Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

where is there?

Given that there are actual geographic locations around here called things like “devil’s portal” and “devil’s parade ground”, and knowing as we do now that the Truth is pretty much always right in front of you? It begins to stand to reason that the place is so often so much like Hell itself.  Fire, flood, huge winds….all manner of obstacles and snares for both the wary and the unconscious.

Anyway.  People up here are sitting with bated breath, wondering about snow melt and more rain and what’s going to happen next. Are we going to drown? Just a few months ago we were sitting with metaphoric wet cloths over our noses wondering just how close the flaming fires were going to get.  Are we going to be burnt at the barn? I take  huge comfort when I drive past pastures dotted with sheep, goats, cows, horses, working dogs….all so calm, so dignified, so eternal and so….emblematic of a Bigger Reality.  When things like this  happen it is terrifying to think of them all, not to mention the wild life- the deer, big cats, foxes, bears, eagles and bluebirds.

I was quite struck this morning when I actually heard a county supervisor say that CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL and should be taken into account in water and other land management.  It didn’t go so far as to give me actual hope, Gentle Reader, but it did make me think that perhaps we are getting close to the end of the beginning.  Maybe? Attention will be paid to what IS instead of what the power hierarchy throws down and says is “real”.

In the midst of all this I finally understood just what has been happening in our own little household.  It struck me that, in fact, both the Partner and I have been struggling through simultaneous PTSD  which has not been a good thing at all, what with everything that’s gone on so far this splendid year.  PTSD is not a fun thing and it doesn’t ever really go away completely.  It is something you have to manage.  You cannot always “see” it coming, and it takes a long time to get to the point where you can at least recognize it before the hole you’re in goes all the way to the end of the earth.  Anyway.  It was some comfort to realize that in fact all the spiky times of late have been because we were both reacting to our individual, lurching forward, mental godzilla heads.  Another review of contributing issues ensued, and progress has been made.  So the good news is, it can be done.  You can survive these things and move forward stronger.  You have to be willing to sit with some pain and sorrow to get to this point but I can say one does come out the better for it, somehow.  Certainly it intensifies compassion.

Which brought me to the next realization.  Kathryn Shulz wrote a wonderful piece in the February 13-20 New Yorker, called “Losing Streak”.  It’s about grief, essentially.  One issue she discusses is the “thing” of forgetting and misplacing things.  So.  When the Partner said, this morning, upon being presented with coffee with whipped cream on top (left over from butterscotch pudding- I’m not completely insane yet and we had a whole bowlful, so….) that he had “already forgotten” about the whipped cream, the article hit me with a bang.   Ever since that damned election, we’ve been immersed in thick, deep grief.  It’s hard to remember things or get up the energy to pursue anything.

So much has been shunted out of view and so much has been trampled already that it is breathtaking.  We have watched, essentially, our country die. Not to say it was in perfect health before, but now? Circling the drain at an ever increasing speed. It is amazing that people think you can go backward in time when it is so clear that you really cannot.  To try and go back to the beginnings of this country, reinforce the land theft and racism that built it, glorify the capitalist impulse above all else, and behave as though everything is working just fine? Not a workable plan.  There is an ever larger group of people who are like the “boil” they found on the “emergency spillway” in Oroville last night.  In essence, a place where water and things sink through and down and then get pushed back against the wall of the dam,  to roar up and move forward again, crushing everything  in their path.  There are too many people pushed to the brink on every level and sooner or later it’s going to blow.  The blindness it takes to condone this is breathtaking.  And frightening.

So.  What this feels like is this.  We’ve been through a long, long period of combat, lost everything just about- at least that’s US.  We come “home” and find no home.  It looks very much like having to go back to war again, but we KNOW that won’t work.  Also, we know we’re not up to it.  Another way must be found and it surely exists.  Pretending LPV doesn’t exist won’t work (believe me, I’ve tried) but perhaps out thinking- and out-FEELING-  all that (which shouldn’t be that difficult) can be done. A different perspective, view, line of sight.  And it must be done.  It feels, then, maybe just maybe, that hope has been restored even though we’re still in tears.  We will carry on removing Godzilla heads, in any case.  The Dog is a marvelous assistant in this endeavor- I’m starting to think that if I’d been accompanied by a Dog earlier in my life? Things might be quite different.  Just another reminder, if one were needed: LOVE, dear friends.  Always the way.  Darkness never lasts, and love never stops.

