I tend to write a lot about feelings. I tend to read a lot about them too, probably a legacy of a childhood where what I felt wasn’t really mirrored and I did not have the tools or support to make sense of feelings.
My recovery from co-dependency and addiction has taught me that in order to be a whole human being, awake and alive in the moment it is so important for me to understand what my feelings and emotions are. I see emotions as energy in motion and they are the energy that propels my spirit forward into life and expression, while at the same time being a guide into my inner truth and reality, giving me instinctive information about the environment and my current inward state.
Guidance often comes to me when I need it from a source, some others call that source a Higher Power or the Higher Self. I call it intuition and Mercury is currently opposite my natal Uranus in the first which some say rules intuitive insight. Yesterday as I was facing a major conflict that needed to be discussed with someone I was urged by my intuitive voice to read page 137 in a book called Addiction as an Attachment Disorder by Philip J. Flores.
The particular page was on attachment styles, specifically those outlined by psychologist Mary Ainsworth, expanding on the work of John Bowlby. It outlined the four major types of attachment and spoke about the importance of protest as the child expresses his feelings to relation to the comings and goings and actions of the parent. I won’t outline the four styles in depth here, but the point made was that securely attached children were not necessarily the ones taken up in to mother’s arms most frequently and for the longest period. Rather they were the children who had mothers who were able to respond to their cues to be picked up or put down as the child needed, that is they had mother’s who were more in tune with their unspoken needs.
Consistently unresponsive mothers were more likely to ignore the child’s distress and often intruded on the child when they were playing happily. They were less attuned to the child’s emotional states and unspoken needs. These mothers had ambivalently insecure children.
Lack of warmth and brusqueness or gruffness was the characteristic of Insecure and avoidant mothers who then raised avoidant-insecure children.
In the disorganised responsive and insecure disorganised group, explored by Ainsworth such mothers were those who were suffering great distress and had a high incidence of abuse in their history. These mothers were unable to be consistent and so their children suffered a similar disruption to attachment.
Quoting psychologist J. Holmes, Flores writes:
Parental attunement on one hand and the ability to accept protest without retaliation or excessive anxiety on the other hand form the basis for secure attachment. … through parental attunement, the child must be able to feel she has “created” the object, that the world is her oyster. This is the basis of healthy narcissism and self esteem. Second, the child needs to be able to feel that her parents can survive her rage, and so be able after an angry outburst, to say. “Hello… I destroyed you.” … these primary attachment and separation experiences provide a nucleus for the development of the capacities for intimacy and autonomy, respectively.”
A few pages back, Philip Flores narrates the story of Paul, an addict in recovery who through early experiences of difficulty with attachment became disconnected from his deeper feelings and as a result became sexually compulsive. Flores mentions while discussing Paul’s case a paper by John Bowlby entitled “On Knowing What You Are Not Supposed to Know, and Feeling What You Are Not Supposed to Feel.”. Here I felt was the intuitive guidance for me with what I was struggling with, in learning to respect and honour my own feelings not being attuned to by the person which whom I had experience conflict.
Flores writes: “Paul compounded his dilemma by trying to keep his own feelings and knowledge secret even from himself.” He became sexually compulsive acting out old repressed feelings in this way rather than deal with them directly.
Contemplating all this this afternoon I was drawn to page 213 in the Language of Letting Go, where Melody Beattie writes:
Since I’ve been a child, I’ve been in a antagonistic relationship with an important emotional part of myself: my feelings. I have consistently tried either to ignore, repress, or force my feelings away.
I’ve denied I was angry, when in fact I was furious. I have told myself there must be something wrong with me for feeling angry, when anger was a reasonable and logical response to the situation
I have told myself these things did not hurt, when they hurt very much. I have told myself stories such as “That person didn’t mean to hurt me”…”He or she doesn’t know any better”… I”I need to be more understanidng.” The problem was that I had already been too understanding of the other person and not understanding and compassionate enough with myself.
