This very tragic, long and sad Blog entry is inspired by the book Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Dr. Harville Hendrix. This book revealed itself to me on my bookshelf and has to be delivered to the mother of my third child who moved out of my flat quite some time ago. So let’s be quick:
The Concept of “Original Wholeness”
Dr. Hendrix writes about his daughter having the characteristics of what he calls “original wholeness”:
When all her physical needs were taken care of, she would nestle into our arms and look around her with the contentment of Buddha. Like all babies she had no awareness of herself as a separate being and no internal divisions between thoughts, feelings, and actions. To my eyes, she was experiencing a primitive spirituality, a universe without boundaries.
Before this wonderful description, he introduces the technical term “autistic period” when “the baby makes no distinction between itself and the rest of the world.” Now, with these two items laid down into the rasx() context, let’s add that the great “arms race” in the Old Kingdom of Africa was to never abandon this “primitive spirituality” yet simultaneously develop a distinction between the self and “the rest of the world” governed by eternal, divine laws of natural science. These two “contradictions” sound just like the polyrhythmic music that is Old Africa. It is bizarre, beyond the imagination of most New-World, science-fiction writers to imagine an entire nation sincerely devoted to raising healthy, whole children such that even the “adult words” in the language are easy for a child to say and carry for the rest of her life.
It is utterly ridiculous to try to “convince” a kid from a broken, Western home that there existed a people who built gigantic monuments for the education of future children of their family. Surely the pyramids were built by slave-driving egomaniacs because “our Greek heritage” sees utopia as unachievable (since it is clearly unachievable by Greeks). You can stop a conversation and quickly run to the edges of the flat-earth map for the self-described-but-European-trained “African feminist” who is simply unable to imagine matriarchy on this scale. A nation where all the male leaders are chosen by women—not depressed, insecure, bitter women but wise, powerful, whole women—a Queen mother not from England? You probably can’t do it. “Primitive spirituality” is for babies. So let’s crack a few jokes and forget about it.
A Nation of Wounded Children Seeking Salvation
Dr. Harville Hendrix is certainly a well-respected, properly assimilated, citizen of the United States. Certainly my words are “distorting” his message when they tell you that the message of Dr. Harville Hendrix is that “we” are a nation of wounded children seeking salvation. Certainly my words are going “too far” when they say it was a former slave trader not a divine prophet of Old that wrote “Amazing grace; how sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me.” And my words are really, really out of bounds when they say that it is an abomination to see a self-described, Black woman singing this song and calling herself a “wretch.” What is the womanhood of a warlike people? What is the motherhood of a warlike people? We all know what the “manhood” of a warlike people is… anyway, this is what Dr. Harville Hendrix writes on page 208 of the copy of his book that belongs to the mother of my third child—my third child who is my first daughter:
We look into the past for evidence of how we were denied adequate nurturing and how we repressed essential parts of our being. We do this through therapy, prayer, and reflection, and by becoming more astute observers of everyday events. As we gather new insights, we share them with our partners, because we no longer assume they can read our minds. When our partners share their thoughts and feelings with us, we listen with understanding and compassion, knowing that this sharing is a sacred trust. Gradually we start to “reimage” our partners, to see them as they really are—wounded children seeking salvation.
Certainly there is no distortion by me of Dr. Harville Hendrix’s message when I say on his behalf that when “we look into the past for evidence of how we were denied adequate nurturing,” Black people are not ‘allowed’ to bring up slavery and the history of how Europe got rich (materialistically)—because it “distracts us” away from the “real” issues that must be individualistic and never involving more than two people. After all, this is a book about couples—this is not a book about the heart and soul of Western civilization. Right?
Inappropriate Behavior for “The Sacred Trust”
Dr. Harville Hendrix, his book, helps me. When I read the line, “When our partners share their thoughts and feelings with us, we listen with understanding and compassion, knowing that this sharing is a sacred trust,” I can immediately say that my intimate, communal relationships with women that involve the birth of children degrade into non-intimate, non-communal relations because the other partner can no longer withstand what they surely would call my inappropriate behavior for the “sacred trust” Dr. Harville Hendrix writes about… For example, this Blog post that you are reading right now can be regarded as inappropriate behavior for “the sacred trust.”
