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?!
It just takes what it takes, and sometimes it takes a while to come on around.
I watched this video at least a year ago, maybe longer. I was a bit "meh" on it, but now I like it better. Quite often, "being good to yourself first" gets translated as "give yourself treats to make yourself feel better or special," which can only work for a little while. Like any box of chocolates, it's only special the first few times, then it's just the same old thing.
But now, after having done all I could do to love and care for each of my parents in their final days, I've had a little taste of loving until death do you part. It's not about dinner out or feeling special, it's about being fully present and loving faithfully a deeply flawed person right where they are. And if I'm not doing that for myself, how is it I expect friends or lovers I've not yet met to do the same? If my parents have taught me nothing else, watching them die has taught me that you have to commit to yourself with discipline and passion. If you don't fight for yourself, nobody can fight alongside with you.
That's my prayer, anyway. I'm spending my nights on the couch with Dad in hospice. He's having some real breathing difficulties tonight, a real textbook case for death rattle and some sort of autonomic breathing pattern that I've forgotten the name of now. I'll spare you the details of all the difficulties and the deep disagreements I've had with the care he's been given here. I don't have the POA, I brought up my concerns, they've been duly ignored out of hand. At this point, my prayer every hour is that this ends tonight. Jesus said He had the keys of death, hell, and the grave, then please, Sire, release my Daddy from this torture.
I opened up this post to capture this moment in between, this place in between my life when I had some family and the morning I wake up to none. This isn't a rant post, it's a recovery post, because I can feel the difference between having a Dad I've been ever trying to have a good relationship with, yet ever missing the mark, and having no one left that I need to make happy.
It's not freeing, but there is less anxiety and less pressure within the day. Normal people are like this all the time, I suspect, but we codependents always have a little nagging shadow creeping up our spines constantly whining about all the things we should be doing but aren't. That little voice is disappearing and I'm choosing without bondage what I will do and what I won't. I won't miss my little shadow at all.
It's a damned shame that losing my Dad is what it's taking for me to throw off that shadow. He knows nothing about it, and I'm not blaming it on him. I'm so free that I can't even trick myself into a blame game for it, you know, "you held your father to account in your own mind for his faults in raising you, now you've precipitated his death from cancer by disturbing the cosmic balance," or some such other nonsense that once I would have wallowed in for years.
Nope. It's right and proper that the relationship die when the person dies. Believe me, I've already tried the route of trying to make amends to the dead and it just does not work. God has us all in hand, only Jesus can make things right with the dead, let them go.
So what shall I do, then? I don't know. But I feel my center of balance is inside me, not swinging so wildly out on the opinions of others anymore. Makes me the bad guy to some people here. Too bad.
I'm working my way rather swiftly thru a couple of books that I can really recommend. If you are having problems with choosing the wrong partners and friends, over and over again, then you're going to have to deal with the issues you have from your childhood. There's just no way around it, but these two are great starts for your self analysis. Not too complicated, but not simplistic mush, either. Also, both are written by therapists that have been in the field for years, so lots of experience to address the issues, plus lots of real life examples.
First, from a recommendation from Jerry Wise, Trapped in the Mirror; Adult Chidren of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self, by Elan Golomb, PhD. I'm up to p. 185 out of 260 pp., and have done a fair amount of underlining where I self identified or heard a key point phrased in a new, perceptive way. The last chapter is called Sending Home the Negative Introject, presumably about pitching out the negative parental introject that we carry about with us even after the real parent is long gone or far away. I look forward to it, although the immediacy of the idea carries a frisson of nervous fear. If I'm not as I've always been, what then? Takes the valor of Sparta to carry on thru, I hear. May be.
The second I found while looking for any writers that also used the Murray Bowen paradigm of the family of origin, as also per Jerry Wise. I found Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD. It's a very good primer, it has put a few things into the realm of emotional response and maturity that I hadn't really considered to be in that realm. Some things that I had considered willfulness she classifies as more of a case of knee jerk emotional response. I can see that, and it helps to demystify some behaviors that I've been sorely tempted attribute to evil intent instead.
For a taste, I'll quote an enlightening chunk of description of the "The Passive Parent" in Gibson's book.
"Passive parents aren't angry or pushy like the other three types, but they still have negative effects. They passively acquiesce to dominant personalities and often partner with more intense types who are also immature, which makes sense given that people with similar emotional maturity levels are attracted to one another (Bowen 1978).
Compared to the other types, these parents seem more emotionally available, but only up to a point. When things get too intense, they become passive, withdraw emotionally, and hide their heads in the sand. They don't offer their children any real limits or guidance to help them navigate the world. They may love you but they can't help you.
Passive parents are as immature and self-involved as the other types, but their easygoing and often playful ways make them much more lovable than the other three types (emotional, driven, or rejecting). They are often the favorite parent and can show some empathy for their children, as long as doing so doesn't get in the way of their needs. And because they can be as egocentric as the other types, passive parents may use their child to meet their own emotional needs - primarily their need to be the focus of someone's affectionate attention. They enjoy the child's innocent openness and can get on the child's level in a delightful way. The child loves his or her time with this parent - but because the child is often filling the parent's need for an admiring, attentive companion, it becomes a kind of emotional incest.
As adults, it doesn't occur to them that they have a mission not only to have fun with their own children, but to protect them. Instead, they go into a kind of trance during the worst times, retreating into themselves or finding other passive ways to weather the storm.
In addition to unthinkingly abandoning their children when the going gets rough, these parents may leave the family if they get a chance at a happier life. If the passive but more emotionally connected parent leaves the family for any reason, the wound to the child can be especially deep, since the abandonment came from the parent who meant the most to the child.
Children who adored a passive parent can become adults who make excuses for other people's abandoning behavior. As children, they believed nothing could be done about their childhood situation and that the passive parent was truly helpless. They're often taken aback by the idea that their wonderful, nice parent actually had a responsibility to stand up for them when they couldn't protect themselves as children. They've never considered that parents have a duty to put their children's emotional welfare at least on an even footing with their own interests."
Yup. It's the truth.
Don't you want to read more? Get the Kindle version, reads well.
If both my parents were Christians, and we were living our lives according to Christian principles, then how is it my family turned into such a fucking mess?
