I don’t predominantly hate my mother. There is hatred in there too, but the predominant feeling I have about her is disgust. My mother disgusts me.
My father disgusts me. The whole place I grew up in disgusts me. Not the place per se, but rather the people who inhabit it. They disgust me. All of them. There is not one person who I would call virtuous, there is barely anything in anyone to admire, hardly anything that would make anyone stand out (unless they were obviously and visibly deranged). There were never any role models for me and I was often perplexed when I was told to look for role models in my life. Why would I model anyone I found disgusting?
Of course, by inevitable consequence, I am disgusted by what I became in order to grow up in this disgusting place (so I did have role models, after all). A liar, a manipulator, narcissistic in many ways, weak, pathetic… Much of that I’ve pushed into my shadow, hidden away from myself by first hiding it from all these disgusting people who would – and did – throw their disgusting selves all over me at any sign of anything that could be judged morally.
I have on many occasions experienced their sneers and snorts at a mere mention of anything resembling a principle; their bewildered expressions as they talked behind my back about why I was so rigid and unmoving regarding my position, even as they offered no counterarguments (sneers and snorts don’t count). Disgusting! I used to wonder why people said questions beginning with “Why” were offensive. Now I believe it’s because they believe that if they were to ask them, they would actually get an answer – and wouldn’t like it. Because the answer might reveal just how disgusting they were.
And so as time went by I found exactly where I belonged in this disgusting world. I’d isolate myself whenever possible, vent my anger and frustration and disgust in video games and nail biting and knuckle cracking and in occasional outbursts, filling the void of lack of deep personal connection with someone – anyone – with more sugar and chocolate than I would care to admit. I became a passive doormat, a punch bag for others, especially those who were supposed to be closest to me, especially my mother. I became a lot like my own father – distant, unapproachable, conceited. It was my way of hiding from others what I found disgusting in myself.
I look at my nudist lifestyle, however, and I don’t feel disgust. It plays a very interesting role in this disgusting world, in fact. It is the way I act out my deep desire for a real connection; a desire to – without threat of judgement or violence even – reveal everything about myself, all the disgusting details and all the good aspects of myself, and my soul in particular, instead of keeping them within until they rot, or even fester, just as being naked reveals every detail of my physical body, for better or worse. It’s why I truly believe in the tagline of my blog “Bare your body and your soul will follow.”
Of course, I would expect a certain reciprocation in this kind of connection. Therapy is only half the job – very useful, but ultimately lacking (in reciprocation). I’m not interested in dumping my shit on other people’s doorstep, so to speak. What I want is a mutual (re)search of our souls – both regarding how our souls work independently, as well as how they operate in tandem. A kind of mutual shadow work and its reintegration into our conscious personality, a work done in genuine curiosity of ourselves, not in a desire to prove that either of us is better, or worse than the other in some way – or worse, to judge each other poorly based on what we’ve learned.
This is exactly what I’m so disgusted about. People judge negatively, demean, gloat… all without ever seeking to understand. There is no curiosity in them, no desire to know other people, because they have no desire to know themselves. Because if they did, they’d be disgusted (by) themselves.
I acquired the book “The Disowned Self” by Nathaniel Branden and tried to do an exercise described in it where I imagine myself dying in a hospital. My mother is there and the exercise consists of me telling her anything I ever wanted to tell her. According to doctor’s prognoses, I’ll be dead soon, so if ever there was a time, it was now. After that, I do the same with my father.
There are two caveats about the way I did this exercise, though. First, the exercise was to be done with a therapist, who would guide me if I started veering off-subject. I was alone. Second, Nathaniel mentions it is best if the exercise is be performed by lying down flat on the floor or the bed, with arms to the side of the body. This – according to him – puts a person in a defenseless position and this in turn lowers mental defenses too.* I started this exercise in a car and without planning to I drove to my favorite place in the woods where I used to take off my clothes and spend time naked. Once there, I took off my clothes and walked around, talking into my voice recorder. So, I was partly in a vulnerable position – completely naked – but also in a place I considered safe, where I could run or hide if so required. In other words, all this could be my defenses speaking and it is quite possible it is so because while this exercise is supposed to bring forth the pain from my childhood, what I felt most of the time was anger. A weak form of anger at that.
