Another #MeToo Story….

I’ve been struggling with intimacy more in the past three years than at any other point in my life. I’ve spoken and written and shared about my past experiences of trauma and abuse, but I haven’t really spoken or considered the last time I had sex and how traumatic it was. It’s such an experience I feel I need to share it. Trigger warning–rape, sex, dissociation, oppression, heteronormative fantasies, #metoo.

I met a guy on OKC who seemed really nice and kind. He came from a family that seemed chill, had a diverse past that he seemed unashamed to speak about, and seemed pretty well awakened to some things he’d been through. We had a lot in common. He brought me to Cafe Gratitude for the first time.
The first few dates we went on were very innocent. He was kind and understanding, he was interesting and interested. He took things slow and seemed like a good guy.
He stopped acting like such a good guy after we had sex for the first time though.

The date after our first sexual encounter I let him take me somewhere–a surprise location. I was a vegan at the time and he decided to take me to the San Pedro Fish Market. When we got there, I was peeved. Like–who brings a vegan to a place that hella glorifies and smells of meat? (Not the first time a date had done such a thing btw) But, I went along with it and got some fried veggies–which I didn’t eat because they were definitely fried with the fish and tasted like fish oil and made me wanna puke because I hadn’t had meat in over a year.
I let this all slide, thinking I was just over-reacting or being selfish or too dramatic. I let him take me back to his place for the second time, which was a huge, disgusting mess. The understanding and helpful person I often am (to a fault in the past), I suggested that I could help him clean some things before we hung out and watched a movie.

I was washing his dishes as he picked up some stuff. He came up behind me and started touching me. I was flattered, but also annoyed like–we’re doing something here dude. Can’t you be a little more patient? He would go do some other things and then come back and mess with me–but not ME the brain in the body, the person with cognitive decision skills and autonomy… just the body. I was boobs and ass and curves and vag.
At one point, without warning, he started undressing me. It wasn’t sexy, or cute. It wasn’t slow, or kind. There was no kissing or admiration or care for whether I enjoyed it at all. It was aggressive, forceful. (It should be noted this guy was about 6’4″ and built very muscularly and big. He was easily twice my size.) He pulled my shirt off of me even though I was standing right in front of a window, at night, that was open and overlooking a street. He pinned me against the counter and laughed that I couldn’t escape him. I asked him to stop, he continued. He’d successfully undressed my top half and was working on getting my skirt off. I got more pissed off and told him to stop–which seemed to excite him more. I didn’t have the ability to be more outwardly pissed off. Patriarchal conditioning told me men didn’t like mouthy girls, and I needed a man to survive in this world.
I was seething inside, but also telling myself I’d brought this on, it was somehow sexy, it was a part of some fantasy, I just needed to learn to enjoy it, sex was always uncomfortable when it was new, this was somehow totally normal and fine and I was the one making it seem not fine. (Rape culture, internalized, at its fucking finest.)

He ended up getting my skirt off, making me stand there in his kitchen–naked and powerless, exposed by bright lights and an open window. He picked me up and brought me to his room, there was hardly any kissing. He entered me without permission or a condom or foreplay–making it very painful, dry and unwelcome. It wasn’t even slow or gentle, not even a little–it was quick and forced. I was powerless.
After, I told him it hurt and that I was pissed off and I wanted to leave. He acted sorry for a second, then brought up some girl on his facebook that he had a crush on and started talking about her in front of me. I left, saw him one more time, then cut him off entirely. He reached out once to “explain” but didn’t actually say anything. I refused to see him in person, telling him he could say what he needed to say in text, and he only wanted to see me in person to say what he needed to say. So I never heard his explanation. This was my first real point of empowerment. I didn’t want his explanation. It was an excuse, and what he’d done shouldn’t, couldn’t, be excused.

After this, I decided I was not interested in sexual pursuits unless they were with people I knew very well and trusted–but then I began the journey through my mental health and wellness that I’ve been on for the past few years so sex has been the last of my priorities. My intimacy between now and then has been very limited. I am lonely often, and I wish I could develop sexual intimacy, but I do not trust myself or others in that context so I keep pretty much everyone at a physical distance. This is hard… as a human being I need physical connection and yet I am so traumatized by it that I often reject it and deflect it from even the most platonic of friends.

