To value life

Hearing that a loved one is perhaps dying is a very big shock. I guess my first real brush with death happened when my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1984. I only so young then, I was only 22 but a very young 22, I had just spent a year in my first job at the Research School of Biological Sciences and had moved out of home for the second time to share with some friends who were in the military at the Duntroon college here in Canberra. I was running a bit wild on the weekends but also holding down a second job waitressing to save for my overseas trip with my then partner Jim.

Dad’s diagnosis was a big shock to us and I have shared how it was the one time we connected where Dad expressed his emotions and I really felt his vulnerability. Up till then we had had a lot of healthy disagreement because I didn’t like my Dad was a property developer who was bulldozing old buildings to put up huge modern office blocks with my brother. I was also unconsciously angry he would not support my academic studies and forced me to go to business college.

Dad’s illness was in some ways mercifully short. He was operated on December and came out briefly from hospital on 24 December only to be returned in the early hours of Christmas morning. He died while they performed an emergency tracheoctomy on him to help him breathe in the early hours of Thursday 8 January. I got the call at work to come home.

I never got to say goodbye. I had not been well enough to go to the hospital, I was to be leaving for India in January to meet my partner who left in December and had had shots the day before Dad died. As it was my partner broke it off with me in the middle of the night shortly after Dad died, he told me not to come overseas but Mum forced me to go on with the trip which was horrendous. My brother handled the funeral and I never got to see Dad’s body. I do not remember the funeral at all, only some of the wake and not even a lot of that. Within a month I was alone overseas in the UK and very lost.

Lately I have achieved some kind of peace with Dad’s death. I have a post banked up on what grieving people need and how each death is personal and different according to the relationship we had with the person, Dad was always emotionally remote to me, as is my brother so I have struggled so much in my relationships with men, most of my partners could never validate me emotionally and my last partner caused me untold damage by not even trying to understand my complicated grief issues. That said I would often lash out due to anger I had with my father at not really ‘getting’ me and showing me empathy. I am sure I had to go through all of this pain in life to learn what a loving relationship with a healthy emotionally validating partner is, and harder to believe I do deserve to be treated with more empathy and respect.

Now that my friend, Christine seems to be possibly suffering from cancer the synchronicity of timing is not lost on me. I found my Mum also lost close friends in the final years of her life very close to the anniversary of Dad’s illness, diagnosis and death. In the case of my father it dogged every Christmas celebration and one year my older sister and I found ourselves at logger heads, it was the year Jonathan left me.

Christine’s illness is a reminder to me, too of my own brushes with death. Four of us have been diagnosed with cancer in my family, my father, my brother, my second oldest sister and I. I have not been brave enough to go for my own breast cancer check up yet, it is something I know I must deal with.

I wanted to write this post though to work through how intrinsically death and life can seem to be inter-related. Really bad grief or sadness or loss can steal our life energy for a long time and can be made more complex by earlier, perhaps unresolved griefs. What is clearer to me after all the research and reading I have done on grief as well as my experience of seeing how the failure to deal with, or rather struggle to do so manifested in my family is that we do need support and validation in our grief, in order to move through it an embrace life energy again. That said if the bond to someone is powerful, for example in the case of Johnny Cash and June Carter that I shared about in recent posts the death of one may bring about the death of the other.

Its is our heart energy that is most impacted through loss, death or leavings. I know my own heart and panic symptoms began when Jonathan told me he was leaving me. The month he spent with me before packing up to go ‘home’ to the UK in July 2004 was one of the most painful periods of my life and the following 7 years spent in the wilderness of abandonment involved a brush with death due to a head injury on the first anniversary and a bad fall on the second, but maybe on all those years we were together I was on the run from my own grief and trying my damndest to live. I think of how I struggled with the grief in my body and how little affirmation or recognition I so often got. I think of how grief still gives me ‘spins’ at critical times of the day and especially around the 5 pm critical timeslot which was when I went head over heels over my bicycle following a cranio sacral session to deal with earlier trauma. Maybe I would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie, who knows if I bought the accident on myself as my sister tried to tell me many years ago. It was just so hard to trust a family so often shut down who told me I should not be where I was nor doing it as tough as I was. That said I know its not their fault either. I truly do believe everyone does the very best they can with what they know at the time. Its just sometimes their ‘best’ falls woefully short.

My inner critic gave me a hard time again today for going over and over my trauma again in this blog earlier. It told me I need to be ‘moving on’ and that its boring for my followers. I will let you be the judge of how accurate my critic is, while acknowledging that at times my fear and sensitivity may have kept me more stuck than I needed to be.

