In the Beginning

In order to understand the nature and flowing references throughout my blog, I recommend reading my initial post The End of the Beginning first.


The Essence of Integration

Frau Wolleh with Children by Gerhard Richter

I recently visited the Art Institute of Chicago. The collection is largely Impressionist, most famous for their sole ownership of Seurat's Sunday Afternoon de la Grande Jatte. I was excited to revisit this Seurat and indeed spent a good amount of time admiring it. However, I was most captivated by this piece by Richter. I stopped, I stared, I wept. It is the perfect depiction of my struggle with fragmentation this past year.

Each time I was subject to an abuse event, I left my body so that I wouldn't feel and could pretend it wasn't happening. Now that I am revisiting and processing these memories one by one, I have a mental image of my dissociation. It feels like each time I dissociated, a part of me left and did not come back. They are each floating up above my head in ether-space like white, wispy smoke. Those parts of me are frozen in time (age, appearance, maturity level) and chose not to come back into my body. It's not safe in here. Each time this happened I became a little less myself, a little more fractured, a lot less whole.

Those lost pieces of me are my true essence. This is why I feel fragmented, damaged, and unwhole. As more and more of my essence gathered and lingered outside, I became less Me. A shell of my former self. At the point of mass fracture - The Terrible Awful (about which I have yet to write) - my frozen inner self curled up into a ball, a small and tight 13 year old version of me. Adult Me has grown up around her: hiding, pretending, shielding, overachieving. But she remains unloved, abandoned, closed off, and alone.

My essence continued to escape, one white wisp at a time. All the times I subjected myself to unhealthy situations. All the times I failed to erect healthy boundaries. All the times I entered and stayed in unhealthy relationships (I will discuss this more in a later post called Married to Crazy.) And each time I was revictimized, as it turns out that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are 2-5 times (sources vary) more likely to be subjected to sexual assaults later in life.

The boundary-less situation with my mother only served to perpetuate the escape of my essence. Last fall when I realized the true nature of that relationship and finally acknowledged that I had lost her many years ago, the last of my essence escaped. Adult Me wound up small and tight like a perfect mirror shell of small and tight Little Me inside.

This past year I've been trying to unwind. Stand up. Be erect. Move around. Let go. Loosen up. Be real. Face the truth. Reconnect Little Me and Adult Me. It's painful. Muscles have atrophied. We are stiff. Robotic. Unpracticed. Vulnerable. Rigid. But we are standing! Except now we realize we are empty. Upright, but utterly hollow. The essence of Real Me still floats above, outside. Not in. Not integrated. Not full. Not whole. Not real. Not really living.

I wish so badly to reconnect with those parts of me which were forced out because it was not safe. I can't live without my essence any longer. I won't survive. Being and feeling whole are integral to being me - the whole me, the Real Me. And so much of my efforts this past year have been to show my essence that indeed it is safe to come back in. I will care for each of these lost parts, protect them, name them (discussed in a later post called A Bouquet of Me), accept them, love them, allow them to be playful. Entice them to come home.

The Richter painting is me, Adult Me standing with pieces of lost Little Me just outside. Within my grasp but not inside. It pained me greatly to see an artful representation of what I felt. It still hurts when I look at this painting. Sometimes, maybe even often times, pain is necessary to produce change. I am on a journey towards integration and every little step that gets me there is critically important.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), though Wolleh is a proper German name it is strikingly similar to the verb wollen which means "to want." I desperately want to integrate all of the lost pieces of myself. I venture to say it is vital to my overall healing.

If ever there were a song to describe the message I am sending to my lost Essence, it is best articulated in Drifting by Sarah McLachlan....

Please come home.

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