Finding connection through disconnection after trauma

Some people just get us.  Some people are an energy of love that you can just feel.   When you are with them your heart opens and you feel your energy lift.  They don’t subtly or so unsubtly invalidate you or put you down.  When you have not known this kind of pure love and open heartedness it can be so easy to distrust.  And we sensitive ones do need to be careful at times who we open up to as a lot of people may blame or shame us.  But still I do think there are also those out there who recognise our high sensitivity.

I often wonder how much less sensitive we may have been in a better or more self protective way if this side of us was seen, acknowledged or valued earlier on.  Traumatic things hit us hard and Peter Levine, the trauma expert makes the point that how we are treated immediately after trauma affects how well we recover.  In my own case I was on the other side of the world so far from family support when my second trauma hit and I escaped there as to be around their energy felt violent emotionally to me.  After the accident I struggled to find a safe space then freaked out and came back home.  It was a night mare.

I retreated alone and then got into a relationship with someone who brutalised me when I showed grief.  I justified how he treated me and kept going back because I did not know I needed more.  I was not kind to myself and had never learned really to value who I was and my capacity to feel.  I put down alcohol and smoking at 31 as I really wanted to live in a kinder way but that was just the beginning of understanding how the energies of others around me affected me and how I was responding.  As I look back over the past six years of being back near family I see I have struggled to maintain my own boundaries and self care with all the other traumas that followed especially the attempted suicide of my other sister.

Not one family member has chose to do any emotional work at all.  I try to point things out but it is often like trying to lead a horse to water.  And I am beginning to see that by myself I suffer in a family at times where feelings and sensitivities have to be so hidden and that is physically so repressed and non demonstrative.  I see how my living sister uses exercise herself to connect in the absence of the love and holding that is really needed.  These days I only see one or two friends who I can really connect with and often I think my body is suffering and crying out for holding care and love.  Maybe it is time for me to start to seek out some kind of touch therapy and holding, I have been considering Reiki.

I have often come to grief with holding therapies.  I had the accident after a session of cranio sacral.  The second time I tried it I freaked out with the therapist and she shamed and invalidated me so much I left, letting someone into your body when you have suffered traumas to it and violations of it is fraught with peril and such big feelings but at the moment I think it may help to release some of what my tissues have had to hold so deep inside over past years.

I am sharing about this today and the synchronicity with astrology is that today Mercury is in the body ruled sign of Virgo which relates to earth mother and is coming up to oppose natal Chiron in the seventh which is all my wounds in relationships from the past and maybe that is healing now as on WordPress I now seem to have made so many good connections with people who truly validate and understand.   It helps me to write about all of this and what others post really prompts and awakens my own healing.  In this way I make connections in all kinds of ways and that is the work of Mercury who travels and links us.  Today I as I was walking I was imagining the entire world as a web of interconnected energies.  Who we meet with and connect with on any day has such a powerful impact on us for good or ill and surely there people out there who we could really gel with but just never get to meet.  In any case here is where I get to share and pour out the way I feel and I am so grateful for that.

Moving through trauma

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During my current radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer, I need to lie very still.  I am placed into position by a team of two to three radiology assistants who arrange my body in a very precise way in order for the radiation to target specific areas of my body.

This could be very traumatising and triggering for me if I did not have the awareness of how much being paralysed or having to stay still played a part in my the traumatic stress and was a key symptom I suffered for so many years.  These feelings are a huge part of what it feels like to be a trauma survivor, subject to forces we had to freeze in the face off, cutting off huge chunks of our vital life and spirit.

Peter Levine’s work with healing from trauma shows how important movement of stress and tension within the body is and how important tremors and other involuntary muscle movements are to the release of PTSD and the energy which remains locked up in our body stored as vibration which reverberates.  Requiring those who have been traumatised to keep this energy locked up is severely damaging and has terrible consequences.

Levine writes :

If frightening sensations… are not given the time and attention needed to move through the body and resolve/dissolve (as in trembling and shaking) the individual will continue to be gripped by fear and other negative emotions.  The stage is set for a trajectory of mercurial symptoms.  Tension in the neck, shoulders and back will likely evolve over time into the syndrome of fibromyalgia.  Migraines are also common somatic expression of unresolved stress.  Knots in the gut may mutate to common conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, severe PMS or other gastrointestinal problems such as spastic colitis.  These conditions deplete the energy resources of the sufferer and may take the form of chronic fatigue syndrome.  These sufferers are most often the patients with cascading symptoms who visit doctor after doctor in search of relief, and generally find little help which aids them.

