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Bullies and the Abandoned Child

Dr David, Editor / Publisher

A bully doesn't feel strong. At least he doesn't feel his strength in a long or deep way. He constantly has to prove it, to others, but mostly to himself. Take, for instance, the President of the United States.

Now I really don't keep up with the muckraking or tweets. And putting politics aside (please), there is one recently repeated incident that bothers me a lot. It's the way President Trump ridicules Arnold Schwarzenegger for not getting as good ratings when he took over The Apprentice.

I mean, you won. You're the President of the United States. If being the most powerful person in the world doesn't pump you up, nothing will. "Most powerful" is most powerful. There ain't no more. Try to be gracious.

Then, there are other ways of not feeling your success. I should know. Deprived of attention as a child, I came to feel that I was not worthy of it. Early on parents are god-like, so the fault must have been mine, no?.

The first adult I remember paying attention to me was my second grade teacher Mrs Rosemarin. We were studying Roman numerals and I went above and beyond the class assignment. I remember staying after school and being brought by Mrs Rosmarin to see my mother's youngest sister, who taught the other second grade class in the room next door. Mrs Rosmarin proudly presented my work to my aunt. My aunt was unimpressed.

Many years later this same aunt came to visit my 90 year old mother advising me, or maybe just speaking to herself, as the three of us were sitting around the table, "She's just like Mumma," their mother. My mother, refusing to wear her hearing aid, "The toilet flushing is so loud," was not privy to this comparison. Nor, I'm guessing, did my aunt wonder how the likeness might have applied to her own self.

Philosopher George Santayana said it best, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Call it karma. Call it neurosis. Before you can forgive, before you can come to terms, you have to remember. And in such matters that is difficult, because remembering such things is painful. The repressed is repressed for a reason.

So, before my better acquaintance with my personal history, I was, for many long years, doomed to repeat it. I still am acting it out, but less and less as I remember more and more.

All those awkwardnesses, little and big, are clues. Those self-defeating habits are hints. Those frustrating experiences that keep recurring in various guises are things about which we ought to be curious. That, re-membering of our dis-membered experience (along with Classical Homeopathy) was the mainstay of my practice with my patients; putting our broken understanding back together. It was also the mainstay of my self-therapy. (Anyone with any interest can read a section or two of the ook I wrote about it, The Poetry of Disease.)

According to a little volume that was on my coffee table for years, Vincent van Gogh wrote, "So, I have a horror of success." I wrote, "We are not afraid of failure. We are very familiar with failure. It makes us uncomfortable, but not afraid. Ours is not a fear of failure, but a fear of success."

I've been confronting my fear of success since I learned to crawl, even before. For me the cup is neither half full nor half empty. I ask, is the cup 90% full or 10% empty? I take it up to 95% versus 5%; sometimes even 99% full or 1% empty.

Still, I've gotten better at not putting my powerlessness front and center. I tell patients, "You have to do your poverty, but don't do it in your bank account." I have a special platform, a room in the back of the house, so to speak, where I interact with my negativity. Usually I can coax it back to its room when company is present. I further advise, "If you want your dis-ease to be less hostile and obnoxious to you, try being less hostile and obnoxious to it." The more attention I've paid my insecurity, the less it demands when I'm needing to feel strong. (See my The Poetry of Disease.)

This is a particularly good arrangement right now, because, gracias a dios, further success is approaching: this magazine has taken off; our digital map project here in SMA is rapidly gaining momentum and atttracting volunteers (please use the email below to get more information); I've hired another programmer (programming was the weak link in our chain) for our Lokkal Digital Town Square project (replicating soon in other cities; first we take Queretaro, then we take the world); I've hired another person to manage the map project; recently I've given my right-hand man more authority (we're both loving it); even my personal relationships are advancing leaps and bounds. Not bad for an emotionally abandoned child, eh?

The title of Pema Chodron's book, The Places that Scare You, says it all. As does the African proverb, No enemies within: "If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm." We have to respect ourselves, including, and most particularly, those parts of us that seem shameful. Only by coming to terms with our own insecurity can we stop acting it out in the world and projecting it out onto others.

Power is a slippery fish. I used to be the poster child for trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it. The current US administration, regardless of your politics, shows us that there's not enough power in the world to make a bully feel confident. I rest my case.

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photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr. David welcomes you to San Miguel Sunday. Anyone with any interest in contributing articles is heartily encouraged to contact him at the email below. The "Best City in the World" deserves a good Lokkal magazine.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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