I took the risk

My brother called this morning.  My sister’s anxiety is so bad that they are putting her in hospital and he wanted to come over to discuss it with me in half an hour.  Her psychiatrist just ‘retired’ leaving her with no one, she then got another referral and has to wait 4 months to see anyone.  I was so angry to hear this.  My sister never opens up to me but maybe I should have asked what the situation is but since my sister chooses to do no therapy I find its a bit of a no go zone discussing psychiatrists.  My sister has been struggling and I think I have failed her by not noticing how hard it was for her lately and concentrating on how I am struggling and not getting enough from her.  I feel some guilt over it.  I think I may have been self centred.  That said I have never found it easy to trust her as she has hurt me before I know she must be missing Mum a great deal and feeling guilt over the stress she caused by trying to take her own life while living with Mum back in 2013.

I then opened up to my brother about things from the past that happened after Dad died and before, he let me cry but then said to me “you need to find a way to put these things behind you because that all happened years agon and is in the past” which shows I was not wrong in being wary of opening up to him.   He did hold my hand as I cried and told me to ‘let it out’ but then his comment felt like being shut down again.  I tried to tell him how trauma such as I have had with things of metal going deep inside by body is just not a ‘head’ thing that can conciously be let go but affects neurobiology, but he quickly said he had to go when it got too intense for him.  Most PTSD survivors will be familiar with this kind of reaction.  Maybe he was just protecting himself.

I have to remember that my brother’s relationship with his own body is not good and he never was one to be able to relate and open up emotionally, my sister also never opens up and I told my brother I see this as a large part of anxiety because of the inner shame and constant inner critical voices that I know my sister does endure because she has shared about them with me.

I called my nephew to share my hurt over what my brother did, I wasn’t angry but I noticed I was shaking after he left and feeling so anxious my heart was beating wildly with the real life energy coming up seeking a container with him and the container broke aparts and it all flooded back on me.  I was also conscious of that body anxiety coming up as I discussed it all with my nephew until tears fell again and I expressed my vulnerablity to him.  He said I am not responsible for my sister, that her sons need to step up but I know the older son is not good with feelings either.

Anyway I did take the risk of opening up with my brother.  I learned why I so often don’t trust opening up and fear I will be dropped or negated.  I know what he said is not fully true wounds we go through do leave scars and much depends upon how we tend them, we don’t need to fixate on them, just respect that they are there and hurt more when soothing empathy is not shown and physical and emotional trauma does leave lasting effect no matter what those who do not suffer from it say to us.

Our total health rests on who we surround ourselves with and how well they receive us, until we can hold the charge for us in relationshp and after they left and recognise what went down in exchanges.  Today some things were confirmed but I have still been crying for my sis I wish she had real help that helped her to deal with her feelings and anxiety.  I hope she gets it in the hospital, but I am scared as I don’t trust they really know the full story or what they are doing.

Beautiful soul

Holding2.jpg

Beautiful soul

I wish you could see the light in you

I wish that you could know that you are

Worthy of love

Please remember that

Just because you are alone

And struggle on days

That does not mean you are a failure

There is so much

A single soul

Lives through in any life

And so often when we needed someone there

To hold our hand

We found ourselves alone

And we may have been told

That it was something that we did

That made everyone go away

But we also forget

That what is truly for us

Will not go past us

If we open our heart in love

To another loving soul

So don’t let your inner voices

Make you feel small or feel ashamed

Or if you do

Just be tender to that inner self who suffers

Who longs so deeply for the comfort and caress

Of your soothing embrace

Letting go of numb

The following extract comes from Tara Brach’s book True Refuge : Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart.  Interestingly it concerns a woman who Tara was working with in therapy who as a young child had her long hair cut off by her mother as it was too much bother. I was sharing in a post a few days ago how this also happened to me and the trauma of it was felt when I went to the hairdresser late last week following my Mum’s death.   The woman in question, Jane, had also had her mother die a few years before the time she was seeing Tara.  In therapy she was sharing how the pain of this event had awakened in her heart through intense feelings of fear, felt as a claw “pulling and tearing at my heart”.  What followed was an outburst of anger towards her mother for subjecting Jane to this ordeal.

