A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Traveling

Out West 1980s

My three week trip has come to an end and I am home once again.  My brother and I cleared out my father's apartment and he is now permanently in the nursing home of his retirement community.  This marks a life change for me.  I am in the youth of my old age, one parent gone and one starting to disappear.  I will turn 53 in a couple of weeks.  It's a sad, tired, sweet transition and I'm still journeying.  I cannot remember much of my life with clarity and yet I feel the past still within me or connected to me.  Turning my black and white negatives into digital images has helped to reconnect me to me.  But I remain a mystery to myself.  I'm not sure who I was as a child, adolescent and young adult.  Even my memory of my middle age is a bit hazy.

I do know my present moment.  I am much more mindful of now and less mindful of regrets about the past or worries about the future.  I accept myself.  More than that, I respect myself.  I've always been a basically kindhearted person.  I needed to learn to be a more kindhearted person towards the one person I mistreated the most, myself.  The only way I could profoundly learn that lesson was through the extreme loss of balance inherent in psychosis.  If I couldn't accept myself during the worst of circumstances I would never be able to truly appreciate myself in the best of circumstances.

It is uncanny looking at photographic self portraits I took in my twenties.  It's like looking at someone else.  I don't identify with me back then.  I identify with me now, but even there there is a lot of blank space.  Right now, I feel good even with all the not knowing of the bigger picture that surrounds my small world.  As for the big, big, big picture I know that I cannot know and that is part of the spirit of fresh wonder.  I stay open and waiting and hope that I die that way too.

I feel peaceful in this moment.  I don't need to know who I was in order to love and accept myself now.  I believe I fought the good fight and will continue to do so as long as I'm allowed to be here.  The good fight is the fight for self honesty and honesty with others.  That has the core of integrity in it.  Living in the present with mostly acceptance is liberation.  The motive for existence is clear:  to be a peaceful, peace loving being.  When I keep it simple, I can be that.

I keep it simple by asking for guidance each day and night from the powers that be.  There are three moves that can be made - move forward, stay still, fall back.  We live lives within interconnecting rhythms.  Loud and soft, complex and simple, moving towards and away, up or down.  Whatever we focus on whether it be thinking, speaking or acting there are phrases that connect one section to another.  There's the music and there's the pause to the music.  There can be a lot of freedom in either part, but the pause is key.  That's where I ask and listen, intuit and feel.

And then I act.  Or wait staying open so that my spirit, which must go beyond my consciousness, can receive the guidance I keep returning to.  I've been guided to live a simple life.  Work, rest and play interconnect and there can be an interplay between them.  Because I commit to seeking the help I need within my spirit, I know my place.  I am humble towards the higher power(s).  My orientation is not particularly egotistic.  I am no longer self centered; I am higher power centered.  I'm no saint, instead I'm am a small being acknowledging that I am contained within a greater spirit.

Something greater can show something smaller how to expand.  Expansion is about joyful exertion.  Something greater can support something smaller as it grows and also give it plenty of space.  Because I've felt so much support and space for so long now, even through this last psychotic break, I live with a lot of gratitude.  I know what it is like to have that support and space partially withdrawn. Even a partial withdrawal for me was quite traumatic.  I feel relief and happiness.  For so long I experienced life in a partial darkness, somewhat blindly.  Now I see better than before even though I have farther to go to see as best as I can in this lifetime.

My faith is vague yet not shallow.  It has a powerful substance.  The only reason it is vague is that though I can see, I am near sighted and what's in the distance is blurry.  But I do believe it will become clearer and clearer as I continue traveling.  
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