Hearing Our Inner Fears

My cochlear implant surgery is scheduled for February 5. Not the scariest of surgeries, but I haven’t had general anesthesia since I was a girl.

I know my doctor well and trust him. My son Anthony will drive me to the surgical center in Rochester, NY. The procedure is usually day surgery. I expect to sleep at home that night.

“I’m scared,” a little voice inside says. She doesn’t give up. It’s easy to dismiss her as whiny. She’s about four, my age when I had my first surgery for crossed eyes. She remembers the choking smell of the ether mask as she drowned in visions of bones, huge bones, dinosaur sized bones burying her little body.

My Dad Lon, ~1950

“Daddy, they took out my eyes,” I screamed when I woke up. Both eyes were patched and my hands were tied to the bed railings. “Daddy, help me,” I cried. I heard him sniffle and blow. I knew he was crying. “Those bandages will come off and you’ll be able to see,” he said. I believed him.

At home, he held me on his lap to put stinging drops in my eyes. He scolded me for wiping out the medicine, so I didn’t. I wanted to be held.

Looking back, I know how sick he was, how close to dying. Since he was often bedridden, he was home to support me. I knew where to find him.

My dad lived another ten years, but he was always sick. Mom pushed for a second eye surgery months after his death. It was cosmetic this time. I thought I looked fine, but she detected a slight turning inward of that eye. The doctor must have agreed.

I wasn’t ready. Maybe I would have never been ready.

After my dad’s death

Mom taught full-time and focused on pulling her widowed life together. She had no patience for fear or grief, mine or especially her own. I couldn’t say, “Mommy, I’m scared.”

Who will hold my hand and love me when I’m weak and helpless? Who will say “You’ll be OK?” This time, I’ll tell my friends and sons about the scared little girl within. This time, I know how to comfort myself.

The ear that gets the cochlear implant has been dead to sound for almost a year. Surgical risk is minimal. Implanted people assure me their lives have been vastly improved. I don’t risk losing the barely correctable hearing in my R ear.  I’ve struggled with hearing loss for years and hoped for help. The implant receivers won’t be turned on until mid March to make sure I’m completely healed. The transition will be slow. I’ll be OK.

Robert Bly, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

“I’m scared,” my little one says. “I’m really scared.” She doesn’t understand OK.

I remember what the poet Robert Bly taught about supporting his scared inner child. He said he tried to ignore the fear and scold himself into silence, but it didn’t work. So he surrendered and let the little one live in his imagination. He talked to him. Bly imagined the little guy on his knee and comforted that nagging irrational little kid fear.

I did this when my husband was dying and again when my brother was dying. Again when I had Meniere’s Disease “drop attacks” six years ago and feared I’d need assisted living.

Leaning on my sons, 2008

This time, I’ve had practice and have two loving sons to help. This time, a friend already offered to stay at my home if I need her and another friend will watch my dog. This time, I know what to do.

“You’re OK,” I’ll tell the scared little one. “I hear you and hold you close. I won’t scold or ignore you. I hear you. I love you. It’s OK to be scared.”

Life offers many chances to comfort or reject our wounded selves. I’ll imagine my little one in my arms with patches over her eyes and a big bandage over her left ear.

“You’re OK,” I’ll say. “We’re both OK.”

“I believe you,” she’ll say pushing her little body against my pounding heart.


with Vic who is always in my heart

What do you do with irrational anxiety or fears Do you try to ignore it or do you let it in so you can comfort yourself? Thanks to my Facebook friend Judy Cohen who has two cochlear implants and told me I could ask her any questions. She’s spent hours reassuring and teaching me. Thanks to Lori Yelensky who offered to spend the night after surgery and bring along her sweet dog. For another post about hearing loss, read My Friend Meniere: Standing Up to Disability. For another piece about my sweet Dad, you’ll enjoy Say Yes and Leave Your List at Home.

