Category Archives: AA
It’s time to get raucous. Why has that word come to me 3 times in the last 24 hours? Raucous. It will seem that way to you. But that is because we don’t often look or listen or feel and also ask about the origins of what is being shown to us.
All I want to say and express is raucous to some (harsh, strident, grating, rowdy, disorderly…a little out of control). But there is pure sense beyond it. What is that sense I wonder…? I really don’t care if you can’t figure that out. If you can’t you can sit with the raucousness. If you actually wonder what sense if makes for me to get all raucous, you’re welcome to ask.
The truth about me — I have not expressed, reacted in my life. Early on I was scared away from doing so. I experienced terror as a result of showing my experience, showing my emotional reaction. I was scared away from having a perfectly natural…not just human response…but a response specific to me, specific to my make-up. Being alone and death were the threats that taught me to hide it all.
The gates would inevitably open though. And they are about to burst. Just writing these words is giving me nausea. I want to keep on typing words around it all. I want to keep on writing words all the way up to the gates…so close that I am tasting the ages old doors and the crap on them with my eyeballs. Part of me, even now, tells me I can be safe if I just-don’t-say it.
I am afraid to not ever be able to take back what I say when I say it. I am absolutely paralyzed by fear when I think of the punishment that could chase me when I say the words, when I show the anger the dissatisfaction.
Why would I be afraid that I won’t be able to take it back?
Because when you say what you really think in front of people who think you owe them, people how have built up such a city of avoidance between them and their own gates…they will punish you forever, because they think punishing YOU will get rid of THEIR pain.
Well, this is something that has occurred to me more than once as I found my gates again. As I found my way back.
But you know what? I thought that there was truth to the fact that I need to be punished for staving off danger. For revealing my boundaries. For showing someone I want them to stop hurting me. I thought something trumped that.
And again, you know what?
Fuck It. And Fuck You. And Fuck those people. And Fuck It All. I honestly don’t care if I sound disobedient, entitled, pissed off, disagreeable, defiant… (because I don’t need to care anymore) about how someone else is going to label it. How someone else is going to hurt me. They can’t fucking do it anymore. I don’t have to give any moments of thought to how selfish, violating, pricks deal with their own shit as a result of encountering mine. I have taken all of the responsibility in the world, including everybody else’s, for others’ reactions to me, for feelings others would have because of what I do or say or feel or let out, and even what I DIDNT do. And everyone can absolutely kiss my fucking ass. I mean all those who would blame me for ruining their day for doing nothing but expressing how I feel. Acting on how I feel. Being exactly who I am when I feel a certain way. Your uncooth shit is all yours. Go eat it, paint with it, shit on it, publish it, cry it out loud, I don’t give a fuck. Because whatever you do, whatever narrow-minded shit you decide to throw at me will bounce right back to you, Bigger, and Messier.
You know what I really think? – now that you know what to do with your shite reactions … I think that using a kid to make your life look worthy of something is a fucking asshole thing to do. I think that living your life with a kid as though the kid is a pet or a doll or a piece of baggage… an almost inanimate object is an asshole thing to do! I think that making your kid feel like shit because their feelings or reactions or bodily processes got in the way of your pathetic plans for your day or your life is an entirely fuckhead asshole thing to do. I think that intimidating your kid as a way to teach them how to ‘behave’ is a fucking numbskulled, asshole, manipulative,entirely abusive and cruel thing to do. I think that getting caught up in your own pissiness and fears and unfinished business enough to threaten your kid’s life (by cutting off their airway or using your adult strength to bruise and traumatize your kid’s little body) is one of the most insanely psychopathic and FuckHead, murderous, illegal, axe-worthy things that you could ever do in this universe. It’s like shooting a gun into the world when you are blind, deaf, and dumb. I think you are a complete cruel asshole fuckhead prick moron coward, shit-for-cells person. I think you are a complete fuckhead if you do all of these things and more and then completely lack the fucking microscopic shred of humanity that it takes to apologize with any dignity and honesty for doing those things, specifically those things (!), when you do decide that you think that maybe you might be able to kind of maybe apologize for “some things” you did. Oh, YOu “did some things you weren’t proud of”, eh!? I don’t give two or two thousand fucks for those pansy-ass coward words of bullshit. Want to learn what an apology is? No, it doesn’t sound like you do you Fucking Asshole.
