Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One More Onion Layer Peeled

  I was meditating this morning and I was informed that I've been looking at things backwards.  Usually,  I ask those around me to have patience with me because I am broken.  What has come to me is that everyone is broken in some way and that I am quite impatient with other people.  This lesson has been a long time in coming.  I've been informed that I am finally ready to take this on in my life.  For years now, I've half-heartedly noticed that I get really frustrated with traffic while I'm driving.  I've told myself that I'd like to not be so angry when I drive, but it's never gone any further than that.
  This morning, I was told that this particular thread in the weaving is connected to a much larger picture.  Those of you who know me either personally or through my blog posts, know that I feel myself to be innocent while the rest of the world is full of bad people.  The key to the difference in when I make a bad choice and when someone else does is that I feel as if I accidentally chose poorly while I believe that other people deliberately do "bad" things.  Ever since I was a child, I've always unconsciously categorized people as superior or inferior to me.  Those whom I deemed superior, I would seek out some way in which I could feel superior to them.  This conveniently came in the guise of blame.  I would view them as being mean by choice and convince myself that I am better than they are because I would never do anything "bad" deliberately.
  Most people, non-mean people specifically, were much easier to feel superior to with whatever perceived flaws I could subconsciously take note of.  I've always had a "special place in my heart" for the handicapped, whether mentally or physically.  This may merely be due to the ease of superiority in being around them.  It's easy to stroke my ego by doing something "nice" for someone who would have difficulty doing it for themselves.  It was never a huge sacrifice on my part, just some small effort with a much larger "reward" (ego stroke).
  For me, feeling superior to mean people wasn't good enough.  I had to subconsciously in some way. I'd always some way to screw something up which would affect a "mean" person in some negative way.  I have recently started to take up the mantra that "I am not inferior or superior to anyone.  We are all equal."  This has been helpful mentally, but in my actions, I've not changed a thing.  I was recently asked, "Do you have trouble looking at the ugly parts of yourself?"  When I replied that I did not, the question then came, "What concrete actions have you taken to prove this?"
  The honest answer to that question is that it is only in my mind that I have no problem examining my ugliness.  This is the same with many things I say I believe in.  It is only in my mind because my actions don't reflect my words.  Take all these blog entries for instance.  Every one of them that raises a revelation I've had about myself, ends with some way out of my ugliness.  With all this "wisdom" I seem to spout, why am I still so hurtful to people?  I don't actually live by my words.  That is the very definition of hypocrisy.
  Now, let's get back to my frustration while driving.  I view everyone out there as deliberately sabotaging my smooth ride.  Everything that isn't conducive to me getting from point A to point B in the quickest, easiest manner is seen as an infuriating act of hatred against me.  I therefore feel justified in being hateful and angry in return to these people.  Of course, in being a coward, I never actually do anything.  It's all just yelling, cursing and seething.  To make matters worse, any flaws in my driving are viewed as accidental, thereby exonerating me of any guilt.  This further corroborates my superiority.
  Here is how this relates to my problem with "mean" people.  I never confront any affronts to my person.  If someone behaves disrespectfully to me, I merely shut them out of my life or find some subconscious, passive-aggressive way to get back at them.  If I keep in mind that I am no better or worse than anybody and that we're all trying our best, I won't feel the need to hurt anyone.  Also, if someone does hurt me, I should let them know exactly how they hurt me.  If they care about me, they can then choose to rectify the hurt.  If I don't confront them, they might never know how they hurt me and will just wonder why I'm either ignoring them or subconsciously hurting them.
  The ones closest to me are the ones I have the most trouble with confronting.  I must first feel that I am their equal, then as an equal, share with them my concerns.  If I view them as inferior to me, I will not see them as caring to or being capable of helping the situation.  If I view them as superior to me, I will subconsciously believe that they deliberately hurt me, and why would someone who did something on purpose try to rectify?  People left and right are losing my trust and respect without them or me even knowing it.  If I don't know I don't respect or trust someone, of course I'll do things to them disrespectfully without knowing it.
  Self-love is the key to undoing this horrible mess I'm in.  These patterns started when I was a child, in reaction to treatment from bullies and my parents.  If I had loved myself enough to stand up for myself back then, I wouldn't have developed these coping mechanisms which are hopelessly outdated in my life right now.  Even back then, they were not the healthy way of dealing with the pain.  I never actually allowed myself to feel the pain.  This sort of lifestyle might very well lead to me being completely alone because I don't know how to interact with people in meaningful ways.  I'll certainly be left with nothing but myself and my pain.  Perhaps I'll feel it then.  I should visualize what that would feel like so that I can put a fire under my butt to figure out a way out of my problems without losing everyone who is important to me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Moments of Weakness

  I seem to post a lot about emotional and mental problems that I think I have.  I'm coming to a new place in my life where I no longer believe in them.  I think that a lot of what I think is wrong with me are just excuses I use to allow myself moments of weakness without accountability or responsibility. I realize that that line of reasoning keeps me as a victim.  I now believe that there are no such things as moments of weakness.  All there are, are times when you are giving your strength to the wrong things.  You are always strong, it's just a matter of if you're consciously choosing where you're placing your strength.
