Facing Reality for the First Time

A struggle all of us faced at one time or another

For years, I stagnated, slipping into basic survival mode and leaving everything unessential behind. That happened to me between 13 and 23.

It was a really difficult time in the progression of my Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative disease of muscles rendering them weak or altogether ineffective. Breathing issues start around the time people like me spend most of their days in a chair, which happened at 12 for me.

After 15, I ran into the trouble of slowly losing weight by eating insufficient calories for my activity level. Then I began my years long struggle with breathing enough air. I could’ve have gotten help if I had more foresight and perspective than I did.

I withdrew from the outside world and imagined up a richer inner one. There were times I felt alone, times I didn’t know the use of anything beyond learning, and times I just went through the motions. That sounds a lot like depression from the sounds of that, but that wasn’t something I was willing to admit for years after.

Then I had mediation. It was something I’d been kicking around in my head, a leftover from the country of my birth and a melting pot for religious/spiritual development, by which I mean India in way too many words.

Then when I got out of school it was nothing more than watching TV and living in my parents house (where I still live btw), mediation became my refuge and escape. My life wasn’t great and depression still ruled over me.

My life turned around with a tube in my throat and a machine to breath for me. Those first two years were harrowing to say the least. Every other month, I was in the hospital with scary complications.

I faced the image of my own mortality a few times and got sick of simply surviving from one day to the next, marking time. I picked up writing and escaped my doldrums for purpose and meaning at 23.

At a certain point in my mediation journey, I hit a roadblock. It’d been ten years of mediation at that point. There wasn’t enough head space to throw into mediation to get me further than I’d already gone. It was time to clear some room. I turned my focus inward to what I could do without.

Fear of failure turned out to be the one thing motivating me for the majority of my life. I was running from failure any way I could.

  1. Doing well in school and trying to purify the tainted soul I believed myself to have (the reason I’d picked up mediation).
  2. The reason I never let anybody in to see the real me behind my defenses. I was always hiding.
  3. The reason I hated writing, which I now love. There was no correct answer, so I could stuck deciding what I should do.
  4. The reason I was usually the adult even in the first grade. A kid so well behaved that you wondered how their parents did it. That was me.
  5. The reason I couldn’t possibly be depressed. That would mean I’d failed psychologically.
  6. And the thing that gave my life meaning. Not failing was the only thing that mattered, the reason I did basically everything.

Clearing that away left a massive hole in my psyche that was scary for months after until it was filed back in. Without mediation, I never would’ve gotten into that mess or passed through without a major calamity. Wouldn’t recommend this to even my worst enemy. But in that brief emptiness, I wrote something beyond my current ability as a writer.

Then there was codependence. I had this belief that I’d be abandoned if I didn’t prove my worth on a constant basis by remembering more, being clever, or proving my intelligence. Figuring that out nearly broke me. I fought back my rejection averse thought process in a kind, watchful way that mediation allowed me.

Codependence is a messy, confusing topic, but I realized something that makes it a whole lot easier. Codependence is an attempt to control the world around us out of fear — fear of rejection, fear of inadequate self-worth, and fear of being unlovable.

  1. Blaming exigent circumstances without considering your contribution when something goes awry.
  2. Being laid back and counting that as points to be paid back down the line. Keeping score.
  3. Taking responsibility where someone else is already responsible, like apologizing on someone’s behalf.
  4. Demand love or get jealous of the affection other people get, especially when I’m feeling low.
  5. Show hollow displays of affection for an audience, and showing my true colors in private.

Letting go of codependence put me on the course for a clash with reality.

Cdependence is really a fear driven need to control the world around us, especially the people in it. Letting go of control requires accepting the world as it is.

The clash between how we believe the world to be and reality is where I’m at.

Reconciling those two requires constantly updating the model in my head with evidence from the outside world.

Sometimes people will let me down and dealing with that anger or sadness is on me.

That’s a quintessential stage of growing up that I’ve never let go enough to experience.

Knowing that everybody isn’t always truthful doesn’t make it any easier when it happiness to you. That feeling would make a great YA novel right?



Seeing Eight Grade helped me realize what I’m going through now, finding the person I have always been and being that person. It’s about an eight grade girl facing the reality that she isn’t fixed as she is now. Things change for the better and sometimes worse. Change is what life is.

GK

Defeating Codependence and Finding Lost Truth in the Process

Strategies for success.

A couple of months ago now, I published a post about realizing I’m codependent and starting to turn that thought process around. For those intervening months, I’ve analyzed the way I think, feel, and act through the lens of codependence. And identified those parts associated with codependency. Then turned my mind to change.

