OK. FUD is one thread running through this journey, though I think and hope it’s counterbalanced by others that are about celebration of (still) being alive, of experiences, emotions, sharing. There are two layers to FUD: one is the general structural one that is not particularly about now, about stopping clinical work, nor about taking that moment, that turning point in my work track, to look at how I have dealt with some of the more problematical, the more struturally undermining, bit of FUD in me by working clinically; the other is the quite specific one about how to move onward without, say, just using academic work to bodge the same anxieties.
Three ‘photos from last night, thee shots of the east end of Santa Maria, one of the three chapels in Rabanal del Camino.
OK. That’s south, a bit further round looking at the east end proper, and beyond that, the mirror of the south side. Two thin, and battered but to me truly lovely, decorative pillars. (Or are they pillasters as they’re so much decorative rather than structural? Must check!) Then in the middle, I’m sure later, much more crude, a buttress. I assume there were anxieties, with or without good evidence, that the end of the apse needed shoring up. The buttress is quite the least connected I think I’ve ever seen. However, it would have brought quite a weight to bear on the wall if those stones were laid so as to lean against it, for all there seems to have been no attempt to bond them into the wall.
Clinically, I think we’re all a bit like that: we have all manner of things shoring ourselves up, or just decoratively helping the structural look to others. This isn’t about “defences” and certainly not about “healthy” versus “unhealthy” defences, it’s just that we all need and have structural features and one thing then address is FUD, both FUDs that we’re conscious of, and ones that we aren’t and can’t be, the truly psychoanalytically unconscious ones. We also have ones that only work (or only fail and waste huge resources and energy) because they, like that buttress, are part of the vital issue about being human: not standing alone but on and with others, leaning on each other, been seen and being leant upon.
I didn’t go into that church as it’s attached to a small monastery that offers free accommodation to any pilgrim who asks and also offers free consultation and short retreats and, when I opened the door, there was clearly a service going on and I quickly glimpsed a diverse collection of people in casual clothes standing and clearly focused on someone or something in the East end. A young man beckoned me in in a very friendly way, but I shook my head, smiled, and closed the door quietly and walked on … to thse three ‘photos (I’d already admired the first pillar/pillaster from the north!)
I don’t think there was anything very wrong with dealing with some Doubts about myself by working hard clinically. I think I became quite good at it, given another 32 years I’d really have been getting somewhere! I had improved and good I sometimes did largely by youthful enthusiasm I think got replaced by wiser, calmer ways and, though nothing was ever certain, I think that meant I was getting better at helping a wider range of people and problems, better at helping more structurally, better at helping people help themselves and, on a good day, I think really quite helpful to colleagues. I’ve done quite a bit of leaving clinical service in the last four years and had some lovely thanks and don’t think alll were just people being nice. One person said I’d helped when s/he really thought s/he was going mad and enabled work with a client with who had been a struggle to help to move on safely. I can’t imagine a much better thank you message and was deeply moved, and this, belatedly, is probably a bit of starting to think how to process that and return the thanks. (I’m becoming a firm believer that some things really can’t be rushed and take years.) I am going to miss all that like missing a limb I suspect when I have less to distract me and when my continuing academic and research work will take me back much nearer that work.
Anyway, I do want to move on. If there were a Garmin (heavens forbid!) for these life travelling tracks we have, in which “retirement” or just stopping something, is a big turning point, then I’d like it if the forward tracks were sort of successfully onward, upward or with exciting, fast, completely in control downhill tracks. Dropping that rather mechanical image, I’d like it if the onward track had new experiences, new pleasures and new ways of sharing those. This blog is a bit of a taster for that I guess.
OK. This is getting long. I’ve got a lot bubbling up nicely about making useful distinctions between F, U and D; about conscious and unconscious (Cs and Ucs in the terminology of psychoanalytic thinking that may crop up a bit from here onwards); and about locations and connections: who, what, how, why, where is Fearing or Doubting, who, what …? What Uncertainties, how uncertain are they? How scary because uncertain or uncertain because scary? (And therefore perhaps not looked at properly?)
More than enough for one post though. A bit more of that beautiful little church/chapel to finish. This is how I first approached it walking up the main street of Rabanal.
The West end bell tower catching the by then rapidly dropping sun.
The south side.
And this man (you can see him in the ‘photo above, just).
“A monument to Julian Campo, born in Rabanal del Camino on 15th May 1956
who was killed in the fatal train crash in Villada of the intercity train Vigo/A Coruna/Irun.
Campo spent much of his life helping the poor of Calcutta” which I think is a translation of the plaque, at least, it squares with my guesswork Spanish reading. Taken from http://www.tumbarumba.co.uk/PILGRIM%20WALKS/Camino%202014%20Part%202/Day%203%20Rabanal.htm with thanks. That has better ‘photos of Rabanal and another personal take on it. He was less than a year older than me so would have been 60 now. I thought it was a superb sculpture and in tone with the work of the little monastery there (staffed by Beneditines from Bavaria).
Enough for now.