-- anonymous commenter from the internet
-- anonymous commenter from the internet
Consider the Simulation Hypothesis. How many people are contemptuously dismissive of "Creation Theory," while at the same time credibly entertain The Simulation Hypothesis? It occurs to me that the Simulation Hypothesis boils down to the idea that we are all just playthings or figments of the imagination of God or gods, given a technological makeover.
It's a beautiful sunny December day outside and about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes me smile. I'm on Christmas break. I don't understand why people who do not believe and would not call themselves Christians even bother to keep this particular day. Why do we do the things we do? A few days ago, I was talking to Lee and she said that she believed that everyone should be home with their families on Christmas. Why? Why that particular day? She wasn't raised in the church. She knows almost nothing of that religion. What's her thing?
I've been sitting around thinking. I have no idea what I'm doing. What does anything mean? Today is my wedding anniversary. "'Til death do us part." "So long as we both shall live." Yeah, right. Lee told me that she called her mother a few weeks ago. She doesn't know why she did it. The call disappointed her. As is typical of my ex-wife, Crystal was "busy." Her younger daughter doesn't speak to her for weeks and months at a time and Crystal is "busy" when she calls. That was Lee's assessment. What she means is that Crystal was not too busy to answer the phone but she was "too busy" to connect. What a great way to remind Lee of why she resolved to write you out of her life, Crystal. Does she wonder why her elder son needs help for suicidal ideation? I have no doubt that she does. We only wonder about the things we don't understand. How does a woman dismiss her children? Does she not understand that they can see, her, hear her, when her actions speak? She doesn't actually care about her children? Is this the assessment that those who see her are to make? This is the woman I married, ten years before the Towers came down. It was a different world, I was a different man, it was another country. Is that true?
What am I doing? I have no idea. The question is vexing but I can't even feel any angst about it. I would have to have some sort of driving goal and be facing the prospect of not achieving it to have angst. I have "aims" but I can't seem to believe that they amount to anything significant. I used to believe that I understood significance. I don't. I am 56 years old. I have spent my life falling in love and getting ideas. What is actualized? I can't say that I'm depressed, but I certainly am a stranger to joy, right now. I'm not inspired. That sounds passive. I should better say that I'm not doing anything right now that might create inspiration. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. If I find inspiration I may act on it. I'm not impressed with what my actions have brought me, in pursuit of inspiration. My parts are not confident in me, or maybe it would be better to say that they are not confident enough in me. In Atlas Shrugged, Francisco tells Dagny: "I still want to sleep with you but I am not a man who is happy enough to do it." If happiness is something we make, as opposed to something we "find" or into which we stumble, I would love to have asked The Little Old Russian Lady what she meant in writing that Francisco was not happy. Heh.
I was looking at a profile on OK Stupid today, again. It was the page of a woman of whom OK Stupid says is a 97 percent match with me. She seems like a very interesting person but I'm not all that attracted. She's only 33 years old, three years older than Renee. She has a child. She says she wants more. When you're in your thirties, you can entertain the idea of trying to build something again. Like the song says:
A little voice inside my head said,
'Don't look back, you can never look back,
I thought I knew what love was,
What did I know,
Those days are gone forever,
I should just let 'em go, but...
Henley's protagonist carries a torch. He's got something to prove. Mine has burned out. What have I got to prove?
Ack! I'm kind of wrung-out. It is hard to compose my thoughts. I feel tired. I kind of feel like writing but I'm not overflowing with inspiration. I keep wanting to get up from the keyboard and go do something else. I feel pensive and introspective.
I spoke to Lauralee today. She got to drive today. I didn't come with a pile of stuff to just dump, download, or otherwise disgorge, so she got to ask questions. So, she wanted to know about my relationship with L. She asked where the boundaries were. She wanted to know what I thought about L. She asked about the conversation with L. recently, where I told her that part(s) of me still wanted, still desired.
As usual, I was all over the map, trying to explain and answer the questions. I talked about my marriage, the way my relationship with Crystal had worked and how it hadn't. I talked about conversations with Lee and Renee (I think this is the first time I've actually typed my daughters' new preferred first names in this place, heh). I talked about the things I had not understood and what I had learned. I tried to explain the "it's complicated" that I have with L. I even talked about my disappointment with my parents and inability to comprehend how they could tell me that they loved me and would do anything for me but couldn't even talk about their inability to do the one thing that would have actually made a big difference: fix their dysfunctional relationship. I talked about my penchant for judging myself harshly. I talked about doing that Mankind Project group meeting, and how stuff from inside had kept bubbling up for a day and half after that thing had finished.
