One of the worst legacies of past loss or trauma is that they leave us with all kinds of worries and fears, most of which are not fully conscious. The thing about psychological defences we erect is that we often dont get to know they are present, we just act from behind them unconsciously seeking to self protect ourselves from further harm. I was reading a little book on emotions yesterday and in it the author talked about fear and anxiety, how at times they are a sign we may be in danger or unsafe and at other times are a hidden excitement about facing or doing something that takes us out of our comfort zone and could end up being really good for us. The example the author used was of the anxiety she felt prior to a talk she gave about a subject she was passionate about. Since she was invested in the subject her energy was engaged but the anxiety she felt was strong, however the benefit for her of moving through it was that she came out the other side by facing and feeling it and acting anyway in a way which enlarged her life.
We are certainly all impacted by fear and anxiety in some ways, but if early losses or failures have been great it can be harder to reach forward. We may literally feel like we are dying when we have to make a change or face a fear or anxiety laden situation and the truth is that we are being urged to die on some level, to the part of us that want to keep us safe and protected at any cost. In my own life I see more clearly in hindsight the power my own fear has exerted over me and what it has held me back from. I have been so scared at times and I hid my fear and terror behind defences. I was probably only fooling myself with all the stories I told myself about how or why I could not do the said thing.
That said its another matter if we have in childhood been shamed for fear or responses that were legitimate. Ideally if we have emotionally present parents they hold our hands through this kind of thing or encourage us in positive ways. I think of my own fear and shyness issues and in discussing them with my Mum see I carried them from her. Mum was brave and defiant in certain situations which enabled her to go after what she wanted at times, at other times she was held back. As a young child with no father and an often emotionally and physically absent mother she struggled in schoold and was not supported by the nuns but used and abused. I think as kids we see and feel the parents fear but if they defend against their own deficits being understood and known that can rebound upon us.
Lately as I do more of my own healing work and confront some of the deep grief I defended against in my own life as well as my own and other’s fears of it, I see how at times my life became so limited by that unresolved grief. When my marriage ended I went entirely into isolation and hit the ground as I knew my that stage in my sobriety I had a lot of grief work to do. I needed help with it and it took me a lot of years to finally find my current therapist who is helping me to grieve. Now my grief is not only for the original events but for the lost years and opportunties I could not take due to fear and the terrible repercussions of the head injury I had in 2005. But lest this just be a post about grief, I am noticing that the more deeply I open to my own fear and grief the more I am able to feel a growing sense of lightness and joy. The defensive fear that dogged me and stopped me reaching out or giving from my heart is slowly melting away. I know it will probably always be ther to a degree.
Yesterday I did a favour for a friend and it felt so good to extend myself for someone outside of my family, and a special someone who has really been there for me over the past few weeks when I was so ill. It seems years since I felt safe enough to truly open my heart to someone in trust. We have been building a friendship over past months and in her company I feel so happy and light. Its really only in facing my grief and in knowing that others can bear it and will not shun me for it that I have started to feel safer.
I now know our family sadly has this toxic stoic defence against vulnerablity and grief which is not healthy. All those years ago when I lost my father and then a few weeks later my partner broke the relationship off I never found a place of safety or holding where I could feel and shed my grief. It saddens me to think of all that I went through in the ensuing years of my addiction with all of that grief and unresolved pain locked up inside me.
In my marriage I tried to start to deal with it but that upset my husband who also lost his father at a similar age to me. And it took a few years into sobriety for feelings to thaw. I remember in the early days though two powerful dreams I had where my father visited me and encouraged me to leave the old toxic path behind. Lost relatives are energetically around us after they die, I firmly believe that.
In 1993 I could not yet know the trauma and grief I carried was ancestral on both the maternal and paternal sides. Only later years of healing and sensing and doing emotional recovery work as well as being given information about our ancestral history has shown me this and given me heart insights. I feel now more compassion for every single member of my family as I see they did the best they could with the level of insight they had but most of them are happy to float on the surface rather than look down into the ancestral issues, so sadly in our family we have patterns of emotional disconnection and distance which keep certain issues hidden and repeating. I can only do my own emotional recovery work though and in recognising the links to the past start to break the entanglements I have been caught up in as a soul. My task is to bring that awareness to light. To see the part that fear played as well as the lack of holding and a safe space and then to find and create that for myself now so I that I can stay close to the light and not be so beseiged as a soul by past darkness. As Carl Jung said what remains unconscious in our family history so often becomes our fate, only consciousness work at midlife can open our eyes and lead us on a journey of healing and discovery in which we find how complex issues are that plague us and what deep roots they have.
Lately I am relying a lot on the power of prayer. I am aware that a higher power or force of love needs me to live in love and that that love is really the antidote for fear and unresolved grief.. Everyday I ask for my fears to be held and not overpower me. I ask for help not to over ride my own boundaries as I learned to do in my family. I ask for protection and care and safety so I can continue this awesome journey a day at a time. I am coming to believe in the force of love and that I can choose to align myself with it. Love wants us to face our fears and to see what we bury in darkness. It asks us to be honest, even if that confronts others. It asks us to be true to the call of our hearts and our souls which need our protection and care and can then extend that same protection, care and compassion to others. Love also asks us to give rather than withhold what our souls and other souls needs so that the force of love can be demonstrated and thrive in all our relationships.