Housing a growlybear

I’ve been reading a lot today, and yesterday. I sound so redundant, but there is so much added to my  perspective when I read some of you, some of your words. It’s always worth the time spent.

That’s not what this post is about, but the idea to write down these observations was inspired by some of my reading this morning, and a conversation I got into last night.

Last night I was talking to my S.O. about global warming or climate change. The Obama administration is trying to alter the verbiage to global climate change, because that’s just more accurate based on our level of knowledge at this point. 

The fact is, the results of excessive pollution in our atmosphere are complex and not well understood. There are so many changes taking place since the advent of human progress, and the earth’s systems are so intertwined- ocean currents affect storm-fronts in the mid-west- radiation melts the ice-caps which tend to reflect the sun, and when it gets hot, other natural systems kick into gear to compensate- the threads and inter-connectedness are endless. We don’t really *know* what will happen, and when. What we do know is that stuff is happening faster than we expected.

It’s possible that the opposite extreme could result- a global ice-age instead of global warming. We will probably end up first observing an exaggerated effect of what has already started- hotter temperatures in warm places, colder temperatures in cool places, and storms that are more violent and more frequent than human history prepares us for.

But this isn’t a two plus two equals four scenario. Two plus two might equal four hundred, or even a negative number. 

And that whole thing- the acknowledgement that unforeseen results can appear in complex systems- that’s what is kind of bending my mind today. That possibility sort of sets human nature on edge, because no matter how flexible you think you are, there’s like this inner need for people to feel in control. 

That’s why we live in climate controlled boxes, and why we freak out when things happen that we don’t understand. That’s why a person might pray for mercy if they plant a field of corn and end up with hybrid tomatoes. It’s kind of disturbing when two plus two equals -312.

I’m going to condense this down to a personal level. Lately I have been bending over backwards to be present and responsive to my daughter. I am interested. We make lots of effort to do things she wants to do, to go that extra mile. I’ve tried to give generous attention, and not have her be in the position of asking for it and not expecting to receive it. 

And she’s a really good kid, mind you. She has always been patient and understanding, especially considering what a small sliver of me has been emotionally available at times.

So what do you suppose my efforts have resulted in?

*grins*  I think this is a line from a movie… No, no! It’s from the West-Wing: Josh’s therapist goes, “I know you think I’m telling you that two plus two equals potatoes, but… ”

My daughter is mad at me.

Uh huh. She’s mad, and dismissive, and frustrated. She turns half our outings into exercises in patience, if not out and out tests to see if I will, in fact, sell her to the gypsies if she pushes me too far.

To go  by a few hours from the past week, she sometimes doesn’t appear to like me.

That’s such a weird thing, isn’t it? She’s absolutely wonderful when her parent is sort of a crap parent, but when I’m going the extra mile, she’s making me feel like a repugnant nazi.

I was pretty discouraged when that trend started surfacing, but now— I hafta view it as hopeful. I really thought about it, and the fact is… she’s starting to trust me. The tragic part is that she actually didn’t feel she could act out around me before, because she feared losing whatever portion of mom she had. Now I’m really trying to be all here, and it actually makes sense in a way that first she’d test it out. Try and find out just how solid and reliable this version of mom can be.  

Secondly: She didn’t really ask for a change in our dynamic, it was simply delivered. I don’t know about you, but I get somewhat pissed off when my expectations get turned on their head. Even if they aren’t good expectations, or even if they’re replaced in a positive way, it leaves you in a position of kind of reacting rather than acting. And that’s just not comfortable.

So this all makes sense, if I think about it. And it comes as little surprise that there are parallels between my relationship with my daughter, and my new romantic relationship. I have been getting the idea for some time that my ability to connect with her in a healthy and positive way will precede any lasting meaningful connection with anyone else.

I mean, good or bad, at the most basic, animal level, I’m a mother. I cannot go forward and leave my daughter behind.

So there’s this guy… 

And it’s weird. It’s always weird for me to be in love. Being loved back is weirder still. To be accepted and to feel secure, to feel that someone *likes* you, even when fear has turned you cold and sarcastic- to have that affirmation that someone still delights in that form of you, is…

wow. I’m aware that there are people with healthy relationships who have never known anything else, so it might sound goofy to be constantly surprised that love can be such an amazing experience.

I’ve done things that might have screwed it up in the past months. But when that verbal ambush forms, he firmly takes it and turns it around, and I’ve learned the trick for when it’s just me: Simply turn it around. I want this. I don’t hafta screw it up. It’s okay to acknowledge that this is important to me.

So the feeling grows that this is both solid and flexible enough to survive.

So what do you think happens? Now that something good and strong is added to my life? Do you think I wake happy and invite the world in?


