Talisman

I’ve been pondering the characteristics of troubled and healthy families. Among the characteristics of healthy families are high self-worth of the family members; direct, clear and honest communication; flexible, human, appropriate, and malleable rules; and an open, hopeful link to society and others based on choice.

mandala1 by you.In light of these characteristics, I think that Tolstoy’s idea that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way is true. Because each person’s life experience is unique to them, and the way they receive and interpret these experiences also unique, it seems possible to decipher a person’s patterns only in an intimate, even one-on-one relationship. It can take years, and even then it’s hardly likely that one person can come to understand another. It’s more likely that, after much work, we may be able to understand ourselves. Jung said so and I also tend to agree with him. Lord knows that it seems to be a full time job for me to continue to gain personal insight. I often think that the best gift I can give to anyone else, therefore, is the gift of the possibility of true self consciousness. The only gift we really have to give is ourselves. As Jesus said, “let your light shine.”

Kicking the Habit

Last time I wrote about what your Thorn or mine said. Today I wonder, what was the Name of that Thorn, or the Wound it made? One of my big thorns was named “Unwanted.” Some people I know and love have told me that the names of theirs were “Alone” and “No Identity” and “Useless.” It’s a spiritual and psychological principle that we have to know there’s a problem before we can heal or cure it. “First remove the log from your own eye,” Jesus said, “and then you’ll see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” If we haven’t removed what distorts our perception of reality and truth, we may still compulsively try to heal our brother’s supposed blindness. Our own disability doesn’t stop us. Scary thought, isn’t it? We are just that compulsively other-oriented.

mandala2 by you.The thing is that all the knowledge and wisdom in the universe are available to us, even at our fingertips. We are blessed among so many previous generations of people, because we have Google, and YouTube (for starters). Why, you can watch just about anyone’s teaching on YouTube, or read transcripts or even whole books by Googling them. There’s really no excuse for the westerner to continue to be unconscious, a walking wounded refusing to become healed.

And yet, here we are, living in a nation with six percent of the world’s population, producing most of the world’s wealth, and having one of the highest standards of living in the world, and yet with one of the highest crime rates, highest teen pregnancy rates, highest illiteracy rates among post-industrialized countries, and highest depression and anxiety rates. What is wrong with this picture?

What is wrong, I think, is that we like to watch our families and real, whole people on television and in the movies, but we don’t want to do the hard character work of truly being in a family or being a real, whole person. Even when someone else or a circumstance or ten seem to point out a problem we’re having with functioning or reality testing, we resist light and truth and will argue our ways out of it. We are such creatures of habit. We are so set in our ways.

Habits are strong when they have had 20 or more years to develop. It’s impossible to have grown up in a mandala4 by you.troubled, discombobulated family of origin and then suddenly become a healthy, functioning, loving adult at age 21. Or even by age 31. One must have substantial help navigating through all the developmental phases one missed during the first 20+ years. If you’re lucky, a conscious, healthy spouse can offer re-parenting, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most loopy people pick mates who will perfectly re-create what their parents gave them. We all say we won’t do it, and that we didn’t do it, and we will argue against it, but the sad fact is that these things don’t just go away by themselves. As Saint Paul wrote, I know that what I want to do is right, but the doing of it isn’t in me, and even when I try to do it, I can’t do it: “Helpless wretch that I am! Who will deliver me?!” In other words, it’s a fantastic, desperate struggle.

So if you’re wounded in some significant way, having facts and information about how to be normal won’t help one bit. Only healing will make you able to benefit from facts and information. The wound cries out, and it will continue to ooze and blood cells and energy rush to it until it is healed, and the body can normalize. This is true for the physical body, and it’s true for the spirit. Put another way, as Jesus taught, “if the eye is dark, the whole body is dark; and oh, how great is that darkness.” Again, in Proverbs, it says “to the crooked, all things appear crooked; but to the straight, all things appear straight.” It’s all about the beholder, not the beheld.

Wake Up Call

How does healing arise? I think we have an Aha! moment. I think that something happens as we go through mandala5 by you.life numbly, and suddenly for a moment, we’re not numb or asleep or unconscious. Often, another person says something to us. A friend may suggest something. Or the pain finally becomes so great that we ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?”

Other times, the ache and pain of a broken soul or heart pulses away in our chests until tears seep out of our eyes, unbidden. We don’t know why, but we want and need to know why. And so we begin to search for answers, for relief for the pain. We want to fix what doesn’t appear right or good. We’re shocked that we are so unconscious, and have been living such a lie.

