Much more so a newborn infant…)
Another thing that seems to have helped for these images and feelings to resurface from the subconscious bodymind is hypnotherapy, which I am happy to be treated with by a doctor, who has also become a friend over the years. Both these approaches – following my emotional GPS and having gotten trained in inducing mild trances – seem to have released bottled up emotional content from the very early, initial past of my physical being. I was surprised at the visual clarity with which these images would come forth: Complete sequences including all sensory input like voices, ambient noise, smells, feel of textures, the lighting situation etc. – it was all there and present!
By having dug up these early memory imprints I now have access to the prerequisites of standard trauma therapy. Hopefully, they won’t turn me down again and that I’ll eventually receive the treatment I’ve been needing for … well, all my life. Wish me luck!
update: They indeed turned me down again – and for good! Unbelievable…
So, I’ve learnt (again) that next to my C-PTSD, I’m apparently an empath. (Yeah, right – as if I absolutely needed things to be any harder than they already are and have been…). It should explain, why I’ve been so tirelessly and desperately trying to ameliorate the poor relationship with bio family. It also seems to be the place, where my attempts in practicing forgiveness comes from. But that’s a tangent I’m going off on… and I will stop being an empath or if so, then use the gift to my advantage. I’m about to cross over to the dark side as I’m fed up with being beaten down, getting burned, taken advantage of, singled out, isolated and all that to the point, where all I can think of is to kill myself! That shit is over! I’m going to have my piece of this fucked up pie they call human life! (In case you wonder about this angry approach: I have no other choice!!! The system in place in my country really doesn’t offer the help I would need and potentially benefit from. I have been investigating this for the past four years!!! The options I found aren’t selling me over enough and coming from previous negative experiences with the system, I simply don’t trust the medical folks any more in being a real help with my deeply rooted issues! I must do it on my own, or else there won’t be any change any more…) And this all the more so, as last night I yet again received a potentially life-changing offer to perform my music in the U.S., this coming from a booking and artist relation management agency that sounds, looks and feels legit. Urrrggghh…, I’m getting tired of having to turn down one opportunity after another. Why would I?
But before I can think of actually responding to something like this, next to getting back to a musical grind, I must think of a plan of how to best conceal some of my issues or blend them with the very real challenges I am going to face before setting out to coming back to playing music live and as often and as much as possible. I think I’m really safe to say that I have my emotional issues largely in check – except for situations that have the capacity to turn romantic. I’m going to have to find a good excuse that will avert any potentially interested person (not meaning to blow my own horn in a bout of narcissism, it happened before, it might happen again, where I can’t have that happen, with the stress being on never, ever, can not happen!) Some of these “special needs” issues to manage and keep in check include:
- Existing food allergies and nutrition, where some foods equal poison to my system with equally devastating effects as far as my being functional is concerned. Example: Even microscopic amounts of dairy in the form of processed food ingredients halt my abdominal tract for three days. I mean HALT it! You don’t want to hear about the outcomes of that, much less have to be near to experience them. I don’t, either… and I’m glad I found a good doctor to help me remove those terrible physical effects by telling me that my system was incompatible with dairy. I only learnt after having been living with those terrible physical side effects for no less than 42 years… Life would have been totally different for me, had I only known sooner.
- Sleep. That’s a biggie! How can I relax enough and to the point, where I can find at least a few hours of good sleep every night in a situation, where even healthier artists report getting little to no sleep? Or can I trust my system to self-regulate enough, where I won’t collapse from fatigue?
- A need for at least brief moments of retreat, reclusion, quietude – like a temporary sanctuary, where I can have a few minutes every day in order to go to that inner source of power and connect with it enough to recharge the batteries? That’s a tough one, too, when you know, you’ll be surrounded by people almost 24/7 while being on the road.
- Working out. In order for my system to be well-balanced and remaining able to muster the energy it takes to give a lively performance, where I’ll also appear as if I enjoyed myself, I’m going to have a minimal amount of a daily workout routine. I do three sets of push-ups and squats every morning, so these shouldn’t be a problem, once I desensitize myself to eager eyes and annoying commentary in case of travelling on a tour bus (which I think I can do). But things I’ve come to enjoy and almost need for myself, like my near daily bike ride of about 15-18 miles, doing a thorough lap of swimming (about half a mile, if possible) will be a lot harder, if not impossible to replace. There may be hotel pools in some places, but am I going to have enough room to really do some serious swim practice? Will they be built large enough for that? Am I going to get to use them at times, when they are less frequented? That will have to be a case-by-case endeavour, which cuts into the overall energy required for being a people person in general. This might remain a problem, possibly an insoluble one.