Nope. I’m housing a growly bear. Not toward him or my daughter, but toward the rest of the world. I feel critical. Closed.  There’s sort of an ungiving nature under my nature.


Jung would say this is my human nature trying to be in balance- negative trying to balance out the positive. That would happen in dreams if I could ever sleep.

Don’t really buy that, though.

Today, I couldn’t believe someone intelligent and expressive liked American Idol. I couldn’t believe another person took themselves so seriously. I sat there and scowled over the predictability of my ex. These are little growls, and they’re really uncharacteristic. I went to church, and I sat there drawing in from the people, the infirmity and general dowdiness of the crowd. I felt a sort of distaste, a desire to be around people I relate to more fully. (I never go to church) It took the remarkable intelligence and compassion of a palm Sunday sermon (which is worth a blog itself) to kind of crack me open and not sit there in my growlybear ugliness looking askance at everybody.

Why is this? Why is it when I feel loved, accepted, secure… when I have this source of joy, why am I being so miserly in spirit? 

Possibly this isn’t new, but just a result of spending so much time concerned with whether others liked me, that I didn’t have a chance to figure out if I liked others.

I don’t think I’m superior. Wait a sec, Yes I do! Me and my brain… it takes a hell of a lot of intelligence, compassion, or some form of talent/understanding for me to admire you. I just haven’t had the emotional leisure to acknowledge the arrogance of my standards.

I still hafta figure out who I am in the context of others, and if she’s a decent person. I suspect there’s  room for improvement.

This sure isn’t what I thought would happen, internally, upon meeting the love of my life. But there you have it: Unexpected results from complex systems.

(Oh, you can go ahead and feed my inner growly bear, but mind your fingers. She bites.)


4 thoughts on “Housing a growlybear

  1. Ah! Dear inner growly bear, change is hard, whether it’s change that is positive or negative. We are such creatures of habit that we tend to drift along in muck simply because we know what muck feels like, smells like, and we don’t know how comfortable we’ll be relaxing on the white sand beach that we see in front of us.

    OK, enough philosophizing. Not sure what came over me just then, but I’m back. Now I have to go feed the cat before she bites my fingers off.

  2. Yeah, what Bo said.

    Maybe happiness is an alien feeling that the psyche rejects. Maybe you have to take it in smaller doses. Maybe you’re expecting way too much of yourself.

    Ah shit, what do I know. I get drunk and try to summarize life in 17 syllables.

  3. Your Daughter is growing up. This is gonna cause her and you ALOT of conflicts. You can’t be their best friend and their mother. There is an unhappy medium in there. I say unhappy because at times she’ll think she hates you. She’ll think she knows better. She’ll ignore every warning about everything you have ever said. She’ll be wrong on all accounts. She’ll figure it out once all the hormones stop wrecking havok with her biology.

    Just be there when she needs you. Start off now being her friend (not her best friend) Start talking to her now about the bad things in life. A little at a time. There are times to be the parent too. If you set a punishment for wrong doing don’t let up. (you can postpone them sometimes if it’s really for her betterment. IE a planed slumber party that would be both crushing to her and rude to the host of the party.)

    It’s great you have found someone. That’s All I can say about that really.

    Concerning weather or not others like you…If they don’t, Fuck em. They don’t deserve you. And you certainly don’t need the hassle. If they persist in throwing jibes at you at work or where ever you are that they are present and you are not able to remove yourself then just stand up to them, look em in the eye and say ” FUCK YOU, ” you would be surprised at how good that feels. Then you can say “who made you the judge and jury of my life? I have one maker and he/she isn’t so narrow minded as you. ” Or something similar. There is no reason to take being shit on constantly by others. (well unless there yer boss and you really like your job.) If you have “in-laws” of your significant other that you can’t stand stay away from them. If you can’t stay away then let the inner bear out and mark your territory. It’s better to be the bear in these situations rather than the mouse.

    Just remember a nice boisterous “FUCK YOU!” Feels just as good as keying someones car and it’s not illegal.

  4. I was thinking the same thing about you and your daughter. I read in a parenting magazine once about kids and how they behave all day for their daycare provider or whatever, and then act up at home…and it’s because they don’t know the consequences of the daycare, but they know at home, they are safe and loved.

    How old is she? There’s a certain amount of crap that comes with pre-teen hormones, as they’re trying to separate from you that kind of sucks.

    If number one and number two are both going on at the same time, you could be in for it.

    I also have trouble when plans change. I might wake up thinking I want cereal for breakfast, and then we go out for pancakes…pancakes are TONS better than cereal, but it’s still and adjustment and I’ve been known to react poorly. It’s not a side of myself that I’m proud of.

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