Excerpt for The Struggle Within: Part 1 (The Wind's Divine Melody) (First 4 Chapters) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



The Struggle Within
Part 1


The Wind’s Divine Melody”


Arjuna D. Ghose


Halifax, Canada

Lotus-Dove Publishing



Copyright © 2017 by Arjuna D. Ghose


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner or form other than for “fair use” as brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews without prior written permission of the publisher.


This book is most humbly dedicated to humanity,

but especially to the little sweetheart...


Table of Contents


Preface

Introduction

Chapter One:
Trouble at Home and an Anxiety Disorder

Chapter Two:
I Am Found

Chapter Three:
Himalayan Disobedience

Chapter Four:
The Wind’s Divine Melody

Further Info


Preface


Written to roughly seven fellow Sri Chinmoy disciples through email on December 23, 2016:


Hello Dear Friends, fellow lovers, lovers of goodness, God, humanity and Bliss:


This, I think, may be the final time I will send to you something you might find encouraging or inspiring about my story, which I have been writing since 2010, and which you may have found discouraging thus far...


Earlier today, Dear Guru guided me to read the following story from his writings, and I understand that this will be the prologue for my book, The Struggle Within. He also advised me to read the introduction to the book in which this particular story is presented within which he states that he did not actually write these stories, he is merely telling them from long ago. [Taken from srichinmoylibrary.com/lts-35]


Punishment Pays


A father and mother were both extremely fond of their child, who was only six years old. They were a very, very happy family. One day the child did something wrong and the father was very upset, so he gave the child a smart slap. Then the child cried and the father felt absolutely miserable. The father tried to console the child by giving him four rupees.


When the child got the money, he started crying more loudly and pitifully. The father said, “Why are you crying? I gave you a slap, but now I am consoling you. I will not slap you any more. Why are you still crying?”


The son said, “I am crying more powerfully and pitifully because I have to ask you something.”


What do you have to ask me?” the father said.


The son said, “Will you promise me that each time you give me a slap, you will increase the amount of money you give me?”


What?” cried the father.


The son said, “I did something wrong, and you gave me a slap. Now I will do something even worse. Each time I do something worse, will you not give me another slap and more money?”


The father said, “What are you saying?”


The son said, “I want to be punished by you every time I do something wrong. Each time my crime will be worse, so you can give me a harder slap if you wish. I will not mind at all. But you have to give me a larger amount of money, too.”


The father said, “What kind of son do I have? He is ready to be slapped for money. Why did I make the mistake of giving him money the first time? Each time he wants the slap to be harder. He does not mind being slapped if he receives a larger amount of money!”


(Perhaps you can figure out what the story references)

Blessings,

Arjuna


Introduction


This is the story about what happened to me and my daughter and is centered around my struggle within. As I write this in 2017, I’m not even fully sure what the struggle within is. But I do know my daughter would never even have been born if it wasn’t for it. In my story, I changed my name to Jacob to help protect the characters within it. Arjuna D. Ghose is also not the name I was born with. (I explain more about that over the course of this story.) All names in this story have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved. This is the first part of The Struggle Within and deals mostly with what happened to my daughter and how it was addressed.


There are a few things I’d like to tell you about myself before I begin my story. First of all, I can be a space cadet, often forgetting things over the years and making silly mistakes. Secondly, my feelings are easily hurt; sometimes. I can be too sensitive, and I don’t like it. I’m not generally the type of person who takes false accusations well; it’s probably the main thing that offends me. That being said, the third thing is that I often mess with people’s heads. I mean, seriously, I often don’t like to tell people when I’m really just joking around, teasing them, or tricking them. It’s almost as if I’m shy but not shy at the same time.


The final thing is that I love detective shows and would love to be one. When I watch TV, I almost always watch a documentary-style show called Forensic Files; it’s one of the only shows I watch. I like the idea of catching the bad guys and exonerating the innocent.


In 2010, I started telling my story to my friend, Tammy, through Facebook because I had a lot of things I had to tell someone. I chose Tammy because I like and trust her. I had to get my story recorded because if I didn’t I felt I wouldn’t be able to recollect it well, because I don’t have a good memory. It’s hard for me to articulate things from the past; that’s why the first few chapters of this book have been the most difficult for me. I felt something significant and important was happening through me, and I had to tell somebody. The reason I like this story is because it’s all about the truth. The reason why I am writing this book is because I know that if I just keeping writing about the truth Sri Chinmoy will reveal his Divinity in some way, and I knew that if I could record everything it could help people. The philosophy here is that the more you talk about the truth, the more the truth comes out.


I am spending a lot of time writing this story, hardly making any money while doing so, taking a big risk, while not knowing how this story is going to turn out, whether it will have a good ending or bad ending. But what fuels me is belief and inspiration. I believe in my story, I believe in the divinity behind it, and I am inspired to write it. Even if I only sell a few copies a year, I will feel like I accomplished something incredible. There is a divine story in my story; God is looking out for me and my daughter, and I believe in it. But I am also a man of little faith, like Peter when he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–31), and I have thus had some struggles because of that.


