An exercise in self compassion : Excerpt from The Reality Slap : How to Find Fulfilment When Life Hurts

A helpful practice for being present with the self in self compassion.. Useful for anxious times like now…

Emerging From The Dark Night

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Find a comfortable position in which you are centred and alert.  For example, if you’re seated in a chair, you could lean slightly forwards, straighten your back, drop your shoulder and press your feet gently to the floor.

Now bring to mind a reality gap you are struggling with (things not being as you wish they would be.)  Take a few moments to reflect on the nature of the gap and how it is affecting you, and let your difficult thoughts and feelings arise.

  1.  Be Present

Pause.

That’s all you need to do: just pause.

Pause for a few seconds and notice what your mind is telling you. Notice its choice of words, and the speed and volume of its speech.

Be curious.  is this story old and familiar, or is it something new?  What time zones is your taking you into : the past, the present or the…

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Can we hold our anxiety : some thoughts

It seems to me from my own struggles with anxiety that anxiety asks something of me.. I often have not responded to anxiety well… It has crippled me and I have been smashed up several times.. sometimes its my own inner self that can beat me up from the inside.. it happens when someone lets me down, .as happened yesterday with the gardener.. I had a tough day but today I see it in more perspective…when I was young no one held me and my mother was flying all around the shop driven by anxiety too, to the point I think all of us siblings absorbed some portion of it.

Today I don’t have the anxiety at all. I get the idea I have to move when I am in this state but I also have to listen extra carefully to my inner dialogue the last thing I need is NOT TO SELF CALM.. I found about 12 months ago when I started to answer ‘the fear monger’ with love, it calmed down somewhat..when I could act like a loving parent and sit that wounded anxious child who NEVER FELT GOOD ENOUGH on my knee metaphorically I could calm down. At first though, I may literally burst into tears as the tyrant raved on about what a waste of space I was.. this was an old part of me and not only me, I am sure this inner voice pursued my Mum too and I see it in my living sister who is now getting a handle on her own anxiety through diet and exercise as well at other ways… taking action… that said there is a time not to RUN AND AVOID but to sit still and self calm. Be with the self in love.

I am not a great believer in drugs as I believe often they steal our power and here I am not talking about certain medicines we may need like, say, for a heart condition or diabetic condition but rather the ones to change our bio/neurochemistry.. For me I use movement, self talk, chanting, music, poetry, reaching out, getting in touch with nature, positive others and self love.. all of these things are the things that calm my anxiety.. I also have to work extra hard to get a handle on the negative voices that tell me I am not good enough or capable enough.. this helpless self is very young and these voices do not speak the truth, never the less they overpowered me for so long…

Today I know we do have inner power.. We can also chose to get off ourselves at times when anxiety comes out of an excessive self focus… then things get global and we get sucked down into a negative spiral which only takes us away from life.. But life wants us to be in it.. to be reaching out and loving… so often my anxiety wants me to be unloving but I know I am far better off when I take anxiety gently by the hand and practice self calming.. no one else can do this for me, that said other positive calming energies around me do affect me..me are so often mirrors or amplifiers for each other of certain states of being and mind.

Lost my faith : surrender to love

It seems such a long time ago

I lost my faith

Even though the sun rose

Inside my heart it was

So dark

With all of the memories of how much

I struggled

And how far I fell

From grace

There was a time in my life

I thought I may never stand again

Weighted down with the struggle

To find the true ground

On which to stand

Fearing the fall that would come

If I let go completely

Of everything

But in the end I just had to let go

Knowing you would be there

To greet me

And hold me safe

Within the emptiness

Amongst the shadows

Of my disappearing life

For it was only in that place

I could gain the strength

To realise

That the undoing was necessary

Along with the unravelling

So now it is I will

Just surrender to this

Completely

Surrender my doubt

Surrender my fear

Surrender my anger

Surrender my heart

To love

sanctified

there is a largeness to this

difficult journey

that you will not read about

in a newspaper

that will remain

forever obscured

behind the mirrors

some people choose to use

as reflectors

of their own splintered insides

so if sometimes

the world breaks your heart

apart

with its misunderstanding

travel deep

to find your own reality

for you were never mean to be

reduced to a vacancy

your soul

was born to be

sanctified

A deepening : further reflections on my journey

There is a depth around me at the moment.. I am aware of how life moves on and so often follows pathways we do not wish, for myself, my life has been full of darkness and aloneness.. like a lot of people who suffered from addiction or were born into families with hidden trauma there was always some kind of shadow hanging over my early life.. As you age memories of the past become more real. I feel for those people stuck in dementia where the hold on reality today is lost and for those who fail to understand the power of the what has gone unconscious in older life to exert its hold over the conscious mind sometimes overpowering it completely, especially if painful experiences were not mediated or integrated. So often children just do not know the truth of what their parents suffered.. there is lack of understanding…

The shadow of my sister always hangs around me in the approach to Easter.. Perhaps if I lived with a partner I would be less drawn to these past memories and I am aware of the school of thought that seems to believe we must ‘let all of this go”, how is that to happen when all that has happened has, in fact, contributed to who we are.. I never escaped my family trauma and I came back in 2001 to be with my family but I could not manage to stay close at that time.. it took until 2011 to move back to my home town.

Last night I unpacked a box of Roses china that my sister gave to me a few weeks ago after clearing out the store room in the basement at the unit block that she inherited from Mum. I thought of my Nana and how I never felt much of a connection to her… She was not a maternal woman to my Mum, was violent and hard with Mum and ended up putting her into domestic service living in with an affluent family in our home town at the age of 13. But by the time we were children Nana had softened but still of all my siblings I was the one who spent least time with her… And Mum often told me in her later years it was my father Nana loved best….

The truth is that my own Mum was not a loving maternal cuddling Mum, she was distant, very concerned with her appearance, more interested in working and had not a clue how to relate to a full of life young daughter she mistakenly fell pregnant with at the age of 35 in 1962. I was a late baby and a disappointment to my Dad who wanted a boy… sometimes I have wondered if my own decision to not bring a child to term had to do with how my Mum was as a mother.. I felt, on some level, scared to be a mother.

Nowadays I see how many of us struggle with the mother wound on some level… its a very masculinised world so many of us were born into.. In my family, I have shared before, there was little cosiness.. it was all about appearances and perfection to the point that I guess I sought my own ‘out’ or holding through addiction… I also realise lately I was never ‘held’ by my father either, and I am not just talking about cuddles and hugs here, I am talking about being seen, mirrored, witnessed, allowed, related to, enagaged with, encouraged – instead of disciplined and yet at age 31 when I landed up in AA I was told somehow the addiction this was all my fault.. I just didn’t buy it on some level and I did stay in the rooms for 6 years, and got and still maintain my sobriety but in time I just knew I needed something deeper and that is when I sought intensive psychotherapy.

I had many breaks in therapy and sometimes I feel sad I left the AA rooms and I honour all kinds of recovery…..but I know all along, as my therapist Kat said to me on Monday I trusted my path.. I trusted my dreams, I trusted my first Jungian analyst with whom I had my first major breakthrough of repressed feeling in December 1999 around the 14th anniversary of my father’s death.. I had never processed this due to my addiction and it has taken a further 21 years to process the entire depth of my father wound…Its really only now that the deeper levels of this are breaking open and that makes some kind of astrological sense when I consider Uranus by transit (the awakener) is moving forward now past the square with my Moon at 6 degrees of Aquarius into square aspect with my Sun (ruling inner self and father) Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and South Node in that sign… as it opposes my natal Neptune in Scorpio…

I have had a breakthrough in my two year relationship with Scott too, who some of you know from the past two years, a soldier I was helping overseas who at one point I thought was revealed to be a scammer but in actual fact now turns out to be genuine…. the out break of love that has come through having to face the lack of trust issue has taken some time… and I have had to face all of my anger with the ways my father and siblings failed me.. not so much my sister who died, who always was on my side but more my remaining living brother and sister who I never think understood the depths of what I suffered due to Dad’s death and remoteness.

I seem to have had a huge breakthrough over the past days.. It was getting to the point that the fire in my belly and head was feeling like it was going to burn me up and when my sister asked me for afternoon tea yesterday I did not know if I could let the resentment go and break through the isolation and pain to get there and reach for love…but I went and she gave me some more of Mum’s things and when I broke down over Dad she comforted me.. I see how hard she is trying and how innocent she was all along…just caught up in our family system playing that role and very bonded to my Mum in that they shared so much.. while I was exiled.. never invited into that but probably would not have belonged even if I did.. Last thing I want is to be full of self pity..Maybe I am just meant to wake up to it all.. maybe that is why my outer life, independent of family never really manifested… and why I was so often judged as lacking, but now I have those who see my gifts and that fills my heart with the understanding that perhaps all along things have not been wrong…and all my midlife journey was about waking up from the wounded masculine to embrace the wounded feminine dimensions of love and connection and emotional insight so neglected my own life and in the culture at large. But perhaps also to realise how my own assertive drive got damaged by those larger forces so that I could find a new kind of inner power.. Not entirely sure, but realisations keep coming lately.

My therapist and I talked over in depth on Monday what we feel is happening collectively and personally with this inward turning towards the feminine, we wondered aloud if at the moment the feminine and masculine forces are seeking a new healing mediated by the occurrence of the Corona Virus.. It seems to me that lately more compassion is growing as is empathy. Mental health struggles are being understood in a wider context and addiction and mental health, in this regard may actually be seen as awakenings.. maybe many of us have already been preparing for this time…more will be revealed in time as we weather the passages. But as Easter approaches I do think about the second coming in terms of a rebirth of healing and love that Jesus spoke for and was put to death for.. Keep watching this space.

Autumn dusk skies

Even when my pain is harshest

There is a light that still shines

Somewhere

Even as the autumn dusk skies

Send their scattering of shadows

Over the approaching night

As reminders come

And ghosts are calling

Often I also sense there is

An angel standing

Very close by

Reminding me that

In the past my heart was even more forsaken

Than it is now

So if

Dusk brings

This sense of peace

Within the darkness

I will draw close to it

Wrapping its blanket of healing

All around me

Finding my necessary consolation and relief

Gently held

Oh so tenderly

Within the angel wings of night

Death brings healing

In memory of my sister Judith Carolyn King.

Emerging From The Dark Night

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I have been studying eclipse periods for some years and have noticed that significant deaths often accompany eclipses. which is not unusual since eclipse seasons rule endings and new beginnings. My sister passed away at 3.30 am Eastern Standard time on Easter Sunday morning, 20th April.  Two other friends have lost their fathers prior to today’s solar eclipse and following the full moon lunar eclipse and one of our dog park visitors sadly lost his 14 year companion, Muriel and was grieving today when his owners bought him out on a gorgeous, sunny autumn day. As the world turns towards a new season, souls have gone home.

My sister died of a deep seated and untreatable lung infection.  She was sixty eight years of age.  Her family were gathered around her over the final 48 hours of her life.  Her four sons had only been together with her twice in a 30 year period and were with her until two hours before…

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Everything Will Be Alright : Derek Mahon

Thought it may be timely to share this poem again today.. Hope it gives some brightness to your Wednesday.. ❤

Emerging From The Dark Night

The following poem is a poem prescribed as a cure for the feeling of need for assurance when life is most dark and things seem like they will never come right. It comes from an inspiring collection compiled by William Sieghart, The Poetry Pharmacy ; Tried and True Prescriptions for the Heart and Mind and Soul.

I am sharing it as I really need this today and so may some readers.

How should I be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the…

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Deep deep grief

The past few afternoons have been particularly intense around the time of my accident trauma.. I have felt like my head would burst off with the feelings, there has been rage and anger and fury about certain things and then when that breaks me open an avalanche of tears and grief that feels far bigger than my own body. I am only lately sensing it is collective or ancestral in some way.

