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More Moaning About Mom
by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I believe that generally we are bothered by things about others because those same things are inside of us. There is a hook in us on which the thing catches. We are guilty of that which we accuse the other. Every time we point our finger at someone we are pointing three fingers at ourself.

Let me then, at the start, I confess I have a hard time receiving. My pattern in relationships tends strongly towards trying to have an emotional relationship with a woman who is unavailable for emotional relationship.

Take my ex-girlfriend, R. She was an exquisite classical violinist. She wowed Yitzchak Perlman at one of his Saturday night soirees. He exclaimed "What are you doing? meaning with her career. Not very good at receiving herself, she wasn't doing anything. She replied, "I'd like to learn bowing technique from Mark O'Connor. Two days later her phone rang. "Is this R, the caller inquired. "Yes. "This is Mark O'Connor. Yitzach Perlman told me that I had to hear you play." It's like getting a call from Picasso asking to see your drawings. (Watch / listen to the video below. Start it at 5:00, if you are in a hurry.)

R.'s parents were interesting people, but bad parents. Her father had walked out on her mother, his unloving wife, when R. and her two sisters were young. R. had a morbid fear of abandonment combined with a strong tendency to abandon people herself. (That's those three fingers pointing back at you.)

R. was an interesting person. Like Yitzchak Perlman, I admired her sensitivity. (I even think a little of it rubbed off on me.) But she did poorly in intimate relationships. Over the seven years we were together I had a lot of opportunities to watch R. and her mother interact. It was minimal at best. I remember explaining to R., over and over, that her mother didn't love her and that I was family. R. insisted that her mother did love her. I retorted, "But she doesn't like you. "Well, yes, she doesn't like me, but she does love me. I couldn't get her to understand that you cannot love someone without liking them.

While I'm making pronouncements about emotional realities, let me also suggest that you cannot love someone more than you love yourself. And while I'm making confessions, let me acknowledge that while I generally have a good opinion of myself, it is only now and then that I love myself. It happened just the other day when I got back home from the hot springs. Very relaxed, I sauntered into the bathroom to hang up my still damp towel. There I looked at myself in the mirror and really liked what I saw. Usually I am pretty hard on myself, but recently I have been admiring the life I have built here: publishing is a very honorable profession; I have a girlfriend and a band of acquaintances, who are very fond of me...

But those loving moments are the exceptions. I admit that I have a hard time receiving, or at least feeling, the universe's abundance. I understand that I have been complicit in my own victimization. It takes two to tango. While I am pointing a finger at R, I acknowledge the three pointing back at me. /

I've certainly had no trouble finding women who are unavailable for emotional relation. Like R they are embarrassed by my outpouring of attention and care. To be fair, it may only because they were rejecting my love that I was so free in offering it.

"I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member." - Woody Allen

The Pareto Distribution observes that in any situation 20% of the people wind up doing 80% of the work. (Those who believe that hierarchies and inequality are indications of injustice have a hard time with this one.) For example, 20% of the professors in any university publish 80% of the articles. This is in accord with the dictum that there aren't that many good dentists or accountants or what-have-you. To that list I would add mothers. Just 20% of mothers are good mothers? Sounds like a plausible statistic to me, maybe even a little high.

More than once in my life Italian men have reacted to my spaghetti sauce with fear. On taking their first bite they've looked very uncomfortable, guilty, as if they expected heaven's wrath to descend upon them like a bolt of lightening. The thing is that my red sauce was better than their grandmother's. While their mind rebelled against it and their heart wanted to deny it, their taste buds insisted that it was so.

This is like R. being unable to receive affection that surpassed her mother's meager fare. Ridiculous as it sounds coming from a sixty-something, I blame my difficulty receiving on the poor mothering I received. (Not that I'm letting Dad entirely off the hook.) After all, mother is the archetype of sustenance. Still, growing up is about freeing yourself from your parents' limitations. Dad once told me, "How can I tell you what to do? Go make your own mistakes.

The good news is that despite the emotional austerity imposed on us by bad mothering, the universe itself is abundant. The real good news is that I had a dream the other night in which a voice declared, "Your mother is not your mother and you have a half brother. I'm getting to know this "half brother, the other, more loving, half of myself. Meanwhile, my world and my spaghetti sauce keep getting better.

All this reminds me of a joke:

Three Jewish mothers are sitting on the bench in Miami Beach. One boasts, "My son is so wonderful. He bought me a new Jaguar convertible. The other two ooh and ah. The second brags, "My son is so good to me, he bought me a new condominium. More oohs and ahs. The third crows, "My son goes to the most expensive psychiatrist in New York City and all he talks about is me.


Dr David is looking for authors to contribute to San Miguel Sunday. He is also looking for people who want to add more meaning to their lives. See his new website below.

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