Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ain't no Cure for the Summertime Blues

The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. ~Virginia Woolf~
I used to love Summertime when I was little. The feeling of the hot pavement smarting my feet, walking by houses in the early morning smelling the sweet and fresh perfume of new cut grass, and the freedom of not having to do any homework and playing outside until the sun stayed awake later than usual. That all changed for me when I was eleven years old.

My older brothers, every Summer went to a sleep away camp,
 in this gorgeous area of the local mountains, where they rode horses, had a dance every Saturday night with a vintage jukebox where songs like "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" were played over and over. They formed crushes on girls, that were bittersweet when their time at camp came to an end. I envied them for all the fun they had, but I always went to a day time summer camp that went to the beach every day and I would swim in the ocean pretending I was a mermaid.

On the summer when I turned eleven, it was my turn to go to Calamigos. My brothers were six and eight years older than me, so their time at camp was over, they had moved on. I was terrified at first at the thought of sleeping away from home and being away from my pets, (notice I didn't say my parents), but I had no choice. I ended up having the best time and not wanting to come home. I too, formed my own crushes and loved having the reputation of being Eric and Tony's little sister to the counselors who knew them. I rode horses until I was so sore, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. Camp became my new paradise. There was a parent's visiting day for the campers each summer session and my parents would always show up first for my brother's than it was my turn to see them. The visit was fun as I showed them around the camp even though they had seen it so many times between my brother's parents day and now me.

On the day that I came home, I was overwhelmed with this sadness that I had to say goodbye to my new family, I had made at camp. In the car going home, the first thing my mother said to me, after she briefly asked me how I enjoyed camp, was "You know how sometimes parents don't get along, like Gina's parents?" Gina was a a girl I went to school with who's parents were going through a "separation" which eventually lead to divorce. Back then, divorce wasn't as common as it is now and we were all shocked at the thought of a marriage breaking up. "The Brady Bunch" or the "The Partridge Family" may have been the ideal model of a blended family, but I knew those were just television shows and no way would that ever happen to my family.

My heart started hurting, my heart started racing so hard and I became immediately nauseous because I just knew what my mom was going to say next. "Well, your father and I haven't gotten along for a long time and he's moved out of the house." Just like that! Like many families, we were a family of secrets and never spoke about things that were unpleasant or disturbing. We looked like the ideal happy family from the outside with the desired two boys and a girl, dogs and cats and a literal white picket fence surrounding our front yard.

I came home and everything that was familiar and comforting was gone. I had stepped into a new book, where I didn't know any of the characters and I was lost like Alice. My family would never be all together in the same room or event. What a nightmare. It was after that, I never trusted Summertime again as being idyllic. It's interesting how trauma lays deep within our psyche and body, just waiting for the right trigger and jump out at us like a Jack in the Box even though intellectually we think we may be prepared.

Why I'm talking about this, is because Litha/Summer Solstice just happened and every year it fills me with the same dread of remembering that Summer. I've worked through a lot of the emotional issues through therapy, journaling, group counseling etc...but I never can quite end the pain. Summer is pushed by the popular media as being the time to go out there, have some fun, go on vacation and act like there's no tomorrow. And I have had many fun Summers since I was eleven. I wonder though if people really knew the lore and mythology of the Oak King and the Holly King fighting over the love of the Goddess, would they be all smiling shiny-happy people? Our ancestors knew that soon it would be time, to gather the harvest and prepare for the Fall and Winter when food would be more scarce and the light of day would be filled with a darkness. Imagine the energy of the Oak King, being like Robin Hood, the Green Man. Full of youthful energy, virile, strong and gleaming.

Then there's the Holly King, Saturn-like, older, wise, more stern and melancholy. We have this picture of the Holly King today as being more like Santa Claus than when he first arrived on the scene. But, it defeats the purpose of denying what he really stands for symbolically and externally. Mary on her blog "Avalon Revisited" wrote a wonderful post about the Holly and the Oak king that I urge you to check out so you can learn more about who they are and their story.

