Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why does therapy take so lo-o-o-o-ong?!

Update: As I was headed to Scott's school for pick-up I heard an interview about "fair use" of copyrighted material. That reminded me that I had used material from J.R. Haule's book, quoting it extensively, but not specifically attributing all the in-quotes material to him. So I just wanted to make that explicitly clear.

OK, I think I've gotten it now that the ego is to the Self as surface tension or an oil slick is to an ocean (I'm imagining that place that holds a surface of water intact as a sort of "skin" on the water). My ego, my conscious mnd, received a gift. I feel as if my perspective, which has been very focused, has pulled back a bit, so I see a Bigger Picture. I have an overall sense of the Map, where I am on it, and where I am going. It's a lovely feeling to find confirmation for the work I've been doing.

I stumbled on it innocently. When feeling really discouraged last week at the array of mutually exclusive choices in front of me, I googled something on the lines of how long people typically remain in the type of therapy I've been involved. I've passed 2 years since my return to Sharon after our difficult ending so many years ago...periodically I worry about the addition of therapy to our monthly expenses and wonder if I'm getting anywhere near 'graduating'.

Among the hits my search yielded was a website called "Evolution and Archetype", a book in progress by John Ryan Haule. I'm grateful that he's posted his work here because it is a treasure trove for me. He is a Jungian analyst and this work puports to ground the theories of Jung into what's currently known about neurophysiology and evolutionary theory. Information that was not available in Jung's day appears to confirm some of his basic concepts.

Of particular interest was the section on "Complex Formation" and how this relates to neuroses, and healing.

The human psyche is dissociable. In extreme situations this manifests as multiple personalities where different ‘selves’ have a distinct autobiography within a shared skin. However, this is an extreme of a more commonplace fact of human life. We’ve all noticed ‘other selves’ within us. Each of these, too, has an identity which is located, anchored in, our bodies.

The human, and perhaps mammalian, and even reptilian brains have a task of developing certain efficiencies to speed the process of learning, recognition, decision/response. As the brain communicates with itself body circuits are established which become reinforced. Once a pathway is established it is predisposed to be reused:

Philosopher, Frédéric Paulhan, wrote a very influential phenomenology of the dissociable psyche in 1889, L'Activité mentale et les elements de l'esprit, that was read and cited by Janet, Alfred Binet, and Jung. It introduces three laws to describe the characteristics of dissociation:

1. The Law of Systematic Association: each image and memory tends to associate with others “which are able to be harmonized with itself,” work toward “compatible goals” and “comprise a system” (Paulhan, 1989: 88).

2. The Law of Inhibition: every such psychic element tends to interfere with and deny “the phenomena which it cannot assimilate in the interests of a common goal” (Ibid., 221).

3. The Law of Contrast: contrasting and opposed psychic states tend to alternate with one another and may sometimes function concurrently (Ibid., 315f).

For although each alternate personality knows only a part of the autobiography of the afflicted individual, each lives in an organized scene that is anchored in an experience of its own body. That somatic marker also grounds a relatively coherent partial history and a version of the individual's future. (highlighted text mine)

Often these patterns are anchored in our emotions. These are what Jung, and Haule, refer to as “complexes.”


Whatever has an intense feeling-tone is difficult to handle because such contents are somehow associated with physiological reactions, with the processes of the heart, the tonus of the blood vessels, the condition of the intestines, the breathing, and the innervation of the skin. Whenever there is a high tonus it is just as if that particular complex had a body of its own, as if it were localized in my body to a certain extent; and that makes it unwieldy, because something that irritates my body cannot easily be pushed away because it has its roots in my body and begins to pull at my nerves. Something that has little tonus and little emotional value can be easily brushed aside because it has no roots.


Jung often said: “Everyone knows nowadays that people `have complexes.' What is not so well known . . . is that complexes can have us ” (CW 8: ¶200). He meant that the “energy” of a feeling-toned complex, the way it can mobilize psyche and body, is often much greater that that of the ego-complex with its conscious intentions. The ego simply becomes “assimilated” to the intentions of the complex, usually without realizing it has lost its way (Ibid., ¶207) (highlights mine)


In any event it is clear when a “feeling-tone” takes over, we are emotionally affected, and our capacities for reality testing and discrimination decline, along with the stability of our attention and the resolution of our will. Our “level of consciousness” (niveau mental) drops, and we can no longer criticize the plausibility and relevance of the scene that opens before our eyes. As in a dream, we have lost the capacity for critical reflection and slipped into “immediate belief,” the inability to doubt what we think we see.

