Emotional Boot Camp

Damn, Bitcoin is making a little bull run.  I love seeing that banks and investment firms are integrating cryptos, more and more, as they struggle to remain relevant after initially rolling their eyes about crypto as an emerging store of wealth.  JP Morgan, you know, said they’d fire any employee caught buying or trading cryptos, and now of course they’ve rolled out their own alt, the JPM coin.  Cucks.

My boyfriend had lunch yesterday with one of his historically sober friends who has been off in the weeds — the marshy rotten weeds — for months.  The friend was with his dad and they were on their way to a treatment center in Colorado.  There are people I’d like to see, and maybe I will, but I have that classic introvert’s problem of wanting a long stretch of uncommitted time before I get bored enough to tolerate the imposition of an actual commitment, where I actually have to leave the house at a certain time on a certain day.  I’m going to just relish my time, which is by no means all the way free, a while longer; being on call 24/7 makes it extra precious.

Maybe the biggest dilemma for me, for a long time, has been whether to be nomadic or domestic, as I’m strongly pulled by both.  Seth (an entity channeled by Jane Roberts, and transcribed by her husband, Robert Butts; archives kept at Yale) said that all probable realities, launched by thought, co-occur, including the one we experience as reality.  So to put it another way, there is a Hannah who lives in a motorhome, there is a Hannah who lives in a house, there is a Hannah who got snatched at age six by the pedophile — oh, I don’t think I blogged that story, I’ll do so in a moment — there is a Hannah who is living the highest possible expression of her values and abilities, and there is a Hannah who is living the most degraded impoverishment of her values and abilities, and everything in between.  That’s the idea.  And “I” don’t just stay glued to the rails of this iteration of me; I select myself up or down, by tiny increments, with my thinking and expecting, every moment of every day.  

What, in this context, represents “up” or “down”?  Just more-preferred-by-me versus less-preferred-by-me.  The beauty of the infinite variety of our universe is that no two people’s trajectory of most-preferred (or, for that matter, least-preferred) is the same.  Meaning, there’s no actual scarcity, in a universe of infinite expansion in all directions (driven by thought — God thinking us and us thinking out), and where thoughts become things, and where no two beings think or prefer in exactly the same way.  

“Thoughts become things” is a phrase with which most people have perhaps a passing familiarity, in at least a (usually) shallowly-accessed Law of Attraction sense (how do I manifest a new car?), but the sense I’m conveying (as absorbed from reading and resonating with Seth and others) has a finer point on it: nothing exists, anywhere, which was not, first, a thought.  A thought that gained momentum.  Nothing ever will exist, without existing first as thought.  All thoughts launch a new probable reality on some dimension, but not necessarily “our” dimension (which we’re individually self-selecting every moment of every day), so it’s our own alignment with the momentum added to that thought which determines our continued experience of it, either wanted or unwanted.

Apparently 99% of all people find this stuff excruciating and opaque, but I think it’s fascinating.  Not taking it for granted that our lives are an exercise in the refinement of thought seems crazy to me.  On our drive, the other day, Nick and I were marveling again at the gift of drug rehab and long-term sobriety, in his life.  He calls the experience “emotional boot camp”.  As the family’s premier drug addict, he was markedly less functional than his brothers, so much so that the inevitability of an early death was apparent to himself and everyone else.  Nick had been sent to emotional boot camp a number of times before, but he wasn’t ready, and also the drug treatment industry is amazingly corrupt.  Some of his worst stories are about conditions and circumstances within treatment facilities and halfway houses, in fact, and the predators and charlatans who run them.  In fact, his stories about the rehab in which he did, in fact, make his turnaround, shocked me simply from a poorly-run business with little daily integrity standpoint, but Nick blossomed anyway because, for one thing, he was ready (ie rock bottom), and for another, the program incorporated long stints in the outdoors — its main saving grace.  

Nick got sober, started lifting barbell along with his AA sponsor, and then rose up through the ranks of graduated second-class citizens running the joint, eventually facilitating meetings, interventions, and residential logistics in ways that were at some points illegal (charting on behalf of alphabetted therapists who never bothered to learn the software), but at all points wholly invested in the success of newer residents.  Paying it forward, it’s called.  In this capacity, his natural but long-dormant instincts towards tough-love mentorship flourished.  

