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 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.
I do know it.
Doesn't mean that, when I'm doing everything I can to beat back certain feelings, that reminders are welcome.
I don't forget those who care.