Category Archives: Acceptance

Why I Live an Un-regulated Life

In truth, if you came here to find out how not  to live a regulated life, by which I mean one not bound by routines and self-made Rules with a capital R, I may disappoint in what follows.  Why? Because while I trust that my life, lacking as it is in almost all  “regulated structure”, has a “mind of its own” and in that sense as much purpose as any other, I confess that this free-spirit eschewing of everything and anything routine is less by choice than by temperament.

Not that I have not tried, mightily, to instill in myself the values of routine, attempting to establish even one single habit that might tame a few of these impulses to spontaneity that don’t in fact help me.  Okay, phoebe, be specific, name one! Well, in point of fact, i do not eat, sleep or even brush my teeth on any routine or scheduled or regulated basis….This is not troubling to me in terms of the first two: i live alone and have no intimate relationship, so when and where I sleep or eat is really nobody else’s concern. But my mouth is full of dental work that cost a mint, so the fact that I do not brush my teeth…period, let alone on a regular or scheduled basis could be seen as a problem. If it were not for frequent dental visits and a family who at least saw to it that my teeth were taken care of, I might be lacking them altogether.

But if my title above enticed you, you did not come here to read about my lack of dental hygiene or the drawbacks to living as I do, free of routines. One might see me as either free-spirited or run-amock, depending on how you perceive my life-style of spontaneously going with the flow and hoping for or anticipating the best outcome. As I said, this is not entirely by choice, as I seem to thrive (mostly) on doing things on a “what do I feel like doing now?” basis, rather than according to any schedule. Temperament? Most likely…though I can say that I was not always this way, or so comfortable with being and living the spontaneous life. As a child I was known as the Neatnik, the one whose room was meticulous all the time, and who knew where everything was placed or kept, down to the toothpicks in my antiqued-in-6th-grade-secretary-desk, lower left hand drawer, upper right quadrant, in a handmade box, next to the pen nibs in another box…(you see what I mean?)

if i used to be neat to an extreme and thrived on order, what the heck happened? I shake my head, wondering about the transformation myself…it may be that I was wrongly “typed” as the stoic, neatnik child, when my true nature was much more free wheeling. I know my parents had to pigeonhole each of us, their children, in order to “make sense of us” but did so on the basis of what they wanted to see not on what was there by nature. But maybe, too, there was a change as I grew up, either temperamentally  or as a kind of rebellion, and assertion of who I really am.

Most or many people I know could not live as I do, and would neither want to or find it comfortable. I cannot seem to live any other way. But I will also say that if you are comfortable with routines and schedules, go for it. Find out who you really are and not who your parents decided you were, way back when. You can’t do more than survive, which is to say, you can only THRIVE when you know and are true to yourself and to what your needs and feelings are.

Sometime I will write about Nonviolent Communication and how it changed my life. Talk about not being spontaneous! This is a system and a tool for resolving interpersonal conflicts as well as developing a better self-rapport, and while you can learn to use it spontaneously , at first it feels rigid and constricting and even artificial. (But so what? I mean, baking bread is artificial, and so is using any electricity or a boat to ferry you across a river…what isn’t?).  But those skilled in NVC are also some of the most accepting, tolerant and loving people I have ever met…so even if I do it on more or less spontaneous basis, i aim for such a state of being.

Trauma, And the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Psychiatric Take Down and Restraint

I wrote a version of this in a comment at Linda Lee/lady quixote’s Blog: http://ablogabouthealingfromPTSD.wordpress.com

Hi Linda,

Someone I met here in Brattleboro, really just an acquaintance, maybe 2 or 3years ago said, “get over it!” about the trauma I have experienced, and I found that enormously damaging just in itself. My “guide” Wendy, never tells me such things and she is fully committed to helping people who deal with great traumas. Another thing is that true is that global amnesia, such as I had and still have for a couple of weeks-long hospital stays in their entirety, (and I also have amnesia for other life experiences that were documented as having happened but are lost to my memory,)  this sort of global amnesia cannot be self-induced. You either can remember what happened or you cannot.

What I have found very helpful, and this may not be something you can or even choose to do, is this: I find that when my thoughts erupt or are triggered by something in the present, into a spasm of terrible memories, the resulting emotions and anger etc are so paralyzing and painful that I did consciously decide “I’m not going there, not until and unless it is safe for me to do so.” To that end, when I notice my thoughts turning bad, I immediately find anything to distract myself away from that terrible rut that trauma has clear-cut into my cortex. 

I know the emotions stem from the thoughts I think, and they constitute the story about them I tell myself. So if I try to tell a different story, like, for instance, “okay, that was my life then, but I am here now and if I  am happy now then all of my past including the trauma, has brought me here and I would not be here without it all, yes,  even the trauma.” BUT I fully confess that re-telling my story in a more positive way does not work when I am acutely triggered, so that is when distraction plays a huge role. 

In some sense, I understand that I cannot remain attached to my story of abuse and victimization, because in a  real way this will only lead me down that same trauma path, and even “attract further victimization and trauma”..But to explore these things requires a feeling of safety, which is not usually available, so I get relief from the thinking instead, by distractions and doing things with my mind that I love. Like studying or reading French, or listening to songs, because the verbal aspect of both tend to crowd out the insistent trauma memories. 

