Sunday, July 22, 2018

Palate Cleanser

Last post was heavy meds. Clear the bitter with the good. Get the whole album.


I was listening to Dana Morningstar’s weekly livestream on YouTube about two weeks ago and someone in the comments section finally tagged the right name for my father’s relationship to me, to Maggie, to all of us in my family of origin: resentment. I’ve been trying for years to figure out what that slow simmer of love, confusion, and back handing that he would never acknowledge really was, and so far this is the best explanation.

Of course, if one is resentful, it isn’t just anger, it’s also entitlement, it’s self justification, it’s the slow burn from lying to yourself and everyone else, all of whom should have been clearly informed of the offenses so they could have made it right. But, in our house, nobody was ever wrong, everybody was very nice, and the offenses and assumed graces just kept piling up.

While looking for something else just now, I came across an old notebook where I had kept notes about repentance (my own). It seemed like I never could completely and finally get rid of “oughts” I had against so many “any.” [Mark 11:25 KJV “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”]. I was always having such trouble leaving the former things behind and pressing on to the new that I would constantly be circling back to forgiving everyone everything. It didn’t really matter, I just wanted to walk away free. Along with asking my church elders to cast demons out of me, forgiveness is one of the scriptural paths for a believer to break free of what’s holding them back. I had no clue whatsoever of what was holding me back, but I wanted to get away from it!

(My church elders never did cast any demons out. They didn’t have the therapy skills to discern what was wrong with me, but they did have the spiritual discernment to know I didn’t have any demons, either. A mixed blessing, but a great blessing, nonetheless.)

This is what I wrote about 20-something years ago about an incident with my father. I’m sharing it here because it’s full of bits and insights that I had no framework to contain it at the time and still maintain the familial relationship. I didn’t have categories like “emotional abuse” or “codependency” to filter events and emotions thru back then. None of us did.

“When I was still living at [E.....] and Dad’s marriage to [wife #2] was still new, I remember that he was becoming more and more distant in his relationship with me. When he was single, he had sometimes treated me as tho I were Mother, several times introducing me to people as “my wife, M[aggie].” I would correct it, but he would say he hadn’t done it!

I remember the night it all came to a head for me. I hadn’t seen Dad for a couple of weeks and it was getting on towards holiday season. There was something wrong with the house and he said he would come over and look at it. [He was my landlord. The washing machine wouldn’t drain and was overflowing onto the kitchen floor. It had been doing this for awhile.]

When he got there, he was angry that he had to be there at all. He didn’t want to have anything to do with me and would not look at me in the face. He never even took his coat off and made it clear that the problem was my problem and not his concern. It was a coldness and anger and humiliation by association that he had always displayed towards Mother that he was now blasting full force at me.

I remember being so confused and stunned speechless. There was nothing to do but take it. As he rushed out the door without a hug or a kind word, and slamming it behind him, it was then I knew that the special relationship I had always though we had was just a lie.

He had used me as an emotional buffer against Mother. I was there to vent his frustration with her on and to make him feel adored, truly lovable, and innocent. He hadn’t really wanted to spend time with me, that was just bait to keep me on the line. Now he had a new wife and a new life and I wasn’t required anymore. I was, in all truth, an unpleasant reminder. [Of a bad marriage, a failed family, of not being the trophy child he thought he was getting.]

I remember locking the door after him and completely breaking down. It was the first time I would cry the same tears I would cry again when used and thrown away by [Boyfriend #2] and [Boyfriend #3]."

I moved five hours away two months later. It was about 18 months after that before he ever called to see how I was doing. Another 3-4 years before he came to visit. I remember our first conversation here, I was so freezing cold with nervousness my teeth were chattering. I couldn’t control it. I was trying to talk to a stranger and not frighten him off - and he was my Dad! I loved him, I trusted him, I had always thought he was my friend, but the crazy truth was he was always running some secondary agenda that I could feel, but wouldn’t know about until later.

The wretched truth is those secondary agendas he thought he was managing came back around to kill him when he became ill. Wife #3 always had her agenda, too, and she never stopped working it.

