Ritual, Routine, and Prayer as a Guide for the Subconscious

In Manifest , I mentioned some basic philosophy around manifestation, authenticity, and facing one’s fears in order to heal one’s subconscious emotional material, effectively stopping this emotional material from influencing your actions and beliefs, thus allowing you to consciously craft beliefs that are more aligned with what you are manifesting.

The next step in the process is action.

For me, the difference between a good day and bad day can be as simple as waking up at 8 or 9 o’clock versus 11:30. The sense of time lost and things not done from waking up late gives me existential anxiety, perhaps worsened by the fact that I just turned 30. In truth, I’m so excited to be thirty. My twenties…well, they were fun but I’d never do that shit again. I feel like I’ve barely come out this side alive and even then I’m still standing here catching my breath. If my life were a video game I’d say I like to play on hard mode with nineties cheat codes and my twenties were like Laura Croft on PSP, good idea but the controls sucked and the rebirth of the franchise went to shit until PS3. Get it? 3? Like 30? Three is where it’s at.

All joking aside though, the number 3 is a big deal. The rule of 3 in Wicca is that for every finger you point at someone else you have 3 more pointing back at you. We celebrate and acknowledge three in the concepts of mind, body, spirit. We name three in calling upon the Mother, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 3 is known as the holy trinity.

In Betty Bethards Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding, the text says, “dream has a spiritual message.” One excellent way of discovering our subconscious fears and working through them gently and easily is with dreams.

Try this, before going to bed at night, intend with a conscious breath, to dream tonight. Sleep with a journal by your bedside, and perhaps some mugwort (either tea or you can burn it like sage but it smells kind of like weed. Don’t drink mugwort tea if you are pregnant). If you have a dream book, great. If not, I would recommend being choosy about your book if you are going to try this out. My mom, her mom, and my sister and I have all used the same dream book, the one by Betty Bethards mentioned above, and it has made for some great conversation between my sister, mom, and I. The symbols are numerous, simplistic (which is good), and follow a Jungian archetypal model, so I believe many people in the western world can subconsciously identify with it’s symbols as they are as cultural as they are individual. I tend to think that the simpler and more common the definitions, the less suggestion is involved and the more we are allowed to interpret the meaning of a dream on our own. So, that’s the next step. Write down the actions of the dream, the sensory details, whatever you can remember upon waking up. Then look up the symbols in a dream book that you resonate with and see if you can uncover the story your subconscious mind is trying to work through. Write down a story about it. Connect the dots. Craft meaning. Doing this as a daily practice has had tremendous results for me, allowing me to stay present during the day, conscious of my self-talk and my inner narrative/dialogue, and dreaming regularly does wonders for creativity and opening the third eye chakra if that’s the kind of lingo you’re into. This is also a tremendous way to practice crafting a conscious narrative about your life, something that does change yourself and the world as you influence and are influenced by it. Perception is half the battle or half the fun depending on how you look at it. Ha.

Which leads a bit into the next point: Ritual/Routine.

Oddly, we can train ourselves like dogs. We are creatures of habit. When I work on the line, my line is set up the same way every day because if we get busy, I want to know where the pickles and the squash and fennel and dressing and dessert and cheese and sauce and fig compote and everything else is at without having to think too hard about it. Having things in place (mis en place) and knowing one’s mis en place can be the difference between a smooth service and a disastrous service. If I know where things are, I’ll put a salad together without even thinking about it, leaving my mind open to listen to expo, call back, organize plating next tickets, whatever. It just makes life easier.

Similarly, ritual is as effective, if not moreso, in changing our minds and behavior as routine. Routine is good as long as you are working for what you want or what is good for you…whatever. But sometimes we find ourselves in routines that need to be broken.

Ritual is like holding a tuning fork to one’s heart and soul. I like the good old fashioned Wiccan practice of drawing a circle around me, thanking each of the elements and each of the directions, and then simply clearing my head, asking for guidance, and meditating for a short while, focusing on my breath. Holding my hands in prayer at the heart chakra or palms up on the knees is centering as well.

I very much like to use crystals, herbs, cups, candles, incense, and or sage in my rituals because giving ourselves sensory reminders of what intentions we are setting during the ritual creates more neural pathways to this memory of setting this intention and therefore reinforces it.

If a ritual like this is too hokey or woowoo for you, something as simple as a bath, a walk, a sit at the park, a meal, or a dance can be a ritual, so long as you set an intention.

To me, routine is the track and ritual sets the direction, so if you find you are in a routine that is taking you the wrong direction, ritual is a great way to reset the arrow. Doing a big ritual on a full moon with some friends full witch style or just going to a body of water by yourself to take a dip are just as effective.

Try this: Get a piece of thread or string that is a pleasing color to you. Tie it around your wrist or ankle and just let yourself feel what the color inspires in you. If it had a word what would it be? If you could picture yourself feeling this way, what would you be doing? Where are you? Now, every time you notice this thread, stop and let yourself breathe in that picture.

Here’s the deal: if what you are picturing is very much out of alignment with your life, you’re probably going to start noticing those blocks. For instance, if one notices the thread in a business meeting, imagining a trip to Thailand could feel awful since you are not in Thailand and won’t be for quite some time. This then equates negative emotions with the envisioned vacation and, if you ascribe to the notion that emotions are the tuning fork for the frequency one is manifesting, the response from the universe is vacation=badfeels and we do not get vacation.

It could also be inspiring. The point of this exercise is to inspire but it can backfire. You are responsible for crafting the narrative. Positive breeds positive and negative breeds negative. If you are envisioning something and telling yourself it’s impossible on a subconscious level, that’s the vibe you’re putting out. I might recommend starting with something small, like picturing yourself eating breakfast every morning or something. We often need to prove to ourselves that we can do little things in order to do bigger things, so it’s okay to take baby steps.

I’m fully aware how out there and hokey and bogus a lot of this sounds, but I wouldn’t be writing it down here if I hadn’t tested and practiced these methods for the better part of my life. That’s another story for another form of media perhaps. I’ve approached these philosophies with skepticism and tried them with as much objectivity I could muster and can say that they have helped me and others and my life is richer for them.

Lastly, I will touch on Prayer. Rebecca Campbell in her book, Light is the New Black has an entire chapter on prayer and, indeed, spells out a lot of concepts I touch on here in a user-friendly guide sort of way. It’s a tremendously inspiring book if you are into the concept of manifestation.

Prayer was something I felt forced into. Always. When I was younger, the concept of the ruthless Christian God was lorded over my child psyche and my hands came together in prayer because grandpa said so. I believed for a little while, and then decided being in fear of god was no way to live. I returned to prayer a couple years ago because I nothing was working. I surrendered and prayed to a version of the universe or god or grace as I had come to understand it, and my life changed. Drastically. Quickly. Tremendously. However prayer is something one comes to in one’s own time. I remember being encouraged to pray and finding it distasteful, so if you do not pray, that’s okay. I think if we do come to it, we do so through surrender and sometimes we are not yet ready or willing to surrender our egos to our souls. For my part, prayer, routine, and ritual are the nuts and bolts that were necessary to lay the groundwork for building a better life than the one I was in and remain tools I use to plant the seeds for what life is to come.

Do you have other tools or methods for laying the groundwork? Have you used these tools before?

May you plant some good seeds today and cultivate those you are blessed with.

Lens of Perception: What’s Your Real?

For anyone who has been reading here for a while, a lot of what I do is explore how intention and action become results, especially when results seem to come as unintended consequences of accidental actions even though they are the results we were looking for in the first place.

Our subconscious brains fit pieces together while our conscious brains go along clumsily omitting and stitching together pieces of experience to create a story that makes sense to it, which usually means that story is missing something.

I set out, when starting dualnaturehuman, to discover what we left behind as part of our human experience in adopting our rational mind, western world view and I have encountered some profound lessons since starting.

1: I actually want children (my biological heart wins out over my rational mind and I think this is the norm for human beings, not the exception. The heart wins!)

2: My curiosity around psychosis, psychedelics and plant medicine was pretty close. Jeremy Narby, an anthropologist from Stanford who studies the medicinal plants of the Ashaninca in the Amazon, discovers in his research of their plant medicine and lifestyle that these people experience the hallucinations of their world on Ayuhuasca as real. What’s more, he discovers that these people enter a state of awareness that allow them to be aware of what is taking place in their bodies on a molecular level so they can understand what exactly the plant is doing in their brain and how to synthesize it. And finally, these people are also not the exception. They are the rule.

3: The snake is representative in many tribal and Amazonian and ancient cultures across the world (via Joseph Campbell, who this Narby guy references fancy that) of the fissure between the two hemispheres of the brain, of DNA, of the “ladder” (double helix) that let man descend to earth from the heavens and ascend to the heavens from earth, and that this DNA activation is essentially what is happening when Shamans in these cultures participate in plant ceremony.

I’ve been trying to find the blind spot and Narby identifies it as plant medicine, furthering his claim by explaining that because the spirits and beings that the Ashaninca people see in their hallucinations are accepted as real, because the world of hallucinations is as real if not more realm to them than the merely rational world through which the western lens is aimed, they are capable of learning from their own DNA things that our ancestors new and things about plants that our own pharmaceutical companies can only rip off, synthesize, and profit from with a minimal degree of success in comparison to these tribal healers. Again this guy is from Stanford University so this isn’t just me rambling or making conjecture as usual.

Remember that Kundalini snake I told you about some time ago? I’ll put that post up here if it’s not, but I was talking about this snake and Joseph Campbell and how the snake is representative of our collective ability to individuate ourselves from the archetypal parents and become self-actualized, excerpt the western world has forgotten those rights of initiation?

In his research, Narby discovers some research about the cosmic anaconda in the mythologies of the Desana. He quotes Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff from the book “Brain and Mind in Desana shamanism”:

“Within the fissure [between the two hemispheres of the brain] ‘two intertwined snakes are lying, a giant anaconda (Eunectes murinus) and a rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria), a large river snake of dark dull colts and an equally large land snake of spectacularly bright colors. In Desana shamanism, these two serpents symbolize a female and male principle, a mother and father image, water and land…; in brief, they represent a concept of binary opposition which has to be overcome in order to achieve individual awareness and integration. The snakes are imagined as spiralling rhythmically in a swaying motion from one side to another.”

