Thought Jam Session

A 50 year old woman playing with a Barbie doll…

Sounds like a Sabian Symbol. A cryptic crossword clue. Something a spy might say to identify themselves to another spy: “Hello there, Stranger, I wonder if you could help me, I’m looking for a 50 year old woman playing with a Barbie doll, have you seen her?

It’s sort of a mix of all of those since it was a statement I made about myself in a dream.

The dream: I was in a public space, wandering around. There was a man and a woman, whom I think were in their mid-20’s, deep in conversation. I paused to look at them which made them pause to look at me – the expressions on their faces informed me that perhaps I should look at myself instead, which I did.

I thought that I was standing up doing nothing but wandering around, but apparently I was sitting on the floor, legs spread like a ‘V’ with a Barbie doll in between them. I was playing with her long yellow hair.

I felt a bit awkward – that type of awkwardness which occurs when you’re not sure what you should think about yourself and what you’re doing which others have caught you doing. Should I be embarrassed, ashamed for doing something which is perhaps considered age-inappropriate, should I immediately stop what I’m doing and apologise to strangers for the sight they might not be able to unsee?

After a second or two of deliberation I went with brazenly owning the moment and myself, my actions, and said: “I’m a 50 year old woman playing with a Barbie doll.”

That was that. That’s where the dream ended. I woke up satisfied as though I’d solved that cryptic crossword clue and could move on to the next.

In dreams I might play with Barbies, but in RL I haven’t done that for decades. I stopped when I became a teenager – not because I felt it was time to stop due to my age, but because that activity was something I no longer found interesting. It didn’t do for me what it had once done for me… so why keep doing it.

I didn’t play Barbies the way TV adverts, shows and films depicted it. Apparently the way I played it was unusual to a degree because whenever I introduced my friends to my method they would at first look at me as though I was insane (not dissimilar to how the man and woman looked at me in the dream)… and sometime later they became addicted to my version of the game.

My Barbies did dress up and go out on dates, but there was usually a serial killer or some other psycho involved, evil kings and queens (my parents), mythical beings behaving badly, shipwrecks and other catastrophes which maimed, killed or stranded the Barbies (and Kens and Skippers) in wild and dangerous places which required that they change their way of being and living to survive.

Thinking about it… some of my stories were similar to K-dramas. Perhaps that’s why that genre appeals to me. Although it’s been getting on my nerves lately and I’ve moved on to other Asian dramas.

I watched a bit of – Green Door – the other night (the night I got stressed and sick). In it this psychologist meets a woman in the street who is acting strangely – she’s arguing with a street food vendor, telling him to stop calling her “Miss” because she’s a man not a woman. The psychologist gives her his card and tells her that he can help her with her gender identity disorder. She goes to his office and tells him her story – she’s a male gangster who, after a brawl with his gang, jumped out of a window to escape, landing in a garbage skip and impaled himself on a piece of wood. While he was dying in an alleyway, a woman came up to him and he somehow possessed her body. The psychologist decided she probably had DID instead – he was very pleased to have diagnosed her so quickly and efficiently.

What I liked the most about the show was the way the female actress played her part as a man in a woman’s body. Her behaviour and demeanour was what might be considered inappropriate for a female but totally appropriate for a male. I found her very attractive like that…

I think it may have partly inspired the dream about the 50 year old woman playing with a Barbie… my Barbies often disguised themselves as men, often got caught up in stories and scenarios like that, and didn’t really behave appropriately for Barbies.

Empress of the Aliens Barbie Doll at Barbie Expo Les Cours Mont-Royal

In many ways playing Barbies when I was a child was a therapeutic activity, a way of processing all the chaos and drama going on around me, and expressing the conflicts and confusion it caused internally.

I flashbacked to some of that this morning.

While browsing Psychology Today, I read this article – Parental Alienation: Five Errors in Thinking Alienators think like criminals. by Stanton E. Samenow

Three of the 5 points the author discusses stood out the most for me:

1. Control
The alienating parent deploys a variety of tactics to gain control over the child. Consequently, the child experiences distress from being in the middle of his parents’ warfare. A tug of loyalties ensues when a parent becomes intent upon winning the heart and soul of the child. While declaring that he is acting in the child’s best interest, the alienator endeavors to establish complete control over his child’s emotions and behavior vis-a-vis the other parent.

