The peculiar repetitive nature of this pastiche might be considered to be "bad" writing; but rather than going back through it and revising it to straighten it out into some kind of linear narrative, I've decided to leave it as it is, because the way it is seems to more accurately reflect the state-of-mind I was in throughout the month, as I jumped back and forth, again and again, to the same obsessive thoughts as I tried to work out the difficult problems presented to me. Each of the repetitions represents another revisit to those ideas that I had previously "decided" but later seemed to have forgotten about or else needed to reinforce, to convince myself of again.
I've explained this before on a number of occasions, but it bears saying again here: My work is a description of an inner landscape, which corresponds imperfectly with a real world. When I'm writing, I always think I've got the real-world aspect right, and it usually turns out that I do; but occasionally I get it very wrong, colored by my own internal drama; and, since my primary purpose is to document the internal drama, the real-world "facts" are not so important. You can think of my work as, at the same time, both an ongoing documentary, like a Ken Burns' series on PBS, and a semi-fictive account (based on reality) of what might be real world phenomena (which basically is what everyone's interpretation of the real world is). Therefore, the 'facts", in all my pastiches, but especially in this particular one, may or may not be "correct", the external psychologies may be mere projections of my own. I always think I got it right, but how can we ever really know for sure? This is decidedly not the real world I'm describing here and any similarity to persons living or dead are more or less coincidental. You will know what I mean if you understand how the human mind actually works.
Royce asked me to come over early on New Year's Day, to prevent him from drinking. This was, I later concluded, just another way of using me. He crossed the line, because he really didn't need me to come over for that reason and was just testing the limits, I think, to see how far he could get me to go, or to find an excuse to drink, if I did not show up early.
I'm getting tired of his whining, and especially of the way it's slowly transitioning into manipulation. And I'm really getting tired of his lack of willingness to man up and face his problems like a mature adult without resorting to either alcohol or a crybaby approach to life. Yeah, he's an alcoholic? So what? We all have problems.
I think he may have sneaked out on New Year's, with the excuse to shovel snow, and had a few drinks; and, if he did, then he lied to me the day before on the phone when he said he had no alcohol and no chance of getting any since it would be a holiday. It's just a feeling I have, but it would account for his not so subtle shift of attitude when he came back inside.
And it would account for his apparent deteriorization during dinner. He didn't eat, but only sat there and tried to participate in that lame, mawkish way that Dad used to, which always made me uncomfortable and wanting to get away from him. That's the same way I feel about Royce now: He's insinuating himself into my life, and I don't like it.
Every day from now on that he doesn't call will be a little victory for me. I really don't want to have anything to do with him any more. I don't agree with how he lives his life, I don't like the way he trivializes my ideas, after he has done the opposite (on the phone), which, despite his apparent sincerity, I'm beginning to see as merely solicitous.
He ropes me in so that he can subsequently turn around and criticize my opinions later on? No thank you. He started doing that on New Year's Day, very cautiously testing me by disagreeing with me in a deceptively mild way, which escalated slightly after he returned back inside after having been out shoveling snow (and secretly drinking).
Overall, I don't like what's going on. I don't like the way I feel after having spent a day over there. I don't like how long it takes me to recover. Even if this were all only in my head, I still wouldn't like it; but it's not in my head, it's in their heads, and I don't like the transferential way that I absorb their psychologies and have to deal with them.
I don't like the way that they, especially Kim, but Royce too in more of an expectant, less overtly stated way, insist that I am invited over, as a standing invitation and then turn around and abandon me and make me feel as if I am a burden they have to put up with, entertain, when they would rather go off to bed after dinner. Time to start leaving early.
I don't like the way that Kim recruited Ray to stay up with me while she went to bed; not that it bothered me that she went to bed, nor that Royce had retired much earlier, but just the fact that she felt she had to, that I am a kind of burden to put up with, that I must be dealt with--I don't know, maybe I'm just being overly sensitive; but I don't like it.
All of that while insisting and expecting that I act like one of the family, though, at the same time expecting to have to treat me like a guest. I don't like the mixed messages I get from them (that one being one of the most prevalent and mildest). In short, I don't like the general pathological psychology of their lives. I'm fed up with them.
An example of how this conflicting message plays out: When I first went over there on New Year's, Royce was in the living room watching tv. On at least six different occasions, he complained about not having gotten enough sleep the night before and that I should choose whatever I wanted to watch on tv because he'd probably be dozing off.
Then, when he left the room for a while, I chose a movie to watch. Previously, we had been watching a Barney Miller marathon. When he returned, he asked me what happened to Barney Miller. I said that he told me to watch whatever I wanted. He let it pass, but then went on to criticize the movie and my choice of it, multiple times.
This is what they do to me, a lot: The invite me to do whatever, encourage it, and then turn around and snipe at me for doing it; often it's merely innuendo, but often enough it's outright, though disguised as joking, criticism. They both do it, and I don't need this little game they play. I don't want to be the foil in their little psychodrama.
This is all, maybe, as much if not more so, a reflection of my own psychology as theirs: I'd rather not participate in their little "society", especially in the current social experiment (step nine of the twelve-step effort) that Royce is currently amending via his own rationalizations to fit his own less than effective version of what making amends means.
Suppose that he who shall not be named came to him and said, "Royce, I've treated you badly and I want to make amends to you." What would he want him to do to make amends? Would he think it was enough that he sincerely apologized to him? Or would he insist that his amends include paying him back the money he owes him?
And, as far as I'm concerned, if I live out the rest of my life never having been paid the money Royce owes me, I won't be affected in the least little way; but he will. I've learned my lesson. But he hasn't, and he will carry that burden with him forever and it, along with all the others he's carrying, will continue to weigh him down and compromise him.
All of the rationalization he's doing to justify his faulty amends-making strategy will prevent him from putting his problems behind him. He who shall not be named will always haunt him until he is able to write off the debt and divorce the guy's name from the general application it has as a social label. (It's a common word.)
[My brother refuses to buy or use any product with this name on it, including pens; and he rankles when the word is used in its common form. Just as, in other issues, he hates Jane Fonda for her antiwar activities during the Vietnam era, being incapable of understanding how she acted, not against him, but for his own real interests as a grunt.]
There are many, many examples like this of how he allows his prejudiced point of view to negatively color the personal world he creates, and he readily disseminates this prejudice to anyone who will encourage or merely tolerate it. Which is fine if he did not involve me in his social nightmare; but lately he has broken through that wall.
Yeah, like you don't have any problems.
I've got lots of problems.
Like none of your business.
Oh, I see. I can tell you my problems, but you can't...
You don't have to tell me your problems. That's you're choice.
You're right. So how do you deal with your problems?
I deal with them. I don't avoid them.
I'm dealing with my problems.
Sometimes, when you don't sabotage yourself.
Yeah. I guess so. So how do you deal with your problems?
By facing up to them. I either solve them or I live with them.
So do I.
But I don't whine about them, at least not to other people.
You think I'm a whiner.
We're all whiners. That's what humans do.
Then what's wrong with me whining?
It's really all a matter of whether or not we do it publicly.
I should keep it all to myself?
I can't. I'm going crazy. I can't live with this.
You mean you don't want to. Obviously, you can.
Right. I don't want to feel like this.
Then take the drugs they prescribe for you.
I don't want to take drugs.
Maybe that's because you really do want to feel like you do.
Maybe you're afraid you won't have anything to whine about.
Why would I be afraid of that?
You won't be able to get anyone to pay attention to you.
You mean I'll be alone.
You won't be any more alone than you are now.
That won't be any good. I can't stand it now.
Because I'm all alone.
Obviously, that's not true.
Okay. I feel all alone.
You feel alone even though you know you're not.
I think you feel that no one wants to include you.
Right. They don't.
That's because you created that situation.
It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You feel you're not worth knowing so you act to make it true.
You mean I have no self-worth. That's true.
So you set about to prove it, by acting badly toward people.
He often says, when we're on the phone, "Say something", meaning it as a criticism. He says he can't stand it when I'm silent. This is one of the ways he refuses to accept me the way I am. He insists that I change, in this case in order to appease his insecurity at having said something that I don't respond to, when he then thinks he said something wrong.
But, guess what? I'm not going to change. I like the way I am, and I'm not going to change myself just because people want me to. Fuck anyone who wants to try to change me. If they want me to be the same as they are, then they're the one with the problem, not me. If they want change so bad, they should change themselves. If my brother doesn't like my silences, he needs to learn how to accept others' differences.
The problem is not that I am often silent, the real problem is that he is an insecure and non-accepting person. And his non-acceptance is a projection; what he is really non-accepting of is himself. And he spreads his non-acceptance around like a virus that others catch and project back at him. He projects his self-dissatisfaction onto the world and blames anything he can latch onto for it; which is fine if that's what he wants to or has to do, living in ignorance of his own unconscious motivations, except that some portion of this dissemination involves characterizations of me:
"Hey. Hi. How are you doing?"
"That's not what I hear."
"I don't know how you could hear otherwise. Must be lies."
"Your brother says you live alone and don't talk to anyone."
[I smile broadly.] "My brother has no idea who I talk to. He has no idea who I really am or what I do. He lives in his own narrow little world that he creates for himself and makes up his beliefs to fit his own distorted needs."
I guess I encourage my brother's inaccurate conception of who I am by withholding the information he would need to make informed decisions; which is, I'm certain, wise of me, because he wouldn't make informed decisions about my life anyway because, in his programmed, prejudiced way, he would continue to use the information against me, to meliorate his own inferiority complex through a false sense of superiority.
I guess I more generally encourage a lot of the inaccurate ideas about who I am, both because of Asperger's symptoms, when I do not respond to correct inaccuracies when they pop up in conversation, preferring to allow people to wallow in their ignorance unless the conversation turns easily onto the subject (usually conversations are too distracted and distracting for me to direct them where I would like them to go), and because sometimes I prefer that people do not know the truth about me (which is usually probably also an Asperger's symptom).
For example, on Christmas Day, after dinner, when we were sitting at the table playing Scrabble and Kim was in the kitchen washing dishes and cleaning up, the Scrabble board got bumped and we had to put all the tiles back in their proper locations, which reminded me of an incident from a while ago. So I started telling the story of a girl I was dating a while back. Her brother had come home on leave from the army and the three of us went out for the evening. We went out to shoot pool and I won every game, and I could see he was starting to get mad about losing. She had warned me earlier that her brother was a hot head and didn't like to lose at games. We ended up at my place where we played Scrabble.
Kim interrupted the story from the kitchen to ask if this was when I was at Penn State. Earlier, she had interrupted to ask if this was around here, and I lied and told her, simply, no, without further explanation, because I recognized immediately what she was up to. Then, when she asked about Penn State, I told her, simply, yes, again without further explanation. Because what she was really trying to do was pry into my past to find out about my personal relationships. She'd done this same thing many times before; and, always, implicit in the line of questioning, is the assumption that she got from my brother that I never dated anyone. I know this because, a few years ago he mentioned that a woman we both knew had recently died. I said something like, "Really? I dated her once", to which he incredulously replied, "You dated someone?"
I let the remark pass, because I wasn't about to correct his erroneous opinion of me. I can't even imagine what kind of extremely warped opinion he has of my personal life to believe that I had never dated, but I really didn't want him getting any kind of inkling into that area of my personal life, for very good reason: It would give him a kind of power over me that I really don't want him to have. (If only he knew the truth.) And I lied to Kim for the very same reason, letting her think that I'd been dating the girl at Penn State; because it's none of her goddam business who I've dated, when and where. It's an aspect of my personal life that I intend to keep as private as I possibly can.
My little Scrabble story got sidetracked by Kim's nosiness and by the game play, so that she had to ask me to finish the story, which was almost pointless to begin with: The guy got pissed that I was winning by a large margin, because he and his sister had made the claim at the beginning of the game that the guy was supposed to be some kind of Scrabble whiz-kid, and he flipped the board up in the air, sending all the pieces flying. That put a quick end to the evening.
My brother and his wife are not stupid. They're relatively intelligent people. They're just locked into the psychologies of their personal, cultural, and social scripts and instincts and haven't the slightest clue as to how to break out of them; nor would they even want to if they did know. Occasionally, one or the other of them expresses a significant insight into a situation only to simultaneously express their feelings of being totally trapped in it. What it takes to follow up on personal revelations in order to create true change is drastic departure from the "way things are done", both the ways that you personally do things, and the ways that society does them. And they're not about to engage in the sort of life-changing behavior that I find invaluable in my quest for a better (more personally satisfying) kind of life. The best they can hope for is the lame social solutions that our superficial society provides:
Counseling that is pretty much ineffective, helping only the smallest percentage of "patients" (the fact that they are defined as patients in the first place goes a long way toward their ineffectiveness); abstinence programs for alcoholics (again, effective for only the smallest percentage); divorce proceedings whose sole purpose is irreconcilable and whose primary focus is pecuniary; social remedies (the extreme of which is that disgusting and disastrous practice labeled 'intervention') where "well-meaning" people poke so many noses in so many places where they don't belong for so many reason other than to actually help the people whose problems they really don't want to solve (because it gives the busybodies something to occupy their time that they would otherwise waste watching daytime soaps and would solve the problems and reduce the numbers of people who needed their "help").
Royce's life has become one of those soaps. He has gone beyond confessional, beyond apologetic, beyond "making amends", into a maudlin area of his psyche that is dark and disturbing. It's becoming an act, a performance designed to get for him what he wants or (pathologically) needs: attention, even at the high cost (self-inflicted emotional trauma) of self-denigration.
He's using (conversations with) people to distract himself away from his "loneliness". Nothing wrong with that, per se; but it will come back to bite him in the ass if he doesn't soon change the subject matter of his conversations, because most people are going to get tired of all his whining pretty quickly. (I'm tired of it already.) He needs (to learn how to; but, no, he already knows this quite well enough) engage people in more ordinary conversation, if he is to alleviate his loneliness; and he needs to find people alike unto himself, so that his ordinary, banal conversational subjects fall on welcoming ears. Because people like me are just bored to tears with his inanity. If you want to interest me in conversation, dude, start studying nuclear and cosmic physics, or psychology, or English literature.
In any case, his ego prevents him, much of the time, from being wrong or being corrected and he's always on the lookout for ways to save face when, inevitably, he is proven wrong. Meanwhile, he can get rather adamantly irritating in his stubborn refusal to admit to the possibility that he might be wrong, and he will make the most outrageous statements, fully expecting people to consider them true. Sound like anyone we know? (Our Dad.)
One reason that I don't want to deal with my brother is because I recognize that I'm a lot like him. I understand what my brother is going through because I've been through it too. When I suffer a bout of anxiety, I occasionally feel as desperate as he has been feeling (depending on the circumstances, especially when they might involve events that elicit a paranoid reaction). There is one major difference between us, though: I don't feel the need to seek help from others, especially when it requires revealing my vulnerabilities to them. I may be a whiner in my own mind, but I don't feel the necessity to impose my whine on others; in fact, I feel an imperative to keep it hidden.
