September 20th, 2005
|01:52 pm - Apologies, Fear, and the Isolation of Self-Worth|
I'm enthusiastic about my shortcomings. I love them. Each one. I observe unexpected emotions (from anger to jealousy to sadness to fear) with amusement, and I spend my time laughing about them. I talk at length about my failings and my mistakes because they're valuable to me.
When I look back on the events of the past few weeks, I see a lot of them. It's a virtual treasure trove of golden opportunities to see just how much I've fucked up. I've talked extensively about how I've felt about them, and sometimes appear to have bounced back.
But something I haven't talked much about, except in cagey terms that dodge the issue, is how others have thought or perceived the things I've done and said.
It's apparent, and has been apparent for a while, that through my own voyage of self-discovery (which is really more like a looting and plundering of those golden mistakes), others have been affected by it as well. While I'm not sure why people get affected by my attempts to figure out what's going on, they certainly do. Few have told me this themselves, which continues to make me scratch my head and wonder why more don't just come out and say it, but they've made it obvious to me, anyway.
While I admit that I'm totally lost, totally unable to figure out what's up or down, that's not an excuse for hurting feelings. I'm doing that more and more, it seems. On the one level, I feel I need to work this stuff out. I can't close my LiveJournal. . . it's out of the question for me. I can't stop writing in it, either, because it's become the way I discuss things with myself, and the input of those around me is invaluable to me. This leads, though, to a fierce honesty that is, at times, offensive and perhaps dangerous. In trying to be honest with myself, it seems to display sides of me that are not quite so nice.
Because of that, I offer a sort of piacular apology. If anything that I have done here has offended you, if anything I have done here has been incomplete, if anything I have done here has not been in the proper manner, accept this apology in recompense.
It's got to be piacular, really, because don't know what I may have done, necessarily, or even if I have done something offensive to you, but if you've found offense, incompletion, or (I suppose) "non-properness" in anything I've done, than I really am sorry. I'm thoroughly confused and more prone to push people away than invite them in.
Most recently, I suppose, is the Great Birthday Card Debacle of 2005. It's an excellent example of how I'm trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and how I'm failing miserably.
I wrote a comment to singingwren this morning that really sums up some issues.
Basically, I spent a week following Summerland in a very, very bad spot, for various reasons. Many of those have been resolved, but several have gotten worse. Some, in fact, are so bad that it takes every last fiber of my Chaote training to get around them. Some of them, I've found, have beaten that training and I can't get around them.
So, I turn to an old friend for inspiration:
"If we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits . . . Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient . . . Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions."
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Book 6
My copy of Sun Tzu is old and dog-eared, and it's been read many times since Kori gave it to me a long time ago. It comes in handy quite often.
A lot of this came to a head with a birthday. While I usually despise my birthday, I'd completely forgotten about it this year. In fact, last week someone told me that there was a birthday coming up that she wanted to celebrate, and I asked whose it was. Yes, it's that unimportant to me in the whole scheme of things. If people didn't remind me of it, I'd forget it every year and never miss it.
But enough about such happy scenarios.
With all I've been working through recently, one that has really reared an ugly head is the feeling that I'm *not* special, that I have serious weaknesses and character flaws. As much as I love those parts of me, I love them because they shine as strongly as everything else. They show others that I'm just as weak and frail as them. They show me that I'm breakable (which is important, because I honestly believe I'm unbreakable). They draw out a reality that runs parallel with my own, one that I can look at and agree on. This reality is very important to me.
That's why it made me feel so damn good that no one cared about my birthday. It validated a feeling within me that honestly, I'm not that important. While most people require validation that they are, inteed, important, I require the opposite. This feeling is a huge part of me, and it's the center of my interactions with most people. It reminds me that there are things larger than myself, people who are smarter and better looking than me, and that I need other people. It forms the basis of my worship and faith. No, that doesn't mean that I need to feel small to get a high out of religion. It's something else, something ineffible.
It doesn't take much for me to rise above this feeling of unimportance, because there's a feeling of importance that is equally strong. That feeling, though, is something I've had to put away recently. It brings discomfort and fear, a healthy dose of self-loathing and a touch of anger that is so intense that it scares me.
The Sun Tzu quote above now comes into play. I've recognized that these feelings are not a part of me that I'm fond of. It's not even that they're a part of this New-Age idea of a "Shadow Self" that needs to be "understood and incorporated" or some other mumbo-jumbo bullshit like that. These are feelings that simply didn't exist before certain events took place, and they are a part of me that is seeking dominance over the rest of me.
