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Thursday, November 25, 2010

What about MY Dark Matter? plus Robert A. Lowe aka Lichens

Very moving for me, very long (17 minutes), but I found quite worth it. I hear it as a soul gathering courage and reaching out meeting like-souls and reverberating around itself. I love music and the power of the voice, the language that we can all understand.

The snow is falling again, we have almost 4 inches, and it is beautiful. The element that turned the word blanket into a verb! Although I think our culture today allows for the "verbification" of pretty much any and every word.

I love to sing, I have been in a few bands and choirs over the years. Most recently a Pink Floyd Tribute Band called All in All ( We covered all of their songs from the mid 60's to The Division Bell (1994 I think). I got to sing a part of The Great Gig In the Sky, we even put about 10 videos on Youtube. Great Gig was a wondrous experience because there are no words. As the subject matter is one's death, the song is about putting sounds to the feelings one might have whilst pondering death. So every time I got to sing it, it allowed me to channel my rage, my grief out to the audience. While I have definitely received many less than flattering reviews, I always felt cleansed after singing. Detoxed a bit. As if the song were the leeches through which I bled out my despair. In my worst times, I stopped listening to music, I didn't laugh, indeed seeing/hearing others laugh left me mystified.

Yesterday was therapist day, started off okay just discussing the week's events and the puppy (of course!), even brought in my crackberry to show her some pics, however, me being new to the technology, the images remained unviewed. Oh well. Then I went on to describe an encounter I had had with a man busking downtown, he was still wearing a poppy so I thanked him for the music and asked him if he was a veteran.

Suffice to say, bad idea (for me anyway). Tragic story ensued (well d-uh Kel). He seemed to want to talk though, and I tried to listen and then I needed to excuse myself and walk away. I could barely tell Maura (my psych) about it. I cried so hard, words choking out of me wanting to tell, couldn't look at her, I closed my eyes. I guess the story was a lightning rod for every other sadness I had witnessed - mine or another's. It is astonishing to me how completely my sadness and shame take over, suffusing my entire body, and I played cat, closing my eyes in an effort to hide. Part of me understands how the mind can work in these ways, yet my heart is so full to breaking, the proverbial lump in the throat - with me even now. I wonder if therapy is just retraumatising, or instead does it serve to tweeze out my psychological splinters? Some pain in the extraction, some lingering pre and post inflammation, then a gradual cessation of all. What differs is I cannot see the site of the extraction (or the entrance for that matter). There is no where on my body to place it. No map. No GPS. My body is surely storing these memories, I have no doubt, in the U-store that is my brain. I guess there are just many remaining, all jockeying for position, wanting to be seen and heard before they will stop haunting. Isn't this the theory behind ghosts? We are here, despite ourselves sometimes, and we call out in various ways (sometimes encoded and or incomprehensible barely detectable). The catch of being acknowledged. Wanting it, but fearful of the consequences real or imagined. And I am supposed to have faith that these are real and my emotions understandably hyperboled, I am supposed to have faith. How does one have faith when those things which seemed faith-worthy in the past have proven unworthy?

Yep, an emotional GPS would be fantastic. I mean this says a lot about what is considered important in our culture. We have devices to tell us where we are in our car or on foot, devices to connect us to other devices ad infinitum. Soon we will have no need of hardware. So much money, so many brilliant minds dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of space travel, launching thousands of satellites into orbit, detecting the most inner working of atoms and matter, billions maybe trillions spent on the Hadron Collider (and concomitant t-shirts). Yesterday they "successfully" smashed two beams of protons together, falling on the heels of their "successful creation" of a mini black hole Nov 8th). I want someone to detect the whereabouts and characteristics of MY dark matter, spend some money and minds on that, assholes!

