Posts Tagged ‘Recovery’


Confirmation bias is taking in only the information that fulfills that which you want to believe. Spiritual, deals with the intangibles of life. But what does this have to do with today? It is easy to exist within confirmation bias within religious settings. For anyone that has read the book or seen the movie, Running with Scissors, this is partly the concept of a “Bible Dip” cracking open a sacred text, reading what is there, and pulling out what you want to see. It is not done with extended context, or discussion with others, just simply your own literal reading of the words on the page.

This challenge was raised in our exploration of the Gospel of Luke. See, usually you start with the context of a passage, what came before or after to unpack, that didn’t create a deeper or better understanding. It was just one of those moments in a text that is like a wha huh?

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (New Revised Standard Version)

It is unpacking that what is the point of healing? For this example it is challenging Jesus’ exorcism that basically yeah the demon was cast out, but then returns with 7 friends and life becomes more hellicious. One reading is for those with mental health concerns, or other chronic health conditions, what is the point of healing or seeking help for it is all for naught. The better cliche, is what is seen where one accepts treatment to a certain point and is feeling better so stops, and guess what happens before healing is complete?

But this passage pulls out another praxis. See, one may not know the original languages, but we live in a time of multiple translations especially in the English language, and I want to challenge you not to simply read the text in your bible. If you can, discuss it in a group (over snacks is always good), but also have diversity in the translations in the group, and so we started to wrestle with this and unpack with a few other readings of it:

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (English Standard Version)

24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (The Message)

Different readings and conversation brought us to the bridge of the key word in the Message– Vacant. The other two spoke of in order, but the concept wasn’t extrapolated. For what happens when you spring clean your house? You not only get the dirt and gunk out, but you remove the clutter, make donations, create more space for the new you emerging. This is what is missed in the conversation of healing from any health concern. Your internal spiritual house has been put in order, in some cases completely rebuilt. The toxic is removed.

Now the challenge has been laid at your heart, do you continue the work? Do you continue the care, and ensuring that your house remains toxin free? Or do you just accept it as a one and done moment. It is in that one and done, my house is in order- vacant, that is the allegory of the demon getting friends, for there is now more room to play. The more room is not only from the removal of a certain level or all toxins and clutter, rather it is also the ego that comes from going through the healing that you have a blind spot.

But is that only all? Well, within the chapter it is a challenge by the religious oppressors of Jesus’ healing. A healing ministry designed and implemented to remove the farcical barriers that labelled any divine image as wrong, and less than any other. It was their attempt to say, yes you may have done this and come and been welcome back— BUT, it is for nought for you will always be what you were. That caste system ideal of not seeking to be healthier or better. In the modern world it is the churches that preach only prayer for healing not to trust medical doctors or psychologists, because this is who you are and only by being holier will you see the glory of God.

See how the religious oppressors still exist? The importance of belonging and community in spiritual growth and discipleship? The importance of belonging in healing and recovery?

These 3 little verses can be devastating, until you read them and realize it is stated to discourage growth and transfiguration into who you are meant to be in the Holy. Once you realize that, it is a case of stepping over it and going, NO. I trust the call on my soul to be whole.

 


It is a story told over two volumes:

A stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

cover

Buy Soul Ripples here.

Then enter the healing with Soul Ripples Two by clicking link in the caption of the picture:

centennial coffee

Soul Ripples 2

Enjoy the journey, and please share with those you think need to see that healing is possible…and Hope abounds.


There are many four letter words that have come out of my mouth during this journey, and have been applied to my life and the ripple effects with my family. My journey on healing from trauma was supported awesomely though by having family it allowed me the space to heal. Not only heal, but make the connections within my flashbacks to trace core memories of trauma that needed to be rooted out, and healed to create the ripple within my own person.

It did feel like energy and electricity bursting through my body and leaving during the sessions. It was amazing as the weeks between would pass and different emotions of the spectrum would be felt- both positive and negative.

Yet, the work I did between sessions I would not encourage someone without a healthy in home support network to do…for in the isolation it could very easily go from healing to suicidal, it was a trip into the darkness and trusting the light path to bring you out.

