Setting the Record Strait Part 2

I was at Mt. Shasta writing about one of the most surreally difficult nights of my life, right before another strange event occurred on this mountain. Truth can be a stranger dance than any of our fictions.

You see, I slipped through the trapdoor of my mind after a BLM celebration, on the night of Juneteenth 2020. Transported through ethers after being intentionally drugged, without my consent or awareness.

Two days prior I had spoken out against local Proud Boys who had intimated protestors, and which I had also experienced firsthand. Now here I was getting dosed and later threatened, in my home, by several gay men who refused to denounce white supremacy- one of whom I had briefly dated.

A Fuckboi’s still a fuckboi- even if you’re locked together during quarantine.

I quickly learned a few things things that blurry night.

1. Racism can surprising extend past the reaches of sexual orientation into White superiority & Proud Boy territory.

2. Being dosed was not as fun as I used to hypothetically inappropriately joke about.

3. Feeling unsafe in your own home is a different level of fear. One which I had seen clients deal with as a social worker, but now it was happening to me while in duress. I didn’t know who to trust.

After three weeks of protesting & defunding the Portland Police by $15 million, the Black community threw a celebration and commemoration of Black freedom on Juneteenth 2020.

It was also the first day the Covid restrictions had been lifted. I decided to throw a small gathering because there had been much to celebrate that day. Whatever merriment was to be had quickly turned into a nightmare I could not get out of.

During that dosing I felt rippled through multiple timelines. Awake, slightly out of body, and far away from those moments. Wavering in and out of my present consciousness and through to possible past lives.

I could see myself and the other people I was talking to from above my own body. It sounds so strange but the words being said and emotions being felt were not mine alone for a few hours.

I still replay that evening’s events trying to understand what happened during that state of altered consciousness. For several months afterward, I came back a different soul briefly transported to another dimensional plane.

Was this all just a side effect of being in an altered state of consciousness? Did I have a shamanic experience that night or was it a brief psychosis triggered by a series of recently traumatic experiences?

Are these all just intriguing scenarios to explain the earthly and devastating reality of what happened during and after this night took place?

Returning to the present moment, I was witness to a surreal experience at Mount Shasta. Was this strange calling to follow the mysterious woman on the trail actually real or just the product of an overactive slightly stoned interpretation?

Were these true mystical experiences or do I just want them to be? Aren’t we all just seeking answers somewhere between reality and just beyond the veil?

I was over this Lemony Snicketts existence. The joke of reliving certain patterns and unexplainable circumstances, and bearing the weight of consequences that just took different forms in intricate and complicated ways.

To what purposes do signs show themselves to give only half of an answer? We are the faulty transmitters of subjective experiences. We bring all of our past programming along with us. And also our new understandings if we open ourselves to other possibilities.

During this mountain hike, I asked the Universe for a sign. Then a sudden awareness came into being.

Perhaps we are all living through multiple realities and passing though unseen dimensions in every moment.

The skeptic in me found this premise difficult to deny as the next mystical journey began to subtly unravel on Mt. Shasta & before my very eyes. I’m still on the quest to untangle these and many other mysteries in my life, Earth, & the Universe.

Fast Slow Disco

To leave everything and start over is part of the excited human collective dream to succeed and evolve. Coming from Texas the Pacific Northwest is continually unimaginably magical.

A place where borders were created by volcanic mountains and glacier fed river instead of flat gerrymandered land, county lines blurred by bureaucratic inequality. Flashes of false beauty can be eroded in an instant. This Earth is only valued because people sanctioned off pieces and said it was their own. Things which last forever have no appraisal value.

I’ve been fortunate & reckless to see great cities & monuments around this amazing world. Now all I want is to feel at home with good people inside the green heart of Nature. It’s the closest thing to god, to a Oneness, to a peace we all are bound.

Up here Forests stand sentry to staggered waterfalls spread out to the Pacific Ocean- the last true great unknown voyage. Portland is the closest thing to my personal heaven. anchored to a treasure of pedestrian friendly volcanic land filled with liberal values and artisinal beers & cheese. And it ain’t perfect- like everything there are drawbacks and sunny day sacrifices.

If only I could transport my friends and family it would be absolute Nirvana. Kurt Cobain biases represented- besmirched but not required.

Palpable fears litter our minds and overcrowd our politics. We won’t be one with ourselves until we reconcile the shadow side, our fears, to accept truth of our greatest virtues & failings.

When does life start becoming your Life once you’ve started over again? After change has been your greatest constant, trauma your most persistent mistress, bibles and bigotry your hated foes. After learning Life promises only impermanence, you kind of get used to living hand in hand with chaos. I’m loosening her grasp from mine & trying to accept love openly without complaint.

Moving alone is an extremely intense event. The loneliness has almost been unbearable at times but at least being alone is safe. Though hurricane Khatena comes out to play I’m not as much life of the party anymore. Experiencing multiple traumas & a bipolar diagnosis prior to uprooting has forever changed me.

It has made me question everything about my life, my past relationships, career choices, and future decisions. We think life is permanent and stable. You pull a few strings and the positive momentum begins to unravel.

Returning from trauma returns you as a ghost to your former life. How long is it going to take to feel normal again? There are glimpses of it. Each week there are days I feel this is totally where I’m supposed to be.

Yet, it would be a lie to say that doubts don’t plague me at times. I wish Suicide still wasn’t a struggle, a temptation, a way to soften the resistance, the difficulty of getting out of bed some mornings, or putting my life back together once more. I’m trying to not let that be the ace in my back pocket.

