When it Makes Sense (Temenos)

“And it is so simple…you will instantly find how to live.” –Dostoyevsky

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, I contradict myself.
I am large.
I contain multitudes.

–Walt Whitman

Temenos:a Greek word which refers to a universal instinct to create a protected, safe space in which to heal, reorganize and regenerate the fragmented personality; taking shape in circular shapes like Mandalas (Jung)…

“Heart on your sleeve”—I had been doing it for years. I’ll admit that for the first one or two years after breakdown, I had to. I didn’t know who I was otherwise, or where I was, or why I was here. Yes. A diagnosis became a light out—a red-pinned focal point on a map of black behavior that was almost sociopathic, because there were no feelings or compassion or empathy behind the wheel. Just actions. Behaviors. Thoughts. An almost death.
I realized I’ve stepped out of my laziness a little—I no longer define myself by some diagnosis or history or trauma. Why do we need to define ourselves by such intangible things? But enough is enough. I’ve been spending a lot of time in silence, and quite a bit making a few new friends online—and woo-hoo one in reality. That was tricky shit at first. But on the real level, the level I care about–I am seeing changes. I am making changes. I have been changing rapidly for the last six years, and things are finally feeling…right. I am feeling forward motion. I am even having flashbacks of beautiful things—that smell in the country air with Erica on our bikes by that shaded plateau of forest where the ground was moss-covered and fragrant. I can smell it. And sunscreen. Mello Yello out of the clean hospital cups her mother worked at outside of town, us on our bikes, thirteen, Walkman speakers connected to the handlebars. Or walking in the cold winter mornings—the world is blue and suffocating and it’s beautiful. Puddles reflecting branches in the cloudy sky, the way water rivulets on pavement, sounding like Spring is coming and then I smell Easter candy and marshmallow peeps and I see Emma the year she was four and got a new bike—bubbles in the chilly air, her orange hair and squinty eyes not so amused, and I smell the carpet of that upstairs apartment and how I climbed the roof to clean windows when she napped, black coffee on the counter and wet lilacs from the rain in my antique mason jars—this is the strange shit I can’t help but notice lately. Smells are overwhelming. And physical oh my god physical–sexual—which is also at its peak. My prime must be here, and I’m only learning my sexuality. I have slept for so long. I was asleep before I got sick. So this being okay and kind of healthy is a whole new trip for me. I define my health. Or I’ve always been sick. And this is me now. And I’m creating who I want to be—or what I want to be. I think we already are whatever we were born for—be it reincarnation, or, what I believe, stardust (the ever-present connection of Taoism and Science)–and our choices and desires only direct a life. And that life is small. Insignificant. And beautiful. When everything is taken away, and I have been completely annihilated and there is no god anymore and there is no purpose, I was forever changed. I cannot unsee. And at last I learned how to stand—because I chose to. Because it was time. It’s easy to lay low as I did for a few years. I could be gentle on myself and say I was recovering and heavily medicated, and that sometimes it’s too much– or I could be harsh on myself and say I was weak to be so afraid of myself. I had not prepared myself for something I had always known was coming. I refused to look in the mirror and be brave. Face myself. Face illness and rot and emptiness. I guess because I didn’t think she’d make it. Huh. I dreamt the other night that I was assigned to this beautiful futuristic apartment in London, and I went to my sister’s apartment to check myself in the mirror. I looked. I was stunning. My dimples, the high cheekbones, the long lashes. Pink lips. So I stepped closer and I startled for a fraction of a second, but didn’t trust my instinct so I leaned closer. I’m suddenly wiping all the makeup off, and beneath the colorful layers, my face is a blackness, a vacuum, a shapely hole of what I imagine to be hell, because it reminded me of being in the mental ward. It scared me but not enough. I was more so curious and imploring.

