July 24, 2009

Self and Safe Spaces

Is one ever truly 100% free to be his or herself? There are unspoken rules in the communities in which we participate and society at large that specify a limited range of behavior. Of course, it's perfectly fine (by me- someone out there probably disagrees) that burglary and murder are not considered socially acceptable, but I'm more thinking of stuff that is stigmatized rather than downright prohibited, and that people are therefore tempted to hide: mental illness, SI, being a Rick Astley fan, Muslim.

These attitudes of what is good or bad or is something to be embarrassed about are also intimately projected (often subconsciously) by our friends and family. Most people can list off one thing inside their heads that no one else on the planet knows about them. Some people may have more. I do, for one.

In a perfect world everyone would have at least one place where he or she could feel entirely safe. In reality, so long as there are other people involved in that space, someone will always pass judgement. Asking people to not express that judgement is the usual focus of someone trying to make a safe space. So is the only safe space inside one's own mind, because after all, what others see are projections of us, as there are aspects that are always publicly censored?

I try to make my blog a safe space by not accepting derogatory views of mental illness, but at the same time, I cannot be totally honest due to fear that someone may identify me, and, well... stigmatize me. Even with close friends, I withhold mention of thoughts I have or stuff that's happened simply because I know they'll never get it. When I am alone trying to fall asleep, I fear that all these different projections of me, the placeholders, have become so knotted and twisted together with my true self that even I don't know the difference.

And if I don't even know who I am, then what do I know about everything else?

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and thought-provoking post. You raised a lot of points that I think about too, issues that unfortunately we have to think about. I can't be truly honest with people, not my family or my friends. And I think that in the case of mental illness, only those who have experienced it can truly understand it.

    As you maybe know, recently three people who I'd previously believed to be my friends found my blog and read it and then came to my house and confronted me, telling me that after reading the things I'd said on my blog they believed me to be an entirely negative influence on them and as a result they no longer wanted to be my friends or wanted me around. Because of that, I don't think I can ever really be myself in again in front of anyone or even on a blog.

    Sorry my comment ended up being so long! I suppose you just have to try and know yourself, to discover who you are among the different parts and identities that you show to others but maybe we never can truly know ourselves if the identities we are forced to show to the world are so fragmented. As you can see, your post really made me think! Hope you're doing ok x