My heart tapped upon my shoulder this morning, asking me to get up earlier than usual, it had something important to show me. I tried to ignore the request, but it was being asked with such yearning, I found myself getting up and walking down the stairs. The alarm that would wake me was still several hours away, the house was in that deep quiet darkness, when the moon has set, and the sun is still hours from rising. Sitting on my cushion, turning my attention in, a longing within me began to grow, so I settled to listen to the story that my Heart had to tell.
In the Hakomi training over this last year, I have had the opportunity to get curious about the way I work. Within the training setting, my mind is active and, on the prowl, looking for knowledge, information, understanding. Everybody organizes their lives in a way to reduce their suffering, that became clear to my mind early in the training. The more I learned of the stages of development for children, how each stage had a specific need, I begin to see how you might organize your life in such a way that you simply did not feel the pain from these unmet needs. How a child might choose a path of action that protected them from feeling pain from the unmet need ever again.
During the demonstrations, I begin to notice this longing that would arise as I observed the skilful means with which the teacher would help the student find their way, their way into their organization of life. With each little step, coming closer to the truth of why it all started. In that moment of truth, that moment of understanding, when the pain of the unmet need was fully alive, and the memory of the beginning of that pain was equally alive, the instructor would skilfully encourage a brightening of curiosity, to see how this child made choices, choices that would protect them for the rest of their life. As that understanding of the choices that were made, fully sank into place, the missing experience would be offered on the pillow of loving kindness, and magic would occur. I could feel within myself in these moments, a deep longing for something, but just exactly what, seemingly just beyond the tips of my fingers.
Aaron Schneider has spoken of the primal wound that can be carried from early life. He has spoken specifically of this wound in those who have been adopted and from his point of view, as a father of an adopted child. He speaks of how his wife was there at the moment of birth, to nuzzle and breast feed the child. How they spent days and weeks bonding to this child, and before they left to go home, they stopped by the birth mother to say goodbye. They watched in surprise as this young child whom they had handled, cared for, and loved for many weeks, smooshed herself into the chest of the birth mother in a way she had never done with them. In that moment, he knew of the broken bond that occurs in adoption. It is a bond that has no words, it is a felt sense of loss that many carry the rest of their days. They cannot put a finger on why, but they just do not feel like they are connected to anyone, or to anything. There is always this feeling of being adrift, just a little bit, in the world, and while there can be some sense of closeness, something pulls you up short and prevents you from stepping all the way in to the relationship. It is the little something that seems to hold you apart from others, that keeps you ever so slightly alone in this world.
Sitting on the cushion, my heart opened up to me, and let me feel this wound. It lets me see how my days are filled with interactions where I get close but remain just out of reach. Like watching a film where you walk through life with a force field surrounding you so that you never really touch anyone, and no one touches you. Profoundly sad, this loneliness, this isolation. I can see it stain each of the relationships that I have had and can see how it has driven my behaviours and actions over these years. I see the clinging nature of those early relationships, how I desperately needed to be loved, and needed that demonstrated often, inevitably driving a wedge into the relationship through this desperate need. Finding it over, once again the familiar feeling of abandonment returned. I joined the Marine Corps to find my inner strength, and it changed my sense of myself. It made me tough, allowing me to ignore these unmet needs, pain was just weakness leaving the body. Throwing myself into medicine, that need to connect found a small home within a field filled with unmet need. In medicine, I could truly be needed, and in being needed, this feeling of abandonment was kept at bay. It allowed me to ignore what was happening just below the surface, and my ‘work ethic’ got bigger by the day. If I had been addicted to cocaine, someone would have said something, but being addicted to medicine is so much more culturally acceptable. “It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour” ― Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. I had found solace in work, and for many years it kept a lid on things, until it no longer worked for me. Dissatisfaction and anger started to creep in, and moving systems, changing countries did not prevent the slow steady progression of burnout. “The difference between passion and addiction is that between a divine spark and a flame that incinerates.” ― Gabor Maté. I could feel the incineration happening, something had to move and change. This change began in 2014 as I started looking for ways to help those in my office that were hardest to reach. However, the one that was hardest to reach was sitting in the doctor’s chair, and ultimately, he is the one that needed the most help.
Sitting on the cushion in the darkness of the night, I listen to my heat tell me it is time. It is time to feel this missing moment, to feel this absence, to let it crack open my heart. It is not a task to do alone, because it is not a problem that occurred alone. It is pain left from broken relationship, and it is in relationship that it is healed. With wariness and no small fear, I step forward to ask for the help that I need. My heart speaks to me softly, and tells me it is time, time to sit with the ones I love most deeply and let them walk with me through this healing journey.
If any of resonates for you, and you happen to be curious, and wish to know more, do not hesitate to drop me a line. If you would like to know more about my work, or to work with me, feel free to contact me. I post regularly to Instagram (@gilgrimes), Twitter (gilgrimes) , Medium and Facebook (gilgrimes) about whatever arises. And if you would like to stay in touch sign up for my newsletter (probably once or twice a month at most).