In my part of the world we are heading towards the shortest day of the year, and also the coldest time of the year. Each morning of the week we have been having real pea souper fogs and on one of my early morning awakenings, that time when all kinds of thoughts are flowing through my brain, I got to thinking of how metaphorical this image of deep fog was for my own life and journey.
In the world of recovery from addiction and healing of narcissism and narcissistic issues, the acronym of FOG on some sites stands for the concepts of Fear Obligation and Guilt which can beleaguer so many of us on this journey of healing from the wounds of emotional scarring, loss of care and love for self all of which are part of co-dependency. There is the shame and fear of feeling not good enough which can lead us into some very painful patterns. In the work of my own recovery from addiction the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have played a huge part. The Fourth Step speaks of a searching and fearless moral inventory, one in which we get down and honest with the prime drivers that propel us emotionally in order to understand who we are and how we are motivated to take certain actions, to manage difficult feelings. Feelings which motivate may not even be conscious for those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families with parents who found it hard to express their own feelings effectively, let alone mirror and help us understand our own. The legacy of this is that it is can be very hard to identify our feelings, to understand and make sense of them, and yet this is the work that we engage in when we take the 12 step journey. In this part of the work we begin to explore what may be our primary coping strategies, what are termed so called “defects of character”. I have never really liked that term but I guess it is one way of trying to describe patterns that trip us up.
As I explored my own inventory it seemed to me that fear and shame played a huge part in what was driving me. It did not even occur to me that before entering recovery that it was okay to admit to fear, that in admitting to it and accepting it would be the best way through. Most especially when I was engaged in a relationship with someone not in recovery and with narcissistic tendencies, the mere mention of fear was a huge no no. Fears were to be banished since they made you an inferior person, they were not embraced and understood or held in the healing attention of awareness. Luckily in my Al Anon support group I was to learn about the three A’s which are necessary to deal with every single defect or difficulty. They are
In order to understand a thing and to grow I need to have an awareness of what it actually is that I am dealing with. For most of my life I have been told exactly the opposite. Don’t worry about that, I’m sure it won’t be a problem, just act as if its not a problem, ignore it, discount it or dismiss it and it will go away. Sorry to offend you now but that is not actually for me a recipe for emotional growth and self understanding. Certainly it is not helpful for me to be possessed and controlled by fear but until I actually have that awareness and can accept what is occurring I am not actually in a position to do anything about it.
Part of growing up in a dysfunctional way is that we are told not to trust the evidence of our own instincts, feelings, intuitions and senses. Sure enough, at times we can, due to fear, see and imagine things that just aren’t there, but at times those things we see, feel, intuit and sense are right on the money and we need to be affirmed in understanding that we got it right and that we do have the power to seel, feel, intuit and understand in the way that is right for us.
I am coming to understand that for the Obligation and Guilt aspects of Fog to work we need, especially for the narcissists purposes, to be possessed by fear. To be manipulated we also to have a disordered or back to front understanding of our own rights and responsibilities, at least when it comes to our relationships with others.
At the moment I have a sister suffering with depression. As I see it at base her depression is a symptom of her disempowerment or her deep disconnection from her own sense of value and needs. It is also symptom of her disordered relationship to her own feelings and sense of responsibility, to her personal power. My own fears for her often cloud this clearer vision, I sense it in my gut, but am powerless over it too. When our collective family fears coalesce and solutions are force out of fear I find myself easily co-opted into the caretaking or rescuing role by these fears. Then I suffer from deeply unconscious feelings of anger and frustration that have no other avenue but through my own twisted body. Fear Obligation and Guilt keep me stuck in trying to make better something that is outside of my own hands, my sister’s well being and happiness. But Fear Oblligation and Guilt have kept me stuck in a fog for some time.
I was so thankful today to be referred to the following link by Ursula of Unupturned Soul today: http://www.angriesout.com/grow20.htm. It is an extremely detailed article on the roles we play in the family and most especially the triangulaged roles of Perpetrator, Rescuer and Victim. In my own case I would say I most identify with the last two roles. For those of you who are astrologically minded I have a very strong natal Neptune which is configured with the personal planets of relationship, communication, self expression and need, Venus, Mercury, Sun and Moon. Tie that in with the nodal axis and the planet Jupiter which magnifies it to an extreme and I am set up for both of these patterns, but most especially the rescuer
I am having to watch my tendency to get into this rescuer pattern in my family at the moment. In our particular family the roles of victim and rescuer seem to alternate depending on how much running from feelings is being done at any one time. We are all set up for it by fear of loss, since we have all suffered a huge amount of loss over the years.
I must confess it is with the victim role, too that I have had to do a lot of work over the past few years. Victim keeps me in a disempowered place where it is not possible to find solutions, in which personal unhappiness is passed off onto others, making then responsible for what they are not. Its taken me some years to get it. When the fog clears and the Sun starts to shine out the key truth it illumines is that I am responsible for taking the actions which lead to my own personal happiness. In short others can support and love me, but ultimately they have little power or control over my own happiness or unhappiness, unless I give that to them. And the truth is the longer I stay stuck in FOG the less likely am I to find and embrace my own happiness.
Guess what? The sun is now shining out on the day here in Canberra, Australia. The sky has turned from foggy grey to the clearest blue. A few wispy clouds are about being pushed by the breeze and as I sit in what was a cold room there is now light and heat, energy and warmth that was not here before. I am no longer needing to cuddle little Jasper to keep warm.
It never ceases to amaze me lately how the weather seems to mirror inner conditions and circumstances. Is this coming out of the Sun a reminder for me of the strength and energy that comes when I take action to dispel the forces of FOG in my own life? I seem to think so. I have a strong Saturn so shame and guilt have been huge motivating factors in my life, all the more so in all the years they were so unconscious. At I see it this fear shame guilt dynamic is not just personal but deeply a result of our collective conditioning too. Don’t such forces underlie what is an deeply narcissistic culture? The only freedom I find from them is in having the awareness and acceptance around their role in my life.
Acceptance does not mean I need to love a thing but only with it can I take action to change what I can, and only with that awareness and acceptance will action will be likely since so much energy is no longer being put into denial of what is. Understanding the forces of guilt and shame as well as other aspects of FOG, being around others who are writing about it and dealing with it too. That is where I find my healing.
The following quote comes from the above link and it really spoke to me:
Start with yourself to accept that you are a person with strong feelings that were born of trauma and injustice that call out now for transformation.
I don’t have any control over the incidents that led me to develop a powerful load of shame and guilt, but I do feel that a powerful shift for transformation is being triggered as transiting Chiron stations to turn retrograde in opposition to natal Pluto. Pluto in the first house gives me the desire to transform the dark corners of my soul and dig deep to excavate my own identity outside of roles and relationships. Pluto too, brings a fire to pierce the fog of Neptune illusion and bring clarity and light. I am drawing great warmth from lighting fires as we head towards the depths of winter here in the Southern Hemisphere.
Armed with that understanding I’m off to enjoy some sunshine. 🙂