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C13P40 Ignorant on the Basics

C13P40 Ignorant on the Basics published on 8 Comments on C13P40 Ignorant on the Basics

There may be a more personal reason Dream Eater finds ignorance so unbearable.  Vision certainly delights in twisting the knife.

NPR (National Public Radio) is celebrating graphic novels and comics for summer reading!  They are asking for recommendations from readers and webcomics are welcome!  Their poll is super quick and easy, so if you’d like to submit LeyLines that would be super ultra awesome cool of you.  Who knows, with enough votes, we might make the list.  How crazy would that be??

When talking about chill last update (and how I don’t have any) I mentioned swimming.  Exercise and a lack-of-chill have a weird little cross-section for me.  And while swimming hasn’t been a perfect solution (turns out, wherever you go, there you are with all your baggage) it has been a pretty good fit for a lot of things.

I’ve talked a bit about swimming in the past when I first started visiting the pool, and I am still going regularly.  This is a record for me, with a self-imposed (ie: not required for a class or run by an authority figure) exercise routine.  One of the things I have been working on is that my mind is always trying very hard to find ways to turn this low-stress environment into a high-stress one.  There was one swimmer that kept happening to be there at the same times I did, and I kept getting very strange vibes from her.  Like…I kept feeling that I made her very uncomfortable in some way?  We never spoke or interacted, but there were little things that my hyper-vigilant mind would pick up on and fret about.  So my swimming experience would become narratives of, “What did I do wrong??” or “How can I make sure that I don’t make this person uncomfortable?” or “What is this lady’s DEAL???” depending on my mood.

It was probably me creating a pattern in coincidence.

Urg.  Except that’s me throwing my instincts and intuition under the bus again, which is something I’ve been trying to learn not to do.

Maybe I was picking up on something.  Perhaps she was an anxious person too, and that was the source of the odd little cues I kept seeing.  I’d describe them to you, but the kinds of things I pick up on are so minute that it’s somewhat pointless to describe.  A flick of the eyes, a pause, a hesitancy in a step, a change of tone, a shift in a nebulous “mood” — I’m on constant alert for this kind of thing.  I first heard this described as “hyperawareness” in Hannah Hart’s book Buffering, which a friend sent me because they thought I’d relate to it.  They were right.  Funny how vastly different kinds of parental negligence/abuse can result in strangely similar coping mechanisms.

The way Hannah described hyperawareness was:

“I survived the environment I grew up in by training my brain to function by ‘surviving,’ a state of extreme awareness in which I was constantly inputting information and making judgments to protect myself and my loved ones.  But as I grew older and entered the ‘thriving’ stage of my life, I encountered a problem: the habit of hyperawareness followed me, and I became, well, very judgmental.”

It’s something that I’ve been thinking about ever since I read that, because being judgmental is something I struggle with a lot.  I do not WANT to be a judgmental person, and usually if I get that way and then stop to think about it, I conclude that just because I personally wouldn’t do something doesn’t mean I think it’s bad someone else does.  Provided a person doesn’t impede someone else’s rights, I generally do not care how others define themselves.  You do you!  We are different!  That is great!

Yet when I feel threatened, out comes the judgmental side.  Out comes the guilt that judges the judgements.  Out comes a whole host of other anxieties, and before you know it, I’m agonizing about the flicker of an eyelid or a sidelong glance and how it all means I’m a terrible person. I’ve been wondering about how these patterns connect with framing narratives my mind produces, in which I can present myself as inferior (they were right to do XYZ) or superior (how DARE they do XYZ).  Why all this garbage narrative?  Why all these imaginary fights in my head, getting my heart racing with fight/flight adrenaline?

It occurred to me recently that all that pomp and circumstance was for this purpose: To be permitted to FEEL the EMOTION.

I grew up in a home where emotion was not generally tolerated.  In one of my sister’s letters to convince me to return home, she essentially wrote “Mom and Dad are fine if you just don’t feel.”  The idea that her recommendation was to stop feeling emotion as a solution…well, pretty much highlighted the whole reason I left.

