Do I “choose” to be bipolar, or someone “chooses” to be a narcissist? No, no one chooses their chemistry or childhood; no one chooses their nurture or their nature. They do, however, choose what to do with it. This is difficult to accept, too. It took me so long to let go of a future that never existed for me. “I wasn’t meant to live this way…my brain should not be this way…” The reality is that it is and I am. No amount of should will change that. The more comforting reality is that bipolar is a label, a descriptor, an ingredient in the mixology of me.
“I am not everyone’s cup of tea; I’d rather be someone’s shot of whiskey” is my little mantra. In truth, regardless of a person’s –ism, -ist, -y, a relationship is like a mixed drink, and some combos do not work. It seems productive to unearth all of the awful things a person did to you, and blame them one by one. The truth is always, “I choose not to be hurt anymore, and this person chooses to hurt me.” The labels make the truth harder to see and the blame easier to shift. Two emotions are useless: guilt and blame. They will not help anyone. All the time I have spent hating myself and hating those that hurt me, finally awakened me to the reality that 1) if I cannot love me for all of me, how the hell can I expect someone else to, 2) it is not easy to love someone with a mental illness, because I struggle to even love myself, 3) if I don’t understand myself, I don’t understand others. My ex-husband said through tears once, “I’m not strong enough to love you.” I get it. We brought out the worst in each other, because everything I hated about me, I hated about him. In truth, that’s narcissism. Narcissius loved his reflection. A narc loves and hates their reflections in others and reacts accordingly. This is not relegated to a certain personality; this is a common human condition most feign ignorance to. Do you fall in love with people you have nothing or a lot in common with?
People seem obsessed with labeling their entire being in order to exclude those who don’t share their labels. This obsession of being a *good* mom versus a *bad* mom (insert any other noun/pronoun/grammatical entity here), being positive versus negative, good versus evil truly obfuscates the purpose of life which is to just…be. The middle, the center is as unique to each as much as their very self. The focus on labels overlooks the point that we are all mixed drinks of positives and negatives. Acceptance – true acceptance – is embracing the good and the bad, so that you can see neither is true. Peace is found only when vs. is removed.
Abuse, addiction, and mental illness share one common word: suffering. We can analyze all the bits and label them. All three are people who suffer and cause suffering. All people suffer and cause suffering. The purpose of religion, spirituality, and philosophy is to understand suffering as part of human nature, and love as the freedom of suffering. For years and years I have let suffering haunt me. I suspect my failed relationships are directly tied to my belief I deserved to be punished for what a shitty person I am. Did I mean to hurt people? No, in truth, I’ve only ever wanted to hurt myself. In love and life, though, that’s not possible. If you piss in the ocean, people swim in your piss – it may be diluted by volume, but there’s still piss. The stigma/schism of mental illness exists because the world is nothing more than The Emperor’s NewClothes. Everyone is wandering around in their skivvies, talking about how fine their outfits are. I’m fairly confident we are all cucumbers with anxiety criticizing other cucumber’s anxiety. The truth is we all suffer, some of us just have a label to describe our suffering.
Abuse & addiction are typically learned behavior. Mental illness itself can be a reaction to either – depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are all potential problems a victim may struggle with. It is easier to label someone and blame everything, but the reality is a person who hurts another is a person who was hurt by another. I watch my one friend hurting right now – her ex is an –ist/-y/-ict, and she cannot reconcile how she can KNOW that he is bad for her, yet still love him and miss him. The reality is that he is not just –ist/-y/-ict, he is a man she loves. He (and any other –ist/-ism-/-y aren’t all bad, otherwise you wouldn’t have good memories and likely would not have fallen in love.
Acceptance understands the good memories in conjunction with the bad to allow peace. So much energy is wasted on “stopping” loving them, but that’s like changing a tire on a car going 60mph. The heart and soul don’t understand all of these pretty words, timelines, etc. Hell, the mind doesn’t even understand as it tosses memories good and bad like chum in shark infested waters. Accepting that you love a person – labels and all – will allow you the freedom to feel your emotions and be at peace. To use labels in an attempt to categorize pain is like putting toothpaste in your eye to help you see better.
Pain & suffering is a game of hot potato until someone says “Enough!”
I read so many people spouting so much hatred towards those that hurt them, and all they do is perpetuate the pain with the illusion of peace. I am not a victim of abuse, because I dropped the potato. I dropped the potato by realizing as much as a person hurt me, I chose to perpetuate it. Behind the pain they gave me, is a person who is likewise in pain. If you seek to find commonality amongst all of our grammar-y differences, pain & suffering is one common thread. This is a reality our ego’s don’t like to realize, which is why hot potato doesn’t end. If you want to break the cycle in your life, you have to understand yourself – not them. “For every finger you point, remember 4 point back at you” A person attracts a “certain type” for a reason, and until that is understood…hot potato, hot potato…potato…potato…potato..
All humans deserve compassion, and an adult child/victim of child abuse is a very hurt individual. I had written before that victims of abuse are left with a blank equation to solve. Most of the musicians I admire the most are victims of child abuse – Corey Taylor & Maynard James Keenan – pop in my head. Even when Corey opened up about being molested, cavemen on the internet mocked him for having the indecency to cry about one of the most horrendous things anyone could share. In listening to both of these men speak of their past, a simple summary is, I realized I had no choice but to keep living. They took their pain, made poetry, and helped heal so many others. Neither cast aspersion to those that hurt them, nor identify with the past abuse or the problems that have arisen. That truth is a long hard road to come to, because like the past, you cannot change people. No matter how much you love (or hate) them. No matter how many adjectives you lump on them, people are not manners of speech.
Corey said in the interview, “We all wear masks, and even when you take off the masks, there’s still another mask you hide behind.” That’s all these adjectives are. They are diversions from doing the work of actually understanding yourself and being who YOU are. True acceptance and love is only found within. Like Narcissius, look in your reflection and genuinely say “I love you”. Unlike Narcissius, look deeper than the reflection – see the good, the bad, and love and accept it all. Unless you can truly say that about yourself, you will suffer – you can apply any mask or label you like.
I’ll go about my day unfollowing the nonsense in my Facebook feed, because I firmly believe I am who I surround myself with, and I am anything but an adjective.