Monday, September 27, 2004

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa is Latin for blank slate. One of those crazy 18th century Brits—I think it was John Locke—proposed that every person is born with a blank mind that society fills with knowledge and disease. Any ills that manifest themselves in a person's mind are evidence of some social wrong inflicted on them at some point or another. It's the ultimate nurture over nature hypothesis.

I'm typically not one for nurture hypotheses because somehow dicussions of Freud infect what might be a valuable exercise. Personally, I think Freud was a child-molester; he made up all this crap about Oedipus cycles to justify his sexualization of children. Sometimes, parents and kids just don't get along and it has everything to do with a breakdown of effective comminication and nothing to do with anyone's unconscious desires.

I've been thinking about this stuff because I've been sifting through my old journals trying to detect any mood patterns I can within their pages. Unfortunately, I wasn't a stickler about writing frequently, so they aren't as useful as they could have been. But, I can tell you that they've churned up a lot of dirt better left settled.

For example, check out this entry:

May 31, 1998

“What a terrible day! I don’t think it could get much worse.

As we were leaving for church, (my mom) started rushing us, as if that would accomplish anything. I told her to calm down which prodded her to depart on an angry speech about what a terrible child I am, delivered with a smack (quite literally). Then we went to church. Upon our return, Mom bid me to sit and as a trained dog, I obeyed. She then proceeded to deliver a teary eyed speech about how much she does for me and how I need to appreciate and respect her more. It upset me to see her cry, but I detached myself and hoped her speech would end soon.

Then Dad took me on a car ride and proceeded to attack my character which pissed me off because I barely even have one. He described me as mean, malicious, cruel and ungrateful. Oh yeah! And self-absorbed, selfish etc. He babbled on about how he (being perfect) never disrespected his mother and how his mother never disrespected her mother even though his mom had to package bottles for 23 cents an hour.

Then, he took me to a cemetery and we found mom’s mom’s grave. He told me that that is how I would end up, a body in a cemetery without anyone who loved me. What a terrible thing to say! I just sat there quietly and hoped that we would return home soon and here we are.”

I was talking with my Mom the other day about my junior year in high school because we were at each other's throats all the time. She was having problems with her seasonal depression and taking them out on me. I was just as depressed and unhappy and taking it out on her. My Dad was confused and eventually sided with my mom to try to bring me back into line to restore some semblance of peace at home.

My Mom told me that she and my Dad were at their wit's end and didn't know what to do with me. That's the first time that she noticed that something was definately wrong with me.

May 31, 1998. Two weeks before my 16th birthday. Sophomore year of highschool. Guess these things started earlier than she thought.

I feel a lot for my parents when I read my journals because I know that they are good people and that they were completely baffled by my behavior. I feel a lot for myself too, because I was so alone and every time my parents and I would fight and I'd hear that I was a malicious person, or a cruel person, or a stupid blonde, or selfish bitch, a part of me sat there and nodded along.

Knowing what they know now, I know my parents would have acted differently back then.

But it's still so sad that I have these memories. If my parents were assholes, I could just hate them and reading my journal would justify that hate. But I love my parents very much and reading my journal is painful because it's like watching a car wreck where both drivers are at fault and everyone gets hurt.