Friday, October 26, 2018


Recently I saw a meme on Facebook which purported to answer the question:  "Why bother with creative writing?"  "Because right now there is someone out there with a wound in the exact shape of your words" (Shaun Thomas Dougherty from The Second O of Sorrow.)

I realize that there have been many times I've read words like that, words that kind of filled and assuaged a certain shape of inner...pain.  Furthermore, I've had the experience of responding to someone's suffering by sensing a complementary shape inside of me.  And when I offer that shape, it seems healing to the other person, and it seems to be a two-way healing.  It heals me in some way too.  There is a light that connects me to the other person, and then penetrates backward into me, and into my past, with healing light.

How interesting.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Glimpse Into a Marriage

Tonight Gary came by as Scott and I were getting ready to eat, and I hope I was able to be an example for Scott of behavior I’d like to see in him:  calmness, calmly stating boundaries, stating them again (calmly) as many times as necessary.  It actually did seem to be more effective tonight, and hopefully Scott got an idea that it’s possible.  He doesn’t have to be triggered into going out of control with his words or his voice—there are alternatives that are better.  His father grew up in such a way that feeling out of control feels normal, and he cannot help but create drama.  That feels like home to him.  It can be hard on people around him, especially his family.

Gary doesn’t know that it’s possible to be aware of his own feelings, even unpleasant ones.  Thus he reacts blindly to them; he does not possess insight into them.  He doesn’t realize that being aware of being aware of those unpleasant feelings takes them into the realm of choice rather than reflex.  He doesn’t know that this can help him feel better inside and keep him from behaving counter-productively.  And the reason he doesn't know this is because the agitated way he’s feeling inside that often makes it so difficult to be around him—feels normal to him.  When he’s acting from that version of normal, he is driving people around him nuts, and he thinks there’s something wrong with them because they’re so on-edge around him.  He becomes the victim.  This is what my parents do…this is what authoritarians do—they claim they are the ones who are victimized!  And, I kind of think they actually believe it.  That they are the victims.

He feels himself in this place over and over, mainly with his sons and me because most friends are too polite to call him on this stuff, and so the situation is contained.  However, they don’t pay as high a price for containment as I would—in terms of absorbing his contempt and pretending to agree that I deserve it--because that’s the only thing that makes him feel right inside.  In order for him to feel right inside I needed to have never challenged him, or questioned his actions, even if they were directed in a negative way at me.  For a while I guess we were both at that futile game of the-definition-of-insanity-is-doing-the-same-thing-and-expecting-a-different-result; me hoping that if I worked hard enough I could find the right words that would penetrate the shell of hurts that denied him access to his heart and spurred him to act in ways that were so detrimental to our marriage.  His version of the-definition-of-insanity game was to keep up a cycle of say-or-do-something-hurtful-then-refuse-to-acknowledge-doing-something-hurtful-and-then-be-angry-when-someone-names-the-thing-that-he-just-did.  That old game.  I'd hoped that his love for me would maybe spur him to realize what he was doing and what his behavior was demanding and allow him to have a moment where he was free to wonder if his behavior and expectations were reasonable.

Eventually I was forced to give up that hope, and that game.  I gave it a good chance, though.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Excavation and Exorcism

I woke up to a concept in my brain.  I got it how it’s really true that my choices were to do whatever it took to placate and get along with people because the conditions of my being with them was that I absorb without complaint whatever they gave me.  

It is true that for my parents to have been the parents I needed, that is, people who could really see me and listen to me, and listen to my deeper intent, they would have had to have parents who were able to do that for them.

