(Written January 2014)
So I have decided to wake up this week…
On Monday I got high and dreamt that I died. It was terrifying. I dreamt I died with unfinished business. I died after having spent my life chasing all of the “wrong” things. (And by “wrong” I mean things that can be taken away. External things.) I had become a drug addict, obsessed with the idea of “success” and wealth and fame. My addiction didn’t prohibit me from reaching my idea of “success.” It was my way of dealing with it. It calmed me.
Then I woke up the next morning (in real life) and (thank God) realized I did not die. I was not a drug addict. I was me, just a semi-stoned version. I also realized that the night before I had been watching Wolf on Wall Street with Leonardo Di Caprio and believed that I had become him. (Hence the reason I have chosen to stop smoking weed for a good while, too intense for my vulnerable brain.) This was a wake up call for me though. A couple days later I realized I was no different than Di Caprio’s character. No, I was not actually Leonardo Di Caprio. No, I was not a serious drug addict. But I realized all of the parallels in my life and his character’s.
I have a spent good portion of my life “chasing” and “validating” myself through THINGS. Using external sources to calm myself. If I have those shoes and that shirt and that bag….THEN I will be happy. Once I become a “famous” musician, THEN I will be happy. If I smoke weed, THEN I will calm down and be able to sleep. Or if I get high I will feel “enlightened” and THEN I will make more sense to myself. And the most recent and painful of them all, if I am dating someone and they love me, THEN I will be happy. Others loving me means I am loveable.
The harsh AND beautiful reality of it all is that none of these things are going to make me happy, calm or loveable. Because ultimately the moment any of these external sources are removed from my life, is the moment I will/do start to panic. I have gotten to a place where I am terrified to JUST BE. Alone. Silent. Because that would require facing myself. And that would require loving myself. This is truly the most terrifying concept I have ever had to face.
It is no wonder we as human beings have become so affected by media, social conditioning, and society’s ideas of how we “should” be doing things. It is a sick cycle where we look outside of ourselves for guidance because we haven’t taken the time to look inside. We haven’t taken the time to look inside of ourselves to see/believe what resonates with who we truly are. And due to the fact that we haven’t taken time to do this, we are a sponge, ready and willing to soak up whatever we are told. It’s no wonder we are running around paranoid. We are absorbing whatever message is thrown at us, rather than taking a moment to discern whether or not it aligns with Who We Are. And then because we are believing whatever we are told, we don’t take the time to look inside. We believe that external sources are the path to happiness. The cycle feeds itself: Look outside for the answers to happiness. Get “the answers” from media, society, friends, family (anywhere besides ourselves). Convince ourselves to believe “the answers,” even if they don’t align with Who We Are. And then wonder why we aren’t happy.
The media is teaching us that success equates to fame and material wealth. It is not teaching us that success is much simpler, it is internal HAPPINESS.
Society tells us what is “normal” but who the fuck is any human being to say what “normal” is? I am not here to define “normal,” and quite frankly I don’t care what it is. Because that is where human’s pain comes from, the idea that there is a mould and we don’t fit. And the man making the mould will be in just as much pain as the man trying to fit the mould, because the moment that man grows/changes, his world will be turned upside down when he doesn’t fit his own mould anymore.
Then there is the concept of me getting high to understand myself. Perhaps the most ironic of them all. The idea that I need to alter my mind in order to trust what I feel. If I need to alter my state of mind to find myself tolerable, there might be an issue. Now this is not my portion of the article where I go all “anti-drug,” because that would defy everything I am saying. I am no one to say what is right or wrong. I don’t care what anyone else does (as long as it isn’t harming themselves or another being). If getting high works for some people, then smoke on (or shoot up, if you’re from my downtown east side Vancouver neighbourhood). The reality for me is I scared the shit out of myself this week and caused paranoia that I am still dealing with 3 days later. That is something I am completely uninterested in. I have to accept that I have what I need within myself to be calm, understanding, and accepting of Who I Am and of Life.
Last, but certainly not least, what has been plaguing most of my life is the idea that I am only loveable if others love me. I have spent my energy focusing on everyone else’s opinion of me, since I was a teenager. We are born perfect. As we age and grow, we slowly, over time, are exposed to the world. We are taught what is “right” and “wrong” by parents, family, friends, and teachers. We are exposed to love. We are exposed to hate and insecurity. The moments we are exposed to or taught something new (that we don’t understand, due to lack of experience), are the very moments that we begin conditioning ourselves. These are the moments we are moulded and shaped.
