Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Road

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermicular patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

This is a quote, the last paragraph actually, in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. If you haven’t read this book I encourage you to do so. Yes, it is at times (okay, mostly) bleak and frightening but it is also a love story of a father and his son. It is a tale of hope and faith, and the brilliant flame within us, waiting to be ignited; waiting to free us from our fears. This flame is what connects us. It is a fiery bond that is shared between all that lives and when we acknowledge and respect that flame to it’s deepest extent we have no choice but to live in compassion and integrity. The whole book is haunting but the last paragraph reverberates throughout my whole being.

I thought of that quote after a conversation with a dear friend. We talked of our longtime friendship and I was able to see, more clearly, how over the years I have hurt her through my fears: how, in the effort to be safe, I pushed her away and had been unforgiving of her mistakes; how I betrayed her in small, seemingly insignificant ways. These were my codependent strategies for living: trust no one; use past traumas as guidelines for today; over extend myself to the place of resentment; avoid intimacy; and always expect the worst. We have talked about this many a time but this conversation was different, it was if the last veil was pushed aside. Perhaps it was because I finally saw how she never gave up on me: always spoke her truth and encouraged me to speak mine. She understood my codependent parts and, while not indulging them, infused our friendship with patience, space and boundaries so that my true self would eventually emerge.

Codependent behaviours can mimic the apocalyptic landscape of The Road. In hopes of a “better” life, our codependent parts can behave like those people in the story who hurt others in their desire to survive. These men and women were not essentially bad but, in fear of dying, they left unlit their internal flame and resorted to atrocities so that they may live. I, in fear of abandonment, dissolution and being hurt, fed off the negative and discounted the value of relationship. I was an island unto myself creating a false sense of security.

McCarthy wrote: "On their backs were vermicular patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again". Each of our lives is a map of the world becoming. Before, and in the first few years of recovery, I was too hurt and embittered by the past to see the beauty and power of this truth. I did not treasure it and lost my way: the map became an endless maze of accusations and angry recriminations.

With regards to my friendship, I know it suffered loss because of the fears of my codependent parts. And, I know it cannot be put back together again in the way it was once imagined. It can, however, begin anew, with faith and love and belief that all hurt can eventually find a safe place to heal. As I reflect on this friendship with open eyes and heart experiencing a deep sense of safety, I am more than ever aware of the mystery of life, of “all things … older than man”. I am thankful to my friend and her intrinsic understanding that there was more to me than what my fears manifested.

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