I’m working on Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring program. I’m listening to Russel Brand’s Recovery, and I have a daily practice of listening to Ram Daas, the Tao Te Ching, Upanishads, or some EDM, metal, punk, reggae, rap, Joe Rogan or my friend’s spiritual comedy podcast, Perceptionists Anonymous.
I’m starting to believe staring at my phone activates the fight or flight part of my brain, that social media is toxic, that I surrounded myself with bad people when I was younger and in turn became a bad person. I am remembering myself again. I lived.
Fuck your social media. I do not care to be social.
I hung out with grimy metal heads with poor values and worse morals. Their only moderately respectable value was loyalty to one another, especially if one of them happened to stick his dick in a chick other than his girlfriend. Gross.
I thought that in order to forgive I had to be able to be in the same room with these people without resentment again. That just amounted to more damage only this time it was my resentment causing shit where there need not be.
Now I see my resentment is over. Those days are in the past.
My perception is flawed because I am still influenced by those pains as though they exist in the present, though they are long gone. When I’m down, it’s clear I am the cause of my own misery now.
We are going to meet DJ’s coworker and her husband. I feel alarm bells and insecurities clanging in my brain making it hard to think and shortening my temper. An imagined reality and jealousy. I want to pick a fight with him about making friends with women.
I want to remember the version of me who trusts. I want to remember the version of me who is open and happy and secure in herself.
I want to remember the version of me who isn’t shallow and worried about the kinds of trips I’ve been tripping over. There’s a me that knows how to be happy. There’s a me who stands with her shoulders squared.
I have been circumambulating, watching this version of me appear and disappear like a carousel horse I’ve been waiting my turn to ride.
So this is the battle. After shedding the old, that long dark night of the soul that was this past winter, I am left with the bare bones of a personality and a fresh, almost innocent awareness of the present. Some yoga and meditation offer me objectivity. A lack of conviction in my perception allows me to question everything. There’s too much to relearn. I did not know trauma was so insidious.
There’s more than one trauma, more than one lesson, and my life has been a snowballing, destructive, pathway of self-avoidance at the expense of others.
Then I set out to heal and it got worse before it got better. Seeing ones faults isn’t easy. Ego deaths can be difficult.
From what I can tell from all these recovery or self-authoring or psychology programs designed to help a person heal from trauma and addiction is that taking responsibility for one’s faults and resentments is the first step.
While it may not be your fault, it is all your responsibility.
No one else has to live with you.
So when I say I want to be the version of me who trusts, I get to choose.
Who is this person? What does she do? How does she trust? How does she trust and keep good boundaries?
I think this looks like believing in the kind of love that is open-hearted, honest and allowing space for that.
My suspicious brain and my rational brain and my emotional brain are constantly at war. I think we all understand this in some way or another. What’s more, I think finding the sweet spot where I am aligned in all of those parts of the brain, where my actions are being taken with intention and belief, that is my aim.
It seems, too, to be the aim of many recovery and spiritual programs—balance.
I am still on this idea of discernment.
Discernment, our ability to choose, is supposedly what separates us from the animals.
What does that mean?
It means we can retrain our instincts, something that becomes especially important after experiencing trauma, even more so when you outgrow those traumas.
It works like this:
He’s ten minutes late.
My rational mind knows he’s at Have a Heart getting weed. My heart knows it too. My instincts switch on to when mom was late to day care which sometime meant hours and I never slept well. My instincts are trained to switch to anxiety. I’ve been cheated on, too, and the kind of walking-on-eggshells glass heart feeling I’ve been carrying around has been the cause for behavior I’m not proud of, mostly rooted in a victim mentality wielded as justification. The dark night of the soul involved seeing my past actions without the veil of victim and realizing how I could have taken more responsibility, made better choices, set better boundaries. And, while the things I experienced are not all my fault, it is my responsibility to deal with them.
So I choose to go to dinner with DJ’s coworker and her husband. My insecurities are screaming at me and the untamed wildling in me that comes out in social situations sometimes surprises me still. I’m afraid of her. I do not understand this part of me. I’m remembering what it’s like to make friends, what kinds of boundaries exist between people like distance and differences of opinion and taste.
I step on toes. I’m opinionated and have generally felt nothing more than a disdainful tolerance for people for the last four years or so. It shows. I tried to fight it too. My heart became all shriveled like a raisin even the sun doesn’t want to touch anymore.
I think my family broke me out of this phase honestly. I wanted to start a family at one point and realized I would not be able to raise a family in that environment…alcohol and cigarettes and poverty. I gave up on the idea. My family has struggled. My family is normal.
Don’t give up.
That I don’t change for no one attitude is stupidity and laziness designed as pride. We all change. We can embrace and shape it. That is discernment. I was stupid. It wasn’t necessarily my fault, but it doesn’t change the fact that my fear blinded me.
I’m learning new skills. This is how to fix your credit. This is how to separate business from personal. This is a dance we’ve all agreed on and just do what you’re supposed to and squander your spare time for all those hobbies and dinner parties. Here’s how you do sobriety: start with kombucha and vitamins. You’ll need some probiotics and antacids. Find ways to occupy your time like building a meal plan maybe or painting your toes.
Here’s how you relax enough to realize this is basically all we’re doing…looking for things to do with our time. Is this why civilization? Did we just get bored and arbitrarily create rules and try to enforce them and build new worlds because we couldn’t just chill?
Civilization is just a game of ego building, the same ego building we do in recovery. Done unconsciously, the ego becomes destructive like mine did. Like ours has. Done consciously, the ego becomes well-trained like that time I recovered from an eating disorder.
Wouldn’t it be cool if people figured out how to change their own minds to overcome their own ego projections and we didn’t need to tell other people how to live because of our own projected ideas of reality colliding?
Then again, where’s the fun in being just a blob consciousness? No conflict, no learning. Friction creates growth. That’s why fucking feels good.
Either way, there’s a choice. Meditation offers the objectivity necessary to choose, I think.
So I’m training my instincts, which are wrong, trauma wrong. This is discernment. I choose to trust. I choose to believe. I choose to be responsible for myself, my own self-esteem. I choose to learn how to make friends, how to observe, how to build new instincts.
It feels like that same screaming wrong feeling of eating when I hadn’t in so long. My body revolted against the rough scratch of cereal and the sun kissed fuckyou! brightness of orange. But I powered through. I ate.
I must see this situation for what it might be and most likely is: an opportunity to be a fully functioning, secure adult with a healthy relationship and friendships.
My trauma brain is like: this is all going to be fucked and it’s going to blow up in your face like it always does and everyone betrays you and waaaa waaa.
There’s a very real possibility of all possibilities.
And it all might get fucked and go wrong again, but I’m honestly tired of worrying what if. That’s not the life I want to live. A what if life.
No more pointing fingers.
This life is mine. This person is me. I take responsibility.