the tao of jaklumen

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


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Breaking the cycle: Another link

This will be a little cryptic as I’m still struggling to process the immediate implications and the long-term, big picture impact.

I’ve been communicating with an estranged family member for a few years now.  Today, I took a gamble, tried to ask questions to figure out more.

I lost.

My instinct said not to go there, that it was the proverbial can of worms.  It definitely was.  Self-imposed isolation.  Pain.  Much like a sister of mine.

I talked to my father after I decided to lock the door behind me and to get rid of the key, for now.  He told me basically what I already knew, but in a little more detail.  This is his older brother’s eldest daughter.  I told him yes, she’s preparing to shut everyone out, including him.

What did I ask about?  Those of you that know me very, very well should be able to put together some of the pieces.  It’s another side of the coin to what triggers me.  My pain.  But more like a mirror image.

I tried to explain myself, but, I still shut the door- probably getting rid of all of my explanations.  Intuition says she’s not ready to hear it.  Unfortunate, but, I prepared for it, at least logically, if not emotionally.

It stings like hell.  But I had another ace in the hole: the mammalian dive reflex, part of the T.I.P.P. strategy.  Invoke the reflex with a cold pack between eyes and cheek bones, bending at the waist, holding my breath for 30 seconds- as if I was diving into icy cold water.  I’d read about it before- it’s saved children from drowning in in the same.  An evolutionary remnant, the reflex shuts down the body, and in a #DBT context, it forces the body to slow down immediately, overriding the fight/flight/fawn/freeze response.  Maybe like a soft reboot- not a hard reboot, like I’ve had when the lights go out, but I stay at home in the back of my mind- if I understand Claire Cappetta just right.

It didn’t work immediately; I’m not sure if I did it perfectly right.  But I feel calmer.  And what felt like a loss at first- feels more like a victory.  I’m one step closer.


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Binge eating — one of the last of my dirty little secrets

Please also see

The Lines Project

jak-lines

When I did the Lines Project back in December with my wife and my daughter, I was reluctant to put a yellow line on my arm for eating disorder. I thought, “It doesn’t count!” A little voice said, “Yes, it does.”

I enthusiastically participated in The Lines Project last December, as my daughter and I deal with self-harm issues.  It was hard enough drawing some of the lines- but as I had come to an understanding of my cPTSD, and some of the very real dissociative episodes I had sometimes when the stress got to be too much, I figured I could count the orange and teal stripes.

Several others I thought were pretty self-explanatory, although purple was something that was also self-realized relatively recently- I mean in the past decade or so.  (I’ve written a little on my issues of sexual orientation, but not at great length.  I’ve been burnt by polarized discussion.)  By contrast, bullying, suicide, and such were very much a fixture of my childhood.

The yellow one was hardest to draw.  Much of the resources I read on eating disorders were mostly about anorexia and bulimia, and they seemed to suggest they were women’s issues– and only recently, did they start addressing men, but again, much of what I read was limited, as in the cases of men were effeminate gay males.  (How did I come to that conclusion?  The resources didn’t really talk about body image from what I thought was a masculine man’s perspective, especially as there was little talk about exercise, i.e. “Fitspo” ideals.)

I learned about binge eating in middle school, incidentally (late 1980’s) with a classmate and neighbor conducting an anonymous survey about eating disorders, but all the literature I read on it was virtually dead silent about it.

But at about the same time I was participating in The Lines Project, someone I greatly respect had something interesting to say:

We talked about it more, in public tweets and private DMs.  We’ve actually had a lot of discussions on Twitter about men’s issues– especially as I said I was aware of the men’s movement of the 1990s (Robert Bly uses a lot of Jungian archetypes, which dovetails with many subjects I blog about here).  I would dare say we’ve been virtual brothers-in-arms, discussing male vulnerability, sensitivity in men, and honest plans to address such when social norms and politics du jour seem to discourage a lot of it, or twist it in directions we feel are disingenuous.

Of course, I have yet to meet Rick face to face.  It’s also another matter to discuss a painful topic (such as binge eating) with someone in person, someone with some authority, and also someone who is a woman.

I don’t mean to sound glibly sexist– it’s not like that.  It’s that some of the people that were so instrumental in my abuse– some of the matriarchs of my family– gave me a lot of really unhealthy attitudes about food.  Food was part of the abuse.  And so I explained such in measured amounts to my nutritionist.