Trauma is the great masquerader and participant in many maladies and “diseases” that afflict sufferers.  It can perhaps be conjectured that unresolved trauma is responsible for a majority of the illnesses of modern mankind.

Moreover, he explains, healing does not necessarily result through a catharsis or constant reliving of traumatic imprints and memories which can just lead to further trauma and painful emotions without resolving them and leading the sufferer back to a sense of trust and faith in life and his or her own badly traumatised body.

What helps is to enable the sufferer to explore the symptoms locked in the body (and often even frozen out of awareness) in tandem with a re-grounding in feelings of pleasure and movement associated with non traumatic memories and experiences which provide the patient with a way out of the repetitive cycles of re-traumatisation and collapse into feelings of never ending pain, sadness, hopelessness and fear.

In his therapeutic practice and sessions (as explained in his ground breaking book In An Unspoken Voice : How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness), Levine assists his patients in the experience of body sensations of pain contained within a larger process of sensation that allow for feelings of warmth and safety which allow the patient a feeling of power (and may I say even, love).  Essential to this treatment is an awareness that they can move into and out of the frozen trapped state of trauma to feel again, to move again, to risk loving again even when this process involves feelings of vulnerability.

In his work with a patient and holocaust survivor, Adam, explored in the above book, Levine leads Adam back to the feelings of his child self , lost long ago.  In a particularly moving excerpt. Adam comes to the following realisation : “I am alive”.

Part of suffering from PTSD and Complex PTSD is that part of us feels dead.  We may be dissociated, fear social interaction and even be living lives in which we reduce our movement so much that we no longer engage in a dynamic or social way.  In many ways we are held hostage by a past and by buried trapped feelings that have paralysed us on some level.

Healing involves knowing we can move, that there is joy despite the pain we have suffered.  That we can begin to open the dark door that contains our past trauma and suffering without being overwhelmed or permanently flooded by the experience, developing a sense of what Levine calls middle ground from which to negotiate past traumatic symptoms which contain a life energy longing for attention and release in order that our lives can be transformed and we can find the will and desire to move again.

Healing involves developing a degree of mindfulness into painful sensations, developing a place or ground of safety that can contain us as we begin to feel and grieve (like Adam) for all that was lost through trauma and finding of a place of hope that lets us know we can survive the experience of renegotiating our trauma with a heart that is opened to both suffering  and love.

Who knows

that in the depth of the ravine

of the mountain

of my hidden heart

a firefly of my love

is aflame

Abutsu Ni

Reconnecting with trauma

I just came across an interesting article about traumatic bonding.   It opened up a lot of questions about how to reconnect with trauma effectively since one of the results of being traumatised in childhood is that we are not allowed to have a true instinctive response to trauma.  In addition part of trauma is that we are not actually allowed to have the very real emotion that we have at the time.

There are many ways our parents might respond or fail to respond to our emotions.  The hardest being when they are ignored or punished.  The end result is that of dissociation,  we push out of awareness that which was upsetting and bury it into the body where the memory and also the chemicals live.

How then to get in touch with trauma since traumatic imprints are denied by the mind (in many cases trauma itself shuts off the thinking brain,  trauma is stored in more primitive instinctive parts of the brain and the connection of these to the thinking brain is broken or shut down?).  The only way we can truly access the trauma is later life is to actually feel the sensations that accompanied the trauma and have help from someone to make sense of them which is a very, very complex and difficult process fraught with all kind of complications.

I do know a fair bit about his as I have suffered from Complex PTSD for at least the last ten years.  I had existing trauma within me from a younger age which was actually reactivated as I sought therapy with the result that a new trauma that mirrored an earlier near death trauma was catalysed when I sought healing for the original trauma.

I have had at least a dozen if not more attempts to work with trauma in both body centred therapy and psychotherapy.  I was a little disturbed last week to read on one site that talk therapy is not considered effective to deal with deep trauma since deep trauma lives in the body and memory of it is dissociated from the mind.  I have spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on psychotherapy and much of it has been helpful, some of it has been abusive and harmful.

I have arecently started work with a body therapist and have found that my ability to connect with the deeply repressed traumas was much improved in a situation where the therapist connected with my own body deeply through the use of touch and allowed my body trauma to speak and feelings to rise up in images, sensations and impressions which are then accessible through communication with the therapist who acts in an unconditionally supportive way.

