When anger is denied

Afer sharing a reblog of Twinkletoes post on Anger Turned Inward yesterday I have been thinking a fair bit about the subject.   Anger turned inward ties into issues of feeling unsafe expressing strong feelings, feeling powerless, frustrated, neglected and ignored when we really needed help and validation.  There is a deep despair and grief that we are left with when we are not responded to with empathy or helped to be effective with expressing our wants, needs and frustrations as children.  If we have no where to go with these feelings we often repress them or they fall to the level of our body.

If we were raised in a far older family we may have been left alone or ignored all the time. We may have been on the receiving end of bullying which is projected shame and may be due to the frustration of older siblings who were left alone to take care of us in the absence of parents or carried their own pain due to lack of emotional receptivity and nurture, we are then on the end of the projection of that siblings pain as well that gets dumped into us, and if we can’t express that to anyone its a set up for a host of later painful feelings of emotional isolation and depression

Some of us like my fellow blogger and I were sent to our rooms when angry.   I wasn’t locked in mine but I still felt alone there with my ‘big’ feelings I didnt quite know how to manage.  But I also know my Mum had those big feelings too and Dad didnt know how to cope so would go awol, laughing and joking about it (which on one level was better than exploding) however that was a set up for me for a passive aggressive emotional style.

In the passive agressive style we don’t feel safe enough to set boundaries or say no or even allow for the fact we have needs which may differ from others.  We may equate self assertion with abandonment, if we were on the receving end of a lot of aggression when young we may come to fear self assertion believing it can only happen in a way that hurts and we may either fear hurting others or losing their approval.  If we have known the deep pain of feeling abandoned we fear being the one who abandons others and so we can end up putting other’s needs first.

In my own family I didnt see healthy self assertion modelled a lot and being left alone I learned to try to be needless and wantless, after all there was no one there so I was better to lock it all away or deny it.  I think at a young age I learned to escape into books and TV.  I can still do this at times.  I remember in a past relationship if my ex called and a show was on I liked often I would not take his call.  That may or may not be okay, I am not sure but surely connection to a human should be more important than a show.

I have learned a lot through reading. I sometimes think readers of my blog may get a bit frustrated though as I am always blogging about something I have read.  Escape is not always a bad thing, only when it diverts us from dealing with life and complexities.  That said some complexities we may wish to side step, if we are an empathic intuitive.  We don’t always have to be emotionally available.

Anyway there are some good books out there to help with understanding the role anger plays in our lives and whether or not we have learned to express it in healthy way and listen to what it is telling us in functional ways or repress and deny it leading to depression and auto immune problems.  I have written blogs on the subject in the past but often they get buried way back due to the way my blog is set up and the fact that now, 4 years on I have a lot of posts.

For information of those who would like it though, some of the books on anger I have found especially helpful follow:

John Lee, The Anger Solution : The Proven Method for Achieving Calm and Developing Long Lasting Relationships.

This book is great as he explains very clearly the concept of age regression which is similar to an experience of an emotional flashback that can intensify the way we responde to incidents which trigger old experiences of pain, neglect or abuse.  He gives techniques for unpacking the past triggers.  Just understanding when we are age regressed helps us a lot in our emotional recovery.

Beverley Engel, Honour Your Anger : How Transforming Your Anger Style Can Change Your Life.

Dr Les Carter, The Anger Trap : Free Yourself from the Frustrations That Sabotage Your Life.

And for those whose passive aggressive anger style may come from a fear of abandonment due to displeasing others a very helpful book on learning to self assert honestly is :

Harriet B Braiker, The Disease To Please : Curing the People Pleasing Syndrome.

I am sure there are many other wonderful books out there.  There is no substitute for good therapy to work with the roots of anger and self assertion as these are such important issues when we are dealing with depression.   I hope some of this information may be of help to others.

