In my reading this morning, a beautiful line from Richard Wagamese jumped out and grabbed me:
...parts of us exist in exile, and completeness is journeying to bring them home. *
I sat with that line for a long while, staring into the fire, thinking about the parts of me that exist in exile. Maybe there is no loss, only exile, and if I'm willing to do the work, I can have every part of me back home again.
I have a picture of my little self, standing up in my high chair looking directly into the camera, eyes shining, mouth wide open in a laugh. It's all right there: my curiosity, my trust, my open heart, my joy, my optimism.
It's not that I have lost parts of myself to trauma as so many children have. But a natural exile of innocence occurs as we grow up and experience life's inherent challenges and disappointments.
Add to that the death of a parent at an early age, loss of family and community at a crucial time in my life, rejection by people I needed most when I came out . . . every one of these little bumps caused me to take a piece of my heart, wrap it protectively, and jettison it away for safekeeping. I focused on survival, healing, and figuring out who I was. And slowly, over the years, I have embarked on journeys to find those exiled pieces of my heart and bring them home. Sometimes these journeys are unexpected and easy - a new friendship that brings back some little part of me, or a creative process that opens a locked door.
Sometimes these journeys are difficult - a challenging relationship that triggers me and I don't know why. Figuring out the why might hurt a little, and will likely require some change on my part, but there is a good likelihood that the process will bring another piece of my heart home.
When I worked at the Regional Support Centre, I became accustomed to running self-diagnostics on a daily basis. When I accompanied students on their journeys of self-understanding, I was quietly applying every lesson to my own life. Every day, I put my soul and psyche up on the hoist; regular maintenance was a built-in component of my counsellor/teacher role. As an added bonus, my bosses were excellent diagnosticians and I often availed myself of their expertise. They would help me find the origin of the problem, but everyone was responsible for their own repairs. (Every exiled part of me that I recovered while working at the RSC, I took home to my relationship. In fact, in my case, the RSC might well have stood for Relationship Service Centre).
This morning, as I was pondering all of this, my dog lay beside me, snoring gently. He used to wake himself up with his own snoring, but now, he is adjusting to life without his hearing. He does everything he did before, but with instinctive adaptations. Is he even conscious of the loss? Probably not.
So too, I have adapted to living my life without some of my original parts - the parts so clearly evident in the picture of the happy toddler in front of me. We all adapt. We function very nicely, thank you very much. But are we complete?
Today, I renew my commitment to keep journeying, to keep searching, to bring it all back home. Or as much as possible.
Watch for me: I'll be the one standing on my chair looking directly into the camera, eyes shining, mouth wide open in a laugh.
*Richard Wagamese, Embers, One Ojibway's Meditations. Douglas & McIntyre, 2016. (p.95)
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