Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Self-censorship

The self-censorship of knowing you have more than you deserve,
so much more than others,
and it was earned by your parents,
so you can't lay claim to it.

The self-censorship of knowing you don't do your best,
although you have been given more intelligence than others.

The self-censorship of having a retarded sister,
knowing that you have so much more to be thankful for,
and that she doesn't know any better.

This kind of self-censorship can turn into self-loathing.
It can corrode you from the inside,
filling your soul with self-doubt.

Being raised by a father who was himself rooted
in the old "spare the rod and spoil the child" philosophy
and by a mother whose own father was gentle, kind and learned
so that she couldn't intervene,
because she believed that a father only punished out of love,
and back then a wife didn't question her husband.

Learned to be compliant,
learned to appear happy,
learned to hide anger,
learned to conceal true emotions.

Learned those lessons so well
that one's true emotions are hidden
even from one's own introspection.

Those circuits activate so easily
even now.

The lessons of childhood
are not lost.

The lessons of self-censorship
learned so young
so shape a life
that it takes
conscious effort
even
today
to
know
one's
self.

But there is always another side.

One learns how to fit in easily,
one learns how not to anger others,
one learns how to empathize
with those less fortunate.

One can easily hide.

One learns to sublimate one's emotions.

One learns to utilize other paths,
such as musical expression.
One becomes adept at channeling powerful forces
through one's fingers
instead of out one's mouth
or through one's fists.

One fits in well with society.

One becomes adept at introspection,
the only path to self-understanding.

One puts one's intellect to work
and discovers it can be a powerful tool
for expression
through writing.

And so one might ask oneself,
"What's so bad that turns out good?"
or "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

But these glib expressions mask the depth of pain
that still throb
just under the surface
of consciousness.

The conundrum is this:
When does self-introspection
become wallowing?
When does understanding
become self-pity?

This is one of those odd pieces
with which I struggle to assemble
into the puzzle
that
I
am.

2 comments:

obxbill said...

Self censorship is a real problem isn't it. Feeling like you can't say what you really feel because we, of all people, know what it's like to hear those words.

On the inside, I hear a confident person who say's, "screw that! if 'they' can dish it out to me and everyone else, why the fuck do I have to be so careful??"

But then again, are we actually that careless? No, we aren't. The truth is that we care too much.

I've said it to myself on many occasions, "less is more". Maybe that's right, maybe it's not... Anyway, I know that sometimes I've been glad to have bitten my tongue and other times, I wish I had the balls to say what I really think as well as take it into action.

This is, for sure, a difficult piece of the puzzle to work with. I think mostly because it doesn't follow the rules of logic and reason. The piece is too emotional for us to handle.....maybe

RunAwayImagination said...

I think this is one of those "two-edged sword" issues.

A crucial part of self-knowledge for us is to become aware of our tendency to self-censor.

The reason we are able to censor ourselves is that we understand how our words and actions affect others. We also know that many other people are not so self-aware.

Thus, if we so choose, we can use this knowledge to benefit ourselves and others instead of beating ourselves up about it.

It is better that we embrace the positive benefit of self-awareness as opposed to feeling envy toward those less aware and who are able to blurt out their emotions with no regard for others.

I too have found myself in very tense situations where I could have chosen to fight, but instead decided not to. I am troubled by these situations, because a very real part of me wants revenge - wants to beat the crap out of the other guy (and it's always a guy).

But in the long run, it almost never pays to fight. Because words said haste or precipitous actions almost always come back to bite you. I agree with you - in situations like this, less really is more.

There are, however, times to stand up and be counted. However, I like to think through things carefully before I take a stand, and then take my stand unequivocally and without reservation.

An example is the letter I wrote three years ago opposing our invasion of Iraq.

Currently my wife and I are working to oppose the efforts of some of our state legislators to write a ban on same-sex marriage into our state constitution. This would codify discrimination, which to my mind goes against the principles on which this country was founded.

So I think the bottom line is that it's wise to pick your fights.