Pain of early separation from our mothers and its impact on relationships

Pain of early separations from our mother can haunt us for a long time and we may not always know what the pain is about. It’s an issue that Mark Wolynn, San Francisco based therapist on multigenerational trauma addresses at length in his book It Didn’t Start With You : How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.  The separation may not have been physical alone, it could be just that our mother was undergoing a depression, grieving a loss or being unseen and unnurtured by her own mother did not know how to be fully present for us.  (According to Wolynn the original problem or disruption often lies a generation or two back and we may be unaware of it).  We feel the loss and absence keenly and such feelings can cause us to actually turn away when our mother tries to connect with us another time.

Wolynn shares just such a story on page 175 about a baby Myrna whose mother leaves for three weeks.  On her return as she waits and longs for her daughter to run to her Mryna’s mother experiences instead a daughter who turns away becoming even more distant.  Rather than understand her daughter’s reactions and look for a way to restore the bond Myrna’s mother instead encourages her independence.  The mother loses sight of her child’s vulnerability, so where did it go for Myrna?  Answer in short.  Into the unconscious.

Of course later when Myrna fell in love, love was experienced as a minefield and its something I can relate to as will anyone with insecure, avoidant or anxious attachment.  Vulnerability of needing another opens up a pit of loss we do not fully understand and we can relate by sabotaging things further should we choose to deny or repress our true need feelings and vulnerability.

Mark Wolynn talks of interruptions to the flow of love and energy between parent and child a lot in his book.  He knows a lot about it as he pursued a path of so called ‘spiritual bypassing’ seeking a healing he could not find in ashrams and through meditation (though he does use visionary meditations with a clients ancestors in order to effect healing of past wounds carried on).  Wolynn did not heal his early trauma with his mother until years later understanding how its roots lay far back in his own mother and grandmother’s history and eventually becoming a therapist himself.

When our early experience with our mother is disrupted by a significant break in the bond, shards of pain and emptiness can shred our well being and disconnect us from the fundamental flow of life.  Where the mother-child relationship remains severed, empty or fraught with indifference, a stream of negative images can lock the child in a pattern of frustration and self doubt.  In extreme cases, when the negative images are continuous and unrelenting, frustration, rage, numbness, and insensitivity to others can emerge.

Psychopathic behaviour can be the result but the key result if often a form of pathological narcissism – an inability to truly connect and take in love.

According to Wolynn the majority of us have experienced some kind of break in the bond with our mothers.  Many though, got enough of what was needed to be able to maintain healthy relationships later in life.  Many of us were not so lucky.  Ideally disruptions to attunement need to be healed in the context of any relationship.  How we deal with them are important as are the beliefs about our inherent lovability.  According to Janet Woititz adult children of addiction and trauma believed they will only be loved if they act in a pleasing happy way.  No relationship can survive like this and neither can we.

Knowing what happened in the bond with our mother and the impact it had on our attachment style as well as inherent negative self beliefs and development of what Wolynn calls ‘core sentences of separation’ is vitally important if we wish to heal.  We can become conscious of these, work to understand how they may be influencing our present and do inner work to change negative core beliefs we may have absorbed unconsciously so they do not continue to play our in our relationships.  I have found so much help myself reading Wolynn’s book which I shared from extensively in my blog last year.  It is well worth a look if you struggle to maintain healthy loving relationships in your own life and are working to understand how the flow of love between you and a parent (not only your mother) is impacting you in later life.

(Examples of core beliefs which negatively impact our capacity to love and be loved are :  I’ll be left:  I’ll be abandoned. I’ll be rejected.  I’ll have nobody.  I’ll lose control.   I’ll be helpless.  I don’t matter.  I’m too much.  I am not enough.  I’ll be annihilated.  I’ll be destroyed.  I will push love away.)

A grief deeper than I can name

A grief deeper than I can express or name is bursting out of me lately.  After years of working through my anger and frustration and disappointment with my parents I am seeing and feeling a much deeper reality that lay beyond my own needs, wishes, hopes and dreams.  I am fully experiencing the truth that my parents did the best they could with what they knew and I am feeling even more deeper grief for the lost children in them that had to go on in such harsh conditions.  I am even feeling the same for my much older brother and followers of this blog for some time will know of the conflicts I had with him just prior to my Mum’s death in December last year.

He is America for six weeks at the moment at the house he owns over there.  My cousin asked me on Friday, why don’t you go over.  Simple answer.  Never been invited but then my brother would not.  When I asked him how he is spending his time now his wife went back home he told me he goes for three hour long walks and about the deer that come into his garden then and leave their pooh.  I had a dream the other night I was in a cave and there was deer pooh everywhere and I had bare feet but where ever I trod I could not escape the pooh which was then ankle deep.  I understand that this is actually a dream about grief and about the messy uncontrollable world of emotions that my family found so problematic and me too with my descent into addiction from a very young age.

