Ignorance Is Bliss

ignorance-is-bliss1

I am continuously surprised by our ability to adapt as humans.  We can go through the most traumatic of events and find a way to continue on after.  We are never the same.  I am not saying that you have the same quality of life, but we seem to have the ability to get through most anything.  This may not come as a shock to a lot of people who just take things in stride.  They just believe it is part of life, the pattern in the universe, or the will of god (if you believe in religion).  For others, like me, it is not quite as easy.

I know that I have been through a lot more than most people, but I still don’t think that I am at the extreme end of traumatic events.  I just seem to have a lot of smaller ones.  I don’t really know what would be worse.  One gigantic event or the continuous occurrence of smaller ones.  Then again, my events may seem major to others, but after surviving them, it is easier to take them lightly.  Take for example my childhood, some people think what I had to go through would be considered a major event.  Having to live through abuse, neglect, and the absence of love, but to me was just part of growing up.  Sure, according to many people (wife, therapist, friends,…), my childhood is wreaking havoc on my life today but I have a hard time seeing it.  I don’t know that is because I am in denial or just don’t have the ability emotionally to connect those dots.

I knew growing up that other families lived much differently than I did.  Hell, my siblings led much different lives than I did.  However, I still lived through it, I survived.  I learned a lot of negative attributes and vowed not to bestow them upon my kids.  Is this as traumatic as being raped?  For me, I would think that my childhood is no where near as traumatic as that.  Maybe that is a bad example now I think about some of the things that went on in my childhood.  A better example might be losing everything in a natural disaster, maybe even a loved one.  The event happens in a blink of an eye and then is gone, leaving you to figure out how to deal with it.  It would seem overwhelming and make it seem hard to see anything but your own pain.  I wonder though if somewhere deep in the back of the minds of people who go through events like this, they know that while it was tragic, the likelihood of a recurrence is near impossible.  That in itself might be a little comforting, but having never gone through one I would not like to say it is.

In the example of my childhood, I was not afforded that luxury.  Whatever abuse went on, as long as I was at home, I knew there was a chance that it could come back.  Not only could it come back, but it could always get worse.  There is trauma from the actual event and then an ancillary version from the anticipation of the next time.  The ability to heal is often put on hold because all energy is diverted into surviving and preparing for the next event.  In situations like this, I don’t see how healing can begin until the threat is removed.

As I write this, I can see how major traumatic events can be seen as initially worse, but I cannot see how the damage could be worse than the years of continuous smaller traumatic events.  Every time I would go back into that environment after I left, I was immediately on guard.  I know that is one reason I have cut my family completely out of my current life.  It is safer for me.  Even though I know that it would not happen again.  I still don’t want the reminders of that part of my life.  I would think that anyone who goes through any traumatic events would feel the same.  Survive a plane crash, you probably would be a little worried about ever flying again.  Even so, it still amazes me that my family still tries to get into contact with me.  They want to be part of my life, but why would I want that?  What would I get out of it?  Constant reminders of what happened…  Small insults and opening up my children to that environment.  I would get nothing positive from re-connection.  I also cannot fathom what they would get out of it but more opportunities to go at me again.  Or maybe the chance to try and settle their conscience.  Neither of these things interest me in the slightest.

It baffles some people how I can just cut out my family from my life and not feel bad or not have some part of me wish I didn’t have to do it.  I know it baffles my wife.  She spent the first years of our marriage trying to keep them somewhat in our lives.  Now she doesn’t, but she doesn’t fully understand it because she thinks I am missing something great.  I think it would take the ability to have feelings for my family in order to care whether or not they are part of my life.  It would take some sort of love between me and my family – some sort of bond.  I had/have none of that.  In your life, would you think twice about cutting someone out, with whom you have no connection with, if they constantly berate and belittle you?  It could be a bar tender.  You probably would just make the decision to not go back.  We do it all the time with bad service. Do you really think twice about it?  Probably not.  Isn’t this fundamentally the same thing?  I know I am oversimplifying the situation, but you should understand my point.

Now that I have cut them out and the threat has disappeared, then shouldn’t I just naturally heal?  Isn’t that how our complex bodies and minds work?  We find ways to survive, adapt, and heal.  So why would I need to discuss all this with a counselor?  I keep running into the same thoughts when I am highly recommended to go see a therapist.  Why do I need to drudge up the past in order to get…What?  A way to survive and live.  I have that.  I learned that long, long ago.

I know some part of me is terrified to open that back up.  To let that part of my life into my consciousness.  I hardly remember anything about my childhood and 99% of is not good.  If there is a reason that I blocked most of my past, then I don’t think I want to know what it was.  They say ignorance is bliss and in this case I would have a hard time disagreeing and I think I would like to be the most ignorant person possible.

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25 thoughts on “Ignorance Is Bliss”

  1. I get the part where you cut from your life people who harmed you. I get it, and I would have done the same, and I’ve done it with a fair share of individual along the way. As for going back to your past… I’m sure it is daunting, but sometimes in order to heal, move on, we must confront the demons/ghost which are still there holding us back, whether we want to accept that or not.

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  2. For me, I had to cut out the toxic parts because it was a matter of survival. The few family members who remain in my life are treated like small children. There are rules to interaction with me and it is always on my terms. When the rules are broken, contact is terminated, without hesitation. It is why there is no contact with my father, and contact with a sibling and my mother is limited.

    Explain to your wife that your family is a cancer. You cut cancer out of your body. And you had to cut your family out of your life for your health and sanity.

