Deep despair : on pain and being swallowed by the whale

I couldn’t even log on to WordPress yesterday.  I have not had one of those killer days that leaves me feeling like my body won’t function and my mind is in hock for some time now and I guess the only light I saw yesterday when I was in that deepest of dark spaces was shone by the part of me that saw how far I had come before my recent dental surgery in that in the past year I can count on one hand those days of darkness and despair, where as in the years before they were frequent and often crippling.

Yesterday the crush was back.  People who don’t suffer from Complex PTSD or depression never understand what an all encompassing prison it is, nor how powerful are the physical effects.  It was interesting to hear an interview yesterday with a woman who  has written a book on pain which speaks of how difficult it is in modern times for us to find powerful language for pain.  In years gone by pain was less feared and shunned as it is in modern times, people expressed pain metaphorically through poetry and other mediums, but in modern times when both physical and emotional pain has reached epidemic proportions what this woman has found is that we struggle to express pain and also we struggle to have it heard.  We are asked what scale of pain we are experiencing on a 1 to 10 spectrum.  We distance ourselves from the crushing reality of it with numbers which objectify what is a total spectrum experience that can overpower so many of us and affects us so profoundly and wordlessly on every single dimension of our being and experience.

The sad thing her research also found it that the more deeply you experience pain both physical and psychological, the less you are helped.   Often people are shunned if they are grieving or suffering psychologically or in pain.  Is it that others fear other’s pain will kill or contaminate them in some way?   Is pain now a modern leprosy?

The truth is that if we have suffered pain and suffer pain we fare better if we can communicate about it and be shown empathy.   This power of empathy to alter neurochemistry is something I drew attention to in a post last week.

As I write this I am also aware how hard deep pain is to articulate well.   Poetry or stream of consciousness writing are two forms in which through metaphor writers and sufferers try to articulate what Van Morrison has called ‘the inarticulate speech of the heart’.  Much of the appeal of the WordPress blogging community for me is that here others whose souls have been drenched in pain of different kinds make the attempt to reach out and share that deep distress or pain.  Often poems and blogs I read resonate with me so deeply in a way beyond which even therapy helps at times.

As a blogger I know how much I have feared at times sharing deep pain on my blog.   It has been hard to post those posts in which a lot of frustration fury and anger with my family’s lack of feeling and empathy with deeper emotional realities has caused me.   Often I have felt great fear and then the inner critic has lept  in and made me take blogs down.  But the price of staying silent and keeping it shut in, often in the end proves too high.  I always feel better if I can give expression in some form to my own pain.

Yesterday wasn’t one of those days.  I wasn’t capable of much.  I think I was reliving yesterday every single crushing injury, invalidation and painful experience of my life, culminating with the piece de resistance, the removal of my front tooth that supported a four tooth bridge, now gone, never to be seen again just over 10 days ago.  Yesterday I was contemplating the steps to take to get my affairs in order to shift off this mortal coil finally.  It’s not something I felt I could share yesterday, as I didn’t want to ‘disappoint’ my followers, having recently read a post in which someone said they could not read posts that discussed suicide as an intention.

However in the interests of honesty and authenticity, that was where I found myself yesterday, in a dark deep and wordless place in which inarticulate pain had nearly buried me alive.  Beyond sharing that today, I don’t have any other words.  I have shared so much of my pain on here and I really prefer not to be in pain, as we all do, and yet at times that is where I am returned,  a modern Jonah swallowed deep inside the belly of a whale sunk, deep, deep down to the bottom of a murky ocean.   At those times I can only hold fast inside, hoping in time the whale will resurface and I will find myself, head above water and able once again to gain sight of blue sky or dry land.

 

Yes – we have an epidemic of depression

Yes, we have an epidemic of depression in our society today.  But truthfully, how could anyone today on some level not be sad?  The gap between how beautiful life can be and the way it too often is is heartbreaking. Anyone who is not on some level grieving the state of the world today is perhaps not looking very deeply.

We are depressed today because life is off. We’re depressed because too often we have no sense of our place in the universe, our relationship to the source of existence, a deeper sense of purpose in our relationships with other human beings, or any sense of reverence toward any aspect of life.  Our entire civilisation is ruled more by fear than by love.

