What a time for pain to be hitting me even harder, dear readers.
Maybe it’s just as well.
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.
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.
JOR-EL: The Kryptonian prophecy will be at last fulfilled. The son becomes the father – the father becomes the son.
I am one with my father. Our struggles are now acknowledged to be intertwined. But it is not so… elegant as Jor-El and Kal-El becoming one. We are united in our pain (and I could sense it for so many years).
United in abuse.
My friend Bobbi Parish told me last night that his immune disorders, the pancreatitis, and so on– are marks of long-term abuse. Abuse from his father, my grandfather, who beat him when he spasmed in the night, not knowing what else to do. Abuse from my mother and her parents, my grandparents, who witheringly disapproved of him for many, many years. And more… more I am probably unaware of consciously.
I see abuse as a corruption to our natural weaknesses, marinating in fear, hatred, and evil suffering. In Superman III (sadly, mostly a really bad film, due, I think, to the wrath of the producers), August “Gus” Gorman analyzes the known kryptonite sample from a meteorite crash in order to synthesize it. Finding a portion is an unknown substance, he replaces it with an ingredient he finds on a pack of cigarettes– tar. After exposing the imperfectly synthesized kryptonite to Superman, Gus realizes it didn’t have the intended effect. Instead, Superman is vulnerable to the toxic emotions and vices of mortality. (See also A Hero’s Journey: Superman & the Ordeal.)
So Kal-El had to grapple with that weakness, and fully reconcile Clark Kent with Superman.
Thus I have realized my quest to overcome childhood abuse is not just for myself, but for my family- generations before, and generations after. The goal is not only to Seize the Sword, but also to grasp the Hammer that will rebuild.
So I stumble through the #CSAQT and #sexabusechats, watch the Trauma Recovery University Google Hangouts, make my Sanity Street Signs to understand it all (drawing deep on past art projects), cry, rage, and carry on, as best I can.
For the original post, please see BeWoW: Hero Introduction (A Pride of Heroes).
I sent Matt Langdon this message:
I’ve been admiring the work of The Hero Construction Company for a while. After I decided to start blogging about the Hero’s Journey, I wondered if others were writing about it, and I came to the collection of blogs that include the Hero’s Handbook.
I hope you don’t mind that I included this message in a blog post: https://jaklumen.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/bewow-hero-introduction/ while referencing “A Pride of Heroes”. I really do want more people to know what you do. So many others I’ve talked to think the Monomyth is just about writing stories, and haven’t considered its real-life applications.
Due to indigent circumstances, I’m not sure I can scrape enough money to attend the Hero Round Table Conference anytime really soon. But I’ll do my best to participate as much as I can until circumstances change and/or a conference comes closer to the Pacific Northwest.
and Matt had this to say by way of reply last Tuesday:
Thanks a lot for the blog posts. No idea how I didn’t see your original posts, but the internet is a funny place. Thanks also for the compliments. It means a lot.Keep an eye on the Hero Round Table. If you can make it there, I can comp you a ticket. It’s a really energizing time. You’d meet some kindred spirits.
for now, please see
What is BeWoW?
BeWoW stands for Be Wonderful on Wednesdays, a blog hop/blog prompt started by Ronovan at RonovanWrites. The idea is to share a blog post that meets the definition of encouraging, positive, or wonderful.
For more information, click on this link: Be A #BeWoW Blogger
For Ronovan’s entry this week, click this link: Being Positive Support for Others.
Okay. What Wonderful Thing do you have to share, jak?
I got this message very early this morning:
Hey Jonathan,Nice to see your comment on the Hero Handbook. Thanks for stopping by. If you’re interested in talking to more hero people, I would suggest checking out the conference we’re running in Michigan (for the third year). The Hero Round Table basically came into being because I wanted people like you in the same room as each other. It’s been a cool experience thus far.Blogging for more than ten years is pretty damn impressive. Well done.Matt
A while ago I asked the Hero Construction Company Facebook page what a group of heroes could be called. Some offerings were host, league, and army. Then came pride. It won me over instantly.
I like it because it highlights that heroes should be proud. Heroes are always humble, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be proud. I like the lion connotation too, as it seems lions of different shapes and sizes all fit equally well into the pride.
He offered anyone who was reading an invitation to this collaboration he calls The Pride, and all readers had to do was comment with their first name, initial of their last name, and their general location. So I left a comment, and that led to the rest of the story.
Let’s wrap it up.
I’ve followed the Hero’s Handbook for a while, along with some other blogs done by fine folks at the Hero Construction Company and the Janus Center. I wrote about them previously (here and here). I was so impressed not just that they were teaching schoolkids about the Hero’s Journey, but that they were teaching them how to integrate it into their own lives.
I have had trouble, dear readers, compiling more serial posts for the Hero’s Journey category this past year, so, I present you with something ready-made.