Tussle : a conundrum

Difficult night’s sleep last night after the revelations that came to light yesterday about my older sister (who is now dead) and her suicide attempt.   I felt very enmeshed coming out of yesterdays meeting with a family friend who is the oldest daughter of my god parents.  The background is that my godfather, Piet, left Holland with my father in 1938 to go to Indonesia.  Growing up Uncle Piet was more like a father to me, especially in later years after I got sober.  He validated my pain and struggle in my emotionally neglectful family to a great degree.  It was with he and my Godmother I went to stay after returning from overseas at 25.  I went there (overseas) a few months after Dad died and stayed 2 and a half years.  There was no place back home with my mother who was on the phone pleading with me to come home after sending me away and then told me when I arrived home she was remarrying.   I left shortly after to live in another town and my God parents took me in.  They took me back in when I fell pregnant in the darkest final years of my addiction and needed to have a termiantion as the sac with the baby ruptured.  My sister told me many years later my Mum was questioning whether she should support me or not at that time.  Thanks a lot Mum, when I needed you when the fuck were you ever there!!!  (This is past anger I am working on it!)

I woke in the middle of the night with all of this going around and around in my head.  A photo of my godfather sits on my bedroom table.  It was taken on the day of my wedding in 1993, he gave me away and we are hugging in the photo.  I cried a lot last night with missing him.   He died in 2003.  He was more emotionally there for me than my father ever was but perhaps if Dad had lived it may have been different.  The difference was Piet was not hell bent on becoming a millionaire and sadly in later years my Dad had less to do with him because Piet was only a ‘lowly’ mechanic.  I use that word to convey my Dad’s bias not mine

My Godmother and I had a difficult relationship after Piet died.  I felt upset because in final years they were trying to paint him as angry and full of dementia.  What was happening was that his maternal abandonment (his mother died when he was only 3) which had never been dealt with came to the fore.  His daughter was telling me yesterday how she spent a lot of time with him in the later years talking about it.  What if she had not done that and just tried to judge him as my Godmother did?   I knew myself what he had endured and it was a part of our bond.

I like to believe my Godfather is around me in spirit.  I was praying to him last night.  I know he was in no way a perfect father and had heaps of flaws but he was the one male figure I felt close to.

I am having some residual anger towards my Mum.  My sister wanted to strangle her for all kinds of reasons.  I can get it.   I still have empathy for my Mum though, but at times its tough as she has never owned her own part in emotional abandonment.   She wants me to go and pick her up tomorrow night to take her to a function 10 minutes away.  Partly I dont want to do it.  I want to tell her to get a fucking taxi.   I dare not say it!  There I go miss ‘nice girl’.  Maybe I need to be honest.  Luckily I have therapy today so we can discuss this.  I try to compensate when I know my Mum and my other living sister are in pain.  My other sister’s suicide attempt 4 years ago came up yesterday too.  It was the first time Mum could unburden her story about it with someone.  I wish to God my Mum was in therapy, all this pain is too much to carry alone, its why her pelvis fractured several times and why she is now on constant pain meds.  Feeling the feelings and being honest enough to face her part in things would free her.  But she wont do it.  I do feel compassion but I no longer want to sacrifice my life.

I am a bit scared at the moment as I have been reading a book on Radical Forgiveness in which the author claims that failing to forgive often leads to cancer and that often a broken heart proceedes breast cancer.  I had my heart broken in the few years before my cancer appeared.  I also had a lot of anger to my Mum in those years.  I want to heal it, but suppressing or denying it wont help either.  Its a conundrum for sure but at least its one I am gaining greater insight into lately.   Feedback and comments greatly appreciated

In touch with ourselves

Eternity

Just after I post a post on my blog I often find there comes into my mind a contrary view.  It could be something to do with the way I view the world, constantly questioning views and looking to see what lies on the other side.  In my last post I spoke about consistent loving emotional presence as an antidote to the agony, trauma, pain and suffering of BPD.  But after posting it I had a thought how the deepest connection we really need at any moment is to the compassionate wise loving self inside, that can so often be obscured by the inner critic and demoniser that lives inside painting everything black.