That said I am alive and I want to live, I really really do. Life is full of such a profound mix of ‘blessings’ and ‘curses’ and in the end its up to us how we handle them and the attitude we take to them as well as the choices we make in the face of it all that makes our life what it is, and so often we are not always consciously choosing. Today I choose as much as I can to embrace life, despite my knowledge of how vulnerable it can be at times to live and face death. But I want this awareness of death to always help me keep my heart open to love and to the opportunities to connect and be fully alive that life constantly presents me with.

Back to supreme source : You are the Universe

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For them (the great masters of Buddhism) death was not this evil, existential ending.  For them, death was not the end of everything.  For them, death was going back.  It was returning home to the Supreme Source.  I know many people may be wondering what this Supreme Source is.  It is jut another way of naming the universe.  You are going back into the universe. You are the universe, but you are also the play of the universe.  The universe is manifesting, manifesting as you, and when you die, you dissolve back into the universe.  The universe is always dancing, manifesting itself in myriad expressions.  Then all of the expressions dissolve into the universe and manifest again.  It is an eternal play.  You are part of the eternal play.  So you are the universe in the end.  You are everything from that point of view.  You are the stars in the sky.  You are the trees in the forest.  You are the Milky Way.  You are also all the things in landfill.  Of course, you are all the beautiful, exotic flowers in the garden as well.

Anam Thubten 

Embracing Each Moment : A Guide to the Awakened Life

 

Where has your spirit gone?

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For me Dad You will always be alive In my imagination We never really got to know each other There was a chasm we could not cross I felt you so far away In another land Though close to me Is it any wonder I struggled so much To be close to men in my life

But now I imagine where your spirit has gone Into the ether Or fishing off a celestial beach Living the life you never got to live on earth

1985

Songs of innocence take me back To that world Something changed irreversibly When you were taken so suddenly And its so hard to fathom now Where I went And all the ghostly paths of exile I travelled Always silently crying out your name Fearing to get close to anyone again They could never know the ghosts that haunted me

Its taken me years too To now feel you silently breathing In the air that surrounds me Never really far away Yet never truely found A mystery I will never fathom A ghost that will walk with me for the rest of my days

And yet there is too, a curious love I do not fully understand And the acceptance of a destiny never chosen that I must embrace

 

(Image : Aether by Ashley Lebedev)

A gift from the Gods : reflections on love, loss, grief and melancholy

Sometimes, now, I imagine that there was a moment when the gods and goddesses of creation offered us this : the gift of love, provided we accept the fact of knowing we will die.  Would any of us refuse the offer?  Would we choose to live a life without love to remain ignorant of death?  Even in the early moments of my grief, I never hated the bargain.  Even in the midst of the pain of loss, I welcomed the fact that we had twenty five years of learning to be lovers.

Forever taking leave, always on the verge of departing, we wander the world and along the way, at one time or another, meet others and together for a  brief moment arrange things.  We fall in love, marry, raise a family, start work, become knitted to the fabric of a community .  Yet all the while we see with a deeper, third eye, a subtle erosion of all that we have so patiently and lovingly built.  One by one the things we make slip away.   One by one those whom we love pass on.  And always in the dark silence of the night we know.  Always in that dark  hour of solitude we understand that death will take away the ones we love

But where do they go, those whom we have loved and have died?  We soothe our children with stories of heaven, and even as adults we still continue to cherish this place in our heart, eve if we can no longer believe it with our minds.  Something in us needs these tales.  Something in us needs to imagine that love does endure, perhaps even beyond death.  And yet, these stories can cheat us of the deepest demand which love makes upon us : to love what does not last, to love the rose which in its blooming already fades.  To embrace here with love what will pass away, what is in this very moment passing, while still hoping for a love which lasts beyond the grave!  How can we do that? Again I don`t know, I only know that after the shocks of grief and long, slow winter of mourning, I have found myself experiencing the world through different eyes, as if grief had changed the prescription of my vision.  In these moments, I experience all that is around me with melancholic eyes, with those eyes which can see in the midst of what is present in the moment, an absence which already haunts the moment.  Melancholy, I now believe, is the mood which allows us to love in the midst of our continual dying.  It is the mood which nurses the fact that love is born and rests in the cradle of death.  It is the mood which allows us to bear the mystery of love as the fragile home which the homeless soul builds in the human heart.