  1. Dear Elaine, Thank you for encouraging your “little one” to share her hidden fears with us. I especially loved reading about the strength and kindness of your father in the midst of his own suffering. Please know your family photos always bring a smile! I remember similar fear when facing an operation myself a few years ago (also) never having been anaesthetised since I was a girl. And yet, under I went and a dream followed that stays with me today …

    “I am walking down the street where I live. A small black girl (two years old) is in the arms of my elderly female neighbour. The little girl is crying, a lot! The neighbour says she found her out in the street, she must be lost and that she’d never seen her in these parts before. No, I tell her, she’s not lost, (I suddenly recognise the girl) she’s mine! I hadn’t seen her for a long time … perhaps the last time I went under? The little girl smiles beautifully, then I wake up.

    Following my first op I stayed in hospital for a week, unvisited. Thankfully I discovered books and toys and other children! I even remember reading a story to the boy in the bed next to me. After my second op, my partner was there as soon as I opened my eyes. It does feels like your post has gently nudged me into remembering my relationship with my own inner child. Hopefully more integration and healing will follow! Love and light, Deborah.

    • Dear Deborah, I appreciate your perceptive words and the way you see through. In writing about this coming surgery, I didn’t know my dad and those memories would show up in the first draft, but writing is full of surprises and therapeutic support from the unconscious. And now through recent dreams and other inner explorations, I know I can and must call on his calm patience and ability to withstand difficulties while appreciating life. Time for the tender protective animus.

      I LOVE your dream. I first saw my dream therapist months before Vic’s death (11 years ago!) after a dream of being given a dark-skinned baby girl who was starving to death. It was my job to feed her and keep her alive–and she was in bad shape. I reached for her with my mouth (not well received by the dream mother, but an unconscious nod to my inability to eat my way out of my fear of Vic’s death). I’ve been taking care of that little girl since, but sometimes I forget. I’ve worked with a dream therapist since. I also “incubated” a dream for the surgery and received two illuminating messages.

      Surgery is so different now. I stayed in the hospital a long time when I was 5. This time I won’t even stay the night which suits me fine. I’m glad if my story nudged you into remembering your inner child. Those little ones never go away. Thank you for your good wishes. May I hear again–not as I once heard for that’s not possible–but in a new way with more inner listening and more appreciation. Solstice is coming soon. I plan to share your poem next week a few places–assuming you don’t protest.

      • Oh, I smiled when reading you’d been given a dark-skinned girl to care for too … such dream synchronicity! Yes, may you hear again my dear friend, in new, rich ways. Elaine, I love your blog, for here always I’m taken to the heart of the matter. What an inspiration you are to us all! No protest re sharing my Winter Solstice poem, only deep gratitude! xx

        • I wrote a little about the dream in my book:
          “I dreamt I held an emaciated large-eyed young girl against the bare skin of my belly. The baby is a child of famine and I have to warm and protect her.
          …this starving girl startles me into finding psychological support. I make an appointment with …a Jungian therapist in Ithaca and set up a series of two hour sessions every other week. It takes a full hour to tell my stories and weep. We devote the second hour to dreams where Barbara helps me find patterns that bring meaning to the mess of my life.”

          I also painted this dream and will send you that image by email.

  2. Good luck with your surgery! You’ll be in my thoughts on February 5, and I hope it all goes well.

    I deal with fear by learning as much about what scares me as possible. If that doesn’t work, I watch funny, distracting movies on Netflix.

    • Thank you, Lydia. I appreciate your ideas and I’m smiling. I’ll have to go for distracting books because movies are beyond my very limited hearing in one ear. All inner and outer signs are that all will go well–and it felt important to bring my fearful girl into the light. I’m in the learning stage, reading about cochlear implants and asking questions to my doctors and the surgical nurses. Then there’s the fashion issues which makes me laugh. These are hardly a fashion statement, but they come in all colors and even in fanciful designs for children. Who gets to choose? Me! The four-year old? Probably not.

  3. You’ve got this, Elaine, and on February 5, we’ll be right there with you in spirit ♥

    • Thank you, Marty. I feel good about this and very grateful. I’m gathering a local and online team of support–and that feels so good. Blessings.

