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Morning Breath and Morning Wood: Elephant Journal Reblog by Zoe Korrs


“I met my old lover on the street last night. She seemed so glad to see me, I just smiled. Then we talked about some old times and we drank ourselves some beers, still crazy after all these years.”

~ Paul Simon

I had dinner with an ex-lover last weekend. He waited until we ordered and then looked directly at me across the table and said, “I read your article, 6 Ways to Have Radically Intimate Sex, and you forgot the biggest one.”

I looked back at him trying to detect if he was serious or just playfully sparring. He was serious.

“Yes? Which one did I miss?” I said with tentative curiosity. Without hesitation, he said, “Morning Sex.” It came out of his mouth like the moderator at a spelling bee, each syllable deliberately and matter-of-factly articulated.


I felt my chest and throat tighten. My resistance tells me I am at my edge. He’s right. Morning sex is radically intimate.

“Oh right, I forgot that about you,” I replied.

I love middle-of-the-night sex—the kind when it’s pitch black and you’re half asleep, when agood naked spoon slowly becomes a fork—but when the sun streams through the windows, I usually want to sneak out undetected. As a boyfriend of mine once said upon waking, “You look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.” Even his charming London accent didn’t soften the blow. I am not a morning person by nature. Having post-coital company exacerbates this condition.

In the days after our dinner, the conversation stayed with me. I asked my ex-lover to tell me what he loves about morning sex. This is what he said:

“I love watching the woman I have been intimate with stirring in the morning light. It’s like that Leonard Cohen lyric, “I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm, your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm…”’

Morning is

A time of true heartfelt exchange

And then…without the liquid intoxication

It’s like first steps again

Freshness of the skin sensations

Eye to eye acknowledgement and smiles

A playful scene

Kissing past the bad breath and leftover scents

A reconvening

I love the force of sobriety

If you can fuck in the morning, you can win the world

Maybe it’s like blowing off the ash of the fire burned the night before and then feeding it again.

His words moved me. This is a man who is not afraid to feel. I know well the benefits of radical intimacy; the deep connection that is made through mutual vulnerability—the healing that comes from being seen and from the witnessing of another. I want to feel about morning sex the way he does.

“What would have to happen for that to happen?” I asked myself. It’s not easy—but it’s simple.

I would embrace my imperfections. I would be naked in broad daylight. I would love my scars that grace my body after 17 surgeries. I would rock my bed head like it was the mane of the goddess mother herself.

I would see my pale cheeks and bare lips as an expression of natural beauty.

The great researcher and author, Brené Brown, says that people who live “wholeheartedly” believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful. I imagine a space where physical imperfections actually make me more beautiful—because I embrace them with courage and the kind of self-love and compassion that it takes to dance naked in the sunlight with a lover, without shame. I want to live there.

And as far as the morning breath goes, I have found that a single sip of bubbly water from a bottle—strategically place on the nightstand the night before—has a way of freshening a morning mouth.

 By Zoe Korrs for Elephant Journal

“Post-modern Logical Fallacies” and Experential Ethics: Why women fear abandonment more than aggression

Reblogged from Elephant Journal

(The original author) used to think women were only afraid of aggression in men, in all its forms: anger, rage, physical violence, verbal abuse, sexual aggression, rape.

I grew up with all kinds of conflicting social messages about the wrongs (and subtle rights) of violence against women. With three sisters and two mothers (married to my two fathers), I learned early there was something inherently special about women, that they were different from men not just in body parts, but in essence.

I knew they should be protected and respected.

In addition to the daily masculine aggression towards women I encountered outside my home, I also watched my alcoholic step-father terrorize my mother, me and two sisters with an explosive rage (he’s 21 years sober now, and a good man). Seeing these beautiful, brilliant women in my life routinely recoil in the face of a horrifying masculine aggression only reinforced my ideas about a woman’s singular fear.

I learned to loathe the thought of making a woman feel unsafe in my presence. I wanted to make women feel good, to like me, and I had seen how aggression made them not feel good, how it made them hate a man.

