Decisions, boundaries and self care

It was a tough therapy appointment yesterday.  I am really regretting having my tooth out.  I don’t seem to feel any better at the moment and not being able to chew food well is really affecting me.  I am aware that I need to be patient as what I am going through is as huge adjustment but I just wish I had stuck with the crack in the tooth as I am not really sure it was giving me an infection, as my body is still full of phlegm and gunk.  I also felt very disappointed in my therapist and wanted to throw the whole therapy over yesterday but at the same time I was aware of the state of mind I am at and it was poisoning my right view of the value of what Katina does give to me.  So I just went to it and fully expressed all my feeling to her.

She was amazing, she sat there and empathised and then apologised for influencing me because she had said to me several times “if you do have an infection it is probably poisoning your entire body”.  I am not sure that is really what has been happening, the poison is the anger I sometimes feel that I don’t use effectively to assert boundaries at times.   Anyway we discussed it all and I left the session feeling a whole lot calmer basically because of the empathy Kat showed to me.  And I am adult enough to know no one has the answers always for me.  They may be able to understand or empathise but they may not know how things will turn out for me if I make a decision and they can advise but they don’t have to live with the consequences which is something my niece and I were discussing the other day.

Have you ever decided you wanted to do something that may be good for you, but when you mention it to others, they try to dissuade you or pour cold water over your decision?  I think it happens a lot and its something we were also discussing in therapy yesterday, how do we know who to truly trust with our decisions?  After all no one else has to live our lives.

I have been on the end of discouragement when I have asked for advice on doing what would have ultimately been good things for me.  I look back to those times and see I didn’t stay strong and own my own power.  And afterwards I felt resentment but also had to accept I was responsible for the decisions and choices I make.  As a people pleaser it is sometimes hard for me to say I wont do something that I think may bring joy to another person or to take care of me when you are hurting or in need.  As I shared the other day, when I have the energy to give to others, I will give it, naturally it is what I want to do as an empathic person.  But there are times I just need to take care of me.  And I guess that is where discrimination comes in as well as a good sense of connection to my inner energy levels, feelings and needs.   What I am talking about here are boundaries and on some level we can say that on the spiritual plane boundaries don’t fully exist as we all come from the source, that grander sphere where we are connected to each other beyond words and other human constructs and as our egos form we learn what is ours and what is not ours if we are lucky enough to have good help to build healthy egos but if not we can be in trouble.

And that is why empaths and highly sensitive people can struggle a lot.  We instinctively feel the feelings of others and want to reach out and to do so is natural and good most of the time.  When others have defences against us though we suffer.   I heard a saying a long while back and its a major lesson that I learned in my last intimate relationship that a person can never reject you, just a part of themselves they see in you that they have not befriended in themselves.   This is the defensive ego that may want to reject you if you are feeling sick or vulnerable.  This is the protective ego that doesn’t want to see that you may have hurt and a deep longing for love hidden beneath anger. For if you think about it if we get rejected for anger the person is not seeing that on some level we felt hurt and are trying to get that hurt addressed.  Then the hurt has no where to go,  and we are left holding it and then as someone asked me the other day “where do I put this anger?”.  I responded by suggesting prayer.  It seems to me the only thing I can do when my anger gets too much, I pray to my higher power for help with it.  And if someone won’t address it with me and I see that my anger is justified I have to beware of how I relate with that person in future.  I may need to forgive so I don’t keep holding onto the pain and hurt myself more, but I may be better off not having that much to do with them if they express no concern for how their actions affect me.

It can take a long time for some of us (like me) to see we have the right to set this kind of boundary if people have blown us off before for expressing how we feel.  And we also don’t have to take every hurt we feel to someone else, for in the end its really up to us to care for ourselves and protect ourselves and we all have the right to do this .

