Friday, April 17, 2020

Pandemic Joyride

So there’s obviously a natural emotional response that makes sense when in the middle of a global pandemic, right? Some of us lost jobs (or businesses), we’re broke, we can’t pay rent, and we’re stuck at home with the mainstream media escalating our already mounting anxieties making us think that maybe we’re all gonna die along with everyone we know and love.

If I’m being honest, there’s probably a few people I secretly hope will get sick and never recover; but that’s a different blog. 

All kidding aside (I might not have been kidding about that last bit), it’s a tough time emotionally and it’s actually made worse, if you can believe it, by the fact that triggered emotions bring to the surface other associated emotional traumas. 

I’ve come to affectionately (sarcasm) refer to these extended triggers as “emotional threads.” 

When one of these emotional threads gets triggered it’s like someone got a hold of the end of a string burdened with old tin cans and they’re, infuriatingly, shaking the shit out of it causing such a ruckus you can’t think straight. Except in this case the string is your emotion and the cans are all your unprocessed emotional baggage associated with that emotional trigger so what it really feels like is someone kicking you repeatedly in the gut while they scream in your face that you suck and nobody likes you after stealing your milk money.

So in light of this emotional joyride we’re on, I thought I’d share my very own emotional experience with you because we’re all bored and I thought my story might make you feel better about your own. If this plan backfires and it makes you feel worse because your life experiences have been infinitely suckier than mine, I apologize sincerely in advance and may I recommend ice cream and netflix as your next stop on the covid-19 isolation train?

So far, my Pandemic Triggered Emotional Thread, PTET (I just made up that acronym!  I’m so proud) looks like this: 
The destabilization and economic collapse caused by the pandemic triggered an initial emotional response of anxiety for me because I’m terrified of not having enough food, or money to meet my basic needs. This in turn triggered the associated emotional thread caused by every experience I ever had as a young human that created this deep seated fear of not having enough. 

For instance: (my first big can on the string as far as I can recall) when I was 11 or 12 my sense of security at home fell apart when my mom and dad had an argument and my mom left for 2 weeks, taking my two little brothers with her, but leaving me and my sister behind. My sense of familial security was shaken like a sapling in a hurricane leaving little behind but a broken trunk and scattered branches. 

But at least I still had a roof over my head, under which I baked the loneliest pumpkin pie on the planet for Thanksgiving which I burned the shit out of because I forgot it in the oven and then ate anyway, by myself. 
But the most fundamental element of my home, my mother, had in my mind abandoned me. 

(Second can on the string) A year or so later, what was left of that figurative sapling, representing in this case my remaining sense of basic security, was ripped out by the roots and mercilessly butchered and left for dead when I was thrown out of the house at the very mature and capable age of 13. I was hungry and confused trying to process emotions far beyond my capacity while  hunkered down in a shithole apartment with a bunch of other lost (mostly teenage) souls. 

Fast forward a few years and after a wild ride of shitty apartments, living on the streets, shelters, dumpster diving for food, a short stay with a teacher from my junior high school, and some depressingly poor decision making regarding $3 and bag of sugar,  I was living back “home” and, surprise, I was pregnant at 15. 

(Another can on string. This is like the twelve days of christmas except depressing) 
When I was 7 months pregnant with my son (now I was 16 years old because I had a birthday in which I, regrettably, attempted to eat my weight in vegetable fried rice) I was sent to stay with a friend of my sister’s who was in college at the time. I slept on the concrete tiled floor of her dorm room pretending I was fine there despite the fact that my softened tailbone caused excruciating pain and sometimes made it impossible for me to move or get up, but I never complained, about that or the fact that I was starving (maybe literally) because I had no money for food and didn’t dare ask for any.
I had baked some bran muffins at my mom’s house prior to leaving  and those lasted me a few days so at least I was regular if not well fed.

It never occurred to me that my needs mattered. Why would they? I had already learned unequivocally that my mom didn’t care about me enough to stay with me when I was 12, that I didn’t deserve to live at home when I was 13, and that my parents weren’t obligated to provide for me in even the most rudimentary ways. 

