Fooling Myself?

The young therapist told me today to add some daily “mastery and pleasure activities” to my daily schedule.  These are fun interludes that remind us of what we love and what we have accomplished.  Apart from not really keeping a daily schedule, I told her as far as a satisfying mastery activity I have this daily writing session that ends with a press of the publish button.  

I am always satisfied and feeling somewhat better when I press the button.  Not that every post is a gem, or even worth more than a cursory glance, some may go to disturbing places, but the exercise of getting the post ready for the “public” is something I’ve mastered.  By the time I hit “post” the writing is as clear and easy to read as I can make it.  At its best this blahg is my higher self giving good counsel to my regular day to day self, reminding me of who I am trying to be, how far I have come, how far I still have to go.

A few weeks ago an old friend wondered why I spend so much time tapping these posts (it’s really less than an hour a day, I would think) and suggested it is far healthier to interact socially than to live in my mind as much as I do these days.  He’s right about the social interaction– this online social universe is actually a nightmare world of mostly disconnection and narcissism.  I explained to him that the illusion of a social life is not why I write here.    A week or two later he read a couple of posts that he admired, that touched him.  He wrote to single them out.  

I gave him the back story of one, Listening, and described the inspiration, a fellow very active on social media who anxiously reads the blahg whenever we have some kind of trouble (this latest round goes back months, including several long, patient, useless discussions about the issues, as with F before the end, and there are several posts related to it).  He was also struck by the one about madness from a few months back, which was also inspired by my faltering friendship with this same chap.  

The night after the second seder, as I waited for sleep to come, I had  a choice: spend an hour figuring out how to send the fellow the precise kiss-off he earned and deserved (a waste of time and energy), or trying to get to the deeper question involved — understand and digest the harm done to me and process my feelings about it.  It is an important exercise, understanding my feelings and getting past the hurt to react as nonviolently as I am able.

Writing made me think about it more deeply, make connections, allowed me to take something positive out of the otherwise distasteful experience.  Looking beyond the personal to the larger principle involved was helpful to me, as was the exercise of making it clear to a reader, and in the process, more clear to myself.  I think the piece could be helpful to others as well in laying out the human issues involved– the damage of not being listened to, the fruitlessness of one-sided relationships for the person on the wrong side.

 
I understand that this fellow was rarely, if ever, listened to, except by me at times.  I appreciate that things are not black and white, that he has fine qualities, a sense of humor, decency and so forth.  Still, individual acts and failures to act, particularly when they come one after another, form a pattern that speaks much louder than promises and conditional apologies.  Hitler had it rough, but if I had a time machine I’d go back and break every bone in his body if I could.   Maybe go back earlier and make sure his dear mother had an abortion.

My friend and I, I hardly needed to remind him, had it rough growing up, but we help when we can and try not to hurt when we can’t help.  We don’t build a fanatical political party and death camps and all that other fucked up shit.  We don’t leave people we care about hanging. To those who can’t help being hurtful, good riddance.

 
Our first duty is to preserve ourselves, an extra challenge for those of us who were forced to learn on our own to become our own protectors.  Sometimes quietly subtracting an unwitting underminer is the most positive thing we can do for ourselves on a given day.  
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