(Narby 57).

Imagine my surprise upon reading that this search for what was missing, this language, this individualization and this experience of other worldly beings—all this stuff I’ve been trying to explain and understand, is not able to be rationalized in our culture because we do not believe in what we cannot see. what’s more, it’s a common, ancient part of human experience that is wired into our DNA.

Further, the implications of how these people use plant medicine and hallucinations alongside interactions with other-dimensional beings to learn what modern science has not been able to replicate in terms of their bio diverse farming or pharma techniques implies that consciousness is something we in the western world are experiencing in an extremely limited capacity, if nothing else.

I only wound up here because modern science could not explain to me what I was experiencing, nor could any diagnosis be made nor any medicine applied. What’s more, I have a strangely diverse background of multi-religious exploration, ceremony, and trance states, along with a fundamental knowledge of Jungian symbolism and Joseph Campbell’s works that allowed me to explain to a therapist what I understood about interacting with other-dimensional beings and the symbolic nature of the subconscious in such a way that she said she was looking forward to one day seeing my work.

So maybe I am onto something.

Lately I figure that identifying the realistic parameters of the experiences are less important than simply telling them as they are. We live in a world in which the very foundations of our reality is being questioned and the work I do is meant to anchor me to a foundation of reality that exists in myth across time across cultures so we can persist while our own limited perspective dies away.

Insanity is defined by ones inability to adjust to the reality and expectations of one’s culture, but when that culture is itself insane from lack of originality or new thought, or if that culture is in transition from one set of beliefs to another. (As I believe we are) it is this narrative of the timeless human condition that holds us firm. The journey of the hero through light and dark, across land and sea, individuate from the mother and father, brings us to a trust in our own hearts, our own ability to persevere, and maintains sanity where there is none.

What’s more, we suffer this journey regardless of whether we choose it. We are in the youthful throws of binary bickering here in America. I believe we possess the capability to become individualized, but the back and forth must inform the consciousness which proceeds, not own it. We haven’t yet separated ourselves as a country from our mothers and fathers, slaves and plantation owners, rich men and poor men, whole human or almost human.

These narratives weave their way through our culture like these binary snakes, like the DNA which Ayuhuasqueros can become aware of and learn about in trance states.

The stories we believe about reality are perhaps as influential in creating it as what is objectively real, if only because we act upon what we believe and we are fully capable of creating anything from dinner to vast civilizations.

We are being asked to look at the old stories, to repair them, to rewrite them. I only hope that in the rewriting, we manage to reconcile the snakes.

On my own search for individuation, the snake has appeared to see me across thresholds of consciousness that challenged everything I’d been told about reality and what’s real. It also allowed me to see beyond the confines of the binary. All I can say is that the discovery of this book and its author is a huge step for me in the direction of this exploration. A Stanford scientist is over here asking questions I’ve been trying to understand for years and confirms the blind spot between science and this ayuhuasqueros is in their understanding of the fundamentals of reality, one of which includes other-dimensional beings, and one which does not, but both perspectives have created medicine. Both are valid in their own ways, so at least I’m not just crazy. What a relief.

In the meantime, I will continue to explore kundalini, the snake, and myth. I’m currently exploring the effects of the imagination on body-awareness and present moment awareness in relationship to manifestation.

Manifest Update

Since I posted quite a lot about manifestation last winter, I figured a check-in was due. Let’s see.

Six months ago I didn’t have a job. A friend lent me money to pay rent. I couldn’t manage my finances at all. I was drinking every day, trying to quit cigarettes, my relationship was in the toilet and our car’s busted out back window had admitted enough rain into the carpet and seat that mold began to grow there. Dishes were piled in the sink for days at a time. I would hardly go outside for days at a time. I called all of my contacts every day–by that I mean the handful of people I talk to. I hated myself and the people I love hated me pretty well as well. I”d ruined an opportunity to work in an organic, scratch kitchen that was my dream job and I was feeling pretty damned sorry for myself.

Now I am working full time selling healthy food to people. We both got out of the service industry right before the pandemic hit, found our way into grocery stores, and then the pandemic hit and we worked all through it. I am teaching cooking classes and writing for my company’s blog. I’m running every day. DJ and I have a steady income, a new car, and are moving into a two-bedroom apartment next month. I regularly keep up with the chores and cooking. We’re cooking up plans for a business, a family.

Six months.

What changed?

While significant change takes a little bit of effort every day (sometimes a lot every day), for changes to become habits and habits to manifest as results, I was stuck in a rut for a while there before the upward trend started, just bumping up against what felt like an invisible wall.

Resistance to change, time to adapt to new perception in a new place after being in the same familiar one for thirty years, addiction, fear, and clinging to identifying labels for security were holding me back from enthusiastically moving forward into what is an objectively good life I think. I’m blessed.

Appreciation I think is where it starts. I think this is why people with depression sometimes use humor to cope. It’s not always easy to see a silver lining or a route to hope, but laughter can cut through depression better than most things. A dark sense of humor can become a gateway to a more optimistic outlook and a more optimistic outlook can and does create positive outcomes if acted upon. I think most people have this capability to think about doing something, learn about doing something, envision doing something, set out to do something, and get it done given enough time.

That being said, I think there are things we can set out to do that are timeless: heal family wounds, maintain and strengthen the bonds of our currently existing relationships, cultivate inner peace that we may bring peace to our days and to others, test the self, hold to values that have been tested and proven to improve your life and the lives of those around you. Test those values all the time and question always how this can be done better. I don’t think achievement, joy, kindness, intelligence, passion, ingenuity, and resources are lacking in the world but media does perpetuate fear because we engage more readily on a subconscious biological level with a fight or flight response and because this fear causes us to consume more media in which we are looking for answers to mitigate those fears.

Our instincts know things that have been informed by thousands of years of evolution and those instincts can be trained and honed, but I was allowing mine to be trained and honed by the hatred, anger, and fear mongering media.

Step one: No More Social Media.


Be the Lighthouse.

I don’t know who, if anyone anymore, might read here, but a lot of what I explore is how consciousness shifts, how personality changes, and how we engage with dialogues about sanity.

What I’ve been doing for a while now is recording the events that mark shifts in my consciousness, between identities, archetypal encounters, personalities, dreamscapes, and values, over the course of a lifetime. We are complex, multi-faceted, multi-talented creatures that have been taught to distrust our instincts.

I would argue there has never been a better time to proceed through life on instinct, since there has never been so much knowledge available with which to inform and train one’s instincts. The original explorers of consciousness via instinct and knowledge were known as shamans. Neo shamanism is experiencing a resurgence in the west, I would guess because, like Campbell’s hero, the shaman ventures beyond the realms of sanity and the civilized to bring the boons of knowledge back from the dark mother, nature, chaos, introversion, receptivity, vulnerability, aloneness to the sun father, analysis, order, consciousness, community.

So this is the magic my people work with—a resurgence of divine femininity and intuition.

I think the reason I liked Augusten Burroughs’ Toil&Trouble so much is he explained how he understood magic, topically with anecdotes with which I identified, and then named this term for me: Chaos magic.

If I’d been introduced to that term another way, the word might have sounded too out there for me to stand by: Chaos.

But out of chaos comes order and by god here we are doing this thing called life. The proteins for life and the likelihood of their synthesis is less than the number of observable number of atoms in the universe (Narby, 75).

So how do we actively engage this transmutation?

If you haven’t read any of my journal entries yet, then maybe you don’t know I appear to be batshit crazy, or at least flitting up against the entrance to the cave of batshit crazy. That’s fine with me. I had to stop caring about whether or not I was sane. It is what it is.

Make believe is a powerful tool, and visualization. Athletes use visualization techniques, as do yogis, and you better believe that the better you can visualize something, the more likely you are to be able to achieve that goal. There’s something about doing the reps.

Our subconscious minds are powerful tools. When we envision something we desire, spend time with that idea in our minds, especially if that vision makes us feel good, the subconscious brain will work to focus more on that, so opportunities for creating the envisioned result start to appear as though out of nowhere, when really our unconscious mind has simply been trained to look for those clues. This is what people who practice manifestation perceive as synchronicity. Similarly, I think there are some synchronicities that appear too mystifying to pass off as mere chance.

Note: We perceive so very little of reality that consciously looking for these opportunities without letting the subconscious do the work of seeking via feeling and visualization is far more taxing and far less likely to yield results.

Values: Humility. Curiosity. Light-heartedness.

I have three careers: Cook, Teacher, Writer. Six months ago I was writing thinking it would go nowhere.

At work, we write nightly e-mails to let the Managers and CEOs know what operations look like in the store on a day-to-day basis. My manager asks me to please not write the same thing every night since that’s what most of the employees do and she has to read them all.

Every day, I start telling a story in the nightly email and the regional manager so enjoys reading them so much, she asks me to reach out to bloggers for collaborations. I look into it, realize we should probably have a company blog if we’re going to reach out, and a week later, we have a blog for which I’m now collaborating with an RD to write about nutrition and health.

As for the cooking classes, I originally applied at the grocery store to teach the classes they hold there, but they needed a grocery clerk, which has proven beneficial to my health and sanity as it is a very mellow job. Being a line cook for 12 years was enough for me. I need regular meals and snacks and pee breaks now and a busy line in July calls for a catheter and colostomy bag if you plan on eating or drinking at all. Just kidding (only kinda).

How a job at a grocery store became a job that encompasses all three of my careers might be a resulting mix of luck, persistence, patience, and hard work, but it seemed to happen naturally and all at once. Like one day I was a clerk and the next I was doing all the things I’d set out to do.

Fundamental shifts in how I spend my time and what I value occurred as well, and it’s these, I think, that create the real changes.

The Value of Time:

When I quit drinking, for example, I had to acknowledge that I drank because I didn’t value myself and my time, didn’t want to put the effort in to test my abilities against the challenges that stood between me and my goals, and didn’t want to face the feelings of worthlessness instilled in me by my own lack of integrity and by others’ responses to that lack of integrity.

I’d wasted quite a lot of my time wallowing in alcohol because alcohol distanced me enough from any sensation of ambition or hope for something better that I could go one more day leaving that call unheeded. Alcohol was a panacea against realizing myself, my limitations, and my abilities. Instead of testing myself, I was trying to preserve myself in time, make it stand still, pickling my liver until I was ready to move forward again only to discover the waiting weakens and the longer I wait the harder it gets to start. Just do. Just stop now and do.