Until we get the gist on ourselves, we have little hope of replenishing our planet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flinching at What's Possible

Nothing like a call from Veteran's Affairs to fuck me up. Suddenly I am stripped bare of all protections. Not even my scar tissues can stop the stabbing guilt. Plunging to the root of me. I am rendered speechless, dreadfully fearful. They'll find me out! They'll call me a faker, i see the call as a waste when there are SO many more people out there suffering, people without homes, without loved ones, without the prospect of any of these  - they are invisible, their urge to self-protect keeping themselves out of view, out of harm's way. Any interaction can be harmful. So we stay away we hide out, we don't speak we don't connect, all the while staring longingly at signs of friendships blooming elsewhere. People giving up because you take too much energy to sustain a relationship.We excel at self-fulfilling prophecies, at self-sabotage. It adds credence to our self-theories. If we are indeed bad people, everything makes sense. No other explanation is necessary.

Fear is so powerful, it is a paradox. Our will to survive at odds with our will to survive. We live with the harm we know, dread the the risk of others. Flinch at what is possible, because anything is possible. We know this so bitterly and painfully. Any thing is possible. The capacity for utter ruination lurks everywhere. This stark existence suffices.

New Life and Rituals to Assuage Some Grief

Snow's still here, very unusual for Nov on the west coast. Excitement permeates the household cause we are getting a puppy. Here he is at 3 wks. He's very cute and will be needing a great deal of love, exercise and activity. We've called him Strider. We love the Lord of the Rings. We haven't had a pet since my cat died in 2003. Feeling like we are finally ready. He will be a wonderful addition to our little family of 2. Adding life and energy to our home - we both need it I think. I am of course very nervous about the prospect - not trusting that I can properly care for the little fella. That's not surprising, I still feel guilty over my cat's death, although my family reassures me that there is no reason to feel this way. I loved her though. I still miss her. She was whacked out, hostile and yelled at birds.

I think maybe it will help with our grief over losing our baby too. Almost 4 yrs ago I miscarried (well in truth the miscarriage was induced because the little life inside me had stopped developing, even before I knew I was pregnant).  13 weeks. I remember how happy Ken and I both were when I found out. We had sort of quasi talked about having children and I think we both wanted one together but felt it was too late in life. Nonetheless we were happy and excited at the prospect. Then I had 2 ultrasounds and there was the sac devoid of something - what was the word they used? viable. Such detachment, it sends the message that I am not then allowed to grieve this non-viable fetus. So what ensues falls under the rubric - complex (or compounded) grief. We performed a ritual - we kayaked for 15 or so km one way to the end of this island in Johnstone Strait (North end Vancouver Island)to where there are powerful ocean currents - I had made a message in a bottle, each of us wrote a letter to our lost little baby - I had named her Nova - and I added some of our hair and my pre-natal vitamins. We reached the end of the island then together released the bottle. Then we paddled back, the weather had turned so it was a much more intense return trip. Then 3 of my sisters came to visit and we had a little ritual at the beach at a good low tide. These rituals help, they give focus and permission. Yet the grief lingers with each menses - my body discarding itself. I look at the blood and tissue with wonder and longing. There is such mystic promise within us all.
Got some more wood, filled up our woodbox, it's chilly for here. I have love to give, and soon more lives to give to. I can't help but think that this helps my little corner of the world. I know little Strider will help us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Too short for a title...

I am struggling with this blogging business, writing things then they disappear. I had written an entire extra bit into yesterday's happy blog, but it was not so happy, rather bleak actually. Perhaps the universe just stepped in and swept it away, removed the toxin. So I guess that's ok. I have of course a great deal of vanity permeating my proud words. I try to find the word that fit best so I am a tad choked my words are gone, I felt proud of some of the things I had set down. I don't think pride should be a sin, at least I think we all have felt pride at some point and as long as we name as such, what harm is there.

Had a lovely long walk with my friend, all is ok so far. So i'll go with that.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Good Day with a little Jeeves and Wooster

This morning we awoke to a clean cover of snow. Everything always looks so lovely, it's always nice that first snow that stays. We usually don't get snow out here in Nov - the ski hill will be busy I am sure. I went out and shook the heavy snow off of the various shrubs - the twigs and smaller branches have a predilection for snapping off beneath the snow's deceptive weight. Would that there was some reliable mental shaking that could remove the heaviness.

