Attachment Wound

Ache in my heart.  Ache in my whole torso.  Empty.  Without meaning.  I think “It doesn’t have to be this way.”  I remember being at Kindred Spirits and feeling OK.

Erica called this “the attachment wound,” this being alone, without meaning, the ache in my heart, no reason to do anything…  I feel the tears behind my eyes.  But I was only able to cry when I had Erica on the other end of the phone.

Two friends, living alone, told me recently that when they were sick, stuck in bed, one of their children came to take care of them.  I envy these women who have someone who will show up when they need help.

When we were on the phone, I told Erica that I was reaching out.  She said No, that “we” had to be the ones who came to her.  I didn’t understand at the time, but now I see, as I’m sitting here, that what I need is someone to come to me because she cares about me.  The wound is “I cried and cried, and nobody came.”  So many times I wrote that in my journal, and had no idea what it meant until I understood about the trauma.  So much of my life spent in fantasies of the man who would come and love me into reality.  I said of being with Christine and Susan “after a while I began to feel human.”  That startled me at the time.  But then I realized that that described how I felt when I was alone.  I don’t feel human now.  I am nobody, a non-person.  I think of Eleanor saying she doesn’t think she is human.  We aren’t real, we aren’t human, until someone from outside sees us truly.  Elizabeth Goudge says “Identity is the gift of love.”  I think of Father Greg saying “and the soul felt its worth,” saying “You are just what God intended when God made you.”  You have to be seen, seen for who you really are.  I suppose that’s what Erica is doing for me.  I remember Dana saying “I can’t handle your energy.”  And feeling seen instead of wondering if I was too noisy or too quiet.

O yes, the thing about needing someone to notice that you need help and coming to offer it, instead of always having to reach out.  How do I approach the lost part of me to comfort and reassure her?  But it’s not “part of me,” it’s me.  It’s me who has to be rescued.  There’s no one here to do it.

Why did this happen?  I was alone too much between Christmas and New Years.  I had hoped to spend some time with Evelyn, but it didn’t work out, and I hadn’t set up anything else.  I remember the first time I went to stay with her, and she said “O goody, someone to cook for.”  How it warmed my heart.  On the other hand I just accepted it when Dana stopped cooking for me.  He said “You aren’t fun to cook for any more.”  I must have been terribly hurt at one level, but numb to it.  Expected that no one would want to cook for me.  No one ever cooked for me when I went “home” to my alcoholic parents.  So I was alone too much over the holidays.  No Erica, no Cory.  I talked to Karen instead of going to Montpelier.  Then last Tuesday I wasn’t able to get to Erica, so we talked on the phone.  But I think I need physical presence, the baby needs physical presence.  Words don’t mean much to her.

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Hatred will not cease by hatred..

… hatred will only cease by love.  This is an eternal law.        Buddha

I have been very upset by all the people and organizations that I support who are  attacking Trump.  I think this is wasted effort, and it only entrenches Trump voters.

What I would like to see happen:  first of all Van Jones is producing a series called the “Messy Truth.”  (You need to scroll down to the “messy truth.”)  He makes it so clear that what we need is dialogue.  Staying on our own side of the division just makes everything worse and is not democracy.  The system in our country now is not democracy.  It has been an oligarchy — rule by the wealthy — for a long time.  Van Jones says that both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have failed the working class, that they made big mistakes and need to correct them.  He interviews an Ohio family who voted Democratic for years, voted for Obama twice, then voted for Trump.  Their reasons make perfect sense.  Thinking they are “stupid” is a big mistake.

We would do much better to focus on Bernie’s vision for our country.  My notes are not exact so I have given the link to the relevant speech here.  Bernie says that we can create a democracy that works for all of us, not just the 1%,
we can guarantee health care to all people as a right,
we can have paid family and medical leave,
we can make public colleges and universities tuition free,
we can lead the world in transforming our energy system and combatting climate change,
we can break up the large financial institutions,
we can demand that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes.

