Projection

‘Through the void, in my hollowed out, brittle shell

I am but dust, strangely whole with the cosmos.

A wraith by the wreathe of a campfire

The wind-through-trees which ushers fearful looks.

My eyes are become pitch, jet like heavens

Empty of stars, populated by nothing.

The more I think of her smile, or his

Of their castles and fanes

The more a mirror is help up to my eye

By a cruel jester who says ‘you shall have none of this!

Yours shall forever be storm and fury

Dreams of pain upon pain.’

 

We all look in from without, we rebels.

We gaze in at the followers and serfs

Whose ignorance enacts great evil every day

And whose compliance feeds every tyranny.

Yet what unites us but out hatred for the powerful

Our wish to burn their palaces and slaughter their lineages?

There is little warmth here, and our unity is fleeting.

We have no culture and no history

We are like phantoms with swords.

Who could love us, we sorry men

Who fight for the will of the true gods

To bring Balance back into the world of men,

Yet lose even when we win.

 

For our graves will go unmarked

Our deeds will enter no chronicle or tapestry

And, verily, until the final day of His reign

The people we strive to liberate

Will hold spears to our throats

So strong their need to hold on to illusion

So great their fear of freedom.

This resentment shall not fade

Even after the King is long dead, and they long free

Spite they will carry for us

If they think of us at all.

 

Considering the ubiquity of our plight

In the march of history

I feel Nature is a bittersweet generator

Of great cosmic bastards

The likes of which we are two.’

 

Gylfanon smiled, grimly.

‘It seems that you see the world swathed in shadow

As reflection of your own tumultuous, exiled soul.

I doubt not the truth of your words, friend

Only that they be but one aspect

Of a much broader truth.

 

But now it occurs to me

If this is how you see the world

So dark and full of shadow

Pain and suffering so inevitable

Grief caused just by seeing the happiness of others

And yet still you hold on to hope and virtue

Then perhaps you are the boldest of us all, Akiorus.

From a scarred and unforgiving past

You have become a chieftain of magecraft

Born not of high blood or esteem;

The opposite – born of Stygian depths!

Every triumph you have earned of your own mettle.

I am prouder of you this day

Than any of my lieutenants.’

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Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice
The bleak hope
Old Night still holds sway
Dominating the heavens
Clouds keep light at bay
And the coldest months await.
Yet the tide turns here
Not one more day
Does the darkness triumph
Its slow retreat assured.
Step by step
Day by day
Archangels of light
Push against dark forces
Who slowly yield
In Nature’s eternal,
Celestial,
Dance of balance.
The war for the heavens
Has ended not
Battle after battle
Awaits the forces of nature
And many of mankind
Will still tremble and cling
In the mists of Old Night.
But for those left standing
Spring’s sweet dawn awaits
Thrice in mirth
For the embattled and the worn,
And I will be at the van
Bright standard in one hand
And sword of sunfury in the other
Saying; ‘Darkness,
Though your place
Be not ever truly vanquished
In the balance of all-things
And my deep respect you have,
Your time has come this year
And you must take your place
In the depths of eternity!’
At last, the dark days
Are ending!
Come transcendent light
And do for our souls
What we may not ourselves do!

Deprivation

Anxiety prevents good sleep cycle or routine.

Tiredness from the body as a result of sleep deprivation.

Tiredness triggers anxiety. Anxiety keeps body alert for threat.

There is no threat, body realizes this and lowers anxiety.

Body starts to feel tired again when it feels safer.

Tiredness triggers anxiety. Anxiety prevents body from resting.

We see from this basic formulation how sleep problems are a symptom. Trying to solve the sleep problems with lavender drops or any other practices can only reduce the impact of them. It is so naïve, looking at all the pills and products out there, thinking some wonder self-therapy will do it.

The man at the shop today looked very tired too. But he was in a context which required him to be active, and motivated him to do so. I have no context at the moment, weeks float past, surprisingly quickly, almost completely aimless. They are not necessarily meaningless, but are without structure or routine. I have no wider context in which to exist, no great narrative arc to pursue. This I suppose is the cause of depression – inactivity.

