Kind words and a sandwich.
I use the word phoenix as a verb. There are people here who know this. There are a few who I've used it in conversation with. To phoenix does not mean take the highway heading west, at least not literally. It means to actively rise from one's own ashes, but it also means a little bit more than that.
There are times in life where we might feel the need to make a major change. There are things to weigh in the balance as important decisions are made, and change is always a series of important decisions. If there are reasons not to make the kind of change that alters the course of your life, the weight is already favoring no change and any factors that weigh against the change are going to be amplified in value. Any uncertainty, when weighed against certainty, is going to need some assistance in winning the battle of arguing change against no change.
This is why I've always considered the need to phoenix to be a major propellent of change. It means that things are weighing so heavily against us in so many areas of our present life, from our home life, to our work life, to relationships, so on and so forth that change almost becomes a necessity.
To regroup, resurrect and rise requires a certain number of very conscious acts. In following my own philsophy, I am led to reassess the events of the past thirty months on terms different than they had originally been considered. A part of this requires that the reassessment make more relative sense than the original considerations. Through the use of the art of reinterpretation in revising my personal mythology I can bring myself to a place where how events unfolded makes a great deal of sense. This is the value of these things and why I have at times gone to great lengths to teach these things to others. This is an opportunity for me to prove they work in a non-theoretical environment.
The considerations for a reinterpretation of my personal mythology do not allow for core elements of that mythology to be disposed of. They simply allow me to look at certain elements I have read in one particular way and to read them now in a different way.
For many years I insisted on being granted, or you might call it wishing for, an opportunity to resolve something that had long gone unresolved. Someone who was very deeply important to me had disappeared from my life with very little explanation and no notice. She was gone without any response to my efforts at contact, for nine years. At the time she had been in some kind of trouble and I did not know or understand the extent of that trouble. By definition, as someone who loved and cared about her, I had a certain need to know what had happened to her. My concerns about her welfare plagued me regularly. In my personal mythology she had become The One Queen and The Muse, someone I felt a need to make myself available to if she surfaced and revealed the nature of her situation to me. I had a desire to do anything I could to help her, in part because of the depth of feeling I had for her, and in part because she had been there for me when I had gone through many difficult years. In fact, she had been the only friend who had been there for me and not just the equivalent of a cardboard cutout of a human being who watched me fall into ruin and self-destruction.
In the beginning it was a sort of fairy tale resolution. We reconnected and our decades old friendship turned into a passionate love affair, something neither of us had previously believed was possible. I gave up a life I was happy with in a place where I felt at home in order to return to New England, where I had grown up, been betrayed, fallen apart and all but destroyed myself in the past. While geography may not seem to be all that important when you look at how you live, there is a very big difference between the New England version of me and the Florida version. There is a spectre that hangs over me when I am here, the spectre of bad memories and haunting thoughts.
Along with other issues, The Former Muse had a need to contain and control everything she desired and wanted. She did not like to share on any real level of sharing. It was only after I started to reconnect with old friends and family in the area that her breakdowns started, something I did not see as connected until much later. She was the one who had many years earlier accused me of having a white knight complex, and she used this in order to control and contain me. If she needed my full and total attention then I could not go elsewhere. Combine this with my working third shift and my life slowly but surely became completely trapped in her orbit. She would, of course, never admit this.
In the original interpretations, staying within the framework of my personal mythology, her needing my attention to supposedly overcome her demons combined with my work at a shelter for troubled teen girls, I was fulfilling my purpose and was still on the path set before me. I was just doing it on my terms instead of in accordance with angelic instruction.
There are reasons why individuals on a path of the kind I speak of rely on the guidance or intervention of some sort of higher power. It is too easy to get lost on your own because you will do anything to validate the decisions you make, no matter how out of whack they are with the path you are speaking of. I turned away from the signs and messages I was receiving until they stopped coming. Being stubborn and proud, I sought to overcome what could not be overcome, insisting that it would be my "greatest achievement" and would somehow produce a magical formula for happily ever after. It doesn't work that way. The path is constant work and it doesn't always make sense until you see it in the context of the future. You cannot force a square peg into a round hole.
