Western Culture – Where Truth is Hard to Face

Truth.  There was a time when I thought it was always a black and white thing.  I was wrong, it isn’t.  There’s truth within a logical or mathematical system, like one and one equals two.  Or it’s conditional – a four-legged table won’t stand on its own if one of the legs are removed, depending where the legs are and how heavy the table top is.

But between people?  It’s way more complicated.  I can come into group of people and believe everybody is avoiding the truth, but what truth am I thinking of?  The truth of what I can see?  How do I know that what I can see isn’t just a projection of my own unresolved issues?  One thing I know is that when I make a judgment about them there’s definitely unresolved stuff in me.  I judge them so I don’t have to look at me – because it’s too painful.

I used to be so sure of myself in what I saw in other people, because emotions are clear to me.  I see them like people see colors.  It makes a group of people confusing for me because all the emotions are flying around at one level, but often it seems to me that they’re not being acknowledged, so there’s a whole other level at which people are interacting.  Sometimes it’s like a swarm of giant bees in the room.

The mistake I made was in thinking I understood what motivated people to do the things they did, and understanding the why of their emotions.  I can see now that I can’t know that.  I can speculate, but my speculation won’t amount to a hill of useless beans.  Useless being the operative word.  I don’t even always know it for myself.  In fact judging by how many times I’ve thought I did know, only to realize later on there was more to learn, I can never know the whole why of anything I do at any given moment.  So I definitely can’t know it about other people.

So where does truth between people lie, especially if I’m in a relationship with somebody and some kind of behavior results in me being hurt?  Maybe the only thing I can be sure of is how I feel and what I need.  Hold myself away from judgment of them altogether, because all my judgment does is hurt them and possibly provoke anger.

If they get angry I’ve got the option of saying they’re a trouble-maker and judging them even more, refusing to take responsibility for my original judgment.  But where’s that going to get me?  Absolutely nowhere.  I might feel righteous, but it will be at their expense.

 

It’s passive aggression.  I can kick you and get away with it, make it look like it’s your fault. I think we all do this at different times.  It’s the way our culture operates, it thrives on judgment and avoiding our emotions and our own truth.  I know I’ve done it a lot and I still do.  It’s a seductive thing because my truth can be excruciatingly painful.  But hard as it is to accept, it doesn’t achieve anything – for me or anybody else.

What if I’m amongst a group where everybody is in denial, where a lot of emotions are flying around and everybody’s too scared to express them?  Must I just swallow my frustration?  Walk away?   Absolutely not.  I have the right to say what I want to say.  I’ll just achieve more for me if I can take responsibility for my own emotions and say I feel and I need rather than you’re doing this or that because…

Truth between people?  It’s hard.  My truth isn’t going to be the same as your truth.  It’s definitely not black and white.  Life isn’t black and white.  Everything happens in the grey area.  So is what I’ve said here the penultimate truth?  No.  It’s just mine.  And I have no doubt it will evolve, if I let it.

 

Letting Go, Moving On – Emotions and Needs

People can get quite aggressive when they think you should move on.  It always annoys me, brings out the rebel, and I wonder why the pressure?  What’s wrong with being where you are?  Why can’t you just be here, do what you need to do, until here evolves into another place, another state of mind?

I wonder if it’s because when we’re miserable about something it’s uncomfortable for others to see.  So they try to force us to be happy – then they can be comfortable.  Well, partly.  Partly it’s just horrible to see somebody unhappy if you love them.   Even if you don’t know them.  But I don’t think the solution is to shut the door on unhappy or angry or scared.  It’ll just open again, later on, anyway, and then you’re back where you were.

I think it comes back to what we do with emotions.  Generally we’re not so good at dealing with them.  So it’s natural to want them to go away, because they’re so uncomfortable.  But that’s a bit like braking when your car goes into a skid, it’s counterproductive.  Or leaning backwards when you’re learning to ski.  Or if you’re really cold and you resist inside of yourself.  It’s actually the resistance that hurts, not the cold.   If you breathe into the cold and embrace it it’s easier to deal with.