(I no longer open any letters from family members.  It’s possible that one of my family is still using this blog as a cyber-stalking venue. If that’s the case: I do not open things sent to me.  They go directly in the trash.  Please respect the boundaries I have repeatedly established.)

What I realized is that the only way I felt safe to feel any emotion, particularly a negative one, was to frame it within superiority/inferiority judgements.  When I stripped that all away and just let myself say:

“You know what?  I am ANGRY about that!  I am HURT by that!  This upset me!”

The need for allllll of those judgements just…vanished.  I don’t need a complicated narrative to be allowed to feel how I feel.  It does not need a reason, justification, or moral outrage.  It is enough just to feel it.  I don’t have to act on it.  I don’t have to change what I think or do.  I just have to acknowledge the state I am in without judging myself for it.

This blog has gotten away from me a bit…but I guess the core of it is what I said at the start: Turns out, wherever you go, there you are with all your baggage.

The cool part is that by learning about myself, I can change the luggage that I’m carting around.  Maybe someday, it won’t weigh quite so much.

How have you changed the nature of the baggage you bring with you?

8 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

This flashback is painful in many ways, but I’m still really stuck on Vision bringing his head full of fire INTO A LIBRARY. DUDE. Do they have a printing press in Ley Lines verse? I DON’T THINK SO.

As far as feeling emotions go, I’ll just repeat what I said last time. Anyone who really loves you will not want you to change who you are. They will welcome your feelings because they love you.

Also, random strangers are so caught up in their own head that they are probably not giving you a second thought. Or, if they are, it’s because they are also anxious people, and they are thinking about what you’re thinking just as much as you’re thinking about what they’re thinking. I have those problems too, and I try to reframe it by focusing on the inherent ridiculousness of the situation.

I have found that searching for humor is one of the more effective tools in my growing toolbox for dealing with this stuff. If I can laugh at myself or the situation, it doesn’t seem so all-encompassing or serious. And that is a great relief!

Just as long as you’re remembering that everyone gets into these situations, and that you’re not weird for feeling weird about it. It’s funny because society puts us in this little boxes and makes us think strange things because it says so, not because there’s something wrong with you.

Oh, man, my baggage still tends to f*** me over when I’m not looking. It helps, though, for me at least, to bring it into the light of day. When I have an irrational thought or emotion, I start tracking it back to the source, and then I shine a big old mental spotlight on it going “I see you baggage! I see you there! You’re what’s causing me to do this!”

And then usually I can either make steps to move past it, or steps to mitigate it. Sometimes just explaining to someone, “This is why I feel this way. I’m sorry I overreacted but I have a very negative history with ______,” can help empower me and most people understand.

Another way I reframe it is to help others, too. Like where I’m seeing warning signs in a friend’s bad relationship or noticing signals of depression in others, I can reach out and say “something doesn’t feel right, do you need to talk?” and if they ask for advice, I know how to both give it, and also sympathize and empathize with their struggles because I’ve been there. Learning how to turn these awful things that have happened to me into a tool to empower the people I love has been a blessing.

On the note of hyperawareness and overadapting to your surroundings, that reminds me a little of an anime I’ve been rewatching recently; the main character grew up with a mentally and emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive mother who the show portrays as…. having very sudden and abrupt mood swings and not being ‘all there’ all the time (though she’s never said to have any specific disorder). So he’s learned to be hyperaware himself, and how to mitigate his own moods and emotions to mentally ‘blend in’ with others and completely control his body language and expression, which makes him extremely talented at what he has to do in the show. Eventually he decides to take this talent, which is portrayed as being extremely useful for destructive purposes, and uses it to help people instead and proves he can choose his own destiny after all.

I like narratives like that that take something negative and turn it into a strength – and narratives which acknowledge many different kinds of uses for the same talents, and the ultimate powers of choice that all of us have.

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