Broken

December, January, and February are terrible months for me. They are months I spend nearly all my energy on necessary enslavement to seasonal demands that call on my most inferior functions to step up and do their duty. I do it every year with the peevishness of a colicky baby, but this particular year I’ve felt it might kill me. I’ve dreamed of escapes from death and death-defying acts, and within the past month events have occurred that have made me look at ideas of loss and irreparable brokenness and goneness.

Since the theft of my billfold last month, more things have inexplicably gone missing around my house. In addition, two family heirlooms that have survived three generations have been broken. One, a clock, belonged to my grandfather; the other, an etched glass bud vase, to my grandmother. Coming on the heels of the stolen wallet and other missing items, these were powerful losses. Though I have made half-hearted protests against these fateful events, I knew it was useless to resist the brokenness. I knew because of my experience with the theft of my billfold. When I discovered my billfold had been stolen, I felt quite calm as soon as I knew for sure that it had, in fact, been stolen and not misplaced. Stolen in that case meant it will not return. Stolen meant “it’s gone.”

Sometimes broken means “it’s gone,” too. Sometimes even if you can repair or glue it, you know it will never be the same again and that the life of the object is over. Its heirloom quality and the energy it carried for the ancestors is gone. I knew this when my grandmother’s etched vase was broken, and I threw it in the trash with despair. Looking back on my action, I feel regret, for I owed the vase something better than that. I owed that vase the respect of everything it had carried for my grandparents, parents, and myself. But I tossed it into the trash can because I am myself so full of despair these days, because I am so brittle and broken lately.  My ego life is broken, my past way of living is broken, years during which I truly thought I knew what I was doing and believed in myself and the goodness and rightness of so many of my decisions. My ego, traipsing about through life looking (and being) so successful. Just as empty as a cracked vase, as useless as a clock that can’t keep ticking. Broken beyond repair.

The useful life of these things has ended. My ancestors speak: “Time to move on,” they say. “What happened before is broken forever. Move on.”

23 responses

  1. Eve,

    Job’s spouse and friends (alleged) berated him to DO something. Cinderella (a feminine, fairy take-ized Job??) wasn’t exactly on the “making my million next week” career path. Yet, to both came The Mystery, who, particularly with Job, neither justified nor rationalized what had happened, and yet it was enough for Job.

    I’ve heard Cinderella described as a “Shadow” character/aspect, which may be, but I think she, and definitely Job, portray the inferior function after the collapse or passing of the other three functions. Hell, you don’t have to look too hard to see the collapse of the primary function on a national/societal level in this country.

    In any case, I was only trying to make the distinction between consciously choosing to be still, even though it sucks, when the situation calls for it, vice actively choosing to remain in a place whose time has passed, the ego demanding some satisfaction from it—tears from a rock. The former, though painful, is wisdom personified, the latter, though painful, is childishly neurotic. I’ve tasted both and in that stillness it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference.

    It’s funny, physiologically speaking, people forget, or never knew, that one does not get stronger by exercising. The exercise actually tears down the muscle you have. It is in the recovery that new, stronger muscle is built, which could not have taken place if the old muscle hadn’t been torn down/damaged first. This is the natural cycle of the body. Compare that to the “unlimited growth” hypothesis our economic system—home ownership prices in particular—is built upon.

    “The problem of the hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand how the sickening and insane tragedies of this vast and ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar bind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source. He beholds the face of the father, understands—and the two are atoned. In the Biblical story of Job, the Lord makes no attempt to justify in human or any other terms the ill pay meted out to his virtuous servant…When the Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind, He makes no attempt to vindicate His work in ethical terms, but only magnifies His Presence, bidding Job to do likewise on earth in human emulation of the way of heaven: “Gird up thy loins now like a man; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayst be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold everyone that is proud and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then I will also confess unto thee that thine own hand can save thee.” There is no word of explanation, no mention of the dubious wager with Satan described in chapter one of the Book of Job; only a thunder-and-lightning demonstration of the fact of facts, namely that man cannot measure the will of God, which derives from a center beyond the range of human categories…Nevertheless, to Job himself the revelation appears to have made soul-satisfying sense. He was a hero who, by his courage in the fiery furnace, his unreadiness to break down and grovel before a popular conception of the character of the All Highest, had proven himself capable of facing a greater revelation than the one that satisfied his friends. We cannot interpret his words of the last chapter as those of a man merely intimidated. They are the words of one who has seen something surpassing anything that has been said by way of justification…For the son who has grown really to know the father, the agonies of the ordeal are readily borne; the world is no longer a vale of tears but a bliss-yielding, perpetual manifestation of the Presence.” (Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 147-8)

    Lastly, there is this:

