Hortense, Part Deux


Now that I’ve managed to vent some steam, improve things with Hortense and let some of that emotion go, I want to take a closer look at how she’s been involved in my life.  I surprised her into silence this weekend.  She’s not gone.  She’s just waiting to see what I’ll do next.

Hortense is a very nervous young girl.  She scurries around, wringing her hands.  She’s very certain that nothing she ever does is good enough for anyone.  Nothing good is to be trusted.  You know that saying about every cloud having a silver lining?  Well, Hortense firmly believes that every silver lining contains a big pile of shit.  She constantly waits for the other shoe to fall.  She makes a career out of preparing for the worst case scenario.  She can see a crisis coming a mile away.  She is Chicken Little.  

If no crisis shows up, Hortense will invent one.  She thrives on chaos.  She  overreacts to any stimuli and immediately goes to the worst possible outcome of any challenge.  Oftentimes, her energy is the catalyst for creating crisis.  Self-fulfilling prophecy, much?  Her attitude is one of defeatism.  She barely endures her life, waiting for the next horrible thing to present itself.  She lives her life with a permanent, anticipatory wince on her face.  Hortense is the part of me that’s cynical.  When something sounds like a good idea, her first response is “yeah, but….”

She is utterly disconnected from joy.  She’s afraid to experience happiness, because she doesn’t think she can bear the pain of losing it.  She simply doesn’t want to be disappointed.  And she absolutely expects to be.  Every single time.  If she doesn’t expect anything good to enter her life, she doesn’t have to feel the disappointment of not getting something she really wants.   She’s afraid to want or need anything from anyone.

Her fear of disappointment overrides any logic.  It feels life threatening, this fear.  When things go well for Hortense, she’s a nervous wreck because she’s waiting for it to all turn to dust and slip through her fingers.  She speaks in absolute terms of “never” and “always.”  She allows no room in her life for things to ever, ever get better.  If she has a problem and a friend tries to offer a solution, Hortense will give them a laundry list of reasons why their idea won’t work.  And if it’s worked for other people, it won’t work for HER.  Because she is terminally unique and feels broken beyond repair.  She doesn’t believe she deserves anything good in her life.  Her shame about being such a loser is so great that she cannot fathom a life without struggle and pain. That shame envelops her like the dust surrounding that Pigpen character in the Snoopy cartoons.  Anytime a mistake is made, she is the first one to start muttering, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.” 

And whether or not she believes it, she really and truly hopes to be proven wrong.  Someday.  By someone.  Underneath all that negativity lies a tiny seed of hope.

Where does her shame come from?  Several places.  From not feeling valued as a child. From being molested by people she trusted.  From not getting the emotional support that she needed when she needed it.  She is a sad and tragic kid.  But she’s also the source of incredible strength and resilience.  She is my survivor child, resourceful and strong. 

 If I can work with her and convince her to trust me… if I can help her channel her powers toward good instead of evil, I can only imagine the way things might change.  Harness that sharp and sabotaging intellect and focus its direction onto reality-based problem solving?  That would make her a freakin super hero.  I’d even make her a cape.  She is absolutely not a risk taker.  She has kept the impulsive parts of me in check for years.  Her talent for dissecting things and analyzing them is a huge asset; it’s just a question of moderation.  It’s also important for her to learn to recognize what is and is not a reasonable fear.  Since she can look at a situation and conceive of any and all possible outcomes, she can identify possible problems and I can work with her on what  to do next. 

She’s smart as hell but doesn’t give herself credit for that.  She needs to experience some small footsteps of success in order to come out of the darkness.  She needs to be listened to and listened to and listened to.  She needs to be held and rocked and cherished.  The only way for her to shed her cynicism about unconditional love is to experience it.  From me. 

What a brave new world we’re stepping into together.

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~ by dancingwiththeshadow on May 10, 2011.

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