Saturday, 26 February 2011

Nå har jeg skrevet til lovutvalget ...

Har ikke mer å si om det akkurat nå. Annet enn at jeg er svett i hendene og har vondt i magen.

Definitions: Alwayswrong situations a.k.a double binds

An alwayswrong situation is a communications dilemma
where others know that our reactions are always wrong
and it is impossible to discuss the problem or resolve it.
In this situation confusion is a natural response,
and we can only get rid of the confusion by removing ourselves from the situation


Definitions: Integrity


Integrity is our mental skin, 
Sometimes we have to suppress integrity damage 
in order to survive.
Then we develop a mental armour instead.
We cannot feel harm done to us, 
and sometimes we do not notice when we harm others.


Monsterization is harmful

(Norsk oversettelse kommer snart)


 
There are no monsters, though people can get stuck in Lizard Brain Mode, incapable of seeing or hearing anything except what is in their own heads.

So if someone you know, like or even love is accused of sexual use or child mistreatment, this person will not immediately morph into a monster the moment you are willing to allow the thought that the accuser might be telling the  truth.

You will, of course, have to adjust your perception of this person to incorporate the new information. But that would be possible if he or she had harmed someone while driving drunk or embezzled a lot of money, wouldn’t it?

For me, the crucial point is not what they have done, but if they are willing to own it. There is a world of difference between:

“I did not do this, and you are evil/crazy for saying I did”

“I did it because …”

“X made me do it! “

“I did A, B and C – it is my responsibility, I own it.”

I would much rather hear “I own what I did” it, from someone who has harmed me, than “I’m sorry, please forgive me”. Or, even worse, “Do you want an apology?”


IMPORTANT ADDITION: If someone is trying to tell you how they have been harmed, you are not helping them if you keep reminding them that the harmers are not monsters, or if you ask "why do you think they did this?" (OK, this is a huge can of worms that needs to be looked at in greater detail)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Havarivesenet

Lenke til en tankevekkende artikkel i Marias Metode

I dag skal jeg bare stille et par spørsmål:

Hva ville du gjøre om en du kjente og var glad i ble anklaget for seksuelt bruk eller mishandling av barn?


Hva ville du gjøre om barnet ditt fortalte at han eller hun var blitt  brukt seksuelt?

Today I am just going to ask some questions

What would you do if someone you knew and loved was accused of sexual use or mistreatment of children?

What would you do if your child told you that he or she had been sexually used?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

SYNAPSER

English summary: I found this when I was sorting through some old papers yesterday.
It's called "Synapses" and illustrates my way out of "OMGIDIDSOMETHINGWRONGIAMAHORRIBLEPERSONELEVENTY"
Will be translated as soon as possible.

Jeg ryddet i noen gamle papirer i går og fant dette:



Er det forståelig for andre enn meg?  

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Introducing: Hyperbole and a Half

I've been serious for many days now, and I'd like to share a blogger who makes me laugh. If you haven't heard of her, it's time you did!

My favourites are dog story and Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving




Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

"Skrik fra et annet sted"

Det jeg skrev om Blindsonen minte meg om denne kronikken av Roger Rosenblatt i det amerikanske tidsskriftet "Time". Den har ligget i bakhodet mitt siden jeg først leste den i 1987.

Den er skrevet på engelsk, og jeg oversetter bare konklusjonen:

"Du vet aldri hvordan du kommer til å reagere på et skrik før du hører det. Jeg kan fortelle deg hvordan du først kommer til å reagere. Du kommer til å stivne. Hodet kommer til å rykke som hodet til en skremt fugl, og øynene til å stå ut, lenge før det oppstår noen praktiske alternativer mellom det å gjemme seg under senga eller å ile til forsvar. Du stivner fordi du kjenner igjen lyden. Den er fra deg; all panikken og smerten; alle skrikene i ens liv, de uttrykte og de kvalte, er der i det grusomme utbruddet som har smadret luften. Alt er ditt.

Skriket fra et annet sted kommer fra deg. Du må gå mot det. Du må  åpne døren for å få det til å slutte."

"Screams From Somewhere Else"

Writing about The Blind Zone made me think about this "Time" essay by Roger Rosenblatt. It is so powerful that it has stayed with me since I first read it in 1987.

The essay ends with these words:

"You never know how you will react to a scream until you hear one. I can tell you how you will react at first. You will freeze. Your head will snap like an alarmed bird's and your eyes will swell, long before any practical choices begin to form between hiding under the bed and leaping to the rescue. You will freeze because you will recognize the sound. It comes from you; all the panic and the pain; all the screams of one's life, uttered and quashed, there in that dreadful eruption that has scattered the air. All yours.
The scream that comes from somewhere else comes from you. You have to go to it. You have to open the door to make it stop."

Blindsonen

Dette  er i ferd med å bli helt omskrevet. 






English summary: This is about "The Blind Zone", the SEP field described by Douglas Adams: If enough people have a good enough reason to not see something, it becomes invisible. And about how this applies to sexual use and other types of child mistreatment. Will be translated as soon as I have time. 


Hvis mange nok mennesker
har god nok grunn
til å ikke se noe, blir det usynlig.

