Sunday, January 07, 2018

My Values

A common misconception about atheists is that we are lacking in morals and values. Nothing can be farther from the truth. However, we don't have our values outlined by a 2000+ year old book. Not only do we have to determine for ourselves what our values are but the reasons behind those values. It's easy for someone to say "I believe in such and such and do such and such because that is what the bible says I should do, that is what god says I should do." It's not so easy to decide what to believe for yourself in as far as what is right and wrong and not only that, to determine why it is right or wrong. Taking an ethics class can be quite a learning experience because it makes you look at the reasons why something is right/wrong and the means that it is determined to be so. Religious beliefs are just one of the many ways in which a person may come to a conclusion not only about what is right/wrong but WHY.

At the age of 37, I'm still working on this. It took me a long time to realize that I was not a believer. I tried to cling to the idea of being a believer. I felt for some reason that it was necessary of me to believe. I didn't really have an idea that being a non-believer was possible, something that many people embraced and something that was OK to embrace. It was only when I found an article in the local paper that I discovered there was a group of people locally who did not believe. That was over 5 years ago and I'm still working on my own value system. Some things for sure I know are wrong for multiple reasons that have little to do with religion. Some things are not so black and white.

So, in no particular order, here is the start of a list of what are values for me. It's not perfect and I know I'm not perfect in always keeping with those values but these are the things I believe are important.

1. I don't like lying. I don't like to lie to people and I really hate when people lie to me. I feel it can destroy trust and it can cause issues for a relationship years down the road. I feel omitting important information is just as bad as lying. Lying about your age, religious beliefs, your values, etc to get me to like is not going to work out very well in the end. I will never understand why people have to construct an entire identity that is not them in order to get someone to like them and stay with them. The truth eventually comes out if that is not really who you are. Pretending, to me, just doesn't make any sense. But sadly, people do it all too often and my husband has done this which is why we have so many issues in our marriage. I don't think I would have stayed with him ultimately if I had known just how encompassing his religious beliefs were. But he lied to me; he lied to his best friend about our relationship; he lied to everyone about many things including his age. It's something that for me will now be a deal breaker in a any kind of a relationship. I won't tolerate it anymore. A person who is willing to lie about big things like that will like about other things and will continue to lie.

2. I don't like stealing. Fastest way to get me to more or less dislike you for life is to steal from me. My younger sister's best friend did this and to this day I still do not understand why she is friends with this person because stealing money from me was bad enough, she stole my sister's husband too! But who my sister hands out with is her deal. I just won't go anywhere near this person. It wasn't much money but it was at a time I was leaving my husband and it was a small purse of change that was more or less the last bit of money I had at the time. And I was leaving my husband at that time (when my oldest was only 6 months old) because he was taking 20% of the very little bit of money we were getting at the time and putting it towards tithes. He wasn't working. He was out of work and I was staying at home with a six month old and I was nursing. Formula was not an option because he felt it was poison. But he felt obligated to his church and had to not only take out this 20% but then hid it from me and eventually got himself a savings account I could not access. Want to really get me going on a rant? Mention tithing. As far as I am concerned it is one of the things that truly makes a church evil, to require those who are living on fixed incomes, government assistance, etc to tithe.

3. I feel we should do more for the environment. Earth is the only home we have and we need to take care of it. I'm not perfect with this. I try to remember to recycle when possible but it's not always easy for me to figure out what can be recycled here. We're doing better than we used to but there is always room for improvement. Eventually, I want to reach a point where I can contribute money towards these efforts as well.

4. I feel we should all do our part to make the world a better place and help when we can. This is another area that I want to do more with and I'm hoping to get more of a chance with my job this year. But I think the more we do for our fellow humans, the better we all will be. We do not live on an island. The things we do affect others. Why not use that to do good?

5. I feel war will not make things better, compassion and tolerance will. We need to stop having the idea that everyone has to think and do the same thing. We need to stop fighting about what one's god wants him/her to do and look to realistic and doable solutions to the problems we have. If we don't, we will destroy the only home we have and kill nearly everyone in the process.

This last year has been a difficult one because I feel that the US has gone in a direction that is not as kind or generous. It hurts to see the things that the current administration is doing: the bigotry, xenophobia, and outright greed. I do have some hope that the next generation will be better. I hear it when I listen to my oldest daughter go against her father's values of homophobia and bigotry. It amazes me she is already able to stand up for herself and share what her developing values are, something that I was not able to do at her age. I really hope that ultimately, there will be generation of children like her, a generation that will completely and totally change our world for the better. And hopefully the steps towards that change will start sooner, with my generation. It's there. I just worry that things will get worse before they get better.

