Anomie

alameleadership.com, reporter and the girl, anomie, emile durkheim, inner strength, inspirational quotes, mahatma gandhi, interracial couples, break up, moving on, depression

So this week has been interesting to say the least.

Since last week (week of the 13th) forecasters predicted cloudy skies for the work week and a bright weekend. I was particularly following this because the weekend of May 18th, I had an outdoor event with my job and was hoping for nice weather. But instead it was cloudy grey and it rained off and on. It didn’t cancel the event, but made it that less enjoyable.

Call it my so-so luck.

Definitely wasn’t a lucky day, or the event would have gone better, but at least it wasn’t a disaster either. But the so-so luck continued through the week, with the mediocre weather progressively getting worse and a busy week at work; which left me with no time in the afternoon to go to the gym or write or really check my personal emails. Friday was suppose to be my redemption day where I can catch up on all paperwork at work and all personal stuff in the afternoon. And it wasn’t at all!

Talk about doing a job you love but being stunted by people who want you fail, even if it means taking everything down with them.

But Saturday was a bit uplifting; I went to a banquet to support a friend for a well deserve recognition and her acceptance speech was hilarious and completely awesome. A mover and a shaker she is, I say. This event was honoring people for their work in social services with incarcerated people. One of the honorees is head of the department of social work at Lehman College. He was a little emotional as he talked about how he came to working with inmates and building people’s self-esteem so they can become contributing members of society again.

And then he said this word: Anomie.

According to Emile Durkheim the “Father of Modern Sociology”; anomie is a state of normlessness. Every society has a set of rules or norms which regulates behavior and relationships. But sometimes, due to a change in the environment (economic crisis, natural disaster..you name it) the rules get lost, and the social bonds that hold an individual or subculture group to the mainstream gets cut. Sometimes when an individual loses that connection and it can lead to deviant behavior. This explanation was used in his work to define suicide.

On the inside, inmates are surrounded by thousands of people, but yet they are socially isolated. Cut off from their families, loved ones, and society at large. Though I am not here to argue whether that’s right or wrong, just establishing that this is true. And even though YOU may never have been incarcerated, I’m sure you have gone through this period where life feels empty or you lost the passion for something. The issue may not be with YOU, but something in your environment changed drastically– throwing the rules down the drain and leaving you without a clear sense of who you are and your purpose.

We tend to associate this kind of depression as something psychologically wrong with the individual, rather than taking a look at what has happened in their environment to cut them off. But this can be conquered; as the director continued he talked about the expression of love he received from his clients. I’m sure you can hardly imagine the stereotypical “harden-felonius criminal” hugging a grey-haired White guy and saying “I love you, man.” Sometimes in a state of anomie, when we feel that we’ve lost…ourselves, we’ll cling to the slightest hint of love that we sense. And yes, I’m sure he cared, loved, and mentored his clients and he helped so many people over the last decade. And that’s why he was able to help those that were lost to find themselves and their purpose.

Sitting in the audience, I was connecting what the social worker standing on the pulpit was saying about love, to a book I read right after Jon and I broke up the first time. You can call it an anomie or a depression depending whether you believe its external or internal; but I was in a deep hole where I didn’t remember who I was before I met him, and how I could get things done without him.

I don’t know if I snapped in or out of it, but I realized that maybe my work is meaningless and my life is pointless since I no longer had someone that I could relate too. And when you lose something that special, whether its by natural disaster or egoism; everything else doesn’t matter anymore. But anyway, the book talked about love and singlehood — and the fact is; many people will search and search for “the one” to love them unconditionally without realizing that the unconditional love has been present in their life from the time of birth from friends and families. You were ALWAYS loved, but you just didn’t realize it, because you were busy looking for your “other half” to love you.

But the thing is, if you’re not willing to love back and can only offer half of you to a person and not a whole you; then you’re not gonna get very far in your search. Stop looking for your “other half” and grow whole from within. I was reminded by the end of his speech that there will always be challenges in our environment that will threaten to break the social bonds between individuals; but expressing love and joy in the things we do can grow new bonds from within and develop new identities. New purpose.

And for many of those inmates discovering a brotherly love saved them from the anomie which they suffered; then it can save me too.

P.S

I received a tweet yesterday, about when am I FINALLY going to publish Chapter 20 from @Wheesh and I can say I have finished Chapter 24 last week, and have a few more left. I’m now looking for someone to copyedit the manuscript. I made two connections, so soon I will make an agreement with who to send the manuscript to for the editing stage…

Until next weekend.

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© 2012 -2013 S. C Rhyne

53 thoughts on “Anomie

  1. As for the weather — Some days I wonder if we’re going to skip spring and summer and just go back to fall. As for love — yeah, it’s powerful. As for you — Keep doing wonderful! PEACE-

  2. This is a fantastic post for me at this exact point in time. Last week I posted about trying to find my passion and I have connected with your post in that I came to the conclusion to stop looking and let it come. Concentrate on the joys around me and let it come. I like the idea that we “can grow new bonds from within and develop new identities. New purpose”.
    It’s now a waiting game. Keep me posted on your progress :)

  3. Wonderful post! I agree with the idea that, perhaps, macro-level shifts in the environment could cause micro-level shifts in individual behavior. This is why we, as a society, should start the discussion for “change” at the society/environmental level rather than creating laws as a response to individual situations.

