Gaslighting is defined as “manipulating someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.”
Here is the truth. The last time I spoke to my father was on his death bed over Skype. A significant portion of my family was present for the reunion. At some point he asked me why I had never told him about Isadora. Aside from my mom I had never told anyone in my family that my father molested me. How could I answer him without exposing the truth? I didn’t tell my father about my daughter because I feared that he would, given the chance, do the same thing to her as he had done to me. I knew that even if I never left them alone together he could still do a tremendous amount of psychological damage. My father was very clear and very persistent when it came to his views on women. He was, in fact, relentless in his sexism. He steered most, if not all, of our conversations towards sex and the inferiority of women. He was often drunk. Often belligerent. Completely paranoid. And most of all dangerous. So I decided that it was better for me and better for Isadora if I cut him out of my life altogether. This was one of the best decisions I ever made but how could I say that to a room full of our closest relatives? Did I really want to expose the truth of my father on his deathbed? I finally answered “because it wasn’t safe.”. I didn’t elaborate even though he pressed me. Eventually he said “it was all in your imagination.” Referring to the things I didn’t say about our relationship and in that moment everyone in the room understood more or less why I had disappeared for such a long time.
My relatives had questions. My mom answered them honestly on my behalf and they believed her. One of my aunts came forward to say that he had raped her as well. By far the most difficult conversation of my life was the conversation I had with my father on his deathbed. Although he never admitted to the truth, he did, in the end expose himself.
I kept that secret from my family for 30 some years. My childhood was one of secrecy. I was told how to feel. How to believe. I was given a version of reality that didn’t match my own. My beliefs, my boundaries, my emotions, my well-being none of it mattered. As an adult I still question everything I think and feel. I question my motives. I accept other people’s version of events over my own. I question my worth on an almost daily basis. If I feel sick I question whether or not my illness is just a way of avoiding my responsibilities. If I am sad I question whether or not my sorrow is just a way of evoking sympathy or manipulating the situation. If I am angry I question whether or not I am being selfish and unreasonable. I even question my existence at times.
I believe that to make other people happy I have to subdue myself as much as possible because no one would love the truth of me. So for all of my life I have chosen to live in a kind of bizarre compromise. I am half-way myself. The half-way bit goes off like a bomb in mid sentence. You just never know when I am going to surface but when I do I am full of a lifetime’s worth of subdued emotions and forgotten dreams. I have learned how to endure a lot of things. Abuse. Neglect. Cruelty. Failure. Disappointment. Sorrow. Indolence. I have not learned how to endure Happiness. Love. Success. Unity. Reciprocity. Praise. Productivity. I have a sense that emotions aren’t really an act of endurance, that life really isn’t a contest of how much you can take before you break.
If you asked me what I wanted in life more than anything. I don’t know would probably be the most honest thing I could say because I have spent my life on the fence. I can’t tell which feelings and thoughts are mine, much less which thoughts and feelings are coming from fear and a desperate desire to run away from myself and anyone/anything that could touch upon the truth of me and which thoughts and feelings are coming from love and a need for expansion. Right now I am faced with the choice to move forward even at the expense of making a mistake, or acting with bad intentions, or misguided emotions, or from a place of fear/avoidance, or risking my comfort because what else can I do? I have spent my whole life hoping that the truth would be louder and more insistent than my doubts but if doubt is what I am conditioned to perceive than truth, whatever it might be, probably wouldn’t even stand out very much to me in the beginning. So mine is a quest for truth and in the process I might lie quite lot because I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t or maybe I do know but I just never learned to believe in myself.
I have a confession, I am my mother’s daughter. I have a terrible temper and a tendency to be flaky and unreliable. For me love is an addiction, an obsession, a have to have. I am dramatic and childish in the best and worst possible ways. I am generous to a fault. I am afraid of my ambition, of earning money, of losing myself in a life without passion. I lack confidence and self-esteem. I don’t recognize my value. I feel guilty for everything and that makes me really hard to talk to. I cry easily and often and I don’t know if I am being manipulative or if I am just feeling vulnerable. I try to save people even at the expense of my own personal safety and well-being. I am hysterical. Open. Playful. Unstable. Innocent. I worry too much. I am aggressively protective. I can’t stand to see other people suffer, particularly children and animals. I am wise beyond my years. I am my mother’s counselor and also her mother. I am empathetic. I am my own worst nightmare. I complicate everything. I am gullible and adorable. I am competitive but I never win. I know what you want before you do. If you ask me a question I will bare my soul but I will never answer your question because I don’t know what I think or feel or who I am deep down. I accept everything, even the contradictions. I am psychopomp and a psychic. I exist more in dreams than in reality.
