Disclosure of one's early life carries some weighty risks. There is the inevitable charge of "blaming" parents for our failures and shortcomings. There is also the risk that memory will be partial and partially distorted rendering the disclosure only partly true and verifiable. And there is the significant risk that exposing family secrets that caused deep pain is another exercise in self-pity partying.
Nevertheless, such disclosure can be (usually is), clarifying in "healing" those emotional and psychic wounds. It can also uncover the parallel processes that surround all of us from the perspective of 'newly' warranted options. Mostly though the newness is relative only to the individual since there really is nothing "new" on the radar of how humans live our lives.
So....under a paper umbrella of superficial "cover" of consciousness of the grenades that are going to explode spontaneously I hesitatingly and timidly and also uneqivocally put a toe in the water of disclosure.
My father's pithy observation that my sister and I were "raised by Hitler and Chamberlain" continues to echo and reverberate in my head.
He considered himself the appeaser in his insight, with his spouse as the tyrant.
For decades, I have predictably vacillated in anger and hurt feelings directed focused on each parent. Toward mother, I felt and resented her domination, manipulation and compulsive and overt physical and emotional abuse. Toward father, I found his passive-aggressive "peace-maker" archetype indicative of his spinelessness and his failure to assert his inherent value to employer and family.
The details of the incidents and dramas through which this drama unfolded are far less important than the cumulative impact they have had on someone embedded as "fly-on-the-wall" in that home.
Overt exercise of power, from agents whose righteous indignation spawns critiques of others appears to be the "instigator" of conflicts that seem to be reconcileable. Much attention, social and political scorn, including many laws are dedicated to sanctioning this aggressive behaviour including judgemental words and invective. Tyrants are universally driven by an insatiable need for power and control, and are invariably both competent and creative in the methods they choose to "control" the situation.
On the other hand, their insight never ignores or denies their penetrating insight into how far they can go before "all hell erupts" in their face, however they envision that "hell".
Our attention now turns to those who are responsible for setting boundaries to limit, perhaps neutralize or potentially eliminate the scourge of the despot.
In our family, that "actor" was male. Models of masculinity abound in the vein of the conflict-averse, diplomatic, diversion tactics-rich appraiser. Often this archetype considers itself more tolerant and generous and accommodating than the "other side" who appear to them to incarnate aggressive and clear notions of right and wrong, saving as opposed to spending, a resistance to ambiguity and a self-righteousness too often founded on some kind of religious purity.
The dichotomy of overt aggressive exercise of power by one side encountering and depending on the silent and polite and somewhat sterile appeasement of the other fills volumes of history books, literary works and philosophic treatises.
Hegel's thesis-antithesis-synthesis is one model of diagnosing and interpreting the dynamic.
On the public stage in U.S. and global geopolitics, we are watching what, at least in part, is another series of the reiterations of this simplistic formula.
My own vacillation from anger and frustration to one side only to be immediately challenger by an equal, if different, frustration to the other side is no longer adequate. Synthesizing the benefits from both sides is also only a partial balm. It is rather an embrace of the fears of both that shows more promise.
Mother feared social and political and economic inferiority and professional and parental failure. Father feared disturbing the rabid bear whenever and wherever he "found" it. As a result, the playing field was literally left unencumbered by opposition or limits to her.
Simultaneously, father avoided finding his voice/spine/authentic integrity and his spirit slipped away long before his death at 91.
Over the 63 years of the marriage, however, a facade of public performance closeted a volcano of potential emotional, judgemental and contemptuous conflict, a war that could and would erupt seemingly without notice.
Astride that potential as an integral component of the cover-up were dramatic displays of sumptuous and excessive food, excessive hygiene, gardens that eclipsed those within sight, religiosity of church attendance and moral superiority always compared to the "demented debaucherie" or laziness and irresponsibility of others, the puritanical penny-pinching versus the extravagant display of wealth of others (even with the family).
Performing to avoid the "wrath" was surrogate for an exploration of truth and multiple perspectives on any and all issues. Maturity, ambiguity and the needed unfolding of shared uncertainties and the inevitable "growth" for those at the table were abandoned as sacrifice to the public performance.
Children were pawns in the service of a maternal obsession with magnetizing applause. And at the end, immediately following the death of the appraiser, he was judged "no good" by the despot.
Was such an assessment inevitable?
Was it warranted?
Did it say more about the "judge" or the "judged"?
Perhaps it says all we need to know.
Where does this fly on the wall find a figure to trust, or, does one withdraw and withhold trust from nearly all situations and persons one encounters?
Or, alternatively, does one reframe the question of trust from one focused on their respective deficits, to being able to trust their defects….
I know that I can trust that one will continue to dominate
I know that the other will continue to appease.
The strength/power of one (side, party, cult, gang, parent) will eventually erase the impotence if the other side (party, cult, gang, parent) in pursuit of whatever goals and purposes it deems necessary...even if those purposes are inherently evil and soul or state-destroying.
There are no perceived (or warranted) limits to the ambition of the tyrant without the conscious and deliberate and disciplined spinal-replacement of the other.
It is long past time for our culture to start paying attention to the dark spaces on the various landscapes. Our addiction to the glitter of tyranny does not and cannot serve to empower any of us.
When will the forces/nations purporting to be
democracies of free people cease their appeasement of the powers of the growing
numbers of tyrants from Bejing,
Moscow, Brazil, North Korea, Hungary, Turkey?
Is it not more feasible that only a strategy of ambiguous containment is achievable, given the unlimited aspirations of the tyrants and the meagre and soft coalition of the democrats?
How many times have each of us “appeased” a bully, consciously or not, and then, on reflection wished we had found our voice to speak up and put a stop to the abuse?
It is the appeaser in each of us that needs, even silently demands, formal recognition and nurture. And when the appeaser fails and sabotages itself, perhaps then it will find its voice.
Can and will the Democrats find their spine in the face of the anarchy being slowly and silently and blatantly imposed by the trump cult?
Will the United States continue to vacillate from frustration with the trump, QAnon cult to the frustration with the limp, wet-noodle Democratic response?