This week was like watching someone get run over by a train. Inevitable, nothing I could do to change it even tho I was screaming in a polite measured tone to all parties, and then just Poof! - red mist, and the deed was done.
Dad's been in hospice care for a couple of weeks, he's got plenty of visitors, lots of attention, and great care. I'm tired of this hotel. It took me less than 20 minutes to have my things packed once I finally made the decision to get out of here at o'dark thirty. I'll be back, but my ability to walk in denial and distraction has reached it's limit for a few days.
Back home late last night for a 36 hour turnaround. Needed to make sure the house and the cats were still here, sleep in my own bed, and be me, not just what I'm needed to be. Dad is now in hospice care after therapy just became torture. He's doing much better there, but therein lies the crazy, because there is where he'll never get well. His mind is good, this is his decision, and we all struggle to get our heads around it. I'm grateful for him, for his wife and all his dozens of friends that come relentlessly to tell him they love him and are praying for him every day, for how everything this time with him is completely different that it was with Maggie, for every memory that I had forgotten that comes back, and for every new memory that is being made and tucked away with love.
I got up early, just finished a good country breakfast, and have my newly found again old radio playing on the kitchen counter. Turns out they replay a Top 40 playlist from years ago every Saturday, it makes the house feel not unlike a summer morning at "the folks." No TV, no mouthy disc jockeys, no rest of the world, no need for anything other than the sound of crickets, lawn mowers, and a metal shop sander whining way down the street. It's a cool morning, windows open, stale air clearing out, making my list to prepare to go back.
This moment right here right now is plenty enough, I want to stay suspended between 8 and 9 o'clock. What's needed done until now has been done, what's coming is still a few days off and can't be worried over too much yet. By this afternoon, there will be more news from back home, more things besides cat food and green tea on that list, more heat, more sound, more questions, more grief, more fear, more prayers, more tears, more walking along this narrow way that has no turning back, more faith in this foggy quiet unknown, because it has to be met with confidence and persistence in God's love, lest our unspoken cowardices break out and break us all. Faithful and faithless, alike.
Recovery continues and help is being given to me as and when I can receive it. These are a couple of good finds I came across in the last few days:
Ross Rosenberg made some good observations and distinctions here, chiefly the difference between passive and active codependents. I've come to think of Dad as Super-Passive (my own designation), but it has some rewards, too, chiefly the "salt of the earth" quality Rosenberg discusses. As for me, I'm a codependent anorexic these days. I tried and tried, but always with horrible, painful results - so I just quit altogether before my confused, chaotic heart got me destroyed altogether.
Which takes me to this gem by Jerry Wise, "My Emotional Shell Keeps Me Safe, But Not Happy." Now I'm looking for a little turtle shell charm necklace to remind myself to come out of my shell and the shell of a self that others expect and respond to. It's not just another "should" on my list, I'm becoming more and more detached from all the shells I've been living in and I'm beginning to forget to carry them around. What was that thing Peter Michaelson said? Change just happens as you observe and understand what you've been doing until now, eventually you walk out of what isn't you anymore.
About your sense of self? The Real Secret to Setting Boundaries, also Jerry Wise. Your relationships with other begin with you - not him, her, us, or them. It's a good thing. Check out his other videos on self-differentiation.
knew it would happen eventually. My mother did this table in 1967 and I
donated it to charity. It's marked "very old" and $39. They've dabbed a
bit of paint in the chipped places and clear coated it. They spiffed it up very nicely, and if it
weren't so emotionally freighted, I'd want it back now. I've been
distracted by quite a few parrot Victorian designs in different things -
wanting them, but not knowing why. This is probably why, and it's a
very good thing to discover where a desire is really coming from.
When Maggie did this table, Dad was in Vietnam, she was going back to college to finish her degree, and she had a rather joyful burst of creativity around the house. Several pieces of smaller furniture got antiqued with the new "old" finishes of the era, she took on a border for extra income in the mother-in-law suite, and I think she felt younger than she had for a long time. Navy and wife and mom were none of her favorite things, ever, but she loved school and she loved seeking out a new identity for herself. [Over and over again.] I've also been listening to a lot of Jerry Wise videos, he's very good for long term healing and a big picture kind of guy. Like me, big picture, that is. I've been very blessed in discovering some ancient sources of desires and wounds within myself, like the tea cups and this table. I suspect for a great many people, the cues for so many behaviours have been lost in time and chaos. To heal and grow out of the damage from childhood, they have to wrestle onward in sheer gut determination, the shrapnel from old battles still in place. Jerry Wise has some great insight into ACOA's (Adult Children of Alcoholics), and that is the paradigm thru which I realized how much damage I carried around from my raising. This morning's revelations of truth include that ACOA's can't handle intimacy because it hurts. Being intimate is a painful experience, just in and of itself. But that's what we all want because we weren't getting it in a healthy manner growing up. But when we do get it, it's painful. Not just scary or awkward. Painful.
Growing up in a river of denial means I can pretend the thing I want and need to be fully human and alive isn't painful at all for awhile - because I can stuff down and deny any kind of pain at all. Until it gets so big that I'm in screaming agony and have to run away. That's the beauty of long distance relationships - big dose of intimacy, often in the guise of confessional conversations or sex, then big separation where relief and recovery from the pain also goes unnoticed. Rinse and repeat, the addict/codependent mantra.
What I'd like to know is how to do over the creative discovery process that should have been childhood. Dana Morningstar at Thrive After Abuse had an interesting opinion at the end of one of her videos that if you really know yourself, you'll have clarity. CLARITY. It's a mystery word to me, I haven't experienced anything like it... Ever? In a long time? Since I was small? I don't know. I don't even have clarity about clarity, but I know that I should be able to identify (as a human adult) not just things and projects I should be doing, but things and projects that I-want and I-will do, regardless of what anyone else's opinion is on the matter. I don't just want clarity as a result of long term healing, I'm thinking it's my right as a human, a being who is entitled to think and be and make good choices for myself.
If you don't do Facebook, I think Morningstar's video excerpt there is from this much longer livestream video here. If I find the part later, I'll cue it up. Meanwhile, give Jerry Wise's videos about family of origin a listen. This is a good ACOA starter video:
"Dr. Todd Pickett speaks with Malcolm Guite and Steve Bell about the role
of poetry, creativity, and repetition in the Christian life. They
discuss the practice of liturgy and how a revamped understanding of
liturgy could benefit modern culture."