I didn’t succeed in my attempts to control emotions. Emotional control has been a survival behaviour for me. I can thank that behaviour for helping me get through many years and situations where I didn’t have any better options. But I have learned a healthier behaviour – accepting my feelings.
We are meant to feel. Part of our dysfunction is trying to deny or change that. Part of our recovery means learning to go with the flow of what we’re feeling and what our feelings are trying to tell us.
We are responsible for our behaviours but we do not have to control our feelings. We can let them happen. We can learn to embrace, enjoy and experience – feel – the emotions as part of ourselves.
I will give power and freedom to the emotional part of myself.
The meeting I had to have yesterday was with a person who had caused me a great deal of upset several weeks ago and then tried to turn the tables and blame me. This person is a therapist. Last Monday she had rung to make an apology last and ask if we could meet to discuss what had happened between us. I suffered a lot of anxiety for the entire day leading up to our meeting, a lot of which I now know came from the backlog of feelings around our conflict I had to hold inside for a number of weeks.
For much of the scheduled half hour that we met I must say I cried, while expressing to her my truth and deep feelings and the sadness in my soul at what she had done. It all just flowed out of me and it was difficult to stop the movement of energy that was releasing. There was not really a lot she could say, except that she felt upset I was sad. It wasn’t only that I had been hurt, though it was a great weariness I felt yesterday for all the broken attachments, deaths, lack of attunement, misunderstandings, loss of connection and the inability to heal any of it experienced over many years as well as for the lack of recognition or apology to date. Deeper down I guess there was also grief for the loss of the hope of healing in a relationship which two years had proved incapable of being repaired and sustaining a deep and true intimacy, due to another person’s very deep wounds. As I write I am conscious this is real transiting Saturn in Scorpio conjunct my natal Neptune territory!
Today I realise the tears I shed were not only for all the disappointment of what had occurred between us since the end of January, but for so many other losses and deep disappointments, that for so long I have to deny and had buried deep in my body. It was a lifetime of banked up protest and feeling, I guess, that I was uncovering yesterday. It left me quiet spent and tired. But today I feel grateful for the opportunity to express it.
Mercury has been stationing on my natal Chiron for the past week or so… I’ve been under the influence of my Chiron return in the seventh house of relationships for over four years now. My Chiron in the seventh opposes Uranus in the first and Pluto there too and Chiron semi-sextiles my Mars/Moon/Saturn conjunction, emotional connection and understanding has been a fraught and sensitive sore spot for most of my life. So I do believe all of this in on schedule and an inward alchemy of a sort is occurring deep in my soul.
Today has been a day of peace at home with my puppy after all the tearing and anxiety of yesterday, pre confrontation. In a short while Jasper and I will head out to the park to play and be in the healing power of nature, a place where I can experience lightness, joy and peace. These are the balms that do my soul a power of good.
In the tears shed yesterday something very deep was uncovered and released. It felt good to be able to surrender to that experience and not to have to keep in place the defences I felt against the pain this incident had caused. I’m not entirely sure why this personal blog was headed out by the quotes and information on attachment styles by Flores, but there is an association that I am sure someone will understand….
In the absence of protest and attunement we get driven into a lonely void where there is no place to know what we know and feel what we feel. At 5 am this morning I awoke with so much from the past, especially my last relationship in which we were both hurt deeply going around in my head. In the midst of this the following thought came into my mind:
“We are powerless over what we are unconscious of and until we become conscious of it we are prisoners who do not know that we are in prison.”
Consciousness into our deeper selves and our past experiences may come in an avalanche, like it did for me yesterday. Or it may come more slowly. But once it comes and is released there is a sense of an entirely new freedom and possibility opening out, one that never existed before. There is also a feeling of coming home despite or, perhaps more aptly, because of the pain, sadness, longing, loneliness and despair we have had the courage to face, feel, admit, accept and release.
Recently I came across the following quote:
Therapy is not about healing what is broken but about kissing the broken places. I would change the word therapy to healing.
Today those words resonate with me deeply. Life might not always go according to plan or fully meet our hopes, expectations or ideals but in the end sense can be made of it and healing can come if we are prepared to kiss the broken places.