If we were sensitive and hurt a lot in childhood.  If we were teased, humiliated, made to feel small, gaslighted or invalidated developing the wisdom and power to develop and set boundaries may be a process fraught with peril.  If we were led to believe that emotional abuse was not emotional abuse we may be very confused as to our boundaries.  That is why we absolutely need an empathic person to go to, to express our truth with and get a reality check.  And we need power and strength to know we have the right to take care of ourselves and that we are not bad or wrong or selfish for doing so.   And some of us can keep chosing to love even when on the end of shitty behaviour from others once we have learned to practice self care, we can learn to positively detach not with hatred and anger but with love, a true honest love that comes out of respect, maturity and a deeper empathy for suffering.

To be content means I know my own boundaries

I am not so much of a fan of suffering any more.  I have had a wake up call over the past few days that has shown me all the times I should have really stepped back from family dysfunction and how much of a hard time I gave myself as the message was that I was selfish if I didn’t get caught up in the family disease, most especially when my second oldest sister decided to try to take her life in 2013.  I was the one at the hospital arguing with the nurses to take her off meds.  She was already on about 5 different psychiatric medications including one for epilepsy and she could not stop trembling.   When I googled some of them the side effects listed included, suicidal feelings and anxiety.  This was a year or so after watching helplessly as she underwent a long course of shock therapy and was almost reduced to a comatose wreck, frozen, broken, incapable of feeling or speech.  It made me SO FUCKING ANGRY, but all I could do was cry.

My sister is not in this space any more.  She doesn’t do any emotional healing work only a lot of exercise but she has regained more of herself and is now the primary one supporting my Mum, due to the fact that she realises how all that she went through impacted my mother who was never one to take any psychiatric medication.

I thank God for my, by then firm sobriety.  I was able to go to meetings of Al Anon and share about it and learn that I could only try my best to hand it all over and detach but some days that seemed impossible to do.  There were the times I had to stand up to both my mother and sister’s lack of empathy and subtle abuse, following this, but also times I gave back far too much because I still loved them.   My sister is not totally abusive and has mellowed in her approach to me over years and that is a result of me working my own programme but not always managing to detach as well as I would have liked.

Today I decided not to visit my Mum in hospital.  I firmly believe her compounded health problems are due to years of emotional stress and repressed emotions.  In the past few years ever since the death of my oldest sister my Mum is close to tears but only when I am around as she know that due to my own recovery and emotional work I am the one who ‘gets’ what the reality is and helps her to go there.  But on some days I just cannot be that container.  On some days I just have to take care of myself.

Today has been one of those days and I am so grateful that ‘just for today’ I have been able to practice detachment.  Detaching doesn’t mean I am not feeling for my Mum, it just means I am honouring the limits of my power to give on certain days when my own energy reserves are not high.

Forgiveness : a high price?

I am reflecting a lot on forgiveness lately.  Part of us when hurt wants to exact a retribution of kinds or at least block love from flowing back to the source of the hurt because perhaps we feel this is the only way we can hold onto a boundary and escape the pain of more hurt.  And by all means consciousness demands we find out who is hurtful to us most often from their own unconscious pain and wounded.

I always loved the saying “hurt people, hurt people”.

I shared earlier in a blog that I was so angry when I learned of something intensely hurtful my brother did to his daughter yesterday.  I felt anger burning through me like wild fire.  Maybe it triggered my own wounds, I am not sure but I was so impressed by my niece’s reaction.  She clearly owned the damage and lack of love in both parent’s as well as the unresolved hurt.

Maybe it might help more of us if we saw this kind of unfeeling narcissistic abuse as the outgrowth of an evolutionary pathway in which older generations were not allowed to feel hurt or pain or were humiliated or emotionally abandoned by a parent stunting permanently their own empathy.

In his excellent book on narcissism therapist Alexander Lowen shares his insight into how much early humiliation in childhood can lead people to develop a narcissistic defence, blocking feelings of vulnerability and deep anger at violation which then being disallowed may often permanently disable the person turning them into a rationaliser or someone who avoids further emotional pain by becoming a people pleaser or adopting a false self, or alternatively shutting them down emotionally and leading them to project rejected vulnerability towards others, most often children who act it out then get shamed, exiled or scapegoated all over again.

