This is full of some of my personal psycho-babble. If you’re not interested in any of that shit, you can feel free to bypass this post entirely.

So I might have mentioned this in this space before, but it bears repeating because I’m just now realizing the significance of the fact.  When I was a kid in high school…I was one of those  kids.

I liked proofs in geometry.

I was good at them.  I like the aspect of getting incomplete information and then trying to go and fill in the missing blanks based on the knowledge I had amassed to complete a logical progression of assumptions. It wasn’t homework so much as a puzzle, trying to go through the steps and fill in the missing information.

I think this is the aspect I try to recapture in poker. I have certain pieces of information: what my hole cards are; what my opponent(s) bet or raised before the flop; what cards came out on the flop and based on what my opponent does next I have to construct their hand based on certain assumptions and behaviors.

Sometimes I think my hand-reading skills would be markedly improved if I approached the game the same way I did proofs back in the day.

When I was taking geometry, my teacher was Ms. Annie Miller.  I knew and used her first name even back then on occasion because that’s the kind of ornery smart ass I was. Looking back, I’m astounded I got away with some of the things that I did with her. Her son Oliver played basketball for our school, actually got us to the state final four one year. He was like a mini-Shaq/Kendrick Perkins kind of player.  Tall (6’9″), heavy (he pushed close to 300 then, and ballooned in the NBA), he was a serious physical presence most of the time.

The exception being when his mom would light into him about missing his free throws in the game the night before. You never saw such a big guy try to get so small so quick as when she trained her eye on him.

Anyway, the reason I mention Ms. Miller is because while I zoomed through geometry with great scores in school, she did have to break me down some on proofs.  If the proof called for for a solution in seven steps, I’d turn in my homework showing only five.  And she would ask me about the missing steps and I knew what the were. I could rattle them off without even thinking about it. And she’d ask if I knew the answers for all the steps then why didn’t I show them all.

In my opinion at the time, it was because the steps I left out seemed extraneous. The rules being left out in my proofs were pretty general assumptions or known rules of geometry. To me in my head they were a given. And she’d tell me the same thing every time: “Henry, I’m not in your head.  You have to show your work.”

Flash forward to my life as an adult. There were a lot of reasons why my marriage ultimately broke down. The amusing part is that the ex and I can have arguments not about trying to place too much blame on the other for something, but rather for trying to assume too much blame for our own respective selves.

One thing that used to drive her nuts is that there were a lot of times where I took an action that impacted both of us, or said something that seemed to come completely out of left field and would be something she’d get irritated by. And the argument would blow up because she had no idea where I was coming from with this or that (and I apologize for being vague, I don’t remember specific incidents tied to this and don’t know that I’d be comfortable putting them out there if I did).

Her complaint was a fair one in that a big piece of what drove me to the point of making that comment or taking that action was all in my head and so she didn’t know where it was coming from or how to put it into any kind of workable context.  It was almost like trying to make sense of a conversation where you’re only hearing every third word, I suspect.

I didn’t show my work.

As I’ve gotten older, I would like to think I’ve gotten better about this. In some respects I have. Therapy helped with that quite a bit.  But it’s still something I’m prone to.  Look at it from this perspective.  I’ve spooled out over 700 words here telling tangential stories that tie to a vague central point but don’t really make a solid point as a whole. So I’ve gone to the other extreme in obfuscating what I really want to say with a whole lot extra details that don’t mean jack shit.

But the real question is why?

A good piece of that ties back to stuff I’ve talked about on here before.  This mental block I’ve got about devaluing my personal worth in the world beyond any reasonable or factual measure.  I don’t think well of myself, get it in my head that I don’t deserve to be happy, and so why articulate what I want or feel? It doesn’t make a difference.

Which is a particularly craptastic way to view oneself.

This tendency to not “show my work” is also what lends itself to me feeling like I’m not “heard” by others a lot of the time.  I theorize this is what lent itself to me reading unreasonable expectations from my dad for myself. After all, if I don’t ask about expectations or voice my concerns directly out of fear I might disappoint, it makes it a lot harder to be “heard” when I have a concern.

And that lends itself to my feeling shitty about myself pretty effectively.

It’s been a struggle even knowing part of what my current problems are with my mental well being. I’ve gotten to be so accustomed to doing things for others, helping my friends, going out of my way for other people. I have so little practice in trying to do things for myself and being comfortable with that.

Which I guess is why I’m spilling all that out here while I’m on vacation.  I’ve had this post sitting in pending drafts for days now while trying to hedge about what I wanted to say.  And what I want to say is I need y’all to help me out by asking me to show my work if it seems like there’s something I’m leaving out or not talking about.  Because I know the core of people who read this regularly are people who care about me and who aren’t afraid to get in my face.

So ask me to show my work if something doesn’t make sense. Ms. Miller would have wanted it that way.


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