March 23, 2021 at 9:41 am #376437
I’ll just say that whenever we don’t want to look into something, it’s a sign that a defense mechanism is at work.
True enough. There is a time for all things.
I found in my own crossing of rivers, a tendency to linger by the shores, clinging to the raft, trying to take it with me and not trusting my ability to build another. Perhaps that is what I was responding to in this thread.
When is it time to leave the shore and continue? Each of us answers that in our own time.
When we go their will be more rivers to cross. We might even come upon the same river again as it meanders its way to the sea. Maybe this time we build a better raft that wont get us as wet, maybe not.
In the end it Will be a story we tell ourselves and others. Sometime a realization to a ability to tell a better one can be enough to free us. We really do work for that which no work is required.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. – TS Eliot
March 23, 2021 at 10:51 am #376440
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by Peter.
I found in my own crossing of rivers, a tendency to linger by the shores, clinging to the raft, trying to take it with me and not trusting my ability to build another. Perhaps that is what I was responding to in this thread.
If you’re willing, you can give an example of how in your own life you were “clinging to the raft”, and what in this thread you find similar to your own experience.March 23, 2021 at 11:12 am #376442FelixParticipant
Wow. Deep stuff here !
My life has been somewhat complicated so I can’t answer with finite definition on whether I’ve forgiven myself or my parents or anyone else for that matter fully. It’s a bit simpler than that. Unless someone invents time travel, I can’t go back in time to change something. Even if I could I am not sure I would. My parents and sister are who they are. It took me a long time to accept them as they. It doesn’t mean I agree with them or even like them, but I do love them. They are my family and being Jewish, family is everything. They believe in God, money, superficial materialistic crap, and other things that I find repulsive or even ignorant, but they are good people IMO. They have a good soul and they are decent human beings in general. I’ve seen worse. And after saying all that, they are still my family. If something happens and I need help, they will be there for me. I don’t like asking them for anything, but if there is an emergency they will help. And that’s what family does. I don’t mean family as in blood, but family as in those who are close to me and love me and whom I love. It’s a very tough time in my life right now. I truly don’t know if it will get better. I certainly hope so as I understand that that the only thing that’s permanent is impermanence. And they have been as supportive as they can be. They are of a different generation and different mindset. I’ve had to build my own rafts all my life and while I often failed at that or forgot how I did something in the past, it’s always been a solo effort. I don’t blame anyone since that’s a useless exercise. I am not even asking for anything, I just wish it were a little easier. There is this episode of the West Wing where Josh and Toby are stuck in Indiana. They are staying at some small hotel and are sitting the bar. There is a middle aged guy there drinking a beer and they strike up a conversation with him. He tells them that he is here with his daughter who wants to go to Notre Dame, but he doesn’t know how to afford it. He talks about his job and that his wife works part time as well, and that he understands that a man needs to work and should be able to provide for his family. He likes the hard work, but he always says something very important. He says that he doesn’t want it to be easy, but he wishes it were just a little less hard than it is. Just a little. That’s all I want. Just a break here and there. I am willing to do the work, but I’ve been kicked around so much over the last few years that I’ve lost the joy of life. Doesn’t mean I am giving up, but I just wish it were a little easier. Just a tiny bit. I am new to Buddhism so I am learning to let go. I am letting go of everything and I am learning to not be hard on myself, but I also live in a greedy western society where if you don’t slave then you are suffering. I am working on creating a balance between work and life. No amount of money will make me want to slave at some greedy corporation. I have a plan. I know what I want. I am just tired. Very very tired. Hence the point of this post. Not to analyze my parents or my relationship with them. It’s big boy time. I am 43, I can stand on my own two feet and do what needs to be done. I just wish it were a tiny bit easier. I am very tired.March 23, 2021 at 12:06 pm #376447
I appreciate you sharing some more, and telling us more about your family. I understand your love and loyalty to your family. I love my parents too, and they help me whenever I need it. However it doesn’t mean that their style of parenting, specially that of my mother’s, didn’t affect me and my life even as an adult. Because we all carry the wounds from our childhood with us into our adulthood, and we employ various defense mechanisms to protect us from pain. Whether we like it or not, we’re directly impacted, even programmed, by our childhood experiences. So when you say “It’s big boy time“, it’s not completely true, because the little boy is still inside of you. You may try to make it work without tending to him, but it will be very very hard, and there will be always something missing.
You seem like an independent, capable man, who’s been through a lot, and came on the other side. You also know what your values are, and you don’t want to sell your soul for profit. Excellent! But still, you’re suffering because it’s so damn hard. You feel lonely, and on top of that, the universe is throwing you curve balls. You’re trying to let go, to not expect anything, to toughen up even more… but as you say, it’s exhausting. You’re tired, you can hardly take it any more.
