About to depart on the longest flight I’ve ever been on…heading to New Zealand with a stop in Australia first. From the first flight till I get there will be about 24 hours of straight travel. I’m quite excited about the potential for adventure but I hope this time my airline doesn’t strand me in another country.
We all experience life differently. Our perceptions become our reality, our truth. This opens the door for many misunderstandings, arguments, and hurt feelings. We see it happen all around us. I’m not talking about fake news, that’s intentional manipulation, but I am referring to those times in life where you seemingly can’t see eye to eye with another person regarding your interactions because you both think you’re the one who knows the “truth” and you’re both right, but also both wrong.
When I was born my father had to leave for nearly the first year of my life, he was in another city looking for stable work to support the family. His truth was that he was doing what he needed to do to take care of his family. My mom felt abandoned by him and his family, even though they were still together, because she was left there to work and care for a newborn alone. That’s the first environment I ever experienced, one where I was surrounded by feelings of abandonment, of self pity, of not being worth the effort (his mom had stayed with the women his brother had kids with when they had babies but refused to help my mom) of not being good enough. Yeah I was an infant but my tiny growing brain heard the phone calls, heard my mom talking down to herself, saw her crying, felt her pain. That was my first lesson and no one realized it, that was my perception, that became my truth. Men leave, you can only count on yourself, they say they love you but when things get hard they run away.
As soon as my dad did get a job he moved my mom and I down to be with him. They were together until the day he died in 2015 and my conscious brain has no recollection of that first year. I would’ve never guessed I’d have long buried fears of abandonment waiting to sabotage my relationships. But I do.
When I was around 5, I remember there was a night where my mom was at work and my dad and I were sleeping. Suddenly I woke up, I heard a banging noise coming from somewhere. I thought maybe it was tree branches outside or something. I tried to go back to sleep but the banging continued intermittently. After awhile my dad came sleepily into my room and yelled at me to stop kicking the wall. I told him it wasn’t me. He didn’t believe me and I was completely shocked by that. I didn’t lie to him and to not be believed by my dad felt like a huge betrayal to me. He went back in his room. The banging resumed. He came back in and yelled at me again. Once more I told him it wasn’t me, I offered my explanation about trees. He still didn’t believe me. I was even more hurt and confused. Why was he so sure I was lying, there were many other reasons this could be happening, why did it have to be coming from me, why did he have to think I would be so disrespectful? As he started to turn away to go back to his room the banging started up again. This time he could see it wasn’t me causing it and then he told me to stay in my room while he investigated. Turns out it was my mom, downstairs, banging her cane on the wall as a joke. She got to work and they told her they were overstaffed so she came back home early. My dad never did apologize about not believing me.
From that moment on, whenever I would tell someone something true and they refused to believe me it brought all those same feelings back. It took me 30 years to figure out the initial source of the pain though. I can usually handle people attacking me for things that aren’t true and I’m always willing to admit to my mistakes and faults even though it’s hard to do sometimes. But when someone attacks my integrity it’s like a knife through my heart. I feel helpless and afraid, I don’t understand why someone would and it really fucks with me.
We all have events, incidents, and misunderstanding that happen when we’re young. They shape how we see things, they shape our definitions, they shape our truth. As we grow up we start to realize that other people don’t have the same truth as us about certain things. What is important to one person might not matter to someone else (wait this sounds like you’re talking about opinions vs truth) or one person could interpret things literally and another person more figuratively and to each person their definition (or opinion) on a topic is their truth. This is why we have so many arguments amongst people on so many topics. Everyone is so caught up in their truth they refuse to acknowledge anyone else’s. They don’t often stop to wonder what the source of their truth is either. So round and round we go arguing about who’s right, who’s telling the truth and everyone loses.
What happens when we change the way we think about truth? What happens when we allow ourselves to be open to the concept of individual truths that don’t negate either side, when we allow ourselves to believe that other people aren’t lying just because they think differently? What happens when we stop convincing ourselves that other people’s feelings (if they aren’t what we want them to be) are invalid and ours are more important always?
I think we’d all be better off if we did, but that’s just my truth I guess.
I haven’t hid my opinion about the state of our society. Nor have I tried to pretend I think things are ok. I admit that sometimes it gets to be too much for me and I question my ability to handle the shit show that is life in Western culture, a culture that goes against the majority of my beliefs and what’s important to me.
Even when you find someone who claims to be on the same page as you regarding values and goals it just takes one misunderstanding to cause a rift. Rifts where only one side wants to repair don’t get repaired. Society has done a bang up job of making sure we’re all damaged at a young age. That our priorities are set when we’re too innocent to realize that they don’t have our best interests at heart. They train the lizard brain and then we never question who is really controlling us.
No matter how much work you’ve put in to understand your own mind and motives, no matter how honest you are, no matter how quickly you communicate and no matter how vulnerable you’re willing to be…it doesn’t help if everyone else is still plodding along letting their insecurities run their life. It doesn’t stop your lizard brain from sneaking in some sabotage of its own.
So then what’s the point you may ask. Why even bother if everyone is just going to disappoint you, and lie to you, and lash out at you? You could do everything right and still lose so why play?
Lately it’s been a real struggle to fight against the very loud voices that whisper about futility. Add in grief and loss, add in the apathy of our leaders, add in every attempt to rectify things being unsuccessful and you find yourself in a precarious situation. You find yourself in that place where you can’t access anything good. You can’t feel love or happiness or even interest in or for anything or anyone. It just seems easier to give in, to give up. Logic gets locked out and you just hear negativity. It’s dangerous in this place, you don’t always make it out alive.
I’m still stuck in this mad world, wish I wasn’t, but I haven’t found the door yet. I think there’s probably a lot of people locked in here with me but we rarely bother to interact or even notice the pain other people are in. How do we change things so that people don’t have to feel trapped and alone down here? How do we build the love and burn the fear?