By Michael Jarzabek
My wife and I were recently having a discussion where we talked about my tendency to try to be everything to everyone.
A lifetime of ADHD (mostly untreated) has made it hard for me to say no. After a lifetime of suffering the consequences of continually letting people down I’ve learned to try to overcompensate and please the people my life. My fear of abandonment only serves to amplify the need to please everyone so that I don’t end up alone.
I’ve recently included in “The Mason With a Thousand Faces” presentation a part exploring the dismemberment of Jepthah who was a judge in Israel and a soldier asked to defend a nation in their time of need. I invite you to research the story of him sacrificing his own daughter to please the family that had cast him aside as a child.
As punishment for this action he is dismembered piece by piece until he eventually dies.
I understood this reference intellectually but until the conversation with my wife I didn’t understand it emotionally.
As a reading teacher Beth has a love for and a great skill in metaphor. Her use of descriptive language to describe emotions often leaves me in awe.
In this conversation she described how I tend to let people and organizations rip pieces of flesh from me until I have nothing left for myself or family. I had a teacher that once described my tendency to chase multiple holes in the boat I was in by plugging them one at a time never really stopping the flow of water and causing me to sink.
Wow! Mind blown! Point red team!
While this has some very important lessons for me it also makes me think of others. I’m not the only one who experiences this. The suffering of others make my struggles seem almost insignificant. Today being Veteran’s Day amplifies this concept.
Dismemberment is a very common mythological, spiritual, and religious theme. Osiris, Prometheus, Ouranos, Kronos, Dionysus, Jesus, Hiram, Anakin, Luke, Voldemort, Iron Man…
It’s common because it’s a deep archetype of the human condition. In fact, in early Freemasonry a man wasn’t allowed to take the degrees if he was missing a body part. It was thought that if the body wasn’t whole than a man couldn’t attain perfection.
If we extend the metaphor to the emotional and the spiritual this concept takes on further meaning. In our culture boys are taught to suppress compassion in favor of competition. Men are what we build. We have a very physical connection to the world. Likewise, women are what they nurture. I’m not favoring one over the other. They are both important I’m simply pointing out that Men’s connection to the world is through their strength. When this is taken from them, they are often considered less than. In the stories of Ouranos, Kronos, and Osiris they lose the ability to create due to the mutilations they endure. The physical metaphor is an allusion to the emotional and spiritual aspects of the human condition.
How many men and women have proudly gone to defend our values and country only to come back permanently scarred and dismembered both physically and emotionally. Like Jepthah they sacrificed themselves to protect their families and communities whether those families deserved it or not. The Veteran suicide rate is currently 1.5 times more frequent than the general population. More than six thousand veterans take their own life each year. Many more live on suffering in silence.
This post isn’t about me. This post is dedicated to all those that came home leaving a piece of them behind. It’s dedicated to those who proudly soldier on while suffering in silence. It’s dedicated to the hero too proud to ask for help.
You’re not alone, you’re not less than or weak, and you don’t need to earn our love.