It’s All About Control

I’m sitting at my desk at work shaking because I feel out of control. My legs are tapping so fast that I my upper bodys shaking. I just listened to a This American Life podcast about pedophiles. This wasn’t my intention, the podcast is called Tarred and Feathered and the first half was not about pedophiles. When the pedophile part came on and I thought I could make it through and didn’t pause it. I wanted to face it I wanted to be okay with hearing about it. And I am in comparison to months ago when much less triggered me to hide in the basement (pictured below). I got through almost the whole podcast before taking a break to cry in the bathroom, I’m still here, I’m still working (sorta), I’m relatively all right.

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It’s hard to look at something so triggering to me, something that is actively haunting me today. I hurt there, I still haven’t accepted how being molested has affected me. I’m realizing how much it makes me struggle with control and feeling powerless, I’m realizing how being molested stole from me my ability to feel like I control myself.

That’s why two weeks ago I cut myself. It’s the first time I really did it after a decade of thinking about it. Over the past couple of months I had run dull objects over my inner to help me concentrate, specifically when making art, I tried a experimental cut with a sharp blade and didn’t like it. So when I needed to feel in control I knew what I was going to try, cutting myself. After calming my paranoid controlling self down I needed to find a security blanket to protect me, I needed to cut myself before seeing my friends.

I grabbed my nail cutters and ran the nail cleaner over my inner forearm numerous times until it started to bleed a little bit. Why? Because I had marked myself like a cattle with a piece of ownership, I cut myself because I was my own property not anyone else’s.

Immediately I feel overwhelmed with shame and guilt about doing this. I don’t want anyone to see this, I don’t want people know what has driven me to this point. I don’t want people to be concerned about me. That is of course what cutting yourself accomplishes most, garnering attention. I showed Spaced, and Jamie found out, we talked about it and now I don’t feel as uncomfortable about it. Instead I feel defiant pride, the kind of pride that says, “Yes I cut myself, do you have a problem?” The kind of pride where I explain the cut as a reflection of the my inner chaos finally being reflected upon my flesh.

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But that’s not why I did it. That’s not why I don’t know if I will stop cutting. I don’t want people to worry about my cutting, I can’t go too deep (because the object is too dull) and cutting is just a symptom. I want people to be worried about the problem, I want people to know why I cut. When saying this to my therapist she pressed me on what problem I wanted them to know. I hesitated and realized that I cut for control. Not just control over my body and situations but that is my problem, control. I need people to know how much being molested fucked with me and disabled me from having control over my life.

I don’t have control in my life, I often just go with the flow and have difficulty expressing my opinions. The worst comes in sexual relationships. I can’t say no. I can’t even figure out if I want to say no. It’s a scary feeling. In these relationships I often just trust the other person on how far or how fast they want to go and mirror their actions. Especially with new people I’m unable to discern what level of intimacy I want. Of course afterwards I know if I went to fast and I end up feeling awful and have numerous times.

It’s scary to watch it being played out with a friend, Spaced. We make sexual jokes back and fourth but at a certain point I can’t discern if she is joking or not. And I’m scared that something will happen and I feel like I won’t be able to stop it. It’s like suddenly the ground is gone from below me and I’m are floating down river with nothing to hold onto, only my trust in the other person. I trust her and don’t think anything is going to happen but still felt the need to make sure she asked for consent before doing anything, explaining that I can’t just say no or stop. And since telling her this she has said she’s going to stop the jokes until “I feel like I have more control.”

[Edit]

While this isn’t technically and edit since It is coming out in the original post I find it important to separate this from the post because this conversation came after the post was nearly finished.

I talked to Chem (who until yesterday had been distant while she dealt with some of her own boy issues) and told her about my cuts and she really pressed me to come up with a game plan when I feel the desire again. I struggled to come up with effective strategies and then finally said what I’d been wanting to ask from people for a while, to expect a call when I feel this way. The only problem was I didn’t feel right putting that burden on another person and felt I should deal with it myself.

Chem gave me a good insight into another couple thing I have going on. She talked about community as a fabric and as with any fabric when someone isolates they affect those around them, which turned my action that I thought of as not burdening people to something that very much affects people. She also helped me better grasp something that Charlie’s teacher in the Perks of Being a Wallflower says, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I understood the part that says we accept the love we think we deserve, but I also have come to realize we only accept the love we think we deserve. I accept bad love from people and I don’t accept good love from people. I’m a great supportive friend and will do anything for a close friend and need to remember to expect and accept more from people.

Why Nihilism

I have been experiencing and writing a lot about nihilism recently. I’ve struggled with it for the last 3 years, yet I could never pinpoint why I was so attached to it. It makes me feel happy, sad, frustrated, hopeless and angry, and I have yet to be able to escape it or let it go. Nihilism to me is that fly that refuses to leave your house, as soon as you think it’s gone you suddenly hear it buzzing over your head. That is until recently.

