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06 April 2009 @ 09:40 pm
the king is dead. long live the king  
I’ve spent the last few days staring at walls instead of people.

When I was in therapy, we spent one whole session discussing the period of my life when my family moved from Australia to Ireland, where I started attending boarding school. When I tell this story, it usually tends to go, ‘Yeah, no shit that was a tough time.’ Little kids doing the transcontinental move (like my brother) don’t even remember it; adults are capable of assimilating the shocks. Young adolescents, maybe less so. However, my therapist was bothered by my lack of ‘owning’ of this experience. I told her about the years I spent most nights crying, queuing up for the payphone because this was the pre-mobile era, and having to pay in pounds instead of pence because my calls weren’t local. She said I sounded like I was talking about someone else. She said I was completely detached from the memory. She said she wanted me to show even the tiniest bit of emotion, of sorrow, of pity for that kid I once was. We sort of got there, but not entirely.

The other thing was that I remembered how I used to dress up as the Virgin Mary when I was little and my five year plan to become a saint. (You can’t say I wasn’t ambitious.) I used to talk to god every day. I used to do all the things I believed I should – this was before I knew about the restrictions on homosexuality and shrimp, I mean, although I was a picky eater and didn’t like shrimp anyway. Then when I did find out about the homosexuality and jam and the existence of actual other religions, my focus gradually shifted to the ‘spirit of the world’ that I blithely ripped off from Paulo Coelo. I believed in it, too. My belief was a fire.

I guess I still have that belief, somewhere. I refuse to use it on a god or a religion or even an unknowable power, because that is the choice I made. But this episode has made me aware that either it, or its remains, are still there. They needed to be acknowledged. I’ve had a wretched weekend trying to figure out why I did all of this. Those who know me know (or should know) that this isn’t the kind of thing I usually post about. It’s not even the kind of thing I’m interested in becoming involved with. So I’m starting to think maybe it’s that twelve-year-old me demanding to be remembered as a part of Me, Now.

There’s also the difference between experiences. I ripped my legs up yesterday while shaving and they have been stinging like a bitch all today. I went into hospital and saw a woman who’d had a vertebral fracture, a pain so great they felt she wanted to die rather than continue suffering from it. If the worst pain you’ve ever felt is razor cuts, how can you really comprehend suicidal agony? All you can do is try. My fault lay in not trying – not trying to understand anyone else’s point of view.

I feel like my skin was flayed from my body and is regrowing all new and raw and tender – mostly the same, but in some places different. If it weren’t so painful, I’d almost welcome the lesson, because my lack of empathy and high degree of criticism has been bothering me for a while now. It’s the first thing I brought up in therapy seven months ago. She told me then that I wasn’t a bad person, but I don’t think I’m a good person, either. Both bad and good require active effort.

As for who’s right and wrong in this eternal football match between atheism and religion – with agnosticism as the referee - I still figure someone has to be right and someone wrong. If that wasn’t the case, we’d all be right and such a thing as wrong would not exist. I could go on to defend some of the things I said before, to explain them further or make clear what I was trying to say (as opposed to what some people thought I said), but that’s not really the point. In the end, it’s my life I have to live. It’s my life that was horrible this weekend, and no amount of thinking ‘But I’M right’ made it any better. In the end, I think that for me, people are more important than principles, or beliefs, or moronity. (Which is not a word, hurrah.) If you analyse it enough, everyone thinks someone’s a moron. But I don’t like the idea of people being hurt by what I said – I don’t even like people crying because of my stories. More pertinently and selfishly, I don’t like the idea of people hating me because of something I did or an expression of views I hold. This does not mean I want to necessarily change my view, but I feel I need to work with the way I present it to people so that no one gets hurt – or at least not this much. Because I quite seriously doubt anyone was hurt as badly by all of this as me.

I don’t like to borrow from religious metaphor, but I’ve got so much of it lying around I thought I might as well. Remember Paul/Saul on the road to Damascus? Maybe it wasn’t an instantaneous hallelujah on the highway. Maybe he spent days crying about it too. Maybe being right isn’t about logic, or rationality, or proof, or winning. Maybe it’s about being at peace with yourself and those around you, and that’s why it’s so bloody hard.

‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ was always a problem for me, because I didn’t love myself. I’ve made changes in an attempt to reach that level, even though I no longer believe in the person who said it. But maybe love isn’t just about accepting people for who they are, although it’s the basis for it; maybe it’s also about loving people for what they could be. That’s why I’m not leaving. That’s why I refuse to be pigeonholed as a Crank on the Internet. Something about this is wrong for me, and while it hasn’t sent me running to a church, it has made me reflect. A lot. (They call me Mr Mirror.) I believe can learn from my mistakes; it’s one of the few things I do believe. I don’t think my view is a mistake, but everything that happened after sharing it? That feels like a mistake to me. I can’t change what it did to other people or how they reacted, but I can think about my own place in it.