Marianne Williamson

From Tears to Truimph

I am sharing this quote because so often in our society being depressed can be looked on as a moral failing or weakness but the deeper truth that I experience is that so often those who are depressed are those who can have a vision that is more closely in touch with the depths of a soul that suffered.  Pathologising people for depression is such a serious issue and we need to change it.

Undergoing abuse or despair or loss or abandonment leaves real scars on the soul and these are trying to make their expression heard in depression, so we need to listen with empathy to people’s real heartbreak and support them with feeling and expressing it.

I know I go on about this issue a lot on my blog but I feel very strongly about it and today I was triggered again to write this as a family member shared with me a horrific abuse she went through which she shared with her parents only not to be believed years ago.  I cannot share what it was on my blog as it is a private issue for her but I was so outraged when I heard what she had suffered and she has had a number of hospitalisations as a result.  If she had been supported, believed and empathised with at the time and her trauma dealt with she would never have had to be diagnosed with a  so called ‘mental illness’.

Turns out now certain teachers at her school are now trying to imply her son should be diagnosed with a speech impediment or with Asperger’s, she has also been told that he is ‘too caring’.  What the fucking hell is happening in our society?  Anyone who does not meet the mainstream, anyone who is sensitive or carrying certain different ways of being or processing information is then wacked with a diagnosis?  It is just pure craziness and makes me feel ill, it really truly does.

I felt so angry with my brother yesterday after finding out what he put my niece through all of those years ago.  I felt so ashamed that he is my brother but it now makes a lot of sense of how numbed out he is and apparently he has not one memory of his childhood.  It makes clear to me that we can only have empathy if we are connected to our own emotional reality and have a connection to our heart, feelings, pain, joy and happiness.   Of course we all live in separate skins and our experiences vary so often we cannot see things from another perspective, but to imply then that someone is lying or making something up, due to the fact it may rock our own view on things without making the effort to reach out and extend our minds and hearts in openness to me seems wrong.

This morning I have been thinking about what it comes to mean and how it affects us if we are not truly seen in childhood.  I opened my Hope for Today reader and read this reading a few moments ago :

Before Al Anon I had a false sense of self.  Because of their diseases my alcoholic father and mother who grew up in an alcoholic home couldn’t see themselves clearly.  They weren’t able to help me either.  As I grew up I sensed that my parents couldn’t see me at all.  I felt invisible and voiceless  I had no idea of my likes and dislikes, let alone what I would or would not accept in a relationship.  I felt empty inside.  When there did seem to be something inside me it felt like someone else’s experience.

The reading goes onto explain how slowly the person began to recover a sense of themselves by working through the steps of and learning about who they truly were inside.  About how doing so enabled them to throw off the criticism of their father and the feeling they were given by their mother that they were nothing but a burden.  By seeing themselves no longer through someone else’s eyes but through their own they slowly began to reclaim a sense of self.

It seems to me that the most important work of recovery lies in the inward journey of becoming more conscious of who we are and what we really feel independent of outside influence of what parents, education or society tries to tell us we are or should be.    Keeping our focus on our own heart is so important, as is recognising the value and meaning of our instinctive reactions to things, lest we be hoodwinked or bamboozled by others who in being damaged themselves try to force us away from certain responses or reactions.  The integrity of our soul when compromised in this way causes us so much confusion and unrest.

Luckily for my niece she understands her parents damage, not having essential needs met though has caused deep loneliness and suffering for her.  Through out it all, over years she has learned to rely on herself, but that self reliance at times has left her so alone.  Our lives have similar themes.   Her own suffering has made her wise.   Wise enough now not to take on the advice of psychologists recommending she have her son tested so to be diagnosed and labelled.  In this increasingly insane society it seems to me we need to keep our wits about us lest we fall for much of the clap trap that is being espoused.  We have to be strong and rely on the guidance of our deepest souls so as not to be bamboozled or led astray and if we were not seen and validated in childhood we need to address and heal that wound so that we no longer surrender ourselves to false outside definitions which keep us in locked in prison.

