Reflections on recovery : growing in peace

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Its been a very powerful few weeks for me.  I underwent a dental procedure that could, in the past, have triggered some old trauma.  As I have shared, in fact, armed with awareness I was helped through it all due to my ability to recognise and deal with my vulnerable feelings.  I felt like I was taken back, very deeply to how it was for me as a child and adolescent, being faced with onslaughts to myself that I did not choose, that came out of me not being acceptable as I was.  It is a long journey, back to love and acceptance of ourselves as we are, when then that someone was not accepted by others.

As I am saying above, all of this has made me reflect a lot on the ideas of self awareness and acceptance.  When I was struggling following the breakdown of my eleven year marriage and had sustained a head injury over the grief in the United Kingdom, I went on retreat to Glastonbury.  There I would spend my days in quiet reflection, sometimes shedding a lot of tears in either the Mary Magdalene chapel or by the well in the Chalice Well gardens.  I was not fully aware at the time, that the end of my marriage was in fact triggering many  unresolved feelings of grief I had carried for about 20 years, especially surrounding my father’s death and my mother’s emotional distancing and unavailability.  In my marriage, it was very hard to face that I was not being loved and accepted for myself, nor being given the support to unfold that recovery from addiction was asking of me.  My husband wanted me to change back to someone who was not me.  I could not do it, and yet, on some level I was stuck.

Around this time I remember I had some very powerful dreams.  In one I was in a change room in clothing store with my Mother somehow a dress was sewn onto my arm with a coat hanger made of barbed wire.  No matter how hard I tried I could not get this dress off and in the trying I was in a lot of pain.  The associations to this pain go across many levels.  This was the arm pulled out of my socket when I was pulled back by my mother across the threshold of a door, when I was trying to escape.  In the course of my childhood I had to dodge flying hairbrushes thrown in anger and put up with my mother’s repressed rage.  All this was not fully conscious to me, at the time of this dreaming and of the battle I was engaged upon following the ending of my marriage.  The other associations were to the part that looking good and being clothed had in our family.  At one point I was employed in our families fashion business, which I loathed.   I was not a good sales person and my boss was my sister.  It was impossible to relax and have any fun as targets were to be reached with sales.  In my case I would have been happier to give the clothes away.  In our family, sadly what was on the inside did not get much attention, it was all around externals.  I am beginning to understand this more and more lately,

The pain around the ending of my marriage was not new pain.  It had so many layers.   The history of my failed love live was not really happy.  My escape into addiction due to never having learned to accept myself and be comfortable in my own skin carried forward to a heap of anxiety that would emerge any time I began to get close to anyone, most particularly males.  Prior to the ending of my marriage I had undergone three significant failed relationships. Lately I have been exploring the feelings around these and the genesis of my co-dependency which has seen me surrender myself to fit to someone else and then be discarded.  It is an old pattern that I am working to become more conscious of.  In my relationships history I never ended a relationship, but I was usually blamed at the end of the relationship.  I know that who I was played a part in the failure of these relationships but the people I chose were not emotionally mature either.  I had a lot of work to do.

As I shared in one of my earlier blogs Chrysalis, as a person who was addicted to substances I was not, during my teens or twenties in touch with my feelings.  I sought recovery from alcohol addiction at the age of 31 when I entered my first marriage, as it was beginning to become clear to me that the problems I was encountering in relationships and in my inability to move forward and emotionally nurture myself where in fact due to a host of unresolved factors I was never going to be able to deal with if I did not make the decision to put down alcohol.

So my recovery began at age 31 a few short months after my marriage started.  As my healing progressed the numbness wore off and I had to begin to work with my feelings, in order to feel and heal.  This decision was not supported by my ex husband and so he decided to end the relationship on the 4th August, 2004, exactly 10 years ago this week.