Although, today is a pretty good day. I got two wheelbarrows of wood, laundered, sorted some camping clothes and worked out whilst watching another episode of "Jeeves and Wooster" I find it quite charming. Hilarious too. I can barely keep up to the banter between Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. They are each adept at physical comedy, Fry of course brilliant in his subtleties. Laurie is definitely channelling John Cleese. I recommend this show. I watch it while I work out - spontaneous guffawing ensues. I've been trying to workout on a regular basis, it does help me feel better, kind of charges me up for the day.

The snow and cold are wonderful. There is so much oxygen outside!! I inhale deeply and it courses through me suffusing the scar tissue with healing.

I've been making more art, I feel steadier about it now, even excited, so this is good. Tomorrow I meet a friend for a long walk - also good.

Laughter is such a tonic. Goodness abounds.

28 Oct

Saw my therapist yesterday, I see her about once a week. Talked about some experiences, talked about how I'll have a memory (I can't call it intrusive because that dishonors the person I recall) immediately followed by a color commentary by my judgmental self. So for a treat (my therapist suggests I "treat" myself after a tough session [it's difficult to use adjectives like tough because all I am doing is talking, on the surface anyway, but the tough part is seeing their faces, seeing the impact their agony continues to have, I am reluctant to see my pain in the same light, because for me I judge it as removed, vicarious]) I got another holes # 7&8 installed in my ears).

How can I say it's tough for me when I didn't see what they saw, didn't hear, smell, watch, feel what they did, but here is the not-so-silver lining of having the imagination I do, it was never hard to conjure a pretty graphic picture of their experiences. And of course, each person could paint a very detailed picture of what happened. My double edged sword aka empathy, which I am grateful still to have (although I see that this developed as a survival skill from very early on in my life, see it was very helpful to be able to read the room as it were, to detect trouble - now I just can't shut it off) could get pretty close to each person as they were reliving, and I tried hard to create a place of safety where a person could release their particular poison. What never occurred to me (and what she, my therapist pointed out) was that not only did I hear of hundreds of others' horror, I also witnessed the relentless impact on them. As a human being (sometimes I think I am human) it is not normal to remain unmoved.

So the cumulative impact of the graphic stories, the cumulative impact of being with people in such evident anguish - this is what I live with. And most days I dismiss my "impact" as less than. It's certainly not the same. I liken it - whereas each person I worked with having had a "s"load of acid thrown at them - to perhaps a few drops spilled on me in my efforts (I tried to help, I really tried, I made many mistakes, times where I was unprofessional, times where I didn't know what I was doing but thought my good heart would be enough, too many times left reeling in the wake of what people are capable of). So I think that after talking with several hundred people, trying so hard to be their ally, to be an authentic witness, to honor the courage of each person's risk in speaking out, that's several hundred drops of acid on me.

Being immersed in the blatant sexism, racism, seeing and living in this world that is so insidiously violent towards woman, assaults things that permeated the everyday, this was my baseline. On top of this, the rampant despair of my "clients" - there needs to be a better word for all of these brave souls. Crisis work EVERYDAY. Suicide intervention, pretty much EVERYDAY. These are not lightweight situations. These are situations where the Chaplains, the Commanding Officers called me and ask what they should do.

This is where I feel like I'm entering into the realm of whining, of wallowing, but I'm trying to understand what happened, without the harsh judgments of my mind that undercuts any "evidence" I bring to the table.

So I often stay at home to avoid jump starting my empathy, I live in a small town, it's not uncommon to see/run into a former client. My immediate reactions is always fear, then guilt: I assume they have only hatred for me. Here are many retired veterans living here. I don't call myself a veteran, I reserve that term for those who served directly in combat. I don't feel that I have earned it.

All About Swarm and the Will - written in September

This is the companion video I sent with Swarm II to Beijing in an effort to explain. Not a great video quality wise, but the bees are spot on!