The thing that was the most disturbing about this last major encounter was that it was like being in a porn or some romantic film. I was living in someone else’s fantasy. Like, I know I’d seen this all somewhere before. I’d seen someone romantically pulling the clothes off of a woman as she is doing chores and lead her to the bedroom–but to live it with someone as if he is trying to recreate something he’d seen on TV… with no warning, communication, or boundaries… it was absolutely horrific–scarring. I felt out of control. I think I completely detached, dissociated and derealized the situation before it even happened. It’s taken me years to see that this was rape, and that my silence was accepted as consent, my struggle was seen as a part of the role play he was living out with me though he hadn’t asked me, and my words were completely overlooked. I was literally an object to his fantasy. I could have been any woman. He just needed a warm and compliant body.

I don’t see the point in sex in this manner. It’s a grotesque misuse of human connection. It’s a disrespect of who we both are as individuals. However, I know there are women who might have been totally down–hell I might have if situation had been completely different. But he treated me like we were on the same page–he assumed it and acted out of that assumption. Role play is totally cool and some people like it but it must be spoken about out loud. There must be rules and boundaries established FIRST. If you can’t have the conversation, you’re not emotionally mature enough to participate in it safely, and *you’re going to hurt someone*. Period. Same with S&M, and power play, and polyamory or ethical non-monogamy. These things are all awesome–beautiful even! I am super sex positive in the means of supporting what people want for themselves. I see it working for individuals and they love their sexual lives! I know its all valid and good when done with proper consent.
But you can’t, in any situation, ASSUME that someone else is on board just because they are present. You can’t assume based on body language. You MUST have the conversation out loud. Most of the women you know, if not every one of them, have been gaslit to believe that we have no authority over our own bodies. Even politics reenforce this in our minds. If you make the assumption that someone is interested in the same sexual things as you and act on that without a conversation, you’re taking advantage of that person’s oppression. You’re abusing your own power and privilege. You are a fucking rapist and you deserve to be punished–locked the fuck up and put through extensive therapy.

I am not brave enough to reveal the names of those who have sexually assaulted me–and I don’t even remember his name honestly. It’s been years and I’ve ignored it. Maybe I’ll gain that empowerment someday in a call for justice but I know now that the world would and could do nothing for me. The law is against me in this story. The timing is against me. The patriarchal forces that be are too strong.
Still, I share this in gruesome detail because it has the ability to open some people’s eyes to the importance of verbal consent–especially (but definitely not exclusively) in heterosexual encounters. I say that because these are the encounters that we see most on TV, movies, and in real life playing out these kinds of scenarios and making the lack of verbal consent seem like some kind of romantic connection. That’s not real. You may read body language, but you read it based on who you are and how you might react. You may think you know this person, but it doesn’t mean you actually do know them as anything more than a projection of yourself. The normativity of hetero sexual abuse is so harmful.

Frankly, if you can’t talk about sex, consent, etc… you’re not mature enough to have it. You’re not mature enough to act consensually, and I guarantee you will assault someone and think it’s ok and fine because you assumed you knew them well enough and there’s no evidence to hold you accountable. You’d still be fucking rapist piece of shit though.

I know that it’s really difficult and embarrassing to talk about sex sometimes–but it is infinitely harder to recover from rape and go on with a positive or hopeful attitude about sex and intimacy. The damage you could potentially do is not worth sparing your embarrassment for a couple of seconds. Also, if your hard-on depends on the lack of consent and asking consent is going to somehow ruin the mood, you’re turned on by some fucked up rapey shit and you need mental and emotional help so you don’t act on that in a way that will hurt others. It’s fine if you’re turned on by that, some of us can’t help what turns us on. But what you can help is how you know yourself and the tendencies you have to harm others so you can be conscious and outspoken in a way that keeps others from being harmed by you. We need to protect others from our darkness sometimes too, not just ourselves. Our traumas gone unchecked, our fears gone unspoken, these things project themselves out into the world and they harm us and others. The only way we keep others from being caught in our darkness is by bringing light to it ourselves and exposing ourselves for exactly who we are. Secret secrets are no fun. Secret secrets hurt someone–and this is how.