    Whenever I mention this, I always get a response of: “Well, thats too hard.”. Honestly; if we don’t challenge ourselves to start thinking/discussing/acting on this level, then eradicating the negative aspects of society (crime, poverty, illiteracy, inequality, etc) will continue to elude us.

    ::steps off soap box::

  4. The ups and downs of life can sometimes be bigger than we wished for. The big downs are harder to get out of as we all know, but having someone to help or even a stranger to offer a little support can mean a lot during these times! I have noticed this a lot of late while recovering from a massive leg break, that some people go a long way out of their way to help and it really makes my day!! Let’s all be kinder to people once a day :>

  5. You make the point that what we need is inside of us all the time. That is so important. It took me years and years to realise that what I was looking for had to come from me and no one else. It was pointless to look for the ‘other half’ and expect them to fill in all the gaps I hadn’t yet found within myself. I’m intrigued by the ‘Zen’ moment of realising that without anyone around who cares your work means nothing (brought the ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound’ philosophical quesion to mind). Food for thought. Lovely post – thanks!

  6. Hi S.C.: I found your blog via the BHB group, and your post caught me with the word “anomie.” As a writer, I’m always looking for new words!

    Very heartfelt post. It sounds like you have had a fair amount of pain in your life, but that you are moving forward. It’s so true that simple acts of kindness from others can have a huge impact on our lives and on the way we feel about ourselves. Humans are not, by nature, solitary creatures. But we’ll all get by with a little help from our friends. :-)

  7. This is really enlightening. I just had the discussion with my best friend about the whole idea of depression vs. external changes and the word anomie definitely would have been good to refer to the other day. I am going to email him this article. Thanks for the post.

  8. Adjusting can be difficult. Freelancing seemed like the perfect fit, but then I lost all the normality of the day to day interactions we take for granted when working in a “regular” work setting with others. Nothing can prepare a person for what anomie feels like, though knowing more about it before making a big change could prove fruitful.

  9. I will say that working from home and in the blogging world can lead to some lonely moments. I have found myself doubting my abilities even though I know I am good at what I do and I love it. I am glad these are fleeting moments like the weather.

    1. Hi Elizabeth!

      I can use a few pointers from you about the blogging world. And we all get that feeling of normlessness, always remind yourself that you are powerful and very talented and go very far!

  10. I was reading a post not long ago about the importance of selfishness. It was really about the necessity of loving and taking care of yourself. It sounds like you discovered the importance of YOU in your life.

    1. Yes that’s true to have self-care, but I wouldn’t call it selfishness, because I’ve seen complete selfishness before and I don’t want to advocate that. We all should discover the importance of ourselves within and use that for good.

  11. Cheer up! Don’t dwell on things that make you unhappy. I know that advice sounds a bit superficial but it works for me. When I was in Somalia it worked, during the Rwanda massacres it worked, – it’s always worked. Mum died, I was heartbroken but wasn’t sad. She’d been in a coma for a long time. I thought about her when she was alive and well and gardening and cooking and the thinking about that brought about happier things. Alternatively get angry and buy a cat to kick. That works for me, too. My cats are theiving bastards! If you are REALLY angry rescue a few hedgehogs and spend four hours in the Bangkok rain trying to find them before they get eaten by a python. That takes your mind off things! Here endeth my advice. My guess it isn’t too relevant to America. But a footnote, I’ve been happily married for 24 years and although occasionally my wife wants to kill me (quite understandable) it works. Things can work!

    1. Hi Hugh,

      I don’t really stay sad….I just feel tired with everything and want to retrieve to my corner and stay there a while. I’m definitely keeping myself very busy. I write, but if writing stir up emotions, then I work or volunteer and go to the gym 4 days a week. I rather kick a bag than a cat….cause in the US that’s animal abuse.

      Otherwise, I still believe in true love and the example of your marriage confirms that. I’m just not in the place now to look for it or want to be part of it. I’ll just stay by myself.

  12. Love it! That wonderfully darned reciprocality of an epic spiral of giving and receiving where adversity doesn’t build character. It reveals it. Credit for “Adversity does not build character. It reveals it” to James Lane Allen. Epic spiral of giving and receiving? All my 6 of Pentacles own. Anomalie? Rockin’ thanks for your post!

    1. Hi Lorraine,

      Thank You for the nomination! Its a pleasure and an honor to be nominated by my fellow bloggers. I wish I could accept, but truth is I am very very behind on award acceptance as it stands, I haven’t done any award posts since February?

      But I still appreciate the recognition!

  13. After working at a halfway house for many years, I have observed what circumstances can do to a person whose life has “shifted” in a dramatic way (good and bad). You are absolutely right about the inner strength we need to move forward. In the world of addiction prevention, we refer to building “protective factors” in youth and families. This helps people to be well-prepared to handle the inevitable loss of “anomie” that most of us will experience at some point in life. Protective Factors are sort of like precursors to coping skills development and resiliency. Examples: personal self development, family supports, social awareness, etc.

    I have a theory about anomie on the macro – societal level, but that’s a topic for another post!

    1. Thanks Aleshia for sharing! You definitely help me to normalize what I’m experiencing.

      And I’m trying to think more positively about my future outcome.

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