Archive for March 13th, 2012
“It is no accident that the primary motive, the hidden agenda in any relationship, is the yearning to return. It is . . . the Eden Project . . . the yearning for the Beloved. It is essentially a religious search . . . ” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 17)
As much as I want to dismiss this as pure rubbish because of a number of factors including to my aversion to the word “religion,” I have to look even deeper into this because of the “heat” that the statement has elicited within me. That “heat” is a warning bell that I must heed if I am to reach my goal of freedom from my self-imposed boxes that keep me out of authentic relationships with others.
There is no question there is a yearning within me, there has always been a yearning within me for as long as I can remember. I wanted connection so badly I would do anything to protect whatever it was that could give me that sense of belonging. Most of the time, there was nothing I could do and so I would disappear into silence and into books. Sometimes life through what I perceived as threats to the thin threads of connection that did exist within my family – become a responsible adult as a child taking care of other children, becoming my mother’s little “man” of the house when my father was absent, being the offering to my mother’s father in hopes that she would be restored into a state of grace with her father. None of it worked. I blamed myself for the failure as is normal for a child when put into these life circumstances. Rather than feeling the bond of belonging, I was left wounded and betrayed by my mother, by my father, by my grandfather and by my church which has seen my vulnerability and exploited it. I was left empty blaming myself instead of others.
Then I found a girl who needed me and in turn, I found myself needing her, hoping that she could fill all of my empty spaces. She became my religion, my Magical Other. It was love at first sight for both of us with a commitment for a life of love and relationship given in those first few hours of contact. Who was this person, this young woman? I never asked that question, it was enough that she said “Yes” to my proposal of marriage in those first few hours. I was one of the lucky ones, I found myself in relation to a beautiful young woman, a woman who was everything I was not, as different as one could possibly be. And I filled in her holes.
But the holes only became bigger as the years and the decades passed; holes that had nothing to do with the “Magical Other” we had married, but had to do with something within the depths of myself. And as a result, relationship became strained – the “Magical Other” became a real, live, breathing woman as I became a man of faults, one not able to sustain the myth of her “Magical Other.” And it is here where I begin to sense the pull to something else, the pull into the religious or spiritual, a pull that can’t be filled with or by any woman; what I found missing in the dynamic was an authentic relationship to my “self.” As I wrote these last words, it dawned on me that I was trying to connect to something deeper that the core of Robert, but to the center of everything, the source that breathed life and soul into the joining of sperm and egg that would become a human. That is the religious home to which I find myself yearning for in my second half of life.
Does this mean there is no room for relationship with another human, with my wife? No! If anything, I will be better able to be in relationship, honest relationship that accepts the reality of the other person without need to project “need,” without the need to “use” this person to fill in my holes.
I chose this photo by accident when I wasn’t even looking for a photo. I think I have to explain. I have a set of photos from Vietnam that serves as my screen saver when I am not active on the computer. I was distracted after writing the first two paragraphs of this post and as a result my laptop went into screen saver mode. When I finally returned my attention to the computer, this image flashed and I knew I had the image for this post. In Asia, white is the colour of mourning and death, the complete opposite of the colour we use in the western world, black. This post is heading into a territory of mourning for that is what we do when someone dies. And as I am coming to understand it, the Robert that I know is changing. With each change comes a small death of the old Robert. That is good in spite of how bad that might sound, for that allows a more authentic Robert to emerge from his hiding place under layer after layer of unconsciousness.
As I read a book called The Maiden King, by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman, I came upon a timely line that talks about katabasis, which basically translates into a descent. I checked my archives and found that I had mentioned this word twice in the past, on December 29th, 2010 and a few days later on January 1st, 2011. I checked because I didn’t want to end up saying the same thing as I had before. I wanted to make sure I was adding something of value, something to show me that I had somehow learned a little more. After looking over what I had written I knew that this time around I was is a completely different place, one that somehow had left a surface world and is roaming around a completely different universe, one that is somehow mythological as well as as personal as it is possible to be.
I have been talking about the descent I am risking, a descent with the intention of uncovering the truth of who I am beneath the history of childhood, beneath the complexes, beneath the personae that I have embraced and nourished in order to feel that I belong somehow in this world. I have spoke a lot of words but to be honest, I didn’t really understand what the hell I had done in setting out on this journey.
As I sit here at the keyboard, alone in my apartment, I wonder what is coming next. I have just learned enough to see that I have just passed the first set of tests in the descent to the underworld. I feel like some sort of Danté condemned to experience every chamber of a personal hell before I am allowed to return to the outer world; or like a modern day Odysseus who will face earthquakes, tsunamis, many-faced monsters and horrors as yet without a name before I am allowed to return home. I know that the prize in this descent, this katabasis, is the recovery of self, the recovery of soul. And that, should be enough.
The descent means I need to change almost before each progressive dive, or if not before, I must change as I dive. I have to let go of micro-managing everything around me, trying to control and fix the world, trying to heal all near me. I see their fear, their pain, their tears and my heart is torn. Should I abandon this terrible journey and rush to them with comforting words? But as soon as I even think this, I realise that I am deluding myself for I can’t fix another person. I know that each must fix themselves. I am not some magical being who can wave a wand to heal others – I am as broken as all of us. All I can do is to risk this katabasis so that I can self-heal and show all those I love the path to healing and acknowledge that the rest is up to them.
And so, the journey to hell and back continues. I am worth it, and the gift that it will give my children and my grandchildren and any who listen, is worth it. Enough for now. It is time to meditate and focus so that I don’t lose my way or lose my courage.