Identity #1.2: The Strait Jacket of Your Embrace

***Spoilers: If you read Shamo (manga) by Izo Hashimoto, there are slight spoilers on the story-line. Also incorporates my interpretation on character motivations.

I recently finished reading a manga (Japanese comic) called Shamo where the mild-mannered main character, on track to a life of success at a top university, suddenly kills his parents in cold blood. Multiple questions are raised surrounding the motive behind his uncharacteristic break, and the recurring motif in response is how parenthood can go wrong. How sometimes, the parental urge to protect and love crosses over into dictatorship. How parents view their children as the potential for opportunities that they missed, and how parents guide their offspring into pre-destined paths with all the persistence of a compactor cramming them into the mold of “ideal”.

This resonated with me.

Continue reading Identity #1.2: The Strait Jacket of Your Embrace

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Blinders

The whisper of the pines warns of danger,
Yet I recklessly ignore their words.
Running hand in hand through the forest,
I find it hard to imagine that being led astray
Can be so perilous.
When he beguiles me with his smile,
I am forewarned of eminent betrayal, and yet
I am lured by his smooth seduction,
So I close my eyes, and follow his lead,
Till the ground fades away,
And I fall alone.

Welcome to my Home

The sky is my roof
The air my windows
The grass is plush carpet
The rock a pillow
The trees are air filters
The rivers my vending machines
The field is my market
The hedges my walls
The plants are sculptures
The sunsets my paintings
The stars are my nightlights
The wind the whispers of stories told
The world is my playground
The animals my companions
The desert is my sandbox
The jungle my gym
The lake is my bath
The ocean a swimming pool
The leaves are my curtains
The forest a hiding place
The caves is where I rest
The plains where I run
The shadows are my home
The light shines on my soul
The sun is my lamp
The moon a secret mystery
The ice is my refrigerator
The snow my cushion
The ground is my paper
The coal my pen
The fire is my stove
The lightning my suspense
The storm is my orchestra
The thunder a father’s voice
The rainbow is the perfect gift
The mist a humidifier
The waterfall is a shower
The moss my rug
The moist air is febreeze
The static a spark
The volcano is my heating system
The lava a construction crew
The tornado is my vacuum
The hurricane a swiffer
The conflagration is my recycling system
The floods, an irrigation
The meadow is my garden
The mountains my treadmill
The valleys are rest stops
The fountains a Jacuzzi
The springs are my water fountain
The fruit trees my snack bar
The shells are my currency
The cliffs my thrill
The rainstorm is my wash machine
The windstorm my dryer
The avalanche is my rollercoaster
The sandstorm my survival game
The oasis is my spa
The artesian a blessing
Earth, fire, water, wind,
These are my guardians.

the Seer

I have seen the end of the world
I have peered into the void of malcontent and damnation
Stained my flesh in the inky depths of despair
Drowned by the side of indifference
Smothered my soul within the pool of libation
When a little child leads them,
Who leads the children astray?

Proximity merely expects anticipation
Measurement of distance from one to another
How close is your end?
To your beginning?
Naught but the angels know
Whether this imagined existence
Began, ended, rebirthed anew
Had a purpose to accomplish or a guideline to peruse.

Pondering Addiction

Addiction – compulsive substance use or consumption despite harmful consequences

So one day, puttering through life, a family member (or some other caring, influential person in your life) comes up and says “Hey, you’ve got a problem. You’re addicted.”

Then all the family members corners you and says things like:

– “You need help.”
– “You’re a [insert substance here] addict, and we want to help you get better.”
– “We love you, won’t you accept our help?”

And there I am, on the other side of the tv screen, munching late night snacks and shaking my head.

“Mmm, gurl, you really got a problem!” I pronounce around my second bowl of cereal that is rounding out my late night binge. “Wow, what a mess you are!”

I should have remembered the whole **”casting stones” concept [you know, don’t judge when you are guilty of similar “sins” or shortcomings. Tossing stones in a glass house, etc.].

The next day, it’s my family member coming up to me, saying, “Hey, you’ve got a problem. You’re addicted… to food!”

“What? No! I can stop at any time!” I say, clutching my half-gallon tub of ice-cream, which I was Not sharing by the way. “I’m just really hungry. I could stick to 3 healthy meals, no snacks, easy.”

And then, there are secret trips to the fridge at odd hours of the night. One sandwich, two sandwiches: three sandwiches, and a bowl of cereal. Five slices of cake. Half a pan of brownies.

ALL the ice cream.

Then come the hints.

“How much do you weigh?”

