Shattered

Usually, I don’t know how I feel about writing of the things that I am thankful for during the month where millions of individuals around the nation are giving thanks for the fortune within their lives. Considering the events of this past year, however, and its lasting effects on my well-being, I feel that writing about these things at the very least will provide some form of solace for my spirit. Not to mention help me process my thoughts and emotions into something coherent. Having said that, here goes nothing…

The feeling of betrayal you feel when someone goes behind your back for the sake of living happily ever at the expense of your trust is crippling. When you try to speak out against what is damaging you, the opposing force will do everything to make you seem as though you are “delusional.” Whether it’s gathering opinions that are biased towards their own interests, or if it’s bringing up aspects of yourself so that a negative picture can be painted of you to make themselves look like a hero or a divine being (especially when they want to blot out any glaring red flags borne on their conscience), they’ll resort to this tactic as a means to put you in your place.

You’re nothing but a pawn to them, a means to an end that they can turn to and take advantage of when they want to feel better about themselves. When you take a stand for yourself (because who wants to put up with this crap on repeat?), they scream and cry and wail like spoiled tyrants (King Joffrey, anyone?). They resort to advanced methods of putting you in your place, even if that means they put you, their perceived monster, in a figurative cage. Or they take over the things and responsibilities that are rightfully yours in an exercise of, again, self-glorification at your expense.

And throughout this, you eventually believe that you are less than human, yet you still can’t bring yourself to put an end to it all–which, unfortunately, is also taken advantage of as these individuals perceive it as a confirmation of their self-serving actions born of “happily ever after” being perfectly acceptable to carry on. They continue to try and put you in your place whenever they see fit, or, despite labeling you as an outcast, still hit you up for resources because, apparently, you’re still good for that much. It’s here that you realize that your heart is shattered instead of broken, beyond repair and in need of replacing.

My experiences with these things are something that continue to haunt me in my day-to-day routine or when I sleep at night. Any attempt on my part to go back to who I was before only results in more anguish and discord, and I’m left in a state of grief over the memories that have replaced that idea of who I was. On the other hand, however, in order to grow into something greater, some things must die so that rebirth may occur.

In Greek mythology, the phoenix was prolific for being reborn of its own ashes after its previous body expired–sharing a similarity with the Catholic belief that one’s soul undergoes a purification process so that they may enter eternity with a new body. Similarly, in the physical sciences, matter is neither created nor destroyed, but changes form. The shape and structure of the object are different, yet they remain atomically similar at the core.

I use this example to illustrate what kind of understanding I had come to over the course of the last several months. To go back to what I was would not only be useless, but it would defeat the purpose of any kind of growth I would get for my endeavors in the here and now. The memories of what I had experienced are still going to be there, no matter how much I wish they weren’t, and will continue to be a blight on my spirit for as long as I can tell. On the other hand, it was these same experiences that helped me realize that I was becoming someone meant for the path that I am on now, and something not meant for who I once was.

In coping with the trauma and the fallout of struggling to rediscover myself, I lost many forms of identity and friends that I used to trust. Some of these people and associations were, up until a certain point, were the only true constants in my life. And, sometimes, they may all become toxic, which I soon realized over the course of time. I am not perfect myself, and continue to work on myself every day–to let go of those things that refuse to change or prove time and again to be a vice to the soul, however, makes such a process easier.

To say that I’m no longer suffering from these troubles would be a lie. I’ll reiterate what I said earlier in that I still suffer from these. The silver lining to all of this is that opportunities for greater growth and a network of warmhearted, loving individuals have emerged to provide a light in the dark. The love and care that I have received on all fronts have reminded me of my worth as an individual, and make me want to be a genuinely better person for everyone and everything in this dynamic. I didn’t have to fight for love or approval to establish a sense of worth.

For those reading this facing a similar situation: you’re not alone. It’s going to be hard, and you will break down at some point. Keep going anyway, because the fact that you’ve made it this far means that you can go much farther. People love you. I want you to be successful as well. The harmful actions of others says more about them than it does about you. You are beautiful. You are amazing. You are strong. You will get through this.

 

-Mairi

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Too Perfect: A Look at Social Narcissism

Narcissism is a staple of our modern world. Whether it’s social media posts that garner a swarm of likes or hearts, fixing up a face or wardrobe on order to look extraordinary enough to stand out of a crowd, or simply being too overly concerned with oneself and their outward appearance, many individuals find themselves caught up in the individualism of the era. In a peculiar sense, even the mildest practice has seemingly become a sort of survival mechanism for mankind–as a social species, narcissism plays upon mankind’s need for social interaction to exploit its desire for peer approval and constant positive feedback. Conversely, the more one focuses on their outward self, the more disconnected and numb they become towards other people and general empathy–displayed with the passive “Thoughts and Prayers”–until, just like the term’s namesake, the individual ends up withering away to the view of their own image (more on that later). Understanding the role of narcissism or self-care in all its variations is paramount in both trying to achieve progress in society and looking for ways to close whatever gaps between the self and others have been created as a result of this individualism.