When he disgusts me, I recognize in my brother a bit of self-disgust, which doesn't bother me at all when I am alone, since I'm quite comfortable with what society would consider my disgusting habits; but I would not ever choose to allow others to observe them, and when my brother allows this, it disgusts me, that he would be so lax in his personal care as to reveal this aspect of himself to others. I'm thinking here, not only of his whining, but also of his lack of basic hygiene and his personal appearance. Though I may be a disgusting slob and remain comfortable with that aspect of myself, I would never allow anyone else to see me in that way. I will always "prepare a face to meet the faces that I meet."
How much of this "odd mood" I'm in is simply me and how much of it is transference from Royce? It's impossible ever to know, of course; and it certainly is at least half only me because it started long before Christmas, although that could have been residue from Thanksgiving starting to weigh on me. In any case, some of it is.
If I must continue to have to put up with this, if they insist upon involving me, if they continue to play the "family card", then I will continue to document and publish their antics and, if they should ever find out and object about it, my "defense" (not that I should need one) is the Truman Capote defense: They know goddam well that I'm a writer, they know (or should know if they paid any kind of attention to me at all) that writing is how I orient myself toward life; if they insist on revealing their disturbed and disturbing lives to me, if they insist on transforming their experience into my own, then I am going to write about it, if for no other reason than I must purge the pathos they have transferred to me and, once committed to the written word, I'm going to use my own personal documented experience as I see fit. In short, if I must go through this ordeal of having to put up with them, and if I have to put this kind of time into sorting out all of the crap that they dump into my mind, then I might as well make something out of it, some kind of art at least. And this is exactly what I do, with all of the information and experience that comes my way that I can manage to find the motivation to document.
Everyone needs an outlet, to relieve the stress of their everyday lives. Writing is my outlet. And it's beneficial if that outlet is something that is both healthy and purposeful. Royce needs a purpose; and, as much as he would like it to be, alcohol is not a valid purpose. He needs to change his focus. Our dad chose woodcarving. I chose writing. The way Dad did and I do these things, they cannot be considered mere hobbies; Royce needs this kind of focus, something to which he can be more dedicated to than the simple idea of a hobby suggests. He needs one thing that he can do all the time, whenever he doesn't feel like anything else is going well. But I doubt that he will ever find anything.
College classroom: I come in late for the first class, after having registered late. I sit in the last row. The classroom is larger than a normal one, though not as large as the theater type, sort of a mini-theater, with the floor tapering down slightly toward the front of the room, so that the last row looks down on the rest of the room. The desks are large with tilted tops, like they would be in an art class, though this is an advanced (400 level) English lit class. Other students have large 11"x17" handout sheets that they are "drawing" on, completing an image already printed on it, but as if they are writing words (though the words are not "imaged"). I sit next to a girl, who is doing the "word-image" assignment, and I look at her paper, trying to figure out what it is we're supposed to do while trying at the same time to do it in my head. A teaching assistant walks by, sees that I do not have a paper, and goes to get me one. Meanwhile, the professor, whose attention is called to me by the teaching assistant's activity, remarks, mostly to me and the assistant, but so that the whole class can hear, that she remembers three and a half years ago when I was a promising new student who wrote all kinds of amazing creative writing assignments. She wondered whatever happened to me. [The images we're supposed to be drawing are (my esoteric) "stories".] Cut to:
Scenes at an old workplace, on the fourth floor, with Rita and Roger, both of whom (but especially Rita) are more accepting of me than they were in real life near the "end" of my employment; but I can't remember the details of this section. Cut to:
Same old worplace, on the sixth floor, working at a job that has no real purpose or description. We have nothing to do and (we only find out near the end of the day, though it is expected that we already know this, that) a big part of our job is to find things to do. No one else works in this building excep George N, another guy, and myself. I spend most of my day sleeping, and then, after George tells me that we're supposed to create our own work, I run around trying to find things that I can report to Roger at the end of the day that I have done. Most of what I do is insignificant stuff that I can exaggerate into looking important enough to have been done. Transition to:
The Monroeville Mall: I'm on an upper level, almost as if this is a high school. There are several huge old-style freight elevator double doors, the heavy kind with large hinges and wide metal bands of supporting hardware bolted across it, the kind of doors that swing out away from the elevator to allow access to it. But it's obvious that there are no elevators behind these doors because I can see through spaces at the edges where the door no longer accurately fits the frame that nothing but empty outdoor space exists beyond; and, worse, that the doors are not secured in anyway and can be readily opened, creating a dangerous situation. I stay away from the doors but am concerned that others could unwittingly open them and fall the great distance (much farther than the nominal two-floors) to the ground. Transition to:
The same area, but outdoors, as if it we're at a carnival, but during the off-season, preparing for the next season. Still the same (non-)work motive as the old work building (which we have not cut away from, but merely transitioned out of), except that I am the one in charge and I have two co-workers. None of us has anything to do, but I'm the one who should be determining what to do, and both me and my partner are worried that we should be doing something, while our third member, more of an employee than a partner type, is disconcerned and hangs out all day at a booth that is rundown and falling apart. We, the two of us who are "senior", tell the guy that he has to find work to do; but he doesn't know what to do, so I begin to instruct him, while at the same time me and the other guy makes plans as to what we will do to turn our "business" into a successful one. We tell the guy that he should be repairing the deteriorating carny booth he's been hanging out in and, especially, constructing a solid, completely safe floor atop the old rickety one that is threatening to collapse when walked upon, plunging the walker down into the abyss of nothingness that exists below it; and we further instruct him to fix up the appearance of the booth so that it is appealing to the public when the carnival season rolls around again.
The wide-open space outside the second-floor doors and the huge, gaping emptiness beneath the booth are symbols of my purposeless life. If I am to have any purpose, any meaning at all, I have to construct it myself atop the gaping "hole" that is my existence. I have to secure myself to prevent myself (and others?) from falling in. It's very obvious to me as soon as I awaken that the empty space behind the unsecured elevator doors and the huge hole, above which exists a rickety structure, are my actually meaningless life of mere constructed purpose.
But part of my problem here is that I have been (in a very modest and relative way) successful enough at what I did (providing for myself) that I don't have to work for a living any more, I can get by with all my time my own; but, as this dream indicates, I feel (somewhat) guilty about this, though not consciously, of course. I rationalize my social non-participation quite well, not to mention that my genetic predisposition supports the rationalization. Thus, another autistic symptom: lack of (social) purpose.
So I have no real purpose for my existence except the one that create for myself, whereas others (who have not been so "successful") have the purpose of working at jobs in order to earn enough money to assure their continuing survival. Oh, I know: Poor, poor me. I can laugh at myself now, but awakening out of a dream, I am not so self-assured. And, anyway, carnivals are quasi-legitimate social jobs/functions. Carnies are seen by society as only a step or two above criminals. The dream is telling me that I'm a carny, living a socially purposeless life. I may be successful in my own mind, by my own definitions, but sociable people who would see the way I live may not be so generous with their opinions as to my success, especially considering my apparent lack of purpose.
But wait! I do have a purpose. This is my purpose. Why do I always forget this? It's not a matter of purpose at all, but one of brain chemistry: I feel this way after waking up out of a long sleep, probably not so much (as I have concluded elsewhere) because my repressions are at their weakest at this time, the repressed content being closest to the surface and threatening to break out into consciousness (although I believe that there is some truth in that), but more likely because my brain chemistry is suffering from a deficit of caffeine (serotonin?); because, after I've had a single cup of coffee (and begin to write), the meaninglessness of life fades away. I am a writer. What more noble purpose could I want?
[Actually, I want to base my purpose in writing/publishing books, and maybe one day that plan will succeed; but my success now, and thus my more immediate purpose, is to write the monthly pastiches by which I express my true self and summarize my existence.]
And as much as this is a problem of brain chemistry, it is also a problem of having lost my direction over the holidays (or been diverted from it by my brother's antics, starting on Thanksgiving and gradually escalating over the following month). When I have a writing focus and (a wide variety of) plans and goals that eventuate in published projects, my purpose is well established. The problem is as much one of being distracted away from that purpose as it is one of loss of motivation. Caffeine and B vitamins provide the motivation, but nothing prevents society and the intervening world of diverse interests from interrupting my dedication to my plans and goals. If only there weren't holidays, and if only I were not distracted by all the glittering, attractive ideas and activities that I could be doing instead of writing, and if only I did not have to shift gears to deal with life's little irritations like going to the dentist, or going shopping, or cutting the grass and trimming the hedges, or... [The list is very long.]
When I have to do anything, but especially when I have to do things that involved interacting with people, I lose my dedication to my writing routine. Holidays distract me for this reason. It's a matter of not being so well able to maintain a multiple focus. I can multitask (when I am in the proper "up" mood) when the tasks are what I consider to be trivial; but none of them can be significant. I do them to get them done and out of the way so that I can get back to what really is significant; and social interaction is a trivial pursuit. The more I encourage distractions, such as allowing or tolerating phone calls from people who use me as a sounding board for their lame lives, the more dissatisfied I am with my life:
Kim called me this morning and whined to me about Royce for five hours! And the only reason she stopped talking was because her cell phone died. I know that I encourage her, when I offer my opinions to verify or correct hers, or at least fail to discourage her, when I allow her to ramble on and on when I begin to get bored when she goes off on a topic that is not of interest to me; and I know that I derive a lot of satisfaction from being able to express my opinions and, especially, by observing the way she often (subtextually) defers to my intelligence and expertise in matters psychological; but five hours is a very long time to talk on the phone.
At one point, part way through our marathon, Kim almost lost it. She got onto the subject, I don't remember how, of putting out the flag, and she said, "I put out the flag for Royce, and I put it out for [so and so, and I put it out for so and so, and...]...and I put it out for you, and..."
"You don't put it out for me", I said.
"Don't tell me what I do things for," she said in a snippy, nasty, spiteful way that surprised me. And then she continued on as if she hadn't chastised me at all.
Well, sistah, you don't do it for me. If you think you fly the flag of an imperialist, bellicose nation for me, then you have no idea of who I am. You might think you're doing it for me, but the fact of flying a flag in my name both offends me as well as denigrates your precious flag, for reasons I don't care right now to go into. You've created a fictive character in your mind that corresponds to who I am in your fantasy world and you act toward it as if it's the real me; but it's not. And I don't appreciate your mischaracterization of me one bit.
If you don't want to be told what you do things for, don't tell me what you think you're doing for me. You believe that I am someone who holds opinions of nationalism similar to your own, but if you knew the truth, you wouldn't pay tribute to me in that way you do. Don't include me in your fantasies of nationalism. If you do things for me that I don't appreciate having done for me or in my name, I have every right to object. So, what? I shouldn't object when people invoke my name in defense of their fantasies? I know that standard social contract says that I shouldn't, that I should be diplomatic and tactful and keep my mouth shut.
[Which, as it turned out, is exactly what I did, but not because I was trying to be diplomatic, which if I were I wouldn't have said anything in the first place, but because she never let me get another word in edgewise for several minutes.]
Monitoring my conversation to avoid blurting out a less than palatable truth is not who I am (and neither is Kim, judging by her snippy reaction), which is why I sequester myself most of the time, in order to avoid caustic social situations that might be provoked by my foible of telling people outright what I believe to be the truth; and if Kim had truly listened to me over the years and considered what I've told her, she'd know this about me. But, apparently, she hasn't. It's an aspect of my basic genetic make-up that I express myself bluntly when I feel the need to do so. Accept that about me or leave me the fuck alone.
I am (though rather mildly) offended by being included in the fantasies of others when those fantasies involve mindless social definitions that include me; and I reserve the right to correct any misapprehension as to how I fit into, or do not fit into, society. If you don't want to hear what I have to say, then stop encouraging me to express my true opinions and insist instead that I engage you on the ordinary, superficial level that most people deal with each other on; in which case, I'll treat you like I treat most superficial people: I'll disregard you and probably not have anything to do with you. The issue at hand:
Flying the flag isn't a fantasy?
It certainly is. Nationalism (patriotism) is the biggest fantasy in this country, probably in the world. It engages as many people as possible and presumes by law that everyone else is also engaged, whether they want to be or not. The fantasy defines nationalism as a universal trait and anyone who demurs is suspect at best and often publicly chastised or even sometimes legally sanctioned for it. And that's not considering the people who are wrongly chastised because their form of nationalism disagrees with someone else's. In fact, when it comes down to minute details, everyone disagrees with the nebulous definition of what it means to be nationalistic (patriotic). It is only when we disregard those details in favor of a fictive abstraction that we are all one that we are able to concoct the concept of nationalism, which turns the union of a people into a myth.
Patriotic people believe in a myth of unity, when no such unity exists in reality. It's the antithesis of cultural unity, which evolves to include its adherents into a system of organic cohesion; and, although cultures also rely on unity myths, nations mimic that process by pretending to the same unity that cultures come by naturally, establish borders across cultures, dividing naturally accumulated cultural behaviors and people, and arrogantly demanding adherence to a new, artificially imposed one, the nation-state. Don't impose your artificial unity on me. I am my own self-congruent nation-state.
"The shock to Marie--from the outside, I mean--is impossible to imagine and, to begin with, I don't think any of us really understood it."
"The problem is that we don't know the kind of damage she's suffered inside. And it's even harder to imagine how she can possibly put her life back together after such a shattering experience..."
...one night when I couldn't sleep, I came across a passage in a paperback edition of Plutarch where he refers to sadness as an unwelcome "relative in life" that nobody ever gets rid of, no matter what situation they're in.
Some of the erroneous interpretations (fantasies) that I imagine that people apply to my introverted, seclusive behavior:
And this is how I begin again to feel when I am "put upon" to deal with Royce and Kim's pathologies, not only when I visit on holidays, but when they call me (with increasing frequency lately) and occupy my time, transferentially. I am ("supposed" to be, to them--and for "God"?) the "sin-eater" who like Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection takes on the problems of others, relieving them of their burden and then disposing of them by overcoming them within herself. Except that, unlike Ellen in the movie, disposing of them for me is, at the least, a very time consuming process and, additionally, often involves a great deal of prolonged stress that I must resolve and recover from.
This process reroutes me from my routine, which is maybe not so big a deal as I make it out to be if it should turn out that this (socially interactional) activity is my true purpose in life (which I most often shy away from, because it takes so much out of me). I would have to decide that this is my true purpose and so act accordingly (with far less written whining and far more tolerance and forbearance). Although the documentation of this process certainly is at least a part of my true purpose, and I can't document it unless I first experience it; but, then again, if I don't experience it, I'll document something else, which will then still be my true purpose. There's the saying, "You can't get there from here", but there's also the saying, "All roads lead to Rome".
