My “The Anatomy of Choice”

Try ‘googling’ that quoted title. There are an exhausting (while certainly fascinating) number of articles and books…

science: “goal-directed decision-making in terms of embodied or active inference… associate bounded rationality with approximate Bayesian inference that optimizes a free energy bound on model evidence…constructs such as expected utility, exploration or novelty bonuses, softmax choice rules and optimism bias emerge as natural consequences of free energy minimization” blah blah blah (Friston K1, Schwartenbeck P2, FitzGerald T2, Moutoussis M2, Behrens T3, Dolan RJ)

change & pragmatism: “Choice is defined as “the selection between alternatives”. To select one alternative over another… “Why did you do that”… “What would make you do/not do that again”” etc etc…(Loy & Elder 2013)

a guide for actors who are building their characters: “discover and define a character’s scene and super-objective, obstacle, beats, and tactics… how to build a character…and what to do when nothing is working.” (Seriously, the book is called Anatomy of a Choice).

But have you ever thought about the anatomy of your own choices?? Really, to the depth that you know the most intricate threads that hold together and make sensible not only the ways you decide to act and do, but also the feelings that are attached to these that you take as ‘given’?

Well, I have been doing some of that terribly arduous work…because I decided with some conviction in the past few years that I REFUSE to continue on in this life of mine feeling like I am navigating an obstacle course. With brazen and courageous intention I am looking at, most importantly this past week, Guilt. My guilt.

Seriously. How many of the choices that you make each day do you make out of a terribly obvious or a terribly insidious and evasively disguised guilt?

None? Ok, good on-ya! Wow, I am dying to know what that feels like. (Not that I’m asking you to describe it…because you don’t know…It’s automatic. And besides I want to know what it feels like for me, not you.)

Well, most of mine are made that way. (Yes, this is one of the ‘wonderful’ reasons why my blog is anonymous…).

And my guilt…it comes from a place that has absolutely nothing to do with me having wronged someone or misbehaved, or committing some kind of heinous crime. I learned to take blame for the ways other people felt around me or about me, for things that happened to me because of that, AND for the entirely natural and human reactions I had to these things.

At five or six years old I cried when I was scared, and my ___ tried to smother me with a pillow so that my mother wouldn’t hear me cry. I couldn’t breathe…

I cried because I was already scared. I tried to hide that I was scared, but I could only hold back the tears for so long.

Although I have not faced that situation again, especially in my adult life…the fear was there to stay. Under the guise of ‘being a well-behaved little girl’ I suppressed fear of a man who I knew was unpredictable and an oblivious mother and acted like having a child was a little inconvenient.

My guilt is a life-long construction of how other people felt. About themselves and their life first of all. And about how they felt about me. My guilt had nothing to do with me.

Until, I realize now, that I began to act as though I needed to suffer everyone else’s ‘condition’ in life. Please forgive the ‘academic-ness’ of this next phrase or two, but I love this philosopher, and his techniques for understanding human beings. The Archaeology of my guilt is the discursive traces of fear, power, and powerlessness left by my past with which I can write a ‘history of my present’. In other words archaeology is about looking at my history as a way of understanding the processes that have led to what I am today.

Now that I know that my guilt came from nowhere legitimate – it came from me being human in an insecure environment, etc – , and that I am not my guilt (although I have made myself guilty…), I am looking for the answer to the question: How does someone without a fear of other people’s response to their humanity LIVE?? What does that person look like? Feel like?



About wonderfulshantelle

Journey To My Wonderful Self

Posted on January 26, 2016, in 12-step, AA, Addiction, Adult Children, Alanon, Balance, codependence, Domestic Violence, emotional abuse, emotional sobriety, health, Inner child, Outer Child, Parenting, physical abuse, recovery, Relationship, Self-Care, Uncategorized, withdrawal. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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