I’ve been living in a daze but I think I may finally be starting to wake up. I had a fallout with a friend just before the weekend and it triggered a surprising response in me. I realised, very suddenly and painfully, that I’d been projecting a huge amount of my deeper ‘stuff’ onto her. She was carrying all the tough, dark, difficult parts of me: the depression, the anxiety, the loneliness, the fear of rejection and frequent feelings of despair and worthlessness. She also held all the more interesting parts too: the intellectual enquiry, the spirituality, the psychology, mythology, poetry, music and art. While she was there, doing all the work, I was able to hide away and numb myself with a frenzy of social networking, of Spider Solitaire and other distractions. Foolish me.
So over the weekend I turned off the computer and made time to start a bit of work on my self, on my soul. A small start, for sure, but a valuable one. I pulled an armchair into a corner by the window, where I could look out and watch the wisteria blowing in the wind; where I could see the exclamation marks of day-glo azaleas amidst the green on green. I played Nick Drake, Ray Lamontagne, Davy Spillane, Sean Tyrrell and Conor Keane. I re-read James Hollis’s amazing book Swamplands of the Soul and started re-reading another of his books, The Middle Passage.
In the last ten years since I had James (like many mothers, I suspect) I’ve ignored my soul. I’ve abased it, abused it and neglected it. No wonder it is sore. No wonder my body is causing me pain. When one neglects the soul, the body reacts too and flinches and cowers from the abuse.
Jung said that ‘the goal of life is not happiness but meaning’. James Hollis reaffirms this and states that:
‘There is no sunlit meadow, no restful bower of easy sleep; there are rather swamplands of the soul where nature, our nature, intends that we live a good part of the journey, and from whence many of the most meaningful moment of our lives will derive. It is in the swamplands where soul is fashioned and forged, where we encounter not only the gravitas of life, but its purpose, its dignity and its greatest meaning.’
So yes, I’m in a swamp but I think that is OK.
‘You think too deeply, that’s your problem,’ said Adrian with a sigh.
‘No. I don’t think deeply ENOUGH,’ said I with a grimace.
‘Well you worry too much. I don’t know anyone else who worries about infinity.’
He’s right. I do. I can make myself dizzy thinking about forever. My head spins (not literally, that would be wrong) when I try to trek out beyond the known universe. But doesn’t everyone do that?
James, meanwhile, is worried about school. He came home looking shifty.
‘Did you hear?’
Hear what? About how he had been accidentally knocked into a puddle by a boy a year younger and had waited an hour to take his revenge stone cold - which entailed carefully placing all said boy’s sports kit in the showers? Er, yup, had had a call from the headmaster about that one.
I smiled ruefully and he smiled back.
‘I’ve got to write apology letters.’
He took it on the chin and I confess I was impressed – not least that he actually wrote more than:
Things are looking up. However this morning, over breakfast, he was low again.
‘I’m worried about what people will say. I’m worried about what the teachers will say.’
So we sat on the sofa and had a bit of a hug.
‘You know what? There is no point in worrying about something until it actually happens. So, I’d suggest you don’t even think about it – until it does (and it might even not). Makes sense?’
It does make sense. So today I am going to try to follow my own advice. I’m going to watch the rain, trace the auras of the trees and watch the blackbird making another nest, this time in the jasmine. Infinity still worries the hell out of me, but I figure I’ve got plenty of time to worry about it….
btw, have posted the piece I wrote for YOU magazine on blogging as therapy on my other blog
Plus pieces on EMDR and whether detoxing is dangerous.... click the links to read - and please do comment as I'd love to hear what you think - whether you agree or disagree or have any new, better ideas. This is a new venture for me and I'm aiming to get up a whole ton of my old features as a resource, now that so many of my books are out of print.