I think that your bullshit formula of “moving on and forgetting the past” is a complete fucking cop-out…not only for the person you fucked with, but for you too. If you are too much of a fucking coward to even deal with your own shit with yourself, well you can go fuck yourself. I have no time, energy, or even favorable excretions for that. Show some fucking humanity and at least get in touch with the smallest inkling of a desire to clear your own self of the feelings that made you be such a fucked up, self-absorbed, terrorizing, abusive prickshithead in the first place. You know, you keep on spreading that shit around, even if you have it deeply buried in the bottom of the ‘secrets’ drawer in your mind, your memory, your emotional monsterass chest… And when I feel it, from you, our time will be completely limited, probably most often non-existent. Because there are billions of other molecules of air I can breath in billions of other places for billions of other seconds…and there, I will not have to be near that lying, sliminess you like to pretend that you are entitled to carry around because you are bigger or stronger than me.
And you know what? This is what hurt looks like, sounds like, when you pass it around. Especially when you pass it around to people like your kids who unwittingly accept it from you because they thought that the whole purpose of you, the whole purpose of that behavior was to take care of them, and teach them, and protect them, and affirm them. And you manipulate the situation by serving them shit, fear, a sense of self-worthlessness on a plate instead of honesty and self-reflection and tender caring, and tenderness allround.Fuck you, Fuckheads. Fuck – You.
Who the fuck teaches their own flesh and blood that love feels like Torture…
I Fucking dare you to do it again.
I am at the point in my life (my life with less drama) where I can begin to make my days my own. It is quite uncomfortable still, because I have a long history of being reactive and working my life around others. But the plain truth of it is, I am more free and able right now to create my own routine and have the freedom to keep up my routine without guilt or huge catastrophe.
Coming into one’s own routine is a real exercise though. I have been trying for ages to come to a clear realization of what I do every day that is really me, that I personally find really necessary, both the work and the play… I think that is why I began, a little while ago, keeping track of what I was doing day to day (filling in my calendar as I went, instead of only filling in my calendar and trying to stay strictly to that that ‘regimen’). I deserve to acknowledge what my activities are, haphazard or not, and pick out what my genuine needs are desires are and make sure I have those in there somewhere throughout each week so that I don’t feel like I am pushing myself too hard for too long with work, and depriving myself serially of ‘fun’.
Taking a close look at those calendar-documented days though has been super hard to do. Not wanting to really face (my perceptions of) how…disorganized, or unskilled I am at conducting my life. Once I began really dealing with my relationships and codependence issues I became also self-conscious of how inundated my life is with those feelings, thoughts, habits, actions that ooze codependence, indecision, fear, reactiveness, exasperation, victimhood, resentment, procrastination. Those things are written all over my days, weeks, months, years… Not easy to sift through.
But if I do sift through them, I find a desire to make my time my own. To break through a barrier of feeling like I am always running from time like it is a tidal wave coming up from behind, or running to finish dozens of things so that I can catch up to a moment in my life where I am supposed to be.
In my mornings I need to wak up to something nice. (This is the little poster I put beside my bed yesterday.)
In the mornings I also need to settle into my own headspace by exercising, coming into my body somehow. As a result of my childhood and of being in relationships with unsettled people and addicts my reaction to waking is usually a traumatic one. My mind races almost immediately…Maybe trying to escape something, maybe trying to anticipate something, maybe, regretting something from the day before…I don’t know. But it is not relaxing to wake up.
So, lately I have allowed myself to cater to that awareness that getting into my body with exercise is going to reduce the anxiety that is triggered through that morning mental rollercoaster ride.
Even after less than 10 minutes of yoga or stretches or walking it is like I can feel my ‘feet fall gently back to the ground’ and I get some traction for my day. Even just a little feels good.
Ideally I “Om” for 3 minutes at 8am (at the same time as some friends who also do the same wherever they are). And ideally I do a 15 minute meditation. I have had a difficult time sticking to these lately because I pressure myself mentally “You have already taken the time to be happy and exercise! How much more time do you need for yourself..!?” That is the voice of my mother, the disregard of my father, the neediness of some of my addict exes that I am still, for some reason, kind of jarred by.
Then eating is my next big, most amazing thing. I have really established an entitlement to regular breakfasts and good ones. My favorite things. Berries. Most often I have my smoothie (1/2 banana, raspberries & blueberries or strawberries or cranberries, or any berries…hehe…and peanut butter and ground flax, and sometimes greens, and maybe a date or two, and almond milk or coconut milk or cashew milk). This has gotten me through many hours of intense morning yoga training. I may or may not go onto the bigger breakfast right away, but I usually need, not long after, a bigger bite – oatmeal, or eggs, or pancakes, or granola…
Then after that comes the most challenging part of my day. If I don’t have ‘something’ scheduled, like an appointment or a class or something like that, I risk experiencing the fear of my own work.
