The sense of having strayed

Do you ever have the sense that you have strayed away from the path that your soul was guided to take, that you allowed outer voices to enter you and direct you towards an action that isn’t really from your own soul but from someone else’s direction?

I guess if you have developed a strong ego in the sense of having a true sense of who you are and what you want this doesn’t happen so much.  I find it happens to me a lot and as I am aging I see the critical forks in the road when I was trying to follow an inward intuitive path and the voice of others, of society, of family, of partners and of the collective urged me away from it, reminding me of my responsibilities or telling me they knew what was best for me. At times I feel really, really angry that the support for what I wanted didn’t seem to be there and then at others I am aware that I have been my own worst enemy in not following that intuitive flash from the gut that tells me something is not right for me.

At the time all of this occurs I am not entirely conscious of it.  I am beginning to see that at that time I am in a kind of dream, perhaps being run by someone else’s programme and then I wake up with a start to find “Oh shit, that was wrong, this isn’t what I wanted at all.” And then I can feel mad and sad, frustrated and deeply disempowered.

Lately I have been becoming aware of invalidation abuse how subtle it is, when we try to express something true for us, only to be told it shouldn’t be that way, or we will feel differently in time, or we have it wrong, or our reaction is extreme.

Yesterday I had a biopsy to detect possible breast cancer. The waiting process to undergo all the next stage of x-ray, ultra sounds and interviews takes a lot of time.  By the time I was having the ultra sound and it was apparent something was of deep concern to the radiographer I was in tears.  I knew that due to my co-dependence I am hugely at risk for this kind of illness.

After it was over, it was apparent that I was pretty overwhelmed.  The doctor was sent in and she said to me “what’s up with all of these tears and all of this emotion?”  I began to pour out some of the painful things that have been unfolding over the past few years.  I was then taken into a room where I was sat down and someone came in to give me the “breast cancer is not a death sentence” speech.

I do get this, it can be a turning point in the road where many people wake up to see how they have been heading down the wrong path with certain things they are doing. Apparently a lot of women who develop breast cancer have a history of putting themselves last, of doing and caring for others more than for themselves.  I would also add that from my experience many of the women I have known who have developed it have gone through some kind of emotional abuse, abandonment or loss and I wonder how much buried anger and grief over that gets buried in the tissues.

The point I want to make though is at a certain point I felt like their motivation was actually to talk me around from my emotions instead of just witnessing and accepting them and letting me go through them.  I could have this wrong and perhaps they were just trying to be soothing, to ease my distress.  I began to feel that I may be over-reacting from their point of view.  I know this isn’t true, because I was just having a normal human reaction to the possibility of having an illness which then triggered all the feelings over all the other times of illness and loss I have endured over 50 years.  I know it isn’t a death sentence but still it involves a sadness and is a shock.

I know the nurses and doctors and radiographers where doing their job. I know it was really for me to come to terms with my own emotions, which is a process but I am also aware that at times such as this I feel a great distance between myself and other people.

This morning I woke up feeling very tired, but relaxed.  During the biopsy, scared as I was I did manage to let go and relax. I used all my PTSD tools, concentrating on the breath, talking lovingly to my scared self and then at the point where the needles were being inserted four times I sang my favourite Carpenter’s song “Close to You to divert my attention to something beautiful, at that point the lady who was supporting me by holding my hand throughout the procedure said to me “I felt you go into the Zen zone.”

I came away knowing I had submitted and survived, but also feeling a great sense of how much in the past few years under all of this stress I have been at times running and running, trying to keep active, take care of the garden, take care of the house, take care of the dog, express concern for relatives and support them when they have been undergoing trials and I was so conscious of how tired I am.

The positive aspect of this was that yesterday I received a lot of support from my sister who has just undergone a mastectomy herself and my mother.  And this support means a lot to me.  However I do wish that I could have received better emotional support throughout all the years I was struggling alone.  The truth is it just wasn’t there at the time and so I was forced to keep running frantically trying ways to find support.  That cannot be changed.

Also at the time I was trying to find the pathway back to my deeper self and soul I was being given all kinds of messages and receiving all kinds of judgements from others who only really have known how to live an outward path.  I guess they saw me struggling and they thought they could help, but often their advice was not right for me and it diverted me from my own path.

To a degree I see I lost the way in to myself sometime during my adolescence when I was foundering following my accident and my sister’s illness and was forced by my father down a path I didn’t want to travel.  I began to use drugs and alcohol because I was so lost.  Getting sober I was then married to a man who had certain ideas of how our life should be that most certainly didn’t involve therapy and self analysis.

Then I allowed myself be pulled off course by another relationship.  When I arrived home battered and bruised, yet again it was all about “getting on”, but I was foundering and I allowed others to influence my decisions in all kinds of subtle ways. I was drawn to do this by my unresolved longing for attachment, connection and support that was missing in my childhood and adolescence.

The last months have shown me that I really have to bring my centre more within myself.  I need to develop even more trust in my feelings.  I need to not over-ride the signals from myself that try to tell me when I am travelling off course. And in a way I feel this breast cancer scare is a wake up call for me, a message from my body telling me to take better care of me and listen more deeply to my own needs and inner voice.

For those of us who lacked adequate mirroring in childhood I believe the midlife pathway is even more challenging.  For by midlife our souls begin to wake ourselves up to the fact that something isn’t right.  We may realise we have travelled too far and too long down the wrong pathways, and we may need to develop a larger view which shows us that we weren’t “wrong”, rather we lacked a solid inner compass by which to navigate our lives from deep within our gut.

Its an enormous amount to forgive and to understand and the wake up calls we face may seem exceptionally painful.  But better to wake up, than to keep on sleeping or dreaming the dream that is not right for us.  Better to feel our confusion and allow it to open us up to new learning.  Better to stop running, slow down and turn within to have that essential dialogue with our heart about why it is aching and what it needs us to hear.

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