Vi har nylig sett dette fenomenet i praksis i Alvdal,  og vi har sett ordføreren og andre i bygda forsikre på Dagsrevyen at Alvdal er et hyggelig sted med snille og gode mennesker.
Jeg tror ikke at Alvdal er verre enn andre steder – forskjellen her er at overgrep ble oppdaget, og at de ble dokumentert av utøverne.
Men hva er det som gjør at vanlige, snille og gode mennesker kan overse tortur av barn? At en ”tidligere barnevernsleder”  kan vite om en overgrepsfilm og likevel ikke gjøre noe?
Hvordan kan overgrep mot barn foregå uten at mennesker som får betalt for å verne barn griper inn?
Hvorfor er kirkesamfunn så tafatte når barn blir skadet av mennesker som får betalt for å være ”sjelesørgere”?
Hvorfor er det så mange som ikke får konstruktiv hjelp i det psykiske helsevernet?
Hvordan kan noen få seg til å si offentlig at å nevne incest i en Astrid Lindgren-biografi er å dra Lindgrens navn ned i søla? Og hvorfor oppfattes ikke dette som diskriminerende og krenkende? Jeg ser ikke helt for meg at søle hadde kommet inn i bildet om Guri Fjeldberg hadde skrevet at Astrid Lindgren betydde mye for henne fordi hun var trafikkskadd som barn. Hvor kommer denne søla fra?
           
             
Det er et sitat fra Thomasevangeliet som gjør godt langt inni meg: "Hvis du henter fram det som er i deg, vil det som er i deg redde deg. Hvis du ikke henter fram det som er i deg, vil det som er i deg ødelegge deg."

Min teori er at vi alle går med en blindsonegenerator inni oss. Alle. Også de som har hatt en ”normal”, ”lykkelig” barndom. Og ikke minst de som har opplevd vonde ting og ”blitt ferdig med det”, ”lagt det bak seg”.
Jeg greier ikke helt å forestille meg ”normal”, men livet mitt ble mye mindre forvirret da jeg sluttet å tro at "normal" var noe jeg burde strebe etter.
            Og jeg ser mange mennesker som synes de har hatt en normal og fin barndom streve med dårlig selvtillit, problemer med å sette grenser, angst, depresjon og søvnløshet. Da jeg var ung, tenkte jeg:  ”Det hadde vært verre hvis det ikke var så ille”. Jeg var nødt til å gjøre noe med problemene mine, mens jeg så andre drasse rundt på tunge bører og tro at de måtte ha det slik.
 
Mennesker som ikke henter fram det som var vondt i sin egen barndom, er blinde for barns integritetsskader.
En gang var jeg med som støtte   i en incestrettssak. Da så jeg denne blindheten hos en hel jury og nesten alle de tilstedeværende. Og da en av de medtiltalte gikk forbi meg i korridoren sammen med sin far, hveste han til meg: ”Vik fra meg, Satan!” 
            En psykolog som også fulgte rettssaken mente at tiltalte opplevde meg som truende fordi jeg var en av de få som både kunne se hva han hadde gjort mot sin sønn og det hans far hadde gjort mot ham da han var  barn.
Hun mente at han et sted inni seg lengtet etter å tilstå overfor en som både kunne se det krenkede barnet han hadde vært og samtidig gi ham anledning til å eie det han hadde gjort uten å dømme ham.

Da jeg kom hjem fra denne rettssaken, fikk jeg førstehåndserfaring med blindsonen selv. Jeg avtalte et møte med overlegen på Psykiatrisk Poliklinikk for å begrunne min uenighet i at jeg hadde store fortrengninger og måtte gå i langvarig terapi for å lære å leve med problemene mine. Og jeg fortalte blant annet om denne rettssaken, og om opptrinnet jeg nettopp har beskrevet.
            Jeg ble ikke spurt om jeg kunne bevise det jeg sa, og først nesten fire år senere fikk jeg vite at  diagnosen "grensepsykose" ble stilt samme dag.
            Overlegen mente vel å vite at det jeg sa om rettssaken var ”mikropsykoser”.
           
Hva kan vi gjøre med  blindsonen? Jeg vet ikke. Når den til og med er så sterk i helsevesenet, og når helsevesenets psykiske helsevern ikke synes å ha rutiner for å identifisere den og hindre usynliggjøring av pasienter … da gir jeg opp.
Men når instanser som skal ta seg av ofre for overgrep har så sterke blindsoner, er det kanskje ikke så rart at overgrepene på Alvdal ikke ble sett.
Det er en forklaring, ikke en unnskyldning. Alle eier vi det vi gjør og ikke gjør, selv om det er grunner til det, og selv om vi ikke mente noe vondt med det vi har gjort.

Men er det noe vi kan gjøre? Vi kan ikke forandre på andre, men vi kan se det de gjør uten å bortforklare det. Og det kan kanskje gi oss et fast punkt å stå på i blindsonens hengemyr av usynliggjøring og bortforklaringer.

For 25 år siden trodde jeg – og andre med meg –  at det var nok å informere om at overgrep virkelig foregikk, at det var nok om vi overlevende kom ut av skapet og nektet å bære på taushetens skyld og skam.
            Jeg gjorde mitt, i avisintervjuer og artikler.

Selv ikke i mine mest paranoide fantasier hadde jeg forutsett at det ville føre til årelang "hjelp til å innse at hun kan komme til kort" i helsevesenet, og at den hjelpen først ville ta slutt da jeg ikke torde mer og unngikk all kontakt med institusjonen.

Kanskje det viktigste vi kan gjøre, er å se oss selv – og finne hverandre?

