Wednesday, July 18, 2012

relationship blathering


One of the best things about writing alone in a room is I don’t have to care about “over sharing”. If people want to stop reading they can and it’s really not my problem. Yay! Ok, that is as much of a warning as you are going to get.

I’m sick. I have a low grade fever; I’m coughing; I have post-nasal drip; I have diarrhea; my throat hurts. Yesterday I went running anyway. When I got home blacksheep told me that I don’t have to run when I am sick. This was exactly what I needed to hear. I have a weird attitude towards advice. Long-time readers are hesitant to suggest anything to me because for many years I responded with immediate vicious hostility to any sign of advice. Mostly because people who didn't know me that well were going off half-cocked. The advice wasn't always relevant and I'm not a very nice person about handling that. I understand that is basically a character failing on my part. Such is life.

I am extremely careful in my head about hierarchies. I assign people authority and stature in my head and don't tell them. If you tell the bastards they get a big head and want to take the increased amount of influence for a spin. Bad plan. But I have little weights and measures in my head that tell me about the person who is talking. It carefully decides how much I should give a shit about what they are saying.

I have been told for a long time that I'm a counter phobic six. (Enneagram shit.) I hear they are very hierarchical. Like, for example, I have a hard time arguing in my head with what blacksheep tells me about exercise. I try hard to understand that she doesn't know everything about my experiences and I have to give her a lot of information before her advice is perfect. But it is very rare at this point for me to think "She's wrong." I think, "Ennnnhhhh I think she doesn't know what I'm dealing with." I can understand that her advice is right for 95% of people. Today it doesn't apply to me (or whatever). 

I have a lot of authorities in my head. I don't tell people I am putting them on pedestals. You can't tell people that. 

So a friend was criticizing another friend. She said, "She lets the internet think for her." I asked for clarification. The other person asks for advice online and then follows it. A fair bit. I could feel the blush creeping up my neck.

I don't go to the hospital for illness until I have checked with the internet and enough people tell me it is a good idea. I have a basic belief that I am not capable of evaluating my own health state. It's not a good belief. So I let people on the internet (let's not fucking kid ourselves I'm not saying these people know me well or have seen my illness state) listen to my list of symptoms and then decide if it is serious or not. I think the internet has a 50/50 rate of getting me to the doctor for major illnesses (bacterial infection, strep throat, mono) and times I'm told "It's the flu. Go home and rest." I'll still listen to the internet because otherwise I wouldn't care about myself enough to end my suffering when I am seriously ill. The misfires are probably worth it but I can't bring myself to make the call alone. I just can't.

Someone else has to think that my suffering is bad enough and has gone on long enough and that person has to tell me to stop the madness. Without that loop I sit here and cry and feel bad and just deal with it. The human condition involves a lot of pain. Don't be a god damn whiner. Oh but I am a whiner. A big one.

This is something I talked to my therapist a lot about. I am very careful who I let be an influence on me. I'm well aware that the vast majority of people are poison for me. They will tell me that I am bad or wrong for things I can't change. I am who I am. I don't need more shame. I really don't. I don't hurt anyone. I've had a lot of life experiences that permanently taint me, that's fine. I don't hurt anyone (who hasn't asked very nicely). Not even that, now. I will never hurt anyone again. I feel like I have been defanged. I will never again enjoy sadistic pleasure. It's against the rules.

It's really weird knowing that on one hand I am absolutely depraved and sick and blah blah blah and on the other hand I'm this really quiet, mellow little suburban mom. Whose advice is relevant to me? How do I pick people to give me advice on different topics?

The older I get and the longer I stay in one place the more I can judge people based on what they do rather than what they say. That has certainly changed the hierarchy of my internal advice pedestal. I pick very carefully who is behaving in ways I want to emulate. I am a copier. That's what I do. I pattern myself off of people I respect. I do it in ways the people themselves often don't recognize that way--but I'm just special that way. 

I care about who can show up and get the hard shit done, year after year. Who goes through strife and then recovers and moves on? Who has actual coping skills? What are they? How do they work? How did they develop their expertise in a topic? Why should I respect them?

I'm really harsh in my evaluations. If you ever want to know how I evaluate you go ahead and ask. I'll tell you. I don't see any point in hiding it or sugar coating it. I'll tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about what I see. Only there is this little manipulation hiding in that--the people I have a problem with probably aren't reading my journal. Ha. 

