Blog Archives

Setting Healthy Boundaries

“No one else can set your boundaries for you.” — Lois J.

Let me start out by saying that I am not an expert at setting boundaries. The setting of healthy boundaries has proven to be my single most challenge I face in my personal growth work. That being said, what I am going to share in this blog is what I have learned to be true about the setting of boundaries, and what I strive to integrate into my daily life.

I have learned that one way to create boundaries with people is to show priorities in our relationships. In the past, I believe that out of my loneliness and neediness, I may have talked to anyone, whether the person wanted to listen or not. In the mixed up world of my uncontrolled bi-polar disorder, I often withheld my true feelings from people close to me, but perhaps spilled them to someone outside my inner circle, say such as my new “best friend” the cashier at Fry’s.

As I now grow in self-esteem, my relationships improve and I act to meet my needs. Then I have a better sense of who everyone is in my life. I make choices in my relationships and take responsibility for them. I learn to bear the pain of boundaries that aren’t respected and enjoy the serenity of those that are.

I no longer need to give myself away in bits and pieces; I know now what it is to feel whole. I can simultaneously have acquaintances, friends, and intimate relationships, both sexual and nonsexual, in my life. I can trust that I will act appropriately and that my boundaries will keep me safe.

I know that there are some people in my life that will doubt the validity of my commitment to this level of understanding of boundaries. But I am a work in progress and this is truly the knowledge that I have gained.


Advertisements

About the Paranoid Disordered Person

In my last relationship, I chose to stand by the side of my partner who was afflicted by mental illness. It goes with out saying, that this affliction played a major role in my life both individually and in the relationship. The result from making the decision to stay in the relationship alienated me from key persons I would normally have included in my support network. As a result of my openness and honesty, I sacrificed both family connections and close friendships. Contrary to what some individuals may think, I had given considerable thought to my decision, consulting with both paraprofessionals and professionals in the field of psychiatry. It is a lonely experience trying to share the struggles my partner and I faced to some in our support network, and some abandoned us altogether. I was asked so often,” Why do you stay with such a person?”  I often found myself asking that very same question.

While in the relationship, I learned to live with the decisions I made, and explored my options. Initially, thoughts, feelings and emotions were jumbled up inside my head. I felt as though I was hanging onto a very thin rope, over a very deep abyss. I knew that in times like that I must first take care of myself. That means starting with the simple things: eating, staying hydrated, taking my own medications, and getting plenty of rest. I felt disadvantaged by not having anyone I felt I could reach out to.  Some of my reluctance to reach out stemmed from a fear that friends or family would push me to get out of the relationship.  I anticipated I would experience hurt feelings for not being here for my partner. I also felt that if either one of us would need to leave our home, it should be the person with the most issues.

I knew I needed a tool to process the jumbled feelings, the hurts, resentments and fears that were consuming my thoughts; even manifesting themselves physically in my body. One way I typically approach the more significant issues in my life is to look at the situation very analytically. One of the ways I do this is to write a blog and journal which incorporates the more factual matters; much like the way one would approach writing a research paper on the subject matter. Following is the result from my research, condensed and specific to my own situation with my partner:

The Paranoid Personality (PP) can vacillate between being warm, concerned, loving and attentive to being abusive, suspicious, projecting, accusing, blaming, critical, demanding, belittling and downright cruel. The warmth and concern of a PP cannot counterbalance the damage and hurt that can be inflicted upon significant others. Long term intimates including me readily report that the damage inflicted by the PP is so horrendous that it is almost impossible to recover from it without shedding enormous amount of pain.

The jealousy of the Paranoid Personality is so intense that he denies the true person hood of the partner. Distrust is combined with intense need and dependency, while the person’s blaming, attacking and verbal rage drives the partner into a self-protective world of self-denial, “you” statements and intellectualizing. The PP is an angry person whose rage is destructive to him and others.

Paranoid Personalities are hypersensitive to any hint of hurt, betrayal, rejection or attack. There is no awareness that they may actually set up or manipulate others into accidental hurt or rejection. Persecution is seen even where it does not exist. Normal events are perceived as harmful. Negatively narcissistic, PPs believes that somehow they are the object of people’s dislike. There will also be job problems, especially when Paranoid Personalities work with authority figures that are perceived as being antagonistic.

Perceptual distortions will cause innocuous, harmless events to be seen as threatening to ones very being. At one time in the PP’s life, there might have been a paranoid schizophrenic episode. Perceived threats to the person’s well being may have produced critical, punitive, auditory hallucinations and delusions of persecution. Such acute episodes may precipitate or be part of the ongoing chronic personality structure of the Paranoid Personality. For my partner, he hears a number of voices which have been with him for a long time; since he was a small child and dealing with hurts never imagined to be waged upon an innocent child.