My brother was 39 when my father died and they worked together for years.  Mum would tear up when she told me of how she went into their office one day in the year after Dad died and my brother was sitting there wearing his cardigan. This is a man whose own wife never once told him she loves him and told my mother after Dad died she needed to toughen up and ‘stand on her own two feet!’ What the fuck else did my Mum do for most of her childhood?  Anyway leaving aside my sister in law who is incredibly severe and scary I feel for my brother so much and realise what is hidden under the words he does not say.

I’m feeling for my Mum and Dad too and I feel them over in the land of the passed with so much love in their hearts for me.  I feel them as they guided me to Scott who also lost his Dad a year before me at 21.  Don’t ask me how I know this, I just do.

I just came home from the veggie markets crying listening to one of my most favourite songs If You Wait by London Grammar.  This song is so evocative and it blows my emotions wide open.  At times the grief I feel feels too large for my body and I wonder if what I carry is not only personal but ancestral for I feel the connection to my maternal great great grandfather so deeply at times.  He entered an institution for alcoholism later in life, never having been able to grieve for the mother he lost at 12 years old (the same age my father lost his father!).   I think of how each of my sisters and were also left by men and of how now I have been trying to help someone get out of a life and death situation overseas where war is just about to be declared so we can come together and start a new life.  And how terrified I am that he will be killed before we can finally meet.

I am also aware we are deep in the final shedding time prior to the New Moon Solar Eclipse in Leo on 11th August.  It falls  smack bang on my North Node In Leo.   So much is coming to light from deep within my own shadow and unconscious as well as that of the family.   I know I can bear whatever happens but lately I feel so many echoes around me. Echoes within echoes within echoes resounding along a long corridor of time.   I am in the antechamber awaiting a new birth, what ever comes to pass.

Third installment : Three generations of Shared Family History : the Family Body : research into inherited stress and trauma responses

Here is the third and final installment from Chapter 2 of Mark Wolynn’s book It Didn’t Start With You which concludes his coverage of genetic research shedding light on how stress and trauma are passed on through at least three generations :

It’s only recently that scientists have begun to understand the biological processes that occur when trauma is inherited.  To learn more, researchers turned to animal studies….Chemical changes in the blood, brain, ova and sperm of mice are now being linked to behavioural patterns, such as anxiety and depression, in later generations.  Studies performed on offspring, for example, have shown that trauma, such as the stress of maternal separation, caused gene expression changes that can be traced for three generations.

In one such study, researchers prevented females from nurturing their pups for up to three hours a day during the first two weeks of life.  Later in life, their offspring exhibited behaviors similar to what we call depression in humans.  The symptoms seemed to worsen as the mice age.  Surprisingly, some of the males did not express the behavior themselves, but appeared to epigenetically transmit the behavioral changes to their female offspring.  The researchers also discovered altered methylation and gene expression changes in the stressed mice.  Among the genes involved was the CRF2 gene, which regulates anxiety in both mice and humans.  The researchers also found that the germs cells – the precursor egg and sperm cells – as well as the brains of the offspring were affected by the stress of being separated from their mothers.  In another experiment….offspring that received low levels of maternal care were more anxious and more reactive to stress in adulthood than were the rats that received high levels of maternal care.  The stress pattern was observed in multiple generations.

It’s common knowledge that infants who have been separated from their mothers can experience challenges as a result.  In studies involving male mice, pups that were separated from their mothers exhibited lifelong increases in stress susceptibility and generated offpsring  that exhibited similar stress patterns over several generations.  (In one study).. conducted at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich in 2014, researchers subjected male mice to repeated and prolonged periods of increased stress by separating them from their mothers.  Afterward, the traumatised mice exhibited a number of depression like symptoms.  The researchers then had the mice reproduce and discovered that pups in the second and third generation showed the same symptoms of trauma despite never having experienced it themselves.

(Similarly)…. high numbers of microRNA – genetic material that regulate gene expression – (were) present in the sperm, blood and hippocampi of the traumatised mice..(and)…in those of the second generation……Although mice in the third generation expressed the same symptoms of trauma as did their fathers and grandfathers. elevated numbers of microRNA were not detected.

In a later study published in 2016, Mansuy and her colleagues were able to show that trauma symptoms could be reversed in the mice after they lived in a positive, low stress environment as adults.  Not only did the mice’s behaviors improve, they also experienced changes in DNA methylation, which prevented symptoms from being passed to the next generation.  The implications of this study are particularly significant.  In later chapters we’ll learn how to create positive images and enriching experiences that can help reverse stress patterns that may have affected our family for multiple generations.

What makes the mouse research so intriguing is that science can now substantiate how the challenges experienced in one generation can become the legacy transmitted to the next.  In a study involving the offspring of stressed male mice conduucted at Emory University School of Medicine in 2013, researchers discovered that traumatic memories could be passed own to subsequent generations throgh epigentic changes that occur in DNA.  Mice in one generation were trained to fear a cherry blossom-like scent.. Each time they were exposed to the smell they simultaneously received an electric shock.  After a while, the shocked mice had a greater amount of small receptors associated with that particular scent, enabling them to detect it at lower concentrations.  They also had enlarged brain areas devoted to those receptors.  Researchers were also able to identify changes in the mice’s sperm.