Lauralee pointed out that clearly I derrived a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment out of being married and having a partner. Then she pointed out that, whatever its boundaries, its possibilities, or lack thereof, I had some kind of emotionally involved relationship with L. These things did not surprise me, and I acknowledged the truth of what she had told me. When we wrapped up, she suggested that stuff might bubble up after our conversation too, and that I should ask myself why I wouldn't let myself want. She advised that I treat myself with curiosity instead of judgment. I pointed out that having that intention and catching myself being judgmental in the moment were quite frequently two different things.
So, I sat at my desk for awhile after we had said goodbye and thought about the question and what it meant to be curious about it, instead of judgmental. I tried getting into a curious frame of mind and then I realized that I was experiencing an internal resistance to doing that very thing. "OK," I thought, to my contentious inner parts, "I know how to address this." So, I asked that part that was resisting my curiosity if it would entertain my curiosity and if not, what was it hoping to accomplish and why was it resistant. To my surprise, what came back was an answer: "You don't really want to know what it is you desire and why you don't want to want and I don't want to entertain curiosity because we won't like how we feel if we answer those questions." Wow. I was a little flummoxed by this, so after ruminating not quite so fruitfully for another few minutes, I decided to go to the store and get some supper.
After I ate, I went into the bedroom and changed clothes and sat down and did a bit more aimless rumination. That was about seven o'clock, or an hour after things had finished up with Lauralee. I got tired and conked out. I woke up about an hour and a half later after Kuu jumped up on the bed and came over and meowed at me, wanting attention. So, I went back to thinking, while petting the cat. I was thinking about my marriage, what had gone down between Crystal and I. I was thinking of how our home had been broken, how we broke it, the various effects it has had on our daughters, no matter how relatively non-hostile the break was or how much Crystal and I can still associate as friends now. I just got an overwhelming sense of waste, of wasted opportunities, to connect, to heal, to grow, to thrive, and have a deeper partnership. Ah yes, another thin ice patch. Wonderful. Yeah, I felt and feel bad about things, about the things I didn't know, the things I didn't find out and wasn't able solve. I felt bad about my inability to hold our daughters' home together, about the ways I had hurt Crystal, both consciously and unconsciously...waste, waste, waste, hours, days, years nobody is ever going to get back. I'm sitting here, as I type this, wondering what the percentage in ego-payoff it would be to just omit the admission that I spent about half an hour crying. Thank goodness I'm one of those real men who do not wear mascara...otherwise I'd look like a reject from the rock band, Kiss. Ack. Most guys don't have to worry about mascara tracks, but then, most women don't have to get snot out of their mustache hairs.
I guess I still have a pile of sadness and grief about these things. I thought about things, and yes, there was a bit of guilt, too, but not much, and I think I have accepted that shame is not warranted and not really applicable for most of these considerations. No, it's almost all just grief. The waste bothers me, upsets me, makes me worried about whatever future prospects I may entertain. The waste and missed opportunities bother me, make me sad. What happened may have been an inevitability, given the circumstances and the people involved, but none of it was metaphysically necessary, as such. There were answers, had I been able or better motivated to find them, or maybe had more courage to look in the mirror and self-confront. I think I have more to think about now. Not sure, as usual, what to "do" with it. Wow. That was tiring to type this stuff out, but I think it feels good to have done so.
I went to one of the Mankind Project's "the Men's Work" things. It's at noon, my time for ninety minutes, three consecutive Sundays in a row. One of the practices we participants were encouraged to try is keeping a journal for five minutes every day. Sheesh. Five minutes? I can't even... In my own experience that's like asking me to take a piss for five microseconds. I can't even think about writing something for less time than that. I'm going to take the assignment as stating: "for at least five minutes." Hell, I haven't written in here in more than a year. So much has happened...or not, depending upon how I judge Circumstances of Influence and Significance. The place seems deserted. There are only two people and one or two groups on my friends list writing with any frequency, as far as I can tell. I find myself wondering if anyone is reading, not that I wouldn't write, anyway. The Semagic LJ client hasn't been updated since 2015. Interesting. Was LJ just a fad? it appears so. Everyone is on Farcebook, now. I'm not much a fan of the medium, however much I like my friends there, many of whom used to be regulars here. Anyway, here I am. Roll the bones.
The Mankind Project group thing looked a little to me like I feel about LJ. There were three of us, [Edit: there were four of us, counting me] for a sign-up that was supposedly global, or at least covering the Western Hemisphere. There were three [four] of us, plus two facilitators for a group whose maximum size was to be capped at fourteen. Maybe I'm wrong in my perceptions. Maybe it's a slow season. I don't know. I've never been to one of these kinds of things before. I hope that I am wrong about what that indicates, as I really believe that these guys are sincere and accomplishing some very worthwhile things. Like the Beatles said: "All the lonely people, where do they all belong." I think these guys may be helping guys find some answers for themselves. There sure are a lot of people in the world who seem to be looking, or look like they ought to be.
