It wasn’t my fault!

Kat assured me in therapy today after reading everything out my sister’s struggles are not my fault. In 2005 I expressed anger at invalidation and ran to be in a better place but my sister blaming me later for her breakdown was not fair. It was like her saying to me ‘you always were a naughty child’ when I fought for my emotional truth. She assured me nothing I can do can fix my sister but keeping in touch is good as long as I detach from the illusion I can save anyone. Phew. She also said she thought it has been mean of my nephews not to acknowledge or include me. I cried when she said that to me.

We spoke alot about how the family victimises the alive one..they get abused and scorned or shamed and laughed at..dismantled psychologically. But they carry what the shut down dead family needs. Coming alive feels like dying cause of the fear that if we take the risk punishment or annihilation will happen so we turn against our True self too…so so sad but hard to see how this happens especially as a younger one in a family geared around narcissism.

I sat with my head in my hands at Kats earlier while the inner storm went on and said I don’t know how I’ve survived the emotional confusion. I am not ‘bad as they tried to say I am.

All of this is such a relief. Like busting out of a prison created in my own mind. There is more to share but for now I just wanted to post this as I eat my lunch awake and alive surrounded by other humans in the shopping centre..no.longer all alone in the cold dark place where a grey heavy loveless energy hovers over me threatening death.

Thomas Moore : on clearing space for soul during a dark night

It helps to clear out the theories and dogmas you picked up from your family, school. and religious upbringing. To be an independent and mature adult, you may have to dump all kinds of things that get in the way. Then your thoughts and judgments become leaner and clearer. You realize that much of what has preoccupied you is not essential. You can live happily and sensuously in this rich and promising world without getting caught up in many of its dehumanizing values and empty distractions.

“It has occurred to me (that) perhaps what we call depression isn’t really a disorder at all but, like physical pain, an alarm of sorts, alerting us to something that is undoubtedly wrong; that perhaps it is time to stop, take a time out, take as long as it takes, and attend to the unaddressed business of filling our souls.” (this quote is from writer, Lee Stringer.)

Here is a key idea : stop thinking of your dark nights as problems and begin to see them as opportunities for change.

A spiritual existence requires constant cleansing; because the spirit by nature is less involved in day to day issues and more focused on the core, the universal, the eternal. The soul should be stuffed with issues and relationships, and even problems, but it needs a degree of regular thinning, a process that can be a fruit of the dark night.

Thomas Moore

It hurts

Feeling blue

My heart goes out to you

Pain in my chest

Hard to rest

Knowing you feel lost again

There are no longer any ideas here

About what is right or wrong

Because the truth is I do not know

Any more

All I know is that

It hurts

Sometimes I feel we are cursed

By an age old wound

That festered

I try my best

To keep keeping everything

Under control

But deep down inside I know

There is no way to really say

The absolute truth of what it is

My heart feels for you

You struggle so very hard to stay alive

That now to feel you sinking

Hurts me so

And I am really all out of words

Because deep in my heart I know

This pain you carry

Has no resolution

Will never ever ever

Completely

Go away

Opening through embracing our burdens and emptiness.

When the burdens of the world weight heavily, I must remind myself there is a stillpoint inside where everything can be okay if I allow it to be and affect only the change that is needed.. At times it is so hard to even know what that can be, maybe it is a change of heart or thinking that may help, or a letting go and letting be. Maybe it is an allowing of others to have their own way and opinions even if I don’t agree, and maybe its a trying to see deeper behind the cries that speak of an emptiness, soul longing or longing for love in ourselves and others and holding them tenderly.

Some people have a void in them that may never be filled.. I have read that if we can allow ourselves the void space in time we find something within the emptiness to help us heal… I have experienced this.. I have had some dreadfully low points in my life when I did not think I could go on, there was my father’s cancer diagnosis and my own which was prefigured by a nightmare in which a hand reached deep into my belly and twisted it around…that in a way was how it felt as a child in my family when I was given enemas for a stomach ache that spoke of longing to be with someone who cared.

I was very emotional today and I went out to get lunch and when I came home it was lovely for Jasper to run to greet me and to give him my full attention…I just sat for a while on the floor with my hands on his belly and felt his beautiful puppiness.. even though he is soon 8 years old Jasper still is like a puppy so much of the time in his high energy, curiosity and boundless enthusiasm…I am so grateful for him at times as he reminds me how open and full of love and enthusiasm I was as a child before I found the world to be so inhospitable, cold and strange and witnessed the heartbreak of traumas in my own life and family… Now as an adult that I have found some kind of way to live in the world through embracing my inner world and being truer to me that feeling is still there sometimes but it doesn’t cause me as much pain as long as I know there are others to connect with in love..

