Monday, November 20, 2017

Comments by LavenderSage

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  • Many thoughts on your article, Emily. First off, thanks for putting yourself out there. That’s very brave, especially in light of how your young life has handed you experience after experience that naturally produces a greater sensitivity to abandonment, and greater pain than everyone else seems to feel within that universal experience of existential loneliness. Life dealt me that kind of hand too, so I get it.
    “Abnormal” is such a powerful toxin, and anybody trying to sell anything (a product, an ideology, a lifestyle) uses it as a tool of control. Get people to feel that they are lacking, and you create a need. Narrow the definition of “normal,” and you create that need in more of the population. Did you know that before psychologists got involved, advertising was basically just product info? Psychologists introduced the idea of creating an emotional need for the product by making people feel inferior without it.
    The only way to take the teeth out of “abnormal” is to not assign the power to define what your normal is, but keep a firm hold on that power for yourself, the power to self-define. I read the other day that the official definition of high blood pressure is tightening. 120/80, once the definition of normal, is now on the border. Same thing with the blood glucose number a few years ago, when overnight 140 became borderline. You must ask yourself: who gets to define your borders? Who has the authority to decide whether you are “normal” or not, and in what respects? Will you give that power to a doctor? a professor? a researcher? an ad firm? I choose not to.
    One more thank you, and that’s for referencing “people of size.” I learned long ago that language matters, words matter. I watched the gay community reclaim words of hate, thereby depleting their power to inflict harm. My body has a substantial layer of fat. Yup. And most people are put off by that, romantically. But I do not have to agree with them that I am unattractive. Whatever put-downs were leveled at me in my formative years did enough damage at the time. I do not need to continue the abuse by agreeing with those destructive messages. Neither do you. Even if nobody else in the world (including myself 30 years ago) appreciates the ample flesh on my upper arm that sways when I wave at someone, I do. Is it the defined bicep I find so sexy on women like Michelle Obama? Hell no. But it is always a pillow if I need to nap on a long drive, for instance. It is a part of me that I can love for what it is, rather than be ashamed of for what it’s not. I invite you to try on those lenses in your own life. Flip the script and be the author.

  • Is there a possibility of offering the courses to non-professionals without a fee and only charge for the CEU credits? The info on psych drug withdrawal seems an especially important topic to reach as many of the folks who are suffering and have no other support as you can. Keep in mind that many folks have to taper themselves down without any medical support because they can’t risk the very real possibility that their prescriber could freak out and strip their liberties, and that those who have been compromised the most by the drugs are often on fixed income at the poverty level (disability payments) and cannot afford to pay.

  • Even if they get the concept, Steve, there’s still going to be the question of whether the data is trustworthy. Most folks are intimidated by math as simple as fractions, percents, probability. Statistics is math that’s way too complicated for most people to understand, and people just don’t trust what they can’t grasp. Research is suspect.

  • I think it’s a matter of trust. People trust what they know, what they can observe for themselves or hear second-hand. But aggregate data is too many steps removed, and is subject to so many levels of manipulation there’s no integrity in it. From the outset of a study, the researchers are seeking a particular outcome and make choices that are most likely to yield the desired result. Who do we recruit to participate, and how do we access them? Is there a control group? Are they truly a control group, or are they cold-turkeyed off a drug right before “testing” another? Do effects get reported as stated by the participants, or interpreted (as in suicidality being watered down to “emotional lability”)? And then there are the definitions, and whether the researchers’ idea of a good outcome, of “treatment success” looks remotely like what the participant would consider to be successful. And that’s before we even venture into statistical manipulations! Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, “there’s Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics?” Most people find math as basic as fractions and percentages intimidating- don’t ask them to trust advanced statistics! Personal stories are always going to have more of an impact. Research is dry; stories are juicy. Research is elitist; stories are accessible, people can relate to them, can empathize with them, can trust them. Not so with stats. A voice spouting stats is never going to ring as true as the voice of experience.

  • There was a blog post here quite some time ago- the guy was so flatlined emotionally from his anti-depressant that he found himself frequenting a website that was ultra-violent videos because they actually provoked an emotion in him. He had to go that extreme to feel anything. And there was a discussion section at the website- he found out he was not the only one. And the discussion at the end of the blog post about it, the MiA discussion, had a lot more people echoing that truth: their anti-depressant was an anti-feeling pill. So yeah, what you are experiencing is normal, FeelingD.

  • Thank you so much for sharing that experience! You are so much better off having escaped that cult, and that marriage, before you got in too deep.

    Self-acceptance, why does that seem like such a radical concept to people? Maybe because it doesn’t create the ripeness for control that guilt and shame do. I’m reminded of the father of advertising (John Watson, I wanna say, but attribution is not my strong suit), a psychologist who changed ads from merely product information to a story that creates an emotional need for the product based on the fear of rejection and inadequacy. Create the problem so you can sell them the solution. Ah, but if you refuse to buy into the idea that you have a problem that needs solving, they gotta find another mark.

    And by the way, you did not create the 9/11 massacre when you were six any more than I created the Jonestown massacre when I was seven! How absurd! Reading that, it felt like a tactic for assessing how fully you’d been hooked, and who she needed to bully more thoroughly.

  • I ran out of Reply buttons, so this is in response to kindredspirit:
    Boy are you right about other fields of medicine, especially end-of-life care! Things are only going to get worse with that as now 60% of the hospital beds are in Catholic-doctrine run hospitals, meaning that no matter what the patient’s values, it’s the Bishop’s Directives that dictate care! Forget expecting an advance directive to be honored at these places- they honor that about as much as they honor a woman’s reproductive rights (read: not at all).
    Just as I chose not to entrust a hospital with birth, I will not entrust an institution with my death either. Once my body gives out and life is no longer a joy but a burden, I have no intention of suffering and waiting and depending on professionals to dispense mercy. I will die where and how I choose, comfortably.

  • Hi Steve and kindredspirit,
    After the first baby was born almost 10 lbs., a successfully medication-free birth, my OB moved and I found myself with a new doctor. Throughout the pregnancy, he kept seeming to find one bogus reason or another to suggest a cesarean. And when I made it clear that I was not going to let him do that, he started making threats, and I fired him on the spot. I was 30 weeks along, and decided right then and there that I would rather have an unassisted birth than have him involved AT ALL. The husband went to the library and got books on homebirth that had resources at the back- where to buy birthing kits, how to find midwives, etc. and that was how I found my midwife. She was perfect, very well-trained, and had an OB back-up in place just-in-case. But the most important thing was my body trusted her. This was 30+ years ago, so “birth rape” was not a term, though it was not at all a rare phenomenon, and it was not a risk I was willing to take. Nobody is ever going to bully me into siding with their “expertise” over my body’s own wisdom. Not ever. The second baby was almost as big as the first, and I had not one stitch- no birth trauma whatsoever.

  • I first encountered the term when I was pregnant with my first child, and researching the way that childbirth has been medicalised. Iatrogenic injury is why the US has such a dismal record on childbirth outcomes, business as usual involves many unnecessary interventions (electronic fetal monitoring, labor induction, epidurals) which almost invariably lead to the ultimate intervention: major abdominal surgery. I couldn’t find a midwife to homebirth the first time ’round, but I managed to avoid most of these by refusing the initial unnecessary intervention- an IV line. When I got pregnant the second time, I was even more determined to have a positive, trauma-free birth. I found the perfect midwife, and was tended by her OB nurse friend for the hour it took her to get to my home (she was out of town at a wedding when labor hit strong). It was perfect, and I’m a huge homebirth advocate.

