ON PAYSON’S COMMENT ON MY LAST POST, MY HYPOCHONDRIA, AND WHAT IS MOST VALUABLE IN A MATE


Payson’s comment on my last post, his expression on ‘crying wolf,’ is both sobering and enlightening. I have always laughed a bit at my mother for her having said a million billion times that she is dying. Every time I leave, she says, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to meet again.’ Over the phone, too, she says, many times, ‘come, I’m dying.’ Though I laugh at her in retrospect, and sometimes lag in rushing down the mountain to meet with her, I also truly believe her each time. After all, she is almost 94, and the clock is ticking.

Payson’s comment opened my eyes to how blind I am. I see it in my mother but not in myself. This blindness is what the psychologists call ‘projection.’ We do not see ourselves, literally, and metaphorically. We need mirrors to reflect ourselves to ourselves. And this is where a mate or a friend that tells us the truth about ourselves, about how we are perceived, objectively, becomes extremely important. They often invite our displeasure when they do so because of our essential barriers to criticism from others. I call this barrier essential because often it helps us to survive by making us think we are right, and good. But when we become righteous and think we can do no wrong, the barrier keeps us from self-awareness, and can become destructive to our souls. This is where people who hold up mirrors to us become not only important but essential.

I am probably going to keep saying — though hopefully not as often as before! — that I am dying. I have inherited this hypochondria from both my parents. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I am in a very difficult and tight spot, in a situation over which I have no control, when I say it. It is a cry for help. It is a cry for love — come be with me! Hold me! Touch me! Reassure me that I am not alone!

Ultimately, of course, we are alone. There’s no getting around this. We go through the most difficult of all our experiences — birth, ill-health, dire circumstances, death — alone. It is important to remember and live this knowledge. But in between, and in the cracks, when aloneness can be mitigated a bit, it is okay to cry out: ‘I’m dying!’

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