In other words, we believe we are functioning normally. The information we receive from our senses tend to serve to reinforce the narrative that particular ‘self’ has begun, in terms of its understanding. When our ego has ‘merged’ with a complex we are no longer able to function freely and flexibly, either in relation to our inner Selves, or to the world around us. We may find that patterns repeat themselves. The details vary, but the underlying pattern is what the details coalesce around. We repeat.

Saint Paul put it this way: “I do not know what I am doing. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:15,24 New International Version) Religions call it human “sinful nature.”

There seems to be a neurological basis for this. Detailed studies of the brain reveal a network of automatic connections that run through mid-brain structures to the cortex through the amygdala and thalamus. Researchers have dubbed it “the wheel of fear”. It’s a very old structure evolutionarily and has also been called our “lizard brain”. It is about survival.

Later in development comes connections of the thalamus to the medial prefrontal cortex—the structure which provides judgement and perspective. Messages reach the cortex through the amygdala (“the low road”) and through the prefrontal cortex (“the high road”). “The high road” buys us time between a situation that triggers our memories, emotions, & automatic responses and enables us to evaluate. We are able to differentiate the situation before us from similar past situations and we’re able to consciously evaluate what is before us, rather than through the stereotyped circuit of a complex.

It takes a while for those circuits to be laid down and established. But more and more I’m seeing evidence that it can be done, and indeed it is:

Therapy is just another way of creating synaptic potentiation in brain pathways that control the amygdala. The amygdala's emotional memories, as we've seen, are indelibly burned into its circuits. The best we can hope to do is to regulate their expression. And the way we do this is by getting the cortex to control the amygdala (LeDoux, 1996: 265). (highlight mine)

There was genuine joy for me in reading this chapter. It helps me to see where I’ve been, what I am doing, and where I am going.

And also why it takes so damn long.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well, I did ask for it...(interviewed by Mrs. Spit)

Mrs. Spit was interviewed on her blog a few days ago by one of her readers. She offered to return the favor to any volunteers and I foolishly put my hand up. She complained that her questions were hard? Look at what she gave me:

1. We all have a thing, that when we look back on our life, we wish we had done it differently, handled the situation with more finesse, made another choice, thought about more options. What's yours?
2. If you could be any age, with the wisdom and experience you have now, what age would you pick?
3. You speak about the need for solitude, how solitude recharges you. In what ways do you think the world might change, if we all had more solitude?
3. Coffee, Rain and Yellow or Tea, Sunshine and Green? Why? (pick the answer that most appeals)
4. If you could only teach your son's one life lesson, what would that lesson be?
5. You have been on a voyage of self- discovery. I suspect you have always been on this voyage, but have become, perhaps more intentional about it, in the last while. What one thing have you discovered about you, that totally took you by surprise?

Anyone want to answer my questions for me?

I've got a handicap and I should have remembered this before I put up my hand: I have a fickle memory. All kinds of memories come unbidden at odd times. But ask Memory a direct question and expect it to deliver and it goes all shy and coy. A practical example: No matter how many times I've heard of a particular movie and know that I want to see it, no matter how many times I've thought of it and resolved to get it, put me inside a Blockbuster Video and my mind goes blank. I'm left with an impression of the experience I want to have, but it's so faint it's more a torment than any use. Once I've left and gone home with an anemic second choice Memory awakens and supplies me with the missing name. So, question #1? Now I have those experiences so often (complete with the inner cringing and hopelessly wishing I could have a do-over) you'd think there wouldn't be any trouble pulling one out of the air. I'm not doing a GW Bush here (i.e. not being able to think of any mistakes he may have made because he felt he hadn't made any), it's just that in the forest of such incidents, no individual tree is highlighted. I'm sure I was thinking about one just the other day. ...Would it be the time I spanked my kid (yeah. I did it. Not one of my prouder moments.), a time I didn't advocate for myself adequately, something stupid I blurted out?