I was nervous as hell in the run up to the start time. Once I got in and got talking I loosened up appreciably, which is nice. So, there we were, five [six] guys, trying to make sense of our lives and the world. It was eye-opening. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was interesting as all get out. Different people, all working on different parts of the same big puzzle, and possessed of all sorts of different puzzle pieces. There are so many interesting stories. These guys had very different lives from mine, and they certainly had very different struggles with which they were grappling, than mine. Nevertheless, each of them said things, talked about feeling things, with which I myself was familiar. There was connection, but it was tenuous, to my impression. I think that's due to everything being new, and everyone was trying to get the rhythm of the thing and make sure we all had the groundwork down and had sized each other up carefully. There wasn't a lot of direct interaction, in this session.
The question of the day is, "Why are you here?" I gave my thoughts on the matter. Connection, according to David Schnarch, presents challenges to our senses of integrity and identity. These challenges are an opportunity to confront ourselves and learn to hold onto ourselves, a process he refers to as "differentiation." That's how human beings grow. Logically, I understood this, when I read it the first time, a few years ago. Slowly, I guess I have been internalizing the message and learning how the process works in practice. I told them that this is what I want. I believe it is true. Sometimes, it feels like I have comfortably coasted for the last decade and a half. Maybe I have. Maybe I needed to do that. Maybe I needed the right set of circumstances for things to change. I don't know. I don't know that circumstances have changed all that significantly or not. Sometimes, when I look at the last five years of my life, I see a lot of change but then that "You're Not Enough Monster" comes out of my anxiety closet, and I experience uncertainty and doubt.
Things went smoothly, while we were talking. There was a little bit of jitter going on in me, occasionally. None of it was as nervous-making as my first few conversations with Lauralee. Maybe my experiences with her have left me in better shape to handle conversations about personal things with people I just met. I felt awkward at times, sitting there in front of my web cam, and I felt like I was fidgeting around way more than the other guys. A couple of the guys had military backgrounds and it seemed to me like they had this whole calm stillness thing going on, even while they were talking about really hard things in their lives, and surely, they had to be experiencing plenty of emotional turmoil and disquiet. Admirable. It seems a great skill to cultivate. I didn't have much trouble paying attention; the conversations were fascinating, but still, I just had this impression that it would be even better to be in command of that kind of stillness, for myself.
Anyway, the thing went well. I'm looking forward to the next two sessions. As is not atypical of my conversations with Lauralee, stuff didn't start shifting around and bubbling up until after things had officially wrapped up. I was sitting here at my desk, recollecting and ruminating about what had just happened, about talking honestly and connecting with this group of guys, and I started thinking about the things of which I spoke, and I realized that, far from exhausting what I could have said, there was a host of things more I could have said, although not in the space of ninety minutes, especially when we all were expecting to talk. Heh. Anyway, I had a fierce bubbling up of that sadness I have had, about the way my father expressed his disappointments with me. Zounds, I have no idea why that should have just boiled up when it did. I don't really know what to make of it, and I don't know what to do with it, as usual, but there it was, in all of its painful, sharp, glory, like falling through the ice covering a bitterly frigid lake of sorrow.
So, I've been stirred up the rest of the day. I didn't get done much of the things I wanted to do today. I was supposed to play Minecraft online with my grandson today, but I haven't seen him online since this morning. I think he forgot, or got busy and something else preempted. I didn't get done much of the cleaning I wanted to do today. Still working on it. Things, thoughts and emotions have been bubbling up. There they are. I don't know what to do with them. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to make of them. My relationship with my parents and those with my daughters weighed in. Crazy questions popped up, like my thoughts and ponderings about a hug I got, from, well, L. What was that all about? There's a conversation with her in that experience, I think. I'm not entirely sure what I want to know.
Way back in 1978 I understood that I believed I needed to find out things for myself, that it doesn't work to just accept what someone else tells you, unquestioningly. Interestingly enough, I realized how isolating this can be also, I think, because I wrote about this behavior as if it were a problem, a habit I needed to break. I was "too shy." Talk to other people. Find out what they know. Learn from the experience and perspectives of others. These are good things, but "shyness" was a misidentification of the fundamental problem. It was a failure to identify root cause. All the while I was struggling with "my shyness problem," my parents were teaching me, in how they lived, that other people make no damned sense, and moreover, that they will lie to themselves and lie to others, as well. That is isolating, too.
I am surprised to find the insights I am finding, in reading that old book. I saw my mother's attitudes, and her philosophy, even when I was a child. I didn't understand it. There were difficult identifications, beyond the reach of my experience. I understood that my mother's beliefs were problematical. For example, she treated our home as "her house." I noted that it discouraged my father and brother and I from pitching in and helping with the place quite often, because when she acted the way she did, it felt like we weren't working on something that was ours — it was hers.
