December 1, 2010


i really like this xkcd comic, mostly for the message in the scrollover. i have an amazingly good ability to make myself feel like shit for feeling like shit. i've been practicing said ability for years, so it makes sense that i'd be good at it by now. being smart and able to form decent arguments are skills that can be put to use when flogging oneself. none of this explains why i would do it, but then, science doesn't tell us whether we should make the atom bomb, does it? that would be the messy realm of ethics.

various statements can be made for self-torture: "it feels so good when i stop." i think that's the brief relief from the derisive scowlings of the inner hater (outer pain takes away from inner pain). willing participants in flagellation exist in various religious practices: sometimes for the altered state the suffering brings, sometimes it's seen as pleasing to god to welcome and appreciate the suffering.

(there's also the erotic aspect of pain, which i am not going to talk about here.)

in the environment of privilege and psychology, self-punishment is regarded more as egotistical dwelling on one's personal state. we are encouraged to think positively, and to take personal responsability for our emotional state (notice that's still quite ego-driven). all kinds of messiness can happen through following this advice too strictly; people end up feeling responsable for lousy things that have happened to them. (we cause our own rapes and our own natural disasters, have you noticed?) or people repress pain and trauma to "focus on the positive", but denying your arm is broken won't help it heal faster, it will just make you look delusional.

so it seems to me that we are at a loss for how to deal with suffering. we don't have a healthy relationship with it. dwell or deny; what is healing? how can we be whole through pain and trauma? through practicing patience and compassion toward ourselves. how can we acknowledge our own participation in our suffering (we do have will, after all) without trying to take all the blame? (this one's trickier.)

i was reading through old journal entries; i have almost completed the journal i began when i was falling in love with the queen. he was in thailand, i was dog-sitting. there is a portion of entries from early in the pregnancy; i hadn't told anyone outside of the gnome home, was having morning sickness, struggling with the queen to get on the same page and figure out what we were going to do. reading these old entries was illuminating; our love has evolved, through struggle and patience on both our parts. we have become a stronger unit. sometimes it is easier to focus on the things we still struggle with, and to look toward the future like it looms in front of us, ready to break our wills and destroy our relationship. (i have seen so many breakups occur in the first two years of a child's life. yes, i feel terrified.) so any reminder that we have come a long way is a good reminder.

i'm not going to pretend that everything is perfect for the queen and i. i am not going to buy into a false family image and try and paint it over us (though i admit i have been buying christmas ornaments with the dream of "our tree"; the only part of christmas i like is the tree part). moving toward the positive without shedding all the weight (that weight sucks now, but sometimes the things in that bag will help you later) is a delicate balance. i struggle with anything delicate. the fear of breaking it sometimes inspires me break it just to get it over with. another version of "it feels so good when i stop" translated as "it feels so good when the voices in my head that tell me i am going to fail finally stop".

i know there are aspects of our relationship that suck for one or the other or both of us; i know we have no easy solutions to these, and sometimes don't even agree on what the source or identity of the struggle is. sometimes it's a different struggle for each of us. i don't know what will happen to us; will aspects of our relationship turn septic? will healing together make us stronger? asking myself these questions feels draining, so i try and just do what i can now. and not try so hard to make it better that i miss enjoying it now, for what it is.

at the end of all this ruminating (dwelling?) i have no more answers; the way is not illuminated. but i do know a bit more about why i feel this way, which helps me when conversing with those voices. "i am doing the best i can, voices. what are you doing to help?"

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