Things I Gained In The Fire


Things I Gained In The Fire

As we head towards the end of the year, it feels like a ruthless internal inventory is needed. It would have to be a brave one for this year has been hard. “Annus horribilis” plain and simple, no red bows…no fairy dust, just excruciatingly grueling. I’m no stranger to grueling, I put my head down and walk through the boneyards, often for far too long. I don’t know how to stop, endurance is my thing. It appears that I can metabolize vast quantities of other peoples negative energy without checking in with my Self.
But this year something shifted,I smelt it in the air like the ionization of an approaching storm. Small drops at first as I started to ask myself…”why? Why do I do this?” Is it to martyr myself? Do I equate silent suffering with being a “good- enough” person? (a solid downpour by this stage) The Wounded Healer? Have I always sought intimacy and proximity by holding the emotional pain body of the other? I know where this came from, the broken mother, the absent father, the love hungry child! (torrential by this point) Is it possible that I have honed this dynamic to such a point that I now even make a living from it? Hmmm…
So in the eye of the storm, I began to ask myself…what would I be if I stepped away from the responsibility of holding the injury of the other? If as an adult, I am finally able to hold my own? And could now turn and face myself with a mixture of trepidation and courage and look with fierce compassion into my own eyes and heart and ask – “What do you really need Jamie?”, “how are you going to live your best life with the brief time you have left?” The questions needed to be asked for I was growing soul-sick with fatigue.

I know that life is difficult for everyone at times and that adversity is an irreducible fact of life. But sometimes this year when in the thick of it, it has been difficult to hang onto the fragile belief that “everything has a purpose”, or “there is a lesson in here somewhere…”. Many nights were spent looking into the flames as my life burnt away feeling as if there was no bloody purpose or lesson…or meaning. That as humans we are all so heavily invested in making meaning in order to repress our overwhelming terror when faced with our brief, fragile existence. I read so much, seeking solace, seeking some way to numb the ache, there were so many wise words which tasted like ash in my mouth, but a brief passage by St. John of the Cross spoke to me. In it he says that if a man wishes to be sure of the road he is on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark, that to reach that which you do not know, you have to go by the way where you know nothing, there are no route markers for large stretches of this terrain and you will get lost. Deal with it. Welcome it.

So slowly, agonizingly slowly, the seasons shift, fragments of meaning start to constellate like gossamer threads weaving purpose together. I catch glimpses of a possible mature Self, a man who can hold and honor his responsibility as a father, a healer who has worked courageously with his own wounds, a man capable not only of great love for others but for himself as well. And as I begin to recover from my psychic heart-wounds
a new urgency stirs within me, or rather, it feels as though something is trying to emerge–a force, a power, a drive– it directs me to create and connect, to produce things of great beauty. I am doing nothing less than rekindling an enormous, blazing appreciation for being alive which I intend to fuel myself with for the rest of this fragile, exquisite opportunity.

About the author

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Jamie Elkon http://shrinkrap.co.za/

The author can be found rummaging through life looking for nourishment in the early hours of the morning. He is slowly going sane by using his actual life and relationships to wake up.He lives in Cape Town with his teenaged daughter, two bassett hounds named Thelma and Louise and Digit... the cat. He hugs trees, has experienced numerous dark nights of the soul, collects incorrect Chinese packaging and tracks curious things to their lair.

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