February 1993: Ability to Respond

(Written in February 1993)

I have more thoughts about what I was writing about yesterday.  I was reading in ’86 about the visit from Beverly’s friend Victoria, how she thought she “always wanted to be right” and was putting herself down for such a petty motive.  When we examined it, it turned out that what she really wanted was to be accepted just as she was.  She experienced enormous relief with this discovery.  I’ve also seen, reading through all those old journals, that what I was really looking for from other people was not “support and approval”, not compliments or agreement, what I was searching for was honest response, honest feedback.

How amazing!  Immediately after that entry I got a long letter (5 pages) from Charlotte in response to the Journal excerpts I sent them for Christmas.  It was a real response, direct comments on parts of the journal, stories of herself and Howard, general thoughts about spirituality and the economy stimulated by my words.  She also included a long description of me which warmed my heart.  I’ll probably scan it to put it in here, but there’s one sentence I want to copy: “There is the child-like trust and openness and readiness for response to the world.”  and “Whatever happened to you as a child, it did not break your spirit.”  What a gift for my moon-day — perceptive intelligent feedback from someone whose judgement I trust.
She emphasizes response and exchange and giving-receiving as being the important thing about life, and I realize that at least part of my wish to publish is wanting to put my work out there so that I can get a response.  I notice that Charlotte describes me as one who wishes to respond to the world, not a person looking for attention or approval, not a person looking to impose her ideas, but one who wants to answer, to receive the impact of the world and respond from the heart.  This is the motive that lies behind my desire to be an artist, not “showing off” or “bragging”.  I find myself furious on behalf of little Jenny, whose attempts to respond were misinterpreted and deflected by her mother’s narcissism, and so she shut down.  But that sensitive, generous, responsive being is really there, and was not killed, and my job is to protect and nourish her and create space for her to live in the world.
I just read over a journal entry (’87) where I’m struggling to accept that “Jenny” is herself my task, but what I’m seeing is a hypersensitive chronically ill “fussy” self-involved drip, instead of the being described by Charlotte.  Sitting here at my desk I can see them both, I can see that the irritable self-involved one is what you get when you place a sensitive, intelligent, eager to respond child in an alcoholic environment, and I can love them both.  Last night I cried a lot for how I too had judged and stunted and starved that lovely being and I apologized to her.

My “moon day” is the day that the sun is conjunct my Moon.  Since my Moon is in Aquarius, my moon day is generally February 14.

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