Many of the women I know view their endurance in a shameful light. They do not take pride in their ability to endure. They are in a crappy relationship and they don't leave so they view that as a sign of their generic weakness. Life is really complicated. Sometimes those crappy relationships are the bedrock of a whole town. If you take away that one relationship it seems like everything else will crumble. You will have to go build a new town. That's hard. If you haven't done a lot of big life transitions such a change is terrifying. Noah had better not turn into a shitty husband in ten or fifteen years because I will probably be too chicken to leave him at that point. I will have invested too much of myself in him. I don't want to leave the parts of me I gave him. I get it.

Up to now leaving has been so easy. I couldn't understand why people stayed. For me the devil you don't know is pretty much always safer than the devil you know so jump ship often. You'll end up in this magical tidal surge that will take you to the right deserted island in the Bahamas. It'll work out.

I am so harsh in defending myself that I don't think people understand that I think they are better than me. I'm defending my pitiful right to be less than you. I tell myself often that people disliking me is not a reason to die. Their opinion is not important enough. It's hard to believe that my right to exist trumps other peoples right to not be bothered by disgusting people like me. These days it seems to me that I only have the ghost of disgusting behavior lying around the house and I should still be sacrificed. It's for the good of the whole. People who are bad or unruly should be culled for the sake of the herd. One bad apple can spoil a bunch.

I sit here in isolation and think about the threads in my life. The people who touch me at least occasionally. I think about why I know them. I consciously decide over and over if I want to keep knowing them or if I want to just stop making the effort. Not very many people make a lot of effort to keep in contact with me. That's part of what makes you so unique, D. You have called me every few months for more than ten years no matter where you were in the world. I feel so very special. You want to know what is happening in my life. Even though you drive me nuts sometimes and I can barely understand you because you talk so fast I feel like my life would be empty and sad without you. I wouldn't have this mirror floating around in the world carrying a positive image of me. Btw- get off the internet and go finish your damn paper.

A lot of people have come and gone in my life. I have to consciously try to not have attachment to people staying. That is how I can end relationships. I know that if I stop trying the other person won't put effort into it until they want something from me. Sometimes it is years before they look up and around and realize I'm not nearby any more. It is interesting when people still have attachment to me and I have psychologically let them go. 

There is a concept called the Monkey Sphere (maybe I'll add a link when internet comes back on. If I forget you can google it yourself). Basically this theory is that you can only have intimate relationships with 'x' number of people and you can only have more distant friend relationships with 'y' people and you can only know so many 'z' people casually out in the community. As you get higher in the alphabet the numbers generally get higher. People become less of an individual investment. 

I consciously think about the inner circle very hard. Who can I allow to be an actual influence on me? It's a very loaded self-conversation. I think about how much I have hurt people and how much they put up with. I think about how much they have hurt me and how much I can put up with. I think about whether or not this person behaves in a way that will make me safe. Someone can't be in the inner circle if they will hurt me. I mean, a little bit of occasional hurt is different. Noah isn't perfect. Neither are my kids. I do have to keep score and be honest about it in my head. If someone develops a long-term pattern of hurting me I can't ignore that. It would be stupid. It would be self-harming. It would be deciding that this other person is simply more important than my continued safety and health. Err, not a good decision. 

People can be part of my distant community and do things that hurt me. That happens. It's life. You ignore it and move on. That person doesn't have a lot of influence. The hurt is small and contained. 

The inner circle just has too much access. Too much influence. When I notice a bleed out starting I'm better off severing the limb. I have no other options for keeping myself safe. That's how it feels.

It's hard for me to decide I am a good person given how callous and self-centered I am. But then I look around the rest of the world and I notice that I'm really not so bad in the scale of things. It is hard for me to be able to feel good about myself while people in the inner circle disapprove of me. Often I decide that it is easier to cut them out of the circle than try to reconcile the situation. I don't need people who are going to tell me I am bad. What are they basing it on? How much time have they spent with me in person watching my actual behavior? How the fuck do they know?! Because they interpret things from my journal where I focus the vast majority of my writing energy on things I think that are negative and I don't write about my behavior all that much. Right. Yeah. Don't need that.

I'm well aware that even my bad days are significantly better than most of the good days I had growing up. I'm doing well at this point in my life. I really am. My behavior is pretty good. Sure I talk about conversational topics that make other people uncomfortable, but that's not a big sin as things go. I'm not hurting anyone.