I ordered Henri Nouwen’s book on the Beloved and it arrived yesterday and in that he speaks of the need we have to be ‘blessed’, to be made to feel special and needed and beloved by God and others. he speaks of a prayer meeting in which a group of disabled people asked for such a blessing and how he cuddled them. If you don’t know Henri Nouwen suffered a deep depression for many years and wrote extensively about feeling homeless in the world, in his book The Inner Voice Of Love he touches on the heart of all of us who ever felt we didn’t belong in this world that seemingly makes us feel so broken.. A lot of what he writes shows we feel more broken trying to gain affirmation from outside, that said I feel as kids we need this kind of mirroring and are left with holes or psychic tears in its absence.. some of us turn to nature and angels and otherworldly sources and feel held there.

When despair arises its good to have an inner place to go with it.. its good to be able to hold ourselves in the midst of it and reach deep to find that place inside that is okay, that cannot be touched by temporal things. Mystics speak of this place and its hard to describe but many of us know it.. in this place we can bless everything that happens, seeing it all as part of the path and knowing that even when life seems like it will break us somehow we manage to find the way to go on..

Not all of us manage this and it might be naive to think that we do, but I imagine even those who decide to check out find their place of healing too on the other side, for love is unconditional in truth no matter what we have lived, is only humans that believe in retribution rather than soul learning through trial and error. And when the world becomes too painful without the necessary love, understanding, support or self forgiveness some find it too painful to go on. Others of us move through that place over years of inner work and processing, emerging in time to find and embrace new life again. There then comes a time when we realise that somewhere deep inside of us, despite everything outside being at times so far out of control, things really are and always will be okay.

Carrying the dark night

Wow, my eyes are full of tears right now, good tears.. I just got a beautiful comment on a poem I wrote this week that really spoke to me : ’emerging but carrying the weight of the dark night as a valuable treasure..’ That comment was so affirming and it made me realise how much value there is in the dark night journey as well as in honesty…

Last night as I was lying in bed crying over the past and the emotional black hole in my family and someone who messages me from overseas said to me ‘don’t cry, It’s a waste of time.’ I just said this : ‘actually I find supreme value in tears, to me they speak of an emotional truth”. There is also something that analyst and story teller Clarissa Pinkoles Estes talks about in the myth of The Handless Maiden, in that chapter of her book Women Who Run With the Wolves she says “tears soften the soul and keep away the predator.”

Have you ever noticed that there is something calcified and almost demonic about people who cannot cry deeply nor acknowledge you when you do, or even worse, treat you as if there is something wrong with you for having an emotional reaction or crying?” To me, tears come from the soul, in fact I just opened up a book in which I sometime jot down poems to find these written down from somewhere : ‘tears, the soul’s rain shower!’

I do believe that tears come from the soul and from love as well as the hollow pit of utter emptiness from which the soul cries out trying to make its need for love known in it echoing absence as well as bear testament to an emotional truth.. I wish we would mine our tears more to be honest.. I wish there was a literacy around tears, permission to have them.. To me tears act as a release.. A beautiful follower of mine, Mark always says “I feel so much better after a good cry ; snotty nose!” I am not saying that we should all sit around crying all of the time, and there is a time to look for the blessings in things going wrong, emotional pain and challenges or things getting stolen or lost. There is also time to take ourselves by the hand after we have been feeling sad and find ways to lighten up and bring some fun and joy into our lives but we can also find the gifts present in the darker times…

I think of all of the beautiful songs and poems that come out of sadness, heartbreak and sorrow, I also think of those songs that have the power to uplift us spiritually and speak to our soul in the depths.. Listening to the blues or someone like Eva Cassidy helps me to move through sadder feelings or come to terms with things not working out…there is a time just to let the soul ache and release the heartbreak so that we can use it to move on through and power our next phase of the journey…

I am back in a deep dip at the moment to be honest.. This time of year corresponds with a very painful and dark time for me when I fell pregnant and had to have the baby terminated due to a health issue…it also coincided with a break up and a time of betrayal at the hands of the person I was involved with then.. That said I was also bringing darkness on me by drinking too much and taking drugs and it would only be three years later that the final years of my active drinking and drugging would occur… I still had so many years left to work through my pain… I can never not forget that time on a deeply unconscious bodily level as the air turns heavier and darker with the slow approach of winter…I feel the great darkness of the years 1980 to 2011 when I finally moved home and began the necessary inner psychological work to make it conscious.

