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To Fulfill our Humanness

There are many things I wish to say, but I’m not quite sure how to express, to begin, or to articulate it in a coherent manner. The theme though is that of love as represented in the recent exquisitely tragic movies (both which were originally classic books) of Anna Karenina and the Great Gatsby.

What is it about tragic romances that capture our hearts… our souls? Is it because it so closely mirrors that of are own lives? The tragedy that is all around us and the happiness that always evades us?

Ironically we associate love with happiness… goodness… the apex of life… but all that it seems to bring is heartache, tears, and what may feel like the ruin of our hearts. But yet somehow… it is so hard to give up that dream so we grasp for anything that resembles it.

Love is intangible, but yet we reach towards the heavens, trying to defy gravity, ignoring the truth about how high we are and how far we have to go when we fall, trying to grasp the ungraspable with all that is within us. It is only when we fully cling on to that higher branch of the tree (that oddly feels tangible for something that should be intangible) so that it is the only thing that supports us that we realize it isn’t a branch at all, but a snake in disguise… making us fall until we catch ourselves or hit rock bottom….

In Anna Karenina, the love that fueled Anna and Alexis was that of carnal passion. There was an indescribable pull that brought these two people together… but was it “love” in the everlasting sense? If Anna hadn’t married her husband, and she met Alexis… would they have had a marriage that lasted? Their love not only destroyed their lives, but it destroyed their families and all those associated with them… but yet throughout the story you are hoping.. praying… that they would have been able to save their love.. their lives… each other. Why would we root for a couple whose love was nothing but destruction… surely within it there must have been hope… hope that it could have been true.

But then we get to the problem of “hope” in the Great Gatsby. Gatsby believed in nothing but his love for Daisy. It didn’t matter that the past was receding and he couldn’t grasp it, he still hoped with everything in him to rekindle the love they shared in the past. He hoped for love and his dream. And yet with that hope… it only ended in death… His love so pure… was not something that could lead to life… for his love lived in the past and could not thrive in the present.

So if carnal passion nor hope and belief in love can let love thrive… can it truly thrive? How are we to grasp the ungraspable? How are we to reach to the top of the tree without falling to our death? How are we to to see to the success of relationships that may only lead to destruction?

The answer I found was also in Anna Karenina, in the often overlooked side story of Kitty and Levin, which is one of the most underrated romantic stories in literature. It is not a story filled with a lot of carnal passion or extreme acts to show one’s affection but… one of innocence and purity in wanting to find one person to share their life with and give them their all.

I think that is the point of Kitty and Levin’s side story… it is to show the contrast. The carnal passion filled romance of Alexis and Anna brought only destruction, sorrow, and eventual death, but the love and romantic passion of Kitty and Levin created life.

Even when Levin thought all hope was lost and that Kitty did not love him… he continued on with his life. He did not fade away into the wind when his hope left him. He sought for understanding and reason. At points he may have stumbled and lost some hope, but he continued on… that is what is important… he brushed himself off and continued on walking through life… and when he was ready he was able to once again open the door… and his love, Kitty, came running to him.

At the end of the movie, he comes to understand that the whole time… he lived for love… and that is what kept him going… for the majority of time it was not for romantic love… but all the different forms that love can take: for his people, for his land, for his brother… and it is what gave him satisfaction in his life… it was not for reason that he lived… it was not for hope that he lived… it was not for carnal passion that he lived… but it was for love… in all its forms… for all of life.

In reference to romantic love though… Levin gives a small speech that made me completely love him:

An impure is not love to me. To admire another man’s wife is a pleasant thing but sensual desire indulged for its own sake is greed. And the misuse of something sacred was given to us so that we may choose the one person with whom to fulfill our humanness. Otherwise, we might as well be cattle.

He defines love as choosing “one person with whom to fulfill our humanness.”

Love is not all about that one person, or him, but it is an intangible decision to live your life out with another. Yet also love cannot be contained to one individual. That is how we fall… love must come from all aspects of life to support you if one branch breaks.

I’m not sure if I will ever find that love… I greatly hope for it… but I don’t want to limit my life by it like Gatsby… I want it to be something that adds on to my already good life… allows me to share my life and the wonders of the world I discover with someone else.

I also don’t want to be limited my life and love to only be about passion. Passion is of course important… but I have had my hand in a passion similar to Anna’s and I never want that it again… it only brought destruction.

Even though we can find redeeming qualities in both love stories… I want my love story to mirror that of Kitty and Levin…

I want to find a pure love like Kitty and Levine’s that creates only goodness and life.

