Wednesday, June 10, 2009

All writey then

So part of the reason I haven’t been writing much is that I’m learning a lot.

This class – Jim calls it charm school – is consuming me. It is forcing me to look at what I do, why I do it, and how I feel.

That last one is tough for me. How I feel.

Remember that one bathtub scene in Pretty Woman? Not where Julia Roberts does a naked soapy impression of Prince. The other one – when Richard Gere explains how he was “very ANGRY” with his father and that years of therapy helped him say that without freaking himself right out the door.

Well I’m not angry with my father. But I am learning tons of really cool stuff about why I am the way I am and why I do some of the bat-shit crazy stuff I do.

Example, Hedy?

Here’s a big one. Get ready.

For most of my adult life I’ve been utterly convinced that something really horrible will happen and my life will come crashing down around me, and that it will be ALL MY FAULT.

It’s called catastrophic thinking.

It’s the idea that if things are going particularly well then I’m over due for something truly awful to happen.

The reality is, bad shit happens all the time.

But fantasizing about it – and no, I’m sorry to report that all my fantasies don’t involve a big fat Russell Crowe-Craig Ferguson sandwich – is NOT healthy. Some of us have negative fantasies all the time. Some people even act on them.

Anyhow. I’m learning that catastrophic thinking is not healthy; that living in fear that your life could come crashing down around you at any moment is not good.

Can you see how thinking that way all or even part of the time would have an impact on how I view the world and my role in it? It has given a decidedly temporary and unsettled feeling to any major endeavor of mine. Which might explain all of that career related turmoil from before.

So I’m learning how to change my patterns of thinking. Here's the really cool thing: changing the way I think is also changing the way I behave.
Remember the phrase ‘not so much’? It was the trendy thing to say about a year ago.

Here’s the most recent language trend I’m noticing: Beginning sentences with ‘So’.

Here’s how it goes. Ask someone a question like “How will you prepare dinner tonight?”

The trendy word hipster will say “So I want to make a salad, right? So I plan on cutting up the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives first.”


So let me know if you’re noticing it.
You want another big learn from my class?

Shit I don’t even know where to start on this one.

How we perceive God (especially from childhood) has an impact on how we perceive the world.

If you grew up with a punishing, vengeful God who gets off on getting all smotey on sinful six-year-olds, you’re probably going to have a different perspective on society than if you grew up with a benevolent, forgiving God who loves you know matter what you do.

It’s Old Testament vs. New Testament for you Bible freaks.

The concepts are abundance versus scarcity. Faith versus fear. Love and acceptance versus hatred and punishment.

How do you view the world?

Is it an abundant, loving place? Or is life scary and scarce?

Here’s where I’m at:

I grew up in a house where love was abundant. Hopefully you know by now that my Mom and Dad rocked the whole parenting thing and that my childhood was filled with lots of love and play. My brother Eric and I knew pretty much every day of our lives that we were loved and that we mattered.

However, I grew up with a God who was scary and vengeful. He did not love me no matter what. He loved me ONLY if I followed his impossible rules ALL THE TIME.

Here’s little 6-year-old Hedy: “Don’t lie? What the fuck? Are you kidding me?”

Kids lie. It’s part of growing up. It’s part of how we assert ourselves into adulthood.

Christ got that. He knew that people make mistakes. Sometimes really big ones.

But we’re all worthy of love and forgiveness. ALL THE TIME.

From this class, I'm realizing that what I learned about God and religion as a child contradicted the loving way my parents lived with us kids every day.
Here's an example of how I might apply what I'm learning to the Wife Rage situation from yesterday:

Me: So why do you get so angry when you can't reach your husband on the phone?
Mrs. Lecter: Because I'm afraid he's cheating on me.
Me: Why?
Mrs. Lecter: Because I'm afraid he will leave me for someone else.
Me: Why?
Mrs. Lecter: Because I don't feel good about myself and he might find someone he likes better.
Me: Why don't you feel good about yourself?
Mrs. Lecter: Because I'm not as young-thin-fun-sexy-whatever as I used to be.
Me: So the problem isn't so much with your husband as with you, right?
Mrs. Lecter: Fuck you.
Me: No, really. You're angry with your husband because he doesn't answer the phone but you're really angry and afraid because of how you feel about yourself. It really has nothing to do with his behavior, and everything to do with yours. Right?
Mrs. Lecter: Maybe. But fuck you anyway.

It's a process. See? The light bulbs don't always spark immediately but it's the talking/thinking part that matters.
Anyhow. Sorry to get all preachy.

Some of you probably don’t want to think about this stuff. Hell, half the time I don’t want to think about it. It’s exhausting. But it’s worth it.

I’m changing in small ways. People I love are noticing it. And that’s pretty cool.
I am listening to: Quiet office sounds
I am reading: Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times
And I am: Working on it


Susan's Snippets said...

Hedy -

Hopefully MOST people work on it, except for a particularly narcasstic ex-husband of mine...who (so far) has NEVER been able to comprehend having responsibility for doing ANYTHING wrong.

Ooops...I think I sounded a little bitter! I better restructure my thought process and be more positive when it comes to the father of my daughter and son.

but this way is so much more fun

Anonymous said...

That's so true about "so"... but I'm more bothered by the people that say "sort of"... you hear that a lot from the pseudo intellectuals on PBS or those talking heads on the news interview programs...
Makes me want to slap them!

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

Interesting and thought provoking. I have noticed a relationship between one's view of God and one's view on life, but hadn't heard it summed up so well.

You may have inspired me to a post on a semi-related subject... we'll see if I can formulate the ideas to make some sense.

As for your fantastical conversation with the cab driver's wife, I suspect it may have gone more like this:

Me: So why do you get so angry when you can't reach your husband on the phone?
Mrs. Lecter: Who the hell are you? Who asked you?
Me: Ummm, just a fare in your husband's cab. I noticed that ....
Mrs. Lecter: A 'fare', huh? So you're who he's been with?

Some people never get the lightbulb. No matter how bright you make it.

And finally - the use of "So" as a way to start a phrase. I think I use that. I think I have been influenced by Ira Glass who I believe starts every This American Life with the word "So." I could be wrong.

This paragraph was added merely as a test to see if anyone was still reading this comment by now. I do get longwinded sometimes, don't I?

jude said...

I become more proud of you each day; not just for what you've learned, but what you are becoming.