I have known great darkness and it will always be a part of me.. but as that reader acknowledged my blog must show that I do carry it now more as a gift than a curse….I can not ever live completely on the light side of life. In astrological terms I am far too Plutonian for that with the planet of the Underworld in my first house of soul identity and connected to my Moon Saturn Mars and Chiron. I got sober in 1993 when that configuration was triggered by a Pluto transit.. Mars is hitting it now and will be for the next few weeks…. so in some way I have to go with Underworld pull when its summons me leaving part of myself above ground as an observer, available to throw my soul a life line should I need it to come back up to the light, daylight world should things get too heavy..

Before this time the Underworld used to claim my soul completely. As a Persephone woman I identify with the dark themes of loss, pain, grief and feelings of being overpowered by stronger more willful souls. Yes I know the Underworld.. I just sometimes don’t feel that comfortable with the pull, especially in a world that sees the Underworld sojourner as a bit of a threat or danger… Robert Hand says of first house Pluto people.. people love you deeply or are scared to death of you, seeing you as a threat….its not an easy energy to carry at times, but if we want to manage in life we have to find some kind of way to carry that energy in a positive way.. encouraging others to not feel so strange or exiled or alone if they do too.

It helps me a bit to articulate these energies when they become strong.. It makes me feel less alone at those times I feel pulled on by things that hurt or remind me of the burden of the past… I will be grateful too, for a therapy call this afternoon… dark things and feelings needs to be given air time and I will always be grateful to those willing to listen and extend an open heart and hand when I go through one of my dark phases.

Despair

Ground down under the weight of this

I struggle for air

People tell me not to care

About things that break my heart

Believe me

I do know there is a way out

A way to see sometimes

The possibility of life

But sometimes I just fall into

The deepest place of despair

I wish there was a way somehow

To feel the light

When all goes dark

To find the spark again

But today all I see

Are ancestral corpses littered all around

Sensing how the weight of that

So easily drags me down

Are these all just phantoms in my mind

Convincing me there is no way

To be kind to myself?

Who is it that blocks this light

From entering my soul

During these times of dark dark night

When there is no respite anywhere

From being smothered

Under the suffocating blanket

Of despair

The spirit in us

The spirit in us may

Sometime be weighted down by care

May feel its silent wings fluttering

Never the less

In silent anticipation of flight

And yet the soul in us may have a larger say

Knowing the necessity of those times

We struggle

With our feet submerged

Feeling as though fashioned of clay

For we are often

Perched

Betwixt and between

The two dimensions

Of death and of living

And at times our silent hungers rage

Like beasts too long forgotten

In a hidden cage

While our silent heart weeps tears

For the remembering

Of all that once gave to it

Hope

And joy

And ecstasy

Before the slings of outrageous fortune

Cut deep into the roots of our wings

Like knives

Eclipsing spiritual hope

And yet out spirit still sounds out its note

And our soul will never allow it to be

Perpetually silenced

Depression is necessary when we are healing our childhood wounds.

I have been reading my way back through Pete Walker’s book on Complext PTSD over the past day and finding it really mirrors and reflects my own experience. He talks a lot about abandonment depression which is a legacy of not being ‘met’ emotionally by our parents or caregivers. This leaves a wound within us, we do not get to grow a healthy ego as a director of our feelings and helping us to manage them in response to others and negotiate for our own real needs and feeling in life which are bodily and soul based. We live with those wounds inside and they can rise up.

Walker talks a lot in his book about the 4F reactions to early trauma and I have addressed this in other posts a few years ago (see below) When we get into recovery these are present as anxiety and fear and they drive our reactions and contribute to our state of depression, especially if we have not been able to get angry or grieve for the loss of our true self in childhood. Therefore on the way out of healing from emotional or physical betrayal or abandonment we have to feel what we could not feel as a child, which is painful and something Presence Process advocate Michael Brown addresses at length in his book of the same name. But we also have defences which rise up as the four (4) F responses.

According to Walker four responses to trauma are fight, flight, freeze or fawn. You can read about them in more detail in his book which I highly recommend. He also outlines there the cycle of reactivity which involves bodily sensations, inner critic attacks, attempts at running over or away and or attacking others or deflecting and defending (which may be a healthy protest response to invalidation or further emotional abuse).

