A pile of rocks

It’s proving rather difficult to marshal my thoughts about the retreat. So much happened in such a short space of time. Such huge, tectonic shifts of deeply embedded plates. And a state which allowed a number of realisations (insights?) which are probably banal but none the less also profound and important.

sundown cairn

This is one of the trains of thought I had.

I suddenly realised something that I might have been told before but had never actually viscerally understood and accepted. Which was that the way my mother treated me (loathsome and evil) and my brother (lovable and divine) was actually nothing at all to do with our inherent selves, it was projection of her own deepest fears and highest hopes. Good child, bad child; good me, bad me. And because she had schizophrenia the projections and their content were somewhat extreme.

So my revelation was that it was her shit, not mine. I might actually have been quite a normal child really. And I felt rather sorry for her since the embodiment of all that was good about her (my brother) was sent away to boarding school leaving her alone in the house with the embodiment of all that was bad.

And I further realised, with a deeply visceral understanding, that in order to deal with the situation I too had good me and bad me. I had, in order to stay alive, to manufacture a semblance of a good me (an achiever of… stuff) and I locked up bad me in a very small thick-walled wooden box with a lid held down by very many bars and bolts and locks and weighted down with rocks. But I felt, on some deep level, that good me was a construct and bad me was the real thing. And the breakdown was the disintegration of good me (the carefully placed armour plating) which appeared to mean only bad me really existed. Which was very very bad indeed.

(Once, near the beginning of my therapy, I saw bad me, and she wasn’t what I expected at all. Instead of being the bestial brutish creature I was terrified of she was in fact just a very small, very sad and lonely child who desperately wanted someone to look after and love her. Which was a step in the right direction, obviously, but not very far.)

And on retreat I realised that I too, at the time of the breakdown, had been projecting my shit in turn on at least one of my two children. Possibly both. Possibly a similar good child, bad child dualism. And I realised that even though I have overcome that pattern to a great extent it is fundamentally important that I nurture an acute mindfulness of those relationships.

And with the realisation that I was not actually intrinsically bad, I realised that bad me didn’t really exist. And I went and found bad me and she looked just like I do. And we hugged. And we melted together and became one.

Now how fucking amazingly freaky is that? I’m still in a bit of a state of shock about it all.


But however extraordinary that experience might have been more important is whatever allowed it to happen. And that’s far more difficult to articulate.

13 Replies to “A pile of rocks”

  1. Amazing breakthrough for you indeed, congratulations! I love these photos and how they fit with your words, reflecting that balance you’ve found and the whole beautiful place that it happened in. Yay!

  2. I always have an inordinately difficult time writing about retreat experiences, which I guess is why I so seldom even try. But it sounds like YOU don’t have this problem! I hope this deeply profound realization continues to percolate through your consciousness, because it’s so very TRUE and therefore liberating.

  3. Wonderful breakthrough, and that little “bad” you brought tears to my eyes. You did well in protecting yourself as a child, and you managed to survive. It’s unlearning those defenses and knowing you have choices now that’s the big thing. I don’t think you’ll forget, though, now – even with inevitable slips into old programming. Once you’re awake to it, it’s all different.

  4. I had to stop reading your post the first, and second, time I tried to read it, because I couldn’t see through the tears that came to my eyes.

    The tears are partly because I’m so happy for you that you’ve had this wonderful breakthrough, so much so that I just want to give you a big hug.

    Partly though, they’re because your words resonated so very much with recent family related revelations in my life and they managed to flip open the lid of a box I’ve been trying, with varying degrees of success, to push to the back of my mind for the last few weeks.

    It’ll take a lot of time (that I don’t feel I have right now) for me to fully process the effects of having the rug of perception pulled out from under me for the third time in my life, but however distressing and upsetting it currently is, I know I can only benefit from the knowledge that it brings. Knowledge is awareness and with awareness comes the ability to choose a different path and break the multi-generational cycle of fucked-ness that’s gone before me, and that can only be a good thing.

    Even though the tears are still falling as I write this, I’m so glad you were able to write this.

    Thank you.


  5. Based on this post and our e-mail chat, I have channeled a Radio Flyer red wagon for my inner child, who this week happens to be Hellboy.
    Whatever, they all need love.

  6. Fresca, I had to google Radio Flyer and Hellboy but having done so I want to join you. Those things hold two don’t they. And ours can fly, of course.

    ae, one of the most important thing I learned was that the pain of fear-of-pain is greater than the pain itself. Although initially I was entirely dismissive of the idea. I also reaffirmed the knowledge that hugs rawk.

    I was a bit worried about writing this all out since it’s so, well, banal really. So I’m glad the non-triviality is in evidence.

  7. Absolutely! Please join me. Yes, it is a magic wagon and can hold as many as are invited, and none who are not. Also endless terriers. You’re right, in flies, and also floats.

    Banal is the last word that would come to mind—at least it doesn’t describe how this process works/worked in my life. (Does it feel banal to you?)
    Looks more like brave grace to me.

  8. On the contrary, you articulate it very well indeed, and it is not banal.

    I’m so happy for you. Glad you’re back.

  9. Oh, Yes! This is definitely NOT banal. Now, I’m wondering what the etymology of banal is…will have to look it up and send later, with more response, too. Want to say in meantime, “Twisted”, it is so good you’ve arrived at that place of integration and balance. May you find comfort and joy there on a wide, wide open plane, and keep it as a place to return to when/if you’re thrown off course. I’m finally reading your post after responding to Fresca/Gugeo/Astronave’s Hellboy post last night–(not yet having read yours). I had just finished relearning “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter” by Joni Mitchell, which has much to do with our individual and collective–(amerikan)–need for integration of polarities/dualities, etc. And, ever since another long time ago, too, I’ve loved her version of “Twisted”, which has another take on these issues.
    Thank you for helping us all!

    Love and Light to You!


  10. Tearful and joyful here too. It hurts every time to know I was there and didn’t know. But now I do and I’m rooting for you every step of the way. Huggggggssssss.

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