the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


I Survived the Second Part of Hallowthankamas

Yes, my timing is rather late.  It’s taken probably this long to recover.

Also, I see that my sentiments about Madison Avenue and the advertising blitzkrieg aren’t unique:

but “Hallowthanksmas”, no matter how many people repeat it, just doesn’t roll off the tongue.  Go ahead, say it.  There’s just too much of a stop between “thanks” and “mas”, right?  But “thank-a-mas”… well, you can rap or sing it.

But aside from the pressure to “BUY BUY BUY”, I’ll admit that a holiday dinner on my side of the family is pretty consistent.  My senile maternal grandmother takes up the first two:

  1. Talks incessantly about how fat Cimmorene and I have gotten
  2. Fights my parents for the right to clean up the dishes, and won’t be content to sit down

and then the third generation (my children, nieces, nephews) usually bangs on the spinet piano and make a thorough mess of the toys that are set aside for them.

Normally, we would go to the in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner, but the doctors found cancer in my father-in-law again, and this time, in a part of his body they hadn’t removed yet.  So my dear mother-in-law was beside herself, and told all her children to “go make their own traditions.”

I didn’t accept that for a while, because I thought maybe we wouldn’t have a place to go (and I wasn’t ready to cook a big holiday dinner again, although we hosted the in-laws last year).

This was great fun but I just wasn't ready to struggle over a turkey again this year.

This was great fun but I just wasn’t ready to struggle over a turkey again this year.

At almost the last minute, my father said we could come to their place.  He said they’d split days to reduce chaos.  We would come on Thursday while my sister hosted her in-laws at their place, as they were unable to do a dinner themselves.  Then she would come on Friday.  This was a good thing; three children with autism and a preteen all in one medium-sized house had been a recipe for cacophony.  Plus, I had been giving my sister the silent treatment a LOT of space; she gets mean when she’s overwhelmed and our relationship has just been seriously strained for a number of years.  Cutting the noise and disruption was partly for my grandparents; although my grandfather is about as deaf as a post, neither he nor my grandmother can stand too much raucousness from a handful of children.  He’s 91 and she hit 90 a few days ago (on the 3rd), if I remember right.

Cimmy took it on herself to boob-block my grandmother a few years back.  She sits with her and coaxes her to chat, so she’ll eventually forget about cleaning up and getting in the way of those actually getting it done.  She takes all of my grandmother’s dementia and Alzheimer’s-riddled behavior in great stride as she’d seen this in her own grandmothers, and although she privately wept at the thought of revisiting it all, she usually recounted all of Grandma’s behaviors as things she recognized and understood.  She decided to ignore the critical things Grandma recited like a broken record, and tried to help me as I have not yet been ready to do the same.

It’s like talking to a yo-yo; she brings up the same damned things in conversation over and over.

She also recognizes Parkinson’s symptoms, which helps her a little bit to deal with my mother.

But my mother is more like “float like a moth, sting like a wasp”.

But this year Cimmy outdid herself to ingratiate herself to my grandparents, taking time to apply lotion to her hands, and also giving Grandpa a back rub.  Surprisingly, he was pretty quiet this year, and didn’t dish out much criticism as he would in years past.  I was actually surprised that he answered the door when we arrived and seemed glad to see us.

It does help that Grandpa took a real shine to Boy.  He seems ecstatic to have a great-grandson that’s so wildly active (and I think he secretly hopes Boy will be sporty), although I wish he’d share that enthusiasm for my nephew (eldest son of the sister I mentioned previously; I have another nephew by way of my youngest sister, now).

The last day of November, last Sunday, Mom called me to say that my grandparents had left for home and were quite vocal in saying what a good time they had, and that they were glad to see us.

Well, doesn’t that beat all.  They’re old and crotchety enough not to acknowledge how irritated I was at times.

I’ll have some posts down the line, dear readers, about how the lovely Athena Moberg and Bobbi Parish have been teaching survivors how to deal with the holidays.  So, round 2 of Happy Hallowthankamas is done… now it’s on to Christmas.

May the Powers That Be have mercy on me.


