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.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Last week, at the tail end of my birthday, I sent an email to Colette.  She responded enthusiastically in a short email.  She said that she was going to defend her dissertation for her PhD that very afternoon, but that she would check out my blog.  Later that afternoon, I sent her a short email congratulating her and telling her that there was no rush in her responding to me.  And so I've been waiting.

Waiting is hard, but I wanted to give Colette the room to explore.  Honestly, I don't know if she's had the time to explore this blog.  Getting her PhD must be a very big deal, a major life achievement and she could be busy celebrating with family and friends.

While I've been waiting, I've turned to consulting the I Ching, an ancient Chinese oracle, for information and guidance.  I haven't consulted the I Ching in quite a while;  I'm cautious with it.  I know I have the tendency to get obsessive about asking questions and studying all my books to piece together a response.  This time I leaned in that direction, but then pulled back.

The I Ching is not just about divining the present and the future, it's about striving to live morally and ethically.  The goal is to become the "Superior Man" -- a leader or a sage, nobility.  You can't do that without repercussions if you are self-centered and selfish, or what the I Ching calls being the "Inferior Man".  So when I ask the I Ching a question (I use an online computer program), I try to stay open and ask good questions.  The real challenge is in interpreting the response.  I have many translations and interpretations of the I Ching.  It is an intuitive process and time consuming, but it is also a good challenge, a way of staying receptive to the truth.  Of course, you have to believe that an intelligent and acutely sensitive psychic presence is directing you, seemingly through the wisdom of chance, according to a strict moral code.  Obviously I do believe.

Still, interpretation can be highly subjective, and therefore, inaccurate through personal bias.  So while I'm gathering up impressions, I am cautious.  Also, life is fluid and full of changes.  If I ask a question at one point it will not stay there statically.  Life marches on.  The key is to learn to go with the flow, what the Chinese call Wu Wei, and not overly attach to any one answer.  The I Ching's philosophy is that life goes in cycles.  Waxing and waning, like the moon.

One question I asked about Colette was what hexagrams best describe her spirit.  One of the hexagrams I got in response was number 14, Great Possession.  In Hilary Barrett's interpretation in her book I Ching: Walking Your Path, Creating Your Future, she writes "Great Possession means you are rich -- maybe in material goods, maybe in less tangible assets, like knowledge, wisdom, power, energy, talent or relationships.  Whatever form it takes, you have something real and potent in your possession." (p.56)  Part of that richness appears to be due to both her work and her circle of friends.  I think she's been discussing her response to me with those friends and they have been guiding her and cautioning her.  She seems as if she is in good hands and that some of the discussion has been joyful.

My interpretation of Colette is that she is trying to find a balance.  She doesn't want to be too hard on me, but she doesn't want to be too soft either.  She is sympathetic, yet conflicted.  The I Ching's advice to me is to not interfere, to let her go through her process.  I did decide yesterday to write this blog entry because I still need to express myself and keep going.  Staying silent for too long is no good either.

And so I've been waiting, but the fear that I have offended her or put her off creeps into my thinking from time to time.  The situation is sensitive.  I am exposed with all my strengths and imperfections, but I chose to put myself in that position.  I wish we could just join in open communication and gradually develop a bond and heal old wounds.  Maybe we can.  That would be wonderful.  But maybe that's not  where she's at in her life.  Getting her PhD is pulling her into the future, into new opportunities.  I am someone from deep in her past; she might not want to go there.

Whether she chooses to embrace me or distance herself from me, I will abide by her decision.  It will be okay.  I respect how far she's come in life and I want her to do what's best for her.
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