Understanding the Protector-Persecutor complex and its link to dissociation and child hood trauma

Being held hostage by an inner persectuor-protector figure in our inner world is common for those of us who were highly sensitive and suffered significant childhood trauma or insecure, anxious or broken attachments.  It is an issue dealt with comprehensively by Elaine Aron in her book  The Undervalued Self.  In chapter six of the book she outlines what this inner complex is and why it exists drawing on the work of psychological analyst Donald Kalsched. (See my previous post :

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/how-trauma-factures-the-psyche-causes-dissociation-and-create-the-persecutor-protector-in-our-psyche

The Persecutor-Protector needs to be understood and worked with by those of us who want to stop isolating in fantasy totally (not that we won’t still want to introvert which is important for the creative amongst us and for touching base with our inner world and life) and convincing ourselves we are not skilled or gifted enough to have a valuable contribution to make to the world.

I will open this post with a quote taken from Elaine’s book.

A protector-persecutor that arises from insecure attachment is often the harshest.  In these cases the protector may replace the missing maternal or paternal presence with an addiction, whether to smoking, alcohol, work, or something else.  Or it may create a vision of perfect love the child never received.  It encourages the unbearable craving and yearning while undermining or belittling things in the world that may actually satisfy some of the craving.  It says they are not enough, or not real, just lies or illusions, or will not work out in the long run.

Since attachment trauma often involves an unbearable separation, such as divorce or the death of a parent, the protector-persecutor very often rules out love because it brings the risk of loss, which, it supposes,  you cannot bear, as you could not when it happened before.  Until you work out your own answer to these scenarios, it’s impossible to convince the persecutor-protector that you can live with the pain of separations and loss, that you can tolerate in future what you could not in the past…..

(however) the good news is that as you struggle to accept the fact that all relationships eventually end, you may become far more prepared for loss than those who are secure because they had good childhoods.

When the persecutor-protector keeps you from being intimate with someone you love, do not give up.  Freeing yourself to love is perhaps one of the greatest challenges a person with a troubled past can face, and even a partial victory must be acknowledged for the triumph that it is.  Further, the undervalued self simply cannot be healed without finding some freedom to love.  It is linking and love that take you out of ranking and undervaluing.

The protector-persecutor either as a unit or in one of its two forms, tries to break down every link you make, both outer links with friends and inner links that would end the dissociation it wishes to maintain.  However, you can see why your attempts to dialogue with the innocent (inner child) might lead to mysterious resistance.

Emotions, memories, current thoughts and behaviours, and bodily states related to a trauma can all be dissociated.  Memories may be repressed, literally unlinked from consciousness.  Or your emotions may not be linked to current memories or events.  You may feel numb, lacking all emotion, or all too conscious of emotions that seem to arise for no reason. Your body may be unlinked from memories, so you remember the events of the trauma but have no idea what happened to your body during it.  Your body will still be dissociated from your thoughts, with the result that you are hardly aware of its needs.  Or the body does not link with your actions, and you feel unreal or detached as you go through the day….you do things that make no sense or are self destructive but your behaviour is not linked to its real causes.  You may have stress related illnesses because memories, feelings, or thoughts are pushed down in the mind then arise in the body.  Or you may have recurring nightmares that seem unrelated to anything going on in your life.

As for outer links the persecutor-protector makes every linking situation seem to be about ranking, usually with you as the inferior, although it can also make you feel superior – “he’s not good enough for me” – if that will keep you out of a real, close, lasting relationship.  The persecutor-protector might allow you to link in  a limited way with someone who likes you by creating a false self that adapts to the world, but you know you are not really connected or authentic.

Using examples from her real practice Aron shows how clients dreams often contain persecutor figures and details the means it uses to break links, just as the witch in the fairytale of Rapunzel tries to disconnect the prince from ever reaching Rapunzel in her tower by cutting off her long hair.   This occurs due the prevalence of earlier losses that were never fully integrated into conscious awareness and the fear of not being able to survive the feelings should it ever happen again.

We can work to become more aware of how the complex operates in our own lives.  Some of these are listed below and appear in Aron’s book and they correspond to some of the tactics avoidants or insecure people use to maintain distance or sabotage relationships with others:

  • When we are supercritical of the other, especially after times of connection.
  • When we over idealise to the degree that minor failures are blown out of proportion.
  • When we mistrust or don’t bother to get a reality check or talk things over
  • When you feel crushed if someone doesn’t want to be with you all the time.
  • When you look down on others for wanting to be with you more than you want to be with them.
  • When you decide “it’s all over” as soon as there is the slightest conflict.
  • When you are obsessed with concerns one of you is needy, dependent, or weak.
  • When you cannot stop thinking about the other leaving or betraying you or dying.
  • When you cannot see any flaw at all in the others, as if he or she is a god.

In addition Aron outlines some of the unconscious rules the persecutor-protector can use to keep us safe.

  • No intimacy.   Never open up about personal issues, ignore or belittle the disclosures of others, be flippant or rude, leave if someone wants to be closer
  • No arguing.   Always be nice, end relationships as soon as there is a whiff of conflict or if the other is angry, walk out on arguments (rather than asking for time out)
  • No growth.  Turn down opportunities or invitations to do anything new, do not aspire, act stupid so no one will think of you when an opportunity arises.
  • No dating or marriage.  Postpone, be unattractive, stick to crushes or fantasies, say with someone who isn’t good for you, have affairs with unavailable people, be forever young or flirty when it’s not necessary.
  • No strong feelings.  Stay in control at all times, don’t cry, get angry, be terminally cool.
  • No sex or enjoyment of it.  Avoid, be mechanical, split off, get numb with substances before hand, remove all emotion from sex.
  • No believing someone who say he or she cares about you.  Bat off compliments and expressions of caring and affection.  Don’t believe they are genuine.
  • No asking for help.  Be ruthlessly self sufficient, be suspicious, never complain, withdraw.
  • No honesty.   Just say what you think others want to hear.  Be careful with what you express especially when asked to be yourself.
  • No hope.   Don`t expect help, joy or good things.  Do not place faith in anyone.
  • No standing up for yourself.  Just let others say or do whatever they want, don’t cause trouble, don’t expect justice, respect or fairness.
  • No trusting.  Don’t be fooled; they don’t really care about you (a favourite thing the protector will say to you inwardly.)