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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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There is hope for those with OCD

PS I’m totally in this!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Perception

Some days seem to be not as bright and colorful as others… but beauty will come out of everything…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it is that perception is reality.

How someone perceives the world, events that happen around them and to them… is someone’s reality. People obviously perceive things differently… so everyone’s reality is different.

You can’t read this blog and not know that I have had my share of fear, pain, hurt, and misery… but I’ve also had my share of love, joy, hope, and dreams coming true.

Still though… I always perceived my life in the same way through all of this. I saw it in the same colors in the same hue and vividness.

Cross-culturally colors are a unique phenomenon. Not every culture perceive the same colors. Some cultures only have two colors (black and white), three colors (black, white, and red), or four (black, white, red, blue (though sometimes instead of blue its green or yellow)).

Recently… those colors I perceived in my life changed drastically… things became became more bright, more vivid, more beautiful, more brilliant, and more full of hope. It was like I was on the crest of perceiving another color that had yet to be discovered. One of a beautiful mystery.

That small change of my perception was apparently only supposed to last for a little bit.

I’m extremely sad and heartbroken that it only lasted for a short period of my life.

Now though that things have gone back to what my ‘normal’ was… things seem duller then they once were. It is like once that vividness and beauty of that short period left me, it left me blind… in wanting of it back… in pain of no longer having it. Things don’t seem as beautiful as they did even prior to that moment of drastic change.

But… I’m holding on to hope…

Hope that I can once again find that new reality that I am in such want of. I’ve had my taste of it… and I won’t rest again in my journey until I can taste it again and keep it for the rest of my life.

I can only hope that my perception of reality can be changed again… I so look forward to that day, when I can keep that new perception as mine forever, and have that new reality full of constant and unconditional love.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Hope Comes in a Quiet Whisper

So as part of the OCD conference attendees were asked to be an advocate for OCD. To tell people there is hope for those with OCD. Everyone who wanted to could be filmed saying “There is hope for those with OCD” and something else if they wished.

I thought long and hard about this. I wanted to say something meaningful. I wanted to help others. Of course I totally blew my session in front of the camera just b/c I became so nervous about the whole ordeal. But one of my sentences Jeff Bell said was beautiful and asked me to repeat it for the camera.

“Hope Comes in a Quiet Whisper.”

Honestly I have no idea how I came up with this. But it is completely and utterly true. I was just thinking of what I would write if I wrote my own Memoir and that sentence would be the title (and perhaps will be the title if I ever decide to write one…which I am actually contemplating).

This is what I wrote when I was first trying to decide what I would say to those who felt hopeless from OCD. It is basically a very summarized memoir (some of it comes straight from this blog..just in case why you are wondering a part or 2 sounds familiar):

Hope comes in a quiet whisper, a whisper that if you are courageous enough can change your life.

I’m 22 years old, and have had OCD since I was at least 8 years old. I didn’t know though that I had a disorder until September 2011, when I was just a few months from turning 22.

From around the age of 8, I remember having obsessive thoughts of contamination (contaminating both myself and others), thoughts that if I didn’t do or say certain things that I and who ever my thoughts were aimed at were going to hell, thoughts that if I didn’t do certain things in places that made me feel uncomfortable that I was going to die, thoughts that I was a bad person, and that, no matter what, I would never be good enough. Of course these obsessions were partnered with elaborate rituals (such as writing ‘I Love God’, ‘I Love Jesus’ on the shower wall with my finger, touching my nose to ensure that I was breathing and not dying, avoiding certain situations, petting my dogs in the exact right pattern, etc).

When I was young I tried to speak to my parents once or twice about it, but I was too afraid that they would institutionalize me or try to perform an exorcism. I truly believed I was demon possessed. I can’t express to you how torturous these thoughts were to an eight year old. I was convinced that my parents would no longer love me if I let them see what I believed was the ‘true me.’

I don’t think I can say that I went into remission. But as the years went on I found ways to cope. One way was even hiding it from myself. I would have OCD difficulties but would make myself forget them right after they happened. I didn’t want to acknowledge it.

My illusion that I was ok held pretty well throughout middle school and high school. The stresses of college though ripped my illusion fiercely apart. In addition to all that I outlined above, I went into a spiral of morbid obsessions and perfectionism. I honestly don’t know how I survived my undergraduate career. The thoughts debilitated me, but I was able to keep it hidden. I thought it was only a matter of time before someone would notice and institutionalize me. My compulsion though for my morbid obsessions was avoidance, so it was easy to hide: I just simply refused to let people touch me, because I was afraid that I would do something to them. Living a life in academia also made it easy to hide perfectionism, because who doesn’t want to be perfect to get into the best programs? All of this only got worse when I entered graduate school. Especially morbid obsessions, perfectionism, a high sense of responsibility to all of those that I came in contact with, and contamination issues.

