According to folks in recovery, if we’re about to run straight into the arms of our next fix we should H.A.L.T.; as in stop and think about it for a second. Common sense, right? Instead of drinking, snorting, cutting, starving, shopping, smoking, sexting, eating, beating or getting into yet another disastrous relationship, we should ask ourselves: Hey, is it possible that I’m just Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired and this appetite for destruction could be cured with a sandwich, a hug, a shrink and a nap? Probably. But I think we can all agree, sandwiches, hugs, therapy and naps are hard to come by, especially lately. If I hug you, will I die? Where’s the hand sanitizer? Therapy costs how much? Oh, you’re out of sandwiches cause all the staff are sick? Cool. I’ll just chug some Lysol.

Recently, while deciding to eat, sleep, journal and keep my epidermis intact, I was thinking about why love is so hard. Why do so many of us find ourselves cycling through all too familiar patterns of pain? Why do we end up Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired again and again, despite our seemingly best efforts to learn our lessons and get it right?

I have fantastic news. It’s because we’re Horny, Anxious, Love-Starved and Traumatized. Yep. We sell our divine inheritance for crappy camp stew and really cheap lies because the human experience pales in comparison to paradise and we get really sick of waiting for heaven on earth so we’re like, …gimme that cupcake!

Esau and Jacob were twins. Jacob’s insecurity started in the womb. He was so worried his brother was gonna be born first, he grabbed at his heels in the birth canal and then proceeded to manipulatively claw at him all their lives until he finally tricked the hairy idiot into giving up his birthright. And Esau did it because he was a workaholic who, after exhausting himself one day, begged his brother for some beans. Jacob was all about intermittent fasting and had been cooking for the sole purpose of catching his brother off guard during a moment of fallible, human weakness. Sure hairy brother. I’ll give you a bowl of beans… if you give me our fathers fortune. Did I mention they’re extra fancy, magic beans? How bout it?

Esau was born with a scarlet letter on him. He was oblivious to the ways of the world and much more interested in the ways of the wild. It wasn’t until after his brother had betrayed him that he realized what that fated meal actual cost.

Whether you think the Bible is historical, allegorical, neither or both, the story made me think about vulnerability. Why is it that most of life seems to be spent hurting or healing? Are half of us born entitled and insecure and the rest of us just born hungry, albeit humble idiots? Either way, we’ve been hurting and healing in an endless spiral sine the beginning of time. How do we stop the train and finally get off? I mean, Jesus.

I had an ah-ha moment during a recent workout. The reason we allow ourselves to get tricked is pretty simple; we’re horny, anxious, love-starved and traumatized. In fairness, it’s pretty rough to go through life without compassion, empathy, emotional support, validation, basic safety, money, housing or patient, present, nurturing guidance; aka neglect and systemic oppression; completely minimized, ignored, overlooked and devastating childhood traumas. Other traumas are equally hurtful but as a society we still fail to really acknowledge the magnitude of the impact. Oh that stuff happened when I was kid. I should be over it by now. Where are your boot straps? Nope. The first twenty years of our lives lay the neurobiological tracks that determine our thoughts, feelings and behaviors until we go to therapy and reconstruct our polyvagal highway. Bummer, right?

In addition to all the ways our childhoods derailed our otherwise awesome futures, we’ve been programmed into believing that because we’ve suffered, or deprived ourselves as part of performing our morality to an invisible audience of mostly fanatical, hyper-religious (and equally screwed up) critics, the love we’re owed is bound to show up in the next scene. Hallmark, Disney and Netflix rom-coms aren’t doing us any favors.

There have been billions of articles written about things like narcissistic abuse, toxic partners, borderlines, sociopaths, addicts, lions and tigers and bears oh my. We become obsessively focused on everything wrong with their behavior while overlooking our own unmet needs which manifest as giant, invisible signs to Tinder Swindlers that read: I will basically say, do and believe whatever you want in exchange for some love bombs which turn out to be crumbs; the kind where you have to lick your fingers and press them into the bottom of the bag to scoop out tiny mounds of flavored dust while trying not to utterly hate and destroy ourselves.

