Friday, January 11, 2008

Inspiration Week: CLICK

I got it!

I got it, I got it, I got it!

I've gotten it before and then forgotten it. Gotten it and then talked myself out of believing it. Gotten it and then puffed myself up in vanity for being so smart; forgotten it and then beat myself up for being so dumb.

Oh, but it comes back to you and then you can sing. Now you remember. Now you see it--and how nice it is to see it again! Not sad but bittersweet: You had to see it again, had to re-see it. Bittersweet that you forgot, bittersweet that you got distracted.

It's okay. It's back now and you could use the reminder, and you can trust it.

Women, this is what we do not get told and this what we variously get and forget:

We can trust ourselves.

We are not always stupid; sometimes if there is a thing we are not getting it is because we do not have all the information, and sometimes that information is cunningly hidden from us just to make someone else feel smart.

We are not always depressed (except when we are, not backing down from that one, sorry); sometimes if we are down it's because we're in an environment that would bring anyone down who spent any time in it.

We are not always our own worst enemies; sometimes we're simply pitted against each other for the sport and delight of others.

We are not always poor analysts, we do not always make bad decisions, we do not always choose poorly; sometimes we're simply stripped of the tools to do any of that right at the door. You know, for security. So it will stay a safe space.

We are not always high-strung, too emotional, needlessly inflammatory, or overly argumentative; sometimes we're just struggling to say something we worry won't be received well, and our anxiety about that becomes fear becomes anger.

And of course sometimes none of this is true and sometimes we really are a mess, but listen:

WE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE.

There's a little sensor in your bones and it stores all the times you thought you were stupid, but only because someone wanted to feel smart at your expense. It stores all the times you thought you were hopeless, but only because you were forced into a hopeless situation. It stores all the times you were set up to be jealous, all the times someone confiscated your toolkit, all the times you were told to calm down by the same person who enraged you to begin with.

That sensor KNOWS.

It will sound an alarm whenever a situation, place, or person matches something in the database a little too closely. When you heed that alarm and adjust the way you know from experience you have to, when you heed that alarm and do what you need to do to survive--

--that's when you get it.

When you don't--

--that's when you forget it. And shit becomes enormously confusing from that point on until the next click, until the alarm goes off again only this time, you ACT.

I love the click. I hate getting to it, it's often grueling, and damn I wish that light could just stay on all the time, but I love the click: Right, recognize this. Seen it before. Should have seen it here earlier. Shouldn't have disconnected the alarm. Won't do that again. (Oh, yes you will.) Well, no need for more of it; out ya go. That's better. Where were we?

Thank you to the people who helped me reach the switch today.

8 comments:

gennimcmahon said...

"When you heed that alarm and adjust the way you know from experience you have to, when you heed that alarm and do what you need to do to survive--"

Exactly. First, you need to survive. Other people's expectations, demands, feelings and other bullshit rate a way back there second to your survival.

I cannot say how many times I have wished I had trusted my gut instead of second-guessing it, telling myself to calm down, or be nice, or not get excited. Dammit, there was a reason for that gut check and those feelings, it wasn't just my vagina getting in the way.

I am not a silly girl.
You are not a silly girl.

gennimcmahon said...

I'm only leaving this so that I get email on further comments...yes, I am administratively useless.

Magniloquence said...

Hunh. I keep having this click here at work.

Click! This place is dangerous and you need to leave.

.. but then things get better, or people talk me out of doing 'rash' things, or I just get tired and forget, and I'm back to square one. At which point I get to commence the 'congratulate/berate' dance, whee!

We are not always high-strung, too emotional, needlessly inflammatory, or overly argumentative; sometimes we're just struggling to say something we worry won't be received well, and our anxiety about that becomes fear becomes anger.

I really needed to hear this. As much as I love my parents, and I know they support me, I kind of want to plaster this all over my dad's car the next time we talk.

Charlotte said...

Call it gut-feeling, intuition, divine inspiration, whatever--that little voice inside you often knows the truth more than your brain does. Of course, we were all brought up to put brainpower first and the body second ... which makes for such rare, delightful clicks.

Emily said...

Great post.

I would also add: We are not always PMSing or driven by hormones. I hate it when I get angry or have a strong emotional reaction to something and somebody else chalks it up to PMS, as if I am unable to have a legitimate response to things.

ilyka said...

Dammit, there was a reason for that gut check and those feelings, it wasn't just my vagina getting in the way.

Yeah, there always is, right? But the second-guessing and the doubt, that's programmed in EARLY.

I am administratively useless.

No you aren't! That was me. Well, first it was Google Groups, and THEN it was me. The group quit sending ANY emails about comments, and they were getting hung up in moderation, so I went in there and changed it to just my address. I can try changing it back and seeing if it's behaving better now, though.

And then I can do what I keep saying I'm going to do but don't, for some reason: I can get the hell off of Blogger. So sick of this.

.. but then things get better, or people talk me out of doing 'rash' things, or I just get tired and forget, and I'm back to square one

Been there!

"It's not that bad."

"But I have friends here."

"Jobs are scarce. I'd better stick it out."

You'll get out. Trust yourself! I know that every time I've jumped ship, it's always been better, if only because it takes a long time to build up a truly unhealthy work dynamic, and so a new job won't get as bad until at least a year or so goes by. :)

Every time I've ignored that and stayed--well, let's see, a couple times that got me laid off, and even when that didn't happen, why did I insist on putting myself through more months of misery?

I don't know. Getting to the switch is sometimes hard, is all.

As much as I love my parents, and I know they support me, I kind of want to plaster this all over my dad's car the next time we talk.

My dad shuts me down that way too! "Now calm down--" the minute I hear that my upset intensifies. Doesn't he know how hard I've been trying to keep it together to this point? (No, or he does but doesn't care.)

Oh, but it's nice to have him hundreds of miles away sometimes.

Of course, we were all brought up to put brainpower first and the body second ...

Hi Charlotte! I hadn't thought of it that way but it is in some sense like a body memory, or at least I notice that I do feel more grounded, more at home in my skin, once I get it again.

I hate it when I get angry or have a strong emotional reaction to something and somebody else chalks it up to PMS, as if I am unable to have a legitimate response to things.

Oh Emily, word. And you know, what's a "legitmate" response anyhow? How you feel is how you feel. Just because I probably shouldn't shoot up a post office even if it IS "only" PMS doesn't mean I'm wrong to feel hot enough to think about it.

La Lubu said...

That sensor KNOWS.

It will sound an alarm whenever a situation, place, or person matches something in the database a little too closely. When you heed that alarm and adjust the way you know from experience you have to, when you heed that alarm and do what you need to do to survive--


I just read a book called Decartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by neurologist Antonio Damasio that pretty much puts it exactly that way. That our ability to reason is intimately, indelibly connected with our emotional centers both within the brain and the body. That essentially emotional knowledge "in our bones" is rapid-fire shorthand, a deep database for decision-making.

the bewilderness said...

I suppose that when they tell you to calm down they really mean shut up. I can be just as shrill in a perfectly calm and reasonable voice as I can when I am excited. In fact, now that I think of it, I have been instructed to calm down more often when I was perfectly calm that when I was excited. Perhaps it is the intensity they are rejecting my right to express. My mother does it nonverbally by grimmacing as though she were in pain.
I think that we are programmed with dismissal so early and so well that we spend the rest of our lives struggling against the tendency to dismiss ourselves as well as others.
It seems a goofy thing to do when you have so many areas of employment where the majority of the training is an effort to teach you to stop dismissing those pings or clicks that your brain makes when it connects a detail of today with an experience of the past.