Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Laptop Confessional

Been thinking about self-loathing. I'm good at it. In fact, really good at it. I should remember that next time I think I suck at everything.

There's a line of thinking that hating oneself is a mental illness. "Don't be so hard on yourself", we are told. "Forgive yourself".

I don't know. I woke up at 3:00 am thinking of all the horrible things I have done. I think it is actually pretty fucking rational to self-loathe. There are so many things we haven't done, 'should' have done, wish we hadn't done (to me those are the worst), and have yet to do or not do. "Forgiving ourselves" doesn't make sense to me.

My religion's beliefs tell me that God forgives us. What does that mean? I think it means that whatever God is, it knows that we cannot achieve perfection. (Can't there be a pronoun that combines male/female?) The thing I can't reconcile is, well, then why were we created so imperfectly? I can only figure that it is part of the deal. My imperfection is to bring me closer to God. To stay in connection. The more imperfection, the more opportunity for communion. It sounds plausible but it has kind of a teleological reasoning to it, which always confounds me.

"Complexity does not imply design". This starts getting close to the issue of intelligent design. No, I don't believe the universe was formed 2000 years ago. In fact, I think I lean towards believing whatever the opposite of intelligent design is. My response to it has been "yeah, but, couldn't the design be a little more intelligent"? I see design flaws everywhere I look. How to reconcile that with a belief in God?

Perhaps it comes down to what one believes God to be. Maybe the goal of the design never was perfection to begin with? Maybe what I see as design flaws are part of something else I don't see. Maybe, like the flower growing up between the cracks in the sidewalk, the flaws create something more beautiful. But that starts going in the direction of "everything happens for a reason". What is the reason for the stupid shit we do to each other in this world? So we can be closer to God? Isn't there a better way to do that? If what God is about is love, can't there be a less painful way to teach humans about love?

Obviously, I don't know. These are the questions that have haunted me my whole life. For a while I decided that I didn't need to have answers. When I was at the University of Chicago, I used to stare across the quad and wonder if I shouldn't be in physics instead. Maybe in physics, you got answers about why. I love answers. "Why" is a big deal for me. Sociology answers "how" pretty well.

I tend to come back to a point of view that says - "God is life and love." God is the force of life and love that keeps us going forward, despite our flaws, individually and collectively. It makes me sad that there are many days that I can't access that force. Or don't want to access it. There are days that I don't want to choose life because it feels too painful to me. My self-loathing is at its peak at those times.

I have many ways of trying to deny that pain. They seem superficial and empty. Actually, I think they are. Making money, trying to look good, wanting to be the smartest one in the room - all that is bullshit. It can make one feel good for a while. Boy, are we ever lured into it by media. But of course, media is ourselves. We do it to ourselves.

Self-loathing *is* pretty rational to me. I am, to a large degree, complete and total bullshit. We like to make up stories about how we're not bullshit. We're constantly writing the autobiography in our heads that makes rational sense out of our life. At the moment, I feel a great deal of peace in the knowledge that I am truly not much more than that. I'm imperfect and irrational. I get the feeling that the force that is called God accepts us in that state. Accepts me in that state. And in a way, I kinda see that our imperfection and our irrationality is completely rational.

I anxiously await the publication of 'Chaos Theory for Dummies'.

Probably in a few hours I will have rationalized my way back to sanity and feeling like I'm really ok. I really do know what I'm doing. I may wish for my 3 hours of sleep back.

Today I take my son in to his new school to meet his teacher. We've enrolled him in a school for dyslexic/learning disabled kids. I kind of take issue with the "LD" label these days. Disabled according to whom? Some say "LD" = learning differently. Yeah, I can live with that. He'll go part of the day to his regular public school, and the other part to Hillside. The child has somehow gotten his mind around this and says he's looking forward to it. He is amazing to me at times. But I know this first month is going to be one of fits and starts. The schedule is going to be hard on him, and on us. He needs to get picked up from one school and taken to the other everyday at 11:15, in the middle of PE or something. I know he's going to start resenting it. I really do believe that the school will help him get to where he wants to be with his reading and writing. My hope is that he'll get that, too and be willing to put up with some of the discomfort around the schedule.

Is it the right thing to do? I don't know. It is something to try. Having him come to me in tears last year about what a struggle reading is, or seeing him running away from school, watching him have tantrums in the morning just wasn't working for me, or for him. Being in a school where he's understood feels like it could be something sacred.


Paul O'Brian said...

The only universe in which self-loathing is "pretty fucking rational" is a universe without compassion.

In my mind, it makes no logical sense to hate yourself for things you didn't do, shouldn't have done, etc. For one thing, it's full of fallacies -- ignoring evidence, discounting the positive, black & white thinking, impossible standards, and so on. For another thing, hating yourself serves no rational function. It doesn't help you do those things you're not doing. In fact, it hinders you from doing those things -- if you've already decided that you're an asshole, why should you even try to do them?

I submit that compassion for oneself is a more rational response. It creates less suffering, allows room for ambiguity, and is a perfectly logical complement to the imperfection that is so patently obvious in humans.

You don't even need religion to come to that conclusion.

trrish said...

A very compassionate reply. :-)

It might be a more rational response. It certainly doesn't come naturally, to me.

I think realizing that I'm basically an imperfect dope takes some of the shame away from the imperfection. Which then can allow me to consider compassion.

It's kind of like how when Ozzie realized he was dyslexic. I was able to have so much more compassion than I did before, when I didn't realize that spelling was indeed genetic.

Paul O'Brian said...

As we can see here, parental influence (including genetics) is the #1 factor to blame for low self-esteem. It may not be that different from dyslexia after all.

trrish said...

wow, that article almost made me cry.

I'm reminded of the Pete Townshend lyric "I'm a loser, no chance to win", from Quadrophenia. I think coming from a broken up family can have a particularly devasting effect.

Point taken. :-)

ozzie said...

Why IS the rum always gone? And more to the point, why, at the races, do the god damn horses keep falling on there faces?
You say goodbye, and I say hello...

ozzie said...

There is a their somewhere over there, where there is nowhere to wear, nor even a need to to know where a their is fair!
Fuck it, spelling is overrated anyway!