Step by step, my life progresses, recorded in little bits of journal entries, as if the entries themselves, rather than my experience on which they're based, is my life (purpose). This is what I want my life to be, this is the way I maintain control over the process of living, this how I level out the turmoil of existence, the appeasement of words that makes the life not only meaningful, but more importantly to me in any given moment, calm and peaceful, like reading a book about, instead of having to deal directly with, the pathological and/or emotional antics and deviations of people who think they are such normal creatures.
I work at my purpose (whatever it may turn out to be), alone, sequestered, carrying out my mysterious work as if I am far off on an island, or in the middle of a desert, or on another planet, a moon of Jupiter perhaps, patiently preparing for the long-coming initiation into status as a star-child. If only.
I'm in an unknown neighborhood, working with another guy installing an outdoor pool (which initially was a waterbed) over a garage. Steve S. shows up with additional workers. He's our boss, and we begin to discuss ways in which the substructure of the garage needs to be reinforced in order to support the pool. One of the other workers is in the space below the roof, which has transformed into more of a subspace below the garage than the garage itself. He gets stuck in there, despite the fact that he could just simply walk right out, and I put on all kinds of rescue equipment, including air tanks and mask, to go in and rescue him, because no one else feels that they have the wherewithal to do it. I'm quite aware that it's no big deal at all, but everyone else thinks it is. I walk in, test the guy's tanks (he's also wearing a mask), announce to everyone standing nearby (they're all less than twenty feet away) that we don't need the tanks, that the air is fine here, and I lead the guy out. The problem (apparently) was that he was "stuck", not because he was physically restricted, but because he just froze himself in place and couldn't make himself move; but he could be easily led. I'm considered the hero for having "saved" the guy.
It's obvious to me upon awakening that the guy I saved is my brother. He's stuck, but only through his own lack of volition. I don't recognize him because I don't really recognize him as my brother in real life any more. He has changed so much and he doesn't really treat me like a brother. I'm his brother when I can do things for him, but otherwise I'm just another guy that he can disconsider, like he disconsiders everyone else. I feel like the time may soon be approaching when I'm going to have to move off into the desert and remain incommunicado. [In case anyone misinterprets this conclusion, I'm not literally going to move to the desert. That's a metaphor. It's what I feel like doing.]
[Also, in that way that dreams have of presenting multiple meanings, I am the one who's (been) stuck. I save myself (continually) by going in(to my mind) to rescue myself. Freezing is an autistic symptom I must continually deal with.]
It's somewhat disconcerting that I am still dealing with this issue (my brother). I thought I'd gotten past it days ago; but nuances of it (and occasional out-and-out in my face aspects of it) keep popping up, demanding to be dealt with. Today's recorded notes:
Royce's inaccurate self-image revealed itself when he compared himself to Rush Limbaugh after seeing him on tv during Rush's recent hospitalization. When the reporter announced that Rush was 58 years old, Royce noted that they were both the same age and that Rush looks so much older than him. I said nothing. Rush may be a total asshole, the epitome of a waste of a human life (in liberal-minded terms), but one thing he definitely is not is old-looking. He is well taken care of, as he would be, given his wealth and public persona. Royce, maybe, would look younger than Rush (though I doubt it), if he took care of himself; but, as it is, he looks at least ten years older.
Royce always looks disheveled and seldom even has his false teeth in when I go over to visit. He doesn't care at all how he appears in public, judging by the story Kim told me on the phone about when they went out last Saturday to a get-together of Kim's family and people commented on how bad he looked, and Kim herself agreed. But, when I told Kim about Royce's opinion of looking far younger than Rush, she agreed, saying that Rush looks much older; which only confirms to me that she doesn't see him for what he truly is, even as she admits that he looks so bad. Cognitive dissonance. He looks like a seventy-year-old man, and a big part of why he doesn't take care of his public persona just might be because he has a totally inaccurate self-image.
Royce may thank me now for my "help" (which I'm always quick to point out is tentative at best and is never offered on any occasion unless it is specifically asked for), but there will come a time when he's going to resent me for my "interference" later. I know this because it's happened before, and not only with Royce. I know this pattern of human behavior; I've seen it played out many times: People ask for help, then they turn around and resent the help they get, as if you have intruded upon an area of their life where they don't want you. They're (unconsciously) sorry they ever asked you and most often don't even remember having asked you; but, in any case, they resent your intrusion.
This is why I only "help" people when they ask, and why I make it a rule that they must ask every single time. This is why I want to specifically be invited over to my brother's house each and every holiday, because it's so easy for the standing invitation that they insist upon wanting established to turn into some kind of a social burden for them. I see it happening already, when they go want to go to bed immediately after dinner and I am still there, to be "entertained" or put up with. It's one of the little conflicts that populate their lives.
Another little conflict pattern that they generate (that probably stems from some internal dyadic conflict, which I have not yet uncovered) is the "conversational" [it's not really conversation when you don't listen to what people are really saying, but only use their words as take-off opportunities to express your own ideas, if you even manage to hear those words in the first place amid the multiple exchanges that are ensuing] discord of people talking over and interrupting each other.
First of all, generally, it's ignorant to talk to someone (in an interrupting way) while they're talking to someone else. More specifically, it's even more ignorant to try to talk to someone while they're talking on the phone, because you can't hear the other side of the conversation and so are unable to time your comments to blend into the conversation, which is what is ignorant about interrupting conversations in person: you should time your comments to blend in and they should be relevant to what is being said.
That family interrupts in this way all the time. (It's not really so fair to criticize the kids for it, since they have been trained by their parents; though at some point they're going to have to take responsibility for their behavior; and maybe that point has long since passed.) And, when I talk to Donna on holidays when she calls, it's bad enough that I have to talk on one of their tinny cell phones that makes it difficult for me to hear clearly, but I have to contend with people talking to me while I'm talking on the phone, or often even trying to hear over several of them talking to each other, over top of each other. It's just too confusing to have to try to deal with. [A big part of that problem is my Asperger's symptoms. I'm predisposed against the basic "conversational" situation in the first place, being compromised in my ability to process multiple threads at the same time; and the particular phone situation and ignorant interruptions only aggravate the problem.]
Royce displays this interrupter pattern more (profoundly) than Kim does. Often, he doesn't even hear what you're saying, but continues on with his ideas as if you never said anything; or, at best, he dismisses your ideas as irrelevant. Royce is a repressor. He denies what he cannot understand and often will not remember the most obvious things you have told him repeatedly in the past when they conflict with the pet beliefs that he needs to maintain in order to maintain his precious inferiority-afflicted ego.
But it seems that the alcoholism, having caused brain damage, is responsible for previously repressed contents being released into consciousness. Without the alcoholism, he possibly could have gone through his entire life repressing all of the bad and inconsistent ideas he's heard and events that have happened to him and all of the bad things he did and never worried a single bit about it all; because that's what repressors do. Everything else being equal, repressors tend to be generally mentally healthy because they repress all of the crap that sensitizers dwell upon and thereby suffer from. (They're really not more mentally "healthy", just more stable; but beneath the stability a huge vat of unconscious dissonance is roiling.) And, in addition to his breakdown of repression, Royce also exaggerates and even concocts experiences to "blame" for the troubles he's having, which are actually caused by alcoholism.
I wondering if his diagnosis of PTSS (supposedly caused by his experiences in Vietnam) is going to give him yet another opportunity to blame an external cause for his debility. I can think of a number of reasons why the VA would want to classify him as having PTSS: 1) They're geared up to treat PTSS and so they readily pigeonhole people there. It's the "in" disease. 2) PTSS is more cheaply treated than other problems, including alcoholism. 3) PTSS is more curable than alcoholism, etc. (They'd be subverting themselves if they diagnosed him for this reason and he wasn't suffering from PTSS, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't do it.) 4) They're being overly cautious, just in case it is the problem. If they don't diagnosis it as PSTT and it turns out that that's what it is, they could find themselves in a malpractice suit.
I question the diagnosis on the basis of what I know about Royce. I know how he lies. I know how he rationalizes. I know how he adopts the experiences of others as his own, out of a need to feed his inferiority complex. And I can see how a diagnosis of PTSS could lead to further rationalization on his part that his problem is not one of alcohol at all, but of his past in Vietnam, which would be, at best, only partially true (because I know how he has, over the years, exaggerated his experiences, escalating them to match those of others whom he talked about Vietnam with). But, even if his is a straightforward case of PTSS caused by Vietnam, his problems still exist in the present. All symptoms of PTSS do. And they must be dealt with in the present, in Royce's case in conjunction with and not instead of dealing with his alcoholism. And a diagnosis of PTSS just might give Royce the excuse he needs to see his problems as existing in the past, where he can't do anything about them, thus reinforcing the current problematic situation he finds himself in.
Furthermore, he does what he does, both the bad behavior and, more recently (with me, though he probably did it with Kim and others more or less all along) his sincere desire to reform, in order to manipulate people; not that he is not sincere, but rather that the manipulation is an unconscious ploy that works simultaneously (using the same set of behaviors) with his sincere approach. He tries to and often succeeds in dragging people (at least part of the way) into his own pathology in order to gain attention and to guarantee his continuing existence within the scope of the personality that he has rigidly established and within the household that he does not want to lose but feels threatened with the loss of by Kim's negative reaction to him. He uses his (past as well as present) problems to gain attention he needs but finds increasingly harder to get, because he alienates people, with his alcoholic antics (verbal abuse, lies, rationalizations, etc.), with his personality specific traits (stubborn ignorance of facts that he insists are true, etc.), and with his refusal to take care of his personal appearance, which turns people off and drives them away.
He has a need to hang onto these behaviors and the beliefs that support them, in order to maintain the meager bit of attention he still manages to get and in order to cultivate new sources of attention as the old ones dry up. And, now, one of his newest sources of attention is the VA. Hopefully, eventually, they'll be able to see through this ploy of his and enable him to break through to a better understanding of what he does and why he needs to advance beyond the trap he sets for himself. I say eventually because there's no way that the few people at the VA can possibly spend as much time thinking about Royce's problems, let alone gain the kind of extensive and detailed experience that we have. Then again, being professionals, maybe they have experience in many similar cases that they can draw on so that, as they get to know Royce's true motivations, they can more quickly come to these conclusions than we did.
I have always been suspicious of friendships (and intimate relationships) for this reason: They tend not to be permanent; and, above all else, I look for permanence in everything I do. But never before have I considered separation re family, which I have always considered to be a permanent aspect of my life; but, now, thanks to my brother's behavior, I'm seriously considering it.
I've been thinking lately that maybe I need a new family, one that better suits my temperament. I remember the time on Cape Cod a few years ago when I stumbled onto a Native American protest on Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth Rock. I felt that I belonged. That is what family should feel like. I haven't felt that way for a long time with my brother. He's increasingly becoming a stranger to me.
I think I need to find people with whom I feel a kinship; but I have no idea who those people might be. Maybe this is a new search I'm destined to undertake; or maybe, after all, no one in the world exists who would fulfill my criteria for family. My sister, though, is adequate; but she's so far away, and hooked up with a family that I would find, at best, irritating: even more highly conventional people.
I need original, unaffected, unconventional friends who do not impose themselves on other people, who do not play the kinds of caustic and dangerous little games that my brother and sister-in-law play; and, when I say that maybe there is no one in the world who fits my family criteria, I mean that maybe there is no one who doesn't play those nasty games; in fact, maybe this is all one big projection.
But I'm trying not to get down on myself, taking the winter, so far, day by day. One of these days, in the very near future, or maybe just slightly farther on, I'm going to have to firmly decide to get out there and do some of the things that need to be done. I have so much to do. It's going to take a firm decision, a strong act of will, and I will manage it--one of these days. Meanwhile, as long as I remain productive in here, it's not that big a deal, except for a few missed opportunities, which will probably present themselves again. I'm going to make a tentative "if and when" list, just in case the motivation strikes suddenly. Otherwise...
All I want to do is sit here in my warmest room, sequestered, writing. I'm becoming once again prolifically productive; and consequently happy. What an odd feeling, to be so content, while all that turmoil and snow, over a foot of the stuff, waits outside for me to move it around when the sanest thing to do would be to wait for however long it takes for it to melt. People actually go out in this shit, and they suffer for it. Not me. Not unless I absolutely have to. One of these days I'm going to have to shovel the walk, if for no other reason than to go out and get the mail. One of these weeks I'm going to have to get back to working out in the house, trek up to the shed, which might as well be miles away, to haul some wood down to the house to start a fire in the wood stove, to heat up the house, to get some chores done. One of these day. But not today.
Today, instead, and for the foreseeable future, I intent to straighten out my head. It's crammed full of crap and I'm getting sick of it. I intend to (at least start to) logically analyze the situation that my brother dumped inside my head. So, okay. Here goes. How to start? Let's warm up a bit first:
Kim may think that she must suffer as a result of Royce's pathology, but does she recognize that it's also her pathology, that she had a hand in creating and maintaining it, that her psychology played into making the two of them the dysfunctional dyad that they are today?
When I was talking to Kim on the phone and was off on a minor psych rant, I used the word 'dyad' and then thought to explain it by saying 'couple". Kim said, "I know what dyad means." Sorry. I've been accused so often of using words people don't understand that I've become rather gun shy.
I'm thinking now, again, of a remnant of Kim's long phone call, about Royce's recent effort to make "amends". I want to analyze a proper amends-making process in detail.
The word 'amends' is derived from the French word amende, which means 'to emend' (to correct). The intent of the word, I contend, is not to try to correct, but to actually make the correction, though it need be, for the efficacy of the personal psychology, only made within the mind of the amender (yet nevertheless genuinely; i.e., unrationalized).
An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged--or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can't do it directly.
Say, for example, that I borrowed 20 dollars from you and never paid you back. If I go up to you and say, "Gee, I'm sorry I borrowed your 20 dollars and spent it on drugs," that would be an apology. Making amends is giving your money back to you.
Why does Step Nine suggest that people avoid direct amends in certain cases?
For instance, you don't run home and say to your spouse, "Gee honey, I had a wonderful time in addiction treatment. I learned all about rigorous honesty, so I want to apologize to you for an affair I had five years ago." That's clearing your conscience at the expense of someone else who's going to feel terrible. In this case, your amend can be an indirect one. Stop having affairs and bring your heart, your energy, and your attention back home where it belongs.
Are direct amends simply impossible at times?
Yes. Say, for example, that someone gets drunk, drives, and kills somebody in a traffic accident. You can't go back and "unkill" the person who died. Instead, you can fill out an organ donor card. This is an indirect amend that can give life back to someone in the future. Remember that with crimes such as drunk driving, people might need to go to court and take a punishment. That's part of making amends as well.
You've mentioned direct and indirect amends. Are there other kinds?
Sometimes people talk about "living" amends. This simply means that we live differently. Amends are about a genuine change in our behavior instead of the patchwork of an apology. We take on a whole new way of life. We stop accumulating fresh insults to our selves and others.