Many things can happen to wake us up, but when we do wake up, the message is clear and unequivocal: Something is wrong with this picture. We see in incongruency. We catch ourselves in a lie, or are caught lying. We deny reality or indisputable facts. We realize with a shock that others have lied to us, and are still lying to us. We see what we did to relieve our cognitive dissonance. We lied to ourselves, we lied to them, we joined in their lies. We’ve become no better than the very people we accused and even hated, the ones who done us wrong. We feel it in our bodies, that root of wrongness deep inside. And then we know, and our choices are between trying to get back to sleep, or being awake and in pain and being stuck in pain, or of getting relief for the pain.

I notice that most people, once alert to the fact that they have a problem, don’t go back to sleep exactly as they were before. The bigger the pain, the bigger the pain-killer, if a person chooses a pain-killer rather than healing. And so many do. These people throw themselves into all sorts of rationalizing activities and other compulsions to ward off the anxiety produced by insight. Or they blame others and fuss with them until they feel justified in leaving, or otherwise get the fix that leads them back to a state of truce with the Wound. This is why so many addicts fail to recover once they’re released from treatment centers. They take the first opportunity they get as sober people with tools in their hands, and they toss the tools aside and they redouble their efforts at killing the pain through addictions. That wound isn’t healed until it can be looked at squarely. And it’s oh-so-painful to look at, to recall to mind, to have one’s heart broken yet again.

mandala7 by you.The numbing and fleeing continue until the person gets tired of being a slave to that Wound. But just being tired of the wound guarantees nothing. Really, the idea of going all the way to nothingness, as Buddha suggested, or to dying (metaphorically) as Jesus suggested, is just about right. When one’s whole identity has been wrapped up in the Wound, it will indeed feel like annihilation or death to identify with anything other than Wound.

Case Study

I have a person named Amanda in my life. She was raised in one of the most unhinged environments I’ve seen outside of my child welfare and advocacy work. She was unwanted, unloved, the child of an abusive alcoholic and a personality-disordered basket case who required her caretaking throughout her childhood. Her early childhood was spent in trailer parks and temporary housing, and she identified herself as a transient, trailer-type person. This became who she was.

Amanda later had numerous opportunities to come into real, loving relationships with others who do like all real, loving people do, which is love others truly, act and speak honestly, be aware of themselves and others, and have boundaries and standards and aims. She saw permanence, reliability, and true love, and she wanted them all.

Amanda desperately wanted realness and love, but after some years of receiving it, it became apparent that she didn’t really want them when they required something of her. She wanted the appearance of realness and love, and all the benefits others would give her, but she didn’t want to change in actuality. To change means to do something different.

mandala6 by you.After several years of being truly loved, she struck out on her own. She alienated others and bred mistrust, fear, and dislike in everyone who actually loved her. She aligned herself with fake people. She became the worst best facsimile of “Trailer Trash.” When she became a mother, she moved every single year in the name of prosperity, dragging young children with her, continually moving up, up, up. She separated her children from healthy people and continued to value time with people and places where image was the most imporant thing.

What was Amanda’s tipping point, the thing that tipped the scale from “possibility of healing and real love” back to “not love”? I’ll tell you what. It was her Wound. One of her big Wounds was named “Trailer Trash.” The only antidote for “Trailer Trash” is found in what? Externalizing an inner self-concept—a big mistake—and outwardly pursuing whatever was not “Trailer Trash.”

She developed a spending addiction and hid stuff she bought so her husband wouldn’t know about it. She lied, she hid things from everyone. One day, I happened to catch her in a lie and in a rush of remorse, she suddenly told me that she had felt so excited and happy, even giddy, about buying a new dresser at a local furniture store. She thought that she needed and even deserved this dresser. The only problem was that she and her husband didn’t have the money for the dresser. In order to get it, she’d either have to charge it or delay gratification and save for it.

“I know I shouldn’t have done this, but I did it anyway. I charged it. And I lied to my husband about it” she confessed.

“And you knew that was wrong, and would betray more trust?”

“Yes. I knew. I had to have it anyway.”

I pondered a moment, and then I told her that it appeared that she was at a tipping point, and that if she didn’t do something about her error and begin to mend her ways right now, she would be tipped in the direction that would eventually land her exactly where she did not want to be, which was “Trailer Trash.”

mandala3 by you.And that’s exactly what happened. She’s now so far away from real love and esteem and healthy living that I know of no healthy people with ongoing relationships with her. Her intimates are people who are like her—no surprises there.

