Continued from journal for February 18, 1992
What am I grieving for? All the losses of my life. I suppose I might as well list them. And immediately, up comes that sense of boredom and criticism, who do you think you are, you think your life should have been a bed of roses, stop complaining. Well, dammit, I will complain. I lost a chance to bond with my mother at birth, I think, because of standard hospital procedure. I also suspect I lost a healthy sense of my own hunger due to being fed on a schedule. I also suspect that my body and nervous system may have been weakened by the stress mother was under during her pregnancy. I didn’t have a sense of safety, of things being basically all right during my infancy. Mother must have been anxious about Dad, and lonely, and turned to me for comfort. So I never had a chance to ground myself in someone’s understanding, faith, competence. That feeling of no foundation, of nothing under me to hold me up, of having nothing to stand on. Another loss was the lack of bonding with my father, I was too old when he came back, he too immature, with unrealistic expectations. And of course neither of them knew how to help me when I got dethroned from my privileged position as only child by the birth of my brother. Thinking of them as Extravert Sensory types helps alleviate my bitterness that we never connected very well, that they never understood what was happening with me or what I needed, and I was always saying the wrong things to them. So — loss of any kind of fruitful relationship with my parents. Then the loss of any kind of normal experience during adolescence (except that romantic pain & pain of misunderstood is “normal”) — but if I had had some sense of confidence or self-esteem, some guidance through the difficult trials of trying to find my way through the reefs and shoals of trying to learn how to get along with the opposite six [sic!]. If I hadn’t had my sexuality frozen at age 12 by daddy’s thoughtless or drunken molesting, if I had had any sense of being attractive, if I hadn’t been so needy for affection, if I hadn’t been so alienated from my classmates by my intelligence and odd interests — adolescence would have been more of an adventure, more like that summer I spent learning geology in Wyoming. And the loss of my artist self — I suppose that’s one of the most painful — if I’d had more of a sense of being an artist it might have provided some grounding, some ballast, I wouldn’t have felt like I was floundering so badly, would have had more of a sense of wandering and exploring, even when there was pain and lostness, at least I wouldn’t have felt drowning or overwhelmed, I would have been able to stay with the wandering instead of frantically searching for something stable to hold on to. I wouldn’t feel like I had wasted all those years, I could have developed artistic skills under my belt, I would be able to draw and paint and dance and sculpt with clay as easily as I can write, I would have all those media to try to express myself in. Instead I feel painfully inadequate and crippled, stuck in the narrow channel of words because that’s all I was able to develop. And I would have had the self-esteem and the self-grounding that comes from using ones talents and capacities, even if no one had liked what I created, even if I hadn’t been able to make a living at it. Then I might have had a different set of losses to contend with. The other big one is the loss of my health, the lack of energy and the need for effort and discipline that require that so much of my life be directed toward trying to keep from getting sicker, so there’s nothing left for fun or for creativity. And the loss of my sex life: the painful painful affairs, blaming myself for being uptight, the long painful years of celibacy, and then finally not being able to share that with Dana. Health, creativity, sexuality, those are big losses. It is appropriate to mourn, and I have a right to grieve.
I feel like I’m carrying around this huge cold stone, like I’m pregnant with it, like it’s a chrysalis. I don’t know what’s inside, what will come out. Well stay with it as witness.
Walked the dog as far as Hughes, dragging my burden of sorrow. A good day for sorrow — soft sky, bleared sun, bleak trees. Faded blue sky full of little milky cloudlets. Mountains in sharp clarity and color, white snow, indigo on the high slopes, purple grey lower down. Details of ravines, firs following a stream, stand out in high relief. A mild damp day, no warmth from the sun.
Knowing about types from Myers-Briggs helped me see how different I was from Mom & Dad, allowed me to stop feeling guilty for not being able to connect with them better. Although I say I “have a right to grieve,” I’m not able to really do it. Not until Erica recommends Francis Weller, and I get the book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow, do I really understand that I do have a right to grieve. I finally start to be able to work with it, and discover that the unacknowledged and unvalidated grief was probably the source of my lifelong severe depression.