Psychic madness 2

There is another psychic I need to tell you about.  The summer before I moved into my house in cohousing I was in New Orleans for an amazing week. I figured it’d be fun to get a reading there in the main square in front of St. Louis Cathedral.  The woman said that moving into cohousing would be a good thing for me. She also saw that I was very creative and that I needed to pursue that. I gave her all my excuses – how I”m a mother and can’t be poor again like before when I was trying a creative career. I told her how I pour that energy into the plays I write for my students to perform.

For many reasons I have been haunted by what she said. Of course I knew I was making excuses and I should be doing more of my creativity and feeding my fears less. I also thought that cohousing would release that creativity. I wanted to have an artist’s time – where we could all meet in the common house and pursue our arts – painting, music, writing, side by side. Somehow I never organized it. I also thought I’d hold an Artist Way group. Didn’t happen either. I did try to write on a play I’ve been working on forever about marriage and women in the religious right movement but sitting on the porch trying to read my notes, I got distracted by kids running by or talking with neighbors (another good distraction).

Now I”m haunted by what she said – moving to cohousing would be good for me. I also thought I’d be more healthy. Eating all that pure food that so many cohousers are into – all natural, vegetarian, vegan, etc.  All it did was leave me hungry and snacking after common meal.  Or that I would exercise more since everyone around me would be healthy. I did start walking every day with a neighbor but she got distracted by the kids and didn’t walk much. She also dropped me like a hot potato when the huge conflict blew up. I thought we were starting to be friends. So, once everyone treated me as the scapegoat, it actually did help my health. I had more time to cook and lots of time to exercise. I started biking every morning and walking long walks all over town to get away from them. Being a social pariah really helps keep you moving (out of there).

I’m still haunted that she said that cohousing move would be good for me. But now I think she did see something. It would lead to me being more physically active, cooking better, and stop making excuses about creativity.  I have studied Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way book for years now. I know it’s true and it works.  Excuses are just excuses. We all can be creative and some need it more than others, like me.  For years people have told me how creative I am and that’s just where my mind goes, so why am I so scared?

Cohousing helped me. I saw how no one there was willing to speak up. No one said hey, neighbor, maybe don’t talk like that in front of her or about her. No one talked in front of the group how they really felt about the real problem (some did agree with me). It made me see that most people are chicken shits. So, why can’t I make it as an artist (writing, videos, radio, etc – not painting or drawing – I have less than zero talent).  

The best part is being socially ostracized made me find new groups of people.  I joined a class for women about upping our social esteem. I couldn’t believe all these strong, beautiful women felt bad about themselves. I realized we’ve been judged and criticized our whole lives – how else are most women supposed to feel?  I also got to know the women and all of them had recently been treated badly by a group at work or a lover. Aha – that’s what happened to me!!!!!

Today I had a great talk with one of the women I met in that group. We’ve made our own group to keep the good vibes going. She is creative too and we are planning a few projects.  I realized that this is what I was looking for in cohousing – my people!  They weren’t there. I know there were some individual artists and I did befriend the ones that are practicing but the ones that muffle it are bringing everyone down.  And that’s what everyone looks for in cohousing – their group, their people, belonging. You might find it, or you might not.  Plus, any group can become toxic as a group so it’s a crap shoot.  Since leaving there, I have found what I was looking for – creative friends.

So another psychic saw the future though it had more bumps than I imagined. That cohousing was not the place for me but it pulled the rug out from under me. No more excuses. I try to keep that social pariah feeling and jump on my bike and take walks (but now it’s not to run away from them but to take care of me).  I am full speed ahead on quite a few projects and een choose a part time job so I can give this a real try. If a psychic says you should do something (like she told me to be creative) then you should listen.

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About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
This entry was posted in learning and growing, moving in and out of cohousing, time and family balance, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Psychic madness 2

  1. Flower says:

    Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way–I read quite awhile ago and many other books for creatives. When I moved to another state I got involved in a few different writers groups and an environmental group. None of those relationships that I’d hoped for blossomed. In one the people were older than me and although I’m not opposed to friendships with people that were older–some of those people were not open to it. Actually many of the women were quite unpleasant people anyway, so I was much better off not being exposed to their negativity. I don’t recall what happened with the environmental group or why I left.

