At the rate I've been going, I'll hit my second thousand by New Years! I all but stopped posting during the days leading up to that post...I guess I was postponing/gathering psychic energy...I've been making up for it with a vengeance since then. I've got like a hundred posts in two days!
I guess I was going for a "Speaker for the Living" kind of thing, but I was really afraid people would feel I had been too personal or too unpleasant--though I did try to balance my portrayals and show how many negatives had taken positive turns in the long run. I was so relieved to find that people seemed to not be put off by it!
So, to turn the conversation in a perhaps interesting direction...Ginette (if you are still following this thread), do you have an answer for your own question (or does anyone else)? I think people often don't survive hardships, so the real question, as I see it, is what makes the difference? Why do some survive? And don't say "strength." That's circular reasoning--where does that strength come from? Where did it come from in your own life? I'm sure there's more than one right answer.
We've had threads asking why people get depressed. Why do people get better?
Dumb answer, but I think it's largely true. The human body in general has an amazing ability to repair itself. The mind arises from physical structures in the brain and I think the self-repair idea works very well.
Of course, there are some things that the body usually can't fix by itself (metabolic disorders, genetic disorders...lots of things).
But recovering from childhood trauma, especially, is possible because of our built in repair functions. And probably also because we retain some flexibility at younger ages too. That means that a positive influence over a reasonable period can have an affect and help to correct the problems caused by a negative influence.
I am not going to give my own full story on your thread Icarus, think I'll wait till my 10000 post, but what I can say is that my therapists consider it a miracle that I didn't end up as an addict of some sort or an absolute nuts case. Bob is also right when he states that human beings have an amazing capacity to repair themselves. Yet I think there is some more to it. There are times you are really vulnerable, and I feel I have had some good luck to meet the right persons (or books!) at the right time. OK, maybe that's part of this amazing capacity....and it isn't good luck after all.
I also think you were right when you said it might not be the same for every person. I know the 'keep on moving' thing you talked about, I used that as well, but I have also had some glimpses of light and hope. And a very strong, concious goal: I want to die without having serious regrets about my life. First I thought I could accomplish this by never doing something wrong. I am sure you can imagine where this leads to . Despair.
Being out of despair now, I still have the same goal. I think it's not important what you accomplish, but it's the whole process of what you are doing, why you are doing it (very important) and how, that is important.
And thanks for keeping this question going, I like it.
For one of the first times in my life, I can't think of anything to say.
Your life is, at the same time, somewhat similar to mine and yet far worse and far better. I envy you your experience, the good and the bad -- and the wisdom you've obviously gleaned from them. You've won a great deal of my respect™ simply by living the life you have and coming out a better, more intelligent man than those who've lived easier lives have.
I was thinking of a 3,000 post. After reading this, I realize just how little I've actually lived. If I ever accomplish a quarter of what you have, I'll consider putting it down.
That's what I'm thinking, Ginette. That there's some element of luck, like meeting that positive influence that Bob describes. But I don't think it's enough for that positive influence to be there. There is also a mental step that must be taken within a person, and perhaps that's why some people never heal, despite having loving people around them trying their asses off to be that positive influence. They are not making the last jump, the final connection--a shift in perspective, kind of like how at the end of The Sixth Sense, you see everything you saw before again, in a new light. Only, in this case, I mean a perspective shift for the better! <IMG SRC="http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/forum/smile.gif">
When you described my thoughts as "keep on moving," I was a bit dissatisfied with that phrasing, even though I myself used the phrase "move on" several times. I've been sitting here trying to figure out why that's not quite right, and I've come to the conclusion that it sounds like surviving, like going through the motions, but not really like healing, except insofar as it's important to be able to keep going through the bad times, to survive until healing can take place.
Thinking about it some more, what I'm talking about is not so much "keeping on," as in not giving up and going through the motions, but rather, seeing the balance in life. There were times when, by only focusing on the negatives in my life, I was not only failing to appreciate the positives, but actively making my life worse. For an example, I was costing myself friends. Who wants to be friends with someone who is always depressed, and who is not even trying? So the more negativity I looked for, the more I found.
When I started seeing the positive things in my life, I stopped shooting myself in the foot. I also gained perspective for when something went wrong, that there was more to life than this particular disappointment. It's not something I perfected overnight, by any stretch, but starting to do this was starting to heal. It wasn't until I stopped being pissed off that the process was close to completed. That whole process took a good ten years, but things were better as soon as I started making myself acknowledge the blessings in my life.
There was a point in graduate school when I realized I was lonely and missed the friends I had left behind in Miami. It caught me by surprise when one day I realized I recognized the feelings I was having. But having better perspective then than I had had as a teenager, I responded differently when I realized what was wrong. Instead of further isolating myself, spending my free time in my apartment sleeping, watching TV, and eating, I acted. I called a friend from Miami and paid to have him come up for a weekend so that I could enjoy that again for a bit, but then I threw myself back into the friendships I was developing locally, and the activities that were rewarding to me: activity at my church and my volunteering as a Big Brother.