If you think about it (and that is probably the strangest thing to write in preface to the words to follow) emotion exists in a world beyond words, most especially when we are young.  So if we endure traumas or are around traumatising energy before we have developed the capacity to self reflect and find words for the experience it is going to be an exceptionally difficult thing to make sense of and find words for that which happened to us when we had not yet developed the capacity to think and reflect on what we reacted to and felt as babies and youngsters.  And yet that truth will live on through as. We are resonate beings with bodies that respond reflect and mirror reactions and energies in the environment.

Its seems so essential if we have been traumatised and suffer the effects of trauma that we find a way to be with and connect to our bodies in silence for part of the day in order that we can be receptive to what our bodies have buried and what they may be trying to remember or bring our attention to in the day.  However if one of the effects of trauma was to immobilise us for a time in a severe or life threatening way it may be very difficult for us to be still and quiet with ourselves due to imprints of fear and terror re-evoked by being immobile again.

One solution is that we find ways to alternate times of still, deeply connected inward tuning with movement.  Feeling that we are stuck or paralysed will not help us to feel more empowered.  In my own case with the trauma I experience I have times when inward focused attention on the body leads to immobilisation and flooding with trauma chemicals reactivates key times of being immobilised.

I spent an entire three months immobilised in a hospital bed at the age of 17 pinned to the bed in skeletal traction with a pin going through the left lower leg just below the knee.  Now when I experiencing the spiralling of the trauma vortex which can paralyse me all the twisting is localised not in the leg that was immobilised but in the other leg (my right).  At times the way to freedom rests not on fighting the feeling of being pinned and immobilised but in surrendering to the sensations that come when I choose to experience this state actively and fully consciously.  At these times I am flooded with fear but I can learn to hold myself still in the middle of that fear, concentrate on the breath and give love to myself from a witness level of observation without disconnecting from feeling.

It takes a great deal of courage to deal with these flashbacks such as these and tomorrow I will post a blog I have been working on for some time on steps to help deal with emotional flashbacks which occur for those of us who have buried trauma.  Our body asks us to reconnect with its messages and make sense of them, since during trauma the part of the brain that can do this is shut down and the connection between it and the trauma laden brain is disconnected.  Reconnecting with the sensations in a situation in which we can be helped to make sense of them helps our life to be more full of understanding and we can learn ways to look after ourselves, so essential if we are to recover and find acceptance and love for our true predicament.

The loving gaze

I wrote this post earlier in the week.

As a child we need the loving eyes of the mother to connect with, to mirror us. I had a powerful experience in today’s body work session as my therapist was working with my spine.  I was standing upright and she was touching me gently around the heart, one hand on the front and the other behind.

As usually happens, she was reminding me to breathe. At that moment I had trouble breathing and then I was pulled deeply into a past traumatic time/memory  :  I am in the car with my lungs crushed by the steering wheel and my teeth broken, legs cut with car pieces inside them, searing pain although me, struggling to breathe as my lung is pierced by a rip and fluid flows inward, paramedics behind me with a mask trying to put it over my face which I wanted to fight and twist to push off.

My therapist kept her gaze on mine and I felt anxious at connecting to her gaze being so powerfully drawn in by the trauma and in the session, her gaze became for me an anchor to connect me with present time. My tendency is to dissociate back into the trauma which obviously still lives for me on a body level.

As she was looking into my eyes with love and telling me I was safe a huge well of emotion rose up. Trauma takes you into a lonely place where it seems no one else can accompany you. It is about a split or a removal from a place of connectedness and love where you are flooded with pain and no one can help you or reach you. You feel yourself to be so alone.

On the day of my accident all those years ago I was conscious enough to be able to give the paramedics my mother and father’s telephone number. Mum came to the site of the accident and rode with me in the ambulance. I was lucky to be found. At the time I was so caught up in my own experience I had not consciousness of its impact on others.

I have relived this event in another cranio-sacral session many years ago after which I had a bike accident and the pattern was repeated, except this time I was on the other side of the world with no support, only my ex husband and his mother who didn’t want to have to really be bothered with me. It was a dark and lonely time.

Glimpses of light came. The beautiful girl from my Dad’s home down in Holland who came to help me with my shopping and be a companion when I needed it. I don’t know how I would have survived without her.

And yet then again the family I was with were unable to cope and I made the decision to take myself to Glastonbury and an ashram away from the support of my friend.  This is a pattern for me.  Uranus and Pluto in the first house.

There are imprints and echoes for me at this time of year which represents the time I was in hospital in 1979 in the final term of school unable to attend my graduation and of that journey to the underworld over in England later in 2005.

