Building Walls

To be honest, I do feel alone, sometimes I even feel completely and utterly alone. I know, it’s not true, but even so, you still feel it. The facts may be different, but the feelings are real enough. It is a dreadful feeling. One thing that has been bothering me, of late, is how I used to be. I think, and I cringe, at the thought of how I used to think. But, it is important to remember, that is how I used to think. I recall that ten years ago, I could be something of a firebrand, more inclined to go on a crusade than try to understand and accept someone. Perhaps that is why I still haven’t quite found the word ‘Righteousness’ to be a very positive one, for me it reminds me too much of my old self, and the madness of the pursuit of righteousness, to the point of cruelty really. That’s what a mad pursuit of righteousness will leave one doing, it tends to bring about a dehumanization of those around oneself. Perhaps self-righteousness would be a more accurate description than righteousness. Nevertheless, I am not going to hide the fact that the word righteousness makes me cringe. Looking back, the ideas I once thought were the only proper way of thinking, seem rather cultish and even barbaric to me. This leaves me with always asking myself, what blindnesses do I still hold? I thought I held an open mind than too, after all. Ten years later, I am very accepting, or at the very least tolerant of, the same things I once argued like a lunatic about. If that makes any sense at all. I’m so glad that people can change, that I’ve changed. Mostly, I’m glad that I’ve changed. I’m glad that I’m not who I was ten years ago.

I still have a long road ahead of me, and I’m still quite secretive, so secretive, in fact, that I sometimes feel like I’m dwelling in a dream world of my own creation, a world that has nothing to do with reality. I feel rather trapped inside myself, you might say. It is like a terrible sort of prison at times, like I’m dwelling so far in the darkness, that I will never see the light again. The problem is, I feel as though I’m growing not only restless, but desperate. Desperation can be very dangerous. I won’t deny, I’m a little frightened at the notion.

This blog, is mostly meant to be a form of self-therapy, something to force myself out of my shell, if even for a moment. Otherwise, believe me, I’d be a card-carrying member of The Doctor’s ‘Hermit’s United’ and what is more, it would probably just be me, myself, and I who got together every ten years to exchange stories about caves. So bear with me if I seem a little self-focused. I’ve been in my shell for a very long time, and I do suspect I have some bizarre psychological complexes. There seems to be this ‘hero’ thing, like Harry Potter has, where he is almost reckless in his need to be saving people. Sometimes, I even ponder the notion that in the darkest part of me I hold what I can only call a ‘god complex’, which is to say, the insane desire to be worshiped and adored, to hear my name praised by all. I’m not saying it is a good thing, just an observation of the darkest part of me.

Nevertheless, I really would like to become friends with others, somehow. I am fascinated, enthralled with, and enchanted by other people, more often than not. Now, I’ll admit, I have a bit of a social awkwardness, and not the first clue of etiquette  I feel rather like I’m an alien who hasn’t quite figured out the locals, despite living amongst them for twenty-eight years. At other times I feel like an earthling, but from the wrong time. Either way, I never know what exactly to say to people, and on the rare occasions I find someone else who is as bizarre as I am, I’m too enthralled by them and I feel a little, well, I don’t know. Frightened? It really is quite frustrating.

I suppose, in a sense, I’m too aware of how society works, as well as being too ignorant of it. I have suffered more often than not at the hands of those whose presumptions of what I should be like, were based entirely on the observations of idiocy and not the least to do with myself. Let me explain. Some idiot out there goes out and for the sake of our discussion, robs a bank. This idiot happens to be male, and young, and he needs money. Now, his solution to his problem is to rob a bank. Now, I’m not this young idiot, but I also happen to be male, young, and could use a bit of money. Now say you were told that you’re a loser because this young idiot robbed a bank. You’re obviously not that idiot, but because he’s young, male, and needs money, you’re treated as though you too have gone out and robbed a bank. Now, it may not be robbing banks, but if you take apart for example ideas concerning gender and the interactions between them, you will quickly find such reasoning applied. He’s young, he’s male, he must be after what that idiot over there is after. It’s complete balderdash, of course, but that is how society operates. Men are accused by association of their maleness, women are blamed because they are women. Prejudice, clear and simple, is often disguised in other forms, such as ‘being modest’ or ‘being pure’ and so forth. More often than not, it’s just a way of promoting discrimination against the other, for demeaning both men and women alike, though I will not deny, more often than not, women suffer the most prejudice, as much from other women as from men. Despite the automatic guilt of being a male, it is no use to deny that male dominion is still the prevalent viewpoint among most of culture. It is a complicated issue. So, in this sense, I’m too aware of how the social order works. So while I freely admit I’m completely socially awkward, attempts to understand how society is structured have not only failed to help me, but have left me feeling rather helpless.

I dream of a world where we view each other as human beings first, before we see anything else, we remember our equal standing as a human being. Whatever else we might be. That is my dream, that is my desire. That is my hope for society, and for my own view of the world.

