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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Intensely Understood

And what makes this encounter with the Former Nemesis so intense is that I felt so completely understood with her. I haven’t felt this understood and in sync with anybody who is not a close personal friend or my sister in forever. (With N we are not on the same wavelength at all, and it’s the reason our relationship is so passionate.)

This is the last person I expected to be so like me (see the part about Trump in the previous post.) It’s so weird. We literally finished each other’s sentences. So weird. 

I’m now wondering who else I should look up to see how it would feel. 

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4 thoughts on “Intensely Understood

  1. I wonder if I’d have the same set of reactions at various places I haven’t liked.

    A city in Brazil. Every time I do go back, I have the same reaction: things I liked, and the colonialism – slavery – sexism that I didn’t. I was intensely miserable when I lived there because of the second set of things and because it didn’t have what I needed in terms of resources for the dissertation I had, but at the time I said it was because of the way I was treated which was bad in and of itself but was exactly the way my mother had treated me as well. Still, my ambivalence about the place doesn’t change and I still think it’s a place to be a traveler, not a place to live … and the friends I made there all thought this as well, and moved after they graduated . Hmmm.
    My first job. It was at the place my mother had wanted me to go to college, and I wouldn’t have been caught dead going there (it’s a mini-Yale), but had applied because you are supposed to apply for everything … and it was the most viable offer I got, by far. My mother was, of course, very enthusiastic, which made me nauseous, and I was embarrassed not to have anything better (any state school would have been better in my view), AND it was also not to my taste (as I had known for years, I hadn’t wanted to go there as an undergraduate), AND they were not nice. I do wonder, though, if I would have hated it less had it not been for all the adult pressure, my other and then also all the professors who said you had to be glad to get any job. I wonder whether I would like it now if I visited — it was super-Republican, although pro-gay (very like your description of Yale, it is quite interesting), and one of the main things I didn’t like was that nobody had any friends not from campus, they were very insular and clannish and I wasn’t sure they were actually friends or just in a lifeboat together.
    This job. I wouldn’t have taken it if my mother had not cried so hard at the idea that I wouldn’t, so again there is that trapped and coerced feeling. Without it I would feel freer. At the same time, I am also in one of the miserable departments, and my department is specifically connected with the more miserable aspects of the town. I have realized somewhat recently that (a) there are a couple of other departments with this situation, so it’s not just us, but also (b) there are several other departments that are a lot more rational, and that have no institutional connection with the town. I can see that from the vantage point of those departments, neither the university nor the town are poisoned, and the experience would be very different.

    All the jobs that I liked were at state R1 flagships and the towns did not matter to me then, that is, I was able to make peace with whatever their inadequacies were, because I felt at home at the universities and understood them. Interestingly, the town in Brazil I couldn’t tolerate also didn’t have an R1 type university, and that was my main issue. I transferred to one such, in a much less beautiful town, and felt at home in work again and actually enjoyed the town.

    Obviously my inner darkness is my mother but I am not sure peace with her would fix everything — ?

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    • *There is a Freudian slip in the comment above: I refer to my mother as my other.

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    • I don’t think it’s necessarily peace with her that you need. In many cases, what people need is the opposite, the war. I can’t know thos about you, of course, I’m only speaking from my experience.

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      • I tend to agree. The harangue I usually get is about how you must make peace, forgive, and so on because if not, you are tied to the negative situation and cannot “let it go.” I find the opposite: I think this ties you to it and does not free you. If you internalize a declared enemy, refuse to recognize their works, do not reject their destruction, you tie yourself to it. I don’t find you have to obsess over someone if you don’t “make peace” with them. I can even appreciate or outright like people that I know do not appreciate me and wish me ill–just so long as I allow myself to recognize that they, or at least a part of them, do not wish me well.

        (In the case of my mother, I think it was a huge and painful conflict for her: she wished me well as her child, but also saw me as a competitor she must destroy. This put her in the position of destroying her child, or having done, which I do not think she always liked.)

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