About Cognitive Dissonance …

Yesterday I stumbled across some letters I’d written to my deceased grandmother in 2008. At the time, I wrote to her because I was sworn to “school” secrecy, but torn about my illustrious tenure.

It was really something to look back on my “school” induced state of turmoil. Cult experts and mental health professionals call this state cognitive dissonance. Those readers who’ve been inside the hallowed halls, or those who’ve been in other cults, will likely recognize their own versions of cognitive dissonance in letter #1; letter #2 makes it even clearer, which is the next post:

Dear Gran,

Since I can’t talk to anyone one but K about “school”, I am going to talk to you.

What the fuck am I doing?

Or should I say, “am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” God knows I wouldn’t have a job that pays me 50K/year without “School”. It’s possible that I wouldn’t be married either. In fact, I would probably still be stuck in the same loop I’d been in for so many years and feeling more and more ashamed of myself for it — which, of course, would perpetuate everything.

I find myself thinking, though, what if I were putting that $350/month into my violin lessons instead of going to class. Would I? Have I been suckered into a cult? or is this a real thing? Is “school” exactly what I have always sought?

You know the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” Is this a classic case? I feel so far away from me, or who I believe “me” to be – – which could quite possibly be an illusion anyway.

But I’m sworn to secrecy and sometimes, often times, talking in class, or talking with K isn’t enough. So I talk to you. You are beyond this world and your perspective is way beyond — seems silly to even say so. But my point is who would know. Maybe Sharon’s right — I shouldn’t be wasting my time, their time and yet before Sharon’s appearance (with her big, scary presence) I felt I was getting some real help, some deep understanding, something I can’t get anywhere else, or in any way.

I can’t talk to Chris about it — it wouldn’t even be fair. I can’t talk to my friends. Who do I talk to? How do I possibly know what’s right. Is this “school” good for me? Is it making me more neurotic? Who is this woman and what is she doing with her life?

Well, I can’t even write about it, Gran … I hope that you can give me some guidance from whereever you are.

Love and miss you,

Your granddaughter.

Letter #2

4 thoughts on “About Cognitive Dissonance …

  1. 007 says:

    I like to think that one has truly graduated from this mystery school when they have undergone the process of work on themselves sufficiently as to be able to see the world as it really is. No longer seeing only the shadows of models of real things presented by the teachers but the puppetiers and the cave you dwell in. Part of this process invloves asking the though questions from the universe, or in this case, one who dwells amoung the stars as a conduit to that end.
    I like to believe that your questions were answered in the most optimal way the universe could provide.
    You learned the truth about school, you left school with assistance from your husband making your marriage stronger, you are ever stronger in your determination of both your personal and professional and artistic life and you maintain this blog which has been an oasis of aid for students and significant others or families of students as well as a defiant reclaimation of your power.
    It feels to me that your letter was recieved and answered.

  2. BestFootForward says:

    Hi Dear!
    Lots of recognition in this letter…..but I never even said those things out loud, even to myself! Let alone write them down!
    The ‘cracks in the wall’ for me started when I began to trust my own mind…going back to school, regular school, getting A’s, and kudos for my own thoughts…made it harder and harder to deal with the insultingly insinuations that I was stupid. It was also too trying to keep believing that everything about ‘school’ was good, and about life was bad….or that I owed everything to ‘school’, etc..Part of dissonance is that Some of what was ‘taught’ was True….

  3. BestFootForward says:

    I remember being afraid of S, as well. I mentioned it to R who responded with a dark sneer, isn’t that in You!
    Oh Lordy, that we were like lambs to the wolf…manipulated into believing we were the problem….I don’t remember ever asking to come in, or asking for help.

  4. Hi 007 & BestFootForward –

    Thank you for your comments! A friend once asked me — as you know 007, b/c you were there — if I would change my experience. If I could go back in time and make different choices, would I? I guess I would have to say I would not. Because, at the end of the day, I see that I needed to take that bizarre journey to get to a place in my life where I was no longer doubting myself. It’s too bad it took a cult and it’s too bad that it took five years, but as soon as I woke up and realized I hadn’t made a decision for myself since signing on, I poured kerosene on the bridge and lit the match. As I said before, some bridges should burn. I’d much prefer to bumble through life on my own, allowing for my own process and mistakes and coming to my own conclusions than to ever be led around by the nose by anybody. Before my dad died he kept telling me, “People do things when they are ready.” I guess I was ready. And, yea, I think Grandma Blanche did answer me, too.

    BestFootForward, congrats on returning to real school! I’m so pleased to hear that it cracked the flimsy foundation on the house of cards — amazing that it’s still standing after four decades or so … but you are correct, much of what is “taught” has a grain of truth that is then twisted and manipulated so suit a certain agenda (see artful dodger post).

    I have to say, I was sooo freaked out by the entire Sharon phenomenon. The entire aura of the “classroom” changed — even before she showed up, you could feel something in the air and see people acting strangely — oh, btw, they never told us the queen was coming, they simply sprung her on us. She always looked and sounded crazy to me and acted like a psychopath, a mean one at that. I only remember two appearances, I almost left after grand entrance #1, but my sustainer did the appropriate amount of damage control.

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