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The problem with triggers

Yesterday the Auckland Pride Festival board announced the Police will not be allowed to march in the parade in uniform, and if they wish to participate it must be in t-shirts or fancy dress.

The backlash was swift and brutal and continues to grow with calls for a boycott of the parade.

There are issues of internal politics and how the wishes of a tiny minority can hold the rest to ransom. But that isn’t the crux of the matter.

It comes down to trying to help people who are “triggered” by things that cause mental distress. For some LGBT people, the presence of police causes this because they have had extremely traumatic experiences with police abuse. It makes total sense, and my heart goes out to these people. We are all very familiar with instances of abuse by a tiny minority of “bad cops”.

But here’s my take…

I get triggered by religious stuff – seriously! When I see a cross I can feel a churning and anxiety inside, and it always throws up memories of my experiences in church and conversion therapy. When I see religious organisations marching in the Pride parade, I get the same reaction, even if they are in t-shirts and are obviously loving genuine LGBT inclusive organisations! If I had my way and followed my gut feelings I would try to get them banned from marching.

But I recognise that the whole problem is mine. I’m the one getting triggered by my experiences. It’s my responsibility to face the issue and take full responsibility for it and be brave enough to work through my problems – NOT project them on to other people and demand they “disappear” so I can feel comfortable.

So, going back to the parade, the reactions of the vast majority of people is that the police are 100% supportive and work hard to protect us. Sure, we all get that twinge of anxiety when we see a cop in the rear view mirror, or walking towards us on the street, but that’s something we all recognise and dismiss as our own problem. If we discriminate against the police because a handful of people are basically projecting their fears onto to the rest of us we are not doing anyone a favour.

I daily face my triggers, but never do I demand that people stop doing something because it triggers me – and of course, this has nothing to do with abuse in any form, which I will address in no uncertain terms!

So to all you beautiful LGBT folks who are genuinely triggered and don’t feel safe seeing police in uniform – I get it! I really do! I genuinely feel compassion and empathy for you and support you 100%. But that support is towards your healing and growth into personal wholeness. I won’t actively trigger you, but neither will I shelter you from triggers, because avoiding them will never, ever bring the peace we crave.

It’s time to “get real”, and that can be bloody hard. It can hurt and cause distress, but in the end we have to face it. For me, no matter how much I get triggered by my own abuse issues, I refuse to demand others change to pander to my problems. I will speak out against religious abuse, I will present alternatives to the prison of religion, but I have no right to expect religious organisations to conform to my expectations.

We are one glorious species of amazingly complex creatures. Let’s work together, recognising that rejecting others because of our own fears builds division – not unity.

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Live Loved!

Live Loved – it’s my favourite tag. But I realise it sounds a bit glib and clichéd. I’m sure that those who are familiar with my work, however, would realise I wouldn’t say something that lame without having a good reason!

On the surface it’s simply saying live as though you are loved. But there’s a lot more to it than that!

It’s not “as though” you are loved – it’s “from a place of” love. Love from God? (some Christians use the expression to mean that God loves us so we should live with that as our foundation), Love from others?

Nope.

It’s love from ourselves – love from the core of our being – self love – self worth. It’s recognising that external love in any form can only ever be an affirmation at best and a crutch at worst. Until we discover our own sense of beauty and wholeness – unconditional acceptance of our entire being as it is – treating ourselves as we would treat someone we love – we will never really understand the power of love.

That’s a pretty radical statement, and I can hear all the objections screaming at me as I type this, lol. We are taught through the media and religion that we are really crap and need something outside of us to make us better. We need “stuff”, we need “romance” (someone who completes us and makes us whole), we need God (because we are born broken and sinful). You get the idea. And yet we say that kids are born so perfect and innocent, full of love and trust.

Everything we experience from birth shapes our entire self image, and that is then passed on to our children and society in a self perpetuating cycle of self denigration.

But what is there in me that really is loveable?