It takes time to integrate the overwhelming nature of trauma. I am still deep in process. I seem to be making progress.

Last week was hard. I had four days where the trauma pulled me in, what pulls me out each time is talking to someone, my best friend, my Mum or the Lifeline counsellor on the days no one else is answering the phone call.

Without love and connection there is nothing to form  a link into the traumatised reality and the fact it scares others, since we are undergoing enormous fear means we can be abandoned again. As a trauma sufferer who has often lashed out I am grateful for those who understand and don’t abandon me. I think of the times I was alone as a child and there was no set of eyes to see me. To hold me in a loving gaze.

It is something my recently deceased sister used to give me, in the absence of my Mum’s care she was there, until she married and went overseas. In later life in the care home she would often gaze on me with love. She too was traumatised, she was stuck, it’s a family pattern.

I am not entirely sure where this blog has gone. I just came home from the dog park where I have not been able to connect with the group I usually connect to. They are caught up in an easy banter and joking that on some days I just cannot participate in.

I need to just play with my dog and have some simple time together where we are not frozen in place by conversation but are free to move about the park. I am aware today how important movement is for me.

The longing for the loving gaze from the wrong quartes is not as strong now I have the therapeutic support. Being seen, held and understood makes it easier to do this for myself.

For now I want to write about the experience as it so important that those living within a traumatised reality are understood and attempts made to connect with them.

You do not know what even a kindly smile can do for a person who may not have seen or been able to connect with anyone else all day. In the end its love that heals, its non judgemental awareness and presence which makes trauma bearable for us.  Even if you cannot understand, even it scares you, please try.  And if you cannot, please try to be kind.  Do not devastate us more with your misunderstanding, fear and judgement.

The importance of validation

Do you have a really good friend who sets your world back to rights when you get a little mixed up, uncertain, filled with confusion?

I am blessed to say that I do. This friend is a lot like me, he never judges me, he shows me understanding, when I am confused and stuck in self judgement as a result of my invalidating past, he sets me straight in the nicest way by valuing, validating and putting out a sane and balanced point of view.

This happened to me today. I was feeling like there was something wrong with me. In a body work session some deeply buried anger and grief at not being supported or loved when I was grieving by a few rigidly defended members in my support group 7 or so years ago came up. I had an outburst about it in the therapy as I was tapping into the feelings in my body work session.

At the time, all those years ago I had stuffed the distress and upset in my body. When I came home I put on loud music and danced around the room in a frenzy and as a result I ended up falling backwards and hitting my shoulder very painfully against a lounge chair arm with a steel casing. This is quite funny as I read it back and it not sound like a very traumatic injury but it really hurt me and it came one year following a major head trauma I suffered overseas, on the first anniversary of my husband making the decision to end my marriage.

I now see how stuck I was at the time, still very bonded to a family with lots of unresolved trauma in both my family and myself. When the second injury occurred I was isolated and living alone in a coastal town without any support or daily contact with anyone but my support group on one day a week. I didn’t have a therapist which I now know is essential to healing and I could not move forward to make a new start. I was too traumatised. The bridge of trust to the outside world and others was broken due to past invalidation and lack of emotional support.

My family suffered from a difficulty in showing empathy, unconditional love and I now see it was a mistake to look to them. I needed to build a sense of support within myself from knowing who I truly was, what I had suffered and the extent to which my grief over past difficulties including the loss of my father had impacted on me. I only realise all of this now though, with the gift of hindsight.

It is only lately that I am able to feel the true pain of the things I carried and struggled with, without self judgement. I didn’t really have a place to go to fully express my aching soul.

I am so grateful to have come across a wonderful blog online here : The Invisible Scar through following a post, reblogged on yet another site by Robert Goldstein yesterday. This blog is related to informing people about the impact of emotional abuse in childhood, abuse which is not as obvious as overt physical abuse but never the less leaves deep scars on the psyche and soul which are invisible.

This invisible wound or scar aches, throbs and burns. In my own case I have felt this wound to self like a piece of schrapnel which is lodged deep within me, which moves around, is sometimes soothed and receeds into the back ground from a time, and then comes to consciousness in pain especially at night when the unconscious makes itself more conscious on a somatic level. I am working with a body work therapist now to understand and help with the total immobilisation I suffer on some days.

