Oh, fuck you

Your Type Four EnneaThoughtsm for April 23rd

A major feature of your personality is the tendency to long for a rescuer who will understand you and take away your loneliness. Watch for this in yourself today. (Personality Types, 153)

 

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Dr. GoodLove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Process Whereby Emotions are Passed on or Displaced from One Person to Another

So, this happened.  I was struggling, trying to understand the feelings of fear that had been generated by my projections upon her.  She asked me to try to get grounded, centered.  When I stilled myself, and quieted a bit, I could feel her. I was thinking about something else, then felt this undeniable pressure, heat, not painful heat but cool and hot at the same time, a pure stream of mentholated energy coming in from the left side and wrapping around me, penetrating my chest, as real as the clothes on my back, as real as her sitting across from me.  Pressure, color, warmth, tangible substance, surrounding and filling my core, and I could feel the fire in me rise up to meet it. 

I am a scientist by training.  I believe in evidence, quantification, experience; concrete concepts yielding repeatable results.  I grudgingly allow for the world beyond those things because my experiences, unquantifiable and outside the reach of proof, have illuminated that world.  But I still look with a narrowed gaze at the phenomena of the heart, of the soul; always ready to question, to doubt.  It almost offends me, the presence of that world, because I am always challenged by it, dared by it to engage and embrace it.  And I resist, because what kind of scientist would I be if I didn’t?

But, all that said, I will sign my name to this: that feeling was real, it came to me unbidden, made its way in before I knew it was coming, and it grew.  And I could touch it with my own heart.  And I knew it came from her. Not because she is the magical therapy fairy, but because she is a human being who can gather and project her energy, and whether she was doing it intentionally at that moment or not (and I won’t presume, but I’d place a bet), it was her.  

(Inner Scientist: that’s probably just a useful delusion, but hey, it’s been a rough year, we’ll let her have it.)  

(Just occurred to me that it’s entirely possible that the Inner Scientist is actually the Inner Fear Person with a diploma.  But god, don’t tell her that, it’d kill her.)

I am not in love with my therapist, nor obsessed with her, or overly dependent, or infatuated, or distracted by her.  I do not wish to be her lover, her friend, or her family (I’m occasionally her child, but most of the time that’s on purpose.)  But in this moment in my life I love her as deeply as I have ever loved anyone, albeit in a very specific way.  I adore her.  I think she’s beautiful.  When she enters a room I get a ridiculous case of the puppy wag. I think she hung the fucking moon.  And it doesn’t embarrass me to admit it, because I know its genesis, and am conscious in its creation.

I am in the midst of transference: sweet, terrifying, fascinating, painful, and miraculously healing.  I have entered, knowingly and willingly, into a relationship of absolute trust with another human being.  And by absolute trust, I don’t mean that I always interact with her in a trusting way (kinda one of the reasons I’m there), but that she has established, through her behavior, words, and most importantly her energetic and emotional attunement (oh yeah, get on board, we’re going full lingo on this one), that she can be trusted. Not perfect–just completely worthy of trust.  And the times that I have opened myself to her, she has met me with integrity and kindness, and, yes, love.  And those times have been among the most transformative of my life.  There are several moments of deep healing in our time together that I will never forget, moments which left me profoundly relaxed and securely rooted, with a soaring heart.  Moments which had minimal active cognitive content, other than being able to process the event and understand its place in my healing.  Moments which have done more to change my perspective than years of talking, thinking, struggling.  

I have been changed, I have seen and felt new ways of being, I’ve glimpsed a new land. It’s not mine yet, I know nothing of its geography, but I know it exists. I will let it sit, and see what happens six months from now, see if I can find a way to keep it, to continue to engage with it outside.  If I keep it active in my heart, I may be able to look back and confirm that it was real, so the scientist in me might be satisfied, too.

And again, the flush of fear, knowing that there is no way for this all to resolve and internalize before our time is finished.  I’m scared, not just by the impending pain, but by the possibility that, if we don’t manage it properly, I might be damaged by cutting things off in the middle of this transference, before its resolved, before I have taken ownership of my feelings.  I have a creeping sense of danger that I don’t want to ignore.  As much as I want to pretend it’s not happening, I can’t; it’s time for us to start negotiating the end.