    “This entire winter Mars, planet of action and activities, has been retrograde. The result is we’ve had difficulty moving about, holding objects, having direction, maintaining energy. As projects stalled, clarity of purpose became unavailable. Some of us, paddling upstream with no shore in sight, have experienced strange body aches and pains and subtle penetrating headaches.”

    http://web.nightlightnews.com/OverviewfortheMonth/WeeklyHoroscopes/index.html

    • Librarian, you have an uncanny knack for writing something in the same vein as the one I’m thinking. I’ve just come on to post another article and you’ve said in part, in your own way, pretty much what I’ve come on to write about: that staying in the still or arid place is a conscious choice, while regressing to a place where one seeks what is broken and irreplaceable is often what one is unconsciously driven to (still also a choice–one that shows lack of courage, in my thinking).

      Thank you for your comments and for the information about Mars. Yes… I sense that the war-like, action planet is strangely inert.

    • Also, there is always a safe place here if you need a vacation to the south. We have a lovely little cottage that we named for Saint Raphael, the healer. I mean it when I say you can come any time and stay as long as you like.

  2. I became homeless quite suddenly this past month. My husband lost his tiny mind and locked me out of our house. My daughter and I ended up staying with neighbors for awhile. It was freeing, having so few possessions, only what I could carry. That being said, I am glad to be back in my own home. I have a new appreciation for what women who are forced to leave in the middle of the night go through.

    I dreamed the other night that my identity was stolen. All of my money was left in my wallet but every single card was taken. I’m going to have to do some thinking and some writing on that one.

    As for the woman, I don’t know how she did it either. I suppose you really have no choice but to move forward. To stay is just another kind of death.

    • Deb, apparently he has found you, for he left a comment here, which I deleted since tiny minded people are not welcome here (read the fine print, mister) and you are my friend.

      There is no better person to show you who you are than a loved one who has become an enemy. Keep going and keep your head up. I’m sure I speak for all of your regular readers when I say we love you.

  3. I recently edited an interesting book by a Himalayan mystic who put forth an idea I really liked … that in order to come closer to merging with the Divine, the Self must first invest in ego up to the hilt, and pursue whatever the ego wants with complete wholehearted abandon … because if there is nothing to lose, and nothing to offer up, then there is no price, no risk, no fair exchange when the moment comes to choose growth or stagnation. I kind of found myself wishing I was at that point of broken pride and shattered illusions of dreams. I don’t think I’ll get there in this lifetime; I’m on an earlier part of the path, I think. Maybe next time.

    But in a weird way I envy you your desolation. I hope someday to be broken in that way … in the way that Hopkins so eloquently describes in The Windhover :

    And blue-bleak embers, ah, my dear —
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

    • David, how interesting that a Himalayan mystic would come to the same conclusions as those of analytical psychology and Christianity. Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, by itself. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit.” This is a rather simple and straightforward idea to comprehend rationally, but the experience of it is excruciating. I’ll be writing more about it (with theory to shore up my personal experience), but really… it’s like endless psychological and spiritual torture.

      These lines you shared are powerful. “Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.” What one must do to get the gold…

  4. Eve,

    What you are in right now, is it the stillness of allowing the wind and sand to strip away what is not, or no longer, necessary; or is it the remaining of trying to extract a result or waiting for something that is long past and gone? It’s a fine line.

    “…the characteristic experience of the woman is having to endure something—that this tolerance, this ability to endure, is the prime requirement. The man has to endure only moments of pain and struggle and difficulty.” — Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation, p.153

    I ask for you, not for me.

    • Librarian, thank you for your questions. They have always done something for me; they’re like some kind of catalyst. I appreciate that you’ll ask.

      I’m not sure what I am in right now. I have some ideas I’m thinking about. But the feeling quality is one of writhing or like being alive and twisting on a spit, over a fire. Torturous, slow and endless in that part of me that perceives this. I’ve been reading about parts of this experience in Jung (as part of my regular assigned reading), so at least I’m not in the dark totally. I do have the glow of the fire. ;o)

      But… is it stillness? Yes, in a way. But there’s no wind and sand. As I wrote, it’s more like coals and flesh stripping away down to the bone, the bone going next, and only God knows what will be left.

      In some part, am I waiting for something that is long past and gone? I don’t think so, but perhaps I’m unconscious to it. I don’t dream of going back; I am fairly certain that I did go back and am at the point of coming forth again, but it seems there is nothing to come forth with. There isn’t energy to come out. There’s not energy to go back–what’s back there is gone forever, a wasteland (even though in terms of ego it is anything but a wasteland).

      Joseph Campbell helps here. The ability to endure is the thing for a woman, is it? I can see that. The character requirement is to endure without becoming embittered or numbing oneself somehow. I simply had no idea how long my own personal endurance race would be. It seems interminable.