I am my father’s daughter. From him I learned that my value comes from outside of myself. Men are the ones who assign value and meaning to my life. My survival depends on my ability to accommodate and please my partner. I can’t live on my own. I am an object. I am fragile. I am defiant. I am an anarchist. I abhor mediocrity. I am paranoid and pessimistic and sometimes I compensate for feelings of unworthiness with excessive pride. I am a crippled genius. I am an unlocker of doors some of which ought to remain closed. I am an instigator. A Devil’s advocate. I will bring out the best and the worst in you. I am a recluse desperate for attention. I am possessive and jealous. I run wild. I like mysteries. I solve people like puzzles. I look in dark places. I am voracious and relentless. I am timid. I am a monster slayer. I am also a monster. I continue to gaslight myself and second guess all my choices. I am a failure. Not because of the mistakes I have made but because I give up before I even begin. Humiliation is the worst of all feelings. I am as big as a universe and as small as a seed. I have demon blood. I am more animal than man. I have an inferiorly complex as deep as the ocean. I am bottomless. I am terrified all the time. I don’t know how to be happy. I have an intensity which others find both alarming and alluring. I am both asexual and hyper-sexual and that’s probably a result of repeated sexual abuse which is to say I don’t know the true state of my sexuality. I am always fighting against myself, society, the man. For me surrender is synonymous with death. I am a revolutionary without a cause. I am a window painted over and nailed shut. I am black and white. I can smell blood in the water. I know your weaknesses. I see your strengths. My words are like razors. I am loved but I don’t know it. I make excuses. I brag. I have seen too much. I am scarred all the way through. I see man for what he is both good and bad. I don’t care if our beliefs differ. I am a drowning man. I have a head full of stories. I don’t know how to speak to people out loud. I say the wrong things. I am impulsive. I don’t hit children. I think animals are better people than people are.
It has been a while since I have had reason to live and it is getting harder and harder to come back from the Depressions. A lot of what I wanted to do in this life I have done. Some of my goals are quite small and not really the kind of goals that get one out of bed in the morning. Some goals are beyond me. Like getting married again. Finding employment. Believe me I have tried but I have lost hope. I need something big enough to motivate me, small enough not to crush me, close enough not to exhaust me because I am beyond exhausted. My test results reveal again that I have antibodies against my thyroid which is the sort of thing you monitor but don’t treat. So there is no reason why I feel so bad physically. I feel really bad but it is almost certainly sadness and stress and I don’t know how to stop being sad or stressed. I can tell you after the endoscopy I won’t be going back to another doctor in my lifetime. Depression apparently makes you immune to everything and immortal, so no need. There is no one who needs me. Maybe I would be missed but as I learned after the divorce that is a temporary thing. A few months max and anyway my ex and my daughter have already missed me so they are passed that now. I used to live because I saw good things in other people’s lives and in the world but it is like everything is bad all around. I know my Depression is normal and it’s not so big it needs treatment but it is hard for me anyway. I know all people are sad all the time because doctors have told me that, so sad is just the base human feeling. I don’t know why I have a hard time getting use to that.
About a week ago I developed acid reflux. Not the sort that lasts a few hours and then settles down. The sort that lasts 24 hours. The sort that involves coughing up stomach acid and talking like Marge Simpson. The sort that keeps you up at night clutching your chest and choking. This of course was on top of my 20 kg weight loss (in the last year). The last thing I needed was something that would make it difficult to eat when I am experiencing unexplained weight-loss. I had planned to wait until I returned to Sweden to investigate the cause of my weight loss but then the acid reflux started and my pain tolerance is not high enough to cope with 24 hours of the worst acid reflux I have ever had. So I called the doctor and they made an appointment same day through the emergency room. Good news I am not bleeding internally! Funny news they could not get my records from Sweden so I ended up receiving a pregnancy test. I do not have a uterus and I am not having sex so it might not come as a surprise that I am not pregnant. She tested for other things like thyroid disease, Celiac disease, cancer, infections etc. I do not know the results yet. I will also have to have an endoscopy to see why I have suddenly developed acid reflux. I have been given a medicine for that which is starting to help. I have a fear that it is all stress-related. That somehow I am stressing myself into a state of starvation. Like somehow I use so much energy on stress that my body decided to consume itself. Anyhow she was concerned about the weight-loss. I came home from the doctor and immediately developed a cold. When I was in the office, no cold symptoms. I came home and BAM a full blown cold with lots and lots and lots sneezing and nose blowing. I did not want this either because it means more coughing and restrictions. I had been going out during the days to buy little extra food items from the store to supplement because of the weight-loss. Usually Lukas shops and he eats things like lentils, cabbage, spelt, oranges which are good things but they are not cutting it calorie-wise right now. I also feel silly about complaining about weight-loss. I have struggled with weight-loss in the past. I have wanted to lose weight in the past. Lukas thinks protruding bones are beautiful and to be honest I think society agrees with him. So if I say to someone I am losing weight fast and I am now underweight lots of people think it is fantastic news. Every time I have ever been underweight as an adult I have been sick constantly. Is that what healthy should feel like weakness, illness, fatigue, poor mental health? In 13 degree Celsius weather I need a wool jumper and a wool jacket and gloves. Is that what other people feel every day all the time?