And that’s how we stop the train. Not by hating ourselves, but by loving ourselves back into be-ing from the deepest well of compassion we didn’t know was there until we trip over it one night during mercury in retrograde when our tears have blinded us so completely there’s nothing left to do but allow ourselves to be consumed by absolute terror, or surrender to love and fall in.

Our life is our story to live and learn from. Rather than expecting to obsessively research the best choices, the absolute right thing to do in every possible situation, at some point we encounter permission to throw our arms around the unpredictable chaos, put ourselves out of misery and be who we’ve always been. ~

9 thoughts on “H.A.L.T

  1. This is simply phenomenal! You’ve beautifully described the elemental Gordian Knot of being human, and the loving way to loosen it. All roads lead to self, and the cypher at the gate is love.

    Bless you for this. Deep bow of gratitude! 🙏🏼❤️♾❤️🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw the Stones play this one in Chicago, decades ago. It’s been rough, but not like it was years ago. I was able to clean myself up, which is apparently not unheard of. I craved it for years. Back when I saw the Stones, I was ripped on weed and cocaine. It was still a fine concert. The Neville Bros warmed up. Since then I’ve known I’d get high again, when though. I was able to manage occasional use in recent years. When the pandemic hit, it wasn’t an escape, just a means of calming my busy mind. I’ve been meditating daily for the past month and a half. It tends to aggravate my mind. I remember this from years ago. Is there something wrong with me? I assume we’re all a bit off. When my business failed, recently, after ten years of steady growth, it just died. Viruses, wars, inflation, politics, gas prices. E, I don’t know what were all in store for, here. But there have been a few very important times in our human history when things could go either way. I feel invisible. That’s why I’ve been leaning on drugs. I love the smell of them. I started to fall back into habits. I think writing about it keeps me in check. I really do. I remember in high school using writing to stave off depression. I’ve given myself a few tough years. My depression is a very selfish state. It’s the most selfish I can be. Two years ago, I started online dating. I knew I was still depressed and shouldn’t be seeking a relationship. But I used it as a tool to better myself, or not succeed. It helped me, in some ways. But I decided that it’s not a natural way to meet people. I don’t mind letting it go. I also lost most of my loneliness…mission accomplished. I took other routes, too. I formed a band whose main purpose is to play music for people in hospice. This was my best tool. It was nourishing. Music is the best. It really is! Playing for the benefit of the dying, in itself, was extremely satisfying. I hate complaining. But I’ve found myself fussing like nobody I know, these past years. I hate it. But, I’m largely unheard. I don’t even have much of a following. I don’t blame them. When my business failed, that was all that I had left that I worked hard to develop over my lifetime. I had to start over. Where? What? I’ve been contemplating moving to Omaha, Nebraska. I spent four days there a few weeks ago. It was beautiful and peaceful. I don’t know what will happen with my band. Will they continue? I do all the admin, coordinating, scheduling, song lists, everything. It’s the only snag. I really want to go, live somewhere else. But I don’t want to let my friends down. Your post made a difference, the other day. I need change. I’ve lived here for a long time. It’s where things keep falling apart. Against my preferences, I’ll swap drugs for meditation, even though it doesn’t seem to be doing a single good thing for me. Thanks for posts like this. By the way, I like your recent photo comps. This one reminds me of a Patti Smith album cover. I can’t remember which one…

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    • I read your entire message but all I keep thinking is, oh man, you saw the Stones! That’s so cool! 😉 As for meditation, it’s not unusual to have a tough time quieting your mind, nothings wrong with you, you’re just human. Welcome to the club. Have you tried guided meditations? I have a few channels on YouTube that I really like. Having a guide takes the pressure off and allows you to focus on wherever they’re taking you as opposed to wherever your mind wants to go.
      As for substances, I hope you’re staying safe and will reach out for help if things get unmanageable. You’re not alone in turning to them as so many folks have since the pandemic. I’m a fan of the harm reduction model.
      Depression and addiction aren’t ‘selfish’ but I do liken them to thieves; they steal our joy, hope and authenticity. Believe that ‘you’ are worth fighting for. Yea?
      There’s nothing new under the sun. We’ve been fighting wars, weather and viruses since the very beginning. It’s a cycle. There’s the collective cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and as individuals we go through the same cycle many times throughout our lives. The trick is recognizing where you’re at in your journey and embracing it without judgement. I recommend naps, Mac n cheese, and goofy comedies to keep things from getting all too serious 😉

