07 April 2008

Getting outside of ourselves

*** Revised and published 27 Oct 2010 ***

I think some mohos balk when I say mohos tend to be self-absorbed. Perhaps I'm wrong, but aside from my own observations, I've had several friends from outside moho circles comment on how they like many of the mohos they've met, but they often seem really self-absorbed, stroking each other's legs and egos, largely ignoring the straight people in the room or topics of conversation straight people directly identify with, talking about themselves and their struggles more than asking about other people, etc. Of course, I've heard people say similarly things about other groups, like Mormons, or eating disorder support groups, or whatever. But I do suspect mohos are guilty of this, and I have trouble believing it's all about misperception. I think there's something to it.

I think there are reasons for that. I think we've grown up feeling alienated, marginalized, invalidated, misunderstood, and unacceptable. We've already been inflicting a lot of self-doubt and self-punishment for much of our lives. I think many of us have longed and wished for someone to just say, "you're OK. I love you as you are." I suspect most people need to hear that at some point. The problem is that after having found such a community where we can finally be ourselves and learn to fully accept ourselves, warts and all, we often go through a time when any sign of correction or caution is interpreted as lack of support or that old familiar "unacceptable" feeling.

It's almost like once we find a "home" with others like us, it's hard not to succumb to an overpowering sense of entitlement, like we get an exemption from correction because we've been so mistreated for so long. And that may be partially true: it's understandable and maybe necessary to take a step back and just get used to the idea of being "OK" or "lovable just as you are" for a while before getting back to the never-ending task of revising behaviors and thought patterns.

But though it may be hard to do, we need to get over our self-absorption and venture out of the soul-withering shelter of non-corrective social circles. That doesn't mean you have to believe everyone who challenges you is right, and you definitely should surround yourself with people who remind you that you're lovable and beautiful as you are, but if you're surrounded by people who insist you shouldn't have to change or adapt and who blame everyone else for your drama, or who always talks about themselves and the things they care about without digging in to other people's interests and passions, consider the possibility that you're in an incredibly self-absorbed crowd and could grow a lot more (and therefore find more happiness) by seeking other friends.

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