Thoughts about loss and the pains of growing up | depression | Blog

What are the pains of growing up and the losses that we suffer throughout that process?

What would it be to carry the emotional scars of the past and grow up in spite of them? It is so often a sense of stuckness, "treading water" or haitus that brings a person into therapy. A sense of repeating something painful that might be reminiscent of past emotional turbulence. From a psychoanalytic perspective, the way we engage with the world of relationships (in all our defensiveness), might involve unconsciously gravitating towards that which we (most) fear: attempting to avoid somthing and ending up there all the same. "Free me, but I don't want to be free" is a mantra that encompasses so many contradictions: the not entirely wanting to be free in one's inner world, the circular fantasies and obsessive ruminating that both paralyses and engulfs the sufferer. Also, obsessing about the lost love object (person), recreating in one's mind the feeling of being loved (sometimes a trance-like state of obsessive thinking and yearning), are both self-denying and painful ways of clinging on.. "I want you, I want you". So loss, in this context, beyond physical separation from a loved one, is about the loss of the fantasy, giving something up in one's inner world; and freedom always entails relinquishing something. Pop psychology has appropriated the enigmatic concept of "letting go", but what might this involve? It might encompass the possibility of preserving that which mattered about the relationship, rather than rubbishing it, now it's over. What was significant about the relationship can be safeguarded and internalised so that you can still move forward. A significant relationship can remain as part of one's identity: loss does not have to mean cutting clean away. Most importantly, in therapy, the focus becomes creating some distance between the pain and the sufferer. The theme of loss (and separation) often brings a person to therapy, as well as painful and frustrated attempts to retrieve the self and move forward; this is an underlying motif of clinical depression.