So again, this is a very much incomplete list that I hope to expand on. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer:

  “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Things I Love

I'm doing this challenge that I happened to see in a bullet journaling group I'm in (one day I'll get back to doing that too). You can find it here: Boho Berry Challenge January Check-In. I'm not doing the days in order. That gets boring. I may skip some days too. Today, I wanted to focus on things I love. I don't do that enough and there's so much negativity in the world sometimes that talking about the things that make us happy is almost an anomaly. And one thing I do want to try and do more is be more positive and focus on the positives. So, here is my unedited, thrown together list of however many I come up with before heading to bed:

1. My girls. Both of them have their own uniqueness about them and I love different things about each of them. I love how my oldest is starting to think more and more and get a better grasp on the world. I love how my youngest is developing a quirky sense of humor. I love seeing how alike they are and how different both right now and when they were each a certain age. I'm looking forward to seeing how they grow and develop and how they will tackle the challenges of growing up and becoming adults.

2. Books. I do not know what I would do without books. Since I was 7 years old and able to read chapter books, they have taken me to many a world, stretched my mind, made me think, made me wonder. I see the imagination of the writers behind those books and am enthralled, sometimes envious. My own writings sometime struggle to come out but someday I hope to do more of it. Until then, there are always books to dive in and wade through. And while some people might despise them, having a tablet makes it much easier for me to carry hundreds of books without the need for renting another house. Not to mention, it's much easier to stash in my pure!

3. Coffee. That sweet, sweet elixir of life that gets me through the day (especially since I add creamer and sugar to my coffee). Probably the best thing is to sit on a quiet morning when no one is up and drink and just enjoy that first hot sip that goes down just right. And while I enjoy frappes and cold brew coffee as well, there's nothing better on a cold winter's day than a steaming mug of hot coffee with flavored creamer. Divine.

4. Solitude. The older I get, the more I enjoy those moments of just being by myself. Whether it's sitting alone in the living room with a mug of coffee or lying down in my room listening to music, there's something to be said for having that bit of time to myself. I know when I start to feel frazzled that I'm not getting enough time to myself so I work hard to find a way to have that time because it is  my way of getting the self-care I need.

5. Music. Music has a way of moving me, of becoming part of traditions as well as memories both good and bad. I enjoy a variety of music from different genres and ages and play depending on my mood. Some songs are ones I go to if I am in a certain mood. Others I go to when I want to relax. There was a time when playing the piano was also very soothing for me but it's been so many years since I have done that. I do miss playing and singing, both things I did a lot more of when I was younger. Now my children are the one doing the singing and the playing. I hope someday they get the joy out of it I used to and I hope they are able to stick with it.

That's five which I think is a pretty good start. I have to say though that another thing I love is warm blankets on a cold night like tonight when the windchill is expected to reach -30 and the air temperature below 0. It's a good night for warm, fuzzy socks too! 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Who Am I?

It's strange but sometimes, I have a hard time figuring that out beyond somewhat broad labels. I'm a mother. I'm a wife. I'm an atheist. I am most definitely a work in progress. I'd like to think I'm at least a little closer to knowing who I am than I was at 23, even at 30. What's really interesting is when I consider those last two sentences. Both refer to me after the events of June of 2003. In that sense, there will always be this "before" me and this "after" me, this point where I diverged greatly from my original path. How might things be different if those events had not transpired?

My husband credits himself as being the one to have kept me from becoming too involved with my family. Yet, I don't think that's exactly the case. Maybe if my parents were still around, he would have been more of an influence on that end. Then again, maybe not so much. I don't think he really takes into consideration how much the events changed me, how seeing something like that happen in my own home, by people who were supposed to love and care for me shook me up to a massive degree. I don't think he sees that it delayed my flight into adulthood, a flight I was already struggling with because of the home I grew up in, a home that punished independence.

For years, I have struggled with figuring out who I am because I never quite felt I fit in anywhere. I always felt I was failing and would continue to fail. But in essence, that is part of the journey. We won't always know the answers, we are likely to make errors. The key is to learn and continue on. There was a time where for me, that was a struggle. Even now, set backs can be difficult for me and I have to force myself through those periods where I'm doubting myself.

