Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The theme for the present is better out than in. Some of this is not new spew, but if you come here to read this anyway, you already know that. And the fact that anyone reads this is not even the point.

I like my job. I can't say i will ever "love" it, because it's a job and by nature, it does not love me in return. But I like it. it's been working for me.

I do get tired of hearing the same sentiment over and over though. I realize just how much our society is concerned with appearance and facade by reading entries every day. I know that i am reading the thoughts of one person at a time about another or others, and that their view is not a complete picture. Even if i was to read every entry in someone's guestbook I would not really know the person, not even with a picture and a long obituary.

But the things that set me off are the same things all the time. The deceased always had a smile on their face. No one ever sees them not smiling. Even when they feel bad they smile. Even when they don't want to they are smiling.

Now, it's one thing to be optimistic. It's quite another to "smile" all the time if your feelings don't warrant it. As someone who has worked retail and done theatre, I understand the reality and sometimes even the importance of masks. In fact, the scariest kind of masks to me are the ones with a permanent smile. It's an ingrained thing almost - for an unmoving never changing smile to be creepy. A smile that does not change is not genuine, it's a ruse and an illusion and a danger even because there is no telling what is really behind it.

To say that someone smiles all the time doesn't make me think of healthy behaviour. I've had to smile so many times when I was miserable or angry because that's what was expected of me. I was not allowed to just feel what I was feeling because I would be judged by others, or others would feel the need to cheer me up simply because I was down, or because it would be bad for business. I've had to pretend so often - more often that I ever did when I was onstage in high school to the point that I don't even know what I'm feeling anymore because I'm too busy fumbling to keep my mask on. I distracted my emotions with thoughts- this became a filter through which I could express them without having to distress others around me or fit in. The problem became however, that by not expressing what I need to that everything got buried. In my thoughts. in my actions. I made more and more masks and they were layered so thickly that every time I take one off i still can't breathe because I've got another one on that i need to remove. The emotions affected my physical self as well. During the most stressful times of my life I learned how to not sleep properly, how to eat poorly and gain weight, how to get sick with high frequency when in my childhood was never sick a day - even when wished I could be just to stay home.how to talk down to myself for these behaviours, feeding a vicious cycle that only led deeper to more negative emotions.

The result of this? A dislike of one's body, ones self as a person, one's lack of faith in one's own faculties and abilities. Doubt, criticism, blame, shame, guilt and fear. if that was a poker hand of dysfunction, I'd have the whole pot.

All this, because of a mask, a facade of a smile that didn't really exist. When i I wanted was to cry or throw things or scream for five minutes straight or at the very least not pretend that I was something i was not.

So when I hear someone always smiled, I cringe. Sure, it's possible they could have been a happy person. but no one, NO ONE smiles every minute of the day. And even if you see them that way, that does not represent what could be on the inside. No one wants to be drowned by anothers emotions, surely. But to deny that they are there, to deny that there are other emotions, especially the negative ones- the ones that need most to set free is unsafe and insane. No one should have to compromise their emotional health to please others. When people ask how are you half the time, they don't really want to hear the true answer. They expect "fine" or "good". They don't want to hear if you've had a bad day, or that you're not feeling quite right. Honesty is not valued the way it should be in the realm of emotions.

Another thing I tend to hear a lot in my readings is how someone thoughtof other before themselves, or they took care of others needs before their own, or they cared more for others than themselves.

At first glance, most people would think this is a noble sentiment, and perhaps most times it is meant as such. The statements are meant to read as "this person cared and served others." I would much rather hear that, because the implications of what people usually say, turn my stomach and once again make me shake my head at what society values.

To always put others needs, wants and emotions before one's self, and to care more about others than one's self is basically a form of self denial and hatred. if someone really does go around trying to help and please others, and is doing it because they want to be well thought of, or because it is what is expected, and thinks that to do anything for themselves is selfish and to be looked down upon, then they have some severe problems.