Har du som leser dette opplevd å bli borte i Blindsonen?

Monday, 21 February 2011

THE NIGHT BEFORE WOMEN'S DAY, 1987


 
the night before Women's Day
i dreamed a nice young man
with a tie and a briefcase who said:
”we are going to kill you and your daughter"
i was frightened
are we going to sit indoors and quiver in fear forever?
i thought
hell, no, I thought
i asked someone to take good care of her
and went defiantly out in the streets
scared
he showed me a bloody sword
”so you thought that you could protect her?”
he gave me the hilt
held the point against his own chest
”i killed your daughter, now you can kill me”

i kicked him in the balls and ran home

they didn't kill my daughter
they did something worse
she was bleeding
i took her to the hospital
they had inserted a diaphragm
she was three years old
they said it was necessary
”no one knows what can happen to her, with that mother”
white coats nodded serious agreement
and looked punishingly at me

i sat by my daughter's sick bed
she slept
no one had taken off the dress
soiled with blood and vomit
her face was dead
she had lost the world
she had lost belief in the world
she had lost her place in the world
the place that i was so pleased that she had kept
i, who had lost mine
when I was her age
i cried
i was alone against the white lab coats
who always were right

Saturday, 19 February 2011

DAVID GERROLD on RESPONSIBILITY

Norsk kortversjon: Dette er en diskusjon om ansvar. Om at det å ta ansvar ikke er det samme som å påta seg Byrde, Skam, Skyld og Kritikk. (Her i Norge brukes uttrykket "å ta selvkritikk" - hvordan gjør man egentlig det?) Og konklusjonen er at for å ta ansvar, må vi ha vilje til å være kilden til livet vårt. 
"Vilje er det som skjer når du kommer gjennom all motstanden, alle bortforklaringene, alt pisspratet. Det som er igjen, er interesse. Det er vilje. Ut av det, flommer alt annet." 



English summary: This is a discussion about responsibility.
The conclusion is that responsibility is not  Blame, Shame, Burden, and Guilt, it is a willingness to be the source of your life.
“Willingness is what happens when you get past all the resistance, all the reasons, all the bullshit.  What’s left is interest.  That’s willingness.  Out of willingness flows all the rest.”  



With the author’s permission, I’m posting a chapter from “A Matter for Men”, book 1 in the “War Against the Chtorr” series. David Gerrold is an author whose books have made my brain crackle and pop and rearrange its perceptions, and this chapter most of all.

I read it when I was heavily involved in a Support Centre Against Incest, and it gave me an answer to the ubiquitous fear of “judging” people who were accused of child molestation.

I can safely recommend all his books, and I’ve recently ordered one I wasn’t aware of until now: ”The Martian Child”, based on the his own experiences as a single adoptive parent of a survivor of serious abuse.



50

The Last Day


“If God didn’t want men to masturbate, then why did he make the opposable thumb? 
“If God didn’t want women to masturbate, then why did she make the middle finger longer?”
—Solomon Short


