Steppenwolf

Ten ten.

My sister accused me once of giving myself only what I wanted. Also, my supervisor said I don’t do the things I don’t want to do. Occasionally these allegations come back to haunt me. What do you call a person who does only what he wants to do? Is that libertinism? Sometimes I don’t care what people say, and other times I stop and think about it. It’s the difference between duty and delight, and sometimes they coincide in the same activity. I know I avoid doing unpleasant chores, and seek out pleasurable things to do. I just don’t know if I can change this. Also I tend to be insubordinate. The euphemism I use for insubordination is freedom. It all depends on what kind of language you use, positive or negative, for the same behavior. Still I don’t think I can change the fact. Not without a lot of therapy. The very thought of therapy fills me with resentment and rebellion. Why should I do what another person tells me to do? I guess I was raised on rock and roll:

What gives you the right, hey you

To stand there and tell me what to do

Tell me, who gave you the power

To stop me from living like I do

Remember if you plan to stay

Those who give can take away

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

It’s an old song by Steppenwolf called “Power Play.” I was only eight years old when I used to listen to Monster. Perhaps my listening to it created one.

The Puppet Master

One o’clock. My conscience accuses me of being lazy, as it often does. Should I obey what it says? My family doesn’t care what I do, so maybe my conscience is illegitimate. I didn’t understand where Carmen was coming from with her speeches about control. To me, it just sounded like marketplace cliches. The language she used didn’t speak to me. I believe she was trying to say that I ought to conform to the norms all around me. The ones we observe on television and in the movies. But she couldn’t express herself very well. I heard something vague about control, and how this was a bad thing. Why couldn’t she just say what she meant? What is the alternative to being a control person? I asked her that, but she had no answer. I came away with the impression that Carmen didn’t know what she was talking about. It was kind of like the parent who doesn’t know the answer when her child asks her why. Why conform to what everyone else does? And who set the trend for everybody? No one knows, yet people agree with the herd and follow along, lowing and bleating like cattle. Who is the King of the Media? Somewhere there is such a person directing the puppet show. It would be sort of like an Ayn Rand novel. Who is John Galt?

Two thirty. I can see Carmen’s face in my mental eye. She said once that I was doing pretty good. At least I don’t drink anymore. The rain meanwhile has stopped. Probably a lot of people would say that God is the puppeteer, and that it’s diabolical to rebel. I don’t know about the supernatural— still. Why am I such a minority? Am I just a miscreant? Am I alone in having doubts? What became of Kate; where did all my agnostic friends go? Would they return if I went back to drinking? I consider my old friend Marc the guitarist. He wanted nothing to do with me when he learned that I had joined a church and stopped drinking. Strange how that works. I’m on the fence with my beliefs… I haven’t seen the inside of Polly’s house in many years. I saw the outside of it maybe five years ago, when we had my birthday lunch at Burrito Boy. I was still driving my truck, and picked her up. She had tried to weasel out of lunch by saying her van had troubles. But I forced the meetup. Over the meal, I told her I thought I was a nicer person when I could drink. It was before I ever had gastritis from drinking… Today, it doesn’t matter what I do, Polly avoids me anyway. And just what if the puppeteer is God? Was that what Carmen tried to say? Except, I think she lacked faith herself. That’s why she was so unconvincing. And as I write, here comes the sun, if only for a moment.

Don’t Be a Lemming

Five o’clock. I miss having church worship the normal way. Some black clouds passed over and it hailed on us. Aesop went out in it, against my advice. He took it like a trooper. Last night, I dreamt a lot about things that happened in fall 2017, particularly Valerie, my case manager at Options. She came to the house a few times to motivate me to clean up. But eventually it became a waste of her time and she stopped it. My life was really going nowhere that year, but I didn’t drink. As always happens, I met some people I really liked, and others that I didn’t… There’s a rainbow behind Diana’s house, in the east. That’s where I see them every time. Now gone… People are strange. The way affiliations are formed is a matter of trust, especially when the issue is sobriety. I don’t think about AA much anymore. Their way is not the only way, as I’ve proven.

