I love writing these blogs as they truly do help me. They allow me to put things down on a piece of paper and formulate my thoughts, they allow me to look at what is going on inside my head and make sense of it. If it does not make sense, it gives me a jumping off point to investigate.
I used to think some of my thoughts or beliefs were wrong or that I must be “defective” in some way! “Normal” people don’t think or feel this way… Or do they? I have had the absolute pleasure of talking with many people on this journey and what I am starting to see is that a lot more people are struggling to understand why they feel the way they do. It could be about how they feel emotionally or even around a strong held societal belief that has never made sense or something has happened to start to challenge their own beliefs.
Please understand, by no means am I saying everyone is struggling; it’s only a lot more than I ever understood. The issue for me is that I jumped on the societal norm or someone else’s belief bandwagon when it came to so many things such as love, relationships, work, military service, religion and a host of other things.
In one case speaking with someone about my military experiences and the beliefs I held around them, I realized I was slotting myself, and every other man and women who served, in a box that may have been arbitrarily decided by someone whom I never met. Hell, the Canadian Armed Forces does it to this day! They rank trauma on what feels like some imaginary scale or something that was decided decades ago. For example in my case, they acknowledge the incident in Cyprus as the reason for my PTSD. They have not acknowledged the fact that I was in an accident where 3 others and myself were blown up by a grenade in training. The findings sent to me after reviewing all the facts is that it was my Cyprus service that impacted me, with no mention of the rest. An un-proven belief I hold is they do not like to admit that training to go to a war zone may have an impact on someone.
MY SOCIATAL BELIEFS AROUND MY MILITARY SERVICE:
I was not in a war! How could I be so weak to have PTSD? We associated only combat Veterans with PTSD.
I was in Cyprus where one soldier shot at another soldier and because I was in the middle, guns were pointed at my Fire Team partner and myself. I thought since others have actually been shot, I was weak for having this impact me! Plus we called most of our time in Cyprus a “Mediterranean holiday”, how can a holiday be negative?
I was on a training exercise in California and was involved in an accident with a grenade. The other guys seemed to be OK, so I must be weak, it must be me!
We sat in the shacks as a group of soldiers and talked about how weak those that quit training were. “The cowards that could not handle training just because someone was threatening him or her or it was hard. They must be weak, it’s only training. Imagine what they would do if they ever got into battle?” I barely made the training, I wanted to break so many times, but the fear kept me going. So as we spoke I bought into this bravado, afraid of what would be said about me if I did not.
After training, the bravado continued to grow in our speech and those that were judged as weak continued to be an outcast. The funny thing is, since I was not a great soldier but was a good or average soldier; I may have been a part of this “weak” group and never knew it. I wonder sometimes if the ones that were saying people were weak were as fucked up as I was?
Another common societal belief is around relationships and divorce. I have heard people say we are a throw away society like divorce is something new. It does not have to be only marriage, when any relationship ends, someone always feels like a failure or that someone is at fault; not that it was just time and that’s ok.
I was having coffee with a friend who stated they felt like a failure. They have been divorced twice and this was weighing heavy. So as we chatted and shared our opinions we decided to Google the first “marriage and divorce” in history. We both had some “holy crap” moments as we read and learned about this. (I won’t get into it all, if you want send me an email and I will share some of the links we found). What I will say is that the original marriage contract in nomadic history included ways for the wife to end the “marriage”. So “divorce” or the end of relationships has been around as long as marriage itself. There is nothing “new” about it…
I accepted beliefs even though I had no idea where they came from. When I questioned them I thought there must be something wrong with me. I allowed other people’s thoughts and opinions to possibly derive my own worth. The issue around societal norms is that they may not have always been the norm! So, if you feel that any negative emotion of feeling applies to yourself, based on a opinion or societal belief, question it, talk it through, and for your own peace of mind, do some research.
Here is a poem I wrote about 4 or 5 years ago
You dreamed the dreams of children
You tried to live your life with peace
You believed what you were told
What you were sold
You tried to belong
Tried to exist
Somewhere and in some place
Dreaming the dreams of Children
You sit at the table
Discussing the life unlived
Glimmers of pleasure
Thoughts of Pain
I was somebody I thought I knew
I thought my life was clear
I believed what I was told
I bought what I was sold
I existed but did not belong
I lived the lies of society
The dreams of my child
Were yours not mine
Keep Chasing those Cars
With Love, Respect and Admiration
This is a link to some of the earliest marriage contracts.