Time for some pruning of dead wood

Is anyone else out there feeling sad and a touch world weary at the moment? I’m going through a strong spate of Saturn transits at the moment so its probably to be expected.  

It seems to be an ongoing pattern, perhaps a legacy of my Saturn Moon that I end up suffering disappointments and emotional let downs in relationships.  Things usually start out well and there is a feeling we are on the same page and getting each other and then something happens with frustrated needs and all hell breaks loose.  I must confess that it doesn’t happen with everyone but it does happen with certain people who come to assume a mothering role in my life. 

As a child I spent vast amounts of time on my own.  I was the youngest in a much older family and my eldest two siblings were nearly adults when I was born.  My closest sister was eight years older and frustrated herself a lot of the time due our mother’s emotional distance, it was a business oriented family and neither of our parents had any time to spend with us they were both too busy building their empires.  In the absence of our parents care sometimes my sister would take out her anger and frustrations on me. 

I ended up being very fearful in relationships and then drinking or using substances to hide that fear.  There really wasn’t anyone around most of the time to turn to, to help me make sense of my feelings.  I don’t remember being held or experiencing physical closeness in my life, nor the tenderness and caring that I now know I was longing for as a sensitive child.  And he awareness of this longing I now know I had to repress. 

As an adult I’ve developed all sorts of physical problems due to repressed feelings and as the result of injuries and accidents in childhood and teenage years. It’s taken a lot of work and recovery to even begin to lift the lid on my true needs and feelings.  My personal path led into alcoholism and promiscuity in an attempt to deal indirectly and covertly with the longing for closeness that I had to repress at a certain age due to the painful circumstance of my young life and adolescence. It then led into recovery and healing.

Over the past few days I have been re-reading Alexander Lowen’s book Narcissism Denial of the True Self, as I have experienced yet another major failure with yet another therapist who, not only just hasn’t got it but has acted in a damaging way, trying to load me with interpretations which I know deep down are way off base. 

It has taken a degree of inner strength which I’ve never really had until now to be able to stand up to her and not take the interpretations she has dumped on me.  I’ve become aware that with me she is replaying aspects of her own childhood but in this case, since she is in a position of power, she can use that power to cut off and then judge and dismiss the feelings of anger that have been generated by our conflict which she has told me she is having a hard time facing.

According to her by making the choice to have a break from sessions with her I am “repeating a pattern of cutting myself off from relationships when disappointed and frustrated”  Exactly how many failures is one supposed to cop before setting a boundary and saying enough is enough?  

While I get that as an adult it is my task to hold and make sense of my feelings,  why then continue to fork out substantial amounts of money to professional only to be invalidated and not have my needs met, or my feelings validated.

Luckily this time I’ve been able stand firm and hold to my own truth and feelings on the matter without caving in.  I’ve cried a lot and I’ve been sitting with myself and allowing myself to feel not only the sadness about this disappointment, but also the sadness of all the times I was so alone in very painful emotional situations where I really needed a close friend or parent to hold my hand and empathise. 

It is no surprise to me that as I write Venus is stationing at 13 degrees Capricorn in sextile to my natal Neptune in the third house, while Capricorn’s ruler Saturn widely conjoins the same placement at the same time squaring my natal Venus… Its surely a time to set some boundaries and practice self care and self sufficiency.  

It leads me to believe that this current experience of disappointment is all part of the path of my growth and learning for now.  Maybe it is also a part of growing up and realising there comes a time when I need to be self supporting and trust myself rather than experience self doubt.  

Saturn influences are strong in my family .  Both my parents have Sun conjunct Saturn.  They were never able to be children but had to grow up really fast during the traumatic circumstance of the depression following the First World War.  The legacy of that and other issues on my mother’s side around separation, death, alcoholism and loss all have replayed in my own and in my female siblings lives.   

The truth is that even though I’ve been very angry and disappointed with my therapist I also have a degree of resignation around what has happened, and as I’ve allowed myself to feel and validate these feelings they have mellowed somewhat.    There’s been a blurring of boundaries around who is actually the therapist here as at one point she was asking me to take care of her feelings of hurt.  Point is, I don’t want to do that while paying her money for a need she isn’t fulfilling.  