Yes I am a person of faith, and that faith whether out there or subtle have played a role in my life. The same with this journey, and I am glad that in my life prayer and action go hand in hand, and the constant dialogue within myself and the Holy Mystery is there. It was amazing as I began healing to see the different opportunities that opened up for me and my family, the different places where we could connect for joy, love and healing. Where our faith would be rewarded, and where we could see communities around us come out of their own struggles into a new dynamic understanding of belonging as happened with our home church in Calgary in regards to the faith challenged laid down by my son to them.

This is the winding road. The ripples like upon a river or lake created by a skipping stone. The soul ripples that answered the question, what happens when the helper needs help?

They discover who their true family is (whether blood or chosen, there are many who journeyed with us, and blessed us communally and individually that I may or may not have mentioned in these two volumes, to you all I say thank you). You also discover your own true self anew.

It was this sense that brought me to the remission appointment at the Foothills Hospital with my PhD. Psychologist where the healing began on February 14, 2019. Here I was entering the office once more on October 31, 2019…

Not knowing what may or may not come of the meeting, but one thing was certain.

Today was the day; I could firmly stand in my faith, in my healing.

It was the day where the four letter word that had carried my family through the darkness was fully lived and embraced. It was a beautiful four letters:

H-O-P-E-

My step into hope of the new dawn of my pilgrimage with Brother Jesus as I once more stepped into the office.


Many will say

There is no place or

Time left to let blame rest

Yet many need to understand the ripples

Their actions,

Words,

Have upon those they are inflicted upon.

In-Laws

Should be outlaws,

Not seeing the harm

They inflict

For they believe their crap

Don’t stink

Holier than thou

Of the non or believer holy rollers

Shattered souls

And lives

Finding respite

Relief,

Leave me

Under pressure

Confronted

Conflicted

Being stared through

With glassed over eyes

That has pain nulled,

Yet not healed or released

The seizures release falsely

Yet the cracks are there

As the pressures of life

And career mount

One glassy eyed stare

And the house of cards

The interior castle

The mind palace

Collapses

The colloquial straw upon the camel’s back

Or the angelic breaking of the back from the verse upon my Mummy’s urn,

A sad sack turn of phrase to appease another’s guilt.

Yet…

In the end…

Treatment awaits…

To heal

Rebirth

Reboot

The soul,

That had been broken,

And the sources,

Will never know

Or more aptly

Give a damn.


Burn that Bunker Down

 

The third ART Treatment burnt down the solid concrete bunker that was holding the horrors at bay. It was an image I had used through my therapy to describe the dribs and drabs my body would allow out for healing. Solid concrete, with small cracks and crackling green flame behind it that could peek out as my body prepared to deal with the next wave of pain.

The challenge is that after the second treatment, the mind webbing down before brought me to an almost shooting death by the police after saving a suicidal individual. But the spider-webs out had dealt with connecting points of other moments of being threatened, assaulted, shot at, entering into the world of hoarders, vicarious trauma and bed bug infestations[1]. This had alleviated flashback, anxiety, and depression pressures and fears upon my system for the two weeks between treatments. It was a freedom I had not enjoyed for many years.

The freedom though allowed me, like a soul archaeologist, to continue the fine work of getting to core memories. The true horrific traumas that my body was attempting to protect me from upon this journey.  Entering into my third treatment that I had innocuously stated to explore the deaths (613, but again dear reader, pick up the first volume) who collage and crushing grieving emotions began taking hold after the last treatment on my being.

The homework (prep work? soul work?) before this session I began mapping out the deaths. Trust me not a fun time. It left me weepy, my emotions raw. Basically struggling to ensure I was present, and still the me on the healing journey for my family for I was not going to be collapsing back into Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures despite the rawness of what was emerging.

As was written previously, the molestation memories came back at this point. BUT it was not first. See, my soul mapping started at first with the deaths- professional, friends, connected to family, my family, brought me down to when my Granddad died when I was 16 years old. The last words he spoke to me the night he passed was, “it’ll be alright” which triggered the shattering flashbacks of the summer of 8 years old, noted before.

The Vacation Bible School ones came back first, but then came down to Grandpa Joe. Thankfully the attempt stayed on top of the clothes when I had gone to get ice cream during a BBQ, and my Grandma and Mum saved me, and then built in safety precautions until he died when I was 12 years old which was a huge relief to me. I did not understand then, this was buried deep.