I will not deny, I find myself rather enthralled by people, they are interesting. Quite interesting indeed. But I feel as though I’m an observer only, and it isn’t at all the same as actually holding a relationship with people. Yes, you can learn a lot about a person by means of observation, but you can never know them, not like you know them as a result of holding a relationship with them. By relationship, just to clarify, I do not mean romance, but any kind of relationship, and certainly romance can be a part of that, but it isn’t just that which I am talking about here. I can observe many things from a single YouTube video for example, but the person in the video can remain a complete stranger. Only by forming a relationship with the actual person can I actually know them. I tend to watch, and because I’ve trained myself to be observant, and to know how it is that people think, I am often very familiar with people’s habits, and what it is that they are most likely to do or say in a given situation, much like what does happen in relationships, but here’s the thing, I do it with complete strangers I’d never seen before in my life, and am surprisingly accurate in my predictions of what it is that they are going to do. This leads me to holding a false sense of knowing them, when in truth they are still strangers. I do not apologize for my observational abilities, but it does make things a bit more complicated. You feel at times like when it comes to meeting people for the first time you’re faced with the following situation: “Hello, I know everything about you, my name is Shane, by the way, nice to meet you.”

Awkward much? Yes.

 Still, this blog is an attempt to “Put myself out there” if you will, to be known. Like I say, I’m maddeningly secretive. Yet here’s the funny thing, I put most of my deepest secrets, in plain sight. You’ll find them, for example, on my Facebook profile, or by reading this blog. I suppose, it’s worth mentioning, that this blog, it doesn’t function as individual post, in order to get the full picture, more often than not, all post need to be taken into consideration. But still, the secrets are in plain sight. Even so, I am insanely secretive, and will almost never directly answer a question. I can be very clever at wrapping a plain answer in an exceedingly complicated package.

Even I’m starting to find it annoying. I really want to just be myself as I am, no more, no less. To just be the real me, to not feel as though I’m existing in some dream world, but just be me. In this world. The sad truth is, I am enslaved to what others think of me, but if I find beauty in unexpected, or prejudiced against, places. That’s okay. All true beauty, is found ultimately in Christ, who is the source, and the giver of beauty. We cannot know beautiful apart from holding a knowledge of God. Even if we don’t believe in him, it doesn’t change that he is still the source of all beauty, all truth, all goodness. I need to realize that it is only by becoming so enchanted by beauty, truth, and goodness, that I can only then see things with clarity.

Also, I have to wonder how can I make a difference? I really don’t know, but I wish I did. Like I said above, I feel rather helpless in the face of the dragon of the social structure, and the built in injustices, prejudices, and so forth therein. I feel as though I do not even have a sword or shield, not to mention any hope of victory against it.

Also, I remain ever troubled, but why? I know, I know, it is self-condemnation. It is a part of the dream world, nightmares that crossover into reality, lies that tell us we are monsters, and so forth. It is a form of self-inflicted torment in a way. Not only for myself, but I worry about those of my generation, I worry about the torture of condemnation upon them, I worry about what lies they might believe. And even in this I worry about them being precious to me. Still, I worry about them, their souls are beautiful souls, and nothing hurts the soul like condemnation does.

In regarding humanity, I find that another thing that really, I suppose you could say, bothers me is the reality of human trafficking. These are my brothers, these are my sisters. These people are precious, and precious to me. I want to believe that humanity is beautiful, but what do I make of the traffickers? Is it wrong for me to seek to see the best in people? What do I make of the monsters? I think humanity as monsters scares me much more than things traditionally considered scary, for example, ghost, and so forth. With humanity, I want to see them as beautiful, so the horror is so much more pronounced for it. I feel conflicted, perhaps because of conflicting values. Your love for humanity coming up against the human monster. It’s not only the traffickers, but it is the terrorist, and even those who do harm for selfish gain, such as folks who cheat, steal, lie, and so forth. The darker aspects of human kind. It is very hard to see beauty in the midst of hatred. I really do want to see people as being precious and beautiful people, but I’m troubled every time I hear reports of violence, brutality, wars, and so forth. These things trouble me, and so they should. As troubling as they are, I also recognize that I too am a human being, and just as capable of such deplorable acts as they are capable of beautiful ones. We are all human beings, saints and devils alike. It is troubling to realize that we are all the same, and yet, it is also encouraging to realize that I am also of the same kind as those who are of a beautiful spirit, the precious ones who are selfless and courageous, and good, and kind. Sometimes, the most extraordinary deeds are indeed done by the most ordinary people, these ordinary heroes, they too are human beings. So the picture of humanity is not wholly a bleak one.

For my part, I want to be the sort of human that helps and not hinders. In the end, I suppose there really isn’t much that I can do to ‘change society’ except to do my part. Sometimes, that is all that is needed.