The anger soon turned into deep sadness as Tara worked with Jane encouraging her to feel the pain and grief deeply in her body, and in time it transformed into peace.  Jane had reached some deeply powerful realisations as a result.

Brach writes the following in her book :

Carl Jung wrote, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of the parents.”  The outer domain of our unlived life includes all the places where we’ve held back from pursuing and manifesting our potential – in education and career, in relationships and creativity.  But it is the inner domain of our unlived life that sets this suffering in motion.  Here we find raw sensations, the longings and hurts, the passions and fears that we have not allowed ourselves to feel. When we pull away from the energetic basis of our experience, we turn away from the truth of what is.  We make a terrible bargain.  When we separate from the felt sense of our pain, we also separate from the visceral experience of love that allows for true intimacy with others.  We cut ourselves off from the sensory aliveness that connects us with the natural world.  When there is unlived life, we can’t take good care of ourselves, our children, our world.

The feelings you are trying to ignore are like a screaming child who has been sent to her room.  You can put earplugs in and barricade yourself in the farthest end of the house, but the body and the unconscious mind don’t forget.  Maybe you feel tension or guilt.  Maybe…. you are baffled by intimacy or haunted by a sense of meaninglessness. Maybe you fixate on all the things you need to get done.  You can’t live in a spontaneous way because your body and mind are still reacting to the presence of your distressed child.  Everythingy ou do to ignore her, including becoming numb, only strengthens your link with her.  Your very felt sense of who you are …is fused with the experience of pushing away a central part of your life or running from it.

In shutting down the passion, hurt and pain she had experienced as a young girl whose precious hair was butchered, Jane had locked herself into a numb and anxious fragment of who she was.  Yet something in her was calling her to live more fully.  By beginning to contact her body’s experience, by touching ground, she was opening the door to what she had been running from.

Traumas of this kind may seem inconsequential, but really they are not.  Something was done to us we didn’t want or need and had no power over and feelings do remain.   The true self in Jane probably loved her long hair,  it wasn’t all just about ego and looking a certain way, hair does hold our power and is connected to our heads which are such a vital part of our being. To be subjected to something that upset us and then to be laughed at for reacting (as Jane was) leaves a scar and a powerful subliminal message.  Going numb to it does not mean the feelings go away, they need to be dealt with, with compassion and sensitivity.

On the thorny issue of ‘being alone.’

Alone

I picked up an interesting book at the library on Sunday, as my close followers will know I often do.  The title is How To Be Alone and its on the issue of how so often in modern society we are told that it’s not good to be alone or to spend too much time in solitude, that it is more natural for us as human beings to socialise or be sociable.  If you think about it a lot of how we feel about spending time alone does relate to how we were related to when young, but we might not also have come in with a bias to be more introverted, or is that just something that happens to us when significant early relationships fail?  The book has really got me thinking.

I don’t know how many of you have been in relationships where you were told it wasn’t natural for you to be introspective or need your alone time.  I went through one significant relationship like this and it was also something I was told a lot by family members.  They did not seem to realise that when certain traumas and separations hit me both in early childhood and later adolescence/early adulthood I was left to cope alone.  So I can just naturally get on with my life in solitude, I do spend a lot of time in that solitude though thinking about others, its not just all self obsessive thinking I engage with when alone.

The author of the book Sara Maitland makes convincing arguments for the healthy and soul nurturing aspects of solitude or being alone.  Of course solitude is a choice for some of us and one we use both to nurture ourselves and make an inner relationship and so its a different kind of alone time to that which may be imposed on us if we are exiled or find ourself isolated emotionally or physically in some relationships, families or groups, which can happen we are not like the other’s temperamentally or have suffered abandonment or abuse.  Then being alone can be deeply painful but also set us on a quest to know and love ourselves more and to understand the forces that shaped us.  We can get all kinds of messages about how there is something wrong with us for being alone or liking solitude, and those messages are bound to make us feel worse about ourselves if we swallow them wholesale.

In my last major relationship, my partner accused me of being agoraphobic simply because at that stage I was choosing solitude, that said there may have been a degree of social anxiety in my unsociability.  I had been abandoned and hurt and misunderstood very much in the years leading up to that introversion.   Yet still as a person I know I do gain benefits from alone time.  I am highly empathic and I find when I am around certain people I do absorb and tend to gravitate toward them at a feeling level.

