How to Hire Fake Friends and Family

12 11 2017

Money in Japan can buy the appearance of love, and that appearance, according to a man who runs a business involving becoming other people, is everything.  Ishii Yuichi is a 36-year-old on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a groom at your wedding.

His 8-year-old company Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.

This business thrives in Japan because according to Ishii, “The Japanese are not expressing people.  There is a communication deficit.  In conversation, we do not express ourselves, our opinions, our emotions.  Others come first, before our own desires.  The family size is diminishing too as families used to be large.  There are more people who eat alone now.”

Ishii’s business theme, ‘more than real’ is a product claimed to bring about an experience that surpasses reality.  “More than real” according to Ishii means that, “There are less concerns.  There is less misunderstanding and conflict.  The clients can expect better results from a more perfect, more clean version of reality.

Ishii is a strong believer that the term, “real” is a misguided word.  “Take Facebook, for example, is that ‘real?’  Even if the people in the pictures haven’t been paid to be there, everything is still curated to such an extent that it hardly matters.

The ideology behind the business is that the world is an unfair place and, Family Romance, will bring balance to the injustice of it all.  “A woman with a boyfriend doesn’t need to hire a boyfriend.  A man with a father doesn’t need to hire a father.  It’s about bringing balance to society.”

There is something to be said about Ishii’s business filling the void where unbearable absences or perceived deficiencies occur in people’s lives.  Hiring out, a la carte, human interactions is becoming a new norm, and the demand is rapidly increasing.  “More people want to appear popular on social media.  We had a man recently who paid a huge sum just to fly with five employees to Las Vegas and take pictures for Facebook.”  Another case included, “A dying man who wanted to see his grandchild before his death.  His daughter was able to rent out an infant for that day so the dying man could eventually pass on peacefully.”

The driving force of the business is the idea to avoid the truth for in-the-moment happiness.  It is fully realized that happiness is not endless and the truth will have to come out some day, but that doesn’t mean that the in-the-moment, perceived happy reality isn’t without value.’  “I had a single-mother friend and she had a son.  He was trying to enter a private school but they denied him solely because he had no father.  In this instance, I posed as the boy’s father.”  In a similar situation, Ishii posed as the father of a 12-year-old girl who was being bullied at school because she didn’t have a dad.  “I’ve acted as the girl’s father, with the same name, ever since and I am the only father she has ever known for the past 8 years.”

The dilemma here is obviously that the girl does not know she is being lied to as the mother has rented out the ‘ideal father.’  “The mother wanted the father to be kind and never yell and able to deliver wise advice during the couple times per month that the father and daughter meet.”  The daughter has developed loving feelings and connection for the hired father and Ishii feels the weight of that responsibility.  “I feel the heaviness and responsibility everywhere I go.  In certain situations, I feel very sorry and guilty that I’m faking it.  Sometimes, I go home and wonder for myself, ‘is this, now, the real me, or the actor.  The overall feeling is very agonizing and unsettling.  It can be tough sometimes to be alone with my inner monologues.”

Confusion and unintended emotional connection also come to Ishii in the form of other jobs.  “There are cases where I have to be a groom for a family that pressures their lesbian daughter to marry.  Fifty of my employees make up the wedding party that interacts with the real family of the bride.  The situation makes me emotional as there are fifty fake people celebrating me.   These people know me and we are all in this together.  In can feel very real.”

Other jobs for Ishii entail taking on the identity of a salaryman who made a mistake.  He flails on the ground and bows profusely, shaking all over (as is the serious ‘I’m sorry’ custom in Japan) while the man who made the mistake is standing next to the boss who is verbally abusing Ishii.  “I’m thinking all along, I’m innocent!  And I want to point at and uncover the actual culprit.  It is extremely uncomfortable.”

 

More popular jobs for Ishii entail being hired out as a boyfriend for women.  “Those clients are usually older ladies in their 50s but now many of them are actually in their 30s.  Generally, the women just want to have fun with a younger man and feel young again.  For the younger ones, women hire me out because they typically feel that in a real relationship, you’re slowly building trust and it takes years to create a strong connection.  For most of them, it’s a lot of hassle and disappointment.  Five years could go bye and then they change or break up with you!  It’s proving easier to just schedule two hours per week to interact with an ideal boyfriend.  There’s no conflict, no jealousy, no bad habits.  Everything is perfect.”  As a result, Ishii has internalized this to mean that caring for a significant other in his own life feels like work.  His work in his fake families and friends are hard enough to manage and take all his time and energy.

 

Personally, Ishii’s favorite role is playing the caring father.  “I play with the kids, even when I’m tired.  It’s very tough when you’re exhausted, but you still show up, and you try to create happiness.  That’s the kind of father I admire.”  Despite feeling such jubilation at certain such roles, Ishii has become resigned to not really wanting anything for his own life.  “There is nothing more that I want.  I’ve met so many clients.  I’ve played so many roles.  By doing my job, their dreams have come true.  In that way, my dreams have come true as well.  I feel fulfilled, just being needed.”

(This was a summation of a full article which can be found at https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/11/paying-for-fake-friends-and-family/545060/)

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A 35-Year-Old Birthday Self Reflection

5 11 2017

Today is my birthday!  A whopping 35!  I remember when I turned 34 as it felt like I was truly leaving the world of being associated with the energy of being connected to my 20s as the numeric symbolism felt somewhat awkward.  Now that I’m 35 it is completely all gone and I’ve had to learn to accept that I am really not connected to that energy any more and more appropriately am definitely in my mid 30s and definitely relate to people and am more comfortable around those who have left their 20s behind and are diving deeper into their true confidences and life passions and sense of purpose and meaning in the world, along with relating with those who are interested in looking at themselves for self-improvement.

 

I don’t pose too many direct stated self-reflections.  The reason this age has a special significance is because it is the age I used to always use when I was younger regarding when I would be on the verge of feeling old or already established with things, etc.  “When I’m 35 and I have kids.  When I’m 35 and am married.  When I’m 35 and have a house.  When I’m 35 and have a lot of money.  When I’m 35 and have my dream job.  When I’m 35 I’ll get a dog again.  When I’m 35 and have traveled the world.  When I’m 35 and will have knee problems.”  It’s funny because of the people I know who have accomplished many of these things and been so focused, avidly goal oriented, and persistent in their approach to be where they want to be by say 35, or whatever age, largely many of them are some of the most unhappy, stressed out, anxious people I know!  When I was 20, probably one of the most important decisions in my life came thinking about what I would be like when I was 35.  When I had gotten a scholarship to play baseball at UC Santa Barbara, I looked around and realized that I didn’t want to be 35 and have invested so much in a physical sport.  I didn’t want to be a professional at see ball, hit ball, catch ball.  I didn’t want to end up like 95% of the jocko dudes I was around.  So, I quit and took a step in a totally different direction, one that was far less focused on my physicality, and little did I know but that slight change of overall trajectory made the hugest and eventual positive difference in my life.

 

I had a very one dimensional childhood.  It was play all day long with the kids outside.  We mostly played sports and were competitive.  It was very fun and I excelled at sports and was usually the best or one of the best on my team.  I built up an expectation for that being the norm, which was hard to adjust to later in life.  My parents had raised three other kids before me and it was easy for me to just be outside, excelling at sports, not to mention getting good grades as well.  How could parents not be more than happy with what was going on?  Everything else was a very minor detail in my life other than the pursuit of sports and especially baseball as I ventured into high school and early college.  It all culminated into huge successes for me as I got a full scholarship to play at the highest college level possible!  Life couldn’t have been better.  It was like being a mini celebrity.

