Thursday, February 12, 2015

Immaturity and Emotional Competence

"There's a wonderful feminist book by Dorothy Dinnerstein, The Mermaid and the Minotaur. It discusses how the exclusive role that women have in early childraising distorts child development. When the woman is married to an immature man, she is also a mother to her husband, so she hasn't got the openness and energy for her kids." ~ Gabor Mate, When the Body Says No.

I liked this quote so much and so instantaneously that I went to post it in a fb status update because I wanted it to be seen. I couldn't though because I felt without laborious explanation it would be seen as me griping about my own father, rather than myself.

I don't know how long it has been since I posted, but the time in between then has had me traverse much mental terrain. I feel quite reoriented towards my life, in a way both subtle and dramatic.

As Misaki would say of me 'I'm proud myself' for the uncanny foresite demonstrated in previous posts here about my penance and here about denial that turned out to really accurately describe what I went through in the last couple of weeks. (despite the fact that it turns out I don't know how to spell 'penance')

My subconscious kicks me in the arse some times. I actually have come to live in awe of it, and be moved by how desperately some times it tries to communicate with me.

One such time was in the semi-lucid waking hours of February 2nd, a Monday where I drifted into a dream I did not wish to wake from. This dream sparked off a chain of mental & emotional events. For starters, my penance actually began to work. The time and space that had built up as part of my penance suddenly clicked into place. By accident more so than design (but hey, subconscious?) I had managed to do the work that was necessary in order to do the work that was necessary in order to do the work that was necessary to actually serve my penance.

I drafted up a document that I think belongs historically along with the Cyrus Cylinder, the Napoleonic Code and the Declaration of Independence.

A veil of denial was lifted and finally I could confront myself without dissociating from myself. I could look at what I did, without dismissing it as some stupid former version of myself from 5 months ago - a totally different person (untrue).

Not that it was easy, shame and my brain still made it difficult. I didn't go metaphorically blind. I went literally blind trying to read my own words, once I had tasked myself with what to look for and relaxed all defenses of my ego. It was incredibly painful, and delving this dark aspect of myself had natural limits to endure. I could not do it all in one sitting. I cringed at my own actions too frequently and then literally went blind and couldn't perceive the words on the page.

But I got through that. It's an interesting experience that I could recommend to nobody, unless you really don't want to keep being a cunt into your future to everyone you know and care about.

So I wrote my apologies for what was owed.

And then I turned and I think finally took a walk in my new neighborhood. My quality of life improved immediately now able to understand and accept my actions and their consequences.

Leaving me with myself, and nobody else. (...and I must admit a forlorn terror knowing I would have to, at some point, tell Misaki just what I had done.) Here's what needs saying about acceptance - is that it is incredibly liberating. It's a good day.

Which brings me to emotional competence, immaturity and emotional repression. This is what I have to work on now. For me, maturation means accepting that I can no longer coast by letting myself behave like the child of my early developmental years. That means finding emotions that I experience below the level of consciousness and that I unconsciously repress and actually finding healthy ways to express them.

Everything is culminating. Step one is to do the work of mindfulness. The goal truly is the path with mindfulness. I know from past experience that it works and it works immediately. I have committed though to doing this daily, for 30 minutes trying to build up to 1 hour. This is what I owe to myself and everyone in my life.

I have the critical amount of self-awareness to now go the extra step and actually gain some semblance of control of myself. It's time to move from my substance sobriety onto behavioral sobriety.

I suspect currently, this means recognising a lot of stress and anxiety and stopping myself from repressing them, ignoring them. As recently as last year I wasn't aware I even experienced anxiety. (though it would be misleading to label myself as suffering from anxiety)

My penance also indirectly lead to having the space and time and inspiration to recognise my own anger as my own (rather than external) and both deal with it and let it go.

I plan to do the same with judgement. To catch myself, be aware and interrupt myself from escaping into judgement.

These are my particular obstacles to maturity. Emotional competence is what I need to overcome them. Building this emotional competence is my task now.

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