As you can see its a pretty harsh joyless confined existence living with a strong persecutor protector complex inside of us, but we can work to understand these rules and challenge the p-p on them when it tries to use them to keep ourselves and others in line.

Your goal is to convince the p-p that breaking its rules and taking risks is working out for you and that you want more freedom…

Listen to its disagreements because ignoring it wont work according to Aron… the p-p needs to be heard but challenged to give up the limiting rules and restrictions it uses to keep you trapped.

 

 

A bit lost? : a meandering journey through family karma

I had a retrogressive day yesterday.  I was back in the hard to get dressed and out of the house deep introspective mode yesterday after talk in therapy on Tuesday I shared about yesterday around how my needs were not met.  And yet when I come to think of it its the same burden both my parents carried and was generational.  I seem to be carrying the end of the line abandonment trauma that goes generations back and all my siblings are carrying their own version of it.  I havent passed it on to any children as I decided not to have them and have chosen to do my inner work.  So why beat myself up like I did yesterday?

I think what triggered me was that I had once again tried to heal the pain in my Mum’s heart or at least soothe it in some way.  She shared that on Saturday she stayed in bed, a family friend tried to visit to give her flowers and she slept through their buzzing at the door, the friend called my sister who let her in and they were sitting on the edge of the bed when she woke up.  May I say this friend has so many abandonment issues herself which have manifested in schizophrenia in her daughter.   It reminds me that our wounds are not just ours and we are all reflectors, or birds of a feather flocking together.  Anyway the movie Shall We Dance was on television her on Friday night and Mum was sharing how she loves the scene where Richard Gere comes up the elevator with a rose for his wife and that made me realise how much Mum was missing Dad who loved to dance too and so I went out on Sunday to buy her the movie which I dropped around after therapy on Tuesday.

Mum kept up her front until just before I left when she broke down in tears about the pre dinner nausea she suffers sharing with me she dry retched before each dinner.  She has been on pain meds for over a year now and they are taking her toll.  I wish she had fucking therapy so she could cry the pain out of her body or body therapy where they could hold her as she has had to hold it all inside. That is the time of day she was left alone after her father died when she was 7 and Nana had to leave her to go out to work.  It breaks my heart but I didn’t cause it cannot control it and there is no way I can cure her soul burdens and losses for her,  I am just a witness and the carrier and I also suffer at that time of day.  As Kat and I discussed on Tuesday the inner child in me with her magical thinking cannot quite get it that she can’t help or fix any of this, she so desperately feels all that pain and tries to something, anything to help.

Anyway yesterday after phoning her to find a friend was taking her out I just started crying.  It’s such a burden for me to carry all this.  They were going to the Botanic Garden to have lunch on what is an elevated platform only later did it occur to me that just prior to this I had awoke from a dream in which I joined her and her best friend on a roof top looking out over a city.  Was I picking up psychically on this? As an empathic intuitive it seems my soul psyche is picking up all kinds of energy in the ether.

As an astrological aside both women are Scorpios, we are still in Scorpio time and that is death time and about deeper emotional wounds that go underground, both lost partners, both have schisms with family members.   I struggled with all of this yesterday and with my understanding of how I am some kind of conduit on some level.  Mum asked me to lunch with her and her friend but I couldn’t go.  Maybe if I had my day would have been better but I am still trying to find my independent life.  On some days I wonder if that is an illusion and if my karmic destiny isn’t in some way related to this, to bringing forward deeper understandings about an ancestral past that is trying to find resolution in me? I don’t yet know the answer,  I just have a lot of intuitions and questions.

Other heart concerns of yesterday : my oldest nephew`s wife has been trying to fall pregnant for over 10 years.  They had their final try two weeks ago with implanted embryos and it failed again (this is about their 10th or more attempt of some kind).  This is the wife of the oldest son of my sister who died.  He was the one who found her collapsed on the carpet after her bleed.  He was the one who took himself off to live miles away overseas.  He has achieved a lot but he goes through such a struggle every time he comes back here to visit trying to reconnect.  He carries the knowledge of how his father abandoned my sister and of how his father then bankrupted his own mother and father, I cannot help but feel this struggle to have kids is all tied up with ancestral karma and burdens.  They now live in the UK very close to the place my step grandfather was born and grew up and UK is the land of our ancestors.

Then I go online to Facebook to see another of the skulls his younger brother paints with floral designs staring out and I cannot help but feel the God Pluto looking at me from the spaces in the skull that eyes should inhabit.  This beautiful boy at the age of 6 stood behind the curtain watching as his Dad put my broken sister into the car to take her to the airport for a journey she would never return from.  I believe he told the boys she has chosen to leave, they never saw her for 8 or more years and when they walked off that bus they did not know who she was.  The truth was their father was, with that decision, abandoning their mother to live with another woman who made them all sleep in the garage for years.  They were then sent to boarding school.

I have not yet made it north to visit my nephews.  I need to do it but I am scared to.  I carry the memory of all of this from the outside, what happens if I go up and collapse under the weight of it?  It isn’t mine to fix I was only a bystander but I still want (no need) to give them love, comfort, understanding.   Its such a tear on my heart but maintaining my Aquarian distance isn`t helping, is it?

I am aware that Saturn Lord of Karma is ending its long cycle through my fourth house of family, roots and karmic inheritance sometime in December or January.  We are in the final stages of that year long cycle which begins when the Sun and Saturn meet to cast light on family karma.  Reconciling or breaking the powerful unconscious hold of karma occurs as it transits the fourth house.  These are truths I know deep inside.  In the words of Mark Woitiz, It Didn’t Start With Me but I hope it ends here.  I want us connected, not separated or divided but sometimes it seems I forget or don’t know exactly what role I am meant to play or whether I am supposed to be here or walk away or if I can really help in that task with my own small will.  I don`t want to walk away, that is an old family pattern and where ever we go we take our karma with us until we reconcile the ill matched threads of our fate.  Maybe on some level I am now making my peace with it.

Separating : birthing : integrating

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Its such a tough journey to finally get to the point where we have to let our families go in order to birth the true life and connections that exist outside of its circumscribed limits.  Therapy and emotional healing is a process of both coming to terms with and integrating all of the formative experiences of our past, as well as the deeper hurts and injuries that happened to us in our family of origin.   Many of us battle for a long time against accepting harsh realties most especially if we were wounded or suffered developmental arrests and lost access to our True Self within over many years.  Abandonment gives us no way of accessing the truth of the lost self except through pain which is challenging to feel and integrate, especially in a society where pain is seen as a pathology or illness to be medicated instead of mined for wisdom, growth, connection and meaning.