My sense of self worth was basically non-existent so I was grateful that someone cared enough to let me sleep on their floor and that I wasn’t, at least, sleeping on the streets. 

We normalize abuse and neglect when we don’t know any other reality. 

These experiences are just a few of the cans on the string of this heavily burdened emotional thread, but along this same emotional thread are every other experience I have related to the anxiety that comes with wondering if I’ll have enough to eat, a roof over my head, and emotionally whether anyone really loves, or wants me. 

So Imagine again the string of cans that this time represent your own emotional thread and realize that this pandemic is shaking the everlivingshit out of that string too. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted and it’s okay if you need a break. 

The triggering of emotional threads offers an extremely valuable opportunity to engage with the emotions, our false perceptions about our self worth, and to write a different version of the same story from the perspective of an adult with mature analytical skills. But the intensity of the emotional bombardment can be way too much and it’s important to be compassionate with yourself and give yourself permission to feel like shit sometimes. 

Personally, I am giving myself permission to feel however I feel in the moment, asking my amazing partner who has the patience of a god, to be patient with me even when I freak out and sob in the kitchen because he used a cup of our dwindling supply of rice for turkey soup that I can’t eat because I don’t eat turkey and there is no rice at the grocery store because everyone is hoarding the fucking rice even though half of them don’t know how to fucking cook it! 

If all we do for ourselves during this pandemic is acknowledge the validity of our emotions and give ourselves a moment to just experience it for what it is through conversation, writing, napping, reading, crying, exercising, painting, or ranting in a blog before diving into the next episode on Netflix, that will be a step in the right direction.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Emotional Self Defense...a memory

Yesterday, I was reminded of a moment, a hard moment, in my past that contributed to a pattern of defensiveness that I carry even to this day, even with the people I love most. Perhaps especially with the people I love the most.

I strongly believe that in order to make progress, real progress, in society and the world at large, we have to be able to relate to each other emotionally. It's the one thing, the one language, if you will, regardless of our individual stories, that we all speak and have in common. Even if, for some, emotional language recall is a little rusty.

Relating to each other emotionally leads to compassion, which leads to the possibility of communication, which leads to the possibility of understanding each others perspectives (even if we don't agree). 

In this light, I've decided to start sharing some of my own experiences that represent, not just the emotional pain that has contributed to my own perspectives and defenses, but experiences that represent the human emotional defense response which arrives by default when life hands us more than we are capable of processing. 

Not unlike the adrenaline that kicks in to protect us from the worst of the pain when we are physically wounded, our emotional defensiveness acts to protect us from the worst of our emotional pain. 

Eventually, though, the adrenaline wears off and we feel the pain of our physical injuries while our wounds heal. Eventually too, our emotional defenses should come down so we can face the pain of our emotional wounds, equally real, in order to also heal those wounds. 

A memory...
I was a 13 year old living with Wendy; a teacher and a single mom at my junior high school who took me in when she heard I was living in a shelter.
I had been doing really well, living in her home with her and her 9 year old daughter, Lacy. It was a different life, and a good one. One I couldn’t have imagined after being kicked out and spending time hungry on the streets, or in the shelter; a depressing place full of kids that either didn’t have, or had been rejected by, their families.
Wendy cared, somehow, about me, and I was starting to feel, if not secure, at least less vulnerable in my new environment.
Buffered from reality, and having stuffed the pain of being rejected by my own family far enough into the shadows I could pretend it didn’t hurt, I was back in school (going to class even), and had laid off the drugs.
Wendy had taken me shopping for clothes that weren’t black, covered with heavy metal band pictures, or torn intentionally to shreds; and I wore them.
I may have even liked it. My new self.
She took me to the grocery store. Asked me what I like to eat. Told me to pick my own box of cereal; whatever I wanted.
Alphabits, I remember, with the little marshmallows.
I have no idea why this made such an impression, but it did. To this day in the grocery story I remind myself that I can have whatever I want.
She helped me with homework. Actually made sure it was done and that I turned it in.
She showed an interest in me.
It didn’t take much.
I don’t remember how or where, but I ran into my sister one day, whom I hadn’t seen since right after we were kicked out and had gone our separate ways.
She was still on the run, robbing churches to buy food, and probably drugs, sleeping who knows where. We spent a few hours together, she and I, with another friend, Lee, who overdosed, on heroine a few years later and died.
My sister.
My family, who I missed desperately but had no one safe enough to admit that to. Not even myself.
We probably smoked a joint, drank some booze illegally purchased, no doubt, by an of-age friend. I don’t remember the details now.
While we were together she re-shaved my mohawk, which I had been letting grow out along with my attitude problem and my drug habit, reconnecting in the only way we were capable of at the time; through the catastrophe of our mutual emotional deprivation.
Fuck “progress” and my “new self.” This was bigger.
We might be fucked up but she... she knows me. It was a relief to not feel, not be alone.

