Dishonourable discharge.

Yesterday (as I write this, not in real time) I triggered the shit outta myself writing a blog. If you’re offended at my language, sorry and all that. Alas, I’m being literal.

It all started when I got thinking about why I hardly ever train self-defence these days; i.e., about the state of my back. I really don’t want to get into the details of the giant, prolonged trainwreck that is my medical history, but the bottom line is that I’m a lot more broken than I’d like to be, and I’m not going to get better. It is what it is. Shrug.

I found myself writing the following sentence:

I would gladly re-live through every single violent act I’ve gone through in my entire life every day of my life forever in order to undo the moment when I felt my back go.

I surprised myself saying that. It felt true, though. It’s part of the assessment that informs my decision to not train self-defence anymore unless the circumstances make it really, really worth the risk (which is why I haul my carcass over to VioDy whenever I get the chance, and stalk Rory when he’s in the UK). I surprised myself even more realising that I really meant it. I’d sign that contract in a heartbeat.

I don’t allow myself to throw that kind of statement around, not even in my own head; it’s too important a topic to be treated lightly. So I decided that the statement needed looking at. I could be full of it. If I was, I needed taking to task. I thereby proceeded to go through the mental archives of all the various scrapes I’ve been through. That was not the most fun way to spend a morning, but it seemed necessary to the process. Having done that, I still stood by the statement.

I proceeded to consider the various scrapes my friends and associates have gone through. I compared their stories to mine. I’ve led a charmed life. I firmly believe that instead of getting “real” violence, I got the vaccine version; just enough of a dose to give my system the vaguest idea of what’s what, not enough to cause any real harm. Comparing my history to my friends’ reminded me of how lucky I’d been, and how much worse a whole bunch of situations could have gone. I reminded myself that going into all of those situations I had no idea how or if I’d be coming out; looking back, it’s easy to forget that. It didn’t make any difference. The statement still stood.

I considered the issue of damage. Scrapes tend to be somewhat hurty. However, as I said, I’m lucky; I got worse boo-boos from industrial accidents. Provided the damage wasn’t cumulative, it’d make for a less-than-perfect day, but nothing unmanageable. And anyway, I read enough fantasy to be willing to buy into some version of Khryl’s healing:takes every scrap of the discomfort of those months <of healing> and compresses it into five eternal minutes of agony.” That would be convenient, and fitting with the whole time-compression theme we’ve already got going on. I suppose if push came to shove we could schedule the whole thing for later on in the day, so I’d have the night to recover. I didn’t fancy that much, though. It seemed like the kind of undertaking you want to get over it as soon as possible, so you can get on with your day.

Doubts were cast, however, and further confirmation was required. I proceeded to revisit in detail the moment my back went. It’s etched rather vividly in my memory, so replaying that video isn’t difficult. Watching it, however, is. The event itself was disappointingly un-epic and random (straw, camel’s back, skkkkkrlonk). The sensation, though, was memorable. The two years that followed are pretty memorable, too; which is why I try to forget them.

At this point in my thinking, I was starting to feel a bit raw. I therefore proceeded to think through all the other non-violent major negative events of my life. If you’re kicking hornets’ nests, you might as well do a thorough job. I found a couple of events for which the same statement would apply. They were fun to remember, too.

I then realised that there was a major flaw in my thinking; it would be entirely pointless for me to offer to make the switch if the replay of my life’s mishaps was going to take all day. That would be a very poor deal indeed. How long was the daily dose of violence going to take, exactly?

I found that rather hard to work out with any degree of precision. I’m not entirely sure when you’d start the replay of each incident (do you include the build-up, or start the moment when the shit hit the fan?) or which incidents you’d include (all of the near-misses only became so because I’m so damn lucky; nobody plans a failed assault). Also, my time perception goes entirely out the window when I’m properly adrenalised. Everything slooooows dooooooown. I have no objective idea of how long some stuff took. And then there are some bits when my timer wasn’t working because I’d gotten knocked out. Between one thing and another, it was kinda hard to get an accurate figure, but I guesstimated that with careful editing, trimming everything down to the salient bits and replaying it all back-to-back, I could easily cram it all into 4-6 hours, max. [I said I’m lucky, didn’t I? I wasn’t kidding.] That’d leave me 18-20 hours of free time.

Free, uncrippled time.

