Sense isn’t always a prerequisite
In the late 1800’s a sprawling construction was begun in the town of San Jose, California. Its design and style was said to be inspired by a friend and psychic, in order to stave off the spirits that will surely inhabit the wealthy heir. That heir was Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester of the firearm fame and wealth. Over the course of nearly forty years she continued to add to an eight room farmhouse creating a myriad of rooms and doors, stairs and hallways, all going to no place and everywhere all at the same time. She had lost her child and her husband and moved out West from Connecticut. In those times advisors were regularly spiritualists and psychics as much as anyone else. As the story goes, she was to go out west and continue to build her home to confuse the spirits and ghosts of the people killed by her husbands weapons. At her death in 1922 the house had reached a jaw dropping 25,000 square feet and had over 10,000 windows. That was the picture that arrived this morning when I thought about the construct of life, the behaviors and changes that have occurred and the various recoveries and methods involved. The hammering in rooms of poor thinking and grandiose ambitions, ghosts of opportunities and the spirits of despair. Hallways of thoughts, ruminations of regrets and the never ending expanses of the psychology involved. It was all a confounding mess that was, and is, disproportionately magnified by a personality and pandemic instilled solitude.
Yes, myself, and millions of others are experiencing different difficulties with the change in societal interactions, and lack thereof. In my story it came smack dab in the middle of some great and real personal revelations. The deep kind that expose the very molten origins of why, and what you are. It recently added the whole life and death business of mortality as well, which always stops up the whole mix too. I could see many of the very deepest issues I had in my core beliefs, and because of that it changed my thinking. What I wasn’t ready for is the raw skin that was exposed, like when you peel back a blister and realize how much protection that little piece of skin represented. Great! I had learned much about myself! What I didn’t expect was the expletive filled shock of an emotional skin just exposed to the air once more. I had lost some of my shielding when I found out some of my truths, I couldn’t use that wrong thinking to prop up the mistaken beliefs any longer. It felt like a blister that covered my whole backside, and with it missing I had a hard time trying to find comfort in much of anything. Thoughts spun into nothing, the short attention span theater kept on repeating the same tracks, and not much was moving anywhere, or so I thought. There was change happening, it was just doing so a little bit more covertly than before. A little bit that was hidden in plain sight that is now beginning to show itself. I had lost a lot of tethering connections and was afraid I was finally going off the deep end, time to say goodbye.
Having dug into this introspect business for years believing I would find my true self, that I would get to some place that eluded me in what it felt like to be normal. What I discovered was that there was no place as I envisioned, my expectations were just that, and there was no there there for me to find. That left me trying to piece together and scout around at what was left over, the foundational pieces of who I am. I found the pieces that I could change, that didn’t hold weight any longer, and those that never did. In part it brought out the child in me, a very uncomfortable and uncontrollable juvenile feeling it has been until I realized why. It took me a while before I found out that I could not replace a core belief created when I was a child with an more educated and updated one. In my case it had to be formed within the same simple construct as the one being replaced. I could not take the thought that “everyone hates me,” and replace it with something like “not everyone cares for me.” It had to be just as simple and broad as “nobody hates me” to fill in that piece of emotional distance as the other thought had when it was there. When the new piece is firmly in place it can be adjusted a little and changed, but not until then. For months I had been trying to attach pieces of what I know now onto what I believed then… It wasn’t working, it was just a stop gap measure of some kind that always fell off. I could see what was happening, but I couldn’t understand why? This better thinking I was applying was a cumulation of my best work, my biggest accomplishments, why didn’t those pieces work?
Then I remembered one of the reasons why I started this blog. So far it has been a minimally edited examination of my recovery and other thoughts. I didn’t go back and edit the recovery pieces because I wanted to see the changes in what I knew and felt then as opposed to now. They were the long talks, the things as I saw them as I understood them then, they were there to show me the changes, give me the empirical evidence my mind needed for reassurance. They were the writing out of way out there stuff, the hopefulness and hopelessness, the hard corners and easy trails. They mean something to me and instilled a changing mental landscape that I tried to convey to others who may wander by. Because in recovery and life in general, it’s always pleasant to come across something familiar, or something that might get you through a crunchy time. These last months have been a crunchy time to say the least, and even though I wanted to write I really couldn’t put it all together. Something which I always expected to be there fell away with all the changes. My physical health had left me with breathing difficulties, which in turn has the side effect of a low blood oxygen. With that occurring, my thinking ability, my cognizance, is challenged. My ability to grasp paragraphs and chapters of thought all at once was cut down to soundbites and nonsense. I would hurriedly write out a notion and lose the train of thought halfway through the fourth or fifth sentence. To say that squirrels were active would be a gross understatement. It was leaving me shell shocked, feeling more than ever as unable to do anything productive, something my personality type needs to function properly.
