Feeling Good

Five o’clock.

The world holds its breath while the votes are counted. I doubt if I can get any more sleep this morning. So much hinges on the election, for me and for everybody. All I can do is eat ice cream and try to think about something else.

Nine twenty. Rich autumnal colors outside, beautiful to walk through. Aesop needed food, so I took off a little early. I thought a bit about independence, and using your own judgment, especially in matters that concern you personally. As a rock star said, “Watch out for that advice.” Everyone with sense has the right to be eclectic and make their own decisions. All of us are free, but some of us are not aware of the fact. People can tell you that you’re screwed. People can tell you anything, but the judge is ultimately you. This is your life, live it your way. My annual review for Laurel Hill happens this afternoon. She will probably ask me why I’m not seeing a therapist, but I’m prepared with an answer. If I’d wanted my life to be wrecked, I would’ve taken the advice of the first therapist. But I used my own wits instead… I hope I can pick up my Vraylar today. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Let it come down.

Eleven thirty. My sister called, and we had a nice conversation. We agree on a lot more now than we used to, and that’s very encouraging. I think the real demon is alcohol. It destroys lives, but it also obscures the truth… We talked, among other things, about Jack London stories. She saw the new release of The Call of the Wild and said it was great. I described to her the short story of “Batard.” We were on the topic of cruelty to animals, so this story came to my mind… It’s almost time for lunch. I feel good right now, so I won’t question it. Just roll with it through the rest of the day. 

Therapy and Me

Six thirty. I should analyze what went wrong today. Why was I thinking I was gay? I have a Platonic impulse and an Aristotelian. Plato is deeper, I believe. He is round, Aristotle flat. But Aristotle is proud and upright. There must be something in my past influencing my present. It’s been a weird day ever since I got up this morning. I only know that I had physical therapy yesterday, and probably something about it set off queer thoughts today. Time will tell why. Maybe some of the exercises Erin put me through suggested sexual stuff to my mind, even humiliating things. And no, I don’t think I like it, even if it’s just me. One more session, I reckon, then I’ll discontinue the program. Physical therapy is not my kind of thing.

Eight o’clock. I wonder what gives me such a strong attitude of pride, and why is it often wounded? I hate being put in a compromised position by anyone else. A position may be literal or figurative, physical or mental. I hate to be degraded or demeaned by people or situations, likely as a result of abuse somewhere in my past. And it’s awfully easy for new people to come along and abuse me even more. I’m just not the type for therapy for that reason. I’m more inclined to go off by myself and lick my own hurts… 

El Salon Roberto

Two o’clock. I really like my American Fender bass with the flatwounds and the hi mass bridge. When I drop D it sounds incredibly warm and deep. I bought a one liter of Coke late this morning, almost gone now. Vicki was working but I didn’t get a chance to talk with her. It’s none of my business anyway. I received more food credit today and started using it. I can daydream that it’s twenty five years ago all I want but it doesn’t change the fact that now is now. We’re all in the pandemic together. Still, it can be pleasant to reminisce a little. Change of seasons always triggers memories for me. Garbage day is tomorrow, so I have to put it out today eventually.

Three ten. Maybe late tonight I’ll listen to my new Aaron Copland CD again. And afterwards, read the booklet that was included. I enjoy learning facts about my favorite composers. If I’m lucky I’ll retain the information and be able to discuss it later. Copland, as I recall, made a lot of Hollywood film scores and composed his own stuff on the side. The Hollywood job was for survival. It was kind of like what William Faulkner did with his writing: do a few for money and then one for himself… I liked Billy the Kid very much. It had more movement to it than Rodeo, overall. Appalachian Spring is very sweet, but just for feeling good I still like El Salon Mexico the best.

The high temperature is supposed to be 92 tomorrow. I’m quite thankful not to have a therapist anymore. The first one was abusive and mean. The second one was very nice, but her organization put pressure on her to stick to the program. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it was bureaucratic red tape. Her office got moved and maybe her job description changed. Very strange. Out of the blue last summer she sent me my certificate of completion of the program. It was six months after I’d finished, like an afterthought. And then I decided I was done with therapists.

