Escaping An Abusive Relationship

I recently lost one of my closest friends to an abusive relationship. I’m obviously devastated, but more than that, I’m fucking irate that abusive relationships are so prevalent in our society and, even though the signs and symptoms of abusive relationships are readily known and available, so many people are still blindsided by abusers.

No matter how many times I reached out, no matter how many times I tried to get through to her—to let her know that I knew what was going on and that everyone around her could see that she was being controlled, manipulated, abused—she denied it and insisted she was fine or she just ignored me.

And there’s the glaring problem. Victims of abuse—be it emotional or physical or both—become brainwashed into believing that their relationships with their abusers are tolerable, normal even. Many feel their intuition tweak in the form of gut feelings, but they ignore their own inner warning system and convince themselves that it’s all good.

I know this because I’ve been there. TWICE. I’m a slow learner.

Fight or Flight Shuts Down Creative Thought

The most interesting thing about victims of abuse is that they live every day—often every moment—in a fight or flight state, always prepared for their abuser to erupt. It is a scientific fact that the human brain, when in a fight or flight state, shuts down the area of the brain that allows for creative thought. So while abuse victims are in fight or flight, their brains specifically remove their ability to see what’s actually happening, to recognize it for abuse, and plan their escape. If you ever talk to victims of abuse—the ones lucky enough to escape from their abusers by whatever means—it is very common for them to admit that they had NO IDEA they were being abused until AFTER they got away from their abuser and had time to decompress. Even then, it usually takes a few months, until their brains relax out of the FoF state, before they have that huge A-HA moment.

And it’s all because abusers are fucking skilled at manipulation, fear and guilt tactics, and controlling others. AND, many abusers don’t even have a clue that they are abusive. Whether it’s from childhood trauma or life bullshit or if they are just wired that way—they aren’t self-aware enough to see their behaviours as wrong or abnormal. Most abusers feel fully justified in their behaviours and convictions and it’s near impossible to convince them otherwise.

Abusive Behaviours

Abusers tend to exhibit a lot (if not all) of these behaviours:

  • they regularly lie or twist the truth, often believing their own delusions and becoming righteous about them.
  • they think twelve steps ahead of everyone.
  • they instinctively know how to twist situations to make everything seem like the victim (or someone else) is at fault. They seldom own their shit or admit to being wrong and are wizards at blaming everyone else for all the shitty things they do.
  • they always know how to guilt trip their victims.
  • they intrinsically understand how to constantly make their victims question their own worth until they conclude that they must, indeed, be useless and worthless—with comments like “you can’t make it without me” and “you’re pathetic” and “who else would even want you?” and “I’m smarter than you” and so much more.
  • they always present a likeable facade to the outside world. This is a huge reason SO MANY abusers get away with the shit they do. They are excellent actors and never show the outside world the person under the mask.
  • they use words or fists or both to beat their victims down, exhaust them and keep them constantly walking on eggshells and in fight or flight, so they lose their ability to try to (or even think about) escape. As an aside, this kind of constant stress also depletes the victim’s health and immune system, inviting in sickness. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did a study on abuse victims and major illnesses, such as cancer and autoimmune disorders. I predict there would be a high correlation between them, but I digress…
  • they mix their abusive moments in with moments of kindness, humour, “normalcy” that give their victims hope that there is a good person in there somewhere who may emerge fully someday.
  • they control who the victim sees (often isolating them from friends and family, bit by bit), who the victim talks to (often monitoring their communication channels and preventing them from letting others know they are in trouble or need help), where the victim goes (often losing their shit or forbidding the victim to engage in certain activities if the abuser feels threatened or insecure about them), and so much more.
  • they threaten their victims with punishment or consequences if they try to leave, try to fight back, or try to express their belief that they are being treated poorly. They threaten to hurt or take away those their victim loves (or they actually DO take them away), claim the victim will not be able to make it in the world without them, threaten to say horrible things about the victim (which, of course, the victim believes because they regularly see others accept the abuser’s lies without so much as blinking), and all sorts of other bullshit that just isn’t true and has no merit.
  • they do everything in their power to control, manipulate, scare, and convince their victims that they are stuck in the relationship and can never escape.

And it’s all total bullshit.

None of those things make up a loving, respectful, healthy relationship.

None of those things are normal.

None of those things are even fucking acceptable.

People on the outside—the ones who love the victim and see everything so clearly and the ones who have been there, done that—end up feeling helpless and angry and infuriated that we can’t do anything to get through to the victim. Many of us try many times and fail repeatedly, either because the victim is so far gone or because the abuser catches on and shuts off all communication. We, too, end up burning out and giving up because all our efforts end in failure or disaster and we can no longer sustain the energy or the heartache associated with the situation. We can no longer condone the abuse and, by remaining in the victim’s life, we feel like we are doing exactly that. So we give up and back off because it’s not a healthy situation to be in, for anyone.

