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We are Freedom Moles tunneling through our own lives

I’m in occasional touch with an Outlaw Mole — a talented, intelligent, freedom-loving person whose day job is in a dark trade, dealing with dark forces as we descend into Endarkenment.

This person tells me no secrets. I wouldn’t want secrets and there’s no reason for the Mole to risk harm by telling them to me. What I receive, sometimes, is the outpouring of frustration, anguish, grief, rage — and occasional bitter humor — that comes from living a life out of tune with one’s own inner self.

It’s heartbreaking to witness; imagine living it.

Being a Mole is hard. It combines the dreariness of an everyday job with the risk of being caught and punished. It’s 999.9 percent routine and 0.1 percent hair-raising adventure. But above all, it’s spending every day painfully out of tune.


Of course, we all have to behave out of tune with ourselves at times. We trudge through a job that may not be outright evil or dangerous, but requires us to mask ourselves for ordinary, everyday reasons. We go to parties and pretend to enjoy them when all we want is to escape. We may be polite to our parents or siblings simply to “keep the peace” or play some familial role imposed upon us so long ago it’s become a second skin — even though it’s no longer who we are (if it ever was).

Just life as usual. In most ways there’s nothing wrong with it and many things right with it. After all, there’s a term for people who limitlessly assert their unedited selves in all situations, regardless of the needs or thoughts of others. Several terms, depending on circumstances: narcissist, asshole, drunk, savage, clueless eejit, jerk, rude, insensitive, unemployed, and unwelcome in polite company come to mind.

A certain amount of “going along to get along” is obviously the lubrication needed for humans mesh with other humans. Nobody ever suffered a deep, spiritual crisis from having to learn table manners or being reminded to say “please” or “thank you.” Hardly anybody ever dies from pretending to listen attentively at a company meeting when he really wants to shout, “You’re a bunch of empty suits!”

Millions have benefited from a dab of social grease and a facility with social graces.

The tragedy comes when we not only act as an “other” in our own lives — a mere imitation of our real selves, though also a conscious choice — but when we think and live as an “other” so thoroughly that we lose who we really are.


In this sense, humans are all (okay, nearly all) tragic figures. Because inevitably we get molded into other people’s images from birth. Long before we could even begin to have a definable character, our parents, teachers, older siblings, extended family, neighbors, Sunday school companions, playground pals, and even characters in games or movies are inculcating us with someone else’s idea of who we ought to be and how we ought to act.

This, too, is necessary and normal (unless it’s delivered with threats, beatings, mockery, degrading remarks, or other kinds of physical and mental cruelty, which alas it often is).

To the extent that knowing others’ expectations helps us establish a comfortable fit in the world or gives us a handy and useful internal rulebook for surviving our days, it’s all to the good.

To the extent that we are born misfits — or that we’re pressured into molds that don’t fit us — or that we’re never allowed to consider certain ideas on pain of punishment — it can be a soul destroyer.

And this doesn’t only apply to learning society’s manners and mores, but to the outright, demonstrable lies we’re taught from childhood on. We don’t have to be born misfits to discover, painfully, that we’ve been conditioned to believe things that aren’t so. Big things. We’ve learned to worship and submit to false premises and false gods — or else.

For some of us, the very existence of the unjust, irrational, out-of-proportion “or else” becomes a huge burden and a challenge, while others accept the accompanying lie so naturally that they might deny (to themselves or others) that any other possibility even exists. Blessedly ignorant are those who can believe the Big Lie forever and never have to learn the truth.


Your government always knows what’s best for you, teaches the government-run school.

If you serve your country in war, your government will honor and take care of you, lies the military machine.

Voting is your highest duty as a citizen, says a status quo that aims not to face serious challenge.

Your Mommy and Daddy always know what’s best for you, say Mommy and Daddy to save themselves the trouble of answering your hard questions.

Always trust your [priest/coach/counselor/social worker/doctor/other responsible adult], soothes the predator and the system built to foster predation.

No man is an island, claims the collective, using a half truth to diminish its fear of the individual who turns from the norm.

You want to be well-liked and accepted don’t you? asks the clique that will never let you in, but demands your obeisance to the false gods of conformity.

Sometimes the lies are comforting. And they even work — for a while.

Other times it’s a wonder everyone who hears them doesn’t stand up and shout, “WTF!” Taxation is voluntary, but we’ll arrest you at gunpoint, pitch you in prison and steal your stuff if you don’t volunteer. Wow. You have free will; but God (who loves you and granted you said freedom) will torture you forever if you exercise it. OMG.

It may take decades — or forever — before a single tiny “?” slips into the back of our brains.

Once it does, we might wish the question mark, however small and silent, had never appeared.


Because the most personal molding happens so early and is so pervasive, young misfits and wrongly bent twigs begin to struggle without knowing what they’re struggling against.

We struggle to understand what’s “wrong” with us — because naturally we must be defective if so many influential forces are telling us we are. We’re “wrong” because we don’t feel as we’re supposed to feel. We’re “wrong” because the bland statement everybody around us takes for truth is so neon-sign false to us.

