Part two of a two-part series, starting with “Passings.” Caution dear reader. Some may be offended by this. I tell the truth, not out of meanness, but in the spirit of healing. I publish the personal to appeal to the universal. Read on if you wish. Take what you like and leave the rest.
~ Suzanne copyright 2016
Every step you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you. ~ Sting
Each of us has wounds. They can result in feelings of desperation, fear, guilt, shame, hopelessness.
I’ll just say it. My wound was abandonment. In fact, it scares me, still, to tell it, as if it’s lurking around the corner. But it’s the truth. The wound from which I have been healing. All my life. Only now, thank God, I know what to do if it returns. When it returns. Let me tell you more.
How did mine happen? Here are memories, fragments:
Born early, put into a wide sterile incubator, flailing my arms;
Being forced by my grandmother, while my mother was still fatigued from my sister’s birth, to go away, as if I were being thrown away. Wearing my green plaid skirt and screaming as they carried me out the door. Of course, it was only temporary, but I didn’t know that, at the age of four, I thought I was being replaced;
My mother, despondent over our circumstances, throwing herself into deep, swirling water despite the fact that she couldn’t swim. Me, aged 9, rescuing her. Screaming, calling her back. Wading in the water towards her. I wrote about this in another post, Underwater).
My father leaving because of it. No, not because of it. Because he couldn’t look at his part, at his out- of- control alcoholism. He stood there watching. He didn’t know what to do. He ran.
These were not bad people. They were people I loved, dearly, utterly.
Why do I write this? See, I know people out there have experienced some of what I have experienced, or worse. I want you to know there is hope. To know you won’t die from it. While it was harsh, it was only a moment, a memory. You can survive.
When a child rescues a parent, there’s no room to be a child. No way to tell the truth. Or to have childish needs. No room for healthy disagreement, let alone achievement.
Alcoholism, if untreated, unless there’s recovery, results in suicide, homicide or death. It affects the whole family.
Suicidality (known in the psychology world as “suicidal ideation”), in a parent creates a fear, a desperation, and a painful, unhealthy unspoken agreement in a child.
The child thinks she’s the cause, and that she must prevent it from ever happening again. The child thinks:
Don’t leave me. I’ll be good. I’ll die if you go. If you die, I won’t ever see you again. We will be apart forever. And ever and ever and ever. Oh, I’ll have to do everything in my power to keep you. I’ll watch you, I’ll anticipate your every need. I’ll be good. I’ll never leave you, no matter what. I won’t disagree with you. I won’t outshine you. I won’t become the artist, or the writer, or the speaker. I won’t live my life.
Instead, I’ll heal your sickness. I’ll sooth your fevered brow. I’ll never ask for anything. I’ll always be there for you. I won’t rock the boat. I won’t stand up for myself.
Later, people will walk over me. How could they not? They won’t want to, but they’ll feel stifled, obligated. They’ll hate seeing my face, clinging. Feel suffocated by the lack of emotional space. They’ll feel me judging them, wanting them to be perfect. No one can live with that.
I couldn’t live with it, either. My desperation spoke:
Someone, hand me a line. Teach me the secret, the secret of being loved. Help me!
I’ll try to be like you. Or you. Or you. I’m flawed. I know that you have a secret that I don’t have. And I don’t know how to ask for it. I watch how you do it, charm the people around you. I want to know.
First, we have to seek:
God grant me courage. Courage to face the wound, do something different.
And before that we need to admit how pitiful we are, in spite of how we wish we were. Admit that we have no clue.
You mean that I push people away with my so-called good intentions? I push them away because I don’t love myself? Well, how do I do that? How do I love this pitiful two-legged being?
The search went something like this:
Meditations, retreats, conferences. Psychic readers. Palm readers. Horoscopes. Churches, temples. fasts, quests. Psychologists, gurus. Twelve- step meetings.
With each step, courage grew.
And that is what it takes to face a wound. Courage.
Blind, like a bat throwing its radar against the cavern wall, I navigated.
I read, prayed, chanted, meditated. Danced, walked, ran, knelt . Wrote, painted, drew. I returned to school. And, later, I returned again. Trying to become a new person. Thinking I needed to eradicate her. The desperate one. I found out I was wrong.
Friends, relatives, strangers, all had wisdom. All gave a piece.
I took the pieces, and tried and stumbled and was disappointed and I thought I was still the old me but no that wasn’t true because the moment we try something different, we are different.
I learned to ask the right questions:
What will I do? What won’t I do? What do I want to do? What don’t I want to do?
I asked myself these things. I realized I couldn’t answer those questions. And they were important. So I started to think about who I am, which the questions helped provide.
What I will do? Try to be kind, respectful. Give what I can. Tell the truth. Set boundaries. Nicely. In a good way. Respectfully. Live up to my word.
And, do something I’ve always wanted to do. Figure out what that is. Live one day at a time. Cherish my friends and family.
Pray for my enemies. Pray for myself.
Take action and review my thoughts if I feel old hurts.
Talk kindly to myself, catch myself thinking negatively.
Remember: truth, beauty, holiness. Pray, trust, live.
What I won’t do? Many things (including some that I used to do but had to stop doing): Lie. Curse. Call people names. Hurt my body. Hurt your body. Or Let you hurt me. Hurt any living thing. Talk politics. Argue. Allow despair to take hold.
What do I want to do? Finish what I’ve started. Become a nurse. (I did). Paint more pictures (I did). Finish the writing projects I’ve started. (I finished many). Return to school (I did). Now: Try to paint again. Keep writing. Travel before I die. See the Northern lights. Dance. Sing.
What I don’t want to do? Play cards. Talk too long on the phone. Go to South America. Be around too many people at once. Wear high heels. Wear panty – hose.
The desperation is gone. Yes, I am still afraid.
I didn’t eradicate her: abandonment is inside me, a part of me. Sometimes things get riled up again, but now I know what to say to to you:
You want to go? There’s the door. Maybe we’ll miss each other, maybe we won’t. I can live with that. You don’t have to stay, or do anything. You can be yourself. I’ll be myself. If we get along, great! But I like my own company now.
I can do what I didn’t think I could ever do. I can look at burning desires, and try new things, even though I’m growing old.
The wound from which we suffer, heals us. There is never total healing. There is a different way of looking at it.
I can live with paradox. In fact, I love it. I can hold two opposing thoughts at a time.
I love you and I hate you. I want to, I don’t want to. I’m great and I’m awful. So are you. So are we all.
Peace be with you. Yes, I wish you peace, I wish you self-understanding. I wish you a sense of gratitude, humility, and contentment. I wish you healing.
Suzanne copyright 2016