This will be my last wu on E2. It’s been fun and frustrating. I never considered myself a writer of any sorts (and I’m still don’t), but I was able to play at expressing myself for the very first time here, and for that I am extremely grateful. It was quite an ego boost to have some of my writings cooled.
I am doing this for both selfish and unselfish reasons. Simply, my logging on here has become something of an issue of privacy as L. gave me her user name before she considered the eventual ramifications of allowing me access to her innermost thoughts. I am not happy about this, but I love and care more about L.—my sometimes girlfriend, always friend-- than having a forum for my less than original mental doodles.
So, in this, my last wu, I would like to share some ramblings on a concept in psychiatry and traumatology called the repetition compulsion.
I shall try and describe this simply without indulging in too much psychobabble. The essence of the repetition compulsion is the unconscious compulsion to reenact over and over painful, traumatic incidents in our lives. Freud first coined the term before he completely abandoned his “seduction theory” (i.e., the idea that psychological trauma—esp. incest—was behind the formation of hysteria in both men and women). He thought, optimistically, that individuals sought to repeat elements of their original trauma in an attempt to master the emotions and outcomes of the trauma.
For example, the late comedienne Lucille Ball, was often chained to a tree as a child by her mother so that she would not wander away when the mother left her to seek work. Lucille Ball’s attempt to work through and “fix” this traumatic neglect can be seen in her creating a fairy tale sitcom family in which the wife is never abandoned by her famous, handsome, financially secure, exotic husband despite all her obvious flaws and struggles to have a life of her own (I Love Lucy). In her real, off-screen life, the compulsion played itself out tragically in her marriage to Desi Arnez—who kept her chained to her family’s public persona while he went off to have affair after affair.
In my own case, the most painful and unresolved situations in my life included, being tied to a tree at the age of five by peers, being pushed down cement steps onto my face in grade school for no reason whatsoever by peers (unbreakable), having emotionally neglectful and shut-down parents, and being an isolated social pariah during most of my childhood and adolescence.
In my case, my “repetition compulsion” took the form of interacting with neglectful and untrustworthy acquaintances and lovers who were not available until I was finally betrayed and neglected.
The most frustrating thing about these compulsions is that the relationships and situations that are least like our trauma are the most frightening because they offer what appears (at the time) to be false hope.
My relationship with L. was (and is) the first romantic relationship that did not fit my script. Her guileless honesty and love felt to me like the sun coming out after a week of cold, rainy English weather. Pushing her way past my deepest fears, I felt her love forcing open the creaky doors of my heart.
Eventually, her own hidden compulsions created a momentary crisis during which I believed that I was (finally!) being rejected—on schedule. And I turned/ran away.
That was over ten years ago. What happened in those years can’t be repeated here in the time remaining to me. Needless to say, we “found” each other again. We learned some time ago what neither of us knew at that time--that the crisis that initiated my running away was the result of her MPD/DID.
And so now, as she reintegrates, she feels as though she is fighting for her sanity, her very life, as she sorts through box after box of pain, betrayal and mistrust. And being a survivor of incest, rape, parental indifference and abuse—I know if she doesn’t—that she waits for the inevitable day when she finally lets down her guard and I take advantage of her love for and trust in me and rip her heart out by crushing the little green shoot of trust tentatively lifting its head from under a large rock.
As a Buddhist, I painfully experience the essence of spirituality and salvation as rediscovering and repossessing the love within us that is the essence of being human and which causes us so much pain and disappointment. L., you were the catalyst for that discovery. You will find your way. Own and trust your love. No one can take it from you. You are beautiful. As long as you want it, I will always be by your side.