Without the intellectual, moral, or creative tools to route around the conditioning in a world that tells us we are defective, or even evil, our young, just-forming selves cope (if it can be called that) in a variety of mostly terrible ways. We rebel violently. We turn destructively on ourselves. We throw ourselves into foolish risks or relationships. We develop digestive problems, chronic headaches, or other signs of physical stress. We may become passive-aggressive little rotters as a means of expressing our anger while still being able to claim plausible deniability. We may repeatedly (and increasingly desperately) attempt to conform to conditions we simply cannot ever conform to. We may disappear into fantasy via games, movies, books, drugs, or delusions. We seek oblivion wherever we can find it; anything is better than living with our square-peg selves in a round-hole world.

There are thousands of unhealthy ways our authentic new selves might try to assert themselves against wrongheaded control.


Even when (and IF) we begin to understand how our original selves-to-be got corrupted and denied in the process of being shoved into whatever mold family, school, religion, politics, and society expect us to fit, we can’t just spring free. And not only because of habit, conditioning, and circumstances. But also because our “natural” self — whatever it might once have had the potential to become — remains lost. It’s gone. Not findable.

Whatever else we are, we are also an amalgam of all the molding we’ve been through. Even if we recognize the lies we’ve been told, our rejection of them and the pain we went through to get there is now part of ourselves, indivisible. Even if we come to believe I’m okay and I’ve always been okay, the years of criticism, rejection, and false starts are part of us. We could make a lifetime out of the effort to “find ourselves” and BE ourselves. But any self we find has still been shaped to others’ will. No matter how much the real “us” eventually shines out, it’s still a complicated being and requires an extraordinary amount of “getting acquainted with” and doing something useful with.

This is the clay we now have to mold, from any moment of discovery forward.

And if we’re really living, we’ll make discoveries over and over again, all requiring re-evaluation and re-molding. Exciting — in a way. Yet all the trauma and self-doubt, the lies (debunked or still believed) and the old wrong directions are part of whatever “real self” we’ll ever find or be. So is all the stupid, embarrassing, pathetic, destructive sh*t we may have done along the way. We’re never really “over” anything that was formative. Oh well.

Some Commentariat member will now glibly quote Neitzsche: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” True — to its very limited point. But that doesn’t address what we choose and labor to do with that strength — or the very personal and enduring experience, anguish, talents, triumphs, and memory that we’re imprinted with.


Some of us are “lucky” — and strong — and get to know quite a lot about our inner selves early on. But then we face the challenge of either defying norms to live as we choose (a tough job for the young and not yet prosperously established) or consciously becoming Moles in our own lives to get by in daily life.

Some of us are not so “lucky” and come to the big life discoveries later in life. At that point we may be better equipped intellectually and financially to deal with the changes our discoveries demand. But then,too, we may find ourselves stuck firmly in lives built on false premises, lives that are thoroughly entangled with other people who may not want to know about, let alone live with, the consequences of our discoveries.

A few of us are truly lucky and get to have life much as we want it — being true to ourselves, having open eyes, and still managing to live pretty darned decently.

Then we die, still feeling unfinished.


More later on the Great Project of living our real lives; I’m not quite sure when. Not an easy subject, you know.


  1. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson February 22, 2019 4:12 am

    Yes, I think your readers know exactly what you mean. To some extent, we all know what it means to be the rogue, misfit, or ‘other’ while at the same time being conventional in order to make a living and operate within society, such as it is. We have ideas we cannot speak, opinions we cannot share, except that sometimes we do and we get the raised eyebrow or the stern lecture, or exile. Those times, we either feel bad or feel vindicated. Mostly, we keep our mouths shut except for when we find a kindred spirit, which is rare. There is a loneliness that goes with keeping to ourselves. Is that the nature of being a Mole? I suppose. In that sense, I’m guessing that all of humanity shares mole-like qualities at times. As unique biological units, everyone lives inside their own heads with wants, needs, thoughts, opinions that we must not reveal. For myself, I really don’t want to know what most people are thinking (they would disappoint me, disgust me, or p**s me off)…it is better for us both if we talk about the weather.

    I recently had a long conversation with a person with whom I find myself in agreement on most things social and political. As the conversation evolved, there were things I revealed about myself that caused him consternation, and there were things he revealed about himself that could have pushed us apart. But we kept talking. Two moles met, and during the conversation we did not retreat to our respective tunnels. For a short time, we were not moles.

    There are things I freed myself from 45 years ago. I endured the rejection that came with that. It was a painful and lonely time. Eventually my friends, family, and employer came to accept I was different, and I came to understand that the less they saw or knew, the better. Not exactly living as a mole; more like not feeling the need to defend myself or convert others. My true self was intact, just not-to-be-spoken.

    I am currently struggling with a conflict between principle and conventional expectations. I’ve mentioned it to a few people, and they are puzzled at how I could even ask the question. Oh, Ron! But that doesn’t solve my dilemma. This one could be a life changer, even a life shortener.

    Claire, forgive the above ramblings. You’ve touched on something central to my entire life.