I often have lots of errands to run, lots of admin things to do (planning and advertising yoga, etc.) and I definitely have lots of home chores to do), and I end up putting off the most me-centred, long-term productive activities until ‘later’. It is one of those things that I ‘cannot control’. Investing the time and thought in things that are going to lift me up, make me money, make me seen are the most terrifying activities.
That may be one of the reasons I began to document my days in my calendar in the first place…because I felt like I was so busy doing things all day but I always found that the most crucial things (publishing a paper, finishing a chapter, etc.) were the things that got the least of my time. And I experience so much shame.
So, making a routine of my own…I guess I have gotten somewhere. And I must say that I am further along with working on writing or planning a class when I am terrified of it. I think the thing that is key is making a routine of the things that I need to do, to eat, to feel so that I can do what I am supposed to do. One can not do the work they need to sustain themselves, do what we need to do to serve others in the world, share our knowledge and our talents without feeling good in our minds and our bodies…
So I am on the right track. Gosh, glad to be writing this. Breaking down barriers. Thank you.
This morning, after a few days of recuperation from seeing G…I talked to my therapist. Such a preposterous event. Seeing G. Forgetting things that I should not forget.
My therapist and I talked about some great questions… about love, about how I feel about love. Great thoughts about my feelings, about the question of whether I can act on my feelings. About feeling like a failure, feeling like a carer, feeling used, feeling vulnerable.
One big thing… One of the reasons I feel so empty, love-wise, is because for so long I have been in relationships with people and had to ask over, and over, and OVER…”CAN YOU JUST BE NICE TO ME!?!?!?!?” That question reverberates through every cell in my body. I wonder why, if they love me, they are so incredibly mean.
And I thought I always had to show them, on THEIR terms, that I loved them. As a consequence, I am out of practice loving in my own way. Loving ME in my own way, loving others in my own way.
Contentment in a relationship has always been a mirage. My mother always said, “as soon as I ____ we will do ______.” “As soon as so-and-so does _____ we will have ____.” As soon as I _____ I will have time to have fun with you.” Part of my duty, I learned, was to love her and give her everything that I had in the meantime, so that she would know that she was being a good mom. This goes the same for my most recent ex-partner.
The reason I feel so bare, like I have nothing, is that I have not given myself any more than that, or paid attention to what more I have given myself.
I have been working in relationships, not to be loved, but to be not hurt. That whole story of my childhood has been about being neglected, about being told to wait for love, and in the meantime being criticized for every way that I have tried to show love for someone else. In living that way I have felt hurt, constantly.
This is what it feels like try to not be hurt. Not to try to be loved…
At this point in this entry, if feels like it sounds very discombobulated. Working through complex feelings and events is…discombobulation.
The bottom line is that I have been working so hard to NOT be loved. I have been working so hard in relationships to not be hurt. I have been working so hard to not be unwanted. I have been working so hard to not be punished, to not be singled out for being difficult, burdensome… That is all even worse that spending one’s life ‘working to be loved’! The way to not be hurt is to not be around hurtful people. The way to not be hurt is to remember that I want me. I need me. And the way to not feel inconvenient or burdensome to others is to not be around people that find me to be ‘in the way’ of something else they have going on.
don’t get into relationships where people do not appreciate your feelings, good and bad.
don’t get into relationships where you can not do what you want or need to do when you want or need to do it
don’t get into relationships where the first thing you think about is what that person needs you to do or feel like, or look like you feel like, or what they need you to say in order to feel better about themselves.
Appreciate my feelings.
Do what I want and what I need as soon as possible whenever I want.
Think about the first thing I need me to feel, or look like, or say to myself to remind myself how necessary and powerful I am in my own life.
Tonight my yoga student told me he was not coming back to the yoga class I’m starting on Saturdays because the other guy that was there essentially irritated him. And he decided to stick in that he felt like the ‘third wheel’.
I think I saw that coming.
I’m pretty good at muting myself, always have been. And I’m also getting better at muting myself somewhat with people I sense are volatile. I don’t mute myself so much with the new student that irritates my old one because inknow he has a stronger sense of self and boundaries. So I can be more open and at ease. I know he’s not going to read things in wjere they don’t belong.
