oppression: suppression of expression

March 14th, 2012

Oppression, suppression, repression, compression, depression:  what do these words have in common?  Pressure.

Oppression, suppression and repression are words we often hear in conjunction with descriptions of frightening-sounding national regimes.  When we think of Oppression, images of dictators:  Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao come to mind.  Along with images of these come images of civilian mass murder at truly mind-staggering levels:  attempted schemes and dreams of carting the entire race of Jews off to the gas chamber, for example.  In China, colossal, truly bedlamic upheaval in every city and town as households were violated, upended and searched; people dragged into the street to be degraded and violated and abused, (by the new daily increasing army of young devotees) dragged off.  Thirty million Chinese citizens murdered in the Cultural Revolution; seventeen million Russian citizens murdered under Stalin.  We think of Mao and Hitler brainwashing little children ’til they came home one day, with newly formulated and minted little all-alike minds, squinting knowing little eyes and pointing knowing little fingers at “Enemies of the State”; just a day ago,  beloved parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Expression has ‘pression’ or ‘pressure’ as its root as well, but unlike the other words, its meaning runs contrary.  The prefix ‘ex’ means ‘out’ or ‘out of’ and when we think of expression, we think of pressure being released.  Express means something comes out. Repress and Suppress mean something is kept in.  Oppress takes two; somebody is basically not allowing somebody else to express; somebody is curtailing somebody else’s ability to express; somebody doesn’t want somebody else to be free.

coming into her own

February 12th, 2012

lately, when at a social gathering, I’m more interested — for the first time since pre-puberty, in listening to women express themselves — tell their stories, than in flirting with men.  In fact, I’m beginning to realize and acknowledge to myself, that ever since pre-puberty, when I first felt the power of my own man-appeal, I’ve been caught up unwittingly in my own machinations and manipulations.  The game is indeed, a kind of power game and I hadn’t bored or tired of it in 35 years.  At least I hadn’t bored or tired of it enough to retire and move on to other games.

Like everyone else, I had no hand in my own initial creation.  But beginning at the age of maybe 10, boys reacted to me.  I remember, around that age, looking myself over in my parent’s full-length bedroom mirror.  I was wearing tiny, blue and white-checkered shorts (hot-pants) and a white t-shirt.  My mom, a modest Catholic, who although very pretty herself, never boosted her 5 daughters’ self-images, said behind me, unthinkingly, “you have sexy legs.” I never forgot this, because my mom was much better at dishing out darting criticisms than at complimenting–and ‘sexy’ was a word I heard her use only that once — “stand up straight”!, was typical, or “that rouge makes you look like Mary Poppins”!  Her eyes tended to look out at me quizzically and critically, not admiringly. My father, on the other hand,  looked at me with fondness and admiration.

At that tender young age, I left my former childhood self behind and entered this social game-world, always finding my interest piqued by the feeling and experience of the male attraction to me.  In the case of any boy who had become conquerer, who had maybe achieved placing a dime-store ring on my finger — the boy who had gained ‘possession’, who had claimed me for his own; here was a broken heart in the making.

As I grew a little older leaving high school and a handful of broken hearts behind, I began to evolve into ‘adult’ thinking, wherein one was expected to desire to become half of a committed couple, maybe for life.  Past experience had already shaped my impressions and opinions of males in general:  they were clearly victims of their own desires and blind to anything beyond that —  and hence they were very easy to manipulate — they were deeply and blindly possessive so that when this thing they’d laid claim to behaved independently, they could easily totally implode.

And what was in this game for me!?  Really!

Just as possessiveness and dependency seems to be the weakness that characterizes males; the longing for admiration, adoration and devotion seems to be the weakness that characterizes females.  So there is mutuality and compatibility in the male/female attraction wherein each needs and feeds on what the other naturally exudes and naturally desires.

A few years ago, I had two nuclear fallouts on my hands simultaneously.  My husband, with whom I’d shared 15 years of steadily increasing unhappiness and lovelessness, had reacted to the discovery of my infidelity with life-threatening anger which didn’t pass over like a spring thunderstorm, but which settled in like winter in the North Pole… never to lift again.  The boyfriend, whose humor and wily boyishness I initially adored, also had a reserve of stored anger which, rather than settle in permanently, had a habit of sparking to life all of a sudden transforming him from adorable sprite to demon in the snap of a finger.  Swallowed entirely by his red-hot fury, he would lose all semblance of self-control.  I was the target of the wrath — a deadly game, which having learned from previous experience, I knew to completely and totally exit, no matter what.

I looked sidewise at both of them, two men imploding.  I could feel hellish craving emanating from each one, that same kind of demonic possession; the consuming compulsion to grab me by the neck and squeeze the bejesus out of my life or knife me to death, plunging all their frustrations and anger in me over and over and over ’til spent. Meanwhile, I looked on; the war, the hell and the sickness inside of me too, but in a different form.  I coldly lacked any willingness to placate or to submit or to be that ‘thing’ anymore, for either one of them, or for any other man; that thing they appeared to be literally dying to kill for.  I was done.

 

 

 

collusion and conspiracy

January 24th, 2012

When an adult stays with her* abusive partner, in awareness that the relationship is destructive and that the limitations of her partner’s emotional control, ability to be objective, respectful and non-violent are plainly deeply problematic and painful; there enters into the relationship an element of collusion.  In the case of children, the situation is different.  Children are trapped, just like an animal in a cage, or a person in a prison cell.  Children have neither the maturity nor the independence, support or resources to flee, to seek help, to try to leave.  One of the biggest problem the adult woman faces, however, is the threat that she will be more seriously harmed if in fact she tries to escape or to stand up for herself.  Another problem the woman faces, is the lack of support outside her relationship.  If she has any family support, she’s lucky.  The society offers some support — ‘battered woman’s shelter’ — even the name of which, seems to hold condescension and judgment.  A newer term is ‘domestic violence shelter’ which is, of course, a big improvement.  A woman doesn’t like to think of herself as having become what she has in fact become:  helpless and pathetic.