A few years back I felt like I woke up. I was sitting in the sun and it was spring and there were fat bumble bees. I could smell the mud and budding grass. I believe Sonny Boy Williamson was playing through the window screen. But I wasn’t quite ready. So I kept on, but I knew it was building somewhere in me. Then one day, maybe 2 years later, I woke up to words, as if I’d never used them before. And they began to heal me. And then I found I wasn’t waking up to anything but myself. More and more every day. And I was curious and am curious about this woman. I don’t take any pride anymore in my “wounds”—that’s such a sad way to exist. They are not wounds but just parts. No name to them. They are there and that’s that. Small parts.
I used to fear being so many fragments and pieces. Yet somehow they are all managing to start to fit together a little. I have many masks. I am many people. I change all the time. And I like it. I like that I don’t believe in something or feel I have to. Because I know in my gut I come from something—something as vague and enormous as the universe, and as small as an atom. I’m starting to crave things too, things I was unable to find before or even fathom. I’m hungry for everything and my god, it feels so good.
It’s all become so simple, and it took the most complex existence to figure that out.

“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.”

Thanks for listening dear readers.
–Amy Jo

A Beginning (Memoir)

Cold January cracks through the diamond patterned lines on the security glass. The winter sun blinds my puffy eyes, stretches across my white blanket, my white sheets. Everything is white. I look for it in my gut—the comfort of warm familiar glows and dawn, but there is none. And the empty nothingness overwhelms me to a sit-up position. Fear. Fearing fear. This fear that had started spreading through me, and now continued as soon as I wake, like a black ink filling my veins. It has a mouth and a long, wide throat and there’s sharp teeth to catch me. There certainly aren’t people because people don’t exist in your head. And I cry because no one can help me out of this. That’s why I am here. I feel the nausea rise and the taste of rubber in my mouth. I cry because there is no God. I try to whisper Hail Mary again like last night. It’s not working. Focus. Panic. Focus. Feel the textures, feel the temperatures. Be present you will not die. I’m dying. Alone in my room, wearing their navy blue scrubs. It’s that starving cry again and I’m no longer embarrassed here to try to muffle it. I also know it doesn’t help worth a damn, but I’m that little girl, aren’t I? That little five year old getting her head kicked in and her underwear pulled. Wasn’t the time I put into this madness enough? It may never end, and I prayed to Mary to let it be over. I hear the little girl’s voice again, sobbing gently in my head. I want to reach inside myself and cut her. Because I know she is where I must begin–this is alone-girl-lonely-smoke-Favim.com-442462only the bottom of the well. It’s unexplored down here and only a shred of January streaks through above me, in that small opening to the world. Miles away. And I have to know this well like the back of my hand if I intend on not only surviving but never coming back. Memories, speak. Memories I’m down I’m down, I can’t fight anymore. And there is nothing left but terror—and even more terror awaits but I must break into this and start eating it alive—I must figure this out. I must feel. I must remember. Or I won’t make it.

The drive in the old red Chevy is a quiet one, nothing but white headlights through the haze of cigarette smoke—Dan, my stepfather, chain-smoking Dorals, watching the road and my thigh. None of us speak—we hardly ever did in those years. I stare through the glass, watching the mental ward set back against the tall bones of the birch trees draw near.
The sky is the only thing I want to see. The only thing I don’t have to think
Read More

A Sarcastic Ass and a Poet

Well I am on a spree of sleepless nights (I wasn’t on my adhd med for a week and then took it late the other night–I’m all fucked up) so I thought I’d write to you about a few things: ADHD, a little on the moods in bipolar, a little Ptsd, destructive behavior, and sex.  Sound alright?

Well first, ADHD.  I’m in this group–it’s a totally limitless free-for-all for people with ADHD, and that is where I met the writer/blogger Tom Nardone (here’s his site, here’s his blog).  He has a hilarious view on ADHD (and it just so happens my ADHD is my only disorder I find quite funny).  If you get a chance, go read his stuff, and listen to his podcasts–total entertainment and eye-opening thoughts–he really gets you to look at yourself and think for yourself.

art-couple-cute-drawing-Favim.com-1677980
Favim

But he got me thinking about how ADHD effects my life past and present.  When I was younger it wasn’t so prevalent–except I couldn’t read books/textbooks–had no clue what was going on in English and History).  It has to/had to be very stimulating to capture my attention (and what I find stimulating are things on emotional/sexual levels).  It wasn’t until my twenties that I began to chase after things I could never catch (comorbid with the PTSD), I was abusing drugs and very sexually active (way too active–even though the PtSD blocked all orgasming).  Later in my mid to late twenties I couldn’t focus or sit  still.  I was (always have been) EXTREMELY impulsive–with words, with reactions, with money, with drug, with people.  The PTSD came into effect full force in 2009 and my brain was a scramble.  I had Read More

“Darkness Starts” Christian Wiman

Darkness Starts
By Christian Wiman

A shadow in the shape of a house
slides out of a house
and loses its shape on the lawn.

