I think I have walked your path before. The questions you raised started tumbling down on me the day I was rejected for priesthood education after a Catholic seminary orientation program. I was given two reasons: 1. You ask too many questions; 2. You don’t have enough respect for authority. I was only 15 at the time. They told my father I needed more secular education to shake out my core values. They were so right!
40 years later, after searching deeply all those years, I’ve finally found the peace of self knowledge you described. Here are some gems I came across on my journey:
- I think you are still dealing with a lot of confusion — right from the title — What the hell is going on?
- I also see an answer, for YOU, right in what you say: “be with yourself… unfurl… feel what you are feeling… listen, really listen… be who we are… KNOW THAT OUR TRUE SELF IS WELCOME.”
- This is a quest so many people know they are also on. Most are searching because they don’t know how to do any of these things. The problem for searchers AND therapists working with searchers, is that they were never taught TRUE methods to learn these abilities. Here is a lead that might help. Anyone who wants to dig deeper into my discoveries, please feel free to contact me.
There is a serious mental illness called Narcissism. When it is medically severe, it is referred to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). My experience with people having this disorder showed me how the medical profession got this all wrong. I developed my own explanation for the manifestations we see. I call this Narcissistic Trauma Syndrome (NTS).
In short, as it relates to your observations, NTS is a LOSS OF SELF that occurs when our developing brains are not able to logically resolve a huge barrage of beliefs (superstitions) like those you listed starting off your story. Eventually, to protect itself, the brain stops trying. It essentially has a mental breakdown that is so accurately described by your words, “Which led me to believe… I don’t understand.”
Think of the situation this leaves a young brain in related to “self preservation”? “I don’t understand” = I can’t trust my own FEELINGS! This is what Alice Miller (Drama of the Gifted Child) tells us is the cause of Narcissistic disease. As a survival defense, the child’s brain literally rewires itself to ignore its own internally generated feelings. It then replaces the “guidance” that internal feelings give a person with the behavior of acting like others.
This is where the term Narcissism, in Freud’s original thinking, comes in. The Greek hunter Narcissus, wasn’t vain about himself. This is a modern view that is a complete and tragic distortion of the real story. Narcissus had a spell cast on him that made him fall in love with his REFLECTION! Read this very carefully. A Narcissist is not in love with themselves. They have lost themselves — they have lost their own ability to feel emotions generated within themselves. They drive themselves to become like others that they observe society praising. They look into a mirror, not to love or admire themselves, but to make sure the image they are projecting matches their role models.
Where the psychosis comes in, is that, no matter how completely they make themselves act like their role models, the role play never fills their internal need for peace.
This is how I interpret the story you told us. I highlighted many statements related to this. If you reread your story against my explanation, I think you’ll see answers behind every word. For example: “So many of us have learned to retreat to our minds. We have learned to run away from emotional experience. From bodily experience. We have learned to dominate emotional and bodily experience. To will it away. To rule with our minds.” My studies suggest that modern society is epidemic with NTS.
I mentioned that the world doesn’t know methods, i.e. actionable processes, to teach others, or themselves, to re-learn how to feel again. A good place to start may be my discussion on the need to restructure Cognitive Therapy .
Be well. Walk in peace.