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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Turn and Turn.

Round and Round and Round it Goes.....

...Where it Stops Nobody Knows.

That's what sticks most in the craw when it comes to inner demons: they never stop having a say in your life. You wish they'd just go and stay gone.

Our media makes us addicts to the Miracle Cure.  Have a weight problem? Try the Zone, the Paleo, the Crawl, the Butterfly, the Strain. You're unhappy? Buy a car! An iPad Mini will put a smile on your face if the iPad didn't. Just get yourself a new house, a better job, more money, a man, a woman, Jesus, a baby, a submarine, a rocket-powered elephant, and all your problems will vanish. The message says internal turbulence has an external pacifier. Wouldn't that be lovely?

Your inner demons are a part of you. You were compelled to make them. You survived by staying hidden in their twists and folds. Then conditions changed. You grew up. You got out. The folds ceased to be protection; they caught your feet, tripped you up, held you back. You sought help and met your demons face-to-face for the first time. You came to understand them a little. Session by session you regained the control you'd handed them when the world was too hard to face any other way. You learned how to hold on when they fought back. You found you were strong enough on your own. Now you don't need them any more.

The inner demons don't know that, don't want to hear it, won't ever believe it. Their reality will forever be the nightmare that gave them purpose and they will always try to make you see the world through their eyes. You can dismiss them, calm them, quiet them, but forget about getting rid of them. They are part of your framework. You don't reach peace by waging war against yourself but by achieving a detente with the little bastards. They ruled you, once upon a time. You have to parent them to keep them quiet.

Periodically you'll slip and they'll drive you for a while.

Remember what you've learned and gently push them aside.

There is no Miracle Cure.

Healing comes one twist at a time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stormy Weather.

Hey. Looks to me like you're getting soaked out there.

You know you can come inside any time, right?

And therein lies the problem: translating awareness into action. It's easier to hold tight and hope for clear skies. The longer you wait, the easier waiting becomes, until the day when waiting is all you know how to do.

You got stuck out in the rain one step at a time. Quit thinking about retrieving safety in giant leaps. Go back to the tried and true method that you misused. Give yourself permission to take a step or two towards a place that's dry and warm instead. Keep at it.  That's what will make it into a habit.

One day you'll look up and realize you reached the sunshine all by yourself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The End of the Road.

Is it?

The end of the road represents a choice. You can choose a new direction and move on.

The depressive's addendum to that moldy oldie "when one door closes, another one opens" is good to remember when you're trying to change where your feet tend to take you. (Hopefully you'll forgive the mixing of metaphors. That appears to be the leading indicator of today's personal climate.) The mentally ill know better than most how the doors tend to change shape the more you insist on the downward ride; how they get to be smaller, bleaker, less inviting, until the roads they lead to disappear into trackless forest.

The doors behind you often wind up locked. That's the toll for the road you've taken.

Don't give up on creating change within yourself but let go of the need for absolution. Changing your behavior is the best thing you can do for earning forgiveness. Just don't count on it. Don't expect it. Try to be a better person right now, this minute, then the next, and again, and again. Good habits accrue as the bad ones do, step by step. The straightest roads meander. Should they bend back towards a door that was once locked and you discover it's open again, celebrate your own growth for an instant. Absorb what it feels like to recover lost ground.

Big doors lead to smaller ones on bad roads. Make yourself turn around.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A High Note on Drama.

The Holidays have come back around.

Let the screaming commence.

We hate certain cliches for their obnoxious condescending truth like we hate listening to a singer whose voice we can't stand. It doesn't matter to me that Jimmy Corrigan is a rock star, nor (more importantly, for the sake of this analogy) that he's hitting his notes spot-on. I don't want to hear him doing it. If he happens to be singing about something that speaks directly to my experience in a chiding way I am even less inclined to tolerance.

The cliche I'm thinking of is "you can only change yourself".

Yes, it's true. Sure it is. It provides little comfort when you're awash in family disharmony.

