It has been some time since I posted. A lot of life changes the past few months. It takes time for the mind to make sense of change and as one gets older, processing happens slower and more privately than before. Deaths, separations, moves, births, rebirths, misery, sickness, happiness, vacations, losses, wins, celebrations — all part of life, sometimes all this occurs in bunches and life doesn’t allow you to stand still when you want to.
It is hard to do what I do, be who I am and maintain privacy about the hardest things. I believe in maintaining as much transparency as I can handle. Yet it is a bit of a luxury that this moment in time, I stand still before my blog, having survived this year, able to type again. It feels somewhat magical, somewhat right again. To write. In public. Again.
The past year and a half or so, my sanity has been maintained through meditating on quotes like this one:
“Mental health ultimately means that an individual, through rich emotion affirming-encounters with living, has integrated his or her life in such a way that the emergent self-structures, deeply affective, can steer a satisfying, cognitive course through future emotional jungles of lived lives.”Panksepp, J. (2009). Brain Emotional Systems and Qualities of Mental Life: From Animal Models of Affect to Implications for Psychotherapeutics. In D. Fosha, D. J. Siegel, & M. Solomon (Eds.), The Healing Power of Emotion: Affective Neuroscience, Development & Clinical Practice (p. 368). New York, New York, USA: W. W. Norton.
Integration happens through things that can and cannot be controlled. One can be surprised to feel the moment of integration after telling a story to a trusted friend or a stranger. Sometimes a memory emerges literally from the darkness of nowhere, dips itself through the hippocampus and comes through on the other side ready to be played back in broad daylight. This happens a number of ways but most often for me it comes from interacting with something or someone. Hopefully someone kind. Ideally, someone that cares. A word, an image, a sound, a touch may unexpectedly flip a switch in the brain. Some connection is made in the brain quite literally. It can be felt. It is chemistry and electricity. What we’re made of is tangible.
The past few weeks a lot of chemistry has been jostled in my brain and body because of the illness of my female cat Lilith who is dying from cancer. Tonight, I may have to put her to sleep. “I don’t believe in goodbyes” I wrote to her in the letter that will be burned with her. Once that connection is made, it stays with you always — unless there is brain damage. So for now, nothing can take her away from me. It is just her body that will be gone forever.