Monday, May 10, 2010

Arachniphobia

August 23, 1985 Friday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today, Mom and I got a free makeover from Revlon. It was kinda fun. I didn't look like a completely new person or anything but I learned a few things. Then Mom and I bought some make-up. I'm afraid we may have spent too much. I think Mom has a weak-spot for make-up. She's happy with the new stuff though. I think she wants a new look and stuff. She hasn't bought anything for herself all summer. 

We also got school supplies today. Orientation is on the 30th. I'm anxious for school to start. I've been so bored lately. I'm almost done with Lilly on Dolphins. I checked out three more books. They had textbooks on sale at Target for $2.99! I bought one called Psychology and Life. I'm paranoid. I have delusions of being someone grander than I am. I have high set goals, some of them are probably impossible but I think I realize which ones are in reach. 

I always think people are plotting against me. Sometimes I wonder if the whole world is pretending to be normal, but when I'm not around, they talk about me and how I totally don't know what's going on. I always feel like I'm being watched. Anyway, I know I'm paranoid so that means that I'm probably not. If I realize it, then how could I have it, you know what I mean? If I know it exists and I know that I have it, then there's nothing wrong because I know about it. It's the people who think that everyone is like them that have the problem. Anyway, I can't wait to read the whole thing, I hope I learn things about myself.

Well Wade Doak wrote me back (did I tell you?) Well, I wrote him back and I wrote to the girl he told me about in Minnesota. Well I gotta go. It's 1:20am. I gotta babysit tomorrow. Love you, Jennifer."

Have you ever looked through a psychology book and began to diagnose yourself? Jennifer identified with paranoia, delusions of grandeur and perfectionism. The perfectionism was real. The rest probably stemmed from the natural self-centeredness of being a teenager.

Jennifer also suffered, and continues to suffer, from shopping guilt. Shopping was always about money--money determined if it would happen or not happen. There was never a discussion of shopping without first a discussion about money. Yes, the two things are undeniably interconnected--but not all children are made continually and painfully aware of that connection. Shopping wasn't a treat, it wasn't fun, it wasn't indulgent, it wasn't spontaneous. It was an ordeal. 

Although they were a middle-class family, they usually had "no money" to shop. When they had money, the shopping was strategic--sale rack only. When they splurged, which was rare, the regret set in before she and her mom were back in the car. Shopping was pretty much a miserable experience all the way around. The only part Jennifer thoroughly enjoyed was the ritual stop at Orange Julius!

August 24, 1985 Saturday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I made $9 dollars babysitting. I also made a contract for myself. For future reference, it's a contract that says I'll be responsible, keep my room clean, stay out of trouble, eat right, do aerobics etc. It's for a year. I'm really going to try and keep it up. I want to be a good person inside and out. 

I had a dream a few weeks ago about this huge golf-ball sized black widow that wasn't poisonous, or at least, someone told me it wasn't but I knew it was. I held it in  my hand, I kept calling it Arachnida. I tried to put it in it's cage but it escaped. Later on I picked it up then someone took it off my hand but one leg stayed attached to my finger. I was too scared to pull it off and no one would do it for me. I knew it would be there till I pulled it off, but I couldn't. 

Earlier in the dream, before Arachnida, I kept having a feeling on my finger. I kept rubbing it but the feeling didn't go away. Later, the spider leg was attached to that same finger. Becky was in my dream too but she didn't seem very happy to see me. 

I tried to interpret this dream and I think it's about guilt. There is something I did that I'm sure you know about but I can't write it down. Whenever I remember it, I push it quickly out of my mind. Actually, I've done two very wrong things. Maybe the spider leg is guilt. 

Tomorrow, remind me to write about paranoia. I think I'm paranoid. I'll also write about my delusions of grandeur. OK?

I really like my new make-up. I think I look a lot better. It's funner to put on now. Well, I gotta go, it's 12:35am. The grandparents came over for dinner, we had hamburgers. Love forever, Jennifer. P.S. I'm kinda scared of real life spiders."

Jennifer begins to suffer from major guilt her sophomore year! It is related to what happened with Eric and at Whale Park. I looked up dream interpretation. Spiders are meaningful and so is poison. Poison supposedly represents something in your life causing you negativity, disruption or illness. Seeing a spider represents being overlooked by other people. It is also a dream symbol of female protective power. Jennifer was friendless, overlooked, poisoned by her experiences and also trying to protect herself from all of it.

I think it's powerful that images of her experiences would come into her head and she would push them away. She was forcibly trying to block her own memories--this is Jennifer trying to protect herself--but they keep coming back! Just like the sticky spider leg, she ignores it, it terrifies her, she knows that she is the only one with the power to remove it--but she can't face it.

Guilt and shame are major causes of pain for humans, in my opinion. So many of us carry around memories of things we have done or seen or failed to prevent. They haunt us. We don't always feel we deserve happiness. We are humble--but for the wrong reasons. Humbleness because of inadequacy or guilt is low self-esteem, not true humility. Here are some quotes regarding humility as a virtue.

"Many people believe that humility is the opposite of pride, when, in fact, it is a point of equilibrium. The opposite of pride is actually a lack of self esteem. A humble person is totally different from a person who cannot recognize and appreciate himself as part of this worlds marvels."  ---Rabino Nilton Bonder

"True humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us."  ---Tyron Edwards       

"The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient."   ---St. Augustine

Jennifer will hang onto her guilt for many, many years. She will soon begin to punish herself. Her worst years are ahead of her. She will try to atone through self-abuse but forgiveness is the only path to her own salvation. It will take a bold move from somebody to save her. Her parent's love is not enough. Nobody even knows what has happened to her! It will take a monumental display of forgiveness and sacrifice for her to see her own worth. Something so big that it is talked about for the rest of time! But that's later.....

For now, she is stuck. She strives to be perfect. She writes a contract limiting her behavior to only that which is pleasing. She shoves aside violent memories. She confides in no one, not even in her own diary. She puts on a brave face and gets ready to begin her third high school.

 Wayzata High School
Plymouth, Minnesota

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