The Problem with Self-Awareness
Wise words carved into the temple at Delphi. Yet, here we are centuries later still in the dark about who we are. As a society, we live in serious denial. We self-medicate with drugs and distraction, and I don’t mean just illegal drugs. Caffeine and alcohol are both highly addictive drugs used for escape or for “coping.” Television and video games and even (or especially) the internet provide endless distraction, keeping us in the dark. Or, rather, allowing us to keep our fears and issues in the dark while we focus our minds on something else.
But what happens when you do become self-aware? When you find the courage to face your own fears and demons? When you face the sometimes dark reality of your issues and begin to seriously work on them?
You feel alone because so few people actually do that.
Then, as I’ve learned through personal experience, you become an easy blame target for those so deep in denial they think they are “normal.”
Funny word, normal.
With modern psychology, just about everything has been pathologized.
If you don’t have a diagnosis of your very own, it’s likely because you’ve never been to a psychiatrist or therapist to get one or (if you have been, it’s) because you’ve buried your issues so deep they haven’t overtly affected your life. Well, of course they have affected your life, but you have been unable to admit that, always blaming the other person or the world or your job. Even worse, you haven’t noticed they’ve affected your life because all you have ever known is dysfunction.
If all you know is dysfunction, would that be considered “normal”?
If mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are diagnosed (notice I did not say present) in over 60% of the population, is that now “normal”?
New red flag for me: when someone says that they’re lucky because they’re perfectly “normal,” i.e. have escaped any emotional or mental issues.
Through my experience, these people are more dangerous and drama-producing than those who admit to being bipolar, having a panic or personality disorder, or suffering from acute anxiety or depression.
Because the more you get to know these “normal” people, the more symptoms of one or more disorders emerge. The difference: one person owns their issues and are actively working on improving them, themselves, and their relationships, and the other person hides their issues in the dark.
Picture emotional baggage. We start accumulating it around two years old. Think of a person who is open about struggling with depression and anxiety. Now picture them with several large bags at their feet. With them come these issues. They may look sad or they might be smiling. Life always contains ups and downs, so it would depend on when you catch them. The lit room behind them is empty.
Now picture the person who claims to have no baggage. Picture them standing beneath a spotlight with no baggage around them. They’re smiling and proud. You don’t see the room behind them because it’s in the dark. The light is on the face they show the world. But if one were to turn on the light to the room, one would find the entire room filled with piles of teetering boxes. Rotting corpses falling out of the over-filled closet at the back of the room. Windows blacked out so as not to let in any light, because out there is reality, and they must avoid that at all costs.
There is the difference between those who are self-aware and those who aren’t.
In my recent relationship, he said that he was lucky to have escaped any mental disorder. He also said he was “about as drama free as they come” on his OKCupid profile as well as saying how seriously he took responsibility, so he avoided it at all costs. Written in a charming way, but he is quite serious about not taking any responsibility. For anything.
Looking back, it’s rather comical to know he thinks of himself as “drama-free.”
As that wonderful picture that circulates around Facebook and the internet shows, those who claim to be drama-free or intolerant of drama are usually the ones causing most of it.
A little misunderstanding was turned into a week-long painfest because he refused to face any type of conflict.
Um. Hello. Relationship.
But in running from it, he exacerbated the entire thing, triggered and amplified both our fears, and ultimately caused the ending of the relationship. Over a tiny mistake. Ridiculous, really. Painfully absurd.
But, imagine that, I digress.
Throughout the relationship, as previously mentioned, I took on more anxiety because he kept me believing that I was too sensitive (*cough* gaslighting *cough*) and brought “too much anxiety into the relationship,” because it certainly wasn’t him causing the fear. No sir. No way. No how. It was all me. All the time.
Why was it so easy for him to blame it all on me? Why was I so ready to accept said blame?
Because I was upfront about my struggle with anxiety from the beginning. It was out in the open. It was there to be easily pointed at, blamed. So anything that came up was due to my “illness.” Anything that was short of perfectly and genuinely happy 100% of the time was my fault. My problem. Me causing stress in his happy, carefree, irresponsible life.
But we don’t strive for self-improvement for others; we strive for self-improvement for ourselves. When we know ourselves, we can begin to better ourselves. We can cause less pain through our growing consciousness.
As Eckhart Tolle says, Only someone who’s unconscious will use and manipulate another person, but then only an unconscious person can be used and manipulated.
As well as we thing we know ourselves, there is always another layer to examine. Although countless friends, readers, counselors, and other professionals have said how impressed they am with my level of self-awareness, honesty, and integrity. They speak to how rare and precious that is…
Yet, I allowed another abuser in very deep and didn’t even recognize the abuse as such. My “allowing” such a person in my life doesn’t make that person any less an abuser, a person who does others serious damage because of his inability and/or unwillingness to face his own fears and pain, thereby perpetuating the damage onto others. No. He is still a predator.
But by “allowing” the abuser in and by not recognizing his behavior as abuse until it was way too late, it shines a very big spotlight on my own level of self-awareness. Another layer uncovered. I learned something new about myself through the pain, which is unfortunately life’s greatest teacher at times.
My level of consciousness is wanting if I can still be used and manipulated. My filters aren’t tight enough. My armor not impenetrable enough.
So how does one not lose the capacity to love and trust? How does one keep the deep sense of compassion and empathy for other human beings? How does one continue to open one’s heart after being shattered time and again?
How does one remain open and honest? How does one keep their integrity? How does one face themselves and their growing self-awareness when it continues to reveal more pain?
How does one continue…and learn to protect themselves against those abusers flinging the proverbial arrows? Dropping the bombs? Without building impenetrable walls that keep out the pain but also keep out hope and love?
How does one build filters and not fortresses?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Please share what has worked or hasn’t worked for you. In the mean time, I will experiment with that delicate balance, but despite the level of spiritual and emotional betrayal by the auctioneer, I refuse to let it harden me to the point where I no longer love. The love comes from me, first. The joy I felt with him came from me. He didn’t put it there.
The love is within me.
The joy is within me.
The ecstasy and bliss are within me.
Although there is pain and fear and insecurities inside me, too. I face them head on. I turn into the waves. I dive into them, head on. I’m not afraid, for I know that in facing those things they pass much faster than by running from them.
I face it all. I embrace it all. For all of it. The joy and the sorrow. The bliss and the agony. It is all beautiful. It is all life and love. It is all experience that makes us human.
By burying it and running from it, you hurt yourself and everyone who comes into contact with you.
Courage. Find it.
Then, let’s talk.
~ by omgrey on April 18, 2012.
Posted in Romance & Relationships
Tags: anxiety, author, bipolar, bpd, broken heart, depression, emotional abuse, fear, grief, healing, heartbroken, honesty, intimacy, introspection, love, mental disorder, mental illness, misogyny, narcissism, narcissist, non-monogamy, npd, o.m. grey, olivia grey, open, open marriage, passion, pathology, personality disorder, polyamory, predator, relationship advice, relationships, romance, self-aware, self-awareness, sex, shattered