My daughter, Abigail, turned 13 in May 2017. She’s had serious behaviour problems since she was about two or three years old and over time I realized that there must be some psychological cause to her problems. I had my suspicions for quite some time that it had something to do with her mother, Erin, but at the time I didn’t know what.


Abigail has been doing better since Erin and her boyfriend, Justin, got married. I do not trust Justin as he was in prison for eight years for tying up and robbing an older couple and he is not the best influence for my daughter. However, Abigail is not yet able to exhibit her true personality most of the time, she is much more inwardly beautiful than what she has been manifesting. I’ve learned that this can come out by way of much more respect, affection, and concern from the significant adults in her life and the better you are as a caregiver, the better she is. Inwardly she is stunningly beautiful, although much of that beauty has not been not visible.


I knew there was a problem with Abigail before she started school. It became obvious to me when she was attending swimming lessons and summer camps where I could compare her behaviour to that of the other children. When all the other kids would be gathered around listening to the teacher, Abigail would be off getting into things or doing things she shouldn’t be doing. I never heard from her daycare teachers that there were problems with her behaviour there, but I did know within a year prior to the beginning of school (which here in Nova Scotia begins with Grade Primary) that there was something wrong with her and that I would have to work closely with her Primary teacher to help her.


In Grade Primary, her teachers and the principal identified behaviour problems that were disturbing to the class as a whole, just as I had predicted. When I met one-on-one with the Primary teacher, I suggested to her that perhaps the reason for her behaviour is because Erin (her mother) and I are not together, but she dismissed that saying that she has other children in her class who have parents who are not together, but they do not exhibit similar problems.


A few months later, Erin and I were called in to meet with the principal and Primary teacher. The principal tried to come up with solutions, all of which were to be implemented at the school, however those solutions didn’t clear anything up. According to what I observed, the solution to improve her behaviour problem was that something had to be resolved at the mother’s house, as opposed to the school. I really wanted to say that but decided not to out of fear of being judged. I did hint towards it a little, but my suggestions were dismissed by the principal.


As I’ve said, I knew very well that Abigail’s behaviour stood out in comparison to other children her age. In fact, her behaviour stood out in comparison to children any age. However, knowing that, I asked her teachers, by email, to clarify this for me; just in case, for future reference, I would have to show other people what their professional opinion was. Here are those email conversations:


/ March 7, 2011

/ To: Pauline [Grade Primary teacher]

/ From: Jacob

Hi Pauline,

How are you? I’m wondering if you can briefly answer a question on Abigail’s behaviour during her entire Primary year:

In your experience, does her behaviour generally stand out as unusual in comparison to other children her age?

Thank you


/ March 16, 2011

/ To: Jacob

/ From: Pauline

Hi Jacob,

I apologize for the delay in my response as I’ve been out for the past couple of weeks.

Abigail’s behaviour during the Primary year was unusual in comparison to other children her age.

