Monday, November 15, 2010


I found a great new magazine in a store when I was visiting my friend this weekend in Santa Cruz. It's called "Whore!: Fast, Feminist, and Feminine." I love this on so many levels I cannot even begin to explain. It had quite a few thoughtful essays, and is definitely worth a read.

What caught my eye immediately, however, was a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I tend not to like my husband's people all that much, with notable exceptions, of course. Goethe being an important one of those, along with a lovely group of German friends--all of whom except three live in the US or the UK. Enough said. Goethe wrote, "There is no art in turning a goddess into a witch, a virgin into a whore, but the opposite operation, to give dignity to what has been scorned, to make the degraded desirable, that calls for art or character." That's what's lacking in so much of adoption communication. Dignity and respect. There is not enough love, too much judgment, way too much sniping, and not enough acknowledgment of pain. I was thinking that so little has changed since Goethe wrote this, and it's shameful. Truly shameful.

My time with my friend Thomenon this weekend was wonderful. It is such a relief to be with someone who has known me inside out for 18 years. Who has been with me through thick and thin, who is loyal as hell, and who would take anyone on for me. Who speaks the same academic language that I do, and to whom I don't have to explain all my references. To laugh about our uplifting New Year's Eve in 2000 in which we watched both "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." He thinks I am Maggie the cat, which I take as a compliment. She suffered with dignity. He gave me a knowing nod, and said, "Yep, you're still driven by the literary," when he saw that I keep my subscription to the Times Literary Supplement current. We are both nerds and very proud of it. He prefers the term "intellectual," but I am happy with "nerd."

When I told him about how I have felt therapy wasn't helping me, and that I left each session feeling slightly discouraged, he gave a brilliant excursis on the limitations of empiricism in dealing with trauma, drawing both on Descartes and Stuart Smalley. You can't will yourself to feel differently inside. You learn to accept how you feel and integrate that into your life. Not that it's easy to do, by any means. He also pointed out that all my denial that I want the love of C is self-protection: I may say that all I need and want is my brother, but Thomenon is right. I *do* wish that C loved me. It's a huge wound to have your mother deny you and hate you. And yet that's my reality. I cannot change it. What I can do is try other routes and take care of myself as best I can. Although it's hellish right now, I feel more whole knowing about who I was born to be. While I argue with my brother's statement, "It just wasn't meant to be," because it's a choice, not destiny, I can't argue with how my brother and mother feel toward me. It simply is.

Thomenon and I also had a thoughtful discussion about therapy and how it can create a skewed power dynamic. The therapist is trained, has credentials, and should be there to guide the client through things, but too often they can abuse their position as a pulpit, offer useless advice, or just don't listen. I have friends who I know are great therapists, but there are plenty of them I've seen who became therapists to deal with their own issues, and are driven by insecurity.

I don't dislike my therapist, but I have left nearly every session wondering why I was there. I have seen seven or eight therapists in my life, and the "talking cure" hasn't worked for me at any juncture. I think my problem is that I need to have enough money to see a psychiatrist who is smarter than I am, but I can't afford such a luminary. So I am opting for peer therapy, medication, and retail therapy right now. Not necessarily in that order.

I did feel free to give feedback when I "broke up" with my therapist today, most of which was taken in good spirit. The only thing that truly annoyed me was that my therapist, although I corrected him numerous times over the months, persisted in calling me "Kare-ah." That is not how I pronounce my name, although I recognize that it's the more common pronunciation. I have stopped correcting people who mean nothing to me, because there is no point. When I am polite and redirect people, the majority don't take it in and compute it. It usually comes down to my friends fighting the battle for me, especially in classrooms, because they care more about defending my identity in public than I do. But in a therapist-client relationship, it should be about respect. Seriously. His excuse for messing up, week after week, was that he has a daughter whose name is pronounced "Lare-ah." Umm, okay. But that's not my problem. I recognize that humans make mistakes, but if you have a relationship with me and say my name incorrectly, I will note it if you don't take my correction and apply it. It means you don't give a shit. Yep. I notice, really notice. I used to want to jettison my name, not that I think it's terrible or anything--I like that my father chose it for me--in favor of my middle name, "Jane," which is hard to screw up. And yet I wonder if "Jane" were my given name, would people still eff it up? Probably. I have that vibe.

I have also been thinking about how, inevitably, when people are going through their shit, they tend to make proclamations about what everyone else should/shouldn't do in light of their shit; in other words, they are masking their own shit in pretty demeaning rhetoric. I read blogs and can tell what kind of crises people are having by their blanket proclamations. "Adoptees feel no trauma," yep, you got some. "Adoptees shouldn't say they love their aparents to fparents," umm, does your kid not love you the way you want to be loved? In competition with their aparents, much? "People shouldn't self-diagnose with PTSD, and if they are truly mentally ill, they are 'prohibited' from hurting others." Did someone tell you to move on, so everyone else has to?

That's why I admire people who live their lives with dignity, don't put their baggage on others, and support people where they are, without offering prescriptions or proscriptions. My friend Thomenon is one. My friend Lori is another. She has always taken responsibility for her actions, told everyone about the son who was *taken* from her, wanted him back with a vengeance, and has built a wonderful relationship with him. She told any man she dated that he had another son out there, and they came as a package. THAT is dignity. No excuses, lots of love.

Can't wait to see Harry Potter 7 at 12:02 Friday morning.

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