Let’s turn the question around – who told you that you aren’t loveable? We are taught to judge ourselves harshly, and judge each other. Sure we have the obvious judgement around actions that are destructive and affect our personal safety, but I’m talking about our internal judgements. We are presented with some elusive goal of “perfection”. We are lead to believe we are never good enough and the road to this goal is a carrot dangling in front of us that we can never reach. We struggle with guilt, shame and remorse, always comparing ourselves to the perfection that eludes us all.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries
Carl Jung

So the question really becomes about simply recognising everything that makes us who we are without judgement and accepting it. From that place – and that place ONLY – will we ever grow past what we perceive as flaws. When we try to wrestle with our “demons” we give them power and they become the centre of our focus. But if we allow the “bad” to simply be a part of who we are and unconditionally accept it to the point where we refuse to judge it any longer, we can love ourselves – right now! The paradox then becomes clear, that change will begin from the inside out. We treat ourselves as someone we love – really love! Someone who we would pamper and express our undying love for, shower with affirmations of their worth and beauty and constantly affirm, completely disregarding (and not even noticing) their faults.

Yep, it’s a paradox, and flies in the face of all we are taught. But it works. In fact it’s the only thing that works. If we give the focus to change and growth over to an external force (God or another person) we are abdicating our central and exclusive role in the process. We must do this for ourselves. In fact some of the doctrines of religious beliefs that say things like “more of Christ and less of me”, “I’m a sinner saved by grace” etc are actually very destructive.

So when I say Live Loved, I’m saying to let go of all self judgement, unconditionally accept yourself right this second, and treat yourself as you would treat a lover, because you are love incarnate.

 

 

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Spiritual evolution?

I’ve been trying to write my next book “…But Not as We Know It” for a long time. But I’m forever struggling. Not through lack of inspiration, but because of the immensity of the subject.
 
Spirituality and religion define humanity. It’s arguably the thing that separates us from all other animals. We just can’t help ourselves.
 
We have this innate awe at the splendour and power of the universe. We create religions and philosophies to understand and process it all. Science is a direct result of this deep drive as well. Understanding, meaning, purpose – piecing together this insanely huge puzzle.
 
I’ve read so much philosophy and religious text, and the growth of our understanding through countless millennia is muddied by fear and insecurity. The threat of “existential crisis” is palpable through all disciplines. Religion handles this with magical thinking and dogma. Science handles it by ever pushing forward with knowledge. Philosophy handles it with mental gymnastics.
 
There are so many threads through every discipline, glimmers of hope that get tangled up and strangled in our deeper fears. We keep worshipping the wisdom of ancient peoples instead of acknowledging our own internal evolution and ability to build on that wisdom, or even start from scratch, or a willingness to see that no one methodology is “truth”, or the deep subjectivity of just about everything we believe.
 
There is so much, and yet in all that there is a way that transcends our cyclic futility, despite the most profound ideas constantly ending up as dogma, tradition, ritual – stagnating as their adherents refuse to use beliefs as stepping stones to maturity.
 
Religions are utterly incomplete and incompetent in their attempts to satisfy our spirituality. The moment they are formalised the vast majority see it as their final destination rather than part of our evolution as human beings. We use it as an attempt to calm our fears instead of fuel to grow.
 
Philosophies are embraced and then treated as religious dogma. Gurus, preachers, religious leaders, all dole out their glimpses of wisdom to hungry adherents who refuse to do even the most basic work of finding their own unique place in the universe. They swallow the bite size chunks and call them their own.
 
We are taught to be spiritually lazy. Our favourite teachers perpetuate the hand feeding of their sheep. And yet I believe we are slowly learning. Change is coming. I can see it. Religions are failing. Science is not answering the things that concern us the most. Philosophy runs around in circles. But through it all there is a merging. Each field is starting to embrace each other. We are beginning to see that what we have accepted so far has not worked, or ever will. We are becoming willing to break new ground and drop all dogma and preconceptions.
 
I’m struggling to express the enormity of what I see as the way forward, because it requires more unlearning than learning. It requires so much breaking down of existing paradigms that it’s almost overwhelming! And I’m constantly challenged by my own fears, in fact, even thinking that I have some sort of insight is dangerous ground in itself!
 
