A2: Anguish & Anger

Air, it is good to clear the air. Not just the atmosphere, but figuratively clearing the air about ourselves. No surprise as I have written in previous posts, I have been through life’s wringer and have suffered anguish and I have been angry for a lot of years. (I know, take a number). As I said with the concept post make-a-(green) plan blog’s motivation was my suffering from the aggravation of outrage fatigue.

The last few months I have been watching myself and reading as much as I can about how I can take on this challenge. My motivation is to pump new life (air?) into my own life journey. Spiraling deeper into depression is not an option. There is something we can do in the midst of peak oil, food and water destruction, our democracy degraded into despotism and economic collapse.

I have been grieving for my losses; my daughter, my professional life, my youth, my finances, my friends, my motivation, my fitness and strength and lastly, my country. I cried a lot this last year and I have felt immobilized by the sheer magnitude of what is wrong around the world. I feel wide awake and it is so crippling to realize how sound asleep the majority of people still seem to be. Nonetheless, the following interview of Carla Royal by Carolyn Baker (earthfamilyalpha) says it all in the title, Enhancing Emotional Wellness in a Collapsing World.
CB: What might other people do when they wake up?

CR: I would recommend they find as much support as possible from others who are awake, making this a priority. Dealing with one's own internal demons and preparing emotionally, psychologically and spiritually will be paramount. I would suggest folks get connected and comfortable with nature. Our land base is our life blood. Apart from it we cannot live.

Folks need to learn about water purification, growing food, herbal remedies, wild edibles, how to stay warm in the winter without electricity, and basic survival skills. There is no way I, nor can most others, learn all these things alone which is why community is so important. Learn to deeply communicate with others now before everything hits the fan. We will be dependent on one another for survival.

When questioned about psychotherapy her answer includes excerpts from James Hillman and Michael Ventura's book We've Had A Hundred Years Of Psychotherapy And Everything Is Getting Worse:

One is the realization that psychotherapy deals, primarily, with one's interior world. The soul is removed from the world instead of also being in the world. And the world is denied its soul. At this present time the world is sick. The sickness is "out there".

Traditional psychotherapy pathologizes people with very little, if any, recognition of the pathology of this culture.= [snip] ‘The greatest part of the soul lies outside the body.' If [the body of the world] is not kept healthy, we go insane.

The neglect of the environment, the body of the world, is part and parcel of our personal ‘insanity'. The world's body must be restored to health, for in that body is also the world's soul." Ventura says, "Therapy's theoretical base has not gone far enough, has not connected with the world, and without that connection it is incapable of treating the whole individual."

Secondly, Hillman and Ventura emphasize how traditional therapy is constantly returning to one's childhood, focusing primarily on one's own personal growth and development. This can be an insidious trap keeping people from becoming mature adults and responsible to the larger community of life. It also keeps people buying into one of the culture's principle lies: Growth and development must go and on.

We must understand, however, that this mindset is becoming the demise of our planet. Hillman contends that "the child archetype is by nature apolitical and disempowered-it has no connection with the political world. This is a disaster for our political world, for our democracy. Democracy depends on intensely active citizens, not children." [emphasis mine]

I have found so much in this interview of value it is difficult to select among so many thoughtful excerpts. This one gets right down to it for me.

I'm also deeply aware that my life ultimately depends on the health of this planet. That compels me to act responsibly toward it. We are consuming our planet, our life blood, our larger family. Being conscious means, in part, to stop consuming. Simple. Stop consuming.

Of course in this insane culture we a born and bred to consume, so it can take awhile to let go of that brainwashing and learn the joys of simple living. As one lives more simply one is less enthralled with the distractions of this culture and more enchanted with the natural world. This makes simplicity far easier to embrace. This has certainly been true for me.

CB: Do you have insights about what the impending collapse of the economy and the unraveling of our present support systems are going to require of people in terms of their emotional and spiritual health in order to navigate such huge changes?

CR: I think very few have any clue what it's going to take. I don't. I believe it's going to take more courage and sanity than I can imagine. And it's going to take community; deep, committed authentic community. It's going to take strong connection to the land and a strong sense of self. We are going to have to be flexible and resourceful, letting go of most of our old paradigms and stepping into new ways of being. Learning these things now, before everything hits the fan, will most certainly make the transition less painful.
Folks need to know that I am not out to "fix" anyone. Hillman says that trying to fix our clients is a way to "repress the ore". In other words, fixing simply represses the essence of a person. He also says, "I'm not sure that any of these working-through modes, psychological processing, really do it. What I think does it is six months, or six years, of grief. The mourning. The long ritual of therapy." I'm very good at the long ritual of therapy; sitting with the grief, avoiding the urge to fix.

I spoke at the opening about my own anguish, my despair. This is clearly a part of the life I am living now. Yet, despite the relentless demands of our culture to BE HAPPY, Carla offers a respite and a respect for this low time and I am grateful.

CR: Earlier in the interview I recounted my coming to terms with these threats through a series of life events. I have definitely gone through various stages, and it can be truly daunting. I have both shut down and gone into deep despair at times. I have grieved deeply and for long periods of time.

I am often so overcome with joy and love for this planet that I burst out into spontaneous songs of affection. I weep and I wail. I laugh and I sing. I spend long hours with friends talking about these things. I consistently read about these subjects with a dogged determination to see the truth. I think shutting down and going into deep despair are part of the process of coming to terms with these threats.

And then there is the anger . . . The anger and depression are still there. From Firedoglake Bruce Levine, in his brilliant new book SURVIVING AMERICA’S DEPRESSION EPIDEMIC writes:

Depression is highly associated with the experience of hopelessness and helplessness, and politics is all about power. In genuine democracy, people don’t merely get to vote but instead they have a real sense that they actually have an impact on their society. When you are voting, year after year, for the lesser-of-two-evils, neither of whom you support and both of whom are in the pocket of corporations and wealthy individuals, you don’t experience any real political power. Politics is all about power, and depression is largely about powerlessness.

That is indeed clearing the air.

BTW - Maybe it was subliminal on my part that I show stone statues on the same day as the Granite State, New Hampshire, has its Primary. The media coverage is a stupid circus. I checked on the blogs this afternoon and the meaningless crap make me grieve. It is such a spectacle of millions of dollars to try and make news out of nonsense. I am not yet proclaiming my candidate. It doesn't look like a progressive voice will be allowed. I am happy the young are reported to be coming out to vote. (I will try to keep young republicans out of my mental images of this.)