Beware, there is some foul language in the following transcript of the recording I made:
Because there is no need for me to do anything more productive than this, I’m here. You may think that there’s something more productive to do that this, but I wasn’t informed. I was told “You have no projects”. Moreover, I’m being told by my mother at my deathbed that I’m a fucking disappointment, so here I am disappointing everybody. I’m disappointing everybody by dying. Sorry, guys! I’m so sorry that you’re disappointed.
Imagine how much more disappointed you would be – by me, of course – if you found out that underneath these hospital bed sheets I was actually naked! I ditched my gown and I didn’t care about it.
Yes, mother. I’m not wearing any clothes! How do you feel about that? Are you disappointed? Do you still feel like I’m worthless? Are you still disgusted by me? Am I a disappointment huge enough for you that you don’t care about me dying? That you care more about how you’re going to turn my death into your advantage in your pathetic, stupid social circles? How you’re going to raise yourself up in other people’s eyes at the cost of my life? I hate you, mother. I hate you from the bottom of everything that I am. I’m disgusted by you. You disgust me. I wish I’d never met you.
Even if this is not the real purpose of the exercise, it is interesting that I would want to say this to my mother on my deathbed. Clearly, I want to hurt her deeply. Possibly – hopefully – to the same extent that I was hurt by her. She would live the rest of her life knowing that her son hated her, and disgusted her. And it would be especially difficult for her to keep up her persona in her social circles because – I assume – she would be reminded that she is merely using my death to her advantage; to invoke pity, compassion… But even as I write this I get the distinct feeling that even if this scenario did come to pass and I did tell her those things, she wouldn’t listen. That she would simply ignore me. Her disappointment. Her foolish son, saying hurtful things in a state of confused delirium on his deathbed. Sure. She would rationalize it away. Perhaps not on her own, but certainly with the help of my father.
So this attack on her is actually a defense of something deeper within. I wasn’t very surprised by the things I said to her in that recording (this is only an excerpt), but what surprised me more is what I didn’t say. Although I had thought about it moments before beginning this exercise, I didn’t mention how much she hurt me. I don’t show her that wound. Why? Simple. Because she has the “perfect” (for her), infuriating defense “You never said anything.” First of all, telling your mother that she is hurting you should never need to be put explicitly – at least not by the child’s own incentive. If a mother is unable to tell that her child is hurting, she is not much of a mother. And I mean it. A mother ought to notice and if in all sincerity she is unable to find the reason for her child’s pain, then she ought to ask that child herself about what’s the matter. Otherwise she’s a shitty mother. My mother is a shitty mother. She never asked, and I know she still hopes that I never tell. Second, I did try to tell her. A dozen times at least. She used those opportunities to learn the truth to just drive the knife deeper into the wound, before I even got to say what I meant to say. It was like she knew what was coming and her defenses would be up instantly. Whether it was by yelling, punishment of some sort, striking out physically, shaming, name calling… even screaming at the top of her lungs over me laying down the truth of how I felt about something she did before her. You name it – she’s used every weapon imaginable.
And the wound I’m protecting by not mentioning it isn’t that she has a perfect defense to everything. No. It’s much deeper than that. She, in fact, never felt obligated to help me deal with my emotions. And I don’t think it’s because she didn’t know how, although that might have something to do with it. What she really thought, I believe, is that I’m not worth the effort. To her, I was not worth the time required to sit down with me and ask me how I felt; I was not worth the words she’d have to waste to talk to me about my feelings; nothing I did of my own accord – for her, or otherwise – was worth talking about, let alone of praise. Unless she wanted me to do it, and particularly if she had an indication that I may not want to do it. In this context, the look I got from her in a dream I had of her is saying something much simpler than what I originally thought. “Ugh! Do I have to deal with this again?!”
