Friday, December 14, 2007

Failure to Thrive

La-la-la-la-la, la la la la! Pretty Lady, she will have you know, just placed two homemade, cherry-free fruitcakes in the oven on Slow Bake, to the tune of A Winter's Solstice Reunion. This officially signals her entrance into Holiday Overdrive. All Scroogelike carpers, whiners, and holiday depressives please be forewarned, and keep your distance.

Pretty Lady has never been able to understand people who engage in such dismalness every December, simply because of Lousy Family Memories. It seems to her that if one's family of birth was lousy, the onset of adulthood is a fine and exciting opportunity to get another one. After the age of eighteen, she is fairly certain, a person is no longer a prisoner; a person may go where he likes, befriend whom she chooses, and decorate according to her own taste. There seems to her to be no excuse at all for voluntarily perpetuating Familial Dysfunction, one second longer than one is forced, by youth and economic dependence.

(In fact, she knows of at least one fellow who took to the streets of Mexico City at age 10, because of unsatisfactory nuclear family issues, and got himself adopted by a couple of gay gentlemen who took an interest in his mind. Very unfortunately, the family who could not be bothered to feed, educate, or cease beating him black and blue nevertheless felt that this environment was a danger to him, and sued to get him back. Then they recommenced the beating and the starving. Alas.)

Regardless of the existence of much misery in the world, then, Pretty Lady dares to be Happy. She is all the happier this year, because her nuclear household is unwontedly full of companionship, affection, and the building of indoor fountains. Pretty Lady finds that although the axiom 'You don't need a partner to be happy' is technically a true one, in her case it helps a lot.

In fact, she noticed that last week, upon returning home after a short absence, she found her partner slightly Moody. Wherewith, she showered him with diffident Food and Affection, and he perked up! Just like watering the garden! Pretty Lady had to admit that she was rather surprised. All too often, in past years, when she has showered a partner with home-cooked meals, casual backrubs, and a sympathetic ear, her partner has not perked up at all. All too often, she developed a habit of dumping a home-cooked meal on his doorstep, and running away, in order to avoid the inevitable Backlash--the carping, the whining, the Rage and Depression and Squirrelly Paranoia.

Pretty Lady is heartily thankful that the past is, indeed, past.

However, upon cautiously entering upon this new season of Comfort and Joy, it occurs to her that such episodes of Affection producing Squirrelly Paranoia are not exactly normal. The healthy human temperament, she is almost certain, requires Love in order to thrive. What then, does it mean when the application of generous helpings of Love to a test subject fails to produce symptoms of thriving?

Her inchoate hypothesis is that, in such instances, that person's Love receptors are occluded in some way. That Love is being given, but not received. This, in laymen's terms, is referred to as a 'block.' Just as a creative block prevents the ideas from flowing, an emotional block prevents the heart from believing it's true. This is a sad situation for all.

So what to do about this?

Well, first, Pretty Lady always recommends a Reality Check. It is always possible that what one perceives as Giving Love is not what is required by the receiver. It is no use expecting one's application of homemade fruitcakes to be received with cries of joy by a diabetic. More subtly, if one's little girl persists in an irritating infatuation with ballet, she will not thrive under a constant application of dowdy clothing and Serious Textbooks, no matter how much you think she ought to enjoy medical school. People are who they are, and the best of intentions will not change them.

However, once one's reality has been checked and double-checked, and the excellent fruitcakes are still being hurled over the wall with snarls of anti-capitalist rage, or deprecating little sniggers, it is time for a Major Check. Simply, it is time to Back The Hell Off. This is an exceptionally difficult task for the committed love-giver, as Pretty Lady is certain all her readers are; nevertheless it must be done. It is not good for the soul to hang around for much of this. As Pretty Lady can sadly attest.

It is quite possible that once one has Backed The Hell Off, that this may conclude as a permanent state of affairs. One is not a saint; one is unable, usually, to Heal the World. However, Pretty Lady is beginning to believe that if one Backs The Hell Off soon enough, before significant damage has been sustained to one's own love receptors, it is sometimes possible to merely watch, and wait, and harbor a quiet stream of love from a distance. Then, perhaps, the moment may come when a casual issuance of love goes unrejected.

Coming up next: How To Heal one's Own Blocks.


Doom said...

Nice, that last. Though, and of course, I enjoyed the whole read and various thoughts. But silly girl, don't you know we have to be burned before we learn? Oh, I'm talking about learning to back off, or, love.