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      • Alright. You gave me a smile. Isolation is a new thing, in my life. Ah! On meditation, I can easily calm my thoughts, I meditated on and off for years. I don’t know if I can describe the effect… maybe a mental mosquito bite? It makes me a little grumpy. Funny, huh? The world cycles. But we cycle like a wheel rolling on the ground, with the same spots touching the ground at new places. I wonder if humanity sees the journey? I remember catching George Floyd’s funeral. When Rev Al Sharpton spoke, it struck me that he understands the human journey, devoting his life to a cause he will see very little progress in. I tend to be optimistic. But I get frustrated when my most meaningful relationships and careers just fall apart. And I work hard to replace them, and they fall apart. I am honest when I tell you that I’m a kind, sincere, and intelligent person. Maybe I’m just not as good with navigating. That’s amazingly frustrating. Anyway. Yes! It was a great concert! I was young. It was their Some Girls tour. You know what I thought? “Wow! I’m seeing the last Stones tour!” I guess they’re still going, in their seventies. I’d like to see them just for the novelty. Jagger always kept himself in shape. But it surprises me that Richards isn’t using a walker. I saw a lot of shows, back when they were affordable. 🙂

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      • Mental mosquito bite sounds about right. It’s hard to be still in a world that demands we hurry up! I commend your efforts.
        You don’t need to convince me you’re a kind, sincere, intelligent person. I’ve always noticed. As for navigating this wild ride known as the human experience, your guess is as good as mine 😉
        Again, so very cool you got to see them live. I’m just as surprised they’re still kicking, in leather skinny jeans no less! 😂

        Like

      • Stay with me for a moment, please. I know you’re busy.

        I discovered something. That, is a means of improving the world by meditation. By the time I found it, nobody was listening to me anymore. My following has diminished since I stopped writing about my muse, that began five years ago.

        One of your themes has been evolution. I picked this up independently. After I had a recent find on the potential of evolution, I talked with one of my sisters about it. She was uneasy about the concept of evolution. It’s been happening all along, and doesn’t always mean good. I puzzled and decided to call it elevation of consciousness. That was a concept she could get behind.

        Automatic Self Transcending Meditation.

        Fortunately there is a way out, even for those who have done extensive studies on human behavior. Maybe those who actively look at humanity feel the most pain, potentially, seeing how crazy out of control our society seems to be in, at this point of history.

        There is a panacea, a fix for our viewpoint of humanity, maybe even a cure for the aches and dysfunctions of our cultures, overall. “What?!” Yes. And this method works for the skeptic as well as the zealot. It doesn’t rely on any religious belief, but enhances whatever belief you belong to. In fact, you might say that it is a tool handed to us by the Universe. In that sense, it covers religions and science completely.

        The unofficial method is Transcendental Meditation, whose groups hosted the studies. To learn this method, you are expected to pay a thousand or more dollars to get the scoop from a trained professional who has learned from a master who, in turn, has picked up traditions thousands of years old.

        The official method is called Automatic Self Transcending Meditation. Here’s how to learn it for free.
        There have been over fifty conclusive studies on the effect of the general effects on populations, from just a small percentage of people practicing this meditation. One doesn’t even have to believe it’s working for it to work. It intrigued me.

        Why should my opinion matter? I’m just one cell in the body. I’m working on losing the aspirations to succeed in the ways I’ve been taught. In some ways, I wish I could go off and live off the land. But I also know that if I can have even the smallest positive impact, it will help others. And because of it, it will help me. It’s like when my band plays music for the dying. We can’t escape the drive to live in satisfaction, my guess.

        This is why I’m meditating. I tried to get the word out, convince people that we can be the trigger to stop war and violence. A friend of mine was actually pissed off and said, “That’s a band aid solution. As soon as you stop meditating, people won’t learn and go back to their natures.” I think their natures are to ascend. We don’t stop meditating. We increase the numbers. Over time, things will improve.
        I’ve read other studies. But this is the one that triggered my direction. And dammit, if I quit. I don’t care if I’m the only of a small number who do this. It’s improving the world through homeopathic methods.

        Here’s the study: https://www.worldpeacegroup.org/washington_crime_study.html

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