Today I am missing real connection. As the thought crosses my awareness, I’m astonished to consider that maybe I haven’t really had such a feeling or experience since I was maybe three or four years old.
So, what happened?
I’m staring out the window at a large fountain, as a crow alights on its edge to have a drink of water. It seems like an independent character, but I’d imagine a nest isn’t too far away. I’ve been chased away by a few of the black birds in different neighborhoods recently. They don’t mess around if you get too close to their babies! I haven’t had anything that important to protect, yet. I can only imagine how I’d be if something or someone threatened my family.
Many of my childhood memories invariably lean into the negative, stressful or jarring. It’s a shame that I don’t easily recall the beautiful things. Sometimes when my mother recalls a memory from early in my life, I have to trust her story, as I don’t remember it myself. But, even those moments of reminiscing are focused on the first five or six years or so of my life. I was a shy, sensitive kid, so it didn’t take much to rattle me, but it was never normal, to me, to be comfortable with edginess, cynicism, anger and argument. When there was levity and playfulness, I found that I couldn’t trust it, nor enjoy it. It was very confusing. How people communicate with each other has a powerful energetic dynamic to it, and I think most are largely unaware of the effects that field has on those around them.
How we communicate within ourselves, too, is fraught with inconsistencies, imbalances and invisible trauma. We can’t simply hope to be easier about it (why so serious?) when a well-practiced pattern and emotional, and thus psychosomatic precedent is established. If we’ve maintained an energetic bias, positive or negative, we’ll tend to gravitate toward that spectrum of reactivity, perception and behavior.
So many of us feel shame related to our trauma, wounding, and sensitivities, as if they’re evidence that we’ve failed, it’s our fault, that something’s wrong with us, and that we’re broken and beyond repair.
Even if we “know” this isn’t accurate, that cortical knowing is no match for the subcortical fires in our limbic and bodily circuitry, where unmetabolized grief, sadness, and rage dwell as the shattered children of our unlived lives.
The emotional pain is tragic in and of itself, but underneath is a psychic homelessness and deep sense that we’re alone, which is really at the root of trauma. Here, we long and burn for the missing companion.
I believe many, if not all the various, often chronic aches and pains we accumulate as we get older, have their foundations in the wayback, in the seeded experiences of childhood — perhaps even in a previous life. There’s an unraveling of the layers that needs, and inevitably asks, to happen. Certain energies — even entities — can magnetize, linger and attach themselves to us. There is no hack for that. There is only patience, awareness and discipline, and perhaps the help of an experienced practitioner.
In the meantime, however, life happens. That’s not an excuse, but an undeniable reality. If we don’t actively, purposely engage in a level of self-love, self-compassion and self-awareness, we tend to shelve, suppress, defer and eventually deny pain. And we cannot learn from that pain, as it is natural to do, if we are not willing to face it, to feel it, to know it, to own it, accept it and integrate it. Closure is critical, but I think that in our culture, we value suffering — and can even wear it as a badge of honor. Regardless, this elemental process is itself a daily, lifelong ritual and practice, too easily lost or forgotten among the devices (physical or psychological), duties, rigmarole and procedures of modern life.
Our relationships, and who we are able to be in them, always reveal our unfinished business. How we react, our capacity for presence, how we communicate our needs or respond to the needs of others — all of it carries the remnants of what came before. I remember years ago how distinctly eerie it was to realize that I was dating my mother. And it took three breakups with the same woman to finally grow out of that one. But did I heal the wound? Did I even acknowledge it? I’m not sure. I’ve wished that someone would or could save me, but I didn’t know it to be so at the time. Let’s just say it doesn’t work. It can’t.
We tend to adapt ourselves to the size and shape of the box we unconsciously define as our truth; our reality. We can think and dream and visualize and pretend about what is outside the box, but until we’re willing to recognize and thus nullify it’s power — to know the truth of who we are, and who we can be, exists both inside and outside it — we’ll keep slamming into the walls; we’ll find the ways and means of compensating for our deepest desires and even our basic emotional needs. Likewise, we may get quite adept at leaning on would-be crutches without ever knowing them as such, while other aspects of life simply become dull, common, superficial, routine and predictable.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau
I’m hopeful that as and when I get better and consistent at unfolding and releasing the charged and polarized layers of stuff I’ve adopted, adapted to, claimed as real, identified with and have defined myself by, that I may better recall happier moments. Most importantly, I want to be free, more open and willing to make new memories in the here and now — not simply in the transience of seeking novelty, but to know and live in appreciation, gratitude, respect and deeper fulfillment of this one strange and wonderful life.