Blessings and thanks!

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bemused

Lately I’ve been spending time outdoors at night, looking at the sky.  Some nights it fills me with an incredible calm.  Other nights revelations appear, and last night? I took my glasses off which was amazing.  The entire sky came into clear view, no fuzz or distraction.

And this, Gentle Reader, is how it is.  Seeing what you look at is not as easy as you might think.  You have to drop your preconceptions (or glasses), release attitudes (the I wants or I thinks or….well, you know) and take the ride.

Lately the field of opposites for me has been, on one end of the teeter totter: Things do work out often far better than your wildest dreams, and the Dalai Lama IS right, there’s no reason for too much worry.  On the other side of the totter? Are so many people who seem completely beyond rehabilitation.  The US Congress appears to fall in that category but what really made me stop and think was a documentary we saw about the Yazidi women ISIS has captured.  How can anyone become so entirely debased and degraded as to do the things these guys do? (Or, for that matter, Bill Cosby.) So many affected by their dead end vileness, so little help for their victims, and such lasting pain.  For everyone.  I really don’t get it.  As a woman and experiencer of many such vilenesses in the past, it makes me really angry and when I find myself thinking, well, that creep definitely needs to die,  I’m stuck in that vast space between the stars, my own sense of powerlessness and inability to DO anything, and knowing that violence really does just beget more of the same.  So my project now is to develop an Enlightenment Spray!  A few shots of this stuff and you step away from the bad behavior.  A few more sprays and you start thinking about good things to do, like planting gardens and keeping things clean and being NICE, DAMMIT.  It’s worth a try.  You, my dear readers, will be among the first to know how this Quest goes.

river rocks

We all descend to some reactive foolishness from time to time, I suppose.  What with all the this and that of late it was easy to overlook the basic goodness of things.  And lose, essentially, one’s equanimity and a bit of one’s temper.  Yes, I did.

I went out for a walk to let the smoke clear from my nostrils and halfway up the bluff realized I’d forgotten my glasses.  It was interesting because on some level I can’t see all that well without them.  I figured, though, that since I’d gotten that far, put boots on and everything, that I should just use it as Practice which clearly was sorely needed.  And seeing! What a metaphor!

The strange thing was that I actually could see well enough to totter down to the “seasonal” creek at the crook of two hills.  There were all kinds of animal prints and bedding down spots and I was pretty amazed that I could see all of that, along with the dazzling array of rocks in the creek bed.  The rocks!! Holy cow that creek contains some absolutely mind boggling rocks.  Three  of them seemed somehow to migrate into my hands, whispering their secrets:  One kind of midnight blue, one green, and one a flame-y red ochre.

What I could see, even without my glasses, was that each rock looked like a complete world. So there I was, holding three worlds in my hand, standing in perhaps a multitude of worlds extending into and beyond me.  Humbling, for sure. The midnight blue one, square and flat, has lines of granite and quartz on the lower half, with the dark blue and more quartz running on top like a night sky over the land.  The green one, shaped like an enormous russet potato, looks like the water rushing in the river, with some striations of tree branches leaning into it.  The flame colored one is a small, triangular shaped rock and it looks like a glowing, beating heart.  They stack together like they’ve been that way forever together, and now are gracing my work spot.

It occurred to me AGAIN that really, the information is out there, always,  The answers to our questions are available.  It’s just that often those answers are: stop, take a breath, put down whatever you’re holding.  Be quiet. Experience beauty. This doesn’t always seem like it’s going to provide any answers whatsoever.  Of course the more one feels like they aren’t going to put down whatever they’re holding, the more crucially important it is that they do so.  Even then nothing may be terribly clear.  But it is about shifting focus, allowing for nothing to happen, waiting and observing.  Sadly, I find it doesn’t always mean that I rise above my own foolishness, but I do, more and more often.  Which is something.