This ought to take years of therapy, but meditation ought to do the same job¹.

Meditation is the development of concentration and un-attatchment. I’m a novice having mediated with systems I’ve developed taking into account the information I had at the time. Keeping that up for years helped me.

Un-attatchment is based on the philosophy that attachment to an idea of self is the cause of all suffering².

Concentration allows the ability to cut deep into the mind³ to identify the causes behind cruelty and in a deeper sense why we think, act, and feel the way we do. Making sense of it all requires an understanding of how people operate, or how you personally operate. Medium is a great resource for that.

That was a long tangent. These are my lessons learned in fighting codependence.

Manipulation is bad.

I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. Manipulation isn’t easy to see. What constitutes manipulation? I have a video for you I watched on Youtube.


Manipulation is acting in such a way to get a particular response. The goal must always be control over other people.

Some examples would be nice⁴.

Being friendly in order to make friends. Being friendly should just feel nice.

Offering to do something like paying for dinner and keeping score if the gesture is ever returned. You shouldn’t pay in hopes they’ll do in kind. Paying should just feel nice.

Some of you are reading that wondering why people do things expecting something in return.

Don’t please anybody unless you’re happy doing so.

Most people with codependency were denied the things they needed as children⁵, including my need for validation. I wrongly believe how people responded to me was my responsibility.

That person was nice, because I gave them something expensive.

He was horrible, because I didn’t share my food with him.

The possibility that how someone acts is beyond my control was terrifying. It brought back my fears of abandonment and rejection.

Remember that I’m not responsible for how other people think, act, or feel. How I act shouldn’t harm anyone else or make me feel like I’m owed something. Otherwise, it’s not my mistake.

When you feel bad, check your boundaries.

People feel bad when their needs aren’t met⁶. People are wired for fairness⁷.

If I’m not assertive of my own needs to get someone to like me, I get mad when it feels like they don’t treat me with the same deference. Don’t get into situations like that.

What are acceptable boundaries⁸?

Setting boundaries has always been difficult for me. It’s terrifying. That’s all.

What if is set unrealistic boundaries and nobody can met them? That’s a lie I’ve told myself for years.

I was afraid of rejection.

No one has agency over how you handle your stuff. They can make suggestions, and you should consider them. If a decision means they reject you, you don’t need someone like that in your life.

No one can tell you how to be. That’s your responsibility. If that causes someone to reject you, so be it. Any time you put on a mask, it’s a struggle to keep it intact. Sooner or later, the mask will slip, showing your true colors.

Get your needs met.

Boundaries are different for different people, but there are some universal things.

Don’t do something that makes you uncomfortable.

Don’t do something that jeopardizes your well being — physical, mental, and otherwise.

Don’t take blame for how other people feel.

Set boundaries.

Make I statements⁹. Doing such and such makes me uncomfortable. I can’t be here. It’s triggering for me.

Exculpate other people. It’s nothing you’ve done. (This helps most at the beginning.)

Be honest.

Don’t coerce, trust⁷.

Be nice because it feels good. Expect others are nice for the same reason.

Resources:

  1. Britton, Willoughby.”Meditation and Depression.” Abstract. University Libraries, University of Arizona, hdl.handle.net/10150/195235. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018
  2. “Four Noble Truths.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 Aug 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths#Dukkha_and_its_ending. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018
  3. “What Does It Mean To Be Enlightened?” Bodhi Monastery. 2008, bodhimonastery.org/what-does-it-mean-to-be-enlightened.htm. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  4. Gage, Kris. “Dating a good guy after a toxic relationship.” Medium. Medium Corp,20 Jan 2017, medium.com/@krisgage/dating-a-good-guy-after-a-toxic-relationship-3ce67ac9b9de. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  5. Seltzer, Leon F., Ph.D. “From Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing (Part 1 of 3).” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 22 Jul 2008, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/200807/parent-pleasing-people-pleasing-part-1-3. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  6. Gage, Kris. “How To Know What You Want.” Medium. Medium Corp,13 Jul 2018, medium.com/@krisgage/how-to-know-what-you-want-656b3a660e04. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  7. Wright, Robert. “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? The Uncertain Biological Basis of Morality.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, Nov 2013 Issue, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/why-we-fightand-can-we-stop/309525. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018
  8. Gage, Kris. “How Much To Give And Take In Relationships.” Medium. Medium Corp,16 Jul 2018, medium.com/@krisgage/how-much-to-give-and-take-in-relationships-ccbdf31e2f4e. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  9. Wilding, Melody. “ Techniques to Disarm, Cope With and Become More Confident Confronting Passive Aggressive People.” Better Humans. Medium Corp,21 Feb 2018, betterhumans.coach.me/techniques-to-disarm-cope-with-and-become-more-confident-confronting-passive-aggressive-people-9f7bcd5ffcb6. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  10. h

GK

How to get Better as a Writer: The Truth

There are a few things that worked for every writer

There’s no easy way to become a great writer.

