Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Swirling Patterns

Variations from a photograph.  I think in patterns something like these sometimes when I am trying to figure a problem out involving space or colors.  Colors and textures make me happy.

If you can use them in something or just like the way they look, cool.  Just don't hot-link.  Right click and save to your pictures...  you know the drill.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Forgive THIS or Against Forgiveness

A note on why this post is in this blog rather than one of my other ones: The article that prompted me to write this entry was twittered by someone in the brain rehab field.  I deal with the effects of my brain damage daily.  I thought this entry fit best here.  SAP

Forgiveness has become cheapened. 

We the entirely selfish self-centered ones have come to believe that forgiveness is something that we do to other people so that we feel better.  Furthermore, we engage in forgiving other people, whether they asked for our forgiveness or not; or have a suspect motive for the asking.  And we think that forgiveness is necessary to our peace of mind after victimization.  Naturally, the experts tell us that we cannot be mentally healthy if we do not forgive.

Forgiveness is not supposed to be a "feel good" process.  If I do not feel good about something that happened to me, you, or the world, forgiving the perpetrator or perpetrators is an exercise in mental masturbation.  The serial rapist will live to set fires and to rape again until caught.  The staff at the behavioral facility will continue to beat kids and teens in their charge.  The corrupt government will continue to spy upon its' citizens and silence the dissidents.  There should not be any "feel good" in knowing that these things will continue whether I engage in a psychological thought-twisting of questionable value or not.  What is clearly needed here is direct and meaningful action.

In the examples listed above of the serial rapist, the abusing staff, the corrupt goverment, none of these entities are asking for our forgiveness unless it is convenient to them to do so e.g. hope for possible avoidance of an arrest, a lawsuit, or a riot.  Even if they do ask for forgiveness, they have an ulterior motive.  To forgive in these circumstances-- unbidden, or when there is a suspect need on the part of the offender to have us declare our forgiveness-- is a betrayal of the self.  Not everyone has my best interest at heart, nor do they have to.  We are each of us alone in our own skins.  I will not bear false witness against my self in order to benefit you. 

Through life, there are events in which we have been the victim.  I was a victim.  I was a victim of abuse, rape, a house fire caused by an arsonist, a serious motor vehicle accident caused by an agressive and irresponsible driver.  I have not forgiven my abusers or my rapists or the arsonist or the man who inflicted me with the brain damage (a.k.a. traumatic brain injury) which has profoundly altered my life.  For one, they didn't ask.  And two, I don't feel a need to do so.  I am not full of bitterness.  I live a very full life.  I am happy. 

I have accepted that these events have happened to me. I cannot go back and undo what has been done.  This is reality.  The abuse was real.  The rapes happened.  The apartment building burned down to the ground.  The car got slammed into a house.  I do not accept that this stuff  "had to happen," or that "there is a reason" for them happening, or that they happened so I can "help others that those things [will] happen to," or that there a "benevolent gawd" wanted these things to happen, or that any gods "did it."  People did it.  Deities had nothing to do with it.  Ohhhhh, I sound angry. Yeah, I am angry. 

Why? because I am sick to death of people telling me or insisting to me that-- insert word of your choosing: the abuse, the rapes, the accident, any other word-- is indicative of a Grand Scheme which somehow gives meaning to my life and troubles.  I didn't believe those things when I was a believer.  I still don't.  And by the way, this whole notion of  "it happened so you could learn a lesson from it" is borrowed from the New Agers.

I have made my peace with the changes created in my life by the abuse, house fire, rapes, and my brain damage.  There is a deeper anger in my life.  I have lived through gross injustice.  The arsonist was never arrested.  The rapist that I was able to report got away with it. I have experienced the injustice of people getting paid off to look in the other direction.  I have lived through the injustice of paying for what someone else did to me.  I am angry when others experience injustice.  Stewing about it does not help.  Direct action helps.

 I am at times full of anger.  I consider anger to be part of the human experience.  I am not afraid of my anger.  My anger creates change.  I channel my anger into direct action to aid others in systems change. My anger informs me that something is wrong, not right, up, needs looking after.  My anger is crystal clear, not muddied.  Anger is my truest friend.  Anger, my anger at my situations and circumstances, is what propelled me into writing and submitting my writing so it could get published.  Anger was one of the factors that led me to setting up blogs.  Anger tells me that rather than feel helpless, I can join with others who are doing something about injustice.  And I have.  And will continue to do so.  My anger has saved me from internal implosion.  In choosing what I want to fight against and how I want to fight, I found more community.  And finding community can be a wonderful thing.