Both of my parents operated, not on the principle of connection, but on the principle of manipulation and coercion, on the "I'm the boss of you" model. They found no problem with that. They would sometimes explain themselves when interacting with my brother and I. My mother, in particular, was apt to go that route, but in the end they gave the orders and lay down the law because they could, however much they figured that they were doing the right thing. Before I met Laurel I wasn't consciously aware that there was a distinction to be made here. Children are raised. Our parents' interactions, connections and disconnections, are the substance of what we learn. Their efforts to "raise" us constitute what was done to us. It's what we do to others in our turn. We are what we repeatedly do and experience, we live what we have lived. To the extent that we do not question it, the pattern becomes our destiny. What is beyond our inquiry is beyond our control. Apparently, very few want to stop to consider the idea that alternatively, if we look at life differently, if we see the act of "raising children" not as something adults do to children, but that we are instead, connecting, or not, with another growing developing human being who is gathering experiences of existence just as the adults are, it opens up a completely different paradigm. It is realizations like that one that keep making me think of Laurel, and miss her. It hurts; I persevere. There's no way out but through. I was fourteen years old, but I still saw the problem. I just couldn't identify its nature. The people in my family are so disconnected, from themselves and each other. I had no concept of connection, no understanding of any other way of being. It's almost funny, to read my old words. There I was, groping in the darkness, knowing something wasn't right with the picture but not able to understand what, exactly tied all of my observations together into a coherent, integrated, conceptual framework.
To my surprise, I actually had a plan to attack the problem. On July 23, 1978, I was writing about renting a post office box and using that address and a pseudonym to write to someone, like a psychiatrist, and ask for advice, on whether they thought that my parents were "off the reservation" or not, and needed some help. I wonder which is more surprising, the idea that I saw things as being wrong, even then, or that I still had any doubts. It's interesting that I looked at the situation as an either-or kind of proposition: either someone is "crazy" or they are not. I didn't realize that life is merely the set of all of our choices and experiences, including all of our problems and decisions. It's all a continuum. There are better, more effective ways to live, and then there are less effective ways to live. Our choices determine our destiny. As Pete Gerlach would have put it: my family was full of very wounded people, and they were metaphorically living with their wounds as people with physical wounds did before the insights of Joseph Lister. The thing is, philosophy has been around since antiquity. Isn't it amazing to consider how, of all the fields of human inquiry, that one seems to let us down so frequently? Stefan Molyneux thought the same thing. He had a podcast on the "failure" of six thousand years of moral philosophy. He was wondering if the problem was that we merely misunderstand the fundamental purpose of philosophy. His hypothesis was, that it appeared that the purpose of philosophy was just to rationalize the exceptions and make loopholes in what we otherwise understand to be moral and ethical behavior. After reading Lloyd de Mause, I'd say that such a plan is not a consciously understood one, even if Molyneux were correct. At any rate, I understood that there was a problem, and I definitely knew that it was putting all kinds of stresses on me. I had no inkling of how the effects of those stresses were going to play out in my life. I was looking at "fixing them," my parents, and not understanding the implications of what it was doing to me. I could have used more self confrontation. I never saw much of it in the adults around me.
I read in my journal of encountering Veronica and Susan, another of our classmates, at the county fair, and responding to their hello like a deer in the headlights. I didn't say anything to them. Veronica had said to me: "OK, Bob, don't say hello." How awkward. I'd been wanting to see her. I'd been dying to talk to her. I couldn't. There was opportunity all over the place, and desire. That's some hard dissociation for you. People would look at that situation and write it off as "shyness," as if there were some kind of magical explanatory power in that label. Mumbo-jumbo. A label is only a foundation. It's only a start. A conceptual framework must follow on top of it or the label is just as useless as a slab of concrete on the ground. Shyness is not an answer; it should be the start of a whole book of questions. No, there's nothing really wrong with that picture. There's nothing going on here. "Shyness" explains it all, except that it doesn't. Often times, a label is more an excuse to stop thinking, than to start. So, I'll grow out of it would have been the consensus, and I did, to a certain extent, but nobody would question what was going on there. Nobody seems to want to ask themselves if that phenomenon is just a case of "some people are like that," or if there is something systemic and cause-and-effect behind it. We stop being curious and turn away when we see something that reminds us of areas in our own experience which are painful. I was so entangled in shames and guilts and secrets and my own dysfunction that I couldn't even say hello, and socialize. Gee, I wonder how I got that way. That's just the way some people are? I can thank my parents for that lesson, if I had the balls to do so. How long was Tantalus in Hades, I wonder, before he just gave up trying to reach the grapes, or drink the water? I don't think they would understand what is wrong with that picture. It's the one principle upon which they seem to be united. There's a poison premise of which I could stand to be rid, and yet, it seems so hard to just pry it out. It's not a single, compact lump, is why. It is entangled and threaded throughout what I am. Our experience is holographic. More and more I am convinced that this theory is right: our experience is stored and referenced "holographically," by our brains. That would tend to make changing our habits somewhat more of a challenge than just locating a particular bad premise in our minds and striking the line through and substituting a correct one. It isn't a computer program; it's a hologram. Rand could have stood to learn a bit more from Aristotle, whom she praised so highly. What a terrible thing is wisdom, when it brings no profit to the one who is wise.