Through the healing process You begin to breathe. You accept the fact that some things in your life will never change. You cannot take back what happened especially things that never should have occurred and heartbreaks never meant to be inflicted.

Still your life doesn’t feel real in some ways. The one who came before you feels like a foreigner. You feel like the other shoe going to drop. You become hesitant to trust others even at times to trust life even though you know that it’s always worked out in the past and it’s cyclical.

I’ve gotten through the hardest parts of this past year by pretending it wasn’t me living through states of disgrace.

I’ve been partially ready to run my whole life. But now I fucking get why foster kids I work with do exactly that.

Because what if this person does love you and this part of your life works out only for it to all go away again? People will always come in and out of our lives. We must get rooted in ourselves.

Which is easier for people who have the means to root themselves- mentally, physically, interpersonally, financially. It seems some people have had perfect lives and don’t understand what it’s like to lose, be awkward, to be dealing w/ secret burdens and shame. It’s not our job to sort out the perceived versions of other people for none of us really even know our own selves fully.

The real version of ourselves we continually in but it seems like some have it figured it out from day one.

All one can do is take it day by day and offer grace instead of self-condemnation and bad self talk.

I don’t know what it’s like to wake up next to same person every day and have children but I’m starting to like myself when I wake up. You are not being selfish by not settling.

Sometimes you go on journeys where there is literally not one other person who could have traveled that path home but yourself and by yourself. Trust me, it won’t be like that forever. Above all the wandering soul can not betray their call to adventure for long. The wild hope of wanderlust always beats beneath our flesh.

All one can do is take it day by day and offer grace instead of self-condemnation and bad self talk.

Sometimes you go on journeys where there is literally not one other person who could have traveled that path home but yourself and by yourself. Trust me, it won’t be like that forever.

When you experience a lot of life-changing things it takes a while for it to settle down, to feel real. It feels like everything is just going to drop again. You kind of get used to living in chaos. When things settle down it’s almost like you become accustomed to difficult situations.

As a social worker I’ve been trained to sit with someone else’s trauma while they’re in it. I know how trauma affects you more so than ever because I’m still wading through my own. In some ways I feel totally free and authentic, yet I have also become a stranger to myself.

Is that part of the change? Is it normal to always feel in flux? Don’t people eventually settle down? Will that ever happen for me one day?

Closing yourself to love is like closing the windows of a room on a vibrant spring day like quelling wind from the mountain side. Stealing life and draining it away until you become hollow; a carbon copy of the human you used to be.

At times I do wonder if this move was worth it all. Yet I would have also betrayed myself for not following the call which changed my life.

Above all the wandering soul can not betray their call to adventure for long. The wild hope of wanderlust always beats beneath our flesh.

So many of our explorers, young mothers, pioneers and queers, activists, refugees, and kids in foster care must have asked the same. How many forded the river in spite of doubts and armed with hope they brought for a better life?.

Life comes back in unlikely conversations on mountain passes, across barroom booths, with people you didn’t know you were praying for; people who didn’t know were seeking you too.

Sometimes you must sway in place waiting for the slow disco to move you or within you.

Starting again for the first travelers was unbelievably difficult. People literally died on the Oregon Trail and they still kept coming. People keep risking fate for a new future. As scary as it is to take the leap it would have killed me not to take it. Either way we all will die Might as well do it on our way to something new.

Reflecktion of Reflections

The reflection of a mountain lake is changed by ripples of kayakers, canoes, fish, and wind. Mirrors cannot be fully trusted, even in nature, for they do not present the subject as it truly exists. What we see is the inverse reflection of an image but not the actual image itself.

In that way we never truly see ourselves as others see us and we do not fully see each other because of the images we are trying to outwardly portray belies the depth within ourselves and to ourselves.

Seeing this lake reflect Mount Adams, “The Forgotten Giant” in choppy patterns made me think again about how much of the world we really don’t know- presented by MTV True Life: True Life and the meaning of existence.

Millenia of human history has gone undocumented or painstakingly reassembled by anthropologists, doctors of paleontology, linguists, people charged with studying the ancients. We are still far from complete understanding of the Universe, of dark matter, dark places of human experience.

In his famous allegory, The Cave, Plato presents several chained prisoners who are forced to look at a fire casting shadows/images reflected on the back of a cave wall. He said, “On the walls of the cave, only shadows are truth.” We see mere reflections of the Forms- beauty, truth, life but do not actually ever see “Truth,” “Love,” “Mercy,” as they exist on their own. Everything is just a reflection of an ideal and we cast our own assumptions, experiences, desires and label it good, love, bad.

Objectivity of the material world becomes more apparent in nature. The riddle of “if a tree falls in a forest” becomes more clear when you’re the only one in the forest to hear its silence.

Almost all of us live this way to some extent. Not asking questions which would shake the foundations of our societies, are homes, relationships, and selves. I’ve literally known self-actualized people who said they don’t want to ask the hard questions because they don’t want to know “the answer.“ Often I wish the desire to ask these questions did not burn within my heart because life would be a lot easier to take at face value. It also would be boring and predictable.

As much as I value harmony and living well- I would rather live exultant highs and crushing lows than be bound to a life of tradition never leaving a small town filled with mediocre experiences. And I’ve lived life in both versions. Bipolar, bicurious, but never bi-boring.

