“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to admit something to my readers. Mine is the face of mental imbalance. I won’t deep dive into my issues – they are my own for the moment – but I would like to explain how everyday things we accept create some of these problems in those we love.
Recently I made a difficult choice about my life and some relationships. One of the hardest things about letting go, at least to me, is the ability to not compare my life to those I’m letting go of. A friend of mine recently told me it may have to do with childhood inadequacy, which is pretty close to accurate. As a child growing up in northeast Pennsylvania in the 1980s, layoffs and income drops were not uncommon, nor were the rather cruel attitudes children had towards less fortunate peers.
In the TV series South Park, Eric Cartman relentlessly teases classmate and so-called friend Kenny for being poor and destitute. Some folks laugh this off as schtick. The problem is this minimizes the fact this behavior exists. I know, I lived it.
My parents went from living a relatively comfortable lifestyle to being on food stamps on a rather short time in the 1980s. In northeast Pennsylvania, that sort of thing made you about a half step about dog poop on the social ladder. You were avoided by many and kids who received free lunch were looked down on as social pariahs. Don’t think for a moment that this teasing wasn’t part of behaviors and attitudes learned at home. The very first people children imitate are their parents and family, so it’s a safe bet the teasing I suffered was at least an indirect result of parental attitudes towards the poor. To that end, there is an old axiom that some of the worst snobs are in the middle class. This holds true anywhere.
The crazy thing is now that I understand this, I forgive these folks for their teasing. Deep down most of them didn’t understand the complexities of this condition. Hell, nobody really did. At that time childhood trauma was a lot like the flu: everyone got it, so you dealt with it. Some of us, however, didn’t deal so well, which brings me to another point.
It’s actually startling the way people classify someone as “well adjusted” these days. Today that basically means you had a bunch of hookups in your twenties or early thirties to get the “wild oats” phase out of your system. Of course for some this only exacerbates underlying trauma with regards to emotions such as abandonment, attachment, etc. it’s literally like sticking a magnet to your moral compass – you can easily be led astray. I know folks who say that I have a poor moral compass and while that may be true, knowing the root cause of that issue will help to create a plan of action to return me to man I used to be. My issues are my own, and only a select few will know the whole details. That being said I am focused and determined to overcome my issues through treatment and all available means for emotional balance at my disposal. I urge anyone you know going through similar to do the same.
Let’s adjust ourselves to the ideal of the world can be, rather than accept it as it is.