We were related, but we were never family again. Stupid, foolish, naive me knew that, and just the same kept hoping right past the end that maybe I was wrong. There’s nothing like cleaning out old papers and tallying up the estate accounts to make it clear, tho. Believe me, this isn’t what he thought he was doing. He thought he had every old grudge contained and every person isolated into their own little lane, but he was outfoxed by someone who had done it more often and so much better.


This hasn’t been pleasant to write, when I have to go near the subject it feels like my insides get hollowed out a little bit more every time. It’s probably necessary to get the rot out, but I don’t want to make it a habit. Analogies, and people, do break at some point.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Suns and stars

What thinkest thou?

I like. It should arrive this week.

I was shopping for a rug (or something) to go above the bed and cover that hinky place in the wall, and after a while of blah, blah, blah, I found this.

5'x5', seems to be Uzbek (although ain't no tellin' who really made it these days), the blue, gold, and green are right, and the cinnamon is my fave shade of orange, but the thing that sold me on it was this article.

I'm not taking up shamanism by any means, but this description isn't a cult in direct opposition to the God I know.  Sometimes you just have to work with what you do know. Remember, we (every one of us) only know God because He reveals Himself to us, not because we are clever and tracked Him down.

I've always wondered about the ancient history and people groups from east of Germany to, oh, west of Mongolia. Big area, I know, and lots of people and empires that never made it into my school books.  I'll never go there now, I just don't have the willpower to endure that many planes, trains, and automobiles anymore.  But, now that I've laid down the cash to get this rug, perhaps it will provoke me to find out more.

If you know something, say something in the comments.

Yeah, I know you are there, I see the traffic.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

One breath

I’m not completely heartless. When I got home tonight and opened the car door, the car that used to be my father’s, I caught a whiff of his scent. I think it was because of the rain, the humidity picked up his smell - but there was no “I love you, baby girl,” and no hug, and not even a hint of a lingering ghost to go with it. And there never will be again.

It’s been almost a year since last I saw him as his normal self, up and about and taking us out to dinner like always. When he waved goodbye to me as I left for home, I knew it was the last time I would ever see him do that. I knew it, but I wouldn’t dare say it lest I (hoping against all hope) might be wrong and jinx something. But, I was right.  So then, now all I have is his car and a picture of him sitting on the porch.

 I’ve got 30 years still to go. It will have to be enough.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The sins of omission

Self Deception in Psychopathology, Jordan Peterson

I’ve been sifting thru this video for a few days, there’s not really a wasted word or thought in the whole video. It becomes absolutely fascinating about 30 minutes in with the dissection of the addiction loop in the brain and on thru the stories at the end of his lecture (54:30 to 1:09:06). It has a number of small repeats in the video, I think that is for messing up the digital censors, just keep going.

I was talking to a friend the other day who knows the frustrations I had with my mother, but not so much my father. We were talking books and I said my mother was all West Virginia Hillbilly Elegy crazed ferocity, and my father was all the Mississippi Delta brooding silence of  William Faulkner’s “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Maggie would rage, but Dad would keep silent at all cost.  And I do mean at all cost, no matter who paid or how much. You can rack up quite a bit when other people give you a lifetime of open credit - and then die first. Or just run away.

It’s great comfort to hear someone say that lying by omission is still lying, and that it causes its own grievious harm to all concerned. I learned the fine art of white lies from my father, it was the one defensive method he taught us all - just don’t engage, offer nothing, and divert the conversation elsewhere. It took me decades to realize he had been doing it to me, too, even though there were many years I barely saw him even once a year. What could he possibly gain by it, I never stood in his way!

I rather suspect that fear and deception becomes its own addictive loop in the brain after you practice it for awhile. Like other behavioral patterns, for a time you use it - and then it uses you.