And my original student has been doing classes with me for a few months now and thinks he knows me, and has probably taken some ownership of me in his mind somewhat. I also have been preparing myself for that. As codependents we can really go places in our minds without any awareness.
So, the point of this post is, feelings?
I was taken aback by the irritation and frustration this guy expressed and telling me that I ‘gave the other student all of the attention.” I felt violated I think. Abused somewhat – someone implying that my social rapport with someone else was somehow bad because it made his and mine seem unimportant.
That’s a Manipulative. Inappropriate thing to say.
Feelings: offended, and the feelings I said above. Today I learned that feelings are, like knowledge, entirely important reasons to protect and advocate for myself.
So I’ve discovered some of the feelings. The appropriate actions are: to not argue with my student, to think about whether I want to have that student around and/or do that class anymore. Distancing myself may be a good idea…
They say that many if not all of us who can describe our selves as codependent and or addicts have problems with authority figures…
Today I discovered a new angle to my fear of people who have some aspect of my life in their hands.
I have never been a ‘difficult’ child per se. Or a difficult employee or student… I have been self sabotaging, however, I discovered, for the reason that I don’t believe that the person who has control over my time or my outcomes really cares. And if they claim they care and then do something that shows that they don’t, then it’s like my inner sirens go off. Because someone who has control of me and says they care but don’t, or hurt me are dangerous to me. Because of them no one will believe me, that I did not get what I need from them, because they are both my ‘boss’ AND claim to care. And I am in the trap of having to be obedient and grateful until I live out the duration of my role in that situation and move on. I have myself feeling so incredibly unsafe.
And the other juicy little tidbit is this one that my therapist really helped with. I’ve been having to advocate for myself left, right and center this week and I told her it feels like I have road burn. From tryin to advocate for myself! That’s how it feels to me to protect myself…other people’s shit feels like concrete rubbing agains my soft skin when I get too close to them.
And she asked, what is it that made you be able to fight for yourself, Shantelle? And I said, “knowledge”, sound knowledge, and extensive personal experience. It is strong enough that I know I am right.
And she said maybe you can think of your feelings as sound and strong enough to make you advocate for yourself too?
And it was like she opened up a drawer in my ‘self’ and in my personal toolbox that wasnt there before. She was like a fairy godmother that made a drawer appear :-). Hot damn…. So, I’m gonna try to take that places!
Here’s to undying efforts at self-searching and help seeking….phewf!
So…I’m talking with one of my sponsors today. We’re talking about me making amends to myself and I’m telling her how the little me inside (Little Shantelle) is so quiet and doesn’t want to really talk to me or come out of her hiding place until I’ve gotten my shit together…etc. And my sponsor says…”Is she kind of a brat?!”…with a ‘smart’ or bossy tone. And I just about lost my shit.
I have felt for the long time that I have had to hold my ground with this sponsor, keep subtly reminding her who I am and what my vulnerabilities are so that she will eventually not try to ‘know’ everything about me before she actually knows me. And I was right… To keep my guard up. It has been a good lesson. Calling my inner self a brat, considering everything we have talked about is actually unbelievable. And the biggest gift from it all?
I, all of sudden, was as pissed off and protective of a part of myself as I have been of my little brother, of my ex’s kids, of other people, of kids in general. I laughed kind of, on the phone instead of losing it… I felt like I didn’t say something when I shouldn’t have, but I also felt that it was not worth it to explain something to somebody who would not necessarily be ready to simply be sensitive to my reaction.
I was putting my energy into thinking of every possible reason to defend my Little self. Even though I myself have been impatient and dismissive, and not as sensitive to her as I have needed to be, I have at least come to an understand that I was and am not a brat. I said to my sponsor (trying not to scoff) that “my Inner Shantelle is NOT a ‘brat’ nor has she ever been a ‘brat’!”. Hiding is not misbehaving, and she is not misbehaving because she is hiding!! My Dad treated me like that. He bullied and intimidated and looked down on me when I protected myself and hid or kept my distance when I didn’t trust him, or something or someone…Refusing to come out is NOT being a brat! What the fuck!! When a kid cowers, they don’t deserve to be chastised, or criticized, or called names. Kids do not have many resources. And they do not have a lot of understanding of their resources! They are using what they can the only way they can! If there is an issue with them it is because there is an issue with YOU!
Wow – it is so fucking angering to have my scared Inner self be put in a position where she could be punished for something…AGAIN. The freaks me the hell out. And here I am finally being my own hero. Fuck off people. Do NOT fuck around with my feelings. And do not compromise me for having feelings, for being feeling, and for staying away from YOU because you think there is something wrong with my feelings.