And, maybe, you have to do it again and again, until you feel (and this is the hardest part) without rationalizing that you have balanced the books, that justice has been served. How do you know this?
Justice is served, the books are balanced, when you feel that, instead of you having taken advantage of a person in your past, that person has turned the table and is now taking advantage of you. You become the victim.
When you truly feel that this is the case (without rationalization), then your debt has been paid and you can turn your attention elsewhere. (However, it can't hurt to continue to build karmic credit in your favor.)
If making amends is what you want to do, then that's the way you need to do it. Simply apologizing is not nearly enough. There can be advantages to making amends; but I don't see why it's necessary.
I do, however, see why certain types of people want to make you think it's necessary. These are the same kinds of people who want to make you a patriot. They're out to steal your soul. Don't let them:
I personally don't believe in making amends, any more than I believe in AA. AA is little more than a religious cult. If what you want is to feel good about yourself, or superior, join AA and go to the meetings regularly.
AA's 12 commandments are designed to keep you locked into their theology, to keep you a submissive and obedient little cult member who is unable to think and act for him or herself, to disallow your individuality.
First, they condition you into believing that you cannot go it alone, that your problem will be with you forever, and that your alcoholic behavior is a sin against God. Yeah, like good Christians don't become alcoholics.
AA is for people who have zero willpower and are incapable of setting goals for themselves and executing those goals. If AA took a more proactive attitude toward the problem, they'd talk themselves out of members.
In place of self-discipline, AA proposes their own form of religious discipline: submission to God (by which they mean to the cult). They must maintain the membership, or else they cease to be.
AA wants its members to feel that they are not in control of their own behavior, that they are incapable of quitting on their own, and that they will always be addicts no matter how long they have abstained.
The stance that AA takes toward the alcoholic forces him or her to shift responsibility for their rehabilitation to the organization. The alcoholic is relieved of responsibility. AA will take care of them, if only...
If only you will do what they tell you to. You must submit to their "wisdom". "You can't do it on your own. You are a helpless, disgusting little fart. Let us tell you how to behave. We are the authority here."
But, in fact, they're not the authority. The same percentage of alcoholics stop drinking with the help of AA as do individual alcoholics who try to quit on their own, about 5%. AA is an ineffective cult.
As I said, I don't believe in making amends. I believe that amends belongs in God's domain, not man's. Karma makes all amends that are necessary; instant karma makes those amends in the shorter term.
I also don't believe in forgiveness. You want forgiveness? Forgive yourself. That's the only forgiveness that has any real effect on your psychology. As for forgiving others: Fuck 'em. Nothing to forgive.
Life is life. Shit happens. People are assholes. You don't have to forgive someone for being an asshole in order to get over what they did. In fact, if you do forgive them, you're abetting their assholedness.
You do, however, have to let go of the hold that others have over you that they gained by having done you wrong. Never forget it, lest you not retain the lesson learned. But let it go. It just doesn't matter.
Notice that, when others gain a hold over you, you're the one who has to let go. As in many situations of interpersonal dynamics, the hold is not gained by others actions, but by your reaction to them.
"There's nothing to forgive."
"I think there is."
"Then forgive yourself."
"You disrespect me by not forgiving me when I ask."
"Fuck you. It doesn't have anything to do with you."
"Of course it does."
"If I forgive you when I think there's nothing to forgive, then I'm acting contrary to my own beliefs. And I believe there's nothing to forgive because I accept the world the way it is. I accept the fact that you're an asshole."
"But I don't want to be an asshole."
"Then don't be one. I have nothing to do with that."
"But I need to be forgiven before I can change."
"No. You need to forgive yourself before you can change."
"I can't. I need your forgiveness first."
"Then you're shit out of luck, pal."
"You're refusing to give me what I need?"
"I'm recognizing your real needs, not your fantasized ones."
"I need to be forgiven."
"And I need not to have to forgive. Anyone."
My brother is incapable of forgiving himself; and therein lies his problem. He's on a continuing, though fitfull, search for forgiveness, which he measures by the amount of attention that he can command from others. But, soon enough, others, once they see what he's up to, how he vampirizes their time and energy, abandon him. I've been fighting this dynamic for years now. I recognize how our dad fought the same battle with his brother, and finally gave him up as incorrigible. Mom's may not leave, but brothers sometimes do.
This is how I deal with life: I (try to) focus my attention on a single project and work it until I reach a point of exhaustion (of either its material, workability, or me); occasionally I don't succeed at a partial completion because I cannot manage to focus, in which case, I tend to wallow in ennui, and switching between projects also tends to involve a little bit of ennui or, more likely, minor confusion as I try to decide when the exact point is that the project has been overworked and I should give up on it for a while, let it rest, and move on to the next project, and what that next project should be. In these moments, my mind scans memory, looking for what I feel I should be doing:
Reading between the remembered words of my sister's last phone call, I'm getting the idea that she's worried about me spending all of my days and nights sequestered in my bedroom. She shouldn't be. I reason (rationalize) that, as long as I'm working productively (at writing or on an art project, although I haven't been doing that in a while), then I'm fine. Occasionally, I being to lose my motivation, and that's when she should worry, but I always head that off by going out and doing something, either outside, out in the house, or in the basement. It's interesting that we, i.e., our society, tend to define 'doing something' as being physically active, when mental activity is also 'doing'. Thinking and doing are not mutually exclusive categories.
Lately, most of my thinking has taken to form of ruminations over family problems. Except for my (inescapable) family, my past is past, or, in the worst case, malleable. And, as far as my family is concerned, they have no real idea of who my past self is; they weren't paying that much attention. I can redefine myself any time I want to by revealing to them a different past than the one that they don't really know. In fact, I have been in the process of slowly doing this over the years, although the past I'm revealing is the true one (in as much as I know it thus far), correcting (albeit in small ways) the erroneous one they think they know.
This has been going in the direction I want it to, except re my brother, who adamantly hangs onto the fictions he created about me (which is what he does with everyone, making up and/or misinterpreting the facts in order to feed his compensation against inferiority and bolster his fragile ego, rigidifying his shell in order to prevent the pain of the truth from getting in). But I've even been making some headway here, indirectly; because his wife can insert material into places where I cannot, so letting her know the truth is sometimes a good workaround.
When I engage in my desert fantasy (escape), it is for the most part an escape from (the remnants of) the family that resists my efforts to change myself, that insists on defining me in the old ways that they have correctly or incorrectly come to know; because, try as we might to become otherwise, unconscious feedback to us that affects our self-image being what it is, in large part, we are each the person(s) that others define us as being. If we want to truly change who we are (for the better, I always assume), we must change how others see us.
But I have a better way of altering my past: In addition to changing others' opinions (whether they be false or accurate) as to who I really am (and have been), I divorce myself from my past, by divorcing myself from the people in it, replacing them with people who are far more to my liking, as if I had taken a more active, wiser role in who I had chosen as my friends and acquaintances. People who don't know me can't determine who I am, except via their prejudices, which I can negate by maintaining an acute awareness of those prejudices.
I also have a parallel strategy: The new "friends" I choose do not have to be real. When kids choose imaginary friends, what they're really doing is engaging in self-definition, perhaps because they feel that the definitions that their family and/or society is saddling them with are erroneous or inadequate for their needs. I do this same thing, although my "imaginary" (in a sense, they are very real) friends exist in a past, rather than in the present; I replace my past friends, associates (and, to a lesser extent, family) with ones who support my new self-definition.
Another way that I engineer personal change is by imagining that I am someone else and then acting in that way in public. I choose people I would like to be (like) and then I imagine that, instead of being myself, I am them. Usually, my alter-ego is a woman (usually of the butch variety, so as not to give anyone the wrong idea), a petite, pixie-like femme whose personality, despite her small stature, is domineering and not about to be pushed around. This affords me the best of both worlds: certain, albeit reserved, sensitivity and yet control.
I'm walking down Rodi Rd. I come to a section off to the right of the road that has been drastically re-landscaped, i.e., the land has been re-sculpted in that way they will do it, removing all trees and using huge machines to level the surface into a smooth area of rolling hills, as if they're going to build a housing plan or industrial complex on it. They've paved a few access roads with blacktop, but other than that, the land is featureless and, rather than looking like the usual bared soil pastiche of browns and tans, it has a white appearance, as if it were white sand. I'd say it looked like snow, except that the weather is warm, judging by the fact that I do not feel cold and am not wearing a coat. As I walk along, I realize that there is no traffic, at all. I wonder why, until I decide that I have unknowingly wandered off the main road onto one of the new blacktops. I walk along, parallel to Rodi behind the buildings that line it until I leave the blacktop and walk up the hillside into the white sand; but, just as I approach the ridge, I see the head and shoulders of a man, or maybe it's an older woman with broad shoulders, who is sitting with his back to me, just over the top of the rise, a few feet down the other side. I edge my way back down the hill so as to prevent him from becoming aware of my presence. When I reach the bottom, I become aware that another man has joined the first (it turns out that it is a man after all) and the two of them talk, revealing that they are businessmen who have something to do with the development. They begin to walk in my direction, so I hurry on ahead of them to stay out of their line of sight. I try to head back toward Rodi, but the small valley I'm in is in fact an inside corridor leading down a flight of stairs. I hurry down to the bottom and end up inside the small building on the corner of Rodi and Hoover Dr. The small front room of the building is completely empty. (A parallel with the previous landscape. Meaning I am empty?) I hurry over to the front door. It's jammed closed. I pull on it as the voices of the men get closer and closer. [I am closed off and desperate to open up?] The jammed door finally gives and I exit the building, intentionally not closing the door all the way lest I make a noise that alerts the men to my presence. They might suspect that someone has been in here when they see the open door, but I will hopefully be far enough away by then that they won't suspect me. [I'm trying to avoid those unconscious aspects of myself that are trying to change me, and for the better, it would seem, since these guys are in charge of the "development"? In other words, my desire to escape my family's pathological problems instead of helping them deal with them is anti-developmental? Yeah, that sounds about right.] In fact, I stay just out of their line of sight as they too exit the building and I proceed on up the hill to my street, where I turn the corner, permanently out of their sight. Half way up my street, I see a snake on the pavement. It's a yellowish-brown color and is not complete, but is only a head and about two inches of body, terminating in a non-descript masslessness, almost as if it were a nest of baby snakes that failed to grow and develop and shriveled up into a pile of DNA-like strands. [Association: my sexuality? Ewww.]
I awaken with that old angsty feeling, a sort of free-floating anxiety looking to attach itself to something, but unable to find anything that rises to the level of being worth worrying about. But the mere fact that it exists clues me in to the current state of my mentality: If I don't act to negate this mode of being, sooner or later I will find something to worry about, and it'll develop into a full-blown episode of major anxiety.
I'm in the process of developing a new therapy methodology. The actual means is not new, in fact, it's probably far, far older than Freud; and even the means by which it's applied is probably not so new either; but...actually, now that I think of it, probably nothing at all about it is new; but it's new to me...although even that is probably not true, so let's just leave it at it's newly conscious, not in its form or content, but in its conscious method. (Confused yet? I am.)
As I tried to indicate above, I've been doing this, for the most part unconsciously, all my life; but never before have I considered that it might be(come) a consciously applied method. I talk to people over the phone, console them, (begrudgingly) advise them, explain alternatives to them that they might try. But that's only the lowest level. Next, offline, I begin to ruminate about their problem(s). I find it difficult not to do this. My involvement is inherent in the method.
Despite the lengths I go to (or have gone to) to distance myself from them, they've transferred their pathology to me and I must deal with it in order to be free of it. If I do not consciously deal with it and document it, it remains with me until I do; but, once I think it through and get it into written words, I free up the mental RAM that the material is using up running in the background and it becomes available for other processes.
My current mental preoccupation is my brother's problem. They (he and his wife) will not leave me alone, even when I am. They're vampirizing me, and I don't appreciate it at all. But, on the other hand, as I said, it does feed my experience machine. But, now, as I have been working on their problem pretty much full time (when you consider the unconscious RAM processing), I've stumbled across some very dark and disturbing material, stuff you might even call secrets:
[It's interesting that Kim is the primary analysand here, when my real "client" is my brother. But that's the way it goes when people are complicit in that social crime that society politely labels 'marriage'. It's even more interesting that Kim has gone way out of her way to transfer material to me, material that she is going to be very uncomfortable with when it is revealed; and, at some point in the future, it will be revealed. I don't see any way around that. It's what I do. I write.]
Let's begin this mini-epic with a phone call from two nights ago: Kim called me Wednesday night (actually, I returned her earlier call) and asked me if I would drive Royce down to the VA the next morning. I didn't want to, but after I ascertained why he needed a ride [Kim said she has to work, she doesn't think the kids should do it (or maybe they just didn't want to), that he is in no shape to drive himself, and, besides, his truck is uninspected], I reluctantly agreed. Then she put him on the phone, insisting that he talk to me, saying something like "Royce wants to be involved in asking you," which sounded more to me like, "I [Kim] want Royce to be involved in asking you." He sounded very drunk (which maybe was what she wanted to me to hear).
In order to prepare to go out, I had to rearrange my sleep schedule. I'd returned her call at about six, after I had been sleeping all day. I've been on a daylight sleeping schedule and have asked her numerous times to let me know well ahead of time if she wanted me to do something (specifically re editing school papers), so that I could rearrange my sleep schedule, but she seldom complies. This characterizes her psychology from the start: She thinks only of herself. I realize that this is a special situation, that she probably couldn't have given me any more time. She first called at ten in the morning and left a message, which I didn't answer because I had just fallen asleep and the phone awoke me; I didn't know it was her until after I woke at about five.
I had to completely alter my work schedule, abandon it, actually, as it turned out, as well as abandon the plans I had for the evening, in order to take a bath (it's been over a week; I've been sequestered since New Years, mostly to stay out of the snow) and get ready for an outing (laying out clean clothes, gathering up wallet, keys, etc. and staging them all in one place so that all I have to do is pick them up on the way out, so that I don't have to try to remember everything in the groggy morning, because I will forget something important if I do not prepare in this way the night before), and then try to get some sleep. I ended up only getting one hour, but I still never did get any of the work done that I had planned, since I spent the night trying to fall asleep. In short, this simple little request, as usual, severely disrupted my routine. [Callous, uncaring people do not give a fuck about your problems (this is an Asperger's symptom I'm describing here: the need for a strict routine and the preparation necessary to alter it). They think only of themselves and blow off any requests you make as to how you would prefer that they deal with you.]
So, this morning, after only one hour of sleep, I get ready to leave and just as I'm about to walk out the door, the phone rings. It's Royce. He says never mind. He's not going. So, that's it! I'm as pissed off at the unwarranted planned activity disruption (actually a disruption of a disruption) as I am relieved that I don't have to go out. He's done this exact same thing to me many times before. He used to do this every single time we worked together, schedule a day and time and then call in the morning just before he was supposed to meet me and cancel. This would sometimes happen two or three days in a row before we ever got to the job and sometimes I would never hear from him again about that job. I finally got to a point where I had to decide never to work with him again, to prevent this from happening. And now I decide that this is the last time he will ever do this to me for any reason.