  5. Dear Eve,

    Maybe you are tired. Maybe you feel weary. When I’m exhausted nothing makes since. I’m sorry about your lost items but you will live in symbolic time better but what are you saying about your writing? Eve, you are an exquisite author. You must get some rest and you will remember that! Have you written any books that we might buy? I often mean to ask you.

    But where is the despair coming from you, Eve, and what can we your friends offer. I want to reach out and tell you that initially it was your website that engaged me but that was just a beautiful frame around the essence which is you.

    Now, you must ready for a good nights rest. Nice warm p.j.’s, a warm mist humidifier, maybe read John O’Donohue and repeat the great mystic’s Julian’s words: And all will be well. And all will be perfectly well. And you can read a new post from When Every Day Matters
    Dear Eve,

    Maybe you are tired. Maybe you feel weary. When I’m exhausted nothing makes since. I’m sorry about your lost items but you will live in symbolic time better but what are you saying about your writing? Eve, you are an exquisite author. You must get some rest and you will remember that! Have you written any books that we might buy? I often mean to ask you.

    But where is the despair coming from you, Eve, and what can we your friends offer. I want to reach out and tell you that initially it was your website that engaged me but that was just a beautiful frame around the essence which is you.

    Now, you must ready for a good nights rest. Nice warm p.j.’s, a warm mist humidifier, maybe read John O’Donohue and repeat the great mystic’s Julian’s words: And all will be well. And all will be perfectly well.

    Here’s my newest post. Read it and know you are one of us and sometimes that’s what really is at the core of our suffering. http://www.wheneverydaymatters.com/?p=87

    With compassion for Eve,
    MJ

  6. Your posts so often leave me speechless. I feel sometimes incapable of adding anything or commenting because what you write is so deeply personal. Sometimes it feels that I’m invading your privacy:)

    I think the energy is always there, the voice. I know sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own shit that I can’t hear it. I never voice out loud or in my head, “what else could possible happen?” because I usually get a very clear answer to that question:) Something else always happens. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly deal with more, at the moment of defeat, when I stop looking for answers…they come. I agree losing everything can be liberating.

    • Alida, your first paragraph tells me that I am, if nothing else, learning to write as I’ve wanted to write and intended to write. This is a good thing for me. If you feel like you’re reading my diary, then finally my soul is coming through. I’m strangely grateful for that, so thank you for the feedback.

      I chuckled when I read “something else always happens.” Yes, it surely does!

      Now that I’m reading the words “losing everything” twice in a row, I’m thinking that I should be grateful that my own experience of losing everything (which I have experienced three times now at deeper and deeper places… I will write more about that later) hasn’t, in fact, required me to lose everything. I know that some people do lose everything in reality. It could happen to anyone. It makes me cover my face in awe.

  7. I met a woman not long ago. She was with her son in the hospital. They had come from Rwanda. “Before or after the genocide?” I asked. After she said. Her husband was murdered, a machete cut to the chest. I said it must have been so hard to leave everything behind, all that she knew. She said it wasn’t hard. Once she lost everything, she was free.

    • Deb, thank you for sharing this. It puts my life in perspective. I can see that a person is free after losing everything. This is a truth. The question is, free for what? This woman had some kind of strength of character in order to move forward consciously. Not everyone makes that choice.

      How are you? I’ve been thinking about you.

  8. The wind? Yes it was the wind. Barely noticeable at first (almost a distraction like a background noise) but as I continued to read, sure enough, it was growing in strength. Okay I thought, what does that mean? When I read, “My ancestors speak. Time to move on they say, What happened before is broken forever. Move on.” And “follow the energy.” I saw you adrift in a small boat (actually a skiff) without a rudder or oars; but what a nice sail. It was furled and only needed to be loosed and then tied off. A large gust filled the sail and snapped the lines taut and shoved the skiff. Which would it be, white knuckles with gritted teeth, or a series of clearing breathes, saying I am here. I am alive. Perhaps there is a power at work here for my good. The hell that comes our way has a way of helping us (in its twisted way) to see how the many seemingly disjointed and torn pieces of our life experiences have brought us to a place of despair and exhaustion. Really a type of death with the “option” of new birth. A renewal that most times requires our cooperation. When things are broken, speak the truth of your hurt. Keep moving when you can.
    The wind is even stronger now!

  9. Hi Eve, this is me waving to you from just over the other side of the forest. I feel a knowing, slightly sad smile spread over my face, and an understanding. I’m sorry about your broken heirlooms.

    For me, dreams tell me the foundations I thought I was on seem to be being washed off what I thought were solid stumps. Now I am walking with nothing, my possessions gone. But apparently, the good news is I have always had a pilot’s license that I have never used!