Shuffling through the card catalog of memories and trying to match one to the question has a side effect of re-living some of those tingly moments. (Thanks, Mrs. Spit) Here's a relatively benign one:

The preschool where my boys went in St. Louis is on the Washington University campus. This is part of an upscale municipality called Clayton. The school is in a neighborhood of graceful old trees and graceful old estates. My kids were attending school with some very wealthy children.

Every year, like most schools, this preschool has an auction to raise money. Each classroom does some kind of a craft which is part of the oral bidding. There is also silent bidding on some pretty cool stuff.

The year I went, my first (and so far last) fundraising auction ever, Scott was just an infant. We found some friends who were willing to watch him and Connor. Dress-up affairs were relatively rare for Gary and I so we approached this with a mixture of anticipation and intimidation. The venue for this gala was a preschool family's mansion in the Soulard neighborhood, sort of the old French Quarter in the heart of old (like 18th century) St. Louis. This grand house was on a square and one of the activities for the evening (besides eating, drinking, and bidding) was a carriage ride around it.

The good time was short-lived. When we called to check up on the kids we could hear Scott crying in the background. He'd slept for a while, but when he woke began to cry and hadn't stopped. Our friends weren't complaining and probably wouldn't have called us, but Gary decided he should go get them. He'd bring them back to pick me up. So much for the carriage ride.

The oral auction was just beginning when he returned. I was gathering my stuff to go when one of the mothers from Connor's classroom asked if I wanted to pool my resources with her and a few other families to buy the project our kids' classroom had made. I said sure. She asked what the maximum amount was I was willing to bid and I called back to her as I headed out the door, "Oh, five, ten dollars!"

It was the following week when the school newsletter revealed what some of the oral auction items sold for that I realized just how far in my mouth I'd stuck my foot. Connor's classroom project went for $600; another went for $1100. And I could see an image of myself walking out the door, calling over my shoulder, "Oh, five, ten dollars!" Oh. I get it now. Fund. Raiser.


And that's just the first question.

2. If you could be any age, with the wisdom and experience you have now, what age would you pick?

Only I can make this one complicated. I keep thinking that my earlier selves are part of the bedrock that "makes me what I am today", and so if I picked one of those ages, would that change who I am today? Or, if I'd had the experience et al that I have now, would I have even known some of these people? I was adapted to the environment I was in then, with my inexperience; part of the package was gaining experience. The friends I had during that time fit me in accordance with who I was then. There are probably some relationships and situations I wouldn't even have entered, had I had the benefit of the 'wisdom' I have now. And yet, those relationships and situations I blundered into yielded some really memorable and rich experiences. So when I picture myself, say in my late 20's or early 30's when I was at the height of my physical strength and endurance and adventurous spirit it seems obvious to me that this might be where I'd put my present self: a nice blend of physical prowess and mental maturity (blush). Except that some of the friendships I associated with then and gave the benefit of the doubt for too long I'd have much more easily left, and then who would I be now? It occurs to me that the place that could benefit the most from who I've become--is early childhood! To have the perspective then that I have now would certainly have eliminated a lot of confusion that I've spent years unconfusing. It would have saved me a lot of heartache. In fact, now it takes me on a fantasy of what my life would have been like, the path of development I'd have taken, had I been able to approach it with my eyes clear and my spirit unfettered.

3. You speak about the need for solitude, how solitude recharges you. In what ways do you think the world might change, if we all had more solitude?

You know, I don't think solitude is for everyone. I think there are probably more people who seek to avoid being alone than seek their own counsel. Perhaps if we all had more solitude, it there would be more Big Ideas--at least there would be the stillness to allow them to emerge. Does blogging count as solitude? I'm not sure, since I'm partly talking to myself, but also partly talking to others out there. I would assume that other bloggers are also in that odd in-between: alone, yet in almost telepathic conversation. I've certainly received a lot of enriching inspiration and insight from the thoughts of solitary others I would never have had a chance to meet. I've had a utopian idea that in this the internet is a force for Good. Yet, there is the shadow too, of pornography and conspiracy and the seeds of destructiveness. To return to the question, my guess is that the world wouldn't change much because most people would see solitude as a hole to fill, rather than a gift to use.