The Paranoid Personality may appear to behave in strange, unusual, deviant, peculiar ways. Thinking can be very idiosyncratic and filled with defensive logic. The PP may appear to be hostile, stubborn, resistant, defensive and manipulative. He will give peculiar reasons for being constantly late for meetings or appointments or for not showing up at all. Even when people he deems to be in his closest inner circle or family are involved. Many promises are broken. The PP tends to influence others with intense, biting anger and may show deficits in consistently expressing love and affection.

According to Other (1989), the paranoid personality is triggered by close interpersonal relations where the perception is “people sneak up on me and harm me”. This sneaky form of harm does not only stem from physical injury, but also from emotional trauma. There is guarded distance, debilitating self-protectiveness, secretiveness, devious and dishonest behavior, scheming and counter-attacking. The person appears suspicious, distrustful, jealous, angry, hostile, negative and hyper vigilant.

Paranoid people are very hurt individuals who require enormous amounts of empathy and understanding. Unfortunately, it is difficult for other people to supply that empathy if they are the targets of the paranoids exaggerated responses to minor slights, benign remarks and insignificant events. The PP assigns hidden, hurtful, damaging meanings to objectively harmless situations and events (DSM-III-R, 1989). The internal injuries are so enormous that the PP feels harmed and exploited without a sufficient reality basis. The internal destroyer/annihilator creates the pain and the havoc, but the ego will not take responsibility for the injury to the fragile, vulnerable self. Thus, the inner object finds and locates an external object upon which to blame, accuse and project. In my world that external object is me. Only me.

It is important to note that not all people are made into bad, harmful objects by the paranoid person. Some individuals are deemed trustworthy by the inner arbitrator. But sooner or later even trusted others will inadvertently trigger off the internal domain of persecution and harmfulness.

Because the paranoid person feels harmed by others, faulty logic, misinterpretation and perception are not apparent to the sufferer. Ones feelings justify ones accusations and suspicious questioning. The paranoid is convinced that his feelings are sufficient basis for accusing others of harm. Here and now reality is intruded upon by earlier unexpressed pain and only by careful processing can the PP learn to correct paranoid interpretations. It is important to remember that it is not the paranoid person’s feelings that are distorted. The feelings are legitimate. It is the cognitive processing that is disturbed. Repression causes faulty information processing and the paranoid person suffers a serious break with reality.

Paranoid Personality Disorder is diagnosed only when these traits are inflexible, maladaptive, and persisting and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress. My partner’s paranoia was debilitating for him. I know there are many, many others similarly affected as we had been during the entire course of our relationship together. For those that experience a life even close to mine, the questionnaire below should give you some insight into the characteristics of the disorder:

Questionnaire: for Partners, Friends and Relatives of Someone Who is Afflicted with Paranoid Personality Disorder

This questionnaire can help you to identify those characteristics associated with Paranoid Inter-Personality problems.

1. Do you believe that your partner or friend has a hidden, excessive fear of being abused, hurt and emotionally injured?

Yes/No

2. Does your partner or friend appear to engage in unreasonable scanning and hyper vigilant behaviors?

Yes/No

3. Have you noticed that your partner or friend appears to engage in projection, ascribing malevolent intentions, actions and motives to you and other people?

Yes/No

4. Have you ever been the object or target of your partner or friend’s fear, anger and distrust?

Yes/No

5. Does your partner or friend seem to be negatively hypercritical?

Yes/No

6. Does your partner or friend appear to be negatively and disrespectfully judgmental?

Yes/No

7. Do you sometimes feel that you are a symbolic representation of someone or something out of your partner or friend’s past?

Yes/No

8. Do you sometimes feel that your partner or friend displaces, externalizes feelings on to you that seem to belong onto someone else from the past?

Yes/No

9. Do you sometimes feel that you are a bad parent to a child with PPD?

Yes/No

10. Do you sometimes feel that you are being treated as if you are an abusing parent?

Yes/No

11. Do you sometimes feel that you are being accused unfairly?

Yes/No

12. Do you sometimes feel that your partner or friend plays the victim and you are the victimized?

Yes/No

13. Do you sometimes feel that your partner or friend identifies with abused children and sees you as the bad parent?

Yes/No

14. Do you sometimes feel that your partner or friend magnifies and exaggerates events and behavior?

Yes/No

15. Do you sometimes feel that your partner or friend misinterprets events and people’s behavior and motives?

Yes/No

16. Does your partner or friend promote dispersive benign events and mislabel them as, “Terrible, Awful, etc.”?

Yes/No

17. Does it seem that your partner or friend turns reality around into the opposite direction?

Yes/No

18. Does it seem that your partner or friend presents a positive image and then turns around into the opposite?

Yes /No

19. When you spend time with your partner or friend, do you feel disordered after wards?

Yes/No

20. After you have spent time with your partner or friend, do you feel like crying and screaming?

Yes/No

21. Why don’t you?

22. Have you ever been emotionally involved with a suspicious and distrusting person before?

Yes/No

23. Does your partner or friend hold grudges? Is there a family history of grudge holding?

Yes/No

24. Does your partner or friend keep reminding you of the skeletons in your family closet, but never talks about his/her own?

