Existential Questions

Have you ever noticed that the most difficult emotion to express is the emotion that is most opposite to your strength? I have a willful personality. Giving up is not a part of who I am. If it was, I probably would not be here today. So when the feeling of futility hits me, it knocks me down, leaving me paralyzed, unable to reconcile between that old victim self and my pure version of self.

That victim self loves to steer my mind in an existential direction. Why am I here? This isn’t different than most people. I think we all wonder why we are here. The existential debate will live on as long as there are people roaming the Earth. That being said, I think the confusion runs a little deeper when we have a childhood of trauma. It can lead to some pretty extreme interpretations. My father, who undoubtedly had a lifetime of trauma, was a staunch atheist. There is nothing wrong with that. But I remember thinking, “He better hope there isn’t a God. Otherwise, he’s in trouble.”

While my questions can run deep, I also wonder about everyday life. Why do I continue to run on this hamster wheel of life? Why do I repeat the same thing every day in my own personal version of the Groundhog Day movie? Why am I making so many attempts to live a better life? Is it working? But more importantly, why bother? Am I really making any difference at all? What is the point in going bowling? What is the point in cleaning the bathroom? What is the point in waking up every morning and pushing forward? What is the point in writing one more article about trauma? What is the point in answering one more email?

I think these questions stem from a deeper traumatized place within me. When I was a child, I used my will power to fight back. I made plans. I fought hard to be perceived as normal. I worked hard to excel at school and work despite my heavy dissociative defense mechanisms making it hard to function. Over and over, I came close to finding a purpose for living, a purpose that was grounded in our society’s standards. But each time, I was thwarted.

It could have been a bully that embarrassed me in front of the people I was trying to impress. It could have been a missed goal because my trauma got the best of me on the wrong day, a day that counted, and I could not perform up to par. It could have been my family working behind the scenes to guarantee a failure, limiting my confidence and making me easier to control. But one way or another, it always seemed to happen.

The Past Runs Deep

And now that I am an adult, and have much more control of my life, I sometimes feel as though I am not. I struggle with the futility of trying to reach a difficult goal. I struggle to believe that I could pull off a dream. I struggle to see how I could do it, how it could be possible. And I don’t struggle because I am not capable. I struggle because my efforts never worked before. My efforts always ended in disappointment. And that part of me born out of trauma is absolutely convinced that failure is inevitable. Even when all the logic points to success, the questions remain:

When have you succeeded before?

When have your efforts paid off?

Why is this any different?

And I try to explain to the victim self this time is different. This time, I am aligned with the higher good. I am on a path of truth, trust and courage that is directly connected to higher self’s striving. This is different because it is not about will. It is not about lies. It is not about supporting my mask of normalcy. It is not about protecting evil. It is about the truth.

But that part is not easily convinced. That part sees this latest endeavor as a logical extension of the rest of my life. And it can be hard to argue with that opinion. It is often true that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. But this is different. I am on a path. And my ego self is not in the driver’s seat. And neither is that victim part. This is the part where trust must take over.

And the only way to trust is to put the past behind me.