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Mental Illness from Within

I feel like mental illness is really difficult for people to grasp if they’ve never experienced it or if they’ve only experienced something slightly, or in a moment of grief or high stress or situational dis-ease, but not chronic mental illness. Many people will try to see it through their own understanding instead of admit its something beyond their experience or comprehension. Many people will see the expression of my emotion and they’ll relate it to their own and project their history on me, like I am simply making a mistake they’ve made and the answer is so simple.

If the answer was simple, it wouldn’t be an epidemic. If the answer was simple, we’d be fine. If the answer was simple there probably wouldn’t be an entire profession, including diagnosis, treatment and research, for us.

If the answer to mental illness was simple, I wouldn’t be sick.

But it isn’t simple.

We’re talking about the most complex organ of the body, the most mysterious, the most adaptive and ever changing. Not to mention, we are being diagnosed based on OUTSIDE appearances and behaviors, though the thing that’s wrong is INSIDE our minds, which can only be accessed through talking to us, and even then you’re not getting the whole story because a therapist who sees me one hour every two weeks couldn’t possibly get the whole story.

Its ok that you might not understand what people with mental illness go through. It’s ok if you can’t handle it, and it’s ok if you don’t learn about it. What’s not ok is that you put your own stories, assumptions, projections, and expectations on those of us who are suffering BECAUSE you can’t or won’t understand it.

The truth, though, from inside the mind of a mentally ill person, is that if I think of myself as a mentally ILL person, and hang out with people who only treat me like that, I will self destruct. I don’t want to be treated like I can’t handle “the truth” or like I’m some loose canon. I’m not and I know I’m not. But when I am in emotional distress, and very aware of it and reaching out for help, I really don’t need to be further isolated by someone who wants to speak to my illness and not to me. I am the person, human being, Rachel–not the illness. Talk to ME. I have BIG emotions sometimes, and those emotions are super tough and a lot of people don’t experience them or have a mind that can shut them down or out. I do not.

I spent much of my life going through periods of suicidal thoughts, grief, big emotions–grief, insignificance, existential worthlessness, constant failure, misunderstood, isolation, dissociation, derealization, terror, suffering…alone for most of it. Its the route of communication that my mind has accepted very readily because its the route of communication that was establishing while my mind was growing and developing.
I will continue to have suicidal thoughts and episodes. It’s a fact. If you’re close to me, you should know that, and let me know if you can’t be there for me in those moments. I can only get better one moment at a time. Yesterday, and this week, I fought my ass off against my illness–and I won. I am alive, and my feelings have passed, and the residue left over is being cleared with this post and a lot of journaling that will follow. But either way, a fierce competitor met me in battle yesterday and the wager was my safety–and I fucking won. So this is a day I should be celebrating and instead I am riddled with shame and afraid I’m messing everything up by being vulnerable, by having emotions, by needing help every once in a while, by being the person I am. I feel ashamed for having fought and won.

Thing is, these emotions I feel aren’t so different than the one’s everyone else feels. And for me they manifest in physical pain, which is also not unique. But they also come with great cognitive awareness–meaning when they happen they affect my mood, and my physical body, and my mind talk. Not everyone lets these emotions be more than a mood, and that’s great they have that capacity. I do not.

Truly, as much of a burden as my illness is, I think it is a godsend to some extent–maybe because thinking of it any other way makes me miserable, maybe because it really is. The fact that I can’t commit to either one as a definite reality is another curse/blessing. Either way, my illness is made easier through vulnerable expression of its thoughts and processing as it happens, unfortunately. But ever since I started being vulnerable I’ve had so many people tell me they were helped by or inspired by what I share. If I can help others through the knowledge I gain from suffering from this illness then it somehow makes the illness more bearable, less of a life sentence and more of a thing of purpose.

Because be assured, this emotional/mental awareness is a life sentence, an absolute prison, if another perspective on it isn’t sought and continuously reminded and affirmed.

