Hey everyone! I’m adding a new sub-topic of the blog, “Principles.” I’ll take one topic each post, from daily living or life principles and try to unpack my understanding of it. These will obviously be shaped by my own experiences and life events, so please share yours!
This is super difficult to post to because it is one of my greatest soul-crushing realizations and fragments of it become clear to me each day in small, startling ways.
There was a specific point (almost exactly 10 years ago) I shifted my life direction from wild, creative chaos full of art and music, labors of love and sawdust and paint stains and burns, to a more structured, “professional,” “respectable” path. Continue reading
I’m not sure where to begin.
I am shocked sometimes how fortunate I am, yet I carry so much envy (resentment?) that some people drift through the world so easily and how difficult it was for me to get here. I am 33 and still have days it’s a crap shoot whether I’ll get out of bed or not. Even on the happiest days – I’ll be struck with the sudden urge to cry. When I’m out and about I never know if it will be fun, or it will be a roulette of sad, awkward, unresolved, hurt and weird.
At the age of 3, I was picked up, not even 10ft from where my mom was standing, thrown over a man’s shoulder and taken from the store not knowing how or if he would be caught and let me go. Later in high school, a strange man followed me part way to school each day until he finally tried to drag me behind a secluded loading dock area. I was able to get away. It didn’t phase me until school friends and a teacher had me wait in the counseling office for the police to show up.
There were at least a handful of car accidents long before driving was on my own radar. Homeless people ate, slept and shit in our doorway. They were up all night screaming in either agony, withdrawal or bouts of schizophrenia. I would say childhood was stressful and traumatic. Not a couple events here or there like so many families undoubtedly go through… but every single day. There was a long period of time I thought that’s all life was… a daily uphill battle full of stomach ulcers, sickness, migraines, rage. I actually believed I would be stuck at 6, 7, 8 years old forever and never escape. There was no concept of how to be a person or that I had some other life after that. The teens and twenties weren’t much different, but at least they slowly became marked by my own efforts at success and adventure.
In college I locked myself in a bathroom to keep a highschool friend from taking his seemingly innocuous campus tour invitation way too far. I spent years dating violent men, alcoholics, and people who frankly probably just didn’t like me, but didn’t mind hanging around until something else came along. Who could blame them, what a prize I must be with all this trapped inside my head. One of them dragged me up the stairs in the back of our house by my neck, and then held a pillow and his hand over my mouth and nose until I blacked out. I wasted time doing stupid shit. Taking care of people I shouldn’t have. Watching things get destroyed I couldn’t replace. I neither consented nor objected. I was there, a participant – at once confused, curious, apathetic, destructive – all up in the middle of this shitstorm.
And I am leaving so many things out. Things far worse than all this.
I am 33 and I still listen hard a block in each direction when I’m walking alone. Sometimes even when I’m not alone. I still have nightmares of leaving my house and then can’t find my keys to get back in, as a man chases me up the street. I still have nightmares of getting trapped in a crushed burning vehicle or being raped. When I do leave the house, I walk through all sorts of neighborhoods without thinking twice. But from one block to the next I suddenly wonder, if I am walking up hill, and my legs get tired or the asthma acts up – will I be able to drop these groceries and run?
I’m cagey and anxious even when being good about exercising and meditation. I have days where I feel like a complete failure, even with top tier school Bachelors and Masters degrees. I take vitamins, drink water and eat well. I go back and forth with deciding not to drink, because I either end up tired for several days after, or angry about 1,001 unresolved issues with people and things and life, or both. I get told constantly I look sad or angry. Because I am sad and angry, even when I am happy. Even when I am curled up with my dog and a blanket and hiding from all of it. Even when I am in therapy. Even when reading books on non-attachment, the universe, random this or that theory, and getting lost in fiction. Even when I was on Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin. Those almost killed me in their own way, turning me into a walking blackout and leaving permanent bodily and endocrine damage.
I think about things that never cross many peoples’ minds. It’s too much to ever explain. It doesn’t translate. It comes out at the most inopportune times. I don’t like it and I don’t want it. But it’s part of me and shoving it down doesn’t help. Yes, one could say “no amount of guilt can change the past, no amount of anxiety can change the future.” It’s not quite like that. Nothing is ever really wrong. We’re all doing the best we can at any given point in time. Yes yes yes, all of that. I can talk about it now without hesitation, but it’s not that it doesn’t phase me. It is in all these small idiosyncrasies that follow.
I am 33 and have no clue what I am doing.
Spirit is what connects you to the universe and everyone in it. Religion aims to divide and rule, with the promise of some ultimate reward that never comes in this life, and not until you’ve destroyed yourself or someone else. Religion of all kinds has been the bloodiest government in the history of our civilization.
I recall a comment from my undergraduate study of classical liberalism (NOT the same as contemporary “liberal”) – the professor said, “any view point so extremely at either end of the spectrum becomes essentially the same – kill everyone.”
This is the exact Western sentiment ringing across the social trash can that is the Internet right now. Yes, the exact same sentiment that leads to terrorist attacks.
Hate doesn’t “solve” a problem that is created by the very act of separating our world into varying levels of otherness. Policies, counter-attacks, blind and relentlessly misguided patriotism, religious devotion and broad, proud racism won’t save you. It won’t save any of us.
I’m thoroughly disappointed in the world. In its actions and in its reactions this week alone. Yet each day I am relentlessly optimistic.
I am cynical, yet hopeful.