I am not sure if in today’s bodywork session my anger was fully validated by the therapist. She looked a little taken a back. My anger wasn’t directed at her it was at the old situation. She said to me “you know it is okay to be angry”. Part of me doesn’t truly believe this to be so. She questioned me as to whether I was in the present or past when I was feeling it. I have always been able to keep a check on my anger in that I won’t lash out at others and am very much aware it is of the past. At times I have projected and transferred it but it doesn’t take me long to get a handle on it. It first began to emerge over seven years ago after Chiron passed over my natal Mars Saturn Moon, I would allow myself to scream and shout or hit something after removing myself to a safe space.  I would also express it in my journal often tearing up the page through about seven layers with the pen after laying down an angry scrawl. Then after many years the grief under the anger began to make itself felt.

I know at times I have scared others and even when I have not hurt them they have tried to make me feel my anger has hurt them and I am bad or wrong for feeling it.  Today I know that feelings just are, emotional invalidation is to judge someone’s feeling as wrong if it challenges you and the to try and manipulate them to change.  I have suffered this at the hands of my family many times.

This kind of invalidation has had to happen several times for me to see it wasn’t my problem, but theirs especially if they tried to demonise me for it.   At the time these reaction made me feel that it was NOT okay to be angry. But I beginning to trust that when I feel angry some kind of boundary has been violated or I have been abused subtly. I now have a good therapist who can help me in this.  As my  awareness has grown, I don’t have to vocalise as much and can take steps to deal with it. When I do I can ask myself how I have been triggered.

My catholic education led me to believe anger was wrong and yet justified anger is what is needed most to protect our spirits from violation. In the temple Jesus showed real anger with the sanctity of the space was violated by the money lenders.

My being, soul and body is my own temple. It’s a temple that has often been invaded, in childhood by having procedures forced on me like painful orthodontic treatment to improve my bucked teeth, a haircut of long hair off I didn’t want or need, through to injuries from parental neglect or lack of care and attention. Once I  got third degree burns to my foot after my Mum placed a boiling hot bucket of water on a step near to where I was drawing which I stepped into. My arm was pulled out of socket by her pulling me back. Once I cut open my wrist and nearly severed the tendons after being locked outside the house. The key to the house had not been put back on the hook and when I came home I was locked out and ended up breaking a window which cut my wrist open. I ran down to the neighbours and they took me to hospital but when the cut happened I felt so scared and alone.

In addition as a child I learned to orient myself around my mother’s needs, it was the only way to get her attention which was focused almost solely on her business and keeping the house and us perfectly clean, tidy and controlled. She was never there after school to care, cherish, nourish and support. I found myself in tears yesterday after seeing the support being offered to someone who was being mentored for singing.

Reading about similar issues on the blog of The Invisible Scar has made me realise where the emptiness, loneliness and sadness of my late childhood and early adolescence came from. I sought relief from it through addictions from my late teens on and caused myself even more damage through picking people who could not support or validate me.

I feel a certain anxiety even writing all of this, a fear of judgement, inner voices telling me I am being narcissistic and self obsessed. Whose voices are these?. That is part of not feeling very strong in my own sense of self.

Those of us recovering from this kind of history know how long it takes, how painful the road and how necessary it is to have those who can validate us along the way. My friend that I mentioned earlier does that for me. There was a period a few years ago when I had to let go of some friends who seemed determined to blame me and shame me. It was a painful lesson but in the end I was better off alone, hard as that was. They had no idea of how trauma had trapped me, how jangled my nervous systems was.

Now I am lucky enough to have my best friend as well as others online and a very good therapist who support the part of me that is truly me and trying to emerge, that unconsciously carries all the body memory of violation and is working hard to integrate these into awareness.

Without them I don’t know if I could have made sense of my twisted world or of the body symptoms I have suffered from repressed feelings. I am beginning to attain clarity into my past by listening to what has been buried in my body. In releasing it, in acknowledging it, I heal.

For this to happen I need first external validation and help in understanding how I can be confused when those threatened or unaware or unconsciously triggered in their own defences seek to invalidate me.

Blogging gives me a voice, a place to share, and reading others blogs helps me to recognise we are all in this together and have much to teach and learn from each other along the journey of healing. Through hearing your story I can heal and I hope by hearing mine you can too. xo

Feeling good enough

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Here is a question for you.  Do you believe you are “good enough”?  My thoughtful self balks at even writing those two words, which invite another couple of questions, good enough for whom or what? This post is provoked both by reading the daily meditation for 19 September in my daily reader, One Foot in Front of the Other,  on perfectionism and also by the remorselessly critical inner voice that lays me to siege from time to time and most especially on the days when I am not travelling as well.

