My body feels like it is dislodging and dissolving the sediment of ages of neglect, trauma and abuse today. I wrote the post Unprotected last night after coming home from the chiropractor. Last night I felt a shift in my body from the treatment but following it the drama of symptoms my body goes through in trying to unravel its tragic tale is almost overwhelming. This nightly nightmare is not just an ‘anxiety attack’ but the cellular reliving of every trauma, wrists cut open, teeth smashed out, feet with third degree burns, arms pulled out of socks, bloody webbing between big and little toe from where Dad’s fishhook lodged due to his leaving it lying in seagrass matting, the feeling of having foetus’s removed from my womb, nights and nights of drinking to blot it out, go numb or forget. And then the traumas that came after the addiction was arrested but the deeper trauma of the child’s plight was, as yet so far from being understood.
Last night I re-read some chapters of Alice Miller’s book The Truth Will Set You Free ; Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self as a reminder that is it only by waking up to what happened for so many of us in childhood and in our parent’s childhood that we can find freedom from emotional and body pain, for our bodies and cells REMEMBER EVERYTHING that happened to them and I believe what our ancestors lived is repeated and carried down cellularly and in repeated behaviour until someone wakes up.
However, in order to know what happened to us, really happened, those painful truths so many seek to deny we need an enlightened witness to believe us and so many of this don’t even find it with certain therapists, in my opinion.
I now know that although I was unprotected, so were both my parents. They passed down what they knew and my Dad never got to wake up because he died. My Mum still rationalised her own mother’s beatings as explainable as due to her own misbehaviour and the fact my Grandmother was a frustrated single mother, a widow. I am deeply ashamed to say that there are a few times I have punished my dog for weeing in my bedroom. By some kind of curious synchronicity he did this yesterday for the first time in ages and I felt that old fury arise which was a lot like the fury my own mother used to express. It would start with her nostrils being flared and we were then tensed and contracted in every muscle, scared for what would happen. I am so sad to say at times I have enacted this on my own dog. 😦 But yesterday I didn’t do it. I took him and put his nose gently in the mess and then told him I was upset (not that he can probably understand) and then I gave him a hug. I got control over my own feelings of wanting to displace my own fury onto him and then I cried as I remembered everything, most especially why I felt the need to turn to the bottle and drugs.
Today I just see how infinitely sad and tragic the entire sorry mess has been. I have found it so hard to separate from a mother who herself was emotionally abandoned and when I think of the resentment I have been feeling lately at times I feel shame as my Mum has tried in other ways to support me in later years but I rejected her help as my traumatised child had not yet forgiven her. She has never been able to own how difficult it was for us to live as we did growing up and as I look at myself and my other siblings I see we all carry the scars of this kind of pain in different ways but I know how my Mum now suffers in seeing us suffer and I must remember that she too suffered and learned to rationalise as a defence, something she does when I try to point certain painful truths out. But the most important thing, as Alice Miller points out in all her books is that we know and believe our own deep emotional truth.
For myself I have almost been crippled by this pain. When I ran to the other side of the world again 12 years ago only to smash up on my bike it was due to the fact of feeling overtaken by that furious unresolved family energy swooping down on me following the end of my marriage. I abandoned my first therapy due to agonising fear, not being aware that was what drove the abortion of the first serious attempt I had made to try to get to grips with my life and pain. It would take me a further 13 years of wandering in a lost world and wilderness to find another therapist to stick it out with. And even then at times I feel my therapist struggles to make sense of my body symptoms.
It is so sad to me to think that at 55 I am still by no means free of a painful childhood which has replayed its traumas and defeats. But I am 23 years sober so that is a major achievement, but alcoholism was a symptom of a far deeper malaise and the real work starts with our sobriety which is then end of our numbing. We embark on a long journey when we finally make that commitment to heal and its one that has deep roots which stretch back generations into my ancestors past. The abandoned and traumatised or beaten child struggling alone against enormous obstacles is a vein that stretches back pumping its poison blood into the next generation until we take the steps to see what the nature of the poison is and how we can turn away from pumping it out there over and over and over and over again. Staying bitter, angry and resentful will not bring final healing but feeling all of these difficult feelings is very much a part of the process. Its a great paradox. I am reminded that only prayer and turning the deep resentment toxin over to a higher larger stronger force than the mere human works when we come to the thorny issue of forgiveness. We fore – give so we no longer re-enact the pain on ourselves and others. Its a strong gesture of inner power that may only be reached after travelling over harsh, rocky landscapes of pain.
For me self nurture. self love and self compassion then projected out is the only way home, the only way to find freedom from this mess. My body will carry its scars and my missing teeth are a testament to so much pain that was swallowed down and went mute only to be expressed in a blinding rage of fury which in biting down so hard only hurt me. Somehow I need to find forgiveness and I do believe as Alice Miller writes that this can only come after we mourn our losses and injuries and face up to the truth and pain of what happened, naming it for what it is and seeing how much of it is a horrible mistake that in D H Lawrence’s eloquent words “mankind has chosen to sanctify”. When we believe that by sparing the rod we spoil the child we buy into lies and some cuts and whippings go deeper than the physical they are the unkind words spoken to us or carried down that speak lies that we swallow wholesale and so tragically make our reality. With every fibre of our being we must hold the wounded child, love the wounded child, champion the wounded child, help the wounded child to understand and not re-enact its own pain. Let it begin with us, let us hate the actions but not the person of the perpetrator who in being so unconscious of what he or she is doing weaves a tragic outcome that takes all the healing love, empathy, consciousness and understanding in the world to change.