Sincerely,

Pauline


~~~~


/ February 5, 2011

/ To: Sandra and Shyanne [Grade One teachers]

/ From: Jacob

Hi Sandra and Shyanne,

I’m just wondering if you can answer a couple quick questions about Abigail’s behaviour:

1. Have you noticed an improvement since the beginning of the year?

2. Do you feel her behaviour stands out in comparison to the other students in your classroom?

Thanks so much. Have a good weekend/week, and I’ll be in touch again soon.


/ February 6, 2011

/ To: Jacob

/ From: Sandra

Hi Jacob.....At times I have seen glimpses of improvement in Abigail’s behaviour but overall I would say no, and in fact the last couple of weeks there has been a regression in her behaviour. Abigail’s behaviour definitely stands out in comparison to the other students. At times the other children get annoyed because Abigail’s behaviour often interrupts class discussions. It is easy to see the frustration on the other children’s faces when they have to wait while Abigail needs to spoken to several times to put her book away and sit and stay in her seat. Sandra


Erin and I have not been together since Abigail was three-months old. We met on the Internet and lived together on and off for about a year and a half. We broke up twice, getting back together for various reasons. The third time I broke it off with her it was for good.


We signed a joint custody court ordered agreement which stated that I was entitled to visits with Abigail totalling at least 19% of every two-week period, or roughly 32 hours. I usually had her longer than what was stipulated in the court order, so I probably had her closer to 25% of a two-week period, roughly two full days. It also stipulated that I was to have her for two block-access periods a year for about five to seven days each, generally during the school breaks; I also had her for a block period during every Christmas holidays. When adding in these block access periods, I saw her for roughly 23 – 29%, or 90 – 100 days, of each year.


It was, and still is, extremely difficult to be taken seriously as a single father especially when Abigail’s mother has a background in Early Childhood Development and works at a daycare. No one wants to believe she is the cause of our daughter’s behaviour problems, but how else can I get this issue addressed if I am not taken seriously, at least to some degree?


In January 2017, when Abigail was 12, Erin kept Abigail from me for about two months (starting from late December 2016 until February 26, 2017), and then allowed me visits only once every two months until May 13, 2017. This was because of emails I sent her in late January regarding my concerns for Abigail. The same thing happened in 2012 when she kept our daughter from me for eight months. The trigger back then was the same: emails that I sent her regarding Abigail’s behaviour. For some reason, she is afraid of me being a concerned and involved father, but she is not afraid of living with a convict who was indicted for tying up and robbing an older couple, who got out of prison in 2012, as the full-time step-dad to our daughter.


This book is all about me addressing the situation my daughter is in, which, as another way of looking at it, has been harm inflicted upon my life. It is also about the struggles I’ve gone through during that time and an intervention by Sri Chinmoy. My goal is to help my daughter, and the only thing I can come up with as a solution would be for me to have sole custody. Regardless, however, no matter where she is, no matter where I am, no matter what our situation is, I will continue to fight for her well-being.


Chapter One:
Trouble at Home and an Anxiety Disorder


We must be sleepless

Plus, ruthless

In our fight against the troublemakers

Of our inner life:

Doubt, anxiety, fear,

Jealousy and insecurity.

- Sri Chinmoy


Early Life to Present


Let me go all the way back to when I was about seven years old living in Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada, a small community near Halifax. I was in Grade Two at the time, and around that time I used to write long stories for writing assignments; I don’t know why I did that, but I liked it. Eventually, my Grade Two teacher expressed that she thought I’d become a great author some day. What seemed like a special skill of mine was quickly forgotten, though. My parents never helped me in any way to continue with that interest and instill me with aspirations, and I didn’t actually continue writing in any way. Perhaps you can notice that here, at age 41, I have a long way to go as far as technique, skill, and practice, are concerned. And this is by far my most difficult chapter to write. I think it is amazing at seven years old for some reason I loved writing long stories, but I am only realizing it fairly recently that this is a passion of mine.


Speaking about my Grade Two teacher, she was, for some reason, quite fond of me. It made me think that perhaps I was somebody special or that I would be somebody special. She used to look at me sometimes, just stare at me and go off in a daze. And there was one time, she asked us to gather around her for a story. I was one of the first to get up right in front of her. But one boy came up to me and asked if he could have my spot, which meant I would have to go to the back. So, I said, “Sure” (but didn’t think it over too well beforehand, being overly compliant, and immediately regretted it). Right at that moment, my teacher yelled, “No!” The boy and I were wondering why and what was going on, but she just said, “Nothing. Never mind.” I knew, however, that that meant she had some kind of special affinity for me. Either that or she knew that deep down inside I didn’t really want to do that and she had deep concern for me. It was as if she blurted it uncontrollably from her being perhaps not fully realizing what she had done until after she said it. I don’t remember ever seeing her again since I finished that grade.


Only after I became a parent and had the opportunity to support and inspire my daughter’s passions did I realize that my parents, Robert and Debra, failed to do this for me. I do my best to help Abigail as much as I can to pursue her passions—she is becoming very good at art—and as she gets older I also talk to her about staying away from drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. I will never stop investing in my child and trying to help her no matter how old she gets. The same can not be said for my parents.


One of the so-called passions I developed as a boy was to hunt for and capture toads. After capturing a toad, sometimes I would hold it in my hand and pretend that it was on some kind of (what I considered) super awesome amusement park ride and zoom it around from side to side, up and down, and around and around. I knew I’d enjoy a ride like that so naturally I assumed the toads were enjoying it too. Sometimes it would pee all over my hand, and I now know that meant I was scaring them, but I didn’t consider that much at the time. Despite the fact that they would urinate all over my hand, I would continue to hunt for these poor toads and give them a “nice” experience.