First, I've started listening to the Audible version of Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance. His family in Kentucky lived 70 miles west/southwest from Maggie's family in West Virginia, both older generations having toughed it out in the hollers, and the younger having moved to a larger town and looking to advance in the world. I think I'm all of four chapters in, but the people are very much the same. It's a little wild and a lotta scary, but he carries much of the same mix of respect, love, and woundedness that I feel towards Maggie's family. It wasn't easy, they had to be strong, but that toughness can and did turn right around and slaughter their sons and daughters after them. We don't get to pick our parents or the generations before us, it's neither fair nor unfair, it's just how we all got here. We have to move on.
This morning I stumbled into a review of Borderline Personality Disorder in a mother this morning, which is what I knew about Maggie before I knew anything about narcissism. I'll start you off with this video where he reads a poem he wrote for his mother's funeral. It's a good place to enter into thinking about how these things work out in real life. My experience was very similar to this man's growing up, which surprised me, but you never know who's been where. After this one, go to Part One, then to one made a week later on children of BPD's, all by the same therapist.
It's good to go back and review the raw material sometimes, especially
after several years of exploration and refining. I haven't been back
this far at all in about two years, I've tidied up quite a few things in my mind now, but it's good to take a morning's walk thru the old trash back when it was in its raw state.
If I don't, I deceive myself into thinking this isn't what it really was,
that this isn't the mess that can overtake me still,
that this isn't the chaos that I has been passed down to me thru many generations,
that my soul can just walk away and start new.
In truth it all has to be acknowledged, sifted, and then cast out. I laid my hands on every single thing left in her house and dealt with it all, will I not now have to do the same with what is in my own "house?"
I'm finding I'm having to get very ruthless with old affections and likes and dislikes and familiarities and plans and purposes and comforts and all of me that's ever been until now. I'm tired of carrying everything I've ever been and everything I've ever thought. The sheer tonnage of stuff that Maggie never dealt with or parted with was staggering. I know because I was the one who hauled everything that had lost all value to the dump over the county scale. It feels very much the same as I keep hauling out bits of myself to either refinish or turn loose of, no matter how long I've been storing it. But I can't stop, I'm too tired to quit now. If I sit down, I may never get back up again. Best to just keep working.
Stopped by Sippican Cottage this morning and this was his most recent post. How many of us ever listen to a Bach fugue after high school band? Does anyone in high school band play them anymore? Anyway, the little tidbit on that video had me looking for more, so I went and found the full version of Toccata and Fugue in D minor. If they aren't your bread and butter, listen to it as a language and communication from a brilliant and foreign people, aliens even, speaking great wisdom and truth that you've never known before. Which, of course, it is.
About 2:40 into the piece is where I start to get high, or drunk, or whatever it is when your brain gets overwhelmed but your spirit will not give up the ride. Three times I've listened to it this morning, every time tears overflow from a well within that isn't often tapped. Our culture is rank with pew prophets, but the joy that springs from hearing the tongues of angels is life and medicine to my soul.
Steve Bell used a bit of something similar to transition two songs on Beyond A Shadow, The Wellspring and Holy Lord. The shortened reading of Isaiah 6 between them is wonderful and clear, don't let the edits offend you lest you miss the majesty and the reality of Isaiah's commission. In this case, it's the music that fills in details, not the words. I've got both songs below, but cue them up before listening as they should be played cleanly back to back. Don't let any advertising break in on your meditation.
Steve Bell - The Wellspring
Steve Bell - Holy Lord
The sound of the great doors closing behind Isaiah broke my heart the first time I heard the album. One day, one hour, one moment with Him is what we live for as believers, isn't it? He is with us always, I know, but we long to remain, unfettered, at rest, in the fullness of His own dear presence.
Job knew His voice, clear and true, and shared it with us, despite the humiliation and gory details of his own life story in which it came. "Not us, but God" is one of the hallmarks of Judeo/Christian testimony and prophets. If you're reading about some religious leader that worked really hard and finally achieved all the works that finally got him to God, then he's in some other religion. Our bunch is found by Him, despite ourselves. (If you can't find Him, call out and ask Him to find you. It's okay to be small and lost and scared, He isn't offended about that at all. Just call and keep calling, He'll come after you. Promise.)
I've also been listening to Dr. John Walton's lecture series on the Book of Job. I'm about halfway through (there's 30 mini-lectures!), but it's worth it. The place to start with Walton is Genesis... belay that. In looking for a video, I also saw all kinds of upset many people have with him, generally because it upsets an interpretation of the book they hold dear. I've listened to all sorts of Genesis theories and sermons, but it's always been something I've held lightly because of the way I first heard God speak out of the book.
I always heard "Let us make man-in-our-image," not "Let us make a new creature, call him Man, and he's going to be like us." Obviously, Adam (male and female) failed to be a faithful representation of God nearly straight off the bat. Not eating the forbidden fruit (until they Did eat) was the whole of their faithfulness, and that's not much of an Image of God, is it? We've just assumed that being a big leap over the beasts of the field was the Image of God. Being human is really special in the animal pantheon, but it's still an infinity away from being like God, to wit, every human that tells you he's just like God is immediately known to be a nutcase.
(Besides, all the contortions that expositors go thru to explain nothing dying and cities full of people springing up and Adam's sons marrying their sisters just gets so complicated it just falls apart. Yeah, you can come up with a lot of teaching on it, but way too much has to be fabricated out of whole cloth. Simplicity. If you don't know what a scripture means, just keep in the book but quit worrying on it. "I don't know yet" is a very sound response to things you don't know yet.)
I always believed (like, from elementary school onward) that God was starting a process that was going to result in humans and a tribe of people that would be His Image in human flesh. He liked all of creation (it was "good"), but he was working a process that didn't have its outcome until Jesus came along. Remember when Jesus said, "Father, in to Thy hands, I commend my spirit." That wasn't for safe-keeping, Jesus was saying, "I'm done. I've done everything and been everything You wanted me to do and be. Now, weigh me in the balance, examine me and my whole life. See if I am and I've done it right and completely to Your standards."