The way this worked, to put it in a formulaic way, was that one driving wound was called “Trailer Trash.” The particular pain that came from that particular wound was the pain of not being good enough in her own inner substance. But in her confusion, she mistakenly thought the wound was all about money and stuff—externals. She became confused and stayed that way, even when people like me tried to help. Our help did not help. In fact, eventually she bit the hand that fed her. That’s the way it works.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

She might have had some insight had she made and kept handy a list of “Trailer Trash” words and deeds. What does “Trailer Trash” say? What does “Trailer Trash” do?

  • Trailer Trash is transient; a home with wheels.
  • Trailer Trash is not respectable.
  • Trailer Trash is not safe when high winds, hail, or tornados come along.
  • Trailer Trash feels false.
  • Trailer Trash is judged by others.
  • Trailer Trash is poor.
  • Trailer Trash is never as good as a House.
  • Trailer Trash is too small.
  • Trailer Trash can be uncomfortable in the winter and summer.
  • Trailer Trash can be broken into, and doesn’t feel substantial.

These are some of the things that “Trailer Trash” meant to Amanda. Had Amanda been able to make use of her “Trailer Trash” list, whenever she felt her emotion rise, or became bull-headedly attached to an idea, such as the idea of Dresser, she might have been able to connect the dots between Dresser and Not Trailer Trash. How does this look? I’ll show you:

  • Dresser is substantial. It’s heavy. It has no wheels.
  • Dresser is pretty and expensive, therefore respectable.
  • Dresser is safe because it’s heavy and has mass.
  • Dresser is true: it is made of solid wood.
  • Dresser will be approved of others.
  • Dresser happens because I am a success.
  • Dresser is good enough, maybe even better!
  • Dresser is large.
  • Dresser feels good.
  • Dresser has good workmanship and is substantial.

Now we see how Dresser has the magical power of making Amanda Not Trailer Trash.

This is how it works. Please, I invite you to make your own list. The next time you feel that feeling in your mandala by you.solar plexus, or wherever you feel it. The next time you are outraged. The next time tears could shoot out of your eyes. The next time you lie to defend yourself. The next time you use another human being. The next time you dishonor your gift or the gift of others, or the sacrifice that was made: make a list. Ask your Wound its name. Find out how it looks. How it acts. How it feels and smells. How you feel when you are in it. How you imagine you’ll feel when you aren’t. What you imagine as the antidote—and make an antidote list, for the antidote is always just the opposite of the Wound.

And then look around you at all the magic talismans you’re using, rather than healing the wound. And please consider really  healing the wound. If you don’t heal the wound, it is a 100% spiritual and psychological certainty that you will pass the wound down to your own children, and perhaps to yet another generation, until someone along the line is brave enough and has a big enough heart and faith to do what you didn’t.

And why wouldn’t we really heal the wound?

23 responses

  1. And speaking of synchronicity … that book was mentioned to me recently by a reader of my blog, who noted wryly that Beah and I had gone to the same college, which was rather funny in that my college experience was one of my personal major sources of trauma. However, I would still choose that over soldiering in Sierra Leone.

  2. Have you ever read the book “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah, describing his experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. Talk about “losing ones’ soul” (I see that metaphorically, not literally, to be sure), he learned to be a cold killing machine, seeing as a child things adults find hard to imagine. Cocaine was rubbed into cuts on his arm, marijuana and other drugs were administered to keep him addicted. He went from fleeing violence roaming the country with other boys, then finally being captured and forced to fight at age 13. Beah had love, support, and people who could forgive without being judgmental, even as he threatened them and called them weak and ignorant. It’s a powerful story. Sorry this veers a bit from the topic, but I’m co-teaching a course now on children and war, and the idea of “losing part of ones’ soul” due to trauma reminded me of the many stories about children in horrific conditions we’ve encountered in that course. Children, and humans in general are resilient — but need love and support.

  3. That is a message I will be very open to reading about, Eve, and I am really looking forward to having my experience cleansed a bit by learning more about what should have happened vs. what actually did happen.

    If anything, it was useful as a reminder that, as wtih psychology or medicine or anything else, it’s important for the client to do some research and understand something about the process, regardless of what the process is. If I’d known more about what to expect, I would have taken myself out of the situation, or at least, I think I would have … the reality probably is that I would have done exactly the same thing I did, which was to become completely paralyzed with fear, but at least I would have known that it wasn’t the right experience to have had.

