impressions

my awakening consciousness

the key to my prison

Filed under: daylilies — waterlily at 12:52 am on Monday, January 21, 2008

It came to me as a question in the wee hours of a sleepless morning, during one of my imaginary conversations with my real sister and brothers. For the previous nine months or so, ever since the terrible and miraculous event of April 2007, I had been walking around in a swirling stew of powerful emotions and equally powerful chemicals, needing answers more than anything else, knowing finally I needed them to heal. The question I asked them in my mind was aimed more at my sister and brothers who have children, although I wanted to ask it of my other brother also: Imagine that your child at a young age, maybe 6 or 7, begins to occasionally behave in unusual or puzzling ways and gradually over the next few years these behaviors become faintly alarming and progress towards disturbing. Then maybe an incident in which it becomes more extreme, delf-destructive, immoral even. It happens again, sometime later. Maybe even a criminal act. Now imagine, how would you feel? I imagine that you’d feel anger, lots of it. And hurt. Disappointment. I’m guessing any human being would feel this way. So you yell, punish, whatever. It stops for awhile. Maybe you notice your child seems troubled or unhappy or just different. Maybe not. Maybe your kid can put on a good front. Anyhow, disturbing behavior starts up again.You try talking to your child, maybe he/she tries to express unhappiness. You know they’ve been unhappy for awhile, but you don’t understand why. You work hard to give them a good life. But you know growing up is sometimes rough and rocky, and you try to be understanding, but your child’s despondence persists and the downright offensive behaviors eventually return. I would imagine that as a human being, you are now more angry, more hurt and in your weaker moments, starting to get fed the hell up with the ungrateful whining. In your frustration, you try every tactic you can think of. But your child is still a negative person. My question is this: if this continues, are you ever, at any point in time, going to get past your own feelings, your own moral outrage, for long enough to wonder: what is wrong with my child? For long enough for it to occur to you that this behavior is not done for the sole purpose of creating problems for you? Further, for you to consider this may not even be part of the reason for this behavior? Do you imagine yourself – as the adult in the situation – ever, at any point in time, getting past your own bad feelings enough to realize THIS MIGHT NOT EVEN BE ABOUT YOU AT ALL?!! Would it be within your capability as a spiritual entity to stop being judgemental for long enough to consider that this might be a sign of a deeper problem than just whining and self-pity? After a period of years, might you consider this? Underneath all of your own issues would you ever be afraid for your child? Afraid enough to think, okay I just can’t/don’t get this. Is there anyone who might know what is wrong? If so, where are they and how do I get their help? My child is in pain. Do you think as a parent, you could, even in a matter of a couple of years, recognize the morally outrageous behaviors, however repugnant they may be to your superior senses, as cries for help, NOT deliberate attempts to make you look bad? And the second, more important part of this question: or, can you imagine yourself instead deciding that your child is garbage, and treating them accordingly? You can’t understand the problem, therefore your child is making it all up and your child is just evil? After all if you don’t get it, it must not exist. It’s just the evil spirits. Now, brothers, sisters, parents: would you ever seek help for your child? Or would you remain focused solely on your own pain for the entire life of your child? Would you ever be able to recognize your role in conveying to a person who believes you and trusts you that they are completely worthless? You told them over and over again to snap out of it and they did not. Would it ever occur to you that the constant lying and living in fantasy and the perpetual seeking out of unconsciousness through alcohol and other substances might be more than just a plot to hurt you? That it might instead be a sign of disease? Or would you take the easy way out? Lecture your child over and over again about morality, try to shame the evil out of them? Maybe it appears to work for a brief time, so you think aha! This is the only thing they understand. Repetition. Being told the wrongness of their thoughts, ideas and feelings. Of who and what they are. When they relapse, step up the treatment. It hurts you to have to tell them what failures they are, but you nobly do it anyway because you love them. And you must keep repeating it because it’s the only thing they understand. Like training an animal. Parents, if you ever did devolve into this would you ever ever recognize that you no longer even view your child as human anymore? Further still, since your child believes in your wisdom, he/she now “realizes” more than ever their own unique worthlessness and the fact that they are not entitled to the same treatment as human beings. Would you never experience a moment of empathy in which you recognized that the escalating self-destruction in your child was a result of their extreme self-hatred, not necessarily a sign of inherent moral weakness or a purposeful and ongoing mission to hurt your feelings? Or a deliberate choice to live that way instead of happily? Might this bit of logic enter your mind whenever you’re lecturing your child regarding their illogical “decision” to live an insane life?! Between lectures on the importance of spirituality, would you ever recognize that your treatment is systematically breaking the spirit of your child? Between lectures on the stupidity of your child’s “choice” of lifestyle, after a couple of decades might it occur to you, after examining the evidence, that your “toughlove” (who are we kidding, it’s bloodsport by now) tactics are not working?

