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I am Goose Girl

“Ego: The fallacy whereby a goose thinks he's a swan” ~~Anonymous

Jean-Francois Millet

There have been so many changes in our lives... so many ups and downs. It is sometimes hard to know what to think or how I feel, and it is surely impossible to predict what will come next -- or how any of us will react. We three have stumbled and staggered and flailed through the last 15 months or so, spewing anger and hurt and fear and confusion everywhere. We've been a mess of grieving and longing and bitterness. If there was a way to do this badly, we've been there, and if there was a mistake to make, we've done it up in grand style.

I've been every flavor of crazy that you can imagine through all of it. Within the mental health care community there is an understanding that a caring and supportive partner is a major benefit in helping someone heal from the impacts of PTSD. I've not even come close. I've wanted to be good for him and I've done some serious reading and study, but the sad truth is that, when he starts making noises that sound like accusation and blame, I go nuts, take all of his anger on, and begin thinking of ways to "get away and get out." Sometimes I have literally run away -- I once made it halfway across Indiana, heading west and sobbing, before he managed to talk me into turning around. At other times, I've shut down and withdrawn emotionally -- or worse, come roaring back with my own anger and accusations. I went through a period of months when I was fascinated with the idea of cutting -- and I think that the only thing that kept me from acting on those urges was the inescapable association with adolescent angst. From time to time, I've even contemplated suicide -- seriously planning how to accomplish that without leaving too much of a "mess."

Thanks in large part to the steady presence and hard work of my therapist, I think I am past a lot of that -- at least past the most irretrievably destructive bits. She is slowly helping me to see what has been, what is, and what may be -- and "love my way" into it all without insisting that it be the way I want it to be. She doesn't use the word "ego" with me, but it keeps cropping up in the reading I am doing. I am coming to see the places where that internal sense of the me who controls and decides and defends and wants -- my ego, has been at work in so much of my life. It is becoming clear that it is time to find some different way to encounter life and the world. That ego thing hasn't worked so well to this point.

Finding the quote that appears at the top of this post was, for me, like getting smacked in the head with a stick. Homer Simpson would probably say, "Doh!"

I've been calling myself swan for a really long time now. I know it wasn't a name that I chose for myself, but I did take it on, use it, like it -- and increasingly see myself in that way. Silly goose! I'm not a swan. I'm not the ugly duckling personna that I took on in childhood either, but I never was a swan. I've felt terribly hurt and abandoned each time he's insisted that he is not (and maybe never really was) dominant -- but my reaction was about losing the bits of my own ego identity that were attached to that. If he isn't willing to be "my dominant," then I, by definition, am not submissive; not slave. Which sends my poor, little, scared ego-self into a tizzy of worry: "What or who, exactly, am I?"

Maybe goose girl. I found that Jean-Francois Millet painting, and I could feel my mind settle down. She's sweet and innocent and simple and sure. She's round -- a woman in a woman's body; comfortable with herself. She's dropped all the outside trappings, and is completely who she is as she dips her toes into the stream. She has real things to tend to; real work to do; but it does not burden her. She is alone and perfectly comfortable with that. She isn't frantic to be with someone, although I sense she'd be joyful with the presence of a companion. She is serene and aware and alive -- surfing along on the tides of her life. I like her very much.



  1. Anonymous4:50 PM

    We've read the dispair and heart-aching pain you and Tom have expressed. Each of you talks of the other and your experiences going to therapy. What of Teresa? She is married to Tom and lives with both of you. How is she making it through this troubling time? Who is her support, surely not you two, you're both too self involved with healing your own psychics. It can't be easy for her to remain serene being in that household.

  2. @swan, I agree the goose girl is lovely, but I still think you were well named. Perhaps you are a special type of swan, like the ones we have here in Oz:

  3. You will always be my swan. That will never change for me.

    I was very much Dominant in my most aspects of my life prior to 15 months ago. Then that ended. I would be pleased and validated if my life ever afforded that again. NowI do not choose how I live my life............other than to submit to life as you and the courts and the police and AA and the treatment professionals and my probation officer all require me to be. I am not Dominant in choosing continual submission to life that I never chose other than to avoid prison. I can be hypocritical but to try to reconcile those mutual exclusivities would require me to become delusional. Maybe someday my choices and values will be able to be actualized because I freely choose them to be. Had I the option again I would certainly be your Dominant again, if in fact you were willing to accept life submitting to my vision and direction.

    Your description of a goose identity does have major resemblance to you and there is a great deal of similarity to the figure in the painting you reference and your own body and demeanor, but you will always be my swan in my mind and heart.

    I love you.


  4. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Does Dominant mean there are no rules or consequences? You chose to do some of the things that ended you up in prison. You choose to narrate your identity as someone with no agency. You continually claim that you do all these things because your partners and the courts et al. "require" you to do them. If they didn't, would you "choose" to go back to being an alcoholic psychotic (your words)?

    This is your life. It happened because of a string of consequences--some of which were your responsibility, some of which were other people's, some of which were just random. But this is it. You have not suffered a traumatic brain injury; you have not lost your life savings; you do not have an incurable disease, etc., etc., etc., Bad things happen all the time. And people go on. What is the point of continually reminding yourself, your partners, and everyone who reads the story you put on the internet that you are the puppet of a tyrannical system? You and your family have already lost 15 months to the angst that followed from the original set of actions. How much more of your life do you want to give up?

    Life is so tricky and ultimately, always, a bitch. Don't waste the time you have now. Worse things are ahead (not just for you--for everyone who is now alive).

  5. Dear Sue..

    I feel and hear the pain and anguish in your words.

    I agree with Mistress160.
    With your grace, dignity and sweetness.. at least here to my eyes.. you will always still be a lovely, charming graceful swan.... Swans are also very protective and that light shines in you. Whatever you were, you have been burnished by the heat of deep, horrifying pain.. and that can coat us with a sheen of beauty that is only earned by surviving a trial by fire.

    This was YOUR post.. about you.. and so in my best efforts of loving friendship, I do my best to steer it back to you.

    You do not strike me as a goose, but I would not nay say that you are not, for you know yourself better then we do. But... if it has negative connotations... then.. perhaps something kinder to yourself would be more appropriate. I think we can all transform as we pick our path through life. I once felt very much like discarded garbage, for years and years.... but now, I refuse to be seen through others eyes that way. I do not let myself be treated that way anymore. I choose.. to see myself brighter, better and happier. It can and is happening.

    I wish that for you and yours as well.

    Warmest of hugs and deep abiding affection,


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