3. Coffee, Rain and Yellow or Tea, Sunshine and Green? Why? (pick the answer that most appeals)

"They call me mellow yellow..." What have you been smoking, Mrs. Spit?

And can't it be Coffee, Rain and Green? Or Coffee, Sunshine and Green? When I engage my conscious mind coffee, rain, yellow appeals because I actually like contemplative rainy days, and yellow makes me think of light. And I prefer coffee to tea. Yet there is something Japanese-gardenish about TSG--hey! I just saw the acronym for CoffeeRainYellow! Is this a trick question? ???

4. If you could only teach your son's one life lesson, what would that lesson be?

I think it would have to be to trust themselves, and to grow a Self they can trust. My guess is that this is the root of all of their subsequent relationships, their ability to make good choices, the core of their self-worth and inner strength. It's their base from where they can establish nourishing relationships and keep healthy boundaries. And their base from where they can differentiate from their father and me and become fully their own people. As a corollary I'd like to guide them toward inhabiting that Self, and awareness that they are doing so.

5. You have been on a voyage of self- discovery. I suspect you have always been on this voyage, but have become, perhaps more intentional about it, in the last while. What one thing have you discovered about you, that totally took you by surprise?

One surprise is how long I've been willing to stick to a lost cause. The other is how suspicious I was of my own motives and intentions (yeah, yeah, you said "one" thing, but they may be somewhat complementary.). I'm surprised at how readily I attributed the worst to myself.

Thanks for the mental stretch, Mrs. Spit. My brain is sore and I anticipate a fog for a few days. Coffee, rain, yellow indeed. I'm going to cruise around to some of your other volunteers, and if you've soft-balled their questions....I'll...I'll...sputter helplessly



As I followed up on my threat to go visit the other interviews, I realized the effort Mrs. Spit had gone to in finding just the right customized questions for all of her comers. It seems there are many who want to be interviewed by Mrs. Spit. And, I realized that the flip side to my complaints that the questions were hard is how hard she had to have thought to come up with them.

Thank you, Mrs. Spit, and this time there's nothing flip in that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Holy Grail, or Coyote Universe, Or Sigh of a Spoiled Mom (on a spoiled day) Waaaaa

(background soundtrack: "I'm ba-a-a-a-a-ck!! Back in the saddle again!")

I do love my kids.

I remember when Connor was first born and all I wanted to do was be with him. I couldn't relate to moms who complained when school was closed--how could they not want to be with their kids?

As with all things parent, I Learned. I've eaten more humble pie than is comfortable, and then I've eaten more.

It's become a quest of sorts, to have an entire school week intact as far as solitary time. For some reason psychologically I feel incomplete when I look back and see that it's been since before Christmas that there's not been one unspoiled week. Either illness or holiday has marred the perfection of the Uninterrupted Week. (Well, aside from Scott's half-days on Fridays and the voluntary interruptions of helping at the schools .)

Typical week:

Mon: volunteer at Connor's school

Tues: free!!!!!

Wed: volunteer at Scott's school.

Thurs: free!!!!

Fri: half day for Scott

This week Gary scheduled an architect and his wife to come over Wednesday morning to discuss what might be possible with a hypothetical garage. I received a call from a home appraiser to tell me he was scheduling his visit for Thursday afternoon. No negotiating about what works best for me--that's the only slot he has take-it-or-leave-it. Rash of home appraisals takes any choice out of my hands.

So today, this week was to be my one uninterrupted day. It was threatened by a forecast of snow. This morning a half inch sat on the ground, not the 3" predicted. As I sat down after dropping Scott I contemplated the notion of having cake and eating it too. I thought about making a post about it--the moment of perfection is in getting home and taking off my coat. All the rest is a relentless march toward the end of my one solitary day. I thought what a pessimistic orientation that was.

The phone rang, just as the laptop whispered, "It's ten hours," the number for the public school system came up on caller ID. I'd personally given a check to the lunchroom lady yesterday so it couldn't be about Connor being in arrears. The Responsible Parent in me (yeah, she's in there somewhere) (and she parents me as well as my kids) picked up the phone. Yeah. Connor. Stomach ache and Diarrhea. Yeah. How does he look? OK, guess I have to come and get him. (The Responsible Parent in me didn't put it quite that way.) (The Responsible Parent in me did allow me to finish a comment I'd been in the middle of posting when the phone rang. The roads are lousy; it's going to take me a while to get there anyway. He can wait.) On afterthought I called the school secretary back and asked her to tell him to go to his classes and collect all his homework assignments. So there.

