+IS IT ‘WRONG’ TO WANT TO MATTER?

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This blog originated three years ago next month.  In its beginning I never thought about censoring what I wrote here.  I wrote with passion then.  I wrote believing in what I had to say as it expressed what I was learning.  I believed that what I had to say had value to myself and to other severe infant-child abuse survivors.  I wrote with hope.

Today?  I could almost say that more than 100% of the time I make a decision that what I could write here on any given day has no value to anyone.  Somewhere along the line in time I crossed an inward line of self-judgment that keeps me from freely expressing myself here because I can’t find any value in what I think during most of my days.

Self-judgment.  Self censorship.  I don’t even know where that came from, or when it entered my blog writing process – but I do know it’s here.  Somewhere along the line I began to believe that life is too complex, too complicated, for me or for anyone else to have any ‘answers’ about anything.  Therefore if there are no answers then there is no value in anything I have to say?  Evidently I believe that…..

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I do think it is hard to self-examine one’s beliefs – at least it is hard for me to do this.  In this blog’s beginning I did not worry about feeling vulnerable or about being open to criticism.  I did not worry about saying something ‘wrong’.  I did not worry about ‘making mistakes’.  I did not worry about any reader judging me.  I had confidence.  I did not judge myself.

My guiding thought seems to be, “If I don’t have anything useful (positive) to say then it is best I don’t say anything at all.”  This blog is therefore beginning to be full of “nothing to say.”  Which does leave me thinking about words words words.

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My daughter, who lives 1,700 miles away from me in the north, told me on the phone yesterday about difficulties she had with her day yesterday due to difficulties her little son, who just turned 2 last Sunday, had with HIS day.  I think mostly due to the hour change in time which is makes a HUGE difference to a little person’s schedule, the start of the day followed into difficulties all the way down the line for the little person.

By the end of the day when his mother picked him up from daycare he was in tears – the stiff-as-a-board yelling like there is no tomorrow kind of tears.  Momma couldn’t get him to even bend his body enough to strap him into his car seat for the ride home.

Throughout the conversation with my daughter I found myself telling her that for all the experiences her son has through a very busy day, he is at a disadvantage because he has no words to TELL her what he is feeling – or why.  At the same time I mentioned this I realized he ALSO has, therefore, no words to THINK himself about his own life.  Imagine that!  No words.

I also know from remembering the growth and development of my own children that when my grandson does grow a vocabulary large enough to begin to TALK about the complexities of his own life that he will not censor what he says or thinks.  When does that self-censorship process enter the language-using process?  And once it does, what purpose does it serve?

Certainly this child will, as all children do, first go through the stage of chattering constantly.  I remember going through the stage with my children of helping them understand that they do not need to SPEAK every word that they THINK.  But what an amazing step in human development it is to be able to use language!  What a miracle!

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And then, as I can see so clearly now for myself, there can come a time when as an adult one can judge nearly every thought that goes through one’s mind.  Too many words?  Too many thoughts?  Too many of the ‘wrong’ thoughts?  How do I really know what I think – or what I might be able to say, to write – is NOT productive?

Certainly nobody in my entire childhood ever cared about what I had to say.  Nobody cared about what I felt.  Given that terrible severe abuse was ongoing throughout all of my childhood, I never learned THEN that there was any benefit whatsoever about being able to talk about myself to anyone else.

This is tied to what I find myself thinking about quite a bit lately:  What is it about my being in the world that really matters or has value to anyone else?  On this level my self-judgments are about far more than what I think or say – the judgments are about what I do, what I am doing in a day, what I can do – and most importantly the judgments are about what GOOD I have to offer to anybody else.

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I realized yesterday that the great difficulties I experience with being disappointed are directly tied to words I use such as ‘depression’, ‘ sadness’ and ‘loneliness’.  I realized that because I live alone in a very limited small life, I most often feel I lack the ability to MATTER to anyone.

As a mother, for the 35 years of my life I had children under age 18 in my home to take care of, I never thought about things in this way.  Of course what I did MATTERED.  I was a mother who was raising my children.  Anything else I did along the way paled in comparison to the important impact I always believed that I made regarding the short- and the long-term well-being of my children.

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I have been working outside in my garden in recent days as the weather warms.  What I do matters to my plants.  Caring for my chickens, dog, 2 cats and parakeet matter to them.  But what of human beings?

I realized that the struggles I had with the cancellation of the Congo drum group events I had planned (scan back for recent posts) was mostly about my frustration with having thought I could do something useful that could matter to other people in some small way.  This is no different than what I wanted for my writing efforts on this blog.  It is no different for the hopes I had for writing a book about the traumas of my infancy and childhood.