So I did my best to never express aggression with a woman. Even sexually. I shut down sexually towards women for fear that my desire would be interpreted by them as aggression. Throughout my dating life and well into relationships, until I was 100 percent certain a woman welcomed a next step with me, I would not proceed with a next step.

A woman had to practically stick her tongue down my throat before I understood that kissing her was welcome.

I castrated myself in countless ways to protect women from any hint of masculine aggression in me.

I often practiced what I believed was the most certain way to make a woman feel safe: I made myself invisible to her.

Whether that meant backing down, staying out of her way, leaving the room, or simply pretending I didn’t want to ravage her when I so desperately did, I made myself as non-threatening in a woman’s presence as I could position myself to be.

I taught myself how to disappear. To save her from what I thought was her primal fear of my aggression.

I was completely missing what was really happening.

In the last few years I’ve discovered something women fear even more in men than mere aggression. It’s something far more common in our everyday world. Something us men even fear in ourselves, though most aren’t even conscious we’re doing it.

A feminine woman is most afraid of her masculine man disappearing. She’s afraid of him failing to show up for her. Not stepping up. Walking out. Not staying strong and present, particularly when things get a little crazy and confusing.

A woman’s deepest desire is to be cherished. When a man leaves, even just emotionally if not physically, she is left completely un-cherished. Aggression is simply the extreme expression of a man not cherishing a woman. I checked out for years when my women got too emotional for me, especially when they were angry. I thought if they just saw things differently—if they saw things like I see them—everything would be fine. So I tried like mad to convince their minds to shift.

Which rarely worked. They weren’t waiting to have their intellects adjusted. So I would constantly give up and run, even when I stayed in the room.

If she fought me long enough, eventually I fought back. I thought that a feminine woman can’t out-masculine me. I would win that battle. And I did. Every time.

But I really only ever lost. So did she. Heartbreaking how blind I was to what was actually going on.

I realize now she was simply screaming out her fear, desperate for me to step up strong and claim her heart, to let her know without a doubt that I’m here, not going anywhere, that she’s safe in my love, to simply reassure her deeply that I got her and won’t let anything bad happen to her… like only a healthy masculine man could reassure her.

Women weren’t just afraid of my aggression. They were afraid of my leaving, which ironically I was doing in countless ways often to avoid my own innate aggression which scared me, too.

Had I known this deeper truth, I likely would have married my last girlfriend. Instead, I labeled her immature and mean, and I ran in every direction. I couldn’t stand in the illusory fire of her pain—a pain largely caused by masculine abandonment in her past. I was so triggered by her pain, so caught up in my own, that I couldn’t reassure her that I loved her and would hold her safe as she learned to trust again. I lost the woman I loved most in my life because I couldn’t see what was really happening; what she was really asking of me.

She was asking me to step up and fight for her heart.

Fight what? Fight myself. Fight my desire to run. To check out. To disappear.

She was begging me to be aggressive with my own inner demons, and perhaps hers, too, in the battle for her sacred feminine heart. I lost that battle. She’s married to another man now.

Oh what fine messes of hearts I helped create over the years. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I see now. I’m growing up. I’m a Man. Eager to share what I’ve learned through so much pain, with other men who don’t yet see, but who are ready to.

*** My thoughts: No. Yet again. No. No to bullshit and excuses from “whores” who see the light “too late”. The economy waits for no cheap fool and neither do terrorists – domestic or foreign. This author is a idiot who wanted a wet place to stick his dick. Obviously, he was content to call the woman “collateral damage” when he left his ex; or failing that, perhaps he was an accountant tasked with assigning value and decided she was an acceptable loss. Who cares if you’re sorry buddy? Find another cheap whore. Apparently, at one point in your life, you assigned all women to this category. If life is gray now, it’s your own art your looking at.

More kindly said, here’s an article from a differnt perspective, since I am such a hateful “bitter whore.”

By Diane Priestly

Back in the Have It All 80’s, when we eagerly attended self improvement weekend seminars in plush hotels, the hackneyed cliché ‘You’ve got to love yourself before you can love others’ was thrown around liberally by the pseudo experts on the stage and the naïve followers in the audience.

