The Concept of Identity

The false-self is a mosaic of reflections of social expectations, met and unmet, manifested and embodied like body-theiving spirits, like stereotype and research bias.

We affirm our imagination with magic wands and pixie dust, belief systems that conform to meet our social needs. Group think is psychological democracy, and I am still the minority.

This is not an argument against the validity of demographic identity.

Whomever you are, however you identify, you are valid. Your identity is valid.

This is less about identity and more about True Self, the nature of the soul.

Who am I?

“Sacred Journey” by Michael Reeder

I’ve spent my whole life shape-shifting into the ever-changing illusions and shadows of the person standing in front of me. It was once a survival skill, to shrink my truth and behave exactly as expected, to run and hide from the pyre of too-much-otherness.

I’d been fragmenting myself,  creating energetic templates, modeled after the safe standard, like prosthetic dicks and theatre masks, handy in my apron pocket. I’ve collected quite a few.

Not to mention my own projections, mistaking me for you.

But they only lasted as long as my fuse, short or long-suffered, ego death is inevitable.

The social constructs of identity: gender, race, political affiliation, class, religion, nationality, etc. They may signal silhouettes, but cannot define the soul, which live eternally outside these tiny but amusing, jack-in-the-boxes.

The problem with psychological democracy is that people are generally stupid. Most would rather follow the crowd than accept the responsibility required to lead oneself.

To think, all is Mind.

If we unravel the webs of the outdated roles we cast for ourselves and others, and recalibrate our sense of identity, what would we choose as our foundation?

To begin, the roots of our soul’s past, our ancestor’s stories, they are mythologies’ secret guides, mapped out over the night sky.

It’s true that we don’t know where we are going unless we know where we’ve been.

I remember where I’ve been.

I’d been beckoned to the dark side.

They told me I needed to see the things that happened in the shadow realm, to watch the night goblins feed.

Abuela, she insisted I bear witness.

I was disturbed, yet lucid.

The Demon, she said, “Never forget what you witnessed here.”

While the Angel, she said,

“Remember your Truth.”

It took years to realize that they gave the same advice.

To hold opposing polarities. To balance and harmonize. To walk in both worlds.

Okay, okay, I get it. I’ve seen a few monsters. You’re saying my identity is a vampire slayer? Demon killer?

You’re still thinking of identity in terms of vocation. Why are you in a rush to summarize?

It’s late. I’m exhausted.

Alright then. I’ll just say it.

If your identity is tied to a career, social construct, or role that allows others to recognize “who you are,” then your identity is subject to the expectations placed on you by that society, as you will repress the parts that do not meet those standards. Everyone does this to an extent. It’s the nature of social creatures.

But if your identity is based on the embodiment of your highest values and the acceptance of your flaws, you won’t carry the weight of social expectations. You are free to be who you are, to express your otherness, and to learn from your mistakes.

Okay. My identity is based on growth, integrity, and freedom.

Hold that in your heart.

I will.

And your flaws?

I’m working on patience, stillness, and receptivity, as I accept where I am today.

Buenas, Mijo. Now go to sleep.

My Story Revised: Part 1.

Hi, my name is Ikaika Torres….

I come from a long line of island people. My mother’s ancestors are from the Illocos region of the Philippine Islands, and my father’s family is from the Caribbean island of Boriken.

I’m proud of my biological heritage, and I do my best to honor my ancestors and learn about those island chains. However, I am 4th generation Kama’aina, born and raised on Oahu. I identify as “mixed.”

I grew up along the West Lochs of Pearl Harbor, making bottle-cap spinners and slingshots, when I wasn’t stealing kalo from the kalo patch next door.

I spent 3 days a week in church where I learned how to pray the Christian way. This was both a safe and very dangerous place.

Being Christian also meant that I couldn’t do the same things cisgender boys could. Like wear pants every day. Or play baseball. Or watch Nickelodeon.

I prayed a lot. I got good at that.

I spent my formative years terrified of the real monsters that lurked around every corner, feeling like a ghost that people could see, but not touch. I was afraid of adults, but also afraid of my peers. I rarely spoke unless spoken to. Such is the effects of early childhood trauma.

My parents had 5 kids before they turned 25. None had high school diplomas until my dad went to night school. He still brags about how they gave him a diploma instead of a GED because we was “so smart.” To be fair, my dad is a fairly intelligent man. It’s too bad he never had the opportunity to further his education.

Such are the sacrifices of parenthood.

After 40 something years of marriage, my parents are still together. There were many things they couldn’t give me, but the example of a successful marriage proved itself the most value gift they had to offer.

