I almost learned the hard way how addicted I was to bullshit. My bullshit nearly killed me. For real.
Long story short, I kept a secret from myself for 45 years — that I was molested (twice) when I was 14. If I think of my hypomanic mind as a black box theater filled with projections (my thoughts), this memory sat in a file drawer in a closet in an office far at the back of the theater, up a long metal staircase. The memory glowed inside its drawer.
I always knew it was there.
That I denied this thing happened to me — that was bullshit. But it’s something that victims of sexual assault do as a survival strategy. We blame ourselves. It seems logical. And since it was our fault, we convince ourselves that we deserve every terrible thing that ever flows from it. I became so convinced this bullshit was true that I came within literal inches of killing myself.
I count myself extremely lucky. Between a magnificent therapist, a mood stabilizer (at a minimal dose) that keeps my depression caged and loads of THC to help get my hypomania focused (I highly recommend Durban Poison during the day — it delivers a smooth, even feeling of clear-headed mental energy), I get through my days with a high degree of happiness now. As I started to get healthy, I saw (to my horror) that not only had my own bullshit tried to kill me, my bullshit was undermining every other facet of my life, too.
From the moment I woke up in the morning, I was seeing the world through the bullshit color lenses I kept by my bedside and put on the instant I woke up. I breathed deeply the bullshit scented fumes rising from the piles of bullshit that I had left by my bed the night before. I thought things based on bullshit, did things based on bullshit, said things based on bullshit.
And I was shocked, shocked, I tell ya, when I got bullshit back in response.
Now, let’s be real. No one’s ever going to live 100% bullshit free. Bullshit is hardwired into our genome. Take bullshit away from us and there’d be no religion (not the worst thing that could happen to us). Take bullshit away from us and a lot of relationships would instantly metastasize and die. Take bullshit away from us and Donald Trump would be serving multiple life terms in a federal penitentiary already — alongside pretty much every single Republican.
Bullshit comes in 4 “flavors” or levels…
Level 1: Incidental Bullshit
- Your 5 year old asks if there’s Santa Claus; you say yes.
- It’s 6 am. You have to get up. You don’t want to. “Five more minutes,” you tell yourself – you won’t be late. Bullshit – you know damned well you’ll be late. You do it anyway.
- “One more spoonful of ice cream won’t matter to my diet/diabetes.”
- “Why did you look at me funny when I took one more spoonful of ice cream?”
- “Have a nice day” (no matter who says it, no matter why).
Incidental Bullshit is water off a duck’s back. Life’s just too short to get too hung up on this kind of low grade truthiness. It’s petty mostly. Meaningless and forgettable. However: This is the ‘shit’ that ‘happens’. It just does. What are any of us going to do about it? Nothing. Moving on…
Level 2: Tolerable Bullshit
- Your 10 year old – who’s starting to figure things out – asks if there’s a Santa Claus; you say yes.
- Your bff always brings a bottle of red wine when she comes over – except you drink white wine. What kind of guest is that? You could say something, but you don’t; you’ll keep the peace instead.
- You both know damned well whose turn it is to clean the bathroom – but you do it better anyway, so…
- “I love you” said under duress.
Tolerable Bullshit will challenge you occasionally – is it actually tolerable? Small doses – no problem. More than that? It could easily start to feel just like bullshit.
Level 3: Red Flag Warning Bullshit
- Your 20 year old asks – for real – if there’s a Santa Claus.
- “I don’t have a drinking problem.”
- “My phone’s battery died. No, really – I swear it!”
You know it in your gut – it ain’t right. It doesn’t add up or it just plain smells. This is the bullshit that leaves a mark – or worse. Deal with it now – you’ll probably be okay. Ignore the warning and this bullshit will likely morph into –
Level 4: Utter Bullshit
- “I alone can fix it.”
- “No collusion.”
- “I don’t deserve to be here”
This is the stuff that kills. It changes lives forever. And it’s bullshit.
Getting rid of our own bullshit is hard. You have to own it in order to get rid of it. Think of it as confession — except there’s no church. YOU are the church. YOU know where all your bodies are buried because YOU’RE the one who buried them.
Does living (or trying to live) bullshit free work? Yeah — it does. I’m so busy dealing with my own bullshit that I never have time to worry (let alone think about) anyone else’s bullshit. That means I don’t judge their bullshit anymore — they’re all as consumed & dominated by their bullshit as I am.
What do you have to lose — trying to live bullshit free — except your bullshit?