  • Witches, by the way, have not been eradicated. You’re speaking with one. Wiccan training involves accessing and using altered states of consciousness, and is very pertinent to this topic of discussion. Thanks for bringing it up, Fiachra!
    Many of the experiences that psych would label, are indeed essential on that spiritual path. How an individual experiences themselves in the midst of it is very much influenced by the paradigm they look to for clarity. Look to the toxic paradigm of psychiatry and you will be told that these experiences are something to be feared, shunned, fixed. Witches and Shamans will tell you that these same experiences are meaningful, useful, a step towards greater awareness. Hearing a voice others can’t? Depending on the message and the context, you might have just become aware of a spirit guide- perhaps an ancestor, or “guardian angel” (in quotes because Judeo-Christian concepts are not my paradigm, though to many, this explanation would make sense) or totem animal. Witches train to master abilities like scrying: gazing into a focal object to see into the past, to see into the future, or to see into the present moment somewhere far away. What some would call dancing on the edge of madness, we call walking between the worlds. But it starts with self-awareness, and self-discipline: recognizing and owning your energy; containing it; directing it; learning to erect a shield, an energy barrier that keeps unwanted energies out. One of the most important aspects of Wiccan training is discernment: not every spirit that wants access has beneficial intentions, for instance. Many people seeking training are just learning how to open themselves to altered states, but for those who arrive already adept at that skill, the first thing I address is psychic self-defense so that they can be empowered to safely travel those realms.

  • Well that really depends on the nature of the handouts, and who is receiving them, doesn’t it? Corporate welfare is doled out on a Maybe- if we give huge tax breaks to rich corporations, then maybe they will use the funds to create new jobs. Very little oversight, very few hoops to jump through if you’re a corporation with your hand out; no Nanny State for you, it’s just assumed you’ll do the right thing. But if you are an individual who is truly in need, there must be something wrong with you, some moral failing that gives us the right to dictate how you spend “our” money. It all sources back to the Calvinist work ethic, that god reward$ people who are good and punishe$ those who are not. Wealth is seen as proof of morality through this fucked-up lens. How many times I have wished I were born Scandinavian!

  • Tina, once again, Thank You! What you do is invaluable.
    As I was reading this, it occurred to me that this sense of being entitled to control others springs not only from fear that an ‘other’ might not control themselves, but also from this mindset that “if I pay for it, I own it.” I see parallels to food stamps, and “welfare” here in the US. If we had the mindset that supports a basic universal income for all citizens, if a basic standard of living (including decent health care) were the right of every citizen, that would strip away that particular rationale for subjugation. Thoughts?

  • Since psychiatrists love to tout the explanation that “mental illnesses” are just like physical illnesses, I challenged mine about this notion of “symptom reduction” being a good thing this way:
    Okay, so somebody says they are having chest pains. You do NOT tell them to take painkillers for the rest of their life and if the pain is deadened, (i.e. “symptom reduction”) then treatment goals have been met and they are a-ok. You investigate the SOURCE of the pain, because you recognize it is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed; whereas if you just send them off with a drug to numb the pain, the underlying cause is going to get worse, and the heart attack that could have been prevented may well kill them.

  • Stephen Gilbert,
    You are one of the people whose words have been the most valuable and meaningful here. If you do jump ship, I will sorely miss you. Please consider leaving a “forwarding address?”
    I come here and I read, and you and Alex, Steve McCrea, and oldhead and madmom and acidpop and humanbeing and kindred spirit (and others) make me feel less alone.

    The thought of any of you being driven from this home has me crying right now,

  • Thank you so much for explaining that! I must admit to being intrigued and have thought about visiting your site, but was very reluctant to do so for the terminology used here. Additional info changes the picture, so please re-post the link?
    I intend to write my own story here on MiA, but I don’t carve out the time required to do so, and life has been throwing a lot of challenges at my family these last few months that have me feeling spent, so I don’t know when it will be complete and cohesive enough to present. But I will say this for now: I am on a similar journey (there are way more people in my house than there are bodies). But my experience is very like, and very unlike, that of folks who claim the label DID or MPD. I, too, have tried to connect with others with whom I could find community, but I don’t fit and the needs a community might meet for me go unmet. Reading the psych terminology very much puts me off (it is self-preservation to tune out) and I find myself unable to trust those who seem comfortable using those terms, and so, unable to connect. If you are inclined to ditch that vocabulary, I encourage you to do so. Would make you/your story more approachable.
    I have found it liberating to self-define, and refuse to cede that to doctors, therapists, screenwriters, even other Mad folk. I don’t need to wear their shades to see myself, and can’t really be seen by anyone looking through those lenses. My hope for your wife (and more importantly, for her girls) is that they can separate the truth of who they are from the “self/s” others have imposed on them.
    Ok, I feel like we’ve “met” each other a bit, now I’d like to come visit on your turf 🙂

  • Hi samruck2,

    Sometimes I sit with things awhile to have a better understanding of my reactions before speaking. Uprising’s characterization of your comments didn’t feel on-spot to me, but in the middle of that feeling sat some sort of grain-of-truth, so I clicked on your name and went back and read the entirety of your comments, and I think I get it now. I do not see what uprising sees. Please hear that. I understand that you are here expressing your thoughts and feelings relating to this healing journey you are taking with your wife, you’re being real about it, about how hard it’s been. Please know there is room for that. Sometimes the way you express yourself might cast shadows that resemble those that hurt us, and that’s what I heard in uprising’s comment. Reading the exchange, the phrase nothing about us without us kept resounding for me. You use the psychobabble terminology (system, alters, host) even though you’ve expressed clearly that your wife’s girls just wanna be referred to as girls, and even though you’ve expressed clear discomfort of your own using them- one of your comments had “gag” right alongside ‘alters’- so why do you use those terms? To me, it feels disrespectful to do so when the psych terminology doesn’t really seem to sit well with either you or her/them. I find myself wondering how your wife would present herselves, and how different it might be hearing about the journey from their perspective.

  • A few points:

    1. Science only acknowledges as real those things that can be observed and measured. It is rarely acknowledged that this is a fundamental limitation on its authority to deem anything not real. Germs existed before we had microscopes to observe them, radiation existed before geiger counters, etc. Some people are very sensitive, and can detect things others cannot. How many people out there felt an awareness about the US gov’t spying on us all and got labeled paranoid or worse before Edward Snowden’s revelations confirmed their knowledge? Have you ever considered the possibility that their perception is based on more information than yours? That they may be sensitive to things that you are unable to perceive?
    I can sense energy fields/auras around people, and put full faith in my ability to discern certain things about an individual based on their energy. Someone with bad energy is not trustworthy in my world. Period.I have often made this determination upon a greeting handshake, without even a word exchanged. I do not talk myself out of following my intuition, and cannot be swayed by rational arguments. I am more sensitive than most people; that is my truth.

