Two Words

This is the pain I lay myself open to feeling when I communicate without trying to charm or to win others’ love, and refrain from forcing them to accept my love.

Sometimes connecting with raw honesty and without any agenda succeeds, I’ll concede that.  The times it has worked felt like a flower opening for the first time, smiling at the sun.  As I drank in those golden rays of light, my tears fell like soft rain on parched ground and my heart burst open like a thousand-armed buddha budding another limb.  But when it doesn’t succeed, and I am not heard, and not understood, the pain of feeling unworthy of love is immense.  A tidal wave of old emotions racing to the shore, in which I feel exposed, vulnerable and violated – cut to my core.  I experience it as a betrayal of trust, which is the most delicate flower I possess.  Just two quiet words have brought me to this place of complete loss, and a fierce determination to annihilate self.  And decimate anyone who stands in my way.

In this place, I am reacquainting myself with the part of me that won’t eat.  The part of me that will enthusiastically starve and die.  The part that delights in the feeling of destroying myself – slowly.  I am catapulted back in time to the age of sixteen, and am looking at a panorama of locks on new kitchen cupboards.  I always associated those locks with my father and control, and believed my anorexia was a symptom of the lack of control I had over my life and the strict limits imposed upon my self-determination.  Although my activities were often unsupervised, my self-expression was heavily monitored and laden with criticism, disapproval and withholding unless I was a perfect reflection of my father’s ideal self.  But two words invite me to re-visit the denial of nutrition and nurture from a different place, and now I can perceive my mother in view.  I look at the kitchen and see a padlock on the fridge.  I associate father with padlocks; he was always installing locks to keep strangers out.  Father and padlocks go together like crackers and dip.

I keep scanning the kitchen until I find something new.  Something my mind has not allowed into consciousness before now.  While the cupboard locks are very discreet – barely noticeable – the padlock is vulgar and overt, the heavy chain is slung low across the fridge-freezer door handles like a holster on the hips.  My focus is drawn to the cupboard key that hangs from a lock when my mother returns from work.  The key is distinctive – long, narrow and quite delicate.  Like a tatting needle or some other tool for handicraft.  It suddenly dawns upon me that my mother orchestrated my prohibition from the kitchen; my father was a mere instrument hanging limply from her elaborate design.  I can’t help but laughingly appreciate the imagery produced by my unconscious mind – mother weaving a doily of deception and father a gun-toting gangster armed with blanks.  Father is the lock and mother is the key.

The simple truth is that I am only now discovering that my stuff was fuelled by both my mother and father, often simultaneously.  I am only now able to comprehend that the devastating impact of their actions depended upon both being in play.  And only now understanding that I chose two perfect adversaries for my illusions.

I look towards the kitchen again and I see both my parents in clear sight, set against a backdrop of rolling hills.  My mother stands beside my father; both are formidable, both are surveying their realm of power.  As I move towards them, I see myself in the scene as well.  But not standing in their shadows’ cast as I thought; I am standing between them and the sun.

Power was my currency before it became my family’s form of exchange.  As a young child I felt the powerlessness of being unable to make my parents happy.  I took on the burden of their stuff but I made no difference.  I chose to be responsible for their feelings and take the blame for my mother’s dissatisfaction with life and feel my father’s pain of being unworthy.  But nothing changed.  Nothing got better.  No-one became happy.  I refused to acknowledge my failure or accept that I could not change what my parents had already chosen as their experience.  I was determined that my will was greater than the force of Universal Will.  Thus I chose to experience my world through the lens of power, and my life became a quest for it.

In the paradigm of power, the choice is annihilation or domination.  Rather than continually feel the pain of my own powerlessness, I became angry and made my father wrong.  He was the one I wanted and he was the one who withheld.  I insisted he was responsible for delivering me my experience of love.  And when I couldn’t get his love, I demanded acceptance and safety.  Presented with a choice between a parent who blamed the world for her misfortune and a parent who was indifferent to the world, I chose indifference over suffering.  But the more I demanded from him, the greater the gift of the opposite I received.  I developed all kinds of strategies to get what I desired, but my father’s indifference masked a deep wound equal to my mother’s, and punishment, judgement and criticism were his defence.  But his pride kept him from despising me, so he was more easily manipulated than my mother.  I didn’t want love from her; the price was too high, and her promises rarely kept.  So I stopped wanting when it was apparent she couldn’t give.  And that I learned early, before there were words.


Learning to Love the Darkness

While I am caught up in the excitement (and relief!) of my re-found appetite for creating a new life for myself, I notice how easy it is for me to want to pull myself back to the old energy, even if it is simply to reflect upon how much I have not fully participated in life.  Since returning to Australia five and a half years ago (after a thirteen-year absence), I have slowly and systematically reduced my involvement in life.  In writing this, I intend to be done with re-visiting that contracted energy for good.  I have been deceiving myself for quite some time, believing that I have been embracing life – at least to the extent of my capacity.  Although I’ve been acutely aware of my limitations – money and health being two major ones – I have kept active and involved by creating and maintaining friendships, studying at university, and working occasionally.  Life has always seemed busy and full, and oftentimes, more than I could manage.  Feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet deadlines happened often.

It is interesting to notice the part of me that wants to go back to that energy and wallow.  Wallowing in the past is the same as taking a step back in time and replacing my energy in that time.  And when I return to the present, some fragment of my energy remains behind – and I have less of myself here right now to accomplish what I want to do.  What a neat trick of self-sabotage!  I had believed I was having a good ole’ chew at what the Universe had served up to me, but yesterday, I had the crushing realisation that I have not been gnawing hungrily at life.  But my habit is to judge myself harshly for failing, for making a mistake, and especially, for letting myself down.  And when I move into self-judgement, I believe I deserve punishment.  Of course I cannot allow such an overt submission to sabotage, so I seduced myself with the insight – because I love to discover something new about myself – that I am a failure and disappointment because I gave an impression of being involved in life.  And here’s the kicker – the real reason I feel justified in kicking myself until I bleed – because I gave myself the impression of being involved in life.  By the way, that impression of involvement satisfied me in many ways and seemed to fool most of my friends too.  Maybe I’ve kept busy being an active participant in their lives!  While that is probably true, in the process I’ve convinced myself I have no more capacity for life; and especially, that I have no more time or room for more of me.

Now I can see how this relates to another childhood belief – the story my parents told me that there was no room for me.  They offered me very limited parameters of how I was allowed to express myself and constrained me with all sorts of manipulations. They had no room for little Raquel to bring her gifts, her passions, her enthusiasms, her love, her chaos, mistakes, indeed, any part of her into their existence… Ironically, I have clutched onto this story like it was the only true thing that could save me from the pain of this world.  I have transported it into my adult life and concretised it as a belief system, even canonised it as faithful gospel.  I believed that because my parents had no room for me, life also had no room for me.  I generalised my parents’ refusal of my ‘being’ to a conviction that the Universe did not want me.  That ‘no room’ for any part of me in their existence meant I could not bring any part of myself into any existence.  I change this belief now.  I uncreate, delete and destroy any belief that there is no room for me and that I do not deserve to take a place – my place – in this world.  There is room for the hugeness of me!  After all, it is my world.

I know the Universe has given me the opportunity to uncover this belief many times; this time I am able to acknowledge the energy which pulls me back as being part of me, and give it the understanding, the love and the compassion it has never received…the part of me that has been lying in the shadows, entreating me to love the darkness.