So my next book may be a while yet. Perhaps it won’t be me that writes it!!
 
I just ache for humanity to grow up.
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Religion – definitions

In my last blog, I talked about the differences between Spirituality and Religion in basic terms only. It’s purpose was to clarify what I personally mean when I use the words so everyone is on the same page, although many did like the descriptions.

But the definition of religion needs to be unravelled much more. People are always at cross purposes when talking about it, and unless they take the time to explain the semantics etc, it’s often a lost cause. Even Wikipedia struggles with it: “Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion”.

So once again, I have to provide my own views so at least there is no confusion when discussing this broad subject.

The word religion is often used in derogatory ways these days, however I try to avoid any judgement attached to it and use it as an overall term for various belief systems. So here are a few qualifiers I add to the word and what I mean when I use them in reference to Christianity.

 

Traditional

As the name suggests, this is a system of theistic beliefs that have been built up over long periods of time to create a complex set of dogma that are regarded as sacred traditions and essential to maintaining those beliefs.

Fundamentalist

This is pretty much the same as conservative evangelicalism and embraces literal interpretations of scriptures (although still guided by doctrine and dogma) in an attempt to maintain the purity of “faith”. It is also very much into defining who’s “in or out”, setting clear boundaries around salvation and acceptance by God. It is often the most aggressive form of religious expression.

Institutional

This is very similar to traditional religion but is more defined by the power structures and politics that shape and control the traditions. It takes the traditional beliefs and uses them to justify a complex, and often global, network of “branches”, along the lines of a business.

Liberal

Liberal christianity contains far less dogma and is open to allegorical and metaphorical interpretations of scripture, often embracing mystical and eastern philosophies. It rejects literal understanding of scripture based on the type of hermeneutics used to interpret any ancient literature.

Mystical

This is an interesting approach to religion that has persisted throughout Christianity’s nearly 2000 years. It could be said to be “above” the constant battles of other forms of religion and most of the profound wisdom teachings over the centuries have come from the more mystical interpretations of scripture. It’s very hard to pin down any specific definition but Wikipedia has a whole section on it.

Pentecostal

This could be considered a sub-group of fundamentalism and is defines by extreme physical demonstrations of faith, such as speaking in tongues, prophesy, various types of “trances” and ecstatic states, miracles (mostly physical healing) and a high emphasis on evangelism.

Charismatic

This is very similar to Pentecostalism but tends to be part of more traditional church structures, such as the Catholic Charismatic Movement etc.

 

There are of course, many smaller sub groups. Often these groups refuse to be labelled and many believe they are the true representation of the original church, or variations of that idea. A lot of them would be classified as cults.

 

So there you have it in a nutshell. If you use the word “religion” in any conversation, be aware that any of the above could be assumed by your use of that word.

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Spirituality vs Religion

I write about this a heck of a lot (in case you hadn’t noticed), and I have tried to explain the differences in the past.
I thought it might be helpful to to define these two terms quite specifically, purely so we are all on the same page. Bear in mind that this is purely my interpretation of the words/concepts and I realise we all see these things differently. At least now you’ll understand what I’m on about when I talk about them!

 

Spirituality:

I use this word to describe the deep, innate sense of awe and wonder we have about the universe. It’s the part of us that wonders why we are here and how we fit in. It’s neutral, in that it’s not about any particular belief system, only the common yearnings that are in all of us that are intangible and mostly inexpressible except through allegory, metaphor and art.
Even atheists have, in this sense, spirituality. It doesn’t imply any sort of god, just the part of us that senses something “bigger” and beyond our senses. For some, this need is fully answered by science and all that entails. For others, it leads to another dimension that can include “gods” or spirits.
I believe it’s possible to explore spirituality without being “religious”, but we all tend to adopt some form of religious process as a way to express and live our own concepts of spirituality.
 

