Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another possibility

My counselor suggests this one:  Doldrums as Protective Screen

In other words, awful as this period in my life feels, it's a firewall to shield me from something worse.

Or, it's like the wall of background radiation from the Big Bang, beyond which humans have been unable to penetrate.

It does have a bedrocky feel.

In the world of insight psychology the theory is that the obstacles to living fully are the very defenses we put up in order to adapt to a demanding world when we were newly conscious beings.  We warped ourselves in order to placate those we were dependent upon for survival.  (Additionally, those we were warping ourselves to please were themselves warped by their own adaptations.  So we adapt to their adaptations.)  (Not all of us were subservient; some of us warped ourselves in order to defy those we were dependent upon.  I myself was too afraid of pain to be heroic)

If I'm understanding Shannon correctly, my decision to go-along meant leaving my Soul behind. Feeling deadened is in some ways preferable to feeling the full significance of the realization that those we depend upon are fallible and untrustworthy.  Apparently knowing fully just how capricious my guardians were was so terrible that I had to protect myself from that knowledge by blaming myself whenever our paths crossed.  I had to sacrifice myself in favor of them, and whatever it was I did in myself to account for that set up patterns in my behavior that doomed me to repeating the same patterns over and over.

And it's true that there seemed to be a cyclical, patterned, almost pre-ordained predictability to my relationships (especially romantic) that were infuriating, yet implacable.  In order to keep the people I loved, I had to be different from who I really was.

So, maybe the Doldrums is about returning to an experience which was a consequence of having renounced my True Self in order to get along with those who needed it of me in order that they could live comfortably within themselves.  According to the theory, my next developmental task is to feel the feelings that I avoided feeling by opting for deadening instead.  Which I have no idea how to do.  I have no idea how to access feelings that hypothetically would have destroyed me to feel as an infant and so hypothetically this preverbal self opted to deny herSelf in order to survive.

In some ways it sounds like so much shit.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

So is there a cause?

I'm three years now into the separation from my husband.  Maybe that's a cause of the doldrums, lingering in this limbo.

We're tinkering with the rotation, where he and I switch between the house and an apartment while our sons stay in the house. For a while making the change on a weekly basis seemed too often; it seemed I was packing and moving constantly.  So we expanded the times between to two weeks.  It was easier on me, but the boys began to complain.  Part of the issue, they said, is that they felt they were spending far more time with Gary than me.  And it's more than a matter of perception; they are right.  Gary has kept his home office, so even when he lives at the apartment, he is at the house daily.  When I'm at the apartment I'm at the apartment.  This has been especially noticeable in the summer months when the boys are home from school.  Now that school has started there should be some mitigation since they're gone when he's there.

We decided to speak to their perceptions of the lopsidedness with a 9 days Debora-on and 5 days Gary-on schedule.  I have every-other Tuesday off from work, and thought if I had every-other Saturday through Tues at the apartment I'd get my break from parenting, but still be there with them during the important parts of the week.

This is just a stopgap.  There are other reasons the Debora and Gary shuffle hasn't been working optimally and I'm eager to address that by having the boys begin to be the ones who rotate.  I think after three years of separation they're prepared.  The apartment, however, is a one-bedroom, and is too small for them to spend a week at a time.  The rent has increased, and a two-bedroom within the building is out of reach for Gary.  It's too bad, since it's just down the street from Connor's high school.  That has worked well.

So Gary needs to find a place that's big enough for the three of them two weeks a month.  He's talking about looking in the area of Scott's school, since the light rail nearby would make it convenient to Connor's school as well.

Before he can find the place he has to have a dependable income.  And there's the rub.  For at least a year I have been paying the mortgage and household expenses on one place and the rent on the other.  He is self-employed and is getting his health insurance from my employment.  This hasn't left much discretionary income and I have grown weary of it.

So it's likely that this is another source of the stuck feeling.

Gradually this is putting the squeeze on me. The discomfort of doing nothing is becoming equal-or-greater to the discomfort of dealing with the legal minutiae of divorce.  It took so much effort just to do the separation that I've basically been resting these past 3 years, and gathering for the next step.

Two of my friends have passed me by in gathering their resolve, getting their legal ducks and docs in a row, and finalizing their divorces.  They've been kind enough to share the benefit of their experiences so I'm not totally reinventing the wheel.

It's painful how long it took for me to go online and find the website to download the appropriate papers (Filing For Dissolution (Divorce), Co-Petitioners, Cases With Children--form 9A) Eventually I got them printed and slowly I've been filling them out.  I'm allergic to legalese and the tedium of wading through. Currently I'm hung up on the child support worksheets.  I realize it'll probably be me that pays support since I have the greater income.  But how do we calculate his when it's so capricious?

