The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry

Posted: 11 August 2018
Updated: 12 August 2018

Note to self—from six years ago

Today, I found a document I wrote six years ago. In the document, I was evaluating my situation and options, which is something I often do, especially when I am at a crisis point. I am surprised that what I wrote nearly six years ago to the day is essentially the same as what I wrote a few days ago.

Six years ago, I was living in the United States, and today, I live in Mexico. Many people believe that if I go to the United States that my problems will be magically solved. As you can see from the document below, I had the same problems in the US and everything is more expensive there.

The title of the document, “$183, options”, means that I had $183 on that day, 15 August 2012. Today is 11 August 2018, and again I can’t afford to have all of the following: medicine, food, safety, security, and shelter.

$183, options

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
8:04 PM

Option 1


Option 2

  1. I need to feel that I am not going to hurt anyone else anymore while I am trying to recover
  2. I need to feel that it is possible that I will hurt less than I hurt now
  3. I need to be safe and secure (safe = the present; secure = near future)
  4. Feeling safe includes
    1. Not having to prove myself
    2. Not having to worry that I am disappointing someone
    3. Not having to worry about unsolicited advice
  5. I need some time to feel safe and secure
  6. Safe includes
    1. Shelter
    2. Modest food
    3. Toilet
    4. Bathing
    5. Laundry
    6. Internet
    7. Medication
  7. After I am/feel safe/secure, I need to heal, repair, rebuild, and grow

Differences between 2012 and 2018

Item #1 reflected my confusion about my actions and the way people attacked me. I was attacked, criticized, and blamed for everything happening in my life, but the criticisms were contradictory and irrational. I was listening to all of the criticism and trying to understand what I had done wrong so I could change. I was deeply afraid of unintentionally doing something wrong again, and that my wrong action would hurt other people. I was so afraid of it that it is the first item on my list: ahead of my personal safety. Today, I have a better understanding of my mistakes. I still consider how my actions will affect other people (usually, my consideration is to my detriment), but I am not constantly afraid of unintentionally hurting other people.

Item #2 is about hope. At the time, I thought it was necessary for me to feel hope. In the last six years, I have rarely felt hope, so I now know that hope is not necessary for survival.

Items #3 to #5 mean that I need actual safety and security, and I need to believe I am safe and secure before I can stop spending energy on protecting myself and use that energy for other things.

The sub-points in item #4 need explanations to understand. The first sub-point means, “Not having to prove myself worthy of help in order to receive help.” This is still a problem, but I am less stressed by this fact. Many people have said they are happy I am suffering, and many other people have said they will not help me because I am not making the choices they believe I should make. Some people do not help me because of my status. I am male, white, a US citizen, and educated, and some people believe I do not deserve help because of one or more of those statuses. Furthermore, multiple Christians have told me—even to my face—that they will not help me because I am not Christian.

The second sub-point is related to proving myself to be worthy and related to my fear of unintentionally hurting people. I knew that if I disappointed someone who was helping me, I risked losing their support. That risk was real, it is still real, and it happened at least once—coincidentally, it happened one year ago this month. Similar to #1, I was worried about unintentionally disappointing people because I was extremely worried I would lose more relationships. I had lost all of my colleagues from the legal profession (yes, all), 95% of my friends, and all my family except my sister. My feelings have changed. I have now lost most of the relationships I still had six years ago, including my sister. Janis Joplin sang, Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. I have less to lose, so I worry less about this. The most important change, however, has been internal. I soon became disappointed in myself, and that overshadowed other people’s disappointment in me. Today, I rarely think about my disappointment in myself because I feel non-stop shame and constant humiliation.

The third sub-point, “Not having to worry about unsolicited advice,” is one way that people express their disappointment in me or express that I have not proven myself worthy to them, which are the first two sub-points. The problem is not really unsolicited advice: the problem is advice that is clearly useless or a veiled attack on me. Much advice is actually a way of politely blaming me for my problems. “You should ask a church for help,” for example, is common advice I receive. Giving me this advice assumes that I have not already done that. (But I have asked multiple times.) Sometimes, I have told people that I already tried that. They all responded that I must have asked the wrong church. They are saying that I currently have problems because I failed to ask the right church for help: my poverty is my fault and my illnesses are my fault. I have learned to handle these situations with more grace, and I continue to improve how these situations affect me.

