Brighter Diamonds on Haight-Ashbury

We block our light because we don’t believe in our own brilliance. We are more than cobwebbed echoes floating through eternal space. We are brighter diamonds, sparkling in the deep night sky. ✨✨

I moved to San Francisco 3 weeks ago and am filled with gratitude. The way that took me here has been winding, filled with adventure, and absolute heartache. But I’ve come to realize that we are the ones holding ourselves back from our horizons.

11/16/2021 Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco.

We block our light because we don’t believe in our own brilliance. We are more than cobwebbed echoes floating through eternal space. We are brighter diamonds, sparkling in the deep night sky. ✨✨

Love on Haight, San Francisco

We are vast beings beyond our physical bodies and minds. We are consciousness born anew every day. It’s startling to witness & difficult to understand. True being can only be lived wild and unfettered- out beyond our finite comprehension.

Freedom feels dangerous because we’ve been conditioned to fear the strength of our own dreams. The ways to awakening are before us at every moment.

In each attempt to create the best version of yourself you actually become that person. Through every act of conscious co-creation we bring Earth into greater expansion.

For we too will one day be buried, and all of this will have become so beautiful.

In that final moment what will your last thought be?

Perhaps we are here simply to guide each other along the conversation of life. Pieces and people come together when you are ready for them to be put into place. Inspiration arises organically when you surrender to your dreams. Walking every arduous step led you to now. 🔥

All of us is everything and everything is us. Separation is an illusion. Nothing is greater than being the love that changed you. Everything which came before was preparing the way to your calling. Become your full potential. That is how the light gets in. Go to where your destiny is taking you. That is how you change the world. 🖤🌈🌏❤️✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻🥰🙏✨

Carl & Other Thoughts On BIPOC LGBTQIA Liberation

It took Carl guts to publicly announce his sexuality. But at the end of the day Carl Nissab can physically, financially, take care of himself. He has the support of the NFL. There’s Democrats in office and most of all he can be a Pride month show horse for convenient capitalism. The NFL is also banking on White Privilege to support Carl’s homosexuality. Someone had to do it eventually. But what if a Black or Latinx player wanted to come out? There’s a lot of cultural and political reasons why that probably wouldn’t happen. How would that have played out on the home field?

So we’re into football now. 🤣 Congrats to Carl Nissab for openly owning his sexuality!! Representation is super important, but one white player declaring their sexual orientation doesn’t change the rules of patriarchal games.

Raiders Defensive End, Carl Nissab

It doesn’t negate the fact that it’s ILLEGAL to be LGBTQIA in 69 countries. #ironic. Or that many of the people who watch Carl play, voted against trans youth from playing in them/they/their sports.

Teen suicide rates have dropped since marriage equality was legalized. But LGBTQIA youth are 8 times more likely to kill themselves than their heteronormative counterparts.

You may not see it, however social workers & counselors see kids who are still being told they are wrong for having same sex attractions or non-binary gender identifications.

White men have also colonized the narrow pelvic arc & declared private acts immoral except for ones they like themselves. 🎤

It took Carl guts to publicly announce his sexuality. But unlike many in the LGBTQIA community Carl Nissab can physically & financially take care of himself at this point. There’s a slim majority of Democrats in office. Finally, he’s kind of a convenient Pride month showhorse for the NFL Corporation.

The NFL is banking on White Privilege to support Carl’s sexual orientation. Someone had to do it eventually. But what if a Black, Asian, or Latinx player wanted to come out?

There’s a lot of cultural context and personal considerations to unpack with any decision like this. There are unfortunately very religious, financial & political reasons that wouldn’t play out on the home field just yet.

The same could be true for myself, friends, for many of us out there in the adult gay community. As difficult as it was for us to grapple with our sexuality, we’re still benefitting and from being Caucasian. It’s not a condemnation. It’s just something White gays need to be aware of.

You don’t get to just show up tipsy to 1 Pride Parade and that’s your Queer “Couture of Duty” for the year. 🤣

Just like Our Black Drag Mothers use silhouettes & songs to elevate the community- we must use our privilege & platforms. We must look out for our LGBTQIA+ fam lacking systemic access, relatives, or support networks.

Follow @HeyMissZarah on Instagram!

There are kids of all races and backgrounds living in foster homes, social work offices, in various places all across the world and country who may never have the opportunities to be openly queer, or to transition without fear of retaliation, or being abandoned, or feel safe enough to use a bathroom.

We’ve been conditioned to think “maybe it’s okay for a pop-star or an artist to be gay.” Yet homosexuality in sports is portrayed as gross and morally wrong.