Unfortunately, my mom became disabled during her pregnancy with me. My family received food stamps and we always had free lunch. I remember the time we received a box of food from the thanksgiving drive.

Being poor didn’t bother me much.

No, that was a lie. Of course it did. I was ashamed of the clothes on my body. I felt unworthy of the food I ate. I dreaded the birthdays I knew would be forgotten. Yet, I earned some pearls here.

In a world ravaged by greed, and disillusioned by the power of money, the absence of it allowed us to reap the more valuable things in life, stuff that cannot be bought. Like family values, laughter, and love.

In high school, my stoney friends and I would cut class and disappear in the sugar cane fields, smoking $5 joints. I remember the stinging fiber glass, like tiny needles all over my arms and legs.

Breaking the rules brought some kind of relief, like when you’re famished but instead of getting a meal you get a slushee from 7-11.

I played sports because it felt healthy, and I wrote for the paper because my English teacher insisted.

I was a troubled teen. Switching from Masculine to Feminine every year, not knowing which was my true gender. They had their own personalities, their own perspectives, ideas, and mannerisms. I felt like two different people.

I also struggled with depression, low self-esteem, and anti-social behavior.

Did I mention my dad was addicted to meth? And both my older sisters became teen mothers?

Family life was stressful, but it felt good to be needed by the rug rats of the new generation. Perhaps they were my saving grace.

I know this sounds heavy, but bear with me. I actually survived all this shit!

At 16, I struggled with my faith. When my first love turned out to be a lesbian relationship, I had to choose between “God” and “Love?”

Hmm. Okay?

This mystery would would take another ten years to unravel.

I joined the Air Force right out of high school. I thought I’d retire at 37 and get some fancy uni degree to show the world how important I was. Instead, I had a mental breakdown while I was stationed at McChord AFB.

The Pacific Northwest has a tendency to cause downward spirals for the pathologically impaired.

At 19, I suffered my second major depressive episode and was honorably discharged from the military. They diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder. A year later, a civie doctor changed it to General Anxiety Disorder. Later it became Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder, then finally Complex PTSD.

From 19 — 31, my entire young adulthood, I was in and out of the psych wards, doped up on psychiatric medicine, seeking God in religion, drugs, achievements, whatever.

The biggest issue I had was not knowing how to safely connect to others. The more I expressed myself, the less relatable I seemed.

The smallest issue was my gender.

The Feminine wanted drugs and dangerous sex, ultimately to self-destruct, while the Masculine was inclined toward education and spirituality. She carried the burdens of rage, pain, grief, and torment. While the Masculine was free of this, he could (kinda) think clearly.

I remember the day I was in Vipassana meditation, around Day 7 of silence and celibacy. The Feminine was listening as the Masculine broke down, saying things I had never heard before. He revealed information that was completely new to my conscious mind.

“I wish I was born a man. If I was born a man, things would be different. People would see who I am.”

If I had ever denied feeling this way, it couldn’t be denied anymore.

The Feminine’s heart was moved by his grief, and she felt gratitude for his sacrifices. For the way he gave his entire being to protect her, how he suffered so much in her body without complaining (until that moment), and without so much as a thank you.

The Feminine grew from a little girl to a teen on that day. She chose to end a bitter 30-year war with the Masculine. She decided to trust him.

The Feminine then gave her heart and body over to me, that I may create a temple that serves the both of us.

Thus, I am transgender. I am Two Spirit (Taino). I am Kama’aina Mahu Kane.

In this Masculine body, she feels safe. The Feminine is more present and expressive than she’s ever been before.

I want to write more but it seems my time is limited tonight.

Shall I continue?

I guess we will see….

The JOKER: How to Collapse the Wave Function

This image belongs to DC.

When the fear of death subsided, the tension in my body melted.

The multiverse spun around me, as if I was in the center of some cosmic clock.

I saw pieces of me in parallel worlds.

The Joker’s disfigured face twisted into a scarred smile.

His pain was potential violence at rest, a merciless volcano awaiting release.

A rot wilier howled with great fear.

The old ladies didn’t know what to do.

The Archetype lived in a parallel world, yet also in here, my fragmented spirits.

If I am to become the most optimal version of myself, the superposition must collapse.

To collapse the wave function, the shadows must be reintegrated.

As within, so without.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

I touched the Joker’s disfigured face. Only I could see the depth of his pain.

“I know why you take innocent life,” I said. “I understand you.”

Lava erupted from his white eyes, kinetic violence in action, but he could not touch me.

For I was an invisible spirit, his higher self.

Then he collapsed on the floor, his body contorting. He was foaming at the mouth.

He telepathed images of the darkside, disturbing hence silent.