The most intriguing aspect of the study is what occured in the next two generations.  Both the pups and the grandpups, when exposed to the blossom odour, became jumpy and avoided it, despite never having experienced it before.  They also exhibited the same brain changes. The mice appeared to inherit not only the sensitivity to the scent, but also the fear response associated with it.

Brian Dias, one of the researchers of the study, suggests that “there’s something in the sperm that is informing or allowing that information to be inherited.” He and his team noted abornmally low DNA methylation in both the sperm of the father mice and the sperm of the offspring.   Although the exact mechanism for how a parent’s traumatic experience gets stored in the DNA is still under investigation.    Dias says, “it behooves ancestors to inform their offspring that a particular environment was a negative environment for them.”

Ths particular study provides compelling evidence for what the researchers term “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance,” the notion that behaviours can pass from one generation to another.  When I work with families in my pratice, I often see recurring patterns of illness, depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, and financial hardship, and always feel compelled to look deeper.  What unexplored event in a previous generation drives the behavior of the man who loses all his money at the racetrack, or the woman who chooses to be intimate only with married men?  How have their genetic inheritances been influences?

…..

Given that a generation in humans is approximately twenty years, the results from human studies spanning multiple generations are still pending.  However, with the research demonstrating that stress can be transmitted through at least three generations of mice, the researchers surmise that children born to human parents who experienced a traumatic or stressful event would also likely pass the pattern down not only to their children, but to their grandchildren as well.  Uncannily the Bible in numbers 14-18, appears to corroborate the claims of modern science – or vice versa – that the sins, iniquities, or consequences of the parents can affect the children up to the third and fourth generations.  Specificially, the New Living translation states : “the LORD is slow to anger and filed with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty.  He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations.”

As new discoveries in epigentics are revealed, new information about how to mitigate the transgenerational effects of trauma could become standard practice.  Researchers are now finding that our thoughts, inner images and daily practices, such as visualisation and meditation can change the way our genes express, an idea we will examine in more detail in the next chapter.

The idea that we relive family traumas may well be at the core of what psychiatrist Norman Doidge alludes to in his breakthrough book  he Brain That Changes Itself when he writes “Psychotherapy is about about turning our ghosts into ancestors.”  By identifying the source of our generationl traumas Dr. Doidge suggests that our ghosts can “go from haunting us to become part of our history.”

To be continued

Core trauma and core sentences : addressing carried ancestral or parental trauma and pain.

Many of us have core thoughts or beliefs, often fuelled by past pain, losses, trauma or fear which run over and over like an ongoing monologue either at the level or just below the level of consciousness.  We may not be fully aware of them.  We may not be fully aware of where they come from.  Not knowing our parents or grand parents or great grand parent’s history (about which they often remained silent) we may not realise that they actually relate back to something – a loss, trauma, illness or injury that happened in past generations.  They may then fuel our lives in painful ways causing much havoc.

This blog is a continuation of earlier ones I wrote last week on the subject of ancestral healing  Its something I became aware of in my own life through intuition as I learned more about past traumas on my mothers’s side of the family after I got sober in 1993.  I was aware when I began to attend Al Anon after many years in AA that my addiction was a family inheritance, something passed down in some way.  It wasn’t until I was given access by chance to information about my great great grandfather’s history of addiction, loss, grief and eventual abandonment that I began to join up some of the dots.  That is why I was so excited to finally read Mark Wolynn’s book on ancestral pain and healing It Didn’t Start With You last week.  

In an early chapter of his book, Mark tells the story of a young (19 year old man) called Jesse who at that age suddenly began to experience panic attacks which involved his body feeling covered with cold and shaking.  On exploring the family history Mark found out that Jesse had an uncle who died at the age of 19 after falling down face first in the snow.  Jesse at the same age of his uncle’s trauma was re-experiencing the symptoms and emotional as well as physical pain of his uncle. Once the connection to his ancestor’s pain was acknowledged and healing work was done to make a separation Jesse’s symptoms and panic attacks subsided.

The second story Mark tells of a woman who began to feel suicidal at a certain age.  She would be overcome with the worst depression and say to herself “I just want to incinerate myself”.  Turns out a host of her relatives had actually been gassed in the gas chambers by the Nazi’s during World War II.   The family history was hidden and never spoken of but this woman carried the painful feelings of longing to die which hit around the age some of her relatives were killed.

There are too many other powerful stories of healing in Mark’s book to relate in this one post and I have a limit tonight on what I can transcribe.  What I would like to address is that so often pain we carry may not only be ours.   It may have roots in childhood but often the childhood relates in some way to the past of a parent or grandparent that was transferred.  According to Mark if the there is a murder or other legacy of guilt in a family a later member may be urged to attone for that guilt or murder.

