I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my weird spiritual journey lately,
Many years ago, I almost became a Mormon. Coming from a family where my brothers did a lot of alcohol and drugs, I admired the clean lifestyle they lived. It was a definite step above what I was raised with.
The reason I did not become a Mormon was that their canned presentations were not honest. I knew what they really believed because one of my best friends at the time was a Mormon. They truly believe that once you are married in the temple and are righteous, you and your spouse become gods and goddesses of your own planet. My friend and I would imagine what color we would make the leaves of the trees. The missionaries were talking about golden plates and other strange and unlikely things. Also, one day I was sitting in the hallway of the church and saw all these women walking past me who were 400+ lbs. It was surreal. Suddenly, I knew what they did instead of drinking and doing drugs: they ate.
Over the years, I have been attracted to many philosophies: Protestant Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, New Age-y stuff. Some part of my soul is hungry for something. Maybe forever.
What I have learned is simple: philosophies and beliefs have consequences. And you don’t usually see the real consequences until after you sign on the dotted line. They make sure of that, It is not until you take things to their natural logical extreme that you see the real agenda.
Take Nazism, for example. It promised pride for humiliated Germans who got their asses hand to them on a platter after WW I. It got people back to work. It was exciting. And many of its ideas sounded remarkably reasonable and productive. Lately, I’ve read about recent white nationalists that are quoting things straight out of the third Reich. And their arguments are very persuasive–for those folks that don’t know the real-life results.
That stuff about the “final solution”? They wouldn’t really do that, would they? They would and they did. Auschwitz and Birkenau are real.
My point is that you have to take things to their logical extremes to see just what is really going on. Follow the money. See who benefits–and who is ethnically cleansed.
My suspicion, politics-wise, is that today’s Trumpers are tomorrow’s Germans of the 50’s and 60’s. Ten years from now, Trump will be long out of office, but his living supporters will have to justify their blind allegiance to a man intent on destroying our institutions of democracy. They will say, “But we didn’t know.” And the rest of us will say, “Because you did not want to. Period.”
Becoming a Mormon might not have been the worst idea in the world, given my upbringing. But it would have created a lot of future problems. It would have met some very real needs. Funny how temporary solutions have ways of becoming permanent problems.
The same with Balanced View. Everything it says sounds good–and it may be exactly what some people need. But, at the same time, its literature is brazenly honest about normalizing everything. Groups of humans require consistent rules that apply to all equally. Those rules can be called morals, ethics, codes of conduct, etc. If everything is okay, then so is ethnic cleansing, lynching, embezzlement. The ends justify the means.
It can all sound so good. Until you are the one embezzled from–or ethnically cleansed.
I have started psychoanalysis. This is a better fit for me than cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Don’t get me wrong. Coping beats not coping. I just don’t feel that CBT addresses the real issues. It can show you how to handle your feelings in a more constructive manner and perhaps not kill your boss on a bad day, but it doesn’t get at the root of why you feel a certain way in the first place. It has abundant resources for finding various alternative behaviors, support systems, etc. However, it may simply aid in learning how to react more “normally” in abnormal situations.
In my opinion, the glory and horror of humanity is our ability to adapt to anything and everything. We can change our environments for the better or worse and children can adapt to virtually anything whatsoever. This is why addiction is a family disease. This is also the problem of abusive relationships. The abuser never starts out beating his girlfriend. It starts with yelling, and then a slap, and by then the girlfriend has zero self-confidence and will sometimes die emotionally and/or spiritually. That is, if the boyfriend doesn’t physically kill her in a fit of rage. We adapt. Adaptation is not always a good thing.
I’ve been blogging a lot lately about this new-agey group I attend. At one point, I said that I did not want to be interrupted when I speak. I was told how inappropriate and judgmental I was. I came in the next week and told that person that their attitude was toxic. I would do it again. If wanting to be treated with a basic level of courtesy is “inappropriate” in this group, then my participation in this group needs to end immediately. The core value is non-negotiable; my participation in the group is highly negotiable.
I spent some time with the leader of the group and she said that that lady (who ran out crying after I said her attitude was toxic) was struggling because of her “Balanced View” (BV) perspective and how everything in that philosophy is just “data.” I have since done some research on BV.
