By Alicia Veloz.
I often used to have a dream that distressed and interrogated me. It was about me having a baby in my arms and I felt terrified because I didn’t have the strength to keep carrying it. In the end, I was about to let it go, dropping it to the ground just before waking up. When I woke up, I felt so helpless and frustrated, and I felt that the baby and the one who was carrying it were aspects related to one and the same person: me, stuck and afraid; hesitant and feeling unconfident of my own strength as an adult, with feeble arms that can’t embrace, hold or comfort someone. In other words: a being with no strength to stand on my own.
This dream appeared in my life during a very complex moment of my partner relationship. At that time, I couldn’t give meaning to my dream and I couldn’t see what it was showing me. Back then, everything was overrun by my desire of wanting to live a happier life, going back to forgotten and abandoned facets of my own existence: sexuality, living an unknown freedom, the illusion of love. In the middle of that, there was pain, affection for others, common places, and a shared life… But in the outside world, there was the voice of life, filled with aromas, flavors, colors… All of them, waiting for me… That’s what I thought.
An urgent necessity of letting go of my current life at that point pushed me. It guided me to the front door only to finally cross it and close it. Even if it was painful to leave everything behind, the hope for a definite change was more powerful. Leave the house, breaking up my relationship… All of that was on my side. Those things meant to me to be loyal to the calling that I felt came from my womb. So I took my decision and I left that place I called “home” for more than 25 years.
Living alone felt like a spectacular adventure to me, like a long-nurtured desire and it also felt like there was something else, something more complex and deep than just going my separate way. It meant to deal with new material responsibilities that I never experienced before. It was the first time I had to pay rent, to pay bills, to buy my own supplies… I had to be in charge of my own means of support. The word “independence” circled in my mind those days and I was happy with this brand-new status. I could feel the energy rushing inside me and I loved it. Life, to me, was filled with clean air and I could sense how it flowed around me.
After the first months, the novelty about this new life started to dissolve. I didn’t enjoy to come back home anymore, just to find out I was all alone. I found myself feeling desolate as the days passed. I realized that I underestimated this new scenario that involved being alone, without the murmurs and the distraction of family affections. I tried to fill that silent space by turning the TV on, cleaning the tub or immersing myself in my smartphone… Everything possible to soothe the pain, a pain that was starting to invade me. Then… I couldn’t go on anymore. I couldn’t keep running away and I found myself facing a crude reality: I can’t live alone because I don’t know how to be with myself. The material resources I had weren’t enough to carry on with this lifestyle. I felt defeated and immature.
All those promises about having my own place, the literature that inspired me, changed drastically. All the beauty and the truth that seduced me had transformed into an existential cocktail made of tears and guilt.
And that is how I accepted this; my truth. I wanted to escape from this trance and so, I came back home. I wished so much to step onto solid ground, to sleep peacefully, to have an assured future. Inside, I was crying because of my failed attempt, my damaged self-love and a vision of myself as a sad and pathetic person. Who was I fooling with this? I simply couldn’t stand on my own, materially and affectively. When I understood that, it was a painful and concluding fact: I had denied myself access to having the conditions to do something since I didn’t focus on evaluating those requirements at the time.
I didn’t consider if this change in my life was viable and if the conditions were indicated to carry it through. I thought that it was enough with good disposition and enthusiasm. I experienced feelings of infinite power, of blind trust… I felt like I could do anything I wanted. I didn’t want to see the inevitable and how annoying and uncomfortable was doing the math and planning a budget. I stretched so much the rubber band of denial, it cut and it struck me fully in my face. That impact made me see it all.
When I came back home, I wasn’t the same nor were the ones who stayed, or maybe I couldn’t keep looking at them the same as I had before. I understood that that step caused an effect and I didn’t have to go that far to admit it since it was inside me: I became aware of the big perception mistakes in my relation with myself and with life. I came back defeated, but this time there was a more clear and lucid conscience inside me about my reality and a more loving comprehension of my own resilience and weaknesses.
For the first time, I could see my life honestly and be aware of its mess expressed in postponed conversations, unfinished projects, un-made decisions… and all those things were taking up a lot of space in my existence and I felt they were inevitably wasted.
This was the predule to the access to the truth, since I could accept and bear the external and internal circumstances without feeling threatened, even if I still felt exposed to the vicissitudes.
Likewise, I saw, in this initiative for breaking up, the search for my own physical and geographic space that would make distance between myself and my family, without comprehending that this, too, was about an internal space settled between my body and I as a link and a bridge with the outside world. I was so far from my own body to the point I felt it as a stranger I had never met, yet it was always there, by my side… breathing.
Discovering myself, including my body, moved me. Thanks to this, I aroused a nostalgic feeling and a desire for a long-lost home and today, at last, I find myself living in it as a warm, protective place which I can count on and I can see it as a support where my existence lives at its fullest.
Lastly, going back to the dream that started this article, I can say that the terror that the fall of the baby (myself as well) made me feel distrust myself for not finding anything to hold up in my fall. It was the terrible confrontation between my psyche and the presumption of a destructive void.
As the months went on, I started to think about this quasi-outcome: I always woke up seconds before knowing if the strength of my arms were enough to hold up the baby and I never knew it… at least in the dream. The agreement with this uncertainty was to conceive the required space to consider “another one” in this experience, a bigger being than me, life itself, the maternal aspects, the earth… All those things that were and have been in the world since before the creation of my own existence, to offer themselves as the last foundation of all confidence. I discovered that I had that, that I could just drop myself in a net, even in Death’s arms… All with an absolute conviction.
It was about a power, superior to me, that was part of the reality of existence and, in my case, I couldn’t dispose of it at that moment, undergoing the racket, the pain and the frustration, because life didn’t go as I planned. When I learnt “existence also means to give yourself over” to the limits of myself and that failure was that limit, disillusion helped me to increase my vision of reality, to regain my strength, to endure and accept the uncertainty of the processes of life and its roads, and to open myself to the experience of the fundamental confidence.
Recently, I’m doing the exercise my professor told me without the support of a formal institution, relying on myself and my insecurities, meaning, today I build the conditions of my existence with the basic confidence of being, but this time, between the housework and the thought, between the cleaning and the books, carrying out and creating with my own strength the conditions that take me back to the world.
The thoughts I’m sharing here are the personal work I have done of my experience with failure and the “I cannot”, which leads me back to wish for a better life and helps me to recognize myself as a growing being. Maybe the most essential thing in my life played a role in this failure. However, the same failure showed me my ground and internal support through the experience of “endurance as an original power”. From all of this, I perceive inside me an unknown, humble attitude that opens me to other things and people, and it allows me to understand each and every experience of my life.
Alicia Veloz Contreras
Post title © in Existential Analysis (ICAE)
Article: Can I support the weight of my baby?