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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The Mother Wound: A Long-Standing Elephant in the Room

For me, the Mother Wound is at least two generations deep.  Literally, it can be traced through the O negative blood I inherited from my maternal grandmother.  Her daughter, my mother- was born in a time when medical science hadn’t yet fully developed an immunization for Rh factor incompatibility.

Her younger brother didn’t live to his second birthday.

But what is the Mother Wound?

Here’s how Rick Belden defined it in his article Men and the Mother Wound:

A Mother Wound may be thought of as injury to the psyche of a child resulting from significant dysfunction or disruption in relationship with the mother. In some cases, it is the result of a mother’s absence or unavailability due to death, illness, adoption, or other circumstances that dramatically separate the child from the mother. But more typically, a Mother Wound is a complex of injuries to the child’s psyche received over many years, often as a result of the mother acting, consciously or not, out of her own woundedness. One of the most severe kinds of psychic wounding occurs when the child’s primary function in the relationship is to be used by the mother to meet her own narcissistic needs.
(emphasis mine)

How it played out for me

It really did start with my maternal grandmother, and my maternal grandfather, to a degree.  My mother’s family was reasonably well-off, and her parents didn’t exactly approve of my father, who grew up in more humble circumstances.  More particularly, my grandmother was withering in her disapproval, and it was something Dad and I would discuss at length in later years.  This is much less true today; I think Dad won quite a bit of approval just through many years of diligence- helping them move into assisted living, archiving of family photos and histories, and so on.  Still, the disapproval was a lingering cloud for the forty-odd years of my life, and it was present as I lived with my grandparents, alongside my parents for a handful of months, and then alone or with the first of my 3 younger sisters for many, many summers.

I wasn’t really a grandson– I was given the role of the lost son, a surrogate, if you will.  Cimmorene saw this for herself when Grandma showed her a picture of me and younger sister #1. “This is J,” she said, rather plainly and matter-of-fact, “…and this is R!”, ending with squeaky, sing-song baby talk.  I was given golden boy treatment, and most of the time, I could do no wrong… much to the resentment of my sisters.  I was able to mend fences with the younger two, but R hasn’t spoken to me in 15 years.  Actually, though, to my greater chagrin, she may be doing it because she doesn’t know what to make of Cimmorene and her slightly more extroverted personality.  (Not to mention that Cimmy is not content to keep quiet about family wounds and secrets).

Although I was a golden boy,  I was able to break through and see the ugly mother-to-daughter traditions of gossip, busy-body perfectionism and discontent, manipulation, and narcissism.  But it really messed with my head.  My grandmother constantly intervened in my upbringing, with a healthy dose of backbiting.  Sometimes it was that my parents didn’t exercise enough, and therefore she and my grandfather were providing an active lifestyle for me.  Or, it was meals at fancy restaurants, since my parents couldn’t afford such.  Gifts were never truly free; there was always some sort of condition, whether it be forced gratitude in thank-you letters, certain behaviors, or what have you.  But the attitude about food was the worst.

The makings of an eating disorder…

Supposedly, the traditional role of a grandparent is to spoil their grandchildren.  That resulted in very mixed messages for me, most especially for food.  At their house, it was like going to a candy store, almost.  Cookies, chips, crackers– available anytime, and as much as I wanted.  But I never had permission to say I was full.  Oh yes, it was the old traditional Clean Plate Club, so I was generally trained to ignore any natural cues to satiety.  I’m sure many of you dear readers are familiar with the notion, but, it went beyond that.  Later in my childhood, my grandparents got perfectionistic about dieting and nutrition, and so most of the “goodies” vanished.  Food was definitely used as a conditional reward, although food as punishment was rare: I never got set to my room without a meal that I can recall.  (Cimmorene did, but, that’s her story to tell.)

Under my grandparents’ warped affection ran a deep undercurrent of what they taught my mother, and it wasn’t too long before she started repeating those mantras.  Foremost among them was the following: “You’re eating too much!”  Much like my grandmother, Mom obsessed over at least 5-10 lbs., and I learned what Slimfast was about, as liquid diets seemed to be her main weight loss solution of choice.  Looking back, especially viewing old family photos, I still ask myself rhetorically why I started obsessing about dieting when I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade.  At least one thing was clear: my grandmother would say some variation of ‘eat up, you’re a growing boy’, and my mother would say something to the effect of ‘stop eating so much, or you’ll get fat!’  I couldn’t see this at first, but, as I got older, my grandparents’ messages and behaviors started to match my mother’s more closely, and I slowly concluded that Mom had merely repeated what they taught her.  Mom specifically said that Grandpa made weight loss a firm condition of permission to get contact lenses, so I came to understand his views on motivation, more especially when I was presented with weight loss as a condition of a certain reward (payment for school, I think it was).  Dad put it a little more precisely in that he saw my grandfather as possessing a military mindset (by dint of Grandpa’s experience as a Marine) and viewed “carrot and stick” methods as necessary motivators.

I think I’ve said it before in Binge eating — one of the last of my dirty little secrets that a neighbor/classmate of mine conducted an anonymous survey on eating disorders, in middle school.  As I reflected on my answers, I came to wonder if my binge eating episodes were actually a disorder, as she was suggesting.  I was glad that it was anonymous.  Who would I talk to?  There was discussion about anorexia, thanks to Karen Carpenter‘s public struggle with it.  There was emerging discussion about bulimia.  But there was no discussion that I was aware of about binge eating disorder, and CERTAINLY not any discussion about any eating disorders among men, that I was aware of.  As I got into college, there were a few articles that began to discuss men, but, they all seemed to imply that it was something for the effeminate, thin, boyish-looking gay man, obviously in response to what was currently the female ideal.

