Having to turn away from relationships as a child because we cannot find necessary understanding and support in our family does not make our lives easy. Feeling unsafe and learning we can only trust ourselves may be the result. Counter dependency can sometimes be touted as the best way to go when we are healing but until we have managed to find the necessary empathy for and unconditional acceptance of all of our feelings being alone with them may be even harder if we have not yet made sense of the deep pit of aloneness that naturally opens up inside of us lacking that necessary support as a child. As I have shared lately a lot of pain is coming up for me when I think of how alone I felt growing up and how unsafe I felt turning towards others, these feelings make me realise that turning towards substances was the only alternative I believed I had in the circumstances.
After the traumas in my life and family multiplied from 1979 to when Dad died in 1985 and for the 8 years after that spent in active addiction with so much bubbling away inside, I was so often on my own.. In a way I was lucky overseas when I was travelling from 1985 to 1987 in that I did meet up with others I could travel with or live. But never once did I feel safe opening up about my trauma and often I was judged for acting out. Despite this I know people did continue to love me as I was, they just did not understand my level of carried abandonment trauma and the cold hard fact was I did not always feel safe.
Reading in Pete Walkers book on Complex PTSD about needs not met in childhood really made me cry sharing a lot of it in therapy today with Katina.. I had to hide the way I felt about Mum and Dad not allowing me any time at all and especially when it came to the portion about parents who allow their children to feel a sense of joy and that life is a gift, well that part really hit me hard. As my addiction worsened my ability to have fun and be spontaneous became less and less and if I was to have fun in the drinking years it always involved being numbed out in some way.. This really struck me too watching the series Everything I Have Learned About Love in which one of the lead characters, Maggie is slowly descending into addiction.. on one bender she cannot stop the compulsion to keep consuming more and more alcohol and drugs and jumps in a cab to go to Liverpool from London at 2 am simply to keep partying. The ride there costs 200 pounds. Later, when she comes to, she finds out she has no money left to get back to London. It made me sad to think that this kind of drinking is looked upon as some kind of fun or badge of honor, as if trashing ourselves shows we are ‘growing up’ and undergoing a natural and expected right of passage.. In that series the second main character Birdy who is in a committed relationship is the one considered to be having no fun.
Facing what I needed in childhood and did not get means it has been easier to go more softly on myself today.. I went to reach out to a lady I met last week in a store after my therapy and lunch in town to say hi today, I remembered as we were chatting last week that she knew my Mum so today I made a point of going to say hello and we ended up having a lovely long chat, she really was so very kind and warm about my sister who is still so unwell in hospital and my Mum who died in 2017. I also bought a beautiful blue woollen cardigan I had my eye on for the last month.. Treating myself like this was a good sign. I was not as hard on myself when I got home as I usually am either.
It occurs to me lately that for so long I felt I had no permission to live as my true self and have valid wants and needs.. Often I would shame myself for them. I am noticing often I go into a parental or judgemental role as well. This may have to do with my astrological nodes too being in the polarity Aquarius to Leo.. The North Node in Leo is at 18 degrees and my Mum and this exact same placement. The focus of south node in Aquarius shows a tendency for ultra independence (almost a counter dependency of sorts) and too much emphasis on detachment and intellectualization in relationships.. With the south node here we tend to keep cool and keep our distance when really we need to engage fully from the heart, learn to be less serious and celebrate creativity and joy. The north node in Leo is about opening up to the sunny, radiant and creative inner child without shame or self consciousness.
Lately I do tend to touch base with this part of me in my life more I am there when a beautiful poem comes to me on a wild walk, when I am freely with my pupster Jasper in nature or loving music and dancing…This spontaneous happy part of me was so often frowned upon as a child, so in the past I have also tended to shame this part of myself too. Writing this calls to mind a reading from the Al Anon reader Courage to Change which speaks of someone from a home of neglect and alcoholism who lost touch with the part of themselves that cried when the dog died or loved to wish upon stars and gaze at the night sky..
John Bradshaw in his healing shame writings has written a book about this part of us called Creating Love I must explore that book again. He talks of this joyous child as being vey soulful and in touch and open to life..
When as a child we are told not to be a nuisance, not to ask too many questions, not to bother anyone, we come to feel we are a burden and must take ourselves off alone.. We fear to open ourselves up to others in our innocent self, perhaps unconsciously terrified that this part of us will be rejected to frowned upon, especially in a society also riven with toxic shame. Sadly our parents probably went through the same shut down growing up.
Lately when i think of the joyless place my sister in the psychiatric ward has inhabited for many years and of how bound up, incapacitated and restricted my other older sister Judith was in those final years of her life medicated and crying in pain a lot of the time, it makes me so sad..
I also think that as women growing up in the 40s 50s ad 60s we may have had it harder. Especially in mid life when our emotions may open up in response to earlier wounding and we are negatively judged for it, we miss out on so much, on growing into our full emotional and spontaneous creative power. Being an emotional woman in this society is not easy, as its not easy being an emotionally in touch man…
As a woman often we are not meant to be angry, or sexual or wild, we are supposed to put others first and cow tow to men or others. This is an issue that Alison Daddo has addressed in her recent book on menopause that explains what an important passage it is for woman into a life of great autonomy as they age..and a freedom from the bondage of a narrow range of stereotypical roles ordained by the patriarchal system.
It may still take me a long time to free myself from all of the many prohibitions and restrictions I was limited by growing up with so much missing and so much trauma, but recognizing lately what I did not get growing up is helping me to love and support my true self more.. I often still tend to try too hard in the wrong direction at times, but at least I am gaining more clarity lately into exactly how and why I did being to turn away from myself and others as I had to in order to survive growing up.
I will close this post out with a short video from Pete Walker on freeing ourselves by feeling our feelings that I listened to earlier.
2 thoughts on “Going it alone : evening reflections”
I suffer from childhood trauma due to abandonment and neglect. I can really relate to the things you are going through, especially feelings of shame and unworthiness. Your posts are really helping me to push positively forward every day. Thank you so much!
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Wow that is so awesome to read.. I know so many of us suffer this.. I really feel so grateful you reached out and to know that. Big hug we are all healing so much right now, I firmly believe that.. I so appreciate you being here.