When I begin talking to my father, I mention him not restraining me. One time during college, my mother and I were having an argument. I got really angry and yelled at her and all of a sudden, my father approached me from behind and restrained me like I was some sort of a mad dog. I don’t even remember what the argument was about, but I do remember being so furious by him restraining me I wanted to bash both their skulls in just because he thought – as evident by his restraining me – I would attack my mother. Up until the point I felt his restraint it didn’t even enter my mind – not even remotely – to become violent. I was angry, and I was yelling, but to hurt someone physically? That’s not me. And in that moment I realized just how low a life form my parents thought I was. It took a great deal of restraint on my side to stop myself from trying to escape his restraint, which without doubt he would use as proof that I really was violent. But man, I half-regret not punching him afterwards!
I suppose my father is next. Hello, father. How the fuck are you? Are you even listening to me? I’m surprised you haven’t restrained me again when I was talking to mother here. I suppose you think I’m too weak at this moment? Can’t hurt her now. As if I ever cared enough to hurt her. I’m disgusted by you too. How you caved in to her every demand. How pathetic you are. What a brilliant role model. Just take the blows, huh? Until you… what? Go mental? Go fucking insane and spend all your fortune on… what? Politics? Everything you’ve ever worked for you waste on people you hate; [people] you despise? So that what? You could take their money? What is your motivation for going into politics?
Maybe it’s just so that you could get the hell away from all of us. Like you always did – get the hell away from us! And I don’t mean physically, you just… you were there! Physically you were there, but you weren’t there there. You were in your own world. You were reading books, watching movies. You never talked to us. You never did anything of your own accord. You were always waiting for cues from mother. And those cues were “Beat them the hell up”. Very rarely, though. More often it was “Do as I say”. Do as my mother says. Nothing else. What she says you do. You don’t do anything else. Even the company that you used to acquire this fortune that you wasted in politics was my mother’s idea. I wonder whose idea it was to get into politics in the first place. Jeez, if it was yours it was the stupidest idea ever, maybe you should listen to mother more often.
In any case, you never had anything to say to me, so what the hell can I say to you? I don’t know who you are. I don’t know anything about you. You’re a bloody enigma. You’re gonna be an enigma when you die. “What the hell did he die of? He didn’t seem sick, he didn’t seem old. He just died!” Like me, right now. I’m just gonna die, who knows what I’m gonna die of. Nobody can tell me. I just know I’m gonna die in the next few hours. And you too. You’re gonna die and everybody’s gonna [ask] “What?! He died? How’d that happen? We never expected him to die, he didn’t look like he was going to die, he didn’t say he was going to die.” [I laugh.] “He just died. And he was gone. Like, we never expected him to be here anyway. He just was, like… here he is. And now he’s gone. Huh! What do you know? What a mirage he was. You could never say if he really was here, or not.” And they’re going to look back at all those times that they thought they were talking to you and they’re gonna wonder “Was I talking to him? Was he even there?” Were you even there? Ever?
I have a hard time figuring it out myself. Were you even there when you were in bed with mom making me? Were you there, or were you somewhere else? Who the fuck would know? You never said anything. Anything important anyway. All you gave were rationalizations. Never anything relevant. Or said what you thought, what you felt, what… what you’re planning. Never! Not bloody once. Even when you seemed like you were saying these things, you weren’t actually saying these things. I wish there was a way to figure you out. You’re “unfigureoutable”.
There are so many things that I know about you, that we never talked about. And I do want to ask you questions, dammit. I want to know about it. But you just don’t fucking answer. It’s a shame. Like me right now, you’re gonna die and nobody’s gonna know anything about you.
* Interestingly – and I noticed that sometime after I returned to this text – I spoke all of the quoted text when I was most vulnerable. I’d walked for quite some time down a long path into the woods to a small shed near a body of water (a very idyllic place, in my opinion). There are no connecting paths to that path, so the only way to get back to where I’d started is by returning across the entire length of that path. In addition, the path is surrounded by an impassable thicket full of thorny plants. If someone decided to come down that path in that moment, I’d have nowhere to hide and my nudity would’ve been fully exposed.