I'm still trying to figure out who I am. I think who I want to be is more easily defined. At any rate, my goal is for the two to be one and the same. I want my actions to match my values and vice versa. Sometimes, that's not the case and it bothers me.

So I am an atheist, a wife, and mother. I'm also an aunt, a cousin, and a sister as well as a daughter. I strive to be kind, to think of others, and to help others when I'm able. I am one who feels deeply but has to hide much of what I feel therefore appearing stronger than I really am. I am someone who needs alone time but gets easily lonely. I am someone who is still trying to find her way in this crazy, mixed up world.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!

Let's hope it's a better one than last year. This past year's ride around the sun has been something and I've reached the end of it thinking of the changes I have made and the ones I need to make still. It's been awhile since I've really done anything as far as New Year's Resolutions but there are a couple I want to make for this year. One of which is to do more writing. So, I'll be starting with blog writing and maybe that will help me to move on from there and who knows, maybe I'll get back to actually writing some stories.

The biggest challenge as far as this resolution goes is to make the time to write (note I didn't say find the time). So many things do get in the way and it's entirely too easy to just make the excuse not to write and move it to a different day. Was tempted to do that tonight. Today unfortunately, I learned of two deaths, and on top of one I had learned about on Friday, it leaves me with a lot to think about in as far as family, life, death, and how people treat others.

I'm hoping that maybe making the time to write will help me process things more and get them out of my system. I also hope that it will get my creative juices going again.

So that's my plan on this first day of January in the year of 2018.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Transitions, lots of transitions.

This past April I graduated from the local technical college. From there, finding a job was a bit challenging. At the same time, I was going through some changes in my household that added an immense amount of stress to my life and eventually, it all took its toll and with the usual summer anniversary that comes around during the summer, I ended up having a bit of a mental breakdown. I realized then I had to step back and take it one step at a time and remember that things probably were not going to happen as fast as I wanted them to.

The girls both started school in September and had their own transitions. Isabelle started second grade which for her meant a new teacher and new classmates (at her school, she has the same teacher for two years at a time). It meant having some new responsibilities. Natalie started middle school and for her the transition was even more challenging. Only she and one other girl transferred to the new school which is a charter school within the larger middle school. It meant a new class, new teachers, adjusting to middle school and a 25 minute earlier start to her day. It meant taking the bus and band and choir and having responsibilities due to those extra classes. Both have had their struggles and I was able to be there for the first part of that while I was looking for work. I finally did find a job the end of September/early October and I started my new job October 9th.

Working has been a bit of a transition for all of us. I'm not home at all during the day anymore. I wake up at 5:30 in the morning to start getting ready. I wake Natalie up around 6. Sometimes Isabelle wakes up too, sometimes she wakes up later. Natalie leaves at 6:55 to catch the bus and Isabelle and I both wait for John to come home from work to take us to school/work. Some mornings things go very smoothly. Some mornings, not so much. Fridays have an additional challenge in that John is home the night before and therefore there on Friday mornings so Natalie doesn't take the bus and we all leave in time to take her to school, me to work, and Isabelle to school. John then is responsible for picking both girls up from school and he picks me up from work after that.

Nights vary. With Natalie in middle school, there's more involvement in things like concerts, plays, and other activities (thankfully she didn't go into sports!). Many of those take place at night. She had a band concert the end of October, a play this past week, and a choir concert coming up the end of the month. This adds to an already long day but naturally, I want to be there for these events as much as possible.

The days are long though and energy is limited. John's support also varies. He's pretty on top of getting the kids from school (at least I haven't gotten any calls from the school so far this year) but other areas not as much and I get the blame. I feel that despite the fact that I work longer (training has been from 8-4:30, after training I go 8-5 and will be doing overtime as well; John only works 11-7) and am up at 5:30 getting the kids up and ready for school, I'm still expected to do all the cooking, all the cleaning, and making sure the bills are paid. It's frustrating especially when my starting wage was almost a dollar more than he's making (and that's after three years) and went up another dollar the end of October.

It's enough to make me want to bang my head against a wall sometimes especially when he's also telling me I can't do this or that or the other thing because it offends his belief system. Um, sorry, no not sorry. To be honest, I really don't have much sympathy for this person who still can't get his crap together, still can't pay bills in a timely manner, goes off to his feast in another town instead of paying rent because his religion dictates it (never mind that being homeless would not be a good thing at all), and even messed up my bank account in the process by getting a parking ticket on a rental car which came out of my account because we used my card to put down the deposit to begin with.