LGBTQIA & BIPOC individuals are silently shamed into compliance at every societal level. So we’re flipping the script and creating cultures of equity, solidarity, & empowerment for all of us.

It’s as if fragile male identities would be destroyed if they found out a guy who works out & wears spandex might be punting for the same team. That has everything to do w/ the spectators than it does about being a “real” cis-gendered male. They still won’t let women play ball unless it’s off the field.Just like electing one Black POTUS & 1 female Black, Indian, & Asian VP are historic steps- they come 400 years too late. His important declaration doesn’t derail the religious & systemic oppressions which caused him or us to “come out” in the first place.

Unless we uproot the sources of racism and homophobia we’re only severing branches. We gotta stop paying lip service to the idea of queer & BIPOC liberation & own it.

You are free within your mind. The false dichotomies exist to divide us. Those in power conquer us while we squabble against one another. You have the ability and freewill to determine your emotions. You have the ability to deprogram yourselves. Personal transformation occurs in purposeful action by individuals, the establishment, & society.

Maybe more queer kids would play more sports if we had felt safe on the team. As Carl said, “representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope one day, the whole coming-out process won’t be necessary.” It’s the hope many people share. At least we know Carl’s out there on the field and he’s not alone. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤍🤎

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.

Express Yourself, Respect Yourself, Baby!

There’s a freedom to be who you are in Portland and it’s sacred. This city is unlike any place I’ve lived. The overall ethos of the city is to live with respect and communion with all people and harmony with the Earth, without pigeonholing everyone into tidy labels and categories. That’s one reason why this city (and so many others) are ready to come together to helping other people, communities, social groups.

If it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander 😅

Speaking out against oppression and refusing the status quo has been a hallmark of Portland’s overall championing of social justice and human rights in various domains. The added bonus of empowering others gives one a new sense of ownership in their own lives.

Facing down police brutality and calling out fascism with thousands of like-minded people emboldens even millions more to physically and mentally stand up to corruption and agents in many facets of society.

It’s helping many of us grow and retrain our private thoughts and actions in our personal lives.

You cannot grow in the same place that forced you to expand.

And if you are not growing it will be very hard to stay in complete balance. Too often contentedness leads to complacency with apathy not too far behind. One begins to wither, grow bitter, or blameful without continual observation, discussion, and contemplation. We must tend and cultivate our inner gardens even when they are not in beautiful luscious blooms of life.

Until recently I realized I still had/have shame of owning or talking about the sexual aspects of my sexuality. Though I am gay and proud of it- many of us have been conditioned through the lens of cis-gendered hetero-normative White Christian practices and policies.

We have been culturally manipulated by the Church, as a whole, to believe that our sexual organs are to be hidden- tucked away. The act of sex is restricted to procreation and otherwise is condemned and mostly immoral.

We are shamed out of acting upon our innate biological drives. The reproductive organs of our physical form are shamed due to cultural and religious mores that have caused women and so many other people groups shamed out of not only being comfortable in our own bodies.

For Black people, and Indigenous and People of color they are shamed, generationally oppressed, and persecuted just for the color and melanin of their skin.

The falling away of stifled and unnecessary cultural mores- of even the ability just to be free from the constrains of clothing in Oregon & other places in the world has given many people (self included) a new ownership in many areas of our lives.

Especially where owning the physical and sexual ascpects of myself proudly and without fear of breaking rigid taboos that seem so silly and antiquated now.

The more comfortable one is with themselves the more they able to make spaces for others to feel safe and also express their individuality.

Symbiotic relationships aren’t just relegated to sea creatures and cute orange fish with a short fin. We exist in constant feedback loops- of a taking in new information, processing that information, and our reaction is a result of variables and life experiences that cause us to grow, shrink away in timidity, recoil in disgust, aid in oppression, or revolt against tyrannies.

The broadening and active efforts to achieve social equality, championing of human rights, and equity across is all tribes, races sexual orientations, gender identities, polyamorous and many more identities and lifestyles embolden each one of us to embrace our own selves and elevate to a higher aspect of ourselves.

To Those who are struggling with your sexuality, gender, coming to terms with a non-heteronormative identity. I truly hope you will find yourself. You are worth living your truest life.

Follow your inner guidance- your life is your own. The Earth is ready to teach us the true power of humanity.

We must first accept that power for ourselves and not be afraid to treat yourself right, Express yourself, Show it off and show yourself and others a sustainably respectful good time.

The Long Ride Home pt. 1

In 2017 I told myself, “When I move to Portland, I’m going skiing after work.”

I moved here one year ago, and for the past 2 months I’ve been gratefully skiing on the Earth’s mirror, scarcely believing this is home now.