I've learned to accept the duality of myself with the youthful Oak King and how he serves to teach me of how joyful Summer can be despite the past. If I don't honor him, I stay stuck in sorrow and pain. And then the Oak King reminds me, that we must all descend into our own darkness for insight and wisdom. The trick is to live in the present, knowing that the cycle of life has to include a death for rebirth. The Holly King in the image above tenderly holds the new baby, the Oak King when he hasn't grown old enough to engage in battle for the Goddess. Our feminine energy that loves both and is receptive to the offerings they bring her.

I need to find some type of ritual to "hold the tensions of the opposites" as the great Dr. Carl Jung said. Do any of you have ideas about how I can do this? A ritual for letting go and still remaining open to the joy that can happen? I don't want to stay stuck in the past unable to move forward because of sorrow. I would really appreciate hearing your experiences and possible ideas for me. Thank you.

When the heart grieves for what is lost, the spirit rejoices over what is left" ~~ Sufi Epigram


Anonymous said...

May I recommend the EFT strategy to you? The technique is a bit complicated to learn, but can be used for many issues. In this case, your "intention-setting" statement might be, "Even though I have this sadness around summer, I still love and appreciate myself." EFT is great, because it helps i>right now<i with the symptoms, and actually seems to start the internal work of processing the past.
Best wishes on resolving this for yourself.

Not Hannah said...

As I wrote on a Divining Women post today, I don't embrace the idea of the Holly/Oak kings, but I think it's so powerful that you see the symbolism of them so clearly. Perhaps you might be able to fashion some sort ritual or charm around them? Maybe sew an acorn and a holly berry inside a bag that you can keep somewhere near you? Or perhaps, if that's your thing, you might be able to fashion a wand or staff out of the two woods and use it for balancing work?

Oddly, when you asked for help, I immediately envisioned a lit candle in a dark room, sitting in front of a bowl of water. I'm not sure what that means, but perhaps you could use two "opposite" Elements in your Work?

Moonwolf said...

One way that I purge negative things from my past is to write them on a piece of paper and then burn them -- visualizing that thing being consumed by the flame and being carried away on the wind. A simple technique, but it frequently works very well for me.

Witch of Stitches said...

I use the same technique as Moonwolf - simple, yes, but extremely effective. Sometimes it has to be repeated for a while. Keep at it. Also, get an apache tear if you can - just a little one will do and carry it. It is very helpful for grief - which is what you are going through - still, after these many years. Ask the spirit of the stone to help you process and release the grief and move on.

Wendy said...

Vienne, thank you for your suggestion for EFT. I investigated it a little more and ordered a book on it, because it sounds so interesting and could prove to be really helpful.

Not Hannah, love the idea of somehow putting a holly berry and an oak leaf together. Almost like a medicine bag I thought. So, I'm on the hunt for some charms that I can wear in my bag all the time. Thank you!

MoonWolf! great ritual. I'm going to wait for the moon to wane and then burn away. I have a fireplace so in the meantime, I'm starting to write down what I want to let go and you've also given me a great idea for a blog post. Thank you!

Witches of Stitches (love the name btw) it's funny how I used to program crystals and gems all the time and haven't done so in a long time. I'm going to get an apache stone and put it in my bag with the holly and oak leaf charm. Thank you so much.

All of you, you've given such great advice, wisdom and empathy. It's very, very appreciated!

The Depressed Reader said...

Hi Wendy,
I've just read this post for the first time, thanks for writing it. While my own parents separation/divorce was not exactly the same as yours, there is a lot I can relate to.

My family also tends not to talk openly about things, and seems to prefer pushing things under the surface where they can fester until they can't be concealed anymore. We still do that now, but it was even worse in the past, when my brother and I were given "the news" at the kitchen table one day. That was not such a nice surprise.


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