In my own case a developmental arrest occurred at 17 when I should have been on the brink of opening up and launching.  I was cut down by an accident and then in the 6 years that followed the following traumas occurred : the cerebral bleed, coma and eventual psychosis of my older sister, her eventual abandonment and suicide attempt, two terminations of pregnancy and then my father’s death from cancer.  After my boyfriend broke the relationship off with me just a few weeks after my father died and cancelled our plans to meet abroad, something I had been working and saving towards for over 18 months my mother then decided it was best to push me overseas all alone.

How I was meant to cope with everything I had suffered to that point God only knows. And the truth is its deeper suffering was not even begun to be felt by me for about 14 more years.  I call those the years of unconscious descent, as 7 of them involved active addiction and the next 7 were just spent in AA meetings where it was really not possible to address the extent of my damage.   In 1999 I made my first attempt at therapy and here it is 18 years later and I only feel that I have now done the majority of my conscious descent, which had involved a lot of therapy and broken therapies in order to find the right help.

I only now feel that I am beginning to separate from my family emotionally.  The paradox is that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the suffering fully, in fact I feel it means I feel it at the deepest level as I have chosen not to self medicate as much as possible.  At times I have been very close to suicide, most especially in the past 6 years spent back here in my home town.  I beat myself up all the time about how I didn’t have the courage to move away and deal with it from a distance.  Maybe it was partly the illusion of the inner child pulling me back making me believe that in some way I would get what I wanted emotionally or at least be able to address the pain with family.  That illusion has caused me a lot of emotional suffering and has cost me years and the pain over all that lost life honestly on some days nearly drives me to want to take my life.  It is taking a long time for adult me to emerge and front up, and face the death of those old longings which I see now are not realistic and never were really.  There is a lot of grieving to be done in the shedding and the letting go and fear I am becoming aware does accompany the conscious descent that is asked of us.  In fact I read many years ago that poet Robert Bly spoke of how depression is a refusal on some level often to surrender to deeper grief work.  Only through it do we reunite with the lost child in side who holds so much of our power and inner gold, although often when we find him or her, he or she is most often covered in soot and ashes, this unparented one who is often also a part of our parents’ unconscious.

Anyway I am certainly not alone in facing this kind of pain in midlife.  My journey is made more complex due to two near death traumas which pulled me back when I was on the brink of what should have been a blossoming and emerging or burgeoning time.  My studies suffered in the years following my first accident as I also struggled with the terrible impact of witnessing what my older sister went through.  I was forced by my father at that point into a career I hated and it wasn’t until just before I got sober that I tried to break out of that but addiction wouldn’t let me move too far forward and at that time even more traumas and losses had piled on top of the original ones.

I eventually did manage to do some training in wholistic therapies and managed to secure myself a few jobs in an industry that was more to my liking but I hadn’t yet done my inner work, instead I chose to escape into marriage.   In those years I got sober and started then to really explore my interest in astrology and in 2001 managed to achieve a dream to study at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London which I aborted when my older sister who was now in a care home hit the wall. I also started serious therapy in 1999 in the UK but mid way through I had a powerful dream that an dark African woman had given birth to a baby who died just after its first birthday.  About a year and a half into therapy I aborted to come back home.  In the dream the deep sad eyes of the woman shone as she told me it was a necessary death.

And so it has been.  Death and more death followed.  The ending of marriage, another accident and then another, another relationship and the failing of that and my eventual return to the roots of my home and then a new start in therapy, the suicide attempt of my other sister, five hospitalisations for her for depression which I tried to give emotional support through and then the death of my older sister in 2014 and reconnection with my nephews her sons who were like my long lost brothers.

Wiser energy comes now on a spring afternoon where shadows begin to fall telling me it was all a part of the journey. Why beat myself up?  Will I ever fully leave my family behind?  They were the womb I was born out of but not the place that I am meant to end up but individuation is a journey and its not an easy birth to go through it all and in so many ways my own life is both a continuation of my ancestors life as well as a working out of issues and burdens and tasks they perhaps never got to complete fully which call to me from deep within intercellular tissue, at least that is how it feels for me. Even the ones I never met call to me and I feel their pain and deeper longing to be known and recognised, no longer so lost, exiled or forgotten, fallen deep down into the collective unconscious ocean like stones.  Possibly all configured by my natal Neptune in the third trine to Chiron in Pisces in the seventh more than I could ever fully express in words here.

So much to navigate and not all of it artificial imagining I am sure.  So I continue on some days weighed down so deep by a burden I never chose, but then on other days rising again with a new energy and power that has come from facing and surrendering myself body and soul to the deepest darkness.  So much is a mystery that is all I know.  So many unseen forces play out for us and we can never fully hope to solve the puzzle with our minds but if we still enough at times we hear the inner voice or call telling us things.  Our personal and ancestral soul trying so hard to make its authentic individual voice and inner purpose known.

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A voracious inner critic : some reflections on self judgement

I seem to have a very tenacious and resilient inner judge living deep inside my psyche.  When I personify this force it becomes a ‘he’ though I am sure the things that judge or Mr A as I used to like to call him says are actually an amalgam of things said to me in childhood more by the nuns at my Catholic school than my parents alone.  The nuns were actually female, but come to think of it most of them were squashed in their true deep vibrant sexually alive feminine, really.

I was discussing this in therapy with Katina yesterday.   Mr A runs an ongoing commentary on everything I do, casting his wet blanket on it.   For example, last night after a very emotional session with Katina where I read her a blog I wrote on Monday about memories and deep emotions that were coming up for me this week over the loss of my life in England many years ago I wrote a poem Goodbye to the Meadows.  Immediately after I published it the criticism from Mr A rained down.    “Do you think you are going to get any likes on that poem which is full of sentimental nostalgia for things long gone by, things lost that you can never have again?”  “And in any case don’t you think you are romanticising everything?” “For God’s sake the past is gone, you will never get it back!”  Thanks Mr A for your compassionate support and I am grateful for your healthy dash of realism, but!

Surprise, surprise.  After walking back to the shopping centre after dropping my car off for a service I opened my email to find 8 likes on my post which I read back and just seemed to be a very heartfelt expression of the sadness I felt yesterday and the tears of longing and love shed for our narrow long backyard with a Walnut tree at the end which looked over fields and was home to various wildlife, including squirrels and robins, all gorgeous little creatures we don’t see much in Australia.  Why did the inner critic have to give me such a hard time?

