Ketuvim 18

My adaptation of Psalm 18

I do not know from where my strength comes,
Nor do I know who I love
When I come undone.

I feel as though there are no rocks
beneath my feet
Or any sure foundation to stand upon.

The sorrows of sadness blanket me,
I scream from a place of torment
As I struggle to break free.

No one can see my internal struggles
No, not one.

I have been true to no god
I was not blameless before any of them.
I am not free from guilt.

It is said with the loyal, god will show himself loyal,
With the blameless, he shows himself blameless,
I have been neither.
With the pure, he shows himself pure
But I am crooked and not humble.

There is no one to light my darkness,
And I feel crushed underneath its canopy.
I have no shield,
No refuge,
Nowhere to feel secure.

I am constantly at war with myself
And I grow tired from battle.

-Shadow

Debt owed to the past

I have been silent for a while because I did not have anything to say. I don’t have that much to say now, but writing is supposed to help a person sort out shit or something. So I am writing.

First, I abandoned meditation. All my interests are short lived so it should not come as a surprise to anyone. I also stopped learning about Buddhism.  Perhaps because it takes way too much effort for me to “play nice” all the time and not say what immediately comes to mind.  Internally (and sometimes externally) I am somewhat intense and the calm, go with the flow Buddhism approach is a lot of work.  Too much right now.  Besides, I had gotten distracted by binge watching Netflix and bookbinding…again. Creating illuminated texts…again.

After a few weeks of this, I began to feel restless and I could feel boredom beginning to creep in. Emptiness soon arrived, followed by depression. By this point, I felt compelled to do something different. I felt as though I had to fight against these feelings.  To get rid of them somehow.  So I went outside, began observing nature (again) and recording it in my nature journal. I spend several days working on my flower bed, planting herbs, plucking weeds…anything to be outside in nature. When I would come back into the cabin, I would sit in silence staring at the walls. I suppose one could say this all occurred because I gave up those wonderfully inspiring Buddhist teachings that were attempting to show me a better way to live.  So I could be happy for the rest of my days and I threw it all out the window when I stopped listening.

Old ways of being are really hard to change.  I must like being miserable…of being in chains…of being bored, never sticking to an interest long-term and feeling empty.  Otherwise, why would I keep returning to it?  It reminds me of the Norse myth concept of the Norns (spinners of fate) and the great world tree, Yggdrasil.  At the root of Yggdrasil is the well of Urd (past/memory) from where the tree gets its water.  The waters of the past/memory are absorbed by Yggdrasil (symbolizing the present) and then fall from its leaves as dew (symbolizing a debt owed to the past) back down into the well.  This same idea can be seen in the meaning of the names of the three Norns who are considered to be the spinners of fate: Urd “past”, Verdandi “present” and Skuld, often translated as “future” but some suggest that “necessity/intention” or “debt owed” is more accurate.

Whether we realize it, the past has made us what we are today.   Whether we believe by an outside entity or by ourselves does not matter.  In my current state of boredom, emptiness and depression, I must ask myself what I willing to do…what debt am I willing to pay to the past so that I can be more balanced in the present?  Because up until now, all I have been doing is returning over and over again to the well of the past without ever really paying the debt that is owed.

Shadow

Memories

Holding the faded photograph

Of a moment I cannot recall

From a time long ago

Of when I was small.

 

As you clutched her in your arms

My face is turned from view

We all posed for a picture

But everyone looks blue.

 

What was it all about?

And why do we all look so sad?

Were you unhappy about,

The family you could of had?

 

We all had our secrets

Hidden behind our frowned face

But now, for the last time

I must leave this place.

 

It’s funny how

Bad memories are erased by years

And sometimes the mind creates good ones

From a time there were once tears.

 

©Shadow

Moving in and out, then facing a fear

I took some time off from work, packed up my things and got ready to move into my new apartment.  I was excited about getting my own small place. I moved everything by myself, with no help from my brother although he assured me “family comes first” and he would help me.  But he only likes to talk about how he “takes care” of his younger sister.

In any case, I got everything moved in and everything went downhill from there.  I was awake for the next three nights unable to sleep because the place was so fucking noisy.  Primarily from my upstairs neighbor. It reminded me of when I was once chased by a bull. It felt like the ground beneath my feet was shaking.  This is what the upstairs neighbor lady was doing to my walls and ceiling. Running, jumping, blasting music…sometimes it sounded like she was skating on roller blades and that she was actually in my apartment.

I have suffered from chronic insomnia all of my adult life.  Historically, I had been prescribed various psychotropic medications to help alleviate it.  But I quit taking them a few years ago when I convinced myself that the pharmaceutical companies had a conspiracy to keep me sick.  Since that time, I have cycled through various over the counter sleep aids…some more effective than others. None of them were effective in this case. Every night,  I ended up taking 150mg of diphenhydramine, using a box fan for white noise, and noise canceling headphones that played sleep music and hoping I would get some sleep. The lady still kept me awake until 2am and I had to get up at 5am to get ready for work.  This went on night after night. And during the day, my head was in a haze from all the sleep aid I had taken the night before…and the sleep I didn’t get.

