sanity

vagabond superstar

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lanterns

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.
Buddha.

firstly, ii would request that all readers also read mark olmsted’s blog regarding the passing of phillip seymour hoffman at question marxist. mark olmsted – aka the trash whisperer- touches on the very core of a major challenge with living in recovery- emotional sobriety. people with addictions – both active and arrested- remains the most complicated and treacherous path that I have walked and that those ii walk with encounter.

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What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?
Buddha.

there are moments in which the clarity and cruelty of feeling are so uber-pronounced and omnipresent that frozen only begins to describe the fear and uncertainty that follow. sometimes an exchange of words or ideas will give a glimpse of unknowing that feels just like the chill of a visiting spirit. someone may something to me that ii am not clear how to take and ii will panic- not because of what was said, but more because of the not knowing how to proceed.

it may turn out that I struggle with emotionality for the rest of my days. it gets easier and the frightful crazy part lasts shorter periods of time. but as mark olmsted points out, it is not how we feel that creates problems, but more how we think we should feel.

walk

Emotional Management

There is no feeling without a thought. There is no feeling or thought without a corresponding physical response. We are not many. We are one.

It is a mistake for any of us to so divide ourselves into segments that we lose the sense of ourselves as holistic beings. There is no thought without a feeling. However by singling out a specific aspect of how we as people function, in this case the emotions, specific care can be given on that aspect. Feelings have the power to both take us to heaven and pitch us into hell. Feelings are perfectly capable of telling us the saving truth as well as sending us on the road to destruction. Feelings are powerful. As with all powerful things the task is to control and manage that power so it works to the person’s benefit.

Feelings must be understood for what they are and where they originate if the person experiencing them is to gain a life of sobriety, balance and serenity.

Topics covered in our various products dealing with emotional management:

  • Understanding the anatomy of emotions
  • Learning to feel long repressed feelings
  • Discerning if the feeling is telling us a useful truth
  • Not allowing feelings to be the sole dictator of behavior
  • Steps to gaining emotional management
  • words and thoughts by ernie larsen

move this

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It was unbearable. He had lost himself so often that  last year in chicago that he felt spun.  Disconnected, suicidal, and wretched were the accessories he pinned over his heart. There had so many lost hours, so many broken promises, to himself and his friends. And his table was set with so much sadness that empty would have seemed a banquet in comparison.

He was packing up a U-Haul full of his belongings in the middle of the night. He was at his wits end and felt like he was running out of options. He had been slipping further and further beyond the lines he swore he would never cross. He had been running in quicksand for a couple of years that seemed like lifetimes.

The death of a mentor and friend, the loss of innocence, the confrontation with morbidity and with his own moral frailty pummeled him with the power of a tsunami and what remained as the tide receded was stuffed into that 12 foot moving van headed for the West Coast. Even though he didn’t know what lie ahead, it had to be better than the hell-hole he had fallen into. He had been having an ongoing midnight ménage-a-trois with cocaine and vodka so often that it had become almost impossible to tell the three of them apart.

There had been so many nightmares that swam past him during that storm in his life. Ghouls and goblins and shadows and monsters were all very integral pieces to this shattered puzzle he had become.  He was headed west with no plan other than get the hell away. He had remembered a conversation with his friend Freddie about the onslaught of the virus. As their friends and neighbors slipped into oblivion around them, Freddie had said that the only people he knew that were surviving were the ones that left the city.  Freddie’s words might have germinated this escape plan that was hatching.

However it came to be, here he was, standing in the driveway, piling the last of his belongings into the truck when his landlord slipped up behind him and asked if he was going somewhere. When the driver and his bestie rented the place, they had planned on living in that spectacular wicker park brownstone for as long as they could. It had never occurred to them, or their landlords, that one of these young men would fade so early and the other would be so tragically torn between following his friend and changing the odds.  He certainly hadn’t wanted to talk with the landlord, but here he was, with terror in his eyes, relaying his plans and assuring that the new tenant would make things good. And the new tenant did.

Our hero remembered standing in almost the spot a year prior when he and his friend were moving into this gem of a place. Paul had been feeling oogie and looked beat.   At one point he sat on the rear gate of that U-Haul and tried to catch his breath. He actually never did catch it that day. He went into the hospital and didn’t leave for 34 days. That was how. PCP, thrush, AIDS, Kaposi’s, and candida all became members of their family.  Unspoken terror and uncertainty unpacked their suitcases and took up residence, too.