This trite statement begs to be dissected and explored in more depth. What exactly does the word ‘love’ mean in this context? Romantic love? Hardly. Or spiritual love? What’s spiritual love anyway? And what aspect of the Self are we meant to love? The fake image we manufacture or the real self that lurks within, with all its flaws? How do you love yourself if you don’t even know yourself properly? It’s like falling in love with a complete stranger, as if mindless infatuation was a good thing!

Back then I worked out that if the opposite of love is hatred (some say the opposite of love is indifference) then such an aversion is usually based on projections. We project feelings of dislike onto someone else who has the traits we don’t like in our self. So, the logic goes, if I learn to accept these aspects of myself, I will accept them in others. This line of thought was getting warm but not hot.

Instant negative feelings about others can also be based on transferences (aspects of other key people such as parents and siblings that hurt us growing up). Hating someone can also simply be that they rub us the wrong way by being offensive or we just don’t click with someone’s personality. Surely having negative feelings about some people, (while loving trusted others) is a normal inbuilt protective device so we avoid those who cause us distress. Perhaps the concept of universe love is not necessarily desirable.

Back in the 80’s when I was trying to work it all out, I reasoned that negative emotions were NOT love, and realised that when I felt emotions such as variations of anxiety, grief, neediness, shame and anger I was not feeling generous, warm, gooey love. So I decided my goal should be to remain in a constant state of blissful ‘love’ in order to express love to others. I was trying hard to crack this nut, but not quite getting it!

In my marriage, I certainly knew that my gnawing neediness was selfish; all about my craving to get my insatiable emotional needs met, rather than unselfishly, unconditionally giving love to my husband.

I was once told by a devotee of the popular Indian guru Rajneesh that the goal was to exist in a state of love, starting with loving yourself, so that you had so much love, there was an excess and it just spilt out! So I spent lots of time trying to fill my inner cup so that it would run over! But to be honest, it didn’t work, because truth is, like everyone, I am a complex mixture of emotions throughout any one day, which changes from minute to minute, in fact. Running the gauntlet of a parade of changing emotions is just being human.

Now three decades later, in my 50s, with piles life experience and study of psychology under my belt, I can confidently claim I know in my heart what the concept of loving yourself is all about.

One thing I know for sure (to borrow Oprah’s assertive phrase) is the real meaning of “loving yourself” is NOT narcissism, which is to love your own false image. The word narcissism comes from Greek mythology about the youth, Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a stream. He was so transfixed by his own beauty he couldn’t move away and ended up dying there, staring at his reflection.

Our western culture promotes narcissism. We are encouraged to worship the fake facades of celebrities manufactured by the media and to become obsessed with our physical appearance and carefully cultivated self-image (which sells fashion, beauty products, cosmetic surgery, gym memberships etc). The commercial focus on image exploits our human need to be admired but sadly the more effort we put into created a false image, the more we become estranged from our Real Self.

The ‘self’ we are meant to love to find healing, growth and transformation is not the superficial False Self. To fall in love with our own image is vanity and delusion and ultimately leads to a tragic end. Healing and growth comes through loving the real inner self; the self that is flawed and vulnerable; the self we mostly keep hidden from others. In theology, this is the sinful self that has done wrong, made mistakes and fallen short. In therapy, it is the wounded Inner Child who carried all the hurts of a lifetime.

We must target this ‘True Self’ in order to heal and grow. Good therapy should guide the client below the surface to deep inside the psyche to contact memories of childhood. Here we discover that all emotions and beliefs about other people and life in general, are reduced to core beliefs and core hurts that revolve about the Self.

If the adult is angry and hates their partner, in therapy, we contact the inner child who was angry and hated mum or dad (or another caregiver or sibling). But going deeper, we always discover the faulty beliefs link to the self (children are egocentric in their undeveloped thinking). If the child felt unloved, neglected or abused by a parent, they blamed them self and conclude “There’s something wrong with me”;I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve love” etc.

So, yes, the wounded inner self, with all its distorted negative opinions, requires love in order to heal and unleash the ability to love others. In therapy, the unconscious distorted beliefs about the Self are lovingly corrected. The wounded Inner Child is gently nurtured and protected.

