Separating : birthing : integrating

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Its such a tough journey to finally get to the point where we have to let our families go in order to birth the true life and connections that exist outside of its circumscribed limits.  Therapy and emotional healing is a process of both coming to terms with and integrating all of the formative experiences of our past, as well as the deeper hurts and injuries that happened to us in our family of origin.   Many of us battle for a long time against accepting harsh realties most especially if we were wounded or suffered developmental arrests and lost access to our True Self within over many years.  Abandonment gives us no way of accessing the truth of the lost self except through pain which is challenging to feel and integrate, especially in a society where pain is seen as a pathology or illness to be medicated instead of mined for wisdom, growth, connection and meaning.

In my own case a developmental arrest occurred at 17 when I should have been on the brink of opening up and launching.  I was cut down by an accident and then in the 6 years that followed the following traumas occurred : the cerebral bleed, coma and eventual psychosis of my older sister, her eventual abandonment and suicide attempt, two terminations of pregnancy and then my father’s death from cancer.  After my boyfriend broke the relationship off with me just a few weeks after my father died and cancelled our plans to meet abroad, something I had been working and saving towards for over 18 months my mother then decided it was best to push me overseas all alone.

How I was meant to cope with everything I had suffered to that point God only knows. And the truth is its deeper suffering was not even begun to be felt by me for about 14 more years.  I call those the years of unconscious descent, as 7 of them involved active addiction and the next 7 were just spent in AA meetings where it was really not possible to address the extent of my damage.   In 1999 I made my first attempt at therapy and here it is 18 years later and I only feel that I have now done the majority of my conscious descent, which had involved a lot of therapy and broken therapies in order to find the right help.

I only now feel that I am beginning to separate from my family emotionally.  The paradox is that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the suffering fully, in fact I feel it means I feel it at the deepest level as I have chosen not to self medicate as much as possible.  At times I have been very close to suicide, most especially in the past 6 years spent back here in my home town.  I beat myself up all the time about how I didn’t have the courage to move away and deal with it from a distance.  Maybe it was partly the illusion of the inner child pulling me back making me believe that in some way I would get what I wanted emotionally or at least be able to address the pain with family.  That illusion has caused me a lot of emotional suffering and has cost me years and the pain over all that lost life honestly on some days nearly drives me to want to take my life.  It is taking a long time for adult me to emerge and front up, and face the death of those old longings which I see now are not realistic and never were really.  There is a lot of grieving to be done in the shedding and the letting go and fear I am becoming aware does accompany the conscious descent that is asked of us.  In fact I read many years ago that poet Robert Bly spoke of how depression is a refusal on some level often to surrender to deeper grief work.  Only through it do we reunite with the lost child in side who holds so much of our power and inner gold, although often when we find him or her, he or she is most often covered in soot and ashes, this unparented one who is often also a part of our parents’ unconscious.

Anyway I am certainly not alone in facing this kind of pain in midlife.  My journey is made more complex due to two near death traumas which pulled me back when I was on the brink of what should have been a blossoming and emerging or burgeoning time.  My studies suffered in the years following my first accident as I also struggled with the terrible impact of witnessing what my older sister went through.  I was forced by my father at that point into a career I hated and it wasn’t until just before I got sober that I tried to break out of that but addiction wouldn’t let me move too far forward and at that time even more traumas and losses had piled on top of the original ones.

I eventually did manage to do some training in wholistic therapies and managed to secure myself a few jobs in an industry that was more to my liking but I hadn’t yet done my inner work, instead I chose to escape into marriage.   In those years I got sober and started then to really explore my interest in astrology and in 2001 managed to achieve a dream to study at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London which I aborted when my older sister who was now in a care home hit the wall. I also started serious therapy in 1999 in the UK but mid way through I had a powerful dream that an dark African woman had given birth to a baby who died just after its first birthday.  About a year and a half into therapy I aborted to come back home.  In the dream the deep sad eyes of the woman shone as she told me it was a necessary death.

