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more puzzling about Yellow

January 27, 2013

Ruminating about my (imaginary) sparkly yellow car, I caught myself thinking that it was kind of ridiculous. That’s why I liked it.

But the word ‘ridiculous’ keeps popping up when I think of things I feel strongly drawn to doing. In my mind’s ear, I hear my mother admonishing me, “you can’t do that! It’s ridiculous!” The word in this context is equivalent to ‘crazy, stupid, unthinkable, disgraceful’.

To drain those words of their power over me, I thought about replacing ‘ridiculous’ with words that mean the opposite of ridiculous, but I couldn’t think of any. I grabbed my thesaurus, hoping for antonyms. There were only synonyms, but a bunch of them were rather intriguing:

“frivolous; incredible, astonishing, fantastic, outlandish, queer; droll, amusing”

 

I looked each of them up in MW11:

Frivolous = 2b. Marked by unbecoming levity.

Incredible = 2. Amazing, extraordinary.

Astonishment = 2. A cause of amazement or wonder.

Fantastic = 2. Marked by extravagant fantasy or extreme individuality; eccentric. 3. Excellent, superlative.

Outlandish = 1. Of or relating to another country; foreign. 2a. Strikingly out of the ordinary. 2b. Exceeding proper or reasonable limits or standards.

Queer [origin unknown, 1508] = 2b. Eccentric, unconventional.

Droll = Having a humorous, whimsical, or odd quality. Drollery = whimsical humor.

Amusing = Diverting, entertaining.

 

What if my mother-introject uses incredulity to hide from me what her issues really are? Not just levity, but ‘unbecoming’ levity. Not just fantasy, but fantasy to an ‘extravagant’ degree. Limits and standards exist to rein us in; therefore, exceeding them is inherently unseemly. Eccentricity, unconventionality, whimsy are never appropriate.

Why not?

+++

Today I came up with “Yellow = taking myself seriously”. That’s a good place to start, but it misses the mark because it sounds/feels like dreary duty. ‘Here is this onerous thing that’s very important, so you better do it correctly!’ It’s a very SJ sentiment, as a matter of fact. And my mother is an SJ (as I’m sure Mrs. Nocerino, my mother’s own introject, who I also sometimes hear in my head, was too).

My next try was “Yellow = believing in myself”. I hadn’t even finished writing that thought down when I could hear someone admonishing me for being ‘indulgent’, as if that is obviously terrible and unthinkable.

+++

I don’t really know how to ‘believe in myself’. I guess it could mean being gentle with myself, being kind, not being disparaging.

I’m not there yet. Yesterday I realized that I began my business with editing first, and writing second, because I was too afraid to commit to writing wholeheartedly. I thought I was already good at editing, so I should start with that. Even though, I feel like I’m a good writer, but I guess I don’t really believe it.

I was quite harsh with myself yesterday. I called myself mean names; I made fun of myself. In the privacy of my own head, I felt stupid and contemptible.

+++

I’ve been thinking about that category of five letters I’ve sent to people about relationships that were about to end. I wrote that I should continue to send those letters, because I’m honoring what those people meant to me. Today, I perceive nuances I missed. Today, I realize those letters have been a way to prove that I existed: I had a relationship with someone, therefore I’m real; I’m not imaginary.

These letters have been a way to try to ‘earn my keep’ in the world. If I can write a beautiful letter, that might have value to someone else; maybe I’ll be allowed to continue existing.

The very last letter I sent? I’ve never actually had a personal relationship with the person I sent the letter to. They are part of my extended family of origin, but they are enough older that we are different generations. I idolized them growing up; I have no reason to think they even noticed me. My parents didn’t like this other person. I felt myself to be very similar to this other person, so the more unkind and disapproving my parents were of this person’s behavior, the more I felt I had to hide from my parents who I really was. There came a time in my life when we were both adults (me, newly), and I think I really could’ve benefited from connecting with them. And I might have tried. Except that someone else intervened, telling me that this person I admired thought I was ‘a pathetic loser’ (the exact words they used). That the two of them agreed that I sucked, and had laughed about it. I was crushed. It didn’t occur to me at the time that the intervening person probably had an agenda; that friends don’t relay information like that back. It was years later before I realized the person I admired may not have ever said any such thing. But the damage had been done. Every time I thought about approaching that person, I feared they thought I was worthless and stupid. I was terrified they would make a big scene, so everyone could point at me and laugh at my delusions of thinking anyone would want to be my friend.