The fact that Jesus took up his flesh and his life again and walked out of that grave is the proof that He got it right, that his entire earthly life was acceptable, and Jesus was indeed The Image of God that the Father had been creating all that time.
So, then, back to Dr. John Walton's view or interpretation of Genesis and the ancient world - I don't have a dog in the young Earth creationist hunt. I'm fine with however God did indeed make the light and the darkness, the sun and stars, the land and seas, the creepy crawlies and the humans - however He did it exactly is fine with me. It doesn't have to be evolution, it doesn't have to be six days, it doesn't have to be anything I've already heard about, it could be something none of us have heard about.
I am stuck on "this is my Father's world," but I'm also fine with "we'll learn a bunch of the details later." Hey, I'm in my mid-50's now, I have no doubt the smartest people who ever lived barely scratched a mark in the surface of all there is to know. Wisdom isn't knowing everything, wisdom is knowing how to do what's best for today. All my capacity for knowledge and wisdom leaves this world when I die, there is no cumulative wisdom. You have to get it for yourself, no transplanting it into someone else, no matter how much you try. (How many parents just said, "Amen, sister.")
How about starting with Dr. Walton the same place I did - via Seedbed. It's a great, short video resource site for a number of theologians I've come to appreciate. Short videos, I think 7 minutes is generally the goal, and it makes for a light meditation on subjects you haven't thought about in awhile. I don't actually remember what Walton says about Noah, so let's start there!
New (to me) overview description of adult children of narcissists.
"Emotional reactivity" is my new paradigm for some aspects of CPTSD, it
doesn't cover every bit of it, but it is working well for dismantling
good bits of it. As ever, I find there's always room for a skilled
tradesman with fresh eyes - in demo and in rebuilding.
Six Painful Core Issues for Adult Children of Narcissists, by Jerry Wise
As per usual, I don't know how I found or clicked on his videos, but I haven't yet found a bad one in the lot. He's a family systems therapist, has decades of experience as a therapist (a HUGE difference among the youtube pantheon of codependence therapy), and I recommend his videos without reservation.
There are other therapists in the practice, they also make videos, but I'm not recommending OR warning about them. I will say that I recoil in horror from one of those therapists, he just creeps me out like watching a demon speak. Another one just brushed me the wrong way within a minute, so I just stopped the video and went back to another Jerry Wise video.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. You may not like Jerry Wise. Watch what speaks to you. It could be that all the other therapists' videos from the Family Tree therapy group except Jerry Wise are the ones that are a real help to you. I'm taking it on faith that everyone in that group is qualified and competent and could be of help, so, watch what helps you.
But, here's one that's a bit different and has some ideas that I'm
working thru this morning. Below it I will link to some video lists that
should encompass all of Wise's videos for easy shopping and viewing.
Some people would say that I have an issue. Perhaps I don't really need all these tea cups and maybe I should quit and get rid of a few. I can see that point of view, I really had no idea that I had so many until I just got them all out. I've got three tea kettles (for boiling water on the stove) and I'm not sure how many tea pots I have, I haven't gotten them all together to count.
Eight. At least eight tea pots. I had to find out now that I'm counting things.
Nine. At least nine.
I'm restless and a little bit all over the place. My father is having a liver biopsy this morning, and it will take a few days to figure out what's what. I'm hoping it's nothing at all, just a precaution. He may be in his 80's, but I'm not in any way prepared for him to be sick or to leave this world. I know he will someday, but I'd just as soon Jesus came back first and we all leave out on the same flight.
I cried my way thru the front door of the hardware store this morning, I can't bear the thought that there might not be at least one more trip to the hardware store with my Dad. It's what we did. I don't remember playing games with him, I can't remember that time we had tea together before he went to Vietnam, and I can't remember any of those times where he said I did a really good job and he was proud of me, but we had hundreds of trips to the hardware store together. He had a plan to fix the house or get some chores done, and I would go along and "help."
Now that I've long been grown, I still walk the aisles the way he did. I feel like I'm playing hooky a little bit when I veer off into the home decor and lighting sections, and I mutter just like he mutters when I can't find but one kind of dinky, el cheapo tape measure in the whole store. I mean, of all places, why can't you find a section of proper tape measures to choose from in a Hardware Store!!! What is Wrong with These People?!
Dad called just as I was writing this. He's back home, feeling fine, with orders to "make like a couch potato."
I'm on a regularly scheduled vacation this week, I'll give him a few days to recover from being rather rudely poked and sampled, then go down and check on him myself. He's always been the steady one, never got sick much, and even if I only see him a few times a year, I count on him being somewhere. Somewhere where I can find him. Somewhere I could call him if something awful happened and I needed rescuing. Somewhere seeing to things on the farm, or blowing up beaver dams in the bottom woods, or fixing the drain at the stay place.
Some people would say I need to be more mature and stop thinking in such a childish manner. Grow up and deal with it.
I think I need to beef up the strong cobalt tea cup section, there's only two of those. And definitely branch out into more Imari patterns, I couldn't possibly leave all thosebeauties out there for someone else to have. And I believe I'm going to cry like a terrified toddler before the Lord and plead with Him to fix everything. Because there should ALWAYS be at least one more trip to the store with my Daddy.
Okay, I'm being ambitious that there will be a "Two" at some point.
Quiet morning at home, avoiding estate sales (because I really need to donate/sell some things first myself!), cruising the interwebs, and sharing with the world-ish.
Dana Morningstar of Thrive After Abuse had this little photo up, which struck me as the most radical, revolutionary change in perspective I could make in my life.
I understand that I probably already am the most important person in my life, that is just human nature, but what if I stopped stuffing it behind all the other shell games I play with my thoughts and emotions and just let it be loud and proud and out there for the world to see. Kinda makes me blink fast just typing that phrase, but I also think it's on target.
Doing a little Ebay/Etsy shopping. Kept it down to less than $50, even tho they were small, antique china vessels for hot beverage. Three of them. Ahem.
And, lastly, I've been observing myself to see if tossing hard memories into the river has any immediate effect. I am happy to report that there is a change in outlook, a sense that I've moved out of the old mind trap and into a greater sense of both freedom and safety. I was very happy to hear myself say (to myself) about one person who always gets under my skin, "She's not one up from me and I'm not one down from her - big surprise for her!"
