Monday, December 29, 2008

Best of: At 4 Kilorats

From 7/3/07:

Do you ever feel invisible?

I mentioned that at my men's group no one asked me to "check in" and it wasn't noticed, though only four men were there.

Last night at a preparatory meeting for our yearly retreat, this year focused on the Jungian archetype of the King, many made suggestions. At first I decided not to speak, as it was my first visit to this meeting. But after a while I joined in, offering the idea that the King could not abdicate, as in King Lear's mistake; I pointed out the idea of the wounded King in the idea of the Fisher King; that a king could never really take a vacation from his responsibilities; that a king needs the humility to repent, and that we should first concentrate on the barriers that kept us from envisioning "the King within." All well and fine. But when the leader summed up the meeting, though he included some of my ideas, he curiously credited everyone for their ideas except me. As if I hadn't been there. As if mine were a disembodied voice without a person attached.

I know I tend to be overly intellectual; I mentioned some literary sources, like Nathan's famous upbraiding King David for the Bathsheba affair, the Grail legend, King Lear, and I hope none beyond that. Perhaps what makes people forget me is that I always feel the need to cite a reference for an opinion; maybe I know nothing except references; maybe I don't exist and have no opinion, substituting references and the opinions of others to shore up my own lack of identity. How do I come across to others? It's nearly impossible to say, but I fear I come across as cold and intellectual, separate, someone not involved in the social flow, someone who doesn't get the "hints" from other people about the social process, someone who throws red herrings on a pile of sardines.

Strangely I brought a notebook to the meeting, and it was the same notebook I brought to last year's retreat when I was seriously depressed-- as I am again now. And it contained notes on the very same problems I still experience, mainly regarding narcissism. Why must I be critical of others in my mind? Why do I suffer from jealousy? What infantile psychology lives in me to make me feel as if I ought to be up on the stage, the center of attention, instead of that person with the microphone?

Naturally depression causes psychological regression. (I'm crying as I write this.) I'm so tired of this journey. I feel like a raw nerve. Friendless. Worthless. Obviously too self-involved, but not knowing how to escape the bell jar.

I have had one good thought in this relapse of ten day's duration; I have prayed for a teacher. I guess that's another way of saying I want more than medications, I want "therapy" as well. But it's not psychodynamic therapy I seek; it's just a wise man to help guide me. All my life I've resisted trusting most authorities or teachers, to avoid the disappointment of overidealization and the subsequent devaluation, but I don't fear that now. What I fear is getting stuck here longer.

It's good to write because that gives me a brief respite from talking to myself inside my head, a habit I can rarely shake. Was I so lonely as an infant and toddler that I had to create all this noise in my mind? Ah to be cooking and not think about cooking, just to cook... the Zen of being wedded to the action without thinking, just doing... I went fishing yesterday and caught nothing from the rocks, I never do... but I couldn't just fish. I did think about making a catalogue of all my fears so that I could look at them and tackle them as best I could. Maybe I'll do that. But not on this blog.

Meanwhile I've been learning many new wildflowers here in my wanderings. Here's the coast onion, Allium dichlamydeum:

Here's sky lupine, Lupinus nanus:

Come July 27 it will be the two-year anniversary of my blog. I don't know how many have visited it as I've only had a tracker since October '06. Since then a little over 11,000 have, more than a thousand a month. Most are, no doubt, recurrent visitors, the rest find me, sometimes serendipitously while looking for something else, by searches.

Why do I persist in blogging? Mainly because it's therapeutic. I never believed in diaries; this is my first.

Since I sank into a depression on April 1, 2006, I've probably had less than two months relief--not of feeling happy but feeling normal. I most regret the burden my illness has placed on Kathleen. She is wonderful. No doubt if I were utterly home alone I would be much worse.

The problem with the psychological infantilization of depression is that one cannot receive the very praise and recognition one craves; it is suspect. Only when my chemicals are righted can I receive such things, but when my chemicals are righted the problem seems to disappear. So it's not worth thinking about. But I can't help it!

Depression is not a choice--why would anyone choose it? It is a curse, and in my case a familial, genetic curse. I got the bad genes. End of story. And I'm weak besides, while depressed; I don't always act in my own best interest because of the underlying hopelessness always whispering: "What's the use of doing this or that?" Yet I continue doing. Without doing I would go utterly under.

Thanks for listening.

At 4 Kilorats,


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