    I hope you do choose to write about your Thanksgiving experience … it gives so much to your readers when you model truthful consciousness for us. Well … I guess I shouldn’t speak for your readers as a whole, though I think most of us do feel that way.

  4. David, I’m sorry and also disturbed to read about your soul retrieval experience. I don’t think that a healer should be doing anything to anyone. Rather, I think a healer is a servant or helper at the most, a “hollow bone,” to refer back to that old Indian prayer I posted months ago when I was writing about the writer’s mandala, etc.

    The overall tone of the shamanism book is so much gentler than many healing books, which can be strident in their tones. Sick bodies need rest and peace and quiet, gentle care for recovery; how much more a sick soul? I would say that “go gently and reverently” was the main message I gleaned from the book.

  5. Heni, thank you for what you shared. It was particularly helpful because I’ve been
    wanting to lend the Hendrix book to a couple I see caught in their childhood patterns, which must inevitably lead them down a path they say they do not want to go down. Your mention of what the book did for you encouraged me to go ahead and give them the book.

    It interested me, too, to see how you linked one message or wound to the next. They do piggyback or follow one another sometimes, don’t they? Like electrical current running from one light to the next in a string of Christmas lights.

    I’ve found that looking for the source of a wound can be arduous. I’ve looked and looked before, and been unable to locate it, something like water-witching, hoping that a delicate willowy branch will lead me to that deep, underground well. Most of the time for me, timing has been everything. I’ll be aware of the symptom long before I understand its cause or root.

    I’m considering writing about what I’ve learned over Thanksgiving, which has been profoundly disturbing and yet liberating to me at the same time. Just days ago I wrote about an abiding sadness I’ve had on me for a few weeks, which I’d intended to get help looking into. Then I had some experiences Thanksgiving Day, and a dream that night, that gave me such insight it was shocking. It all led me straight to the source.

    However, I know that I wasn’t ready until now to see what I needed to see, because seeing what I needed to see involved not only looking into the past, but seeing something right under my nose that I didn’t want to see. It was about incurring a loss I didn’t want to incur, and living with a reality I did not want to live with. So, sometimes not being able to see a source in the past has, for me, also been tied to not wanting to see something in the present, either.

    I do think that sometimes it isn’t even necessary to see the source of a wound if one can get the wound healed without seeing sources. I’ve had that happen too. In the end it must depend on whether we need to know origins in order to fully heal, or whether our curiosity makes us pursue it, or whether we’re just more eager to move on.

    I am quite sure that if one needs to know a source and must know it, one will discover it by falling into it over and over again.

  6. Irene, I finally have a quiet moment to comment on your comment. First, I loved the mental image of the female teetering wildly on the fence. How I know that feeling! What a perfect image.

    Second… your fear of losing access to the darkness that is, in part, creative force, if you dispel the darkness altogether. I have had that same fear in the past as a writer and, even earlier, when I wrote poetry. I did lose some energy of a propelling sort when I dispelled some of my darkness. That energy did help me write two books. It also propelled me forward and upward in career circles. And it kept me in a holding pattern with regard to what I actually needed to be doing.

    I suppose I could take the view that what I was doing (circling, hovering, treading water, etc.) was what I needed to be doing, but I don’t think so now. I think the activities provided a way of avoiding the painful aloneness I would later feel once I quit what I was doing, which amounted to activity-as-companion. I wrote a poem about it the year I realized what was going on, and that poem is very telling. I may just dig it up and post it and show myself for what I was, and am.

    I do wistfully miss that fuel that fired me. But not enough to go back to it. Yet what will appear out of who I am now has not yet appeared, which is a different sort of holding pattern, isn’t it?

    I guess I said all that to say this: I know what you mean. I have no pat answer for that, either.

  7. Happy Pie Day, Eve … what a wonderful thought, the women of your family conspiring joyfully together in the kitchen to create the communion of a family meal.

    What struck me as particularly interesting about the book recommendation is the fact that I have actually worked with a shaman in the past and undergone a soul retrieval. However, I think it was not done the “right” way … it was done to me, rather than my being an active participant in the process. It was terrifying, though also interesting; I don’t agree with how the shaman chose to approach the process, but there is no question in my mind that he was a genuine mystic. He knew absolutely nothing about me except the fact that I was dangerously depressed, and yet during the soul retrieval while he was in his trance he told me several detailed pieces of information about myself which were completely true, including the fact that when I was seven, I’d been coerced to keep a family secret, and the stress of doing that had caused one of the fissures in my personality (or the loss of part of my soul).

