Be there

Lion 7

Be there for me

Hold my hand

Let me know I have the strength to stand

Even if it means to stand alone

Give me strength

Help me believe in the power

I have to take root

Blossom and flower

Let me believe in the life force in me

And that I have the skills and knowledge inside

Things I no longer need to hide out of fear

Or the risk of disapproval

Remind me that

Although this world is often an unsafe place

One where it hurts to risk

There is a deeper price

For failing to expose my true face

Help me to find my right size and shape

And don’t let me listen to those killing voices inside

That want to cut me down to size

Or tell me I do not belong

Help me to be both vulnerable and strong

Stand beside me dear self

Hold my hand

As I risk my life to live

And take a stand

Making no other demand

Than the right to exist

As the very one I am

Seeing things differently

In the darkness

My thoughts assume strange shapes

The inner workings of other’s minds

Invisible to me

I imagine filled with attacks on me

I need to find the light of day

On any morning

And pray to God a lot to change my view

From dark to light

Are not there angels around more than demons

In this life?

I do not know why I just assume

Disaster is waiting around every corner

And the boogie man

Is out to get me

It must be just a part

Of the tortured mindscape

I inhabit at times

Too filled with doom and gloom

To allow any room

For a more positive view

So when my guidance says

Read January 17

And I open the page

To see the words :

Seeing A Situation Differently

I open my eyes and mind and heart to the message

I could pray for guidance to see things more

Through Love than Fear

Through hope and trust

Instead of assumed disappointment

All because my soul in some mixed up way

Is trying to keep me safe from harm

Why also shut out the chance of Joy

Of something so different

To what my fearful mind projects

On current circumstance

 

We stand in light In the light this will look different. 

A Course In Miracles

Wild Geese : Mary Oliver

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I love sharing poems on my blog by published poets, most especially the ones that speak to my heart and soul (and body).    The following is such a poem that forms part of William Seighart’s collection The Poetry Pharmacy which I have shared from before.  In his introduction to this poem by Mary Oliver which he prescribes as an antidote for self recrimination, Sieghart writes :

There is a small, wide eyed animal in each of us that doesn’t understand why we keep kicking it.  All we need do to overcome is to treat ourselves like a loyal pet with love, forgiveness and understanding.

Wild Geese

 

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies

and the deep trees and the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely.

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

Mary Oliver

Real pain and sadness

I wish that so many people who suffer from depression or bi polar could have it affirmed that their pain is real.   I just read a blog of a fellow sufferer who could not get out of bed on Christmas Day,  I know how that feels.  I always force myself out of bed though.  I am not able to stay in bed all day, just cannot do it, even when I am sick and need to.  But I know that deep binding and paralysing depression that hits as a real response to challenging life events of change, hurt or loss, have undergone it in my own life. There were whole days and weeks and months I never got out of my pyjamas all day, I didn’t shower, found it difficult to stomach food and did not see a single soul.

I look back to those terrible crushing days of extreme physical and emotional as well as spiritual isolation and wonder how I survived them.  The pain was just so intense but on another level I was numb.  Critical killer inner voices besieged all my waking hours.   Love had left my life, my marriage was over, I had no home of my own and no employment.  All I did was write all day.

I am here to say though that today my life is not like that.  Sure I am very sad on some days, but those feelings of  complete inner hopelessness and emptiness are no longer as strong.  I reached out to get help and it took me many therapy attempts but in the end I found that help.  I found a therapist who helped me.  I got this blog started.  I started to write how it really was for me.  People reached out to me. I learned to get in my car and go for a walk or a drive when I was lonely to a place where I could be with people.  5 years ago I got myself a dog and then started going to the public dog park with him every day and making some new friends.  Some days I had to drag myself there in the afternoon.

I joined groups then left groups, told by them I wasnt allowed to have certain feelings or express certain feelings.  I had to let certain relationships go.  I had to believe in myself.  I had to keep reaching for validation of my suffering true feelings and pain.