Yes/No

25. Does your partner or friend seem more negative than positive, most of the time?

Yes/No

26. Are you afraid to end the relationship with your partner or friend?

Yes/No

27. Why?

28. Does your partner or friend convince other people [including therapists] that you are the bad one?

Yes/No

29. How does that make you feel?

30. Does your partner or friend make conclusions based on insufficient, arbitrary, unsubstantiated evidence?

Yes/No

31. Does your partner or friend select certain information out of context and highlight certain details while ignoring other important information?

Yes/No

32. Does your partner or friend engage in polarized, all or none dichotomies thinking [good, bad, black, white, etc.]?

Yes/No

33. Does your partner or friend display tunnel vision; i.e., seeing only what he/she wants to see?

Yes/No

34. Does your partner or friend make automatic assumptions that you hold a negative ulterior motive for your actions?

Yes /No

Coping With PP Disorders

This is the commitment I am making to myself and to my partner to keep us both safe, healthy, and in this relationship for the long tern. Christopher will never have to go through this process alone, nor will I. This is the message I must hear. I now feel that I understand the problem. Now it is time to devise a solution. There is no question, whether I love Christopher or not. Not in my mind. I understand that there is in his mind. But as for me, the relationship is not on the table. I ask for greater attempts by him to be honest with me. The cloud of dishonesty which enshrouds our relationship makes it impossible for me to know what truths I really have to work with. But the coping mechanisms I have put together below the commitment I have made to myself and to Christopher and it is sealed with a kiss and filled with the utmost love.

Take care of you emotionally, physically, spiritually, inter personally and financially.

Acknowledge your own hurt and pain. Each one of the preceding categories is like a bank account, that you either invest in or that you withdraw resources. For example, your Physical Account, also known as a Health Account, is subject to deposits made of healthy exercise, good sleep hygiene, disciplined eating habits and other behaviors that build up and expand your Health Account. Any behavior that lessens your Health Account can be seen as bank withdrawals, which can eventually lead to physical deterioration, health problems, shortened lifespan and physical bankruptcy. Remember, your life and your present circumstances are your responsibility and your creation. You have choices! You can either choose to make deposits and expand the above Bank Accounts or you can withdraw your assets. If you don’t take care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, inter personally and financially, you will experience the depletion of those various accounts. In this book, you will also come across the concept of the Love Bank, which also uses the metaphor of bank deposits and withdrawals.

Practice non-reactivity. Do not react!

Observe and respond with honest self-statements. Do not attack, criticize or blame. Explore the possibility of integrating a non-reactive philosophy for dealing with many of the difficult situations that you will encounter in life. The following are some suggestions you can utilize:

[a] If after an unpleasant experience, you are left with unpleasant feelings, go to a private place and purge/cleanse those feelings. I recommend the deep feeling, primal integration method. This includes free association, deep breathing, and the willingness to cry and scream out the pain. Prayer also helps. You can also set up a therapeutic situation, in your sanctuary, where you can role play what it is you would like to say and express to that particular person. Going to a therapist can also be a great help by allowing you to talk out, express and purge your disturbed thoughts and feelings. A therapist can teach you various cognitive and emotional tools for relieving the distress that reactivity can cause. I also have a prescription for Ativan which re dices anxiety. I must remember to take this medication before the actuarial “flare up”.

[b] When you anticipate being in a difficult, unpleasant situation, decide ahead of time, not to react emotionally to it, in your usual reactive way. Choose to take an observing position, where you deliberately choose not to react and instead observe the situation from an objective position. This requires that you do not deny your internal responses, but instead, choose a more preferable, non-reactive, calm way of thinking, feeling and dealing with it. This approach allows you to stay in control, by you choosing how you wish to think, feel and respond. The non-reactive solution too many difficult interpersonal situations, assumes that you will take a more observant, less reactive, more thoughtful approach to recognizable, anticipated difficult situations. You do not have to add fire to an already inflamed and intense situation. You can take a calm, measured, thoughtful approach by you choosing to deliberately monitor your internal reactions and replacing your habitual responses with calm, observable, objective responses. Just remember, that if you are still disturbed after leaving a negative interaction, you can go home and work your way through your disordered feelings with tools that are learn able, such as cognitive restructuring, journal work, role-playing, anger dissipation by punching pillows, verbally ventilating and various reactive, cathartic, deep feeling pain release methods.

