OT, kind of: Thinking about Erebor, part 2

[Pressing onward before I lose my courage. Thanks for all of the comments on the last piece.]

There was the story, which seemed like a parable, and the actor, who had made the woman feel alive again, although it was impossible to explain at the beginning. Later, the woman realized that he proved to her that all the pieces of who she had been were still there. She still had it! She still had the feelings, she still had the connection to G-d, she still had the analytical gaze, she still had the words, and most of all, he reminded her, she still needed to speak.

Thinking about him, watching him, writing about him, as the words poured and poured and poured, made her feel flow.

So after Richard Armitage came blogging Richard Armitage, which saved her. The being able to write. The people she met who came along. The people who wrote comments who told her she wasn’t alone, that they had experienced, were experiencing, similar things. The things she read that inspired her and also made her feel less alone. The evidence that even silent people were reading. Even the troubles she experienced as a blogger. Because she succeeded, with the help of her readers and her friends, in standing up for herself. In the end, as a blogger, she did not crumble in the way she had as an academic writer.

Because at times, when blogging about Richard Armitage, she finally could figure out how to put desire and reason, the visceral love and the clear-eyed gaze, together.

Because it seemed like writing the blog could make her whole.

And she knew this was the only way she ever wanted to write ever anymore. Even if she couldn’t see exactly how that would work itself out in practice.

No more instrumentalization, no more compulsion. No more fear. Only flow.

The woman left her job. With difficulty. She stored her books. She cut her hair. She applied for a few jobs, to keep up appearances, but she didn’t take the applications seriously. She made herself stop. She drove home.

She had been home for five days, when one of the jobs called back. Two days to decide. She dithered. An Armitage friend whom she’d never spoken to before reassured her. She took it.

It seemed like it could be Erikson’s moratorium, the stage that one enters to pause, when one “half-realizes that [s]he is fatally over-committed to what he is not.” And as so often after 2005, she didn’t know what to do, anyway. When the gentle man went away, when her performance evaluations tanked, when the situation at work started to affect not just her but her friends, when she was sexually harassed by her fellowship sponsor and could not make him stop, when she started to doubt her ideas, when her own failure was imminent, when her mother got sick. She just didn’t know what to do and in the end she felt like she had to accept that, even if it meant screaming that she didn’t know what she would do and for heaven’s sake just stop insisting that there was some solution.

***

I’m sick of writing this like a fairy tale. This blog is my story and I fucking claim it. Angry statement and guilty confession, zugleich.

I mean: I didn’t know what to do. After 2005.

I did try to get away from that job. I did try. Eventually the only way to get away was to fail. When they decided I had failed, I didn’t even question their judgments about me. I didn’t even try again.

I know why I couldn’t defend myself as a child. A child shouldn’t have to defend her own developing personality. But my parents were raised in a world without such flexibility; their pedagogical designs drew from what they thought we needed to be adults, they hurt us first so that we wouldn’t be humiliated by the world, or so they thought. My father had his alcoholism. The church was the Only True Church. There were no questions about any of this. It was all too big, much too big, at any rate bigger than I was at the time, and I do not judge myself for running away from there. The therapist said, “You were very angry from a very young age, and the little girl is still angry.”

What I don’t get is why the little girl’s anger is so destructive. I thought I was choosing the rest of my life for myself. I thought I was deciding. I thought I was finding something that fit.

But if that was true: Why couldn’t I stand and fight for myself in Erebor? Why was I so weak? Why did I run away?

Where were you then, angry little girl?

[That is a home question — and I have to have it answered, soon. Or some kind of answer.]

~ by Servetus on February 17, 2013.

33 Responses to “OT, kind of: Thinking about Erebor, part 2”

  1. You were not weak. To quote Goethe, “To endure is to conquer.” You have endured what no child and no person should have to endure. Yes, you ran, but even angry, sane people (and kingly dwarfs) run. You can stand and fight now, now that you know there is something worth having, worth defending. All those years of parents and colleagues telling you in so many words that you weren’t worth anything, let alone anything of value worth defending — that is hellishly hard to come back from, why you know what is happening inside Thorin. Courage, and let your anger be informed with the strength of self-knowledge, with the competence and self-worth. You can now wield Orcrist . The power in you, child and woman, frightened your enemies so that they stooped to ambush and cruelty. You now have the power, like Orcrist glowing blue in their presence, to fight them and take back your true homeland. Know that we are with you in spirit.

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    • So shouldn’t I run further, if it’s sane?

      sigh … ok, I need to write the next piece of this …

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      • Yes, you can run farther, especially if it’s the sane choice. Yet at some point, preferably of your choosing, you need to confront the dragon. You seem to be doing this through your writing, a good thing.