I am trying to move through some old resentments about family members unconscious treatment of me.. As an addict in recovery I carry a lot of wounds and as a scapegoat identified individual whose will got deactivated and rechannelled through addictions while deeper longings and terrors were hidden I find we can easily become the targets.. We may seem to, in some way, carry the suffering of the collective.. And today I had an incident with the gardener who was very rude to me and all because he had not been honest with me before, after he walked away I had a terrible attack. I got a text apology this afternoon but my sense was he had made me a target for some of his own unspoken frustrations.

My sister kindly invited me around for afternoon tea this afternoon, but I was anxious before hand… she had some of Mum’s jewellery still to give me and in a little box was a badge with my father’s initial and surname J. Willemsen, when I asked her she said she thought it was Dad’s Rotary membership badge.. well did this start such a breakdown and so much grief, I really didn’t think my body was going to hold it.. and it occurred to me that the incident with the gardener earlier had triggered my father wound. he didn’t think it was worth his while just to come to my place for under an hour even though I was willing to pay him and I found myself almost pleading with him for the help….

I just felt I could not rely on my father. I could not make my needs known to him, I could not make him see me, I suffered so much at his hands and that was what hurt so much the wound and the longing for him to see and connect with me which explains at core why social distancing triggers me so much lately….

I just drove home with Jasper listening to Seal and crying so much, I thought of how easter being close, how much Jesus suffered at the hands of humanity and how much deep pain he must have endured on the cross, I don’t believe the Jesus died for my sins I believe he was put to death by unconscious forces and that is why on the cross he had to ask God to forgive those ‘who know not what they do.” Often we are on the receiving end of harsh treatment or judgement or misunderstanding we do not deserve… and when we reach out for help to be made to feel like a burden hurts…

I cannot really give a name or meaning to the pain of grief that has been opening up inside of me these past evenings, I can only associate it to Easter in some way… I think of my sister a lot, I think of her husband who struggled in the aftermath of the trauma she endured, I think of her sons who got exiled and were treated so harshly at the hands of the woman my brother in law abandoned my sister to be with.. I think of how the second boy went cap in hand to my brother asking for help a few short years before my sister died (not a hand out, just a job, some help) only to be told by his wife he would ‘have to start at the bottom.” I think of how my father would have turned in his grave to see his only son not helping the people who needed it.. If this sounds judgemental may be it is, I don’t know who knows what the purpose of it all was.. I just wish my sister could have, for at least those last years had at least one son and his wife and young family close.. but no : emotional/social distancing then prevented that… my brother’s wife having treated my broken sister as though she had leprosy…

Maybe I need to vent this stuff I carry right now, so if you have stuck with this post so far, I do thank you….. I know its not all mine to carry but sometimes my head and heart and body feels it will explode with the suffering and injustice I have at times seen in life.. and maybe only love will allow it all a place, after posting and re reading this I see it is my pain body taking me out of the moment… so maybe I am releasing, it who knows?. I just know something massive is afoot in the lead up to this Easter period and pray that a breakthrough comes as I know it so often does when I find the strength to bear with and release the pain and feelings that need to leave me.. Lately I never wanted more to feel the love that lies hidden in the heart of this.. to not find that would not be endurable for me in any possible way.. Love = forgiveness even at times through enduring lots of pain.. Maybe this at heart is the message of Easter that we can find rebirth through patience, forbearance and forgiveness.

Post script.. resolved things with the gardener by seeing things from his P.O.V this was obviously a trigger for older stuff… Feeling more at peace right now.

An open heart

Tears fell today

As I opened my heart to yours

As I did

A river of love flowed through

And as it hit the sore places

I felt the sting of salt

And yet this remedy too

Has relief

Hidden deep inside of it

Bitterness is the price we pay

For those wounds

That never seem to go away

Being triggered by an unfeeling world

That never seems to see

Too deeply

Into the heart of us

And so barriers of mistrust

Get set up

And how our hearts ache

To be truly known

So now

It amazes me to recognise

How over all of this time

All you have ever shown me

Was tenderness and understanding

And now

When I open my heart to yours

The angels sing

As all around

Nature rejoices

For an open heart allows the flow

That heals all the scars

That stung us

Deep inside

All of those hurting places

That were suffering

Burned before