A major flaw with theists and atheists is that both camps posit theories of the existence or non-existence of god. They stay firmly planted in their beliefs because it helps them make sense of the world and is an understandable premise because existence is incredibly vast and unknowable.If a creator exists and really wanted humans to know a secret important message that will affect your life for eternity would it not be encoded in our DNA? Would there not be writing on the actual walls, reminders everywhere we turned that we must follow?

The more time one spends in Nature you come to see that the purpose of Life is to live, to continue experiencing the stunning variety of this world, to enjoy life, to reflect on our experiences, and then to evolve based upon what we’ve learned so we can pass the evolved knowledge through art, sciences, thought, the gene pool etc.

It seems to me that the answers to life’s hard questions, (like what is the purpose of life? Is there an after-life? etc.) can never be fully answered and that must be for a reason.

The purpose of life may be that we are to find our purpose and follow where the journey leads. Maybe the point is to Live the best life you can, make life matter for yourself & others while not changing your behavior just to please one another due to outdated modalities of thinking and ways of being.

We think this world is permanent yet it too will burn away billions of years in the future. Life feels like it will last forever and there are many who have contemplated leaving their own- some have succeeded in this arduous endeavor. All of our religions come from some “divinely-inspired” individual who rarely ever wrote down anything they actually said and are disseminated out through thousands of years of translated texts by people with various agendas.

What we think we believe about the world has often been carefully sifted and manipulated through centuries of people gripping to power with the goal of keeping the masses sedated and satisfied. Obviously this isn’t working when so many people throughout various societies are still killing themselves or wanting to die and in America- killing each other with guns on a daily basis.

There is no statistic I know of that measures how people have been aggregately affected because of religious indoctrination and pacification throughout their lives. The millions who are walking a slow-trek to the grave aren’t counted on the census. What about refugees- people who are hoping for a better life and are imprisoned at America’s borders, the children crying out in terror in their own homes, the people who are self-medicating just to get through the day? Rousseau said that humanity became poisoned when the first person claimed the land was their own. We come into this world without and we leave without.

The clamoring for status, possessions, certain relationships is a big Western civilization pissing contest to prove our own worthiness to others, but it’s mostly done in effort to subconsciously prove worthiness to ourselves. How’s that working out for us?

We are born into this world seemingly without knowing anything until consciousness finally appears in early childhood. The way we are programmed to believe about life, god, science is very much dependent upon the geographical space and time of our existence.

Most people who believe that the way we are living is the right way the only way to live have never left their states let alone their country.

How can we look at a refugee or on anyone and pronounce them unworthy. Somehow as less human than us because of an imaginary border we don’t want you to cross? But what if he’s gay and a migrant worker or not a shiny piece of eye and arm candy? We’re human to you because we help you look better and vice-versa. If you actually put into practice what your Bible stories say-you’d be baking that wedding cake with dildos and fireworks galore. Jesus met people where they were at and was not one to fault anyone.

The election of Trump is the last gasping death rattle of a white once-majority blinding their eyes against their own desperate nakedness and clutching gnarled hands onto the threads of an unclothed emperor’s train. A vote against the Future may momentarily deter progress but the Future is coming anyway.

We can be the catalyst of action or churn in the dry rot wood of complacency. My eyes are fully opened to see the Future meet us here while tyrants in various guises will forever eventually fall away exposed, unraveled by their own undoing, and with no subjects left to rule.

What were we thinking during those formative years before the impressions were made upon us the time before memory of which we have no memory? How different would each of us be had we not been collectively fucked over since the beginning of human history?

The ego- the separated consciousness the part of the self that gets scared and insecure is not entirely against us. For in those moments we think life is closing in around us, when our reflections get shattered, we realize how much of life was lived in the wings, in the attempts to prove we have it altogether in the safety of our beautiful homes and children.

Most of us are not used to being loved wholly for who we are with our blessings, personality quirks and imperfections. I finally allowed myself to experience unconditional love during last year’s breakdown. My father, my sister, my mother each came to my rescue even as I was cursing my parents and others with similar vitriol of what I was protesting against.

When I needed love the most my parents and best college friends came to my rescue. We finally let ourselves be loved when we break the walls within us.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to find all the barriers you have built up against it.”- Rumi

We are all contributing ideas, experiences, transmitting messages with our dna without even knowing it. We all have the potential to beam like the sun or devolve into massively powerful black holes. An awakening in the morning is a destruction of the dream life.

Sometimes we get jolted into the reality we wanted we just didn’t expect to wake up to it so quickly. A tearing away of shade and the shock of being flooded by the Light. We never think we deserve the ruby slippers. That only perfect people in fake fairytales and bible stories get to live that life. The belief that myths are fiction is akin to believing that miracles can’t come true. I get driven to great depths of despair and despondent frustration about this.

But That’s still my egoic self sifting through the darkness imbedded in the false sense of safe realities. I’m not kidding when I say im not afraid of anything. I can’t even began to explain that exultation into words and I’ve seen the darkness within that blessed anarchy. Its like the Power of the dark Phoenix being wrapped inside a rage a tempest in a teapot. The capacity for creation will always be greater than our capacity to destruction. Just look at how powerfully we’ve created and destructed through the best and most destructive days of your life.

SOCRATES: Do you think the one who had gotten out of the cave would still envy those within the cave and would want to compete with them who are esteemed and who have power? Or would not he or she much rather wish for the condition that Homer speaks of, namely “to live on the land [above ground] as the paid menial of another destitute peasant”? Wouldn’t he or she prefer to put up with absolutely anything else rather than associate with those opinions that hold in the cave and be that kind of human being?GLAUCON: I think that he would prefer to endure everything rather than be that kind of human being.