I was listening to a radiolab podcast about nihilism, In the Dust of the Planet, that validated and explained my experience with nihilism perfectly. In a world where people are inundated with news about global climate change, beheadings, never ending wars and disease outbreaks the world is a bleak place. The response to that bleakness is callous indifference because that is bad-ass, that is strong, that is nihilism. From now, to the cold war, to post WWI and beyond. Nihilism has been attractive because it frees the individual from worry and responsibility for the horror and chaos around them, instead they simply don’t care.

Radiolab delves into the subject of nihilism both historically and in current pop culture revealing our current infatuation with nihilism. Our current obsession with nihilism is seen and shown to exist by how an obscure nihilist book called, In the Dust of the Planet, is suddenly found plastered on the back of Jay Z’s jackets in one of his <a href="http://m, In the Dust of the Planet.”>videos.

JayZShot

This Radiolab podcast is done in partnership with On The Media’s Brooke Gladstone. She take a different angle for the story, but one that is quite interesting to listen to. Hers is called Starring into the Abyss and I would recommend it as well. A quote from her story sums up why nihilism haunts us now:

…we have just grown vaguely uncomfortable in this world that seems so chaotic, but in our lives barely touches us. Essentially, we’re taking in the world through the media. So it may feel more deadening, but it’s less intense.
-Brooke Gladstone

And she is spot on. I have lived one comfortable life and have been rarely touched by this chaos, but I have stared at it. I stared into this abyss and it stared back. And I proceeded to look all over my world to find this abyss, to see darkness and nihilism everywhere I could. A personal joy of mine was based around sarcastic, nihilistic joy of finding things similar to buddhist koans, things that can’t be understood by the logical mind (i.e. what is the sound of one hand clapping). These things shouldn’t exist together, but they do, they are real life oxymorons.

Ketchup Text Reads: #Nihilistarbys

The experience of an anti-corporate vegetarian (me) going to one of the most disgusting fast food joints I can think of
Ketchup Text Reads: #Nihilistarbys

That day when I realized I was too committed to vegetarianism so I ate a turkey hoagie for lunch. And my first big mac for dinner, while watching a vegan propaganda movie.

That day when I realized I was too committed to vegetarianism so I ate a turkey hoagie for lunch. And my first big mac for dinner, while watching a vegan propaganda movie.

Seen in Philadelphia by and old roomie.


And my favorite sign from 2013, a sign I loved as a nihilist and still love today

In this world you cannot escape these things, and I knew that. So I and many other nihilist stare at them. We stare into the abyss and it stares back. And staring at something so empty so negative and lacking is freeing at first, but it is also deadening. You are free but you almost give up your spirit in the process.

Existential nihilism is the idea life doesn’t have any intrinsic meaning or value, but I pushed beyond that. I stared into things that disgusted me to make them go away, and as my disgust left part of my spirit did too. I didn’t realize how hurtful this was until recently. I was mindfully eating food with a friend and roomie and I started to feel my burden leave, my guard fell down, I was letting go. What rushed over me was tears. Tears from all the times that I tortured myself, the times I knowingly put myself through dark times almost as punishment. I was punishing myself for not experiencing the horror. I put myself through mental anguish to make up for the physical anguish others had to experience. Instead of solving anything I simply hurt myself. I became a martyr, a martyr for the world.

This world is abominable, there are not words enough to describe how disgustingly people treat one another, but this is not my burden. I am not responsible for other people. I am responsible for me and I need to actually carry that burden. This world is enough to fight if you are fighting just for yourself. You can fight it’s morality, aspirituality, capitalist economy, but the goal should be to serve you and to better yourself. The goal should be to do what I wrote in my last post, “come alive.”

I feel my grip on nihilism fading. A few weeks ago would consider myself a nihilist but by today I would disagree. I have stopped identifying and just started being. I have started feeling and experiencing what there is. I feel much better, my burden of society is gone and my burden of me is here and I’m tackling it a day at a time.

Bring the Chaos Home

I feel bad neglecting the Casbalog and it’s readers and not sharing my inner thoughts, some of which I’ve shared with facebookers and others.

So here ya go:


This helped me through my recent breakdown and subsequent loss of my mind. This video helps reminds me that even though horrible horrible things are happening, especially those being committed by America, we can still party in the USA. In spite of and in lack of regard for the rest of the world,the killing of citizens without trial, despite the destruction of countries again and again. America remains the best nation in the world, and America is going to have a party, in The USA.


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“And what makes it worse, she thinks of herself as meat.”
-Said Bernard Marx, Character of Brave New World.

As do I. A big hunk of meat.

TBoneSteak1


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This plays in my head a lot of the time.
I hum it as my generic hold music, when waiting for something.


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I listened to this song over and over again.


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Finally I watched this video today and realized it’s gonna be okay. But I really need to run to the bank to open a high yield savings account.