When I was young I often thought that someday I’d be really big and famous. When I was about nine years old I told my sister, Belinda, who is one and a half years older than me, “You watch. Some day in the future I’ll be really famous or something.” I felt like it was cool or important to tell her because I thought maybe then she’ll see someday that I knew it all along if or when it does happen. I don’t know if this is something all little boys think, but it has turned out to be a significant aspect of who I am because I still suspect or think about it on some level.


As I got older, in my teens, I often imagined that my life was like a book or a movie being played out, or that I was recording it and that it would be published in a book some day. Although, I never imagined myself to be an author when I got older. In fact, I developed a severe anxiety disorder in my teens and I made the decision not to go to university, as well as many other decisions I would not have otherwise made, solely because of this anxiety.


Looking back, I recall that, as a young child, perhaps 10 or 11, I sometimes felt worried about having thoughts that I felt God would be disturbed about. Because I was worried or afraid of having these thoughts, I would end up thinking them again and again—thoughts like “I hate God” or “God is stupid”. I learned very recently that these kinds of thoughts could be called intrusive thoughts by psychologists. These are my earliest memories of anxiety, but, according to Sri Chinmoy, whom I have felt is within me and inwardly connected with me since I was about 18 or 19, my anxiety problem began much earlier than that. My parents used to have severe arguments; becoming vile to each other, and sometimes to Belinda and me. It is my opinion that I developed my anxiety disorder because of fear of my mother, although I also feared my father’s anger.


My father had a bad temper and my mother said mean things to him during their frequent arguments, deliberately snarling out insults and accusations that she knew perfectly well would upset him and just add fuel to the fire. Belinda and I had to endure it again and again as witnesses absorbing the poison from their toxicity, stabbing our hearts as though we were somehow at fault, as we were trying to grow up into psychologically sound warriors in the battlefield of life.


On Belinda’s tenth birthday, they had a terrible fight, being vile to each other once again, completely insensitive to how they were making my sister feel and more concerned with making sure their own hurt feelings were being attended to from the other. My sister cried bitterly, and I felt so sorry for her. Somehow my young, innocent mind knew that this was harming her in a major way.


Their fights sometimes became violent. One time, my mother ended up with a black eye, and I was told that it was because my father was trying to protect himself from her attacking him. There were also numerous lamps or lights broken.


One day, when I was about 13, my mother took a butcher’s knife from the kitchen and was ready to attack my father with it. My sister, my father, and I were all trying to keep away from her and hide while she had it. At one point, we were hiding behind a wall, and I made eye contact with her; she looked at me with a craziness-cloud in her eyes while holding the knife in the air and said, “I don’t want to stab you, Jacob. I just want to stab your father.” Later, I watched her scrape the tip of the butcher’s knife on the carpet of the stairs. She told me she was doing it in order to bend the tip of it in so that it would cause more serious damage when she stabbed it into his heart.


I hid with my father and sister in my bedroom. We couldn’t figure out how to get out of the house, so we were in there for hours. I was disturbed about what was going on, but accustomed to it. We eventually ended up being able to get out of the house somehow, and, after it was all over, my mother went to her bedroom and stayed in there for two days or so. Afterwards, my mother came out and things sort of went back to normal. Nobody mentioned anything about what happened, and my mother said to me, “Why didn’t you come into my room to visit me while I was sick in bed? Belinda came in...”, implying that I should have since Belinda did. And that was it—that was their version of a resolution.


When I was younger, one day I got scolded by my mother, although not in a hurtful way, for telling my teacher about my parents’ arguments; I got no sense from my mother, whatsoever, at that time (or any other time), that she was acknowledging that they were doing something wrong by losing their minds in front of us. No. It was I that had done something wrong by revealing something private and personal to my teacher.


My mother always taught me to worry about what other people might think by scolding me, often in disturbing ways, on the basis of how she thinks so-and-so might think. As I got older and older, I realized the opposite is true, that we should not give a shit what people think about us, and I like that way of thinking much better. But, on another level, I am still to this day negatively impacted sometimes by how I think other people might be thinking about me; it is perhaps the main reason I am so quiet.


In our household, the parents were allowed to be disrespectful to the children, but the children were not allowed to ever be disrespectful in any way to the parents. This was never a rule that was discussed; it was just communicated with emotional abuse, a very mean tone and a face expressing the likeness of the devil.


Their abuse towards me has been in the form of false accusations and undo blame. They often told me I was ungrateful, I cause them too much stress, or that I’m disrespectful, and, finally, that I am incompetent or that they don’t have faith I’m going to do something right. My mother often falsely accused me of not liking her saying (in a very nasty and hurtful way) that other sons treat their mother much better than I treat her. There were several times my father exploded his anger upon me (being disrespectful) because he perceived me to be disrespectful.


Robert is emotionally abusive almost daily in the sense that he often communicates to close family members in an insulting, blaming, and ridiculing manner. This is not when he’s joking around—when he’s joking around with friends and family it is completely different. And, like I said, there were several episodes of explosive anger directed towards me, which he somehow has believed was discipline. It was explosive anger coupled with ridicule, insults, and false accusations. He filled the house with a toxic atmosphere with his lies and abuse but blamed me for the difficulties in our home.


I’ve often felt that Robert’s anger is some kind of delusion. From the wikipedia.org article on anger: “While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of ‘what has happened to them,’ psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability.” This description applies well to him.


