Friday, August 28, 2015

What the Heck Does It Mean to Be Whole?

We hear that expression a lot. I can’t count how many of those feel-good quotes I’ve seen on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere that have to do with ‘being who you are,’ ‘claiming your identity,’ and the blessed state of ‘being a whole person.’ These ideas usually revolve around one’s readiness to enter and maintain healthy relationships, or embracing the concept of going it alone.

I think the concept got a foothold in the sixties and seventies with self-help books like I’m Okay, You’re Okay*, and How to Be Your Own Best Friend**. There were others, of course, but those are two that I distinctly recall as a youngster—my mother even provided us with a copy of the latter during adolescence. I wish I had actually understood and applied what I'd read. Nevertheless, as a culture, we’ve been talking about ‘Being Whole’ for decades. 

The reason I’m now contemplating the issue is that when I boiled down the theme of the story I’m working on, the third in my Portraits series, this question—What does it mean to be whole?—keeps coming up.

For anyone who has read Portrait of a Girl Running and Portrait of a Protégé, you know I’ve put my protagonist, Leila, through the mill. Although she has had independence foisted upon her, she is living what appears to be a fulfilling life in a safe and nurturing environment with people who care about her, and with opportunities for personal and artistic growth. Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone. No, I don’t think I’m going to kill anyone off (at least not unless I have to, ha!), but let’s face it—Leila has a lot of unresolved issues about her upbringing, and especially about her mother. She’s been on an emotionally intense roller-coaster ride, but, just because her life seems to have finally leveled out, that does not mean she can side skirt those issues which have left her broken and with pieces missing. Yes, she’s having to confront the question: What the heck does it even mean to be whole?

I Googled the question, and aside from coming up with a lot of religious answers—valid as some may be, I’m not focusing on that route—there are so many opinions, a psychological and spiritual free-for-all! I have my own opinion, but I’m still shaping it. And I am very curious how other thoughtful people define it. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail (bridget at jbchicoine dot com) if you’d like to share!

*by Thomas Anthony Harris  **by Bernard Berkowitz, Jean Owen, and Mildred Newman

9 comments:

  1. I guess it simply means to be happy.

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  2. Hi Yvonne! Thanks for stopping by! I like the simplicity of how you look at the issue of "wholeness." For sure, wholeness and happiness are inextricably linked. Of course, it begs an answer to the question, How does one find happiness? especially given that so many of the things people think will make them happy are short-lived.

    Yeah, I know I'm over thinking it, but my protagonist is is really hammering me for specific answers! Ha!

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  3. To NOT be guided by anger... any simple thought that does the opposite...perhaps, for me at least. reckon

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  4. When a doctor says, "Here we treat the whole person, not just the disease". So they are saying the physical, the emotional, considering all ascepts of the need of the individual. So ,"whole',would be unique to that person. Some women don't feel whole until they are in a relationship and or married with children the house and all that comes with the American ideal of the perfect family all the while getting their emotional needs met. Some people feel their jobs or humanitarian work makes them feel whole . It's different for everyone. Everyone has desires and expectations that they feel if not fullfiled in life , would be a sucky incomplete ,unfulfilled ,whole life. So your not whole emotionally which transfers to physically and then of course sucide could follow. Suckie,Suckie, Suckie life !!!!

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    1. I know you give this sort of thing a lot of thought, Carla, and I really appreciate your point of view. Overall, yeah, I agree with you, but hopefully suicide doesn't have to follow a "suckie" life!

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    2. That's why thanksgiving and Christmas are times with high suicide rates. Try to get into see a psychologist or a psychiatrist around the holidays. Won't happen! They are trying to keep their clients alive. Because everyone they see are broken. And broken people with desires and expectations unfulfilled look at others during that family holiday time and say these people are loved, fullfiled, getting there emotional and physical needs meet . . What's wrong with me that I was born to be naked and beaten born to suffer . Job's mentality. Job became complete when suffered greatly and at end when his thinking changed from saying , ' I came out of the womb naked with nothing and that's the way I'll return', to praying for his 3 miserable comforters. Jesus became complete when after he suffered greatly at the hand for miserable hateful misguided religious leaders and then made the right choice not to betray jehovah to bloody ugly end. Complete people control themselves in the midst of horrible situations, Suckie situations, that adversely effects them to the point of losing everything even their own lives. Nothing external can cause them to cave in . They are well adjusted , see the big picture, and never give up hope , and see things through to the end without comprising their standards . They don't wallow in the murky degusting mire of the bad situation they were thrust into, they rise above it ,conquer it, even though it seems hopeless and the pain , physical and or mental is overwhelming . They know how they are and stick with it to the end. They will not compromise or give into the bad situation. They are survivors. But you know I never have an opinion. Luv u Curla

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    3. Amen to all that, sister! And I love how you never have an opinion!

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  5. Buy the way that's my answer, CArla, not Mike! HEE,HEE, HEE

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  6. YEP, I'm a Mouse, Mighty Mouse !!!! HEE HEE HEE

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