TToT: Seizing the Sword of Trauma and a path to healing

I’ve shared this video before as a mashup, but I’m showing it again because I think the juxtaposition is important– the One Ring of Sauron is compared to the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.  On the one hand, Tolkien presents an artifact that is wrought of evil, and that will enslave all life in Middle Earth if it is not cast back from whence it came.  On the other hand, the Autobot Matrix is presented as a mantle of leadership, that when unlocked, “will light our darkest hour.”

How can this be?

I take inspiration from Angela Shelton, who compares trauma to a virtual sword, but through the process of healing, can be drawn out as strength and protection.

Image credit: from “Be Your Own Hero: Healing Workbook” by Angela Shelton, with illustrations by James Murray

Her first workbook was aimed at women, but she found that men needed a resource, too.

Ever since I started speaking out about child sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault, I’ve heard from male survivors right in line with the females.

That goes for perpetrators too. Males are not the only ones who harm adults and children. Women are perpetrators too, in sexual abuse and domestic violence. They can be very sick and twisted too!

Victims of abuse are just that – victims. Luckily, the ones I hear from are the victims who become survivors and then move from surviving to thriving.

Abuse is not a “Women’s Issue” it’s a People Problem!

YES!  Someone who gets it!

It’s not been easy, and it’s been terribly lonely.  Let me tell you again, dear readers:

The reason why I started blogging 10 years ago was so I could face the pain of the abuse my mother heaped on me as a child, and to deal with all the fallout that caused.

I wish I could say I found the answers sooner, but it has been a long, slow process.  It took me years just to figure out (and quite all by myself, unfortunately) why I was so angry.  It took me many years more to learn that what my mother did was NOT acceptable– people I realized I could trust told me so.

I am getting some wonderful help from some marvelous women I met on Twitter: Rachel Thompson, Bobbi Parish, and Athena Moberg.  I can’t remember all how it unfolded, but I found out about some wonderful resources they created and coordinate, and… wow.  I’ve been learning more things, more effective information, then I have ever learned so far in over 30 years of counseling/therapy.

Specifically, I started participating in a Twitter chat called #SexAbuseChat, which is a support chat for survivors of sexual abuse.  Then I was informed Athena and Bobbi were starting a Google Hangout for the No More Shame Project– a live stream of them discussing subjects from the chat.

Well, I said then some things I’ve said now– and I was deeply honored that Athena gave me a shoutout twice for it… but I want you to know, dear readers, that I don’t write this to brag, but just that I am SO grateful.  I was grateful to be receiving resources that FINALLY were helpful and useful– even if some of it were confirmations that I was doing some things right!  I am grateful to have my expressions of gratitude acknowledged, and to be one small example that the resources are doing good, and that they work.

Image credit: Athena Moberg and the No More Shame Project. One of the things these ladies really helped me to understand was how I was recycling through old cycles of trauma with triggers of new trauma, but more importantly, how I could begin to manage that cycle, to avoid and lessen that response. It fit very well with my other work in recovery.

A request, dear readers… please, I ask for your support.  I assure you that also I am starting to speak up, more men are silent.  I can think of at least one person who has said very little that I am aware of, and I won’t say who it is because, well, it was said in confidence, and it’s not my story to tell.

Will you support me, dear readers?  Will you support the wounded men in your lives, so that they may have peace, and stand for peace?  How will you spread the word?  Do you agree that abuse is not just a women’s issue, but a danger to all people, regardless of gender?



I am grateful to be DAD

Mass media and much of society still has yet to get the memo.

It’s still lonely, but, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that my ward (local church congregation) has been better about including my perspective in discussions of parenthood.

Our Relief Society president more or less acknowledged on the stand that visiting teachers minister to families as well as sisters.  Whew!  I thought Cimmy’s were just putting up with me.  Then again, she is my right hand woman for one of my home teaching assignments, because she is assigned as a visiting teacher to the women in that family. Because our respectively assigned companions are inactive or very busy, sometimes, the only way we maintain contact and help for that family is to pair up.

The dads in my ward are hands on.  The elders’ quorum (one of the men’s groups) usually has some kids in the meetings, because our dads take turns caring for their kids.  When my son was younger, I was grateful to get some help when I took my turn caring for him.

Sometimes I sat in during his Primary time, either in opening exercises (when the children met together) or during his individual classroom time.  I am grateful that I don’t have to do that anymore, although, I did like the change of pace then.  I liked singing the Primary songs and listening to the lessons.

