Archives for posts with tag: childhood

REFLECTIONS

2 months have passed since I began this blog in search of The Other Woman energy within me. I knew this would be a lengthy process fraught with swings and roundabouts, but I hoped that after a year I would feel my femininity to be less contained. Being 1/6 of the way through I thought it time to assess my progress towards this goal.

The dominant energy on the left side of the collage typified my experience as a woman. I had accepted my role as was prescribed in a patriarchal society where women live to visually please and behaviourally serve men. So these past weeks have forced me back into my childhood where these expectations have their roots.

After the past 2 months of work, I know that I am now able to observe, with incredulity, how confining a role this is. When I made the collage I sensed I may be limiting the depth of my feminine experience, but I could not get enough distance from this habituated state of being, to really observe it. I’ve had to peel back this familiar skin, to see inside. I find it much easier to observe in other women what eludes me in myself. But now I have watched myself defer, yield and succumb in the presence of a man. Or, if I feel agitated in this state of acquiescence, I assume the tone of the nagging, disenfranchised woman.

Observing myself  vacillate between being confined and whining about being confined brings me one step closer to experiencing a change…one step closer to being The Other Woman!

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 8 OF 52

CHANGING FROM SUPPRESSION TO COMMUNICATION

“The greatest discovery of any generation

is that human beings can alter their lives

by altering the attitudes of their minds.”

Albert Schweitzer

My left shoulder has been twitching for a couple of months. I notice it held high with tension,  creating a slope in my shoulders.

Like a dog needing bladder relief  or a child needing a hug, my shoulder needs something and has been communicating with me through the only means at its disposal…discomfort.  I’ve been ignoring these subtle communiques, hoping they would just disappear or sort themselves out. This attitude of ‘head in sand’ from a person who has been at death’s door twice because of this tendency to suppress, ignore, inhibit and squelch, surprises me.

Of course now,  my shoulder is doing what any ignored dog would do. ..it’s peeing on my carpet. My left shoulder aches, it’s stiff and it refuses to move.  So today, I surrendered and  am attempting to communicate with it. I will use a technique recommended by the Jungian Analyst, Robert A. Johnson, called Active Imagination.

Sitting in silence, I asked my shoulder what it was upset about. Was there an emotion I didn’t want to feel, a past experience I didn’t want to acknowledge…three images came to my mind; a collection of heart shaped rocks, my father and the cross from my Eastern European Church… this was followed by a stab of pain in my heart.

The Patriarchal Cross of Eastern European Churches

That is me, the bottom sloped board, under the overwhelmingly authoritative patriarchal presence above. One interpretation of the lower, sloped board is that it symbolizes a balance scale. Symbolically, if a person abides the authoritarian Father, they ascend to heaven on Judgement Day, but if they mock His rules, hell awaits. As I allowed feelings and images to emerge, I related to this scenario. My own father expected to be obeyed and he created a living hell when his rules were mocked. I admired my brother who refused to offer our father the smallest gesture of obeisance, but was mortified at the price he paid for this defiance. I wanted to be in my father’s good graces and I did not want to be beaten, but my acquiescence  has had a price. In following his plan, I repressed my own. I contorted my self to be loved.

Learned Helplessness

Above all else I yearned to be loved for the unconventional, whacky child I knew I truly was. But instead I was accepted by my parents because I presented them with a bevy of parent sanctioned personas. According to Jungian terminology, a persona is a coping mechanism used to conceal a person’s true thoughts and feelings; a necessary adaptation to ensure survival.

As a child I played with cut-out-dolls, and liken my persona collection to this.

I cut out and attached to myself one of several parent pleasers:

1.Polly Perfect, a real crowd pleaser. This persona won me awards. Her winning smiles and sensitivity to others’ moods was combined with an ability to listen to endless adult prattle, while looking enthralled.

2.Compliant Constance, a parent favourite. This persona saved me from spankings. Her defining attribute was her willingness to put aside normal childhood defiance( skipping the personality forming Terrible Twos, Defiant Fives and the Turbulent Teens) and instead perform feats of compliance.

