Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The impossibility of anyone leaving


There is a “layer” of psychological existence beneath all the places most of us live and walk.  It’s our babyhood meaning and our infancy meaning.  It is similar to a child’s emotion: When voiced to a hearing and caring adult, an emotion passes on yet integrates into a benign stability; but when it’s unexpressed or unheard or shamed by an adult, it never leaves.  One deepest layer, personally known to me but vaguely, is the symbiotic dependency.  For some of us, because it was never succored at critical moments – never fully “heard” by the parent – it never leaves.

I remember the end of life, maybe around age three-and-a-half, before the family moved from Wilmington, Delaware to Baltimore, Maryland.  Mother left me at some sort of downtown daycare room for possibly several hours.  I remember there were strange kids, a thin mat for naptime, a woman whose friendliness was empty to me, and the hollow frightened depression of the alienness of it.  But what my psyche heart remembers most was mother’s leaving.  This is because it was impossible.  I could not be left, because as a young unformed child I had no existence apart from her.  From that moment on, in a real way, I have remained standing there in the impossible, in disbelief, a toddler, in the end of life.

A client’s wife divorced him and has called the police several times because he does not obey the civil protection order against telephoning her and “driving by.”  He must call and look, whatever the consequences.  He has no life without her, and without being supported by his little child and stepchild.

A woman was granted Family Medical Leave because she could not function at work.  Each day she simply sat at her desk and stared tearfully at the framed photograph of her son.  She is one of the few adults I’ve diagnosed with Separation Anxiety Disorder, doubly true, because it must be her own infancy’s incompletion that paid forward into her children: a childlike mother seeking a mother in the baby.

It’s a certainty that this radical, embryonic broken link is at the base of many sophisticated dependencies – the glamorous and turbid romances we feel deeply about in movies and novels and poems.  It’s in suicides of loss and in stalking and in codependent controlling mothers.  It’s in individuals who seem to have a normal life but find that their ideas feel tin-made or cut in half: There’s something blocking their greater depth.  It’s in men like me who are fine and independent when our partner is there somewhere, but who turn instantly vacant when she is not.  How deceptive it is: Attached to the other, a man may even rage, reject and exterminate her, then evaporate when she is gone.

Part of my fallout of ruined symbiosis is an interesting feeling, so submerged I might remind myself of its presence once every decade or so: the feeling that no one can ever really say goodbye to me.  In the viscera, I do not believe that a person can leave me.  Any ending cannot happen.  How can anyone, whom I’ve met maybe only once, ever leave and become unconscious of me, where I must forget them?  How could a friend?  And there is, also impossibly, the sweet feeling that all minds, eyes and hearts, once met, must eternally be linked: We must all always know each other always supported.  Clearly this aberrant truth is a red tide bloom of the psyche, blood-dark gravity that came from one ripped flower at a moment of childhood: Mother left.

One wonders what other broken flowers are hidden there.


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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.