I guess you’ve had your little joke
But I have lost my sense of humour
My medication’s wearing off
Or it’s just not strong enough
To cover this
But then you kiss me like before
And I find myself wanting more

~ the magnetic fields
 
 
Current Mood: coldcold
 
 
 
pale pubescent beast: brendon urie belly all/0ne_trashylifewildestranger on April 6th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Hullo! *snuggles* I'm glad to see that you are not gone.

As for who’s right and wrong in this eternal football match between atheism and religion – with agnosticism as the referee - I still figure someone has to be right and someone wrong. If that wasn’t the case, we’d all be right and such a thing as wrong would not exist.

Yes, that's the thing, isn't it, when both positions are predicated on the idea that the other one is wrong - who can with honesty say that they don't think the other people are wrong? But also,

It’s my life that was horrible this weekend, and no amount of thinking ‘But I’M right’ made it any better.

Then the question becomes to what extent is it necessary to tell the other people this, and how can you maintain a relationship with them afterwards. I'm not saying this with particular reference to what you said, I struggle with these questions myself. Because on the one hand, is it not cowardly not to state your views? But on the other hand, what is the point of offending people?

Anyway, I'm glad you're back and I like what you said here. Also, you should come and see the Cobra with us in London in May. *woos you with Brendon-belly*
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: bands Cobra toothbrush Gabescoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Five years of my life is a lot to just throw away. Plus the fic. :D

Because on the one hand, is it not cowardly not to state your views? But on the other hand, what is the point of offending people?

This is just it! Up till now I firmly thought that you should show people the whole Truth as it Appears to You, so they could make an informed decision. But the fact of that proved too much for me to bear. Maybe I prefer people liking a more limited spectrum of Me to hating the whole.

Oh man! Tell me it's late May, because I don't finish exams till the 28th and my elective starts the 9 June! (Alternatively, is anything going down in August?)
(no subject) - wildestranger on April 6th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
glorafinglorafin on April 6th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
That's a great post. It is a difficult learning curve to finally realize that you can firmly believe that you're right about something and still decide not to gloat about it. Besides, I'm not so sure that there is a right and a wrong about religion. People build their own philosophical structure for their own use. What does it matter really that there is actually a God somewhere if believing it makes some lives better? Religion can perfectly exist without an actual physical existence of God.... I believe it did for thousands of years and will do it for many more to come and that's perfectly alright.

*hugs*
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: cupcakesscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Maybe ... hate the religion, love the religious kind of thing? I'm not even going to talk any more on this topic because I don't really have a brake on it yet, but - I'm thinking. I'm thinking hard and what I come up with in the end will be the result of a detailed reflection, so I'll be better able to cope with the results of making it known.

goddessrissgoddessriss on April 6th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're back. I had lots of things to say, but they all went out of the window 'cos I'm tired. They boil down to: well done, you. It takes courage to face up to things you don't like about yourself and how you handle things. (Been there, done that, still struggling...) Just be well, my lovely.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Scene girls: mad girl in mad dressscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Well, I did have a little help from my mom, who gently pointed out that if I was completely happy and certain about sharing this, I wouldn't have become so upset when the backlash took place. She also stood for my initial rants about how STUPID RELIGION IS STUPID, even though she's a practising Catholic herself.

I think this is an extension of the idea that nothing worth having comes easy. That must include my place in the world.

Thanks for hanging around. ♥
(no subject) - goddessriss on April 6th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Riakessie on April 6th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Heart treescoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Man, so much ♥ for you, too. I would so easily have been lost.
(no subject) - kessie on April 6th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
OkyDokyokydoky on April 6th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see you're back. I had a small panic when I saw your crossed out username, but I gather it was for thought gathering rather than anything.

:)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Bollywoodscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
It was for headspace, yeah. As you can see, I had a lot to think about (and to still think about), but I don't want to sacrifice my journal to the thinking! That's where most of it takes place!
(no subject) - okydoky on April 6th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Tieleentieleen on April 6th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
I'm not saying this expecting my opinion to matter here -- I don't mean that sarcastically; I'm a complete stranger to you -- but,

This does not mean I want to necessarily change my view, but I feel I need to work with the way I present it to people so that no one gets hurt – or at least not this much. Because I quite seriously doubt anyone was hurt as badly by all of this as me.

I have to say that this bothers me more than the original post, really. Because -- I'm not religious, and I don't know how well the people who read your LJ know you, if most of them took it as 'some person on the internet thinks I'm a moron' or 'this person I've talked to/been friends with/whatever thinks I'm a moron'.

