I am still working at trying to find ways to deal with what I have termed a psychological suicide attempt. I keep telling myself that if one is lucky to survive such attempts, there is the opportunity for recovery and healing.
After my pre-Christmas hospital stay, I arrived at a solution that I needed something new in therapy. I felt I needed new forms of expression, that I had outgrown the art and music and writing and now needed to focus on physical means of expression.
I find myself back in the hospital again prompted by a similar "attempt." The fact that I only managed to stay out of the hospital for three days has compelled me to take a close look inside.
On the surface, it seems that I am doing all the right things. So, it was natural for me to seek an additional tool or pursue a new direction.
I quite quickly found here that I had not at all outgrown art and music and writing as expressions that lead to learning and healing, but that I was doing them in an isolation of sorts. I would not at all go so far as to say I was merely going through the motions. But it has been something akin to that. I thought I could get all the healing benefits from what I used to do, but with significantly less effort. What made it hard for me was that it was rather easy to convince myself that there was no decrease at all in effort.
I will take my paper journals as an example. I have done art (and writing) in paper-based journals for years, but my output has dropped to nearly zero for well over a year. I had found a new tool. I used electronic system maps. Additionally, the monthly word counts in my private electronic journal began to jump significantly. Looking at this globally, the effort was merely shifted. But, really, what had found an easier way to work that gave me far less information and was far less helpful and far less healing.
My therapist brought me a couple of my older journals from a few years ago, and I was just immediately floored. The 120 pages in each were filled in a matter of weeks, with art, with statements, with dialog, questions, answers, pain, joy, anger. There was a huge amount of information and expression. Most of it was extremely hard to see and read. And every page was eye opening.
I realized that I was not doing that now. So, I decided to dedicate more of myself to this type of work. I know that means not just here in the hospital, but out in my regular life. And I also know that may require some sacrifices.
Yesterday, on a weekend day without any groups, I was here with a friend I have known for a long time. We were talking about using art as a means of expression and healing. We decided to do an "art therapy" group together. I came up with the directive: "Draw about your major obstacle facing you right now."
I drew about the divide between the two "camps" of me.
In the "left camp" are the parts of me who are very comfortable with all the healing language. We know what those words are. We use them all the time in therapy. The left has seen enormous growth. There has been a huge surge in functionality. I am able to juggle work and family and therapy. I have achieved major accomplishments at work that I thought I would never achieve again. I have become completely reliable at home, and taken on more and more in my community. Who can have a problem with that? The left paints a very nice picture for the world that is "socially acceptable" and "socially appreciated." Of course, it is very appealing for me and easy to use that growth as the measure of my progress.
If the "left camp" was the totality of who I am or even the great majority of who I am, there would really not be a problem. But, it is a fact of my life that there is an enormous "right camp" that needs to be attended to at least as much as the left. And it has not been. The result of such complete focus on the "left camp" lead to huge jealousy and anger from the right camp, and that lead to a serious lack of safety.
The obstacle, for me, is getting some communication and collaboration over that divide and over that bridge. The path is the art. The expression.
In the image, the "right camp" is straining against the river. Overflowing. Looking for a way across. Trying to communicate. There is huge effort from the right. I know it is easy to say that the actions of this camp are so harmful and hard to imagine that they want any help. Our focus has become only about stopping the actions. But that is an approach they cannot understand. It is a mismatch of language.
The only way to heal is to give the "right camp" a path. A new outlet. Or a new lease on old outlets. By the "left camp" being more accepting and understanding that the "right camp" is as much a part of us as any other. The irony in all of this, is that the "left camp" fully knows life is not perfect. The left expends so much energy to keep everything contained and looking good and strong.
Balance was my word for 2011. In many ways, there has been balance this year. But the balance has been so precarious. The balance came at a huge cost as it was achieved merely through division.
For 2012, we need a new word. Balance is still the goal, it always will be, but we will achieve it through unity. For me, unity does not mean we will all be one. Unity means more about being on the same team. United. Working on the same goal. Supporting each other. Harmony.