I can’t tell if we expect perfection from ourselves or if it’s just perfection-ISM, which keeps a person from doing much of anything.  It is probably quite often a case of not being in your skin where you actually are. At least if you observe the slips and trips, there’s more information and perhaps the same pratfall can be avoided in the future.   I’m starting to think it is more a matter of training oneself in flexibility and observation than it is a matter of actually digging up, for review, those mangled body parts of the past and looking at it all in dismay.  This usually causes reacting instead of responding.  AS in: Instead of (YOU, he, she, it, this) is intolerable and  is, at the very least, a flaming asshat/ clusterf–k /disaster. You can instead think to yourself: This (whatever) is pushing my entire button panel and I smell smoke.  Let me go outside.  Perhaps what nature does is give you perspective in every atom of your being.  Ultimately that lends itself to better decision making, at least I hope so.  Now, what to do about Citizens United. (*sigh*)

at the sea’s shore

I used to think, when we first came here, that not being by the ocean would be the thing I really couldn’t handle.  Sometimes I wanted to see water so badly it was shocking.  It was also interesting because a trip to the river usually pulled me together.

It made me start thinking about what water represents:  Life, sustenance, feelings and emotions.  There were clearly oceans to be navigated right between my eyes, and it was those oceans clamoring to be seen.   I used to have dreams  about being taken down to the bottom of the ocean by a huge animal, whale like (but of course also like a bear).  I could see it all in the dream and the feeling of being conveyed to the surface, breathing again and feeling full of light still stays with me.  Later on I’d dream about walking on the surface of the ocean, on a net, with large dark shapes moving beneath me, walking and walking toward the horizon.

I think, if anyone asked me which of course they have not, probably the most important thing you can do in life for your own sanity is keep your psychic housekeeping up to date.  Let go of things that don’t serve you, and don’t gloss over situations that give you problems and seem without resolution.   Don’t be afraid to feel what you feel.  Reason being?  If you put it off, it just gets bigger and more unwieldy, possibly poisonous.  Be here now, be clear now, and even though in the moment it may be challenging, in the long run it pays huge dividends in calm and focus.  I only know this because I DIDN’T do that, exactly.  The tools gained in the search have certainly helped and now at least I know that the things I’m feeling are akin to an archeological discovery  of a rather peculiar civilization.  I’m learning to appreciate all that old architecture and pottery in spite of the dust, darkness, and sharp spots.  I think, actually, we are here to enjoy life. I didn’t always think that, but I do now.  If we do that, in truth, it makes it better for everyone.  Real joy is unmistakable and anyone can have it- but you do have to be willing to feel what you feel, when you feel it, and act according to the highest value you can reach at any given time.   It may not make everyone happy, but that isn’t really our job, is it?  We have to be happy ourselves, and that is an inner condition.  And that inner condition can be either fed or mutilated by what we do or don’t allow for ourselves.  It’s simple.  It’s complicated.  It takes time.  It happens in a heart beat.

SO.  As a simple, complicated, flawed and sometimes whole individual, I thank you for reading and being there, and wish you the joy that most certainly is there, beyond all the appearances.  That’s the building block for the new world we really have got to get round to setting up now.  Joy.  Just wait till you feel it!

still raining still dreaming

The world is oddly green around here now: Flourescent, almost.  It is incredibly calming, uplifting, and when one thinks about it, confusingly unseasonal.  The oak trees shot out a few new leaves during the week or so of “fall” we had, like emeralds in the midst of a fire, and now that all the brown dead leaves have blown away they linger uncertainly.  It’s hard to know what day it is, in short.

However it is December, this year is drawing to a calendrical close, and I feel oddly both bullet-proof and mangled beyond recognition.  But it is the nature of love that has been revealing itself to me of late.  I realized the other day that being cursed (we were drinking Maudite) and being very close to the divine often amount to the same thing experientially- what sets them apart is knowing that love is real.  When you feel cursed, you doubt and collapse.  When you are just that teensiest bit too close to the divine, the pain is similar but somehow you know it will shift and in the meantime there’s incredible stuff to see.

At long last it dawned on me that acting from love does not mean allowing things you don’t like or want in order to keep another person happy.  What is, is, how you feel is how you feel.  You simply have to develop your own beliefs and live in your own skin, whatever others may say about that.  You might ask, well, what about mad bombers or raging capitalists or…well, all of that worldly mayhem.  To my mind such individuals are living under the curse, believing they can control things and there is no limit to their actions.  Therefore in the long run success will not come from that direction.  It can only come from love. Everything really is an invitation to begin again- the difficulty we humans have is precisely that.  It’s hard for us to put down whatever we’re holding in a death grip and start over.  That start-over really does mean you start completely over.  How can this be made better?  How can this serve everyone involved?

