Service

More processing needs doing and as is your usual style, you do it through writing. Your mother would be horrified to know you aired your private life so publicly, yet you reject her and her bullshit for the sake of your own sanity and anything it might offer others from your experience. 

You are pondering whether to identify more strongly with mental illness as what else can cause so much impact in your life without particular cause? The pain and subsequent numbness appears seemingly in response to environmental factors, but the script is so familiar it seems beyond the environment at the same time. The loopy looping of negative shit talk and knotty churned up feelings are relentless. Sure there is some respite when you are distracted by tasks and duties for others, but in quiet alone times you are at its mercy. And the connection you so sadly yearn for seems unattainable. Or unrecognisable. 

There are a number of people who respond when you publicly share your shame, yet it fails to reach that part of you that wants it most. This whole thing seems to be delusion but then so must life be as this is all you’ve known. The absence of this feeling only exists when you are serving others, which is good and welcomed, however, it seems inevitable that when you are faced with serving yourself, you fail. 

Note to other 

You should get away from me now. I’ve warned you before. At this point it seems impossible that I can unlock myself. There is no outlet. It is all so tightly bound and submerged, not unfelt. There seem no words for its expression. All the theories in the world make no difference. It is silent yet pervasive. It is isolating and further disconnecting. Pushing away that which is wanted the most. Yearning for a release yet knowing enough how dangerous that can be. But how dangerous is non-expression? Time to put the mask on; there are things to do 😶

Note to self #2

You are at day one of your cycle. (Or maybe it was yesterday given that’s when the shedding started. It’s hard to know when to start counting.) You’ve decided to stay at home from school. You woke up during the night to rain and felt the need to cocoon yourself at home. Plus, you’ve shaved your head to a number one around the sides and back—preparing for your mohican-style—and you feel fragile and vulnerable exposing yourself to the harsh realities of the world again today.

G is available so he’s picking you up at 10.30 for Rimutaka Forest Park. You’re hoping to process these ancient emotions of unworthiness and subsequent anger that result in pushing away what you want the most—the affection of your beloved. It is partly driven by a reluctance to fully give in to the vulnerability—protection from the hurt and frustration. You have a fear of your own emotions—the ‘negative’ ones: frustration, anger, wanting, desire—and sexuality and sensuality.

Interestingly, the shorter your hair becomes, the more you seek your feminine identity. You are really exploring your true self and the many guises she comes in. The insecurity comes along when you focus your attention on external responses—it is this that activates the fear. It is your over-identification with, or ability to sense the energies of, others and the idea of cutting off, isolating from it, does not feel totally right. Yet, there is a need, as yet undiscovered, for some form of force-field shield to block out the negative energies (as you’ve done with certain people), while remaining connected and not isolated from the world. You sense it is by projecting your true self—the open, accepting, inclusive, whole, intuitive, wise, compassionate, courageous self—and blocking the fear of their powerful opposites.

Go forth and project yourself out there, on your terms. Keep teaching, guiding, inspiring, and encouraging as you go about your life. This is your way. Extend that net out to include your nearest, dearest, and include him in your world.

Don’t dwell on the doubts and insecurities. Recognise them, cut them off, block them and resume on the path of your mission, in your way. Stay close and true to the Gohonzon (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) and you’ll be right.

Recognise the myriad wiles of your shadow, be grateful for her lessons, learn from them, and strengthen your Buddhahood.

Unleash your true self: your Buddha nature.

Experiment and express yourself fully, whole-heartedly.

Yours truly x

A note to yourself

The original people of Australia sing to enact the spirit’s will into the present, material world. When they sense a need, they sing the elements or functions of the cosmos needed to enact the change. Their artwork and music depict these scenes and events. 

For you to sing the need, you might sing the lioness of the pride who holds the pride together and maintains the connections. The Leo is intuitive and sensitive, given easily to excruciating swings of mood due to the effects of intense energy flow in great distance between opposite poles. She relies on her intuition to keep her connection. 

You might also sing the tigress for her staunch loyalty, to herself above all, to her code, and to the dignity of her purpose. Neither lioness nor tigress doubt their mission; they are their mission. As with your writing, your mission is your process and your product. 

Your journey, with all its highs and lows, is the process. You are led by your heart and it speaks to you ever louder as you listen for it and deepen your trust in it. It doesn’t let you down and it knows everything. The bidirectional connection with others (including yourself) is the product. 

You spend your week working in the sacred space of life and death (and living it daily) so by the weekend, especially when you’ve been busy and not had much balance, you need your weekends–both days–to unwind and balance yourself out with restorative practices. 

