“Not Worth Taking Care Of”

Entries from my journal for early January:


I was typing the entry for December 1, where I had talked about not telling someone outside the shop that their car lights were on, and not picking up a hitch-hiker, and I added a comment:  “Typing this up I see the pattern.  I was truly too tired to do those extra things, but one of the injunctions from my childhood was that it was very wrong not to sacrifice myself for someone else’s welfare.  Not OK to take care of myself at someone else’s expense.  I also see another belief Mother taught me: “You don’t care about something if you don’t do something about it.”  She often said “You don’t care about me,” if I wouldn’t do what she wanted.  It was only much later, in a confrontation with my ex-husband, that I realized that it’s perfectly possible to care very much about something, and not be able to do anything about it.


A lot of early stuff has been triggered by taking on Marko.  Marko is a small dog whose owner was dying, and his sister asked me to keep him until she could find someone to take him.  “That twilight feeling” and seeing my life stretch into greyness ahead of me.  Feeling like it’s too hard to keep going.  Feeling like there’s no purpose or meaning in my life now.  Wishing I could die soon.  Seeing how my ability to take care of myself — especially in the realm of exercise — has degenerated.  I haven’t gone out on my own in quite a while.  The weather has been a problem too.  I’ve lost whatever energy I had for the clay project and the Little Books project.  I wrote a description for a Writers’ group and a couple of discussion groups, but I’ve lost my energy for that.


Hard to get up again this morning, despite the good session with Erica and a good talk with Eve.  In fact I’m feeling bleak and grey right now.  And then disappointed in myself.  When I left Erica, I had more clarity.  I even enjoyed the countryside when I drove home.

But today I’m back in the grey confusion.  My head feels swollen.  At least I’m not nauseous.  I remind myself that the grey part of me is trying to protect me from mother’s “wrath.”  That’s the word Erica used.  I would have thought she was exaggerating before I knew how a parent’s emotions can be huge to a child.  “Wrath” is the right word, because if Mom got angry, she might throw me away and that’s terrifying.

The fear of doing wrong and being — what? — the infant has no words or concept of death.  The best I can do is the series “worthless-and-rotten-and-should-be-dead” and “sent back to Sears & Roebucks,” which are essentially trying to verbalize a “felt sense.”

Looked up in BVDK about the styles of dysfunctional attachment.  “Disorganized attachment” is where the caretaker is a source of fear for the child.  It’s the double-bind that Erica talked about: I can lose myself by being what Mom wants me to be, or I can lose myself by being who I really am, and then Mom, who is necessary to my survival, will leave or throw me away.  So I end up in the grey world of terror and depression.  This stuff is very hard to write down because it happened when I was non-verbal.

Being afraid of mother reminds me of that time when I was in therapy with Sheila back in the 70’s.  She got me regressed, sitting on the floor with my eyes closed.  Then she moved a cushion across the rug saying “This is your mother.”  My body scrambled to get away from “mother” before my brain was able to think.  I remember being very surprised.  I knew I didn’t respect mother, but I didn’t think I feared her.  I puzzled over this event, didn’t know what to make of it.  Years later, when I learned about the physiology of trauma, I understood.  It’s the same reason a Veteran’s body jumps behind a couch before his brain registers “that’s a backfire in the street.”

Understanding what I was up against gives me a lot more respect for my struggle, and appreciation for why it’s so hard to make art when I don’t have moral support.  Erica said we were working down at the roots.  “You’re right in the middle of the pain of that little girl.”

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