    I could go on about this, but I will simply say that I found the experience to be traumatizing, and while the shaman’s intentions were benevolent, I experienced the soul retrieval as a form of assault. I have wondered, since then, what should have happened instead, and have thought about doing some further research or reading about shamanic work, but I’ve never done it. Evidently the time has come for me to learn more, and I’m grateful to have a good source of information.

  8. Eve,

    I haven’t been commenting because quite honestly I’ve been thinking and digesting all you’ve written. I have to say that I get so much fron your writing, but also from the wonderful people who comment here; Heni, David and all the others.

    Today I especially loved RG’s comment on marriage, “….you don’t need to find the right person, you need to be the right person.”

    I truly hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, finding you through this blog is one more reason to be thankful. Enjoy!

  9. Everyone, it is Pie Day at my house, the day when females from far and near gather in my kitchen and we bake and cook together. So I won’t be able to comment back to each person at this time.

    But I wanted to make an immediate comment to everyone who posted. I’m sure you will see what I see, and it pains my heart to see it: look at all the wounds we have named here. We’re just a handful of regular folks, much like folks you’d see at the library or pass at the grocery store or post office (well, unless you live out in the boondocks, like RG… do you even have grocery stores?). And yet look at how many of us grew up with such wounds. This is so sad to me. All of us were children who had to go through all those stages of development, and look how much we missed here and there along the way. When we needed whole parents to guide us, we instead had unwhole parents who were not healed themselves and who, surely without meaning to, left gaping wounds in their own children, just as they themselves had been somehow wounded.

    And even the most loving and conscious parent can still not heal every wound. Or else we’d be God, wouldn’t we?

    So I first just want to say that I’m carrying these things around with me today and pondering them. You all make my heart fill up with many feelings. And I’ll be back, because I am wowed by something each one said.

    And to David in particular… yes, I too thought it was exceptional that another reader who doesn’t know you well would have this impulse to recommend a book. And then I wanted to look into it, and did. What I like about this book is that it talks about soul loss. I really love the language the author uses, language of ancient practices, to express what textbook and clinical psychology or psychiatry would use other words for. And would diagnose. She teaches that shamanism believes that when we are traumatized, we lose a bit of our souls. A large part of ourselves, say a 4-year-old part, can flee away. And the shaman goes to retrieve it, with the client’s help. It is a wonderful book that opened a vista I hadn’t read expressed in quite these terms. It reminded me of an out-of-print work by two folks I consider Christian shamans, called “Healing the Wounded Spirit,” by John and Paula Sandford. Since “Christian” and “shaman” or “healer” don’t typically go together in evangelical circles, unfortunately these two were somewhat unpopular among Christians. But I learned a lot from them as a healer. This book on shamanism reminded me of that.

    The book dredged up for me some pain that I haven’t dealt with, or hasn’t presented itself to me. I have been carrying it in my heart now for some weeks, and it’s with me every day. When I turn my mental eyes toward it, I can easily cry. I ask it, “what’s your name? can you speak to me? what do you need me to do to heal you?”

    But I have no answer. I will probably go in the next week to an energy psychologist I know who has been very effective with immovable inner objects in the past. I really feel that I would like to curl up in someone’s lap and be held and rocked, and just stay there. I have not had that. Maybe ever. I feel myself needing it so badly, so this is probably a very, very small and young part of myself.

    That a book would give me that gift (and a reader, so thank you, Kind Reader) is wonderful. It was also calming to consider bits of soul going off, another way of looking at neurosis or other pains, or even the idea of having multiples. I very much agree with and embrace the idea of original wholeness and having that whole diminished through various means.

    So anyway. I will get to points where I believe and feel I am very much robustly whole, only to be led into a place where I can suddenly see something new. This book happened to lead me to something new that I’ll now get to work with. Perhaps the book will do nothing for you; it may well be that it was intended for me. Or perhaps we’ll both get a gift from it. Please let us know.

  10. Mine was “Not Good Enough.” After all these years the temptation is still there to wear it. I’m glad to say that I almost always resist the temptation now. A supernatural experience brought the last bit of healing after a long, gradual process.

