When a dog dies

My heart felt so very sad last night for a good blogger friend whose dog passed on Saturday… this is the second friend to have lost a dog in the past month or so, and it always reminds me to value and express my love to and for my own best friend Jasper so much the more.. So we got out early today for a long walk through the park and to the oval, because I had my car booked in for service today but due to talking to my friend for a long time last night I was too tired to make that trek which involves a lot of walking and waiting at a nearby shopping center for my car… I Just felt I would rather be out in nature with Jasper today and so I put the service off for another two weeks.. I even then managed an extra hour’s sleep, to me that feels like good self care.

We just got back a moment ago and to be honest I cried a lot driving home, my favorite time in life is on the way back from a good walk, Jasper sits down on the floor on the passenger side of my care and gazes up at me smiling and looking into my eyes so intensely.. at times it freaks me out but today it just made my heart swell up with love for him.

Earlier I was doing a meditation sitting under the big old trees with the magpies close by, to be in nature to sit or have bare feet on the grass is good for inflammation, I also believe it helps me in my chronic PTSD muscle spasm situation as does the walking.. But in the meditation I thought of how both friends told that towards the end of their lives their dogs went outside, one dug a hole in the dirt to get close to it and the other sat outside at night looking longingly at the snow.. What came to me in meditation from the angels is how close to the spiritual realm dogs live (possibly cats too, but I have no knowledge much of that as my Mum hated cats due to having been scratched when young) and that they have a lot of concern for us humans living so far apart from nature.. This just came to me.. I do not know how true it is but I always think of these two things about the word GOD Dog is God spelt backwards and in AA we often refer to our Higher Power or God as the Great Out Doors..

Outdoors is where we feel the vastness of nature and of the forces that shape it and us and out pets and animals as well.. As Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn always used to remind us we are all part of a vast interconnected tapestry of life and each thing we do affects all things in some way.. some call it the Butterfly effect and there is another term coined by a scientist Rupert Sheldrake called morphic resonance… Sadly I do not know much about Quantam Physics and black holes but it must be so interesting to know about these mysteries.. Conversing with my friend last night he spoke of how so many people fear the dark and demonize the villian in their woundedness, but without the Villian there could be no hero. Sadly our culture veers more and more to the masculine conquest side where power was equated to POWER OVER NATURE AND THE FEMININE.. but these words from the Chinese Taoist text resonate. He who knows the masculine but keeps to the feminine becomes a channel for the world. Action and passivity are two sides of one coin and we need both to experience wholeness, Hatred and love, again too sides of one coin. Fear and faith, mercy and judgement, inner and outer, dark and light both polarities of which there are a million more reflecting the different sides of one coin.

Those dearly beloved animal buddies Dakota and Beau have now entered the spirit realms.. and I pray that my dear friends feel their love shine on even as they miss their best friends. And for me a reminder of what death brings to them is to keep treasuring the precious moments of presence I have with my own pet, for I truly believe they are given to us as a gift and the loyalty, unconditional love and healing we can gain from them is truly for so many of us a gift without measure most especially for those of us living with PTSD and Complex PTSD.

Fragmenting

Lately when I have therapy it feels like I am fragmenting, I get overwhelmed with visions and memories of my older sister around the anniversary of her embolism and then those memories are interspersed with words she said to me.. How she told me there would be a healing to all of this in years to come.. Magical thinking? I remember the painful aftermath of the bleed in the following 5 yeas leading to my father death and how the rippling effects in arresting my early adult development then decimated my marriage. In later years I recall how tough it was sometimes visiting or taking her on outings and needed to push the increasing expanse of her medicated, increasingly disabled and damaged body along in the wheelchair.

Several times the chair fell forward either on the path from her home to the cafe opposite or at the movies. One time we got tipped half way upside down in the elevator going to the movies and I was in such a panic but managed to right it all alone somehow. Often I would meet the maxi taxi on the opposite side of the street then wheel her over to the cinema.

One time she wailed and screamed so much in a movie – A Royal Affair that I wheeled her out so as not to ruin the screening for the other viewers (feeling so so conflicted about it) and this was the movie about a woman whose children were taken from her. When my brother in law returned my sister to Mum and Dad in 1984 like a used up package he lied to the younger ones and led them to believe she had abandoned them. To be honest in recent years her third son has told me of psychotic incidents involving my sister and they were not pretty. My sister could be a demon due to her own trauma and he ensuing medication and other long term affects of brain damage.

