pride and disgust

Apartment hunting developments in brief, for those who are interested:

The place we were looking at before is now a non-option. Leasing agent told me verbally that we'd start on a month-to-month basis and would be out if we fell a month behind; I assumed co-signing would be on that basis and told Mom and Amber this. However when Mom called the leasing agent, he told her it would be a minimum six-month lease, for payment of which both principals and co-signers would still be responsible in the event of eviction. I am annoyed with the agent for this, but hey, what can be done?
So I'll be looking at another place tomorrow and yet another on Friday, and we'll see what happens.

The rest of this post is about things inside my brain. As that is the purpose of this blog: to spill my guts for your amusement and possible informeditude.

For this post, there's a chart I want to scan, and maybe later I'll figure out how and scan it in here. It's a handwritten copy I made from a chart on page 78 of Peter Carroll's Liber Null. (I later lent the book to a friend, so I'm glad I had made the copy.) The chart divides up the many shades of emotional experiences into a wheel, where each emotion is placed across from its opposite--loathing opposite greed, anger opposite joy and so forth. Sure, it's Carroll's personal interpretation of how emotional experiences can be divided up, but as a concept it can still be a useful tool.

One perspective on it is that one can use the chart to understand the tensions within experience. In physics, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. In personality construction, every emotion produces an equal and opposite emotion. To be angered by one experience is to create within oneself the potential to find joy in another.

Another side of it is that in a sense, each emotion contains its opposite. When we experience greed and loathing, the actual relationship each emotion creates is very similar: only the direction is inverted. Loathing pushes us away from the object and greed draws us toward it, but in both cases, we are bound to it. We develop a powerful relationship with the object of our emotion, a relationship which influences our perceptions, our choices, even our values. In math, the "absolute values" of "plus 5" and "minus 5" represent the same distance from zero--just in different directions. In a similar way the "absolute values" of positive and negative emotions can represent the same distance away from "no relationship at all".

So, once upon a time, I was in high school, and I was plagued by constant, intense feelings of self-disgust. A gesture, a word, a stray thought out of place--and how many stray thoughts go out of place in a minute? an hour?--and a wave of moral and emotional nausea so intense it was almost physical would rise up in me. I disgusted myself to the point where it got in the way of everything except breathing. (Unless I breathed too loud or sniffled. That, too, disgusted me.) Thus, I decided the most sensible thing I could do would be to eliminate the emotion of disgust from my personality.

Those of you who have been reading me or listening to me blather for a long time already know this story. It's one of my standard referents, and is still something I'm pretty proud of, because that was my first step in the direction of attacking my emotional issues head-on. At the time it was a really smart move, because this one emotion was totally out of control and throwing everything else inside me out of whack. (Er, out of alignment. Whatever.) Unless I put the work in to develop ways to manage this emotion and keep it within its proper, useful context, letting it back into my personality would have been unwise.

However, when I removed one negative emotion from the spectrum of my experiences, I also removed its opposite, positive emotion. I didn't know what it was, exactly--until it came back! Recently I have gotten to the point where I have a kind of pride born of self-respect. Of having proved to myself, to my own satisfaction, that I'm competent to meet various challenges. A whole bunch of real-life experiences went into this, some of which I've blogged about, some I haven't. Some are still ongoing. (which will hopefully always be the case! one should never cease to grow!)

Three days this week, I'm on loan from my usual grocery store to another store in the chain. This other store is about to close; it has very few customers and very little staff and is generally older and dingier than my store. For the first time I'm alone behind the deli counter and responsible for it. I'm doing pretty well, and I'm proud of myself for it, in no small part because this is a comparatively blue-collar sort of job, "real, honest work" as I see it, for which my previous experience hasn't much prepared me.

And I noticed that I was starting to feel disgust. Simple, honest, physical disgust. At the intense amount of work I had to do to keep this deli counter sanitary and free of flies, at the process of skewering raw chickens for tomorrow's roasting, at the way certain items got dried out and nasty during the day. About halfway through my shift I realized that I was feeling disgust--and immediately I understood what this meant.

The self-confidence and pride I've got now, which are based on having set and successfully met various challenges for myself, these things are the opposite of the self-disgust which used to be so crippling for me. Pride based on practical knowledge is the opposite of disgust based on irrational terror. Worthy / unworthy is the spectrum of experience I'm talking about. Right now the scale is very small--but nonetheless I've come back around full circle. So there's a whole wavelength I'd cut out of my emotional spectrum which has now been restored to limited functionality! Hooray for functionality!



Amber E said...

I'd rather talk and discuss all these things instead of comment but yay for functionality! We are rooting for you to get a nice apartment at an affording price. Any updates from Mr. P or that Artists in Residence place.

Fiat Lex said...

Aye, this personality-construction stuff is more fun to talk about live. Still, it's fun to get my thoughts organized in writing here. :)

I saw another apartment yesterday - $700 a month but no utilities or security deposit, and I can split the one-time $250 cat fee into two installments. I worry about the credit check, but there's only one way to find out. Is it cool if I use you for a reference, that is, a person who can vouch for my character and general risk-worthiness?

I'm'a go see the Artists in Residence place tomorrow. Oh, sheesh, the time-crunchiness of this! I am five times over a fool not to have started looking for a new place sooner!

kisekileia said...

Interesting! I can definitely relate to your tendency to use your intellect to understand and regulate emotions. Anecdotally, it seems to be a pretty common Aspie trait.