And then we lose the people we love and we have to mourn that loss while also wrestling with the guilt of not trying harder.

You CAN escape!

My only hope in writing this is for anyone who reads it and finds yourself checking off some or all of the behaviours I’ve listed, realize that this is NOT okay. Realize that you are being abused and that you are in an unhealthy, unstable relationship and you need to get help. If you feel you love your abuser and you think there is hope to get them help as well—that is certainly your choice—but you can’t do that if you stay in the relationship. The help can only come, for you or both of you, when you get some distance between you and have some time to process through the trauma you’ve sustained. My wish is that my words will somehow reach you, however far gone you are, and will bring you back to your senses and your heart center, where you will know it’s time to make a change.

And then, once you realize it, that you will find a way (no matter how scary it is or how many times it’s been drilled into your head that you can’t make it on your own) to reach out to family or friends or a helpline and ask for help to break free. Because it IS possible. You are not alone, even if you feel that you are, and you can find a way out. You just have to take that first step.

Microdosing LSD & Chronic Lyme Disease

Toxic people are like a bottle of poison we ingest slowly

Let’s talk about microdosing LSD and the effect it has on mental health issues caused by Chronic Lyme Disease! Hold onto your self-righteous, anti-drug hats, kids! I’m about to extol the virtues of psychedelics as therapeutics.

In April 2019, I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease after suffering through strange symptoms and unexplained illnesses, on and off, for 15 years. Back in 2004, I started having sporadic bouts of (what I believed to be) depression/extreme irritation (aka Bat Shit Crazy RAGE-O-HOLIC and crying episodes). As I’m not a fan of pharmaceuticals with a long list of side effects, I rejected my doctor’s suggestion that I take antidepressants and I did my best to try to control my crazy moods with healthy eating and regular exercise. However, now that I understand that my moods were a symptom of Lyme flare-ups, I realize that most of the time it didn’t matter how healthy I was eating or how hard I was trying to take care of my body. Most of it wasn’t making a difference.

After much research in the past few years (as many other symptoms began popping up in my body and mind), I decided to try to heal myself with food by trying to balance my gut flora. The brain is directly connected to the gut and if your gut flora gets all fucked up, so does your brain, so it made sense that if I healed my gut, my mood swings and down times would disappear. I worked with a nutritionist for months to heal and balance my gut microbiome, but once it was finally firing on all cylinders, I was still suffering from persistent brain fog and unexplained rages and malaise.

I’m kind of “persistent” (aka RELENTLESS), so when I didn’t get the results I expected, I kept searching for answers and a solution.

At the end of 2018, I stumbled upon a 14-part documentary called Psychedelica on Gaia.com and—Boom!—I had my answer.

The “magical” cure for my extreme moodiness and persistent brain fog that I’d been searching for came with microdosing. [As an aside, microdosing is taking tiny, therapeutic doses. The doses are so tiny (micro, in fact 🙄) that they usually have little to no effect on the body. Microdoses are also not to be confused with threshold doses, which open up your third eye and make you trip balls.] I first tried psilocybin (aka Magic Mushrooms) but even the smallest doses left me with a bit of a “body stone” and I couldn’t stand it. I don’t like the feeling of being fucked up or not in control of my faculties, so I gave up on the psilocybin and kept looking. A good friend introduced me to the idea of microdosing LSD and I figured I had nothing to lose so I gave it a try. The irony of using a synthesized drug (essentially, a pharmaceutical) to help my brain was not lost on me, but since all the side effects were actually beneficial, I said fuck it and tried it anyway.

All I can say is WOWZAS!

Psychedelics have removed my moodiness and persistent brain fog and I experience ZERO side effects from them—no physical sensation at all, no strange hallucinations or really much of anything else, except a good feeling. My brain, quite simply, functions better. My moods are stable, I can get all sorts of shit done, stress seems much easier to handle, and I feel happier.

Let me say that again, I feel happier.

Even on extremely tough days—when Lyme is making my body hurt all over, I’m struggling to just move around without wincing in pain, I have a pounding headache, and I’m wrestling with a stressful day or something particularly challenging, I STILL FEEL HAPPY and calm. Where I used to get overwhelmed and anxious, causing Lyme to flare and my symptoms to worsen, my brain now whispers shit like, “Don’t sweat it, girl. It’s just one moment in a lifetime of moments. What you can’t do today, you can do another day or never. It simply doesn’t matter.” And, strangely, I believe my brain’s brilliant pep talks and just skip (often figuratively because it’s too painful to literally do it) through my day.

Microdosing also helps me keep an eye on the upside as I struggle through the painful and Cha Cha nature (one step forward, two steps back) of Lyme Disease.