I had a notion, earlier, on another blog, about this topic. I wrote a rather long, carefully worded, deep comment, then decided to spare those readers. In reading your blog, I decided to actually write and submit. Sorry readers. Anyway, I think I have discovered my part of that problem, and perhaps many of our problems. Some people just cannot fit together. It is not a high brow versus low brow, or liberal versus conservative thing. Men and women are so different, our language only sounds similar, so we will never "be alike" or even really be very similar in most ways (hopefully). No, for love to work something real yet perhaps completely intangible as to definition and quantity has to exist. I think it even works with potential friends. Either our spiritual, intellectual, and bodily mechanism mesh and react properly or they do not. Your love might equal my pain, or just the opposite. I am hoping you have found that which you need, want, desire, and may cherish. With food and attention winning the day though, it sounds like you made a more than casual acquaintance with a fine man indeed. imho

I also wanted to support (and add my vote) for a Merry Christmas season. Not so much on the commercial side (which will put me in a foul disorder), but in the spirit of the season, the real one. Now that I do not watch tv, avoid "news" papers, and have stricken most advertisements from my internet experience, I find I really do enjoy Christmas, even in my single-hood. When I can be with family and friends, I go there. When I cannot, I relax and remember. As well, I contemplate the reason, my understands, of what this time is about. A little lady, or a tall one, would fill out the experience perhaps. A few young ones might be quite a joy as well. But I like what I have, anything else would merely be better.

How is that for a little holiday spirit? Perhaps it is not profound, but at least it isn't negative. So, Merry Christmas, or... whatnot.

Desert Cat said...

My dear Lady, you have some Bad Experiences in your history.

Were I to be moody from the absence of my beloved, I would most certainly perk up if her reappearance was also accompanied with a shower of affection and food. Oh MY! I'd be positively giddy.

k said...


Does the blockage concept have anything to do with that good *Heart* painting?

Pretty Lady said...

Some people just cannot fit together.

Absolutely, my dear Doom. Most people simply do not resonate, no matter how sincere the goodwill between them. It is possible to be Friendly Acquaintances with the vast majority of persons, but one can only be intimate with a very, very few. Coming to understand this fact was the first of Pretty Lady's many hurdles.

you have some Bad Experiences in your history.

Don't I, though? What's odd is that I wasn't even aware that things weren't right at the time.

Does the blockage concept have anything to do with that good *Heart* painting?

Very much so. I'm working on one now about how it feels to unblock. It's difficult and exhilarating.

k said...

Some of those bad experiences in our history are remarkably alike. They include the type of thing you just described, all the way down to the contemporaneous lack of understanding that this wasn't right.

Some of the ones we wasted tenderness and compassion on? - I'm firmly convinced they did not actually want those good things. At least, they didn't want the healing result. They didn't want to perk up like watered and fed flowers.

So why did they attach to those of us who wanted to give that sustenance to them? It wasn't as if they outright rejected our approach at the very beginning, correct? Not at all. In fact, they generally displayed manipulative behavior to encourage it.

I think what at least some of them wanted was to have us forward that nurturance upon them for the sole purpose of then spitting upon it, stomping the life out of it, throwing it not only over the balcony but slamming it back into our gut, into our heart, with premeditated force.

I recall extremely skilled, subtle, clever, long-lived, nasty work along those lines. This process mattered very much to them.

On their part, it would start with a sort of due diligence - making sure the tenderness was real and true, the nurturance was truly given freely, with no strings attached. In myself, I recall a responding sense of the great importance of proving those things were real and valid.

After the quality assessment period came a concerted and dedicated effort to destroy the nurturance.

I had a distinct feeling that the usual purpose behind the destruction was either to prove those good and kind feelings on our part were actually not real after all, or that even if they were real, they were of no strength or no value. By extension, we were also either false, or of no value.

I think this is part of the purpose behind certain serial crimes as well.

k said...

I can't wait to see the new painting. Every time I look at the heart painting I feel different things.

The overriding one, throughout, is an almost overpowering need to remove the blockage.

I think all of the above, on your part and mine, is not by coincidence.

Chris Rywalt said...

Hey, Doom, have you read Eric Berne's Games People Play and Beyond Games and Scripts? Berne says what you say, except in his terminology, people seek out and connect with others who fit into complementary roles in their psychological games and scripts. It's very interesting, although those two books are somewhat dated.

Pretty Lady said...

Good heavens, k, that is a deeply disturbing assessment. You seem to have encountered more thorough sociopaths than I. I believe that at least part of what you say is true; however, in my case, I believe that at least part of the abuse came from the person's thwarted Higher Self, and was an attempt to drive me away before the Lower Self perpetrated severe damage. At least, that's how I came to see it long afterward.

Fortunately, it worked.

Doom said...

I just thought though, Pretty Lady, that getting hurt is the best way to learn, and the hurdles help us stretch. Life isn't a race, truly, so a few slow downs aren't all bad. Beside, with the surety of death, who would want to win that race? *grins* And for even those who can't see it that way, they must know they cannot win the race. Anyway, I am just happy we seem to have found our way to some hurdles, and are still here to learn from them. I have seen some beautiful things, the hands that helped me up after the falls and the hands that, while causing pain, helped in recovery. I hope others can see it this way.

Be warm, be well.

Pretty Lady said...

I agree, Doom, there are many things I would never have learned at all if it weren't for getting terribly hurt. Those things were necessary for me to learn in order to be happy and successful--so the pain was, indeed, an answer to a prayer.

k said...

That's certainly possible. There are some very serious things swimming around there in my past along these lines. The phrase *nightmare memories* is in my profile for a reason.