And so it has been.  Death and more death followed.  The ending of marriage, another accident and then another, another relationship and the failing of that and my eventual return to the roots of my home and then a new start in therapy, the suicide attempt of my other sister, five hospitalisations for her for depression which I tried to give emotional support through and then the death of my older sister in 2014 and reconnection with my nephews her sons who were like my long lost brothers.

Wiser energy comes now on a spring afternoon where shadows begin to fall telling me it was all a part of the journey. Why beat myself up?  Will I ever fully leave my family behind?  They were the womb I was born out of but not the place that I am meant to end up but individuation is a journey and its not an easy birth to go through it all and in so many ways my own life is both a continuation of my ancestors life as well as a working out of issues and burdens and tasks they perhaps never got to complete fully which call to me from deep within intercellular tissue, at least that is how it feels for me. Even the ones I never met call to me and I feel their pain and deeper longing to be known and recognised, no longer so lost, exiled or forgotten, fallen deep down into the collective unconscious ocean like stones.  Possibly all configured by my natal Neptune in the third trine to Chiron in Pisces in the seventh more than I could ever fully express in words here.

So much to navigate and not all of it artificial imagining I am sure.  So I continue on some days weighed down so deep by a burden I never chose, but then on other days rising again with a new energy and power that has come from facing and surrendering myself body and soul to the deepest darkness.  So much is a mystery that is all I know.  So many unseen forces play out for us and we can never fully hope to solve the puzzle with our minds but if we still enough at times we hear the inner voice or call telling us things.  Our personal and ancestral soul trying so hard to make its authentic individual voice and inner purpose known.

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Maybe : thoughts on waking up

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Maybe I am meant to see but not always to be seen Maybe my demand to be seen by the sightless is a silly ask Maybe the truth is that it is the love that is given that is most important For there is always love we can give and it opens up when we practice acceptance even of the tough stuff

Feeling deeply is not easy Being human we struggle with mistakes and choices and all kinds of dilemmas  In a world where now there is so much choice probably we learn to live in more of a world of possibilities rather than realities.  When our vision is pulled forward or in too many other directions we struggle to be truly present for ourselves and for others But isn’t this our most important task?

How can we hear a world that is crying out if we don’t listen?  How can we see and feel what is really happening if we are not awake?  How, if we numb ourselves to hurt and pain can we understand that certain things are not good for ourselves or others and this applies to attitudes we hold?

One thing I know, waking up is painful but its preferable to sleep walking.  And there is light in the world if we seek it We must find the sun that warms our heart and soul and not allow the ghosts of cold and heartlessness to dog our every waking moment Where we put the focus of attention is so important and giving love to our pain means we open up a space of tenderness deep inside where things that hurt can be transformed in the light of love’s awareness

An instrument of awakening

I have some powerful moments of realisation at times.  You know the feeling where a new vista opens up on past issues and you suddenly see things from a new and different perspective?  Often it occurs after a long, long period of suffering and questioning.  You descend to the depths in order to see things at a more profound level, so that in some mysterious way the deeper you go the higher your view.

Today I had the thought about my brother in law, the one who caused so much pain and fracturing for our family, or rather was the instigator of a lot of it, what if he was just an instrument of awakening and what also if he carried some of the family shadow?   My Dad for most of his later life was preoccupied with financial success.  Deep down he was a soft man, but born to harsh conditions in 1920 in Holland.  He was also born in a patriarchal world.

I had a counsellor for a while, who was herself Dutch about 4 years ago and when I explained how my father treated his daughters and displayed little affection physically, she told me that was usual for Dutch fathers of his age.  He also did not believe that women should pursue further education to advance a career.  In my case I was forced to go to secretarial college, which I hated and my older sister who had the stroke became a nurse when she would rather have gone to Uni.

