The Disavowing of Self as a Thirteen Year-Old Solider Boy

Updated: May 31, 2018

This was originally written in December 2013.

In the summer of 1985, when I was a twelve year-old heading into seventh grade, my parents enrolled me in a two-week overnight camp, called Camp Grady Spruce, located in Texas. We had just moved back to Dallas after a three year stint in Wichita Falls, an "economically challenged" Texas city bordering Oklahoma. My parents needed some time away from us kids (except my little bother, who was too young to 'go away') to unpack and unwind.

This marked the first time I was to spend any length of time away from home for more than a few days, and, for some inexplicable reason, I couldn't bare the thought of being away from home and my parents for that long. Imagining myself away from them just filled me with terror.

The time at that camp were the longest two weeks of my life, and probably of all the councilors' as well. Every day, for that first week, the pain of the separation from my parents and of being placed in a completely unfamiliar setting under the mercy of strangers made me bawl.

I begged the councilors to let me call my parents to come pick me up and wrote several letters (which my parents still have), explaining in detail about how unhappy I was, all the while wondering why the hell hadn't they picked me up already. The camp directors even called them and asked if they wanted to come get me, but my parents refused (and wisely didn't inform me of this phone call until I was way into adulthood). Even visits from my sister from the girls' camp only helped a little.

So why was this event so traumatic for me? Why, as the years passed, did I dread going to school, not wanting to be away from home? Part of it was due to my being bullied more and more, but I was so scared of standing up for myself for fear of being beaten. I realized that if I became a people-pleaser, I wasn't hurt. I avoided pain.

This transferred to my working life, where I wanted to work from home. It's been my place of power, and when I'm stuck in an office all day, I get very antsy. My productivity goes down, and my enjoyment of the job plummets as well. In previous jobs, I used to look out the window and see cars passing by and get envy of their mobility. Whether or not they were working or whatever, it didn't matter. I wanted to be as free as I imagined them to be.

Around October of 2013, I decided to do a meditation to get to the root of this issue. At the time, I had a very stressful job in a very cold, corporate environment. I was originally told I could work from home most of the time, but that ended up not being the case. And my relationship with my boss started out pretty bad and only got worse. During the time of all this, we were under a lot of pressure to fix and deliver a broken web application. He had become very demanding and his behavior started to become intolerable. I had such anger and hatred for him, but I felt stuck because I needed to stick with the job.

At the beginning of the meditation, I found myself a few hundred yards from a farm house, in the middle of the night, perhaps in Europe during the peak of ancient Rome or Greece. A warm, golden glow permeated and surrounded it, and when I focused on it, I felt loved and at peace.

However, I soon realized that the house was just a memory, one of a thirteen year-old boy, who had just been snatched from his family and forced to join the army. The cold night air he stood in among dozens of other boys brought with it a strong sense of desolation and separation.

In this army, any sense of self-worth, autonomy, or self-Love was literally beaten out of him, and he was shamed, humiliated, and punished for showing any of these traits. This shame and humiliation that he felt for wanting to be Who He Was and deriving his sense of Self from his heart became so great that he eventually gave in and he disowned his true Self...pushed It away, and replaced it with an identity and worth given to him by the 'love' and acceptance of those outside of himself: his troop members, his commanding officers, his leaders, his countrymen.

Life was structured. Completely. Every day was the same. No room for creativity. No tolerance of it. Failure at tasks was not an option, no matter how difficult and complicated.
 "Do what you're told. Don't question orders. Keep your head down."

I felt this boy's jealously whenever he would see a kid that didn't share his prisoned life. Perhaps this other kid was enjoying eating a treat, or happily walking down the street with his parents or friends.

I could see how in this life, that has carried with me, especially from the time I was around twelve years old through adulthood. I began to lose my sense of Self and started replacing it with a strong need to please others, to derive my sense of self-worth and self-love through the acceptance and 'love' of me through other people. I hated confrontation. I became extremely fearful of the disappointment of others, but I also resented them for having to do things I hated in order to please them.

This boy's seeking love and acceptance outside of himself carried with me into this life, along with his deep sense of guilt and shame. I continued looking for love, self-worth, and acceptance through other people, such as my boss, and that only got me pain. I stayed unwilling to give myself the love I needed. I didn't deserve it. Someone else had to give me that love.

And, at least in my case, it isn't possible. At all.

That realization finally hit home...I mean, really hit home, thanks to a dream I had in which I was chased by an ever increasing number of giant, black-as-night beetles. In the dream, I had the ability to walk and see through walls, so I knew where they were and could phase through walls/floor if I needed to.

At first, they were few in number, their clicking a barely audible noise. But, as I ran from them, they multiplied, and their collective clicking became deafening. Every room I saw into had more and more of these things until finally I reached a nondescript, empty square room. The noise of these insects became deafening, and when I peeked through the walls, all of the walls, I saw hoards of the things, packed into each room like sardines. So much so that some parts were 'sticking out' of the walls, akin to clipping in a video game.

It was then that I realized I had no where left to run. No where to go. It was a simple realization. No fear. No panic. Just calm understanding.

Then I woke up and knew the significance of the dream. I could try to run from myself, from my creations, from my problems, as much as I wanted. I could run and run and run, year after year, lifetime after lifetime, through all sorts of means and ways to distract myself, but in reality, there was no place to run. I'd face the same problem just in a different skin or situation. It would never end unless I truly faced myself.

The next few days, as problems with my boss and my job continued to escalate, I actually heard the clicking noise of the insects whenever I thought of my boss, my work situation, and soon as I thought of anything.

This relationship with my boss was showing me that no one can give me the love I desire. Some can and will try (as with my family), and I will love them for that. But those that don't/can't, and cause me pain, I will despise and try to hurt. Like the insect monsters in my dream have shown me, there is no where for me to run. There is no where outside of me that I can find that Love that I so desperately crave. And that little boy who was torn from his family and put into such dark, void, unloving circumstances, so desperately desires someone outside of him to show him Love.

And the block that I came up against was that his desperation is mine. The thought/idea of me being capable of creating Love for myself (and that boy) was met with a lot of resistance.

Since then, I have worked on literally creating Love for myself. Creating it out of nothing but just my will and intention. It's a slow, but steady process.

So, why then, did I go through all this? Why so much suffering and pain? Why go through the separation process to begin with?

When I meditated on that, my heart responded that I chose to experience what it was like to be separated from my true self. In this reality of deep separation, with the connection to the Oneness forgotten, anything is possible. All sorts of mannerisms can be played with to paint a life: love, cruelty, kindness, fear, mistrust, betrayal. This leads to all sorts of experiences, a lot of them extremely painful, and a lot of them extremely joyous and pleasurable.

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