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:
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.
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?
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:
Oh, he’s out there not breaking the cycle…
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.