This is also a good video if you’re thinking that Peterson is some sort of closeted Judeo-Christian apologist. He isn’t. He’s a psychologist in search of how the narratives we create to explain our experience as living beings over time relate to something called “reality.” I think that’s plenty enough to ask him to do well. That he is open to considering mythical paradigms, even what C.S. Lewis would call the “true myth” of the Biblical narrative, is its own small miracle.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


I have to go to the farm today and retrieve the very last (I hope) of anything I want to bring home. I named this post Recalcitrance because I really don't like doing this anymore, but the second sentence in I'm thinking that's too harsh. I will go, I just don't want to go. By comparison to many other years of having to do and go to do things I didn't want to do, I'm actually doing really well. Back then it would have taken me til Saturday afternoon to get moving, not Wednesday. I don't think I'll ever get to first thing Saturday morning of vacation week for such things.

But I would like to get to where I have some things I'm excited about first thing on a Saturday morning! Wouldn't that be fun!?
That's something I haven't seen in a few decades.
I'm aiming at more Fun in my life.

Somehow I stumbled over Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project on youtube this morning. Without being a therapist or anything near that, she did figure out that some people don't know what makes them happy, so her Project paradigm has room for those of us who don't know who we are, either.

This is the second video of hers I've watched, I like that she's perceptive, but motivated by her primary goal of happiness and aligning our lives more in that direction, so I'm putting this one out for anyone else. I like her take on growth as well. You can't just fix where you are, you have to grow out of where and how and who you are now in order to take on more happiness.

I'm also working thru (a little bit at a time) the book Creative Aggression, The Art of Assertive Living, by Dr. George R. Back and Dr. Herb Goldberg. The catchphrase on the back of the paperback is 'Nice Guys' Wreck Lives! Their own - and yours, too! It was written in 1974, so it's quite ancient in view of the categories and terminology we all use now, but it's spot on about the problem of being over cooperative and not dealing with conflicts directly - EVER. Avoiding conflict gets people killed, being falsely cooperative doesn't make conflict go away, hiding yourself won't keep you safe. At its root, it's profoundly dishonest and deceitful. It's a lifestyle of deception, even, no matter how much you seem to be a Good Guy to others.

I've hated the word "nice" for years now, at least 15 years or more. I may have hated it even in high school. "Nice" is code for ice cool manipulation and passive selfishness in the face of personal destruction of yourself or other people. The Latin root for nice is nescire, which means not know. Nice people choose to either act like they don't know the unpleasantness in the room, or they choose to actually not know. Neither choice gets them off the hook in the long run.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Editing policy

Making a disclaimer here - I've gone thru and read most of my posts again and decided some need better formatting and a little bit of punctuation constraint where possible. (Read: maybe a few more commas, sentence breaks, and maybe a semi-colon or two. Because the long sentences are there on purpose.)

I think I'm still on regular google blogspot (I don't really know), and I know there is a google plus (but I don't really know what that will do to or for me), and quite a few bloggers tout the praises of just getting off of google and going somewhere else. Obviously, I'm not paying for this yet, and will likely never get to that point, but I'm not happy with the editing policy they've adopted concerning who can say what. It's fanaticism, ignorance, and flaming narcissism on full display, so it's probably time to think about what I prefer and do something about that, too.

I think I'll go thru and make sure I have a copy of everything first. One never knows how fast a fire will spread.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Changing genres

I think I’m going to start writing a mystery. I’ve been writing self help and psychoanalytic forensics for years now, I think it’s time to change genres and leave something else entirely for my estate minders to find.

To that end, I’m officially releasing myself from my former diary style, inherited from my mum, wherein I catalog all my new resolutions and lists of things done and undone. From now on, I’m going to to do tear away diaries. I can write whatever I want, but if I come back and find that there’s nothing to build upon in a previous entry, I’m free to tear it out and throw it away. Leaving written evidence behind about how I keep getting stuck in the same potholes is just useless.

Upon my death, my nephew will find that his eccentric aunt was either remarkably terse or had quite a series of unusual, colorful days.

To that end, I’ve cleared off my desk and have at the ready a number of art journaling resources and a few calligraphy pens. It’s also spring here now, and there’s a massive blooming forsythia hanging from a wall that I’ve been meaning to photograph. I may have all the skills of a two year old at his finger paints, but that’s okay, I’ll fit right in at the old folks home.