My patience is gone. I am doing what I need to do to take care of us and beyond that, forget it. It's frustrating at times though. It really is. But all I can do is take it one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. Just keep on keeping on.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

I'm walking to the bus stop.

It's a mindfulness exercise I did yesterday. There are a number of things going on in my life right now and one in particular was causing a lot of anxiety. I was taking the bus downtown and since I live a few blocks from the bus stop, I took the time I was walking to really focus on the fact that I was ONLY walking to the bus stop and trying to notice what was going on around me, really notice the temperature of the air, how the wind felt on my face, the sun shining, etc. When I got to the bus stop, I continued this exercise really focusing on my body and the sensation of my socks on my feet, my feet in my boots, the sun slightly warming my face in a particular spot (it was pretty cold yesterday). It helped even after I eventually got distracted by the fact that the bus was taking awhile to get there. My anxiety did go down a little.

It's these type of skills I'm really going to have to work on in the foreseeable future. Granted, they are skills I need to practice for life but especially right now with major changes in my life on the horizon, they will be needed. I need to be calm and mindful now more than ever and for someone who is easily emotional, that will be quite a challenge. But the rewards, should I succeed, will be great. So there's that. I just have to see it as an opportunity to grow and improve.

So the next time you are out walking, try this exercise. Really focus on where you are going, not what happens once you get there but just that you are only walking to a place and focus on what your body is doing and what is going on around you as you do so.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Lone Atheist

About two weeks ago my two girls left for Bible camp, the younger one for the first time. It's become such a tradition now, that I don't even question it though I do question the means of paying for it when we are relying on some government assistance and therefore are eligible for financial assistance for the camp itself (nevertheless, my husband sometimes insists on paying for it out of pocket). My oldest has been going for years now and enjoys it. There are a lot of fun activities to do, and she gets to see friends she normally wouldn't see. Still, it bothers me because I would never be given the leeway of enrolling them into a secular camp. My opinion is oftentimes ignored because I don't believe in the truth as far as my husband is concerned.

My beliefs are irrelevant.

I have pushed at that a bit though. I went back to school which has infuriated John to no end at times. I decided that homeschooling was no longer working for us and enrolled the girls in school last fall. I enrolled them in a local charter school where they have access to some form of the arts every day and is the only elementary school in the city to have a drama class. That was certainly a rough transition because again, my husband didn't agree with it but as he did nothing to help when I was struggling with the homeschooling, he no longer got to have a say on the matter. The girls WERE going to get an education and if he wasn't going to do it, then they needed to go to school. He was literally sleeping on the job.

On a lot of issues, it is like this. I do my thing, John does his. Our values are different and it's not just due to whether one believes in a deity or not. I believe in equal rights and ending as many of the "isms" as possible. He believes that he is part of a group of people specially called on and blessed by God himself and therefore, anyone who does not believe as he does will, at some point, cease to be or recognize the error of their ways and believe what he believes (believe what the Bible says word for word or be thrown into the Lake of Fire). And I won't even go into his beliefs regarding other races and cultures.

I'll give you a recent example. A few months ago, a booklet was sent home for summer enrichment classes. They had these classes back when I was their age and in school and back then, I would pour over the book for hours looking for the perfect classes to take. Natalie, being Natalie wasn't quite so enthused and I had to push her to look at it. Isabelle, there wasn't really anything for her to take (not this year anyway). We found a few classes she could take that wouldn't interfere with Bible camp in July. Unfortunately, all of the classes she wanted were taken (that's what happens when you can use the internet to sign up and you wait until the LAST DAY to sign up--oops). There was one class I found for her that was an art class that sounded like something she might enjoy. It was called Zentangles. Looking at the description, it really just mentioned using shapes to create pictures. Okay, so abstract drawing, cool.

We get to the week of class. John, suspicious of the word ZEN in the title, has to go looking it up to make sure it's not something sinister. He finds a number of things on it including that it's used for mindfulness (oh hey, a connection with DBT, now I wish I had known that beforehand!). The shape drawing can lead to a meditative state. Now, you would think that this would be a good thing, right? Well, not for John. For him, meditation equals Buddhism. And Buddhism leads one to worshiping false gods. He found this article online: and printed it off. He was going to share the article with the teacher and included a note on the back:

Did you know that Zentangles is a form of and promotes meditational behavior, and derives from and leads into the Zen concept of exploration of the Buddha-nature? It is a subtle and unconscious, unstressed introduction into Buddhism, a false religion.

