I wrote this post 5 months ago. I was obviously at a point then of reaching a deeper compassion for what I had gone through.
I have been reflecting more and more lately on the way my mind can concentrate on the negative parts of past difficulties, traumas and wounds. It is painful to find out as we become more conscious of our past and wounds that we have missed out on certain opportunities, or never had adequate ground underneath our feet to stand upon and use as a platform to launch out into the world and express our souls, or that due to our wounds and limits we have made poor bargains or mistakes that have had big consequences.
Contraction is a huge part of what happens to our spirit due to it never being adequately nourished or if we have been impacted upon by traumas of the past. It also takes a long time to become conscious and aware of how lack of nourishment, validation or exposure and other stresses which limited our soul’s access to necessary support has damaged us. We tend to blame ourselves, particularly in a culture that judges us based on external ideals and values. And many of us may be blamed by others who have no real idea of the struggles we have gone through and their impact upon us.
Taking responsibility for the part we play in continuing the wound and re-traumatise ourselves most certainly is essential and this is very different from blame. When we embrace our suffering with tenderness we leave a space for new growth and possibilities, rather than shutting the door and exiling ourselves in hell.
I personally have experienced so much sidelining, criticism and judgement from others at times, even those who thought they were being well meaning and trying to help. I have at times bought into this criticism due to have a mother who has tried to push me into things that were not aligned with my own values and could never really validate my pain, however I am growing more aware that the real power of the affect of other’s judgements and words rests within me and my own heart. We all need to find the inner strength to rise above those things others try to project onto us and to shut the door on negative energy that drains our healthy recovery process.
When my father died I had literally no where to turn. I was 23 and I was forced to travel overseas. At that point, I was sharing with my therapist yesterday I had gone through the following traumas: Major car accident at 17, three months in hospital. Sister’s cerebral haemorraghe six months later. A move north to pursue a new line of study due to trying to escape the trauma at home, which I was not feeling but by now medicating with alcohol and drugs. A move back one year later due to the fact I was out of my depth. My father then forced me to go to secretarial college when I wanted to resume my teaching degree, started the year Judy had the stroke. My sister’s attempted suicide when I was 20 in the same year I was forced to do the secretarial diploma that I loathed. Increase in alcohol use and dope smoking as a kind of secret inner rebellion. Involvement with my first serious boyfriend who was in love with someone else and himself addicted to marihuana. Two terminations of pregnancy when I was 21 and 22. Abandoned by boyfriend on the side of the road in a town 1,100 miles from home during first preganacy . My father’s diagnosis with cancer in October of 1984 (when I was 22) and his death a few months later in January 1986.
When I started to act out as a result of all of this trauma as I shared in my most recent blog I was on the receiving end of harsh criticism. Others talked about me behind my back saying how I lacked self esteem, really I was in grief over so much and not dealing with it. I overheard them saying negative things about me and all of these comments just added to the inner pool of harsh judgement and criticism that I held deep inside and used against myself.
In time I came face to face with the damage that I was doing to myself in the first few months of my marriage and I made the decision to take action to address my addiction issues by getting involved in AA and then in tentative therapy. There were still others around me, though making comments on my path of choice, saying what I was doing wrong, should do, should not do etc. I was lucky enough to have two very good friends in the AA fellowship who encouraged me to do all that I needed to stay sober, including giving up jobs when I needed to and moving on to other jobs when that was the next logical step of self care.
I look back on all of this now and see how valiantly I actually was struggling to heal. I didn’t deserve criticism or condemnation from outside. I needed support but others failed to understand and it took me quiet a few attempts at therapy and facing up to inner fears to begin to make progress when it came to validation. These days I can still criticise myself instead of seeing how well I am doing. It is happening less and less though as I progress, most especially in the last year. I still don’t always see things clearly. I don’t always look to the positive side but I now know that that is the side I need to look through from a frame of reference which is solution focused and realistic as to what limits wounds have placed on me in the past without getting trapped in self justification which stops me moving forward. And I am seeing more and more that my internal locus of control needs to be primary, for in the end it is I who know best what goes on inside. Others can travel with me but they are not always able to tell me the answers. In the end I have to find them for myself during a journey where often things are not immediately clear.