  4. I know how scary it can be when we await an operation Elaine, but this will be great. I just know it! Excited to hear about your new hearing. 😉

    • I feel less scared every day, Debby, and never paralyzed scared, but fear comes up–especially when I can watch a cochlear implant surgery on line. Oh, ouch! A month or so ago when my doctor said he would fight for me to get implant surgery (insurance companies have to be convinced), tears ran down my face. I said, “I don’t know if I’m ecstatically grateful or scared or both.” And he wept, too, so we were both laughing and wiping. So this surgery happens while I still have a little hearing left in my R ear to get me through the transition–and who doesn’t love a doctor/surgeon who cries with us? I’ve been his patient since I first started losing my hearing in 1995.

      • God bless Elaine. I just know it will all work out fine and then you can visit Mexico the following year to witness the butterflies. 🙂

        • I won’t ever have “normal” hearing, but I hope for reliable hearing and fewer physical symptoms. It’s been hard on everything and everyone I love. Mexico! You must be leaving soon. The good part is it’s relatively easy to get from Mexico City to the Biopreserve now. The sad part of my recent research is that no one, even scholarly researchers, has found information about pre-Hispanic beliefs about the Monarchs. They’re so spectacular in their wintering grounds that it seems likely they were important to people in that area, but there’s no evidence of that so far. Sometimes our research doesn’t take us where we hoped it would, but new doors always open.

  5. I love this Elaine. I am having shoulder surgery in January and my “little one” is scared, too. I know you’ll be fine and that I’ll be fine, too. I’m taking the holidays to spend extra time taking care of myself, both as an adult and as a child. I’ll be thinking of you as we both handle our fear.

    • Joan, if we keep talking to those scared parts and don’t abandon them, I know we’ll be fine. My dad was so good at that. He didn’t like being sick and had been sick most of his life and especially after returning from WWII, but he didn’t punish himself or hate himself for it. He took care of himself and also soldiered on. When is your surgery? I’ll put it on my calendar and remember to think of you that day. Maybe you’re written about it. I’ll explore. I hope it goes very well and you have plenty of support.

  6. Oh, Elaine, I am so glad you are going for the implant scary as it is and yes, I would be scared also. I have never had surgery so it would be all new and scary. I am glad you are saying that truth and I will be holding you in spirit while you are in surgery and healing afterwards. A big improvement is worth the fear. Easy for me to say, eh? You go, girl.

    • I have a good feeling about this, Mary. The more I let myself feel all the feelings involved, the better it seems. I’m grateful to have your holding. I think the hard part may be learning to hear again, but it’s not hard for everyone. It’s patient specific. The therapy after surgery? Listening and dealing with the discomfort of new sound and neurological impulses. I’m taking this therapy in two ways. It’s been hard for me to listen physically for almost 20 years and a huge struggle for 5 years, so there’s that outer listening. But also the psychologically listening to others and learning to hear again in that inner way. It’s thrilling to think of the possibilities.

      • I only have a tiny sense of all the re-learning that lies ahead for you. I have noticed as my own hearing gets worse that NOT wearing my hearing aids causes lots of trouble. I tend not to wear them at home and the TV is harder to decipher at a normal volume. I miss sounds. It is not just volume as you know. It is initial consonants and mushy words. My experience leads me to understand a bit of what lies ahead for you and I will be here all the way on this journey…the world will be so much easier to deal with once you get through the training. I believe when our ears do not work well, our vision tends to suffer psychologically. Make no logical sense but it is true. Your vision may even be enhanced post surgery. In any case…I AM here for you.

