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Requiem for My Self-Subservience

by Jule Hutzler

Yesterday, I gave permission to my cells to be alive whenever they want to be for no reason whatsoever. It was an unprecedented self-liberation from my self-subservience. Many years did I forbid my cells this freedom.

I just turned twenty-one. This cellular transformation is a step in my ongoing authentic adulthood initiations into next culture, archearchy, the culture that emerges after matriarchy and patriarchy have run their course.

I spent the majority of my life in an unconscious state of self-hatred. In this state, I don’t want to do anything, I only want to consume: books, TV series, or other Gremlin food. I do anything to distract myself from what I’m feeling. My deepest technique is keeping my head stuck under my blankets, waiting to feel ‘better’ again. I only want to run away from whatever it is that is hunting me.

I don’t feel good in my secret hell world, but I am so afraid of what might happen if I stop running away that I prefer that safe, (not really) comfortable, well-known, usual, normal, numb state to facing into my ‘life-threatening’ conflict. I am so afraid of what I would feel if I stop running.

When I’m in that state, I can already sense the edge, the shadow of the fear and rage I’m running away from. A fear and a rage so big, so enormous, so massive that I cannot bear them. A fear and a rage so earth-shattering and all-consuming that I’m afraid they might kill me. A fear and a rage that are scary, uncomfortable, unknown, unusual, not normal and, bigger than anything else, alive.

I already know that running away from those emotions will not make them go away. I already know that the secret to stop my insanity is by clearly diving through the emotions themselves. I already know that until I find this golden key my life is mostly wasted time waiting for the seconds, minutes, hours, days to pass by until whatever the emotions are about is long gone or the pressure gets so big that I crack.

The crack happens when the dam holding back my emotions bursts wide open. There’s a moment when the fear and rage suddenly break out and surge into my body, a colossal force of emotion.

Before then, I try to suffocate my fear and anger so they NEVER have a voice. Even if I am flooded by those silent emotions, I hold them in, hold them IN, HOLD THEM IN until it gets too MUCH and something has to GIVE because I can’t BEAR it… and then I SCREAM, but always, always, I scream silently to nobody. And I RAGE, but always, always I rage silently against myself. This fear and anger slam through me and want OUT but I must keep them IN. This INWARDS and OUTWARDS and INWARDS and OUTWARDS and INWARDS hurts so much that I want to hurt something, but never something else. There’s only me to hurt and so I dig my fingernails into the skin of my forearms and – the pain silences my own voices. It is painful numbness, a false peace.

But still there’s more, more, MORE. More fear, more anger, always together, entwined in each other. And it gets too much and I start to cry and I just don’t know what to do and it hurts and I’m scared and I don’t know. I become hysterical.

Sometimes I radically decide to just throw it all away. I decide to do without whatever led to the emotions, because even though it means I have to sacrifice something it’s still less painful than feeling.

Sometimes I manage to slip around the emotions and stories and decisions and constructs and trick myself into just starting whatever it is that wants to be done. Then the mix of fear and rage looms on the horizon like a storm, coming closer and closer, threatening inescapable devastation and destruction, only to dissipate in the nick of time like clouds evaporating into a sunny sky. All the pressure disappears as if nothing ever happened. Catastrophe avoided – for the moment.

But sometimes, very rarely, I dive into the fear and the rage, breaking the unbreakable rule about holding it all IN, and I scream and shout and rage and LIVE, eventually emerging on the other side sparkling, and feeling, centred and alive. Then I want so many things. I am truly inspired, ravenously shooting all the phantom criticizing voices. I move and feel and change and live.

And yet, the habit of my private insanity is strong. It lurks just below the surface, waiting for an opening to pull me under. I fear it and struggle against it and try to run away from it, but inevitably and gradually I start listening again to those insidious voices saying, “Now really isn’t the time to express this,” and. “This really isn’t the place to be strange,” and “That would be too loud,” and, “You’re too weird,” and, “You should do that later and somewhere else.”

These voices convince me to again run away from feeling, so I hide first in meaningless activity then in stories and books and different worlds. Even though I hear a niggling voice in the back of my head telling me that this is how it always starts and I should do something to stop it, and I don’t actually want that and NO, I won’t listen to those nasty voices… or maybe I can listen without reacting, because feeling, being loud, being alive is just so dangerous and to be avoided and if I go there I am sure to die!

I finally hate it enough to not want it, to fight it nail and tooth. Sometimes I can hold the pure anger in my bones and the pure fear in my nerves a bit longer, but it is so tempting to slip back.

I’ve had enough of that!

Never will fall back into numbness again! I refuse be a zombie! I will not waste my life! I object to watching time go by waiting for something to be over! My life is not available for walking the well-trodden path and doing what’s comfortable and safe.

I am here to live and be and move! I will plant trees and harvest fruits and vegetables and cook and negotiate intimacy. I am committed to stay present and reduce plastic waste and be unconquerable and build with Earth and make music and learn languages and travel and share whatever I can share that makes a difference.

Changing is so scary. Doing and being what I already superficially know seems so much easier. It looks so much safer to give up, to disappear into the depths of my snarled-up numbness, to stand for nothing, assuring that my name is never mentioned again.

I know what happens if I truly and finally stop struggling. The end of having to feel and having to live is only one thing – death.

Death is an option to consider, and at the same time, it isn’t at all. Giving up may seem safer and easier and more comfortable, but it is also not an option. I will not walk that path because I do not want to go where it leads. I don’t have it in me to give up. It’s not part of my psychological construct and not part of my being. Had it been, I would have surrendered a long time ago.

I can’t give up and I refuse to be stuck anymore – so what do I do? I can fight my aliveness all I want, but fighting it with suppression, or giving in to it with hysteria, are two sides of the same coin. They both keep me bound to my powerlessness. The only way to break free, to escape this tug-of-war inside of myself is to go sideways!

I neither give in, nor fight. Instead I go in some impossible-to-predict nonlinear direction. I slide any-which-way like squeezing a wet bar of soap. In this case, I jump wholly into my fear with love for its awareness. I follow exactly its wisdom.

I feel sad writing these words, because it means I’m giving up my insanity. I’m giving up a survival strategy that I’ve lived inside of for my whole life until now.

This delicate balance between my secret self-strangulation and my will to live has allowed me to survive my childhood without being killed and without killing myself. My insanity has allowed me to survive and function in modern culture, to go to school, to be normal, to fit in and not to overwhelm other people I depended on for survival. As a child, I don’t think my surroundings would have known how to handle my unrestrained aliveness.

I am not a child anymore. I survived. What is my reward? Now I get to live!

Straightjacket: We are finished. Thank you for the time we had together. Thank you for helping me survive.

Life: Here I am. Goodness, this is scary! I’m alive!

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