Robert Romanyshyn : Mourning and Melancholy : The Orphan and the Angel

Experiences of grief and loss do make our souls feel homeless.  That in which we have taken root, or those with whom we shared linkages and connections, even if haunted with shadows of disconnection are gone, suddenly taken.  We can experience grief over the loss of more than just a person, but when the person we have lost or who has died was so centrally important to our lives a vacancy or lacunae is left and into that void we fall.  Some of us are lucky to have those who will stand by as we are swallowed up, others of us may not be so lucky and may have anxious ones swoop in and try to save us.  Others of us may watch loved ones being swallowed up and feel powerless.  (I most certainly know I experienced a lot of that in my own life witnessing the traumas, losses and abandonment of my two sisters and mother.)  How we respond from this powerless place is very important.

I have personally felt that sometimes medication was being used as a way to stop a necessary descent.  I remember listening to a lecture by poet Robert Bly in which he said this: in depression we suffer a loss and refuse the call to descend, in grief we go willingly down.  Perhaps our various reactions and responses to depression, loss and grief or a dark night of the soul are not so clearly demarked, but the point is during these times the unconscious comes calling and its a testament of our love not only for that or who we have lost but also for ourselves how we respond. Bearing in mind such responses are never fully conscious.  Loss and grief do seem to demand of us an opening out after we fallen for a time and an opening of our heart in love, maybe even if for years we collapse or fall into a closed or folded up state.

The grief that never leaves you

I just got extremely triggered reading a post about the prospect of someone loosing their husband.  It opened up a well of grief that is always inside me, just covered over at times.  I had a vision too, as I contemplated how alone I have been for the past 5 years with no special man in my life, of a photograph taken at my brother’s wedding where I was flower girl with my hand in my father’s hand, I look so uncomfortable, out of place, scared and lost.  I showed it to my therapist a year or so ago and she often mentions it.  Although my father was a distant presence and not that emotionally available, there was some kind of connection and reading that post just made me cry.  I don’t know if I will ever be loved again like that by any man and I feel such a lot of sadness that connection with my nephews is often so rare.  The last time I called the nephew I feel closest to he didn’t even bother to return my call.  I could brush it off, but it hurt never the less.

Whenever I mention it to my Mum she tells me not to have hard feelings, that he is busy and struggles.  I don’t dislike him for not calling back, I just feel sad about it.  All kinds of things run through my mind as to why he may not want to have contact.  Add to all  of this that his older brother is visiting in two days with his three boys and wife, this is the nephew who has more to do with my mother and my sister than with me.  The last time we spoke he told me he had been listening to a programme on childhood trauma and he said “I don’t have any memories of when I was young, and that is apparently a sign of trauma”, he was about 10 when his Mum had the cerebral bleed and then got very damaged not only by that but by her husband’s eventual abandonment. I sent him some photos and he never acknowledged them.   This nephew was the one who stayed close to his Dad and was quite angry and aggressive to my sister at times.  I can never really know what went on in those dark days before my sister was sent back with a one way ticket by his father, but I ache over it for her, for our family and for her sons.

I wondered yesterday if some of my anxiety this week is about this visit.  Part of me doesn’t want to have to see my nephew and his family and have old wounds retriggered.  He is the most defensive, at my sister’s funeral I hugged him as the hearse pulled away from the church and a single tear fell from his eye to the pavement below.  I watched it fall, but his body was armoured, it reminded me of how my ex partner would also cry but in a very held back, armoured way.  I know the pain both went through, (no, Deb that is not right, I can only imagine) but its hard to connect from a place of vulnerability for him.

At the same time I have a longing to see his family, but I said to Kat in therapy yesterday I have to be aware I wont get what I hope for.  When my sister died his wife told me I shouldn’t grieve or be sad as my sister would not want me to be.  It was another slap or door shut in my face on the back of other griefs.  I stood up for my pain but I didn’t get comfort, come to think of it most of the tears I have shed I shed alone with no one to hold me.  Reading this back I am aware that how they treat me is just a reflection of how they treat their own vulnerability and feelings, by dismissing them!

Anyway I just let the tears fall again this morning.  It was a comfort to acknowledge the well of grief that I know will never leave me, not so much for what I lost, but more for what I never could have.  It reminds me of the painful emotional reality that so often many of us in our family left behind by partners have had to live in the absence of connection and care.  Its acknowledging a deep reality and feeling it,, knowing its a karma or circumstance I cannot change (or at least not before now).  I share about it here because here I know others will understand.  Its all I have at present this computer page and my therapy.  That and the brief times that sadness opens up with Mum before it is shut down again with things she says to push the pain and grief to the sidelines.

And as I write this I am aware how much harder  it is to let go or get over something we cannot or are not allowed to fully feel or acknowledge the emotional truth of.  There is not one single platitude that can full the vacancy left by honest empathy, acknowledgement and presence.

