Greeting and glad tidings to Jen, and a cornucopia of thank yous for taking the plunge into my challenge (go here if you want to know more about the challenge), for joining in the fun, and for asking this question:
“You’ve said somewhere recently that you’re a hermit. I’m curious if you feel that is something to overcome or not? I’m not sure exactly how to phrase this question. Generally I’ve seen a more negative stance towards someone being a hermit than positive, so I wonder what your thoughts are on the subject as a self-identified hermit.”
I love this!!!
It is the sort of question which stirs my soul, is close to my heart, is marrow in my bones, and which my mind loves to ask as life has asked it of me repeatedly in one form or another, and the mind tends to get things which repeat stuck in its labyrinth, trying to figure them out like puzzles, perhaps just to exorcise these things which haunt it.
I’m not sure if I’ve found an answer to this puzzle. There are plenty of answers to any question, but are they really answers or more questions in disguise, excuses, reasons, or… tangents, detours, and ways and means to wander forever lost.
So… the hermit. Where do I begin with this riddle?
Why do I see myself as a hermit? Why am I a self-identified hermit?
Am I really a hermit or am I just saying that for some complicated human psyche reason, or is it an ego thingy?
Recently in a post I made the claim – I’m not just shy, not just an introvert, I’m a hermit. When I wrote those words I truly felt them, but afterwards I cringed at them, because the statement sounded pretentious. I can be very pretentious, usually it’s a defensive mechanism, I feel vulnerable and under attack so I get on a high horse… and eventually it bucks, I fall off, get kicked in the head, but for a fraction of a moment I’m safe and have time to assess from a distance.
Having time to assess, pause for thought, reflect, self-reflect, etc, is important for me. In that fraction of a moment I can quickly ask – Is the situation what I think it is or is it something else? Is this person who I think they are or are they someone else? WTF is really going on? This can make the difference between me going to war with someone or making peace with them. I can be rash, when what I’d like to be is rational. I want to ask questions before I shoot… although sometimes I should just shoot and ask questions later. Both tactics have their flaws… and consequences.
Which side of regret is the right one to be on?
So, why don’t I just settle for being shy or an introvert?
Well, part of that can be answered by some aspects associated with Introversion which just don’t fit me. I read a psychology article, actually more than one (hence no links… well, no links because I didn’t bookmark them and can’t find them now), which was challenging the perception of Introversion that has become popular online. Apparently all of us who think we’re introverts are wrong about what we think Introversion is… so… so I decided to steer clear of this label as I’m confused enough as it is.
Shyness, as a label, fits me better, is one I’ve worn for a long time… but I’m not actually timid on the inside. This wallflower at the party sometimes has fantasies of being Carrie at the Prom. Leave me alone… and I’ll leave you alone. Bother me when I want to be left alone (nod to Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel)… and you’re entering a world of pain (nod to John Goodman in The Big Lebowski) brought on yourself by you, don’t blame me for it, use me to hurt yourself, although some of the fault may be mine… but you messed with me when I told you not to do it, and said it, warned you, more than once in more than one way – you refused to listen.
I know, that sounds a bit extreme, and I’m too lazy to be that negatively pro-active. I wouldn’t do it even if I was less lazy, but I do sometimes think it. Mind ain’t as lazy as body.
I like company, and welcome it… but a certain type of company which isn’t of the mind-control, body-snatching, soul-stealing, emotional leech kind. Which is often asking too much…
The archetype of the Hermit is one I came across when I was quite young. It appealed to me in the same way that we imagine it will be like when you meet a soulmate.
In the Hermit, I found myself. I have many snapshots of me as a hermit in my mind’s eye, my photo album of memory (it can be faulty, but… that doesn’t mean it is wrong).
My favourite TV shows, cartoons, films, all featured a character who was a hermit, and that character was the one with whom I identified. Later on when I was exploring the vast world of literature, again my favourite characters, with whom I bonded, were all hermits. When I delved into philosophies… Hermeticism called to me the most, although there were too many rules, a hierarchy and a ‘society’ which sounded like it wasn’t a hermit’s home at all.
My longing as a child was to be alone because alone was pleasure, and company was a pain of one sort or another.
I was often required to live a double life as a child, and criticised either way by hypocrites, liars… adults. These very same adults punished me for lying, I wasn’t supposed to lie, not to them anyway, even if they lied to me. Be respectful to the disrespectful. But I was supposed to lie when they wanted me to lie, to them or others, and to myself about them and others.
The adults in my early environment hated socialising, but did it anyway, claiming they loved it while stabbing it with hate behind its back. They expected me to do as they did, unless it bothered them. If I looked pained, I was told to wipe the pain off of my face because it was rude. But I had to listen to and witness their pain about doing it, and somehow be unaffected by it… unless they needed me to be affected by it, but only on their terms and conditions.
Shortly before I’d be once again dragged to an adult party, I listened to the bitching, whining and horrors which spewed from the mouths of the adults taking me to the party about their hosts and those attending. We’d get there and everyone would pretend it was a love fest at the love shack. I was expected to support the pretense… yet not be pretentious, unless this was what was needed from me.
Adults love a precocious child when it feeds their ego, makes them feel pride in themselves, says what they can’t say but it can because it’s a child and makes them chuckle… good monkey… until they hate the child for being that way because it bursts their ego bubble… bad monkey.
There is always a fine line between negative and positive, one which keeps moving, is squiggly and erratic because people use broken rulers – rulers they broke or bent to make their version of reality draw irregular shapes which they then tell you are the norm and totally regular.
