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The Fourth Way

Story - On the Highway to Healing by Nicoletta Manns

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Thursday, June 29, 2006:

On the Highway to Healing:

On Tuesday this week I was driving along the 407 in this beautiful, big, green and white GO bus with maybe five or six passengers on board. I started to think about a brief conversation I had had earlier that morning: Ross had called me up on my cell phone to let me know it would be ok to bring my children and my dog up to the Mill for a couple of days of camping. As I went over the conversation and I heard Ross's voice again in my mind, I suddenly experienced a rush of emotion (at the time of the conversation I was with another friend, and I was aware of feeling somewhat reserved on the phone with Ross; I believe that is why I had this delayed emotional reaction, several hours later on the bus): I started to feel tears well up and a very familiar lump in my throat as I recognized for the umpteenth time what a strong effect Ross still has on me, and has had since the first moment I met him some time early in 1993 in Fran & Dermot's upstairs apartment above the old TISH building next to the park.

And this time I got to see clearly and deeply how Ross triggers in me years and years of unexpressed childhood longing for my Dad. My Dad left my mom before I was born and before age 8 or 9 I didn't really think much about him at all. Then during my pre-teens and even more so during my teenage years I became quite obsessed with my Dad, constantly thinking about him, missing him, fantasizing daily about him coming one day to simply take me home with him; of course this never happened. While growing up I had all these feelings and nowhere to direct them, and I always felt as if I was saving them for the day when I would finally meet my Dad. I finally did meet him when I was 25 and had a daughter of my own, but that's another story; I'll just say that it still didn't seem to work for me to express all those emotions with my Dad then, and at this point he and I are not in communication at all and haven't been for several years.

So over the past more than 13 years now, whenever I have been in Ross's presence, I have experienced this longing; in my logical mind I know that Ross isn't my dad, so it always felt as if these feelings had yet again nowhere to go and then they would get translated into an intense awkwardness. This is what I saw more clearly than ever before while driving along; how my deep longing for and grief over not having a Dad would turn into this awkwardness, which at times was so intense that I simply had to run and hide - literally. Some of you may remember a couple of those instances, which happened at the Mill.

Back to the 407: I am driving along feeling all emotional, ready to burst into tears and feeling this internal wailing, really intensely aware of the little girl in me missing her Dad, and then another emotion makes itself know: GRATITUDE, equally as intense and this time I am crying tears of joy (but really only a couple made it to the surface, because as you might imagine it's not so convenient to look like you're having a breakdown while driving along the 407 with passengers on board!). I felt (and still feel) soooooooo grateful for having come one more step closer to being able to separate Ross from my Dad and maybe no longer feel this intense awkwardness (this remains to be tested out, of course), grateful to Ross for having been with me in this process all these years, grateful to myself for staying with it (on and off) and coming back to it, grateful for my kids, my pets, my job and my life in general. I dare say that for the first time in 42 years I am starting to feel like I actually want to be here, on this planet. My main focus is currently in the material world, working my way up the seniority ladder as a GO bus driver and LOVING it!! LOVING for the first time to really be able to provide for myself and (at least some of) my kids, no longer wishing to be taken care of by someone else. I think that this experience in the material world is really helping me to feel grounded here and I feel great!

Some of you are aware that I left the "TISH" community in March/April of 2002 under rather dramatic circumstances; I went away to have my midlife crisis (that's for another story) - and I just want to say here that even though I am now not an active member, I am very glad to have re-connected. I am sooooo looking forward to spending at least a little bit of time at the Mill this summer; it feels like coming HOME, home to the place where I had some of the most intense growing pains and the joys of connecting with like minded people in a REAL way. Thank you all who have been part of my journey and especially thank you Ross for starting it all way back when..!!

~ Nicoletta