I can remember my father getting very angry with me as though it was discipline and my noticing, as a young child, that he never apologized for how upset he got. Somehow, he fooled himself into thinking that his anger was discipline, so perhaps that is why he never apologized, although clearly (to me, not to him) deficient in sincerity and wisdom. For example, he seems to cherish anger and taking blame out on others, getting a malicious pleasure out of it, at the expense of the well-being of others.


One day I accidently pulled too hard on Sheena, our border collie puppy`s, leg. My father heard her yelp and physically disciplined me for hurting her. After he hit me he exclaimed that if you hurt a puppy she will remember that for the rest of her life. I was just a little boy and I remember that he hit me so hard. I hope Sheena remembered my treatment of her was a one-time accident as I remember my father`s anger was neither. Unfortunately, both of my parents are hypocrites.


Poor Sheena was often stuck in the garage, at my father’s dictates, for most of the day, particularly at the times we all had to go out for the day, such as to school for Belinda and me, and work for my mother and father. I wasn’t smart enough at the time to understand that there was something wrong with it.


Sheena, was similarly affected by their arguments, as though she was at fault. I observed her many times while they were screaming at each other and it was as if she was experiencing a major scolding, looking scared and sad with her ears and head down.


Debra has been emotionally abusive almost daily by engaging in infantizing behaviour towards me and my sister, treating others like they are incompetent, and, although less frequent, false accusations.


My mother appears to convince herself that she is some kind of special mother when she unnecessarily provides unwanted or unneeded “help”, treating her children like they are much younger than they really are. Both my sister and I think this is due to some undiagnosed mental illness, but I am not sure. My sister thinks she has narcissistic personality disorder. If we didn’t like being treated like we were four years old, that meant, to her, that we didn’t like her, and she would become emotionally abusive towards us, accuse us in a nasty way of wrongly treating her. And it was just like when we tried to point other forms of disrespectful or wrong behaviours out to her; she would fall back on the only way she had of absorbing any form of criticism: she took immediate offence, claiming we were attacking her entire identity, everything about her, and accuse us of being the abusers or not loving her. She is incapable of accepting any form of constructive, helpful, criticism instead choosing to deny there is anything wrong, covering her mistakes with excuses. This may have something to do with how she was raised and/or the emotional abuse she’s received from her husband. I think it is due to some kind of underlying insecurity, without her fully realizing it, that she has to treat me like I’m four years old to convince herself that she is a special mother, and it has taken me over 40 years to develop this much understanding, although it is still unclear for me as to what is really going on.


One thing that seems pretty clear to me, though, which seems to be a reason why she is unwell, is she is not making an effort to change or improve herself. I told this to my recent therapist to which she replied, “I am sure that your mother is not making an effort to change, she probably does not feel that she needs to change and that there is nothing wrong with her or the ways she acts, or she already would have.” To this I stated, “No, she’s definitely not making any effort to improve, and I do not know the reason why, but I’ve described it (in my head) as ‘surrendering to her delusions’ in the same way that someone might surrender to laziness instead of pushing oneself, despite laziness, to do better and be well.” She told me that she thinks I’m right and that she thinks it is sad.


My mother’s actions have always seemed more complicated, perhaps because I never knew the right words to use to describe it. For example, many times, if ever I appeared to offend her, unintentionally, she would become negative and mean, and it was almost as if, during her negativity towards me, she was possessed by some sort of evil spirit, and I don’t know how else I could describe it. I don’t know the words to use to describe the emotions she is going through, because I’m not sure if it’s anger, but it certainly is very mean. She would have a very mean looking demeanor, she would stamp her feet, slam doors, and offend my feelings. And all this because she felt I did something wrong to her or was not nice to her. Although, she never once expressed to me that I’d offended her. Neither of my parents even one single time explained their true feelings and emotions to me or my sister after (or while) getting upset.


I should point out that my mother tends to be more loving and eager to help, while Robert is often insensitive with little affection, often being the opposite of a sweet and loving husband to his wife. He often jokes around, but, again, he is often mean to my mother. He has also been emotionally abusive towards me and my sister in the sense that he has often been emotionally abusive towards our mother right in front of us. But this is one side of him; he also has a loving, amicable side to him.


The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence states: “Repeated verbal abuse, such as blaming, ridiculing, insulting, swearing, yelling and humiliating,” (things Robert is guilty of towards my mother) “has long-term negative effects on a woman’s self-esteem and contributes to feelings of uselessness, worthlessness and self-blame.”


I believe in my heart that Robert, while angry with her, caused my mother to believe that Belinda and I don’t like her. Could this be the reason why Debra is the way she is towards Belinda and me? They go on to say, “Women who are psychologically abused but not physically abused are five times more likely to misuse alcohol than women who have not experienced abuse.” My mother drinks every day. She is psychologically addicted to it. And it is obvious in her well-being that it is not good for her. She once stated to me, after Robert yelled at her, “This is the reason why I drink.”


The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence also states: “Parental verbal aggression (e.g., yelling, insulting) or symbolic aggression (e.g., slamming a door, giving the silent treatment) toward children can have serious consequences.” Both of my parents are guilty of this behaviour towards me and Belinda; my father is mostly guilty of the former, while my mother is mostly guilty of the latter.


After telling my therapist what I’d grown up with, she remarked, “It sounds to me that you had a significant amount of trauma in your life, both emotional, verbal, and physical trauma. I am more and more sure that your experiences as a child did affect you significantly and did cause you to have the anxiety issues that you have had and do have.”


It seems to me, and to my therapist, that my parents are both narcissists, rarely admitting when they’ve done something wrong with little insight into the scars they had caused me and my sister. After arguments, they just went back to normal. Never sitting me and my sister down and saying how sorry they were and how they were going to do what they could to try to make sure it never happened again. The same went for abuse towards us.


Most people who know them would say that they are pretty good people and they can definitely be very friendly and congenial. Recently I said to my therapist: “They are friendly, but bad people (not that they are entirely bad) can be friendly. And a lot of people, such as aunts, uncles, friends of the family, rarely see anything but their friendliness and congeniality. So, what my sister and I have gone through, their negativity towards us, has been totally concealed.”


After I told her this, she stated, “It is also common for people who act as your parents do behind closed doors to show a completely different face to others, such as you stated with your aunts, uncles, friends of the family. They would probably never allow others to see their true selves; had they done so, I am sure that someone would have stepped in (or at least I would hope that they would) to protect you and Belinda from that abusive home! I believe that you and your sister may be right, that they are both textbook narcissists. They have an inflated sense of self, no remorse for what they do to others; exaggerated feelings of self importance; excessive need for admiration; lack of understanding of other’s feelings, take advantage of people around them....”


I emailed that statement of my therapist’s to Belinda to which she replied, “That is great you have found a counsellor who you can feel comfortable with and have validate you.


What she said about you and I resonates true.


There is no doubt in my mind anymore that our childhood was distorted in severe psychological and emotional abuse.... It’s time to heal and thrive now ;)”


At age 14 I started heading in the wrong direction very quickly. At that age, I got drunk for the first time. Not only was I drunk, it was the most intoxicated I’ve ever been. I think I had some sort of alcohol poisoning from consuming so much alcohol. It didn’t help that my parents were heavy drinkers and kept their booze within easy access. In fact, after drinking about three beer from a six-pack some older guy bought for a so-called friend and me, I unwittingly got terribly intoxicated from the booze my parents were keeping in their garage. I couldn’t stand up or see straight and then couldn’t stop vomiting.


That was the beginning of a period of rebellious and inappropriate behaviour for me. I began doing drugs like acid and weed, I continued drinking, and there were times, while walking through the neighborhood with my friends, I would walk right on top of parked cars on the street. Sri Chinmoy later told me inwardly that all this was because I had little guidance in the right direction. My parents gave my sister and me too much freedom, including leaving us home alone while they went away or out for the night beginning when we were around 14 or 15. It is good when you’re an adult and have a good moral compass, but, when we were younger, too much freedom along with little guidance in the right direction was a terrible combination.


My anxiety disorder became uncontrollable and tormented me every day, all day long, while I was going out with my girlfriend, Sandi, in high school. My anxiety disorder consisted of various types of distress and doubt. I would struggle with societal anxiety in crowds, but would also struggle with the same anxiety while alone for hours. My anxieties included me having no control over feeling tension in my face, mostly around my lips; another involved a type of nervousness which resulted from worrying about being worried about being worried (I call this my nervous energy.); and another was a crushing doubt which destroyed everything about me (in addition to other forms of doubt). I would go on suffering from these anxieties and doubts for hours while all alone, with nothing impending that could cause anxiety.


For the longest time, all I would have to do is unwittingly think for a split second about this nervous energy anxiety and then I would go on struggling with it for hours. This is my life. I just suddenly worry, or think about things I shouldn’t, and then I struggle with it. But I have other forms of worrying and doubt as well. These days most of my anxiety is more subtle; sometimes I’m hardly aware I’m experiencing it either because it’s so subtle or because I’m so used to experiencing it.


Belinda was hardly much better as she grew up, although screwed up in a much different way. She also was not given much guidance in the right direction, and, along with psychological problems, headed down a path of poor decisions and unhealthy responses to difficult experiences. The drug ecstasy became a god to her as though a drug can literally bring about a form of happiness, and her abuse of that for many years certainly provided no strength in helping prop her up with true psychological stability. She also used cocaine for a time and thought it was pretty special but preached that it had to be used “properly.” She is and has been on a life path of trying to discover her true self like anybody else, but she is unfortunately not reaching that most of the time due to abuse and poor guidance.


At age 17, I suddenly lost the ability to smile without feeling tense in my face and lips. To this day I still struggle with that sometimes and I don’t smile much. In addition, I could not (and it is something I still struggle with) sing along to songs without beginning to feel my nervous energy. I’d feel very self-conscious when dancing or when I think a girl is looking at me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had true admiration for people who can smile, dance, and sing, and especially smile while dancing.


My friends began to ask me why I was so quiet, but I didn’t really know why at the time. During this time, I also became very self-conscious about being quiet, thinking that it was disturbing to others, which added to me not being able to manifest my true self. To this day I feel uncomfortable beginning conversations with people, even old friends, because I’m worried I’ll be too quiet or say dumb things in an attempt to not be too quiet. For this reason, there have been countless social opportunities, some pretty major, where I did not begin a conversation, or continue one if someone began talking to me.


