Saturday, December 15, 2012

Versions of Violence

The biblical figure with whom I share a name (although for whom I am not named), is seen as perpetually grieving for her people. Rachel, the wife whom Jacob loved*, had one child then disappeared from the Torah. In The Red Tent, a mishnah of sorts by Anita Diamant, Rachel dies in childbirth and was buried where she died, then forgotten. She is the archetype for the woman who never stands up for herself because she doesn't want to trouble anyone, and doesn't feel she is important enough to have her grievances heard**. 

On a related note, my rabbi's mother recently said "the best crown you can wear is the crown of a good name". I don't know if she was quoting someone, but it does give one something to think about. Especially when one shares a name with a figure who is the archetype for issues one has faced throughout life. 

I have always sought to avoid saying mean things. I have always wanted peace, and my instinct is to say nothing if I have nothing nice to say. There were a few years when I vehemently spoke my mind, but I realized after a while that it didn't exactly serve me to do so, and stopped. In the years since, I have matured and learned how to address certain things in a diplomatic way, but even still, I have a very hard time having my own personal grievances aired and by doing so I allow violence to be perpetuated against me while doing some to myself. 

This post began as a desire to say something honest, yet horrible, to someone I no longer speak with. I decided against it, because it would have amounted to airing dirty laundry, could have created drama (to which I am strongly averse), or been misinterpreted by people to whom I do currently speak. The fact of the matter is, had I proceeded immediately as intended it would have simply been gossip and not have changed a thing. The object of my anger would have remained completely unaffected, and all I would have done is hurt myself further. I've done plenty of that on behalf of said person, and I'm disinclined to continue to do so.

But then I started thinking about how I never said anything to him when we did have contact. The last time we spoke was me starting to say my piece, but he abruptly ended the conversation before I was finished. I wanted to ignore these leftover feelings and not write anything at all, because I'm so drama averse, but also because some part of me wants to think that no one knows that I have negative emotions. I identify so strongly with my positive, upbeat, outgoing persona that I don't want anyone to know that there is damage beneath my skin. But, the undamaged, unthwarted persona is just a projection and isn't real.

Some of the intimacy I've been earning recently has to do with not holding up that projection, and letting people know that I'm just as damaged as everyone else. Even so, I continue to struggle with standing up for myself. I don't want to be too aggressive and defensive, but I don't want to get caught withholding myself from people I would really like to be close with. It's impossible to develop intimacy if you're defending or withholding. 

I know that the versions of violence that I learned and assimilated from a very early age lead directly to the versions of violence set against me as my life has progressed; violence that I further perpetuated by ignoring hurt caused by it for so long that it became impossible for me to express myself. Part of what I'm doing in this adventure (apart from constantly making constitution checks***), is trying to undo this tendency toward violence against my own soul.

Much of the issues that I deal with that trigger me like not being heard, feeling helpless or insignificant, stem from treating myself this way. I don't listen or hear myself much of the time; in fact the symptoms of my eating disorder involve actively denying myself. I treat myself as insignificant and helpless. And then, to compound the effect, I tell myself I'm a drama queen by saying it out loud. I say things like:
"He's not going to want to be around someone who's always complaining about stuff. You need to be more upbeat if you want [so and so] to want to be around you."
"Quit complaining, your problems aren't that bad."
"Yeah, cuz that's the least of your problems."
At which point it devolves into me calling me names, and one part of me ceasing to identify with the whole and creating an entirely new ego problem that, when perpetuated in just the right environment sends me back to restricting, obsessing, and the binge/purge cycle. I even worry a bit for having this so public because what are people going to think of me knowing that I, too, have problems. This is a private matter and should be resolved in private - right, cuz that worked so well the first time around. 

So, on the one hand, I have this darkness struggling toward the light, fighting to get out of my soul, and on the other hand I have this ego that doesn't want to acknowledge the existence of the darkness in me. But what's the worst that can happen? That I expose myself as human, develop actual intimacy between my actual self and the selves of persons whom I care about? That I move forward with my life and stop trying to deny true things in order to please "people"? That I never, ever have to have another experience wherein I deny my right to express my thoughts until it's too late and I have to completely cut someone I care about from my life?

How is all that bad again?

*You know, because you can't love more than one person at a time... /sarc
**It is important to note, however, that others will suffer in silence because you refused to speak out.
***First, if you don't know what that is, I can't help you; second, it's a lot harder to deal with low blood sugar when you're out of the habit of starving yourself for extended periods of time. 

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