Managing relationships sometimes with trauma in the way keeps me feeling so lost. Looking back on my own past relationships, with partner, friends, and with family, I'm starting to miss some people.
I get-it though. I'm off-the-rails and trauma-infused. I can easily feel embarrassment, shame, and whenever I've been too much for anyone, for a very long time now, as folks needed to let me go for their own reasons, I've started to believe that trauma stuff will forever leave me lacking any trusted companions. Others who've not lived this can't understand.
I'm less-and-less upset with those who've seemed to ditch. There are only a select few these days who can tolerate my oft nonsense from here on.
I hope I'll one-day-be okay with that. Still now, not so much.
What to do? It hurt's like hell. I understand perhaps a little better how exhausting I can be, being as stuck as I am. I'm watching those I care for still, whether they know so or not. I've watched as others live still their lives, seeming to be getting so far ahead-while I'm brutally still losing everything I once held dear-both in terms of valued relationships, as well as materially, I'm starting to be pretty much wiped out.
Not to start a self-pity party. Reality, I'm slowing getting, is reality.
The truth often hurts, or so the saying goes.
At least, that's still right now how it seems-I'm losing people in my life over this shite that is an illness. Which confuses me. If I was dealing with a physically evident illness, would it be the same?.
Yes, I have to accept responsibility too. I'm isolating likely as much, if not more right now, than others are likely choosing to keep-away. It's all still pretty confusing where my relationship with others, and with myself still, are concerned.
But I digress now already likely too long to keep any reader glued to my words. I'm here to reflect on a virtual mentor, Michele Rosenthal's advice:
"We need to take a break from trauma work from time-to-time."
Serendipity may be on my side a bit. When I was in Vancouver in November 2013 for EMDR Treatment, the therapist working with me suggested that I open back up to doing some things that can act to distract. She suggested doing things that are uniquely joyful for me to do. Her skills, obvious-compassion, and sincere empathy, drew me in to trust this seeming Shaman that had been handed to me as though I'd received a gift from God.
I was taken with her too, because I admired her so much: I've always wanted to go to University. I let that opportunity slip away on me years ago. The therapist I saw is in Vancouver only for a time as she completes her Doctorate-which I admire with great esteem.
I think I might have found a way to gift myself with the joy of University level course-work, and so far, it looks like I can do that. The 'uniquely for me' joyful experience that's always fueled my fire, is the opportunity to learn about something new, or, best bet, to expand my understanding of that which interests me most.
Although I'm finding the work challenging, I've taken up a relationship online with Coursera. I've been watching now for some time as the platform expands. When Coursera first showed up as a platform for online open courses, the focus was pretty fixed on computer science, for the most part.
I don't mind playing with computers. In fact, I've tried setting myself to do some sales, support, and repair work with these beasts. I'm not, however, that much interested in computer science itself, so what Coursera had to offer when it first fired up, wasn't drawing me in to give them a try.
When I came back home from Vancouver, I took another peek Coursera's beckoning way.
Much to my joyful surprise, voila, there are now a number of courses here that I do find attractive.
I've no real idea why, but the subject of philosophy has intrigued me for years. I'm told I am a deep-thinker. Which I guess is true. It's hard to be with my own thoughts right now, with this PTSD 'shit' so active still. But I can admit in my past to being constantly on the look-out for anything that might charge me up and allow me to think-seeking solutions-improvement-or change to something is perhaps an innate bit of who I am at my core.
I am needing something to take me off myself and the trauma stuff, as you can tell. I'm told by the Vancouver therapist who saw me, that my case, if she could continue working with me, for her and I would be a three year, at minimum, project. There's only so much money going around and I've run out of options in terms of paying for therapy like that, for that long. I found EMDR helpful enough, with the 10 treatments I did get, that my mind is opening up to chase some online courses for awhile.
While I'd love to return to school by actually taking the plunge into a place like Thompson Rivers University online, for me it's not making much sense to consider taking on anything like a student loan. Another blessing for me turning to Coursera is: I can hand-pick whatever I want to learn about, and to audit courses on Coursera still, one can do completely for free.
So far? So good. I'm signed up and enjoying the first Philosophy Course I've ever taken, Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through 3 Dialogues by Plato.
Like a kid might do, bringing homework to Mom to put up on the fridge to mark some sort of success, I'm putting a bit of my homework here on the blog with this piece now to do the same.