Six thirty. Some things about my behavior just aren’t going to improve. Ever. The model citizen conforms to the norm and does everything he’s supposed to. I don’t, and I’m not a poster boy for anybody. Carmen the therapist wouldn’t say what she meant by my being a control person. Maybe she didn’t know what she was talking about. The issue of control is a buzzword among psychologists today, and for Carmen it was only an echo of what she’d been told. I believe that what’s wrong with me is precisely that I do think critically about everything. It would be against my nature not to do so. If I analyze a proposition and 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal 4, then I won’t go along with it. I don’t just go with what people are saying on this or that topic. The movies can claim anything they want, but the truth is up to you and me. Another therapist said I was very logical… I’m only saying that it benefits you not to follow the leader over a cliff. Don’t be a pilot whale or a lemming.

Encounter

Four thirty.

My iPad is now up and running. It’s a much bigger tablet than I expected. Takes getting used to. The setup took about 45 minutes, but it was quite simple… My experience of life feels so much different from anything in my past. It’s as if the self of being in grade school had been progressed to today, bypassing all those alcoholic years. Those were illegitimate, distorted by the essence of a chemical. I feel like a sixth grader again, full of vague, inarticulate thoughts. I had a lot of strange dreams last night, about the unreason of friends I’ve known, with some very basic drives, even homosexual. Of course, the illogic was mine as well, if not totally. A lot of the hostility between people arises out of the desire for each other we deny. Society doesn’t allow these feelings. I think it’s especially difficult in a bucolic State like Oregon to be a human being. We have only two large cities, and the bigger one dwarfs the other one. The therapist I used to see was from Indiana. She opined to me that Oregon sucks, and I didn’t disagree with her. In fact, maybe I said it first. By an odd trick of chance about a week ago, the taxi ride I was on stopped at O—— Counseling downtown, the location where I used to have sessions. I don’t know if my weird dreams were inspired by this encounter or not. I kind of regret that I curtailed sessions with Sheryl. It was out of fear that I bolted. Was she really the scheming mean person I labeled her to be? I’ll probably never know now.

Mental Chess

Warning: Sexual content

Quarter after three. In a violent erotic fantasy, I turned the tables on Sheryl the therapist. It was a necessary step for my sexuality. The catalyst for it was reading some brutal William Faulkner. Sheryl had me convinced that I was submissive and gay, but I finally turned it around in fantasy to myself being dominant and straight. It was up to me to undo the damage done by so-called therapy. No amount of further therapy with women would’ve helped. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many male therapists in my area, no one to teach assertiveness anymore. With me and Sheryl it was always a power struggle. Towards the end she was losing control over my sessions, and that panicked her. She was a mean sort of person, disliked by her coworkers. I didn’t like her either. Her project was to dominate and subvert her clients and be a little Hitler. She played mind games with people. I only saw her for ten months, but it was enough to get me messed up for time to come. The final analysis is that sexuality is entirely a state of mind and of power, of dominance and submission, of male and female. Strength begins with the mind and not necessarily the body. Perhaps masculine and feminine are merely states of mind, of spirit or principle. One is active and the other passive. I’m not sure. But I’m done with mental chess with little Hitlers.

Eugenics

Quarter of two. I’ve been having nightmares about Sheryl’s motives for trying to dissuade me from heterosexual relationships. The obvious thing is that gay sex doesn’t make babies. The whole point of intercourse, from a rational perspective, is reproduction. It is nature’s way. But what if I do want to father a child of my own? The hideous thing is to think that Sheryl tried to prohibit a person with schizophrenia from reproducing. This is called eugenics, or the practice of keeping genetic weaknesses out of the gene pool. The Nazis had the same idea…

It really pays to do your own thinking and choosing. To keep your own counsel. If you don’t have your eyes and ears open, then all manner of mayhem can result. Only the individual knows what is best for himself. If you have a brain, then it’s in your best interest to use it. I defy those who say “you can’t.” The truth is that everyone is free to choose. And if people disagree with your choices, and if you lose friends, just persist. Eventually things fall into place.

Instinct or Intellect?