Today in therapy I wept and wept while my whole body went into an explosive spiral we had to go about 5 minutes over time which never happens, I had my denture in and out and there were both tears and spasms, lately the emotional constriction we lived within has been revealing itself. There was a tightness to Mum and my second sister a kind of disconnected drivenness that made relaxing impossible. Even now I sometimes fear the price of relaxing or resting may be death. And woebegone if I was happy or full of life or needing something that was most often met with punishment, shut down, isolation or ridicule.

Anyway after therapy today I was so disoriented emotionally I left the car in the shopping centre parking lot with the keys in the ignition after running around madly thinking I’d lost them. What a dunce I felt when the security guy helping me went back to the car with me and we found them. I got myself in such a state crying “there’s no one to help me” and yet they were trying. But today in editing this back I see its the fucking critic on my case am I at fault for valiantly battling on while risking to come alive again even with five missing upper teeth.. This is not on shaming myself.

All of this makes me feel I should be stopping therapy, that it’s making me lose my grounding in the now. This is the way my mind goes endlessly over analysing until a massive groundswell of feeling floods the banks of conscious awareness and yet today editing it back I consider what major work this re-membering and trying to gather together the scattered pieces not only of a remotely intellectualized ‘narrative’ but what that really means and how enormous it is on a bodily as well as energetic level. At one point in therapy after a huge outburst of tears my eyes were blurry and then I was with the angels in my body then telling me that my vision was being cleared and then looking at my therapist thinking DO YOU EVEN HAVE A BLOODY CLUE OF HOW TOUGH THIS IS?

What a relief to get home to Jasper to feel the cool breeze flowing close by, to unpack all my groceries and clean out the fridge, to then rest in the simplicity and the emptying of a gentle trouble free moment not hijacked by past traumatic memory. I need to breathe lately….drowning in past stuff just feels wrong somehow and yet I lived all of these experiences and like it or not my older sister’s soul journey will forever remain intertwined with mine BECAUSE I DEEPLY LOVED HER. This is the cost of loving to feel pain, this is the truth of being an embodied person not trapped in a head trip.

Also I feel things. By my nature I am a sensitive and an empath not a shut down person, I feel the heights and depths and breadths. As tough as it feels at times, as seemingly vast and impossible to contain would I really want to be someone else?

#Never the less there is a time to blow this stuff off when it cripples or fragments me or stops me from embracing the pregnant possibly of a new and clear present moment, but neither can I negate what it is nor how enormously lonely carrying the full weight of it has been at times.

Being connected, embodied, alive

The following comes from Julia Cameron’s book Heart Steps : Prayers and Declarations for a Creative Life.

This we know, all things are connected

like the blood that unites one family.

All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth.

Man did not weave the web of life.

He is merely a strand of it.

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Chief Seattle

I EMBRACE THE APPETITES OF LIFE

Life is tender and rapacious. Everything is fuel for further life. Further growth.. Nothing that I experience counts for nothing. Everything – all joy, all loss, all grief, all grace – is an ingredient in the greater self that I am building. I am not alone. All sense of loneliness is forgetting. When I remember that I am part of Life, and Life is part of me, I am comforted. I see my value. I experience my worth. I allow the Universe to touch me with compassion, to cradle me with love. I am held in the Web of Life that I hold dear.