When it turns out that your child is unable to function as an adult in life, are you going to tell him or her how deeply ashamed and disappointed you are in them? Are you going to tell your second wife and your other children (including the very young ones) what garbage this child is? And when your child is in terrible despair and fear and deep financial trouble (they cannot keep a job) are you going to let that child know just how despicable they are for getting public assistance or assistance from anyone? Or for even asking for help? Are you actually going to believe that you must remind this person of what they’ve lost, what they’ll never have, and what they can no longer even hope for? Then tell them that other people have “real” problems and they cope well. And all of this you can tell them with no rules and no boundaries as to what you can say or how you say it, because it’s the only thing the animal understands. The fact that your adult child does not understand how to interact with other humans and therefore is doomed to keep losing jobs is of no importance; it’s just another excuse to you. If your adult child has been clean and sober for 16 years, then gets hit by a car while on a bicycle (Carrying groceries home) and then the next day gets arrested for stealing a pack of cigarettes SEVENTEEN YEARS PREVIOUSLY and has to go through the terrifying, humiliating ordeal of being handcuffed, searched, booked, fingerprinted, put into a small holding cell where – being claustrophobic – she/he kinda freaks out (thankfully, all the police officers around that day are kind and respectful) then waits for hours in a brightly lit, cold place with a hundred others, mostly also mentally ill, while contemplating the fact that sixteen and a half years ago although he/she did go to court, the man who would ultimately beat your child while he/she was pregnant (yes, readers, I get it) as he beat him/her on a regular basis because he/she honestly believed that’s what he/she deserved, that this man said he would pay the fine for her, but he did not. Your child never received the subsequent letters from the court. Or so he/she claims. But he/she gets to take a stroll down memory lane to those good old days, while experiencing the worst day of his/her life. Your child doesn’t call you, wouldn’t. Ever. But another family member does. So you and your new wife go to pick him/her up. And before the two of you go to work on him/her, you do not even for a split second ask or even care: “Are you alright?” As one might do with any human. People in the jail have shown your child more kindness of spirit. Not one second, nor one spark of humanity towards your own child, though, for your job as the moral one, the good one is to tell him/her what a failure he/she is. Today, now, you need to remind this one, because he/she has been unaware of it, especially on this proud day. And you let your new wife lecture him/her about selfish they are. You are aware your child was hit by a car the previous day but that’s of no more consequence than her dying spirit. Remind your child again he/she has never in their life done or been anything of value. And when you reach your destination and the angel who saved your child’s life and soul all those years ago comes down to greet you and apologize, you look at him like you would a pile of shit and you tell him how ashamed and disappointed you are of him, although he is a middle-aged, hardworking, law abiding, God loving man who has done nothing but watch over and take care of your child’s mind, body and soul after saving them all those years ago. You are justified though. You are disappointed. You’ve had a bad day. You’ve shed tears in front of your other, good, worthwhile child. You are the good father, nobly bearing the burden of this pile of sewage you are ashamed to call yours.

I ask of you brothers and sisters, parents, and human beings: do you think that after 80 plus years of your own life and 45 plus years of your child’s life, you would finally even for a split second, be able to get past how YOU feel about what actions the prison of loneliness, despair and shame has compelled your child to do? Nearly two decades previously?

My guess is, you would. Because you are not an animal. And I don’t think you have a sickness that needs to feed upon the sickness of another. Because you actually have love and compassion in your heart, not just the words and motions. And you possess more than just the intelligence to understand the intangible, the abstract , but also the courage and willingness to change your perceptions based on new information, new experiences instead of believing only what is most comfortable to believe and clinging to rigid, blind convictions simply because they are familiar and easy for you to conform to.

That day, the universe as I had known it for nearly half a century changed drastically in a matter of minutes. I didn’t even hear the last of what my father said to me that night, couldn’t hear anything above the deafening roar of a lifetime of perceptions crashing around me. I saw his lips moving as I struggled to absorb the new knowledge of this person before me. This person who colored and judged every thought that ever entered my mind, either consciously or subconsciously, ever since I could remember. The voice of wisdom, however much I didn’t want to hear it. The voice of truth, from one who loves. I always believed he was a loving perfect father who was wise about people and the world and life and intelligent in all other things too. A father who knew everything, would know what to do to take care of and protect his child. If he said I was garbage, then, much as it hurt, I knew that was the truth. He would know. End of story, no question about it. And I suddenly saw the ignorant, brutish and petty male creature in front of me. At the same time I realized I’d known this truth for awhile but through some kind of self-protective coping mechanism or something, I just ignored it. It couldn’t be true. But I think ever since, years previously, his and his partner’s very young child innocently repeated something she could only have overheard from them in passing, when no one else happened to be near, I knew then. But I told myself all kinds of lies about it, the soothing anesthetizing lies that come naturally to me after nearly fifty years of needing them to survive. The truth, jumping up and down screaming and waving it’s arms, millimeters from my nose, and I simply turned my head to the side and said loudly and clearly to myself, “that just isn’t there.” But when I finally really knew, the world just rocked. Even the ground seemed to become molten and unpredictable, thin smoke beneath my feet. The person who represented to me the gold standard of respect, hell he WAS respect, however much I might rebel against him. My rebellion always looked to me like some useless scumbag punk stupidly venting his shiftless, no-count, white trash little grievances against THE man.

And now I know none of those things are even close to being true and he is not even of the same species that I thought he was, much less in possession of the characteristics I thought he had.

I’m starting to understand so many more things about my behavior now, things that so baffled and frustrated me for so very long. The things that locked me up in a cage.

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