I had this experience yesterday when I was driving to my first therapy appointment of 2018 of being reduced to tears at the intersection where a homeless man was offering windscreen cleaning and being refused by nearly every driver.  He said the ‘F’ word sotto of voice without a hint of outer aggression, and as he did I felt his exhaustion and pain and something about him being rejected really triggered me.   I just found myself sobbing.  I am aware that a lot of what I was feeling may have been banked up grief as I had seen my therapist only once since my mother’s death on 12 December and holding in the feelings I noticed they were bubbling up as I drove toward the appointment.  I thought of how hard Mum tried to give or do things for us and of how much she needed emotionally and was refused by certain family members, yet introversion and solitude helped me to process all of this and become more aware.

I noticed too that on the last two days I took myself out for a morning coffee when I ran into friends part of me was pleased to see them, but part of me wanted just to have a solitary moment enjoying my cuppa.  I find I am less conscious of the taste and mindfully experiencing it, drinking my coffee while distracted in conversation.  Conversation can be either interesting and engaging or a bit detached and that all depends on what is being shared.  Being pulled out of ourselves when we need that alone time to recharge can be a bit disturbing to our energy and I don’t always find it easy in that situation to say ‘listen I would just like to sit quietly on my own for a while.’

The danger I think in all of this, though, is pertinently pointed out by Sara in her book.  It’s not just pathology to want to be alone.  In one chapter she reminds us that it’s when we are alone in nature that so many of us have peak experiences of connection : physical, emotional, spiritual and transcendent.   It is in silence we can hear the still small voice of creativity that is often drowned out by too much excessive stimulation or ‘noise’, its in solitude that we can touch with the base of our soul through the use of imagination or reverie.   However, it is also lovely to have those moments when we touch or are touched by other humans, times of connection that fill us up and add to us, rather than drain our life energy away.  Sorting out what we need in terms of connection or solitude and alone time or in relationship is an ongoing balance of polarities.  What is right for one person may not serve someone else and what we need on one day may change on another.

Despite all this I know my own soul would be far poorer were it not for the creative alone time I have experienced in my own life.   So I will not be ever demonising anyone for loving their solitude.

There is no evidence whatsoever that even prolonged periods of being alone are detrimental to physical or mental health, so long as that solitude is freely chosen…. (according to Anthony Storr – author of the book Solitude) “the fact that isolation can be therapeutic is seldom mentioned in textbooks of psychiatry.  The emphasis is on group participation….(I) regret that the average mental hospital can make little provision for those patients who want to be alone and would benefit from being so.”

Maitland makes the point consistently throughout her book that often people who chose alone time or solitude can be demonised as sad, mad or bad.   But not all evidence supports this, for those who are able to endure and navigate the alone space can bring back treasures both for the self and for others which just would never have been discovered or birthed in the absence of solitude.

 

 

 

The mental confusion of early childhood trauma

When there is not as much going on in my life I want to share information from Tian Dayton’s book Emotional Sobriety on the effects of relational trauma, that is the damage that happens to us when we are affected by early childhood abuse, trauma or lack of mirroring and empathy.  However today one of the key symptoms that is capturing my attention is distorted reasoning.  Tian writes :

Many people experience trauma within their family unit, rather than from an external source  When one’s family unit is spinning out of control, people are prone to adapt all methods of coping mechanisms – whatever they have to do to maintain feelings of connection.  Distorted reasoning – which may take the form of rationalizing and justifying bizarre or unusual forms of behavior and relations – can be immature and can also produce core beliefs about life upon which even more distorted reasoning is based.  For example “he is only hitting me because he loves me.”

I am thinking of this today as my Mum lies so ill and pumped full of chemicals in hospital.  I am thinking of how with no father she had to suffer aloneness and then be pushed to clean and clean.  Down on her kness in the bathroom she was told to ‘polish that floor until it shines’  and then she was hit or forced into domestic service.   With all this unprocessed trauma was it any wonder it was passed on to us all in different ways.  My older sister worked and worked and then drank and drank until the cerebral bleed took her down, my brother in law who eventually abandoned her was the evil one, but he too was scrambling to survive.   Amidst all of the following trauma I was scrambling to make sense of it, seeing my sister in a mythological light or struggling to understand the truth, caught up but not able to see clearly, carrying terror of abandonment into all subsequent relationships.

