One eternal round.
There are two poems in “I Gave Her a Name” that I often think of. The first is called “Lost” and describes some of the precious things Heavenly Mother has lost in her life. She knows the pain of losing a thing you need to survive and having to find a way to adapt to life without it, just like us (see p. 49 in “I Gave Her a Name). The poem reads:
Lost: The Mother has lost things precious to Her, too— hair ties, pens, chapstick, keys, favorite hoodies, bicycles, homes, cities, Her way, memories, clarity, lovers, love.
I didn’t realize it at first, but after reading the book a second time, noticed there was a sister poem to “Lost” called “Found” (see p. 76 in “I Gave Her a Name”). When I realized it, I cried at the intention and softness behind this pairing. It reads:
Found: The Mother found what was lost— hair ties, pens, chapstick, keys, favorite hoodies, bicycles, homes, cities, Her way, memories, clarity, lovers, love.
I have written on the blog in the past about my complex PTSD. By definition, complex trauma is chronic and ongoing and often happens in the context of important interpersonal or attachment relationships. As I have been in long-term treatment and recognized the severity of my trauma situation, I have been forced to make excruciating decisions about contact with my family of origin and my faith. This has brought forward a new wave of trauma and losses.
To me, one of the most comforting things about Heavenly Mother is that she embodies multi-dimensional and often opposing traits and experiences. This means that she experiences both profound loss and pain and trauma, but also that she herself experiences feelings and states of being that promote safety and comfort. This includes things like ease, contentment, feeling supported and loved, feeling safe (physically and emotionally), feeling assertive, feeling respected and protected, and setting boundaries. By extension, she also understands and has compassion for these multi-dimensional traits and experiences in us and is able to facilitate the things that help promote our safety and comfort.
For so much of my life for the last 4 years acutely (and much longer before that diffusely), I have been losing and losing and losing important and vital things to me – contact with my family and my primary attachment figure, the community and safety of a faith, a safe connection with God, having a clear purpose and direction. Often these wounds are so painful and delicate, it feels like if the air touches them, the skin of my body will rip and tear like tissue paper.
My therapist is one of the kindest, most supportive souls I know. When we discuss my trauma experiences, sometimes we discuss and remember that things are constantly evolving and changing. Even if I am experiencing profound trauma and pain and loss and feel mired down in that, she reminds me there is always the potential for growth and change.
In the most gentle and non-Pollyanna-ish way possible (literally – because I get very grouchy and sad and start crying when I’m in pain and we’re talking about trauma), our mantra is, “just because things are a certain way right now, that doesn’t mean they always will be.” Honestly, a lot of the time, as a trauma survivor, hope often feels like it goes against nature, and feels deeply untrue (because it has been). This mantra helps me hope that losing and finding precious things is a cycle that includes both of these components, not just trauma and loss. Loss and trauma are just one (often excruciating, awful, painful) part of the cycle – more comes after.
As human beings, when we’re in pain and we’ve lost something, it helps to even have a tiny seed of gentle hope or curiosity that things things will get better at some point, in some place. There is a part of me that wants to feel hopeful or curious that the next part of this cycle in my life will be finding things again. It could also mean feeling security in things that have already started to be found/built/nurtured or will be found/built/nurtured in the future.
These things include safety, boundaries, comfort, emotional intimacy, a place to be and a place to feel safe, friendship, fulfillment in my work, clear purpose and direction in a chosen faith community.
This does not mean I will find the exact people and things I have lost or remove the pain of these losses (see “When Things Break,” p. 170 in “I Gave Her a Name”). These wounds and this pain will always be carried with me. However, the hope is that there will be new growth, new additions, healing, new relationships, new people, new places, new direction and purpose, new contexts for safety, security, and ease.
If you’ve lost something precious to you, I hope that you feel a gentle kind of hope that somewhere, sometime, something beautiful and new and safe will grow – a cycle that goes on in one eternal round.