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.
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.