So often, the situation seems damned if you do, damned if you don't. I ask myself if I am sacrificing a friendship with Laurel because my disappointment and disillusionment hurt too much, and I'm tired of getting hurt. The thing is, it's not really disillusionment, is it? If it were dis-illusionment, I would shed my illusions. Interacting with her though, I keep falling into the idea that something more is possible with her. It's what I desire. How can we not love where we admire? Also, I keep getting the impression from her, sometimes quite explicitly, that it is something more between us that she desires, later protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Cognitive dissonance hurts. Like the song says: "I keep forgetting we're not in love anymore." Damn, isn't that song apropos? Then she tells me that if I believe that there is a possibility of a romantic relationship between she and I then I am delusional. Oh, so today it's not: "Why don't you hurry up and come here to me, Robert?" Ha. If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium. Oh, Monday, Monday, how could you leave, and not take me? Damn, that hurts. I hate that. I've spent enough of my life confused and running around in the fog of delusions, both my own and those of my parents. I hate trying to figure out what's real about a relationship and getting nowhere, going in circles. I see that pattern. Am I not courting this very thing in being in contact with her? Delusions are hard enough to divest without feeding them. We're not going in the same direction, with the same goals in mind. Our ships must follow their own course under their own power. It is advisable to cut the rope and cast off when we find ourselves in the situation where we are deluded, and our boats are not really on the same course and steaming toward the same goal. Pain may be unavoidable, but at least I can have and set clear boundaries. I can stop entertaining fantasies. I have my doubts about the woman she professes herself to be in dating site profile. She once told me that video games were only a substitute: the exploration and discovery of a fantasy world's landscape substituting symbolically for exploring a real woman's soul and body. At least when I'm playing video games I know I'm engaged in make believe. I'm not deluding myself exploring a land I will never be allowed to inhabit for real.
Lauralee asks me if I want the relationship with my parents. Hell, is my relationship with my parents really mine, to win or lose in the first place? What is the nature of that relationship? Is it profit or loss? What am I giving up to keep it? I know there are things about that relationship which have poisoned me. Am I continuing to be poisoned by clinging to it? What premises am I accepting to hold onto it? Am I feeding delusion there, as well? Stefan Molyneux would say yes, definitely. Daniel Mackler would say so. Laurel would say so. This I tell myself. Logically, the argument seems impeccable. I also tell myself that nobody knows the full context, nobody knows all the particulars, but me. Is it true? What do I get in maintaining that relationship, such as it is? In what am I invested? Hell, what do they, or Laurel, for that matter, really want from me? Why am I maintaining these relationships, if I am? Am I getting worthwhile trades here? Does it hurt to keep these? Yes. Does it hurt to contemplate cutting them off and walking away? Yes. This is how it works. This is how Gerlach's "wounds" are inflicted. Why are "reality distortion" and "over-trusting and under-trusting," two of Pete Gerlach's six fundamental wounds? This is how it works. Pain and fear are supposedly feedback signals which work to ensure survival. What if you can't trust those feelings? What if it is damned if you do and damned if you don't? What if both directions hurt? How reliable is a fire alarm that goes off all the time? It would seem to me that it's not the case that I won't trust what I am feeling; I've just learned that I can't do so. How do I change that?
Sixteen Jens, ten Jennys, throwing shade at her
In the spring of 1978, when I first started keeping a journal, I was in love with a classmate named Veronica. At least, I thought I was in love with her. It's what I called it. What other name should we give to a feeling so powerful? In my very first entry, I wrote of the experience of standing next to her in a crowd of our classmates. It was at the Spring concert, and in the close quarters, her forearm brushed against the back of my hand, and I described what went through me, experiencing that contact. I wrote: "I felt as if a giant ocean wave had been poured into my head and had cascaded to my feet." I was swept up in a tide of hormones, a sailor so in love with the sea that even the prospect of drowning did not disturb me. I thought she was beautiful, and to be sure, she was a very pretty young lady. I loved the sound of her voice, and her laugh. I liked her name. It's not a common name. She was not one of "twenty-seven Jennifers." The name intrigued me. The name is from the Greek, and it means "true image." I looked it up, pursuing my fascination. It had a classical appeal, while not being common, and it's four syllables felt good in my mouth. It was my belief that she wore it well. It always seemed to me that she stood out, in many more ways than just her name: in how she acted, in how she spoke, in how she carried herself, how she looked at things. I think I was impressed with what I perceived to be her ability to have both a kind of quiet reserve coupled with a warm engaging style. She didn't seem flapable, and yet, she wasn't walled-off, either. I was fascinated. Actually, I was obsessed. What else should I call it? It seems to me that we fall in love with people who exhibit or exercise a certain set of virtues, in patterns of their actions and mannerisms that uniquely speak to something in our own souls, for better or worse. Veronica was the unwitting possessor of an unclaimed lease on my heart for at least three or four years. I never showed her the place, much less, offered her a key, and so it stood empty, and haunted only by my fantasies and daydreams. Even after she had transfered to the other high school in town, after her freshman year, and gone from my sight ever afterward, she was frequently on my mind for the next couple of years.
