A few days ago in my blog My Bleeding Heart I shared the dream image I had of my Inner Child with a wire hanger sewn through her shoulder and breast with barbed wire. Today by a chain of synchronicity I was led to a video of Spartan Life Coach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l8ZP3zDu7k in which Richard Gannon speaks of the barbs of guilt, shame, self hate, ignorance and perfectionism that are hooked into us during a childhood in which parents and other caregivers unconsciously transferred their shame onto us.
Thinking about it I was drawn to the realisation that it was not my parents who were the prime offenders, but my Catholic education which focused on the idea of original sin and conditioned us young ones to believe that lashing out in self protection or getting angry and making any kind of self assertive stand against what hurt us was some kind of sin. I also know from the what I am aware of in my mother’s history she was very much conditioned to be silent in the face of nasty punishments from the nuns which showed a complete lack of empathy into the fact she had no one at home to nurture her, speak for her needs or rights, or help her with her homework. She just had to swallow down what ever hurt they dished out. She carried the inner pain and frustration like a wild storm within her and we, her children sucked it up.
The fact is that the burying of our self protective and healthy self assertive instincts sets up for vulnerability to narcissistic relationships, for chronic people pleasing and illnesses which involve the immune system (the bodies natural self protective instinct) against us. Further more not allowing us as kids to hold onto a natural response of protest nor having our responses validated, makes us naïve. It leads us to believe that we must always give people the benefit of the doubt and put their opinion or behaviour above our own. Further if we can’t say “ouch” and have it taken seriously we are set up for serious difficulties in later life and relationships and the pain gets lodged deep inside.
On an astrological tangent my own Mars (which rules the self assertive instinct) is heavily debilitated by Saturn (the inner and outer critic, authoritarian admonishments against healthy self expression and narcissism) and by Chiron in the 7th house which rules relationships where self assertion and personal desire can be sacrificed in an order to win love. It echoes my Mum’s natal Mars in the sign of self sacrifice Pisces. It evolved to a challenging Sun Venus in Pisces in my sister’s chart square to natal Mars in Sagittarius.
I’ve read and its born out by my experience that Chiron in the 7th means we probably never witnessed healthy self assertion and were wounded by a response to our anger which made us feel scared or unsafe to express it. We may have been conditioned to “be nice”. We may have been emotionally abandoned with we expressed young anger, sent to our room, told we were bad. Our parents who buried their anger or terrorised us with their own out of control rage never helped us learn how to recognise what part it played for us, nor helped us to develop skills for modulating and expressing it in healthy ways.
I am blogging about this today because a few days ago I had a very painful experience of my sister not turning up on time to take me to my final radiation appointment. I told her the right time but she wrote it down wrong. In a panic I decided to drive myself to the hospital and when I spoke to her later to find out what had happened I just had to hang up the phone. I felt angry and disappointed. My reaction to feeling that anger was then to feel bad about it, my sister made a genuine mistake, how dare I feel mad. Yet the truth is I felt let down, even though I know it wasn’t a deliberate, and my over the top response held so much other grief deep within it. My anger had also made me scared as I associate feeling anger with loosing love.
On Thursday in therapy I cried about the incident when my therapist said to me : “Deborah, it was natural to feel angry. Even if she made a mistake, you were left alone again. That is a huge thing to have to go through when you are dealing with all that you are at present.” At that point I got to have the anger I couldn’t really express on Wednesday.
As my therapist knows, this pattern of people mixing up communication or just getting distracted or forgetting is a HUGE theme for me and has to do with my retrograde Mercury (planet of communication and siblings) square to Neptune in the third house. Often times my Mum or Dad were just too busy or distracted to notice what I needed growing up which led me to develop the belief that my needs did not matter and made it difficult, too, for those needs to be accepted and known by me.
The painful feelings of anger and abandonment I was left with last Wednesday had no where to go but into my body. As I was sitting there waiting for them to come and get me for the radiotherapy treatment I had painful burning twisting sensations in my chest, part radiation outfall, part stress, fear, grief, disappointment, anger and anxiety. I was feeling fearful I had put down the phone, that my relationship with my sister would be forever severed (extreme reaction I know but probably not in the light of past times of being abandoned by narcissists for getting angry with being forgotten, ignored or minimised.)
Later after the treatment was over and after I had a huge emotional reaction with the nurse, who informed me that my pain and wound would probably worsen over the next week (difficult to hear at that time) I had walked out into the foyer where my sister was sitting. As soon as she apologised I got very, very sad, but I know now that underneath was anger too, anger and disappointment that didn’t really have anywhere to go. We hugged and I felt how bad my sister was feeling. What was the point of the anger since it was not going to achieve anything and in any case I needed to accept life on life’s terms, surely? But I’d still been let down and therapy showed me that. My tears all afternoon were a delayed grief reaction.
As I’ve contemplated my entire reaction over the past few days its clear to me that once again on Wednesday I had found myself in Chiron’s incurable domain of things going wrong and out of my control at just the time I needed support. Here lay my Chiron wound that will probably never heal or be cured, I will only develop awareness into it. Developing awareness will be the antidote to the sting of the barb lodged in my system over years and years and years, sewn in every time I was shamed for lashing out in anger at someone who had hurt me.
It wasn’t until I watched Richards You Tube video on Thursday that I made the connection between the barbed wire coat hanger dress and the personality style I had to develop to deal with the hurts I have undergone since childhood. Put on my best dress, try to look like it didn’t hurt, put on my best smile, front up but hide inside the pain and shame. And I have realised that this wound I carry isn’t just personal, it familial (need I say oh so familiar!) and collective too. We can all be shamed for healthy protest and anger.
It is so important that in the course of our healing we get help to understand the personality conditioning that makes us vulnerable to being wounded or hurt again, to having the barb lodged deep within.
As Richard points out, removing the barb makes us snappish and angry, we need to feel the pain that lies underneath it, pain we didn’t cause, pain that happened as a result of not being sufficiently valued, nurtured or understood.
This childhood pain is very, very real. Its waiting deep in the underground of our psyche. We have to feel it in order to heal the old pattern. Feeling it and grieving, won’t feel pleasant, for sure, but we can trust that when we face our feelings fully we will move out of powerlessness and gain the right to express the truth of what we feel. One of the false beliefs our child self can have is that we will not survive pain, pain that in childhood felt too much.
The truth is that as adults today we CAN survive feeling the pain that was too much for us and others in childhood. We can survive and heal hand in hand with our adult self, that witness within who can help us make sense of old wounds and who will embrace us as we go through that process. We can also find others who have overcome their own shame and will be there for us without shaming us.