Come to think of it, though I am only one of the millions or others who probably suffer at the hands of these kind of inner voices.   I am not entirely sure but I feel that on some level this voracious inner critic tries to keep us safe in some sad or deeply confused way. If he can beat us up before others do maybe we won’t hurt so much if we get outside criticism.

One of his favourite things to say is this:  “Just you watch out that you don’t get too big for your boots, young missy.”   As a dramatic and open child who was very expressive and loving I didn’t really meet much support of those kind of qualities in my own family.  And at our dour Catholic school you were more than likely to get a harsh rap over the knuckles if you let yourself get carried away or showed too much initiative.  I remember once getting a bollocking from Sister Rita for daring to go to the cupboard and open a new box of tissues.  With a face red from hyperventilating she screamed at me.  “You are bold as brass, Miss Willemsen, bold as brass!”  As a youngster her reaction surely showed I was a sinner who must work hard to erase such behaviour.  She struck the fear of God into me and I learned to try to hide my initiative and motive pretty much from there on in.

A key dream that I had just before my ex husband and I decided to return to Australia from the UK in late 2001, after my older sister came to grief and my mother had a bad fall fracturing her wrist was one in which I found myself outside a classroom being asked to rescue a class of children who were being held in stocks by a huge old nun with a big bunch of keys hanging off the belt on her skirt.  In the dream my fear got the better of me and the dream ended before I could make the necessary rescue.  We went back to Oz, even though by then I was truly regretting my decision to return.  I am still in Australia after two attempts to get back to the UK, the last of which ended in a massive head injury.

Planet of communications Mercury is apparently currently in a long drawn out conjunction with the planet of individuation and liberation from repression Uranus at present and I have noticed a distinct elevation of my mood and thoughts over this past week.  I seem not to be as stuck in things.  It’s no wonder all of these issues are coming up at present for me.  My psyche is trying to break out of something and I am being shown the path of the past 16 years since (can it really be that long) where I was led on what seems often to me to be like a massive regression.

Carl Jung often talked of the regression which serves the needs of the deeper Self whose needs and agenda lie far beyond or beneath our conscious will and ego objectives.   And it appears to me that in some way I am being asked to rephrase things and find deeper meanings than the inner critic can provide.  The critic thinks its keeping us safe but really its perspective can be deeply limited at times.  At other times it may give us really valid and useful information.  However it is also so important that we allow a voice to the inner nurturer who can provide us with essential qualities of self compassion and acceptance and counter the destructive voice of the critic that wants to shame us and lay everything to waste, most especially joy!

For me I wish the critic would get off my back and l will continue to fight to free my self expressive voice.  The Moon’s nodes are moving back into Leo and Aquarius.  With the North Node in Leo we are being called to embrace and express our deep inner creative self outside restrictive more’s of societal convention.  We need our wild voice and our sad voice and our guilty voice and our triumphant voice.   We need to embrace all of our disparate parts and give birth to the witness who in standing firmly at the inner centre of our Self can embrace all, express all, contain all and transform all with a radiant love that allows our unique being to coalesce into a rich multifaceted prism : a kaleidoscopic lens through which we can transform and re-envision our lives and world.

 

Dark Night : reflections on a dream, a fated meeting, and the leaving that sent me home

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Dark night you came down on my soul.  I was taken to a place beyond words, a living experience of experiences past all jumbled up into an inner soup of mixed up hurting and longing, no longer knowing where to turn but within, only feeling deep pain and at times not even that : just a bloody field of wreckage in which dead carcasses of cows littering ancestral fields haunted the landscape of my soul.

When I reflect on that, which was a pure dream image summoned from my inner depths at the time just days before we both embarked for the land of our ancestors and as I look back now on the experiences we had there with your own family pain I see a deep message from the collective unconscious.  Cow = Taurus = Self worth, inner feminine, mother and feeling values, nature and contentment all shattered on a collective battle field of suffering our ancestors grew out of.

I think of your father suffering through a life in which he could not live his true dream living with a woman who seemed so bitter and angry until the cancer laid claim to his insides.  Exactly what miracle of destiny was it that led me on a cold winter night on the way home with an inner message to go back to a certain hotel?  It was there that I met you and not many hours later after that first meeting we would discover that we both lost our fathers to cancer within a year.   You were one year younger and your partner abandoned you then also and you too went travelling, feeling so bereft and alone.  We were both only 23 and that was 8 years before our meeting.  My heart aches.  We were only meant to travel so far down the road, together.  I am sorry. It wasn’t our fault!

Slaughtered cows lying on ancestral field, bleeding spent life blood, love and self value onto green fields, a metaphor for so many things : for how it felt for you to be dragged back to the place where you struggled to birth your own sense of power and potency out of the wreckage of a wounded father and mother, a country trying to tell you that as a humble gardener you were not worth much.  And it occurs to me too in the editing that your father’s brother was the golden child, your Dad only got the scraps.

Here in Australia you were valued, but something inside the partner you chose was pulling you back to face something deeply unresolved.   There in England my grief broke open after 7 years of sobriety.  Your family didn’t like it, you wanted back ‘the happy girl you married’ but I had such a long journey to take back to her.   In the end we were torn apart.  Dark night, how you descended with his leaving, deep soul ache of remembering how many leavings and deaths there were in relationship with men for me but the first leaving was my sister who carried so much of the light in our dark, duty bound family where so little joy could live.

I remember today the blue tin box you gave me at the airport as you bid me goodbye, with enough money for a horse ride on the beach I never took.   I know you loved me so much you had to let me go, how our souls were aching.  I am so sorry, but it had to be, it really did and I miss you but we were a dream and I had to find my deeper reality that led over  a long road littered with boulders and stones shown in another dream just days before you told me you were leaving and no longer loved this sad me.

The ways of the soul are so mysterious, fate plays out and you don’t know where it is taking you.  You make your choices without all the information and the cards fall where they will.  You play your hand as best you can and sometimes you have to give up the game, throwing in your hand and turning up your palms to heaven waiting for something new to birth deep within what feels like a deeply barren place.