After I calm down a bit, I conclude that I'm not really mad at him, I'm mad at myself, for allowing myself once again to be sucked into their pathology. (This is as much Kim's game as it is Royce's.) Now I'm deciding, this time for the last time, that I will never again put myself into a position where he can ever do that to me. There is no situation where he will ever again schedule a time for me to meet him anywhere for any reason. He has played that little game with me for the last time. I don't know if I can adequately describe how this makes me feel: I feel used, manipulated, disrespected, that he--the both of them, really--think so little of me that they do not take my feelings into consideration, what I have to do in order to rearrange my life to fit into their dysfunction. It may not be so noble of me to feel this way, but I know I'm not wrong. I feel like I'm being sucked deeper and deeper into the sick game the two of them play with each other; and I am no longer going to allow it.
The next message I want to hear from either of them concerning Royce's problem is that he is in inpatient detox. I no longer want to hear anything more about the situation until then. He has proven to me that he is not in fact serious about changing, that in fact he has no intention of changing. From this point on, the only thing that will prove to me that he's serious about changing his life is that he has admitted himself to a full month of rehab. When that happens, then they can let me know and I'll re-establish my support. Any support short of that is counter-productive. Or (I decide a little bit later) I will drive him down to the VA if and only if it's for the purpose of his admittance.
Last night, after Kim's call, late, about eleven, I got this email from D.L.:
Obviously, I too am concerned about Royce. But, I'm sorry to say that I have no idea what else I can do for him except to be there when he needs to talk to someone. Royce is desperately in need of professional help, which I assume he is beginning to receive from the VA; but I'm also sure that that help is painstakingly slow and ponderous. I'm driving him down to the VA tomorrow morning because Kim tells me they have no one else to take him, that he is in no shape to drive himself, and, besides, his truck is uninspected. The uninspected truck is an example of how his lack of responsibility has been escalating over the past few months. He put off again and again taking it in for inspection and yet apparently he still drives it from time to time. There are many other examples of how he is increasingly refusing to accept responsibility for his life.
Royce is in bad shape. He has a few health problems that I doubt he takes as seriously as he should. He has mental and emotional problem, the nature of which I cannot comment on because I have no idea how serious they are. I suspect that they are not as serious as he makes them out to be, because I believe that his biggest problem is alcoholism, which causes him to exaggerate and overly focus on other problems, which he would not think were so serious and might more easily disregard if he were sober. Or, at least if he were sober, he would be in a far better position to deal with them.
You say you get different stories from him at different times. So do I. I find myself doubting much of what he tells me because I have been burned too many times in the past by lies I have caught him in. Since Thanksgiving, I've seen him taking his problems far more seriously; unfortunately, his sincerity seems to wane when he feels that the pressure is off for him to change his behavior. Kim had previously been applying the pressure for him to change, but she seems to have backed off and is in waiting mode to see what will come of the VA therapy. This is probably wise on her part, but I think it's the reason that Royce feels freer to backslide and continue drinking.
Last week, he declined the VA's suggestion that they admit him for detox. I believe that this was a serious mistake on his part. I think that, until he stops drinking, none of the other problems, physical and mental, will be treatable. I don't believe that he is truly serious about solving his problems if he will not admit himself for detox, and that any other "help" that he receives, from you, or me, and maybe even from the VA, will be little more than mere "handholding." That may be what he wants, attention, people to cry to and tell his problems too; but that is not what he needs. He needs to be told, by someone he will listen to, believe, and take seriously enough to follow up on, that he MUST dry out and stop drinking. Handholding is fine if he is otherwise heading himself in the right direction; but if he is not (and right now he definitely is not), it might even be considered as enabling his condition by convincing him that he is doing okay when he is not.
If I get an opportunity tomorrow morning, I will strongly suggest to him that he commit himself for detox; but it depends on what mood he is in. If he is not in a sincere and receptive mood, then he will meet any suggestion that I (or anyone) make with stubborn resistance or denial. He can be a difficult person to deal with when he is drinking and even more so when he is in withdrawal.
What I did not indicate to D___ in the email was how exasperated I've become with Royce and Kim. I'm fed up with the way they use me. I'm no longer going to allow it. I believe, based on what I consider to be sound principles of behavioral psychology, that Royce will not be helped by my "support" of his incorrect behavior. As I indicated to D___, Royce needs to be supported only when he is heading in the right direction; otherwise, the "support" is not support at all, but rather "enabling" behavior. Also, the way that Kim has backed off Royce is not helping him. She is currently neither supporting him (or if she is, she's not being very effective) nor applying the negative reinforcement she had been previously applying, which I believe to be the reason, the only reason, that drove Royce to begin seeking help in the first place.
I spend the rest of the day asleep, reasserting my previous daylight sleep schedule. And then the whole cycle begins again. I'm working, or trying to work, with my thoughts working in the background interrupting what I'm trying to do so that I have to keep making notes on my voice recorder to prevent them from derailing me completely. [You see how this works? Even though I'm completely separated from them and existing incommunicado, they are still trying to dominate my conscious mind, working within my subconscious from transferred material, trying to capture and hold my full attention.] I'm working online, more to keep my dial-up connection busy so that they can't telephone me than to do any actual online work, when I get an email. From Kim.
He was scared? Oh, grow the fuck up. Life is scary. Kids get scared. Adults face their fears and do something about them. He had a panic attack? So what? What better place is there to be when you're having a panic attack than in a hospital? Does he (or she) think I don't know what a panic attack is? Do they think I don't know what fear is? Do I go crying to them when I have problems? Do I go crying to anyone? I'm experiencing anxiety right now having to think about what I should do about Royce. Do I complain to him about that? No? I face up to my problems. I feel the way I feel. I own the feelings. Man up. Check into rehab. If he doesn't detox and never take another drink, he's going to die. He's killing himself. If he doesn't care about that, then neither do I. Go ahead and die.
And, Kim. You have to work? You have to work! Why is okay for me to disrupt the work I'm doing and go out of my way to take him to the VA, but it's not okay for you to take a day off work to take him? I'm not your surrogate. Deal with your problems and stop trying to shovel them off onto me.
Several hours later, I get an email from Ray. I assume that Kim has told him to email me because I didn't answer her previous email. But it's not Ray, it's Kim using his email account. (She probably thought I might not even read an email if it had her account name on it.)
But, before I get there, I have to process all the notes on my voice recorder. I quickly give up on the idea of trying to mesh them into this developing narrative and collate them into some kind of coherent whole; instead, I decide to transcribe them verbatim and let them speak for themselves, the repetition and shaky grammar and syntax (I will probably fix that syntax later in rewrite) serving as state-of-mind indicators. Besides, it further reveals the process of idea development that leads to the dirty little secret.
[But, just as I'm beginning to get into the transcription, before the full effect of the marathon has taken hold of my full mind, the phone rings. It's Royce. He says, merely, "J__. You up?" A minute or so later, he calls back: "J__. You up?" Then he leaves a message. Very "formal" sounding, as if he's leaving a message for a government bureaucrat instead of his brother. He asks me (I can hear the slight plaintive, apologetic note in his voice) if I will take him down to the VA in the morning. And he requests that I call him any time, that he'll be up all night. The message breaks my heart. It's the tone of voice that does it, that lost little boy affect. He's the little kid I used to take care of and watch out for when we were young. I want to call him back. I almost do. The only thing that prevents me is that I've been here so many times before and I've already decided, documented in the voice notes I've been making all night, what I absolutely must do.]
First, the raw voice recorder notes from the previous day, the night before I was supposed to take Royce to the VA:
Next, the voice notes from the next morning, after the cancellation:
I do, however, think that the Bible is an excellent source of psychological knowledge. It prefigures much of the work of modern therapists such as Freud, Jung, Alder, etc., containing much information that can be applied to modern lives. One such bit of information (actually many condensed bits) occurs in the above quote.
"Bear ye one another's burdens." A fine sentiment. A basic tenet of Christianity. (One that the fundamentalists seem to conveniently ignore.) But, only three verses later we read, "For every man shall bear his own burden." Wtf? Isn't that self-contradictory? Bear others' burden? Let them bear their own burdens? Which is it then? Here's my explanation:
You should help people with their problems, but you should not take on their problems and leave them burden-free. They must work along with you and remain engaged in the problem-solving process. You can't help people who won't try to help themselves. They have to be involved in the process. It's a common human behavior that people who are burdened will allow others to relieve them of those burdens and, worse, they will seek out people to dump those burdens on while they go dancing happily off into the sunset. This could be rewritten in modern language as, "Help people when you can, but don't let them dump on you." Kim does this to me all the time. She asks me to do her a "favor", not because she can't do it herself, but because she would rather not be bothered. Royce never used to do this (to me, at least), but he's starting to do it to me now. [And I think it's because he's in the process of introjecting Kim's psychology. More about this later.]
Lastly, the voice notes from after I awoke:
Kim's script doesn't dictate that Royce not drink. It's pretty much the opposite. Alcohol is the poison. The script dictates that she break his will so that she can continue to poison him to death. Royce had been using alcohol all his married life in order to fight Kim's attempt to break and control him. It was his way of rebelling. Which played right into her script. She could continue to try to kill him without breaking his will and making him submissive to her, all while pretending to dislike the fact that he drank and consequently treated her so badly, casting herself as the victim and disguising the fact that he is the real victim. But now that she's managed to break his will, she can allow him to drink, proving that this was her (subconscious) plan all along.
Now, it seems, she is managing to interfere. She's orchestrating Royce's situation (though with a lot of self-conflict on her part; I don't mean to suggest that she's not interfering with her own conscious self in this regard) so that it's becoming more and more difficult for him to get to the VA. It would be a relatively easy thing for her to accomplish if that's what she really wanted to do. She is very effective at getting the results she wants. Why isn't Royce's truck inspected? Because he doesn't want to go and get it done, possibly because he doesn't have the money. Is she refusing to pay for it? If she really wanted him to go to the VA, she'd see to it that his truck got inspected. If she really wanted him to get to the VA, she'd arrange it. She is not the helpless hausfrau she pretends to be when she calls me up and tries to solicit my chauffeur services. Deep down, she knows exactly what she's doing.
She has succeeded in maneuvering Royce into a position where he no longer feels comfortable calling me, she's instilled in him a fear of me, thinking that I will get pissed off at him. In fact, she's said this to me before, that Royce knows that, if he treats me the way he treats other people, I'll just get pissed off and leave. Well, why does Royce "know" this? How did that idea get into his head in the first place? I didn't put it there. I've never treated him in any way but respectfully. So she calls me, on his behalf, because she's managed to train him to fear me [remember in her email she said he was "scared". What is he afraid of? Where did that idea come from?], and she pisses me off, oh so subtly, because she knows how I'll react to her when she interrupts my schedule on short notice, she's seen it happen before, and I responded exactly the way she wanted me to--not that I feel I responded wrongly; I feel I did what I should have, despite the fact that she engineered it all; and deep down she knew that this is the way it would all go down.
The result: Royce doesn't have a way to get to the VA, because she's not going to take him, she has to work. And the kids aren't going to take him, she doesn't feel that they're comfortable doing it, or competent. I wonder where they would get that idea from, if they knew anything about it at all? So Royce now can't get to the VA, therefore his therapy is interrupted. Therefore he will continue to drink. And thus he will continue his decline, until he dies. Death by marriage.
Kim has been pulling my strings for years. She is managing to drive a wedge between Royce and me, and I can't do anything about it, because if I do, if I go out of my way to contact Royce, if he doesn't contact me, then he likely will not be in a frame of mind to listen to what I have to say, he will adopt his usual prejudice against me and my opinions, which I cannot present without his asking for them in an open-minded and accepting way. And I certainly can't tell him the truth about what Kim is really up to. That would play right into Kim's hand. She would convince him that I was out to get her (which I am).
Donna was right when she said that maybe the best thing for Royce would be for him to get away from Kim. I didn't understand that then. I see it clearly now. There are only two solutions to Royce's problem: 1) divorce; 2) death. But he's in an impossible situation, since divorce for him is really not an option. He has no resources separate from Kim. She controls everything and is running an (unconscious) negative script; but I never until right now realized how negative it was. Kim has been using me, pitting Royce against me for her negative evil purpose, poisoning his mind about me.
I never really understood Royce's attitude toward me, how Kim fed his inferiority complex to try to keep him under her control, and how she used his inferiority to convince Royce that I acted superior to him (and her). [I act who I am. If you think I'm acting in a superior manner, what does that say about how you see yourself?] Now I do understand. He is in a far deeper, darker trap than I ever realized. He will never be out of it as long as Kim insists upon dominating and controlling him. And I don't believe she could ever give that up, because she would first have to admit that she negatively represses him and that their problem is not nearly so much his as it is hers. In any case, he will never be in a position to solve this problem until he stops drinking.
I remember how Dad acted toward Uncle George, when George would call, obviously drunk, and Dad would refuse to talk to him. Even then I understood why Dad did this; but now I feel why he did it. Dad knew, or at least intuited, that it would do neither of them any good or solve any problems to speak to George when he was drinking. Dad took this a step farther, though, and refused to speak to him at all. He wrote his brother off completely because he felt that there was no hope for him, that there was nothing that could be done that would change him or save him. I'm going to try not to make that mistake. I will, however, refuse to talk to Royce when I perceive he has been drinking and is engaging in his blustering or deceptive behaviors. If I hear any hints of that kind of behavior in his speech, I'm going to tell him to call me back when he's in a different frame of mind. Otherwise, I will talk to Royce when he wants to talk (though on my schedule), except that I will never again talk to him while he or I are in Kim's presence.
I have to keep foremost in mind that much of Kim's behavior is unconscious and that negative part that is outlined above is the unconscious part. She maintains enough of an outward (and conscious) pattern of behavior to give her deniable plausibility, should she ever be called to defend herself against charges that the problem is really hers, and not so much Royce's. Royce is her victim; she is definitely not his, though she has to cast herself in that role so that she feels innocent.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Kim is victimizing Royce, he is still responsible for his own behavior and for his life. He has to decide that he is being victimized. He has to decide how he is going to negate that process. If he chooses to ignore it, if he chooses to continue his self-destructive behavior, that is not Kim's fault, that is his. Kim is a severely negative influence on him, but he's the one who drinks, he's the one who's addicted to alcohol. He's the one who subjects himself to her will.
Maybe I should have taken him to the VA. Maybe I might have managed to do some good interfacing between him and his psychologist.