I realized alcohol was primarily a thief of my time, so I started to ask myself, what do you want to spend your time doing? That’s what you should spend your time thinking about. Work became easier when I started enjoying my time at home instead of drinking it away.

Humility:

I was wrong I was so wrong~

There’s no better place to start.

Right and wrong are subjective and we ultimately must live with ourselves alone and die alone so instead of being right or wrong lets just be relaxed and kind.

Boundaries:

Sometimes when you’re relaxed and kind, people who aren’t relaxed and kind feel more unsettled in their own skin. People compare. Don’t compare yourself to others just to who you were yesterday and all that. I started to be more understanding of people because it feels better.

A nurse comes in to the grocery store where I work and yells at me about needing to enforce how people in the store wear their masks, then asks me for a couple scoops of ice cream, which seems to me the most likely place in the store for the potential of transmission if it’s going to occur here. She’s probably tired and needed to blow off some steam. I like to have ice cream after blowing off steam too.

It feels better to say, “Okay,” let her yell a second, and then say, “Okay,” again and continue ringing up her purchases. There’s a pause and some beeping and scanning while she realizes that she’s yelling at a clerk about masks who is wearing a mask, that she has no reason to yell at me, everyone in the store is properly masked. It is hilarious when she asks for ice cream. She needs it.

To me, this feels lighthearted. Let her blow off steam. Who am I?

My identity has primarily been formed as a backdrop of people’s projections in the past. I stand quiet and watch and people talk at me and I listen and am in the space of their emotions, their motivations, their desires because this is the space I’m in.

When faced with something for which one has no language to categorize nor mythology to contextualize, we are left in a zone of receptivity in which we face ourselves against what is. Without language, we have no personality. Without personality, the possibilities to become are infinite. I argue it’s no words and labels and definitions which hold us back from our unrealized potentials quite often as well.

“We introduce our focus of study—personality and language—with the words of Louis Milic (Milic, 1966, p. 82):
The fundamental assumption is that the style of a writer is an idiosyn- cratic selection of the resources of the language more or less forced upon him by the combination of individual differences summarized under the term “personality”. This selection might be called a set of preferences ex- cept that this term suggests that the process is mainly conscious and willed. Although it is doubtless true that some part of the process of composition is deliberate and conscious, especially at the level of meaning, much of it is not fully conscious and it is this part which is of greater interest to the stu- dent of style. The reason is obvious: The unconscious stylistic decisions are less likely to be affected by the occasional and temporary characteris- tic of a given composition (its subject matter) and are more likely to reveal something the writer might be struggling to conceal. If we are interested in his personality, such information would naturally be of great interest […]”

Alastair James Gill, PHD, University of Edinburgh 2003.

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.65.217&rep=rep1&type=pdf

As a writer, or as someone who watches, we learn to see the personality of a person is defined quite often by what they do not do or say. Like a person who doesn’t react to being called names probably has a pretty solid self-esteem. A person who says, “Let’s work hard today everyone,” is probably the most likely to pop off for a smoke break in ten minutes. People don’t usually say what they mean.

Our words are actually quite powerful in this way. They lay the foundations for the structures of our thought, for what we believe possible, and they create the symbolic pathways by which we hope to achieve our goals. We learn to ask for things or say no, communicate desires and boundaries, and words appear to be the first in a series of communications which defined the personality.

As a kid who didn’t talk much, a defined personality isn’t something I would say I carried around with me from person to person. Again, I felt more like people were seeing projections of themselves when we spoke than they were seeing me.

The more I put into words, the more I commit to the suggestion of a personality, the less possibility. Am I making sense? This is a sensation I’m having trouble expressing in this context t but may make more sense in my book which is in its organization phase.

Because I was the kind of kid who turned stress into focus and creativity and because alcoholism took so much from me and because I’m not drinking and things are clearing up again, it seems necessary to write it all down on a book.

The memories started coming back after a night I spent in jail a couple weeks ago. I slipped up, drank a bottle of cooking wine, locked myself out of the apartment and through a rock through the glass door to get back in. Someone had shattered it not two months before, so I guess my drunken brain remembered this and thought it would be the best way to go about it. The cops thought I was a burglar or looter and I was held in mod-security for a day on felony property destruction with malicious intent.

They dropped the charges and we paid for the door (DJ helped me out and even talked to my mom…I love that man) and I remembered the people I love who’ve been to jail and we’ll just say a lot of things about my life and choices became clear.

The cops here in Seattle are pretty ruthless lately too. The protests have not improved their cuddliness factor.

So I’m writing. I’m writing about the changes fundamental personality shifts have required of me (changes that I’ve documented in detail and which are not well-known to psychologists—how do humans change their behavior—and of the influence of alcohol on myself, friends, and family.

A person who undergoes these transformations needs close friends to remind them sometimes of the correct course. When all the possibilities arise, it’s easier to be unkind than kind. Reminders help us to do the hard work of learning to be kinder than we were yesterday.

Hero We Call On Thee

There have been four shootings in the autonomous zone of Capitol Hill, dubbed CHAZ or CHOP.

I wonder who would shoot it up in a peaceful protest, over what, why, who shoots a 14 year old boy? So common now, actually, it’s as likely the shootings are political, shows from hired guns to entice a more popular public view of taking it back with police force as it is that these boys have been met with some Lord of the Flies archetypal selves.

What now is our country’s story?

We are working to undo the webs of tyranny within a system that has succumbed to the weakness of human hearts supplanted by the greed of a capitalist system that has sought to govern nature.

But the human heart wins out.

I propose we forego the twisted semantics by which the systems in place which have dislodged us from our lands, freedoms, and rights to risk be named what they are: tyrannical.

The government, and world powers, meant to serve and protect their people and countries have failed to do so. By their plots to generate economies by which few may benefit over the many, resources are controlled, held hostage in exchange for currency which amounts to the time to which the citizen dedicates him or herself to the country’s processes. When those processes fail to provide an equal exchange of energy to the people and to the sources from which those process draw, natural and unnatural, they become overtaxed and fail.

We must generate the energy to recover ourselves psychically as a nation by focusing our efforts into a collective vision of what constitutes the next goals for America, for inaction is action, and a failure to act will have us succumb to the mechanics of late-stage-crony-capitalism as predicted by Marx.

Tyranny and fighting against tyranny by adopting tyrannical methods leads only to more tyranny. Taking down fascism with fascism, be it left or right leaning, still imposes the hammer of societal rules upon the wilds of the human heart; until we understood them, wild animals were once kept in cages—they still are.

This is what astonishes me:

Surely there are as many people in the world who wish to save the animals as there are even a small fraction of the animals that needs saving. Surely there are plenty of alternative energy methods and things to be done and people to do them.

By what justification do we set the responsibility for these things upon the rich and the political?

Until CHAZ, the question was always of a fear of retribution from authority, fines, jail time. Stupidity, fear, a lack of knowledge, and understanding would keep an animal caged.

The intelligent leader observes impartially, delegates duties according to strengths, limits according to ability, and reasonably estimates room for growth and creates the paths by which that growth unfolds across the respective reaches of that leader’s power, which any good leader understands is only as powerful as the tendrils with which it reaches…in this case, it’s people.

I name the destruction of my planet and the barriers set between myself and my people to steward the land negligence, at worst, abuse at best.

Any power that seeks to rob the human being of the self is tyrannical. Robbery is not necessary if the project is worthy. An intelligent leader can inspire, and a project undertaken for the true good of humanity will be completed by good people.

Therefore campaigning is as good as waving a red flag over one’s lack of general morality. The people will vote whether or not the money speaks and the people are voting now to speak louder than all the greased pockets of America’s aging leadership.

To age we must offer our respects, for it is no easy thing to adjust to a world that knows all of one’s business, especially if ones business has been dirty and clandestine for a long time. Anyone who has had a brush with insanity might know that it often involves facing aspects of the self that become unveiled as truths which so challenge one’s understanding of reality that reality becomes relative, fluid. Age doesn’t adjust as well as youth to changing tides. We must allow.

The culture is usually the human beings’ modus operandi for beginning to construct the new identity and our culture has yet to make room for reconstruction. We are witch burners still with little mercy or tolerance despite all of our cries for it. Can we blame the stooges in power for being reluctant to step down?

Can we blame ourselves when, upon seeing the mess we have inherited and robbed of the time in which to cultivate imagination for ingenious solutions, we hesitate to step up?

Herald the call of your greater self. No construction of man can overwhelm such that one cannot work daily to better oneself.

What’s so great about this is how simple a solution it is. When we care for ourselves, we become better. When we are better, we exemplify better. When we exemplify better, the tired and uninspired become inspired and energetic.

Pick one thing. Do that better today.

The amount of your effort will be rewarded by natural law. If your effort is not being equally rewarded, check your mind. Are you grateful? Are you appreciative? Are you even in your body or does your mind take you somewhere else all the time?

Start by being in the present. What can you do here and now to be better?

Where are your thoughts?

How can you improve them?

Take five minutes and just envision something better.

If you cannot, start with where you are at.

Pick a negative trait if you’re stuck and envision yourself embodying the opposite of that trait. Do this every day until your gut instinct isn’t to reject it. If you can’t convince yourself, take and action that that better version of yourself might take.

Do that every day until you don’t feel like you’re pretending anymore.

This is a limitless practice. We can explore the depths of human experience to the best of our abilities by following those simple steps.

Envision your better self. Think like your better self. Act like your better self a little bit at a time and small changes, one finds, add up quickly.

Imagine if small changes were made by every person in the world right now to be better people.

I think of that moment at the end of the movie Perfume when he uncorks distilled essence of virgin and the whole town square disrobes, succumbing to orgiastic ecstasy.

8.4 billion is an unfathomable number. In terms of money, I mean, I once had four digits in my bank account and was like, holy moly. Five digits in a year, six digits over the course of many for the average citizen.

1 billion isn’t even a fathomable dollar amount for most people.

There are 8.4 billion of us.

When we start to see the accumulation of small changes in our lives, we see that big changes come quickly. I have hope that there are enough of us here to make small changes that big change will come quickly. It is coming. We are ready. We will not make the same mistakes again.