The way out of this dilemma involves owning the anger, to re-engage the assertive impulse for self care and self protection and end the shaming that can be internalised.  Holding onto the anger helps keep the defence in place, turning too soon towards forgiveness may mean being open to more abuse.  But in the long run some letting go of intense anger may need to take place as anger that hardens into resentment can become corrosive and lead to physical and emotional problems.

The next step often lays in realising the damage in the person that caused the pain.  Seeing they were once a vulnerable child defenceless against a parent’s inner conflicts or aggression or splitting of and hardening of feeling.  In my brother’s case I see why he may have had to shut down his sensitivity early on.  I know some of the things my Dad did to him in the late 1940s that were punishing and over the top. Last year he also revealed a bit about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Christian brothers.

I asked my Mum if she was aware of this abuse and she said that no, my brother just came home and hung his school coat on the wall and quietly went off saying nothing.  I felt so sad for him when he told me that story in June last year I wrote a blog about it.

When I felt the anger to my brother I wondered at my right to judge someone who was acting out of buried pain.  I almost considered that I never want to have contact with him again on the other side and then questioned that.  Then today I read this on forgiveness :

Forgiveness is a selective remembering of what someone did right, at a time when the ego mind is shrieking about what someone did wrong  We always have a choice about where to focus – whether to blame someone or to bless someone.  I can concentrate my attention on what you did wrong, or I can seek to remember a moment when you tried to do right.  Although the ego insists that you don’t deserve it, the spirit absolutely know that you do.  And my ego has an ulterior motive, in seeking to attack you, it is seeking secretly to attack me.  Only when I remember who you really are (an innocent child of God, regardless of your mistakes) can I remember who I am (an innocent child of God, regardless of mine.)

Condemning another person, while it might give us a few moments of temporary relief, will always boomerang and make us feel worse.  If I attack you, you will attack me back – or at least I’ll think you did.  In terms of how consciousness operates it doesn’t matter who attacked first, who ever attacks feels attacked.

Forgiveness takes us off the wheel of suffering. It delivers us to quantum realms beyond time and space, when thoughts of guilt have marred neither your innocence nor mine.  This is summed up by Rumi “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”  There, in this space of no-thing the universe miraculously self corrects.  In the presence of love, things automatically return to divine right order.  That which the ego has made imperfect is returned to the track of divine perfection, releasing possibilities for healing that would not other wise exist :

I’m sorry

I’m sorry, too.

Simple worlds, and how much better those words are than the ego’s alternative.

Mmm, but what of the person who when you say sorry, uses that as an opening to deny or as a weapon to beat you over the head with?  I was warned of this in my last relationship with a narcissist, to be aware that apologising to someone such as he may be used against me and it was.  In this case it was his ego that had shut down and locked the door and I could do nothing about it but walk away, knowing I was powerless and in time knowing that the price of holding onto the outrage was too much to bear, that in the end letting go and allowing the person to be shut down was the only way to become free, knowing I deserved something else.

Forgiveness, it most certainly is a thorny issue.  There are times I was slighted and could only see the wrong and the hurt and anger eclipsed other things that were right, so I do agree with some of what Marianne Williamson writes in that quote above but I still have some reservations and I wondered what others think of it?  Maybe you might like to comment below.  If we are repeatedly hurt and other refuse to own up, surely its in our best interests to keep a wide berth.

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.

Reflections on empathy, forgiveness and narcissism

I am prompted to write this after some comments on a post a wrote about forgiveness for our mothers.  I am aware that forgiving someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge hurtful things they do and has no interest in changing is the most unhealthy option for our own physical, emotional and spiritual health at certain points in our healing and recovery journey.  I think that when those who hurt us show no remorse or deliberately choose to remain unconscious its in our own health not to keep going back to have the rug pulled out from underneath us again and forgiving such behaviour is damaging for us.