 

It’s funny to think that if I had kept on the athletic track that at 35 I would be contemplating retirement!  At the age of 20 I stopped playing sports from a professionally minded perspective and, as a result, had zero identify.  I had a yearning to do something else and go in a totally opposite direction and so I picked up books and starting reading like mad from there on out.  One of the first books I picked up was the “Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley and a philosophy book by Aristotle about the virtues and vices we all live by in our lives.  Pretty telling for where I am now I’d say.  Before that time, I think the only book I had truly read with intention and absorbed was “Lord of the Rings.”  I considered myself way behind mentally, and have always had trouble processing mental information for most of my life.  When one’s childhood is all physicality related, it is hard to then catch up later as the brain has developed.  I’ve spent most of the last 15 years trying to, in essence, play ‘catch up.’

 

As I think back to my 20s now it was a very fun time.  I thought I wanted to be a teacher.  It sounded appealing because I could have time off and I wanted to have kids so that would be great for being able to spend time with them.  Plus, I could be a baseball coach as I loved the balance between the sport/life balance of high school sports.  While I was in school to accomplish these things, I lived in San Francisco, and believed it to be the greatest city in the world.  I made a bunch of friends through playing intermural soccer at San Francisco State on a team called the “Fat Tires.”  This social group led to my best friends for this era.  It led to the girls I would date and share love with.  It led to feeling as awesome and as free and having as much fun as possible in a city that people from all over the world dream about living in.  I drank a lot of alcohol, watched a lot of sports, smoked a lot of pot, and went on U.S. road trips with friends, and did a few teaching abroad/traveling adventures in China, Guatemala, and Australia.  My life in SF was an awesomely lived bubble of city life.  My social life was a bustling number of people that would be between 10 to 20 that would be at any bar or show or outdoor event that was going on.  I felt great to be so connected to such a thriving group of people in a thriving city.  I became a writer during this time and experimented with Veganism for the first time.  I really felt that I was definitive of San Francisco liberal culture and stood for something amazing.  I hung around and lived with amazing friends, musicians and didn’t think my life could possibly be moving in any better direction as this was what life was about and I never really thought too long about my ex life as an athlete.

 

As time went by, the positive energy stream of my SF life started to wane.  Spending so much time drinking booze and smoking pot in bars or out with friends and watching sports proved to be not doing it for me anymore.  All social outings would go the same and it became clear that people were not hanging out with each other to do things but, rather, hanging out to just become stimulated and numbed through booze or pot or TV or sports or whatever else.  I yearned to go deeper.  It was hard to develop friends beyond this and the thought that, there must be something else out there, always rang in my head as my later twenties came into fruition and I’d be doing the same old thing day after day.  During this time, I had also gotten a teaching credential but after spending five years in the public-school system and them laying off teachers every year or hiring me and bringing me back for less pay and benefits the following year, was proving disappointing for the career I had chosen.  Not to mention that what the schools make you teach is mind numbing and catered to standards, which is an ultimate disappointment in itself.  The image in my mind of teaching was not panning out in my life.  I was in search of more meaning and my old way of doing things, yet again, was falling up short for who I wanted to be.  I didn’t want to be 35 and doing the same old thing in the same old place with the same old people.  It was a good run in SF but a lot of my friends changed, or they moved away, and so I took the plunge and decided to move away too and go in search of something new and more meaningful.

 

The next few years from about 28 to 33 led to me really bouncing around all over the place.  I ventured to the East Coast in Philadelphia for an opportunity to be in love with a girl I had dated earlier in my life whom instilled a wonderful connective passion in me.  The east coast adventure was something new and grand and involved a lot of exploring in a new culture, in new cities, and was the first time in my life where I felt like I was becoming a different person than who I had always been.  My time in Northern California, until I had moved to Philly, involved me being a super social person focused on sports, going out with friends, organizing social gatherings, and basing a whole lot on being extroverted.  Philadelphia was an interestingly different time.  I tried to engage there in the same way I did in SF and largely failed as my heart and mind was not in it.  I didn’t want to have the same life there but all I knew were the ways I had acted before.  I started to pay more attention to my social anxiety.  I spent a lot of time being lonely and catering to introversion for once, however, I still smoked good amounts of pot and watched large amounts of sports.  I think I had been mentally exhausted from my time in SF and allowed Philly to be for me a time where I tried to do things different but obviously didn’t really know how, and Philly being very true to the stereotype of the city, is not the friendliest of places, so that made it a bit more difficult to come out of my own closet of sorts for how I wanted to change but only knowing how I’d acted before made it difficult.  This gave incredible insight for me on why it is hard for people to change.

 

Eventually, I went in the direction of wellness in massage education, then personal training school, then nutrition school.  The schools were not the greatest but I didn’t have much else of meaning going on in my life other than my relationship so I gritted my teeth and kept at it.  I still remember most mornings being a total grind for picking myself up and getting out the door and trying to “accomplish” something.  I am not generally a depressed person but it was becoming more a part of my life as I felt like my search for meaning and purpose weren’t producing what I felt they should have been.

 

At 30 I decided that I was going to move to Denver because I didn’t want to get stuck in Philly with the gritty, bitter, asshole vibe of the city, and pot had just become legal so why not!  In my mind, I knew this was something I wanted to do on my own but I was in a relationship.  I couldn’t pull myself to leave it and my girlfriend followed me out there and we lived in an upscale type of place which I hated.  Needless to say, it was a very depressing year for me.  Moving to Denver for the marijuana business did not produce any of the opportunity I thought it would have and the Denver pot culture is WAY different than the San Francisco pot culture which I loved and was used to.  Not that I was looking for that either as I had moved away from that but it was what I had known and there was connection there so the draw was a reality.  I could hardly get up in the mornings to go about my day.  I hated giving massage and working in wellness.  I was burnt out on going to school.  I was in a relationship and living situation that I knew that didn’t define me.  I was running apartments through my airbandb business and I was a little disgusted at myself in my life that my means of income and what I “was” was a rental manager.  Those were some very numbing, dark days.  There had to be more, god dammit!  Fuck, I was unwilling to consider that life was not really anything you really wanted it to be.

 

I left Denver and came upon a new word in my life; authenticity.  My friend and I were going through breakups of sorts and we decided to go to Burning Man together.  This couldn’t have gone better as the Burner culture embraced things I believed in like radical self-reliance, radical expression, radical participating/inclusion, decommodification, civic responsibility, leave no trace, etc.  It really taught me how to take care of myself in a harsh environment as it’s held in the extreme elements of the desert.  It taught me how to flow in life, how to accept myself, how to be mindful, and that there was a huge community of people who believed the same.  The first year was an explosion in my mind, as I encountered seventy thousand people at the event, for how this whole community was possible and happening and how I had never been a part of it or really taken it seriously, thinking it was just a festival rather than a way of life.  Attending the following two years were very deep dives into really embracing the culture of burning man and feeling great at the person I was allowing myself to be.  I am proud to say that being a “burner” is one of the things I identify with.