He can't be sick on a day when solitude is going to be interrupted anyway.

"I'm ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ack!!!!"

Next week won't be a Perfect Week from the get-go. President's Day.

At least it falls on a volunteer day and not on one of my 'free' (yeah, right) ones.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Counseling Session with Sharon

I dreamt last night that Gary and an old boyfriend were kind of interchangeable. They wanted to do things with someone: Charlie with Nancy, the woman he’d been involved in before me; Gary his mother. Maybe there was a bit of John D. in there too, with that woman he was interested in at a restaurant we used to go to. Scott needed something and Gary/Charlie wanted me to take care of him while they took out Nancy/Darlene. In this dream I wanted to go with them; I didn’t want them going somewhere with these women without me. And one of the men asked me why not? And I said, Because I’m jealous. And I realized in the dream there was a time I would have rather died of shame than say that. I would have self-censored it; I would have tried to keep daylight between me and it. I felt good in myself saying I was jealous. Not relieved, particularly, but the sense of integrity from telling the truth. I said, “I’m jealous” and I let it stand. I may have even thought about it a little more in the dream, comparing the term with my insides and checking its accuracy. ...After I’d told him I was jealous, I ate a blue m&m off the floor.

There was another part of the dream too where I’m out in my yard and there is an azalea plant. There was something I was expecting from it—maybe some pretty foliage or something. Instead, it was studded with buds and beginning to bloom—beautifully. It surprised me because it was not what I’d thought was the normal bloom time of an azalea. It seems it was blooming—what, later, or earlier than what’s usually expected. Maybe it was early, because I remember having an idea in the dream that it must be a plant that’s meant to provide winter color—and it was gorgeous. A prize and point of pride. I was proud that I had this plant and proud to show others this unique and beautiful thing, growing in my yard.

Sharon said that it seems kind of funny that we humans have developed this great big brain, ostensibly for thought, and then choose feelings, Feelings, as our guide. Yet, the brain developed so we humans could figure out how to live with each other, because we had to, for survival. Our brains are about ‘how to get along’ with other humans. For safety. It’s not about Truth.

That surely makes sense. I mean, it kind of explains my whole upbringing and the unspoken ideas I was supposed to absorb and implement. There were certain forms of ‘getting along’ that I was supposed to comply with. Necessary hypocrisies, like pretending deference to adults who were being unreasonable. Denial of self. What I’ve been coming up with in terms of ‘erasing’ myself fits in to that model of the brain developing as a means to figure out ‘getting along’. It makes sense that I would be considered the faulty one if someone stepped on my feet and I called their attention to it. I was not supposed to notice, and if I did, I was not supposed to let the offender know, meaning I wasn’t supposed to let the offender know I knew. I was supposed to protect the offender’s sense of everything being right in his/her world.

So, at least intellectually I can see that I am going against a Pattern of being with other people; this is counter not only to the way I was raised, but to something that’s almost genetic in humans. To go against, to not get along, to not fit in, with other humans, to say no to them, declare one’s own Self as distinct from the group—is dangerous. Witness Galileo.

I think I’ve spent a lifetime denying my Self my feelings—such as the jealousy I mentioned in the dream. Basically these feelings were assertions of myself; a demand that my needs and priorities come first. And I could not insist on that and back it up, because I was ashamed of feelings that supported that impulse. I’ve spent a lifetime beating them back.

Certainly ‘getting along with others’ is very different a goal than that of being True.

Something here reminds me of the military. The way that the men in a combat unit aren’t fighting for an ideal, at least not in the heat of battle. They’re fighting for each other. Something about that seems kind of horrible. It’s like that natural impulse of humans to care for each other is being exploited. That’s what the cutting edge looks like. To a military strategist the fighting troops are the cutting edge in achieving their goals. Taking a key piece of ground; denying the enemy some need. For a blade to be able to cut it needs to be sharp. The love of these men for each other is what sharpens the blade, so they can act as a cohesive unit. This seems very wrong. To the strategist it looks like lines on a map. On the ground it looks like men loving each other and trying to protect and help each other as they strive to advance that ‘line’ a little bit forward.