I’m not crazy, stupid, unaware, self-centered, or unworthy of compassion and understanding. My perspective is not inherently wrong simply because it is different or seen through the eyes of my experience. I am not a drama queen for feeling the things I feel, I’m not seeking attention, I’m not on a drug bender. I’m not lazy because I can’t get out of the house some days. I’m not a stain on society because I can’t work full time.
I’m really annoyed by people second guessing me simply because they lack the full capacity to understand me or have run out of patience and don’t know how to just say it. Someone told me its not other people’s job to understand me. I guess they’re right. But I take that “job” as a simple piece of connecting with other members of humanity. So if it’s really work that you can’t do, I guess that’s fine for you. I on the other hand empathize with my own abusers to my own demise sometimes, without trying. Perhaps that’s what makes me miserable. Perhaps not. Frankly, that’s between me and my therapist anyway.

Point is, I’m not just reliving the projection of YOUR worst moment in life. If you see me through your eyes and you don’t suffer what I suffer, you’ll always be disappointed. This isn’t even my rock bottom. My rock bottom was way worse than where I’m at now. I am not you at your rock bottom and just missing the simple solution you found to get better. I am actually doing well, for me, whether you can see it or not.

So please, just stop with the assumptions and stigma.

Compassionate Support for Children

Today, I watched an incredible interaction between parent and child.

The child came into our music school for his music lesson– crying uncontrollably. His mom told his music teacher he was in a little bit of a mood, then she turned back to him and spoke to him very calm and reasonably. She asked if he was taking deep breaths, and told him he knew what he had to do to calm down. He started breathing bigger. She encouraged him, reminding him that music lessons are only 30 minutes, and he could make it through. He listened to her and asked for water. She asked him to say “please”. Kindly, and through tears, he did. She got him water, she talked to him until he was ok (though not done crying), and she left him deal with his emotions. He proceeded calmly to him lesson and made it through the half hour without another tear.

Here’s what amazed me about this interaction:
His mother wasn’t upset that he was upset. She wasn’t shaming him, she wasn’t embarrassed by him, she wasn’t taking his mood personally. She didn’t tell him to shut down his emotions, or speak to him like he didn’t have the capacity to manage them or that they were something out of line or burdensome. She didn’t tell him they were ridiculous or that he was being dramatic. She didn’t shame him for being male and crying–she didn’t tell him he should buck up or that boys don’t cry or to be “strong”. He was not in defense mode. His ego was not triggered. He was able to help himself with her guidance, patience, and calm support. She did not compromise her role as his teacher, nor did she take a disciplinary route I’ve seen so often.

I don’t see this kindness between parent and child often. I mean, in general I don’t see too many kids crying in public since I stopped teaching in the elementary classroom, but when I do usually the parent is trying their best, but they’re also tired and worn out and so I see emotion reacting off of emotion.
Often you’ll see a child’s emotions shut down, or a parent trying to help their kid but not totally understanding how, and so growing impatient. When a vulnerable and hurting emotional self is met with ego (defense or offense) the self will harden up and get more resistant to help or helping one’s self. Ego triggers ego, especially with children. When we can be mirrors for those we love in crisis instead of judge or fixer, we give others the safety and the support to help themselves.

I don’t mean to make judgments of parents who would react any other way. This mother has her privileges, some mothers don’t and that can affect their patience. I am just pleased to see this kind of enlightened parenting happening around me, to children I care about. This woman is clearly psychologically aware, and sees her child as able to comprehend his own mind and mental awareness. This is the kind of awareness that will lift the stigma off of those suffering from mental illness, as well as those of us who just have a lot of emotions.

We Are Valid, Regardless.

Sexuality and Gender are valid, regardless of whether or not they are scientifically backed. In other words, if someone feels they are some identity and tells you Who They Are, just respect them for who they are right there in that moment regardless of the “why”.