“Have you gained weight (again)?” -the again is implied.

“Stop judging me!” I retort. “Get off my case!”

Awareness

One day, the light dawns.

“Oh sh*t! I am fat!”

When I open the fridge, my mind whispers, “you’re fat”. Walk down the street, “you whale”. Sit at the table, “another serving for the fat one”.

My alter ego, the “fat one”, sputters, “well, at least I don’t do drugs!! It’s just food, I can quit at any time. I’m just hungry.”

But the thought weighs down like a burden. Fat, the concept/reality, holds me back.

“Wanna go for a walk?”

“No.” Because I’m fat and don’t want other people to see me.

“Wanna go swimming?”

“No.” Because my swimsuits don’t fit anymore, and the “fat-suits” are embarrassing.

“Wanna go to the gym?”

“No.” Because I’m embarrassed to be the only “whale” when everyone looks so fit. Because I don’t know how to use the machinery. 

Because there is always an excuse.

Depression

“I hate you, you fat tub of lard!!” I yell at the mirror. I feel sick, I revolt myself.

And I’m hungry.

“I just wanna die,” I moan around another mouthful of food. “So disgusting!”

The weight becomes suffocating. I avoid the mirror and the scale like the plague. I avoid the truth and hide behind my misery and self-loathing.

When I feel unhappy, food makes me feel better. I feel better.

Then later, I realise what I’ve done and I feel worse.

Then I eat again.

The cycle continues.

Rock bottom

The shades are drawn. I lie in bed and watch television. Food containers are scattered around like confetti after a wedding. Windows haven’t been opened in months (possibly years) and I don’t move unless necessary.

Clothes… fat clothes. The mandatory attire.

The voices of critique contain growing concern. “You need to lose weight! Are you exercising?”

“F**k off!” I reply, stomping from the kitchen, clutching my containers of food. My single comfort. I eat in bed and wrap the blankets around myself, hiding my rolls, and jiggle, and extraneous flesh.

I just can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t seem to stop.

In secret moments, of increasing frequency, I ponder why I’m alive, and why I’m still existing. Because I. Hate. Myself.

Turtles have shells. I am exposed in the light, so I shrink to the darkness. Counting down to an imminent end.

Food is my companion. Food is my tempter. Food is my cage.

Sink or swim

In moments of clarity, I ask for help. I want help.

Get these fleshy chains OFF OF ME!!

Start this diet, that diet, another diet. Starving so much I forget why I’m dieting to begin with. My desire to thin, transforms into a desire to consume plates of food and buffets of desserts.

I care. Then I don’t care.

Off the diet, the binge begins. Mindless, emotional consumption. And then I “awake” and I’m right back where I started.

“Why can’t I stop?” I cry, gasping over a distended belly filled with something, anything, everything in the fridge.

Hope and despair, a roller-coaster that doesn’t seem to end. It leaves me exhausted -and hungry.

Revelation

“I’m thirsty,” I announce, around my third plate of food during my fifth meal of the day.

I pause.

I’m thirsty, not hungry.

“Then why am I eating?”

When was the last time I ate because I was hungry? Did I even need to eat all? Was it simply out of habit?

Why didn’t I think of this before? Why didn’t I question…any of it?

Like, why am I always eating? What is real hunger, not habitual binging? How/why/when did this happen?

Why?

I felt sad. So I ate. Eating made me sad, so I ate some more. Transitioning into mindless consumption.

Oh sh*t.

I’m an idiot.

I’m an addict.

Mind over matter

Rome isn’t built in a day, same goes with changing a habit developed and nurtured over a lifetime. It starts with a resolution, and support. It starts with looking in the mirror and saying “I love you” instead of the opposite.

It starts with planning and thoughtfulness.

Because when you love someone, you plan for their happiness. So I plan for mine.

I focus on breaking the habits. I might go to the fridge, but the fridge has fruits and veggies. I might make brownies, but they are made with whole wheat flour, and bran, and xylitol, and pure cacao powder. I might eat three pieces of brownies, but I also eat fruit, and smoothies, and home-made vegetable juices. I focus on drinking more water, taking vitamins, and feeding myself the nutrients and minerals I need to be healthy.

I workout with friends. I go walking, bike riding, and try to find activities where I can move around. I walk to the store sometimes, instead of taking the bus.

I try. I’m not perfect. But I’m not giving up.

I feel good. The mirror reflects the same figure, but I have a different attitude. The soreness in my muscles from working out are badges of success.

I can’t wait to see how it goes, how I look after working out for a month. A year.