Sound & Fury

Firstly, if you haven’t seen Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury on Netflix, check that shit out.

Secondly this post is about arguments.

DJ and I can get into some pretty heated arguments. Sometimes, when the fights get really bad, I start pulling all the clothes out of the closet as though to pack and go to a hotel. I take the key ring with the car key instead of my keys and we argue about who is taking the car half-heartedly because we both know I will only take the dog on a walk to the park and back and then we will be calm.

Sometimes we talk it out. Sometimes that’s not necessary. It’s just another argument built up from the tension of our lives.

A 390 square foot place with a big lazy dog and another person becomes cramped after a year no matter how much you love them. Thankfully, we’re moving soon, but the time in a tiny place together has taught us a lot about each other and ourselves.

My projection issues, for instance, are all but gone finally. I’m taking responsibility. The other day I understood how out of touch with reality I’ve been when I watched a documentary about extreme sportsman—surfers, skiers, wing suit jumpers, base jumpers, etc.—and this free diver sank to the bottom of the ocean in the full lotus position amongst a bunch of sharks and meditated for three minutes and something without air.

I cannot (not can many, I suppose) fathom ever doing this in my life. A younger me might have envisioned what it would take to train, what fear would have to be overcome for me to swim with sharks, might have thought if I try hard enough I could…

Today, my ego is less in the picture. I’m seeing reason a bit more clearly. There’s no way I’m going to be training to meditate with sharks any time soon and what that man did was truly amazing. I feel grateful to have witnessed it.

In the place between identities, when one ego has died and we are in flux while the other takes shape according to the new environment (psychic, spiritual, physical, or some combination of these), possibilities arise. Opportunities knock.

When I first moved here, I didn’t know how much of my ego would stay behind in my hometown and how much shame I would have about becoming the woman I became. Then again, the shame was a reflection of a superego with harsh judgements and a warped urge to please others born from an over attachment to my mother who I never completely differentiated myself from in terms of my values and identity until about six months ago.

Neurosis.

I’m starting to enjoy collaboration. My paranoia about people is dissipating. Once, I truly hated people. I believed that human beings, by our nature, are self-serving, unkind, and fearful.

I think I may have mentioned in an earlier post that, for me, one of the most important words to meditate upon in recovery is Responsibility.

For me, this looks like taking responsibility for my emotional state by acknowledging my thoughts about a situation honestly—be it good or bad—and taking action that is aligned with what feels right, based on reasoning what the best course of action is for the desired outcome for all involved.

My responsibility is to take actions that lead to my own greatest well being and the greatest wellbeing of others to the best of my ability and to think thoughts that cultivate these actions so much so that right action becomes instinct as well as I can manage, which is going to look like wrong action to someone inevitably somewhere unless I believe in some kind of inherent human truth.

But then I have to believe I am capable of perceiving is inherent truth which means perhaps others are not unless I’m willing to accept I cannot possibly be thinking truth all the time which, we come to discover, is truer than the possibility of one knowing anything at all.

So it is to those in my own direct line of contact I must defer firstly.

To do this, I must be present in the moment. There is no right or wrong, objectively. Right action is subjective to context, so moment-to-moment awareness is required to make choices that are properly contextualized.

In order to be present in the moment, I must let go of past traumas and their influence on my current emotional state, perception, and actions.

In order to let go of trauma, I walk into the eye of the storm. I feel pain. The voices grow loud. The shame and the guilt manifest as demons to be exorcised and sent to other planes of existence by the grace of whatever created such a place as this.

Without story, what chaos.

I am responsible, therefore, for writing this story of my life by taking conscious action according to the story I tell myself about a situation which is a collection of ambient thoughts that make me feel good or bad about a situation. The action I want to take is not in reaction to my feelings, however, but as proactive steps to enact change.

This looked like when I wanted a beer and the craving was taking over I’d tell that demon to fuck off and go running instead. If I couldn’t power through I’d walk. Then the craving gets loud and I run again. I talk to someone, read a book, call a friend, anything.

My feed that demon.

This looks like the conscience on my shoulder telling me I’ll feel better in this house when the dishes are done motivating me to action instead of being drown out by blame or anger or excuses like it’s his turn.

This looks like forgiving myself when I’m lazy and standing up for myself when it is his turn.

It’s a moment-to-moment choice of thought content to cultivate peace. This is my form of rebellion now.

The more I take responsibility for my feelings, my place, my narrative, the more I’m able to give to others from a place of simply wanting to give. I’m not asking others to fulfill my emotional needs, to give me anything, to do anything they wouldn’t do. I’m not needing or demanding or controlling or paranoid like I was when I felt weak and vulnerable and crazy.

No one owes me anything.

My personality is starting to emerge anew as someone who likes to garden and give gifts and take care of her skin. Cooking and cleaning, once burdensome chores made better with music, are now relaxing activities with satisfying end results that contribute to the wellbeing of my entire household.

The selfishness of my youthful ego, so eager to become someone, has been transplanted here and grown into a contented someone of no importance to anyone of any importance, but a functioning member of her community and home all the same. The small pleasures this grants me are innumerable.

At night I massage DJ’s shoulders and his back, sometimes his arms and legs, his hands and feet too if he’s lucky and I’m not too tired. The satisfaction I get from seeing him satisfied is something a mentally-ill me didn’t understand.

True love needs nothing.

The Fury:

It surprises me how even after I announced that the writing here was a stream-of-consciousness journal from the point of view of a mentally ill person, all of my words were taken at face value by some readers, as though in my heart of hearts I intended all the horrible victim thoughts and angry rants.

1 in 4 people will experience symptoms of mental illness in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization.

1 quarter of all people.

For many, those symptoms come in wake of a loss—a loved one, a job, an opportunity, a dream. Significant changes to the foundational pillars of our lives—divorces, deaths, and relocations, pandemics—activate the shifting spheres of personality as we learn to let go of some behaviors and adopt new ones in order to adapt.

This process is what I believe Jung was talking about when he said the following:

“The archetype is a symbolical formula, which always begins to function whenever there are no conscious ideas present, or when such as are present are impossible upon intrinsic or extrinsic grounds.”

Psychological Types: Or, The Psychology of Individuation, (Jung, 476).

Firstly, if we look closely at this statement, the absence of conscious thought, or the presence of conscious thoughts that are impossible against the assumed ideas of reality, is a state of madness or insanity.

Sanity is engaging in an agreed upon reality and operating in a form whereby the balance leans more towards peace, hopefully.

Carl Jung documented his own decline in sanity, something I too have been documenting in my own life unwittingly. The more I learn about him, the more I feel he is my spirit animal.

I’m sort of learning to have a sense of humor.

So we establish that the conditions of healing archetypal consciousness and recognizing it require a lack of sanity from the outset or a very detailed and continuous dream analysis. I think this is why mushroom trips are so good for people. They set off the ego death and are a marker for the experience as something intentionally embarked upon.

Secondly, the observer of the archetypal consciousness is also, I believe, the witness consciousness or soul consciousness mentioned in Buddhism or in the teachings of Ram Dass. These observers of people and leaders in the fields of consciousness necessarily push the boundaries of sanity.

I tell myself this is what I’m doing when I’m really losing it—not from a place of ego or because I think I’m so profound or anything. Many of my thoughts are neurotically cyclical—but because a positive narrative is always a lifeline of hope.

Further research reveals that the idea of archetype “activation” is also present in animals:

“Following Wilson’s lead, the psychiatrist Anthony Stevenssees archetypes at work in ethology, the study of animal behaviour in natural habitats. Animals have sets of stock behaviours, ethologists note, apparently activated by environmental stimuli. That activation is dependent upon what are known as ‘innate releasing mechanisms’. The fungus cultivated by the leafcutter ant ensures the ant only collects the kind of leaf that the fungus requires. The emerald head of the mallard drake causes the mallard duck to become amorous. Other characteristics from maternal bonding to male rivalry might be called archetypal too.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/20/jung-archetypes-structuring-principles

The archetype I faced in this bout with insanity was the devouring mother. Nature, the dark, creative, chaos. She is the mother who will always nurture so you will never leave, like the evil spider mother in Tim Burton’s Coraline. She is the divine feminine’s shadow side, feminine power gone unchecked, chaos run rampant without reason, time without patience. Death and destruction.

We experience archetypes according to the symbolic language of our culture because language is what structures our narratives and therefore understanding of experience.

An experience like realizing I have forgotten what it means to love is really an experience for which there is no words. The blooming understanding of how not to be selfish, of what gratitude feels like, of gently opening to trust and the possibility of happiness, are not experiences for which there are words.

We have stories. We have events that reveal. We have actions and choices taken and interpretation. We have language and narrative and consciousness some of the time.

If 1 in 4 people experiences mental illness in their lifetime according to significant change, it seems likely many people are experiencing mental illness right now.

What instincts have been activated in our people and our neighbors?

Jung wrote, also, that these archetypal activations override reason, that objectivity is impossible, essentially, because one experiences the archetype by adopting definite behaviors and ideals, at least temporarily—embodying a structure of behavior based on a sort of collective symbolic knowing deemed the collective unconscious. He continues:

“These subjective tendencies and ideas are stronger than the objective influence; because their psychic value is higher, they are superimposed upon all impressions.”

Psychological Types: Or, The Psychology of Individuation, (Jung, 476).

This is projection. What this means is that when one is in a state in which some shock has rocked their world view to such an extent that something they believe is impossible is suddenly possible—again, loss, divorce, death, relocation—they are temporarily governed by instinctive action born from the collective unconscious (which may be, simply, biological instincts communicated via culturally symbolic narrative structures) which SUPERSEDE reason and logic.

All interpretations of events in this state of mind are colored by the activated archetype and are therefore projections of one’s subconsciousness upon experience. Since the experience is one in which one is either not conscious or cannot consciously reconcile with occurrences, one projects ideas into the experience and takes action to test them until a more solid understanding born of trial and error brings the experience into such focus that language can then be used to categorize it into a reasoned, communicable state.

I didn’t know that I was facing down the internalized judgements of my mother’s value systems based on how she rewarded me or withheld love from me as a very young child, something all people must overcome or remain symbiotic with. I didn’t know that losing my mind would be necessary to undo those value systems or that putting a new one in place would mean I didn’t know what I stood for for a while.