By the time she dropped me off at Wendy’s, a place that had felt like a safe haven, I was high, had a newly shaved head, and, having been reminded of how far I was from home, had retreated to the safety and familiarity of my epically bad attitude.  
Wendy’s was the last place I wanted to be.
A place reminding me of how isolated I was from my family who no longer wanted me. Helplessly sad to leave my sister not knowing when, or even if,  I would see her again, guilty knowing I had a place to sleep while she didn’t. The separation from her was unbearable, the loneliness unfathomable and I, being 13, was so, so far from having the emotional maturity to recognize or process any of it.

I arrived at Wendy’s house an intruder. This was someone else’s home. Someone else’s life. Not mine.  
I didn’t belong anywhere.
Wendy could have given me all the love in the world, and she tried, but hers was not the love I needed.
She knew something had changed the moment I walked in.
My demeanor. My attitude.  
When she asked, “Are you okay?” I was defensive.
Angry even.

But only because there is no way for an unwanted child to safely say, “I want to go home.”


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Is it Safe to Come Out?

I wonder at the impact of this election result. The effect it will have on individuals, on our country, and on our behavior toward each other.

I find myself more curious than contemptuous.

The responsibility for this outcome is widespread but above all, the mainstream media (MSM) failed the American people. Not because they missed the mark on the general election polls, but because they failed to report the full story to the people throughout the primary, instead promoting the agenda of the DNC without regard to the truth.

They blacked out the most significant political movement since civil rights.

Tens of thousands of people showed up to rallies across the US in support of Bernie Sanders; the MSM was silent. Grassroots movements popped up like daisies mobilizing previously unengaged demographics in politics; the MSM said nothing. Millions of people engaged on social media all over the world spreading the word about Bernie Sanders; still nothing from the MSM.

Fair media coverage alone could have affected the outcome of the primary, and ultimately the general election, by informing the general public of the reality and legitimacy of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate.

Fair and relevant coverage would have had the MSM attending and reporting on the massive turn out to Sanders’ rallies, the huge influx of newly registered voters motivated by the Sanders campaign, record breaking engagement on social media and grassroots organizations, thousands of posts that went viral for Sanders, and the hundreds of thousands of people who engaged in the political process for the first time.

It was among  the most significant events in US history, and the because of the corruption of the MSM, the DNC, and the Clinton Campaign, it wasn’t covered.

The Media and the DNC manipulated the system and the people in order to win, their plan backfired catastrophically, they removed a strong, legitimate candidate that could have won, and when the truth surfaced about their collusion, they effectively alienated enough voters to hand the victory, no matter how atrocious, to Donald Trump.

So here we are. Evolution has it’s own painfully slow trajectory.

Having already experienced the agony of waking up to the sad state of our government and media, the results of this election are far from surprising. I’m not shocked or any angrier than I was before. Many of us already knew this was coming.

For many though, the truth of our corrupt government and media was too scary a reality to face, but truth is inevitable. The consequences of our ignorance could be dire, and we will all pay the price regardless of which “side” we are on.

Despite my disappointment, I have great compassion for people in this heartbreaking time.
The moment of disillusionment is a painful one and this moment in history is unsettling to say the least.

They say no progress can be made from a place of denial.

Well America, I hope you’re awake cause we’ve got a LOT of work to do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today, I'm Calm

Today I’m calm.