So many people seem to think we shouldn’t have emotions, that the uncomfortable ones are negative.  But we have got them, and we don’t generally have anything that’s useless to us.  Evolution takes care of that.  Usually with evolution, the less we use something the smaller it gets until it disappears.  Well it doesn’t matter how little we use emotions, how much we repress or try to ignore them, they keep getting stronger and stronger.  So they must be a pretty important survival tool.

I think they’re very useful when it comes to this business of moving on.   Maybe we stay stuck not because we’re bad or stubborn or neurotic, but because we need something from whatever we’re stuck in.    If we figure out what it is and give it to ourselves, the emotions dissipate and we naturally move on.

Think about it, say you have a garden and you go away for a month, and the person who was going to water for you didn’t pitch.  You get back and some plants are okay, but others are wilting.  Wilting tells you there’s something wrong – in the plant’s past.  Well you don’t criticize the plant, or tell it to move on, do you?  Of course not, you give it water.  Then it moves on.  It lives, it flourishes.  Because you met the need.

I don’t think we’re any different.  Moving on, letting go, they’re the result of something, they’re not proactive actions in themselves.  Plants tell us they need something by wilting.  We know we need something because we feel.   We don’t move on because there’s something we need.  We stay stuck until we figure out what it is, and get it.  Then we move on.  For real.  Simple.

Otherwise, it looks to me as if it’s just a charade.  The moving-on charade parade.  Always leaping forward into the next moment and not getting what we need out of this one.

Blog Titles and Vagaries of Life

Lately I’ve been sometimes bothered about the title of my blog – or, what’s the word? – torn?   Yes, that’s it, but a more interesting word than that one.   Never mind.   Torn it is.   When I started, I was in the thick of a spectacularly stubborn impasse, feeling hugely disempowered, being super-dependent, becoming super-aware of my inner critic and the warped ideas that are hard-wired into my being.   Facing very uncomfortable truths.

The word I was looking for is conflicted!  Aaaaaaaaahhhhh.  V. Satisfying to suddenly retrieve lost word.   But I digress.

The past seven months – oops, ten months – have been filled with epiphanies, dark tunnels, moments of wild inspiration and thrill at being alive, potholes, rage tantrums, crying jags, plateaux, rants against members of my family, rage against god and the universe, confusion, moments of clarity, of absolute certainty that I’m effecting huge change within, building a foundation.

Time rushing by at the speed of light, my heart getting out of control.   Wildly angry angry angry, sore, discontented.   Feeling lost.   Terrified I’d end my life saying “I tried to change but I couldn’t do it”.    Gaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.    Scary times.   Inspiring times.   Alive times.

So far I’ve been very sure what my blog is about – articulating this process for myself so I can see it.   But something feels as though it’s changed radically.   For a while haven’t felt like writing about it, not on a daily basis.   It may be time to get down and write the book, so it’s all out in one place.   Tell the story and be done with it.    I’ve tried writing that book a gazillion times, and couldn’t.   I’ve had lots of theories about the why of everything, but I haven’t been resolved about it.   Too sore, too angry and scared.   Probably still too trapped.

Now?   I’ve got a better understanding of my place in it all.   I wouldn’t be writing the book to blame or punish anybody but to show my understanding of what caused my crisis, and how it  lead to understanding what prohibits development of potential.

Hah!   Hahahahahahah!   Success!   Have truly become woman of substance, am finally really Turning My Life Around and Stepping out of History.   Feel v. calm and beatific.   Well, not really calm.   Not v. good at calm.

Thing is, what about the title of my blog?   It’s ironic: when I started, nobody saw the title as meaning “figuring out what went wrong and what part you unwittingly played, then learning how to change so the present and the future can be different”.   Seemed logical to me.   I thought everybody would say oh I know what that means.    Well, when I first Googled the title about 6 months ago, all the search results were about history.   125,000,000 of them.

Oh.

Now most of the first page of those results are either articles of mine or my blog.   And now I ‘m not sure any more that I can justify the title for ever!  Hmmm.   Probably don’t have to worry too much.   Probably haven’t reached penultimate ephiphany state yet.   Probably never will.

I’m fixated on earthly things and just fine with it

I read an article on somebody’s opinion about what causes stress the other day.   Insofar as I understood, the author believes that the problem doesn’t lie in situations or circumstances but in our need to try and control when we’re unsure of an outcome.   Up to that point I agreed.