As Wendy says, it is a practice, like any spiritual practice, to know when your thoughts are headed down an unhelpful path way and to consciously decide not to “indulge” their wish to ruin your day! It does take a lot of practice to do this, and I would be the last to say it is easy. On the other hand, I know there is a safe place for them, for me to experience the memories and even triggers in security, and that is during my sessions with Wendy. She allows these to be as long as necessary for me to get through things, so they are usually 2-2.5 hours every time. But the thing is, knowing I can hold on and let things “in” in a safe place with her allows me to also decide NOT to let them in or to control me at other  times.

I hope this makes sense. It might not be your cuppa tea, and I dunno if you have a safe place/person with whom you could both process memories or at least let them out, but who also, by being a safe person, might allow you to go the distraction route. I myself have found it very helpful…and you know (I know you above all know!) how terribly I have been tormented by my memories of trauma.

The idea that even trauma memories are part of the story of our lives that we write or create and can de-create also helps me. Because I can decide, of, say, someone who brutalized me, well, in their story I was only a bit character, and they likely told and tell themselves something entirely different from my story about it. But I understand that these are all stories, all dramas, that are not really Truth…and if we can retell the story In such a way as to increase ours and the worlds happiness, that should be our aim. 

More to come about blame and being victimized but I have stuff to do and need to distract myself from the pain that even writing about trauma brings on. 

Love to all,

phoebe

Why We Should Not Take Things Personally

Miguel Ruiz in his THE FOUR AGREEMENTS has a lot to say about not taking things personally (TTP) and I have found his explanation immensely helpful. (Btw, This was originally a comment I wrote today on a column about not taking things personally at Psych Central.)

The first thing is to realize and understand that each person, while we are all part of a greater humanity, sees the world from his or her own perspective, the point of view that is utterly individual and conditioned by everything that has happened to that person. We see ourselves in one way, as the Center of our own world and point of view (how could it be otherwise?) but the fact is that others see us differently, because to them we are just a player on the stage of their own drama. When for example I might say to someone, “I love you” and mean it, that person, because of their history and life narrative, could hear it with many other feelings attached, and not hear my simple words as warm and sincere! Say that person had experienced the words “I love you” as a way for a someone to “manipulate them” or even to con them into doing what they did not want? Perhaps then the person I said “I love you” to will experience my words as dishonest, or a preface to a con, or just as manipulative. That does not mean ANYthing about my intent or my words themselves; it just says that for the other person, such words to them are unwanted because he or she had a life history where they were spoken dishonestly or manipulatively. That person’s view point is different from mine, as is everyone else’s and i cannot control either what or how they feel, or their reaction or perception of me and the world.

As a bit player on everyone else’s stage, where they are of course their own “star,” the “I” that I know, that is to say me as that player in their stage, is seen from their point of view and colored or discolored by their personal drama. Of course it is necessary to remember that everyone or mostly everyone is also taking what I say personally, but from a point of view I can neither control nor truly understand, because I am not that person! If they hear my “I love you” as a threat, does it help me or the situation to take their response personally? Of course not. I know I meant the words honestly but I also know that whatever they “heard” is not under my control.

More important though is the necessity (if we want to live happily and in peace in this world) not to take others’ words or behaviors personally even when they are “intended to be personal” ! This is not easy, because as the captain of our own ships, the star of the universe of our own perceptions, we hear and see all from the viewpoint of our dramas too. However, even such an “intentionally hurtful” remark, such as, “You are so stupid!”does not need to be taken as insulting or personal in any way. In fact, I would ask how it helps the situation if we do!

If instead of reacting from the POV that hears an insult, we take that NVC pause that marshall Rosenberg talks about, we could analyse the statement about being stupid and realize that even the intent to be hurtful is neither hurtful nor “personal”. The words, “you are so stupid” have in fact nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the other person’s history, drama, and point of view. What they perceive of me comes from this and I cannot control them or their feelings. Maybe yes, they are just having a bad day, or maybe their words come from a reaction to something they heard or perceived in the past. Or maybe what I did, from their point of view, felt to them somehow “stupid.” I cannot know. I can only know that it will never help me live a happier or more fulfilling life if I get insulted and yell back because I believe they “should” not have said those words. If on the other hand I use NVC to understand that the “you are so stupid” has NOTHING at all to do with reality, but was derived from their POV alone, I can ask myself (and even them) about it without feeling rancor or insulted…

The thing is to inquire whether TTP contributes to life’s value and happiness, which I am convinced it does not.

I am sure I have not done justice here to either Ruiz’ THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, or to Rosenberg’s NVC, but I try to live life without TTP, without taking things personally, because doing so has made me happier, easier to be with, and more productive and creative. What better argument for this than that not taking anything personally makes life, as Rosenberg liked to say, “more wonderful “?