But what is meant by ‘love’? There are different kinds of love such as romantic love (eros); family love (phileo) and spiritual love (agape).

Firstly let’s explore emotions that are NOT love. There are four core ‘negative’ (painful or unpleasant) emotions, which have various degrees of intensity.

FEAR runs the spectrum from mild apprehension, worry, nervousness and anxiety to panic and full-blow terror. Fear tends to be about the ‘future’, is concerned with safety and survival and is mostly triggered by mental activity about perceived threats. Fear starts in the head, with a thinking process.

When someone experiences chronic anxiety, especially if they perceive their partner as a threat, it is difficult to feel love. They are on edge, defensive and reactive all the time.

GRIEF, the emotion of sadness and sorrow, experienced in the heart region, is a response to loss or unmet emotional needs. Grief, like the other emotions varies in intensity from mild disappointment to a devastating experience of being heartbroken and in the deepest despair (lacking all hope and motivation to live). Grief actually feels physically painful in the heart because of the nerves and hormones activated in this region. Grief is about the PAST; yearning for what you once had or wanted but is now lost or gone.

When someone experiences the loss of a loved one or some kind of trauma, it is healthy to express the grief through crying. When grief is not openly expressed, but repressed and buried, it is not integrated and a person becomes disconnected from their Inner Pain.

Clearly it is difficult to feel love for yourself and others while stuck in chronic, repressed grief, which sometimes takes the form of depression. However the person in mourning who expresses grief through crying will emerge from the process renewed and capable of loving again. In fact, feeling one’s Inner Pain is the path to genuine love…that’s where we are going with this but first let’s consider two other emotions.

SHAME is a core emotion that sits just under the heart, in the stomach. It comes from an inbuilt survival mechanism to distinguish good and bad and what is healthy or harmful, both in the moral sense and the physical sense.

If we eat food that has gone off and could make us sick, we will feel disgust and spit it out. If we do something wrong, against our own values, we will feel guilty, a feeling of being “bad”. If we correct the behaviour the feeling should go away however some children are made to feel guilty, bad about themselves, all the time and temporary guilt morphs into an overall sense of permanent, chronic shame where the child grow up and continues to feel like a ‘bad person’. Chronic shame can lead to all kinds of shameful or harmful behaviour as a means of self-punishment for being bad and unworthy.

ANGER is another core emotion that is felt in the lower gut. It has a purpose in the human psyche to motivate action, to fight, if your survival is threatened. Anger is activated to defend against an attack or offence. It can be turned into the impulse for retaliation or revenge if the offence is in the past (and you nurse a grudge).

Anger has range of intensities too, from frustration to annoyance through degrees of disrespect and disdain and contempt (when coloured by judgements) to blind hatred and furious rage. Repressed anger is experienced as hostility and resentment. In a relationship, if one or both partners are carrying unexpressed resentment, it seeps out in all kinds of ways such as non-co-operation, covert hostility and passive aggression.

If someone lives in a state of chronic anger, it is difficult for them to feel love and softness while feeling hyped up on aggressive hormones.

All these emotions are natural to the human condition and serve a purpose. However to become a Loving Person, we have to gain mastery over these emotions and allow them to transmute into a positive, spiritual form.

Fear can bring us to Faith. Grief leads us to the highest form of Love, which is compassion. Shame is overcome through finding a sense of goodness and the energy of anger can become a motivator, the essence of Hope, beautifully expressed in the scripture, 1 Corinthians 13: Faith, Hope and Love.

Let’s revisit the Heart and explore the nature of love more fully. It is necessary to feel your own Inner Pain; all that buried grief over not being loved enough or even abused as a child plus a lifetime of accumulated hurts. The experience of grief leads to the gift of EMPATHY; the ability to feel another person’s pain. Empathy leads to REMORSE (sorrow) for how we have hurt others and a desire not to hurt others again.

Empathy brings a feeling of COMPASSION for other people’s suffering. Compassion is a feeling of deep concern, kindness, sympathy and understanding. Compassion is spiritual, agape love. This kind of love is unconditional and generous, not needy, requires no reciprocation and has no strings attached. It is God’s kind of love expressed through humans.

