Part of my journey towards readying myself for a new relationship is making peace with the past. I’ve got a book, blog posts and hundreds of hours of therapy that tell me I’m healed, but there’s one more layer I’ve yet to unravel. To me, ‘making peace’ means looking at every aspect of my previous relationships to really understand the lessons and gifts of my time spent with each person. At a friend’s suggestion — and not one to do things by halves — I’ve been reading up on the shamanic process of recapitulation. This article has been particularly enlightening:
“Recapitulation, and in particular Shamanic recapitulation (as popularized by Carlos Castaneda‘s books), is the art of excavating through our past storyline chapters, locating the emotional imprints and releasing the charges. The process, like most things we engage with in our lives, rewires our very brains and establishes new neural pathways. Once done a few times, it is possible to be re-framing our experiences in a continual (moment, daily, weekly) fashion so that we don’t lug so damn much baggage around.”
Using a combination of journalling, meditation and talking with my therapist I’m slowly working my way back through the years. Some recollections are easier to work through than others. Last week I began reading the journals that chronicle my relationship with my love. One of the benefits of being such a compulsive journaller is I have everything written down in the most astounding detail: conversations, feelings, events, realisations, turning points, printed-out emails… it’s all recorded in a big pile of Moleskines. In all these years I’ve never sat down and read it through from beginning to end. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had, I’ll be honest, but I’m joining up the dots and learning so much about who I was back then. Who WE were. The frustrations and love…. All of it.
Next will come a whole 10-year relationship to piece back together — I have a box full of journals and photographs for that one. Then the shorter connections of my early twenties and teens, leading back to the relationship at the root of all of this: the one with my absent father.
There are days when I wish I wasn’t such a navel gazer, but it’s the only way I know how to be. I want to know what makes me tick so I can feel deeper, live wider, love better — the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates boldly put it. In many ways I’m making up for all the wilfully unconscious times in my life when I plunged into situations and relationships without considering the consequences. Now it’s different. Now I’m different.
I’ve honestly never felt more awake, or alive, in my life.