Reiteration Mostly

Men get their opinions as boys learn to spell,
by reiteration mostly.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Because most people have a limited number of tapes that they keep in their head, put in there by rote, they tend to be easily modelled.

it’s usually not hard for me to predict what they will say to most given circumstances by just extrapolating what they have regularly said in the past, by knowing what their habitual responses are.

With a good memory, then, a blessing and a curse, I can hear them in my head, knowing the probability of repeat is very high and the possibility of surprise is very low.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t get surprised sometimes, so I need to be able to hear that change and shift in the moment, adapting to new information.   For me, being locked into reiteration is just wrong and not useful.   I need to be able to take the new as new.

But it does mean that the slams they put on me are written on my skin or at least in my memory, and when they go after those scars again, trying the same trope and expecting different results, well, it just hurts.

Classic tapes comfort people, making life as seem easy as hitting the familiar cue on the cart deck, no new work, thought or compassion involved.

And if that continues old patterns, well, why the hell don’t other people just change?  Can’t be my tapes that are the problem.

Where’s the Messy?

Talking to my sister about internet presence for artists yesterday.

“I know what they want,” I told her.  “They want me to explain the internet and software in a way that they understand, using what they already know.   They want me to simplify it enough that they don’t have to stretch and think in new ways.

“The problem is that software works in its own context.  It’s a context that is deliberately made easy to understand, but it is very specific.  As the gal said at the end of her Computer 101 class, ‘Oh!  I see!  Computers don’t do what you want them to do, they do what you tell them to do.’

“If you aren’t willing to see things in a new way and attend to new details, aren’t willing to open your mind, computers will never open themselves to you.   Mastery will escape you.

“In that frustration it’s easy to blame the teacher for failing to make the process understandable at your current level of knowledge, to make it accessible without you working to understand new systems and ways of thinking.”

I can show you how I think, express how I feel, can explain how everything makes sense to me.   But if you don’t choose to open to that, well, then I just look messy and inconsiderate and crazy and weird and deliberately off-putting and nasty and all sorts of other bad things.

All I have to do to get you to understand is to put it in terms that you get.   Is that an unreasonable thing to ask, people say.    After all, they are smart enough to understand everything that they have grasped to this point, so if they don’t understand what I am offering, well, whose fault is that?

This is when I start to pound my head hard in frustration.   I slam my mind to try and stop the feelings, thrash my noggin to try to regain the mental discipline to just do what others ask to understand me, to make myself simple enough to be lovable rather than a porcupine.

Can I ask other people to understand, to feel, to grow, to heal, to grok on my schedule?   Is that a reasonable expectation?   Or do I need to let them come to opening in their own time and own way?

That chasm between their understanding and my expression is their identification of where I am overly complicated, overly emotional, overly cerebral, overly rude, overly demanding, overly messy.

So I pound my head more as my heart breaks and end up in a pool of my own mess.

It’s so simple.  But not if you aren’t ready for it.

Whiny & Resentful

I got told a few days ago that some people saw me as whiny and resentful.  I talked about that and put it in context, and I think I was right to do that.

The truth is that I am whiny and resentful.   Now, I am a whole lot more than that, a whole circle of understanding from transcendent to wise to smart to gracious and whole mess of other things too, but damn it, yes, I have emotions and just two of those emotions are feeling resentful of others and feeling sorry for myself.

What I am most resentful about?   Easy.  I’m most resentful about having to be the one who has to negotiate other people’s unhealed bits, to be the one who turns the other cheek, being the bigger person while they get to act out.

And what’s the biggest area in which I feel sorry for myself?   It’s not being able to expect other people to handle being in relationship with me, being there for me, which leaves me lonely and lost.

I hate the fact that because I am the smart one, the queer one, the big one, that my emotions are deemed too much, too damaging, unreasonable, beyond the pale, bullying and way too challenging.   When I speak up I am able to cut to the core, illuminating the compartments that other people want to keep in the darkness.  My emotional responses are alloyed with sharp thought and therefore are cast as bullying, nasty and sick.

I’m watching an 2012 USA mini-series, Political Animals.  Sigourney Weaver plays an ex-first lady with a philandering ex-husband who becomes a Governor, then loses at her run for President and is now Secretary Of State.    The big hook in this series?   She is a very powerful woman, a self-admitted bitch, but she is also a woman, a mother and a wife (well, ex-wife) who has emotions and needs to manage them as she walks through fire fights.

Yeah.   Powerful, wicked smart and also emotional, feeling and needing love.   Big brain, big heart.  I get the premise.

Am I emotional?   Hell yeah.   And if that’s all you see of me, you miss the point, stuck in your own compartments.

But is the solution for me to not be emotional, to use my big brain to compartmentalize more, to stay hidden and benign enough so no one feels upset in my presence?

That idea of demanded compartmentalizing off my emotions as if I don’t really have them, to “man up,”  well, it makes me feel whiny and resentful.

And really, really, really, that just has to be OK.   Or else.