Word of the Day

Sehnsucht

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Sehnsucht (disambiguation).

Sehnsucht (German pronunciation: [ˈzeːnzʊxt]) is a German noun translated as “longing”, “yearning”, or “craving”,[1] or in a wider sense a type of “intensely missing”. However, Sehnsucht is difficult to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. Its meaning is somewhat similar to the Portuguese word, saudade, or the Romanian word dor. Sehnsucht is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and addiction (die Sucht). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.[2]

Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes.[3] Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence.

Notes on a Goat

I read an interesting post the other day, by a therapist named Martha Crawford. (What A Shrink Thinks, Read more of this post)

The post was about the scapegoat and his role in the family, community, and workplace.  She wrote in part about her experience with a co-worker, whom she called The Angriest Social Worker in the World. This woman was the conduit for all the frustration, anger, judgement and pain generated by the bureaucratic inhumanity of the institution; she would vent and complain and vibrate with barely repressed hostility through their meetings, while the rest of the group maintained relative equanimity and reasonable expectations.  

Eventually the woman burned out and was gone.  It was assumed that peace would reign with her departure.  But instead, a general dissatisfaction and “crankiness” arose among all the remaining clinicians, especially within the author, until she and two of her colleagues evolved into The Three Angriest Social Workers in the World.  

Her point was that every system needs a goat (or goats?): families, workplaces, communities.  Where none exists, or when one departs, some member of the group will be “chosen” as the next vessel for the dysfunction of the collective.

I know I am the goat of my family, the black sheep, the one who carries the shame and guilt and provides the rock bottom against which the others measure themselves.  That is a role I assumed.  It’s not my only role, but it’s one that has followed me throughout my life. 

The post got me to thinking:  Where else have I replicated that family role?

After my parents’ divorce, absorbing all that rage and sadness, I undertook my first (but not last) turn as troublemaker in school, and became a fighter, protector, and bully.  More shame and guilt, some of which I still carry today. 

Continuing, at age 11-12, I “appointed” myself one of those whose job it was to absorb the horrors of the Holocaust, taken on as it caused me to attempt to make moral sense of the world. I thought I was exposed to it because I was meant to be one of those who carried the guilt for it (not even Catholic, how did I pick this shit up?) and that I had to learn about it because that was how it could be set to right.  I wanted to join the Israeli army and protect Jews everywhere.  I became more adept at guilt and shame, and was plagued for years by horrific nightmares until I was able to work it out and release some of that burden.

I was Brenda’s vessel for dysfunction; I believe my presence in part enabled her to interact in healthy and constructive way with her other students.  As time went on, and my usefulness waned, I became the rageful rebel, was cut off like the poisoned limb I was, and eventually disappeared.

In both of my “high-impact” jobs, I was the goat. System-appointed, and self-appointed.  In both, I started out as a nobody, under incompetent rule.  I overthrew the incompetent ruler with the assistance of a semi-powerful mentor/champion, who encouraged my battle to improve the workplace, but was ultimately too weak and/or self-preserving to support me, and abandoned me (dad). As the dysfunction of the workplace escalated and became toxic, I was the point-person for everyone’s venting: respected, a leader, trying to put things to right, but also an absorber and the voice of the disaffected, angry, suffering “family”. The peacemaker, the intermediary between the “kids” and the “parents”. 

As the dysfunction reached a peak, the necessary conversion happened: new rulers asserted the rules, and the family receded into a more passive, accepting, functional place, adapting to the new realities; I, on the other hand, had collected all of the pain and anger and allowed it to overtake me.  I couldn’t let go of what I still witnessed and couldn’t accept, I couldn’t participate in it.  I lost touch with my rational, self-protecting parts, and became this walking talking font of rage and judgement. Most everyone turned away from me.  I became the problem.  Seeing the portents of my demise, I was too consumed with the emotional burden of my role to do anything sensible to prevent it.  In fact, at that point it was probably desired.  I was eventually excised, and the system continued as before.

