How my father lost his job: the education authority had the idea of teaching primary school children to care about others, and see they could do good, by getting them all to donate a bag of rice to poor people in a famine struck area. Rice would be imported, unloaded, bagged up into 1lb or 250g bags, distributed to wee Argyllshire food shops, bought by doting mothers, taken to school, put in boxes or crates and somehow delivered to the fashionable famine area. My father, as head teacher of at-CHOO primary school, said this was silly. You should collect money, and buy food for them locally. One thing led to another, and as this was not the first time he had failed to co-operate with the idiocy of his bosses, he was made to accept early retirement.
It is a pain refusing to comply with the delusions of ones bosses, especially when one can see the arguments for those delusions. That’s why I stopped volunteering, but also why my friend can’t carry on as a teacher.
Thinking about these matters, I distilled how I wanted to start my counselling session to:
I don’t want to work because I can’t believe in my ability in a job to accomplish anything worthwhile.
This felt like an insight. I could think the words, but not say them to Tina. So I wrote them down, and then could say them. What do I want?
To preserve a view of myself as-
so far as possible, to be
cultured, educated, compassionate, articulate
in my own mind.
That would be something I could value. The problem is not being it, or being it but not seeing that.
What do I do all day? I watch a lot of TV, which makes me feel intense feelings. There’s the hide-and-seek suspense- why do people wander into dark multi-storey carparks, anyway- with the music telling me this is exciting, or there’s the moment where our heroine, having imagined that a colleague is on her side, finds evidence to show he may be one of the ones out to kill her. Here am I despising the false emotion lazily imagined and forced onto me, and the moments I choose to tell Tina about are genuinely affecting. I despise myself for wasting my time like that, but the moments I tell of are worthwhile.
Or I blog. I blog a lot, practically every day. I missed a day or two in August. I want to value myself, understand and make things bearable.
-What is unbearable?
She lets me have the silence, where I luxuriate in my Sadness. It is lovely.
I look at the Quaker Studies Handbook, dozens of essays at an undergraduate level about a subject that interests me- and would be of value to me, as Quakers is my main social group, and I think it would be good to read it, and I can’t be bothered so I don’t even buy it and not read it…
I despise myself. This perplexity! I am amused by it, and as she observes profoundly distressed by it. I want to analyse and explain. I manage to get her laughing.
I dump the jigsaw on the floor. One piece or two:
We will all die!
-we might as well confront the whole thing-
It’s after the hour’s end, and we carry one skyping. I say what I feel about this to show my analysis. I should stop it, because this is the end of the hour- that’s the boundary, that’s the rules, following the rules makes me feel safe, I should not go over, or this is me exerting control (bad) or caring for her boundary (good) but I could let her give the gift to me and care for me- self-valuing and accepting, good- Appearance v Reality, and Really being the Goodperson is Heaven and trying to appear it is the blackest pit of hell-
You judge yourself dreadfully, she says. Yes.
We can’t hug over skype but I can imagine a hug. SO what would be good to discuss? Not “What do you want, however impossible you imagine it to be” but “What do you see as the problem?” perhaps. Ooh. Lots of stuff.
The following day I have a feeling I find hard to describe. You know that feeling when you break a tooth, and your tongue explores the unfamiliar hole. Imagine a similar sense of wonder, but at sudden wholeness rather than sudden loss. I don’t want to seem. I had always wanted to seem to be that good person; but actually I want to be the empathetic, compassionate, gentle being. I want to feel what I feel. I want to run towards something, rather than (as it always seemed) away from it.