three things (and four stages)

First, sometimes I cannot trust myself. Losing your capacity to reason isn’t quite as bad as thinking you can still reason when it’s clearly illogical (in retrospect, of course). I need to do my best to question my logic. Logic can be its own monster. That is, fallacies and distortions can build on one another, creating what appears to be logic–but it’s far from it. Staying connected with others and communicating more with them will help me stay on top of my own distorted thinking.

That said, I think there are instances where death makes logical sense–and suffering from mental illness(es) can be one of them. However, I owe it to others and more importantly myself to exhaust all options before even considering death. I need to grind away at each day no matter how difficult life becomes.

Second, killing myself will affect so many more people than I realized. I tried my best to push people away. But I now know that no matter how much distance I put between myself and others, they can still see me–and will be greatly affected by my loss in ways I cannot even begin to imagine. I thought I could simply die unnoticed. I was wrong.

Finally, I need structure now more than ever. In The Four Stages of Spiritual Development, the author, Scott Peck, posits that there are four stages of spiritual growth (from Wikipedia)–

  1. Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.
  2. Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.
  3. Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.
  4. Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics.

I for one believe that no one person is totally in only one stage at a time–we fluctuate across many stages throughout our  lifetimes, often residing in more than one stage at a given time and between stages as well. At this point, I find myself mostly in stage one. I still carry with me pieces from the other stages, but, for the most part, I unraveled, tried to kill myself, and now am left vulnerable, disordered, and reckless.

Now, I don’t believe that organized religion is the only means of finding structure in Stage II. I’ve decided to focus more on my job, as well as to start studying for an Enrolled Agent exam so I can move up in my company and get a raise. I’d also like to spend more time writing and connecting with others through my blog. Reading, exercising, and cooking are also on the agenda.

Sorting through the pieces of what’s left from my suicide attempt is all I can do at this point, and I need to take it slow, one day at a time.

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8 responses to “three things (and four stages)

  1. Your first point is really astute; I know I feel better after talking to people, but I’ve often found difficulty articulating why. That they cut through my illogic and smokescreens and provide a clarifying voice is, indeed, quite helpful and a source of comfort I shouldn’t avoid.

    I’m, personally, skeptical of abstract progression scales; they have so many implicit valuations as to make them inherently biased. But there is definitely value to be found in them [my therapist recently referenced Erikson’s stages, and although they’re not all-encompassing, they’re an interesting tool]. I hope you’re able to find something to devote yourself [holding on to debris in order to avoid drowning in the middle of the ocean?]. And I, personally, really appreciate you sharing the journey with us.

    • To add: in order for the first point to work, you have to be at least open to the possibility of being wrong. I used to try to approach arguments as if I was wrong in order to learn something. If you’re constantly validating your own beliefs, you learn nothing. I’d like to try to return to that mindset, as I’ve lost it somewhere along the way.

      I think progression scales can be used as guides, and they definitely shouldn’t be used linearly. We move forward back, left and right. Trying to pinpoint where we are in a given moment is pointless. However, maybe seeing the bigger picture, from different perspectives, can help provide direction in times of need?

  2. Mike, I’ve never read or heard about these four stages. Thank you for sharing! Can I ask if there is a faith based ideology behind your reading and posting about spiritual issues? I find it hard, myself, to rationalize faith based concerns, issues, beliefs, etc.

    • I’ve thought a lot about your questions–and I’m confused. It’s probably an issue of semantics. In my opinion, the differences between faith and belief are subtle. I believe, at one time at least, that there are connections between us all, connections unseen. I can rationalize them to a certain degree by just looking at the world, seeing how things work, how connections are formed, how people meet, connect, unite. On the other hand, some of my beliefs are irrational. I cannot make sense of them, yet I still believe them–but that doesn’t make them truths. That said, I don’t usually use the word faith when describing my spiritual beliefs as it has negative connotations. Anyway, I’m rambling, and I really can’t believe I’m typing such things considering how badly I was doing a week ago. It’s amazing what time can do.

  3. I kind of think being more connected to people will help you feel better in general, because we need each other. They may help point out errors in thinking, or they may not, but it’s a step towards health to talk to others.

    I’m real sorry BTW about the second suicide attempt, though it does seem you got good help this time. But the fact that it was right after therapy is not a good sign for the therapy – you can’t be connecting in a helpful way to someone if you want to kill yourself right after you see them. It’s good you are looking for someone else.

    I’m personally suspicious of trying to use logic to talk oneself out of feelings, but if it works for you, excellent. Hope you keep looking for someone to help you with the feelings of despair who can really help. I’m pretty sure those feelings need to be dealt with, and trying to argue yourself out of them is not going to be a long term solution unfortunately. My two cents. Glad you seem a bit better. take care

    • Thanks! I agree that being able to reason with my feelings doesn’t work. I was commenting more on the fact about being able to catch holes in my reasoning, which can help me in the long run. Also, I didn’t really have a suicide attempt after therapy. I did OD though, but I wasn’t trying to kill myself — I just didn’t want to return to reality.

  4. decidetodecideetc

    Unlike you, I’ve now pushed away most people who have tried to help me and I don’t think my death would be too much of an inconvenience for those I can’t push away. But now is not the time, I’m just not organized enough. Plus, I’m going to the beach in August! Paying big money for an ocean front room in a nice hotel. Can’t take it (money) with you to the other side, if there is one, or the big nothing, if Stephen Hawking is right.

    • I don’t think “inconvenience” is the right word. You may not see it at this point, but there’s probably a lot more people in this world that care for you than you think, and you’re death would touch each and every one of them. Who knows what happens after all this, maybe the Egyptians were right–and maybe you can take your money with you. 🙂

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