Saturday 26 October 2013

Building a third life (trance, rage, and healing)

I've always been interested in "alternative" therapies. At various stages in my life, I've played with the idea to become a massage therapist, a homeopath, and a coach. I've done the coaching, obviously, and still do it at times for writers, if I can find the time. I guess it's an INFJ thing - according to my Meyer-Briggs personality type, I'm a "Counselor" and I like fixing people. It's also pretty good at "general people insight", which, I think, informs my fiction and means that, as a reader, I read for character far more than plot. Humans fascinate me.

The "people insight" hasn't stopped me from "buying into" a number of sociopaths, psychopaths and/or narcissists (of whom I've met three in my life, where I got to study their "burnt-earth" strategy very much up close), but it allows me to read patterns of behaviour both in myself and in others. And I get much better at recognizing sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists (or rather, people who I think are high on those spectra) before they hurt me and/or my friends. I'm certainly better at dealing with energy vampires and other people who try to feed on me in one way or another. I'm even starting to get an idea why they get predatory in the first place.

Now, it's kinda a truism that only fucked-up people feel drawn to fix other people, because in healing others, we heal ourselves. The "wounded healer" is a very powerful archetype at play here, as it draws me to heal the very thing that I've either overcome or am still working on. There's also a whole bevvy of implications about sympathetic healing (mirror neurons) and other stuff--but I know that few things unblock and lift me up like a "padawan" who overcomes a block or wraps up a book. Projection, maybe, or some deeper, energetic process. According to some models, the student is the teacher.

In any case, for the last two years or so, I've involved myself somewhat in the "alternative" scene, attending courses and lectures, some of which were mind-blowing. I had a phase like that as a teenager, too. I even worked on a tarot hotline and helped a few people there, though that was a very draining experience. These days, I could help the difficult cases, but back then, I was unequipped to deal with some of the stuff people gave me, so I stopped and did other work, even though I was (am) pretty good. I also studied archetypes and psychology (Jungian, mostly) and, of course mythic structures (Campbell), which both very heavily inform my writing (though I'm sometimes surprised just where and how they show up).

So, in a way, all the "mythic" stuff I've been doing, I've done pretty much since I can remember, so 30+ years, but it's only recently coming together in a unifying model I can apply to the world. I still have quite a bit of studying to do, but the path is getting clearer. You see, writing is a highly complex, highly spiritual, psychological and energetic process - all creation is. I've likened it several times already to the shamanic journey, and I stand by that. The more I understand, the clearer it becomes. I think there are solutions for artists who get stuck somewhere along the line, and I'm digging for those. Artists are my "tribe", as are trans* people, who have different issues and challenges. Both have the big struggle about authenticity, trauma and anxiety. There's a primal wound at the core of all of us. In much of my writing, I stare at that wound and prod it, trying to fix it. I'm getting closer to fixing it, too. Or at least bandage it properly so it can heal.

I think it might make sense to study some things to bring all my small splinters of insight together, so over the next few years, I'm planning to learn hypnotherapy (I've enrolled for end-November), NLP (Grinder's approach, Bandler seems more mechanistic), Reiki, sports massage (from May) and acupuncture (from 2015). All of those feel like places I should go and they seem complementary, trying to achieve roughly the same thing but using different models or paradigms. I've already acquired a couple levels of ENLP, Progressive TFT (I'm taught by Kevin Laye, who built it), and the idea is to become a professional change worker and help people fix themselves - which I'm enjoying although my toolbox is still fairly small and I'm mostly focusing now on getting more equipment so I can fix more stuff and can apply a paradigm that works on the "client".

So I'm looking at switching careers eventually and practice all of those, plus writing. Mostly, because I think there's much bigger need for that than for corporate editing, and I think I might be happier in that space. Money isn't that much of a consideration - though it'll be nice to make a few bucks to pay for the courses. I might even be able to achieve all of that over the next 5-7 years.

From that position, whether I stay at my current place or take the other job if it's offered (I've moved forward into the second round of interviews and expect to get an invite to the second round this week - scrap that, I fully expect to be offered the job) doesn't actually matter. In the medium term, I'm going somewhere totally different. It's a weird place; freelancing always is, I guess. It's a space populated with a lot of unscrupulous people and downright crooks.

