Looking at my life and seeing the parallels between myself and my mother’s own life, watching her spiralling into an uncontrollable depression, I’m given one comfort. I haven’t had children to pass the suffering on to. There is minimal chance at this point that I can spread the disease that seems to infect the human species, and it’s a bittersweet victory.
My mother’s depression isn’t chemical, so there are no drugs to help her, and no counselor can solve her problems because it’s a disease endemic to society, and they are infected just the same. My mother, as with me, you and everyone else is infected with fear and loneliness, she’s hurt, broken and what’s left of her soul is fighting tooth and nail to maintain some level of security. So her depression has become a security blanket to protect her from the fever, but it’s also going to be her undoing like so many other people before her.
I’m reading the literature she used to read, desperately trying to find an answer as I watch my life careen towards the horrendous train wreck I see in the future. My premonition isn’t set in stone, but the similarities I see between us and with most women is unnerving. I’m no longer angry and afraid, and I honestly don’t know how to stop it, so at this point I’m moving ahead with the idea that if I write about it, at some point the answer would eventually stare me in the face.
So what then is causing the hurt, fear, anger and loneliness? A cumulation of a sick society, and damaged people taking their hurt and anger consciously or otherwise out on innocents, and spreading the disease. It’s worse than a zombie apocalypse. At least zombies in theory are brain dead and unaware that they are in a terrible state, they don’t have survivor guilt or PTSD. Their mission is simple feed and continue on until they rot out.
I’ve spent years trying to sort through personal bias, poring over psychological resources, self help books, gender specific literature and every little tidbit of information I find seems to point to anywhere but the actual problems that we all face, all just theories, and ways to cope with the fallout. A little bandage for a sucking chest wound. Broken people walking around avoiding intimacy building bigger egos in order to protect themselves from the hurt transferred by other broken people.
The institutions we depend on for physical, intellectual and spiritual support only exist now to either capitalize or instill endless measures of control using the very pain that we hope they will help alleviate. Billions of people having their loneliness, fear and mistrust commoditized and used to create an institution of wealth built atop the foundations of misery.
Buy this thing, go to this school, adopt our religion and you will find love, hope and acceptance, but it comes at a price that is much more than the wad in your pocketbook, it comes at giving up your dreams, repressing your feelings and rejecting the beauty that comes with being human. We are objectified and manufactured to become cogs in the infernal machine, or worse yet, bought and sold on a market we have no access to where our very soul is the dividend to be reaped.
This isn’t living, and certainly doesn’t seem like the meaning or answer to life’s great questions, it’s existing because we’re here, and incrementally having our empowerment to believe in ourselves, and to grow and be the best we can be as individuals as well as a civilization pulled out from under our feet.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would your past self be happy with where you are?
Those things that you aspired to, that is the core of who you are. Now of course some things are less attainable or less lucrative and at the end of the day the stomach rules over the heart. But again that fundamental state of existence is being exploited.
I used to think it was as simple as setting aside superficial divisions such as gender rights, racial equality, accessibility etc. But in reality egalitarianism is a hard sell when people are so damaged that they have become incapable of basic compassion and empathy for others. And that’s where we are.
Women are treated as insignificant and although in the western world it may be unacceptable to beat them, the ways to subjugate them has become more insidious. They are told that they must have “Girl Power” which is based on looks and sexuality to use and abuse men before they get to you, as opposed to “Being a Lady”, which was what you brought to his household table and served up. Men are being told that to “Be a Man” all that is soft and feminine is the root of evil, yet their status is judged by the candy girl that sits at his arm.
Women are taught that the only way to feel validation is through a man’s eyes and men are taught that the only way to manhood is to have a female ego extension. But neither know that they are being programmed that way. They suffer in silence because trying to bring it up in a discussion inevitably turns into the argument “You never LISTEN to ME!” and “You’re a crazy Bitch!”
She’s asking for validation because she doesn’t realise that she should validate her own worth, and that creates confidence which is riveting and sexy, and men, confronted with the fact that the extension of their ego has feelings and needs outside of his needs, get upset that their trophy is inconveniently showing them that they aren’t the supermen that they are told that they are.
We are all stunted emotionally and interpersonally, and it’s perpetuated and normalized and incredibly painful for everyone involved. We aren’t taught how to communicate with each other, we are taught to perpetuate stereotypes. We aren’t given the tools to break out of our codependency, or the insight to see the red flags of predatory people.