    2. Children often express their knowing with the best vocabulary they have, which is often symbolic. Let’s revisit the example of the child who says they were placed with their family by aliens. Perhaps they were adopted, and though it’s been kept strictly confidential the child feels the truth. Or perhaps the child, though natural-born, does not at all fit in with their family, is a shy quiet bookworm in a family of rambunctious jocks, and aliens is the explanation they have found for this situation and why they feel so different/out-of-place. There are kids who realize they are gay from very early, and others who feel a pervasive sense of “otherness” long before they understand why. I was one of those kids, though gay is just one facet of my “otherness.” Take them literally and you not only miss a precious opportunity for deep understanding, but you damage their trust in their own intuition.

    Rev. Dr. Epperson wrote in a previous essay here on MiA about a young woman in the hospital who would not interact with anyone, but would only lay under her bed and claim to be a fish. A young man decided to be with her “where she’s at” and laid under the other bed, facing her, and only said “glub glub” and this went on for a bit, until the woman felt safe enough to share with him (a fellow fish) the atrocious thing she witnessed that made her so distrustful of humanity that she decided to be a fish. By entering her aquarium, he was able to help her build a sense of trust in some humans again, and she was able to heal. Your approach would not.

  • There are also folks like me, whose melatonin system is outta whack somehow. I do not say this because of anything a Dr put together. I recognized a seasonal pattern to my life- winters were way hard emotionally, I had low energy, craved sleep and carbs. I was a journal-er, so it was easy to go back and read and confirm. And I happened to read an article about this very phenomenon happening in northern latitude regions. The theory was that sunlight taken in through the eyes triggers a waking response in the brain, signaling us to slack off the melatonin production because dawn is breaking and it’s time to get up. If there’s not enough sun to trigger this response, the melatonin production doesn’t slack off enough. The solution is very bright full-spectrum light, which you can switch on and read your morning paper by, or a dawn simulator that wakes you up with light, soft at first and gradually full intensity. Light therapy worked for me! This is the one and only brain chemical imbalance that I claim, but I do claim it because it rings true in my center, that place of wisdom that knows what’s what. And it makes total sense because my eyes have always been very photo-sensitive; ever since I was a kid I squinted.

  • I watched the whole thing, and it’s not easy, especially the last 2 episodes. But it is very worthwhile, and I am very grateful they portrayed everything the way they did. In that way, it was like watching Schindler’s List: bearing witness. It is not supposed to be easy, or comfortable.


    I felt a kinship with Hannah, and with Skye, and somewhat with Clay and Tony. Hannah made several attempts to hang on to living. Each time a door closed, she tried to find a window. She tried the old adage that to have a friend you have to be a friend, continuing to have compassion for the closeted girl even after the girl spread more slut rumors about her. How many times can a vulnerable person get kicked in the gut before they stop trying to get on their feet again? She finds herself trapped in her parents’ disappointment when her mother refuses her offer of restitution for the bank deposit she lost, blocking her only avenue of making things better. Hannah’s last effort (school counselor) caused exponential harm to her situation, so where to turn? I was glad they depicted that there are real risks to turning to the official “helpers.” Jessica sums it up great when Clay asks if she needs to see somebody, “Who? Did you listen to the last tape? Do you know what happens to girls who try to get help?”

    I can’t help but wonder whether Hannah might have noticed the support the adult members of the poetry club were poised to offer if she had encountered the librarian before the school counselor. Even though she had attended the club only briefly, Hannah definitely made an impression. “We’ve missed you at the group- Linda even wrote a poem about it” felt like the possibility of a lifeline, but Hannah was already too battered, too betrayed to feel the possibility there for understanding, support, love. She had no trust left after the counselor’s victim-blaming misogynist assumptions over-wrote her story before she could even tell it. She had already experienced the catharsis that recording the tapes brought, and writing might have “bled off” enough of the toxic emotions of the moment to get her through the rest of high school. It was that feeling of catharsis that gave her the glimmer of hope to attempt to keep living. If she had entrusted that spark of hope to the Lindas in her world instead of the Official Helper, she might have had a chance.

    Throughout the series, we see Clay being torn up by Hannah’s pain as he goes through the ordeals with her via the tapes. One of the best scenes, that conveys the best support, is toward the end, when Clay reaches out to Skye and asks if they can hang out sometime, like now. She asks if he’s okay, and their exchange is perfect: “No. Is that alright?” And Skye replies that yeah, that’s alright. That’s the message we all need when we are Not Okay: it’s alright that you’re not okay, I will be with you as you are.

  • Here’s a fine HIIPA story for you, Steven. The last time I interacted with psychiatry was about a dozen years ago, give or take, but HIIPA was in effect at the time:
    I’d gotten the call that one of my parents was dying, and made the trek back to my hometown, where deathbed admissions were made and family skeletons tumbled from the closet, confirming memories I’d had of incest. They ended up slipping into a coma but woke after a few weeks. The whole experience shook me to the core, and the standard 3-day bereavement leave was nowhere near enough time off work to integrate everything that happened. Even though I had been working with an MFT for awhile, the insurance required an MD to sign off on the time off. Kaiser assigned a psychiatrist that seemed to be sufficient, but after a couple of appointments with him, he suddenly became unavailable (but they always assured he’d be back in a week or two), and no matter which psych-du-jour it was that was filling in for him would only write me a 2-week extension. Having to address my situation with a new person every 2 weeks made healing impossible, and when I got fed up and demanded to be assigned to a doctor who was actually there to do the job, his boss got exasperated with me and said “Cut the guy some slack, he’s depressed!” This was the guy just beneath the head of the department, and REALLY should have known better! I lit into him: Did DR. Depressed give you written permission to disclose that to one of HIS PATIENTS?! I rather doubt that. And you don’t even know me! You have no idea how that info will be received by me, or what I might do with it. I’d call that reckless disregard for his emotional well-being AND mine!” The next call I got was from the dep’t head, who gladly signed off on the 8 months’ leave that an independent eval suggested. I was too twisted up by it all to follow through on my intention of reporting him to the AMA, APA, medical licensing board, etc.

  • I’m not good at attributing quotes, so I’m not sure who said this, but it was something like:
    “if you see me struggle, and want to help me, no. But if you see that your struggle and mine are bound together, we should join forces.”
    Whatever the exact wording was, the message speaks to the fact that too many “helpers” are on an ego trip that makes them think they are better, smarter, more evolved than those poor unfortunate souls they are “helping.” This mindset puts everyone on an equal footing, instead of one-up, one-down. You should find the quote, and put it in your lecture.

  • Personally, I just find it appalling that it is anyone other than the PATIENT making their OWN life-and-death decisions based on their OWN values, regardless of which way that pendulum swings. That anybody would ever feel so entitled to impose their own ethical values on another’s Most Fundamental Choice (to live or to die) just offends me to the core!
    I am very different from the mainstream, in many fundamental ways, and I never want anybody assuming anything about what it is I want. They’d almost always get it wrong. If you assume I’d want mustard on my sandwich or peppers on my pizza, I live with a temporary condition of discomfort: I go without a meal, I get hungry, maybe grumpy. No big deal in the long run. But if you assume that I’d want to fight through terrible pain/trauma/debilitation and keep on living, you’d be Dead Wrong, but I’d be the one stuck with the consequences. If you assume I’d be okay sacrificing my ability to sing in order to keep on breathing (or breathing via machine, for even one minute), you’d be Dead Wrong. If you assume I’d accept a transfusion of someone else’s blood in my veins for any reason, you’d be Dead Wrong.
    Now, turn the tables: think about how you would feel if I were an MD and felt entitled to decide YOUR care based upon MY personal values. Really sit with that scenario.

