The Beginning at The End

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

If this were a short story/novella/novel, I would end with this. However, it is not the end yet, the end is in a few days… So just mark it as the end. Every honest ending is only the beginning told differently. Not with a resolution necessarily, but with a higher resolution image. That is my problem, I want the fireworks, The Haven song and cathartic circle, when all writing can offer is a higher resolution image.

So this really should be the end, I just have no self control to put it off. Perhaps you will tell me that I have put it off for too long. I would say that that is an easy thing to say from the outside.

This Facebook conversation occurred February 2016, 2 months before going public. Seems like a lifetime ago. In a sense, it was.

Friend: My question for you, Jill Talbot, is: if I have trouble handling every day life, if I’m not “resilient”, does that mean I’m mentally ill? Or does it mean that society is mentally ill and I have permeable boundaries, unwittingly sucking up this BS.

Me: I’m not sure if this is a hypothetical but for the record, you are resilient. Resilient people struggle.

Firstly, it doesn’t have to be one thing over another. People struggle for all sorts of reasons. My point is not that society is the only factor creating suffering but that we’ve been drawn to the illness narrative because we’ve developed this idea that sick people can be accepted and aren’t responsible.

My point is that we look for the most acceptable culprit for suffering rather than merely accepting people for suffering (not for why they suffer)


I grew up in a world of extroverts where being an introvert was sick or bad.
This is the dichotomy we’ve developed–sick or bad.

That you struggle doesn’t mean that you are sick or weak or that the world is fucked up.

It means you’re human.

And maybe you’re an introvert in a LOUD world of extroverts who are not as smart or sensitive as you are.

Of course not many agree with me. They would rather attach to diagnoses and claim to be scientific because they have brain scans.

That’s my 2 cents… Do with it what you will. I could be the one talking crap, who knows?

Like · Reply · 3 · February 12 at 3:37pm
There are people, also, who claim to agree with everything I have just said but also ended up being more condescending than the mental health system. The problem is when anyone claims to tell you what is wrong with you or how you ought to live. I added this bit here because I’m still too cowardly to post elsewhere as I don’t see any posts that do not worship the people who claim to be on my side. Don’t worship the diagnoses, the anti-psychiatric pseudo-spiritual, they tell the same story with different props. Just live. “To be human is to accept ourselves just as we are, with our own history, and to accept others as they are.” Jean Vanier. One day I will be as brave as you…
Like · Reply · 2 · February 12 at 5:24pm
I realize that I said “just live” as if it were the easiest thing in the world. No one knows better than me that it is not… But I’ve tried all the other ways.
Like · Reply · 1 · February 14 at 8:47pm

Response-Able

But no one knows me, no one ever will
if I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say…

MILCK

It has been almost two months since this ended. Don’t worry, I have not gone back on my promise, just here to say that I may create a new one… RESPONSE-ABLE.

I can give of hope of a different ending to a story that’s already behind me without trying to force myself into a state of believing that all growth is over–all speaking out is over. Getting a voice is addictive, I just couldn’t stick with picking at this one scab… Waiting for acknowledgment that would never come, waiting for it to be a joke, just waiting…

If you are new here–the beginning posts are very organized but I was still in a lot of denial so don’t trust that it is anywhere near the full picture, or that I have not opened myself up to other (more damaging) interpretations… The end posts are less organized but more honest. I still am promising to go back and sort it all out, it will just take time…

I realize that I would’ve perhaps been more successful had I started off with the worst of the worst, framing the mysoginy, racism, abuse and lack of training (amongst things). Successful perhaps in attention but social justice issues often become trends only to be forgotten the next month, without ever having a clear analysis of how ideology is created and the dangers of “followership.” 

This was my goal. But my real goal was healing. To some I should’ve come to an understanding before writing, but writing was how I understood. I imagine it’ll be years before I can get to the darkest places. But I will get there.

In the meantime I was inspired by the recent Women’s March and have decided to reclaim response-able. WE are response-able.

Just a reminder, response-able was what Ben and Jock used in reference to girls being raped. Girls was their word.

response-able

The End at The End at The End

There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water.Janet Frame

I know I have promised an end before but perhaps now is the right time. After all I have now covered all ideas. All apprehensions of being critical–of using my brain–are gone. All need for acceptance from Haven has left me (though I will continue to fight for accountability for the sake of future participants.)

I have certainly struggled. I have now covered: ethics, the communication model, the empathy model, catharsis, breathing, boundaries, sexuality… I believe there is now nothing left to look at. It took me time to really look. I was surrounded by water for a long time. So many times I felt guilty for being critical and then lashed out. Many people are not happy with me. But this is a cultish reaction.

