‘Waiting’ is a song that’s been in my head for weeks. It’s about longing for a lost love, but for me it’s had a different meaning than simply missing someone.
In my own journey I’ve had to build connections to my inner self, to learn how to care for my vulnerability. This is sometimes called re-parenting, in which we develop the capacity in the adult self to gather in, care for and love the infant parts. It’s one of the most important fundamentals in healing the psyche. No-one who has not experienced this can understand its simple power.
This morning at my regular dance class the song came on, and as I moved with the music I knew I’d been neglecting this work. Although we long for love in relationship, by joining ourselves to another we can also abandon ourselves. My inner trust with myself had been worn away over several months. Just as the love for the child in the heart can be nurtured and built up, so it can be shattered. And without it, I felt estranged, lost, empty of meaning. When things become grey and flat, something is wrong. This is not the healthy state of the soul.
It’s a strange paradox that, as Wordsworth wrote, “The Child is father of the Man”:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Although it seems to some that the infant parts of the self are burdensome in their need for love, in truth the adult parts exist largely to serve to the child, the well-spring of joy and life. If we neglect our fragility, our vulnerability and our brokenness, we can be strong and independent adults, yet lost in a place of grey uniformity. Wordsworth’s “natural piety” is just this bond of trust within the self, on which healthy relationships to others are built.
Waiting, as the song says, is sometimes the only way. We cannot force healing to take place. My dance became a prayer of grief for a lost child, and as I moved with and through this pain it seemed as though something rejoined in me. And little by little, I felt more whole again.