My Mazamet

Life at № 42

As I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadows of Hungry Ghosts

by Giuseppe Castiglione

Or is it goats? Worry not, this isn’t a depressing post! I’m actually feeling very well. But this is a haphazard post which basically goes nowhere, so be warned.

I’ve been reading. And reading and reading, and reading. Of the mind, of art, of the mind, of art. The story of the Jesuit artists who ended up painting in the Chinese court in the 18th century is amazing. The horse above is by one of them. I also have a sudden interest in early pewter-ware. Pewter was so important historically, part of so many apsects of daily life in the past – and is now barely part of our consciousness.

I’ve reached the middle of Dr. Gabor Maté’s Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I love it. I’ve been negotiating what he says with how society works, and how we’re taught to see the world. Juxtaposing what he says with Ruth Benedict’s interpretation of the Guilt, Shame, Fear spectrums that organise different cultures. The thing is, when we take one step back, the spinal cord of those systems is essentially blame. The assignation of responsibility. Blame is a great tool for simplification. It’s easy and accessible. Dr. Maté essentially proposes a completely different way of assigning responsibility. It makes you wonder how fair (or unfair) we are in judging people. Including, and perhaps most of all, how we judge ourselves (I’m speaking for me).

After Sarah Porter died last year, I decided I needed to get my head in order. To find some way of not being – well, my first therapist once asked me to describe what it felt like to be me. I told her to imagine a very big truck, like an 18 wheeler, going down a narrow winding mountain road – with no brakes. That’s what it feels like to be in my head. All the time. Ever since I can remember. It’s exhausting.

It’s mostly analysis. Information goes on to grids. Positive, negative, neutral – subsections for safe, danger –  repeat/avoid – review, improve. Huge focus on editing, as in how to improve. Correct all past behaviour. Again and again and again. Examine possible and plausible outcomes. Shampoo, massage, rinse, repeat.

I’m trying to make this stop – hence the reading. Going over old CBT notes, and some great texts by Richard Carlson (which seem incredibly simplistic but actually make a lot of sense). What he proposes is essentially CBT at home and by one’s self.

It’s been cold, but by the fire in the Zuber room it’s quite nice. We’ve watched all the Oscar movies, liked some, loved none.

In the realm of hungry hunger – I recently tried my hand at pumpkin kibbeh. Sublime!

And I leave you with Gabor Maté:

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44 comments on “As I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadows of Hungry Ghosts

  1. Arkenaten
    January 29, 2019

    I decided I needed to get my head in order. To find some way of not being –

    As Jack Nicholson said in one of his movies: ”Acceptance is the key.”
    Perhaps one should start with this?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Tish Farrell
    January 29, 2019

    Gabor Maté is truly something, isn’t he. To start with, there is story after story of his patients, a tsunami of addiction. And then the delving into his own addiction. Have just reached the chapter where he’s started going to AA, and learning about surrender. And I’m thinking that from the start, and for the reader, the book is a master class in learning to surrender – letting go the compulsion to judge (others, self). Phew! And after all that, I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling better. I think CBT (and also EFT) are v. useful tools. Power tools in fact.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      January 29, 2019

      Yes he is and thank you for giving me the push that made me buy the book.
      I’ve come to realise after reading and listening to him that I was raised in a world where trauma wasn’t really acknowledged. People just kept going, stiff upper lip, pretending everything was fine and then the post trauma symptoms just manifested themselves in other ways. Addiction, depression, even sarcasm.Hopefully this is a turning point!

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Perpetua
    January 29, 2019

    Fear is number one! Gosh or ghost, I can relate. Will check Dr. Mate’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. NeuroNotes
    January 29, 2019

    I look forward to watching the video. I have read and watched quite a bit from Maté. He’s leading edge to say the least.

    “You can’t punish the pain out of people.”

    🖤

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      January 29, 2019

      When I started reading him it was a bit like someone pulling a rug from under me. But it was without any doubt the first step needed to begin this process of clearing the landmines of my mind 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • NeuroNotes
        January 29, 2019

        “Landminds of my mind.”

        That’s a great analogy. I’m 2/3’s into the video. It’s excellent. What stood out the for me was Maté talking about ADHD, and his own diagnosis and it being connected his early childhood experience—sensitive to his mother’s stress/trauma due to being under Nazi control.

        My daughter was recently diagnosed with ADAD and an anxiety disorder. She experiences panic attacks and is currently in therapy. She was born 11 days after her father committed suicide. I was at home when he took his life (in our bedroom) and the trauma/stress I incurred from the experience, coupled with the previous stress when his behavior changed significantly after developing a neurological disorder due to a TBI.

        One of the changes was him becoming physically and emotionally abusive to me (especially while I was pregnant). Based on the years of research I’ve done, there’s no doubt about her being impacted. I inadvertently passed my trauma and stress onto her. It started in the womb.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        January 29, 2019

        If we stop to think about it, it would be sort of unbelievable if trauma wasn’t passed on, right?
        Trauma shapes us. All through my childhood I remember my grandmother having a cupboard full of provisions “in case of war”. It seemed absurd to me, but of course she lived through the Nazi occupation of Paris. Mike’s mother did something similar and hid cash all around her house. And me, well – I always have a whole lot of canned goods and some emergency money in two different currencies 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Steve Ruis
    January 29, 2019

    I am always interested in people who have such an inner focus. I did it for a period of a few years and indeed it is exhausting. I think I became a scientist because to be one you need an outer focus … on things and not on people. I noticed that the head of the horse in the painting is too small. Was that an affectation by the artists to try to primp up the horse (big heads are not considered attractive) or just a matter of incompetence? See, no introspection to worry about.

