Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Iain McGilchrist himself writes (on p. 214), "I'm well aware that hemispheres are not people." But as I was reading today all I could think of was the dynamic between old paramour and myself, left brain dominant v. right brain, Apollonian v. Dionysian, Mars v. Venus. I'll stop short of male v. female. Uncanny though. I wasn't looking for it - my mind would just go there.
... the most obvious fact about the relationship between the hemispheres is that it depends on separation and mutual inhibition, which is coherent with the view of the relationship between the phenomenological worlds of the two hemispheres, according to which each must, for different reasons, remain ignorant of the other. At the second level, that of their more global interaction over longer time periods that form the basis of conscious experience, the evidence is that the relationship is not symmetrical or reciprocal, with the advantage being taken by the left hemisphere. There is therefore a conflict of asymmetries. [227]
Word. Although I still think he follows my blog on an invisible RSS feed. What do I care anymore? I try not to think about him. Sometimes he seeps in, like flood water through a door, but I will him out of my thoughts. Sometimes audibly. With a shudder such as on a second walk this afternoon in the perpetual gloaming of this wet day: "oh don't even go there." And so I don't.
A sort of stuffing of the ears with sealing wax appears to be part of thenormal left-hemisphere mode. It does not want to hear what it takes to be the siren songs of the right hemisphere... [235]

Ultimately I was disappointed, and I did expect a little bit more from him than he was able to parsimoniously give. That he did not ever wish to meet, after 35 years, still confounds me, and is painful. But there it is. I am excising it, yet again. I did have an expectation.
The left hemisphere is competitive, and its concern, its prime motivation, is power. [209]
I have none with my new friend (yes friend - I guess). There's no context, no history, no background - it really is very, very light, truly, couldn't be lighter, and that's really nice. But that was not the case with old paramour. He did not do right and I will not forgive him. I am forcibly putting him into the dustbin with other people (mostly family members) who in my life disappointed me to an extent that I could no longer deal with or ever forgive.

I'm sorry to wax so dark this afternoon. My mood actually isn't so dark, mostly I've been laughing quite a bit today, sort of like the Sally Hawkins character in the Mike Leigh film, Happy Go Lucky, I think it was called. I see a lot of absurdity and it does make me laugh.

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. She died in 1990 at age 58. If my math is correct I guess she would have been 79 yesterday. I felt I should say something about her but to this day I feel so ambivalent about her that it is hard for me. I suppose she "meant well" and she had an enormous burden of pressure and lack of support, etc. And yet. In our culture we're supposed to always wax misty-eyed over our mothers and I cannot ever summon that feeling towards her. We were in constant conflict as I was growing up, and here I am all these years later. I thought the feelings might have resolved into a sort of forgiving nostalgia, but they actually haven't. They've hardened, I'm afraid, against her. I'm not "proud" to say that. It's a very difficult thing to say. It's in my internal monologue a lot, but I rarely express it. I wish things could have been different but they weren't. On a very profound level for me, she made it seem that it was a very bad idea to have children (my father too, communicated that). She (they) had four. I sometimes think I might have enjoyed having one, a daughter especially, but I wonder. It's too late now for me, biologically almost certainly, but also I think I'm just too set in my ways, and too physically fatigued. Or I'd entertain the idea of having a little girl if a lot of physical labor were taken out of it, as in the "good old" wealthy Edwardian days, where I'd be "upstairs" playing with and educating my daughter, while the physical work were taken care of by others. (I was never like that - this really is my physical fatigue talking. That it would be nice to have a child, but so much of the physical effort surrounding it would be too much -)

What do I mean? My parents had four children and they didn't enjoy the experience. All of us suffered, children and adults alike. It's not a blame thing, exactly. It's just that it was so messed up, so unhappy. What if they'd had just one? That would have been me - the eldest. And then I have two brothers, and then my sister, seven years younger than me. I used to have crazy conversations with my mother as I was growing up - "why did you have so many children? do you miss your fifth child"? She'd give me some answer about inadequate birth control "in those days." So they had four. And my parents were miserable together.

I might have been happy with one. Maybe. Honestly - I don't know, in myself. I might be kidding myself. Maybe I was never cut out for it and - well, here I go. You know what feels strange to me? I've never been pregnant, ever, to my knowledge. That just seems like a really huge deal to have missed out on. And I feel ambivalent about that too - maybe I was afraid of that. I overheard a lot of over the fence woman neighbor chats about dreadful pregnancies and labor. I thought, no that's not for me. Also, thinking back while on this abysmal track (so sorry, my dear readers) I had decided around age 10-12, on getting an inkling of "periods" (something my mother never, ever talked to me about in a mother/daughter kind of way). There was some loophole in some literature I'd managed to confiscate (because my mother wanted to keep me even from the fifth grade filmstrip informational for which a permission slip was required, but somehow I found the letter (maybe it had been mailed to the house, rather than brought home by me) and when I found out that she was going to keep me from that I just about threw a fit, and so I did end up attending the mystifying filmstrip in the darkened classroom with a lot of other fifth grade girls, quite a number of them considerably savvier than me. So anyway, there was some reference to how a tiny, tiny percentage of girls are so built or wired or hormoned that they never get their periods. I decided on the spot that I'd be one of them. Which blithely got me out of worrying about the impending whatever-it-was, it bought me a few years. In a seventh grade girls' locker room the vixen cheerleader types jeered at me ("Carrie" style) when they were comparing notes about their periods, and I asked in all innocence - "does it hurt?" Finally sometime in eighth grade I got mine. I had to cope on my own. My mother was no help. She was cooking spaghetti, stirring a big pot in the kitchen when I Came Downstairs With My Big Announcement. My mother didn't even stop stirring the pot. She said, there's Kotex in the linen closet, to which my brothers I think, seated at the kitchen table, started tittering. And I returned upstairs on my own, freaked out at the betrayal of my body, angry at my mother, not really knowing what to do. But especially angry at my mother - because that filmstrip I'd seen in fifth grade. It was all dewy and misty and involved a Mom sitting down with her daughter and putting an arm around her and saying this is your special time and now you're a woman and then I think the mom took her daughter roller skating or something - anyway, there was just all this really nice little special attention in a really nice appealing comforting way. Instead days later, evidently my mother had mentioned to my father that I'd gotten my first period and he and I were pretty much sworn enemies and I swear - he leered at me. (And no, I've never been sexually abused - it's just I think he had some weird cultural thing... anyway.) That first week of my menarche I spent a lot of time sitting in the filled bathtub (for some mysterious reason water inhibits menstrual flow) in order to stop my period. I was miserable, and entirely alone, entirely uncomforted by my mother - who herself, had never had a mother (hers had died in my mother's infancy) and so didn't have this sort of daisy chain of legacy of mother/daughter support to pass down. A week or two of constant bereft sobbing went on, on my part, way past whatever the length of my first period. One day my mother had gone to the Ridgeway Shopping Plaza, to the Gimbel's there, and had bought some towels on sale, pretty ones, pink & white checked with a floral border. For me. A gift, for me, for my period. And you know? I was immensely comforted and cheered up. A few years later I figured out how to use tampons and life got a whole lot better after that!

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