Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Issue that started it All

The Great Chasm between Jt and I started with (what I thought was) an innocent remark of mine that "Of course, science isn't everything." What I'm able to clarify now is that of there were a unified theory of physics, this argument would never have started. To explain.

The great goal of physics -- a ''unified theory'' -- ... would resolve contradictions between Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which describes the laws of gravity that govern the motion of large objects like planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the world of subatomic particles. (from a news story about Stephen Hawking's current health crisis http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/04/20/world/AP-EU-Britain-Hawking.html?_r=3&hp )

- and it both disgusts me and strikes me as funny that I got to this link through a re-post on RichardDawkins.net, the very reason Jt is fanatically atheist and believes science is everything in the first place. Except to her, 'science' only consists of one half of the above-mentioned dichotomy - Relativity. When she asked me to explain what I meant when I said science isn't everything, I replied (still having no idea that what I'd said and was about to say were the most vile form of blasphemy in existence) "Well because there are no absolutes, right?" Further explanation was required, so I tried to explain it in terms of quantum physics - that at a deep level, you can't pin down anything, since you can't know both where a particle is and where it is going at the same time. (This explanation later led to the comment that I read one book on quantum physics and think I know everything. Huh?) I thought that she, being an informed and intelligent citizen who loves science, would have known that already and been able to follow my logic. Wrong assumption. This led to a really condescending remark towards me and since I feel like my friends should respect my right to believe what I want, I questioned her about why she made such a remark. And then things escalated, spiralled out of control, and ended in the ridiculous venomousness that is a full-blown BPD rage. Apparently, an explanation of one's current scientific viewpoint and knowledge is an attack on someone else's personal worth. So if there's a unified theory that explains and encompasses both the quantum and Einstein's theory...perhaps she would have recognized that I wasn't actually saying anything against her and her personal beliefs. Of course, the whole thing could also have been prevented by her being not crazy.

Awhile ago I thought of a really good reason why we should not put all our eggs into the science basket, but I can't quite remember it now. It was something like, 'if science can't tell me ....., then how can it be so great? " You could insert anything there, like 'how to cure cancer', but the one I had in mind was something actually ridiculous that science should but didn't know. Maybe it was 'figure out how to make fat people skinny'. Because when you think about it, it should not be that difficult. Science (as far as I know) is getting clearer on the brain mechanisms and hormones and genetics that affect weight, but where is the practical application of this information? Why isn't there something out there that makes me just not want to eat? We can clone sheep and send telemetry back from ex-Pluto and have a video chat simultaneously with a hundred people on the opposite side of the planet (and the inernational space station), but you can't figure out how to make me stop eating milk chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches. What good is all the gadgetry when we are too sick to even enjoy the simple pleasure of existing in our own bodies? Not everyone is, but an increasing number of people, including me, are. It is literally physically painful to be alive. No matter where I am and what I am doing, whether I am marvelling at an image of four cluster galaxies colliding all at once or doing my dishes or thinking about how nice it would be to get laid, I am in pain. Pain is pain. Anxiety is pain. Uncertainty is pain. Guilt and shame and watching the news and wanting better and listening to my inner critic is pain. All life is suffering. For all the so-called progress science has made, for all the 'knowledge' it creates, are we as a species happier, healthier, safer? Fuck no. We are sicker and more miserable than ever. Even knowing that there is so much I don't know is painful to me. I know this is my own stupid issue, but I feel guilty for having not completed the impossible task of reading every book in my library.

*takes breath* The 'condescending remark' that was made after I'd explained my belief that there are no absolutes was this: "Good luck being happy that way." Inner GUFFAW. Accepting the uncertain nature of reality (or as the Buddha says, the three characteristics of existence - specifically that nothing is permanent) is quite possibly the ONLY thing that has ever made me step over the suicide line into personal happiness. And the person who made this remark? Constantly contemplating suicide. Constantly miserable. Constantly suffering and beating herself up. Who is she to judge me? This is the person who regularly had me on a pedastel (which I didn't like either, by the way) of admiration while we were 'friends'. Actually, Jt, I'm happier these days than I've ever been in my life. I have peace and faith and joy (from my blog you might not know it - however the capacity to feel deep sorrow is also the capacity for joy, and one does not exist without the other). I actually kinda like myself, a lot. I'll take self-like over feelings of superiority any day and every day. Superiority has a sharp edge and a foul after-taste, don't you think? And while I sometimes enjoy it as the only sort of vengeance I find slightly not immoral, like NOW, I make a strident effort to keep my will to superiority (a la will-to-power in the nazi-sense) in check because I know its the cheapest of thrills, karmically indebting and very inferior (hah!) to just being okay with me and okay with you. Like that - superiority is inferior?