What this implies about the ability to communicate peacefully is that is the height of reason and compassion, for to communicate with a person who lacks reason and consciousness, one must speak with emotions and learn to unhear the words. Words spoken without reason are often hurtful since they are born of these projections.

To admonish an unreasonable person for not having reason is as good as poking a sleeping bear. No argument can be won with reason if had with the unreasonable. It is the duty, therefore, of the reasonable, to show the way to the path of reason, whether the horse will follow or not. I did not know that glimpsing reason was as chance and lucky a thing as it is.

Then again, plenty of unreasonable people have responsibly human hearts and will act for the rights of a person despite what foolish beliefs they may claim to cling to. The problem with clinging to the languages of reason and science and logic to inform a decoded reality is that these are not the only mechanisms by which humans operate and understand one another.

We are entering an era in which we are decoding the barriers that stand between apparently opposite disciplines, such as Wicca’s rule of three and the observer effect in physics alongside the law of attraction in new thought, and the microcosm reflecting the microcosm in Jungian personality theory. They all, across disciplines, can be said to be representative of a phenomena about which each discipline seems to have only a small part of the picture and offers its own interpretive lens of analysis for explanation. A bigger picture waits to unveil a more all-inclusive outlook.

Emotional, spiritual, logical, social, individual, and physical intelligences are some we are capable of. If all exist on one plane, there must be a narrative in which all are possible that supersedes what humans think we know about being human.

In theories like Anil Seth’s Ted Talk How Does Your Brain Construct Your Conscious Reality? Seth, a neuroscientist, explains what my mystic great grandma came to believe was the basis for the law of attraction based on a book called The Holographic Universe, about which I wrote a story in a previous post about the Law of Attraction.

The spiritual concepts of the ancient past are more important now in the modern present than ever. When else has the battleground of the mind been so important as to hold the balance of nature in its clutches? How conscious of these consciousnesses are you?

When we argue, DJ and I do so in a state of dual consciousness in which we are both aware that this is just another argument while also being aware we are pretending it isn’t. Holding two states of consciousness is a practice in Taoism.

I am the angry girlfriend and the faithful life partner and the raving mad bitch of a jealous lunatic and the nurturer who cooks dinner all in one.

Humans do not exist in single dimensions of personality the way we see them communicated through words and headlines and still life observations and video clips in media.

The romances of pain and suffering are still, at their sources, fed by pain and suffering. The only way to engage a different outcome is to feed a different food.

I had to stop social media, cut down on coffee, exercise, shower daily, eat three meals a day and that is actually harder than I gave it credit for being. I thought I was more together than that. I thought I was greater than that, as if living as a functional person is anything to snub one’s nose at.

My credit is fucked and I have a juvenile financial intelligence. I own practically nothing by my own minimalist preferences. It was my first instinct to react like a cornered dog when we moved here to this tiny apartment in this city so far away and for me to not trust anyone when I can’t even trust myself. I didn’t trust myself to be able to care for my dog and thought she’d be happier with someone more together only to realize after sitting with it that this isn’t how bonds of friendship work. They don’t just turn off and turn on.

We live like deep see cephalopods, trailing the tendrils of experience which make up 75% of our mass behind us. How much weight is memory.

When I hear hateful things and see the way my people scream at one another, I’m seven and listening to my parents scream at one another through the phone. I’m thirty arguing with DJ about how we’re going to pay the bills or why is he working so much. I’m feeling the way time slips from days into weeks and the grind and the knife’s edge upon which a pandemic hit America teeters.

I think when I grab the keys we both know that this could be the argument that takes it too far, if I’m really serious. Am I acting from a place of insanity or am I conscious right now? We both know I’m acting out something else and that this is not an argument that will take things too far. Not this time.

What’s more, we recognize once again that the likelihood of that argument ever arriving lessens every day because through all of it we still see one another.

Some say Jung spoke the language of the human heart. I believe so.

What’s more, I believe this is the language, the language of symbols and nature and reason and stories and dreams and art by which we communicate, that prevents the argument born of unrelated frustrations being expelled through some archetypal act like a tantrum, from becoming the argument that takes it too far.

One is an act, a play, a tenuous display of what could be, a testing of waters that prove tepid and unpleasant and through which we would rather not proceed.

Following through, taking the keys and the car, is the point of no return in which we must now adapt. My country’s protests are displays still, but displays are nearing actions with more utility.

The other day, two people were shot in the autonomous zone. When police responded, they were screamed at and harassed and were not granted access to the crime scene. The corpse of a 19-year-old was delivered to a hospital by autonomous zone medics and the police resumed investigation there. Another person is in critical condition. There is an ongoing homicide investigation.

The fact that a homicide investigation is being interfered with by local protesters who are armed and have claimed the zone of Capital Hill as autonomous from law, essentially, makes me wonder if this is a moment in which they are taking the keys, or if they are really driving away in the car.

For a time, I think my country will be insane. We are learning new ways.

It is my hope we are intelligent enough to remember ourselves as we adapt to a world that is changing now so quickly it is hard to keep up if you don’t cultivate some sense of adventure, or at least duty.

For my own part, when my heart is pumping a deafening torrent of rage blood through my veins, I run, I get distance, I take a walk to the park and back, and when I’m no longer just running on instinct, the way to peace becomes clearer. I’m learning not to speak unless peace is the desired result. I’m learning not to act unless health and community and kindness are the projected result. My actions refract out into too many lives (this world is so busy now and I’ve learned to stop being selfish) for me to be irresponsible with them.

Jung said too:

“Man is the microcosm of the macrocosm ; the God on earth is built on the pattern of the God in nature. But the universal consciousness of the real Ego transcends a million fold the self-consciousness of the personal for false ego.”

https://whatsmyquote.com/quote/man-is-the-microcosm-of-the-macrocosm-the-god-on-earth-is-built-on-the-pattern-of-the-god-in-nature-but-the

Because we live on earth, we must pattern ourselves according to nature. We know better, but sometimes it is not in our nature to be better, especially when we are sick, afraid, watching our economy collapse, watching our loved ones pass.

Sometimes our instincts are nature-cruel like Zeus upon Leda. Often, they override our reasoning. It is up to those of us who are reasonable to shed our petty egos, the ones that want and need validation. It is up to those of us who are conscious to be brave and confident in moving forward and to do so with a clear vision of peace. My anger was born of resentment for the task of crafting a life for myself. Depression is cruel like that. Mental illness is a corner in which I lack all vision for what is good.

For the insane, neurotic, cyclical thoughts lead to neurotic, cyclical behavior. Addicts are insane this way. For the conscious person of sound reason, the heart sounds out it’s fury and becomes a dance of action in contextualized, present, moment creation of a life unfolding with enthusiasm.

The games we play with our identities, putting so much stock in labels and boxes and reasonable notions of security, used to anger me, but when rid of the games and the labels and boxes, the chaos is so extant, the potential for randomness so palpable I could taste it on the air with every step into this new life, I was humbled and quickly bored. The ego trips become playful games. The Buddhist wise man is also the fool. The archetypal child is also the wizened crone.

The point of the sides, the divisions, the cultures, the symbols, the languages, the conscious and the unconscious, is not to eradicate the possibility of negative experience.

A heart attack came on the wind for my grandpa a couple of days ago and it was just so sudden, the shock of it left a hole in my family like a meteor strike. I can blame the coronavirus or his heart doctor and be angry because hurt becomes anger when we fear feeling or don’t know how. Fear becomes hatred. That’s an archetypal concept.

I hope that the natural divisions of people and creatures across boundaries are in place so that we may learn from them how to overcome together those things that divide us as human beings as a collective on this planetary home.

I hope too, that we learn the power of words again, and of hope, and of vision shaped in accordance with sound action to create positive change.

Because I cannot change the world, I change myself. Six months ago I was an alcoholic smoker, half insane, couldn’t hold a job, a dime, or a candle to my deflated ego for which I compensated by talking a lot about the past and blaming other people for my problems.

Today I don’t drink at all. I have more faith and trust in my love and my family than I ever thought possible. I am exercising reason alongside emotion, aiming for peace, praying always with thanks and gratitude for those I love.

They are simple, old ways.

I’m teaching cooking classes and writing and I’m a clerk. We are making a family. We are moving into a bigger place and bought a reliable car.

It was hard, at first to train ourselves to cook instead of order out, to overcome our laziness, to overcome the patterns of addiction.

It was hard to kill my big fat ego that thought I wanted something more than this, as if this life is anything to sneer at. They call it privilege but it was hell. To not recognize one’s blessings is hell.

When we made peace, DJ and I began to tenuously form plans for the future. We picked a direction, aimed, and we’re accomplishing our goals together.

Speaking about our vision of the future and discussing how we were going to achieve it was more effective than any of our arguments. The time we spent arguing was a necessary reaction to our fear, our pain, our discomfort. The emotions alerted us and the things said in pain and anger and fear stung enough to linger for a while.

Once we forgave one another for our humanity, we were able to understand how the other works. Once we saw each other clearly, it became easier to forgive further. We began to work together. We built a life from our last dollar.

We began to work together once we accepted the delineations of personality and instinct by which the other operates across a variety of circumstances.

I think human beings see the heart of a person in what they do, say, see, and how they react, but there’s no pinning it down with a word or a box or a label. The heart, as an archetypal concept, is a direction beyond biology or instinct or personality. What’s remarkable is how true a heart can stay through how much change a human being sees and all the slips of sanity along the way.

My grandparents were married for fifty years. When grandpa passed so quickly, I remembered a version of myself who danced on his toes as a girl. To love someone is to hold the memory of them like this, collecting experiences with them in the heart where, good and bad, they are cherished.

I know love because when grandpa died I knew grandma felt the fifty years of their experiences become unshared and the thought of my experiences with DJ being things I hold alone takes my breath away. The weight of us is in our focus.

What joy is it to share in an experience with someone? What triumph to persevere through hardship past those moments of no return through all odds only to find the mechanisms of nature will stop a heart and leave you breathlessly alone in the very end no matter what?

Sometimes an argument just needs space and time. Sometimes our 390 square foot apartment is just a bit too cramped and we both need space and switch into instinct mode and we are irritable and reactive and angry and a fight would be welcome and the drama would be so easy to feed.