What is required to free ourselves from such unconscious repetition compulsions and carried ancestral trauma bonds is the ability to honour the ancestor’s pain and give the guilt or grief back to whom it belongs.   To this end Mark suggests the following ways of handing back and releasing ourselves from ancestral pain so we no longer need to carry on the unhappiness, grief or guilt that didnt start with us.

Visualise the family member or members involved in the (traumatic) event.  Tell them : “You are important.  I will do something meaningful to honor you.  I will make something good come out of this tragedy.  I will live my life as fully as I can, knowing that this is what you want for me.”

Construct a personal language or healing sentences to counteract the destructive power of damaging ones.  In this language acknowledge the unique connection you share with the person or people.

In addition you can use the following healing sentences :

“Instead of reliving what happened to you, I promise to live my life fully.”

“What happened to you won’t be in vain.”

“I will use what happened as a source of strength.”

“I will honor the life you gave me by doing something good with it.”

“I will do something meaningful and dedicate it to you.”

“I will not leave you out of my heart.”

“I’ll light a candle for you.”

“I’ll live my life in a loving way.”

“I will make something good come out of this tragedy.”

“Now I understand.  It helps me to understand.”

Mark give additional practices in the next part of the book which involve keeping a photo and working to return guilt or pain to its original source. Lighting candles to honor the journey of our ancestors,  Visualising and creating boundaries and distance between the ancestor’s or parent’s pain and keeping that boundary clear and clean while honoring their loss, pain or trauma.

Additional practices involve connecting with our own bodies to honour our integrity and self as we learn to achieve a psychic wholeness and deepening connection within.  I shared one of these in an earlier post today.  The involve putting a hand on our body, breathing deeply while saying the following :

“I’ve got you.”

“I’m here.”

“I’ll hold you.”

“I’ll breathe with you.”

“I’ll comfort you.”

“Whenever you’re feeling scared or overwhelmed, I won’t leave you.”

“I’ll stay with you.”

“I’ll breathe with you until you are calm.”

When we place our hands on our body and direct our words and breath inside, we support the parts of ourselves that feel most vulnerable.  In doing so, we have a chance to erase or release what we experience as intolerable.  Long standing feelings of discomfort can give way to feelings of expansion and well-being.  As the new feelings take root, we can experience ourselves being more supported in our body.

Such ways of being with our selves and supporting our bodies provide for us a holding environment and counter act dissociation or an attempt to move away and self reject or self abandon.  We may never have learned this way of coping or self soothing before but now we can.  We truly can be present for us and send our own body all the love, support, comfort and healing we need for our journey of separating from old pain we should not have to carry onward.

Stopping the running from my mother wound

I had a clear awakening today after posting an earlier post and then finding a quote on the ancestral mother who is calling us on a path of healing that until I make true peace with my own mother wound I can never find true healing and release.  I am sad in a way to see how much anger I have borne my own mother when she acted in ways she was conditioned to due to mother and father wounds in her own heart.

I went to lunch with a good friend today and she said how tough and hard her mother was (but loving too) and how she saw the damage and stoicism coming out of being a child of war.  I thought about how my Mum was the only child of a World War One survivor who only lived until she was 7 and then of how my Dad lost his own father at 12 and then was called far away from the land of his birth when large forces were breaking open in Europe during the 1930s. I see how little they could give in terms of warm holding and affection that was physically demonstrated and now I feel so strongly the burden of all that I carry wasn’t it that that led me to seek the warm embrace of alcohol?

I was saying to my friend that when I try to hug my older brother’s oldest son he is stiff as a board, and how he and his wife air kiss you on either cheek.  So so sad.  I feel the abandoned body in them and feel my own body hunger to be enveloped in a big hug the one my other nephews of my older sister seem to give so easily. But I also see one nephew a few weeks ago crying at his mother’s grave and my Mum and sister standing on the side not touching him.  It was me who tried to give the love and it was hard at times as I did not want to invade his boundary.  Never the less it was given.  I wanted to give him a letter his Mum had written and a school report but I was scared to on some level.  I passed on instead the nature book that my sister had at the home that she never lived to give her grandsons and little Aiden was so sad when he left us a few weeks ago.  I will treasure that moment with him for the rest of my life.

I see until I make peace with my own mother wound and allow my own need to be connected and depend I will never heal.  There are places I can express that and other places where I cannot.  So much of the twisting and spasming my body goes through on a daily basis is about this unexpressed need and longing of my own body to be held.  One of the saddest things of my own trauma mother wound history is that I have terminated 6 pregnancies.  The last one in the first year of my sobriety and marriage.  I just did it and didn’t really think of the impact on my husband at all.  When he left me he quickly found someone to have a baby with. When I cried about that with my new partner he accused me of being jealous. It was not that.  I was grieving for what, at that point I could not give. I decided at the earlier point my own wounds were too deep to pass on but maybe the baby would have helped me heal and feel them,  I don’t know.