 

Despite this awakening through going to Burning Man and feeling so “at home”, nothing absorbs itself that quickly into your life no matter how much you want it.  It took about 2 more years to actually implement these changes in a way that I really felt confident with where it was my reaction at being rather than something I was trying to learn.  I moved to Salt Lake City as I felt like the city had a relaxing nature to it, my brother lived there, and there was amazing outdoors to play in all around.  Investing in nature is never a bad thing.  I also started to explore psychedelic processing more with magic mushrooms, lsd, and mdma, again, never a bad thing when done with positive intention and in a balanced way.  I bought a house somewhat reluctantly but with hope, with the partner I had still had from Philly and we decided we were going to give it one more shot.  The age of 35 was quickly approaching and instead of it being a far-off age of, ‘yeah I’ll have my shit squared away by then,’ it was now more like ‘well if it’s not squared away as soon as possible I’m going to lose my mind.’ The Bernie Sanders campaign came and that gave me and my partner a wonderful, positive purpose in life but we all know how that eventually ended.  As soon as it ended in horrible and evil Democratic Party corruption and takeover, my life went back to normal with all the anxieties and depressions I had been previously experiencing.  It was still crazy hard to get up in the morning.  I didn’t like my life.  I didn’t want to be living with my loving partner already settled into a relationship routine with a home.  This wasn’t supposed to be happening yet in my life, if at all.  I always felt so numb and like I was going to explode from it.  I felt like there was something else and enough time had gone by now that I guess you can say I was narrowing it becoming depleted for how I was handling it and something big was about to happen whether I liked it or not.

 

My authentic being was too much to ignore somewhere in about halfway through my 33rd year.  For the previous year or so I had experimented more with psychedelics and emotional processing.  I started to go to festivals more.  I started to become attracted to different types of women.  I started to become attracted to different types of lifestyles.  Upon coming home from a festival, I ended things with my lover even though we had a house together.  It took a very emotionally trying year before we finally sold the place and officially both moved on.  In that time, I took on another girlfriend which was the recipient of a lot of my pent-up energy that I had wanted to come out for so long.  I loved her full bore, even though I was in an emotional unhealthy place of wanting to dish out my love before it was appropriate.  I wanted to love her and did before we even started dating.  I was in love with Utah.  I was in love with her family.  I thought she was the most wonderful, artistic, crafty, earthy hippy ever!  It was all so different than what I had experienced before, which was exactly what I wanted.  The physical attraction was out of this world and I really felt like I was with someone I could have a deep spiritual connection with.  I wanted to FEEL again in my life, after feeling so numb for so long for what it felt like to love and yearn for someone and something.  I hadn’t had meaning in my life for loving what I was doing for a while which made this energy, love surge especially intense.  I just tried to let go and go with the flow.  I was as accommodating as possible.  It was easy to love really hard and with deep intention.  I was spiritually and emotionally connected to her and for a short time this really satisfied me and gave me hope that perhaps I had found something that really was in alignment with my authentic self for who I was and what I was morphing into and what I could move forward in my life with.

 

This relationship was utterly amazing for about the first six months.  As the emotional surge, love blinders gradually eased up and a more balanced reality settled in with the passing months, it became clear that I was participating in a relationship that defined an older version of myself that merely was a mirage for it being different.  My love surge produced in me things I didn’t’ see and pay attention to and in this way, I wasn’t being honest with myself and just wanted to feel good being in a loving connection with someone else.  I didn’t speak my truth and my accommodating nature just led the way.  The relationship was very reliant on pot and shallow in many aspects that defined more of what my life was like in my 20s and why I left SF and that whole lifestyle.  My eventual insistence to implement emotional maturity and communicate and going deeper, brought only rage and defensiveness from my partner as she was unwilling to process and think differently about things.  I tried so hard to make things better and keep what we had but the more effort I put in the more it was made worse.  You can’t create change with a person who doesn’t want to explore themselves or communicate or be vulnerable.  Eventually I felt like my vulnerabilities were being used against me and a weird control game where my love was the innocent bystander was being played out.  Who could feel less was the game and who controlled power and I lost every time and as a result was demeaned and degraded for feeling the way I did for trying to emotionally process and connect.  I always felt so confused and as dejected and horrible as possible but became obsessed at how I could help improve things.  There must be a way!  Nothing ever worked as the game was rigged from the beginning as that’s how certain people operate as feeling and processing and going deep are enemies to be avoided at all costs!  I eventually sacrificed most of myself, felt embarrassed at what I had become but for some reason couldn’t figure out how to get out of it.  I was frozen and fell hard to being addicted to a narcissist who used vulnerabilities and manipulation and low conscious thinking to keep me from going to places that I had learned over the years through therapy and witnessing and talking to others were elements of healthy relationships.  The relationship lasted for too long as I continued to think less and less of myself until I realized yet again, that there had to be something more.  The only difference with this situation was that I really had the issues of what it felt like to be an addict to something and how I couldn’t even trust myself to make a decision to be with someone that was constantly leading to negative consequences and outcomes for me.  With not being able to trust myself, I had to trust others, my therapist, and the writings of professionals on the subject, of how victims are when in psychopathic, narcissistic relationships.  It was a learning experience and I will never downplay the affects of how powerless we can be when the values and professionalism of a psychopath, sociopath, and narcissist is at work.  The insight gained through this has been tremendous and I experienced one part of life that I didn’t even know existed and will never again degrade myself to such a degree and have given permission to others to step in if they see me delving into such negative behavior.

 

It is interesting to note that since the above situation was a recent phenomenon in my life it takes up more attention and space.  I could have written about a slew of different scenarios I had experienced with women in my twenties but they have since become less intense in memory.  Even though, this one situation is probably something I’ll remember for the rest of my life in how I completely lost control, became an addict, and was experiencing a very harsh partner, it is also fair to say that life keeps moving on.  What we think is insane at one point in our lives eventually become but a memory that we learned from.  We keep on at it and it’s good to know that certain intense emotions and ‘cataclysmic events’ are just that in the short term and are merely a part of us and do not embody us or define us whole in the long run.  They need outlets for healthy processing and that’s the most important thing.  Everything experienced becomes just like everything else, parts that make up the whole and that is something important to remember as we often think in the short term that nothing else defines us than what is currently emotionally happening.  Developing emotional intelligence and balance is an interesting process wrought with extreme growing pains.

 

And again, I sit here as a 35-year-old and think to myself, ‘There’s got to be something different!’  For some reason, now I believe it more than I ever have.  Not because I think there is something magically different out there that will bring me blissful happiness, but just that I have faith in the life process of the gradual change that needs to come about to bring you closer to your true authentic self.  All we can do is be communicative and honest with ourselves and others about who we are and what we’re striving for.  For so many years I was defined by certain things that got tore down.  I’ve struggled a lot regarding the role I let love with a partner play in my life and I’m now going to give that a break for a few years and see where that energy takes me and what fills that void.  If you really want to make things different than you really have to somehow get to a point where you rely on different things and develop processes for obtaining it.  I no longer want to rely on the love with a partner to be what completes me as I haven’t had much other than short term success with that in the past.  If anything, it has brought criticizing thoughts and comments to myself regarding selling myself short, not being honest, and not really pushing to my authentic self.  I need to work on self-love.  I need to actually fill my life with things that bring me joy.  The joy that lives in your gut that tells you to try and take things on.  I need to fill myself with people that are positive, people who I admire.  I need to fill my life with accepting who I am and not abiding by what society or a social group of others wants me to be.  I’ve spent too much time faking it, or thinking I’m acting authentically, only to experience anxiety and pressures related to whatever avatar I am creating for people to believe in about me.  It’s taken me a long time to get to this point.  At any point along the way, I could have ended up with a partner or a job that just would have increased the dread in my life.  I really am a fortunate person to have made it through these times and not giving in to what I felt like I had to do.

