Once you see that a system is just a system, everything changes.
Once you see that the system is a man-made structure, an organization with a certain order and a certain set of priorities imposed upon reality rather than reality itself, you can’t unsee that.
You can’t trust a system again, ever, 100%.
You always have this knowing, back of your mind.
A hum, a reminder that these are man-made things. These are organized masses.
These are structures placed upon reality, subject to change, subject to corruption, subject to outgrowing their time, likely to outlast their usefulness.
There is a sadness and a weirdness that comes with this knowing.
There is a sadness because you’ve lost home. You’re an outcast now. You can’t lose yourself in the system, now that you know what it is. You have to face a reality you don’t know anything about.
You thought you knew reality. But you didn’t. You just knew a system. Now you feel deceived and you feel cheated because that system was presented to you as reality, and you trusted what you were given.
You didn’t know any better. It’s not your fault.
But now you do know better. If you keep pretending, now, it is your fault.
There’s some weight to that, isn’t there?
People who leave systems that were abusive or terrible to them may struggle with weird feelings. Like a longing to go back “home.” Missing something that felt safe (even if it wasn’t). Identity. Belonging. Predictability.
You might feel guilt over that longing to go back. You don’t want to go back (to the lies, to the limits, to the abuse, to whatever it was) but you miss feeling safe.
Of course you do.
We long for security. It is built into us. It is part of our survival mechanism. We are always looking for security, and most of us feel secure when there is a predictable order to reality.
Waking up to see that your reality is just a system (and maybe not a good one) is a great way to crush your sense of security.
Having your system crash and burn around you is also a good way to start feeling insecure.
Leaving your system (either on your own, or because you are forced out of it, or some combination), is an excellent way to demolish all sense of security and stability.
A system gives a predictable order to reality.
Inside a system, you can look around at people and support structures and roles and definitions and values and moral codes and formulas and choices and outcomes and say, with some sort of confidence, “I know what will happen here.”
Inside a system, you know your place and you know my place. You know your identity and you know my identity.
Inside a system, you know the rules and the consequences, you know the goals, you get what’s going on (even if you don’t like it).
You understand what reality is (inside the system) and because you understand it, you can predict what will happen. You know the future, to some degree, because you know that certain choices lead to certain outcomes, inside the system.
When that predictability is ripped away, so is your security.
There’s no more order. All the knowledge, that insider, system knowledge, doesn’t work out here. Certain choices may not lead to certain outcomes, after all.
It is shocking. It’s disorienting. It sends you whirling. It shakes everything up. It takes away your steady ground. It makes you feel dizzy and afraid and also, maybe, breathless with anticipation, to realize that reality is much bigger and much wilder and much less predictable than you knew.
It’s okay if you feel lost, and lonely. It’s okay if you miss something even though it wasn’t real and wasn’t good. Missing something doesn’t mean you want to go back to it. You can’t go back, anyway.
No matter how scared you are, once you’ve seen a bigger reality, you can’t go back.
Take heart, friend. There are many of us out here, and we are all together in this.