Where’s Lamont?

I was thinking just yesterday how much of ourselves we conceal. I’m working on a woman’s dissertation and it is an abyss. She’s extremely good at what she does, but should she be writing a dissertation? I don’t think so. The numerous (and to me maddening) problems she has with words and the fact that she didn’t bother to learn how to write because of her numerous difficulties and because she was browbeaten by teachers who called her stupid (I can understand why, still, it was wrong of them) made her afraid even to read her own work. And it pisses me off when she corrects me. Just because she doesn’t know the word “dissipate” doesn’t mean it’s spelled wrong. Yeah. That happened. I changed it to “fade” and got on with my life.

It’s so bad I quit editing and just went straight to rewriting. She doesn’t know how to use MS Word’s editing software anyway. Nor does she know how to set margins, hanging indents or anything else. It’s all space key, tab key and return for her. Her laptop is a typewriter.

She’s writing this thing sort of “out of the corner of her eye.” Rather than being proud of what she’s achieving and putting her shoulder, heart and mind into it, she’s “getting it over with.” She calls it the “beast.” That really doesn’t help me do my job. It would be far easier for me if she were into it and we could work back and forth to make it something really good.

But no. Writing it has made it difficult for her to conceal her inabilities from herself.

I’ll be glad when it’s over.

It’s revealed to me something about myself. I’m afraid she’ll fail and blame me. I recognized how much of my perfectionism is based on fear. Yeah, I was an abused kid, but won’t I ever get over that? All the years of doing my absolute best really didn’t help me. No one likes an overachiever; it worked against me very often. I’ve long hidden from myself that one of my biggest motivations is the wish just not to be punished.

I think we all do that with something even maybe so well we don’t know what we’re concealing. I think that’s often something called “denial.” Sometimes I think that we only know ourselves through a kind of “echolocation” — we do something, evaluate the results and go, “So, OK, that’s what I do when something like this happens.”

Any-hoo, no point concealing the fact that I need to persevere…




4 thoughts on “Where’s Lamont?

  1. I don’t know that we “get over” an abusive childhood. We incorporate the experiences into our persona. I think I’ve more or less gotten past mine and writing about it helped. A lot. Especially because I really didn’t want to write about it, talk about it, or even acknowledge that it happened. Turns out, I needed to upchuck that big lump of ugly before I could move on. So many people do not ever face the demons. They spend a lifetime hiding and running. I think they aren’t even aware of what they are doing.

    • I agree — it wasn’t until I moved here and had the pressure to connect with others and be accepted that I again felt the stress I felt around my family (and a couple of romantic partners). I guess over the years I had built a life that was defined by what I did so that it didn’t matter if I had friends or a community. The need for other people brought up, again, the whole family thing. As a little kid you NEED those people. And if those people are mean and/or unpredictable, it becomes a tight-rope act. Friendship is actually stressful for me because that little kid appears with her “What if I do something wrong? Will they still like me and take care of me? Or are they going to hit me and go away?” It’s so deep in the unconscious. The fact that this dissertation is about domestic violence probably hasn’t helped 😉

  2. I had a lucky childhood with no great psychological problems, at least I thought so at the time. Looking back and reflecting I am not so sure. But dad is now 100 years old and just takes one day at a time which I think is the best system. I know I do.

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