Honing My Hero

In writing, “evergreen topics” are yearly or ever-present themes. Holidays, commemorations, historical events, etc., as well as overarching topics like love, career, or lifestyle, for example. Creators are always trying to “up the ante” – to find some new or distinct angle to cover.

You have to be a self-starter or find someone to kick you in the pants to get going.

I’m in the latter category and have struggled because of that. It is my evergreen experience.

Are we all born with character traits that are challenging to overcome? Probably. We are also born into places, families, and circumstances that we did not choose (unless you believe that our essence before this existence picked out our circumstances prior to being born). Sorry, I would never have chosen the circumstances I was born into. Not in an entire realm of possibilities of existence. Nope, wouldn’t have happened. If there is some guiding or directing being or essence, then I was forced into circumstances by a malevolent deity. Or it was bad luck, or just plain random chance. Of all of the possibilities, chance is the least fucked up.

I definitely have a personality type, and damaged neural pathways that I have made inroads on altering, but it has taken me a lifetime of work to do so.

There are so many medications that help alter or by-pass neural misfiring or trauma influenced wiring, but of the over twenty-four (so far) drugs I have tried, none of them have helped, and several made my condition worse.

There is evidence that psilocybin from mushrooms, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and other psychedelic, or mind-altering substances can bypass poor neural wiring and open up pathways for higher functioning brains and life experience. It is exciting research, and I hope to be accepted in a trial. If I am accepted, I could get a placebo, of course, but if I did get the actual substance, I don’t know what happens when the trial ends.

Will I just be taken off of a substance that might greatly help me? Does some big pharma company then control the distribution and price-setting? I don’t know what happens to participants in a trial that ends once the researchers have completed their studies.

For someone like me, it would come at a high price. Unless the substance is one that permanently alters your brain’s wiring after using it for however long it would take to achieve that happy day.

And what if the opposite were to happen? What if my wiring was made worse? I had two rounds of transcranial magnetic stimulation about a year apart, and it did not help my depression or change my neural pathways as others had experienced. It was not a ‘cure’, and it dulled my thinking somewhat.

It’s hard to be a test subject, but I will take the risk because the possibility of a better functioning brain is too attractive to not keep trying.

A friend once said to me that she would not want to do something that would get her unstuck because then she would be too remorseful of all the wasted time behind her.

I understand that, but I already live that, and it seems like she does too, to some extent. Guilt and shame are some side effects of trauma, but there is nothing we can do about the past except to do our best to practice self-compassion.

I did try to change. I am sure I did, in fact, change! I am sure that every person that chooses (or is forced in some way) to confront whatever holds them back or diminishes them or others in their life does change to some degree.

I could not have lived without changing. I nearly killed myself several times, and it remains on the table for me. It represents a twisted form of hope, and power.

Raising my son was a challenge I met. I may not have met it as well as some, and certainly not even to my own inner standards, but I did far better than was done for me. My son will never understand that. He did not grow up in extreme domestic violence and neglect. I had to have help to continue living. My siblings seemingly did not have to have the therapy, educational and recovery groups, and other work to function in their lives. I was also surrounded by people who had had similar lives, and sadly much worse, and we limped through those years together.

My son will never know the times I cried through making dinner because I was so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted that it took all that I had to cobble together something healthy – and I did not have money to do differently. Even opening a can of soup would have been a challenge – and I would have paid with even more guilt and shame.

Oddly, overcoming those obstacles did not change my life as it did for others in all those success stories I consumed, trying to change my life with positive thinking and affirmations. The fact that I was still alive and functioning at all was an affirmation. I held out unjustified hope that I could change, that I could rise above my situation. It was moments of triumph for me, not permanent change.

I won’t be writing a book, giving a Ted Talk, or otherwise speaking at some puffed-up event about how I overcame my circumstances, and so can you.

All I know is that every once in a while, I rallied to the moment. I gave my son good food. We had plenty of crap food, trust me, but I did my best to have a majority of healthy meals. I also stayed as present as I could, and I did persevere. There was laughter, fun, adventure, creativity, affection, comfort, and deep love – right along with the difficulties. I read to my son every night until he grew older and didn’t want me to anymore. Those times were nearly the best part of every day. It was sanctuary – for both of us.

My son jumped poverty, and counselors and friends in my life have said it is because I gave him a good foundation to do so. There is no “control son” that my contributions can be measured, and I tend to feel that his personality traits would have helped him overcome whatever hell he might have been subjected to.

