Know thyself

They want you to deny what is true.

They want you to turn away from what is happening inside your very self.

They want you to heal their wounds and fill the black hole of their souls…

It is no mystery to me where self-destructive energies originate from. The pornography and the drugs and the listless consumption, the social competition and the striving for impossible goals. It is only a mystery to one who dares not to know themselves.

Life is filled with wounds and they can only be healed with acknowledgement. They must be brought out from the depths and overcome with the aid of enlightened witnesses. The work must be done to rid us of their chains before we can move forward.

Yet the great illusions of society; halo-wearing authority and idealized family, protects abusers and wrongdoers and humiliators, forces us to be silent.

Wounds are caused, atrocities committed, but they cannot be spoken of. They must be swallowed down by the sufferer, carried like a great burdening stone so that an abusive tyrant can have his warped rule and his illusion of conscience.

It is a pointless arrangement, no one wins. The tyrant, filled with unacknowledged wounds, is a black hole which swallows all love and encouragement. Until one decides to look within, they are hopeless.

There are those in this world who have elected to be only the mask that they wear. Such people, the ultimate cowards of the human soul, have turned away from their true inner selves. Not only this, these blind would lead those with sight; their way will poison the well for everyone else, and drag all that is good down to their gutter-level. They can do nothing else.

From such wretchedness spring the cruelties of the world we see, the destruction of nature, the wars between nations, consumerist nihilism, the lust to dominate and enslave and abuse and abuse and abuse and abuse and abuse.

These things might be called ‘human nature’ by those who dare not seek the better explanation. They may seem inexplicable to fools who do not even know what lies inside the cavity of their own bodies, such is their ignorance.

Someone who doesn’t even strive to know the very mind they experience the world through, what can they know? Someone blind to their own dreams and their own creative will. What can they say that is of any worth to anyone?

It is no easier to face the world from a place of ignorance. The wraiths of the soul haunt everyone who is scarred, in dreams and extreme emotions. Ignorance is no bliss, but to be reduced to a bovine state, to cage oneself and lash out for the lack of self-knowledge or understanding whenever dark emotions bubble.

The philosophy of mindfulness can feed into this ignorance. To believe you can be a creature of the present is nothing if not naivety. Whilst mindfulness provides useful tools for coping in a hostile capitalist world, it does not answer the question of how to heal our wounded souls, and provides the unreachable vista of ‘living in the present’ to further make us feel like we are falling short of Buddha-like enlightenment. Self-knowledge can only be achieved through the understanding of human beings as total beings – of past, present and future in conflux around our minds. There is no escaping the inner depths, no enlightenment from it, no ultimate control of what occurs down there.

The subconscious root-mind has to claw at us for us to hear, and drag us into its dark domain where we cleave to light and life. Perhaps not everyone gets that call with the same potency. But what happens to human responsibility if knowing the very essence of ourselves is something outside of our control?

You may not be able to dive to the depths whenever you please, but you can have the gate ready to open when the blackness inside calls, to accept the dark passages of our wounded souls and venture into it shield raised and heart steeled when the time is right. There might even be allies near us who can help us in this difficult quest.

All the people who live for illusion, those live-for-nothings, have a chance to accept the truth that they are wounded, that there are no gods on this earth, and that we must take final responsibility for our souls before the end of our days. However destroyed our mental state, however unfair our circumstances and however unsupported we may be, we can strive to be true to ourselves. There are no excuses.

I have often written about the burden of the Sinbearer – one who is hurt by an authority and forced to be silent, to carry that weight. It is a burden which always crushes and destroys, and which serves no purpose.

Here is the truth of the matter – it is you, or him.

Will you speak the truth of his wretchedness, unbind yourself with your own will to freedom and daring, or will you self-destroy in primal acts of repressed rage and frustration, addiction and self-harm?

I know much of this has been rather black and white, good and evil – this is acknowledged. But I believe it is ultimately true, that evil is as real as anything else in the world around you. There is never a time where to be blind to oneself can lead to anything but destruction, and our dying world is proof of this. This is evil itself, the supreme ignorance and supreme indignity upon oneself.

Nature contains suffering and predatory behaviour – it is inevitable that we will suffer somewhat. It is also filled with beauty and a will to live and exert tremendous power on the gaian world which birthed us. In human beings we can largely control the darkness and be Whole together, our will to power can create incredible art and music, our souls can rise to become gentle stewards of our part of the world, creating edens of nature and technology.

This is if we want such a world – we certainly have the potential. And to want such a world, which we could begin to make tomorrow, we must first acknowledge the pain that is inside us all – to liberate ourselves from the rule of the tortured and the insane.

This cannot be done through the power of love and forgiveness alone, though it is a potent force. Thus we must struggle to the last of our strength to acknowledge our will to power, rise up and be seen, heard and understood. To not do so is to live in wretchedness, so what do you have to lose?

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There is no one else in the entire world…

There is no one else in the entire world. Only myself.