3.Timid Temperance, a mealy-mouthed child. This persona was the most burdensome for me to carry. This persona willingly  gave a stamp of approval to all and sundry parental behaviour. When observing deception and meanness, real reactions were stuffed, while a neutral face was presented.

So for Week 8 of 52, I will listen to the communiques from my body.

I will remember that a persona is a coping mechanism that is necessary for a child to survive in their world, but in my efforts to discover The Other Woman inside of me, I will put Polly Perfect, Compliant Constance and Timid Temperance to rest.

REFLECTIONS

FUN! This past week’s challenge! I had a modicum of  fun trying to have fun, but I can’t say I actually experienced pure and simple fun. I enjoyed myself, I laughed often, I even played with children who were having fun, but I couldn’t let go of my self observation long enough to experience the joy in play. After watching children play, I realized the difference between us quickly. They do not seem to have the same internal monitor I do…”don’t do that, you’ll look silly, inappropriate, improper”… This self monitoring inhibits the necessary free fall into a state that is not self-conscious, a state that is integral to play. The younger and happier the child, the freer their play seemed.

I realize that awareness of oneself is necessary to transform from children to adults, but do you have to loose the ability to play in the maturation process? I am sure I have seen adults play. If any readers can help on this subject I would appreciate your input.

Can an adult experience simple fun? Can adults play?

At this point I know I can’t play because  I feel at the mercy of an internalized governor. By definition, a governor is a control that maintains a steady speed on a MACHINE. I’m not quite as mechanical as a machine, but my internal governor keeps a steady control on my fun factor. For example when I crossed a suspension bridge with my daughter in Drumheller, in an attempt to have fun while doing an activity, I struck a silly pose. My thinking being that the fun pose made it look like I was really having fun. On reflection, I realized I knew how to look like I was having fun better than I knew how to have fun…subtle but significant difference. When observing the photo, my internal experience is unobservable. But now it is no longer enough for me to make others think I am having fun. I would like to have the real experience.

I know there is no governor on my work factor. But it is time to end the ‘FUN SUCKER’  phase.

Nor do I want to be reliant on mood altering substances to turn me into a ‘fun’ person. More than once I have been told I should drink more often because I am so much fun then! Of course alcohol helps shift me into unconsciousness, where my controlling governor has less influence.

Having just visited The Pas, Manitoba where I spent my first 12 years, I came face to face with my feelings of childhood restriction. I looked into the window I once looked out of. The window’s venetian blinds were my childhood prison bars, because I could only watch the neighbourhood children play while I practised accordion, singing and ‘spoken’ poetry. My Mother had high hopes for me, but no amount of talent compensated for my broken spirit.

As I become more aware of the mechanism that aborts my mission to have fun, I live in hope of finding a more spontaneous me!

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 5 of 52

CHANGING MY CHILDHOOD STORY

When it comes to my childhood ‘story’, I have been a ‘glass half empty’ raconteur. I have recounted tale after tale of the Draconian measures my Mother used, to produce a prize winning performing puppet, who was dressed in reconstructed clothes and fed by the great outdoors!

There’s the story about the hours I spent singing scales until even I had forgotten I had inherited my Father’s tin ear and not my Mother’s perfect pitch. Then there’s the one about how I learned to recite poetry by mimicking my Mother’s every nuance…over and over until I had it perfected. And there’s also the story about playing the accordian even though I had no real feel for the instrument. I would have to practise for hours, to be note perfect while my brother who had real talent, played the song a couple of times and perpetually beat me in the festival.

Then there are the many stories describing my wardrobe. My main whine was that my clothes were hand-made by my Mother. She would deconstruct old suits from my aunts or uncles, and reconstruct them to fit me…to last for the next 3 years. She made huge seams that she let out as I grew. Another hard luck tale I love to tell centres around my fake fur coat with matching Russian styled hat, bought expressly for my first year in Junior High.We had just moved from ‘the sticks’ in northern Manitoba (sorry, The Pas), to the big city of Winnipeg. We moved to a district that was well above the socioeconomic strata to which I had become comfortable in the north. I can’t visualize what the other girls were wearing at the time, being so mortified by my outfit, but I do know that I was singularly odd.