But, no. I can't let myself feel guilty for that, because I didn't know then what I know now. I can't be expected to digest and analyze all of the crap they throw at me without a devoting a significant amount of time to it; and, furthermore, I have to protect myself. I can't allow myself to get run-down by pushing myself that hard. I know what happens to me when I allow people to run me in that way. I have my own pace, I know how to treat myself properly, and if Royce wants my help (Kim no longer counts--at all), he's going to have accept the fact that I have limits that I will not allow myself to exceed. If he wants me to help him, he's going to have to expect that help on my schedule from now on, not on his.
I'm just realizing that I've never before really become all that involved in any serious problem (except my own), until now. I hung out at the periphery of some serious shit, but I've always observed it with a detached, clinical mindset, pretending even to myself that it didn't concern me. Now, all of a sudden, I feel like I have a vested interest in a deadly scam being perpetrated against a member of my family. It profoundly saddens me that I can do little about it. (I'll continue to do what I can, of course.) But I have to first protect myself. It will do me or Royce no good to go running out to his defense, tilting at what everyone will assume are windmills of psychological games I would point out and attempt to knock over. They must, instead, be deconstructed, blade by blade. The first blade is Royce's admission to rehab. The second one, a much more difficult one, would be to separate him from the true source of his problem, the one that will cause his early death if it is not disabled; except that I doubt that he would ever want to go that far.
Right now, I'm stuck. I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. My principled response when I am (put) in (to) or near what I consider to be a dangerous situation (I've been in and near to similar situations a whole lot in my life and have learned how to handle it effectively to protect myself) is to do nothing, to stonewall events as if they did not affect me at all, to deny even to myself that I felt anything other than disconcern. I've learned that to do nothing is far less damnable than to act. If I do nothing, things go on the way they're going. I can't be held responsible; if I act, I could easily upset the applecart and harm both my own and Royce's situation. If I drive Royce to the VA as an outpatient, I'm merely prolonging an untenable situation. It will resolve nothing.
I am weighed down now with a thorny issue: an insight into evil incarnate. Add that to the mysteries I defined earlier this month; in fact, replace all of those with this one. This one's real. I am burdened down with a melancholy the nature of which I never expected. This is hardly me. I have never before allowed myself to be burdened in this way. Maybe later, as I get used to these insights, I will decide that I need not be burdened with them again and the melancholia will fade away; because every man must bear his own burdens, and if Royce will not act to solve his problems, then there is nothing I can do about it and thus no need for me to bear them. Meanwhile, Royce has been reaping what he has been sowing; fortunately, he has also been reaping what Kim has been sowing, so that if he can manage to break free of it, he will not have so much to atone for as he might now think he has.
I feel like I can't, or shouldn't, tolerate this situation any more. I can't stand by and watch her kill Royce. I've got to cut my losses and get out of that situation. No more visits on holidays. They're not about Royce anyway. They haven't been for a long time. Most of the time that I'm there, he's not around anyway. Actually, I've felt this way for a while, but I haven't wanted to abandon Royce. I thought at one time that that was what I wanted to get away from, Royce's negativity and bad behavior. But that's not it. I want to escape Kim's far more sinister unconscious script. If that means abandoning Royce, then it's unfortunate; but that will be on him, not me. He can see me any time he wants to, but not when Kim is around.
If I do this, I've got to convince Royce that me not coming over has little to do with him; it's more about Kim. I can't watch his drama with her being played out. I can't continue to watch what she's doing to him. I keep entertaining the idea that I should continue to visit, to act as a force pitted (subtextually, or subliminally) against her. But, really, that flies in the face of my basic philosophy of life. I am not a priest who has dedicated his life to facing up to the evil of the world. I am merely a brother who cares about how his brother is suffering.
And yet I can do nothing to help him, if he won't try to help himself. He knows what his problem is, and he has decided what his solution must be. I can't say that I blame him much for it (except for the alcohol part; that he must conquer). He has no resources of his own; all of it is tied into Kim. She's set it up that way, and it would be a difficult fight for him to get any small share of it, a fight that he is not at all up to in the first place, and a fight that, should he win, would gain him not nearly enough to live out his life, especially in light of the fact that he would burn through it rapidly; he has never been very capable in financial matters.
In any case, I don't believe in intervention, because I believe that, in order to change, a person must both want to change and must also seek out the help s/he needs to make that change. Imposing or insisting change on someone is not only a violation of their basic human rights (no matter how well intentioned or "right" you may think you are in doing it), but it's likely not to be effective. People must seek out and actively participate in change they desire. Intervention disables this motive, at best.
Kim has been trying to drag me into her "web" and little by little she has been succeeding (wanting me to come over without being invited on holidays, being a part of the family), although I have been putting up quite a bit of resistance over the years, more as a subconscious than conscious battle. (Once again, I discover that my reticient, withdrawing nature has been unconsciously protecting me. What we aspies lack in social dexterity, we more than make up for in a hard shell of protection. It causes me to marvel at the unconscious ingenuity of genetics.)
But I am not in any way a part of Kim's family. Royce is my brother. His sons are my blood nephews. Kim is nobody to me. Time to more fully assert that principle. Not only has she become totally insignificant, she has incurred my enmity. I am now her adversary. Not only have I've given her all that I'm ever going to give her, I will take away from her anything I can, should I ever get the opportunity. Speaking metaphorically, I'm the exorcist and she is the possessed soul. Her source of power will submit to my will. "The power of Christ compels you."
Royce's situation is impossible. I doubt that I would act any differently if I were in his place. But, if I were and knew what I now know [which is impossible, because if I knew what I now know, and even merely what I have known ongoing through my past, I never would have gotten myself into that situation in the first place, or even if I did, I would have extracted myself from it before it got this bad], I would not want to have to go out on my own and reestablish a life support system.
Here's an analogy: Experts say that, if the world right now were met with a serious catastrophe that wiped out much of the infrastructure, the earth would not have the natural resources to rebuilt it; they have all been depleted to levels too low to reconstruct our present material existence.
If my resources were wiped out, I would not have the wherewithal to go out, get a job, and re-accumulate them, even to a far more modest degree. I'd have no choice but to try to do just that; but it would wipe me out physically and I'd probably die an earlier death. When I think back to how hard I had to work to accumulate what I did, and I see what my physical condition is now, I know I would never have that kind of energy available to me to do it all again. (Maybe, in some small way, I'm smarter now than I was back then, but I doubt that that would make up for the depletion of energy, especially given my genetic condition, which limits my ability to maintain quality social contact and networking.) And Royce has far less energy and resources than I do; in fact, he has literally no resources independent of Kim. He has no real choice but to remain where he is, at the whim of Kim's deadly game.
Now I see how people come to define evil like they do, again not in its grosser forms, but in its subtler manifestations. I never really agreed with people (theologians especially) when they proposed that evil is a real "entity" that is separate from the human psyche but capable of possessing it; and I still don't. But now I see it (almost directly; in that same way that I used to see business and personal machinations that people would interpret as paranoia, but which I knew were very real). I understand the misinterpretation of it as a separate possessing entity; because it is (pre)possessing: it acts separately within the unconscious mind, split off and using the various conscious and subconscious faculties to do its work, all while maintaining the quite socially acceptable content of those faculties as a facade, even while using that same content to further its own separately evil purpose.
Of course, the possessed person (unlike in the movies) has no idea that this is going on within; yet it is that person's psyche, the very same neurons, the same chemistry, that is generating these script moves.2 In a sense, the person is possessed by a part of their own split-off psyche, not unlike the problem encountered in a split personality, except that the split is not so deep as to present a different personality, but more (unconsciously) integrated so as to afford it complete access to all the conscious and subconscious moves, so that it can orchestrate the moves to be components in both the benign, ordinary, everyday social interaction and the buried script that promote its own "evil" agenda, all at the same time and with the same set of actions.
On the other hand, the conscious mind sometimes struggles against the unconscious in a battle of wills, creating an ongoing conflict. This will sometimes happen when the conscious mind adopts the "correct" social viewpoint in order to maintain a plausible deniability to be used in case it should ever be called on to account for what the unconscious mind is up to; thus, the unconscious will not fight against it too hard because it recognizes the contingent necessity for the alternate script.
I used to observe these kinds of script moves (both sides of the conflict) all the time. They were weighty experiences even back then. But, except for how they affected my job, which was really never all that important to me anyway (except as a source of income), I never considered their evil nature. I've always known that most people are assholes and that many of them have ways of sucking you in, and I have myself been sucked in for a time; but my basic (autistic) nature protected me, keeping me apart, always suspicious, seldom ever taken in by people's ploys, not because I didn't want to be, but because I genetically maintained a far distance that caused me to fail to act in what would be, for the typical unconscious or semi-conscious con artist, a timely manner, and, if I ever did manage to get sucked in, it didn't last for very long because that same basic nature continuously extracted me from social situations, thereby allowing me to easily cut my losses.
Now that I've made the connection between very human evil and real life (it's not just a job or a movie any more), I feel it's sinister affect profoundly. I am observing it directly and up close, and in a way that touches my own life. I never really became all that directly involved in any of these kinds of psychodramas, until now. (And I don't really want to become involved in this one either. But do I have a choice? Well, yes. I do. We may be flesh-born robots with computers for brains, but we have, at the least, the illusion of free will.)
When Royce said he thought he was going crazy, was he perceiving Kim's unconscious script, to whatever degree directly or disguised by symbolism? Are his nightmares and his Vietnam "fantasies" this symbolism? Are there insights he has (into Kim's script) that he is not telling people, because he fears that they will think that he really is crazy? Did he want me to go with him to the VA in order to have some verification of these things, but then chickened out for fear that I would think he was crazy? Or are his fears stuck at the symbolic level, not having arisen to the literal? What have the people at the VA told him or caused him to realize? Did he tell them any of these kinds of things, or is he still hiding them away, even from himself?
This is the single point where I am unsure that the course I have outlined for myself re truly helping Royce (as opposed to enabling him) may be wrong: He wanted me, not just to drive him down to the VA, but to go in him. Why? Is there something more he needs from me than mere support? Does he want me to verify his "story" in some way? Or indicate to him that he is wrong about his "perceptions" and thus truly crazy? Or something else, some other way in which I can help him in his interaction with his therapists, such as making very difficult material they're causing him to reveal (to himself) easier to process? Or is he merely being the crybaby that he has been and just wants someone to hold his hand? Or does he have it in mind that he is going, as he has said he would, to get me pre-registered as a patient, just in case, to avoid the paperwork hassles he had to go through? The problem is, I don't know. And, given my non-interventionist policy, I have no way of finding out except to wait.
Although this may seem like a cold and callous, even cruel method, it's not only who I am, but it works for me. (I'm autistic, motherfuckers! How else do you expect me to act?) Information I need to make intelligent decisions must become revealed in its own way, in its own good time. I don't push the information envelope when it comes to dealing with people. I don't pry. I don't want people prying into my life, and I afford them the same courtesy. I let information I want or need become revealed within the ordinary discourse of human interaction; and sometimes (actually, often) I miss it in the moment and only discover it later as I, looking back, analyze the situation. It's the way I work.
Meanwhile, people may suffer. But you can't blame me if they do. You can't blame me (although you probably will) because I didn't pry into people's lives and minds in the direct way that some people, even so-called experts, seem to think is the appropriate way to go about the process of "helping" people, by disturbing their status quo, by intervening into their business when they really don't want you there. Instead, they have to 1) ask for the help, 2) accept it when you give it to them, and 3) participate in the process as an equal partner.
In the film The Mechanic, there's a scene where Charles Bronson, a contract hitman, watches as a woman slits her wrists, not so much wanting to commit suicide as to gain his attention and his help. Bronson stays with her for hours as she bleeds out, because she refuses to ask for help and, until she does, he will not act to save her. Finally, when she is near death, she asks for his help, so he rushes her to the hospital. If she had not asked for help, he would have let her die.
The psychology here is: If you do not ask for help, then whatever is done in the name of help is not really help at all, because the person being "helped" is not an active participant and so, when s/he is restored to a stable state, s/he will just continue on with the same old way of life. Had Bronson in the film rushed the girl to the hospital when she first cut her wrists, she would not have come to the realization that she truly wanted to live, and she would have in the future continued her self-destructive behavior. In Bronson's character's mind, she might as well die now as later. Royce is bleeding out. Will he (in a genuine way) ask for help before it's too late?
People often behave badly in order to get attention. And when you give them the attention they want, you reward their bad behavior, which increases the likelihood that it will be repeated in the future. You do not help people when you reward them in this way; in fact, you further hurt them. Until they get the idea that their bad behavior will not be rewarded, they will not break their negative pattern. When they ask for help in a sincere manner, i.e., when they get attention in a positive way, through genuine human interaction instead of games and scripts designed to twist would-be helpers through a chicanery of moves, then their bad behavior begins to abate, replaced by the rewarded genuine interaction.
Kim also behaves badly, although she disguises her bad behavior as a form of genuine interaction so that it's difficult to see what she's really up to. I caught a glimpse of this process recently when she briefly let her guard down when she started to badmouth her son Roy's girlfriend; but, when she saw that I saw where she was heading and what she was up to, she quickly threw up walls of defense and dropped the subject. But she was too late. I saw the inner workings, which made me wonder even more, and now I have to wait for even more to be revealed: Does Kim hate Roy's girlfriend because she sees in her a script similar to her own being played out? Is this what Kim fears, projecting her own pathology because she sees in her the same potential working? Kim doesn't have a daughter, so she can't pass the script on directly; but she can pass the consequences of it onto her sons, who will seek out women like their mother and become victimized by them in the same way that she victimizes Royce, and how her mother victimized her father.
I wait, patiently. (It's what I do.) The truth will out. They never think to inform me of what's going on (though, really, I'm not complaining; I need to keep social interaction to a minimum, to protect myself) until they have a problem, until they need something, and then they look to me to bail them out. So, I waited patiently, because patience is not a hard thing at all for me to do. And they finally called with the latest game move, which I, with grave reservations, at first complied with; and they (he) did it to me again. So I resolved never to be caught in that trap. But I didn't then go back into waiting mode, because, until I figure out what has transpired after a bout of social interaction, I do not wait, but withdraw (waiting is a neutral mode between withdrawal and social interaction) and analyze, in my own time, the transactions and transferences and their consequences.
But, before I could get out of withdrawal mode and back into waiting mode, they called again; and I was not ready. So I stonewalled them, though as much out of frustration and anger as out of a need to remain isolated; and, additionally, out of a preliminary decision to help via conveying consequence expectation. Now, having completed much of the analysis (though I'm sure there is more to come, as it is still now coming, bits of it, every time I think it's done), I'm back in waiting mode again. They're next move may be coming soon. (Or a more important one from Donna.) Or it could end up being weeks or months before I hear from anyone again. It goes that way sometimes.
A reiteration in script form, abstracted from the earlier material too voluminous to be used as a guide, should my brother call again:
You make an appointment, you keep it. That's what adults do.
Adults don't let people down. Children let people down.
Adults don't leave people hanging.