As he writhed in my arms, choking on his own tongue.

“I know, Brother.” I said. “I know.

“Thank you for holding my pain, you beautiful soul.

“It’s time to come home.”

Then the blinding white light came from all around.

As Angels appeared to harmonize his song.

The demons fled his body as it dissolved into white ash.

Oh, and the ladies called the police.

No, the ambulance.

The howling turned to whining as I whispered, “it’s okay to die.”

And in a moment it was done.

The ashes gone, a new body appeared.

It was mine.

The world will celebrate the Joker’s death.

Who am I

becoming?

The Night My Shadow Came Home

Photo credit: Umberto Shaw

I remember how he used to visit me everynight, holding me in the dark, a cold pistol to my temple.

The rage and pain rocked me like a crack baby, while I spat prayers of peace and silence between the waves of grief and coughing snot.

I’d come to depend on the pain he brought me. I appreciated his loyalty.

How long had I been trapped in that prison?

Between my thoughts, in every silent moment, where the mystics sought Nirvana, I found only Hell.

Of course, I left this world. I escaped this body. Why remain in this tortured state when psychosis is free medicine? And oh, the realms I’ve explored.

But that’s another story.

During the day, I felt the shadow stalking behind, whispering of failure and worthlessness. His pistol to my head, threatening my life with his hatred. After so many decades, I’d come to believe his lies.

I remember the moments he stole, like the time my parents remembered my birthday, and as everyone sang Happy Birthday to me, he whispered of disgust and shame.

Or when I almost had a good time at that party with some people I didn’t know, he took hold of me in front of everyone, called me a worthless slut.

From then on I was the “psycho worthless slut.”

And despite how much he couldn’t stand me, he came, night after night, with the barrel of his pistol to my head.

Why not pull the trigger already?

Then something changed. Over the course of 20 years, or so.

I was sitting up in bed, listening to the silence between my thoughts and realized that I was not in Hell. I remembered from whence I came.

As every person I ever hurt, and all of whom have hurt me, came before me carrying a black box. I opened my heart and offered them Love.

One by one, I retrieved my soul and reclaimed by peace, turning enemies into relations. Until he came forward.

His face hidden behind his pistol, his heart behind the words, “I hate you.”

His arm, grotesque with muscle, bulged out of his torn shirt.

While the skinny left arm hung useless, an impotent worm.

I stood, an epiphany opening like a rose bud on a frosty morning, and went to him.

“I remember you, Brother. I know why you hold your weapon out like so. I know why you’re here. Do you remember?”

He shoved his gun in my face, pressing the cold barrel to my head. “To kill you. I hate you.”

The stench of rotting corpses spewed from his mouth, the sewage of his heart.

In the past, I believed him. But now…

I nodded. “Yes. Should I have taken a dark path, should I have been a danger to the people I love, should I have failed at my mission, it was your job to kill me, to spare my soul the burdens of evil. It was me who gave you this task.”

His scowled face melted in understanding, while his tears fell down my cheeks. I reached out to take the weapon from him, but changed my mind.

“You did your job well, Shadow. My soul belongs to me and my body is safe, thanks to your vigilance. I have a new job for you now. Keep the weapon concealed.”

Shadow lowered his arm, and I saw his face for the first time. He was just a boy in need of a bath. “I did good?”

I nodded, “You did good.”

He smirked. “I can eat? I can sleep now?”

“Of course.”

So the Shadow took refuge in the center of my heart, while the others watched and began to ask, “What about me? I can eat now? I can sleep?”

On Purpose, Forgiveness, and Sagittarius’ Lofty Aim

Image credit: Siah St. Clair

I am learning to represent myself in truth. Over the past four years, I’ve peeled off multiple layers of armor and dismantled systems of chameleon-like shapeshifting. These methods of survival allowed me to maintain a certain level of sanity, but stripped me of dignity and relatability. CPTSD lends itself to a hard knock life.

Today, I feel these old ways of being falling away at my feet, like autumn leaves. Like a snake, having molted all winter, it is through fiery movement that I feel the old skin peeling back, defining itself as “not me anymore”, while I find fresh new skin, an opportunity to show the world who I really am.

I sift through old motivations based on root wounds, like wanting to be accepted and celebrated by folks who just can’t wrap their mind around my otherness, folks who might confuse my God-given gifts with sickness. Today I seek the compassion in my heart to forgive the ones who may never realize their error. I call upon my soul to forgive for the sake of my own peace, that my intentions and motivations are purified.

What are the more pure motivations of my heart, and can they ever be executed in a way that represents who I am? Must I continue to study the dominant culture in order to tailor my words for the sake of understanding? Must I build bridges for those who refuse to cross them?