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  2. I very much like Leigh’s comment!
    The wounds you get as a child, don’t completely heal and hit you at a time when you might not expect them to turn up. That is why they still have such importance for you now. When you should chose your wanted outcome freely, you react in ways you learned during childhood or in prevention of the earlier experienced outcome.
    That is a question which I turn around over and over in my head, as I try to see mechanisms in my actions and reactions and how I can find new and better ways. It is not easy to get through the burden of experience and perceived inevitable consequences.
    I have no solution here, as I am a pupil in the first class in that regard.
    But I sometimes see the benefit in quitting and counting one’s losses instead of continuing and fighting against someone who does not even share the sensitivity for the misdeed. It is not worth fighting then, as it would only destroy you and not gain anything positive. A futile fight is not worth it for you, as it would only give credit to someone who does not deserve the attention, who does not even deserve one minute of your thoughts. But a new beginning is a new chance and a new start, which is entirely yours.

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    • That’s what I am wondering — sunk cost fallacy — is it time to get myself out of this particular situation if I will never win, given the coping mechanisms I have?

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  3. Hmmm. I sense a lack of clarity here in your statement of the question

    Why do you think the little girl is angry? Any guesses towards whom her anger is directed?

    I’ll admit, I’ve been waiting awhile for you to acknowledge her presence publicly – even as I’ve seen you honor her voice in every Thorin Lego post you’ve put up recently.

    She does like to play – as all little girls do. 🙂

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    • I agree about the unclarity of the question. It points out to me that I don’t really care for the little girl / inner child metaphor; it sits uneasily with me. I have no idea, really, who that person is. I don’t think she’s the same person who’s playing with the Thorin lego, either. That’s clearly me. One of my RL friends said to me, it’s interesting how big the obstacles are that you place Lego Mini-Thorin in front of. He has a monumental struggle.

      I know what I was angry about as a child. Although I would not have thought that I was *as* angry about them as my therapist thought: my father’s alcoholism, the situation at school, not getting to do what I wanted. I think that the therapist was implying I had some anger about religion, but I am not exactly sure what that would have been. It reads here a whole lot more like a feminist story than it feels to me.

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      • As one who had ample cause for anger as a child, I don’t consider my story feminist, although it could be construed that way. It is much more a story of an individual going uphill against being ignored, dismissed, abused, and denigrated, mostly by those who had no notion that what they were doing was wrong. Like Thorin, we face huge obstacles, a known horror, and a quest that we must not abandon.

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  4. The quest is always to find ourselves despite the noise around us, isn’t it? I only know you as far as this blog, but it seems to me you have lately made great strides in finding a voice, a passion/purpose that helps define you. At the very least, you’ve been expressing yourself and connecting with others in a way that is mutually beneficial.
    Have I said all this before? Regardless, I salute your courage, honesty, and endurance to find what’s right for you.

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    • I appreciate that you keep reassuring me that I’m not crazy. It means a lot, finding a voice, or the voice I thought I was supposed to have.

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      • Servetus: Not sure if you ever saw the below Nike Ad (it hung on my wall in college) – but your comment makes me think you might appreciate it (even aside from its sports marketing message).

        I’ll have to re-type it here as I couldn’t find an easy link.

        Mother and father told you repeatedly.
        Crazy people talk to themselves.
        Still you heard the voice.
        Loud and clear.
        JUST DO IT.
        Learn how to hit a fastball.
        Work on your left hand shot.
        Study harder. Study longer.
        Get a raise.
        Crazy people talk to themselves.
        And still you heard the voice.
        JUST DO IT.
        Lose the gut. Master a third language.
        Swim across the lake. Climb the Tetons.
        Go to the library and learn how electricity works.
        Crazy people talk to themselves.
        And still you heard the voice.
        JUST DO IT.
        Bench press your weight.
        Finish a marathon.
        Develop a backhand.
        Switch careers.
        Crazy people talk to themselves.
        And finally, you realize, only a madman doesn’t listen.
        JUST DO IT.

        “And finally, you realize, only a madman doesn’t listen”
        This pretty much sums up my philosophy in a nutshell. 😉

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        • I didn’t know this but I do love it. Even though the message is not entirely clear … 🙂

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          • Well. Here it’s mostly a bump & set space for the Nike Slogan SPIKE down – *ahem* but I took this message in college to say –
            “If you find that internal voice that guides you. That motivates you. That whispers the promise of life as an adventure to look forward to. DO NOT ASK for permission to follow it!!! JUST DO IT. Listen to that voice!!”

            I also like how it starts with the “Mother & Father” authority intro – kinda like saying – they meant well, but how can you not listen?? How can you not go mad if you don’t listen???

            Like I said – this hung on my wall in college, and something you said in that last comment reminded me of it – particularly that last line. 😉

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            • There was an interesting note in the commentary to the Haftarah today, to the effect that living in purity means acting according to free will but not in enslavement to human impulses. In essence, then, one’s being pure when one’s acting according to one’s own intention but not under the influence of things that come from the body, such as fear. That, I think is the rule for differentiating between the voices (knowing to whom to listen) — am I listening in purity or in enslavement?

