Circular Time

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Allow me a bit of self-indulgence this evening. I have returned to 1982 to visit my then-incarnation, the 11 year old Susan, whilst contemplating my creativity and my desire to write, and those people in the past who have unwittingly stifled it. It strikes me clearer tonight just how much Susan 1982 is told, inaudibly but comprehensively, in hundreds of different ways by the people in her household, that she isn't "real" enough to really be there. Does that make sense? And the problem is, Susan 1982's most "real" stuff is the creative stuff, the stuff that needs nurturing if you're going to plumb its depths. So Susan 1982 hasn't learned to trust what is inside her, nor her ability to bear its expression, nor the process that is involved in learning to bear that expression. I feel very sad for Susan 1982. To plumb the depths you need a pretty strong anchor. Susan 1982 has a strong anchor ... it's just that she doesn't recognise it - or Him/Her. Yet.

So even though Susan 1982 believes somewhere deep in her core that she isn't "real" enough to meaningfully take up space, paradoxically she also doesn't believe that in her core. It's the imprint of the Him/Her she doesn't know what to name yet. Life suggests itself to her that she is real, Him/Her Unnamed whispers it on the verge of sleep, and Susan ponders these things in her heart. So Susan 1982 believes she isn't "real" but she also believes that she is. For now, Susan must sit with paradox. Those in her household make her feel small. They don't mean to; they feel small themselves. But somewhere inside, Susan feels big. She just needs to meet the One that brings it all alive (and in some ways she already has; but he is patient and the greater meeting is to come. Susan 1982 isn't as into paradox as Sue 2007 is, so I'm not quite sure how much of it she understands. But she will. Paradox is a taste for a more mature palette).

So despite Susan feeling "not real", she's there, totally filling up the casing of her body to its outer edges. Despite the behaviour in the ensuing teenage years that screams from the rooftops that she is too fucking numb to cope with it all - something is holding Susan together. Despite the not real, there's no containing her. There is life in Susan 1982 no matter how suspiciously you look at her, how much you ignore her, how you don't show her affection, or show it inappropriately. Those things hurt and twist Susan but the life remains. Her spirit spills from the edges of her own body even while she feels dead. This spirit is in the other family members too, despite their attempts to quench it and kill it. Even if they do manage to kill it entirely ... it's still not dead. It's just people who are dead. But even when your body lies stiff in the ground, or walks deadly on the earth, the life is still there waiting for you to acknowledge it on your next breath in, or your last breath out, or the breath beyond the breathing. Nothing is wasted, not even ourselves.

Sue 2007 tries not to be too precious about her past hurts, recognising that she lives in a world full of people who are really generally doing the best that they can do, but she can't help thinking - could this household not see how sensitive Susan 1982 was, or did her loudness fool even them, her family members, the ones who should see past the masks and into the cracks? Encouragement - it must have come, but the words have not stayed. How stretchy words of encouragement and affirmation are. They stretch right across years and decades and down into your gut and your heart. If the words of encouragement had been spoken they would have fallen on a desert beginning to parch at the edges even at the same time as seeds were being planted by an unseen hand which I would not begin even to name for another decade. But who was planting seeds in the other family members, too, even if 25 years later you still can't see them.

Regrets are pointless enterprises but Sue 2007 can't help wishing that Susan 1982 knew that the void she was too scared to plumb was love. Then she would have known that she could jump in without drowning. But no matter. It's never too late. Sue 2007 can plumb them now because she has met Love. We have danced together unseen while the family members held themselves captive. The music is Love, and it sings out into the desert. Even theirs.

One day I will watch them dance, too.

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