I was in for a follow-up appointment.  It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a nutritionist; this was my third.  With the first nutritionist I had, I lost almost 100 lbs. walking 3 hrs every day, dumbbell weight training 1 hr weekdays, and following a fairly strict diet.  My physician was worried about my obesity and possibly an onset of diabetes.  Pre-diabetes did come this third time around.  I lost around 30 lbs. this time following a counting carbohydrates diet, and lowered my A1C from almost 7.0% to 5.1%.  But no more weight was coming off.

So she started asking me a number of questions to figure out why.  It wasn’t the carbs- my blood sugars and A1C seemed to suggest otherwise.  So she started asking about portions and such.  The more she asked, the more I felt an emotion of panic and fear.  That sort of “oh shit, I’m about to get into so much trouble here.”

Don’t get me wrong.  She’d seen me in distress before, and at that time, I didn’t have a therapist.  She referred me to a contact with the Mental Health ombudsman, because I was loathe to get back into therapy, after 30 years of mostly failure, and dealing with so many arrogant and cowardly jerks for therapists.  That wasn’t an easy start, either- my first counseling placement didn’t work out.  My current arrangement came after contacting RAINN and the local SARC referred me to a therapist who is the Director of Counseling at the MH agency I’m at.

I’m not sure what more to say.  She spared me giving her all the details, although in the past, I was prone to spilling them all.  I felt very uncomfortable sharing as much as I did.

To be honest, I’m quite terrified.  I live in a community that treats domestic violence and eating disorders as primarily women’s issues.  There is slightly more visibility on orientation and gender issues, but… I’ll be honest, it’s not much.  I bristle at folks calling my hometown area backward, but, in a certain way, it very much is.


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Lessons from my Therapist: Johari Window

Dear readers:

My therapist introduced me to the concept of the Johari window yesterday.  I had Boy with me, because I needed Cimmy to do some grocery shopping.  When she returned, and joined my session, my therapist introduced me to this concept, to help Cimmy and I understand how we perceive each other.

Will you do me a favor, please?  Please help me understand this concept by adding words you feel describe me, right here.

Arena

(known to self and others)

complex, introverted, knowledgeable, reflective, self-conscious

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

able, adaptable, bold, brave, caring, dignified, extroverted, friendly, helpful, intelligent, kind, loving, observant, proud, responsive, silly, trustworthy

Façade

(known only to self)

wise

Unknown

(known to nobody)

accepting, calm, cheerful, clever, confident, dependable, energetic, giving, happy, idealistic, independent, ingenious, logical, mature, modest, nervous, organised, patient, powerful, quiet, relaxed, religious, searching, self-assertive, sensible, sentimental, shy, spontaneous, sympathetic, tense, warm, witty

Dominant Traits

60% of people think that jaklumen is brave
60% of people think that jaklumen is caring

All Percentages

able (20%) accepting (0%) adaptable (20%) bold (20%) brave (60%) calm (0%) caring (60%) cheerful (0%) clever (0%) complex (20%) confident (0%) dependable (0%) dignified (20%) energetic (0%) extroverted (20%) friendly (20%) giving (0%) happy (0%) helpful (20%) idealistic (0%) independent (0%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (40%) introverted (40%) kind (20%) knowledgeable (20%) logical (0%) loving (20%) mature (0%) modest (0%) nervous (0%) observant (20%) organised (0%) patient (0%) powerful (0%) proud (20%) quiet (0%) reflective (20%) relaxed (0%) religious (0%) responsive (20%) searching (0%) self-assertive (0%) self-conscious (20%) sensible (0%) sentimental (0%) shy (0%) silly (20%) spontaneous (0%) sympathetic (0%) tense (0%) trustworthy (40%) warm (0%) wise (0%) witty (0%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 7.11.2015, using data from 5 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view jaklumen’s full data.

Affirmations from my therapist: Getting Better


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I think I got gaslit, even if men are not typically gaslighted

This screenshot shows Ingrid Bergman being gas...

This screenshot shows Ingrid Bergman being gaslighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear readers: The standard trigger warning applies.  I’m trying to stay light on the details, but… I’m nauseated just thinking about them.  Please, take any precautions you need; I know many of you ask the same.

I thought I’d shared my story with this person.

Someone with a strong media voice.

And I don’t think I tweeted anything different from what I shared in my story.

But… I was assumed to be a MAN making a WOMEN’S issue my deal, and not allowing them to own it alone.

Never mind that I was upset that someone was tearing Cimmy a new asshole in the same conversation.  That was totally ignored, for some reason.

I got numerous excuses when I complained, privately.  This person said they had grown numb to such nuances, because of numerous hate mails flooding their inbox.