Lats night as I sat by my mother’s bedside and held her hand in the darkened room, an ocean of peace opened up between us.   I wept to the depths of my being as she told me she loved me.  She is very heavily drugged at the moment and chock full of toxins.  She also knows she hurt me and that we struggled at times, but what I really felt so deeply last night was the love that she tried to express in the only way she knew how.  Her own mother never once tole her she loved her, in later years she would push my mother out of the way in her desire to see my father, who she adored.   I know at times as a patriarchial Dad, my father frustrated all three of his daughers and there were a lot of times he could not give my mother the understanding she needed.   I see how my Mum was as a young person so focused on survival that emotions had to take a back seat.  Now its so sad to witness the years of trauma she has lived through as the result of her earlier emotional neglect richocheting over three generations.  My nephew made a lightening visit to see her yesterday morning driving four hours and weeping so intensely.   My heart goes out to him really, he has been through so much in past weeks all in an effort to fill the gaping mother wound in his heart (Saturn in Cancer).   He is carrying pain of many generations, that much is clear to me, as the very sensitive one.

Two other symptoms of early relational trauma are also somatic disturbances as well as memory disturbances and dissociation.  The continuity of time is warped in trauma, we don’t remember key events but they are held deep in somatic memory, however they are obscured and disjointed and may make so sense.   Due to dissociation we experience reactions to events that mirror earlier ones that may seem out of control or order.  We are then judged or judge ourselves for suffering, not fully understanding the extent of our suffering.  Re-enactment patterns and relationship issues are also a result of relational trauma in early life.   We will try in any way to make the the unconscious conscious in order to feel and heal it, but so often that involves experiencing more pain in order to connect to the original cause that my lay deeply obscured within us.   Maybe triggering traumatic events and disturbances in later relationships are ‘wake up calls’ trying to draw us towards understanding, healing and feeling.   It major work and we need so much help along the way.  We cannot do it alone and we need positive connections to heal but making them is hard when we are often attracted to what is bad for us.

With Mercury planet of mind and communications moving backward through the meaning making sign of Sagittarius this month and back towards a confusing square (or crisis aspect) with the planet of distorting Neptune, issues of mental confusion may be highlighted but the unconscious which Neptune also rules may be trying to get our attention in all kinds of ways.  Who can we trust for validation when our thinking and ability to make sense of our experience may be essentially wounded or thwarted and distorted in some way by past relational trauma or lack of mirroring?   It is so important that we find the right avenues to deepen in understanding and heal our minds as well as our hearts, souls and bodies.

Mars the planet of self assertion is moving into trine Neptune over the next two weeks or so, so a flow of healing may open up in many of our lives, a push to move forward in love and compassion in order to find freedom from past hurt, its what I am feeling very deeply this morning.   We cannot avoid the mental distortions that are a part of trauma but we can, in later life work for more clarity and insight.    Information on how trauma can discombobulate us is essential for our emotional recovery.

Some thoughts on disconnection and connection.

Connection

Well back here we are my sister, Mum and me, alone again after all the trauma with little Lyra hit, worrying and wondering and feeling how it is to have no loving family apart from each other close.  I called my nephew this morning he only texted back everyone is excited and elated, Lyra is now smiling and out of sedation, call you later the text said.  I breathed such a huge sigh of relief but today all three of us are feeling the trauma and the void more deeply than ever.  I am sure he has a lot going on as his wife’s extended family were flying in to join them all this morning.  I am glad Lyra and Gerrard have all of that loving support.  But it does drive home how isolated we can be at times.

I do believe separations are a part of life.  With Mercury planet of communications very close the astrological heavy weight Saturn (planet of being alone and separate) now with Mercury moving backwards its driving home to me how deeply Saturnian our family is.  Those who managed to break away have close bonds, my nephews all have loving partners and families.  My brother has a very close bonded family.   The rest of us, well our relationships dissolved for one reason and another.

