Post-chair carrying day 42
Got 10 hours of sleep last night. Jet lag officially over. Well, for the most part. It's still a bit surreal being back; but I cleaned, did laundry, cooked a bit, spent quality time with my sweetheart and our dog and cat. Nested on a rainy day. Didn't go anywhere. So I am feeling planted again in my life here -- as much as I can with my heart (child) still going to school and working out some tough life-choices on the East Coast.
I have noticed so much strengthening via the FCP, some of which I elaborated a bit on last night. Today however, I noticed the one area where I have much to learn in terms of understanding and "handling" my Fear. Parenthood.
The FCP has been enourmously helpful in teaching me to disassociate, to separate my feelings, my reactions, my life from others. Yet, when my child is troubled or somehow experiences pain at life's hand, my Fear levels rise abruptly and I must say, a bit frighteningly out of my range of comprehension.
Is it just that "deciding to have a child is like deciding to live with your heart outside your body"? Or is it something more to do with, what, survival? It feels like that.
Perhaps this parental Fear thing is just based on my own life and that of my child's; or perhaps it is also something deeper. I've written about the "water table" of Fear, the deep undercurrent of Fear that reaches primal depths within our psyche. I really do believe that such levels of Fear exist in humans, in humanity. For tens of thousands of years we were primarily concerned with survival on very base levels. It's only really very recently that significant percentages of the human population goes through the day without considering survival let alone concentrating on it. Like domesticated animals through thousands of years change physically and behaviourally based on what is demanded from them by humans, perhaps we humans have been molded by what life demanded of us. Therefore, for the vast majority of human existence, we have been shaped by the instinct to survive and to help our children survive. That meant avoiding that which we Feared would kill us.
So today, I am not so concerned with survival per-se because we live in 21st century America. My daughter is warm, has food, has shelter, has friends, goes to school. But on some deep level, I recognize that her being across the country means she's not in my cave anymore. And the fact that she's struggling with some issues, stirs deep Fear for her well-being, even though I know intellectually that she will be fine and infact IS fine in this process. There feels to be something primal about my apprehension in response to her struggles.
What do I do with this now?
While I visited her the past two weeks, I likened her journey to climbing a mountain; and I was beside her. Now I am 3000 miles away! Sure we can talk and text but while those are perfect forms of communication for life in pleasant times, they are limited communication when life becomes complicated and heavy. How did people used to do this when their children left home in England, sailed around the world to, wherever, or left on the Oregon Trail, never to return to the place of their birth? Did those parents feel the deep undercurrents of Fear for their children's lives? Well, they must have, for survival was much more an issue then than it is now.
Yet, I guess we do still have to survive and still do struggle for survival today. Survival means something different though than it did in pioneer or settlement or stone-age days. Today, our children have to survive emotionally and psychologically and financially in a world that can be quite hostile to the unprepared and prepared alike. Lions aren't trying to eat them, entire populations aren't trying to take their homes (not in America anyway), antibiotics and probiotics (or thousands of choices of chemical answers ) stave off the bacteria that would kill them. But the big danger now for our children is perhaps more internal, stress and perhaps even Fear itself. Fear of not measuring up, Fear of falling behind, Fear of failing, Fear of not fitting in, Fear of loneliness, Fear of the future, Fear of joblessness, and on and on and on...
What perhaps stirs my primal Fear most is when I notice my child is experiencing Fear -- for whatever reason. In this way, perhaps I am the same as that pioneer's mother, or that explorer's mother, or that cave-dweller mother. What causes me the greatest Fear, and perhaps any mother the greatest Fear is feeling, sensing or knowing that our child is in a state of Fear. That is why we can let them go when they feel the call to explore new lands, new lives. They step forward fearlessly, excitedly even. But when some threat to their plans, or threat to their lives and what they are building comes to light, whatever the source or type of threat, how can a parent (a mother anyway) not feel some sense of that deep, thousands-year-old conditioning?
So how do I detatch again?
Well, if the FCP taught me anything, it taught me to carry my Fear out infront of me where I can see it. Get to know it. Let it be seen. Unappologetically befriend it. And by all means keep moving. Don't sit on it and stop living. Yes my child is 3000 miles away. Yes she is working through some tough stuff. But I can still be with her in her climb. And she is still with me in mine. Fear can parylize me or Fear can wake me up. And what is the antidote to Fear but Love.
Perhaps the disassociation I seek really IS from not just other's feelings but also from my own. Emotions are important but they are not ALL. They aresimply tools to help us get through life. I can use Fear where appropriate and I can use Love whenever possible... :)