We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this - through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs or medication - we build these walls stone by stone, over a lifetime. One of the most difficult problems is to construct these barriers of such a height and strength that one has a true harbour, a sanctuary away from crippling turmoil and pain, but yet low enough and permeable enough, to let in fresh seawater that will fend off the inevitable inclination towards brackishness.
(p214-5. An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison.)
Sea walls, slowly constructed to guide and protect. The image is starting thought-streams, since I read An Unquiet Mind, this week. It's a memoir of having bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) written by a professor of psychiatry. (worth reading, too).
Guiding and protecting structures are part of shaping a family or community. As parents we face the same tension, that Jamison describes internally.
Building walls that provide a 'safe harbour' for our children, without stagnation or suffocation.
I want the walls to be high, the protection absolute. I fight my anxiety to allow the sea to flow with some freedom through our family. But I need to bite back my fear, because this flow brings growth and developing independence. It's ironic that an experiential learner like me, struggles to see our children learn through grazed knees, bruised hearts and mistaken ideas. I forget the triumph of succeeding in a new endeavour - pure gold to developing souls.
linked to reflections on parenting at holy experience