By far one of the main human drives is to have a healthy sense of belonging. With family, friends, tribe and beyond. It could be said to be a necessity if one is to have the true experience of being a whole human. Sadly, our societies have largely set up systems that are devoid of mature adults to gather and guide the young, and so the young are left to raise one another. When this happens, we end up with people who never really grow up. How could a child have any idea how to raise another child?
Instead of a sense of belonging that is steeped in a deep experience of family and friendship, as would be modeled by actual present and mature adults, the void left in their absence is filled with the fears of childhood abandonment fueled with the faction-forming hormones of adolescent emergence and directed by media fashions and trends that lure us with notions of powerful identity yet deliver only on the surface. In this crisis of belonging, we bond with others through our trauma, and we carry such habits into our adulthood.
Nostalgia has a way of blocking the reality of the past.
― Shannon L. Alder
In our adolescent process, we could be discovering who we are and who we are not so that we become adults with a clear sense of self and life direction. Instead, we cling desperately to whoever shows us a certainty we desire, finding images in the media to measure ourselves against and relying desperately on the validation of those others who we connect with through this suffering that wears the mask of “normal.” With such misguided patterning implanted and encouraged, we become adults with the drives, inquiries and concerns of our adolescence left unresolved. Left wanting.
Such abandonment, when unattended too, festers in the psyche and becomes central to our sense of self. “Who am I?” is a question we begin to answer with a list of abandonments, betrayals and other forms of victimhood. This is not to say that these things did not happen and that we do not deserve the attention, from ourselves and others, to find healing in them. We do deserve that. But instead of direction from elders who know how to heal these wounds, we are sold a sense of power in having an identity that is formed from our wounds.
Misery Loves Company
For many, our sense of victimhood is so central to our sense of adult self that we seek out others with whom to share it. Our closest “friends” are those that will commiserate with us ad nauseam. We meet to bemoan our existences in a sort of competition of who’s got it worse and who, or what is to blame for our suffering. We tell ourselves that it is healthy, that we are just venting. But when it is omnipresent in one’s social life it is nothing so healthy as a much-needed rant. It is instead a compulsive feeding and validation of the negativity which in turn is feeding on us.
We may restrict this bond to just one or a few of those closest, most “like” us. But we may also form tribes of such negative peer bonding. We see this in gangs, political parties, religions and social media. When we come to understand how our addiction to misery, as a group, has us blinded to our better natures, it becomes clear how our world has gotten so off track.
A Culture of Victimhood
None of this is saying that any given person has not been victimized. Many, many are. Perhaps all of us in one way or another, to one degree or another. But a victim, given the community and other resources needed to address their plight, can turn their wounds into the stones that pave their path of soul. Without such education and community support, however, we are thrown into the melting pot of wounding that is society. We find our place on the spectrum of tyrants to serfs, playing out the control dramas born of our forsaken, unresolved youth.
We build ideologies on our loss. We build empires on our lack. And we cloister with those who feel the same as we do, or even the opposite, to feed on and feed our and others’ suffering through how we talk with one other. We cannot hope to change the structures of society that reinforce our abandonment, or even our personal relations if we do not see-through and address our training and addictions to such folly.
Suggested Divinatory Meanings
How am I indulging in my own suffering?
How am I enjoying the suffering of others?
How am I encouraging others to reinforce their suffering?
Am I bonding with others through loss in a way that amplifies that loss?
Are my social connections based on commiseration?
Am I identifying with my wounds in such a way that keeps me, or others, from healing?
Do I see a pattern of self-reflective suffering that is draining rather than releasing?
Can I commiserate with another without losing myself in the misery of it?
Who would I be if I no longer identified with my losses?
Do I have negative communication patterns that I can leave behind?