Religion:

Religion is the belief system we use to understand and define spirituality. There are countless forms of beliefs that attempt to satisfy our spirituality. Even the most prominent religious systems have endless variations, and in the end, every individual applies those beliefs in a unique way according to their own world view or paradigm.
Every culture has some form of religious practice that gives a unique sense of unity and common cause, purpose and direction to that culture.
As individuals, especially in more liberal cultures, we tend to mix and match religious ideas into something that works for us. This means that in the west for example, we may be predominantly Christian but how every individual defines “Christian” and applies it to their lives can be anything from living by the “golden rule” to extreme fundamentalism.
By “fundamentalist” religion, I mean a belief system that is based on applying sets of external rules as dogma that govern our morality, ethics, behaviours and even our thought processes. Most fundamentalist religions apply the greatest value on literally applying the contents of their sacred scriptures to every part of their lives.
A more liberal approach looks at applying the principles of the scriptures as a way of life.
The most liberal belief systems only see any scripture’s value in its metaphor and allegory.
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Deconstructing Jesus

I’ll preface this blog by saying that the Christian belief system is a very mature one, in that it’s doctrines have become a panacea and comfort for countless people. It provides security for our eternal future, a safe haven from our darkest struggles, hope for a better life, loving communities and a way to navigate the complexities of life. The writings of Paul in the New Testament are powerful observations of human nature and methodologies for navigating our failings. For most Christians however, it all comes down to “relationship with Jesus”.

In my own life, through all the years of crap, it was my relationship with Jesus that kept me going!

We claim that whatever people say and do and whatever claims about God people make, Jesus is real and loves me more deeply than I could ever imagine. When we experience the “living Christ” we know that we know he’s real and alive in us.

Atheists and critics tend to focus on all the absurdities of the bible and the mythical anthropomorphic god, the hypocrisy of the church and so on – all the really obvious stuff. But for those of us who have experienced the reality of Jesus none of that matters, in fact we may even agree with a lot of it! When we “know” Jesus, nothing is going to shake that belief because we experience him everyday and every way in our lives.

When everything fell apart for me, the only thing I had was Jesus. I could rest in the fact that he was there for me, speaking to me, telling me it was OK and he’d look after me. But as I began to dismantle the theology and doctrines, the historicity and veracity of the bible, church history, other religions and philosophies and especially psychology, I had to take a second look at this “relationship”.

As all the external beliefs slowly crumbled I was left wondering what this relationship actually was. What exactly was my heart “hearing” when we talked? Where did these words of love and comfort come from? It wasn’t until I had the honesty and fortitude to let go of my security in that voice that I could see it for what it is. It was me all along!

Yes, it was my deep longing for love being voiced by my subconscious desires. It was my own heart telling me I’m loved and good and to hang in there. I had taken my “innermost thoughts” and ascribed them to a deity. I had separated my heart into “me vs god”. The core doctrines of Christianity told me that my heart was deceptive and there was nothing good in us, and that the only way we could grow was to nurture our relationship with Jesus, so this inner voice, that the bible said was the Holy Spirit (which is the same as Jesus, which is the same as God, or not), was the only thing to be trusted. However, we could only trust it if it aligned with scripture!

But that opened the door for Jesus to be able to say anything to me as long as it could be backed by scripture. This was beginning to become rather a mess, because there are millions who claim to hear Jesus say all sorts of stupid stuff, backed up by scripture. So the only thing that I could say for sure was Jesus voice were the words of love and acceptance, because without that, I had nothing. I was already nothing more than a piece of shit saved by grace, God didn’t have to remind me of that all the time, so his love was the only thing that made sense to me.

But as I said, when I finally had nothing left to lose, I discovered that my own heart – desperate for love and acceptance – was really this “Jesus in me”. I decided to accept that as the reality, instead of all the complicated twisted theology of the trinity and human nature, and how God lives in us.

My heart, in it’s deepest place, is pure and loving. I’m not intrinsically broken and sinful. None of us are! We certainly lose sight of that however, as we blunder on through life, and completely lose sight of that deep perfect love, but it’s there none the less.

