I have now become more rational with this project, and it is a big achievement. Here is how it is done. Any time I work on this topic I feel crushed by it, like it is a mountain or a slag heap, or a dead body I cannot move out of my way. When you just keep working in this situation you go in circles, and I find myself writing endless prologues or alternate beginnings, and cannot move out beyond these breakers.
In very vulgar psychoanalytic terms you have to quell that mountainous superego and enhance ego. There may well not be a yo de conjunto, as Borges would put it, but an excess of ego shattering is not a good idea.
Even Vallejo, that fractured subject, had a great deal of ego in real life. This is why I like Stephen Hart’s biographical investigations, which insist that Vallejo, no matter what the situation, was never a complete pobrecito, was never like that Pelele character in El señor Presidente, for instance.
Someone needs to do something psychoanalytic on Vallejo, by the way, something serious, and I will note that my first intuitions on him came from listening to Leo Bersani–although I never followed these out fully. (A Future for Astyanax, I wonder, perhaps Astyanax, c’est moi.)
I am going to change my life. A goal is not to fall into destructive patterns of thought as much, so I do not have to spend as much time arguing against them on this weblog.
A thought on this: the problem with much US psychotherapy is that it makes certain erroneous assumptions, to wit:
a) you are here as a last resort: something terrible has just happened, whether you recognize it or not; or
b) you are massively “dysfunctioning” and need to be forced to recognize this, like a crime suspect forced to confess; or
c) you are having a major or minor crisis and are only interested in being “stabilized;” ord) you only want to vent, not to explore or change.
For me, of course, all of these options are traumatizing because the message is: I do not believe you, and I will not actually listen to you. That naturally drives someone who does not fit the four possible categories to a greater level of pain, as it, most likely, replicates precisely the events that led them to consult this industry in the first place. The slightly better, common assumption is
e) you are so frozen and encrusted in your neuroses that you can only progress very, very slowly and delicately. This may be true for some, but as a best option it is not good enough.
What do you think?
…by practicing mental health hygiene. It is not all one must do but hygiene is not mere obedience or compliance. And it does not work in a day but it has a cumulative effect, if only that of not being destructive.
The trick is not to say it is all one needs, or not to allow anyone to say this. It is only a basis for things. Claiming that hygiene was enough is one of my past errors–it is akin to the claim that standard academic advice is enough. This, I see, is one of the reasons I self-destruct by, for instance, not keeping food in the house, not sleeping enough, or whatever it is: I am dissatisfied with mere hygiene because it is insufficient. This does not mean it is not necessary, of course, and I see why I am so angry with mental health hygiene now.
Here is the hygiene exercise du jour: work for three hours without yelling at myself or berating myself for any reason, and without allowing myself to become engulfed in self-doubt or sadness. It is because these feelings overtake me that I get enmired (and allowing such feelings to overtake me is of course something I had inculcated in Reeducation).
It is interesting that I had to LEARN to allow those feelings to overtake me: before Reeducation I would have dismissed them as irrational remnants, which they are. In Reeducation those remnants had to be one’s TRUE feelings but in yoga or Buddhism, for instance, they would just be vague passers-by, illusions.
(In Christianity, I notice, people struggle with demons but I like the idea of illusions much better. It is far more fun to simply let an illusion pass than it is to lock oneself into a struggle with a demon.)
ADDENDUM: Dumping guilt has to be one of the first hygiene moves. In my case also, feeling guilty disables me (via fatigue) such that I am not able to come through on things–which exacerbates guilt. And it is strange, I never used to feel guilty about academic work. People would say they felt guilty when taking time off, for instance, but I never did, because I was not then in an abusive relationship with it. I am subsumed in guilt nowadays, though, and on this half masochistic and half liberating weblog I try to deal with it.
So, while I think that in part I do undue violence to myself on this weblog, and that I must change that, I also say that in many posts I am not “procrastinating” but attempting to call forth the person who writes, and who is a person I either hid very well, or tortured and killed, or both, I am not sure. She is difficult to call forth, I will tell you, and she has good reason for it. I am going to take on the luxury of being that person, the pristine and confident version of me that lives elsewhere, in just a few minutes and stay in that identity for three hours.
However, I cannot resist this: here is an article on marriage by a therapist. Clarissa, look at it, you will just have to laugh. Gosh — “settling” — just so you can be married — and for what, exactly? I mean: this article recommends going into marriages knowing you are ambivalent about them, on the theory that you HAVE to be married.
I can remember what I was taught about that. First, that I was not attractive enough to be chosen by someone who would be nice to me, so I should look for someone who would be as non-abusive as possible. Because abusability was what I had to offer. Later, that one should marry for love and not out of desperation or fear of solitude. Or that marriage itself was an old paradigm. Do we really have to “settle,” now?
If I stop accusing myself of procrastination and avoidance and recognize that these things are not rooted laziness or adolescent-style “rebellion” but fear, and they are also misguided efforts at protection (against yet greater self-abuse, I might add), it might help.
What can I do for me today? Be gentle. I am so violent with myself, it is frightening. Just the thought of being gentle, the possibility of it, brings instant calm and clears my mind.
(It is true that after a certain point I did not lead the life I wanted but the life others chose. I am not going to torture myself about that, either. I will remember it is not my fault that, since earliest memory, my priority could not be choosing what I wanted and had to be compliance. I will remember that I knew this was a problem and sought help for it, and was sincere.)
I can achieve calm if I remember to be gentle. So that is what I can do tomorrow: not ask what I can do for ME today, or “be good to myself” since I do not entirely understand that, but just be gentle.
“Do you mean you are going to take more of a stand, rather than remain silent? I pride myself for being able to glimpse in a person that elusive quality of heightened awareness. YOU ARE TRULY BRILLIANT, GOD DAMNIT. Please just admit it.”
All right. But the fact is that I am also so ashamed of being who I am that I do not want to be seen in public, or make any public statements.
Meanwhile, this habit of getting up feeling terrible, and spending most of the day trying to feel less terrible so as to be able to do anything, and looking into the darkness so as to shed light, and not resting, and not getting enough done so that one does not sleep an accomplished sleep, and restarts the cycle, has simply got to go.
How to get up feeling terrible and change it to well? There has to be a way of doing this and I have to remember to do it every day.
One reading is that I get up feeling terrible so that I can be ill and thus procrastinate on doing the things I do not feel worthy of doing even though doing them would make me feel better. I procrastinate out of rebellion: I wanted to do this, but I wanted to do it according to my judgement, and I wanted to do other things as well. I wanted to express myself but it seemed that this would not be allowed, so I refused to speak. I keep losing for this reason, and the problem is that I gave up making my own decisions.
Always I had had to limit my choices to what would be approved, but I was learning to expand more and more, when I was cut down. What do I want? has been the question asked but I has retreated so far that the question is more, where have I gone? (Of course I do know what I want generally. What I do not want is to lead the empty, obedient life the academic advisors recommend. That seems to be what I am struggling with, and committing hara-kiri over.)
But I want an adult life.