“We’re constantly in intermediary phases. Everything is transient.
The ephemeral is found in everything that lives.”
Five days have passed since I started my new life in Berlin (more on that later), and someone just asked me what a reflective essay is. In my case, it’s my way of sharing my process and thoughts out loud, throwing a bunch of references while doing it, and if everything goes well, connecting with someone out there who feels the same way. It is also a route to creatively express myself after deciding to take a break from music journalism. This is an empowering and liberating practice for me.
It has been a year since I stopped EMDR –at least, in the way, I was doing it before–, since my therapist transferred my case to her mentor, and in which my life has radically changed. Adrienne Rich said it well in her poem A Vision: “this enforced loss of self in a greater thing, of course, who has ever lost herself in something smaller?”
The road has been challenging at times. I’ve been paralysed by the captivity created in my mind. My eating disorder showed up again. The violence embedded in the silence of what is taken for granted was more visible and present than before. Yet, since my journey through therapy began, I have slowly allowed my creative self to flourish again. I have forged a healing bond with poetry. I have discovered the beauty of the hidden speech of the everyday sounds, the routine that subtly startles our senses.
“with the hands of a mother, I would close the door
on the rooms you’ve left behind
and silently pick up my fallen work.”
– The Spirit of Place, Adrienne Rich
I have had to cut some demons and collect the remains. Setting limits feels weird, especially when you associate love and boundaries with the fear of abandonment. It is like a ring that dances on your finger or a dress too big for you. The feeling is the same: it can fall (leave you) at any moment. Helplessness as a comfort zone is painful and absurd. Boundaries define stories and separate protagonists from secondary roles. Yet, you ask yourself, “Where had they all gone, these people who had seemed so real?”, paraphrasing Louise Gluck.
And the answer is a brutal silence that tastes like a desert.
Woman in the shape of a monster
To heal your own trauma, you must forgive the pain of others. Nothing more difficult. Impossible. The answer that comes from within is survival. Sometimes it turned me into a woman in the shape of a monster… or have I been a monster in the shape of a woman all along? Forgiving is divine, yes, but it is a conscious and solitary exercise.
In addition to sowing poetic seeds after nights full of dreams or trying to hear beyond the obvious, as Maryanne Amacher suggests, I reconnected with mystical practices. “Rituals are a way to get close to the spiritual dimension”, said Eliane Radigue when explaining the connection to music and sound waves. Every morning, I dedicated a minute to being grateful or channelling the daily energy through the Tarot. I also started to read The Red Book by Carl Jung, and surprisingly, it spoke to me on a deeper level.
Therapy has taught me that my hurt self is embodied in the form of a little girl. Jung used a similar image when speaking to his soul in his dreams: “Who are you, child? My dreams have represented you (…) The wound still bleeds, and I am far from being able to pretend that I do not hear the mockery. How strange it sounds to me to call you a child, you who still hold the all-without-end in your hand”.
Like Jung, my process has been to confront my unconscious. An exercise on “mythopoetic imagination”: “deliberately evoking a fantasy in a waking state, and then entering into it as into a drama, but wanting to give this a possibility of emerging”. This so-called fantasy is full of bleeding wounds that need to be taken care of. This is not a linear path, nor a circular one. It’s a shapeless and endless journey.
“The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth”.
– The Red Book, Carl Jung
However, as painful as it is, there’s beautiful freedom climbing from the uncertainty, from discovering this version of you capable of modulating along with life and relationships. It’s overwhelming, noisy, messy, but as Radigue said: “the perceptual acuity is heightened through the discovery”. Filling my learning process with “how” instead of “why” has given me so much of everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. It is me, the one who is healing by travelling through love and loss without regrets.
Transamoren – Transmortem
Before the greatest achievement
Before the greatest detachment
At the limit of the frontier space
the unconscious –tuned waves–
consonant things vibrate together.
Where does the change happen?
In the inner field of perception or
the exterior reality of moving things
in the course of becoming.
And time is no longer an obstacle,
but the means by which
the possible is achieved.
A temporal totality
A year later, in this new chapter, I am grasping a more brightening version of the idea of who I want to be. I utilise “bright” and not “better” because, like light, the intensity of my progress can increase or decrease, becoming shadowing and foggy at times. There is nothing wrong with scars. They made me who I am and show me the way when I’m feeling lost.
When explaining her creative process, Radigue speaks on creating a temporal reality where the past and the future are contained and hold the present. She also talks about lending new ears to embrace naive ways of listening, immersing yourself in spaces restrained by nothing.
“Multiple convoluted meanings and questionings along a one-way path. But all of them have this complete respect for the single path, the same one from the beginning to the centre and back. By following the convolutions of the labyrinth, you ask yourself certain questions and think about the answers throughout the journey. These convolutions have a structure that ultimately leads you to the heart of the labyrinth.”
– Éliane Radigue, Julia Eckhardt: Intermediary Spaces
I know that therapy is not for everyone. But, for me, after turning 40 years old a few weeks ago, it is giving me the power of removing my own veil. This veil is like a windshield after a night of rain, and I am cleaning it, and everything becomes clear. The love that I am starting to sense for myself is steadily growing and feels good.
However, my creative voice is still convulsing. I have to deal with and embrace this lack of confidence in my own work, what I have to say and how to do it. Unfortunately, social constructs still play a role in this, making me doubt, overthink. Who am I to believe that I have something to say? It’s frightening because you are experiencing life and creation in the same way you did when you were 20, only this time you ask yourself: Am I too old? Is it too late?
The same goes for relationships, friendships, reality. Am I ready to fall in love or meet new people or try a new field? Everything is unique, novel. But, in parallel, a voice asks me if there is enough time to start again. I would hesitantly say yes, there is time. In my case, I have decided to leave my 12-year life in Barcelona, packed and stored, to embrace the unknown for a few months.
Anxiety and excitement confront each other and rise like waves every time I say it out loud. I watch my life pass by through this window. Nevertheless, I am starting in Berlin, open to what arises in me and my interaction with others. From now on, curiosity and naivety lead me by the hand, hopeful for the possibilities of all that could be and will happen next.
“I think here I will leave you. It has come to seem
there is no perfect ending.
Indeed, there are infinite endings.
Or perhaps, once one begins,
there are only endings.”
– Faithful and Virtuous Night, Louise Gluck