        • Thank you, Mary. If I’m around a TV without a hearing aid in, I experience silence or an occasional rumble or bang. With my R hearing aid, I can hear a human voice if there is little background noise. I also read lips. Yes, the consonants go first, so that creates confusion and brain scrambling. Was that stuff or fluff or muff or huff? So then I’m behind because the speaker is on to the next sentence. I hear slowly. The “training” is not technical. For an adult who had workable hearing most of her life, the training is mostly more listening. To leave my quiet world with no hearing aids and let sound in. I’ve worked hard not to become sound-adverse, but it’s natural when hearing is uncomfortable and exhausting. I imagine the implant sound will be uncomfortable, too, until I become acclimated. It’s hardest for people who live alone because they aren’t forced by their environment to hear, so it’s good I know that and can do something about it. This might be a good spring to get a puppy since I need to get out in more situations and a pup would need the same. Nothing about cognition works quite right because of hearing loss and essential drugs at low doses to control vertigo. My surgeon hopes much of the vertigo will disappear. We’ll see. Thank you for your kindness. I look forward to talking on Skype, phones, and all those other things I’ve avoided this year. We’ll talk–sometime in the spring. Sending love to you and Solstice Blessings.

  7. lovely Elaine…as you are too!
    much love,

    • Thank you, dear Lori. “I’ll be there…” I will let you know as I figure out how much I’ll need post-surgery. Anthony will stay at my house the night after surgery (and keep the wood stove loaded and heat the soup). My friend Matt offered to pick up Willow night before surgery and return her when I want him to bring her home. I’ll surely need at least a visit from you, but will be in touch the day after surgery (and before). I’m grateful for all the practical and heart help coming my way. The ducks are lining themselves up very early as if to reassure me this is the right thing.

  8. Elaine, this is a significant step, and how fantastic you have the support ready and waiting. I do believe that in these major life events, we are never brought all this way, only to be left adrift (although at times, I have wondered). I hope you received plenty of info on the available brand(s) of CI, too, to make an informed decision. My two sequential surgeries were vastly and hugely different experiences, and I think they were reflections of my own duality. The first one resulted in external effects like bruising and swelling, and so forth. The second, 2 years later, was all an internal affair in terms of post-op effects. It’s still lagging behind the first one, which is expected due to the 30+ years the ear went unaided (a mistake, they told me, but that was the thinking of the times; the hearing of that ear just atrophied). I find the duality amusingly fitting, because I am mainly right-brained and hear better out of the left ear, while my logical left brain has to make do with what the right ear can manage right now. I do wonder what I would be like if they had been reversed… or if it would even matter! The brain is astonishingly adept at adapting, as you will find out upon activation! 🙂

    • Thanks for your support. I planned to contact you. May I email you, Joe? I have your email address when you send a comment. My Audiologist recommended three brands and said, “Knowing you, I suggest you read about them–and then we’ll decide which one.” I’ve been a patient of the otolaryngologist and surgeon since 1995 and a patient of this Audiologist for about 10 years. They work as a team. Audiologist suggested Cochlear Americas, Advanced Bionics, or Med-El. Cochlear Americas has the best reliability rate and seems best for speech comprehension and works well with my iPhone with no streamer needed. (A FB friend with two of this type for 11 years is very enthusiastic about them, knows a lot, and shares good information–I’m so fortunate.) Her friend, a musician, has good results with Advanced Bionics which seems best for music. (My first concern is hearing speech.) I haven’t talked to anyone who has a Med-El. Going to the websites yields some information with lots of digging, but it’s heavily overlaid with annoying advertising which isn’t what I want. Give me the facts, please. This isn’t a fashion decision. It’s a living in the world without becoming a hermit decision.

      • Of course you may! I purposely left my comment neutral in terms of brand choices, but I did TONS of research beforehand and settled on the one I did for several reasons, which I can tell you elsewhere. Ultimately you have to go with your gut feeling, as with anything, since you’ll be joined to this device. I used both AB’s and Cochlear’s forums for reading and gathering info and asking people what they thought, before making my decision. And I have many stories about how I just “happened” to meet someone who was curious but had no access to the info to make a decision about even having the surgery, let alone choosing a brand!

