Excerpt from This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE
“Clara Explains Human Relationships to The Band:
The Romantic Paradox”
by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Copyright 2013, revised 2015 Sally Ember, Ed.D.
St. Louis, MO
July 14, 2013
“You want to know something no one wants to know?” I ask Led, whose bluish-gray, ovoid, bouncing hologram is hovering around and “on” my 5′-round table in my living/dining room in Kirov. “You have extensive knowledge of modern, Western literature and are familiar with movies, television programs and song lyrics as well, right?”
Led is visiting me today, July 14, 2013, to check in, something he or one of the other members of The Band do periodically when we don’t have a training session for more than a day or so. Six months ago we start my Excellent Skills Program and CC trainings, but we’re not exactly on a regular schedule because of all of my public appearances, interviews Espe has to do with me for her ‘blog and formal articles, and what little time I can grab to catch up with friends and family. Also, some sessions require more extensive practice to be done on my own before the next training can occur.
My most recent session focuses on the intentional manipulation of matter. Mainly, I practice causing something (usually the size and shape of a large book) to manifest and disappear at will. Or not. The stubborn refusal of this volume on my table to disappear starts me thinking about stubbornness in general and the recalcitrance of one man, in particular.
Yes, my dear Epifanio.
The book I practice removing from and returning to our timeline is a compendium of romance-genre novellas by a little-known author that my mom and I enjoy. In every one of these stories, the female protagonist spends most of the plot in a state of suffering from unrequited love. Then, very near the end (triggering the end, in fact), the object of her affection realizes/ discovers/ announces that he, too, loves her. They embrace passionately, usually leading to perfect sex (e.g., simultaneous or “ladies -first” climaxes, exceptional technique and rapport, fireworks, etc.) and/or engagement leading to marriage and the promise of perfect sex. Since the novellas (and almost every other story of this type from any Western author or film/TV writer) all follow this format, it sets me to thinking about the way authors stop the stories too early.
This starts a chain of thoughts that leads to the above question I pose to Led. “Led,” I go on, “you, I and the rest of The Band all know that Epifanio and I do not work out together as a couple. No matter how many ways I timult us, or how many Re-sets you or I establish in which our relationship happens to change, the alterations in the timelines do not result in our being able to stay together, if we get together at all. Do you know why that is?”
“Clara,” Led starts to respond, but POP POP POP POP: here are the rest of The Band.
Ringo extrudes one light orange, upper arm-like appendage and wiggles his “fingers” at me. I wiggle mine back in greeting. His pyramid-shaped, top part opens slightly, the shinier side facing me.
Mick angles his turquoise blue flat-top toward me and his lights blink. If I had blinking lights, I’d blink back; but, lacking those, I say “Hi” to Mick.
Janis—Diana move toward me. Their pickle-body holos “bump” my upper body, twice. I angle my shoulder toward them and “bump” back, three times, in our established greeting.
“Are you ready for your next session?” asks Mick. He’s the one tracking my ESP training most closely.
Janis answers before I get a chance to: “No. Clara is going on about Fanio, again. Really, Clara? What, now?” her tone is teasing and affectionate, so I am not offended.
Diana jumps in, again, preceding my response: “Don’t be so hard on her. You know humans love very differently than we do and her heart is corroded. Right, Clara? Corroded?”
Diana often gets our slang incorrect and I hide my smile so as not to offend her..
“Um, well, not ‘corroded,’ exactly,” I start to explain the incorrectness of Diana’s term, but Ringo interrupts.
“Clara and Epifanio have a complicated set of timelines. Perhaps she is ready to examine a number of them today?” Ringo wonders.
“Timulting personal stories is not on this week’s schedule nor is that part of Level 5-A,” Mick declares.
Diana intercedes, “Clara doesn’t want to timult the timelines. She needs to grieve, to worry, to anguish, to obsess. Maybe play some music that makes her cry. How about this?” She speaks in a sympathetic tone, then I hear “Love Has No Pride.” Linda Ronstadt’s soaring vocals fill my living room.
The music for desolation, not consolation.
She must “hear” my dismay, because now she plays Lonestar’s “Not A Day Goes By.”
I start to laugh. Right on target, but somehow not helpful.
“That’s not necessary,” I say, through my laughter.
Diana fades out the tear-jerking lyrics on “Baby, Baby, Oh, Baby…”
“I want to explain some cultural paradoxes to you. That’s the reason this conversation begins the way it does.”
Led bounces closer to me and says, “Go on, Clara.”