(That's Pia Melody talk there. Glad it's sticking and producing results.)
I believe I wrote earlier (somewhere, I think) about my great aunt and her brother who died young, were buried, and then a great rain came. Because the earth had been freshly dug and wooden coffins float, my great great grandfather had to pull them out, weight the bodies and coffins with great stones, and rebury them. Smaller stones are also left at graves and memorial sites to mark that the deceased is remembered - and to keep the deceased from being dug up by wild beasts or otherwise coming up out of that grave.
For whatever reason, today there was someone sitting in my soul like a dead memory. It felt like a dead thing in my gut that I finally wanted removed entire, no attachment left behind, just gone.* Many years ago, there was one thing in my life that I just didn't want to remember anymore, and I asked the Lord to take the memory away and He did. I can dig the thing up if I just really try, but I don't go round looking for it. I like it gone. Today, for the first time in a few decades, I was finally willing to relinquish another person and memory, never to recall him again.
Well, long day summed up in a short paragraph is that by the time the afternoon was over, I had a mental list of people and associated memories that have weighed me down for years. In some instances, years and years. And years.
At first, I toyed with the idea of writing their name on a piece of paper and burning it, but that's a bit pagan and lacks the visceral quality that I want to feel and mark the time I give the memory away to God, for good. I've settled on writing the names on small stones (not unlike those pictured above) which I will toss as far out into the river as I can possibly get them tomorrow. I'm literally casting off the weights that have so easily beset me**, throwing away those memories which, by their burden, have done a great job of burying me alive in a grave of other people's shame.
It's not a process or solution for everyone, I'm not calling you to mimic me. It's my process, and tonight I've got three little rocks in my hand calling to mind every wound, betrayal, and dismissive arrogance that I just took and took and took - without protest and without a clue for what was really happening. I'm actually stirring the pot, scraping my insides for every bit of foreign trash that isn't mine to bear anymore.
I wonder what time I can get to the river safely in the morning?
*I'm speaking metaphorically, you dipshits, it wasn't a physical ailment. And no, it wasn't Maggie or any other family member. Who it was specifically is none of your business.
The points listed remind me of this from 2011, as well as Seduction. I've been chasing a past I never had, attached to a history that wasn't mine. It feels so important, so needful to never forget, but other times and others' experience belong some when and some where else. My efforts to hold the fort of memory for other people is a pantomime that keeps them entertained - and wastes my life.
and gotten hinked up* real quick (because it might could maybe probably, well, definitely will offend you in some deep down don't want to admit it way), this example from the book is one that anyone other than a compulsive gambler will make his Michaelson's point.
From the chapter Compulsions Galore:
"Consider the compulsive gambler. The gambler is secretly attached to the feeling of losing. His major defense, however, is to rush to the telephone to call in a bet to his bookie to "prove" that he really wants to win. His gambling is out of control to the degree that he is attached to losing. He becomes convinced that his compulsion is due to a lack of willpower, or selfishness, or cruelty to his wife, or being a bad father, or being too lazy to make an honest living. He will not be aware of the real cause of his compulsion - his attachment to the feeling of losing. Told this, he will usually resist believing it or even considering it."
Think about it. The feeling any gambler gets more than any other is losing. Every gambler Knows the advantage is with the house, no matter what the game. He Knows that if when he gambles, he will have hundreds of losing experiences for every win, no matter what the amounts won or lost are. The house is not the gambler's enemy at all, the house is providing exactly what the gambler is paying to get - the feeling of losing.
Not so? Then why do non-gamblers find gambling so wretchedly dull? What's the point in paying if you keep losing? Non-gamblers want to win money. Gambling addicts want to feel loss.
We had a family reunion down in Tupelo, MS at one of the casinos "on the river." (They've dug big moats that connect to the river and the gambling portion of the building has to be on floats - so it's "on the river." Desperate and ridiculous.) I had never been to a casino before so I gave myself a gambling budget before I went, lest I been drawn into the den of iniquity and be captured by the addiction to gambling. $20. No point in tempting fate, you know.
In any case, I started at the nickel slots, I thought I'd learn to work the machine and see what games were available. $5 in and LOTS of noise and not even a nickel won in return. I think I moved up to some other things besides slots, some kind of group machine where you pick something and a wheel is spun - nothing. I watched some card games, which was much too social for me since I had no clue what the etiquette was or how to play. I searched all over and all I could find was people losing their money. I lost all of my $20, not even five lousy cents won to keep me going!
Looking back now, I can see there is a bit of hypnosis going on at the slots. I get the same repetitive, can't stop feeling when I play Mahjong on the computer. I played it a lot when I was dealing with Maggie constantly, it was just something other than all the everything else. I'd hit the "next game" over and over before I could think about how long I'd been at it, even if it was late and I'd rather sleep. And once you start a game, you can't stop, right?
Michaelson is writing out of a Freudian model, so you have to make sure you are hearing the word "attachment" in the Freudian definition. The repetition cycle here comes out of the emotional mind, not the rational. We keep doing these things because they bring the comforting familiarity of our emotional childhood, we keep returning to what we've felt as a child, and we do what it takes to keep feeling those feelings. It's not rational, it's irrational. It's not linear thought, it's emotional, gut level thinking.
Michaelson does have a bit of comfort to offer in his model, and I think he may have it right to some extent. He says that if you are aware of what you are really seeking (control, rejection, shame, loss, etc.), then you can learn to observe what you are doing in your actions and thoughts to set yourself up for those gut level emotional results. His premise is that you will start to change as you gain insight, without having to mount a fight against your gut or your mind or your personal history. Just keep letting the light in.
Emotions are powerful things. To the extent that I have to give up the emotional patterns and payoffs that I've been clinging to, I've got to step out, experience, and be satisfied with emotional patterns that I've never known and am not emotionally convinced have sufficient payoff. Oh, I know they do intellectually, but I don't know it emotionally. Opinion versus experience, two entirely different kinds of knowing.
I've spent a lifetime not feeling, not being emotional, being rational and linear. I was praised for being responsible and reasonable, and that only, because manipulative people can talk you into nearly anything. It is the liar's refuge. Now I've got to start, I dunno, doing something with that whole emotional life system down in my gut. The first feeling I get is ewwww and panic, not unlike being told I've got to rout out the drain line in the bathroom and rewire the lights. Rational thinking is the design and decoration of my self-house, emotions are the guts that make it all work effectively and live pleasantly, like plumbing and electrical.