What if the way is not in toughening up even more and not hoping for anything, but instead, to soften? To connect to the vulnerable, fragile side of you, that needs help, needs company, needs respite from the constant struggle? That dares to hope in providence, in good things to come, in love… To change the approach and allow yourself to be vulnerable, and yet not weak (because the two are not the same)?March 23, 2021 at 12:46 pm #376452FelixParticipant
1. I agree 100 percent about parenting styles. That’s the reason and cause for my forgiveness. My mom was not there for me when I was a kid because she divorced my dad and instead chose to find her own happiness. She marries a man who didn’t give a shit about me. Forward almost 40 years, everyone is trying their best. We haven’t talked about it simply because my parents don’t know how to open up. They keep me at an arm’s length and that’s fine. Yes, their absence during my early years caused a lot of damage, my real dad’s indifference hurt, but ny grandparents substituted and gave me the best possible life during those years. I was in fact a happy kid. Then we came to US when i was 13 and I started living with my parents. It didn’t work out and by 16 I was on my own. Over the years, through ups and down, we stuck together and after some terrible things happened to all of us together and independently, everyone has tried to stick together and be as open as possible. Our differences in our philosophy of life and who we are in general have been accepted by all parties involved. Yes, title kid in me is scared, but just like Jordan Peterson asks in his book, we have to be our own parents sometimes and treat ourselves as if we’re our own parents. I am doing what I can. I’ve softened up and I am learning about Buddhism and letting go. It’s been truly a freeing experience. I feel a 100 times, a million times, better inside. I’ve let go of most things and I don’t live in the past or the future. The problem is the my current situation is pretty tough. Last year I had cancer, lost my job that I loved, and had to file for bankruptcy. I’ve lost many friends because I wanted only real and decent people in my life. I am just tired and lonely (romantically speaking). I don’t get lonely because I am alone. I love spending time alone. I am just lonely because I haven’t touched another human being, romantically, in over 9 months and haven’t been involved with anyone in over a year. My friends are super busy with their own lives and while we see each other, I feel isolated. That used to be what reenergized me before. Having a partner gave me a purpose and helped me before. Right now it’s all me and just me. Thanks to not curve balls anymore. It’s knuckle balls and nasty off speed pitches that look good, but then sink shocking me back to reality. How long can I last? How long can this last? It’s been 4 years since mt wife left and everything has fallen apart. I was doing well and then fell even deeper when Covid hit. I am not tired physically. I can recharge mt body through exercise. I feel exhausted inside my soul, if there is such a thing. The little boy just wants to be loved.March 23, 2021 at 3:18 pm #376460
I relate to a lot of the things your saying. My parents recently passed away and I had to work/re-work my way through the memories. Family can be difficult to navigate and it accrued to me after reading Frederic Beckman’s novel – Anxious People the role that disappointment play. The inevitable experience of being disappointed but more so the fear of disappointing, also inevitable. Like you I realized that everyone was trying their best to be “reasonable good person to those we cared about’ and that we were all ‘idiots’ because as Beckman noted it can be so idiotically difficult to be human.
These realizations allowed me to say to myself to move on. It was enough that my parents tried, that I tried. I found that if I clung to the memories it was because I was wishing things could have been different, that maybe I and my parents had done better. If only…. As you noted their is no time machine and such ‘wishing’ to change things is about us, not our parents.
I was talking to a therapist about this as she asked me how I might free my parents and how I might free myself. The realization that I was attempting to carry my parents. That I felt it was my responsibility to carry them and in that way honor them might be keeping them from being ‘free’… My parents grew up in the 40’s and 50’s were it was parents calling to do the “carrying”. I knew they would be horrified to have me “carry” them. Letting go of that was something I could do for them. That was the realization. I might not have been able to let go for myself but I could for them. That was what they needed from me, even while they were alive, and that was how I could, would, honor them including the disappointments and hurt we gave each other.
For that wounded inner child that still exists. I still see him standing alone on the school ground vowing never to let others get to close to hurt him, hurt me. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was trying to be a reasonably good person and didn’t understand that path… he didn’t understand why he failed so often or why others failed him so often. Its hard to separate, this failing others and others failing us… ‘Forgive us our failings as we forgive those who fail us’ is I think a healthy boundary… ‘
So what changed after this letting go? Everything… nothing… The ‘mountain is back to being a mountain’. There is temptation to go back and climb it again.. the moment of letting go can be intoxicating, and what if I forget… ‘Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from fear…’ Time to leave the raft behind, the river was crossed the realization real/true, and see what happens next. As for the exhausted soul, a little lighter a work in progress.