Maybe because I lost all faith in government and humanity months ago during the primaries. I was forced to face the reality of a devastatingly corrupt government, a manipulative mainstream media, and a population so divided it’s hard to imagine how we exist together in relative peace on a day to day basis. That, and the fact that the number of people in power concerned with the well being of the people over profits are too small a minority to matter.

No one cared that the primary was rigged, that millions of votes weren’t counted, that HRC didn’t actually win the popular vote, that the national polls pointed to Bernie Sanders being a landslide winner while HRC was a mere tie at best with some polls showing not-a-chance-in-hell odds at worst.

I didn’t wait until election day to determine that for this shitshow, there is no happy ending.

The disturbing reality of a trump presidency is exactly what we get for creating a system as undemocratic as the electoral college which clearly selects rather than elects a candidate, even if that candidate is statistically weak.

After the cluster-fuck that was the democratic primary, Hillary Clinton could have extended welcoming remarks to Sanders supporters. Instead she further alienated people with her arrogant statements that she didn’t need their votes and the inevitability of her presidency was, in effect, “already done.”

More disturbing than the insulting nature of such a statement from a presidential candidate was the blatant lack of respect for the democratic process and the voices of the people.

Media silence kept the American public uniformed while propaganda kept them misinformed. Throughout the primary the primary objective of the mainstream media was to  push the agenda of the DNC.

It’s an interesting day when even election rigging and media collusion can’t get you elected.  

We’ll blame wikileaks, third party voters, and whoever the “others” are in our minds because we have to face the consequences of our reality and, let’s face it, we’re scared shitless, but the bottom line is; the system is made to serve itself,not the people, the system backfired this time and the jokes on us.

Today is a sad day in America faced with the reality of having a corrupt system, a divided populace, and deep rooted issues of racism and misogyny, but the hard truth is; this reality existed before today, before the primary, even before Trump.
The first days of disillusionment are the worst; the painful reality of where we are verses where we thought we were.

My heart didn’t break due to the outcome of this election; my heart broke months ago when millions of California voters weren’t included in the democratic process, when thousands of Colorado voters weren’t heard, when Arizona polling places were closed and moved excluding specific demographics from participation, when New York officials purged hundreds of thousands of legitimately registered voters, when it became clear that DNC was colluding with HRC and the media with the DNC, when Bernie delegates were targeted and removed from the Democratic national Convention and seat fillers were hired to give the illusion of a united party, and when HRC arrogantly dismissed the millions of Sanders supporters.

My heart didn’t break today: it was broken every day for last year.

Evolution is such a painfully slow process.

I’m not happy, but I’m not surprise. This is what the backfire of a corrupt political system looks like. The Democratic and Republican parties have shown their true colors, the people have spoken, it’s ugly, and now the world knows without a shadow of doubt just how fucked things are in the “Greatest” nation on earth.  

Good morning, America. Our dirty laundry is on the line for the world to see.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Truth-Tellers and Terrorists

The people have no power, this much is clear. Chris Hedges points out that the only hope for powerless people is not to gain power, but to create enough fear that the people in power will act; make concessions in response to social demands and human need.

This is the world we live in. It’s not a new story, but it is a devastating one. The people have no real say in the direction of our country. Policies are written for the interests of the corporations regardless of how greatly opposed the public is. And still the politicians stand up and declare their loyalty and dedication to the people, the environment, and the advancement of our country.

What they really mean is, they are dedicated to their corporate contributors who then are granted special access and influence on policy making through their elite connections to our governing body.

This is, incidentally, exactly what happened with the Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State (SOS). She claimed there was no overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the her role as SOS, but the emails proved the opposite.

Wealthy contributors made massive donations to the Clinton Foundation and were granted direct access to the SOS of the United States of America in return. In fact, over HALF of the meetings scheduled during HRC’s term were with those who contributed to the Clinton Foundation.

The truth is coming to light just as it did for poor Ryan Lochte, with one glaring difference; he eventually told the truth. He admitted his guilt, took responsibility, and apologized for his behavior.

Not so with Clinton. She reiterates her lies again and again in the face of the American public, pointing the finger anywhere but at herself, villainizing and even criminalizing the ones who reveal the TRUTH.  