When I look back at my childhood, the signs and experiences of my sexual preference leaning more to women are littered throughout a confused flurry of memories and lies I told myself for survival. I’m pretty gay, and I always have been–but I haven’t always known or let myself know. I played straight kind of well–and lived the lie well for most of my life.
I told people I was straight for years, and nobody questioned it. Nobody asked why, or asked if I was sure (except maybe a close friend or two who knew some of my experiences with girls). It was a norm that was expected of me and so it was never questioned until someone knew about my high school girlfriend or something. Nobody really questioned my straightness, or my cis-gender and yet there is this part of society that seeks to ask why we are gay, trans, queer, non-binary, asexual, intersex, kinky, polyamorous even though they’d never ask why THEY are straight, cis, monogamous, vanilla, or binary.
It would be one thing if they were asking “why” to further understand and accept us, to integrate our experiences into their empathetic consideration and broaden their minds to include us in their perception of reality. However, this is rarely the case. As we see, people need to know how to fit us into the boxes their anxious minds have accepted as “Only Truth” and when we don’t fit, they claim we are mentally ill, invalid, confused, disturbed, or just gross.

If I have learned anything about the human psyche, it is that for someone to actually understand something when they are in a space of resistance, their ego’s game must be played. Their resistance must be met where it lives and their ignorant delusion must be validated in order to then be invalidated with broader perspective and fact. That said, I’d like to address the delusional aspects of people’s opinions of us quickly before explaining why they are irrelevant to the validity of our identities and preferences.

For many people on the LGBTQIA spectrum, we either know from a young age or later see that we SHOULD have known from a young age because the signs were always there. It’s something we feel as a truth of our reality at the core of our being, even if we don’t want it to be (due to internalized phobias from an abusive environment). Unfortunately, our community is one in which mental illness is VERY common because the abuses we suffer are extreme and target the core of our being in macro and micro-aggressive ways every single day. Many people misunderstand this phenomenon and think it must be the illness causing the LGBTQIA spectrum identity, but WE can tell you it is the treatment we receive for existing somewhere on that spectrum in a world with limited understanding of that diversity that causes the illness.
The assumption that a person is less valid in their identity because it may be a creation of their mental illness is laughable to many of us, but also probably something we’ve thought about if we were gaslit enough as children. However, since I know that is a suggestion of some of our oppressors, and some of our own abused minds even, I present two counter arguments to those who might believe such things.

First, the most commonly acknowledged treatment for any mental illness is for external parties to BELIEVE THE DELUSION (reality) of the “ill” person because often that is exactly what the person needs to heal themselves and live a healthy life. I generally have a love/hate with the word “delusion”, as it suggests a lack of reality, but the way in which I mean it is not necessarily trying to demean the experience. I think many realities, if not every reality humans experience, is some kind of delusion. We can look at love as a desperate means to escape loneliness, fueled by powerful drugs–oxytocin and seratonin. We can look at religion as a desperate means to escape fear of death and the unknown. We can look at ALL identity as simply facade and ego protection. The more we learn about the mind, the more likely it is that everything we experience is an illusion and creation of the mind–which is commonly know as a DELUSION when it is not shared by others or seen as fitting in to shared reality. This said, if my identity is a delusion, so is yours. Being straight and cis-gender is not a strict reality in history, in nature, in mind, and clearly not in the present world, as my existence proves. The LGBTQIA+ community, who is just as valid in their existence as anyone not in that community, is a testament to that–because all humans are equal in their inherent value and existence, and so are their realities, even if those realities are seen by outer parties as a “delusion”. In short, You cannot invalidate one reality without invalidating them all–or else you are a victim to a supremacy complex and your mind does not inherently see through the eyes of equality–meaning YOU are mentally ill with Narcissist Personality Disorder or something like it. If your eyes do not see through the eyes of equality, truly YOU are the one who is ill–lacking in empathy and the ability to comprehend that which is new or different. Cognitive dissonance. Narcissism. These are the illnesses of ignorance. So either all of our experiences make up the whole, on equal grounds of validity, or none of them are real and we are all useless carbon creatures on a tiny planet in the middle-of-nowhere-whatever-space-is-blah.
Still, that said, even IF my identity were a result of mental illness (which is a result of both Nature [my biological sensitivity] and nurture [the abuses of those who sought to make me straight and cis]), a queer and non-binary identity and life is what my hurt mind needs to exist in this world, that MUST BE ACCEPTABLE. If it is not, the only other choice I am given, personally speaking as a depressive/dissociative/anxious being, is suicide or death by not living. Mental illness is chronic for many of us, and when it is severe it cannot be CURED, only coped with and made less severe. If my coping is to avoid men for the rest of my life and not see myself through the eyes of binary gender, THAT MUST BE ACCEPTABLE or the only other choice I have is death and misery.
So basically, assuming that all humans are valid and equal, and we all exist on an inherently equal plain of reality, even IF someone’s identity as LGBTQIA is the result of emotional trauma, mental illness, confusion, experimentation, etc, IT IS STILL VALID AND DOES NOT NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED BY SCIENCE OR RELIGION TO BE ACCEPTED.
Self identity is, for all of us, necessary for the calming of the mind. Truly, I am sorrowful to anyone who sees themselves strictly through the eyes of others, as I have been there before and it is SO very painful to the core of my being. But even that is my own perception of someone else’s reality, and may be a misinterpretation of how they live their lives. If someone needs, even for a moment, to see and be seen, themselves, as something, why does it matter to you? If that is what they need, and it’s a matter of life or death, why not just let them have what they need to live? It’s so easy. And yes, people do need things for survival and for some of us it is something as abstract as expression of our Selves in a way that is outside the accepted “norms”.

