Sometimes I’ve worried about being so open about my own mental illnesses and specifically, my struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. There is a part of me that absolutely know that there are a few narrow-minded people who probably read my posts (if they even bother) and then feel superior or like there is something wrong with me because I have these struggles. Some of these people are even distantly related to me in one way or another. I can see them being gleefully smug, shaking their heads and thinking people like me make all this up for attention or just don’t want to be working members of society. I can hear the Fox News points they would reiterate right now.
So, knowing that is likely going on behind my back, why do I even bother? Because I want to be genuine and real. I want to be me. I want to be honest. I want to help others feel less alone. And I figure if those people mocking me weren’t too narcissistic or proud to seek help, a psychiatrist or psychologist would have a field day with them anyhow! After all, who is the worst person? The person that has real struggles and issues and admits to them and works on them, or the person who thinks they are better than everyone else and has to gossip behind other peoples’ backs to feel better about themselves?
I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:
“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”
What do you have to teach me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Once I thought you did – you seemed so sophisticated and knowledgeable, but those were simply projections of the person you wished you could be. Inside you resides only a quivering emptiness. Every attempt to reach outside of yourself slowly sinks into the abyss, becoming forever lost within the caverns of what could have once been.
Now it is obvious it was never meant to be, and the time has come to move on. If only I could throw this endless, undying desire to be loved back in your face as you vacantly stare through me, always searching for your own reflection. I wish just once you could see only me. But even now, as I walk away, the only reflection mirrored in your eyes is yourself.
I’ve said before that I think some of the best poetry snippets can be found in song lyrics. Not every musician or group writes great or even above-average lyrics, but when they do, I like to dissect the songs and really think about them. One song I have always felt a strong kinship with is “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles. I’m not sure many people really stop to think about the song as far as philosophy goes, but I find it full of a kind of zen-like wisdom.
I think perhaps my favorite lines from the song are:
“He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see”
Do you know anyone like that? I know I sure do. I know people who are seemingly intelligent and caring, but are hopelessly blind to certain truths because they either don’t want to see them or because their minds are biased to a point where they can not see anything that doesn’t align with their personal beliefs. Even scientific studies have found this to be true…that our personal beliefs can affect our ability to see things clearly or even figure out simple problems.
When I used to be a foster parent, we had a class we had to take every so often that talked about how deeply bias affects us and the decisions we make, even when we are small children. A child who is biased to believe the world is cruel and unfair (from past neglect or abuse) will make their personal reality fit that view, even if their belief is not the current truth. They will see everything that they experience from that biased point of view and nothing will change their mind unless that bias changes.
I find that fascinating from a psychological point of view and have thought often of what that means when applied to human nature in general. Sometimes it rather discourages me because I understand that many people will choose to be blind or can’t help being blind to seemingly obvious truths no matter how much evidence they are given or how easily their beliefs could be disproven using logic and scientific reason. This makes me want to scream and shout in frustration sometimes. It also makes me worry about what biases I have in place that I don’t even notice. I guess the song was right when it asked, “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”
The success of Idina Menzel’s version of the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s animated movie “Frozen” really didn’t surprise me at all. The first time I heard the song (the opening weekend of the movie), I fell in love. I have the soundtrack and like a lot of the songs, but “Let It Go” is just special. Some have claimed the song and movie are about homosexuality and the fight for LGBT acceptance. I don’t agree, although I can see how the song would be a great coming out song. In my opinion, the song could apply to a great many ways that we hide our ‘true’ selves for fear of rejection or hurt. So, although I am going to share the lyrics that really speak to me and why, do not feel like my connection to the song has to be yours.
“A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen.” – To me, this is about loneliness. I relate because I have often felt like I lived in isolation. Growing up with undiagnosed autism I often felt like I was somewhere off on the moon or in a world of my own. I wanted to include others. I wanted connection, but I was either afraid or didn’t know how to get it. I had friends, but even those relationships sometimes confounded me and left me utterly confused and alone. I’ve grown up and learned a lot, but it still isn’t easy to make connections with others at the level I would like to.
“The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside, couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried.” – Who among us hasn’t felt overwhelmed by our emotions? It is human to sometimes feel crippled by fear, saddened by tragedy and betrayal, angry about injustice or like we have to claw our way up from the depths of despair. Often I have just wanted to scream because of all the hurt, rage, sadness and unfairness in this world.
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.” – To me this has definite religious affiliations. At times in my life I felt like I had to hide my true self to get approval and love from friends, family and the church. I had to pretend to be a “good girl” who never questions anything and believes blindly what I am told. I still feel like many wish I would just shut up and believe what they tell me is true, but I just can’t do that anymore.
“Well, now they know…” – Thank God! They know! I can be myself!
“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door.” – Just keep going. Follow what in your heart you know is right. It is ok if not everyone understands or likes you. Sometimes you may have to burn bridges to the past in order to find new places to grow.
“I don’t care what they’re going to say…” – Ok, maybe I still care a little (after all I am still human), but I won’t let it rule me.
“It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small. And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all.” – Wow…so THIS is freedom. I can think what I want. I can do what I want. I can love who I want. I can finally get out from under all these rules and dogmas that had me confused and scared. I can get out there and actually help this world!
“It’s time to see what I can do. To test the limits and break through. No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free.” – Ok, there is still right and wrong, but I don’t have to take the word of other humans about what it is. I can find a place in this world where I really fit in and my talents can be used for good.
“I am one with the wind and sky. Let it go, let it go. You’ll never see me cry.” – I’m going to forgive those who hurt me, even if they don’t know or care that they did. I’m not going to live in bondage to anger and pain.
“Here I stand, and here I’ll stay. Let the storm rage on.” – I’ve made my decision. I’ve taken a stance for what I believe. I may face criticism, anger, mockery or even hate, but that is ok. Everyone who ever made a difference faced those things.
“I’m never going back, the past is in the past.” – Sometimes I get sad. Sometimes I miss the people who turned their backs on me. Sometimes I wish things could have been different, but I can’t go back. I can only go forward.
“Here I stand. In the light of day. Let the storm rage on…the cold never bothered me anyway.” – Hopefully I will inspire others to be true to themselves. To think about and evaluate their priorities and values. So yeah, the rejection may make me feel cold and alone at times, but compared to what I have gained…that is ok.