When I attended AA and studied the Big Book which outlines a course of healing others have found and worked through via the 12 steps the way in which we were advised to handle this kind of thing was to be aware that the person concerned was spiritually and emotionally unwell themselves. We were advised to hand over our hurt so that it didn’t rebound on us and to pray for the person.  We were encouraged to recognise that we need not take on the hurt they were unconsciously enacting upon us.  That said it is not always an easy thing to do, brushing off hurt most particularly when that person may have been a parent, the very one that as a youngster we most needed to rely upon for empathy, guidance, validation and support.

Just think about that word validation for a moment.  It concerns the implicit idea that who we are and what we feel has value and meaning for us.  If we are repeatedly told that what we feel, say, think or do has no value, if we are acting purely out of our own sense of self that is authentic, that is a deep spiritual wound and it is damaging.  It can leave us with lasting scars that may or may not be conscious or unconscious.

But if you think about it more deeply, how people react to, treat and respond to us often has little to do with us but more do to with their own relationship to their inner world.  If a person was taught that feelings have no value, how are they going to honour yours?  If they haven an investment in you being, doing or acting in a different way, a way that doesn’t evoke their own wounds, black spots or scars how will they value what you do and who you really are when you are just trying to express yourself from an authentic place?

Can we forgive when we realise the other person is just a wounded, disconnected person who perhaps never had the benefit of inner sight or consciousness.  To my mind when we do this it shows we are showing empathy for them.   We are recognising that not everyone has access to all parts of themselves and not everyone is interested in self inquiry or self questioning.

As someone who never really got to develop a totally secure sense of self, it is also apparent to me that many of us, wounded in childhood go the other way.  Lacking a secure sense of self which involves being connected to feelings, needs and emotions in a healthy way we lack necessary spiritual muscles and an inner voice of self affirmation and so we tend to question, second guess or criticise ourselves all the time.

If someone acts badly towards us, instead of getting upset we may question if we did something to cause that hurt and if we look back to childhood we may have been accused of hurting others when really what we did had no malicious intent and was necessary for self care or self protection.

It is a common fact that people who suffer from an unhealthy narcissism never tend to look too deeply inside to question if what they did impacted on others in a hurtful way.  The narcissistically wounded would prefer to blame outside events, rather than look to any contributing cause that lies within themselves.  They may get easily offended if others question or criticise them in any way.  They find it hard to keep an open mind and also lack necessary empathic skills that would help them to know that other’s reality at times differs from their own.  They lack the capacity to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

So often my own therapist reminds me when I go to her in a fit of remorse over some way I may have acted that lacked insight, saying “Oh God, I am just sure I am a narcissist”, she will remind me that we are all somewhere on that spectrum and that my own need to question my behaviour shows I don’t really have NPD.

Knowing that what we feel and need has value is important to our ongoing health as individuals.  Being able to stand up for these thing in a way that doesn’t ride roughshod over others is a huge part of becoming a mature adult who is able to live and relate in a world where opinions, feelings and needs of everyone vary widely.  Being able to hold onto our own reality when other’s reality varies is at times important.  Being able to open up to and encompass new points of view which take us beyond previously limited ones is important too.

At the outset of writing this particular post I actually titled it “If I had been allowed to feel and know and need what I really felt, knew and needed”, because having had my tooth out today has brought up so many previous experiences of feeling I was acted on by powerful others whose domination eclipsed my own view.  Perhaps due to the fact that the last time I the former dental bridge reconstruct I was emotionally abused by my ex for expressing the pain and so disturbing his sleep.  I had taken myself off into the toilet so as not to wake him up and had woke him up and so I got a ‘serve’.   I was not conscious that this memory was about but over the past few days abusive incidents I suffered at his hands are coming to consciousness.

