As the experience was playing out, I felt like shit. I mean, none of us like to be physically or verbally abused, right? Or do we?
Because, as much as I may have wanted to claim that I am a free-willed being, it took me months and years of being a punching bag for many of those I had called “friend” and who had called me “friend” before something finally snapped.
Revisiting the James situation, I just sat there and took all of James’ negativity. Rather than immediately standing up for myself or simply walking away (then or in any of the other 93,745,987 previous instances), I stayed planted exactly where I was. I remained in the same position as if I were physically glued there.
For months uncounted, I’d think of all the horrible ways I could get revenge on James “the next time” he’d treat me as subhuman. Fortunately I had enough common sense (and fear) to never actually try to hurt him. But you can bet the house, wife, boat, farm, dog, career, and first born that I’d never made more than a peep of distaste either (at least not to him).
So why the “stuckness”? If I was truly living my life as a being of free will, how in the world could I ever have found myself in the depths of a victimization hell?
Because some part of me was feasting on the suffering, that’s why. Because some sick part of me was actually enjoying it. The survival of “who I am” was dependent upon it.
It’s like the recurrent story of the man who beats his wife. After years of abuse, the woman finally builds up the courage to call the police. But when the lone officer shows up and gets in a tussle with the abusive man, the woman suddenly realizes: Hey! That’s my man! That’s my comfort zone! I’m a victim of abuse. It’s all I know. I fear anything different. What tragedy and discomfort to think of a life without abuse. When the cop turns his back, the woman cracks him over the head with a cast-iron skillet, killing him instantly.
Then there are those who work egregious overtime, hate their job, or both. They tell themselves and others: “It’s thrown my health down the drain. I’m so restless. When I try to sleep, I can’t sleep. My boss is a dick. I’m always stressed out. It’s good money, but it’s really taking its toll. It’s not making me happy.” Yada, yada, yada; I’m sure we can all come up with some personal favorites.
Yet we continue on this path. We tell ourselves and others our stories of desolation about how this, that, or the other aspect of life is destroying us, but we don’t do anything about it. We behave as if we have no power; as if someone else is responsible for making life-uplifting choices for us.
How old are we? 40? 60? 89 years old? And still we sit in the same general life situation that we did at 15 and 28.
Why are we so bent on the belief that someone external will clean up the problems we’ve generated internally?
Superficially we may rationalize that we have a tough life or we’ll just “grin and bear it” because everyone else has the same problems. And to an extent some of these things may be true.
But there’s something deeper. There’s something much deeper. Something down in the subconscious that we haven’t been willing to acknowledge. Hence, the title as a question—Free Will?—because we’re not actually living from free will but from subconscious urgings whose sway in our decision-making processes far outweighs that of the conscious mind; the same conscious mind that offers a highly believable suggestion that we are free when we are, in fact, in prison.
Recall what I’d written in “What Hurts You So—Part 1”:
“I’ve now come to realize that, whether me or James or Joe Whoever, we have not actually been behaving in conscious awareness. Instead, we’ve been acting on the dictates of unintegrated emotion which is triggered by subconscious beliefs about past experiences we’ve rejected or suppressed which were similar to the experiences we appear to be facing in any given moment.”
If we’re not living in conscious awareness, we’re not living a life of free will. We can’t be. For free will, obviously, means “a will that is free.” We are not truly free-willed if our thoughts, words, and actions in any given circumstance are unconscious, are determined by prior beliefs about “how things are” rather than on in-the-midst-of-a-situation acknowledgment of what is.