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Taking leave of the small room

Newsletter: November 2016

Dear web friends

Greetings once again as cold November winds blow and the Trump story continues to amaze and disturb in equal measure. But as someone muttered as the results came in, politics touches everything, but it isn’t everything, not by a long shot… and life goes on.

I almost didn’t write this, to be honest. Indeed, a few weeks ago I almost packed in everything… blog, website, newsletters, retreats, writing, seeing people, the lot. If that sounds rather extreme, it was extreme. A feeling inside me of some desperation which I couldn’t name to begin with… only feel its force.

It started with quiet despair, the questioning of everything I did. This then became anger, I could feel the anger rising, a sense that my voice wasn’t being heard, that no one was interested, that I didn’t therefore exist, so what was the point in continuing? Everything was a waste of time.

If this sounds like the cynical despair expressed in Ecclesiastes, then it was like that, ‘vanity, vanity, everything is vanity!’ But despair is never general, it is always specific, and I knew I hadn’t yet got to the root of the malaise. It was only after I began to speak of my feelings to one or two people close to me (who sat and listened in quiet amazement and wisely did not offer any help) that the wall of repression began to crumble and I saw through to the specific illness.

Rejection. Ah, so that was it!? I had reached a previously unhealed layer of rejection in my psyche, sitting there in the soul shadows from way back… but powerful; powerful enough now to threaten everything I was doing and to remove all happiness from my being.

I won’t attempt too much back story because it isn’t about the back story; it’s about my response to it. But I remember at a family party recently when someone laughingly explained how they routinely left me in the farthest room in the house, a small and well-walled room, so they couldn’t hear my screaming. It was all a great laugh. I wanted to hit them, of course… but it was their birthday party.

I tell this story now not in search of pity; you probably suffered much worse, and I have no interest in your pity anyway; nor do I want a group hug… it doesn’t help me to go free. Rejection is not healed by acceptance; rejection is healed by being noticed, uncovered, by being named, by being felt, by being allowed. So I am the only agent for my freedom and I tell this story only to remind myself, (and yourself, if you wish) how well we cover over painful things when young, and only uncover them layer by layer in our adult lives.

The strong clue to repressed material is always a strong feeling. If we can stay with a strong feeling, however difficult it is, if we can speak it to another, walk with it, follow the clues, we may get back to the original wound… which is the only place where healing can happen.

While I avoid the wound, I remain in its power. Once I reached the wound, however, and saw it for what it was, my inner climate changed, energy and life returned, joy returned. The story of past rejection was playing as though it was present… only it wasn’t. It was a past truth but a present lie, and easily said goodbye to. I wrote a song called ‘The small room’, creaking with strong emotions… and that was enough, the feeling dissolved. The little boy, the little Simon, had been heard.

... and breathe.

As for house news, well, you’re the first to hear that the book launch for The Soldier, the Gaoler, the Spy and Her Lover will be at the lovely Sarum bookshop in Salisbury at 6.30pm on Monday 20 February. More about all that, but it would be an endless honour to see you there.

And if you wish to support a struggling but quite decent writer, why not make one of these little beauties a Christmas present to yourself or another? Something for everyone… as opposed to nothing for anyone:

Meanwhile, my next retreat is an Enneagram retreat at Abbey House, Glastonbury in March 2017. Details here:

Enough. You can now get up from your psychiatrist’s chair and dance a little, feeling the strength of your own life, because while politics touches everything, it isn’t everything… not by a long shot.

With very best leaf-flying wishes

Simon X

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