I am limited financially and emotionally and physically in many ways that keep me living a quiet life – which I DO need.  Yesterday I found myself wondering if I don’t have some kind of ancient memory in my DNA that reminds me of what it was like to live intimately in community with other people.  Loneliness was probably unheard of in those days – un-experienced, un-thought of, and therefore not an experience to be expressed in words.

In today’s world with 7-billion of us on this earth, and in this American culture I live in, it seems to be that ‘independence’ has led to isolation and compartmentalization of experience – it is so easy to live in ‘pieces’ while being deprived of the experience of finding oneself mattering in the bigger picture of the ‘whole’.

Unless, I suppose, one can be creative enough to find some way to connect in social circles.  Me?  A part of a social circle?  What does THAT mean?

A big part of the ongoing abuse I suffered was, as I have mentioned here many times before, about extreme isolation from EVERYONE – my siblings, my father, any other relatives, and from any hope of friendship (except for a very brief time spent in Brownies).  My grandson lives a very very social life.  He is loved and tenderly attended to by his parents, by their friends, and spends most of his days immersed in a social environment of day care.  He is being created to be a social being.

Given that the species of humanity IS a social species – my grandson is being given very real advantages that I never, never had.  Once I left home when I was 18 – I began – through force of circumstance – to PRETEND to myself and to everyone else that I had a single clue about what being a social being in a social world was all about.

Over the years these efforts have exhausted me.  This doesn’t mean I have ever stopped having social needs.  That I can no longer experience the ‘social’ experiences that I did even as a mother raising my children, and given the fact that I have no mate and am not likely at my age of 60 to EVER again have a mate, and given a whole LOT of very real limitations of place and finances, etc. – I really don’t know how I am going to find a way to MATTER to anyone except, of course to my children and friends I am closest to.

Does it help me to begin to clarify in words that what could so easily be named depression, sadness, frustration, disappointment, loneliness is ACTUALLY directly tied to my sense of not mattering on the bigger SOCIAL level?  Do I feel any ripples I might make in the universe are so infinitesimally tiny that NOBODY but God will ever notice?

Does any of this matter?  Is there a solution?  Can I find it?  Can I stop censoring my writing because I have THESE thoughts and feelings?

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*ABOUT OUR TESTS AND DIFFICULTIES

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10 thoughts on “+IS IT ‘WRONG’ TO WANT TO MATTER?

  1. Dear linda, you are SO courageous! I’ve often thought so. To speak of those fears of being vulnerable. I want to stay hidden in many ways – I developed a pretend self in order to survive childhood – some of the time I was aware of it, some not.
    With practice its harder to break this down and find the true self but I will do it. I feel that your blog has helped me hugely on this road so far – especially to be less afraid to do it.
    You are so caring – and its so good and wonderful to see how you talk about your grandson with such empathy. I really like what you say about parenting:
    “it is up to the parents to apologize sincerely and appropriately to the child” – absolutely and thank goodness for growing awareness about children.
    When I read your post about your grandson’s bad day I was sick in bed having had a bit of a bad day thinking: at least I know my bad day/ feelings etc will be over – but at his age he doesn’t know about that!
    Sometimes tho with depression, we do get a feeling that its unending or just don’t remember better times.. But luckily we do have good days and must hold them – so that part of us remembers.

    Thank you so much for your caring response! I really do feel that time and distance don’t matter – we really are there for each other! I’ve been holding Monica in my thoughts too – another special person!

    Lots of hugs from SA!!
    Xx

    • Hum…. False self in childhood – this really has me thinking!

      Can you track backwards as a child to see when this false self seems to have appeared?

      xoxo

      • I think around 4 but maybe earlier. The 4 roles of kids in dysfunctional families: the hero, the scapegoat,
        The lost child and the mascot. I was lost child and mascot to my mother and lost child and scapegoat in father’s.
        These kids all have different ways of coping. The only way to survive emotionally was to do this. I think I was 4 because
        That was the time of greatest stress – as before my mother was distracted from me. So I escaped her needs – but mustve
        Been lost child earlier.. I don’t remember much.
        Xx

