The Reckoning, Part II

This is Part I that I wrote earlier tonight.  It’s best to read Part I before reading Part II, but it’s not necessary.  I promise you I will return to the subject of my mojo by the end of this entry.

Another thing that came up in my last therapy session was how the hell am I going to be self-supporting?  I talked about doing editing, which is fine.  However, I’m not sure it’s the only thing I want to be doing.  She mentioned…first, a little background.  I have a thing for bartender.  I have no idea why this is, but it’s become an inside joke with my friends.  If I mention I find someone cute in a bar, my friend will inevitably say, “The bartender!”  Anyway, my therapist and I were talking about my thought of being a barista/server ten years ago.  She said, “You should bartend.”  I thought she was half-joking, but she really wasn’t.  She said my affinity for bartenders is what made her think of it, but then it actually made sense.

My immediate thought was, “I can’t fucking do that.”  It was immediately followed by the thought, “Why not?”  I confess that my immediate reaction had to do with the reaction I imagined from my parents if I told them my decision.  However, this is something really common in families where someone wants to do something artistic for a living.  Parents are rarely supportive of these endeavors for various reasons.   My therapist pointed out that I had to reframe the issue from, “This work is beneath me (legacy from my family’s class issues)” to “This is what people in my community do to make a living.”  It’s true.  Performers, artists, musicians, and writers alike have done mundane jobs in order to have a bit more freedom to pursue their creative projects.

I couldn’t have been a server/barista ten years ago.  I could be a bartender today.  Plus, I hear the sexual shenanigans are pretty outrageous in certain bars.  I would get hit on, and I would have to deal with that.  I would get to hear people’s lives stories (I tend to elicit that from people, anyway), which I could then harvest for my fiction.  I could work nights and sleep days, which is my preferred sleep schedule, anyway.  I don’t drink much, so it wouldn’t be a temptation in that way.  I would have to deal with the noise factor, but that’s what earplugs are for.

To my amazement, by the end of the session, I was actually seriously thinking about it.  My best friend, Kiki, had mentioned the idea awhile back, semi-joking, but not really joking, either.  It has a lot of merit.

Then, today, in Taiji, Choolie showed me a variety of ways to disable an opponent.  Some were designed to maximize pain while minimizing actual damage, whereas others were designed to break a joint or kill.  There is one set of techniques, called Chin Na, that I especially like because they involve very little effort to execute (though they take practice to learn correctly) and they exert an excruciating amount of pain.  I know because Choolie did them on me (holding back, of course), and while I have a very high tolerance for pain until I actually feel it and then I’m a wimp, these were pretty effective in reaching past my pain threshold.  The thing, though, that I realized about ten minutes into Choolie demonstrating the techniques on me is that while I could have withstood more pain before tapping out, there was no reason to do so.  I mean, Choolie wasn’t giving me gold stars for the amount of pain I could bear, so why try to be so macho?  Because it’s my way of operating.  I had learned at an early age to turn off my pain receptors (or ignore them), which was good at the time, but ultimately detrimental to my health.  Now, my ability and/or willingness to ignore pain has diminished, and not with much effort on my part.  Plus, as I said, the Chin na techniques are designed to inflict a great deal of pain–so much that the only thing you can think is, “How the fuck can I stop this pain?”  And, it’s instantaneous.  To paraphrase Choolie, Chin na is about dislocating someone’s joint and then putting it back wrong.

She mixed in some Taiji, too.  She taught me a drill that is designated to break someone’s arm.  We did it really slowly because the space between PAIN but essentially OK and broken arm is very small.  If done correctly, it takes minimal effort to execute.  And, yes, I giggled when she told me the application for the posture.  For some reason, the nastier the application, the more I giggle.  She says that’s common, though, so I’m not too worried about it.  In part, it’s because I’m marveling at how easy it is to totally break a body.  It’s amazing, really.

Anyway, as we were practicing the drills, she told me that much of what she was teaching me wouldn’t be allowed in tournaments.  I asked why, and she said because she was teaching me street fighting–how to maim and/or kill.  Tournaments were strictly for style points.  Understandable, really, as it would be a major nightmare if someone got killed in a competition tournament.  But, I had no interest in doing tournaments.  When I walked into Choolie’s class a little over two years ago, I had one goal:  Learning to defend myself.  The reason I chose Taiji is because it emphasized health as well as defense; I liked the integration of the two.  Never once did I think that I would like to compete in a tournament.