On the one hand, this belief can be whittled down to a basic survival instinct–to illustrate, most of us know what it’s like to live mainly on ramen or PB&J’s, and so we do everything that we see is in our own best interest to avoid that particular starvation. To a lesser extent, this could also be applied to how one presents themselves to the general public (online or in real life), because, again, that sense of wanting to fit in or find acceptance from another drives one to find a support group so that they have a source to turn to in time of crisis.  Now, in terms of online use, I myself am a social media fiend, as I particularly enjoy posting various things on the medium, and of that I am guilty. And there are a lot of fun and exciting things to find on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all other platforms. And there are people who have found it to be a great way to connect with others, so there are some positive to it. However, having found myself at times getting invested too much into the medium or being at the receiving end of someone’s mercy both on and offline, I think it’s important to be aware of what this medium is capable of in the context of the world which we inhabit.

On the other hand, however, the enabling of modern society towards acting on individualistic, self-centered tendencies has been shown to drive individuals toward an image that, previously, was mainly if not only seen in the likes of fictional characters (namely, Gordon Gekko, Hannibal Lector, or South Park’s Eric Cartman if you’re more of a comedy type). In a sense, these people take the narcissistic traits associated with copious social media and fashion trend use to a whole new level offline.

Instead of just posting random stuff on Twitter or Facebook, other people can be used if the individual feels that their presence acts as an extension of their own perceived glory. The narcissist can perceive that the great and mighty achievements of someone can directly reflect back on themselves, should that person possess the desired characteristics, and continue to exploit that person for their own personal gain or desire to “feel good.” I like to believe that this is akin to a child doing something just so they can get a “lollipop,” and personally dub it a Lollipop Effect.

Of course, with narcissism, if the narcissist (let’s call them “X”) views themselves as perfect or nearly flawless, then these perceived “extensions” of themselves (let’s call them “Y”) must also be perfect or exhibit good or outstanding traits. Because, should someone point out any glaring grievances or shortcomings, especially if it’s Y, then X will resort to dumping their problems on Y and making it seem as though Y is the one with the issues; some will know this as “gas lighting.” X will also put down Y’s achievements in order to make their own achievement’s look better in comparison. Feeling entitled to only the greatest glory, X will even get rid of the old Y and replace them with a new Y, or someone who will comply with their superiority.And it can happen on Facebook just as much as it can happen in a real life situation.

All of this is an example of one’s “survival method” taken to a horrible extreme, and the treatment off the proverbial “Y” in this instance can be interpreted in terms of potential dehumanization. X was using Y to further their own benefit, just like how many teenage girls use Instagram to further other’s perceptions of their own beauty. When X is happy with all that’s going on, then Y can be happy to; when it hits the fan and X gets angry and wrecks havoc, then Y is saddled with the imperfection and has to take full responsibility for the calamity, especially if they want X to treat them well.And so, a sense of hopelessness and depression on part of Y ensues.

Similarly, just as one ditches a fashion piece perceived to be “tacky” (chokers and socks with sandals seem to be popularly loathed), Narcissist Supreme can rid themselves of good ol’ Johnny Tallahassee if they feel that the latter is non-beneficial to their godlike status. This is made even worse if X makes it seem that Y is totally dependent on them, making it appear that Y’s reliance on X is their only method of survival–therefore, opening the door for X to do whatever they please with Y. The longer this occurs, the less Y feels like themselves or human to begin with, and the more that they feel as an extension of X.

Keeping this in mind when looking at the greater social landscape, it doesn’t come as a surprise that collective narcissism seems to be on the rise. It isn’t just popular to post selfies like there’s no tomorrow, but the widespread practice of such and how it yields a large collective response has snowballed into more individuals doing similar acts and, eventually, reaching a stage where empathy and concern for the well-being of others is almost nonexistent. People use each other to further an agenda moreso than ever before, and, if they’re not already withering away like Narcissus in front of his own reflection, they’re damning themselves by believing that their only source for survival is with Narcissus, just like those who died believing that they could not measure to his perceived glory.

Such a belief that one is above all others is reflected in our politics (particularly with treatment towards those of opposing ideals), our religious practices, and our apathetic attitude towards the educational system (be it a decline in academic performance or the apathy towards someone brandishing a weapon at children). And, the more focus is placed on individualism, the less likely it is for one to be able to actively survive, or at least in a way that allows them to be somewhat empathetic.