Sensitivity

Quarter of five. It’s very warm in the house, making it hard to breathe and concentrate on anything, and yet I read a bit more of The Catcher in the Rye. My reading investigations are a mode of self analysis. I’m trying to solve a problem and satisfy my curiosity about what went wrong with my life after my sophomore year in college. Losing my virginity was extremely traumatic at age 20, an event I never did recover from. While I was in love, she used me like a weekend liaison, treated it so casually. I learned that I cannot live that way. The second experience I had with a woman was a mistake because I didn’t love her at all, didn’t allow myself to. I should have let well enough alone. A bug in my ear said it was important to have a relationship. Many years later I read in a self help book that it’s okay to live without romance. I think I hung out with too many guys who made a macho thing out of dating. As if you weren’t a man if you didn’t prove it to everyone. I always thought it was silly, and mostly I avoided entanglements. Some people get married before they ever go to bed together. Maybe this is better, except for legal complications if the marriage doesn’t work out. I don’t feel very sexy anymore, fortunately. After I quit drinking it all went away— except for the mess-up with Sheryl. Finally I’m getting over that trauma as well. I probably will never like therapists again since my bad experience. So I undertake my own psychoanalysis to try to heal myself. The Salinger book was influential for me the year I was hurt in love. Funny how Holden criticizes the world as being phony, as I once did when I was in high school and young and sensitive. I wonder if there’s truth in that perception? How much of human life is purely artificial and fictive, just a matter of conformity to social constructs and conventions? Conversely, how much of life is authentic and genuine? When we are young, perhaps the artifice is easier to spot. As adults, seeing the truth is reserved for the sensitive people who remember, especially writers, musicians, and other artists.

Byron or Buddha?

Seven forty. During my phone appointment this morning, Todd discussed with me some options for talk therapy. One of them came from a spiritual approach and aimed at the client’s self abnegation. As a knee jerk response I blurted, “Eww! I don’t think I’d like that.” I didn’t think about what I was saying, though I know it was honest and authentic. It was too much like Serenity Lane indoctrination had been. And I’m too much of a Byronic person to blow away my ego. Obliteration of the will is the goal of Buddhism. Success in doing this is to reach nirvana— theoretically. The Twelve Steps borrows from Buddhism, or so it seems to me. I can’t prove where Bill Wilson got his inspiration for the program. Anyway, the spiritual talk therapy is not for me. Todd said deciding to do therapy depends on what I want to get out of it. This is a good point, because I don’t really know. Right now I’m inclined to forget the whole idea. Maybe I’m just a Faust freak. If I could have all the knowledge in the world, what would I do with it? Not so much the knowledge in the world, but the knowledge of the world and existence itself.

Stopping the Cycle

Quarter of nine.

It’s all about kindness to yourself and others. Sheryl the therapist abused me by labeling me gay and submissive. All this spring I have done myself the injustice of perpetuating her abuse, like a sort of masochist. As long as this is my house, my mind, and my life, I make my own judgments on everything. If I feel angry toward Sheryl, then it’s a righteous anger, to which I’m entitled. I trust what my feelings tell me. I felt outraged by her affirmations of sadomasochism and domination and submission, and my objections were totally valid. Sheryl played a power game with my sessions that I called to an end but didn’t really win. She did a great deal of damage. So from now on I vow to stop the cycle of self abuse. As for the Baldwin books, those I will consign to the book share on Fremont Ave if not to the trash.

Une Reve

There is no evidence that schizophrenia is caused by repression of gay instincts. It was merely a nonsense theory dreamed up by Sigmund Freud a century ago. Without proof, a theory is sunk, or at least it isn’t a fact. Scientific studies show that the predisposition for schizophrenia is hereditary and not phenomenological. This is what I go by. As for the prognosis, the illness is incurable except in 15 percent of cases. I doubt if Sheryl was aware of either of these facts. She believed she was onto a miracle cure that she read about on the web. I have no faith in talk therapy with regard to schizophrenia. I’m an oddball for my opinion in our time, but posterity will probably prove me right. Talk therapy is in vogue because it is less expensive than psychiatry, and of course the world wants to save a buck or two. The rule goes, any accurate knowledge costs money, while misinformation is available for free. I just hope for a day when this sad state of affairs is redressed. Some rich and generous soul with a science brain must come forward and set things to right. But then, the rich usually get richer while the poor get poorer. This problem needs to be fixed first.