Choolie also told me of a story with a black belt in karate who killed a guy in a bar fight.  The judge gave him a stiffer sentence because a black belt in karate is taught how to control himself and to hold back when necessary.  At first, I was a bit dismayed by the judge’s ruling until Julie gave me a few more details of the case.  In essence, the black belt killed someone in a situation where his life clearly wasn’t in danger.  He could have just as easily shut down the guy in other ways.  This was an anathema to me because I would never think about using Taiji just to show off or be macho or anything like that.  I wouldn’t go looking for a fight, and I certainly wouldn’t use it at any flimsy opportunity.  For me, there would be only one reason I would ever use Taiji:  Because my physical well-being was threatened, and I had no other recourse.  In other words, it would be a last resort, and it would be me or him.

I still have trouble with that realization.  I am a pacifist.  An incredibly angry pacifist, but a pacifist, nonetheless.  I am staunchly against war, and I don’t enjoy any kind of physical altercation.  OK.  I have to amend that.  Sports.  That’s my one hypocrisy, and I don’t like the ultimate fighting sports.  At any rate, I don’t like violence.  I don’t like watching it, and I certainly do not want to participate in it.  If someone was mugging me, I would give him my purse and be done with it.   In the past, I thought I was one of those, “I would let someone kill me before I harmed him” kind of people.  Two plus years of Taiji have made me realize that nothing could be further from the truth.

I have been the victim of sexual abuse twice–once as a child, and once as an adult.  Neither was a one-time incident, and both have had devastating consequences on my psyche and my being.  I am damaged in ways that may never be healed.  I will never let that happen to me again.  This is what Taiji has helped me realize.  I will kill or be killed before allowing any man to do that to me again.  And, I don’t feel guilty about it (though, true to my nature, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty).  I don’t think I could survive another attack like that again, so frankly, I would rather die in an attempt to fight it then experience that particular horror yet again.

Do you know how hard it is for me to say that I would kill someone, no matter how extreme or theoretical?  It completely changes my view of myself and the idea of who I am.  This has happened a few times in the past year or so, and it’s jolting to me each time.  Something I thought was at the core of me–isn’t.  It’s not true now, and it may never have been.  And, per my mind, I am obsessing over what it says about me that I would have no qualms about killing someone who was attacking me.

So.  This brings me back to my mojo as mentioned in the last entry.  You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?  I don’t blame you, but I didn’t forget.  I have two things to say about why I might not want to get my mojo back, one I just thought of as I was typing the last paragraph.  I’ll tell you the one I figured out earlier first.

I have absolutely no road map for my life now.  Depression made everything comfortable, predictable, and ostensibly safe (though as I noted before, being safe without the possibility of joy is just another form of hell).  I didn’t like being depressed, but I knew who I was in the frame of that context.  I have no fucking idea who I am now.  And, the things I crave, a place of my own, self-sufficiency, a performing/writing career all seem like impossible goals to meet.  It’s gonna take a lot of fucking work, and as I have stated before, I am a lazy person at heart.

I feel lost right now, and I don’t have the faith that I can do what needs to be done.  That scares the fuck out of me.  I hate trying and failing.  I know nobody likes it, but I hate it to a pathological extent.  I’m also feeling incredibly sad for the life I’ve wasted.  I’m also physically incredibly drained.

This brings me to the second reason I’m not rushing to reclaim my mojo, the one I just thought of.  My demons are back with a vengeance.  They are pulling me into the abyss again.  I am not far enough removed from the pit to be confident that I won’t get permanently thrown down there again.  I feel myself inexorably sliding in that direction, and I don’t know how to stop it.  And, this links to what I said earlier about kill or be killed.  I don’t know how to kill my demons–and I would rather die than go back to the abyss again.  I remember all-too-well what it felt like being in there.  I remember how worthless, ugly toxic, disgusting, shameful, grotesque, hideous, elephantine, stupid, and utterly pointless I felt I was.  I can still feel with complete clarity the hopelessness I experienced while in the abyss.

