Friday, October 19, 2012


     A certain capacity for dissociation is a prerequisite for surviving catastrophe.  When a person's life is disintegrating, via loss or tragedy, the grief can be unbearable.  Dissociation is an almost automatic process by which a person can both be, and not be.
     Individuals who have experienced severe trauma may know it well:  they leave the scene of the present, so to speak, thereby escaping immediate pain.  Dissociation is described as a psychological coping strategy, as in multiple personality disorder.  But there are spiritual components to the experience, in that one recognizes the self as not entirely corporeal:  what's happening is happening to someone not-me, but to my material aspect, my body, my three-dimensional life caught up in the space-time continuum.  The real that-which-I-am is someone else.  Or, what's happening is part of a necessary process of transformation, akin to forging metal into an object of beauty and worth, a conversion of raw materials into an alloy or composite with a completely different nature. It's an alchemical operation whereby a base substance is acted upon--rudely, painfully, gloriously--so as to effect a change in its very nature.
     My life is just such a material substance, undergoing transformation.  I no longer believe in the person I have been:  a medical doctor, a person with a fixed social role, a parent, property owner, businesswoman, someone in the prime of life, someone of this world.
     Whoever grows must endure being acted upon by forces from within and without, and this is the circumstance in which I find myself now.  I can distance myself from it as a way of enduring the pain, but then I must return to live as material substance, an immanent human being, or be subject to a kind of death.
     I have discovered through dissociative techniques during which I pay strict attention to what is happening to me as though it is happening to someone else, that I am not being destroyed at all, but am being offered something new, a gift, though its nature is not at all clear.
     If the channels through which energy circulate can remain open, if one can hold steady, watching and waiting without saying No to the inevitable, then the processes of destruction and creation are not opposites, but the very same thing.

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