There is no way around it, at the moment I have a lot of intense body pain. My breast has been cut into and then radiated. There is no one to support me at home, I have to get on and do the tasks I need to do to keep functioning, while allowing myself to rest when I need to. Yesterday at the park I was feeling totally overwhelmed, floods of grief pouring out, I really had no control over. After a time there I ran into someone I know whose daughter has had breast cancer. “It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better”, she said to me, then “how is your mother?”
I seriously could not answer. I could not stop crying. The truth is my friend’s daughter did suffer but she had a mother who visited every day, made her orange juice, organised financial assistance and did the cooking and cleaning. My mother can hardly walk, is in intense pain due to cuts in her legs due to a botched knee replacement surgery four years ago gone wrong. I feel lucky to have been driven for some appointments to the hospital by friends and by my sister, but I have had to get up and drive and take care of myself.
“Stop winging”, a voice in my head says. “Just be grateful”, and I am. But did I really need to hear her interpretation of the trajectory of my radiation at a time I was obviously in intense pain (and in any case isn’t true, due to my self care regime my pain hasn’t intensified but plateaued today).
“Give me a call later”, she said to me. In my head I was thinking “when hell freezes over.” It would be nice for her to have said “I’ll give you a call later.” But when I gave her my phone number a few weeks ago, she lost it.
It is a sign of some growth that I didn’t continue to stand there in the cold yesterday, trying to be polite and put my own suffering and needs on hold. I just told her I was feeling cold and that I needed to go.
You know, I think I am very, very angry. I fucking angry that I stood by trying to help my family who were in pain, institutionalised, swallowing down drugs and not helping themselves, only to end up with breast cancer. But angry as I am I have to take responsibility for my choices which have led to this. And I did the best I could, the only thing I knew how to do which was to love and care even for those who were wounded and often wounded me due to their lack of emotional nurture.
Neptune dominates my entire chart. It squares all of my personal planets, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus (only a wide square to Mars which conjuncts Saturn). And Neptune is the planet of compassion and sacrifice but also of martyrdom. When transiting Mars hit it in early February I had the needle biopsy and received my cancer diagnosis which makes me question what pain is carried in the gene pool for our family.
During entire period of my radiation Mercury has been retrograding back to oppose my natal Neptune in the third house. Over the next three days it will be slowing in its movement to go forwards again in exact opposition to my Sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, South Node squares to this natal Neptune.
Am I a martyr for having come back to this place of pain? Am I a martyr for having put the life I was trying to build on hold and then undermining its foundations before I could let something of substance rise up that would house and contain my soul? As my UK therapist wrote to me after I returned to Australia “In no way do I see you as failing by deciding to return home, I think that took great strength.”
At times it feels that so much has been taken or I have surrendered it in a desire to give, love and help. I know what I have been trying to heal is far larger than my personal life, it is an ancestral burden that goes four generations back. It is a burden of separation, migration, struggle, loss, addiction. A story of being forced by the pain of circumstance and harsh economic realities into a life of minimum emotional nurture.
It is a story of the repetition of family patterns, long gone unconscious replaying out which led to my older sister’s stroke, breakdown, psychosis, betrayal, involuntary incarceration after being taken against her will by her ex husband to the land our ancestors left, nearly 100 years before, where he had his new partner set up prior to leaving Australia.
My sister’s pain on her return, after she was discarded by him, was not just her pain. It affected all of us, my mother, our father and I, as well as so many others. In a few short years it took my father from us, repeating the ancestral pattern of the sick, lost or absent father (Sun square Neptune).
That pattern of separation from the masculine has played out for all three of the female siblings in my family. Today we stand alone, having to be both mother and father to ourselves. Its been a hard road and it now appears to me that to seek for any kind of recognition of this, beyond my own therapy is almost impossible.
It is a deeply Saturnian legacy, whose wounds have to be borne.
I don’t know if the pain in my body will ever truly go away. In a few days I want to post a blog on Chiron, the wounded healer which speaks of this wound that never goes away but enriches and deepens us in wisdom and compassion, for these two antidotes seem to be the only salve for this wound of Saturn Chiron which the three of us carry and are trying our best to live with, with courage and grace.
Each day I have to make the choice to live, despite my pain, to reach for that which brings happiness in my day, yet I am beginning to realise that my soul will always carry the scars of what I could not have or lost, due to the nature of circumstances and the losses I carry are most probably not only my own but reach far back from what I have discovered of Mum’s family inheritance since her ancestors left the UK in 1874.’.
It seems to me that in modern society there is so much pressure to put a gloss on pain, a need to appear to have triumphed over adversity in a heroic way, to have vanquished goblins and demons that make others uncomfortable. And yet in this life I am learning, perhaps there is a crack in many things, a wound or a hurting place that perhaps cannot ever be truly fixed but whose awful beauty and mystery longs for and asks of us understanding, empathy compassion and love.
Post script: Sometimes to understand ourselves we have to write out our process and then we can see the psychic blind spots. After posting this I am questioning the Neptunian idea (or delusion) that I hold onto that on some level I have the power to heal something so much bigger than me. Is this a kind of hubris or denial? It could be my inner critic arking up, as it can do after I post a blog. I wont know probably until I get some feedback. I just know that at times the pain and grief I feel seems to be so huge I question my own perception and sanity and whether there is not some degree of covert narcissism in thinking along sacrifice/martyr lines of healing something far huger than one little person but reconsidering this I see the critic operating again, its a very old deep pattern.