Anyway to cut a long story short, my father was responsible and strove and did well, but my brother in law ended up falling short, getting into debt, absconding with the family then sending some of the boys back when things got too hard after he abandoned my sister.  I don’t know the full story, in the end he hurt my sister deeply but she always forgave because that is the kind of heart that she had.  Perhaps she understood more of how hard she pushed to try and move them forward in a way to which he may not have been suited.

The entire result was devastating in every way.  It has marred so many lives including my own.  But today when I rose a little while ago to see the Sun shining I felt a kind of awakening.  What if all of these trials were for a larger purpose of awakening?  What about if our family had to go through all of this separation and disconnection so that in the end it could come back together in a healthier or different way?  What if we could make gold out of this blackness and see how old patterns were actually trying to be arrested?  And what if love was the answer?  Loving something even though it contained such pain?

I also awoke today thinking a lot about alchemy and containment.  For the purposes of maturing we need to contain our impulses and emotions in a healthy way.  We should not repress what we feel but we do need to make a relationship with feelings, most importantly with our reactions to difficult events.  Things not going our own way is challenging for sure.  Having to face frustration of our needs and impulses is so challenging, deeply painful but also essential and important. In order to be emotionally and physically healthy in our world we need the drive and ability and power to express our spirit in some way, rather than have it blocked.  At the same time it seems to me that containing and working through our frustrations, losses and thwartings and handling the associated feelings involves a kind of alchemy.  We have to digest our experiences often over a long period.

This is where the sign of Virgo comes in that we in now.  Mercury is retrograde in Virgo at the moment. It has been for some weeks.  For me it hit the deepest part of my chart when it stationed backward a few weeks ago.  It hit my Pluto.  We had the lunar and solar eclipses during this time.  Personally I have felt so much going on in my physical and emotional digestive system.  The sign of Virgo is ruled by Mercury and I was thinking today that we actually have two brains in our system.  There is the brain in our head as well as the brain in our gut.  I read in a book by trauma specialist, Peter Levine a few years ago that for every nerve fibre travelling from the brain to the gut we have 10 more travelling in the other direction.

Our deepest emotions live in our gut. This too, is where the inner child lives (in esoteric astrology the sign of Virgo is ruled not only by Mercury but by the Moon which relates to emotions and our inner child).  The gut is where we digest things and experiences and process them to then make sense of them in our brains. What is processed here is also passed onto other organs such as the kidneys and liver.  Add to this that we have a heart too that is ruled by the Sun and fiery Leo where we feel the will to both love and expression.

When that fire goes out our vital spirit feels almost dead. It is hard to eat and even to breathe as our heart connects so closely to the lungs (ruled by Gemini and Mercury too).  We have to process things.  We have to contain them.  We have to chew the raw food of experience over and over in order to gain the right understanding and nutrition, wisdom, intelligence and insight.

And I guess that during this current Mercury retrograde period that is what has been happening for me.  I have began to make sense of the fact that perhaps every thing that happened to my sister via my brother in law was really the working out of something deeper, some thing that had lessons for all of us.

It seems to me that often when we blame circumstances in some way we miss the deeper understandings that can come.  You see it all the time when tragedy strikes, people quickly rush to blame or seek the person or person’s responsible and punish them.  And most certainly people should be held to account.  But what if when tragedy strikes really there is deeper work than this to be done?   If we don’t stop and grieve and allow our pain to go deeper and teach us important things or birth deeper realisations it seems to me that we can often miss the deeper truth or meaning or purpose of the experience.

In my own case I am seeing now how much fear I have carried in my own life.  I was scared of my brother in law in many ways.  I linked that fear to fear of being close to my nephews in some way in therapy yesterday.  I both longed for connection and feared it.  Would they be safe? Would they end up hurting or abandoning me in the way their father did my sister?  Is it any wonder I felt so much fear?  That in the years following my sister’s abandonment and suicide attempt that I had 6 terminations of pregnancy and untold difficulties in getting close to any man in a deeply intimate way?   That I myself, came to fear life and love and risk as well as full embodiment?