They're at war with me.
Sun Tzu, of course, would chide me for not destroying these enemies when they were weak. I've let them fester, and now they've gained their footholds. They're growing stronger and choking off parts of me that I truly cherish. Right now, they're too strong for my meager weapons to destroy.
So, like water, I flow around these strong points. I avoid the enemy's places of strength, attacking his weaknesses. One place of strength is this feeling of worth, of importance. It strikes at the heart of those things I fear most: egotism, narcissism, and jealousy. While I find each of these feelings useful in general (and have exploited each in the past), they have become sources of pain and anger, and it is these associations that are new in my life. Anything that feeds into these feelings strengthens them. Compounding my usual discomfort for praise with a serious issue about birthdays feeds these feelings in horrid, twisted ways.
There's also a serious feeling of helplessness, because very, very few people will accept, "I dislike birthdays and would prefer not to celebrate," without trying to convince me that I'm a) being stubborn, b) being stupid, or c) totally and completely fucking wrong. Explainations are often demanded, counterpoints are made, and I end up feeling remarkably small and wanting to lash out.
This builds the strength further in these feelings and fears. I'm helpless, and I have no allies. It's a bleak way to look at the world.
I imagine, in my mind's eye, that each card and well-wish that directly relates to my birthday is a fearsome, dark monster, shapeless and changing, angry and disgusting, acidic and demonic. These cards, opened, form a greater whole, one which is terrifying and ever more dangerous, one that my mind simply cannot place an image to, it is so horrid. This thing gathers strength from upon a rock built of helplessness, fear, and self-worth.
And so the cards remain closed. I have seperated them around the house after knifing them open to check for any items that require immediate action. Only a few have been read. The others wait until I am stronger than they are, and then I will conquer them one at a time. Until then, as the water does, I will flow against them, eroding them slowly. I will cut off their ability to gain strength.
And once I have sufficiently weakened a feeling, I'll take it. And I will turn it against the others.
Yes, I have a plan. It's not pretty, but war never is. And it's something I need to do on my own. If there's something that you can do, I won't hesitate to ask. But I can't do much with offers of help.
I've always liked to walk alone. Now I have to.
Current Mood: optimistic
Current Music: "Manana", -JB
I admit to no issues whatsoever with unbirthdays. Those should always be celebrated.
I can't believe it. A comment from Kirk.
This is an incredible moment.
I'm enthusiastic about my shortcomings. I love them. Each one. I observe unexpected emotions (from anger to jealousy to sadness to fear) with amusement, and I spend my time laughing about them.
This sounds like a productive way to deal with things, and likely leads to some valuable insights. (As long as you're also experiencing the emotions, and not using the analytic process solely to create distance. :))
A little of both. Actually, it's the experience of the emotion that usually brings me up remarkably short, and I often burst out laughing.
I recall once feeling remarkably jealous over something, and when I realized what was going on, I broke down and laughed for a good hour.
|Date:||September 20th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC)|| |
New-Age idea of a "Shadow Self" that needs to be "understood and incorporated" or some other mumbo-jumbo bullshit like that.
It's not exactly "New-Age." Shadow work comes from Jung, who developed it in the early 1900's. And it does have to do with owning all parts of yourself - even the ugly parts. But, if you combine that with Gestalt work, you realize that you also always have a CHOICE, whether you understand and incorporate the shadow or not. Incidentally, in true shadow work, you are actually dealing with the chaotic energy of the underworld - wherein lies all sorts of creative energy that we usually have tied up in hiding those parts of us.
Personally, I value the self-exploration you have been doing in this journal, and I appreciate everything you have written. Hopefully, this piacular apology will appease those who may not, some of whom might not want to or be able to look at similar shadow stuff within themselves.
Well, Jung, to me, is about as "New-Age" as they get. But then, it's well known that I'm no fan of Jung :) Doesn't mean he's not valuable (I occasionally use and misuse his theories to amazing results), but on the whole I don't find him particularly useful.
He's a tool in my religious studies toolbox.
I'm glad you've been enjoying the self-exploration. It's kinda fun, actually. Regarding the apology, though: I have no idea who to address it to. While it's clear that I've offended, I can't get any sort of fix on who has been offended. It's made it virtually impossible to even attempt an apology (though I've been thinking about it for weeks). When I stumbled onto the wording of the piacular offering in the dark corners of my mind today, though, I suddenly had a way to apologize without making things worse (becuase a misdirected apology is, in some cases, worse than no apology). I figure, if it's good enough for ritual, it's good enough for me.