Depression and anxiety are closely linked. It is hard to escape this cycle because anxiety does not want me to escape this cycle. It longs for familiar demons. But this isn’t some mastermind in control of my subconscious. It is a poor long-term planner, and it doesn’t realize this fundamental truth.

If you do not live, you die. If you do not strive, you fail. Not living is not safety from death, it is death. And not striving does not keep you safe from failure, it is failing.

The neurotic inactivity and circularity of anxiety is not some zen state of enlightenment, where you can do without effort and just be. It is a forced state, ultimately destructive, hiding from invisible predators. Insomnia is its inheritance, and that means sleep deprivation. This is at least ultimately proof that something has to change and that anxiety has to go.

Have to keep on remembering – its Winter. Its cold and its dark and all the plants and trees are sleeping or dying.  I know all about the cycles of nature, and the inevitability of suffering was taught to me from a young age by destructive relationships with authority. But knowing this does not make things any easier.

Here we are now all these years later and still needlessly suffering; still not in a free place. And the sad thing is so many people are not in a good place, and cannot find a permanent good place in the deranged social order. So why are so many suffering here, tossing and turning through frustrating nights and losing the chance to dream.

Anxiety is behind the sleeplessness but what is behind the anxiety?

The day I thought I might die

Perhaps letting the subconscious scream out to the cosmos will help it keep silence. Now I am close to my wounds, they seem more vivid than ever. It is like being in a state of hurt, almost constantly.

I know that trauma is like being stuck in a timeless non-place, obsessive over moments and details. With enough time, those wounds recede deep inside, but they do not truly disappear. Time does not heal trauma.

Fortunately, I know I want them to close up and am willing to do the work necessary. This requires making a chronicle of what happened, piecing it together and salvaging myself back out of the wreckage. Putting it into a narrative, coming to understand it, this is now my task.

But this is just the trauma of last year. All of the deeper traumas, which made this one possible (and which, I believe, were represented in some way through this one) we will get to as I work back.

The day I thought I was going to die

I remember waking up to a misty Tuesday morning, about eight days after a light knock to the head. There was a strange feeling there, on the left side of my skull. I had felt my eyesight was a bit worse the last few days, and started worrying about that. I remember going to the first greenhouse and speaking to S and the two Js. They said I should check out the injury, because it could be serious. One of the Js recounted a tale of a knock to the head. I remember the other J giving me directions to the A&E, telling me to take a bus halfway to avoid some possibly dodgy estates.

I started walking, feeling a bit like Corum of the Silver Hand out of Michael Moorcock’s Swords trilogy. It was a misty, cold and harsh day. A strange sense was warning me of something, a sense I was not yet connected to. On the way I was worrying – about missing a workday on site, about my wellbeing, about my strength. Half way to the hospital, one of the J’s health warnings came into my head, and the next moment, at an unspectacular bus stop the world started to shift beneath my feet. It was a shock of dizziness caused by breathlessness (in hindsight I realize this is due to perfectly natural hyperventilation – taking in too much oxygen whilst in fight or flight mode!)

Thinking I might be in serious danger, I cursed myself for coming alone and went into a nearby charity shop. I asked if they could phone an ambulance. The grumbly lady tried to, but they would not send anyone. My condition was not serious enough. There was still 111. I remember asking to make the call, and the woman saying ‘its not going to cost anything is it?’ I had a quid in my pocket. Even thinking about the possibility of collapsing on the floor, or death, another part of me was still thinking about politeness and assuaging the woman’s fears of a 10p phone call.

But 111 were useless anyhow, so I would have to make it on my own.

Crossing a road has never been so hard. Nor has waiting at a bus stop for the U5 (or U3). Every moment was agony and worry. I literally had never had a panic attack before, and had no way of knowing how to deal with one. When the bus came, I got on and found a seat, and remember holding on to the railing.

What sort of thoughts go through the head of one who thinks they might be dying? I cannot quite remember. I think there was something about the journey ending here, begging for more time, being a total fuck up. There was a strong fear of sudden blackout, and wondering if people on the bus would get me safely to the hospital. I started to talk a bit with people as the bus wended through the lanes. An old man behind me reassured me. Still, I was extremely impatient and frustrated, although able to laugh a bit at the old ladies getting on and making small talk to ease their loneliness.