But then he said that we need to let go of our fear and of our need to hold on to earthly things.

That’s where we diverge.   Why have we got fear if it’s no use to us?   Evolutionarily – good word there – when we don’t use something it disappears.   Well, we do our best – and have for ever and ever – to ignore or suppress our emotions but they don’t go away.   They get stronger and more impactful, more uncomfortable and increasingly difficult to ignore.

I’m more convinced than ever that emotions are symptoms of a need.   Just like the dashboard lights on a car.   When the gas light comes on you don’t try to meditate it away, or force the car to “let go”.  You recognize it’s a symptom, and you do whatever it tells you needs to be done.   If you don’t, the car grinds to a halt.

Same with emotions – fear, anger, sorrow, happiness.   They require something – expression and sometimes an action which is about giving yourself something or getting it from somebody else.  Accurate information, love, protection…    If you do that, the emotion goes away and you don’t have to deliberately “let go”.   It’s just natural.  Moreover your head clears, your heart and soul feel shiny and new and you have a whole lot of energy.

If I stick my finger in a flame it hurts.  The pain tells me get your finger out the flame and fast! I can’t meditate the pain away, I have to listen to it and take my finger out the flame.

Yes?   When something unexpected happens to me, I get scared that there won’t be a solution.    In fact I positively believe there won’t be one.

My fear tells me I need reassurance that I can access protection or whatever I need, that solution exists for me, that god hasn’t forgotten me, that I’m still loved by real people, that I’m not alone.   When I get enough of it – and from somebody I believe and trust – my fear goes away and I stop trying to control.   I let go.   And solution comes towards me.   Letting go of fear?  I think it’s a consequence, not a deliberate action.

I’ll put my head on a block on this.

I think we judge our emotions because we don’t know how to read them, don’t know what they really represent.   They’re scary and exceptionally uncomfortable.   But they don’t have to be.

My debate the other day about whether my current levels of stress are about slipping too far down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs  has cleared up.   The stress is about believing things aren’t going to change.

But some friends of mine gave me some warm clothing, and some wool fabric I can make a warm coat out of.  They also gave me some delicious food which has lasted me three days.   The experience turned my world around.

So it’s a mix.  I’m responsible for my ideas and what I believe, and for taking my fear to somebody who can reassure me.     But I’m also responsible for making sure I eat properly.    When I do both effectively my stress is relieved.

To go back to the author who believed we need to let go of our earthly fixations.   Why are we on earth if being earthly is a bad thing?   I like it.   I love my earthliness, my emotions, my trials and tribulations and my triumphs, my highs and my lows.   I’m not anywhere near ready to give them up.

House of cards tumbling down

My whole house of cards came tumbling down today.

I got the new computer and printer, and they look very wonderful, they’re the first new quality things I’ve had for over ten years.  TEN YEARS, folks.  Imagine my excitement.

And I can’t use them. Because the printer needs a new cartridge and the pc doesn’t have Microsoft Office.  The cartridge costs anything from R200-500 and the software costs R1500.  Money I don’t have. The frustration of no resources blew out my lights.

What the hell is the point of being alive and being so positive and looking for solution and clutching onto my dreams when I just keep hitting this brick wall?  It gives me a monumental fucking headache.  Brain damage.

I know there must be a solution somewhere but it eludes me.

Rage.

Somebody asked me to do some sewing for her, and offered me R50.  I said I’d do it for R100.  She didn’t want to pay that.  I accepted her price, feeling like a poor white.  She got this smug look on her face, aren’t I clever, I got you for cheap.

Yeah, you’re real clever.  Congratulations.

What am I doing here?  I’m so sick of the frustration of wanting to move with  ideas and not being able to.

Who gives a rat’s ass whether there’s a solution out in the universe for me, and it’s just my own incomplete consciousness that stops me from finding it?  How does knowing that, or suspecting it or fearing it get me closer to the solution?

It doesn’t.

I feel utterly worthless and stupid.  Hundreds of thousands of people have overcome things that happened to them in their childhood and moved through challenges and made their way in the world.

What’s wrong with me.

I’ve been as angry as a snake for hours.  I hurt like hell.

