Freedom is a Feeling
I don’t think that absolute freedom exists. We are all held back by a lot of different things, and our choices are always limited. Those limits are defined by who we are, what our values are, where we live, our privileges and misfortunes, and by circumstances. It is the same with free will. I am all about nihilistic existentialism: there is no free will. We are prisoners of the ways of the world. We can’t get out of the box we are born in: we are born, we live, we die. There is no control over what others do to us, we can’t control what happens in the world during our lifetime. From the moment we are born, our choices are limited. And even when we experience something as freedom, it is a freedom that is dictated by circumstances.
The Concept of Freedom
I don’t think that the “thing” freedom exists. Logically, there is no way. No one of has control over the universe’s laws, over other people’s behaviours and decisions. We are always pushed into corners where we can pick from a limited amount of possibilities that we didn’t create nor agreed on. And whatever we decide in the moment, might not make sense to us later, but in the moment, it is all we can see because we are prisoners of who we are.
This view has helped me quite a lot with understanding my past Every mistake I have made in my life is based on what made sense to me in that moment. I wasn’t able to look outside the box. Let me give you an example. Many trauma survivors struggle with feelings of guilt and self-blame. We think we could have done something to avoid the trauma, we could have reached out, stopped it somehow. So it must be our fault that things happened and in a lot of cases, continued. In retrospect, we see all those possibilities we could have had. And we get angry at ourselves for not having seen those options in the traumatic situation.
But we were in a box that we didn’t create. We were scared, our focus was on survival in the situation. Helplessness and hopelessness. We were not free to choose, or even see all possibilities. We had to prioritize our survival.
Some people are privileged enough to live shielded, healthy, financially stable lives. So they might have more freedoms in all different areas of life. They don’t need to focus on survival, or even fitting in. This leads me to think that the concept of freedom is on a spectrum of possibilities and limits. Some people have more option and are able to be in a headspace to see all those options too. Others are so limited by circumstances and their own struggles, that freedom is not something they experience. But it is not only that. It is also about the area of life: sex, love, political opinions, you name it. Not everyone has the same freedoms, not everyone lives in the exact same box.
Freedom is a Feeling
So I don’t think the concept of freedom is generally something that I want to subscribe to. I think when we talk about freedom, it is not literally the freedom that we have, but it is the freedom that we feel. Freedom is a feeling! You can be in the most limited circumstances and feel helpless and hopeless, but you can still find ways in which to feel free, uncontrolled, unrestrained. Schopenhauer said once that we are all bound by the wills of the world: basically survival of our species and the unavoidable need to survive. We are all limited to that. But for him, the beauty of the world still exists in art. It is by losing ourselves in art, we can feel that life is worth living, and can forget about the bleakness of our existence.
I think it is the same with the feeling of freedom. We might feel like we are pushed into a corner by circumstances, our own limitations, demands and expectations. But we all can find moments and situations were we feel free and unrestrained.
I personally feel like I have little control over much in my life. I also recognize that I have spaces where I can seem free to others. But I think it is more that I am open about things, instead of there being a feeling of freedom Is that a privilege that I have? I can show my face, I can be open about my opinions and sex life. I don’t have to fear judgment or repercussions. Well, or so others think.
In reality, I don’t feel free at all. I am forever restrained by my past. Because of my trauma, I will never be who I would have been if I had a healthy start in life. I am forever restricted by the conditioned behaviour coming from the abuse, my fragmented mind created by the trauma, the overwhelming emotions I constantly feel. There are other things that tie me down: my other mental illnesses, my physical illnesses, my financial situation, my lack of a support system, And the list goes on.
So when you see me using my freedom on this blog, it is not that simple. I publish a post and the first feeling that hits me is: fear. What if he finds my blog? What if he has already found my blog and he is on his way to Canada to kill me because I have become the whore he had always known I was, and I bring shame over the family? My father, my abuser, is a conservative Iranian. As long as he lives. I will be restrained by my fear of him. This is just one example of how I really never feel free, even if I seem to be using my freedom to express myself.
But there are moments when I feel free. Just like Schopenhauer, I like fleeing into things that bring me joy and a feeling of freedom, although those feelings might just be short lived. The strongest feeling of freedom I experience in subspace. That means that my mind is floating under the control of my Master. I feel this immense trust for him, this need to be under his control, and when he takes over and pushes me into a space where I am totally his, that is when I feel free. That feeling is very strongly linked to feeling safe. I almost never feel safe, but with him, I do.
Another kind of feeling of freedom that I experience has to do with music. When I listen to music that I love and close my eyes, I feel free. I disappear into the sound, nothing else matters. Just me and the music. I love listening to music with my earphones and just walked outside. The world around me doesn’t matter. I just walk and walk while being in symbiosis with the music I am listening to.
I don’t believe in the idea of having freedom. It is something that many of us need to think exists though. We don’t want to feel lost in a world where we really don’t have a lot of control over anything. But we can definitely feel free, and that is maybe the most important aspect of it all. Even if none of us is ever truly free, we can feel free. And there is something very beautiful in that.