Saturday, May 2, 2009

ambivalent dejection 101

not much has changed since last entry-- i have been purposefully absent both from this space and to an extent, from the self -- since i see no reason to follow the same path with no new direction or insight. It was suggested by one whom I consider a very good friend that sometimes the wanting, waiting, trying is too much but better off we are to just let go and wait in attentive silence -- that's what I understood him to mean. But I only want connection and relationship -- I'm not what I DO that gets in the way -- i only want a relationship like i experienced at least once before -- or at least I had a glimpse of before. All that now seems beyond reach and there are some who offer explanations why it's out of reach (boiling down to i screwed up too bad too many times and just don't measure up). Yes, in my head I know such judgments likely say more about those people than me, but just try to not believe of it. I was raised (like many others to be sure) to believe that priests are infallible, that parents are almost as infallible, that we are responsible for everything we did or had any part in -- in other words, a religious person who tells me it is my sins and shortcomings, and that these sins are further amplified by not accepting total responsibility for everything in my life that has distanced me from god, including me being on the receiving end of my parents' behaviors -- there is still that young, scared and weak part of me that believes him. After all, did I not protest or make it stop? Did I not ask for help? Did I not run away? I did try once but my sister told and my mother first cried that if I left she couldn't handle my dad and when I still tried to leave beat me -- I guess that's her self-preervation. I recall that quite clearly - I was in 2d grade and somehow -- the power of magincal thinking -- thought my teacher Ms. Hall could somehow help me. Did I not try to fight them off and away? -- no I did not, not really that I can recall. The only time I recall actually fighting and trying to hurt him it happened that Fr Bill, principal when I was in 4th grade, was invited to dinner, took me aside and reminded me of the comandment to honor my mother and my father, assuring me that they loved me and wanted only the best for me, and we all liked Fr Bill so much ... how could he be wrong? He's an adult AND a priest so I guess we assumed he knew everything and of course he was right. Did I never do anything to try to make it stop? Did I not ask god to kill them, to let me die, to escape? Well, yes, but asking god to kill one's parent's has to be a sin. Did I not try to kill myself? Did I not take as many substances as possible, whatever I could get my hands on? Was this just to avoid the feelings, to avoid acting on other worse behaviors, an attempt to kill myself (no, not all the time, after just so many efforts you give up and focus on numbness). Did I not hurt myself in any number of ways whenthe drugs weren't enough, to numb the pain and while, ironically, reassure myself that I was able to feel? Why I would want to be able to feel the asme time I tried so ahrd to be numb is a paradox beyond me. All this I see can be -- is? -- sinful in thought and deed, perhaps barriers to god relationship -- yet mostly all of this stuff ended long ago. "Long ago" being relative I can say most these behaviors are far behind; if nad when they present themselves now it's a good reason, they do the job, and that's that. Just survival tools -- don't we all have them? -- like old friends who make sure things don't go too far.
My friend says God has pretty low standards -- but there are standards nonetheless. I prefer to believe my friends who are religious/spiritual persons though not priests, who know of some of my badness or whatever it is and don't judge me, who tell me all things are possible with god; that the priests who say in so many words or not that I'm not welcome are wrong. But what if these priests are correct and the empty, alone silence is god showing his agreement and like judgmnet?

I'm starting to think perhaps this is one reason the Catholic church fails to hold its members. I was a young child, involved in activities I didn't understand, had no volitional role in, no power to change. Intellectually I know I'm still that stupid little girl in many ways when it comes to those things; that I wasn't wrong for wishing them dead; for thinking of ways to kill them; for self-harming (actually not so sure about that last one). Socially I know nothing of the sort. If one's mother takes a child for an abortion and the child has no idea what's going on or what the "problem" is has that girl sinned and worse? I learned a lot in 13 years of catholic school, including mass every Friday in grade school -- all of it hard to refute on an emotional, feeling, "knowing" level. How did I ever feel a god relationship with all this stuff? Maybe it's ignorance, denial, of things now I know, dividing me from self and god. Maybe I should leave well enough alone, but is it realy well enough? I want and feel a need to to go to church and this is the single one thing that makes it (what is "it?") harder, leaves me feeling more isolated, alone, like a leper might feel. I can't go to "their" church or participate in "their" mass because I might contaminate some other. "Theirs" because it is invitation only.
Confession -- why have it if it's not heard? I grew up with that group (maybe we all did) forced to confession not really knowing what sin was so we made stuff up and lied in confession -- ironic so many years later, needing to speak the truth as we know it, we learn our whole life is sin.
And I don't understand how or what to do different -- I'm here waiting, listening, asking, just being -- do I ask too much? DO I want too much? Should I quit talking or asking for help figuring all this out? Should I just shut up and pretend there's nothing amiss, maybe give up on participation in mass, settling for lurking, a bystander in the church?
I know i can be -- perhaps just am - a pain in the ass, and people -- god even -- maybe just had enough. Am I whiny? I don't think so, but maybe. If I'm whiny tell me so I can quit. If I'm dense, tell me and I will talk less and study more. If I'm not up to god's low standards, tell me and I will try to bring myself up to standard -- assuming that's an option. If I want what I cannot have, what I don't deserve, tell me so I can try some other way to peace and meaning.
"Want" wasn't in my vocabulary or ability for a long time -- "want" is a four letter word inviting violence, shame, etc. should the wrong person be aware of want. Want suggests a lack and doesn't fit the the perfect life we grew up pretending, as though our lives depended on it. I guess it didn't depend, but we thought it did. Better safe than sorry so we had no room for want. I guess we did pretty well with our story -- no one ever knew, even we had split off to protect some selves so not all of us knew either.
I return to the very real sense that with the internal divisions there is not one of me who has a good grasp of what we're about as a single person, where we came from, what we did and didn't do; trying to sort out my religious education as opposed to real life and what I believe as opposed to what I think I know is made harder by the fact we're kind of scattered mentally and emotionally. I have done the other - I denied it all and that didn't work in the long run, nor did it help with any sense of relationship or sense of connection between me, others, god, the world.