In this reading Tian Dayton, the author writes :

Dark forecasting was a residue of a childhood dysfunction and trauma. I experienced a loss of trust and faith that the world was a predictable, safe place, that my needs were meet-able and not too much, that relationships could be fulfilling rather than disappointing.

As the reading goes on Tian talks of how a sense of seeking perfection of ourselves and others and looking for the worst can begin to prevail in our lives and alter the way we think about people, life, experiences and relationships. It can also affect the way we think about ourselves, most especially if how we were or expressed ourselves was deemed to be bad or an inconvenience for others, our true feelings and needs, ignored, punished, misunderstood, denigrated or shamed, leading us to internalise this treatment. The healing path is to recognise the impact of our past and the role it plays in our thinking.

Today my inner critic began one of its familiar rants :  what a waste of space I am, growing less attractive, as I age, just not measuring up at all. Today was the first time I’ve told the voice full throttle to Fuck the hell Off. I was aware that my body was being pulled into the downward spiral of post traumatic stress. As I yelled back at the voice and allowed my self to get really angry at it (this dear reader is a first for me!!!) I did some powerful; resistance stretching, got dressed and moved out into the brisk cold windswept day to walk, my dog Jasper by the lake. I then went to our local fruit and veg markets, read my book and had a cup of coffee.

While I was smack bang in the middle of this experience I looked down and noticed the complex textures and colours in my denim jeans, flecked cardigan and scarf.  I felt the wind on my face and as well as feeling with my fingers the texture of the page. At that moment I felt joy in just being present.  I had the awareness that I was actually grounded in my body rather than stuck in a world of thoughts. I also had a very strong experience of how full and complete the present moment is.

I’ve been having some bodywork lately to deal with the impact of my post traumatic stress. I needed to call the therapist today as I was getting overwhelmed. In my state of overwhelm, she drew attention to the fact I wasn’t breathing, when the breath slowed down there was a deep sadness and a lot of tears, I had not been able to feel before our contact.  This experience made me question :

How often am I actually split off from my body, from what I am actually feeling?

How often am I trapped in thoughts instead of just noticing where I am presently in the room?

And how much of my thoughts related to memories of the past experiences that hurt me and keep me trapped, in the car or flung flat on my back with a massive head trauma which made me feel disoriented, nauseated and overpowered by trauma?

Also :  how much does that experience entrap me now if I don’t keep track of the present moment and make the differentiation between the past and present?

I am not entirely sure how this relates to feelings of not being good enough only to mention that I recently read that one of the impacts of trauma is to blame ourselves, even when we are not at fault.  Also add to this that our trauma in affecting others may lead them to blame us for it too.

On the difficult days I feel I am not very far along in my life and have been in a kind of prison for the 10 years since that last major trauma on the first anniversary of my marriage ending. My attitude then shifts to the negative when I focus on that too much, instead of seeing all the ways in which I have coped and continued to front up on the tough days when I can. Considering the number of times I have felt extremely suicidal, just being alive is a miracle for me.

Being discarded by someone can leave us feeling we did not measure up in some way. It’s a painful legacy to deal with. I was watching a show about a person who had been discarded in such a way last night and she was crying about feeling like in some way she had failed to “measure up” and wasn’t good enough. I could really empathise with her pain. I know it well.   But whose standard was it she was failing to measure up to? Was it realistic for her? Should her feelings for herself be tied to this person’s lack of approval?

It’s a journey to move away from that kind of pain. It takes a real mental effort, not one that is about denying reality but about accepting it. I have to watch also when my own inner standard it too high for who I really am in this life and turns toward the negative, when the expectations I have internalised are not mine but someone else’s.

Tian writes

My mind can be my greatest enemy or my greatest ally. It depends on how I use it. When my day goes sour rather than try to manipulate others (by trying to be what they want) or complain about my fate I will step back and observe what is going through my mind.

What is going through my mind may not be about the reality and promise of the present moment which holds all kinds of simple pleasures and gifts but about past things or circumstances I cannot change, such as someone not loving me as I am or my past trauma which I also cannot change.  But I do have power on this day.  I do have the choice to love and care for myself in this moment by thinking in a way which frees me rather than locking me deeper in an inner prison of trauma and dark forecasting which endlessly repeats.

Trying to figure out, what is right for me.

I wrote this over a month ago when I made a connection with a body work therapist.  I am seeing that around this time of year which coincides with a major trauma in my late teens the issue of looking for help with bearing the burden and legacy left emerges.  So for what its worth, I am taking it out of drafts, dusting it off, turning it this way and that to extract some meaning for me now.

