I love you. Specifically you who are reading these words. Even though I’ve never set eyes on nor spoken to or heard the voice of a single one of you.
I’ve always felt deficient in most ways, superior in some. Both of those ways of feeling are defenses. I set my life up to look for danger and ensure that the only one who harms me is me. I know I’m not alone in this. I have met other trauma survivors who responded this way, especially those of us exploited as children.
I don’t spend much time on, “What if x hadn’t happened to me,” though it can be fun (as opposed to punishing) to think about different paths our choose-your-own-adventure lives could have taken and still can take.
I feel love for you because I am starting to recognize that I *am* connected to humanity. Even though I have punished myself for most of my life, because of the traumas I have suffered, I wish to be free of suffering. I wish to experience happiness when it comes.
It has taken some coaxing. I have had to expand my mind, get to 10,000 feet above ground (as my favorite therapist likes to tell me to do). And now I believe that people wish to be free from suffering. And I also believe that I wish to be free of suffering.
I don’t need urgently for that to happen, which is usually the case when I want something. Don’t get me wrong: I’m great at delayed (or no) gratification. It’s just that sometimes when I set my mind on something that I know is really, really good for me (like to be physically fit or to eat a certain way), I want it fast–faster, at least, than it will take.
For example, this month is the four-year anniversary since I started mental health therapy that has resulted in a radical shift in my life’s trajectory. I’m not one to mark anniversaries. Yes, I know when I got married. I know when my kids were born.
And I don’t mark dates, anniversaries, of my traumas. Some went on for years so that it’s too hard to set a specific date. Even the traumas whose dates are known (like the fire), I don’t recognize or keep those dates fresh in my head. That’s not my way–to forget something most of the time and then remember it because of the calendar. Maybe that’s because dissociators’ mental calendars and clocks don’t always work great. Mine sure don’t!
And I know that I started therapy four years ago in November in order to address my anger. Wow, what strides I’ve made in that regard! I consider myself a philosophical adherent of Non-Violent Communication (Marshall Rosenberg). That doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. I do. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever raise my voice. I do. That doesn’t mean I don’t have delusions of violent retribution. I do. It means that my values equate with compassion.
And now I know my intentions count for something.
You probably want to be free of suffering. I want to be free of suffering. Deep down, we’re probably all compassionate beings. My journey, started about four years ago, is probably to find “deep down.” Sometimes, to find “deep down,” you need to get to 10,000 feet up first. One of the many ironies I’m finding in this journey to lessen suffering.
It can also be time-intensive to look deeply. I had a head start in that I was already skeptical of mass consumerism, advertising, hegemonic cultural propagation (which is just systems that perpetuate themselves by seeming normal and self-evident), especially as decoys so that we pursue pleasure by opening our wallets instead of our minds and hearts. I don’t spend a lot of time in front of screens because I don’t find it fulfilling, and because it is triggering for me. A potential advantage to a trigger? How interesting.
This doesn’t have to become a screed against capitalism. It’s people who can make choices: to turn off the device, to identify their body sensations and feelings, to connect with deeper truths such as that all people want to be free of suffering–and that most people seem not to take steps to be free of suffering. In fact, most of us take steps that guarantee our suffering.
How? We avoid pain and pursue pleasure, which is a perfectly normal thing to want to do, given our cultural emphases. Avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure, though, creates resistance to pain and resistance when pleasure ends (feelings are temporary, like clouds passing in the sky). Pain is part of life. So is pleasure. If we accept all feelings, even befriend them (for the insight they bring, the clarity, the experience of being alive), we can truly alleviate suffering and allow happiness.
How many people are willing to practice that? Are you? I have been reading about it for two years, and I’m just starting to try to practice! So, for me, it’s not easy. Even though I want to be able to end my suffering, clinging to it and wanting it faster are both forms of resistance that push my goal farther away and, you guessed it, increase my suffering.
I’m just starting to see it.
And it is creating love. For me. For you. When I get angry, my anger doesn’t negate my love. The word “and” is our friend. So many things are true simultaneously. I am a human. I make mistakes. I yell. I love. Me. You.
I want to help alleviate suffering. This post is an attempt to help me and to help you.