        • Thank you, Joe. I’ll send an email this weekend telling you where I am in the process of self-education. My audiologist and I have already discussed possibilities and will make a final decision together, but he wants me to be informed and I want the same. He only recommends the three I mentioned: Cochlear Americas, Advanced Bionics, and Med-El. I’m so tired of photos at these websites of ecstatic people with cochlear implants (I suppose that’s why they’re ecstatic) that don’t show the ear piece or receiver. It’s a lot like looking at aging through the eyes of an AARP advertisement. With gratitude for your willingness to help, Elaine

        • Joe, did you get the email I sent to your hushmail.com account? If not, please send me a correct email address at elaine@elainemansfield dot com. Thank you.

  9. Exciting news Elaine! The 5th Feb is my late mother’s birthday, so I like the idea that that’s the day of your re-birth of hearing. It ‘sounds’ good that you’re having a compassionate dialogue with your inner child, the little one that was afraid, yet recalls the loving assurance of your father. This time round you have the loving and compassionate care of your sons and friends around you at home and around the world.

    All good wishes for the cochlear implant! Do let us know every step and sound of the way!

    • Susan, the good news keeps pouring in. My son who will drive me to surgery and stay as long as I need him once I’m home said February 5 is Chinese Lunar New Year, so auspicious beginnings. And you know me. I talked to my Jungian astrologer friend for that angle–all good–and incubated a dream about the surgery–even better. Oh, I’m sure I’ll be writing about this and the rebirth into the hearing world. It’s so patient specific that I don’t know what to expect, but I’ve yet to find anyone who hate their cochlear implant when they stick with it. The main therapy is listening, so that will be a big change in my world because I avoid the discomfort of listening. More socializing, movies, listening to TED talks, listening to Pema Chodron CDs again. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for being on my team. You could ask your husband if he prefers one type for speech comprehension and reliability–or not. He might prefer being retired.

  10. Beautiful piece as always. You taught me, as you have so many times, to support the little fellow who fears the stem cells will not work, and how to pray for success by opening doors to it instead of being fearful. I owe myself the best that I can give!

    • I’m cheering for you, Dennis. Robert Bly’s story made a big impression on me a long time ago. I haven’t been able to find it again. It might have been in one of the videos he did with Michael Mead and James Hillman, but main thing is to make the exercise my own, and I’m doing that.

  11. I look forward to your posts because I am rewarded with inspirational writing. You always sound so much like yourself. (Ha!)
    The title is perfect too. I enjoyed all the stories, especially of your dad: He was surely a prince.

    Your story illustrates the truth that help is never far away and right there when you need it. Even if it involves self-soothing.

    You asked what I do with irrational anxiety. Well, sometimes I give in to it, but then I look for comfort elsewhere as in Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

    I’m glad you have plans for human and doggie comfort after your surgery in February. You’ll be just fine. Until then, enjoy the season!

    • My dad was a sweetheart and incredibly patient with his unending illness which began when he was a child but became deadly when I was two. I put a photo of him at 42, two years before his death, on my altar next to Vic–the sweet supportive men in my life, along with my sons. I’ve waited five years to be deaf enough for a cochlear implant, even as it grew more stressful and difficult to hear. It’s amusing to celebrate going completely deaf in the ear that will have surgery. They did extensive testing for Medicare. Wow! It’s deaf! If all other sound is blocked, I can’t even tell that the odd static noise in that ear is a human voice much less understand one word. It’s time! I imagined you’d have a biblical verse for yourself–and for me. I love this quote from Joshua 1 and cherish it. Thank you. The more I let this new possibility in and the more I share it with others, the more relaxed and supported I feel. Everything is falling in place without having to ask–and I’m also learning to ask.

  12. Dear Elaine, I nearly forgot, have you read Neil Ansell’s “The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence” … a hauntingly beautiful (sublime prose!) memoir on nature and hearing loss, I think you’d love it! It’s been shortlisted for many prizes here in the UK.

  13. I have marked Feb. 5 in my calendar for you and your little one, Elaine.

    I hope you will not only come through the surgery well but that your life will be blessed by the song of joy.

    • Thank you. I appreciate your loving support. I hope for the joy of song, too, Shirley. As a practical woman, I keep expectations low and let this unfold as it well doing all I can for inner and outer support, understanding it will be a big transition and require a new way of listening. As a hopeful woman and child, I’m already singing with joy.