It was my worst nightmare. 
            Whitlaw was standing over my chair, looming like a mountain, glaring down at me and waiting for an answer to his question. 
            “So …McCarthy.  What is responsibility?”
            I didn’t have the slightest idea. 
            And I was certain that this was it—I would stammer something and it would be wrong and Whitlaw would finally lose patience and just kill me. 
            Or worse—he’d ravage me with one of his exquisitely sarcastic observations about my lack of intellectual capacity.  And then I’d die of embarrassment.
            Whitlaw had long ago stopped waiting for us to raise our hands.  We didn’t.  We thought that was the best way to avoid being held up to ridicule.  But the man had us surrounded, and if we didn’t volunteer, then he’d start to call on us, one at a time.  Today, he had lowered his voice to a shout—and he was demanding that we “participate in the process of our own lives.”  You couldn’t tune him out. 
            That was the thing about Whitlaw’s class.  There was no place to hide.  If you sat in the back of the room, hoping not to be noticed, Whitlaw would stride to the back, take the comic book out of your hands, rip it up, and drop it in the trash.  Then he’d move you to the front of the room. 
            His radar was unerring.  If you went for more than three days without raising your hand to comment or to ask a question, he’d start calling on you.  “Just checking to see if you’re still alive,”  he’d say.  “I’ve already given up all hope of intelligent discourse from this collection of somnambulists.  Cabbages have more crunch than you do.” 
            On this particular day, he’d begun his attack with a diversionary maneuver.  He’d said,  “Let’s review what we’ve covered so far.  You’ll remember that we determined that there really is no such thing as rights or freedom.  What there is, is responsibility.  Hmm,”  he said, and stopped.  He froze at the board, stylus still in hand.  He turned back to us, a thoughtful expression on his face.  “Responsibility.  There’s an interesting word.  We haven’t really defined it, have we?”  He put the stylus down in the tray below the board and brushed nonexistent chalk dust from his hands;  that’s how old he was. 
            He looked at me with a piercing expression.  “I mean, we’ve talked about it all semester long.  We’ve all used the word as if we’re agreed on what it means.  But I don’t think we’re in agreement at all.  I don’t think we’re all thinking of the same thing when we use the word responsibility—” 
            I was already starting to sweat.  Some of these lectures could go on for a week or more.  And this one had all the earmarks. 
            Whitlaw stepped past me.  For a man with a limp, he could be surprisingly limber.  He headed for the back of the room and I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed in my chair. 
            “McCarthy,”  he said, terrifyingly close behind me.  He had turned and was studying the back of my head.  “You start.  What is responsibility?” 
            “Uh—”  I squirmed around in my seat to face him.  “Um—it’s, uh—the, um—” 
            “Yes …?  Go on.  I’ll wait.”  Whitlaw spoke with the sweet dulcet tones of deliberately exaggerated patience.  He was going to let me writhe on the hook until I died. 
            “—the obligation—”  I seized the word.   “—um, to—uh—” 
            “Obligation ….”  Whitlaw repeated thoughtfully.  “Hm.  An interesting perception.  The obligation.”  He furrowed his brow and focused intently on me.  “Perhaps the word you’re looking for is accountability.” 
            I felt my heart resume beating.  I might survive this after all.  “Yes.”  I was a drowning man, grabbing eagerly for—an anvil. 
            Whitlaw’s expression was pitying and disappointed.  He shook his head sadly and looked around to the rest of the class.  “Accountability,”  he said, with deep sorrow.  “That’s what McCarthy thinks responsibility is.  Accountability.”  He rubbed his hands together in a Uriah Heep gesture—but the way Whitlaw did it was much more like a praying mantis preparing to dine. 
            Oh, no …
            Whitlaw tsked.  He began counting off on his fingers.  Finger number one:  “Blame.  That’s what McCarthy thinks responsibility is.  ‘Who’s responsible for this mess?  Who can we blame?’ “  Finger number two:  “Shame.  Or perhaps McCarthy thinks responsibility is shame.  ‘This was your responsibility, McCarthy.  Look how it turned out.  Aren’t you ashamed?’ “  Finger number three:  “Burden.  ‘All right, who’s willing to accept this responsibility?  Who’s willing to take on this particularly onerous task?’ “ 
            I was dying in my chair and praying, Please, God, let him not have six fingers.  Finger number four:  “Guilt.”  He looked at me with an expression previously seen only on the countenances of “hanging judges.”  He repeated it.  “Guilt.  ‘This is your responsibility.’  Is that what you think responsibility is, McCarthy?  Blame, shame, burden, or guilt?” 
            “Uh—no—I—”
            “Yes, it is.  That’s what you all think responsibility is.  You see it as a chore, not a challenge.  You see it as a problem.  A burden.  Something to be avoided.  This is the American mantra.  ‘It’s not my fault.’  Or:  ‘Sorry, sir.  That’s not my table.’  Or:  ‘You’ll have to take that upstairs.  We don’t handle that here.’  Or:  ‘Sorry, I don’t want to get involved.’ 
            “Do you know what that translates out to?  ‘Blame somebody else first.  Blame anybody but me.’  You sound like Republicans.  ‘Blame the Democrats first.’  You sound like Democrats.  ‘Blame the President first.’  You sound like the President.  ‘Blame the Congress first.’  You sound like everybody else in the world.  None of you are willing to take on any responsibility—and then you have the gall to complain about the fact that nothing seems to work right.  Because when you hear the word responsibility, you hear blame, shame, burden, and guilt.”  Whitlaw snorted.  “And you don’t want any of that stuff, do you?” 
            He put one hand on my shoulder.  It felt just like a brontosaurus leg, only heavier.  “Right, McCarthy?”  he asked.
            “Uh, right,”  I squeaked. 
            “Right,”  he agreed.  “You’re just saying that to agree with me—in the futile hope that I will leave you alone and pick on someone else, right?” 
            “Uh, right.” 
            “Mm, I thought so.”  Whitlaw stumped back to the front of the room.  “Your language is out of control.  You have connected the wrong meanings to the words.  I talk about responsibility and you hear blame, shame, burden, and guilt.  Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?  Blame, Shame, Burden, and Guilt.  In fact, that’s where you end up—dealing with lawyers—when you confuse the language;  because when you confuse the language, you confuse the communication.  But I don’t want any lawyers in the room.  I want clarity.  I want a precise definition of the word—a definition so precise that it will transform your whole experience of what responsibility really is.”  He looked out over the class.  “Anyone brave enough to try?” 
            No one was. 
            I’d learned one trick from Whitlaw.  I used it now. 
            When in doubt, look in the dictionary. 
            First, make sure you understand what you’re talking about.  Look at the words you’re using.  Understand their meaning.  Look at the intent behind them.  If you can’t find precision, there’s something wrong.  We all knew the speech;  we knew it by heart:  “Fuzzy language guarantees fuzzy thinking.  You can’t manipulate concepts without precise particles,”  Whitlaw had said.  “Without precision, you’re just thrashing around with the rest of the symbol-minded.” 
            If you don’t know or if you aren’t sure, look in the dictionary.  Be sure. 
            I’d been looking in the dictionary all semester long.  It was full of surprises. 
            I snuck a look now.  Whitlaw saw what I was doing, but he didn’t say anything. 

            1.  Accountability.  2.  Having a duty or obligation.

            Hm.  Either the dictionary was wrong—or Whitlaw was.  Right now, I’d bet on Whitlaw.  There was something else, something underneath, that he was reaching for.  He always was. 

            3. Dependable. 

            No.  That was too close to burden. 