  2. Owl
    Owl February 22, 2019 5:27 am

    There are moments when I wish I hadn’t taken the red pill.

    Ron, I understand your struggle. Don’t know the details, don’t need to. It just feels familiar.

  3. Pat
    Pat February 22, 2019 7:03 am

    The entire post is familiar. And painful. And so exquisitely OURS that I wonder if Claire (and Ron, and Owl, and others who hungrily read here) have seen inside my soul, like some sort of psychic Alexa, on the outside lurking within.

    We are not alone…

  4. kentmcmanigal
    kentmcmanigal February 22, 2019 7:47 am

    You’ve told my story.

    I’m not a Mole, but I’ve gone through most of the rest.

    My family thinks I say too much but they don’t realize how much I bite my tongue to keep from saying most of what I’d like to say.

    And I know I’ve always been self-destructive. I hate that about myself, but I can’t seem to stop. Some of that may stem from being told as a kid and teen that everything I wanted from life was “wrong”. None of it would have violated any other person, but it was still “wrong” (“God says…”). So I didn’t pursue it when it would have been possible, and I’ve been trying to find ways to deal with this path I ended up on ever since. Some of that “dealing with” has not been healthy for me or those who’ve been affected.

  5. Comrade X
    Comrade X February 22, 2019 8:43 am

    Good stuff Madame!

    The hardest thing I ever had to do is turn my back on most everything I thought true but once I did it I ended up doing it over and over again, the more it seems you do it the easier it seem to get. It does appear to me at least that no side has all the answers/truths nor do I believe all the answers/truth can ever be completely found at least in one lifetime (IMHO) but no matter how hard you look methinks the big thing is to try not looking for answers/truths in the wrong place, that will save you a lot of time & pain.

  6. Joel
    Joel February 22, 2019 8:45 am

    Oh, the eternal “What’s wrong with me?”

    Walking away from that one question was the single greatest step toward finally finding a contented life. I had to walk away from most of my species to make it so, and I still consider it a small price to pay.

  7. david
    david February 22, 2019 11:37 am

    I too have spent most of my life – and all of the adult part – trying to stay ‘under the radar’ so to speak. But those same traits that made me want to do that have still messed with my life anyway because I didn’t manage to be far enough from the hive. I have a natural affinity (like a lodestone) for the wrath of the partly competent and the hatred of the stupid. I keep losing women because I’m not tameable to their liking after finding my ‘riding fences’ nature to be attractive. There are other issues too – honesty for example is seldom actually welcome. But hey, I’m great with animals! At least somebody likes me.

  8. John Wilder
    John Wilder February 22, 2019 8:22 pm

    This is an excellent post. I’m looking forward to more.

    I’ve never been great at being quiet, and have always been surprised at how hard a sell freedom is . . .

  9. larryarnold
    larryarnold February 23, 2019 10:35 pm

    The trick, of course, is to become a freedom fighter without becoming a terrorist. It is most difficult to admit that my answers might not be anyone else’s.

  10. AC
    AC February 26, 2019 5:59 am


  11. montanagoose
    montanagoose February 26, 2019 10:29 am

    > You have free will; but God (who loves you and granted you said freedom)
    > will torture you forever if you exercise it.

    Hardly. The problem of “original sin” is that man thought he could be a god deciding for himself what is good and what is evil. And it’s still the problem! We live in a fallen world full of fallen men, each a little god demanding to be worshipped and obeyed. It isn’t a matter of whether or not we will bow. It’s a matter of who we will bow to – to God, to man (one man or another), or to ourselves. Like it or not, that’s the choice.

  12. Claire
    Claire February 26, 2019 11:25 am


    You mean God doesn’t condemn people to hell for exercising their free will in the “wrong” way? Nobody’s punished eternally?

    I sure wish some of those church folk would have told me so when I was four or five. Or even nine or 10.

    Funny how most of them seemed to relish the idea that anybody who didn’t toe their exact line was going to suffer eternally. they seemed positively gleeful about it.

  13. montanagoose
    montanagoose February 26, 2019 1:31 pm

    I hear you. Those “church folks” probably do more to convert people to atheism than to Christianity. But Churchianity isn’t Christianity. And they are just plain wrong. Not theology, wrong. Christianity 101, wrong!

    God gave you free will. He will never take that from you. He loves you. He wants you to love Him. Unfortunately, actions do have consequences. And the consequence of rejecting God in this life is eternal separation from Him in the next life. How could it be otherwise? He will not force you to love Him. He certainly will not force you to be with Him.

    Does God want you to keep His Laws? Of course! Does He condemn you to eternal damnation just for breaking one? Of course not! Or else we would ALL be damned. None of us are perfect. Least of all, those “church folks”. How did they miss the whole purpose of Christ?! Sure, you can choose to stand before God on your own merits (or lack thereof) and if you do, you will be punished for breaking His Laws. (As far as I know, the separation is eternal; the punishments are proportionate, that is, they fit the crime. At any rate, Dante’s Inferno is pure fiction.) Or you can choose Christ.

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