Inside the Watchwork


I'm unsure what to think of the near total silence regarding my last two posts (aside from the handful of wonder comments I did receive). Either that means I was really, really wrong, or I hit the mark squarely. Either way, it's given me a great deal to think about.

First of all, I am not trying to make excuses for my mother's behavior. What she had done was A Not Good Thing. What I am trying to do is to frame her behavior, to put it in context and understand the totality of what happened. You could blame this on my engineering tendencies -- the need to know how the system works. I often find that I need to do the same with people. I try to step into their shoes, to understand their motivations, their thought process, and their damage. I want to understand why.

I could sit back and turn her into a caricature of herself, complete with shiny red skin and horns. But what good would that do? If someone does a horrific thing, and we start to call them evil, we are only applying labels and dehumanizing their motives in an attempt to separate ourselves from those very some drives that lurk within us all. 

I call this my "fundamental theory of humanity": We are all angels and devils equally. It's only opportunity and circumstance. Given the right opportunities and circumstances each one of us could be a Mother Theresa, or each of us a Joseph Goebbels. We resist this idea instinctively, as we don't want to -- or are afraid to -- recognize this capacity within us all.

By understanding my Mother's motivations, I understand myself better. I can see more of the gears, and choose to oil or jam them as I see fit. No, this doesn't work for everyone. I don't even expect this to make much sense.  It's a quirk of my own brain and how I prefer to deal with emotional or stressful problems. 

The primary question I want to answer is why. Why me? For years I had assumed that it was something intrinsic about myself that prompted this behavior. That I was "just bad" or "deserved" such maltreatment. Sometimes I blamed it on being trans, and tried to forcibly rip that part out from the whole. Today it's still difficult for me to not think myself of inferior or worthless because of this attitude. Increasingly, however, I've been able to identify when I'm running the "script", and short-circuit my own behavior. Mom didn't have those tools available to her. She was left unable to anything about it other than lash out -- play her own script mindlessly. And therein lies the answer; opportunity and circumstance created in her a script she had passed on to me. No reason. No purpose. No justification.

We really are just meat machines, aren't we?