I can’t describe to you though the constant pain I was in. I wasn’t dying a little everyday. All of me was dying everyday only to be cursed to be reincarnated into the same person the next day and the next.

I was in a silent prison screaming. It was all I could hear, but no one could hear me. One day though I heard something that was not characteristic of my constant scream. It was a whisper that broke through. A whisper of hope.

At this point in my life I no longer cared about myself. I didn’t believe that I deserved to ever be happy, feel comfortable, feel wanted, or feel loved. But because I had a high sense of responsibility for all those around me I knew I wanted to help others. Before OCD hit me in undergrad, I was enthusiastic about community service. All I ever did was want to make other’s lives better, whether or not someone knew it was me making their lives better.

So my whisper of hope disguised itself as a whisper of a memory, this idea that I could make other’s lives better. If I truly was a horrible person, I wanted to spend the rest of my life (if I could leave my house) counteracting it.

After one particularly bad OCD episode in which I had convinced myself that both my roommate and I were going to die from the chemical residue of the cleaning supplies I used to decontaminated our bathroom (I needed TONS of reassurance from my roommate and my parents that you can’t die from cleaning products), I finally sought for a therapist.

I knew something was wrong with me, and a therapist would know whether there was something mentally wrong with me or if I needed to be locked up as a psychopath.

This is when my hope extended and transformed into my therapist. He gave me hope. He explained to me that I had something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and that in fact I was NOT an evil person. He didn’t judge me.

I still had a hard time believing this hope. But this hope was there. Waiting patiently for me. A little louder than a whisper now that I heard a trained professional tell me it was going to be ok. My hope then continued to transform into my parents, who continued to love me even after I told them all of my ‘horrible’ secrets. Like a blooming flower, my hope opened wider to encompass a few select friends who offered me support. Hope then manifested in the form of humor. Humor that kept me laughing at myself and my crazy compulsions.

Finally, my hope grew to embrace me. I now began to believe in me. I finally believed that the OCD was not me and I could be the beautiful person I always wanted to be.

Hope manifests itself in so many ways. It will transform and materialize in the ways you most need it. You just have to be brave enough to first listen for that hint of a whisper.

There is hope for those with OCD.

…..

I’ll write about the conference tonight! I promise!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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[untitled]

“‘Because you don’t notice the light without a bit of shadow. Everything has both dark and light. You have to play with it till you get it exactly right.’”

“But forgiveness… I’ll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there’s an awful lot of gray to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.”

“When the music is over, she keeps her head down till she finds her seat again, and I wonder how many times each day she dies a little.”

So I’m not sure how to title this post. I’m a little unsure of how this post will go in general. I’ve been at my sister’s house doing absolutely nothing but babysitting her dogs in a town I’ve never been in and no car to go anywhere. So basically I am bored out of my mind. But it has allowed me to do a lot of reading and reflect upon what I read.

As I mentioned I’ve been reading the trilogy A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I read the first book many years ago when I was still in high school. At that time I wasn’t really ready for the book. I found it really dark and disturbing. Obviously I’ve reread it and I’m now in love with the book. I think my high school reaction was due to the fact that I led an extremely sheltered life and I couldn’t relate to anything in the book.

I couldn’t relate to the darkness that was within and the light that hope brought to it. I had never really experienced it before. Of course I had hardships growing up, I mean you can read this blog and clearly see that…. but the darkness inside of me I tried my hardest to hide and so I forgot it was within me.

As I mentioned before, OCD plagued me as a young child… I didn’t understand why I was having such disturbing thoughts. I didn’t understand that I wasn’t evil. As I aged though I found that the easiest way to deal with it was to ignore it. Pretend that there was nothing wrong with me, so there would be nothing wrong with me (even though I did some ridiculous compulsions… but I would just forget about it right after it happened).  But as Libba Bray puts elegantly in her book  “you can’t keep up the illusion forever,” …“No one has that much magic.” 

When I had my OCD melt down in undergrad…when my illusion finally broke… I can’t describe the constant pain I was in. I wasn’t dying a little everyday… all of me was dying everyday… only to be cursed to be reincarnated in the same body the next day and the next… to feel the constant pain and torment from the thoughts that plagued me. Thoughts of harming myself and others… thoughts that I was evil… thoughts that no matter what I did I was damned.