We're going down to the studs, kids, but the framework is sound. I'll talk about that later.
* hinky - apparently neither auto-correct nor online dictionaries are familiar with this word anymore. Hinky is without at doubt related to the old Scot's meaning of limp or hobble. We use it in the South all the time. It means to catch and fail, the way a gimpy leg fails only part of the time. If you were running a motor and it kept catching on something unpredictably, or if you had a chain on a bike that sometimes jumped the wheel, or if you were trying to work a line of thought but found it kept halting and going sideways into something else - your walk, the motor, the chain, or your mind would have gotten hinky on you. I can see where the term would be used to describe a drug user (hinked up), they definitely get hinky in their behavior or thinking.
Woke up this morning from a dream that makes no sense until you start explaining it in words:
I dreamt that they were making a documentary about my company and the group of people who do my job. By the time that part of the dream was finished, we were out in rural Henegar, AL on top of Sand Mountain at the four-way stop. They had traffic diverted while they filmed different scenes, by this time no cameras were pointed at me and they had only men doing my job. It wasn’t clear if they were actors, but they looked awfully tidy and handsome. (My company is a big international deal and they won’t have women on their free to the customers calendar anymore - women are offensive, apparently.)
I had been busy doing the actual job while the movie crew were busy staging the men doing it on film. They finished and it was time to go back to the office, and some younger woman who had been there to play a part offered to drive. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Until, instead of heading straight up the highway, she goes off the other direction saying all the roadblocks from the film have traffic backed up, it would take too long. I compromise and say, “Okay, but I know the back way to go and get back on the highway, we’ll turn and get back to the highway there. Right?”
Right. Not so much.
We get up to the turn and there’s this Big Country Church where we
are supposed to turn having a big crowd doing something, and she insists
on going in to speak to someone she knows about whatever. I follow her
in and it’s just one office after another, all full of different groups
of church people doing all their church activities: Mother’s day out,
choir practices and church plays rehearsing, different Sunday School
classes having socials and gathering for Bible studies, men’s meetings
getting groups together to go build houses for widows, child care
sections, just everything you could ever think of for an off-Sunday
activity. The offices and meeting rooms and auditoriums were an endless
maze, truly. That woman I was following kept getting ahead of me and I
kept following hallway after hallway, door after door, and Surely I’ve
got to catch up to her at some point!
So then, what does it all mean?
Two big time issues of my adult life are addressed here. Work and church.
Work - I do the job, I’m still doing the job, but I get no credit for it and the credit they do give comes out of corporate back to the corporate marketing message. The reality is messy and difficult, but the only people who garner the respect are good looking men who are pretending for the camera.
^This reality goes straight into Church and my walk thru the church.
Lots and lots of stuff going on in the church, lots of groups having their fun and virtue points addressed, but none of it is getting me to where I need to go. None of it is intended to get me where I need to go, its function is to keep me busy searching thru the church for that younger woman who took the wheel of my car trying to be nice and a know it all. She didn’t know the best way there, she was easily diverted and entangled in church niceness, and I’m being nice trying to catch her and get her back on the road home with me again.
Is there some law that says I have to bring her with me? It’s my car, why can’t I just drive off and let her go? She’s old enough to be responsible for herself and she’s in no danger.
(At this moment, I’m thinking of the “inner child” that therapy is trying to raise. Perhaps for an older person like me there is also the younger 18-40 year old self that has to be dealt with and let go. We are many selves and have many lives - our child self, our young adult life, and the middle age self that lives between who we are when we first craft our adult life and who we will be when our strength is fixed and we are just riding it out to the end.)
In any case, I’m meditating on all this on a Sunday morning as I want to hook up with a church again, and the one I found a couple weeks ago is very nice, but the pastor also threatened that the church has to have a “revival” or shut down. I don’t know what that means for that church or that pastor, but I’m not doing “revival or else” again. I’ve been down that path, I’ve been churned by emotional efforts from the pulpit all I can stand, and I have no interest in being fleeced. I don’t know if that church or just that pastor is having financial issues, I’m unconvinced that I owe a church organization 10% of my cash income (even though I do not regret the training and freedom of faith that comes from doing that,) or it’s possible that the pastor knows the membership has become calcified in their seats and needs stirring up.
My point is my season of letting someone else, even a pastor or saint of God, tell me which way to go is over. I may be slow, but I need to get where I’m going and I don’t owe any church organization the diversionary time of doing their activities, none of which are my activities.
My conclusion is that I’m not going to get into a mental or spiritual turmoil over it wondering what my inner motives are or how I’m not doing the right works in the church. Galations 5 says I was set free by Christ so that I can be free to follow God and His will by the Holy Spirit who dwells within me because of Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Paul is very specific and repetitive in that chapter that I should not get entangled again by religious law - do this, don’t touch that - but that I’ll find where I’m supposed to be and I’ll have the power to do what I’m supposed to do if I follow as the Holy Ghost leads.
Not my church friends’ advice.
Not my know-a-lot, rational, calculating “this is how getting from here to there is done, it says so in all the advice columns” mind.
Not what I’ve done before.
I want to go home and no one but Christ in me can get me there. The “home” I’m so incredibly hungry for is someplace I can see in my dreams and I feel it every Monday when I go back to work - because it’s not my job! I go to work and I actually, tangibly feel like I’m in someone else’s dream playing a part for them to look at. Where I should be is completely different and I’ll never get there unless the Holy Spirit blows into my sails and moves me over into that lane. I can’t row my little dory fast enough to ever get there, it will have to be a story of turns and doors and moments that moves me and everything else thru space and time to get me there.
I also know this home is for this life, it’s not heaven nor the world to come. They are glorious and real, but there is a reality and a glory that is only for this life, and it testifies of God in a way that can’t happen in any other season or time. I look forward to the day the saints go marching in, and I’ve seen myself in that cohort on That Day, but there’s also someplace here I should be and I’m not yet. Time is short, I need to be about the business of getting there. I’ve got to mind after my own house first.