I am here to say that I believe recovery is possible for those of us who are willing to reach for help and become aware of how past emotional abandonment,abuse or neglect may have dogged our lives, our pain was real, it wasnt a figment of our imagination.  We suffered and we bled.   We were not responsible for the emotional neglect we suffered or the abandonment that happened to us.  It left real deep scars in us.  We don’t have to take the blame even though the harsh truth is that our recovery is our responsiblity.  No one else can do it for us, but us, and we cannot do it alone.

So if you are suffering, trust yourself.  Keep reaching out for love, keeping taking those baby steps forward even if you suffer set backs.  Just keep at it one day at a time, one minute at a time, believe in you.  You are worth it?  You are worthy.  There will be days you wish you were dead,  days you feel the pain is too much, those are the days you are probably all alone with no one to give you a hug.  On those days I reach out here and often I am responded to.  I know it’s not the same as a physical hug but it helps.  It has brought me back from the abyss many times.

Life at times can seen so dark and lonely it really can.   But there are those out there who love and care despite their own pain and despair, so keep reaching until you find that connection, validation and love.   The world really needs you it does, you are meant to be here.

Building and Fortifying the Self : Strategies for dealing with negative thoughts from being raised by self absorbed parents

This is a continuation of recent posts on narcissism, narcissistic injury and boundary building.  It contains information and extracts from Nina Brown’s book Children of the Self Absorbed.  This part of her book contains suggestions for dealing with the difficulties we face when we never got to develop high self esteem or healthy emotional boundaries.  It give techniques to cope when we may be faced with the difficult parent in order to self protect in a healthy way.

Building your self means that you develop empathy, creativity, inspiration, and relationships or connections.  Doing so will enable you to let go of old grudges and resentments, have sufficient psychological boundary strength to lessen emotional susceptibility and judge what feelings are yours alone, uncontaminated with other’s feelings; and better cope with your triggered feelings that are aroused in interactions with your self absorbed parent.

Block and Control Your Feelings

These are strategies that can allow you to be calm with being blamed or criticised, demeaned, devalued, and the like so that you can think and act more constructively.  The feelings are still there but can become less intense, which then makes them easier to put aside for the moment.

Blocking your emotions requires the following :

  • An awareness of what you are experiencing, including the intensity of the feelings.
  • A desire to avoid revealing or acting on these feelings (never a good idea with the narcissist.)
  • A personal strategy of momentarily dissociating from the feeling.  Complete dissociation is not recommended, as this can produce or increase cutting off or distancing yourself from your feelings in all parts of your life.  What could be helpful is a statement to yourself that you’ll get back to the feelings when you are in a safer place.
  • Using thoughts as expression rather than feelings.  Thoughts are cognitive and easier to handle that are feelings, and you want to be in control for the time being.

..suppose your prent has made a demeaning comment about your appearance, and you feel yourself becoming angry.  Instead of staying with the anger and firing back at the parent or letting the anger move you to shame for disappointing the parent, it is at this point where you can mentally say that you don’t want to act out of anger.  You’re going to choose to push the anger away and not let your parent know that the comment really angered you so you decide to make a noncommittal response, such as “Really?  I’ll need to pay better attention next time.  ” You can also ignore the comment, change the topic or make pleasant comment about the parent’s appearance.  Any of these can defuse the situation.

Use Self Affirmations

Instead of getting caught up in intense negative emotions triggered by your self absorbed parent, you can moderate and counteract these with self affirmations.  It can be important to remember that your triggered feelings are impacted when, on some level, you are buying into your parent’s perception of you and fear that these have some validity.   You may also find yourself in trouble with you are still engaged in the magical fantasy that your parent will change, or when you’re feeling powerless to get your needs met.  Self affirmations remind you of your strengths and positive characteristics so that you don’t get mired in thoughts and feelings about your real or imagined flaws.

On a sheet of paper list 10 to 12 things you consider to be your accomplishments, such as holding a job, overcoming an illness or condition, rearing children etc.  Next to each, list all the personality characteristics associated with it.  Review the list and compile another that incorporates personality characteristics that are repeated two or more times.  On top of an index card write “I am” followed by the list of characteristics.  Read this card once a week until you can effortlessly recall the items when you are experiencing intense negative emotions, such as triggered by your self absorbed parent.

Choose What to Feel 

You may find it difficult to accept, but you do have choices about what to feel  It may appear to you that your feelings just emerge and that you have no control but you do have the ability to decide what to feel, especially when you understand the roots of your feelings and have resolved some of your family of origin issues and past unfinished business.  The negative feelings that you did not choose are triggered because of old parental messages that continue to affect your thoughts about the adequacy and acceptability of yourself, thus setting off guilt and shame.  These messages also impact your perceptions of your competency, efficacy, and lovability; your unconscious fears of abandonment or destruction; and your needs for liking and approval of the parent that are still lacking.

Don’t get the idea that you should experience feelings like shame.  It can be growth enhancing to realise and accept your flaws, as long as there is also resolve and opportunity to address these.  What we’re talking about here is preventing your self absorbed parent from setting your agenda for what you will feel, especially in interactions with him (or her).

Interruput Negative Thoughts and Feelings

Another strategy is to interrupt your negative thoughts yourself.  These can included self criticism and blame, negative feelings such as shame and anger, and unrealistic ideas about yourself, such as the need for perfection.  This strategy works best when you not only interrupt negative thoughts, but also substitute more positive thoughts, feelings and ideas.  When you are able to avoid having these negatives and can insert more positives, you become better able to tolerate interactions with your self absorbed parent and will not be as vulnerable to getting mired in enduring and unpleasant thoughts and feelings about yourself.  Using the self affirmations about your good qualities (shared in an earlier post) can also help.

  • become aware of when you are experiencing negatives (eg feeling inadequate and flawed)
  • practice interruption and substitution
  • notice “should” or “ought” statements   (eg I should not let this get to me) These are unproductive and unhelpful
  • next substitute a positive self affirmation or self statement,

You may also want to remind yourself of the following :

  • Others will not change because I want them to change.
  • I do not have control over others’ feelings, thoughts, and ideas
  • I don’t have to fear being abandoned or destroyed, as I can take care of myself.
  • I am independent, and others are too.
  • When I think, feel, or imagine negatives about my self, that confirm my self absorbed parent’s perceptions.
  • I have flaws and faults, as everyone does, but I am working to correct them.
  • I have many positive attributes.

Practicing these when alone can pay off and slowly they will become more integrated.

Remember What’s Real

Use your self talk to remind yourself of what is real and what is fantasy.  The line between these can become blurred, especially when intense emotions are involved.  Your negative feelings are easier to control when you can introduce some realism and not get caught up in fantasy.  Try answering the following questions to get some idea of how fantasy interferes with reality.

  • Is it realistic to expect your parent to see your hurt and try to make amends?
  • Can your parent admit mistakes or accept his errors?  If not, how realistic is it to point these out or to try to correct his misperceptions?
  • Have you ever experienced empathy from your parent, and why do you expect it now?

All of these thoughts exhibit the yearning you have for the fantasised loving and empathic parent.  Your longings are keeping the fantasy alive, contributing to your distress, and preventing you from mobilising your resources to remain centred and grounded.  These untapped inner resources could prevent you from being hurt any further.

 

 

 

Trauma and silence

The following is partly verbatim extract from the video of Diane Langberg’s talk on trauma I reblogged earlier, and partly some of my own thoughts interspersed.  We so badly need to speak about our trauma and be understood, heard and validated.  The paradox is that so much of trauma is hard to articulate at first, our body carries a hidden burden that often is so difficult to give form and substance to, but it is so important that we try.

Trauma silences human beings partly because there are no words to really describe what that was a like.  It brings emotional darkness, isolation because you feel like nobody cares or even if they did they wouldn’t understand,  it makes time stand still because we get so lost in what happened we cannot see ahead we have lost hope

Trauma heals through : talking :  tears:  time.

When somebody does not talk when all of that is shut down they are broken emotionally (and deeply wounded in a wordless space).  People often will not talk because the pain is so great they cannot find the words. Or they talk over and over again not touching the real deep place.  To remain silent is to fail to honour the event, the memory.  (It is so hard to find the words…. words are often so inadequate when it comes to trauma. After a major trauma in the beginning often there are no words.  (Can we ever really explain what trauma is as it goes into the body?  The body knows!)   Dance it! Draw it!

