Monday, November 17, 2014
The events of the weekend that just ended yesterday have prompted me to take a bit of a pause. I feel a brief period of reassessment is now in order.
I come back to the writings contained within Erin Sullivan’s book Saturn In Transit again and again…and again. I feel myself gradually coming to some new understanding of self as well as a new sensibility regarding my own needs. If I mix in Sullivan’s prodigious wisdom with the first half of life/second half of life concept elucidated by Fr. Richard Rohr (which I have previously commented on here in my blog) I come up with some interesting thoughts and perhaps even insights.
Sullivan writes the following regarding the period of time between the second Saturn opposition and the next Saturn square (ages 45 to 52):
‘The first part of the cycle recalls the adolescent rebellion against authority and oppression (though at the age of forty-five one is more conscious of what the uprising is about), and there may still be unfinished business from the past that must resurface (added italics are my emphasis). Old feelings of inadequacy and futility are challenged by a rise of ambition. Life can no longer be lived for the moment but must have depth, content and meaning (italics are again my emphasis). It is a time in which a peak experience can occur when one feels highly motivated towards a new set of goals.’
I have previously referenced another portion of Sullivan’s writings in her Saturn focused book in which she writes of people truly being able to recapture portions of their own earlier life histories which they were not satisfactorily able to live when they first typically chronologically occur. Being able to recapture something that was lost or experiencing something that is every person’s healthy due (like a stable and happy childhood or adolescence) long after it would typically happen is something I think many people who have experienced severe trauma would find of interest. In other words, if you never had a healthy childhood or adolescence (due to the impact of trauma for example) you might feel haunted by this gap in your life and seek to somehow experience it later on. I know this is true for me.
There is something a bit unique about my situation, however. I am experiencing this yearning for something approximating an adolescent rebellion years before the period of life Sullivan talks about. I am forty-one now but can deeply understand and identify with Sullivan’s words which I have cited above. To use the parlance of Richard Rohr, I entered the second half of my life in 2013. I cannot and will not look back and try to pass back through the doorway I moved through in 2013.
I find myself simultaneously experiencing several life phases (and their corresponding developmental themes and issues). Some days I feel very much like an adolescent who wishes to take immense risks and see what may result. Other days I easily identify with my former nine-year old self who emerged from the time of my father’s near murder deeply traumatized. There are several ‘pieces’ of my life history beckoning for attention all at once. And the common thread that unites all of these time periods is the universal human experience of grief.
I felt a lot of grief because I did not feel seen. I did not feel that my most fundamental needs were consistently met. I was not met and listened to in a sufficiently consistent way such that I would feel grounded in a healthy sense of my very self.
The grief is waning now. And I feel it waning due in large part to the fact that I am now fully paying attention to how I feel. I see myself finally letting go. I am letting go as I finally have accepted the reality of my painful realization: my paternal family of origin will (likely) never be able to acknowledge and meet my long unmet needs. Yes, there is the possibility that something will change. But I will no longer attempt to be the agent of such change.
It is my intention to find my way through my grief and onto a path that leads to a bright future. I want to believe I am already on my way. And perhaps I truly am. Some measure of skepticism is healthy, though, right?