Poetry

Crumble

Where would we be without poetry to express the pain and other intimations of our deepest soul?  I admire all the intensely beautiful poetry here on WordPress shared by so many brilliant bloggers.  I struggle to write my own prose poems that provide a fountain that can flow out so coagulated pain doesn’t settle like a stagnant swamp inside my silted and at times blocked channels or organs.

Today was one of those struggle days filled with panic attacks I was fighting my way out of.  In the afternoon I just took myself off for afternoon tea and then to the local bookshop for a browse in the poetry section.  I came across several volumes that really inspired me.  I had the usual inner argument over purchasing the one that spoke to me the most and ended up leaving the store without it.   I realised though how poetry is food for my aching soul on the tough days.  And so often I come across a blog or a reblog of an amazing piece that just takes my breath away often on the site of either The Feathered Sleep or One Wise Woman just to name two of my favourites.  So this blog goes out to say thanks for what you share.  For reading my own humble attempts.   I was writing poems and a diary from about the age of six due to a childhood in which there was no adult to really talk to about what was going on inside.  My blog started when someone was kind enough to share poem I wrote.  Without that help and inspiration I may never have thought what I had to say was worthwhile, but now I know just the sheer fact of someone expressing their soul is a major achievement.

Without WordPress life would be just so much emptier.  Keep writing all you amazing poets.  Keep collapsing and crumbling and sharing about it here so your implosion can become art and inspire others!

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Listening with empathy

We all have a need to be heard at the deepest level.  The capacity for others to be receptive to our deeper true self, from our earliest years influences how healthy we become emotionally, how connected to our needs and feelings.  Learning to listen with empathy is a skill we need to master if we really wish to be there for others.

Listening with empathy requires giving up a self centred view of the world in order to participate fully in another person’s experience.  It requires focusing and paying attention not only to the words being spoken but also to gestures, body position, and facial expressions.  When you listen with empathy, you make a conscious effort to set aside your biases or any distorted thinking you tend to employ.  You learn how to connect with the other person’s emotions without being carried away by them, to step in then step back, reading the other person’s cues to judge when to move closer and when to give distance.  Part of the reason my mother was such a great empathic listener was that she understood how to live with ambiguity and the inability to find answers or solutions to all problems.

Listening with such clarity and depth of feeling that the other person truly feels heard is a kind of holy listening…… Empathic (holy) listening goes deep into the other person’s heart and soul to reveal what is hidden by fear, anger, grief, or despair.  This kind of listening can be taught.  It can be passed from one person to another.  We can learn how to listen with empathy by being around people who are empathic and who understand how to “listen to our souls in life.”

Empathic listening releases the compassion hormone oxytocin, which blocks the release of the stress hormone cortisol.  Your brain releases oxytocin when you feel understood and connected to another human being.  In addition to releasing stress and preventing the release of cortisol, this neurochemical helps us to live longer, promotes calmness, reduces fear and addictive behaviour and increases trust and feelings of security.  When we feel calm and secure, we are in a position to correct our distorted thinking.

Empathy is therefore strongly connected to validation and the above quotes from The Stress Solution : Using Empathy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Develop Resilience reveal how a child that is not responded to with empathy will find their body and brain flooded by stress hormones which leave negative consequences.  Invalidation abuse triggers a stress response in a person and then tends to amp up the stress response through negative thought leading to more painful feelings.  Difficult feelings can then intensify if the person is left alone with no empathic witness.

If we want to help ourselves when we are feeling flooded with stress it is so important to respond to ourselves with empathy or find someone who is empathic to share our feelings with. If we can learn how to respond with validation and empathy we can become soothers in the world and for ourselves.  Listening with empathy is such an important skill to learn.  Understanding the consequences of having lived with those who lack empathy is also important.  We cannot blame ourselves for having developed real scars and difficulties with anxiety or stress if we have consistently found ourselves in situations where we are consistently being treated with a lack of empathy.