    I don’t want to drag up all that crap. When I was younger, I started dragging it up and would get so far before the insurance ran out, I was assigned a new therapist, or I couldn’t be in a place to deal with it. I have enough to deal with as it is with this wonderful gift passed down to me through genetics. And I don’t have the support system to deal with it either, even if I did go back to therapy. I don’t remember a lot of things and based on what I do remember, I’m grateful to be in the dark about it. I was told enough things over and over as a child to the point to where I was conditioned to believe them, and I don’t care to revisit what I don’t remember. Instead, I’m glad that I’ve overcome.

    If ignorance is bliss, my friend, then I’m happy reveling in it.

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  3. I hear every word you said. You tried to explain with some examples that people that people can relate. But I was there, not exactly, not in my childhood. It’s somewhere else. Being belittled, feeling drown, wanted to get above water and got pushed down again. Couldn’t breathe. I’m glad I came out of it. It’s painful to remember, so you don’t want to remember. Perhaps in your private world, try to say whatever you want to say to your family. If they don’t think they have done you wrong, there may not be any use to try to connect. Whatever you have to do, you do it to set yourself free. What does it mean to be free? You will have to define it. Perhaps to a point that you don’t need to be on guard, and that nothing can trigger your fear, anger, or any other unpleasant feelings, and that you can trust, at least your wife. You will know it when you are free. Wishing you the best. Keep looking for the feeling of being free.

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  4. You write from the heart and your vulnerability makes you very relatable. Along this journey we travel, I have encountered many people who survived their childhood. I am amazed at the sheer number. One thing I have noticed: some continue to live in the past (victim), some are trapped by the past (survivor), some are working through the pain – facing the trauma and finding ways to get beyond the pain (victor), and some have finally put it in perspective and are no longer concerned with the past (thriver). It takes a long time to work through the stages of victim, survivor, victor, and thriver. The moment it all began to change for me was when I made the decision not to let the past drive my decisions for today. (I employed professional therapists to assist me with specific issues.) Today, I am free from the past (and from some family members). It was hard work, but it can be done. I commended you on your willingness to struggle through the confusion, pain, and loss.

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  5. I can relate to everything you said as our lives seem similar. I did not have the courage to cut ties with my family until I was in my late forties. Even then, people did not understand or would attempt to make me feel guilty. The thing is that they did not experience what I had to go through and, therefore, cannot understand it or my decision. What others think is none of my business. I did what I needed to do for me and I have never been happier. Never let others make you feel guilty for what you need to do to help yourself. Just because someone is family does not mean you should remain in a toxic relationship.

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  6. I have learned over the last 73 years of my life that you don’t know what your parents had to endure as children. No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes but we can apologize. Do you know their story? Did they live through the same abuse that they bestowed upon you? If so, then maybe that’s all they knew. Are you truly happy? If they apologize would that make a difference? Are you now deep down inside punishing them for revenge? You don’t have to forget but if you are truly loving and happy you can forgive. There’s an old Indian saying that can explain what I am trying to convey to you.

    “An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies & ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy & truth. “The boy thought about this & asked, ‘Which wolf wins?'” The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed”.

    Are you feeding the Good wolf? Are you teaching your children to feed the good wolf? If your answer is truly a yes then you can move on with happiness and love in your soul.

    Thank you for the follow it is much appreciated. ☺☺

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    1. I can agree that no parent is perfect. I am living proof of that concept. However, while I may not be perfect I do try and be a good parent for my kids.

      I don’t know much of my parent’s story and I don’t really want to know it. They may have lived through the things I went through but it does not take a genius to know there are certain things you just don’t do.

      I also know adding them into my life would not make me feel any happier or more complete. Am I punishing them? Maybe in some recess in my mind, but I am doing it more for my own well-being. Since I have cut them out I don’t spend my energy worrying about them or what they are going to do. Instead, I can worry about myself and my family. I rarely think about them any more and it is much better that way.

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      1. I hope you find something in Letters2jamison that helps. There are no stones in my hands but as far as I can tell from what you’ve written… You shut the door on people and never left the past. You are still there or you wouldn’t be writing about it. If you didn’t know pain how could you understand pleasure? March your unhappy ass to the mirror and talk to the only one that matters. If you want to figure it out… You will. Just be aware that change takes courage. Sitting in your soup does not.

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  7. I am moved by your post. Forgiveness is a difficult thing. It may never happen until you can let go of the feelings you have and that may not be possible. Protecting yourself and your family may be the only choice for now. Spending time with a counselor doesn’t necessarily mean revisiting the past. Only the feeling attached to it. A good one can help but you have to find one that fits. You have struggled and moved forward. Keep on!

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  8. You’ve not rejected family or life just aspects of it that were negative. But it looks like you’ve found the balancing positives too. Just the perspectives and relativities to come to terms with, and you’re on the way there creating this therapeutic word picture. Good stuff, good creative art.

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  9. Ignorance really is bliss in many situations. However, I am never alright with ignorance. And so then I regret needing to know. But such is life.
    You are absolutely right on how resilient we can be.
    I wish you strength.

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  10. Do what works for you. That’s the best advice I ever received and the best I can give. Over time I have cut some family members from my life, and allowed others to stay. The family who are allowed in are aware of the “rules” they must abide by to be allowed access to my life. I remember everything that happened to me and have spoken about it in detail with my family. Most of them were also abused and remember it. One of my sisters doesn’t remember, and it seems like stifling those memories is eating her alive. Do what you need to do in order to take care of you. It’s a process.

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