[c] Evaluate your situation to see if you are emotionally, intellectually and inter personally over-involved. Sometimes when you are over-involved in a difficult situation, you cannot see it clearly and creating distance may lessen your over-involvement. I am not saying that you should not be involved in potentially difficult situations; I am saying that if you recognize that you are over-involved, you may wish to make a decision to lessening your involvement to a more manageable level. Remember, that over-involvement can lead to excess of stress and overwhelming negative feelings. Lessening your involvement can help you to restore your sense of balance and equilibrium.

Ask for support from others, groups, friends, family and professionals

Get to know and learn to control your own anger, resentments and pain. Get to the bottom line of your anger, so that there is no anger left for reacting to the disorder. A punching bag and an aluminum baseball bat work well together for anger work. Punching and screaming into a pillow works wonders. Most situations that produce anger usually reflect the absence of Empathy in either one or both participants. Some people do not adequately test their perceptions and usually makes statements through a particular lens or filter. The result is that some kind of malignant or disrespectful judgment is made and the other person usually uses anger to fend off the attack. Empathy requires that you be able to put yourself inside of the shoes and the skin of another person in order to feel and experience what they are going through. Your anger might be the result of someone Else’s insensitivity and lack of empathy.

If you react with anger, you will probably make the situation worst. Therefore, learn to control and discipline your instinct for anger.

No matter what anyone says or does, if you use anger as a negotiation tool, it may backfire on you. Difficult people are all around you and they make assumptions and perceptions based on poor reality testing for validity and reliability. Focus on the desire and ability to be open, honest and clear. The goal of anger work is not the anger itself. The goal is to get the anger out of the way so that you can become clear while getting to the pain and hurt that is underneath. Do not listen to people who say that such anger work only reinforces the anger. These people do not understand the purpose and dynamics involved in deep anger/pain work. You can tell this by the way they structure their thinking and their ideas. Understand that the process and benefits of working the anger is so you can get to your bottom line emotional truth, which will free you from unnecessary and counterproductive expressions of anger.

Anger as a relationship negotiation tool, usually does not work and causes pain and hurt. People who use anger as a relationship negotiation tool need to find a more effective strategy for problem solving and negotiation. Fighting does not work and eventually will create withdrawals from the relationship Love Bank. In all serious relationships, I recommend the implementation of the policy of Enthusiastic Mutual Agreement. This policy requires that no decision be made until both parties enthusiastically agree to an effective strategy.

Be aware that you are the object of projections; engage in empathic reflection and paraphrasing.

Observe and steer conversations in your direction without appearing to be controlling or manipulative. Do not use force or power tactics.

Many people get caught in a War of Perceptions. Remember, that perceptions are not reality.

Some perceptions come from a person’s belief system and are just thrown out without adequately testing for validity and reliability. Most people also mistakenly believe that their perceptions are reality and will fight you to the death in order to defend their perceptions. Refuse to get trapped in a War of Perceptions. Perceptions are usually formed through a specific lens or filter. You can pretty much figure out what that filter is, while recognizing that most perceptions are nothing but opinions.

If you want to avoid a war of perceptions, keep your opinions and your perceptions to yourself until someone asks for them.

In your thinking and in your conversations, do not be tempted to make someone, including yourself, into a bad person, a so-called Mr. /Mrs. Hyde. Troublesome people ineffectually spatter their conversations with disrespectful and malignant judgments. When you open your mouth, in front of these people, you are potentially subjecting yourself to being hit by a negative judgment. Don’t argue or try to convince that person of the errors in their judgments. Don’t even try to convince them to change their judgments about you, no matter how hurtful they can be. This type of person is usually awash in self-righteous, rigid thinking while being totally convinced of their own innocence and your guilty bad ways. They can never do any wrong and usually behave like a “goody two shoes.” Notice how they squiggle at anything off-color. This is usually their attempt to devalue your motives and elevate themselves. They are probably very jealous of you and fear your superiority and your love of life. In a sense, it is your ability to have fun and enjoy yourself that irks these people, the most.

The Antidote:

Align and involve yourself with people who share the same love of life, fun loving and sense of humor as you. Get your needs for acceptance satisfied elsewhere.

This is a harsh reality, but one that you must internalize and believe with all of your heart and soul.

The paranoid personality disordered person has very little or no affectionate feelings toward you, don’t try to change that.

You will only reinforce their lack of positive feelings. Accept that you have been symbolically rejected. Remember, this is symbolic and not very rational or real.

The more you react, rather than respond, the more you will reinforce and reward disordered behavior.

If you have caused pain or hurt to a significant other, admit it and vow that you will stop doing the offending behavior. This can be reinforced by assuring the other person that you will do everything in your power to remove your offending behavior. By engaging in more positive behaviors, you may be able to be in a position of depositing love units into the other person’s Love Bank.

Try to recognize when you are being set up to play the role of a rejecter, abandoner and annihilator.