People who habitually practice self-harm are not self-loathing as you might be led to believe. They are practicing a kind of self-soothing technique within the scope of being unable to feel emotion of the kind they desire through any other means. It is much like my ability to phoenix, but with some very important differences. I do not purposely seek to put myself into situations where I will have to phoenix. I do not enjoy the fall or the pain. The high comes from the resurrection and the return, which the person who practices self-harm never gets to and never really seeks, no matter how much they may claim they do. Not to paint such individuals as hopeless cases, but they tend to feed off the sympathies and support of those who try to lead them away from the self-destructive path as it adds to the elation that comes with the self-harm, which must continue to get more intense and more dangerous in order to continue producing the high. A trusted friend who has a kind of expertise in this area describes self-harm as "heroin on the cheap." Breaking the addiction is just about as tough.
Were it not for who she was within my personal mythology and within the timeline of my life, I would not have taken the course that I did, a course that led me on a very bad ride of my own that included strong symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. All this I believe was quite conscious on her part, as poetry of hers I later found spoke of wanting me to be able to feel pain and hopelessness the way she did. It was as if she spent two years pricking and prodding until she found my weakness and then opened the wound so she could pour salt into it. There is really no reason to question why I have excommunicated her from my personal mythology. I sincerely hope she will find her way out of the darkness, but I will never have the ability to help her steer away from it. My emotions cloud my judgment when it comes to her and they always have.
One thing saved me from falling completely into the abyss. It was what she refused to believe. I have been to the edge and I have walked over the edge and climbed back. I understand things she would never give me credit for understanding. The PTSD was a symptom of this. Once I went there I had two choices. Invalidate everything I have become or... phoenix.
During the seven and a half years I was in Florida, I often spoke of how there was only one reason why I would return north and how there was unfinished business and a certain closure I needed to gain in order to become truly free from the ghosts of my past and to be able to move forward under full power. This was it. I always expected it to be a kind of closure and not an opening, the way it originally appeared. It was just more difficult that I expected it to be. Within the final words spoken to me during my death experience it all makes perfect sense, and gives my mythology the propellent to move me forward:
You will know it when you see her
You will have no doubt and the sky will turn to gold
This will be the hardest thing you will ever do.
Of course, this can be interpreted to mean that I'm going to have difficult sex with Gwen Stefani, but that is besides the point. Interpretations can sometimes go to extremes, as we've learned over history from weird religious extremists who've muddied the playing field for the rest of us.
To phoenix is to survive. It is to thrive. It is to realize when you've lost this round but you need to get up in time for the next. It is to realize that no matter how badly things have gone for you that you can learn from the mistakes you have made and use them to be stronger in the next round. Life goes on and on and on. One life leads to another. Life is the only cause of death. Everything else is just a symptom.
Well, you doubted the beginning
And I'm sure you doubt the end
You doubted your teachers
You doubt all your friends
It's an overwhelming sensation
Confrontation with doubt
I don't know why I started
I don't know if I'll finish
I wonder why I try at all
Sometimes I wonder why I try at all
Doubt can make a strong man
Weaken under stress
And doubt can make a weak man
God, it's a pity
You stage your finale
With meticulous care
Your view is consistent
And then out of nowhere
Your vision is clouded
You face competition with doubt
--The Call, "Doubt"
This wound is very deep. No wound, no matter how deep, can kill me if I can feel it. Once I stop feeling the pain, I won't remember why and the wound will heal. And then it will no longer matter. It won't be there to teach me any longer.
Pain junkies, they ain't got nothing on me, babe. Rising is harder than the pain. It also provides much greater ecstasy. And you will never know. Because you doubt.
Lyrics by Michael Been, used within fair use guidelines