I wish I was making this up but I took that word for word from what he wrote. I kept the article to show my therapist. Fortunately, John never did show this to Natalie's teacher (like he/she would even care) and Natalie did complete the class because seriously, it was just drawing lines and shapes to make a picture. She would draw a pony and then a bunch of lines and shapes around her pony. She also, on the first day, colored in a drawing which is something we have done for mindfulness in my skills group. But that leads me to my next point.

I am in a therapy program that stresses mindfulness/meditation as a way to control emotions. 

Mindfulness of current emotion, of current thought, is HUGE for those in dialectical behavior therapy. And meditation is not a load of woo either. An article in the Scientific American magazine from November 2014 titled The Neuroscience of Meditation goes rather thoroughly into the practice of meditation and how it can change the brain. It is being studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and one of the subjects looked at is a Buddhist monk. Does it have origins of Eastern philosophy? Yes. Can it be used without religious significance? For sure! I go to a Catholic hospital. One of the therapist is a nun. There are no issues with this program being used. DBT was developed by someone who suffered from the borderline personality disorder herself.

But I'm not using the Bible to cure my emotional issues. 

And that's not acceptable as far as he's concerned so he tends to not see any improvements I've made though others have noticed. But really, from my understanding of the Bible, God himself could use some DBT skills. I mean, talk about emotional disregulation!

And that's just one example. Probably the biggest issue is that sundown Friday to sundown Saturday is to be used for church only. There is to be no working, no spending money (no grocery shopping even), no chores outside of cooking. The girls are not to go to any parties or any other activities during that time. Yeah, pretty much every single birthday party and town event occurs on Saturday. Over the winter it's not too bad with parties because sundown is earlier but during the summer, the girls miss out on a lot and it really sucks. He won't back down from it either. And while I know that it's a deal with his church and not Christian churches in general, it is a big issue in our household and something that is really hard for the girls to understand especially with this past year being their first year in school.

If I didn't have my freethinker's group, I don't know what I would do. That's been such a relief for me. I'm able to get out once a month (most months) and spend time with people who are open-minded. Living with someone who only thinks one way, who only believes what one book tells him, is incredibly hard at times. There is not much you can talk about with someone who is that closed minded. To someone like that, the world is black and white. My therapist and I talk about it (no, I'm not seeing the nun though she's really nice but the therapist I do see speaks more my language) and talk about how it is fear that rules someone like that. We talk about my trying to understand that fear and being more compassionate because of it but there are times it is just too hard for me. I'm not able to empathize. And for sure, I'll never believe what he believes. I did try and I gave up a lot in the process of trying and in the end, lost part of myself.

I'm still trying to find that part, the part that would be there if I wasn't married to John.

One thing I've heard a lot is that the reason I'm an atheist is because of John. I was questioning my beliefs long before I met him. I was questioning them back my freshman year of high school. I don't think that would change. What might be different is what I would have been drawn to instead of Christianity. I had been dabbling in paganism when we first met and forced myself to abandon it because of his beliefs. Would I have stayed with it? Or would I have found another path instead? It's hard for me to know. I'm sure his belief system has influenced mine in some way especially as forceful as he has been about it. But how, I can't be entirely sure. It gets lonely sometimes though, being the lone atheist here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why Do We Need Heaven?

Writing last night's post kind of gave me an idea for another post. I was going to include it in the post last night but since it goes off of that topic a bit, I decided to make a separate post.

A Little Background 

I was baptized Lutheran (Catholic church wouldn't baptize me when I was born in 1980 because my parents had a civil marriage and my dad's first marriage was never annulled) but my mom had left the church when I was about five. At 10, I went to a Catholic church for the first time. I was enrolled in Catholic school shortly after that and had a crash course in Catholicism in the two weeks from the time I left public school to the time I started Catholic school. I knew nothing about religion really prior to that. I attended Catholic school from the second part of grade 4 through the first part of grade 9. I went back to public school starting the second semester of my freshman year of high school. I attended a Catholic University for three years but did not graduate and for the most part, I had avoided the religion classes. I had already more or less left the Catholic church at this point.