Shared or alone, my time here is for cultivating peace.

I go on a run even though I’m an alcoholic and who am I to think I could be better because sometimes the most responsible decision is to take a foolish leap in the direction of hope. You’re going to be cyclically worrying about something anyways. Might as well make it your sore legs.

Those thoughts sore into something more ecstatic like, hell yeah you’re running and you look great and you feel great and you’re going to be in such a good mood now and your anxiety is going away as life is going to be better all around.

I

More often, I’m cruising ata place in the middle in which I go to work even when I don’t want to. There are people there I respect. Once, the reason would have been I need the money.

My values are changing for the bette.

The judgements begin to lessen and pass. The desire to argue gets swallowed down and transmuted into a fiery anger that fuels my desires to create. I pick my battles, most of which were with my own sense of inadequacy, so the battles are primarily about discipline.

Run. Read. Write. Work. Cook. Clean. Sleep. Eat. Shower. Watch some tv. Human things.

They seemed so mundane and insignificant in my heart even though in my mind I knew family was the most important thing.

When I moved, I missed them so much. A family is all I wanted though I’d never have known if I’d stayed in my hometown. In moving away from them I moved towards my own.

I recognize I know nothing. I listen. I find the listening to be more wholesome and I find my personality to be more stable when I say less about it.

Our hearts contain the secret solutions to our pains. The inner world knows the way to peace if one can persevere in the heart.

For the person who knows all of their innermost fears knows no boundaries. The heart prevails.

My grandparents argued.

I didn’t know that this was an expression of their love for one another until love seized me and had me passionately arguing about it.

I believe we argue because we care.

We are looking for ways to communicate and we are looking for solutions and it is human nature to care about one another because we are historically depend upon one another. It takes a village, as they say.

My insanity began to pass most noticeably when the paranoia disappeared. When I stopped thinking my coworker was undermining my work, when I stopped believing my boyfriend was cheating, when I stopped thinking my friends didn’t care.

All of these fears were beliefs that were based in old traumas, past events that were coloring my perception of the present. My reality was not objective.

It takes time to heal our projections. It takes trial and error to build personalities that are not conflicting with the nature of reality, especially since the occasions upon which to build new personality comes from a clash with reality in which we discover our previous idea of what constitutes reality is now untrue. Our egos wax tender and our tempers run hot.

The best part about this time in which we are swimming in the primordial image soup of the collective unconscious soul, is that we get to envision, in this period of rest from the conscious and active construction of our world in favor of subconscious reflection, a better future.

When the desire to stop arguing is superseded by the desire to make peace and I’m so tired of arguing that I could stand to make for some compromise, which is necessary on both sides unless this is a fascist dictatorship, I know sanity is returning.

Then it is time to act again.

This is the lesson, for me, of the archetypal dark mother, or nature.

Everything in its own time. Patience. Make room for the unpleasant things by increasing appreciation and gratitude for the little things to such an extent that they aren’t little things at all. Believe in the goodness in others and respond with goodness especially in the face of hatred. Own your character and actions responsibly. What you believe about others is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. Healing yourself will enact tremendous healing upon your life. The more lives heal, the more the world heals. The microcosm reflects the microcosm and vice versa.

I desire peace and cut out social media. I desire health and learn to cook. I desire love and learn to trust. I love and start to live. I live and remember death. I appreciate and feel gratitude in the face of loss.

We exist as individuals across dualistic boundaries, inhabiting complex emotional and psychic spaces in which multiple possibilities for personality erupt to take shape based on choice if we happen to have awareness of our faculties in the face of our instincts that day. More often, choices are made based on fear based on past instincts which further reinforces the illusion of that insanity.

The clean slate begins with forgiveness. Despite my fears, I act on what I choose to believe based on what kind of person I choose to be. When I let the past decide the color of the actions I take in the present, I give that past power over my present. When I don’t trust DJ based on old fear and irrational interpretation of him being home ten minutes later than usual, I am giving power over my personal narrative to my ex boyfriend who cheated on me, which is where the fear comes from. He has no business in this life, so when this fear arises I look at the facts, weigh them against my emotions, and usually discover I’m being irrational.

People call me naive a lot, so I know I’m naive. I also know that people say they feel seen by me, like I really heard them. People open up and tell me things about themselves they wouldn’t normally tell perfect strangers.

The saddest part of being insane is the part where, if you recover, you realize that by acting on instinct based on past traumas and archetypal fears instead of in accordance with the context of the present moment, you hurt people by not seeing them correctly, which causes the arguments.

The part that is worse than that maybe, is the moment you realize that this is normal human behavior, perfectly natural, and that what you were desiring to destroy the whole time was not outside of you at all but merely and intrinsic part of your civilized personality desiring the demise of your natural human heart’s desire to be truly seen.

We want to proceed in the direction of certainty, ridding ourselves finally of all need to feel and interpret and live and sense and touch and go and wonder by aiming for some utopia enforced by fascism.

Consciousness seems to fight for its own demise.

If the complaint is without a solution, look within.

The ego death is the experience in which we encounter the changes that kill personality, awakening us to the unconscious wherein we find answers outside the bounded language and “rightness” of our culture to inform a new rightness from a more all-encompassing landscape of truth wherein the things that symbols represent exist unfettered by representation. The collective unconscious.

Some believe this is what we tune into when we do acid or mushrooms the way my grandpa did in the sixties while my grandma watched over him, her sober flower girl instincts leading her to love and joy and tolerance of what she did not partake in but appreciated witnessing.

Yes we’re polar opposites, grandma and grandpa.

We are here in the soup today without sanity to find a missing piece of human nature, some part of us that has been misused and abused, some mechanism of judgment used unjustly.

We name it police and government and politics and race.

I name it fear and hatred.

I can’t right the many wrongs in the world. I can’t even right all of my own wrongs. I don’t believe in progress for the sake of progress. Progress in the wrong direction isn’t progress at all.

When I’m insane, the best thing to do is care for myself radically and to radically trust those who love me and whom I love because we share experiences together that tells those people who I am and will help to keep me on an even keel, morally.

When I’m most insane, morals are relative. Kindness is subjective. There are definite answers to fantastically abstract questions and certain ways to proceed across an open playing field.

The scariest part is realizing we are all making this up as we go along and no one really does know if the world is going to end or the virus is going to mutate and wipe us all out or if an earthquake is going to hit or a heart attack is going to thump rage blood into the last breath of the life of the person who shares you. The one who knows you best.

We are in this together until the end. I pray the part of us that desires to eradicate human nature finds value in those mistakes made upon civilization by it. I pray the courage to forgive and believe and create wins out over pettiness and anger and hatred, justified or unjustified.

Six months ago I hated you all. I know the demon can be put down with love and understanding. I know choosing to love and understand what we don’t know means a change in personality and that changing ones personality means temporary insanity and vulnerability and trust and facing fears.

I know that with patience and understanding, a collective vision creates collective action. I know our collective is enormous and I’m just one in a small family in a 390 square foot apartment, but a life is worth a thousand voices…many more according to BLM protests.

It is no small thing to be one person.

If one person had done the right thing, the BLM movement would never have erupted nor so many movements for peace and justice and equal rights and opportunities before today.

I am two states away from where my grandpa’s absence left a crater in the heart of my family. Grandmas house was the safe zone. It’s where the the best of our family’s golden years were spent, where innocence thrives and salami sandwiches and juice boxes and cousins and games color shared memories of a time preserved in our hearts as the time of plenty.

We don’t know what they will do about the house or the bills or how long grandma will be able to persevere without the one who shared her, who knew her across all boundaries.

We weren’t expecting the time to run out as quickly as it did.

Recap

When I first started this site, the goal was to understand the way we categorize mental illness in a society that has dominated its own nature with science and rationality. The first entries here were stream-of-consciousness journals from the perspective of a very mentally unwell me.

The responses I received in the midst of that unwellness were primarily of encouragement from strangers. Oddly, from people who thought they knew me, the judgments were harsh.

I think what had me shy away from the approach of destigmatizing mental illness was that people assumed I was rational while I was in the midst of a pretty bad episode. The responses of judgment from people assuming I was fully in my faculties was harmful enough that I had to withdrawal in order to bolster enough self-esteem to get out of that place of sickness. Now that I’m out of that place of sickness and seeing the symptoms reside, I’d like to do a little bit of a recap about what the symptoms of unwellness were and what practices I used to overcome those, if any, both for future reference for myself and for anyone who has been reading here to understand a little more about cyclothymia, sometimes known as “bipolar light.”

The first sign of illness I can identify clearly is the Victim Mentality.

Victim Mentality usually looks like blaming all of my problems on other people, my family, my culture, my society. “It’s not my fault that the system is corrupt and my traumas make me do these terrible things.” For me, this also looks like an unwillingness to cooperate or be generous with my time.

Root Causes: Low self-esteem, unhealthy diet, feelings of insecurity or worthlessness, depression, (it’s worth noting that, for some, pregnancy can induce depression or low self-esteem), poor self-talk, traumas, brain damage, anxiety, PMS, catastrophic thinking.

Medicine: Conscious self-talk, meditation, running (running is the best way I know to train the mind to put down negative thinking), a makeover, daily showers, three meals a day containing all the food groups and required daily intake of nutrients, cleaning the house, a schedule and routine that involves all of these, cutting out addictions, community, open communication.

Root Values: Clarity, Strength, Bravery, Kindness, Humility, Wellness, Vulnerability, Trust, Responsibility

In order to put down the negative thoughts, one must have the clarity to recognize the negative thoughts are merely thoughts. Just because you are thinking that people suck and the world is falling apart because people value money more than each other doesn’t mean that’s true. In order to achieve objectivity, one must have the strength to recognize that they are responsible for the condition of their own lives and must be strong enough to take responsibility to change what they can change. This requires some objectivity, which can be achieved by asking yourself, “What if I’m wrong?” and then envisioning scenarios in which your perspective is wrong. This is an exercise in remaining objective, creative, and adaptable to a more all-inclusive possible future.

Often, feelings of victimization and hopelessness come from a feeling of not being able to control or influence one’s environment, so undoing this feeling means taking direct responsibility. As soon as we set out to take responsibility for ourselves, we discover that there is much we do not control related to how other people operate. We must have the bravery to proceed into the unknown which makes us vulnerable. By being brave, strong, kind, and humble, and valuing the wellness of one’s self and others, we proceed into the unknown.