One of the best examples of the bad advice problem happened to me six weeks ago. I had slept the night before in a gazebo in a park. I had all of my equipment with me, and I was still sitting on my sleeping bag. My arm was broken and in a bright orange split. A woman stopped and asked me if I needed help. She spoke English, so we were able to have a more sophisticated conversation than I can have in Spanish. Over the years, I have learned something strange: if a person asks if I need help, they rarely help me. The people who usually help me hand me food, do something nice without asking, or ask concrete questions, such as, “Would you like a hot dog?” So when she asked if I needed help, I initially gave short answers so I wouldn’t waste time and emotional energy. But she began to offer help in concrete terms, so it seemed that she would be the exception to the rule. We spoke about the problems in my life for one hour, which is painful for me, but the pain is worth it if it leads to something beneficial. She decided to help me. She told me that psilocybin had helped her to heal. The first few times she took it, however, it didn’t help her. A few years later, she tried it again and it healed her. The difference, she said, was that the first time she took psilocybin, she didn’t believe in God. The second time, because she believed in God, the medicine worked. I didn’t ask her if ibuprofen doesn’t work in India, China, and Japan where most people are not Christian. She “helped” me by lecturing me for 20 minutes about my failure to believe in her God. Again, this lecture blames me and my conscious choices for my problems. But we now know for certain that the psilocybin didn’t help me because I have 5HT2A receptor dysfunction. She might as well blame diabetics for their insulin dysfunction due to their insufficient belief in God.

I am writing this post in a park because I don’t have enough money for shelter. A few moments ago, as I was writing the above paragraph about the woman who told me that my problems were the result of my lack of belief in her God, an Irish woman started talking to me. The topics were mundane: where we are from, how long we have been in Mexico, our favorite parts of Mexico. I hate constantly talking about why I am in Mexico and how I survive, so I tried very hard to avoid answers that signaled my poverty and desperation. I guess I was unsuccessful. Suddenly, she told me, “all things are possible through Jesus Christ.” Without any encouragement from me, she spent 15 minutes talking about Jesus dying for our sins and the story of how her husband was saved. She said, “My husband realized that he couldn’t change himself: only God could change him.” The experience was surreal. She happened to interrupt my writing at the exact moment I was writing about another woman telling me that only God can fix my 5HT2A receptor dysfunction. And the Irish woman was telling me that humans do not have agency: we cannot change ourselves, only God can change us. (Yes, she did speak in absolute terms: only God can change us.) Both ideas are absurd and unhelpful.

Because of the serendipity of this useless advice, I will make a tangent and include a comment about my father, Dan Hogan. He is again claiming that he will help me if I allow him to choose where I live, who will treat my illnesses, and what treatments they will use. He promised to help me in the past if I met his conditions, but when I met his conditions, he broke his promise, so I would be a fool to trust him. But his current conditions would harm me if I agreed to them. I have two neurological medical problems: 5HT2A receptor dysfunction and low dopamine activation. My father, Dan Hogan, will only help me if I pet horses. I wish I were joking. He has the delusional belief that horses will cure two neurological disorders.

Item #6 is remarkably similar to how I currently define my minimum needs: food, medicine, and shelter. On the other hand, I have had to learn how to live without regular access to bathing, laundry, or a real toilet.

Item #7 is substantively unchanged, but I express it with slightly different words now.

The problem is not that after six years, I am still in the same place. The problem is that after six years, my primary problems have worsened, my resources have dramatically decreased, my support has lessened, my general health has worsened, my physical strength is a fraction of what it once was, and my emotional resilience is almost gone. While it seems that many things have not changed in the last six years, the truth is that some of my obstacles have the same name but the magnitude of those obstacles is much worse.

Three days ago, I posted a one-month plan and budget. I set up a PayPal “Money Pool” that closes 13 August 2018. (Other options available here.) As of this writing, I don’t have enough money to buy medicine and food and shelter (safety and security) and to repair my clothes. Therefore, as I have done for most of the last six years, I will have to decide whether to sacrifice food or medicine or safety.

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