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Traumatic Fear: Dissociating from our Body

As a child Rosalie had been severely abused by her father. When he was drunk he would try to reach into her underpants or climb into her bed at night and rub his body against hers until he climaxed. When she resisted him he’d hit her and threaten her with worse. If she tried to run away and hide, he would become enraged, chase after her and mercilessly beat her. On two occasions during the year before he and her mother divorced, Rosalie’s father had forced her to have intercourse with him. Such severe trauma has an emotional and physical impact that can endure a lifetime. When Rosalie came to see me, she was thirty-five years old, single and mildly anorexic. She’d already been through several forms of therapy, but was still going on and off starvation diets and suffering from regular anxiety attacks. Her body was thin, rigid and tight; and she was mistrustful of everyone she knew.

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In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,

I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;

I hear my echo in the echoing wood

A lord of nature weeping to a tree.

I live between the heron and the wren,

Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of the soul

At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!

I know the purity of pure despair,

My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.

That place among the rocks-is it a cave,

Or a winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!

A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,

And in broad day the midnight comes again!

A man goes far to find out what he is

Death of the self in a long, tearless night.

All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.

My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,

Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I

A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.

The mind enters itself, and God the mind,

And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Theodore Roethke

Sweet Darkness

the world was made to be free in.

You must learn one thing

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

anything or anyone

that does not bring alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte

You Will Lose Everything

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality and no longer turning away.

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