Welcome To This World My Child…

The first session of our DARe training offered me a beautiful experience about my early lack of connecting. Patti Elledge, the skilled teacher, showed a brief slide show in which young children and infants were bonding to their parents or to pets, and even animals to animals, indicating that such connecting was in our DNA. It was a moving slide show for me, revealing the beauty of bonding.  I could take this in.

At the end of the evening we did a powerful exercise. In a meditative state each of us was to choose a person, animal, or situation that brought us into a bonding state. This was to be a person with whom we could be totally ourselves, unguarded, undefended, and open. A person whose energy was welcoming, with whom we felt at a heart level, “Gary, I am so glad you are here.” A person with whom we felt a true love connection, a silent non-verbal eye-to-eye connection.

As I entered the experience I realized that I had no such connection that I could remember in my entire life. Could this be true? It seemed like bonding 101, yet I could not say that this had been a felt experience for me.

I remembered a leader at a Pathwork workshop six or seven years ago coming up to me and asking urgently, “Gary, can you feel even a fraction of the love I feel for you?” I’ll never forget my answer, “No.” And I really thought that was my honest truth. I could not recall such a time in childhood or in my adult life. And not even with Pat. This brings up fear in me, and sadness.

I recalled some of Pat’s and my couples’ sessions with Sage and Anthony, our couples counselors. They describe us as the frightened little bunnies cowered and shaking in the corner of our cage. Perhaps they were helping us to realize this state of “not connecting” in us. They have often said that neither of us had someone in our lives who truly welcomed us into this world as the unique beings each of us is.

And I could consider that on some very deep level I was actually blocking such an intimate connection and defending against it, even if it were offered —  a deep negative intentionality, my existential “No!” to love and to bonding. This was a bit shocking and scary, but seemed to be my truth.

After the brief meditation we were invited to share with another in the class, one-on-one, our experience in the exercise. How did we feel in our bodies as we remembered such glowing experiences of bonding? Was there warmth? What did we feel behind our eyes? And we were to do this one-to-one sharing with four or five other people. Amazingly I had no problem with this sharing. Others would share very special times in their lives where these bonding feelings had arisen, often with a pet, a mate, or another person. I would freely share my lack of such memories. I would say it was like a blind man being in a group of sighted people. If the assignment were to share what the experience of seeing was like, what could the blind man say? Only that he did not know of such an experience. So it was with me in regards to intimate bonding. And I was blocking my sadness, sharing without affect, because I did not really know what I had missed in this absence of deep emotional intimacy.

I am reminded of a song, “Welcome to this World my Child, Welcome to this World,” that was so meaningful for me when my granddaughter was born. Synchronistically, as if by Divine intervention or arrangement, the morning her mother was going into labor I put, with no knowledge whatsoever of what I was about to hear, a tape into my car’s tape player and pushed the play button. Strangely, a baby’s crying was on the recording before the music, and then this “Welcome to this world, my child”  song was sung. I had never heard the song before. Tears flooded my eyes as I drove out of my neighborhood on the way to work. I wrote this experience up the next day, shared it with my wife, and then recently gave it to my granddaughter on her sixteenth birthday, complete with a copy of the song that I downloaded from iTunes. My granddaughter’s response? It seemed to have been goofy to her, “What was grandpa doing here?” I just had to smile, but my smile covered my sadness at her not “getting” this “romantic” gesture. But then again she was 16! Paradoxically this very experience that brings out the romantic in me, sits alongside the claim and inner belief on some level that I have a stake in claiming I am not bonding, connecting, or loving much less a “romantic.”

Back to my experience last night at the first session of the DARe workshop. Before the “welcoming” exercise each of us in the workshop introduced himself (yes, there were three of us men here) or herself. I introduced myself as the retired person who was going back to kindergarten to pick up on connecting experiences he had missed his entire life. This feels correct on levels beyond my consciousness. I am confident that I should be here in this workshop for this experience. And I am a bit terrified, recognizing how defended I am against bonding. What is my terror about? What will happen as I enter this new space? This could be a powerful experience these next three days. We’ll see.

Shared in love, Gary