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It All Starts Here...

Engulfment or abandonment.  For everyone, no exceptions.  We only differ in the extremes with which we live or attempt to with the wounds either leaves.

I am reading a book based on Jungian theory of personality development.  It is fascinating.  And the premise was what we now really know to be true:  the wounds we receive as children will direct and control our lives for the whole of our lives.  There are a lot of things we can do to make this process better or worse, but in the end, it is always this childhood wound that maims us most completely.

And it doesn’t even really matter if you were engulfed as a kid or abandoned.  The resulting wound is the same even though its manifestations are likely very polar opposite.  How someone reacts to being engulfed versus how some reacts from being abandoned, two very different responses.  But they are both dysfunctional...and both have serious implications as to how and why you will relate the way you will as you move through your life.

Some of us were both.  Engulfed by abuse that you could not escape and also abandoned by those you needed to shelter us from the rising tide of neglect.  It is a mixed bag for sure.  And I guess it is incumbent upon all of us to trace back to the places in our psychological development and delve into the why and the how and see how the tendrils of our current dysfunction linking us back to a time when we could not avoid the inevitable destruction.

I mean, Jung’s theory was that all parents screw up their kids.  And he was right.  We all do screw up our kids.  Our unhealed wounds, ones we know are there and the ones that are far more sinisterly hidden, do damage even though we do our best, and have the best of intentions.   Our own anxieties and stressors which have warped themselves into neurosis are eteched into the psychological sustenance in our children.  They become the canvas for all our unhealed human-ness.  As unlovely as that is, it does appear to be true.  We spend the second half of life getting over the first.

I was talking to someone the other day and we were talking about how much her child raising in this moment is vitally important to her children’s development.  I think it is the first time that I actually saw it that way.  Like her work, the things she is doing to better take care of herself, her mental, physical and spiritual health is the best thing she can do for mothering those kids.  I saw it as something vital whereas before, even in my own early childhood raising, I did not see it that way at all.  And when I look back, I very painfully see, how all my unhealed shit wounded my kids.  It is right there in their current personalities.  I see the damage inflicted...even though I will tell you that I never intended it to be that way and overall I was a good mother, always.

Nevertheless, I still fucked up my kids.  And now as one of them navigates early adulthood and the other one follows closely behind, I hope that they see that I have never stopped trying to right myself.  I keep working on myself, I keep going to therapy and reading books and working quite diligently to heal that which remains open and festering.  I may never seal it off or dress the wound completely, but that fact has never, ever stopped me from trying.

And I can see progress and improvement.  I see how I am different.  I can see how I have changed. And I can also see how easy it would be to proclaim myself “well or weller” and call it a day.  But, fortunately, or unfortunately, I see myself as I am, not as I would like me to be and so the work must be continued because the wound is not healed.  And the fact that in my lifetime I may not be able to heal it is really immaterial.  It isn’t about arriving at the magical destination of cured!  It is about healing...which is a process that is never really over.

I have healed physically from the various surgeries which have scarred my body.  But psychologically there is still healing to be done.  Ask me about one of them and I will tell you the “story” surrounding their origin.  The skin may have closed over, but the wound remains.  

Now it is not a giant wound and I don’t think they negatively impact my life so much today, but I can see they still exist despite all I have done to heal.  And if this is just a physical scarring, I can only imagine what my childhood left in its wake.

So I am moving forward while I heal.  I see in a new and stark way that I am broken.  I see how that past of mine is reaching out currently and really fucking things up.  I see it, I feel it and I remain transfixed on solving it.   Or at least progressing upon it.  I may never get to a place of functionality with my childhood wounds, but I know it is still my life’s work to try to eradicate the stigma, the loss and the tentacles that reach out from that murky past and bring them out into the light.

It all started there but it remains in the here and now.  And I am grateful to see this and have the willingness to work on them further...even though it is painful, even though I would rather not, even though it would be so much easier to give myself a pass and just succumb once more to the attachment style resulting from a childhood full of engulfment and abandonment.  And this is my state after being raised by an incredibly loving, present and caring mother.  She was always there, and she was relatively healthy.  And despite her best efforts and contrary actions, here I am.  Again, still.  All these years later, unpacking the things that happened, not from her, but the others...and no matter how hard or much we might wish or believe, all our children are messed up because of us in some large or small way.  It cannot be different, it is the way we grow up.  

And we all have a choice, to confront the issues of the past in some sort of productive way, or capitulate to the terrible dysfunction that comes from the unexamined life.  We heal or we repeat the dysfunction or perhaps we even magnify it and it proliferates...and this is why, this failure to address our own pasts and attendant illness, that the world is the way it is.  We are all these ravenous spirits haunting the earth, starving for something that will resolve and ease this primordial ache.

The healing is possible for most of us, however, most of us would rather insist, in fact demand, that others change while we remain exactly as we are.  And so the wounds burgeon into full blown addiction, neurosis and the like.  And we blame the others, and we blame ourselves and all the blame in the world does nothing to dispel the rotting that seeps out of us even as we attempt to address the tiniest blemish.  We doctor up the outsides in some vain attempt to heal that which plagues us.  But in the end, we are merely undertaking.  We are dressing the corpse for burial...every single day of our lives.



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