My peace of mind did not flow from forgiveness.  Because I did not forgive.  I wasn't asked to forgive the abuser, rapists, arsonist, guy who caused my car accident.  I don't have to forgive them.  [Only one person asked for my forgiveness: my primary care doctor asked for my forgiveness on behalf of all medical practitioners when I first told him about the professional who raped me].  Today, I am indifferent to their continued existances.  They are not in my life today.  I am certainly not going to go out of my way to forgive them.  Nor am I going to seek their forgiveness because "I had a resentment" against them in the past. 

I found my peace of mind from the work that I did in trauma-specific counseling.  I found self-esteem in spite of my trauma-specific counseling when I stumbled upon Nathanial Branden.  [Long story:  I will just say that there are times when the mental health professionals are crazier than their clients are].  I read The Pillar of Self-Esteem and many of his other books.  I did the self-esteem programs in the back of some of Nathaniel Branden's books.  I chose to put many of the things he talked about into practice.  After some healing from reaching inside myself, I found more healing as I was able to reach outside of myself.  The final healing is on-going.  I create healing when I connect with others in a fight against injustice and for freedom.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

One blogger who wrote about it:

And another blogger:

Oh but we must forgive in order to experience good mental health:

Even the Mayo clinic does forgiveness now:

The article that got me to write this blog post:

Non:sectarian definition of New Age:

Sectarian definition of the New Age:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Existential Crisis that Wasn't

This morning I decided that I would have an existential crisis.  So I researched it on-line and then I changed my mind.  It seemed too painful a thing.

Too painful and even selfish to get stuck in a loop of Bawah! My life has no meaning.  I've wasted so much time.  I better go running off to therapy.  Poor little insignificant me.

I read the news while I was investigating existential crises.  Two toddlers-- one in Ohio and the other in Massachusetts-- were body-slammed into permanent brain damaged existence.  One pioneer of treatment for the hopeless among the brain-injured died.  His obit says he was well-educated, accomplished, upbeat, and confident.  A few of the men accused of the gang rape in India that made the mainstream news are crying because the cops beat on them a bit.  An existential crisis is a luxury.  Dead people and toddlers in states of permanently altered consciousness don't get to have one of those.  Poor folks don't have the luxury of bitching that their H.M.O.s cover "only" six sessions of therapy at a time.

I read Sartre in college for kicks along with Thomas A. Merton.  Strange choice of reading material to be carting around campus.  I thought I was being defiant with a touch of philosophy.  I didn't really know what either term meant.  The things I was invested in never really panned out.

After many years of working too hard for not enough, it was scraped away by one motor vehicle accident.  After many years of working too hard for not enough, the insurance companies began fighting over who would pay for my brain damage treatment.  After many years of working too hard for not enough, I discovered that the human servitude agency that I had worked for-- a place that offered treatment to the brain-injured-- had no clue what to do with me.  They called me-- no, actually it was one person, a Mz. Blackhead-- at the most inopportune moments.  I was sleeping twenty two hours a day, waking up to eat and drink a pot of coffee.  Mz. Blackhead never called me when I was awake.  This pissed me off.  She sent me a paper to fill out for their Safety Committee.  I remember one of the questions: How could this accident have been avoided?  I scrawled on it, Shoot all the pot smokers? and sent it back.  The man who caused my car to go careening into a house claimed he had smoked "one joint" before getting into his car "for the first time evah."  Must have been some weed.

Some collection agency dude called me.  This was after a year and a half of me refusing to pay my co-pay for the emergency room bill.  The emergency room that took x-rays of my ribs and my back.  But forgot that I had banged my head repeatedly on the ceiling of the car and whipped it back and forth quite a bit.  Forgot to tell me that I might have a concussion, never mind brain damage.  Some hospital person had called me repeatedly.  I kept telling her, "You want to see that fifty bucks, here is my lawyer's phone number.  I am not paying it."

So by time the collection agency dude got to me, I was ready to fight some more.  "Do you understand that this bill is your responsibility?" the guy asked me.  "This bill is the responsibility of the guy who did this to me."  I was getting testy.  "Are you working?" he pried.  Had he listened to anything I had told him? "NO, I'M NOT WORKING.  I HAVE A BRAIN INJURY FROM THIS CAR ACCIDENT."  Mate looked up from the television in time to hear me scream the f-bomb+you into the phone.  I hung up noisily.  Not having had enough, I used caller i.d. to redial and screamed the f-bomb+you again into the phone and slammed the receiver down.  The house shook. 