Using the vocabulary words of Dr. Harville Hendrix, it renders clear that all of my former ‘wives’ are isolators (now I do not consider myself a fuser—but all my talk about ‘Old Kingdom’ Africa may lead you to conclude that, as my father says, “I’m not in touch with reality.”). In fact, the mother of my third child took the time run a green highlighter marker over this passage on page 128 describing the survival design of the isolator:
They discovered early in life that one way to maintain a feeling of autonomy around their intrusive parents was to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves. When they deprived their parents of this valuable information, their parents were less able to invade their space.
One of the reasons why I wrote “Sweet Honey in the Rock Woman” in my twenties was to address this model of survival. In fact, there is a whole body of ‘blues poetry’ yet to be released on kintespace.com that goes into this matter… years of work… What does Africa have to do with this? Well, the poetry tells you in detail so in this Blog post let’s just say that the style of intrusiveness of parents with strong African features resembles the intrusiveness of the classic American slave master—and the classic American slave master has a ‘great deal’ to do with Africa. There is good money in savages.
What is interesting is that I’m almost certain that Dr. Harville Hendrix consistently portrays isolators as male while my life is full of these female isolators. Now, my maturity and years of “astute observation” of everyday events tells me that it is my fault—my design, my will, my inheritance—to seek out these isolator women. It was my deep desire to play the savior for these isolators. My theoretical reward was to enter unto a ‘pure’ female child (sweet honey) held in the isolators shell (the rock) so that my inner child could commune with her. In effect, she would have ‘saved herself for me’ inside the rock. Hah! This is a weird-ass, neat-freaky, macho-man way to sneak into some abstract form of virginity. And it never occurred to me how deformed and stunted this sheltered child could be. These are some of the highlights of my findings (spread across these three mothers of my children in a weak-ass effort to protect their individual identities) produced by this honey seeking:
- I failed to understand that my plan to rescue these women is deeply flawed. My plan is based on appealing to the instincts that any child has. All I have to do is perform in front of you—and my performance would be so appealing that you will be inspired by me and keep what you need for yourself. This ignorant simplicity did not take into account that most of these isolator adults have long lost their natural, healthy child instincts and my ‘performing’ (intentional modeling) is something that is ignored entirely or is actually quite annoying. I have been accused more than once with the words, “Bryan is just a show off!” Study the lives of famous American rock musicians and you will find more than one of them performing songs for their girlfriends and boyfriends in a sincere effort to get their attention. Study their biographies and you will find that this technique almost never works on the intended victim—but it is quite useful for third-party observers. This is why this Blog post exists—for your benefit whoever you are. Ain’t I so great!
- I failed to see that what Dr. Hendrix describes above as a “feeling of autonomy” can be expressed by such pop buzz words as a woman’s “struggle for identity.” I failed to respect what these women were actually telling me when they feel they are not being heard—that these feelings predate me—that these feelings were laid in place in their childhood. I mistook these deep Black family feelings for a relatively superficial, pop-cultural political issue in the realm of “woman’s rights.” Listening to a few Bryan Wilhite lectures on my views about African matriarchy was not going to make their “struggle for identity” easier.
- I failed to understand that my openness contrasted with their closedness would be seen by them as profoundly stupid. “Stupid” because they see their complex isolation system as “intelligent”—after all, they are “protecting their privacy.” They are proud of their “skill”—after all, it is a survival skill. It follows that they condescend to me in a matter eerily similar to a racist white liberal who “loves” Black people—you know: some of her “best friends” are Black men—but it does not take long to discover that these “friends” are not to be fully trusted—and they should “appreciate” that they are being recognized at all. In fact, the hard-rock woman “deserves” praise and accolades for her “outreach” efforts to the “less privileged.”