Scared, traumatized kids are not being “bad”. They just don’t yet know how to live in a world in a way that they don’t have to be scared of getting hurt. And my Little S is perfectly fine just as she is. She knows the deal, she’s been through shit hundreds of times and no one has really looked out for her wellbeing. She knows she has been alone. and She knows the safest place is in her quiet little hiding place. And she will know exactly when to come and whether she will give you the time of day when she does. She is the smartest one of the two of us.
So Fuck Off.
All I feel right now is the desire to get out of me. I feel amazingly upset. Amazingly tired. Amazingly angry. Amazingly fed up. No matter how untrue the reasons for this, I need to express myself.
I have a meeting with my sponsor in 20 minutes or so and a half hour after that I have a meeting with my counselor. And I think I feel more like I need to be accountable to them than that I need to myself. I feel like I am supposed to feel better. That I am supposed to be doing better. I am angry at them and i don’t know why.
I am angry at myself. Trying to control my own feelings. Trying to control something that I don’t even often know. And I feel exasperated.
I think I am pouting and complaining…”Why does everything have to be so hard?”
I don’t let myself feel how sad and lonely I am about being alone. About feeling like I wasted 10 years of my life because I had no idea what was good for me. About feeling like I wasted almost 6 years of my life with someone who I did not know does not have the capacity to feel anything for more than about .05 seconds except if he is drunk. I don’t let myself feel how sad and lonely I am about feeling like an incompetent 7-year old in a 43 year-old’s body. I deny the real feelings. I police my upper limit like a sniper. I think of every possible reason why I can not get a job, a good job right now. I think of every possible reason why all of my friends are only here temporarily, that they will get past needing me.
[my mother instantaneously didn’t need me when she found a man – I turned into an inconvenient kid. The transformation was absolutely attrocious].
I want everything to go to shit so I can be right that other people are unfeeling, uncaring creeps.
When I was a little kid…between about four and eight years old, I would go off on long forest explorations all by myself. It was a wonderful place, the place where we lived at that time. The little house (it was actually built to be a cottage) was in the woods, a few feet from the ocean water. Evergreen forests, with birch trees, protruding bedrock, carpets of pine needles, and beautifully rich green moss. The amazingness of this wasn’t exceptional for me at the time. It was just there. It was a gift that I felt and lived, but did not think about.
My home had a less natural feel-good feeling. It was less. ‘Being’ at home was confining. Constraining. A place where I felt uncertain, often alert. A place where I was taught to dumb myself down, obscure myself, blend in to the walls, the furniture, the corners of the room.
Outside I would walk through the woods, across the street from my house, and then through the woods again to the ocean on the other side of the peninsula. I could breathe. I could use my energy, my senses, be in such good communication with all that touched me me and that I touched. The beach with the huge rocks, mussels, splashing waves…and I I could scour for crabs, and snails, and different kinds of pebbles, and shells. My best excursion – I took it only once – was up a rock face nearby. I climbed up the side of the rockface itself. These days people do it with climbing equipment. No one could possibly see me (and my 4-year old friend David who I convinced to come along) then. I had packed us a lunch and we made it all the way to the top. We sat on the huge boulder that you could see from 100’s of meters down. I surveyed the space that was mine outside my house and we ate our lunch.
For so long I have asked myself how, at that age, that excursion, and the many others alone in the woods near the ocean, could and still do feel so…fine for me. I was not trying to deceive. I was also not trying to hurt myself. I was going as far as I could to find freedom. Freedom from a more vicious, more damaging, more hurtful danger.
Today I was chatting with a friend about some of my personal inventory – it’s specifically about honesty right now. I was trying to answer questions such as “what did you lie about as a child?”, and “who did you lie to?”, and “what were the consequences of the lies you told?” Not so long ago I had answered a lot of the questions, and the answers were things like, “I lied about taking candy from my Dad’s side table” and “I lied about how much I knew about the dirty movies in the cupboard” and “I lied about how far I went into the forest and whether I went close to the ocean”.
With these answers, I now realize, I was playing into the trap, the trap that my secret excursions, my ‘dishonesty’ was possibly always about me defying, or deceiving someone, or about my mischievousness. Playing into the story that as children what we do is about obeying or disobeying our parents or authority figures. And into the story that as kids, when we do something we are ‘not allowed’ to do, or when we do something or know something past our age or supposed level of feeling or comprehension it is wrong.