  14. O Elaine, I keep seeing the image of you waking up to your eyes being bandaged and your hands tied to the bed. How terribly frightening for a small child. Fortunately you have the memory of surgery working to heal. That helps.

    What do I do to deal with irrational anxiety or fears? A few different tools come to mind.
    – I go to my breath. Slow it down. Relax. I think of how ephemeral thoughts are and how in a second I can feel differently. How in any moment I can check in with myself and find I am ok now. The future is not here and right now, I am fine. Stay present, I tell myself.
    – I go outside and find a flower or leaf. I observe it, see how quiet it is in itself, how it is not psychologizing life and how it simply grows, slowly, steadily. It is not worried about all the things flying around in my head. I let myself feel that ease, that life energy without the chaos of my worries.
    – I go to the beach and close my eyes. I let the sounds of the waves wash through me. I become transparent and am nothing but the white sound of the surf.
    – I look at a blue sky. I let my mind be like that.
    – I go directly at it. I investigate and try to understand the anxiety’s make up. Where did it arise from? Who is having it? If I have the clarity and energy to do this, it usually dissolves as I look closely. It is a thought, like a cloud in the sky. I also know that with just a bit of time I will feel differently. We can always rely on change.
    Perhaps I will try naming it next time and holding its hand. I will comfort it. I love your compassion.

    • Yes, yes, yes, and yes again. I go to the forest and find beauty–a little green moss beneath the snow or a red berry or a cardinal. Or down at the lake where there is no snow along the shore and the water is always spectacular and full of life. I always check around for a singing stone I might send to you (still looking). Blue skies and clear nights are scarce here, but there is peace in the snow on my hill. A good philosophic and spiritual question: who is having that fear? I write from those unconscious images as you know, and did not have my dad in mind when I decided to write about coming surgery. But there he was in the first draft and, for me, the most moving and comforting part of the piece.

      I have good fortune. Cochlear implants are much better in recent times. I have lots of hope and realistic expectations for my bionic ear. As we know, a little comfort and compassion always helps. I tend to be harsh and scolding with what I perceive as weaknesses, so trying my dad’s approach. His loving energy lives in me, too.

  15. Feb 5. On my calendar. I shall hold you tightly in my thoughts. I’m pleased to read of your ongoing relationship with your inner child, that small frightened 4-year old. She’s in good hands now, I can tell. My inner child and I have been writing to each other since 1991. We started when she was about two and wrote daily for about four years when I realized she had become a young teenager. These days I write to her whenever I feel some reaction of mine has been out of proportion to the situation.

    I appreciated learning about your dad. I can’t but think how proud he would have been to know how important he was in your life and to see the wonderful woman you’ve become.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts, Janet. You’ve had a long deep working relationship with your inner child. I did my first inner child work in the 1960s when I was in my 20s and doing encounter groups. There she was, demanding I recognize and tend her. Marion Woodman was an incredible help. A dream about a starving baby girl I had to hold and nurture made me understand I needed support when my husband was dying, so 4 months before his death, I began doing dream work. Those little ones–both female and male–show up fairly often in my dreams, especially when I was in deep grief. I still have a hard time making peace with my vulnerability, so they have to show up again to remind me. I know they’re all personifications of parts of me, some supportive and some needy. My dad was always proud of me. He didn’t complain about being sick, but he made it clear he was heartbroken to leave his family. I’m sorry he died before I could get to know him as an adult, but the memories of him are sweet.

  16. This is so beautiful. February 5th. Got it. I’ll be there with you in spirit. I look forward to hearing what you dream about this time! Holiday blessings and love, Jeanie

    • Thank you, Jeanie. Robbie Bosnak was just in town giving his annual dream workshop. I can’t hear well enough (I’m scary deaf now) to attend the workshop, but friends stayed with me. He led them through a dream incubation in that workshop and before sleeping at my house that night, they shared it with me. I incubated a dream about the surgery and received two illuminating dreams which I explored with my dream therapist a few days later. Maybe I’ll write about them, but I’m still unpacking. One referred to the surgery (a clean cut) and the other was about the need for self-love as I go through this. Blessed Solstice to you and yours.