As I look back I see how hard it was for me to understand emotional connection and closeness growing up.  Trauma has the affect of fragmenting us anyway and relational trauma is the worst.  If you have a trauma and those around you pull close to you and surround you with love you do a lot better.  The loved ones may not understand the deeply traumatised person but they may try.   In the case of my older sister and I (and my dead sister, too) when trauma hit us and emotions were challenging there was not one partner who stayed around.   I hate to say I am a little envious of Lyra being surrounded by all of that love, but I am.    With my Saturn Moon I have to carry that burden of solitude and aloneness and realise I will only connect for a time to anyone.  Trauma from my own past made my hypervigilant and gun shy, very fearful of being betrayed and abandoned again in any relationship.  I see how I have held back due to fear and then became a lone wolf but hungering for love never the less.  All the love I give to my own inner child and inner self is important but it doesnt always make up for a hug from others.

Today I am worried for my mother who is alone now after witnessing that trauma with Lyra the other day.  Having people close who then go through trauma or leave has been a constant in our family which seems to have been dogged by separations, leavings, emotional absence and loss.   I need to find a way to bear all of this with good grace.

I don’t feel disconnected from myself today and I am thankfully not inside that trauma space.  I am so very grateful to the caring souls on WordPress who yesterday reached out to me with so much love, thank you Laina, Grizzly Man, 1 Wise Woman, Alexis, and Twinkle Toes.  You made getting through yesterday just the little bit easier for me.  I am so lucky to have a connection with you and value your support a lot.  I was telling my sister today how much being able to write about what is going on and be connected to here and through my blog helps me.  I hope to do the same with others, for there are all times we need a hand to hold in the midst of difficulites.

Relational trauma interrupts the bonds that connect us to others, to our heart and to our feelings as well as to ourselves.   Trauma creates a schism that can keep us so alone.   Trauma fractures our identity and if we are not held it feels as though we are falling through space.

Last night I googled ‘Trauma Vortex’ as its something Peter Levine talks about in his book Waking The Tiger .   I found an excellent article by someone who works with the body in trauma.  I will post the link to it below.

http://owenmarcus.com/deep-change/insights-on-healing-the-trauma-body/

If we never experience being held in love or connected to when we are in trauma it’s enough to tear our hearts so deeply apart that we may not even survive.   I was also thinking today that those of us who are born with fine radar and are highly sensitive are far more likely to struggle in this life.   We become more vulnerable to energies around us, we pick up a lot and we may struggle or suffer if we do not recognise this.  I could not help but think a lot about this a lot last night as it affected my grand niece.  I think it was far too big a trip for her for four days, she was not eating the same as she may have at home.   We were at cafes for lunch on several days.  Her tummy was a little sore on Sunday night due to this.   Little children need us to stay connected to and in tune with them.  On Friday I was careful to take her away and spend some time playing and exploring when it got all a bit too boring with the adults sitting around and discussing adult things.  I noticed the frown on her face when she didnt like some of the food and was told to eat it up.  At that age its so important that our tastes are respected and I know kids need boundaries but they need to be fair ones.  I remember being taken out to dinners with Mum and Dad a being fed alcohol when I was only still very young and then wishing I could go home and go to bed but having to wait around.  We learn a lot about about how to care for our bodies and souls in childhood by the way others treat us and knowing that we have a right to what we like and need is so important.

Today I am in a much better place than I was yesterday, the sadness at feeling disconnected is very strong anyway as we head towards Christmas, I know its a very common sadness for so many of us.  At this time if we don’t come from a happy family its hard to watch those who do, having times together and being connected, however at this time of year no matter how disconnected we do feel we can always reach out to others for connection, to know that someone cares and is there for us is so important.  We are relational beings.  Even if we are empathic introverts we still have a need to be connected in ways that are not compromising or overpowering for us.   Feeling invaded in the past may make us feel gun shy, but there are those out there who will love and respect who we are.   Pain of the past can make us self absorbed, especially if we feel others would not understand us.   But in the end, at times we have to let it begin with us, when it comes to reaching out.   Those of us who can end up faring better than those who can’t.