Angry with my family

Anger

I am not going to deny my anger any more.  I have legitimate reasons to be very angry at my family and my mother and sister in particular for what they put me through following the end of my marriage and even in the years before where I was just never treated with support, empathy and love.  I am sick to death of denying the truth to myself, rationalising it and minimising it.  I just spoke to my therapist and she said my anger needs to flow out and I need to find ways to do that today… write about it in your blog, draw it out or scream it out, do what ever you need to do to get it out of your system she said to me and so this blog is part of that process.  Internalised, invalidated anger has been kicking around inside my system for so long, it resulted in my accidents and in my alcoholism.  Part of my recovery is that I need to speak about it and value and validate my inner self and inner child.

I recognise what happened when I spoke to my mother yesterday when writing my blog A hollowed out shell was that by crying and becoming really vulnerable my Mum roped me into compassion.  Earlier on I had ended the conversation when she was once again telling me I needed to forget about things and put them behind me.   She called me back out of guilt to ask me to dinner and at first I said no and then wanted to relent when she showed me how much pain she was in and how insecure and unable to truly express herself she feels.  While I feel compassion for her I cannot let that over ride my own anger about what happened to me for it is anger that lets me know something hurt me deeply and wasn’t okay and that then helps me set some kind of boundary.  If I get told I shouldn’t have it or feel it that is invalidation abuse pure and simple and if the person is trying to guilt me out of it that is worse abuse.  Full stop! No argument, no debate!

I had a difficult day yesterday.  I noticed I got onto You Tube and posted some videos in two posts which although they had interesting insights don’t really help me to cut to the depth of dealing with the trauma and anger I am still carrying from the head injury that happened to me 12 years ago as the result of my sister and my mother’s meanness. At that stage I needed support and help to heal and grieve and know my truth, but I see how impossible this is to attain from anyone in my family they were just not that awake to the inner self or emotional realities.  My Mum is close to waking up but she seriously needs therapy.  I am sick of trying to be her therapist.  It isn’t my job really and she often told me that its not a good idea to go to others with your problems.  Her bottom line is that you need to work things out alone but that comes from a childhood where she was left alone and had to figure things out all alone.  Yesterday she was touching into deep realities and she told me how she feels so helpless and alone with no one much to talk to about all the things she goes through.  I want to say “well Mum get some therapy” but she never would.  So I end up being the font of all compassion but my compassion now is only prepared to extend so far when no recognition of past hurts or any apology has been forthcoming.

Second reason for anger and terribly acute body symptoms over the past few days has been unresolved issues with my living sister.  She was so awfully mean to me at the aforementioned time, telling me I was a selfish little girl and that I had had a shit of a life and she pitied me.  Oh and also going behind my back to my nephew (my older dead sister’s son) who I was really establishing a close relationship with and telling him how jealous I was of her.  Luckily at that time (just under 3 years ago now) he told me and I confronted her on the day we putting a party on for my mother.  I wish I had just walked out for at first she tried to deny it and then she said he had no right to tell me and then that she thought it was true.  But what I actually think is true is that the situation was the reverse and narcissists always believe they are so wonderful that the universe is jealous of them, why I do not know when the are such superiority junkies looking down their noses at all and sundry.  I have never been that person, as those who know me and have told me its just NOT ME.

Anyway she has softened somewhat in later years and actually did give me a grudging apology about what occurred in 2005 when I confronted her and Mum about it 2 years ago around this time of year.  But it was in no way an apology that came from her heart or truly recognised the damage done and the other day when she rang me about my tooth issue concerned to see how I was, it was I who ended up apologising to her for reacting to the horrible way she traated me.  Did I need to apologise  NO!  And my inner child is very upset with adult me about it and let me know as I woke up with shocking PTSD symptoms yesterday.  Whenever I see my sister my anxiety level goes through the roof and I was telling my therapist today that it was because I feel there is a lot of anger and hurt my body is carrying and the only way it has to come out is as anxiety.  But the mixed up irony is that as anxious as I feel I try even harder to bond with her and its a trauma bond and end up having an extra coffee with her even though its not really good for me to do it, because I feel she may be lonely.