I had no idea what to do with my feelings. That's a recurring theme with me: what in the hell am I supposed to do with my feelings? Even today, that is a question that frequently bedevils me. I never regarded my emotions as reliable motivations to action. However powerful a motivator our emotions can be, merely having feelings gives one no insight into what specific actions one should take in response to their inspiration. I read in those old pages of mine a deep longing need to tell someone about what I was feeling. I never expressed it like that, explicitly, but eyes thirty nine years older have learned to perceive meaning in the whitespace. Why did I want to tell someone? I'm not exactly sure, even now. I noted that I couldn't, as if it were merely obvious that I wanted to do so, and I felt the need to spell out why I couldn't, in the pages of that now ratty notebook. I wanted so much to tell someone and I couldn't, and I felt the need to write that I couldn't on that page, to preserve it somewhere, to "get it out of me," in a sense. We are so powerfully moved to share our unique perspective on existence, and to experience the unique perspectives of others. This is the essence of loneliness. This need to trade from our unique vantage point in existence and to value and be valued, is at the core of what we are. It's entwined through everything else we are and do. I spent/spend, so much of my life thwarted in my pursuit of those "spiritual values."
I spelled out why I felt I couldn't share. I didn't want to be teased or ridiculed, no matter who did it, or how "gently" it was done. I guess I thought that if I couldn't tell anyone what I was feeling, and couldn't figure out what to do with my feelings, having hurt, embarrassment, and wounded pride would just be even more feelings with which to deal. Whether it was realistic or not, I felt very alone and isolated. That too, is a pattern with me. Although its details have gone through the sea change, the pattern is still recognizable. Reading my childhood gushings, I found some part of me thinking: "Idiot." Damn. What in the hell, Dude? Why does part of me feel embarrassed, that I was moved so? Why self-disdain? Why police myself so harshly? My parents would never have criticized me so bluntly, unless they were really angry, but there it is. In their usual condescension, and in the way that they acted towards me, that is the impression that they gave me. I didn't want to be "less" in their eyes, a second-class being, merely because of immaturity and having feelings. To me, being an adult came to mean, among other things, that one controls and suppresses the powerful desire to share one's feelings. Sharing feelings is the way that we can be manipulated, controlled, and somehow, regarded as less significant. We call this feeling that accompanies our efforts to share, "vulnerability," because to offer to share your unique perspective on existence is to run the risk that what you have shared will be disvalued by the person with whom you want to trade. This disvaluation is what David Schnarch describes as a perceived challenge to our identity or our integrity.
I was not valued for my feelings. I didn't want to be thought "cute," or "precious," or precocious. Sharing feelings of attraction for someone is, or was, a sure way to invite belittling from my peers. I realize that I got the same impression from my parents, although they didn't outright ridicule me, most of the time. They still seemed to be "looking down on me." They were no help, at least in that regard. I learned defenses against vulnerability. Even at the age of fourteen, I understood, and was writing about insulting people and "being silly" as cultivated defenses. It is notable that I didn't exactly understand against what it was I was supposedly defending. I had written that my mother believed me to be somewhat immature (for my age?) due to my defenses. How is that for irony? Who was it that was exacerbating my perceived need for defenses in the first place? That's all the better that she could offer though, the perception that I was somewhat immature. Telling my mother how I felt always seemed to be giving her tools and an invitation to be intrusive. I always felt as if I had to worry about what would come back to bite me. On top of that, my mother's actions only confused me. She supposedly loved/loves my father, but they fought, very often violently. I couldn't make any sense of that behavior. What did she hope to accomplish with how she behaved? Was I to be asking her about love? She was in love, supposedly, with a man she couldn't stop denigrating, one she couldn't stop trying to manipulate and change into someone else. I'm pretty sure that I intuited that discussing feelings of love and attraction with her, in anything but the most abstract senses, was a good way to end up more confused about my own feelings, rather than enlightened.