You inadvertently, and purposely, expend your energy by giving inspiration and encouragement to others while also absorbing and carrying the heavy energies of sadness, grief, injustice, pain, and suffering, that you need to offload. Ideally, you do this daily (chanting is an excellent method for doing this as is studying Nichiren’s philosophy, both are restorative, as are reading wisdom cards, spending time with nature, listening to or playing music, singing, writing, reading, drawing, colouring, and some social interaction) but even when you do, the two days of the weekend are crucial for your own time. If you have a significant other and they are unable to be part of it, no loss. You are more than enough alone, and not really ever alone anyway. Just trust and follow your own advice. 

That’s all for now. Peace out. 

  

Conscience-ness

I’ve noticed you’re up and down a lot lately and don’t seem particularly happy. I was wondering what’s going on for you at the moment? He didn’t say suddenly that afternoon. What’s wrong?

She was [would have been] taken aback but pleased at the same time. What should she tell him? She had too much shit in her head. Impossible to think straight. Should she tell him her true fears and intuitions about their situation? Would she tell him the effect of the substances she was using? He had already noticed but had he made the connection?

[The shit in her head has so many levels. First is a framework, most abstract of concepts joining together with others. This then demands muscles and skin to flesh it out in whole form. In other words, the life-affirming universe, creating tension to realise this potential at the personal level: thought, feeling and action. 

Feeling was the hardest part. Each experience vibrated to her core so she felt spent during and after such events. New learning and understanding too though.]

Personal thoughts brought to mind in her present situation were of her intense reaction to his continuing absence. Increasing absence in fact; she couldn’t blame him, she was miserable and hostile at him when he was around for something he was doing when not around. She was as caught up in the turmoil as he was. It was in her head and body. Everything seemed sideways, except the thinking. No lateral thoughts here. Plenty of sulky destructive ones. And scarily, again, she’d noticed the peace after imbibing her favourite distraction, the bliss of space and silence. Detachment.

It brought up emotional [irrational] fears that this is not for her. Of course in her emotional reactivity she is unable to also consider the possibility that it is her intuition, therefore possibly true. Or purely the suspicions of paranoia, inflicting its pain. This is the flip side of the love chemicals. The pathological fear of rejection, remaining stuck in static situations while precious time leaks away. Her consciousness made it real though, so from that point she was no longer trapped by her ignorance. She was merely trapped within the possibility of consequence.

At this point she could not stand her dependence on his presence. She had realised this awful tendency to rely on him. Realising it was fine, it was remembering it. She never did immediately, before it had appeared and wreaked mini-havoc on her nerves. At least by remembering she can kick herself into action, of her choosing. But she is left dealing with the emotional wreckage all the same. And inner turmoil was her specialty but not her forte.

[Writing is a series of lines that appear as you are moving around. Spilling out making you rush to release them on a page. Desperately hoping they will make sense and be meaningful!]

She had felt increasingly isolated the more he was’t there. This wasn’t like her (anymore) yet it had quickly become a pattern again. Her reaction to make other plans seemed natural and effortless yet seemed to miss the mark each time. The impact of the impulse. An internal saboteur lurking illegally in the shadows.

Her resistance to fill their freshly painted bedroom with their things. She felt ungrateful, no denying that. But she equally felt indignant. An impetuous anger at not enough (for her insatiable cravings of attention and solitude). Awareness of this (damned conscience-ness), enabled her to hold some of it back, the vile aggression, driven by an impulse deep within, demanding expression.

The natural (to her) reaction being the urge to push him away. Accept the inevitability and save time and further emotional or other investment in a dying thing. (The flicker of hope infuriatingly present and frustrating like a fluctuating wi-fi signal at assignment deadline time.)

And in the midst of the turbulent emotional storm, she was interrupted by a call. It was him. Would she come to friends’ for dinner?

Spell-curse broken. For now.

 

Immigration

Rattling around the large flat, hungover and coming down, clambering for an idea to do next, in the midst of this fugue, she made a decision. She would marry the Korean. 

She and boyfriend had moved into the upstairs flat on the outskirts of the tourist town. Working together with the flatmates in a local hotel, they all hung out regularly playing pool and drinking, spending their wages in the hotel bar before they even earnt them. Each week looked the same, work, party, sleep, rinse, repeat. 

Somewhere along the way, conversations were had with one of the downstairs tenants. He was a larger than life type. Big in physicality as well as bluster. Nicknamed after a colour. Had a dog to master. That sort. Interesting guy. 