The alienating parent despises the other parent so intensely that he considers this individual toxic to the child and of little value overall. The alienating parent may coach his son or daughter so that the child feels disloyal even to have a positive thought about the other parent. 

– excerpt from Parental Alienation: Five Errors in Thinking Alienators think like criminals. by Stanton E. Samenow

3. Shutting off Conscience
The alienator eliminates from consideration whatever awareness he has of harming the child or anyone else who is affected. He represents to others and comes to believe himself that he is benefiting the child by whatever action he is taking.

– excerpt from Parental Alienation: Five Errors in Thinking Alienators think like criminals. by Stanton E. Samenow

5. View of the Self as Virtuous: Thinking Makes It So
A parent who alienates his child from the other parent would likely be horrified if he learned about another parent behaving in the very same manner. In his own case, however, he is convinced that he is “rescuing” the child. Facts do not matter. What the alienating parent believes is all that counts.

The truth is that by performing this “rescue,” the alienator eliminates a critically important part of his child’s life. The damage inflicted on the child and others may be permanent.

– excerpt from Parental Alienation: Five Errors in Thinking Alienators think like criminals. by Stanton E. Samenow

In my case “the alienating parent” applies to both of my parents. They both played this game with their “Barbie doll” child. I was a toy which they fought over – I had no personal value, it wasn’t really me they were fighting over, I was simply a thing which they used against each other in their never-ending war.

Before I was born, they had other toys they fought over. I wasn’t their only toy even after I was born. I was one of many… all of them got broken.

Both my parents were narcissists.

I cut them both out of my life once and for all when I was in my early 30’s.

I learned quickly to never mention that I’d gone No Contact with them to others or I’d get the – “but they’re you’re parents…” – followed by someone who had not the slightest clue what growing up and living with two full-on narcissists was like telling me how much my parents loved me (no, they didn’t), how much they must miss me (sure, they miss using me), and how bad it was for a child to disown their parents (if you feel so badly for them, why don’t you adopt them as your parents, don’t let me know how well that works out for you).

Although life was relatively peaceful without them and their dramatic pandemonium, there was a constant fear within me of them locating me, and ruining that fragile illusion of peacefulness. I felt as though I was in a witness protection program, never quite able to relax, settle down, feel safe, always on edge… the edge of a precipice which had very hungry sharp-toothed beasts at the bottom of it.

When I was in my early 40’s they both came crashing back in to my life, bringing all the same frenzied chaos and drama. Nothing hand changed. Well, my father had died but he left behind the sort of mess which he would have caused had he been alive, only in death he had found the perfect way to avoid ever having to take responsibility for anything.

My mother was still playing the role of the saint and martyr = point #5View of the Self as Virtuous: Thinking Makes It So. It did its usual damage. The first lawyer I hired to deal with her in my stead (because I was damned sure as hell not going to deal with her myself) fell for her routine hook, line and sinker even though he had been warned (no one ever listens to those kinds of warningspeople don’t listen to you even when you’re paying them to do so). He did the whole “but she’s your mother…” with me and offered to mediate a reconciliation. That’s not what I hired and paid him to do. A few more exposures to her and he never wanted to deal with her ever again – her damsel in distress mask slipped when she wasn’t getting what she wanted that way, revealed the dragon behind it and flamed him.

“Our quarrel with the world is an echo of the endless quarrel proceeding within us.”

― Eric Hoffer

Just before all of this narcissists’ return through the door to hell (who left the door open this time!?!) happened, I’d started blogging.

In some ways blogging became my adult self’s Barbie doll therapy. Writing blog posts can be cathartic, liberating, a way to understand yourself, to see the puzzles pieces more clearly and maybe find where they go or that they’re not your puzzle pieces, and so much more.

But to get that from it, you have to be willing to give… so, first I had to get over my reluctance to share my story.

It was a reluctance which had been drummed into me by my parents – the truth must never be told or else you’re a traitor to your king and queen!

They didn’t live by that rule, or any of the rules they imposed on me, but why should they since they were the makers of rules, the leaders not the followers.

“People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can’t live within its income.”

― Robert Half

It was a reluctance which had come from attempting to be heard and finding that no one listens… not to what they don’t want to hear, and they didn’t want to hear what I had to say, so what I said was dismissed.