 

Now that I’m 35, I sit here and realize that I’ve never felt so free and full of potential.  It has not been too long since completely ending the last narcissistic based relation I was in that I mentioned above but it has been enough time that I feel that I have turned the corner for knowing how to proceed forward in a positive way, investing in what makes me a positive person again.  I am learning how to really trust myself and how to listen to my truthful voice again.  It feels like a total re-birthing after so many years of taking on different thing after different thing that just compounded similar problems in me.  We all evolve how we are supposed to evolve but, fuck, it just seems like I haven’t had mental peace about really confidently being in flow about what I’m doing for a very long time.  My life experiences up to this point have led all to this.  Thirty-five was supposed to be the year that I took on different things and I totally am as I’ve decided to take on being a ski instructor in the winter months in Park City, UT half the year and then in April travel for the other half of the year down in Peru and make my way up to spending a lot of time in Mexico.  I don’t know how this will ultimately pan out but the point is that I feel absolutely wonderful about it and I have the necessary resources and time to make it happen.  I want to learn Spanish!  I want to volunteer and work on permaculture farms and wellness centers.  I want to engage with the world in a different way, one that’s based on my true confident spirit about what and where I see my life going.  I want to have deeper connection with people, which, isn’t physicality related.  I want a whole lot of things.  In one sense, I think I’m getting at 35 what I said I wanted at 18.  I wanted to be smarter.  I wanted to live more outside of my physical body of performance, whims, and desires.  I really wanted things to be different and after SO many years, and short term stints here and there, they really have been, and I feel like now I can see the horizon of a new level of existence that’s more honed around the deeper, more authentic aspects of life that I feel drawn to and want to incorporate.  It has been an interesting ride and I’m sure heading forward will produce different peaks and valleys of emotional processing but somehow I think it will involve different things than what I’ve experienced in the past.  Thirty-five couldn’t feel better for what it represents!  I’m glad I’m not retiring from playing sports, but rather just revving my mind and mental and emotional processing up to get going for the truth that I see and want to experience in the world!  After all, things have got to be different right!  Keep believing in yourself and it manifests gradually and eventually!

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The Inevitable Harm of Relationships with Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and Narcissists

1 11 2017

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This book is a phenomenal resource for helping victims of intense, psychological relationship abuse.  It is appropriately titled, as women experience way more often than men the ill effects of these relationships.  However, men can easily become victims too and women can just as aggressively display the manipulative traits of the low/no conscience psychopath, sociopath, and narcissist, which I will now just refer to as psychopath for ease of writing.  Over the years in my wellness practice, and just through being a supportive person and friend to others, I have helped mostly women and some men see through and overcome psychopathic behavior from their partners.  I thought I understood the nature of the problem and had empathy for these people trying to navigate unreasonable love situations.  There was a part of me that would question, why they just couldn’t just leave them and how could it be such a big deal given the outrageous negative behavior that was obvious to see with the little or no positive behavior.  Why were they so desperately hanging on?  However, until I experienced it myself I realized I never could have realized the magnitude of what these people were going through.  I might as well should have been asking a heroin addict to just simply stop using heroine!  The mental state of victims of psychopaths is similar to an addictive mind disease (although addiction is not ultimately the correct word here) where the victim is in a fog and the psychopath is a professional at using the positive traits of their partner to manipulate them further and keep them from being equals and having them cater to every power dynamic to favor the psychopath and further keep down the victim.

 

This is a serious problem.  It is so serious in fact that a women just came up to me, upon seeing my book, and we had a dynamic conversation about how years later she is still dealing with PTSD from her psychopathic ex-partner who is still acting like psychopath with her 13 year old son.  She started to shake at one point and said she hadn’t felt this way in a while and thought that this kind of reaction was gone.  They estimate that the victims from psychopathic behavior range in the hundreds of millions just in the U.S.  It is so serious because it is not easy to see if one is not educated in how to see it.  It is not like seeing a battered person and then throwing the domestic abuser in jail.  The psychopath operates in a much more sneaky and covert way.  They are experts at not being found out and coming off at first as the ideal partner and then symbolically portraying themselves in a positive light and causing absolute confusion for anyone who thinks anything else.  They are experts at recognizing vulnerabilities and exposing them to the fullest for getting what they want.  As time passes, victims feel like they are doing something wrong, question every move they make, and become a shell of their former selves while trying to improve the relationship within the confines and constraints and rules put forth by the psychopath which is impossible and not meant to do anything but continue to keep the victim down in a low conscious state.  Again, you could say about the victims, “why can’t these people just leave?”  Well that is a complicated question which doesn’t offer any easy answer and why this book was written.  When something as powerful as emotional love and attachment is involved, and the body’s drug hormones respond effectively for keeping you chemically involved/addicted, asking someone to just pick up and leave such a relationship is like asking someone to stop eating food.  It just doesn’t add up in the brain and how the body operates.  In this way, the psychopath is a master at knowing how to control and capitalize on positive personality traits, while the victim continually tries to improve love and connection and the relationship, forever trying to get back to the beginning of the relationship when the psychopath was a master at faking an ideal partnership.  And this is one of the cruxes of the issue.  There is a certain type of person whom the psychopath seeks and there is a certain type of person who will unknowingly and regrettably take on the psychopath.

 

This is a complicated subject.  If it were easy to pinpoint then we wouldn’t have this problem and psychopaths would easily be recognized and people would stay away from them, and we wouldn’t need this book written about what so many people are missing about them.  The professionalism associated with the changing nature of the psychopath to use confusion, manipulations, and your vulnerabilities against you is the very nature of why this is so hard to spot.  The women I talked to earlier used a lava lamp as a metaphor.  Think of a lava lamp and how the material inside is constantly changing giving off light with the different forms of the lava material floating and moving around inside the lamp.  Hence is the psychopath.  You can never catch the lava lamp in one state where its material is staying the same and not moving around.  The psychopath is no different in their efforts to constantly maneuver and adjust around in his incentivized goal to manipulate and have power in any way they can; never allowing for one second to be seen as vulnerable or open as that of course would be seen by them as ‘weakness.’  Avoiding and deluding reality at all costs is of absolute importance.  Even if you pinpoint or catch a psychopath in the act they will deny the act, or make you think you didn’t catch them, or were wrong in what you perceived and demean and degrade you for it.

 

The most common traits of psychopaths include being unmoved by emotional concepts, being devious in communication, using language that is contradictory, lacking any emotional processing abilities related to empathy-conscience-remorse-fear-sadness-disgust, and avoidance of communication they don’t want to have or limiting things that can be talked about.  They are very good at smooth talking and hiding communication problems (avoidant personality traits), changing the meaning of words, mimicking or parroting words or gestures back to the victim, and experts at picking up and using non-verbal cues like body language, eye lingo, and gestures/movements.  They have a predatory six sense for loneliness, grief, and vulnerability.  With the psychopath, communication is reduced to a very juvenile emotional age and decision making skills.  They will bring to the communication process other manipulative, dysfunctional and aggravating behavior which include impulsivity, extreme highs and lows of emotion even from one instant moment to another, splitting one person against another, knows-it-all so nobody can contribute any new information, lying, drama (while saying they don’t like drama), extremes in anger which can easily lead to physical abuse, changing subjects dramatically, blaming irrationally, doesn’t take responsibility for behavior/choices and is generally irresponsible and parasitic in behavior, has abandonment issues and acts like a victim, projects behavior on others, causes general confusion overall to avoid getting caught in their schemes, and overall uses gaslighting.

