necessary loss

All of our loss experiences hark back to "original loss," the loss of that ultimate mother-child connection. For before we begin to encounter the inevitable separations of everyday life, we live in a state of oneness with our mother.  This ideal state, this state of boundarylessness, this I-am-you-are-me-is-she-is-we, this "harmonious interpenetrating mix-up," this floating "I'm in the milk and the milk's in me," this chillproof insulation from aloneness and intimations of mortality: This is a condition known to lovers, saints, psychotics, druggies and infants.  It is called bliss.

Our original bliss connection is the umbilical connection, the biological oneness of the womb. Outside the womb we experience the gratifying delusion that we and our mother share a common boundary. Our lifelong yearning for union, so some psychoanalysts say, originates in our yearning to return--to return, if not to the womb, then to this state of illusory union called symbiosis, a state "for which deep down in the original primal unconscious... every human being strives."

We have no conscious memories of being there--- or leaving. But once it was ours, and we had to let it go. And while the cruel game of giving up what we love in order to grow must be replayed  at each new stage of development, this is our first, perhaps hardest, renunciation.

The losing, leaving, letting go of paradise.

And although we do not remember it, we also never forget it. We acknowledge a paradise and a paradise lost. We acknowledge a time of harmony, wholeness, unbreachable safety, unconditional love, and a time when that wholeness was irretrievably rent.  We acknowledge  it in religion and myth and fairy tales and our conscious and unconscious fantasies. We acknowledge it as reality or as dream. And while we fiercely protect the boundaries of self that clearly demark the you from the me, we also yearn to recapture the lost paradise of that ultimate connection.

Our pursuit of this connection--- of the restoration of oneness-- may be an act of sickness or of health, may be a fearful retreat from the world or an effort to expand it may be deliberate or unaware.  Through sex, through religion, through nature, through art, through drugs, through meditation, even through jogging, we try to blur the boundaries that divide us. We try to escape the imprisonment of separateness.  We sometimes succeed.

Yet the yearning to restore the bliss of mother-child oneness-- that ultimate connection-- is never relinquished. All of us live, at some unconscious level, as if we had been rendered incomplete.  Through the rupture of primary unity is a necessary loss, it remains "an incurable wound which afflicts the destiny of the whole human race."  And speaking to us through the dreams that we dream and the tales that we create, images of reunion persist and persist, and persist and persist-- and bracket our life. 

-judith viorst


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  2. motherchild. i miss hanging out with my mommy all day long, you know