My godfather, whom I was supposed to call Uncle, was openly gay at a time when this was quite radical and not always a good thing for the most part in society. I knew he was gay, I knew what that meant, it seemed fine to me. I was a child, accepting things is easy for a child as they are open-minded. He was a child psychologist… who was shocked to the point of terror when he realised that I knew he was gay and what that meant. Adults! What a mess of complications they create for themselves and then pass on to others!
He was one of the many adults who made me feel bad about being a natural hermit, often at the behest of my parents (who, it has to be noted, often got him to mess with me because they were messing with him and me, because that’s what they did to distract themselves from their own shit). Was I supposed to feel bad about my natural self because he felt bad about his natural self, due to someone else making him feel bad about it? Is that the game?
He was always berating me for avoiding other children. He forced other children upon me in an effort to make bad better. What he didn’t take into account was (pretty much everything about everyone else) that my parents would not allow me to socialise with other children, even if they pretended that this was their wish for me. His ability to be blindsided by them was without limits… due to his own fear and the power he gave them because of his fear, transferred. And stuff like that which adults do.
If I wasn’t born a hermit, my parents and other adults certainly nurtured it into me… often by trying to nurture it out of me in a non-nurturing manner.
You see… I was a child of narcissists, surrounded by their acolytes, so even if I was scum to them, I was still more precious and special than other children (as an extension of them, not because I was special or precious in my own right – you learn this quickly, it’s not about you, you are not about you, you are about them), and so I had to be kept isolated. Or some bullshit like that.
With narcissists, you are always wrong, no matter what you do, even if you do exactly what they tell you to do. And it’s not just your narcissist parents who teach you that, no, it is pummelled into you by their acolytes, and those who don’t even know them. Society wants you to be putty in its hands. To be who it wants you to be for it… to be what it wants to be. Your shape has to complement it, make it feel right about itself even if you have to feel wrong about yourself to do that.
Why does society do this? Because it was done to those who make up what we call society. Society is us, even when we think it is others. Therefore what was done to us, we do it to others, even when we try desperately not to do it… that wound is hard wired into us, and hard to not pass on.
Even if you do the hermit thing.
Just today I got a comment on one of my narcissism posts – When Narcissists Claim to be Victims of Narcissists – Who is the Narcissist? – which told me that I was not allowed to let others decide if I was a narcissist or not. Apparently I’m supposed to tell you that I am a narcissist or that I am not a narcissist, and you’re supposed to accept what I tell you. If I insist on letting you think for yourselves, make your own decisions, determinations, and question me… I should cease to exist online.
Or something like that… You can read the comment, it’s been approved, I just haven’t answered it yet because I’m in rash mode about this at the moment, I need time to be rational about it. I need to assess, remember that people lash out at others when they’re in pain, and don’t realise they’re causing the pain they’re feeling… or do they realise it and that’s why they’re sharing it?
As a friend of mine often replies to human created conundrums like this – Rightio! – I love this friend for it! Wish I was that cool!
Things like this make me want to retreat further and further away from the world of people (but then again there are people like Jen, who make me move in the opposite direction). It encourages the hermit in me to be a hermit, even when the hermit might think that being that way is probably not as good as it feels.
Takes me back to my childhood, my child self… trying to do and be who I naturally wasn’t inclined to be and do because I was told that overcoming your natural tendencies was what you were supposed to do (mostly though to serve others). Every time I emerged from my shell, I would end up wishing I hadn’t bothered.
Too sensitive, perhaps… not insensitive enough, definitely.
You can’t stay in your shell forever… I tried to test this out but my shell was always being invaded by people telling me to get out of it (from the safety of their shells).
Makes me chuckle sometimes… with that laugh of pain lived over and over. People telling you who to be while they are not who they’re telling you to be, and they aren’t even trying to live up to their hypocrisy, they’re just foisting it upon you.
I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I’m introduced to one,
I wish I thought “What Jolly Fun!”
– Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh
We all wish many things, especially of ourselves… but why?
When faced with any issue pertaining to yourself, especially if it is a natural thing which you have been told is wrong by others (perhaps because they have forsaken their own nature or because it is in their nature to make you forsake your nature), ask yourself if their version of positive is actually as positive as they say it is, and if their version of negative is as negative as they say it is. Make sure their right and wrong is in tune with your version of those things.
Is that a negative or a positive? A good thing or a bad thing?
See what I did there…?
TBH (to be honest, as any human can be…) I almost missed what I did there, except… I have dyslexia and coping mechanisms which go with something others view as a disability, a bad thing, a negative, whatever… and I tend to compulsively check everything I say and do, and sometimes notice things (illusions?) because of the dyslexia induced OCD of sorts.
I seem to have Freudian slipped in a way and associated a negative with a good thing, and a positive with a bad thing. Don’t worry if you don’t get it… I grew up in mind f*** land, where everything good is bad, every bad is good, everything negative becomes positive and everything positive becomes negative… and your mind ends up screaming trying to make sense of nonsense.
Somewhere inside of all the crazy is a nugget of a core of a smidgeon of a natural quirk and quark – is it charm, down, up, or strange?
(you might want to turn your volume down for this song… it grates a bit)
There are times when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.
– Supertramp, The Logical Song
No need to tell me who I am, I know who I am… I’m someone who is done with being told who I am by those who don’t know who they are.
Know what I’ve found… tell people who you are enough times, with a certain confidence about it, and they’ll start repeating that back to you, believing it about you, because they don’t question others in a caring manner. They only question you when it bothers them and who they’re trying to be…
Tell people you’re a hermit enough times and they’ll leave you alone because… they don’t know what do to with that, right or wrong, negative or positive… and a part of them kind of likes that about you, because a part of them is a hermit too.
Something like that… over to you!