(I don't mean house shopping, actually, but I had another dream a few months ago when I had that "this is my home" feeling - and I was in an old white Victorian farmhouse, with columns and a vintage kitchen. This photo is just for the feels.)
I started this several months ago, put it down, and now I’m back to it at the right time. It’s a new premise that I wouldn’t have been able to deal with at the beginning of my secular search. I read the first four chapters earlier, put it down, picked it up last night and had to back up half a chapter, now I think I’ll have to back up to the beginning again. It’s a real corker. I don’t know if he’s Jungian or Freudian, but he’s not the 12 Step user/model that a lot of what I’ve read in the past couple of years has been.
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I liked Linda Ronstadt in my teens. I had all her albums and listened, grieved, and sang all the harmonies again and again alone in my room. She says that she was just a girl singer, but she sure did specialise a lot in lost love and misery. I didn’t understand a tenth of what she was singing about, really, but that didn’t seem to affect how much I identified with it.
I recommend you buy everything she ever did before 1990.
You may or may not love it all, but you’ll learn how to hit a pitch dead on and sing a decent harmony, dammit. /young punks these days can’t sing for nuthin’….
I've got some particular recurring behaviors in my thinking that aren't just laziness, but act as dopamine producing dissociation, and if I am able to point them out to myself and recognize when I'm doing it, then it's an addiction. But, I like them. I really, really do. I enjoy relaxing into all my addictions and just swimming in them with all the relaxation and freedom some people save for time at the ocean. I can enjoy my addictions, one or two or three, or accept the miserable experience of fighting them. All of them. Addiction is a package. Sobriety or, eventually, nothing.
That mention of a wagon trail reminds me of this post which, upon reading again, is certainly on point, but not exhaustive. Edit 03/21/17 I'm walking backward thru this blog, tracking to find the obvious that I don't want to see again and again. I don't mind admitting I do the very things that I see others do wrong, I heard the rhema of that watching Jesus preach in the scriptures when I was a teen. It doesn't mean I don't HATE knowing it's true, and it doesn't mean it's true every single time, but it's surely there.
Of course, I still have to deal with the later paragraph: "The conclusion was that it would all end
the same anyway because she was who she was, and that's the thing that
needed to change. Not the events or the timeline, but the character of
the individuals involved, and that can't be done thru warning or
exhortation.* Only a willing humiliation combined with the redeeming
power of the Truth will change any of us." So then, Sister Prophet, it would seem that my own character or who I am needs changing. It isn't that I just need to know who I am, but who I am
needs rebuilding, maybe like an old car pulled out of the weeds in the
barn. What I was was fine back then, but time and circumstance have had
their say, and now my only hope is the work of a creative genius as well
as a great mechanic. It
looks like I'm going to have to undergo something like the focus of one
of those super rebuild car shows, you know, like where they disassemble
the thing into bits and make it into something new? I mean, if they
start with a '66 Impala, when they're done, it's still recognizable as a
'66 Impala, but... changed. Of a certainty not the same model that
rolled off the line, and not the same car that was pulled out of the
barn, but, yeah, still a '66 Impala, 'cause they are So Awesome.
learned to drive in a '66 Impala SS. I can still hear the steering
wheel click in the turn, feel the scalding heat of the bucket seat in
summer, see over that long, wide hood, rock with the sway of the
curves... I loved that car. I wanted that car. Dad gave it to my
brother, who walked away from it after it ran out of gas and we never
saw it again. What an asshole. But that's his life story, not mine.
Mine is about to get rebuilt. Never seen a '66 Impala? Here you go. Pretty, eh?
*(I bolded that phrase for people who think you can talk/reason someone else out of addictions or psychopathy. Nope. The Person who is The Truth is not "correct information earnestly transmitted." That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works.)
I was scrolling thru my iTunes a few minutes ago looking for something good I hadn't played in awhile, and who rolls by but Don Moen. As basic and uncontroversial as sliced bread, I noticed that this album is 20 years old this year. In 1997, he was on the leading edge of bringing casual praise choruses inside the church house walls on a Sunday morning, and I was hungry to get whatever strength and growth God and this new wave of worship could give me. His great gift isn't being smooth or inoffensive, it's being as doctrinally sound as Fanny Crosby, if not as complex and prolific. Good doctrine is about feeding the listener good, nutrient rich food for his soul - whether you're teaching psychology, philosophy, or religion. It's still a good album, I hope it doesn't get pulled off the web or how else can I share it with you?
Sharing music videos with friends can do some amazing things. Yesterday, there was a note that several years ago a friend of mine had posted this song, "If We Ever Needed The Lord Before" by the Breath of Life Quartet, which happens to be 40 years old this year. I was busy in the middle of my work day at the time, but I let it play on. Somehow, the sweet love and kindness of that little bit of worship just moved me up and out of the incomprehensible crazy the world has become - and I just stayed out. It wasn't nostalgia, it wasn't emotion, it wasn't exhaustion, it was the presence of God the Holy Spirit in me - and who I am joined with Him just isn't the same stuff this world is made of.
I just kept working, letting some other really old gospel quartets sing in my shirt pocket, and I began to miss being with God With Us, the corporate presence of God in His people, the Body of Christ, the church. I missed Him enough after only an hour to know I'll be back in a church house tomorrow, and I haven't attended church in about 6 or 7 years. [Because reasons, that's why. Mostly angry, disappointed, disgusted reasons.] By the time I finished my work day, I had unhitched myself from every line that tied me to the old wagons I've been pulling for years. I'm not anyone's pack mule anymore, not even my own.
I started the day in one life, opened the door thru music to rest in God's life for an hour or so, and ended my work day with the life I've been living for the last 50 years over with and put away like an old raggedy coat. I started the week wondering what Paul meant when he said, "It is for freedom that Christ set us free" Gal 5:1, and by the end of the week I'm a woman at peace, and not at all looking for expectations to fill or obligations to meet. Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. I'm going with that, and that alone.
The Don Moen album? Oh, silly me, this one - Let Your Glory Fall:
There is nothing more shameful than being arrested, convicted of capital crimes, all your possessions confiscated by the government, hated and despised by your own community, derided and ridiculed as you are led away, beaten and stripped naked and nailed to a tree along the side of the road to die, a common criminal, abandoned by friends and family alike, no mercy shown in heaven or earth.