My father was no help. He was/is frequently dissociated from his emotions — at least, the ones that bother him or trigger him. When he feels awkward, he resorts to silliness and trite bromides. His TrueSelf is definitely not in charge of his conversation, then. He would say things to me like: "A stiff dick's got no conscience." Usually, I understood what his aphorism or bromide meant, but much of the time, I was at a loss to see what relevance the comment even had to the matter at hand. OK, so being aroused and attracted to someone was often an opportunity to slip one's conscience and do something one would later regret. I'm pretty sure he's talking more about himself than he was to me, in situations like that. Hell, my problem was in trying to figure out if even the most tentative of actions would produce any kind of valuable return at all, or end up hurting me. Foolhardiness is not a sin to which many would ascribe me. My father married my mother, and from what I saw, was faithful to her. He married a woman who took frequent opportunity to throw his past and his background in his face, and shame him, despite his best efforts to eschew and distance himself from the more dysfunctional behaviors in his family of origin. Talking to him about any kind of sanity in love and attraction seemed like digging up stuff in an onion field with the hope or expectation of finding an orange. There was no help there.
Why does she call herself a "kept woman" if this flatly contradicts so much of what I know about her and who she really is? Was she making a questionable joke? Was she trying to tell me something about herself, or at least, the way she perceives herself? Was she trying to admit something without actually saying it? What in the hell did she mean? Why is it that I very much doubt that I'd get real illumination from asking her that question? Why in the hell would she describe her situation that way? Was she wanting me to do something with that knowledge?
What was being offered in "sharing" that? If she does believe what she said, that sounds pretty damned insecure for a woman whose spirit and courage I actually admire, and I am disappointed. If she doesn't believe it, then why did she say it? Was she being manipulative? If she wasn't being manipulative, was she sharing her insecurity with me? What am I supposed to do with this, or about it? Hell, everybody gets insecure. It sucks. I have plenty of insecurities to go around. Self-doubt is imprisoning. If she really feels that way...disappointing doesn't entirely cover what I would feel about that. It would make me feel sad, to think she experiences those kinds of self-doubts. It makes me feel...protective...but half the time I'm not even sure how to be that, with her. I keep thinking she would perceive that as somehow catering to her weaknesses, or something. It's kind of conflicting to feel protective if the person about whom you feel it is going to resent it. She seems so self-confident to me, most of the time. I know that she has courage, and I admire it, greatly. I damned well know that I am in no way delusional about that. I'm in possession of reason and plenty of evidence, on that. Well, yeah, OK, in most contexts, I admire her courage. She has it in places where I think I could stand a little more of it, in myself. It's inspiring. It's one of the things that make her beautiful, to me. In other contexts, not so much, perhaps. Maybe I'm wrong about that too. Who knows? Maybe she'll figure it out and actually marry the man she's with right now.
Does she really believe that I am trying to "punish her" by staying away or is she trying to make this all about her as a means of manipulating me and having control? After all, if it is about her then she has some input into things, some control. If it is about me, then it does exclude her, whether I am there or not there is entirely out of her hands. When I told her this is about me and not her, why would she not accept that?
Delusional? I'm delusional? If it is true, then I am hurt, and I want to get away from this mess. Who wants delusions? I've had far too many of those and they're just gross. If it's not true, then why did she say it? Was it manipulative? If it's not true and she said it anyway then I am more than a little angry about that. Did she say it to be hurtful? To what end? Did she say it to push me away? What other effect would any rational person expect such a statement to have? Hell, if she thinks it's true why in the hell would she even think to question what I am doing? If I'm really delusional about what is between she and I then I need to get away from whatever is feeding that delusion, but she doesn't or didn't seem to want that. Is she in effect saying that she is OK with my being delusional as long as my delusions serve her desires and ends and she can control things?
Why am I so entangled in this, anyway? What in the hell am I doing? It's not like I don't know the material facts, the situation on the ground. She hasn't lied about that. Am I being needy? It's not like it is her who keeps me hanging out in limbo. I can be angry with her all I want, but do I really have a reason? I can disapprove of her actions all I want, but I can't say that I have been unaware of them.
I went poking around on OKStupid with a catspaw account this morning. I'm not exactly sure why. I'm not looking to meet anyone. I damned sure don't feel like dating, and if I did date, I wouldn't feel honest. I'm not interested in investing my curiosity in someone new right now. At any rate, I was window-shopping or fiddling around distracting myself. Is it that I'm just missing her? I'm not sure what I was doing. Some woman wrote in her self-summary: "I enjoy alone time, and want to be with someone I want, not with someone I need." I was tempted to write to her and ask what she thinks the distinction is between those two concepts. I wonder if she actually knows what she was talking about or is she just parroting the common wisdom and is just saying it to sound deep? It made me wonder. If she is aware of a distinction, what is it that she perceives herself to "need"? What does it mean to her, to need someone? What does it mean to me? I tell myself that I don't need L. Is it true?