This is the first time I’ve written a blog and haven’t felt better by the end.  And it’s my 101st blog.  I should be celebrating.  It’s an achievement, isn’t it.   Well, I’m not celebrating.  I want someone to reach out to me and say it’s okay, you don’t have to be strong all the time, it’s okay to be disheartened.

Well, whether it’s okay or not, it’s what I am.
Disheartened.

My words are pale, they don’t deliver images which can come anywhere close to what I feel, how bleak my world looks from the inside.

This too will pass.

_____________________________________________________

And it has.  I still don’t know what the solution is to this ridiculous and appallingly frustrating situation that I’m in.

But I won’t let myself listen to the part of me which shouts that I’m a worthless failure.  It’s bs.  I’m not.

Facts: bankruptcy is hard to recover from.  Having no material resources is a common human predicament.

Like I said, hundreds of thousands of people have managed to get out of this exact hole.  I must be able to, also.  I’m human, aren’t I?

I won’t let this take me down. Not for a minute longer.

I was happy yesterday, able to have faith in myself, believe my life is going forward.  Happy to be part of the human race, not regretful of a second of my life so far.  Sure of its meaning.  Patient with myself, and clear about the bigger picture.

Today the storm clouds gathered.  It was just emotion, that’s all.  I got angry, frustrated, scared, sore.   Did some tantrum, crying, expressing, got it out of my body.  Sanity restored itself.  It always does.

So I guess it’s back to choosing what to believe.  When that’s what’s in front of you, when that’s the only thing you can control, you might as well choose the idea that holds prospect.  Might as well.

Maybe all this choosing I’m doing is building momentum behind the scenes.  Really looking forward to choosing other things, I’m dead sick of this one.  It holds no entertainment value for me at all.  I’d rather be choosing my next travel destination, or my plastic surgeon, or which actresses and actors and director etc. I want for my completed script.  Now which grand piano should I buy?

Some kind of sick humour rises to the surface; at the age of 55 I’m dependent on my unwilling mother and taking in sewing work for R50 – I’m like a character out of the Jane Austen era.  In straightened circumstances.  Well I did the damn work and it took me an hour and a half. That is the sum of my valiant financial achievements at present.

Break open the champagne.

It is quite funny, in a satirical, Bridget Jones kind of way.  I suppose.

The shadow of the past

I’ve never known that I had rights or could say no to abuse and bullying.  I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions and meet my needs – didn’t even know how to identify them.  Didn’t know how to use my brain.  Didn’t know I had creativity.  I was sure I wasn’t loveable.  My experience of  people was always traumatic because I was sure they despised me with good reason.  I survived by being a nonentity.   It was a nightmare, but it’s how I stayed alive, so there’s still sometimes something safe in it, something attractive.  I still have to wrestle with the darkest of my demons, the shadow of a past that beckons me become nobody again.

I understand now that I am entitled and I know how to establish boundaries and listen to my emotions, meet my needs.  But I’m not brilliant at it yet, and often the world still becomes a terrifying place as the shadow of my past hides the reality of my.  I can’t see the reality, I can only see the past, where there was no solution. Where I wasn’t loved or entitled or valued, where I was punished emotionally for being.  Where my self-esteem was like a piece of old, torn, moldy, smelly dishrag. Shameful.  Abhorrent.

6 years ago, bankruptcy made me supremely vulnerable.  Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  I thought it was the end of my life. But getting to rock bottom isn’t a bad thing, it’s a challenging thing.  Uncomfortable isn’t bad, it’s the door opening to a new way of doing things.  New is painful at first.  Stepping out of history, leaving the past behind.  It doesn’t feel safe, it feels wrong, that’s what is so hard.

But it led me to see the authority I gave to money and the myths I’d learned about myself and life, about my self-esteem. I got a chance to start fixing things from the inside, rebuilding my foundation for living.

Although bankruptcy is about money, the crisis was provoked by my belief system and my fear that life would end if I couldn’t get material things.  Beyond that it was about my fear of becoming vulnerable and having to ask for help – which was about fear of being punished beyond my threshold of emotional pain, and re-experiencing the emotional punishment I was subjected to as a child.

The shadow of my past.  It’s still powerful, but not more powerful than my spirit and the part of me that is emerging from my history.  Still a bit tentative, a bit shaky, but with a resolve that’s indestructible.  The days of my past overpowering me completely are over.