There is a very enlightening section in Walkers book which talks of a client Mario who arrives at a session with Walker in a heightened state of reactivity. Simmering below the surface of all of Mario’s reactions are the feelings of grief and shame that fuel this feelings and drive his inner critical attacks. All of us who suffer from childhood trauma carry some level of this grief, fear and shame. We continue to shame ourselves as our parents did and this causes us to feel depressed and we get lost all the time in self reinforcing loops of trauma and criticism, fear, flight, fight, fawn or freeze recycing. Until we can fight our way out of the shame not by attacking or defending but by sitting with the very real buried feelings and processing them in order to release them then we do not get far with breaking out of the reactivity cycle.

Dissociation as many of us know is a huge part of childhood trauma. In order to survive we often had to go off somewhere, we became fearful of our bodies which contained the uncomfortable cocktail of emotions buried inside that parents left us with or dumped into us when they offered us no help with managing our feelings. As Walker points out, many of our parents would not let us use our anger and tears to liberate us from the traumatic experiences or protest unfair or abusive treatment. In recovery the internalised critic will often shame or fill us with fear for getting angry or crying. But what is most needed for recovery is to contain and feel in our bodies the feelings of anger and sadness and associated shame. This is why I believe that medicating feelings and resorting to the belief that depression is a result of biochemical imbalance is not very helpful when it comes down to healing childhood trauma.

John Bradshaw often writes that grieving is the healing feeling. Depression can often be a refused call to grief for what we lost the way to. Depression is not just a pathological condition and Walker argues eloquently that it needs to be understood as essential to experience along the path of healing our traumatised inner child and getting into the present with what WE TRUELY FELT AND NEED TO FEEL IN ORDER TO HEAL AND BECOME REAL.

Depression can be healed with mindfulness, rather than reactivity. What is needed to sit in presence with our hurt from the past when it is triggered into awareness in the present making associations back. This can initially be done in therapy with a therapist who can provide us with holding and containment to release our feelings and deal with and challenge inappropriate shame. However ideally it is something adult survivors learn to do with themselves now. We give our hurting child the love needed to heal, we don’t dump it on others, we take responsibility for our pain even though we did not cause it and often did nothing to provoke it.

Deep level recovery from childhood trauma requires a normalising of depression, a renunciation of the habit of reflexively reacting to it. Central to this is the development of a self compassionate mindfulness…. the practice of staying in (our) body.. the practice of staying fully present to all of your internal experience. (as well as) noticing he psyche’s powerful penchant to distract from these uncomfortable sensations.. over time the survivor will need to rescue himself from dissociation and gently bring back his awareness into fully feeling the sensations of his fear. Although sensations of fear sometimes feel unbearable at first, persistent focusing with non reactive attention dissolves and resolves them as if awareness itself is digesting and integrating them.

Pete Walker

On shame and trauma : the antidote is unconditional love

It was not my fault.jpg

Shame runs very deep for most traumatised people.  Profound self loathing (seeing yourself as disgusting, unlovable, worthless, useless, incompetent and hopeless) can even help you make meaning of traumatic life events and still survive in the world.  In experiencing shame you are incorporating the violations of your body, spirit and mind as if these acts provide indisputable evidence that you are inherently not good enough.  In other words, in feeling shame you become what was done to you.  You conduct your life with intense disgust directed at yourself.  Such inadvertent attempts to annihilate your essence can lead to suicide.  In shame, you only know yourself as the excrutiating pain and the complete aloneness.  Shame is the ultimate re-enactment of trauma.

The truth is that your essence is untouchable.  Your essence is beautiful, lovable, pure and precious… no matter what!!!

Learning to treat yourself with unconditional love, compassion and respect will take courage, tenacity and determination.  There is not a painless way to form new beliefs about yourself.  It takes heroism to learn and practice self – supporting skills in personal, social and vocational circumstances.  Ironically, you will probably feel very uncomfortable with being loving to yourself: you might well have a need to feel uncomfortable.

Your core theories involving shame are formed by traumatic circumstances, and these foundations need to be slowly and surely dismantled within the container of unconditional love and compassion for yourself.  Your discomfort can be observed, accepted, soothed and survived with the active and loving presence of your wise self.

You can learn to establish and maintain eye contact, to be present in the moment, to listen attentively to other people and respond accordingly.  You can be curious about everything and seek out wonderful experiences.

YOU ARE NOT THE SHAME YOU EXPERIENCE

Excerpt from Evolve with Trauma : Become Your Own Safe, Compassionate and Wise Friend.

 

Related link:  Freeing yourself and understanding self blame

http://www.new-synapse.com/aps/wordpress/?p=2572

 

(Image credit : Pinterest)