I’ve been on a new treatment for Lyme for a few months (high doses of Vitamin D3…the subject of another blog I’m currently drating) and this, coupled with the microdosing, has upped my health and wellness factor by 1000. The combo of the two are, for lack of a better description, a GD miracle!

Life has become so much easier that I often can’t wrap my head around it. It boggles my mind that I can take a tiny amount of a drug (without experiencing any detrimental side effects) and it fills my world with rational butterflies and rainbows, productivity, and sense. How is that even legal?

Oh, right! It’s not! Please allow me to digress for a moment…

There’s the rub, right. Pharmaceuticals for ADHD, anxiety, depression, BiPolar Disorder and the like—with DEBILITATING side effects, including heightened thoughts of suicide and DEATH—are highly accepted by society, while truly helpful and life-changing, extremely affordable psychedelics (with no ill side effects from therapeutic doses), are considered “illicit” and “criminal”.

What, the fuck, ever.

Anyway, what was I talking about??? Ah, yes…

Life has changed astronomically for me, even on non-dosing days. The tiny amounts I take have rewired my brain to have better focus and a much better understanding of my thoughts. It helps me to look at all feelings and emotions with logic and easy understanding, so I spend less time overreacting and more time working through shit. It also helps me recognize the stuff I can’t work through and probably never will and allows me to accept it all with grace.

Even without all the shitty symptoms from Lyme disease, microdosing would still be helpful for balancing moods and increasing brain function and productivity. It’s like a friggin’ miracle in a 5 microgram, non-addictive dose. Did I mention that it’s proven that psychedelics are NOT ADDICTIVE…unlike antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. FFS, governments, get your shit together.

If you are looking for more information on microdosing, here are some good links:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-microdoses-of-lsd-change-your-mind/

Judgy McJudgerson Syndrome

Top view of Twin Lakes in the Okanagan of British Columbia from top peak.

Being judgemental stems from insecurity. No brainer, right? So, if social media feeds our insecurities, then it also magnifies and compounds our tendencies to judge each other. 
Therefore, it would make sense to take frequent breaks from social media to reclaim our confidence with real-world connections, to absorb good vibes with time outside (preferably in nature), and to reset with less technology overload. Yes?

This seems so obvious and necessary, yet so many of us ignore this innate need to recharge. To add insult, we also basically torture ourselves, endlessly consuming feeds of fake perfection. We habitually pick up our phones and start scrolling and the more we scroll, the more insecurity creeps in and judgement wakes again from its perpetually shallow sleep.

Regardless of how happy, comfortable, and satisfied I am with myself and my life, insecurities still exist within me. Doubts about my self-worth, creative abilities, and my appearance still catch me off guard. It doesn’t matter if I instantly recognize them and know I’m being ridiculous or that I, of course, conveniently forget that I usually don’t give a shit what others think of me. The cold, hard-to-swallow truth is that we have to be constantly tapped into our self-awareness or insecurities slip through our defences and start wreaking havoc on our psyches.

This is why I stopped managing social media for other people. It’s also why I barely put any effort into my own social media accounts anymore. By the end of every day, being constantly bombarded by incomplete glimpses of other people’s seemingly better, bigger, prettier, more-exciting lives, I ended up living my own coated by a distinct layer of filthy lack. 

And that feeling of lack leads to the beginning of judgement, which, if we are not aware or careful, spirals into a world filled with unbalanced assholes who spread negativity. 

If I’m feeling good, aware of my thoughts, grooving with my vibe, and focusing on myself and my own energy, I am never judgemental. The more time I spend laughing with my friends, adventuring in the wilderness, hanging with my animals, and quietly connecting with myself, the less likely I am to give a flying fuck what other people are doing.

But, Jesus H. Christ, saturate me with social media bullshit and suddenly I find myself wearing the asshole hat and handing out negative vibes likes hooker cards on the Vegas strip. Scoffing at people’s happiness. Ridiculing people. Downright shitting on the work of other creatives. Finding ways to convince myself I am better than others. 

It’s fucking ridonculous (it’s a word. Google it, bitches.) and not who I am. Not who I ever want to be. 

My point is that a huge part of maintaining a high vibe is recognizing negative patterns within ourselves and working hard to change them and, for me at least, social media saturation is a pattern I recognize and am working to change. 

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be outside soaking up nature’s cleansing energy, belly laughing with my people, and clearing out all the angst that the online collective can breed within me. 

Kids & Journaling

A photo of many coloured journals beside the words "Teach your kids to journal" as part of written therapy.

When I was in Grade 5 (10 years old), I wrote a short story and a poem and submitted them in a contest. As a result, I was invited to attend the Young Authors of Canada conference in Montreal later that year. When my radtastical teacher, Mrs. Kirwin, told me the news, I practically levitated with excitement the entire way home. Unfortunately, when I told my mom the news, even though she was truly proud of me, she told me I couldn’t go to the conference. 

