Forgiving 30 years of psychiatric heartache in four days

How do you forgive the rage you got in touch with in the last two days – over 30 years of heartache – through a four-minute song about forgiving yourself?  I dunno, I can’t figure it out – ask Jesse Powers, tonight (Sunday, 11/10) at the Jubilee Mystic Cafe (7-9 p.m. at 46 Wall St.), or at her web site.  

Over the last four months, I have discovered that the “bipolar disorder” psychiatric label that got pinned on me in my early 40’s was actually a tragic mistake.  Stanislav Grof in his landmark transpersonal psychology book The Stormy Search for Self describes how a “spiritual emergency” – a powerful and difficult and potentially wonderful psychological event – can be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric breakdown.  The person can be given a psychiatric diagnosis and put on powerful psychiatric drugs that can keep them snowed for a very long time – potentially the rest of their lives.

I will be forever grateful that this psychiatric bondage, for me, lasted only 30 years – and that I “woke up” at age 72.  This journey is described in my new blog “Waking up“.  I have some potentially wonderful years left – a reprieve that many people never get.

In the last two days, I finally got in touch with the grief and loss and rage I feel over the 30 years that the psychiatric profession “took away from me”.  (I know that I will, over time, come to at least believe –  if not understand why or how – this path has been just right for me. But hey, right now it’s all pretty new and raw.)  This morning this pain seemed so deep and potent that – even in my current context where everything seems to heal fast – I feared it would be a long, long time before I could forgive this great harm.

This forgiveness happened in about four minutes at Jubilee this morning, through a song by Jess Powers about self-forgiveness – it wasn’t even about the forgiveness of others, but that was the healing I needed this morning.

Catch Jess tonight at the Jubilee Mystic Cafe (46 Wall St., 7-9).  The wonderful person and very deep poet Aimee Morrison opens the show.  If you can’t make the show tonight, you can find Jess online.

Stanislav Grof’s ideas are practiced and taught in Asheville at the Center for Spiritual Emergence.

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These days all of my identities are converging: whether I am offering a blessing in the grocery store checkout line, offering a prayer in a poem or experiencing the kinship with all life while walking my or a client's dog - it's all the same. It's all Life.

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