Self-help Fast

Ever since my 20s I have been on a self help path, sometimes it would feel urgent.  For example, I would see a book and I had to have it immediately even though I had 6 books in my bookcase that I still have not read.  I would think that this is going to be the book that makes everything better; this is going to be the book that brings me answers and peace. I would read the back and the reviews and then bring it up to the counter with this excitement and anticipation.  Then I get home, and do I start the book?  No. I put it on my bookcase.  Then the cycle repeats itself again months later. I buy another self help book and I think this is the one, and it goes on the shelf.  I have read so many self help books and many have helped me; however, after a while you realize they are all starting to sound the same.  They have the same messages and sometimes the same words.  But I still have this part of me that thinks this one is different and maybe I can get some nuggets of information to help me in my life.  I am proud to say I am currently on a self help break.

Not only was I buying books, but with today’s technology I was watching TED videos and you tube videos and going to events, like Deepak Chopra. To be honest, the event was not helpful and it was confusing.  I did get to meet Deepak for a second.  In addition, I was receiving a weekly email tip from Gabby Bernstain, who I love, and I looked forward to those emails.  Danielle LaPorte is a really cool spiritual guide, and I bought her guide to mapping out your life based on your desires and how you want to feel.  I bought it months ago and got a quarter of the way into it and stopped.  Then I bought this book called Get Your Shit Together and I started that. Then one magical day I happen to come across a video of Danielle saying she was on an input fast.  An input fast is about stopping to look for answers outside yourself, and starting to look for answers within yourself.  This intrigued me.  It meant no self help books, no TED videos, no super soul Sunday, no you tube videos, no reiki healing, no psychic sessions, no going to spiritual guru events, no scheduled email tips, and no more reaching for external help.  I put away my self help books; I stopped Gabby’s emails; I stopped watching super soul Sunday and any self help videos. For the first time in a long time, I am reading a novel and loving it!  I wasn’t sure how an input fast would make me feel. Would I feel lost?  Would I feel that something is missing?  Would I be missing out on helpful information?

I am only 2 weeks into my input fast, and I feel incredible.  I feel lighter and calmer. I like not having all this “stuff” coming at me from all directions.  Also, I feel stronger and more confident in my abilities to be my own guru.  It feels satisfying to reach inside myself and know that I am in control of the trajectory of my life.  I’m not sure how long this input fast will last, probably a few months or several months. It will be interesting to see if and how I return to letting input back into my life. For now, I feel free and I even think perhaps that it’s not necessary to live that way; it may even be harmful.

I always thought I needed the external input to live my best life and to be my best self, and now I know that is not true. I am the expert on me.

Be your own guru!!

Musician Before the Music

“Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal.”  Chester Bennington

“People have to remember we are human beings.”  Chester Bennington

TRIGGER WARNING: post about mental illness and suicide

Lyrics from Heavy off the new album One More Light:  I don’t like my mind right now/ Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary/Wish that I could slow things down/ If I just let go, I’d be set free.”    Heavy by Linkin Park

Chester’s band mate said Chester was in a bad place the day they wrote this song. Chester actually told the band he wasn’t well and he was feeling like his life was too heavy. He said, “I’m NOT fine. I’m NOT ok. Too much stuff is happening to me. I just feel underwater.”

Album titles from last album One More Light:

Nobody Can Save Me

Good Goodbye

Talking to Myself

Battle Symphony

Invisible

Heavy

Sorry for now

Sharp Edges

Halfway Right

One More Light

Chester was crying for help, but I think everyone was used to him using his writing and music to help them through the tough days.  Here’s the thing:  his music helped countless people feel less alone and it helped them to deal with their demons.  The question is:  Did it help Chester?  Perhaps the writing was temporarily cathartic, but the pain doesn’t go away.  Chester was open about his sexual abuse, his addiction, and he talked about his mental illness freely. I don’t know if he was getting help, but I do know that he was hurting so badly.  I watched an interview he did 4 months ago and he said his head was a dangerous place to be and he shouldn’t spend time there alone. He literally pointed at his head and said, “My skull is a dangerous place.”