At last, about ten minutes after what could have been my last journey on the U3 (or was it the U5?) on earth, I walked the hundred or so yards into A&E. I felt a bit safer now; collapsing in a hospital is a good place to collapse. I spoke to the clerk and she asked a few questions about my health. Smoking, drinking, drugs and all that. I answered I was clean, but evidently not healthy enough to avoid smashing my head into things.

I think the fear of dying was wearing off. Waiting in the A&E alone, surrounded by people, I started to text people back at ‘home’, to let them know. I remember then having an extremely painful blood test, I was tense and taut, like an animal trapped in a cage. Where the needle entered, a soreness and redness persisted for many days.

Then I saw the doctor. He was reassuring. I felt safe in the authority of a medical professional (when extremely vulnerable, this tends to happen with me). No one really knows what was happening with my brain at the time, but the fact that I was articulate and sensate meant nothing serious (I had no idea at the time how much anxiety and stress could create such sensations and exacerbate fears. Even writing about this is bringing back those sensations). He gave me a small leaflet about head injuries (nothing about anxiety though), and told me to come back if symptoms persisted.

I didn’t have a doctor, and hadn’t had one for ages. Nor did I have a passport, and hadn’t had one for ages. I was in the wilderness, and the hospital is no place to find the care you need.

So I was discharged, and waited for Z to pick me up in the car park. I cannot remember much of the journey ‘home’, only my perspective, looking out at a drear town from behind the dashboard. And cookies, strange French cookies (I think they were on this journey anyway). Nor can I remember what happened when we got back, or how I managed to sleep that night. (Zeezee really helped me that day, I should be more grateful).

So began this saga. The coming days, which I will get onto soon, were the hardest I have ever lived through. The coming months would be shaken by the fall out of these early traumas, and open an emotional Pandora’s box that still has not closed.

 

 


 

PTSD

The wounds that keep on opening

The ship frozen in crystal

The nightmare come unbidden

The wraith that keeps on rising

The overcoming never overcome

The tragedy recurring.

 

How do I come into the present again?

Today I forget what it means to be anything other than a damaged tapestry.

 

How much energy is the past going to swallow today?

Today my self-defence mechanisms are wearing out their own gears.

(Lucky we are built as anxiety-machines! Otherwise there would be nothing left)

Task of the brave

To mend what was broken
To heal what was wounded
To find what was lost
To restore what was ruined
To raise what was fallen
To love what was neglected
To fill what was empty
To seed what was barren
This is your task, hortzosh.

But to find why these tragedies
Came to pass in the first place;
To stop evil from triumphing again
*This* is the task of the wizards.

The wizards…

Contradictions

So many contradictions have been unravelling in me recently. It has been an endeavour of two parts: one part an intellectual challenge of ‘Western thinking’ and one part delving into my deepest emotions and lived experience of subconscious wounding. The former I have some degree of direction over, the latter has largely happened to me.

The ‘Western Mind’ wants answers! The problem is, often life’s answers are contradictory. But it wants one anyway and this leads it in circles, or even, disastrously, to throw up its arms and say ‘this just doesn’t make sense!’ or ‘that is just the way it is!’ When it comes to abuse and psychology, this is dangerous. Such lack of understand perpetuates the vileness of abuse, and makes a mystery of something which is uncomfortable, but nowhere near as arcane as it may seem.

At any time there are two forces at work, conscious and unconscious. What the unconscious wounded self seeks, may not be what the conscious mind desires. Hence why you can get what you want without knowing why, or get what you want even if it acts against your own wellbeing. People who deal with only the conscious mind, who deny things such as the need to resolve wounds, who naively and arrogantly think they can just override the subconscious, are those most likely to continue destructive patterns. They are also the most likely to be confused, looking for black or white answers and motivations. But something can be black and white at the same time, and this must first be accepted to truly challenge and understand abusive relations.

Contradictions

There are so many contradictions inherent in us, in you, in me. The greatest in my view is the wounded self. As a child one is helpless, in the guardianship of two or more adults. The wounds of that early era go deep, and we all have them. But some people have more wounds than others. A painful childhood, helpless, hurt, wounded, leaves deep scars. There is a fundamental contradiction: no matter how cruel a parent, a child is small and vulnerable, they also need their guardians, who are large and in control.