Here is a riddle
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope, For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing – TS Eliot
The exhausted soul needs space to be still and wait. (waiting the forgotten practice) This is not a passive waiting but active, eyes open, related I think to the Zen idea of ‘non-doing’. You are, I am, are ‘it’, as we are, but not that either… Waiting, darkness is light, stillness dancing… words fade… silence…. Time to “make the bed and take out the trash”, life has needs. 🙂March 23, 2021 at 4:09 pm #376461
I am sorry about your childhood, you’ve been through a lot. It’s not easy to be ignored by your own father, and then to experience something similar by your step-father too. It seems you needed to “toughen up” pretty early, since you were on your own already at 16. Life has been throwing you curve balls already since that time… And although you say about your family that “Over the years, through ups and down, we stuck together“, I imagine that emotionally, you felt alone. Perhaps your parents helped you when things got really tough, but other than that, you were alone and scared, as you said.
Yes, title kid in me is scared, but just like Jordan Peterson asks in his book, we have to be our own parents sometimes and treat ourselves as if we’re our own parents.
The little boy just wants to be loved.
It’s good you realize it. And that you’re in touch with him. When you talk about being lonely to the point that it hurts (“I crave physical and emotional connection to the point where it makes me psychologically and physically ill, and “I crave intimacy and closeness like drug addicts and alcoholics crave their vices.”), the pain is so big exactly because of your wounded inner child. Those are his words, his pain and his craving. He’s telling you that the pain of loneliness is enormous, because it felt enormous to him as a child.
Now you’d need to be a loving parent to that boy, be there for him and soothe him. Make him feel that he belongs. Alleviate his pain. Once you do that, I am almost sure that you’ll start seeing your current loneliness differently too. It won’t feel like an impossible burden and almost a death sentence, but something that can be changed. It will become much more manageable and much less threatening.March 24, 2021 at 3:35 am #376470
I am sorry that both your parents passed away. What I am reading from your words is that you felt guilty for disappointing them (“The inevitable experience of being disappointed but more so the fear of disappointing”, and “honor them including the disappointments and hurt we gave each other”).
It appears you couldn’t let go of the feeling of guilt for them “carrying you”, but then with the help of therapy, you managed to let go. Am I understanding this right? Could you talk a bit more about your guilt for not “carrying them” – is it that you didn’t help them enough, you weren’t there for them when they needed you?
This feeling of guilt sounds like the central theme for you. You say the disappointments were mutual, and that you were all “idiots”, even though you – both you and your parents – tried your best to be “reasonable good person to those we cared about”.
So they tried their best, and you tried too, but it didn’t work. Although you understand it and have forgiven yourself and them somewhat, the injury has nevertheless happened and needs to be processed. That’s the wound on the foot we were talking about…
For that wounded inner child that still exists. I still see him standing alone on the school ground vowing never to let others get to close to hurt him, hurt me.
This is the protector part in you vowing to never allow your wounded inner child to be hurt again. You closing your heart is a consequence of that original wound – of not having received the love and care you needed. And perhaps that’s why you later closed your heart for your parents too. Now this wound needs to be healed…
March 24, 2021 at 7:04 am #376478
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by TeaK.
May last post used references from previous posts in this thread so you may have taken them out of contexts. When I say we were idiots it was in context of Fredrick’s book – Anxious people. A story about ‘idiots’ but term used only if you understand how idiotically difficult it is to be a human being, especially if there are those your trying to be a reasonable human being for. In that context we are all I think ‘idiots’
My 12 year old self would not have been able to understand that or articulate that tension of being disappointed and hurt by those that cared for him and suspecting he was also disappointing and hurting them. That this is a realty of all relationships would not have been understood. My parents were wonderful providers for my physicals needs however we struggled with communicating and expressing our emotional needs. Not uncommon for many families. So yes there was guilt and the dread of not being enough.
I’m not sure why you assume the experiences hasn’t been processed? When the realization came it turned out no forgiveness for my parents or myself was required. I could let go and allow my parents to be individuals and yes fellow ‘idiots’ doing their best like me. I could free them and so myself by honoring the roles we played. My parents would not want me to ‘carry’ them, that was their job, one they did if not always the ways I needed or wanted, ‘good enough’. (In hindsight I as I observe the troubles in this world and how hard is is to be a reasonably good person to those we care about… good enough is pretty good!).
You are correct though, their is more work to do, more letting go and forgiveness. Time for the wounded 12 year-old to be forgiven for making that vow. He didn’t know what he was doing.March 24, 2021 at 8:10 am #376480
My 12 year old self would not have been able to understand that or articulate that tension of being disappointed and hurt by those that cared for him and suspecting he was also disappointing and hurting them.