There is only so much writing, screaming on stage, alcohol and drugs, and pounding his mic stand into the floor that can keep the demons away. I too connected with Numb and Crawling. Perhaps we are grasping onto the music and its meaning for us, that we are unintentionally not aware of the musician’s suffering and pain.  This is where we need to put the musician before the music. I write poetry and most of it has been depressing and that’s because of my issues.  When someone reads my poetry they love it and feel emotionally connected to it, but I don’t feel better; my demons aren’t gone. Maybe Chester’s band mates and family did everything they could to help him, and it just couldn’t stop his pain. Nobody wants to die; we just want the pain to stop and sometimes suicide seems like the only way out. The pain becomes too unbearable to live with; it reaches a point where you have to stop it, and you truly believe your family will be better without you.

In this case, Chester talked about it all and that is the first step; I don’t know where he was in his recovery or support for his mental illness.  When I saw the news I felt it so hard and deep and I thought, no not another one. I’m sure it was not a coincidence that he killed himself on Chris Cornell’s birthday. And now we will have another funeral of a troubled 41 year old man.  I don’t know how to stop it; I do know there are lots of resources out there, but people have to reach out for help.  If someone really wants to die and there is no part of their brain that says Whoa call someone, then they will succeed.  Whenever I feel suicidal I still have that little part of my brain that says call someone. I know I am at high risk for suicide, and I know that the hotline and the therapy and the meds could one day not work and that scares me.

I’ve been processing this event by talking about it and my good friend asked the right question.  She said, “How has this impacted your mental health? Do you need support?” If you just say, “How are you?” you will usually get a basic answer like fine. It is very easy to hide that you are not fine; I did it years ago in an ER.  The doctor said, “You seem fine,” meanwhile I had just attempted suicide the day before.  Please don’t say that phrase to someone with mental illness. One reason is it’s insulting because yeah I seem fine, but you can’t see inside my head where I’m not fine.  Another reason is because it’s frustrating to hear it and you just want to scream, “I’M NOT FINE!”

This post may seem all over the place, because it is another way for me to process Chester’s death.  I don’t have any answers, but I do think we need to put the musician before the music.

 NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE:  1-800-273-8255  NOTE:  They spend time talking to you about what is going on and try to help you move through it and return to your life.

“If we look outside ourselves to find love and peace we will ultimately fail.  It has to come from within.  Lead by example.”  Tweeted by Chester on May 23rd 2017

 

Epic Night

 

U2 Live at Met Life Stadium Thursday June 29th, 2017

” Our prayer tonight is to have an epic night, one of those nights you hold onto forever.” Bono  *PLEASE CHECK MY NEW DOMAIN NAME AT THE BOTTOM*

I’ve seen U2 every tour since the 80’s and they never disappoint, but this tour was the 30th anniversary of the Joshua Tree Tour.  This full circle moment has a special meaning for me. 30 years ago I went to the concert with a bunch of people all piled into those big old cars; we were teenagers headed to the Meadowlands to rock out to U2. We had on our long coats with the sleeves rolled up, and various buttons on our coats, such as: Why Be Normal turned upside down, U2 buttons, Anarchy buttons, and any other button that said we are different and we like it. In addition, we all had our high top converse on, mine white canvas with writing all over them. We were sitting on laps and drinking tall boys, and Pink Floyd was playing on the radio:  “I need a dirty woman.”  I was sitting on John’s lap and I was in heaven.  At the show whenever U2 played a classic we screamed and hugged each other; this man was my first real boyfriend, and today my child’s father.

