Archive for psychobabble

KALEIDOSCOPE

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by kimmy

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like this.”

She twirled around and flopped into a chair.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  What can one say after hearing the complete contents of a life?

“You don’t seem surprised.”  She lit a cigarette and exhaled.  The smoke shot out of her nose like a comet.  “Don’t you have anything to say?”

I really didn’t.  Speaking seemed out of context, like someone clapping before the end of a movement.  I shrugged and waved to our waitress.  Another drink was a better idea.

She deflated a bit and sank into the cushions.  “I thought that you, out of all the people I know, would be quick with a smartass remark.  You kinda disappoint me.”

That was the first time I was criticized for keeping mum.  “Well, if you insist,” I said, removing the swizzle stick from my glass.  It looked like a little sword.  “I have a hard time believing any of that bullshit.  You only think you’re oppressed.  No one really cares what you do… or have done for that matter.” 

She smiled and took another drag.  I wondered if she cared about the tar building up on her porcelain veneers.  “That’s more like it,” she sneered.  “I thought you mighta lost your touch.”

I sighed.  She was determined to pick a fight, so I decided to give her one.  “The only thing that’s touched is your mind.  Have you lost it?”

“Who could blame me if I had?  It’s not like you’ve been very supportive…”

“If support requires mindless encouragement and participation in meaningless activities, then you’re right.  I’ve been shamefully absent.”

“This means something to me,” she said, trying to keep her voice modulated.  She stubbed out the cigarette and picked up her drink with a claw.  “You know, you could think of someone else besides yourself!,” she hissed, tapping the glass with a red talon.

She understood me so little, that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  “That might be difficult,” I said, playing along.  What would I gain if I tried to explain myself? It was so much easier not to challenge her thinking. 

The ruse worked.  “You’re the most self-absorbed person I know,” she said, visibly relieved.  “You ought to consider the feelings of others sometimes.”

Reducing the impact of others’ feelings was actually my biggest hurdle.  Funny how as my alleged friend, she was so quick to forget it.  I realized suddenly that we had nothing more to say to each other.

“I’ll remember that,” I said, quickly bowing out of the match.  I didn’t care if she thought ill of me.  It was only artificial opinion anyway.  No matter how many times I spun the tube, she’d never see me as I am.  I would be endlessly refracted by the lens of her own perception.

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DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

Posted in musings, relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by kimmy

I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous amount of empathy for him because I know exactly what he’s undergoing.  If there was an easier route, we’d take it.  However, how many of us really know where we’re headed when pain grips so tightly that all vision is temporarily halted?

Having been through it more than a few times, I know that the reward on the other side is much greater than the effort.  However, first-timers are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge.  It seems insurmountable, but that’s only an illusion concocted by the players.  If you extricate yourself before intermission, the ensemble will be short an actor and the drama suspended, causing resentment among those left onstage.  Pity we can’t send in an understudy…

Not that he would be welcomed.  A pinch-hitter is only as good as his predecessor.  It’s unlikely that he’s aped your habits well enough to fool the audience, or the blood demands of your fellow thespians.  So you must choose between your own wellbeing and that of the show.  Which will go on?

Of course the problem is that the longer the show goes on, the harder it is to leave it.  It’s like a long-running stage contract in Las Vegas or a sitcom with endless residuals.  It’s difficult to leave the steady paycheck and familiar routine.   And yet even these may not be enough for you, especially when you’re alerted to something greater beyond them.

Hence the quandry, which in essence is not conflict between others, but internal strife.  When you realize that the hot mess you’re in is of your own creation, suddenly you have no one to blame and the long watch begins.  It’s a lonely black night sitting with yourself, ruminating on all the detours you’ve taken.  You might rail against all those choices, despairing over your inability to hit the bull’s eye.  But who of us do on the first try?

You might feel ashamed that you didn’t learn sooner and had to involve so many people in your journey.  But how can you thank those who are ignorant of the role they’ve played?  Or angry and dismissive when you do?  No amount of explanation, however earnest, will convince them.  Just as you have, they must discover these subtleties on their own.

And they will… in time.  But for now you must sit quietly in the dark and wait.  The light of understanding will come, not carried on a tray by a rowdy host of friends and family, but slowly over the horizon.

DANGER: QUICKSAND

Posted in musings, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2009 by kimmy

If you’re not careful, it will pull you down and no amount of flailing will save you.  That’s the clever hitch in emotional quicksand:  the more you engage with it, the tighter it becomes.

The problem is, of course, we don’t even know that we’ve encountered danger until we’re neck deep.  What often appears to be random is actually a neatly constructed ruse designed to trap, and in our desire to please (or to rescue) we inadvertently step into it.

The captors are fully aware of your nature.  They know which button to push to elicit the response they require.  You might think those plaintive cries for help are genuine, but these are not the requests of hapless souls.  They are manipulative strategies.

Not so, you might tell yourself.  How could those eyes brimming with tears be anything but sincere?  Very easily actually, especially if you are stepping outside the box and trying new behaviors.  Those tears aren’t triggered by grief, but by anger and loss of control.

What is truly shocking is not that loved ones are capable of low behavior, but that we have been hamstrung by our own arrogance.   Have we become so deluded that we think others incapable of managing without us?  If so, we’re no better than the victims we aid.  It’s just as vain to think you’re indispensable as it is to believe you’re ineffectual.