And so I’ve chosen to call it quits. I don’t feel I’ve done this in a nasty way but in doing so I do feel that I have honoured my own truth and right to my deep feelings.

Two weeks ago I was working on a very old article on Venus Retrograde for this blog.  And everything I wrote about there has come to pass this week.  My computer connection has been down until today and I had burst pipes under the house that have cost a lot to fix.  I can’t help feeling that there is a metaphorical aspect to that.   The feelings we can’t express in childhood need to find expression in our adult life.  When we are victims of narcissism in our upbringing we learn to repress our feelings.   In recovering we need a place to be able to release them in order to integrate them into consciousness.   In this process it helps to have a witness who can help us contain them.

There is a wonderful chapter in Lowen’s book entitled The Fear of Insanity, where he talks about what happens when the narcissist is flooded by repressed feelings.  The point he makes is that when we don’t have help to befriend our feelings in childhood due to insensitivity or distain of the parents, or due to their own repression we come to equate feelings with being insane or out of control.  It is no accident that in our culture the word “mad” is used to describe those who are supposedly insane but really just trying to deal with overwhelming feelings (especially of anger) that had to be repressed.  In order for us to heal, those feelings have to be brought to light and the prohibition and shame around this removed.

Lowen writes

I strongly believe that if children were allowed to voice their anger at their parents whenever they felt they had a legitimate grievance, we would see far fewer narcissistic personalities. 

He cites the case of a patient that he treated named Barbara.   Barbara  was brought to Lowen while suffering a psychotic break which was really just a flooding of her ego by feelings long repressed feelings.  Lowen helped Barbara by holding her through the outbreak of her feelings and enabling her to discharge them in a place of safety and understanding. In such a way Barbara was eventually restored to sanity.

Was her outbreak of feeling insane?  Maybe in order to become sane it is really necessary to be apparently crazy for a time, at least from society’s point of view. 

Lowen comments

To the uninitiated, watching a person “blow” may be frightening.  But with an experienced therapist, who understands the energy dynamics involved, the seemingly irrational and violent release of feeling can have a positive effect on the patient. 

Barbara was lucky to find Lowen.  What we repress doesn’t go away.  Its buried there in the body awaiting understanding and release.  A good therapist should be able to help us with our expression of feeling, otherwise what is the point of being a therapist in the first place. 

Alice Miller has written in her book Breaking Down The Wall of Silence that only our true feelings will lead us to freedom and liberate us from distortions and lies that we are subject to, especially with therapists.   I wish could include the full quote here but its locked in my old laptop and cant be accessed at this moment

For now I’m at the end of the line with therapy. I’m finding lots of support online with others with whom I feel safe and free to be real. In the end what is important is to trust my gut and have faith in the insights I have felt within my soul. 

And as usual with Saturn transits it’s a good time to take out the symbolic secateurs, for in removing the dead wood we encourage the new growth that is bound to burst forth in time. And with Venus stationing to move forward its a time to act from a place of truth due to my own values and needs.  In the end no one else can tell me what those are  I have to learn for myself, often through a painstaking process of trial and error that leads down some painful and frustrating roads. 

I’m feeling peaceful tonight. Over the past few days of editing this I’ve come to some kind of inward resolution about all of this.  So for what its worth I’m sharing it here.   And would love to hear from anyone else about struggles they may have been experiencing or insights gained over this time in regard to their significant relationships. 

3 thoughts on “Time for some pruning of dead wood

  1. Stunning! Thank you for sharing! WOW! Very personally powerful!

    This one of the many reasons why you shine, even thought the pain hurts deep, it separates and connects on those levels which heal when seen… you know how to transform it.

  2. Thank you so much Ursula.. I struggle with self doubt when writing and posting this but I am learning to trust myself more due to the love and confirmation I have found via your blog… I do believe pain is the key to our awakening… I really appreciate your comment.

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