the whole picture
In my therapy session yesterday the topic of romance came up. I had not intended to bring it up, but on certain days in our culture it can be difficult to avoid the maudlin. Valentine’s Day exerts its pull, even on The Resistance.
Yesterday’s post had a close-up of the rusty heart shown in this picture, the rusty heart with the nail holes in it, nail holes left over from when this particular piece of tin used to be part of a roof that sheltered people from the rain in rural Missouri.
Now the rusty heart with the old nail holes is in my kitchen as part of a small planter hanging in front of the fire extinguisher to hide it from view when I’m cooking, because who wants to look at a fire extinguisher when you could look at a dragon wing begonia instead?
I never noticed before this very moment that I habitually keep a box of matches right under the fire extinguisher. Yes, those are dirty dishes in the sink. Yes, I did make muffins for breakfast, and they were delicious. I’m not hiding anything from you. I want to present the whole picture.
The only twelve-step group I ever participated in is called SIA, Survivors of Incest Anonymous. Technically my next door neighbor was not a family member so it wasn’t incest, but the group broadens the term to include anyone you trusted. I loved Mr. McCormick! He played with me. What six or seven year old can resist that?
He also played with me. I really have never recovered. I am incapable of intimacy. I mean so far. I’ve come quite a ways in therapy. I feel very happy now in my little life with my dragon wing begonia blooming in the February kitchen. Why do I have to look at those matches and that fire extinguisher? But you know how therapy is, stuff comes forward, it doesn’t just stay behind the begonia.
I’d about decided love was not for me. I’ll love God, I’ll sing adoramus te, but not to humans. The wounds of childhood are directly responsible for the spiritual path I have taken, and for that I’m grateful! I thought I’d mostly healed the divisions in my personality, the splits, but then here comes this flirty sensual persona into my therapy session, dancing and swishing her hips around in my mind, trying to light a fire.
“Can you just let those feelings be there?” asked my therapist. She reminded me how I’ve done this many times before with other feelings, notice them, let them be, no need to do anything with them.
“No!” I said, surprising us both. “I want to kill them!”
Her face softened. That huge quiet compassionate look. You can’t resist that look. No one could.
“I can let both of those feelings be there together,” I said after a pause. “The I want to be touched feeling, and the I want to kill that feeling feeling. If they are together I feel safe.”
Meanwhile the begonia puts out a new flower. I make muffins for breakfast. I leave the dishes in the sink to write blogs, sharing myself in ways that feel daring but still ok. Better than ok, I love to write, I like to share my stories in ways that bring us closer. Me closer to you? Well perhaps that, and me closer to the parts of myself I am so wary of. The fire extinguisher and the matches are both in full view now, sitting right next to each other. Nothing new there, except that I noticed it.
After my therapy session I read a blog post by Sharon Salzberg about how your deficits can be a gift, making you more compassionate towards others. But I don’t really care about others. This is about me. Do I want to open up this old wound now and see if it will heal under my therapist’s gentle touch? Don’t ever say that word! No touching! But why would I leave a wound unhealed if I have the means to heal it? Why not leave well enough alone — you’re happy! All the voices had a turn to speak. We left the questions open. After I finish writing this blog I’m going to forget them again. I don’t have to worry about a decision. Whatever feels right for me will become obvious. No stopping progress, and no defining it either.