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              • Hmm. To clarify a statement you’ve made above, I might postulate that ‘fear’ is more a product of the mind than the body, although the body would certainly respond to the mind’s alert as in ‘fight or flight’ responses. Ironically, it is often the body that is enslaved to the mind’s unconscious or fearful decisions.

                I gotta say (at the risk of over-simplification) one of the strengths of that Nike slogan is the subtle point it makes to stop over-thinking, stop over-analyzing, and to decide to JUST DO IT.

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                • In Kabbalistic philosophy, fear would definitely come from the body, as a human, but not a divine impulse. It’s not so much the physical location in the body that is important to me (although that is absolutely how I experience fear — I can be saying to myself perfectly rationally, there is no reason to experience fear here, and be deadly afraid) so much as that it’s a human impulse to which I am enslaved.

                  JUST DO IT is not really great advice for an academic career, I fear. And JUST DOING IT now is something that I need to be very careful of. I can’t “just do this,” because another problem of the kind I was unable to foresee last time will destroy me.

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                  • Ahhh, okay. So “body” here is divine vs. non-divine.

                    I wouldn’t say the slogan is meant as literal career advice from the folks at Nike. 😉

                    Rather, more a reminder to acknowledge these divine voices, even if you are the only one in your neighborhood who seems to hear them, and especially if they continue to speak to you.

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  5. Like

  6. ‘The past is another country,they do things differently there’.

    Just take a deep breath and let the past go, Servetus, it’s messing up your present and your future. Stop over-analysing and over-thinking it, be brave and move on. The future is yours.

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    • Yes, but it’s hard to know which past or which piece of it to let go of. As Einstein (I think) said, doing the same thing over and over again in the same circumstances is the definition of insanity.

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  7. What has happen in childhood does stay with us in adulthood. Adults can hurt a child and they live with it for the rest of there lives. I try to remember this with my own boys so I don’t go down that path again. My shyness comes out of the fact that I was told to shut up as a child by my dad. He was raised that children where meant to be seen and not heard. I was the same for me around him. I had speech problems as a child and will run into some now that mostly only I can hear. I was a happy child smiling and laughing until I was caught laughing and smiling at something that an eight year old would find funny. I was told to stop by a friend of my parents, after that I guarded what I found to be funny. I also think that we bury things deep down and hope we never have to see them again. Servetus you have made me think again about the cause of what I don’t like about myself. I am o.k. about that. It really is amazing when you feel as if the whole world don’t understand someone does.

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    • Nice point about hoping we never have to see certain things again. I’m frequently tortured by unpleasant memories and wish I could bury them further …

      I’m always struggling between the need not to be a victim but having these feelings about things that happened in the past. I don’t know how we resolve the conflict.

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      • I don’t know how to resolve the conflict either, but I did face those who hurt me, at least in dreams and therapy sessions. I told them that they had no more power over me, that what they had done was done, over, and finished. The damage was done, but I would not allow them to do more. I am very glad that I am not any one of them, that I did not pass along their cruelty to others.

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      • I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Jack Nicholson’s character Melvin Udall in As Good as It Gets: “Some people have great stories, pretty stories that take place with friends with noodle salad and good times — just not anybody in this car.”
        People do unspeakably horrible things to children with the full knowledge of what they do and then there are parents/adults/etc who damage children unintentionally – like my parents. My father was an alcoholic and my mother was neurotic to say the least. Neither one of them ever told me they loved me, but I knew they did despite the total dysfunction of our family. I also know they tried to the best of their ability to provide a good life for me and my brothers. There were good times mixed in with the bad and fortunately I choose not to remember most of the bad stuff. I know I have a lot of issues caused by my raising but — like you — I try to sort things out and improve so that I don’t cause irreparable damage to my own children. I have no idea what happened in your life, but I just want to hug that angry little girl and tell her it’ll be ok. Too bad life’s not more like a TV sitcom where all life’s troubles get resolved in 30 minutes.

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        • I don’t remember getting hugs as a child or being told I was loved, I don’t know if they knew how to. I don’t even remember my parents telling each other that they loved each other. I remember the fights. I feel that my boys need hugs till they say no and need to know that they are loved and that there parents love each other. Not that life is perfect, far from it. Thank You Sloan, hugs back.

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          • We never got hugs either. I make a point to tell my children I love them and give them plenty of hugs. Just the other day I heard someone say they nuzzle their children every chance they get. So I’ve been doing a lot of that too. Hears to lots more hugging and nuzzling.

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          • I wonder why that is. I didn’t have a “huggy” childhood either. I attributed that to having parents of northern European descent.

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      • This song is all over the news right now. I’d never heard of it until a few minutes ago, but very appropriate for this topic, Kelly Clarkson’s Because of You: http://youtu.be/Ra-Om7UMSJc

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  8. […] The therapist would have said, “You were very, angry from a young age and that little girl is … […]

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