We keep getting stuck here all the time...
I've been thinking about the problem of circles and cycles in thought and action. I may lament them, but the real question is do they have purpose. Cyclic processes are intrinsic to nature. Feedback systems, iterative processes, successive approximation, fuzzy-logic, the OODA loop, all of these are examples of processes of sensing and acting in a manner to optimize the perception of reality and to optimize the things which can be controlled effectively in pursuit of goals. I recently re-read some of my old entries because I had mentioned an insight I had and the fact that I had written it down and tended to do much of my thinking on virtual paper. I don't know what she may get out of reading these pages. When I did, I was struck by the repetition of pattern. In truth, I was a bit dismayed to note the repetition. We had talked about this when I was in her office last. I made the claim that the cycles were not completely circular, in that the action did not terminate exactly where it began, but that the circles were actually spirals, in three dimensions. The path is indeed circular, but more precisely, it is helical. The process would be similar to what Yeats claimed happens in the course of history to civilizations, but at the individual level. As much as I complain of repetition, there is growth and better understanding involved in the process. We are sadder but wiser. It occurs to me that all of this internal wrangling and debate do serve a purpose. Whether it constitutes "effective grieving" I don't really know, but things do get clearer. Is six months too long? Is that a relevant question? Do things not take as much time as they take? Regardless of how high or low my E.Q. is, and I don't even know if there is an actual methodology for quantifying this, it is what it is in the present and I have to live with what it is now, even if I can raise it in the future and do work toward that end. So, the "gyres" are not fruitless. Are they obsessive? How does one determine that? What are the criteria? Is there a time limit? I don't know. What I do know is that this iterative process does work in interesting ways.
I became aware of yet another example of this iterative learning process within the past few days. While back-reading, I found an entry of mine wherein I had listed as my mood a feeling I described as, "Roche-limit pull." I have tended to associate attraction and intimacy and connection metaphorically with the physical phenomenon of gravity. Gravity is a force of attraction, and its influence in the physical realm of matter is analogous to profound and pervasive influence that the attraction of connection and intimacy have in human affairs. I would not be so ignorant or vain to suppose or assert that I am the first to employ this metaphor. The lyrics of the song, "Lightning Crashes," by Live, for example, comes to mind, as making allusions to gravitational pull:
Oh now feel it, comin' back again,
Like a rollin' thunder, chasing the wind,
Forces pullin' from the center of the Earth again,
I can feel it.
You can hear it in the singer's voice: you sure as hell can feel it. It stirs up the ASMR just thinking about it, when my Internal DJ plays that song. So, the metaphor is common, and very old, and I have been aware of it, but I did find it interesting that I had, of my own particular inspiration, invoked the concept of a metaphorical "pull" so powerful that it approached an analogous metaphorical Roche Limit. Wikipedia has the following to say on the topic: Roche Limit.
The Roche limit (pronounced similar to the sound of rosh), sometimes referred to as the Roche radius, is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body's tidal forces exceeding the first body's gravitational self-attraction. Inside the Roche limit, orbiting material disperses and forms rings whereas outside the limit material tends to coalesce. The term is named after Édouard Roche, who is the French astronomer who first calculated this theoretical limit in 1848
The interesting thing to me, was that I had not yet read David Schnarch's book yet. I had intuited, in a very rudimentary way, that increasing intimacy and connection were challenges to one's integrity, self-concept, and the ability to "hold onto oneself." Here's what Schnarch says about differentiation:
"[D]ifferentiation is your ability to maintain your sense of self when you are emotionally and/or physically close to others — especially as they become increasingly important to you."
Schnarch, David (2011-10-01). Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships (p. 56). Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition.
Going blind, out of reach, somewhere in the vasoline...