Held by nature

I go to nature

She seems to know me

Within her embrace

I feel my soul

Held safe

Within her soothing rhythms

Nature is the place

I free my heart from pain

If only for a while

Through the aliveness of breath and movement

I taste for a while

The sheer and vibrant joy

Of being awake and alive

Shedding my stories

For a while

Pain and grief still sometime rises

Like an irrefusable tide

As I bathe my soul awhile in their healing

And your nature poems m

Move me to love

With their gritty sinuous taste

Of nature

Resplendent with vibrancy and meaning

And for these precious sacred moments

I taste a while

The delicious flavour

Of a morsel of ecstacy

Bound

You bound me up inside the straight jacket

Of your own emotional neglect

And insecurities

So tightly that I could no longer

Feel my own lifeblood and breath

Moving through me

And if the spirit of us

All that is most pure, live and real

Resides inside the power of air

That we can ingest

Then in that way you locked me up

Within an airless tower

So far from human life intelligence

Understanding, empathy and love

So now as I walk trying to take back my power

Is it any wonder I cry

Mum I was there for you

By your side every time you were suffering

Holding the hands of you and my sisters

Crying for what was done to all of us

And yet you chose to give that power away

To your oldest son

Who was never there

Always ran

Always had to deny

True passion, depth and feeling

Is it any wonder I wised to die

A short time ago

When it became clear

He would cut me down and try to deny me

Anyway he could

Human warmth

Understanding love and connection

But he is not that strong

For even as his fear locks he and his family up

In a prison

Slowly and painfully I feel the stolen air

Returning to my lungs

With this flood of returning feeling

So powerful it will not longer be denied

This is why we suicide

Or throw our souls on a funeral pire

Just as these old age women

Venerated the cutting masculine force

That severed them from feeling

While weeping all alone in silence

What can we do to make an uprising?

Mothers you were left

Empty and vacant

Even incapable of understanding

The deep wounds your returning husbands bore

Under a heavy cloak of restriction and silence

And so the damage got enacted on us

You tried to cut me to shape

To fit your ideal of what

A ‘nice’ girl could be

But I was not born to the a domesticated servant

I am a woman

With the heart of a lion

And I will not longer consent to this silence

To this hopelessness

To this grief

Even as I and my spiritual siblings weep

Over what is being done to us

In this darkest age

Of growing inner despair

And emotional blindness

A powerful tide is rising

A wild fire is burning

That will not be refused

But this the returning power of

Light and feeling

Passion and fire

Must be used skillfully

To cut our bleeding heart

Of enslaved humanity

Free

Grateful to be alive

Even though some days living can feel crushing I am still grateful to be alive, especially on Saturdays.. In the letter Mum sent to me in 2001 that I found and read in therapy this week, she mentioned how painful the effect of my accident was on her and Dad but she said she could not have ever imagined how hard it was for me.. I think it also must have had an effect on my sister who has gone through so much, especially considering the fact that our other sister almost died, less than 6 months later and hovered for a long time in a state of suspension in a coma.. So the period of September to late February is fraught with a lot of past resonances that in terms of the spiral vortex of hidden inner life can still manage to have an impact.

There has been no word at all from my nephew about my sister.. I have not called either. I have just pulled back.. I know this may not be good but I just don’t want to do or say the ‘wrong’ thing and it is so hard to know what the ‘right’ thing is anyway and even writing those two words is pretty dualistic and black and white which is the way it can go when I get caught up on the mental level.. Maybe the truer statement is that, at this time I need all my own love and care to keep my own mental and physical health on an even keep. That is why lately just getting into my body and out of my head and negative or worrying thoughts seems essential and when trauma imprints call I just have to notice and anchor into the ‘Now’. Success with that today… I managed to stay upright after both breakfast and lunch today when the head neck lower back trauma cascade hit.. I am doing some of the vagal nerve exercises too that I found on line and that is helping me too…

My therapist thinks part of me.. a huge part did dissociate after that 1979 trauma and in 1981 I took myself away but got emotionally overwhelmed and in a difficult relationship. That is why, in 1982, when I pleaded with Dad to let me go back to my teaching degree it hit extra hard when he blocked that avenue alienating me from a lot of my good friends I had at the Canberra College of Education.. Possibly this kind of severing was a huge part of the reason why I later in life found it hard to feel like I ‘belonged’ and often took myself away or kept up a great distance from old connections. Luckily since coming back to my home town in 2011 I have been able to restores some of these..

As I see it any way so much goes silent in trauma and then gets displaced onto relationships or projections or appears as myriad mysterious bodily symptoms as well as profound push pull dynamics in attachment.. Lately I see how, as soon as I long to attach, I can fear and pull back and not being ‘got’ or seen can be a big trigger. What I began to realize only very recently is that it is not how the other person is reacting so much that is the problem but what that echoes for me of a past in terms of a flashback., when I can get a handle on that I can bring myself into present time and feel more grounded and ‘safe.’

Today maybe I felt safer in my body.. I was more self supportive and self loving when the shit hit the fan with Scott last night and this next demand for money.. I did not get that huge abandonment cascade of anxiety, I held myself and told myself I am safe.. I can cope alone and that I do not have to give away myself to be related to anyone.. I used to do that a lot. (give my self away or bury my painful feelings just to stay related). Then you get those who shame dump you or try to say you are being selfish for not doing things they need, that also can be a difficult issue to figure out for some of us with high levels of emotional confusion, alexithymia or poor ego boundaries..