BV looks like the next stage in human development, but it is not. It is amoral. There is no sense of justice. It talks about human relationships without mentioning ethics. It is all about how things are now. The idea is that everything we encounter is just data. Information for us to use. It talks about normalizing everything. George Orwell could not have written it any better. In my opinion, BV is demonic, delusional, and destructive. I am not kidding. This stuff can be easily used for evil.
If you take their philosophy to its logical extreme, you easily see the inherent evil of BV. The holocaust? Just data. Child molesters? Just data. Lynchings? Just data.
The reason my friend ran from the room crying wasn’t because she was a poor BV practitioner; it was because BV doesn’t actually work in the real world.
BV is the ultimate in moral relativism. This woman is one of the sweetest, most good-hearted people I have ever known. But moral relativism simply does not work. And it never will. The most ardent moral relativist becomes a strict moral absolutist the very nanosecond they feel wronged or treated unfairly in any way.
You have to understand how far left on the political spectrum the women in this group are. They talk about social justice all the time: racism, criminal justice reform, LGBT rights, etc. I don’t ever want to hear about any of that stuff again if it is all “just data.”
Talking to the leader was very enlightening to me. She said that what I perceived wasn’t even real. I remember thinking, “What an odd way to be invalidated.” She also talked about the Matrix and how everything may just be an illusion.
The problem is simple: even if we are just in the Matrix, we still have to function within the Matrix. We still have to get up and go to work in the Matrix. We still have to get our cars fixed in the Matrix. We still have to make our rent or mortgage payment in the Matrix. Even if you believe you will be instantly released from the Matrix upon death, you still have to function within it in the meantime.
I identify as Buddhist many times. Buddhism believes that everything is ultimately an illusion. Yet it has a high ethical/moral code. Why bother with ethics/morals when it’s all illusory? Because, in the meantime, we are stuck within the illusion of consensus reality.
I believe that our culture has lost its moral bearings. Because of white supremacy and misogyny and rules only applying to some people, a contempt has developed for all rules.
The problem is that every group, association, culture, business, school, or whatever has to have some code of conduct and meaningful consequences for those who refuse to conform. That is called “morality.”
Conservative Christians are hypocrites for supporting Trump. Hypocrisy is when you claim certain values and then do not live up to them.
This is the problem on the political left: a refusal to accept that behavior has consequences. Anal sex is a fabulous way to get AIDS. Marijuana inhibits the intellectual growth of adolescents. Drinking leads to cirrhosis. You can make something legal, but you can’t make it healthy, safe, or non-addictive. Reality always, 100% of the time, rules and comes back to bite you in the ass. People on the left are not hypocrites because they claim no morals in the first place. They are simply amoral. Loving feelings are not a substitute for common sense courtesy.
I want something better than what our culture seems to offer. Adaptation is so not the goal. Becoming better adjusted to insanity is not a worthy goal. I am not interested in spending my remaining days trying to cope with stupidity. If that makes me “judgmental,” my I become more so every passing day.
I had a psychoanalyst appointment today. I think she finds me highly entertaining. I guess that’s good.
What I am really working on is figuring out what my issues are versus other people’s. There can be either/or or both/and. It’s not all cut-and-dried or black-and-white.
We all work out our issues on each other and I don’t think there is a way to avoid that.
I have thought a lot about going back to the meeting. I understand that I misread everything about the meeting. The meeting changed and my needs stopped getting met, but I was too overwhelmed dealing with Barry and then his loss to even begin to notice.
What I have realized is that my bottom line has not changed: if it is “inappropriate” for me to say that I wish to be able to speak without interruption, then I am done with this meeting. If that makes me come off as arrogant or condescending, then I plan on being arrogant and condescending for the rest of my life–and proud of it. I realized that I have had this problem only with this group. Nowhere else in life have I encountered a group where sticking up for oneself was so disapproved of. That does not make my expectation wrong or off, only theirs.
I am trying very hard to take responsibility for my stuff, but only my stuff. I am looking hard at my own expectations and behavior. What’s reasonable and what’s not? Where do I want to invest my time and energy into?
But some things do not change. There is never a point negotiating non-negotiables. And you have to know where yours are. Apologizing to keep the peace might be a way to keep a job that one desperately needs (something that I, thank goodness, have never had to do), but it is a poor road map to healthy friendships. Friendships are based on common values and if sticking up for a primary value is “inappropriate”, it is the friendship that needs to be questioned, not the primary value. Somewhere in the Old Testament is a proverb that applies here: “Unless two be agreed, how can they walk together?” That’s where I am.
