Been my work to report from the inside of what Winnicott calls “unthinkable anxieties” or “primitive agonies.” Others have said “annihilation terror.” The feeling I’m about to be snuffed out, next instant, makes no sense I’m going on being at all. Whole universe withdrawing from me in the mode of female rejection. Times I’ve wanted to help the process along, step in front of a truck. No, not now, not for a long time – I’m okay. This is a field report not a plea.
All the childs feel them. Belongs to being human, animal part stone part star. Most of us probably have echoes in us, form of nightmares, neuroses, phobias, premonitions. And some us saints been left with ’em more wholesale.
A rupture with my lover (screwy and I hope brief) and another with my mother (my choice and I fear for good) have me in a rough pinch right now. Add an intrusive procedure this AM to look at my bladder by the only route on offer – I fucking wept, not with pain, it hurt bad but was the intrusion got my sorrow on – and I really am in a way this evening.
A life’s work, wow, yeah. Tracing and reporting on it. How I hollow out inside. Or how the whole world, every perceptible instant, birdsong say, recedes from me, becomes alien, taunting, hostile.
Those who got stuck at this juncture with me will know it already. Those who made it through may not remember it. The forgetting is salutary, why should I ask you to remember. I have no good answer to that, right now.
But also, points of exit, relief. This terror, when I’m in it, is my ground – I’m looking to speak my ground. But also to find the ground under my ground and to soar from it.
Well. I’m sitting at Menace Brewing, trying to work on my Old English ms, due sooner than I fear I can manage, but this blog post called. I want to write about Winnicott, kindest of the psychoanalysts, but if I start I won’t stop, and I’m away from my books anyway. His interfusions with the buddhadharma are many. I have a feeling he underwrites, already, my Dura Mater.
And sorrows of these women I don’t understand, and have had a hand in, and feel held to account for. Sorry I’m mysterious there. The only life I get to strip mine here is my own.
I’m a man nearing 50 with a squalling inconsolable babe in me.
This grabbed (later) from Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts:
As concepts such as “good enough” mothering suggest, Winnicott is a fairly sanguine soul. But he also takes pains to remind us what a baby will experience should the holding environment not be good enough:
The primitive agonies
Falling for ever
All kinds of disintegration
Things that disunite the psyche and the body
The fruits of privation
going to pieces
falling for ever
dying and dying and dying
losing all vestige of the hope of the renewal of contacts
Mothers they got it tough. I don’t know how any of them do it. And its going wrong, well, Winnicott thought some of the world’s hurt could be explained there.
I say to me, you got to mother yourself, no one else will, you got to father yourself, no one else will. Everything that is here is here with you. What’s the practice of that though.
A lifetime looking, and I’ll be honest, not not finding.
Hard to remember when the fear sweeps through you as nebula.