trauma

Is CARA merely a thought balloon?

Posted on Updated on

image

This is a Call-Up to wake the frock up. We’ve been living in a dream world for too long.

The big news in treatment  and recovery world this month is the passage of CARA -which is the first response to the bloating prescription drug epidemic that has been the root of the 130-something opiate overdoses completely ignored (until now) by our quagmired puppeteer-driven DC leadership. 130-something Americans dying every day while our elected officials squabble about providing funding to address the epidemic. Their  solution  is to bare bones the effort, manage some photo-ops, then make a direct line to dive into the longest summer break in this century’s history. Meanwhile, the 130-something daily American overdose fatalities continue to pile up like floating refuse at a clogged street drain.

although CARA could be an affective first step in rerouting this insanity, it needs to be more than an image of a response to be effective. We need education and reframing on a systemic level if things are to change. This current thought bubble of an effort hardly stands a chance.

Fellow Americans- we need to take a long hard look at what our priorities and values are as a nation. It’s a great time to work for change. Stop calling ourselves Christian and while we ignore our neighbors dying.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate on March 10, 2016, by a vote of 94-1.

Brief Summary of Provisions of CARA

Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamines, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.
Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.
Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.
Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

 

Ring, ring, it’s 7:00 A.M.
Move yourself to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place
Knuckle merchants and your bankers too
Must get up and learn those rules
Weather man and the crazy chief
One says sun and one says sleet
A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too
Churnin’ out that boogaloo
Gets you up and it gets you out
But how long can you keep it up?
Gimme Honda, gimme Sony
So cheap and real phony
Hong Kong dollar, Indian cents
English pounds and Eskimo pence
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
Seen the ads, she thinks it’s nice
Better work…

 

take me to the river

Posted on Updated on

“When you come from the view that you’re fundamentally good rather than fundamentally flawed, as you see yourself speak or act out, as you see yourself repress, you will have a growing understanding that you’re not a bad person who needs to shape up but a good person with temporary, malleable habits that are causing you a lot of suffering. And then, in that spirit, you can become very familiar with these temporary but strongly embedded habits.”  ― Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change
“When you come from the view that you’re fundamentally good rather than fundamentally flawed, as you see yourself speak or act out, as you see yourself repress, you will have a growing understanding that you’re not a bad person who needs to shape up but a good person with temporary, malleable habits that are causing you a lot of suffering. And then, in that spirit, you can become very familiar with these temporary but strongly embedded habits.”
― Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

these last few weeks have provided me the opportunity to make room for some of my real nature to come into view. if only i could proclaim how wonderful i am. wouldn’t that be wonderful? it might be, but that’s not the case. what i have seen is how very human i am. how vulnerable to primal reaction and fear i am. and how my ” chasing shiny things behaviors” keep me caught in a whirlpool of mild chaos.

it is often a challenge not to throw the book at myself in judgement over all this. after all, i have spent most of my adult life feeling “less than” and standing on the outside looking in. recovery and spiritual practices have taught me to think differently and feel differently which is how i try to live most of the time. but  there are times when primal reactions emerge without warning and leave me standing clueless like a deer in some headlights trying to figure out what is happening and which direction i need to make a dash for.

this process i describe is my version of actuating emotional sobriety. old behaviors emerge and cause me to see life as in a rainstorm. emotional recovery involves time and patience to remember that who i was and how i was does not dictate who i am now. it is like using a wiper blade to better see the world with clarity.

attached to this cycle is the much more fragile self-forgiveness tangent. acceptance and forgiveness become  the fulcrum that growth and change teeter upon in my world. when i pray now, it is for the ability to zoom out of my life and make room for unexpected blessings to be seen.

welcome to my january in 2016.  i am grateful for your visit.