My sad self : reflections on trauma, Persephone and journeying in the Underworld

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My sad self is not the whole of me, though at times it is so strongly present.  There is a side of me that is very dark and heavy and sad, that has lived in a dark and heavy places of isolation, separation and grief and known great loss and pain, awakening at 17 when an accident nearly took me out and stole from me that last semester of my final year at school.  Talking with my therapist a few days ago I spoke of how it felt like at that age a tear appeared in the fabric of the earthly reality and a dark hand reached up to grab me and take me down into the Underworld.  That was just the initial event of many traumatic experiences that unfolded spanning the years from age 17 to 31 when I finally got sober and arrested my active addiction in 1993.

The light returned for a time, then, when I met my ex husband.  We had some happy years of normality as we built a life together but in time the darkness of my unresolved past claimed me.  As I look back I wish I could have made other choices.  I wish I could have remained tethered in the daylight world and gone on to share a life with my husband but it all got torn apart around this time of year and so my sad regretful self is very, very strong some days.   I find myself captured by thoughts of what could have been were we able to build a new life in Cambridge.  I know its useless to regret the past in that regretting solves nothing.

Maybe too, as my therapist says, my ex husband wasn’t a proper life partner for me, maybe it was all ‘meant to be’.  That kind of shift of perspective can make my heart less heavy as I realise that I can be grateful for the time we did have together but also recognise there was a deeper layer to me than could ever truly find a home in that relationship.  And that I had an inner destiny calling me within that had not only a personal but a collective purpose.

As I shared in an earlier post Mercury, planet ruling perception, mind, communication and journeys turned backwards for a glance on Sunday, the 11th and it is not quite on my Pluto/Persephone in the first house, but nearly!  So I am looking back at all the changes and endings that led to now and this new beginning.

I read a very insightful chapter in a book on the Goddesses in Everywoman many years ago and in the chapter on the Persephone woman I found myself.  The Persephone woman’s life journey takes her to the Underworld either through emotional abandonment, depression, abuse, trauma or addiction.  There she lives out the dark side, perhaps sharing a strong connection to the ancestors.  I have Pluto Moon and in her book on that subject, astrologer Judy Hall tells the stories of several Plutonian Moon people, John Lennon was one.  He wasn’t a woman but the early abandonment of his mother left him with wounds.  The other family profiled in that book with a strong Pluto/Persephone signature was the Bronte family.   Several of the Brontes died young and there was mother loss that dogged them all, most especially the younger brother.  The dark heart of Pluto Moon is present in several of the sister Bronte’s books which touch on obsessive love and mental suffering and trauma experienced in and through relationships (Moon) with the traumatised (Pluto).

For myself I feel the heavy blackness at times.  Kat and I were going over the years of my life that led to my oldest sister’s first suicide attempt in 1982, yesterday.  It was such a hard year in my life anyway in other ways.  Following my accident and an aborted attempt to embark on studies up North I returned home to live in hopes of finishing my teaching degree. Instead Dad forced me to go to secretarial college.  As Kat said to me yesterday : “That just wasn’t you”.  I told her that it was as boring as hell and that we had type in triplicate with two carbon papers only being allowed two mistakes a page.  No tippex and no computer autocorrect.  That year my drug taking and alcoholism really escalated.

In later years one smart arse said to me “why didn’t you tell your Dad to stick it up his jumper!”.  That wasn’t done and in any case I didn’t have means to support myself on the back of my accident.   Anyway it was that year my sister’s husband returned her home to us with a one way ticket and one blue tracksuit with a beaten up old case for what she believed was a two week holiday.  He just disappeared and there was no return ticket.  Her four boys were with him.  Suicide attempt in that dark front room at the start of the  hallway, dark, dark emptiness descends like a shroud, laying all joy to waste!   A few years later my father’s illness grew and he was taken, leaving us alone.

Early on I learned relationships were dangerous. Life was unsafe.  Today when I woke up I just lay there and repeated to myself over and over again.   “You are safe, you are loved.”  Trauma repeat on any waking up and coming to consciousness tells me otherwise!  It tells me without words but with body symptoms “you are about to die, or be killed! Or something is about to be stolen.” (As it always is, I guess, as life goes on!)

Death is really rearing its head in therapy lately and coming up a lot (Mercury on Pluto in the first house makes sense!).  In the absence of outside forces collecting to cut me down or kill me I can then internalise the killer within in the form of a nasty anti life critic mean saboteur grim reaper who cuts all life, all joy, all promise, all hope, all faith off.   That is when I find myself once again deep in Hades/Underworld or the inner place of shades with a traumatised Erishkegal crying over and over and over again “Woe to me, woe to my insides. All is black, all is helpless, all is fucked death is stronger than life.  I cannot make it!” (Black side of black/white thinking?)