When all seems most lost then perhaps you stand with one foot poised on the edge of a most massive discovery. Its truth may be hard to swallow but nevertheless you drink it down over years, it scalds your insides.  But one day it has passed through, your scarred insides have healed and a bright day dawns on which your remember it all with awe in a state of surrender seeing so much more clearly how and why it all turned out as it did, knowing there was such innocent young hope of love beating in both hearts then, but knowing also how much a true deep love really costs and how much that price can only be paid by a consciousness that has been strong and patient enough to endure the fire and weather the storm to birth realisations that could have never come without the necessary losses and the necessary suffering that the reaching for love and understanding of love’s tangled ways birth over years of long journeying and heartbreak/soul ache.

Bright day, you stream your love though my window filtered through golden rose leaves of pom pom tree reminding me of how gorgeous nature is, how my love of it was what drew me to you and to England in the first place.  Wrapped in a cosy blanket I shed such deep tears for all that was lost while a wiser part of me sees through all the illusion involved in the feeling that something true was really lost.  For what is most true can never be lost.  And it is often in the depths of our very real suffering that real truth and wisdom is born.  Our individuated self is created through forming a body of substance which over years has the capacity to bear with, contain and bear witness to painful truths that reveal at depth a far more profound reality than innocent young souls could ever know.

And love goes on, is what in the end has the capacity to endure and to say an unconditional “yes” to it all, to this at times mixed up complicated experience that is life.  And it occurs to me that love is the witness, it is the writer, it is the one who has the capacity to observe it from a distance bearing witness to what the soul and consciousness shapes out of life giving it form, shaping it into a vessel of expression.

 

Finding the lost father inside

DAD

When I wrote my last post I actually had in mind to write a post on fathering as one aspect of self parenting.  This absent or overly patriarchial father experience in our childhood leaves us with huge deficits.  Dad is the one who should ideally help us to separate from Mum at the right time in our development.  We need him both to see and admire us but also to set us healthy boundaries for self assertion and expression in the world.  In modern times I am sure mothers can also do this for us but its the father who will give us the guidance to go out into the world and slay the dragons we might need to that block our way or hold us back and often he is the one that should help us in our separation from Mum, but what happens when he just isn’t there?

The overbearing or patriarchial father is one who may try to impose his will on us, and set too firm boundaries, blocking the expression of our true self in the world or forcing us to pursue a false agenda, if this happens its hard to find happiness, we may feel thwarted or cave under due to pressure from stronger wills, thinking we don’t have the right to say ‘no’ to what isn’t right for us, and squashing our ability to stay strong to deep soul impulses and find ways to honour them.

In my background I got a lot of the later at times, having other’s will imposed on me.  My Dad may have seen me foundering after my accident and my sister’s trauma.  I was.  I had just graduated in the year I had my accident from school, but the final months were aborted due to being holed up in hospital, then I went into teaching as I wasn’t strong enough to travel and live in Sydney to do the social work degree I wanted to do.  The following year I left to go North to Uni due to difficulties with all the trauma going down following my older sister’s cerebral bleed but I got overwhelmed without structure and support and then got involved with an addict and my own alcohol consumption was affecting my ability to study.  Deep inside I was terrified of what was occurring, I wanted to go home to Mum and Dad and go back to my teaching but when I got back I was told there would be no argument, I would go into secretarial studies.  Deep down I was SO ANGRY but that would not have been permitted.  So I just went to the course and on weekends started to binge drink and use drugs.

The next 13 years played out with me stuck in secretarial or personal assistant jobs that I did well at but addiction was there in the wings as my soul was restless and deep down on an unconscious level I was not living the life I would have chosen to create for me.

When I suffered further trauma in 1990 with an ectopic pregnancy and a major relationship broke, I finally found the courage to quit my secretarial job and move in another direction but my addiction was firmly in place and I could not develop the good internal fatherly boundaries to develop the career in alternative health I was studying towards.

Eventually I got sober, I married, I found a good job in a bookshop but when my ex husband and I decided to move back to England I went back into secretarial. I had outside interests developing in sobriety into psychology and astrology but I was not sure of how to make a career of them.  I started the psychological astrology course in 2001 and completed only 6 months when I felt the pull back to Australia.  My older sister with all the trauma was being moved to a home and my Mum fell over and was in a lot of distress.  I felt that if I stayed in the UK I would be abandoning them, so my husband and I came back but I was immediately depressed.  I still could not break from the need I felt to fix my Mum and sister, so my marriage ended.  I tried briefly to return to England and my course but had an accident again and so I came home and then I got stuck in another relationship in which I really did not develop my own interests outside.

All along as I review everything with the benefit of hindsight, I see how I have not had a very positive loving father inside to steer or guide me.  I sought out therapy I am sure for this reason and Katina, my therapist and I were discussing yesterday how now therapy will not be so much about containing and holding my pain and grief, and mothering my lost child, but more about working to find healthy ways to develop and express and find meaningful purpose outside what has been a deeply enmeshed family situation over the past years.  It is now up to me to be both loving mother and father to myself with the help from those who can be of assistance, its time to leave the past pain in the past to the degree that I don’t let it keep me stuck or mar either my present or future.

Its curious because today I fell into a big heap after a slow start and I began to get very strong images of my maternal great, great grandfather as he struggled with his own addiction after leaving his home of Cornwall in 1874.  I thought of his pain and of how he in the end was of no help to his family.  His wife left him with 16 children after they moved to New Zealand and those children all had to struggle to find their way in the world.  Some remained in NZ but several migrated to Australia and my maternal great grandmother and my grandmother went to Victoria.

My grandmother met her husband in Victoria and he had at that stage served on the frontlines in various offensives in the First World War, including Lone Pine.  He was only 16 when he joined up in 1916 and from what I know he developed his own addiction as a result and also was gassed so suffered in that way too.  He died when my mother was only 7.

The theme of the absent father occurs like a repeat along my mother’s side of the family.  On my father’s side it may have been similar in that my father’s dad died in 1932 when my father was only 12 and he may also have been a victim of war.  I do believe these imprint themes of the lost, traumatised or emotionally wounded or absent father play down and show up in my chart in the Sun (ruling father) being squared by Neptune (planet of grief, loss, disappearance, vacancy or deep confusion and longing – the longing aspect stronger with Neptune in the sign that so much needs deep passion and attachment : Scorpio).