Filled with doubts. Lots of questions. How can I know? I went to see a new body work therapist today at the advice of someone who has been urging me down this pathway for some time. I go to these therapists wary and with my BS detector sticking up. Relationship is a mine field for me anyway. Was for some time, especially therapeutic relationships, several of which have come to grief when things done or said just did not gel with me, or I felt someone trying to project things on me that felt wrong. Or with those who could not contain the rage that is part of the Post Traumatic State and only emerges when invalidation occurs or when I have been overloaded by a repeat trauma that has triggered earlier ones.

I was reading today in James Masterton’s book The Search For the Real Self, how not having a good relationship with our true self and feelings sets us up to be very vulnerable to the opinions of others. We look to them as a child to an adult when our relationship to our own sense of self and purpose is not strong. With all my Neptune squares to personal planets I can say I identify.

There is a long period when we are growing and developing what psychologists would call the ego (a mediating construct which helps sort between aspects of our inner self as differentiated from the inner selves of others), when our capacity for emotional intelligence is supposedly very limited.

Children can be sensitive to the energy of emotions, but at a certain point in their development they don’t really have names for them. Children need help with their emotions from caregivers in order to develop a relationship to them, regulate them, name them and express them effectively. Of course the later depends too upon how open to hearing us others really are.

The problem of lack of attunement and our parents own defences can leave us with a mixed up relationship to some of our feelings and emotions. Something I have noticed with several of the body workers I have dealt with has been an attempt to shut down emotions that may have been being expressed, which at times made me feel constricted and boxed in.

Supposedly too by questioning you about why you are angry or crying they can get to the bottom of it and figure it out. It is good to ask these kinds of questions but there will be those who just get it and you come away feeling validated and heard, that your expression flowed and your body felt expanded not contracted.

One of the legacies of undergoing traumatic experiences especially on the body is that the entire system, including our musculature and tendons constrict and contract.   We get scrambled, our central nervous system goes into overdrive, pumping out  cortisol when it needs to relax.  At present I am taking tissue salts to help with this, as during trauma our cells become depleted of certain minerals as cortisol levels spike.

Another question I had today was this.  What happens when a therapist lays the line on you that this is just a storyline, one you need to let go? It’s good to recognise when a pure emotion becomes amped up by our reaction to it.  Instead of letting it flow we chomp down on it like a dog with a bone and won’t let go, it intensifies or converts to another emotion (say anger when we are feeling grief, or grief when we are feeling anger),  then it blows out of proportion and become very reactive, but maybe even this reaction has lesson for us and is not the final world.

Truth is, I guess, we can have an emotion, but then we can have a reaction to that emotion or others have a reaction to our emotion which then interferes with the need of the emotion just to get out and be released so we can move on. Why the problem with questioning it? Validation says I see you are having such and such an emotion. Not that it is right or wrong. Once the person is validated for how they are feeling rather than the other person’s reaction to it there is often peace and an open channel of communication. I would call this non defensive communication.

The other thing I have been questioning what happens when we try to express something which a therapist misinterprets or just doesn’t get. Example. Today, once again I had to go in to my history and most especially my accident history as at night and during the day my body is still expressing this trauma in all kinds of strange symptoms. I was speaking of the experience of being trapped in the car and not being able to move, struggling for breath, being in pain and the ambulance men coming in behind to put an oxygen mask on me that I was trying to fend off. I needed that mask on, so fighting was dangerous. But then the tears came and most especially when I remembered the upset of the impact for my father who died a few years later.

The person I was seeing made the assumption that I in some way blamed myself on some level for that and was stuck in a story line. The truth is that I did not, it was out of my control, but I could feel the sadness and pain my father suffered over it, how the accident had impacted on him (he died several years later after further traumas involving my oldest sister’s illness, abandonment and breakdown).  It was after reliving this in an earlier body work session that I had a second major accident which mirrored the earlier one and left me with further Post Traumatic Stress which I am still working to resolve.

Its best not to assume or project, but I guess we can all do it. The important thing for me  To understand my own reaction and reality.  These days I find it is pointless to try and enter into any argument over my tears or the working of my own emotional inner world.  I am lucky enough after many years of failures in having found a therapist who empathises and really gets it, who does not reach for answers or try to project.

As far as other’s are concerned, I ask this. Why should other people get it that at times I feel really sad when they have not suffered in the same way or spend time denying emotions? Is it that I am too enmeshed in my suffering? (This is how they often make me feel.) That can hardly be true because I have lots of good and happy days, but there are days when sorrow can and does inundate me.

