…Not tear myself apart.
I do spend a great deal of time tearing myself apart and putting myself together but that is what I learned in Reeducation. In the past it was not scary to get up in the morning but it became scary when coming to consciousness meant having to start tearing oneself apart again. Now I must animate myself each day and it takes time and energy. On the days when, upon awakening, I remember to say right away that awakening does not mean self-torture, I do not need to animate myself. And according to this one should just let negative thoughts flow through one, like weather.
I think it is one thing to do that for normal crises in confidence and certain kinds of anxiety but I find the self-image Reeducation inculcated too toxic to simply live with like that — and a lot of things I have been told need active reframing. The ACT ideas would seem to have some value, although their marketing as something that will deliver the benefits of meditation without requiring actual meditation gives me pause.
(You cannot imagine how pleasant I am in real life, you know–and how truly pleasant I would be if I took my own good advice consistently.)
FLASH: It all has to do with that project long ago, that I wanted to refuse. I did not dare and tried every form of goading to get myself to do it. And since my reasons for not doing it were not accepted (although they were very reasonable), I invented more baroque reasons, which was destructive and also distorting. But I now expect every aspect of academic work to be accompanied with this goading, this corpus of harpies and furies.
At the same time I was also losing my research time to Reeducation: I lost my self in it and my time to it as well, and I committed to that project I could not do and was not doing, so that I was enmired there, and spread too thin elsewhere since really I was working on fragments of the project that actually interested me, albeit only in a superficial way since I knew I was supposed to get back to the large project I had committed to but was not doing.
So the excessive goading, and the fragmentation, and the resistance to research since there was no time to do research on the large project, one was supposed to just write it, and since research on what I was really interested in was considered procrastination … all of these things came together, at the very same time as Reeducation told me I was not a valid person and my research identity was proof of it.
That is why I have this feeling, all the time, that a building has caved in on me from all sides: because it did. Physically whole and with my intelligence intact, I thought I should move out and restart and it is so obvious why this was a good idea. But I am here, and with this legacy which is a knot of practical problems among other things, and there are no kindred spirits, and it must all be solved in some way, and it is a tall order when you write it out.
In any case my difficulty is not lack of interest, or lack of ability to sacrifice, or any of these things people say. It is the outright torture I cannot seem to dissociate from academic work: because of having been raged at for doing it, threatened with failure at it, hated for thriving in it, raged at for wanting to make my own decisions in it, and raged at again for wanting to leave it so as to separate myself from the enraged people.
But they defeated me, and I stayed. Part of the defeat was I was now speaking terribly destructively to myself and it had become so natural I could barely see it, much less stop. And part of my self-destruction now is an attempt to say NO, it was not right, and it is not right. You kept me here and you think you saved me, so you are satisfied, but really you imprisoned me, so NO I will not calm down and live well and say that this is enough and that everything is all right.
I am interested in ACT-type ideas if they mean specific, practical training in recognizing and stopping the litany of accusations against myself that I learned to recite. I also think that, despite the fact that is true, given what happened, that I should have left academia, I should stop seeing having been pushed to stay as a full-on defeat. I may want other things as well, but this is nonetheless mine.
…and I am brought back to the beginning. There is nothing for it but not to tear oneself apart. To take authority. To place oneself at the center of one’s life. To live well. (Note: to mistreat oneself and then expect high achievement of oneself is really ridiculous, I must say; I would have laughed at the idea in the past and it is amazing that I have adopted it.) Then the fourth factor, dealing with the effects of my original primary relationship; I really think this has to be dealt with in some deep way, and that merely “living better” will not address it.