If not, if my sole purpose is simply to be who I am without apology, without explanation, without fear of banishment or punishment, what would that even look like?

I have been blessed with a beautiful spouse who is learning, like me, to make space for the parts of us that have never been seen or loved. In these spaces, I find myself unlearning the ways of the world and wanting a much simpler life.

I see a child in the jungle, singing to the trees and the creatures like in a 90s Disney animation, and I thank God that my prayers of fame and fortune were not manifested. I see celebrities with very little freedom, not even able to maintain relationships without having to account for false pretenses, gold-digging, and fake friends. I feel sorry for them.

I’ve entertained so many dreams, many of these truly grand, and I admit that in the past I’ve held grandiose sentiments about myself and what any human would realistically be able to accomplish in one life. Now that I see myself more clearly, and I find a tangible path to the life of my dreams, right here at my feet, I still channel great visions of creative projects, social service, and world healing. Why?

Steve Jobs said that, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

But what of such ambition?

I know that many of my friends and family have given up on me. I’ve made peace with that. I know that a lot of the people I care about don’t reciprocate my tenderness or desire to connect. I’ve been asked to understand who they are, why they are, and to accept that their state of mind is not about me. I’ve also come to make peace with the fact that I’ve been toxic. No, I mean, really toxic. People do what they have to do for self-preservation, and I am at peace with that.

I’ve come to accept that of the 4k Facebook friends I once had, only a handful are truly down for me, and it’s the same friends who were there when I had nothing to offer but drunken promises of friendship and love.

It’s a sober moment to realize that all I’ve spent my entire life chasing the wrong thing, trying to earn love where it didn’t exist, trying too hard to make friends, compromising too much of my truth, and for what? Nothing.

I’ll take the grey hairs and crows feet. I’ve earned them.

Now I ask Creator. What will you do with the rest of my life? Am I to live the simple life, a humble yet joyful retirement, or would you send me to the front lines for future generations? Would you have me place my hands upon the Earth for healing? Do you want me to share everything I’ve learned along this path? Now that I don’t care for Hollywood ties, would you sell the stories that have haunted me all these years?

Does the caterpillar know it’s a butterfly? When the metamorphosis takes place, does the butterfly wonder how it will fly? Does it anticipate flight and does it fear a fall? Does it dream about flying? Or does it simply allow death? Completely let go?

This is where I am, my friends. I’m stepping into a new world, a seemingly foreign universe. Deep down, I feel I’m coming home.

In this world, forgiveness and grace starts in my heart. Humbleness is wisdom and happiness is success. The fruits of our good green Earth is abundance, and I already have everything I need.

To those reading, I may not know who you are, but I pray for your health, your happiness, and a deep, everlasting peace.

Bless up,

Kaika ❤

Poem: The Scapegoat’s Heart Along

The River Lethe

image credit: Irma Hudson

The winds fill my sail and

whisper to

my heart.

“Onward, warrior.

Down the River Lethe where your

reflection kept secret

ambitions to wear

the scapegoat’s

scars like stripes upon back or

wrists for the blood

curse they drink in

your honor.

No

You’re not allowed to pray.

Because their god is not

listening.

Not to you, at least.”

As if my Father would turn his eyes from me.

As if my Mother would not love me.

As if all of Heaven would not

smile upon my journey

through this Earth

Temple

while I accept

All That Is.

“Their shadows look

better

on a old-fashioned model.

A Jonah

A Joan

A Jesus

A Satanist

This has happened before.

It will happen

again.”

As the fallen

tree floats

and forks with

every thought

an Angel reaches into

their black bag as I

watch.

My youth scatters like

ash to the dark

waters of unconscious

fear.

While the Tower

of martyrdom

rumbles like Jericho

under my feet.

Mama awakens

within me

“Lion rise,”

with my

six swords aboard

this hopeful vessel

in this here

Underworld.

“Onward, sailor.

Gather your Soul

pearl and tinsel

toward deeper seas.

Reject the curses of

rotten roots

and seek sacred

soil

where the trees and the

stones

sing your song

back to you.

Where the lines

disappear and

you never have to explain

who you are.

Onward, child of the Most High.

You will sail to the

place where Heaven

is on Earth

because your heart says

it is so.

Your family

will know you.

You will speak with your

heart and they will

know you

by your

Love.”

And

in a moment

the Angel is gone.

The black waters

splash against the barge

and a chill echoes

my heart.

–Kaika ❤

Just Another Midnight Soul Retrieval

I left my soul down on the bottom rung of the social ladder, burned in wood, a troll’s toll.