Anarchy in the Service Area

The service area at the bike shop I work at is in a state of anarchy. Both literally and figuratively. We just lost our service manager and are trying to pick up the pieces and still keep the boat afloat.

Our service manager, Stump, was in charge of a good deal in the service area. Including, inventory, schedules, and just general managing of everything in the back half of the store. He put in his 1 month notice and was going to be leaving for the west coast on the 1st of August (the week before our super sale where everything in the store is 10% off and the place is crazy!). The owner found a reason to fire him just 3 days shy of his last day.

Being fired was only a happy experience for Stump, he hated being the service manager and hated the whole place after working there for over 5 years. It didn’t seem to effect us much at all at first. But we quickly began to appreciate all the work he had to do as service manager.

Now with anarchy in the back, the three mechanics in town (one is away for vacation before leaving mid-August) have stepped up to fill in the void and take up all the roles Stump filled. I’ve taken to organizing repairs in waiting and dealing with ordered parts, Tats (the new mechanic) has taken to dealing with customers and assuming the outward appearance of service manager, Pretty Boy is doing inventory and scheduling.

While taking these roles on is very stressful especially in such a busy time as it is for us, being the week before our huge sale, it has given me and the other mechanics a good amount of pride. This is our shop now, we run it, we make decisions regarding it. The service area is now a perfect example of how an anarchy works on a small scale. People step up and do what they do best and what they enjoy most. And productivity is increasing because it is our shop now, and our pride is reflected in the work we are doing.

It’s fun, stressful, and an overall good time. I’m the service manager, Pretty Boy is the service manager, Tats is the service manager, we are all the service manager, and really we are all not service manager. We are all busting our ass and stepping up. We expect to get no appreciation from management, but that doesn’t matter to us because the pride we’ve gained in our work is enough.

Flirting with Nihilism

Now for the exciting part.

I finished reading Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut and like most of his books there is a twist at the end, and not one I’d expected. The twist caused me to have anepiphany, though not necessarily a good one.

I’ll explain the book so you can understand my epiphany. In the book the world is run by machines. People are hired and fired by machines. Machines decide nearly everything, people are simply the middle men between the machines. This world of efficiency is extremely oppressive and results in an uprising of the people.

In the uprising the people smash many machines, some necessary, some unnecessary. For months they live in this Utopian world, where humans once again rule. But not long after this Utopian world is established do people begin reassembling the machines. They yearn for the luxuries they once had and begin to rebuild the oppressive regime they fought so hard to destroy.

People can’t and won’t willingly leave the amenities they have, despite the pain and suffering it causes them. For me this book trashed any hope of our society “going back” or trying to become a sustainable society, one based upon small towns and local products. It doesn’t seem like this is possible by choice, only by force, and that change will be fought against to keep what we have worked so hard to have, we must keep all that we have worked for, no mater what the cost.

This left me with no idyllic society to dream of, but only the world we currently live in. One where people shit on other people, but don’t even know they are because they are so removed from others. In this disconnected world a button can kill a million people a million miles away. Without person to person contact, these people are so far away that they are not people, they are nothing.

This world necessitates nihilism, to make any sense of it. If human life had any intrinsic meaning, then the world we lived in wouldn’t and couldn’t look anything like it does now. Human life is simply viewed as a statistic, it is balanced against cost and people are frequently viewed as tools and machines, not people.

While I still have faith in people, I don’t have faith in our current society allowing them to make just and humane choices. Our society frequently forces people in power to choose between two wrongs without acknowledging there are other options. It shields all of us from our impact on others, allowing us to continue making decisions that hurt people.

I don’t know if I’m a nihilist, but our society certainly is. And it is so large and disconnected it makes it so very hard to make humane decisions. One cannot live in the “developed world” without having unknowingly supported great wrongs. I have no idea what to do about our world, but I know that something must be done. Maybe it is still possible to move slowly away from the craziness we have created, but it seems like we’re walking down a dead end and we will only be forced to turn around.

Views of Chaos

The world makes most sense to me when I think of it being filled with chaos.

This is what I think when riding the train to work. I see nice neighborhoods, and shitty ones. Some of the worse one’s are being torn down to be replaced by students housing, forcing the poor, and almost certainly black, folks further and further out of town. These are the same folks that make the whole city run. They do all of the necessary tasks that so few of us notice. From cleaning plates and picking up garbage to making sure the trains run and the power works.

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The view I enjoy most in this city is a view from a small park in west philly. You see the beautiful skyline, filled with skyscrapers. But if you are smart to sit close you can also see the inner workings of the city, the gears that function in order to keep this view as pretty as it is. There are electrical wires dangling, trash, train tracks, decrepit bushes and a dirt parking lot. This dirty view helps complete the pretty one, it’s the ugly yang to the ying of the city.

The view helps you view the city the way that it is. It reminds me of all the awful things that go on behind closed doors to ensure the perfect view I can see. The view that is just beyond the electrical wires and train tracks.