That will happen when millions of us stand together and create a government that works for all.

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The Enormous Regenerative Power of Mother Earth

So many people have been writing about how they are grieving the damage humans have done to the earth, and their fear that we will damage the earth irreparably.  As a scientist, and one who knows that the best we can do is check hypothesis (AKA guess) against data, I have a good idea of how science works and its limitations.  Nothing is ever solid.  Paradigm change happens all the time.  I have a degree in Astronomy, and I know that the universe is unbelievably beautiful, unimaginably complex and interconnected, far beyond our powers or understanding, and that nothing that happens is random.

Books to read:    EarthDance by Elisabet Sahtouris
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

I know that the regenerative powers of Mother Gaia, our planetary life support system, are enormous.  The worst case scenario — atomic holocaust — would not kill all the people, it will just kill off those who are living unsustainably.  Those who know how to live with respect for the earth, will not only live, but will know what to do to stay alive and healthy.  I expect it will take nature a couple of thousand years to clean up the mess, and that’s just the blink of an eye, geologically speaking.

I wrote this in 2004.  It’s at the end of “A Circle of Hope.”

I was reminded yesterday of something that gave me great hope at the time, but there was a further lesson to be drawn from it:  there’s a business called Ocean Arks, that designs systems to deal with various kinds of water waste — like the Living Machines in Burlington and at Findhorn that deal with sewage.  John Todd designed a system for a candy company, to handle 10% of their waste…
“One Friday a computer malfunctioned and sent 100 percent of the waste in to the eco-machine, overloading the system.  “A godawful mess — foam, fats, oil, dead fish — everywhere,” says Todd.  Disgusted employees turned off the pumps and went home for the weekend.  But when they returned on Monday, the eco-machine had rebalanced itself.  “They were so startled by this self-healing; that’s what turned the tide and allowed us to continue with other projects,” says Todd, who confesses surprise himself.”  (from story in Hope Magazine, Jan/Feb 2004, written by Sarah Tuff)

This is Gaia, in small, an eco-system that’s capable of handling an overload of toxic stuff.  Humans created the mess, but humans also designed the solution and when they did something magical happened: nature joined the fight. One-celled creatures and plants and fish somehow cooperated to deal with the mess. Guess what, everybody – WE ARE NOT ALONE.  Even the algae are fighting to save planet earth. Nature is on our side and ready to help the moment we open the door — remember the 40 pound cabbages at Findhorn, and the rainforest that’s regenerating under the pines of Gaviotas.  There’s this huge process working toward health, awareness, consciousness, compassion – and it’s bigger than we are, big as the planet, maybe even big as the universe (Today I believe for sure as big as the universe) and our circle dancing community is part of it.  We are part of how the human community re-balances itself — we don’t have to know how, all we have to do is keep on doing what we do.

More evidence for my hypothesis:  I heard about this story a while back.  People removed a hundred year old dam, and the salmon started swimming back up it.  When I googled it, looking for facts, this is what I found:  What happens when you demolish a dam.  It took two weeks for salmon to return. In the story, they don’t say how extraordinary this is.  The dams have been there for 100 years.  It has been a hundred years since a salmon has returned to its spawning ground. Generations of salmon have lived and died without returning to their special spot.  How did they know how to return, where to go?

I also read a story about how removing pigs and rabbits from a small Pacific island allowed the native flora and fauna to rebound, and it happened faster than anyone expected. When I googled it I found a lot of scholarly papers and more complete stories.  The process has been done on many many islands, and it’s more complex than my simple description makes it sound.  Alas it involves killing the invasive animals.  But nature does rebound.

In 2010, the Nature Conservancy and other organizations bought a huge “station” in Australia.  Europeans had tried to grow cattle and sheep on huge tracts of land in a region where the dry climate made it very difficult.  So this was an experiment in returning to the indigenous ways of managing land.  Many positive results have happened since.