    Eve: “Now we just have a real relationship. It’s not idealized and it’s not the Great Romance. ”

    Thanks for putting into words something that I have not been able to. That’s exactly how my wife and I are. In watching my parents (two marriages for my mother and three for my father) I was determined not to believe that Miss Right was out there somewhere just waiting to make everything good and “make” me happy. I wanted to marry somebody who admitted her own imperfections and was willing to adjust to mine–just as I was willing to admit mine and adjust to hers. The beautiful thing is that we have both grown and improved in each other’s company.

    One of my mottoes is that to have a great marriage you don’t need to FIND the right person, you need to BE the right person.

    Deb, I’m sorry for your pain. Please don’t take what I have written as a judgment on you or your marriage. I do not know you or your situaton. I do hope for the best for you. I hope and pray that you and your husband find a way to work out your problems, but it’s really none of my business. I have known lots of divorced couples, and it rarely results in more happiness for the parties involved, unless the situation is completely intolerable for one or both people.

    I would urge you, as a concerned stranger, not to rush into a new relationship–not until you reach some level of healing for yourself. Nobody can make a relationship work who is unable to live alone successfully. I hope that I have not offended you or caused you any more pain. I often say way too much.

  11. Eve, thank you … I just ordered the book. I have to say, I don’t know whether to be more amazed that a reader of your blog wanted to recommend a book to me through you, or that you took the time and care to read it prior to doing so. For both of those things, I am very grateful; the curious benevolences of the blogging community are remarkable to me.

    I will be very interested to read the book, and also curious to see how the exercises turn out for me … exercises of this type often turn out “the wrong way” for me, which used to upset me a great deal but which I now try to recognize as useful information that I can work with, or take to my therapist, or take to my blog readers for input. There is no such thing as negative information, I keep telling myself … all information is worth having, even if it is troubling. And so it is useful to me, though disturbing, to note that sitting and holding the idea of anything beloved produces a physical sensation of intolerable pain and grief, and to say to myself that I hate it the thing I love brings a sensation of relief. This is not new information to me, but thinking about it in this context makes me realize that this paradoxical response is probably something I need to make a greater effort to recognize as information, rather than as something bad … though it sure as hell makes for a confusing Truth compass.

  12. I just realized that the John Welwood quote that I chose didn’t really relate to what I meant it to, which was the idea of choosing a partner to recreate your childhood relationship with your parents in order to continue working on early wounds. Now that I think about it, that’s Hendrix’s concept of Imago.

    But you knew that. 🙂

  13. “Most loopy people pick mates who will perfectly re-create what their parents gave them. ” This reminds me of John Welwood, who said, “Most people in our society share a peculiar belief: We imagine that we should be able to establish a rich and satisfying relationship with someone we love even if we have never learned to relate to ourselves in a rich, satisfying way. We imagine that a successful relationship largely depends on finding the right person and doing the right things. We often don’t see that how we relate to another is an expression of how we relate to ourselves, that our outer relationships are but an extension of our inner life, that we can only be as open and present with another as we are with ourselves.”

    For the first couple of years of my marriage, I was not very present. I used a lot of escapist techniques like compulsive reading (since we had given away our TV). Finally my husband wanted to separate, because he realized he was having meaningful conversations with a mutual friend that he should have been having with me. That was a terrifying thought to me; I didn’t want to be alone nor feel rejected. We ended up going to therapy together, and along with that we read Welwood as well as Harville Hendrix.

    I woke up, at least a little. I don’t know what that wound is called; perhaps it’s something like Your Feelings Don’t Matter, which leads to Why Not Just Be Numb. Related to this numbness and lack of consciousness, I don’t have very clear memories of many things prior to my kids being born, even of college no less my childhood. So it’s hard to figure out what the source of this wound might be.

  14. Indeed, why wouldn’t we heal the wound? When I imagine living outside the cage of the Wound/s, it seems an empty, cold, blank, white space – colourless, unknown, and therefore undesirable. I don’t see creativity dwelling there. I’m afraid I’ll loose access to the darkness that is creative – the Struggle.

    Whilst I write this, I can also see that making things conscious – putting them in the light – does not actually make them invisible, as my fears suggest. Mm.

    I know my thorns are ‘unwanted’ and ‘not good enough’ from previous work. I’ll have to do some more thinking and writing – I know a deep sense of worthlessness has pervaded enough of my life – I’m sick of how it has effected my happiness and my career, and I’ve been focusing on it all year. As you said, being over it is only half the way there. But I think my paintings often tell me a story here, and I believe things are shifting because of how I feel about them, and what I see happening in them.