For me Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie is my Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts. For those of you familiar with the 90s computer game Planescape Torment this reference might mean something, for the rest of you it probably won’t make much sense so let me explain. The word brothel is misleading. It might be more accurate to call it a philosophical school, poetry being what it is to the soul. For me it is a sanctuary, a place to expand the mind and heart, to explore the sensual, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual realms, a place where inspiration and creativity combine with freedom of expression. It is a place where people can be themselves and form meaningful connections with others through the artistic medium of their choice, at least, I hope it is that kind of place. When I first started MLMM I never imagined that so many people would come together to assist…
It has been a long time, particularly since I have updated Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. As some of you know my life has undergone some pretty significant changes within the last few years. Divorce. Relocation (most recently to Norway for the summer which has been very good for me). Reinvention. New Relationship (we live together). A long-lasting version of Covid. A series of mental breakdowns (involving self-harm). Recently I have been struggling with my weight on top of that. Since January I have lost about 10 kg or 20 lbs. It should be said that I wasn’t overweight when I started to lose the weight. At first I was pretty excited but now I am starting to get a little nervous. I am about 49 kg which is under my personal ideal. BMI 18.8 so still in the acceptable range albeit on the edge. But now I am having massive stomach problems which I do not think is going to help the situation. Usually I lose weight very slowly so for me this weight-loss feels quite rapid. Anyhow that’s not really what I came here to discuss. All of this taken together has really made me look inside of myself. I need to have a goal, a personal goal. Right now my focuses are: joy, freedom, connection/experience, creativity, and “home”. I watched a really good talk lately and I will share the video below. Watch it, I don’t think you will regret it. Actually I have seen a lot of good videos so if you are looking for some good (mostly Eastern wisdom) spiritual talks I have suggestions! I want to create something new. I would like to hand over my beautiful and beloved Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie and start a new project (alternatively if everyone on the team is amenable we could brainstorm ideas to reinvent MLMM) because I need to build something from scratch because I need a new beginning since all these other changes have changed me in someway that I cannot quite articulate. Maybe a magazine. I just know poetry, inspiration, freedom of expression, short stories and spirituality will almost certainly be involved. Maybe divination and adventures (I have been going on a lot of those lately actually). If you have ideas or an interest in taking over at MLMM let me know as soon as possible. Some of you are probably thinking that I have started a number of things and not completed them and you would be absolutely correct. I have started and stopped more projects than I can name. I am not exactly consistent but recently I have learned some things about myself that I had put off knowing for a number of years (as in a lifetime) which I hope will move me forward for once. If not well it could be an interesting distraction or learning experience or another fabulous failure. Who knows??? Who really knows. I just know that I want to write. I need to write. But I need some fresh inspiration. I have noticed my last works have been repetitious, certain phrases keep coming to mind. I can’t stop writing once I start but I am not really writing in a direct way, in an honest way. I don’t know how to explain it but I feel I am dancing around the topic a bit or tiptoeing around some sensitive area or toxic belief that I can’t quite bring myself to touch. Anyway I will get back to you when I know more. I feel I should not rush myself as before but try to go about things in an inspired but disciplined and methodical way. I need to really work towards something for the sake of my sanity. Btw I am still keeping this blog because I have had it for years even if I have come and gone many times.
If the video doesn’t work check After School on Youtube: How to keep your heart open in hell- Ram Dass
About 2 months ago I decided to try the no shampoo approach (I absolutely do not recommend it, the dangers are grossly understated). Before going the no shampoo route I was washing my hair every 7-10 days. My hair produced very little by way of natural oils originally. It never smelled. It always felt clean. I have coarse, plentiful, wavy/curly hair. For every hair follicle I have 2 to 4 hairs so I just have a lot of hair. I was using organic products, no sulfate blah blah but it was getting super expensive. Anyhow since I started my hair has started to produce some mysterious substance. It is a very solid fat, it is not oil. This fat is not well distributed through the hair and I cannot get it evenly distributed brushing, combing, massaging, ignoring nothing works. This substance collects massive amounts of dirt and so my hair is absolutely, disgustingly filthy 10 minutes after a wash. It does not smell bad thankfully, my roommate is non stop sniffing my head so I guess it has a nice scent but the hair is so gross. Despite being covered in lard my hair is still frizzy and coarse. My scalp is not irritated at all. No itching or redness. My scalp feels pretty good so it does not seem like the follicles are clogged. I have tried now washing my hair with shampoo but it does not help. I cannot find anything that will break down this substance. It can’t be product build up because I wasn’t using products so what is there to build up? I have been working around trees a lot, maybe I have sap mixed with oil or something? How do I get out sap? Lard? Will it be necessary to shave my head? Is this just how normal hair is? It can’t be that awful, I would rather have horse hair as before if this is what hair feels like. Do I have a disease? I have seen no improvement at all in my hair. It certainly looks and feels worse. Because of the grease it is even harder than before to get wet. I have oddly very waterproof hair, like a duck or something. I have to submerge my head for a long time and it still never gets fully wet.