 

For the victim, it is important to know what kinds of traits put them at risk that attract psychopaths and make such relationships continue.  These traits include extraversion in themselves and yearning for it in others and generally high excitement seeking traits and high values for relationship investment and being socially positive.  Other values include sentimentality, attachment, competitiveness (you will make the relationship better!), concern for others, and harm avoidance for themselves and others.  The victims character traits also align with cooperativeness, empathy, tolerance, friendliness, compassion, and supportiveness.  They also include initially being very self-confident, responsible, reliable, resourceful, goal-oriented, un-pretentious, humble, and fulfilled, and overall very self-transcendent (big picture thinking).  Also, most victims exhibit the tendency to ‘believe in miracles’ and have low impulsiveness as this makes them think the psychopath can change while never act on their impulses to, ‘leave’ the relationship.

 

You can see how everything mentioned above about the intersecting traits of psychopaths and their victims will completely enable the psychopath to operate effectively while the victim questions all their positive traits they bring to the relationship and hence feels absolutely crazy!  The attempts at communicating further or going deeper or working towards empathy and being met equally and reciprocally are crazy-making for how ineffective the results are, and will cause the victim to question their communication skills as more ideas for communication and expression and providing an accepting and non-judgmental environment only produces such for the psychopath and leaves the victim in a crazy, depleted, crisis mode for it never being returned.  Inevitably it makes them view themselves negatively and their sanity soon plummets.  The blame continues to come implemented by the psychopath who degrades the victim for trying to make things better, while the victim internalizes it all and self-criticism runs to unbounded heights!  In this way, the only solution with a psychopath is 100% total disengagement or as close to that as is feasibly possible.  Nothing will ever change unless you yourself turn into a psychopath and beat them at their own game which is most definitely a lose-lose situation.

 

Describing these two types of people in the psychopath and the victim seems like complete and utter opposites and ironic that they would be together.  However, that is precisely the reason they are!  The super temperament and character traits of the victim are offset by the horrendous deficits of the psychopath.  The masterful camouflage of the psychopath’s emotional bankruptcy in the beginning combined with a fake presentation of themselves, while displaying a vortex-sucking attracting and draw, and basically being on good behavior, does wonders for them for accumulating emotional vulnerable knowledge for later leading to utter disaster for the victim.

 

As you can see, this is a very serious subject that takes some insight and inquiry and contemplation to understand what exactly is going on, and with it affecting into the hundreds of millions in our country it clearly is leaving an outrageous path of victims.  The psychopath benefits from the fact that society, people, the legal system does not take a deeper look.  Looking at the surface, how many of us have been duped by psychopaths?  Over the years, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it as I was never educated on such matters and didn’t even know what narcissism meant until a few years ago.  The word psychopath made me think of the movie ‘Psycho’ and somebody who knifes people in the shower who is obviously physically attacking people.  Regardless of my past short comings, I am a pretty intuitive person and inner gut feelings would come up here and there with certain types of people about how I negatively felt around them, how everything was centered around them, how they were domineering and would always get their way, how they created drama, how they were irresponsible, how you were always confused and would feel negative around them, how they spun reality, how they would refuse to communicate, how they would refuse to stop talking to listen, how they would take advantage of your friends and family, how they were irrational, how they would make ruthless/black-or-white world thinking comments, how they would avoid all important emotional processing matters like the plague, how they would bully, the list can go on and on.

 

I don’t think it is wise to now look at EVERYONE in your life as a psychopath or be paranoid of psychopaths, however, I do feel it is smart to do a few things.  Pay attention to what kinds of psychopathic traits are within you and walk towards them and explore and get help with therapy for whatever arises with them.  Pay attention to these traits in all that you surround yourself with and most especially those you share an intimate partnership with.  Share your experiences with others about what psychopathy, sociopathy, and narcissism are and vehemently defend whoever comes to you with such traumatic information about their partner.  I never thought I would have been blind-sided by such things EVER by people who were unwilling to look within, communicate, participated in gaslighting, etc.  I am a wellness provider and I help people with this sort of stuff and it happening to me completely blew me out of the water.  I have fully felt what the disease mentality is and it how it persists in us and how these types of dysfunctional relationships function.  However, it also gave me clarity on the negative personality traits I had been witnessing over the years and, also, what I have had to explore in myself.  It has empowered me tremendously but the PTSD effects will still be there from at least time to time at the heights that the psychopath will go to hide, avoid vulnerability and communication and emotions, confuse, distort, lie, basically do everything they can in a low conscious, reactionary state to create manipulation and power dynamics that favor them in every way while making it seem like they are doing exactly the opposite!

 

I escaped without any kids or houses shared or anything of the sort so I am a lucky victim but I feel extreme sympathy for the people who will have to deal with these people for the rest of their lives.  They will be forced to turn into some of the strongest people I will have ever meet, and it will be a slow process to get there (at least in the beginning or until they find the right approach to process their situation and trauma).  It is a new nightmarish reality in my life to know that this sort of thing exists and the relevance of it in our society (our psychopathic president in Trump for one), and how it goes largely unnoticed and unchecked.  I am glad overall, though, that I now know more intimately the nature of this outrageously abusive problem.  The amount of vigilance that is required today in order to not be taken advantage of seems like it’s at an all-time high.  Screw the idea of allowing it to slide and dropping it and letting it go unnoticed, hence playing into the psychopath’s world and strengths.  Screw catering to stupid ass behavior in stupid ass people and being responsible for their change and being easy on them in an emotionally unintelligent way that only enables them to further cause havoc and trauma and parasitic behavior!  Without exposing such behavior, and educating as many as possible on these matters, and taking whatever legal means necessary to be free from psychopathic influence, it persists and plays into psychopathic strengths.  Bringing such things into light and relying on intelligent emotional processing is a positive way forward.  Spreading the word, standing up for myself and people who have dealt with this trauma and dedicating a portion of my wellness practice and life focus on the matter seems like the natural thing to do.





The Sad Truth About Gun Violence in America and the Politicians and People Who Don’t Care About Your Life.

4 10 2017

Other than the obvious fact that guns allow people to kill themselves and others much more easily here are other truths about guns in America.

Relative to the ratio of population and guns, America has 6 times as many firearm homicides as Canada and nearly 16 times as many as Germany.  America has 4.4% of the world’s population but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world.  There is more than one mass shooting for each day in America.  States and developed countries with more guns have fewer gun-related deaths.  The states with the most guns report the most suicides.

To go into further depth with the article I specifically referenced please read it here at https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts

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The Santa Clause Mushroom: A Blunt Day With Amanita Muscaria

3 10 2017

I had never eaten the Alice in Wonderland/Mario Brothers/Santa Clause and his Reindeer mushroom.  It is one of the eight major teacher plants.  It is technically not considered a psychedelic in how it reacts to your brain and body but extraordinarily it still mimics a psychedelic experience.  I knew this experimental day would be different than others.  People that I know who have taken Amanita have not said the most wonderful things.  Most have just gotten sick and purged and sweated profusely and not exactly had a pleasant experience.  My Shaman friend who was involved in giving them to me, mentioned he recently had a conversation with the plant and it was giving up on humans.  They’ve been trying for thousands of years to have an effect and although it might have worked for some time, it doesn’t seem to be working now and are giving away to its relatives, the psilocybin mushrooms, who seem to be having a better connection point with more people right now.  From my experience after today it seems like the shaman was at least partly right.  It was a tough day.

 

I laid the Amanita’s in front of me.  My mentor and friend gave me enough for what he said would be a dose that would make me have an experience with the plant.  For me this would probably be a higher dose due to my sensitive nature so I was excited he didn’t give me more.  I laid the mushrooms down in front of me and asked them to have a conversation with me.  I asked the plant to show me what is has shown thousands before me over the thousands of years.  I was in deep gratitude to be able to experience this day with Amanita and that I had come across it in my life.  Mushrooms have been around for 18 million years and Amanita has been interacting with humans for just thousands of years.  The scope of the plant would go far beyond anything I could really grasp in my human consciousness but I was willing to partake like so many had done before me.