I am returning to the light and to living and loving well. My nephew was born three days ago and I couldn’t think of a better time in my sister and brother-in-law’s lives to be parents, my father to be a grandfather, and in my own to be an uncle. May we each be faithful in our charge as we continue to love and guide this precious being to life. Ashes to Ashes we come and go through this world reflecting on our deeds and Reflecting life back to the world. Little nephew, you are highly loved. May you see that example reflected back in our words and actions. May you have the best life has to offer us all.

Nothin’ But Time part 1

It’s almost been one year since embarking on the eloquent adventure/disaster that changed the landscape of my life. I keep coming back to Mount St. Helens- a mountain who is no stranger to spewing new effigies upon the land.

It’s the geographically closest and most accessible of the great 5 mountain peaks of I now live by. The gem of the PNW mountain range has now been reduced to 2/3 of its original height and glory. Magma began filling the mountain increasing its mass for a year and eventually reaching 400 yards a day prior to the explosion. How oddly relatable.

Mt. Saint Helens Before & after 1980 eruption

The pressure rose in St. Helens’ until that fateful day in 1980 when this sleeping giant hurled lava, pulverized rock, a side of the mountain outwards, killing 57 people, melting several glaciers and created the largest mudslide ever recorded.  Calamities millions of years in the making only took seconds to raze foundations entire ecosystems and collapse empires.

Yet 40 years later this mountain is now replenishing itself. Life is returning with hundreds of new habitats, ponds, and waterways in this ancient place.  

Which version of Mt. Saint Helens is the real mountain?  A gem reduced to ashes. An antagonistic foe looming in the distance biding time until its next eruption? A ticking-time bomb drowsing until the pressure builds to a crescendo and Saint Helens wildly flings destruction to all in its vicinity? A haven for life, a peak which glacier water flows down providing the source of many rivers? A mother, a place of beauty, a liability a home?

Are you the you who had it all together or are you now the person that is left after blasting your life into fragments? Are you something else altogether?Each perspective is valid but binary conclusions fail us so much of the time. The mountain, the aftermath, the you before and after are all of those things the good, the ugly, and the authentic self.

The volcano where I was unknowingly rapid cycling through a manic-depressive breakdown is also the mountain that has brought me back to life. A cataclysm of eroding glaciers within oneself.

Just as this mountain has done countless times over the centuries. Re-shaping and forging the land through destruction and setting the stage for new creations. Sometimes caused by brutal natural calamities, at the hands of others, at the hands of yourself.

Nature vs. nature is an antiquated paradigm. For It is within nature we find nourishment and true being as we have since time began.

The more we connect to the Earth the more we begin to connect to our truest selves. The false self begins to peel away the false self the egoic nature craving and never at peace.

You realize aspects of your personal identity – the job, the relationships, the home, coping mechanisms, habits, and patterns of self were aspects of the false-self. How many of us cling to externalities to validate and explain who we are?

The egoic nature craves and screeches to satiate desires- to fulfill the idealized version of yourself. Buddha said, suffering is caused by desire. Suffering is also caused by looking for things outside of us to determine our self-worth.

The dizzying thrill of an unrealized manic high was exhilarating. I felt like a rockstar. Everything all my dreams were within reach and anything was possible. Nothing and no one could stop me. Mania is the closest thing to being a superhero and a supervillian at the same time.

Mania mirrors some narcissistic qualities. Writing a book that partially included my life was misinterpreted by some as overly ambitious or egotistical. Those who judged my first book as a vanity affair didn’t even crack the cover.

Yet my personal worth began to be increasingly tied to social media, gaining followers to build a writing platform, and with each gain I began validating myself and experiences with things outside of myself. But mania causes a sort of inner Stockholm Syndrome daring you into climbing stratosphere’s into mountain peaks you would not dare to travel in your right mind.

And when it all stops and you’re left to confront the emptiness and then to build your life the way you really want it. With the first step, the first trickles of snowmelt you begin again. If you’re still alive you still have time to forge the life you want.

When you’ve reached bottom the only way is up from there. We finally start seeking out the people, places, activities & thoughts that are good for us the more we believe in our own worth.

Sometimes it takes losing everything to find who and what is really worth fighting for. And eventually time will reveal the things, the people, the mountains left standing after the dust has settled. You’ll be surprised about how much remains and how much space you have to gain.

Within You Without You

Joseph Campbell explains the hero’s journey as a circular cycle of polarities common to all human beings. The call to adventure spurs one to leave their home and travel into the wild. The hero encounters many obstacles on the journey to their destiny.

Traversing through the dark roads filled with various real and imagined terrors & foes one begins to doubt their calling. Some even abandon their quest altogether and question the gods and themselves for a way out. Clarity comes during a period of introspection and acceptance of mistakes and losses which have occurred.

Eventually help is given in the form of “supernatural” or subtle aid enabling the hero to return to their goal much wiser and reinvigorated than before. Each one of us is the hero in our personal narratives. There are many years have some have lived the song of the downtrodden. Some never get a second chance or become to afraid to venture out again. Some succeed and arrive at their destination immediately (i.e. Billie Eilish & all overnight sensations.)

For most of us mortals it takes a longer more arduous route to get there. We are being forged while in the inky darkness.

Chipping away chunks of marble eventually reveal the intended sculpture.

But we are not marble. We are beings of light in corporeal forms. The chisel strips away excess on an internal level.

The work happens in our hearts our minds; in quiet corners where we cannot objectively peer deeply nor can others wholly understand. We are even mysteries to ourselves.

