Coping

File:Adriaen Brouwer - A Boor Asleep.jpgThrough our encounter, Cara, aged seven, either sat on her father’s knee or lay on the floor. She was starved of oxygen during birth, and had the most severe brain-damage I have come across: apparently her eyes had been normal, but she was unable either to interpret the signals from them or to dilate her iris according to light levels, so the retinae would be damaged by too much light. She made wordless moans much of the time. Her limbs spasmed. She wore incontinence pads.

On the floor, she would lie still or twitch or writhe. Eating, she needed food pushed into her mouth. Her father treated her with loving care, and she did not seem to show the wild distress of a baby: perhaps he was expert in meeting her needs. He had split from his wife, and they shared her care.

Bangs and thumps from next door, and shouting. The music isn’t as loud as it has been, and tonight it was Dexy’s Midnight Runners: I might, just, listen to that myself. Then I did: maybe not. The parents have been over quite a bit, making sure she’s alright.

Well, what can she do? She can drink, which drives away the demons for a bit, dulls thought and feeling or makes feeling stronger but more bearable, because it can be expressed, then, in shouting or weeping which you might not do when sober. Except she has absorbed the lesson: drinking stops you dealing with problems without making them go away, so makes them worse. Drinking is a Bad Thing.

You do need other ways of dealing with things, though. She can turn her face to the wall, or shout. She has the repertoire of a sulky teenager, which I never developed with my own parents and which does not suit a woman in her forties- Steph, like me, is supposed to be more mature, and I sometimes think what I am doing it just one huge sulk.

The three of us are completely and totally handless. Incapable. What’re we like? And yet, somehow, the three of us are OK.

Wine and anger

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Bacchusbycaravaggio.jpegThe wine helped me find my anger.

I am angry at my father, and usually I would just suppress it. I woke at 1.30am, in misery at his loss, and woke at nine feeling miserable, lacking in energy, and thinking that I should not drink wine at all. It is important for me to Be Positive. How can I help my father, now? I felt anger at his lack of judgment, and in that found my own miserliness.

Fortunately, I am at Will’s house. I need held, while I scream and weep. Screaming is negotiable- dratted terraced houses- and I could control it even if it is good to let it out. I talk of the situation, and Will notices how I get continually distracted. That thing on his wall- yes, that is beautiful. That thing on the window is beautiful too. The Apple corp symbol- it is all circles, you know, the bite is a true arc, the apple is such a rich symbol from Adam on-

I find things to distract myself, ideally pretty things I can delight in. And Will notices I go still, and stop breathing. This is the small child’s reaction, feeling anger and needing to suppress it, and be perfectly still. Perhaps I could find a better way to be, as an adult.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/L%C3%A9on_Bonvin_-_Still_Life_-_Basket_of_Grapes%2C_Walnuts%2C_and_Knife_-_Walters_371529.jpgIt feels good, after. I have said it, and been heard. I feel present in my body, and powerful: open body language, feet slightly apart and arms loosely by my side. This is all so difficult- whether this is “masculine” or “feminine” is a question for my agonising- and I am getting there, now. We talk more generally: Will learned a Gurdjieff technique of Presence, naming to ourselves what we notice in the moment. I remember the bird- one eye staring at the ground, looking for the sign of worms to eat, and one eye aware of as much of the world around as possible. For me, the awareness of the World seems the spiritual experience, for it is the less common one- a balance between focus and wide-awareness might be a step further.

Thinking of transference. Something angers me which I cannot express, and then I am reminded of it and my old anger comes out at the new stimulus- possibly an anger completely out of proportion. And of wine- it is a risky way of finding anger, out of control, but if my inhibitions are too strong I have to get round them somehow. It is a good job I do not drink to escape.

At the course, we milled, and said to the person I face, one of these three:
I feel that I can trust you
-I am not sure whether I can trust you
-I do not feel that I can trust you

When I see someone embarrassed, who says “I feel that I can trust you”, it seems, out of a desire to placate, I feel I cannot trust. I would rather tell the truth, perhaps slightly negatively, and worry about others’ feelings later. And it is their stuff, not mine, if they call me trustworthy or untrustworthy. I know I can be trusted to do my best, even if not to be “perfect”.

Catharsis

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Arnold_B%C3%B6cklin_-_Der_Vulkan.jpgWe swapped stories. I told of people I had known who became paranoid on smoking cannabis, and M told of eleven year-olds getting drunk and pupils smoking cannabis in the fields- teachers passing just told them to “stop it”, rather than taking action. He disapproves. It is illegal, and the lads are not taking any notice of the warnings in the videos.