It came up in dreams from then until he was dead. These dreams were of adults in my life, at meal times, BBQs with everything feeling like a normal family time. Then the adults would pull off their faces, which were like Scooby Doo monster masks, to reveal a reptilian head beneath, much like the Gorn from the Original Star Trek episode, the Arena.

Note the symbolism?

Our subconscious protects and buries. It also attempts to work through. The crashing down of my neuro and physical systems unearthed this core memory which became the memory to be treated during my Accelerated Resolution Therapy and would produce a new emotion for me during this journey.

See it was through this process that the fear, anger, and hurt was replaced. There was healing. The image of the concrete bunker exploded and was consumed by the green flames. I literally felt electricity leave my body (as I had with two previous sessions, but this wasn’t just extremities, it felt as from my heart).

The negative emotions moved slowly through processing to neutral. I walked through where each of my family was, but there was still reconciling this ass-hat who some still looked to fondly, and what he had tried to do—Joe. He was dead. One could say with my religious connotations I could take solace that he was in Hell. Except, that does not work with how I had come to believe, readers of volume one will note my short treatise on Purgatory. The final purging of all that keeps you from Heaven that meant Joe was with Jesus.

But not the monster on earth, a new creation.

It was this thought from my heart that tipped the balance of neutrality to positive ever so slightly. As the treatment continued, and I focused more on how the matriarchs of my family worked within the system to protect me, hope began to emerge.

From hope we moved to…joy.

Now the monster was dead. The ashes were consumed away. I drank deeply of joy.

The journey continued…as it was time to confront the other ripples in my life, but today joy was felt again. It is how faith, psychology and community work together to craft a new me.

[1] For more on infestations and such, I direct you to Soul Ripples.


Soul Archaeology

Some would say a healing journey is a kin to a cozy mystery. Sifting clues, and finding the solution. This may be true on the way to diagnosis in regards to the conditions, but when it comes to the healing one feels more like a paleontologist or an archaeologist. Like Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park or the intrepid Indiana Jones you need to sift the crap and the debris away to get to the core.

This has never been more evident in my own journey than with the lag between Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) sessions, where I am left with the debilitating flashbacks that in some ways and some days lead me to succumb to the feeling of less than, failure, depression, anxiousness and anger. Yet as the tides recede what is left is the soul work-dream work-mindfulness of what lies in the flashback. See for me my flashbacks sometimes come as day or night mares (and I dream in 1930’s Technicolor animation so yes it is a trip), hallucination of sound and-or image, but mostly it comes in flashes like a comic book double splash page. It is in this work I am the archaeologist  beginning with shoveling the big pains/traumas that are surface level raw. These are the items the hot thoughts, CBT, mindfulness, narrative-talk therapy and prayer work well with. These are also the beginning of my mind maps (spider-webs) as these memories trickle out more and more to the core trauma that ART will heal. See, our bodies only release that which we are able to deal with, and as we heal, it hurts more as we go deeper and deeper until the final release. I currently have sifted quite a bit of the clunky debris and sand away, and have moved down the levels into the pyramid corridor towards the burial chamber of pain.

But, as I journey through this, I look at the societal allegory this creates as well. As I have written of before, my province is in a grieving cycle. We do not have leadership equipped to name it. To act as the societal and communal archaeologists to create the space to clear away the debris, and move into the corridors, and the burial chamber. To be able to leverage that which we know, the truth of society and economics, coupled with the acknowledgement and action on the human impact, to make our world better. It would go a ways to create a healthier now, staunch the flow of lies if I may be so bold and blunt from those that only want to hear from their own ideology, and close off hatreds that have been allowed to grow like weeds in the bright light of day once more.

It also allows for open, pragmatic conversation on the state of community. As I reflect on my own political journey as a religious man. It has been weird within the “progressive” circles how unwelcoming one can be made if they admit their beliefs start with a Higher Power/creator. Unwelcome is the nice term, there has been derogatory attacks, name calling, and hatchet jobs. Talking with others that would be seen as religiously liberal-progressive-pragmatic that have chosen to exist within the Conservative political ideology as I have not, I asked why. Simply because these movements allow for the extremist-fundamentalist form of religion to be given a clarion bullhorn of media so that it becomes the only view of a belief system. The answer? Space is allowed where these core beliefs are not belittled, and it creates superficial belonging. So, if they are allowed to be themselves EVEN though other parties are 70-99% more in line with their social justice and faith understandings of what we are to do on this earth.