When we are children our closest influences are our parents and teachers. They are the first people to teach us what is “right” and what is “wrong.” They love us and want the best for us. What we don’t understand at a young age though, is that these people want what THEY believe is best for us. In time, we come to learn that this may not always be the same as what WE believe is best for us. And these are the very moments in which we start convincing ourselves there is something wrong with us. As children, I feel there is nothing we want more than for our parents (or anyone we look up to) to accept everything about Who We Are. The reality is no one is going to like EVERYTHING about us. That is what makes us human, our differences. And as cliche as it may sound, I truly believe these differences are what make us beautiful. What is key to understand throughout this process of aging and becoming individual entities from our parents, etcetera, is that they have taught us everything they know, therefore; they truly come from love. When we step outside of what they agree with and it causes conflict, we become afraid. We have to understand that conflict generally comes from a lack of understanding. These moments of conflict are when we are given the option to define Who We Are, separate from anyone else’s beliefs of who we “should” be. And these moments are presented to us on a daily basis, not just with parents, family, and friends, but with EVERY human being we encounter. Strangers, co-workers, lovers, every human being we meet provides us an opportunity to define Who We Are.
If you are like me, when presented with the opportunity to define Who I Am, I also hope that everyone will LIKE/ACCEPT who I am. What I have come to learn is, that is not the way life works. It’s not sad, it’s not frustrating (if you don’t allow it to be), it just is. Human beings are all way too different for this to even be a possibility. Remember, the very things that make us different are also the things that make us beautiful, so we can’t be hurt when someone who is simply DIFFERENT than us doesn’t “like” Who We Are. Our pain does not come from the fact that people do not agree with Who We Are, our pain comes from the idea/expectation that everyone “should” agree with Who We Are. If we can let go of this belief, we will in turn release our pain.
As tired and worn out as the cliche “you can’t love anyone until you love yourself” is, in my opinion, it is absolutely true. I believe it is slightly more complex than this though. Sure, we can love someone without loving ourselves first. The difference between the human being who loves themselves first and the human being who doesn’t though, is that the latter will crumble the moment that love is gone. This subconsciously (or consciously) creates a state of “paranoia” for both parties. It creates trust issues. It causes one or both sides to be dependent, and therefore; causes one or both parties to feel scared because they feel responsible for someone else’s happiness. That is a weight that no human being can/should bare. And it is not even a reality. No one, under any circumstance is responsible for another human being’s happiness. We wonder why our relationships don’t last and we are hurt/crushed when they don’t. If we would take these moments as an opportunity to look at ourselves and the role we played in things not working out, we could reduce the chances of it happening again. But this requires conscious effort, something that we are not always willing put forth. And that’s ok, but when the pattern continues to repeat itself, we have to remember the energy we were not willing to put forth ahead of time. It’s a choice of what requires more energy? Fixing things (and by “things” I mean ourselves) before entering the next relationship OR picking up the pieces of ourselves and trying to put them back together after we “get hurt” once again. (And I put “get hurt” in quotations because we like to blame everyone/everything besides ourselves. We are afraid to face the fact that we might be the issue.)
The reality is that, this too is a cycle: We look outside of ourselves for Love. We get it. We have an underlying fear of losing that love. We lose it (because of our lack of trust or the unbearable weight we put on another human being). We crumble and blame the other person. We feel scared again. Chase after love again. And the cycle continues.
The ONLY way to stop this cycle is by loving ourselves. Trusting ourselves. Looking within. Looking within for EVERYTHING that we have looked outside of ourselves for. For me personally, it has been a terrifying concept. It involves being alone, and not just in the physical sense, but in feeling absolutely alone. And then learning to love that person. The person who lies beneath all of the excess. As it turns out, I now Love that person. She’s pretty damn ballin’ actually.
One of the greatest quotes I have heard is “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” Loving ourselves not only stops us from chasing “things” outside of ourselves, but it creates a shield in which we become invincible to any outside force that doesn’t align with Who We Are.