It's time to get writing again. New book contract signed, and thoughts are swirling. Indeed, I feel as if I am already writing the book in my head. Thoughts and observations, memories and ideas are coming at me faster than I can handle. So, I suspect that very soon I will sit right to it and let the words flow out onto the page. Recently I read a quote by Geneen Roth, that stirred the writing juices even more, for it brought up my personal story so dramatically that I knew I would be using pieces of it in my new book. For, in the telling of my own story, I encourage others to reflect on theirs.
To the extent that we go into survival mode—I can’t feel this, I won’t feel this, it hurts too much, it will kill me—we are slipping into baby skins, old forms, familiar selves. Young children, especially infants, mediate the pain of loss or abandonment or abuse through the body; there is no difference between physical and emotional pain. If the pain is too intense and the defenses are too weak, a child will become psychotic and/or die. It is life-saving for a child to develop defenses that allow her to leave a situation she can’t physically leave by shutting down her feelings or turning to something that soothes her. But if, as adults, we still believe that pain will kill us, we are seeing through the eyes of the fragile selves we once were and relying on the exquisite defense we once developed: bolting. Obsessions are a way we leave before we are left because we believe that the pain of staying would kill us. Geneen Roth.
Roth sums up pretty much everything I have been working on in therapy so intensively these past four years or so. While, her work deals with people's obsessions with food, my internal ethnography has helped me understand how, as an adult, I still believe pain will kill me. It is this realization that is helping me hold still with discomfort, and observe quietly and slowly so that I can make a connection with it, and let go of the fear. I understand that developing defense mechanisms saved me when I was growing up.
But giving up ancient survival skills that are now irrelevant or obsolete is a tough thing to do. For they were developed to help me survive!