Facing reality : some reflections on the body, being, recovery and the sad cost of dissociation.

I am on my own but I am not alone – today’s realisation.  I see the past I came out of.  I see the young me that struggled.  I see the familial patterns that repeated.  I see how hard it would have been for me to break out of this conditioning before pain could have revealed what it was.  And then I see how for so very long the truth seemed far too bitter a pill to swallow.

As I write this I am reminded of the necessity of acceptance and how acceptance means I face reality instead of arguing with it.  While I am arguing with reality I am in an adversarial relationship with it and the truth is that reality has some deeply dysfunctional and painful elements which  cause hurt and pain and so this is life, sadly but truly at times.  The best I can often do is to meet it mindfully and with compassion and help the pain show me what it is I need to reach for to soothe it.  My difficulty with the past I didn’t want shows me longing to reach for more and yet not really knowing how to go abou that….how can I find the way to it?

And could the meaning and purpose of my life be purely about expressing my own pain and truth in some way to help others, just as when others expressing theirs helps me too?   Is there not some great comfort in that?   For the truth is that openness to reality can heal and I can find ways to love myself and others through it without allowing it to embitter me and block me off fully from trust, hope, truth and love.

I am seeing lately how the bitter pain of the past kept me locked off from new possibilities of love in the present moment and yet I still had to navigate that past and pain until I reached bedrock.  Mine has been an inner healing path that led to addiction and then emotional recovery.  As I do more and more work to overcome the power of an intensely powerful inner critic I am beginning to see that in many ways I have not done anything wrong as my path has been my path and it has been a path of breakdown and breakthrough.

When I put down alcohol in 1993 I did not know that I was a stranger to myself in so many ways.  I had years of unintegrated trauma behind me and for a time I had found love and stability with my husband but so much of myself was, as yet not known so I am not sure how much of a true self I had to give him at that time.   Together we made the cosiest life possible and then we tore it up on a dream and tried to build a new life overseas but the trauma power energy of my family drew me back.

In many ways I was possibly born different to many members of my family.  For one thing I was a lot younger and of a different generation.  Those of us born in the 60s saw a lot of revolution in music, in life and in relationships.  Old patterns were breaking down and we were part of that breaking open and breaking apart.  Is it any wonder so many of us went through our own breakdowns which to my mind now appear more as break throughs and waking ups with all the pain and confusion such a process entails?

Are we not still in the process of building new lives which are based on stronger more soul and heart centred values than those dictated by a social collective mindset that was so much stronger on ‘doing the right thing’ and had fostered in us such a profound split between heart and head?

So many of us have suffered in a body that we often betray and run roughshod over.  I do believe as a result of my own understanding that in culture presently we are often self rejecting of our physical and emotional selves to extreme degrees.  We were so often taught such self rejection.  In my own family we never learned to take care of our bodies or of our souls in bodies.  The deeper message of my own religious schooling was that in some way the body was flawed, mistrustful, disgusting and evil.  What terrible things to have a child believe, the realisation makes me cry.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading an intensely moving autobiography Love Warrior based on one woman’s struggle with her addiction and the breakdown in her primary relationships. What she finds midway through the journey is how divorced from her own body and being her own conditioning has made her.  And what conditioning forced into her shadow brought her into a relationship with a husband who sought a connection to the primal body and rejected soul shadow energy through internet porn.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that due to her own distance or disconnection from her body, soul, being and heart she has attracted a partner with similar issues only expressed in different ways.  Together they go on a healing journey to find what is really leading to their powerful disconnect.  In one very moving section she realises the truth is that so long ago she learned to fear and disconnect from her body and being, to seek distance and to dissociate.  I am sure so many of us will relate to this.

In trauma the body becomes a fearful and very unsafe place.  We experience emotions through a body so when we start to numb the body we also numb emotions.  If we fear the arising of primal feeling from within, our habitual defence is to reach for something to stop our feeling.  If the feelings long ago were what we learned to mistrust or if we suffered in young bodies at the hands of those dissociated from their own, our own split, dissociation and fear only deepens.

And yet part of us longs to feel, we were born to feel and we do not fully truly live until we come fully awake and alive to what has been rejected, dissociated from, feared or neglected in our body.  Our body/soul longs for our absent self, to  find the way back to what was lost when we started to dissociate but what is longed for is also feared, as imperfection and shame researcher, Brene Brown has pointed out in many of her talks and much of her writing.

Could it be that on some level some of us actually fear the feeling of being alive as such feelings open up our most tender vulnerability and associated fears of death or losing control?   Can we be strong enough to face this fear in head on instead of projecting our deeply unconscious intrepidation on others in fear, criticism, attack or blame?  These are just a few of the realisations I am having at the moment.  I found myself shedding tears so often towards the end of the book Love Warrior especially in the paragraphs where she spoke of reminding her young dauther how to be truly beautiful is to be full of the beauty and joy that comes when we learn to fill up on the beauty in life and nature.  We come alive most fully when we connect to life and each other nakedly, vulnerably and at our most honest, stripped back with open hearts to a body and soul that is finally able to feel its need for life, rawness, richness and love.

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