  • To me, the scary thing about all these Catholic hospital buys (6 in 10 hospital beds in the US!) is the fact that the healthcare you will receive can go directly against your own values because it is the Bishops’ Directives making the choices. There’s lots of talk about sex (contraception, abortion) but what about death? Advance directives don’t mean shit to the bishops making your decisions once you are in their beds.

  • Sharing LSD stories? I only have one, but it’s a good one. Was 1990-ish and I was at my favorite dance club with friends. I knew it was coming on when the neon flamingo hanging on the wall started dancing too! We went back to my house, laughter sitting on the porch roof, hilarity when somebody came with pizza dough they had dumpster-dived and we played with it like pulling taffy. Very good times. At some point though I decide that it’s time to get some sleep. I lay down and close my eyes but sleep will not come, so I gaze out the window and the street light captures my attention- so beautiful, the rainbow halo effect that surrounds the glowing source. And the motion of the bugs around it is mesmerizing, and they get bigger, become butterflies, and one especially gets bigger and more majestic in its winged beauty as it flies away from the light. I am transfixed, even as I watch it changing, growing darker and larger the closer it gets. It is the grim reaper by the time it approaches the window, and it taps on the glass with the tip of its scythe. And I laugh, wag my finger and say something to the effect of “go back to the light, you silly butterfly!” It made me laugh, and I shifted into this dual-perspective place where I was able to have the experience and be in it, but also aware of it being a chemically-induced thing, and thinking observational thoughts. And I think I might have been coming down a bit by then because sleep came maybe an hour after. I really enjoyed it, all of it. Next time I would have better snacks around (we had potato chips and cream soda), and art supplies on hand, tactile stuff and colors and glue. When the cream soda spilled up on the roof, I remember tracing patterns in it with my fingers, watching the light play off the wetness.

    For me, there is important transformative work in those places, that is best done when I have something I can destroy and then create from. I didn’t know that at the time. I was 20-something; I thought I was just taking drugs. Now I know there’s no such thing.

  • I don’t have any answers for you, Robert, wish I did. But I couldn’t have the only response to your plea be a scam pitch (why do those keep popping up here?!) and just wanted to say stuff you already know, I’m sure: you are not alone, so many of us doing better but not doing okay enough. I feel you. Me too. And anybody who wants you to shell out $300/mo on supplements through them, that screams of exploitation of your vulnerable state and desire to heal, and I find that repugnant. I wish you healing, with plenty of discernment along the way, same wish I have for me.

  • Alex- I did as you suggested and emailed Hana asking her to forward my info to you, but have not heard anything back. I, too, value my privacy, and don’t have any contact info that’s for public consumption I could just post here. But it has taken me quite awhile to take this step of reaching out to you, time to ride the seesaw of need vs. risk (heart-trust being the fulcrum it balances upon), and then once decided, time to gather my courage to actually express that need. And now that I’ve done so I’m eager-bordering-anxious to get on with the process and communicate directly with you.
    I’m wondering whether it would get a quicker response if I hit the “Report comment” button for this comment, just to get the attention of any MiA moderator with the ability to help me with this? They can reply to this comment and let me know to email my info to them, perhaps be on the lookout for it.

  • Alex, can I please reach out to you to converse privately? You’ve put your heart energy out often here in these pages, and I feel a level of trust and understanding with you. I am very vulnerable and do not trust easily, but I need to trust someone and my heart feels you are trustworthy enough to take the risk.

  • Wow! Is that all in the court transcript? Because it seems like there ought to be some way to appeal this. It’s just so Wrong. Have you contacted Tina Minkowitz (one of the authors here)? She has a law degree- I just have empathy.

  • That’s the first time anyone’s asked me that! Lavender is my color- I experience my personal aura field that way, and unless I am experiencing distress that changes it, that is the color others (who can sense these energy fields) perceive my aura as well. Sage is my favorite smudge for clearing and aligning energy, the scent of burning white sage is always significant for me in dreams– it feels like an ancestral connection, a way of my own ancestors getting my attention, the ancestors who were herbalist/shamans. So I guess LavenderSage represents the me I can stand in when I am healthy, balanced, confidently walking my path. LavenderSage is she who I am and yet aspire to be, me without the clutter of ego-struggles and pity parties.

  • I wish there had been someone there at the time that she would have allowed to “interview” her about it! I wanted to hear all about it! But from the very beginning she was not apt to entertain others’ curiosity, not a people-pleaser type, so there was no pumping her for info! She was invested in a shared memory, and once she realized I could not give her that, the experience was over for her– kaput!– despite my piqued curiosity. “Move along, nothing more to see here…” became her position.

  • Oh, I’ve never felt punished by this hard life. Frankly, no child could do anything to deserve what I endured. I got sent to a Baptist private school in 3rd grade to avoid being bussed across town when desegregation was imposed. I was being raised by racists grandparents at the time, racial tensions were high and they said they feared for my safety. Hellfire and brimstone, and the God described in the Bible, always felt incongruous with anything I experienced as divine. I find my spiritual connection in the heart of nature, the awe I feel in the presence of the ocean, the greensong heartbeat of the forests. I’ve no use for an adolescent “God” who keeps score.

    No, I was just making a karma joke. See, I’m the kind of person who, when I feel “thumped” by the Universe, will do a u-turn and pick up the hitch-hiking hippie couple with the rambunctious dog. And when the couple was unable to reach the family member they were heading to stay with and said we could drop them off just anywhere in Berkeley, same “thump” says they’d be in mortal danger if we did that, and we took them home and put them up in our spare bedroom for the night. Sent them on their way in the morning, well-fed. I just mean I’ve answered the call so many times, I’ve banked a lot of good credit, I can afford to deduct some of the interest! 🙂

  • Thank you! I have many stories that I rarely tell because they are likely to be judged as weird or impossible. I cherish those memories and only share them when I feel safe to do so. I’ve been letting some of them trickle out here, because I feel connections here, I feel received and honored by particular folks here (hugs to Alex, for instance), and as I do so I feel a surging desire to share more. Pacing myself is a good thing, I have to remind myself, because it feels so good to be my authentic self. I have much to offer, but also much to learn and digest from these kindred spirits, and am trying to leave space in me to do both, if that makes sense.

  • Getting vulnerable here: I think it also made me cry because I had never realized there were old souls here for that purpose– helpers to those of us who took the heat this time ’round. It hit me hard that I need those helpers in my life; this past year-ish has been particularly hard. I am open and ready to receive that kind of support in my life. I’ve certainly racked up the karma points to deserve it!

  • Another past-life story, this one from my daughter.

    When she was about 2 or 3 years old, she was trying to get me to recollect an incident she remembered very vividly. It was a visit to the state fair and she described seeing livestock and riding rides, and insisted that we had gone to the fair with my brother when she was a baby. I wracked my brain trying to think of a time that this might even have been possible, because there had been very little contact with my brother, who lived far away. He had stayed with us when she was a baby, but only for a month or two, and it wasn’t during the summer when fairs take place. She was getting pretty frustrated with me for not recalling it, and I apologized to her “I’m sorry, C, but mommy just doesn’t remember that.” And then her exasperated reply: “Not when I was C! When I was a baby before.” And then it dawned on me, and I asked “Before you were C? Did you have a different name before? (she nods hard, like I’m finally understanding) I bet you had a different mommy then too, maybe that’s why I don’t remember?” And she says “Oh! Yeah! That’s why you don’t remember it. You weren’t there.” And now she had me so freakin’ curious! I wanted to know more! But once she realized that there was no way I was gonna remember she completely dismissed me and went back to playing with her toys.