I have been hurting so bad that I haven’t been attending services much… again.  I am still grateful that Cimmy is still willing to take the kids anyways.  She didn’t feel well enough to get them to the main worship service, but she took Boy to Primary and Princess to Young Women‘s.  Someone in the ward very thoughtfully gave them a ride home.

boy in tent

Still an old photo. The tent was broken, and then repaired after it was taken. I suggested Cimmy move it closer to the east fence (in the background) to shield it from the wind.

Cimmy set up the tent for Boy to sleep in over the weekend.  I’m grateful that she fixed it.  This is a tent I used during my Scouting years, and I am glad that it’s still servicable.

He slept in it last Friday and Saturday nights, but Cimmy brought him in last night as he was melting down again.  We’ll try again this upcoming weekend.  He slept alone as Princess had no desire to sleep in the tent this time, but we gave him a flashlight, kept the lights on on the back porch areas, and he was fine.

EDIT Friday, September 5: Our ward had a church social that we somehow missed out on (while Cimmy makes it to meetings, she often misses announcements about social activities unless I press her to add it).

Didn’t know until I called an old family friend two hours ago (who incidentally moved into our neighborhood some months ago– sometimes the stars just align that way to our benefit); he promised to let me know about things a little bit better.

Called my father– he schedules for the building the social was in– so many members are just having trouble adjusting to the new technology (ward organizations– Relief Society, etc.– are supposed to schedule online themselves, but they don’t know how, they keep calling him to do it).

Called our bishop (read: pastor, if that’s more familiar to you) about an hour ago to let him know that we were falling through the cracks and not learning about things.  Told him about what I was learning from my father and his calling (read: assignment, position) and said I was willing to help people learn the system– once I can get surgery for the bone spur in my spine and whatever else– and am more healthy to do it.

We will see about Boy sleeping back in the tent tonight.



Ten things of thankful: ID4 2014 and more

I’ve started a new 43Things goal for Lizzi’s Ten Things of Thankful blog hop.
As always, I’ve added additional long-form edits to this WordPress crosspost.

This weekend brought so much to be thankful for.

1. Our daughter continues to work on her artistic skills. She was our principal photographer and videographer for our trip.

Photo credit: Bill 1939 B at Flickr, a.k.a. “Pop”. My father-in-law decided to take some shots of Princess at work

2. She has friends and family that are cheering her on!  Notably, they include:

the ever-lovely and generous Tahira “TJ” Lubrano

Bill 1939 (her maternal grandfather, as mentioned before)

I’ve been in touch with Dean at Dean’z Doodlez about starting some artistic, creative synergy with his work and the stuff that Cimmy, Princess and I do.  So far, the response has been fantastic!  Please do me a favor and check him out.

3. The gooseberry bush at my in-laws’ house is always ready to harvest (often more ready than my MIL’s liking) every July 4th. They allow us to come each year to pick gooseberries.

It wasn't TOO hot, but we took time during the hottest part of the day to remove the stems and blossoms.  Photo by Princess

It wasn’t TOO hot, but we took time during the hottest part of the day to remove the stems and blossoms. Photo by Princess

4. The Yakama Nation is less stringent about fireworks than our local municipalities, so we go to Toppenish to watch local displays. Although the casino didn’t have funds for a display this year, there was plenty to see from nearby stands.

Oh snap, Princess is better at capturing fireworks than I am!

Oh snap, Princess is better at capturing fireworks than I am!

5. Although we essentially get a free show, Cimmy and the kids have enjoyed lighting sparklers the past few years. Sparklers are banned in our home city.

Do you see now this girl has got talent?  Wow!

Do you see now this girl has got talent? Wow!

6. I spent some time to be mindful of the holiday and talked with my father-in-law about the reality of wartime military service that Friday. Specifically, he served Navy on a nuclear submarine during the Vietnam War.

7. I am grateful that my wife spent some loving and pleasant time with her youngest sister, with our daughter along.

8. I am very glad that my sister-in-law is doing well right now, and that she always welcomes my hugs.

9. Yakima and Toppenish were my other homes at one point. Returning is sometimes bittersweet, but I enjoy returning and recalling many memories.

10. I am grateful for the old highways (WA HWY 22, 241) that are less-traveled. They are a welcome respite from the freeways (SR 395, I-82) and the manner of their drivers.