Throughout my past, and even still today, when I’m talking to someone and experiencing subtle anxiety, it doesn’t show on my face; what shows is a more reserved, stoned-faced look with little expression in comparison to my much more relaxed state. And I often can’t articulate my thoughts when talking to people face-to-face. I can’t answer questions or clarify myself properly, such as a question by a waiter asking me if I want this flavour or that flavour. Because of my anxiety about failing socially or feeling like I’m looking terrible to him, I’ll say the wrong flavour because I can’t think straight. And I won’t be able to listen well to what he’s saying to me. My thoughts, my self-expression is expressed internally 99% more than externally. That, however, does not include writing, or talking to people on the Internet, if you take those as an external form of expression.


These are things I’d like to conquer to become what I believe would be a much more self-actualized state.


Because of my anxiety, quietness, and reservedness, I’ve been quite often misunderstood by my parents, particularly my mother, and others. Incidentally, Belinda also has a serious problem with anxiety, although in a different form. Needless to say, neither of my parents have this struggle.


Present


Often, my parents misunderstand me by treating me like they don’t have faith that I am going to do something right. As an example, whenever Debra says anything to me, I always must confirm back to her that I’m listening by saying, “Okay,” otherwise, apparently, I’m just rude. In other words, she doesn’t just simply have faith that I’m listening to her, she doesn’t believe I’m doing the right thing. And I worry that she can be deluded into thinking that if I don’t respond my not responding is the same as being negative towards her which could cause her to become negative towards me. It is lack of faith and thinking I am something I am not, which is how I was raised. But, at the same time, over the years, they have also been, many times, very kind and supportive. Sometimes they do express that they believe in me; that being said, however, every single day they implicitly communicate that they don’t have faith in me.


As another example, one time we were staying at a hotel and we had ordered some food to be brought to the room. My mother asked me if I wanted something, and I said I didn’t, because I was not hungry at the time. After 20 minutes, she said, “All this sitting around at the pool, sun tanning, and ordering food is tiring.” I thought, does that mean she ate already? Because I was just curious, because it seemed like that was pretty quick to get the food and eat already. So, I asked if the room service came already. And she responded, “No, that will take another hour or so; I asked if you wanted something and you said, ‘No.’” Assuming I’m asking because I’m just realizing that I actually do want room service like some kind of little boy (even though I was 41) that can’t think properly for himself. So, I had to immediately correct her and say, “No, I don’t want room service right now.” But this is the kind of thing I deal with every day. She laughed a little, but, as usual, never learning that she has a serious problem with thinking things that are not true even though I correct her again and again.


My mother quite often does this. She tends to think you’re talking about something you’re not, and often scoffs at you, or wrongly accuses you, and thinks there’s something wrong with you that isn’t. Both tend to frequently scoff at me stemming from not truly understanding, but my mother tends to do it much more frequently.


After becoming Sri Chinmoy’s disciple, learning to meditate and learning about his philosophy, I’ve quite often felt that if only my parents would pray and meditate (sincerely and soulfully), they wouldn’t be so negative towards each other and towards me and my sister. One day when I was 18, I got mad at them for this very reason and moved out, the first time I lived on my own.


Both of them are guilty of this negativity and of doing nothing about it. In fact, for some reason, my father shuns therapy. Not only did they not attempt to practice any disciplined meditation, they never incorporated any family therapy to help with the poisonous atmosphere.


From The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence: “Emotional abuse follows a pattern; it is repeated and sustained if left unchecked, abuse does not get better over time. It only gets worse.” and “Emotional abuse of children can result in serious emotional and/or behaviour problems… and poor social skills.”


As I got older, and I improved with the help of my spiritual life, my parents either never realized or never cared that meditation can help us all be more loving towards each other and more insightful as to what others are going through enabling us to show increased compassion and understanding and respect. As I’ve said, my parents have misunderstood me. To this day, my parents are not insightful as to who I am.


These days, my mother every day has the wrong impression that I am somehow incompetent and that her giving direction and pointing (obvious) things out are somehow helpful. My father blindly follows her lead, and I think that is why he also tends to treat me like I don’t know any better. For example, I don’t have any problems with my daughter and getting her to do the things she’s supposed to do when they’re not around, but when they’re around they wrongly feel that they have to give me orders to do this and that with her as if I’m not handling it properly and they are righteous arm chair parenting experts. “Can you get her to take her thyroid pill so we can get some food into her?” “Daddy can you put the movie in for her?” “Jacob, we have to leave at 9:30 tomorrow morning so, you’ll have to get her up and get her ready,” things I am already fully aware that I have to do, all right in front of Abigail, undermining my authority. This sort of treatment has been going on all my life. You’d think it would dawn on them that I am already more than fully aware to do these things and that I am the boss of my child. But to say that they are unaware of what is really going on is an understatement. It is mostly my mom who does this and she often uses my dad like a pawn and orders him to give me orders. That being said, my dad should know better.


It is just like I don’t have any problems driving a car when I’m by myself, and yet when my mom or my dad is with me, they have to tell me to watch out for this and get in that lane and so forth as if I don’t have it figured out on my own. This is the daily treatment I get from them, always telling me what to do when I already know to do it and can handle it on my own. It’s a sign of their inability to trust me and have faith in me. I am 41 years old and they treat me like I am an incompetent or delinquent teen.


