Sunday, March 9, 2008

On Becoming Human

I was living in a caravan by a river. I had animals and trees and water. I was talking to God every day. But I was racked by intense pangs of loneliness. And a rising awareness that I was going slowly and irrecoverably mad.

It was at the peak of one of these experiences that I decided once and for all to become human.

Of course, looking back, I can see the stages of my growth clearly. The physical, the social, the mental. Learning about the intrinsic importance of relationships and how the past creates the present.

Where to begin?

Of course, at the beginning.

As a child of alcoholic parents (see the link for typical psychological results from alcoholic parents’ ), I felt ostracized from society. My upbringing was compounded by one of my guardians being a criminal, and teaching various versions of anti social behaviour.

I did not relate to the children at school, or the TV programs, or anything I was exposed to.

Surprising for me to remember, it was the little things that hurt me most. Like not getting Easter eggs at Easter, or presents at Christmas or remembering birthdays. This didn’t happen all the time. Just sometimes.

The little scratches of criticism. Being laughed at.

The obvious lack of trust and suspicion.

I relied upon myself more and distrusted the world to take care of me.

I put myself into my own hands at the age of 14. My guardians at the time left me with my grandmother. After two weeks they called and delicately explained that they didn’t want me any more, and wouldn’t it be best if I lived with my grandmother? It was the last blow to my self esteem, and pinpoints the final curtain of my childhood.

I hated just about everything.

I spent my time writing abuse or fantasy romance fiction.

I sneered at my friends in my mind while smiling with my mouth.

I read books.

I ate chocolate.

I watched old Hollywood movies.

I sat and seethed in bubbling bitterness.

I had terrible migraines where I couldn’t move my head and where the smallest hint of light was akin to a laser piercing my frontal lobe.

I had a few ‘crazy’ attacks… seeing things where they shouldn’t be and throwing myself down stairs and banging my head, literally, against a brick wall…

It all got too much for me and I decided that if I couldn’t live with humans (because their hypocrisy made me sick), then I would live far away.

And I moved to the country.

Being willing to change

If I wasn’t open to change, I would have stayed an embittered, arrogant, annoying and ready to self explode ‘wannabe’ human.

Instead, I recognized that the life style I was leading, and the way I was thinking was detrimental to my physical and mental health.

I opened myself up to a different way of thinking.

I admitted that I was not sure how to proceed with my life and I took some time out until I got my feet back down on the ground.

I read a lot of books and thought a lot about my child hood and tried to make a bit of sense from it all. I wrote a lot. I wrote all the time. I wrote when I woke up, while I was eating my lunch and I wrote before bed. I wrote down everything I could remember from my childhood. I wrote down the positives and the negatives and I thought about things from my parent’s point of view and from my friends point of view and tried to shift focus.

I stopped being a victim of other people’s lives and started to take responsibility for myself and my choices.

What I discovered

I discovered the importance of the past and memories and how the future is created by the thoughts we have about ourselves and our place in the world. And of course, how important it is to have a positive, loving and supportive relationship to our parents.

So what if you don’t have it?

Then you start by creating a new set of memories. I needed to be totally finished with all of the memories and to do the best I could at that moment of accepting my life so far, and being willing to start fresh with a new understanding of what I wanted out of life.

So where to look for books on how to live?

I looked everywhere. I looked at life (and I still do) look around me with eyes on HOW people are living, what motivates them, what their priorities are, what inspires them… and because I am creating my life as I go, I take with me what ever I find positive and helpful.

I am creating the tradition of me. I am creating a blue print on how to be human. I am writing the guidebook I wished I’d discovered when I was 21. The born again guide to life and living.

Of course, it was difficult. Especially since I had so many hang-ups about myself.
I set about facing my fears in a systematic and progressive way.

The first one was admitting that I needed other people. And trust. (an issue that comes up periodically – so yes, no matter how hard I have worked and for how long, sometimes remnants of the past still resurface. Instead of seeing it as hopeless and demotivating, I smile and work through it again and again until I see it through).

