How can I preach self-empowerment and unconditional loving of others if I’m incapable of it with myself?
While I might be well versed in the all-smiles stage-show, most of the time I’m unfulfilled and angry with myself. My resting state is unsatisfied.
I’m tired of always cleaning and never feeling like it’s done. I’m disappointed in myself for my poor diet at home and my inability to commit to exercise. This pattern results in relentless internal energy spent in both putting and keeping myself down. I’d rather get online and pay bills, reload facebook, and sleep for an ENTIRE day just to avoid actually working on myself. It’s like my boyfriend says: I pretty much just don’t WANT to get better. Like he doesn’t “want” to quit smoking. I mean it’s rather obvious that we’re set in our ways and would really rather wither away in failure than get to the bottom of our patterns and grow up out of them.
Intellectually, I think I know what it is that causes my habits. I can talk about it easy enough. I believe I have emotional conditioning and mental cycles stemming back from my childhood as a young Mexican-American girl with a mother that was extremely Roman Catholic. It seems to me that when I think back on those times of my life, there is an extremely negative tint to things..a kind of hurtful coloring to the turn of events that took place and shaped me.
Maybe this is part of the problem?
I grew up in a household where nothing was ever done. There was always a pile of clean, unfolded clothes that had at some point been taken out of the machines and needed to be sorted and taken care of…but no one would do so. My mother worked full time, often MORE than full-time, and folding the laundry wasn’t something a mother of four had much time to take care for. Another thing about growing up was the dishes. We all ate, of course..but apparently only my mom was certified to do the dishes. Aside from my dad rarely helping, what has been standing out in my mind lately is the fact that, in a home with 5 other people in it, none of us really consistently helped her. I feel so bad about it.
I’m 25 now and the older I get, the more and more I experience shame. There are so many things I wish I had had the strength to do for myself…and so many things I experience guilt over that I’d wished I’d never do. It’s hard to keep track of all the things I think I SHOULD be doing. As I age, I find an obsession in my own household. I feel a need to be right – to be essentially right; to fulfill my duties in a way I hadn’t as a child; to be the one to take initiative; to to the dishes, to wash the sheets, to fold the towels, to organize and prioritize the clutter.
Why hadn’t I helped her? Why hadn’t I helped my own mother?
Even when I would cook Top Ramen for us when she was tired from working, or wash the dirty laundry, I’d rarely clean up afterward. I’d rarely fold it. I can see myself in the first house in Paradise most clearly. I often find myself in the kitchen – with an adult’s view from somewhere inside the back door. It’s odd, really. I was never an adult inside that house. We moved from it when I was maybe 12. Still, I spent the formative years of my life there, give or take a few.
Why are all my memories in that one household?
Lately, I’ve found myself craving Top Ramen again. I’ve gone years without it. Suddenly, I’m craving. I think it’s the nostalgia setting in. So many things are changing.. Emotionally I’m all over the place. I can’t even seem to pick any one emotion…unless it’s apathy. Apathy is easy because it means I get to sleep in all day. Today I slept until 5pm. Of course, I feel worthless. I watched some Netflix. I took the trash out. I felt horrible.
I went for a short walk with my sister and then another longer one on my lonesome after that. The walk helped a lot with my emotional feelings. Better than a nap, I felt energized and more important. Somehow, the act of taking control of my body and orchestrating it to perform a simple task made me feel empowered and able. I cut the walk short though.. I encountered a lot of people around the streets and decided I wasn’t safe anymore. I’m out of shape and haven’t practiced my self-defense in a while. This is new for me. I’ve never once felt unsafe walking by myself before. I now feel emotionally violated for experiencing these unpleasant emotions. Despite the promising experience, I arrived home defeated.
I cried a bit and rolled myself into a ball, pondering why “terrible people” seem to be incredibly quick to accept love and affection from others, while I have such a hard time of it. I resolved to sit outside and watch more Netflix.
While surfing for loving comments or cheerful messages, I came across a short article my friend had posted on facebook. It was about a societal concept known as, “BIG, or Basic Income Guaranteed.” The concept soothed and fascinated me. I’d never thought of this before. If all my basic needs were simply met, a huge weight of burden and worry would be lifted from my tired, achy shoulders. Any time I have had what I needed financially/physically, I’ve been able to enjoy my life and end up incredibly social and productive. I do what I want and I’m a happy person once basic needs are paid for and I’m not stressing while debts collecting.
I haven’t felt at all at ease when I am living paycheck to paycheck…or worse…credit card to credit card. The fact is, when my finances are worrying me, it’s very hard to feel secure and safe – and even HARDER for me to feel worthy of love and belonging in the first place. The harder I work and the further behind I fall, the worse I feel about myself. It’s so hard to think I’m worthwhile when I feel like I’m never going to accomplish anything and self-actualize. I’ve had so many dreams and goals to look forward to before. Now, I feel as though I really never do anything but go to work and clean; and come home — where I ALSO clean. All the while, the credit card debt goes up or my bank account goes down. When I think I’m in the clear and can afford to go out to eat or enjoy a night at the movies, the next thing you know I’m down another $200. I literally feel as though I can’t AFFORD to have fun.
This is all part of the vicious emotional cycle of abuse in my household. I find myself turning on my partner just when he’s starting to readjust and feel comfortable. Whenever I’m feeling down and out, he loves on me and that’s when I strike. When he says he loves me and that I’m his everything, I find it near impossible to believe I could be something capable of receiving that kind of awesome loving. I shoot myself down faster than I do him. “How could YOU be his everything? You’re worthless and stupid. How could YOU be so important? How could YOU be capable of really loving him? How could YOU be worthy of such significant loving? What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you alone yet?” The horrific and hateful things I say to myself are so hurtful and malicious. They are mine and they come from me. Yet, they don’t originate inside me. They come from perfectionistic expectations of myself and my society. I don’t expect anybody else to be perfect.
Do I secretly hate myself because I realize I’m no different than the others? Do I detest myself BECAUSE I detest others? Has my conditioning gone too deep for correction or redirection? Can I ever overcome this undeniable tendency toward condemnation and judgement? Where did it really come from in the first place? Does it keep me from pursuing otherwise enriching friendships? Does the hatred start inside and ripple out or is it the result of hating the world which I have been exposed to that makes me dislike those around me and ultimately myself?
All of these are interesting questions psychologically and philosophically, but do they really get at the root of the thing? Am I simply distracting from the real topic? Am I ever enough and do I have enough? If I am not and I do not, then why is that? Is that something I can remedy?
I think so.
I think I can change.
I think I can be happier.
I think I can finally be enough.
I think I can overcome my fear of love and loving.
I think I can finally finish an article.
I think it will not be perfect.
I think it’ll be okay though.
I think I can really be a runner, and a tennis player, and a singer, and a dancer.
I think I could be an activist and community organizer.
I could really be a writer.
I guess I’m actually writing.
Even when it’s all over the place it’s okay. I’m a person.
I’m a lover; and I’m a fighter.
I’m a worker and a cleaner and a worthwhile person.
I think I’m going to be okay regardless.
Even if nothing works out and I never fulfill my purpose, I’ll have fulfilled SOME purpose.
And that’ll have to be enough.
Sometimes there isn’t a point to things..but that doesn’t mean you still can’t extract some kind of lesson..
If you want it.
You can find the article this essay is based on here: https://medium.com/basic-income/a-basic-guaranteed-income-in-the-context-of-maslow-s-hierarchy-of-needs-c0835b6b8900
– Monday 21 September 2015