I know Led likes to be aware of the nuances of Earthers’ thinking, so I continue, despite Mick’s increasing frequency of blinking lights. “It’s like this; at least, it is for me. I fall in love (or so I tell myself) with someone who isn’t at that time in love with me or even considering me as a lover. We know each other in some ways and have contact, but per is not interested in me in that way.”
“Like Epifanio,” Janis offers.
Diana bumps her but Janis continues.
“He keeps saying he doesn’t feel ‘that way’ about you.”
“Yes, Janis. Exactly. So, unable to accept ‘No’ for an answer, I persist. I try to become necessary, irreplaceable, important in that person’s life. I seduce, I persuade, I sometimes ‘succeed.’ I become a trusted friend, a good companion, a significant colleague, a confidante, a part of cos extended family or inner friendship circle. We spend more time together, all so that I can become indispensable and irresistible to co.”
“Does that work?” asks Led.
“It often seems to,” I say. “But that’s exactly the problem I want to discuss. It depends on the way we define ‘work.'”
Ringo is getting interested, now. “What do you mean? How could something work and not work at the same time?”
“Therein lies the paradox!” I exclaim. “Human feelings and psychological conditions aren’t like machinery. They can operate in both the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions simultaneously in this metaphor, as you soon learn.”
Now, Mick is intrigued, “Like a photon can be both a particle and a wave, but not when observed, because then it must be one or the other?”
“Very like that, yes,” I concur. “But, human love, passion, choice and autonomy are the contradictory occurrences, here. This is the way I understand it all, now. With my previous lovers and Epifanio: they believe that they do not love or want me, sometimes for many years. They are close to me in other ways, however. Then, at some point, they believe they do love me, want to be with me. Since that is what I want, anyway, we spend some time being together. It’s great, it’s wonderful, it’s amazing wish-fulfillment, for me, and, seemingly great for them, too.”
“So, what’s the paradox?” prompts Led.
“Endorphins and romance fade and real life takes over. The ‘honeymoon’ of new passion and excitement end, causing oxytocin to recede to normal levels. Or, it might work in reverse: perhaps oxytocin’s diminishing causes the feelings to change. My ‘lovers’ then begin to recall the traits or behaviors they do not like in me, the original reasons they do not want to be with me.”
I pause, considering all my important relationships and know I’m on the right track, here. “Whatever attracts them to me or ‘changes their minds’ about me is no longer accessible. They decide–―no, they believe–―that they don’t love or want me any longer, all in the space of a few months or years. Plus, they’re angry, resentful and withdrawn toward me.”
“But, you do not change or trick them at all, do you?” asks Janis. She sounds appalled.
Diana adds, “That is so unfair! That must be the reason your heart corrodes to the breaking point!”
“Exactly!” I say. “Instead of taking responsibility for those alterations in their feelings and for their own ever-changing choices, they blame me. They actually tell me they believe we got together because I use ‘magical’ seduction, deception and other methods to convince or even coerce them into falling in love with me and become my lover.”
As I recall specific incidents of this in my life, I am getting a bit intense. I take deep breaths to calm myself, then continue.
“One of them says I ‘put him under a spell.’ Another one tells me that I ‘took him for a ride.’ They claim, one day or several months or years later, when they then believe they no longer want or love me, that our relationship’s demise is all my fault, somehow. They refuse to take any responsibility for the way we get into this situation.”
I pause. Yes, The Band is with me.
“They tell themselves and me that they get involved with me without their complete consent or understanding. From their perspectives, they ‘never wanted to do that,’ so, I must trick them into doing it, to being with me.” I can feel the pain of hearing those things from my former lovers as if it were happening right now.
“This makes no sense, even for human Earthers,” Ringo says, tilting his pyramid away from me. “What is their major maladjustment?”
I laugh. Ever since I first say that in front of Ringo, he chooses to re-use that phrase repeatedly. Always appropriately, though.
“Yes. Please explain, Clara,” Led requests.
“Okay, ” I continue. “First, you all remember what ‘projection’ means and how it manifests, right?”
Mick responds, “Of course. Humans often put another person’s ‘face’ or their own inner characteristics, ‘on’ someone else, like, on you. But they do not realize that they are doing this. They then react to that person, not to you, as if those other person’s traits or their own traits are yours. Usually these projections are negative but they can also have positive identity confusions. Yes?”