Being able to manage these things does make it easier too, to want to live and feel gratitude for a life that comes with a deeper inner intuitive connection to our authentic self not so grounded or fed on toxic shame…. When we know somewhere deep down inside we are not getting what we need and are settling in order to keep the peace that can be damaging for both parties especially if we use various philosophies to deny the truth.. there seems to be a lot of that in our society.. platitudes people spout calling on some text or other that actually can derail us. What really is needed instead is for us to become even stronger in our own inner knowing as well as our connection to what others have called the higher self or loving inner parents, when those are no longer attacking us from within as much it becomes far more likely we will begin to feel more of the positive feelings in life that come with knowing our own heart, mind body and soul well and trusting that we really can and do have the answers to what helps and hurts us more under conscious control or encompassed by conscious present time awareness.

Painting ourselves as the victim : some thoughts

In childhood we are powerless over a lot of what happens to us.. John Bradshaw makes the point that a three year old child cannot pack his bags and leave home, though many of us try to do this when the frustration of it all gets too much.. Later in life we cannot always know either, what happened to us consciously, though it is my experience that our body remembers EVERYTHING. Later in life somatic memory is reliable if confusing as the messages get distorted.. Add to this the holding in and letting go. (expressing and depressing). I find sometimes I am not even aware I need to go to the toilet and Dad would often make us hold it all it on long trips, sometimes it was agonising.. He also denied when Mum was hurt and sometimes we got in trouble for being hurt for no fault of our own, or I was hurt by parental carelessness in leaving things like fishhooks lying around in sea grass matting, that time it pierced me right through the webbing of my big and second toes it was agony to get out.

A therapist once named this benign neglect. My parents did not have ill intentions though Mum flew into rages and could attack us, and then deny we were hurt… It made much sense to me when struggling in sobriety to see how I was abused when I came across the term Childhood Emotional Neglect coined by therapist Jonice Webb in her helpful book Running On Empty. I identified with all the ten symptoms of that that I have explored in other posts.

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/signs-you-may-have-been-emotionally-neglected/

However on my mind today after an outburst of feeling, sorrow and regret over things happening at the end of my marriage and in a second relationship is the way we can stay as a ‘victim’ and trapped in a false sense of helplessness and powerlessness. My ‘mate’ Alex from Evolution of Self often says to me “no one wants to be the villain, only the victim” and that can be true.. Truer is we WERE VICTIMS at one time but if we take that on as an identity later in life its not only toxic but can be lethal. How can we take positive action if we feel powerless all of the time? How can we fight for our right to be if we do not develop healthy self fighting boundaries? And what if all of that was not only punished but shamed? A LOT OF RELIGION DOES THIS.. WE HAVE TO FIND A HEALTHY EGO BEFORE WE CAN SURRENDER IT IN APPROPRIATE WAYS.

In AA we are not returned to our full power all of the time though we are encouraged to do a lot of work with grandiosity or the taking on of burdens not ours.. The truth is co-dependents just naturally take on the suffering of others.. We may be conditioned to do it in childhood. Today I thought driving home from the markets of how drowning in sorrow I have been pretty much since 2001 I also saw it is not the truth of me almost like a split between these two parts of me is now becoming more obvious 27 years into trying to recover WHO MY SPIRIT ORDAINED ME TO BE…

I am not a sad person really, I am happy full of joy and exhuberance and love life.. I don’t truly fear my fellow humans but the child in me learned to fear and then never got to set GOOD BOUNDARIES or develop A HEALTHY FUNCTIONING EGO. something Spartan Life Coach, Richard Grannon deals with in this video posted a few days ago.

That ego building work is still going on for me.. With a very very strong Neptunian influence in my chart the urge to self sacrifice is often stronger.. I can take in the badness or other feelings others dump in me and then I get used to being erased and will often take on the other’s burden.. . It was hard to fight back with a feeling I had no right to. .One of the friends of my past emotionally abusive partner said to me, at the end of our on again off again 7 year relationship.. “Phil used you like a bar of soap to wash his dirty hands clean.”

