Hidden heartbreak

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How much hidden heartbreak is there

Held in the centre of so many lives

Living on silently in wordless spaces

Put to one side

While the quest to survive is undertaken

In a precarious world

Is it any wonder

That sometimes people find it hard to rest

Or are so often haunted

And in life and love there are so many tests

That often stretch us to breaking point

As we make the effort to reach again for love

Out of the yawning void of  emptiness

But until the wound is tended

Won’t our heartbreak just lead us on

More and more fruitless quests

As we try to fill up an empty space

We need to hold in consciousness

Surely in time

We become older and wiser

But is it any wonder that at times

We also give up

On the search for love out there

For often we have suffered to gain the wisdom

That nothing lasts for ever

And that eventually there will come a time

When our heart breaks again

As those we love die or betray

The deepest promises they made

And yet still

We must find a way to go on living

While we carry silently

This hidden heartbreak

With us every day

The dark encounter with the soul

I believe the soul is the most authentic part of us connected to our authentic self, and for many of us it is a journey to find the way towards it, a way which often leads through a lot of undoing of conventions and conditioning for those of us who arrive on this earth looking and feeling deeper and hearing the beating of a very different drum that we may have tried to dance to but been judged for.

And then if just happened to lose our way, the path of return may lie through the gates of hell, torture, ‘insanity’ or suicide or attempted suicide, for it seems that if the psyche can set up a protector inside of us that would rather us die than live an inauthentic life that is not true to our soul, isn’t it in some way better that we go back to the spiritual realms and try for a new incarnation?

I have also been thinking about how someone’s suicide may benefit learning and growth in the world and the lives of others.  I was listening to a brief interview with the parents of teenager Dolly Everette who committed suicide due to bullying abuse.  I posted a post earlier in the year about her calling attention to the issue.


What her parents said was they were not taking things seriously enough.  Dolly had done a drawing of a girl doing a backward bend that said this “Speak Even if Your Voice Shakes.”  At this stage the bullying had been going on for some time.

The soul has to find it’s voice, it must sound out its authentic note, but what if killing voices in culture and society and bullies act to try to destroy this voice or light?  Is it not then a case of a bright light being rejected from the world?  The soul then chose to retreat and the aftermath had lessons for many and would promote more awareness and clarity and determination to see this kind of thing ie bullying nipped in the bud or would be a very intense ‘wake up call’ for certain people!

We should be mindful that often a breakdown is really a breakthrough, it is a breaking down of a false self that hides the kernel of the true self or soul, the dark night of the soul acts on us similarly.  In it what the darkest part is, is a grieving for what was lost or never found a way to express in this world that may not be consciously known (yet!) but is trying to make itself known.  Medication can only help us so far to find the way back to authentic self hood.  Many die along the way.  And it takes enormous strength to keep going sometimes in a culture ruled by illusions and shame, illusions and shame we must pierce through on the dramatic path of soul retrieval.

Who says?


Who says

Rain doesn’t fall when the sky is blue

That you cannot get a wider view

From sinking down so deep inside

And finding heaps of different ways to hide

Who said that the world is always round?

And that peace is always to be found

In happiness?

Sometimes I think they people things upside down

For I have learned how often

A smile actually hides a frown

And often the clown

Is the loneliest person

At the party

When life is dark

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When life is dark

Where do you go to feel the light again?

Surely there is a place

Where a flame is still burning

Deep down in our soul

If we just don’t agree to be the willing accomplices

To the dimming of that spark

But there are times too

When a dark storm

Obliterates all that was bright

We stand oh so solitary and all alone

As wild winds all about us rage

And everything is thrown about

Helter Skelter

And for some of us there is no shelter

No way out

And so we are hit by flying debris

And lots of shame

For not ever having had a place

To call home

To protect us from the wind and rain

Why is it that we so often blame ourselves

When these wild winds blow

And for our lack of protection or direction

When we were never really ever helped

To find the guiding light

That is all covered over

But still somewhere

However dimly alight

I had to say no!