Some people do rise regardless of their circumstances. Those are the stories people love to read or hear. The successful heroes journey.

Will psychedelics help hone the hero in me?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Tell Me!

Some time between Halloween and Thanksgiving I start holding my breath.

I don’t realize I’m doing it, but it’s the day before Thanksgiving and I feel like I’m starting to turn blue.

What, what, what?

I didn’t know I have this deep inner recess. For years it was mostly hidden, and I didn’t know I had learned to avoid the area.

It has been like living in a haunted house. I explained away every odd noise, every displacement of objects, every shadow or shiver when I walked into the attic.

I never even realized I had an attic – that’s how well the thing was done.

But now, it’s become more obvious, less able to deflect – but still a mystery.

I walked around yesterday, knowing I had a million things to do, but couldn’t settle into anything I started.

Focus, I kept telling myself. Just stop, I kept admonishing myself. What the hell is wrong with you? Get over yourself!

It never worked when I was little, and it doesn’t work now. I just went deeper inside, feeling more and more wrong.

But I’m resilient. I’m still here. I started saying “It’s okay – you’re okay,” over and over, which allowed me to get some things done for a while.

Does that mean I win? – because it sure doesn’t feel like winning.

There is still so much to get to, and I am doing what I can. I need to fit several days worth of tasks into today, but here I am, writing.

It’s a balm, even if temporary.

I will go about my business regardless of the dank heaviness trailing me. It’s just harder.

There is something in that dark, drippy, echoing recessed inner cavern that needs me to figure out how to get down there, and get us back safely – or something like that.

I know this has to do with the trauma of neglect, and of my trying to resolve it by finding people or circumstances that would helpfully replicate it for me so I could work on it, but that didn’t fix it then, and it’s not fixing it now – dammit.

I can continue what I’ve always done, and power my way on through sheer will, but it never really leaves, it just gets quieter.

It feels like a rescue mission that I have no idea what equipment I need to be successful – because I do try – I am trying at this very moment.

What do you need,” I ask, or “what do you want me to do?!”

It’s like when my son was barely verbal and he wanted something from the cabinet up above the kitchen counter. I tried the crackers he liked, and several other items. With each thing I grabbed he just wailed harder – his little face all screwed up with his frustration that “I didn’t understand!”

Any idiot should know what he needed – get a clue, woman!

So I picked him up and put him on the counter and told him to show me what he wanted. I think it was canned peaches.

Maybe I just need some peaches.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Moments Like This

I’ve gotten scared a couple of times while driving in the last month or so. My hands are on the wheel, eyes on the road, but twice now I have caught myself having to remember to be in the world?, Something like that. I haven’t figured that out yet, which is what’s terrifying.

Have the leaded gas fumes from my father’s Lincoln Continental that I breathed in deeply several times after he had parked in the driveway finally melted my brain? He must have caught me doing that because I only remember getting to stand there breathing in the lead fumes a few times. It must have been better than the smell of bread or cake or cookies baking, because none of those aromas made me want to stick my nose as close to the oven as I could to breathe it in as fully as I could.

But worse than that, could I be getting some form of dementia?

It’s hard to write about this because it’s embarrassing and scary, but it’s real, and maybe someone has an answer, or has experienced something similar.

In both incidents the eerie displacement of time, or space, or space/time, or whatever was happening to me, left me hyper-vigilant, and desperate to seem normal, to feel normal.

I got to my destinations fine, and I’m now realizing that the drives home were unremarkable.

Maybe my senses aren’t as acute as they were a decade ago (or even last year)?

Maybe this is what getting old is.

Bite your tongue, I hear my rebel yell. Fuck off, and then come back and fuck off again. Old. Pssshh!

That’s like saying I’m defective, used up, yesterday’s news – and that’s stupid.

But I can’t stop what happens to my definitely time-based body, even if my, what? – id, ego, and super-ego? – are up in arms at the seeming injustice of it all.

I just have to accept what is, not approve of it.

I also have to figure out if there is something wonky going on in my brain.

Maybe it’s something simple, something fixable.

The fear underneath everything else is whether or not I matter – whether I have relevance.

Well, that is completely self-determined, isn’t it?

No one else defines me unless I let them, and I don’t have to let my worst thoughts about myself decide who I am either.

Full human – still here, still crushing it … 8 times out of 10 – so far.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current