Wednesday, November 14
My talk with Erica was really pretty amazing. She was absolutely delighted that I was really beginning to let myself rest. She said she had felt so protective of me at the beginning because I didn’t seem to have any idea that I needed protection. I realized, from the softness and caring in her voice when she says “It’s OK, Sweetie, you need a rest,” that I may be allowing myself to rest, but it’s still grudgingly. I’m still judging myself for having to rest. I also was able to understand why the Quaker meeting was so intense, and why I had to leave right away and not talk about it. She saw me protecting myself against something that really was too much for me. I see that having been expected to do things I couldn’t do when I was a child, I have always expected too much of myself, and judged myself harshly when I couldn’t do what I “should” be able to do.
In Friends’ Meeting, one woman had talked about being with her ex-husband when he died. He was an alcoholic, and they had had difficulties, but she was glad to be with him. But she said she reached a level of despair that no one could understand except the hospice people. It was Veteran’s Day and one of the men recited the poem “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row…” I got tears in my eyes, remembering that that was the first World War, and they talked about “shell shock” as being cowardice. It wasn’t until Vietnam, that people began to understand that it was PTSD, not cowardice. I identified with the soldiers with PTSD, but didn’t really get that I had been traumatized until I read Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger, in about 2003. As a consequence of what was said at Friends’ Meeting, I was seriously triggered by despair, death, and trauma.
Saturday, November 17
The session with Erica was surprisingly intense. I think I’ve been a little troubled that life has seemed so boring recently, and that I have been addictively buried in reading. I take my addictive reading — can’t put the book down — to mean that I’m avoiding something. At least I’m starting to have some trust that the process will continue even if I don’t get actively, cognitively, involved. Maybe there’s also some trust that whatever it is will emerge into consciousness when it’s ready.
Often when I think I am avoiding something, I start searching, desperately, to find it so I can fix things. I have to keep relearning that I can trust the process. I think of Parker Palmer talking about the soul, how it’s like a wild animal. “If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out.” from A Hidden Wholeness pp126-7