If you go along with the disordered person’s symbolic needs, you will unconsciously be regarded as a good object parent. If you go against the person’s needs and desires, you will be seen unconsciously, as the bad parent object.

Don’t argue or try to change the other person’s opinion or perceptions.

Simply engage in more loving and supportive behavior, while eliminating love withdrawals. If the other person’s perceptions seem very far-fetched, wait for the right time to discuss your valid opinions and views of the situation. Do it in a very calm, warm manner based on the assumption that the other person wants a more productive relationship with you.

Do not blame or accuse.

This is not a contest to see who wins. This is about finding effective strategies for recovering what was once lost and might be found again.

Do not engage in interpersonal politicking and diplomacy. Do not reject outright.

If you put yourself in a conflict situation, organize it so that you get something out of it. For example, if the person invites you to a special occasion and you harbor resistance to attending, re frame the situation in your mind so that you glean some reward for attending.

Remember, most if not all invitations by the disordered person can be seen as setups for mutual rejection and distancing. Back in the 1970s, people had to learn how to say, “No.” You may also have to find a way to say, “Yes … this is the age of Political Correctness and its counterculture Hip Hop reaction. No matter how you feel about these two polar opposite trends, they both exert social pressure. So make it OK to consciously seek fulfillment and accomplishment in every situation that you find your self. You cannot avoid all situations. So make up your mind that where ever you find yourself, you are going to create a golden opportunity where none seemed to exist. Turn minuses into pluses!

Know very well how to restructure your thinking.

The most pliable and flexible organ of your body is your mind and your thinking processes. Believe that you can shape and mold your thinking and your ideas into more fulfilling, positive and productive outcomes. Picture your mind as a shapeless, formless lump of clay, just waiting for you to turn nothing into something, negativity into productivity and creativity. Observe and watch your mind and your thinking processes. Activate your observing ego into changing and shaping the very nature of thought it self. Then watch the results of what you have reshaped and created in the Paradise of your mind.

An alert and observant mind is your best hedge against being pulled into the characteristics of the disorder.

Take inventory of what you are unconsciously doing to reinforce the difficult person’s behavior.

An alert and observant mind is your best hedge against being pulled into the characteristics of the disorder. Abandonment may be a big issue with some disorders while narcissistic injury and deflation of the ego could be problems for other disorders.

Once you have acknowledged your contribution to any difficult situation, work very hard at eliminating all of your ineffective strategies and discover ways to be more effective. Keep a Daily Planner that allows you keep track of what ineffective strategies you are trying to eradicate and the effective strategies that you are intending to implement. Get a coach, someone who already possesses the skills that you wish to acquire. Great achievements are usually accomplished by imitating the successful activities of those people who are already doing what you want to do.


My True Adventure

star-and-moon-jetty.jpg

My partner Christopher and I spent last evening having some really good, positive and healthy conversation with our good friend Dan. Dan is capable of helping anyone see the positive in life and relationships, or at least to cause a person to stop and look for a more positive approach to a challenge. We got on the topic of relationships after he told Christopher and me that he admires our synergy. I thought to myself, “Come on, if he only knew!” I immediately began replaying any and all of Christopher’s and my own daily challenges, but then my mind began to wander and suddenly I was thinking, “We love because it’s the only true adventure”. How about that? We love because it’s the only true adventure. I like that. I too could agree; Christopher and I do have a unique synergy.

In loving, do we perhaps meet ourselves? As I have become more honest, I no longer make excuses about any relationship problems that Christopher and I do have. It isn’t fair to, and I really can’t blame all of our troubles on my partner. Our problems with love were often because we didn’t know how to be close or we didn’t dare to be.

        When we let ourselves engage in this adventure, we meet many obstacles – things we can’t control, and sometimes, we want to quit right there. We have arguments and disappointments as well as good feelings. But what adventure is without difficulty and surprises? Part of the reason for choosing new experiences is to confront forces outside our control. A relationship to me is a dialogue. Only if we stay with it through the frustrations, express our deepest feelings openly, and listen to our partners, do we achieve a new level of understanding and confidence in the relationship. Then deeper levels also open within us. Today, I will let honesty guide me in this adventure of my own personal love dialogue.

Where Is My Light?

 

bright-light

 

It seems as though my Light went out on or about the twenty-first of June, 2005. That was the day that my partner of 11years ended our relationship. From that day forward, and for many days thereafter, I could no longer stomach my life, or even my own existence. I wished I were dead. And with that thought in my head, a dull, constant pain in my heart began in my chest, My Light had gone out.  That bulb blew so hard, that I haven’t found a way to turn it back on again. Everything changed after my Light went out. No more jokes from me, and no more smiles either.  The way I look or the way that I live. I began hating myself so much, that all I wanted was to die. I wanted to be dead, or dying. One of the two. It didn’t matter. And then my wish came true. The first suicide attempt. Botched. The second attempt, failed. An admission to a psychiatric facility for management of my bi polar disorder and rehab for my addiction to crystal meth. I began faking my progress through treatment. I said all the right things that were expected of me by the staff at St. Luke’s.