After marrying my husband in 2003, he rejoined his church in 2004. The religion he is part of is called The United Church of God. It is a split-off of a split-off of a split-off from the original Seventh Day Adventist Church. It is a Sabbath keeping church (Sabbath for him is from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) and keeps Biblical holy days including one called the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast is an 8 day holy week that is to give an idea of how the millennium of peace will be following the tribulations. The last day of this, the 8th day, is a separate holy day where the focus is on the final judgement of all mankind. I have attended services during a couple of the Feasts I attended (before I finally determined I was an atheist) and have somewhat of an idea about the belief systems here, probably more so than I do about the Catholic's beliefs regarding heaven so that's kind of the direction I'm coming from here.

A Perfect Community

Going back to my last post, regarding the movie, The Giver, I'm struck by the beginning where it goes into the communities following the wars. Forgive me for any spoilers though this doesn't describe the actual plot of the movie. There were wars leading to destruction (as wars tend to). Following these wars, communities were built. These communities are created and everyone is the same. There are no differences, no colors even. There are rules that everyone must follow. Everyone has their place. There is no famine, money, no contests, no winners or losers. Language is to be precise. You say what you mean and you don't exaggerate. You don't lie. Families are assigned. There are no relationships. There are also no animals and the climate is completely controlled. No suffering, no sadness. There is no fear. All needs are met.

Sounds like heaven, doesn't it? And even better, in heaven, you don't die. You live forever. Sounds like the perfect place to be. But, I'll be honest, it doesn't sound that perfect to me. It actually sounds kind of like a nightmare.

There's something to be said for challenges, for struggles. 

The positive and negative experiences of life give us something to live for, to fight against. What would the draw of living forever in the perfect place be? What would there be to live for? You're going to live forever. The kids you have will live forever. Day by day will be the same. You would follow the rules of the Bible day in and day out (ALL the rules, no cherry picking here anymore). Emotions couldn't be allowed. They could become dangerous. Even love because that could leave to jealousy and envy, even hate. We would have to be dumbed down because being overly intelligent would be problematic. Or worse, we would know everything there is to know. There would be no quest to improve things because it's the perfect world. Improving things could cause problems.

I wonder why there is such a need for heaven? I think the biggest reason is that the idea of death is such a frightening thing. We want to know that there is something beyond this life, that we will continue to live on after we die. We especially want this for those who died too soon, for those who didn't even get a chance to live because where is the fairness of that? I think people think of that aspect more so than what heaven would actually be like what heaven would HAVE to be like based on what it says in the Bible.

I don't believe heaven exists. 

And while I do sometimes fear death, fear that point where I no longer exist and struggle a little with that concept, I realize too that it is up to me to make my life one that is worth living because this is it. This is the only life I have and I need to make the most of it. And I think that is what drives us as a human species. DEATH motivates us to LIVE and to make the most of life, to try and answer the questions of the universe to know things we didn't know previously. We want to improve our lives and improve the world. I don't think that a perfect world would motivate us to live in such a way. We all need something to reach for, some reason to LIVE.

Thoughts? Would love to read them.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Elimination of Emotion in Future Worlds

I had an epiphany during today's skills group and it was sort of lead from my having viewed The Giver last night for the second time. It's a great movie and I recommend it. I have read the book as well (own an autographed copy of the book which I need to read again as it's been a few years). There's a scene from there I noticed especially. I think I'm kind of sensitive to these sort of themes in movies because of my own struggles with regulating my emotions (the movie Frozen is another one that really pushes the emotional buttons for me) but watching this I'm reminded of similar themes in other books I've read. Here's a clip from the movie:

So the idea is in order to have this perfect society where everyone is safe and fed and has a home, there can be no emotions, not just unhappy ones but happy ones too (there's a discussion between two of the characters later on in the movie so again, if you haven't seen it, check it out; I don't want to spoil too much of it).

Dealing with Difficult Emotions

By that I mean emotions that are so overwhelming in some cases, you can't function. How do you deal with that? How do you reach a place where you can use skills to deal with the emotions? And in talking about that, one thing that comes up is dealing with myths regarding emotions. Some myths being that emotions are bad, that we are our emotions. Emotions are not bad though. They are sometimes necessary; they are oftentimes lifesaving. They meet needs. And perhaps in a "perfect" society where all of our needs are met emotions are unnecessary but I don't think that's right either.

Emotions good and bad are eliminated.