So yes there was guilt and the dread of not being enough.
The child always blames themselves if they don’t receive love and appreciation from their parents. The child feels unlovable, and not being good enough. That’s the first wound and the first, unconscious conclusion that the child makes about themselves: “I am not good enough, something’s wrong with me.” Then later, as we’re getting a little older, we start blaming our parents for not giving us what we need. That’s why since you teens, it appears you were blaming both yourself and them: “Its hard to separate, this failing others and others failing us.”
That this is a realty of all relationships would not have been understood. My parents were wonderful providers for my physicals needs however we struggled with communicating and expressing our emotional needs. Not uncommon for many families.
Yes indeed. Quite a few of us on this forum have a similar experience of having been given everything materially, but the emotional part was lacking. Your parents weren’t worse than others, they were doing the best they could. And yet, what I am saying, is that each child has certain emotional needs, which if not met, cause problems in our adult life. It doesn’t mean we should keep blaming our parents for having been deprived, but it does mean we need to heal those emotional wounds, if we want to have a happy and fulfilling life.
I’m not sure why you assume the experiences hasn’t been processed?
Well, if you want my honest answer, it’s because of the way you express yourself. You’re expressing yourself in philosophical, lofty terms, which are sometimes hard to follow. I’ve checked your two threads from 4 years ago, and they sounded much more down to earth and easier to follow. At that time you felt disillusioned about people’s ability to change. But you sounded more present, expressing your honest resignation, or disappointment. Since then, it appears you’ve become more philosophical and “esoteric”, and it’s usually a sign of going into the intellect to try to explain away one’s problems and soothe the pain. I believe that the pain is still there, but now you’re trying to rationalize it. But this is just my observation, it doesn’t mean I am right.March 24, 2021 at 9:47 am #376481SanParticipant
I don’t want to say more and more. In one line believe in yourself.March 24, 2021 at 10:21 am #376489
San is correct. Its difficult to put into words a realization that leads to letting go thus the change to the ‘philosophical’ or ‘mystical’ where words are intended to be experienced as the symbols that they are, symbols that point past themselves.
I was once involved in a debate about weather a person was truly capable of of performing a selfless act. It seamed that any example of a selfless act could be dissected were it was eventually ‘proved’ that the act was not selfless. The selfless act it seemed could only exist when expressed in words. Similar to the experience of happiness becoming something else in the act of measuring and labeling happiness. Better I think to “treasured up all these things and pondered them in ones heart”. Some experiences shouldn’t be shared, and or their is a time to share and a time to treasure and ponder.
The inner child exists as part of me but I am not not that child. His experience of quilt and disappointment are no longer mine, thought the experience still needs to be honored . Buddhism teaches that we have experiences and emotions.. but we are not our experiences and emotions. We are not a moment in time, We can allow them to flowMarch 24, 2021 at 11:10 am #376491
it was just my opinion, based on the way you’re expressing yourself here, on this forum. I don’t know anything about you and your life. You and only you know that. You know if you’re happy and fulfilled, or there are areas that bother you. If, as you say, you experienced lack of emotional nurturance and intimacy with your parents – and this wound hasn’t been healed – you would likely have issues in your adult relationships too. If you don’t experience guilt and disappointment any more, and you have satisfactory, fulfilling relationships – I am happy for you!March 24, 2021 at 11:55 am #376496
I hope I didn’t come across as ungrateful. I like being challenged and know I can move to the abstract when expressing myself.
Our dialog does beg the question. How do you know if you have really forgiven, let go, moved forward…? What is the point when a ‘seeker’ gets to be a ‘finder’?
Earlier I was talking about the temptation of going back, re-crossing the river, over and over again to make sure, make perfect, to recreate the ‘high’ and or peace of that moment of ‘knowing’ that is beyond knowing. A Temptation to to carry the raft after it has done its job and not trust the learning that took place in its building. I have gotten trapped in that cycle which has seldom been helpful.March 24, 2021 at 12:19 pm #376498
I am glad you don’t mind exploring some of these issues further.
Earlier I was talking about the temptation of going back, re-crossing the river, over and over again to make sure, make perfect, to recreate the ‘high’ and or peace of that moment of ‘knowing’ that is beyond knowing. A Temptation to to carry the raft after it has done its job and not trust the learning that took place in its building. I have gotten trapped in that cycle which has seldom been helpful.
Could you give an example of you going back and re-crossing the river, and carrying the raft after it’s no longer needed? What’s a raft for you – is it a tool, like a particular spiritual technique? You use a lot of metaphors, and I’d need to first understand the meaning, before I can try to give you an answer…