To recover from trauma we must find a way to live in the truth and not pretend.  Minimising trauma, saying it didn’t hurt, should not hurt or leave lasting effects is wrong.  That is silencing.

Talking says I am here I am alive and for people with trauma that is a huge step.  Most of all letting someone talk or being there for them shows you have ‘care for their broken heart’.

Most especially sometimes what really helps is to sit in silence with the person.  Join with them in the darkness.  Let them know by your presence they are not alone in it.

Most important is gaining power over trauma by learning to tell the story. At first trauma will come out in fragments that slowly have to be pieced together.  Telling and being listened to restores the interpersonal bridge broken in and through trauma.  It CONNNECTS us to others and to our trauma.  When we are believed our trauma is validated.

Thank you so much Broken Blue Sky for sharing Diane’s video with me.  She speaks of things I did with my sister who died and never got free of her deepest traumas, but how could she.  I often just sat with her and held her hand.  How often I have wished someone was there to do that with me.  🙂

 

You are worthy

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I really should be getting my act together to walk my dog but I feel compelled to write this after spooling through my reader to read other follower’s blogs I follow.  It makes me so sad to read of the self rejection and even self hatred people can have for themselves in their lives when they are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress or any other kind of heavy emotional burden.  I personally know how much it crushes your soul (to say nothing of the effect is had on your spirit) when you try to express painful truths others don’t want to hear and try to silence in you.  Narcissists by their very nature will never own the fact that anything they did ended up wounding you.  In fact they get the shits that you dare to say they hurt you and in fact can’t you see how much you are hurting them by daring to even bring the subject up? How could you do this to me! Yawn.

My advice. Get the hell away from that shit.  Your pain needs to heard, it is real, you aren’t making it up.  You are not a malingerer for suffering from trauma.  You are not worth less or worthless. Your soul and body have been injured and scarred. That said are you going to beat yourself up all over again and treat yourself unkindly?  Please DONT DO IT!  Tell the inner and outer critics to take a hike and get off of your case.  In fact though in the end you find yourself letting go because when you argue you realise you are already off the side of self compassion and radical acceptance.  What do you have to prove??  Don’t keep beating your head against that brick wall.  It doesn’t know much about love!

You are not unworthy for suffering trauma.  You didn’t bring it on yourself.  You may however caused yourself more trauma by running in the wrong direction or seeking healing in the wrong places and that in itself is to my mind a sad symptom of emotional neglect, betrayal, abandonment and abuse.  And is the single agony fact behind why and how we get so stuck and some people never escape.  They end up going mad or killing themselves if they cannot get the truth out there or feel the feelings that others find too problematic due to being shut down themselves! Or else invested, for their own reasons in the can of worms being kept shut!

I do often wonder, much as the internet is criticised how so many of us would have survived as well if we did not have this medium and platform for self expression. Sadly it is a bit of a remote medium in that we don’t get to physically touch each other when we share and being touched, held, received, welcomed in our entire being and body is SO IMPORTANT in healing from trauma.  However we do get to voice it and that is a huge thing.  We get validation.  We get to know our pain is real. We get to express and not repress or depress it any more.

The only draw back may be that at times we go over and over and over the old wounds which may have the effect of making them deeper if we don’t at the same time have some love poured into those wounds. You know how a wound often smarts and stings just after it is fresh after you put some antiseptic on it.  It is singing out its pain as cells move into do the healing and ignite the inflammatory response.  Trauma is a super sonic kind of inflammation and one that can burn and burn and burn, but the burning in hurting is also a big part of the healing.  We are in the healing crisis of toxic repair.  We have to go through some pain and then we have to let the wound alone for a time so forces can work under the cover of darkness to repair.  Yes in the end we have a scar that bears a testament to what occurred and what we suffered. We then become what Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls ‘members of the scar clan’.  We bear our wounds and we can become the wound or we can decide that the wound is something we suffered and now bear the memory and evidence of but does not totally divine the deeper spirit in us which bears testament to it.  And its a fine line and in the end involves a conscious or unconscious decision about how we respond to the injuries.  No one outside of you can determine that outcome which is the result of a unique blend of factors that make you, you.