And then I found out that I was not only HIV+, but in full-blown AIDS. At last, I was at least dying. My Light was really gone now. Everything I knew in my life began to fall apart and fell away from me. I couldn’t grasp anything that mattered to me. I couldn’t go back to the home Joel and I shared for ten years. Our pets were to be split up between us. Our furniture sent to be auctioned off. I would move in with my sister, apply for welfare assistance and hope for the day when I might be able to live independently once again. There was to be outpatient treatment, and twelve step groups. There would be no using of crystal meth, and no consuming of alcohol. I was watched as though I were an escapee from an asylum, someone on the verge of committing some terrible act of harm against society. Without my Light, I began feeling lost, alone, and afraid.

The only echoes of my previous life were those of the hurt, pain and suffering I inflicted upon those I claimed to have loved. There were dances in my head, of lies, deceit, cheating and manipulation. Without my Light, there was no life for me to love or for me to feel was worth living. How could Joel ever forgive me? I beat myself mentally until I felt that I was worthless, almost subhuman.

Then there were small sparks. An apartment. My independence. Welfare and food stamps. Friends to support me emotionally and to help me feel at least somewhat loved. A bigger spark still, I met my present partner, Christopher. Things moved quickly. We stated our love for one another the very first night that we met. He never left after that first night. We decided he would move in. This was my love at first sight experience. A glimmer of light. But not Light.

Something was wrong though with this relationship with Christopher. Our dreamy beginning suddenly turned cold and dark, as his temper flared, outbursts we eventually would call them. Physical harm. Hurtful, hateful words that still sting like a nerve pain. Without Light, life was in chaos. I couldn’t manage my life, Christopher couldn’t manage his, and neither of us could fully support the other. Our lights were shut off by the power company and for nearly three months we lived in darkness until we were evicted from that apartment. We lived in disarray. Whose fault was that? Why even bother to cast blame. Joel turned his Light upon me and I saw the way in which I was living, and it was not the way I have ever lived in the past. I could see it all, but only for a few moments. My ex-partner stretched out his arm and said he’d help me out this one time. This one time only.

A new apartment and a fresh start, but not the best choice. Close to the home I had with my ex-partner, and in my old neighborhood, but not safe. Still, life was not managed well. The car is lost, stolen, towed. Who really knows? We got caught driving it with a suspended registration and no insurance. I had to go before a judge and I still have not yet dealt with the fines. I should be filing for protection under bankruptcy. I can’t manage my money at all. And Christopher will spend it faster than I have ever imagined anyone spending money. My ex-partner remained by my side for a time, with ideas to make life manageable. He helped in many ways. His Light shining on me confused me then. I found myself fantasizing about being back in relationship with him. With every crisis in my life, I called him and was there. Shining some more of his Light so that I can see a little better than before. His shining Light revealed strange pathways of mine that appear when I make choices and decisions. I began to become aware that I wasn’t on the path that I should have been on.  Sadly, my ex-partner has completely severed all ties with Christopher and I, apparently having gotten in touch with some latent resentment and anger, for which he claims he will never be able to come to any form of forgiveness, the forgiveness from before, he says, wasn’t authentic.

Without my own Light, I feel that death is near. Surely without Light, my life shall end. I prepare for my own transition. Memorial service and the entirety of its music is selected, Last Will and Testament complete, disposition of the animals noted, Health Care Power of Attorney chosen. Now why won’t death just come? I’ve got to wait here in the dark? This isn’t even funny. I already feel so lost, alone and afraid. Christopher seems to be getting somewhat better though not really committing to taking his meds or going to therapy.

In my darkness I can’t see. Even my glasses are gone most of the time, worn by Christopher. I find a new area of discomfort in my gut. It’s vile and poisonous and comes through my darkness in the form of mean, hateful, hurtful behavior. Words that I know will cause equal pain and suffering to mine are hurled out against Christopher. And following these waves of anger grew despair and deep depression. A depression so deep that I can’t even move. Nothing looks good to me. I see no positive to my being here or my existence. My body feels as though each day, it is shutting down just a little more. I experience chest pain so severe that I have to stop and catch my breath and to rest until it subsides.

I take many, many pictures of myself. Christopher takes many as well. In these pictures I try to smile, as though I would be filled with Light, but each photo reveals a face that is contorted or in pain with each attempt. I look at these pictures and think to myself, “There is no Light living here”. I begin to edit each picture making each look even more gloomy, and dark.

