If there has been one great comfort in the trials of the past year, it’s confirming the fallacy that lies at the heart of classic psychology.
Needless to say, I have neither the resources nor the professional wherewithal to carry out research, and my mind is almost entirely uncluttered by professional or academic acumen in the field of psychology.
But I won’t let that hinder me from making broad generalizations.
Who needs sample sizes? I’ve got the platonic ideal of the psych subject (at least from my admittedly subjective perspective) — moi!
So classic Freudian psychology — all bunk! I declare that Jung, Adler and everyone else in chp., 1-3 of your psych 101 textbook can be sent down the chute. Why? Because at the heart of their treatises…
… okay I digress temporarily to all who may now accuse me of ill-informed reductionism. (those not bothered can skip this bit and go to the next paragraph). Bluster armoured ignorance is the very meat of contemporary discourse. There are far more life effecting systems subject to its cloggery, then psychoanalysis. eg, the governance of our land — Rush Limbaugh anyone? — or the adjudication of our collective or individual creative output — would someone please “like” my blog or are you too busy taking a look at the highest starred of the top 5 box office grossers — or the education of our children — iPads Revolutionize Education. So I will attempt to reductio ad absurdum with the best…
…lies the premise that by knowing rationally the reasons for one’s emotional reactions, one can then mitigate if not change them altogether. So, understanding the irrational, can set the irrational right.
I present myself as primary research subject (and the only one I’ll ever need).
In my house (still sounds weird saying that, but you know, getting over that too) when the Leaver is at close quarters, I get the tingle.
You know, down there.
That thang that should not be named. Because it feels more than a little gross now. And that is not out of mere frustration and lack of sexual or intimate outlet in my life. I actually do have that covered but I won’t get into the details here.
But in equal measures to the primordial arousal my digestive processes, get, overturned and undisciplined.
These are primary reactions. They occur right when we are in the same space and it is regardless of how peaceable or aggressive our current interactions are.
Look it, the two should cancel each other out for one. And I can understand, analyze and even discuss the causes to death and it still doesn’t go away.
And I don’t think “lust” or “anxiety” are relevant to this discussion. It’s not like that. I don’t have the emotional reactions I have the physical reactions. We’re talking not just Pavlov’s dog, we’re talking the kennel. Stimuli disassociated from any thought.
What quashes these reactions is spending the time with the Leaver. After about 15-30 minutes of communication these things pass (well with the digestive issues they tend to take longer before as mechanisms have been set in motion and things must… well…. pass). All the issues, attitudes and myriad detractions from any intimacy come to the fore. It doesn’t take a lot of time to confirm or remind why we broke up. But time spent together or apart do not in of themselves mitigate or cure the physical reactions. What does mitigate that is simply time and number of times. Like any learning of a new skill or function — repeat activity, then rest time to recuperate and incorporate. But it has to be relevant activity that has some value — there’s no point in straining yourself for little reward.
Illustrative Story — The Perfect Question
My niece was having her child baptized and the little party afterwards was to be at my house. The Leaver asked me — bless her — the perfect question. “Would you prefer I wasn’t there?”
Not “Can I come to the party?” or “Your sister invited me, is it okay with you that I come?”
Both perfectly valid and considerate questions. But nuanced. Well rationally, morally, of course it’s okay if you’re there. And I wouldn’t forbid you to not be there and be some sort of ogre. But she didn’t ask those questions that have multi-dimensional answers. She tossed me an easy one.
I have been accused in the past of on occasions like this of setting aside my own wants and needs suggesting either a tendency towards passive aggressiveness or sheer obtuseness. Not, however, on this occasion.
“Yes. I would definitely prefer you weren’t there!” I said with cheerful enthusiasm. Of course I’ll have a much better time without you around. Indeed, how could she doubt the answer, only whether or not I’d say it.
My sister, when I recounted this story, was surprised and taken aback at my bluntness. “You shouldn’t be so mean. I understand but…”
Ah but you don’t.
And I don’t.
Because it has nothing to do with understanding, it’s all about that pioneering Russian behaviourist and his pack of canine research colleagues.
And because the Leaver wasn’t there, I was not distracted by my bowels or “that thang” and any other possibilities across the spectra of raw physical reactions. “When’s the rain going to stop?” and “did that overweight young lady from the father’s side of the family get what I meant when I erroneously enquired ‘is that your first?'” were the only internal struggles to be dealt with by me that evening. And I had a great time.
I don’t have to rationalize everything and I can come to terms with my instinctual reactions. Even if it makes sense on a rational level, doesn’t mean I have to make it work.
Do I have to get used to her coming to parties at my home? I have to get used to saying “my home,” but parties at my home to which she will be invited will occur rarely if ever.
Some things rooted deep in the core of the primordial instincts will take time to be mitigated. And dealing with the situation repeatedly will help to get there, just like in any sort of rehabilitation process.
But to anyone out there looking for advice, don’t try to be an emotional daredevil. Some things you never need to do in ordinary circumstances and it is okay to capitulate and just not bother to even try.