Thursday, October 9, 2014

You Can't Go Home Again, Part II

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

It is another glorious autumn day here in Minnesota.  The sky is a sharp blue, the winds are finally a bit more mellow and the sun still feels warm when you bask in its light.  The shadows are another matter.  It feels quite brisk to be in the shadows of buildings now.  Winter is still a number of weeks away and summer is long gone.

I saw the quote noted above on a previous visit to the Parkside Alternative Medicine Clinic.  I found it an encouraging quote because it reminds me that I can consciously shape my future life despite the fact that I could not do much to shape my life while I was a kid.  Put more simply, the future does not have to equal the past.  We can choose to live our lives differently and in so doing find ourselves eventually achieve a much more desirable future than we would otherwise know.

I feel reassured that I am moving in a good direction.  I attended a job fair this morning here in Minneapolis.  The job fair was specifically designed to provide access to people, organizations and related opportunities to those who have been affected by a disability.  I do not think of myself as a disabled person now nor do I intend to frame my sense of self in this way in the future.  Trauma, whether physical, mental or emotional in its impact, does not have to permanently disfigure us.

When I was first diagnosed with PTSD in June, 2013 I struggled to regain a solid sense of who I am.  In the first months of my active reconstruction of my life I struggled to decide whether I should actually seek out disability benefits.  I was so upset during the summer of 2013 that I found it difficult to work.  I ultimately chose not to seek out the possibility of being declared disabled because 1) I didn't think of myself as disabled, 2) I wanted to find my way to a more rewarding work-life and 3) I was concerned about how being declared disabled might affect my ability to find work in the future.  I have often felt it was quite miraculous that I function as well as I do.  Children who grow up under the influence of what Dr. Gabor Mate might call 'severely stressed parenting' may ultimately become poor functioning adults. Through strength, determination and a tenacious will to succeed I did not succumb.

Yesterday I began writing under the theme of 'You can't go home again'.  This continues to remain a timely way of framing my writing as I continue to work through the grief I feel as a result of the trauma I originally experienced as well as the termination of active relationships with my paternal family of origin last year and this year.  I am also reminded of this topic because the twenty-five year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is exactly one month away.  Though I did not grow up in Germany and I do not possess dual citizenship I nonetheless feel myself very much at home when I am in Germany.  And I know this is partly due to the fact that Germans, as a general rule, are making better decisions these days as to how to live and interact with the world at large as compared with Americans.  Europe and Germany certainly have their own problems.  But we here in the United States have certain strains of paranoia, hate and prejudice that still confound me.  I often attribute these issues at least in part being a natural result of what happens when people are cut off from their deeper origins and sense of place in the world.  To be alienated can be such a horrible thing.

As a way of honoring my Germanic heritage I am going to spend some time during the month of November writing specifically on topics that have some connection to Germany.  I cannot be more definitive in exactly what I will write about at this time.

As for today it is enough for me to acknowledge that part of my own experience of trauma is very much bound up in the loss of my own sense of identity that was made possible, in part, by the loss of my mother to a serious illness.  There are many people who suffer trauma in their individual lives and yet triumph over adversity.  But then there is trauma of a collective scale.  Genocide, natural disasters and economic implosions describe a variety of what could be called collective traumas.  When a whole people suffer immensely the task of healing becomes that much more immense.

As the last month now begins before the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall takes place on November 9, 2014 I find myself pondering what it means to be the man I am now.  Who do I want to be?  What is my culture?  What do I value?  What can I do in the world with the time I have?

These are not small questions.

Post Script 

Fifty Day Challenge, Day #14

My healthy activities today:

  • I swam at the YMCA
  • I attended a job fair and made some promising connections
  • I scheduled a dental appointment to get a follow up cleaning

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!