My best to you all,

phoebe

We Are All Beings Of Radiant Light

997B86F1-2487-4CAA-83DE-B2816CF87FD6Why the name, Phoebe? asked Inkbiotic in a comment on my last post. Thank you for this question; it meant a lot to me. The name Phoebe is the feminine form of Phoebus, which is Greek in origin and means, “bright, shining, radiant.”

I have not always understood why I needed the name Phoebe, not in fifth grade. But it has always felt “given” to me, and in that sense my True Name. To explain, I offer the last lines of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, which ends, in translation, “from here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.” These lines have always called to me. They meant that I, my “me-ness,” needed to die to the artificial self and become what it is, a being of love and light, I needed to change the “false self” full of memories, of deep woundings and petty gripes, of anger and dreams of revenge to a self of pure light and boundless forgiveness and love. In a similar way, just so my name change, from Pamela, which is Greek too, meaning “ All Sweet”, but is also a synonym for cloying, to a name that means “radiant light,” because it is only in the light of love that we humans can be seen for who we really are, children of God, the Source, the Force for Good in every human heart.

I no longer accept the world (or my past) of hurt and anger and the urge to revenge. It is gone, over and done with, a figment of my imagination, which is the only place it can live. Falter though I may, my body being only flesh and human, with this name change I hereby offer myself to Change itself, that is to the Infinite, which can be called space or The Void, but which I saw in a vision of beauty is nothing but Creative Love itself.

Remember that we are ALL of us beings of light and life, we are all God, and we all partake of and participate in That Which Creates, the Space or Void that loves everything into being. My name change is only to remind me of the Source from which I came, as did we all, and to which we all return.

5FDAEFBA-93EC-40E8-8782-7A715B7ED00A

(Photos in public domain)

NO ONE LISTENS…

No One Listens
NO ONE LISTENS

I

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been able to speak now for at least a month, but before that there were four months of what I can only call subconsciously self-imposed silence. Not “selective mutism” because I did not speak at all. There does not seem to be any term for this intermittent affliction, when I cannot speak for long periods of time, but as my poem says, “Nothing locks my lips or seals my tongue” — a paraphrase I fear because I do not recall the exact words.

 

I would write more, but I have no time this morning. I post this small, 3.5″ by 2.5″ drawing because of Sue B’s comment on my most recent post…as it most eloquently I think answers her question. Whatever the reason for my muteness, I do not consciously choose to go silent. It simply happens, with a bang, so to speak.

This muteness can lift, I have found, with music, with singing, and people encouraging me to sing…and then to sing-talk my words, until finally I “forget” and simply end up speaking.

Here is the poem I wrote that expresses some of htis, It can be found in my newest book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, available on Amazon and through any bookstore.

PHILOMELA

I haven’t spoken out loud for many weeks,

bullied by “voices” to a frightened into myself silence.

 

Still, what does “speechless” mean

in these days of text-to-speech software,

with its choice of Vikki or Samantha or Victoria voices,

 

especially when I’m possessed of a blog and writing fluency

enough to speak my mind to my heart’s content?

 

Even so, being mute is not a manner of speaking.

 

Yet I tell you I cantalk. Nothing physical impedes

my tongue, or locks my lips

 

except my brain’s hallucinated snarls,

Jerry Mahoney and Charlie McCarthy thrown

into surrounding shadows

 

ordering up this stoppage, blockage, blockade.

 

Now, like Stevens’ fire-fangled bird at the end of the mind

feathered unlucky, tarred, locked in golden cage

 

my voice remains only a memento

 

of everything

I wanted to say, but could not get out,

I couldn’t get it out, I could not get it out…

 

 

*In the Greek myth, Philomela is raped and has her tongue cut out by Tereus, the husband of her sister Procne. Rendered mute, Philomela weaves a tapestry detailing the crime to inform her sister, who, enraged, takes revenge on Tereus. At the end of the story, both Procne and Philomela are transformed into birds.   In some versions of this story, Philomela turns into a female nightingale, while in others she becomes a swallow. However, neither of these birds can sing.

 

*Jerry Mahoney and Charlie McCarthy are two famous American ventriloquists’ dummies

 

 

Don’t worry, be happy!

Recently a friend wrote to me that she was exhausted with worry about whether the future would work out as she wanted it to. She has many concerns and young sons to generate a lot of worries, so i sympathize completely. Nevertheless, this is what i wrote to her and more…

Remember that there are plenty of futures out there and we have absolutely no way of knowing which one will come to us as the present, not until it is the present. So you can spend your time worrying in the present about a future you cannot change by worrying about it (can you?) or you can choose to ENJOY THE FUTURE now by assuming that it will all work out beautifully. That means of course, that freed from worrying about a disastrous outcome, you will enjoy the present, too. Yes, it is possible that what comes will bring disaster, but that pain will be of its time and place alone. You won’t have spent all the weeks and months leading up to it also in pain, dreading what your worry could not possibly change. If disaster does happen, but you spent all that time anticipating the best possible outcome, then guess what? You enjoyed your life, and if disaster happens you can say, well, so this is disaster, but i did not waste my life in fear, worrying myself sick anticipating it. No, no, i enjoyed every minute of a different future that may not have happened, but i lived life to the fullest. Now, life changed but i don’t regret a thing!

