Sunday, July 13, 2008

The sense of separation

Even deeper than your stories — some would say the soil in which the stories grow — lies a feeling of being cut off or separate from life or being itself. Although the meditative traditions teach that separation is actually an illusion and we’re inextricably connected to one another, the sense of being separate runs deep indeed. Often it dates back to early childhood experiences, when you were forced by circumstances to separate prematurely from your mother or some other nurturing figure. Sometimes it can be traced to the birth trauma itself, when you had to exchange your placental paradise for a colder, harsher reality. (Or maybe, as some traditions contend, it comes packaged with the embryonic hardware.)
Whatever its origins, this feeling of separation may give rise to a kind of primordial fear: If I’m separate, then I must end at my skin, and everything out there must be other. Because these others are often bigger than I am and I have only the most limited control over their actions, my survival must be at stake — and I need to protect myself at all costs. Life scripts evolve as strategies for surviving in a world of apparent separation, in which others are perceived as potentially unfriendly, withholding, demanding, or rejecting.

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