I had to say no to about the 20th request from Scott today.  Its burning me up inside to do this and it means he cannot get out of where he is for his birthday.   I feel like the biggest heel at the moment but I have been helping and helping this guy for over 5 months now and I have just had enough.  He tries every guilt and manipulative tactic and plead on me and its breaking my heart but I consulted my inner guidance and it said a firm no!  I know I am going to be wrestling with this over the weekend and I am keeping my phone off so I don’t have to deal with texts.   I feel I just have to stand alone at present.  Being pulled on like this all the time is actually hurting me and the message I get is to shift my focus away.  But does this mean I am abandoning him? Even if so I have to remember he is an adult.  This is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Understanding the Protector-Persecutor complex and its link to dissociation and child hood trauma

Being held hostage by an inner persectuor-protector figure in our inner world is common for those of us who were highly sensitive and suffered significant childhood trauma or insecure, anxious or broken attachments.  It is an issue dealt with comprehensively by Elaine Aron in her book  The Undervalued Self.  In chapter six of the book she outlines what this inner complex is and why it exists drawing on the work of psychological analyst Donald Kalsched. (See my previous post :


The Persecutor-Protector needs to be understood and worked with by those of us who want to stop isolating in fantasy totally (not that we won’t still want to introvert which is important for the creative amongst us and for touching base with our inner world and life) and convincing ourselves we are not skilled or gifted enough to have a valuable contribution to make to the world.

I will open this post with a quote taken from Elaine’s book.

A protector-persecutor that arises from insecure attachment is often the harshest.  In these cases the protector may replace the missing maternal or paternal presence with an addiction, whether to smoking, alcohol, work, or something else.  Or it may create a vision of perfect love the child never received.  It encourages the unbearable craving and yearning while undermining or belittling things in the world that may actually satisfy some of the craving.  It says they are not enough, or not real, just lies or illusions, or will not work out in the long run.

Since attachment trauma often involves an unbearable separation, such as divorce or the death of a parent, the protector-persecutor very often rules out love because it brings the risk of loss, which, it supposes,  you cannot bear, as you could not when it happened before.  Until you work out your own answer to these scenarios, it’s impossible to convince the persecutor-protector that you can live with the pain of separations and loss, that you can tolerate in future what you could not in the past…..

(however) the good news is that as you struggle to accept the fact that all relationships eventually end, you may become far more prepared for loss than those who are secure because they had good childhoods.

When the persecutor-protector keeps you from being intimate with someone you love, do not give up.  Freeing yourself to love is perhaps one of the greatest challenges a person with a troubled past can face, and even a partial victory must be acknowledged for the triumph that it is.  Further, the undervalued self simply cannot be healed without finding some freedom to love.  It is linking and love that take you out of ranking and undervaluing.

The protector-persecutor either as a unit or in one of its two forms, tries to break down every link you make, both outer links with friends and inner links that would end the dissociation it wishes to maintain.  However, you can see why your attempts to dialogue with the innocent (inner child) might lead to mysterious resistance.

Emotions, memories, current thoughts and behaviours, and bodily states related to a trauma can all be dissociated.  Memories may be repressed, literally unlinked from consciousness.  Or your emotions may not be linked to current memories or events.  You may feel numb, lacking all emotion, or all too conscious of emotions that seem to arise for no reason. Your body may be unlinked from memories, so you remember the events of the trauma but have no idea what happened to your body during it.  Your body will still be dissociated from your thoughts, with the result that you are hardly aware of its needs.  Or the body does not link with your actions, and you feel unreal or detached as you go through the day….you do things that make no sense or are self destructive but your behaviour is not linked to its real causes.  You may have stress related illnesses because memories, feelings, or thoughts are pushed down in the mind then arise in the body.  Or you may have recurring nightmares that seem unrelated to anything going on in your life.

As for outer links the persecutor-protector makes every linking situation seem to be about ranking, usually with you as the inferior, although it can also make you feel superior – “he’s not good enough for me” – if that will keep you out of a real, close, lasting relationship.  The persecutor-protector might allow you to link in  a limited way with someone who likes you by creating a false self that adapts to the world, but you know you are not really connected or authentic.

Using examples from her real practice Aron shows how clients dreams often contain persecutor figures and details the means it uses to break links, just as the witch in the fairytale of Rapunzel tries to disconnect the prince from ever reaching Rapunzel in her tower by cutting off her long hair.   This occurs due the prevalence of earlier losses that were never fully integrated into conscious awareness and the fear of not being able to survive the feelings should it ever happen again.