What was clear with Gary was that I had to absorb anything he threw at me if I was going to be with him.  There was no negotiation, not because he was particularly intentional about that, but because he was unable to be flexible of mind for long enough to see that what he was asking for was not really reasonable to ask:  that I absorb whatever he said or did, no matter how unjust.  And that I absorb it without saying anything about it.  I think it was the same dynamic, from my childhood to my friendships, relationships, and marriage.  It was clear I could not be with people unless I absorbed without complaint what they did or said.  How I react inside to what they say or do is my problem to deal with.  There were very strong feelings inside in response to the original situations.  There was not help offered to help me deal with them.  And I suppose what made it bearable was to second-guess the feelings I was having, to doubt myself.  If it was possible the whole thing was my fault, then I could stay with them.  And, it hurt a lot to believe that I was inherently at fault, and it weighed me down with great sorrow and shame.  But it kept me in relationship.

I couldn’t reconcile—I needed them, at least my parents; that was a given.  So when they started doing things, because of the misguided common wisdom on how to raise good kids (‘show ‘em who’s boss and make them suffer if they don’t comply—and believe/rationalize that you’re doing it for their own good—and don’t look at how your behavior affects them, because their preferences are outranked by adults.) I had no idea things should be different.  Telling an adult that what they were doing was causing you pain only caused you more pain because it would offend them and they would think you were being insubordinate in telling them.  So they did things that caused me pain and caused me more pain when I told them that what they were doing to me caused me pain.  So there is no other choice but to conclude that there is something wrong with my inability to not be deeply offended when they would behave a certain way toward me.  So I came to believe that I am flawed; what they are saying or doing is offensive to me because I am too sensitive, or I missed something, or that I have such a mean spirit that I don’t just put it away from me and not allow myself to feel offended.  And I would keep piling on reasons why I was at fault:  I was thinking about it too much, I was ‘endlessly analyzing’, I was “attached”, I was “too sensitive”.  Basically I was wrong for experiencing their behavior toward me as noxious in the first place.  The early relationships were crucial, and did set the pattern for others:  their expressions of love for me could turn off very suddenly if they were unhappy with something I’d done.  If I wasn’t returned to equilibrium fast enough to not inconvenience them (and I might add, without soft, intimate assistance to return to equilibrium)(which meant I never learned how to bring myself back to equilibrium, beyond attempting to swallow my disequilibrium and through force of “positive thinking” neutralize it out of existence.) there was punishment.  I never could, and then I believed there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t neutralize my disequilibrium out of existence.  And then I was very sad.  And then any expression of love or a hint of closeness with one of these people would feel to me like a lifeline to my own worth.

I am worth having my own feelings.  

I do hope that I don’t turn into a person who demands of others that they blur our boundaries and permit themselves to be my Object.  I believe it would be wrong for me to demand it.  I believe it was demanded of me.  I believe I had parents who confused satisfying their own egos with raising good kids.  I believe my parents believed that if their children did something that threatened their internal sense of standing with their friends, that this meant their children had been wicked, and this had to be punished out of them.  A kind of mild demon exorcism, but cruel from the point of view of the child.  I think in the medieval exorcisms of old, the belief that they were engaging with something evil allowed them to loose their own demons, only they deceived themselves into thinking that they were serving good.  But they were serving their own sadistic impulses.

Not that my parents were at all sadistic.  They just truly believed that in order to raise good people you had to make children suffer when they did something wrong.  The rub comes from defining what "wrong behavior" is.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Going back in time

I listened to an interview the other night that Terry Gross did with Sherman Alexie.  He was talking about his love for his children and how devoted he is to them, to demonstrating his love for them:

GROSS: Do you hug your kids a lot?
ALEXIE: I am overtly huggy with my kids.
GROSS: (Laughter) OK.
ALEXIE: I kiss them a lot. I tell them I love them. I'm on the road, so I'm texting them constantly. I'm going to start crying again but, you know, I, you know, we like to think that as parents our love for our children is our love for our children as it is. But in being affectionate with my children, of making them aware of how much I love them is also me attempting to fill the absence from my own childhood.
In fact, as I write in the book a poem, you know, I wish in the poem that I could defy physics, defy time and go back in time and be my mother's parent and adore her as a parent in the way I doubt she was ever adored. So I adore my children, as you should. (italics mine)
Such a beautiful thought.  For of course, for his mother to have loved him sufficiently, she too would have needed to be adored, as a baby, as a child.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

I've been wanting to blog again.  I'm missing that form of communication, even as I've kept up my steady private reflection, in my diaries.