Yeah, okay. It's on the list of that which needs some inner-repair.
It's still hard feeling good about myself with this mess in my way. I can accept the illnesses (PTSD/Depression/Addiction) as something that came at me out of my own control, since returning home from those too-few treatments.
Success? I've no idea anymore, what it is I'd ever wish to be successful at, frankly.
No worries. The challenge put upon me as a student, studying this week, was to discuss the value, or lack there-of, of advice columns.
You know the ones. We ask: "Dear, __________ (fill in the blank). Put out there something we want guidance with. The columnist, or some ghost-pen, scribes a response, we take the advice (or ignore it and move on). From there, according to warped-theory, we're living all happily-ever-after after "Dear" Whomever, took the time to straighten us out.
I've often wondered why anyone would choose to seek serious advice from a syndicated columnist, but this certainly is what many of us choose to do. A simple search in Google, 'advice columns', generated just now 156, 000,000 potential guardian-angel pages, willing to answer any question one may need to propose.
A quick glance at a few of these pages finds most advice-seekers asking for help with the 'others' in their lives. Given my focus right now on the reality of losing people in my own life due to this condition, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised-but I am that so many are doing this advice-giving chore.
It seems I'm not alone with this 'others-problem' thing I have running right now inside my head and crumbling heart.
I'm pretty sure, however, that the therapist I found is the true wisdom-provider I've come across lately. Especially now having read through some of the issues people are writing into these apparent gurus, 156, 000,000 strong.
Some of the questions for advice online, made me raise an eyebrow-good god. I'm now resorting to this? Reading other's nonsense? Why? So maybe my own troubles don't seem so big, or, perhaps so small as what others are going through?
Here's a few of the queries brought to a couple of the Dear, so-and-so oracles, spilling out so much sanctimonious drivel in response:
"Dear Abby: Does playing with my boyfriends ear in public, REALLY make people uncomfortable?"
"Dear Ellie: My boyfriend is afraid to grow, brushing off my important discussions. Do I just accept his nature? Am I too critical and expecting too much?"
"Dear E. Jean: I'm in love with two guys. How do I choose?" **
Granted, this is a limited sample. Others ask about Daddy; Mommy; The Boss. In another, a young gal was asking why she was so uncomfortable with her man when he: 'talked with her about enjoying sex with her best friend'.
Kind-of a no-brainer, yes?
Interesting reading. For the throne-room, I suppose.
Given the numbers in the Google search, offering freelance advice looks like it might be a pretty good gig though, for this out-of-options, career-change-seeking, used-up-and-thrown-away, once-upon-a-time-paramedic.
Maybe it's time to hang out my shingle: 'Ask, Joshua'!? (Not my real name, for the record).
Of course, a fellow will need some practice. So, off to Facebook to get some questions from the unsuspecting on my friends list. Maybe that's why I've lost friends. Have I maybe left other people feeling like I consider them guinea-pigs in other ways?
I digress again. Maybe part of my problem is ADHD?
"Oh, look, a bee."
No-That's not it.
Here goes! Wish me luck! Let's see if any of the friends respond.
. . . . . . . . . .
It didn't take, too-long. Only twenty-two minutes, for the first question. There were more. I'll rest on one. The best-of-the best of my friends, personal dilemmas:
Question: "Dear, Joshua: My elderly aunt exposed herself to a cop to get out of a fine. Even though her tactic worked for her, I'm worried. Should I let her son in on her behaviour? Concerned!"
Answer: "Dear, Concerned: Your worry for your aunt is definitely warranted, given her age. If this is out of character for her, there may well be a brain issue for the family to contend with. You'll rest better having filled the son in on your concerns. He'll appreciate your concern and if this was simply a matter of Auntie needing a bit of a thrill? At her age? Celebrate! She's still in the erogenous game!"
This is easy! Maybe I will hang that shingle.
I do, though, need something more to guide me. Thus the homework given us in the course: To review philosopher's positions on ways to approach arguments (not fights-using reason-to achieve persuasion).
This is a single question and answer session I've tried here today. It's a good enough example if I'm not seriously considering being an advisory-soul. But I answered that one off-the-cuff. So perhaps it's a gift? Doubtful, I say.
If I'm hanging a damn shingle out, I'd better find some way to at least come-off as somewhat the wise intellectual.
