Self-respect VII

The dentist advised against filling my wisdom tooth: normally they would just whip it out. It was too far back for root canal work and they would not bother with an implant. I don’t want mutilated, so two days later I was lying back, relaxing so as to be as comfortable as possible, while a man drilled away inside my mouth producing the smell of burning. “Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible,” he said, and I mentally kicked myself. Breathing through my nose made me more comfortable. “You’re doing very well, Miss Flourish,” he said. The relaxation technique I learned for electrolysis was working.

When I was learning to drive I noticed that nothing made me make mistakes so much as praise. If the instructor said I had done something well, I would almost immediately make a stupid mistake. That made no sense to me. I suppose it could reinforce my arrogance so that I was careless, or it could have increased my nervousness. Later I decided I was either restoring my view that I was useless, or self-punishing. I thought of that in the dentist’s chair, and saw that I did not immediately tense up or start to gag. I am not doing it any more.

In order to keep your hand in an ice bucket for longer (psychological researchers get people to do the oddest things) it helps to swear continually. Swearing stiffens the sinews. I found I was doing it to get out of bed, but not at myself any more, not cursing myself as useless, but trying to toughen up and gather the energy.

If I lie in bed and do not get up, I am not always the best person to ask why. It could be because I am lazy and useless, and the old self-punishing self would use that to prove it. But that’s also a reassuring belief: I could get up if I really wanted to. I am not depressed, which means sick, which means the neuro-transmitters are not there to get up. It’s just I don’t want to.

It is very tempting to think I am capable of more than I do. I would be OK, somehow, if I were capable, it’s just that I haven’t seen it yet. So when asked what I can’t do for the purpose of benefit assessment that creates a difficulty. If I cling to the false belief that I can do more than I do, I lose benefits. If I state what I actually do, feeling a loss of energy and motivation in the afternoon, not getting up in the morning, I might get the benefit. Telling the truth about my capacity is painful because I don’t want to admit that truth, it’s too frightening.

But then, what do I do? There were things I might have done today (Friday) and what I actually did was a blog post on JK Rowling‘s comments on Maya Forstater. My post on the latter got a lot more views than my posts usually get, I had for once touched the zeitgeist. If my response to seeing how many views I get resembles addictive behaviour, should I just give it up? This is the thing I actually like!

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