Welcome and much peace to you!
I have come to this blog, out of the need to document my personal history of hypersensitivity and overwhelm; informed by the process of quitting a well-paying job and making my way out of urban mainstream North American culture to something more sane and organic. I am desperate for honest and inclusive dialogue around our present reality. So, in October 2013, after a year of contemplation and distress, I jumped off the cliff and into unknown waters to begin the journey of finding my way back to Mother Nature, community and the things that really matter to life here on Turtle Island. I can now definitively say that for me, this IS the road back to sanity! Terrifying at times, yet entirely life affirming as well.
What is written here is my practice of peace – but I warn you! It may not strike you as all that peaceful at times! I have discovered that in order to access peace within myself, I must write my way through my own hypocrisy and complicity and through strong thoughts, opinions and emotions about myself and the mainstream society we’ve accepted. I am interested in dialogue in the spirit of peace, however I am not interested in academic debate where there is a right and a wrong. One of the many reasons that I am writing this blog is because people like me are not given the chance to speak for ourselves very often. We are excluded from the ‘professional carers’ table. So we get spoken for a lot by people who cannot possibly fully understand us or the context of our experience. For me, this reflects life in a competitive and capitalist culture – one in which ego and power hierarchy often trump empathy and integrity. That is a big part of what I’m happily leaving behind.
These posts document my particular experience with a hypersensitive nervous system, overwhelm and human diversity – and how that informs my perception of my life, community and the world. They are, in part, an exploration of the notion that the ‘personal is political’ and document how living in a rapidly descending global fascist world has affected me, my health and how I choose to parent. They are MY experiences and I don’t claim to speak for anyone else but myself. Mostly, I am full of questions for your consideration and hopefully, a respectful dialogue…
I find the process of writing is akin to composting. Laying out everything in words – the layers of distress, despair, trauma, drama, extreme states, half-truths, denials, lies and suffering in my life become sentences that build upon each other into understandings of my experience. Writing these words with honesty and authenticity allows me to come out the other end with fertile soil, by which I can decide how to grow, create and contribute.
I have lived much of my life in paralysis and fury around the learned helplessness that I was first taught and that was then reinforced through mainstream media and politics throughout my life. Having been diagnosed on several occasions with ‘mental illness’, I reject this medical paradigm – coming from a society that makes people vulnerable, blames them for this vulnerability and then profits from it. I now know from experience that to work and live in mainstream culture requires at least a minimal amount of denial – letting go of important personal values and being complicit in an oppressive colonial culture. I also know that in this sickness to strip the earth bare for money, it is not always easy to be kind or have empathy – in fact this can make you very vulnerable. And wanting peace, honesty and transparency can get you in a lot of trouble on so many different levels – particularly in corporate and institutionalized academic or government jobs.
“Capitalism is my ‘mental illness’” is my experience, questions and commentary on my considerable ethical distress trying to fit into mainstream culture, and the profound need to reconsider my life choices based on my inability to do so.
I stopped believing in world peace by the time I was 6 years old or so. Peace started out in my soul and by extension, my mother’s garden, yet as I grew up witnessing unbelievable brutality on cable TV, I came to quickly realize that ‘peace’ didn’t really mean anything at all. In fact, in it’s corrupted state, it meant about as much to me as the word itself on a bumper sticker.
That said, for me, peace is now a practice that involves working out 35 or so odd years of confusion, anger and grief around WHY peace and equality are so hard to work out. For me, the fact that we have collectively made greed respectable is the obvious answer. This requires a serious reconsideration. I have finally hit the wall in my complicity and participation in this dominant, destructive and money-centric culture. Yet I HAVE been complicit aided by my white privilege and this is something I continue to unpack and educate myself around.
In this section of the blog, I document my ongoing experiences with less is more – that is, living on 1/3 of the money that I had previously, and this road back to sanity in choosing voluntary simplicity. For the first time in years, I am using my skills again to actually contribute to creating community! My intention is to live with integrity while building a foundational practice of real peace.
I now understand my life experience and perception as having been characterized through the vibration of a hypersensitive, easily overwhelmed nervous system. I have always been overwhelmed by sound, light, and touch, and most particularly, the energy of people in large groups – ranging from shopping malls to festivals to demonstrations. This overwhelm affects me on all levels and in my later years has collected itself as chronic physical pain and mental, emotional and ethical distress. While mental health professionals may characterize this experience as psychological, and put it in a diagnostic box, I experience it as cumulative and negative sensory experiences trapped in my body. After many years of trying to heal through psychiatry and meds, I gave that up and began working with my body. This was when everything began to change and I began to heal. Psychiatric medication robbed me of the capacity to express my gifts, it paralyzed me and it almost killed me. Mindfulness, nature, meditation, breath work and yoga are now my ‘treatments’ and my lifesavers.
On a social and environmental level, this high sensitivity manifests itself in distress about what lies ahead. We have created so many things that could destroy us, that ARE already causing untold suffering and destruction to millions of people in so many of the poorest areas on the planet. I am a mother, a protector of my child and the future for all here on Mother Earth. I feel deeply the day-to-day suffering, chaos and death that economic inequality and environmental rape and murder creates and I have been paralyzed by this overwhelming reality of helplessness all of my life.
In this section of the blog, I describe my experiences with this hypersensitivity and overwhelm, and I explore this experience from the alternative perspective of human diversity. In the same way that biodiversity is necessary for the healthy functioning of the plant world, allowing people to be different and express their differences is necessary for the health of the human world. I believe that we ALL have something to contribute, there simply needs to be empathy, understanding and space cleared at the table for those of us who are different.
6 months after quitting the mainstream, educating and informing myself, and connecting with others on a similar path, I have decided that rather than hiding my weaknesses, I will put them out there. Ultimately, I think vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. It takes a massive amount of strength to show your soft spots, especially in our current society. In fact, I think about it as a radical act of standing up to my (well grounded) fears. Because the fact is, we are ALL vulnerable in one way or another. The courageous display of vulnerability opens the door for other people’s stories and before you know it, you are creating community based on tenderness and care! This is what I try to do in my life everyday as part of my peace practice.
After 6 months of purging, writing over 70 000 words to various people, in blogs and journals and letters and long stories, I am ready to try something new. Thank goodness! This is it. These short stories are based on sensory snapshots of memory and tell of relations between people, nature, moods, qualities, and inanimate objects. They are an experiment in my ever evolving desire to record my personal landscapes.
My son T, who is my gravity and moves me everyday to be a kinder, more peaceful person, inspires everything I do, including this blog. He is a patient teacher and collaborator, a wise and honest advisor, and the best IT support a technophobe like me could hope for!