And yet another part of me knows that this is also not the entire reality of the life that I can have and live to embrace.  There is also happiness that is there when I choose to say to that Underworld place : “No! I have done enough time here now!  Now please, will you let me reach for life, for light, for love, for promise, for joy, for hope?  Please don’t kill me off any more.  Please today let me live free and dance through the fields with Jasper.”

Today I beginning to feel that I can actually make a choice but you know moments before writing this and articulating all of this I felt that I was sucked back so far down in the darkness again and literally could not move  This feeling followed a conversation with my Mum after which I absorbed all her sadness and tiredness.  I came off the phone crying because yesterday a put a schism between us due to my abandonment wound arking up.  She didn’t respond with empathy and then I think on some level that just made us both sad.  Today she sounded so very, very tired and then I thought of how at times I almost feel my psychic energy body is reading or mirroring hers which would be another manifestation of strong Pluto Moon, a very strong psychic connection not only with my mother but with the mother line.

Lucky for me I can use perception, my mind and astrological signatures and archetypes to make sense of this ‘stuff’.   When it has its hooks in me though its a different story,  I am sucked on by the psychic/soup/fog of which I am not fully conscious.

I started this blog to speak about my sad self and to explain how that is not the entirety of me.  I have a happy self too, one that can live in the present moment and positive life energy.  I just have to become aware when the darker, heavier, sadder side is gaining hold, feeling my way into it, connecting with it, but not allowing it to fully possess me is a skill I am finally learning.   I want to be able to be and express from both sides for Persephone never lived the entire time in the Underworld. In spring she returned to upside world again with gifts to give and dark knowledge she earned having eaten and tasted the fruit of suffering of Hades/Pluto fruit, the pomegranate.  She can give then to those who also voyage or get trapped in the Underworld too.  She can affirm that they are not lying or mixed up about that place, that it is real and does exist and is not just some form of aberration that so called saner souls can say is ‘madness’ or ‘insanity’, rather it is like a scar or birthmark that permanently marks the souls of some of us.

Like Innana (another Persephone woman), the recovering Persephone becomes able to travel down to meet the ailing, grieving, inconsolable, wounded, flawed, disturbed and sorrowing, hungering side of others or of ourselves.  Through empathy and compassion (and self compassion ) she develops the resilience to be deeply present with others or herself, for a while, holding their/our hand and saying “woe is you and woe to your insides”.  She can do this with patience and forebearance just long enough for her  Underworld sister Erishkegal’s suffering to be soothed, mirrored, contained and transformed.  And then Innana finally becomes free, free to return once again, for a time to earth, to light, to spring, to sunshine, to hope, to trust, to love at least until the next descent or call is heard.

Unification and separation : Some thoughts and reflections on life, separation and loss

I have a great desire to unify what has been separated.  I am beginning to see it comes out of deep experiences of loss and disconnection I went through, losses that happened to me, things that didn’t work out as I hoped or were stolen or taken (my first boyfriend for example in my young adolescence by my ‘best friend’).   I know so well what is it to lose, what it is to not have things work out, not come together to the degree that at times I feel when things have been coming together for me a deeply unconscious force tore them apart.  On an astrological/archetypal theme this relates to my ruling planet Uranus which governs all my personal planets Sun and Moon to Saturn and Jupiter and Uranus is in Leo in the first house the sign of individualism and creative self expression as well as positive self esteem.

Uranus first house people know what it is to be set apart.  We are not joiners, we are the iconoclasts, eccentric loners and rebels, bringers of insight.  However on some level I long to be joined with all my seventh house relationship planets and sometimes I try to join too much because being set apart and alone is such a deeply painful reminder of deep alone times from childhood and those most painful years from age 17 t0 29 when I lost so much, so much was broken apart and I want far away over the other side of the world after my father’s death alone, carrying all the deep trauma of 17 to 23 and drinking it down.

Last night this was reflected in a dream.  I was on a bus with a group of adolescents.  The bus stopped in a strange new location, a sweet town that I explored and come to love but I just didn’t know the name of it.  Some how I managed to call someone who told me it was called Eden.  Which is very interesting because Eden is actually a remote town on the far south coast of New South Wales in Australia.  The place became less lovely when I knew how isolated it was upon awakening and the town of Eden is really nothing like the cosy inner country location of my dream, but there a deep things to adjust my attitude towards in this matter.

