There are, to my mind, a minimum of three levels to reality: subjective, consensual and objective.
Objective reality is a slippery bugger, because sometimes it is difficult to recognize an innate or learned bias. Scientists tell us the best observer is the objective and dispassionate one, yet every scientist is also a human being with human biases and flaws. No scientist is truly objective, because there is always some bias in the human mind. Doesn’t mean we stop studying our Universe to better understand it, just means we need to acknowledge innate bias.
Consensual reality is that changing societal understanding of the world. A hundred years ago LGBTQ were deemed mentally ill, and put into asylums. 150 years ago, women were considered incapable of higher thought function, and any woman with hopes of intellectual achievement either ended up supporting her husband or brother rather than herself, or was put in an asylum, or was drugged to the gills on laudanum. Consensual reality, then is only what we agree is going on, and again is filtered through biases, just group biases where two or more people agree.
Subjective reality is, sadly, the bastard of the bunch. Why? Because we each create our own little Universe in our own minds. It is based on our perspective of the Universe, and that perspective changes as we change. Hell, it changes with our moods, not just our growth.
Take your average relationship. If it’s not the first relationship, both people have been there before. But sometimes, as one or the other partner becomes depressed or insecure, the biases from other relationships start to sneak in. One assumes the other is lying or cheating. The other becomes defensive and angry, whether the accusations are true or not. Both partners have the perspective of being the ‘wronged party,’ and both consider the other to be ‘the bad guy.’
The objective observer would be able to pinpoint the issue, but unless both partners are willing to let go of their perspective, the issue will only get worse.
I had a perfect example of this yesterday. Last time I spoke to my doctor, I asked for testing to prove if I had actual brain damage from the abuse I suffered, or if the cognitive deficits I am experiencing are emotion and mood based. Unfortunately she wrote the referral for neuropsychological testing as just assessment of depression and anxiety.
You have to understand something about me. I’ve had far too many encounters with doctors who ignore real symptoms because of their personal bias. Too many doctors with God complexes. And too many places that seem to care less about the patient and more about billing.
To make a long story short, when the office we had driven an hour and a half to get to told us we could not be seen, I lost it.
I kept it together for a little bit, but the more I thought about it, the greater my reaction became. It was just this huge chaotic ball of rage, fear, panic and hopelessness. By the time we got to the office in Eau Claire that does actually accept my insurance I was visibly shaking, I couldn’t seem to stop babbling, and I may have been hyperventilating a bit. I’m glad my sister went with me, because I was pretty damned worthless.
The issue, in and of itself, was a minor one. But, because of my ex, the whole situation just spiralled out of control. Without that habitual response, I would have been able to handle what is mostly a minor disappointment.
This personal perspective, although I intellectually understood it to be minor, was a learned response and an emotional habit. In essence, my subjective emotional reality was that I was under attack. So, in this case, my reality was not real.
I’m fairly sure that eventually after no longer living with a drama queen I will be able to change that subjective reality into a better perspective.