I don’t know why I love her like I do
All the changes you put me through
Take my money, my cigarettes
I haven’t seen the worst of it yet
I want to know that you’ll tell me
I love to stay
Take me to the river, drop me in the water
Take me to the river, dip me in the water
Washing me down, washing me down

I don’t know why you treat me so bad
Think of all the things we could have had
Love is an ocean that I can’t forget
My sweet sixteen I would never regret

I want to know that you’ll tell me
I love to stay
Take me to the river, drop me in the water
Push me in the river, dip me in the water
Washing me down, washing me

 

the day i stopped dancing

Posted on Updated on


image credit: ryan pfluger

(this post was originally published in 2007- 3 years into my recovery- i’ve worked through a lot of trauma and grief since then- but i still remember- and give thanks)

i am working on my thanksgiving post a bit early as i have a full day on thursday. i am supposed to jog with my buddy first thing in that morning, but it is also supposed to be very, very cold and i don’t know if i will make it. i am cooking a turkey for the rocky mountain roundup speaker/dinner, dropping it off, and going to my cousin and his partner’s home for my actual meal. my mom, aunt and uncle are going and they haven’t done a home dinner in the last few years. they have eaten out because they don’t have to cook or clean up after which makes some very good sense to me.

i am looking forward to the whole day, and i’m spending tomorrow night at my cousin’s house. i’m sure we’ll hear some of the same old stories that usually get told at family functions. we were a pretty close knit crew in illinois and that has carried over to most of us here. it’s not the same, but it’s very familiar and that is a blessing.

one of the stories i will not hear this year is my last thanksgiving in chicago. i am going to write about it here and hopefully the tale will unravel itself a bit differently than it has in the past. i have spun this yarn on a few occasions, but i have always kept the focus the part where i am the victim. and honestly, thanksgiving still is a challenging emotional trek because of the drama on this day. it really is the day i stopped dancing. the last day that is until i started channeling velvet- but that’s a tale for another day.

in 1985, i had gotten an apartment with my best friend paul the previous year. we had shopped and hunted for 3 months for that beautiful soon-to-be condo on logan blvd. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, full kitchen, dr, front and back balcony. it truly was stunning. but on the day we were moving in, paul was completely tuckered. i remember him sitting on the back of the rental truck, saying he just couldn’t move any boxes. He was exhausted. and before we finished, he insisted he go to the hospital. we complied, and he was admitted and was in the hospital for about a month.

i went to visit him in that place every day. the first couple of days, i donned a hospital gown, mask, and gloves, but soon decided to put them aside after that. i wasn’t going to be looking at him dressed like an alien, or like i was afraid to be near him. i wasn’t. i loved him. still do. and i wasn’t going to cause him any extra anxiety. i would bring him meals from some of our favorite restaurants. the hospital food sucked, of course, and i knew he needed to eat. we had a very pleasant time being food snobs in there and would laugh together and became closer, without ever really discussing the elephant in the room. i couldn’t go there emotionally.i now know it’s called denial, but then i thought of it as survival. i remember one day going to visit him, and finding him in his room alone, with a fever so high that his body was convulsing, jumping up and down on the bed with no assistance. it scared the shit out of me, watching him jerking up and down like darryl hannah losing life in blade runner. i left in horror and came back a couple of hours later, never speaking a word to him about what i had seen.

my drug use started to escalate after this. the cocaine use was incessant and i drank vodka to counteract the effects of the cocaine. numbing became my priority. this actually caused paul to move back in with his parents, and my friend robbie (foxy)moved in. poor fox- he had no clue as to the mess he was entering. but that’s another story.

fast forward to thanksgiving 1986. paul had been living with his family for a few months now. he had been in and out of the hospital. i had invited about 8 friend over for a holiday feast. i spent all day preparing the food. turkey rubbed with butter and tamari, baked with apples, onions, and cranberries, stuffing, brussel sprouts, home-made cobbler, etc. as the day progressed, the weather took a turn for the worse. a thunderstorm took hold. one-by-one calls with cancellations started to come in. it had become dark outside, and the last call came from my friend blue. i think he really had waited until he absolutely knew he couldn’t get there. no cabs were running etc. i remember sitting at the head of the table, looking at the fitz and floyd and the crystal candle holders and feeling stunned. the phone then rang again, and it was paul’s brother on the phone. he wanted to let me know that paul had passed a few hours earlier that day. he had gone peacefully and was no longer suffering. i returned back to my seat and looking over the empty but well laid table, clutched my wine glass and took a big swig. a huge lightning bolt back lit the entire sky, was followed by an earsplitting crack of thunder, and the power in my apartment was knocked out. there i sat in the dark, and found myself feeling more alone and more confused than i could remember. and i was a victim. and i had imprinted that pained mask onto myself and held it there for a good 20 years.