What if, I turn towards philosophical principles for help? (I'm starting to think already this course is as much about learning how to find stuff online).
After all, this is provision of wisdom I've thrown my hat into the ring to perform, should that shingle go up tomorrow-next week-next month-or, whenever. The likes of Socrates could assist me in this profound responsibility perhaps.
(Naive, philosophical green-horn, Socrates might say).
So, I go to the works of Plato, as introduced in this lovely first course I'm challenging myself with. I read through Euthyphro and Meno. I've now stumbled around for a time with Republic. Frankly, this avenue of turning to the one who says he knows nothing, but he does, obviously, is proving rather fruitless in my quest.
All across those heavy-to-read pieces of philosophy seem still much too-complicated-for- application bits and Platonic bites for anyone to use towards providing (as some columnist) what will always likely be only very simple advice to some rather ridiculous, 'first-world' questions, posing as problems.
Google? This path, paid off, immediately.
An article in Mail Online, written by the editor of The Philosopher's Magazine, Julian Baggini in 2010, provided the information required to start my work. It was like picking a perfect apple off-of a magical apple-tree. (Without the eviction from paradise, no less).
The article, titled, Ten of the Greatest: Philosophical Principles, provided ten, full-out strategies for espousing wisdom in this philosophical exchange I hope my shingle-hanging will grant me-an opportunity to espouse wisdom too (I say, tongue-in-cheek to less expose my true nature of arrogance).
To certain questions, I'll try filtering them through these thoughts to drum-out-of-me, the most-wise, philosophical-answers, maybe:
Occam's Razor (William of Ocham, 1288-1348): Finally, a principle of 'economy of explanation'. 'With all other things being equal . . . a simpler explanation is more likely to be true than a complicated one'.
Receive a question? Grant, as they all do, a very simple answer. One size, does fit all.
The downside of relying on Occam's Razor for advice-guidance will be the depth of the questions those asking bring to my wisdom-seat. A second experimental question one of my 'friends' proposed was asking Me to tell Her what she should do with a blow-hard administrator who was discriminating against her 'friends' disabled child in public school.
"I'm a simple advice columnist!", I told her. "I'm not a lawyer! You may wish to find yourself, perhaps, one of those more wise, and learned humans."
Funny thing? She abandoned me at that point. Must be lawyer bound? Sure hope that works out. Otherwise, I'm gonna lose much credibility as an adviser right out of the gate.
Note to self: "Be prepared in your new line of work for some rejection. You ain't always gonna have something to share that some others might need."
Sometimes, I've learned, not all questions in life, can be resolved with simple answers. Advice for deeper queries, may require Kant or Hume. Maybe my therapist.
Perhaps evenThe Holy Bilble, from time to time.
I'm still stuck in the mud of trauma. Part of the reason I want to study some courses is to maybe get my brain back into some form of intellectual gear. Thus, too, my draw, maybe, to philosophy: The purpose of which is to help me learn how to better think.
That's my work really right now still-to work a recovery as best I can. I know my thinking cap is askew.
So, thank you Michele Rosenthal: But the break's over for now.
Good thing too, because no shingle shall hang, given my testing online with my friends to maybe think about becoming an advice columnist.
All I got out of that is: "Joshua? (Not my real name). Don't quit your day job!"
So, back to recovery-mode . . .it is.
Thanks for stopping by . . . . .
Darren Michael Gregory (Wanna-Be-Writer-Most-of-All).
Note: As of today, August 19th, 2018 (four years later) I've completed over 50 courses using Coursera, Edx, and even YouTube has some. I can share confidently that because I love to learn new things, and because my own interests are quite broad, challenging myself with academic course-work has proven itself in supporting my recovery. For a paper I wrote for another course, Learning How To Learn:
Follow this link to the paper on Academia.Edu: Learning & PTSD: A Personal Reflection
**Google: 2014. (https://www.google.ca/#q=advice+columns).
*Julian Baggini: Ten of the Greatest: Philisophical Principles: Mail Online: 2010. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1279320/Ten-greatest-Philosophical-principles.html).
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: 2014. (http://plato.stanford.edu/index.html)
For Our Soldiers . . .Be Well!
Certified: Community & Workplace Trauma Educator Traumatology Institute.
Associate Member American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress.