New Beginnings Therapy
Dr. Madalina A. I. Day
Summers in Wales and the Irish Sea
On the 5th of April 1968, New Statesman published a book review entitled The Search by V.S. Pritchett.
I received a copy of that review from original print 42 years later, unrequested, but nevertheless, enormously appreciated. The original printed newspaper cuttings were included with a secondhand purchase of an autobiography entitled "Belonging" by Willa Muir. I have ordered that book from an independent book seller in 2010. I often wondered why the person that had been so kindred, kind and generous made such a gesture. I could not know for sure that it was deliberate, and it was by choice to think that it must have been.
The book itself has great value as it stands - I was accustomed to readings by W.M and her previous writings - acutely aware of several other literary implications of both the work itself and the author's personal life; Willa was married to Edwin Muir, a prolific Scottish poet and together with Willa both were renowned for translations of Kafka. I first read W.M in early 2000 and I felt quite invested in her account in Imagined Corners, published in 1935. Often, I related to her characters, biographical nevertheless, and when receiving an original printed newspaper review on her memoir sometime in 2010, to me, it felt quite significant.
Books, for I, are most valuable, most probably because as a child, I was told that books are also a form of resistance to oppression. I witnessed that in so many forms and at so many times, whole libraries and archives being burned down just because one regime, and one dictatorship could not allow written word to manifest, exist and become an educated legacy.
People were not allowed to know, to educate themselves, to want, to aspire, to wish, to think for themselves and to have freedom of speech: simply to exist as sole governors of their own mind and life.
Belonging to such a life, being raised and educated in such conditions and considerations of what it is supposed to be a nurturing environment, can make one a philosopher for life. The matrix of oppression or felt oppression, is not located in a definition of socio-political systems (my apologies, Foucault, not only), but through felt oppression and an inability to relate, adhere and form a kindership - in other terms an arrest on a sense of belonging. If oppression or felt oppression exists, within a lived experience, one does not need to look up, down or all around - the system and processes that were implemented as preventative, safeguarding shield have failed and such a failure it is a miserable failure to human condition.
Belonging is defined in dictionary definitions as an affinity, a form of attachment, a bond to a situation or a place and clearly with a status of human relatedness.
Belonging is a powerful concept in psychotherapeutic and psychological interventions, a theoretical concept that can be applied across several protocols and in a myriad of formats. It can be about identity ( identification), membership to a group, community, family, appertaining, adherence, self, relationships etc. But more so, it starts with being human.
I have made a clear choice about telling you, my readers, a story about (a) belonging - a subject, an object, a status, a concept, and an affinity: a history of its own, kind gestures, and a legacy of passing on an understanding. To my knowledge and practice-based understanding, belonging was about receiving a book review within a secondhand purchase from a book seller. I felt that I belong to that understanding, included in accessing and acting on someone's trust, gift, and ways of being. Perhaps being human starts with a sense of belonging if not being the beginning of existence itself.
I will never forget how hard I fought to find readings, books, classic manuscripts and how many gentle and kindred people were around me to facilitate and share such a passion. I am quite grateful to my neighbour that would lend me several of her hidden treasure books from before communist era, but equally I can recognise that within a democratic political system, much and many of similar oppressive practices are very much active. There is always a balance upon freedom of speech and disclosure on what one can term: infringements on () human rights. And that is when "belonging" or one's sense of belonging can be destabilized and subsequent questioning starts/: "Do I really want to be part of this?"
A simple recognition of infringement and violation is enough. The communists and militia had used subversive, covert operations in their forms of oppression and silencing anyone and everything that would stand against the regime. A democratic system that are using same processes, but formulated under different practices - it is absolutely no better than what it's so very well-known to I from my formative years. It was hard to watch burning of millions of books, to grow up with consciousness of what is prohibited to think, but it is harder, much harder, to live in a democratic society and see same processes at play with similar consequences, but politically decorated in demure statements of misunderstanding.
Belonging is a powerful concept, and its cultural implications are paramount. A Memoir by Willa Muir is magnificent, and I do recommend it.
I feel that July 2021 is a month of progress and moving on - in many a/ways that is also a form of belonging, for one to decide for themselves that it is time to move on and leave past to its past.
If you feel unsettled, in any measure, with a sense of self, please seek help, understanding is always on standby. That is a type of knowledge that matters most to human existence.
There are many written reflections in Belonging that are highly relevant, one of my favourite one is on page 122 (hard copy ) whereas Willa is preparing for second European adventure ( 1923 onwards), and declares:
"We were, it seems, turning into Europeans, after all..."
I very often wondered what Willa meant...