i have managed to let go of that branding i did. i honestly loved paul, and was completely a mess having lost him. i laughed so freely with him, and he understood so many things about me that i always felt shame around, and never did anything but expect me to succeed. we dined a lot, and we read a lot of books- mostly the classics, and the “gay” authors. we participated in salons of a sort with a few other friends, and would drink wine and read aloud from books like “To The Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf, “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, and my favorite “Orlando” by Woolf as well. We talked about Vita Sackville West and Virginia, about Paul Bowles and his entourage, Kerouac and his mary-men lol, Stein, Toklas, and the ex-pats….

today, i am thankful i have let go of that old albatross that was choking me through the years. i have moved on to another perception of that time and that day. i am not frozen, i am living and participating again. i am again among the living, and am not in the throes of the walking wounded. i can celebrate today without anesthetizing. i can struggle and maintain. i can look forward and think of a future in practical terms, in lieu of living in a fantasy and only seeing the future as a sparkling illusion. i am so very glad paul was in my life. i am so blessed that he saw me for exactly who i was and loved me because of it. this is something that will never be replaced. and something that will never be lost.

today i see that life is a banquet, and i spent way too much time
starving myself. there is more to life than one singular sensation.

battle flag

Posted on Updated on

the past is catching up no escape from this mental hell reliving it again.... ptsd haiku
the past is catching up
no escape from this mental hell
reliving it again…. ptsd haiku

When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize.  The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell.  In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable.  Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.  The very first noble truth of Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last – that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security.  From this point of view, the only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land.  We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep.  Right now – in the very instant of groundlessness – is the seed of taking care of those who need our care of discovering our goodness… 

Life is a good teacher and a good friend.  Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.  Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about.  The off-centre, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit.  It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.

To stay with that shakiness – to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge – that is the path of true awakening.  Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – that is the spiritual path.  Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gentling and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior…”

i am emerging from another bout, albeit minimal, of the resurgence of a tidal wave of memory. it’s really astonishing how very technicolor and widescreen trauma can be.

thank you universe for allowing me the grace to remain upright after the whoosh of synapses.

Your construction
Smells of corruption
I manipulate to recreate
This air to ground saga
Gotta launder my karma

I said hallelujah to the sixteen loyal fans
You’ll get down on your mothafuckin’ knees
And it’s time for your sickness again
Come on and tell me what you need
Tell me what is making you bleed
We got two more minutes and
We gonna cut to what you need
So one of six so tell me
One do you want to live
And one of seven tell me
Is it time for your mothafuckin’ ass to give
Tell me is it time to get down on your mothafuckin’ knees
Tell me is it time to get down

I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
Suckin’ up, one last breath
Take a drag off of death

lo fidelity all stars… lyrics fisk/smith

epiphany

Posted on

Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.
Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things…Buddha

unless i’m mistaken, life has shown me a curious mental twist that i may inhabit. there is an underlying and primal urge to blow into the face of calm. this probably stems from a history of trauma and drama. mebbe i feel more at home with chaos than with serenity. this sounds insane. i understand however that this is a coping strategy. better to create chaos than fall into it while i am looking at the stars.

although depression is not the force majeur, i am now led to believe that it could be possible to rewrite the program. there is definitely an “ugh” beyond this “aha”. but beyond this “ugh” there is hope.

for this long term survivor, hope is not always in abundance. gratitude yes- hope- well not so much. the train has left the station is a mask i wear frequently. fear not here. there is no magic in this. i am naive, but not to the level that i might believe knowing a thing is the same at all as living and breathing a thing. i have to inhabit this idea of rewriting my emotional program now. for the last few years i have spent much time recognizing it- and some would say still working on it.

the break of dawn here is that moving forward may have opportunity. not just to recognize, but to galvanize and reappropriate and redistribute. hella lotta work. something worth working for, i’d say.