There was a legitimate problem: new friendships don't give the same comfort as old friendships. But this time, I could see that there was a lot of happiness in my life, and I could look for ways to enjoy it instead of giving in to unhappiness.
It's easy to be cynical of a prescription to "focus on the positives." That's what I was referring to about Sylvia Plath, some cynical comments I had read by her about how the people trying to help her get better just couldn't understand. I also thought at a point in my life that nobody understood. Now I realize I wasn't quite that unique. There's definitely more than a bit of narcissism in depression. I know how contradictory that sounds, but while you think you're worthless, you're also convinced that you're more perceptive, and that nobody else can understand just what you feel.
How well does that jive with your thoughts?
Eddie, I don't agree with the conclusion you seem to be reaching. I hope the purpose of landmark threads doesn't become to compare bad experiences or to compare accomplishments. As I understand it, this tradition we've evolved--and it's a neat one! Other forums don't have this!--is about getting to know each other better, and it brings the community closer together. From your posts, I already know you're a Latino, you live on the West Coast, you lean toward the left politically, you have some angst about what will make your life worthwhile once it's over, and you're concerned about your weight (but things don't sound as bad as you make them out to be <IMG SRC="http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/forum/wink.gif"> ). That's a fair amount, but it's still a flat photograph. That's a collection of character traits, but it's not a person. Each of these landmark posts I've read has made the poster come off the screen, and become known to me in a way that s/he was not before.
That being said, if everyone were to go out and post a bio at the same time, it would be too much to absorb. That's where the round number thing comes in...not as a clique-former, but as a way of putting a little bit of separation between these.
I hope you change your mind, and I look forward to your 3,000th (or 2,000th, or 1,500th) post. Even if nothing's happened to you, or if you only tell us the parts of your life you are comfortable sharing...heck, say you focus not on your past, but on describing your present in detail, or on describing your future as you see it in detail...when you talk about your own life like that, I get double insight into you, because I see not only what you reported, but, through your writing, how you feel about it.
My own post had a lot of Bad Things because, for one reason, they were pivotal in the development of some parts of me I think key. Another reason was more selfish: to see just how comfortable I truly was with myself and where I had come from. How could I think I had moved on if there were parts of my life I was unable to discuss? Well, nobody wants to hear (or read) somebody constantly detailing unpleasantries of his or her life, but in this context it did not seem inappropriate, so I also was challenging myself. I was seeing if I could make myself hit the submit button.
But I'm not the bad things that have happened to me. If my contribution to this tradition turns out to be making it into a hard-luck contest (or killing it by making people think they have to have done more before posting) I will be saddened. <IMG SRC="http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/forum/frown.gif"> ::wishes once again there was a bittersweet smiling smilie::
Icarus, you have a wonderful way with words and I hope I get to read your book someday. I was like Eddie and about ready to scrap posting anything for my 1000 mark. I feel like I've had a pretty boring life compared to a lot of people here. But I'll go ahead and do it anyway.
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Cool! I'm sure I'll meet you IRL before too long anyway, if we can ever work it out, but I look forward to getting to know you even better this way!
Posts: 13668 | Registered: Mar 2002
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Icarus...I wasn't here yet when you first posted this landmark thread. I'm so glad that it got bumped up and I got to read it. You had an unusual childhood to say the least, and while my childhood was not anything like you describe yours in almost all ways, mine was a bit unconventional as well, and there were things you wrote which I recognized in a deep way.
Thanks for the open and honest sharing, Icarus. That really took some courage -
(psst - I'm glad you bribed me all those months ago - I hope you weren't offended that my sense of honor wouldn't allow me to accept the actual bribe , just the spirit in which it was intended)
Posts: 5606 | Registered: Jan 2003
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I remember reading a few things that long before....I think.....how many pages does "War and Peace" have again???
Great post, and I'm glad that you seem to have come to some sort of peace with your past. Moving on isn't really the same as surviving, IMO, but just a way of expressing the maturing process.
I think I said something on another thread about love being what we make of it, as well as what it makes of us. Sometimes it makes us fools, sometimes kings, but my point was that it affects us, and changes us, and what we become. I am happy to hear that there is still love in your life, and that you have changed it for the better.
I know the mental health coordinator at the Miami-Dade State Attorneys office, I'm pretty sure she actually does most if not all of the cases herself, but even if its not her I still might know "DA" because I know quite a few people who work there. We are just acquaintances really, but I know her and she knows me. This is all assuming you were still in Dade when this occured.