            4.  Being a source or cause. 

            I stared at the words for a moment without realizing what I was reading. 
            Being a source or cause. 
            Bingo. 
            Suddenly it all fell into place. 
            “McCarthy?”  Whitlaw asked abruptly.  “Was that a light bulb that just went on over your head?” 
            “A what?” 
            “A light bulb.  Look it up.  Invented by a man named Edison.  It made light.  Also used as an icon to represent having an idea.  Was that an idea you just had?”
            “Uh, yessir.  Source.  Being responsible is being the source.” 
            Whitlaw looked honestly surprised.  “You’re close,”  he admitted.  “You’re almost there.  Take one step back.  What has to happen first?  What has to happen before you can be a source?” 
            “Uh—” 
            “I knew it was too good to be true,”  Whitlaw remarked sideways.  The class laughed. 
            But I knew this one.  I didn’t know how I knew, but I knew. 
             “—first you have to be willing to be the source.” 
            Whitlaw stopped, turned, and stared at me, astonished.  “That’s right.” 
            The class gave me a standing ovation. 
            I blushed.  This was even more embarrassing than Whitlaw’s abuse.  All I’d done was put together two pieces of the puzzle.  Whitlaw had been hammering us with this information all semester long.  Anybody could have done it. 
            Fortunately, Whitlaw stopped the applause;  he waved the class back down into their seats.  “Not so fast.  Let’s make sure this didn’t happen by accident.”  Whitlaw zeroed in on me again.  “A willingness to be the source?  Explain that, McCarthy.” 
            I hesitated, thinking out my words carefully.  “Well—if we start from the word source, then being the person responsible for something means that you’re the person who causes it, you make it happen.” 
            “Okay—but let’s not get lost in the jargon, Jim.  You used the word willingness.  What’s that?”
            “Um—”  I had to hold myself back so I could get the words out clearly.  “Willingness is what happens when you get past all the resistance, all the reasons, all the bullshit.  What’s left is interest.  That’s willingness.  Out of willingness flows all the rest.”  I allowed myself a triumphant grin.  “So, it’s obvious, isn’t it?  Responsibility is being interested in and enthusiastic about and committed to the results.”  I was realizing the profound truth of it even as I was saying it;  it was a remarkable sensation.  “It means you’re the heart and the soul of the moment.”
            Whitlaw nodded slowly.  “You’ve been doing your reading, haven’t you?” 
            “Yes, sir.” 
            “It shows.  Good.  That’s very good;  it’s complete.  There’s nothing I can add to it—but I’m going to anyway.  I want to put a context around it.  It’s not just source we’re talking about here, Jim.  We’re talking about ownership.  The word source sometimes confuses people;  because source isn’t something you do—it’s something you are. 
            “So, the way we ease people into the concept and the experience of source is to talk about ownership.  Not ownership as in property, but ownership as in command—as in,  ‘When I teach this class, I own this room.’  There is no part of this room that I am not responsible for.  I make sure that the lights work, the board functions, that books and discs are available, and so on.  In other words, I am the source for this class.” 
            The finger pointed and jabbed.  “You are the source for your life, for everything that happens in it, for the effect you have on the people around you.  You can create it for yourself, or you can pass that responsibility on to someone else—say, like the universe at large—and then you can pretend to be satisfied with the results, a life out of control.”  He looked at us all.  “Are you willing to own your life or not?”  
            There must have been blank faces, because abruptly Whitlaw stopped.  I sense confusion in the room.  “Who’s lost?  Who doesn’t get it?” 
            Three of the back-row boys raised their hands. 
            “Mm-hm.  Good.  Thank you for being honest.  Mmm, let me see if I can clarify this for you in terms you’re most likely to understand.”  He folded his arms across his chest and studied the ceiling for a long thoughtful moment.  His face went deliberately blank.  Some of us had learned to recognize that posture and that expression and were already ducking under our desks.  Whitlaw brought his attention back to the three students in the back and suddenly asked,  “Do you fantasize when you masturbate?”  His tone was as innocent as if he had asked where they were born.   
            “Uh—” 
            It was the perfect Whitlaw question.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  There were embarrassed titters. 
            “Look,”  said Whitlaw.  “Let’s not pretend.  Ninety-five percent of the human race masturbates, and the other five percent are liars.  Masturbation is the only way you can claim to be good at sex without the corroborating testimony of a partner.  The question is not whether you masturbate.  I’m making the assumption that you are all normal healthy adolescents with the usual normal healthy overdose of hormones—”  He looked toward the back.   “—and that the three of you in particular are doing your very best to avoid dying from terminal testosterone poisoning.  As the man says, self-abuse is the sincerest kind.
            “Now, in case you have forgotten—the three of you seem to have sunk into a deeper state of catatonia than usual—I will repeat the question:  ‘Do you fantasize when you masturbate?’ “  He turned to face the rest of the room.  “I’m not joking here.  It’s an important question.  That’s the one time in your life when you are performing for an audience of one, and have instantaneous and total feedback on the success and appropriateness of your efforts.  There’s only one person in the world you are trying to satisfy.  And you always know when you succeed—or fail.  You have gratification—or you don’t.” 