Today when my body symptoms around twisting and my pelvis were happening I felt the times the instruments went in to suck out my womb.  At times after I eat I feel I am being sucked and all my fluid is being drained away. Its helpful now to associate that to earlier traumas my body is carrying.

Anyway I am so glad I happened upon that quote about the ancestral mothers calling on our soul for healing.  A year ago I found out that it was after the death of his mother that my great great grandfather left the UK and then he became an alcoholic and his wife left him and then there were migrations and leavings/divorces or other deaths along the maternal ancestral line.  My older sister who died replayed all that when her husband abandoned her taking her back to New Zealand from Australia which is where my great great grandfather emigrated in 1874 and was eventually abandoned himself. The wounds I carry are not mine and yet it has been my task to become conscious of the ancestral thread and to face the pain that comes when I act all of this out unconciously from wounded child self who does not realise the deeper complexities of everything.  I am so lucky to have found that quote which I posted on an earlier blog.  Funny how life is always trying to bring us toward growth, healing and consciousness.

 

Coming to peace : reflections on the past week

I woke to streaming sunlight this morning.  I was aware of what a huge wave had been building to carry me through another ancestral swell over the past week.  Before the visit of my nephew and my family I was waking up around 4.30 or 5.30 and unable to get back to sleep.  While they were here I was conscious of how many different levels my being and body was operating on.  Any visit by one of my four nephews who were disconnected both from my sister and I after her abandonment is a huge thing for me.  After all these four boys were close to age to me than my own siblings.  We laughed and played together and is funny as I just thought I re-experienced that on the weekend when I played with my nephew’s two youngest boys.  The older son is around the age my older nephew was when his mother had the cerebral bleed that tore us all apart.

I struggled so much on Saturday with the abandonment feelings not only of my own but through reflection on how they have played out over 5 generations.  In my own case my sobriety and work on my own addiction and recovery has given me deeper insight into dynamics and I also have the added burden or awareness of knowing the ancestral history.  I struggle to be known to this particular nephew as he keeps in touch more with my mother and what she says to him about me I am not sure.  I struggled on the weekend to know how much connection to have and I felt the conflict of that as on the Saturday I held my self back as I had offered to take my nephew to the cemetery and I knew that was going to be a big deal for both of us so I felt I needed my time out with my dog.  But deeper inside I was so aware of the inner child in me who longed for so much love and connection of a deeper kind.  We came close to that at the cemetery when we both had an arm around each other as we stood and wept.  Its hard though because I am the emotional one and I didn’t want my pain to eclipse the pain of others,

Anyway we did connect a little and I managed to share with my nephew’s wife a little about my recovery from addiction as the subject of booze and drugs came up as we were discussing the painful impact.  For those of you who don’t know my sister abused alcohol but this came more out of survival drive and a degree of emotional neglect, my parents were very poor when they returned to live in Australia after the end of the Second World War and had to work very hard,  too hard in the end, ambition destroyed both my sister and my father (well more the painful aftermath that hit my sister in my Dad’s case when she had the cerebral bleed and was weeks in a coma he was the one sitting by the bedside holding her hand and talking to her even though the doctors told him she could not hear – not true!)  She did come back but what happened to her at the hands of my brother in law almost destroyed her life and in the end it broke her emotionally.

As I write that though I am not daring to blame my brother in law.  He did the best he could but he was a runner, he didn’t face up or talk about what help he needed he just took them all off to the land of our ancestors and in the end the boys had to leave home and fend for themselves.  There is a karmic repeat theme in even this though.  And he may have even been having an affair around the time my sister had the stroke.  He had the woman shacked up to fly over too and he knew that when he took my sister from her home and away from us in 1981.  We will never know as he never spoke about those years even to his sons.  As he lay dying a few years ago he would only say, “I didn’t do very well by your mother.”

I have to be aware of the terrible burden all of those boys carry in different ways.  At times I get so caught up in the feelings around my sister and her life that I forget about them.  But even as I write this I am aware too of how much I need to bring the focus back on my own life.  So much of it has been dominated by this family trauma to the extent that two major relationships went to the wall.  I had the option to live my life in the UK 13 years back but I could not, at that point leave my Mum and sister alone.

I was reading back on some journals too, last night about the time things were breaking apart with my husband.  I put him in a difficult situation by asking that we come back to Oz then changing my mind and not being able to be close to my Mum in terms of living in the same town.  It is very hard to have emotions around my mother who puts them aside all of the time with practicalities.  It all ended up with me alone in a collapse nearly buried under the weight of it all.  I am only now really beginning to get any insight into what occurred in 2004 with the break up and the aftermath in which I had two major accidents.  It might sound strange or out there to some readers but I feel on some level the ancestors were always calling me back here to Australia and even called me over to the UK before in order that I could honour their hidden emotional history.  Why did my sister end up marrying a New Zealander when that was where our ancestors migrated to in 1874?  Why was she taken back there and away from us when she first married in 1965 when I was only 3?  Why was that the place she ended up in an asylum put there by her husband to get her out of the way when my Great Great Grandfather also ended up in some kind of institution in New Zealand?  Many years ago a lady who did spiritual ancestral healing work told me “your sister isn’t bi polar she is living out a generational wound/split”.  I firmly believe that to be true.