Free uncrippled time that I shall never get because there’s no deity capable of actually allowing me to make that switch, however much I commit to it. No time machines. No respawn function. It is what it is. No more uncrippled time for me, ever. If I’m very, very lucky it’s going to take me long enough to fall apart completely that something else is going to get me first.

And that is when I got triggered.

[I only use the “C” word – no, not that one; “crippled” – talking to and about myself, because it fits where no other word does. Anyone who has a problem with that is very right to, but I’m not about to self-censor my feelings about myself. I’m not that good a liar. I have no interest in being that good a liar. When I start feeling differently, I’ll talk differently.]

Anyhoo, there I was, enjoying one of the best adrenaline spikes I’ve had in a while, urgently in need of a battle crap and resigned to the fact that I was going to spend two hours riding the sympathetic nervous system roller coaster. That’s how long it takes for me to cycle through the process. As there’s nothing I can do to speed it up or make it go away, I picked up a mental bag of popcorn and sat myself down to enjoy the shitshow.

Of course, if anyone I bother to talk to had just gotten themselves hugely triggered, in any way at all, about any event whatsoever, I’d do my level best to offer them whatever comfort suited them. But because it was me talking to myself, I passed the time visualising this meme:


Because, come on, I gave myself the shits just thinking about stuff. That’s genuinely ludicrous. And I know that’s how it works for human people; hell, I wrote a book about all that, and about how it’s critical to respect that process and work with and around it, unless you’re an asshole. The problem is that, when it comes to my own internal mechanisms, I am that asshole.

When I realised that I was being that asshole, I spent some time chiding myself about that, too.

…at which point I decided that even though my brain is definitely my circus, populated by my monkeys, it was going to be easier to just let them to sort themselves out whichever way and clean up afterwards.


That was yesterday. Today was more fun.

Adrenaline spikes give me muscle tension. Muscle tension plays merry hell with my injuries. So I woke up this morning and I’d lost the use of my hands, again. It honestly isn’t as scary as it sounds when it happens on a regular basis. There’s enough truth in that sentence for it not to be a complete lie, anyway. Sorting myself out took me somewhere between five minutes and an age; until I managed it, I didn’t know if I could. By that point the whole incident had become absurd enough to be genuinely hilarious.

Then I got on with my day, went to work, took the dogs to the beach, and so on and so forth. Now I’m here writing this. It’s been a good day. My face hurts from smiling. Well, showing teeth, anyway.

This episode was brought to you by my brain, doing its thing. There is a kind of moral to the story, though.


Marc MacYoung told me a couple of years ago that I should try to work out the answer to the question “How do you recover from recovery?” He said I should write about that. I told him that I couldn’t, for the simple reason that I didn’t know. I had no idea. I still have no clear idea, and I’m increasingly convinced that maybe there is no one answer. There may be as many answers as there are people. I think I’m starting to see the shape the answer is going to take for me, though. I have no idea if that answers Marc’s question, but it’s the only answer I’ve got right now.

My back’s messed up beyond repair. I’m running out of undamaged joints. My head is a three rings circus. Sometimes I run the show; sometimes the show runs me. I’m a sick enough puppy to get a huge kick out of both modes (bring it on). When required, I can exercise a level of control over my reactions while maintaining a level of honesty about how I really feel, but that isn’t always enough to prevent me from spiralling for a bit. And all of that is genuinely ok.

Take anything out of my life (even the back injuries, yes, I know, give me a break, I never said I was consistent), and I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be me. I ‘m positive that the alternative me would take a look at my life as it is and not want to swap, either, but that’s her prerogative. I’m the sum of my scars, and I like myself well enough that I’m happy to take the rough with the smooth.

So maybe I will recover from recovery when I finally stop treating my current state as a phase to be gotten through or gotten over; by truly accepting that I am what I am. Maybe I will recover from recovery by realising that I have always been in flux, to the point that there is no “me” to speak of. Maybe it will be a combination of both things; they’re not mutually exclusive. But right here, right now, it feels as if I’ve already recovered from recovery, and I don’t know when or how or why, and I don’t care. Even though sometimes things suck or hurt. I’m not at peace with that: right now, I hope I will forever raise my little fist to the heavens and shake it mightily when the urge takes me. But I’m at peace with not being at peace. Mostly, I don’t have the time to worry about that kind of stuff, because there’s better stuff I wanna do.

So maybe that’s the trick about recovering from recovering; getting to the point when you’re so busy being you, that you don’t worry about all the stuff you aren’t being or can’t be anymore. Or not. Shrug.


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