So let that settle, as we clear debris at the macro societal level. Anger and hatred exists in all ideological camps. A whipping post has become religion, yet within religious circles, the same political spectrum that exists in your neighbourhood exists within your local spiritual centre. Yet, at political active levels that is not usually seen, because either, like many, there is disengagement, OR false belonging because you cannot check a core belief or are weary of taking the slings and arrows for a million things you never did or believe.

Just like being an archaeologist of your own soul. Communities and groups need to do the same on their own soul. They need to authentically understand diversity, accessibility, inclusion and what belonging is. Key point- it does not mean a collection of automatons behind a leader that is the Galactic Empire. It actually is more like the United Federation of Planets…which gives me a good allegory for the archaeology work on the healing journey whether at the macro, micro or personal level, take two hours, and watch Star Trek V: The Final Frontier…

What are you going to do with your pain?

What are you going to do with your path?

Rotting Roots of Webs

With the Accelerated Resolution therapy, I reflect upon the words of Captain Kirk from Star Trek V, about we need our pain. This is true, we learn through trials and tribulations, as much as our joy and jubilation. It is the events that have shaped us, but our memories should not hold us back. This is where the pre-work I had undertaken in preparation for the ART treatments worked. Why pre-work? Simple, there was such lag between sessions, and such pain being experienced in the flashbacks.

At this point preparing for the third treatment I said I wanted to begin exploring and treating the deaths[1] so I began the mapping as the flashbacks continued. Much how a mindful monastic or mystic would unpack visions or dreams, I set about unpacking the comic book splash pages of death and decay.

What happened as I mapped, was that the deaths, and my pain in response (grieving if you will) had been dealt with and put to rest as my addled brain and soul began to reset. Yet the digging continued downward now that the debris had been cleared.

In previous sessions this had been the fear of disclosure of who I was, and the session I announced this at I had rebooted the healthy dealing with shootings (7 I had been a victim of, or near victim of including one by Calgary Police Service); bed bug infestations and hoarders[2]. These were traumatic memories, flashbacks and hallucinations my body, mind and Spirit were using to protect me until I was ready. We are amazing organisms upon the healing journey.

Once cleared away I mapped out the death vault, and then spiraled into the intergenerational trauma of my family that was anchored in one man’s ripples of violence my grandpa, Joe Ragan[3] had inflicted upon the family and whose memory continued this warped manipulation of control.

Like a nine square puzzle in a large square box, where you would slide the images to create a picture, the image fell together of a Father’s Day BBQ he attempted to molest me. My Grandma, Mum and other matriarchs saved me, and would work for the remainder of the 4 years he would live to ensure we were never alone, knowing the monster that lurked beneath.

This was the core memory I thought.

But there was more from the summer of being 8 years old.

Part of being a part of evangelical Christianity for higher education is the concept of testimony, that idea that there is a big moment when you accept Jesus Christ into your heart. It is a hard concept to wrap one’s head around when you were baptized at 2 months old Anglican in a Roman Catholic School gymnasium, attended a Christian & Missionary Alliance Pre-School, a regular public school, and “church” up until age 10 years old was the local ecumenical Vacation Bible School (VBS).

It was great part of a week of fun in the summer of Bible stories, songs, plays, games, and crafts. My godmother was a lead at her church, and we went with her kids. It was a church I would return to several times in my journey, Centennial Presbyterian Church but I believe in the cul-de-sac there was a Lutheran and Evangelical Church a part of the fun as well.

The summer when I was 8 years old though in that one week, two things happened to me that my Grandpa Joe had not been able to accomplish. A participant forced kisses upon me until I flipped him, and it was I that got into trouble for tossing him. The rationale was that it was just a kiss.

The second was an adult volunteer groped me in the bathroom. It left me shocked, and yes I suppressed much with the memory of what happened with my Grandpa, until the soul archaeology dug it out.

The challenge though, is exposure therapy.