Recently I tried answering the questions again. And the answers came to me differently. The lies I told were lies of omission. I didn’t reveal to my parents what I knew, what I understood, how I felt, or what I was doing. And my decisions and my actions were the prerogatives of a girl like me.
I learned at a very young age that my mother was not protecting me from people that would hurt me. By the time I was three years old I was around a man who I knew I had to be scared of. My mother was not aware of that, nor aware of me, my reactions, or my feelings. She married him. Over the next few years this man would get angry with me if I displeased him somehow and beat me with a bamboo switch. If I cried because he scared me he would also get angry with me. One night, at story time, he tried to smother me with a pillow so that my mother wouldn’t hear me getting upset. I couldn’t breathe. His face was a monster’s. At about five years old I was molested by the boy next door. He walked me into the woods and tried to get me to put his penis in my mouth. At nine years old I was molested by another boy next door, who up until that time I had trusted like a big brother. At 13 I became interested in the ‘bad boy’ that lived nearby. When he found out he took me down to the end of the street and tried to get into my pants. At 14, my 23 year-old swim coach seduced me. He was engaged to be married at the time, but within our first couple of months ‘hanging out’ I would have sex for the first time. Our relationship continued to his marriage and on still for about three years. Soon after that I tried to seduce my driving instructor – he was 29. I lingered after him for a couple of years, slept around a little through high school, university… Lingered after other guys…for the attention…and to figure out what it meant to get control of my life. All of this, like the climb up the side of the rock face, because it was safer ‘out there’ than it was at home. I felt more in control of my own care and my own life climbing up a rock face as a kid. I felt safer risking myself in situations like these than being a daughter.
That is was I learned to feel as a young, young girl.
When I would explore the woods alone, and go on these independent adventures, it was because I was learning that I could save myself from adventures that I put MYSELF in. Not situations that others did.
Up until so recently, I had continued to put myself in relationships that were dangerous, iffy, risky…because I wanted over and over again to prove to myself that I could ‘get myself out safely’. I was “keeping my enemies closer.”
And now I want to change this life.
What does one do instead of create challenges, instead of resolve challenges that one has created for oneself?
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?
One of the things I am interested in doing today is asking for my self-pity to be lifted. I am still not ‘religious’. I do believe, however that as human beings we have very powerful powers of perception…AND very powerful powers of perceiving things differently than they truly may be.
Self-pity…I had to look it up:
“Pity for oneself; especially exaggerated or self-indulgent pity where you believe that you are the victim who has done no wrong and is deserving of condolence from everyone.” (Urban Dictionary)
Yes, do I ever(!) There is a part of me (a much smaller part than it used to be) that believes that life is happening to me. That other people’s actions are happening to me. And that my actions are solely actions of survival and that I do not deserve to be subjected to others’ imperfections and the ways they make me feel. Woh. Now that is almost too much…
Inside, almost without me being conscious of it I think things like: “If Greg had been more honest with me I would not have turned distrustful, I would not have taken my attention off my school work, I would not have put energy into making him feel comfortable or accommodated rather than keeping my work time safe, keeping my sleep time sacred, feeling happy with how fine I am regardless of anyone else. If “people” understood the situation I was in, the choices I had to make, how strongly I felt about him they would give me a break, let me work on my thesis longer, give me more help, not leave me to do everything all my myself…” etc. etc… Unbelievable that things we (I) can experience so deeply and feel so strongly about are not ‘true’ or helpful, or right for us (me).
I would like that perspective on my life to change. That perspective on others. That perspective on what I have experienced and have to look forward to in my life. I am absolutely at the end of my desire to be my own personal martyr in my own personal ‘play’ of life…
I would like to feel differently.
They say (see book ‘Drop The Rock’ for example) that when we are asking for our shortcomings to be removed we must definitely be working on the opposites. What is the opposite of self-pity? Humility? The feeling that we are not entitled to ‘compensation’ for things that have ‘happened to’ us? Acceptance? Self-reliance? Self regard? Personal responsibility?
And how do I practice any of those?
Take myself through the moment. And be open to seeing how I come to that challenging moment. That challenging decision. Where did I exercise my free will? What can I say that I learned from my exercise of my free will, alone? What do I know about how such a situation can play itself out differently?
Please take self-pity away. I want to practice something else.
I will change my experience.
i deserve close attention so that I do not repeat the same mistakes, not attention that compensates me or gives consolation prizes for surviving a situation that I, as much as others, brought myself into.