In my own case I would now rather say I have these wounds but there is more to me than them.  I would rather not keep running the wound over and over and over again.   I personally see where it takes me when that happens and its not into a good place and yet I still accept that to run the wound over and over is also a valid response to trauma. Part of the healing process involves going over and over what happened and experiencing the associated emotions and reactions until they transform or alchemise.

Whatever the case though, this is something I now know so deeply and powerfully that I must shout it out.  Whoever you are, whatever you have suffered, no matter what wounds, you are worthy, you deserve love.  You have a right to exist and be seen, and by God show yourself the respect and love you deserve by not allowing negative voices to take the power of this truth away from you.  For you are a beloved by life and to deny that love is to believe in a lie.

Writing from the body and our past to tap in : some insights from John Lee

If I could give you a dollar for every time I have been told that I should just ‘get over it’ or ‘stop looking at the past’ you would be wealthy.   As a species we are only slowly coming around to the realisation that our past stays trapped and encoded in the cells of our bodies and our neuro and biochemistry.  When I first got sober a few years in I came across the work of medical intuitive Carolyn Myss, a wonderful book and set of tapes I was lucky to be given by the bookshop where I was then working called Energy Anatomy.  Carolyn was asked to work in tandem with a doctor to get information about certain patients he was treating about their past and what she had to say co-related with the illness they were going through with astonishing accuracy.  Carolyn had no other information, she did not meet the people, the specialist in question would just phone her with brief information about the patient.  From this Carolyn ‘read’ certain information such as ‘her mother died when she was two, she had a termination of pregnancy when she was 18’ and so on.   The doctor was blown away by her readings and Carolyn wrote this line in her book : “biography becomes biology”.

I am thinking about this a lot today as I am just reading the book Writing From the Body : For Writers and Artists, and Dreamers who Long to Free their Voice.   It is written by recovering alcoholic, John Lee who in recovery has become a therapist and works with people working to both free themselves from repressions of the past as well and express what may have been trapped, locked or encoded in muscle, tissue and organ.  The first few chapters tell of his own process to unblock his voice and find access through writing to essential blockages and experiences of the past which he believes to stay trapped in the body waiting to be heard or freed.  I am so inspired by what I have read so far that I really wanted to share it here, since on WordPress there are so many writers who are working in this way.  To be inspired to me is to be filled with spirit, to be able to breathe.  In fact in the chapter Inspiration : The Breath and the Word he deals with the importance of breathing as we write to gain inspiration and to access our depth.  I am not sharing content from the chapter here but the previous one Descending into the Body.  It is my own belief that body is soul and what soul’s suffer stayed trapped here longing to be freed.  When we tap in we release on some level past experiences and metabolise them.  I am sharing it here as I just feel a burning need to do so.  I hope it speaks to you, dear reader.

To embrace our body’s truth is to embrace our past.  There is no other way.  The body is home to all that has happened to us, and it remembers.  Fortunately, if we engage in the process of remembering (re – membering like Osiris did gathering up our torn fragments) with full vigor, great riches emerge.  In his breakthrough book, The Poetics of Reverie, Gaston Bachelard writes:

In waking life… when reverie works on our history, the childhood within us brings its benefits.  One needs……to live with the child he has been.  From such living he achieves a consciousness of roots, and the entire tree of his being takes comfort from it. 

Not everything we discover in ourselves will be comfortable.  But we need to know he truth of our roots if we are to write from that depth.  Our roots don’t have to be pleasant to be comforting.  Just the act of claiming our own history, of pledging ourself to its truth, provides peace of mind.  It also feeds our writing – we must know our whole story before we can tell it.

Lee goes on to talk about how he was raised in the South of the United States to barely literate parents.  How early on he came to believe that he ‘wasn’t that bright’, how he came to be ashamed of his origins and also came to believe he had to be from somewhere else to be intelligent or gifted enough to write.  Over the course of his healing journey though he came to see that such beliefs were untrue.  He speaks of how he had to both own them and dispel them or at least engage with them and work to answer them back.  He continues:

That’s part of my story.  You have your own.  You have your own messages.  What were they?  Who spoke them? What did you feel like when you heard them? How do you feel about these messages, and the messengers now?