The answer is NO its obvious that is how it would have affected most of us!  In the end I would rather this experience never had to befall any of us in my family, but the truth is that it did.  And now our task or my task is to live in the best way with the result and after examining the forces and impact make new choices for happiness or at least gain deeper insight into my fears.

I spoke in an earlier post about the wave I felt pass over me last week and weekend with my nephew’s visit.  I thought a lot yesterday about how much I can actually fear my own feelings and fear having them in relationship.  I intellectualise a lot because I was left alone for most of my life trying to make sense of deeply painful and confusing experiences in the adult world that befell both me and others.   I learned often to take myself off alone.  I learned to knee jerk react and act without containing often as a reaction to over whelming stress and then I hit walls with accidents which pulled me up short, but maybe for a reason, so that I could internalise to then be able to make a more conscious step forward, one that was not so dictated by trauma but informed by it, if that makes sense.

Today that is the realisation and reckoning I am arriving at.  Mercury moves back into the final degrees of Leo in a few days where it slows to station forward.  As it does it hits the degree of the Solar Eclipse of 21-22 August.  That is right on natal Uranus in the first house which is all about individuation, shock, disconnection, severing, enlightenment and awakening.  Oh and freedom!  But its also about turning away at times from the instinctual world of feeling to a realm of intellectual understanding which at times can be a divorced or disconnected from earthly containment and emotional realities.  In the best sense enlightenment brings light to those deeper darker Plutonian experiences and emotions we all go through.  Hopefully in the end deeper understanding when digested helps us and will help me embody more and no longer split.  Maybe it will help me to ground, turn back, embody and make peace with the earthly shackles of a far from perfect or ideal life and experiences which were so often so far beyond my own control.

Seed of becoming

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Dead quiet

No one is coming

And the only way

Of becoming

Requires of you

A travelling forth

Memory of ocean

Kept you imprisoned

Swimming deeply in your cells

For 5 long years

Ocean was

Isolation

Loss

Wilderness

A solitary scream

Heard by no one

But your own body

Longing so deep

For all that could not be recognised

For all that you could not express

When you are not seen

It seems to your soul

As if you live such a long way off

Body and being voided

You search for redemption in the sky

But it is not coming

Now the challenge is this

To become earth bound

To land

To walk across earth

Grounding

Being

Becoming

Hurts like hell

But that hurt is just birthing pain

Surrender to it

Open

It is the pain of your becoming

The pain of the husk

Breaking open

To release the seed

Of your self

The Undertow : reflections on the Inner Critic and the Inner Child

Many thanks to a fellow blogger for inspiring the title of this post.  I just reblogged the post in which Laina Eartharcher addressed two powerful forces of our inner world : the inner child and the inner critic.   I could also rename those two ‘The Joy Maker’ and ‘The Doom Merchant’.

As in inner force and compatriot of the force of the Undertow the Inner Critic’s game is to get us swirling into a negative downward spiral.  In some books on spirituality and emotional recovery the Inner Critic is referred to as the negative ego.  It works against acceptance, mercy, gratitude and enlightenment as well as against connection.  The negative critic only sees what is bad or hard, it keeps its focus on what you or others did wrong, how bone crushing that was, how unforgiveable and horrific. That’s not to say what happened to you wasn’t absolutely awful and negative but the truth is are you going to live with the negative power of it going over and over and over in your mind day after day after day convincing you that life will never be safe or joyous again.

On the other side of our mind scape is the joyous, innocent, soul infused Inner Child.  Full of radiance and life this inner child sees hope, she sees the mystery, he feels the pain and suffering and looks upon them with eyes of innocence.  He or she naturally or instinctively reaches out a hand to hold yours when you are in pain. He or she does not recoil in fear.  He or she is the quiet still inward voice that can dissolve the critic’s ceaseless shaming and admonishments.  Loving soulful inner child just says “I am so sorry you are in pain.  I am here.  You are not alone. What you went through really hurt.  Lets just be calm and still for a time and open our heart to what needs to be heard or felt.”  She then says “Don’t you think it would help to touch base with beauty, mystery and awe somewhere say music, nature, poetry, a hot bowl of chicken soul, a frolic in a meadow with your dog.”  He or she restores us to naked simplicity.