And compassion is the kind of healing love that is needed by the Inner Self.

When we feel ashamed of our self for our past sins and mistakes, we tend to fear three reactions from others if they ever found out our secrets: judgement and condemnation, which creates more shame; rejection and ending the relationship and anger and hatred.

The opposite of these reactions is non-judgement; to see the goodness in the person; forgiveness (to pardon without punishment); acceptance instead of rejection and compassion (kindness and gentleness) instead of anger and hatred. The child or adult consumed by shame can be healed by this loving combination.

The Inner Self needs a sense of goodness, acceptance and compassion. How can we give this gift of ultimate love to our self? Now here is the paradoxical twist in the 80s You’ve Got To Love Yourself mantra; the ability to love yourself only comes from receiving this kind of unconditional healing love for others.

Humans are social creatures and we first learnt what to feel about our self from how others treated us; our parents and other caregivers growing up. As adults in search of healing we need to experience love from others again; to have acceptance, our true worth and value and heartfelt compassion reflected in the eyes of others in order to experience ‘love’; acceptance, forgiveness, goodness, respect, compassion, kindness and understanding towards our true self.

Other People who are compassionate are the necessary step to Self Love.

Who are these loving people? It is your job to find them. And it is your job to be that loving person in the healing of others.

Why we Cheat: From Elephant Journal

Let’s get into a place where we can talk about cheating in relationships.

Let’s not talk about all the cheating that other people are doing, or all the times that we’ve been cheated on.

Let’s talk about something we are less alright with: talking about our own cheating.

Because if we really sit down and are honest with ourselves, we know thateveryone cheats.

We are cheaters.

We can lie to ourselves and say, no that wasn’t really cheating because of this reason over here…

(Cue sarcastic brain-voice) Yeah, okay, us—before we start squaring our thoughts and behavior away into labels that aren’t as scary,let’s be honest with ourselves about what cheating is. 

Cheating is anytime we would not want our partner seeing what we’re doing.

If we would change our behavior when they enter the room, then we’re managing the image they have of us, and we are managing it to keep them from knowing things.

This means that the cheating line is not drawn with sex, because we can cheat without having sex, and we can have sex without cheating. The line is not indicated by any external marker–not with blow jobs or drunk-make outs or outright flirtations. The cheating line is drawn at intention.

The cheating line is drawn when we’re hiding, and it’s not that we are hiding from our partners, it’s that we are hiding from ourselves. When cheating is manifest into a lie, that lie is not to the person we are ‘cheating on,’ that lie is the lie that tells us that it’s okay to be in a relationship where we are cheating.

We don’t need to beat ourselves up about this. There’s nothing wrong with us.

We cheat on our partners for all kinds of reasons—it has nothing to do with them. We cheat because we’re pissed off, we cheat because we’re insecure, we cheat because we’re lonely. This is driven by the subconscious part of ourselves that is trying to figure out how to have good relationships.

We have probably cheated on every single partner that we have been with. Maybe we haven’t had sex with people outside our relationships (or maybe we have), but we’ve had those gut-clenchy moments of, I can’t tell my partner about this.

Those are the moments we need to pay attention to. If we’re already having sex with other people and not talking about it, there are mountains of other things we have not been talking about with our partners. For months. Or years. Or millennia.

We need to pay attention to the moments where we have this thought: I can’t be myself around the person I’m in a relationship with. 

Here is the logic of that: we are born as ourselves, we aren’t anybody else (we know this because we have skin that keeps us separate from others). This is the only constant–that from birth until death, we will always be ourselves, living inside of ourselves. Therefore, whether we realize it or not, we want our lives to feel easy for us to be ourselves.

We aren’t cheating because this is our idea of a good time. We are cheating because we are experiencing disconnection with ourselves and we don’t know a different way to feel good, so we only allow ourselves to feel good in short bursts.

We don’t like cheating.

We want to find the path of lowest resistance so that as we go through life, it feels effortless to be ourselves.