But you know what? I can understand his frustration, he wanted an adult partner not a baby who was innundated and crying all the time. He liked the vital alive kick arse part of me but not my vulnerability, that said I needed to weld the two parts and everything that happened and I now see that those 7 years with him was meant to be, leading towards the call for me to become more fully embodied. We both carried hidden aspects of each other’s shadows.

I actually felt like calling Phil today.. Its coming up to so many anniversaries.. the anniversary of Mum dying, of Dad getting operated on and quickly dying after it, of Phil and I separating, of Jonathan and I returning from overseas.. and so its no wonder I still cry and cry.. I need those tears to acknowledge my truth though people are more likely to congratulate you on being strong than in falling into the wound but it TAKES COURAGE TO FALL INTO THE WOUND AND GET YOURSELF BACK OUT AGAIN.. SOME PEOPLE (INCLUDING PHIL) FIND THAT TOO HARD TO DO. So they savage others in the vulnerable place instead of acknowledging it to help the other person get back out of it. and yes WE MUST DO THE WORK BUT NOT WITHOUT HELP OR NECESSARY VALIDATION!!!

I might be someone who helps too much. I just do not know. Having given so much to help Scott I do question all of the time what that was really about, on some levels it seems unhealthy and wrong and then on another it makes sense..

The other issue though has been to do with seeing myself as a victim of my mother and sister in those difficult years after Jonathan left. I was crying today because at one time I savaged my sister via email after she tried to trounce all over me at the coast where I was taking refuge in my unintegrated pain and then I ran off overseas only to have a head injury after which in some way I tried to pin it on her treatment of me, instead of how I responded….. by running…

The last thing I want to do is paint myself as a victim, thus this post to try and work through my part in why my sister is still ill.. Does some of the blame belong to me? I am not sure, this may be me taking on something too much and the purpose of what i write here is not so much to gain an audience as it is to use this in therapy with Kat each week, while possibly opening up the inner processing to others using WordPress in this way. I just am trying to own I may have played a part in it by continuing to blame her and my Mum even as they were innocently trying to help, never able to fully take on board the pain of my CEN history.. that is all.. So here goes.. I will be happy to share this all with Kat tomorrow… and get an outside perspective.

On fear : befriending and working with it

The following insights on making friends with fear are taken from Chapter 7 of Miriam Greenspan’s wonderful book Healing Through the Dark Emotions : TheWisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair.

Befriending fear in a fear negating culture is essential if we want to use this emotion wisely. To do this, we have to be aware of our negative, limiting beliefs about fear, and to reconstruct and affirm a new set of beliefs.

We cannot be warriors of vulnerability, if we think fear is a shameful, debilitating emotion… Think of fear, not as a weakness, but as information, a signal of unsafety, a usable energy, a way of knowing… What fear tells us is that we are human. We are vulnerable. You are interconnected with others in the fabric of life. You can let yourself feel fear, breathe through it, and use its energy. You don’t have to let fear become panic by avoiding it. You can feel it and let it be, and doing so can open the gates to joy.

These affirming statements about fear may seem dubious. Honouring fear and treating it like a legitimate emotion can be uncomfortable, and feel ‘wrong’. Affirming the value of fear requires a kind of revolution within, to transform the fear negating culture we have internalised.

Try this : Write a list of fear affirming statements and pin them on your bedroom or bathroom mirror or some other place you look often. Changing what you believe about what you feel is one of the most impotant ways to shift an old emotional pattern. Psychologists call this “reframing” and its one of the important skills in the alchemy of the dark emotions.

The following questions might help you frame your fear affirmations.

What fears have you faced? What did you gain from facing them?

If your answer to that question is “none’, ask yourself Why not? What got in the way of facing your fears?

Think of a time when you felt paralysed by fear. What kept you from moving through it? What, if anything, helped?

Think of a time when you acted in spite of fear or acted with fear. What happened?

What did you learn?

What fear(s) are you holding in now? What fears are you avoiding? Aht do you think would happen if you let yourself feel them.

Following this, try the following sentence completions:

If fear didn’t scare me, I would use it to……

The resources and strenghth I now have to face my fears creatively are…

When I view fear as a teacher, I learn…..

Something productive I can do with my fear is…..

Changing your shaming beliefs about fear creates an opening, a place in the heart where fear can live without wrecking your self esteem and composure. The open heart can befriend fear and is ready for alchemy.