  2. Just by saying these feelings is so important and helpful to readers. Its amazing – when I read your post yesterday Linda, I’d been connecting with a deep sense of shame I have about my feelings, constantly criticising myself
    For thoughts, feelings and too much, too little – basically criticising my right to be in the world. My therapist talks about just ‘being’ and valuing myself for just being. So hard to know what this means or what this is like. I realise
    My sense of self value had no chance to grow in my environment for just being – I created a sense of value around caring for mother, making myself invisible at Dads house etc.
    It is absolutely an essential human experience to want to matter and have joy in the purpose you were created for. I was listening to a sermon by Tim Keller of redeemer presby church in new york last night. I have an mp3 player
    – great invention – often listen as I go to sleep – keller has a soothing voice too :)! Anyway, his sermon: does God control everything was so helpful and cheering. It was about choices and happenings in life and how God has the ultimate
    Plan and tho our choices and life events matter – we will ultimately do His purpose because He puts that in us! This is so comforting to me somehow because I can allow myself to matter – until I believe it.

    Its amazing how your posts help me because then I know someone else knows what its like and funny how sometimes I’m going through similar things. Its hard to understand from e technology too about how another feels, what they mean.
    E comms can be distancing cos of this and I kind of feel that its another part of our fragmented post modern societies. I’ve sometimes not posted here cos I felt maybe I should hold back because it is your blog.. But at the same time we can learn
    So much from each other.
    Also, I feel that it is your blog, so you are allowed to decide whether to put up someone else’s post.. Or not.

    This blog is for you and that is very good! And its for others, good to. Valuable and valid..
    Just some thoughts.. Xx

    • I ALWAYS WELCOME comments from others here! Only when I deem them attacking and negative do I not post them – but otherwise this is not a blog for my words only – by any means!

      Thank you so much for writing! To know that dear you all the way over in South Africa and I can communicate with all kinds of other people in this way — I think — is a wondrous miracle, another part of God’s plan because He wishes his children — all of humankind — to unite in love with each other as friends around the globe!!

      I struggle with my inner shame to post something like I did yesterday. It takes courage to overcome that sense of STOPPING myself with judgments.

      Never did I receive, as I mention, one single affirmation through love as a child for the whole 18 years I lived at home. I witness how my grandson is loved – and even though I greatly loved my children and showed it – there is something so unique and educational to me personally about witnessing how this next generation is being parented in such a naturally and entirely POSITIVE way!

      I found myself saying to a friend yesterday, “Parents should ALWAYS be on the side of their children. If they can’t do that, they should not have children. If, which is not uncommon, a minor mistake is made it is up to the parents to apologize sincerely and appropriately to the child so that repair to their loving relationship is made.”

      Parents always on the side of their children!!

      Not to be misunderstood as encouraging inappropriate dependencies in the kids or anything else. I mean this just this way.

      Yesterday I also received some feedback on the first 2 book chapters (I posted the links to them for you in a comment awhile back) – and those comments helped again fan the flickering embers of my belief that I can successfully complete my first book.

      THAT ‘helping others’ is my greatest desire — and yet is SO HARD to believe in myself enough to complete that task.

      Often people say to me that writing the book will “help you so much!” And to that I say NO!!

      The only thing at this point that will help me about writing that book is the self knowledge and affirmation for myself that I actually DID IT!!

      I know we are not, in God’s eyes, loved for what we do or don’t do. And yet I believe God is ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE, and always wishes for us to fulfill our potential and our soul’s passion – because God gave us those things when He MADE US!

      Thank you so much for writing!!! Please, write anything you wish here, dear Gingercat! We are all one another’s support, family of the heart, teachers of one another — we are one another’s GIFTS from God, also!

      Sending much LOVE!! Linda – alchemynow

      • And by the way, congratulations on the chapters! Yes it will be an amazing achievement for you to just get it done – and you are doing it in bite size chunks so when you feel overwhelmed just do something
        Fun, remember how well you have progressed too. This blog initself is an achievement. I graduated my masters last year – a big hurdle and it wasn’t as personal as what you are doing.
        You write so well and anytime you need some affirmation let us know.. Everyone needs that – especially those starved of it in early years.
        While I was writing my masters I did want to give up too and went through all the self doubts.. But to just do it and finish something was so important..
        Much love

          • It’s anthropology! But I’ve always had an interest in psychology too.. people and what they do and why. I really was so interested to see that you have done art therapy – wow I’d love to do that!

            I hope you got rid of the stink? 🙂 It’s always good to attack anything fishy..

            Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. My brief comment is that ‘what you have to say, DOES matter!’ and has mattered to the over 100,000 people who have read this blog. Don’t despair and DO say what is in your heart. You have a wonderful heart and great insight which helps many. All my love, your sister Cindy.

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