If our relationships are making it difficult for us to be ourselves, then what the fuck are we doing there? 

Why are we in a relationship where we have to stay bottled in?

And here’s how cheating reinforces itself: we know when we feel bottled in (even if we aren’t saying anything about it), and all we want is to let ourselves out. Cheating is a way of letting ourselves out.

(So once we start cheating with a partner,do we ever really stop?  I think the answer to this could be yes or no, but we should really sit down and have an honest conversation with ourselves about the matter.)

It’s easy to look at cheating as a big bird-flip to whomever we are cheating on.

But—if we’re cheating, then we’re in a relationship where we’re fucking cheating, and cheating feels like shit.

Cheating feels like shit even if we come home from banging our mistress (or mister) to crawl into bed with our wife (or hubby), and high-five ourselves in the mirror during clean-up. The high-five is just a cover-up, a justification to go to sleep tonight like this and wake up tomorrow and let this be reality for one more day.

So we know that this is a no-win situation for anyone. We don’t want to be cheating. We really don’t.

Because we know–somewhere inside of us—that when we start even just thinking about cheating, that’s when the cheating starts, and we haven’t quite mastered the ability to control our thoughts yet, so it’s not as if we are asking for this.

We would definitely rather have a relationship with someone where those thoughts never pop up. That would be splendid.

But sometimes the thoughts do pop up and we don’t know how to control that–because we’re not enlightened all the time—because we don’t know the secrets of the universe—because we aren’t perfect–because, because.

We’re just becoming ourselves. That’s all we’re doing.

We want to figure out how to make our lives feel good when we’re not cheating.

Even when we’re cheating, our whole goal of everything is to figure out how to not cheat and still feel good.

Because we know that cheating has to end. It’s highly unsustainable, and there’s only a short period of time that the cheating can take place before rapid shifts happen (either we talk about it and it becomes dramatic, or we cut someone out of our lives, but something dramatic happens—it’s too much pressure in such a small space). So even if cheating feels good, we know that it won’t feel good, soon. Very soon the shift is coming.

It’s like remembering we saw a slippery when wet sign a few seconds ago and then seeing someone in high heels running through the hallway trying to answer the phone—we know the jaw-to-floor collision is going to happen, and we feel powerless to make it stop.

There’s nothing wrong with it. Any of it. It’s just that when we’re cheating, it doesn’t feel good.

There is one agreement we must make with ourselves to cut the internal tie between us and cheating. We must agree with ourselves when we say: cheating doesn’t feel good, I no longer want to be cheating.

That is the agreement. We must make that agreement with ourselves, otherwise the cheating continues to happen.

That is the only resolution. It’s not changing our partner (although we may find that we want to cheat on some partners more than others. That’s okay.), or changing our friends, or not going to bars.

It’s that one simple internal agreement.

When we make that agreement, cheating begins to stop in our relationships. It stops making sense. Maybe we cycle through a few weird relationships while we’re going through this conversation with ourselves, but eventually, the cheating stops.

The cheating stops because we start talking to our partners about what we’re feeling and what we’re going through.

We start paying more attention to how our relationship feels to us so that if we are going to cheat on someone, we catch a thought of cheating early, before chaos ensues to several lives, and we bring this to conversation with our partner, which maybe brings us closer.

We start creating bonds that are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually engaging, so that our relationships feel full and stable.

We love cheating because it helps us grow.

And what a beautiful thing: that we are given things to outgrow; obstacles to overcome. And we get to be ourselves the whole way through.

Man, life is good.


Poetry for the moment

Is that the same moon?
Is this the same old springtime,
The same ancient spring?
And is this not my body,
The same body you once knew?

– Ariwara no Narihira

So many reasons
Why I must question your love,
Your sincerity:
Now my sorrows fall like rain,
Fall harder, gaining fury.

Where shall I turn now
When I am in need of a friend?
At Takasago,
Even aging stately pines
Cannot replace lost friends.

– Fujiwara Okikaze

Did I once believe
I could come to this?- reeling
In a fishing line
In exile, in a province,
And not one friend to be seen.