Often all of this is what the wounded hurting inner child in us most needs to hear, see or do never moreso than when he or she has just been besieged, attacked or assailed by the pain mongering of the Inner Critic pulling her down deep inside the soul sucking vortex of the painful undertow.

The undertow is not always to be resisted though.  Smetimes we need to be taken down.   There can be a healing power in an undertow that is calling us to descend to the bedrock or bottom of oceanic consciousness that as yet contains unfelt pain or need or longing or grief which is waiting patiently and silently there for us to recognise it and ride its upward surge as it carries us on a powerful wave of soulful love towards a distant shore or recognition, embodiment of suffering, soul awakening and peace.

Insights that hurt us may be contained here, but never the less their healing power and intention may be love.   It may be the necessity of our recognition of ways in which we stumbled, failed, fell short or missed he mark (the real meaning of the word mistake), ways in which our own unacknowledged pain, hurt, shame, anger, need for retribution or fear kept is locked up and imprisoned, barricaded from love and its winged accomplice miracle consciousness.

We may need to be pulled down into and by that undertow for a time.  But I do not believe we should allow ourselves to be held hostage too long by that other negative force the Doom laden Inner Critic who in showing no mercy or deeper insight into the tangled byways of living and journeying towards consciousness keeps our level of awareness frozen, pinned, fixed or sucked downwards in a yawning, empty, hungry soul emptying place.

Such a critic is actually a cadaveur of the soul’s birthing genesis, laying to waste our blossoming as soul conscious individuals and savaging our emerging inner child who may as yet have no legs to stand on, but must crawl or be rocked and cradled for a long time before he or she begins to walk and sing and dance again.

Along this pathway of becoming and emerging we must instead learn how to shrink or shut the door on that voice of doom and unrequited pain and shame and turn instead towards the open radiant loving face of our inner child, pregnant and rich with as yet untapped possibility.  We must not allow the critic to savage his or her innocence but recognise instead through her instinctual reactions to what maimed or hurt us powerful ways of resisting and saying ‘No!  This is me and I am innocent.  I am not wrong or bad but good and strong and most of all I deserve to live! And I will. I will find my voice.”  Our Inner Child must never be killed off or buried by the Critic because he or she is the deepest, profoundest, wisest, realest, most connected and uncorrupted force in our soul.

Really love

Really is it any wonder so many of us suffer in a society where the true value and need for love, tenderness, empathy and connection can be so absent?   Where society and the media and advertising send us messages to be different, feel different, numb out or soldier on over-riding our body and soul’s need for good nurture, expression and rest? Promoting messages to judge or fear others and not look any deeper than the surface?

Also is it any measure of health to actually be bullet proof, unaffected by the state of the world around us, insensitive to suffering and devoid of feeling or understanding even for those most affected by the inherent violence of our culture?  I firmly believe it is not.  I firmly believe that so called ‘mental illness’ is often just an understandable reaction to trauma, abandonment and abuse and the development of defensive strategies to cope in the face of insanity and at some point the unconscious choice to adopt defensive strategies which block love and keep us trapped in hatred, fear and anger needs to be faced.  Some of us can do it and some of us cannot.

And this is not to imply that we don’t need boundaries against abuse as we do.  We also need a lot of consciousness to see where other’s blockages are adversely affecting us and skilful means for keeping ourselves protected while not blocking out love, or remaining deeply crippled by fear.