You're scared? What are you scared of?
[Likely answer: He doesn't know.]
I've been putting off telling you this. But I think it's time:
You're 58 years old. It's time to grow up, Royce.
You're scared? Life's scary.
Kids get scared. Adults face up to their problems.
You either face up to it or you hide away like a little kid.
Obviously, hiding from it doesn't make you not scared.
You're scared either way.
So you might as well act to solve your problems.
You said you wanted my help. I gave you my help.
I listened to your problems.
And my advice to you was to seek professional help.
I said I was not prepared to offer that kind of help to you.
(And in any case, I'm legally forbidden to do it.)
But I am knowledgeable enough to know that you need it.
You thanked me and followed up and did what you needed to.
You went down to the VA and you got professional help.
They advised inpatient detox. You turned that down!
At that point you stopped seeking professional help.
And, at the same time, you stopped taking my advice.
You stopped being sincere about wanting to change.
When you start taking my advice again, I'll start helping you.
If you're serious about changing, you will go into rehab.
If you're not serious about it, then neither am I.
I'm not going to allow you to dump your problem onto me.
You can't blame me for not helping, if you won't help yourself.
You'll never solve your other problems until you stop drinking.
When you stop drinking, then I will continue to help you.
You said you were serious and you wanted help.
Here's your chance to stop drinking.
If you don't go into rehab, you're not serious about changing.
If you don't go in, you don't really want to stop drinking.
I'm not going to drive you down every day to the VA.
All you'll be doing is wasting their time and mine.
You're never going to stop drinking at home.
I'll drive you down to the VA so that you can admit yourself.
Then we can talk about how to solve your other problems.
I'm on upper Poketa Rd., walking along the level stretch, heading toward the top. A woman in a house on the left whom I have known since we were young adults [not really, only in the dream-reality], a coarser sort of woman, yet not unattractive, bleach blond, Gena Rowlands type, coarse being more of a metaphor describing her manner than her appearance, comes out to greet me when she sees me. She's very approaching and plays on our old acquaintance to try to "pitch" me an idea about a business she wants to start. (Apparently, she thinks I have a lot of excess money available that could use investing.) I'm not at all receptive, but I don't want to hurt her feelings. I try, diplomatically, to point out to her the flaws in her ideas about starting a business. Standing in the middle of the road as if we are in her living room, I explain the necessity of a proper business model, how, if she were to apply to a bank for a loan, what they would require from her. She's disappointed by the awareness she's gaining that informs her of how naive she has been. We go across the road into an old city hotel-like apartment building where we meet a guy who apparently was going to be her business partner. He's a seedy, Dan Hedeya type of character who I suspect was just trying to use her to solicit money that he could rip off. She explains the bad news to him and his manner is faux-disappointment, which I see through, and he knows I see through it, so he is, was from the start, standoffish toward me. We go back out onto the road and, standing in the middle of it again, she expresses worried doubt about her future, which now looks bleak to her. She doesn't know how she will survive. (She had been looking at her idea about starting a business as a guarantor of her present and future survival.) I advise her, as she tries to get close to me, her face near to mine, wanting to kiss me, which she manages to do in a very cursory manner until, by body language and then by my hands on her upper arms, I move her a short distance away from me, explaining to her that the answer to her problem is to go out and get a job, any simple, low-paying job without benefits will do to start, and I will then show her over a relatively short period of time, a year to several years, how to broker that job into a higher paying one that will provide her with benefits and secure her future. This makes her happy and she resolves to do this. Then, instead of heading on up the hill in the direction I was going, I head back down toward home. Cut to:
Rockcliff Rd. in front of 6023. I'm looking for my truck because I have to go to work and, if I don't leave immediately, I'm going to be late. It's nowhere to be seen, so I go inside and ask Mom where it is. She says, casually, too casually, "Oh, _____ [a guy] borrowed it." I'm incredulous and angry. I shout, "_____. You let _____ borrow it!" She says, "Oh, no, I mean _____ [the guy's woman]." Again, same response from me, only more angrily. She says, "Oh, no, I mean _____'s daughter." Each time this pattern is repeated, it's as if she's trying to make the loan of the car more acceptable to me, but each time it only infuriates me more. By the third time, I'm beginning to pick up and throw objects in the room, intentionally trying to break something, but though I'm managing to mar things, nothing will break. I'm especially pissed off because I'm aware that I'll never see my truck again, that the guy, who is the real culprit, I know, even if it was his wife or daughter who took it (they're a low-class, ne'er-do-well family) has probably already sold it for ready cash. We've migrated into the dining room where I pick up a dinette chair and throw it across the room. But again nothing breaks. So, all the while screaming my displeasure, I retrieve it and throw it at the glass front of the china cupboard; but still nothing breaks. I'm totally lost and disoriented because I have no way to get to work and thus have no means of earning any money or assuring my continued survival.
I carry the extreme anger with me into the waking state. I am very disturbed. That anger had been repressed into guilt. I've been feeling guilty about letting my brother down. (I really didn't, I'm doing what I'm doing to help him in the longer term, but he won't see it that way.) The anger is the repression being released. (But why at Mom? What has she got to do with this? Unless Royce is angry at her (memory) and I'm picking up on this psychically; or transferentially. Did Mom kill Dad in the way that Kim is killing Royce? Did Royce choose Kim as a mother substitute for this reason, unconsciously recognizing this same script? Actually, though, Kim chose Royce, unconsciously recognizing her father in him. Still, it could have worked both ways. Why did I choose db? Certainly not as a mother replacement. Did she choose me as a father replacement? Probably. But her father was a cool dude, a handsome, intelligent-looking, virile, farmer-type. Probably a positive script at work there; although she didn't get what she thought she was getting, did she? But I've drifted way off-point.
Anger is repressed hurt. I am hurt by Royce's callous, unthinking, uncaring behavior toward me. But I know enough to attribute this to myself and not him: therefore, when I repress the hurt and express it as anger, I say that I'm angry at myself, because I understand that Royce doesn't mean to treat me in the disrespectful way he does, he is caught up in Kim's negative machinations and doesn't know how to act any differently. And present-state hurt is an expression (repression) of past hurt. Royce has done this to me so many times in the past that I feel I can no longer tolerate it and must put a stop to the way he (Kim, through him) is pulling my chain and jerking me around.
But even that past hurt is a repression/expression of a more basic, far-past hurt, which probably has something to do with Mom. Ah, there it is. Rejection. I'm using my ontogenic anger at my mother as a hook to hang my anger at Royce (at my own self, really) onto. Disconsideration of my new-born feelings. Yeah. Rejection. Nevertheless, it hurts and I can't allow it to. And I can't allow the anger. And I certainly don't want to allow the guilt, nor can I repress it to create shame. So I must reaffirm my present-state existence and say, "I am a person who is worthy of respect, and if you reject me in ways that provoke my object relations issues, I must close myself off to you to protect myself. [A better reaction, i.e., proaction, would be to resolve the basic childhood-conditioned rejection issue; but I don't (yet) know how to do this.]
[It is said that everyone has the right to feel the way they do. But do you still have that right if your feelings are derived from negative object relations? Or does your responsibility for owning your pathology trump that right? And does anyone ever feel otherwise? Which would lead immediately to the conclusion that no one ever has the right to feel the way they do. Which is absurd. Therefore, everyone does have that basic right, after all; assuming there is no feeling that is not derived from object relations, which may not be quite so true.]
But I feel like I should not close myself off to Royce, that he needs my help. I decide(d) that the only solution, for now, is to try to convince him, via contingency management, to treat me with more respect (to act more with others' feelings in mind) and to get him into inpatient detox and rehab. I see no other alternatives for him; and I see no way to accomplish these goals than to do what I am doing. Maybe some additional means will present themselves to me as time passes; but for now I'm doing all I can. To approach him is to enable his defenses; he must approach me, reach out and reestablish the sincerity to change, and when he does, I'm ready to advise him as to what to do. But he has to come to me, otherwise he will not take my advice and only use my attention to falsely meliorate his deteriorated self-worth and dig himself into a deeper hole.
[And where's Donna in all of this? Too busy, I guess. She has a lot of gall to advise me as to what to do (if that is her wont, which it usually is, having adopted the mother-figure role in the family) when she remains so distant and apparently just as confounded as to what to do as I am. That's probably not fair, though. She's a (socially) busy person and is building a new house, and is probably stretched about as thin as she can be. Still, I could use her help here. It's a tough, scary job, this exorcism business. (In case you missed the point I earlier tried to make, that exorcist stuff was sarcasm. I thought that I counterpointed it in a very obvious way with my non-interventionist policy; but maybe that was not so effective, I'm now thinking. I'm often accused of being shocking or highly controversial or sociopathic when I'm actually being the opposite, but sarcastically, my deadpan delivery confusing most people who tend to take me literally. But, lately, I've begun to suspect that maybe my writing style also is a bit deadpan, which would surprise me if that were true; because I feel so much more expressive when I'm writing than when I'm conversing, my defenses being negated in a way they are not when I am socially interacting.)]
The dream action is symbolic of Kim and Royce continually coming at me until I get so exasperated that I have to take drastic action; or, in this real world case, inaction. The action that I take in the dream is symbolic of inaction that I took in real life. But the inaction is not really inaction, in that it is behavior in absentia; i.e., I continue to work on their problem, which has now become my problem, which I exclude them from (i.e., I take no further action toward them, but stonewall them and continue action alone, working to Royce's ultimate benefit perhaps, but also on my own, separate from them).
Royce and Kim are like zombies, like the men in the dreams. I have to get into their heads and smash up the contents to kill off their bad scripts. Their behavior toward me is badgering (a milder form of bullying): They call me. I don't answer. They keep calling me back. They keep calling. They keep calling. And they keep emailing me. They work on my sense of guilt, that I am blowing off my "family". Until I finally respond. [To be fair, I've trained them to do just that. I've got them on a variable interval/ratio schedule. They have to press the bar so many times and, after some indeterminate period of time, they get their reward, the tidbit of my attention. But I'm going to be looking at how I can eliminate that conditioned behavior.]
They behave just like telemarketers or high-pressure salespeople do until you finally respond and open yourself up to their spiel so that they can sell you something you don't want by wearing you down until you finally give in, in order to shut them up. It occurs to me that this has a lot in common with my old anti-commitment ploy:
I now try to keep all of my commitments, ever since, along time ago, I realized that that was an important social responsibility. But I always kept my commitments anyway, except in the one case where people would badger me to make them. They would wear me down. They would keep after me until I caved, which (they knew), if they kept it up long enough, I would. And then I wouldn't keep the commitments that I made under duress, rationalizing (actually not, really; but rather unconsciously applying sound contingency management) that, if they were so bold and disregarding of my true feelings and obvious reticence to do what they wanted me to, I would let them down, as retribution. If they didn't respect my initial wishes and decision, let them suffer later. Instant karma: What I was really doing was negatively reinforcing their bad behavior with my absence, when they desired my presence.
This is exactly the opposite situation to what Royce does when he makes commitments and does not honor them (after he, or Kim, has maybe badgered me into agreeing to the commitment); and then he turns around and expects me to make future commitments as if he never let me down before. But I rankle against it, because he has trained me, like I trained those people who badgered me, to not want to agree to future commitments. The intervening variable here is the fact that I am family and therefore experience conflict between the contingency he has set up and the desire to help out a family member. The essential difference between the two situations, me and the badgerers and Royce and me, is that I expect, according to a correct contingency paradigm, to see a reduction in the likelihood that the subject will repeat the undesired behavior (badgering), but Royce expects, according to a faulty contingency paradigm, to see an unaffected likelihood that my behavior will change, ignoring the fact that he has me on a variable ratio/interval schedule that negatively reinforces me.
I see now that I really don't keep all my commitments. As I always have, I keep the ones I make willingly and without badgering; but I still feel justified in breaking those that were contracted via manipulative or coercive means. More importantly, though, I have learned to recognize and handle ahead of time those people who are badgering me and trying to wear me down. They are no longer capable of conning me into making commitments that I don't want to make. And I now know how to make them suffer when they insist upon continuing to try. I have an arsenal of weapons designed to embarrass them or piss them off, thereby negating their affected confidence and thus their message presentation:
[Distract their attention away from and knock them off their message. My favorite ploy is to choose an article of clothing they're wearing, one that looks less than "fashionable", and ask them, for example, "Did you get those pants at the Goodwill?" If the article happens to be a designer brand and they point this out, tell them, "Well, I think it's about time you replaced them, they're beginning to look a little worse for wear." It doesn't really matter if the clothes look bad or not. The whole point is, they're no longer badgering you, you've turned it around and are now badgering them.
Or, if they become really annoying and you think you can pull it off, simply turn toward them, look them straight in the eyes, and with a totally serious, deadpan demeanor, so that they can't determine if you're dangerous or not, say, "Get away from me." You can say this in either a slow, threatening or a short, staccato manner. Then look away and go about your business as if they don't exist. I call this the Fish Defense, after Abe Vigoda's character on Barney Miller.]
A few days ago, I concluded that I was effectively experiencing the "anxiety" precursor. [This is social anxiety, but not the form it takes out in society, but the pre-form it takes in anticipation of having to go and interact. But, now that I think about it, there is no interaction anxiety; it's all anticipation anxiety, which melts away as soon as interaction begins.] I felt this episode coming on, but I had no target for it, so it remained unrealized. But, since I couldn't find anything in my life for the anxiety to latch onto, I now seem to have found something in Royce's life. Which has not been a pleasant experience, but the empathy is not anywhere near as terrible as it would be if I were the object, if the problem were mine. The fact that the problem is his, not mine, allows me more freedom to divorce myself from it and more easily analyze it rationally. (Although there is an aspect of this problem that does belong to me: the anger that I dealt with, initially anger at him, which I recognize as displaced and put it back where it belonged on myself, as repressed hurt.
My sister, who, as I've said, sometimes takes on the role of my mother in object relations issues, told me on the phone that she worried about me living alone. She wondered what would happen to me if I were rushed to the hospital unconscious, if I had any way of letting people know how to contact my family (she meant, specifically, Royce). I said I wasn't worried about it; but she said that she was, and that I should carry a note in my wallet with contact information on it.
So I almost did just that, except that I started thinking: I don't want Royce or Kim to know if I'm ever hospitalized. I don't want them (or anyone else) coming to visit me, and I certainly don't want them in any position to make any decisions for me, especially if I am unconscious. Not Royce, because he is not capable of making rational decisions, and not Kim, because I have absolutely no trust in her whatsoever. I think she'd be as likely to choose to kill me as she would to save me. Given the choice between Kim and/or Royce or a stranger making decisions for me, I'll choose the stranger.
