To Frau Kelly

An email, from Kelly, dated Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 6:01 PM.

It has been 10 days (typing now) from my last update regarding codependency and suicide,my response is this blog post.

Jason,
“[…]My continued wondering about being present in the moment, and ego[…].”

[…] On ego: could you […] please tell me what you mean when you talk about ‘ego’. I got the freshmen psychology Jung ego-superego-id lessons, although struggled then to truly grasp. Thinking your meaning differs and will give me deeper insight […]

[…] made some notes on Frau Gertrude (spelling). Will send from iPad. Yep, finally took time to properly read! Made some notes about ego as I was reading[…]

– Kelly

Kelly,

Regarding my ego and I, it has been as if Cain and Abel are trapped in a single body. A Janus personality not letting me feel comfortable traversing 3-dimensions. Why?

(I’m, at present, little concerned with Freud’s, “Id, Ego and Superego” ideas and more about the ego itself only.)

What is the ego?

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http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego

I am left to pick out two ideas from the above–

  • First is the idea of rationalizations. These are, definitionally, lies we tell to make ourselves feel better…
  • Second is the idea that the Ego makes decisions that are better for it’s personality in the long run rather than bringing and furthering anguish.

But– the ego is responsible for all the anguish there ever was; there is no external enemy. This I feel and know to be true. I cannot expound enough on the methodology of Byron Katie; its effect, and affect, have been cathedrals of therapeutically opened doors for countless people.

And then there are connections… Katie’s methodology exposes the truth beneath, behind, above, between, below what our perceived anguish is. And where does the anguish come from?

According to Katie it comes from our story, our neural network, our connectome.

In other words; the world is a projection of our story. And it is all connected up there…

Thoughts that fire together, wire together.

Now let’s have a personal example…

Take something simple… Remembering that, “thoughts that fire together, wire together.

A combat boot rests next to me on my bedroom floor, I’m sitting, legs up, staring at my chalkboard.

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I immediately think of my late brother Ben Bloom. Why? He always wore combat boots and I, miss him often and terribly. There is thus a connection and we begin the neural network of Jason’s thoughts fired and galvanized together.

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Furthermore, combat boots remind me of Heather… A black clad and mascara sullen goth girl in high school, we shared an infatuation with each other, sometimes in was rough, others beautiful.

It is orientation I want her attention badly enough to hike up my shorts and put my boots on the desk.

It is May, 2001– high school graduation, my Mother refuses to attend.

Ben is my teenage years like drunk parallel lines arm around neck and stumbling into, careening against, the other. My teenage years are linked with heart ache, with love. My mother is abandonment as are many ex girlfriends.

So from a single boot we have the following…

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And what’s more is that each of these things now are connected to each other…

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And while this is base example, 11 thoughts wired still and chalk outlined together; it is not nearly complete. The story is hundreds of thousands of these connections… Dynamic and unmappable.

[Tangential theory… I remember once having a random thought interrupt my current thinking. Like a tree lain down on the tracks ahead my train derailed into thinking something else. This happens to me a lot. Like an unconscious Edward De Bono-ian thought exercise of random word mind hacking. Acknowledging this behavior I grew annoyed with my own mind. But I quickly learned that this happens with all people. What if, like a bus right, a flight with layovers, a grocery store with many things to buy; our brain, when leaving a single thought must traverse, pass and give at least an inkling of contemplation to each thought passed? What if these are our “random interruptions? Just the brain passing all the stops it sees as necessary to acknowledge before it’s destination?]

We each have our schemas, our a priori, our judgements. And where do all of these come from?

Well, it’s simple really. Our Connectome, our neural network is a construct of all our schemas, a priori and value judgments.

And where have we garnered these? From our own subjective history.

I talked a bit about all the things I find beautiful that you may not- these are projections from our story.

Ok, now is where the snake swallows its tail, where the ouroboros can only begin to defecate itself back into its own mouth. Not quite unlike the ego does to us.

And so we are back again where we’ve began…

Our Connectome, our neural network is a construct of all our schemas, a priori and value judgments. And where have we garnered these? From our own subjective history.

So, then, who is our spokesman? Which Lorax speaks for the trees we have planted at birth?

I am the Ego, I speak for the story of this individual.

Why then, I wonder, does Freud suggest our ego attempts to make better in the long run what may become anguish? Were does anguish come from?

Who says these lines?

  • I can’t do it.
  • I might fail.
  • I am simply not good enough.
  • I have been here before, this is a mistake.
  • My mother never loved me.
  • All of this is my fault.
  • People don’t like me.

It is our spokesman talking. The head back voice, the every whisper that makes us believe that we’ve said it. Every voice you hear in your head is your ego thinking it knows what’s best for you. But the ego isn’t us. Not when we become conscious of it.