I will find my way through to loving those I care for without getting hung up on old thorns. I know how to get there. I got the basic pattern down from digging my way to Dad's self-murder and back out again and the prospect of being a disassembled motorbike scattered across my life's living room floor is endurable for the prize I know is waiting at the end of the grind. Self-work is always worth it. Whether you get the spark from Jung, or the Torah, or Tony Robbins carries less weight than the good you can do from a place of peace. I don't hold with the idea that God only shines light on those who do good in the Authorized Way. That's not the model that produced Mahatma Ghandi nor Martin Luther King...or Jesus, for that matter. Doing good is foundational more than fundamental.

It's a hard row to hoe. Sometimes I can see past the button-pushing, crazy-making family patterning to all the things I admire and love. Much of the time I'm holding the scream back right behind my teeth. can only change yourself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pre-Turkeyfest Musings

The first rock opera I ever heard was Pete Townsend's collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, "Tommy". It came in a big two-record set with a full-color insert whose contents were partly graphic--illustrations in a style like Peter Max on acid, or is that redundant?--partly artfully-staged photographs. Here's Tommy's pinball machine on the beach. Here it is, nestled amongst scrub and deadwood. Here's the chrome of the pinball containing the world in mirrored backwards perfection. Here's Cousin Kevin, made out of thick plasticized strokes the width of your thumb, and here's the chair he used to torture Tommy, the stylized chunks of glass rising from the seat in jagged mountain ranges.

The metaphor of the chair was a regular feature in my therapy drawings. It wasn't a conscious choice on my part. I made the connection six years after I began drawing my way through healing. The messages in the photographs and art from Tommy penetrated deep and so cleanly I needed the shock of therapy to understand how profoundly they'd affected me. This is a chair, and also a prison cell, and a panic room with glass walls, a baby's crib and the dentist's chair from Marathon Man, where I played both Dustin Hoffman and Sir Lawrence Olivier. The chair was where I was supposed to be.

Pete and his buddies put that kid Tommy through an awful lot of crap. He witnesses his father murdering his mother's lover. Mother and father demand he blot the event from his memory. Tommy's a dutiful little kid and he does what any child desperate for his parent's love would do. He finds a way to bend to their will. He makes himself deaf, dumb and blind.

That doesn't sound outrageous to me. Adults put their kids through jarring realignments of what equals security all the time. What wouldn't you do to stay in the shelter of your parent's shadow? What would you sacrifice to keep them together if they were getting divorced? What would you willingly become to make one parent happy after the other has died? A puppet? A perfect student? A hellion? A china doll? A perpetual child?

Tommy's spell is broken when his mother shatters his mirror, the only physical thing he's reacted with since the murder. Does that mean his mirror was like a projection screen for his mind's eye? Maybe that was the idea. It sets him free. The circle is broken and he spills into the world as a prophet.

I have never experienced one overwhelming shift in self-perception from which all the days that followed were free of old weights (or chairs). My revelations have come as fast as I've been able to handle them. Sometimes that's in been in bunches, like a fistful of grapes. More often it's been a slog. I got out of my chair like an agoraphobic going to the grocery store, slowly, hesitantly, resentfully. Comfort and confinement combined make you a junkie for dependence. I hated that I hated letting go of such a crippling thing.

The chair rests discarded in the attic of my head. I stumble across it now and then. I know I don't fit there any more. You can't blame a guy for trying. It's scary out there.

May tomorrow give you many reminders of what you have to be thankful for. May you face no Cousin Kevins or Uncle Ernies over the dinner table. I wish you love and to be loved in return.

May you be free.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here I Go.

Confidence. Does anybody have that stuff bottled?

Who's to say they'd sell it to you, if they did.

You have to go get it for yourself.

I've learned an interesting tidbit about the world, though. It's a little fact with a great right hook. Here it comes. We're all born to fall for good eventually. We come equipped with the bounce to get back up as well. It's the force that keeps us loving when there seems to be no point to living. The bounce gives you the power to make a reason for living all by yourself.

If you've got that bounce in spades, bless your little pointed head, but if that bounce is hard to find, as it sometimes is for all of us, keep on trying anyway.

Fake it until you can make it. Don't let your opponent fool you into believing anything less. Everyone is going to fall in the end. Get in there and swing like fury. You can get back up, so go.


Monday, November 12, 2012

I walked into the world and the world bit me in the ass. I walked into relationships with my eyes closed and it bit me in the ass. I walked through life and life bit me in the ass.

