I feel my feet on the ground, but are they really holding me up?
I feel my hands working, doing what they need to get things done, but they get tired too quickly.
For many years I’ve been able to seem functional. I’ve spoken to people as fluently as I could. I’ve walked from one place to the other without falling. I’ve done many things that might not raise suspicion of any challenges. I’ve gone through the world just like anyone else.
I’ve survived. I’ve survived, but that’s it. That’s all that most people do. They just survive.
As a young child going through the motions of growing up I was aware that most people spend their lives surviving. They have some activities that keep them occupied, they eat just healthy enough to get by, they sleep, and wake up the next day, and repeat. I noticed this. It seemed like something that made sense. Perhaps it was not too exciting, but it was nice to see how humans managed their lives.
As I made my way into adolescence I realized humans were the most unhappy, and stuck creatures that lived on Earth. I noticed that some humans were happy, and content, but most people were only going through the motions for survival, and that’s all they were doing.
“You going to get your permit, right?” All my friends would ask me. Perhaps some would show off their permit, which was a piece of paper or plastic card that was kept in their wallet to show that they were allowed to drive a car. This was one of many things humans felt obligated to do to survive.
“I’m not sure.” I’d answer.
Eyes would widen. Jaws would drop and friends would say, “Oh, come on! You’ve got to get your permit! Don’t you want to drive?”
I found it hard to be honest with my friends. It was clear to me that getting this tiny thing that allowed me to drive was pretty important to everyone. It was apparent that if I didn’t want to get this little thing then I was an unfit human in the world of survival tactics. It was clear that if I spoke honestly then I’d probably disappoint a fair amount of people causing the world as they knew it to blow up, like a mushroom cloud. I’d hate to cause such a thing and I also didn’t have enough time to process why I wanted to say “No”. I didn’t feel I had enough room to claim what felt authentic to me, and to say how I felt with confidence. So I said…
“I’m not sure. We’ll see.”
That shut them up for a little while.
As time rolled on, there was always someone that was ready to throw their opinion into the air like a T-shirt launcher at a sports event.
So I walked through the world feeling perpetually off kilter. I always felt unsteady on my feet. My hands would work for me, but not without the occasional burnout. The mind would wear many hats, including but not limited to Full-time Cheerleader, Facilitator, Therapist, Bully, Egomaniac, Abuse Addict, and The Orphan Child. The mind ran the show to oblivion. The mind was under a lot of pressure to build a persona that it was not ready to create. This went on for many years.
“You going to vote, right?” Friends would say, “Who you going to vote for?”
The mind would ask itself the same question. The peanut gallery of hats that the mind had on and that worked full time, overloaded the mind, thus effecting the ability to respond authentically, and efficiently.
Friend’s eyes would plea for an answer. Their bodies were impatient and mouths tightly closed holding back the desire to blurt out, “Duh! Of course you’re going to vote. Geez, just say YES ALREADY!”
The Bully side of the mind would kick in, “Look at that body language, man. You’ve got 10 seconds before she self-destructs. Don’t dawdle. 10…9…8…”
The mind would get tense, it would twitch, and get anxious listening to the timer it created based off of outside influences. It would answer, “I don’t know. I don’t know about voting, or who I’ll vote for. I’m still thinking about it.”
The impatient body language would yield. “Okay, well, don’t forget the Election is coming up. It’s important to let your voice be heard. The Suffragettes worked really hard to allow women the right to vote. So please vote!”
The mind would sit on these words and opinions. It would turn to the peanut gallery of hats, “I have a voice? Voting for a human gives me a voice? Guys, do I have a voice?”
The peanut gallery of hats would weigh in.
Bully: Ha! That’s funny. You couldn’t get your permit when you were 16, so you’re not ready to vote. You totally do not have a voice.
Abuse Addict: Yeah, you’re so insignificant that I like to pretend you get in a horrible accident and then you can’t do anything for yourself. So all your friends come to save you. You won’t ever be able to save yourself. That’s what I think of you. No voice and no reason for it.
The Orphan Child: I will always feel alone. No one will ever love me. Why do I have to promote myself, and work really hard to be loved? Isn’t love supposed to come naturally? I don’t understand anything anymore. (Crying) My stomach hurts. I just want to go to bed! I’ll always be waiting to be adopted.
Bully: Yup. So just quit your crying and get over it. Accept the fact that you clearly have no reason for a voice.
Abuse Addict: Ready, I’ve got scene two of the all amazing soap opera. Your friends look at you in shock at how wounded you are. You lay helpless in a hospital bed, unable to move. Your friends flock to your bedside and become your nurses. They wait on you hand and foot. Now explain to me how someone in that condition needs to have a voice? You’ll always be a child. Children are too young to have voices. That’s why they have parents.
The Orphan Child: You guys are mean! (Crying) I wish I could get adopted. It would be so nice to be saved from this prison I’m in.
Egomaniac: Life really sucks, doesn’t it. I see no end to this hell. I’m with you, kid. It’s a hard life. Love is not in sight, joy doesn’t exist, making choices is too hard. What do you say we just let someone else in here take over?
Facilitator: Now, guys. Let’s all get along. The question was “Do I have a voice?” Let’s allow ourselves some time to think about this.
Egomaniac: What are you on drugs, lady? There’s never been time to think about squat. What makes you think I’m going to have enough time to think about this very hard question? Give me a break, would ya?
Therapist: It’s okay. You can take a break. You’re allow to ta…
Bully: How about no? Why would a break be deserved? Everyone needs her to move quickly, and consistently. She can’t even do that correctly, so forget about giving her time to do things. Forget about having a voice. (Buzzer sound) Wrong! Next question.
Abuse Addict: Okay, I got one. What happens when a car crashes into a telephone poll? Does the driver only get a little bit hurt or do they get crushed by the airbag, windshield, and life itself to the point where they practically break every bone in their body? I’m writing scene three!
Facilitator: Okay, I give up.
Cheerleader: Honey, I gave up ages ago! My pom poms have been retired for quite a while.
The mind comes back to itself. “Okay, so the question of my voice has still been kind of unanswered. I’m suddenly depressed, anxious, and really confused. Did I get hit by a truck or something because I feel awful? Ouch!”
From this exhausted mind the need for a sense of grounding is critical, but the mind is so cluttered it doesn’t know where to start. So the hands keep working, the feet stay standing because the mind is on autopilot. What’s it going to take to become grounded in authenticity? The voice has been lost. It’s coming back, but really it’s just being discovered for the first time.
I hope at some point thriving can be a reality, but for now the mind needs to practice surviving without the peanut gallery of hats.