 

At noon, I ate the heads of the mushrooms.  Note that when eating Amanita Muscaria the caps are what you want while the stems do not have any mystical ingredients.  The mushrooms smelled sweet and tasted on average a little better than psilocybin ones.  I took them then went about my day for the next hour doing normal things like laundry and some cleaning.  Sometimes I like to do somewhat normal things to where I’ll naturally realize that eventually something is having an effect on me.  Sort of like realizing at some point that someone is banging on the door and obviously “a guest” has shown up, and now it’s time to cater to them because they will not leave for many hours.

 

An hour in, I looked out the window and that familiar psychedelic feeling was upon me.  Not that the world or room was magically dancing or melting around me but just that my attention and focus was a little less specific in its trajectory.  I would look outside and easily lose my focus while staring at a tree.  It was getting harder to focus with my normal consciousness and sight.  Amanita was acting upon me.  The guest was ringing the doorbell and wanting to come in to have a chat.  I sat down to read and although I finished a chapter, my attention wasn’t totally on the book.  I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom.  I did and I’m glad I had a toilet and hadn’t left the house.  This was my first purge.  At around two hours, the mushroom was beginning to fully converse with me.  My mouth began to water and little feelings of that I might throw up came on.  I grabbed a bucket and had it near me and would occasionally spit in it.  There were times my mouth would suddenly be drooling and my nose was running.  I also realized how much I was starting to sweat even though I was getting extremely cold.  I had on sweat pants, long socks, a shirt, a sweater and my clothes were getting moist.  Sweat was dripping off my brow and rolling down my cheeks.  My body was so cold.  I grabbed a blanket off a bed and wrapped myself up in it and laid by the fire that was raging.  It was an extremely uncomfortable experience that lasted about an hour as I was just sort of teetering in this liminal space and halfway conscious.  I knew I wasn’t in any danger, but just having a purgy experience that I was ready for.  I kept trying to focus on my breath and the breathing would make the nausea go away but it was still there looming.  Finally I went through about 3 rounds of throw up purges and dry heaves and one bathroom run.  The purges were intense.  Not many plant medicines make me throw up but purging has a way of feeling good after the fact.  It was as intense as anything I’ve been through before.  It was uncomfortable, and I was laying there sweating profusely and freezing my ass off and trying to sit with the pain and discomfort.  Not exactly a fun experience.

 

After about an hour or two of this, I decided that I needed to do something about how cold I felt and since I had the resources I did something about it.  I passed by a mirror at this point and my eyes looked as dark and sunken as they’ve ever been.  My face had suddenly aged.  I looked dead.  Looking into mirrors on psychedelics can easily lead to a wormhole of thinking.  I brought my throw up bowl with me to the bathroom where I put the shower on as hot as it would go and then laid down and allowed it to flow over me and fill up the bath tub.  The feeling was magical as I felt warmer and wasn’t wearing sweaty clothes anymore.  I laid in the bathtub turning on the shower every now and then to fill up with hot water.  The warm water stopped the cold feeling and a relaxation took over, although mucus and spit was still accumulating in my mouth which I deposited in my bowl.  I would close my eyes and be in a sort of dream like state but not necessary experiencing rapid hallucinations.  There were moments when I’d see something totally wobble through into my visual minds eye.  It was as if a ripple of water had been cast on one side of my subconscious and when it reached the shore of my inner eye it would ripple and wobble into my visual scope.  It’s hard to explain and I’m doing my best to find the words but I can’t seem to define it any other way.  When my eyes opened, I knew what I was looking at, but, it’s funny, because it felt hard to actually look at something.  It felt hard to think about anything else but my breath.  My mind was empty.  It felt good to be able to sit for long periods of time without thought.  Amanita was in my body and mind, and my eyes and wandering brain were not the focal points.

 

I stayed in the tub for what must have been a few hours.  I never got uncomfortable and my mind never wandered.  I had a certain focus but it wasn’t on anything in particular.  It was easy to not get distracted.  The medicine was very direct.  It wasn’t filling my mind up with a million things or making me focus solely on something very intensely like what can usually happen with many psychedelics.  It wasn’t a numb feeling, just a nothingness feeling but it wasn’t like I felt like I was focusing on nothing but I guess nothingness was the focus of the plant.  It felt primitive.  It felt connective because of the simplicity.  The normal distractions that fill up my mind weren’t there.  It was easy to not “go there” and I was very much in my body and not in my brain.  It felt relaxing to able to feel this “just being there” feeling.  It felt wonderful to not have my mind racing in a million directions like it can easily do.  It felt great to not have my mind so stimulated like it can be on other psychedelics.  It felt great to be at ease.  The plant was forcing me into ease.  Forcing me into a simpler thought process and a simpler life orientation.  I was still feeling a bit nausea at times, but I never threw up again.  It was easy for me to focus on my breath.  Amanita was having a directness with me.  It wasn’t allowing me to use my “normal” human brain.  It was just allowing me to exist while being directed at nothingness.

 

When I finally got out of the tub I put on new, dry clothes.  I still felt cold but not as cold as before but I still wrapped myself up in a blanket and went and sat by the fire.  Again, it was easy to just sit there and just be.  Something I have improved upon A LOT in the recent years of my life but something that doesn’t naturally come to me.  My mind felt empty.  Things that I would normally be thinking about weren’t coming up, and if they did they just came and went, not feeling any more significant than happening to see a bug on the ceiling, and then I would calmly go back to my own void of “nothingness” focus.  I would look at my phone and not be motivated by it, whereas normally on psychedelics it just wouldn’t make sense.  All I wanted to do was listen to peaceful piano music.  This was extremely relaxing and the piano notes increased my relaxation and my interest in the moment and it was astounding to notice how easy it could be to just let something relaxing have a positive effect on you.  The piano notes were making me feel warm and in flow.  They were making me feel connected to something else, a connective feeling that even the plant enjoyed and allowed me to tap into.  After about another hour of this, I wanted to watch an episode of my favorite show, “Narcos.”  It was easy to just watch the story and feel deeply inside the characters for what it was rather than my mind jumping all over the place and wanting to know the end and getting impatient.  It was easy to focus on one thing, but that one thing was all encompassing.  It was easy to just take in and allow it to happen in front of me.  I was in a very relaxed state.  Everything felt super focused but not in a forced way, just in a non-distracted way.

 

The night went on and even many hours later I still laid in bed and was cold when usually I am very hot and don’t use any sheets and blankets.  It is some days later now and I still have a level of focus.  Things are not penetrating me in the same way or for as long  Thoughts that usually create tension and anxiety and stress seem to not have the same affect.  This is similar to other psychedelics but whereas other psychedelics might seem to bring out an exuberance I still feel a very consistent calmness and directed focus.  It reminds me of the day after experiencing a mega dose of LSD (4 hits) but yet different as that was a bit more energizing with focus.  I keep thinking about what I’m striving for in my life and what I strive for with my days and my to do lists and me watching myself and others watching me.  It makes me feel an equal ease for getting things done vs not getting things done.  My to do list and daily happenings seem more irrelevant.  But not irrelevant in that they don’t matter but just that it doesn’t matter how much I judge myself over what I deem myself pressurized to do and accomplish.  I do with my day what I do with my day and less is more.  Mushrooms have been around for millions of years.  They are a mystical organism that gives us experiences about that history and their relationship with everything along the way.  The calm, bluntness of the plant influenced me.  It made me feel happy about what I’m doing with my day to day despite if I “achieve” anything.  Less is more coupled with consistency really made an impression on me.  What is meant to be achieved will and my energy will naturally lead me to that.  Existing in itself, felt like achievement after this experience.