The first time I was tormented by the emails I received from Jt (and the incident and abuse itself), I got over it partially by considering and then dismissing each accusation in turn (as I did yesterday to the recently discovered charges), and then all I did was return to thinking, "God, she's so wrong. It's just all wrong." This was not an affirmation, but a repeated realization. All the things she said about me were just plain wrong. I'm not in denial, I'm not saying they are wrong because I don't want them to be right. I actually thought carefully about whether she had any valid points, and - nope. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. So here I am again, thinking over and over, 'she's just so wrong!' It is always hard for me to believe - to really grasp - it when things like this occur. Something in me just does not want to accept that people can be this way, ever. And then live with themselves and not know. And then I wonder why in the hell I spent my entire life wondering if I was a good person or not. Because I couldn't come up with the idea of doing such things, let alone have the...um...whatever-it-takes (balls, evilness, self-importance, rage, lack of control?) to do them! Well I guess Jt is stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy, acting out her belief that she is bad... but not as bad as me? me who didn't even call her a bitch though that's understating how she behaved, me who tried desperately to untrigger her, to speak with respect, to first repair and then end things politely? I think the worst thing I said to her in all of this is that she was a scary woman. Which is the truth, cuz she scared the crap out of me.

The very last message I was sent was just a subject line - since she knew I wasn't reading the emails - that said I was a terrible person and that I was only upset because I got kicked out. Wha? First of all, doesn't getting kicked out necessitate an unwillingness to leave? Because let me tell you, her apartment was the last place in the world I wanted to be after she verbally assaulted me. I stayed in my room until I was told that I would be provided a way home, and then immediately packed my bags and left. No resistence. I almost grabbed all my shit and left the night before, knowing I'd spend the night on the streets of Toronto. I almost called my cousin to come and pick me up. I should've done. Anyway, that clearly does not qualify as a kick out. Further, I was upset waaay before I left her place. Leaving her place was the only thing that wasn't upsetting to me about the situation, yet she wants to think that its the very reason I'm upset at all. Ya.

Why do I continue to write about the specifics of this crazy business? To help myself move through it again, to help myself believe that yes, this did happen, and yes, it is as ridiculous and horrible and crazy as it seems. She was very sensitive about anything I said about her husband, and yet would lure me into saying things to the effect that he wasn't perfect, and then throw it in my face. The truth is, I never liked her husband at all, but I did my best to get along with him because she was my friend and I respected her. The only things I ever said against him were just in agreeing with some complaint she had about him. The week before I visited she'd been thinking about leaving him, but how dare I agree with her suggestion that it was a bit odd that he didn't help her with heavy bags knowing she has fibromyalgia? (not taking into account that I also said it was understandable because he must have been as anxious as we were to get home). Her marriage was either utterly divine and perfection itself or just about to end (hmmm, BPD black & white thinking perhaps?). After I read this 'found' email, I was mildly tempted to write to her: "I don't like your husband, I have never liked him, and I have even less respect for him now that I know the kind of abuse he sticks around for". Because she's confessed to me many times how she'd flown into a rage at him, and I can only imagine it to be as bad or worse as what she did to me. He means well, but he has all the behavioural qualities that irritate me the most. And she was so desperate to get me to like him, always making excuses for him even though I never said a thing about him that wasn't in agreement with her own complaint (aside from the time he let my beloved baby dog wander off and get lost in the middle of downtown Toronto). The point is, she said in the last email that they would be spending the evening laughing at me and loving it. And my point is, why should that bother me when I have no respect for either of them. You enjoy your folie a deux and be grateful that there's a person in this world who can put up with you and your abuse. That doesn't make you better than me either, it just means you found someone that you allow yourself to abuse. Truly it's safer for the world if you stick together, because then you're less of a danger to the rest of society. You think you're so unbiased but you still buy into the idea that being married makes you somehow better. One of the reasons I've been single so long is my concern that my 'issues' would hurt the person I was with. Obviously that is no problem for some people.

So maybe this bothers me more than anything else she said. I am sensitive to the stigma of being single. Singlehood can mean a variety of things, and most of them aren't of the "you're not datable" type. In my case it means my priorities are different. That I believe a quality relationship is better than being in a crappy one just so a) you feel special/superior/not lonely or b) you look 'normal'.

