I woke up this morning terrified of the students and faculty at Vichy State University, that is to say of many of them and the atmosphere they create, and how I let the poison get into my bones. I woke up thinking that people say that it is all in how you handle your reactions or what you allow to affect you is only true up to a certain point. I am aware that José Mujica avoided mental breakdown in prison by taking the right emotional care of himself, which I would say is a much better way to think about things than “controlling your reactions.” It is what I renounced doing in Reeducation, of course, and a result of that is that I am fragile and “react poorly” to many things, taking time to recover.
When I escaped from my infamous ex I learned that the objective of abusive people is to exert power and control. (You are under my power! say the mad magicians of Caligari-style fame, and my Reeducator wanted to hypnotize me.) But the themes of Reeducation were also power and control; according to it I “had to be” genetically predisposed to having too much power and control in life. It was explained to me later on that this Reeducator was a Twelve-Stepper and that that was where he got these ideas. Apparently their meaning is not that one has too much power and control in life but believes they can and should control certain kinds of situations and have the power to change other people in certain ways.
Later on in life, and up to only a few weeks ago on this very weblog, I did in fact get and struggle with the idea that perhaps in fact I should have been able to cure or stanch or make up for other peoples’ emotional pain, so that they would stop externalizing it on me, it is true, but this is not what I was doing Reeducation and in Reeducation we were said to have too much power and control. And the only power and control I had to give away were my own, or in other words the only life I had to give up was mine. (We could of course say that was precisely the gesture I was not to learn or was to unlearn, sacrifice something one should not for the sake of satisfying someone who will not be.)
In any case having power and control was one of the greatest sins you could commit in Reeducation, so I tried to relinquish as much of these as possible. It fits in with what happens at work, too, being accused of having too much power. (I would say I am just right and well prepared to make my case, of course, and that I do not force anyone to vote for my motions, do not call them, do not pressure them. But people who have no training and do no legwork insist that when I get things done I must have exerted inappropriate power).
Power and control, however, are in fact what I have always deserved and needed more, not less of. Raised to always consider others first, not to think about what I would want if free but only of what I will choose from the canteen cart, so to speak, and then beaten down by Reeducation which was, of course, an entire cultural complex and not just one Reeducator, accused of being “too powerful” and not understanding that this meant “too competent,” I do not use the power I have and this is where the anxiety I suffer from has its origin.
A reason I have this kind of agoraphobia about going to campus or dealing with anything academic is, apparently, that I think I must do it with my hands tied. “No, I do not want my hands tied! Especially not if I am to struggle with people whose hands are free! If I am to have my hands tied, I want to stay home!” But if I allow myself power and control, those forbidden goods, that contraband, then I can set fear aside, perhaps.