Requiem for A Modern Leper

“I wrote a book and I will call it something cynical
The story’s slow; the hero does not change
And if he can then he won’t anyway
Instead his foes and lovers all become identical.

I fled the country,
I thought I’d leave this behind
But I built the same damn house
On every acre I could find”

– Typhoon, Dreams of Cannibalism

The Modern Leper has to go.  That part of me that was always itching to run away, to hide from his problems and partake in temporary comforts, can’t exist anymore.

I’ve got a lot of problems.  Actually, scratch that.  I’ve got a shit-ton of problems.  Chief among them are my insecurities.  When you grow up hating yourself it’s hard to imagine anyone else feeling any differently.  Even the people who claim to like you are suspect.  You begin to wonder if it’s some big game, if they’re not just playing audience to the latest pity parade.  Every awkward silence, every cancelled hangout and every unanswered text fill your mind with dark whispers of inadequacy and doubt.

I used to think I needed The Modern Leper.  I thought he saved me from a life of broken, hollow relationships and constant nagging anxiety.  He chopped off the sickly bits, amputated all the infected friendships from my life, saving the rest from corruption.  I thought that by hopping from relationship to relationship, from friend group to friend group I might eventually shake the sickness.  But those relationships were never the problem.  I was the problem.  The sickness was always in me, and my relationships with those people were simply symptoms of the disease, not the origin.  You can’t cure something that’s inside of you by running away from it.  You need to face it head-on.

I don’t want to be constantly pining for attention and compliments to reassure myself that I’m wanted.  I don’t want to depend on other people for my own sense of self-worth.  I need to stop running away from my problems, and for that to happen The Modern Leper needs to die.  I don’t know what will remain when he’s gone, hell I don’t even know that I’ll be able to shake him at all.  But I need to try.

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22 thoughts on “Requiem for A Modern Leper

  1. I grew up the same, reaped the same consequences but ended up in a slightly different predicament. Never the less, much of this is eerily familiar. It sounds as though you’re figuring things out quite nicely :)

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      1. A constant war rather than daily battles, eh? I like that notion, although I suspect a lot of people (myself included) have trouble with getting past the “one day at a time” mindset. It can be daunting to look at the big picture.
        I am quite liking your comments so far! I won’t be back on here until sometime tomorrow (ideally), but don’t worry; you’ve piqued my interest and I’ll be sure to check out your blog soon! I hope to see you around :)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I promise I was only slightly worried! ;)
        I love one day at a time ideals, ‘a new sun rises for me’ helps me realize that we can begin again so to speak. It’s actually a tattoo I have haha
        But I’m a big picture thinker by nature, I can’t help it! Lol

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  2. My advice is to practice outward view, outward attention. Of course, caring about people and things outside of yourself can’t be forced, so the way to begin is to simply meditate on something other than yourself or your problems or even your joys — daily, mind you, we’re talking about using the brain’s neuroplasticity to change thinking patterns. The ego is a tricky bastard. We’ve been led to believe that the destructive or at least undesirable effects of it are always expressed as arrogance or conceit. But self-hatred arises from the same exact place: inward but unmindful focus.

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    1. This is solid advice, but I’m afraid I may need more. Any suggestions as to what I should focus on? I mean, couldn’t it be argued that everything you do and think is done and thought about from a selfish perspective? If I’m trying to meditate on something other than myself for the express purpose of furthering my own development as an individual, isn’t that still selfish?

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      1. Don’t overthink it, that will make it impossible. To me, meditation is any practice that has the potential to make you forget yourself. Sitting lotus-style with your hands in a mudra chanting shit in some Eastern language isn’t necessary. Just sit and watch your thoughts. They won’t go away, so the best you can do is watch them come and go without attachment to them. If an angry thought arises, let it, then let it go — don’t start thinking about the situation that engendered the anger. Same for nice thoughts. You’ll experience moments of panic, abject fear. That’s a good thing. Don’t shrink from it or intentionally think happy thoughts. Embrace the feeling, not the story behind it (and definitely don’t question why any of these feelings arise — they just do). When you can just sit with anger or fear or sadness, you’ll find quite quickly that the actual feelings have no substance. And they only stick around when you make them – either by attaching to them or shielding yourself from them. That’s the whole secret: emotions are as fleeting as passing clouds. They materialize then they disintegrate. But you need to experience what it’s like to allow that to happen. Eventually, in the midst of day to day life, you’ll start remembering this automatically, greatly reducing the potential for traumatic mindsets.

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      2. This could be a post in itself- and I don’t mean because it’s long. I recognise certain phrases and terms, and the general idea is one I know you’ve talked about before, but this is a nice, bite-sized version. I think I might have to start reading this over on a regular basis just to try and internalise what it is you’re saying.

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      3. While this can be done in spare moments throughout the day, when doing it as a meditation practice, there are 2 things that are kind of important: back straight. Sit comfortably, but don’t slouch or lean back on a sofa. And breathing — that should be the initial focus to stop the mind’s speeding. Get a rhythm going – deep in-breath through the nose, brief hold, slow out-breath through the mouth. Both of these things help to avoid lapsing into a mere “zone out”, among other things.

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      4. That bit about slouching may pose a problem considering I’m stuck in a permanent slouch due to the kyphosis, but I’ll try it!
        I read a book once that had an interesting bit on meditation (mind you the book wasn’t actually about meditation), if you wanted to check it out. It’s a pretty good book, although it does have a predecessor that I’m pretty sure you have to read first. Now that I think about it reading 2 books just to get to 1 chapter seems kind of ridiculous, so maybe not.

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  3. I knew Paul would be able to put it in a nutshell. Thanks, Paul. For all the Buddhadharma I spout, the best practical tool I know of is an App called Headspace. It offers a free daily exercise routine that is as close to the synopsis Paul gives for the practice of meditation as I’ve ever found online. It cuts past the hocus pocus right to the simple breathing and thought inspection without commitment. Don’t buy anything. The 10-day free course is all you need to get started. I used the phone App, but there’s also a webpage source that should be just as good. https://www.headspace.com

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      1. Alright, I’ve just given it my first go. For some reason I had a fit of giggles at the beginning, but these eventually tapered off. I also had trouble keeping my eyes shut -my eyelashes kept fluttering open involuntarily- but other than those two things I think it went pretty well.
        Usually my mind’s a whirlwind of chaotic and disorderly thoughts, and when I’ve tried meditation in the past this always posed a problem, but listening to the guy talk me through it gave me something to focus on and kept them at bay.

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      2. There you go! Yeah, the guy’s voice is enough to make you giggle. It helped me to Google him. Andy Puddicombe. Those discomforts are the hurdles we go through while meditating. The idea is to calmly bring the focus back. When you’re in a good place, let the thoughts go.

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