The feeling and imprints of being disconnected, of being in the words of AA “so far from human aid” are so deep and such repetitive themes for me I am realising lately , and that felt sense or inner experience gets triggered at certain times of the day and the two times accompany the times of my accidents : early morning and dusk/early evening which have deeper ancestral echoes of past times of loneliness and disconnection for my Mum.
In these space of disconnection/trauma my energy starts to spin around itself and this is like the trauma vortex Peter Levine shows in one of his books on trauma which cycles inwards and down with repetitive thoughts accompanying of all the ways in which I have fucked up. What stops it is being able to connect to something or someone true for me outside of myself who hears me and I hear them.
This morning it was a very important post from one of my most valued fellow bloggers, Rayne, on facing her own feelings of suicide and death thoughts In that post Rayne shared how her connection with her therapist bought her through to the other side. Before reading this post I felt like I was literally drowning in my own phlegm and at the same time a huge rain shower came with a torrential down pour, I really was in a dark place and it did feel as if I was literally drowning.
I then had a lovely connection from someone new to me who is on a very similar path and reading her blog warmed my soul.
I am aware that this trauma imprint of separation/disconnection/drowning is something my own mother carried, my dusk/dinner time trigger points were also times she was alone. And I am learning Mum never helped me know how to nurture myself. I put all my focus out on trying to engage with a mother who was revolving her energy around her and my father, not me. Dad didn’t engage with me at this time of day, both engaged with Scotch Whiskey and I am coming to realise more and more how alone I felt and how I could not know how to attach and so in time I started to use alcohol and drugs too.
I am 23 years out of active addiction but I am only just getting a stronger hold on some of my other patterns now. That is many years of recovery. I also think my natural difficulty with attaching and engaging with healthy others has at time stymied my recovery. But reaching out and really connecting is for me a healing balm, for my heart lives to be connected to others and that connection is stronger and healthier when I am connected to myself.
Yesterday I had a far better day due to the fact I connected with three positive people. I met my cousin for a coffee and our friendship has grown over the past year. Sadly a legacy of our familial disconnection is that my Dad was so distant with her Dad, my Dad’s younger brother. We are healing that now and I can talk to her with great honesty about my past and she shares with me her own struggle to be a good parent and get help for her son who has needed assistance to work through some psychological issues. My cousin is comfortable talking about death, grief and emotions in a way other members of my family are not and that helps me as I naturally express how I feel, it is so essential to me that I can be with others who can also express how they feel and not shy away from emotional matters in the way my family do.
I think one of the reasons I really struggled last week was that on the third anniversary of her death my oldest sister’s name was not mentioned once by any of my family. I knew they were probably thinking of her, but in our family the deeper, painful issues are shied away from, all hidden under the surface. We eat and drink over them.
In a way for me now it is okay on one level to recognise this, there is so much pain and trauma in my family that can never be healed. I am also learning that its not my responsibility to heal it for anyone else. I think one of the big delusions I carried in my sobriety was that I could and would in some way heal the legacy of mutigenerational alcoholism, trauma and emotional neglect legacy for my family. I now see that is hubris, the most I can do is work to understand.
The truth is everyone in my family has been affected and few have wanted to acknowledge the roots of it. I think my brother trying to bring attention to the way Mum treated Dad the other day was all part of him trying to make sense of things and wanting to open up a dialogue but Mum could only leap to a defensive position. There are much deeper layers to the way my mother developed as a person and most especially developed striving defences of perfectionism and control as a result of the painful empty legacy of her past. This has reverberated on all of our lives along the generational line, but most especially in the lives of her daughters. I think my Dad just wanted to relax more, he never could as someone was always pushing him on, his defence was to go AWOL, he didn’t abuse alcohol but used it to take the edge off.
Much as I have had compassion for my Mum, what I do not have compassion for is her not being able at times to say a genuine, ‘sorry’! The amount of times she has allowed us to take the wrap for her bad behaviour and control mechanisms is huge. My brother the other day was trying to lift the lid on something and Mum wasn’t going to go there. Maybe she might at a later date.
For myself at the moment though I just need to keep remembering to focus on all of my recovery tools. I need to start doing more to nurture and nourish the good connections I do have, they are there, just at times I check the impulse to reach out due to fear. I also need to stop reaching out to my Mum all the times in hopes of getting the empathy and attention that is so absent. My Mum is a vey self centred person. I think a lot of it has to do with having no siblings and zilch emotional attention and nurture.
Thinking about it today I realised fear was actually the underlying emotion that drove my mother. Fear of not being able to survive materially, fear of not being good enough, this later fear fostered in climate where no one championed or fathered her. In the absence of that she learned to ‘pull herself together’ and put on a shiny perfect face that hid far deeper insecurities inside. She pushed and pushed and pushed in an effort to try and perfect us and the home environment but to a point where there was no place of being or rest. I feel it finally killed my father to be honest.
And sadly my brother as the oldest also learned to push himself and my Dad too, later when they got into business. My older sister was separate for a time but then tried to come back and push and compete and well and then had her cerebral bleed. And in the face of all of this, as the youngest I was the observer and my other sister just became the lost child and learned to try and assist the oiling of the family machine. Is it any wonder she broke down later in life when all of that familial conditioning was trying to dismantle itself?
I can see all of this now and know why my suffering was so strong. I see why and how I became a substance abuser in my teens and I feel grateful that I could arrest that at age 31 and get sober. But the real work of recovery began 6 years in and there was so much to feel, heal and work through.
There is so much grief in realising that what we needed and wanted as a child to grow and be nurtured was missing. Its difficult and painful to live with residues of trauma which were a result of emotional neglect that then drove us on to yet more trauma and abuse and neglect. It is so much to take on board. But what is most important is that on some level we can express and vocalise our pain, panic or distress, that we can reach for compassion and a deeper understanding, that we can turn around and embrace our wounded self and the wounded selves of others in love. For if there is a Jesus figure or a Christ or God force in the Universe well isn’t that just about love? Isn’t that force about understanding our wounds? Isn’t it about the capacity to bear with suffering and trials in order to gain wisdom and to grow in love? And isn’t it also about learning that when we reach beyond and share our own and other’s truth and pain, connection and healing is born out of endless disconnection, suffering and fear?
And at the end of a lonely road when we find the missing father to be absent, just as Christ did, don’t we then have to grow that father inside? Isn’t it now our responsibility to be the father we always needed? To find the strong boundaries for self care? To find the strong voice to cry out or speak up for what is real and true? And to find the power to leave our victim self behind, knowing that past suffering was real but does not have to mean a totally disempowered, disconnected present?