Getting it touch with fear in your body and soothing it is the next step….hang in and use mindfulness of what it feels like and stay with the discomfort without acting it out (unless you are in real danger) Consciously experience it and talk to it in a soothing way and to find out what it has to say..

The third step is to find the context of fear.. Say you have a fear of heights, in that situation you question exactly what it is you are afraid of : falling and dying, being out of control, fear of uncertainty. Try to find the peace inside that fear, if you cannot control the time of your death what can you control?… fear of death may underline much of our anxiety.. The antidote is to recognise it is inevitable but not always likely… what might it mean to live well, with a fear of death? And if the fear is in response to a real threat what can you do to minimise the threat, what action can you take or changes can you make? What is one simple thing you could do to make things a little better?

The fourth step : mindfullness of fear is related to feeling it in the body….and relates to tolerating fear as a part of life while using a meditation practice to be with it and breathe it in, instead of push it away or avoid it.. taking fear into our heart we may even find a part of us so scared just in need of some love and kind words. Tonglen, a spiritual practice shared by Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron asks us to breathe in fear and breathe out joy. This practice gives an antidote to the ‘spiritual bypass’ of many New Age practices and involves alchemising the dark and primal. If we avoid painful feelings we only end up creating more pain and suffering.. When we react or lash out, out of fear things never improve, we just get trapped in a further cycle of suffering.

The fifth step is related to taking action in the context of fear. Finding out the things that fear or upset us may promote us to take positive action to make a change.

The sixthe step involves the path of surrender, it comes after looking fear in the face and seeing it for what it is.. Prayer may be a part of the path of surrender, this is the practice of handing over what seems too much for us to a higher power or place of faith. Here are some helpful prayers.

May I accept my fear. May my fear guide me to do the right thing.

Help me when I am afraid, not to be afraid of my fear. Help me allow it to move me to an action in service of life.

When all else fails find some comic diversion.. taking a break from fear to laugh and experience joy provides an antidote to the suffocation and heaviness of spirit fear can bring about in our lives…..

Fear of Insanity Narcissism and Denial of Feeling : more insights from Alexander Lowen

the experience of horror (in childhood) makes one question one’s sanity.  What one is experiencing does not make sense, it doesn’t accord with one’s image of reality which even a baby has on a biological level.  To avoid the resulting mental confusion, one must dissociate and deny all feelings.  As long as one sticks to logic, one is safe.  But feelings are life, and one cannot fully avoid emotional experiences no matter how coolly one plays it.  The narcissist faces the risk of being overwhelmed by feelings and going wild, crazy, or mad, should his defence of denial break down.  This is especially true of anger. Every narcissist is afraid of going crazy, because the potential for insanity is in his personality.  This fear reinforces the denial of feeling creating a vicious cycle.

Reading the above paragraph again in Lowen’s book today gave me more insight into my brother, who threatened to walk out on me last October when I got angry with him.  It reminded me of terrifying incidents he faced in childhood and of how my father did pretty harsh things to him as a boy as his own childhood had been similarly harsh.  I was in tears again last week after yet another conversation with my brother where we was working as hard as he could to split off all expression of emotion.  I usually leave every interaction with him crying or disturbed in some way.  Now instead of feeling angry I  just feel really sad for him as I don’t ever think he will look at the roots of his own workaholism.  Once again I shed heaps of tears after I got off the phone on Thursday.  It is not that he is an unkind person either, all time the conversation revolved around helping my sister and I to get the best interest possible on the money Mum has left us.

It is now never the less a great comfort to me to be able to say I now know I am not crazy and I know why his side of the family have sidelined me before as well as other members of my family, looking upon us with such distain and disapproval due to our emotions.  That said I am also aware of the charge of anger that I have carried which I know I inherited from my mother’s side of the family.

Collapsing into a state of helplessness may be one response to such terror or violence in childhood.  Flight or fight may be two other  responses but both the later would often be blocked by an abusive parents.  Escaping or fighting back may be shamed or made  impossible as was the case of Bill whose story Lowen covers in Chapter 7 of this book.

Bill did not feel any anger.  He denied his anger, just as he denied his fear.  Instead, he adopted an attitude of submission and attempted to understand the irrational behaviour of his father, and others,  His submission to his father may have had a lifesaving value, but almost cost him his life.  (Bill was later on nearly killed by a hitchhiker he and a friend picked up on the side of the road who began to attack them.)

Lowen explains how Bill then came to fear his own anger.

