What I wish I heard from the beginning. | June 9, 2011

The day that I posted my last blog, I got a message from a friend I haven’t seen since we were around 11 years old. She asked me how I was and I directed her to my blog and told her that’s where I was. She replied with the email that follows. I think this email shows undisputed how friends are seasons in our lives and they come and go right when they should. I think in her reply she shows dignity and respect while still being clear and real.
I feel like this email is a shining example of how we need to speak and be public. None of this is private. I never would hae found this piece of enlightenment had I stayed silent. There are positives to my behavior. My actions are not “shit talking” they are constructive and pertinent dialogue. Without further ado:
This is all a bit disjointed, so bear with me. Also, I am a bit more straight to the point than I ever usually am. You asked for comment. Normally, I would just listen and let a person vent. But in this case, the dynamic is different. I’m a totally outside party, interlopper into very personal things. I just want you to know that I am totally sympathetic and please don’t be offended by anything I say. I am not drawing any conclusions or judgements (I rarely do), just asking questions and trying to offer what little “help” I can given what little I know about the situation and you, for that matter. Please correct or elaborate on anything I may have the wrong idea on.
I started with just a few questions as I was reading along and you ended up answering some, so I deleted them, and then a few things you said just sort of sparked a long-winded ramble….
What led you to get into communal/anarchist communities?
What brought you to Denver specifically?
Have you sought any therapy for the sodomy?
Why did you join the military? I fucking hate the military, so I am curious to be enlightened as to your experiences with it (obviously one clear negative and I can only assume your drastic switch from dominant culture to where you are now means it wasn’t the highlight of your life??)
Why did you agree to a poly lifestyle? Did it personally attract you? Did you do it because you thought it would save a relationship? Pros and cons?
Past used against you – what past, how so? That you come from dominant culture?
Would you describe yourself as a difficult person to get along with? In what ways are you misunderstood?
Everyone was busy with their own families and I already know from childhood how low of a priority I am and so I stayed in my house and stayed quiet as much as possible.  – Well I think that is a root problem, along with the sodomy, isn’t it?
Why do you feel worthless? That is a deeper question. Beyond the obvious, I mean really, why?
I’m really confused about Zach and sleeping with Brianna and why that set you off and why he felt the need to confess that in a letter. Wasn’t that the point in him finding her on a dating site and polyamorous relationships? Was it just that it all came to a head that you had pretended to be okay with a poly/open relationship, but in reality you hated it and didn’t want that??
In what ways do you wish more people would take the time to understand you? In what ways do you reach out to others or support others that they don’t extend the same courtesy? DO you feel you are more troubled than most people and that society/your community/your friends have a duty to support you? WOuld you know how to help someone in your same situation? Would would you do differently if someone with your troubles came to you for help? Listen, be kind the first few times, what if they only get worse and worse? What would you do to help them? What if it isn’t that you are worthless and no one wants to help you, they just don’t know HOW?
What is it you feel like is lacking in your life, that if you had that, things would be better? Do you just feel helpless? I think in a lot of ways the communal living paradigm can be amazing and helpful, but I think that can only be the case when there is already harmony and balance. Humans are selfish beings, when we are hurting, we become even more centric. I think that if a root cause of your problem is that you are feeling helpless, looking for help from others will almost always lead to more pain. Either because other people do not have the capacity to help you and are dragged down as well and you can create a co-dependent spiril, where you both end up hurting each other, or people turn their backs on you because they are overwhelmed and helpless themselves and they don’t like feeling impotent and so they spin it that you are a burden and try to cut off the source of added responsibility.  This basically means that if you really want to help yourself, as easy as it is to say and hard to actualize, you HAVE to find your own independence. You feel worthless because you feel like a burden on a group, a group that doesn’t know what to do to help you and so is cutting you off like a yellowing leaf.  But it is a self-fulfilling thing when you determine your own self worth through others, the more worthless you feel the more worthless they treat you. It is human nature, humans are nasty, self-preserving creatures, even in radical, communal groups. The hypocrisy I am sure annoys you and it may be quite demoralizing and disillusioning to realize no one out there is set to help you, not really…and it may seem insurmountable to help yourself. But I think there comes a point when you just look around and it feels like lights go off and you realise that you have the power to create your own atmosphere, goals, worth.
I can’t really tell you how to do this. No one can. No therapist, no friend, no book can tell you that. All I can tell you is that if at some point you are tired of feeling like shit, you just decide to stop letting it control your mind.
Finances and the realities of capitalistic demands make everyone feel trapped, the key is how aware of it you are. The more aware you are, the more you suffer in your cage. We rattle the bars, we cry, we rage at the injustice, but at the end of the day, we are still in a cage with no idea how to get free. I’m not recommending giving up trying to escape, but I do think at some point you have to find a nice balance of making peace with the reality of the cage and seeking mor emanageable/realistic ways of asserting your freedoms. I am sure that you started down the path you have in hopes of finding exactly that, but clearly you just found yourself in another cage. The key being, not your environment, but in your own self-satisfaction.