Art is such therapy for me and so is nature - especially tides. Tides are entirely reliable, they come in they go out. When we lose our foundations and call everything into question, tides offer hope for new trustworthy foundations.

There are many more examples in nature that perpetuate the the idea of will. Will to live will to live, despite voices telling us otherwise. Finding that stopper finding our personal barricades against self-harm. The days of despair mock our will. Our will patiently waits out despair and vice versa.

Whoopsie, not able to attach video, maybe i can make a link to it

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Crime of Wanting Attention

Been awhile.

Lost what to say, or lost the urge to say. Or lost. I think the days leading up to and around Remembrance day are particularly charged. I had been feeling very dull. Although i did finally wear a poppy, it took awhile before I felt I could. Seeing them everywhere felt odd. Some how at first I didn't feel able to wear one, not sure why. Likely feeling too dishonorable to have the right. This thought is often lurking about. I wondered about not blogging at all. I wondered whether I should have a happy or at least interesting but not so dirge-like blog. I thought about what I could talk about at the next session with my psychologist. Felt it was time to deal with the real rather than imagined guilt. I think it was a good choice, but such talk does wrench one. I thought if I could call and apologise to the person (one at a time) I felt I had let down, betrayed, etc that might allow some release. I can't however recall their last name. So now I am thinking about how to find this out. Yet it suddenly occurs to me that it is once again something I think will help me, ultimately not this person. That would place such action precisely into the not-even-remotely-altruistic spectrum of possible actions. Thought and counterthought really.

So on it goes.

Trying to give myself permission to create a space wherein to express these thoughts and feelings that I worry will offend, outrage, hurt others. I imagine "How dare she?" ad infinitum. Then I think, how powerful and important do I think I am?  In any aspect of any and all "schemes of things" I matter not. People respond to people they care about, or know. Knowing is about recognizing a common ground, reading/hearing the words that pass through another's mind. Detecting the self in others. A potential to heal all hurts, to share at minimum, to parse out the hurts to many rather than one set of shoulders, particularly to banish the sense of such utter alone-ness.

I imagine there is no-one who understands or, what's better, can truly validate the impact I feel, fight against. Because it lays somewhere in the liminal spaces of experience. Always on the edge of comprehension, apprehension. There exist many shared traits, this human being ness.  I have often thought there is more we share in common than not. That attaining a truly globally peaceful existence is rooted in detecting our "shares". It is to easy to find the difference, our survival brain scouts them out for us with boundless enthusiasm and reacts before we register. It is harder work to push through this fear. Our planet's survival, not just for we human types, depends upon it.

I do at times feel completely isolated - alien. There is of course great kindness, compassion abounds - just not for me (from me). People try to help me and it is wonderful to feel so cared for, I do appreciate the caring efforts. But. I wonder whether the effort is worth it because it does not register with me. I want to say to all the caring ones, stop trying, please stop, it's up to me. Please focus your efforts where some good can be done. Any good that can be done, that is worth doing on my behalf I must discover and do. I love attention, I want to feel that I matter, that I deserve to live this life I have been given. It hurts to hear people say "He/She just wants attention?". When did wanting to feel that you matter to someone become a crime? Why has it been accorded such disdain?

It's mid-November, the first snow has set down. I love Frost's "whose woods these are I think I know..." Music and muffled clarity in the deep snow. Thank you Robert.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mind Sedge

Healthy and unhealthy behaviour.

Do I ever hate being told what to do. Someone giving me *advice* is not greeted graciously. As with most everything I seem to do, fear is my guide. Is it because when someone notices something I am doing, I feel afraid and immediately paranoid, just because i have been noticed? such that I cannot hear the kind (hopefully) intent behind what sounds mean-spirited. Sometimes people give good advice and I'm not ready/able to hear it. It has to get past my censors first, my scorn detectors, my critique detectors. Sometimes maybe the advice is inappropriate. Sometimes it's what the advisor should consider doing, not doling.