My second, and more important argument is this–you should not assume you know someone better than they know themselves. If you are projecting what you SEE someone as onto them as their identity, you are seeing them, and asking them to see themselves, through YOUR eyes. Basically, If you hold, in your heart, a respect for another human being then their identity should not matter to you insomuch that you don’t accept who they tell you they are. Also, you should try to hold respect for every person you meet as an individual beyond that which you SEE them as. That is respect. That is giving one the benefit of the doubt.
Love is a thing beyond this world and who we are in it, but we have to live every day in a painful and harsh reality too. Regardless of anyone’s spiritual beliefs, just living in a human body is painful for some people, and they should be allowed to seek any perspective they need, so long as it is self reflective and not projective, in order to live in peace with their own mind, body and reality. Identity is something we ALL assume in some form or another. The identities which should be offensive are not the one’s which seek to validate self through reflection and discovery, as the LGBTQIA+ community does. If any reality is to be questioned it should be those realities which actually hurt other people, those rooted in ignorance and supremacy, which lack empathy, compassion, and basic psychological understanding, because those hurt our species and our world. I only say that even because those identities (such as alt-right or evangelical extremists) seek to draw lines of limitation and separatism, breeding a certain assured self-destruction of the human species.

Point is–if someone wants to “Switch to girls cuz men are trash”, still fucking valid.It does not mean all lesbians are man haters, and it doesn’t mean others weren’t born gay. It means, that person found themselves to be prefering women. That doesn’t mean it’s a choice, and it doesn’t mean other lesbians weren’t born gay. It’s a spectrum, all reasoning accepted. If someone wants to “Identify as asexual for now” because they’ve been traumatized and can’t imagine sex anymore and don’t feel connected to sex at all, it doesn’t need to invalidate anyone else, and it shouldn’t be used to invalidate asexuality in general. By the principles of equality, the mind creating our perceptions of reality, and the self being a part of that, that identity is still valid and it may be what they need to heal from trauma, and it may be who they were born as and they are just now realizing it. Asexual is a spectrum on which the “Why?” can be many things–as is gender and sexual preference.

Stop thinking that how YOU see someone from the outside is how THEY experience themselves from inside.

That’s often not the case. And if you think what you see from the outside is more valid an identity for THEM than the one they know and feel from inside their own life and mind and body, YOU are the one projecting. YOU are the one forcing someone else into YOUR delusion. YOU are the narcissist, and YOU are the one who is ill and harming others with your illness.

When someone shares their inner reality with you, their inner experience of themSelves, it is a gift.

It is a serious insight into something and someone so divinely different and yet so divinely the same and your Self. It is the universe meeting itself, it is God, it is love and empathy and vulnerability and faith and grace. It is the connection we all need and seek to some extent. It is interdependence. It is expansion. It is intelligence. The seeing of the world through someone else’s eyes, the seeing of someone else through their OWN eyes, these things are invaluable gifts being shared with you for the sake of mutual growth toward universal love and acceptance. To dismiss them because it challenges your reality is to turn down this gift to maintain the comfort of your delusion–at the expense of someone else AND your self-growth.