This start over in Washington state feels surreal and is very welcomed. It takes a while for the new normal to set in. I find myself wanting to go back to a sense of normalcy, but there is only going forward- at least in the traditional Newtonian sense. It’s been hard to reconcile certain events that occurred during my recent travels but I have come to accept everything as it is without too much romanticizing or self-critique.

I let the world in on my life and in some ways feel the distance this openness has allowed. Private battles and past challenges have been disclosed in hopes of helping others own their journeys. The one-sided judgments on the other side of the tablet and cell phones are not known yet I have felt the sting of silence too. Vulnerabilities begin to harden the longer they are exposed to the elements of time and social media.

The brightness of the world has dimmed in some ways. The bushy-tailed optimism still intact but more myopic in focus. Broad reaching hope for people to live their truest selves will never diminish in my heart. Despite my own failings & disappointments I still believe that we are good and worthy to be fought for.

I didn’t try hard enough to find a literary editor to publish Break the Violent Fetters. I’m more in the business of build it and they will come than the other way around.

Yet over the past few monthsI found there exists a stigma when you release art or self-publish on your own. It’s almost as if self-publishing delegitimized the gravity of my message.

As if these words were not good enough to be traditionally published- which was not the case at all. I just didn’t want to wait upon other people to judge and evaluate my life’s content. I had already lived through the threshing ground of societal judgment. 

Or maybe people felt like I hadn’t lived a hard enough life worthy to write a book about.There are billions of people on this planet that have experienced physically, environmentally, emotionally harrowing events in their lives. I speak of an experience that is unfortunately almost stereotypical for LGBTQI+ people throughout all societies and most time periods.

Putting pen to paper about my experience is an honor because so many other people have been silenced and never given the opportunities to share or live their truth. My first book is for those who haven’t gotten to tell their story and for those still figuring out their own.

We are not fair judges to ourselves but what happens when others are also unfairly judging you? The most shocking aspects of it all were people forgot to look at my heart as I blew up in minor crises for miles across America. I don’t recognize aspects of the person I was last summer/fall while in the throes of mania. My sister told me that I won’t ever be able to separate the manic behaviors and my true self. She’s right. They are bound to one another in a chemical compound that was its own venomous form. That also means I don’t have to stay the same.

The personal toll taken in telling this story is still yet to be determined but at this point I don’t think I would do it again. At least not in the way this all unfolded. Sometimes I cringe when I think about certain personal details I’ve allowed to disseminate into the masses, my friend and peer group, people I will never meet on various ends of the world and its wide web.

The dismantling of a life in progress at the height of its young successes has been hard. I was going to buy a house. That was the original plan, but this wanderlust would not be tied down or settled. I still find the wanderlust fighting and resisting the urge to stay. But maybe my stubbornness wouldn’t have allowed it any other way.

I was not ready to settle down until the pieces all fell apart. What is it in our wanderlust hearts that keeps us wanting more? This call to adventure is not so much a running away from problems as it is a hopeful, somewhat nebulous, expansion we are running towards. The saboteur and hero are one in the same. Dualities cannot exist apart from the other. Within you Without you.

It is tempting to judge yourself and present situation while you’re in the midst of a shit show. How can you see anything else when your present existence, one you’ve worked so hard to create backfires and your left with scarce remnants of what once was. Some friendships left in fragments. Others joined in the sea of so many little regrets.

Writing about the psychological, societal, and emotional chains I had broken in turn broke me all over again. It’s a cruel irony. It has spawned a new slew of regrets. I’ve wanted to press the reset button on my life so many times this past year. There was a way out of it all that kept calling. An unholy echo bidding me to an undug grave, yet again. I hope that call has been silenced for the last time.

You can’t see the way out when you’re mired in the reality of the shitshow you’re digging out of. We will not know how our actions truly affect another person, our families, our own lives, generations of people we will never meet.

The present is a confounding experience and difficult to describe. For we are not impartial to ourselves. We each possess a degrees of unreliable self-narration because it is difficult to remove yourself from the reality of your present circumstances. An exhausting difficult period of your life feels like it slowly spreads to all aspects of your psyche. Clouding your vision and hope of ever escaping the dungeon of regret.

A lot of times the current sorrows will not matter in the long run. Epitaphs aren’t filled with credit scores, or how shiny and straight your smile was. Even still, there exists a compulsion that drives me to write and to share that is insatiable. Our lives aren’t often remembered for the mistakes we have made- unless an egregious act was committed.

How many times have you regretted an action and let it play out over and over in your mind’s eye? You remember the events that led up to certain actions and thoughts. Your body revs with anxiety as you relive the event in your mind. The human body cannot qualify whether an action occurred in the present, past or future.

Whatever you focus upon will also reflect in your body as your neck tenses, heartbeat increases, etc. In essence we are reliving that past trauma every time we talk about it AND have an involuntary reaction. It feels like a haunting at first but distance from a problem or a situation helps you to see things with a broader perspective. 

A tragedy, an ordeal by fire smolders long after the flames have been extinguished.

Sometimes there is little to retrieve back from the ashes. In that case the embers of a former period of life are the beacons. They are the guides on our way forward. You can only see what’s up ahead when you are nearing the destination.

We are our own maps. Each day a thread running through paper folds.

I had been living in patterns of devolution for months. A persona unrecognizable to others who knew me well. I hit upon a rage that had never been expressed and a volatility of shockwaves that rippled beyond the bounds or intentions of my person.