    In another group there was a woman who lived in the mountains and she invited me up to her home. The members in that group leaned hard into a type of political ideology that is hostile and negative towards the police. I had expressed in a writing assignment that I didn’t feel as they did. It’s my strong opinion that people who’ve experienced crime don’t harbor negative feelings towards the police and recognize the necessity of their presence. In private she opened up to me as I wasn’t judgmental and told me that her husband was a police officer. I then asked how she felt about hearing the judgments expressed in the group. She told me that they were used to it and that was why she kept it to herself. She left the group as I later did. I wasn’t a part of the “in-group” and I didn’t lunch with them. I didn’t share their belief system and was really there for the purpose of writing. Certain attitudes can disenfranchise people.

    It can be disheartening when your search for people with similar interests or “like-minded” goes south. You may have similar interests around writing or something else, but that may be it. Maybe the other person isn’t interested in developing a relationship into a friendship for whatever reason.

  2. Flower says:

    “Eating all that pure food that so many cohousers are into – all natural, vegetarian, vegan, etc. All it did was leave me hungry and snacking after common meal.”

    I would find that restrictive, since I love to cook. I find it’s another avenue for creative expression. I also eat healthy, but I dislike rigidity and extremism and believe in moderation. I think it would be a miserable affair cooking in a common house for a bunch of people with food restrictions. JUST NO! I also don’t care to listen to people bang on and on about their likes and dislikes as that comes across as self-absorbed. I used to invite people over for dinner and I know that I’m a good cook, but I found people lacked graciousness nor do they demonstrate gratitude. They just don’t have good manners or live with any grace in their life. I stopped extending invitations. I was open to try meeting people at restaurants, but stopped that too because I didn’t want it to turn into all about their personal problems or complaining. If one is open to trying different cuisines then associations with controlling picky eaters is a miserable experience. I don’t care to join them on their journey.

    I also exercise alone–long walks are good for the soul. I found that I was less stressed being alone than around people who complain or incessantly talk about themselves and their problems. I can also walk much greater distances and faster. I find it regenerative.

  3. CJ says:

    I think you hit it on the nail. It’s not necessarily food allergies and health concerns (though it is for some and that’s fine) but also a degree of cook special for me. I considered common meals as a social time to get to know each other and knew it was a gamble on whether the food would be satisfying. I just didn’t realize the whole cohousing thing was such a gamble on all levels.

  4. Flower says:

    I have allergies and I eat healthy. I find a lot of people are extreme and it’s more about food “purity” and just “purity” culture in general. It’s the language they use and they come off as rigid. A lot of people are like evangelists and either they don’t see it in themselves or they don’t care because they feel entitled by their “rightness”. It’s off-putting. There’s nothing fun about being around people who behave that way–they take themselves too seriously.

    While I’m not in a cohousing situation, so I cannot comment about “common meals” my inviting someone to dinner was seen as “social time” to get to know people. I used to do that and I don’t anymore–too many people lack grace in their lives and they behave in mindless ways and reacting all of the time.

    I found this in a cohousing abstract, “In addition to coming together and bonding over shared ideals, many residents are looking for a way to reduce economic inequality and fight climate change through sustainable, ecological design and practices.”

    So did you bond over shared ideals? Did you bond over ways to reduce economic inequality, fighting climate change or talk about sustainable ecological design and practices? Did you ever talk about good books or gardening, etc., or was it all about “kids” and gossip and incessant problems? I know you were not there long, but if you were there close to a year that’s long enough in a situation like that to ascertain how it’s all going to roll.

  5. CJ says:

    Great questions again:
    So did you bond over shared ideals?
    No, but most people assumed to have shared ideas and conversations did to stay on topics all were in agreement. In fact, two people said they wouldn’t talk to someone with a bumper sticker of a candidate they didn’t like.
    Did you bond over ways to reduce economic inequality, fighting climate change or talk about sustainable ecological design and practices? There are many conversations and most have similar political leanings. I find the climate change one interesting since everyone was against it (unlike some groups who deny it which would be rare in cohousing, but possible). Cohousing tends to be smaller buildings and clustered which helps but new construction always does some damage and adds to more stress on the environment and roads. There was one person who talked about how the world was going to end with climate change, and social justice issues get discussed. Others have their own projects and causes that they’ll invite the community to donate or go to a fund raiser. The discussion on sustainable ecological design and practices can be prickly in cohousing because it also deals with money and other issues so everyone wants to do it in theory, but practically, it doesn’t always happen though it as marketed that cohousing is making the Earth better. I think since cohousing is so expensive and un-attainable, neighborhoods sharing things like garden tools and lawnmowers is a more practical solution (since only having one lawnmower is a sell point for cohousing too)