NO NO NO DAMN IT, I HAD NIGHTMARES ABOUT BEING RAPED.  ONLY WEEKS AGO.  LIKE BLOODY FUCKING HELL WOULD I WISH THAT ON SOMEONE, JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE SAYING SOMETHING I DISLIKED.

And I wasn’t disagreeing with what was said at all.  No way.  If they weren’t already a part of Cimmorene’s painful, horrifying experiences, they were experiences of a friend, or a churchmate, or someone else close to me.  Mostly women, yeah, but a number of men.

Raped? Oh yes.  Raped.  No, not the Anne Hathaway one… that was pretty creepy, though.  No, it was another one.  I was blindfolded.  Gang raped.  By men.  What the hell is in the garbage of my brain?  (No, that sort of gay porn isn’t my thing, if that was ever a possibility.)

I have moved past suicidal thoughts.

NO NO NO I’m not going to tell someone to kill themselves, when I dealt with that.  Someone in my parents’ congregation took his life only a week or so ago… incidentally, I didn’t that mention in my Suicide Prevention Day post.  But I hope you get the idea.  Of course, I was shamed once for not condemning a suicider as “selfish”.  I can’t.  I’d have to tell myself I was selfish… well, I already did.  Several times.

This is all I can write for now, dear readers.  I hope you understand.  No, I won’t name names.  I already feel bad just writing about it… because it feels like so much veiled aggression.  But I’m angry.  And afraid.

I was just trying to stick up for Cimmorene.  I had no idea I was being held in contempt, too.  No idea.


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A Blogger’s Journey: The Nadir Before (National Suicide Prevention Day)

What a time for pain to be hitting me even harder, dear readers.

Maybe it’s just as well.

Detail of The Death of Socrates. A disciple is...

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, Socrates! Not my method of attempting, but I’d rather be a tad whimiscal here, than dark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Suicide is an ugly topic for me.  It cast a long, long shadow and was right at the very beginning of my 30+ years of therapy.  Yes, I mean I considered it myself… and made a very half-hearted attempt.

The bitterly ironic thing was I came much closer when I wasn’t trying as such– like the drug OD, or breathing gasoline fire.  (Yes, a story I haven’t told yet.)

I am a survivor of suicide– one of my dear childhood friends took his own life.  It was very frustrating for me, because I’d had the pleasure of reconnecting with him not too long before, in my church’s young adult congregation at the time (which was huge because it covered over 5 small cities).  The obituary was vague- something about him being stationed in Germany, leaving behind a wife and an infant child.  The horrors of war, with all the PTSD it entails, I can only suppose.

I’ve been harrassed online because I refused to condemn another man who took his own life as selfish.  That too is a long story unto itself– he was a convicted child molester– and many of you may know, that other prisoners view them as lower than the scum of the earth.

But having experienced suicidal thoughts, and other artifacts of the many traumas I have been through– many I haven’t even begun to detail here– I couldn’t.

Image credit: @SPSMChat/#spsm. (Duh!)

Consider joining me on the #spsm Twitter chat to learn more.  It’s intense at times, because the live stream consists of five professionals (psychiatrists, therapists et al) who do talk a lot of job.  But many of them wear pirate hats.  There is good news beyond the lapses into jargon and intellectual words (don’t worry, I freely admit I’m guilty too, especially with technobabble), and there is hope.  Not to mention they are very actively doing good; taking action beyond mere words.

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Descending further down the Abyss (Transitions)

I now have a collapsing disc just above the fused vertebrae, and awful swelling around the bone graft of the fusion.

Just how far can the pain go?

Thinking on my experiences with domestic violence— yes, sadly, that is a thing I’ve witnessed, and experienced.  Lindsay Fischer (then as Sarafina Bianco) and Amy Thompson welcomed me into #domesticviolencechat, another Twitter chat that intersected with the #sexabusechat community.  I wasn’t sure I fit in, at first… much like the other Twitter communities I mentioned.  But I was nevertheless accepted.

We’re all wondering where Timothy (@GerhardTimothy) is and that he’s okay.  I especially value the conversations we had, because then it was easier to feel okay as a man in the chat discussions.

I’ve told Amy a little bit about my experience, but haven’t told anyone else much in full.  That will change, soon.  I think Lindsay and Amy encourage my perspective (they’ve said this to me numerous times in various ways) because it adds more scope to the issue.  It’s not just a woman’s issue, and it’s not just an issue between couples.  In my experience, it involves generations of families- although such matters are usually discussed in abuse contexts (child abuse, adult abuse, etc.)

I think it’s also time to bring out the Redemption of the Four Kingdoms material.  It’s long overdue, actually– if many of you remember my teasings and many cryptic references to it, I’ll be amazed.

