As soon as the world impacts an infant, root suffering begins. It is not experienced that way yet—the baby doesn’t think about what’s happened, but has an emotional reaction to stimuli. Emotional marks are left that later, with repeated incidents that trigger the same emotions, wear into grooves. As the child grows and develops a personality partly in response to these triggers, clearly defined patterns become apparent. No one survives childhood without his or her own constellation.
I was a colicky infant, and my parents tried many formulas before they found one I was apparently able to digest. I’ve been told that I hollered a lot; that might have made it harder to love and bond with a cranky baby. My mother also said that she let me scream myself to sleep most nights—since comforting didn’t help, they just put me back in my crib to cry myself out. Eventually, I fell asleep. No judgment here; it’s not to get caught in the story. However, I seem to have deep grooves both fearing loss of love, and fearing loss of support while in the midst of suffering. I don’t feel comfortable asking for support that, if the situation were reversed, I would naturally offer to another.
Decades ago, to fix what I perceived as a problem–I looked at every angle in counseling. Yet these root patterns remain, and can still be triggered into suffering. Although therapy has its place, trying to puzzle out the thoughts—even seeing the initial catalyst—will not put an end to them. Thoughts simply arise on their own, unbidden. In the last couple of years I returned to counseling for a while, but with a wholly different approach: to notice the typical footprint that thoughts leave–for all of us. Repetitive thoughts solve nothing! In fact, they build story and conflict. Once the whole pattern of thought is seen through, it holds far less interest.
I find that being present with the emotions and the thoughts that trigger them–although uncomfortable–brings me back to life, right where it is, right now. Eventually, the emotions and thoughts soften and leave. There is nothing to do, nothing to judge, nothing to change.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2012