    Did you ever talk about good books or gardening, etc., or was it all about “kids” and gossip and incessant problems? One person tried to start a book club, another started around non violent communication (since dead) and another on a social justice book. sure, talks about books and gardening. Let me clear, my group NEVER talked about problems. Everyone just let it fester till it blew up. But yes, a balance of fun and taking care of the place and whatever problems makes a cohousing nice. I have heard of a lively bunch, a senior cohousing, which seems to have fun things every day – happy hour, coffee hour, knitting, etc. Just depends on the group.
    The promise is it will be sociable and you won’t be lonely. I find I prefer finding people I really do have interesting conversations with and similar interests and go seek them out and then go home and relax. Versus cohousing where it felt forced with whoever happened.

    • Flower says:

      I agree that cohousing seems forced, although the selling points make it sound like the interactions are more spontaneous with the focus on “village”, which sounds suffocating to me. Village has a lovely sound, but the reality is much different. In conventional housing there’s plenty of opportunity for spontaneous interaction and some that you don’t want at all.

      “Did you ever talk about good books or gardening, etc., or was it all about “kids” and gossip and incessant problems?”

      I should have specified about the problems, since I meet people who talk about their personal problems and exhibit poor boundaries. They overshare, which is the terminology for it now and lack social awareness. I’m aware that people with problems–alcoholism and other types of issues can create a lot of widespread problems for people around them, whether they are close to them or not and that includes neighbors.

      • Flower says:

        “In fact, two people said they wouldn’t talk to someone with a bumper sticker of a candidate they didn’t like.”

        In other words they were intolerant of a different opinion or viewpoint. If they were open-minded, as these types of people often like to claim, then they would not offer such a close-minded response.

        I suspected that because groups encourage conformity and given the focus on consensus most people equate it with agreement. If the focus is on finding like-minded people then I’d expect there would be a lack of tolerance towards diversity of opinions, which is a serious problem and I believe has been exacerbated by the Internet.

        “Did you bond over ways to reduce economic inequality, fighting climate change or talk about sustainable ecological design and practices? There are many conversations and most have similar political leanings.”

        Which makes it insular. I find that people that espouse such ideals refer to themselves as “open-minded,” but it’s more performative. Truthfully suck lofty assertions is offending as it suggests that the other person is “close-minded”, if you’re not in agreement. They assume people think and believe as they do otherwise they wouldn’t join the group. What I find odd is that people tend to extrapolate it about other issues that would crop up, as if they would be in agreement about everything and that’s a set-up for disappointment. There are scientists who do not have the same “belief” about climate change and truthfully that is desired in the scientific community and that doesn’t make them deniers. It makes them skeptical and wanting good science to back up such claims. That’s another complicated topic as is “social justice”.

        The idea of such a community would promote being fake and insincere, otherwise it would create a lot of internal conflict which is hard on relationships, especially close relationships where you have to rely on one another. Close proximity makes it worse. There’s always someone in group dynamics seeking control and there’s the pecking order too.

        “Others have their own projects and causes that they’ll invite the community to donate or go to a fund raiser.”

        Which sounds like that could create a situation of feeling “pressured”, given the group dynamics and people within groups are motivated by status. It’s the secular version of passing the offering plate at church. The desired outcome is the same. That can stir resentment and animosity if shame, manipulation and deception is used to source financial resources or time commitments.

        “The discussion on sustainable ecological design and practices can be prickly in cohousing because it also deals with money and other issues so everyone wants to do it in theory, but practically, it doesn’t always happen though it as marketed that cohousing is making the Earth better.”

        My education is environmental and science, so I’m aware of these concepts. I’m certain if people knew my background they would make assumptions about my “ideals” and character and I would fit in. However I’m not interested in “fitting in” or conformity and in fact, I have a strong aversion to groups. Likewise my nature is skeptical and I’m also a private person, so I’d never fit in. I would find it invasive and oppressive on every level. Some of the housing is appealing though.