I awoke in horror after my dental surgery in the early hours of Thursday morning to the painful realisation of how I surrendered my own protection into the responsibility of others when as an adult it was up to me to protect myself and then I laid myself open for abuse in order to win so called protection and love while surrendering myself and my own soul care at the deepest most fundamental level.  I wasn’t protected as a child so I didn’t get to develop that muscle and it all came out of abandonment wounds repeating along generations.  It has been a tough and bitter pill to swallow but I have ingested it.  Last night I slept for 9 full hours with no break, people that is a miracle in no uncertain terms I have not had that much unbroken sleep for over 10 years.

I really did not feel like I could go on yesterday.   Trying to eat with the new denture felt like hell.  How would my body cope if I could not break the food down?  But then miraculously I was reminding myself to go gently.  Its going to take time to adjust to the new reality and there are deep wounds and such deep, deep, deep sadnesses around that I so acutely need to feel and shed.  I did that yesterday.  And there has been a shit load of loss and pain in my life that never needed to be denied, that I really needed a lot of help to process and at times when I needed that help the pain drew me towards others in deep unconscious pain who wanted to punish me for reminding them of theirs.  Its been a lot to wake up to.  But is 9 am and I am awake, fully!

Today listening to the words of Coldplay “have to find yourself alone in this world, have to find yourself alone” just playing resonate and my skin has chills as Chris Martin stretches that final aloooonnneee out into the atmosphere.  Sooner or later life returns us to the deepest of alone places where we find our hurting child amidst a pile of wreckage and rubble and we have the choice whether or not to pick that child up and love her with a fierce lioness discipline.   Or surrender her to him to the hungry wolves or predators.  And while a lot of the journey inwardly does occur alone, we also need witnesses and helpers, we are never totally alone when we reach out for real help that helps us do the work.

Now the joyous Sky Full of Stars is bursting out of my stereo and that to me seems fitting because the love that bursts out of our soul when we find our love for everything even our deepest abandonment has the power to illuminate us at the very deepest level.  We shine brightest after we have seen and fully embraced the darkest truth that is in us, that really love is the basis of everything never more painful than when it lies deep inside hidden, unrecognised or denied.

This is the rainbow bursting forth from rain and mist, this is the milky orb of the sunshine diluted by clouds and overcast skies that never the less has so much warmth and power in it.  It can never be permanently obscured.

And then I sense shining around me, each ancestor, each one of those stars and we form a constellation of linkages of love, being and essence for these lights never die they only gets obscured at times, sadly and our awakening to our longing for them in the darkest depths, surviving and accepting those depths is what births the truth of love, a love too powerful to deny.

For love really is all, but we just forget it and when we turn our back on it, it follows us in all kinds of ghostly guises we no longer recognise haunting us a long a corridor of years.   Until we remember the truth – turn to face those ghosts, love them embrace them and accept them into our hearts.

Tears of becoming

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This will just be brief as I have to go to an appointment soon but I wanted to get this down as lately I have been crying so deeply and sharing with my therapist yesterday, after reading a blog I wrote yesterday but did not post to her she said to me.

Deborah, I think these tears you are crying are actually tears of becoming, they are the soul’s expression of grief for your lost self, sadness from the real self that never got to fully birth but is birthing now.

WOW!   It made so much sense for me, yesterday the post I wrote and will post today was about the missed opportunities and how disappointed I am in myself but in the session we spoke of how the second accident coming at a pivotal time when I was trying to emerge at the end of my marriage echoed the earlier one that happened when I was on the brink of opening to my being and sexuality and self.  It was a full scale onslaught that tore my flesh apart and ruptured me, taking me into hospital, an enclosed womb attached by pins to a pully and bed for three months.  I carry the deep echo imprint of that.

Katina said to me.  I want to say this, please take care now as you are on the brink of emerging again and the traumatic imprint could be retriggered.  It scares me but birth is also a kind of death a death of the old self we have to shed like a skin that has grown too tight for us.  Shedding it leaves us open, raw, vulnerable and naked for a time very exposed, shedding so many tears.  Tears of becoming.