So here’s my final statement. Some of us were born this way, some of us discovered ourselves late, some of us still aren’t sure and are exploring to find where we fall on this vast spectrum of infinite possibility, some of us are scared, some of us are hurt, some of us are sure and some of us are questioning, some of us are going to be one thing for the rest of our lives and some of us may change identities with outfits. Regardless, because we know who we are and what we need better than anyone outside of us knows, we are valid and our identity, expression, and preferences are valid. We do not need a scientific, spiritual, or psychological justification to be LGBTQIA+. We do not need societal validation to BE valid. We are inherently just as valid as all others, because no one reality gets to decide what IS and IS NOT truth. It is ALL realities that come together to create the balance of creation and truth in the universe, including those which challenge 2000 years of invented and conditioned imperialist “normalcy”.

In Defense of Your Ego

Ego is not your enemy. In fact, YOUR ego should be one of your greatest friends–and here is why.

Ego is, at its most fundamental, a survival mechanism. In the old world of hunter/gatherer lifestyles, ego is the fight or flight mechanism which sees trouble and makes you outwardly express your macho vibes through inwardly triggered hormone responses, so you can defeat or run from an enemy which threatens your physical body. Ego is the subconscious, or autopilot, triggered into reaction when you sense danger.
In the Modern world, our greatest daily dangers are very different. Danger is based on anything which threatens your survival. Nowadays, surviving in our world doesn’t mean you have to go defeat a wild beast for food or outrun large prey as it once did. Most of us are simply working to put money in the bank so we can use that money for our basic needs–food and shelter (and the growing mandatory of insurance and taxes). To make money in our world, one must have a certain attitude, sometimes style or identity to fit into. In our world, danger to our income and survival means being judged, unloved, and thereby unsuccessful in the world where survival is based on success and acceptance. The ego has a very similar role for us now as it ever did, but it is in hyper vigilant mode. It seeks to build us up so we can withstand criticism and get what we need to survive–money to buy basic needs–which we can’t make without some kind of “fitting in” and finding acceptance.

I want you to only consider your own ego for a moment, and not how egos interact with one another. Your ego is that voice in your head which might say something like, “I’m rubber, you’re glue,” or ” A healthy ego, at its core, should be able to see another person for their truth and stand alone in validating your truth, internally, so that the other person does not get harmed by your self soothing turning into projection. A healthy ego is one which primarily remains in the mind until it is able to back down because the emotional self no longer feels unsafe, threatened or attacked. It should also still be able to trigger you into fight or flight if your physical body is being realistically threatened. It should also be able to trigger you into fear and self realization if you are about to die of something self afflicted so you can save yourself. Most importantly, a healthy ego is one which will submit to it’s owner, your higher/eternal/divine self, and which can be checked without being triggered into an outward response. The ego is a friend, and helper, but should never be given full reign of the mind.

However, unfortunately, not many of us have healthy egos, because a healthy ego must be healthily trained as it is developing and that happens in childhood and adolescence. No humans are perfect, and certainly young parents are not perfect and so by the nature of our imperfections, our parents are bound to do a thing or two which hurts our egos in a negative way, and some of us are bound to misunderstand that and internalize it without resolve so it becomes a subconscious/automatic reaction to similar aggressions in the future. This is called hyper-vigilance in the PTSD world, btw. It comes from the idea that everything in the world is out to get us which is conditioned into all of our thinking from a young age, some more than others depending on your experiences.

That said, there is means to healing a hurt and broken ego, and it’s not what has been taught. Often when we discuss ego, we are thinking of other people’s and not our own, and so we look at the ego with a lot more criticism than it deserves. We internalize this criticism, unknowingly, to our own egos and create a resistance in our own mind between ego and acknowledged Self. As I said, ego is a helper, and a friend. It’s only trying to keep you alive.