In my life trying to play small so as to avoid abuse has not served me well.  Learning to swallow down or override what I truly feel, need and want has caused me so much pain.  Not being able to be with safe others who let me express my feelings has caused me so much damage and it made me SO ANGRY for a time, but then I was in trouble for being offensive for expressing that.  NO WONDER I WAS PISSED OFF.  Now I know that how I felt was real.  For a lot of my life I suffered invalidation abuse.  I was not allowed to feel and know what I felt and knew.  But the pain of that was what led me to here.  It formed the genesis of this blog in many ways.

Today I took a Panadol for the pain I am in.  I decided not to suffer more. Choosing to remove ourselves from harsh, unloving environments is similar.   Recovery means we recognise the damage that was done and call it damage.  But recovery also means we put a stop to further damage through self care, validating who we are, what we know and how we feel and showing wisdom as to who will and wont do the same.  Forgiveness for the abusers may not be necessary, but holding onto the pain can hurt.  Perhaps what I should be talking about in my blog is letting go, rather than forgiveness, letting go of the pain so that we can embrace peace, healing and recovery for ourselves.

 

Focus on beauty

heart-tree

We must take the actions that bring love to life, making it the organising principle behind all our endeavours.

Marianne Williamson

How easy is it for us to keep on loving when our heart has been or is breaking? How difficult it is to keep believing that we have worth when others tell us through word or action that we don’t?  How easy is it to say just for today I am not going to allow darkness and depression to have the last word?

The truth is that depression and sadness can steal our life energy away and the deeper truth is our vital connection to our spirit in some way along the way got stolen if we are in deep depression, not just a deep sadness due to grief, perhaps of losing a person or a relationship with something or someone we loved.

In depression we find ourselves covered by fog on grey dull day after grey dull day or smothered over by a blanket of blackness and doom where no light seems to penetrate.  …..  A pall of dark heavy rust covers everything……. In alchemy this kind of state was called the nigredo or the blackening and it was understood not to be the end but the beginning of the deeper inner work or journey of making gold which to my mind was they way alchemists symbolically portrayed the process of bringing darkness to light.

I know how impossible it is when you find yourself in this kind of state, to change the focus at all and in many ways depression is a right of passage so many of us go through on our journey back towards the light.  Many of us may spend lots of years here and we may have to undergo a great deal of inner work to break free.  However it is becoming apparent to me that on this path we at some stage reach a powerful turning point where we make a kind of separation and gain some insight into how we may be perpetrating old patterns, thoughts, perceptions and kinds of beliefs which keep darkness, suffering, fear and pain recycling.

In my experience loss, grief and depression are in many ways spiritual experiences which have a healing purpose one that can only be truly integrated and understood as we find the strength to weather those soul storms within the fiery crucible of our own being.   There are things we do to keep old patterns going and there are things we can do to shed old skins that though cosy and familiar are now becoming too limiting to live within or may be smothering or strangling us.  Healing work also involves bringing loving awareness to our most painful moods and feelings.

As we grow in consciousness though we start to take responsibility for where we are keeping our focus.   The deep sea divers amongst us have to travel back down to the silted bedrocks of the unconscious to retrieve our wreckage but we cannot and must not stay submerged in those inky seas when there is a sunlit shore to go to and we can often find that by nurturing the positive, good, healing and beautiful.  Like an aquatic bower bird we bring our wreckage up and find a way to make art of it, on the sunnier shores of consciousness.

For myself I have known the paralysing hold of darkest depression.  I know that at these times when it has seemed almost impossible to make forward movement of some kind that is what I have needed to do.  When my marriage first broke up and I was all alone and almost comatose in the dead of winter what saved me on some days was being able to go to the local heated pool and swim, immersing myself in the water which helped to break apart and dislodge some of the pain.  These days it is a brisk walk with Jasper in healing natural spaces which helps me most when old demons or ghosts start to circle.

Shifting the focus from negative experiences and energies helps us not to magnify them and breaks the pattern of punishing ourselves over and over with things that have passed.  By all means we must know and feel our deepest responses to abandonment and abuse, rage and anger which are valid forces which help us to break its strangle hold.  But ideally we use these as the fuel for breaking free not staying trapped and paralysed.