This morning when I awoke I remembered the urge I had to unify as the fourth child which in family system carries the neglected unifying needs of the dismembered emotionally bereft family.  I wanted to ring my sister as last week there was a death in her older son’s family and I thought she and my mother and I could get together for lunch after we go to pick up my car from the repairer.  My sister could not come as she does dragon boating following her breast cancer.  When we were chatting she said to me “Did Mum tell you that Martin died?”.  “Yes”, I said.  My sister did not make it to the funeral as they live in a remote location on the South Coast (? woah just realised that when I typed those words) and it would have taken two days to get there.  So once again my sister could not be unified with her family at an event which was a trigger for an earlier loss and maybe it was for the best or maybe not.  The old quandary to unify (be present and connected) or to divide (to be left alone as sad things go down to have your own space but not connection much). And part of me felt sad I didn’t call my sister again to find out the progress last week (I had hoped she may let me know) but it is okay that I did not call either what was going down concerns them, but it connects too to my old loss.

My sister was sad not to make the lunch.  My attempt to unify us for a few hours didn’t work out, but I know on some level we are unified by the things we went through all those years ago but never speak of, yet each carry the silent pain of in our hearts.  My sister’s daughter in law is about the age my sister was when my father died in 1985.

After I got off the phone I thought of this deep desire I have had to unify us all, the childlike illusion that one day we will all come together and grieve but adult life is not really like that.  I went far away after Dad died and drank down the grief for over 14 years until sobriety began to unearth it for me in 1999.  My grieving for my father was thwarted earlier and my return to Australia in 2001 with my ex husband was in the hope I could feel and resolve it here but there were so many hurdles to jump over and barriers along the way.  When my godfather (who was a better emotionally present father to me than my own father ever was) died in 2003 I got to open that Pandora’s box of grief and complex feelings I hold deep inside about my father that was closed.  At other funerals of fathers of friends I have managed to unpack more of the grief and now it doesn’t overwhelm me in the form of depression as much. It is just there deep inside my heart below the level of consciousness until triggers bring it up.

Which is why it meant so much to me to be contacted by my second cousin yesterday.  He is the grandson of my father’s lovely sister Aunty Leis.  Dad left his young sister behind when he left Holland in 1938.  I finally got to meet her in 2001 when all the grief for Dad was bursting open.  I cried all day after the visit as she sat there with her Dutch rice tart and showed me all the family photos she had of our family.  I realised she longed for us in the same way I long for a connection with my sister’s children and grandchildren but we were divided off both by the distance and by my Dads’ deep aversion to returning to what he saw as a limited confined country.  We kids never got to have that connection with our Aunties.  I did form that connection with Lies following 2001.  When my marriage ended she was the one person who showed empathy and wanted me to come to live with her after the accident that broke my head open.  I could not do it.  I stayed in the UK.

I will always be so grateful for that all too brief visit to Aunty Lies which come to think of it occurred on the 20th of May WOW!!! so close in time to this, ancestral psyche is powerful!!!  It opened my heart to so much and I remember her with such fondness and affection.  I lost my Dad in 1985 but part of him was always lost to me and maybe even to himself.  I had the father fate chose for me and things he did to me hurt me a lot a times, while I know he loved me.  I am not sure where this post goes from here.  I remember it started with my thoughts on my deep desire to unify what has been torn apart.  Maybe that is what deep inner work is though a re-membering the scattered fragments of Osirus as in the myth, the torn apart ancestral fragments of connection that dog us into the present, ghosts of feelings and tendrils dying to be known and woven forward into a new pattern.

Today Mum and I will go to lunch alone, we are the survivors of one section of a far larger story playing out over time, I carry more of my father’s ancestral issues though.   We each have our memories, we have our times of connection, both fraught and gentle and our times of painful and pleasant separation too.  And it is surely true that the task of becoming a true adult means finding all the ways we can to survive and thrive, even amidst great heartache and loss.  It is to be able to bear the pain and joy, the agony and ecstasy of each, not wishing for fate to be different but honouring it and bringing as much consciousness as we can to bear upon it with as much good grace as we can muster after all the losses, tearing aparts, disappointments, storms, rages and tears have passed.

 

A Band Around My Heart

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Today earlier after dropping my car off to be repaired and getting the bus to my Mum’s so I could borrow hers for a few days I started to feel this tight band around my heart.  We spoke of things others in the family share with her, they don’t share with me these kind of being cared for experiences by their siblings but when all this was being shared I was conscious of this tightness and then tears.  No words, no stories, just deep disappointment, sadness and a pain in my heart.