So when a child is abused and hurt by their guardians, they have contradictory ideas at the core of their subconscious.  A child abused will learn whatever strategies they can to deal with a seemingly impossible, inescapable and traumatic experience. These strategies can be carried into adulthood. They evolved for a reason, they had their place, and they are a valid part of their being; when they are used effectively. Yet the love and  desire for attachment they feel for their guardians, from an age when they could know no better, also remains. They may want to please their guardians, or even heal their wounds with love. This duty to love is shored up by the values a parent can force into their young – and you don’t have to believe in them for them to work on your subconscious. Simultaneous to belief in obedience and parental authority (i.e. the seeds of abuse), you could believe in dignity and mutual respect. The result is a mangled contradiction.

I want to stand up to these abusive tyrants who caused so much damage, but my deepest core trembles at this great blasphemy. I want to be respected and treated as an equal, yet my deepest core wants to surrender and be cared for by my guardians.

One ultimately has to choose. Do you want to relate with abusers who will likely never change their ways, who will deceive and confuse, hurting themselves and others till the day they die? Or, do you want to learn strategies to cope, and find people who will help you live without that fundamental connection, to stand in truth and face the consequences of such a decision?

What else can I advocate for but that which I truly believe in, at the core of my being. To be free from contradiction, to stand for truth.

Without a font of expression, the contradictory feelings remain in the body, deep, deep at the core. They can make bad feeling seem inevitable and arcane, instigating depression. A child wounded will carry rage at their helplessness into adulthood, lashing out at others without truly knowing why. One of gentler aspect may hurt themselves, with no means of resolving the energies inside them. One who seeks not to understand themselves is the one who is capable of greatest evil. One who denies the power of the deeps, is hiding in cowardice from their own shadows.

Healing the wounded child

The shift away from wounded child to adult is harder than it may seem. Abuse contains the seeds of its replication. Abusers will hold onto whatever power they can, whether or not the outcomes are good. They do not care about wellbeing, they care about power; the domination of others that allows them to escape their inner-fears and feelings of helplessness as children.

Thus the abused and the deeply wounded, no matter how much they may consciously long for something better, have to make that an actuality – this journey always begins against the odds. In a society where it is increasingly more difficult just to meet basic needs, this makes escape even harder. Materially, freedom itself is a challenge.

But there is, I believe, a deeper contradiction and problem, which must precede material challenges. The abused child may have their sometimes-useful shell, but also a deep distrust of the world, and of others. Such distrust is useless. It is very easy to develop a paranoid mind-set, to generalize the world of adults as vile, abusive creatures, when this was your first experience of the world. Yet the distrust perpetuates the abuse, for not being able to love or open up to new people, good people, the abused has to settle for the ‘devil they know’. They also live in contradiction – wanting to be loved but being too distrustful to truly open up; wanting to heal, but daring not to look within.

As I grow older, I learn how important it is to be vulnerable in front of people, and to see it as a sign of strength, a demonstration of trust. The only way out of the abusive relation to the family is to practice this vulnerability with others; to found a new family. Open to the wounded self, we can heal ourselves and heal others at the same time. Trust is needed before healing can take place. Without trust, there is no healing. And without healing, constant healing, the wounds ache, and people continue doing screwed up things. Healing requires an acceptance of our vulnerability, and to turn our love and compassion in upon ourselves, as much as others.

An end to abuse

Abuse benefits no one. The tyrant gains nothing – their wounded selves remain, they paint a sad mark on the tapestry of history, they have not magnanimity of character, and they are essentially the worst of humanity. The abused are least benefited, but worse so if they also become abusers, carrying the attitudes of abuse and the scars of wounding to unfortunate conclusions. There should be no sympathy or respite for those who abuse – to do so is to negate their basic responsibility as sentient creatures. Nothing justifies abuse of another, and to say that being abused determines character is the deepest moral cowardice.