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May 1970

Yesterday I said to my therapist “I have the illusion that I’m not a loving person.”  O my.  Words that come out of my mouth like that are true.  So I have to really get it.  Reminded me that once, long ago, I wrote in my journal (on the left hand page which was left blank for comments from the future) “you know — I like you…”  so I looked it up.  I opened the document for journal 1970, and it came open to this:

May 1970  Written in Davis just after the killings at Kent State.

I am so cold.  the darkness is all around.  i shelter my tiny flame which flickers desperately in the storm.  i cannot do anything.  i have no friends to ask for help.  my talisman is a bottle of stomach pills which contain belladonna and phenobarbital.  belladonna is a poison and phenobarbital a barbiturate so the whole bottle of pills plus half a bottle of whiskey or so should do the trick.

I do not know yet, perhaps i am writing this book to justify my own suicide — the point where I say “oh, so that’s the kind of person i am.  oh, so that’s the reason i am writing.”  i think perhaps i am one of those people whom god did not mean to live.  i should have died of smallpox, perhaps, at the age of eleven, in the golden years before the war.  but modern technology spared me for the anguish of a crippled mind facing an insane and anguished world.

The world is not really falling apart.  The bombs have not started to fall here yet, and no one has yet fired a gun on this campus.  But the university is closed down and we are all wandering blindly like ants when their log is turned over.  i can’t find any friends.  i can’t find any of the members of my karass.  i cannot find any one with whom i could sit down and say “we are soul brothers.  we are water brothers.  we are brothers.  let us sit here and keep the faith shining.”

I am so desperately in need of love and to find people with whom i can hold hands and walk forward, but everyone seems to feel my need and run from it. and i have nothing to give.  how can i take the emptiness inside, the anger and hatred and fear, but mostly the emptiness, how can i turn it into love which flows outward, into a golden flame which i maintain inside so that others can come and be warmed by it.

shipwreck.  Shattering-so-that-someone-will-come-and-pick-up-the-pieces.  fantasies of suicide which end not with death but with rescue, (are not all conscious suicides cries for help.)  a familiar pattern — trying to get people to come to you, to respond to you because you are or you act the struggling martyr — “look how bravely i am bearing up under the sorrows i so sensitively feel” meaning “help me!  help me!” but no one responds to that.  People come to and like someone with something to give — an aura of strength, warmth, stability, courage.  What are those values that i was trying to keep alight inside during the short period when i had a human soul?  love, tenderness, compassion, mercy, reverence.

the answer my friend is blowin in the wind — but the wind is about to blow it out.

i could turn my face to the wall and simply stop eating.  though i am afraid that i have lost the ability of the more primitive and dignified men to choose death.  is it time to give back the gift?  but i have done nothing with it.  but then again the “true meaning” of my life is probably not at all what i would think it was.

why am i in such bad shape that the world looks utterly hopeless?  i am a weakling and a coward  (“oh, so that’s the kind of person that i am is it”) a little voice fights that judgement but that may be only the last vestige of pride or idealism.  perhaps if i could fully accept that i am a weakling and a coward then i could perform whatever tasks are appropriate to weaklings and cowards, instead of doing absolutely nothing at all.

Written later on the opposite page:
you know — i like you.  there is power along with the pain.  a sense of irony and a sense of humour. too bad there is no place for you in the world.  you see too clearly in vast (astronomical?) terms, but not clearly enough in day to day terms.  your visions are irrelevant.  i wish that you could be happy because i like you — in spite of the fact that you are totally irrelevant and useless

no it would be hard work to climb over the sides of the Golden Gate Bridge and a longtime thinking on the way down.

