I realized I’ve been traumatized by the media.
We learned an exercise called Trauma/Addiction Clearing in the Enlightenment studies group. (*British accent*: For to learn how to help others, one must help ones self first…*end accent*: which is why we do all the work on ourselves.)
We were asked to choose something from our past that was traumatizing, something that is affecting us somehow in the present moment, and intend to feel it directly. I went into my list of traumas (most of us have a list, right?), but nothing seemed deep enough (and I had already cleared some of the “big ones” earlier in the year). So I kept pondering…
Then we were asked to focus on something we are addicted to today. And the process was to seek the trauma that is at the root of the addiction (all addictions have a root cause).
I didn’t think I was addicted to anything anymore. After giving up smoking and other things years ago, and completely changing my eating habits (which means: my addiction to junk food was broken (or ok, loosened a great deal ;).
We were then told it could even be a thought or an idea, some kind of mental pattern we were addicted to.
That’s where I found mine.
The preoccupation I adopted at a very young age: my obsession with my appearance. (which I contest: started when I began watching TV and became in contact with other media (which is why I have cable, radio and magazines banned from my house, my quest to save my children in some way.)
Namely and initially (when I was young) it was feeling ugly and inadequate compared to the rest of the world, the people in my real world and the people in the fantasy/media world (actually: mainly the people in the fantasy world!)
Thankfully, that obsession no longer has the strong hold over me it once did, even though there are still issues surrounding it.
Today, it has slowly evolved into repeated questions in my mind: am I ugly or am I beautiful? And what does it mean to be either?
I am addicted to that thought. That’s my addiction.
I obsess over it at times. I really don’t know the answer, or if there is even one answer. Because I, logically, know that beauty is subjective and it really matters none what this exterior vehicle, the human body, looks like; and that it is all in what one feels on the inside that radiates out that is important… blah-blah-blah... I know this “intellectually”, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still have that obsessive thought.
How do I stop the dysfunctional thoughts? How do I evolve my mind from brainwashing that ran so deep in my youth?
Will there always be a shadow of it or can I completely remove the imprint and release the hold it has had on me for so long?
My trauma lies in my distorted perception of what “beauty” is.
All the images and messages I have seen in movies, on TV, in magazines, on websites; things I hear from other people (who are no doubt twisted on some level of thought by much of the same dysfunction!), things in music and even in radio ads! It is truly EVERYWHERE. A distorted idea of what it means to be and look like a woman.
(DISCLOSURE: I am not saying women have it worse than men, or that men don’t have some of the same issues, or that women are better than men. No.
I’m not saying anything to really “compare” women and men. I am merely stating a female perspective of the affect of all the images and ideas of women (and men) I have gathered over the years, from the media and also from the people around me. So don’t get all defensive about it. NOTE: the only people that will be upset at that last comment are the people who are feeling a little defensive about it ;)
I was a lonely, self conscious, unguided youth. As much as there were many people coming and going through my life, none seemed to let me in on the self-esteem secret, and I always felt lonely and different from everyone else.
It seems this loneliness really solidified in 5th grade. When my feelings of being separate really sunk in to my existence and became the norm for me; when I really started noticing other people, and myself in relation to them, and when other kids started picking on me and making me feel hideous.
This seems to correlate strongly with my increased viewing of television, movies and other forms of media. (To use a fitting cliché: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Both sides have great arguments.)
Now that I know all of that: how do I change it? How do we fix broken thought patterns or beliefs? Is it even possible? Or are we doomed to think the way we first learned?
I don’t believe that last thing. I believe we are supposed to evolve the messy mind and its distorted beliefs it developed in its younger days. And that hardship builds character in the human mind. So: the more trauma, the more character? Lets hope so.
During the Trauma/Addiction exercise, I released a lot of charge in relation to the trauma of being brainwashed by the medias portrayal of women and its effects on me as a young female. I am now in the next phase: watching my minds daily reactions and noting anything that may seem to stem from the past trauma and then release it, mindfully, with the intention of letting it go and seeking the truth.
Like yesterday, I felt much too “ugly” to go out in public (that’s normal right? *looks around for someone to agree, I mean, validate*), but I shook that off and went out anyhow and realized the world didn’t end when it saw my face. What a relief.
(kill your tv image found here: www.peersunited.com/tv-effect-on-teenagers )
(fakebeauty image found here: www.nowfoundation.org (national organization for women)
(the other two are my own)