 

I think the shaman is right that Amanita is going into a sort of hiding, especially when it’s cousin the psilocybin mushrooms is having much success healing humans at the moment.  Not that we don’t need Amanita’s teaching desperately.  Anything that helps modern humans in our tech age not get lost in our own minds or lost in distraction with screens or lost in thinking about a million things is a great benefit to us.  Amanita’s focus is more on sitting and trying to be okay with pain and discomfort and being in the present moment.  It forces you to not think about anything.  Not unlike Ayahuasca in some ways but at least Aya comes with these sacred geometric visuals that one can get lost in that carves out a story and experience with them.  I think our culture is so visual that anything that doesn’t cater to that will be taken in less.  Plus, Amanita is painful and I felt like I was dying with cold sweats and throwing up.  It seems like a plant of the old world.  A world that was perhaps more harsh, more deathly.  Maybe Amanita will have a place again with us in the future but right now I can’t see it taking.  It will loom in the distance, what’s a few thousand years or even a million to a mushroom?  They will just sit and wait patiently doing their thing and observe how these humans will either destroy themselves or engage with plants and nature more.

 

Would I take it again?  Yes I would, but not for some time.  The experience was tough but I think it was one that was important for me to go through and see more of what the major teacher plants bring to the consciousness table.  The level of intensity is insanely high with these plants.  They have a positive effect on us because they give us these insanely traumatic painful experiences that are coupled with enlightenment or endarkenment that bring about an eventual ease at having trodden down tough paths.  Uncovering what lays at the end of these tough paths is the benefit of psychedelics; taking on psychedelic trauma in order to process trauma.  For a white, heterosexual, middle class man like myself, I think it is important for me to go through such things and feel what it’s like to sit with pain and discomfort.  It is something my demographic has had to go through much less than others and that equalizing effect gives perspective and empathy for recognizing those who have gone through or are going through painful life experiences.  These plants force you to interact with your relative shit.  They lead you to decomposing your thoughts and taking on things that will make you better.  I look forward to the day when Amanita will be something that is prescribed to people to help them, rather than just something that some guy writes about on the internet that most people know absolutely nothing about.

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Enlightenment Through Breakdown of Body and Tech

22 09 2017

There will be a day when our bodies will look more like something from the Borg in “Star Trek: Next Generation” vs anything of what we look like today.  The Borg is a species in space that is simply known as the collective.  The phrase “resistance is futile” is commonly associated with them.  They are somewhat human, mostly machine.  They have mostly human faces but mechanical components for their limbs and of course their brains have been networked with technology to the point where there are no individuals on the Borg but only the collective consciousness of the whole collective.  Star Trek (specifically The Next Generation) is a great show and they highlight well what our species is moving towards.

 

Until the days of the Borg arrive and we have no choice, I strive to not ignore technology but to constantly maintain a balance with it in how it affects every faucet of my life (because it DOES and it will only get more intense as companies like Google and Apple take over more of the world!).  I also strive to recognize what my own body is telling me.  How do I get too obsessed with physical and mental activity and “getting somewhere” and “achieving?”  How do I get too stuck on “to do lists” and going too intensely in one direction?  How does my body tell me what I’m doing is perhaps not balanced and depleting for me?

 

I was on a couple week camping trip lately and I pushed myself hard for it.  I wanted every day to be as perfect as the last.  I wanted every night to be under the stars after having amazing experiences during the day.  I wanted to hike everywhere, talk to everyone, and take in all that I could.  I wanted to ascend mountain peaks, have transcendental experiences, show the world through social networking what I was doing, and write lengthy self-reflection journals into the night.  I wanted it all!  However, sometimes when we continually grab for it all we miss something.  We miss rest, we miss creativity that comes from boredom, we miss taking deep breaths, we miss relaxation, we miss down time, we miss not falling into social norm trances of the status quo; even if the status quo is something like camping!  Overall, we easily surge in one energetic direction until it goes out somewhere and when not in balance we can miss out on a whole array of things when we’re so narrowly focused no matter what it is.

 

About a week into my trip I had many days in a row of utter stimulating activity.  Each day I was planning 7 to 15 mile hikes mixed in with connecting with people mixed in with driving all around, mixed in with sleeping in caves or in an uncomfortable tent, etc.  I was in Taos, New Mexico on a leisurely walk with a friend in Taos Pueblo forest when my ankle snapped.  I have this re-occurring right ankle injury that is a sprain that happens about once or twice a year.  The last time it happened was when I was helping my second friend of the day move their furniture.  The time it happened before that I was doing gymnastics in a stressful setting, the time before that I was carrying too many things and walking down a crazy steep street, the time before that I was training too hard and I jumped awkwardly on a medicine ball/wobbly fitness ball.  The theme is most definitely over exertion and as the years have gone by, I have hurt it less as I really try to recognize when I’m going too big or too non-stop.  The most recent occurrence a few weeks ago was no different.  I felt invincible on my trip and was not taking the proper rest and pushing too hard.  I was walking behind my friend in the forest on a very mild hike when I felt the familiar “pop” on my ankle.  I was embarrassed because I was with a friend and we were having a good time and now I was going to be hobbled for the rest of the time.  I was initially crushed that I had somehow “failed.”

 

My friend recommended I put my foot in the freezing cold river water that was flowing magically around us.  She then sang medicine songs and performed reiki on me and found me hiking sticks.  We did this a few times as we continued our slow walk downhill.  The injury slowed me down but it also gave me an opportunity to experience different things.  Conquest of the hike is something I am easily drawn to but now I was able to spend a different energy presence with my friend and learned how to use a walking stick appropriately (which is an amazing tool for hiking by the way!).  When we got back to the car and parted ways I decided that I was going to take the pressure off myself and not try and camp that night.  Instead I booked a hostel in town and for the next 20 hours I slepted, ate, iced, read, wrote, and had a very restful time.  It was interesting to do this and notice how much ease and calmness burst through in me.  It took off the edge of thinking I needed to “accomplish” on my trip.  It allowed me to actually sit and be still and do something I love to do which is write and reflect.  Initially, it was so anxious ridden for me to think about not continuing my, many days in a row, camping outside streak.  Weird how we get in these stressful expectation ridden trances even for things that are supposed to be fun and relaxing.

 

When I continued on my camping trip just the next night the refreshing feeling I felt was unimaginable.  I was on such a high from my body failing me and it forcing me to take a break.  Our bodies as machines need tender love and care.  Our brains need to be put on time out sometimes as they get carried away with routine of thought and looping neurotic pursuits.

 

Three days later I decided to test my ankle and hike a 14k foot mountain in Mount Blanca and Ellington right by the Great San Dune National Park.  Before you scoff and claim that I fell into the same trap I was in but only a few days earlier, note that I was setting an intention to actually experience this hike rather than conquer it.  Plus, I had my magical hiking stick from Taos that my friend gave me and it was amazing how using that made my body feel so much better.  I climbed for most of the day.  I took copious amounts of pictures and videos with my new favorite Snapchat app (really, it’s not just for young kids and super convenient for taking and sharing videos).  On my way down I really felt like a mix between Gollum and a billy goat as I was using my handy stick to descend steep cliffs edges and probably go where most people wouldn’t.  I was super careful and was loving my stick.  Still utterly amazed how magically and powerful this stick felt in my hands, helping me as a long third limb in a way to ground me and re-distribute and carry my body weight as I saw fit.

