April 1992: Ondine

This was written in April of 1992.  “Ondine” was the name of a journal volume that I kept from January to May 1970.  In those days I named each of my notebooks in imitation of Anaïs Nin.  On the first page it quotes her:  “The legend of Ondine tells of how she acquired a human soul the day she wept over a human love.”  “The Year of the Ship” was the name of the previous journal.  Ondine contains the account of a very intense period in my life.  I had a breakdown and was hospitalized, and filled full of Mellaril, a serious tranquillizer.  I was at the University of California at Davis, and went to the health center when I fell apart.  In April of 1992 I was scanning a typed version of this notebook.  And now I’m converting April of 1992 into a newer word-processing program.  Each time I get a chance to look at the material again, and it’s different every time because I’ve learned more about myself.

I’ve just finished scanning and correcting the typed version of the journal volume of Ondine.  (Don’t know exactly why I skipped the year of the ship, but that’s what I did)  I guess I’m not quite ready to try to write about it yet, still too incoherent.  I was amazed, very angry, and yet very validated, to read how I saw my parents’ criticism and neglect as damaging, I even mention my father putting his hands on my breasts, I express very articulately and accurately just what they did to me.  Yet that intellectual understanding failed to heal me at that time.  WHY?  WHY?  WHY?  Well for one thing I saw my outpouring as overdramatizing, as coming out of my sickness, as “making a big fuss” about nothing, I didn’t really believe the depth and power of what I was saying, I saw it as the ravings of a crazy person.  Secondly, I failed to understand at all the extreme power imbalance existing between parent and child, I think I really saw myself as an adult, not a child, I saw what they did to me as though it had been done to an adult to whom it would be painful but not profoundly damaging, I saw myself as some kind of wimp that I couldn’t handle it better.  I also still believed that their lack of love meant that I was unlovable, their neglect meant I was unworthy of attention, their criticism meant I was a failure, I had not yet got it that their behaviour was controlled by their alcoholism not by my deficiencies.
Goodness!  Also, I’m beginning to see how confusing it was for me that mother was so threatened by me and at the same time so dependent on my behavior, specifically my admiration.  I could see pretty clearly pretty early on that I was more intelligent than she was, and also wiser than she was, and that she was threatened by this.  So of course I shut myself down, held myself in, in order not to threaten or “hurt” her.  But I also saw that I could not depend on her, or look to her for guidance.  How could I possibly hurt or call to account someone so obviously weaker and more defective than I, someone so obviously in need of more help, guidance, love and support than I could possibly give — though I tried hard and was defeated again and again with consequent damage to my self-esteem and self-respect.  God!  I should never have had to take on that amount of responsibility!!

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