I have discovered that my rigidity and control issues are born from an inherent distrust of people engendered from some old forgotten traumas. When I drink or lash out or get angry, I give those traumas in the past power over my present life. When I choose not to let those past traumas have power in the present, it looks like patience, like simplicity, like being happy to have a job and a family and roof over my head and expressing appreciation for that every day through care, forgiveness, gratitude, cooperation, a shedding of ego, going with the flow.

I’m grateful for being far enough out of my madness to see the sad person clinging to her dying ego as a woman of the past. I’m grateful to be able to communicate the madness and the wellness to leave a record for anyone who might find it helpful and I’m grateful every day for all of the blessings this life has bestowed on me.

The less I drink, the more I see the obsessive compulsive thoughts that led to so many arguments as brain damage from alcohol. A clear connection my addiction didn’t want me to see. Happiness finds her way into my heart. Summer light bleeds in through the blinds in the morning, reminding me of my grandparents’ house, the place I felt safest as a girl, a home where love is known.

I started with the thoughts first at a very basic level.

Instead of I can’t say I can.

Instead of I won’t say I will.

Instead of should I say I do.

I can I am I will I choose I love I receive I enjoy.

Try it for a day. Write down your limiting thoughts and then write down the best possible alternative. How many leaps of imagination does it take for you to get from where you are now to the person who thinks about the best possible outcome?

Don’t know?

Start now.

Six months ago we were down to our last dollar. I was out of my mind, a smoker, an alcoholic, and so depressed I couldn’t hold down a job. Now we eat healthy food, I run daily, I’ve been at the same job for a few months and am starting to write professionally. We are moving into a bigger place to make room for a bigger life. The daily arguments are gone.

If you ask me, I’d say the first step to recovery is to believe that what you are doing isn’t working so there’s probably another way and it’s probably going to be uncomfortable, but taking action that isn’t habitual means having some faith in the unknown–specifically one’s own unknown latent capabilities in the face of the unknown. Belief is maybe one of the most powerful tools available to a human being. Science and rationality don’t have to limit one’s ability to believe. If anything, combined with belief, a rational mind can inform the creation of a healthy, stable person from a seriously unhealthy, unstable one.

I’ve decided that even though I’ve changed the purpose and intention of this site a few times, overcoming black-and-white thinking remains the core concept of many of these posts and has been a running theme in my life since I was very little. My parents are polar opposites. My sister and I are polar opposites. My moods are polar opposites.

Some string of consciousness runs through all of these states. I can’t help but think some stream of consciousness runs through every human being, connecting us all. I imagine we can feel one another in tune like birds can in flight. My favorite versions of this theory involve some kind of all-consciousness moving through organic individuals to experience itself. My favorite method to this madness is to turn it all inwards and love it into something beautiful.

This year I hit some lows I didn’t know I had in me until I just bottomed out. Ego death is like floating through space.

When I surfaced, I was a woman ready for a family and some hard work and leisure time. My goals are things like going to work peacefully, keeping my house clean, my family healthy and happy. Home cooked meals, plants, candles, hand soap, and warm towels are things I’m starting to relish again. Walks in the afternoon marked by patches of gnats in rays of yellow sun, flowers spurting their pungent scents, and young families out with their dogs and their kids in strollers or on bicycles with ice cream cones from the shop around the corner and flowers, flowers everywhere, call me to join the ranks.

I am learning to cooperate with others by chilling out. How I came to be the uptight, hot-headed mess I was, I’m not sure, but she was someone I needed to learn. She taught me to assert my boundaries and desires. I think this is how the archetypes work. We embody certain traits to work through each archetype and take with us from these personality/ego identities the useful traits while shedding the old, which may or may not become useful once again in the future. For now, what needs away falls away.

This falls in line with the “ring of fire” solar eclipse this Saturday, June 20th. Solar eclipses mark the shedding of the old in some pagan traditions. In my wiccan practices, they mean a parting with the shadow, a transmutation of those manifestations of our suppressed desires into healthy creative outlets. Whatever negative patterns you are clinging to, now is the time to let them go.

Be blessed. Be brave. All my love humans. We stand together.

Health, wealth, and happiness

When I aimed for a word called healthy, I didn’t ever think that six months later I’d be alcohol and tobacco free.

I’m running to release the excess energy, which I identified as anxiety in accordance with Anodea Judith’s chakra workshop. I’ve been using her book Wheels of Life since it was gifted to me as a teenager by me grandma.

A long while ago, I posted about confusing the word for the symptom with the feelings of the symptom—completely different experiences. In Buddhism, this is called mistaking the moon for the finger pointing at it.

When I run, my chest is tight for the first two weeks. Every hill is a battle to put down thoughts like Is this what a heart attack feels like? I’m totally one of those high-strung people who would die of a heart attack at thirty. Oh lord.

Relax.

Running is a practice in testing and training my instincts. My thoughts run negative and catastrophic against tests of will. No surprise there I guess if my time in the kitchen is anything to say about it. I was not a very nice cook or teacher for that matter. I am hard on people because I’m hard on myself and it’s a filter I forget to turn off sometimes.

Running teaches me to turn those filters on and off. If I let the negative thoughts get too loud, I’m not going to make it up the hill. If I shift my focus, sometimes the top of the hill comes and goes. Sometimes I’m thinking of what to switch my focus to still when the hill is achieved.

Doing hard things exercises the mind and trains us to overcome ourselves. I’m my own worst enemy, by far, and I identify different pieces of my personality as demons. Shame. Guilt. Pride. The victim. When they arise I picture a hero self slaying them with a sword. I’m actively battling my own demons on a daily basis.

They become tame and rise up again once in a while. A random craving for a cigarette, an old instinct to swing by the liquor store. Then I remember that’s over and heave a sigh of relief. The further those days get, the happier I am they are memories and this life is someone else’s now. That girl was nuts.

I started writing this post this morning a few hours before my grandpa died of a heart attack.

Seems weird.

My grandpa was the best. I knew five grandpas growing up, and Grandpa Berti was my favorite. He was a a cooky old man and intelligent, rebellious, tech savvy, and a few marbles shy of a full bag.

He went to seminary school as a young man and exorcised demons.

There are exorcists on both sides of my family, so I guess it’s not that weird I’ve dabbled in this too. It’s too soon to talk about him already like he’s gone.

It hurts.

I ran harder today than I have in a while. I ran on my lunch break. I got the news. I called family, left early, ran more. Run. Run until it hurts.

When it hurts like this, all I want to do is drink. I sit outside my apartment building waiting for the urge to pass. Waiting. My legs don’t work anymore.

He didn’t drink a lot. At least he is pain free now. At least he had his faith, his family, a true love like the kind you only see in movies. He believed and knew he’d be happy on the other side.

It’s my grandma and my cousins who lived with him about whom I must concern myself. He is at peace and they survive him to feel the pain he is free from.

The pain becomes energy, a flow, a force hurtling me along.

Entropy is an interesting concept right now. Does the total pain in the universe always equal the same amount? Is it matter? When a person passes on, do we inherit some of the suffering they left behind when they stepped off this world to be free of it?

I hope so.

We are here to lift one another up.

To my grandpa, who always exorcised the demons by making us laugh.

Day 5: Mind Time

I’m trying to remember that alcohol causes brain damage and that my brain is damaged.

I think I’ve always been a bit of a miserable person, kind of unhappy, sort of strict and generally reserved. I thought it was a personality thing, but the memories that have been slowly surfacing since I moved here (and since I’ve been cutting back and haven’t engaged in a night of binge drinking since that bottle of wine right before my period) are indicating to me that I was happy once before this. Maybe many times.

It can take up to seven months for the brain to recover from alcoholic brain damage if the damage isn’t permanent already. Even one beer one night will follow my thoughts into the next day. I can tell when alcohol is still in my system just based on the tilt of my thoughts towards negative paranoia and low self-esteem.

Whenever I get a glimpse of the surface I want to pull back and have a beer as though I’ve accomplished something just to sabotage it. This pattern was very alive in my life once…build it, make it, create it, sabotage! And move on. An unconscious pattern clearly mimicking my leaning towards alcoholism or against.

I was determined the underlying issues of my alcoholism would be discovered and I could deal with those instead of quitting drinking, but it turns out my self-esteem cannot thrive under the influence. When I think back to six months ago and how I was drinking a couple beers a day thinking it wasn’t a problem and how could it have that much effect…let’s just say I’m not even the same person I was six months ago. She was insane.

Alcohol puts my body immediately in an intuitive, fight-or-flight head space and it doesn’t relax me as much as another version of me is convinced it does. In fact, part of the reason I have a hard time relaxing, if I’m honest, is that I don’t know what relaxing is.

As the alcohol goes away, relaxation reveals herself in this sensuous, wholly normal desire to take my time reading. Writing was something I used to rush through and I’m starting to stop in the middle of sentences, think, ponder, take my time.

This is the biggest thing alcohol, or really any addiction, takes from us—time.

How do you spend your time? What do you think about? Are they happy thoughts? Is it time we’ll-spent?

Fiend or Fortune

By day two or three of getting sober, a mechanism in my brain starts to lure me back like cordyceps lure an insect to high ground. I walk into the seven-eleven on autopilot, but I’m on my way to Safeway. We stock our fridge with groceries. I’ve cooked more in a week than I had in a month. I start to notice what it feels like to think with a brain full of nutrients. My brain is healing. The paranoia and feelings of victimhood fade away. I start to realize the fear and guilt and shame shadow of addiction was an illusion built by my own actions and consciousness to keep me complacent so I don’t have to take responsibility to living up to a greater potential.

My fear and uncertainty subsides, replaced by strength and conviction. This is what alcohol was stealing from me.

Probably the hardest part about quitting, other than the physical symptoms—heartburn, gastric discomfort, nausea, panic, dizziness, and for some delirium tremens, seizures—is owning up to what a selfish asshole you’ve been. I’ve been a selfish asshole. I think a lot of people start on the road to recovery, begin to see themselves clearly, and decide they’d rather drink than face that mess. I know I have.

