Deprogramming Co-Dependance, A Snowy Saturday Satisfaction.

So. I’m sitting at a dark seedy bar, having lunch waiting for my oil to change, the place is empty, snowstorm on a Saturday afternoon, just me and the bar teller lady or whatever they are called, a few hard core gamblers on the video money extractors, and one lonely construction guy at the far away end, who had 6 beers in the 2 hours I was there, probably driving into his next tragedy on the road home.
The bar lady and I got talking about her future career as an Ambulance Driver, which they hate to be called as it turns out, as a step on the ladder to medical doctorate. So we got talking about her Mom, a perpetual child who turned her kid into a caregiver at an early age, reversing the parent role, something I know lots about, a shared experience.
So I told her about my Mom and her endless helplessness and immaturity, and the family therapist I consulted, who said I was an orphan who received no unconditional love, who raised himself in the library, reading scientists like Asimov and Heinlein, developing my bitterness and skepticism about supposed unconditional love systems like religion and family. I mean he, the therapist, taught me to accept myself without conditions, A Good Thing. I’m now a constant source of unconditional love, for myself.
So it turns out that parents such as ours, have kids and groom them, think cult grooming, and turn them into little caregivers (little parents really), with the notion, ‘you must do well by winning the love of significant others (mommy), or else you are a piece of garbage’.
I mean it’s pretty ruthless, to have your parent hate you, so you have to give up your wonder and exploration of childhood, to care for them. Think of farm folk having 18 kids so they have cheap labour, that kind of thing. Luke Skywalker never left the family farm.
Ever do baseball teams, or Scouts, or music or art clubs of any kind, the therapists ask, umm no come to think of it…did you do a lot of sugar as a kid, smoke at an early age, do pot, get into religion and yoga cults later in life? umm ya come to think of it… addicted to reading and the library as well come to think of it… Ya those are all distractions from Anxiety (terror), of being a kid and having to be a parent, or else you are a no good shit, it’s pretty common, pretty awful.
The current American president (Trump) is also a helpless child and has turned every co-dependent in the country into his care giving team, because he can’t care for himself, frightened and dependent. Fires everybody who demands that he grow up. So his symbolic kids, the American people, are all worried and stressed, because symbolic Dad, is a golf/sex addict and can’t do his job. Everyone is freaking out or turning to religion and hard core hate of those in need.
I remember the Brad Pitt movie, Moneyball, where he says to his kid, don’t worry about your Dad..and I broke into tears, him telling the kid who is the parent and who gets to be the kid. That’s the real American Dream.
So her eyes got wider, the bar teller lady, as she recognized this very common pattern, and her role in her family. She is now, for a career, caretaking a bunch of drunks in a bar and her aspiration is to care for all humanity, so Mom will like and accept her so she will have some self esteem which she will lose at the first harsh word to come her way. Co-dependance means having your own strategies for satisfaction, as second best, others approval as first best.
“If you have self esteem you can lose self esteem, so drop the notion, the slavery really, of getting perpetual good ratings of yourself to get esteem.  Rate just your strategies for satisfaction instead. The purpose of life is satisfaction.”
“Your Mom ain’t ever gonna like you, in fact she hates you, you didn’t cause that  to happen.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“You don’t have secret mind powers that control others likes and dislikes.”
“Others likes and dislikes only describe them, never you”
and then the big one:
“If you could put yourself first, if all things were reasonably possible, what would you do just for your own satisfaction, if the purpose of life were your own satisfaction, not others?”
Holy fuck I never thought of that….. DANCE! I would study DANCE!, she said. For a moment you could see the chains of emotional slavery fall away. The lost joy of childhood return.
Ya when the family therapist asked me that question I dropped everything and went to art school, and while I was there a prof, Alan Dunning, took one look at my work, first day in my studio visit crit, said to me, you are still making images to go on your Mom’s fridge so she will like you. Ouch.
What would you do if you could do anything that satisfied just you, if you were an artist and could do anything you want? (remember this is a pretty common issue). Oh! I like computers and the internet and screwing with photo. OK then, so Alan and I learned Photoshop version 2 and web building together, he stayed one step ahead of me, building bigger more powerful computers, eventually outfitting a computer lab and heading the MadT dept. at the college, until he retired. Wow, that’s a dedicated teacher.
Currently, my art practice is building my own computers and digital pixel scooping with a camera and screwing with it endlessly for output on the web, mostly.
‘Oh, you make a living at that?’ (so mommy will approve).
Fuck no, have no interest in making a living at that, I have lots of marketable skills I make a living at.
This is art, where I can do anything I want, not what some gallery owner wants so she can make money off me and her stable of co-dependents, anxious and hostile drunks and addicts, most of them, still trying to get child-mommy to like them so they can feel good of themselves, it’s all so conditional, only now the condition is sales, never personal or professional satisfaction. As Alan Dunning once said to me, any idiot will buy shit, what does that have to do with art? Picasso supposedly said, (my brackets) “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, (and please mommy) but a lifetime to paint like a child (and please myself ).”
Then I got a call that my oil changed, and here I am, transformed as well.
Neat!

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