Love really is the answer.  Perhaps acting from love means you refrain from injuring yourself.  Perhaps it means letting things move in their own time and accepting all the myriad realities existing around us without feeling the need to “do” something.  Love may not make you feel better the same way you think you feel better when acting under old patterning- but it does give you a way to turn the lights on and see how spacious things really are.  Love isn’t about changing anything except your own perspective, in a way.  It’s a force like light or wind, I think, which we can learn to flow and fly with.  It is amazingly easier to let people be who they are- but then you have the responsibility for your own actions as the north star.  No resentment, no rage.   Begin again.

In an important neighborhood piglet update: They’re getting slightly bigger and now they’re mostly covered in mud with tiny specks of pink showing through.  The chickens are hogging the heatlamp, and one piglet engages in daily duels with the rooster for a spot in front of the treat dispenser.   The pigs who had staged the daring escape on another part of the hill have now proceeded to being made into sausage, which is the ever present reminder that death and life contain each other all the time, every day.  With that basic reality check going on, things do start to make more sense.  In that general vein, we’re researching chicken raising and seed catalogs are winging their way here.  When you don’t know what to do, do what you know, right?  Green eggs and purple carrots should do the trick.

the learning precipice

Things have been, Gentle Reader, more than usually challenging and difficult and I am facing October hoping it isn’t like September was.  Because September was AWFUL.

However.  There is a smattering of snow on Mt. Shasta at last.  The lady down the road who has geese sets out small blue plastic swimming pools for them and it is a joy to watch them paddling around.  We have literal parliaments of birds in the garden in the mornings, taking dew baths and eating bugs.   I figured out an easier way to make spaghetti sauce.

I also realized something pretty big about being human and how we actually change.  One of the weird things that happened last month was for the first time ever, I lost, spectacularly, my temper.  I banged a shovel on a metal gate until sparks flew.  In that moment I had a panoramic view of why people get angry, why they act out- all those things I thought I just couldn’t understand before.  On the one hand, such an exhibition produces desired results at times- and I suppose this particular time I was very lucky to live through it.  But I thought a lot about how things are now, how people can feel so alienated and disenfranchised and without recourse or alternative, and how desperate the situation is for so many in this world for things to be going as they are, so much violence and anger and frustration and basic WASTE.  At the same time I realized the enormity of the connection between all of us.  We all feel the same things whether we know it or not, and there is a huge movement between all of us:  of feelings, of thoughts. (It’s hard, of course, to think that anything resembling thought goes on in the minds of, say, the Koch brothers- those guys who pronounce their name like the beverage and not the body part they mostly behave like.  Still, it must be possible.)

Then, imagine my surprise when I realized that all these Opportunities for Growth that have surfaced lately?  I asked for that.  I had an opportunity a while ago to do some deep work.  I asked for help with a family issue, a personal relationship issue, and for help dealing with my many fears.  Of course I thought that the problematic elements would just sort of…float away.  I would be released from them.  Just as we all do, hope that our trials and tribulations will be taken from us.  BUT OF COURSE in order for that to happen, quite a bit of work must be done.   The first two concerns were, in fact, dealt with and they were two of the hardest, most painful things I’ve ever gone through.  Then, there’s the fear.  You can’t divest yourself of fear until you really know what it is, it turns out.  You can’t pretend you don’t feel it, can’t ignore it, also can’t let it run your life.  Just like in PTSD, the fears drive through your brain in horrible clockwork.  And just as in PTSD the way out is through, in noticing what comes up, what color that car in your head really is and also? it isn’t really a car.  Suddenly, after a lifetime of application, the fear reveals itself as what it is.  A thought in reaction to a circumstance.  Change your thoughts, the circumstance is changed as well.   Or more properly, its appearance is changed.  There is, as the Buddhists say, no cure for hot and cold.  And fear is like hot and cold- another experience, another sensation.  It may not be curable, but it IS explorable, and that is the key.