    • Flower says:

      “No, but most people assumed to have shared ideas and conversations did to stay on topics all were in agreement. In fact, two people said they wouldn’t talk to someone with a bumper sticker of a candidate they didn’t like.”

      I spoke in one of my responses about people demonstrating intolerance towards a different opinion or viewpoints–a problem I associate with insular groups of “like-minded” people. It’s evident from my research and the articles written about cohousing that they seek “like-minded” people.

      This reminded me of view point diversity. Here’s a link to Marla Estes site called Building Bridgers. It celebrates viewpoint diversity. She says, “Diversity is a word we hear a lot these days. And rightly so. But … not so much ViewPoint Diversity.” https://www.buildingbridgers.com/

      I found out about the site through Dr. Burgo’s blog. He covers narcissism and shame and has authored several books. I’ll provide a link to his site again: http://www.afterpsychotherapy.com/

      That’s why I inquired about your real life experiences of bonding in the cohousing realm of “like-mindedness”.

      I found this interesting quote while researching cohousing about “diversity”.

      “Values, members repeatedly said, make communities self-selecting: “it’s this thing about wanting diversity but our values, sort of, really is a pretty strong filter” (Fred, C3). Those who do not share these values or are not ready to practice them in this particular way will not become members.”

      The terminology they use is “values” but is who they vote for demonstrating their values? For example, can you still be a “nice” person and vote for Trump? Would they look the other way if they got “free babysitting” labor?

      The pictures they paint of village life in cohousing is so pretty, but real life is not like that. Real life is messy and I’m a realist.

      • CJ says:

        I’ve been thinking about how pretty it does look on the outside but that’s where some of the problems in my community came up – wanting to keep up appearances. Everything looking beautiful and scared to look at the flaws which later revealed big ugly truths. I’d rather be realistic – have a beautiful house and community but work on honesty and true diversity of opinions and valuing everyone for who they are than just a fake outer image. However, in my research of narcissism since I felt our huge conflict was strongly influenced by someone with those tendencies, I have learned that narcissists are all about everyone in their family being “perfect” to outsiders.

  6. CJ says:

    If someone at our community had not overshared I might still be living there but boundaries was already a problem and I had a sense something was wrong there and I was right. I also wonder about “villages”. It seems like an idea that it once was perfect but no one really knows since it’s only in the past.

    • Flower says:

      Situations are different and I can understand that, although I don’t have a handle on what exactly happened in your particular situation. I recognize your situation and one day maybe you’ll feel freer to elaborate. We all have our own personal histories. For me it was one-sided oversharing and no balance–feeling like people were trying to treat me like a therapist. Suggesting seeking therapy to people makes them angry, despite the loving intent.

    • Flower says:

      This article touches on the problems with oversharing here and what I’ve experienced: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201607/5-reasons-we-tell-people-more-we-should

      There used to be a comment section, which I found interesting and they got rid of it throughout the site. Some of the comments including sweeping generalizations such as, “Americans are mean,” and another person lectured Americans about “collectivist cultures” and how they thought US citizens were supposed to behave towards other cultures. They then blamed the listener for the oversharing stating that they “couldn’t handle it,” therefore absolving the over-sharer of any responsibility for their own communication.

      One person wrote that it was cheaper to “dump and unload” on strangers in an airplane, obviously not an exact quote, because it was cheaper than therapy.

      The author didn’t respond.

      There’s a lot of info out there about it and it can also be that someone is lonely and seeking connection. Real connection takes time and energy–steps that shouldn’t be fast-tracked as that can lead to problems.

      I have thoughts about the desire for “villages” but I’ll leave that for another time. I see it used quite a bit and in the US we don’t live in villages. Certainly there were small towns and communities across the US, where churches played a central role in those towns and life, but it hasn’t existed since the early to mid 1900’s. The corporatization of the US has helped to destroy the smaller towns and communities across this country.

  7. CJ says:

    True again – very shallow, fake relationships and focus on fitting into the group. I guess I thought it was worth it so I wouldn’t be “lonely”. Difference of opinions is important for knowledge and growth and super important in science. I didn’t fit in right away since I enjoyed my job which had people of all different political thoughts! And the housing is beautiful – new and pretty colors. I still like the construction idea to promote engagement, wait, until it felt terrible when I wanted complete privacy when they started shamming and shunning me.

    • Flower says:

      “And the housing is beautiful – new and pretty colors. I still like the construction idea to promote engagement, wait, until it felt terrible when I wanted complete privacy when they started shamming and shunning me.”

