night/morning therapies #29 & 30: deprogramming from the cult of negativity

I’m always grabbing badges like this, putting them on my blog, or intending to. Do I believe them? In honesty, no, not for me. Others, yes. They find peace or love. They overcome their traumas and become examples for others. They discover they are artists, or writers or photographers. They go out their front door. They leave bad marriages/relationships and find someone who loves them. This is all wonderful. I am happy for those people. And jealous. And judge my failure to act against their ability to do so. My cowardice against their bravery.

I messaged a friend the other day that I had been rescued from a cult of negativity, and was still being deprogrammed. This may take some time; I’m probably one of the toughest cases the deprogrammers have come up against. Dreaming and hoping gets me gut-kicked. Negativity is my shelter, my safety zone.

Do wish I could dream of butterflies, but the consequences of such “flights of hope and fancy” are usually a “crash and burn,” not soar, float and fly freely. But I still take the images. People keep telling me somewhere inside is hope; maybe that’s why I collect these. A hope I dare not acknowledge for fear of what might happen if I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Blake wrote:

Every Night and every Morn

Some to Misery are Born.

Every Morn and every Night

Some are Born to sweet delight.

Some are Born to sweet delight,

Some are Born to Endless Night

“Wednesday’s child is full of woe” as the old rhyme goes, and I’m a Wednesday’s child.

CPG: our fingers stained with ink and yellow dye

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Oh Charlotte

our fingers stained

with ink and yellow dye

our psyches scarred

our life hopeless

we hid in closets

to protect what was left

of our sanity

you bloomed

wrote your way past

locked rooms and endless hours

but not before you ripped out

nails bloody, tearing down

the yellow wall paper

to save yourself

I sat on the bed

still, inactive

watching as you

freed yourself inch by inch

I look at the woman you became

feminist, author, activist, journalist

but why you are remembered most is

for our story, our peril, our sanity

glad you saved yourself, dear Charlotte

Oh, but if you could have saved me, too.

 

As a result of post-partum depression, in 1886, Charlotte Perkins Stetson was sent for a “resting cure,” a period of total inactivity. It’s proponent, Dr. Mitchell, felt women’s depression was caused by too much mental activity, and thus a period of complete “rest” would rebalance the mind. In the case of Gilman, and the narrator of her phenomenal short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the women become much more unstable due to forced isolation and non-stimulation. Gilman, once removed from the rest cure program improves, and writing her horrors helps, but never removes all the scars. Despite this, Gilman (she leaves her husband and child, and eventually remarries) goes on to be an activist, author, and publisher.

Reading “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the first time in my early 20s, literarily blew me away. Then, I had no idea or intention to teach just such issues faced by women in the 19th century. But I wanted to write. To be so exquisite as Charlotte. To be able to fashion with such skill, a story that takes place through the narrator’s journal/voice as she slowly goes insane in a room with yellow wallpaper. 

After my own breakdown, I was drawn to it again. The narrator’s journal, albeit a 19th century one, so carefully describes the descent into madness with familiar detail. No yellow wallpaper, but walls that closed around me. A sense of real or not real; revelations that didn’t always free me. Not then. I no longer teach about women in the nineteenth century, nor study the intersect of society, women, and religion in that time period, but I still want to be an authentic writer, to write my “Yellow Wallpaper.”

Since I helped with the prompt (ssshhhh) and Friday soirees are pretty loose and easy, some poetry, some fact, some lecture. But if you haven’t read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, you must. It might test your sanity, and you will never see a bedroom, especially one with wallpaper, the same way again. Once you know what lurks there and in the human mind.

For Friday Music Prompt #52: Virginia Woolf (Indigo Girls)