I never hear much from my sister who is living about what is really going on either and most especially after I tried to connect with her late last week.  It turns out my nephew’s wife’s father died sometime over the weekend.  I had spoken to my sister expressing my care and concern.  Mum only mentioned it remotely in passing.  I come from a FUCKING WIERD FAMILY!!!  Or MAYBE I DONT.  MAYBE THIS IS HOW FAMILIES ARE : Great emotional distances, little connection especially over the most important things.  Or I could be being very self centred and selfish because they are probably just caught up in so much grief, grief which mirrors older grief and is triggering such deep, deep grief for me around persistent disconnection which ends up making me feel lonelier than when I am really alone with either my dog or my higher power or others who are actually open hearted rather than shut down and stitched up.

Add to this I am still struggling to accept I have to have my tooth out. I am struggling with resentment toward my Mum, even though now she has offered to give me all the support in the world to help as I go through the procedure (when, I don’t know as I have to get a referral tomorrow!).

Perhaps I need to speak to Mum about what is going on in my heart. On Saturday when all my abandonment and trauma pain was going on I wanted to leave a message on her phone giving her a serve.  I thought better of it.  And I recall a quote that says I spoke my anger to a friend and my anger had an end.  In the past anger has just erupted out of me.  I haven’t spoken it cleanly and clearly. And it occurs to me that I can express anger with love and that my words would have more power and strength if that power of anger was harnessed in a more productive way that just scatter gun rage blowing at a target!

Truth is as a child and young teenager things my Mum and Dad and family did REALLY, REALLY HURT ME, deeply. I didn’t feel seen and I didn’t feel held in mind.  I feel the same things would not have happened in this day and age.  My opinion as a child may have been consulted.  It is very important to me now that I have a voice, that I am not ridden rough shod over by others, that others don’t force their will and agenda on to me.  However sometimes in my quest for power, protection and control I just go off and become silent and try to cope alone instead of unburdening what is in my heart because its too much to take risk.  It is then I feel the tight band around my heart, squashing all the pain down deep inside, not allowing me to cough it up and spit it out.

The best process for me currently though is for my inner child to speak to my adult self about the pain I went through all of those years ago, about how it was for her and how, when my adult self isn’t aware or present that old pattern can replay.  The adult me needs to hear it so we can look for a way to take care of the child in the midst of what is painful, so that she feels safe, held and cared for.  Others will not always give this to me.   They may have had to block their own pain, or they may have been feeling guilt or shame and so get defensive if I bring up mine.

One thing is for sure though.  The tight band reminds me all the time of the cost of not nurturing my heart or paying kind attention to what triggers.   I may need to feel and free the tears that need to fall but may not if my mind or stories are blocking those deeper feelings from being expressed.  Fact is that I had so many experiences of being overpowered on a bodily experience level when young that I felt I had lost all power.  This issue was highlighted last week when I chose a novel from the library about a teenage girl who was raped and had another’s will forced upon her.  She had to feel the painful consequences of that, of knowing that at times the world and others can disempower or overwhelm us.   How to take control in this situation, when all control has been stolen?  How to deal with the rage and anger that is left in a way that doesn’t destroy what precious connections remain?   This is just such a huge issue for those of us who suffer Post Traumatic Stress distress, it what I have been grappling with for years and now wish I could let go in some way, but it still hurts, the reality hurt a lot!

An agent of destruction

My godmother died yesterday.  Her death has provoked so many memories.  In the later years of her life we were estranged after years in which she and my godfather tried to support me at times when my emotionally unavailable parents failed to.  It was with her I lived for a short time after returning to Australia to live a few years after my father died.  As I look back to that time I see the deep, deep pain my young adult self was in and the wreckage she had already begun to live at that state at the age of 25 in the early stages of my alcoholism.  I was hungry and empty and longing for love and a present family and parents and my god parents gave me some of this.  However, emotionally it was my godfather, Piet who really saw into the depths of me and validated why I needed to turn to alcohol in the family I grew up in, he gave me the missing love and understanding I never got from my father.

Piet left Holland in 1938 with my father and they both went to the Dutch East Indies and he told me in later years of my father’s relentless dream to become a millionaire, in later years he did not see my father as much as Uncle Piet was only ever a ‘lowly’ mechanic and I loved him so much for that and use the word ‘lowly’ to describe how society might view a person who was more real than real and had a heart of gold and who I admire more than any millionaire in the world.

My godfather was the soft emotional one, my godmother was harder having had a very tough childhood and having lost a brother to suicide at a young age, she had to bury her pain under a lot of stoicism and philosophy.  In later years she turned to yoga to find peace but there was always a hardness in her and she shut down in later years and had my godfather diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when really it was just the pain of his own deep childhood abandonment having lost a mother very young that came to the surface and began to manifest in anger and clinging.

Anyway the story of my connection to them both would take many pages, and in the later years we were less connected especially after Piet died in 2003 and my marriage broke up the following year.