What I can see now a bit in hindsight is that my mental health is just like my physical health, I get sicker at times than my normal background mental maladies. I also needed to take a few huge steps back internally and relearn how to forgive myself, how to be the person that, as my history is rewritten, accepts the person that that history shows. It may be raw, it may be disconcerting, it may show good things and bad things, but accepting it allows it to at least undergo the beginnings of change, to begin a willingness. I had been given a lot of very purposeful information on the conditions of my conditions. I had a lot of things to filter through, to figure out, to apply and engage, and other things to disengage in. No wonder the thought of Winchester’s mansion came to be the picture in my mind. This is all a very difficult task when you can see it all happening, and want to do so much more to help it along, but at the same time you are constricted by it. Over the last months the better habits of change have helped clear up the thinking, the little childhood emotional skins have thickened a bit. Better physical habits and nutrition, changes in daily activities and mental inputs, acceptance and learning to forgive myself, all imperative. Getting time to myself to recharge my internal batteries again has also begun to heal some other areas of the psyche. The runaway wagon train brain headed for the cliff has turned around, or at least slowed its charge. My mind is healing, it was being allowed to cook, and it apparently needed to shut down some of my other thinking to do so.
In a manner of speaking I had found that place that I was looking for, I had found the pieces that all fit together and made me whole. I really didn’t like what the whole report was telling me, but that’s the truth of it and I knew it. It was now time for solutions, for changes, and I was a scared little kid with the newly torn blister on his backside. I had to organize my neuroses, had to put the ducks of disorders in a row, and at the same time find a way to change with what I know now. Yes, I had this and that, but I only had a little of this, and a lot more of that, but those are nothing compared to them. Recently reading a piece on the inner voices that people have and use has helped me understand that I am not as far out there, not as far off the deep end as I thought I was. It also assured me that the constant contact with that spiritual part of me, that other voice in my head, was imperative to keep it all in check, to be able to know that I wasn’t in the right mind. Telling yourself the hard truth for any length of time is exhausting as it is refreshing when you get in the habit of it. The amount of mistruths or flat out lies laying around was eye opening and surprising when their hiding spots were discovered.
So I am grateful as I am rambling, a needed expression of those things that stopped up the process. Grateful for the continued searching beyond that of simply the recovering alcoholic, but a recovering person. The solutions found in my darkest of days is found in the teachings that I have learned and built on from those teachings in the program. Meditation has helped my breathing, my breathing has helped my thinking. Staying in a more constant contact with my spirit, and that honest voice inside me has helped me come back to a level of thinking that eroded in the solitude and simplicity of the just make it through routines. I am responsible to myself, and also find I am more forgiving. Finding that since the wheels of life don’t command the engagements they once did, doesn’t mean I can shirk away from keeping my thinking fit as I should. I changed my inputs, my habits, and the things I do to fill in the intellectual, spiritual, and human connections needed. I have begun to learn a whole new way to leave it in the past, and in the process forgive myself today. Change is of course difficult and I have learned that in my case, I don’t do well with big changes, yet can do a better job by engaging some smaller ones first. With all of this collectively happening it has been difficult to find an full road to anything. So when the picture of Winchester’s farm house came to mind this morning it was fitting. It has been called a waste of time and materials but still stands in San Jose. I find it a kindred soul of sorts, a reflection in real life of the construct of conundrums that I have compiled in my own life. I find it curious that the legend says Sarah Winchester built it to confuse the spirits and befuddle the ghosts of her husbands victims. Because in her building the great estate, ensures the remembrance of her lasting spirit, Winchester’s Ghost.