    I felt a particular light go on when you wrote how anxiety is produced by insight. I used to get headaches; these days there are times when I wake up anxious or painfully fearful, because at some level I guess I know things will have to change. But I’m looking forward to it, I hope to persist. Because that’s it, isn’t it? Persistence, constant attention to self, constant awareness of actions, constantly looking from a position just outside oneself, at oneself. But it can be so easy to be distracted in living life, or just going blank.

    And Eve, I’m still thinking on your question from last time, about getting to the ‘gold standard’ when it’s not easy that particular day. So far, I think I realise I’m coming at it from the outside in, rather than the other way. Like putting on a smile until you feel it. It can work, but its not solid. I want to feel that place inside that you speak of, but I’m not sure I’m prepared to see it can live there. Remember that knocking on the door I once spoke of? I know its a multi-faceted projection, and I’m externalising it by giving it an image outside of myself. But if one has a thorn that expounds worthlessness, how can one admit that something so pure could exist inside? This also has some heavily preconceived judgments of mine tagged on to it, and I know the usual replies (i.e. ‘God loves you just the way you are’… I’m sorry, I feel like puking). Sorry if this offends anyone. It’s just that the ‘naming’ of these energies sets all my anti-religion stuff off, so I mostly reject it. Yeah, I know, baby and the bath water.

    (image of teetering female, one foot on narrow fence, swaying in wildly exaggerated manner..)

  15. Deb, I could find more difficult topics. Don’t worry, I’m working up to those! Perhaps by Christmas we’ll all be lying under the tree drunk, singing German beer-drinking songs, with snot running down our faces. ;o)

    Well, Deb listen here. You’re lovable. It’s just that simple. Right now you suppose that a man will make you whole, but it’s your inner man and your inner do-er and getter who needs some attention. Jung himself, that great man, got confused about it and had an affair and even brought his mistress to live with he and his wife, who was fully cognizant and working on her own wholeness as well. He knew that he had externalized what inner work he had to do with his anima, but he erred anyway. He later regretted it, and of course in that day everyone was scandalized and lost respect for him. But I find his writing from that time, and the anguish he expressed, as lovable and showing so much humanity. In his memoir, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” he writes about this and it’s my favorite book of his, more favored than any of his theoretical books.

    I had a time in my life when I truly believed I couldn’t be happy either, without my husband. I relied on him absolutely because my own relationship with my animus was DEAD. Yes, it was. Then one day he appeared to me in a dream, and in a series of dreams for the next 18 months. He had a name and he talked to me, and I even drew him a few times. Those were some of the happiest times of my life, by the way: my relationship with my male side. Crazy, huh?

    Well, all hell broke loose after that in my real-life relationship with my husband. He started courting his anima and I’ll be darned if he didn’t literally put on an apron and start trying to bake and cook IN MY KITCHEN. This externalizing is just what we do to try to get to where we need to go. Many times I’ve wondered if my marriage would survive. And, but for faith and sheer stubbornness, it probably wouldn’t have.

    Now we just have a real relationship. It’s not idealized and it’s not the Great Romance. The Great Romance we carry within ourselves as much as we can. And we love one another. And we are aware, and it’s painful. So much more painful than when we weren’t, when we needed each other to be what we were not ourselves.

    So you see, you’re not the only one. Marriage can be a lot of things, including a living hell. As can be separating or divorcing. As Mary Englebright says, “wherever you go, there you are.”

    What I see in you and your writing is so much realness. You are completely lovable even in parts where you loathe yourself and seem to think you should be perfect or different. I really care for you and I’m sorry you’re in pain. I sometimes have carried pain consciously for a long, long time before the healing came. I know what that feels like and it’s excruciating. One of the few things that helps is knowing you’re acceptable, treasured, and loved by someone. Even one person will help that way. I hope you’ll keep in mind that many people do care for the parts of you that you bring to your blog and comments, which probably is the part you don’t get to share sometimes.

    Finally, being alone for the first time in my life after I was conscious was the most terrifying experience of my life. I’ll write about it if you like. There’s nothing like turning the spotlight on oneself. I’ll do that and maybe it will give you hope.

    ???

  16. David, what a thoughtful comment. I agree that my example was rather simple. But Amanda wouldn’t have seen what she’d done except for the fact of being caught in a lie and confronted by someone who values truth-telling, which comes from wholeness and plenty (among other traits).