ive been over this ground so many times before. and i have gotten nowhere. im still hoping that someone will come along who will love me so much that it would fill the great abyss of emptiness inside.  or just that there would be a man who could shut out the abyss with the warmth of his body.  but its nonsense.  my only possible source of strength to go on is within myself.  how can you found strength upon the abyss?  somehow i know that it is possible.  that is what is called an act of faith.  remember that the abyss is deeper than the lack of love.  the abyss is rooted in the universe, in billions of years of star formation, element building and planetary evolution.  the atoms of my body existed for years beyond count in the depths of space, in supergiant stars, in rocks, in amoebae, in fish, reptiles, mammals before they ever came together in a being that was able to suffer from lack of love and from lack of meaning and from lack of community which contains both.

how?  a positive idea?  what if i tried to put together a therapy group (i would need to find a therapist) for all those of us who would like to do useful work in “the movement” but cannot because of our own emotional hang-ups.  go back and work with your own people first.  my own people are not my parents but the crazy ones.  perhaps thats a task suited to a weakling and a coward.  to set up a group in which other weaklings and cowards can reinforce their excuses for not acting.

having neatly demolished that little idea, (observe how well she plays “yes, but”) we will now return to drama and tragedy.  unfortunately i seem to have recovered my sense of humor and though the bottle of pills still seems like a possible door to open (emergency exit only) i have to laugh at the same time.

Since all that i have written seems so stale and tiresome (i started to compile what I thought were the most powerful of my writings, but the project went dead) it might be amusing to go through my notebooks and make caustic comments from the barren perspective of 1970.

This was written the year that I went back to Portland Maine, and spent that horrible cold winter in the snow.  This writing shows the exact flavor of that winter.

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To be Loved or Hurt?

Monday

I told Lynelle that I couldn’t imagine that Erica could help me.  I have an appointment with her tomorrow.  Lynelle suggested I have a conversation with the part that is trying to protect me.  Who is the one in me who feels hopeless and helpless, doesn’t see anything she can do to help herself, can’t imagine anyone would come to help her?  She’s a baby, a truly helpless creature, and her mother has left her for too long.  She doesn’t understand what is going on, she has no concept of death, but her reptilian brainstem has concluded that she is going to die.  So her brain is making it easier to surrender into death.  There’s no point in fighting.  So she feels very quiet and calm and despairing, not caring what’s going to happen.  Since she doesn’t think anyone can help her, and Erica is out of sight and doesn’t exist, she can’t imagine any help tomorrow.

What can I say to her?  I can scoop her up and cuddle her but I’m not sure it will make a difference.  So often I wrote in my journal “All I want is for someone to come put their arms around me and tell me everything’s going to be all right.”  To be responded to.  To be met at the place where I am.

She’s crying and crying.  I pick her up and try to comfort her.  She stiffens her back and screams louder.  I start walking, rocking her a little.  What can I sing?  “Goodnight, bonne nuit, oyasoumenasai…”  I keep this up for a long time, imagining holding her in my heart as I’m holding her in my arms.  Eventually she calms down and goes to sleep.

Wednesday

Woke up scared and bleak.  Hard to get out of bed.  Peace.  Love.  Justice.  Thankful for Mocha.  Thankful for a roof over my head.  Thankful for a warm place to sleep.  Trying to find compassion for myself.  I just feel blank.  Trying to find compassion for baby Jenny, alone and scared.  My heart stays frozen or numb or shielded.  There, there, dear.  Of course you need to shield your heart.  You’ve been hurt so badly, so many times.

I read Erica the piece about trying to comfort the baby and how she stiffened and screamed.  Erica said that when I was alone, I shielded my heart to protect myself.  When someone offers love I open up in hope because I want it so badly, but then I’m scared of being hurt again.  The confusion is very tangled and painful.

My poor heart.  I feel so disconnected.  I told Lynelle what Erica said, and how I wasn’t really able to connect with her.  Lynelle said she could spend a whole session trying to connect, that it was hard, hard work — “and then at the end of the hour you have to leave.”

I feel so disconnected, so lonely and isolated.  It reminds me of that first winter in Portland, when I was severely depressed, and so cold. so unconnected.

Take a big big step back.  Here’s Jenny, left alone too much when she was a baby.  Her heart was broken then, and so she keeps desperately wanting to be loved by someone.  She also wants to love — because actually loving feels so good — but most of the time she just knows she loves, she doesn’t feel it.  She is in fact a very generous, loving, nonjudgmental person.  But she doesn’t know that in any way that would comfort her.  O gosh there actually must be a lot of people who feel like that, with stony hearts, afraid to love.  Some of them abuse others, some are addicted, some are locked in asylums.  I’m thinking a lot must kill themselves, living with this conflict is much too hard, but then I realize that those who are carrying on “normal” lives are in denial.  Actually feeling the wound and the conflict and the helplessness is unbelievably painful.

Thinking of the winter in Portland, I feel a surge of compassion for that Jenny.  I pull her into a hug and onto my lap, she’s a young child.  I hold her and tell her I love her, and she won’t have to leave at the end of an hour, I will be here.  I will always be here.  Something inside feels warmer.

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END OF THE LINE: THE WOMEN OF STANDING ROCK

Quote from the fundraising page for a documentary being made by Shannon Kring.
As you can see, they have already got the amount they asked for.

“It’s very simple. We have to have water for life. And so we’re petitioning the world community to join our campaign. Every effort we make is for all of our children and grandchildren. We make a commitment to continue the struggle, and to make every effort for all of us.”        – A woman of Standing Rock

The women of Standing Rock do not call themselves protestors. They are protectors. In interview after interview, they explain that their fight is for the greater good. Standing Rock is their home, but Mother Earth is home to us all.

Since the women of Standing Rock began their peaceful protest on April 1, 2016, pipeline spills in the U.S. alone have dumped 244,900 gallons of crude oil and tar sands, and 384,300 gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline.

Last year, there were 132 major spills. That’s approximately one every three days.

Human rights, land rights, and environmental justice concern us all.

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Wisdom from Children

This happened at the Water Protectors camp at Standing Rock:

One morning, a 14-year-old girl asked those sitting before the sacred fire to reflect upon the trauma that may have occurred in the lives of the pipeline security guards who attacked members of the camp with dogs and pepper spray. “Something painful must have happened to them as children. Maybe they didn’t have loving parents,” she said. “Maybe they were abused. They need kindness. I ask you to forgive them.”

This quotation is on the DailyGood for December 5

When I find myself angry or scared about what’s happening in our country, I remind myself of this.  Also those men, who care only about money and power, have no compassion because they have shriveled hearts.  Hearts get shriveled by being hurt badly when you are a defenseless child.

This is why Jesus said from the Cross: Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

We had a totally wonderful experience after our performance of Journey Into Courage in Castleton.  There were a number of children in the audience from a camp that is an alternative to prison.  The day after our performance, we went to the camp and participated in their assembly.  At first the kids asked questions, but then they began to tell their own stories of what had happened to them, the abuse they had suffered.  Afterward the counselors said they had never heard some of the stories.  The one that was most moving was when a teenager stood up and said “I was a sexual abuser.  But now that I know what my victims suffered, I will not be able to do it again.”  The reason why one child will abuse another is to avoid feeling the pain of what happened to him.  This is how people’s hearts get shriveled.

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Some Tremendous Compassion

Woke up feeling bleak again.  Very disappointing when the news is good — the DAPL is stopped for the moment.  Well, I hope there will be some serious rethinking, and in particular a serious study of environmental consequences. which has been bypassed by trickery.

In church, in the time for our “joys and concerns” I asked for prayers for all the people at Standing Rock, prayers for the Water Protectors, prayers for the military and police who are trying to move them, prayers for the veterans who have come to support the Water Protectors.  I asked them to pray for a peaceful solution.

Snow is falling.  “The black hills are white…”  from a song called “Time to Move On” from the 60’s.  I hear the plows on Three Mile Hill.  I feel so sad.  Mostly my heart is with the Water Protectors, but also with the riders of Dakota 38.