 

In my somewhat rugged climb down I noticed at one point that I had broken my phone.  Stupid me for keeping it in my pocket as I’m climbing on unmovable, jagged rocks.  A feeling of desperation came over me in that now I had no way of driving home with digital maps or finding the next camping place or listening to music or communicating with anyone, etc.  Luckily it was basically my last night out anyway and, if anything, I only had to cut my trip short one day.  However, the biggest feeling of dread came from having all my pictures and videos gone from my day, before I had gotten back to camp and able to save them through data connection.  For much of this two week period, I had posted on all the social networks of Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram what I was doing, where I had been, and what I was processing.  I suddenly felt like nobody would care because they wouldn’t see a blip in their feed.  I suddenly actually felt alone and like I hadn’t accomplished anything.  I suddenly felt stupid for admitting to myself that I was feeling these things.  How was I to go about my life without proving to others what I had done and what was important to me?  It was an awkward moment and here I am descending this wonderful mountain in an utterly beautiful setting while suddenly feeling like what I was doing didn’t matter if it’s not expressed through tech.

 

It didn’t take long for this attitude to change.  Again, you can’t trust your brain with anything.  It will freak out when the ease or routine of something is out of order or threatened.  It is very much a spoiled, selfish child and doesn’t usually have your overall best interests in mind.  Spending more time thinking about things, analyzing, being in your head does not usually lead to better decisions.  More importantly, it is better to be able to get out of your head.  That is where a true form of enlightenment lies but it is so hard given our cultural values that refer to your brain and the thought process as superior to anything else.  If anything, consult the brain obviously but listen more to your gut and your heart and people that exhibit qualities you admire.

 

I sat down in a cool little cave rocky place and smoked a bowl of cannabis to take a chill pill for a minute and re-center and redirect my energy.  By the time I began hiking again my feelings had dramatically switched.  I was alone now in this beautiful place with only nature and myself.  There was no way I could get ahold of anyone.  I couldn’t just pull out my phone and take pictures.  The pictures would only now be taken in my mind and remember as good old fashioned experiences that I could tell people about.  The pressure of taking pictures and showcasing where I had been was off of me.  It felt good.  I felt lighter.  I felt like I didn’t need to be anywhere or impress anyone.  I could notice things like rock formations and flowers more and in a different way that was centered around my pleasures and excitements and my own experience.  I also could ask someone in my camping area for a map and write down directions for driving home the eight hours the next day.  What a concept; “writing down.”  I strolled the rest of the way back to my camp.  It took a lot longer than usual as I was making sure to walk slow so as to not hurt my ankle but also because I was taking everything in.  There was nobody else there with me.  A certain “Walden in the Woods” feeling came over me and it felt wonderful.  It dramatically made me feel like a kid again.  The internet didn’t come out until I was a freshman/sophomore in high school.  I didn’t have a cell phone until my freshman year of college.  It was a blast back to how happy I was as a younger person and how I used to function.  I felt fortunate for this experience and to my surprise felt an incredible ease and stresslessness.

 

It is weird to think about who we were and where we came from and what we are now and how “normal” life functions for us.  I think about my 95 year old grandparents and the world they grew up in and all that that they saw and how they’ve interacted with tech and their bodies over the last 10 to 20 years.  It is easy to think that life heads in a linear path of energy direction.  We are always cocooning and becoming something better right?  I don’t disagree with this fully but I do question that cocooning couldn’t work as well in the opposite direction.  We think we have these routines and we think we are defined by our bodies, our tech in our phones and social networking, but just like that it could change and we are left with a non-physically capable version of our isolated from tech selves.  When things break down we are forced to figure something out which leads to a breakthrough of how we now have to deal with life.  Sometimes, we go further ahead but sometimes we go backwards.  There really is no right or wrong for following linear positive energy streams that are easy to navigate.  How can you really blame ourselves for doing that and wanting and believing in correct paths or answers, or in taking the path of least resistance?  If anything we are a cluster-fuck of energy going in all sorts of directions that have nothing to do with whether we are accepted or judged or however we are presenting ourselves as “living.”  How are we really different from the man who is homeless sleeping in the street vs the Buddhist in the mountains vs our avatar on social networking?  We have created these entities and these lifestyles that we think define us but the true content of what defines us is not something that can so easily be destroyed by a fall or a phone break.  That is gone in an instant and then we have nobody left to impress or answer to but ourselves.  Who are you defined as then?  Would you have foundation to stand on if parts or all of your body and tech were taken away?  It is obviously not an easy one to answer and nobody really knows these things until they happen to them or until they make a grand intention to switch things up.  The Borg physicality and mentally is looming in the not so distant future.  I’m not saying the Borg are wrong but just that would you rather be defined as a Borg or a human?

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The Dogmatic Religious Practices of the Church of Social Justice

12 09 2017

There is a particularly aggressive strand of social justice activism weaving in and out of communities that has troubled me, silenced people, and turned away enormous amounts of allies.

 

There is an underlying current of fear in activist communities, and it is separate from the daily fear of police brutality, eviction, discrimination, and street harassment. It is the fear of appearing impure. Social death follows when being labeled a “bad” activist or simply “problematic” enough times. I’ve had countless conversations with activists about this anxiety, and how it has led us to refrain from participation in activist events, conversations, and spaces because we feel inadequately radical.

 

The amount of energy I spend demonstrating purity in order to stay in the good graces of fast-moving activist community is enormous.  I have found myself performing activism more than doing activism. Activists are some of the judgiest people I’ve ever met

 

The experiences of oppression do not grant supremacy, in the same way that being a powerful colonizer does not. Justice will never look like supremacy. I wish for a new societal order that does not revolve around relations of power and domination.

 

Telling people what to do and how to live out their lives is endemic to dogmatic religion and activism. It’s not that my peers are the bosses of me, but that dogmatic activism creates an environment that encourages people to tell other people what to do. This is especially prominent on Facebook. Scrolling through my news feed sometimes feels like sliding into a pew to be blasted by a fragmented, frenzied sermon.

 

Punishments for saying/doing/believing the wrong thing include shaming, scolding, calling out, isolating, or eviscerating someone’s social standing. Discipline and punishment has been used for all of history to control and destroy people. Why is it being used in movements meant to liberate all of us? We all have made serious mistakes and hurt other people, intentionally or not. We get a chance to learn from them when those around us respond with kindness and patience. Where is our humility when examining the mistakes of others? Why do we position ourselves as morally superior to the un-woke? Who of us came into the world fully awake?

 

If we are interested in building the mass movements needed to destroy mass oppression, our movements must include people not like us, people with whom we will never fully agree, and people with whom we have conflict. That’s a much higher calling than railing at people from a distance and labeling them as wrong.  Building a movement is about restoring humanity to all of us, even to those of us who have been inhumane.

 

I want to spend less time antagonizing and more time crafting alternative futures where we don’t have to fight each other for resources and care.  It may mean admitting that speaking my truth isn’t justification for being mean.  It means honoring their humanity, in spite of, their hurtful political beliefs and violent actions. It means seeing them as individuals, not ideologies or systems. It means acknowledging their agency to act justly. It means inviting them to be with us in love, and pushing through repeated rejection.

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This is a summary of an article.  Full article can be read at https://www.autostraddle.com/kin-aesthetics-excommunicate-me-from-the-church-of-social-justice-386640/