OK I admit it, this is a gigantic shapeless bag of a category and I am inconsistent with what I toss into it. I apologize for this sloppiness.
Note: This is a writing exercise exploring an important memory, but one that existed like a collection of facts without much context or meaning. I find when I use writing to explore a memory that the lights come back on, and details lead to meanings along a narrative path. Every time I’ve done this I’ve been given a fresh understanding with relevance to my life in this very minute.
When I was young I lived with chronic depression, untreated… could there even be a more discouraging opening to an erotic memory?
Nonetheless, there is fucking ahead. Also betrayal, malpractice, and naivety. Plus a soupcon of shitty meanness.
My depression as a child and adolescent was like a seasonal beating given by an indifferent but professional thug. Or pulling from a different box, I was like a tiny Pacific Atoll blown apart by tropical cyclones 2 to 3 times a year. My palm trees thrashed violently in the wind, my beaches eroded and my desperate citizens disappeared into any hiding place they could find. My dad was a veteran of maybe a dozen years of Freudian therapy for depression and my mom was in therapy for at least a couple of years.
To the best of my recollection, they never noticed my withdrawal and sorrow and I didn’t feel I should bother them for help.
I think that:
- I might have masked it well enough to look pretty healthy, but
- How did they not notice anyway?
My son is extremely private, a secretive and enigmatic person, but I see clouds or clear skies on his face and understand the weather in there well enough to send aid and comfort to the suffering people of his tiny island. My suffering finally surfaced in talks with my mom when I was 15 or 16. My self-loathing and despair were catastrophic, a house burning down. She listened to me lovingly and sympathetically, she made positive suggestions, but that’s all. She didn’t perceive a need to address it beyond this. I don’t go back and live in the ashes of family psychodrama, blowing on the embers. I don’t hold mental Nuremberg trials for my parents and I find little value in blame beyond healthy and timely communication to keep the pipes running freely. But my parents let me down, the only two people, directly tasked with my well-being and very knowledgeable about mental health by the standards of the time, did nothing to help me despite the obvious crisis. I was failing out of school, peacefully refusing to do any work like a teenage “Bartelby the scrivener”. I had given up having friends and lived alone in my room. That’s the extent of the case I prosecute against them and that’s where I let it go, feeling mystified since I know they loved me and worried about me. Continue reading
Carl Jung defined the shadow as the unknown dark side of the personality.
According to Jung, the shadow, being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is understood as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.
I’m not remotely a bible guy but this is ‘chapter and verse’, my personal recipe from here forward.
“Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves” [have no self-serving agenda].
– Matthew 10:16
To speak from strength, to be trustworthy, own your serpent and own your dove. For that matter, I suppose own your sheep and wolf as well.
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”
Future successful adult.
John Prine’s heart-breaking and loving video on the opioid crisis
I may add on to this. We’ll see where it goes.
“First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons — but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which had lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world — a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring — this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.
Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else — but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.
It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”
Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories