From 1994: Needing to prove that I am “really sick”

From my journal for 11/30/94

 Talking to Dana this morning about the “unfairness” of having my life be so restricted by illness, and how unhappy it makes me, and how it would be easier if I could just accept it — but writing it down, I see that the real “unfairness” is that I blame myself, as though it were my fault that I’m sick so much, or as though I weren’t really sick at all but just morally deficient and lazy, that “if I really wanted to, I could clean up the house, get to sleep easily,” etc.  O gosh, it’s the old laziness/lethargy conflict again.  It just doesn’t quit.  When I can understand that I am really sick, I don’t give myself such a hard time.  

Read this piece of writing to Dana, who said that he thought that the desire to “prove” that I was “really sick” is something that just keeps me caught in the judgemental system.  It makes me think of Talking to Yourself where she shows the many ways in which the judgemental attitude can pervade all attempts to help oneself.  In fact initially I heard Dana saying that if I could just get rid of the emotional overlays on the issue of being sick, I would be able to see what was wrong and fix it — which wasn’t at all what he was saying.

I said that I could see that one thing that’s operating is the belief that left to my own devices I would never get anywhere, which is why I push myself, manipulate myself, and generally don’t trust my own process, my own commitment.  Dana said it wasn’t so much a matter of trust as of a belief that I don’t have the power to commit myself to anything and have it make a difference.  That phrasing was exactly right, I suddenly saw Little Jenny breaking her heart trying to get her parents to wake up, be there, respond to her, stop drinking, and learning that all her powers of energy and passion and commitment were worthless because nothing changed.  Dana also said that one reason I feel so compelled to prove that I’m physically sick is that physical sickness is the only excuse that will satisfy that judgemental attitude, and the corollary of that is that me and my own feelings are not important.

Actually sickness is the only excuse that would satisfy my mother.  I remember her saying “You can’t be tired, you haven’t done anything,” if she needed me to do something. Yesterday I was feeling hopelessly inadequate, which I think is the same dynamic. But yesterday I was responded to with love and gratitude, that what I had done had helped just fine.

Learning that all my “powers of energy and passion and commitment were worthless because nothing changed” is something that continues to handicap me. The things I managed to accomplish: the book, Journey into Courage, and Neskaya, were things where I had supportive help. In writing The Feminine of History, I showed my first efforts to my dream teacher, Charles Ponce, and he said “You’ve really got a book here!” Journey involved the other women and Bess O’Brien. For Neskaya I had Dana, and then all the people who came because it gave them something.

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