I'm not allowing people to pretend that people like me don't exist. Even though they want to. Even though people would really prefer I shut up and follow the herd. Watch tv. Talk about movies. That's what I should talk about. Hell, even if I wanted to get back into the academia shit and talk about books that would be ok as long as I only read authors that are approved parts of the Canon. Right?

I'm not like other people. I don't know why. I don't understand all of the differences. But I feel a deep hostility towards people who want me to be more like them. It's kind of funny. I pattern off of people all the time but I pick specific small parts of their behavior. I am not interested in having someone else's life. I want my life. I may think that someone is better at _____ than me but I can also hand you a long list of ways the person does ______, ____, and ________ worse than me. I'm alright(sic), Jack.

I really like my relationship with Shanna. I'm allowed to be direct with her in ways I'm not allowed to be with anyone else (until Calli can talk more). Why did I want to be a parent? Because I believe that I have a view of the world that does not deserve to be eradicated. Because in the core of my self-serving soul I believe that who and what I am deserves to continue on after I die. 

In cutting off my family I am actually showing the things my mom did right. My mother taught me to be strong. My mother taught me that not a god damn person in the world was going to make sure I was safe except for me. That has been an incredibly useful lesson. Is it possible to teach that lesson without damaging someone? I don't know. I want to find out. In no other relationship in my life do I get to set terms from the beginning. It's a compromise. I get to just exist in front of my kids and they can't tell me to change. It's... startling.

I could abuse the fuck out of them and teach them that the world is hurtful and violent. But I don't. I teach them how to notice other people. I teach them how to be considerate and polite. I teach them how to ask for things in a way that will make it more likely they will get it. I'm trying to teach the difference between persistance and pestering. 

I can go out and interact with the world and seem totally appropriate. I can keep things hidden and just be sunny and delightful and friendly. People don't know a fucking thing is going on with me. They weren't able to see the scars I hid. I am a fucking good liar.

I want my kids to have the choice about how people perceive them. I want them to have my versatility without the underlying damage. I'm not sure if it is possible. I don't want to control what their variations look like, precisely. And I am very well aware that I only get about ten years of setting the terms. Then I have to start handing over control at a quicker and quicker rate. That's how they become independent. 

I don't beat my kids because I don't believe in my heart of hearts that what I am asking of them is always reasonable and appropriate. I know that I ask for things they can't do. It would not be ok for me to beat them for their lack of development. I think that happens more than people want to admit. It truly is my responsibility to put a lock on the side gate so my kids can't sneak out and play in the front yard unsupervised. Beating them for disobeying won't help. They will still want to sneak out. They will just try harder to hide it from me. I don't want them hiding it from me. I want to control the environment and make it safe for where they are now and gradually pull back. 

Calli can't even speak yet. There is no way she should be in the front without adult supervision. A lot of Shanna's limits are group imposed and we talk about that. I can't consider individual safety yet because they aren't ready to do much separate yet. Shanna gets to run five houses down to see her friend. That is the limit of her independent solo movement. She is resentful. I repeat, "I get to make these decisions until you are older. Then I don't get to control you. Sorry, kid."

Even though yesterday morning started off rough emotionally I had a good day. I sat on the couch and read. I don't feel good. Shanna went to her friend's house and Calli napped on me. It was restful and silent. Oh that was nice. Even when they were both home they seemed to trade off who wanted to interact with me so the day was paced well.

If I think hard about the words I used and my tone it was a pretty good day. My only nasty carping was at Noah about the topic of leftovers. I'm really grateful that he puts up with me. (The kids won't eat leftovers for lunch and Noah gets food at work. I end up eating the same damn thing over and over and sometimes it makes me cry.) Batch cooking just isn't for me.

Abrupt topic shift (like you aren't used to that by now): Sometimes I think it is weird that the sex I have now isn't much like the sex I trained for. When I was nineteen a sanctimonious bitch told me that no one under twenty-five should be in the bdsm community. People should go explore vanilla sex till their thirties and then start on rougher sex. I was, understandably, unimpressed with her. When I was nineteen I had been having PIV sex for seven years by choice and I had countless oral sex partners. Telling me that I wasn't ready and I should have more sex was hilarious. Now that I am thirty I am slightly less annoyed with her and I can basically understand why she believes that. I still think she was a sanctimonious bitch and I am still unimpressed by her.

And now the kids are in here.

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