As I look back I see how in my own depression how much harder I can make things by focusing solely on the negative….. there is a difference between honestly acknowledging pain and difficult things in order to be authentic, understand, develop compassion and empathy, feel and release them and keeping the focus on what hurts by running the pain over and over and over in my head.  I know for myself that what helps me is to find a way to break this cycle of obsession by putting my focus on to something uplifting that removes me from this dark place.  I feel it helps us to catch ourselves and take some steps to change the focus and shift it towards something positive, full of energy light, soul or beauty.

Today I have been listening to an inspiring interview by a pastoral care therapist reminding us how important focusing on or finding things of beauty outside the darkness of deeply depressive mind states is to encourage in us a sense of hope and forward movement.

Part of our healing too involves acceptance of what happened to us much as we wish it never happened to us, the realisation that we did not bring it on ourselves and that the legacy of hurt and hate is a natural part of not being championed, nurtured, helped or protected when we were young.  We use these hurt feelings to show us where our boundaries lay, collapsing a boundary in forgiveness too soon may be counter productive and I know in my own life I was often hoodwinked by abuser’s denials and fob offs to collapse boundaries I should never have brought down.  I kept wanting to see the good side in them which was the unconscious part of them that perpetrated pain but was unwilling to recognise and validate the state of their own inner injury.

My therapist has been the only one at times I felt I could fully turn to who would not abuse me again and so lately I have been recognising how lonely a path truth healing of our wounds and injuries is.  The path narrows if we choose not live in denial any more as so much of society can.  I have in this process also found blogging about and sharing with others who have suffered abuse and abandonment has for me been an excellent source of healing.  I am grateful to say that on my blog I have never really received negative invalidation of any kind when I have honestly shared from my pain and that has meant that blog space has been for me one of the places where beauty is alive in the love that comes to and from other readers.

These days on any new day I am able to make healthier choices on where I put my focus. Beauty on any day becomes a priority for me as it is the quality of the choices that I make now which determines the goodness and beauty, peace and serenity of my day.  I guess I am saying that slowly I am learning what self care looks like, it was something I knew so little of in my days of addiction and even later recovery.  It was only with the finding of my inner child and the acceptance of all her feelings, validation of which was so essential to my healing that I have learned how important this kind of self care is.  It consists in being loving to and nurturing of myself no matter what the cost.   And of making sure I have inner boundaries in place to defend against any attacks from the inner critic that want to steal from me, peace, love and joy.   And when I struggle with stinking thinking I can ask for help from a loving power to help me keep the focus on love, self acceptance, self compassion and beauty.

 

Struggles with guilt : insights into anxiety

I awoke struggling with a lot of guilt this morning.  As much as I can write that its not okay for the critic to beat me up, its also important that as an adult I take responsibility for my own life and feelings.  The complication is that so many of my current feelings date back and are connected to old feelings and hurts, emotional absences and injuries from the past.  When I put the sole focus on those I can become resentful and bitter, hurt and angry which is fair enough but if those feelings are poisoning or affecting certain choices I am making today I am in trouble and not only am I in trouble but others around me are too.

The issue that I am struggling with this morning is my financial dependency on my mother.  Much as I express here all my angry feelings with my Mum she has tried to compensate in many ways for what she failed to give me by providing financial support when I have needed it.  As a result I have chosen not to work for the past 10 years following my accident which gave me a head injury and focus on my healing and recovery work.   Although I posted a post yesterday on how that is the most important work for me, at times I don’t fully believe it.  I feel that I could have been more responsible as an adult for myself financially.

Then I go through all the guilt over the chain of inner causes that contributed to the financial difficulty we had back in March when due to a real estate agents pressure I put in an offer for a townhouse that I then wished to retract but could not, he had kept us pinned at the house on the day of the auction when it was passed in and pressured for an offer that day, knowing that if we made that offer then we would have not cooling off period and no way out.  Due to the fact I had not properly read the contract I was not aware.  I made a mistake and I have had to own it, but my Mum has been the one who paid up.