There are ways to get better that have worked for other people.

1. Read in your genre.

You discover what exactly you’re trying to write.

It gives you a rolodex of techniques writers use to accomplish things.

Options you have with plot.

You can start in the middle and tell us the rest.

Start at the end and tell us everything.

Duex Ex Machina

Introduce the character that saves everyone from the beginning.

Describe a characters face.

A.) Have another character describe the protagonist.¹

B.) Wipe the characters memory so they discover their own face alongside you.²

C.) Have the character in a disassociated state looking in the mirror.³

D.) Have them wonder how that face can stand for the complex person they are.⁴

E.) Have a beautiful person describe how sentiments of beauty feel.

they’d tell me how pretty I was — but that comment really said nothing about me — Emma Lindsay

Understand of the rules behind those methods.

Describing a persons face.

Looking in the mirror describes vanity.

Otherwise, set up a situation where it’s natural to think about how you look.

That is the benefit of a writer reading books.

2.) Writing is the purpose of a writer.

There is no better way to get good at something than doing it often and for many years.

Writing is the only thing that will make you a better writer.

3.) Get feedback: the input guiding you how to write.

Writing for yourself has it’s benefits.

Writing for others came be far more rewarding.

Writing in an easily digestible form is impossible without feedback.

You can’t read your own writing without letting bias in.

Getting an interested outside opinion is the easiest way to figure out what you are doing well, and what needs work.

With that information, you can direct your efforts to correct your mistakes and capitalize on your strengths.

Editing your own work is the deliberate practice of a writer.

When you hit 10,000 hours of rewriting, you’ll be a skilled writer — Venkatesh Rao

Editing gets you to see what you’ve written from a position of reflection and optimization.

You see mistakes made and errors missed.

Editing is when you improve and grow.

Editing makes a huge difference. If it doesn’t, you aren’t doing it right.

That’s the writing process.

It has to be repeated again and again throughout your writing journey.

That’s the work of the writer. Used over and over for years and months will make you a great writer.

That’s all there’s to it.

Writing, editing, getting feedback aren’t the hard things.

Doing battle by choosing to write day after day, going on despite the rejection a writer faces, choosing writing above more socially acceptable things, and finishing.

Then starting again.

As much as we want a secret that we are missing, a secret to success — it doesn’t exist without the work of writing.

There’s a caveat here.

Some strategies help make you a better writer.

1.) Write every day.

Writing at least 300 words a day.

Start small.

I will think what to write every single day.

I will write something every single day.

Meeting this goal should be doable, but not too easy as well.

Starting to meet these goals turns writing from something fun you do when you have time into something that’s a required part of your day to feel happy.

2.) Write things you aren’t ready to write.

Some ideas are scary to write out.

A skill, understanding of the world, or writing ability isn’t quite good enough.

That’s where the possibility of growth lies.

Doing something hard puts you in a situation were stagnation means failure.

The only way to succeed is to grow.

Choose something challenging that isn’t so hard it crushes your motivation.

Repeated failure is a motivation crusher.

Success and growth keep you coming back day after day.

It’s hijacking your reward system to work for you instead of being led around by it.

3.) Take breaks from writing.

Writing can’t be forced.

Sit at your desk writing until the ideas stop flowing.

Take a short break.

Check facebook or whatever then return to writing.

Those things make a great writer.

GK

Defeating Anxiety: How to Write Awesome Content without Fear

Getting past the anxiety of writing.

Writing awakens your insecurities.

It’s logical.

Writing is a solitary activity. Other people aren’t going to constantly validate or demean your writing. People need that to stay in the game.

Without feedback your insecurities have free rein.

It’s like how you imagine seeing shapes or colors with your eyes closed. There’s nothing there, but something appears. That apparition is from the lack of sensory perception. There’s nothing to see except interference.

Getting feedback from another person or even yourself helps.

Reading over what you’ve written opens your eyes to what’s really there.

In a vacuum of perception, your fears, anxieties and insecurities take over.