So I have digressed at length.

I can't help but feel there is a real barrier between me and god and everyone else but i don't know what's the barrier, what it's made of, how i erected it (who but me could have done it?), why it's there or how to get rid of, around or over it.
It's not so particuarly church or god so much as it is community and connection with god and with others -- really, who can live alone?

A friend says "sin gets in the way of a felt connection with God ... but I think trying too hard does too. Trying too hard to reproduce a certain satisfying feeling that we associate with "being close to God."
I've always had trouble figuring out what is my sin and what part belongs others but that I'm part of -- if that makes sense -- clearly my actions of my own volition are all mine. Where I get confused -- and the priests don't help -- are actions of others' volition and to which I was dragged -- but no, I wasn't screaming and kicking -- is my sin in not fighting? And what can I do about it now, almost 30 years later?

A friend referred me to this passage (mostly above my head): in St John’s Gospel: a realisation that what Jesus was doing was actually revealing the mendacious principle of the world. The way human structure is kept going is by us killing each other, convincing ourselves of our right and duty to do it, and therefore building ourselves up over and against our victims. What Jesus understands himself as doing in St John’s Gospel is revealing the way that mechanism works. And by revealing it, depriving it of all power by making it clear that it is a lie: “your father was a liar and a murderer from the beginning”. That is how the “prince” – or principle – of this world works.
I can't pretend to understand this but i have a sense that it does make sense --
So what we get in St John’s Gospel is a clear understanding that the undoing of victimage is not simply a liturgical matter, it’s not simply a liturgical fulfilment. Jesus is substituting himself at the centre of what the liturgical tradition was both remembering and covering up, namely human sacrifice, therefore making it possible for us to begin to live without sacrifice. And that includes not just liturgical sacrifice, but more importantly the human mechanism of sacrificing other people so that we can keep ourselves going. In other words, what Jesus was beginning to make possible was for us to begin to live as if death were not, and therefore for us not to have to protect ourselves over against it by making sure we tread on other people.

James Alison, An Atonement Update
So what does this mean?
Simplisticaly I think it may mean we have to be willing and open to others forgiving us, but does that mean we have to forgive ourselves? I have not a clue on how one goes about doing that ...
Forgiveness ... I think I know generally what that means. Are all things forgivable? I suppose the answer must be yes. If one feels one is unavailable to forgive all, how to deal with that? Can you make or will forgiveness? Can you act as though you forgive and so realize forgiveness through those actions, whatever they may be? AT this point I think not -- this I have tried and all it does is restore and strengthen denial and bring out those tools of self-preservation that interfere with any connection and relationship -- whether with self, others or god. If there is a division internally and some are or seem able to forgive intellectually, others emotionally, and others not at all, then what? Is it all just a bunch of crap that there could even be such divisions? No matter how crazy sounding it is, I believe we are differing parts who experienced different things at different times -- either we split up to survive (I really think so) or we're just nuts (likely the prevalent belief for all others). I really don't care which it is, or do I? If all it allows me is to be physically alive then what's the point? If it allows for a spiritual life, perhaps it has some merit. But is a spiritual life based on less than full truth of one's life a valid or worthwhile spiritual life? And if there is no spiritual life --or one that is only invalid and incomplete, founded on lies, half truths and denials -- then why bother with any of it? What is the point, where is the value, where is the god relationship if we cannot be honest for either the shame of honesty or the inability to recall, reinforced by ours years of just surviving, those things the priests would say are our sins if we talked to them again?

No comments:

About Me

houston, tx, United States

Blog Archive

My Blog List