Saturday, May 19, 2012

Case In Point

As a companion to my earlier post

Diary, 1998

There must be something wrong with me that I keep seeing this.  That I…obsess on it.  That when it's present I can’t see anything else I feel so anxious about it.  There must be something wrong with me that I feel so anxious about it it becomes huge.  There must be something wrong with me that I see it but they don’t.  I have to be nuts and arrogant to think I see nuancesthings in their behavior that they say aren’t there.  My sick jealousy drove a wedge between me and Gary while his grandmother was dying and I have only myself to blame.  I’m building their relationship all out of proportion and then I do things to come between them.  I’m the one who’s sick.  I must be crazy.  I was deranged so badly by having a sick little sister that I read threats into their relationship where there are none.  The only solution is to confess everything to them both and ask their pardon, and see Darlene at least once a week.  Darlene is rude to me because she’s justifiably angry with me for asserting my relationship with her son.  I deserve her to ignore me, and to take my seat in the car, and to talk only to Gary.  I deserve her treatment of me.  All this resistance to her is shadow boxing without a shred of evidence.  The reason I can’t defend myself is because I have no defense—my feelings are indefensible.  There is no inappropriate attachment between her and Gary—only my imagination.  I couldn’t sustain eye contact with her at the beach because I knew I was in the wrong & knew I’d behaved indefensibly—wanting to be able to finish so we could be home in time to rest a little bit because we had to be up early to take Connor to the doctor…that was a selfish want in comparison with a need for closure to have dinner in Cannon Beach and pay for it too.  Even though we don’t really have much money and some big bills coming up we should suck it up and do it anyway.  And I shouldn’t want it to be known that its because of me that Gary could do that.  I’m just narrow and twisted inside—I’ve got to be, to be jealous of a man’s relationship with his mother, and arrogant enough to think I can analyze it and presume that they’re in denial about it.

  I feel kind of sick inside, to think of ending this entry here.  I don’t think I can write my way out of this, though, and I needed to write my worst fears about all this—that this is all a fabrication of my mind and that I’ve been subjecting Gary and Darlene to needless pain.

  If I were going into counselling, from that point of view—I would be asking for treatment to help me with obsessive thoughts and feelings that cause me to act in ways that are counter-productive and may ultimately threaten my marriage.  I would ask to find a way to ignore my feelings that cause me to feel possessive of Gary and competitive with Darlene.  There must be something wrong with me.

  What set this whole thing off was that I discovered today that Gary’s mother had come over here yesterday when Craig came by with Jenny; and Gary had concealed it from me.  (But why should he feel he should have to tell me?)  She’d brought over some pie—only enough for Gary, and her, and Craig, and Jenny.  He and I had had a soft and productive talk about her, and the trouble in our relationship around her both last night, and the night before…yet he still felt he had to conceal that she’d come.  I found out by finding a bakery box in the recycling when I went out to the garage.

  I feel a heaviness in my heart—a weight.

  I have to let this go unresolved—dream on it some.  I will embrace this circumstance as an oppurtunity to grow—even if it means away from Gary (a complicated matter when we have a child).  I will embrace this as an oppurtunity to grow, even if it means all my worst fears I wrote on the past few pages are true and that I am very wrong.  I need to permit that possibility, even if it makes my heart just sink, sink, sink.  (Perhaps what I sense is the temptation to give in; let Darlene have her way & then maybe what’s left over will be OK—and maybe there’ll be relief from the painful strife that’s gone on so long.

I was articulating my worst fears.  What I see now was that it suited her just fine that I was hamstrung by these doubts, because they made me that much less likely to interfere with  her access to my husband.  She would rather not consider that maybe her relationship with her son was enmeshed, because she would not "bear the trial of being disagreeable" with herself.  Therefore if anything in my behavior reflected a hint of this, the accusations were harsh.  My achilles heel was my fear that maybe I was these things.  How could I prove to myself that I wasn't?  Wasn't I just rationalizing?  She believed these things about me, and she would have me believe them too.  I made it convenient for her.*

*One of the biggest perks of this separation from Gary is that I'm no longer obligated to be around her --except maybe weddings and graduations. I can live with that.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Keeping up appearances

"If you are serenely willing to bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter"    Saint Theresa of Lisieux, as quoted by M. Scott Peck in People of the Lie

Who goes on to say:  “The evil do not serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to themselves.  In fact, they don’t bear it at all.”

The content of the story is not important here.  There is a deeper Story from which the particulars of my story spring which is that there are people around who cannot bear their own failings.  So they outsource the burden to the people around them—turning others into mirrors who’d better only reflect back the images of themselves they want to see.  If these people become parents, their child never knows anything different.  All s/he knows is that s/he is punished if something reflected back is an unflattering truth.  They learn quickly what is acceptable.  What does a child do when it realizes that its perception of the Truth is at odds with the 'truth' that more powerful people want it to believe?

Some exceptional people are able to stay with their Truth, and can swim against the current of belief which would also have them believe that they are bad people.  And some accept without question that good people do whatever it is that pleases the people who have power over them.  They are good people to the extent that they can deny anything they encounter that contradicts what they are supposed to be reflecting, and behave as if.

Self-doubt is the most potent of methods for tolerating giving to others what feels false to give.  If I’m not liking something someone is asking of me it must be because I’m selfish, or mean.  If my experience tells me different from a received truth, then I must be mistaken.  If my gut calls “pudding” shit, then it must be because something’s wrong at my very core.  Maybe it’s because there’s shit inside of me and I’m projecting it outward onto innocents.  Maybe I’m not accepting enough, too judgemental.  Maybe I’m not enlightened enough.  These people would rather I believe these things about myself, than face the truth about themselves.

I don’t know if everyone lives some version of this, or if it’s just an obscure psychic corner of the universe I was born into.  I’m not entirely sure what to do with this, or to what extent it continues to be invested in my life.

It does pose a puzzle about what to do about the people who continue to insist that only the image that flatters them is reflected back to them.  I can't avoid them forever.