The beauty of AA (distinguishable from “rehab” but I’m lumping some things together for brevity) is that it takes one to know one.  As committed addiction necessarily involves a high degree of skilled manipulation, people without an addiction history are like sheep to the slaughter when it comes to this terrain of multidimensional and near total dishonesty.  Addicts new to the program lie, lie, lie — they lie to others, they lie to themselves, they cop to some lies with shows of great remorse, in order to perpetuate other, deeper lies.  When Nick calls it “emotional boot camp”, he’s not only referring to the portion of the experience involving his own untangling, but perhaps even more specifically the time he spent helping others get untangled.  It was the highest possible level of the video game where you lovingly call bullshit.  Nick has been physically attacked by residents, obviously.      

I’ll tell you one thing right now, I couldn’t do it.  And there aren’t many things I say that about.  I would just be pre-exhausted and tell everyone, fine, go kill yourself.  It’s these guys (it was an all-male rehab — Nick is incensed about the things that happen in female rehabs — in fact his friend, that he had lunch with yesterday, just recently came from a place run by a guy who was fucking all the female residents) who are just moments from self annihilation at all times; who, like honeybadgers, are able to escape almost any enclosure, literally or symbolically, who are often very smart and have spent a lifetime directing their own intelligence in the erection of a worldview which renders the catastrophe of their own lives inevitable; who are miserable and want something different but feel helpless to their fate, and miss no opportunity to reconfirm this helplessness; who often come from wealthy families where money and prescription drugs were thrown at them in lieu of authenticity and relationship, from a very young age.  So on and so forth.  Nick had the raw skill set, refined over time, to wade into the nitty gritty of all this and, quite often, to extract an upstanding young man from its midst.  Nick’s friends are a study in wobble and equilibrium; someone’s always going off the deep end, to everyone’s dismay.  

So that’s why he calls it emotional boot camp, and short story long, he emerged from the totality of the experience markedly higher functioning than the baseline of his family of origin, formerly far above his reach.  In fact he spent so many years despairing of ever fitting in with them, not being a chronic source of worry and shame and disappointment, that his halcyon moment of achievement was almost over before it started.  He was like, “Wait — what?  That’s bullshit.  How are you guys all suffering in silence about x y z?  Why don’t you just cop to what’s really going on and work it out?”

Our tactical extraction of Milo from the basement was as far as we got, with that, and really the only thing that matters.  Everyone else had, and still has, a choice.  Milo didn’t.

So, pertinent to yesterday’s blog exploration of our times as the emotional dark ages (a phrase coined by Teal Swan), it’s no surprise that long term sober addicts are often our best examples of going from egregious short straws to magnificent long straws, in their tackling of real issues — the real issues stemming, always, from within, and solutions expanding in concentric circles outwards.  Thoughts become things.  

So on our drive, that’s what we were marveling about, and specifically about how it’s really that way for all of us.  Addicts have higher stakes with their minds, just as diabetics have higher stakes with their diets, and it’s kind of a gift.  But it’s a gift we all get to “enjoy” (lol) — we’re all here to refine our thinking and make it better.  We’re gifted (argh) with a thought universe that affords us perfect, chronic, utterly fair feedback on how we’re doing.  The Seth Material, for example, reminds us that no one’s contentment resembles anyone else’s contentment, just as no one’s misery resembles anyone else’s misery, upon close inspection, so there’s really nothing to achieve or fail at, except emotionally.  And the hollow trappings may fool everyone, but they don’t fool us, even when they do.  

So, on closing: the story of the pedophile, AKA how my brother probably saved my life when I was six.  I had forgotten all about this, but it rose to mind in light of my recent scrutiny of human trafficking as an apparently booming industry, and the underlying scourge of our civilization, connecting really all the other dots.

Half-way through my first-grade year of school, we moved to a new place, because that’s what we did like all the fucking time, per my dad’s oil field career.  We moved from a slightly larger town in Oklahoma, where all the kids were assholes, to a much smaller town, really a map dot, where all the kids were also assholes.  It’s amazing I’m able to care about child trafficking as much as I do, given that my entire experience of being a child among other children was that they were insufferable assholes.  Being an ethical vegetarian, who read a bunch of books, and didn’t go to church, in Oklahoma, in the 80’s was rough, I’ll just say.  So there we were, in this shithole town, and I finished first grade, and my brother finished fourth, and it was summer vacation.  Our dad was off at the oil patch for weeks at a time.  Our mother was very permissive, just letting us ramble around on our bikes or on foot, at will — if other kids had helicopter moms, ours was a…I don’t know, not any kind of aircraft at all.  Our mom was a stationary umbrella, let’s say, really wonderful to go back to, when she wasn’t collapsed under her own weight, but certainly not tracking our moves.  