For me, while I didn't understand what was happening or why - not for lack of effort, either - at least I tended upward with each new relationship. I sort of fumbled my way around in the dark, but in the right direction, toward healthier relationships.

It took a very long time to understand it even a little. These days, I feel comfortable in my ability to assess those things. Comfortable in my right to be happy, to be respected and to have my own needs met - including my need to nurture. Finally.

It was strange, partly because it's never been easy to fool me except in love. Since I was born, really, correctly assessing the characters of people around me has been second nature. I don't get taken in by charlatans of all stripes, not even here and there like most people do - not by friends, contractors, borrowers, co-workers, preachers, what have you.

Only got fooled in love. And that, in ways that were sometimes difficult to survive.

What strikes me about that kind of sick behavior is that it fits my own personal definition of *evil.* Unfortunately, that's a word that gets casually tossed around a lot, especially the past couple of decades. I see it as the force of unnatural destruction, and as more common, banal and ordinary than most people view it. Simultaneously, I also view it as more horrid somehow than they do, perhaps because I believe it's closer than many seem to think.

You have a more positive view of those personality types, if you consider that their better parts were pushing you away to protect you from more damage. I hope, very much, that was the worst you were associated with.

I seem to have crossed paths with - or be drawn to - too many that performed the script-following behavior discussed in the books Chris mentioned, in very particular ways. Their scripts were performed to answer a need in those people that really had nothing to do with me personally.

Of course, neither did the hurricanes. But they damaged me anyway.

The needs those people wanted to be met? They didn't want to perk up. That wasn't it. They needed to prove something, over and over; they needed to control someone new, as if it meant they were controlling some person from their past. They were replaying those old scripts in a way that would give them a Happy Ending. Taking people like me as little doll figures and plunking us into the destined Roles.

Many of us do a mild sort of script replaying, of course; but for the ones I'm talking about here, the behavioral levels and degrees, and the underlying motives, were pretty sick.

Motives like revenge fed into it. The revenge was not always righteous - if revenge ever is, of course. But from what I could tell, it was usually not valid in any sense. Frequently, the consciously identified figure from the past was simply another victim, not someone who truly perpetrated a wrong upon them. Other times, there seemed to be no more wrong done than leaving unsatisfied the selfish demands of a two-year-old who wants all the food from the table, and also wants to be sure no one else is permitted to eat except for them.

Health was not the objective these people sought in any relationship. Perhaps they thought it was, but it clearly was not. That's why they not only rejected healthy nurturance, they'd try to destroy it. To let it live might prove them and their whole script invalid. Instead of setting them free, that threatened their very existence.

Sometimes people don't understand how a person who's lost so much can be so content. How can this former hard-working, high-achieving bankbuster be happy while sicker than a dead dog, and twice as marred and scarred, playing in her garden and laying out brick paths - at least, when she's not sleeping?



I love peace. I always have. I craved it, I was starved for it; I had no idea what it looked like or felt like or what shape it ever took, or where on earth one finds it; but I knew without question that I must have peace.

Now I do.

I wouldn't go back to those old days for anything. Never. Never.

Pretty Lady said...

I see it as the force of unnatural destruction, and as more common, banal and ordinary than most people view it. Simultaneously, I also view it as more horrid somehow than they do, perhaps because I believe it's closer than many seem to think.

Indeed. Perhaps this is the result of a sheltered upbringing, but I see it the same way--common, and horrid. I never cease to be shocked and bewildered and, usually, blindsided by it.

What I particularly do not understand is when evil is perpetrated wilfully and consciously, by intelligent persons who spend their time considering such things. Because on no level does it make sense; evil comes back to you. It comes around as surely as you put it out there.

And yet people do it, and do it, and see what they're doing, and they do it again.

I do not understand.

One thing--as I work with 'forgiveness,' I have to first learn how to forgive myself, for the mistaken beliefs that put me in those situations in the first place. And it generally isn't forgiving myself for anything other people would call a 'sin.' I don't think the obvious 'sins' were sinful at all; it was the devaluing of self, the mortification of my spirit, which was the true mistake.

The second thing is that 'forgiveness' has nothing to do with calling it like I see it. And I see that narcissism, malice, spite, envy, sabotage, manipulation, carelessness, indifference and cruelty are wrong. Lashing out pre-emptively is wrong. Wilfully doing something to hurt someone else is wrong. Their effects on me will vanish if I let go of my grievance; but the other person is still a slave to evil, as surely as they let themselves be ruled by these things.

Doom said...


I think the reason you were so gullible in love is because of some innate attraction. Perhaps an attempt to heal deep wounds in others, perhaps your chemistry set was, urhm, mixed up.

As far as evil, I do watch my own world too. I know that it can be closer than I want, much closer... under the skin. And, for me, that is the most horrid. I am not saying I AM evil, or that I wish to be, only that without a close eye, I can be evil. In a culture that doesn't believe in evil as a manifestation or as an external only thing, evil has become commonplace. So, I walk with God as often and best as I may. And I look at how people present, over time. It is by the fruits they will be known.