Anyway family history is such a gigantic Gordian knot of a thing.  The fates in mythology weave it onwards and we in later years may be the one’s bequeathed the task of the unravelling or at least the ones of us in the family with a strong Saturnian (or ancestral) link.  And yet even as I write that part of me asks “are you really meant to unravel this mystery or are you meant to put the knotted ball of fate/karma down?”

Big wave washed over us in the last week following the eclipse on the 22nd.  It was about my Uranus in the first house and Uranus is the force that both severs and enlightens.  It may be the force that asks us to see where the splits of leaving in terms of pursuing freedom may even have led to a deeper unconscious bondage and those words just came to me so I will have to reflect on them.

I was listening to part of a scientific programme on the nature of time yesterday and what the scientist was saying is that past and present are both realities.  We are told all the time that we need to let the past go or leave it alone but the truth is the past is here with us at every moment.  Our challenging task, as I see it now, is to be able to live in the present with full awareness of the impact of the past but not drowned by it.  Losses challenge us because they take from us in the present something we love and then seem to relegate that loved one or object to the past but really what has happened is just that the nature of the relationship has changed form.  In my own case I speak to my ancestors who have passed on all the time.  Often I feel them around me in meditation or I call on their help and remember their emotional lines when I am going through my own challenges.  Often in deep despair I feel the imprints of their own deeper suffering bleeding through into my own.  I know this as a fact I am made of DNA that came from their DNA encoded by their own sufferings, trials, loves, losses, adventures and experiences.  Knowing the past helps me to understand and grow in awareness, so how does “putting it all behind me” help?  To be honest I think what I have needed is to make my peace with it.  Even this morning as I lay in bed crying over things from the past I centred in my heart and held myself tenderly in the midst of the pain and comforted myself with these words “you did the best you could at the time, you struggled with such enormous things, know this darling its all okay, you are safe, you are loved and you are growing even if your inner critic doesn’t want you to know it” and golly how well my body responded to those words and that is when I realised that how we speak to ourselves and what we say affects every single cell in our body, so why not give love, why not find peace, why not just be the witness to it all as it unfurls before us, this mysterious tangle of experiences and suffering that we call life?

The weaver

AB

I saw you running

From invisible ghosts

I was so young I could not know

The tortured by ways of your soul

You were just this being

And my ground

But that ground was not solid

Only a vast swirling sea of unfulfilled longing and angst

That swept me this way and that

Often casting me far adrift

High and dry on foreign soil

My longing for the you that got lost

The you that you passed onto me

Was so very deep and strong

I carried your child mother

The invisible magnet

Impossible to ignore

Cast its pull over my soul

Threaded its way

Into all my dreams

And returned me to

Absolute aloneness and despair

And hidden deep inside

A mystery I had to unravel

A Gordian knot of epic proportions

Now I sit in a room

A pile of unravelled thread

At my feet

And I have become the weaver

As we have all unravelled

Deeper mysteries and vast emptinesses

Have been revealed

So pregnant poignant and full of meaning

And so I see that this is not the end

And that yes

All that being swept this way and that

Had a purpose

And so I write and rest and dream

And dive deep

Into our ancestral mystery

With my waking heart become a loom

On which I weave

The ancestral story forward

Motherless : Mother Loss

Empty

So many times I found myself

Without a mother

Without a home

Wandering here and there

With pain locked silently

So deep inside

But how could I know before

This pain of being motherless and of motherloss

Stretched generations back

From deep within the ancestral spiral

I feel your pain and grief

Speaking to me Thomas

Your mother died

And you, too went so very far from home

I will never fully know

The deep pain you carried

And drank down

But I want you to know I feel you

Across the ages

Deep inside the spiral vortex

Of ancestors

And in tears I shed now

 I sense your unspoken, unwitnessed grief

I want you to know I understand

And how my heart aches now

To say to my mother No I cannot come

Though deep longing pulls on me

With invisible threads

Yet deep with the silence

This I know

There is a love that never ends

And we carry its imprints

Of motherlessness

Of mother loss

Until we find the mother

Deep inside

Who will comfort us

Bear witness to all the pain

And dry our tears

As they fall like rain

Within our soul

My Mum : wounded body : Ancestral healing

I went shopping with my Mum yesterday.  We were no longer like mother and daughter but two sisters or two little kids out for a fun day.    I helped my Mum to find a lovely pink cable knit jumper, due to her decreasing size it was difficult to find anything to fit and the size that my Mum needed was on display so I helped her to get it off and she tried the jumper on and it looked beautiful.