The fact is, both of them treat me like I am incompetent and if I don’t keep my cool about it, they could become more severely abusive towards me. The problem now is that they are beginning to do this to Abigail and I think she is going to object to it more and more as she gets older. However, for some reason, no matter how much you object to something they are doing, they don’t tend to clue in. The more likely result of objecting to them is they would eventually become very negative to you. They would not get that they treat me like they don’t have faith in me and become hostile as though I’ve done something wrong to them. But if they would just pray and meditate, they would become more conscious.


Although both are not very insightful and don’t tend to acknowledge when they do something wrong, I love my parents very much. These days they are extremely helpful in helping me to be able to write this book and being kind to me most of the time. I am very grateful and I love them and we have a lot of good memories. We often talk about memories when we sit together enjoying each other’s company.


And I do love it when we are enjoying ourselves together, when I’m joining them on the deck for a drink, or when we go out for dinner together, which is one of my all time favourite things to do, as long as they don’t begin arguing. They are very congenial when we do these things, although they are usually drinking during those times. I’ve always remembered them to be congenial and enjoying themselves when partying, not that they don’t become a bit less intelligent when buzzed. And they are always willing to do something to help. Their generosity, kindness, and the freedom they give me has been helping me to get this book completed. Usually, the times when they misbehave towards me, aside from being mean to each other, are when they perceive I have done, am doing, or going to do something wrong. I know from experience that no matter how good I am they will regularly perceive me negatively. But joining them for a drink or going out for dinner with them is almost always a good experience, just because of their congeniality. Perhaps that is why I enjoy it so much.


But the best is when they are with friends or extended family. They behave better then. I’ve always loved when my parents had friends or family over because that always meant they were going to enjoy themselves and treat me better. The version of my parents while around friends and family is much more enjoyable version for me.


Both their love and their hurt towards me has affected me. Their hurt has affected my faith in myself. And their love has helped me to be well, nourished, and propped up. However, their help is nothing in comparison to that of Sri Chinmoy’s whose help never ceases, and it does leave a knife stuck into my heart that they never admit their wrongdoings. Not only is it almost as if it causes my disorder to continue, it stands in the way of them improving.


I feel I have dwelt overly much on the negative parts of my childhood in this chapter. There were good times too, and times when Robert and Debra were very good parents. Sadly, in my case, the negative had a strong impact on the direction of my life.


Chapter Two:
I Am Found


Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

- Luke 15:1 –10


I Am Lost


When I was close to 16 years old, I discovered on my own that if you really practice something then you can become successful at that thing. That thought eventually inspired me to practise the piano for hours each day, with the idea that all I have to do is become really, really good and then I can become successful and perhaps even famous. I would have preferred to practice the guitar, but we only had a piano, and I didn’t think Robert and Debra would buy me a guitar. Robert and Debra were mostly supportive of my piano playing and enjoyed listening to me play.


Not long after my 16th birthday, I skipped school one day, stole my parents’ car, which was in the driveway of our house, and tried to drive to New York City. I imagined that eventually I would meet somebody in New York who would allow me to practice on their piano all day every day. I wasn’t very intelligent, and thought I was going to be some sort of hippie blues piano player. I didn’t feel like I was running away from something, but running toward something. I just felt that somebody would be there to help me and things would magically work out so well. The idea spawned in my head from reading books like Helter Skelter and No One Gets Out of Here Alive. Young kids, particularly kids who don’t have enough guidance in the right direction, shouldn’t be allowed to read books that might negatively affect their minds. I got caught at the US border because I was so nervous while answering the border agent’s questions. What actually gave my secret plan away was I had written in a journal, which I kept in the car. The border agents found the journal while searching the vehicle in which it said, “I hope the border service agents don’t suspect anything.” I spent the night in a nearby jail. My parents picked me up the next day. They were offended, but mostly kept their cool. I didn’t even have my driver’s licence yet.


Eventually, from practicing the piano for hours and hours every day, I noticed something was happening with my eyes. I was becoming better looking. I started noticing young women looking at me and liking me. And I liked it. Looking back, I suppose this was kind of like God’s Hand reaching out to me, saying, “Come. You’re doing the right thing. Keep coming this way.”


I was first introduced to meditation when I was 16 from a Tae Kwon Do instructor who taught it to the class one day. Although, I was in Tae Kwon Do and practicing the piano, I was completely lost with respect to where I was heading in life and what I was going to do with myself. I became interested in meditation but felt it was dry while practicing it with the Tae Kwon Do instructor. It didn’t seem to do much in other words, and I was thinking that it should probably do more.


When I was 16, 17 and 18, there would be times when I’d be overcome with a discouraging insecure-like depression, and it felt like the end of my world during those times. One moment, while practicing the piano, I started to feel a bit better. And during that moment, a thought came over me that sometimes clouds come and sometimes they go. And it made me feel so good and encouraged. I learned something. It’s not the end of the world when I feel bad. How could I have this thought when no one ever taught me this? It is as if something within me, perhaps my own self, taught it to me. It dawned on me from within, and I became a little bit more enlightened because of it.


One day not long after that short instruction on meditation from the Tae Kwon Do teacher, I stumbled upon a book on a bookshelf at my parents’ house called Out on A Limb by Shirley MacLaine. Not even knowing what it was about, I decided to read it. It turned out to be the first book that steered me towards the spiritual life. It had a positive effect on me and helped me to become interested in meditation. I ended up trying meditation for a few weeks or so, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do and felt no results, so I stopped.


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