Photo by Phinehas Narra on Unsplash

Peering into the Well – Distorted Reflection

There is a psychological concept known as locus of control. I am again approaching this is a lay person, but the basic idea is that some people believe that the control over their actions and their lives is within themselves and some people believe it is outside of themselves. If I recall correctly, there is a sort of sliding scale to it. Some people believe they control everything and some people believe they control nothing. I think most healthy people are somewhere closer to “they are in control of their actions” but also recognize that there are outside forces over which they have no control.

Julian, the Other Me

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about Julian. I brought him up to my wife the other night, in preparation for writing this and she hadn’t heard me say anything about him before. I mentioned previously that when I was around seven-years-old, I heard about the subconscious and the unconscious mind. Hearing about that had a funny effect on me. (NOW where is my locus of control!)

I have never been lucky. Things have often not gone my way. It would not be inaccurate to say I have been through a lot in my life. I think I am mostly good, though. Obviously, I am not well-adjusted in some ways, otherwise I would not be writing this. I since abandoned notions of luck and instead try to make my way through this imperfect world where there are always variable I might overlook. When I was younger, I believed in luck and I believed that I had bad luck. Almost as soon as I learned about the subconscious, I identified mine as an antagonistic force. I named this other me Julian after an evil character in a cartoon at the time. My conception of the subconscious was that it really was another me and that this other me had its own agenda. For some reason, I believed that Julian wanted me to suffer. I believed he was the source of my bad luck and (somehow at that age) I had (already) come to know about sabotage and convinced myself that Julian was causing me to self-sabotage to make life worse for me.

Looking back I see my belief in Julian as a manifestation of the fact that as a young child I didn’t see myself as being in control of my actions. I saw myself at the mercy of another and perhaps since I didn’t have an obvious other to put the blame on, I decided it was this other part of me. If Julian was responsible for everything wrong in my life that meant that I wasn’t. I could enable myself to be a victim of this unassailable enemy. If this other me was trapped inside my mind and inside my body I had no way to fight him. I had no control over my misfortunes because while he was powerful enough to reach beyond “Matthew,” I imagined that I couldn’t reach back to him. Putting this into words is helping me to see what a flimsy self-deception was able to work on me. There really is a plot hole so to speak in my perception of how this other me was able to operate. I never did win out over Julian. I never lost either. Well maybe I did. I cannot remember when I stopped thinking about Julian and how he affected my life. I wonder what that means.

A Broken Mirror Holds Some Truths

It is hard to accept blame for what we have done or what others have made us feel is our doing. I know that my mistakes are mine and that my life is one of many in a complex interconnected web, each node bearing on the next and the next so that the origin of any traumatic event in our lives is near impossible to trace. Perhaps tracing it back is fruitless. I don’t care who hurt me or why or how because what matters is now. What I will do in the moment. This moment. Each moment.

Looking into my history doesn’t run counter to that. I am not looking for excuses in my past. I have already taken steps to move forward. I am working to make myself into my ideal self: unshackled from anger, relaxed enough to go with the flow, firm in my commitment to be kind and pursue peace in all circumstances. Julian was my excuse for so much for too long. I think he faded away because I was self-conscious about having identified this other me as I got older. I think that was a mistake. In some ways, I wish I had held onto Julian. Maybe he could have shown me things I refused to see for years. Perhaps in letting him go, I really did become my own worse enemy.

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