So, yes, I have to admit, I desire friendship, and at the same time, I can’t pretend I am entirely alone. It isn’t true, there are lots of people there, with me, even if I don’t always see them. I do have friends, even when I feel the most alone, there are friends. I have to believe that there are also those who, even if they do not know me, wish me well.

All in all, my hope is that I can be a friend to others as well. I ask myself, what do I desire? I’ve been thinking, I think more than anything else, I desire understanding. This might not seem like much, but I don’t think it’s so much loneliness I struggle with, I am surrounded by caring people. It’s a fear, I’m not going to even call it a valid one, of being misunderstood. And my secretive nature hinders my being understood more than anything else. In short, I’m coming to believe that I have built walls around myself, and in so doing, have made it much more difficult for myself.

———

Yes, I realize I’ve not posted in awhile, almost a month. Truth is, I’ve started ever so many drafts but I could never come up with anything resembling anything sensible until this one. One of the drafts is about 15,000 words long and counting. So, I have been writing, just not actually posting it! I’ve not forgotten the blog!

  • I used to be very like you in this regard. :) Actually, to a certain extent, I still am. Back when I lived with roommates and was participating in their social circle, I always felt like such an outsider. . .Now, not so much. . . But I’ve been living alone for nearly two years, and am perfectly capable of going days without interacting with another human being if there’s nowhere I have to be and nothing I have to do.

    And yet human connections are so valuable. I think they’re the only way we really truly grow and mature. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve met two people over the last four years who liked and understood me just the (weird) way I am. :) And were patient (or bored and lonely?) enough to pry me out of my shell. These two friendships, I think, have been two of the most formative pieces of my life and identity. (Plus it’s fun to have someone to take out to dinner at the end of a long day with whom you can laugh about stupid things or comfortably discuss what really matters.)

    Another thing that has been “good for me” is volunteering at a animal shelter. :) I wonder if you would benefit from something like that? You see, it puts you out amongst people, and yet there isn’t a lot of pressure for conversation because you’re doing something together instead of just hanging out trying to make awkward small talk. I get an odd and pleasant sense of community–I mean, I’m not the ONLY person in the world who chooses to go to a cat shelter at 8AM on a Saturday to cheerfully and voluntarily scrub 30 litter boxes in exchange for some cat snuggling time. There are other people like me in THAT respect, anyway, as evidenced by my fellow volunteers. And you get to know the people you work with, too, if you’ll just listen when they talk about themselves and say “Yeah?” in an inquiring tone to keep them going. And eventually, even–maybe–you find yourself contributing more to the conversation than just a listening ear. :)

    Anyway, what I’m mainly trying to say is that the fear of being misunderstood is very, very valid. It is my experience that most people just won’t “get” you on the things that matter–you can be trivial together, sure, but deeper friendships are hard to come by and maintain. Still, though, those soul-level friendships are priceless. So it’s worth going out there and being misunderstood so that you can discover those true friends out among the rest. :) Even if it is blisteringly painful to put yourself out there, it CAN be done and you even get somewhat used to it after awhile.

    If all else fails, just say, “Yeah?”

    • Shane Deal

      Thanks for the encouraging words!

      I think I get what you’re saying, and I think it is great that you are able to enjoy living alone. I still live with my family, but when I have the house to myself, it is like someone flipped a switch to a whole different personality. I used to dread being all by myself like that, now I find I treasure it, but I never really had a day without interacting with another human being at some point during the day. I think, if I’m remembering correctly, in my entire life. By interacting, I’m excluding telecommunications, shouting from the rooftops, the internet and so forth. So even though it may only be known to me on a scale of several hours of being by myself, I think I understand what you mean about finding yourself quite capable of being by yourself.

      I definitely agree that human connections are so valuable, although I think we can mature and grow by means of inward reflection as well. Though I would say this is usually not the case as we are more apt to recycle ideas we agree with then really question and challenge ourselves in the way that another person would. Nevertheless, I’m not sure if I would agree that it is the only way we can truly grow and mature. Come to think of it, even with inward pondering, most of the time, if not all of it, we are benefiting from the ideas we’ve learned about from another human. So, maybe you’re right. I would definitely say that it is usually much more effective and efficient to bring about growth and maturity with human connections.

      That’s fantastic that you have met those who like and understand you. That really is a precious thing to have! You are quite fortunate indeed! I’m happy that you have people like that! It really is wonderful. And one of the greatest of blessings, one can have in one’s life. :)

      In regard to the volunteering, or something like that, I know I would benefit from it. It is an excellent suggestion. I’ll definitely have to consider things of that nature.

      I can see why you find it to be a pleasant community. It’s probably not the sort of thing I personally would volunteer for, I mean, I like cats, but more from a distance. I should look for something though, you’re quite right. Still, it’s awesome that you’ve got that!

      That’s a good suggestion about saying “Yeah?” like that. Thanks!

      Thank you so much for saying what you said about putting myself out there, I think you’re right, it is worth doing. I will definitely seek opportunities in the future.

      Again, thank you for your encouraging words, Rissa.

      -Shane