Last week I made an energetic shift to the good. The world was a beautiful place. I felt confident and grounded. I patted myself on the back for doing all the personal growth work that led to this result. I had arrived!
Fast forward one week. I find myself googling apocalyptic art.
I feel scratchy and irritable. I am taking things personally; blaming, grumbling and complaining. I feel prickly, fragile, impatient and judge-y. I am two pieces of sandpaper rubbing together.
Try as I might, I can not summon the enlightened person I was the week before.
To add insult to injury, I hate myself for being this way. I am ashamed.
Is this then who I really am? Have I not learned anything in my long life? I see others meeting grave losses with grace and love. Right now, I have no love for even the simplest challenges. I have achieved nothing.
To escape, I watch British detective dramas – murder mysteries. Their simple formula is comforting. If there are interesting characters, they become my world for awhile. I like it there. I want to live there. The good guys prevail by solving the murder puzzle. The bad guys are identified and caught and, in the end, justice is done.
Justice – that is the happy ending I long for, and what feels so elusive in my life and in the real world.
I am going to be 62 years-old in August. As a survivor of childhood trauma, I know I have lost some of the years of a lifespan that was my birthright. They say people like me can die 20 years earlier than people without childhood trauma. I want to make some headway in healing my trauma with the time I have left — toward justice, if at all possible. I want to at least be on my way.
In a prayer and contemplation meditation group today, I felt rebellious. There we sat, a group of privileged white women, in a safe place with no fear about where our next meal was coming from, where we were going to sleep at night or whether a bomb was going to be dropped on us at any moment.
I decided that I was going to deliberately THINK and I wasn’t going to go “back to my breath” or “my word.”
For 20 minutes I thought hard about children in war-torn lands. Children who have lost their parents and relatives and are themselves at risk of dying every day. In my mind’s eye, I saw them crouching in dirty ragged clothes, protectively clutching their younger siblings against them. I saw their huge round frightened eyes.
I communed with those children. And as I write this, I realize that I feel more of a kinship with them than with the group of women around me.
My early life was a war torn country too.
My thoughts also wandered to where my dreams sometimes go – to a fire ravaged, smokey, grey post-apocalyptic landscape of destruction. I saw myself as a “skinless creature” – a crippled skeleton – as fragile as ash. Just one light touch – a single puff of air – would demolish me.
Some days, like today, I know that the “veil” between this skeleton and myself has thinned. Little things can hit me with a destructive power – a criticism, a jostle, a grimace.
I am not really sure any of us are free of our version of it. We all have been wounded in some way. Jungian analyst, Duncan Carpenter, coined the words “the skinless core” to refer to this, our most exquisitely sensitive, unprotected and vulnerable inner self.
I know that this ash skeleton is part of my “skinless core” and, quite likely, my unseen traumatized self from my childhood.
Try as I might, I can not transcend or escape her. It seems no amount of meditating, crystal gazing, spa days or ice cream will soothe her.
It dawns on me what I can do.
I CAN witness her, commune with her, never forget her, see her truth, and give her a taste of the validation and justice she did not receive from the adults so many years ago in her childhood. I CAN offer concern, reassurance, attention, empathy, and kindness. I can take her seriously.
Of course when I use the word “her”, I mean “me”. As fragile as she is, I recognize that she is truly my own savior, part of the my growing personal imperative to draw my world in closer and truer to myself.
I will not wish her away anymore.