A little plea
If you are a parent of young people, or are planning on having children, I hope you have the ability to see that you are imprinting the good and the bad from your life, and you can’t stop that. But you can give them the tools to work better and be healthier before their lives go sideways.
Compliment them on their character when they do right, and compliment them when they work hard, instead of yelling at them for making mistakes, show them with compassion the consequences and give them the opportunity to try it differently and make that lesson positive.
That means communicating.
If you are unable to communicate in a healthy positive way, get counseling or go to a library and find literature on how to understand your feelings and thoughts, and deal with them before dumping them on the tiny shoulders of your children. These little people will grow up (hopefully) one day to build upon the society we have left for them, and although the foundations are falling apart, maybe we can give them the opportunity to carefully rebuild with the tools we give them.
Don’t live vicariously. They are unique, let them be who they are, but understand they are most likely going to have a life partner. Look at the flaws in you and your partner, and understand that growing up doesn’t stop. Be the role models that embrace growth and change. When your little one calls you on something you are doing, that is a truth being told to you. Accept that, and tell your little one that they are right in calling you out, and tell them that you will find a way to resolve that behavior, and follow through.
They NEED that. If you want your child not to be a hypocrite, if you want your child to create a great life, they need role models that are proactive, people that grow, and learn on every level. Yes this is a huge responsibility, but this is what you signed on for and when you see your little ones have a zest for life and actively want to take responsibility I’m going to lay odds that you are going to burst with pride.
I know I said before, I’m not a parent, so what would I know? Maybe because I was a kid, and while I was a kid, I oddly had friends that were also kids, and I watched so many of my friends get slowly broken down to live a miserable, insecure, lonely, self medicated life. Maybe I know because I’ve been through my own torture, and have seen proactive parents that somehow overcame their own misery enough to do it.
But it’s still the exception, not the norm. Most people… parents or not, find a point in their emotional and mental development that they become comfortable with, and fight tooth and nail to maintain that growth, and that’s when misery becomes noticeable. When you stop growing you start assessing the things that are wrong, you look outside and inside looking for happiness. You remember having it, at some point, but somewhere in between all of the societal pressures and just trying to maintain, you seem to have misplaced it.
When was the last time you played? Not adult board games at boring dinner parties… I mean raked up the leaves and then jumped into them?
When was the last time you went exploring the world at large without a goal? Just taken in what’s around you?
When was the last time you stood in the living room and sang your heart out (however badly) to a song that you relate to? Or did a fun little dance?
When we “Grow up” we are told that playing is inappropriate and we are told to stuff those explorative yearnings, those funny and silly moments in a box in the closet beside those old shoes you really don’t want to throw away. And that’s where your happiness is stored. Not joking, you just need to dust it off and you might feel embarrassed in front of your own self for the first few times you do it, but at the same time, it’s cathartic and liberating.
Adults need play too and if we never stop playing and exploring the world around us, (taking time to smell the roses) all of a sudden the daily grind seems much less abrasive. Oddly enough, this play time is actually emotional expression, and is a great coping mechanism. I find a belly laugh is exponentially more psychologically therapeutic and empowering than yoga. And the best part is, I can share it with others. And I would love to see more people go for it.
Growing up has, for multiple generations been defined by repressing one’s needs for the greater good, suppressing emotional expression and stepping into some predefined role that society has dished out living out that role and then dying. And honestly… and looking at where we are, it obviously isn’t working.
So, even though we have no power to change the big ugly institutions, we still have the power to redefine our personal roles and refit our home institutions so we can learn to be whole, and happy. We have to stop stuffing little bandages into gaping chest wounds, and do some surgery.
Happiness is a process not a goal, and it involves loving yourself, and finding ways to bring some of your childhood dreams to fruition, taking time to explore your world. Take the time to compliment and share that good intent, and not treating people as sources of happiness, but treating them as partners and play friends.
Validate yourself, and find the things in you that are awesome. Look in the mirror and tell yourself honestly how good you are at the things you are good at. Make funny faces at some point, and then have a talk with yourself and be honest, what could you do better? What do you need help with?
Guess what? Your closest friends, those people that you consider family, they already know and they are waiting for you to ask. This leads to you moving past pain past fear,and gives the people you love the opportunity to give you that love you deserve. So, all around, it’s a win win.
I don’t have all the solutions, but for some reason, of course in general these are common traits for most humans, and humans deserve better than being objectified and turned into commodities.