Battling Anxiety

1. Before sitting down to write.

Follow your routine.

2. In the process of writing.

Read something you’ve written before that you know is good. Truth scares away anxiety.

3. After you’re done writing.

Ask someone you trust to read it and give you feedback. Don’t be blind to your successes or your improvement.

Perfection doesn’t exist.

Striving for perfection leaves you stranded.

Too scared to try or too scared to move on to something else that could work better.

The goal here is improvement.

Improving is growth. That’s all you want.

Unattainable goals like perfection sap away your motivation.

No matter how hard I try, my goal doesn’t get closer, so why should I even try.

Something achievable keeps you coming back each day.

Coming back day after day and putting in the work separates a great writer from a writer lost in the crowd.

GK

Don’t be a Slave to the Writing Process

Figure out your writing process. Don’t follow one blindly.

There are methods or a “process” that a writer uses.

You’ll be questioned about process if you ever get anything published in any meaningful way. But process can’t be transplanted from writer to writer. It’s something you have to discover for yourself.

Ray Bradbury wrote about his process.¹

  1. Make lists of what he’s thinking, short one to two word phrases.
  2. Find something that has a story behind it and write a lyric poem.
  3. Keep going as lyric poem turns into prose.

Following that process doesn’t work for me.

  1. I can’t write poetry.
  2. I can’t keep lists, because I barely have enough time to write as is.

My method is wildly different.

  1. Meditate daily.
  2. Come up with ideas when inspiration strikes or meditation leads me there.
  3. Run through everything I plan to write again in a meditative state.
  4. Sit down and type very slowly. That’s as fast as I can type.

That process isn’t going to work if your lived experience is different than mine.

Writing is an individualized act.

The product is generally recognized, but there are umpteenth ways to arrive there.

You’ll have varying success with everything you try.

It speaks to how difficult writing is.

You need to discover the process that best suits you.

It’ll be a mixed bag of the processes out there that no other writer uses to the letter.

Things like this are best figured out when you try things, everything you can find within reason until something gets you writing to the best of your ability.

It’ll be something close to who you are deep inside your soul.

Maybe you’re from the meditation camp or the poetry camp.

Whatever works is your process.

Resources

  1. Bradbury, Ray. Zen in The Art of Writing (p. 11-12). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

GK

Don’t be the Odd Writer Out in the Cold

How to be different without being too different as a writer.

Write something that people expect.

Follow the rules of genre gleaned by reading extensively in your genre. Have characters, stories, or settings that are familiar to the reader.

People need to connect with your story from the first line.

Once you have the reader invested in your story, it can show us something different.

  1. Your answer to a common problem
  2. Your plot twist
  3. The thing that sets you apart — your take — the thing that makes this piece worthwhile to read.

Moving too soon into what makes you special as a writer raises the barrier to entry for your readers.

Writing’s true value comes from readers.

If you write from far left field, it alienates the reader.

They never connect with what you written. Engagement isn’t there or the reader for that matter.

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve written something without readers.

Getting your foot in the door is getting harder by the day.

Anyone that wants a website can get one. Anyone can publish a book. Anyone can post a video on Youtube. The vast amount of content out there drowns out good content.

There needs to be something better about your piece.

Something that is relevant to the reader. It could be a character that they see themselves in. A place they’ve been before. Something they’ve done before.

Once they are hooked you can go your own way.

Things can’t change so much that you lose the readers trust, but you have some room.

Connect with your readers lived experience.

GK

Vulnerability for a Genuine Connection with your Reader

The advantage of letting people in through writing.

Connection is a scarce resource.

New ways of connecting like social media, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world simulate connection without delivering.

It’s time to return to what worked in the past, writing.

The opportunity for deep connection is slipping away. Reading is the only way to get that back.

Connecting with your reader is the purpose of publishing writing.

Connection is the purpose of a human life.

It’s the innate spark that has driven everything good we’ve ever done. Writing, scientific discovery, and cooperation are manifestations of that desire.

Being alone is one of the most painful things we can experience.

As writers, we’re in a unique position to fill that need of connection.

Being vulnerable is how you make that happen.

Connection requires the strength to be vulnerable — letting people into your life with the possibility of getting hurt.

That’s one of the things a writer must overcome to connect with readers.

The process goes something like this.

The people reading your work feel close to you.

Readers open their heart and soul to you, because you have already done the same.

Then your message gets across to be interrogated and verified.

If the message pans out, the reader interrogates their life with it.

We’re wired to seek out connection.

Being vulnerable is how you get there.

GK