– Takamura no Ason

As night follows night,
I shift and turn my pillow,
My eyes open wide.
Long ago I dreamed of you.
How was I sleeping that night?

– Anonymous

She let go: poetry from Safire Rose

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Letter to Recovering Addicts and those who love or loved one: Notes on “Atonement” – “Process” – “Closure” and why they may seem elusive


Atonementsatisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.

Atonement AA (Step 8): Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Atonement in a Religious context: The reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.

Closure is the end of something. After being caught sending naked pictures to minors or someone other than your spouse (for those of you who are married or cheating), expect the closure of your political career and a boycott of your business for example. The cookie cutter definition of psychological closure (which is the topic of this post) is “… an individual’s desire for a firm solution as opposed to enduring ambiguity.”

Closure comes from the Latin claus (“shut”), and has numerous synonyms and linguistic or contextual applications. A road closure blocks that road from traffic. If you find closure after an emotional hardship, you’re ready to move on. An obstruction in a small passage, like a pipe, is also a closure, as is the button on your sweater. In debate, closure (usually cloture), stops debate and starts the vote.

Closure is a principle from Gestalt psychology and Grief counseling as well.

  • I did not lose a battle with addiction and did not struggle with chemical dependency.
  • I did not get lost in pop science trying to stabilize my perception of why I could not stop using drugs of any kind.
  • Make a note, that I have just listed TWO reasons why I am blessed and I will return to this at the end of this post.

Process Philosophy:

My first exposure to the drug scene was straight out of a movie and far less glamorous. I was six years old and my father was arrested in the early 1980’s for what the DEA and RCMP said was his role in a 12 million dollar drug sting. He was arrested in Buffalo New York and his face was plastered all over the evening news on all three major news networks. My mother had just graduated from college with two degrees and was denied any opportunity to use her education degree in our community. She was presumed to be too emotionally unstable due to the public nature of my father’s arrest and of course, she was guilty before she was innocent in the eyes of many. Privately, neither of my parents used any kind of drug other than alcohol though they were both children of alcoholics. Of my grandparents, my father’s mother was the only one who did not drink at all.  I saw addiction and abuse from other angles than one would expect.

What do I know about drugs and addiction personally?

  • I am a sexual abuse survivor: I was a drug for a sick grandfather and neighbor who could not control himself and who would not and presumably ‘could not’ stop. His excuse I presume would have been PTSD had he been confronted.
  • My mother was anorexic and bulimic until my sister was born when I was 7 years old and used food as a drug. My parents raised me as a vegetarian which was promoted by their religious views at the time and abandoned the practice when she became pregnant with my sister.
  • I have a step sibling who thru a variety of personal challenges of her own, was placed into rehab with Bradford at the age of 13. She relapsed 20 years later and has now recovered but at a price. I have also dated a recovering addict in my youth and as recently as three years ago for a brief time.
  • Due to the fact that I live and breathe and survived childhood (Freud and Jung critics beware) I have had and still have ‘friends’ who used to various degrees. I also have done various drugs both legal and illegal.

What do I know about atonement and closure professionally?

  • I have a degree in Health and Wellness and have practiced Professional Massage Therapy since 1998.

Why am I writing this post?

I am writing this post for personal therapeutic reasons on several levels. When I began this post, I was thinking about the animosity I hold toward members of my family and how various facts of their lives and my own have been butchered in order to feed conspiracy thinking privately and publicly and how this fostered a burden of liability that cannot and has not been rectified or atoned for privately or publicly. This morning as I continue to draft this post, the topic of criticism of the AA model and religion has reminded me again of yet another angle on my need to compose this post.

When I hear addicts talk about their experiences I am reminded of why group therapy has value and why addiction is a prerequisite to participate. In no other setting are the actions of others and their value systems so exposed. My ex who twice went thru rehab was a white collar professional who used mathematical skills to assign value. Need it be said that group therapy is closed for a reason just as many circles and distribution channels are closed to outsiders, regardless of legality and industry? Secrets matter. And often we are as sick as the secrets we keep.

