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October 2017

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Defective Coping Strategies

I think not doing things, that I know I should do, makes me feel better, than doing them. This is counter-intuitive and counter-productive. But it's like how being late for appointments make me feel better than being on time. Once things have been neglected I have proved that I can exert my will and I can relax and actually do what needs to be done. If I do what I'm supposed to do when I'm supposed to do it, then I'm somehow not a free person. It diminishes me to conform to anyone's expectations, even my own. I think that has to do with the conflict between my conscious and my unconscious. My conscious is the part that says "These things have to be done" and my unconscious says "You're not the boss of me! Phbbt!" And lies around the house avoiding doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing until things reach a crisis. Dr L seemed slightly amused when I admitted my rebellious streak. But I've always known I was Miss Obstinate.
"There was a little girl who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good she was very very good
and when she was bad she was horrid."


My therapist got me thinking about why I don't feel good about taking care of myself. He asked if I don't believe I deserve to be taken care of. I certainly do believe I should be taken care of. That is the problem. If I take care of myself that means that no one else cares enough about me to take care of me. If someone else takes care of me that means someone else cares about me. I think he would prompt me to care about myself. I do care about myself. And for myself pretty much. But I don't need proof from myself that I care about me. I need proof from other people that they care about me.

Last Yule I got three memoirs by women who suffer from depression. Jenny Lawson, Allie Brosh, and Alison Bechdel. I learned a little bit from the first two about how my depression and anxiety are different from theirs. I just started reading Alison Bechdel's "Are You My Mother?" and she is a lot more psychoanalytical than the others. She talks about a lot of Freudian and Jungian theory. I can see that my mother never needed me to take care of her the way Bechdel's mother did. But I can also see that I really needed more care than I got from my family. I try not to blame them since I don't think that blame is productive. My family was practically idyllic compared to quite a lot of other people's. I was not abused or physically neglected. But still I was a very lonely child. I'm really identifying with what Bechdel is saying about living in her own head. How the child's mind becomes her own mother. And, while no one in my family needed me to mother them, many people since then have mentioned how motherly I am. My whole relationship with Joel was me reveling in taking care of him. I learned to mother others by mothering myself. Which she mentions leads to a pathology of never being satisfied with relationships because I treat others the way I want them to treat me. Which doesn't end up working.

But it is problematic. The goal of therapy is for the patient to be self-sufficient. But to me being self-sufficient means that no one loves me. I don't want to be self-sufficient I want to be interdependent. I want to be deeply connected to a web of community. But for some reason that is exactly the kind of relationship I can't seem to form. It might be because I just don't trust anyone to really care for me. I have a very deep fear of abandonment. And my experiences with abandonment and betrayal by people and communities I trusted has not helped matters.

I have a lot to talk to my therapist about tomorrow.

EDIT: I've been listening to Invisbilia and almost every episode has made me cry.
Episode Iggy + Children Of The Dirt was about the power of categories. The part of the story about the Children of the Dirt was supposed to make single people feel good by putting us all in a category so we wouldn't be alone. They said: "for the rest of us, who find its last two lines like a kind of worry stone..." and then they played those two lines "Because there's nobody for them, not anybody in the world." four times. I didn't find it "Totally inert, but deeply soothing." I found it excruciatingly painful. I actually screamed. The idea that there is nobody for me, not anybody in the world is unbearably painful. I prefer not to think about it.

The only thing I would change about the story is that he should have called us Children of the Stars. Dirt is just another word for Earth, and that is already taken. The Stars are what come after the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon. And it is fitting that the children of the stars should many and singular from the beginning.

Aristophanes's Speech from Plato's Symposium
In the first place, let me treat of the nature of man and what has happened to it. The original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, of which the name survives but nothing else. Once it was a distinct kind, with a bodily shape and a name of its own, constituted by the union of the male and the female: but now only the word 'androgynous' is preserved, and that as a term of reproach.

In the second place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and he had four hands and the same number of feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run fast.

Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and moved round and round because they resembled their parents. Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and Ephialtes who, as Homer says, attempted to scale heaven, and would have laid hands upon the gods.
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Here's a thing which I've worked through in myself which may or may not apply to you. If it does, maybe talking about it with your therapist will help.

You said this: The goal of therapy is for the patient to be self-sufficient. But to me being self-sufficient means that no one loves me.

I believe that I am pretty much self-sufficient. I do love and need people, but for the most part, I pretty much do my own thing...so if you need a picture of what that looks like, you may be able to use me, if you agree that I'm self-sufficient. I am fairly confident that people love me, and I'm pretty sure you know some of the people that do, so logically, you can see where that statement is not necessarily based in fact. (That doesn't change FEELING like it's fact. But if you want to change the feeling and step in a new direction, really examining that statement might be a place to start.)

You also said this: I don't want to be self-sufficient I want to be interdependent. I want to be deeply connected to a web of community. But for some reason that is exactly the kind of relationship I can't seem to form.

I used to be much more needy, and I also would drive people away with need. There's a couple of factors that I've figured out in my head, and again, YMMV, so I don't know if this will be helpful to you, but here goes.

1 - there seems to be a certain amount of maintenance a person requires in order to feel...um...human? I guess? To feel like a whole person. That maintenance can come from anywhere.
2 - the maintenance of a human being takes up personal energy, of which we have a limited supply.
3 - to be self-sufficient means that you mostly supply your own maintenance.
4 - if you cannot do that, it means that you must rely on other people for your maintenance.
5 - Other people are trying to maintain themselves. If they must also maintain you, then they will try, and they will love you, but eventually they will pull away...not because they do not love, but because they run out of energy.
6 - some people need to care for other people as part of their own self-esteem process. This does not change the fact that they have a finite supply of energy. When they run out of energy they will still pull away, though some of them will be resentful about the process.
7 - some people do NOT need to care for other people, and instead do so by choice. Those people can sense people who *need* to be cared for, and will sometimes pull away before a bond is even formed.

So what I'm saying is, self-sufficiency is the way to the relationship that you say you wish to have. When you are self-sufficient, people are more likely to offer care and support, because they know it isn't something...the image I'm getting is a gravitational pull. When someone *needs* to be taken care of, then offering care is a risky proposition...because offering care means you're likely to be called on again, and again, and again. It can be draining. When someone is self-sufficient, offering care can be done in passing without any real consequences, so it is "safer" to do so.

I'm not sure how much that applies to you, only you know that. But it's some thoughts I came to when I was working on my codependency.