Thursday, February 29, 2024

My Journey is Long

 I like a good crime documentary. It seems consistent with my delight with murder mystery novels. So, last night I chose to watch a documentary series called, I Killed My Father. The killer is 17-year-old Anthony. In his 911 call to the police, he reports himself as the killer. 

I’m not writing to recommend this film as entertainment, I’m writing about it because of how the story of the building of Anthony’s defence affected me. Spoiler alert. Skip to the next dot if you want to watch the series. It’s short. 

In the end, he pleads guilty to negligent manslaughter, and he’s sentenced to 3 years of probation. Further, if he complies with the terms of his probation, he will a right to have his charges expunged. It’s a very happy ending for a young man who puts two bullets into his father. And it’s a chilly tale that unfolds to bring the authorities to sympathy with Anthony.

He was neglected, uneducated and kept by a father who was disturbingly controlling. When a forensic psychologist was hired by Anthony’s defence attorney—his defence attorney was raised by an abusive father and provided Anthony with his services pro bono—who quickly becomes Anthony’s advocate.

The irony is this: The father had 17 video cameras in the home, and he had a GPS tracking device on Anthony’s phone. Plus, he supervised his phone calls. But, to the psychologist, regardless of all this intense supervision, Anthony was a neglected child. 

It took six months of consultation for Dr. S. to diagnose me. Not long after that, I wondered: Is the abuse my problem, or the remembering of it?

Watching that movie last night, was another nudge of growth. That’s what I call every experience when something forces me to think about that part of my life, and I feel intense sorrow. Last night’s movie was provocative because of the constant referencing to neglect and abuse.

Another aspect of the case is that this horribly abusive husband and child lived invisibly in their neighbourhood. His criminal controlling was invisible to everyone. Meanwhile, in a neighbouring state, a mother is posting Missing Child posters everywhere.

To me this movie is about “abuse without bruises.” That’s what neglect was to me. My dad would use the flat of his hand, not his fist. I’d have red welts for a while, but they’d look fine in the morning. One day when I was a late teenager and he was chasing me around the house, I went down into the basement. I turned left at the bottom of the stairs into the furnace room, and stopped where I could see whether my father followed me, or if he went the other way round to come at me from the other direction. There was a circular path through our basement. He went hard left, toward the back door, so I bolted for the stairs.

I was always such a chicken. I always cowered. But this time, when I got to the top of the stairs, the door was stuck, and he caught up to me. I turned to face him this time, instead of cowering, and I asked him to use his fist so his abuse would show, and I could prove how little they cared about me to everyone who saw me.

He didn’t hit me, and he never hit me, or chased me, or chastised me again. Perhaps he knew that I’d fight back forever from then on.

I never felt anything for them. They always felt far away. I watched them; I wasn’t part of them, but it didn’t hurt. I’ve written here often that I’m relentlessly content. I am not at all prone to sadness or loneliness. Pets have died; Steve left me; I had AIDS; those were the big sads of my life. But through everything, I carried on, and that’s what we both did, but we were further apart than ever.

My last take-away with Dr. S. is this: I have just begun the journal of emotionally reacting to this neglect. More than anything, when my breakdown occurred and I was having up to 20 seizures a day, I wanted to know what was wrong, but the diagnosis wasn’t what I wanted to know about, it was the cause of my condition. That was the start of a journey, with Dr. S. at my side, to go through the experience of understanding what happened to me. 

I always knew I was adopted. I didn’t know what it meant until I was 5 years old. I wasn’t concerned about the revelation at all. But this word, “neglect,’ is hurting me. It’s causing me great pain to discover this about myself, as you might if you heard about an abused son, nephew, or best friend’s son. That’s another word that hurts. Abused. Fuck.

Adopted. Gay. PWA (person with aids), and now neglected and abused. So many things about me have been challenging. Considering the odds, I grew up to be satisfactorily functioning and a happy person. But this abuse/neglect thing has felled me, and my sense of my conversation with Dr. S. is this: I’m in for a bumpy ride. The process of adaptation was mechanical. This process of coming to terms with the cause of my diagnoses is very emotional and will be ongoing for an indeterminate amount of time.

I’m sticking with her. She’s free, she’s good, and I do my homework. Why complain?

Thank you, Sharon Dawn, for your notes and kindness. I don't know how to answer a comment on my blog, so this note of thanks is the best way for me to acknowledge your thoughtfulness. Best, best wishes, Chris.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Stickin' With Dr. S.

From the Unexpected news Department: I got an email from a friend in our fitness group saying, “I went for coffee after exercises with some of the girls.  Romela keeps donkeys and goats, bees and geese. Darcy, the dancer was an OR nurse at VGH, and Belinda worked at the Post Office.  Two of them have a crush on you.  They think you are the image of Bruce Willis.  I didn’t want to spoil your cover.  So, there you go. You have a fan club.”

NASA posted an illustration of Pluto’s orbital timeline. The entire history of the United States has unfolded in the time it’s taken Pluto to orbit the Sun once.

Yesterday began under brilliant blue skies, but by 11:00, when I had my Zoom session with Dr. Shoja, it had clouded over in thin clouds, and soon thereafter, light snow started to fall. It went on for hours, but no snow stayed on the ground. Late in the day, the snow turned to rain and through the night it warmed up and rained hard.