            Whitlaw ignored our snickers and titters.  “Believe it or not, that experience, that fantasizing, that act of creation, is one of the truest experiences of being at source.  Absolutely nobody else in the world gets a vote on what you think about when you masturbate—and when you create a fantasy for the express purpose of satisfying yourself, you are functioning as a source.  That’s who you really are.  That’s where you live. 
            “Unfortunately, for most of you, that’s your only experience of source.  So to talk about it this candidly, this casually, is a very painful and embarrassing experience for you. 
            “The point of this discussion,”  Whitlaw said,  “is to bring you to a consciousness of the possibility that source can occur elsewhere in your life.  In fact, it can occur everywhere in your life.  Look around—life is all possibilities.  You can invent it any way you want.  But let me give you some hints on how easy it is to start.  You can own the experience of washing the dishes, if you want.  If you play a game where the goal is to see how clean you can get every dish, you can wash dishes at source.  Or whitewash the fence.  Or conduct a symphony.  Or even do your homework.” 
            Groans. 
            “Right.  For most of you, your best experience of source will continue to be your right hand.  Unless you’re ambidextrous.  But, at least now, you’ll never be able to claim that nobody ever told you that there was an alternative to spiritual Onanism.”  Whitlaw limped back to the front of the room, clapping me on the shoulder as he passed.  “But you were right, James.  Underneath all the words that we use to talk about responsibility—even the law firm of blame, shame, burden, and guilt—is the very simple and basic experience of source.  And it starts with your willingness to have it happen.  Even the consciousness that such a thing is possible is sufficient to trigger the process.  That’s why you’re required to take this class.  It’s your wake-up call for life. 
            “When you talk about all that other stuff that you’ve confused the issue with, you’re allowing yourself to forget what’s really underneath.  What we ought to ask in every situation is this:  Is the person operating at source?  Are you home—or are you just going through the motions? 
            “That’s all there is to life—to relationships, to communication, to producing results;  and the real surprise is that it’s not hard or difficult at all.  So, thank you, Jim.  Thank you for being willing to be uncomfortable.”  He turned to the rest of the class.  “Now you can applaud.” 
            They did.  Long and loud.  There were also whistles, hoots and cheers. 
            Whitlaw waited patiently until they finished, then he leaned back against the front edge of his desk and spoke quietly to us. 
            “Don’t get too cocky here,”  he warned.  “Knowing the definition is not the same as living it.  I expect most of you to forget this material ten minutes after you walk out that door.  Maybe one or two of you will remember.  Maybe it’ll even make a difference in your lives.  That’s the hope—that one day, in a moment of crisis, when you most need to know it, one of the time bombs that I’ve shoved down your throats will finally go off.”  He looked at us and grinned.  It was an honest friendly grin.  He didn’t even look like Whitlaw. 
            “I know I’ve said a lot of cruel things in here about your lack of ability to learn.  Yes, I did it deliberately.  It’s one of the best ways to keep you awake—insulting you.  I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy it.  I’d also be a liar if I said I didn’t mean it.  The fact of the matter is that if you can survive the very worst that I can hand you, and the evidence today is that you can, then you can survive anything else that the universe will throw at you.  It was always my intention to be the meanest son-of-a-bitch you ever met in your life—so that all the other sons-of-bitches waiting for you out there will never be able to lay a finger on you.  I never pulled a punch in here, and now you know you can handle it.” 
            He reached across his desk and grabbed a tissue from the box;  he blew his nose loudly, wiped a couple of times, and then continued.  “I said on the first day of this class that they don’t pay me enough to do this.  That’s true.  But, if you’ll remember, I also said that I would teach this class even if they didn’t pay me.  One of you asked why and I told you that if you could make it through to the end of the semester, you wouldn’t need to ask that question.  The answer should be obvious to you now.  If it isn’t, then I didn’t get the job done.  Does anybody still need the explanation?” 
            He looked out over the room.  I thought about it.  Was there any doubt in my mind why Whitlaw was teaching this class?  No, no doubt at all.  I looked around.  Nobody else had raised his or her hand either. 
            “The truth is that teaching high school students is like dropping stones down a well and listening for the splash.  Only, most of the time you never hear it.  I’ve been shoving time bombs down your throats.  Someday soon, they’re going to start going off.  When these things finally do go splash or klunk or ka-boom or whatever sound they make, I’d appreciate it if you’d take the time to drop me a note and let me know.  You all have my E-mail address.  Don’t lose it.  As a teacher, the only reward or acknowledgment I can ever receive that really means anything is to hear from one of you that something I taught you or caused you to realize has actually made a difference in your life.” 
            He sighed.  For just a moment, he looked tired.  “There are no passing or failing grades in here.  The universe will give you your grade.  You’ll know when you receive it.”          He added impishly,  “In case you’re wondering, the universe doesn’t grade on the curve;  it’s all pass-fail.  Here’s how you know if you’re passing:  you’re still alive.  In the meantime—”  Whitlaw grinned wickedly.   “—May the source be with you.” 
            We let him live. 
            More than that, we gave him a standing ovation—and not surprisingly, a whole bunch of hugs as well.
   

