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Stress, Pressure, Nature, Love, Self-Harm


I am going to try to recreate something that happened this morning.

I was laying in bed thinking. Laura was awake. I asked her what she was thinking about. She said her family. To me this means she is thinking about leaving me and going back to Peru. This pains me to hear. It pains me so much that I can't listen to her talk about it anymore. I can listen to lots of people talk about lots of things. But it just pains me too much to listen to her talk about her family, missing her mother, going back to Peru etc.

My whole body reacts. But I don't know what to do with the reaction.

My first thought was "What family?" To me, what she calls a family, isn't a family. There is no father. There is no sister. The sole brother physically and emotionally abused her. They hardly speak when she is in the house. The mother physically and emotionally abused her. Contaminated her mind with negative, self-destructive thoughts. Killed much of her beauty and peacefulness. Laura is what we could call a flower child. But the mother is something like weed killer.

Anyhow, I will try to remember what happened next. I took some notes after the fact, but I am sure they are not precise. Not as much as I would like them to be. I wish I could have been filming the whole thing and recording all my thoughts, every word we both spoke and every move we both made. I want to learn and teach. I feel frustrated when I can't remember things. But I don't want to beat myself up about it. That won't help. I've done it too much in the past and I have been beaten up psychologically too many times by my brother, mother and others. I think of Jen in the UK who beats herself up. Punishes herself and things she deserves it. I know she doesn't but I can't cleanse her mind from a thousand miles away and with only a few minutes a day.

But to continue...

I was able to tell Laura a little about what I was thinking and feeling. I told her it hurt me to hear her talk about her family. I told her it was hard not to say judgmental things about them and about Peru. I wanted to tell her that I was thinking judgmental things about her too, but I was afraid to.

Recently I have been more aware of the pressure which builds up when I am not free to express myself. I started feeling this pressure. My head started to hurt. Especially in the back, just above my neck. I want to reach inside and take out whatever is causing the pressure. But I can't get in. This frustrates me. Lately I have been wanting to open up my head to clean things up and let things out. There have been a couple days this week which I have felt tremendous pressure in my head. Once I chatted with someone who was a good listener and the pressure left. Another time I was hitting my head with the palms of my hands to try to shake up the concentration of the chemicals. Then I laid down and slept.

I still feel the pressure. It's not intense. But it's there. I wish we had meters to see the pressure level. We have that for tires, but not for our brains. I wish other people could also see what our pressure level was, or how full our mind was of thoughts so they wouldn't interrupt us with a question like "What time is it?" when we can't handle one more input, request or demand.

Well, back to the story of this morning.

When I told Laura how I was feeling and a little of what I was thinking, I didn't get much of a response from her. I then realized I didn't feel understood. I didn't feel reassured that she wasn't going to leave me. This added to the pain and pressure. I had been hugging her but then I pulled away from her. Then a few seconds later she turned her back on me. This hurt even more.

The pressure and pain was building and building. I started feeling violent and destructive. I thought of strangling her, hitting her. Pounding on her to take out my frustrations. But obviously I couldn't do that. So I thought of hitting the wall with my fist. I wanted to punch a hole in it. I thought of how I used to be free to hit card board boxes. But now I am afraid of her reaction. I don't want her to be afraid of me. She feels afraid when I start to feel violent and destructive. I don't think I would ever hit her. I have never been violent in that way. But the feelings are so strong that it scares other people who don't know that I won't hit them. I threw a pillow at Laura the other day when she told me to stop crying. And I was pounding on the bed. That scared her. She even used that against me recently when someone asked her if she was afraid of me and she said yes sometimes. Then she exaggerated at least a bit to try to get the person's sympathy so that person might give her money to go back to Peru. She almost left a few days ago. I don't think I wrote about those two days. One day I took off running when the pain was too strong. I ran and ran till I was exhausted. Then I laid down on the grass in a park and cried. I just needed to get away from her. She was the source of my pain, or so I interpreted it. But really the pain is much deeper. It has its roots in things which happened before I ever met her.

Running like this made me think of Jen who also runs to get away from pain. Then she is controlled by people around her. They invalidate her and cause her more pain.

