I thought a lot about shame and the need to appear a certain way today after reading a recent post from Sara’s on her blog The Wishing Tree. In that post she spoke of shame as a shrinking energy.. I was thinking of it too of the held in energy of shame being a lot like a brace, or straight jacket after posting my poem, Braces last night.. I feel that sense around the time of my accident 4 to 7 pm of myself almost wanting to burst out of my own body, skin and heart, as well as of being thrown around and spun (as I was during the second accident in 2005) I recognise not all of this is associated with shame though, its also about having to contain so much in a climate of family riven with so many energies as a very young child.
I also just remembered reading Sara’s post of how it first felt to stand up in the rooms of AA at a few weeks sobriety and share for the first time. I felt flooded with shame, it was like a hot energy flooding my body with wild fire, it contained a fear of rejection and a sense of ‘badness’ and as though I was dying or melting. I was so conscious too of all of those faces of other AA members looking at me and this was my first attempt to talk about where alcohol had taken me.. Now nearly 27 years on I know a lot more about shame binding its a concept John Bradshaw developed of how our feelings when not received or mirrored or actively negated or disallowed in childhood then become bound in shame. What this means is that we cannot have those feelings without feeling drenched in anxiety and flooded in shame..
I just got back from visiting with my sister and I was conscious of my energy being fast and very talkative while there, almost like I was jumping out of my skin, and of how her body was so still and shut down and yet she was receptive too on some level. There was a sign of life in that she showed me she had been doing mindfulness coloring in and even talked about the art therapist at the hospital who had been trying to encourage her to express herself through art for so long.. She then took me into the art room and we looked at a lot of pieces done by patients.. some of them were brilliant and my sister said to me ‘You used to be very good at art.” That is true and I had a brilliant art teacher I loved up until Year 10 but when she left and we got another teacher, art lost its lure for me.
Anyway back to the idea of being so bound up in shame that we become almost dead or straight jacketed. We may also learn to hold our breath in response to the high anxiety of the parent themselves running around with so much pent up emotion they had to repress in childhood too, bursting out sideways or certain emotions or fears (grief, helplessness) masquerading under other ones (anger, high energy, hyper rational control). Emotion then becomes doubly confusing and scary to us, we are not allowed to have our own without shame, but one parent or even both is having a lot of emotion hidden under acting out and that becomes an experience where in we begin to feel an ongoing sense of anxious hypervigilance. No name is given to the emotions either enabling us to make sense of anything.
Joining the dots on this is helping today as I had a mini melt down with my sister this afternoon. She was talking of how much time my brother is spending on doing a house design for her son and I just burst into tears of frustration and said to her “see he has all of this time to do designs but no time to sort our inheritance, we may as well not exist, it is not even as if we matter and we cannot turn to him and ask for anything” followed by floods of tears and a deep deep feeling of impossibility and too much around all of the family stuff for me.. I was then drenched with the thought which I articulated that it would have been better not to be born due to all the trauma my body has not only gone through but had to witness other family members go through. The outburst must have been a little loud as one of the male nurses came in to see if I was okay.. The crying went on for some time, it was a deep grief and sense of helplessness coming out of me at that stage.
Going to see my sister takes me into a weird reality.. while I had the meltdown it is hard to explain but a flood of about 30 or more memories and pivotal moments in time just washed through me (almost like when you are dying and your life runs by you in a stream of flashbacks). There was the feeling of myself trapped in the car, unable to breathe, terrified as paramedics came over me from the back, the memory of holding my other sister’s hand on the night before she died, the memory of trying to hold Mum up too, on her last night. There was the image of meeting my husband and the cycling through the long cow parsley towards the meadows at Granchester in late summer round sunset with him, as well as a memory of our lovely long narrow garden with a walnut tree and the squirrel who ran along it, visions of snow covered fields we walked over when snow fell on Dec 28, 2000. Then shifting to back in the Mugga Way house with Dad with music playing on a soft summer afternoon, then memories of my sister after her suicide attempt all bloated up with toxic effects of the chemicals in ICU. Time had actually splintered and bled into different portions while all of this was going on around 3.30 pm, while the emotions flooded out with breathlessness. My sister could not say much.. We just let it wash on and pass.
Anyway I wanted to give some of this a voice in my blog this afternoon. It felt like the brace of frozen or blocked feeling, repressed aliveness and frustration/shame surrounding me dissolved, dislodged or loosened a little when I had the meltdown… could never have been as relieved as I was to get home to the cool sanity of my house and be greeted by the lovely Jasper.. Maybe this is all occurring as part of eclipse season as I noticed at eclipse times the layers between different layers of experience and reality melt in some kind of way. It is a strange and difficult process, difficult to articulate in words but I will continue to try to give some kind of form and expression to the mystery of life and growth and layers melting experience here in my blog daily.
I see things now with my family a lot differently than I used to and see the part my own resistance plays tinged with older feelings around what my parents carried or could not allow. I know my feeling that it would be better to not be born is not right, for today I shared about feeling myself beloved.. perhaps the truth is that these feelings and thoughts just exist somewhere deep within us and get stirred up at times, only to disappear and go to sleep at times. The truth is that reality and time is multi-layered and multi-dimensional just as we are multi-layered and multi-dimensional beings.. And emotions come and go and as an empath being with others I am tied to by blood may mean that while with them I experience not only my emotions but theirs as well. I do not know, as much is a mystery.. I just know I don’t long as much for family to see me who never ever could.. To think they could get it was hubris and to want that was bound to end in disappointment.. it only broke my heart into a million pieces hoping to be seen in my family, for so often it seemed their eyes and hearts and attention were so often turned to look the other way.