“It’s not OK to be a baby”

The first draft for this post was done on December 28, 2020.  I think I must have got too sidetracked by the further lockdown and not talking to Erica over the holidays  to continue with it.  I see that it’s part of the story told in recent posts.  One part of me is upset that I’m still struggling with this, another part suggests that this much time had to elapse, I had to do some other work before I could really address it, perhaps I even needed to be working with Erica on the attachment issues.

Going back and reading that post I find that the other thing that was happening in the fall of 1992 was having asked Eleanor to leave, and then being tangled in agony about it. Reading my agonizing I see: I wasn’t capable of taking care of a dear, younger friend who was in trouble.  I finally had to turn my back on her, and then felt terrible about it.  NOW, only while doing this blog post, do I see that my situation was exactly what I describe for Mother:  I can’t take care of my friend, see that it makes me a bad friend, but I try my hardest to not blame her, I blame myself.  And instead of drinking to numb the conflict, I keep struggling with it.  I think it took sending Mother to the Light, and then identifying the 2-yr-old, before I could come to this understanding.  I feel relief and tears, and I throw my arms around 2-yr-old and tell her “You were doing the best you could with an intolerable conflict.”

from journal for September 18, 1992

At one point I said something about wanting to do a dialogue with the inner mother. Karen set me up with a cushion to represent baby Jenny, who is feeling upset and powerless and doesn’t know what to do.  When I switched to the mother side, I found I had no good “advice”, no useful thing to say, I felt equally upset and powerless and didn’t know what to do.  I held the “baby” and told her that.  Karen said “You don’t have to say anything, just be with her, just tell her it’s OK to be the way she is.”  I tried, but I couldn’t do it, I threw the cushion on the floor and pounded on it shouting “It’s not OK to be a baby, it’s not OK.  I don’t know how to take care of you, I want you to grow up fast and take care of me.”  Then I collapsed into sobs, I couldn’t believe I was saying that, in fact I stuck my butt up in the air like a baby pose, and cried and cried.  I went back and forth between trying to comfort the baby, and telling her it was not OK to be a baby.  Finally I got to the place where I could see that it was silly to tell a baby that it was not OK to be a baby.  Karen said something about the difference between not feeling OK and not being OK.  But I can see that I haven’t got it yet, though I’m glad to have the whole dynamic up in the air where I can see it.  It explains a lot about my pain about my mother, my expectations of myself. 

September 30, 1992

Work with Karen.  I saw an image of a baby who had been left to lie in its own shit, no one came to clean it up.  I could even smell the shit.  But I was identified with the person who was nauseated by the smell and didn’t want to clean it up, rather than with the neglected baby.  It’s still not OK to be a baby and to have needs.  Karen said that when those early needs were seldom met, or partly met and then nurturing was withdrawn just as I was starting to take it in, that then I would get into a posture of rejection, armoring myself, “independence.”  She asked how I would armor myself.  I said I go dead, I don’t feel.  But the need doesn’t go away, it’s there like a lump in my stomach.  What do I need to stay with that lump?  I stayed with it and discovered that it was like an egg, it needed to be incubated: I needed to surround it with warmth and patience, and let it ripen or hatch in its own time.  It feels easier to be patient and nurturing with myself through this image of the egg, than to wait in discomfort, hoping something will change and then starting to push myself.  The hard part is trying to “justify” being nurturing and protective of myself when I can’t imagine that I could ever produce something (a work of art, a book?) that would be valuable.  Karen said, from what she had seen of my creative process, that what I produced was “touching, … passionate, and very real.”  (There were two other adjectives after “touching” but I can’t remember them)  I could feel my stiff protection melt, and I began to cry.  What I need is not support or approval, but sensitive, intelligent, and honest feedback.  I’m sure that my protectiveness melted because her words were accurate.  Driving home it occurred to me that perhaps what I’m incubating is not so much a work of art as a new self.

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