But so much of this writing is difficult to do when I am drowning in wave after wave of agonizing pain.  I’ll have to do it in bits and pieces.  I’ll probably write posts that I feel are lacking in quality, although I want to cut down on the perfectionistic traps and toxic habits mingled in such thinking.

I will try to sleep now, dear readers… it’s 02:39 as of this writing where I am.  I hope the pain will ebb, and the terrifying nightmares stop.  Only about a week ago, I dreamt I was molested and raped.  Again.  In a different way.  It felt so real, but I’d never experienced it in real life.  How?


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#1000Speak: Hugs for the Survivors

I think just about everyone had a teddy bear at one point, didn’t they?

My father had one named “Boo Woo”.

I had a number of teddy bears, with different names.  One of them, I’d take the tag and stick my thumb in it before sucking.  For some reason, it made my thumb taste better, although sometimes I’d get it caught.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, dear readers, I shouldn’t have to remind you of some of the ugly parts of my childhood.  I was bullied and abused at school and church as well as home, especially during my preteen years in middle school.  I think that was about the time that I finally started to banish cuddly toys from a space on my bed.

Rather odd that any boy would bully another over that, though, considering the history of the teddy bear.

The teddy bear was named for Theodore Roosevelt, easily the most badass president the United States of America ever had. (Image credit: hdimagegallery.net)

Image credit: buzzle.com

I came back to cuddly toys after marrying Cimmorene.  She offered me Milo, who still occupies a space in the master bedroom.  She decided to buy me a Bekin-made bear, whom I named “Buster” for the movie Phil Collins made famous.

Because I was still sensitive about being bullied, I’d loan him to my children, especially my son.  I’d tell him Buster needed to store up more hugs.

Sister #1 used to collect Beanie Babies.  She decided to gift her collection to my folks so that grandchildren (mostly my children, and my niece and nephew who are Sister #2 JenntheAmazon’s kids) could play with them.

This delighted Princess to no end:

Monkey Girl gives Monkey a ride

It wasn’t too long until Boy started loving on the Beanie Babies.  His current case manager for counseling has a small collection in her desk drawer, and it turns out that one of them (“Goatie”) was the very same kind I sent Aussa for a bridal gift.

Both Aussa and “Snack Cake” Deborah (who spearheaded a Heifer International campaign for the Great Goat Shower) were amused by this pic.

Aussa’s going to have to monitor Pinterest now, since Pinning this image was the quickest way to grab it. Image credit: aussalorens.com

Of course, I was just expecting that she’d quietly get the gift of the Beanie Baby and the “got goats” window decal, with little fanfare.  Nope!

I just about fell out of my chair when I saw that tweet.  No way could I shrug it off, saying, “Well, it was cheap.”

So it was just easier to tweet about the awesomeness of Beanie Babies.

When I first started having back pain, Cimmy got this snake Beanie Baby for me.  I can’t remember what the Ty corporation gave it for a name, but I dubbed him “Bruno”.  He’s currently guarding my mini red wastebin full of scissors and pens and is on the shelf just above my computer monitor.

Anyways… my point in all these rambling stories is that hugs are essential, and as a survivor, if I can’t get one right away from a loved family member or friend, I will take it from a cuddly buddy, even if it’s not alive.  I am lucky that living creatures will give me physical touch, however– this includes my parents’ talkative cat, Skittles:

Skittles & Roger

My father and Skittles. Image credit: Dad Pratt at Flickr

Skittles and Cimmy

Skittle and Cimmy, during a housesitting visit

to Jenn’s stupid but loveable beagle mix, Dexter:

and a schnauzer named Oscar, who barks his fool head off whenever anyone comes to visit.  (Jenn probably hasn’t done a video with him because he’s just too excitable.)

Hugs are POWERFUL.

Image credit: socialgreetings.net

Princess gets really stressed out when Cimmorene and I fight and argue, and, no surprise, she feels that her little brother is a chi vampire (meaning, he steals energy, or more literally, in Western terms, “the breath of life”).  Yes, I know that’s not quite fair– he can’t help his struggles with autism– but, it’s still difficult.

After an intense family council meeting reviewing our mood charts (we made some so Boy would better be able to recognize emotions), she drew a rather raw, dark portrait of herself.  So, if you look at the image just above, I gave her a hug, without too many words.  I let her hold it as long as she wanted.

Dear readers, we survivors need hugs.  Are you part of the 1000 Voices for Compassion movement?  What more can we do to be more compassionate towards each other?

Special thank you to Serins, who sends us hugs in her comments.

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