I believe that people who can enjoy the best future imaginable also build resilience to the worst future that becomes present in their lives, and in a feedback loop they end up never facing the worst outcome, because in the simple process of facing it, and facing it down, they have already begun to overcome it. But they could not do this without learning the skills of enjoying the best possible future now, instead of worrying. This is how they have become resilient and their resilience feeds back and makes them even stronger when like everyone else, challenges do come their way.

You can do it. You can stop worrying today. You can stop that flow of tormenting thoughts that say xyz is going to happen to ruin everything. How? Not by stopping them but by replacing them with daydreams that are far easier and better. You know how some teachers used to scold the class daydreamer and tell him or her to come back to reality and Stop daydreaming?! Well, i am going to say the opposite: when you are worrying yourself sick, start day dreaming instead, start fantasizing about the dreamiest most glorious future you can give yourself, and then goddam it, give it to yourself! I mean this. Start believing that that future is real and think about you would act and be “if you really knew this” it would change you, wouldn’t it? Well…be that future, enjoy that future as if you know right here and now that it will be on your plate at such and such a time…i promise you, you will enjoy your present so much more than you ever did worrying! And who knows, instead of Not paying the mortgage on time (your worry) you just might end up buying a boat as well as owning your home free and clear (your fantasy)…but even if not, you have not lost anything but your misery. And that, my friend, is a very good thing to lose.

Love,

Pam

Injustice, and how to fight bigotry, one headscarf at a time

Here is the source for the article i have posted below: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/muslim-passenger-southwest-airlines-khairuldeen-makhzoom-arabic-phone-uncle-baghdad-cair-statement-a7347311.html?cmpid=facebook-post

Southwest Airlines kicks Muslim off a plane for saying ‘inshallah’, meaning ‘God willing’ in Arabic

A Muslim man was told to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after another passenger overheard him speaking Arabic on his mobile phone.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old Berkeley graduate, was removed from the plane at Los Angeles International Airport in April this year.

Once seated, he had made a brief call to his uncle in Baghdad, telling him how excited he was to ask a question to the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, during a dinner the previous day.

Before hanging up, he said the Islamic phrase in Arabic of “inshallah”, meaning “God willing”.

He noticed a woman staring at him as he hung up the phone. He thought at first she had been irritated by how loud he was speaking.

“One guy came with police officers within two minutes — I can’t believe how fast they were — and told me to get off the plane,” he told CNN.

An agent escorted him outside and asked him why he was speaking in Arabic considering “today’s political climate”.

“You need to be very honest with us with what you said about the martyrs. Tell us everything you know about the martyrs,” the agent said to him.

The political science graduate explained he had only said “God willing”, and the questioning soon ended – but not before dogs were brought in to sniff his luggage, he was searched and his wallet was taken away.

“The US is the land of freedom. People respect the rule of law. How could people be humiliated like this? That was the real shock,” he told The Independent.

“I lived under Saddam Hussein. I know what discrimination feels like,” he added.

Mr Makhzoomi came to the US in 2010 as a legal refugee with his older sister.

He was not allowed to reboard the Oakland-bound plane, and was given a full refund. He booked another flight with Delta.

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King said in a statement that staff had decided to investigate “potentially threatening comments” made by the passenger.

“Since that time, we have researched the event internally and also reached out to the customer.

“The internal review determined that it was the content of the conversation, not the language used, that prompted the report leading to the investigation. Our crew responded by following protocol, as required by federal law, to investigate any potential threat. We regret any less than positive experience a customer has on Southwest. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”

The student said he was left feeling “shaken” and could not sleep for days afterwards. He has called on the airline to apologise since they have failed to do so since 6 April.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has filed a complaint with the US Department of Transportation Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings against Southwest Airlines for “racial and religious profiling of a Muslim passenger”.

“We don’t want this to become ‘normal’,” said Saba Maher, civil rights coordinator of the local CAIR chapter.

“We are looking for a federal investigation and for the Department of Transportation to hold Southwest Airlines accountable.”

Mr Makhzoomi said he is applying for his masters and is grateful that the US has provided him with “the best education, and so many opportunities”.

“This our home. We don’t have another home. The experience [in April] was just unpleasant,” he said.

More about: CAIRBerkeleyCaliforniaAnti-MuslimSouthwest Airlines

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Now, in this same light, due to recent incidents directed against Muslim women, acts of violence or vitriolic speech just because they happened to wear a hijab, or the religious headscarf that marked them as Muslim, i have started a Facebook group and page of similar name called WEAR A HEADSCARF ON JANUARY 20th…IN SOLIDARITY  WITH OUR MUSLIM SISTERS.