Recovery is work, at first. You come home feeling guilt and shame which were the feelings you were covering up related to how you relate to yourself and others, your traumas, your poor decisions, your tendency to trust the wrong people and never fully open up and the way you never learned to manage money and feel always like a child wandering around in an adult body hoping things work out, whatever, just chill and have a drink. No. You want a drink, have a kombucha or some ginger ale and make yourself some dinner. Alcohol is poison. The feeling you’re looking for is nourishment.

Nourish what’s good lover.

The work looks like cooking a meal, practicing chakra work to heal feelings of inadequacy and clear energy around how I relate to people, yoga, nature, mindfulness, the Tao Te Ching, Ram Dass, inspire. I envision healthy skin, a family, comfort, friends. My ego deflates, shrivels, dies, and a new one begins to form, like a snake that has shed its skin, or a crab rather, soft and fresh, off to weather the world where its shell will again harden.

This isn’t my first attempt at getting sober by any means. The last two years of my life were pretty much an exercise in how to approach sobriety from an angle that I’m not going to talk myself out of. Most alcoholics only meet this angle when they hit rock bottom.

Those words are almost playful compared to the reality. “Rock bottom.”

I was a homeless teacher once. That’s my rock bottom. No…it was the relationship I entered into after that in order to justify my continued alcoholism, a relationship which I then had to end after going to AA and realizing I wasn’t going to make it out with him drinking by my side. I felt hopeless. I’d fucked up a perfectly good life. I drank heavily daily for a couple of years. Many years. They seemed like a couple of years until I counted them.

When you run from yourself, the storm in your wake affects others near you. My best friend’s boyfriend called and said he was afraid of coming home and finding her dead and that he thought her parents would take better care of her, that they were better equipped. I wasn’t sure, but I knew the spin of a dawn-to-dusk drinking cycle and I saw that my friend drank all day to ease her pain. Watching her decline lessened my alcohol intake, gave me the courage to go to AA, and the conviction to leave the toxic relationship I was in.

I wish the real rock bottom wasn’t when my friend died and I lost my mind for a while in the midst of all of the restructuring of perception and rewriting of personal narratives which had to occur after her wake. My best friend was dead.

We were supposed to grow old together. It took a lot of time to rewrite our story in such a way that it ended in her dying, and a lot more time going over what I might have done better, why did we ever have that first drink, why did I ever follow in those footsteps which led us to drinking together? Hadn’t I learned from my family? How had I traced those same footsteps? We never had to drink. How different might it have been?

The guilt was immense once, but I’m resolved now. She made her decisions and I made mine. Sometimes we think we are making choices that will lead us down one path only to find our estimation of consequences missed the mark. I fear this outcome in terms of global warming if only because I saw how suddenly the consequences can go from possibility to reality, but hope is a major ingredient in recovery I think. What matters is how I proceed.

Or maybe the hardest part of recovery is vulnerability or realizing you aren’t worth anything to anyone and that this is the key to finding worth in little things like breathing summer air on a rainy day, seeing flowers in bloom, sipping tea, eating good food.

As my appreciation grows for these small pleasures, I find these pleasures are the ones to live for. A kiss on the cheek, a shower, the smell and feel of clean laundry, silence, the strain of my muscles in the middle of a run. I start to appreciate things that make me feel alive, that build my strength. The little things become bigger things. I read a book and my sober mind grasps the words and sentences differently than the drunk one. Words plug into linear structures called sentences instead of swimming around in a soup of subconscious symbolism and half-tangible ideas.

The every day, the mundane, is sweet and innocent, plain and sometimes boring, but it’s all I could ask for. My body doesn’t ache every day with thirst and withdrawal. The paranoia, guilt, and shame are going away. The mood swings are becoming less intense and the Taoism plus sobriety is helping me to navigate my emotions with reason.

My mantra lately is Relax.

Everything that was taken from me by alcohol came about through worry, stress, anxiety, and efforts to carve myself into something I am not, prevent things that haven’t happened yet, or to bolster my ego when she felt too small.

Approach with curiosity. Do you know you?

I start meditating on what comes into my life with the alcohol leaving. What’s new? What did it take away?

My favorite part of sobriety is that DJ and I haven’t had a fight since I quit. People don’t tell me I’m repeating myself anymore. Those circling meditations on who was out to get me or where the world was fucked up or how it’s all going down don’t occur anymore.

I’m grounded. We’re juicing and eating well. We are connecting. I feel better about offering myself and my time to people because I hate myself less and am remembering I’m as much a person as anyone else and no, there’s nothing wrong with me, and yeah no I don’t drink and that’s totally fine.

I wonder how many alcoholics get sober when they turn thirty. Turning thirty is nice in the fucks-giving department if you’re hoping to give less of those someday. Thirty is like the purge. Purge all those fucks.

A woman comes into my work and buys two bottles of wine on Friday, two more on Saturday, two more on Sunday. I can’t tell if she’s unable to get up from how drunk she is or how many pills she’s on when she sits down to look at the wine. She looks like a pill popper who drinks. She acts like a pill popper who drinks. She argues with me about the cost, about a membership she buys which saves her 5% off and would have paid for itself weeks ago.

She apologizes if she was mean when decides to keep the membership she paid for after I explain it has paid for a third of itself already and maybe she could try it out and save herself some money since I don’t have the code to refund her and what is she out doing purchasing things when she’s this fucked up anyways? She seemed so much less fucked up than the last time.

I see this woman and know she is my future if I drink. Her belly is swollen like a wine sack and her legs are slender sticks in jeans that are in their fourth or fifth wear judging by how they sag. Her shirt is a mesh knit, black stripes and a pinkish beige color that is the same color as her skin. It’s the kind of shirt that needs something underneath but she must figure no one can tell. Over it, she wears a fashionista Army-issue knock-off coat that covers some stylist-dyed do which sticks out of her hood flock of seagulls style.

She has money. Money, I thought once, would help me solve so many of my problems. But my problems were character flaws, values, and the dissonance between who I thought I was and who I really was.

Now that I’m not fiending anymore, I’m starting to see the blessings again. Money isn’t a concern at all at the moment. We’ve been saving and spending responsibly. We aren’t drunkenly spending on things like this woman who I hope to sell some food to next time she comes in and who I hope finds a way to see through the fiend to her fortune as well.

Word of the day: Humility

Practice: Active Listening

Chakra: Three

Trait: Will

Element: Fire

Will yourself today to hope, to listen, to be humble.

Writing exercise: What is coming into your life now that alcohol is leaving it?

The Ol’ Nag n’ Shag

…otherwise known as makeup sex, kind of looks like this.

I get home after a long day and the dishes are in the sink, the man is on the console and my heart’s just not into the whole forgive and chill out thing.

“You don’t hang out with me anymore.”

It’s just a thought, a judgment that bursts from my lips without any actual consideration into whether this is true. My feelings have driven my instincts and actions for so long that if it feels right, I think, it must be true except that’s not true at all.

Reason is one of the first tools of intervention and using it sometimes means checking your feelings, your reactions to those feelings, and deciding on which reaction to take based on the most positive projected outcome, even if your feelings are screaming “NOOOO!”

You know that feeling of I Need a Drink? That urge which isn’t even a voice anymore, or a thought, just a phantom-like, ruling impulse?

Reason is what allows the untamed canine of my mind to walk about the neighborhood without barking and snapping and pissing all over everything, mucking it up for everyone.

No, logic. Logic holds me back. I can reason myself into all kinds of stupid things.

But today, reason or logic don’t prompt me to consider any of these things. I haven’t yet created a flag that tells my brain to consider if this criticism is warranted or not, which is fine by me since that means it hasn’t been enough of a problem to warrant flags, at least compared to other problems.

Most likely, I’m just uptight after a long day and need a run and a bath and some dinner, but tight- wound, tightwad me just sees dishes and obstacles and complaints.

My man and I hang out all the time. If anything, we probably spend too much time together, so I don’t know why I’m saying things like, “we don’t hang out anymore,” unless there’s a part of me that thinks this is how I’m going to get what I really want.

I don’t even know what that is 75% of the time.

I’m hard on myself and nagging is my least favorite of the stereotypes attributed to women, or the wifely figure, in a relationship.

But there’s a place for a little nagging sometimes, especially if the end result is the ol’ nag n’ shag. At the same time, I don’t want nagging to become the mechanism by which I garner attention when that’s really all I’m looking for, which I end up discovering in hindsight.

The reason this sits with me today is that when I fuck up, nag, hurt someone, or otherwise enact some kind of damage upon myself or my loved ones or my environment, I have a tendency to think that talking about it or processing it or working it all out is going to make things better.

I was listening to Russel Brand’s Recovery today and he said something like, you can make amends, while I was thinking about all the damage I’d done to myself and others because of alcohol.

You can make amends for the things you have done wrong.

I fear fucking up so badly that amends will not be possible. I don’t want to pick little fights if they are going to add up, for instance, me just being a big nag.

My biggest fear, perhaps, about embarking on an alcohol-free life is that no amount of amends is going to help and maybe this is just the sad state of my life until it’s over.

That is, of course, irrational. Some hurts are temporary. Some are long lasting. The day after this unreasonable declaration, I was all wrapped up in my mind about nagging my man and all the little wrong icky, prickly things I could conjure to fret over, and the fact that I have time to make amends if necessary showed me it wasn’t. The little nag which threatens to become a big problem of ignored threatens to be just as big a problem if handled too much.

I ignored all my instincts to try and fix right away, send a text, a blaming why don’t you message, but all I’m trying to fight is my own shame at having picked an unreasonable fight and now having to wait out the consequences.

My mom being the therapist that she is, I grew up learning how to talk things out, often right away. The problem with this is if you don’t feel the emotional impact of the interaction fully, you’re likely to repeat the mistake again. It’s a human thing.

So instead of feeling the impact of many of my mistakes, I’ve talked my way through or out of them only to make the same mistakes over and over.

It’s alright now to just let that impact be felt. Apologize when the time is right. Move on. Don’t do it again or the consequences get bigger. No judgment or blame. Just know this is a natural law of your human life. Reason and logic are there to allow us to make informed decisions based on our emotional climate.

Then again, if he hated the nagging, we wouldn’t have the ol’nag n’shag.

So maybe my judgment of the nag is the issue here.

It’s relax.