I hope you have had the opportunity to spend time with family – both the biological and chosen types…
We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.
-- André Berthiaume
-- André Berthiaume
I am firmly convinced there is a conspiracy out to get me. This is true, don’t look at me that way, I ain’t crazy! I know, for example, that there is a covert association of elderly women out there somewhere whose solitary mission is to send its members to block my way on the streets and on subway platforms. And don’t get me started on that group of train conductors whose mission statement is to get me stuck in between subway stations and close subway doors right in my face.
Then there’s that damned OAA (Overly-Analytical Association) women’s group, hell-bent on sending me women who “think” through even mundane stuff (like sex, for example) to the point where it is isn’t even fun anymore! And don’t get me started on the “Evil Parents” consortium that determined to have me born into a poor household headed by traumatized parents themselves barely out of their teens.
It’s a conspiracy! It’s true, I tell ya!
I’m exaggerating, of course, but for a long time I took things very personal, as if life had somehow conspired to fuck me without the dignity of a kiss. While I knew that old ladies weren’t organizing against me (as if I were that important), my reactions were just the same -- flagrant anger and bitterness that I dressed up in a cynically chic “that’s my life” outerwear. It’s considered chic and cool to wear our wounds nonchalantly -- you hear people constantly say stupid shit like, “Life sucks… ” as if it were all predetermined.
There’s a fairly erotic scene in one of the Lethal Weapon films in which Mel Gibson’s and Rene Russo’s characters compare scars as a prelude to sex. “I have this scar,” says Mel, and Rene counters with, “Ha! That’s nothing, look at this one!” They go on like this until both have managed to take off all their clothes in their mad dash to outdo one another.
It’s funny a funny scene, but like with a lot of fiction there’s a fair amount of truth to it. As a society, we have developed what the medical intuitive, Carolyn Myss, calls a dysfunctional “language of intimacy.” An intimacy that is based, she goes on to say, on “Woundology.” Briefly, woundology is recognizing that we have come to an important insight, namely that we need to bring out into the open our secrets – wounds -- discussing them in a healthy manner. This is a very powerful and fairly recent development. What has happened, however, is that we have gotten stuck on our wounds -- a “woundology.” We have become addicted to our wounds. We have come to be defined by our wounds.
You see it all the time. You meet someone, and before you even get to know them, you’re privy to some pretty much intimate details of that person. This is what happens when we merely admit or acknowledge our shortcomings, or wounds. Everything becomes filtered through the perspective of an incest survivor, or a widow, or an addict, an abused child, etc. Please, don’t get me wrong here: it’s extremely important that we bring into the light that which resides in the shadows. And many, many people keep all this shit stuffed inside, in the process causing both physical and psychological dis-ease, but that is only part of the issue. There are other steps we have to take.
If only I had a better childhood… If only I didn't have my hardships…
This over identification and obsession with our wounds is so powerful that we actually become attached to them. In fact, many people don’t really want to heal or change, they’re too enamored of their wounds to do that. I have a relative who’s always harping on her parents and how her parents are the cause for her inability to relate, to be a good parent herself, the rain, and the car that just cut her off… well you get the idea. When I challenge this belief system, she freaks, or she just stops listening. The end result is that she’s an essentially unhappy person who is infecting her own children with the same behavior pattern of learned unhappiness.
Take away the wound, we seem to be saying, and what do we become? I’m no longer just a recovering addict? I’m not just an incest survivor? OMG!!!
Acceptance is the gateway toward forgiveness. I am not speaking here of passive acceptance to how things were or are. I am also not speaking here of forgiveness in the way we normally see it. Acceptance in this context is coming to the realization of things how they are (as opposed to how we want them to be). Forgiveness in this context is not forgiving others, but forgiving ourselves. When we cling to our wounds, we are actually punishing ourselves because we do not see ourselves as worthy or whole. When we accept the facts of our lives, we can then move towards maturity and the development of true happiness. We all deal with hardships; you are not that unique, really. And life sometimes isn’t fair. As my mother used to say, “You want fairness, go to kindergarten.” She’s right, life isn’t about fairness, it’s about reality.
So, in a sense, it would be correct to say that we need to love those aspects of ourselves we like least in order to move beyond our wounds to the space where healing begins. Acceptance opens the door to forgiveness which opens the door to Love, which in turn leads toward integration, healing, and wholeness.
Many of us like to say we’ve moved past all this, but I still see the bitterness, unhappiness, and tendency toward blame. Can you raise your hand? I mean, I see that tendency within myself. I especially see it in the people who often say something like, “Yeah, people need to get over it... ” or some bullshit like that. It’s not about getting over it, it’s about integration, not negation.
Then again, maybe there is something to this conspiracy theory thingee... naw! LOL
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…