“But why can’t I do it differently?” Jane throws up her hands in frustration and despair.
“I want to scream at myself, ‘Here you go again! After all these years, you are still doing it! When are you going to bloody well start living your life? Really living it!?’ ” Her voice is full of self-loathing and contempt.
Jane despises herself. Yet when she looks at me, behind the steely anger, her eyes are brimming with tears.
Jane is ready. She wants this to stop. She wants relief. She has taken the all-important first steps. She has reached out to another human being and so the journey of therapy begins.
It does not have to be therapy. There are an infinite number of ways but Jane has chosen therapy and the relationship, the experience of relationship, will bring her the ability to heal. Crucially, it will help her to remember, to make sense of what’s going on, let it go and forgive herself. Because that is the crucial bit—we must understand and become aware, we must see what we are doing and why we’re doing it with compassion and kindness, and then we must forgive ourselves.
I want to tell you why I believe our defences are divine and why I stand in awe every single time I witness our amazing power and creativity in managing painful experiences.
Jane is fictitious, but she illustrates my point.
Let me tell you some of what happened to her when she was newly here.
Jane’s mother was a tortured woman, who struggled with both, major depression and interludes of psychosis, where she lost touch with reality. Her own childhood had been difficult for her, with a controlling and intrusive mother and a cold and volatile father. She therefore had little or no knowledge of being held, soothed or unconditionally loved. Moreover, she carried such emptiness that she often could not bear, to the point where she would leave reality for a while and become psychotic. Jane’s father had been through World War 1, and had come back a changed and haunted man. He had shut down emotionally in order to not remember.
When Jane was 15 months old, her mother had a major psychotic breakdown, after deteriorating steadily for many months. Having a baby was overwhelming for her; she could not meet her own needs let alone those of a baby. And Jane’s father, for whom this was so reminiscent of the madness which had been war, shut down even more and withdrew, leaving what small extended family there was on Jane’s mother’s side, to pick up the pieces.
Without warning and, clearly, without any digestible explanation being able to be given, Jane’s mother suddenly and completely disappears from her life, after having been admitted to hospital. She is there for nearly a year. Jane’s father also collapses and disappears. Jane has been told by other family members that she was inconsolable for several weeks, sobbing every night, alone in her cot and often for periods through the day, calling for her mummy.
An elderly aunt was brought in to look after her, who believed in leaving children to cry and teaching them not to be demanding or make a fuss. And so, when Jane cried, she was not cuddled or consoled but instead left to soothe herself.
Then, one day, Jane simply stopped—she stopped crying and calling for her mummy. She became silent and stopped reacting. She stopped feeling. She stopped seeing because she had stopped looking. Her eyes glazed over and became blank—and the pain went away.
I want to tell you what Jane did which made the pain go away: Jane changed her perception of reality.
A little psyche, less than two years on this earth, changed her perception of reality. She decided to perceive reality in the following way:
• She does not need her mummy; she is self-sufficient.
• Loving and needing is dangerous because it makes people go away.
• She must have done something really bad to make her mummy go away and her daddy to stop loving her.
• It is not her mummy or daddy who is to blame here, but her.
• Crying and reaching out, calling out, asking for help brings no response or help so you have to manage on your own in this hostile world
• From now on, she will not allow anyone or anything to matter, she will keep herself from harm and any further pain.
Think about that for just a moment. Don’t you find that simply amazing? What a creator and barely two years old!
And now, here is Jane, the grown up woman she was destined to become:
• She comes to see me because she is frustrated, at the end of her tether.
• Every single time something that could be a really exciting opportunity comes along, she sabotages it. She either takes no action at all so it passes her by or she makes some excuse and runs hard and fast in the opposite direction.
• Commitment terrifies her. If friends change jobs or move to a different part of the country, she quietly cuts them off. She does the same with any romantic relationship—the first time they let her down, they are out. There are no grey areas, it is all very black and white. She knows she is doing it, she wishes she did not do it, but she cannot do it any other way.
• Jane’s really good fun, charming and people love the way she makes them laugh. However, Jane knows that she’s just putting on a very convincing act, putting on a show. She doesn’t allow anyone to get too close. Ever.
• Jane is ready to let go of her story and allow herself to be who she came here to be.
• Jane’s defences saved her sanity and her life, but now she wants them gone. She hates herself for them, beats herself up for them. She can’t forgive herself for them!
She is missing just how amazing she is!.
This little newly born baby, fresh from Source, managed her reality in such a way that she could bring herself safely to the point at which she was ready to consciously and knowingly appreciate her own expansion. To remember the unconditional love she actually is.
We all do what Jane’s done—we all come with a story we’ve written, together with the characters who’ll weave the storyline with us, and we know that it can hurt, it can get messy. But always we also know we come from love and that love is what we return to. Love accompanies us every step.
And so love provides us with defences and when we are ready, we let them go. In love and with enormous appreciation for their wonderful gift of protection, we step into our full power.
Because, just like Jane, we’re finally ready to let go of our story!
I believe that our defences are truly a gift of the divine and when we look at them in that way, we can celebrate our amazing creative power, the far reach of our incredible imagination, our resilience and determination and courage out here on the leading edge.
And that is when we can forgive ourselves for temporarily forgetting that this is what we were doing all the time!
Author: Janny Juddly
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Wikimedia Commons