It was a reluctance which also came from a fear of what would happen if I said things, which normally stayed silent, out loud. If I exposed things which were used to darkness to the light of day.

It was a reluctance which was supported by a lifetime of living by its rules, reasons, explanations, excuses, and… I didn’t know if I’d be able to get passed such a monolithic structure.

Luckily I was in the arena of the mid-life crisis, and had just entered the transiting Uranus opposition to natal Uranus phase. Transiting Uranus had just stepped into Aries territory = go, go, go, just do it, jump, leap first regret it later!

Also luckily my entrance into the blogosphere coincided with a sudden open awareness of narcissism and narcissists. It was time to discuss all those things we didn’t discuss before. There was a movement of others towards sharing their own experiences and stories online. It was as though everyone was breaking their silence and pushing through their own reluctance.

There was an energetic momentum which swept me up and carried me along.

The blogosphere doesn’t feel like that anymore… lately it feels more like the energy and momentum to share ourselves with each other openly, freely, has slowed to a crawl and may even be going backwards, shrinking, tightening up.

Last night while browsing a couple of astrology blogs which I regularly visit because they write more than just about astrology, they write about living, being, experiencing life and share much food for thought, interesting ideas, different perspectives, personal insights… I read two intriguing views which explained the feeling:

Elsa, a veteran blogger who is still going strong as a blogger after more than a decade (perhaps because she does her own thing her own way and relies on herself for the motivation to do it and keep doing it), said this:

“People simply don’t post personal things on social media like they used to. They spend less time on these sites and they take the trouble to sign out in an effort to thwart tracking.

People are also deleting apps from their phones as they become more aware, and spooked, by the profound invasion of privacy.

I can smell the desperation. Outside of email that relates to this site / my job, I would estimate that ninety percent of my email consists of social media sites sending me notices of all different kinds, focused on getting me to SIGN IN.  Well I won’t sign in, because it’s BORING.

There is a shift underway, in that people want real, earthy relationships (Taurus). Sure we can connect via the Internet when it makes sense to do so. But I think people want to simplify their lives at this point. The constant notifications which would be better described as ALERTS, has become annoying to Taurus… a bull who doesn’t really care for flies buzzing around.

Look for real quality.  That’s another change. You just can’t throw some shit up there and call it “art”.  You also can’t throw some shit up there and call it “love” or even “relating”.”

– excerpt from Elsa Elsa: Uranus In Taurus: Social Media & Profit

And Amanda Painter, who writes in depth personally inspired articles for Planet Waves, said the following:

“As has been mentioned elsewhere on Planet Waves recently, western society (particularly the U.S.) has Mars issues. There’s a tendency to default to aggression when fear is encountered, and most people seem to be afraid of a lot these days; for sure, there are a great deal of scary things in the world, and mainstream media often appears crafted specifically to emphasize that fact.

Yet, in addition to all the things ‘out there’ to be afraid of, many people harbor tremendous doubts about what’s inside of them: their desires and sexuality, emotions, needs, dreams, gifts; many doubt whether there’s really anything at all inside that’s deserving of love and acceptance.

In the last year or two I’ve witnessed a few situations in which someone received the affirmation that they are enough, just as they are. Their response to that affirmation has generally been emotional: an outflowing of relief at being seen fully, mixed with grief over the years of feeling disconnected from a sense of wholeness, mixed with disbelief that the affirmation could possibly be true, given how long it has not felt true.

Those emotions could also come out as aggression if someone is too far from a place of being able to hear, feel or even glimpse the message. Anyone who does not feel free to express deep emotion has the potential to lash out in defense of those vulnerable, terrifying parts of themselves.”

– excerpt from Planet Waves: Mars, Chiron and You by Amanda Painter

The other night when I was stressed and sick I was hit with a stronger than usual desire to delete this blog.

Those who have been following me for years know that I go through at least one or two blog-destruction urges a year.

They used to be very frequent when I was in the early stages of blogging and sharing my story online. Everything I shared which took me one more step beyond my reluctance to share myself and my story, which took me into the no-go don’t speak about that zones that I (and my parents, their friends, society, etc) had put in place, made me experience terror of the – I wish I hadn’t said that – type.

I don’t know what I expected to happen when I shared myself and my story online…

I sort of didn’t expect anything… and yet I partly expected the old usual – to be attacked, dismissed, ridiculed, rejected, ignored, stuff like that, stuff I’d experienced with my parents, their social circle, peers, society, etc.