Thus I found myself back in the UK after my first flight to and from a therapeutic relationship.  Using a combination of traditional therapy and body work I was exploring some of the trauma surrounding my adolescence, especially the serious car crash that left me smashed up and confined for over three months.  It was no accident really that this smash up occurred around the time issues of emotional intimacy and vulnerability were opening up in my first significant relationship.   Unfortunately, in the course of cranio sacral work, in 2005, following the ending of my marriage,  my subconscious ended up awakening the trauma.  When I left the cranio sacral session on my pushbike, I blacked out, fell head over heels across the front of the handlebars and crashed into a piece of iron foundry sticking out of the pavement.  The impact of the collision, like the collision in my late teens was not remembered.  Instead I found myself flat on my back in an ambulance looking into the eyes of a paramedic with searing pain and nausea flooding my system.

Some months after this incident I had an astrological reading with the astrologer, Melanie Reinhardt.  I realised I was in the midst of some very powerful Chiron transits.  At the time of my later accident, in 2005, transiting Chiron was passing over my natal Mars Saturn Moon conjunction in the sixth house.  Melanie, herself has undergone a near death trauma.  She explained to me that my experience of re-catalysing the trauma was not unusual but that in dealing with this kind of trauma perhaps at times we are best to leave the wound alone, rather than go digging around in it.  She gave me some important tools and put me in touch with the work of Peter Levine, whose book Taming the Tiger outlines the impact of Post Traumatic Stress and gives some insight into how it can be healed with the work of experiencing sensations from meditative or mindfulness somatic practice.    I have been very grateful to Melanie, for, over the course of the past 9 years that work of Peter Levine’s had helped me to work with the symptoms of trauma and find some kind of peace within them.  What I now am learning I guess is in line with what Melanie has noted about Chiron.  In mythology Chiron never fully heals his wound but instead becomes a healer himself, or at the very least, a person who, informed by his own experiences of wounding is in a position to be wounded healer of self and others.   Some things, it now appears to me, aren’t meant to be “fixed”, but accepted and made peace with.

This morning I experienced some very strong emotions.   As my day has evolved,  I feel these are layers of imprints of feeling surrounding all that has happened to me, as I have tried to deal with the impact of the head traumas on my life.  I felt so swollen up earlier and for me the best cure for this is a long walk in nature and time spent in peace with my dog.  When I get to thinking too much about the pain I have endured in the past, it just keeps repeating.  The nature of PTSD is to keep me paralysed and trapped with trauma endlessly repeating on a closed loop.  Taking a step outside that closed loop is essential for me, if I am to experience peace in the day.

Perhaps one of the tendencies of my Mars Saturn Moon configured with Chiron and Pluto is to concentrate on the pain of the past and be pulled backpowerfully towards it.  Perhaps with Jupiter now passing through the 12th house in Leo I am being encouraged by circumstances to let some of it go.  I am very conscious at the moment of how things shift and how, at one moment things that seems so intense and intractable, can, at the next moment disappear, especially when movement is taken to step aside from the pain and touch base with something expansive, supportive and healing, like nature.

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At times I have felt that a part of me that was trapped in the car so long ago, would always remain trapped.  And yet I am aware that that imprisonment is only one part of the story,  Perhaps it is a theme or subtext or background  colour on a canvas but it does not tell the entire story.   I’m not even really sure what I am trying to say, and yet, as I write, my fingers dance over the keys and give shape to words that just flow out.  And need to be said, whether or not they make any sense.

My inner censor will probably continue to run commentary on my life.  For me now I am learning to let the words rise up and float away on the breeze.  In the present moment is peace and release from the tight contracted holding that has dogged me in the past.  I’m using meditation to open and create a sense of space around sensations more and more.   In any moment, with any pain I can use the practice of touching it with acceptance.  And maybe, as I reflect, that kind of attitude has a lot to do with love.

I’ll close with the following quote from Mary O’Malley’s wonderful book.  The Gift of Our Compulsions :

Love is calling to you, asking you to wake up to the wonder of life, to the miracle of you.  You are enough. In fact, you are more than enough. You are a unique and necessary expression of life.  And life is asking you to see the totality of yourself – all your strengths and weaknesses, your joys and miseries – through the eyes of your heart.  For its is within your heart, that you can weave all the parts of yourself back into the wholeness that is you.


2 thoughts on “Reflections on recovery : growing in peace

  1. My heart goes out to you. Your dreams and writings here are telling you something important. This is all part of the healing. The final quote says it all. You are enough, already, as you are. And more than enough. You are in the process of discovering that. Bless you.

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