I was willing to lose the deposit but due to my mother’s issue with money she was not prepared to let it go and so bought the place herself rather than see the deposit forgone.  She has tried to rent it since then but no renters have been willing to take it on and then a few weeks ago she asked me to consider moving into it and I have once again been stuck in a back forward process of trying to take the easier way and move in which means surrendering my older cottage but also the creative beautiful aspects of it.  One part of me says why not just let this place go.  It was my mistake that led to the problem and really as an adult I should own it, not depend on my Mum but it was a failure too on her part on the day when I turned to her for help on that day that made me make the offer and she also left me alone while chatting to her friend at the time the auction was taking place which gave the agent space to move in and try to force my hand by putting in the high bid the owner wanted when no one else was bidding.

All of this is interesting to me as I am in the midst of reading the book Power Over Panic at the moment and in it the author Bronwyn Fox explains how it is the passive perfectionist who most often ends up with an anxiety condition.   She suffered from anxiety and panic attacks herself so she knows what is involved in recovery and the point she makes is that it is our fear which drives so much of what contributes to the condition in the first place, fear of not being all things to all people, fear of being selfish if we care for ourselves and put our own needs first, fear of disappointing others and being real and then fear of the anxiety or panic itself which is what keeps the attacks going.

As I have been reading this book I have seen our own family pattern with poor boundaries and interpersonal connections of truth and emotional honesty.   Our family pattern is to always ‘do the right thing’, swallow our own feelings and needs and then to over extend ourselves and not take good care of our boundaries and body.   And then this can also dovetail into a very strong adult child pattern of taking on responsibility for what is not our issue due to feeling we are responsible for others, which leads to emotional caretaking and then emotional, physical and spiritual depletion.  We also loose our own deeper connection to joy if the inner critic is always driving us with its perfectionistic project and not letting us rest in and find what lights up our own hearts independent of other demands or our own inner pressure to help or be the good guy.

As I look at it I see my Mum has at times helped us too much in the wrong ways.  I went to another meeting yesterday of my Al Anon group and there were a couple there whose son has recently entered into recovery.  They were sharing about how they needed to support him but not too much and to his own detriment, for our recovery is really a personal issue, how others treat us can trigger us ultimately as much as people would like to argue that it doesn’t, but becoming an adult also means learning about what is triggering and taking the steps for self care.

Anyway I don’t know if this blog has a theme.  I just woke up and needed to write down some of the things I am struggling with in my own head.  I had pretty much made the decision I am not going to move into the town house but commit to this place despite all the responsibility such a decision entails.  Winter is a hard time as my house is very cold and really needs a better heating system.  But winter will not last forever and is a time when its good for the emotional psyche to get in tune with the swing of nature and look inwards.   Even as I type this I know I could make another decision and make the best of it and I realise how lucky I really am to have so much choice and the support that I do.

I never fully got the emotional support I needed in the past. I came from a family where we were taught to serve others more than understand and respect our own inner boundaries, feelings and needs.  I see how the pattern has replayed and how so much of it was deeply unconscious.  In a post yesterday I was sharing how we can only say we are free to choose when we are fully conscious of all of these unconscious patterns and factors which makes me question a point that Bronwyn makes in her book on anxiety and panic  attacks.  We develop these conditions not because we are bad or weak but due to the fact that we have lot to learn and become conscious of.  Being diagnosed with such an illness or condition is actually a wake up call to our inner self to begin to become more conscious and aware and to take care of what most needs support, comfort and nurturing in our own lives.  If we beat ourselves up for suffering with them we cant really go forward on our recovery and being kind and compassionate and loving to ourselves is an enormous part of overcoming such conditions. If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks I really highly recommend the book.  I am learning a lot from it.