I'd forgotten, until I reviewed the last entry, made over a year ago, that I'd already announced that the original purpose of this blog had come to fruition:  I'd come to decide that while I admire the sentiments of people who proudly say, "Divorce isn't in our vocabulary", it needed to be in ours.  It needed to have been in it much earlier.  This blog was meant to help me come to a decision about whether what was wrong in our marriage was my fault, and if I could correct it if it was.  It saw me through making that decision, and then implementing it.  It saw me through physically separating, and then finally complete the legal process not quite 2 years ago--basically it was a 7-or-so year process if the time it took to come to a decision is factored in.  We were living separately for 5 years before finalizing.

The blog had other functions and gifts, besides processing my divorce and the decision leading to it.  Blogging about the divorce helped me to consider the dynamics of the personalities involved, and to realize that there did seem to be a repeating pattern, as if there were a basic template, which influences the shapes of the overlays of experience and people that manifest, mandala-like.

I've described my understandings of these in my personal writings.  But I'm out of practice in blogging, and find myself a little "tongue"-tied.  My solution will be to publish some excerpted material in my journals, which touch on some of those understandings I've gained, but haven't quite integrated:

Got a message from Gary today saying he was bringing the dog back too.  Something about needing a “break” from animals, children, ‘my mom’.  A couple of responses inside to that.  Gratitude that I am free from anything having to do with these years in Gary’s mother’s life, where she appears to be hardening into the hints she gave before of her character—which felt toxic to me then and time has shown to be just that.  By the fruits you shall know them.  I recognized the fruits long ago that were in a more latent phase (plausibly deniable), but have developed the way they appeared to be going to me all those years ago.  Gary refused to see it then and only blamed me as being ‘mean’ to his mother, even if at other times, such as after having her over for dinner or something, he’d comment on how ‘gracious’ I’d been to her.  But his internal narrative reads, despite the evidence to the contrary, that I was the aggressor in that I saw her as what she was, and it ran counter to her own narrative.  She never forgave me for that, and continues to demonstrate that by badmouthing me in front of my sons.  (which also demonstrates a total lack of regard for the feelings of her own grandsons, who apparently she doesn’t recognize as hers…she sees them only as ‘mine’, both of which objectify them and therefore she does not truly love them—for what is love but a taking someone for who they are, as opposed to only accepting them if they do pleasing/appeasing things for those who are supposed to love them unconditionally?  She reveals herself now more obviously—before it seemed only I could see it...

And without my presence there is no way that can be impugned to somehow me ‘making’ her act that way—it is clear that she is only who she is.  Sam and my sons can see her for herself.  Just like Trump’s own behavior speaks for itself. (It can’t be blamed on a liberal media:  He does things that break the norms of what has been considered to be honorable behavior.  The media reports it.)  If the truth is not flattering to the Trump administration, then it is branded as liberal fake news by Trump and supporters.  At this last portion of her life, Gary's mother’s behaves blatantly in the ways I foresaw she would.  She’s a small woman.

And, it is a relief, to not have to be dealing with her in the face of Gary’s inability to set boundaries with her and attempts to appease her.  That would be torture to be living through without Gary’s support.  I don’t believe he would have given it to me, though sometimes he kind of leans on me for support in the face of her behavior and nastiness.  He cannot deny that she is very difficult and demanding.  Had he and I truly been able to be allies in that, I could have been a meaningful help and comfort to him as he deals with the unpleasant parts of her aging (which to me seems like only an intensification of parts of her that were unpleasant in younger years too).  This of course would have required that he have the freedom to see his mother’s behavior objectively and concur with the reality that it wasn’t really normal behavior.  He seemed unable to see it for what it was, or to sustain seeing-it-for-what-it-was.  Instead, he saw me, and my seeing-it-for-what-it-was as evidence of deep wrongdoing in me.