Besides, I've realized that while I've discussed the issues at length, I've discussed them from an internal standpoint. My discussions have been unbalanced, and focused on what's going on inside, not what's occurring outside. To be perfectly honest, such things are not and have not been as important to me: I'm wrapped up in a lot of difficult things right now, and the old saying, "take care of yourself first," has been at the forefront.
The concern for the self overrode the concern for others. And this caused offense.
Mike, you are ridiculous. :)
I thank you for your apology, despite the fact that I initially felt guiltily responsible for it. I saw the title and thought, shucks, I've gone and made him feel bad with my comments. I was fully ready to respond with some sort of hasty mollification.
But, it would be foolish to assume it was all about me because obviously it was not. I should not loftily assume that you owed me some sort of apology just because I was displeased. Because you didn't. If anything, I should have just shut up and respected your birthday wishes. The only reason I didn't was because the issue I had really was not about your birthday, but rather the attitude you were taking. It dismayed me and I didn't understand.
You seemed to like going to extremes when it comes to examining self-worth, and I wanted you to stop that behaviour. I wanted you to just accept people giving you affection without shooting them down in your stubborn fear that you would become egotistical from praise. There is no need to be insecure about expressing or not expressing self-worth -- if you were either a truly arrogant bastard or a pathetic and self-deprecating wuss, I would have punched you in the face long ago and left you to the dogs. ;)
It is possible to be complimented, gifted, praised, honoured, etc, WITHOUT growing either ungrateful or over-inflated, and it seems to me like you were completely barring this possibility altogether. You are so careful NOT to behave in a way that is arrogant that you come off as almost arrogant in your righteous insistence that you do not need people to praise you. I say almost because you are clearly well-intentioned... it's just that you don't (or didn't) seem to realize that it is just as offensive to refuse all compliments as it is to use a handful of them to build a huge and self-involved ego.
I realize that you say it meant a lot to you to be reminded you are not that important. This confuses me a little because you responded with comments about birthday celebrations being forced and empty, which made me think that the act of receiving one made you feel belitted as is. Your birthday, in my opinion, is also not the time to get sensitive about this, because if anything it is the one day of the year in which you are reminded of your own perserverance and progress. It's also a poor day to hold up this attitude because, annoyingly or not, people WANT to remind you of your worth (which they don't really do the rest of the year, according to you) on this day and are more likely to do so. Thus it's an invitation to hurt feelings and annoyed reactions to insist on ego-taming on your birthday. There are other times for that.
Of course, that's probably just my selfishness talking, saying, just indulge us when we want to celebrate your birthday and let it be all about what WE want.... but at least there is a certain tact and wisdom to choosing other days to fight that battle.
Seriously, Mike, I know you are discovering yourself and figuring out iossues just like the rest of us on LJ. Don't hold back and don't worry even if you offend me every single day with every single entry (but do be ready to duck in case I go for a kick to the mouth! :P) I realize that I have been just as troublesome by jumping down your throat rather than respecting the wishes you expressed, so please forgive me in turn. Realize it was only because I was worried about the mind-frame you were approaching things in and it making you unfairly unhappy. I feel like you are creating needless stress for yourself by worrying so hard about appearing egotistical, jealous, etc....
Can't you just trust that, were you to get so, we would immediately let you know and make sure you were accordingly punished? :P
I echo some of Anna's comments. And I think you ought to know that there *are* people who care about you and enjoy you for Mike and not your image.
I respect the birthday thing. You need to understand, though, that most people look at birthdays as an excuse to celebrate and be appreciated ... And most people won't be able to understand your view. I don't understand it, but I can respect it.
Most people who read my LJ learn very quickly not to be offended, as offense is never the intent.
And I'm not really all that controversial. . .
Sometimes I wonder if people understand what they are asking of themselves and of others. Or, what they are asking for.
Sometimes pain must be followed by greater pain as the dead crap is cut away. It's kinda like gangrene, I guess. It grows and destroys until there's nothing left - but if you catch it in time the cure hurts as bad or worse.
When you ask for honesty, are you one of those people who really want to know because you know it will help you fix things inside yourself - or are you one of those people who think they want to know or want to know to validate some horrible thought? There's a reason I am very careful what questions I ask people about myself.
I enjoy your company and think you are ok. I wonder if I'll ever get you. I know I see a bit more than most, but I don't necessarily understand what I see.
You are an interesting collection of contradictions.