Reflections on empathy, forgiveness and narcissism

I am prompted to write this after some comments on a post a wrote about forgiveness for our mothers.  I am aware that forgiving someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge hurtful things they do and has no interest in changing is the most unhealthy option for our own physical, emotional and spiritual health at certain points in our healing and recovery journey.  I think that when those who hurt us show no remorse or deliberately choose to remain unconscious its in our own health not to keep going back to have the rug pulled out from underneath us again and forgiving such behaviour is damaging for us.

When I attended AA and studied the Big Book which outlines a course of healing others have found and worked through via the 12 steps the way in which we were advised to handle this kind of thing was to be aware that the person concerned was spiritually and emotionally unwell themselves. We were advised to hand over our hurt so that it didn’t rebound on us and to pray for the person.  We were encouraged to recognise that we need not take on the hurt they were unconsciously enacting upon us.  That said it is not always an easy thing to do, brushing off hurt most particularly when that person may have been a parent, the very one that as a youngster we most needed to rely upon for empathy, guidance, validation and support.

Just think about that word validation for a moment.  It concerns the implicit idea that who we are and what we feel has value and meaning for us.  If we are repeatedly told that what we feel, say, think or do has no value, if we are acting purely out of our own sense of self that is authentic, that is a deep spiritual wound and it is damaging.  It can leave us with lasting scars that may or may not be conscious or unconscious.

But if you think about it more deeply, how people react to, treat and respond to us often has little to do with us but more do to with their own relationship to their inner world.  If a person was taught that feelings have no value, how are they going to honour yours?  If they haven an investment in you being, doing or acting in a different way, a way that doesn’t evoke their own wounds, black spots or scars how will they value what you do and who you really are when you are just trying to express yourself from an authentic place?

Can we forgive when we realise the other person is just a wounded, disconnected person who perhaps never had the benefit of inner sight or consciousness.  To my mind when we do this it shows we are showing empathy for them.   We are recognising that not everyone has access to all parts of themselves and not everyone is interested in self inquiry or self questioning.

As someone who never really got to develop a totally secure sense of self, it is also apparent to me that many of us, wounded in childhood go the other way.  Lacking a secure sense of self which involves being connected to feelings, needs and emotions in a healthy way we lack necessary spiritual muscles and an inner voice of self affirmation and so we tend to question, second guess or criticise ourselves all the time.

If someone acts badly towards us, instead of getting upset we may question if we did something to cause that hurt and if we look back to childhood we may have been accused of hurting others when really what we did had no malicious intent and was necessary for self care or self protection.

It is a common fact that people who suffer from an unhealthy narcissism never tend to look too deeply inside to question if what they did impacted on others in a hurtful way.  The narcissistically wounded would prefer to blame outside events, rather than look to any contributing cause that lies within themselves.  They may get easily offended if others question or criticise them in any way.  They find it hard to keep an open mind and also lack necessary empathic skills that would help them to know that other’s reality at times differs from their own.  They lack the capacity to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

So often my own therapist reminds me when I go to her in a fit of remorse over some way I may have acted that lacked insight, saying “Oh God, I am just sure I am a narcissist”, she will remind me that we are all somewhere on that spectrum and that my own need to question my behaviour shows I don’t really have NPD.

Knowing that what we feel and need has value is important to our ongoing health as individuals.  Being able to stand up for these thing in a way that doesn’t ride roughshod over others is a huge part of becoming a mature adult who is able to live and relate in a world where opinions, feelings and needs of everyone vary widely.  Being able to hold onto our own reality when other’s reality varies is at times important.  Being able to open up to and encompass new points of view which take us beyond previously limited ones is important too.

At the outset of writing this particular post I actually titled it “If I had been allowed to feel and know and need what I really felt, knew and needed”, because having had my tooth out today has brought up so many previous experiences of feeling I was acted on by powerful others whose domination eclipsed my own view.  Perhaps due to the fact that the last time I the former dental bridge reconstruct I was emotionally abused by my ex for expressing the pain and so disturbing his sleep.  I had taken myself off into the toilet so as not to wake him up and had woke him up and so I got a ‘serve’.   I was not conscious that this memory was about but over the past few days abusive incidents I suffered at his hands are coming to consciousness.