In the later years my quest for love took me into a very dysfunctional relationship and it was to my godmother that I turned in 2011 when that relationship finally hit the wall all around the anniversary of my father’s death.  My emotional wounds and inner child’s emotional abandonment was so close to the surface and I ran to Sydney and away from my home town after a fight with my Mum when she callously mocked me for grieving.  My godmother took me in but she didn’t understand any of the emotional side of what I was going through and so, at that time and I must say in a lot of pain, I turned to internet dating thinking that if only I could find another man to love me everything would be okay. I now see the fallacy of that, my real inner work had to begin with the ending of that relationship in 2010.  My godmother turned on me one day and said I had to leave her place the next day, as her grandson was coming and that was not true as she had a spare bed and room for both of us.  I was distraught and ended up moving to a boarding house and then into a share house with an abusive alcoholic before finally returning to my home town 6 months later.  It was hard to forgive my godmother for not supporting me at the time I most needed it but I don’t resent her for it as much any more, it was what she felt she needed to do and what she did put me in a deeply painful place .  For some time I turned towards more dysfunction as a result.  Now I see that then I was on the brink of my deepest wound and emotional work in recovery, emotionally I needed to take care of myself but that would take some time and a lot more realisation to happen.

Death of someone is very final but I guess it is not the end of the relationship we had with them that lives on in our inner life and soul.  I spoke to my godmother last night in my soul and shared with her the tears and pain of how hard it was to be abandoned emotionally again by the one person I hoped to trust, but while my tears fell I saw she did the best she could from her level of consciousness.  Speaking to her daughter a moment ago and hearing how she suffered at my godmother’ s hands from her harshness and emotional shut down confirmed so much for me.  It was that generation’s way of coping and my godmother shut down on so much, so of course she had to shut me out and send me away into the wilderness, that was all part of my journey.

My godmother and my mother were best friends. I feel so deeply for my Mum today.  She has lost her best friend after 70 years of friendship and today she has responsibilities due to the debacle with the property we bought at auction to deal with on the back of her grief.  I started this post with the heading An Agent of Destruction because sharing about all this with my therapist this morning that is how I feel.  I feel bad due to what happened with my godmother, even though I was only seeking a place to protected and cared for, I feel so bad about what happened with the property even though that all happened too because I didn’t really have adequate protection and care from outside or inside.  I am not a destroyer and I am not bad, but that is how it sometimes feels.

I was reading something about blame, struggle, grief and suffering in a book by Buddhist Teacher Londro Rinzler last night in which a student had gone to a Zen teacher crying over all of their heart break and saying to the Rishi “Why, why, why”, the teacher looked at him and just said “no reason”.  That really made me realise how much we make up about the reasons why something happened, how habituated and conditioned we are to look for someone to blame at times (most often ourselves) and how often we cause so much further suffering by not just sitting still and feeling what we need to feel and letting go into and learning, but insteaed thinking, thinking, thinking and questioning in such as way as we get tied up in knots and experience even more the suffering of suffering.

Do we need to create more suffering by the way we react to our suffering?  Is there a point where we can let others off the hook?  Can we also understand that at times there are reasons but the reasons we make up are off base and don’t have to focus on projections of badness and blame?  Are there ways we can show each other more tenderness, mercy and compassion.  These I feel are such important questions to ponder and amidst them they allow me to enter my heart and be with my own and other’s suffering in a way that doesn’t end up creating more suffering through judgement.

 

 

Perhaps the deepest things

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Some realisations today :  perhaps sometimes the deepest things cannot be said, they need to be felt.

Sometimes revelations come in silence after the deep pools of presence in your puppy’s eyes open you to depths of soul and insights that dawn upon you like a rising sun, flooding everything.

I realised that I associate movement with death, which is so sad.  I associate moving house with deep losses of connection and perhaps that shadow tone of feeling casts clouds over new moments when moving forward is possible.  There is a deep fear of loss that dogs me which is more about past than present.  And maybe death is really present too, in every moment of life.

Saturday close to Dad’s birthday reminds me of the party that never came due to my accident.  And the movement to the Mugga Way house of all the loss, endings and loneliness that followed that is carried in my soul below consciousness.

Today as I had a peaceful moment on the park bench reading about mindfulness I was reminded to stay out of too much thinking, and to focus on the breath for often the shift to mind happens and can obliterate deeper insights and felt truths from arising.

A fellow blogger today posted a quote by Lao Tzu that Carl Jung often referred to which says “he who knows does not speak, he who speaks does not know!”  There is some deep truth in that.   Sometimes we send up a cacophony of words that say little and hide deep within them a kernel of a far deeper truth that remains spoken.  Bless you Vapor Sage.