Trees seek each other
as the wind within them dies.

Darkness starts inside of things
but keeps on going when the things are gone.

Barefoot careless in the farthest parts of the yard
children become their cries.

A Space to Fill

I.
It’s the coldest January I’ve known
the white light coming in
through the protective glass–
white, I think, like my grandmother’s
white sheets she’d hang in June.

The white light coming in
takes me for a turn and
I think for a moment–
is it color? Or space? Like
the space we can never fill

and then I remember where I am
and why I am here.
Emptiness leaks out of me.
It’s hard when you learn
there is no God.
Now there’s the girl that weeps in my ears
but I can never find her.
At home I searched the house
for a crying child
until I realized it was in my head.

Out in the common area
I crouch over my puce tray
and take anti-psychotics,
mood stabilizers, speed,
and a mysterious one that
keeps the flashbacks mild. -er.
Patients ask me where I’m from,
do I have a home, if I want my
pudding, if I cut myself.
II.
The drive in the old red Chevy
is a quiet one, nothing but
white headlights
through the haze of cigarette
smoke, my stepfather
watching the road and
my thigh.
We are
outside of town
where the mental ward
sits back behind the snowy pines.

The sky is the only thing I see.
The only thing I don’t
have to think of.
It’s a place I’m already
falling towards.
I stare up at the stars
where I’m beginning to
recognize myself–everything means nothing.
My Catholic grandmother, June.
Even then I knew it was okay
to be lost when you’re
reminded
how small you are, how little
your voice is.
III.
Flashback. I nod
at Nurse Jo and she follows me
to my room. I lay on the
cot and tell her it’s coming.
She gives me a warm
blanket to squeeze and it begins.
The crying–an impression
of the child in my head.
Then I’m there–he’s
video taping me and
my step-siblings, and we
are not dressed; cajoled, his
soothing voice; encouragement.
There is water.
There is a blindfold on my
face and blood.
IV.
My mother comes outside
into the November air in a robe
and slippers, shuffling next
to my stepfather, crying.
My sisters and I keep our
distance, believing
that she wants us to.
She turns away into his shoulder
and I turned and stared
into the sky.
I thought about God,
about how the earth was really
just this round ball he had
in a box and for our nights, he
put a lid on that box and
punched holes in it for stars.
In my mind, God was a giant
old man forcing us to love
each other in a darkness
we could never fill.
V.

Nurse Jo asks me
to tell her what happened
when I come out of it.
I tell her about it,
and that I do not remember
too much more except
for the most chilling part–their faces.
My step brother and step sister
looked like dead children,
and I imagine I did, too.

 

I believed
he was the only one I could ever
answer to, the only power.
This is love.
He was a giant man forcing
us to love each other in a space
I’d never get back.

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Alan Watts-The Psychotic Experience

just for you Doug

–something cool–the Islam tradition with mentally ill people that they call the village idiot is sort of extremely cared for and loved by the society because it is considered his soul is gone with Allah and they are to take care of his body and remember they have their soul yet.

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A Poem by Sharon Olds

This poem by Sharon Olds comes from her amazing book, Satan Says.

Let me know what you think.  It’s probably one of my favorite poems out there; I’ll never forget it.

 

yvetteinufio9TIME TRAVEL

I have learned to go back and walk around

and find the windows and doors.  Outside

it is hot, the pines are black, the lake

laps.  It is 1955 and I am

looking for my father.

I walk from a small room to a big one

through a doorway.  The walls and floor are pine,

full of splinters.

I come upon him.

I can possess him like this, the funnies

rising and falling on his big stomach,

his big solid secret body

where he puts the bourbon.

He belongs to me forever like this,

the red plaid shirt, the baggy pants,

the long perfectly turned legs,

the soft padded hands folded across his body,

the hair dark as a burnt match,

the domed, round eyes closed,

the firm mouth.  Sleeping it off

in the last summer the family was together.

I have learned to walk

so quietly into that summer

no one knows I am there.  He rests

easy as a baby.  Upstairs Read More