Quarter after two. I slept for about four hours and had at least one significant dream. It featured Vince from across the street many years ago. We were having a conversation in a sparely appointed room about James Baldwin. Vince said very articulately that Baldwin’s life had been a social experiment. He added that it was a difficult one, but Baldwin didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be a homosexual. He was born that way… What Vince was saying so intelligently could not have been voiced by the wife he divorced long ago. Although, his daughter Victoria is studying to be a therapist, or will be someday. I recall the bond of father and daughter they had. They shot hoops together out in their driveway… So when I awoke, I returned to think about giving talk therapy another chance. My plan is to call Laurel Hill this morning and ask about the possibilities for me of doing that.

Friday Night

Quarter of three. Emotional experience can be a great thing, but using emotions as a guide leads me back to paranoia. And paranoid delusions are not fun. So that schizophrenia is exaggerated emotional reasoning, and everything that cognitive therapy is not…. My bass practice went better today. I played harder this time. More like rock and roll. I just remembered what a great player I was in 2002 with Blueface. I was a drunken animal, but a serious musician. Today, I’ve been trained out of psychosis and drunkenness, so I experience music differently. I’m not even emotional anymore. I’m more or less “normal.” Certainly not the superman I used to think I was.

Quarter of five. It’s been sunny and warm all day today. It will stay light out for another four hours. I like this much better than the gloom of December and January.

Six o’clock. Now I just wonder how emotionalism as a mode of thinking gets started. It could be our natural state, but we’ll never know because from the crib we’re always surrounded by people. Jungian psychology assumes that being in accord with instincts is healthy for human beings. But my personal experience has suggested just the opposite: it fans the flames of psychosis. The only therapy that helps me is CBT, whether we call it inspired by the Enlightenment or science or whatever notwithstanding. It works.

Eleven o’clock. Postscript. How do we know what is instinctive for humanity? Perhaps emotionalism is less natural than reason and sense information?

Complaints, Complaints

Quarter after four. Jan from church has a relative, Faye, who told me a bit about her schizophrenic son, also a homosexual. She said it in a whiny drawl with a sneer. Made me want to wring her neck. And ever since I left the care of my psychiatrist, the clarity I used to know regarding my illness has gotten scrambled. All screwed up. I gave up his sparkling expertise for the incompetence of a lot of clowns. All done out of a feeling of wounded pride when he insulted me as looking like a bum. A homeless person living under a bridge. Pride drives people to do desperate things. I defied at least three people who knew me very well and went and did the contrary of their expectations. No one would’ve dreamed that I would join the church and start seeing a therapist. It seemed like the softer way to go. But no! It has been a long, hard journey out of hell. And I doubt if I’m really seeing the light even yet. The process of peeling the onion arrives at nothing. It is like dissembling an automobile to learn its secrets, and then being unable to put it back together, let alone get it to run. If it does become roadworthy again, it ambles along with a shimmy and the putt putting motor sounds totally different… And this is life without alcohol for an alcoholic.

Insight

I just remembered a young man in group counseling for addiction, J— by name. He was a natural egoist, but wasn’t familiar with the term. He always argued for self interest in any situation. I tried to teach him and the group the concepts of egoism and altruism. The explanation went nowhere, but J— kept on twisting arguments to benefit the self. I wonder if such attitudes are innate in people? Back then, from November 2017 to April 2018, my mind was in poor shape. But the crux of my problem was exactly the split between egoism and altruism. Going with the first was to be hellbent, the other, saved. Eventually I started doing things out of self interest again. My mother had implanted in my brain the idea that selfishness was horribly wrong. It was ridiculous. My experience with AA was much the same. Thankfully, my therapist conceded that it is impossible not to do some things out of self interest.

Six thirty five. It finally occurs to me that I was doing better on the maximum dose of the medication than I am now. The buzzing sound in my ears is a hallucination. But I guess the gabapentin will be helpful in keeping me calm. I hope my mental balance will be restored again soon.