I had been thinking about some words from my journal for the 60’s “Well tranquillized for complicated return to P.A.” I don’t remember what happened that caused me to run to my aunt & uncle in Hillsborough. but I think my words triggered something. I started to feel activated. When the tea-water was ready, I decided it wasn’t tea I needed but meditation. So I set the timer and sat. And relaxed. Felt the fear and then realized it was one of the younger Jennys. I saw myself walking around and around in Jane’s back yard because I couldn’t sleep. Walking the basement corridors at Kripalu because I couldn’t sleep. I see my adolescent self, frantic and desperate, searching for refuge. Not even having much of a goal except to feel better so I could have a life. Mostly I was just trying to get away from the pain. I see myself running desperately down darkened corridors, knocking against walls, having no idea what to do to make things different, having no one to go to for help. I did finally start going to therapists, most of whom were helpful. Though I remember Dr. Levy, in Portland, who I experienced as disapproving and judgmental. “You do not know what wars are going on, down there where the spirit meets the bone.” I feel such compassion for my desperate younger self.
I’m still struggling with the pain of my adolescent self — well I’m not sure struggling is the right word. I feel the pain in the background, and there’s a habitual mechanism that tries to push it away, but when I notice it, I remember that it’s a part of me that I feel enormous compassion for. Then I can hold the pain in softness. It feels like that’s the best I can do. If I try to talk to her, to reassure her, she can’t hear me. So I just hold her. She is struggling with invisible pain, pain that’s not recognized by anyone around her. So she can’t really see and validate it for herself. That’s why she cut herself — the blood at least was real in a world of unreality. There was a quote from Jacqueline Winspear about veterans self-mutilating: Her heroine Maisie Dobbs remembering working with “shell-shocked” veterans of WWI — “There were men who … would cause themselves injury, as if to feel, physically, the wounds that lay in their souls.”
I read this to my therapist, who pointed out that I was able to be present to my adolescent self without trying to make her change. She also said that I had worked hard for years, worked devotedly and unrelentingly, to be able to be there for my desperate younger self.
“You do not know what wars are going on, down there where the spirit meets the bone.” From a song by Lucinda Williams.
The Jacqueline Winspear quote is from “Leaving Everything Most Loved,” p42