Today the Tired Midnight Blogger is going to talk to ya’ll about the touchy subject of being in the way. I can hear everybody now….”What in tarnation does that have to do with anything?” Believe it or not, it is actually one of the most central themes of my life.
I’ll start at the beginning. My mother was both physically, and emotionally abusive. I don’t wish to belabor this too much, because I’m not intending to play on sympathy or anything, But my point is this: almost as long as I can remember I’ve had a feeling of not being wanted. Of being a pain and an irritant instead of a joy and a blessing. I know I was held a lot, and I vaguely remember that, but much more vivid was the times mother would turn a hate filled face toward me and start wailing away. She wanted a spotless house, and I was in the way of that. She wanted to sleep all day, and I was in the way of that. She wanted to eat half the food in the fridge, and I was in the way of that.
Get the picture?
Likely my readers are wondering “What in the world has this to do with all the recent stuff you have posted about relationships, abuse, and parenthood”? I have three reasons for writing about this.
- I’ve been reading a book where this is one of the main themes.
- I’ve been writing about the shadow side of feminism and this theme is key to understanding that shadow side.
- I am “adult child” of an alcoholic (as well as an abusive mother). We share certain key characteristics, and this is one of them.
A friend of mine loaned me some books the other day, and I finally finished one of them. The book was Jean Paul Sartre’s most famous novel, cited by some as the first work of Existentialism. The book title, simply, Nausea. It reminds me of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, because a lot of the narrative is in the protagonist’s head, the book has very little action. If I understand the book properly, Sartre is saying that life is dull and harsh and disgusting. He does not believe in God (or I believe he does not, if I am wrong, let me know in the comments), and therefor meaning does not come from “up above,” or from anything external to the universe. We make our own meaning of life. I need to do some more thinking (and overthinking….and rethinking….) about my own beliefs and how the book does or doesn’t fit with them, but there are several salient points it makes that I believe are very relevant to the reader no matter the world view from which you approach the novel. One of the most evocative moments in the book is when the protagonist gets a somber, sickening feeling of himself (and, frankly, of all life) being in the way.
And like the song says, “It’s all coming back to me now.” Maybe in the past I have read something similar. But I don’t remember any major philosopher’s talking about that feeling that has been with me all of my life. “You are not wanted. You are in the way. Everyone would be happier without you. You are taking up resources that would be better applied to someone or something else.” The only lesson that was more basic was “you can’t have what you want.”
On to my next point. Somehow I managed both to survive, and to end up with a scholarship (which I summarily lost), and went to collage. While there I was enrolled in a spiffy Honors course for English. The text book was Rhetoric in the Classical Condition. Along with that text the professor also printed out a fair number of handouts with articles that we would discuss or write papers about the rhetorical strength or weakness of the writing. I remember we talked at length about Kennedy’s speeches, Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream speech, Richard Nixon’s classic “Checker’s” speech. And a writing by a man who was very active in the feminist movement.
I can no longer remember (thirty plus years later) the man’s name, the name of the article, or frankly anything about it except one point in it. The author was at a feminist rally, and one of his feminist heroes gave a speech and was (for some reason I now forget) walking toward the direction of the man, and he decided this would be a wonderful time to tell her how much he thought of her and her work, and he asked what was the best thing he could do for the movement.
Her reply? “Get out of the way.” And then he finished the essay with a panegyric about how it was true, not just at that moment that he personally was barring this one woman’s progress to her car (or motel room, or villa, or torture chamber….hell….I don’t remember where she was going…and frankly, after her reply, I could barely care less) but that all men were essentially blocking all women from their God given right to happiness, and the world would be such a better place if we men, as the collective POS we are, would simply move aside.
When I was 19 I was supersensitive. I’d spent quite a long time feeling ashamed of being male. At this point I still had about six more years of wrestling with my masculinity. While I never did grow into a great paragon of masculinity (I use antlers in all of my decorating!) I did eventually forgive myself for the sin of being born male. This article was not helpful to me. I made the mistake of thinking this boorish woman spoke for all women. That basically, all women were like my mother. Now I know better, but at the time, it added fuel to the fire. Stay out of the way. Let the woman win. You have unfair advantages, so stay out of the game so it is an even playing field.
Now I realize that, while I have no more right to the desires of my heart than you (or any other man or women for that matter), I also have no less. And I have also grown up enough to realize that in no way does this woman really represent all women, or all feminists. Likely this is not even a fair event to judge her life time behavior by.
Having said that…..if you want me out of your way, you can either say “Please sir, would you let me through.” Or you can try to bully me out of your way and see how far that gets you. Sure, you might be able to push me to the side. But you had best hope you pushed hard enough I don’t get back up….
Ok, so I’ve rambled on in my bluster about how bullies, whether male or female, need not apply at the Hotel D’ Curtisimo Del Fuego.
Last of all….as I’ve already stated I am what is called an “Adult Child of an Alcoholic.” While I can’t find anything that exactly says “Adult Children of Alcoholics (and Dysfunctional Families, turns out there is a whole slue of bad parenting that leads to similar results) have a feeling of being in the way, there are plenty of characteristics which we share that I think can be stated more or less in this fashion…..
I’ll share some links with the information I’m about to share, so if you wish you can read more thoroughly about this fun set of grown up foibles:
Writing lyrics like that, I can tell she is an ACA. And the internet conforms it.
Writing about all of the characteristics of an ACA would be a two or three blog post series by itself (which I may do in the future if enough readers are interested). But here I will simply list the salient ones:
- We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
- We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
- We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
- We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
- We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
I’m already at 1863 words here, so I reckon I’ll call it a post. Hopefully any reader still willing to stick around to the end of this post understands that most of those characteristics either evolve from or into the whole belief that we misfits are personally in the way, that the world would be better off without us, and nearly every day (thought as long as I can pet my dog it isn’t quite every day) is a struggle to force yourself to live in a world that clearly doesn’t want you.
I’m truly sorry you went through tuff childhood. I believe it made you better, compassion it person. I hope you know by now the feeling of being in the way is the past. Noala loves her daddy very much. I know we don’t see eye to eye on everything but I’m glad we are on the same team. You know how to make me laugh. I love you the way you see me and I wish you see yourself the way I see you. You are on the right path getting help from your past PTSD is real life struggle and I know you are doing your best and working on it. Keep up the great job. People at work respect, love you and value your opinion. Don’t give up and look to your past in your back mirrors. We can’t change our past but we learn from it.
Stay strong old man!!! Lol
See you soon