Half an update on the upper triangle of Maslow’s pyramid

Difficult to find a path back into writing after periods of action. Real-life action.

Difficult to carry on with a narrative when the storyline is prone to sudden jerky jumps.

Nevertheless trying to carry on with the commitment to writing, remembering over and over again how helpful it’s been to me in the last months. It’s been almost a year now.

I don’t remember how often I’ve changed the topic of this. Tempted to change the title and tagline of this blog every couple of weeks, and frequently doing that.

The cycle probably reflects the shifting seasons of my life and my lack of self-definition.

This started out when I was alone in the countryside, pursuing a kind of forced meditation retreat, facing demons as that’s pretty much all I could do when outer actions seemed rather blocked.

I’ve now been living with my partner in Germany’s capital of queers, outcasts and nutcases for almost half a year. Fancy city apartment, a weird life that I’d never imagined (I couldn’t even have imagined living in this type of house).

In autumn, my first impulse was to accept it. I’m not picky when I feel I’m drowning and for some reason heaven decides to send me a bunch of straws that pull me onto some kind of dry land. I don’t particularly care what island it is. What they speak there; whether it’s Hawaii, Spitzbergen or Tierra del Fuego. Maybe I don’t make the biggest fuss over who lends me the helping hand, either. They do, and that’s far more than enough to feel happy, grateful, reciprocate the respectful treatment.

I tried to explain; what I want or like isn’t really relevant. The life force in me is glad that my head is above the water; I just want to keep it there until I can feel myself again (or for the first time), somewhat. Personal aspirations may emerge much later; I’ve given up on trying to force them to emerge when there was no soil and no settled nervous system. Strange mix of first-world problems (always driven to remember that) that are nevertheless somehow harrowing over time.

Having sorted “the basics”, a place to live and money for food and beyond that, the other levels of Maslow’s pyramid pose a giant question mark.

Questions of “meaning”, personal fulfilment.

Despite all, the harrowing sensation of emptiness and numbness and disconnection and lack of a horizon, familiar from my teen years and early twenties, bubbled up this Saturday afternoon after a pleasant walk in the snowy park.

Visceral sense, flashback of i-don’t-know-what.

I’ve started reading Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score (recent but already classic compendium on trauma research), glimpsed at a friend’s house, couldn’t stop reading so ordered. Perhaps a mistake, as it’s full of triggers for my visual imagination (to see things which don’t pertain to me but then are stuck in my semi-photographic memory forever to compound my library of nightmare building blocks); perhaps that was just it. Traveling back to feelings of unknown origin, some of which have diminished, some of which have been largely left behind because they can be embraced in a larger warmth that I’ve learnt to produce sometimes; over the years.

Yet, this strange sense of depression that feels like old age (about which i have not much idea for now) or death (same), like deposits in the body, unclear – a grey fog that may be a form of depression, but i panic that perhaps it’s “old age” and i’ll be stuck with it forever.

I’ve recently read somewhere that “depression is not a natural part of growing older”; perhaps i can stick to that random blob of information hoping that this physical sense of heaviness will still pass again within this lifetime.

Rather than writing about the challenges of solitude, now i could probably write about layers and layers of intimate relationships. That might violate the privacy of others. A shift, not sure how to deal with it.

The upper sandwich layers of Maslow’s pyramid squeaking and screeching – not preoccupied so much with figuring out the next place to live, perhaps now reconnecting to the other layers of issues and pains, perhaps those that i was running from when i started to move and move and move. Layers of human meaninglessness; a sense of no identity; senses of personal failure, compounded by the years that have passed in between; fear of what’s to come – something I already had as a teenager, though.

Fear of older age. Fear of not realising most of my dreams (apart from a few that have been realised in some form). Though that’s a step up from not feeling like i had any – i tend to forget that. Again, archeologically peeling back, maybe that’s why i decided not to have any in the first place; because holding the tension between the desired (needed? never knew which was which) and what appeared possible and real was too painful.

Perhaps coming out of withdrawal and chaos, means in the first moment coming back in touch with the structures and substances that sent me there. The question is probably whether i can deal with them better now than 10 or 15 or 20 or 30 years ago. Or whether, through practice, it’s actually become easier to deal with the chaos.

But it hasn’t. I’ve been become aware of how much the chaos is wearing down my spirit and body; i’d rather face a variety of things than go back there. Still, i frequently get catapulted back. Less frequently than before. It now seems to take events and changes and surprises; previously it just happened cyclically anyways.

One catapulting mechanism that still somewhat puzzles me (with its fairly fierce intensity, startles me every time) is when my partner leaves. For short trip, conferences, “business”. I start going mildly nuts about a week beforehand. I’m not sure what happens to me, but it seems fairly sure that i go back to leaving my body in part – as i go numb, rigid, expressionless, i don’t feel much, i try not to be there.

///

… partly humoristic interruption here. /// might continue the topic in the near future.

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