Identity–things that must be removed

Identity–things that must be removed:
I liked this or did this in hopes of pleasing someone in a shallow way.
I liked this or did this in order to rebel against the first thing I liked in a shallow attempt to assert my individuality.
I continued to like or do the above things out of habit, addiction, etc. long after I stopped doing them for the above two reasons.

Narrative:
Big brother(s) did it, parents didn’t approve of it, I was sad when big brothers left, I did it and tried to do even more of it to get parents attention (to make parents see that bio kid was just as bad as adopted kid and re-unite with adopted kid), after these motivating factors ceased I continued to identify myself as being a rock n’ roll rebel or marginalized from the main crowd.

Do I even like rock music? It’s okay, but it’s not really not that good. Most of it is too simple, obvious and re-hashed from previous decades. Even the Beatles and groups like that sound simple and lacking in depth compared to classical and jazz music.

Do I even like music enough to learn it intimately? I’ve proven that I have no ear or talent for it in order to be nothing more than a casual fan of it.

But, this is just an example of one thing that has directly shaped and defined my identity. Yet, I never got tattoos, I never played music professionally, I never even played in front of an audience beyond rehearsals and talent shows.

I could throw out: writing (except when using it as a tool to help me understand myself better), painting, liking or not liking certain movies, sports, travel, etc., drinking beer, running, hiking, riding my bike, computers, technology, science stuff, etc.

All of these were taken on at some point to impress, please, or rebel.

I can’t really determine how/when I will actually have a few days to myself to put everything on pause and consider who I really am. Life doesn’t work that way when you are married with a three-year-old and a brand new mortgage. You are doing what you need to do to get by during the work week, and dead tired on the weekends–it’s like you’ve given completely of yourself with mind, body and soul and you have nothing left to give back to yourself.

So, I have to steal away minutes here and there to consider these things.

At my core, I am not someone who really needs much of anything. I could spend most of my day in my head, alone, just letting my imagination wander and drift into dreams, being entertained by the weirdness and novelty produced by the subconscious. This I could do in a tent in the woods with minimal provisions.

I am compelled to do and be more only because of a sense of duty to pay forward what was given to me from my parents to someone else. I have a sense of duty about keeping the family line going. This sense of duty is harder and different than the silly people-pleaser whims of my younger years. Those were really more about giving me immediate gratification–I was pleased if someone close to me seemed immediately pleased as well. I had no need to climb a corporate ladder as long as I was pleasing my coworkers. This has boxed me in to being someone who appears to be only fit for service and support roles rather than managerial ones.

But, I am not setting out to change the professional rut I’ve gotten stuck in. I’ve tried that too many times only to be met with failure. That is simply a survival thing that is tied to the above sense of duty. It is my duty to be a decent father and husband, if never a great one who is highly honored and flattered with special attention.

That said, I don’t thing that the sense of hard duty that comes with being a father and husband encompasses or makes up the totality of who I really am. At the end of the day, I crave an identity that is uniquely me, and set apart from my familial roles.

For me, there is also a sense of duty in removing all of the bullshit in me that has accrued from past misguided attempts to please others and be someone I am not. This is far more important than picking up a new hobby and seeing if I like it, and then moving onto another one and another one.

There are bullshit vices and bad habits I don’t need to detail here, that get in the way of me being more focused and productive.

***

Yesterday morning, after writing the above, I smashed our security system control panel out of pure frustration at something taking control over my house. I took personal offense to it. I felt bad afterward, sort of, but I was still mad.

My dreams have been pretty varied and interesting, but I haven’t been inclined to try too hard to remember them and write them down as of late. The reason being that so much dream journaling has never seemed to get me anywhere.

I feel like I need to spend much time focusing, re-focusing on what my core identity must be, and less time latching on to some thing that I will just allow to lead me around by the nose.

In essence, most of my failed attempts to get anything done stem from an unwillingness to improve my self motivation–my proactive output, where I give out of a self-initiated willingness to give and work. I keep trying to find some kind of interest or activity that will engage me because I am so captivated by it.

In other words, I have this weak-willed character flaw that prefers to be led and motivated from the outside. Think of the example of wanting to get into learning mathematics or going to seminary. I was hoping that sheer necessity and compulsion laid upon me by outsiders would keep my momentum of moving forward in play. But, the truth is, unless you are being compelled by the necessity of a paycheck and familial survival, you aren’t going to remain engaged in something unless you yourself keep pushing yourself forward.

It all seems obvious and yet at the same time it subtly is not. It is easy to slide down a slippery slope of going back to your old ways of hoping that variables outside of you will keep you going.

Suddenly, I find myself doing almost nothing at all on weekends. I am not getting myself up off the couch to run, ride a bike or anything else. I continue to write, just because habit dictates that I do. My writing is probably not much different than any other vice or habit. It isn’t usually done out of pure self-motivation.

Keeping my mind in a state of being solely compelled by my own will, and not falling back into a trance, a learned pattern of behavior, an autopilot mode, a willingness to be passively entertained by random thoughts, etc.–it can be exhausting and feel like I am constantly walking on a tight rope.

…into an ongoing nightmare of the ones who control you.

It’s a hard day when you have to repeatedly ask yourself how much of the thoughts inside your head are yours, and how much of the face inside the mirror is you, and how much of the voice you hear speaking to the faces that are responding to your gestures and tics are faces that know who the real you is.

It’s a strange day when you go through the entire day without having had any of this happen inside your head.

You wake up and ignore the mirror. You would just waste time staring in disbelief. You grab something to keep you focused. A box full of old National Geographics that your uncle gave you will do. You read about feats of engineering from the fifties and marvel at things you had no idea man was capable of doing. Where you live, a feat of engineering is learning how to program the DVR.

You read about men traveling to Africa and France. You once went to Disney World when you had a family. You are terrified of leaving the radius of your apartment, the office, the grocery store. Everything and everyone is a menace, and it’s bad enough having to leave your apartment.

You once had a dog, but you forgot to feed him. Same with the cat and plants and fish, and so you don’t have anything or anyone, except the television and these National Geographics. There were some People magazines thrown in–probably your Aunt’s, but you took to enjoying yourself to them too much and decided they had to go.

You are certain that some kind of evil being has traded places with you, and is successfully living in your real body with a beautiful wife out in California. You know that he and his family DO take trips to places like Africa and France, and have lots of friends. These are the people you write about, and you also work on your plan to save your money and go out to California to get your life back. Sometimes you write a letter to your Senator or the President about your situation, but you are pretty sure they are friends with the evil being who traded places with you.

That’s the thing–so many of these people you pass on the street look at you with semi-recognition, mixed with either contempt or condescension. Surely, they are all in on it as well.

You spent eight months in the throes of whiskey. It was a prison you don’t miss. Your constitution just can’t take it, and you were mostly sick and even more paranoid the next day. The only chemicals you take are muscle relaxers you purchase from the kid three floors down.

You love baseball and America, but you are pretty sure the real America has died and gone away.