It was one of those dreams we all have like building a house, visiting some far-flung land, getting married, working a great job, wanting to be happy. Often the dreams we most want start from a small place of desire without resistance and without knowing how or if it’s all going to come together.

Initial desires seem far-fetched at first, but the mere possibility that a dream could actually come into being has spurred on almost every piece of music, and war, building of homes and skyscrapers, each knitting together of a family that has ever existed.

When you’re young you must depend on another to provide your needs and desires. What if there’s no one there you can trust or depend on to make this happen? What if you grew up without a suitable parent to trust? And those of us who did have that initial trust wish we grew up with a trust fund. As we get older all of the responsibilities lay on our shoulders.

Doubt in our ability to attain goals, and relationships, our states of being, begin at a young age because certain experiences ended in a bad way for us, or we watched it end badly for others, or were told of it in Bible stories and political propaganda.

Or because of dead-end jobs and life in dead-end states or series of failed dates and families have shown us that we don’t get what we want. That dreaming is wasteful. That it is easier to live that life you were born into and the chip on your shoulder you’ve been given. The kids and parents I work with often feel this way and they’re not wrong for feeling so. They’ve been betrayed by family members and country for generations.

When I moved here a year ago, my life had recently devolved into chaos and loss. A published book and traveling adventures came at a huge cost. Mental health issues that had been wading in darkness were finally brought forth into light. That glaring light shone upon the frayed sutures holding my life together. I discovered they weren’t there at all.

Relationships fell apart at seams that seemed unbreakable. Upon reflection I was trying to keep together a life that had not been fulfilling with some relationships where I was pouring into others without much in return. It felt like I was pouring myself into others whose wells were bottomless and insatiable. The water ran dry within myself until there was nothing left to give and finally snapped.

I came up here not knowing what was going to happen or if I was actually going to make it. “What if none of this works out?” I asked myself. I could not handle another devastating blow in any sense of the word.

There was literally nothing physically left in my physical possession save my car and everything I had taken on my cross-country road trip and to Mexico. The plans made and money saved to make a smooth transition from Texas to Portland were unintentionally torn asunder by my own two hands and addled mind.

The first 2 months of 2019, were spent in Texas taking stock of what was left and what had ended. Most of what was still true of my life actually remained. Family and friends still loved me. I still loved to hike and be amongst open-minded kind people.

With the proper diagnoses you can then utilize the tools which can help you live a vibrant and authentic life. Medication, therapy, being enveloped with nature, starting almost completely from scratch were some of the tools in my new wheelhouse.

The West had been calling me forward for a long time. Years before the recent schism. So I asked myself, “What if moving to Portland actually does work out?” Some callings are greater than our circumstances.

Slowly, the same two hands and a properly medicated mind created the life I now find myself living. Everything brought me to Now, and I am happy. What good is it to curse the former difficulties?

I strive to make decisions for the highest good, maintaining boundaries I had so easily let be taken of advantage of in the past, pouring into others while keeping enough in my own well. Positive friendships and relationships have blossomed and have begun to flourish. And as is the way of life New challenges are always on our horizons. Sometimes the horizon itself has literally shifted due to where we find ourselves geographically in the world.

PNW winters challenge the hardiest of souls. To go weeks with cold rain and without sunlight cause many of to withdraw inward. The respite was welcoming at first. But as the perpetual gloom lingered I went into nature less and less. Being in nature was part of my healing process and I stopped going outdoors because of the wet and weary weather. Then I went skiing for one of my roommate’s birthdays and remembered how much I loved this winter activity.

At the end of January, I took new stock of my situation and realized “this life up here is working out and I like it.” When you have recovered from difficult periods you begin really appreciating the reasons that make you live. The shift happens when you begin to seek them out.

So I bought my first ski season pass, skis and gear, and it’s unexpectedly changed parts of my life. Skiing has become a passion and one I often do on my own. Learning new skills help to imbue oneself with confidence that translates into other areas.

I’ll be speeding 40 mph down a black in exhilaration and wondering how the hell I didn’t crash.

Then I tell myself, “I’ve done this before, I know how to ski on piste, and how to talk to this client, and I know how to get out of bed and out of debt. I’ve done each many times before.” And I get out of my own way.

There are times I do bite it, are not as scary as the first time and it happened and now I know how to more easily correct myself when shredding powder or craving on ice.

Skiing is a fluid conversation with the mountain. It’s a mind-body, seasonal and multi-elemental connection. Finding ourselves upon mountains, to ski upon them, is honors the mountain within.

There is nothing more alive than when you feel the thrill of living. It’s as close to flying as we can come. The closest to breaking the bonds of Earth- of our frailties and also of our courage.

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.