Day 201 “Mental Balance”

I am travelling in the South with my son and one of his friends. We stop at a roadside restaurant and after being seated and ordering drinks, realize there is nothing that I can eat, so we decide to leave. John and his friend go to get the car while I settle up with the waitress. I spend a bit too much time talking and explaining and when I emerge from the restaurant, John, friend, and car are gone. My son has grown impatient with me and moved on. I am in a state of disbelief, rage, and then deep concern for my baby.

When I wake up, I can’t shake the emotions. Usually I dream that it is Thor that abandons me, but now it is my son? Obviously the dream is about more than being abandoned by my loved ones. So what does it mean?

I think back over my day leading up to the dream. Even though my new regimen requires that I sandwich exertion between periods of rest, I decided yesterday to proceed as if I wasn’t sick. I rolled from one activity into another and ignored the growing state of dis-ease. I pushed through, without pacing myself.

I’d always thought my abandonment dreams about Thor were related to his illness and my fear of losing him. John is a steady and loyal son, and never gives me reason to fear. Clearly the dream source is trying to tell me to revisit this particular theme. Who is abandoning whom? What if the dream is telling me that a part of me is neglecting another part of me? What part of self does Thor and my son represent? What part of me is always left feeling angry and forgotten?

John is typically patient and compassionate with me. He loves me like a son loves a mother: wholeheartedly. He laughs at my foibles, and shares with me his concerns. It would be totally out of character for him to drive away and leave me stranded in some strange, isolated place. So what part of me that is typically patient and compassionate, left me out in the cold yesterday? That is easy. It was the part that makes sure I am setting boundaries and taking care of myself. That part was definitely missing in action! I even went to Costco, even though I was overextended before I left the house, and walked the store despite my immediate recognition that all systems were overtaxed by the crowds and overabundance of stimuli. Then I came home and ignored my need to retreat into restful silence and chose to socialize with my family, staying out of bed for the remainder of the evening. I was like a pouting two and a half-old-year refusing to go for a nap even though I was well past my limitations.

Another idea starts taking shape in my mind. There is something else that I have been ignoring, and “leaving behind”. It is my creative self. I spent the greater part of the weekend in Toronto visiting Ester and her family. As I usually do, I packed a notebook for writing and my ipad, and while I had several inspiring thoughts, I did not stop to jot them down. Not even on the train ride home, when I had more than ample opportunity. My mind was so ripe with creativity that I lay awake for hours last night, despite my fatigue, replaying my storylines, and still I did not venture to record it.

“I know what the abandonment dreams are about,” I tell Thor. “It is about the many ways I sabotage my writing. It is my writer self that is so disappointed, enraged, and heart-broken.”

“You have always wanted to write,” Thor agrees. “And I can’t imagine that writing takes too much energy in comparison with everything else. Wouldn’t it actually recharge you?”

I cannot argue with him. So why do I deprive myself so? Why have I been unable to commit to this innate, and eternal passion of mine?

Derek Linn suggests that in order to manifest we need mental balance: a state of harmony between the outer ego self and the inner wounded self (my words). The ego thrives on accomplishment, but the inner sense of unworthiness sabotages by pulling back. I have long recognized in myself the ability to be brave and courageous when what I stand to lose has little value, but highly resistant to put myself out there when the outcome means the world to me.

Writing, being a writer, means the world to me. To write, and be published, and acknowledged would be the ultimate life accomplishment. It feels so risky, so vulnerable, so potentially disastrous that there is no wonder I abandon it time and again; writing anonymous blogs, like taking that part of me on a trip, and then leaving it there – somewhere far away from home – where it can’t hurt me.

I love my writer self. I adore her with all the emotion of a tender spouse or loving child, but I just can’t seem to make that commitment. So I leave her behind, telling myself that one day I will give her what she needs – make her a priority.

And in the meantime, she wanders the unfamiliar corridors of my mind, alone on the dark streets of my fearful psyche, wondering what she has done to be so blatantly ostracized: abandoned and deeply pained.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.