So anyway, I wrote this letter recently, saying, I’ve always admired you. Here’s why I didn’t approach you. I think we have stuff in common.

And I’ve been terrified that they are going to respond. Even though the chances are exceedingly low. If I do get a response, I’ve been wondering if I should even open it. Or should I open it at the post office, so if it’s terrible, I don’t have to bring it home.

Because what I honestly expect this person to say? (If they respond, which I’m pretty sure that they won’t bother) is that they did think I was a pathetic loser all those years ago, and they still think I am.

No matter how many times I tell myself that I don’t believe I’m a pathetic loser, I still feel trumped by this other person’s opinion. Which I’ve only heard from someone else. Who was not my friend.

So I guess that means that deep down I still hate myself. I still feel worthless and stupid.

On April 11, 2002, during a counseling session, I had a lightbulb moment where I realized, viscerally, that I was born good, so I didn’t have to earn my way into the world. I didn’t have to keep ‘earning my keep’; I started out good, and I was always good since then.

Sometimes I even believe it. But not consistently. Not all the way down. Because here I am today, almost 11 years later, and I’m still working on it.

+++

Two days ago, I was having a better day. It occurred to me that the person I admired could have approached me at any time. They could have expressed interest directly to me in getting to know me better. They could have noticed that I was having some of the same problems with my parents that they had with my parents (and possibly their own parents). They could have offered to help me.  They could have defended me when I wasn’t there.

I think having an ally in my family of origin would have made a huge difference. I had a sometime-ally, who deserted me whenever it suited their purposes. They did in fact join up with other people to laugh at me for being pathetic and stupid. I never made that connection before now.

To think I thought that my siblings were sharks, but this other person was trustworthy, even when they were actually meaner to me than my siblings were. I was able to rise above whatever it is that my brother and my sister think of me (for the most part); I’ve known they were mistaken. But with this other person, I thought they knew the real me, therefore, they were telling me uncomfortable things ‘for my own good’?

Wait a minute. I had a boyfriend who did the same thing, but for years now, I’ve recognized that his behavior was emotionally abusive. How is this any different? It isn’t.

Don’t abusers try to separate you from the people that care about you? Well, I had a bunch of abusers, and they were all trying to separate me from everyone. And it worked. I’ve always felt like an alien, stranded on a strange planet.

+++

I need to learn how to see what’s really there, not what other people tell me is there. My own experiences of the world and of myself need to come first; everything else will grow out of that.

Maybe that is Yellow’s message: Trust Myself.

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Siderea permalink
    January 27, 2013 21:11

    Two observations:

    1) The word “ridiculous” means, literally, “worthy of ridicule”. The use of it that way by your mother qualifies as a covert threat: “if you do that, then I will ridicule you.” It’s not merely a statement that some course of action is in some way bad, it is a statement of contempt for the person who takes that action, and a declaration of willingness to attack anyone who disagrees with them.

    The fact your mother disapproved or disliked something is far less interesting to me than the fact she scorned you (or maybe anyone?) who disagreed.

    Myself, I don’t ridicule people. Not to chastise them and not in fun. I will disagree with people vigorously, even shame them if I feel they have done something terribly wicked, but I see no virtue in ridiculing.

    2) “I had a lightbulb moment where I realized, viscerally, that I was born good, so I didn’t have to earn my way into the world. I didn’t have to keep ‘earning my keep’”

    Do you realize that that implies you have a belief that starts “if I am good, then…” and concomitantly, another that starts “if I am not good, then…”?

    • January 27, 2013 22:25

      I didn’t think to look up ‘ridiculous’ itself, so my thoughts went in a different direction. But yes, my mother was contemptuous of many things, not just stuff I did. She destroyed my sister’s faith in her own artistic talent, after my sister, circa age 8, used the ‘wrong’ colors in a painting.

      On the second part, I guess you’re right. Except that, realistically, I don’t usually feel I can say, “if I am good then”. It’s still, “if I’m not good, then … the world ends. And it really hurts me personally.”

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