Building a new, mutual way to relate in truth, prepared to face and heal our deepest wounded selves is the only way forward. It is, I would venture, the prerequisite to a better society, and thus world. No ideology or set of attitudes can displace the depth of subconscious desire and motivation, and to live without understanding of this fundamental force is the ultimate folly, and cause of the repetition of so much that is wrong in the world.

 

Deterioration / Recurrence

As of yesterday, my mental health started to rapidly deteriorate. I had sensed it slowly coming in on me, but never thought I could be taken back to that state.

Yesterday, it was precisely one year since this crisis began – when I thought my brain injured, close to possible death, on a traumatic journey to the hospital. I had been dreading this time quite a bit.

But correlation does not imply causation. It could be some kind of PTSD symptom, or it could be closer to a coincidence. The weather has been consistently bad, things to do have dried up a bit, and the person  I am currently living with (not out of choice) has spent the last week or so being extremely critical and occasionally demeaning, herself clearly in the throes of depression and misery.

Whatever the reason – and I strongly think it is more a recurrence of old anxiety – I could barely sleep last night and am in no fit state even to volunteer at a community garden. Its back to being quite debilitated by anxiety – a tremulous state that is also strangely gratifying and earthly. My body is taking over again, and it is pulling me away from the mind.

I used to fear a  recurrence of agoraphobia and severe panic, something I found very crippling and humiliating last year. But its impossible to reach those depths again. This time I know I will get out of it, and that by exposing myself I can heal the worst of it quicker. Still, these days are deeply uncomfortable and harmful to my wellbeing. Like anyone I think I would rather be able to turn feelings off for a bit, or take a break from it all.

There are a few silver linings. My resilience is much higher. I can’t turn off the feelings of absolute shittiness, but I am better equipped to endure them. I also know I have no medical emergency, this is a disorder of the mind. I know what anxiety is, and some strategies to tone it down. Mantras and little phrases have been helpful (anxiety is adaptive, exposure is excellent, and so on). In short, I at least know the limits of how bad it can get now that I am more confident and trained. I have also discovered my limits quite well – such as how much I can do after a night of insomnia, and fear the outcomes of such things less (I can at least write a decent blog post!)

Recurrence means I was right to hold on to my medication! I thought getting off the meds was the sign of some linear progression, but obviously not. Two tabs of Valium go back into my pocket and here we go again.

Perhaps this is a sign of the life which awaits me. Periodic debilitating anxiety, triggers and high stress levels. Perhaps this marks a new phase which will force me to adapt or suffer.

But in spite of all the shit, I am making headway with psychotherapy. So much is unconscious, hence why it seems so hard to explain why we feel a certain way at a certain time, why things trigger us, and so forth. I find it hard to constantly stay at this level of depth – no wonder people like their distractions and routines! But going deep is something I must do, for I am a delver and this is how I work my way out of tunnels.

Ultimately it is better to be thoughtful and sensitive, suffering your extra share of the world’s woes then to be an absolute, out and out drone. Better to be yourself than to conform to the destructive paradigm of the age, and better to be moral and live for your community than be a self-centred prick.

I don’t have many regrets – in a way I have brought myself here. What I must not do is get complacent again. Things had to change, which is why my inner-child is screaming and not letting me sleep it all off. Until I find the keys to the subconscious mind, it is limbo and occasional hell.

A delver, I have no choice but to dive in…

 

Deep are these wounds

I)

Oppression and belittlement

Leave deepest wounds.

After all these years

Still, resting on top of spikes

No bed can be made

Or elysium found.

 

A shadow follows me everywhere

Begging to be seen.

It is ugly and the contours of its face

Are twisted in sorrow

Self-pity, pleading for mercy.

In the next moment it flips

Infinite in its hatred

To spite, clawing down, dragging

A weight inside my skull

A child crying in pain.

 

The abusers take your mind

Like the seed of a rapist

Planted inside a womb

And the foetus inside

Cannot be torn free easily

And not without guilt

Or shame, the army and fortress

Of the abusers

Respectively.

 

II)

They are clueless and warped

Like hungry cattle upon pasture

Leaving nothing to grow again.

No words can reach through

The barred gates of ignorance

No sentiment of mutual love

Can replace their lust for power

Over anything, even their own.