    Healing or health, and false appearances of it, can be as alike as Fool’s Gold, that’s true. But there’s always a tell-tale witness to reality and truth in there, somewhere.

    I’ve been reading an interesting book by Sandra Ingerman called “Soul Retrieval.” Ingerman is both a licensed therapist and a shaman. This book was recommended to me by another reader to recommend to you about a week or so ago. When I looked it up, I thought I should read it too, before recommending it to you.

    Now I recommend it to you, in part because of what I’m about to share. Ingerman suggests a simple but reliable guided meditation. She says to sit quietly and think of something you love, truly love. Hold it in your mind’s eye and feel how your body feels. Say to yourself, “I love this.” And sit with the feeling you have, including the physical sensation and its location.

    Get up and do something else, and after awhile, return to where you were. Conjure up that same image of the beloved. (Yes, even if it’s ice cream or a particular painting you own or a book or your old teddy bear). Now say to yourself, “I hate —.” Find out where you feel that lie in your body. How it feels. How you know it’s a lie.

    Many different types of practitioners believe that the truth is always available and knowable and that a part of us has an absolute truth compass that points due Truth, always. I believe this, too. I also liked this practical advice, because if a person practices it, he can tell the healing path from the talisman one. Even when the compulsion doesn’t feel like a compulsion and is socially acceptable.

    Another book I’m re-reading simultaneously with a view to giving it to someone else to read is Harville Hendrix’s “Giving the Love That Heals.” This is a real hands-on book of a practical nature, particularly for parents.

    Hendrix tells readers that if you don’t have a spouse who will help you recover, get a friend who will. It is essential to be in community with people. I don’t think that every impulse toward getting a friend is a mistake. I think that we all need others. And to isolate oneself by thinking that we’re too needy or too false or too anything by wanting, needing, and getting a friend of some sort is perhaps to re-create the very wound we’re trying to overcome.

    I hope you will go easy on yourself. It’s clear that you have a wonderful wit and intelligence, humor and are humble and have a lot of insight. I’m sad that you sometimes are hard on yourself. But I know if you continue on your journey and stick with yourself [yourselves, I want to say ;o) ], you’ll make it just fine.

    I dunno why I went off that way, but I did. In other words, ❤ . That’s a heart.

  17. My wound is worthless and alone and really Eve, you couldn’t find a more difficult topic? I had to think about this one while I went out shopping to buy something to make me feel worth while. I never did buy anything and now I’m sitting sipping a glass of wine.

    I told my husband today that I don’t want to try anymore, that I’m done and now I feel so sad and so alone and so worthless because I couldn’t make my marriage work.

    And when that happens I think I have to get back on the horse again, attract a man because then I’ll be worth something. I believe that without a man, I’m worthless. I feel like I’m back in freaking high school.

    I’m a single mother again. I’m older and no wiser though. I know we’re born alone and we die alone, I’ve seen it, I’ve been with people as they lay dying, I understand it but I still believe that someone, somewhere will make me feel not alone. Even though I know I need to do that for myself. I just don’t know how.

    The funny thing is I spent so much of my marriage alone. My husband was gone a good deal of the time but I had my kids with me. But now the kids are gone and I am alone.

    I think I need to be alone but it feels so scary and lonely. It’s what I wanted and now that I have it, it scares the crap out of me.

    Anyway, I’m rambling now Eve, time to go. I’ll think some more on this.

  18. I think this becomes particularly tricky when the talisman is something far less obvious than (as in your example) wound-driven consumerism. It’s fairly simple to see that purchasing an object will not fill a void — Amanda herself saw that it was wrong, admitted she couldn’t afford it, and that the purchase of it was not helpful to her relationship with her husband; the guilt was present and near the surface.

    It’s much harder for those whose talisman against feeling useless is to do too much for other people, for example. There is rarely any guilt associated with that. There is rarely any censure associated with it. The secret motivation behind it can be easily concealed, from others and from the self.

    The more conscious a person is, I think, the more difficult the process becomes. Am I trying to make friends because it’s an emotionally healthy thing to do, or am I attempting to acquire a talisman against my wound of Scapegoat/Pariah? It’s probably both; the imitation of healthy behavior for reasons that are not entirely clean. And yet, to heal that wound requires a self-loving behavior of thinking I deserve to have friends. But at the same time, the friendships I acquire are definitely in “antidote” category, and I brandish them as proof to myself and to others that the wound is healing, when of course it isn’t.

    For some wounds, I think the healing and the talisman are dangerously difficult to tell apart.

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