Is part of your problem perspective? Like you are not positive who is to “blame”? They clearly think you are the monster/community ruiner. You, I would assume, feel victimized and unsupported. Could it be somewhere in the middle and a bad mix? I can’t objectively say because I am only reading your side. I am not excusing people’s lack of empathy or support, but I can also understand it as a basic human behaviour. People don’t deal well with unwanted drama, no matter what the cause and are eager to get rid of it. Like the yellowing leaf, even if it is something wrong with the plant itself or wrong with the water or bugs, the quickest way to remove the “problem” is to cut off the leaf, as if it is the leaf’s problem for wilting. It may ignore the bigger problems, but for the moment everything appears better. Do you feel like you were a source of problems or just a leaf who suffered and was cut off unfairly? If it is a mix, do you think you would be able or willing to take accountability for that or do you truly feel 100% in the right and railroaded?
Why do you feel the community took such an issue with you? Why you?
No offence, not my place to say, but one thing I feel confident in saying after reading what you wrote, your relationship with Zach sounds horribly unhealthy, for you both. I think you need to reach a more stable place, independently, and have some personal strength before pursuing a relationship. Maybe you fear that you cannot reach that place without leaning on others, but you HAVE to, and no your son would not be better off with you killing yourself, he would be horribly traumatized, he would have all the memories of you suffering, him helplessly watching and then you killing yourself. Instead, he may have some memories of when you were hurting, but if you can grow and become stronger and move away from those harmful behaviours it will be ten times better for your child than the easy way out. And you constant failure at doing it tells me that deep down you know this. But threatening suicide and verging on it is the best way to make other people take you seriously. You want them to take you seriously because you want them to save you and make the pain go away. They can’t. They just can’t.
In my experience the best thing you can do is vent. If not to someone who is supportive or willing to listen, then to your blog. You need to talk about all the fucked up things in your past. WHY you felt worthless as a child, try to look back with adult eyes, you need to talk, over and over until it loses its power about the sodomy, you need to let yourself be angry, you are worth enough to be angry.
I’m glad you have found some people who are willing to listen and be a lifeline. When I said no one can help you, I should clarify. No one can “save” you. No one can “make you better” or cure a mental illness for you. People can listen, try to be supportive, but even really good, patient and kind people have limits (of energy, knowledge, stress). So that there is not a cycle of feelings of rejection or failure and worthlessness – it is good to have people to talk to who are not judgemental and who offer valid, wise advice but you cannot DEPEND on them or start to build hope that they will save you like no one else did. I know how hard that cycle is and how disappointing and scary it is to realize how very alone you really are with your mental illness/depression/anxiety.
I would like to tell you that a part of it is growing pains. But honestly, whilst age and experience make the burden of living easier sometimes, living is a fucking pain. It is. I think the sooner I realized that life was never going to be roses and that life will always be a struggle, it is just making the most of it, things got easier to swallow. I stopped feeling like a constant failure for not being in a better place than I was and I started realizing the enjoyment that can be had from the struggle, like a good exercise. Surviving can be exhilerating.
A friend sent this to me today and I thought I’d share:
These thinking styles are the root of most self-inflicted depression and lack of confidence.
ALL OR NOTHING THINKING: Everything is either good or bad, with no middle ground. You tend to judge people or events using general labels e.g. “I’m a complete failure” or “I’ll never be any good at this”. It negates the possibility of ever improving or changing. It makes it easier to just give up.
CATASTROPHIC THINKING: You tend to magnify and exaggerate the importance of events and how awful or unpleasant they will be, over-estimating the chance of disaster; whatever can go wrong will go wrong. If you have a setback you will view it as a never-ending pattern of defeat
PERSONALISING: You take responsibility and blame for anything unpleasant even if it has little or nothing to do with you. If something bad happens you immediately think it’s your fault.
NEGATIVE FOCUS: You focus on the negative, ignoring or misinterpreting positive aspects of a situation. You focus on your weaknesses and forget your strengths, looking on the dark side. If you’ve done a good job, you filter out and reject the positive comments and focus on the negative.
JUMPING TO CONCLUSION: You make negative interpretations even though there are no definite facts. You start predicting the future, and take on the mantle of “mind reader”. You are likely to predict that negative things will happen or that someone is thinking negative things about you.
LIVING BY FIXED RULES: You tend to have fixed rules and unrealistic expectations, regularly using words like “should, ought, must and can’t, never, always”. You set yourself up for failure. This leads to unnecessary guilt and disappointment. The more rigid these statements are, the more disappointed, angry, depressed or guilty you are likely to feel.
I plan to also reply to this publicly soon.

Posted in Uncategorized


  1. Wow, that is amazing advice. These words give courage.

    Comment by shaun — June 9, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  2. All I have to say is your friend has got some fucking wisdom that I think everyone can benefit from, no matter where they are in their lives.

    Comment by Dani — June 10, 2011 @ 6:17 am

  3. Damn good friend,

    Comment by wearytravler — June 10, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

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