It occurred to me that in a lot of dystopian type novels, emotions are somehow eradicated. In The Giver, it is through daily medication. In Brave New World, it is with something called Soma. Fahrenheit 451 used entertainment such as large walls of TV screens (eek, that one is hitting kind of close to home!). Utopian worlds do it too. In Star Trek, the more advanced species are the ones who have conquered their emotions and let only logic reason (except for that time of mating which always seems to throw people's emotions out of whack, dang hormones!). The more savage species is the Klingons who war and can't control their emotions and warlike ways. Some of the major characters are the ones who are half one of these species and half humans and have to struggle with the more emotional side of their genetics. Spock of the original series was half human and half Vulcan and struggled with his human side because of the emotional side. B'lanna, from Voyager, struggled with her half Klingon side and it was the human side that stabilized the emotions somewhat.

And yet having emotions is what makes us human. 

Having emotions also attracts those who were not human to be human. Data from The Next Generation (feel free to think I'm a total sci-fi nerd here) rejoiced when he finally was able to experience emotions as for him, that meant he was completely human. The Doctor from Voyager also worked to learn more about emotions, both the good and the bad (you can't have one without the other unfortunately) and used his desire to achieve more human like traits such as having emotions to help Seven of Nine reach her more human side (by again, reconnecting with the emotional side she had more or less lost while with the Borg).

So it's kind of interesting how we as humans have a sort of love/hate relationship with our emotions and how some see suppressing those emotions as the ultimate way to advance as a species. Perhaps we fear the primal side of those emotions. However, one skill we learn as those who are especially emotional is to accept our emotions, both the positive and the negative. The emotions in and of themselves are not the bad thing. It's our response to those emotions that can be destructive.

Thoughts? I'd love to read them!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Abandonment isn't Always Physical

One thing a person with borderline personality disorder struggles with is the fear of abandonment. A person will at times resort to a number of ways to prevent that abandonment including extreme people pleasing behaviors. But abandonment isn't always physical. The person doesn't have to leave to be abandoning his/her partner. The abandonment can be purely emotional. That can make it much harder to endure. Because here, the person is still there physically but isn't there to connect with you emotionally. You're stuck, feeling rejected and unsure how to change things. What's worse is that trying to change things by talking to the person who is abandoning you can lead to invalidation. When the person doesn't see that he/she is disconnected or worse, sees that they are but blames you for it, what can you do?

Relationships are like gardens. 

You can plant the seeds or put the seedlings into the ground but the responsibility doesn't end there. You have to continue to nurture your garden. You have to water it, you have the prune the dead leaves, kill bugs. You don't just leave your garden wanting for water or nurture. If you do, it will likely die. Sure you can kind of keep it alive by watering it just before it totally dies off, you can probably do that for a long time but the garden will never fully thrive, it will never reach it's full potential of beauty without being nurtured and watered and taken care of.

That has been the state of my garden for a long time. I've hung in there, nearly dead, desperate for that bit of water and when I get it, I drink it up greedily and I'm able to continue on for a little longer. And yet, it's not enough anymore. A life worth living is not being a garden in a constant near state of death. Being abandoned by a gardener who only waters me when he wants to see my flowers does not make my garden beautiful and vibrant. I can not rely on him to give me what I need.

I've spent many years trying to please people. 

Growing up, it was my parents. I worked hard to get good grades only they weren't celebrated. I often did what they wanted even when it wasn't what I wanted. It did nothing. It didn't make them love me any more and in the end, when I finally did start to break away, it lead to tragedy. Not that I'm at all responsible for that tragedy but their need for control (control I was trying to take back for myself and away from them) did lead to their own impulsive and destructive choices.

And my reaction to that was to make sure that didn't happen again. Don't make waves. Don't make anyone mad. Conform. And I did that and slowly, I lost myself. And like it was with my parents, it wasn't enough. It never is. And now, as I'm finding myself again, the rejection worsens. The divide grows deeper and the garden is left longer and longer without care and water.

But I know better now. 

I'm not 23 anymore. I have learned that my happiness is important and while others may abandon me, I'm still here for me. The only person I need approval from is me because this is MY life. It is up to ME to make my life a life worth living, to decide what values I will live by. I can't live for others anymore. It doesn't make anyone love me more or want to be with me more because it's not real. Holding back who I really am from others keeps me from living life fully. I can no longer let my fears of abandonment keep me from living a life worth living.