What surprised me was that the old usual became an exception, a rarity here online, in the blogosphere, and the usual became what was an unusual experience for me – being accepted, heard, listened to, understood, encouraged, supported… basically here I got what Amanda Painter mentioned – I received the affirmation that I was enough as I am.

To get that affirmation, I had to take the risk and share myself as I am. I had to post personal things on social media to get a more real earthy relationship with others, with myself.

And it had to be done without expecting to get anything in return – to do it for the sake of doing it and discovering what happens when you do it.

Cappadoccia Balloon Inflating by Benh LIEU SONG

I’m going to wrap this thought jam session up now…

But before I do…

Two films and a blog.

Over the last couple of nights I’ve watched a couple of out of the box films, both of which seemed to share a similar message… about figuring out who you really are often by making a mess of your life.

1 – American Animals – which is a based on a true story film with a twist on the based on a true story genre that is novel and exciting. They wove the real people into the fictionalised version of their story, overlapping past and present bringing them together, and also made a point of showing that the real people weren’t completely certain of what the real story was.

The thing which stood out the most for me was a segment at the very end where the victim of the crime committed in the film, a librarian at a college library, said she couldn’t understand how people could do that kind of thing to other people, how they could commit that kind of crime – but, I thought, she is a librarian at a library which has books in it that tell the stories of hundreds of thousands of real people, books which contain the history of the country she lives in and how that country developed, came to be, about her ancestors, forefathers – those stories all contain violence and crime committed by people against people, and explain the why’s and how’s. Had she never read any of the books she’d dedicated part of her life to looking after, cataloguing, storing, maintaining, etc?

Of course it’s always different when something happens to us…

The Real Spencer Reinhard: Van Gogh ended up killing himself. Monet went blind. I felt like they understood something more about life that I wasn’t getting to experience. Art has to be about more than just, “My life is great and I’m really good at drawing.”

– quote from American Animals

When I used to tell people about what my parents were really like behind the crafted social masks they wore, people thought I was a spoiled brat making mean stuff up about my parents and they usually told me to shut up, stop lying, and behave appropriately. But then when they experienced what was hiding behind the fantasy image of my parents, those same people expected others to believe them when they told their story and tried to expose the real behind the crafted social masks my parents wore.

2 – Unicorn Store – a film about a woman who believes in unicorns and meets Samuel L. Jackson who just happens to sell unicorns.

Gladys: The most adult thing you can do is failing in what you really care about.

– quote from Unicorn Store

I’m still not sure what that film was about, or what I think or feel about it.

But something about it seemed to explain something, I’m just not sure what it was.

Sometimes that’s exactly what you need – to see something without knowing what you’re seeing, to do something without knowing why you’re doing it, and keep doing it without knowing if there’s a point or not to it, if it will ever be explained or make sense.

And finally,

This is a magnificent post – Being in Nature Blog: Slowing Down

I particularly loved the following paragraph and the energy emanating from within the words:

“As I work I often hear my neighbour, the sculptor, chipping away at the huge hunks of rock he periodically gets delivered. He is much older than me and I feel he has been doing this every afternoon for years and years. Listening to him work I have a sense that I have strayed into a magical kingdom where there is finally time to slow down and truly listen to the muse. At last I am free to follow my creative urges wherever they lead me.”

– excerpt from Being in Nature Blog: Slowing Down

Thank you for sharing…

7 comments

  1. As a child, I never let myself become a tool for either of them and this had frustrated my mother even more. Since very young, those people who cared for me had confirmed and standby the fact that my mother indeed love my brother but not me and they cared for me as best as they could. I’m full of gratitude for the love I received from them then.

    Recently, I reconnect with these relatives and it was a disappointment. I saw unexpected stuff. Then I know why one of my younger cousin went US and decided never to come back. She obviously broke off contact with her mum which I did not know at first and only guessed it later but did keep in touch with the younger sister.

    I also saw my babysitter in a different light this time because the aunt—mum of the cousin who left told me stories of her mum. It was from there and later my interactions with them that confirmed my suspicions. I believe my cousin’s mum is very narcissistic and her own mother was the same, yeah, the same one who babysit me. And people their age/generation is very conservative. So much for trying to reconnect with humans from the past. I can see more drama coming hence I cut it short.