She has no intention of “coming clean.” She could care less about the American people, integrity, or the truth. Instead she takes up an offensive position attacking the truth-tellers and creating a culture of fear around them. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Make people afraid of each other and they will align behind you.Not this time, Hillary.

Julian Assange is now being referred to as a “tech terrorist,” a term coined, undoubtedly, just for him: Wikileaks deemed a “Terrorist Organization,” both now under threat of attack, and the charge? Telling the Truth.

If the truth reveals a direct connection between powerful elites in government and the decisions and policies that lead to suffering and loss of human life for the sake of monetary corporate profit, who is the real terrorist?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


It’s easier to deny the reality of a corrupt government and a democracy long dead, when the majority of the population lives in a bubble of privilege, sheltered from the dire and inevitable consequences of such a system, but what happens when that bubble shrinks and the majority no longer exists within that bubble? When the majority is no longer blinded by propaganda and becomes aware of the unsustainable nature of the societal and governmental policies that exist to benefit the few over the masses?

We have a government aware of issues, some of which have simple and reasonable solutions; we have unparalleled access to technology and financial resources that would render many of the economic, environmental and social problems we are plagued with obsolete; and, yet, they refuse to address those issues because the solutions would interfere with corporate interests and profits.

Our government is not a democracy but an oligarchy of corporations who hold the power to coerce and bribe government officials to promote policies that protect the interests and profits of the wealthy over the rights and welfare of the people, or the environment.

The fact that in the US we are plagued with a population that for decades has been painfully uninvolved and uneducated about the workings of our political system has only amplified the corruption and issues in our government. This makes the reality harder to face, the system harder to change, and the solution harder to achieve.

What we have at present is a population divided, but not necessarily in the way we think. Ultimately the people, I believe, are on the same side and motivated by the same things: 1) a desire to live comfortably and peacefully; and 2) a fear of losing their sense of safety and security.

The dividing point is not what we’re striving for or what we’re afraid of but what we think should be done about it. On this point, we are divided in many ways.

Some people would like to shut everybody up about the incriminating evidence tied to the establishment, tow the line, and ignore all factual information regardless of how bad it is in order to not rock the figurative boat. In this case fear of change outweighs the reality that the boat was already taking on water and that’s what the truth is exposing. The people who are pushing for exposure become the threat because they are the ones rocking the boat, even if they aren’t the ones responsible for the hole.

Others want to engage in extreme measures of isolationism believing it’s the “others” that pose the threat to their security and therefore must be removed. Whether they be Muslims, Mexicans, Isis, another country halfway around the world, or simply the people who don’t agree with their views, these people believe that the threat comes from these “other” people and in order to feel safe and secure these “others” must be excluded, deported and isolated. They get a greater sense of security from carrying a bigger gun and building a bigger wall.

Still others want to bring the reality of the corrupt system to light regardless of how hard it rocks the boat and how bad the reality is in order to then make real progress and create real solutions for a sustainable future. In this case, the people who are fighting to maintain the status quo and quietly carry on with life as usual become the opposition.

All of these points and perspectives are valid regardless of whether I personally agree with them or not, and all of them carry the same fatal flaw: an “Us against Them” mentality.

We’re in the middle of an epic standoff not just between political parties but between people.

My question is: based on this reality, how do we, as a people, move toward a solution and progressive action that works for all all of us?

Believe it or not, there are some positive implications associated with this shift in our populace and while the struggle is real and the tensions are high, this is a direct result of a rise in our general consciousness around the state of our nation and our world.

The struggle comes from not knowing how to address or resolve the enormous issues we are faced with.

In my opinion, the only unsolvable problem is an avoided problem. Unfortunately, we have many many problems that land in that category.

A people divided is a people conquered and right now we are a divided people conquered by a corrupt government and corporate interests.

As far as I’m concerned, the presidential race has become a sideshow of second rate actors not worth the price of admission-- something to keep us occupied that has nothing to do with the main event.

Perhaps we should start focusing on the real issues which, as far as I can tell, have less to do with who becomes president, and more to do with how we can communicate with each other to facilitate sustainable solutions for a truly  productive and inclusive society.