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.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Get Honest

If you want to get healthy, get honest.  But I think a lot of people don't really want to get healthy.  I know I resist when I smoke cigarettes.  Or when I don't exercise.  Why don't we do what we know is healthy for us?  If we were motivated by healthy logic only perhaps we would behave in a healthier way, but we are conflicted, emotional, reactive creatures.  Logic plays a crucial part in allowing us to understand complex things.  Just having the understanding of complex things is a kind of liberation.  There is also a logic behind chronic emotional problems.  It can be hard to analyze ourselves because the logic of our impulses and acts are obscured by a lack of self awareness, which is one very good reason to be around others and really listen to what they say and try to apply it to ourselves.  The logic of why we resist healthy options might be simple:  we don't want to live up to an ideal of ourselves, that would be too much pressure, too much work.  We want to be what we are, human and fallible.

Those who do try to live up to an ideal of themselves hurt themselves with their own perfectionism and create a distortion of their realities.  Neither approach, too lax or too controlled, work.  Lack of balance is illness.  Getting honest is about finding balance in everyday life.  Our own honesty unites us with reality, just as our own dishonesty unites us with delusions born from distortions of reality.  We tell ourselves being dishonest is self protective, but it is really self sabotage.  Dishonesty does not fit with personal integrity and integrity or wholeness is what keeps us healthy.  Honesty takes clarity and courage.  Sometimes it is easy to be honest when there is no threat around.  Other times it is hard, especially when we judge ourselves as failing or having been harmful.  We are still animals and animals are high wired to any kind of threat, real or imagined.  We are so imaginative and most threats we perceive come from our own imagination.  It's a weird way to live.  It's neurotic at best and psychotic at worst.  I see this phenomenon clearly with my cats.  They are easily distracted by any kind of sound, tense with the idea of nearby danger.

The difference between a delusion and an illusion is that in the first case the distortion or lack of reality is seen by one person only whereas with an illusion it becomes a collective misperception.  How many misperceptions do you think we have about each other, ourselves and the state of the world?  I'd bet a lot.  I think we all kind of know this, but stay in denial about it.  We're all in the same boat and we all have plenty of weaknesses to work on.  But a commonly shared illusion can be very dangerous.  When groups of people are not anchored to reality, their motivations and behaviors can move towards a collective sickness.  And when sickness is the norm then you start having problems with abuse and violence.  Since the  mid 1940s the big example of this is Hitler's Germany.  A whole country suffered from psychosis.

I think that kind of national psychosis goes right back to our incredibly damaging dualistic thinking about "good" and "evil."  Right and wrong.  Us and Them.  Strong and weak.  Reward and punishment.  So what's the block to getting honest, to integrity and balance, to health and love?  We block ourselves and partially because I don't think we know any better.  We are so conditioned and so susceptible to peer pressure right from our beginnings in this life.  Being pulled under by addiction is obviously pretty horrible, but it gives us the opportunity to break out of our conditioning.  And instead of interacting with our using family and friends, we seek out other people committed to becoming more aware, more sensitive, more honest and responsible.  In our addiction our lives were consumed by multiple illusions, but new healthier peers can guide us out of those illusions and back to base line reality where we can start again on a better path.
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