Here I am again, writing after a year or so. I could have let the domain name expire, but felt at some time I would feel like writing again. And now I’m back.
I stopped writing because I felt that how I wrote (not what I wrote, but how) wasn’t helping me or others. Sure, people said lots of great things – when my blog was on myspace (remember when people actually used it?) at one time each post got around 100 comments. It gave quite a buzz; I don’t think I got one really negative comment. I had thought carefully about what I created and some of the thoughts were unconventional. Hell, I even got a few dates from some local women that perhaps thought I must be a great guy. But it became more and more effort and less rewarding. The praises felt empty, and it wasn’t self-fulfilling.
One really big reason is that I wasn’t being that real. I of course didn’t want to show how f***ed up I am, who I dislike, my own neuroses – and perhaps that I was trying to escape from my own problems by playing healer to others.
That last one is IMO probably the most common motivation for everyone in the healing, counseling or personal growth field. It’s so common it is generally overlooked. So much ‘help’, in whatever form it comes in, does little more than convince the ‘helpee’ that they are being helped and then prop up the egos of both sides. The Bowen family systems theory called this the “overfunctioning-underfunctioning” dynamic. It’s a form of connection that seems to feel good to both sides at the time, but reinforces the escape from deeper issues. From my experience, I think the writer gets to feel admired and like a ‘healer’. The reader gets to think they’re improving and doing good work – but all at the cost of ignoring some deeper voices.
I read a lot of Alice Miller a couple years ago, and this quote stuck with me:
“In the last few years I have learned more than ever about the situation of the child in our society and about the blockages in the thinking and feeling of psychoanalytically trained persons. These blockages often result in patients being subjected to lengthy treatments that cement the blame that had been leveled at them as children, a process that can scarcely lead to anything but depressions. The most successful means of escaping such chronic depressions is to enter the profession of psychoanalysis oneself; this permits a continuation of the cementing process by using theories that protect one from the truth – but now, of course, at the expense of others.”
- Alice Miller, Banished Knowledge
If you’re a regular reader of personal growth writing, ask yourself if any of it really helped with the inner shame and blame that you might have. I’ve been to a number of counselors, coaches and other forms of healing in my search for inner peace and harmony, and I had to admit (after months of reflection) that they were generally counterproductive. I went there because subconsciously I thought something was wrong with me – there was something that needed to be solved in me. Fixed. Gotten rid of. Perhaps it was pain, or maybe that a normally quiet voice inside me suddenly screamed “NO!!!” at certain times when I was supposed to act ‘normally’ or when I needed to follow through with something. And so I wanted the quick fix; within a few session I wanted to be able to relax, not get in my own way, feel better, and succeed. Even if I knew it didn’t exist, I wanted The Quick Fix. But part of this inevitably meant that I thought a part of me – the part of me that resisted or said no – was bad. And so I increased my shame. I reinforced patterns of suppression and avoidance, not listening to the part of me in pain, which lead over the years to physical symptoms.
Now, in all honesty, I hate any sort of ‘healing environment’ which advocates pushing through barriers through some sort of peer pressure, firm rules and groupthink. It may get things to move in the short term, but that sort of forcefulness always has violence of a form in it, and violence is never the road to peace and harmony.
I stopped writing because I felt that I didn’t want to pretend any more. I didn’t want to play healer or imply I could help others. I didn’t want to hide my own traumas and symptoms out of fear of judgment or that it meant I was worth less or that I shouldn’t be listened to. You don’t always know the reason you do things at the time – it just doesn’t feel right or true. Writing from the same place didn’t feel true. I edited my thoughts way too much before they came out. It was the same editing I did as I child, walking on eggshells to make sure I didn’t say the wrong thing and a blow up would happen.
Now I just want to let go of all that. I don’t want to review my postings, combing words for ways I could be judged. It turned my mind into fog and exhaustion from the effort. Literally.
So here I am, and I think I’ll keep writing, but from a different place. I don’t think I’ll review it too much, so it might not be as smooth. But perhaps you’ll be able to relate to me a little more. Even if I get judgments or suggestions of people trying to heal me (which now I realize are the same thing) I think I’ll be in a better place.