Mary Englebreit
via Pinterest

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bringing it in

Okay, kids, I think it's time to bring this thing in for a landing. I believe I've sussed out most of the relevant framework of my family of origin dynamics and, barring any previously unknown siblings turning up at my front door, I think I can wrap up the last of the forensic searches and put away the what ifs and what abouts and never go looking again. Or, as they say, "stick a fork in me, I'm done."

My father wanted to know why he had to go through cancer and hospice, I think he had hoped to drop from a heart attack like his father. If nothing else, the experience I had with him in his final months burned away the last of the illusions and hopes I once had about him -  and that was a blessing in deep disguise. As excruciatingly painful as the last five months have been, it's better to know the truth about who and what I was to him, and accepting that is setting me free.

I'm rather tired now, but the good news is that I'm spent. I've questioned the conclusions I reached about my father, I've wondered if it just wasn't anger at his dying, but I had already begun to draw those conclusions over and over again for the last 40 years. His death just made any refutation of my assessment impossible.

It was what it was, it just wasn't what I thought it was. It could be that I'm getting the very thing that I wished for my mother. It turns out I got everything wrong about who "I" was; with no one left who has ever known me, whoever I thought I was has faded like a ghost at noonday.  It's alright, I'm willing to forget all of it to just be fully and gratefully here, now, wherever I go, for as long as I have left.

I'm not dead yet, I'm getting better. I think I'll go for a walk.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Just a couple of questions and answers

I'm learning to like Jordan Peterson. Apparently he's a clinical psychologist by trade, not a political scientist.

Start here with the Q&A following a lecture. This is the second question and it's a pip.

The last question at 2:36 brought tears to my eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, it's you, but it's also God's doing."

"Don't underestimate the contribution of sheer difficulty."

This is a clip about Borderline Personality Disorder:


[I woke up yesterday swearing I was going to get things done, so I wasted it on Facebook, Pinterest, and I don’t know what else. I woke up today swearing I was going to stay away from the computer, but I was only going to write down the three triggers I noticed I had this week, one of which is writing here. So, I haven’t made the trigger list yet and I’m writing here on the computer instead. WTH??? Oh, let’s just get it over with...]

Richard Grannon has a video that starts out talking about "mindfulness." That's what all this blogging is about.

He goes on to talk about the “inner critic” and how to make it shut up.  I’ve noticed how lots of people have inner critics who apparently tell them that they are awful or no good or whatever shrieking lie the people in their childhoods kept telling them. But, no one in my childhood ever said anything like that to me, everyone was very nice and Christian and all that - so what’s my problem? What’s the negative script that keeps playing somewhere in my head and tripping me up?

It’s all about subtext, not open accusation. If everyone in your family is “nice,” then the put downs have to come thru the things that aren’t being said. The trendy word for that is gaslighting, but true gaslighting is conscious manipulative deceit to achieve a goal. Go back and watch the movie Gaslight. He knows what he is doing, he is consciously playing Ingrid Bergman to doubt her own mind. “Who are you going to believe? Me or your own lying eyes?”

Subtext is a talking game that will never Ever admit what the goal is, either to the player or the played. The people who are working it are avoiding their own feelings, motives, and possibly in full denial of their own goals. They just know that they can’t “go there” and so they distract themselves and others from the truth with reframed circumstances, consistently avoidant thinking and behavior that takes up the moments where the truth is flaming in their faces, and then live in some vague hope that something else is going to happen far enough in the future to make action today non-critical.

“Of course I love you/your mother/whoever.”
“We just have to be more understanding.”
“I need to get this other thing done right now.”
“When we get this/do that/go there/finish this other, then things will begin to change.”
“We don’t have time for this now, we’ll do that later/next year/after you grow up.”
“If you give me a hamburger today, I’ll gladly pay you tomorrow.”

If you are a child growing up under that regime, what you hear is “Never mind about everything that you feel and need and see going on right now, your feelings/needs/lying eyes need to be put away for now. The family story needs protecting, so we are going to do what we want while you still wait to feel/need/see.”