I. was. pissed.

My 10-year-old brain could not even fathom the costs of flying a child and her mother across the entire country, so when mom told me that we just couldn’t afford it, I was less than gracious about it. I threw a tantrum. 

I remember this so clearly, in such detail, that it must be one of those defining milestones in a child’s life. I was mid-tantrum when my mom slapped me across the face. It wasn’t a hard slap (and shit like that was perfectly acceptable back then), but it sure as shit stopped me in my tracks. She told me she didn’t want to hear another word unless I could lose my attitude and be nicer. I stormed off to my room and stewed for hours, screaming in frustration every now and then. (Yes, I was a complete SHIT when I was a child…)

Just before bedtime, mom came into my room and sat on my bed, where I was still pouting, arms crossed and glaring out the window. She told me that she understood how upset I was about not being able to go to the conference and that she was extremely proud that I’d been invited because she knew how much I loved writing stories and poems. But, she said, despite the reasons for not being able to go, she wasn’t going to apologize about not being able to afford the trip and that my behaviour and treatment of her was totally unacceptable. She said that, from that point on, when if I became extremely angry, I was to come to my room and write down everything I was feeling and thinking instead of speaking out loud about it. She said that it would give me the chance to get all of my anger out and it would stop me from hurting someone’s feelings by speaking unkind words.  She also said that I didn’t have to apologize to her because she knew how upset I was, but she wanted me to really think about how I spoke to her from that point onward. 

She placed something on my bed and walked out of my room. I looked down to see a cute little notebook and a pack of ballpoint pens in assorted colours. It was one of those old Hilroy books with the top half of the page blank and bottom half lined and she’d written “Jo’s Anger Journal” on the front in her neat printing. 

Man alive, I was good at being a shithead.

Aside from the fact that I was THRILLED with the cool pens AND the gift of the new notebook, I immediately picked it up and wrote my mom an angry, assholish letter. I made sure to point out that she was a terrible mother, that she didn’t care about me, that if she really loved me she would find the money to make my dreams come true (hahaha, Jayzus, right!). One of the lines I wrote said, “My mom is such a bich. She is always trying to ruin my dreams. I don’t even like her at all.” 

I was 10. What in the actual fuck?

I went to sleep that night with the book on the floor beside my bed and, when I woke up, I noticed the book was on my desk. Curious, I walked over and opened it to the entry I’d made the night before. My mom, with the rad sense of humour that she was famous for, had used a red pen to cross out “bich” and wrote “bitch” above it. 😂She’d also written, directly underneath the part where I’d said I didn’t like her, “Sometimes I don’t like your attitude or your smart mouth, but I always love you, am always be proud of you, and will always be here for you.”

I bolted out of my room to the kitchen, feeling a huge amount of remorse for being such an asshole and so childish, and wrapped my arms around her and told her how sorry I was. 

I have been journaling ever since and it has helped me get through some of the darkest times in my life. That first journal turned into a lifelong therapy tool and, knowing how much writing helps me to process my own shit and connect with others, I am eternally grateful for her motherly insight and the push to get me started. 

The Collective Vibe

Energy speaks.

Your energy has the power to change the world.

Think that bold statement is just a bunch of hooey?

Ever been cruising through your day in a jolly good mood only to suddenly find yourself pissed off after someone is rude to you or rude to someone else in front of you? 

Ever been dragging your feet and head around in a depressive fog only to experience an instant shift upward when someone smiles at your or makes you laugh? 

Such is the power of energy sensitivity; it’s built into our divine DNA and we all find ourselves affected by others. 

When something profound happens (such as the Amazon burning right now), people in other parts of the world, who may not even know it’s happening, will find themselves waking up full of unexplained positive or negative emotions. These feelings may plague them for days or weeks and, unless they get how energy works, they may not even notice how affected they are. If you get enough people feeling a certain emotion or vibrating at a certain frequency, the energy of it travels far and wide, one person at a time, like…well, like wildfire. 

Those people who are tuned in to the collective energy intuitively understand this. We instinctively feel when energy is not our own and we get that it’s our responsibility to keep raising the vibe by controlling how we project our own energy. 

Why? 

Because so many others aren’t tuned in, aren’t aware of their energy at all, have no idea how their energy can influence others, or simply aren’t equipped to choose the vibe they project. 

And that’s perfectly okay. Everyone in the world is here to experience life at their own pace and even though they may not be aware of the effect their energy has on others right now, eventually—in this lifetime or another—they’ll get there, just as we have.

Am I saying that we (who are tuned in) should strive to walk around all the time with sunshine and rainbows shooting out of our asses? As if. Impossible. 

I’m saying that we have a responsibility to choose—even on our darkest days—how we interact with and treat others and that choice will continue to raise the vibe and improve humankind’s outlook.