Friday, 18 February 2011

We Are The Whole Elephant

In a forum I belong to, I recently read this post:



I’m soo tired of it all…

I’m tired of the jeers
I’m tired of the comments
I’m tired of the stupid questions
I’m tired of the personal invasion
I’m tired of the ignorance
I’m tired of the judgments
I’m tired of the assumptions
I’m tired of the shaving
I’m tired of the tucking
I’m tired of the violence
I’m tired of the rudeness
I’m tired of the creepy sexual advances
I’m tired of the fetishists
I’m tired of the discrimination
I’m tired of the stupid rules society makes
I’m tired of the mocking
I’m tired of it all


And a later post:

"sorry this didn’t come off as rage filled as it is… the thing is I know I’m awesome I don’t give a fuck 99% of the time BUT everyday I get 15-30 negative comments and abusive words thrown at me, plus the tittering and laughing as I walk past, and the mockery and dumb questions somedays I feel like Atlas with this goddamn planet on my shoulder crushing me slowly!"

This resonated so painfully with me that I had to put it on the back burner for a while, to let the memories that evoked the pain surface.

It was written by a transperson, but I had always read her posts as written by an interesting woman – I must have missed the threads where she mentioned being trans.

Anyway, I had no trouble assimilating this new information about her into what I already knew. And if we ever meet face to face, I think I will be able to add her appearance to my earlier impressions of her, and be happy that I now know more about the whole person.

And that brings me to the whole elephant. The “we” in the title is not a royal or Margaret Thatcher “we”, but a “we who are beyond the Pale”.

As a child I overheard adults say in hushed tones that someone was Beyond The Pale, and my mind’s eye immediately saw this person disappearing into a white mist and becoming invisible. And isn’t that what happens when we show things that mostpeople* don’t want to see?

Remember the story about the wise men who thought that the whole elephant was the bit that they touched?

It is so easy for mostpeople, those who are comfortable within their Palisades, to see what they want to see and disappear the rest. I don’t think we can change them, but we can help each other see when we are being made invisible – and share in the carrying of the goddamn planet, maybe?

I’ve done my own share of planet-carrying, but my main problem is that I look so … average. I look like any old fat little granny with her hair in a bun, and never get jeers or comments in the streets. But when words come out of my mouth that don’t fit my exterior, I can see people grabbing hold of something I say and wondering what this weird snake-shaped thing is. Sometimes they’re so busy holding on to their fixed image of me that my words never register with them.

I’ll give an example from way back when I was much younger: I was staying with my sister when a fellow student of hers came to give her a message, and he sat down and waited for her. He was working on a thesis on communication, a subject that because of my 3CK background always has interested me. We had a long and fascinating discussion … until he asked what I was studying, and I said: “Nothing. I translate romance novels”.

My IQ must have plummeted 150 points in his mind. After a stony silence, the next thing he said was: “You probably won’t understand this, but …”

Sis came shortly after this, and he gave her his message and shot out of there. And she asked: “What did you do to him? I’ve never seen him look so scared!”

What did I do? He didn’t just look scared, he looked aggrieved, as if I’d deliberately misled him. Littleoldgrannyme would probably just have asked why he suddenly started treating me as if I were stupid, but I was busy having a post-traumatic stress reaction at the time, because similar things had happened to me all my life: People rejected information I showed them that didn’t fit their impressions or prejudices.

I told some friends about this, and they recognized the situation: “When you’re in the middle of an interesting political discussion, and people ask what you do, ‘sheep farming’ can cause a dramatic drop in IQ.”

In the grannybun stage of my life, I have come to the conclusion that communication is never neutral. Never static.

It can be constructive, in that we constantly add to our knowledge of others by relating to what they show and assimilating it. And it can be destructive, if our perceptions are filtered through prejudice: “What I don’t know about you doesn’t exist.”

And like so many other things in life, it’s a matter of responsibility and choice: All of us own what we do, even if we don’t realizing that what we are doing is harmful.

Winding down and stepping off the soapbox now.
Do you have any Atlas experiences you want to share?



* Borrowed from E.E. Cummings’ “I, Six Nonlectures”. Sincerely recommended!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Is arbitration possible?

I haven't translated anything about my tangles with the health services after I came out as an incest survivor into English yet - the short version is:  legal and "psychotherapeutically correct"  Martha Mitchell Effect.

It was an enormous relief to just accept the legality and correctness of what happened - that freed me from a morass of Catch 22s and confusion. I just want to heal my wounds and get on with my life.

Oh, and one more thing: I want to find out if I really do have freedom of choice and freedom of thought and expression in the Health Services when it comes to Freud's theories.

My current GP works closely with the psychiatric area supervisor (PAT) and the GP who was supervised into Marthaing me until I was forced to stay away from the health services for years. And I'm afraid of being Marthaed again. (IMO, it's fear and not paranoia when it has happened before.)

So I want to request a meeting with the doctors and the county arbitration council to ...

> ask why the "borderline psychosis" diagnosis that PAT and Old GP set without telling me has disappeared from my file, and to ask when it vanished. (The "without telling me" is not an issue, as I can't prove it.)

> say that I accept that I was treated legally and psychotherapeutically correctly from a Freudian viewpoint. And I don't insist on agreement that the treatment harmed me, but I evoke the  right to think and say so, and I want to suggest to PAT and Old MD that we agree to disagree on this issue.

> check if PAT is capable of understanding the concept "agree to disagree".  I haven't seen any signs of it so far.

> check if PAT is capable of seeing the process I have described in "The child who refuses to die" as a rational alternative to being helped by him to realize that I had "a sexual relationship with a priest".

> ask why PAT and Old MD dismissed what I said about my functionality as fantasies without asking if I could prove what I said. (It seems to be legal to override provable information with psychiatric "realities" without fact checking,  so that is not an issue. I just want to know why)







It is a huge relief to finally have seen arbitration as an alternative to discussions about whether PAT is right or I am crazy (and yes, the double bind is intentional), and at the same time a lump of inner anxiety is telling me that arbitration and psychiatry  might not be compatible.