Fun and Games—reggae

Great music playing.

I’ve just started to feel kind of rested, having a week away from the responsibilities of parenting—like the juggling of schedules with tennis, the deadline to get him to school in the morning and having to calculate it against prevailing conditions (heavy traffic on Barkerstown Rd and no Hillberry Rd alternative)—it’s a bit of a tax on my energy to have those details to contend with daily in addition to the effort to get him up and have him behave properly when he’s tired and irritable.  Then the whole homework and grade-monitoring responsibility.  Scott, I love you and giving you what you need is worth the extra effort it may cost me.  Forgive my need to be honest with myself and acknowledge that it does cost me something, and know that I am grateful to have you to make this effort on behalf of.  In other words I’d so much rather have you than to not-have the love-obligation to do right by you, even if it means I may stretch my comfort zone.  I’m grateful for you. 

Good music.

Sunday 1327

Scott will be coming home soon so I think I’ll use the remaining time to relax a bit…maybe reserve the vacuuming until later.

I need to write the Colorado family to let them know I will be there, most likely with Scott, and will there be a place to stay and would they like to come to the performance?

Inge came over for breakfast and left at straight-up noon.  I called my parents then, but they were just beginning to eat.  So they called back at about 1225 or so; I called them back around 1230 and then we were on the phone maybe 40 minutes.  So I am taking a break, before Scott comes home.

It’s always such an interesting visit with Inge; she really calls to my inner intellect, and I find myself making connections and associations I may not have otherwise. 

I made a parallel, that is...

Oh, man, this is the funniest bluegrass song.  I’ve got to get the name of it, and the crew that sings it.  Chris Jones and the Nightdrivers –Wolfcreek Pass

The parallel I made I attribute to my cousin Lavender Luz .  She has made Open Adoption her life's work and has published some very powerful posts about adoption from the point of view of the adoptee. An important concept she explains so well is the unique complication for the adoptee of having a "split between their biography and their biology."
I realized there was a similarity between the adopted child having a split between biology and biography with the person who is gay or transgender.  They each have a burden that is intensified by virtue of being who they are.  By virtue of being adopted, an adoptee has been shaped by other factors and demands that a person who was not adopted doesn’t have, and doesn’t have to even have as a consideration.  I was working a bit my theory that the plight of the adoptee is similar to the rest of humanity (which must ask itself a question about its own belonging) with an important exception: a history where for whatever reason a person cannot live with his/her own biological parents.  Understanding the effects that fact would have on an organism sheds a greater understanding on what all humans need.  Knowing the experience that must be created for these children in order to shield them from the effects of having been abandoned (from their perspective) by their parents, one learns that the need isn’t peculiar to adoptees—we all need it; but their particular biological/biographical split highlights that need.  It highlights what must be supplied, and it hints that even people who don’t have that split may experience other events that mimic, in a lesser way, the experience of having been not wanted.  Actions have consequences and effects.  An adoptee who was lucky enough to have a family that gave him/her the experience of being deeply loved and connected-with can basically heal that split so fully that it’s as if the split had never happened.  A family, or its circumstances, can have experiences that leave their biological child feeling abandoned—that is, having abandonment at the core of being.

Allison Krause Whiskey Lullaby

There’s the experience.  And of course, there is the organism itself—how he/she interacts with the experience.  I suppose my charged issue is about perfection; that I took to heart the overt and covert demands of my culture and parents, for perfection.  And I realized I could not do it.  The next logical step was a demand to pretend that I could, and a belief comes from that that there is something unacceptable which must be erased—my deep sense of failure came from my failure to erase the unacceptable.  Feeling critical of my parents was one of those unacceptables.  Failing to please them was the first of the unacceptables.  Feeling angry with them when I failed to please them and they were angry with me was another of the unacceptables.  Being unable to change the feelings inside that caused me to do things that displeased them was unacceptable and I felt very trapped.

I think that's it for today.