In my life trying to play small so as to avoid abuse has not served me well.  Learning to swallow down or override what I truly feel, need and want has caused me so much pain.  Not being able to be with safe others who let me express my feelings has caused me so much damage and it made me SO ANGRY for a time, but then I was in trouble for being offensive for expressing that.  NO WONDER I WAS PISSED OFF.  Now I know that how I felt was real.  For a lot of my life I suffered invalidation abuse.  I was not allowed to feel and know what I felt and knew.  But the pain of that was what led me to here.  It formed the genesis of this blog in many ways.

Today I took a Panadol for the pain I am in.  I decided not to suffer more. Choosing to remove ourselves from harsh, unloving environments is similar.   Recovery means we recognise the damage that was done and call it damage.  But recovery also means we put a stop to further damage through self care, validating who we are, what we know and how we feel and showing wisdom as to who will and wont do the same.  Forgiveness for the abusers may not be necessary, but holding onto the pain can hurt.  Perhaps what I should be talking about in my blog is letting go, rather than forgiveness, letting go of the pain so that we can embrace peace, healing and recovery for ourselves.

 

When our grief is hidden : reflections on finding and feeling our feelings

Pema

I read a long time ago in one of my favourite books on the planet Saturn that Moon Saturn contacts show a person whose emotions so often get buried or hidden deep in the body, they become what is called ‘somatised’.  Feelings that cannot be acknowledged or understood in childhood by our closet emotional caregivers, feelings we get left alone with become over time inaccessible to conscious awareness.  If we are shamed or meet prohibitions against feeling them it is even worse.  Now we are most certainly not only not allowed to have them but if we do we feel ashamed, we feel wrong and we feel bad and we then become conditioned to self reject and those feelings get mixed up.  Just writing that last sentence makes me very, very angry.   What a terrible predicament for a child or anyone really to go through as without access to our true feelings we suffer and get twisted in our deepest spirit and soul.

Come to think about it, this shaming or disallowing of feeling relates not only to individuals but to wider collective and social influences around how a culture allows the expression and working through feelings around death, loss and endings.  In a book which I believe won the Purlitzer Prize by Ernest Becker called The Denial of Death attention was bought to how much our culture since the middle ages has been arranged around the repression and denial of death, as well as by the seeking of power and control over nature and natural cycles which oh so naturally contain a death/decay component as part of the intrinsic wholeness of the life cycle.

It’s not a far step from here to see how the entire issue of grief and grieving becomes complex. Grief confronts us with our powerless and helplessness, it is a painful reminder of the depth of love and connection or attachment we feel towards what is lost.  Expressing grief over our true losses is essential to the integrity, truth and honesty of our soul.   And a soul whose grief is blocked becomes a kind of ghost, forever haunted by the spectral shadow memory and essence/imprints of feelings disallowed that hover in a far off place waiting to return or be called home leaving the self vacant and hollowed out, hungering, wandering and wondering endlessly what is really wrong, casting shadows upon real feelings that disallowed now have become invisible and mute and deeply confusing, only later to emerge in illness.

If I had one purpose in my life I feel it would be to be a grief crusader.  I would want to be the one out there saying, don’t bury your grief, don’t hide from it, allow it a place in your life.  Dis those people who shower you with platitudes in the midst of your grief due to their own problematic relationship with feeling powerless.  Honour your grief, don’t feel like it will kill you…..although I know how painful it can be to feel it, how feeling it often feels as though your soul’s skin is burned or seared by a fire whose white heat seems almost impossible to withstand.  Hold yourself there in the midst of those flames and let grief do its work.  Rage if you need to in the midst of that process if that is what your soul demands for a time as part of the process of letting go or what helps you recognise your deepest truth and authenticity.

Friend

Because this cry of mine speaks not only for grief but for other feelings too.  Maybe it is not your grief but your anger and sense of protest you have buried, maybe it is your own deep need for personal authenticity or agency that was stolen or given away over the course of your years, if so that is where you work lays, in the reclaiming of it even amidst the giant wave of repression and misunderstanding that so often meets you both from forces without so often internalised within.