Please do not accuse me of supporting ” a religion that oppresses women” by these acts. I do not know that true Islam oppresses women any more than christianity has the face of the likes of soon to be Vice president Pence . I would venture however that his brand of Christianity is just as women-oppressive as any radical Islamic woman-hating sect. The thing is, this is not about someone’s beliefs about women. This is about the freedom of any person, whoever they are,  to believe what they want to and dress accordingly, and to not be attacked either physically or verbally because of their beliefs.

i know what it is like to be abused because of things i said and believed that others felt were “unacceptable” to them…and they had more power than i did, the power to physically  hurt me and force me to comply with their norms. But now that i am a freed citizen i will never let someone else suffer as i did without standing up for their rights to wear what they want to and believe whatever they want to, so long as it does not hurt others. And you know, so far as i can tell, Absolutely nothing in Islam is innately more harmful to me or to anyone than christianity is at the present time.

 

So please join me and WEAR A HEADSCARF ON JANUARY 20th, stand up against bigotry and stand up in solidarity against the forces of Hatred in Trump’s government and cabinet. Dont let hate trump the forces of love and generosity. Stand up and wear a headscarf for all the kindness and generosity and compassion that we have always stood for. Stand up and be counted!

Just for starters, here is a photo of me, “brazenly covered” by my January 20th inauguaration headscarf:

Wear a Headscarf on January 20th in solidarity with our Muslim Sisters
Wear a Headscarf on January 20th in solidarity with our Muslim Sisters

Toltec Wisdom (and a Little of My Own!)

Despair on Park Bench
Despair on Park Bench

Sometimes you never know who it is that has a disabling mental “illness,” not even when they are right in front of you. Not every person who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, for instance, looks like it or pushes a shopping cart laden with household “extranea” down the street, homeless, filthy, and laughing wildly to themselves…Not that this is so terrible either, frankly. We should all not be so quick to judge. And no, we should not judge even this notion of the homeless-shopping-cart-person as “bad” or “wrong” — not until we know the person and understand what he or she wants from life and his or her history. I am not saying that anyone should freeze to death from exposure, or suffer from hunger or from any unwanted basic deprivation, only that no one understands the life conditions of another until you talk with them and come to know that person…

Too many people make assumptions that are wrong and/or erroneous based only on what they want and are comfortable with, not on what the other person needs and wants. Believe me, I know, having been there way more often than I wish and experienced it from that “other side.” Far too many times have people claimed to be “helping me” and have only hurt me! It is not that I think they were badly intentioned, so much as that they were only thinking about how they felt or would feel. They were not being truly empathic, not giving an inch or a nanosecond to trying to think about how I, personally, did feel nor for that matter asking me what I might want or need at that moment.

I want to remind people to remember that “ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and Me..” so instead of assuming anything about another person, especially someone who has an apparent mental “illness” or someone who at any rate seems somehow “different” from the people who are familiar to you, ask them questions…Find out what they want and what makes them comfortable!

As Toltec spiritual advisor Don Miguel Ruiz tells us in THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, which is the best book of its sort I have ever read, you can and should ask any question you want to, so long as you are honestly prepared to accept the answer.

By the way, the Second Agreement, in his book, an Agreement I find so fundamentally important, is Do Not Take Anything Personally. By taking things personally — that way danger and disappointment and all distress lies. Truly this is so. People are all in their own little bubbles, taking their own lives personally and frankly, think about that! We are only on the periphery of everyone else’s thinking and living, and in a very real way they cannot ever know us as we know ourselves, they can only know us through the lens of their own lives, their own bubbles. This revelation can be freeing if you let it…

That is why we should not take anything personally — because other people are too busy doing the same thing and not seeing us as we are, but only as adjuncts to their lives and thinking. If we truly knew and accepted this, we would be free from a great deal of angst and upset. But of course this is a very difficult thing to do…to free ourselves of the notion that we are as important in others lives as we are in our own. No, they are the important actors on their own stage, we are not. We really need to get over thinking that we are prima donnas in everyone’s drama as well as our own…Is not our own life enough? I should think so. Who would want to star in more than one drama at a time?

You Can’t Really Change Your LIfe, After All, Can You?

You Spew Poison into the World
You Spew Poison into the World

 

Of course you can’t change your life. Your “giants go with you wherever you go,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many many years ago, and it is still sadly true.

 

I left Connecticut, thinking I could escape, at least the hospital torture, but I cannot escape the voices that hate me and the demons that I carry with me, the fact that I burden the world, poison it when I exist in it, and that wherever I go I leave a slime of pollution and hatred..I cannot help that. It is a genetic flaw, no matter what good I try to do, the generosity I practice, the kindnesses I have done and preached, it all goes for naught in the end, when the poison leaches from my marrow and through my skin and permeates the world. People feel it then and run away, screaming…

 

I know this and feel it. and I cannot take it any longer. I have had it. Lord knows I have tried and tried to obviate it, to deny it, to remove the stain or fix it, but it has never worked. I am done. I can’t do it any more. It is over. I cannot deal with the voices and the evil that I am and cause any longer. It is so clear to me that others want this end from me too, because although they talk a good game about help and programs to assist me, they actually refuse to make them available to me, and deliberately– DELIBERATELY —  turn a deaf ear when I overtly say, I NEED HELP NOW…How much more obvious and clear spoken can I be?