I still loathe the notion of followership and the apparent desire to convert young people to become good followers, choose their next favourite to put on a pedestal, and repeat the same pattern of the past. The notion that I was ever considered to be one of those people is hilarious in hindsight. There were people I believed saw it for what it was–my presence as not being quite right–but the reaction of those was generally to treat me as a pest.

When I was homeless and taken on as a project, I believe things would have been so different had even one person asked me what I wanted without telling me what to want, what to do, how to be. I really believe that it would have just taken one person to tell me that I could leave, that I was able, that I had a whole life ahead of me… I left out the part about how a Haven leader even offered to take one of my university courses for me. She mentioned it several times.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have the same success without having to fight back against my entire life up until this point.

So thank you Haven, you taught me that I have something to fight for.

Some changes have been made–though not enough. They changed their policies but refused to acknowledge why they did so. They put a new complaint procedure in place but it is not yet finished. They say they are having conversations. These conversations do not include me so naturally fall short but for a system that has been devoid of accountability/ethics from its start–it will take time.

So I leave you with Janet Frame. Because I am no follower. Haven was my entire world. Now I feel as if I am looking back into a fishbowl.

Now I want to rip my hair out at anything that even resembles navel-gazing. There is a whole world out there! Furthermore, if you believe that to be honest you have to voice every negative fleeting though the, by voicing them you give them a certain validation. The more you navel-gaze, the less you will be able to see all of the wonders outside of yourself. This is true responsibility–what you choose to pay attention to. Voicing diatribes is a form of attention. Responsibility is in the ability to think critically for yourself. And if voicing every fleeting thought is a virtue in Haven thinking, perhaps I wasn’t an inadequate follower but one who could point out the flaws by honestly living this philosophy. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to follow others. That was my problem.

I still cry, but whether or not the owls are happy or not occurs to me less and less. I mainly cry for the fact that it took me so damn long. Being institutionalized or living in institutional environments is like living in a dream. It gave me an edge I wouldn’t otherwise have–one that terrifies me mostly. But it is mine. And I survived.

No model can explain that. And nobody can teach you how to live without also teaching you that you don’t already know how to live. You know how to live, you were born to live. That’s existentialism. There’s nothing more to it.

And for any good or inadequate followers who may stumble upon this–I give you permission to use your brain, use your own resources, and to leave. Leave in any direction, just make sure it is yours. Falling flat on your face on your own terms is always infinitely better than being infantilized.

The wizard is just a man behind a curtain. You have the world at your fingertips. Abstractions are for fish, you are a warrior.

Most importantly–eventually you will realize that the wizard needs you more than you need him.

On Breathing

The Haven’s main claim to being scientific is the research on breathing. This is correct–to a point. Some breathing techniques are helpful. Some are not. Some are even harmful.

Our bodies are intelligent, we regulate our breathing without conscious awareness in ways that best suit the situation. Indeed I have heard counsellors at rehab suggest not breathing in certain situations. This is the body’s natural response to trauma–and it is a wise one. Breathing rapidly or deeply to elicit extreme emotional reactions–that is something that the science does not support.

This is similar to the critique on catharsis and explains the hyper–almost adolescent–energy that often exists at Haven. There is no evidence that hyperarousel does anyone any good, though I am willing to hear any scientific claims to the contrary. I have not found them. Balance is key, and our bodies naturally have evolved to do this for us, just as language has naturally evolved over centuries. To tamper with either is unwise. A Wittgenstein film clip on language does a good job of explaining the language portion. I am sure that I will be told to read Gabor Mate as an argument for breathing. I am unconvinced.

The point, I believe, is to maintain a state of being present that is neither dissociated nor hyperaroused. There is no scientific evidence that feelings are buried within us and must be cast out like an exorcism. I knew the science when I was at Haven but tried to ignore it. Being critical was not met with good reception.

My personal experience also doesn’t support the notion of bringing excessive emotional reactions to the surface. There are other things going on in counselling that are supportive to expression of emotion, but it is not exorcism or catharsis. It is personhood and mainly works when we abandon scripts and analysis.

When we aren’t triggered, we may focus on our breath in meditation–not to change our bodies but to be with them. Breathing a bit deeper just to gain a sense of calm can be useful. That is as far as the science goes on breathing techniques. When we are triggered, we may respect the wisdom of our bodies to shut down a little. Our bodies are smarter than we are.

That is what the science says.

Boundaries 911

I’ve been relatively quiet–for me. But alas, there’s always more… The more time passes, the clearer I become. Though I have been generally moving on with life.