But it still seems to come down, and it's entirely possible I'm missing something here, to: you told people they were stupid if their beliefs were different from yours (not just wrong, which is a little different), and now you're saying that you learned a lot about yourself from it and you were probably the one who was hurt the most. I'm an asshole to people sometimes, and quite possibly sometimes knowing that is far worse than what they go through, but... telling the other person that that's the main point, which it kind of seems like what you're doing here, is something like the equivelant of 'it was all a social experiment'.

People do it all the time, in real life too, but learning from your mistakes and telling people 'I made you feel bad, but I feel worse and here, this is what I've discovered about myself' aren't entirely the same thing.

This is your space, and they're your beliefs, even if I don't get why you felt the need to state them in that way. And as you said, you're not required to be nice about it. But not being nice, or decent, or however you want to call it, does have consequences, and one of those is people being upset; if the main thing in the end is how it all made you feel... well, for one thing, it doesn't do much for anyone who was hurt, I'd think.

Again, though, this is all my opinion, and I obviously don't understand where you started from on this, because it seems kind of like deciding to tell everyone you know how you *really* feel about the way they look. Sure, it's your truth, but... did anyone really need to know you think they're fat? Did your opinion of them really matter enough to insult them with it?

All that said: I'm an atheist, or at least a non-believer (it varies). But as far as I can tell, we may well all die and then find out it was Terry Pratchett who was telling the truth all along, or the ancient Egyptians, or Mr. Hubbard; yes, someone IS wrong, but we don't actually have a way of knowing who it is. I believe I'm right, and would require some damned convincing evidence to think otherwise -- and even then, if 'my' own religion is right (Judaism), well, I've read some of the bible, and it doesn't show a god I'd have any interest in following -- but I can't know it for a fact. Enthropy says my belief that there isn't order makes more sense than someone else's belief that there's a percise X-shaped order (no, it doesn't really), but it's all about probability, and probability lies all the time.

Wow, that was long.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: black catscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
I can't help being selfish in this regard. I'm not made of stone, and naive as it may sound, I've never truly aired my views before. I've seen this kind of thing happen to other people, but that's what I said - it's different when it happens to you.

I have no real interest in getting into another debate over what exactly I mean as opposed to what way I said it. This entry is pretty jumbled and it didn't come out the way I wanted it to - like me, it ain't perfect. I definitely think about myself first when I'm hurt, even if other people are hurt too.

telling the other person that that's the main point, which it kind of seems like what you're doing here, is something like the equivelant of 'it was all a social experiment'.

That kinda suggests I had an agenda to all this and believe me, if there was an agenda, it would involve avoiding situations that made me cry for two days straight. I know I have no right to play the victim in this case, but as I've learned, rules and principles and formulae don't always carry through to real life. What actually happened was that I said what I thought exactly as I thought it, without considering how it might look or affect others. I won't be the last person to ever say that's not a great idea, or to find it out the hard way. There are very few people you can be your unabridged self around. Not many of them are on the internet.
(no subject) - tieleen on April 6th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fooish embroidery threadscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
I always disagree on the last. ;D At least now, more people than usual are on my side ... maybe I should count that as a win?

It was possibly the worst weekend I've ever had, and I did it all to myself. But I can clean up my own messes, too.
The Fancatus Bureau of Incestbalefully on April 6th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
<3333!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: daisiesscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
HI. :D
(no subject) - balefully on April 6th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - balefully on April 6th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - balefully on April 6th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on April 6th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sereniaserenia on April 6th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
Sadly, as much as we may want to lose our past, it's part of who we are now, so it's with us forever. I know I have a chunk between the ages of 14 and 18 that I'd like to erase completely, but I have to accept that I never will. I always will have been a selfish, agonisingly messed-up nutcase. At least, though, I have something to refer back to, and say "I never want to be THAT again!".

I wonder how useful it is to try and imagine an experience you haven't had yet, like the pain thing. I think, especially with pain, that you won't know until you actually feel it. As much as everyone told me what to expect from childbirth, it still hurt a HELL of a lot more than I expected. If I could've felt that before I got pregnant, I'd have got a hysterectomy before the honeymoon. But then, I couldn't have grasped the love I'd feel for my baby, either, which made it all so worth it that I plan to go through it all again someday.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: ra child with a cat on its headscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
I've spent an awful lot of time pretending my past didn't exist or didn't belong to me. I mean, I can't blame what happened on that, but it may have been one of the precipitating factors - simply because this was pretty OOC for me.