 

They strive to control and dominate

So warped are they themselves

Unable to understand their own inner wounds

They perpetuate pains

Then fly away to lick wounds

And put on apologetic airs

Whilst the demons inside grow again in might.

 

For anyone deep in the bowels

Of these castles – no hope within its walls

No promise of inheritance or freedom

For they will grasp on to their meagre power

Til their corpses rot on petty thrones.

That is all they have.

No soul remains, and all dreams

Withered away into nothing long ago

Only bitterness and ignorance

Can fuel such wretched, barely sentient people.

 

Only outside the walls can the call be heard

The cry for help like a raven’s caw

But not so easily now.

The deranged society around us

Has closed ears, and a venomed-blade

Behind its cloak (a suit of humanitarianism

And a tie of liberty).

 

Only the cracks in the pavement

Offer any chance, the bands of fighters

Scattered lights,  embattled souls

Awash in anxiety and agony

Alike to yours, but with different abuses

And different wounds inside.

They are the only choice and the only chance

Of escape, and then thriving.

 

For it is too late to go back now.

Far have we stepped away

From the cloying circle of conformity

And the addictive drug of obedience.

Long have we dismantled the destructive engine of capital

We cannot go back now.

So all we have is each other

And solidarity.

 

Stay close

 

III)

No one can truly hurt you

More than you can hurt yourself.

The mind is like a poison

Upon a natural plant

An over-used organ, draining its power

And better silenced most days.

No one can harm you

Nor fulfil you or complete you.

This you must do yourself.

Everything you need is already in you

From birth til death;

The only real light you might know

The only real flame against

This cold age of nihilisms.

 

Nurture that soul and respect it

Try not to sell it short

Or sell it out.

 

When you know yourself

As much as you can know that fragment of divinity

Others will know, and you can go among them

In union and friendship

And then you might begin to know freedom

And dignity.

On being dragged down

There is such a thing as being dragged down. And there is also such a thing as dragging others down. The theme of dragging has been…dragging at my heels for about a week now.

I am unpacking what it means to be dragged down. And more importantly, what can be done to prevent it from happening.

Today it stood out in stark relief against a hopeless mist of self-criticism and despair of other people remaining always as they are. It stood out and it said: ‘You can only be criticized by another if you take on board their criticism.’

It is so obvious it should not need spelling out, but there it is. In a way it offers me some freedom from anxiety, and a strength to be myself in my space. You don’t have to avoid the dragging claws of some defeatist, or overly critical person. There words have no power once you realize that it is you feeding them most of that power (in effect, their criticism from without is like a reflection of being overly self-critical from within, and as we have seen before, being self-critical is the path to sadness and makes you more prone to being abused).

Granted, someone can intend to hurt you or drag you down, and this in itself provokes a ‘why?’ and negative feelings. But the full export of such negativity can only be realized if you value the person trying to drag you down’s opinion.

And sadly, as we taught that everyone has a ‘sacred’ right to their opinion and should be listened to, I can understand why this is engrained so deep.

The harsh fact remains however, that some people are not worth listening to. Nature does not spread brains out equally among its children – not even within a species (and least of all in homo sapiens sapiens.) Tune out their voice, let their words flow through you, don’t try to change them. An overly critical idiot will be so until they decide not to be, or, heaven’s be blessed, grow old and die.

Which leads me to my next paragraph on the crab claws of down dragging – empathy.

Empathy also can be extremely destructive in such a dynamic of criticizer and criticized. Being trained to be empathic and understanding, to see these things as virtues, it is very easy to be dragged into a pit of someone else’s despair and defeatism. Empathy and being a good, caring person does not make you the stronger, nor able to handle the emotions of another. The hate of a spited old woman can be the strongest thing in the world, and nothing can overcome or change it. To empathize with that is to enter into its logic, and do oneself a great disservice. Being empathic is like having skin made of sponge – the ‘water’ of the outside enters into you whether you want it to or not; the words of criticism effect some irrational reflex before the conscious mind has a chance to process the truth of it. You will always be playing catch-up to someone else’s words if you are too empathetic.

Best not to listen to some people. This is the only way to navigate the world without being constantly dragged at.