Posts Tagged ‘criticism’
He is. He’s not. They love him. They hate him. It’s too much. Pretending to be someone he isn’t is tormenting his psyche, imprisoning his spirit, and annihilating his self-esteem. He knows he’s different. He’s always known. Always shouldered the burdensome lie. But as most burdens do, this one has become too heavy to bear. His secret too difficult to keep. He’s a monster. Apparently.
A gay monster.
Morally corrupt, an evil volcano bound to erupt, disgustingly vile, and doomed to social exile. Or so says his family, his community, and his country. On the contrary, he’s no monster. Just an innocent teenager whose heart has been labeled “evil.” Who is he to argue with a country full of know-it-all “adults” who blindly submerge themselves in a delusional pool of perfection? Casting down judgment from the safety of their high horse. Adults know everything…and nothing. We’re pros at lying. Even better at denying. But as they say, practice makes perfect.
How can a sexual feeling he has no control over deem him unworthy of living? This feeling…this secret…this thing…he can’t control is controlling him. But he has no choice. This secret is one society has forced him to keep. So he hides. Hides behind his fear. Behind their fear. Behind the mask that grants him acceptance. And day after day, he looks at his world from behind the mask…meets his mother’s loving gaze…his father’s expectant eyes brimming with hope. Their eyes…pre-shame. How would their eyes change? If he removed the mask? How would they look at him…WOULD they look at him…if they knew? Would they hate him? Stop loving him? Be ashamed of him? Throw him away? What would happen if he dared be…
Supposedly, they know him better than anyone. Love him more than anyone. Is that love as unconditional as they claim? He wonders. Nevertheless, his dad’s occasional gay slur, his mom’s complete and utter denial of homosexuality, and his peers’ relentless jeering of any soul who dares to be different…all keep his secret tightly sealed behind his otherwise sexually perverse lips. He fears his coming out will incur a social debt he, and his family, may never pay. A debt charged by hate. Never courageous, ever contagious, that hate spreads…and embeds. Embeds deep into his heart and his subconscious. He hates himself. Because he knows what they don’t. Knows that the hate they will unleash is kept at bay only by his silence. His denial. But he’s finding that his silence…his denial…is creating a very private, very hostile world of hate. A hate all his own. So, he has a choice to make…his silence, his fear, and their ignorance…OR his courage, his freedom, and possibly, their enlightenment. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll outgrow their H8.
“Different” is defined as “not identical, not ordinary, unusual.” Don’t we strive to be unique? We do. But we don’t. We want to stand out in a crowd…yet, we want to blend in with our peers? Each of us is different, yet the same. Different in terms of sexual orientation, politics, religion, race, culture, opinion. The same in terms of humanity, tears, pain, fears.
A hater dwells inside each of us. We hate because we fear. That which we don’t understand, we fear; therefore, we hate. It’s self defense. The human brain has evolved to do whatever it takes to ensure survival. Only the strong survive, right? Innately, we know…to survive, we must be dominant. So, we fake it. We self promote…puff out our chest, beat it a few times, bare our teeth, scratch our ass, and assert our dominance. We convince ourselves that we’re better than the others…Our skin color is better. Our chosen religion is the “only way.” Our sexual preference is better. Better is…better, no? We need to feel superior…lest we fall lower on the food chain of life. Risk our demise. When our “place” feels threatened, we become aggressive. Hate becomes our weapon of choice. We tell ourselves, “they’re not like me.” We banish “the others” from our inner circle…from “us.” That cues our brains to begin devaluing “the others” and justifies bullying, hate crimes, genocide, terrorist attacks, and war. We stop at nothing to assert our dominance. To be right. To feed our need to be right, we surround ourselves with like people. People who share the same values, opinions, prejudices, hates…as we do. Because hearing the echo of our own thoughts empowers us…Ahhh, sweet validation. Validation…and, uh, numbers. In any war, sheer numbers leads to victory. United we stand, divided we fall?
We hate out of ignorance…out of self promotion…out of fear.
But what exactly ARE we afraid of?
Religion scares us ~ We convince ourselves that our religion, or lack of, is the only one. Being wrong on this playing field carries heavy penalties. The gnashing of teeth, burning in hell, fire and brimstone kind. We’re right. We have to be - if we want to survive death. So, we condemn other religions as a sort of self-soother. We’re entangled in a desperate attempt to survive not only this life, but any possible after-life. Self preservation at its finest.
Race scares us ~ Conquering survival of the fittest means convincing ourselves we’re superior. Telling ourselves this skin color is better than that. As long as we feel superior, we’re good. We don’t feel threatened. But as soon as our superiority is threatened, hate jumps to our defense…snarling through it’s terrified teeth.
Sexuality scares us ~ Homophobia is no different than any other fear…it’s a protection of one’s ego. Like bullies in school, we pick on “different” because understanding it could lead to our social death. And condoning it could threaten our own sexuality…or at least others’ perception of it. Like teenagers in school, we long to fit in. We long to fit in because it’s a sure road to survival.
Survival means war. Or so it would seem. Not only do we wage war against “different” locally…but being the ambitious go-getters that we are, we take on other countries. We murder over power, religion, greed…all in an attempt to be dominant. To survive. But maybe true survival lies in education, not termination.
After all, ignorance is the root of all fear. And fear is the root of all hate.
So educate! Rip fear out by the root! Celebrate humanity…all its differences, all its imperfections, all its love.