…but eating disorders can be different for men.

It’s only been recently that I’ve seen discussion about muscle dysmorphia as a feature of body dysmorphia among men. (Thank you, Brian Cuban.)  My father dabbled in weight training when I was younger, but after I started studying it in middle school P.E., I got obsessed.  I took the weight bench and weight sets into my room.  I started aerobics by following along ESPN’s lineup of shows: Basic Fitness with Denise Austin, Basic Training, and Bodies in Motion with Gilad Janklowciz.  For a time, I was doing at least 2 hours of exercise a day.  Because Gilad filmed in Hawaii and my grandparents had a timeshare in Oahu (I say ‘had’ because they turned it over to my parents), it wasn’t long until they met up with him.  I started collecting workout video tapes.  More than likely, I’ve still got a few of them there.

No surprise… at least in middle school, my newfound interest in muscle building invited homophobic suspicion.

Learning about the Mother Wound came with learning about sexual orientation..

I realize that I make a very abrupt change of topic here, but I came to know about the Mother Wound from a seemingly unlikely source and path– through religious support groups that focused on reparative therapy and sexual reorientation.  It wasn’t a very clean and straightforward path– moving first from Elizabeth Moberly’s concept of defensive detachment to Robert Bly’s discussions of the path of manhood by way of Joseph Campbell’s writing of the Hero’s Journey.  It involved Alan Medinger’s “Growth Into Manhood”, and many other concepts of addressing orientation by way of healing and redeveloping healthy masculinity.  Please understand, dear readers, that I no longer subscribe to reorientation ideology.  Therein lies a very big, messy can of worms that I dare not reopen or revisit; I’ve already been raked over the coals, so to speak, by hurt and angry individuals.  I already understand the ideological notion of hetereosexual privilege; I, as a bisexually oriented man, am in a committed relationship with a bisexually oriented woman.  Those orientations remain as they are; and I admit that making choices of sexual conduct to align with religious conviction are a little more viable to us.

..in religious contexts that were not open discussions

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I sadly admit there isn’t much concrete, extensive discussion.  I point to The Family: A Proclamation to the World as our main document speaking to things of orientation, gender roles, and so forth. (Discussing that document alone would fill many more posts, so I will forebear.)  There is not much discussion of abuse, especially sexual.  At times, general leadership will speak out to condemn such abuse, but otherwise, much like the rest of contemporary Christianity, the focus on sexuality is largely centered on men and porn addiction, and maintaining a standard of sexual conduct.  I would be so bold as to say our church is a bit more progressive on such issues, but discussion is not very open or well-discussed at this time, and there is not very much deviation from the larger discussion amongst Christians.  There is discussion of “unrighteous dominion” from time to time, or rather, condemnation of oppressive patriarchial leadership, but there is NO discussion of maternal abuse, or any acknowledgment that women can initiate or be complicit in abuse.  The myth abounds that “women are more spiritual”, which also irritates my first-wave feminist baby sister (living in Utah these days, no less!), who feels that it puts shame and pressure on women who perceive that they don’t meet the ideal.  It’s a very pervasive myth, which has been repeated at general leadership levels as well as local.

The path is a lonely one

This again, will be an awkward ending, but I’m feeling the weight of the emotional pain, and I really do wish to publish this post before Mother’s Day is over.  It feels like a lonely road– I’m grateful for individual voices of support– but the discussion at large is mostly a very polarized one.  Rick Belden and I have discussed many frustrations that dialogues are plagued with dichotomies, especially feminism and Men’s Rights Activism (MRA)/Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW).  There is a lot of confrontation and a lot of political power struggle.  That said, this is my space.  Dear readers, I warn you.  I’m not up for contentious debate or argument.  I find that very draining.  I’m not saying don’t disagree, but, if you would walk, talk with me, I would rather build on common ground, than fight on differences.  I will be moderating replies accordingly… if I get them.  That’s the other thing… I get a lot more “Likes” than thoughtful replies here, but I will accept it all.  Thank you, at least, for reading it all; I would be very grateful to see a sign that you have.

See also Dave DuBay’s response to Rick Belden’s article: Mother Wound: Am I a Traitor?


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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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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.

Compassion-Logo-FINISHED1


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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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REBLOG: When women abuse boys.

Three years after I wrote this post, a news story broke that was much closer to where I live. This woman was not a teacher, but was the town mayor for a time, and her husband was the high school principal. The name? Linda Lusk, then 49. The boy? Only 14 at the time. The town? Prosser, WA, just 45 minutes from my home.

The news agency that covered the story– 20/20 and ABC News– also covered the story of Mary Kay Letourneau. Years later they returned to both MKLT and Lusk, and in my opinion, whitewashed a lot of their stories. Fualaau, LeTourneau, and the two girls– now teenagers– were portrayed as a happy family. Lusk was shown with a young 20-something man who was supposedly the new love of her life. No mention was made that he was married, and eventually returned to his wife and child.

See also A Survivor’s Journey: The Challenge of Triggers & the Media

the tao of jaklumen

                          <div>         I'm an avid reader of periodicals. I generally read more news in print than I do online.

The Associated Press recently decided to do a series of stories on teachers who sexually abuse their students. I was shocked at their emphasis on male teachers. Have the stories of Pamela Smart, Mary Kay LeTourneau, and Debi LaFave said nothing that did not bear repeating? While many offenders may indeed be male, it in no way diminishes the crimes of those who are female.

I decided to research the stories of the women a little more. On the surface, the horrors seem apparent enough. Smart’s case seems especially bizarre to me since the media focus was on the murder of her husband. There is fairly discussion of her methods of preying on Bill Flynn. LeTourneau had two children by her victim, and is now married to him. LaFave currently blames her…

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