“Get a grip.” “Pull yourself together.” How often have you heard these phrases? More to the point, how often have you barked them at yourself when your world was disintegrating around you?
These are useless phrases, the outworn slogans of a dying patriarchy.
In Britain, this sentiment is typified by social pressure to ‘keep the upper lip stiff’—to not display any emotion, to carry on regardless in the face of adversity. In World War II Winston Churchill used to call this ‘KBO’—keep buggering on.
But if the adversity you face is a society that’s environmentally, economically and—above all—emotionally unsustainable, carrying on is the worst thing to do.
You’re losing your grip and falling apart precisely because you need to. You need to stop carrying on. You need to stop and stare into the darkness, and recognise that the darkness—toxic patriarchal programming—dwells within.
“Get a grip.” “Pull yourself together.” You’re losing your grip and falling apart precisely because you need to.
In The Politics of Experience, Laing describes a devastated emotional landscape with little difference between the insane and the supposedly sane: “What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience… our collusive madness is what we call sanity.”
Pull yourself together
When you try to pull yourself together you’re trying to extract a little more mileage out of this “collusive madness.” Try as long as you like. It won’t work.
As we start to experience our emotional selves falling apart we increasingly become aware of the “repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action” that are intrinsic to the patriarchal operating system.
This is a one-way road. Once you glimpse your own emotional fragmentation, you can’t un-see it. There’s no way back. You must plough on into the darkness. In Debugging the Universe, Laura Knight-Jadczyk writes that, “to eliminate the darkness you must focus on it.”
You will resist this. And you will resist with all your might. You would rather encounter anything other than the pain buried at the core of your being.
What is this pain? It is the pain of childhood trauma, of unprocessed traumas inherited from both recent and distant ancestors. Trauma arises when we have an experience that we cannot totally process in the moment it happens. If the trauma isn’t healed, we pass it on through epigenetic inheritance.
Your journey takes you into the heart of this trauma. This requires a ruthless streak, a willingness to be uncompromising. Every single part of your psyche must be pulled apart, cleansed of all judgment, and only then reassembled.
It may be easier to think of this as two journeys. American spiritual teacher Gary Zukav popularized the notion of ‘the journey from the head to the heart’.
But that only resolves the first imbalance that Laing identified—“heart severed from head.” The dissociation between the heart, head and genitals remains. I’ve written about this in The journey from the genitals to the heart.
This is why pulling ourselves apart is so hard. You can’t do it from your mind. You must solve problems at their source: think your way out of logic issues, feel your way out of emotional issues and screw your way out of sexual ones.
Only once you have totally pulled yourself apart can you pull yourself together.