I can join the DAR now. Not that I ever especially wanted to, but I might. Ancestry.com is full of information, much more now than several years ago when last I joined. I do so love it when someone else does all the genealogy research for me, I'm just not that motivated.* I've just this hour discovered my great-great-great-great-grandfather, a one Capt. John Floyd, "an active officer in the Revolutionary War."
That's very interesting, but what I've found to be much more interesting is how many mothers and fathers I really have. I don't just have the two, I've got 126 by the time I reach back as far as Capt. Floyd, and he's nearly living memory to me. What??? Oh, yeah. You see, family memories are tangible and transmitted a very, very long way.
My great great grandfather, of the great grandmother I actually knew, had a dreadful experience of losing two children to cholera in a season of floods and rains. The coffins of both had floated back up to the surface after the burials and he had had to go back in and weight the coffins from the inside and rebury his most beloved and dreadfully lost young adult children. It was a trauma that grieved him the rest of his life. Afterwards, he built a little house over their graves so they would be safe and protected in their rest ever after. That little house still stands and my father takes pains to see that it's not treated like a tool shed - and so will I.
That true sorrow and desire to protect what remains of two such promising young folk was passed to me thru the voices of my grandparents, who knew him and felt the loss of friends and relations that should have been theirs as well. My grandparents were born in the late 19th century and were no farther away from the Revolutionary War than I am from their youth now. As William Faulkner said, "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." Non-Southerners like to dismiss that fact as some idiosyncrasy of our rebellious history, but if you have any sense at all you will look around to discover the ground and framework of your life are all integral to a past you might have dismissed.
The good news is the past and soil you draw from today is much bigger than you had planned. At least 63 mothers and 63 fathers that I might be able to trace all had lives and strengths and legacies that are bequeathed to me, even though I might only discover a few. I'm not boxed in by the two or four or six that I've hugged and kissed goodnight, there are many more whose skills and capacities I carry - I just don't know it yet. Yes, I've got one mother who really irritated me, but I've got several more I found just today that raised big families, lived long lives, and were renown for their love and one more place at the table.
I plan to add the photographs of all the ancestors that I have and leave the access open to the public, for all my distant relatives to enjoy. I hope it inspires them to add their best and oldest photos, too. I don't know how to add such stories as I know, but I'm sure I've got some third+ cousins who could throw a few good ones in the mix to share. I'm still trying to adjust to having a Capt. John Floyd as an ancestor, but I'm wondering what his wife Nancy Ann was like as well. She lived to be nearly 100!
*With the exception of the Mormons - they load up all sorts of good information, then slap it all together with people who are obviously no relation and presumably baptize you into their church decades after your death. Fair warning: I come from a long line of foot washing Baptists, French Huguenot refugees, and brush arbor Methodists. We are washed in the blood, not your temple, and all slander against that blood will be answered in due time. Mind your own house.
and I've decided on this year's theme. Last year it was Strength [Resilience]. It took the whole year, but I believe I got what I was looking for. My leg took on some really good healing and I got my head under control so I could keep turning it back to what I wanted it to do. Sort of like this fellow:
Did you hear the trainer say something about "nose soft on the bridle"? That's about responsiveness and obedience, which in my case would be becoming responsive and obedient to myself, learning to turn back and face my issues - and neither bolt nor freeze as the terror overwhelms me.
This year's motto is MORE................wait a minute! I'm not telling YOU! Some things about myself are just for me, telling someone else just invites them in to mess it up, scrawl all their ideas all over it like graffiti and ruin the pleasure of it. But I've got it written down and I know where I'm going with it, perhaps we'll meet here next year and I'll tell you what it was and how it went.
....24 hours later....
Yeah, so, sitting at my home desk browsing the web is still as dangerous as ever. I wasted most of the day on ancestry.com, BUT, I did find some awesome things that I've been wondering about my whole life. You see, Maggie had a first marriage that seemed to color the rest of her life. It was brief, but it certainly had a huge effect on her life.
She always said she did it to please her mother, that her husband's family had money, and he treated her absolutely horribly. I found his obituary on a general online search, and that alone seemed to take the stories out of the realm of mythology into reality. (Let's call him "Mugs," eh?) There were quite a few names in the obit, so joining ancestry.com became reasonable, and that's where I found a photo of the evil Mother-In-Law. I can see Maggie's point.
I also found addresses for the family business, which 65 years later still exists, surrounded by a whole lot of nothing mostly populated by single mobile homes. A few more general web searches and google maps yielded what I believe was his family home. It was a very nice house for its day, still is, two stories, on the main highway - and yet it also seems to be surrounded with single wide trailers at distances that imply other family members.
Really, y'all? Oh, I know how rural communities work, if you only get a half acre out from the main house because you can't afford to live any better, then just move in a mobile home. There's a kid on the way already and you've got to them settled and everyone working...
Oh, bloody hell, let's just come out with it - they're really all trailer park trash and I can see why Maggie got the freaking hell out of there. Yes, he was truly emotionally and physically abusive and, yes, his mother was a self righteous bitch who made Maggie and Mugs live in an apartment over the garage. But the real issue was that she could stay there with a bunch of obnoxious, lying morons or do whatever it took to get out of there and find some other life. So, she bolted, baby on the way and all.
I think she did exactly the right thing, and the shame and pain of it colored the rest of her life. Colored, as in tainted her psyché with stains she could never wash out. She was always in some sort of reaction to elements the rest of us knew nothing about. All sorts of sayings and advice she would so often repeat make much more sense to me now. She wanted repayment from a new family who had done nothing to her, and since that got her no satisfaction, she abandoned them in search of causes and political philosophies that would wreak the havoc she couldn't acquire in person.
I get it now, Maggie, I get it. But I'm not you, no matter if my voice often sounds the same, no matter if we like the same kinds of music, no matter if I'm good at writing and you were good at writing, I'm still not you. So you take back the responsibility for your life and relationships and mistakes, and I'm only going to be responsible for myself and my life and my mistakes.
I don't have to save you, making you happy wasn't my job - that was your job.
I don't have to do life "better than you did" - this isn't a mutual experience, my life does not redeem yours. I've found out all the things about you that you thought you had hidden away for eternity, and none of them make you special, none of them make you powerful, they were just your chains - and I'm not going to carry them for you anymore.