  • Thank you, Kjetil, for an awesome article! The thoughts you enumerated rang true for me, as well. All except one, and it made me cry:

    Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones.

    I am one of those old souls, lived countless lives. I remember several past lives, some in great detail and some just vague snippets of memories and whiffs of who I was in that time. I have encountered people I knew before, and shared a mutual sense of recognition. Sometimes those shared experiences help clarify the knowledge of who I was but what is more helpful is when I gain an understanding of the why, the purpose of that lifetime. I can tell you that past life traumas carry over, and it is important to understand when something in the here/now is triggering past life issues. I know, for instance, that my complete intolerance for what I call “intentional mis-understanding” (someone twisting my words and using them against me for their own agenda) stems from my death as a lawyer in the French Revolution. I was beheaded by the very people I had been advocating for, and the betrayal I experienced still stings to this day when I am in a situation that evokes those feelings. I know I am still working on healing his wounds.

    But the reason your words made me cry was that although I have known and accepted that I’ve chosen hard lives, I don’t think I ever realized that I could choose this: Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones. I’ve never considered that, never felt permission to approach a lifetime in that way. That insight was such a profound gift, Kjetil. Thank you.

  • I *do* actually! But not as much as when I was younger, when I was much more open just in general than I am now. Before I learned to shield and discern, I would sometimes feel “overtaken” (maybe not the right word, a little too strong a word, but close) by the experience. And my life was not what it is now, not so many petty details constraining me to this consensual reality. But I still channel very easily when reading Tarot, as I’ve trained my psyche that that’s the appropriate environment to flow free in that way (not unlike the way our bodies are primed to open and release when we sit on the potty, all the cues are there). I also do get messages from ancestors, and they tend to be very insistent until the message is delivered. I am one of those old souls, and definitely chose a service path for this lifetime, and not an easy one. But I truly have no regrets about that. It’s not a lifetime of ease that puts one in the shaman’s cave, dancing the energy between the worlds. I heed the call; I deliver the messages. I’ve never feared doing so in this lifetime.

  • Okay, I will.

    I grew up in the way back, LOL, before cell phones and GPS and whatnot. When I was 14, living with my mother and younger siblings, my sister got sick and spiked a dangerously high fever. Picture of poverty: living very rural in a house with running water and electric but no phone and no neighbors near enough help. Tylenol didn’t touch it, and what ice we had on hand went very quickly. I could see by the look in my mother’s eyes that she was very scared (this from a woman who is very hard to shake) and I knew it was getting dire. I have no idea to this day what came over me, but I rushed into the kitchen, grabbed several large onions and gave them a quick rough-chop, not even bothering to peel the skins. Found a plastic bag and dumped them in, brought it back to the couch where my sister was laid out, my mother cooling her head as much as possible with wet cloths. I got very directive: “Quick now! Get those shoes and socks off her and get her feet in the onions! Get that fire outta the child’s head!” Her fever was 104? 105 by that time, and she was very close to febrile seizure. But, miraculously?, those onions did the trick– pulled that fever right out of her head, and down into her feet, the onions sweated and limp, her feet afire but her forehead cooled almost immediately once her feet were smothered in onions. After the danger had passed and we had a moment to reflect, my mother told me she heard her grandmother’s voice telling her through me what to do when I got all directive with the onions. They tell me I met her once, as an infant, but I have no recollection of her whatsoever.

    That’s one story. I’ll leave others, one per comment per your request so as not to extend into “read more…” territory 🙂

  • Yup. I too have stories from my MSW training that made me really hope these folks don’t get the credentials that will allow them to harm the vulnerable people desperate for help. And horror stories of my own as a client. And then I had my perfect therapy support, Catherine. 17 years she was the person I could tell anything, show everything, without being pathologized. But she closed her practice last year, and I told her when she did that there wouldn’t be a next one so keep the referrals. It took me years to really trust her and be completely vulnerable. Years of her proving consistently that she was worthy of hearing the stories at the core of the damage, of her letting me read my file whenever I asked, years of dwelling in her unconditional positive regard for me 2 hours a week, is the path it took to get to where the healing could begin. Because my trust had been so very damaged, first by my family and the family doctor, then by teachers and classmates and religion, then by men, and then by the “mental health” system.

  • You’ve hit the nail on the head right there, madmom. They’ve got the monopoly. There are some caring and competent therapists out there, but they either get paid by you out-of-pocket, or they assign you a billing code (i.e. dx) in order to get paid through the system. Some check out of the economics of it completely by offering a sliding scale or barter, but they are such rare gems to find. And the support they can offer doing that tends to be inadequate to meet the needs of people who are actively in crisis. We have to divert the funding streams away from what harms, and find a way to channel it to those who do the real healing, or to improving the conditions in our society that are intolerable and drive us mad.

  • Thank you! I was thinking the same thing about that phrase “While medication may have role to play in alleviation of symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity”

    Why do so many of the articles I read here, that are otherwise hopeful, include concession language about the drugs? Why do the authors feel the need to give the drugs a nod at all? I really don’t understand this.

  • There is a really excellent book I read awhile back: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. She lists many physical ailments/symptoms along with attitudes and personal outlooks they seem correlated with. Often (though not always) when I am experiencing something physically, and look it up, the corresponding attitude rings true. When that’s the case, changing my attitude/outlook often clears up the issue significantly. Sometimes pain and ailments are happening for you, not just to you.

  • About loss of boundaries, taking on others’ energies: I experienced this as a side effect (somebody suggest a better term- oldhead? Frank? help me out here) of the drug Effexor. I basically could not maintain energy shields that, as an energy empath, I rely on. Without that drug in my system, energy maintenance was something I kind of just did throughout the day without really thinking about it. But under influence of Effexor, I constantly felt misunderstood by and in conflict with the people in my life. I did not recognize that my ability to shield had been compromised to the point of not being able to distinguish my own emotions and energies from those of people around me. It was only after withdrawal (vertigo from hell!) that I came to understand what I had been experiencing.

  • When I have a lot to say on a subject, I sometimes mull it over for a bit before expressing myself. I do have a lot of thoughts on the topic of forgiveness. Alex mentioned something about people having different internal definitions of words, and I know for me the visceral reaction to “forgive” has changed (somewhat, but it really depends on the context). Children are taught very early to rotely offer apologies they don’t mean– you can almost hear an echo of “say you’re sorry!” right now, I bet. Even as a kid, I thought that was a crock, and refused to accept bogus apologies. It’s either sincere, or it’s an insult, frankly. So my first concept of forgiveness sprung from that, and was something I wanted no part in. Later down the line, I encountered a different concept of forgiveness. It goes something like this: Somebody has wronged you, and this act has created emotional baggage. You can carry it around with you, dwelling on it, essentially dragging it around with you, or you can drop it off in their corner and let the consequences be theirs. But here’s the catch- you have to walk away and not look back to check and see how the consequences play out for them; you have to quit being emotionally invested in any particular outcome. For me, that still feels like relinquishing my claim on some justice for the one wronged. The wronged deserve justice! So, yeah, if that is what forgiveness is, it’s still not my cup of tea. Accountability is.

