Saturday, 15 December 2012

Looks Like Leo Tolstoy Had Been There Before Me...

I'm reading  "Anna Karenina"  (I shamefully confess that it's the abridged version) and last night I came across a phrase that jumped off the page at me:

"not having expressed the one thing that occupied their thoughts, whatever they said rang false."

and on the next page:

"therefore Constantine (Levin) tried to do what all his life he had tried and never known how to do: he tried to say something different from what he thought; and felt all the time that it sounded false"

That's it, isn't it? Not being able to express the truth about how you feel makes everything else sound false. That is exactly how I feel when I talk with my FOO. Who would have known that Mr. Tolstoy had observed this same problem as far back as 1877. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Hollow Girl

       Yesterday was a good day. Today, not so much. I've had a couple of triggers that have sent me spinning. One of the triggers made start crying like I was never going to stop. Over the last few months I have been unable to cry, I would feel all the emotion well up in my chest and stop on the throat as if I had Snow White's poisoned apple stuck in it blocking my feelings from coming out. The other trigger was an email from a sibling asking if I'm angry with them (because they can't get hold of me). Always such drama. Always in a tone that makes you feel like you have to drop everything and run to call them, otherwise the world -their world- is going to end. I was thinking about how to reply and decided that I would -sigh- tell him the truth. "No, I'm not angry, I am..." then it struck me that I don't have a name for what I am feeling. This is the thing with growing up without being able to express your feelings, that when I finally muster up the courage to speak up, I don't have the words. I can tell you that after reading his email I felt like I had a hole in my chest. A big hole going from the sides of my ribs and from my throat to the end of my belly. Hollow like a cave. For years I just thought that my FOO were a pain, but still my family after all. Today I feel like my FOO are some people who just happened to share a house with me once but were never a family. Just some people thrown together by circumstances. And it really hurts, and it feels like a hole in the heart because that's what it is: an empty space. They're not there. They never were. They were too busy creating alternative realities for themselves.  Most of my life I have made excuses for them. Whether these excuses are valid or not, the fact remains: emotionally speaking, I do not have a father, or a mother, or a brother or a sister. I never have. I just thought I did. Grieving people who are still alive seems such a contradiction, but this is the reality. It is what it is. To not acknowledge it will only lead to more insanity.
        There is something different about today's episode: it felt more like grieving than depression. It also happened that someone that I don't know well heard me expressing my pain but I didn't mind. I did not mind that someone heard me cry. This is a really big step for me. And you know what? this person was very kind and understanding about it. I showed my pain and the world didn't end.
       I feel that I have crossed the forth wall from my FOO's stage over to the real world. I don't have to be a character in a recorded script anymore. I am allowed to be human.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I Hear Those Voices That Will Not Be Drowned

In Alderburgh beach there is a sculpture by artist Maggi Hambling dedicated to composer Benjamin Britten. The words pierced into the shell, as quoted in the post title, are taken from Britten's opera Peter Grimes. I don't know much about this opera or Britten himself, but this sculpture really touches my heart. Maybe because I grew up in a family where my voice was drowned and now I have finally found my voice and the voices of others that will not be drowned. Like fellow blogger Kitty @ Brave New Kitty said in both her recent comment on this blog and on her latest post "Planting Seeds": this is important work. Writing about our experiences and joining our voices in speaking up about what we see might make the difference between somebody going insane or being validated and having hope. I know hearing the voices of others has made a difference to me. 

Photograph by Andrew Dunne, 1 November 2005

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Spain as a Model of the Narcissistic Family

"Spain: white shirt of my hope,
sometimes a mother,
always a stepmother"
from a 80s song by Ana Belen

I recently read a BBC article on the current political climate of Spain: Unrest drags Spain towards buried unpleasant truths. I could see three fundamental traits of the Narcissistic family in Spain's recent history:

  1. The demand for Peace at the expense of the truth
  2. The obsession with Unity at all costs 
  3. The penchant for re-writing History

When I was growing up, nobody ever talked about the civil war (1936-1939). When we studied it at school it was rushed. My parents never talked about it. My grandparents didn't either. As a child I didn't think anything of it, but once I moved abroad and started to look at Spain from the outside it struck me as odd, particularly since in Britain they are always talking about the war (World War II). At first I thought that maybe it was about shame. The shame of fighting your own people. And that might have well been a part of it; but in recent years that I discovered that this not speaking about the war was an intentional act. There is even a term for it. The BBC article put it like this:

During the early years of Spanish democracy, forgetting about the Civil War (1936-39) was not just a psychological necessity - it was a political choice. The "pact of silence" instituted after the fall of General Franco was seen as a price worth paying for rapid, peaceful transition to a functioning democracy.

Peace at the expense of not talking about what had happened it's just so similar to what Nfamilies do: shove everything under the carpet and pretend it didn't happen. If you read any material on the subject, they all say that this silence was to ensue a peaceful transition. But is this really true? How does not talking about things has ever helped a situation? It sounds to me that it was more about letting people off the hook, because in whose interest is it that something is not talked about? Isn't it generally in the perpetrator's interests? Confirming my suspicions in this aspect, the article said this:
The approach was codified into law, with the 1977 Amnesty Law guaranteeing a blanket immunity from prosecution for those suspected of crimes against humanity during the Franco era and the Civil War.
This part of the article also made me cringe:
"Independence for Catalonia? Over my dead body… and those of many soldiers." That was how Francisco Alaman reacted to the 1.5 million strong demonstration in Barcelona last month, with many calling for independence for the region.
There is Colonel Alaman, threatening to defend "the non-negotiable principle of Spain's unity even with our lives"
Non-negotiable principle of Spain's unity? What unity? Anyone that knows anything about Spanish history knows that any unity that Spain has had over the centuries since Isabel of Castile married Ferdinand of Aragon, has been superficial and always at the expense of oppressing people. Sound familiar?

The article goes on to claim that "Consequent on Spain's neutrality in World War II, Franco was tolerated within the post-war order." I really don't get how anyone can say that Spain was neutral: Franco's ties with Hitler and Mussolini are well documented. How he managed to convince the western world that Spain had been neutral is beyond me.