 

rewriting your emotional program (click here)

 

Well, I’m hiding my eyes from the morning sun
And I keep on working till the work is all done
But a voice in my head keeps ticking away
As the sweat’s hosed down from yet another day

Well, he works hard
And he lives hard
And he breaks his back without nothing to gain
While the boss man sits around and drinks champagne

All day
In life, there’s just one transition
All day
In life, there’s just one decision

Well, I’m peeling the blisters off a working hand
Is that what it takes to make you understand?
That it’s something you read, not something you meant
To be slaving away without a shred of integrity

He worked hard
Oh, and he lived hard
And he broke his back without nothing to say
While the man in control was just laughing away

All day
In life, there’s just one transition
All day
In life, there’s just one decision

In life, there’s just one transition

Was it something you read?
Was it something you meant?
Was it something you said?
Or was it Heaven sent?????

 … Al Jourgensen

 

remain in light

Posted on

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack  And you may find yourself in another part of the world  And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile  And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife  And you may ask yourself  Well...How did I get here?  Letting the days go by Let the water hold me down  Letting the days go by Water flowing underground  Into the blue again After the money's gone  Once in a lifetime Water flowing underground  And you may ask yourself  How do I work this?  And you may ask yourself  Where is that large automobile?  And you may tell yourself  This is not my beautiful house  And you may tell yourself  This is not my beautiful wife  Letting the days go by Let the water hold me down  Letting the days go by Water flowing underground  Into the blue again After the money's gone  Once in a lifetime Water flowing underground ..... talking heads
And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?
Letting the days go by
Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by
Water flowing underground
Into the blue again
After the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime
Water flowing underground
And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife
Letting the days go by
Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by
Water flowing underground
Into the blue again
After the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime
Water flowing underground ….. talking heads

 

happenstances come and go. encounters made and encounters fade. dreams appear and just as quickly some drift off. water keeps flowing underground and i try to keep on moving forward.

i met an extraordinary group of regular people this week in fairfield county connecticut. they underlined everything i believe about life and the journey that has chosen me. i certainly feel enriched and changed by this. but i also hope that my heart has opened because more than anything else i can identify, my heart is in the most dire need of support right now.

it occurred to me while i sat in a room full of these beautiful strangers that i am in the midst of a gargantuan shift. i have removed myself from the safe track i was on and placed myself in the unknown. i don’t know what is directly ahead for me. i have no idea what happens next week, tomorrow, or even later today.  and though i have faith in my process and i try to have faith in my own life, i am nudged repeatedly by events that test that faith. i was unable to focus enough when leaving for here to make my flight on time. i wrestled with the idea of continuing or stopping the journey while i waited with anticipation at the airport. i flew through a hellish thunderstorm to get her only to land hundreds of miles away and again had to modify my ground arrangements. my luggage (containing my sense of self) did not arrive until the night before the last day, causing me to create a new sense of me to present to my colleagues. i have felt a little more exposed and vulnerable and i have worked through feeling victimized.

i felt all these things and i have had to work at letting these feelings go. and in the process i shut down sometimes and got triggered sometimes and became impatient and fearful. this caused me to recoil and be less open. and this caused me hurt and brought shame back into view.

i have a clearer understanding how remaining open (my heart and mind) and letting go of unnecessary baggage are the lessons i take away from my training at ccar. this agenda is ongoing but has been highlighted by the circumstances of the week. somehow i drift into thinking that safety and planning will save me from myself, but they keep me from myself instead.

i am sad that it took me travelling all this way to understand more deeply how i need to look inward, but i am grateful too. with myself and with others i need to exercise empathy more, support self-efficacy of those in my life and myself, roll with resistance and develop discrepancy. i need to use all motivational interviewing  skills i already understand (and presented as part of my training) to bring myself closer to the world and not back away from it so easily or so often. what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

remember that this is not something we do just once or twice. Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening our heart is the work of a lifetime….. pema chodron