The desert mirage no longer glitters like gold.

The palace is but a haunted mansion of putrescent corpses and tormented souls.

How long have I journeyed down this dark path?

All this upward motion led to downward spirals for backward people running from their own shadows.

The premise of our religion is the reason for proposed extinction. Is there not a human alive who doesn’t believe we don’t all deserve to die?

And every rung thereafter reaffirmed self-loathing for the delusion of perfection, for false security, for the American nightmare.

Even as I rejected promises of fame and fortune, for the price of my soul, I chose to climb.

“Little child, striving for the top bunk, you were never an angel, and that’s okay.”

To hell with the ladder. This false ascension has exhausted me.

Dismantle the mechanisms that would motivate me toward that zombie wasteland.

Allow the pain body to step into the light and, dammit, find the strength to look it in the eye.

And breathe….

Keep breathing….

“Little child, don’t you know that love cannot be earned?

You’ve lost your religion, but you still bear the scars on your hands from when they nailed you to the cross.

If they don’t love you now, they will never truly love you, and that’s okay.

It’s okay even when it’s not.”

I found my soul where I left it, on my bedroom floor, where there was

once a wooden ladder.

In the 2nd grade, the night I considered

the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

I don’t “want to be,” I am.

I am.

This is good

enough for me.

–Kaika ❤

Masculine Power, Dancing Polarities, and Jedi Temple Ghosts

This image belongs to Disney. (duh)

I’m beginning to wield masculine power in healthy ways. I’m learning to be patient when I’m angry, confident when I’m afraid.

Easy to fake, not easy to become.

A father to my inner daughter. A brother to my wife.

The light may flood the shifting dark, the darkness fall upon light.

An expansive Love, the edge of my blade, a fierce Rage, its other.

The trick is to stay balanced.

The secret is to dance.

Beware.

The uninitiated find themselves on deadly tightropes.

The shadow lingers like chamber smoke, inhaling poison and filling the spirit with darkness.

Don’t rush to the dark side upon childish passions.

Take the time to train the mind, to expand the heart, and learn to see both good and bad in everyone.

Along the Middle Path, the Grey Padawan is filled with purpose.

The Resurrection of Spring <3

Photo Credit: PDX Monthly

The mind melts with tea and honey, reorganized like the sentience of my vacuum cleaner.

The world shifts like moving pictures, forking paths around the garden.

I’ve never been here before.

I used to have a relationship with the public, but that’s all changed. I pulled away because I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I used it to cope and abused it as a medicine. I took power from the people who looked up to me.

I realized that the purpose of spiritual ego was to hide behind a mask, to hide the fact that I felt powerless in a dangerous world. I went looking for my power, the kind that comes from within.

From above to below, in all directions. I’ve only just begun my journey.

I’m sorry for the person I’ve been.

First I went to outer/inner space to find the parts of me I left behind when I allowed myself to become what I came.

I set foot on the Earth for the first time in thirty years, and I was filled with rage at what I saw.

I bore witness to the atrocities committed by the ruling class and I got lost in what I thought of as my personal rebellion. My inner revolution.

I saw darkness and light. I bathed in Fire and Water. I went to the Queen and the King and claimed my inheritance.

Now, I am a child again, learning the difference between milk and glue.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m back. I’m going to share my spiritual journey here. I will be graceful with you, World, and I pray you are graceful with me.

Back in the MySpace days, I called myself “Your Local Christian Heretic.” Well, I’m not a Christian anymore, but I’m sure as hell still a heretic. I’m thinking “Earth Temple Witch.”

Yeah, I’m a Mama’s boy.

Come back if you can.

Aloha ❤

Kaika (ky-kuh)

he / they

Poem: Awake at 4 AM

I am awake at 4 am despite exhaustion in my bones. The mattress springs have rusted from the tears I cannot cry.

I am awake at 4 am because my body craves a poem, a witness to the mourning in my soul. A quiet death, invisible butterfly.

I am awake at 4 am as white supremacy digs its nine-inch heels into my flesh, insisting its innocence while demanding absolution.

I am awakened by the sight of the seemingly endless distance between shades of skin and the realities we live in, miles I cannot close on my own.

When cognitive dissonance tastes like wine, drunk, we await our savior while entertaining fantasies of Utopia and vomit our medicine.

Not me. I am alone on this bridge. I built it, but they didn’t come. Somewhere a child understands they are not anymore.

I am awake at 5:30.

I am awake at 6 am.

I am awake, here gather all my strength.

The Lion roars at dawn.

Portland at Sunrise. Photo credit: Ritza Garzia