I am aware as I write all this out it may seem like sour grapes to some.  I don’t really care as what you think isn’t my issue.  But what I need to know and see more clearly which is why I am putting it out there in black and white is how I can over ride my own impulses and intuitions. I often find my inner critic attacks my real attempts at feeling the truth of my feelings and most particularly that includes genuine expressions of anger.

Katina, my therapist was today reminding me that as much compassion as I feel I also need to remind myself that its okay to be angry.  So many of the messages around me growing up in family and Catholic school were based on anger being a ‘bad’ or negative emotion, when really anger is a signal of something from our deepest, truest inner self.  If we deny or over ride our own angry impulses we end up in such strife.  I have had so many accidents due to traumas from my past or pain replaying over in the present moment and this is one of the saddest facts about trauma,  it tends to attract more of the same to us but most particularly for those of us who were taught to value compassion, rationalisation and excuses over valid expression of anger.  So many times I have been told I better be careful as anger is dangerous, but this is only the case when it is not cleanly and clearly expressed, or if it is expressed aggressively.   We need to be so mindful of where our sore angry spots lie because when triggered they are signs of something from the past that needs to be dealt with or is calling for our awareness or attention, if we don’t pay attention we are in trouble  It won’t do us any good to act our anger out on those who really are just triggering a massive back log of past stuff but we still need to be aware that such people aren’t good to be around on a long term basis.  I am sad to say that goes for my family at present, much as I long for their love, when they are around it comes with huge reminders of pain from the past.  I have not ‘let it go’ yet, it hasn’t let go of me.

Its difficult writing this, as I was the television was just turned on by some automatic process.  I went over and Jasper my dog had his ear on the remote but what was most interesting was that it was a show called Compass and was on a priest’s life, and at that moment in time he was speaking of the ‘false ego’ that has to die if we want to fully embrace our humanity.  It made me question the wisdom of hanging onto my anger.  Maybe my sister had changed now and has soften, maybe she regrets what she did to me all of those years ago.  Maybe my mother wishes she hadn’t been so cruel to have chosen my sister over me when I was ‘too sad’ grieving at the end of my marriage.  I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.  Is my anger coming from ‘false ego’?  Is that why the television automatically came on?  I don’t know either but I am putting this in my blog as part of the mental process I go through on a day when I am trying to make sense of and deal with this anger from the past and the deep wound in me that gets triggered around this time of year.  I feel less angry now after writing this.  I have attempted to express my true reality, for what it is worth.   And I appreciate any feedback or any sharing from others about how you have dealt with your own anger.

And in the interest of openness the following are just a selection of anger quotes I came across on line :

 

 

Bring things out in the open

I have noticed this week a strong shift towards people in the public eye opening up about what has been going on deep inside when they have struggled in life.  The first thing was the airing of a two part programme of Insight on SBS our multicultural channel in Australia on the incidence of depression in sports stars and athlete’s, often but not always associated with their careers.  But what really came out of the programme was the understanding that so many long for attention and a sense of meaning in their lives and when such attention or meaning or connection is broken a lot of suffering ensues.

The second part of the programme aired on television here last night and a young footballer whose name I cannot remember was really open about his struggle with addiction and depression.  He tried to take his life a few years ago and since then has had good professional help to deal with his mental health issues, but he as also started a foundation to help young kids who are struggling too and this is what has helped him most of all.

Opening up and overcoming our shame of feeling vulnerable is a huge part of healing from mental health issues.  The more open we can be, the more understanding we can share.  The video above is just one example of how opening up can help us and others and is part of the UK initiative, Heads Together.  I would like to thank Summer for bringing this to my attention in a recent post.  This video links to others she has shared on her blog.