I have lots of experience hiding in the wide open. Much of my life, this has been a successful strategy, convinced no one has seen me. Being seen exponentially increases the risk of being harmed. I could play cat, remain unseen because others remain unseen. Most of us go about our day only seeing what we need, want to see, or that which is necessary to completing the day's tasks. Thus a lot gets missed. It's what I depend on. With attention comes the call to interact, to answer questions to come up with suitable social connections. I can't dwell at the surface for too long, I crave intensity - so that I can then receive care for my hurt? So circular, such trappings, it goes nowhere, it grows not, only leaches away. Spinning, not toiling. Eroding what care I have.

It's a hard line wanting to be valued while remaining a ghost. I've been reading other peoples' blogs: tales of personal horror, such dignity, honesty, clarity, humanity in the face of the worst imaginable instances. I want to crawl into a crack in shame. These are the markers by which I judge my worth. Where  I come away feeling ineffectual, useless - a poser. Pretending to be human. Adopting a character defined by loss. I cannot count myself among the hurt. I cannot. These are the people whose trauma and anguish is founded in reality, people with real, raw events scoring their psyches. In my desperation to belong I see the potential for care as a person who has lived in trauma. My vicariously derived troubles pale against the stories of others. There is no bell curve that includes me.

I'm in a crack of my own making. No one else can fit in. It's far removed from all else. I don't know where I belong. Humans feel don't they? Animals feel? My feelings are imposters. At most I'm a slight irritation. When I put on my game face I'm larger than life, because I'm actually smaller than life, I exist around life's edges.

So this is mind leaching, writing what pops out/up. Tears come. I wish I knew where from. Technically an indicator of feelings I am given to understand. There just doesn't seem to be an adequate explanation. to what can this slight dampening be attributed? Burning behind the eyes, air passage clumping  what the fuck is going on????? I just need to know where I fit, what is my place? It's not selfish to want to be at peace is it? I want a life I can feel proud to live. Not this shuffling around, dreading each new dawn, clockhounding, hiding killing the hours till I can go back to bed. I don't think this is what my body is meant for, what a waste, thankless wallowing. Someone  else should have this body, I'm not using it properly. Some else should have these things I have, I'm not using them, I am not grateful nor gracious. I'm not alive. This can't be what it's supposed to be. I hope to hell there are some people who can say they are living, that they have lived. I want them to tell me what it's like. I don't know. I'm just sedge. Former and future plant life. Compost before I hit the stage. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

Just what is the fucking point. Someone tell me so it sinks in. Someone make it make sense. I can't. never mind, I won't believe you anyway.

Channelling My Inner Tasmanian Devil

Living in a relatively small town, very near to my last military posting. So I run into former clients from time to time and sometimes their families. Yesterday I was having a walk with a friend (I love to walk so i have to make dates with people so I get out of the house - I can sort of commit to others, less frequently to moi).  Well, lo and behold family of a former client walk by.

I don't even know what to say anymore. It's not my right.

My husband says I've been acting very scattered recently, he's right. It seems like it's all been said, that there is nothing new to say. Just that I feel dull inside. Not new either.

Must go and pretend to be interested in my art, act as if. I watch life from a distance. Sort of detached, quasi-curious. wondering how is it that I am the alien. Where's my island of misfits?  Planet of, really. This world does not fit. I'm undercover such that I've fooled myself. No idea where truth and fantasy separate, it all blurs together and all the while I watch, or hide. Keep waiting to wake up.

Last night I was so violent in my dreams. I was consumed with anger. I was hitting people, repeatedly, yelling so loud, swearing, it's a wonder I didn't wake my husband up. I  carry this anger daily. it feeds my mistrust, my paranoia, my quick draw defensiveness. It wasn't even a scary dream, just - just - one where I was enraged and taking it out on everyone. Channelling my inner tasmanian devil

Tasmanian-devil.jpg How cute is this???

OK, don't feel like writing anymore.