On the way home from the ocean, we got into an interchange that wasn’t so much a disagreement as an experiment in again having a conversation where we don’t subscribe to the same beliefs. Usually I go a certain distance into these and then roll over, paws in the air, and say I quit. I don’t like tussles. I know from experience that we won’t agree.
This time was actually different, and I didn’t roll over, I just did my best to describe why we were clearly on different sides and think why that might be. For once, I felt better about it.
I’m at a loss about what the inciting thing was, but I do remember that ascribing “motive” to action was basic. We really don’t agree on this, never have, and I started to explore why this might be.
What I came to see is that the way the two of us grew up is essentially different. He was a very wanted pregnancy, a difficult birth, and lived with his single mom in a span of horrendous poverty after his dad deserted. She never failed to let him know that he was the light of her life, and that they shared how difficult that could be.
I was a “bought” adoption by an affluent couple ill-suited to parenthood, and I was always told how lucky I was, and how much love and gratitude should be paid. I never formed a core of identity, only a debt.
So our homeward interchange started toward my putting my paws in the air, and then deflected toward how a person’s essential core affects an honest discussion. I think I learned a lot.
There are theories that compare upbringing by a “nurturing mother” versus “disciplinarian father.” My dad was actually the more nurturing parent, but he wasn’t there much, and my mom’s punitive and often abusive role was what formed me. I learned early on that I didn’t have a voice.
We are in a crucial and very dangerous stage of tumultuous politics, which seem to me like a hardening into antagonistic tribes, trending ever closer into condoning violence. Is there anything to be gained by looking into what hurts, what’s a scar from a painful rearing? And if we did see it, what would make a diffrerence?
I know that it made a huge difference to me in my teens to suddenly discover that there were other people like me, that I wasn’t a bizarre loner. It was a temporary high and didn’t keep me from sliding down and down and down into the miasma of lies and desperate illicit acts that I thought might keep my head above water. But when I came face to face with failure and then my mate’s absolute love, my old false carapace had to shatter, and it did.
I was far down, way far down, and I did change. Bit by bit, slowly, painfully, but it happened. Why can’t that happen with our wounded polity? As an irrepressible force I was blessed with an immovable object in a dance of creation. I think it is up to all of us to bond together in a dance that looks like more fun than the dance of death.