This presentation was done by a father and son team, for the son’s 5th grade English class. The video segments are from the Disney/Marvel Studios motion picture THOR (based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name):
Please note that Cimmorene and I have some objections to how the Stages are laid out here. What is here labeled “Reward” falls to The Ultimate Boon stage. Indeed, this is what Christopher Vogler also calls “Seizing the Sword”. I’m going to bet that the display of Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) in rock was very intentional here, to evoke comparisons to Arthurian legends of the sword in the stone (which was not Excalibur originally, but fused with the Lady of the Lake’s gift in modern reinterpretations). Resurrection/Transformation/Rebirth occurs here, and not at the scene of Thor destroying the Rainbow Bridge between Asgard and Midgard (Earth, or literally, “Middle-Earth”, which I assume was the inspiration of J.R.R. Tolkien). The destruction of the Rainbow Bridge would be Crossing of the Return Threshold. While peace is restored to Asgard and Earth, what is labeled Return with Elixir should be called Atonement with the Father, since it is apparent that not only did Mjölnir come to be wielded by someone worthy as Odin All-Father declared, but that Odin himself confirmed that Thor was worthy, and deserving of fatherly praise.
For those comic book and folklore aficionados that care– Thor, as he was presented in Marvel Comics originally, was Donald Blake, a crippled doctor who knew nothing of his origin as Thor. When the doctor learned of the legend and found the hammer, he spoke the name of Odin to become Thor, his cane becoming Mjölnir. Later his memory was restored, and Thor learned that he became the mortal Donald Blake to learn humility. This is not mentioned in the film; the name Donald Blake is instead said to be an ex-boyfriend of the movie’s romantic female character. Also, in the original Norse tales, Loki is brother to Odin, and is therefore Thor’s uncle.
A good online friend and helper of mine, Bobbi Parish, wrote an article recently. Here’s an excerpt, with a link to the article:
The four lies are:
— We should be ashamed of our abuse, which manifests as Shame
— Our abuse was our fault, which manifests as Self-Blame
— We are bad because we caused our abuse and deserved our abuse which manifests as Low Self-Worth or even Self-Loathing
— We are powerless to change anything in our lives, which manifests as Powerlessness
The shame, self-blame and low self-worth reside at the very core of our being, defining the way we see ourselves and the world. That triad of lies is protected by the fourth lie: that we are powerless. The powerlessness tells us we cannot change the feelings of shame, self-blame and low self-worth that we feel. In essence, our feeling of powerlessness guards that core triad of lies. For this reason, I call those four lies The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard.
Please take a moment to take this article in, dear readers. I was just tweeting with Bobbi a moment ago– she was telling me the “The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard” came to her in the middle of the night as I was saying it sounded like an enemy of an epic saga.
I felt inspired. So many people know The Hero’s Journey as a template for a story, but I see it as a reflection of real life. Our legends, myths, folkloric stories– are reflections of our values, dreams, outlook, for the societies we live in. I took some time to explain that in a series of posts on “The Inner Journey”.
In essence, this will be “The Journey out of Childhood Abuse” and “From Zero to Hero”. (Remember that WordPress blogging challenge, dear readers? You see now why the theme resonated with me?”
[ADDENDUM: 11 January, 2015] When my father first told me of his near-death experience, many years ago, a flash of memory hit me, like a curtain being drawn from my mind, to reveal the light of the morning sun.
I remember begging, pleading with him, to go back, so that I would have a chance to be. I did not remember all, but over the years, I came to know the deep sacrifices that were made in those moments. I would revisit them when he nearly died, again, and each time I climbed up on the surgeon’s table, the last time being the 7th of January, 2015.
This is my Atonement with the Father.
JOR-EL: Once, when you were small, I died, while giving you a chance for life.
It was a shock when I saw him. He was wandering around aimlessly, obviously not in his body. He was NOT supposed to be here.
“What are you doing here? You need to go back, and be my father, just as we planned!”
“I’m tired. I hurt. I don’t want to go back to a broken body.”
“But you need to go back! We agreed!”
My father first got really sick in 1992, when I was hundreds of miles away going to college in Rexburg, Idaho. When I crashed out of school and took the rebound to community college, I came home one day to see him carried out on a stretcher into an ambulance.
Almost two decades passed and he got really, really sick again. As in deathly ill. He could barely move and he grew a beard because he didn’t feel well enough to even shave. “Not now,” I thought. “I still need you.” But I talked with my youngest sister about it, and we made peace with it; we were ready to bury him if that was really to be.
I sent him pictures of me and my son to try to cheer him up. He was in really bad shape.
|A Boy and His Dad|
It was obvious that I was not going to persuade him by plans of the future. I would have to appeal to his here and now.
“What about your family now? Won’t they miss you?”
That seemed to be more persuasive. He softened a bit and looked more ready to turn back.
Dad found a specialist in Walla Walla that seemed to know what was going on, finally, and he recovered.
JOR-EL: And now, even though it will exhaust the final energy left within me…
Look at me, Kal-El!
“Wait, before you go. I have to do something. I… I will carry a part of that pain for you.”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes… yes, I do.”
“No, you don’t.”
“I do. I promise, I will help you.”
My back was thrashed– not too long after my son was born, I found out that some of the discs in my spine were wearing out, and one was being crushed like a pancake, pinching the nerve (sciatic) in my right leg. In the first week of October in 2009, I had a fusion surgery, but the nerve damage was done.
I found myself comparing notes with my father on pain.
JOR-EL: The Kryptonian prophecy will be at last fulfilled. The son becomes the father – the father becomes the son.
My father later apologized to Cimmorene, and to me, for his mistreatment of me in the past. He got it. Things would never be the same again.