A sense of connection is so necessary on any day to feeling like we can live with a sense of happiness and even joy. Sadly in these Covid times there is bleak news everyday on the radio and across the internet of deaths and fear and protest, but it seems to me that though this is one dimension of reality it is essentially important for our soul and spirit as well as our ongoing mental healthy that on any day we find things or sources of a sense of uplift or inner filling and joy that help us to rise.. And it has become clearer and clearer to me lately that a lot of this is also down to where I put my focus during the day in terms of active bodily involvement, even if in something more ‘passive’ like meditation.
When I focus on the painful things I get pulled down further into pain (a spiral of trauma vortex). I do not think avoiding necessary pain or challenging feelings is the way out either, as in my experience allowing myself to open to the flow of feelings that wants to rise is super important on any day as well as finding a way to give them voice even if this meets with judgement or opposition from others.
Lately, too, I have been thinking a lot about those two concepts of flow and connection. In his work with multi-generational trauma after dealing with its impact not only in his own life but in the lives of his many clients Mark Wolynn found that when a flow of connection or love gets stopped, arrested, torn away or severed in families then problems of connection continue to manifest along the family line and impact us in many painful ways. In some families (and this is something Kat and I were discussing in therapy today) one person may be excluded, cut out or chosen at the target of all of the ‘bad’ or shadow projections, this person may have attributes that are not the same as other members, they may also be trying to give expression also to wounds or alternatively severing of connections and inclusion as well as love that happened at reactions to painful events such as crime, injury, death, loss or illness further back..
Also in emotionally neglectful or damaged families, roles will often be assigned that then block the ability of that person to be and express as they truly are.. When such flow of expression gets blocked then lack of joy results, a kind of inner deadness and lack of connection with a true source of being as well as resulting in many different forms of depression.. Sadly depression is so often misjudged and misunderstood, there may be a stigma for those who bear the darker feelings that the other members do not really want to face or embrace.
However such exile may come with its ‘gifts’. Those of us who do not fit the ‘norm’ may look to other more nourishing forms of expression and connection : music, art, nature, poetry, dialoging or connection with inner archetypal energies, 12 step groups with those willing to be emotionally open, ‘real’ and vulnerable. Archetypal forms of protection may also step in . For example a blogger friend of mine who was brutally abused and confined by a psychotic mother and emotionally abandoned by his father found comfort and protection from a Raven that he discovered in his inner world.. He has mentioned to me many times that he is still attempting to give voice to this experience of the Raven which is also associated for him with many traumatic memories of his past abuse that often only appear now as body symptoms. He credits the Raven being a part of his salvation and also perhaps associated to his absent father as protector.
On some level if we are exiled or abused or neglected by our family we will never be able to look to them to be seen or healed.. Our search of necessity must take us out and away and a lot of the work we need to do may concern undoing the powerful inner connection to persecuting or shaming, judgemental ‘introjects’ that are placed or down loaded into us by the person or people who did most damage to us, out of their own trauma and damage… even if only by unconsciously passing it down.
My own persecutor and shaming inner critic has assumed many forms in dreams and in life.. In the video I shared on Saturday by Melanie Tonia Evans she spoke of how many of us who lack a solid sense of inner self protection and self value are made vulnerable to narcissists whose condemnation of us mirrors our own internalized downgrading voices.. These can be so powerful and it may not be easy for us to see that we have attracted an external version of something that lives within..
Inner protective figures that are positive may also work to block what Highly Sensitive Person therapist Elaine Aron calls ‘linkages’ to those who would not be like our original abusers at all.. That said it is best to be protected and even to live in denial for a time because such denials and protections are necessary so we do not lift the lid on pain we are not yet full equipped to deal with.. building a strong container may take many years in therapy until we can finally feel ‘safe’ enough to have and experience our past feelings which as a child would have been impossible in the absence of truly engaged ‘love.’ As Ross Rosenberg points out in his work on co-dependent wounding (to which he gives the name Self Love Deficit Disorder) often these feelings may not be fully accessible to us except through confusing or at times mystifying flashbacks.
Release of our pain also requires we have containers or places and persons to hold an open, permissive, non judgmental (or most essentially non shaming) space for us.. this will not be possible in our family of origin or even in some friendships we develop out of our core wounding.
Access to our pain also perversely gives us access to our blocked and hidden joy as well.. There may be a deep deep mourning for all we were not allowed to experience in our young life that rises up with the acknowledgement of the full extent of the wounding.. But when we see finally that none of what happened to us was really our fault at all, then we may start to touch base with a totally new form of and foundation of joy as well as a profound base of self love and self championing. When an inner part of us can allow those traumatized parts a voice and can hold then and help them to release what they bodily know to be true (and the bodily impacts of trauma will, in fact, live on until they are addressed) then our sense of freedom and wholeness expands as well.
In time we may even be able to feel real compassion for the children in our parents who were wounded too and just passed that wounding down… Louise Hay does a very powerful evening meditation in which she helps us to visualise our own inner child connecting with the wounded inner child of both parents. Even if our parents did not consent to change or even acknowledge their own abuse or neglect or cut offs, being able to see how powerless they then were may help us and this is the kind of healing work we may even be able to do after they are no longer with us.. Such work does not mean we absolve or minimize the level of pain, simply that we depersonalize it.. As personal as it may feel. If our parents are still living some may not even want to spend a lot of time around them (and this goes for siblings and other relatives too) , but never the less opening our hearts and minds and souls and bodies to embrace the hidden truth of the soul’s inner longing to be connected in a loving and gentle way can be profoundly freeing in my experience.
My own experience is also that that inherited pain lives on deep inside of my energy body, present in certain energy centers, such as the sacral area or ‘bowl’ just above the base of our spine as well as around the heart neck and throat. Trapped or blocked emotions may be swallowed down or kept in a state of suspension and there are certain exercises that I have found especially helpful in releasing them such as making sounds or tones that set up an inner vibration or even screaming (alone or in a confined space or even under water) there is also a technique that Light Warrior Kyle Grey calls the venom breath which I have found to be especially helpful in releasing repressed rage..
Yet most powerful of all is the inner flow of love longing we may have had to stem in the face of a rejecting, shaming or emotionally absent parent.. This is where connecting imaginatively and inwardly to inner beings of compassion, empathy and love can help us.. We may each have our own version of just what such figure may represent that powerful source and force of unconditional love for us : Buddha, Allah, Jesus, Angels, perhaps even Dakinis or powerful inner demon figures such as those found in the Tantric religion that act as powerful inner transformers of darker emotions…for me it was loving inner Goddess figures that stepped in to give me that missing love at a time I was in complete isolation and before I managed to find a good therapist.. these loving figures managed to hold me and keep me safe until I could find a human person to value me, mirror me and reflect back to me all of the positive goodness of myself I so long ago lost the way to helping me, through her example to show where and how best to practice self care and self love, something that I must take action each day towards..