I used to believe that most of my hunger was not REAL hunger. I thought my hunger was (based on my necessary-for-a-time yet distorted way of thinking) a product of my imagination. That false belief about reality—about my REAL hunger—was based on *social truths* that I had heard so many times…well, hell, they just HAD TO BE true.
Because, otherwise, it meant I was living in a sick cruel world whose constant and most authoritative discourses (medical, academic, psychological, journalistic, etc) TOLD ME falsehoods and distortions about my life and my shared existence with all other humans.
That, that terrifying possibility just described, was more painful to consider and believe than my belief (and my eventual *trust*) in my own apparent *pathology*—my own so-called sickness, my so-called weakness, my self harming ways, my lack of knowledge, my…my own BADNESS.
Yes. Far less painful for me to accept my own personal *badness* and my unearned but very real feelings of profound SHAME, deep in my core being, than to consider the former possibility about my culture… and all its horrifying implications…about the world I was born into, and was struggling to survive in—a world gone mad. A world where the words of our highest “authorities” could not be trusted to provide for my best interests—could in fact be trusted to harm my personhood and my relationships with Self and all others.
The official cultural story lines, which I’d been fed and had swallowed as “sustenance” since I learned to use language, thus from my earliest months and years of life, were harmful and destructive and, yes, false.
Try to be a child and make that leap to emancipation—and, chances are, the child will be making that leap alone. The child will, also, be making that leap into an existence of isolation, scorn, ridicule, punishment, torment and constant correction for maintaining such “stupid ideas” or for believing “grossly exaggerated lies” or for “living in a self contained emotional world of crippling psychological fantasy” or for—simply—being “BAD.”
Yes. The constant, unsubtle, yet NEVER SPOKEN DIRECTLY ALOUD refrain:
come, COME NOW!, each minute, and join with the consensus reality—or you will be made to suffer every day of your life for refusing to believe what “normal” people believe, for questioning authority, for seeing vast human suffering and for recognizing the sources of that suffering when so few you will encounter can envision that suffering for what it is—social injustice, cruelty, distorted language, domination—and when so very very few will seem to give a moment’s concern for the harm you see all around you.
Oh, and that condition of existence, that so-called option between DENYING your lived experiences, denying what you are seeing (hearing, feeling, knowing), denying all that your own lived experiences teach you each day and living with almost constant confusion, a kind of “I must be crazy” feeling, a kind of endless cognitive dissonance that your culture says is “normal life” and that your dominant culture *rewards you for* finding some way to tolerate and endure it all while keeping your mouth shut (those *perks* it gives when you go along and you don’t complain while you’re getting screwed) and then there’s that OTHER option…
struggling to face the truth of your own LIVED EXPERIENCES and struggling to believe that your lived experiences are REAL and meaningful and valuable yet (as the cost your culture demands) being an unwilling victim or (at the least) a target for torment and ridicule and punishment—
THAT twin offering from your culture between two untenable OPTIONS is supposedly a matter of FREE CHOICE.
Yes. It is easy to understand why I believed my hunger, my NEED to eat, was not “real”. It had to be my shameful problem, my emotional fucked-up-ness, because EVERYBODY KNEW that “real” hunger does not produce a body which, eventually, weighs 320 pounds. Oh. That was obvious to all authorities, who all went to prestigious and science-based higher academies of learning.
And that false belief, that false consensus….fuck, what a HUGE source of power, and status, and prestige, and life-long material wealth, and security—produced for those authority figures through that ONE single, solitary, piece of utter bull shit. There’s REAL hunger. And *of course* there’s the other hunger (false, pathological, in need of treatment, bad kind).
When the world around you views through a distorted lens like that, and you are a child or a young adult or even a full fledged grown-up person trying to get by without appearing crazy and without being the target of fear, anger, and…yes, even hate…then the so-called CHOICE isn’t much of a CHOICE. Is it?
Which do you prefer, dear friend, poison or poison?
That was the choice.
And then. One day. Somehow. In spite of all the years of (mountains of) bull shit passing as TRUTH…
Other options appear on the distant horizon.
Potential freedom from feeling crazy and alone and wrong and BAD.
Like I’ve said before, it isn’t an easy choice. It isn’t a simple choice. It may seem like that later, looking back, but in the moments before (or the days, months, years, and decades before)—before taking that leap of hope into an unknown life, and unknown world, it seems unendurably monumental and (in my own case) terrifying.
If you can take that leap while joining hands and minds (and while linking your heart with other hearts)—together in solidarity and mutual aid and love—with others who share your lived reality, your LIVED EXPERIENCES, and your vision for a world that is much less distorted and damaged by shared false beliefs…then, at last, it becomes a kind of CHOICE.
I understand now that my hunger was always REAL. It was no less real, no less essential, and no less valuable to my existence than the hunger of an infant for her mother’s milk or for ANY filling source of nourishment.
That nourishment and essential sustenance is what I believed that NEEDED to be controlled and discounted and denied and dominated. Who else was going to carry out that supposedly critical task if not I, me, myself—as a *CRUCIAL* part of my psychological *adjustment* and advancement towards *maturity* and better *health* and superior *SELF LOVE*?