Noon hour. Volunteering went fine. Catherine was especially nice, and her baby Violet is very cute… Why was the Batman series erotic for me? A lot of sadism in those episodes, particularly in the cliffhanger endings. But I grew out of sadism and masochism by the time I was nine years old. My reason took precedence over my instincts, which was probably a good thing. Sheryl the therapist didn’t have the same values as myself. I can hardly imagine letting something so base and vulgar dictate my decisions. About the time I met Kevin down the street, this nerd who wore glasses, I found a better way to navigate life. He was guided by his intellect rather than his passions, and that was different from most kids. In later years he really got into computer science and that would’ve been his career had he lived long enough. A fatal car accident cut his life short. I was in fourth grade when we stopped being buddies. Still, Kevin had a big impact on my life from ages five to ten. I was chiefly an observer and a really good artist. I wasn’t much of a thinker in childhood, but I had an imagination and creative ability. Kevin was more technical than I. But we had comic books in common. While I soaked up the images and feelings, he absorbed information that he could use. At any rate, after meeting him I was less inclined to pursue lunatic impulses and instincts. Then when Sheryl urged me to reopen that can of worms and be more of an animal, I revolted at her sheer brutality. My logic knows better than to act like an irrational primate; so I think the deficiency lay with the therapist and not the client. Sheryl was unscrupulous. We ended up fighting a little mental war with each other. It mushroomed into something ridiculous and then I bailed out of sessions. Would anyone blame me for saving my own skin? Bad advice is bad advice.

Good Grief

Three o’clock. The carpets just arrived. They look pretty good from what I can see. Steve called: he doesn’t know about the heating or who’s responsible for the cost. Good thing I asked…

I used to feel sorry for Mom when her opinions got voted down. She wilted totally and retreated to her bedroom, utterly defeated and depressed. Polly is just the same: her world collapses when others disagree with her. They’ve used a form of thinking called all or nothing. Either I’m right or I’m wrong, with nothing in between. Confronted with disagreement from others, only one person can be right. It’s a kind of absolutism, a black and whiteness, that makes life very difficult. I’ve had to walk on eggshells with Polly and try to comply with her ideas in order to keep her from having a meltdown. I don’t know if she can learn a new perspective or if I’ll just have to disconnect from her. I can’t keep placating her forever. Eventually one of us will explode again, in the same pattern as always. It is exasperating, but it’s also sad.

A Forgotten Therapy

Nine o’clock. I didn’t realize the depth of what I wrote above. It dawned on me after I googled Milgram for a refresher. It raises for me the whole question of who’s the authority in any situation. And, is the leadership benign? In the case of getting my house back, the authority may well be myself, since I own the house. But it wasn’t me who gave me the advice to rattle some cages and jerk some chains. In this light, I myself was obedient to my sister and my neighbor. I further looked back on my therapy experience with Sheryl less than two years ago. If I had taken her verdict on my sexuality to heart and acted on it, whose would’ve been the blame for a bad outcome? And who was the authority, Sheryl or myself? As it happened, I seized the power out of her hands and left sessions. I still think her belief in sadomasochism was misguided and misguiding, so I had every right to chuck therapy with her. But it was an example of the balance of power between everyday people. The ideal social transactions are equal and rational, as in a forum for discussion. Many people aren’t aware of an alternative to domination and submission these days. It’s a sad state of affairs, and if I had any say, I would educate people about Transactional Analysis…

My Tuesday

Nine o’clock. Carmen this morning was very good. She acknowledges that I’ve already had a lot of therapy and perhaps don’t require any more. It’s funny, but it only took me eighteen months of sessions to learn CBT enough to be helpful. My brother was in therapy for seven years and never learned a thing. Carmen said psychosis is a spectrum, and schizophrenia and bipolar are boxes along it. It is possible to have the symptoms of both disorders for that reason. I’m in good hands at Laurel Hill. Carmen put in a referral for me to employment services at the agency. She thinks I’d make a good peer support. I think it’s a good place to start if I want to get into counseling. I told her I wanted a job that allows some thinking. The data entry job I had had was anything but thoughtful. I merely plugged in alpha-numerals with no human meaning. My brain was chained to an insignificant occupation and was restless for more challenging tasks. So we’ll see what comes of that. As for my family, I don’t feel quite as bothered or threatened by them anymore. What they believe and do is just hardware on a very old operating system with long outmoded software. Even my professor brother can’t shake his programming. The units in the machine of my family have a secret to protect, one that I blew wide open long ago. It’s all right for them to remain stuck in the quicksand, but I got out and nothing can drag me back in. If it entails estrangement from them, then it’s worth it to be free and to help others be free and happy. All in all I had a pretty good day.