Over the past 15 years or more, I’ve sat off again and on again on the couch of a therapist. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and the inner tickings of this old brain of mine.
Abandonment is a large issue for me. I trace abandonment back to adoption, a mental place of loss before I could decipher what loss was. Feelings of abandonment can trigger a swing. Abandonment can encompass betrayals. Abandonment can be triggered by another’s behavior that has nothing to do with mine.
Keep in mind, I realize that the best, most loving result of the situation that occurred before I could walk on my own was that I would eventually be adopted by two incredible parents. But all the good in the world won’t change my chemical and physical makeup for what my head thinks it needs, wants, desires and hopes for.
I sometimes search, with great angst, for acceptance and for “unconditional” love. Whatever unconditional means. I search for people who are upright and moral and committed, this is without reason or cause that I can determine. It’s something I’m unable to control or make sense of. It turned into an obsession to be the person I want to know in my life: overly committed, incredibly moral, kind, giving, and righteous.
It’s why I love Tina. She’s incredibly passionate about being a good, moral, kind to everyone, loving and committed spirit. Her energy is addictive and it’s magnetic. I want to be like her. I want to model my behavior after hers. And from what I understand, she gets that personality from her mom, who I never met, and who I love by proxy through Tina.
When I do wrong (either in business, to Tina, or to a friend), there’s a learned side of me that wants to hide it. Because I was taught to cover up feelings or push them back. This does not work for me. When I face wrongs head-on, I benefit from that vulnerability. Some of my greatest business relationships were sparked from times of intense vulnerability, tempers lost but amends made and relationships forged in the heat of emotion.
From the earliest age, I’ve had bouts of a horrible temper. My parents have an audio recording of me as a toddler, the youngest of three, playing with my older brother and older sister. At some point, I flip out and throw the biggest tantrum the world has ever seen.
Buildings fell. Moons exploded. Stars became blackholes.
That temper has stuck with me my entire life. I’m a passionate person. I attribute that to a latino birth heritage. My birth mother and her brothers are some of the most impassioned people I’ve ever met. And passion translates into heightened levels of emotion. So when I’m really happy, I’m happy. Ecstatic ecstatic. Sad sad. Mad mad. It might be a little manic. I think we all show signs of some form of mental illness at least occasionally. Me included.
I’ve never hurt anyone physically, except myself, in anger. My anger is deep-seated and it’s usually considered shameful and deeply internal. And when I get angry, I turn on me because I consider it my fault for my deficiencies. And I am self punishing to a fault.
Oddly enough, over the past 30 days of the sugar free and alcohol abstinence cleanse of the Whole30 diet, I’ve never felt so clear and slow to anger on a daily basis than ever before.
Yesterday, some asshole walked into a Florida school and blew the place to bits, killing 17 and wounding at least 15. Who knows the whole story and I’m sure we’ll hear many sides to many thoughts in the next few days or months.
Inside, I feel a sadness, a passionate rage and an anger that has nowhere to go except maybe onto these pages of my blog. I want to scream and help, but I can’t. I don’t feel that I can anyway. What can this fool photographer in Chicago do?
I can say stuff out loud. But I feel helpless and insignificant when all I want to do is go shake the collective population and scream, “Let’s FIX this!!!”
That passionate rage is sparked by betrayal. I was taught this country is a Christian country and that Christianity is superior to all other forms of thought and belief. This superiority was repeated OVER and Over and Over and Over and Over in my school and church. I was taught Christians seek perfection of personal behavior. That they are transformed by the Holy Spirit to be better, more moral, more upright and awesome person. More “Jesus” like.
There’s a puffed up chest of superiority held in the culture I came from. But if they fail, the same man or woman who shouted at me that Christians are better, more moral, more attention to perfecting love and committed behavior, they hide behind the thin veil of human fallibility, supernatural forgiveness and the gold metal mental gymnastics of scapegoating.
My heart aches for the parents of all the children at that school, all parents everywhere, who worry if today is the day that Johnny GoGunHappy decides to grab his guns and head for that sacred gathering place of learning and academia we ship all our children to … now it seems to be slaughtered.
But looking backward is stupid. Looking at my past seems to be the most pointless way to approach the future. I’m not sure why I hold a backward glance when I approach my anger so often. And I wish I did not. Maybe it’s that I’m desperate to understand how the past informed the present and the human side of me needs to attach blame to the beast that afflicts my mind.
And yet — this may seem unrelated to you but — I wonder how much our sugar-filled diets are affecting the nation in an inadvertent assault on our hormones, our mental capacities for violence, our ability to decipher moral behavior and be the kind of slow to react people that we all might want to be.
French class and la passion.
In French class right now, we’re discussing Passion. We discussed it in terms of art, extreme sports, in business and yesterday we talked about it in terms of politics. We talked about the verb “militer” which is to have passion and fervor for a particular cause. The verb, as described by my teacher, has nothing to do with violence or a violent approach to a topic, like we tend to view “militants” as a pejorative. “He’s a militant pro-lifer” or “He’s a militant liberal”.
My inner beast of temper wants to become militant for the cause of school children and people everywhere who are mowed down by — not only guns — but the role models, mentors, people of authority, politicians who raked me and my passionate psyche through the mud to become an obsessed moral, standup citizen, and hold all their feet to the fire to fight for the rights of innocent lives targeted by people like the Nikolas Cruzes of the world.
But like the fallibility character of the people I expect high values from, I too will fail. I will too fall. I will, too, hide behind the oblivion of time, the apathy of human frailty and fallibility.
I’m a dog behind a fence flipping out at another dog walking by, wasting energy and polluting the air with noise.
I approach today feeling defeated by a monster that is invisible to me, but he reared his nasty head in Florida yesterday proving he’s real, he wanted to inflict harm, and the righteous, those that truly care for people as a whole, should chase their values with passion, not just for their so-called politics, or their so-called political affiliation, but for the greater, common, and better good.
All said, your right to own guns shouldn’t overshadow my right, my friends’ rights, kids’ rights, parents’ rights, politicians’ rights, anybody’s rights to live free from fear. Freedom is everyone’s rights. Your love and freedom to own a product that can steal my freedom is not freedom.
For fuck sake, let’s be better. Please. Pretty please. With sugar on top.