My Valentines this year are two of my nephews, 10 and 14, with whom I get to spend the entire week during their school vacation. When I asked if they'd be my Valentine this year, both boys blushed and smiled big. It was adorable. But watching their faces as we sat through trailers full of negative energy wasn't.
My day-job as "The #PopCultureProfessor" sees me watching a great deal of television and film as part of my ongoing work in a field that originated in the 1970's, after social shake ups like Civil Rights and Women's Liberation. Such socio-political movements threw out the old paradigm of low and high culture, and generally, accepted that culture is not really about status. Culture is about everyone. That's essentially how pop (or "popular") culture was born. But watching even 10 minutes of negativity with my young, impressionable nephews gave me real pause about what pop culture may be teaching audiences, especially men, regarding their roles in society. And, that making sacrifices in order to hold on to negative energy is more socially-acceptable than choosing to follow your bliss. It's backwards thinking. Because it's mirrored thinking, not authentic to the self.
We mirror each other in society to gain acceptance. But if you look at truly happy people, they are not worried about what others think or feel regarding their life choices. Because fearing social scrutiny puts tremendous limits on your life. Limits derive from negative energy. Happiness derives from the opposite. Which is why happy people are mainly concerned about being authentic to their true selves. Whatever social expectations may surround your gender, you must, must, must live your life as authentically as possible: "To thine own self, be true," as Shakespeare put it. Believe me, it's not worth the negative energy you'll have to endure. Let no man, or woman, stand in the way of what you know to be right in both your heart, and, your soul.
The villains of almost any film are usually male. Like in Deadpool, there may be a female cohort, but she's often portrayed as a victim, dishing out abuse because of previous damage done by male abusers. It's not always the case in real life. And, even if it is, abuse of any kind is never okay. Portraying men through mostly negative roles contributes to a general acceptance of male power and abuse. However, as I learned well in the last two years, men are not always the abusers....
As my regular blog readers know, my last year or so was particularly traumatic. Like all trauma, negative energy was the ultimate cause. One of the gentlest, kindest souls I know was triggered by a previous abuser. I knew that gentle, kind soul was not capable of hurting me, but under a malignant narcissist's influence, a person I only knew as pure light and joy and peace was compromised. How is that even possible? It starts when we allow negative energy to build up rather than clearing it out of our system. And it's not as easy as it sounds.
Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, an abuser (like a malignant narcissist) takes on the role of emotional captor, and eventually, we all find ourselves sympathizing with, even loving, those who hurt us. Feeling tremendous loyalty to our captors. Mainly because we are vulnerable to an abuser (which is why the abuse occurs in the first place) and have to dissociate to survive. But freeing yourself from captivity does not free you of what feels like genuine emotions and care.
I was imagining during those 10 minutes of negativity from the movie trailers what it might be like for a person who had to face that kind of blood-pressure raising abuse every day. For more than a decade. What would that feel like? Walking on egg shells every single second. Never sure of what might happen next. As an abuse-victim, learning to lie is an obvious part of survival. You also must learn not to trust, not even yourself. You are the one being victimized, yet you still feel responsible for the abuse you've suffered. Abusers often use blame-shifting, making the abuse somehow the victim's fault. In addition, people who supposedly "care" about the abuse-victim (family members and friends) know about the abuse yet pretend everything is fine.
How can you trust anyone in such circumstances??? You can't.
That's why abuse-victims learn the only way to make things "right" is by doing what abusers want. If an abuse-victim does what is expected by the abuser, periods of "love" cycle until the abuser decides to be disappointed again, but not because anything disappointing happened; it's pure justification to continue the abuse. More negativity. An abuser's greatest joy is to turn the person they have abused into an abuser themselves. Because it validates the abuser's malignancy: "See, you're just like me. You don't deserve anything better."
Abuse is about power, nothing more. Love is never really part of that equation. It's only used as a tool to manipulate.
I don't want my nephews to be the kind of men who abuse women. I also don't want my nephews to be men abused by women either. That sounds absurd on some level, but I've seen it for myself. It's almost worse for a man to be abused. Women are seen as weak by male-oriented law enforcement agencies, so when a woman is an abuse-victim, it is more accepted. But a man being abused by a "weak" woman can feel emasculated. He may be made fun of by family, friends, and looked at as "less than" by the police, who might not take his complaints seriously as a result. Even doctors have been shown to have subjective prejudice when it comes to gender in their patients. Male-abuse victims can almost never escape their abusers because of the social bias surrounding gender and victimhood. They can't even confide in a doctor or therapist without risking some kind of social scrutiny. This is part of how negative energy builds up and can even be capitalized on by pop culture producers in Hollywood.
Negativity sells. But why? Why is it okay for any negatives to be acceptable? It isn't okay. It's a social cancer, but there's no prescribed treatment course that can kill it. Except for love.
Love is freedom. Love removes limits. For all you happy couples who got engaged over Valentine's Day weekend, you likely already know this. Connecting your life to another person who makes you the best version of yourself only increases your potential; and, if you're in a love-relationship where you are not the best version of yourself, I'm sad to say the love is not real either. You see, love itself is positive energy. When you have real love, positive things happen in your life. But keeping the positive flow requires taking responsibility. That's where many of us tend to get in trouble.
My nephews and I discuss on a regular basis how limited thinking is at the core of every problem in this world. Limits themselves derive from negativity. From believing people can't be better than they are. Whereas real love believes people can be better. Real love let's you see a person society may look upon as "damaged" as a hero. Your own personal Superman. But what happens when Superman doesn't have an ice cave, a cape, or a hologram of his father to reinforce his inner hero? What happens when your whole life has been nothing but darkness? Is there any hope? Can you ever escape? And, even if you do, how will you free yourself from feeling somehow obligated to your abuser(s)???
Fear gives doubt too much credit. Remember, love is always the answer to every question....
Abusers remove agency from their victims as part of the overall abuse, "taking over" in order to disempower their victim(s). After years of that, it is very difficult to suddenly take back your power, which can only be accomplished by taking responsibility for yourself. That's why abuse-victims have so much trouble leaving their abusers: They do not feel worthy of love of any kind, not even loving themselves. They also don't trust themselves or their ability to make decisions...that's what happens when agency is removed from another individual through negative energy like abuse. It robs people of their light.
So why not just leave???
Abuse-victims suffer a kind of institutionalization, like the prisoner released from jail committing a crime as soon as possible to go back to what is familiar, even comfortable. Because, the world outside of prison only works if you do. You must take responsibility for yourself. And in order to do that, you must trust yourself. Love yourself. It is the only way you can love and trust another. But that isn't easy.Think living in total darkness for decades, then, suddenly finding a door to the outside. The moment you step out of the doorway, you become blinded by the light. The intensity of which you had no way to anticipate or prepare for. And yet, it is the very light you need to follow to escape.
But how do you follow anything if you no longer see clearly? You must follow the light by opening, not your eyes, but your heart....
Love is that light. Your eyes will adjust. Stick with it. Don't give up. Trust in that love. Because love is what motivates you to work harder. Educate. Volunteer. Make social connections. Become a trusted, valued member of your community. It's a jarring change from prison life, where trust and love do not exist on any level, whether you lived in a jail full of criminals or a suburban home with your abuser who kept you isolated, held you down, and made you feel generally unlovable.
By the way, abusive romantic partners/spouses pick people who have been previously abused because abuse-victims tend to have the greatest potential to love. To find joy. Peace. Happiness. Part of the abuse, then, is stealing that potential from their victim. You can't get more negative than that. And it's really hard as an abuse-victim to not focus on getting justice for those inequities. But, you can let go of the pain, because, you are lovable. Someone out there in the wide-world will love you unconditionally, if they don't already—regardless of the abuse you have suffered. Besides, the best way to remedy any injustice from abuse is to connect with positive energy as soon as possible, and start living your best life. Nothing drives an abuser more crazy than a victim finally finding happiness. And, keeping it. It means the abuser is no longer relevant to the victim. It means the victim can no longer be victimized. It also means love (and positive energy) wins. And when love wins, everybody wins....
Our psychology influences who we are. So do our genes. And so does our environment. But no matter what influences you, you can choose to remove any limits put on your life by "purging" negative energy—and not by going on a criminal rampage. The only way to truly purge the negative and invite positives into your life is through love. Loving yourself is the first step. It's not an easy step to take. But if you take that first step, no matter what terrible situation you're currently in, you can make the impossible, possible. You can live a life without limits. You can have the home, the family, the business, and the love of your dreams.
YOU CAN. I've seen it. But more importantly, I believe. In you.
If the chances seem impossibly small, you should know that even the smallest chance is still a chance. That's what my gentle, kind soul of a friend once told me. I'd gotten discouraged after "expert" doctors pushed some infinitesimally small statistic at me...but my friend cheered me on. He told me he believed in me. And guess what? I actually started to believe in myself, too.
Good things happened from there. Bad things only followed because negative energy surfaced. I contributed to those negatives by looking at love in a very limited, linear way. But clearing those negatives is the very reason I now have the capacity for unconditional love today. Life may not include the white picket fence I originally envisioned, but it's not yet the end of my story.
It's not the end of yours either.
Remember, love removes all limits. That's why it's never too late to clear negative energy and invite the positives back into your world. Following the light is a bit painful at first. And, scary. So scary, it can seem easier to just give up, I know. Because I want to almost daily. But what keeps me going is the vision of my future. Even if I tried and failed to achieve it once before, all that failure really represents is a road map to my future success. I now know the pitfalls I have to avoid. And, if I got there once, chances are even better I can get there again.
A second chance. After all, two-twos always equal four....
"Two elevens turn two and two again. Never the twain, the twins, shall part. For, two-twos are four. February twenty-four. How long have I known thee? More lifetimes than there are words: Thee and me circle each other endlessly, tethered by an unbreakable thread. When in deep water you tread, hold on to that life line with all your might. Follow the light, and never again shall you fear the darkness of night. Separated at Earth...where shall we meet? In the middle to greet. But then there is a storm. Be forewarned. Jupiter is our cue. There is no one like you. Except me. Together, we are free."