With each day comes greater waves of anger and loss of self control. “I want Joel” I tell Christopher. “Joel will help me. He’ll rescue me. He always does. Joel is always there for me”. Christopher hears this many times over, and eventually begins to doubt my love for him. He believes it is Joel that I want. And if that’s the case I should go to him. But Joel has moved on. I have not. If I had my Light, maybe I could see my way clear, and move on from Joel. Or is that just an excuse to hang on to something familiar and someone who forgives and gives generously? My Light doesn’t even come on when I’m in the house we once owned together. It’s all so different and it doesn’t feel like my home any longer. All I hear are the echoes of the life we once lived there. Echoes of family gatherings and parties with friends. Of projects and crafts. And of course the things I did there that ruined the Light. Shameful, disrespectful, deceitful acts.

I miss the life that I had when I also had Light. Life was Spiritual. Life had a rhythm and a cadence. Life to me now, has a loud bullying voice that embarrasses me. Which of course I retaliate with my own viciousness that is sure to hurt. This life is filled with loss. The loss of things that was once dear and valued by me. Destroyed by someone who had no regard for their meaning and felt there would be a better use for them as an art project. The actual loss of a pet (Precious) and the impending loss of Cinder. I still grieve the loss of Pepper, Blue and CeCe. All of this is what I believe put out that once beautiful, shining, glorious Light that I had been filled with. Now, I have nothing. My writing this will certainly not please my partner. But it is the truth. I can’t go on living a life without Light. It doesn’t even matter how many days I may have left. Even if it’s just a few days of life yet to be lived, I would choose to have it filled with Light than all of this darkness.

I would like to know the steps I must take to reclaim my Light. How exactly do I get it back? Where do I begin? I wish to laugh again, and make jokes. I want a smile on my face to come naturally. I want to feel the love I have for another, and in turn the love one has for me. I want to turn to my God when I feel my Light begin to dim, to talk things out the way we used to. I want to enjoy the routine of life, and respect the entire world around me. I want to be responsible to the pets in my charge and give them the best care possible. I wish to cry less. I cry so hard that my Soul begins to hurt. And Souls aren’t supposed to hurt. I want my Light to return. It has taken much of my strength to cry out for help. But I did. I welcome feedback and feel assured that help will come. And so will my Light.


 

I’m Standing At The Edge of a Cliff

I‘m standing at the edge of a cliff. That damn tape keeps playing in my head. It’s the old one. The one that makes eveIything look black and confusing. I look around and nothing, no place feels like home. It all feels cold and impersonal, and not mine. Everyone around me seems fake and superficial and carrying out a life’s plan just for their own gain. But that tape that’s playing, “I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life…”I feel like a ghost moving through the thick tide of a life that was once lived. A life that was normal, with things, people and events I took for granted. All of which is gone to me. I strive to create a normal pattern or flow to my life, only to have it subdued by the life I live now. A life that isn’t real. That feels good for only a moment, and then leaves me feeling guilty and paranoid. Sleep doesn’t come to me. I get stuck on one thought or one task. I realize that responsibilities are not met. I don’t even know what day of the week it is. I can’t recall when the last real meal was that I ate, and I can tell I’m dehydrated.

And I’m still feeling unfulfilled, lost, alone and afraid. I look around me and see disarray and disorganized projects. I unleash my anger toward my partner, placing all the blame on him. All I want is a normal life. I want the life I used to have, but gave up. I was so dumb. I beat myself up in my mind, over and over again. I want to feel joy. I want to laugh the way I used to laugh. I want to take care of my pets, and my home, and my partner the way I used to.

I’m sick. There’s always something wrong with me. I feel as though death could transition me at any time. So why do I persist? There are people, normal people that love me. They care for me, and will never accept this life for me. Yet I make every attempt to disguise my real life, hopefully making them think that I walk with them in the land of normalcy. But the bizarre thing is, they can see that I walk through their world differently than they do. They know. But only I can go back to the world I should be in. It’s all up to me. And until I have that insatiable desire to return, my attempts will be futile. But how much longer do I have? I’m all ready two years into a two to four year death sentence. So much I allowed to slip away. I had it all. Once. And just look at me now. No. Don’t look at me. I’m too ashamed.

Procrastination is no Friend of Mine

675b.jpg 

 

But yet, my life is riddled with procrastination. As a result, I have issues, dilemmas, unresolved business, projects gone uncompleted, money left uncollected, bills – many bills overdue and pushing me into bankruptcy, all because I procrastinate. My procrastination is a fear based reaction, or inaction if you will. You know, I can’t even bring myself to go to the mailbox at all to check the mail? I feel that so much doom and gloom is inside those envelopes, that I’m afraid to even get them out of the box. Christopher is the brave soul in our family that make the daily trek to the mailbox to bring home whatever news may be contained within those envelopes.