I was kind of using the metaphor in terms of imagining things you might never experience - like, for me, the whole idea of believing utterly and unswervingly in god. But I like yours too - the worst and the best often go hand in hand.
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: ra teapot and coloured cupsscoradh on April 6th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
Haha, that's BRILLIANT. I've always liked the quote from Ever After: Nothing is certain until you're dead, and even then, I'm sure god negotiates. (I can still find that funny with the god part, because, well. I USED TO WANT TO BE A SAINT, OKAY.)

(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Scene girls: black and pink hair ftwscoradh on April 6th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
I once thought that if I could find a religion that I truly believed in, that stood for everything I felt to be right, and offered me more, I would devote my life to it because I would feel I was making the world better.

I've never found a religion like that. And maybe the only way I can make the world better is to make myself better. I did not ENJOY this experience, and I hope to never, ever repeat it, and I hope also that people forget about it and don't judge me forever and a day because of it. But it feels like my brain has been taken out and buffeted around in the real world a bit, so I have a lot to assimilate. And I will.
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(no subject) - scoradh on April 9th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
aweszomerthsinsense on April 6th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
I laughed at your previous post, to be honest with you, but fandom has taught me a lot about rolling with the internet punches. As it seems to be doing with you, so hey, good luck. It's tough sometimes, but we all make mistakes.

My parents used religion during the early stages of their recovery from alcoholism, mostly as a means of clearing their heads and taking a breather. When my mother had to give her problems up to a higher power, she chose an armchair, but eventually she came around to the idea that religious practice as such could be useful. My dad had already used it as a kid to escape an abusive household. I guess what I'm saying with this is that religion is not purely about faith, but about use, at least for me.

I still use church to remind myself to be kind to people who may not deserve it. I don't believe in an afterlife, and I don't believe that Jesus came back from the dead, but my church doesn't necessarily ask me to do that; we see the Bible as a series of stories. I do believe in the power of certain Christian teachings. I've found them useful for my own life, especially in times of trauma or loss. So I call myself a Christian.

My problem with the original post was that you set up a dichotomy of informed and willfully stupid or uninformed and ignorant. By doing so, you made every religious person fully adherent to a religion. Religion is a flexible thing, open to multiple uses. Baptist women who pay fealty to their husbands after church services are of the same general faith as the kids in my church who put together a drag gospel night. Lumping us all together is ignorant; however, you were the one who claimed that religion was equal to stupidity.

Be calm, deep breaths, this too shall pass. I too have been a douche on the internet, and it's not the end of days, it's just a good life lesson.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fooish: pink bottlesscoradh on April 7th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
I remember a bit from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Jesus just wanted people to hang out and be groovy. Or actually, that's maybe Eddie Izzard? Same point, anyway. I get what you're saying. I think most religions do have a core tenet of basically getting on with people, tolerance, forgiveness. I guess because the running jumping climbing trees killing the infidels part of the preaching just won't fly on days of the week when the kids are acting up and the tent is on fire. Or whatever.

I do believe in the power of certain Christian teachings. I've found them useful for my own life, especially in times of trauma or loss. So I call myself a Christian.

Y'know, I think Jesus would be down with that. Sometimes I think he's like Buddha, who would be horrified to see all the statues of himself on people's hall tables. I certainly don't think war and hatred were ever part of his grand plan. At least, that's what I remember from being a kid.

I'm quoting way too much in this, but I don't yet have my own words for all this. In Wings, Terry Pratchett wrote a dialogue sort of like this between one of the nomes and the Thing, their machine. The nome asks for translation of human speech and the Thing translates 'hello, how are you going, nice weather we're having' as 'I am alive and so are you.' The nome explains that the hello etc part is what getting along with people means. I'm too much like the Thing to pass Go, but I'll have a go at getting along with people.
girl; obsessed: bandom - pete tattooscomplications_g on April 7th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you're not gone!

*cuddles*

Um, I had more to say but it's ramble-y and incoherant, so.


every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Cupcakes: with a candlescoradh on April 7th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's okay. I'm just glad YOU'RE glad. :DDD I've missed the easy happiness of bandom soooooooo much these past few days.
(no subject) - complications_g on April 8th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
R.J.'s Talkback Plebe Radioluciusmalfoy on April 7th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
I'm just reading over the atheist comments. Er. Please pretend I said something supportive, I'm jetlagged and not very good at the typy-thinky-thing right now. :/
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Disney: Lion King splashscoradh on April 7th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
Jetlag is the worst! I'll pretend away. :D
the claw-foot Lady: [bu] you are my sweetestsoftlyforgotten on April 7th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC)
♥♥♥
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fooish: pink party dressscoradh on April 7th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
THIS DOES NOT LOOK LIKE FAILYBOYS!FIC. *frown*

Just kidding. I love ya, seriously. Also, I owe you space shenanigans!
(no subject) - softlyforgotten on April 8th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC) (Expand)