I’m almost back to my normal self and personality. Now the dust has settled. The scattered pieces have been recollected. Some pieces and people will never fit again. There many more pieces that are still here and ones yet to find.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive,”Joseph Campbell.

Life is no longer stuck in a long looped waiting room. I’m finally where I wanted to be. There’s still so much left to explore, to enjoy, to live.

HomoErratic- Same as it Ever Was

“Omg. This is what my clients must have felt like.”

That’s what I said when I called MHMR- Mental Health Mental Retardation of Texas. I found myself dialing the same number I referred at least 300 people to as a social worker. The Universe. That old crafty bish. Playing the long con.

I’m not used to being a person in crisis. Or feeling like I’m alone because I freaked out and pushed everyone away for a while. Not used to being uninsured. Not used to feeling embarrassed. Not used to being exactly where life has brought me.

You go through long swathes of life being stable and thriving. The length of maintaining relative stability for so long becomes part of the process that is helping you function. However stability cannot help you heal if your treatment plan isn’t aware of the root cause.

The relative awesomeness that is your current life can fill in gaps and distract you from times that didn’t completely make sense. You wring out the bar rag of your personal narrative hundreds of times to see where you went wrong. You can mostly account for yourself and actions and then you realize the filter of how you saw yourself was tilted, misdiagnosed, and misunderstood. It’s no one’s fault. We cast judgments based upon the actions we see before us.

Who are you when all the fanfare has ceased and you’ve stripped everything to the foundations? How do you keep moving when you survey the loss and realize that you caused your own suffering. When you laid bare most all of your secrets, and still drip with regret.

When your world crashes it feels like life has veered into a parallel reality. “There is no way this could be my life. “This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.”

I used to sing that line in karaoke ironically. I’ve cradled those words in my mouth so many times during this newest predicament. See Talking Heads. See chest tattoo. Still #lameasiteverwas.

Wendy Williams is living in a sober house and still has a talk show. Pete Davidson pulling mad game with Ariana and Kate. Did we enter some weird time space after the 2016 election? Like the freaking Universe must love a well constructed joke because the configurations that occurred for all this to happen are too precise.

I mean it can’t be coincidence that you discover you’re bipolar in the same room you had your first conscious same sex attraction 23 years later. Like surely I’m in a Zach Braff movie. Better writing but with a shittier soundtrack.

This time the walls are bare because you haven’t lived here for years yet thin enough to hear your dad playing the bongos and ukulele while your stepmom with dementia is wandering the halls. Did I shave my pits for this? Welcome to My So-Called Life: Early Thirties reboot and I’m reprising Claire Danes’ iconic 90’s role. (Jared Leto where you at?)

Pop culture references aside, To accept yourself you have to accept the moment you’re in. Not who you were going to be. Not who hurt you. Not what that “7 Rings” tattoo was supposed to say and still getting it wrong the second time 😆. Those things are important and they are threads in the tapestry. Once you start admitting where you’re at you can start changing.

Stripping away the distractions bring clarity so you can fix the root cause. cluttering reality. Whittling down the small grievances brings greater freedom. It leads to self-examination. Unshackling yourself from external expectations is as much as a tragedy as it is a weird form of release.

You are not your job or your things or social standing or lack thereof. So if you’re not your job or your things, friends or social position then who are you? Cue refrain from The Who. Rinse & repeat.

I came to terms with my sexuality at 24. Ten years later and I’m blasted with an unexpected mental diagnosis. The damning double shots of completing several goals while on the cusp of unrealized mania. I felt indestructible and invulnerable. I didn’t care what anyone thought anymore. The brazen armor of grandiose confidence is intoxicating. I felt completely liberated. Full blown mania is like having liquid courage and beer goggles for limitless days without the alcohol or hangover. The final crash, months later, was worse than any weekend partying or misstep I’ve ever taken. I don’t know if the world will ever shine as brightly ever again.

I don’t blame anyone for judging. Right now a lot of this unintended reality just fucking sucks. Because this was not supposed to be my life. I didn’t betray myself, finances, future, my family & friends on purpose. I’ve always been the person who seems to get in way more trouble when they make mistakes compared to others. Perhaps because certain behaviors seem out of character or frustrations that I never seem to learn. Maybe you invite criticism because of difficultly setting muddled boundaries from the get go. You can rail against, curse, or plead your case but there’s no escaping that your new normal is studied in abnormal psych 400.

That culminated with a book decrying the shackles of the past which got tangled up in unrelated circumstances going on. Multiple frustrations with my job, and a couple relationships fed the frenetic gasoline winds of mania. The behavior becomes more erratic finding matches every where to light fires you didn’t know were inside of you. Cool, the time I get a little attention I also go off the deep end on social media.

The pendulum doesn’t stop swinging just because you got off the ride. This slow motion beheading keeps repeating in my mind. One solution just brings another problem into greater focus. A second Hydra head growing in place of the singular cut down beast.

So if you’re mad at me, or still think I deserve to be punished, or just over it, trust, I’m so over myself. That’s why I don’t want to blog anymore.

The self-spoken diatribes against myself have been more brutal than any venom you could spit in this direction.

Forgiving is also a form of acceptance. You acknowledge that a grievance occurred and make amends towards restitution. Forgiveness to others usually comes easy for me. It’s an on going process and sometimes you have to forgive other people a hundred times before cutting them off. Maybe science will perfect time travel but even then we cannot escape ourselves. You can run but cannot hide. So I’m baring it all again because I can’t do it alone and can’t pretend I have it all together.