So I guess that one of the socializations that human beings have taught each succeeding generation is that getting along with each other is the key to survival. I suppose some of us learn it more forcefully than others. I see what Sharon means about the Conscious Mind and the Heart. Very different agendas, one toward getting along in the world; the other toward the Truth. Religion and the traditional socialization mechanisms would become very important here: church, respect for Authority. Perhaps these conventions functioned to protect the person with an erased self. If there are strict rules guarding, say, one’s sexuality, then the person who’s been taught to submit their will toward others isn’t as likely to be ‘persuaded’ by the demands of someone who hasn’t sublimated their own sense of self quite as much. The erased self then feels an entitlement, indeed an imperative to resist the Other's persuasions. And these imperatives have to be backed up by Something or else they’re meaningless. So God becomes helpful. Interesting to conceive of religion in the service of socialization, rather than seeking the Truth.

There are people who don’t seem to be ashamed of demanding their own way. There are others who permit them. There are people who aren’t at all ashamed to say no, and have none of the phobia about doing that.

Is it possible that this conflict between my inner truth with what I was taught about what it takes to ‘get along’ is the core of the pattern that has run my life?

I do find, in my reading back over what I’ve written, that there is some terror of not-belonging in the phobia about "No" (not being able to tolerate that moment afterward without struggling shamefully to fill it with apology, with promises, or reasons). There is also some kindness, too, motivating that. There is both.

I also see in my writings a lot of turmoil, and a desire to erase my own feelings. Feeling unentitled to ask anything for myself, let alone demand it. That’s because I couldn’t, not without all those parts of me that had had to go dormant, because they wore such an ugly mask if they surfaced. I see now they weren’t monsters at all. And, I see that they were what was sacrificed in my effort to ‘get along’, which was pretty highly valued in my family. And I see I blamed my feelings for 'telling' me the pain of being erased. I wanted to erase the pain, and I blamed myself for having it.

So, if mainly all the years of writing I’ve done is to get me to here, to "claiming my disowned parts" without shame or apology—to acknowledge their truth…do I have as much need to write? If a great deal of grief in my life has come from the dynamic of taking seriously doing whatever it took to get along, and I’m unwinding that, then what? Do I start to move past the fierce need for such solitude? Do I move past the need to write?

All my life, any situation that involved me asserting my preferences and priorities put me into a huge bind because I’d really come to believe that I shouldn’t. I was dependent on Others to grant them to me, but I couldn’t insist on it. So when it came to a conflict between “me” and “thee”, the default setting was for ‘me’ to accede. Anything different from that was just crippling with anxiety. And it certainly meant a leakage and hemorrhage at the interface, the microscopic interaction of personal boundaries. There was a permeability of boundaries there. To define mine was to state that my preferences in that area were more important than the Other’s. Sharon and I talked about my perplexity about where I really do end and begin in my interactions with others, if it’s true that everything that comes into me is filtered through…me. If I say I’m feeling something from another person, is it just my projections, or is it for real? If I feel a sense that someone wants something from me, does that mean that they do? Or is it me filtering all input through my history, selecting out certain elements to form a pattern that I then identify a certain way? Where if I was different, the same set of circumstances might find me selecting other elements out of the Ground and perceiving an entirely different pattern? Does this invalidate my feelings?

Guess I was well socialized.

I wrote this in January of 1982; 27 years ago. It’s an example of a dynamic of accusation I unearthed a couple years ago. To rise, to accomplish something, to do something new and different that required some courage—it loosed an avalanche of self-accusation in me, because it seemed that to rise beyond my family was to somehow accuse THEM. There was this hint, or ghost of that:

I realized a dilemma, earlier, thinking about writing to John and telling him the things I’m doing lately. And cringing because I feel I’m doing it from a smug, self-satisfied, bragging, conceited motive. A fear of stepping outside of my bounds by saying, “I’m important” (For who would do or talk about these things unless they would think these things are important, and they for doing them—I feel like I haven’t a right to say “I’m important.” And I don’t know—how to let myself say, “I’m important" without being uncomfortable—or feel like I’m pushing on other people. When I consider my accomplishments & imagine talking about them I see a picture of me getting bigger, spreading out, and impinging on people’s space. Shoving them aside. I feel I’m putting them down ...