As I am typing this a poem I wrote a while back addressed to my father comes to mind.  I will try to find it later but it was about how he devalued the artistic and humanitarian in favour of utilitarianism and commerce.  How he forced me away from my literate artistic side.  It was a deep wound in me and one I have only begun to really address since starting this blog.  Truth is, from a young age I was writing and so probably were many of you.  I still struggle with the Inner Critic.  How I get around it in my blog these days is to let it speak so readers can see.  I then try to act against what is says.

As the chapter concludes Lee gives this advice to budding writers :

Now write a story, a poem, or a one act play, or a letter.  Write how you feel about these destructive messages.  Tell the whole truth at last.  If fears arise, name them and you will dissipate their power.  We don’t have to go on fighting our fear, telling ourselves “everything’s fine.”  As we write from the body, we touch the centre of ourselves.  In doing so we discover to our surprise that everything truly is fine, and that a part of us remains safe regardless of what happens to us in the world.

My truth is this :  I wasn’t disabled.  But I did become tense and scared when unreasonable demands were placed on me.

Write your own truth boldly, loudly.  Stay close to the body’s sounds, to its rhythms of breath and bone, they will tell you want to write.

I am sure so many of you have found such comfort through your writing.  The beauty of WordPress is that it gives so many of us a platform to express and free from ourselves what became trapped, locked, buried or impacted deep inside. When other’s read, like and comment we feel the joy of resonance and know nothing we ever suffer really separates us, only that which we fail to free or speak.   I will end this with a luminous quote from Lee’s book on writing :

Be strong then, and enter your own body:

there you have a solid place for your feet.

Think about it carefully!

Do not go off somewhere else!

just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things,

and stand firm in that which you are.

Kabir

A message to the scapegoat

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There is something I want to say to the scapegoats out there, those of you never felt like you quite belonged in the family and it comes out of having seen my niece yesterday and knowing the struggle she has with her own family.

You probably didn’t feel like you belonged because you didn’t, not really, not deep, deep down in your soul to that particular family.  Its not because of anything you did wrong, you are not a ‘bad’ person whatever they would have your believe, no matter how they dismiss you or invalidated you for being you.

Know this : you didn’t feel like you belonged because your home truly was elsewhere.  Maybe you felt an identification with the moon and the stars or animals or a bird or the wind or something else, something that reminded you of softness and poetry and the music and rhythm you felt to be dancing in your soul far beyond the soulless life and existence of your family where such music wasn’t recognised.

Your being scapegoated or sidelined or bullied wasn’t about you at all, it was about the precious, unique or special qualities others could not understand or learned a long time ago to despise in themselves, things they feared.  You were not put on earth to be the white sheep and to be approved of by them, but it was a real wound to be rejected, sidelined or minimised.   A wound you must learn not to take too seriously!

Know this : you are a deeply spiritual being who chose to come to this earth to learn how precious and loved you really are by life.  Don’t stop searching until you find those who speak the same language, there are a lot of us out there, don’t let the pain and misunderstanding others put in you become a poison that hurts, spit it out and find your own tribe and even if you have to walk alone for a time, know that deep within you are loved and are on the right path, follow your heart and never let its truth be distorted, shamed or vacated.

Fall in love

I have fallen in love with the words and heart felt teachings of a very beautiful soul, Jeff Foster.  I found his book as you do through chance when browsing my library catalogue, if you have suffered depression or pain I so highly recommend him to you.

The following is just one of the beautiful, deeply inspired reflections in the collection The Way of Rest : Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love. 

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The Hidden Invitation of Loneliness

When you are feeling lonely,

it’s not the presence of another person that

you’re missing,

it’s your own presence.

In search of another,

you’ve disconnected from yourself –

and that’s the greatest pain of all.

Turn toward the place where you are.

Reconnect with a breath. The morning breeze.

The sound of the rain. A silent cup of tea.

Dancing sensations in the belly, the chest,

and the head.

Be here.  Sink into gentleness.  Watch your

loneliness dissolve into exquisite solitude

and a fresh morning.

Be alone, with the miracle of life itself.