Not as triggered : some small steps forward

I wrote this post on Tuesday.  I didn’t post it.  Same old, same old beat up by the inner critic, even though my therapist thought it showed a sign of growth.

Being ignored is usually a huge trigger for me.  I guess it reminds me of being young and being left alone a lot and finding myself on the outside and not in the popular pool of happy gregarious youngsters who all got on and felt free to express and be themselves without feeling locked up in a prison of thoughts and projected inner judgement.  Its hard to go through life feeling scared and not safe enough in your own being and skin.

So today at the dog park when two people deliberately ignored and excluded me from their conversation I felt good when it didn’t hit me as hard as it usually would have in years past.   One of the people in question is someone I know and we don’t have a lot in common.  In fact I think when she asked me about my Christmas a few months ago I honestly told her how hard it was emotionally and that is a trigger for some people.  They just don’t want to hear about anything that isn’t light and breezy and since then she doesn’t make any effort to connect at all.

I have to remember at such times that there are other people I connect with.  At the moment I feel a bit isolated and lonely as I haven’t managed to connect with my usual friends at the park much and often our contact is fairly superficial.  I spend a lot of my time alone.  And at the park today when they made no effort to talk even though my dog Jasper was playing with the other woman’s dog  I just thought “fair enough” and I took myself off and read my book under a tree.  There was none of the harsh inward cricitism I would have heard inside my head before.

It seems at the moment I just have to nurture myself in solitude.  I am not going to lie and say it isn’t really lonely at times.  Since I have moved back to my home town I find it hard to find others of like mind to connect with and I spend a lot of time with my dog.  I am so grateful  that I do have connections through blogging as without that I would feel quiet disconnected and lost.  I want to concentrate on the connections that I do have such as the one with my therapist and my very very good male friend who lives away from me.  We talk on the phone a couple of times a week and I know I can call him any time.

I just wrote a blog on unmet needs prompted by one Athina posted on Courage Coaching.  Thinking about it the need for friendship and emotional connection is such a huge one that relates to and has such important consequences for our emotional and mental health.  Lack of connections and isolation such as I have lived in past years must led to mental health problems and  disease and Deepak Chopra makes that connection in his book The Book of Secrets speaking of how our body cells naturally connect in a state of health and in ill health this connective ability runs awry with the cells often turning against themselves.

I don’t find it easy to find others to connect with.  How I cope is by connecting with myself and then spending that time on my blog.  Connections cannot be forced, they have to occur naturally.  I don’t need to beat myself up if I don’t connect or others ignore me.  I don’t have to make that the cause of negative self talk.

What you say and do

Judge

What you say and do does affect other people and what other people say and do does affect you.  I was reminded about this after a conversation with a friend who has struggled all weekend with stomach pain.  Someone said some thing nasty to him, it upset him.  He went via the bakery to get some bread which he loves and ate too much of it and low and behold had a stomach ache for the rest of the weekend.

I can see how his emotional upset was transferred and then not really processed. Eating the bread made him worse and probably wasn’t a great choice but the original stress was that he was adversely affected by what someone said and did to him.   When he tried to talk to his wife about it she wouldn’t hear him and so he ate the bread.  I could relate.

What we say to our selves and do to ourselves in the wake of what someone says or does to us is so important.  We also need to be mindful of our words.  Is what we are saying necessary and true?  Do we have a right to have an opinion about others ways of doing things? And if we do, is it really necessary to share it? Can we speak kindly and with love?   Or are we just dumping or being insensitive?

If we have known invalidation abuse or other unkindness, its true, in time we are going to have to find ways to throw off the hurtful things said to us and learn not to react, but we are still human and we are affected by what others say and do.  To imply that we are not to me is problematic.  It’s not always easy to live in the world especially for those of us who are very sensitive, as my friend is.  We still have to find our way through it though.  It is still so important to be aware of our words and work to make our communication as non violent and loving as possible.  We also need to learn how to set boundaries with those who are not that aware and hurt us.  Talking to ourselves in a loving way and setting up good internal boundaries is also so important for our words have great power for good and ill.