But I’m putting my shoes on and packing my bags once more because Britney survived 2007 and ancestors survived much worse. You might be facing eviction, infidelity, bereavement of a loved one, grief over the losses in your own life. If I can get through this tumultuous time I promise you can too. You can face whatever comes down the road. You are never as alone or lost as you think. You are consciousness wrapped in flesh and you will be so much stronger and clearer than before.

When your life has whittled down to a scant collection throw fire upon the remnants of your old existence. Use the flames to power your growth. A kiln in the fire. Physical and relational losses have become symbolic. Shedding away former identities and aspects of self that were shrouded from seeing. Stripped and bare-boned. A lot of the best things happen when you feel the fear and do it anyway. How we react how we deal with blowbacks and pileups- that is who we really are.

Idealistic temperaments, mood disorders, and bad credit scores often don’t lend themselves to ideal paychecks and parking spaces. There exists a place for all types of lifeforms out in nature. There has to be places for each one of us, too.

I’m retreating to nature. I let the grief rush through me in liquid form. In swells of water fallen mountain streams. Sometimes your heart cries out for assistance and you don’t even know that’s what all this is about. It’s okay. You will be okay. You must give yourself grace to see that you are still worthy. You must allow your own life to blossom again.

If this weight was cast upon me for no reason I will use it to light another path, even if no one follows. I’m about to make it on my own.

I can’t wait to live in pine mountains and taste sea salt in the air. Wherever you are right now I swear that you will eventually make it to where you are going. “You’re gonna make it after all.” Da da da duh- hat toss. (Mary Tyler Moore)

Queer and Bloating in Wyoming- “Bipolar’s Coming at you like a dark horse”

Don’t you kind of hate it when people say something happens for a reason? It’s a pretty great rationalization technique for a crisis after the fact. A “god in the gaps” defense to explain that this particular suffering has a purpose and to quell grumblers and complainers mulling around physical deserts or the ones we erect to explain our own undoing.

The Undoing will come one way or another, but how this process comes depends on the right amount of variables clicking into place. Bipolar’s Coming at you like a Dark Horse. (See: Pegasus; Katy Perry)

There were so many clues and inconsistencies within my life that went detected, criticized, shamed but the root cause was never identified. If I drove you crazy at times, how do you think I felt not being able to explain a certain action when I didn’t know either?

I am not excusing behavior or thoughts or patterns of living because of misdiagnosed mental health. It’s not a get out of jail free card. But it is bail money. It’s enough to get me back in the right direction and away from the very litigious self-castigation team working in my own thoughtsicles.

I kept coming back to and searching myself for answers. I had a whole fucking house, thousands of dollars in furniture, paintings, books, clothing in storage. How did I miss paying my storage bill? The payments were on autopay, so how could I have missed it? I literally lost everything because I couldn’t even see past the filter mania had involuntary unleashed upon my own mind and emotions. And I couldn’t forgive myself for it.

My debit card got eaten by an ATM in Colorado 1.5 weeks into my road trip. I used my credit card for all expenses and paid the balance off every day. By the time I got a new debit card, and another check for $10,000- I had already been suicidal and my sister had to come rescue me in Seattle. I just figured it would work itself out and my bank would know to pay them. I didn’t look at my bank account for about two months. I was going to get a book deal and recording contract and or win the lottery and would just buy all new things.

It was months later that I found out my father had also flown to Seattle in secret. My mouth dropped open when my sister told me this on MLK Jr. Day. “He came because he wanted to be close by in case you needed him.” But I didn’t once ask for him. I was completely floored and started sobbing. What a selfish prick I am.

He flew to Seattle and rented a car and followed my sister and I down to Portland, and then to Crater Lake, and finally in San Francisco. My sister had told me, “Josh, dad is willing to come meet you and you guys can finish the trip together.” I thought about it and decided to ask him to come meet me at the Grand Canyon. The symbolism was not lost on me. The great chasm between my father and I would be summited in the desert of Arizona. I told her that this sounded really cool and that I would ask him when I got closer to Arizona.

“Why didn’t y’all tell me he was there?” Jess replied to me in her direct but tender way, “you weren’t ready to see him and we thought it might set you off.” She’s probably right of course, but I don’t think I would have stayed so mad for so long if I had been able to reconcile with my dad at that time.

I wish I would have dropped everything and called my dad and asked him to meet me right then. It was never to be though because mania resurfaced the day after I dropped my sister off in San Francisco.

And it didn’t end until months later when I was in Mexico feeling like the world was collapsing around me. It is my biggest regret I didn’t reach out to my father or to anyone. It’s hard to break past your own blockade of isolationist policy of breaking down in solitude.

I was still paying over $1,400 a month in bills during my travels. Then my car got towed in San Francisco- a $555 fine for parking one foot away from a curb. I went on Instagram live that night and decried the ills of Western greed and the lack based mentality we’ve been conditioned into believing. That fine only proved my point but it was also the last great warning that I needed to reassess my actions before things got even more out of hand. That was the first week of October.

I ticked off nearly every symptom of the mania checklist but was still sure I was just experiencing a break because of ptsd, cessation of medications, and a whole score of other situations I’ve already discussed. I would have resisted and refused a bipolar diagnosis had it just been the mania.

But after my wallet was stolen, and my book didn’t take off as I thought, when my belongings were auctioned off and then my phone was stolen- My spirit was nearly broken. I couldn’t understand how I had said so many harsh and hurtful things and was acting completely out of character. I couldn’t figure out how I let myself down by blowing through my savings.