You learn not to feel - not feel emotions in real time, not feel pain in your body when you’re injured or sick, not even feel the absence of  feelings when you go looking for them. Check out this video on ADHD and emotions. It talks about a disconnect in executive function and emotions. I’m coming around to the opinion that ADHD can be developed in children thru emotional and developmental neglect. If someone is deliberately frustrating brain and behavioral development in children, then those executive function neural connections aren’t going to be made at the proper time, and then even slower, later development will be thwarted as long as the abuse of frustration and deception are allowed to continue.    

You learn how to not need - to always accept nothing or accept garbage substitutes for the real satisfaction of a need. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good friendship, good food, a satisfying job, genuine affection from a lover or partner, or the pleasures of treating yourself well. You’ve been trained to ALWAYS put off consistent satisfaction of needs met, and you have no framework of mind in which to receive needs met every day. If things start working right for you, you will feel better frustrating yourself than accepting progress. We do what we know, not what we know is best, even if we’ve been demanding better. If SUBTEXT has been what you are trained in, then that’s the program you run, and by definition, the subtext is “not now, not today, not the good you really need.”

You learn not to see - well, not see until everything is in ruins and even complete strangers remark on the chaos. Not seeing also happens at a very physical, rational level. It’s what is happening to hoarders on TV. The tunnel vision has shrunk so small that they can barely see the path in front of their feet or their lunch heating in the microwave. Everything else is hidden behind the blinders in their minds. Codependents do the same blinding to themselves when they Will not see what is going on in their relationships or going on in themselves. They might see for a moment, but it’s too awful to look again, so their eyes just glaze right over things.

Codependents hoard subtext but never see it, because their only attachment to their family of origin foundation of love and acceptance is via the subtexted experience. If they throw out the subtexted messages, then the overt message Must go also. I’ve spent a lot of time from my teen years forward searching for pure, non-subtexted, communications or experiences from my family. For the most part, or as much as I have any memory of, every thing is tainted. There was ALWAYS a larger, highly unpleasant agenda being played out. I have no memories of just pure happiness, peace, and love among or between the people in my immediate family.

This is NOT how I want to think about my family; I’m a member of that group, too, you know. I’ve been earnestly and faithfully trying to come up with loving and true frameworks to remember the people in my family for years and years and years. I’ve been a stretch it to the moon and back reframer for my whole life. I’ve wanted with my whole heart for everyone to be just misunderstood and really, underneath it all, loving heroes frustrated by chance and circumstance. But, I’ve GOT to get out of my mind traps that were deliberately laid, so I just Have to see it now for what it was, feel what I never let myself feel, and get my needs actually met every single day without apologizing for it.

Maybe I’ll remember some things or events that were simple and true sometime. If I do, I’ll try to drop a comment here.

Edit: Ask, and ye shall receive. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sometimes you just got to pain it out

I think it isn't sinking in, it's coming out.

That all my family is dead, my friendships in every direction are pretty much dead, and every relationship I've ever relied upon is gone like dust in the desert. There's just nothing anywhere.  I can't quit work, who would know or care that I was even alive, much less dead?

I'm good at reframing to make others feel better.
I used to be good at daydreaming and putting off until "someday" to make myself feel better.

this year,
"Reality" is my goal.

It's very, very painful.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Ding ding ding


 This is the first video I've seen of this guy, I have no clue who he is or whether the rest of his stuff is worth anything, but this vid is good.  Really good.

I've bitten the bullet and signed up for his email list, I'll let you know if I like anything more of his.


And there's the first email... 

...and, no, I'm not joining "the community." I don't have time for that and I'm not giving him my credit card number. I'll just have to see what can be culled from the public videos.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Yeah, but no

Been obsessed with this song, this version, for the the past five days. His version came out in '79, Rundgren's version came out on '77; I don't know which or why I'm drawn to either, but it seems to be having an effect. The tea spell has come unraveled, as has a couple of other fixations that I've had since childhood. It's as if I've finally put the knitting right, I found where the stitches were dropped and put everything back into it's true pattern - mysteries solved and put away.

"We awoke from our dream
Things are not always what they seem
Memories linger on
It's like a sweet, sad, old song

Can we still be friends?"


Edit: Why, oh, why couldn't I have seen this tour?!