If you’ve ever been told that you need to be kind to yourself, I recommend beginning with your ego. That is, your emotional, reactive self. The critical voice in your head which tries to keep you within the bounds of “societally acceptable” so you can fit in and get the love, and money you need to live in today’s world. That is– the defeated/critical voice in your head that says, “I’m/You’re just nothing and deserve Nothing. I’m/You’re cruel and so deserve cruelty.” We think the goal, initially, is to change that voice. Have you ever tried? Perhaps you’ve been successful… and if so you’re a step ahead, but if not–keep reading.
That voice is not something you can change or rewrite when you are seeing it as an other and treating it as an enemy. You cannot control your enemy through further criticism, it just creates further resistance. You also cannot control Others, so as long as you see, or hear, or experience your ego as an Other in your life, you will not be controlling it. Also, since this thought of ego as an “other” is actually an illusion, the truth (that the ego is as much You as your higher self is You) is that you cannot kill/destroy/lose it unless you kill/destroy/lose yourself too.

You’ll notice something with ego… as you try to fight it, it will fight back. As you try to trick it, it will learn the trick and trick you back. As you think you’ve overcome it, you’ve actually become it and fully embodied narcissism, even, and most especially, through your spiritual beliefs. There are many real world examples of this which I will not go into now.
This, to me, is philosophical proof that the ego is One with Self. It learns as we learn, grows as we grow, because it is not an other–it is a true and necessary piece of who we are as mortal, temporal, living human beings. Your higher, eternal self may be without ego, but as a living person on this planet, with pain and trauma and threat, your mind WILL be triggered into protection and your ego WILL come out to do its job, as it evolved to do.

This said, the first thing you must do to “defeat” the ego is to become one with it. If you have trouble empathizing with your Self, being gentle to your Self, try instead to identify your ego, through your thoughts and actions, and stop resisting it. Embrace it and work on empathizing with it first. It is your most emotional self, your most primal, and your most ancient self. It is not eternal, as the soul, but it is ANCIENT. Respect it. Know it has a purpose and it is there to help you. It will also blossom into your most awakened inclinations when it sits right hand to your higher self, because it is the ego-made-vulnerable which experiences connection and love.When the ego stops fighting, you are at one with yourself, and only then is true, unconditionally, eternal love known and experienced through healthy connections with human beings in the present moment.

Most of our egos are reacting to things which happened when we were young. This means when you were young something happened, you internalized a reaction which eventually got you the result you needed in the moment, and so your subconscious mind stored it away as “What to do when __________ happens to Me.” Until you recognize the pattern and consciously change it, it will repeat. This repetition is the definition of insanity, as it cannot possibly yeild any different results unless we find new filters through which to see it, and we find those filters in other people to project onto–which is not kind always.

This means that when you have an ego reaction, instead of hating it, or yourself for it, empathize with it. Find some space to be alone and literally ask yourself some questions. Why did I react that way? What about that reaction was legit for this moment and what about it may be coming from another moment I lived previously? When was the first time I felt this way and reacted this way?
You’ll usually find you were young, and being abused, and couldn’t have done any different in the moment–but can now.

You’ll need to empathize with the ego to even get there though, because the ego will not reveal the first moment to you until it surrenders, or becomes vulnerable, and the ego can only become vulnerable through 1)self submission or 2)empathy. THE EGO MUST FEEL SAFE TO SUBMIT. Empathy provides us with an emotional safe space, and so if you empathize with your ego entirely, without criticizing it, it WILL submit to vulnerability and you will find the real thing which triggers you into those reactions that you do not like.

Ego should not be shunned or shamed, it should be integrated. When we develop a relationship with ego, and then the emotional self/inner child, we feel more One with ourselves, forgiveness is easier, and the ego eventually melts away because we do not fear. This leads us to the eternal self, the one which does not fear death or pain or take things personally because it does not identify with time or personhood. This eternal self loves learning and growth and yet knows already. This is the eternal self which accepts death, and outside of DMT triggers through drugs or actual death, it can only be experienced through relationship with and submission of the ego–which can only be had through providing one’s ego with a safe space to be vulnerable of it’s true pains, concerns, worries and fears.

Only through truly accepting yourself can you become who you are.

This is an incredibly difficult concept to write about clearly, as the contexts and things can change so drastically, so if anything does not make sense, please ask me for clarity even if you do not agree so I can be challenged to better explain myself and the concept I’m developing/discovering.