Tuesday, March 16, 2010

the simple ability to be

preamble for readers:

my sister is attending one of the top two english speaking universities in the world. she is attending on a full salary and expenses scholarship (and her salary is about what i make in 3 years... and i'm doing OK). the list of recipients of this scholarship over it's history is a who's who of world notables ranging from people you've never heard of to Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Nobel nominees and laureates.

my sister is an overachiever of the highest order

i'm proud of her and her achievements

but she has issues with people and relationships and still trying to measure up to everything my parents demand.

she is a pleasant enough - if at times manically loud - person. she is highly professional, but interpersonally often awkward. she has not had a lot of successful relationships with men. she was married and divorced. her ex-husband is now dead from a medical condition.

FYI: she is the oldest of the three of us. i am the youngest

---- email from me to her (about 10 days ago) ----

> ...now be here at [university]


there is a whole whack of preamble that should be at the front of this comment - so i hope that the short version will suffice, and that you will be ok with a broad brush, and lack of nuance or soft-pedalling

please interpret no criticism and only positive intent


i believe that you are one of the most capable people i know

i hope that now that you have been a [scholarship scholar] and a peer with the best and the brightest in the world there at [famous university], that you will have achieved the elusive "good enough" that i believe was demanded of us, and that we always seemed to fail at (c.f. parents - early/ middle/current programming)

that as you live this lofty life, in this lofty surrounding, that you will come to a gut - because our brains lie to us and keep us dancing the jig [c.f. Shirley Temple] demanded of us to play out the role of parent aggrandising prop - a gut understanding that you are good enough

good enough for you

for yourself

and that the joy and satisfaction of being fully comfortable with self will be granted

that each of the three of us will find serenity


i was asked this weekend what i would like said about me at my funeral. the person asking said he would like to be remembered as a "good father, who loved and cared for his children"

i thought for awhile and said that i didn't want anything said at my funeral - that i would like to be the last one to go so that i could make sure that all who preceded me that i cared about would be cared and comforted

that i didn't actually want anyone to think anything about me

that my desire was (is) to, at my death, to have lived at least the preceding day (and hopefully many years) fully at peace with who i am with no nagging doubts about my "worthwhileness" as a human being


the simple ability to be

with nothing more desired



her response:

"No offense heard or taken. More later"


[she was leaving for an international trip of some duration two days later [that she is still away on] - so the short form reply is fine by me - she had no time to think through and craft a reply)

Monday, March 01, 2010

4 conclusions

[email to Smitten - same day as the last few - 2/22/2010 3:45 PM]


(she was working on a paper that was due the next day, but i NEEDED to write and share what i had realised, and NEEDED to send it right away too - to make it real to me)

as above

it is for discussion at a later point


the last email "Emotional trauma can have a negative impact on early development"

this piece is quite useful for me to understand what happened in my early childhood

it fits with my 4 conclusions of yesterday (and while i actually physically vomited while writing this email, i still feel good. i still feel alive)


1) what happened to me was stupefyingly unfair

- pretty self-evident...

2) the world does not work the way i was told it did (work hard, be good, don't fight, do unto others... and everything will be fine - the world will be your oyster)

and the effects of the world not working the way i was told it did?

"small children have no way of assessing whether or not they need to be scared, nor how scared they need to be. Kids look to a caring adult to woo them back to a sense of calm and equilibrium when they get scared. They depend on what scientists call "an external modulator", namely the parent, to restore their sense of inner calm because they lack the developmental maturation to calm themselves or to understand the source of their fear."

"The meaning the child made out of painful events. Children are "magical
thinkers" their reasoning is immature and not always grounded in reality. It is based on their developmental level. They need the adults around them to help them make sense and meaning of painful circumstances. Without this, they come up with their own meaning based on their level of development at the time the problem occurred."


- but what if the adults and family members and peer group tell them the reason their world is fucking up is because the small child is a fuck up (as opposed to being a 3 year old... [who are intrinsically fuck-ups from an adult perspective...]) and lacks discipline and focus or lacks ability (see further sibling and peer group taunts, e.g. "are you ever stupid...")?


"Our bodies don't really distinguish between physical danger and emotional stress.

The natural fear response associated with our fight/flight apparatus will cause the body to react to physical or emotional "crisis", by pumping out sufficient quantities of what are known as "stress" chemicals, like adrenaline, to get our hearts pumping, muscles tightening and breath shortening, in preparation for a fast exit, or a fight.

But for those where the family itself has become the proverbial "saber toothed tiger", for whom escape is not really the issue, these chemicals boil up inside and can cause physical and emotional problems.

And family members may find themselves in a confusing and painful bind, ie.,wanting to flee from or attack, those very people who represent home and hearth.If this highly stressful relational environment persists over time, it can produce what is called cumulative trauma."


3) the people who were the interpretive source for me (family, church, [political party], and peer group [school]) did not act the way they told me acted - goodness, honesty, justice, caring, caring about others

- so when words do not match actions, but i relied on the others to be my interpretive lens - when i didn't listen to my gut - something had to give....

"Distorted Reasoning: When our family unit is spinning out of control, we will tell ourselves whatever is necessary to allow ourselves to stay connected. This kind of reasoning can be immature and distorted. It can also produce core beliefs about life and relationships upon which we build more distorted reasoning and that we live out throughout our lives."


4) because my perceptions didn't match what i had been told, i lived in a world that was essentially made up - a fantasy world where the philosophical structures that made up the world i was fed (in my child's gullibility) i spent my time in that made up world where the construct worked, even if it didn't match reality. so i detached further and further from reality and lived more and more in many fantasy worlds - one of which i declared the real world - even though it too was a construct - the world where people matched their bullshit professions of ethical and moral standards


"Over time, we lose the ability to tolerate intense emotion so that we can think about what we.re experiencing on a feeling level. At the most extreme level thought and emotion become disengaged. When this happens, our thinking selves and our feeling selves become out of balance, split off from each other. This undermines our ability to use our thinking to understand what we.re experiencing on a feeling and sensory level. At the most basic level, we lose touch with ourselves."


i actually believed people's words. i listened to their words, not their actions - and words are only what? 7% of communications. i look at peoples' mouths when they talk - not their eyes, and not their bodies, and not their actions...

"Development of Rigid Psychological Defenses: People who are consistently being wounded emotionally and are not able to address it openly and honestly may develop rigid psychological defenses to manage their fear and pain. Dissociation, denial, splitting, repression, minimization, intellectualization, projection are some examples."


the rest - it is well described under the section of that email headed:

"Following is a list of some of the traits or characteristics someone who has grown up with addiction and trauma may exhibit."