More on the Mental Health of this "Cara"-van
As a young child, I used the expressive arts to keep my Spirit alive and vibrant. I was raised with privilege in a suburban home that was devoid of emotional intimacy, deeply fearful of vulnerability and antagonistic towards empathy.
(I am writing this because I am not alone and I believe this is why Donald Trump was elected - he is our collective shadow. We must confront these elements within our own selves. E.g. Due to my upbringing and conditioning, I have behaved similarly, as Donald Trump, at various points throughout my life.) Writing, singing, dancing, making art, nurturing my stuffed (and real) animals, being in nature, stargazing and attempting to wrangle my neighborhood peers into being my classroom, were the medicines that I administered to myself, especially with our move to San Diego County in 1981.
My withdrawl into a beautiful world of art, music and nature - sometimes within, inside of my bedroom at home, or sometimes without, through choirs, gymnastics, drill team, pageantry and other activities - protected me from the war-zone that I was forced to grow up within.
Without notice, hands could rain down like bullets striking faces, pulling hair or beating behinds with a very specific leather belt. Words could be dropped like atomic bombs when a messy kitchen was found. "You no good for nothing, lazy lout." Or, "What are you, a slut?" when I pushed my parent's extremely narrow, and conservative boundaries, at the ripe ol' age of 11. (Which was to wear a pair of dangly earrings. :( )
I used to hide behind the trash cans located on the side of our house after returning home from school on a day when I didn't know whether or not both of my parents were at work. There, I would plot my strategy - which was to gain sympathy upon entrance so as to avoid a beating. Walking in the door, I would pretend that I was in pain with a headache. (Yep...I manifested headaches as my main, chronic ailment for many years as an adult.)
It wasn't just the physical abuse, emotional neglect and alcoholism. It was also sadism, and a rotten pleasure found in the pain of innocent others. And, it was two people stuck in their suffering from a lifetime of dysfunctional patterns, created in response to their own early childhood trauma, who refuse to confront their pain.
I imagine if I were to allow for diagnoses, I could be labeled as having clinical depression, acute anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. As my own doctor and therapist for the past twenty years, however, I have only treated myself with plant medicines- like Cannabis, psilocybin and Ayahuasca. These have all been instrumental in my ongoing healing. However, what has been kicking my mental health's ass for the past 43-years (ish) has been all of my anger that was covering my deep well of GRIEF. My grief has been comprised largely of all of the suffering that was forced upon me as an innocent child during my first ~18 years of life. I then came to mistakenly believe that how I chose to move through the world in response to this hardship - by isolating myself, being deeply fearful of vulnerability and intimacy as well as asking others for help, and more - was "normal."
(The root of most trauma, addictions and mental health disorders is human suffering, as Gabor Mate would say.) The loss of my life partner at the start of the confounding year of 2020 has been my life's greatest invitation to feel all of my PAIN - in losing him, yes; from my childhood and its fallout; as well as for simply being human on planet Earth.
So, in May and while at one of my best friend's home in the San Diego County town I grew up in, I began DANCING MY GRIEF. I started down a path of being more EMOTIONALLY FIT in that I am doing my best to embody my feelings to the fullest when I need it most so that I may let them go, move on and be present to those around me - especially my son, whose own anger and grief took more shape and effect in November 2020.
In result, I am more compassionate, and empathetic.
I am quicker to tears, and more easily vulnerable with my closest people around me.
I feel the most real, and in touch with my heart than I have ever been.
I am more present, and less frustrated.
And, it feels good to be Me. I still struggle with my anxiety, though. Which is where cold water comes in. And travel, and choosing this lifestyle in lieu of renting a room (or, home) in some North American locale, somewhere.
But I don't fear the future, and I never have.
I don't fear death, either.
For my partner's death has me confronting my own mortality.
Death is unavoidable.
What I can have some sense of control over, however, is how I live,
So, here we are. Welcome,
I share all of this because it is possible to heal ourselves - from our greatest trauma to our most painful loss.
So does learning to be with exactly how we are in each and every moment
with absolutely no need for change. ;)
I am perfectly imperfect just as I am
and just as you are.