After about a week or two of this, I became severely depressed.  It quickly turned to anger and then I sat down to make plans. I tried to come up with a way to make her have a very unfortunate accident…I’m not really a planner though…I respond mostly to impulse…I could just shoot her, I thought, but that scenario wouldn’t end well for me…I found myself fantasizing about this day after day.  It consumed me. I wanted to watch her, learn her habits, see who visited her…but because she lived above me, it made it difficult to do this.  So instead, I impulsively left.

I packed up a few items and went back to my father’s empty house where I slept on the floor for the first week.  I was so excited about the silence that I sat there for hours doing nothing but listening to the silence. It was wonderful.  I was happy to be in quietness again but it was short lived.

I went to see a psychiatrist for the first time during my treatment that’s been going on for over a year.  Background: I have been in and out of therapy a lot since I was 17. I must be addicted. In any case, this time around I had refused treatment from the psychiatrist because I fear them.  I told my counselor it’s because, they prescribe pills and keep me sick. But the truth is, they see through my bullshit and that makes me uncomfortable. Why does it make me uncomfortable?  Because I want people to see whatever I decide to let them see. And that doesn’t work, if its a good psychiatrist. Why am I in therapy then? Because I have no friends and we all need someone to talk to.

Anyway, back to my visit with the psychiatrist.  So I go into the room and there’s the psychiatrist on a video chat…on a very large TV screen.  I sat in one of the two chairs in the room…the one closest to the door of course. First, he asked why I was there.  “Because I feel like killing my fucking neighbor. I need to sleep and my mind needs to shut up, it’s like a radio without an off button,”  I tell him. Then he begins to ask a series of questions that I can only assume it is to get some background information. He wanted to know about previous psychiatric diagnoses, if I had every been confined to a psychiatric unit, etc.  Then he begins asking a series of questions to see if I meet criteria for Borderline. This wasn’t my first rodeo, I knew what he was doing…he suspected Borderline and that’s why he was asking those questions. But I answered all of his questions anyway as if I was under some kind of spell.  That is what happens when my shield is down.

Clever, I later thought, a video chat with a psychiatrist makes people feel more comfortable because the psychiatrist is not physically there.  So I had my guard down, less likely to lie and more likely to talk openly. Very clever and I didn’t see it.  Eliminating Borderline from my psychiatric history failed.  Why do I want to eliminate it? That is good question. What is my problem with this term that has plagued me for years?  It’s definitely questions I should explore further.

-Shadow

How it all started

In order to understand where I am now, you have to know how it all started.

As a child, I was angry.  During elementary school, I spent much of my time being aggressive toward male classmates.  I was impulsive, defiant and corporal punishment was unsuccessful. I began receiving counseling at the age of 17 back in the late 80s.  This happened after a series of events led me to break nine years of silence and tell of the childhood sexual abuse I endured for six years.  My parents seemed cold, aloof, distant and unsupportive.

As I became older I was deeply sensitive, easily hurt by criticism and suspicious of praise.  I felt misunderstood, stupid, unlovable, and I trusted no one. My emotions were intense and my rage was uncontrollable.  During my 20s I engaged in a lot of self harm by cutting myself with a razor blade. Twice I attempted suicide and failed.  I just wanted the emotional pain to go away. I suffered from chronic insomnia and when I was able to sleep, I often had nightmares.

Aggression toward others continued.  In fits of rage, I tried to strangle people, tried to run people over with my car and attempted to stab someone.  I had no boundaries and no fear of consequence.

My outbursts and unpredictability led me to being constantly reassigned to different counselors over and over again.  And I was frequently being committed to a psychiatric unit.

I was on a lot of psychotropic medications, in which psychiatrists were attempting to “stabilize my mood”.  By 1997, I was on total disability where I stayed for 10 years. I became a garbage addict but later went to rehab and then got treatment through an outpatient dual diagnosis program.

By the time I reached my mid 30s, some strange happened.  I stopped physically aggressing toward others and stopped cutting myself.  

In 2008, I became attached to someone and that was my first mistake.  I was still becoming this or that…”I can be anyone you want me to be, just don’t leave me” I thought.  After six years the relationship ended and I entered into a state of withdrawal and isolation (apart from working).  I had no friends nor a desire to have any and I constantly battled periods of severe depression, infrequent dissociative symptoms and paranoia.  

I have been diagnosed with different things, by different psychiatrists at different periods in my life: PTSD; Axis I: Bipolar I, Axis II: Borderline Personality Disorder; Schizoid Personality Disorder; Social Anxiety Disorder; Medication Induced Psychosis-Remission.  Of all these terms, there is none I hate more than Borderline and I have made frantic efforts to erase it from my psychiatric history. This is perhaps the reason for the different diagnoses…I presented myself as having anything other than Borderline. Always becoming something else.  I cannot reconcile it within myself and dwelling on the term only makes me worse.

It is unfortunate that most females who have a history of childhood trauma, self injurious behaviors, aggressiveness and no sense of self are automatically labelled as Borderline.  On the border of what exactly? I’ve often felt that my inability to recognize and regulate my intense and unpredictable emotions were at the core of my problems. Emotional dysregulation might be a better term but instead, for the purpose of this blog, I have chosen Not Otherwise Specified.

People will develop their own conclusions about who I am.  As for me, perhaps someday I will know who “self” is and finally stop becoming.

-Shadow