And seek those who understand their own feelings.  That is most important.  Gravitate towards the ones who will honour rather than deny your authentic feelings, those who have the courage and heart to look more deeply below the surface of the so called ‘real’, for it seems to me that in modern society we have so sorely lost our way over years from our authenticity of soul.  Yeats said it well in these few lines written just a few years after the end of the First World War.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

We need to find a centre that can hold our hearts open in the midst of this falling apart process and maybe they are meant to fall apart. W B Yeat’s poem may have been about the grief he must have felt watching as forces of avarice and destruction were unleashed during those horrible years of devastation on battle fields of Europe, and yet were not each of our families in some way impacted upon by this war?   My own grandfather fought on the Western Front and returned, he was only 16 when he joined up.  He died when he was in his 30s of war related injuries and like him so many men returned unable to speak of what they endured suffering such deep wounds and scars then called shell shock.  They were deep in a wordless grief and complex trauma buried deep in cells that vibrated with the unspoken anguish, how many of us in later years also carry these imprints or the suffer the ripple effects as they have played out across generations?

So now, please let our grief be grief.  Let it not be turned against others as vengeance or buried and then turned against them and ourselves in criticism or misunderstanding or shame or unending resentment.  Let our true tears fall, let them soften our hearts and let them nurture for the rest of our lives tiny seeds of strength, tolerance, fairness, honesty, understanding, wisdom, empathy and love so that was is hidden in the dark and has gone mute can finally find some light, freedom, release and air, a magnificent falcon set free to fly.

 

Sorting out the mixed up world of repressed and shame bound feelings

Bradshaw

When we are young and go through deep feelings of being abandoned, being left alone or are traumatised by big feelings of others or left without sufficient mirroring and empathy for our feelings we develop a deficit in our capacity to make sense of these feelings as well as express them.  Our feelings are still held deep inside and stored in our bodies but at the same time we form defences against feeling them and the pain or liberation that may bring.

We also live in a shame bound society and feeling wounded culture that so often fails to identify and acknowledge certain feelings, most especially painful ones such as sadness, anger, shame and fear.  Therefore the shame component of repressed, invalidated feelings grows huge for many of us.  John Bradshaw in his excellent book Healing the Shame That Binds You explained in great detail how and why feelings we are taught to repress or meet with difficulty in being expressed or felt in dysfunctional families get shame bound.  This means that as we evolve we develop an arrested feeling self.  In this state of shame biding even the threat or whiff off feeling a certain feeling brings up the most intense shame or inward self criticism.

We cover this shame over or react to the emergence of shame bound feelings with defences in our mind, most of which form the inner critic who then attacks the feelings as well as us for having them, telling us all kinds of lies and untruths about what a bad or damaged person we are when the deeper truth is that we are really out of relationship with a most vital and alive part of ourselves.

Bradshaw 3

When we being the difficult emotional uncovery work of feeling our feelings in therapy, recovery, sobriety or healing this is when the inner critic will step in and try to protect us from feeling them in some way.  To the inner critic who formed to keep us safe in unsafe family or social environments the emergence of repressed feeling is cause for major panic and alarm, all the critic can see is that we are breaking out of a safe holding space.

The critic often forms in childhood to keep us safe from the parent or a world we have come to believe would be hostile to our true expression of feeling.  Add to this that if we haven’t matured psychologically through being able to process, understand and feel our past traumatic feelings and imprints when they do emerge in us as adults they can feel unmanageable in their ferocity.  Suddenly we find we have age regressed to feel about 2 years old in some cases and to the critic that is another cause for attack, aren’t we supposed to an adult now?  Someone who is in control and shouldn’t have to ride this huge roller coaster?  But this intense period of hyper feeling is actually a good thing if we can stop the shame spiral, pause and spend time connecting with what is being triggered. Here is where group wound and individual therapy or 12 step recovery work can help.

A large part of our healing process is coming to understand when we have age regressed to an earlier time of trauma which was very painful for us.  I wrote about age regression some time last year in a number of posts which I will include at the bottom of this one.  Age regression or reversion to an earlier experience of trauma or deep feeling which will emerge when we are triggered, most especially in therapy, group work or relationships is a God given opportunity for us to grow in awareness of feelings and needs we may have repressed and learned to bind in shame.