My sister also implied, without coming right out and saying it, tactful diplomat that she is, that Royce is mad at me; or else he's disturbed because he thinks I'm mad at him. (Same thing, really.) I told her, in a slightly different context, which was yet applicable to this issue, that I can't control what he thinks. She said that I should call him and talk to him and let him know what I really think. I said that, even if I would do that, it would only last for a few days at best. He'll just revert back to his old ideas as soon as he can find something that he thinks verifies his negative view of life. Then tell him again, she said. I should keep telling him.
That's a lot of work, and anyway it's not my responsibility to maintain his belief system or general mental state; and anyway, I don't like the idea of manipulating how people think. I don't like it when people try to manipulate how I think and I don't believe that I should be running around manipulating others. If I did that, I'd consider it to be the same kind of badgering that they do to me. And anyway anyway, I'll just get into a big battle with Kim. I'll be manipulating him one way and she'll be counteracting what I'm telling him and manipulating him in the opposite direction; so what's the use? I don't like the idea of jerking him back and forth like that. He's responsible for his ideas, and if he chooses to abrogate that responsibility, I can't be the one who takes it on for him. I don't have the capacity to take responsibility for him; it's all I can manage to do taking responsibility for myself.
He thinks I let him down? Of course he would think that. It's a projection. He's let me down, big time, over and over again. It's all I can manage to do any more to continue to think of him as my brother. I have my own issues that I need to take care of. I can't be burdened with his if he won't do anything to help himself.
I might appear to them to be strong and together and capable of dealing with the world and all its ills, but they have no idea how I have to prepare in order to (appear to) be that way. I learned a long time ago that I need to prepare to go out and to recover when I come back home.
When I am compromised, for whatever reason, whether it be simply that I have not had enough sleep and am unable to maintain a significant sleep length, relying instead on a series of frequently naps to keep my energy up and my spinal inflammation in check, or whether it be something more serious like the negative influences that the world throws at me that I have to take care to counteract, or whether it be physical maladies that the world is so full of, viruses, etc.; no matter what the negative influence, I have to protect myself to prevent it from escalating.
They were starting to wear me out with their badgering manipulations, and I can't allow myself to get rundown. I know what will happen to me if I do that. I have learned over the years how to take proper care of myself in that regard. If I allow the stress to accumulate, even if (ignoring the influence of their stress-filled lives) it's merely allowing the stress of not enough sleep, the inflammation will begin, starting in my intestines and spreading up my spine and into my chest and neck. I can't allow that, but if it happens anyway, as when I'm not paying too close attention, then I have to get plenty of rest and take anti-inflammatory medicine to prevent it from escalating and eventually ease it back down. In these cases, I can't go running around like I used to, out every day striving against the difficulties of the world. For this reason, I can take only so much of Royce and Kim's crap; and then I have to retreat for a while to recuperate.
When I go over to their house on holidays, they have no idea how well I have to prepare for that little outing and how much it takes out of me to do it. And it takes me days after I'm back home to recuperate. Sometimes I'm compromised for weeks if they have been particularly noxious. This New Year's Day was one of those times. I was just barely back to my old self when Kim started her shit with me again, badgering me with phone calls and emails, and when I finally let her get hold of me, pulling her high-pressure salesman routine on me until I relented and agreed to drive Royce to the VA. Well, I've decided that that is the last time she will ever do that to me. From now on, no matter what her message is, she can tell me that one of the kids is dying and needs a ride to the hospital, my automatic answer is no--if in fact she ever manages to get a hold of me in the first place, because I have no intention of ever speaking to her again if I can manage to avoid it. She can add me to her long and growing list of people who refuse to have anything more to do with her.
And Royce. He needs to take into account my peculiarities, like he (at best, semi-consciously) expects me to take his into account (which I do, because, otherwise, I wouldn't be capable of relating to him at all). He needs to consider how his way of wanting to deal with me often violates my own genetic needs. For example, he gets impatient during the long silences that ensue when I'm thinking about how to respond, and he'll say things like, "Say something!", which only serves to derail me and increase the length of my response time. I am not his robotic device to command to his will. I have my own way of talking and acting and I will be myself, and if he doesn't like it, then he can look elsewhere for advice and help. If I'm going to help him, it's going to be in my own way, or not at all.
Besides, he is in no position to even be capable of determining what it is he needs. I know far better than he does what he needs to do; and either he does it or else I can't be bothered wasting my time on him. He has a free will (supposedly, although it seems that Kim has it tied up rather well). He can do whatever he decides he wants to do, but if he behaves in ways I disapprove of, I don't have to like it, and I certainly don't have to support it. It's all too much for me. I need a break from all of it. I feel like I'm going to explode.
I'm in north Oakmont, part of the way up Hulton Rd. A small nuclear explosion has just occurred and the atmosphere and surrounding environment has been poisoned, and most of the people who are here with me are going to die. A group of us, which includes Alan, who was with me all along, and Eileen, whom we met up with after the explosion, gather together in buildings, planning out how we will assemble necessary supplies to keep us alive until the end and resolving to go outside into the poisoned environment as little as possible. Other groups of people, each group like an extended family, gather in other buildings and we communicate by shouting at each other between buildings (I watched Dawn of the Dead last night before I feel asleep). I volunteer to go out to get supplies. Eileen doesn't want me to go because of the likelihood that I will become poisoned, but I don't care if I do because I know that we'll all be dead soon enough anyway. Cut to:
Same area, but as if the explosion never took place: Alan and db consult together with Winona Ryder on a movie deal. Alan, who will be the producer, wants me to direct the film; db is the executive producer. Winona is acting out a scene for Alan and db. [db is the same character as Eileen in the first section.] Everyone (the small crew) is impressed that Alan and db have managed to get Winona to audition for the part. But she isn't really sure that she wants to do it because she thinks that the material is too dark; but, after she meets me and I point out to her all of the dark material she has already done, she agrees to do it, more because she wants to please me than because she really wants to do the movie. I end up playing the part opposite her in the scene. She is very impressed with me because she's been watching me as I've been talking with Alan and db about the film and, although I haven't really been doing anything, Winona seems to have an ability to understand me, as if I'm "acting", both in the sense that I'm simply doing things that are normal everyday activities (which are the activities I do when I go outside in the first part of the dream to gather supplies for our survival, which both Winona and db see as heroic behavior) and also acting in a film role, which is what the movie is about, the nuclear explosion. The part that Winona is to play is the Eileen/db character in the "real life" (i.e., within the explosion section of the dream).
I awaken with the idea that the explosion is the catastrophe that is my brother's life. In the dream, I was playing the part of my brother, who was the protagonist that the film was about; but I was myself, not my brother, in the dream. In other words, I'm experiencing his transference and, somehow, the film scene with Winona is the key to how to help my brother, a major plot point of the film. But I can't figure out how that idea helps me (or my brother) in any way.
In the dream, it was winter, which was not at all obvious in the second section because, although we were outside, on the streets between huge (non-existent in real life) apartment buildings, it was as if we were inside a huge film studio; but in the first section, the cold was one of the hazards that we gathered together inside buildings to escape. (Nuclear winter.) The bedroom is cold and seems to be taking a long time heating up with the space heater and I recognize that the cold in the dream was suggested by the cold room, which I began to warm up in between the dream sections by semi-consciously (I do this all the time in the winter) switching on the space heater with the switch that hangs beside my bed.
All winter thus far, except for a few brief prolonged stays out in the house while the weather was relatively mild, I've been sequestered in the well-heated bedroom. And only now, having been out in the house all day yesterday after having, finally, organized the house/my mind enough to manage it, toted some wood, built a fire, and warmed up the place to a livable degree, am I noticing, based upon the way I feel, energized, feeling productive, wanting to get things done, and actually happy, that, during my period of sequestration, I must have been in the hidden depths of a (albeit mild) depression; but here's the kicker: for the most part, except for very brief periods, far less than a whole day, I've remained productive! I've been worrying about not getting "things" done (by which I mean things that I must be "active" to do), but I've gotten a whole lot of writing and computer work accomplished, far more than I usually get done even during "normal" periods, as much as I used to get done when I started out on this little adventure that I lovingly refer to now as my second life.
This morning, at six a.m., I built a second fire, went out and started up the old Tercel, let it warm up, and drove it around the block, just to make sure it doesn't deteriorate from disuse. It started right up after nearly a month of inactivity; and it ran well. (It's a good metaphor for my life: well used but reliable.) Next, I started putting things away and doing small tasks that I've been planning on doing for several months, eventually, whenever I would manage to get around to it. I don't know why these spurts of industry happen when they do. I wish I could control the process, turn it on and off at will, except that I'd probably leave it turned on all the time and burn myself out. But, as it is, it's on so seldom any more. When it happens, something (as they say) just "clicks" and, all of a sudden, there I am, happily working along.
Until I break out of my "rut" (which is not really the way I see my life, not at all), I hold out, for as long as possible. This is my attempt to maintain stasis: If I hold out and go along exactly as I'm going, not pushing the karmic envelope in any way, then change does not occur--until, eventually, it does, and then I feel like it's way past time to act, and karma works in my favor instead of potentially against me, as I try to reestablish the previous static situation or else establish a new one that is better suited to the changed circumstances.
After half a day of additional active activity, I go back to bed, around noon:
Acupuncture needles randomly positioned across all surfaces of my body cause various bodily "effects, which (as I sleep, nearly awakening) I interpret as pain that comes and goes as I change sleeping positions. When I'm semi-awake, I try to determine who it is who's inserting the needles deep into my skin, but I can't see since I'm lying on my stomach. Cut to (now fully asleep again):
Walking home from Monroeville, not via the highway, but across fields (recurrent, though not across fields, but via non-existent dirt roads through woods); one area (recurrent) is along an extreme edge of a parking lot adjacent to a college and also (overlaid atop) the parking lot of the East Hills shopping center, where I meet a young couple. We transition into an open field along a gradual slope (toward the north) between distant stands of trees. As we proceed, I explain (in response to the guy wondering about the place) that last year "they" (the college?) planted this whole field in...at first I can't remember exactly what, but then we come across several plants near the edge of the field near the woods that border it on the north, and I pull up one of the plants and say..."Soybeans". The guy takes the plant and he and the girl walk into the woods. I continue on along the tree line. This area is south of the Parkway, but it transitions into an area north of it, between Rodi and the houses up on the ridge, though significantly different in detail and especially in "tone". I am sort of wandering, as if I don't know that I am very near home, maybe trying to get back to 6023 instead (although this is not conscious, it's sort of like an unconscious motive, and it recurs consciously in former dreams; that is, trying to get back to 6023). I walk, first, north, then south again. Standing on a bluff above Rte. 22 (McGrady Park area), I look down at the highway. An 18-wheeler slows, heading east (except that it's going up a slight grade, whereas in this area, the slope is a slight downgrade). Donna leans out the window and shouts out my name. (It doesn't occur to me in the dream that she is leaning out what would be in normal reality the driver's window, but not she, but a guy is driving, as if he were on the other side of the cab). I realize for the first time that I am naked. I feel exposed (of course), but I make no attempt to cover myself, feeling no embarrassment or shame, but still realizing that my appearance is not socially appropriate. From where I am among the trees, no one but Donna can see me. I yell at her to pick me up, making a wide sweep with my hand to indicate that they should turn around and drive up Rodi where I will meet them. I turn and head back into the woods, where I meet my old boss, who inadvertently blocks my way so that I worry that I won't get to Rodi fast enough to meet Donna. We dance back and forth as we try to get out of each other's way, and he says, "You should have told us you were autistic. We might have been able to make allowances for it." This is, I realize as I awaken, a statement I wrote down earlier in the month when I was imagining what he might say to me now were he ever to meet me and know about me what I now know; and I marvel at the fact that I managed to incorporate it, word for word, into my dream.
"There is never any guarantee that companies will act that honorably," I imagine I say to him, half in the woods and half awake in my bed. (I do this kind of thing all the time, finishing up dreams the way I want them to go as I'm awakening.) "They're more likely to find ways of getting rid of you. And even if you had 'made allowances', I didn't want to trade people being unconsciously prejudiced against me for them consciously ridiculing me instead. Besides, I didn't want anyone to know. I'd always wanted to be seen or judged as normal. I never wanted any special privileges. Now, knowing what I know, I might feel differently; but, now, I have no need to work at a job, especially ones that pressure employees in the ridiculous ways that yours do."
Fully awake, I begin to worry that maybe what I'm doing (with my life and especially re my recent decisions re Royce, etc.) is "crazy" (running around naked through the woods, which I feel is not at all wrong, and yet I know it's socially unacceptable) and that I am (close to) revealing this to the world (via my website, via telling Donna), that I have been, at best, misguided; or selfish, thinking only of my own turmoil and disconsidering Royce's desperation. But I reassert my "rational" (rationalized?) beliefs (as opposed to my feeling-based ones implied by the dream. Rational is sane, but feeling is crazy? Yeah, that seems just about right) and imagine a "defense" I would present to Donna, should she ever call and "accuse" me of not helping Royce (Donna adopting the role of superego here, which is not unlike real life, nor unlike how my mind sees her):
I'll help Royce. I'll be happy to help him. But he doesn't really want help. He just wants someone to whine to. He's not serious about changing like he was last year. When he gets serious again, I'll help him; but I'm not going to enable his drinking by giving him the attention he wants while he continues to drink. If Kim wants to enable him (and kill him), that's her business. I don't have to participate. I'm not going to allow myself to get sucked into the little game they're playing. They almost succeeded in managing that, but I will not allow it.
I recognize that it's been only fairly recently, within the last ten years, that I've managed to exclude people's negative influence from my life. I managed this, for the most part, before I learned the "official" explanation for my condition. My (relatively modest) success at life (when compared to my brother's "impossible" life situation) has not been achieved despite my autism, but because of it. My autistic traits are responsible for my current, secured situation. I worked hard, at home and at a job, using my organizational and systemizational abilities to build this enclave and accumulate the modest financial position I have. Had I been more socially and ontologically secure, I might never have felt the need to struggle to achieve what I did. I would, of course, be a different person now, perhaps more capable of social interface and thus perhaps even more secure, being far more socially integrated. But that is not a given. There are lots of sociable NTs being kicked out of their homes right now for their inability to pay their mortgages.
I'm happy where I am today; I am not at all dissatisfied. Autism rules, as far as I'm concerned. Especially since I see it as a possible evolutionary advancement, a potential positive mutation, a ten-percent solution [the allusion is a lame joke, don't take it seriously, Holmes; I mean to say that people on the autistic spectrum compose about ten percent of the world population (some "official" figures put it at one percent, but I don't believe it), which is about the same as many deviant groups, such as gays, etc.; it seems that ten percent is the critical level at which, should there be a drastic environmental change, a sub-population can take over and become the mainstream] to a changing world where isolationism might end up being more adaptable than gregariousness. It's an idle, self-serving theory, I know. But it's all mine.
2. I'm using the word 'script' instead of 'game' because game seems to me to be just too light a word; it expresses a playful kind of phenomenon, and this is not at all playful, but rather deadly.