(he).. believed that if he lost his head he might kill someone.  But to lose your head is equivalent to going crazy. Bill was terrified of the potential craziness in himself as he was of the craziness of others.  When I made this interpretation to him he remarked, “Now I know why I became a psychiatrist.”

Not everyone will be able to contain their rage from such incidents, others will act it out.  Lowen tells the story of David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam”, serial killer who murdered 6 and wounded 7 others.

What then are the dynamics that precipitate a seemingly sane person into insane action? … there must be some subconscious force.. This force is the denied feeling of anger.  Because the anger is denied, it is not experienced, which would give he person some control over it.

Many narcissists develop an ego unconscious split in these circumstance which means at times such subconscious forces can erupt and cause havoc or be projected on others.  Such and effect is called flooding…. an overwhelming feeling or excitation which ..”(temporarily drowns us)…in the torrent of sensation.  Imagine a river overflowing its banks and sweeping across the surrounding country side.  In a similar way the gush of feeling wipes out normal boundaries of the self, making it difficult for the person to distinguish between inner and outer reality.  Reality becomes confused and nebulous….. (there is a sense of) nothing solid to cling on to.  The person feels ‘at sea,’ estranged.

Such estrangement is not dissimilar to dissociation although Lowen compares it to disorientation.   The flooding of something we held down can make us dizzy, it may erase normal consciousness for a time.  It may well be what we experience in a panic attack (repressed or split off lively life energy or anger).  We can also be overwhelmed by pleasant sensations and if our sense of happiness or joy was also supressed or shamed in childhood we can begin to get fearful of insanity when we start to feel energised or even happy.

In the bioenergetic therapy Lowen used feelings which have been repressed or shut down are helped to liberate by the therapist who assists in the process so flooding and disorientation is not as intense as it would be if we were misunderstood or unsupported in the process.

The problem is that those damaged in childhood continue to carry split off emotions such as anger and sadness into adulthood, we may even attract relationships with others who act them out for us or vice versa, one partner can then pretend they are okay, it’s just their partner that is the problem.

Lowen points out in his book Narcissism : Denial of the True Self the connection between being called ‘mad’ (as in insane) when one is actually angry.

To say a person is mad may mean that person is either crazy or angry.  What this tells us is that anger is not an acceptable emotion.  Children are taught very early on to curb their anger; often they are punished if, in the course of an angry reaction, they hurt someone.  Disputes, they are admonished should be settled amicably and with words.  The ideal is to have reason prevail over action.

But conflicts can not always be settled amicably, with reasoning.   Tempers may flare.  I don’t mean one has to resort to physical violence to express an angry feeling.  Anger can be expressed in a look or by the tone of one;s voice.  Once can assert with feeling.  “I am angry with you.”  Some situations do call for the physical expression of anger.  If violence is used on you it may be appropriate to fight back.  Without the right to strike when one is hit, one feels powerless and humiliated.  We have seen what that can do to the personality.

I strongly believe that if children were allowed to voice their anger at their parent’s whenever they felt they had a legitimate grievance, we would see far fewer narcissistic personalities.  Giving a child this right would allow a real respect for the child’s feelings.

Lowen goes on to site an experience of watching a Japanese woman being hit by her daughter in anger.  He explains how in Japan a child is never disciplined before the age of 6 because they are regarded to be innocent  and such children don’t end up disrespectful or misbehaving.  However when the right of angry expression is denied a child it has an adverse impact and then there are the parents who cannot express their own anger with a child in a healthy way and use punishment instead.  Lowen doesn’t negate the need for discipline, only the use of power and control in the face of a child the parent does not have a healthy way of relating to and helping to develop emotionally.

Such repression of anger in a person in childhood means anger stays present in the person’s system much later in life.  In his bioenergetic therapy Lowen helps patient to discharge repressed anger so that it does not stay trapped inside.  However as he points out, the fear of ones anger and belief it will prove one is insane is a difficulty that many narcissistically injured person’s face on the path to healing.

For narcissists to know themselves, they have to acknowledge their fear of insanity and to sense the murderous rage inside that they identify with insanity.  But they can only do this if the therapist is aware of those elements and is not afraid of them.  I find it helpful to point out to my patients that what they believe is insane – namely, their anger – is in fact sense if they can accept it.  In contrast, their behaviour without feeling, which they regard as sane,is really crazy.