While I was sitting in the change room I saw how twisted around my Mum’s aging body had become.  I thought of the suffering she witnessed her three daughters go through over years.  I thought of the ways she tried to help in the absence of a loving husband.  I then thought of my Mum’s own unhappy and deeply lonely childhood in which there was no father and no emotionally available mother to help her with anything.   It was such a deeply poignant moment and it did humble me, as I saw far deeper and saw my Mum no longer as person who should be occupying a role in a certain way, but just as a very frail and fallible human who did the very best she could with what she knew.

Feeling all this for my Mum does not minimise any of the hurts from the past, however what I am seeing is how I became conditioned to run or to turn away from her.  In a way this was very good as I needed to look elsewhere for what I could not find at home, but none of that seeking could make any deeper sense until the deeper bedrock of my foundation or lack of nurturing foundation came to realisation and there was a lot of pain before that.

My aloneness does not seem as acute today.   It does grow in spaces and places though when I am too far away from kind bodies and human beings who provide a foundation of energy and life for me to connect with.   Little things mean a lot.  My gentle kind gardener who only comes infrequently but today is helping to pick up leaves.  The rare call from a friend asking me how I am and would I like to go for a coffee.  All of these connections that in the past year have come into my life mean so much to me, a person who before could not really bear to have anyone too close in her world for fear she would be overtaken.

And having seen my Mum’s body yesterday and having sat with my own traumatised body yesterday gently in the sunshine just feeling the breath makes me so aware of how much of our soul’s life our bodies carry for us and how important it is for us to go gently with them.

This kind of soft attention is the complete opposite of the violence and trauma of difficult injuries my body has gone through in my life.  I am going to list them below as each hurt and several of them came out of inattention on the part of my caretakers or just their intense focus on other things :

A burnt foot that suffered 3rd degree burns on a camping holiday due to my Mum cleaning the caravan with a bucket of scalding water on the step near where I was drawing.

A fish hook lodged between the webbing of my big and second toe that had to be pulled out by Dad… he left it in the seagrass matting after sorting his fishing tackle.

A deep gash to my wrist which got 30 stiches which happened when the window broke after I was trying to get into an empty house after school.  I had to run to the neighbours to find someone to take me to hospital.

The arm pulled out of shoulder socket after being pulled around by my Mum.

The smash up of my 1979 accident in which I nearly lost my life, punctured my lung, broke and splintered my femur and ulnar bones, lost three teeth and tore my tongue in half.

Six terminations of pregnancy where my womb was sucked out, which may not seem sever but leaves its pulling, tearing echo imprints deep inside.

Various injuries including a cut foot and face smashed into with a metal frame door while in the later years of my addiction.

The final smash up in 2005 when I was on the run trying to address my tortured past.

These are the things that came out of my unmothering, these are the things that came out of my emotional neglect, these are the tortured body/shocks that I have been working to contain and come to terms with as a result of suffering with Complex Post Traumatic Stress for over 20 years.

Its been a lot to grieve.  It has been so much to understand and heal, it has been so much to contain, but I have and now I need to heal the connections and find the restful place of peace which comes at the end of a long journey to understand it all.  It seems to me that healing compassion can only come for me out of the deeper understanding of how our suffering human wounded body struggles to cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in a world that so often does not teach us how to care for and be deeply conscious of our soul in body.

Yesterday shopping with my Mum I felt quiet tired and was so conscious of all I have been asked to carry, however I was also aware of a healing trying to come about, a reconnection between two lost kids who are finally finding in each other a friend.  And my mother is the body my body came out of, her body reflects mine, and my struggle to connect with hers and find mirroring and nurturing there has been so difficult.  Healing for me is only felt in the deeper and acceptance of how much I longed for mirroring and recognition in her body and how much I suffered at times in not finding it, but how that mirroring and recognition was waiting there for me all along in the depths of my own body soul that I had to drag to therapy over so many years in search for the right place where I finally did find a good mirror.

Within that mirror and deep within the mirror of my soul, I have been able to look along the corridor of mirrors of our multigenerational line.  Along this hall of mirrors I have finally found reverberating and reflected across years the struggling lost child with so much grief looking everywhere for a place to lay his or her burden down or have it recognised.  Now I see that burden not as a burden any longer just suffering but also as a tiny new baby that is crying and asking of me mothering at the end of a long road that finally is leading me home.  Along this road I am beginning to find a deeper connection with my ancestors as I work to bring conscious awareness to things as yet unhealed that affected us all so deeply in different ways.  And in this consciousness lies my deepest spiritual work, that and giving it some kind of voice so that it no longer lies unrecognised in the depths of the collective unconscious and to that my mother and her body seems lately to provide my strongest link for body carries soul and life grows out of it as consciously or unconsciously as we allow.