I had a really healing day with my Mum yesterday. I took her to the shops so she could buy a card for a friend’s 90th birthday.  We just strolled around a little as its hard for Mum to walk these days and then we sat down at the cafe in our local centre and had a piece of sour cherry and almond loaf with a juice.  We spoke of so many things.  I held her hand, I cried, I felt all the pain of our past and all we had lived through conflicts and fears as well as struggles and tears but also love.   I then drove her home and did some pottering in my garden.  My sleep was not too long in coming and it was deep with a few short break awakenings which is not how it has been over the past few nights where I woke up feeling swollen with undigested feelings and food on the days I connected with no one.

When I woke I thought of how in his book Mark Wolynn speaks of connecting to ourselves by placing a hand on our heart and just saying “I am here”.  I awake every morning with startle PTSD symptoms of push pull with body sensations that would be too complex to explain here but this morning instead when I woke up I just put my hand on my heart and said to myself “I am here”  “I will never leave you.”

I felt better and got up and slowly pottered around the house and garden, did some cleaning.  I had my juice and fruit and then wrote two blogs and then had eggs on toast.  I got to thinking after I posted my last post on needing someone there 24/7i healing from emotional abandonment how the one person who can be there for us 24/7 is actually us.  We can learn to be the unconditional loving presence we need in our own lives.  We can take that burden off of others.  We can find a source of joy to connect to on any day, whether it is music or a song we like to sing, or to looking a thing of beauty or reading an inspiring post.  We can make our life happy and content from within.  But only after we have processed any past pain that stands in our way.  And for this we initially need another person’s unconditional loving presence to teach us how to do that and be there for ourselves in a loving way no longer so beseiged by an attacking destructive inner critic.

When we feel this connection from within our emptiness disappears.  The emptiness we feel in certain conditions is actually for many of us a signal of a past life in which we were not connected to emotionally and so could not feel filled up or ‘real’.  We need to heal that deep disconnection and find a way to connect emotionally from within so that emptiness is no longer a source of pain but a place in which we can explore depths of our souls best known in silence and later able to be shared with others.  The deepest connection we long for is really deep inside us.

Combatting the “leprosy of mental illnesses”.

I have never been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by a professional.  My current therapist doesn’t use these kind of diagnoses and often tells me we are all on the borderline spectrum somewhere.  However I identify with several of the core symptoms and the difficulty feeling a secure sense of self, as well as being hyper-reactive to triggers of invalidation or abandonment due to the prevalence of these kind of traumas in my young and adolescent life.

I have intense compassion for those bloggers here and anyone who suffers from BPD which means I am always happy when I come across something that sheds light on one of the most stigmatising of mental illnesses and has been called “the leprosy of mental illnesses” by mental health professionals who themselves are often not able to tolerate the full spectrum of behaviours of the disorder if they don`t have strong understanding and therapeutic framework.

Today I found the book Beyond Borderline : True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder  in my local bookshop and was moved to tears well before I reached page 10.

Beyond

The following statistics enlightened me further to its widespread prevalence.

  1. More than 14 million Americans have the disorder making it more common than Bi Polar Disorder and Schizophrenia combined.
  2. 40 percent of people diagnosed as Bi Polar are, in fact Borderline.
  3. There is a inheritability factor of about 67 percent in BPD.
  4. 10 percent of sufferers of the disorder end up taking their lives.

Treatment and recovery from the disorder demands the establishment of a strong bond with a therapist who can help to contain the sufferer`s working through of complex abandonment and trauma issues that can lay hidden for years.   It demands also that the sufferer come to understand perceptual distortions which come to characterise the illness and function to split off pain and may block healing helping them to tolerate and de-escalate painful emotions and emotional triggers.

The book contains 24 personal stories from sufferers and sheds so much light on the illness.   These are people who have gone to the depths of hell, pain and terror that many will never know making us cognisant of the full register of emotional pain that underlies a condition that often functions to keep the sufferer trapped in the most terrilble emotional isolation.

The experiences shared,  show that BPD is a disorder that can be recovered from, if sufferers are willing to do the work and move towards psychological understanding that involves navigation, rather than splitting off of pain.   I highly recommend the book not only to those who suffer but those who seek to understand and in seeking that understanding will help us to address the stigma of a condition that so badly needs our empathy, insight and compassion.

