Yesterday I had one of the most painful days of my life. Its hard to say that today I am grateful for this painful day, however the truth is that I feel that yesterday I felt at an even deeper level the true pain and loneliness and desperateness I have gone through during my life with no filters or protections and was able to grieve so deeply. At one point I was just down in the pit with my Inner Child who was crying and saying “I am just so angry and sad and there is nothing I can do.”
I know this sense of powerlessness was very real for me as a child and an adolescent witnessing most particularly the trauma of my older sister who I loved deeply, broken and abandoned following a cerebral bleed on this day 36 years ago.
In last weeks body work session I was deeply in flashback to the time of her suicide attempt 34 years ago. I saw her contorted body all twisted up in the wheelchair, the blue tracksuit one of the few items of clothing her husband had returned her to us with, after sending her home on a plane from New Zealand for what she thought was a holiday, then disappearing with her four children who were more like my own siblings than nephews.
I saw her body as she had laid herself down after taking and overdose with her arms crossed a photograph of her four boys held in her hands, my body wracked with sobs trying to tell the bodywork therapist of how traumatised my father was (he died just over two years later), being shut down, told to focus on my breath. This reminded me of her own desolation that could only be expressed in wails of pain that embarrassed my mother. Why couldn’t anyone just let her scream and yell at the awful truth. And then I think of when I took my sister to see the movie A Royal Affair of the scene where the Queen’s children are taken from her, how my sister started to moan and I did the very worst thing, wheeling her out of the cinema because I was worried of the affect on the other patrons.
My sister was so angry and sad AND SHE COULD DO NOTHING. And I watched and learned the painful lesson that loving is dangerous, that people can abandon you, that your children can be taken and YOU CAN DO NOTHING. Was it any accident that six terminations of pregnancy followed for me over the next 11 years? That I do now know truly why I could not let a child’s life, live? There was still so much to heal, so much I had buried, so much I did not yet truly know about myself.
Yesterday I learned of my ex partner’s Happy Birthday with his new partner, a woman obviously capable of a more committed relationship than me. I felt that pain of being left because of the depression and grief I carried, because of the push pull fight I had to be close, my fear of loving and being loved, of loving and being left. But yet that theme repeated, its all I have known, this succession of abandonments of men I loved and lost just like I loved and lost my father, the emotionally absent father I longed for so much as a child.
There was such deep pain for me yesterday, in knowing this, in feeling this, such deep, deep pain that at times I was praying to God to kill me or take me away from this vale of tears where suffering, loss, ending, failure and betrayal is much of what I have known and yet today I know I have survived it, I know I have born it, I know that despite the harsh critical judgements of my own inner critic I have done well. I have maintained my sobriety for over 22 years. I have fronted up to myself in the deep and although I have taken flight sometimes and run it has always been for the purposes of finding myself, rather than loosing myself. I have felt so lost due to all that was taken but I did survive and my present is no longer like my past.
On Saturday morning I woke from 4 hours sleep (good for me with C-PTSD), to twist and turn for an hour and a half after falling back into a deep sleep from which I awoke from a deep dream/nightmare. I am with a male body worker and he is asking me to lean into him, I work to overcome my resistance and fear, to lean in and feel his support and then I am confronted with the fact that we have to face a stage of healing which involves the terrifying nightmare, he shows me a chapter in a book which explains how this will be done. His hand will become a fist and reach deep within my abdomen and twist, then I am in a flashback in the collapsed car, I can’t breathe, he is holding me down, telling me I have to face this entrapment which is a lot like drowning. In the dream I struggle and awake feeling twisted up and with deep, deep pain. Aware of the longing to rest and slide away but also of the longing to get up and live, to greet this day on its own terms.
As I consider the dream I thought of all the times I leaned in for support and ended up punched in the gut with my insides twisted around. I had no other sense to make of it but this, of why it feels for me now, safest to be alone. At the dog park others were engaging and I chatted for a while before returning to the bench and reading my book. I had the thought of how I don’t feel like I fit in and of how much of me is solitary, happier in solitude.
And then as I write I think of the magnitude of the journey of all that I have endured one percent of which is shared here. I think of the issues of dependence and independence as the Moon passes through Cancer. Of my mother’s journey, my father’s journey, my dead sister’s journey and mine, of how it is all working out, a fate unravelling. I am no longer so mad and sad. Anger and sadness has passed and I am here writing with the orange roses in the blue vase winking at me from left field, the present I gave to myself yesterday when I was feeling down.
I think of the journey to become my own mother, to recognise the inherent limitations of my own mother and of her mother’s limitations too, and of the mothers’ before. I think of how what has been wounding for me has not been deliberate, just the outworking of some journey far larger than the one of my purely personal self.
And within all of this dawns the realisation, that everything is as it was meant to be, it only asks of me that I face it and feel it and in this facing and feeling I come through, not by putting it behind me through some active use of will but through integrating, feeling and passing through the feelings (or rather letting them pass through me). All of this history which was folding up inside me, has over these years been unravelling and this recovery has been about this process.
Today I had a call from the breast screen nurse. There was an area of concern in my left breast and they need to recall me for further tests. I was so sad and frightened I cried. I contemplated the truth of this “terrible nightmare” at a time when I am just starting to relax more and for some hours it seemed all too much, far too much to bear. I called a close friend, cried some more, let myself feel fully the fear and sadness while also remembering there is a possibility that everything will be fine. For the truth is even if I do have breast cancer I will come through, I will survive. It won’t be easy. I just need to be as brave as I can and step forward knowing that inside me I have the capacity to deal with whatever life brings me.