So Abe and I ramble over to the abandoned school playground, on our bikes, and play tetherball for a while.  I’m an unsatisfying tetherball opponent for my brother, as he’s twice my height and twice as interested in tetherball.  The dual playgrounds are divided by a large red brick building.  “My” playground, for little kids, is over on the primary school side, involving a wooden ‘big toy’ slide/monkey bars/fort confabulation, plus tiny-person accoutrements such as plastic horsies on springs, see-saws, etc; Abe’s playground, on the elementary school side of the brick building, had the tetherball and a very sophisticated metal jungle gym, etc.  

Tiring of our mismatched game, I tell Abe I’m gonna play on the big toy, and he resumes punching out some killer moves on the tetherball.  So, I’m clambering around all by myself, and suddenly out of nowhere a man tells me hi.  He’s maybe in his twenties, muscular, wearing a tee shirt and, oddly for the summer, a black stocking cap with the edges rolled up.  His head looks maybe shaved, underneath.  No one was there before, so I’m mildly surprised, and I immediately know I’m not supposed to talk to strangers, but I’m also just a nice kid and totally unable to process, in this moment, how “stranger danger” applies to someone just telling me hi.  Of course I have no sense of context or skepticism because I’m six fucking years old.  

So I say “hi” and he engages me in conversation.  Pretty soon we’re sitting about six feet apart on the big toy and I’m thoroughly enjoying talking to him.  I’ve never had a conversation with an adult who wasn’t a parent or teacher before, without my mom there, and who wasn’t totally ignoring me or talking down to me.  I find that I rather like being spoken to directly, and asked about myself, rather than being sidelined as just a little kid.  It’s quite refreshing.  So I’m absorbed in this pleasant conversation and then startled again by the sudden appearance of my brother.  

“Hannah,” he says sharply, and he never says anything sharply so this is odd.  “Mom is expecting us home for dinner.”  We call our mom “Susan”, not “mom”, so that jangled, and we’ve never had a sit-down meal in our lives.  We’re basically, benignly feral, with our dad gone all the time — really the main organizing force in our lives — and we just eat when we’re hungry, usually while reading books, as a matter of course.  So this entire announcement was obviously code for “what the fuck is happening, let’s leave right now,” and I heard him loud and clear.  

I felt some regret, walking away from this nice, grown-up conversation where I was allowed to function in a way childhood hardly ever allowed me to function.  Abe seemed a little salty, but I don’t think it occurred to either of us to relate the story to our mom.  Probably we didn’t want to have our freedom limited.  And by the next time we saw our dad, we’d forgotten about it entirely.  

So, as you see, nothing happened.  In hindsight though, what the actual fuck was that guy doing, hanging out an abandoned playground, initiating conversation with a little girl specifically when she was out of line-of-sight of her older brother?  Who does that?  Even if he was harmless, a responsible and respectful adult would understand that the whole thing looks so shady, it’s just not done.  

Now, here’s the odd thing — I can’t entirely dislike him, even retrospectively, because — I don’t know, I’ve just always had this authenticity-meter, ever since I can remember.  He has to have been some kind of sick, but the conversation we had was real, energetically, even though I was so young and he initiated it for god-knows-what set of reasons.  I knew what it felt like to be placated and patronized — every kid does — and in some sense, despite everything, even after all these decades, I still feel an echo of how much I enjoyed that talk.  But the thing with abducting kids is that you can’t exactly return them, when you’re done.  And the thing with predators is that they have thoughts and feelings and an inner being, just like everyone else, however distorted it may have become over time.  What a strange experience to have had, and how lucky I am to have had my big brother there.  

We should have reported it.  But you just don’t think of those things, when you’re young.  And maybe he was just nice, but situationally tone deaf, guy.  

On to my day — good luck to us all, as we negotiate our various levels of emotional boot camp.                                   

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