29 October 1956
With all this “Thompson” interference business with Kurt – I think I have learned one lesson. I am not always sure of what I am doing, and this stems back to my association with my mother.
When I disagreed with her she tried to make me look like an idiot, or a wanton, a rebel, or whatever have you. Because this was true, even though my arguments might have been absolutely correct and right and because she was so domineering and authoritarian, so rigid in her views, she would not give me an inch of rightness. As Jane Kessler pointed out, I was more sinned against than sinning in my growing years. The result of this deadlock with my mother developed for a time a certain behavior pattern. I tried to present reasons for my doing things; tried to educate her to my point of view. I felt if she could understand me, she might see some sense in what I was trying to do or accomplish. It never worked with my mother and with her I gave up trying to convince her of my side of the picture, knowing it was hopeless to change her in any way. However, I never did stop trying to sell my ideas, as they came to me, regardless of whether they were right or wrong. If they were one or the other, time would tell, and I adjusted the wrong ideas, or often admitted or reconfigured or recategorized major errors in my thinking as I learned better.
Jane Kessler used asked me why I found it so necessary to explain to Kurt what was going on between her and myself during my analysis. I answered I just want Kurt to understand – maybe he can learn from my experience too.
Now that I look back my motivation was really to have understanding from Kurt because it was the “mother pattern” I have just described above. I needed Kurt’s love and affection – was afraid he might shut me out from himself as my mother did if she did not understand my motivations. In other words, felt so little faith in my own abilities to think and act I needed Kurt support for correction for my thought processes for my actions.
Suddenly, with this Thompson letter business, this whole pattern comes to the fore. Kurt’s anger and disapproval, which may only have been motivated by job loss fear or timidity, was directed at me. Yet in a way I deserved it. If I was so unsure of what I had done, although my instinct prompted me in the procedure I took. If I had so little faith in my own intelligence and looked to him for approval, I should not have been too annoyed at his anger. He didn’t see the situation as I did. He was frightened and naturally he was “God damn mad” at me as he put it.
I guess I’ve learned something from this experience: how dependent I was on Kurt’s approval and how necessary it is to know that you stand or fall in your own estimation if you look to others, even those close to you, for support. Also, if you have a conviction, have the courage to try to exercise it. If you are wrong, then you are wrong. It is a mistake. But if you look to another person to bolster encourage, it doesn’t work – particularly if their own emotions or fears are involved. You do have to check with reality to be sure, but you are still the man of the sea if you lose faith in yourself by letting those even very close to you destroy your courage. How good your ideas are depends upon how many of them are sound and workable.
Human beings are created with minds of their own and God help them if they do not try to exercise that mind. All they will succeed in doing if they don’t use their own mind is to let others build a prison around it. Not that you can’t listen to others but listen to yourself and not ask exclusively to others or you will never become an individual in your own right.
Others may be very right, and you may be very wrong but if you don’t make a few mistakes on your own you will never develop your own judgment and learn when to listen to others and when not to.
There are various ways of punishing a person – I guess it would go under the heading of “mental cruelty” or just plain “cruelty”.
For instance – my mother was a fanatic about sex purity – and social sanctions. In my most rebellious moments I punished her, fought against her by flaunting sex. Since it was prohibited and caused pain to her I had no respect for morality – although I was thoroughly dominated by her and frightened half silly of her.
Since sex flaunting did not work I simply removed myself from her sphere of domination by leaving home. This too did not work satisfactorily. As I see it, that didn’t work just at as sex flaunting didn’t work because I was still basically emotionally under her domination. I never freed myself of it. I wanted her approval so badly. And as long as in my heart I needed or felt I needed her approval I could never escape her – no matter what I did or where I went – she could hurt me (because of this desire for her approval) more than I could feel I could hurt her. Underneath it all, I was unhappy because when I hurt her I was hurting myself.
The flaw in my thinking, unconsciously, was I accepted her judgment. I had no rights of my own – but was only subject to her. I guess this whole pattern has stayed with me until this Thompson letter thing came up and Kurt’s anger and disapproval laid the seeds for a clarification of my thinking.
Perhaps Kurt has cause to rebel against me. He doesn’t evaluate me on the objective basis of whether I am right or wrong – he sees life naturally within the framework of his own understanding and learning. He feels I dominate him. It is true, I have pushed him hard many times.
Now he knows his aggressiveness in sex infuriates me. What better way to punish me for not only my own pressure on him but any pressure on him. I become the target; the whipping boy. And therein lies the deadlock between the two of us.
As long as I can be hurt by his particular method of punishment he will use it as a whip against me without realizing what motivates him.
All I need to do is understand the process, stop punishing him, and let him go through all his “freezing” tactics: ignoring me – forgetting I am at the window to wave goodbye to him – [by] quietly leaving him when he gets inconsiderate and pushy and insistent and domineering in sex, and he will either turn on me furiously or the whole situation will come to a head and finally be resolved.
No one can do anything to you (except in that case of superior brute force or advantage) that you do not give them the permission to do in some way.
Now Blanche – when her domineering tendencies are flaunted pulls the “What can you expect of an ignoramus?” routine. She will get nasty and belittle a person no matter how politely. For instance, Stan doesn’t let Blanche pull him around like a puppet on a string (Corky sees to this and fights Blanche). What is the result? A nasty: “Stan I told you! I want that to go to all the trade! She is a domineering person too and wants her own way.
But, anyone can pull punishing techniques – the important thing is to know this and to recognize them and not get sick at heart over them.
If you really are stupid – all right! So, you are stupid! – no one is so smart as to know everything or one doesn’t have each other’s knowledge. So, if you want to – you learn. But if someone uses stupidity or a person’s ignorance as a wedge to punish – then the antidote is understanding of the technique and what reaction the punishing person is trying to rouse in you. If the punishment succeeds to devaluate you, to lower your dignity and your faith in yourself – the weapon is very effective especially if the submission to such domination is achieved.
True teaching is help – not a punishing technique. It is given with love and kindness – not with cruelty. If there is cruelty and it is a device for purposes other than teaching – and there is little true love in it.
True love and true teaching is uplifting, instructive, and strengthens the individual. It is patient and builds up – does not tear apart or down. It works for greater strength, does not exploit weakness. It moves towards harmony and unity, not toward exploitation or special privilege, thereby creating disunity. It adds to a better human with higher individual dignity made up of good knowing and strength that helps the individual fulfill the best in each personality. It does not degrade or humiliate the good human emotions or ride roughshod over others.
“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” And force does not improve the situation. When one uses force, one says only I can teach you. Actually, such an attitude is one of little faith – one can try to teach – but life after all is the best teacher. Individuals can only point the way and be patient – unless the house is on fire – then firmness is called for quick action.
Domination can take various forms but generally it falls into one or another form: physical, mental, economical, sexual, or a pseudo – “It’s good for you!” the “I have your interests at heart” policy, even if basically this policy masks personal selfish interests, not the interests of the benefiting one, is a device frequently used for the purposes of domination.