Love, loss and longing have flitted in and out of my consciousness the last two weeks. Without my therapist DS (Deep Soul)’s presence, I have been a little boat on a deep body of water, trying to navigate emotions snapping like ravenous piranhas under my belly.
My husband was a welcoming dock. Warm lips and kind words lubricated my bow. I gratefully lost myself in him. It was a temporary reprieve from the somewhat inexplicable sadness and confusion kicked up in the therapy room.
At the same time, my spirits were lifted by the week-long visit of an old university friend who has been like a sister to me. She recently went through an extremely difficult time in which she was admitted to a psych ward with depression and anxiety. I slipped into a familiar caregiving role with ease and focused on her wellbeing with all my might. I wanted her to know how much she was loved and appreciated. We spoke for hours on end and I took off time from work to treat her and show her around. Most importantly, I was a container for all the emotions she struggled to handle. When she criticized herself, I questioned her beliefs behind the criticism and softened the blow. When frustration threatened to crack her apart, I stood patiently beside her and held her hand. I took in all her sadness and despair and reflected love and acceptance back. I did this because she needed me. And this is the care I would have wanted from someone had I been in a dark pit with no way out. Perhaps mirroring a therapist’s containing care was unsustainable but I think the holiday did her a world of good and it offered an escape for me.
I also leaned in to our upstairs neighbour, her husband and their adorable 11-month-old son. We have recently became close and I’ve developed a strong bond with their boy, who lights up with a smile and holds out his tiny hands every time he sees me. The friendship has been a welcome breath of fresh air for both of us. You see, my neighbour has a busy and sometimes lonely schedule as a famous pop singer.
Just as soon as our house was bustling and full of life, it emptied out. My husband left early this morning for a week-long business trip. A few hours later, I hugged my friend goodbye and watched as she left for back home. An empty house. The smell of the pancakes my friend made for a farewell dinner lingered in the air. I caught a whiff of my husband’s shampoo on our bedsheets.
Upstairs, I could hear my neighbour and her family packing for a month-long music tour overseas. They would be leaving before nightfall. Next door, I heard the sound of people packing up boxes and moving furniture out. It was the family of our elderly German neighbour who had come to move him into a retirement home. They painted over the oil splatters and smoke stains of a lonely man. They replaced the smell of neglect with the smell of paint and disinfectant.
The ache of loss dragged my stomach down.
I long to be okay with everything I am feeling. I long to understand why I sometimes feel so unworthy and damaged. Why do I feel like the love and happiness I receive will just as surely be taken away from me if I enjoy it and attach to it too much? Why am I so hyper-vigilant about possible abandonment and perceived alienation? I wish I knew.
The week stretches before me. I am scared. But I also see a time to sit. To contemplate. To feel everything. Life is bittersweet and the universe has thrown me a bone to keep the scales in balance.
I saw DS again tonight after a series of interrupted sessions. I was not quite sure what to expect after our tempestuous session last time. The session helped sooth me a bit and prepare for the week and our future sessions. As always, my dream last week spoke louder than words:
I used a magical machine that gave me the option to warp to different places. I pressed a button and it warped me to a house on a hill in a posh housing estate. I was invisible because the machine had put an invisibility cloak over me. From the patio, I could see a pool as well as the rolling countryside over the high walls and electric fencing. I guessed this was either DS’s house or his family’s house. I stood at the bottom of the house and saw a family on a higher patio playing around and joking with each other at the table. They all had curly hair like DS, some brown like him and some blonde like me. I desperately sought DS because I needed to speak to him. I couldn’t find him and guessed he must have been inside a bedroom because he was sick. There was no way for me to get past the family because then I would have become visible. I had an aching sense of loneliness and separation looking at the family scene. There was an ornamental metal hippo sculpture next to me. I patted and stroked it lovingly while lost in thought and unsure of where to go next.
And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation (and reunion, I would add)… The Prophet by Kahil Gibran.