      The housing captivated me from the start. I think I mentioned an architect’s site–smaller bungalow and cottage style homes that I love. Those homes were prevalent prior to and after WWII when there still were smaller communities. The construction idea of design and sociability intrigued me as well. Some of his designs incorporate layers of privacy and I think they may be used in cohousing. He makes a distinction though about what cohousing is–that they are intentional by nature instead of the neighborhoods that he designs where a sense of community may arise naturally among neighbors by the physical arrangements of houses and a common area. It too is an interesting idea, although it is not at all about “shared values” or “like-mindedness”.

      Though I’ve even wondered about how that would work out as well–the sociability and all the nuances and interplay of people, because people are people wherever you go. I tend to wonder about such close living arrangements as it immediately makes me consider the potential for problems and then having to deal with problematic people–for instance narcissism. I’ve tried to suss out more information about it. I’m really not a joiner. I’ve already commented about what would bother me–taking too long to build consensus to get things done. the conformity of group think, which I call group stink and I could add more to that list.

  8. CJ says:

    Thanks. I’ll check out the article. It made me laugh because I once sat next to a couple on a plane who were both therapists but they talked to me the whole time about their dilemma – one wanted children and the other didn’t!

    • Flower says:

      I enjoy interesting conversations, but I think I would pass on that particular one. I dislike people getting too personal too quickly. It signals all kinds of red flags.

  9. CJ says:

    I guess I could’ve taken a nap instead!

    • Flower says:

      That sounds like a great idea, although I hope I would snore. I’ve never experienced an interesting conversation on a plane, except once and that was rare. I usually try to avoid people.

  10. CJ says:

    Those world war 2 cottage neighborhoods are cute. My mom had stories of living in Brooklyn with her grandparents upstairs and some other neighbors where they shared a bathroom. My grandpa would know when the neighbor woman was on the “rag” since they were literally hanging to dry in the bathroom. Shared neighborhoods once were a thing, that happened naturally, but I think we’ve lost some of that ability to give and take and trying to force it with something like cohousing can be a big risk.

    • Flower says:

      I was thinking about the cottage bungalows in California, known as bungalow courts or cottage courts, as I don’t know much about those in Brooklyn. I do know shared bathrooms existed, but what you shared would feel intrusive to me, although I recognize shared situations like that would make it harder to carve out privacy.

      I agree about the “forced” interactions with cohousing. I see more takers than givers with everyone claiming victim status to rationalize their behaviors. JFK’s oft quote inaugural address “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” is now the opposite with everyone wanting some form of government handouts. It has morphed over time into everyone claiming and competing for victim status. Entitlement culture reigns comprised of those who think the government should serve them, take care of them and the same for their “community”.

      I was just briefly talking to my dentist about the state of things. He has only one dental hygienist, so it’s been difficult to get in as I once was able too. There’s a shortage nation wide and it’s due to people taking unemployment. It’s hurting all kinds of business.

  11. CJ says:

    I’m sure my grandparents would have preferred more privacy but that is how things were back then and later they did get stand alone homes. Just like the nation, we once lived close to our neighbors but moved away for one reason or another. Cohousing sounds quaint but it depends who moves in on how it pans out.

  12. Flower says:

    “I’ve been thinking about how pretty it does look on the outside but that’s where some of the problems in my community came up – wanting to keep up appearances. However, in my research of narcissism since I felt our huge conflict was strongly influenced by someone with those tendencies, I have learned that narcissists are all about everyone in their family being “perfect” to outsiders.

    The reply button was missing to this comment. My research would align with yours. It’s a lot like the perfect images presented in marketing, Instagram and Farcebook and the whole social media mess. I don’t use social media and haven’t from the start. It doesn’t interest me and I’m busy enough as it is and I don’t see any benefit–just a massive time suck, although I do know that some people can make money and get followers, etc. I recall talking with some other people and we were in agreement about how social media encourages narcissism and that was awhile ago now.

    Narcissists are prevalent everywhere even in the so called “giving” professions and communities. There are communal narcissists and covert narcissists to name a few categories.

  13. CJ says:

    So true. I was just thinking of a counselor I knew at one school where I worked. Biggest narcissist ever! One of the teachers did a better job listening and helping the kids to take over from the slack from this person.

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