This anniversary brought up so many emotions for everyone. His sister was with us at the original show too; she was 12 and I was 18.  John and I try to keep our relationship only about Maggie; we are not perfect so sometimes we veer off into other topics, but much less than we used to.  I didn’t tell him I was going to the show and I wondered if I would see him and his sister that night. Well sure enough, as I’m tailgating in the parking lot with my friend I get a text of the original ticket stub from 1987 and I say to myself, “Is he here?”  So I text back a picture of the stadium with the word here.  He sends back the same picture and it says, “Same view.”  I begin to feel overwhelmed and excited at the same time.  My friend shows me where their car is based on the photo; we were just aisles apart.  We go back and forth with things like: “Where are you sitting?”  “I’m outside buying my shirt.”  Beth and I have tickets in the 341 section, nosebleeds and we couldn’t see the gigantic screen which is a huge part of a U2 show. After about a half hour I get a text saying, “You want an upgrade?”  Quick note here: John always gets tickets and always gets good seats for all concerts. He tells me to meet him outside my section and as I walk towards him he hands me two tickets and says, “First mezzanine, second row.” I literally said, “What? How?” and my mouth dropped open.  Then he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and said have fun.  I go back to my friend and tell her where we are going and she is elated.  The Lumineers are still on stage so we run downstairs to our new seats and we are amazed at how close we are. Then John and Dierdre come in front of the mezzanine and say hi; it was so great to see Deirdre.  She and I were yelling “30 years!”  And we blew kisses.  John and I haven’t hugged in probably about a year. Everything was happening so fast and adrenaline was flying. Turns out him and his sister are in the Red Zone, right next to the stage.

When U2 came out I could see Bono and he could see us; it was pure joy.  The band was on fire; they played hit after hit including the entire Joshua Tree album, with lots of visuals and inspiring messages on the screen.  I literally jumped up and down and screamed and sang for almost 3 hours.  80,000 people all singing in unison; it is a spiritual experience. Sometimes Bono would say cut the music and we all just sang together as he watched with admiration.  There was a girl next to me that came from Mexico to see the show; she said it has been her dream since she was 15 years old and tonight her dream came true. I told her I was so happy for her.  We often were jumping up and down and yelling at the same time.  This moment made me stop and think about immigrants; it was very poignant to have this experience with her at a U2 show as we go through these tenuous times in our country.  She was so fun and grateful and I’m glad I was blessed enough to sit next to her.  She taught me a lesson; I’m just like you. I love U2. I love America.  Dreams come true in America.

So now I have my ticket stubs from 1987 and 2017.  My friends were concerned about John and I hugging and I told them it was because of the nostalgia and I felt strong enough to experience it, yet know that he can turn around and be an ass next week. The difference is now I know that; now I know that John who gave me tickets is a good part of John, but the lying and manipulating parts of John are there too.  Being at this show was fantastic, and seeing John and his sister made it even more special.  U2 actually played a song that he and his sister danced to at our wedding.  But I felt no longings, no I miss him, no awww; I just felt grateful. Lately I have been integrating my past into my present life; my therapist says that is healthy and healing.  She says rather than cut things off mentally, it is better to learn how to include them in my life today, and to honor them and understand they are part of the fabric of my life.

Well I definitely fulfilled Bono’s prayer that night; the feelings were visceral and pure bliss.  It was one of those life changing moments in life that I will hold onto forever. Bono also said, “Our prayer tonight is rather than being used or using, that you are useful.”  When he says these prayers, it’s like he is setting an intention for the evening.

The next day I woke up without a voice, the humming still in my ears, and I think I lost 5 pounds!  I went home and I sent John a text thanking him and telling him it was great to see him and his sister.  Bono also said, “So it’s been 30 years and we’ve changed, but we’ve also stayed the same.”  So true.  John and I will go back to our co parenting, and he never texted me back, and I am totally fine with that.

Epic is an understatement. Mind blowing. Inspiring. Freedom. Joy.

IMPORTANT:  NEW DOMAIN NAME:  tracihalpin.blog