Problems you can't see are kin to the crocodiles you can't see--they're the ones you should worry about.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Thursday! Have an Addidasaurus!

Turns out these rare beasties are found in my neck of the woods! Who knew? They tend to be a damn sight shaggier (and are hybridized with Columbia hiking boots instead of running shoes) but every bit as friendly. Feed 'em Ju-Ju Bees and they'll do Immelmanns for you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Because I can...

...I did!

Though exactly what I did is still a source of perplexity.

Me and Red/Green are getting along pretty well these days but I think I need to start seeing someone else. It'd be good for us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Miss a day....

....add a day. Then try to figure out something new.

And a couple hours this morning brings us a better painting and a much happier me.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Take one thing at a time. Do a thing a day. Then two things. Then three things.

Small accomplishments snowball into big ones.

Dream big....start small.

Thank you, Phil Hale and train wreckage.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Don't ask what he's after.

Imagine having to clean up after the guy. Wuf.

I'm gonna see about posting one critter a day for seven days and see how it goes. Why not break a dry spell with a new thing?

Monday, March 5, 2012

And now, an Idea.


Ever wonder what being empty-headed would feel like? Sometimes I do.

Certain advantages are obvious. Think of the storage space! Not having to carry a lunch pail, a handy place of concealment for your iPhone or wallet, that elusive storage bay for when you're trying to juggle one thing too many and you need a temporary residence for the Stilton and that bottle of Chateau Latour so you can find your car keys; the possibilities are as bewildering in their variety as a snowstorm in June. Consider, for example, that you'd never risk losing your car keys again if you could store them in your head. They might periodically poke the backs of your eyes. What a small price to pay for peace of mind! All you had to do was pitch your mind in the trash.

Catching errant thoughts would be a breeze. Who cares if they're not yours? It would be worth it to sieve out all the rotten thoughts, leaving the happy ones behind, even if you end up catching a little bird crap now and again. This would be a commercial-free experience. The big corporations haven't yet figured out how to pollute your brain directly (though I'm positive they're working on it). Imagine a head full of pleasant notions, rose petals, an extra anorak, a list of the most expensive Italian shoes. Maybe even a bunny. Or--oh wait, this is AWESOME--you could rent out the space!! Think of that! Your empty head trusted to hold the valuables of some celebrity or Head of State! You could be walking about normal as anything while Chuck Norris's extra underpants are safely concealed in your noggin. That has to be worth some serious cash.

It would probably fill up with rain water. You'd need to beware of large men wanting to use you as a beer stein. I suppose that would only be in Germany. Falling victim to pranksters would be a risk. How long would it take you to notice your head was full of grass clippings? Or condoms filled with Crisco? Or a dead cat? Elephants might reach from their cages and root around inside your skull without permission. A latch or zipper might be appropriate.

Think about it. Or don't! What has your mind ever given you but trouble, anyhow?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Run Run Run!

Ever feel like you're never enough people to keep up?

There's the Public You, the one you need to assure folks you aren't a crazy person, liable to launch yourself at their throat if provoked. Of particular use in the event you are a crazy person and you'd like to be left alone. Ostensibly this person is supposed to keep the Rest of You "safe".  As if the Public You could influence the pull of gravity or prevent the nudge that points the Metro bus straight at you when you step off the curb.

There's the Friendly You. Who is that person, anyway? The one who keeps everyone happy! Isn't that your job? God only knows what would happen if they weren't happy. They might--they might--

---leave You alone.

Alone with You. Isn't that Just Plain Alone? What if you have no idea who You are under all those layers? Imagine being alone with the one you've spent years ignoring. Is that really being alone?

Oh hell yes it is.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcome aboard, 2012

And if it's the End of the World we have coming, then that's just fine. I choose to live, regardless of the consequences.

2011 was like traveling a comet's orbit around the sun. A case for extremes and instability....but without that parabola you'd never fledge. Be ready for the truth to come. You might as well. Truths come down the road blind and indifferent as a wrecking ball. One truth is that you'll fledge multiple times over your life. Adulthood is a state of mind leveraged against the constant pressures of swimming in the stream. Some days you'll stand fast. Other days you'll be swept off your feet. Accept that big dreams demand big risks.

Swim back to shore. Stand up again.