Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Being put up with

Why is it that women are always credited with "putting up" with their husbands? What's so damn great about that?

Here's a metaphor... Imagine you are going for a very long car ride where you have the radio playing the entire time. Now imagine your wife is sitting in the passenger seat "PUTTING UP" with the music. Wouldn't you rather she "SING ALONG" with the music. Her "putting up" with it implies she is (at least) indifferent to it… and very likely dislikes it… but endures it in order to achieve some other benefit

This "other benefit" might be something like "being taken for a car ride". She "puts up" with the music in order to be driven around. But at any point in this process, the driver sheepishly admits he doesn't understand why she puts up with his music, as if being "put up with" represents proof of love, when in fact, being "put up with" is really the location of alienation…. where the music represents the medium of exchange through which one thing is traded for another. In essence… she puts up with him for the ride. But why does he put up with that?

A question the driver might ask is… "Why am I driving around with someone who doesn't value what I value?" Another question the driver might ask (but never does) is… "Why doesn't she ever thank me… for putting up with her putting up with me?" After all, being "put up with" can be kind-of insulting. Imagine you prepare a meal for someone, hoping to give them something delicious… but as they eat  they tell you… "I can put up with this, but only to derive nourishment, because I don't like the way it tastes".

When I was a child, I would want my mother's attention when I performed some activity. I would say, "Mom, watch me"… and she would say, "I see you". But she never actually looked at me very often. Her attention was elsewhere. She "PUT UP" with my constant badgering, and in so doing I eventually came to understand that my activity was not really of interest to her. Yet my urge remained to be actively seen and desired. As a consequence, I continued to insist that my mother look at me, but at some level I felt guilty that I was so needy. When you feel guilty for being who you are, and when you begin to doubt the meaning of what you're doing…. and when you place your sense of self in the hands of those who simply "put up with you"… and when you desire the love of this parental judge… then being "put up with" becomes equivalent to being loved.

And let's presume we carry this archetypical pattern throughout our lives, in which case we feel pointless as individuals, but loved by those who "put up" with us (i.e., don't care)… and this indifferent lover derives something from us unconnected to what we care about… and we love them for not particularly caring, because we feel rather pointless.

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