Still, the woman compromises herself and her integrity when she doesn’t escape, and I believe she knows it on some level.  She will rationalize this in her mind.  Probably the biggest hurdle and conundrum for her is love.  They love each other and probably have nothing else to depend on for this support.  Our society hasn’t exactly been one big loving family ready to assist all our brothers and sisters in their moments of need; rather, we are quite isolated in our houses and apartments and if there are millions on the streets without homes, millions in inner city squalor and crime; well most of us are busy trying to survive and pay our gas bill while the rich certainly seem to have other things on their plates, such as trying to maintain their status at any cost.

A further problem for the woman is her own inner strength.  Most women even today, don’t have the kind of inner strength it takes to escape, to deal with the harrassment, stalking, threats or worse — sometimes much worse, violence and then beyond that, to have to start all over again, from square one, on her own.  The difficulty is compounded if she is married, if she is financially dependent, if there are children — or any combination thereof.

But I’m straying.

What I originally had in mind is this.  Even with all the formidable obstacles a woman faces when living with or staying with an abusive partner — in regard to leaving; if she is aware of the inherent hell and wrongness that she is living in — and she does become aware of this at some point — then in staying with her partner, there is an element of collusion, of conspiracy.

What do I mean?

I mean, she’s feeding the devil.

Until and unless she breaks free, beyond the immediate torturous situation of a life filled with ongoing emotional and/or physical pain, she is actually feeding into the abuse.  ’Codependency’ is the byword for this.

And now, similarly, think about a citizenry who is aware that their government is abusive, violent, menacing, deceitful and maybe even evil.  Which of course, many many governments — probably by far the majority — over history have been or have become.  If a citizen becomes aware that their government is abusive, violent, deceitful — how is that any different than a woman who is in an abusive partnership, realizes it and doesn’t rise up, doesn’t escape, doesn’t object, doesn’t insist on something good for herself, for the kids, for society, for the world and even for that man whom she loves and who himself is simply tormented?

Is war ok?  Is it really ok to kill people; men women children, just like you and me and our kids!!  our children…. when it isn’t in self-defense?  Is it ok to frighten them, to destroy their homes and their towns and cities and workplaces?  Is it ok to assassinate people?  What happened to the idea of arrest and fair trial?

Recently a young girl living with her baby in a trailer home, shot and killed a very large menacing man who busted his way into her home.  She called 911 first to ask if she could defend herself.  They hemmed and hawed, not wanting to advise murder, even in this case.

One problem in regard to government is that to the citizenry, they are a father figure.  Most people have hearts — even abusive and abused people, by and large — and they project their own hearts and sensitivity onto others and onto their government.  Sometimes it is hard for them to see that their own government’s behavior is heartless, cruel and potentially even evil.  I think this was the deeper problem in Nazi Germany.  Sometimes it isn’t obvious to people until their own loved one is treated abusively or until they themselves are treated abusively.

* using ‘her’ although sometimes it is a ‘him’

Control

January 13th, 2012

It all boils down to one thing really.

Control.

You will discover, in every single case of misery, whether the misery is found in the child, the spouse, the group, the business or enterprise, the institution or the nation; somebody is over-controlling somebody else, unnecessarily may I add.

Being overcontrolling is a human tendency.  We don’t see other living things in nature suffering and making others miserable on account of individual animals or plants exercising dominance due to feeling threatened or envious or lacking or fearful about living or having enough — or trying to maintain prestige!

To some extent this human tendency to be dominating and to be in control, seems to be related to our fear of death.  It seems to me that our awareness of imminent death coupled with our feeling that we will then be totally annhilated coupled with our own evolutionary, hard to argue with feeling that we alone inhabit our body and therefore it is ‘me against the world’, all combine to make us feel threatened in general.  And it’s not a surfacy feeling, the roots of insecurity go deep.

By contrast, through spiritual work such as meditation, the fear of death can be eased and even overcome.  When a person accepts and lives in awareness of, the truly short-lived, temporal nature of Everything, including us! and the person also lives in awareness of the beauty of Everything, including us! and the person also comes to realize the magical nature of Love, permeating Everything!, thru the awareness of which, the ugliness of fear and behavior which is generated from fear also become more apparent – when a person gains that ‘spiritual’ perspective, the need to control anything at all dwindles and finally disappears.

Control and Power go hand in hand of course.  Together, they create misery.  Whether control & power are exercised in the home, in the group, in the nation, or in the world they generate misery.  Nobody benefits.  The Controller is operating out of a need to feel powerful, to feel ‘in control’, to preserve its own prestige (standing or estimation in the eyes of people).  Whoever is on the receiving end is miserable on a scale that can range from discomfort to torture.

When we look at contemporary world history, the story of US, we see one group after the next exercising force to gain power and control over some other group.  Even though in our individual hearts, we generally believe killing is wrong, we see nothing but killing on a scale that increases over time.  One has to wonder, what’s wrong with US?

I venture to say, because we humans are in the perceived vulnerable position of being extremely temporal, like a flame; while simultaneously perceiving ourselves to be All, that to die is to be extinguished, we feel Terrified.  On all sides there is the lurking unknown abyss; mysterious infinite outer space above and below,  inside, infinite inner space, unknown.

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