Thursday, 20 October 2016

Not too Dysfunctional: Gratitude and a Sense of Purpose

I am taking Abnormal Psychology this semester.  The class has stimulated a great deal of enlightenment within me, as my eyes have been further opened to suffering in this world – suffering of others and suffering of myself.  I would like to believe that the first step in defeating an enemy is to get to know them.  I have gotten to know very many enemies this semester!  In the most recent chapter personality disorders were discussed.  Schizoid personality disorder (extreme social isolation, but no desire to change it) and Avoidant personality disorder (extreme social isolation and a strong desire to change this, but inability to do so) stood out to me.  We were required to make a forum post (Prompt was: Which disorder was most surprising to you?) about the contents of the chapter and this was my response:

“The Schizoid and Avoidant personality disorders were personality disorders that were not necessarily surprising to me, but types which, whilst reading, awakened a sense of sorrowful remembrance, but also gratitude and a sense of purpose within me.

I saw a psychologist (thanks to gentle nudging therewards by my family) back in 2013 with the hopes of getting some clarity on various issues I had in my life mostly centring around social anxiety.  After a few sessions with the therapist, she stated that I had a mild form of social anxiety.  I certainly had the desire to approach, talk and enjoy other people (unlike the schizoid type), but had a good deal of fear and numerous terrible, non-self-serving cognitions (like the avoidant personality type) that held me back from living my life more fully and completely.  Since the diagnosis I have taken up the sword and the shield to defeat the demons of my past and I have fought this fight publicly - I have created a blog that mostly deals with social anxiety and fears that I struggle with.  I certainly have not completely vanquished the enemy, but I have come a long way in living a life more closely to what I am truly capable of living. 

Reading about the avoidant personality type was especially heart-wrenching because I identify with so many of the characteristics that outline diagnosis for avoidant personality.  I actually wondered why I was not diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder, however, the text discussed how many researchers consider avoidant personality disorder to be a more severe form of social anxiety rather than a diagnostic category in and of itself.  This discussion made me realize that even though I certainly had social anxiety, my condition was a far cry from avoidant personality disorder.  I had it good, so to speak.  I had an acutely strong appreciation for my parents and family for letting me grow up in the wonderful way that I did so that I developed sufficient resilience to not devolve into a more severe form of anxiety.  I wondered how different I could have been had I grown up in a broken, dysfunctional home in a war-torn, impoverished area where hope is something that you only see in the movies - not a daily reality. 

I can only thank God that I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family who probably (in no way do I think is this an overstatement) saved me.  I can only hope that one day I may help improve dysfunctional families/communities and contribute to overcoming fear that resides in others, much like Marsha Linehan did to take up the fight with borderline personality disorder which she was afflicted by for so many years.  I think we all deserve the opportunity to have a shot at self-actualisation which is the very top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and I feel that I have a responsibility to get others to the point of seeing that promised land.  What someone does with their shot at self-actualization is, however, up to them.”


Friday, 14 October 2016


For those that wonder about USA’s Homecoming Elections, I can tell you that I have lost.  Plain and simple – defeated.

As is the tendency of a soul such as my own, there is a tumultuous conundrum of feelings, thoughts and fears mulling through my soul at this time.  So, do take what I am to say with a good dash of salt. 


There are a number of negative things that are bubbling at the surface of my heart to tell you of this campaign – oh, many!  Things that happened that hurt me dearly, things that happened that I wish never did, but I will not use this public platform to announce my short-sighted emotionality to all.  However, I will remain honest and I will express my largest concern with the campaign.  I think that the majority was not right.  There, I said it.  Now that I have that off my chest I will say that I spite of my personal opinion that the majority was wrong, I will say that I am a believer in the system of democracy.  I respect it – dearly.  Therefore, the result I shall not contest – instead, it has my blessing and I wish the winners all the very best for a joyous period for them.  I am truly happy for the chance they will have to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  May they go in peace and success in all their ways.


Here I am though, another blot added to the once white flag.  The common observer might contest that this formerly white flag of my life could never have been the clean white that I suppose it to have been.  It is dastardly, devilishly, tattered, torn, broken, dirty, vile, unloved, devoid of light.  From such no good can proceed.

On the surface, they are not incorrect.  My life story has been, shall we say, inundated with grandiose, lofty goals that in virtually every circumstance failed to come to fruition.  This campaign loss will hardly make a dent on the flag.  Indeed, it joins but a sea of loss and sorrow.  I seem to always set myself goals that are just beyond the Pale, just beyond the cusp of reality, just above the stars, just out of reach. 

The shadow of melancholy that naturally descends upon the loser after his/her discomfiture is a common guest to my house.  I suppose one could say I know failure on a first name basis.  Yet, I will have you know that, in spite of our familiarity, failure is not a pleasant fellow at all.  Failure barges into one’s house at the worst of times.  Failure is inappropriate in its control of tongue and heart to be sore and hurt.  Failure knocks out the columns of the sturdy structure of self-esteem – only to reveal how fragile it actually was.  Failure swoops one down to lowest ring of hell for to make one think that such is normal and real and one’s destiny.  Failure blots out the light of hope that has learned to rekindle itself after his every visitation. 

I despise failure.  I wish for it to depart from me for it feels terrible.


But the shadow, the cloud it passes.  The dark and lamentable obstruction of hope has never caused the night to drag on endlessly.  The morning, the sun will come again one day.  The tragedy of it all is that we know not when the light will break through the dense and hefty clouds.  It may be in the morning or may we may not live to see that day. 

Yet, my heart is fixed – trusting in the Lord, my God.  I trust this pervasive, yet hardly easily reachable Being with more than just the now.  His concept of time and perspective I can never match.  If only we could, maybe today’s horrors would be more intelligible.  But we look upon a murky, veiled glass of the future – one which no man can decipher.  Yet, the Lord calls us upon the waters.  He calls us into the deep.  He calls us beyond our boundaries – beyond the Pale.  For in his foresight He knows where this bosom, the wandering, meandering minstrel must lay his head to rest one day.  For there where the head doth find his rest – there the world shall be made to know a soul, a story that has never been told before.  A story that, in spite of its own shortcomings and dark endings, will establish light, hope for all of mankind.  One day that day will come and today’s suffering will enlighten the murky glass which no man can see to open our eyes more completely, more fully to the magnificent vision that the Creator of all has for us. 

Today is not that day though.  This hour is an hour of wolves, of shattered shields, of breaking of fellowships, of loss, of sorrow and of tragedy.  This shadow will pass, but it must run its full course.  For if it does not run its intended course, no lesson, no growth may be procured from its lamentable presence.  So, I say to failure, to this shadow, stay but for a season.  Teach me your lessons.  Prune me so that tomorrow when you are gone I may serve as a beacon for my fellow beings who are lost as well that we may know that we are not as lost as we may think we are.  Let your darkness actually be the spark to set the kindling of our souls alight so that this all-consuming fire may be ensample for the world of overcoming, of rebounding, of rising again.  Let us not descend into the un-innocent, elegant, unmagnificent lives of the lost.  Bring us to that promised land that flows with milk and honey.  Teach us the skills needed to get there, so that today’s loss may one day be seen for what it truly is – a stepping stone to things greater than anything we can imagine.


I thank the thousands of people who voted for me. I thank the opposition who run a hell of a challenging campaign that gave me growth like nothing else.  I thank the numerous that helped my campaign.  I thank my God for bringing me to this challenge and I trust in Him to bring me to that promised land.  The shadow will teach me more than the cup of victory ever can.

And so to this shadow, I will say, teach me, grow me, build me, strengthen me and enlighten me as only you can.