The mother wound we carry

I wanted to share the following excerpt from Mark Wolynn’s excellent book on inherited family trauma : It Didn’t Start With You.   It is one of the most important books I have ever read, just sad I heard about it over 2 years ago and only just bought it.  What he shares of his own experience and understanding with healing multigenerational trauma in both his own life and lives of his clients is nothing short of remarkable.  He also uses the latest research conducted into epigenetics to support his claims showing how early stress and lack of nurture affects our neurological structure even in the womb, as well as how inherited trauma of a grandparent or great grandparent can be carried and communicated even along paternal (as well as maternal) streams of inheritance.  It is changing the way I am thinking about my own mother nurturance wound and the addiction that grew out of it.

To put it simply, we receive aspects of our grandmother’s mothering through our own mother.  The traumas our grandmothers endured, her pains and sorrows, her difficulties in childhood or with our grandfather, the losses of those she loved who died early – these filter, to some degree, into the mothering she gave our mother.  If we look back another generation, the same would likely be true about the mothering our grandmother received.

The particulars of the events that shaped their lives may be obscured from our vision, but nevertheless, the impact of those particulars can be deeply felt.  It’s not only what we inherit from our parents but also how they were parented that influences how we relate to a partner, how we relate to ourselves, and how we nurture our children.  For better or worse, parents tend to pass on the parenting they themselves received.

These patterns appear to be hardwired into the brain, and begin to be formed before we’re even born  How our mother bonds with us in the womb is instrumental in the development of our neural circuitry.  Thomas Verney says, “From the moment of our conception, the experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personaltity, emotional temperament, and the power of higher thought.”  Like a blueprint, these patterns are transmitted more than learned.

The first nine months outside the womb function as a continuation of the neural development that occurs within the womb.  Which neural circuits remain, which are discarded, and how the remaining circuits will be organised depend on how the infant experiences and interacts with the mother or caregiver.  It’s through these early reactions that a child continues to establish a blueprint for managing emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

When a mother (or father) carried inherited trauma, or has experienced a break in the bond with her mother (or father), it can affect the tender bond that’s forming with her infant, and that bond is more likely to be interrupted.  The impact of an early break in the mother – child bond – an extended hospital stay, an ill timed vacation, a long term separation – can be devastating for an infant.  The deep, embodied familiarity of the mother’s smell, feel, touch, sound, and taste – everything the child has come to know and depend on – is suddenly gone.

“Mother and offspring live in a biological state that has much in common with addiction,” says behaviour science writer Winifred Gallagher.  “When they are parted, the infant does not just miss its’ mother, it experiences a physical and psychological withdrawal… not unlike the plight of a heroin addict that goes cold turkey.”  This analogy helps to explain why all newborn mammals, including humans protest with such vigour when they are separated from their mothers.  From an infant’s perspective, a separation from mother can be felt as “life threatening.” says Dr, Raylene Philips, a neonatologist at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.   “If separation continues for a prolonged period,” she says, “the… response is despair….  The baby gives up.”

In my early life, I knew that feeling of giving up.  It came from my family.  What my mother didn’t get from her mother affected what she was able to give to me and to my sibling.  Although I could always feel her love shine through, much of her mothering was infused with the traumas in our family history – specifically the fact that her mother, Ida, lost both of her parents when she was two.

Orphaned at two, my grandmother was raised by her elderly grandparents, who earned a living peddling rags from a pushcart in the Hill District in Pittsburgh.  My grandmother adored her grand parents, and often lit up with she shared memories about how much they loved her.  But that was only part of the story – the part she could consciously remember.  A deeper story lay beneath her reach.

Before Ida was a toddler, perhaps even in the womb, she would have absorbed the sensations of her mother’s distress caused by the constant arguing, the tears and disappo8ntmets.  All this would have had a profound effect on the crucial neural development taking place in Ida’s brain.  Then, losing her mother at age two would leave her emotionally shattered.