I will NOT beg for my life or my skin. No. I do not deserve that. And if not one wants me alive or intact, then there is a reason for it…and I know what it is, as I have stated. So if I get the message that “this is it” today, at my appointment again, that We HAVE NOTHING FOR YOU, that YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, that “we do not really care what happens”. then it is OVER…I cannot care for myself, the devil, and I know what must be done…

I have done all I can, I really have. Do not try to tell me I haven’t tried for 62 years as bravely and carried on ALONE as I could possibly do it and be. But I cannot do it any longer, I am sorry, But this is it. Either PROVE to me that YOU CARE THAT I EXIST AND DO NOT WANT ME TO DO…whatever.

 

No , in fact YOU cannot do anything, any of you out there. Frankly. This is strictly between me and the folks here tasked with making sure I am safe and it is clear that I have poisoned all of them already, I have used up my quota of caring and assistance and that is that. It’s gone. It’s over. I’m gone. GET LOST. YOU BAD RUBBISH. We have had it with you. You are worthless shit.

 

Goodbye.  I don’t know what will happen to me. But I can’t do this any longer.

TooGoose Lautrec, the Papier Mache Goose and How I will Miss Vermont, the state of my Dreams…

Pam with unfinished paper mache goose, TooGoose Lautrec....
Pam with unfinished paper mache goose, TooGoose Lautrec….    

 

Across the driveway llive some great people...
Across the driveway live some great people…

 

Kitchen and work area in cottage
Kitchen and work area in cottage

 

More of Work area and art area
More of Work area and art area
Stephanie is "gods gardener" or so I call her!
Stephanie is “gods gardener” or so I call her!
Steffie at the state park
Steffie at the state park

 

As my time here comes to an end, I will miss it and my neighbors terribly., I don’t know what I will do without them, and Lydia my wonderful companion. Returning to Connecticut with its horrible hospitals and indifferent treatment just feels like a disaster waiting to happen. I want to move to Vermont but I don’t know how I can make that happen. I have felt amongst friends everywhere here, but isolated completely for years in CT, despite my lovely dear friends there, I wish I could bring them all up to VT with me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem about Forgiveness,Translated into Chinese

TO FORGIVE IS

To begin  要寬恕的實是太多

and there is so much to forgive:  頭一樁要算

for one, your parents, one and two,  你父母那麼偶然的一或二次

out of whose dim haphazard coupling  於幽暗中的契合

you sprang forth roaring, indignantly alive. 你呱呱來臨,憤然降世

For this, whatever else followed, 為此, 為這帶來的一切

innocent and guilty, forgive them.  無意也好作孽也罷,寬恕他們.

If it is day, forgive the sun  若是白天,寬恕太陽

its white radiance blinding the eye;  原宥它的奪目光芒

forgive also the moon for dragging the tides,  亦要寬恕月亮帶來的潮汐

for her secrets, her half heart of darkness;原宥它的弔詭.它的暗晦

whatever the season, forgive it its various  管他冬夏秋春.寬恕季節的多端侵擊

assaults—floods, gales, storms  水患,疾風,暴風雪

of ice—and forgive its changing;  原宥它的更替變易

for its vanishing act, stealing what you love  它的掠奪行徑

and what you hate, indifferent,  把你所愛所恨無情的奪去

forgive time; and likewise forgive its fickle  寬恕時間

consort, memory, which fades  同樣地原宥它的變易不忠,連記憶也不放過

the photographs of all you can’t remember;  以至你把擁有的拍照忘得一乾二淨

forgive forgetting, which is chaste  寬恕失憶

and kinder than you know;  它實是忠貞和比你所認知的仁厚得多

forgive your age and the age you were  寬怒年齡

when happiness was afire in your blood  原宥當年的你,那時幸福在血液沸騰

and joy sang hymns in the trees;  喜樂在樹 叢間高唱聖歌

forgive, too, those trees, which have died;  寬恕那些逝去的樹木

and forgive death for taking them,  原宥奪走它們的死亡

inexorable as God, then forgive God  若感上主不仁,則寬恕上主

His terrible grandeur, His unspeakable原宥祂畏人的堂皇和禁說的名字

Name; forgive, too, the poor devil  亦勿忘寬恕那倒霉的撒旦

for a celestial fall no worse than your own.  他那屬天的失足並不比你的過犯糟糕

When you have forgiven whatever is of earth,  當你把地上天上水裡

of sky, of water, whatever is named,  有名的無名的

whatever remains nameless,  通通寬恕了

forgive, finally, your own sorry self,  最後切記寬恕

clothed in temporary flesh  那包裝在短暫肉體內

the breath and blood of you  血氣正在消亡的

already dying.  悔疚的你

Dying, forgiven, now you begin.  垂死,被寬恕的你,現在要重新開始.

 

 

By Pamela Spiro Wagner, “Divided Minds” 胡思亂想

Chinese Recreation/Translation by Kenneth Leung Sep 3rd 2012, Labour Day Scarborough,  Ontario

 

—————————————–

I received the email below very recently, explaining the poem above. The only thing missing is the translation of the title, which segues on purpose directly into the first line, and so it too is essential. I hope that Jackie’s father might one day provide that title line. Nevertheless, I am thrilled that anyone likes the poem enough to translate it. Thank you so very much, Kenneth Leung. And thank you Jackie, for sharing it with me and allowing me to share it here.

