Uh oh. This will be one of those entries that I feel compelled to write and then I slay myself with criticism and self-doubt later. How quickly and easily that voice comes up and how vivid those images are, of other people I imagine to be reading this, their eyebrows raised or their eyes rolling. “What’s her problem?” “She makes a big deal out of nothing.”
Even if people did this, it should not matter so much to me. It should not completely dislodge me from my foundation, so quick I am to condemn myself. This is not their voice, this is my inner voice, my internalized voice. And it is so good at trivialization.
Sue Monk Kidd writes, “Trivializing our experience is a very old and shrewd way of controlling ourselves. We do it by censoring our expressions of truth or viewing them as inconsequential. We learned this technique from a culture that has practiced it like an art form.” (p 34). Blogging has been a practice of overcoming this voice for a moment, even though it sometimes comes back with a vengeance after I post the entry.
After the whirlwind vacation week, this week has fallen heavily on me. Coma-like sleep, lack of motivation, and again inexplicable grappling with anger and a weight of conviction that there was no meaning, no purpose. Profound disconnect, a preoccupation with petty things. “We are not who we used to be and not who we will become. We are in the terrain of “unmeaning.” And we are alone in it.” (Kidd, p 95). I even began to fear that if I wasn’t “careful”, I would become seriously depressed. I have never been so acutely aware of a state such as this.
I kept thinking that it was because I needed a job, and once I had that, things would make sense again. But there is also the worry that a job just served to mask and structure. I would go about my responsibilities, my goals, following the instructions of a supervisor to the upmost. Would this just distract me from what was underneath?
I picked up The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd that my mother lent me, and perhaps this book has come at a crucial time. This is an incredibly profound book, and for the first time I began to feel energized again. There is much meaning and purpose here, this journey that this woman undertook, and is undertaking. Despite my energized response, despite the tears rolling down my cheeks at certain passages, strong too was the voice of trivialization. What are these women doing, I would think. If I was partaking what she was describing, I would feel so embarassed, so awkward. Not only did I feel my own embarassment and vulnerability, at the mere thought of it, I could feel most clearly my mother’s as well. We have the same problem.
I was also so aware of what any man would think if he witnessed it- contempt, bemusement, perplexion, trivialization- and it was playing out in my own reactions and inner voice.
But there was another instinctive and stronger response. She is right. She is so right. I have to hang onto this, record it here, before I trivialize it away completely.
I came across a passage that I read with such pain and recognition that I knew that it was marking where I am right now, if I choose to heed it and consciously begin my journey from here. Kidd describes the myth of Ariadne and how she interpreted its metaphors and symbols to the experience of being a woman. After Theseus conquers the Minotaur in the labyrinth and rescues Ariadne from the kingdom, he takes her to another island, Naxos. “He represents Ariadne’s freeing energy or the way out of her sleep.” (Kidd, p 111). There, she wakes up the next morning to find that he abandoned her and sailed away.
Often, like Ariadne, a woman cannot recognize or contact the heroic, freeing energy inside herself. Instead she projects it outward, usually onto a man. The projection- as precarious and havoc wreaking as it may sometimes be- becomes a force that acts to free her.
When a woman projects her liberating energy outward, she is acting unconsciously. If she projects it onto a man, she may be unable to initiate real independent action apart from him. She will be dependent on Theseus, not on herself. She cannot see that Theseus embodies her own unconscious potential and desire for freedom or wholeness. The hard moment will come when she needs to withdraw the projection, break the spell it has over her, and own up to what she is doing. She will have to claim the qualities she saw in these external figures as possibilities in herself.
She will need to take up her own autonomous life. (Kidd, p 111-112)
In my own life, I abandoned Theseus, even though I managed to feel all the while as if it was I who was being abandoned. In light of this, it now makes sense to me. For me, “the hard moment” of overthrowing this particular projection came and went. I suppose I have made progress since then, but in many ways I still feel stranded on the shore of Naxos, lost and bewildered. Intellectually, I recognize that I need to find these resources within and be true to myself, my spirit. But I don’t know it. And I have no idea where to begin or how.
I am beginning to think I should hold off on finding a job, and focus on this instead, despite all the fears and insecurities, financially and otherwise, that this would entail. I must heed what happens to me when a job and structure falls away and not try to fight it or impose another structure over it, distracting me again. I can incorporate this into my research and process of writing my thesis, perhaps this is the most ideal time. Where could, where will, my spirit take me?
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