The Gethsemane Experience

When my heart is heavy with a huge burden, with a deep sadness knowing there is a trial I have to go through that I wish I did not, when that wish seems so deeply rooted in my soul and the sadness is so deep and I wish will all might I did not have to go there : here I meet my Gethsemane Experience.

I think of how profoundly Jesus must has suffered knowing that those closest to him would soon betray him or deny knowing him, because the fear of speaking from a place of truth that may place them in danger was too difficult.  His seeing into the reality was wide open and in having to accept that reality he suffered with these words: “forgive them father for they know not what they do.”  He knew that he would be left alone, that those around him misunderstood who he was and the deep truth he was trying to convey.

He sat through the long, dark night alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed he would not have to endure that suffering., yet knowing there was no other way.

I know that facing the prospect of five weeks of radiation treatment is not as hard as being put to death but there is still a deep fear in me that since this cancer on some level appears to have resulted after such a long period of working through abandonment trauma, dealing with the grief over my sister’s loss two years ago next week and all the other pain associated with my family, that this trauma is bringing up those same feelings “God, please don’t make me go through this, after all the other pain and stress.”  Yet I know I must face up.

Yesterday I called my Mum.  I have been so hurt over the lack of support and phone calls during my breast cancer ordeal.  I know she is in pain herself and yet this doesn’t deny my need.  Her reaction when I decided to stop swallowing my hurt and broach the subject yesterday was to immediately play the guilt card of how unwell she has been.

“I know that Mum”, I said, “but even when we are in pain we can reach out to others and try to give some comfort.  It has really hurt me to know how much support my sister received and how little I have.”

“I never meant to hurt you”, she said.

“But you did, Mum, it really hurts me deeply when I see you and Sue talking every day and I don’t even receive a call. I could stay silent and say nothing but I need to get this off my chest.”

“Well, I’m sorry.”

After I got off the phone I wondered why I had to persist always in going to the empty well hoping to find water (and wondered if I had a right to make her feel bad).  Reading this back and sharing it with my therapist I know I did nothing wrong, it was a healthy assertive plea.

Mum shared that she is experiencing breathlessness, she had to call my sister to get her to make an appointment with the doctor.

“Don’t you think it’s emotional?”  I asked.  We lost my sister exactly two years ago next Wednesday and Mum doesn’t cry with anyone but me, because in my family I am the only one who seems to keep an open door on emotions.

“You don’t know what you are talking about she said, I don’t think its that at all.”

“Okay, Mum”, I said gently.  “I am going to go now.”

I got off the phone with a really heavy heart and feeling angry and rejected again and so sad that our family is so repressed. But as I think it through with my rational mind I know I am powerless to change her.  I will not ever really get from her what I need. She relates more to my sister as they run to the doctor for every little thing, instead of looking at and processing their emotions.  How could I ever fully be a part of that way of living?  They don’t want to look deeper, they have blamed others in the past too rather than look at the part they played in things.

Yet it still makes me sad.  It leaves me alone.  But I need to use that sadness as a message to push me towards healthier places of being, relationship and self expression.

Yesterday I read through one of the letters my Mum wrote to my sister now dead in 1966 when I was four.  In one paragraph she said “It was great to have the bribe of Santa to use over Deborah.  We only had to tell her that if she didn’t do something Santa would not come, to get her to do what we wanted.”

I took this to therapy yesterday and cried. I really felt the painful loneliness of my childhood after Jude had left for New Zealand and I was alone in that house of work, work, work, where no one spent any time at all with me.  I read of how exhausted Mum was, how even then she was having trouble breathing.  My brother worked in the family restaurant 15 hours a day.  Jude was gone and my other sister hated spending any time with me.

My brother had visited on the weekend, after he saw me he went to Mum’s.  “He limped in the door”, Mum said “he just skies all the time and doesn’t look after himself, I blame Diana (his wife) if she was a better wife she would see he goes to the doctor.”

Right, Mum, take ziltch responsibility for the fact your Son is a workaholic who finds it hard to relate to anyone unless it is all about work and money, who drives himself by overdoing things just like you used to do.  Blame his wife who I am sure has felt emotionally abandoned at times and has made the decision to focus on building for herself a life she enjoys.  And reject the daughter who comes to you with insights into the real things, carrying all the feelings that had to be buried in this driven kind of house hold.

Truth is, this is Saturn territory affecting my Neptune squares, the romantic longing for things to be different and the ignoring of the stark reality it can never be that way and as long as I stay trapped in longing and don’t let go, the more I am not facing the hard reality and retraumatising myself.

In the midst of this my radiation will take place.  The question I have did my immune system go haywire with cancer due to my failure to face the truth and take better care of myself?  Am I asking the radiation to do something my body should and could naturally do, if I had healthier boundaries?  Or will it be my accomplice in this battle?

In the end Jesus had to be cruicified.  And perhaps that was the necessary experience for his rebirth into a larger consciousness.  In my own personal Gethsemane garden at present I can use this metaphorical imagery to give meaning to what I am going through.

Can I forgive those who seem not to know what they do, who choose to remain ignorant?  Or is there something bigger going on?  Is their inability to give me what I need a necessary thing to keep forcing me back on my own resources and to fuel the quest to have those in my life who do want to give and be present for me?

Maybe these hard Saturn lessons are coming to a head today.  Maybe the deeper lesson is that in the end I must be there for myself.  And being there means having the courage to confront the reality, much as it hurts and learning how in the midst of this hurt to feel and nurture myself.  It is right to show compassion for others who in choosing to remain unconscious do so much damage?   These are just some questions I am struggling to find answers to today.  I feel so much compassion for my Mum at times it hurts.



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