Feeling the shame associated to the feeling, sharing about it, bringing it out of hiding with affirmative and validating others is most essential to our healing process and will help us grow in awareness.  While others cannot feel our feelings for us (though they may do this through the healing power of empathy) doing so will not take our feelings away but if they have gone through their own healing process or are qualified therapeutically, help to hold the space for us while we have our process and feelings this kind of holding can help us begin to make a relationship with what we formerly could not feel and may dull the voice of our inner critic.

We need this kind of support, being designed and wired as humans to be connected and to form attachments, attachments we may have failed to form with emotionally unavailable or inconsistent parents in childhood we do need, at some point, to have our feelings in relationship.  Thus the need at certain stages of recovery to have some who can consistently mirror us while helping us to develop our own capacity to hold and process feelings.

Bradshaw 2

Being left alone with our feelings is difficult, when we cannot make sense of them, feel ashamed or feel they are mixed up, intense and overwhelming.  We need to feel them for ourselves in order to liberate them and reach understandings of why we blocked them in the first place.  Doing so was a survival mechanism we learned at that time to keep us safe, but it may take a lot of time and help if our feelings have been repressed or shamed.  Not being able to have and feel and understand our true feelings in the present, judging them, over intensifying them due to shame, keeps us imprisoned in a false self and leaves our true feelings buried under layers of defences.  Developing deeper insight into the nature of such defences and compassion for ourselves in the midst of them is such important work as we go through the process of learning to liberate, understand and feel our true feelings.   As we do we will be restored to our true selves.

At the same time we must do work on what Pete Walker calls Shrinking The Inner Critic.  We can turn the criticism on ourselves or outwards on others, in either case we are not really acknowledging the truth depth of our plight and such criticism in keeping us locked in shame may deeply hamper both our progress and our healing process.

Finding peace

Beyond

I went through the most intense rage a few weeks ago over the prospect of realising that I need to have my front tooth extracted, to be promised an appointment in July only later to be told they would not take be able to take the tooth out for 3 months.  On Monday the dentist called and they are going to take my tooth out in three weeks time.  I was grateful that I wont have to wait so long.  I can get the tooth out, get my denture and no longer have the prospect hanging over my head with all the attendant anger about the way things have turned out in my life.   If I continue to dwell on all of that pain I could go mad, but the point I am beginning to accept is I can not change one single thing from my past and so I now need to accept what my life and story has been so far.  All of that said feeling the rage was a very important part of the entire process.

As I consider this it occurs to me that often people struggle for they feel they should not have the story or life they have.  With our chronic self improvement culture, it seems to me that we are often trying to be or do or get somewhere else than where we are.  Many of us don’t seem to truly love and accept who we are, how we feel or even what we need.  We seem to be hell bent on changing things, improving things,  upgrading things and for sure some kind of improvement or progress can be a good thing, but to self reject all of the time, to believe that we are defective in some way and can only be loved if we change, well where is the love, healing and acceptance in that?  This is the question I have been asking myself more and more lately.

I have a close family member in my life who is struggling with a huge issue at present.  In fact this struggle and issue has been going on for years and years and years.  My relative cannot accept the situation she is in.  The truth is that if she accepts the truth of the situation she has to feel pain and thwarting of her will.  She has tried so many ways to fix the problem, but no fix is coming.  When she shares about it with me I want to honestly say ‘let it go, you are hurting yourself more by your lack of acceptance”  but I don’t feel its my place to point out a truth that may hurt her and one she has to arrive at by herself in her own time.   So I have just told her I feel for her and hope that in time she won’t cause herself more angst by struggling so hard to have what it is she wants but cannot have.

At the moment I am so glad I have a 12 step recovery programme which teaches me to seek the serenity that comes when I can accept what cannot be fixed, cured or changed.  I am so grateful I have a higher self or higher power I can turn to when I struggle in similar ways to ask for help and get my own will out of the way. For sometimes in life our will is just not meant to be, what we want is not what the universe thinks we need and how we handle this critical issue can be the thing that makes or breaks us.