This is why it's taking me years.

And maybe it's what's sucking the life out of me, so that while I long to write, I can't.  I feel like someone at a party who opens her mouth, pauses, then closes it again.  I have the desire to say something, only to find a vacancy.  My private writings, my diaries, bear witness.


Monday, September 2, 2013


1.  A belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans;  noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days of weeks

2.  A state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art

3.  A dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits

All in a hot and copper sky,The bloody Sun, at noon,Right up above the mast did stand,No bigger than the Moon.Day after day, day after day,We stuck, no breath no motion;As idle as a painted shipUpon a painted ocean.
          Samuel Taylor Coleridge:  Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

After setting that down yesterday I found myself in the same frustrating paralysis I find myself in today, and indeed have been for months.  The winds of inspiration aren't blowing and I put up my sail only to see it sag dispiritedly.

Dead in the water.

My writing has come to a standstill and I can barely muster the energy to read books or keep up with the news.  Facebook is the path of least resistance.

I remember reading somewhere that a key to ending writer's block is to describe the bricks of the cell one is imprisoned in.  Brick by brick.

The Truth shall set you free.

Maybe I can take that literally.

So maybe I can generate a little wind by Telling The Truth about what life is like in the Doldrums.  it's not an original thought.  My counselor Shannon suggested it.

The trouble is, this is where I usually fall silent.  So maybe this will be the first Truth of the Doldrums.  A great big Void.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Miss...

I so miss blogging, regularly.  I miss being able to count on days with blocks of time to fill with my writing and uninterrupted thinking.  

Even when I was an at-home mom and during the school year could count on, with some exceptions, 5 days a week of about 6 hours' alone time, that time seemed to slip through my fingers.  

Now, other than weekends, I have one day off every other week, as I work my .9 FTE schedule (72 hrs every two weeks, vs 80).  I left a job that had unhealthy dynamics for one with more professional boundaries, but in doing so had to increase hours to get the least costly health insurance option; also I had to let go of three day weekends since I came in to a large organization with no seniority and all the Mondays and Fridays off were taken.

Funny, the choices that so often mimic the alternatives of The Little Mermaid:  to be with the one she loved she had to adopt legs, which hurt her with every step.  When I'm a more enlightened person will choices be less fraught, less conflicted?

We're right at 3 years of our separation, my still-husband and I.  I've needed this long rest to gather for the next step, which is to finalize and legalize the dissolution of this marriage.  Hopefully it won't be too difficult, since Oregon is a no-fault state and I'm fine with a 50/50 split of our assets.  The holy grail is to be able to do this without lawyers, just the filing fee.  (But you've got to start looking at the forms you've downloaded, Debora!)

Our situation is financially complicated in that Gary does not have a regular benefitted job.  He's worked very hard since his layoff to generate a steady income, but has not yet found traction.  Thus he can't afford his own household and so I'm supporting two, and we're dipping into savings to stay afloat.  This isn't sustainable, and at some point I fear I'm going to have to withdraw my assistance.  It would be so much easier if he was already self-supporting.

I've learned a lot in these past 6 years as I approached the decision to separate from Gary.  Six years ago I would have thought I was going to still be together with him as a (unhappy) couple, trying to live with the misery and largely blaming myself.  I had been trained for such a life my entire childhood:  doing what it took to belong and blaming myself when I felt bad.

The trouble was, I could see the negative effects it was having on Connor and Scott, and it was breaking my heart.  They were beginning to behave like angry children, and I feared for their future.

What seems very interesting is that I’ve learned a lot from what I’ve been able to not-do, that is, when it’s come to my boys, I’ve been able to refrain from putting the obstacles in their path that would have forced them to adapt (except for the bad marriage obstacle.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t spare them that, and they’ve probably had to make adaptations that are not good for them.  I suppose one of my hopes of having separated from Gary so they can really see the components of what made our marriage bad, is that they can clearly see—what makes communication and relationships go bad…and that it’s not them.  It’s continuously being up against someone who throws obstacles in front of being True, and who doesn’t take responsibility and instead blames).  It’s interesting I could do for my boys what I couldn’t do for me; although in doing it for my boys I was instructed in how to do it for me.  That’s true.  At every step that I was pressurred to teach my boys to turn on themselves and shut themselves down in the same way I’d been taught to turn on myself and shut myself down, I couldn’t do it.  Or if I gave way to the pressure it felt so bad that I had to back away from it and tell them I was sorry, because I was.  It was Wrong.

I miss following blogs.  I miss my cousins', my friends from far away, the friends I've never met.  I miss the thrill of recognition of  kindred souls, who have allowed their minds to run free.