The posts upset me because it sounds like these people are denying themselves, denying the value of their own lives. That they have to drop everything for anyone who calls without thinking twice about the fact at they might be hungry, tired, sad, or need help themselves. How on earth can any person help another without first being a stable, individual? You can't truly help another person with their problems when you are burnt out, denying your own emotions, burying baggage, and trying to please everyone who asks something of you. The idea thatto love oneself is to be selfish is deplorable and very very wrong. the whole idea of love thy neighbor as yourself means that first of all, you have to LOVE YOURSELF and feel that your life has meaning and value, that your needs and wants are important. the idea is to treat others as you want to be treated, not run yourself ragged trying to make sure everyone else is happy before you even consider how you are feeling.

People who truly don't care about themselves are the ones who wind up depressed, suicidal or worse. they not only don't care for themselves, but they think that no one else does or even should and that their very existence is a burden on others.

it's like whack- a-mole. You can't possibly have time to think because you're too busy with the damn hammer, and if you think for one second that as soon as you have everyone else taken care of that you'll have time for yourself- you'll see another mole pop up.

It just seems like people have this idea that total self sacrifice is noble and expected. Sure, it's all good to give of ourselves, but not to our own exclusion. We are the ones who spend the most time with us every day and if we don't have the energy or care for ourselves, then our acts towards others lose their nobility. it's like the mom who sacrifices her dreams to have a family and support them, then pushes her kids to succeed so she can live vicariously through them then wondering why she stills feels empty and why her kids are annoyed with her.

I know the things that people type aren't always literal, but I see the same things so often that I can't help thinking "do people actually buy this crap?"

I've been trying to take out my own trash, and i'm all to easily seeing that other people's cans are overloaded with garbage.

I tired of the pervasive idea that the individual does not matter. Our world is made of many individuals, and if it was true that the individual was unimportant, then our whole society would break down piece by piece. I'm sick of the "there's no I in team atttude" which is demeaning, belittling and only contributing to the general self loathing that seems to be widely permitted.

A team only functions if all it's members are in tact.

How does one undo years of bad conditioning and negative programming fed by an unhealthy society/media/childhood experience?

Slowly and painfully. And one step at a time.


Blogger sterno said...

Wow so many things to comment on here.

On masks, I know what you mean. I've long struggled to figure out who I am, what I really want, etc, because I've spent so much time and effort on building that identity around the needs of others. I suppose who I am is some composite of all those masks, but I don't know that I'll ever find it. Of course I'm not anything for more than a moment, so maybe I shouldn't try to find it.

On smiling all the time, yeah of course nobody smiles ALL the time. But I guess it really reflects more of a sense of how people perceived them. I'd probably get similar comments upon my demise, and yeah I do smile quite a bit, but definitely not all the time. But it is true that, either way, a smile doesn't necessarily say much about the person and what they may have felt.

For people being selfless, it's worth noting hat there's really no such thing. Selflessness is about doing things for others that make you feel good. It feels good to give gifts and to do favors for people, and that's part of what keeps the fabric of society running. If we didn't enjoy that, we wouldn't do it.

Now, there is the kind of selflessness that's dysfunctional as well. Where one believes you don't deserve things in this life and thus take many burdens upon you that you shouldn't.

I think when it comes to eulogizing people, the reality is that people, in time, tend to be sentimental. We tend to remember the best parts of people and try to put aside the worst parts. If you know somebody well enough to eulogize them, they likely had some quality you appreciated.

I'm a dick. I'm selfish. Yet I somehow don't think there'd be a long line of people saying that about me when I'm pushing up the daises. If they did, I'd consider it refreshing if I was alive enough to care.

Of a similar nature: photos. You don't see a lot of photos of people at their worst. Well maybe in art photos, etc. But go through the family photo album and it's nothing but smiling faces no matter how miserable the family was. Maybe it's superficial, but I suppose the glass is half full version is that even in a miserable family they had some moments of joy.

12:51 AM  

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