Private Battles and Secret Triumphs

Last night while watching an episode of the TV series – Midnight Sun – which is a Swedish crime drama with plenty of mystery surrounding every character, and Sami mythology, I was transported both outside of myself into a world I know little about…

I did once spend an evening with a young woman who is Sami, and since I had just seen a documentary about the Sami people, we spoke at length about her culture, their stories, struggles, and her personal experience of being and belonging, and also not belonging because when you belong you also don’t belong. It was one of those precious and treasured moments in life when a person opens themselves up to share with you things which you might never otherwise come upon… and yet find the known within the unknown, parts of your story within theirs even if they are worlds apart.

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and I was also transported within into a world which I often think I know everything there is to know about, but there are always new paths to explore, different ways to see the same things which may then become new things perceived.

One of the thoughts which struck me, was that within every group there inevitably seems to be the need to have a sub-group which is rejected, reviled, and used as the common enemy which keeps others bonded together by a mutual hate (a hate which may be disguised as something else as it becomes a ritual part of the culture, a habit of social interaction, confirming it, justifying it, making it a self-righteous and moral victory over the dark shadows of nature).

This happens inside of us too. Within the grouping of character traits, behaviours, the physical body, and all the rest, things get divided up into those we like and those we don’t (which we often call shadow, darkness…), and the supposedly good side fights the allegedly bad side, rejecting it (sometimes transferring, projecting it onto others, disassociating from it, ostracising it, pretending it isn’t there or has been gotten rid of…), reviling it, hating these shameful aspects of the whole, and this private inner battle with its secret triumphs wages on as we go about our daily life, spilling over here and there from inside to out when an outside event, person, experience, or too much internal combustion, causes the inner and outer worlds to collide.

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In his country, my father was born deep into one of these sub-groups.

I was once at a large luncheon in this country where someone there, a man who was the wealthiest and most successful (by human social standards) by far of anyone else at the table, was born into the same ‘clan’ as my father. Everyone else at the table spent most of the luncheon denigrating him for being part of that sub-group, they all joined in to mock and humiliate him. Considering one of the reputations given to that sub-group which makes them reviled – that they’ll stab you in the back while standing in front of you smiling, you’d think people would be careful about openly dissing and dismissing a person who belongs to it, but maybe that’s part of the fun, to toy with danger and live in spite of stupidity (all humans play this game, and we’re all rather pleased with ourselves when we survive our own stupidity of poking danger with a tiny fragile stick).

This man from the clan-land of my father was obviously used to the behaviour of this particular group of people, he humoured them and their dance of superiority over him, his mouth smiled at them and laughed with them, but his eyes told a different tale – one of the torment of constantly being tormented by a group which will never allow you to belong, and never allow you to forget that you will always be inferior, a misfit, a rejected being, no matter what you do or who your being becomes.

Even if you’re the one person they call on when they need help, the one they rely on to get them out of a hole, the one who is there when no one else is (when their group abandons them), and even if they secretly admire and desire you and what you have achieved, you’ll never be respected or appreciated because of the happenstance of your birth, and the position which your ancestors hold as a sub-group within a group. They need you to be an outcast so that they can be… what their happenstance of birth and ancestry makes them.

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It was surreal in some ways to watch the proceedings at this luncheon – everyone there knew my father was of the same clan as this man, but no one said anything. Did I speak out and own my half-membership? Probably, but my memory only retained the part of this interaction which interested me. Besides if I did speak up this group would not have felt comfortable mocking me the way they did mocking this man because I wasn’t part of their ‘family’ group as he was (groups and sub-groups have groups and sub-groups within them… trust humans to make things even more complex and complicated, and to thrive and survive in those impossibly knotted places). They also were in awe of my father, he had that effect on people.

My father was not a patient man like this man was – if people at a luncheon had done this to him, including his family, my father would have at some point exploded like a volcano, obliterating all those there. Perhaps he had been more patient when younger, but by the time I knew him… he’d had enough. He had a little list of every vulnerable spot of every person he met, and he made sure to let people know that he knew where they did not want to be hit (yes, he did this with me too, and his doing of it started when I was a child – mind games and human chess were our banter and only means of communication). The measure he had of people was uncanny – and it thrilled and terrified with its accuracy.

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My father was an outcast in his own country by birth, and by order of birth (and other things) he was also an outcast in his own family of origin – he was first born and this created a chain reaction of drama (not of his own making, not at first…) which chafed, burned and tormented him. No matter what he did… it was never enough to appease those who judged him from the outside, and those elements of being within which tortured him from the inside.

He passed some of that onto me – as all parents pass onto their children the problems they have not solved.

Which brings me back to the episode of Midnight Sun (yes, I do remember how this post started, and the tangents I’ve taken all lead from it, connect to it, and return to it, back to the beginning…)…

in it there was a Sami shaman who said that since she was a child she had always had this sense of pressure, an intense feeling which she had named – the great torment…

her description of it hit a spot for me…

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excerpt via Huffington Post: How It Really Feels To Have Anxiety And Depression, In One Comic.

Comic by The Awkward Yeti

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reminded me of a sensation which began for me when I too was a child, which is present in my earliest of memories (ones that are mine rather than those told to me about my childhood and child self by others – those ones which we sometimes absorb as our own due to frequent tellings that the mind confuses as a genuine memory but they’re not, they’re just stories people tell about us)…

of a heaviness, a squeezing, an urgency, a loud manic clock ticking, gears grinding away (my earliest nightmares were of gears grinding to a halt due to a fault in the mechanism, cogs missing a link and pain ensuing… all in blancmange pink), being caught between an immovable object and an unstoppable force, in a strong current against which I somehow had to swim, chased by a juggernaut which you can’t outrun but… what if you can!?!

I have no idea if this is what the Sami shaman meant…

it’s probably not as she’s a shaman (albeit an actor playing one) and I’m not, her world is one that is not mine… and yet…all things human belong to all humans and we belong to them (even if we’re constantly separating ourselves and others, creating boundaries, exceptions, and so on in the name of finding our place – which needs to exclude to include…)…

I’ll have to wait for the next episode to find out what happens next, and watch the whole series to see how all of the strings tie together (although if this series follows other series, it’ll leave loose ends and the viewer will never find satisfaction in anything other than complaining that they wasted life-time watching something which didn’t care that they did, about them, about anything other than whatever vision the creators were trying to capture).

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also watched this film last night…

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There are certain things about myself which I rarely tell others…

mostly because the information is irrelevant to everyone but myself (took me awhile to realise this… people really don’t want to know the ins and outs of you, your inner battles, shadow and darkness, and such, unless those things allow them in or shut them out – usually they only notice them when they get shut out by them, then they ‘need to know’ – even if they weren’t all that interested in getting in)…

I try to keep things relevant… I often fail at doing this (as you’ve probably observed if you read my posts…)… within the self everything seems relevant, from the tiniest scrap to the biggest boulder (that you keep rolling up that hill…)…

but also because certain things just never occur to me to tell others about myself…

some of those are because of the generation to which I belong (which didn’t really accept me as a member but I am by default)…

some are because of the conditioning of my formative years, my family way of keeping the real battles private and… while my parents always advertised all triumphs (perceived, false or real), I learned to keep mine secret due to the consequences if I didn’t…

and some things… they’re a part of the fabric of our being, no need to say anything with your mouth as every pore and atom of you says it, they are there for all to see, those who see them see them and those who don’t don’t…

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What say you?

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