    I think likely, parents in and near from that generation are the same; in Chinese families of that gen, children must do to their parent’s bidding and parents have a very feudal way of thinking—children are their assets, their property that they would bring them future gains. I gave up on my family long ago and Mrs Landlady always rolled her eyes at me for my attitude. Recently, I also rolled eyes at her for giving way to her narcissistic mum and then she started the whole thing about filial piety. WTF. Can you apply that here?! Goddamn hypocritical. Did she really mean what she said after that hella chidlhood she been through? or is she trying to make up with Karma for other things she had done?

    Just be yourself, in hate or in love. Our reasons are valid. To unlove our parents is the only way to protect ourselves from them. The last time I had my haircut, my stylist gave me a much needed reminder that I should be beware and not let my mum or brother know when I get my own place. I saw where she is coming from and absolutely
    agreed. I don’t know what is her story but she did briefly knew mine over 10 plus years cutting my hair. People who gave negative feedback to you, may or may not been thru similar experiences, and most importantly, they are not you.

    This is the 21st century—don’t hang on blindly to those decaying structures of the past for no valid reasons. Although, yes, I believe there are times we should stick with the old system for reasonable causes. Woah, excuse me, seems like I ranted. Feel free to edit/delete content as appropriate. Thank you for reading 😉

    Like

    • I love it, Reverist, it’s an awesome comment with a lot of great energy and wisdom 😀

      The Italians have a similar perspective on family and being duty-bound to love your family no matter what. Parents must love their children. Children must love their parents. The family must work together to keep up the pretense of being a “happy and united” family, sacrificing everything to do so if need be.

      But if you take the “family” tags/labels/roles out of the equation and just view parents and children as people – we don’t expect every person to love every other person. Some people just don’t like each other, don’t get along, don’t have an affinity, and when we don’t like someone we’re not expected to love them no matter what and dutifully stick with them, have a relationship with them and stay in the relationship. People are always advising others to leave abusive relationships… why does that advice change when the abusive relationship is a parent/child one?

      If I had met my parents as people when I was an adult, I wouldn’t have been interested in having a relationship with them, and they wouldn’t have bothered with me either.

      Love is an abstract concept – it becomes whatever we shape it into, it is whatever we think it is, whatever we decide to believe that it is, including something which doesn’t exist if that’s what we decide about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing the Being in Nature blog (which I was able to read but wasn’t able to hit “like” – strange how that sometimes happens). I am starting to feel that slowing down part too. Recognising that I am ageing but also knowing that I am hitting the highs professionally. It’s interesting – two life processes passing each other on a hill.

    Thanks also for the films you mention. I started watching After Life which I find (haven’t finished it yet) to be a sort of understated Fawlty Towers. It’s humorous but also presses lightly up against some dark corners.

    Acceptance of who I am and what I think is a work in progress (and probably always will be). I make myself think for myself, but struggle with what still lurks in my head from my narcissistic parent – that I can, at any time, be foolish or silly or should be ashamed of an idea.

    I’m glad you haven’t deleted your blog. Thanks Ursula for all the thinking you’ve triggered for me. ⚘

    Like

    • Thank you very much, Lynette 🙂

      I think the slowing down and the professional highs go hand in hand, work together. Aging can have a calming effect on the psyche which allows you to appreciate who you are as you are, where you are now, what you can do, and what you won’t do anymore because you’ve been there done that and have the experience to go with it.

      It’s a time in life when everything which came before seems to clarify itself, make more sense, and come together to form a more cohesive picture. All those disparate things from the past appear to merge and show us that they were part of a plan to get us to where we are now and who we are now. You can also say “eff it” to a lot of stuff which seemed daunting before.

      Still being a work in progress is a good thing, it means there’s more to discover, areas to evolve, surprises to have, adventures to go on within.

      This quote from Karen Horney is one of my favourite perspectives on aging:

      “There is no good reason why we should not develop and change until the last day we live.” ― Karen Horney

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve written this before, but I’m gonna do it again… I love how your mind works! I love the way you take all the bits and pieces and use them to create a mosaic picture of what you’re thinking and feeling.
    Your words resonate with me. The blogosphere has put so many wonderful people in my path. I honestly can’t remember how I found most of them, or how they found me, but it all seems to fit.
    Thank you for sharing yourself. 💌

    Like

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