Sunday, May 5, 2019

Fun with Projection, Ear to Mouth Ratio, Self-Pity Sunday

I referenced Lori Gottlieb’s book, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” in last week’s blog post, and since then I have gotten further into the book. At this point, she has stopped focusing as much on her own therapy and is instead writing more about her clients, in large part about “Julie”, a woman in her 30’s who is dying of cancer. I’m not usually drawn to such tales, but Julie’s story is strangely compelling to me, specifically due to a description of a fight she had with her live-in boyfriend, during which he told her, “I need a break from your cancer”, and she in turn shouted, “Why should you get a break? I don’t get break from my cancer.” It was heartbreaking to me. The boyfriend absolutely had the right to his own feelings about the pressures of being the main support to someone who is dying, and Julie absolutely had a right to her anger about not being able to avoid her condition or get a break from it. I felt deeply for both people and the untenable, tragic situation they were in, to the point of crying copiously.  It’s strange these days—my innate sensitivity is both numbed and in hyper-drive. I have a hard time crying about the death of my father, but apparently I can very easily cry about the circumstances of someone who is completely theoretical to me. 

Among one of the many gems of the book is the phrase that Lori’s therapy trainers   often repeat: “You have two ears and one mouth. There’s a reason for that ratio.” I think that phrase should be dumped liberally into the national water supply, like fluoride. I’m often accused of being “too quiet,” and I understand full well that I’m perceived by the more willful, talkative, and outgoing among me as being weak-minded, a softie, and  something of a pushover. None of those things are true, but I firmly believe in the ethos of listening more than I talk, which can make me appear wishy-washy and overly-conciliatory. I’m okay with that, as the rewards I get from listening fully are more valuable than the rewards I would get from being perceived as “strong-minded” by the loudest amongst me. But this approach to life has had its costs, professionally and personally.

The wipe-out of my hard drive and the subsequent computer clean-up continues. I went into my main drive this weekend to organize my years of fiction and poetry output, and was at once heartened and saddened by it, the sad part of which threw me immediately into the throes of writing self-pity, a very unbecoming state of being in which I lamented the failure of my novel, wallowed in my fear that writing poetry about my new-found passion for shooting will be roundly rejected by anti-gun leftist poetry publishers everywhere, as poets are almost universally anti-gun leftists, and lamented the  fact that I am hopelessly prone to writing run-on sentences. But I am also proud to report that I was fairly pleased overall with my review of my previous work. I read some things that I had forgotten I wrote and that can firmly say I stand by to this day, despite their thickness and amateur-ness. To balance this, the most hopeless amongst them were unceremoniously deleted. So it’s been a mixed bag.

I didn’t get to the gym or the gun range this weekend, and I’m currently lounging around make-up free in a hoodie and cargo pants, being a complete laziod, with no intention of leaving the house for either pursuit. In the interest of counter-balance, below is a little pep talk from my favorite, exhausting, growly-voiced ex-SEAL Jocko Willink on discipline, something which I am decidedly not exercising today….but maybe will  tomorrow (Gym Day.)  Enjoy!

--Kristen McHenry

1 comment:

Dave said...

If you go far enough left, you run into plenty of folks who are more anti-war, anti-cop, and anti-vigilante than anti-gun. Don't know how many of them run poetry presses, though.