So I no longer talk to Jesus, or listen for his words of love and comfort. I don’t wait expectantly in prayer for that still small voice to whisper to me, or his passionate embrace of my soul. I open the depth of my heart to hear what’s always been in me – that part of me that is beyond ego, that existed before our paradigms were formed by life’s interactions and expectations. My heart knows me better than any deity, better than my scrambled thoughts, better than my deluded ego. It’s my own deepest voice that speaks love, and that is a power and strength that no deity can ever match!

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Proof of God!!

You can’t prove god exists, and I can’t prove he doesn’t!

Sure, there are all sorts of philosophical angles you can take on the issue, but in the end, no one can prove anything.

What you CAN do is present theories based on subjective observations. They can be beautiful and quite functional theories that meet some of our emotional needs, but they are theories none the less.

You can present ancient writings from other cultures that express everything from of wisdom writings through to the nature of various divinities, but you can’t “prove” that this god is actually real.

You then have to ask yourself what “proof” is. What I find extraordinary is so many christians saying that if you can’t see the “proof” in everything around you then you are [insert derogatory name here]. But of course, if it’s not obvious through examining all the evidence, then it isn’t proof at all. Proof, by the very nature of the word, means there is no ambiguity or doubt. The worst “proof” offered however is the bible. Irrespective of however one may interpret the writings in the bible, they are still subject to the same demands of proof. As I say, if the bible was indeed proof, there would be no ambiguity and everyone who read it would be convinced. The bible is like any other sacred writings – full of interesting cultural stories – myths and legends, various types of wisdom, justifications for cultural traditions etc… everything except “proof” of god.

I just recently saw a video from a highly qualified physicist who claimed that the theories about the big bang being caused by quantum fluctuations, that are pretty much universally accepted in the field, are proof of god! Sorry Mr Professor, they are simply proof that there is a greater level of physics that we don’t understand yet.

And as for atheists (yes, you don’t get away unscathed either), you can dismantle theology entirely and present absolutely convincing arguments for the non-existence of a deity, but at the end of the day, you still don’t know. At best you can only really call yourself agnostic, simply because you don’t know what you don’t know!

Having said all that (as I often do, lol) feel free to believe whatever you want, but the moment your beliefs turn to dogma and become “truth” you have slipped over into self delusion, and that’s a topic I’ll leave for another blog!

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Religious freedom?

The big debate is currently around people having the rights to exercise their religious beliefs – freedom of speech basically. But the real issue isn’t our rights to exercise our faith so much as questioning the veracity of those beliefs in the first place.

Let’s face it, if I was a Satanist wanting to introduce religious education into schools and petitioning government to make live animal sacrifices legal…. well we all know how well that would go. “But it’s not the same thing!!” we cry “everyone knows Satanism is wrong and evil”. Really? Technically, it’s a religion, and has the same legal rights as any other religion. So why shouldn’t they be free to exercise their “firmly held religious convictions” and be free to openly discriminate against Christians?

The questions we should all be asking are around the belief systems themselves. We should be looking at why any religion discriminates against another human for any reason. We need to dig deep into religious culture and question the veracity of every belief and how they affect our society. We have to have the guts to challenge beliefs that damage and divide – beliefs that create pain, suffering and abuse. To ignore these questions and blithely grant the status of “religious freedom” to Christianity (or any other religion) is to be complicit in the damage caused!

So lets have the guts to be honest and upfront. Let’s challenge those beliefs and expose them for what they are instead of wasting time around people’s rights to express them.

In saying that, I’m not calling for some Christian hate campaign. On the contrary – we’ll never get anywhere by simply fighting and discriminating against religious beliefs. The key – as always and in all things – is love, patience and empathy. That’s not the same as tolerating a destructive belief – it’s standing up to them with facts, reason and patience. If we mock and belittle those beliefs we create bigger barriers and lose any hope of speaking truth.