    So here’s how I define accountability: you must account for your actions and your intentions, up to the limits of your ability. So in these instances where folks committed crimes because they were placed on an Rx that created a situation beyond their control, in my view they should not be held to account for that. Behaving better in that situation was beyond their ability. Each person is operating out of their own set of resources and challenges, which fluctuate for everyone but more so for some of us. I will not be held to account for what is beyond my ability, and I cannot hold others to account for what is beyond theirs. And often, the more you know, the picture of the situation changes. So add Understanding to the list next to Accountability.
    I have a personal example. About a month before I turned 12, I found myself living in a new family: my mother, her boyfriend of 3 years, and my younger half-siblings (brother, sister). How this came about is a different tale for a different time. These were not his children, but he was Dad to them and shortly to me as well, a welcome change for me since I had never bonded with my own father. Picture family life: county fair, swap meets, demolition derby (nosebleed seats but who cares?!), backyard garden and BBQs. Then one night, a few months before my 13th birthday, my mother walks into my bedroom late at night to find her boyfriend naked in my bed and touching me. I remember her turning on the light, and then almost immediately turning it off and walking out of the room. He followed her, grabbing clothes on the way out and trying to say something to her, I don’t know what. Memory of that night gets hazy after that flash of light, but I remember very well up to that point. Nothing in his demeanor had been predatory. No, he was being like a trusted friend, a confidante, a mentor. He expressed interest in my life, my friendships; he listened. He was being very open, very real, no canned adult responses. We were talking about school, boys. He asked if there was anything I wanted to know about guys, about sex. He said that in a family, mothers teach sons and fathers teach daughters. That made sense to me. I didn’t even question it. (I would come to understand why decades later in a conversation with my aunt, who confirmed a pattern of intergenerational incest in my father’s family, and disclosed that I had been molested as an infant by his parents. Again, another tale for another time.) My mother grilled me the next day about what had happened and I told her what he had said. She twisted things into some weird Freudian knot, pathologizing my reaction of trusting him. Something along the lines of “If he’s like a father to you, you must be really fucked up to want to fuck your own father.” Her story was that I seduced him. She was awful to me, psychologically cruel and physically abusive, for the next to years, until I escaped the situation. But an interesting thing happened when I was 14: my mother’s parents drove out to visit. They didn’t stay long, and she had not one good thing to say about me to them, but their visit stirred memories in her that she had long buried and I became her confidante. Horrible, horrible memories of things her father had done to her, her sister, her brothers. She told of being raped at age 4, and being blamed, and how the beating that followed almost killed her. And that story of hers changed the picture of my story, of why she reacted the way she did. Having the context did not change how wrong she was in treating me the way she did, but it explained the why of it, and that made it easier to bear. Given her history, she could not fathom that it could be his fault. The man was never to blame, the woman/girl always was. And somehow, she had never challenged that. She was operating out of her own trauma, creating trauma for me. But having the fuller picture helped me understand the limits of her accountability for reacting that way.

  • I still feel angry sometimes. Sometimes it’s debilitating. Sometimes it fuels me.

    I have learned that in my own emotional world, the purpose of anger is action. That’s why my anger feels like fire- because its purpose is to fuel change. I get angry because something is wrong and needs to be changed. When I feel my anger instead of trying to tamp it down, I have clarity about what I need to address and change in my interaction with my world, and the physical experience of the anger fuels my ability to take action. Anger demands action, in fact, and if the changes needed are physical (re-arranging a room so that the processes that happen there can flow more functionally, for example), that’s great! But often the changes are to do with interpersonal relations, I still have to use up the energy or I experience a crash (that can easily and erroneously get labeled “depression”) and feel the need to retreat from the situation instead of dealing with it, which takes guts. Same thing happens if I subvert the anger experience entirely by tamping it down in the first place. I try to remind myself of this essential truth in the moment, and at least use the energy to scrub something that needs it– bathtub, oven, kitchen floor, whatever– even if I know I don’t have the guts to take on the big life changes that I know the anger is trying to demand. But that’s still only a temporary fix, until the situation shows its imbalance and creates more anger for me to change it!

    Anyway, that’s how anger works in my world, in case anyone finds that perspective useful.

  • I just love you, madmom. You are very wise, you measure your words carefully. I hate that you have to tiptoe through the system, but I’m glad you’ve educated yourself and are able to balance your emotions (for having your loved one be caught up in, and at the mercy of the system certainly engenders a whole rainbow of lovely emotions like fear, frustration, anger/rage, injustice, helplessness…) with your knowledge of how the system operates to prevent bad from getting worse. You are right; they would use it against you. They twist and pathologize; it’s what they do, and you are wise to acknowledge and remember that.

  • I’m so sorry you went through that. Trauma, particularly sexual trauma, is so often the root of emotional distress that sends people to seek help. You can’t expect a child who has been raped repeatedly to not suffer injuries to their sense of self, to their ability to trust and feel a basic sense of safety. That’d be like dunking a book repeatedly in a pot of soup and expect the pages to remain flat, readable. Books should not be subjected to dunking, and dunked books sustain water damage. Why people cannot see that it’s the trauma that’s the source of the damage is beyond me. It’s still your book, still your story to write. Just know you aren’t alone. There’s a whole library of smeared and ruffled pages out here.

  • That’s why I have never conceded to anyone else the power of defining my experience, my truth. People should have an understanding of the power differential they are expected to buy into when they “seek help,” and be very clear within themselves what is helpful and what is decidedly unhelpful for them in their situation. A pregnant woman who wants a natural birth should avoid an obstetrician with a high c-rate, for instance, and consider turning to a midwife.

    Surgeons cut, the lens they see you through casts the shadow of a scalpel. Psychiatrists pathologize and prescribe, and everything you tell them will be viewed through that particular warped/dirty lens. Understand that.

    I, personally, accept that a certain degree of interdependence is simply part of the human equation: there are things that an individual cannot accomplish for themselves, by themselves. Humans need one another, and there is no shame to being in need of help. But it has been my experience too often in seeking emotional help, that simply by virtue of needing help with emotional/interpersonal issues, my ability to define what help is best for me, i.e. my basic right to self-determination, can be called into question. Those in “helping professions” assume an entitlement to be the one who defines what help is needed. It is inherent in the relationship, and is one of the most toxic “flies in the ointment.” You can’t even trust me to know what I need, but you expect me to entrust you with my vulnerable, emotionally injured self? No way.

    I’m reminded of a quote (I might have read it here) that goes something like, “If you are here to help me, I have no use for that. But if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, let us work together.” I might have mangled that; if so, feel free to correct me/it.

  • I found myself reflecting on several things as I read this post, so I’m going to remark on them before I read the comment section, which will certainly inspire other thoughts/reflections.

