I don’t know how to live my life, because I never have.

It turns out, I have been asleep for years, completely knocked the fuck out, watching this dream-series unfold before my eyes.  Like any other series, I’ve learned what to expect from the characters (including mine), and the rules of the world. And about 27 or 28 seasons in, I started to wonder, “why the fuck is my character written this way? This shit is straight garbage.” If my life is the series, the network is human existence on Earth.  So, I started doing some research on the network. Book after book after book. And finally, I got some info on how my character was developed. This series is sort of a devised piece. For years, I improvised in scenes with a mix of fully developed characters and other improvisers. I learned who my character was based on how other characters defined me, be it based on their interactions with me, my appearance, or my geographical location.  I was given two dramaturgs with the mission of heavy-handedly guiding me through the development of my character, interpretations of other characters, and the development and execution of the script. And after about 6 or 7 years of this process, the script was approved and the show began. So, here I am now, 30 years into this process, and somehow along the way, I started to confuse my character with who I am, who I was before any of this rehearsal started.  Behavior that was necessary for dramatic scenes has carried over into every other scene. A narrative was written for me decades ago, and that narrative dictates my interpretation of everything! This character is my mind’s conditioning and somehow I’ve started to confuse it with myself.

My social conditioning interprets every interaction I have, favoring scenarios where I am a victim, perpetuating the same ideas, over and over and over again. I haven’t been myself, I’ve been my mind.  The mind is very active, rehearsing scenes repeatedly, to cement in your mind who you are in relation to the world, that you are different from the world, that there is “you” and “them”. And after years of this, a whole lifetime of this…. I finally found the tools that helped me learn that I am not my mind and how to silence it, but now, within that silence, who the fuck am I?

When I was a child, I developed behavior that helped me navigate the loudest and most unpredictable people in my life; my parents and homophobic peers.  These people heavily projected on me and interacted with me violently, demanding a response. Even as young as 5, I could see the insanity in this. So, I started behaving in ways that seemed to bring me minimal harm. I started performing. My father often complained that when he would beat me, I didn’t cry. So, I gathered that is the response he wanted, so I gave it to him. My father very much disliked when I displayed any sort of confidence, and would say things like, “you think you’re smart ass, don’t you?” So, to avoid these interactions, I often pretended to be uncertain. I even would ask questions I already knew the answer to, because I knew it would make him feel better about himself. I figured all this and much more out before the age of 10. The problem? Somewhere along the line, I got so good at it,  I forgot that it was a performance. And one day, it was my “personality”.

As a child, my male peers presented many a problem. I wasn’t socialized in the way they were, because I moved so much, so I never had long lasting relationships with other boys and often their behavior resembled that of my father’s; a violent bully. So, I did what I knew how to do. I handled it. Surprisingly, in the opposite way I handled my father. When verbally attacked, I would show absolutely no reaction, even ignoring their existence (the most effective way I had found of putting an end to our interactions).  Groups of laughing boys were met with a straight face and unaffected voice, and some sarcasm for good measure. I did this for long, that I find that today, I interact with many adult men, in the same way. I forgot it was a performance.

After reading this, one might think, “bad stuff happened to me too pall, what’s your point???” The problem is that not only did I forget this was performance, but I started identifying with these problems, allowing myself do be defined by a small range of extreme experiences and my mind’s interpretation of them.

For example. A painting hangs on a wall in a museum. That painting is what it is. Thousands of people enter the museum, come up with their own conclusions about the painting based on their social conditioning and define it for themselves. Do their thoughts change what the painting actually is? No. The painting is what it is. Your interpretation is what it is. If this paining had a human mind, however, it would internalize and defend itself against negative interpretations and then most likely project an “abuser” or “attacker” identity onto those it encountered in life who resembled anyone who gave it negative criticism in the past, and when no one was around, it would think of every negative interaction it had with a person, and think, “why is this my life?”

This is insanity.

I remember having an argument with an ex of mine and it was dramatic and I was crying and blah blah blah. And when it was over, I remembered thinking, I know I don’t care about this, and yet a carried this entire performance out. I could hear myself responding with words from the script, but didn’t actually care. That’s how I first realized, I am not my mind. I am the consciousness that observes my mind and experiences what happens to this body.

Once I was able to identify what was happening, I was aware. Once aware, you can slip back into patterns here and there, but it’s never the same. You know what’s happening. It’s like leaving the Matrix and then trying to go back. It just doesn’t work.  But, the problem is, I don’t know how to live life, because I never have.  All of my instincts and habits and “personality traits” are rooted in this social conditioning, this code that was given to me and my interpretations of people and situations are the same. We navigate the world in the same way that we read, we don’t actually give our full attention to every word, we glance at them and our brain instantly recognizes them, and that’s how our minds handle a great deal of their interpretations of the world. So, I know nothing.

Now, I have to fight to stay conscious as much as possible. To accept that I know nothing. That these situations are neutral, until my mind makes it otherwise. Who the fuck am I?

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