Picture: copyright and thanks to Renaat Jansen. The photographer of sublime moments that would otherwise pass unnoticed.
Self-esteem: being secure of our „good qualities“. Self-secure: the open and non-judgemental acceptance of one´s own weaknesses. (Brené Brown).
One of the paradoxes of this country, Belgium: Belgium classic school system puts a lot of pressure on children from a young age; long days, a lot of homework, state exams. I see girls and boys with papers in their hands on the public transport, poring into them as if their very survival depended on what the teacher marked there – in red, of course. Red is the color of survival (among other symbolic). One would expect the adults coming out of this system be super-performing, competition oriented, over-motivated or the opposite, as a result of. Okay, I am generalizing here, but what I see in adult Belgians that made it to the world: they show quite a laid-back, cannot-be-bothered-too-much, life-is-not-about-work-mainly attitude. That is why people from my country hit the roof when dealing with employees in services here. Easy, guys, lunch first, or, It is four thirty, time to switch off the comp.
On the other hand, in Slovak working environment prevails the mixture of old patriarchal hierarchy, sugar and whip attitude topped with the neo-capitalistic ideas of maximizing profit through pressure and demand and ego-boosting. No wonder, the whole society as we have structured it until now resembles largely prisons. Outer walls of the system and the inner walls of insecure inner children within. Almost daily I see adult men and women reacting from the place of their childhood wounds. And I am now able to observe myself in situations: the need to defend myself, the squirm of the ego when critics comes along, the need to run away, the frozen state when mind just goes blank.
We are travelers coming from far. Who has forged us to prisoners?
Original families are jails. A cell that a person does not leave easily, as she depends on the folks for the survival during tiny childhood. And when (if) she slowly realizes she is free to go, conditioning already happened. I remember the furious happiness I felt when there was 1200 kilometers between me and „my tribe“. And, please, note, I love them. Only, there is no distance that could undo what was running in my veins and what I unconsciously believed: Never trust people you love with your true needs and feelings. You will not get your true needs fulfilled unless you sneak, steal, highjack them. Yelling, thumping are necessary tools. Withdraw and hide authentic. Play roles. Please others. Pretend. Yes, yes, I was very skillful at pretending. A long road out of shit, lots of books, lots of observations, lots of yoga. Mostly yoga put into an off-mat experience.
A weekend spent on the Belgium coast in a cosy family house where children live no longer. Full of memories, holiday pictures, sport trophies, old school desks… I am enchanted, mesmerized and not deceived. The energy of games played, of cords pulled, of hidden agendas, is palpable here. And so what?
We grow up with resistance. Another paradox: we are wired to be free and to connect through allowing growth, we treasure freedom as a birth right, and, at the same time, we oppress, suppress, try to bend, fit others and us into unfitting boxes. No wonder resistance is a tool we take to life. Only, what we resist, that persists. Every generation witnesses some major shifts in the society. The nowadays shift is: Survival kit and tools do not serve so well anymore. But we use them because we are only slowly becoming aware of other tools. Parenting used to be driven by survival mechanisms – to secure that the next generation lives through, if possible, learns quickly and adapts to rules and norms. The rules and norms need to change and banging wisdom and obedience under a threats and blackmailing in the name of „love“ makes us confused, invisibly traumatized, taking blackmailing, suppressing, comparing, and hiding the personal truth as a norm. As normal, as necessary, as ways of loving.
I stumbled upon an American domestic novel. Not much happening, subtle tension of unsaid, unexpressed, un-allowed, un… A few scenes where the attentive reader feels the drama is going unnoticed by the subjects.
On the territory of my own multiple personalities, there is often a fierce defense system that does not want to break the wall because who knows what might be found in the rumbles and behind them? Excuses. And, firm beliefs. Oh, firm beliefs is such a cool form of resistance.
One more paradox – a personal one. Though I can be naked around strangers in sauna or change swimsuits on the beach without much hiding, I am very reluctant to show myself to close ones. Not only in romantic setting. And not only the body. It is a metaphor. The paradox is a torch leading me down the stairs into hidden chambers.
Time to heal. Time to redefine that four-letter word of songs and poems. Go back to the picture – Love is white in white, love is at the backdrop of all colours.
Inspired by Brené Brown, Teal Swan, Anne Tyler and, life.