Acceptance does not mean we like a thing, or love a person.  It is just a saying of an unconditional ‘yes’ to the will of life which may act at cross purposes to our will.  It is an ability to say I will let go of my need for you to be different.  I may not be able to let go of my want and my hope, but at some stage in order to find peace I need to let go into the reality.  I may need to let the person go if they infuriate or consistently hurt me enough.  My letting go in that case is a sign of sanity to my mind.

I guess that place of peace and sanity is where I am finding myself living more and more lately.  It was definitely a stormy, stormy journey to get there.  A journey on which I got lashed almost to shreds on psychological rocks of pain and anxiety.  But today I can see more clearly where those rocks may lay.  When I find things are getting stormy I can take cover in a place where I am not as exposed to the elements, or I can decide to toughen up and weather the storm, letting it tear away what wants or needs to be released.  I can look for something beautiful or joyous to fill my day and uplift my spirit.  Once I am aware of my pain I can treat myself in a tender self soothing way and not make things harder by beating myself or others up.   I can stop in pray or meditation and ask for help or guidance when I am struggling with issues of anger or grief.

And I am finding that I can open my heart to life more fully even on the cold dull grey days like today, for I live in a world with other humans who also struggle just like me on those days.  When I reach out, get myself to a group meeting or just make the effort to connect I can find that I am less alone and that there is someone out there struggling even more than me.  Together we can share the burden so that we know we are not alone.  We can speak out our pain, we can recover from that deep aloneness which comes from being imprisoned inside wrong ideas of self rejection, or unfulfilled and sadly unrealistic expectations.  Often these form a prison that keeps us trapped in angst, preventing us from accepting the grace we find when we turn towards ourselves, life and others in openness, acceptance, surrender, trust and love.

There are no wrong turnings.

Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.

Guy Gavriel Kay

 

Angry with my family

Anger

I am not going to deny my anger any more.  I have legitimate reasons to be very angry at my family and my mother and sister in particular for what they put me through following the end of my marriage and even in the years before where I was just never treated with support, empathy and love.  I am sick to death of denying the truth to myself, rationalising it and minimising it.  I just spoke to my therapist and she said my anger needs to flow out and I need to find ways to do that today… write about it in your blog, draw it out or scream it out, do what ever you need to do to get it out of your system she said to me and so this blog is part of that process.  Internalised, invalidated anger has been kicking around inside my system for so long, it resulted in my accidents and in my alcoholism.  Part of my recovery is that I need to speak about it and value and validate my inner self and inner child.

I recognise what happened when I spoke to my mother yesterday when writing my blog A hollowed out shell was that by crying and becoming really vulnerable my Mum roped me into compassion.  Earlier on I had ended the conversation when she was once again telling me I needed to forget about things and put them behind me.   She called me back out of guilt to ask me to dinner and at first I said no and then wanted to relent when she showed me how much pain she was in and how insecure and unable to truly express herself she feels.  While I feel compassion for her I cannot let that over ride my own anger about what happened to me for it is anger that lets me know something hurt me deeply and wasn’t okay and that then helps me set some kind of boundary.  If I get told I shouldn’t have it or feel it that is invalidation abuse pure and simple and if the person is trying to guilt me out of it that is worse abuse.  Full stop! No argument, no debate!

I had a difficult day yesterday.  I noticed I got onto You Tube and posted some videos in two posts which although they had interesting insights don’t really help me to cut to the depth of dealing with the trauma and anger I am still carrying from the head injury that happened to me 12 years ago as the result of my sister and my mother’s meanness. At that stage I needed support and help to heal and grieve and know my truth, but I see how impossible this is to attain from anyone in my family they were just not that awake to the inner self or emotional realities.  My Mum is close to waking up but she seriously needs therapy.  I am sick of trying to be her therapist.  It isn’t my job really and she often told me that its not a good idea to go to others with your problems.  Her bottom line is that you need to work things out alone but that comes from a childhood where she was left alone and had to figure things out all alone.  Yesterday she was touching into deep realities and she told me how she feels so helpless and alone with no one much to talk to about all the things she goes through.  I want to say “well Mum get some therapy” but she never would.  So I end up being the font of all compassion but my compassion now is only prepared to extend so far when no recognition of past hurts or any apology has been forthcoming.

