“Grow up!” I can’t remember how and when someone said this to me. I’ll blame my mother and my older brother because she isn’t mortally alive to defend herself. He and I have reconciled our relationship after years of strife and mistrust.
I find it to hard to yield to authority figures. I especially fight back or flee when they call me out for my undisciplined or childish behavior. in Jungian terms, I’m living out my “Rebel” and “Child” archetypes. I push back when I myself or someone else bumps into my behavioral buttons.
Actually my wounds are deeper than that assumption. Aspects of my psyche cling to difficult childhood experiences and adolescent coping mechanisms. My maturation, as Caroline Myss suggests depends upon paying particular attention to and resolving my childhood memories while not rejecting appropriate authority figures. (Myss, Appendix: A Gallery of Archetypes) . I’m not the only person working through this maturation process.
Yourself Prompt Cards. The card read “What happened to you in your childhood?”
Whew! Well, alot quite frankly. I’m spending precious, meaningful therapeutic time these days. I’m answering that question, honestly, compassionately. I’m reacquainting myself with the two-year old boy who didn’t know that his father was dead. I’m standing in the hallway of my home as a 4 year-old boy pondering why my mother is in bed crying. She is not taking care of me. I’m sad and confused. As an 11-year old boy I’m riding away from home at night on my green three-speed bicycle. I’m fleeing home. I don’t like what is happening there. I’m frightened about what I’m learning about my human sexuality.
Here I am again. I’m 17 and sitting on a sandy overlook in La Jolla, CA looking at the Pacific Ocean. There are guys hang-gliding over Blacks Beach. As I sit there, I’m learning that my oldest brother is an alcoholic. His addiction explains but doesn’t solve why he verbally and physically assaults his spouse, children, and me. I’m wrestling with how much I’d like to be wandering around comfortably on the nude beach below this cliff. Instead I’m figuring out how the hell I’m going to get on with my life safely and joyfully.
I’m still doing that work. Except now, I’m equipped with the beauty of viewing life with the wholehearted wisdom I’m gaining from the books I read and beloved friends I adore and who support me. Fortunately, I’m writing this with an eastern Sun shining on my face in the comfort of a well-heated home. My cat Bono purrs comfortably next to my laptop. My eyes and soul are turning westward as I age. I’m entering into the latter days of my life. I am no longer the child that I was in the 60s and 70s. I became 60 years old in September. It is indeed time for me to live earnestly. I am not alone. I walk this path with men and women alike who should mature with me if our planet is going to flourish.
The back of my enlightenment card informs me that just about everything taking place today in life is a consequence of patterns that we formed or were imposed upon us in our childhood. We’ve usually forgotten those patterns and/or sought to squish them down. If we wish to mature, we must return to those experiences as an adult and reinterpret them – compassionately and with a sense of letting them go. At least we can adopt them and our inner children with lots of love rather than more abuse. Our egos hate this work so it is essential to have mentors, guides, and honest brokers around us.
ZenRelaxMusic soothes my anxious demons. I’m opening up to the possibilities of allowing myself to wake up and become a full-fledged adult. As Bill Plotkin describes, such a wake-up call requires a new form of becoming grounded in one’s soul. To mature in such a way is to to die, psychologically and spiritually. We are then reborn firmly rooted in the mystery with which we came into this life. Our eternal souls guide this work through recognizing, forgiving, and restoring what was wounded and using it as balm to become more whole. This pilgrimage opens open God’s eternity in this world to one’s self, one’s communities, and into as well as beyond our shared humanity.
In between Matthew and Mark’s apocalypses is today. In Christian terms, dying to self and the woes of this world offers renewed and resurrected life, This is true for now as well as for some unknowable time in the future when Jesus the Christ returns in great glory. The Triune God travels with us if Christians believe what we say each Sunday. I’m coming to understand that deepening my faith in God’s love is not just about being good. It is about coming to terms with the entirety of the mortal life that The Creator has endowed me with for the relatively few years that I am human, for now.
Psychologist Rick Hanson suggests that people, especially those of us who struggle with difficult childhood memories and depression, should work especially at “taking in the good.” Some research indicates that our human brains permit bad experiences to stick like Velcro to our psyches whereas good memorials slip away like they are on Teflon. Positive emotions doesn’t transfer as easily as negative emotions to long-term memory. It is crucial then I and, and you too, dedicate ourselves taking in all that is good and being present to it. Be alert. Keep watch for more than a few seconds! (Rich Hanson, Take in The Good)
“Grow Up!” Ok, ok, I’ll try. I’ll admit it. I’m a human being. I’ve got psychological baggage. My childhood wasn’t great. It wasn’t the worst experience on the planet either. Presently, I have a good therapist, a worthwhile vocation, a bountiful safety new. I own two cats who drive me crazy for just a small percentage of the day.
My mortal life, along with yours, has been 4.5 billion years in the making. I’ll treasure the moments that my soul, mind, and body are blessed to experience. By God’s Grace, with a fair amount of patience, and terrific friends and therapists alike – I’ll learn to let trauma go so that it teaches me what I’m here to learn, today. Carefully, at least occasionally, I’ll mature into a better spiritual being living a human existence. Are you going with me?