I’m looking to join a gym. I’m focusing on me, taking care of me, without distractions or disillusion.

I’m learning to love myself.

I have my support. I have someone to talk to about tips to improve my self, and improve my habits. Form new, better habits. I have a plan, which I follow and have accountability. I have found something that works for me.

Failing and Rising

I am human. Imperfect.

I accept that I may not be faithful.

But success is getting up one more time than the number of times I have fallen.

Mathematically translated:

~ let x = # times fallen
~ let y = # times getting up

My formula for success: y = x + 1

[Yes, I am a nerd. And proud of it.]

Because that line still swims through my head: “Why do we fall down? So we can get back up.”

Thanks Batman.

But, as my sibling reminds me, failure isn’t “falling off the wagon”.

Failure is giving up, no longer trying.

So I’m not failing, I may stumble, but I’m still walking, going strong.

And I’m alive.

~ Life ~ hope ~

Enablers Cook for the Addiction

Cooking their veins with skinny topped
Spoonfuls of synergy;
They don’t mind sharing, just give them yours
And they’ll start the daily communion.
Serve the daily bread
Liquidated here to powder and heat
The fumes arise, water your eyes

Your lips are dry, chapped, neglected and
Ignored as your whispers and incantations
Rise like incense with the smoke and taint.
Your eyes twitch like an epileptic in a seizure,
A true believer to worship and adore.
Leave your money, your family;
Sacrifice your soul
For just one more…

They huddle around the single lighter’s flame,
They shove their salvation into the fire.
The tongues licking the bottom of their metallic spoons;
Their prayers ascending,
Their minds descending
Into animalistic intent and single-minded focus.

On cue.
One two.
You ingest the poison and powder your soul
Vomiting intent and diluted integrity
To consume all hopes in you
To inject the sorrow and despair into your veins
Cooking your brain, fry your sanity
For mere moments of delusion.

Why is the motto:
Fight over smack,
Share a needle?
Such irony.

Cooking their veins with sugar topped, artery-clogged
Spoonfuls of resentment;
They don’t mind taking, just give them yours
And they’ll start the daily consumption.
Serve the daily bread and butter
Baked here to confection and fat-frosted
Scents that waft and dry your eyes

Your lips are dry, chapped, neglected and
Ignored as your whispers and incantations
Rise like incense with the fryer steam and smoke.
Your hands shake like a diabetic in a candy store,
A true believer to worship and adore.
Leaving your dignity, and your happiness;
Sacrifice your soul
For just one more…

They huddle around the overladen buffet table,
They shove their hands into the platters.
Their tongues licking the bottom of their metallic spoons;
Slobbering over grasping fingers even as
Their guilt arises,
Their disgust bubbles forth
Into depressed intent and dissipated resolution.

On cue.
One two.
You ingest the confection and smother your soul
In butter, sugar, pastries and gradual death,
Vomiting intent and diluted integrity
To consume all hopes in you;
To swallow the sorrow and despair into yourself,
Drown your body’s voice, and destroy your health
For mere moments of escapism.

Why is the motto:
Fight over snacks,
Share a scale?
Such irony.

Demon in Disguise

I’ve caught myself an angel,

No more to fly away;

Grounded to the solid earth,

No more to soar on high.

I’ve caught myself an angel,

I ripped off her glossy wings;

Now she is one of us

Earth bound beings.

I’ve caught myself an angel,

Isn’t she divine?

She is beautiful and graceful,

An exotic bird on arm.

I’ve caught myself an angel,

That refuses to leave my side;

She pines if I leave her long,

Tightly grasps my sleeve.

I’ve caught myself an angel,

For me she trades the sky;

The outer realms of space and flight,

Heaven, cosmos, and universe.

I’ve caught myself an angel, Mother,

I cannot give her up;

It is very hard to tell, mother,

Who is a slave to whom.

An angel has caught myself,

She’ll never let me go;

No matter how far I run,

In chains, she drags me back.

An angel has caught myself,

Now I’m trapped in this snare;

How could I have ever known,

That one’s possessions can also possess?

An angel has caught myself,

She stole my budding wings;

I couldn’t leave her if I tried,

She’ll go and hunt me down.

An angel has gotten a hold of me,

Now we breed discontent;

I am tied to her, she is tied to me,

One great happy family.

An angel has gotten a hold of me,

Resentful she has been;

I am punished for my sins,

She taunts me to atone.

An angel has got a hold of me, mother,

She will not let me go;

It was good while it lasted, mother,

But now we live in hell.