On the other hand, I've seen the stuff actually work and make a meaningful difference. It's working on me. I had one of my infamous rages at GRL -- something happened that threw me off entirely and I went into the berserk place where I'm perfectly capable of being a physical danger to people. I've inherited the rage from both sides of the family, but mostly from my father, a mean, violent alcoholic.

Normally, nothing can break me out of a rage. Nothing makes a lick of difference. Not "walking it off", not "breathing", not "calm down, you!". I just close down. Horns lowered, ready to gore. I have a "rage" maybe every two years, so they are reasonably rare.

This one, I studied and actually examined the structure of it. It's a place that's surprisingly cold. I can't be reached from the outside. Trying to hold me back only fires it (I call them Berserkergang for a reason). It's a high energy place, though, and a bit of a rush. Holding the thought in my head to beat somebody to a pulp with a chair, for example, feels like a totally rational, even necessary, response to whatever the person did who triggered me. It's an enjoyable thought. Everything around me becomes a potential weapon. It's a huge shift in how I perceive the world and people. And if that sounds familiar, that's because I've used the experience to fuel my characters. Several of them would nod if they could read this. They have it too, and deal with it in their way.

In short, it's a pretty frightening place and the closest I come to insanity. While I enjoy it on some primal level, it scares me on another and I don't want to do it. It's not the very clear, very beautiful place I went to when I was practicing martial arts or fencing. There's nothing playful or cooperative about it (none of Aikido's "firm, but gentle" approach). As much as I enjoy the dark rush (I assume it's just adrenaline, but a LOT of it) I can stop myself, but only if I remove myself from the scene and stay away for a long time until I've found a way to burn it off in some way. Exercise can help.

Let's say, at GRL that would have meant to lock myself away at a point in time when that really wasn't an option. So I used everything I had--ENLP, trance work, and lots, and lots of PTFT. I managed to downshift myself from murderous rage to almost asleep in less than twenty minutes, and it left me balanced for the rest of the day, and hopefully being nice and gracious to my readers and other people for hours and hours. None of that acidic sense of forced restraint. I just switched it off and removed it.

Now, that's a huge change. A huge shift, actually, kicking me out of it without so much suppression and more draining/purging of that dark, spiky energy (which wasn't mine in the first place). It's the first time that I resolved the rage rather than a) let it out or b) remove myself. Instead, I changed it and had a good time afterwards. So, yeah, it works for me. Trancing it out was actually really good fun.

Another big construction site was my sugar addiction, which my teacher resolved with thirty seconds of PTFT. I've been "clean" for 6 weeks now and have lost a solid five kilos because I don't eat sweet stuff anymore. I don't want it, I don't crave it, my guilty "I must have it" changed into "why would I want to eat/drink that?" I don't over-eat anymore (apart from two pizzas at GRL). I can switch that urge off entirely and increase my overall energy level at will, without sugar or coffee. It's a level of emotional freedom that opens up totally new possibilities and demolished some of my negative habits that kept me overweight.

Funnily enough, having access to those emotional switches did have an impact on my productivity. The obsessive "must write, must write" thing is gone, so I'm less productive. On the other hand, I'm working on managing my personal blocks much better, so I think in the long run, it'll normalise. I think the hypnotherapy course I'm doing at the end of November might give me the missing piece. The teacher posits that all reading is done in a state of trance (the whole "I fell into that book and felt it all!" now makes sense, doesn't it?). We get tranced by TV, plays, cinema, books.

Now, I asked him if writing and hitting the flow is trancing, too. He confirmed that. (Which makes sense, because I do my best, most effortless writing without the brain. So I achieve trance in writing.) I'm doing the course mostly to be able to induce myself for the purpose of writing, to see if I can make the experience for my readers better, and to help other writers to achieve trance. I'm also a trance junkie. I effing love it. It's my preferred state. Being able to go there at will and putting other people there sounds amazing. And it's a cool place, too, to affect positive change in people. (Random side note: I spent half the flight to Atlanta tranced out, thanks to my guided meditations on my iPod. Gods know what the stewardesses made of my half-asleep, possibly drooling, blissed-out state.)

So, yeah, the journey is fun. I'm certainly learning a lot about myself, and everything I learn as a direct impact on my writing. And if you ever meet me in person, I'll be happy to do a consultation. :) 

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