I haven’t posted to this blog in a long time. I moved into Kendal on November 20, and since then I have been overwhelmed with myriad details that have to be dealt with in a move. Though I was glad I didn’t have to sell my house before coming, and could continue to sort things out, it’s not easy to be living in two places.
I have been so busy with moving, and having to get a lot of practical details dealt with (getting a new phone, registering my dog and car with Kendal, etc.) that I haven’t been paying attention to my inner process. I have made a lot of silly mistakes, mostly losing something I just had. My therapist suggested that it might be due to my attention being dragged off to some inner process. So I spent some time trying to sink down under the practical stuff, and make space and safety for whatever it was to show itself.
What came was it’s about “home.” There’s a way in which I never felt at home anywhere. The music in my head a couple of days ago was “In the early mornin’ rain… she’ll be flying’ o’er my home in about three hours time…” Then David sang it last night. I can only think of moments when I felt at home. Flying over Ireland in ‘77 or ‘78. The Mound of Kerkado. Sitting in the house on Bickford Hill watching chickadees come to the feeder, and not feeling the push to do something “useful.” In the Rochester Zendo, by myself, on my sitting cushion, realizing “I’m going home. That’s what this is about.” Possibly dancing to the music of Alan Stivell, and feeling my Celtic ancestors rise up in my blood. Possibly the Chalice Well — “all burdens laid down.” or the Ocean of Compassion? I felt held. Kindred Spirits and the Recovery Community and feeling at home with people who tell the truth. Feeling like I belong, being able to let down all my defenses, feeling safe to be myself. That’s what home is. Feeling safe to be myself. I guess there’s a way it doesn’t have anything to do with a particular building and/or belongings.
I realize that I’ve never really felt at home in the world. The house where I grew up, at one time I thought it was a good house and deserved better than an alcoholic couple and their five children who were left to bring themselves up. When I think of it now, I see it as narrow and dark, and musty with neglect. I remember going “home” for a week in February, when I was living in Portland Maine. It was cold, and the house in Cincinnati had not been built for cold. No storm windows and the furnace couldn’t keep up. Not only was I cold the whole time I was there, but I was in a state of frozen terror the whole time. I didn’t understand it at all then, but now I know it was the “freeze” that happens instinctively when the creature cannot fight or flee. The house in Biddeford Pool felt like home when I was a child, but when I grew up, and it began to change, the magical country of childhood faded. I don’t think I ever thought about feeling at home, I suppose having never felt at home as I was growing up, I had no idea what it would feel like. I do remember something I called “that twilight feeling,” that I felt in the evenings when I was twelve. Mom & Dad had gone to a cocktail party and I was left to feed my three younger siblings and get them to bed. Then I would wander around the house as it got darker, feeling like my life stretched forward into grayness forever. I remember when I first knew that I was suffering from clinical depression, and the therapist I was seeing, a specialist in mood disorders, asked me when I first felt depressed. I started telling her about “that twilight feeling” and realized that it was depression. When I finally got on medication that worked, I was astounded to find that normal brain chemistry was something I had never experienced.
“… for home to me was certainly never anything remotely material. It consisted, I have decided, in something I sensed as refuge: an atmosphere of safety in the love between my parents. It came in a tone of voice, in the preparation and eating of meals, in conversations during washing up and being busy in the garden.” from Dennis Severs, 18 Folgate St…. quoted in Deborah Crombie, Necessary as Blood, p203
In the morning I talked to Erica. It is so hard for me to get that what I am doing is a big deal, that my system is involved in processing a complex mass of material. Talking to Erica, I began to see that I needed some art materials, I need to work with color and shape and pattern. I realize that my job is not to try to put it all together in coherent fashion, my job is only to be aware of how it is today, and make a picture of it, or perhaps a visual rendering, or perhaps just an approximation.
Note: I often hear music in my head and I pay attention to the song as a message to me from my subconscious. Nearly always relevant.