Conversations started about Korean friends looking to immigrate to set up small businesses. There was a fee to be paid to a woman who would marry one of them to help the ‘immigration’. She was intrigued. She saw an opportunity to earn a decent whack of cash for something relatively easy. Little did she know. 

Somehow her boyfriend agreed with her, or allowed it to happen while staying in the relationship, and  a plan was made. Her boyfriend moved to another, smaller town to work in a restaurant set up by his brother and his brother’s best friend. She went on to the town of the Korean husband. 

The first few weeks she got to hang out with her new friend, the guy from downstairs, while things were sorted. It turned out that she would be paid each week rather than in a lump sum. Despite not having to pay any bills, the money was easily spent. She needed to numb herself from the reality of her situation. Suddenly there was no incentive to continue with the charade.

By this stage she had been living with her betrothed and his son. The decision was noticed when she didn’t return. 

Hiding at her now lover’s place, the Koreans turned up at the door, demanding their property returned. They meant her. Thankfully her lover’s responses impacted enough for them to leave, resentfully but respectfully. She was relieved. 

That done, she was back to the town of her boyfriend’s residence. And the place of another story…

Discovery

Dedicated to my beautiful friend who is dealing with the crunchy stuff right now

It’s nice to get feedback. No, it’s nice to get good feedback. I’ve had two responses to my last blog (you guys know who you are) and it was positive both times, in fact both described it as powerful, so yeah. 

I had a really good day today. I had some new clothes on, which was kind of cool. But more importantly, I was at a reThink workshop. The rethink is about madness. You may recognise this more readily as ‘mental illness’ but those who know me will be familiar with this korero. I’m not one to hold back from expressing my thoughts on the subject, and usually don’t care who’s listening. Or rather, I do care whether people ARE listening. More to say, I’m not bothered about WHO is listening. I’ll say it far and wide. 

This is one of the approaches I use in my quest. That sounds more noble than it feels most of the time but it is the only thing I know how to do, and I feel driven to do it so there. 

My quest is around expanding common societal consciousness to see experiences of madness for what they are, valuable and natural responses to life events. How they happen and what they look like is quite unique to each individual and the communities they belong to. However, there are some recognisable characteristics of both madness and the discovery that follows. Discovery is my preferred term for ‘recovery’. I didn’t want to ‘recover’ to where I was before I had the breakdown. The whole point of it was to breakthrough to something more. Or someone more. 

A key aspect of this, for change at both individual/personal and family/whanau/community/society levels is by addressing the way we talk about it. Using the language of the Cartesian-based medical model only reinforces the message that we are biological beings that can be tweaked with medication as required (supported by the ‘mental illness is an illness like any other, such as diabetes’ myth). Plus, someone reminded me today, ‘illness’ only covers one small aspect of the whole experience, and madness is a ‘whole’ experience. There is not one part of me/my life, that is unaffected by my madness.

And I am slowly coming out. Because I deal with this every day. In fact, it is who I am. It is how I think about the world (some crazy shit going on all around me, all the time, which I don’t like), how I feel in the world, (I don’t get ‘people’–individuals, maybe; I feel different), and what I do in the world (act on my intuition as often as I can; consume ethical, local products as much as possible; work for something meaningful on terms that suit my needs). 

I am coming out with my whole ‘being’, because of the fact that I only really feel alive when I am surrounded by my mad peers talking about real shit. It’s not all train wrecks and carnage. In fact very little of the general conversation is ever about the bloody and inconvenient chaos of our madness. Unless someone is in the state of rawness, needing to talk in an attempt to settle the painful memories to rest somewhere, in which case they’ll more than likely experience empathy for possibly the first time ever. But more often than not, the conversations are on topics that we seem to collectively agree are important and we care about. 

Back to the original point, I had a good day today because I was immersed with my peers, fellow ‘mad’ people. And I love them, my tribe. Of course there are individuals within the tribe, as with any tribe, and some are arseholes (I know I can be, surprise to you I know), but the collective conversation about the experience of madness, a.k.a., life, is one I love to have and get a lot from. 

Despite feeling quite weary in my bones from what feels like a massive year, I am pleased to be taking each step in front of me (including some down time, in both ways. I continue to learn something from each visit to the depression abyss) and seeing stuff get done: moving, assignments, work projects, socialising, and getting into my favourite forest! I am really seeing some positive ‘recovery’ practice being put in place. 

There are many things on the other side of this (I’ll always be a work in progress) but I also have the capacity to hold multiple truths and perspectives and that is a beautiful thing. The discovery continues.