About me & my displaced child
A few weeks ago I was reading a friend’s facebook postings and read about her musings concerning grieving of loss. I wrote a comment mentioning that I regretted that I hadn’t felt more aggrieved when my father, mother and sister’s died. I told her that I had experienced more grief when an older friend had died, although I was never very much closer to him than to my family. He and I were members of a self-administered men’s support group of 7 in Vancouver, BC.
The closest intimacy I had with Richard was to hear his basso snoring whenever we overnighted with the group. He and another member of the group could be said to produce heroic, or barbaric, noises while they slept and others, like me, tried to. Our conscious exchanges in group sessions were controlled by the rule that any one of us shouldn’t break into another’s musings unless we were asked to.
A few times I can remember that Richard’s complaining about the effect that women’s rights seemed to be having on his sense of personal value got my goat but I never said very much. He was from Montreal as I was but our exchanges about that were really very limited. We never got beyond the conversational and that was probably because neither he nor I really wanted to. The simple truth is below skin level we didn’t really sympathize much one with the other.
I remember walking out of VGH the first time I visited with him and a few of the group since he was manifestly on his “death bed”. As I walked out and down the broad stairway I felt a real emotional wrench in my gut and tears began to roll out of my normally cool eyes. And I did think of Richard in his plight, but most of all I thought about my younger sister’s bout with MS. She hadn’t died yet though. Then my mind segued into thoughts about how I had experienced the long distance last few months of my mother’s life; she was in a Sherbrooke QC hospital and I was living in Vancouver.
My sense of grief at that moment of recall was personal and intense for me. I did tell one of the group I felt closest to then about my sense of grief about Richard and my invalided sister. She died a year or so after that hospital visit.
During the last years of her life, when I was in my late fifties and she 90some, our exchanges were mostly about surface subjects. Although one time she did volunteer that she felt she had had a good life. This got me to think back how unhappy she had looked the whole day of the family celebration of her 50th wedding anniversary. I had not had the nerve to ask then why she seemed so unhappy, although she and my father were in good health for their age and should have been enjoying a day with children and grand-children.
I didn’t have to emotional courage to talk with her because I had never tried to before and a day of celebration didn’t seem like the time to step into her emotions of the day.
Last night I spent a little more than an hour with my psychologist friend, Bella (not her real name) to talk about my “displaced child” feelings. Earlier she had suggested in our comment postings on Facebook that she gathered from the story fragments I posted on my blog and on Facebook, that I seemed to fit the “displaced child” profile.
Never had I thought of myself in those terms although I had journaled often about my sense of instant grieving, regret and loss whenever I heard Spanish songs or the “Mon Amour” symphonic piece to mention the triggers that come off the top of my head now. And I realized before meeting with her last night and during our talk, that I had survived displaced child emotions. In truth, I don’t feel caught in that emotional trough anymore.
The focus of our talk was not to dwell on, or for me to wallow, in an emotional recovery of my experiences having to evacuate from Barcelona in July 1936 and from Paris in May and June of 1940 during the Fall of France. Nor was it a time to celebrate my sense of having survived and being better for that experience.
Here are the points that really got my attention thinking about what was said with my psychologist friend:
I have a successful life so far;
She said she found interesting that from what I said I was future oriented and that amazed her from a 74 yr old man and former displaced child;
Considering what she and I said last night I seem to have healthy open-ness to my inner self and I am manifestly intent on improving my emotional health;
Writing for me must become more like tapping into my emotion energy reservoir from my displaced child place;
I want to do business to give my wife as much as I can; and,
I will do business and finish that partly fictional personal and family memoir
Let me consider the above points. They feel and read like a healthy self assessment for me to be in now. The best thing is that I don’t feel stuck in the past but I can draw on the emotional energy I get from looking back and reliving as much as I can of the bad, the good and the survival.
I have lots of time ahead of me to do most of what I would like to get done before I consider leaving this mortal coil! And that I feel like celebrating more than a birthday!
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