Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Conflicted Self

There are the emotions that pull in different directions. This conflict feels as if I were being torn pieces by wildly antagonistic drives. It hurts. It makes me feel helpless. I ought not feel the way that I do and yet I do, “ought’s” not withstanding. Or certain memories, desires, and emotions fill me with loathing. I don’t understand why or how. The loathing attacks me as an animal of prey: sudden, ferocious and relentless. It bullies and harasses me. It comes from outside. And yet it is me. At the same time as the attack of loathing, I also have a sense of the loathing as mine as something that I am and do even as I am also a victim.

It is easier to describe the emotional elements of my inner conflict as if it were a war between two factions of my personality but there are more than two. Some I recognize from previous episodes, others are new. My personality has been under the sway of different factions at different times. I am chaos and I have no soul. Which of me would stand judgment before God? In writing all the factions lay down their arms in an armistice. Attention is directed away from strife and seemingly endless introspection and to the mechanics of writing: finding words, proofreading, thinking, etc. Writing calms the contempt and doubt of myself.

I have written about the emotional aspects of a lack of unity elsewhere but I feel that I have not done the experience justice. The more certain I am of a thing the stronger the impulse the more likely that other feelings and thoughts will want their say. This mania for perspectives makes adherence to an idea impossible, except in a provisional and probationary way. Adherence to an idea only lasts until I find myself outside looking in, looking for weaknesses and alternatives and dependencies on other ideas and assumptions. This shift in perspective is not an act of conscious will, I do not desire this shift in allegiance but neither do I wish to stay put. It is an itch that does not allow me to rest in an idea. Even this clever formulation misses the mark. The desire for rest is absent. Nor is it painful or difficult. It used to be an embarrassment sometimes, but now? It just happens. Being of two minds is second nature. My life is an ongoing experiment as to whether it is possible to live with only shades and gradations. Am I a skeptic? It is such a clumsy word for what I take for granted.

This skepticism is probably at the root of my interest in Christianity (and in adherence to ideologies in general). How some people are able to unwaveringly adhere to an idea or a fixed set of doctrines fascinates me, when I was ultimately unable to settle down with Christian doctrines into a stable relationship. The flux of my mental life made that impossible. I cannot help but be curious about something so foreign.

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