It’s been just about two years (give or take a week or so) since a stressful situation triggered intense, terrifying flashbacks of World War 1 and completely changed the trajectory of my life, my writing, and my self-image.
Two years ago, John Harris was practically forgotten, Philip K. Dick was just some crazy writer who died before I was born, and I was trying my best to crawl out of the worst depression and anxiety I had ever experienced after being jerked around by constant negativity all around me. Friendships were crumbling, it looked like I might end up homeless, and on top of it all I was dealing with severe gender dysphoria that had reached critical mass and was about to finish the job that several years of hard living had begun.
My anamnesis, if you can call it that, was a painful transformation. I’m reminded of “The Tower” in the Tarot deck, with its imagery of a crumbling structure symbolizing the catastrophic end of something old to make way for something new. My entire being at that point in my life had been blasted away to its foundations, like the Cloth Hall at Ypres had in the spring of 1915 and it took a long time to fully appreciate the perspective I gained from my experience.
I created this blog in October 2012, only a few weeks after the first devastating flashbacks shook me to my core and while new memories were still coming at me thick and fast. Rebuilding a shattered psyche through public (if anonymous) confession became one of the best tools I had to cope with an experience that no one should have to go through. Along the way, I discovered just how deep these threads of past lives ran through the first 28 years of my current life and yet were just beyond detection, driving me to do things, go places, and express emotions that made absolutely no sense before September 2012.
Maybe it was all just an illusion, the workings of an overactive imagination trying to come to grips with the complete destruction of any and all sense of self. Or maybe the destruction of the false sense of self I’d built up as a genetic male with a woman’s brain was akin to the ego death that comes from crossing the abyss from Binah, to borrow a Kabbalic model (I’ve spoken to other transsexuals with the same outlook about their transitions). Maybe I’m bipolar or schizotypal and this was a major decompensation that was precipitated by a chain reaction of bad luck. Or maybe it just is what it seems, that I have a strange, fascinating, and at times troubling history to my soul that I needed to understand in order to grasp my true complexity as a person. Two years hasn’t been enough time to know; two lifetimes might not even be enough time to know for sure. All I have is the happier life I’ve built out of that rubble and the pages upon pages I’ve written since that first terrifying moment when I turned to my fiance with tears in my eyes and said, “I don’t think I made it back from the war.”
Two years on, I’m better for everything that’s happened.