I fought it so hard. And with OCD… often the more you fight it without using the right type of therapy (which I wasn’t in therapy at all b/c I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with me beyond thinking I was evil) the worse it gets, because your brain gets stuck on repeat on the same horrible thoughts. Now that I know it was OCD that plagued my life, you think I could forgive myself… but honestly I still find that I can’t. What in the first place could possibly get those types of thoughts in my head? I had those thought… I couldn’t stop them… and what scared me even more was the constant thought it my head to stop fighting and to give into the thoughts and make them into actions. I’m proud and relieved to say that I NEVER acted on those thoughts… but the idea that I might act on the thoughts was a persistent OCD fear. I couldn’t trust anyone or anything… especially me. So really my OCD was like this: I would have a horrible obsession.. say harm obsession… then I would freak out that I would actually do it.. which would then make me obsesses over whether I was truly an evil person… and then my compulsion was to take myself out of the game and/or ask for reassurance. Confine myself to a life of academia and in my apartment so that I could never hurt anyone, as my obsessional thoughts were making me think I was going to do.

How can I forgive myself for this? How can I trust myself? How do I know that this really is OCD and I’m not evil? What person could possibly have these thoughts and still be a good person?

And knowing that it is OCD has honestly made me feel better… but also worse in some ways… I feel like I’m being desensitized to some of my horrible thoughts. When I realize one is rolling in I’m like “oh this is an OCD thought don’t pay attention to it.” I then begin to think of something else such as the weather outside. I let the “train pass by” trying not to give it a second glance so to speak. The problem is though… is that I realize that I have these thoughts still… and that they are just becoming a normal piece of my life… but I DON’T WANT THESE THOUGHTS EVER IN MY MIND. How can I possibly make them go away forever????? I don’t want to become desensitized, because what if being desensitized is what leads someone to taking action because it “really isn’t that big of a deal?”

Its like I’m constantly fighting the darkness within me. I don’t want to be dark at all. I want to help people. I want to make people’s lives better. I don’t care if my name is remembered or if my actions are known… I just want to bring happiness to someone who has never known it or heal the soul of someone who needs it. ….But… I’m too terrified of myself… I can’t bring myself to get close to anyone b/c what if I accidentally do something to hurt them?

So with the OCD… the obsessional thoughts have stopped thanks to medication.. but… its more like that I now have this haunting thought lying beneath all my other thoughts and motivations “what if my soul is really a dark place? what if I’m not good? what if I can’t ever control my thoughts?… and eventually what if my thoughts take over my actions?”

Maybe I should just continue taking myself out of the game. So that I can’t hurt anyone. Because what kind of life can I currently lead? I’m too scared of doing something wrong.

So maybe this is where I belong… in a city where no one knows who I am… doing a meaningless task of taking care of my sister’s dogs… it affects someone right? so I am doing good somehow right? But I’m out of the game of my life… I don’t want the control of my life nor do I want my thoughts to control my life… but how can one really live that way?

Do I need to do as this book suggests and find the balance between light and dark? Realize that I really am the light… but sometimes darkness overtakes my thoughts? Darkness may lie in my thoughts but I need to fight for the balance so that only light leaves as an action out of my body.

After all  “you don’t notice the light without a bit of shadow. Everything has both dark and light. You have to play with it till you get it exactly right.’”

I can’t stop living life… so I must find a balance… between my OCD and who it is I am and want to be.. a light in this dark world and within myself. I must emerge as something beyond an illusion and become the solid person I am… bringing hope and compassion to the world. Now that I’ve had a taste of darkness… even just in my own thoughts… I feel as though I can now help those more readily who are still searching for some hope of light.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Forgiveness and the Past

I have always considered myself to be a firm believer that everyone should be forgiven if they ask for it.

People make horrible decisions all the time and regret them afterwards. Wouldn’t it just be a better place if we were able to forgive each other if someone ardently wanted that forgiveness? I mean we shouldn’t be going around forgiving people who don’t see the error in their ways or don’t mourn for what they have done. But those who have truly seen the light and have changed… we should forgive them right?

I really don’t know anymore…

I feel there are awful things that I have done. Part of my OCD is that I never see myself as a good person. I know what it feels like to be hopeless and to believe no one in the world could ever care about you. It is such a horrible feeling that no words can do it justice.

So I should be willing to reach out to those who have never hurt me, but have hurt others but have asked for much forgiveness from all parties involved. right?

This would be a lonely world if no one could receive forgiveness from anyone on earth.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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