I was wrenched with hopelessness and suicidal almost every day for two months. Racked with guilt and so confused by my actions. How did I get so out of control? It was the crushing depression that led me to seek out more answers and professional help.

There were three more months of exhilarating highs and 3 of the hardest lessons I’ve ever experienced to occur before any reflection occurred.

If this sounds like a twisted morality tale of unfortunate circumstances- it’s not because I got the wrong fairy godmother. When I realized there was a mental health connection so many of the loose marbles started to find their place again. Having a general answer gave me strength to confront myself.

To be continued….

Second book in progress: Queer and Bloating in Wyoming

I apologize for the radio silence of late. I’ve been reflecting on some deep truths and adjusting to life after a half year of traveling. I am excited to be moving to Washington state in two weeks! Back to the working world of 8-5 but still writing!. This is a short post with an excerpt from my second book in progress-

Queer and Bloating in Wyoming: an American Manic Roadtrip.

“You’re probably bipolar.” Three words and a contraction. Full diagnosis for half of a life’s sentence. I’m introspective as fuck. How the hell did I miss this? Tack that on to the quantum list of ceaseless questions gaining traction in my mind grapes every day. It’s like finding out you’re adopted after always suspecting you weren’t born into this family.

This is not a death sentence it’s a relief to know there was a method behind the madness. #stopmakingsense

Looking back at my life and the past 9 months or so I see bipolar littered throughout my life. Things make so much Fucking sense seen through the lens of bipolar mood disorder. I was manic for the first time in my life at least 4-5 months. How did it take me so long to realize this?

This is also the longest I’ve ever been sober in my adult life.

6 weeks might not seem a lot, but it’s enough to get a report card in school or have a wild fling or to reflect in silent locked solitude. #soulittude.

I’m sober because this has been the longest stretch of depression in my adult life. Which was preceded by the longest period and first full blown mania I’ve ever experienced. 5 months of mania and I didn’t see it until my depression kicked in.

Coming off of my medications proved to be more destructive than ever expected. And my support system had lost a lot of its legs. I don’t think I would have found the link to bipolar had everything gone perfectly to plan.

There were points in my trip I was a madman chugging down miles of interstate; casting off vestiges of former friends & life. I was radically free for the first time ever. But how much of that was real? I’ll never really know.

Photographs, a journal, and new diagnosis will help light the way.

I put a lot on my plate. More than was intended. The brilliant adventures I was seeking occurred almost daily. Writing a book in the midst of moving while on a roadtrip definitely checked a few boxes off the bucket list. There was an undercurrent of proving myself that occurred at the very onset of my leaving due to several friendships ending within the same week I received a lot of unexpected attention 3 days after publishing my website. The financial, emotional, mental stabilities I had worked years to achieve began to unravel. I had money to burn and institutions to scorn- thumbing my nose at the traditional relational levels.

As a mental health professional I know that on paper it’s not normal to feel suicidal. I have intervened on the behalf of clients, friends, and family members who have reached that point in their lives.

The Eureka moment came when I realized I had been suicidal every day for a month and it clicked, “oh that’s not a normal reaction.” Yet the many times I have gone there in the past it’s become second nature to spiral down so quickly.

I speak of Suicide prevention yet have been be dealing with those same thoughts off and on for a while.

What would my life have been like if I had been diagnosed as a teenager? How many hardships and years of substance abuse would have been avoided if this was caught back during the days of teenage wasteland?

It makes me wonder how many other people are misdiagnosed or overcompensating or not compensating for unseen and undiagnosed factors in their lives.

This is the longest I’ve been sober in my adult life.

Mania started in June and didn’t end until December 2018. This was the first time I’ve ever had a full blown manic panic. The first depression in a decade began at the end of April. I see that now.

This past summer was the most free I have ever been. no medications, no job thousands of dollars in hand, and a point to prove I had nothing left to anchor me.

I’ve always had a reason to come back to sanity before.

The mania was in full swing in July but I didn’t know it. Still I flew off the porch unhinged and wild. I railed at the nails on the floorboards of the life and some people I loved whom I was leaving behind.

I was out of control and didn’t know how to stop.

Past actions each a bead of water pregnantly paused in a spider’s web. All connected but still retaining their structures and individual forms. Then down comes the web and washed the spider out. Scarcely aware of the razor-thin tightrope this itzy-bitzy was walking. Figuring out you’re bipolar at America’s most recently active volcano while 33 years old.

The signs were there but they went into hiding and were manageable or I explained them as just reaching my breaking point. The thought of bipolar had crossed my mind, but I never had a full blown manic episode until this last summer.

My former depression could always be explained with circumstances- angst due to combatting unwanted sexual desires with Jesus to no avail, or the loss of a relationship or goal. I never considered it could be chemical or genetically related.

The severity and length would last depending upon the circumstances too. If things were generally going well for me I could snap out of a depressive episode in a jiff. I haven’t experienced the lows of a depression so intense since I was suicidal in China.

The confusing aspect of mania is looking back and wandering if you ever lived a happy moment or was each moment just a flicker of the filtered mental ethers. It all laid out like a wick of a long fuse a Jungian subterfuge weaving its way around the bipolar possibility. Self-aggrandizing in so many moments. I’m tired of talking about myself. It’s so hard not to condemn yourself or previous actions. I don’t want to be selfish or cause someone to bear the brunt of my pain. I use this as an execution ground. Dying to parts that no longer serve me and nurture the people and strengths that are in my favor.