As an aside, my mother has similar OCD tendencies as do I.  I would watch her pretty much talk herself out of any right answer to a problem, and while I realized just how insane it is as I watched her do it, I can’t recognize the same insanity when I do it myself.  When I am in the pit, I shoot down any possible way of getting out of it.  Therefore, even if it’s only a foot or two deep, I will not pull myself out.

Right now, I am in the space where I can go either way.  The demons are dragging me to the abyss.  My loved ones are dragging me away from it.  Unfortunately, the demons have the advantage because they live inside me and were spawned by me.  They know me so intimately, and they are bringing out the heavy artillery.  My friends have told me the demons are redoubling their efforts because they know they are losing me.  While that may be true, the constant assault is having its effect on me.

I’m starting to listen to them again.  I am starting to believe them when they tell me that I am fat and ugly and worthless and better off dead.  The colors are leaching from my world again, little by little, and I hate it.  With every step forward I take, they drag me back three.  I’m finding living to be an effort again, just as it was in the lost years.  I don’t want to get out of bed even though my sleep is shittier than ever, and honestly, if I didn’t have to take care of the cats, I would have given into the impulse by now.  I am falling asleep as I drive, and I am having to put a huge effort into doing the little things.  I find that I am still retreating into my shell even after my mom left to go back to Taiwan.

My mojo is gone; I have no idea how to get it back or if I even have the will to do so.

9 Responses to The Reckoning, Part II

  1. If the old demon-infused Mojo is gone, then good riddance.

    You’ll create the new Mojo — and maybe give it another name because the old one’s been tainted — Dojo? Fojo? FloJo? 🙂

    And you’ll find a way to create meaning and purpose (or maybe even Meaning! and Purpose!).

    Finally, the bartending thing might be amazing for you. Not just for the reasons you mentioned, but also because the demons won’t be able to get as much traction when you’re interacting more with other people (who aren’t in your family).

    Hang in there.

  2. What Alex said. Let the old mojo go.

    You need Mi(nna)jo. Mijo will get you through.

    As for worrying about failure? The way I see it, there are certain things you gotta have, and one of them is your own space. If your choice is to do what you gotta do to get your own space or live with your parents when they migrate back over here, guess what? You’ll do it. You’ll do what you need to do to survive because it’s what you do.

  3. My thinking is that you don´t feel any purpose in your life because, despite the fact that you´ve got a good heart, you ain´t doing much for others.

    Doing stuff for you tends to not bring you pleasure, or for such pleasure to be so fleeting as to make the effort too much.

    I sometimes think the single biggest problem you´re dealing with is self-focus. You want to be the director of your own play (life), and the actor, and producer, and everything has to be juuuuusst SO! But of course it isn´t a play, it IS life, and you will never have control over it.

    My self-focus (and fearfulness) was the basis for my alcoholism. AA allowed me to confront that fact and GET OVER MYSELF. It isn´t a one-time thing, and I still struggle with it. But now I know that when I´m getting irritated, bitchy etc., I need to check and see if I´m just self-focusing. The answer is inevitably yes, and I´m getting bitchy (et. al.) because I WANT things to be one way and I´m getting another. Whoa precious me! WAAAAHHH.

    I know that when I stop wanting what I don´t already have, I will have everything I want. If I can achieve that peace from time to time, I´m on the right track. And I can work on reaching that condition more frequently each year.

    And the fact that I now devote major effort into making things better for others is what truly fuels the satisfaction I feel. It is far and away the most meaningful thing I do. It also allows me to focus on others, and invest myself in doing the things I believe in. I´ll say that again with a twist; it allows me to do the things I´m really good at, applied to the things I value most. Take those things (i. e. giving) away, and I would be in a very dark place.

    Join me.

  4. Alex, how about Jojo after the monkey in PPG? I wish I had the same confidence in me that you seem to have. Another reason the bartending thing would be good is because the social interaction would be limited–I wouldn’t have to talk to the same person all night–and fairly shallow–unless I wanted it to be something more. Thanks for your continued support, Alex. I really appreciate it.

    Kel, Mijo. Hm. I like that. Kinda like a Mojito, but contracted. You have a way of putting things that just cuts through the bullshit, Kel. You make me look at things in a way I’d never thought of before. Again, I wish I had as much confidence in me that you have in me, but I guess I will have to rely on you guys until I get enough of my own. Love you, twin o’mine.