    You surround yourself with incredibly beautiful things (including Mazamet). Is that to distract you away from your inner focus? My guess is you can get lost in there. I do not think I lose anything by looking outward and … not taking myself too seriously. Most often when I laugh I am laughing at myself.

    I wish you less … careening in your future my friend. Also, I had an epiphany when I had a recurring nightmare from my childhood. I resolved to take control if the nightmare were to occur again … and it did. As I was sinking into the terror of the nightmare, I grabbed control and laughed. Haven’t had that nightmare ever again. maybe you out to take your 18-wheeler off an exit of the windy road and out onto the highway where you can barrel along at high speed, eventually to bring the gifts you share with us to market.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      January 29, 2019

      Careening is the perfect word!
      I think the obsessive analysis and cautiousness develops from childhood in people who feel they’re not safe, for one reason or another. And then it snowballs in thinking patterns that aren’t necessarily constructive (or even accurate or reasonable.)

      And yes, absolutely – the house is one of the few things in the world that settles my mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Perpetua
    January 29, 2019

    I searched for the book and just found out that it’s about Vancouver addiction. I happened to live in Vancouver and in a support group for people losing loved ones in opioid.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kris Jennings
    January 29, 2019

    It’s nice to hear your voice again 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      January 29, 2019

      Hi! Just saw on the news you’re about to get extreme cold!!!!!! Are you ready???

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kris Jennings
        January 30, 2019

        Just landed home from Nola, 100 degree difference! They canceled school there today because it was in the 40s. Wimps.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Dwight Doskey
    January 29, 2019

    Wow. One more book for the retirement reading list. Thank you for the post and the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. MELewis
    January 30, 2019

    Glad to hear that you are working through the mental maze! Thanks for sharing the video — I was not familiar with Gabor Maté and just watched it. Wow! Very insightful, not just on addiction but anxiety and so much more. One small line I loved: The best gift you can give to your children is your own happiness.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. MELewis
    January 30, 2019

    That ship has sailed, I fear. Always good to read advice though that suggests you may have done something ( mostly) right. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. foolsmusings
    January 30, 2019

    Realizing that the most important person in my life is me has lead me to be more empathetic. I do my best to help others to realize their own worth and not worry what others think. I owe that all CBT and myself for finally asking for help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      January 31, 2019

      How long has it been since you went through all that – and has it been easy to not fall back into old patterns?

      Like

  12. Pingback: As I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadows of Hungry Ghosts | Meeka's Mind

  13. acflory
    January 31, 2019

    Of all the things you’ve ever blogged about, Pinky, this one is perhaps the most important. I watched every single minute of the video, and it left me stunned. Thank you. -hugs-

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      February 1, 2019

      He’s amazing, isn’t he?
      I find it a bit shocking that despite how we’ve advanced as societies we still seem to, more often than not, assign guilt to a proximate action rather than a proximate cause.
      I think organised religion has played a major role in laying out that thinking model.

      Like

      • acflory
        February 1, 2019

        You mean because of the concept of sin? Yeah, you’re probably right. Guilt isn’t everything though. I think needing to please is just as debilitating. The whole talk was a massive eye opener for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        February 1, 2019

        Definitely. Needing to please goes incredibly deep. We do it even not knowing we’re doing it. And in an interesting way technology has made it all bubble to the surface and become incredibly obvious in the shape of the like button.

        Like

      • acflory
        February 2, 2019

        -wince- yes, we now have a metric by which to measure how ‘popular’ we are. I try not to look but of course I do. We’re all addicted to validation, at least to some extent. :/

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Anony Mole
    February 2, 2019

    I feel like that 18-wheeler going UP the hill, 6 cylinders of 8 hitting, petrol dwindling…
    A request, if you will: as you read more than most, I’d be interested in you discovering additional “coin flips” which indicate the uniqueness of humanity in the universe.
    For instance, stock animals. If it weren’t for the ox (or buffalo) and the horse humanity would have never risen to a technological levels we currently enjoy. We’d never have been able to plow and grow the excess food (wheat, barley, corn & rice) we take for granted today.
    What other unique aspects of humanity’s path to existence can we identify? (There are dozens, but I’ve only collected about 60).

    What room is next? What’s the next project? What about hosting a garden party this spring and taking pictures? Does France have Renaissance Fairs? Come dressed as a musketeer! Or a impressionist painter…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      February 2, 2019

      Next is a bathroom for one of the guest rooms. Complicated because it’s long and narrow with a door at one end and a window at the other.
      And yes, we do have those fairs. In fact there’s one nearby in a medieval village called Hautpoul which I can see from my bedroom window.

      Like

  15. theoccasionalman
    February 3, 2019

    You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I hope you’re experiencing the universe as kind.

    I’ve been reading to understand myself for years now, as you’re well aware. I appreciate recommendations, though it takes me a long time to get to them.

    One of the issues that I have with my sweet R is his abdication of responsibility — we’ll probably talk about that at greater length on my page, when I remind myself how important writing is to my self-care, and that self-care is important.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2019 by in thinking aloud, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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