I have been through the emotional wringer in the past few weeks.
I misread everything about the new-agey group I belong to. It turns out that the women in this group think it is a normal part of conversation to interrupt each other, that it is a sign of enthusiasm. And they thought I was using the group inappropriately for therapeutic purposes. Basically, the rules had changed and I had been oblivious.Therefore, in this context, I was wrong on oh so many levels.
I was at work one day and saw some random guy and it hit me–I don’t have these problems with men. Maybe it’s from having three brothers and no sisters. I called out what I consider to be toxic behavior (criticizing me for stating that I expect to be able to speak without interruption as a matter of common courtesy). Men are more direct. The irony is that the reason they like me at work is precisely because I am so respectful to others. My concept of courtesy and respect match society’s more than this group’s.
I can apologize for my presentation, how I said what I said. I cannot apologize for what I said in good conscience. I waited too long to say something. I was oblivious to my environment. I was on automatic pilot. I was wrongly assuming the old rules applied.
I am finding a more psychoanalytic therapist and trying to deal with my issues. I was subconsciously projecting a lot of crap onto the group. The only way not to do so is to become more aware of where my behavior is coming from.
To me, awareness is everything. You can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons or all the wrong things for all the right reasons. I think we come to earth to increase awareness.
I have more days behind me than ahead of me. I have to carefully decide on the groups I belong to. The definition of respect comes from the consensus of the group. I totally misread the group. An uber-liberal female-only group does not operate on the same rules as the rest of society. It’s all about not hurting people’s feelings because we are all doing the best we know how. I understand that…BUT a lack of agreed-upon rules ends up creating a situation where some people’s feelings matter more than others’. The rules are not evenly applied and therefore null and void. Only some people’s feelings are respected. Instead of being an old boys’ network, it is an old girls’ network, which is not superior in any way. I will probably stay with this group because I do love the people and now know the rules. But I now understand why the group shrank down to five people and includes zero men. Most people will not say why they are leaving; they just silently leave. I’ve seen it in companies and churches. Why argue? Good luck with that. I did not pay attention to the shrinking size of the group nor the shift in rules. I was on automatic pilot.
That’s what I am working on: being aware of where my stuff is coming from and making conscious, deliberate decisions. I have emotional issues, such as crippling shame and the like, but my mind is sharp and I don’t want to be tossed about by subconscious issues or find myself sunk in a situational morass of my inability to have or enforce boundaries. Life is too short.
Perhaps I made a huge mistake. But I can’t imagine regretting it.
I called the leader of the retreat group and told her how frustrated I was at getting interrupted for the umpteenth time. She said she would remind everyone of the rules and that the rude person was never present when talking about the rules previously.
At the blessing, she talked about the rules and I spoke up and said that I felt that getting interrupted was rude and disrespectful, looking right at Kim. She felt uncomfortable and left.
Once she was gone, another member of the group said that Kim had had a hard life and that I was being judgmental. I said that not getting interrupted was pretty basic stuff and non-negotiable. My mistake was in not bringing up the issue until there were wisps of steam coming out of my ears. I really should have addressed the issue months ago.
So the next day, Friday, the group leader texts me about if I would be willing to meet with Kim and her for some conflict resolution. I said okay, but I’ve been thinking about it and the only conflict I see is the conflict between Kim’s behavior versus that of normal adult conversations. If the leader expects me to apologize for having some very basic expectations of courtesy, she is going to be extremely disappointed. I owe no one an apology for not wanting to be interrupted rudely and disrespectfully. It is not my attitude that needs to change; it is Kim’s behavior. If the conversation is all about Kim’s feelings, I am done.
I challenge anyone to find a group, organization, church, business, or club that has zero behavioral expectations of its members. The people in the group kept talking about how informal we are. Interrupting people is not “informal.” It is a simple lack of respect. Period.
I come from a family with no boundaries. I have spent the past thirty years of my life working hard to develop relationships based on mutual respect. I love these people. My problem with these people is that, as is common with liberals, they are all emotion and no accountability. My problem with conservatives is that they do not understand how their behavior affects groups of people corporately. My problem with liberals is that they have no concept of personal responsibility. Liberals get the big picture better than conservatives, but conservatives understand the little, more individual, picture better. And so I blend in nowhere. What we do affects both ourselves and others, individually and in groups. I don’t want to lose these friends, but I won’t apologize for having some very minimal standards of conduct. I have set the bar extraordinarily low and they are still limbo-ing under it.