I then thought about how in schools children can't run away from the teachers who cause them pain. Neither can they fight back. The two most natural reactions to pain and fear are fight and flight. But a child can do neither. So what happens over the years?

In a word, society happens. This what we get. What we have is a result of what we do to children.

We twist them and contort them in all kinds of unnatural ways.

Gonzalo was telling me about a group of aborigines here in Argentina called the Wichis. He said the Spanish and now the Argentines have stolen their land. Much as has happened in other countries such as the USA and Australia. And also in a similar way they built little boxes in nicely organized rows for them to try to live in, with little patios out back. All of the little boxes, called houses by the people with the guns, are the same of course. This is more efficient. Like the gas chambers were efficient. We know that to many people this kind of efficiency is highly valued. Much more highly valued than feelings.

Well, Gonzalo told me that the aborigines can't live in the little boxes called houses. They put their tents up outside on the patios. This tells us a lot about society. I remember also that in Australia I was told that the aborigines couldn't live inside jails. When they were arrested and put in jails, they committed suicide at very high rates. I have no doubt this is partly because they weren't trained to spend thousands of hours inside boxes called classrooms.

More and more I realize that people tried to change my nature, but they weren't completely successful. My inner voice, my instincts, my animal nature was not completely killed and replaced by beliefs about what I "should" do. I was not totally corrupted by the fear of disapproval and punishment.

More and more I believe there are those of us who simply need more freedom. Who simply feel more intensely. Maybe this is something like the popular term indigo children. I'm not too sure. But I have read that the label hyperactive is often connected with the term indigo. To me these are people who feel and think more deeply. And who need more freedom and more interesting things to do than what is offered in typical classrooms and homes.

More and more I see how damaged I was and how serious the consequences are. I know its not normal or healthy to think of strangling your partner. Someone who I enjoy being around most of the time and who I am so afraid of losing. I hesitate to report some of these kinds of things, because I know there are people who will use what I write against me in any way they can, but I will keep writing till I can't write anymore.

I think writing is more important to me than life. I think I would literally end my life if I could not write. And I think I would chose to starve to death rather than stop writing if everyone rejected me and refused to do business with me, refused to associate with me, refused to support me in any way. I think of David Caruso and Jack Mayer, who both have ostracized me, or shunned me or rejected me or whatever you want to call it. I wanted acceptance by them. I wanted admiration. But they cut me out. I don't care much if the people at the EI Consortium don't link to my site. For the most part, they aren't people I want the admiration, acceptance or approval of for the most part. But it hurts to be ostracized by Jack and David. Yet I won't write to get their approval and I won't change my site to win their approval either. I don't feel as rebellious or resentful about it as I did a year ago when I was writing so much about David, but I still feel those things a bit. More than rebelliousness or resentfulness I just feel a need for honesty.

Well, back to this morning.

After thinking about violence for a while and how it isn't helpful in a relationship, I asked Laura for a hug. She started to give me one but it wasn't the one I needed. It was too half-hearted. I went limp. Now I can laugh realizing that this didn't help her feel helpful or appreciated, but at the time I was totally caught up in my needs.

I remained motionless for a while. She apologized for talking about her family. She could see how much it affected me. At the same time I felt bad for having such strong reactions and I told her at some point that I felt bad I couldn't be a better listener.

She kind of understands this but I wanted her to say something like, "I know how much it hurts you because the weeks before I left you and got pregnant I was thinking about my family and not about you and our future together. I wasn't doing anything to help our relationship." I wish she really felt bad about this. Maybe she does, but she has never said it so clearly. I'd like to hear something like that because it hurts me that she left me and even worse, got pregnant. I am getting used to the idea of being a father figure so to speak, not just to her and who knows how many teens, but also to a crying little baby. grrrrrr. I really don't want a baby around. Then again, maybe I will end up loving having a kid around. Who knows. Maybe I will have one or two with Laura someday. She'd like that a lot even though she says she wants to go back to Peru. She is one confused puppy, as they say.

This is getting long so I will try to wrap it up.

Along the way during my thoughts I thought of ways of trying to stop my pain. I thought of how the Scientologists teach distraction. But I don't think that is very useful in the long run.