OK, so there’s a concrete example of how that dynamic worked in my life. The thread of the pattern definitely weaves through here. I accused myself of self-aggrandizement, even in talking about the things I was learning and doing. Because there was a ghost of a feeling that I was accusing the people I was talking to, in daring to emerge from the usual, do something that distinguished me. Highlighted the ‘not-me’. Which seemed exceedingly disloyal; so disloyal I had to accuse myself. It’s kind of amazing I kept going.

Because, painful as this thing was, I was on the cusp of a brand new life; the start of an amazing life, actually, of adventure. And of seeing myself rise to its demands. Where I met some very important friends, some who I still have today. Who influenced who I married which gave me my children.

So, beauty came from this. As Sharon once said, years and years ago, “You’ve managed to carve out a good life for yourself.” So, despite the very hampering effects of the pattern, I was able to lead a life that gave me great pleasure and satisfaction.

And if the dream is any indication, my life is beginning to bloom.

Monday, February 2, 2009


The kids had Martin Luther King's birthday off two weeks ago. They got another holiday this Friday just past (two adjacent 4-day school weeks). Connor was sick Monday and Tuesday last week. At least I didn't have to go to his school to volunteer.

I started a blog post then. Thought better of posting it, maybe because of the whiny tone:

Sick (?) kid

The oldest this time. His dad had a cold that laid him flat out, so I'm hoping to head that off by keeping Connor home for today. As far as solitude time goes this week is hosed anyway: reading with a student at Connor's school on Monday, opthamologist (now why the heck am I getting the red line of misspell under that? Blogger's dictionary doesn't recognize this word? It's not like it's that uncommon.) appointments tomorrow afternoon. I'll have to take them out of school, assuming they go. That subtracts 2 hours from alone time on a day I ordinarily have a full school day's worth. Wednesday 2 hours in the afternoon at Scott's school. Friday this week the school system has a teacher learning day. Scott's school has half days on Fridays anyway. They had MLK day off last week.

So I get a pass today on reading and library work.

This boy is my Chatty Cathy. I sent him in to do homework and he's still talking. I told him that I hope he's never in a situation where his life depends on his keeping his mouth shut. I told him he should tell them to just shoot him and get it over with. We had a good laugh.

At least the dog's doing great. The dental work has given him a new lease on life. He'd better live a long time.
Another grim piece of silver lining to the thing is at least Connor's being sick (?) coincided with a snow-and-ice day. Two home days for the price of one.

I took the Myers-Briggs personality assessment years ago. At the time I tested as an extrovert, but just barely across the line from introversion. Something about having kids has pushed me deep into introversion territory. I get kind of twitchy when I don't get a certain amount of alone time. Solitude is a commodity for me, like money in the bank, or water in a bucket. I dole it out very stingily. I hoard it. And if the level dips below a certain amount I start to feel deprived. Particularly when it's been a long patch.

Last week I considered lost since they were going to be off on Friday. I think that's what helped me keep some equilibrium when I decided to keep Connor home from school. Last week was lost, but at least this week would be the start of a two week stretch of 5 day school weeks. The climax of the last two weeks of disruption was the superbowl party I let Connor throw. He invited 6 boys. From the get-go I told them that they were confined to downstairs, or outside. The noise leaked though. Gary had been wise enough to lay a tarp over the carpet in the area we allowed a food table. (Ordinarily we don't allow food and drink downstairs for kids; the several stained areas testify to the need for that rule.) I'd thought the kids were mature enough that they could have a party with food and drink and not trash the place. Now I'm thankful for the tarp.

Today was my holy grail. I didn't realize how much I was counting on it as I drove Scott down the hill to his school. I noticed that street parking was easier than usual. I noticed the van of another student's dad drive by. As Scott and I were crossing we waved. Before we could say hello the window was down and Emma was saying, "No school today." What????


And dammit!

I mean, damn it

There is no such thing as aloneness with kids around. They are the antithesis of being alone. Even when they're downstairs watching TV and not directly demanding my attention I'm feeling guilty because they're downstairs watching TV.

At least I don't have to go to Connor's school to volunteer.

And the dog is still doing fine.