Think with heart – not with hate.
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” ~ Marie Curie
Few things can crush our spirit and strangle our marriage like unrelenting criticism from our spouse…the one person we depend on for strength, love, and acceptance. A constant onslaught of jabs, insults, and nit-picking leaves devastating scars on the hearts of our spouses…and, sometimes, gaping wounds on our marital trust that may never fully heal. Undoubtedly, we’ve all been guilty of a little criticizing from time to time. I’m not sure it’s possible for one to live with the same person day in, day out, year after year, without playing the occasional critic. Obviously, there’s a difference between the random constructive criticism meant to help our other half and the endless spewing of critical comments meant to drag the other down. What compels us to repeatedly hurl destructive “balls” of criticism at our spouse? How does that criticism affect the one on the receiving end? And how long before we’re pitching hurtful remarks to a catcher who’s left the field and the marriage?
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, you’ve just started dating someone. You go out to dinner a few times, maybe a movie or two. It’s unlikely that either of you will say anything hurtful to the other for fear the potential relationship will roll over and play dead. But, what if your date began to tell you all the things about you he’d like to change…how you should dye your hair red because he finds that unbearably hot, how you probably shouldn’t wear those pants again because it looks like you’re smuggling two Easter hams back there, how he thinks you should wear more makeup because “You have a cute face, but you could be hot if you tried harder”, how sometimes she’s ashamed of your obsession with country music and the infamous, ratty hat that is so soaked with smelly sweat you’d swear it’s breeding mosquitoes in the seams, how you should really let her do the talking because “You’re kind of clueless and incompetent.” Would you stick around to see how this turned out? Hell No! That’s a phone number that would no longer be listed in your cell under “Jake” or “Megan.” You’ve now replaced that “name” with “asshole-don’t answer” at least until you feel they’ve gotten the hint and have stopped calling. ALL HAIL: Caller ID.
So, if these criticisms would never make appropriate date conversation, then why does it manage to slither it’s slimy little head into our 5, 6, 7+ year old marriage? Because it can…Because we let it… Our guard is down… our love “high” is no longer keeping our kite soaring in the sky…somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our wind. This loss of “wind” will lessen our perceived threat of consequences hurting our spouse may bring. Finding too much fault in our spouse isn’t something that only happens with “other” people. Any one of us can slowly fall into this pattern while we’re not paying attention and taking the other for granted. Keep your guard up.
Maybe we criticize because we’re insecure with ourselves and feel the need to spread the “love.” “My spouse won’t leave me if I can convince him I’m better than he is – that I’m the best he can do.” Maybe we’re just no longer happy with our spouse and feel safer lightly, persistently jabbing our “dragon” with passive aggressive comments, rather than attacking it head-on. Maybe our spouse has hurt us somehow, and we criticize him as a form of punishment or retaliation. Whatever our reason, with each and every tiny criticism, we personally create new links in the chain binding our spouse to his own insecurity.
Whether we’re criticizing our spouse’s likes, dislikes, parenting techniques, appearance, weight, grooming, etc. – hurtful words from us can never be reclaimed and have a way of convincing our spouse of his faults like no other source. Countless complements on our appearance from others can, and will, all be erased with just one negative, hurtful comment from our spouse. Why? Because no opinion matters quite as much to us as his. It’s unlikely that the object of our criticisms will bounce into our lap, thank us for our astute observations, and beg us for more. It’s far more likely that he/she will internalize the painful attacks, learn to question every personal thought or decision, wonder if we would approve, lose all independent thinking, and eventually, all self-esteem. These needling remarks have not only caused our spouse to lose self-confidence, but now the confidence in our relationship has gone missing as well. Our spouse may now be thinking, “What does he like about me at all?” “Why is he still with me if he hates everything about me?” At this point, our spouse’s trust in us is nonexistent. We’re crossing the line between friend and enemy. The bond is cracking, and will soon snap. The number one bonding activity a couple engages in is sex (due to bonding hormones released in the brain during sex). Unfortunately, our spouse is now riddled with insecurities, and bonding over sex is highly unlikely. Who wants to have sex with the perpetual critic - finding fault in our every detail…during sex, we’re the most vulnerable we’ll ever be. Criticism in that department is sure to shut down business and supply power to the giant, glowing, neon “CLOSED” sign guaranteed to be hanging over our bed indefinitely.
Now that our spouse is bound by the chains of criticism that we’ve so lovingly created link by link, how will our marriage hold up? How does a person who is restrained usually respond when they’ve had enough? They rebel, break loose, cheat…leave. Once our spouse tires of being stripped of his self-confidence, he will likely look to rebuild that confidence without you - maybe with someone else, someone who will help him find the person he was pre-US. Can we blame him? Fault him? Persecute him? For what? Trying to be happy?
Marriage is no picnic. No fairy tale - even on a good day. It’s hard work. And it’s hard enough without constant criticism from our partner. For our marriage to stand the test of time…the good times, the not-so-good times, the “kill me now” times, and the “I’m already dead and in Hell” times…we have to be there to breathe life into each other. It’s our job to build each other up, encourage each other. If we, instead, choose to bind our spouse with criticism and replace each shred of self-esteem with a nice, shiny link of chain, we might want to step back. Sooner or later, those chains will be broken…and we may get slapped in the face with a nice piece of shiny “criticism” hand-crafted by yours truly. Give love. Get love. Give hate. Await your fate.