Good luck with your journeys.
|Date:||September 20th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)|| |
i understand the avoidance of birthdays, and certainly you can feel however you want about them (not like you need my permission, but you know what i mean :)
i didn't understand what appeared to be the lack of appreciation for the acts of others, especially since you don't appear to be the unappreciative type. it struck me as out of sync, and perhaps even not quite what you meant to say exactly, but words are sometimes imperfect conveyences (sp) of meaning. so i pointed it out :)
i'll always be honest if nothing else :)
Been here a while. It's kinda a dank, smelly place, isn't it?
The birthday thing gives me one reaction- "So that's why I didn't remember it" I'd been feeling a bit guilty because I forgot it. So thanks for letting me off the hook.
Nothing you've said here on your lj has bothered me in the least. You've got a lot of shit to sort through. After all, as much as our paradigms may have been changed, your entire reality was shifted. It's a big deal.
One thing has bugged me a little- I don't think we've talked at all since Summerlands. Not sure if that's me or you or both. You helped me through one of the worst periods of my life & I want to repay that debt if I can.
As for finding your value in your lack of worth... I have my doubts as to how healthy that is. And I have some theories, but tose I think are more for private dicussion.
There isn't much anyone can do. A lot of it I have a need to do on my own. But I know who can help and when they can, and I don't plan to hesitate to ask.
It's been busy here recently. Very busy. Some days, I can answer chats, some days I can't.
re: the item you IM'ed me about today (or yesterday or the day before, or whenever it was): if you don't like it, get it to the Graphic Design Team. Honestly, a whole GD team pointing out flaws will make an easy case for you. And if it really is that bad, most of the rest of us will do the same.
For what it's worth:
1) It's your livejournal and you can write in it whatever you want.
2) I agree with you about being uncomfortable with the whole "Shadow" concept. (Of course, that could come from having met people with the attitude, "It's not my fault. My Shadow made me do it.")
3) I'm sorry you're having a hard time now. Just remember, this too shall pass.
|Date:||September 20th, 2005 10:47 pm (UTC)|| |
this too shall pass.
And sometimes it takes TIME to pass..... it doesn't happen quickly. But I know you know that.
"He shall triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight."
I'm still no expert at it, but I've been dedicating a lot of effort over the past few years to thinking about "what do I hope to accomplish by taking this action?" before I act.
And if there's one thing I've learned from participating in Internet forums, it's that "Hmm, this idea seems irrational... I should attempt to convert the individual to my way of thinking" generally results in a Pyrrhic victory at best. Sometimes it's best to just give people space and let them work things out for themselves.
Your sympathetic ear was very helpful for me a few months ago when I was having a bit of a rough time myself (though you may not realize it). As you've stated, you know how to reach me if you're ever in need.
It's a good place to start, really. I've found parallel in some of the modern magical paradigms: seeking to define one's "True Will" over one's desire.
Seeking Will is quite difficult, and very often, a desire seems to be Will. I've had a very awakening experience recently in which I had to seperate the two out very certainly.
And yeah, converting others is, generally, a losing battle. The online world is full of people who have to be right. I do hope I'm never one of those people, personally. I rather enjoy being wrong.
I rarely realize it when I'm being helpful. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I scored pretty high on a test regarding Asperger's Syndrome; much higher than most people do, but not high enough to be anywhere near a level of worry about it. But I suspect I'm just under borderline there. But I'm glad I could help.
And yeah, I know how to get ahold of you: Buy some He-Man DVD's and make a road trip in mid-October :)
I don't give a shit about your birthday.
On a funny, shoulder-shrug level, I won't tell people when my own is because I do not like to have it recognized/celebrated. I have been so successful in this campaign that my own parents missed it by more than a month this year. I was very proud. Although their guilt and apologies were worse than anything so I might try to spare myself that particular hell next year.
Ah, I have a new hero.
Since when has having "serious weaknesses and character flaws" made someone not "special"? If it weren`t for mine I would be nothing. Period. In fact I would argue I do not have any good points, but as I recently reached enlightenment I can say shit like that.
Of course I understand the whole birthday thing, if you think otherwise you are a boob. :D I do not like birthdays. I sent you gifts because that is what I do. I did, however, attempt to send them before the birthday so they would not be confused with the birthday (hence why I ordered things in JULY). But we see where that has gone. Damn backorders, *shakes fist*
Anyway, stop being so hard on yourself-- that is my job, oh wait, no that is not right.
P.S. Jung sucks.