Part 11: The Power of Abandonment* (Final)
Last update: 9/16/2017 below
Per Harville Hendrix, if we are able to surmount the challenges of power struggles in relationships where we feel vulnerable, we can transcend the ordinary, reconnect with parts of ourselves that we disowned in childhood, and then work to create a more authentic self that encompasses these disowned parts.
Second dictionary definition of stoicism:
An ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.
It’s easy to deliver platitudes like “let everything roll off you like water off a duck’s back.” So how do you achieve Nirvana if you’re experiencing power struggles? By now we know it requires getting to our root causes. Hopefully this story will illustrate how others who experience this can transform that experience into peace on the other side of chaos.
Let us dig into an uptown fuser / downtown isolator situation. That’s a good example of opposites attract which could create a greater and richer whole, as well as create a lot of opportunity for power struggles. “You can’t live without ‘em, and you can’t shoot ‘em.” Cue howling mangy mutt.
In dad’s family, grandfather came home with a pregnant prostitute who became his second wife, scattering the family. The resulting fallout through subsequent generations is interesting. All of the men married and had families. All of the women either remained single, married and had no children, or married and divorced. Even my dad was blind to this. He said: “what are you talking about? Your grandmother was the only one who got a divorce.” I blinked, then systematically went down the line until the evidence was irrefutable. From there, I figured out the core pattern for women in the family is: “men can’t be trusted.”
This was a stepping stone to a realization related to the other person’s story of an ancestor being the product of a rape, and the extreme version of that pattern that popped into my head was: “men are predators”. That floored me, because it explains a lot of extreme “isolator” behavior, such as wanting intimacy and going to great lengths to get it but then pulling away. Having that kind of pattern projected would render a person emotionally neutered, with a tendency to turn justifiable rage inward so that he can’t harm anyone. To me this could explain anything and everything from the inability to communicate to substance abuse, schizophrenia, landing in jail, etc.
I feel as an unconscious victim I was derailed by “kiddie” patterns such as “I am unlovable if I don’t achieve”, “I am unlovable and deserve to be rejected”, and “men can’t be trusted.” I say kiddie, not because of how these patterns manifested because I think it’s clear that these types of patterns manifest in peoples’ lives in devastating ways. I say kiddie because when we are able to get past our blind spots and see the root cause, our rational brains giggle at how simultaneously smart and stupid our reptilian brains are.
But “men are predators” represents a vicious class of patterns, with far more devastating consequences to peoples’ lives and the lives of those around them.
The other reason this finally clicked for me is because at the start of this series I said the second wife was an 18 year old prostitute, but when I first heard our family stories, dad said she was 14. When sis and I visited Taiwan with our parents for the first time in 2010 and my dad asked, the second wife said no, she was 18 at the time.
When I was 14 and starting to physically transform, things felt weird for awhile, even though I didn’t understand anything about sex at that point. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what until the family stories started coming out, but by then it was too late. I kept derailing in one relationship after another until I met Frank.
But through power struggles, once we realized the source of the pain and PTSD symptoms were patterns - roles we were playing in a theater play that unfolded generations ago that had nothing to do with us - suddenly this transmuted the pain and struggles into something entirely different. We are not predators and 14 year old prostitutes. And once we achieve this realization and become conscious survivors, we can begin to take steps to become who we were meant to be.
This is a good stopping point. The list of references may be enough for readers to answer any remaining questions.
In conclusion, what is absolutely amazing about embarking on this journey of recapturing lost fragments, is that when I integrated them I finally realized how incredibly lucky I have been. Yes, those in our family have had our challenges, and yet I wouldn't change anything about my life because that would be throwing out the baby along with the bathwater.
"Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters."
Ch'uan Teng Lu, 22. (The Way of Zen 126)
Miller, Alice. Drama of the Gifted Child. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Kotler, Steven and Wheal, Jamie. Stealing Fire. New York: Dey Street Books, 2017.
Patterson, Kerry et al. Crucial Conversations. Michigan: Brilliance Audio, 2013.
Fisher, Roger Ury, Richard and Patton, Bruce. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin Books, 2011.
Ury, Richard. The Power of a Positive No. New York: Bantam books, 2007.
Hendrix, Harville. Getting the Love You Want. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2007.
Malkin, Craig. Rethinking Narcissism. New York, Harper Wave, 2015.
Light, Phyllis. Prince Charming Lives! Texas: Light Unlimited, 1994.