When friendships and family ties suffer for the sake of an addiction addicts often go thru various stages of grief and denial. In group settings, when they are informed of just how heinous the behaviour and actions of former associates turned out to be they are often humiliated to discover that their private choices and actions had results beyond their control. My step sister talked about a theft ring that that bartered for drugs and I know I have heard similar tales as most casual drug users have.

What addicts close the door on by speaking only in peer groups are the stories of bodily horror. They leave economic scandals about drug rings and cartels to political media commentators so they can justify their own narcissism while still using and waving the flag of their choice. Its the stories of rape, child molestation, aggravated assault, cannibalism, forced or cohersed prostitution that trips their PTSD triggers, driving them into treatment out of horror and shame. Even then, for some, the horror only becomes real when they lose their teeth thru addiction.

I do not forgive my step sister or her enabling family. All of them, including my father’s wife. As my ex reminded me thru accusation rather than reason, is that addiction paradigms are not without flaws. One of the excuses my step sister and her family used to justify a number of significant transgressions and abuses was a mind body paradigm which presupposed a biological basis for emotional processes which veered into hard core scientific reductionism and determinism. In the process of excusing various issues they abused far more and I fear that in their stupidity they allowed and facilitated the projection of larger societal issues into inappropriate contexts.

As an individual, I may one day accept my step mother again. I will always accept my step sisters children. For the time being, I despise her 13 years later. Infinity. Along with her brother and ALL the former friends and associates from two counties and MOST of my own home county in our State.

Biological paradigms that mimic horror stories of “the gulag” coming prior to and on the heels of 911 could not be trusted – then or now. That was the genius of Osama Bin Laden and the germ of conspiracy post 911. They lend themselves to the ideas of eugenics and yet more conspiracy. When you know what I do and whom I know and you sit and watch what falls away after the fact you realize how little we know and just how much.

But back to closure and why it is often elusive. Closure is not about acceptance of bullshit decisions, choices or actions. Closure is about reaching a point where free will returns to us.

For those dealing with these issues, remember that free will is not a logical fallacy. Information and paradigms may contain them. Finding peace requires a clear mind. Peace is not a endless journey. It is available. It does exist.

And actions have consequences.

Top five reasons to stay single

1.) Race Baiting

Of course the obvious fact can be an issue for different reasons but its not always about ethnicity and race. The prospect of dating involves being open to relationship and commitment in theory. Is the person chewing their food with their mouth open on your first date too foreign to bring home to your family? Are you vegan and is your prospective muse a meat eater that would indoctrinate any accidental children? What’s the fine line between being choosy and stereotyping?

2.) Mental Health questionnaires

This goes back to number one. If the first question that comes to mind when on your way to a first or third date raises your anxiety: “is (blank) a psycho?” it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself!

3.) Sexual Health and Russian Roulette

The two are not synonymous but are often taken to be, which ratchets up pressure on the perennially horny and those who lack the same enthusiasm. You may be subjected to an insensitive pop quiz about questions best reserved for medical professionals and a spiritual advisor by a total stranger who is obviously more interested in their own instant gratification than in getting to truly know you.

4.) Baggage

Divorced? Check.
Children? Check.
Over 30? Check.

Ready to move in with you? Check please.

5.) Big Ben or Biological Clocks

This also refers to numbers 1 thru 4 above. By all means, let no one interfere with any scheduled or spontaneous “spiritual practice” aimed at preparing for the day the “money shot” finally bears fruit.

Announcing Fruits, Nuts and Flakes: Massage and Bodywork Edition


Announcing Fruits, Nuts and Flakes: Massage and Bodywork Edition

I have launched a kickstarter project to promote what I hope will be a welcome edition to massage publishing and education. I plan on it appealing to friends and foes of complimentary and alternative medicine and education, science and modernism.

Please share your thoughts! I hope to be able to print at least 2,000 decks or more. At that point, what is not reserved in the offering, can donated to various massage schools.

Please comment, share and discuss!

Thought for the Day


Eric Schlehlein, Author/Freelance writer

(re)Living History, with occasional attempts at humor and the rare pot-luck subject. Sorry, it's BYOB. All I have is Hamm's.


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