It’s not only that my mother was raised by an orphan who couldn’t give her the nurturing she never got from her mother, my mother also inherited the visceral trauma of Ida’s separation from her mother at an early age.  Although Ida was present physically in my mother’s life, she was unable to express the depth of emotion that would support my mother’s life.  That missing emotional connection also became part of my mothers’ inheritance.

….

In order to end the cycle of inherited trauma in my family, and ultimately for my own healing, I realised that I needed to heal my relationship with my mother.  I knew I couldn’t change what had happened in the past, but I certainly could change the relationship we had now.

My mother had inherited her mother’s stress patterns, and so did I.  She would often clutch her chest and complain about feelings of agitation in her body.  I realise now that she was unconsciously reliving the fear and loneliness that rippled through our family, the terror of being separated from the one she needed most – her mother.

There is much more to the story of family patterns Mark inherited and finally uncovered and discovered after a long journey of seeking outside for answers to his own psychological anxiety and trauma issues.   Reading his account has made so much sense to me of the symptoms of separation anxiety I experience at exactly the time of day my own grandmother, widowed in her early 30s, left my own mother (aged 8) alone to go and clean offices.  The two times of day were 4 to 8 pm and in the early hours of the am.  These are the times of day I experience my own anxiety/panic issues.  I had a growing sense developing in later months that what I was experiencing at those times was not mine alone, that it didn’t start with me.  And that was the exact time of day I had my head trauma injury in 2005 a year after my husband and I separated as I ran from him and my mother out of fear they would not support me in my own deep grief which I now know relates to a mother separation wound going back 4 generations.

Mark’s evidence and experience of his own and in his clients life (which I will share more remarkable examples of in a following post) backs up my own.  His work with inherited family patterns is so important that I am going to make it focus of my following posts.  This is important knowledge so many of us need to have, in order to heal and end deeply entrenched patterns of emotional blindness, ignorance and blame that keep us separated from a profound psychological understanding.

Understanding abandonment depression : insights from James Masterson

Abandonment depression appears as a subject in a few of my posts.  I made a leap forward in my own recovery when I first began to become aware of the term just over a year ago following reading Pete Walker’s book on Complex PTSD where he deals with the subject in depth.  Abandonment depression is different to basic depression which can be a feeling of depletion or lowered energy following a loss of massive change of some kind in a person’s life.  When dealing with this kind of depression easy solutions of distraction for a time or a taking of pain relief to help when people find them selves in the critical stages will help.  In the case of abandonment depression we are dealing with something that will not be helped by these kind of solutions since it involves a core wound that must be understood, felt, mined and addressed through psychological work.

Here is how James Masterton describes the abandonment depression :

In the throes of the abandonment depression, a person will feel that a part of his very self is lost or cut off from the supplies necessary to sustain life.  Many patients describe this in graphic physical terms, such as losing an arm or leg, being deprived of oxygen, or being drained of blood.  As one patient put it : “I felt as though my legs would not work so I couldn’t possibly leave the house, and when I went to fix lunch I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to swallow.  And if I did I would probably throw it back up.”

At the darkest level of this depression, a person can despair of ever recovering her real self, and thoughts of suicide are not uncommon.  When one is brought low enough repeatedly, or for an extended period of time, it becomes increasingly harder to imagine oneself happy again or able to push through life with the strength and confidence with which the reasonably healthy go about their daily living. At this point a person can teeter on the brink  of despair, give up and consider taking her own life. If the separations they experience in their external lives are painful enough to reinforce the feelings of fear of abandonment, some will commit suicide.

(this is well beyond an acute episode of the ‘blahs’)… The roots of depression push farther into the past than seems apparent.  In time, true sources, eating away inside, make themselves known.  But initially they are well defended by the false self.

It is the nature of the false self to save us from knowing the truth about our real selves, from penetrating the deeper causes of our unhappiness, from seeing ourselves as we really are – vulnerable, afraid, terrified, and unable to let our real selves emerge.  Nevertheless, when the defences are down and the real self is thrown into situations calling for strong self assertion, situations that trigger the repressed memories of earlier separation anxieties and feelings of abandonment by the mother, the serious nature of the depression is glimpsed and felt.  At this point it is not uncommon for the patient to panic and slide down to the very bottom from which he convinces himself he will never recover.