Today we worked with the sensations in my body, the traumatic imprints lodged in the tissues and I began to feel the unwinding and shifting of sensations as blockages dissolved and more sensation came in. At times I was pulled away by thought and I get that thinking came sometimes follow a story line and carry us away from the reality of just being present today. I have written a blog about that before.  When this happens and I am in flight from the sensations I remind myself to return to the breath and just notice body sensation.

I still came away from this first session questioning and running a doubting story line. Truth is I am not going to know how this particular treatment pans out until I front up for it and see if it has any beneficial effect on my symptoms. Until then the jury is out.

Deep down I wish the therapist would just keep the story line comments to herself and let me have my feelings. It’s true I might be caught up in a pattern. I am aware there are times I am holding my breath due to old traumatic imprints arising. At the time I am not always aware, but I am catching myself doing this more. It is one of the things I guess we tend to do when we are hit with something very overwhelming. Never the less it is important to learn to let go with the breath and encourage the new breath a space, because breath = movement = life.

We also need to let our emotions breathe in order to release them. They are like waves that arise and fall if we don’t clamp down on them. E Motion. Energy in motion.   I think many of my problems have come from holding in emotions and not having them validated. A saying of yes would allow the release and not cause further frustration.

This is what happens to emotionally sensitive children when they are not validated and it leads to all kinds of long term problems. There is nothing to be gained from denying sensitivity. It has a purpose and the sensitive child who feels things intensely needs help to validate and understand so they can self soothe and don’t have to reach for numbing substances or behaviours due to having been traumatised by parents who hurt them due to their own ignorance and fear.

I know it irritates a lot of people this sensitivity. The truth is that often I will keep what I feel inside, I won’t express or explode as I am considering your feelings, but it that last few years I have let myself explode in order to separate out validators from invalidators. Sometimes exploding is really essential so I can know how distressed I am and come to make sense of if something has angered me, because often when that happens (but not always) there has been an assault or violation of a kind. It wont be received well by the abuser or invalidator and their response has lessons for me.

The last thing I need now when I am making such progress with my psychotherapist is for this is for this body work therapist now to make me doubt myself when another therapist has said how important it was for me not to stuff this anger any more, so that eventually I can find ways to assert my needs more without the need to explode.

The most important thing for me now, I believe, is to trust my gut, to not have anyone on a pedestal and not to accept that which I find a bit hard to swallow. Well meaning as a person can be they have their own limitations. I am learning that if I have a doubt there is probably something not quite right. My true insights are often dismissed by my family something I have blogged about recently and so I naturally doubt myself when really I should just trust my gut. When I don’t, I get into problems.

What is important on this journey of healing is that I can validate myself and trust myself, something it has not always been easy to do. Something I want to explore more in my blogs. A lot of sorting out and separating is going on for me at present. It feels good.

I am looking forward to Saturn moving forward soon as I will be getting the waning sextile transit to Mars Saturn Moon when it does. This bodes well for me. I will be much more aware of my own Mars Saturn Moon than I was when I underwent the squares.

The major astrological lesson I have learned is that with a weak or damaged Mars I am emotionally Fucked. Mars serves the Sun. We need a healthy sense of self assertion to help us navigate through life with power and authority, not a power and authority over others but a power and authority that comes from knowing our self and our boundaries. What is and is not acceptable to us. This can be argued with by others but nevertheless as emotional adults we have authority over our own life and inner world.

There are some lovely world from a song from Dido which express this well:

This land is mine, I’ll let you in, I’ll let you navigate and demand, just as long as you know this land is mine.

What I ask for, I also have to give. That sometimes you won’t get it or understand and that you may even misunderstand me too, the most important thing being, that I no longer misunderstand myself.

As a post script I continued to see the body work therapist over the next eight weeks and I had a major blow up with her.  We managed to work through the anger and fear at the heart of it.  I shared with her about how I had been invalidated by two other body work therapists over four years and she said to me “I really get how scary and difficult it must have been for you to trust me.”  Immediately I could relax and feel that she really got what living inside the traumatised reality is like, when you reach out and trust only to be misunderstood and violated again.  I still struggle with my symptoms but they are lessening.  Mars in now in my first house and more available to me than it was when buried deep in the twelfth bringing up all my unresolved issues, but even all that questioning and indecision, the self questioning and self doubt was part of the process in trying to figure out what was going on and what was right for me.