Having this kind of understanding for me highlights why I struggled so with my masculine, assertive and fatherly side.  That part of me is not very strongly developed within, I have struggled with boundaries for most of my life and addiction as well both of which are Neptunian issues.  I get a bit upset when I lose things, or think I have misplaced things, or when there is a mess or confusion around.  I had a dream about this the other night where my ex had come into a house where I had left piles of mess lying around and tidied up and beautified the place.  But mess at times can be creative too, its in the ability to bring some order to the chaos and confusion that so much art is born.

Fathering myself at the moment seems to be an emerging theme.  I need to spend some time thinking about the skills I do have and how I can put them to good use.  My astrology is important to me and I have always longed to teach it, its just at times I lack the trust in my own capacity to express.  Fathering is the thing that will get me out of emotional overwhelm and unrequited longing at those times when such feelings are counter productive for me.  It is the part that will get me to engage and go for what I want, rather than retreat or just throw up my hands and say it is all too hard.

The past years I have spent focused on my mother wound have born some good fruit, but endlessly focusing on what has been missing is not going to help me today.  Today I have to work to put in and create from what seem like empty spaces.  I need to sit with emptiness for as long as it takes for something to emerge and when it does I need to help it in its quest for life.  To move forward, to grow, to attempt, to try, to express whatever goodness I can in my life.   I feel so sad that I have not been able to sustain this kind of goodness at times but I do hope that this goodness will emerge if I can only keep a positive focus and find that lost father deep inside.

When dreams die

There are things

When our dreams die

We fall into the darkest place

A place where all we longed and hoped for

Seems an impossible dream

And it becomes so hard to love where we are now

For the pain is so deep

And inside we feel so cold

Where a warm fire once burned

Of faith

Of hope

Of love

We only feel wreckage

Something inside of us is breaking apart

And the breaking hurts

We cannot see yet

How this breaking is also an opening

To a new state of being

One in which hope

Though removed from view

Leaves in its space

A place where we are touched

By a deeper understanding

A deeper reality

And often this takes so long to birth

And we spend years inside the chrysalis

Of our broken dreams

Spinning and spinning

Out of our suffering

A new life and perspective

Philosophy cannot ease the pain

For philosophy is only born once pain is passed

By wiser souls

So death of dreams and loss of hope

Is often the highest price we pa

For a far deeper descent

Into a more profound reality

Lessons in Empathy : Reflections on Neptune and Saturn

Whale

Another post from a few years back.  I use a lot of astrology in this one as a way of grappling with certain experiences around empathy.  My sister is now in a stronger space,  her struggle with mental illness and emotional pain mirrored my own and at this time we were both in deep water which is how I would see a strong Neptune influence around us both : deep feelings gone unconscious:

Maybe one of the gifts of having suffered loss and depression is that you come to know the territory very well.  There is more to be learned through the actual suffering of and living through certain states of being because its only then that you can know how it feels for you to be in a place where you feel you have been pressed down by a huge weight or are drowning under a wall of water that rolls you round and round in a deep swell, then tosses you over and over and over in such a way that you no longer have control.

People who haven’t been through it just don’t seem to get it, you can use words to try describe the experience but they are always going to fall short.  Images or sounds, including music or dance would be more evocative mediums, I guess.  Still my form of expression is, for the time writing so I will struggle on with this.

We cannot explain or make sense of the inexplicable, but never the less we try.  A great wall can separate us from others when we are suffering in this way and their agenda may come out of the difficulty they are having in being powerless in a situation watching someone they love suffering and knowing much as they love them, there is so little they can do to change what is going on.

I’m finding myself in this situation with my sister at the moment after undergoing a similar theme with my older sister for over 20 years.   Neptune is natally positioned in my third house of siblings and transiting Neptune is, at present, transiting over my Chiron and in opposition to natal Pluto at the moment.  At the same time it is hitting my sister’s Sun and Venus square to Mars.

In short, my Chiron is smack bang on her natal Sun Venus and squared by her Mars.  I feel a sadness and pain, knowing she is in pain, then also a kind of powerlessness and wordlessness surrounding how to be with her and in it.  I can recognise it but when I try to make any kind of contact I am hitting a brick wall and then the words run short and there is nothing I can do but hang up the phone or leave and then the avalanche of grief breaks open.

The way I am dealing with this at the moment is in reaching out to my recovering friends.  For me these are just the one’s who will allow my feelings to flow and recognise the place I am in without trying to change it.   They don’t give me any advice but allow me to feel my way through it and process until it has shifted   For me that is what is needed for it to pass.

I am deep in Neptune territory at the moment and there are three planetary stations at the moment which means there is a psychic shift.   Saturn is one of the astrological heavy weights which will be driving home its essential message over the next 4 and a half months,  as it back tracks over the zone 23-16 degrees Scorpio it will square my seventh house Aquarian stellium and oppose the North Node in Leo while moving back into a wide conjunction with natal Neptune in the third.

Saturn speaks to me of boundaries, limits and discipline, it also is associated to gravitas, depression, a falling back to the earth of reality and a pruning or limiting of ego ideals and plans to deal with the oceanic theme of that 3rd house Neptune which must in some way relate back to my Mum’s sadness and longing around having no other siblings and a father who died when she was very young.

Synchronistically, I recently re read a dream I had many years ago  My sister and I were walking by the ocean and as we did we came across a whale that had beached itself.  My sister looked me in the eyes and said “the whales are such sad creatures”.  I felt the deepest most unescapable karmic sadness in the dream.

Metaphorical associations :  to me whales inhabit the ancestral deep, that they are beached means that some deep ancestral issue has emerged and become stranded and the deep pain around it is recognised by my sister and by myself.  There is a profound element around Piscean placements to me and it relates to our ancestral connection we both have been abandoned by our partners and our maternal great, great, grandfather too, was left and ended his days in an asylum.

Maybe our planets give us this innate sensitivity in a soul to the totality of collective suffering and experience, most especially on an emotional level.  This degree of psychic sensitivity gives a load of empathy but also a difficulty with differentiating boundaries.  Chaos is one’s nature state, rationality and logic are experienced as straight jackets, there is a longing too for dissolution that will melt the walls of division which keep us separate but the problem may be that the sought dissolution ends up destroying the essence of the sensitive.

Too much Neptune, not enough Saturn we become a psychic sponge absorbing pain of others that we relate to but is not ours.  We need a secure space where we can retreat in order to return to us, if we are too strongly drawn in by others who have powerful psychic defences we can become a garbage dump for their projected and rejected psychic “stuff”.