(Panic hides fear of the rage underneath depression).  Depression and rage ride in tandem.  As depression intensifies, and comes to the surface of awareness, so does anger.  At first (the real reasons cannot be pinpointed)…rage is diffuse and projected onto outside sources (anger at life or the world or just angry in general…..Anger of the abandonment depression is far more intense and complex).  Anger that is part of the abandonment depression. has more damaging consequences.  Its intensity can cause bodily shaking, feelings of helplessness, feeling like a baby (age regression) and it comes from painful childhood experiences that may not be easily recalled because they are so solidly defended against.

Eventually in therapy real causes of the anger begin to become apparent but the anger is still defended against by being projected onto targets that are often stand ins or proxies….this occurs because feeling anger is associated with fear of rejection as well as fear of intimacy since in childhood being close came with difficulties and rejections.

Rage and fear (the) lead to panic.. Panic feeds on the fear that we cannot express our anger over abandonment.  It can be a claustrophobic strangling of energies, a tightening up of options : either we express our anger and risk losing the love of others or we deny the anger in order to remain in the helpless state of dependency and hold onto others.  As the panic grows, patients report that it feels like facing death or actually being killed.  Often this anxiety will be channelled into psychosomatic disorders such as asthma and peptic ulcers, each being a perfect metaphor for the underlying fear… A person with a peptic ulcer is often hungering for emotional supplies that were lost in childhood or that were never sufficient to nourish the real self.  As an adult, she is unable to find sources to supply the needed emotional support or to get through life without it.

The person living with (such a) death threat, or what is perceived as a death threat, hanging over his head necessarily leads a fearful life, in which every move to express hiself, to allow his rea self to emerge, is accompanied by the need to look over his shoulder in fear and panic… panic can escalate as the patient slowly becomes aware of the depression and anger that have been bottled up over the years.  The false self has blocked any expression of these feelings for so long that when they do manage to surface, even in the slightest way, the resulting panic can be paralysing and terrifying.  Fear of letting these feelings out into the open, even in therapy can mushroom into panic proportions.

Guilt is the fifth column behind.. the patient’s frontline of defences.  (This is not normal reasonable guilt but rather)… fed by the guilt we internalise in early childhood from the disapproval expressed by the mother for self actualisation or individuation……Not being able to face up to the internalised guilt about that (healthy) part of themselves, these individuals will suppress making any moves in forbidden direction and resort to old familiar clinging behaviour that they remember made them safe and good years ago.

(Clinging and guilt lead to…) helplessness.  Failure to activate the impaired real self (and) to deal with painful feelings.. which in the abandonment depression is abiding and total…. staying in unhealthy jobs and relationships, fearing moving on from old unhealthy patterns, even denying that we desire to.

James A Masterson, Fear of Abandonment, The Search for the Real Self

The anger against, fear of and panic due to devaluation of our true self internalised by the false self in the course of growing up lives on inside of us and must be faced on the path of healing.   Facing such internalised voices, feelings and fears means we must also confront the inner critic who has become hostile to the real self ever breaking free and asserting its real needs which bring with them the deep seated fear of abandonment by others that had its roots in the past.  Mastering our fear of abandonment and the abandonment depression is the price we pay to discontinue the inner self abandonment we face when we begin to become more conscious and aware of the real roots and aspects of the abandonment depression.

In the absence of love

I just reread one of my poems Girl Behind Glass about how when we seek for love outside from caregivers who will mirror and help us to access our true self and find nothing but emptiness or are ignored how we then have no choice but to turn back within often in sheer desperation.

As I was reading the poem it also occurred to me that in the absence of this real honest to goodness present love we actually use the solution of denial and lying to ourselves about what we did not receive, saying that we really did or if we didn’t it was probably our own fault or else there is something wrong with our perception.  This terrible denial solution leads us to turn against our inner world and to suffer from a profound inner schism.

