Who are you? Who am I?
Your name was given to you by someone else. Your gender, your birthplace, and your race were all given to you. Your job is transient at best.
Inevitably, when anyone starts sitting in silence with their eyes closed in meditation, Who Am I? is a question that will arise. If I’m honest, though, it has always been a question for me. It’s one of the questions that made me wonder if I was crazy. Paradoxically, in philosophy and psychology, it’s the very question that keeps you sane.
I am a mother of 3 amazing and frustrating kids, I was working full time, I have a handful of friends, [insert standardized blurbs here]. To each category, I had a different set of filters and personality. People always tell me how much they love how real and genuine I am. At the same time, in the corridors of my mind, the real me peers out while bound and gagged. Has anyone else felt this way? I’ve changed a lot in the last year, but looking back, I only revealed a meager portion of my truth. How I actually felt in situations, or what I actually wanted. I think how many times I would say OK! to things I did not want to do? Or say, “I’m fine.” when the actual emotion would be more accurately described as “Die in a fire so hot Satan will feel sad.”
Carl Jung has called what we repress, what we do not like about ourselves, etc. to be our shadow self. It’s also been called your demons, dark side, and so on. The Buddha calls it suffering. Most religions call it sin. It might feel like a stretch to bring sin in this, but to me, it’s all different words for the same concept. I think most of our lives our mistaken concepts – another definition of a lie. A lack of understanding of the words, because we use the words too much.
Part of the problem, I think, is a lack of time for everyone. We’re all constantly reading – texts, blogs, social media, etc. so words are commonplace now. We don’t linger on words for context and alternative meanings, and abbreviations are becoming more common. This is creating a lot of challenges in communication. If I write over 600 words, the likelihood of this blog being read drops considerably. Over 2,000, it’s almost certain. Yet, how can someone explain psychology, philosophy, or any other detailed topic in short sequences? I don’t know, but it sounds like a fantastic challenge, and that’s why I am starting this blog. If people don’t read it, that doesn’t matter, because I’m explaining it to myself, and I need to understand it, because this is how I’m helping myself. The self I am still getting to know.
Who Am I?
My world shifted when I heard Alan Watts explain in a seminar that a persona, the root in Latin, referenced the mask the actors wore on stage. Jung used persona to explain the mask you wear in society/interactions with others. Therefore, my filters and all were completely normal – expected, standard, what everyone else does. The strain of this, however, made me behave crazily – aggressive, angry, confused, panicking, and depressed. I had so many personalities – same root – actor’s mask. Our personalities, all things to do with our person-hood, anything you can associate with your person, will all come to the root of the mask.
When people tell me I am a genuine person, they tell me I am being a genuine fake. Watt’s made me realize that, and I started laughing hysterically. That’s exactly how I’ve always felt. I wanted to be a diamond, but I was rocking a cubic zirconia. (Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond just randomly came on YouTube as I typed this…)
If anything, most of my personalities contained a possessive. I identified purely in externals. ___’s Mom, ___’s analyst, ____’s wife, ____’s friend. I wasn’t my anything. I could not say writer, philosopher, Buddhist, anything, really. I don’t even know that those are genuine answers, but at least they don’t contain forms of grammar in them?
Behind my smile, busy work week, constant cleaning, activities for my family, well-cooked meals, etc. was an unending narration of every shortcoming, every misspoken word, every misstep, every un-asked question, every fear, and everything I have ever wanted to do but never did. It was varying streams of consciousness that eventually would become roaring tsunamis of psychosis almost a year ago. The human mind can only be pushed so far.
The nice thing about psychosis (I’ll add that to the list of my eventual book, “Things I thought I’d never say”) is it definitively gave me the answer to “what is crazy?”I know what it is like to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I said to a friend the other day, “It gets really easy to stay humble and have no shame in my game when I know I ran into my house screaming I’ve killed us all!” is that fucked up to say? Yeah, probably. What else can I do? Cry about it? It happened almost a year ago. I didn’t die. I’d rather get to the point where I can laugh about terrible things in my life.
I think I’ve naturally tried to do what Jung has said to do all along. Embrace your shadows. Love your demons. Forgive your sins. Say yes to that dress.
Isn’t it weird how much easier it is to do the externals, yet realistically, you are all you have, and you are probably the meanest to yourself? When I started meditating, I started noticing and hearing my thoughts. I was a real dickhead. When I realized how genuine my mask was, how much more I liked the outside me… I decided I needed to fix that. I wanted to be authentic. To do that, I had to start liking myself at least. All of me. Not just the one I painted on for the stage.
When I began to see everything associated with the very idea of me was fake, I began to lose all the fear I had about opinions, or whatever it was. I’m not really sure what put the notion in my mind that I had to wear so many masks. In truth, it stopped being about people anyway, I just want to know who I am.
I am okay being an onion like Shrek said. As long as I understand my layers, as long as I love and accept my layers. I don’t care if anyone else thinks I stink. I don’t want to be a mask, an actor on a stage.
Yet…isn’t it also fascinating that another definition for person is: the modes of being God in the Trinity? You are either an actor on stage or you are God? Not much wiggle room there!
((Just over 1200 words, curious to see how this does, it’s optimal word count. If you enjoyed, kindly reblog & share on your social media, and I will return the favor in kind if I enjoy your work! I am on Facebook & Twitter as well, just getting started everywhere))
Who are you? Who am I?