A year on re-editing this post and reflecting on the image of the beached whale more deeply and seeing the journey my only living sister has undergone I see the emergence of this Piscean part of herself, how it has affected me.  Together on the beach we recognise the whale and it cant be spoken of : the suffering we both know is a soul level experience.

Sometimes it appears to me a conundrum to have both strong Saturnian and Neptunian emphasis in my psyche but I am beginning to see that both are essential states of being.   The deep solitude of my Saturn Moon helps me when I get into Venus square Sun/Venus/Mercury/Jupiter/South Node overload.  It returns me home often with a sharp slap.

Solitude gives me an alembic,  a soul container for the tears both of myself and of others, of the collective culture.  It gives me nurture for in the solitude of Saturn I find the understanding of my strong Neptune which is often subjected to misinterpretation by more pragmatic, less mystical folk.

Its taken me many years to understand this.  My empathetic Neptunian self feels others pain but Saturn teaches me I have to respect their journey and right to choose different ways of dealing with and understanding it.  My Chiron in the Seventh which is ruled by Neptune (placed as it is in the sign of Pisces) can be a dumping ground for the projections of others and needs the backbone of Saturnian recognition to deal with it and sort out what is projected and what I own.

Today I read an excellent blog about Empathetic muscle.  It described the difficulty empaths have with absorbing and becoming a psychic sponge for others.  Ideally empathy should give us the ability to feel others pain and yet not get lost in it.  It seems to me that this has been the deep Saturnian work of the past few years for me.  This blog was written last year and it has taken this time to complete.  Its being released as Saturn trines the Sun prior to its forward movement soon.

When you have known pain : personal reflections on the wound of narcissism

When you have known great pain and trauma and loss there is no way you can unknow that knowing.  This is the thought that came to me this morning after writing a poem about where the so called negative thinking inside my head can take me at times and then reading another blog about how happiness is not necessarily a realistic goal for those of us who have undergone a lot of trauma.   What happened to us is real, it was painful and it hurt.  In bed last night when I was struggling with post traumatic pain the thought came to me that I needed to open my heart to the pain and let it in, instead of trying to block it, resist it, repress it or deny it. I am becoming aware that this is what I do not only with my own pain but with the pain of realities I see about other people who have damaged me in certain ways.

Yesterday after watching a video on the causes of narcissism in childhood I became aware of the wounding in my own relationships with my parents, certain expressions or emotions were not allowed or they were denied.  Often pain was denied.  If you had an injury it was often denied and you were told that it didn’t hurt or hadn’t happened.  Later in life when there was real sadness I needed to express I was not allowed to do so around certain people, especially my mother due to the fact it caused them or her discomfort.  In the video I watched yesterday and reblogged this kind of treatment was discussed and hearing about it yesterday really triggered me into a spiral of anger and sadness : anger that I was not allowed to be and express my true self and sadness not only that I was not allowed but that I then turned against myself and my own feelings and tried to turn the sadness off to be and become a person who would then be loved and accepted, but the price was that I was not loved and accepted as I really was.

In the video what was discussed by the therapist was how as children if we suffer these kind of narcissistic wounds and injuries we learn to disconnect from our true being, feelings, thoughts and self on some level.  The truth lives on in us but we turn away, disconnect and deny, often because we were either actively shamed, humiliated, dismissed or ignored when feeling that feeling.  What then came into my head was the concept of Inner Bonding which is discussed into books my Margaret Paul, the first called Healing Your Aloneness, the second Inner Bonding.   In both books a method of reconnecting to your disconnected feelings and thoughts is taught so that you no longer split off from or deny the truth.

The feeling I have most problem with connecting to or feeling and expressing is anger.  Getting angry with my Mum has landed me deep in hot water so many times.  Feeling my sadness with her is not really possible either and it wasn’t really until I listened to the video yesterday that I connected the anxiety my mother feels when I try to express anger or sadness with the kind of narcissistic injury he speaks of.  Prior to this I had some kind of idea but it was not fully formed.  I then had some deeper insights how over the past 5 years I have turned myself around to find ways to find my mother’s love, approval and attention.

As a young child I was left alone all the time.  My parents never played with me.  The family drill was that we did all our chores and then we may be allowed to play outside alone.  As I grew into an older child my mother always worked.  I remember waiting and waiting for both her and my father to come home.  When they did my father would ignore me and go into the garden.  When my mother came home I would orient myself around her to get her attention by following her around in the kitchen trying to help as much as possible. I made a contest of being able to do all the dishes before the meal was put on the table to be served.  In this way I hoped to win my mother’s love and attention. It’s only writing this now that I am connecting the anxiety and panic attacks I have had for several years now around this time of day when I prepare my dinner and do the washing up to this pattern of becoming a little satellite to my Mum at this time of day.  Last night I could not wash up for over 2 hours due to being stuck in a panic attack.   These kind of light bulb moments are essential for my recovery.

Last night I had a fitful night.  I woke up after a painful dream in which I was being attacked by a girl with a severe Asian hairstyle and in trying to protect myself I stabbed her in the shoulder with nail scissors very deeply and drew blood.  As a result I was then put before an intervention committee and told that I was being sent out into the wilderness by the committee for being so destructive.  I then knew the cost of my anger had been too much, but without it I would have been powerless so I can now see the dilemma I have been put in for all of my life.  Expressing anger means exile from connection, suppressing it means disconnection from and wounding to my true self.

I need my anger and my sadness to show me what is real for me, where my frustrations lie and how upset I am to know that a lot of the pain I suffered was due to the narcissism and self involvement of both my parents because I spend whole days sometimes being actively shamed and blamed inwardly by a remorseless inner critic.  I seem to keep moving into and out of denial around this issue for years.  Now I believe my psyche is trying to show me a painful truth and I need to open up to it and let it in rather than block or deny it as my parents would.  My body showed me last night I was on the right track for when I opened to the truth of the pain my body finally began to relax and the sharp hard thing I feel lodged inside me most nights then began to lose some of its intensity.  My own Mars vital force turned within and against myself, internalised rather than externalised causes me deep pain.  I need to liberate myself from this pain by feeling it, understanding it and releasing it.

Here comes the wave

images (17)

I was dreaming vividly last night.  I love Mercury retrograde periods for this reason, dreams seem to be more frequent and easy to remember and reflecting on their meaning is a lovely Mercury retrograde pursuit.