Maybe I've respected Jt for so long that I can't just disregard her words even though I know they are all wrong and said out of spite and illness. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to be ripped up by anyone, friend or foe or stranger or otherwise. I just can't believe people can say such things and forgive or live with themselves. Well, she's already unable to do that, so I guess a few more evil deeds aren't going to make a difference to her. I just didn't deserve any of it. Not that anyone ever deserves to be verbally abused. But I really didn't deserve it. I tried really hard to be a good friend to her, I never put her down (unless you count commiserating with her over her slow computer and similar things to be personal insults - she did), I propped her up, I was openly and frequently grateful (some times to the point of tears) for her generosity, I empathized with her about her pain and suffering, and I even worked through a MUCH less violent but similar BPD episode in which she took offense to something I did that had nothing to do with her. I guess in a way that was the point - if it wasn't about her, then that's insulting too. She managed to find a million faults in me anyway. And really, all I did was accept her generosity (with obvious gratitude that she magically managed to forget - yet another charge), and spoke too much about certain things for her liking and in a way that triggered her.

Ok, you ask my opinion, and I give it and I want to make sure I'm understood, which makes me talk longer because I'm so often misunderstood, and yes, I have a way of speaking that can sound like I'm surer of what I am saying than I actually am. But I always say 'maybe' when I'm guessing - why don't people hear that? They only hear what comes after the maybe and then get this idea that I think I know everything. I'm going to start wearing 'maybe' and 'I don't know" and "its only an opinion" and "it's only what I've read" t-shirts and jewelry and hats. Fuck.

Yeah, she was always asking my thoughts and to explain them, and then told me in her rage that I never let her talk. I honestly thought she took pleasure from my musings, because she certainly responded that way - sometimes asking for more, sometimes complimenting me on something...I don't know exactly but she really made me feel like she liked hearing me talk. BIG shock to find out she didn't give a crap what I thought. No, I don't believe that. I know that when she was triggered she did a 180 and whatever she used to genuinely feel about me went right out the window (or over the balconey as it were), and was immediately replaced by how much she had always hated these things about me. She never did answer my question of why, if I've been so terrible from the beginning, she stayed friends with me for so long. She really re-created me, our relationship, and our past experiences together, from 'scratch' in one split second. I don't know how she reconciles the monster I've always been with how much time she spent with me, even if she's replaced all our memories with new ones.

Oh, I know, I tricked her! I used her and duped her into thinking I was wonderful and made her give me stuff and made her be nice to me. Cuz I'm a con artist. That's what I'm all about. This whole journey into authenticity I've been on since the day more than 10 years ago when I decided to stop pretending, that's all a big set-up so I could get stuff from her. And I chose her because she was sick and weak and desperate, oh poor Jt. I began conning her in 2000 when we were in that group therapy program together (which means I conned everyone else there too), and then 8 years later when we re-connected, I followed through with my cunning plan to rob her of what precious little she had. That about right?

Can you tell when I'm being funny-cynical as opposed to bitter-superior? Maybe there's no difference. Look, inner critic taking on the persona of a judging reader, I have to make light of these things eventually or they will eat me alive. What I just did there in that last paragraph - that was freeing and clownish, not bitter and vengeful. I shift from one to the other like magic. Yeah, it's a coping mechanism. Whatever. :)

Lesson: Never, ever, tell anyone who owns the Richard Dawkins DVD collection and suffers from BPD that 'science isn't everything'. And no, I don't really think a unified theory would have prevented this. And yes, I realize that science hasn't made much practical progress in the way of medicine because the capitalist pigs are making too much money peddling SlimFast, face cream, and belly-dancing DVDs. What a world.

And another thing. While I have THE highest respect for Stephen Hawking, I have to point out that the article I linked to in this post kept repeating that he is very ill and very unwell. Um, and I feel really bad saying this, but, what else is new? The man has been ill and unwell since he was diagnosed with ALS at 24. IMHO, the reporter should have said 'his health is much worse' or something. Hey, why not go crazy and say what he's actually suffering from (on top of the ALS). The vagueness of internet news is annoying as hell. What current news did we get from the article that was not in the headline? Don't get me wrong, this particular story gave me a fantastic prompt and quote for my completely unrelated blog entry. But in general, isn't there a way to waste less of my time if you don't really know anything about it? Just send me a tweet that says "Stephen Hawking in hospital, unwell and undergoing tests, that's all we know". Fuck the link. In fact, I'm going to tweet that right now.



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Disclaimer

I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.