Alcohol is dangerous if you use it to escape stress, I said, and he expostulates- They’re not stressed! These are people who don’t care about the exams and are not revising!

M excels. He will go to university, unless just possibly he finds some more long-term worthwhile way of spending his time, and-

being teenage has moved on. It is not about seeing the sheep obeying the rules, and rebelling against the Rules. It is about a sober analysis of how things are, and moving towards appropriate goals- or about starting seriously self-destructive behaviour early.

I saw a woman put through the mill. On telly, this is: “Life of Crime”, in which a woman suffers a disaster to her career at the same time as her mother has a stroke and her marriage breaks down. Her daughter stays with her husband. We see her sensitivity and vulnerability, and her inability to open up because the pressure is too great. She is having a hard time at court, and on the phone to her husband she says, “I love you”. He says, “Bye”. He feels she has betrayed him.

This “police officer emotes, fails to catch the bad guys and is ground down by the system” plot is exactly the same as “Good Cop” in the Autumn. Setting it in the police enables the dramatist to include life and death threats, but the basis of it is the human being, trying to do the right thing, failing at work- the plot of several Employment Tribunal cases I have seen. Here we are, we workers by hand and by brain, under this pressure, the pressure of there being too many workers for the work needing done, so the wages go down.

File:Johan Christian Claussen Dahl 001.jpgAmazon, Google and Starbucks dodge taxes in the UK, and I was expatiating on transfer pricing to F when I realised- “You know all this, don’t you?” Yes, she does. She takes an interest. She gets news from Al-Jazeera and bloggers as well as from the BBC, and resents the journalists’ way of making a Story out of facts, rather than presenting them, and of their telling tittle-tattle about royals and celebs rather than real news.

F gains hope from Avaaz campaigns, and learning of NGOs- there is all this altruistic seeking the Good, and all the activists and ordinary folks can get together on line as a counter-weight to buccaneer capitalism. I block out my distress and anger at the Vast Impersonal Forces, and feel it at the fate of a fictional female police officer.

If I (not a rhetorical question: all comment is welcome) have distress at my own situation but feel it consciously only when I see a woman’s world collapse on the telly- might that help or hinder me from doing what I need to do?

File:Николай Павлович Красовский - Побег из извержение вулкана.jpg

Certainty

MechanicallyseparatedchickenMindy, whose moral speculations help me to understand, says “I honor and sometimes envy your certainty”. It comes from where I am in my life. It is an intellectual rather than an emotional certainty, and I want to encourage my own emotional being to make it an emotional certainty. I want to turn it into the courage to act.

I met a man who had drunk so much alcohol that periodically he could not keep any food down. So he did not eat for three or four days, and sipped water. When he could keep water down, he resumed drinking. Withdrawal symptoms on stopping drinking after that long are unpleasant, and he was nervous on his own, but became confident on drinking. There are advantages in drinking, and still that is seriously self-destructive behaviour. He was burning muscle to survive after not eating for four days. He knew he was killing himself, and is probably dead by now.

File:El Greco 006.jpgHow am I with my own self-destructive behaviour? I do not want to look for work. I cannot go on like that. I think it comes from a deep sense of my own worthlessness and wrongness.

I read, As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about. Then I read of two mayors saying they would like to ban Dan Cathy’s company from their cities, which they do not have the power to do, and of Mick Huckabee’s response.

The “Chick fil a appreciation day” has nothing to do with free speech. I support Dan Cathy’s right to express his odious and disgusting opinions. But there is no possible sanction against his free speech except disgust and derision. Those stuffing themselves for hate at his caffs are supporting the words he said, not his right to say them. Thank God, in Britain the similar cranks are not both so powerful and so vocal: the protests here would be far stronger than the support, and so for a man in a comparable position it is a business decision not to express himself in that way.

These people hate who I am. I disgust them. I have taken that into myself. The disgust for my own responses which matters most is my own: it affects my every interaction, every response, every moment. It is a disgust I need to liberate myself from. This is a survival issue.

So consciously I express my own value, and when I come across a case like Dan Cathy’s I express my loathing and derision, my certainty that he is wrong. I associate with people who share my opinion, and when I come across dissenting groups I contradict them. Along with my meditation, my self-reiki, and other self-nurturing behaviour, this is my attempt to gain the self-respect I need to survive.