- I failed to respect the basic statistics measuring time: an isolator spends most of their time isolating. They by default reserve little time for genuine, non-hierarchical sharing. It follows that their ‘sharing muscle’ is very weak and unreliable. This is why most of these hard-rock women are erroneously called “bitches”—because they seem so cruel instead of literally retarded in the context of intimacy, the organization of a team effort among equals and in the realm of upholding justice. There is a certain “special” way we are supposed to treat a “mentally challenged” person—even when you let them get close enough to shit on you. We’ve all seen slow-motion Special Olympics footage on television—a lot of people define this high-energy, self-exploitative but supportive behavior as “unconditional love”—the only kind of “unconditional love” there is… My failure to put on the kid gloves of self-exploitative, “unconditional love” makes me the bitch. Hence, my aforementioned inappropriate behavior for “the sacred trust.” I failed to understand that the only people that can supply this “unconditional love” are the parents and other formative childhood authorities of this isolator woman—Dr. Hendrix would disagree with my failure and certainly recommends the regimen of his practice.
- I failed to really understand the implications of having to prove to the mother of your children that you actually care for your children. The isolator mother’s hard shell is very cramped and is only filled with three—two—usually one way to present this “proof.” When you fail to discover what this proof is, you are forever held suspect (and you have to discover what this is because they are not going to tell you—as Dr. Hendrix suggests, you have to ‘read their minds’). And after a few years, the tragic, sad irony is that when they finally see that you care deeply they are reminded again of the father figure they never had and can be even more depressed and crammed into their shell. And, of course, at the expense of our children, my person has taken steps to distance myself from a mother so profoundly distrustful and resentful—because there is no need to “reconcile” a relationship with a person that is by definition based on inequality in view of the retardation statistics mentioned above…
- One isolator actually sees my inner child and they do realize that it is actually very well cared for and very well nourished, relatively speaking (thanks, Mom). In the context of classical, modern, and post-modern racism, the ability of others to see what my parents provided for me is an achievement that is no longer taken for granted by me. However, there is failure because my inner child is compared competitively to their fucked up inner child and this competition becomes a continual, unbearable reminder that they were fucked up by their “intrusive parents” (usually actively by their mother and passively by their father). And when my bitchy ‘savior mission’ becomes clear to them, that I am trying to ‘save’ them—because I am unable to save my mother who took such great care of me (relatively speaking—but she does not care for herself the same way)—, my daring and presumptuousness gots to go, baby!
So my child asks, “Where’s Daddy?”
Oh, he’s out there not breaking the cycle…
Spending My Inheritance and Curing My Missionary Disease
The deep meaning, the livingness of the word “playboy” renders clear to me as the male who can play with a woman such that she can forget about her wounded inner child. The man with this skill is respected more than a bitchy man like me. It is so clear to me now why this character is vitally important in American culture. My person is all about the hard work of facing our fucked-up self. American culture is about the playboy and the girls who want to be him.
What Dr. Harville Hendrix does not address, of course, is that the work of changing ourselves and facing ourselves in an African context is far, far more difficult than the job for people who consider themselves properly assimilated American couples with “consumer confidence” and a few more administrative tasks to do. (The classic, American, suburban, nuclear family structure can be an isolator’s dream—an empty house with uneaten children’s food left on the dining room table.)
It may seem alien to Dr. Harville Hendrix to realize that a woman may effectively refuse to participate in his or any other effective self-help program because it would break her mother’s heart. So forget about me trying to ‘save’ my mother indirectly and symbolically. That’s a goddamn luxury for an old momma’s boy like me. One or more of my isolator women must ‘save’ her mother directly and literally… One of my isolator mothers is probably still paying her (divorced) mother’s mortgage right now… This mother-daughter enmeshment is deep—and I was a son-of-a-bitch for trying to fuck with it… Such is the depths of my disrespect and ignorance. I can only hope the hope of the captive that my inheritance is spent and that my blindness is cured.
This note is for all debts public and private. Paid in full.