By: *Erin Davis, Guest Contributor
There is no simple approach to the painful and confusing complexities that are given when you’re dealing with loaded topics like mental health and gun laws. The mind is an iceberg, one that is unique to each person, its development an outcome of nature, nurture, chemistry, biology, genetics, and ultimately the relationship with oneself. This post is not by a psychologist, but by someone who was struck by the one word that came up nearly a hundred times in Elliot Rogers’s 138-page screed: love.
His story starts off like many privileged lives might read: one of travel, exploration, parental love, and innocence. In his words, he felt safe until puberty. He saw joy in the small things, kite flying with his dad, his grandmother’s peanut butter cookies, and quality time with his family. That beginning chapter is one many can relate to, a time when your immediate surroundings were all that mattered, where the “should’s” and external pressures of relationships with the “others” have not set in. This is the chapter where our own sense of self is enough, no one has told us isn't.
Then you grow a little older, and everyone begins telling you: you are not enough.
The unraveling that takes place chapter by chapter in Elliot Roger’s account of puberty and teen years is clear and we all know how the story ends. From age 14 through 22 his desperation for affirmation manifests outwards in the form of material things: first class flights, clothes, shoes, cars, and towards the end, the desperate hunt to win the lottery. In his mind only two things would make this life worth living: a woman to love him or enough money to buy the life he felt he deserved. He actually drove to Arizona, three times, to try and win the biggest lottery draw as a “last hope.”
His confused and tortured view on what love is supposed to look like was repeated in nearly every other paragraph. He clearly articulated his desire not to just have sex with a girl, to even rape a girl, or to hire a prostitute: he wanted to hold a girl, make love to one, “hold her until the sun rose” and ultimately feel deserving of love. His rant was laced with misogyny and blatant racism, there is no downplaying that; there is no downplaying the horrible actions that ended innocent lives and broke the hearts of families across America. There is also no downplaying that we are living in an epidemic of self-hate, and this doesn’t end at a white man, it transcends race, age, and geography.
Depression, suicide, anxiety, and the correlating medications for all of these states are at their historical high in the United States. We are desperately looking outwards for affirmations, which is an effective distraction to our relationship with ourselves.
Humans do not exist in silos. There is no event that is not connected to a bigger picture. We are a product of what we eat, the media we consume, the thoughts we think, the family we call our own, the historical place and time we are conceived, and the state of affairs during the 76-85 years (if we are lucky) we call life.
Our job as an interconnected society, whether we acknowledge it or not, is to go deeper than the story, the headline, the obvious. We need to notice the lack of self-love inside each one of us, however subtle, and recognize that it is a domino effect that can have irreversible consequences. At any given time our kindness to ourselves and others could change the world as we know it.
Understanding, connection, and communication MATTER!
- How can you practice more conscious listening and understanding in your life?
- How do you deal with loneliness? What would you say to a friend struggling with loneliness and isolation?
- Name three ways you practice self-kindness. Name three ways you are kind to others
*This writer wished to use the pen name "Erin Davis" for this article. She lives in California.