This is what happens when you go down into the tunnel (as some may call it).

Isolation. Purgatory.

You can test the statement rationally: ‘Is there anyone else in the world?’ quite simply by looking and listening. Go to the grocers and you will see people and hear them. They will be quite real, with textures, souls, bodies, and all of it.

But they will not interact with you. They will notice you.

Perhaps then, when I feel like there is no one else in the entire world, what I really mean is there is no me in the world, because there is no one who truly recognises and knows me at this point in time.

The disturbing thing is that there seems little way to consciously understand or plan for this. I have had days of great social and artistic triumph followed by a harsh night and then deep sadness and misery. Downward spirals are hard to predict, vicious cycles tricky to break out of.

Sometimes you just need help.

The speed at which we can become isolated and vulnerable…it is only balanced by the speed at which we can turn back, rise out of it, be able to sleep again.

The most unnatural thing we can be is alone, and yet so many of us are alone. I am alone even when not really alone!

It is not so much of a paradox when you think about it, and move one premise behind: ‘I am alone’ is positing an ‘I’ which does not really exist in the way the ego thinks it does. Taking a step back from our identities we can see them for the façade they are. And as said many times, the more these identities try to secure themselves against the chaos of the world, the more they isolate, and thus the more they need to fortify in an endless spiral of impossibility.

My entering a state of high anxiety, isolation and depression can mean one, two or both things from here. Firstly that there is an element of post traumatic stress, which will keep on coming back until it is somehow dealt with. Or secondly, and I think more likely, the work that needs to be done has not been done. I need to relinquish this ‘western ego’ I do not even really believe in, and then I can be freed from depression and anxiety. To let go of all the pain and even the wish for personal justice, for healing and tranquillity.

Lets not beat ourselves about it internet people! This is the culture we are born into and all we knew for a large part of our lives. There is no way to truly transcend these indoctrinations – I honestly believe we will be poisoned until the day nature takes it’s course and we find true release in death. All we can do is heal and heal and heal, as much as the pain hurts and hurts and hurts. If the good days outweigh the bad (and they tend to), then life is worth living as much as it can be done so.

Fight, flight, freeze

I have found recently that my response to danger tends toward a freeze response.

In situations with male aggressors my system starts to wobble and my ability to act diminishes. The heart pounds furiously and thoughts race, feelings of helplessness wash over me.

Even if I am in the right, my instinctual reaction is eventual to take the side of the aggressor / abuser, placate and tiptoe around them to avoid further conflict. To rationalize what happened somehow, to either make it my own fault or accuse myself of exaggeration. It takes a conscious effort to remind myself that he is in the wrong and I right.

I wonder where those survival strategies were developed…

Development –

As a child you know only those around you. You have no freedom to go anywhere on your own. Nor do you have much choice over who you come into contact with. The world immediately around you is the whole world. As a result, there is no way to compare and contrast. You take what happens to you as normal, and it becomes a default.

In those days, the god-guardians create the boundaries and expectations. There is no defeating them at that age – they are gods. Even growing to maturity, those feelings of fear and blasphemy are strong. Thoughts of ‘these people are my world, learn to placate them’ are still strong. Being able to navigate the world outside, which has ‘abusive and dangerous’ projected out from me on top of its existing abusiveness and dangerousness, is hard. It is a conscious effort to get there and not regress, a constant struggle against a sorrowful default.

These learned feelings of helplessness, of placation, conflict avoidance, not trusting my own voice, are deep inside. They are the soil of depression and endless misery. They conflict with other feelings of the need to right wrongs, to confront and seek justice. A real striving for happiness and wellbeing. There is a lion behind the trembling kitten, an utterly fearless warrior ready to fight it out, who knows that it is better to risk dying on your feet than living on your knees.

How draining this all is. The world of patriarchal relations, the inheritance of a male-dominated civilization. It is utterly shite. If only people dared to know better.

Fight, fight and fight –

Fight, flight, freeze. I still freeze before patriarchal gods I do not believe in. You don’t have to believe in them for them to have power. Flight from them means a constant retreat, leading to deflation of the spirit and surrender to the powers oppressing us. Flight leads into self-wrought cages of depression. A short retreat can be wise, but flight wants to get out from danger and never go back. There is a major difference.

Only fight is the valid instinctual response.

Against this, there is first a great barrier, a castle forged of psychic stones, and an ideology of obedience to the power without and distrust of the power within. My own rage and wrath frightens me, for just or no, it can lead to a prison in patriarchy.

One day there will be a fight, a great one which leaves many more deep wounds. There has to be sooner or later, as the years of bad mental health leave less and less to lose.

But I was made to believe in my own weakness, uselessness, fragility, dependence. None of these things indicate humility or virtue. They are all misperceptions, poisons of the soul.

Me, whose tales are filled with daring warriors and truth-seekers, trembling here. It won’t be forever, but it is now.

 

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)