If I did another degree and went into a different field it would probably not stanch my guilt over having done the first one. I should not have gone to college at a research university and I should not have gone to graduate school, but I did, and I have not removed from myself the thorns pressed into me in revenge.
It hurt them too much. They said so at the time and I did not think it made sense. I understood later that it was true, it really hurt them and that is why they pressed these thorns into me. They were suffering and they needed a different kind of person. I could have become that person and I did not. I was selfish.
I always thought that if I could get away from the scene of my crime I might be able to stop having it so present in my mind. This would definitely distract me, but I am no longer sure it would cure me.
8 thoughts on “Realization”
I will set up a series of rules for you to follow. If you break them, you and I will both agree that you will be hurting me, personally, even though these rules place absurd constraints on your ability to live your life as you wish. I may even be sincerely hurt, if I set things up that way, but you should probably tell me to go fuck myself if I propose that deal to you, or anything at all similar to that. Yet we accept that reasoning from our parents, somehow. I guess Larkin had it right.
Larkin, yes. The argument is that one ruined their life by existing and so has to make it up to them … right? And they suffered a lot and so you have to suffer to be worthy of them … right?
Me, I would just like to be free of the images. I have too many days where I hear the recriminations in the back of my mind too loudly and cannot concentrate.
The suffering, the shouting, the wailing, the recriminations, the feeling of being a punching bag and also a blood donor, hooked up to various people and feeding them from my veins — when I get these images it is sometimes in reference to something happening here.
I think it means this committee I am on is underhanded and that someone’s behavior is bullying.
You could not have become that person they wanted. You could have turned yourself inside out trying, cut your toes and heels off like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to fit into her tiny shoes, and you still would not have fit. Your relatives would still have complained about how you weren’t *enough* of the Barbie/blood donor/punching bag they were looking for.
You will still always be you. You can be a first-rate reseacher and professor or a really lousy home-care aide.
There is a book by Joanna Russ, that is not widely available, but maybe you can find a copy. The essay on power and helplessness might shed some light on your situation.
I should definitely read that book. I knew some of Russ’ other work, but not this.
I knew I had read at least part of it somewhere. I don’t know if this is the entire essay — it feels like an abridged version — but here’s a starter: Power and Helplessness in the Women’s Movement.
That is brilliant and SO spot on! Thank you!
I like this “Martyrdom cults (like that surrounding Sylvia Plath), which link failure, death, and female approval, are abominable.” I think that was the main feminist icon when I was growing up in poetry circles in the 70s. Sylvia Plath.