    About the antidote being inclusion: I’m reminded of 2 elementary schoolteachers in the ’70s who decided to do a bit of social engineering for the common good. I don’t remember their names, but will never forget the lessons. One taught her class (2nd graders, maybe 3rd?) about discrimination by segregating the class according to eye color Brown eyes vs. Blue/Green/Hazel. The first day, one group was made to wear a felt collar indicator (more visible) and told that people with that color eyes were inferior (less smart, less moral, less worthy, etc.) and they would not be permitted the privileges that the other eye group received. The teacher reinforced these notions throughout the day, and the othered eye group was miserable. The next day, they changed places. So every single child had their turn at experiencing what it was like to be subjected to institutional and personal discrimination. The next day was spent with the whole class discussing how silly and arbitrary it was to attribute characteristics to a group of people based on their eye color, and the feelings it engendered for the children as they were subjected to it, and how it felt to reinforce superiority when they were the ones “on top.” All the children decided it was just as wrong to judge people based on skin color, and they delighted in throwing the felt collars into the trash bin. The other incident wasn’t laid out like an experiment, but was an edict instead: you can’t say “You can’t play.” Nobody is allowed to exclude anyone else.

    About Fear: it is the currency of authoritarians. I’m reminded of a documentary I recently saw called The Brainwashing of My Dad, about Fox News’ use of fear and flashing visuals.

    About being an “expert by experience,” we are in excellent company. I was reminded of Jane Goodall, and of Temple Grandin. I echo your wish “for lived experience to be valued as a credential.” I know many here at MiA feel a yearning for that validation as well, by sentiments expressed in the comments.

    About the “hidden recovered” and the need to be Exceptionally Okay and Thriving: I know I experience a sense of having to always put my best foot forward. I cannot trust others to adjust their assessment of my capability as my resources and challenges wax and wane. I do not want to be dismissed, discounted, diminished by the limitations of someone else’s ability to see beyond their own issues. I’m talking about the kind of people who take issue with Sera Davidow’s barefooted-ness, that type. I truly think they are jealous of the freedom we express when we dare to be our true selves; when who we are will not fit the box those folks have defined as “societal norms,” and we dare to be okay with that. We are brazen enough to challenge the notion that we are what is unacceptable in the scenario; we see that it is the box that has limitations, not us. How dare we be free when they keep re-inventing one-size-fits-all! I, personally, have always felt pride in the ability to challenge the norms. Powers-that-be can get very threatened by that, depending in part on their personal sense of insecurity, which underlies their desperate need to be recognized as an authority. There simply is no more legitimate an authority than one’s own personal experience. Ask Jane; ask Temple.

    About coming out of the closet: I’ve done that, a lot. I’m Bisexual; I’m Polyamorous; I’m Pagan. And just to look at me, I pass as just another default. I’ve learned that unless I declare otherwise, people assume about me what most people assume about most people. Until they see me with my wife; then they assume I’m Lesbian instead of assuming I’m straight. I am one of those people, though, who’s magnetic– in the sense that people tend to be pretty immediately either attracted/repelled by me. Or, another apt description: I’m like cilantro; people either love me or hate me. I get that, and it weeds out some folks right away (good riddance to ya!) but from there it is a choice of how much real me I reveal. I learned in college that it can be fun to wait awhile before challenging their assumptions. If someone has assumed about my spirituality, for instance, it might not come up for awhile, long enough for a comfortable rapport/friendship to have developed between us. So then when they ask what I’m doing for Halloween and I answer that I’m a Witch and I will be hosting the Circle for my coven and all our ancestors, that’s a conversation where they get the chance to be curious & ask questions, and I get the chance to disabuse them of erroneous notions about what Witches are and what we do.

    About the APA: Was it the late ’60s? early ’70s maybe? where the gay psychiatrist came to the convention wearing a paper bag over his face because he needed to keep his anonymity while challenging the designation of homosexuality as a mental disorder? I’m reminded of that. We need a whole panel of APA members with bags on their heads so they are free to reveal their madness journeys to the entire body of members at the convention. And NASW members at their convention too, for that matter. In the meantime, please post a link to your study/article when it is published because I’d love to read it.

    So those are my ponderings for now.

  • Daisy Valley,

    Sarah is suggesting that people who are experiencing crises should not be forced against their will into a setting where they would feel more threatened than whatever their present situation (not necessarily “on the streets,” as you assume). Did you read her blog? Have you read the responses by people who were subjected to the dehumanizing experiences that are inherent in forced incarceration? What makes you think someone experiencing “psychotic mania” is less vulnerable in that setting than wherever they’d choose to be? How safe is it to be locked in with people who have total control of you, refuse to recognize — let alone respect– your basic human rights, violate your bodily autonomy at will, for as long as they say so? Do you have the capacity to empathize with those who’ve had exactly that experience? Walk a mile in those moccasins and see how quick you are to advocate “forced incarceration.”

  • I concur with your assessment, oldhead, which is why I have kept silent as the level of provocation continues to rise, the idea being that engagement feeds the trolls. But I think that was the wrong stance for me to take on this. I won’t be engaging that troll, but I shall be engaging the MiA staff to step up and enforce so that those of us who treasure this community as a safe haven can continue to do so. Thank you for saying things here that made me challenge my reaction to this provocateur.

  • I doubt it. They put him on this crap when he was FIVE, for behavior control, and he apparently started growing breasts a year later. So yeah, they took him off this particular toxin. But the parents, and doctor, that thought it was a good idea to put a five-year-old on an antipsychotic are not likely to scrap their notion that “medicating” his behavior is the appropriate reaction to it. Usually, they tell themselves that though that particular drug had a bad “side effect” they should stay the course and keep trying different psych drugs until they find the “right one.”

  • May the surgery have the desired effect (or better than!) and may you heal well and quickly!

    Also, I checked out your page about creative maladjustment week and I love it! I want to celebrate, probably in small ways, hopefully with friends! An excuse to celebrate embracing the different, the quirky, the tellers of the twisted truths? Sign me up! Perhaps I will spend a day wearing a pair of fairy wings (I make those) while I run errands. I love the idea of guerilla kindness (and gorilla kindness, why not?), leaving handmade notes to uplift, inspire, or ‘make you go hmm’ in places for strangers — and also myself, and my wife — to find. Maybe I will host a Mad Hatter Tea potluck, and serve tie-dye cake! Ah, the possibilities!

  • Thank you for posting this on MiA.

    Please everyone, contact your “representative” (why the quotes? Because I’ve never once had a “representative” in government who even comes close to representing me) and urge them to reject this dangerous attack on our civil rights!

    We can gripe to each other until we are blue in the face, but that doesn’t accomplish anything. We don’t get a vote on this, we have to rely on these elected officials to vote on our behalf (ugh!) so let’s make sure they understand how we feel, and what is at stake.

  • Upon re-reading, I realized this sounds perhaps judgemental: “That uneasy feeling is something we used to call “women’s intuition” and if it got the respect it deserves, instead of being brushed aside as dumb or crazy, she would have had the sense to act on it.”

    That was not my intention, so please allow me to clarify:
    Ever since the Enlightenment, we have been taught to elevate Science (that which can be observed and measured with the physical senses) far above Mysticism (that which cannot be observed and measured). We’ve been taught that knowledge is solely the monopoly of Science. Any claim of knowing that is based on the unseen is scoffed at as superstition, or pathologized as madness. Only with the advent of technology that allowed for observations at the quantum level did scientists begin to question this basic underlying assumption, and we now know, for instance, that the mere attention we pay in the act of observing changes the outcome. But we have all bought into this idea that scientific knowledge, gained by controlling the variables and testing the hypotheses, is inherently valid whereas other ways of knowing are inherently dubious.