In the dream I was in a place where a lot was going on and towards the right end of the field I was aware of a huge wave that was rising up.  Some surfers were breasting the wave, some were falling back behind the swell before it broke; others were being carried by the sheer force of its power, sliding or falling from a great height down, dumped by the powerful force of the water.  At the time I had feelings of both awe and fear.  I wondered about the bravery or even foolhardiness of people who would submit themselves to this wave for the sheer exhilaration of the experience.

This morning, as I reflect on that image there are a lot of associations for me.   The wave for me presents perhaps the force of change and feelings that can rise up and carry me down maybe even crash me around.  The dream also has associations to my ex partner.

Yesterday evening I was browsing on the wonderful blog After Narcissistic Abuse and thinking about my ex who would be gone for hours surfing.  The waiting for his return would be very long and painful for me at times.  I think buried down there was a fear of loss but also the realisation that he had told me surfing was the major priority in his life, I was to come second best : always.  I don’t know if this was his way of trying to exert power in a relationship where he at times felt overwhelmed with feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness. I only know that in this situation as an empath on some level I felt I was carrying not only my feelings, but his own feelings of abandonment at being left which he could re-enact by leaving me for very long periods.

His mother left home when my ex was four.  The abandonment wound around this, his father’s alcoholism left him with deep feelings of powerlessness and anger.   The ocean represented for him a mother of a kind in whose embrace he could metaphorically experience all kinds of powerful feelings in his soul.    Often when he was going through conflicts and experiencing anger towards his sons, he would go there and come home injured in some way.  I respected this need of his, while at times feeling very lonely on the many mornings he would be gone and I faced breakfast alone.  Often I waited hours not knowing when he would be home. One way I dealt with the feelings this leaving evoked was to write poetry.

There were so many echoes for me in that experience of being left, since I was the last priority in the busy lives of two parents who were committed to work as a first priority and spent no time at all playing or attending to any of my needs.  I become needless and wantless but carried a hunger for time to be spent, but at the same time I did not, at the time of this relationship, know how to nurture my own life and time.    In late adolescence, too, I  had suffered a major collision which landed me in hospital for three months. This too, was a time of waiting for broken bones to heal and not knowing if I would make the school graduation.  (I didn’t, the dress I had selected remained hanging in the bedroom cupboard and was never worn.)

Time is one of the ways in which we experience love.  I so appreciate those people in my life who there to spend open ended time with.  That time to me is a precious gift beyond measure.  I didn’t get a lot of it and illness stole two people who I felt closest too, and with my Dad there was no time to say goodbye.  So time spent just being has become very important to me these times.  Next time I have a relationship I will be able to set better boundaries around time, since I now know myself better.

When I now think about the wave it perhaps represents too the flood of feelings around me that were not conscious and got submerged in addiction but then rose up in recovery, particularly with the leaving and loss of relationship which was a new tearing apart evoking old memories.  I was reading yesterday about our traumatic injury causes a separation from others.  A trauma of any kind represents a tear in the fabric of connection and a dive into aloneness.  Part of coming out of trauma and healing following mourning the loss, is in reconnecting with the world.

In trauma we experience something that sets us apart, that not a lot of people who have not experienced it can relate to.  There are complex feelings about that because due to the nature of how we heal from trauma if we don’t get support and understanding we are much more liable to remain stuck and part of PTSD involves struggling with anger around this situation.  To heal someone needs to be there to hold our hand and encourage us through. Peter Levine has researched on trauma and at a young age he had his own traumatic injury.  He shares that what he went through due to that accident did not develop into full blown PTSD due to the fact a lovely lady was present at the accident and she held his hand and helped him through the trauma.

I remember in 1999 when my own trauma was beginning to rise up and unfreeze following six years of consistent sobriety.  I was in a major depression which represents often the precursor to the breaking through of feeling, the rising up of the wave.  My therapist reached across to me and held my hand while a flood of tears fell.  It was a precious moment, a moment of connection and healing.  No one much in my life had ever related to me in this way before.  He extended hand and its warmth unthawed those frozen feelings for me.  To heal we need an empathetic relationship.

Eventually that therapy broke apart.  I was too scared to trust fully that the wave would not destroy me.  I have run from the wave many times and its taken years to realise I will and can endure the full force of it.  Maybe also the wave on some level represents love,  when we truly open our hearts we aren’t always in control of the outcome.  We may or may not be received.  We may be dumped and spun about badly. Or we may be carried along on the wonderful joy of it.   Knowing we have the power to survive it, perhaps takes time.

In a wider reference point to the issues of the dream I was taking my leave of a situation in which I was not receiving what I needed.  People were trying to call me back but I knew I had to make my escape in order to choose for my life.  I was not involved in the wave, since I was taking action I needed to take.  For so many years I could not make the choice.  I did not have a home inside me to go to. In the dream I was now on solid ground, not being dumped by the wave.

The wave didn’t figure in that part of the dream.  I awoke uncoiling with my PTSD symptoms unravelling out. And as I reflect on the dream now, in the dream I was no longer caught up in the wave but was watching it and understanding it.  This to me seems a positive sign.

The wave to me while writing appears too, as a metaphor for the power of the unconscious.  It can summon up the debris of what lies hidden deep inside and in so doing bring to us realisations of things we need to understand.  This is particularly apt for someone with Mercury retrograde undergoing a transit of Mercury retrograde.  We get a chance to revisit issues and reframe things in a new perspective.

This transit seems less fraught due to the painful realisations of the past six months having been pretty well integrated by me.  I’ve been taking it slow and spending time with people at the dog park and with myself at home, pottering and doing the things I love. Nurturing myself with time.  Its leaving me more settled especially so the more I journal and blog.

The wave may or may not be out to get me.  It pays to respect it.  In the end the surf was the trusted place for my ex partner who had his own deep issues with trust and mistrust.  It was hard to trust someone who could not trust me, due to the pain of his past.  And it was hard for me to trust someone who could not be trusted to be there.   It was hard to look for love from someone whose love was always conditional on me being a certain way.   And yet love needs some conditions for growth, I know.  Empathy is an essential one and to me empathy is synonymous with presence and time.

This morning in the quiet gentle beginning of a beautiful rainy spring day I will hold in my mind the image of that wave.  Knowing I have experienced over these years the awesome power of its force working out in my own life.  I have respect for the wave and for life now.  I feel a peace in this. Thank you wave for showing me aspects of myself that are healing.  Thank you Mercury retrograde for giving me quiet time to explore the themes around all these things.