Monday, May 21, 2012

Purring: Lessons from Mrs. Dalloway


“Mrs Dalloway is always giving parties to cover the silence”
“She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.”
“Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely? All this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?”
“Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame”
“To love makes one solitary.”
“Peter would think her sentimental. So she was. For she had come to feel that it was the only thing worth saying – what one felt. Cleverness was silly. One must say simply what one felt.”
“They went in and out of each other’s minds without any effort.”
“This late age of the world’s experience had bred in them all, all men and women, a well of tears.”
“Her only gift was knowing people almost by instinct, she thought, walking on. If you put her in a room with someone, up went her back like a cat's; or she purred.”

Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs. Dalloway, one of her best novels, in 1925.  With a tight writing style, complex themes dealing with mental illness, feminism, and suicide, and a biographical tinge, it no surprise Woolf's masterpiece has gained such notoriety.  For me, its Clarissa Dalloway, a character Woolf modeled after herself, that draws me to the novel.  Like her heroine, Woolf suffered from severe depression, questioned the meaning of her existence, and struggled to retain her hold on life.  Perhaps it is true that we "read to know we're not alone". Thus, on days when I am frightened of the future, worried about my heart, and uncertain of the proper course of action, Woolf provides me with comfort.  Just take a moment and read the quotes above which deal with all those emotions.

My reaction to caring, breaking my routine, or strangers.
Like Clarissa, I often believe a "the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame".  In other words, on days like today, when the crazy is spilling out, tears are welling up, and my self esteem is shot to hell, my Rain Man type routines hold me in check.  God forbid the Maple Syrup come after the Pancakes and K-Mart Sucks!  More importantly, similar to Virginia, I often find myself unable to hide my heart.  Oh, don't get wrong.  Nothing is easier than masking my emotions with most of the human population.  It doesn't matter if they care about me or not.  No, for this Routine Drive, K-Mart Hating Gal, the problem comes with those who hold my heart. Listen, sure, I grasp that the issue here is, on some level, my own fault.  In terms of attachment style, for most of my adult life, Yours Truly scored as "anxious" for cognition and "avoidant" for action.  What does that mean?  Well, I'll tell you.  It MEANS that the moment I felt anything close to love or desire for another human being, romantic or otherwise, I stopped talking to that person immediately.    Its too risky.  What if that person hates me?  What if I say something stupid?  That would only increase the loathing.  What if I love that person and the feeling isn't returned?  No, no, no, better to never care about anyone than take that sort of nose dive. Confession: I still fight those emotions on a daily basis.  But with age, I learned that Life isn't worth much if I never admit I care.  Or as Virginia puts it: "Peter would think her sentimental. So she was. For she had come to feel that it was the only thing worth saying – what one felt. Cleverness was silly. One must say simply what one felt.”  Of course, being so sentimental and feeling so much is dangerous in and of itself.  Why, you ask?  Because I can't float from person to person.  For me, real Attachment is rare, but felt deeply.  And because handing off the keys to my heart is such an unlikely occurrence (just not in my nature), when it happens, I find myself terrified.  The questions and fears surround me.  There really isn't a moral to my story tonight.  What?  You're disappointed?  Well, too damn bad.  My advice is just let the crazy spill out, admit when you care, and then pray...because if You, like Me and Clarissa, have the mentally of a cat, You might be screwed.  Are people suppose to purr?  I dunno, but I do and it worries me.


My favorite love song: "I'd Love You to Want Me" by Lobo (Top of the Billboard Charts in 1972).  Yeah, I'll admit it.  "Now, it took time for me know what you tried so not show.  Something in my soul just cries.  I see the warmth in your blue eyes."

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