Contempt is poison. It is one of Gottman's "Four Horsemen." Hell, I don't want it. How can I feel it though, and consciously believe that the target of the contempt does not deserve it and that to feel contempt is indeed beneath me? I am aghast at my propensity for internal conflict. How can I get to the bottom of this? I can't even make sense of it...and it hurts.
She says: "I am direct," (while implying a contrast between her behavior and mine) and then says things like "L. (her parenting partner) says our dynamic (hers and mine) is abusive." Robert is not direct, being the unenlightened and un-de-FOO'ed one, but she is, always. I notice such contradictions. She tells me that she does not treat me with contempt, but she has, and moreover steadfastly refused to even acknowledge or discuss it...for over two years. So, I experience cognitive dissonance. I feel like I can't talk about things like this with her without being accused of attacking her. It's frustrating. Is it worthy of contempt? Why in the hell would I ever answer that question in the affirmative? Still...I feel it...and sometimes, I show it. It is on my face.
Is she awful? No. Is she evil? No, quite the contrary. I keep saying to myself that everyone has blind-spots. I accept that. She is a remarkable person. Then what is going on in me? I see the pattern: I don't want to be in my father's position. I perceived him to be, courtesy of my mother's numerous complaints, and his own questionable actions, her mistake, and I have come to see that kind of existence as appalling. I have resolved to never again end up in that position...and yet, I still often perceive myself to be in that position. Is it just me, or did I actually become enamored of someone who recapitulates that experience with me? How in the hell am I supposed to figure that one out? There's an example of Peter Gerlach's "trust wound." I suppose that it is also compounded by the "shame and guilt wound." It is more than just dismaying, how these traumas combine in wounds that produce a kind of fractal pattern of cognitive and interpersonal pathologies. When it's not painful, it is morbidly fascinating.
Pete says these things are ungrieved things or traumas in us, and that grieving them frees us from them. To Laurel, "de-FOO" fixes everything. She doesn't say that as much, lately, which is just OK with me, because it really rankled me when I heard it. De-FOO is not a process; it'a a result! It's neither a means nor an end; it is a realization to which one may come. So, what's to do? More parts work? I suppose I should dive back into Pete's site. I can't get anywhere right now. I just end up making things worse. Sometimes, I find myself so unmotivated in the mornings. I have to drag myself out of bed, or lie there, working up the initiative to do something. That was the state in which I found myself this morning. Hell, I would have found sadness to be a relief, but I felt "insulated" from that. I feel tired and frazzled and frustrated. Part(s) of me insist that I may as well be alone; my company is not that appetizing right now, anyway. I think I want solitude. I want to go home, and be alone right now. It is not a good day.
There is too much going on at once. Jackie's headaches are getting worse again. She wants some sort of medical cure. Her good doctor, the family practitioner she likes, asked her if maybe she thought she might get somewhere talking to a therapist. I heard my own former disdain in her voice. She's angry and doesn't want to be thought crazy. Nobody is denying that she is experiencing these physical problems but she definitely does not want to entertain the idea that they have a psychological/emotional component, at all, or that maybe, she might find some insights in coping with these things if she spoke with someone. I asked her if she thought that I am crazy, after all, I am now talking to someone in an effort to find some clarity. That question got dodged artfully. There are no lessons so bitter as the ones we long to un-teach. Why would they listen best when I was wrong? I suspect it is because that we learn that we are wrong through age and experience. We are wrong before we are right. We are wrong when we are younger, and our children are younger, and that is when they are most vulnerable and impressionable. It is difficult to talk to her and reach her...and I'm not talking to the person with the good ideas in this arena right now. Damn it. This is what I get for plucking out my right eye. Ha.
At least Jackie will say that something is wrong. Shannon is trickier. I spoke to her last night around nine, and then again around ten, when I got back from Oakland, where I was helping Tom. She was having a panic attack, I think. She found herself in a position of being unable to swallow, and was retching back up the water she kept trying to drink. She described it as feeling like her esophagus was blocked. I suggested that she might want to call the ER and talk to them, but apparently, she decided to wait it out. I asked if she would call me back last night, when she knew more, after talking to someone with a medical perspective. She didn't. Instead, she went to bed. I called her this morning to check up on her and found out that the distressing condition went away after about forty-five more minutes, and that she was still tired. Well, as maladies go, ones that disappear on their own are better than one's like Jackie's migraines, which hang on tenaciously. The thing is though, I don't know what is stressing Shannon right now. It's worrisome. I think I'll call her tonight again, and see if she will talk to me. I can be difficult to reach her, in more ways than one.
I wish it were five o'clock. I'm not feeling useful, right now.