The more my parts argue and fight over what I feel about the relationship and Laurel, the more I come to understand. The process is so grindingly slow though. Fear was our undoing. We got inside each other's Roche Limits, and our gravity, our differentiation, was insufficient to hold ourselves. Why am I so hot, still, though? Why are parts of me so angry? I keep suspecting that anger is a cover for fear and insecurity, somewhere, but as yet, I have been unable to coax an accounting from whatever parts, guardians, managers, or children, are responsible for it. What is it about our differing premises regarding the nature of sex that is so triggering to me? I get the impression of a sense of injustice when considering our interaction. Something is outraged. Why, still? What is it to me, anymore? What if I am entirely justified, even so, it is her problem, not mine. Where in the hell does my empathy go? Won't it hurt her if it turns out that her premise has been wrong? Do I feel no more protective of her than this? Moreover, why should I feel threatened? Parts of me are still chorusing with the refrain: "It doesn't matter!" What if I am correct in that I perceive her to be less courageous in examining her premises than she advertises herself? Am I more than merely ashamed of being that scared little kid in myself? Is it possible that I am also afraid of him, or for him? Is it possible that I am fearful of re-experiencing that fear? Is there any danger of that? Hell, that inner-child part got out before, in front of her no less. It gave me an adrenaline dump that lasted into next morning, but shit, I didn't take it out on her then. What's different when we are fighting? The parts who have more empathy for her defend her still: it was not malice. She doesn't understand. These premises are rooted deep. It's hard to pull them out and examine them or debate them. Her mind works differently. She feels judged and attacked. She's afraid. Why can't I just be curious? Why should that infect me? Where does my empathy go? Great Hod... that son of a bitch who was her father... damn, I hate that evil bastard, but was my behavior toward her any better? FUCK. It's not her. WHY AM I ANGRY? Hell, my own parents were often cause for my being afraid, but they did not "push" me or bully me, as hers did her, when I was afraid. I didn't get that treatment. Why do I show that to her? What about that incites my own insecurities? Is it the fact that she castigates me for what she perceives as my failings? I feel like a hypocrite. How then, do I fault what I perceive to be her hypocrisy? I remember, in addition to feeling a sense of sadness, for her, I felt a grim sense of righteousness when she told me that that bastard father of hers had hanged himself...and in some ways I treated her as he did. "My inner velociraptor," as I envision Schnarch's "lizard brain," got free and bit her, or "retaliated," as some of my parts would assert. In either case, why wouldn't she run? Damn it. I am better than that. She deserved better of me. I have had more empathy for that sweet little blonde girl who was threatened with abandonment and rejection. Where does it go? Why did it take so long to realize this? Damn it all. What can I do about it? Hell, I don't even understand it. When the realization came to me, as I wrote this, I went numb. Should the realization that I can act like him, damn it all, that I can fail Milgram's test, not make me feel abashed or horrified or shamed. I feel nothing. That's screwed up. That's not entirely true. I can reach my anger, I can reach frustration. It's still work, when I get numb or blocked but I can reach those. Why not fear, or sadness, or even guilt? Why do I have to "sneak up" on the other emotions?
You'll see the look and you'll see the lies, You'll eat the lies and you will...
Shannon tells me that I am scary when I am angry. Why should I be surprised? From whence did I come? What patterns did I learn? Adults are allowed to be angry. Anger is power and the power over fear. Fathers use anger and exasperation I can pat myself on the back all day long for never spanking my children but I know they experienced various traumatizations, at my figurative hands. My words, my tone, I am not unaware of their effects. I've known this for a long time. I got a taste of it in the ice cream shop, with Shannon. It started to become clear to me when talking to Laurel. Why did it still surprise me to hear Shannon say it a few days ago when we were talking? I knew it was the truth. I have raised my voice, I have slapped the table, pounded my fist into the palm of my opposite hand, used logic as a weapon more than a tool. I know the effects of these things and have felt badly about doing them. I can be verbally overbearing, even when it is only irritated exasperation I am expressing. Hell, I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of that. Even "mere" exasperation is a humiliating rejection. I heard my father's voice, when I vented exasperation on Shannon that day in Coldstone, and other times. I have no innocence here. Laurel saw it. She was so helpful in illuminating these things. It is another reason to miss her company. At any rate, even if I no longer have her input, I am still aware. I was aware before meeting Laurel. It is an awareness that has deepened, but damn it... Why does Shannon's statement surprise me? I think it is the fact that she would actually tell me: that surprised me. I wasn't expecting her to say it, to offer me such a truth. It is humbling to think that she can trust me enough to be so honest with me. She and Jackie deserved more; they deserve better. Why is it so frustratingly hard to find empathy for my own inner children?
Shannon told me last night that she doesn't like to feel around me. We were looking for a movie to watch on Netflix. We were discussing what would be a movie upon which we could both agree. She pointed out that there were only certain ones to which we would both agree and that the field was not extremely wide. I pointed out that it is very often, which is to say, more often than not, she who is the limiting factor, or nay-sayer on what we see. She did not hesitate, nor did she deny it at all, but simply observed: "It's true; I don't like to feel around you." Well, why wouldn't she? Nobody wants to feel rejected. I sure hated it. I remember it. Why can't I feel it?
In the movie, Inside Out, each of the characters is portrayed as having the group of the personified five primary emotions lead by one of them. For the protagonist, Riley, it is Joy. For her mother, it is Sadness who leads the inner group. I think I know who runs my inner group. Like Riley's father, no matter how "nice" he is, he is still lead by Anger. So am I. Why? Who elected that red hothead president? Irony. I am angry that my inner house has Anger for a boss? I guess Anger can be angry at himself. I think Sadness concurs with the assessment; there has been much to lament in this arrangement, over the years. Maybe Anger can set himself some proper boundaries? That is his purpose, is it not?