I have just remembered while writing this the double bind theory of schizophrenia proposed by Gregory Bateson some years ago.  In this theory the child accurately perceives that a parent feels a certain way but when they offer that perception to the parent, the parent denies it which leaves the child questioning his or her own perception.  Its like looking in a distorted mirror and being returned a distorted reflection.  I tried to write a post about this a few years ago on WordPress called the Inverted Mirror.  I was never sure how well expressed my struggle to explain this confusing dilemma of perceptual distortion was though, an ongoing inner conundrum for me with my own self doubt formed by years and years of never being fully validated or learning how to self validate well.

I am thinking a lot about this today because I am seeing how much I also engage in a form of denial or just push aside perceptions and insights I can have into people.  My therapist notices it all of the time.  No sooner do I cut to the heart of something when an inner voice comes into to offer the opposite point of view or point out how ‘here I go again mixing things up”.  It truly is awful.

In the past it had been extremely difficult for me to be consistently able to stand by my own point of view and examining this dilemma I think it comes out of having to make choices to spend time with those who are not real or nurturing or wholey loving and honest due to there just being no one much like that around when I was growing up and even later in life.   It is becoming clearer and clearer to me how deeply alone I was growing up and well into late adolescence and early adulthood when multiple traumas hit.

The deep sense of aloneness and emotional hunger forced me to look in all the wrong places for connection as I grew and then turn increasingly to addiction to numb my true feelings about it.  Even well into sobriety trusting my inner feelings, being able to connect to them, feel, name and honour them without fear or shame has been a huge challenge for me.

It could be a breakthrough at the moment to finally be seeing all of this.  It hurts though to finally have to face the depth of emptiness I have felt rather than run or blame myself for it as I have done while on some level also feeling liberating.   I guess from here on in in my journey of recovery it’s all about taking on board the truth that from now on in if I really want to recover I need to be my own best friend instead of giving myself away or putting my own thoughts, needs, feelings and perceptions down.  I see how I can devalue myself because I don’t feel the same as a lot of other people out there who operate on a more superficial level.  Trying to fit into their world only hurts me as it fails to nourish me at the same time.

One of the symptoms of childhood emotional neglect due to therapist Jonice Webb is poor awareness and understanding of our emotions as well as a tendency to feel much guilt and shame as well as feeling that there is something deeply wrong with us for being ourselves or feeling what we do.  Lack of consistent and honest mirroring in childhood of emotions left as with a deep void inside which we cannot know because our ego (or conscious centre of self) was not able to form well and relate to its inner contents completely or in a healthy nurturing way.  This leave us with two other symptoms : feelings of emptiness as well as suicidal thoughts and feelings at times.

If we lack a reference point to connect to the true self our true self grieves deeply within us and longs for a pain to be known which we sadly see as some sign of our deepest flaw and inadequacy, rather than something we are powerless over when unconscious of it as well as a result of things done or not done to us or for us in childhood.

How we escape from this dilemma is first of all becoming aware of the fact that we suffer in the ways that we do.  The tendency to blame ourselves and feel shame for things that were far beyond our control doesn’t allow us to fully heal until we can embrace and know the underlying causes.  We long and ache and suffer while blaming and shaming ourselves for so doing, until one day enlightenment dawns often after an exceedingly long and drawn out battle.  And on the journey the void within needs both a witness and a container to help us make sense of it.

Facing the abandonment depression alone (our deepest core psychological emptiness or abyss) is challenging in the extreme and is accompanied by what therapist James Masterton has called the Six Horsemen of the Psychic Apocalypse and we need all the help we can on the path of dealing with these : depression, panic, rage, guilt, helplessness (hopelessness) and emptiness.  Its no easy journey to live with the consequences of being unheld, unloved and unmirrored in childhood and the last thing I am seeing we need to do on such a journey is blame ourselves for something over which we were at an earlier time completely powerless over.  If we continue to do so we will just never break free and find our true inner locus of power and perception.