Progress will only happen for the individual or the social group if a rejection of modern individualism is acted upon. Regardless of whether one is the victim or the instigator in a narcissistic scenario, awareness of the problem and looking for ways to be more open or empathetic with others is the more sound solution to addressing those issues that plague us today.

 

Day 9: Sometimes

Sometimes, we fall in love with a coward.

Sometimes, we love someone who casts us aside for the sake of pursuing something that is, ultimately, more attracting by some virtue of a deceitfully physical illusion rather than substance of the emotional.

Sometimes, we are betrayed by those closest to us–for, no matter how virtuous or self-serving their ambition is (especially out of “true love”), they will do whatever it takes to see their goal completed, regardless of who may get hurt.

And, strangely, that’s alright.

Because, sometimes, it takes these to grow into something suited for better than these troubles.

Feeling Thoughtful

Not every day is going to be bright and cheerful, and there are no promises that the next day will be as such either. It’s knowing how to personally get through the struggles of any challenging moments and the willpower to push onward, regardless of the bruises and scars received in the wake of it all, that help us gain the strength to see ourselves through to the eventual dawn of a brighter day.

Into the Shadow

A Plague

Has found me,

My body and spirit

Slowly slumbering

To its quiet lull.

In my prayerful mind,

A void is unlocked,

Where the thing has made

Its domain.

A small sliver of light

Dances behind me,

Illuminating the abyss

But also a road

To follow its still, small voice.

Ultimately,

I choose the small sliver of light

Over defeating the monster,

For I do not desire eternal imprisonment

For defeating the monster.

Over its existing influence,

The light’s voice beckons onward

To a better salvation.

Public Service Announcement: Anxiety and Depression

For a while, I have been debating whether or not posting this or even writing this was a half-decent idea, as I myself have dealt with this in the past. However, after a couple of recent episodes, I feel that this isn’t something that I can hold back anymore. Therefore, I have put the following into writing not only to work through my feelings, but, also, to hopefully reach out to a soul who might need this. Critiques are welcome, but please keep them civil.

Having one or both of these sucks. It’s not something to brag about or to make light of under any circumstance. Anyone who has this can tell you what it’s like to feel a sense of calm one minute, going about their day in a carefree manner until they encounter something or their mind drifts off to something that triggers an inner mechanism–and then, all of a sudden, a descent into a fatalistic worry ensues, and the world may as well be ending in the eye of the victim. Or one may find themselves drowning in a sea of their own feelings of worthlessness and apathy–they see themselves as a blight on the Mona Lisa, so to speak, and feel that they don’t belong among their family or peers. Or anger that they feel will manifest itself in a pent-up, volatile outburst at seemingly nothing. Some moments you feel like you’re on top of the world and ready to let yourself shine, and others make you want to fade into the canvas so that life can go on without hesitation. And no one could even tell from a Facebook or Instagram photo that your mind was drifting into dark terrain in the days leading up to the taken photo or the days since.

Many are afraid of coming forward with their personal issues and illnesses because of the backlash that they fear they will receive: you’re sweating the small stuff, quit feeling sorry for yourself, other people have it worse than you so quit whining, or it’s not the end of the world. The list goes on, but these are examples of the kinds of things those that suffer fear to hear, as if it’s a confirmation that they aren’t allowed to feel the sinister things that haunt them regularly. As everyone is a unique individual in one way or another, so also do those that live with anxiety or depression receive a different effect of the mental illness(es) as well as respond to it in a unique way or form. Studies and findings about the most common signs of anxiety and depression are abundant all over the world wide web, yet many still respond to these things as if it were the same thing as a person who chronically complains about a frivolous matter of work or a person who throws a temper tantrum if they’re accused of stealing something from another.

Anxiety and depression aren’t easy to live with, and it isn’t always an easy task to get out of bed everyday and put on a happy mask to entertain the masses. Heck, sometimes it can be hard to find the willpower to leave the room, whether it is out of fear or despair. We as individuals need to make more time to understand the individual and why they feel the way that they do, and at least be there to listen without making an excuse for judgment if not have a solution to the problem altogether. The less likely those struggling will encounter the stigma, the more comfortable they’ll feel about opening up or coming out of the “mental illness” closet, as some would argue, and thus making greater the road to help and possible treatment. There are people who are already willing to help the stricken crowd (and some may be suffering themselves), so we need to show that we are willing to listen and nurture the mind and spirit in the best way we can.

To those who are suffering from these illnesses or something akin to it, know this: you are not alone in your suffering. You are loved more than you realize. You are worth more than you realize. Whatever plagues you does not define you. Reach out to others for help, especially those who love and care for you–or reach out to those who are also under the same cloud, so that they can work through their emotions easier. Face the day knowing that the sun will still rise. Much love to you all.