- And then the list of standard/routine things to be taken care of outside of my special needs list, of course. Like practicing, staying in touch with management and other vital contacts, interfacing with other artists, fans, promoters, radio hosts….
I make it sound as if I was already there, when I’m not. But it doesn’t take all that much imagination to make myself of the reality of life on the road, although I’ve never experienced it on that level of artistry and management. Like I alluded to in the beginning, affording myself to even think of something like this – which in itsself will likely sound overbearing to some ears – comes from yet another time, when I was offered to work with artist management on behalf of performing in the U.S. This time, the offer came from an apparently well-established firm, who have been working with artists I’ve been admiring for the longest time! Actually, they have worked and do work with artists, who have been a major influence! If they think I belong there, who was I to say I don’t? On the other hand, I’m not naive and realistic enough to know the personal as well as beyond-personal, professional challenges in that walk of life, where in regards to the latter I definitely fall short of some at this point. I could get by, but I am no longer willing or ready to settle for any form of getting by. All or nothing at all! How much of that approach is due to internalized expectations of formative figures or my very own nature, I can’t say any longer. And I frankly don’t care to analyze or explain. All I know is that doing things in a half-assed way simply doesn’t work for me. I need to explore the limits of pretty much everything or else it’s not worthwhile being explored at all. I guess, it’s my very exhausting and peculiar approach of coping to rise above someone else’s ideas of me in my former life. Or something like that. Be that as it may – the list of things to manage stands. And has to be worked through, one by one, if I’m to be serious about this. And I plan to…
I went to have a jam session with a musical friend this afternoon. It was a spur-of-the-moment/telepathy kinda thing. I met him for the first time around 2001, 2002-ish and had a gig with him and another former musical collaborator, which went fairly well. I reconnected with him while staying at my parents’ place. And last night after listening to my original material he suggested we meet up to jam together.
God – I had forgotten how good this shit feels! How in the here and now it gets me and how all depression, insecurity, anxiety and whatnot fall by the wayside when strumming that axe and bustin’ out a tune! It felt as if no time between my early twens and now has passed. No, wait – it felt better! A lot better as I have successfully removed some of my physical ailments, like allergies and abdominal problems. So, yes – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself, although we couldn’t play much longer than 90 minutes as we first have to agree on material and as both of us come back from not having played live or in a band for some time. But that shouldn’t be this much of a problem.
The reason for posting something as arbritary as this here is that I got reminded how I had risen above and in part overcome the outcomes of C-PTSD by playing music. I must have felt the energizing and reassuring effects of playing in a band right away and it was enough of a kick to make me want to forget about all the rest and my “peculiarities”. More accurately: Musicians always treated me with appreciation and respect! They never belittled, derided, degraded me like I had to experience so many times in my later career(s)! And somehow, being a musician must have brought out the real, genuine person I was and am meant to be! I was whole, complete, sane – as long as I was immersed in playing and practicing and so on.
So here it is: I have direction again. I know my path. I also remember the downsides and some of them will be harder to deal with now, others a lot easier. I don’t fool myself into thinking this was going to be an easy ride. But where has it ever been easy for me? Or when? Never. The difference here is this: Music brings joy – not only to me, but to those involved with it, which includes the audience. It brings joy for me and other people. It’s a kind of service to humanity, too, I think. And I can do it if I put my mind, heart, effort to it.
I feel the wish and need to put myself back to the grind, though, and become a stronger instrumentalist and also beef up the music theory and sightreading/-writing skills. In other words: I am no longer satisfied with just “getting by” as I did when I was younger. I feel a wish to explore the limits of my gift. All of that plus managing the condition in a very hectic other-directed environment should keep me busy enough not to experience bouts of depression for too long. And if I do, it looks as if I had a new herbal friend in my corner now, tentatively speaking. Because that’s the other thing: As long as I keep moving and doing shit – I’m alright. Once I become stagnant or locked into a place or process for too long or if things slow down too much – I lose drive and interest. (which b.t.w. is the reason I never really thought about a conventional career in the first place – I feared its monotony too much and felt rather willing to put up with major adversity borderline chaos than get suffocated from boredom…).
I have direction again. That’s all I’ve been asking for. Thanks to – whom- or whatever 😉
P.S. Don’t mean to rub it all in, but this seems to coincide nicely with today’s Reverbnation charts for my profile, which are – as far as I remember – the ever best ranking I had so far for instrumental music on Reverbnation. Nice. #grateful mode 😉