This follows my earlier thoughts and takes the idea of identity a bit further. I wrote earlier how much getting back to cycling has allowed me to regain a part of myself that I thought I had had to give up. If I saw cyclist out on a ride I felt guilty, sad and annoyed. Why wasn’t I out there? (I even tried a session of hypnosis to overcome my anxiety. I don’t think it worked-unless it was a particularly slow release style, taking a year to achieve something.) One serious test will come tomorrow when I do a 75 mile charity ride around the Chilterns. (Hence blogging today!)
I have had several conversations with my patients about identity. How parents who divorce can mean important stories get lost. Similarly when parents die, all sorts of bits of us die with them. They are no longer here to be able to ask “What happened when…?” One patient put it that it was like having a jigsaw puzzle that would forever remain incomplete. But unlike a game, this puzzle was their life story which was incomplete. So the work of mourning the death of parents is a doubled piece of work. Part of my past is gone. As is part of my future. Both feel lost.”In my beginning is my end… in my end is my beginning” wrote Eliot.
Another patient comes into my room but feels permanently absent. I find myself puzzled about where their real life is lived. (I don’t think they know the answer.) Much of our work together seems to be about “real making”. Yeats spoke of seeing “…in all poor foolish things that only live a day, Eternal beauty wandering on her way.” My patient reminds me of this line. So much of what is presented in the room consists of “poor foolish things that only live a day”. Or that is how my patient regards themselves and their material. The work is, I think, to allow them to find Eternal beauty. Something robust, valued and sure.
I have spoken before of my roots in Evangelical Christianity. I remember many texts, lines and thoughts from the bible. Some helpful, some less so. A conversation with one my patients recently reminded of a comment made by Saint Paul. He is writing to the church in Collosse and tells them ” For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Coll.3:3) For more years than I want to remember this was held up as a statement of True spirituality. Paul makes a similar statement in Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal.2:20) As a good believer I tried to think myself into this position. “Not I, but Christ.” It was hard work. I kept on getting in the way! Following a session with one of my patients I found myself re-visiting these thoughts from Saint Paul. I discovered that I was annoyed with the apostle. “He’s hiding” I realised. “He doesn’t much like or know the person he is. His life is at least three times removed. There is Paul. Whose life is hidden in Christ. Who in turn is hidden in the Trinity. The most floridly psychotic schizophrenic could not be much more cut off from himself. Therapeutic with Paul around his self image and self value would be fascinating. Very hard work. Infuriating. Exasperating. But fascinating. I think the work would take a long time…
I stil have more to write and am aware that 500 words makes for comfortable reading. Much more and patience begins to wane. So, I’ll write part 3 in a little while. If anyone is still reading!