  I see that there are plenty of times when I feel weak, but that's because I'm giving my energy to believing that I am weak.  In that state of mind, I am actually being quite strong in forcing myself to act in ways that are completely against my nature.  We are all naturally free, fearless, joyful and seeing the world with wonder.  When we are children, a drop of water on a window can be endlessly fascinating and magical.  We enjoy watching particles of dust illuminated by sunbeams.
  One thing I always have to ask myself is, "what am I putting my strength into right now?"  If I don't know, that's scary.  I could be carrying out someone else's agenda.  Or worse, I could be acting out of some subconscious attitude.  I have grown up hating myself because of some childhood trauma.  I often act out of an unwitting self-hatred.  Of course, anything I do will sabotage the good thing that I think I am trying to do.
  I often tell myself that there is a part of me that hates me and a part of me that wants to do good things and a part of me that is hurt and a part of me that is stupid.  The truth is that they are all just me in my entirety.  There are no parts of me, just things I have chosen in my past to be oblivious to because it hurt too much to think about them.  I might have used to try to think about different ways to do things.  Then, some authority figure came along and told me that I only had one option as to how to do something.  I soon gave up even trying to think at all and bowed to authority.  I no longer gave myself the respect of thinking because it hurt too much to have my freedom to act on my own ideas taken away from me.  I chose to take it away from myself because that hurt less.  It put the control squarely in my own hands.  If I'm the one taking away my freedom, how can someone else come along and take it?  The only problem was that I wasn't in control of giving myself back any of the things I took away from myself.  What this shows me is that I wasn't in control at all.  I was merely reacting to someone else instead of creating anything for myself.  Only a creator has the power to give and to take away.  I only pretended to have that power because it made me feel better about myself to believe that I had it.
  I can actually pinpoint the moment I gave my power away.  I was about four years old.  I always observed my little sister being defiant against my parents and crying.  She would always got into trouble and seemed miserable.  I decided not to make those same mistakes.  I made two conscious choices: Listen to what mom and day say and do it and crying is a bad thing.  If I look back on it now, what I was really saying was: Bow to authority and never express your true feelings.  My freedom, joy and self-awareness disappeared from that moment on and I've not recovered them yet.
  I was just looking around at my family, my home and my stuff and I realized that I live in constant fear of losing it all.  That is why I don't feel a closeness with any of it.  I don't want to risk becoming too attached to anything or anyone for fear of the pain of losing them.  Therefore, I feel nothing, love nothing, care about nothing and am quite miserable despite all the reason in the world I have to feel otherwise.  Ironically, that is why I stand to lose everything.  You can't keep what you do not take care of.  I don't even take care of myself, but somehow I'm still stuck with me.  I've lost so many friends, family relationships and things because I fear pain.  Now pain is all I would have except for the fact that I have blinded myself to this very truth about my fearful nature.  It feels better to think that I have lost these things because everyone out there is mean or hurtful or stupid, etc.  I have no identity because I relate with nothing, no one and nowhere.  There is nowhere I belong, nothing I truly have that matters to me and nobody that I know well enough to make smile.  That is a tragedy.
  I was thinking the other day about some of my past friendships and what went wrong with them.  I realized that I had a more active role in my friendships going sour than I had previously thought.  What this shows me is that my friends were not as hurtful as I thought.  I now see that it was more safe for me to think of them as hurtful people.  This removed any accountability on my part.  I painted a picture in my mind of me as an innocent victim of every relationship I've ever had.  I had to take a good hard look at myself and see that I have not been as innocent as I have always thought.
   This is the mask that I made for myself.  It is a shiny, pretty mask, but it hides a sinister truth.  It hides the fact that I'd rather make everyone else the problem so that I don't have to face my own ugliness.  If I care enough to remove the mask, I will see my ugliness, but it will at least be my true face.  As ugly as it may be, it is the only truly beautiful part of me.  It is me.  The mask is what is ugly.  Anything that hides a living, breathing being with a heartbeat is ugly.  No one deserves to be hidden.  Everyone deserves to be seen and known and celebrated.