I am thinking today of boundaries. At Haven living without boundaries is considered virtuous. Reveal all. Never question. Leaders/counsellors have no physical, sexual, or emotional boundaries. They may hold you one moment, flirt another, then insult. This is actually considered counselling. I remember being held and rocked when I was 15–adults I barely knew touching every part of my body–I wanted to scream. I was a kid and they were authority figures–no didn’t exist in my vocabulary. We had to say who we were most sexually attracted to, who we didn’t trust… “Nothing left unsaid” was a common theme. You can say no but then you merely aren’t “willing” or “evolved.” Call me old-fashioned but I believe in boundaries. ESPECIALLY in the role of counsellor. I actually stopped knowing the difference between “counselling” and general socializing-they were treated exactly the same. And thus, the client naturally becomes a sort of puppet. They handed out meds to me, even rashioned out vodka… Reported abuse to the abuser. Yes, you read that correctly. Confidentiality, or lack thereof, is another minefield. “Because we care and you aren’t being responsible” is their go-to answer if you dare question.

It operates like traditional grooming in that I was told things like “we wouldn’t do this for anyone else” or “I only see clients that I like.” There’s nothing that a leader wouldn’t do for me–if I were being young, cute, unable and kept “no” out of my vocabulary. Being agreeable was more important than being able.

Whether or not I was attractive often came up-more so than it has anywhere (almost anywhere) else. It is not only superficial but sexist. I’m so pleased that today I can talk about literature and art and philosophy rather than my weight, whether or not someone feels “close or distant” because my socks don’t match, etc. That feeling I had when I was 15 never left–I just got so used to it over a lifetime that it never occurred to me to seek out something else. Seek out boundaries. 

Frankly, not everything needs to be said. They view it as their job to live out their personal projections as psychodramas with clients. As if we don’t have enough of our own baggage! I really stopped knowing what counselling was. I’m still not sure for I don’t dare re-enter that world.

People who’ve experienced trauma have over-reactive amygdalas. The point is to re-train the brain using meditation and ownership of one’s own life–not to train it to stay in overdrive and be saved by the leader. Indeed by even watching porn in a group. I got addicted to trauma.

I’m disclosing things that they say should not be disclosed. Participants aren’t supposed to know what they’re getting into–it’s supposed to be a “surprise.” This is also unethical. There can be no informed consent and no one can effectively evaluate what occurs. It’s taken me over a year to understand and I haven’t reached the end of my understanding. Without a counter-will or effective boundaries and ethics–groupthink blinds even the most critical of us. I basically sold myself for a place to belong. That was what I had always done.

So no, I did not want to be held, flirted with, insulted, wear a leash… I just wanted to be. I didn’t know I could. I tried and every time I tried, was beat down further.

In the beginning I tried so hard to give Haven the benefit. Partly I knew no one would listen otherwise. Partly I didn’t want to access the full truth–access the feeling of being grabbed by a group. 

Nothing left unsaid is also huge hypocrisy when they don’t want me to say–no! I am a human not a prop! Not want me to say basically anything I have said… I lived in your psychodramas (often overly sexualized and secret) for long enough.

They actually consider people being driven to a psychotic break as something expectable and a sign of success. Because everything is a “choice” the system itself cannot be criticized. It should therefore follow that the system cannot get credit…

Now sometimes I think I must be on drugs only to realize, no, this is what it feels like to not be in fight/flight/freeze. Normal people don’t need drugs to feel this way.

This is healing.

SJW: Respect v Compassion

The Latin root of condescension
Means we all sink.

Seamus Heaney

University campuses have some interesting debates on free speech currently. Jordan B Peterson has some very interesting comments on the mother figure and how it has corrupted intellectual freedom, resiliency and free speech. He mentions the over-valuing of compassion. I was reminded of this based on a recent email. I asked for respect and accountability, not compassion. I was offered the opposite. Compassion and paternalism without respect is the surest way to guarantee that a person will not become resilient. So compassion offered up from those who continue to ban me from the leadership/diversity forum is not requested–it is condescension. Indeed, from those who specifically stated that I have nothing to offer.

I will come back to this notion of the mother figure, the over-valueing of compassion and de-valueing of respect, with reference to Jordan B Peterson at a later date. And yes, I am aware that I will lose respect from SJWs by respecting Jordan B Peterson and what he has to offer in terms of the psychological literature. On the surface it may appear that my complaints most align with SJWs. However, they are much more the opposite. The mother-victim dynamic is held as virtue in the SJW world. Those advocating for free speech are concerned with respect and accountability. And there are people who have much to gain from me being in the role of the child to be emotionally supported, and not that my intellectual and ethical comments have any value in themselves. It terrifies me greatly that there is talk of a new work/study to train more young people to become good followers.