Acknowledging your role is not always a sure way to avoid entrapment, but it will clear your conscience.  However, if you expect validation from the other participants, don’t hold your breath.  Some folks love the murky depths and shrink from the light.

OPENING PANDORA’S BOX

Posted in social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by kimmy

Does anybody really know what’s inside themselves?  Curiosity might lift the lid, but it’s the scary stuff within that prompts us to close it.  However, just like the evils that Pandora inadvertently loosed upon the world, we can’t force our own back into the box.

Self-examination ain’t for sissies.  All the nasty little behaviors that we are quick to spot in others are usually roosting within ourselves. How else would we recognize them?  I’ve often wondered if the reason we are quick to condemn others is because we secretly know we’re guilty of the same and want to punish ourselves in effigy.

Better someone else than me, right?  The only problem with that line of thinking is it rarely, if ever, delivers you from misery.  It just prolongs it.  If you know that you’re capable of low behavior, you can’t unknow it by passing the blame to another.

Why then is the process of redirecting so difficult?  Are we really so cowardly that we cannot face the truth?  Just yesterday, I listened to my neighbor complain about her wayward boyfriend.  Within the avalanche of angry tears and words, not once did she acknowledge her own hand in the events.

Nor did she mention the years of co-dependent behavior that fostered it.  Instead, as do we all, she focused solely on the perceived wrongdoing.  When I gently reminded her that she was free to walk away, she was appalled by the suggestion.  It seemed, despite her loud protests to the contrary, she was content with the degradation and almost reveled in it. 

Is that all there is, sacrificing ourselves, our lives and our happiness just to prove a point?  Is this a competition?  If so, what’s the prize?  It must be a good one, judging from the volume of people participating, captivating their limited imaginations like so many of the viewers of Dancing with the Stars.

Eventually even that mind-numbing opiate won’t conceal the task you’ve left unfinished.  If you think you’re itching now, just wait.  No amount of scratching will put it back into the box; you’ll have to face this one head on.

DYNAMIC TENSION

Posted in social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by kimmy

 

What’s to be done when the life you want is not the one you’re living?  Do you spend your time daydreaming of an alternate reality or take the steps necessary to realize it?

I have often heard that people are reluctant to change because they fear repercussion.  It could be argued however, that change occurs whether one is embracing it or not.    The real question is for whom are you living your life. . . .for yourself or for something or someone else?

It’s not such a strange notion.  When we are young, our dreams are big but unfocused.  They are usually linked to the expectations or karma of our families, and it’s not until we’re much older (and hopefully wiser) that we regain control.  But by then, we are so entrenched in habit that we fear starting again and just resign ourselves to fate.  This makes for an unhappy lot of adults who yearn for fulfillment, but are loathe to part with the familiar.  Over time, they forget that it was choice that shaped them, and their inherent joyfulness begins to fade.  They assume the mindset and physical form of the aged and bury themselves in distraction until death releases them from any further obligation.

But it’s never that easy.  Death will not discharge anyone from responsibility;  it can only delay it.  If there is a reason why you are slow to make change, consider the arguments against it.  It is not the repercussion of others that you should fear, but the enormous toll your own procrastination will levy.

THE DEEP END OF THE POOL

Posted in musings, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by kimmy

Have you ever been faced with an insurmountable problem and known that the solution lays at the bottom of the abyss?  It’s there, ripe for the plucking, if you can muster the courage to jump into the unknown.

Of course, what choice do you really have?  You can stay in the miserable place that has you trapped, or you can venture beyond the frontier.  There are no guarantees as to what you’ll find in this unexplored country, but that’s what all leaps of faith entail.

A cushy landing… isn’t that what we all expect?  A miraculous resolution to the problem that pushed us into the leap and assurance that not only will everything be all right, but that the new conditions will yield answers and unending happiness.

Perhaps that’s what we all seek:  a tidy solution to our mess.  The only problem is our conflicts usually involve others, and people always seem to have their own idea as to what is acceptable.  No matter how hard you try, you will never completely convey your idea to another because they do not have your particular perception.

The manner by which we view the world varies wildly, even among the like-minded.  At best, we hope for affinity and mutual respect.  However, most of us want more, a kind of soul-level understanding that is beyond human ability.  We want delirious love without condition, but are incapable of it. 

Why, then, do we insist upon asking the impossible from our partners?  Are we trying to avoid our responsibility, or the guilt when we discover that the love we seek is not of this world?  As much as we habitually make individuals the center of our private universe, we tear them apart when they fail to deliver.  It might be pre-emptive anger.  Better to strike first than to be found wanting.  At least when you’re on the offense, you don’t have to explain your own shortcomings.

But that’s only a temporary fix.  Eventually you will have to acknowledge that the blackhole in your soul is of your own making, and that everyone is struggling with the same disease.  It’s only when you realize that all of us are in the same boat, that you can develop a sense of true compassion. 

We are not alone in our delusions.  They assume different shapes, as unique as snowflakes, but they are all the same in essence:  expectation based on attachment to outcome.  But to what are we really clinging?  If we tie ourselves to fluctuation, then we will bob and weave with the motion.  No one person can steer you to safety if he/she is at the mercy of the same conditions.

Better to anchor one’s self in the unchanging, even if that decision requires a leap of faith so monumental that it scares you to the core.  Will you let your life be guided by fear, or will you resume control of it by surrendering control?