Once Paul died, he unraveled fairly quickly. He struggled with having dreams when his friend could not. He felt survivor guilt even though he hadn’t a clue as to its meaning. Sometimes the only option is to run. It may not make any sense. It may not even work out, but it is the only breaker in the box that hasn’t been pulled. The power is out and something drastic is required.  The only glimmer of hope for his scratched up viewfinder was this U-Haul and the change it was meant to create.

coming up easy

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i had breakfast with my friend alex today at hi-rise.. it’s a new sorta deli located in lodo. i love the place actually. it’s down the block from SNOOZE which always has a long wait, and i just think hi rise is much more fun and easier to manage… and i like doing things a little differently. always have…

we talked quite a while about how life is progressing. he has been sober about a year longer than me, yet sometimes i think he is miles ahead of me. he is struggling with many of the same issues i find myself in a quandary over. living life on life’s terms is how it could easily be said. but the living is not quite so easy sometimes. we both agreed that things are much better now than they were when we were fucked up all the time, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting everything to be just the way we want it now.

damn there is so much wisdom in the understanding and application of this. i know the things i am worried about are friggin fantasies, yet my crazy brain keeps drifting to the what-ifs and stepping onto the platform of crazy. and i do it repeatedly and  as second-nature. then i also wonder if i have spent so many years living in drama, both external AND internal, that maybe i just go to crazy places in my head because i am wired to do just that. just like a betsy-wetsy doll.

anyway, the validation i got from my pal today is enough to get me through a few more days. i am doing better, no matter how uncomfortable it feels sometimes. and if i am crazy, at least i am TRYING to get better, which seems a nice departure from all the crazy people i encounter who AREN’T trying to change anything.

this is my favorite single from the last Paolo Nutini CD. I love the lyric-” it was in love i was created and in love is how i hope i die”…. i  wholeheartedly second that….

play ball

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in the camp film “twilight” bela is invited to play baseball with the cullen family during a thunderstorm, as that is the only time they can really play during the daytime not only because the cracks of thunder drown out the incredibly large “crack” sound their bats make hitting the ball, but also as the dark clouds block the direct sunlight from landing on them. i find this particular scene from the film not only very stylized with a monotone colorized quality, but it also connects to something in my psyche.. now i can see that there is more than an obvious reason why.

i have been constantly had ptsd triggered since i got sober. it is powerful, it is numbing, and it’s almost completely crippling for me. the feelings that shroud me during these periods cause me to withdraw almost completely from my life. i become obsessed with personal safety and a cloak of anger circles me which keeps adrenalin flowing and helps to keep me in a watchdog state. and when i am paranoid and angry i feel safe somehow.

god, ain’t this twisted? seems so to me. so many times these “triggers” have come and i have continued to try to play my game of life without any of the sunlight of spirit present. i am acting on instinct, and my brain is leading the way. i have pre-determined how these limbic pathways travel, and on cue, they perform like a domino setup.

it kinda goes like this. i will be in a regular kinda state and then some strange thing, usually a remark or an action by someone else will cause me to go numb. i will sit in the situation for a few minutes, but start to detach and almost as if a cloak of invisibility covers me. then i will physically withdraw and isolate for a bit. i will go over the situation over and over in my mind. i will justify by own words or behaviors. and i will find anger and when i find this anger, i feel as if i have found home. it’s not physically comfortable, but the uncomfortable qualities are very familiar… almost primal. 

and i may stay like this for days or weeks.. sometimes longer. the rest of my life will come back into focus, but the interactions and my relationship with that person will stop living and become still life, just like a fetus in formaldehyde at the state fair freak show.

only now, after several years of clean time, am i able to simply recognize this pattern. i am not clear what all causes it. i know it is primal and began at a very young age. i am sure this is how i survived most of my tween and adult years. it is hardly a wonder that i turned to getting loaded to ease my way through. but now the challenge is to find new ways through it. not unsurprising is the fact that my old coping technique eventually failed and i feel blessed that recognition of this pattern is commencing. one upside to all this is the existence of a desire to let it go. now if i can only find a map to get me out of here.

and so here i am, periodically lost, with sanity sometimes slipping away into oblivion like the mists of avalon. and when this happens, it is very much like having to play baseball in a thunderstorm. so many distractions and very little sunlight to help guide my way. thank goodness for hope.

a tiny flame arose tonight
and in it spoke of deep sorrow and pain
a tiny flame arose tonight
it started off as one
then grew to two and three and four
the tiny flame of sorrow and pain
grew into a light of love and peace and tenderness
and now together the flame will purge the sorrow and burn the hate
and send it all away
so that for this night the tender of the flame
may rest in peace

Dana …. reposted from http://www.hopeforhealing.org/

i love this scene from twilight and i love the accompanying song from “muse”