I'm sure male readers will groan (my American male ex-friend did anyway) but I like to watch American Topmodel sometimes in order to study human behaviour. I also like the professional team and as an artist and the daughter of two professional photographers I like to follow their work. Anyway, last time all the American girls were picking on a girl whose parents were from France. They thought she was being negative because she was struck with fear and lost sight of her self-confidence for a moment. This was very typical of the kind of bickering that I have been involved with regarding the difference between Americans and Europeans. The French girl said in her defense that she thought she was merely expressing a mild form of realism. It made me smile, since that is how I'd describe my own attitude towards life. There are differences in between the European countries as well, for instance I have perceived the French as quite harsh and negative compared to the British. The Finnish attitude is more of a resigned depressive kind of attitude - a Senecan variety, perhaps. It's not always very healthy and often ends in suicide. However I do feel that if I have a bad day, no one will expect me to put on a forced smile. Discussing the difficult things in life has in general been easier here in Europe than it seems to be in America or online with American people.
Anyway, let me say this: picking on someone in the name of positivity because they are being perceived of as "negative" or something to that effect is not positive! There is also no evidence whatsoever that a society that holds onto what they think is a positive attitude is doing any better than one that has a more cautious approach to reality. In fact I saw a documentary which stated that people who are ever so slightly prone to depression are more diligent and observant workers than those who are overly optimistic. Last winter in the USA I was being indoctrinated about the wonderful ideals that American society rests upon by my ex-friend, and all I could say was that yes, it's all very nice but look at the country now. Right now we can only hope that America will find its way back to those beautiful ideals and overcome the strong dichotomies that seem to rule at the time being. Europe is in any case not doing worse whether we be more "negative" or not.
When I broke up from a relationship at Christmas 2006 I had a need to get back in touch with my spiritual self. During the relationship, I experienced some good things that had been lacking previously. I actually got to do things. Someone was there who took me places, and I had someone with whom to joke and be silly. I've been alone most of my life so this was a very welcome change. Unfortunately it didn't last and so I went looking for the one thing that had been set aside when I was preoccupied with living life out there in the real world. I joined a spiritual site online. It was exciting to dig into my reservoir of spiritual thoughts and exchange with others. It was no longer quite the same though. My thoughts felt a bit stale and rhetorical. The time I had spent living life on a very practical level had left its mark and it was hard for me to feel quite so confident about giving out spiritual advice or whatever it was I was doing. Another thing that happened was that as I stumbled upon other people's beliefs, I became more oppositional. A lot of American style positivity came into my living room and I didn't agree with it. I felt that people who were leaning in that direction were in denial of the shadow side of life. I felt that this was pretty much proven once I became the target of bullies who wanted to convert me to their beliefs and did not respect my right to think and be what I wanted. I had over 80 "friends" who I hardly knew. To me that was pointless. So when the site started to shift and become less intimate and friendly, I packed up and left. Similar things happened on the next site I joined. I stayed for a while, learned a lot about people, and finally left because of bullies and a nagging feeling that I didn't really belong there. After this, a third site called me and I at that particular moment it provided me with some form of comfort. I was a little worried though when no one but the administrator replied to my posts. I suspected that posting was not safe for me. I should have followed my gut feeling because in the end I became the target of a very forceful attack. I had really enjoyed some private conversations with the administrator so I was reluctant to leave, but there was one thing about all this that made me withdraw for good.
The woman who had attacked me was quite the drama queen who said several times she would leave but never did. After a while she posted a lavish, public apology. It was not directed towards me and another person who had been her target, but was more general. She also did say that she had been mislead by other people's egos. Not until the administrator wrote that she forgave this woman did I realize that the administrator acted as some kind of saviour who absolved this woman from her sins. I tried to let it go but I was really disturbed by this incident. Shoot me if I'm wrong but it seemed to me that these people stuck together because they were Americans, and the one who wasn't was not considered a part of the club. A club of mutual admiration, I can't help wondering. Bullies seem to get the upper hand everywhere, don't they? Sometimes you just don't feel like sticking around to see how it goes.
I received a newsletter from that last site today and in my emotionally vulnerable state of mind I found it menacing. It said that God's light is growing stronger with each day but so are the darker oppositional forces. Vulnerable people will succumb to this if they are not careful and will turn away from their deeper soul purpose. This happens either because dark forces are willingly interfering with someone's light work or because someone is susceptible and confused. Why did I feel that these words were directed towards me? Because I feel guilty.
I feel guilty because all this time spent online, I have been indoctrinated about the importance of positive thinking. So many people are rejoicing about the evolutionary shift and stating that you must be the change and so if you join the positive thinkers you will do your duty and help make the shift happen. The more I felt peer pressure to smile and be happy, the more defensive I became. I realized in another context the other day that feeling the acceptance from other people is a prerequisite to feeling positive about life. Or let's just say that it's way harder to remain positive when the support is not there. Here in my confinement these things become painfully obvious. Perhaps I really don't love myself enough or whatever. But putting a knife on my throat is obviously not going to make it happen.
I was told earlier by someone who claims to be a spiritual authority (the one who posted the newsletter today) that my life is a test of spiritual strength. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe my desire to be apologized to is ridiculous and a sign of weakness. Maybe I have lost touch with my higher self. Maybe I have joined the dark forces and am contributing to the sordid state of the world. Maybe I'm a white lamb turned black. Maybe my insomnia is preventing me from evolving spiritually speaking. Maybe, maybe, maybe. What I do know is that I am tired of religions that pretend to be "only" spiritual but still behave just like religious people always have. It's as if some people are scared that if i don't join them, the world will not change for the better. Seems as if they don't have much trust in life and the Universe. Someone bullied me about my need to be self-reliant the other day. I've thought about it a lot, because I always felt very strongly about having my own answers. Being in touch with other people's ideas has nothing to do with that. You read or listen, you reflect, you draw your own conclusions. There is nothing wrong with that. But there is certainly a line somewhere where things you read or hear become sermons on a mission to direct your mind in one way or another. Lectures must be agreed upon by all parties involved. You can even lecture a friend if there is the trust that nobody is trying to be manipulative, only stressing some viewpoints that seem relevant in the context.
I'm a little depressed because I gave my everything last year when I fled to the USA a year ago, and I knew that if I'd have to return, I'd probably have a hard time getting over it. I was right. Yes I am disappointed; I'm living such an anti-climax right now. The person that I put my trust in betrayed it. Of course my life situation is even worse now. I look at the photos from last winter and it hurts. It hurts to know that I was actually getting to do something. It wasn't much, but it was something. It was more than I have now. That's how it feels right now. Can anyone honestly expect me to just snap out of it and be happy? Maybe if I had been able to cut the cords in my own way I would have felt more empowered. The way things went was very detrimental to me and it will be much harder to repair the damage and stop the self-blame that started to nag at me. All I can do is try and stay out of the constellation of positive versus negative. Which is which has become so blurred and confused. And who knows, maybe that's precisely a sign to get people to realize that they are but constructions of the mind.
Human interaction is incredibly complicated. The internet provides with lessons that you may never get out in the real world where people are often more careful about what they say and express. In the real world, the context and the reactions of the other person are more obvious. I'm not saying this pertains to everybody, of course. I do have a longing for more real and substantial things. At the moment I'm confined to the virtual world for impulses and ideas. However, to be confined to that for the rest of my life seems like the cruelest destiny imaginable. But maybe if I am an outcast from the realms of light, then maybe that's all I deserve.
Artwork: "Wintermood", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2008