I had no social skills. I didn’t know how to small talk. I was insecure about my body. I wore baggy clothing. I didn’t feel comfortable with being a girl. I disliked older men in particular and disliked breasts and bottoms. I shied away from talking about sex and intimate words like ‘love’. I had zero tolerance on alcohol and drug use. I disliked children. I sneered at religions. I hated the word ‘fun’. I thought everyone in the world was stupid. I thought that the world, if it could, would hurt me and I had to keep vigilant at all times if I wanted to survive. I thought people could, just by looking at me, know that I hated them. And in return, they would hate me. I had dreams of killing my boyfriend. Hacking him to death while he laughed at me.

So, I had a long way to go. Every journey begins with the first step.

I moved back to civilization.

Little steps

I began by going back to university and becoming more involved in and respectful to my lecturers.

I stopped taking books with me to parties I was invited to, and began to at least look and listen to what was going on around me. I was fighting painful shyness and inability to know what to say to strangers.

I allowed people to speak about the weather and their children and their work without being rude or aggressive.

I began to engage in life rather than fight it.

And I began to notice I was happier and more relaxed and I didn’t suffer from headaches in the same way that I did before.

Finding my way

Slowly I began to open myself to change and I began to implement the new discoveries into my own life. Of course, it was very difficult at times. Of course I made mistakes.

It was important for me to accept my mistakes and learn from them, and move on. I had a previous pattern of berating myself severely for any stupidity I might have made. I had to give it up if I wanted to be happier.

After some years, I discovered that Buddhism made the most sense to me as a way of thinking. The world is suffering. We are meant to be happy. Happiness and health go hand in hand. The way to happiness is though understanding the ways of the mind. Our unhappiness is produced because we have unhealthy attachments to memories, to ideas, to material possessions, to everything we perceive.

Its honestly the only system of thought that makes any sense to me. When I read Buddhist texts, its like reading variations of my own mind.

I began learning about the effects of the mind on the body. I learnt about Chinese medicine and qigong, yoga, meditation, self healing, reflexology, massage, hypnosis, jains, symbolism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, revelation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the list goes on.

I drank alcohol.

I went out and made friends with absolute strangers. I kept contact with friends I made.

I learnt all the social rules.

I went to work and earned a living.

I leant to appreciate and like children and understand their importance in the future of the world.


The problems

I was shy.

I associated exposed flesh as sex.

I associate sex with ‘bad and stupid’. (partly because the teenage girls and boys who were my peers were absolutely no role model for me at the time)

I thought I was over weight.

I thought I was plain, unattractive.

I hated to show my bottom, my derriere, my tush, my behind, my bum. (even writing those words make me squirm)

The solution

I tried to become interested in fashion and what other girls my age were thinking. I bought and read fashion magazines.

I experimented with fashion and thought about clothes that might suit and even flatter my figure.

I bought and experimented with make up.

I forced myself to talk to the male of the species without imagining they were all sex maniacs. I pictured them as ‘human’ – with NO sex. It helped at the time. I ignored the negative thoughts in my head about men and tried to see what was REALLY happening, not what I THOUGHT was happening.

I trained my body and got to know it anatomically.

I read books about sex. I watched videos about sex. I forced myself to talk to people about sex and break the taboo of the word in my mind. Every time I came up against one of my restrictions, I questioned it and did my best to break the bounds.

I listened to the positive things people said to me about my appearance and ignored the negative.
I trained myself to listen to a compliment and let it settle into me, to honestly feel the words and then give thanks for it.

I used positive affirmations to assure myself that I was attractive.

I learnt about women and leant to enjoy being one.

I let love in and addressed it to myself.

What next?

I look around me and I see that many people are struggling with different issues. Most of us don’t feel enough pain or see our problems as being so big that they need addressing. Its only people who have had enough. Its only people who can not take it any more that look for help. And its for them, that I write and talk so much about these things.

My life at present is divided between increasing self knowledge and sharing it.

Of course, as usual, if you have anything to add, feel free to contact me or leave a comment.

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