So how do I break that chain?  How do I stop absorbing, and how do I quiet my mind and heart enough to not rage against authority; to not speak the truth as I see it, unfiltered; to raise my own self-preservation and well-being above that of the system?  Why does it feel like my own survival depends on fixing the problems in the group, on resisting the ones in power who are responsible?

Hey! I MADE ART

The other day, I shared a with a friend a poem I had written, as part of my ongoing campaign to reveal myself.  She read it, and liked it.  But what really struck me, as she was staying the night, is that she spoke repeatedly about it, referred back to memorable bits several times, and spoke about how it resonated with her. She shared several interpretations of it, which would not necessarily be mine, but that didn’t bother me at all.  Because….

1) I created something, 2) I let it go, 3) I shared it with someone, 4) that someone consumed it, and 5) she saw herself in it, and made it hers.

Dude.

THAT’S ART.

When asked in therapy, I said that one of my goals is: at least once, I would like to create a piece of art, something that I felt good enough to share, that someone else would appreciate.  The key in that equation is the recipient sees herself in the work–that’s what turns it from homework to art, from self-expression to art.  The consumer is able to personalize it in some way.

I have no idea what the “official” definition of art is, but that’s mine.  And fuck me if I didn’t just do it!!  🙂

Love and Monsters

As I bore witness to Dax’s dying, I struggled to name the colors shared by my loss of him and the loss of Tamara.  Tried to weave a tapestry of them that would illuminate this journey, that would show me the larger landscape so that I might walk it more gracefully.  To this moment, I have not stepped with ease or skill through that land; I haven’t even found a path, road or trail through it.  Each step willing, in earnest, but blind. I have stumbled, cursed, fallen, refused to rise.  I have hoped for her to pull me to my feet and point the way, even to soothe my pain with a touch or word.  And, as always, she stands nearby, silent, waiting.  I must find my feet on my own, before she can join me.

I have dressed her in so many costumes, so many masks, in the last months, as I’ve watched her watching me.  She has assumed the shape of betrayers, liars, cold hearts.  I have named as delusion the love I hold for her, have crawled far enough away from it to believe it a useful construct and nothing more.  I have named as technique the love I felt from her, an honorable seduction meant to elicit trust, a spider’s web: useful in its specific strength, but easily swept away.  I have removed her humanity and replaced her with familiar ghosts, whose falseness and treachery I understand.  So many ugly possibilities have flung themselves at me through this time, and I have fought them all bravely, but to a standstill–there are too many of them, and one of me, and when they all look like her it confuses me.

And now I am sick at heart and without the steady compass of love that kept me calm and sure.  Even writing “love,” as something real and not imagined, is done through will and hope, but not conviction.  Fear and old wounds threaten to erase the good feeling we built over this short time.  It enrages me, to watch myself do with her what I have apparently done with so many others I love and need.  It’s not at all about loss; it’s about love. I don’t know how to love without turning my loved ones into frightening monsters. The awareness of it is the only saving grace I may claim, and that will only matter if I find a way out of it.

I have not reached a resolution, or peace.  I can say this: the strongest thread that binds these two losses is perhaps the most obvious, and the most challenging: inevitability.  Life pre-ordains death, this is a lesson we all learn early.  And she spoke words to me when this started, about love pre-ordaining loss, which rested in my mind but not my heart.  Now, at last, they rest in my heart as well.  And I accept this as a corollary: injustice, unfairness, premature endings, are inescapable and real–and each event is a simple fact of the larger whole.  Perhaps not as I want it, or not as it could or should be, but as intrinsic to the rest of the experience as anything else.  There is no loving T without losing her in this abrupt and confounding way; that is one of the plotlines for our story.  Finding growth and peace from it requires that truth as foundation.

This acceptance will not ease my pain, or guide me out, but it enables me to shoulder my grief, and trudge on. Now, I can write this on the portrait of my time with her, and know it to be true: with every first breath or opening of a heart, the sands begin to flow.