January 30 2013
I write this date and remark to Joel how this month has flown and he says, it’s been so great it’s hard to know how to measure it.
Why do we even try? To measure it, I mean. It seems to me that the inherent problem with measuring – or any sort of quantifying – is that the answer is never adequate enough; we measure and then we compare. For example, a month has gone by since we arrived in Provence and the moment I say that I’m immediately trying to measure it in terms of how much time have left here in the hopes of discovering that it is more. Well, there you have it. I always want more. Of course, if it had been a rotten month I’d want to measure it so that it came up less. Absolutely absurd.
Even more absurd is that I’m writing about this instead of writing the harder thing; that which follows on from the last post. Let me digress a little more. I received a lovely email in response to the last post in which the writer said, “The difficult, ugly and beautiful are often entwined in ways that can’t - maybe shouldn’t - be unraveled.” I agree with her, in terms of the necessity of accepting the flawed nature of reality as it exists, instead of how we think it should be or want it to be.
However, in terms of personal evolution, while it is necessary to accept that we are, and will always be, works in progress, nonetheless it is also necessary to unravel the ugly and difficult so that they no longer warp the beautiful, nor hide in its shadow.
My “ugly,” (or one of many, I’m sure) of ‘rage’ which came rearing to the fore a few days ago and of which I spoke in the last blog, has been unraveling for some time. Yet I see now, that until this week I’ve only let it unravel so far, giving it a little lip service before winding it back around the core of my nature.
So here’s the beauty of making a commitment to healing ourselves and each other: once we have articulated the wound, out loud, to another human being, we free the space to allow the healing to begin. (Shame being the thing that takes up all the space.) It’s a bit like when you get a deep cut; first you stitch it, then you put on a dressing. Most of us when we are psychically or emotional cut will take those first two steps but not the final one, the one that is necessary for total healing i.e., the step of taking the dressing off (or the defense/mask) and letting the barely knit-together cut get fresh air.
Remember when you were a kid and your parent said it was time to take the plaster off your scraped knee and you were terrified because maybe it wasn’t healed and would start to bleed again? That’s how vulnerable we feel when we take the defense/mask off our emotional cuts: we are always afraid we aren’t ready to be exposed, that the skin hasn’t healed over enough and we’ll get hurt in the same place.
My ‘rage’ is a defense against the pain of feeling I am not worthy of being held, unless it is sexually. I’ve known this for many years, but it wasn’t until this week that I knew it down in the subcutaneous layer of my being.
As most of you know by now, I was adopted as a 2 month-old baby (and it’s right around here that I can hear my adoptive mother shaming me to just “get on with it”) having spent those first months in a post war hospital. I must have been held by nurses, but nurses, like my blood mother, came and went. I was then adopted by two emotionally crippled people. My adoptive mother obviously must have ‘held’ me as an infant and yet I have no memory of her ever holding me. Whatever unexplored wounds she lived with did not allow her to show warmth and affection. My adoptive father, with whom I felt a deep attraction, also never held me. In hindsight I came to realize that he and I held a spiritual attraction for each other that neither of us was equipped to grow, and so the attraction carried only a frisson of sexuality, which my father never abused. The price for his good behavior was that he had to remain distant from me, both physically and emotionally. My father was always withdrawn and no matter how hard I tried to get his attention, I never succeeded.
We are all “patterned” by our childhoods. All of us. Our mothers and fathers represent all women and men in our little worlds. So, being heterosexual it would follow that I would always choose distant men and that I would take into my adult life the misconception that in order to be held by a man I must have sex with him.
All of this, as you our readers know, is psychology 101. What becomes a little trickier to see is how we build our defenses against the pain of those misconceptions and how those defenses end up ensuring that those misconceptions become reality…the very reality we originally misconceived and the one we fear the most. Continuing to use my own story as an example let me explain.
The loneliness and unworthiness that I felt as a child never being held was, once I became a teenager, superficially ameliorated by having sex. And so I had a lot of it. With a lot of men. But underneath the quick fix I still felt worthless and I began to get angry as a way of defending against the loneliness of being unworthy. Being angry felt stronger and while indulging in it I could blame everyone else for not giving me what I wanted…to be held. But who wants to hold an angry person? Circle complete.
Here’s how the circle of negative energy looks:
As I said earlier, the way to healing is to share these discoveries with someone capable of loving. In my case, I had healed enough on the surface levels (thanks
to sobriety and a wonderful therapist) to be able to choose Joel, a man capable of loving. So Joel has been holding me a lot this week, which has made me feel worthy and therefore not angry and therefore Joel not only does not retreat, but holds me some more.
Here’s how the circle of positive energy looks:
I realize that’s a lot of unraveling, maybe more than some of you may have wished to read at this moment in time. Yet it is my sincere wish that by unraveling in front of you, it no longer is all about ‘me’ but connects to some of you in the places where you are feeling frayed.