“Hi Pamela,

“I recently picked up your book “Divided Minds” and I couldn’t put it down.  Thank you for sharing your story with the world.  I’m an Occupational Therapist working in community mental health on an ACT team, so I interact regularly with people with schizophrenia.  Your story allowed me to see how difficult it is to first accept a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and then the difficulties of adhering to treatment.  I especially love your poem on forgiveness and shared it with my dad, who translated it into Chinese.  I thought you might be interested in posting it on your blog so Chinese readers can enjoy it.

“Blessings,

“Jackie Leung”

Different kind of artwork for me: Car Picture for Tim

Okay, this is for the boys!

1956 Mercedes Benz 300c 4-door sedan: What can I say, except Tim owns one and it is truly a cool car, if you care about cars! Anyhow it is my very first car drawing, so I am rawther proud of it.

_____________________________________________________

Some sad news that I only feel able to share now, is that  I had to put my beloved cat of 17 years to sleep on Friday last…and it was truly awful. I didn’t understand that it would be so fast. The vet injected something in Eemie’s vein, and she lifted her head as if in curiosity — then put it down — I asked how long it would take, and the vet said softly, “She’s gone…” I burst into tears, having had no understanding that in fact she wasn’t curious, she had been taking her long last breath. Oh god, I miss her so. I keep wondering where she is when I get up in the morning, and when I get home from wherever I have gone out to, I feel that someone is missing, that I need to feed her, and find her… and then I realize I don’t have a companion any longer, that Eemie is no longer…I am tearful even as I write this, and I wish I could post the video that a friend made of us a week or two before she became seriously disabled. She was ill, yes, but you couldn’t really tell on the video since we just cuddle. I am so glad that the friend had the foresight to encourage it. Because now I have that to remember Eemie by. I know it wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. But like any doting grieving mother, I would post it because I still feel the grief and feel somehow that everyone else would want to see it too. (Which of course would be silly but the grieving do silly things. I know that.)

To lose Eemie on top of my father, Leo, and Joe too just exactly one year ago April 27th feels like really too many losses piled on top of one another. But one gets through or breaks and I cannot let that happen. I do believe that I am strong enough in general to get through it, and while I did take Haldol for a few days it had more to do with the Middlesex stress (yes, a little to do with Eemie I admit) than anything else…Okay, it did have to do with Eemie, but I think without Middlesex coming up I might have weathered Eemie better.

But I got through it and I stopped taking Haldol on Monday, haven’t needed it since then, or have slogged through without it. Did the car picture since then, so things could not have been too too bad. Artwork is always good therapy anyway. Better than drugs if I can get myself out of bed and organized enough to do it.

By the way, my art show is up and on exhibit at the WETHERSFIELD LIBRARY right now. I have work on three walls, plus the display case, for those of you who live near enough to Wethersfield or Hartford to stop by and see it. If not, you can always check out Photobucket and see what is there, though you lose a great deal by not seeing things “in person” of course. It cannot be helped, naturally!

Enough for now. I hope last night’s post was not too negative, not too mean-spirited and revengeful. I was very angry, and very upset. The very idea that the director of the Middlesex Hospital psychiatric unit said anything at all, rather than simply remaining silence just incensed me. I think that was a grave mistake, and he likely regretted it afterwards. I suspect that the CEO probably told him that it was not something he should have indulged in…But what he said is said, and it only retraumatized me if anything. The notion that he, who wasn’t even there during the episode, and ought to have been appalled, simply took the side of my torturers was to me itself disgusting and appalling. But he will get his comeuppance, one can only hope, and I won’t have to do anything about it, since presumably the Joint Commission and the DOJ will do it all.

Enough of that. I am really tired and need to eat something. Ta ta for now.

Hospital Artwork

Me as the Ogre that Ate Manhattan

I did the last two of these at Natchaug Hospital this past winter, both of which may be obvious. The first, Under Attack from All Sides, was meant to express how I felt at the time, with the fingers pointing at me literally showing what the voices do, and the red high heel with a hand, strong, hefting that lethal looking spike — well those both belong to a certain someone I cannot name who wants me deader than dead and will do anything in her power to achieve it.

The second of the hospital pieces (I did others, but alas I gave them away and so never did have a photo of them to share…) is the last one posted here, the Ogre that Ate Manhattan, which is written partly in Spanish and partly in acronym. The message is KILL the Orgre that Ate Manhattan, but I figure you don’t need to understand that to enjoy the artwork…Not quite finished yet, but there is not a huge amount left to go…

Finally at the top is In her Hands, which is not done, though it may look it. This is a partly 3-D high relief piece, and partly a flat piece of acrylic painting. In truth a lot of it is optical illusion but not as a joke. The detail shows how her hands are painted onto the globe, not actually three dimentional at all; they just look 3-D because of how I painted them. I need to write more about more “important” things in my life, but for now this will have to do. (Addendum: I realized, days later, that I must have written the text of this very late at night, and possibly after I’d taken my Xyrem, the narcolepsy night time med. Why? Because a great deal of it was so badly spelled and some of it made no or little sense at all. I mostly do that sort of thing, dream talk, if you will, when I make the mistake of trying to write after I have taken my medication and get busy and forget that I am not “with it” entirely…so I am not aware when sense devolves into gibberish! Forgive me, anyway, if I seemed somehow sloppy if not wholly out of it!)