    So it’s time to move on? It’s the waiting for the right way to make itself apparent that creates anxiety, but it feels okay to me to trust that we’ll get there in the end. Your quote to “Follow the energy” is a very timely reminder.

    And Librarians words and poems were a gift too. I sat and read the poems out aloud to myself. Very moving.

  10. Ohhhhh. Arrrg. That is the sound of me groaning. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved items. Heirlooms have such magic. Their loss is sad. : (

  11. Eve, welcome to the days of Job:

    “This is a terrible moment in the life of an intelligent man. He now sees that his level of consciousness, his perspective on life, will not support him. He has explored discipline and self-consciousness only to find them a dead end. This exploration is absolutely essential in one’s evolution, and the man who has not trodden that road is not eligible for the moment of despair that is also the moment of redemption and enlightenment. It is the very best man who suffers this Hamlet crisis. Lesser men take refuge in guilt at their inadequacy, or blame their environment, or find yet another set of windmills to vanquish— anything but face the terror of seeing that three-dimensional consciousness is not bearable, no matter how finely developed it is. It is a compliment of the highest order when a man finds that he cannot go farther and that his life is an irredeemable tragedy. His ego consciousness is stalemated, and this stalemate is the only medicine that will drive him out of the Hamlet tragedy and inspire him into a new consciousness. A fault of this magnitude cannot be repaired, but can only be healed by finding a whole new level of consciousness from which to function. If one were a genius the process would be inspirational, but for most of us it is experienced as the torture of the end of the rope. This divine/hellish point is the critical moment that can make or break the rest of a man’s life.” (Robert A. Johnson, Transformation: Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness, p. 54-6)

    “It is in this ordeal that the hero may derive hope and assurance from the helpful female figure, by whose magic (pollen charms or power of intercession) he is protected through all the frightening experiences of the father’s ego-shattering initiation.” (Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 130-1)

    Nightmare of Flightless Birds

    Out
    the window it went
    the defenestration
    of all you had ever known
    or believed
    you had known
    leaving you
    with a lifetime of memories
    and experiences
    that now equaled
    exactly nothing
    their relation
    to the world and you
    cut
    and meaningless.
    And in that darkness
    standing
    before the empty
    and open window
    reflecting back
    what was no longer
    recognizable or known
    as you
    the wait of that freefall
    was s(l)ouly crushing, terrifying
    and you didn’t know
    how you’d survive
    The Fall
    or
    the sudden impact trauma.

    Days of the Job

    They were the days
    of the Job
    those long, lost days
    of nowhere
    of naught and no-thing
    crumbling into a dust
    of (n)ever shifting sands
    that belonged to no season
    other than
    loss, despair, doubt, and uncertainty
    sackcloth and ashes
    bitter tear and lamentations
    days filled
    with dis-ease and dis-content
    unending questions without answers
    of absurd and inane proportions
    that lacked all meaning
    or a sense of time and passing
    serving to only further the (seeming) isolation
    and the cutting off of all connection—
    the prayer
    that could not be prayed
    the dis-ease that
    cannot be touched
    nor spoken
    aloud or otherwise…
    hope stillborn
    jagged and rusty compassion
    statuesque in ignorance
    cloaked and festering
    tetanus-like
    in a multitude
    of small and projected (mis)understanding
    and ill-advised good intentions
    visited upon the un-fortunate
    by the all
    knowing and all
    suffering
    grit and particulate
    etching a dry and dustiness harsh and bitter
    into the psyche/soul
    ten thousand
    Oceans would never quench
    skin dry and cracked like peeling parched leather
    as raucous crows
    wheeling in formless phalanxes
    black against a washed out
    and indifferent sky
    rain down
    raspy epithets and ill (bidden) omens
    like so much
    condemnation and distemperate judgment—
    a resentful wine from an indignant and spiteful cup…
    rising in a crescendo of entropy
    and rapid decay
    as the Oceans accede the dead
    and their egregious ego-like treasures
    the waters turning black
    and finally parting
    fleeing frothy and foaming
    back into the depths
    of the forsaken and scorched Earth
    from whence they came
    in shuddering revulsion
    at this sorry, sad beast slouching
    round through the sands
    of Ozymandias
    to be born

    • Librarian, thank you for yet another gift. What you’ve shared here stirred and fed me at the same time. The RAJ quote helped because it validated what I’ve perceived. Though I’m no artistic genius, on one level I knew that what I am in right now (and have been in for some time but simply keep surviving) would, if I took a pen to it (or keyboard, but you know what I mean by the metaphor), be productive and drive me. Sitting here and being in it, on the other hand, seems reductive and cowardly. But… but… but… I think.

      Your poems are good. Those raucous crows and their raspy epithets: “a resentful wine from an indignant and spiteful cup…” Yes.

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