“Oh, I get it!” Janis exclaims. “Epifanio projects his mother, his first wife or some older sibling or teacher or some other contentious, powerful person from his past onto you. Or, he projects the insecurities, fears, worries or dishonesty within himself onto you. He then feels inferior, threatened, invaded, betrayed or otherwise unhappy due to his original relationship issues with that person or to his struggles with his own inner demons that seem to be playing out with you.”
Diana picks up the thread: “Then, he attributes his reactions to you and your interactions with him. Talk about unfair! He shouldn’t do that to you!”
“That’s right,” I respond. “That is ‘projection.'” I feel sad remembering all the times this happens in my timelines with others and with Fanio. “He can’t help it, though. No reason to be upset with him.”
I realize as I hear myself say that to Janis–—Diana: I am not angry with Fanio or any of my other lovers anymore. It surprises me, but I’m so glad. Many years of therapy and intensive contemplation during meditation actually help with these issues.
I continue with my explanation. “It works both ways, anyway. I’m sure I do it, also. Most humans project onto one another until we don’t. My projections onto others are usually more positive than they deserve, but they are nonetheless projections: not better than theirs onto me, just different.”
I feel a familiar rush of certainty, mixed with shame. “When I make others ‘better’ than they actually are and relate to them as if that is who they are, I generate an inauthentic relationship just as they do. My ‘positive’ identify confusions are every bit as unhealthy as their negative ones.”
Mick interjects, “Your projections, Clara, are a bit more complicated, though, because you see other versions of some people when you timult. Because you prefer those versions to this one, you unconsciously favor the ‘better’ one. Also, ‘unfair,’ right?” He says this last part to Janis.
Mick nails it. I do that with Epifanio and many others. I timult from when I am a teenager. When I find what I believe to be better versions of them, I relate to those instead of the people who are right in front of me.
“Yes, that is unfair. Completely. To all of us,” I admit. “I am doing that with Epifanio, every day,” I add. “I would rather have another version of him here, with me, than the one who is here. I’m trying to stop. At least I don’t blame Fanio, anymore.”
“I’m still not understanding the paradoxical part,” persists Led.
“Yes, Clara. Go on about that, please,” requests Ringo.
“Well, I start out talking about one kind, but Mick points out another. In my original paradox, it goes like this: the romance authors want us to believe that, once someone is finally ready to love someone else—–after days, weeks, months, or even years of resisting, insisting they do not love that person–—suddenly, they perceive this new-found love and ‘everything’ is going to be great. The writers call that ‘living happily ever after’ in human fairy tales. But, that’s not really how it works out.
“The authors don’t show the later months or years, when it all falls apart. The negative projections wear off or get superseded by the positive ones, at first, but they’re all still having projections. No one includes the part of the story showing when the positive projections fade away and the negative ones return to prominence.”
“Once the projections depart, does the relationship continue with more authenticity, then?” Diana asks, hopefully.
“No one is actually loving or desiring the other person the way they truly are. Once the partners realize that, they can’t be happy together any longer,” I explain. “Unless, once the projections all recede, they can find their ways to respecting, knowing and loving each other as who they are. That is very rare with current, Western humans.”
“It doesn’t happen with you and Fanio, does it?” Janis asks, sadly.
I feel my heart clutch and my stomach tense. “No, Janis. I do not think it does. But, to be fair, that’s as much my responsibility as it is Fanio’s.”
Led says, “If I understand you correctly, Clara, the human romantic paradox is that two humans may both love and not love one another simultaneously without realizing that. And, projections onto others may be both positive and negative at the same time as well.”
“Yes,” Ringo continues, “Human relationships are fraught with unrealistic expectations, feelings based on fantasies, and other neurotic tendencies playing out in interactive experiences. Many species are like this in the Many Worlds Collective.”
“They are?” I ask. “I hear about none of these. Please, go on.”
Led bounces closer to me, then hovers. “Clara, this is very educational. Thank you. We must depart and leave you to your practice.” He bounces over the book, then POP he’s out of sight.
“Okay,” I reply, but he’s already gone. Janis–—Diana, Mick and Ringo POP out immediately afterward, giving their good-bye gestures as they go. I return the gestures, but they’re gone before mine can be seen by them.
Back to this Level 5-A, disappearing objects. This stubborn book. Gey avek, please? I exhort in Yiddish to the book. And take my projections with you, while you’re at it!
To my utter surprise, POP and it’s off my table. Wow! I have no idea what I am doing right, but I better do it again!
I get up to find another, larger book. This time, an old Atlas. Fewer distractions that way.
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are.
Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Chief Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions.
In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth?
This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.
Are YOU ready for the changes?
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