I’m thinking about my realization from yesterday, that Spirit holds the whole planet.  How do I know this?  It’s from a quietness inside, that seems to connect with a vast quietness outside.  A sense of this quietness having solidity and weight even though it’s not material.  I feel a curve and realize that it goes through my arms, as though I am holding the planet.  I think back to the Ocean of Compassion.  This is bigger.

About Tommy, a character in an Elizabeth Goudge book, who is upset about a small boy killed in an automobile accident:  “He did not … wonder if his own warm anguish of pity was a faint echo of some tremendous compassion identifiable with the life that held the universe in being…”  Heart of the Family, p170

Could not find “Time to Move On” on the internet.  The relevant verse is:

The dry days have turned into years,
We watered the earth with our tears,
It’s been snowing all night,
The Black Hills are white
And it’s time, Babe, time to move on.

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Hope

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.  It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
— Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

I’m glad I arrived at that understanding yesterday: that the earth has tremendous powers of regeneration, that the universe is not random, that the arc of evolution bends toward consciousness, compassion and justice.  These are things I know.  They are like bedrock, and stop me when I start to slide down.  The thing that’s missing is any sense that I am loved for myself.

To have something to stand on, to have something to lean against.  Even with that, I still feel bereft of human companionship which is the wound of trauma in infancy.  At least I don’t feel like I am going to slide down into major depression.  I do feel like I can hold on to my values and my vision, through whatever disasters are coming in the future.  I wish I could say with Etty that life is beautiful.  I can still occasionally, or in tiny flashes, see the beauty of nature, and I know it’s there even when I can’t enjoy it.  The ability to enjoy is destroyed by depressive brain chemistry, appreciation can be done by will.  I know that life is meaningful because the universe is not random.  I don’t know how my life is meaningful, but I know that it is in that huge context.

So that is my certainty that “things make sense.”  That doesn’t mean that I expect that everything’s going to be all right, especially for myself.  Nevertheless, I can still take a stand for the things I value — peace, love, justice, mercy, truth, hope — and hold my vision for my country (courtesy of Bernie) where everyone has medical coverage as a right, there is paid medical and family leave, colleges and universities are tuition free.  We can lead the world in transforming our energy system and combating climate change, break up the large financial institutions, and demand that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes.

I do not expect this to come true in my lifetime.  I do think that the unsustainable way we are living will soon collapse, and I don’t know how many of us will survive.  I doubt very much that I will.  I’m 74 years old, not terribly robust, and dependent on medication.  I do know that somewhere in the future, people will learn how to live in a way that works for all, that we will understand that the earth is sacred, and treat her that way.

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Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for Mocha.  I’m thankful for a body that’s in pretty good condition.  I’m thankful for my friends.  I’m grateful for food to eat and a roof over my head.

A visit with a friend.  I told her I was badly depressed because of the election.  She said she always had hope and she preferred not to think about bad things.  Then she started telling me what she says to people who complain — “Oh, I don’t mean you” — but as she went on I had to say, as gently as possible, “please stop.”  She did, and didn’t seem to resent it either.  Yes, denial is a very effective mechanism to keep you from feeling pain.  But I have too much respect and reverence for the truth to be able to ignore it.  What I need is some kind of balance, a faith like Etty’s that life is beautiful and meaningful.  I keep losing that, and then the awful things that are happening pull me way down.

Driving home, I thought about hope.  Had I given up hope?  No.  I think we are in for a bad time.  How we are living is unsustainable and will have to collapse.  Some sort of community will come together in the ruins.  What I hope is that they will have learned that we need the skills to live sustainably in community, we can’t live any other way.  So that’s my hope.  My fear is that we will have damaged the earth’s life-support system so badly — but no, I know that the earth has tremendous powers of regeneration.  I know that the design of the Universe is not random.  I know that the arc of evolution is long — millions of years long — but it bends toward consciousness, compassion, and justice.

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