(Part 1 here
, Part 2 here
For some reason these two programs got me to thinking about myself; in particular about the person I was as a child and the person I am now and the role stress has played in my own life. While I didn't have the worst childhood, what I remember most is a lot of upheaval and stress; my parents' fighting and eventual split when I was 4 and my little brother was 2. This was followed by my mother sorting out how to go about being a single mother to two very small children in a town where she knew few people and in a country where she had almost no relatives. Sorting out childcare solutions was really a strain on us all, though I'm sure she tried to alleviate the stress as much as possible. Because of finances, we simply couldn't do much better than being carted from one person's house to next (usually also another single mother, often a welfare receipient looking for a couple extra bucks). I remember feeling stressed every morning when we had to wake up to be shuffled off to childcare so my mom could make the early shift at the hospital. I remember waiting every afternoon for her to pick us up from afternoon daycare; waiting around for my Dad to pick us up from the hospital for his custody weekends; and COUNTLESS OTHER ANNOYING (not always transport-related) stress-inducing scenarios. I don't remember thinking as a child that this was "all for a reason", but I do recall feeling frustrated a lot, particularly when I wasn't a "natural" at something I wanted to do. The hope was always that I would emerge as a gifted bowler or singer or juggler or gymnast or something that would not only elevate me from my humdrum urban working class/ rural middle class (oh yes, we social climbed a bit) existence, but would also redeem all the stress and suffering I'd gone through. All those days of rising at the crack of dawn, choking down reconsituted government issue dry milk and No Frills Corn Flakes, and dashing out the door to get to the early morning sitter's house only to watch that lady's kids awake and go through the same ritual (except they had glorious food stamp purchased Name Brand Cereal), YES!, it was ALL WORTH IT. It was ALL LEADING TO THIS! This moment when my face would grace the Star Search championship stage/ the Olympics gymnastics finals/ NBC Today with Bryan Gumbel YES! This was where that windy tumultuous road was leading ALL ALONG! While I never expressly said it, I think I thought it...and often. So imagine my dismay 26 years in to life when none of it has materialised...
As anyone who reads this blog with any regularity will note, I have a slight (alright maybe bigger than slight) problem with anger and frustration. This problem has persisted from childhood and has gone mostly unaddressed in my adult life (no offense to Tom Cruise and The Church. Hey, you guys tried). However I failed to connect the stress of my childhood to the stresses of my current day to day life until just last night as I was watching this pop psychology science program on channel 13. I am sitting here waving all my past disappointments in the air like Charlie's Golden Ticket waiting to redeem them for whatever glory is coming my way, but that is not THE WAY IT WORKS. I already knew that because I listened to that Zizek lecture
where he talked about the Biblical story of Job
and Anne Frank and resisting hermeneutics
and reclaiming belief. But for some reason I FAILED TO CONNECT THE DOTS and apply this to myself. So I am disgruntled but rather than simply being hopeful, I have hope and belief covered in the sticky filmy goo of thinking that whatever stress and pain I have gone through and will go through means something IN THE BIG PICTURE-- in the world elaborate system of punishment and reward. Sometimes these things mean something and sometimes they don't, but it is not my job to read into them but to read them and address them at their face.
So I am sitting here having this revelation about my childhood and stress and hermeneutics, but WAIT! what of LOVE? What can this all mean for me and love and relationships? Yikes! I'm shuddering as I approach these thoughts. I always used to say that I never fantasized much about being in the start of a relationship, rather I spent my time dreaming about what it'd be like to be in the middle of it; past the awkward phone calls (or texts as it is now), hang a left past the excessive politeness, and drive straight into the comfortable part where the person is familiar, is family. I always assumed that this would mean that I'd aced the hard part, the early elimination phase (Judges? Four Stars! All Around!), and I was a PRO! A pro at the love/relationship stuff that everyone else tore their hair out about. My redemption at last- HUZZAH! But alas that has not been the case, and now that I think of it, I am glad of it. I am glad for this time where Grown Up Me can look at Five Year Old Me and say "I know times were tough and it sucked. Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily mean the rest will be a walk in the park. But with a little faith and a little hard work maybe something will pan out for you yet, but you have to have the courage to make it happen and the resolve to carry on when it doesn't." So this was my television induced revelation (Take that you book reading, Scrabble-playing, quality time with the family Luddites!). There are other things I could say, other songs I could sing. I could shake my fist and sob into my palms and unveil some sweeping analysis about how race and class inform stress responses, but I will save that for another time,another TV show. For now, I think this will do fine as the Valentine's Day episode for this season. I hope so.