It’s a narrow road we walk when trying to simultaneously bring truth and love to humanity. We must be strong enough to say no, but also compassionate enough to bring understanding and break the walls instead of making them bigger. Our common humanity, love and compassion for ALL must come before, and/or be the basis of, any religious beliefs. If not, those beliefs should not get any freedom of expression to the rest of the world. Believe them of you want, just don’t expect to have any rights to inflict them on others.

We can do it – if we are prepared to cut to the real issues with bravery and compassion.

Live loved!

 

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The long term reality of religious abuse

In my book (It’s Life Jim…) I cover the subject of mental health openly but fairly lightly.

Although these days I help many work through the debilitating trauma of religious abuse and it’s impact on LGBT people, I realise I haven’t actually shared much of my own struggles – only snippets really. I was wondering why I’ve avoided it, and I realise it’s because of the stigma. I’m afraid that it will invalidate me – that if I share too much, I will have no credibility in my work with Silent Gays and just be relegated to the rubbish heap of nutters!  But life is about facing our fears, so here is my day to day reality… (pull up a comfy chair, it’s going to be a long one)

The first layer of fear was from very young, realising I didn’t fit the expectations of family and society (although I couldn’t express it as that at the time). I was ADHD but it wasn’t a “thing” back in the 60s so I was constantly being judged for being a space case and a dreamer. I couldn’t focus for long on anything, always wanting something new and getting bored far to quick and most of the other classic “symptoms”.

The next layer was hitting puberty and finding that I had zero attraction to girls and it was the boys who would send my hormones on a rampage. But it was taboo to even talk about it. So I lived a conflicted dual life in my most formative years.

The next layer was the impact of religion, enforcing the stigma that anything outside of “normal” heterosexuality was living a dreadful sin. This drove me ever onwards to find a “solution”, get healed/cured/changed/whatever – anything but live in the excruciating pain of guilt and shame caused by the religious beliefs. This became the most damaging part of my life, as I pursued every imaginable way of becoming straight.

During all this time, through two marriages, numerous different church denominations, doctrines and theologies, and endless counselling, I fell deeper into depression and suicide ideation. But I couldn’t even let anyone know that either! I was already a “loser”, if not to those around me, most certainly in my own mind – I was a failure.

Finally, I embraced the “gay conversion therapy” practices of Living Waters for 15 years, clinging to the hope that this was going to finally change me and bring the freedom I was so desperate for. But of course, it didn’t. The depression became worse and I would become crippled with anxiety, but still I had to hide it and use every ounce of strength I had to live day by day. My marriage was an absolute sham, and my wife constantly shamed me. So often I felt like I would “explode” – what exactly that meant I’m not sure, but that was the feeling.

My wife died, and I collapsed. I had lost all my reference points, I didn’t know how to process what was happening and depression and anxiety left me needing “real” counselling (not Christian pseudo counselling) and medication. Thus began the slow climb out of the pit.

Here’s the reality though that so many of us who have been through something like this suffer. We “walk with a limp”. I don’t mean that in some nice wise sounding metaphor. I mean it as a limp with a bloody open wound that although it doesn’t stop us from getting involved in, and enjoying life, does mean we are always walking in the pain and effects of our injury. We do our best, and yes, it’s unbelievable better than what we lived through, but the wounds never seem to heal.

To put that into my daily practical affairs, here’s what my own “wound” is like.

I have ADHD, so my ability to focus is limited, unless I lock on to something that absolutely captivates me and then I can’t leave it. I am impulsive, get bored quickly, forget stuff, remember the wrong things at the wrong times, and all the classic ADHD stuff. But after the meltdown when Min died, these symptoms became heaps worse. I could pretty much work around them in the past, but now they are extreme. I have regular bouts of depression still, although not crippling like they used to be, and I’m sooo thankful for that! I get anxiety attacks too. At first they were pretty bad – things like freaking out in the supermarket and bursting into tears. But I still get them. I’ll start to get nervous and tense for no reason and keep thinking I’ve forgotten something really important.