We can work to become more aware of how the complex operates in our own lives.  Some of these are listed below and appear in Aron’s book and they correspond to some of the tactics avoidants or insecure people use to maintain distance or sabotage relationships with others:

  • When we are supercritical of the other, especially after times of connection.
  • When we over idealise to the degree that minor failures are blown out of proportion.
  • When we mistrust or don’t bother to get a reality check or talk things over
  • When you feel crushed if someone doesn’t want to be with you all the time.
  • When you look down on others for wanting to be with you more than you want to be with them.
  • When you decide “it’s all over” as soon as there is the slightest conflict.
  • When you are obsessed with concerns one of you is needy, dependent, or weak.
  • When you cannot stop thinking about the other leaving or betraying you or dying.
  • When you cannot see any flaw at all in the others, as if he or she is a god.

In addition Aron outlines some of the unconscious rules the persecutor-protector can use to keep us safe.

  • No intimacy.   Never open up about personal issues, ignore or belittle the disclosures of others, be flippant or rude, leave if someone wants to be closer
  • No arguing.   Always be nice, end relationships as soon as there is a whiff of conflict or if the other is angry, walk out on arguments (rather than asking for time out)
  • No growth.  Turn down opportunities or invitations to do anything new, do not aspire, act stupid so no one will think of you when an opportunity arises.
  • No dating or marriage.  Postpone, be unattractive, stick to crushes or fantasies, say with someone who isn’t good for you, have affairs with unavailable people, be forever young or flirty when it’s not necessary.
  • No strong feelings.  Stay in control at all times, don’t cry, get angry, be terminally cool.
  • No sex or enjoyment of it.  Avoid, be mechanical, split off, get numb with substances before hand, remove all emotion from sex.
  • No believing someone who say he or she cares about you.  Bat off compliments and expressions of caring and affection.  Don’t believe they are genuine.
  • No asking for help.  Be ruthlessly self sufficient, be suspicious, never complain, withdraw.
  • No honesty.   Just say what you think others want to hear.  Be careful with what you express especially when asked to be yourself.
  • No hope.   Don`t expect help, joy or good things.  Do not place faith in anyone.
  • No standing up for yourself.  Just let others say or do whatever they want, don’t cause trouble, don’t expect justice, respect or fairness.
  • No trusting.  Don’t be fooled; they don’t really care about you (a favourite thing the protector will say to you inwardly.)

As you can see its a pretty harsh joyless confined existence living with a strong persecutor protector complex inside of us, but we can work to understand these rules and challenge the p-p on them when it tries to use them to keep ourselves and others in line.

Your goal is to convince the p-p that breaking its rules and taking risks is working out for you and that you want more freedom…

Listen to its disagreements because ignoring it wont work according to Aron… the p-p needs to be heard but challenged to give up the limiting rules and restrictions it uses to keep you trapped.





Maybe here

Deep inside this soul

Is enough love

Maybe here inside this heart

I can find shelter from the storm

When you are gone

And I imagine

The possibility we may never meet

That the ones who want to kill and maim

Have captured you

And I will never see your face

Oh my darling I will not lie

And tell you my heart doesn’t ache

But I also have come far enough through pain

To realise that I can contain all of this

And despite deepest darkness

Light does come again

A way to navigate the path of loss

That leads me through the middle

Of wind and storms and rain

I thought would ultimately undo me someday

But some how I survived

When I was able to offer

My own soul

Enough love and compassion

To bring myself through

So tonight as late winter darkness grows

And filtered light throws a luminescence

All around the room

I remind myself of two things


To dwell and rest quietly

In a mind and heart centred in love


To realise

What ever circumstances bring

I can bear this

Because deep within

I know I am enough

Risking change


I find change frightening and as I look back I have aborted the possibility of so many potential new beginnings and opportunities due to this fear.  Today I am sharing this meditation from Tian Dayton’s book Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On, on the subject of risking change.

Today I recognise that all growth requires change,and all change involves risk and that these are scary and difficult.

If I am not experiencing discomfort in my feelings, then I am not really changing.

Deep meaningful change is hard won.  It is not easy.  It requires courage and commitment.

When I am not willing to take any risks, when I chose only to stay safe, my life becomes progressively more narrow.

When I am not willing to risk being hurt, my relationships become more shallow.

When I am not willing to search for a Higher Power, I have to make do with the stories and descriptions of other people’s God.

I have the courage and willingness to change.

Observe always that everything is the result of change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing life loves so well as to change existing forms and make them into new forms.

Marcus Aurelis