Peering Your Peers

Peering Your Peers

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Wooohooooo…Ramblings of a mad man!!!

September 28, 2011 , , , , , , ,

Sometimes I believe that I am the only person in this world that over does it.  That stresses himself out just by waking up sometimes.  I don’t mean in a depressed way but in a tired way.  Like I have found a living death in the daily routines of my life.  Slow and agonizing in its own way, it seems to drag every ounce of uniqueness out of me until I fit that mold of conformity.

Now don’t get me wrong you may be the most unusual person in the world and will keep that uniqueness till the day you die but for me a lot of my uniqueness was, in itself, unique.   Related directly to the life I lived as an addict.  I knew how to function in that environment, I felt comfortable in situations that would leave other people full of fear or terror.  I not only survived in that world but I thrived in it.  I enjoyed passing my knowledge on to others in the same lifestyle.  I was their peer.  I was respected, even the people who didn’t like me, respect me.

I was downtown yesterday, wearing dress pants and a collared shirt.  Sitting with some of my old peers and seeing the disdain in their eyes.  I remember, I was there at one time, anyone that leaves that lifestyle becomes an outsider.  I have to face reality, it is no longer possible for me to call myself their peer because I am not their peer.  I no longer live on the street, I no longer deal with the same issues day and night.  I have moved on, recreated myself to reflect a new person with new goals in life.  Ya I can still talk the talk but I no longer walk the walk and it is obvious just by looking at me.

So where does that leave me?  In escaping that peer group then what peer group have I entered?  I feel like I am in limbo, caught between a bad place and a tolerable place.  Okay, maybe not that severe.  I understand the social interactions of this level, or “class”, plainly enough.  I find it quite simple to comprehend that this level of society has developed a mostly reason based approach to social interactions based in actuality and fact, although at times it may be misconceived.

It is these basic characteristics that change though as you move around our social society.  I really dislike the terms “up” and “down” when referring to social levels because that “leveling system” is based solely on money (either directly or indirectly).  In my experience some of the best human beings that you could meet live in poverty.  Personally I believe it is unilateral movement with some extreme differences.

Sometimes I think that some of my past disdain for this “social ladder” caused me to make decisions that were detrimental to my ability to function in the life I created for myself.  I allowed myself to “put vaseline on the lens” of my life thus allowing myself to see what lays ahead in a misconstrued manner.  Why would I want to see clearly something that I found repulsive?  All my life I have attempted to put a ‘paper bag’ over the head of society, unwilling to look it in the face and when I realized I couldn’t,  I put it over my own face through the use of drugs and my high risk lifestyle.

I no longer wear that ‘bag’ over my head.  I am no longer willing to ‘put vaseline over the lens’ of life.  I want to ‘see’ the truth.  I want to be able to experience this new life to the fullest.  I wish to be able to properly guide my children through life until the day they are ready to leave the nest and fly on their own.  While I do that I will continue to try to find my place in this new world that I have chosen to join.  Identifying my peer group and building strong and lasting friendships is one of my utmost goals at the present moment.

For now though I stare wide-eyed at this new world.  Like a newborn, seeing images for the first time.  Curious yet apprehensive I explore this newfound social status.  Watching, learning, incorporating what I see into my own life, a reflection of the peers I choose to surround myself with.  I continue recreating myself.  I feel at times like a newcomer to this culture.  Lost and alone I look around for others like myself so that I can find some sense of community or belonging.  A peer group for myself, a sounding board that understands my limitations and what I have to do to overcome my past.

I fight desperately to hold onto some aspect of my self-identity.  I don’t want to lose myself in this new world or get swallowed by it.  I want to hold onto some aspect of my unique identity, just what parts of my uniqueness I can incorporate into my new image remains to be seen.  This new level of society is so critical of each other it sickens me.  Every day I do or say at least one thing that causes people to give me a strange look or to pretend they don’t know me or to treat me like I don’t matter when someone else is around.  I no longer get to live for myself.

I don’t just have to worry about whether or not I can sleep at night, now I have to worry about whether my actions will allow the person beside me to sleep well tonight.  I know that sounds a little insane so let me explain.  Last week I was talking to the director of such and such a place on the street and one of my homeless clients walked up to us, I shake the clients hand and give them a hug and they continue on their way.  As I turn back to the “professional” I see the look in his eyes that says “..I can’t believe you just touched that person with the same hand you touched me with..”.  Our conversation quickly wraps up after that and the “professional” reluctantly shakes my offered hand again and hurry’s off.  Later in the day I get an email from another person in this “professionals” office giving me a friendly heads up that from now on I should practice discretion as to who I acknowledge when I am interacting with people of this “professionals” stature.  The next day I run into this “professional” again, he looks harried and he walks up and asks me if I have scabies or any weird rashes and states he didn’t sleep well cause he was itchy all night.  Really? People actually think like this? This makes me wonder whether or not I want to ‘fit’ in if this is what I must become.  Needless to say, this “professional” can go stick it up his ass and I had to bite my tongue not to tell him so.
When I think about it I wonder how people can be so two-faced.  I know a lot of ‘Social Workers’ they get paid to help disadvantaged persons, but as soon as they are off work they want nothing to do with these clients, sometimes going to great extents to avoid those people.  I guess it is one thing to help them because you are paid to and another to hep them because you want to or to acknowledge them around certain peers.  Sometimes I still wish I didn’t have to face reality, unfortunately by hiding my face all I am doing to feeding the stigma’s that are rampant in society.

So for now I continue on, trudging through life, unwilling to give up or give in.  Trying my best to balance my personal beliefs and those that society says I must have.  I keep reminding myself not to let things bother me but they still do.  You can not tell a person you care about them and then say “…Dont approach me in public…”.  My personal view is that if you are in a field of social work where you are dealing with ‘undesirable’ individuals and you feel uncomfortable with a client walking up to you and giving you a hug in public, then you have chosen the wrong career.

I digress though.  Today I struggle with my identity and fight to hold onto my uniqueness.  I will succeed.  In the future I will be able to look back and say, just like Frank Sinatra says in one of his famous songs, “…I did it my way…”.

Now which way that is I gotta figure out…

NOTE:  Ouch my brain hurts now….

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