But in case it hasn’t been clear thus far: I have requested respect, accountability, and a public forum. Not your emotional support. I am sorry if that hasn’t been clear yet. This also relates to previous research on emotional over-involvement. See post and/or podcast on The Problem With The Solution. It also relates to the Axis of Likability–a similar red herring. Okay, it relates to everything. Jordan B Peterson probably wouldn’t like the way I have altered the hero archetype but both hero and mother can be equally corrupt–often in an identical format. Always offering up followership–never personal worth and intellectual freedom. I risk a lot by not aligning myself with SJWs. I am aware of this. However, I am not about to give up my integrity now–I have lost too much already for it.

-inadequate follower

PS I was originally going to post more of the Seamus Heaney quote,

On your way up, show consideration
To the ones you meet on their way down.
The Latin root of condescension
Means we all sink.

but then I realized that I had the equation backwards in regards to who is on their way up and who is on their way down. I don’t necessarily want it to be that way. Criticism can be a life jacket. Criticism can be water. Criticism can be anything you are willing to take from it.

Update

Every utopia – let’s just stick with the literary ones – faces the same problem: What do you do with the people who don’t fit in?
Margaret Atwood

Just a brief update…

They will not give me a 2nd meeting

They will not acknowledge harm done or any of my experiences

I’m still banned from the diversity discussion

Man I thought the ethics course was ironic!

I cannot explain to outsiders what it is to have so much empathy without any morality. Beliefs cause this. One would easily contradict it by pointing out cases where morality is important. If only beliefs were rational!

It is basically chess. All of their moves are to protect those with power or the beliefs themselves. Suggesting huge doubt. Beliefs held with confidence need not be protected.

And I’m struggling like hell to get my life back. No one even hands me a life jacket. One day I know I’ll say I’m a better writer or person for it. That day is forever away. Forever and a day.

Empowerment

I thought it was time for a reminder that there is another way. Here are the 16 Steps of Empowerment. Designed for addiction but can apply more generally. Empowerment rather than followership. Because I accomplished safety and health in rehab, I know it’s possible. However many years ago… I have gone through my rehab binder. A breath of fresh air! Self-affirming language, language of resiliency… Grounding over catharsis, self-acceptance over insults, creativity over scripts, personal power over followers/leaders, coping strategies over saviours… Resiliency and boundaries over roles. 

Perhaps the purposes of shadows and fantasies are that we need to have some unknown. Zizek states that the worst thing that can happen is for fantasies to come true. Their power and meaning lies in being unreachable. In focussing so much on the darkness and the void, we miss what’s right in front of us and the pleasure of just being grounded in the moment. Of just being alive. Simple words like resiliency and empowerment are a different sort of water. I forgot how thirsty I was. 

The 16-Steps

We affirm we have the power to take charge of our lives and stop being dependent on substances or other people for our self-esteem and security.

Alternative: We admit/acknowledge we are out of control with/powerless over ________ yet have the power to take charge of our lives and stop being dependent on substances or other people for our self-esteem and security.

We come to believe that God/Goddess/Universe/Great Spirit/Higher Power awakens the healing wisdom within us when we open ourselves to the power.

We make a decision to become our authentic selves and trust in the healing power of the truth.

We examine our beliefs, addictions and dependent behavior in the context of living in a hierarchical, patriarchal culture.

We share with another person and the Universe all those things inside of us for which we feel shame and guilt.

We affirm and enjoy our intelligence, strengths and creativity, remembering not to hide these qualities from ourselves and others.

We become willing to let go of shame, guilt, and any behavior that keeps us from loving ourselves and others.

We make a list of people we have harmed and people who have harmed us, and take steps to clear out negative energy by making amends and sharing our grievances in a respectful way.

We express love and gratitude to others and increasingly appreciate the wonder of life and the blessings we do have.

We learn to trust our reality and daily affirm that we see what we see, we know what we know and we feel what we feel.

We promptly admit to mistakes and make amends when appropriate, but we do not say we are sorry for things we have not done and we do not cover up, analyze, or take responsibility for the shortcomings of others.

We seek out situations, jobs, and people who affirm our intelligence, perceptions and self-worth and avoid situations or people who are hurtful, harmful, or demeaning to us.

We take steps to heal our physical bodies, organize our lives, reduce stress, and have fun.

We seek to find our inward calling, and develop the will and wisdom to follow it.

We accept the ups and downs of life as natural events that can be used as lessons for our growth.

We grow in awareness that we are sacred beings, interrelated with all living things, and we contribute to restoring peace and balance on the planet.