I also thought: "Why would we want to hurt or kill our partners? How did evolution mess this up?" I can't see how it would be helpful. Then I thought about energy and how I have had to, at times, use physical strength to keep Laura from leaving me. Actually I didn't have to but my animal nature combined with my fear of rejection being alone etc. reacted that way. So I thought energy is good for keeping someone trapped who wants to escape.

Then later I thought that love is more effective at keeping someone with you. And the other person doesn't feel trapped.

So I need to keep trying to unlearn what I learned about relationships. To unlearn that when you feel hurt, hurt the other person back, maybe even more.

I need to teach myself that love is the way to keep Laura, the sensitive, abused, flower child who for some reason seems to own my heart.

I'm starting to cry a bit now but I'll keep going.

I was also thinking about my breathing. I was taking big breaths, exhaling a lot. Thinking about how my breathing is a reflection of my emotional state. I almost completely stop exhaling for long periods of time when stressed, then it all comes out at once. I am guessing now the survival value of this is something like a pressure cooker. Nature wants us to build up pressure to be able to fight or run. But neither is helpful in an intimate relationship.

Maybe intimate relationships are something which is more highly evolved than just mating, frightening your partner into staying with you. Maybe in another million years we won't want to use the instinct to fight or run with our partners.

Along the way of thinking I also thought of Sarah in the UK who told me about a time she was in a councilor's office and was in pain. She chose a spot on the floor and just stared at it. Then she went in the bathroom and self-harmed.

I was trying to do something like this while I was laying there with Laura before I realized I needed to keep her with love. I didn't want to leave because I knew she would feel abandoned. So I was forcing myself to stay there, but I wasn't free to act or speak as I wanted to. So I was concentrating on not leaving and not hurting Laura, a bit like Sarah was concentrating on the spot on the floor to distract herself.

Talking to teens like Laura and Jen have taught me a lot about myself. They can often describe things better than I can.

Well, thankfully, I am through with the notes I jotted down. Thanks for reading, assuming you are not judging me.

One more thought. I just titled this and decided to add "Self-harm". When I was thinking of hitting the wall, I thought of Jen who also hits walls. But she does it more because she wants to hurt herself. When I feel violent I don't want to hurt myself. I might want to hurt someone else, or destroy something, but self-harm has never been one of my coping mechanisms. (Except perhaps when I was very young and would hit my head against the wall.) I am not sure why some people self-harm and others are violent. I think Freud said depression is anger turned inwards. So teens that self-harm have this "anger" or all these feelings of pain, fear etc. which have no outlet, so the only option is to turn it inward. I wasn't suicidal as a teen. I wasn't depressed. I had a lot of freedom, by modern day standards. I skipped school when I wanted. They didn't threaten to send me to jail as they do now in the USA in some schools. I could take my bike and go riding for hours. The teens who I talk to don't have these freedoms. I could also get angry and have "temper tantrums". These were pretty much accepted in my family. I was judged when I had them, but I wasn't really stopped from having them. I think I might have written about the time I took out all the towels in the bathroom and threw them around. And the time I broke the glass on the TV set. Anger was pretty much accepted in the Hein family. My dad could slam doors. That was perfectly normal. So not surprisingly, I learned to slam doors too. I broke a door frame once in my dorm at Indiana University. And I put my fist about half way through a cheap sliding closet door in Toledo. But again, non of these things were what we would call "self-harm." So I can't say I fully understand self-harm. But I would say I understand it fairly well. And it pains me to know how much pain my teen friends are in, as well as all the teens who self-harm who I will never know about.

I very, very sincerely hope my writing on this site helps people understand emotional pain and self-harm. And our emotional needs, and how society fails to meet the emotional needs of intelligent, sensitive people. Then I hope the people in power start to listen to sensitive people or maybe it is better to say that I hope sensitive people have more power and influence in years to come.

S. Hein
Salta, Argentina
March 11, 2006


Gonzalo is the son of the owner of a hostel called the Parador.

Jack Mayer
David Caruso
EI Consortium
Jail, schools in USA
Writing about efficiency and gas chambers


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