And I am not alone on this…

(Insert slew of relatable quotes…)

“The greatest con, that he ever pulled was making you believe that he was you.”
Guy Ritchie

“The ego is the worst confidence trickster we could ever figure… That we could ever imagine. Because… You don’t see it.”
Dr. Yoav Dattilo

“Wear your ego like a loose fitting garment.” – Siddhārtha Gautama

“And the single biggest con is– I am you.” – Dr. Steve C Hayes.

“The problem is that the ego hides in the last place you will ever look; within itself.” – Dr. Peter Fonagy.

“It disguises its thoughts as your thoughts, your feelings as your feelings, you thinks it’s you.” – Leonard Jacobson.

“Peoples needs to protect their own ego knows know bounds. They will lie, cheat, steal, kill. Do whatever it takes to maintain, what we call ego boundaries.” – Andrew Samuels P.H.D

“In religion, the ego manifests itself as the devil and, of course, no one realizes how smart the ego is because it created the devil so you can blame someone else […] there is no such thing as an external enemy. All perception of an enemy is a projection of the ego as the enemy.” – Deepak Chopra

“Your greatest enemy is your own inner perception, your ignorance, your own ego.” – Obadiah S Harris

And now, how do we live in the now? I always default to a Byron Katie quote here when I say that, “nothing before, or after, this moment is any of my business.”

Simply, don’t argue with reality.

This is all the fundamental basis for The Work really. Byron Katie uses what she calls a “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet. It allows you to access all the ego is hiding from you. All the problems it is projecting.

On my bedroom wall, I am reminded, through the Judge Your Neighbor work sheet to…

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And the only enemy, that I can tell, ever existed; is our own egos.

The last time I was in New Orleans, John and I spoke about this. I was convinced that the ego was my enemy, the only enemy there was!

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I’m uncertain, yet, if enemizing the ego is the way to go though. Or even correct. As of now, however, it makes sense.

John said it is, “simply a voice providing you with information you may learn from.”

But I’ll be damned if I don’t feel like Jake in the elevator scene in Guy Ritchie‘s movie…

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A scene, from which, I shall leave this note with…

In Nola, Pittsburgh and Oz. Sincerely yours,

Jason.

Ps. My first reaction to “enemizing” my ego came in the form of a warning to it.

A Caveat…

Before I crucify them,
bloodied, to lintels, and
agonizing, I drill
pilot holes in my beliefs.

A curtesy only, they are
least deserving of my
kindness. They stand less
a sacrifice than my own omen.

If ever, the savage, ego
were to pass by my home,
he’d take heed lest
he be perched among them.

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The Codependent Paradox part 1

You really don’t think suicide is a selfish act?

She asked…

I left work at 4:45pm that day. I stood at the bus stop outside of school waiting for the 14 down Ohio River Blvd.

It was 21 degrees out, and may as well have been inside as well when I spoke, pacing, from telephone pole to sewer grate waiting for the $2.25 ride home…

(Is anyone aware of an HTML code to indicate internal voice? Or is it simply the parenthetical aside indicative of a fourth wall break wherein this case the wall is egoic?)

(Suicide is a selfish act.) I, parenthetically, voiced inward…

I doth protest too much, methinks.

Methinks this makes me a hypocrite.

“Suicide is a selfish act.” Is an incomplete thought. It is an, at best, equivocal thought that provides us with a few paradoxes of choice, independence, codependence, definitions and projections or reality etc.

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dictionary.com

Huston… We have a mistake…

Suicide is a difficult subject to approach for all; first hand– I know this.

“Wherever you do not want to go is where you will find him, he is hiding behind your pain. Embrace your pain and you will win this game.” – Guy Ritchie, “Revolver.”

Suicide, as we’ve defined above, is the voluntary, independent, taking of ones own life. Or, if you prefer, etymologically it’s reduced to, “self killing.”

When I think, again, of the phrase; “suicide is a selfish act.” I am left, less, with the desire to define and understand suicide as a concept and more, rather, at understanding selfishness.

Now let’s complete the thought…

Suicide is a selfish act because the person committing suicide isn’t thinking about the feelings of those left behind.

What I’ve come to refer to as The Codependent Paradox. As Melody Beattie has been telling us for decades– we’re to be Codependent No More… And I agree with her.

But like an irresistible force paradox we are left with a conundrum.

A person who wishes to commit suicide is selfish because… Because it will hurt me and the loved ones they’ve surrounded themselves with. This sentence is inherently hypocritical and paradoxical and states a few conclusions…

  • 1.) If a person is to be codependent no more, then suicide, a free will, independent action, is an option.
  • 2.) Suicide is selfish because it makes my life more complicated is, quite possibly more selfish than suicide.

Katie is often quoted as saying some variation of, “I love you and, thus, why would I ever want for you what you do not want for yourself?

The Codependent Paradox is simply this… A person wishes to kill themselves but must think of how this will effect the living. What if suicide is the best option for the person? It is, however, their reality. Furthermore how can we love someone and respect their being without respecting their every choice?

I’m left with more thoughts than answers at the moment and will come back to the subject after I’ve spent more time with it.

Thoughts?

How I Learned to Love Byron Katie (Or, “How Reality is a Feedback Loop.”)

A little over two years ago, Blake Ragghianti

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…was sitting on my living room couch expounding on music, poetry, Jeff Buckley and, “oh,” he says to me, “get a piece of chalk and write this on your board… I’m not too certain about this yet,” he adds, “but I believe there is something there. So write down these four questions, we need to think about them…”

  • Is it true?
  • Is it absolutely true?
  • How do you feel about it?
  • Who would you be without it?
  • Turn it around.

That’s it?” I asked him.

Yes, well,” he stammered, “I believe so, I’m not sure that’s all of it though.

What Blake was referring to was his recent discovery of the methodology of Byron Katie; simply entitled, “The Work.” It was a methodology that he would soon perfect, a methodology that he would attempt to get certified in. As far as I am concerned, his mastery of the questions is certification enough for me.

Who is Byron Katie?

Besides someone who looks like she’s about to try and sell you an arthritis bracelet…

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Many sources give her the label of a “spontaneously enlightened being.” This is something that I don’t agree with entirely; which is to say that it is something that I do not entirely disagree with. Recalling the story from memory now—Katie was in a massive state of depression for much of her life and as she lay on her bedroom floor (for she felt undeserving of a bed) she realized suddenly that nothing that she believed was true.

Is this true? That everything we believe isn’t true?

Uncertain.

I know that what I believe is absolutely a product of my, and only my, what they call, connectome.

[For an interesting and poignant video on what a connectome is I refer you to a Ted.com lecture featuring Sebastian Seung called, “I am my connectome.”]

In other words I know that what I believe is a product of my subjective reality. My beliefs are a product of my story and mine alone.

I believe that the smell emanating from The Original French Market Restaurant at the corner of St. Philip and Decatur Street in New Orleans is in the top 3 most beautiful things I have ever smelled. My friend Kelly adamantly disagrees with me.

Does this make this a beautiful smell or not?

A person walks into a room and tells a joke. Simultaneously I laugh and Kelly does not. Is the joke teller a funny person?

I believe that a Sage and Gin Gimlet is a delicate and sensual libation that shakes me upside down with a single sip. Would Kelly think so? Does this make this drink a perfect drink?

I could listen to Al Bowlly for hours on end. Does this make him a good musician?

I believe that, again, my beliefs are a product of my history, my story.

This is the basic foundation of Byron Katie’s work. Because, if your beliefs really are only a product of your story then what you have are a myriad projections onto the world around you. And, accordingly, the world around you will reflect who you truly are. The world around you will reflect your story always, all ways.

In other words – everything is a cloud.

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(What do you see?)

And if the world reflects who you truly are, if everything is truly a projection then we create our own reality.

Byron Katie’s questions are a means to accessing peace for the troubled times. For, as she states, when our beliefs are leading us on an exciting and beautiful path they don’t need the Work. Why? Because they are, “already working for us.”

Let’s try an example here then. A deliberate example. Something I have wanted to work on for a while now.

My mother should not have committed suicide…

Yes, that’ll do just fine for an example.

(Those questions that Blake had me write on my chalkboard weren’t exactly right. And though I will be working through an example of the questions right now, you can directly download instructions from Byron Katie’s website here or here.)

Is that true?

The only way something shouldn’t be happening is if it isn’t. The only way something should not have happened is if it didn’t. Otherwise I would be simply arguing with reality and I’m not that arrogant.

How do you think, feel and react when you believe the thought, “my mother should not have committed suicide,” and she still isn’t alive? She still did commit suicide?

I miss her, a lot and often. It’s one thing to have to mourn the loss of a person, it’s an entirely other thing to mourn the loss of a future with them. I feel a sense of anguish, shame, guilt, fear, anger, depression when I think about her committing suicide instead of getting help. I’m angry that she didn’t call me or call someone. I’m just fucking hurt.

And who would you be without this thought? Imagine your mother, she’s passed away and you are incapable of thinking the thought, “ she shouldn’t have committed suicide?” Who are you and what is your relationship to her now? Who is she now?

I am still me. I am living my life, existing. Still attempting to follow my excitements and joys. When I think of her without this thought… Without this thought I respect that she is passed. Without this thought I am ok with her being gone. Without this thought I am living in the present and excited for tomorrow. Without this thought, she is still very much alive in my heart.

At which point comes one of the self-contained epiphanies… It isn’t my mother’s suicide that is disturbing me, it is my thought concerning her suicide that is disturbing me.

Now, turn it around to the other…

My mother should have committed suicide…

Now provide at least 3 reasons why this is more true than the original statement.

  • She was wrestling with demons so much larger than her it was as if Cain and Abel were trapped inside of one body. A diagnosis of Manic Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, an extreme alcoholic, cocaine addict. Notwithstanding the 3 warrants out for her arrest.
  • She existed in a hell that only she could see and she was on a steady decline. She’d tried every therapist, every pill.
  • It was her life, and it is, as I believe, the ultimate act of free will to commit suicide.
  • She’s at peace. Even the Catholics changed their doctrine, “suicides” no longer go to hell. According to the Catholic church people no longer, “commit suicide,” but rather, “die from suicide,” as they would from any other disease because the suicide has had their mind taken by illness.
  • This list could extend much further I’m certain.

Now, turn it around to the self

I should not have committed suicide…

  • Because I am not my mother.
  • Because I believe in the 50% rule
  • Because I know the pain I have gone through, I know the pain that those living have gone through, I know what those people around me would feel if I did.
  • Because I know that life gets better all of the time. Regardless of depression or pain, I have seen many more happy days and exciting days that I have their opposites.

I certainly miss my mother, there is no question about this.

The point is, however, that Byron Katie’s method allows you to get to the core of the material that hurts you the most. You learn that your reality is a conglomeration of your projected beliefs and that when you are believing something negative– it isn’t true.

I’ve learned not to argue with reality, to “love what is,” to let go of that which is emotionally damaging. To keep what is emotionally healing and to learn from my past.

Every time I put something through, “The Work,” I’m given a unique perspective on myself and the world within which I project and live.

But then again…

Maybe none of that is true either…

“Hallowed be my Life, Part I.” (Or, what my mother wanted to title her book…)

She was born in 1953, a date I can’t remember.

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What she talked about her early years involved the minimum. Stories of abuse from her father. A repudiating mother. A time, a story, she told me time and again, “he came in when I was in the bathtub, belted me, water went everywhere.” The grandparents I knew were kind, caring and contradictory to my mother’s idea of them.

They came from a generation of workers, steel mill workers, engineers and cold, emotionless. My grandfather worked for Westinghouse. He was an inventor. Always, all ways, making something viz. a cement mixer from a metal trash can on a rotating motor, a pressurized air container, a welding machine the size of a shoe box.

The list goes like a truck of oranges unloading on a steep hill. His workshop, schematics for any and all things scribbled in pencil everywhere; like Zampanò’s apartment.

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A few year ago I found, in the blue crate, a child’s diary from when she was younger. It was everything typical. Which boy she was, or wanted to be, kissing. Which friend she’d lost to gossip. The thing is-

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– she wasn’t special.

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She was a teenage girl who wanted to fit in and fall in line with the popular crowd. She wanted to be noticed, noticeable, liked, entertained and full of laughs. The diary of hers stopped being written in in high school. And then the smiling stopped…

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The smiling of hers became encased in the reliquary of a dust footprint on the moon.

She’d known who Shirley was her entire life and was never told who she was. She’d known Judy too, but never who she was.

Coughing through the cigarette smoke pouring from her fathers fingers, July 20th, 1969- everything changed. Everything began it’s 34 year long deterioration.

I wonder if they never told her, would the switch inside her have lain dormant and untouched? Would her sickness have stayed sleeping like a panther unbothered, patient and waiting for its own death? Would I have ever been born? How am I so different from her when I so often feel the same terrors coursing through nerves and memories as she felt?

The Panther.
MZD

The panther paces.

Waiting reminds him that clarity is painful
but his pain is unreadable,
obscure, chiaroscuro to their human senses.

In time they will misread his gait,
his moon mad eyes,
the almost gentle way his tail caresses the bars.

In time they will mistake him
for something else–
without history,
without the shadow of being,
a creature without the penance of living.

They will read only his name.

They will be unable to perceive
what strangeness
lies beneath his patience.

Patience is the darkest side of power.

He is dark.
He is black.
He is exquisitely powerful.

He has made pain his lover
and hidden her completely.

Now he will never forget.

She will give birth to memories
they believe he has been broken of.

He smells the new rain,
tastes its change.

His claw skates along
the cold floor.

Love curled up and died
on such a floor.

He blinks.
Clarity improves.

He hears other creatures scream and fade.
But silence is his.

He knows.

In time the gates will open.
In time his heart will open.

Then the shadows will bleed
and the locks will break.