Second reason for anger and terribly acute body symptoms over the past few days has been unresolved issues with my living sister.  She was so awfully mean to me at the aforementioned time, telling me I was a selfish little girl and that I had had a shit of a life and she pitied me.  Oh and also going behind my back to my nephew (my older dead sister’s son) who I was really establishing a close relationship with and telling him how jealous I was of her.  Luckily at that time (just under 3 years ago now) he told me and I confronted her on the day we putting a party on for my mother.  I wish I had just walked out for at first she tried to deny it and then she said he had no right to tell me and then that she thought it was true.  But what I actually think is true is that the situation was the reverse and narcissists always believe they are so wonderful that the universe is jealous of them, why I do not know when the are such superiority junkies looking down their noses at all and sundry.  I have never been that person, as those who know me and have told me its just NOT ME.

Anyway she has softened somewhat in later years and actually did give me a grudging apology about what occurred in 2005 when I confronted her and Mum about it 2 years ago around this time of year.  But it was in no way an apology that came from her heart or truly recognised the damage done and the other day when she rang me about my tooth issue concerned to see how I was, it was I who ended up apologising to her for reacting to the horrible way she traated me.  Did I need to apologise  NO!  And my inner child is very upset with adult me about it and let me know as I woke up with shocking PTSD symptoms yesterday.  Whenever I see my sister my anxiety level goes through the roof and I was telling my therapist today that it was because I feel there is a lot of anger and hurt my body is carrying and the only way it has to come out is as anxiety.  But the mixed up irony is that as anxious as I feel I try even harder to bond with her and its a trauma bond and end up having an extra coffee with her even though its not really good for me to do it, because I feel she may be lonely.

I am aware as I write all this out it may seem like sour grapes to some.  I don’t really care as what you think isn’t my issue.  But what I need to know and see more clearly which is why I am putting it out there in black and white is how I can over ride my own impulses and intuitions. I often find my inner critic attacks my real attempts at feeling the truth of my feelings and most particularly that includes genuine expressions of anger.

Katina, my therapist was today reminding me that as much compassion as I feel I also need to remind myself that its okay to be angry.  So many of the messages around me growing up in family and Catholic school were based on anger being a ‘bad’ or negative emotion, when really anger is a signal of something from our deepest, truest inner self.  If we deny or over ride our own angry impulses we end up in such strife.  I have had so many accidents due to traumas from my past or pain replaying over in the present moment and this is one of the saddest facts about trauma,  it tends to attract more of the same to us but most particularly for those of us who were taught to value compassion, rationalisation and excuses over valid expression of anger.  So many times I have been told I better be careful as anger is dangerous, but this is only the case when it is not cleanly and clearly expressed, or if it is expressed aggressively.   We need to be so mindful of where our sore angry spots lie because when triggered they are signs of something from the past that needs to be dealt with or is calling for our awareness or attention, if we don’t pay attention we are in trouble  It won’t do us any good to act our anger out on those who really are just triggering a massive back log of past stuff but we still need to be aware that such people aren’t good to be around on a long term basis.  I am sad to say that goes for my family at present, much as I long for their love, when they are around it comes with huge reminders of pain from the past.  I have not ‘let it go’ yet, it hasn’t let go of me.

Its difficult writing this, as I was the television was just turned on by some automatic process.  I went over and Jasper my dog had his ear on the remote but what was most interesting was that it was a show called Compass and was on a priest’s life, and at that moment in time he was speaking of the ‘false ego’ that has to die if we want to fully embrace our humanity.  It made me question the wisdom of hanging onto my anger.  Maybe my sister had changed now and has soften, maybe she regrets what she did to me all of those years ago.  Maybe my mother wishes she hadn’t been so cruel to have chosen my sister over me when I was ‘too sad’ grieving at the end of my marriage.  I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.  Is my anger coming from ‘false ego’?  Is that why the television automatically came on?  I don’t know either but I am putting this in my blog as part of the mental process I go through on a day when I am trying to make sense of and deal with this anger from the past and the deep wound in me that gets triggered around this time of year.  I feel less angry now after writing this.  I have attempted to express my true reality, for what it is worth.   And I appreciate any feedback or any sharing from others about how you have dealt with your own anger.

And in the interest of openness the following are just a selection of anger quotes I came across on line :