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Thursday, 18 March 2004

Not Reading Freud

I'm supposed to be readin Freud right now, but I'm not doing it. I swear I will do it . . . later. I have to give a report on Monday, so yeah, I'll do it later. Anytime now. Right after I post to my blog and eat lunch and....

And what about ameliorating the crushing pain of existence? Life is inherently tumultuous. Bad things happen. All the freaking time. But good things happen too. You've got your joy of existance and your wonder of existence and your beauty of existence. Would it make a difference if we talked about things that adulterated to joy of existence rather than talking about things that ease the crushing pain of existence? How would our worldview suddenly shift? I mean, you can't avoid pain unless there's something wrong with you. Maybe you can't avoid joy either. Maybe there's more than one state of existence. Maybe the states of existence are not in binary opposition to each other. Maybe pain is a way of teaching us things and so adds to joy. Maybe joy is a way to create contrast and so adds to pain. Are you a pessimist or an optomist? Maybe this is all so knotted up and gordian you can never untangle it. Maybe any way you look at it is simultaneously a useful tool for understanding things and a distortion. What good are words anyway? Where would be without words? What if everything is in everything else? What if all distinctions and all ontology are just tricks we use to survive and find food?

I'm going to describe my current state as ungrounded. I don't know where the gound is. I don't know which way is up. I don't know if talking about "up" has meaning except in relation to gravity. It's not a useful direction to give in a space station. My words here are bordering on cliche. Ungrounded. Sleep-deprived. Experiencing beauty and wonder.


My highschool religion teacher in my junior year told us that we needed to always forgive but "don't be a doormat." I had the kind of disrespect for her that only a highschool student could have. What could this possibly mean aside from being a cliche or a half-hearted forgiveness?

Sharon Olds (I think) writes a lot of poetry about her father, who was abusive. In one of her poems, she talks about thinking of her father as a young boy, before he was abused and when he was joyful and not yet broken and transformed into a monster. She thought of him then and loved him then. Because holding hate in your heart is too heavy? Because everyone, even people who hurt you, deserves love or maybe it's easier to love than to hate? I don't have answers. I only have questions.

You've done bad things. I've done bad things. Maybe you don't know why you did bad things. Maybe you've thought about it and found an explination or a reason, something so you can say that you were doing your best and forgive yourself. I shouldn't have called her an asshat, but I was really angry. I had a terrible day. My cat died that morning. Or something. I was fucked up. It was a fucked up time in my life. Or something.

Everyone has extenuating circumstances. Everyone has reasons. Everyone thought that what they were doing was the best thing to do or was under some sort of compulsion or was hurt or was damaged. You can empathize with yourself. Man, I yelled all the time when my mom was dying and that was extremely stressful for the people around me, but my mom was dying and I had no tools for dealing with it. I can empathize and forgive myself. Does this sound easy? It's not. Forgiving myself is harder than forgiving anyone else. This is how I've been doing it: Look at what I did that was wrong. Look at what I should have done different. Try to understand why I did wrong things. Empathize with myself. Try to avoid thinking errors like overgeneralization, labelling, emotional reasoning, all-or-nothingism, etc. Find places where I did things right, if I can. Keep in mind correct deeds in addition to misdeeds. Take deep breaths. Cry. Eat a lot of Halvah (or equivalent) (Ancient proverb: Halvah ameliorates the crushing pain of existence). Feel rage. Try to get rage to subside. Not a quick thing. this why I've done no homework. I tried to forgive other people. I put blame on myself for my part in causing disaster. I tried to forgive myself. Now I'm back to other people. I don't think there's a set algorythm for how to do this. I feel like to forgive other people, I need to keep love in mind. to forgive myself is the same deal, I think. "poor me. look at the mess i was in. i did my best." It sounds like ways I was trained not to think. I'm not supposed to feel sorry for myself. I'm supposed to have charecter, whatever that is. Freud says that people get hysteria because they supress emotions and reactions to things . . . and too much daydreaming.

Teaching myself new ways to think. Freud says (ok, I did some of my Freud reading afterall) that incorrect (or let's say instead "not useful") thought patterns can wear deep ruts really quickly. When you train yourself to think in a new way, you are literally forming new connections between neurons and neglecting strong, well-connected pathways. This is not an easy thing to do. It's why seeing those 3-D magic eye pictures is so difficult for the first time. You really, actually, need to rewire your brain. So I'm rewiring my brain, which is why it's not surprising that I couldn't concentrate on anything.

So what about forgiving other people? Empathy! Empathy! Empathy! What could have caused this person to behave in this way? What is good about this person? What can I love about this person? And then eat a lot of halvah. And then forgive, but don't be a doormat. Forgiving someone in your heart can be something you do entirely for your own self interest to lighten your load and to move on. Forgiving someone in your heart does not mean that your relationship with the forgiven reverts to the pre-hurt state. If I forgive myself for over-using rage as coping tool, I'm cartainly not going to do that again, if I can help it. so what about relationships with other people? Should I renew them? Change them? Break them off?

How likely is this to happen again? What steps have been taken by me or this person to prevent it? Have I removed some stressor? Has s/he learned some new coping strategy? Was this hurt in repsonce to a once-in-a-lifetime ordeal, or could something like this happen again? How can I communicate my expectations to the other person? Would it make a difference? How do I evaluate whether or not it has made a difference? Cluelessness is indistinguishable from malitiousness in certain instances, so says Dilbert. Was s/he clueless or malicious or can I tell? Can I clue this person in? How much maliciousness should I absorb before I seperate myself from this person? How much time to I allow? What do I do during this time? When do I stop trying? How do I love someone after I quit trying?

I've got none of those answers. but they seem like the right questions. Maybe the other person is asking the same questions too. what do I do if s/he gets different answers that I do? what if one of wants change and the other doesn't? What if one of us wants to break it off?

what is the nature of commitment and expectation? Does it change how much I have to try to change or renew rather than end? I think this is the definition of commitment: I will change and renew as much as I can. I will try to find compromise. I will do whatever I can within my boundaries. (my god, where do the boundaries go?) I think commitment means not giving up until you've exhuasted all your options. Of course, there are different levels of commitment. You can't make anyone else do anything. Just because an expectation seems reasonable to you, doesn't mean you won't be disappointed.

More later

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