The Carpenters’ song bearing the title of this blog came to me this morning when I woke in the deep sea on my rickety life boat of consciousness feeling inside my skin and deep inside my soul the ever shifting ocean of unconscious and the waves of phlegm which seem to almost threaten to pull me under on many mornings. I was conscious of how tired I feel at times, a year out of cancer treatment and how much my body fights with the schism between activity and rest. At times I feel that I can not get up, that my limbs won’t work or I will fall down but that is perhaps because being on the border of sleep and wakefulness brings me back to those pivotal trauma times when I was flat on my back unable to move in ambulance after being tossed around by accidents where my body was whipped or twisted around.
On these colder late autumn mornings I don’t push myself to get up and I like to reflect on what has passed over the past few days and yesterday brought a let down into my life. An old friend had been in touch several times telling me she was coming to Australia, how much she loved me and could we catch up. Yesterday was to be the day. We spoke on Friday night and she was to call me yesterday morning and we were going for coffee. I waited all morning and no call came. Possibly I should have called her. That would have been the proactive thing to do, but to be honest I was deeply ambivalent as she was in my life in the very early part of my young adulthood and so much trauma was occurring for me then. When I met her I was only a few years out of my major accident and all the deep trauma with my sister had taken place over the three years before in which I struggled to move away and then feeling overwhelmed and insecure returned to my home town being forced by my father to go to secretarial college. There was a lot of drinking and drugging that went on around that time for me, a very dysfunctional relationship and two terminations of pregnancy.
Anyway yesterday morning came and went with no call from my friend and then I went through a whole lot of inner confusion and mixed up emotions about being let down while on another level being kind of relieved I hadn’t heard from her, which on some level could have been my own defence for I cried about it later on my walk with Jasper to the swings and remembered all the critical times of being let down or abandoned by my other best friend from teenage years.
And as I lay with this feeling tone this morning and felt deep inside how it was to be young what came up for me was the struggle and confusion I have gone through in not be seen or felt deeply, and also the sense that I had fallen out of contact with other’s minds. This was just one of the awarenesses that came for me this morning with the dawn. The second was how terrified I often feel of being abandoned if I don’t do want others want. The third was of how much as a youngster I struggled with big feelings I could not manage.
I share all the time here how I turned to substances because I really could not cope with the feelings and confusion I suffered. I was a shy teenager really and that was not who I was as a young girl. I didn’t lack confidence as a child but over time and after being left alone a lot to my own devices I learned to turn away and turn deep within and perhaps brood over insecurities that would have been better shared with a living breathing human. I have seen lately how I started to introvert from age 6 as our family moved further and further away from inner life and relationship. I spent more and more time alone. Later I learned to push and push myself to do something for others in order to be connected or to be noticed. I learned I had to cope alone as too much other stuff was going down in my family and my parents and siblings attention needed to be else where and I learned to turn to substances to shut the pain and lostness and confusion up that I was increasingly feeling.
I was in the book section at the department store on Friday and I picked up Alec Baldwin’s newly released biography. I only read a few pages but he spoke of how he struggled in similar ways and of how hard he was struggling in adolescence to please his father. He then also began to turn to drugs and alcohol. Its a fairly common story come to think about it. What I go through, many others go through too.
Then by a weird act of synchronicity yesterday at the fruit and veg markets I ran into my first childhood boyfriend. He was the boy next door and he was 4 days older than me. I ran into him no less than 4 times yesterday which on reflection felt like some kind of fated timing. On the last two connections he was holding a box of wine waiting for someone to come and collect him but they were obviously lost because on the 4th and final meeting he was walking through the car park looking for his lost friends. Today when I thought about what transpired in childhood it occurred to me that it wasn’t a close connection where we shared together intimacies as two vulnerable kids (at that stage we were both bed wetters and his parents had hooked up a device to give him an electric shock when pee hit the mattress), he actually bullied me a fair bit which may have come from this father was always joking and used to make rhymes about how I was always falling over and grazing my knees. “Deborah Louise has very scaby knees!”. Interesting to note that in the end his Dad ended up having an affair with his secretary and leaving his mother. Reflecting on it I saw a deep theme also around how I really have not known kindly male influences in my life. My Dad was emotionally distant and in many of my subsequent relationships I have been criticised for being myself or been with partners who like me struggle with communicating emotionally. When I reflected on this this morning it was with a deep sense of sadness but I also saw so much more deeply how no one was really to blame. There was and is still so much healing for me to do.
And I guess that realisation takes me full circle back to the idea that was forming in my consciousness at the outset of writing this blog. That this soul journey takes time and in a life in culture in which due process and timing is not often appreciated, where everything is either about the quick fix or plastering over deeper soul realities or messes to make up a shallow happy story with a positive outcome that may hide deeper and more fraught and complex inner realties we often forget to go easy on ourselves, or at least I do. I forget that what I am working on and to understand about my past is often painful but that also its great work that I am doing in at least choosing to try to become more conscious in my life of the forces that have shaped and driven me from within. And today I am still sober after 23 years and that is really some kind of miracle when I consider where my life could have ended up with the deep wounds I carried early on.
On the really bad days I seem to look around my life critically focused on the externals which have nothing to do with consciousness and awareness of the struggling soul within me that is still quiet young on so many levels and working hard to develop and grow legs and wings. I had a really powerful image the other day in therapy with Katina when she really mirrored back the truth of how hard I am working and have struggled with enormous developmental deficits of a little bird in a cage that was lying on the ground of the cage flapping its wings all over the place like a fish that had the vision of flight but and not yet developed the capacity to fly. “Its a little like sitting in a car with your foot on the gas revving the engine” she said to me.
I need to remember the this healing and therapy process takes time. I can comfort myself with the knowledge that I have not really done all the wrong things I tell myself I have, but have instead been a soul struggling to become more conscious of myself, a soul who looks within and so often finds both a longing for more and at times such a deep sadness at what has been missed. I remind myself that I must never forget to honour the process and all the complex forces within and around me that have led me to here, poised on the brink of a new day in which there is still so much to participate in and to learn. I must remind myself that its going to take some time and that on this day I can choose to feel what I feel, know what I know and look for the silver lining even amidst a sky and inner landscape that on some days can be covered with dark clouds. And I know I will continue to find this if I learn to look through the eyes of patient soul, instead of impatient externally focused persona.