I’ve signed up for Blessing Manifesting’s “Journey Through Journaling” e-course. I’ll be sharing some of my journal entries here, on WordPress over the next few weeks. It’s organized as one prompt per day, with two bonus prompts at the end of every week. Each prompt comes with a series of clarifying and elaborating questions to get you thinking, however in general, I will only be sharing the overall subject of the prompt, unless one of the questions is especially relevant to my response.
“What do you wish you had experienced? What do you with you hadn’t?”
I mean, to name that, all of society would have to be different. I was thinking a few days ago that the nuclear family is a symptom of societal disease– of racist, classist, ableist heteropatriarchy– and how the raising of children should really happen in larger care-groups and allowed in more work and social spaces. And for that to happen, we, as a society and culture, would have to be more care-driven and focused on larger spiritual, love-and-growth-driven harmony, rather than personal “survival of the fittest” that encourages us/them xenophobia and the greed of capitalistic profit at the expense of others.
So, for my childhood to have been different in a compelling and fulfilling way– what I’m actually envisioning is a completely different world.
And I guess that leads to purpose. Part of the purpose I assign my life is creating this new world like the one I envision.
If I could change the world for the better, I would create things that help and inspire people. I would be a listener and a care-giver. I would be an artist and a protector. I would be someone who combines understanding and compassion with direct and consistent action, according to my values.
I am especially interested in trauma, healing, and what Kelly-Ann Maddox calls “post-traumatic growth.” I frame this interest as related to my patron deities (the deities I think of as being “housed in” me), Nephthys and Set. The themes and lessons of Set’s mythology, and his strengths as a god of chaos, remind me that breaking down in catastrophic (i.e. traumatic) ways leaves way for new growth from a healthier starting point…. Nephthys, as a goddess of mourning, death, and rebirth, and in my personal UPG, as a goddess of the unconscious mind and (especially traumatic) memory and psychological healing– inspires me to dig deep and uncover the power to transform myself after hardship.
So, if I were to dedicate my life to one particular kind of helping work– it would probably have something to do with this. However, I don’t think that it’s necessary to help the world in only one way– especially in a way that is extremely psychologically and emotionally taxing on an individual… (Anyone who thinks care-work isn’t work hasn’t done it consistently.) I think it’s far more reasonable to say that trauma healing is one of my particular interests, skill sets, and leanings– however, I intend to benefit the world in other methods, such as creating joy and by simply allowing myself to live well, as a worthwhile person.
Shame has been a core, founding personality trait of mine since before I remember. My first memory is actually of someone shouting angrily at me when I was three years old, and the resulting shame and feeling on a deep, inner level, that I was “bad.” The times when I’ve felt the most shame in my life were actually based in circumstances I couldn’t– or aspects of myself I shouldn’t– change. To a child especially, this can be devastating to their sense of belonging in a world that will nourish and support them. An overall sense of wellness– or at least hope of wellness– in the world is necessary for achieving personal fulfillment and integrating into larger social systems that benefit humanity. (I mean this in a sociological, or pantheistic sense, rather than an individual introvert-extrovert sense.) This shame and feelings of loneliness, displacement, and fear can haunt a child long into adulthood. This was certainly the case for me.
Having shame as a core, founding emotional experience gave me a lot of pain, anxiety, and insecurity through most of my life. However, it also gave me compassion, insight, clarity into why others act the way they do, patience for others, and a driving passion to protect the weak and hurting. I have been able to understand others who have shame as a core founding part of their personalities– and help nudge them in the directions that I, myself, found healing and recovery.
I once asked a friend (who struggles with shame and anxiety like I do), “What is the use of shame, anyway?” I was trying to brush off my pain of the moment.
My friend pushed back against my flippancy, out of reflex, and said, “Oh no, but shame helps keep people in line! It helps keep people accountable to the larger social group!” Maybe that’s true of guilt– I think guilt does that, but not shame.
Shame researcher, Brene Brown , author of “I Thought It Was Just Me,” “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and others… defined guilt as the temporary state of recognizing that something you have done is wrong… whereas shame is the prolonged and internalized state of believing yourself to be inherently wrong– that wrongness is a part of your being. In other words, guild is, “I have done something bad,” whereas shame is, “I am bad.”
And, honestly, because there are better ways of developing compassion and concern for others– I can’t think of a single benefit to shame other than individual self-protection against an un-supportive, unstable, and probably abusive environment… In the larger social group, it does keep people “in line,” as my friend put it– but only in the sense of coercion and self-monitoring– to discourage people from daring to desire more and better from their lives. In terms of societal development, this means stifling imagination, risk-taking, creative curiosity, and ultimately technological, emotional, and psychological development.
That self-protection can be necessary in times of extreme pain and trauma. It’s the natural defense mechanism of the brain… But it is not morally necessary, nor helpful in the long-term for individuals or society.
Of the Heart Road