See, it was a church that my daughter had been attending their VBS at, and was currently volunteering with. It was where my family was members, attendees and in ministry. I just had finished being a resource for the national church on a resource for welcoming newcomers so they would come back.

No, I did not see the abuser anymore.

Yet, we had gone through our own trial over a year, as propriety Christendom beset my family[4]. This was about pew seating. Whether by accident or design there is but a few spaces in a church designed to be used for wheelchairs. My son uses one, and we had encountered snark, verbal abuse, physical in the pews, one such parishners had ground into me and I had not yet unpacked enough to understand the flashback it created. It took quite a bit to be heard for the Board to take action and get seating highlighted for those with mobility devices, and their families/caregivers.

A rather progressive-pragmatic answer finally arrived at, or in my own life, a Brother Jesus result. Unfortunately when it was finally settled, they followed the idea of messaging by putting a member face on it so folks who were disrupted by losing their “pews” would understand. Instead, the result as you know dealing with bullying, is that it painted a bulls eye on my son’s back and family for those that had not felt a need to stand up, now could vocalize what they saw as entitlement and disruption.

The first Sunday they were around, my son was sick and not in attendance. The question was not where my wife and son were, but “Oh guess you really don’t need that designated seating.”

What they failed to realize, is that persons with brain injuries and epilepsy are rather fragile. That is, that any jostle of the brain can cause unexplained death. My son had been jostled enough that his un-diagnosable vacant times had increased, he cried that his God buddy’s didn’t love him (my son, was a greeter at the church)…and he was scared that he may not come back to us.

All because adults, a minority, could not think outside themselves to the value of another made in the Image of God.

I left that Sunday, before my daughter’s week of volunteering at VBS began melancholic. Two days in the image of the almost molestation, broke through as a flashback of what happened at VBS when I was 8 years old. Now it was time to decide what and where this meant for me in ministry and my family.

 

[1] As the readers of my site: tyragan.wordpress.com and my book Soul Ripples (Bookstand, 2019) are aware that number was at 613 and growing…

[2] I refer you once more to my foundational memoir, Soul Ripples

[3] Ibid

[4] For other stories of Christendom targeting the last “acceptable” group to be prejudiced against, persons with disabilities, I direct you dear reader to Soul Ripples.


This Ol’ House

 

This Ol’ House is literally the house in the community of Rundle in Calgary, AB I came home from the hospital to as a baby. I purchased it when my folks moved full-time out to the land, Countess, AB during my Mum’s battle with breast cancer and the PTSD that came with it for her. It is the only home I have ever known in my life. I am proud to have been able to raise my own family in it.

Yet, as life progresses sometimes one needs to reassess home. It is an interesting idea of what makes a home. This humble split level had been a hub of home for many on our block, and city. Whether it was just being neighborly, aiding others as a food bank, ensuring the family tradition of any child that enters becomes family or the years that my family ran our own home church…it was a home for many.

During the ART treatment, when discussing with my therapist where my calm place was it was no contest that the calm place was the living room of this ol’ house. Calm? How is that possible, when most think of the calm place they go to it is a beach, peaceful, tranquil, forestry, yet I picked a hub that can have people in it or not and still be calm for it is a space of belonging, the living out of my beliefs.

Within this ol’ house too is the container. What is the container? That imagined mind projection of something seal-able that you can place the overwhelming memories and feelings to have a place to place them to move on with your day.

For me, it is the old, probably falling apart from the inside blue steamer trunk my Nan (Mum’s Mum) brought across from England with her when she was a war bride. It was a place to keep memories, and it was a good memory place. As you work through ART you realize it is about becoming the director of your own memories to work through them to create the tranquil feeling or positive emotions sensations so that you do not freeze or collapse. It was the story of my Nan taking a leap of faith on love to traverse the Atlantic by Steamer Ship, trusting that her husband, the love of her life, was authentic and would be in Halifax harbor for her.

That is why the container was chosen, it is the leap of faith in the treatment process to know that at the end, through love…there will be healing.

As I walk this ol’ house at night, I know it no longer functions for us. As my son grows with his accessibility needs, heck, as I age with my bad knees, the idea of a house that functions through stairs is not usable. The time is coming to close a chapter on this physical structure rapidly, yet taking the heart message of love and belonging to the new home that awaits us on the other end of healing, and new beginnings.