And then there are the countless tales of food, starting with Friday night dinner when Mom would open a can of Campbell’s Soup and add all the leftovers from the week’s meals…voila! Refrigerator Soup! Not a recipe that can be found on Google or anywhere else. Our source of protein came from the bush or the rivers…moose and deer (that hung in our garage, curing,  for weeks) and geese and ducks (whose feathers I had to pluck) and fish (that I watched being caught and then whacked on the head).

And on and on…bleating about my Dickensian up-bringing.

I realized that as part of my exploration of The Other Woman, I needed to re-visit my childhood town, to see if the negativity I harboured about my upbringing still felt accurate. So I drove over 2000 km to get out of my head where the same old stories reside, and experience the town through present day eyes.

So my task for Week 5 is to look at the glass of my childhood, half full.

REFLECTIONS

This past week has been challenging as I try  to master WORDPRESS, the Blog  Masters…what do I expect for free??   I mention my frustrated state of mind as a prelude to my confessions of failure in this past week’s challenge.

Being altruistic does not come naturally to me. I have failed miserably. When I decided to give to someone, without expecting a response of gratitude, the voice inside my head uttered (in a tart tone no less)…uhh…a thank you would be appreciated…  This happened when I simply held the door open for a mom with a stroller. I set out to expect nothing, in my goal of altruistic gestures, but when no ‘thank you’ was given, I got stroppy.

Another example of my failure at altruism occurred when I decided to carry my neighbour’s garbage cans back to his yard after the garbage collectors had been and gone. I did this but when I next saw the neighbour, I wanted my ‘grand gesture’ to be duly noted. It took all my effort to not tweak his memory on the surprising return of his garbage cans.

And then I had a real test put before me by the forces that want me to grow into The Other Woman…I was given a perfect opportunity to demonstrate altruism. I had made plans to drive from Vancouver Island to The Pas in northern Manitoba for the 100th Anniversary of my town of birth, in early August. My younger daughter offered to help me do this long drive, but then changed her mind as it no longer worked for her. Remember, I had planned to do this alone, and was only later given the offer of help. So in the interests of letting each person(including myself here) give whenever and whatever pleases them…I SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRACIOUS and UNDERSTANDING. But I wasn’t. I said all the right words but with an icy… disappointed in your choices …tone.

I have learned that I am closer to the behaviours of Kim Kardashian than Aung San Suu Kyi. I will continue to try to give without waiting for a nod of thanks so that I may become a less demanding woman.

I must remember that a loving gesture given freely,  feels very different from a loving gesture given dutifully.

I took the photo of racks of freshly washed dishes with a feeling of envy towards the person with this job! Later the same summer I noticed this man outside my window sailing along on some type of surf board and longed for his feeling of joyous freedom.

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK  4 of 52

CHANGING MY FUN FACTOR

Having fun as  one of my week’s challenges, may seem odd to most. Those of you who know me well, though, realize this will be an arduous task … hahaha… Work comes naturally to me. My Astrological sign is Virgo… we are the organizers, we are the worker bees…and to prove my point I will quote the first characteristic I read on the first site I Google…

Virgos adapt to different people and situations by finding ways to make themselves USEFUL” 

Point made.

Secondly, my parents were from Eastern Europe. Their child rearing motto…(Ukrainian accent thrown in for authenticity)…”No foolink arrrrround”…My first 12 years had the whiff a of labour camp for children. To be fair, I have never been imprisoned in a real labour camp, and for this I am grateful. But at least there, I would have known I was being held and forced to work against my will, for some crime I was purported to have committed. But when it is your own home, one just believes one’s experience to be normal. We did have family outings, but they were purpose driven.

1. Walking on the Carrot River Dike…to pick mushrooms.

2. Hiking through the woods…to pick raspberries, cranberries, moss berries, blueberries, gooseberries and red currants.

3. Camping at the lake…to catch fish and pick berries.

4. Enjoying the garden…while picking vegetables and fruit.

This may have been an idyllic childhood, what with the constant communing with nature, but it was not balanced with a normal amount of play time…play being the absence of purpose.

I will try for the next 49 weeks to dabble, frolic, rollick, cavort or fool around at least once a day!    

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