 

I have a legal issue hanging over my head, and I owe about $1500 in fines to the municipal court. No opportunity has been given for a payment plan, since I don’t have the money. The judge wants me to pick up trash along side Phoenix roadways and freeways, even parks. Given my health status, there’s no way that I would have the stamina to pull that one off as community service. Even with a note from my doctor indicating I wouldn’t be able to perform the duties of that particular community service, there is no other option. I have to go down to the courthouse and try and get on the judges court docket so that I can appear before the judge and plead for a payment plan. After my last visit to his honor’s courtroom, I’m afraid to face him again. It was one of the worst experiences I have had. If I don’t deal with this situation, and the fines go unpaid and sent to a collection agency, a warrant will go out for my arrest. Should that happen, my Social Security Disability Claim will go on hold, which will put a severe strain on Christopher and me financially. Once my fines are paid, it takes a lot of effort to get through all of the red tape to get my claim back on track. I’ve already had my driver’s license suspended, so I can’t drive.

 

The damn car is missing too, which makes matters worse. And quite honestly, I couldn’t tell you if it was stolen or towed. When the tags were taken after my citation for driving with a suspended registration and no financial responsibility (i.e. no car insurance), the car could have gotten towed at the last apartment we were renting, or it could very well have been stolen. We have never received any communication that the car has been towed, and of course even though I have had the phone number of the towing company, I never called to see if it was in their possession. I didn’t call the police either. To make this judge happy, and for him to believe that I’m not going to be driving around without insurance and a registration, I have to show proof that the car has been abandoned, or stolen. Just more “stuff” that I have to deal with.

 

For more than five years now I’d say, I have been aware that a company I formerly owned is owed about $300 in commissions by a small insurance company we used only once. It seems they lost track of us, and we show up on one of those “unclaimed funds” lists. Every year someone reminds me that my name showed up on the list. But do I deal with it? Of course not.

 

My procrastinating behavior is annoying to those close to me. It should. To them it seems as though nothing ever gets done. I find I work best from lists, and that my mood plays a significant role in my level of procrastination. Depression certainly plays a part, but so does my hypo manic or manic phases. I can be just too damned distracted to take care of business, or be just too “full of myself” on some days. There are days however, when I’m just too tired, or feeling too anxious about my health, the amount of time here or what it will be like for me to transition to clear enough space in my mind to think about making a list, or considering the priorities of that which is outstanding. I’d like to change completely, and be a person who has initiative, motivation and will power. I’m not sure it will be a lesson I master in this life time, but I shall certainly keep trying!

A Process of Learning Life’s Lessons – What’s Up With Those Incredibles?

H

ere we are, Mark and Christopher. Two individuals, who are very much in love with one another and who for the most part, began our relationship treating one another with respect, compassion, and empathy.  Between us there is a vast amount of education, street smarts, creativity, persuasiveness, and many more qualities that are just too incredibly numerous to mention here in this blog.  In the beginning of our relationship, some friends and acquaintances started referring to us as “The Incredibles” from our outward display of confidence when facing such an abundance of adversity. Our calm and confident exterior merely masks our inner insecurities and anxieties.

We define our union as one which consists of a unique love; a love that can be honored as that “once in a lifetime, love of your life” experience.  With this intense love comes also a naiveté that creates an expectation in each of us that has us making up in our heads that by simply having found one another, making a commitment and by living a life which , though somewhat complicated, would at least afford us an easy rhythm.  But that is not what we have created up to this point in our lives.  We have created our own drama.

Each day, we face the remnants of our previous lives, misdirected anger, domestic violence, our battle and recovery to our addiction to crystal meth, financial setbacks created by our inability to budget, medical issues associated with our HIV+ status, mental health issues and our all around poor choices.

Since our path isn’t “revealing itself” by screaming, “Hi! Here I am!” we are striving to stay open to finding our path for ourselves. Once we feel we are on the right path, we plan to figure out how best to stay on it. The correct path will lead us through life and the lessons we are destined to learn and we will grow.

Through my blogs, I hope to share all of the drama and all of the challenges we have faced, and are facing now.  For some, the experiences that I share will be difficult to understand because our life may be very different from others and may leave the reader feeling unsettled, uneasy or uncomfortable.  Hopefully, readers will be able to discern a process of awareness, attempts to rectify or improve the situations by using new and more effective tools for coping. The rewards for facing our issues and choosing healthier solutions have so far included a raised and more heightened sense of awareness, an evolving definition of our own spirituality, a growing feeling of balance and stability, an easier rhythm to life, financial stability, less of a feeling of being “lost, alone and afraid”, synchronicity and a trust in the Universe’s ability to care for us.

As promised on my primary introduction page on WordPress, the posts I make will be nothing short of a pure and rigorous honesty. Pure honesty about the lessons I am learning and a life I feel I am beginning to master.