The thing of it now, though, is so many circumstances are so dire and intractable it might not seem like it matters at all how you think about them.  But I think it does.  How you perceive something dictates how you respond to it.  Take injustice.   The perpetrators of injustices are often not accessible, seen or even exactly known.  How do you combat something like that?  Things have taken such a direction in my life that I no longer have trust in any of the forms and infrastructures of society.  I also believe, still, shovel incident notwithstanding, that non-violence is the only lasting proper method for change.  This puts the responsibility squarely on one’s shoulders, then.  We ourselves have to shape our lives the way WE want them to be, regardless of tyranny, stupidity, poverty and greed.  There may be no basic services available to a person.  That person then has to forage, make connections, and create an alternative.  This means leaving a lot of things behind, but mostly things like materialism, complacency, disinterest.  It means you have to start actually thinking on your feet, being responsible.  Putting fear and conformity aside even in the most difficult situation really does allow space for movement and change.  It isn’t easy and I can’t imagine most people even want to touch this whole thing with a barge pole but nonetheless it is what is staring us all squarely in the face.   Or, me, anyway.  You gotta align self with Self and with the big picture.  Then? It isn’t easy or perhaps all that different but it is better without all the static.  And every day better gets better, and the strength and will to carry on grow, and great things can happen.  Great things aren’t always seemingly big things either.  All the small things everywhere add up to something though, and it is just starting to seem like there’s a reachable cohort working on peace, love, and happiness. So let’s introduce ourselves and carry on.

 

harrowing tails

AS usual, Gentle Reader, the past “holiday weekend” was filled with excitement.

You may remember we were facing the looming certainty of no water.  Let’s just say that in fact, we did have no water for several hours.  It was over 110.  There were a few terse exchanges, such as:

“The water’s going to be off another two hours, OK?”

“No.”

Ultimately it got wrestled to the ground to a certain extent: not finished, but wrestled down.  I resorted to vodka and limonata and mystery novels, after the snake episode but before the posse of horsemen arrived on our driveway.   We were, perhaps foolishly, commenting at the end of that day on what a good thing it was that the ELECTRICITY wasn’t off at the same time as the WATER, which is most often the case.  Maintenance and all that.  As we were being all jolly about it, the Partner, who had been looking out the front window, suddenly grabbed his hat and the shotgun.  Gunfire ensued in the garden.  It turned out to be our Annual Dispensing With Poisonous Snakes.  A rattler, as usual.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t only the snake that bit it, our water hose was in harm’s way and sadly met its end.  This was the occasion for a challenging trip to the hardware store, but even that finally got completed.  We were both, in the end, able to remain calm.

Until the next morning, when as the sun began shining brightly and hotly through the dome, we heard the noise of a huge Harley Davidson, which drove up and down the gravel road in front of our driveway for about forty minutes at top rev and noise.  Nothing caught on fire in the brush and dried grasses, which was a good thing.   Shortly after that, once again pulling ourselves together, we look out the window to see?  A group of people on horseback riding up our (private) “driveway”.  They claimed to think it was a hiking trail, and, additionally, deposited a rather large amount of horseshit, LIKE THERE ISN’T ENOUGH ALREADY.  The Partner did his most imposing Crazy Bastard Impersonation and they finally left.  Given that we are several miles in country on a ghastly dirt and rock road, it’s hard to believe there’s all this activity, but there is.  Mostly it’s people who don’t have any business being back here which is strange enough in itself.

Often I wonder what WE’RE doing out here, although we know more or less how we came to travel through the freak wormhole of economic diaspora and arrive at our present agrarian setting.  It’s mysterious in a way how totally uphill things are here, but we’ve kind of decided it is a lot about the weather.  It’s beastly, in short, and we both think it contributes to loss of mind over the long term.   However, on the good side:  we have a lovely quail family in the garden.  This is, I believe, Mr. and Mrs. Quail who strolled so companionably up the driveway in the spring.  They have several small balls of fluff who never come when called.  Last evening, Mr. Quail led the brood up to the bluff after everyone had- well, gorged themselves it looked like,  and Mrs. Quail stood for a moment on a mound of soil in the garden.  She fluffed up to the point where she looked like a much bigger creature.  She stretched her legs.  She appeared to sigh contentedly and went off after her family.  It was a strangely moving pastoral moment.  I also bought a gardenia, which perfumes the dark nights, unexpectedly all around the yurt.  It’s really wonderful, and reminds me always that you really do have to stop and smell whatever’s blooming.