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 10: Unresolved

The tension that existed between the two was a poison that, slowly but surely, corrupted the well-being of each soul. He, with his deceptive facade and false disengagement, and she, with her worries and unsettled ire.

With any other individual, nothing was amiss. The best that these two could hope for when together was silence in the presence of the other, alacrity and frustration aside. Whatever longing each one had for the other’s company and warmth was suppressed by the festering wounds of deception and resentment, growing in cadence with a ticking time bomb that would soon consume them both.

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.