Does anyone know if this is a viable alternative? Any information or experiences would be very welcome.


Feb 18th: rewritten for clarity

Er mekling mulig?

Det blir sannsynligvis ingen nye innlegg med det første, for  jeg jobber med en henvendelse til Konfliktrådet når det gjelder situasjonen jeg har beskrevet i Flokerydding 1 - for å finne ut om jeg har rett til å være freudfri i kontakt med  helsevesenet.

Jeg er lettet over å ha kommet på at dette er et alternativ, og samtidig sier en klump av indre angst at mekling sikkert ikke er relevant når det gjelder psykisk helsevern.

Er det noen som vet noe konkret om hvorvidt dette er et brukbart alternativ?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

THE WALL OF CRAP THEORY

zingerella wrote an article on Livejournal some time ago 
that I have found very useful, 
and I am copying it with her permission.



A long, long time ago, a friend took me to Alateen. She and I had bonded, in part, over the substance-abuse problems in our respective families, and she'd found a lot of good in the program. It didn't take with me, long term, but it didn't do me any harm, and some of the people I met there had some useful things to say, from their experience interacting with their own messed-up families.

The Wall of Crap theory is perhaps the most useful thing I took away from Alateen, and I don't think it's an official part of the program. Here's how it goes:

Throughout life, everyone has a certain amount of crap hurled at them. Some people get more crap, some people get less crap. Some people, the lucky ones, also get issued shovels, and spend their formative years being shown how to garden and constructing gardens in their hearts. So they're well equipped for dealing with the crap life throws at them. Sometimes it builds up, but they have their shovels, and use them and the crap to fertilize their gardens, and it's more or less okay.

Other people get only crap. They get crap from a very young age, and there's nobody to show them how to deal with it, because the people in their lives are dealing with their own crap, and throwing crap all over the place. So it builds up, in layers around their heart. After years and years of crap, their hearts, which may be beautiful, are pretty much surrounded in crap. Anything they try to send out is either trapped behind the wall of crap, or if it manages to squeeze out, it emerges covered in crap, sometimes to such an extent that it's impossible to recognize as anything that might ever have been beautiful. The same thing happens to anything that other people try to send in: if it gets in at all, it's covered in crap, and the person wonders why the world is throwing more crap at them. Because the crap is so thick, nobody can tunnel through from the outside, to find the beautiful heart. People get lost, and the crap sticks to them, and if they emerge at all, they too are covered in crap.

You can't really blame people for not wanting to be covered in other people's crap.

Sometimes, if the crapped-upon person can learn to recognize the crap, he or she can begin to reach through it, or learn to look for the openings. If a person's spent their entire life surrounded by crap, however, they don't always know to look for anything else—how should they? So you have people on both sides throwing love and kindness and whatever at a wall of crap, and people on either sides of the wall wondering why the people who profess to love them are giving them only crap to deal with.

Throwing more love at the wall of crap often doesn't do anything, because the person inside all the crap simply can't receive love that isn't covered in crap.

There may be one or two little tunnels through the crap, and something may get through these, but, of course, they're hard to find, and not entirely stable, and surrounded by still more crap. So even if you find a way through the crap, for some love to get through, it's not going to be easy or pleasant to get it to the person inside the wall of crap.


The person who explained the Wall of Crap theory couldn't tell me what to do about other people's crap. He didn't know if one could do much. Over time, I've learned that, when it comes to other people's crap, my choices are pretty limited. Since the CUP (crapped-upon person) can't see their own crap, and doesn't know that they're throwing crap at me, I can merely decide how much crap I'm willing to endure for the sake of whatever beauty I can see shining through the crap. I can shovel away from the outside, but there's never really any way of knowing what's inside the crap, or if I'm even digging in the correct direction. If I can find the tunnels, I might be able to get a shovel to the person inside, but after that, it's up to them to dig their way out.

They have to dig their way out, or tell me how to find the tunnels, and accept that once I get to them, I may not smell like roses.

See, I knew, when I was a teen, that my dad really cared about us, and really tried to love us. But his love, even when he wasn't drinking, was sometimes kind of crappy. And I would try to love him, and it would feel like nothing I did was right, like he wasn't seeing me. Understanding that his own rather messed up childhood, his drinking, and his dysfunctional marriage with my mom had given him way more crap than he could ever hope to shovel through meant that I wasn't the one sending bad love.

Since my Alateen days, my dad and I have learned to interact a bit better. I've learned to keep a cloth on hand, for wiping crap off of things, and not to expect him to send me bright, shiny love. If he lectures me about my professional life, it's not because he thinks I'm utterly incompetent—he's trying to help me, and I don't have to listen to all his advice. He's getting better at finding paths through the crap, too, and I think he's not feeling completely defeated all the time, the way he did with my mom. And being grown up means that I just don't have to deal with his crap all the time, anymore. I can walk away, and say "This crap is not my crap."

I've walked away from other CUPs—people who were so far behind their walls of crap that I couldn't hope to find them. People whose walls of pain and anger and other emotional ordure meant that no matter how much I wanted to love them, I could send them only things covered in crap, and they could respond only with more pain that I would send them crap. I mean who needs more crap? Their crap, however, is not my crap.

Right now, nobody in my life seems to be throwing crap at me. So it's easy to pitch in and help the people I love shovel the crap that comes their way, if they need it, and spread it around to see what grows.