“Judgmental” is the ultimate insult in the liberal world. I will wear it as a badge of honor. Having good, sound judgment used to be hailed as a positive attribute. It still is a good thing, even if some do not understand that. I am glad I have enough common sense to have good judgment. No apology necessary.
I use this blog to discuss weird themes that pop up in my life.
Perhaps I should just stop talking to people. Let me explain. I am talking about, specifically, my dad and some odd woman in my blessing group, whom I will call Kim.
I’ve talked about my dad before. He has strong narcissistic tendencies. He pushes, pushes, pushes people and finds it fun. I realized a couple months ago that he completely lacks empathy, a basic human necessity.
Then there’s Kim. I have no idea what her problem is with me, but she seems to have to “one-up” me all the time. One thing you have to understand about me is that I am not an attention hog in any way. I don’t even participate in probably 90% of the conversations around me. I have hearing issues and do not need to get in the middle of other people’s issues. Perhaps there is no way of avoiding it. I don’t know.
At the retreat, she got really weird. There was a conversation about East Indians and immigration. I related something my Indian friend told me and she blurted out, “You’re wrong!” I said, “All I’m saying is what my friend told me.” It wasn’t even my opinion, so I cannot be wrong. My Indian friend could be wrong, I suppose. Later, she asked me a question and when I answered her, she told me about her experience, which in her mind exceeded mine. Uhhh…. Okay. Then, yesterday, she emailed the group a picture of this t-shirt saying that “When W was in office, I wanted to be smarter. When Obama was in office, I wanted to be better. With Trump in office, I want to be Canadian.” I responded, “What a funny shirt, eh?” making fun of Canadian and Yooper talk. Her response was something like, “Actually, it was a commentary on…..” I have tried to relate to her as an equal human and even have a sense of humor about it. She clearly wants a relationship with me based on her imaginary superiority to me. I have decided to basically not speak to her anymore and to delete any further emails she may ever send me. She seems to think of herselfas a leader,but I am no follower.
I am reading this book, “Enough about you, Let’s talk about me” by Dr. Les Carter. It is helpful in understanding my dad. But one of the pieces of advice is to only talk with certain people after you have decided beforehand what you will say and not say and what you want out of the conversation. Period. No automatic pilot allowed, basically. This sounds exhausting and like a throwback to my early twenties when I would decide beforehand what I would discuss with my family before I called or visited. The decision had to be pre-made.
Being that perpetually aware of what I am saying and thinking at all times is beyond tiring.
I spent a chunk of today trying to contact a therapist who could help me with my early-childhood issues. One said she was busy, but she gave me a referral.
I am determined to move forward with my life. It makes me sad that I have no real opportunity to be myself. Even talking with people is just not worth it sometimes.
On the upside, I got a call today from work and will work a few extra hours tomorrow. I am looking for people that appreciate me, while not feeling threatened by my having a brain.
I have been trying to make the sub-conscious conscious. Being kicked in the butt by my totally sub-conscious behaviors (automatic pilot) is not fun in the slightest.
I have read a lot about synchronicity. I also have oracle cards. I also think we can encounter seemingly random things that speak to us. We can call that “synchronicity.” But that thing may only be meaningful to us because our subconscious is screaming at us and we see what is percolating just below our conscious surface.
The human brain is a meaning-making machine. We humans will see three dots and connect them into a triangle. We look at a piece of toast and see the Virgin Mary or a potato and see a dead president. Animals would simply eat the food and be happy to do so.
Our experiences affect everything we perceive. We see the same facts, but our personal experiences make us connect the dots differently. Or we can be in denial about something and be missing a whole lot of dots. Just because Persona A doesn’t see the dots doesn’t make Person B blind to them. I see this in dysfunctional family dynamics and in politics. If you have enough dots, you can see the sub-conscious processes of others. That is a tad scary. That person can say you are delusional, but if you can seriously predict what they will do next better than they can, reality gives a clear indication of just who it is that is delusional.
It’s always easier to see the sub-conscious processes of others. I think the idea of oracle cards, synchronicity, and an endless variety of ways of getting off automatic pilot is to make visible the invisible. But un-burying potential trauma seems inherently risky. I hope my sub-conscious gives me reality in bite-size pieces that I can handle. That may be asking a bit much.