The behaviour without feeling that Lowen mentions here in fact leads to the growing or development of what he calls a thick skin, a protective defensive layer which will allow no real feeling for self or others in those with a narcissistic defence,

such denial is achieved by deadening the surface to stimuli, its effect is to rigidify the ego.  … the result is a diminishing of the ego’s capacity to respond emotionally to reality or to change reality in line with one’s feelings.. the ego’s safety lies in a deadened body, with little emotion.  Yet this very deadening creates a hunger for sensation, leading to the hedonism typical of a narcissistic culture.

But true feeling is then increasingly hidden behind a façade and the building charge of need and hidden feeling is defended against.  Thus addictions come to play a role in diverting attention from the truth.

By contrast those who develop a borderline defence to such negation actually become excessively thin skinned, unable to throw off hurts lodged deep inside from the past often from unfeeling narcissists.  Their work is to understand the source of pain and not project it onto the present, understanding how deeply its roots lie hidden in an often unconscious past.

 

 

 

 

I want your body

No. I don’t mean this in a purely sexual way.  What I am talking of here is how in this world where so much is getting electronic, ethereal or digital and how our mind creates all kinds of stories and trips is of how the body is often left far behind and we lose touch with the need to just ‘BE’ with another body.  Relating face to face.

Okay maybe a lot of this yearning of mine is currently coming to mind as I realise how disconnected I had to be from my own body when trauma hit so as to not feel the full onslaught or of how it was at the tender age of 17 when the prospect of an embodied relationship with a male sparked so much fear lodged in me from a Catholic education which taught me to despise or demonize the female body.  I had my car crash on the back of my first sexual awakening that got aborted and now my therapist believes at 56 I am starting to need to re do my adolescence as so much got stolen from me then.

Well the man who has shown up in my life is online.  He is signed up with the forces till March and may only possibly be able to get out early due to a medical issues and we have made this connection since mid March 2018 which has just been growing and deepening but the frustration is we cannot meet.  I know my Mars energy is burbling from the basement as Mars goes retrograde for two months on 25 – 26 of June which is the anniversary of my second accident in 2005 on the first anniversary of my husband’s decision to leave me.  Ours was never a deeply sexual relationship.  In many ways we were like brothers and sister or twin souls.  We both lost our Dads in our early 20s and were then left by our partners.  When we met this wound bonded us. But when I went on to do my healing my husband wanted me NOT TO GO THERE and so things broke apart for a reason.  That does not mean I didn’t grieve so deeply the loss of my ex husband and our new life in England, actually its taken all of these past 13 years to come to terms with things and to see ours was never going to be a life time relationship and that this wound was just the repeat theme of three other broken hearts I suffered from 23 to age 29.

Now I am so happy to have another opportunity at love.  I don’t want to blow it and luckily I am able to be fully honest with this new friend of mine especially on a day like yesterday when the Mars frustration was reminding me of how it was to be trapped inside a crushed car unable to breathe with pieces of metal inside me and collapsed lung bleeding pleura into surrounding tissue after having been pierced by a broken rib.  And a guy behind me with an oxygen mask I was trying to fight off.  All of that trauma got retriggered following a cranio session back in the UK in June 2005 and I ended up smashed and cut open again waking up after lost time with a paramedic again hovering over me in an ambulance.  Scary shit.  Plus I was 12,000 miles from home all alone.

Love is scary for me.  I know that now but what is scarier is facing a life without the opportunity to experience a fully embodied love in skin.  Today I got a call from my sis asking me for a coffee which was so so great, as some of you know she just got out of hospital after 6 weeks of treatment for anxiety and depression.  We met in the arcade my Mum used to run down alone on those afternoons after school when she had no one, the arcade where my parent’s first business a continental deli was in the 1950s. I made a real effort to get there, cause I know my sis is trying so hard to live again after hospital and all of her grief.  Her husband also left her in 2010 so we know a similar heartache.  We don’t talk much of these things but just being with her was good.   There was so much silent history there too, but some of my resentment is fading these days.

I want to grasp every opportunity there is to connect, share time and really live after so  many years spent in the wilderness.   I want to be in a body and relate to others in bodies in a really present way.   I really want to full embrace life, warts and all, knowing my body and psyche has the ability to withstand all of the onslaughts and the courage to summon up and face my deepest fears while answering with love : body to body, face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul.