Roots of Faith?

I know in my mind and have faith in my heart that Jesus was born, died, and rose in triumph over sin that I may have eternal salvation.  I also know in my mind and have faith in my heart that God is active in my life every moment of every day.

Yet, my active involvement in my faith has changed.  I can attach this change to my starting medication to address the hallucinations I have and the depression I battle.

This brings into mind a question: 

What, if any, link exists between psychometric drugs and faith?

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

My first reaction was there is no connection between psychometric drugs and faith, after all my belief in Christ as Lord and Savior remains solidly planted in my heart and mind.  But that’s not what changed.  So I needed to look more closely at what I felt had changed, that is, my active involvement in my faith; those things that bring faith into practice as praise and worship.

I feel I still live as a Christian – loving God with all my heart, soul and mind and loving my neighbor as myself.  (Mark 12:30-31)

I’m still attending church and singing in the choir.  But… other things I used to do like praying the rosary, reading the bible, and privately praying three times daily have turned into occasional activities.  Also, participation in the choir has turned into work and no longer fulfills me. (I must add here that there are also other issues with choir that feed my ambivalence.)

To answer the question of linkage between my medication and active participation in my faith I had to look at the roots of that which drives participation beyond attending church.

I feel I can eliminate the antidepressant as the cause of change.  I was once on antidepressants while on the street (outside this prison) and experienced a positive impact on practicing my faith by becoming more involved, not less.

Yet, what of the anti-hallucinogen?

I’ve learned, through work with psychologists, that hallucinations can spring from the part of the brain associated with creativity.  Once I learned that, it became easier to deal with those hallucinations the medication had not driven away.  But the implication is clear:  If the anti-hallucinogen quiets the creative center of the brain then how I see and feel and participate in my faith is indeed connected to the creative center in my brain.

This brings a new question:

Do I see negative impacts on other creative activates undertaken?

Absolutely YES!

My writing for this blog has become challenging and for my short stories has ceased altogether.  Also, the journaling I did on a regular basis has stopped.  Next, my passion around music has waned to the point that I don’t care to sing anymore.  Finally, and most importantly, I’ve found that I can no longer envision a future for myself once released from prison; from exile.

In summary then, all the creative activities that were alive in me have withered or died just as my active participation in my faith has also all but ended.

So a third question now arises: 

What role does the creative center of the brain play in one’s faith?

I once took the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) survey and scored 100% for both schizophrenia and delusional disorder.  I recall a fair number of questions around belief in an omnipotent entity (God).

Apparently, I’m not the first person to see a direct link between one’s faith and the workings of the mind – the creative mind.  The implication of that survey is that your faith is something manufactured by your mind as opposed to a belief, a knowing really, in an all-encompassing deity.  And aren’t hallucinations and delusional beliefs manufactured by the mind?

This suggests then that the part of the brain that creates hallucinations and delusional beliefs also creates faith, or at least some portion thereof.

It’s a scary thought really – that my faith is no more real than a short story written for pleasure.

Where does this leave me? 

With more questions than answers.

What to do?  I’ve decided to adopt an attitude of “just do it’ and renew, even if by habit, my participation in praying the rosary, thrice daily prayer times, and reading the bible daily.  My hope is that by doing these things as tasks I will rekindle the part of me that carried these actions as an integral part of my faith practice.

I’m curious.  I’d like to know if any of you that are on psychometric medication have seen a change in how your creative self manifests.  Am I alone in seeing a direct link between the creative center of the mind and faith?

I look forward to hearing from you.  ~jdoe

Sketches, Reflections of Father’s Day

“Who needs fathers?  We all do.  We especially need our Father in heaven, who forgives our parenting inadequacies for Jesus’ sake and who enables us each day with a fresh start.  Just as the loving father in Luke’s gospel welcomed home his lost son, our Father will one day welcome us into heaven together with all others who love and trust in Jesus.” 

~ Dr. Rodney Rathmann

My040 Sketches Reflections of Father's Day

This is jdoe’s lil-sis.

I have been reflecting and sketching out memories, thoughts.   Sparked by father’s day and receiving the most recent blog written by my brother (to be posted next time).  The blog post talks about the impact jdoe’s illness and medication has had on him recently – and in it he talks about having lost his ability to see his future.

The quote that ended jdoe’s last post, and opens mine asks “Who needs fathers?” … We all need fathers.  Our earthly father that God blessed us with, and our Heavenly Father God.

We lost our father earlier this year, so the months that have followed have found us with twisted heart when we read a card or letter from our Mom, now only signed ‘love Mom.’  Or the fact that we didn’t have to shop and send a father’s day card.  Our father for many years prior to his passing was locked in a prison of his own;  one that left him unable to walk, remember, and eventually talk.  For several years Dad was ever there, but darkening – his sun was setting.  This relationship we had with our father is not unlike the relationship my brother now has with his children.  My brother is locked in exile, physically removed from day to day family life and restricted in communication.  Yet, there is a fundamental difference – he is still fully available, and has life to look forward to – a new dawn over the horizon.

I thought I’d write this week’s post, remind my brother jdoe of the vibrant future that lies in-front of him with a strong family that he helped to build.  Remind him of the person he is.

Do you remember these words, bro?  Below is from an excerpt from an email I sent my brother a couple years back – I’d like to focus on the “Father” in him…

I thought about you a lot today.  And I was thinking, I cannot even start to imagine what it feels like to walk in your shoes.  All the feelings and experiences that lay behind you.  Looking out over what looks like very rocky ground infront of you. 

Then I started thinking about the man standing in those shoes, You, jdoe. 

This is the man I see standing in your shoes…

A devoted son, brother, friend, and father.  You have a deep well of love for family, friends, even strangers. 

A man that has raised four great children that have turned into wonderful, loving, hard working, respectful, fun, adults. You instilled family, just look how your kids like to be around each other. 

Your love for jane is deep and strong, obvious to anyone who sees the two of you together.  What an amazing example the two of you have set for your children and others.

Someone whom I, and others, look to for sound advice. 

Someone whom I, and others, can trust. 

You know what to say, and how to say it. 

Intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated to anything you put your head and heart into.  Through your daily demonstration, your children now also live these characteristics out.

Someone who has learned from his mistakes, and grown better from them.  Who now shares his experiences in hopes to help others.

You have a contagious smile and laugh, spreading joy and light.  Fun and playful, wise and thoughtful.

You are a talented artist, with cars, music, stories, painting rooms (lol), re-upholstering, well just about everything you touch.  You are willing to share your knowledge with those willing to learn.

You are thoughtful, tender and compassionate, strong and firm. 

A gentleman, kind and respectful.

Spiritual, believer.

Love Thou jdoe ~lilsis

Better Living Through Chemistry

Words.

They’re only words.

Groupings of letters in a particular order that provide a visual representation of what we want to communicate.  So why can’t I find the words to put down on paper.  In the past, I would write 15 to 50 pages a day!  Now – I struggle to complete a paragraph.

I feel bottle up.  I feel stymied.  I have writer’s block.  Why?

I believe it’s the medication.  And yet the medication is doing good things too.

Have the medications helped or hindered?

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On the plus side, I’m without hallucinations for the first time in over 48 years.  Also for the first time in over 38 years I don’t see suicide as a solution for my problems.  Yea medication!

Life without hallucinations is new for me really.  I used them to cope with the injuries of my past.  They were my unconscious’s representation of hurts I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, consciously deal with.  Without them I am forced to now deal with those hurts and develop healthy coping skills – and I am.

Life without suicidal thoughts is amazing.  I’m finding hope for the future and visualizing a future that goes beyond the end of the day.  My future goes on for years now.  It’s a strange, but good, feeling to want to see old age and all the adventures between today and the day I pass due to natural causes.

On the minus side, I feel like my creativity is stifled.  I’m having cognitive challenges that hinder my ability to write.  I find that the leveling of my emotions, that is the minimization of mood swings from high to low, has suffocated my motivation for not only writing but also such passions as reading and learning new things.

The emotion leveling has also impacted how I react in situations in which I should feel great joy or great sorrow.  I find I feel sorry to a greater degree than joy.  Maybe the antidepressant isn’t the right one for me or the wrong dosage.  Finding the right medications is a process and can be a lengthy effort.  But I feel it’s worth it.

Perhaps the down side issues will right themselves over time.  I’ve been on these medications now for about two months.  Maybe it will take a few more months to normalize my body’s chemistry and return to the writing whiz I was.  I miss my writing.  It’s a good, healthy, outlet for my mental stresses.  I find writing to also be a good place to work out emotional strains.  Consequently, I find myself easily upset over minor issues.  That’s not something I want in the ‘new’ me.

You might ask if I’d seek medications if I knew I’d find myself in this dry, arid, land of writing before taking the medications.  My answer is a definite yes.  I like being hallucination free.  I like not dwelling on suicide.  I like life for the first time in over four decades!  At times I feel young, clean, fresh and worthy of other people’s love and support.  What a wonderful set of emotions!

Would I recommend medication for others like me?  I’m no doctor but I would tell others to explore the possibilities with qualified professionals.  Life can be better for those living in their own personal prison of mental illness.  It was for me.

jdoe

Blessed In Exile

Here we are at the final installment for this series of postings.  It has been, for me, an arduous task of writing about very difficult topics.  My plate of spaghetti has many other strands that I have to chew through in my healing process, but after today we can sop up the sauce of this topic, as I have forgiven and moved on. 

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Finally, I imploded and pursued illegal pornography.

It may be hard to believe but for me, my case is a blessing.  

There is joy in the tribulation.

How can I say that when I’ve left my wife to deal with life all alone?  It opened the door for me to get the help I needed, still need.  I do not recommend my path as the path to healing but if it hadn’t happened I’m sure I’d be dead today due to suicide.  Sounds dramatic but it’s true.  And sad.

Help for me came from a talented and competent psychologist well trained in sexual recovery as well as addiction.  I have to admit that admitting I was an addict and hearing the diagnoses of PTSD, Delusional Disorder, and Dissociative Disorder was scary because it also meant out of control psychologically.  Yet once I knew what was wrong I could face it head on and use my intellect in a healthy, productive way.  The thing I valued most had a different purpose: uncover and heal verses cover up and hurt.  Another blessing!

Where am I today? 

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I’m proud to say I’m a rehabilitated addict.  I’ll always be an addict – that’s the nature of the beast, the monkey, yet it’s under control for the first time in over 45 years.  You might say, “of course it is, you’re in prison,” but I assure you that pornography is readily available and cheap.  I see today the horror in addiction and use and in fact its very existence.  I read of younger and younger (children!) people viewing it on the internet and so developing ill-defined views/beliefs/perspectives on human sexuality and intimacy.  It is a scourge.

As for addressing the hurts of my childhood, I feel I’ve done pretty much what I can.  There are no answers for all the ‘why’ questions.  The relative that abused me is gone yet I still love and miss them – I hold no ill feelings.  I do however have a new understanding of their role in my life.  Now I know them to be someone as broken as me, suffering their own hurts, who acted inappropriately and in so doing aiding, driving, my ill developed views and beliefs around human sexuality and intimacy.

My childhood was far from normal and holistically healthy in many measures.  That is not to say there weren’t times of true childhood though.  I had loving parents, siblings, fights, resentments, laughs, and healthy love.  Separating the good from the bad has not been easy but I believe I finally have.

What’s left? 

The PTSD, its associated depression, the hallucinations and much of the work to overcome and/or manage their effects.

What help is available in prison? 

Honestly, very little at my location and other non-medical locations.  Unless you’re horribly non-functioning and/or a danger to yourself and/or others you won’t get the help you really need.

They work to keep you stable, not heal. 

I’m blessed that the psychologist, Julie, I worked with outside is still working with me by letter while I’m here.  She is as committed to my full recovery as I am.  The challenge is in the trying to do this kind of work through writings with weeks between responses.  But I write.

I want out of the mental illness prison.  I do understand though that much of it is about management and understanding.  Recovery may mean I think differently and manage the left over.

I began my first medication in July of 2014.  It is a mood stabilizer to help with the suicidal thoughts and has helped some.  I also began my first medication for the hallucinations in August of this year, 2016.  I had to go off due to the side effects.  I began a second medication but it’s too early to judge effectiveness or side effects.  More to come.

I wonder what life without all the people, voices and noises will be like.  I wonder if I’ll feel more human or lost without them.  I do know they are all unhealthy coping mechanisms and I, like a child, have to learn appropriate and healthy coping mechanisms.

Can you teach a 53 year old dog new tricks? 

I’m committed but I wonder, am I capable? 

Time will tell. 

~ jdoe

Pasta For One, But Many To Feed

In Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti and Spaghetti … And A Few Meatballs you read about the history of sexual abuse I suffered as well as the initial mental illness.  Here you’ll read how that mental illness manifested itself and grew into my adult life.

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At age fifteen two new people became visible to me: Pam and Mr. Carhart.  I know today that Pam represents good and Mr. Carhart evil.  How do I know their positions?  Mr. Carhart appeared first and was instrumental in my first suicide attempt.  Pam appeared shortly after the attempt and stands between me and Mr. Carhart and comforts me.

Shortly after my second suicide attempt at age twenty a group of people became mostly visible.  They number seven and sit (3) and stand (4) in a misty haze.  All I can tell about them is they’re human but there is no level of facial/physical detail beyond that.  I can tell two are children, two are adolescents, and three are adults.  And I think they represent those three phases of growth for me.

By age twenty-one, I was dealing with a severe addiction to pornography, voices and noises inside my head, Pam, Mr. Carhart, and The Seven in The Mist as well as colors and patterns in my field of vision.  There were also three others who would make occasional, short appearances at times of extreme emotional crisis.  I was a mess and no one knew.

I told no one.

I kept it all to myself for many reasons – none healthy as I now know.  I was afraid of what it all might mean, the stigma and what might happen to me.  After all, haven’t we all seen what happens to ‘crazy’ people on TV and in the movies?!  Institutionalized and drugged!  I was also afraid of what it might mean for my mind.  I’m a pretty intelligent person and I’ve always valued my intellect.  It’s what kept me ‘sane’ and helped me achieve many things.   Of course it’s also what lead to my current place in exile.  My mind, my ego, said, “I can handle it all,” and for many years it did –  sort of.

I began to seriously break at age 48.  The repressed memories of the rape began to push from subconscious to conscious.  The images seemed so unreal and fantastical that I was convinced they were created out of my own addiction to porn.  How or when did I, a solid heterosexual, have a penis in my mouth?! And in my anus?!  It was too awful to be true.

I also started to have serious, more serious actually, issues in interpersonal relationships with my wife, family , friends and employees.  My work was suffering and I began planning suicide again.  I was a mess again and I told no one.

I told myself I could handle it all. 

I was wrong.

My hope – if anyone reading this has suffered as I did and/or deals with mental illness, you will heed my advice and get help. 

Do it today.  Do not wait.  Do not remain in that prison. 

Almost there, one more part.  Next I discuss my breakdown and how I ended up here in exile. ~ jdoe

Spaghetti … And A Few Meatballs

In part one of this posting, Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti, I wrote of being raped at age 5 by a boy of 14 and why I never revealed this horrible experience to my parents or any adult.  Here I’ll talk about the impacts of that decision … and the meatballs added to my bowl of spaghetti.

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Within several months of the attack I began to see a person.  He was a boy of about my age and he looked very much like Will Robinson of the Lost In Space TV series popular at the time.  The difference being however, the person I saw looked like he was made like the soap bubbles you blow from those plastic wands.  He was a clear, blue-ish, shiny looking boy with human features and as I said looked much like the actor Bill Mumy.  I called him Little Boy.  We would talk and play together and sometimes I’d do the mischievous things he suggested.   Like what?  Stealing nickels and dimes from Mom’s change to buy candy (it was a whole lot cheaper then) or getting out of bed to play.  Nothing too horrible but they were ‘his’ ideas.

Several times I spoke of Little Boy with my mother, even blaming him when caught taking those coins, and she spoke of imaginary friends; that they’re not real.  This assessment was even confirmed by both friends and a teacher at school when I spoke with them about Little Boy.  Yet he was as real to me as anyone reading this post!  Yes, he was transparent but we talked and played.  He was, unknown to my mom, more than an imaginary friend.  He was a coping mechanism, an outcome of the suppressed emotional trauma, and someone I could trust with me.

Little Boy was the beginning –

The first fruits –

Of my stepping into mental illness. 

And into a prison very different from the physical one in which I now reside.

When I was seven, a relative began to abuse me sexually.  It’s unbelievable I know that this would come independently of the rape in the barn but sadly, it’s true.  I trusted this person and loved them and they used these feelings to impose upon me.  They also used pornography (the roots of my addiction to pornography) to ‘teach’ me what to do – a pictorial ‘how to’ so to speak.  Through coercive acts and words they gained my ‘cooperation’ and I participated with fear and great anxiety.

I dealt with this in two ways: By relying more upon Little Boy and repressing memories of the sexual abuse.  Again, a chosen method for protecting myself; my psyche.  The repression started by ‘forgetting’ the rape in the barn.  I had no conscious  memory of that horrible event by the time I was eight.

My second step into mental illness.

Around the time I was eleven Little Boy left.  I was devastated by his abandonment.  I trusted and needed him.  Over that time, my growing from five to eleven, our conversations had changed.  Originally he was a playmate but over time he’d become a true confidant.

Little Boy’s departure led to my third step into mental illness –

The voices in my head.

It’s not clear to me how long after Little Boy’s exit the voices started but my belief is a few months.  There are two (yes, I still have them) and one is young (I perceive he is Little Boy) and the other is an adult male with a gravelly voice.  I have no idea who, if anyone in particular, he may represent.  What do they say?  It varies.  Sometimes they argue over what I should do next, sometimes they narrate what I’m doing, “He’s eating an apple,” for example, and often they tell me to kill myself.

When I was young I would speak with them much like I spoke with Little Boy but as I grew I began to live and act, mostly, independently of them.  I say mostly because I did attempt suicide twice but that’s another blog posting altogether except to say here that those attempts were due to the accumulations of lessons learned from messages of home dysfunctionalities and sexual abuse.  I believe we can now chew our last bits of the first strand of pasta by saying that the sexual relationship between my relative and me lasted until I was just over eighteen.

Hang in there!  Next I’ll talk about mental illness from my teens to about age 50… jdoe

Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti

As I prepared and had posted the writing on healing and prayer (It’s All About The Healing & The Healing Continues), I realized that such a posting might not make sense in its entirety unless I wrote and posted more about myself.  With that realization came a not so simple question:

Where do I begin?

Beginning is not easy because I will be making parts of my life, and my family’s lives, public for the first time.  Beginning is not easy because there is still pain.  Beginning is not easy because lives are convoluted and have intertwining threads of experiences, thoughts, emotions and so much more.  I imagine life to look like a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.  You can’t remove one strand of spaghetti without touching a dozen others and perhaps jostling a meatball or two.  So the question became: which strand first and how do I take the first bite?

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The longest bits of pasta in my life’s bowl are the ones that begin with the sexual abuse I suffered as a child and end with the ensuing mental illness I now battle.  Since one strand beget the other it only makes sense that my first bite is to share the experiences of my childhood.

Laying bare all that was wrong in my youth would imply there was no good, no loving and no hope.  This is simply not true.  It was always clear to me that my parents loved me and wanted what was in my best interest.  All my basic, and sometimes beyond, material needs were met.  Guidance in decision making was given when they knew it was needed.  Wounds were mended and discipline was meted out mostly fairly.  We were, by all outward appearances and most inward measures, the Brady Bunch Family.  Many of my friends would comment to that effect even in using the TV show’s idyllic family as the comparison.

Yet no family is perfect.  We had our dysfunctional issues like all families.  Some issues though would be less common than others and in these lay the foundation for secrets and hurt.  Secrets spawn secrets, drive decision making, and create alliances.  For example, there are family secrets to which all family members are privy and decisions around it are commonly understood even if all are not part of the decision making; or the matter is left unspoken and a common understanding exists.  Then there are the secrets within the formed alliances.  Examples of this could be those kept by the parents, who decide to keep them from the children, and those kept among the children, who decide to keep them from the parents.  Finally, there are those secrets held by each individual, who decide to keep them from everyone.  And for each dysfunctional issue this layering exists.  I believe this to be true of essentially all families.  It’s all then put under the cover of, “It’s our private business,” which it actually is; with all risks of damage ignored.

The issues arise when this all leads to lies among the family members themselves.  Some of those lies are by definition lies of omission and for me those fed into the sexual  abuse because it kept hidden from those who could have, and I’m certain would have, stopped the abuse – my parents.  They didn’t know until I was 51 years old, and they still wouldn’t know if not for the issue that sent me into exile here in prison.  I had no choice but to talk about it and release the lies and expose the truths.

So what are the truths?

When I was five years old our family went to visit my mother’s parents, who had a dairy farm.  I, as a city kid being raised in a suburban setting, thought the farm to be a wonderful place to spend a week or two each summer.

That year we all went to visit family friends of my grandparents, also dairy farmers.  It was while visiting this family that their fourteen year old son cornered my sister and me in the hay loft of their barn and he raped me in front of my sister.  [I believe he raped my sister later that same day, though I have no solid evidence to prove my belief.]

Did I or my sister scream while I was being attacked?  Sadly, no.

Why didn’t I scream?  During the attack I dissociated.  I didn’t even cry!  I fled mentally as I could not flee physically.  It’s how I kept my psyche safe.  Today I see the incident in my mind’s eye as a movie though I can indeed recall the pain and humiliation.

Why my sister didn’t scream or attempt to run away is not clear to me and never will be as she passed away more than a decade ago without our having ever discussed that day.

It’s incredible to think we could go our entire lives without discussing such a traumatic and horrific event but it’s true.

“Why?” you ask or maybe “How?” 

Remember I wrote of secrets being spawned by the dysfunctionalities of a family?  This was one secret my sister and I made a pact to keep the evening of the event.

Our reasons for not telling our parents are both simple and complex.  Within moments of the attack the boy was telling my sister and me how much trouble we’d be in if the adults ever found out.  He ‘explained’ how I had ‘participated’ and ‘wanted’ it to happen and he even used my silence during the attack as proof.  Fear and confusion began working to control me.  That’s the simple part.

The complex part is difficult to concisely put into words.  It’s all about the lessons you learn from your interpretations of messages sent while growing up.  My sister and I interpreted messages sent due to my father’s alcoholism as, “you’ll have to take care of yourselves sometimes.”  As well as messages sent due to the availability of pornography in our home as, “these acts are okay,” and, “the boundaries of privacy, modesty and personal space are blurry,” and, “people touch in very personal ways.”  When all of these things are combined in children from the very first memories they have the children form incorrect, even permanently damaged, views of parental roles and human sexuality.  And in this explanation I’ve really only scratched the surface!

So during the attack did my sister see what was happening to me as “normal” due to the images we’d seen in the magazines at home?  I’m not sure.  It’s in my heart though that she had no malice or ill intent in my mind by remaining still.  I believe it was in great part that she was as shocked and scared as I was.  I’ll never know as our pact remained until her death.

How did the pact come to be?  When visiting my grandparent’s farm my sister and I would share a bed in a room separate from our parents.  The night of the attack [attacks if I’m right that this boy raped my sister as well] we laid in bed and talked about the event in vague terms, the pain I felt, and in childhood terms how the boy was a ‘jerk’.  For the reasons I wrote earlier: lessons from messages sent due to the alcoholism and availability of pornography, as well as the boy’s words about our getting in trouble if we told, my sister and I agreed it would be our secret and we’d never talk of it again.  And from that night until her death, we didn’t.  Not once.

Now things become even more complex as we’ve not finished the first strand of pasta, and now we need to begin eating the second strand; that of the ensuing mental illness.  So I’ll combine the two issues – childhood sexual abuse and mental illness – into one narrative. Please come back as there’s more pasta in this bowl.    ~jdoe

It’s All About The Healing

I am mentally ill.  The roots of the mental illness I battle are in the sexual abuse I suffered as a child.  I am left with wounds.  Some are scarred over, some have scabs, and others are raw and open.

Over the years I developed poor, unhealthy coping mechanisms.  I chased the false idols of money, status, material belongings, and worst – pornography.  I attempted to use these false idols to avoid reality and heal the hurts of a childhood gone mad.  My subconscious gave me colors and patterns that cover all I see, voices and noises inside and outside my head and a host of people to see and interact with that simply are not there.  And physically I was left with seizures that have no diagnosis but the sexual abuse (there is info on this if you research the link between seizures and sexual abuse as a child).  But they all failed to provide what I needed, still need…

Healing. 

True Healing. 

Complete Healing. 

It’s all about the Healing.

I’m working on healing.  It is work.  You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise.  It is also a slow process.  Patience is required.  So are diligence and faith.

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My road to healing began the day I became aware there was an official investigation into my pursuit of illegal pornography.  What I couldn’t see that day, or for many days and months afterword, was how much of a blessing that scary day would turn out to be.  I know that sounds crazy since it lead to my incarceration but without that day my healing would never have been.  In fact, I believe I would be dead.

Suicide has been ever present in my life.  Attempt number one at age fifteen.  Attempt number two at age twenty.  Planned attempts at ages thirty, thirty five, forty eight, and fifty one.

Suicide was another coping mechanism for me to deal with all of the ‘stuff’ I’ve already written of: Hurts from my childhood, mental illness, hallucinations, self-worth and self-validation issues, and the false idols of money, status, material belongings and pornography.  I was a mess that fateful, scary day.

Healing requires that, like triage in an emergency room, you uncover the wound and examine it to see what damage has actually occurred.  You need the help of professionals for that.  You don’t perform open heart surgery in your kitchen, right?  So why should you attempt to fix your mental self while sitting alone in your family room?

When I took my first step on this road of healing I still travel, I looked around and saw that my professional for help came in the form of a highly competent psychologist named Julie.  At the time I did not see God or my faith as part of the healing journey.  I didn’t see God that way because my relationship with Him was superficial.  My relationship with God is so much deeper today.  My faith is real and significant.  Yet today I can say that I do not believe that a deeper relationship with God prior to that scary day would have changed the outcome I now live.

Why?

I was a mess and would have been that mess regardless of my faith or thoughts and feelings about God.  I would not have taken steps to heal.  God of course knew this and even though my attitude toward Him was casual in nature, His attitude toward me was Love.  God knew I needed to walk into, and one day out of, an effort to heal.

I can look back now and see how God lead me to Julie, a psychologist specially trained in exactly the type of help I need and then He blessed me with fifteen months of time for my work with her.  (Fifteen months from investigation start to my custody and jail.)  God knew I needed to go through that time and work with Julie and that without it I would go unchanged and very probably have taken my own life.

So often people say, “Pray for healing,” and “God has already put the power within you,” and “You’ve got to believe to have it happen,” as if prayer and faith alone will cure every issue.  When I was initially incarcerated I seriously considered suicide again.  I shared this with a former pastor with whom I shared a cell.  He said, “Pray on it and believe, you doubt too much.”  So I prayed – and nothing changed.  I was then put on suicide watch.

Let me be clear.  I am not saying prayer is a waste of time!  I say pray without ceasing!  But do I believe prayer and faith alone will always prevail?  Yes and no.

More to come next week…  jdoe

Part 2 is found here: The Healing Continues

Lost … Chains … Prison

My brother has been in a battle all his life with his mental illness, and most recently it has been winning.  It has drained him of any desire to write.

A photo by Luis Llerena. unsplash.com/photos/MZx2uowz-o0

There will be a new blog post next week, until then we discussed sharing a song that has touched us deeply.  Moved his soul, and has turned into a daily prayer.  May it move you in a similar way.

Chain Breaker  By: Zach Williams