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Endings and Finders (TW: SUICIDE)

On Jan. 6th, Ruth Graham (twitter @publicroad) tweeted in reponse to Charlie Camosy (twitter @ccamosy), an ardent Catholic and opponent to assisted suicide. This week brings a post in Aeon, What would you choose for a good death? postulates that a business opportunity might lie in helping people to die: consider a trendy boutique called Designer Endings, which will help you to stage your death event just like one might plan a wedding, and with a similar blizzard of options: a small event in the home with just a few friends and a quick transition, or a major event on a beach where the client feels a euphoric glow for hours before transpiring. The article talks about Capitalism having a penchant for making a business out of what was once free; why is dying free? Can't we offer an enhanced experience for those able to afford it? Can we bundle the dying with the funeral? I myself have considered a semi-assisted suicide startup. One problem with suicide is that, generally, somebody…

Picking and Sorting

Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation & prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us & which parts we've created to protect us.— Alexander Leon (@alexand_erleon) January 7, 2020

My Zombie's Lament

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You have trauma, said the fortune cookie
You may never get past it,
especially at your age (62) I am fortunate to have good helpers.
Each one a specialist, each working their zone.
They treat the parts, not the whole
Depression gets Cymbalta
Anxiety gets Klonopin
Mild Psychosis gets Keppra
I locked up memories and buried them deep.
Eventually they surfaced,
like rocks in a farmer’s field,
like ordinance in Germany.
I could not allow myself to remember
I’d been raped by the priest
Nineteen times, my Stations of the Cross.
Later, I could not allow myself to remember
I sought out men when I was young.
What a thing to lock away, to bury, to un-remember.
I wish it had stayed buried. The therapists open the boxes in your head
without knowing what’s in there;
Pandora’s Box without hope.
I’m not sure it’s ethical.
Thirty-five years ago,
blissfully compartmentalized,
I married a girl.
Three years ago,
the memories burst out with
explosive surprises.
I don’t know what to do with now-me.
I’m living t…

My 2019 Christmas Card Letter

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I retired eight years ago on my 54th birthday, and I'm about to turn 62. May I tell you a story? It's the most compelling story I have. When I was 56 I started therapy. I got fired by several therapists which is kind of funny. Therapists and members of the healing community are very gentle when they discard you. Finally I found an effective match - a gestalt practitioner who told me I had suppressed memories and scary things locked away in little boxes deep in my head. He was right. When I was 58 I realized: I'd been beaten violently through my tender young years. I'd been raped repeatedly over the course of three years by a priest. And from that trauma I formed behaviors that tended to protect me, which were effective in the short term but it turns out, aren't very effective in the long term. I have two blog posts describing it -- but it's all just grim details. None of this is unique; the classic path of an abused kid is hypervigilance, initiative, protec…

Nictophobia: on Not Committing Suicide (subtitles)

From The Altantic, a French artist's explanation of his mental health, his experience with the mental health system, and a St. Ex story that forestalls his suicide, one day at a time:
This resonates with me. I am also continuing to the next big rock. References:
The Instinct to Heal, by David Servan-Schrieber (who founded UPMC's Centre for Integrative Medicine in Pittsburgh ) Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine St. Exupury

Exploring Bisexuality in a Hetero Marriage

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Amanda Kohr, who is @AmandaInADress on twitter, has written one of the few articles I've seen that speak to my predicament: How to Explore Your Queerness When You Have a Straight Partner. I am grateful to see it in print. She specifically explores coming out as bisexual in a straight marriage. This is a big issue in my contemporary life. It is bigger I think than my traumas. It is certainly more immediate.When I was 26, and repressing a lot of memories, I asked a girl to marry me. We lived a cis-het life for 35 years. Because I was angry a lot we went to counseling. I got tossed out of counseling and urged to find a gestalt counselor, which I did. And I did a year of EMDR. They asked me a few questions and when I was 58 years old it all came tumbling out: gay experiences up to the age of 22, which I had repressed and stuffed down deep in a compartment and for a long time I did not remember them. There's more, and this brings up a question that offends many: between the ages…

Suicide Advice (Don't!) from a Good Friend

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I met a good friend for coffee. It had been quite a while since we met and I was happy to see him. We talked about this and that, about old friends and how they've fared, and then we talked about Me and My Issues over the last years. He asked: you were never suicidal, were you? And I said, Oh yeah. Not as persistently this year as last year. But I still have suicidal thoughts, maybe two days a week. I told him: I expect I'll always be suicidal, the way some folks are always alcoholic. I think I surprised him. He valiantly tried to show me the error of my thinking, and particularly by describing the damage my suicide would inflict on my children. So it's guilt, I asked? I'm in jail and I have to stay here because of my kids?
I tried to explain: suicide is about making the pain go away. I have pain that stays with me, that travels with me, that daily reminds me of our pairing. I could film a buddy move with my pain. I have pain that doesn't go away, that makes…

Monsters, Misfits, and Drag Queen Reading Hours

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I recently finished Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power. Excellent book. The first two-thirds is a thorough review of historical monster-making in the service of patriarchy, and the finish is a call to arms. What is a Monster? In movies we see The Thing, or the Werewolf, or Dracula. In Frankenstein it's pretty clear that the begotten creature is a monster, but it's ambiguous as to whether the Dr. is also a monster. A monster is often a type of grotesque creature, whose appearance frightens and whose existence threatens the human world's social or moral order. A monster can also be like a human; they are commonly portrayed as the lowest class, as mutants, deformed, supernatural, and otherworldly. And so deformed children were once (and perhaps still are) monsters. But the Unicorn Puppy born with a tail on it's forehead is so cute, and doesn't threaten our notion of dogs, so they're good to stay. Animal monste…

Physical Health vs Mental Health: facilities and budgets

I had the occasion to spend two days in a Brooklyn, NY emergency room with my daughter who had mono. Then she spent a few days on a hospital ward. I was very impressed at the quality of care. Various doctors, each with different specialties, came and checked her out and ordered lab tests within their expertise. Two ER physicians, a cardiologist, an epidemiologist, etc. Although the shifts and names changed, they were always checking my adult daughter (24yo) out. I was apprehensive at being in an emergency room on a Friday night. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, ERs were dangerous places to be. People got stabbed in ER waiting rooms. Patients got into conflict with each other. This was a completely different experience. People were civil. One man, sitting with a patient, got into a loud badgering argument with the patient he was supposed to be supporting. Staff took him out of there. It was crowded with beds and patients filling every space. But it went just like it was supposed to.…