  One last thing that I've been thinking about is the fact that my family is not as bad as I thought they were.  Similar to my friends, I needed to vilify them in order to keep myself from having to face my own ugliness.  Yes, they have their flaws.  Everyone has flaws.  That is what makes them beautiful because that is what makes them different.  If we were all the same, how boring would that be?  I'm getting to a place in my life where I can actually recall some good times that I had with my family, with the church, with the Navy, etc.  If I can forgive the ugliness of the people around me and appreciate their goodness, maybe I can finally do that for myself as well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dissociative Amnesia

  I know that I periodically write a blog post about some new condition that I've read about which seems to perfectly describe me.  I've talked about ADD, depression, anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, Klinefelter's Syndrome, Dissociative Identity Disorder and PTSD.  I'm just always trying to find new ways to attack my problems.
  The other day, a friend of mine who is going to college to study psychology had an article about Dissociative Amnesia.  I was in tears by the end of the article.  It described me very well.  I'll provide for you a link to an article about the disorder, but I don't have the actual article that I read handy.
  I emailed the author of the original article because I read that more research needs to be done on male subjects presenting with symptoms.  I briefly described myself to her.  This morning, she emailed me back saying that she just completed a study, but will be conducting another one soon and will definitely contact me when she is ready to start that up.  I believe that participating in this study can be mutually beneficial to us.
  I hope that I can finally get to the bottom of what's been ailing me all these years.  Through all my blog postings, you, my readers have been on a journey with me as I've sought to overcome my past.  This may be the key I've been looking for all my life.  By the way, out of all the above-mentioned afflictions, I've successfully been able to eliminate Klinefelter's Syndrome because the VA tested my testosterone levels and they are well within suitable parameters for a healthy male.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Feelings and Emotions

  I've been thinking about the difference between feelings and emotions.  Let me start by pointing out the various elements which make up a person: heart, soul, mind and body.  I was realizing earlier that I have always thought myself to be like the Giving Tree.  That was my mind.  Deeper inside me, I've always felt like a tree stump, incapable of giving anything to anyone.  That was my heart.  Even deeper than that, I've always known myself to be a completely healthy tree full of fruit.  That is my soul.  Unfortunately, my body is left to try to live out what I think about myself, while actually living out what I believe about myself.
  I am coming to a place where I understand that emotions actually come from the mind.  They are quick to come and quick to go.  They come because of a passing desire that has not been met or a thought that has been countered.  Things such as affection, romance and infatuation come from the mind and are only passing emotions.  You do not choose to be infatuated or to feel romantic.  Those emotions come about because of something that you think you would like to have.  It all stems from the mind.
  The heart is where feelings come from.  Feelings arise from life choices you have made.  You choose how you will feel about something based on whether or not it fits in with preferences you have.  Your preferences come from the examination of experiences you have had.  These choices that you make are from a larger picture than specific situations might show the mind.  Let me illustrate with the example of a child crying because he didn't get the bicycle that he wanted for his birthday.  If it was just a passing desire that was unfulfilled, the tears will come and go easily.
  Now, let's look at this same scenario from a different perspective.  Let's say that this boy has been running a paper route all year.  He has a hand-me-down bike from his older brother, which is not in good condition.  He'd like to have a better functioning bicycle to get around with.  All year he has saved the money he made from his paper route, but can't easily go to the store to buy a new bike.  He has given the money to his parents to buy it for him.  Now, imagine that they bought him a new leather jacket instead because winter is coming and they think he should have something warm to wear.  His reasons for crying in this situation might be completely different.
  If he can examine this experience and recognize the larger issues at hand here, he might recognize the unfairness of his parent's choice.  He might see the broken trust as well as the neglect of his parents.  If they thought he needed something warm to wear, why wouldn't they buy it for him with their own money?  Are they not caregivers of his?  He might also see the disrespect in that they didn't ask him first if he might not rather have a jacket than a bicycle.  He is now in a position to make life choices bases on his experience.  He might choose never to be unfair, untrustworthy, neglectful or disrespectful.  This way, he will never hurt someone in the ways that he has been hurt.
   Years down the line, if for example, his wife cheats on him, he will have these preferences in his heart and will understand the broken trust issue that has come into his life again.  He will have a deep feeling about the situation and not just a passing emotion of sadness due to an unfulfilled desire.
  When I was growing up, I chose to shut off, not only my feelings, but my emotions as well.  I made a home within my mind.  I didn't want to have to experience the pain of what my parents inflicted on me.  Unfortunately, this caused me to miss out on being able to fully experience anything I went through.  In not feeling it, I never examined the roots of my problems.  I never internalized the larger issues involved.  Fairness, respect, love, compassion and other virtues were never instilled into me because I never felt the loss of them so I never fought for them.
  All of life was reduced to a million little passing desires that went unfulfilled and the passing emotions that came and went as a result.  That is why today, a million little things go wrong in my life and I never know how to prevent them or even see them coming.  If I understood even just one of those virtues, I could keep myself from acting in ways that would not be upholding virtuosity.  Often I lament that it would take a tremendous mental capacity to keep in mind all the millions of ways things could go wrong.  Now that is true, but it is also true that it would only take a little heart to keep anything from being hurtful.