    Now, my dear mother started out with such a lot in life that she did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being deemed as an average, normal person. Being on the fringe of society was where she would always reside, unless she was willing to completely subsume/sacrifice so much of herself that she would have little to no authenticity left. She was always unable and/or unwilling to do that. (For that alone, she is my hero!) She accepted her role as Other, embraced it even. She scoffs at Normal, sees through the saran wrap the emperor calls clothes in a lot of ways, and refuses to abandon or adjust those parts of her that mark her as an outcast.

    I’ve read quite a few of your posts (you being one of my favorite authors on this site, I’ve gone back into the archives to read more) and your mother sounds pretty normal. Our society, the way girls are trained to be gracious, makes it a rare exception that a woman would pay any attention to the things that give her “that uneasy feeling” let alone know how to open that channel to inner knowledge, and interpret the feeling and act on it. Left-brain, rational thinking rules supreme. But to negate the other ways of knowing sets us up for such dysfunctional imbalance, and denies us the benefit of our intuition, which I believe is our birthright as women.

  • Your mother knew, Sera. Not cognitively, perhaps. But on a gut level, she knew. The way he touched your hair made her uneasy.

    That uneasy feeling is something we used to call “women’s intuition” and if it got the respect it deserves, instead of being brushed aside as dumb or crazy, she would have had the sense to act on it. My own mother is such a mixed bag– she did a lot of damage to her children, given the upbringing she’d had to work with, but she never let *anyone* dismiss her intuitions and she never dismissed ours, either. Some of the things she taught me about being a woman were really messed up (!!) but she made certain I understood my intuition, how to recognize its messages, and most important, to ALWAYS respect it. She explained that it is encoded in our earliest DNA, from the time before our lunking brains created societies that told us to disregard/conquer our baser instincts, when we knew we were part of the food chain, and had to be keenly aware of danger. That first whiff of danger doesn’t come from the nose, it comes from within– that uneasy feeling– that makes us pay closer attention to what is going on around us. She didn’t discount my brother’s intuition, either. But she felt women have a stronger innate sense of it, likely due to the increased danger pregnancy presents. She taught us to use our intuition, to respect it, and to not be dissuaded by others who don’t have respect for theirs. I wish all mothers did this– planted a seed of confidence in the innate ways of knowing that we all possess but have been talked out of by ‘authorities’ who assure us we are wrong and they are right.

    Please, mothers, teach your daughters to truly value themselves as women, not just their women’s bodies, but their women’s wisdom too!

  • “It is truly unfortunate that this thread has taken over a blog about something else entirely that I feel is valid and important.


    You wrote a blog that spoke to the silencing of rape victims, and get your voice drowned out by guys who should have just gone off and wrote their own piece about psychiatry and slavery instead of having their discussion overtop yours!

  • Thank you for writing this, Sera. It’s personal for a lot of us.
    You ask whether there was a “vibe” being sensed. Oh, yeah. Just like sharks can smell a drop of blood from miles away and zero in on the source, sexual predators seem to have a very sensitive meter to detect the vulnerability of injured selves. They don’t choose their victims at random, they look for an easy in. How many stories of early sexual violation have you heard where there is no subsequent perpetrator? That’s not the pattern. The early violation paves the way, and subsequent predators recognize the trail blazed.

    Sera (4-year-old Sera, and 15-year-old Sera, and 16-year-old Sera, and 17-year-old Sera):
    I hear you and resonate your truth. I believe you. I stand in solidarity with you.

  • After seeing so many headlines using the phrase “former Stanford swimmer” to identify/define Brock Turner, I finally just yesterday saw one that got it right: Convicted rapist Brock Turner. And this one had his mugshot, unlike all the others that show the suit & tie yearbook smile.

    Reminds me of the language contortions that Big Pharma uses in their commercials, using soft-spoken (boring, soothing even) voices reciting watered-down terms to describe their side effects, while using the most alarmist voices, tone and words to name/describe the “condition” they are trying to scare you into thinking you need to “ask your doctor” about.


  • I hear you. I’ve experienced both sides of that equation, I feel.

    My mother has an extensive and horrific trauma history, starting from infancy. And I’ve witnessed many instances of her bearing up under way more than most anyone could handle; I’ve witnessed several instances of her breaking and unable to cope, and get by as best she can– and in those times, her best looks atrocious. I’ve also witnessed several instances where my mother “turned on the crazy” willfully, in order to manipulate. The differences between these states of hers became unmistakable to me, though others often got snowed. So I get that feeling that your spouse uses past trauma as a tool; my mother certainly did.

    But I also know how it feels to be accused of slacking when it takes every ounce of everything you are just to be okay enough to get yourself fed once today, and maybe cleaned since it’s been almost a week since you were last able to get yourself into the shower. I also know how humiliating it feels to be told by your spouse that he’s “not doing you any good enabling your depression” (according to the family therapist) so the dishes are gonna stack there in the sink until you do them because it’s your turn to do that chore. No energy to be pissed about that, you just crumple into a bit tighter ball to hold yourself together at the seams and hate yourself a little harder for not being even close to good enough. Vicious, the words you use to describe yourself in this condition, and maybe you can be stern enough to slap yourself out of this pit you tell yourself is self-pity, because if it is, maybe you can drill-sergeant yourself out of it. So much pain, so much harm in the blame of it, the shame of it.

    I feel much compassion for you; I feel much compassion for your spouse too, and hope each of you can find the healthiest way for your family to weather all the emotions inherent in these situations of trauma aftermath. I truly do. Deep hugs to you.

  • So the other day I read where Swiss voters decided to reject a proposal to guarantee all citizens a minimal monthly income, and there was a quote, the jist of which was that people will just be lazy and do nothing if they did not have to worry about earning enough money to live, if it was just provided. And I thought the exact opposite: without the worry of having enough money for a decent living, what amazing endeavors would people be able to achieve?

    Okay, let’s get real radical and expand that: What if every person was provided all the essentials for a fully-realized, healthy, robust life, just because they exist? Just because they are part of humanity? What if there was a universal acknowledgement of the capacity of the human spirit, and the wisdom to invest in it, as a society? What if there was no need to dull the existential pain, because there was plenty of opportunity to experience the full range of emotions- plenty of joy, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction to look forward to during the darker moments? What if each person’s “job” was to plunge into their passion and bring forth their inherent talents and gifts. We could all share in each other’s because with everyone enjoying full support, there would be no need for stinginess.

    I want to live in that world.

  • Hmm… how does this relate?

    I took an acting class once with a really cool teacher who used a lot of different kinds of exercises to help us connect to genuine emotional states that were called for in the script. I was pretty amazed at how easy it was to create an intense emotional state by simply engaging in the behaviors associated with that emotion. For instance, he had us stomp, and clench our fists and tighten our faces– anger wells up, and now the line you said less than one minute ago that rang hollow is rich with emotion.

  • Hi knaps,

    I don’t know if the author or any of the commenters will see your reply, but I did. 🙂 I have also commented on older posts/articles, usually they pop up in the “Best of MIA” section, and wondered whether they’d be seen. I noticed yours in the “Recent Comments” section and intend to read the article above, but had to chuckle seeing my own reflection in “if you ever read this,” and “this feels like home.”