    Rob M, you could have said I don’t have purpose because I ain’t doing much and stopped right there. That’s true. I actually do things for others (I just don’t talk about it), and I can always do more. It’s actually something my therapist and friends have urged me to do–volunteer.

    I agree that I think about myself too much (I have admitted that I am thoroughly self-absorbed in that matter), but I would differ from you in thinking that I should think less of myself. I already think I’m shit, so me telling me to just get over my shit will not help with that. And then, true to my nature, I’ll bash myself for not being able not to get over my shit, which will just continue the spiral. I think all the time that I should just get over things and not be affected by this that or the other thing, but that doesn’t help me actually stop doing the behavior that is bothering me. What I am trying to do is say something like, “Wow. I feel like shit. I really don’t like this that or the other thing. Blah blah blah” and then let it go. I’m trying to let feelings just be feelings, but it’s very difficult for me.

    In addition, finding my worth through others is a dicey proposition. As I said, even though I am extraordinarily self-focused and introspective, I also tend to give a lot to others. Then, I start feeling that if I don’t give to others, I have no worth. I think there has to be a healthy balance of helping others and (to use a dreadful phrase) helping oneself.

    As always, you have given me lots to think about that is outside my normal well-beaten mind rut. Thank you for that (and for nudging me to blog).

  5. Wow, that is a sleek Chinese finger-trap-for-the-mind you`ve got there. Either way you pull, you´re stuck. And good luck relaxing!

    I think you´re doing all the right things. You´ve got a good therapist, you´re doing the Choolie stuff (which I think is HUGE, because it works both body and mind and will ultimately pay dividends in confidence, The downside is that you can beat yourself up worse, he he), and you´re writing to articulate your thoughts clearly so that you can progress through them. Perhaps one thing you´re wrestling with is that your mental process and emotions don`t follow the same path, so don`t always end up at the same point. Your emotions tend to lurch, whereas your thoughts go in very (un?)disciplined circles. No doubt, the size of those circles has grown enormously recently, but they`re still on a loop. I think that´s true for all of us, but your awareness of it goes way beyong most folks´. Learning and growth actually come from growing the circle of thought, which you´re doing. So just because the scenery looks familiar or you´re running into the same demons as before doesn´t mean you´re not on a new track and learning and growing, it is merely because the loop is incrementally bigger, rather than ejected into a whole new orbit, (think of the trauma that would take!). Which is a long-winded way of saying: I believe your process is working. Oh, and by all means, share what you´re doing for others. When you do the work, it´s okay to get credit for it. And you´re among friends here. 🙂

  6. Rob M, Taiwanese steel-trap–it’s even more devious. And, knowing my problems while not being able to fix ’em all is actually worse. As I said to my therapist, what good does it do to have a brain if I can’t use it when I need it the most? I also expressed to her that it made me sad that it’s so hard for me to do anything. The inner machinations I have to engage in just to get out of the house takes up an inordinate amount of time. She said it was very sad, but it was a part of me. I was going to have to accept it, deal with it (i.e., realize that I will have to do ten things mentally in order to do one thing physically), and forge ahead despite it. It’s not gonna change any time soon. In fact, that’s the basis of a future post–my numerous flaws and how to play triage with them.

    My mind: Yeah. When I see my mom doing it, it’s easy to see how circular and sometimes completely ridiculous it is. When I do it myself, not so easy to spot. You are right that my mind is looping larger rather than just exploding into a different orbit (sometimes, I wish it would). It’s gonna take a lot of time.

    Choolie: She’s great. She doesn’t get mad when I say, “Fuck Taiji” (my initial response to everything), and she is patient when I demand to know why I should do something or the other (which is always).

    Good works: Most of what I do is anonymous, so I’m not going to talk about it. However, thinking about it made me realize that I should do some non-anonymous work, not so I can get accolades, but so I can actually see how what I do makes a difference.

  7. Haha – thanks.

    Everyone who really wants to learn self-defense giggles when something is scary/hurts in a class setting. The scarier the technique, the bigger the giggle! So, babe, you’ve got the aptitude.

    Here’s to more giggle time with you!