Thursday, January 12, 2012

I kept myself company while watching a movie.

I'm thinking about escapism and loneliness.  I'm thinking about destiny and choice.  I'm watching a terrible movie so how could I think about anything less lofty?  King Arthur is the choice of the morning.    I'm watching movies about people who lived long ago and I'm wondering... what did they do with their time?  How did they while away the hours until death?  Did they really work all. the. time?  No, they couldn't.  No one can.  But I look at the meaningless gestures in movies (dude smashing a pot just out of frustration) and I think, "Holy shit.  Someone would have to remake that by hand."  I think of the things I have to repair when I break it in frustration.  It's different.

I live in a small, constrained world.  I don't have anywhere in my life I can go pick a fight with impunity.  I don't have anything that wants my aggression.  I am supposed to be pleasant or at least neutral basically all of the time.  The running is one of the better coping mechanisms anyone can come up with and I'm doing what I can at this point.  I'm working on it as fast as I can and be good to my body.  Really.  Probably faster, in fact.  I am impatient.  I really should be stretching more.

Neutral or pleasant requires a lot of concentration and thinking about my demeanor.  It mandates a lot of silence on my part when I cannot be certain what my tone will be.  That's a lot of concentration.  I think about how much freedom there would be in a place where sudden outbursts of violence were tolerated more because everyones life sucked.  Life was simply brutal.  You had to just expect that one or more of your children would die.  You were lucky if all of your children lived to adulthood.  It meant you were special.  God must have favored you.

Now we think that if your child gets a scraped knee it is because you weren't working hard enough to protect them at every moment of the day.  And we must also ensure that they are entertained in a suitably educational environment for as many days a week as possible.  And activities!  It is no longer enough that you keep them from starving and keep them warm and clothed.  Now you must also provide for their entertainment and benefit constantly.  I think we make parenting a lot harder than it has to be.

I think of how very little survival is entailed in my life.  Is that why I feel free to create my own torment?  Is that why I start cycles of self-harm?  I believe that I should be hurt, that I deserve to be hurt.  And then I look around at pop culture for escapism from my non-hurts and see these glossy pictures of the only exciting two hours and twenty minutes that happened over a span of decades.  Seriously?  Wow.  Ok.  That's a lot of shitty time to just gloss over as if it isn't part of life.  I think that is the part that is missing in the cycle right now.  No one wants to put their head down and do the hard, shitty, brutal parts of life.  Brutal is so relative, you know?

I have been physically safe for the vast majority of my life if you judge by minutes of danger.  That is not true of most people throughout history.  If you look back, not that far, people had a lot more danger in every minute of their life.  Not too long ago you had to worry about a measles epidemic meaning you lost one or more of your kids.  We have gone so far in the other direction that people believe the benefits of survivorship outweigh the costs.  That we have somehow lost something by not culling the herd in that way.

If it was not my responsibility to live as long as possible, how would my actions be different?  If I were more likely to possibly die of starvation?  If I had real fear of disease?  I really and truly laugh at increased cancer risk warnings sometimes.  Because we have to die of something.  I have a pretty lame life if my only risk is increased cancer risk because I am carefully meting out my self-harm in ways that won't really shorten my life but will make my time here less pleasant.

Anyway.  Kids like me used to be able to get in a lot of fist fights.  By the time you were an adult you had either gotten your shit together or you ended up in relationships where you hit and were hit often.  Honestly if I hadn't been told and told and told and told that I deserve better I would be able to live that comfortably forever.  It would feel right.  I'm trying to figure out what I can do with the desire to be put in my place.

I feel like I don't want to be the boss because the only boss I know how to be is an abusive one.  I can't mete out tasks.  I can't be in charge of that.  But Noah and I went round and round until I finally got to the point where I was keeping the house as "clean" as he thought that meant.  It was a process.  I am not good at turning around and dictating to other people how much work that means because apparently I do a lot more work than other people are inclined to do in a given period of time.  I can't give someone the incentive of $30 an hour to work as hard as I work on my house.  That's an experiment I can't afford to repeat.

Having children in the house all day means destruction and food spills all day.  One right after another.  Going out is a different set of stressors.  It's all a balance.  I don't have time to think right now.  There are too many things I need to actually focus on.  I need to start learning Quickbooks.  Looks like that is going to work out after all.  I don't know how I am going to make it work.  I'll find a way.  And maybe if I have more to get done I will discover that I have less time to sit and think about how wretched my life was a long time ago.  That's the essence of "getting over" PTSD, right?  You have to get on with your life and stop being distracted by things that are no longer happening.

It's interesting how we seek to recreate cycles over and over again.  We want to do the things we are comfortable with.  That's kind of the definition of insanity, yo.  What does it mean to do something different?  What should I be doing with my mind instead?  That's what actual "coping" means.  It means successfully using up all of your time on thinking about other things.  It means finding a way to while away the hours until death doing things that bring you joy instead of things that irritate you.  That means you have to look at the things you are doing pretty carefully.

So far my method of parenting seems to be training them by modeling behavior.  I limit my world to things that can include them.  The more of the outside world I have to deal with and the more adult thinking I have to do the harder this is for me.  The shift is not automatic.  And I have to know my chores are done or I can't relax.  I just can't.  I recognize that not everyone agrees with my fanaticism.  I try to keep my chores to such that I can do them in two or three hours in the morning and be done for the day.  It seems like a reasonable amount of time.

I think I hide in the garage for three hours a day because I think that Noah needs to have individual time with his kids every day where he is also responsible for life stuff because they have to work out how to be around each other and this is the only time they can.  I just wish it left more hours for us to all be together.  If I go in there then it ends up being "kids are distracted at all times so they never have to entertain themselves".  No thanks!  I am alone with my children for a very large number of hours a week.  They need to have steady time with people other than me.  It's important for them to not grow up thinking I am the sole model of adulthood.

But I need to think a lot harder about how I am doing this and how much work I can handle doing in an ongoing way.  I think it will be ok.  I'll find a way.  And I have to do it in a way that allows me to feel like I am enjoying my life.  What can I do that will help me enjoy my life more?  And it has to be pretty nearly free.  Excellent.  On one hand I feel like the answer is, "I have a whole library here of books I haven't read.  I should read them."  There are reasons I haven't read the books I haven't read.

Maybe I need to sit in one place and learn to think about things that are not my favorite.  Maybe I need to learn about a few more things.  I'll have more time later.  The kids won't need me so much later.  I'm not going to be in a place where my life is genuinely hard, maybe ever again.  I feel like such a whiner.  Isn't that what mental illness is about?  Being upset by reality is kind of silly.  Perceived risk is such a strange thing to be afraid of.

I am not ever required to do something that is too hard for me again.  I can say stop.  It's hard to adjust to and I feel ungrateful.  And I suppose that is my freeform response to watching this silly movie.

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