Mate should have been used to these outbursts by now.  I had become a world-class curser.  Oh, I was pretty good at it before.  But now I excelled.  Additionally, I was an encyclopedia of absolutely filthy jokes.  Including the one I had told his ancient Englishwoman mother over dinner at an elegant restaurant one night.  Mate was not used to it.  Mate was shaken.  Mate panicked.

Mate confiscated the phone and called the collection agency dude back.  "sapphoq is not feeling well," was muttered apologetically.  "Cripes," I yelled.  "F-bomb.  F-bomb.  F-bomb.  Dude is from a collection agency.  Why the hell are you being nice to him?"  The next day, my lawyer added, "talking to the collection agency on the phone" to the list of things I was not to do.  The list also included, "filling out forms for your last place of employment."

I had to convince the woman from my last place of employment that she too should go through my lawyer for anything.  "We aren't allowed--" she tried feebly to explain.  "I'm instructing you to talk to my attorney," I carefully explained to Mz. Blackhead.  That wasn't her name but it was what I called her.  Her last name sounded like "Blackhead" to my addled brain.  Later on, a hearing eval at the brain injury hospital would reveal that I was on the borderline range of needing a hearing aid for my left ear.  A couple years later, the audiologist was unable to find the lesion that the first one found.  And my hearing had improved back to my pre-accident supersonic levels.

I feed the birds in my back yard.  There is a regular crew of juncos and chickadees, a lone fox sparrow, some house finches and a few purple finches that always show up.  This winter, one junco has taken to clutching one particular branch and sunning herself for around three hours every day.  It is always the same branch.  She does not do that when it is cloudy or raining.  Now that's a bird who deserves to have an existential crisis.  What am I doing here?  What is the meaning of branch?  Tree?  Why couldn't I have been born to a more southerly bunch of juncos?  Who is this fox sparrow and why does he hang around with us? 

We aren't exactly rich.  My car is a rust bucket with two more months of life left before the brake lines rust out or the floor drops out.  My brain damage made a huge dent in our financial resources.
Yet I am here, sitting in front of a computer typing a blog entry.  I am sitting in a warm enough house.  We have streets, sidewalks, stores.  If I want something to eat or drink, I merely have to open the refrigerator or reach for a snack out of the snack basket.  The water that comes out of the faucet is potable.  I buy my clothes from thrift shops by choice because the stiffness of new bothers me.  No one has gang-raped me today.  I am not dead in a morgue in Indonesia or on life support in Ohio or Massachusetts.  I am not living in the Rust Belt and having to confront the aftermath of a Friday night that went horrible wrong.  I don't get off on other peoples' pain.  This is not a hideous gratitude list, counting my "blessings" and feeling good because there is "always someone worse off than I am."  This is an acknowledgement.

An existential crisis is a luxury.  Bullshit.  Let the upper crust and the worried well wallow in it if they wish to.  I don't have the time.
I make plans to go to Steubenville.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Here I Am and Here is my Damaged Brain

Here I am.  I am here.  
This is Briella.  Briella is my post-traumatic-brain-injury-Brain.  Still brilliant but a bit sideways.

I do not have the luxury of pretending that I am here alone without my damaged brain.  I live with my damaged brain every day.  You don't.  I hope you never have to.  Don't hide behind your cutesy slogans or stupid fake rubber band bracelet.  Forget your damn suit that you wear to our conferences.  Burn your business cards.  And those stupid slogans.  Those slogans were never any good anyway.  Forget your sparkly p.r. campaigns and your expensive dinners to raise money that I cannot afford to go to.  I am not a grateful survivor.  I am not a t.b.i.  I am a pissed off brain damaged human being.  Stuff your platitudes.  There is no room in my life for your pretenses. 

For you to pretend that you "don't see" my brain damage, t.b.i., brain, atypical neurology, limitations, signs, symptoms, disability, disabilities, differently abilitied abilities, and so on ad nauseam renders you an ineffective agent for change, professional helper, advocate, brain injury association board member, volunteer, acquaintance.  Here is my injured brain.  Here is my damaged brain.  I already told you she has a name.  Her name is Briella.  Go ahead.  Touch her if you dare to.  She is electric.  She is firm and blobby and disgusting.  Like rotting banana in a skin.   Smell her.  Smell the axons burning.  Smell the rage she carries.  Smell her stink.  And now, don't forget.  Don't forget.

Bear witness.  Silent witness if you must.  Do not turn away from my damaged brain.  I have no room in my life for bullshit.

sapphoq and Briella healing t.b.i.