Burn clean

The good thing about just being able to get your mess out there on the blank open page is that you get to see the convoluted workings of your own mind, emotions and insides.  That is how I am feeling today on the back of an inner conflict which sparked a lot of old trauma imprints.  I saw what it stirred up and then when that was out there I could look a little deeper to expectations that I see I have been carrying and are perhaps not at all realistic and the part others played in reaction to things I was doing and choices I was making and living out of unconsciously.  I then got to feel a bit ashamed about some stuff I posted.  But I am going to be an adult and just cop the feelings and keep it out there.  Others can see quite clearly that by no means have I got it together in any significant way.  That like everyone out there I really struggle on a daily basis with just being human, and keeping an open heart and mind.

I am still in many ways working my way out of the slimy sludge of my family of origin which was a family of great trauma too.  Its taken me some years to understand this.  In later years all of the female side of our family have struggled with physical, mental and emotional health issues due to faulty mothering.  I had a very deep insight and vision the other day in therapy when I was sharing a poem about my body and longing with my therapist about the wounding replayed in my last relationships.  As I was reading it I had a vision of a deep vortex spiralling down beneath my feet and swirling around inside the flow of the vortex were my mother and my ex partner’s mother and lower down their mothers and then their mother’s mothers and so on an on and on.  I was sharing with my therapist how I believe this vision was about both the vortex of trauma that Peter Levine speaks of as well as the spiral cadeaucus of the DNA helix that we all carry.

I feel we have all been collectively for some time living out this deep mother wound.  By some kind of coincidence yesterday I turned the television on to see a documentary about a woman aboriginal artist who was speaking about her sculptures of the Black Madonna which is a healing figure showing up in a lot of dreams collectively at the moment and is dealt with by Jungian analyst Marion Woodman in many of her books which centre around her work with those who have had deep mothering wounds..

Marion has worked with many people with addictions and eating disorders.  Her work focuses on the w0unding of childhood abandonment and other mother issues that is manifesting globally.  She speaks a lot about conscious femininity and also about the wounding of the patriachal age that we are coming out of and suffering the consequences of. It is very much evident in how our addictions run us, how woman are mistreated and how the soft feminine side in men also struggles to express and live.  It is also reflected in the way we as the human race abuse the planet and fall out of relationship with our own inner cycles. Could we be collectively struggling with the outworking of a deep wound of collective PTSD which is asking us to heal and become more conscious of the forces of love and hate that manifest in and through our conflicts, bodies, cells and lives?  This is Marion’s idea and it resonates with me.

I have just been reading a book called The Inner Voice of Love it is an interesting book which speaks of how wounds can run us and of how healing happens through our wounds being tended to lovingly and recognised. In one chapter the author, Paul Ferrini says its pointless to say positive affirmations, it is far more powerful to acknowledge where our negativity runs us and in fully feeling and consciously acknowledging it, release it.  He speaks of how we can run everywhere with our wounds looking for love, stuck in victim consciousness and forgetting that only being love, feeling love for ourselves in all our dark and light brings us back to love.  When I read this book which I have had for over 12 years I feel set straight and deeply refreshed in some way, sometimes I feel close to tears or tears well up in deep recognition which seem to wash my hurting soul clean.

Its funny that I named this blog at the outset Burn Clean and along the week of writing and rewriting I have come down to this idea of a soul being washed clean by deeper recognitions that come out of lovingly tending wounds.  Burning and burning something only ends in a pile of ash.  Maybe the water put on those ashes of spent anger turn the ash to clay and make them somehow workable.  These are metaphors I have used in a poem a while back which I will link to in this blog a little later.  I get anxious to post my posts often and later like to refine them.

Today I am feeling a little lonely and sad. My Mum was hospitalised today for the second time in emergency due to a problem with infections in her legs. Today it was my sister who stayed with her, the other day my Mum asked me to leave the hospital and get on with my own life.  I cried a lot.   “Please don’t push me away.”  I said.  It is coming up to the time of year I was pushed away over seas after my father died.  She expressed pain that her wounds are affecting me.  “But isn’t that love?’  I asked.  I did end up going and it may have been for the best as I had therapy that afternoon.  In the end Mum got a taxi home.

Today my sister stayed with my Mum. I need to remember my sister got more support from my mother than I ever did, from the earliest time I was pushed away and maybe that is my fate.  Maybe I should stop fighting it.  Being pushed away, left alone led me to addiction. I am now 23 years out of that.  Painful mother wounds linger.  My male female relationships have all ended, the last around this time of year too.  But when I feel the impact and the loneliness, you know what?  In some way the pain burns clean. When I cry I recognise the wound that goes back over many generation and did not just happen to me but to my ancestors too.

Maybe this fate is one I must carry and who knows if the future holds another love, another chance at connection for me and another chance to heal the wounds with someone where our defences against hurt don’t end up pushing us both away.

One thing I do know, though, as long as I connect to my own deep soul I am truly never alone. I am truly connected and I know I matter, to life, to love, to me and as much as I long to matter to someone else I know it is something I cannot demand but must flow naturally if it is meant to be.