 

To fearlessly communicate

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How amazing would it be to be able to embrace life and relationships with an open heart and mind, not blocked and clouded or defended against fear of being hurt or humiliated?

Certainly we can come unstuck if we are open and sensitive at times sharing with those who may shame us or try to put us down.  Criticism from others that is not given in kind and heartfelt way does injure us and makes us fear opening up again in any way.  If we are raised by or spend a lot of time around narcissists, those who are invested in not allowing us to actually fully express ourselves and our truth being open in this way becomes difficult and fraught with all kinds of fears and insecurities.  We may fear where the next defence or attack may come from if we are honest with others who are nothing like those people who blocked us before from expressing our feelings, wants and needs.

Learning to develop good boundaries, learning to gain a better sense of how and when it is appropriate to express ourselves, as well as when we need to be quiet and listen to others and make an attempt to step into their shoes is so important.

I was reading a chapter about compassionate communication in my book Love for No Reason : 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love last night after returning home from a dinner with friends I had not seen in a long time.  It was talking about keep the channel between our heart chakra and our throat centre open.

One of the things mentioned was how it is so important to our own wellbeing and the maintaining of healthy relationships to be able to be open, honest and authentic in our communications with others.   We need to find a way to speak from our own truth, but not in such a way that is harsh, critical and judgemental, nor in such a way that steps all over the boundaries of others.

Most certainly there are times in which we will try to express our truth and others will react badly, even if we are being sensitive to them.  That reaction most probably has a lot more to do with them and their own issues.  Often too we can be on the receiving end of criticism that has nothing to do with us.  Something we have done may have sparked the pain body of the other person, an area of old hurt, wounding or sensitivity and if that person is defended or lacks emotional insight and intelligence they will react in a difficult way, they may deflect, deny or blame.

I remember in my last relationship with a man who had intense narcissistic issues, I was slammed for turning up on time to collect him from a bus journey that was running early.   I got in trouble for not being there to meet him as he had sent a text while I was in the video shop dropping off a DVD to let me know it was going to be 5 minutes early.

When I arrived to pick him up an argument ensued (we are talking about 5 minutes here).  It had been raining and there was lightening around the bus stop.  “I could have been hurt or injured,” he said to me.  I tried to point out I was sorry, I was actually on time but had missed the text and had done my best, in fact I had spent most of the afternoon preparing a dinner for him which I then mentioned (this sort of thing happens with narcissists, we try to argue against the unfairness of what they are trying to lay on us that is associated with old pain).  I got a huge serve for changing the subject and we ended up breaking up for the third time after this incident.

In this situation there was no way to soothe what was actually a sore spot for him.  Maybe I could have helped the situation by acknowledging his fear (while recognising it was more about past issues than present ones), who knows.  As usual after we broke up I went over and over critical issues like this trying to figure out what had gone wrong and what was my part in it.  I would add this is a guy who would keep me waiting for hours at a time at critical times. In the end I think I may have been set up to fail in any case.   It was really impossible in the end to meet the list of his demands of me which centred around trying to make up for all the failures of a mother who had left him at age 4 to escape an abusive marriage.

On reflecting upon all of this recently I feel that part of recovering from narcissistic wounds or our vulnerability to narcissistic relationships (we are more liable to attract these when we have emotional wounds and difficulties with boundaries ourselves) means we struggle to become aware when fear is actually blocking the full and free expression of emotions that lie underneath the fear.  Fear of these emotions and how vulnerable we do feel when they are touched causes us to react or over react in painful ways.  It causes us to attack or defend.

What might it mean to stay open and non judgemental in this situation, even when our defences have been sparked, to be aware that there is a tender spot within all of us that lies beneath this fear?  One that needs our attention, care, understanding, insight and love.  It is something to contemplate.