Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Power of a Vortex

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's below 0F again.  This is not surprising...it is late January and I live in Minnesota.  I can't easily express how much I am looking forward to spring.  It's only about sixty days until the vernal equinox!

The word vortex became a popular word in the media lexicon earlier this month when the polar vortex dropped southward and brought severe cold to much of the United States.  Naturally idiots such as Rush Limbaugh decried the vortex as some sort of liberal conspiracy.  And then of course others were crowing about how winter cold somehow disproves that the planet's climate system is destabilizing due to our continued use of fossil fuels.  Global climate change doesn't imply the end of seasons.  What we are witnessing throughout the world does seem to indicate that the length and timing of seasons will change due to our bad choice of energy policy.  Eventually we as a species might collectively one day wake up to what we are doing...but until that time comes it seems it will be business as usual.  Given my own trauma history and what I know of human history it seems to be a deeply ingrained behavioral flaw that people continue to make poor choices and behave badly until the consequences become so completely intolerable and undeniable that they are forced to choose a different path.

Perhaps I sound judgmental and I concede I probably am a bit judgmental.  I suppose I consider it a 'better' 'sin' than the ones I see so often in others' behavior.  I would prefer to be a bit judgmental as compared to being arrogant, negligent or so ensconced in denial that I could not see the issues I am plagued by.  I've met all too many people who fall into the category of denial.  It's certainly convenient to live in it for a time but wow does it ever hurt when you finally emerge from it.

It has not even been a day since I wrote to some of my father's relatives and disclosed my discomfort regarding unresolved issues in the family.  It will be the last time I do so; I am not pounding my head against the marble-strength walls of denial I believe they live in any more.  It's exhausting and pointless.  It's time for me to grieve and move on with my life.  I will no longer live in my own vortex of confusion.  The confusion I have lived in regarding my own father's behavior simply causes me too much anxiety.  I would rather have the pain of silence that results from making the decision to walk away as compared to the apparently unlimited quantity of drama that could be my reality if I chose to keep interacting with my family in a way that never leaves me feeling good.  I need to choose me.


Last night I had the pleasure of attending a lecture in honor of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I learned more about a colleague of his named Bayard Rustin.  Having learned something of Rustin's history I have to say he is a memorable individual.  He was open about his homosexuality at a time when few dared to be so open about an aspect of themselves which was, at the time, still so poorly understood by medicine and religion.  He had the type of courage usually attributed to the strongest of warriors.  He was a warrior for human dignity.  One of my favorite quotes attributed to him was the following:

“When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”

This is such a fascinating way to address the issue of stigma and marginalization that so many people have faced in the history of the United States of America.  This has been the experience of so many groups including African Americans, Native Americans, the Japanese during World War II, gay people, transgender people and so on.

I also like this quote because I can turn it around a bit and rephrase it:

"When an individual is protesting his family's refusal to acknowledge his concerns, his very act of protest confers dignity on him."

I feel that, in a sense, that is what I am doing regarding my father and my paternal family.  I am 'protesting' the complete avoidance of long existing issues that have impacted me for much of my life.  I am protesting what I see as a willing negligence to ever attend to issues in a healthy way.  I am protesting my sense of feeling completely unseen and unheard.  In that regard my experience in my family has a common theme with the protests of many marginalized groups of people: the experience of feeling invisible and being treated as a non-entity.

This feeling of being invisible was a primary ingredient that led to the ponderous grief I began carrying around with me for so long.  When living true to who I fundamentally am does not result in my needs getting met it's obvious to me that I need to move on and find support somewhere else.  This doesn't mean the process of letting go is easy but it does mean the process is a necessary one...however painful it may be.

The issue of dignity is a seminal one right now in America as well.  It seems dignity, compassion and kindness long went by the wayside in this nation.  Unless I understand correctly we now live in a time when there has never been such a polarization between the wealthy and the poor, between the haves and have-nots as there is now.  To look back through deeper history there is often a consistent thread of inequality serving as a key ingredient in later social unrest and state turmoil.  When the marginalized become many and the well-off become quite few their co-existence side by side becomes a moral dilemma...a moral crisis.  It thus seems we are facing a moral crisis in this nation.  This is my belief.

So what does this have to do with my own particular trauma and the theme of trauma in general?  I will respond in this way.  How can one heal and be happy when so many of his fellow citizens are suffering and destitute?  How can I complete my own healing process and feel good about my own life if all the while I am seeing what appears to be a growing mass of suffering all around me?  With more and more people pushed to the margins in this society what must happen for the process to reverse itself?  Do we need trauma on a state scale as made manifest in social unrest and protest?

I find myself feeling increasingly uneasy about the lack of real attention being paid to our very real problems in this nation.


So being a meteorology geek (I obtained my undergraduate degree in meteorology) I decided to look at the latest weather discussions for some ray of hope that the dreaded polar vortex will grant us a reprieve some time soon.  No such luck apparently.  It appears the pattern we have been locked in since early December may persist into the middle of February.  Yikes.  Subzero cold has been observed here in Minneapolis in March so bracing cold is certainly not atypical even after the official start of Spring as marked by the vernal equinox.  I'll have to make sure I keep myself busy so I don't too distracted waiting for spring to begin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!