Pam W

Poem about My Father and Me

TYRANNOSAURUS REX

by Pamela Spiro Wagner

Tyrant, they called you, emperor, bully,

the first time I was in the psychiatric wing.

You finger-painted, yes, getting down on your knees

to smear pigment with stiff abandon

but afterward, in the hall, when I froze, contorting,

you let the whole world of the ward know

your scorn, imitating me, calling me “crazy.”

I seemed finally better. I came home.

But when I failed you, leaving med school,

an embarrassment and a humiliation

who couldn’t even keep work as a clerk or waitress,

you claimed suddenly “three children” not four.

Between us interposed silence for thirty years

as I learned to live on $3 a day, to write my life

into poems when I had words to share.

Years passed in “the bin” and out “on the farm,”

as I called the hospital and those programs by day

that structured my life. But hospitals shape-shift

after a dozen or more and there are decades

of my life that are lost even to memory,

each melding into another like shadows

on night-lit walls in carbon paper alleys.

One keyhole through which I see the past:

Shock treatment with its drowning anesthetic drops

and stunned awakenings. Then there you are,

standing in the seclusion room door

resuming conversation as if begun just yesterday

not thirty years before, no older, or at least

no grayer than “Daddy” again, shorter, yes,

but kinder. What could I do but respond?

I never dreamed that at eighty-three

you’d lose your fire, habanero, old Nero,

or that I, Rome, would ever stop burning.

———–

The above poem tells a long story in a few words, though necessarily only part of it. I have to leave it there for now, as I lack the energy to flesh the story out further. But in later days, after the memorial service and as the spirit moves me, I will try to write more. Thanks for your patience. As a good friend said, It — grief, tears, feeling alone or lost– comes in waves, but when it hits, it hits hard…

Photos from “Reflections on a Psychiatric Seclusion Room”

Reflection of Seclusion and Restraint : There is hope and freedom somewhere.

NOTE: this is a link to the finished collage, sans border of which I have no photo: https://wagblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/reflection-on-room-101-in-ward-d/

I now call this Reflections on Room 101 in The Ministry of Love, as a reference to Room 101 in the book “1984” by George Orwell. The place where recalcitrant prisoners faced torture with the things they feared most in the world.

 

I want to post today some photos from the progress I have made on my large collage of the restraint room (seclusion room) in a psychiatric unit. I must say that it gives me the shakes whenever I work on it, or at least whenever I look at it afterwards, and certainly when I photograph it. But I think that the fear and heart-racing palpitations are slightly diminished compared to this time a month ago. Possibly. That is what I am hoping for at any rate. The process of doing this is my attempt at “exposure therapy” I suppose, because I cannot live with what feels like PTSD any longer. (I know, I know, according to the New Rules, you cannot, by definition, have PTSD unless your life was mortally threatened; unless you experienced a tsunami or earthquake, mass murderer, or Hurricane Katrina, it does not count as “real trauma,” so say the doctors, and they should know, right? After all, they are the ones who defined the illness, and keep redefining it, and who made it up! Well, since they have the initials MD after their names, standing for Missed Diagnoses, I dunno if we can trust them on anything as important as deciding for us what it is that counts as traumatic. It seems to me that WE ought to be the ones telling THEM, no?) Be that as it may, let me change paragraphs and resume the discussion I left off so abruptly above.

Whatever the case, I do suffer with heart-racing fear and sweats and tremors that make it difficult even to take a clear photo of the collage after working on it but whether it is PTSD, I care not.  All I care about is 1) communicating the experience, or at least what the rooms look like, and 2) purging myself of the residual fear.

I don’t want to go on any further with that. It truly does cause me great anxiety. And I prefer to work on the collage and on forgiving the specific people who did those things to me. It is likely that they had grown to hate me, forgetting that I was a troubled and profoundly ill person because I was also loud and frustrating and violent…(treated with violence didn’t make me any more docile, I might add). So  things only escalated and escalated, when from the start their goal was to have a quiet unit that ran smoothly and had everyone get discharged in a matter of days, no questions asked. They did this by helping no one, by talking to no one, and by questioning no one. All they cared about was making sure that everyone stayed “safe” for as long as they were in their clutches. And that they would say so until they left. BUT I said I was working on forgiving them, and trying to see them as tired human beings, flawed but human. It does me no good to get all riled up again.

so I will leave it here, with the photos of the art. I will add only that I plan to redo the curtains, since as it is the blue competes with the sky. Also there will be a curtain rod, and such…But as you can see, it is still a work in progress!

You see the mirror now, and the bed with the restraints? The garden below the window?
No those are not “banjos” on the bed…Look closer. This is a psychiatric unit…
But so is everything it sees and reflects…
Behind the mirror, beyond the window, an open garden gate…