I told Dr. Shoja that I was thinking that yesterday’s session would be my last for a while, and her response was diplomatic. “I’m here to help whenever you need me, and it’s your choice as to when and how often you wish to see me,” she said. She said more, but I can’t recall what she said. However, it was clear to me that she felt that we should keep talking.

I was a mess in our meeting. It was extremely difficult to speak, and my shaking, jerking and bobbing were in full force. She suggested that the deterioration in my condition is a function of my newfound understanding of my abuse, and that as I continue to process the implications of my diagnosis, I should stay in touch with her. I found myself eager and grateful for her advice, and I am sticking with my monthly sessions.

It still shocks me that I am someone who needs psychiatric care. I am still shocked at the destructive power of childhood neglect. And I am extremely grateful to our social network that provides so much care to me. CAYA and Dr. S. have made living with my symptoms easier for me.

Dr. S. was impressed by my return to fitness classes, and she was also very much in favour of my initiatives to be with people. (I told her I’d been having people over for dinners and about my strategies for socialization—like having no single visitors who exhaust me too quickly.)

I’m fine with this heavy rain. I’m happy to have a nice big warm fire and read and putter through the day. I have a meal to plan for Saturday and it must be vegetarian. It’s a dog walking day with my friends, but the rain may ruin that. Her Highness and I may walk alone.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Dave Barnhart: ❤️

As I readied myself to go to my fitness class yesterday morning, it tuned to Winter. The clear bright sky became overcast, and snow powered down turning everything white in seconds. It was blizzard-like as I walked to the car. It was so weird. All Sunday night, the sky was clear, and the large bright moon had the forest looking beautiful. There were moon shadows everywhere. And when I rose, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I could not believe the density of the snow falling. It was ridiculously thick, and because the night had chilled the earth, every flake stayed frozen on the ground. I was tempted to use the snow as an excuse not to go to fitness, but I decided to go anyway so that I could relax through the rest of the day without guilt. 

By the time I got to North Road, just a minute from my house, the sky was clear again and the snow had stopped. What a day! And as I drove home, there was no snow anywhere except on my deck. I was so glad to be home! I am thrilled with my commitment to the fitness classes, but nothing feels better than when the class is over. And coming home to the hot tub and soaking in glorious sunshine is a wonderful way to relax and recover. I had no plans for the rest of the day, and I was glad about that because soon I must get busy preparing for another dinner party. 

It stayed cool through the day, but the sunshine was spectacular. The sun drew me to action, but my body was sore from the fitness class, and I was tired all day for the same reason. However, we went for a third walk to be in the sunshine, and we both were glad for that.

I had to share this. I think it is an amazing take down of the religious right. It was written in June of 2018 as a Facebook post; it was written by Dave Barnhart, a Methodist pastor.

“The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

“Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”

When I was 6 or 7 years old, the Tyrells went to San Francisco and left me at home with a babysitter and a new toy. It was a polar bear. It was covered in white fur (probably rabbit), and it could be wound up, and the bear would walk and growl. That story is my oldest memory of joy. It is my first experience of intense happiness. A polar bear.  And now the great love of my life is a big white dog that walks and growls, and when she came to me, at eight weeks old, her name was Polar.

I understand ‘cranky’ or ‘ornery’ as a common descriptor of old men. 

I was on YouTube. I’d searched someone I searched an entertainer and I’d clicked on my choice which proved to be by a person from a show called Entertainment Tonight. The ET reporter was so entirely off-putting, I had to turn it off. Pondering her, I wondered how she can be so impossibly insipid.

I’ve mentioned here before that when I was in college, I wrote about common phrases as an exercise for my creative writing class that could be on any topic we wanted. One phrase was, Ignorance is Bliss. When I came across that phrase, my mind immediately went to this: Knowledge is Hell. That was a long time ago, but it could be my mantra.

I’m appalled that the collective intelligence of mankind is trumped by the hierarchy of power. I’m ashamed of our wars, our treatment of all those without, how we treat criminals, so many things. All I see everywhere, gives me reason to despair. Except in nature.

Knowledge is Hell.

And I get up every morning and go through the routine of every morning, not thinking about THE BIG PICTURE. I retired from working when I was 57. It was sudden. My retirement from the human race was a much longer process, but I have retired from everything. That’s all in my head, and no matter what happens in there, my soul is dancin’ from the minute I wake until I sleep again. 

My world is my pets and plants, and I occasionally see people, and always have fun when I do. 

Today, I see Dr. Shoja. I am ready. And then, I will take a break. I know I will see her again if I outlive Sheba and have to go through her death. I’m concerned about paralysis, because it is the worst symptom I can get, and the most dangerous. Her door is always open.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Only Photos

 I've absolutely nothing to report on. My head is empty and life is blissfully dull. I go to fitness today and then come back here to read and other little un-newsworthy things. While my flowers bloom, this morning there were some tiny snowflakes on the deck, but the sky was clear and bright. Cool air has returned. 

I'm having another dinner party on Saturday, so this week will be all about preparing for it.