I used to be pretty good with complex technical information and did well as a technical writer and instructional designer, but another aspect of my meltdown was that as the ADHD and anxiety had increased, I lost the ability to comprehend that sort of information any more. This has been a source of incredible frustration and sadness, especially as I was a bit of a wiz with electronic music and computers. I’m also a qualified trainer/facilitator but the thought of teaching IT or Health and Safety Systems (as I used to) sends me into a panic!

As a result, I couldn’t hold a job any more. I’m pretty much a liability, never knowing one day, or even one hour to the next, what my mental state will be. Pressure, expectations, deadlines etc cause my mind to go blank, which sets off anxiety because I can’t function, and become fearful that I’ll let people down. So I went on the sickness benefit (thank you New Zealand for your wonderful social welfare system – even if it does have it’s problems).

About a year ago I decided to try getting work again and coming off the benefit and the meds. It’s been one crazy year! I ended up doing security work, simply because its pretty chilled with low expectations, but there was constant pressure for long hours at crappy pay to cover the bills. 12 hour night shifts, brain numbing day shifts standing around, which for an ADHD person is living hell! I finally had to quit a couple of months ago because I could feel my brain falling back to the point of breakdown again.

This is my life – I never know from day to day how my mind will be. I’m really good at putting on a happy face, and I’m always the funny guy, but I’m broken. I’m happy, in fact life has never been better, but my wounds are deep and I simply can’t function in life as we are supposed to.

What happens is that the mind is deeply scared from having to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms all its life. A life of shame and guilt creates patterns of thoughts and reactions that simply don’t suddenly leave, especially as you get older and the responses are so ingrained. Things that may appear “normal” life to others trigger me into confusion and anxiety. I can start the day with the best of intentions and find that suddenly my brain has totally lost the plot and I can’t complete a single thing I’ve planned.

I can however, communicate! I can write with passion about religion and being gay. I can talk to a crowd for hours about it! I can take people on roads of self discovery. I can run workshops and seminars, and feel incredible compassion and empathy for the broken like myself. But ask me to sort out technical stuff like my website, and accounts and running a proper organisation and I grind to a halt – despite the fact that in my past life I was very capable and even had small business management qualifications.

These days I’m trying to find part time work that I can actually handle, that pays enough to cover the bills while I try to build some online work to finance my passion of helping others.

Anyway, I’ve rambled somewhat, but only in the hope that I’ve created a picture of the ongoing effects of mental illness. I’m at peace in many ways with it all however, as long as I allow myself to roll with it. If it’s a “bad” day, I try to just chill out in the knowledge that tomorrow will be different. Not always easy of course when I’m often faced with daily simple tasks, but I’m getting there, despite the niggling shame that persists for not being “normal”. Things like mindfulness meditation have been the biggest help, as well as long walks on the beach.

That’s my “limp”. That’s my life. It’s a good life, but only if I let it be a good life in the full acceptance of my limitations, embracing all that I am right now, with all its mess and unpredictability. I love who I am now. I have no regrets. I don’t live in constant shame and guilt any more. I want to live, and live that life to its fullest, which is amazing considering most of my life was spent figuring out ways to kill myself and spiralling through chronic depression and fear.

Yep, this is me, warts and all!

The Ever Elusive “Truth”

I was having a conversation with an on-line friend and the question came up – what is truth? – as it does, lol. My response was basically this.

That’s the million dollar question! http://img.picturequotes.com/2/208/207088/truth-is-of-course-relative-but-then-so-is-relative-quote-1.jpg

I think there are infinite truths that are unique to every situation.
Truth is dependent on our paradigms and observations.
Moral and ethical truths are societal and cultural constructs.
Religious truths are the same.
Scientific truth is ever changing as we dig deeper into the nature of “reality”.
In fact, the only truth that is slowly being revealed through science and spirituality that could be a candidate for the foundational truth is that everything is energy. Although even that is a problem when we ask “what is energy?”.
We also now know that our entire personal reality exists only as a vast complex hallucination within our brains – and that’s mind blowing in itself!

So yeah, truth is something we crave and yet slips through our fingers the moment we try to grasp it.