Who else would do that demanding, time-consuming, soul-draining, life-sucking, spirit-crushing —yet somehow “noble”—work?
Of course, when you even half-assedly achieve the tiniest *success* towards achieving that idealized and socially prized—even worshiped—*accomplishment*, you are supposed to feel PROUD and good (with higher “self esteem”). Etc.
And if your own lived experiences do not match up with those “self-evident” social “truths”?
Your lived experience must be wrong. Your perceptions must be distorted. You must be crazy.
That is what our dominant cultural discourses tell us, or SCREAM AT US at times, often, or maybe every waking minute of every day, and even in our sleep while we dream we feel the domination pushing us back, keeping our legs from moving when we try to run for safety, leaving no branch to grab hold of when we’re falling off the cliff in our nightmares…if we never take that leap toward the frightening and unknown lifeworld, toward the existence we are warned against by “authorities” and by cultural myths, and by all manner of dominant discourses…we keep suffering. We doubt our own lived experiences. We deny our own feelings, perceptions, recognitions…
But. It’s not inevitable. That fate is NOT just “the way life is, the world we must live with, the social reality we must adapt to and learn to get along in”…
We don’t have to participate any more in our own domination. Not like before, not with self blame and shame and self doubt. When we are forced by impossible, cruel, equally untenable and harmful options from which to “choose”, we can recognize that our oppression is socially constructed, undeserved, immoral, and tragic. We don’t have to believe—or feel crazy as a result of that belief—that somehow we MUST HAVE caused our own pain and suffering.
No more. We don’t have to keep believing the cultural lies that insist: YOU MUST BE HELD responsible for causing your own feelings of despair and loneliness and torment.
That is pure bull shit…whether it comes from a preacher or a medical doctor…or a new age guru getting paid big bucks to push the dominant discourses as far as they can go. (Almost always in the name of “compassion” or “love” or “enlightened self interest” or “freeing your mind by visualizing the positive” or by using better “strategies for improved self esteem”… )
…yeah, in other words, we’re told over and over again that we will find “personal” freedom through more social control, more domination, more blaming of self or blaming of other individuals or blaming of groups (socially constructed categories) of people living among us…
We are supposed to figure out, and successfully achieve, the transformation of our SELVES into something very different from almost EVERYTHING that our own lived experiences SHOW us we need, to be whole and authentic and filled with hope.
Be yourself! Just be a completely different version of your self. (We laugh at this popular joke, but do we grasp its implications?)
We don’t have to try any longer—expending our precious life’s energy and sacrificing our lives on the *holy* funeral pyre of cultural deadness inside—to be someone else.
Hope is possible. Freedom is possible.
Together we can create both of those essential lifeworld values. We can live within them, now. Together.
Our socially-constructed fears of, disrespect for, and demanded domination over—HUNGER and more, OUR OWN HUMAN BODIES—fear and disrespect and domination which we are all *supposed to KNOW* represent our very best moral options for choice—
these former *values* and *ideals* and *essential efforts* become the burdens that we can at last abandon—together—and never look back towards in regret…
for that past painful existence is not now, and never was, our REAL human purpose for living.
We get to discover, now—actually, we have a chance to create and to co-create—the meaning of our existence when our existence no longer demands that we sacrifice and DENY our deepest meaning and values, our own LIVED EXPERIENCES, to a culture of domination and inhumanity.
Oh. Oh. Oh.
And. Oh hell yes.
My hunger is real. Always was.
My lived experiences are real and valuable and precious. When they seem to conflict with the experiences that my world keeps demanding that I should be experiencing, I can smile and know I’m still alive, I’m still seeing my lifeworld with the critical lenses I need close at hand, always, to show me which options for choice are possible—all the options that my culture and that the dominant social discourses INSIST are figments of my imagination, silly dreams, dangerous falsehoods…
I can smile at all these supposedly SERIOUS and CRUCIAL stories about the *WAY THINGS REALLY ARE, IN REALITY, IN REAL LIFE*… (just not *real* apparently in my lived experiences).
I can smile. Now.
I can laugh.
Yeah. I promise. It’s safe to laugh. Freely. Openly. And there are so many absurdities worthy of my laughter, and yours.
Come on. Whenever you feel that irrepressible urge bubbling up through your very REAL lived experience…let it out.
Laugh with the thrill of being alive, of being real.
You are not crazy. Your laughter is not silly.
Your laughter can become one more thing to cherish and love about your existence. The social prerequisites for culturally-approved forms of laughter—snark, or superiority, or irony, or cynical disdain, or denied fear—no longer imprison your spontaneous bursts of laughter.
I wish you could see my face at this moment.
My smile is wide, irrepressible, real.
I’m smiling for my own life, for your life, and for our shared lived experiences—our lifeworlds—which we are, in this same moment, creating together.
Oh. god. oh. wow. oh. fuck. yes.
You. You are so amazing.
We are so awesome.
We are real.