  17. Elaine,
    I often wait for a bit to respond to your posts because part of the inspiration for me is also reading the dialogue you have with your online community. This post of yours went straight to my heart as you wrote about both the tender and fierce way you are tending to your inner four-year-old. I was also moved by the way that both your father and your doctor could/can take care of you with such strength and compassion.

    I have been communicating with my inner child/children for many years, though never with such attention as since I have been living with a chronic illness. The illness has revealed to me, at an even deeper level, how much I reject the vulnerable parts of myself. My inner child sometimes shows up in dreams as a starving infant and also appears as a very angry young boy who is starved for attention. I believe, as you wrote, “if we keep talking to those scared parts and don’t abandon them, we’ll be fine.” Still there are the moments of intense fear, and it always helps to remember Rilke’s lines:
    Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
    Just keep going. No feeling is final.

    I love the humor that so often finds its way into your writing. The thought of the four-year-old getting to pick out the “fashion design” for the implants had me laughing. Though she may not get a say in that, I’m pretty sure she is going to weigh in heavily on whether to get a puppy come spring!

    May the good news and support keep pouring in for you, Elaine.

    • Thank you, Anne. I love your reflections. I had to think back when responding to other comments to remember my first experience with consciously knowing I had an abandoned little girl within who was raising hell to get my attention. I needed to care for her. It took a long time to realize that. She first showed up consciously in the late 1960s when I was doing encounter groups in California. I’d also begun studying Jung and done some Gestalt work by then, so I had some rough tools for working with the revelations. Later, she and I had many conversations in Active Imagination. I understand when you mention the rejection of vulnerability. I plead guilty. “I’ll do it myself!!” she says with a pout. And she can’t.

      I hadn’t thought about my dad much recently or about that scared little girl, but when writing about surgery they both showed up on the page. I think about you and your constant need to face vulnerability and illness. I didn’t know what that was like until Meniere’s Disease came to stay. By the way, I chose a silver model to go with my hair, not the little kid models which they don’t make in adult sizes. Now I’ll have to figure out how to decorate with a flower or a butterfly pin. The puppy idea is still on the table. I could socialize myself and a puppy at the same time, but I don’t have to decide yet. I’ll just play with the idea this winter.

      I love those Rilke lines. More than any other poet, he got me through my husband’s dying days and the grief that followed. Thanks again and Blessed Solstice.

  18. I love this post. Robert Bly’s lessons resonated with me. We should embrace our fears. Maybe, even as a way of embracing and building our confidence.
    As I read along, I thought of Psychoanalysis… and how, according to it, our fears and repressed desires might try to manifest themselves, against all odds. Accepting our weaknesses and fears can surely make us stronger… or help us cope with undesirable circumstances in better ways.
    I wish you luck with the surgery, dear Elaine. Everything will be fine!.
    Happy holidays to you and yours. Love and best wishes ❤️

    • I agree, Aquileana. I’ll be fine and life will be easier with bionic hearing. I’ve interacted with many who have cochlear implants and can’t find anyone who hates the change. I have plenty of support for the vulnerable moments, but most people go through the surgery easily. The harder and slower part is retraining the brain to interpret new signals.

      It was powerful to incubate a dream about the surgery–and to receive two helpful dreams I could work with my Jungian dream therapist. More support from the unconscious realms and a sense that this is a good move and I need to focus on self-cherishing and love. Dreams have always been a way for the inner realms to contact and teach me. I have more lessons to learn about vulnerability and allowing others to support me. Sometimes my desire for independence blocks offered gifts, so I’ll be aware of that.

      I have a vague intuition that you are working on a big project these days. Mythology? A book? A degree? I don’t know, but I imagine this is so. Your articles are all teaching pieces and I cherish the wisdom and images. If you’re still in the Southern Hemisphere, you have Summer Solstice and long days. Either way, Blessed Solstice to you.

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