Sore

Today was a tough day, in the morning.  Last night afer a dinner at Mum’s my nephew opened up to me about the terror he went through after my sister sustained brain damage from her stroke.  I never knew why her husband left her and sent her home,  his family in New Zealand would not help.  He ended up telling the two older boys they must leave and go it alone when they were just teenagers, the two younger ones (including my nephew who is visiting) were taken here and there and the woman my brother in law took up with following my sister’s illness was unkind to he and his brother.   I heard a lot of things last night I wont share here that hurt me so much to hear.   I have no medication to dull the effect.  I got to sleep after an hour or so of twisting and turning after I finally got to bed just before midnight.  I awoke to hear what I thought was my grand-niece having a bad dream.  My nephew is taking a valium before bed so as to get a proper sleep.  I got back to sleep but awoke with so much going around in my head when they did not get up for an hour and a half I started to feel very anxious and unsettled.  Things calmed down but then , when my sister died, I was the one left the task to clear out her room at the care home with Mum and it was such a big task as she kept so much, photos, letters, the children’s drawing, school projects, reports and other nick knacks I have held onto these for over three years now but today I wanted to pass them on.  There was a photo of my sister at about age 24 holding her first born and my nephew said, Mum was so beautiful then.  I just broke down.  It was so hard I was crying so hard I had to leave the room as he was so caught up in looking at the drawings he did as kid that contain similar themes to his later art work (he is now a well recognised artist) and they were images of trauma, I could see that clearly.   I felt the terror he was under when my sister ran after him with a pair of scissors.  I think after the bleed a part of her brain must have been badly damaged.  So hard to hear.

I phoned my other sister as my therapist has told me she won’t answer calls out of session.   I had taken on so much of the pain I had to download it somewhere.  “He shouldn’t be telling you those things,” my sister said to me.  Part of me feels he needs to but I am not his therapist.  I want to be there but I realised when I broke down what was really happening was I was seeing how much I have been trying to compensate for my sister’s damage and loss, when really it is not my responsiblity and yet in one way it is.  I am so confused!!!

Time out in the bedroom helped, as did the call to my sister.   I wondered though if I was the one doing all the feeling,  When my nephew knew I was upset he gave me a huge hug, but thats confusing as he is the one who also went through so much pain and when he gets home he has to have an operation to stop a swelling in his cerebellum from impinging on a nerve at the base of his neck.  I am frightened for him and was worried when over the past two night he continued to drink two thirds of a bottle of wine.  At the same time I dont judge him, I understand its just being in addiction recovery I so wish he did not drink or smoke.

I am aware of my boundaries though.   What he does is up to him.  After all he told me I know how much he feels he needs pain relief.   I think it was such a big thing for him to bring his daughter down here for a few days when he is facing such a huge thing in his life.   I now understand why my own Mum was worried and did not know if it would be okay for him to come.

Anyway we went out for lunch and were able to soothe ourselves.  There has not been a bad word between any of us.   Last night Mum opened up about the circumstances surrounding my father’s death just after Christmas and was able to cry.   My nephew held her hand.  My Mum got a lot of cuddle time with little Lyra and it was such a sweet visit.   It is going to be hard to say goodbye to them tomorrow but at the same time I will be glad also to have some of my space back its so mixed, time with family when there is so much trauma from the past.  My sister was always gentle but a strong willed person, its obvious the brain injury changed her.  At times she scared even me.   I sacrificed so much to stay close to my sister in 2002 and 2005 then again in 2011.  I had to come back to my home town to face all of this.  I could have gone away but it would all have been kicking around inside of me anyway, and still I long for a life outside a life of pain and grief that is really only tangital to me.   I felt such soreness today when the full weight of it all it me.  I was aware that at the moment Mercury is about to stand still and station before moving  backward to cross critical degrees of Sagittarius that were strong in my dead sister’s chart for her own Mercury which on some level rules the brain and spinal cord as well and Neptune was passing over it when the bleed occurred and Neptune rules the cerebral spinal fluid.  (this placement ties into strong placements in my great great grandfather’s chart to which my sister was deeply connected inter cellularly.)   Now my nephew has damage to his brain too.   I am frightened for him.  I want to wrap him up in cotton wool and keep him safe.  He is such a beautiful man and I love him so much.   I feel so sad, but will pray that he will be held in loving care.  Last night we both spoke of how we both felt we had been kept safe at key times we drank too much.   He carried similar trauma to me and I am glad now he is in a loving relationship, for many years he was living out in the bush all alone with only his art.  I feel the deepest connection with him.   I love him with all my heart.  Please, if there is a God, keep him safe I beg of you, and help me to contain this suffering which feels like just such a huge ocean of pain and powerlessness today.