Dialogues with my inner critic

I have been trying to use active imagination with the force of the inner critic inside me lately.  For those who dont know active imagination is a way we can dialogue with an inner psychic force inside us, Robert Johnson Jungian therapist addresses it in his book Inner Work but my talks with the critic were also inspiresed by another book called Freedom from your Inner Critic : A Self Therapy Approcach.  

One of the things my inner critic does is drive me hard.  As a child growing up we were not allowed to play or have fun until all our chores were done.  A friend in later years said it was like coming to a military operation in our home.  We had to iron our own school uniforms, polish our shoes and clean our rooms I also learned to run around after my mother who would get herself in a state of apoplexy at any sign of mess.  In later years when my older sister was in the care home for acquired brain injury she would laugh uproarously about an incident at a farm when Mum got chicken shit on her shoe.

It was a bit mean come to think of it for as an emotionally neglected child my mother had no one at all there for her.  Her father died when she was 7, her own mother had no war pension and had to work afternoons, evenings and mornings just the times she should have been home for her daughter.  Mum got her own dinner, she made own breakfast, got herself ready for school (where she was abused and punished and used to clean the Nun’s chapel or stood in the corner for not doing home work COME ON!!! WHAT THE FUCK!!!)  Those were harsh times during the 1930’s coming out of the depression years and First World War into the intense climate of the Second during which she met my Dad.

Dad was the oldest of a fatherless family too, fleeing Holland just prior to German occupation in 1938.  He was hell bent on becoming a millionaire.  My godfather, his best friend told me this when I got into addiction recovery in 1993-1996.  We had many chats because my father died when I was 22 and I never knew his history over which he remained quite silent like many of his generation.

Anyway back to my inner critic who I call Mr A and my therapist calls The Annihilator.  He often wont let me rest and the other morning when he was off on a rant I just gave him a hug in my active imagination then I put an ice pack on his head.  It was a while until he calmed down but I got a good insight into what lay beneath just as when one time I stopped my Mum mid flight in an OCD cleaning spree to hug her and she also burst into tears!!!

I have been grieving a lot more since this incident.  The self punishing voices are still there but I am able to bring them out and ‘unblend’ from them (a term used in the second bood mentioned above.)  My child inner often gets tormented by Mr A he blames her for everything, including a host of things that never in a million years could be her fault.  But of course this is what happens to those of us emotionally neglected in childhood.  But we can take back control over these inner forces if our desire to love and seek the truth is stronger than our possession by them, if we are willing to do the inner work to make them more conscious.

As Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss point out in the second book our Critic is so often hostile to our Inner Child but we can learn to change this by self compassion and in the process our compassion for the wounds of those who abused us also grows.  We know they were hurting and did the best they knew, even if it was in no way good enough, we are on an evolutionary trajectory in regards to that carried or inherited trauma.

An attack of the ‘bad me’s’

I had a mini attack of what I call ‘the bad mes’ earlier today just after reblogging a post on narcissism and addiction.  I am beginning to see how caught up I still can get in family dysfunction and it is an ongoing challenge to walk a fine line between trying to help family members struggling with symptoms of the disease like low self worth and perfectionism and focus on my own recovery, too.  I ran around a lot for my older sister this week and to be honest I felt a bit ‘insane’ today as I didn’t sleep that well last night as I am also connecting to someone who messages me late at night.  I threw over some appointments which I think was the right thing to do as on one level I know my sister is ravaged at the moment and her self concept is weak and I want to give love but I must also recognise my limits.  And getting overly tired myself won’t help and it is how I felt to day which is  message to reign the help in a little bit.

Luckily her youngest son has decided to visit this weekend for Mother’s day.  It’s the first Mother’s day without my Mum and I haven’t been thinking about it a lot but if I do  I remember the special treats we gave to Mum on Mother’s day in past years so there is no guilt there in knowing I did all I can.  I don’t expect to be included in any family thing this weekend which I am honestly fine with.

I have been connecting with my Mum and Dad in spirit a lot lately and driving home a moment ago after dropping some books off at the library they spoke to me about how I was a part of both their hearts, they were not emotionally present as they did not really know how to be. That is a wound for me.  One that I am working my best to over come.  Is there then, any purpose in an attack of the ‘bad mes’?  Am I narcissistic at times posting and drawing on my wounds for art and poetry?  I dont think so really.  My experience in AA was of some narcissistic types though who did feel they had the answers for me at times and for others, I didn’t always see the greatest awareness in them, though of their own level of emotional neglect.  It is something I have only started to come to terms with in the past two years.

Beating myself up won’t help.  Realising I am open to criticism though and knowing there are always ways I can improve or be more teachable is important but so is knowing my own power, not in a power over others way but in an inner god centred power way is important in recovery.  I need that strong sense of a humble grounded self to maintain balance.  And lately when I feel myself loosing it I am praying more to God or higher power for my thinking to be changed and in the words of a Marianne Williamson prayer, become more full of light and hope and peace instead of criticism, shame or self blame.

The dark place of abandonment

Being made to believe we are not okay as we are and certainly not deserving of someone’s love and relationship does affect us so very deeply.  I am revisiting the work of abandonment therapist Susan Anderson lately.  I was lucky to be guided towards her book From Abandonment to Healing just over 13 years ago when my marriage ended and I found myself in a very dark place.

This was not the first time as abandonment has been a pretty much constant theme for me starting with my older much loved sister leaving home when I was only 3 to marry and start her own family and live overseas.  My Mum wasn’t emotionally available to me at all, she worked all the time and when she was home we had to duck and weave around her compulsive cleaning, there was never a place to rest and my Dad also vacated through his own addictions (minor ones) when he was around he wasn’t really there.  Later in life after I nearly lost my life at the tender age of 17 in a motor vehicle smash up he was hard line forcing me to go to secretarial college in the painful aftermath of my older sister’s breakdown and cerebral bleed.  Later I saw her abandoned too at her most vulnerable time and was back at home when she tried to take her life in 1982 when I was only 20 years old.

Dad ended up dying when I was only 23 and that was followed by my then partner (who I had two terminations of pregancy to), ringing me at 4 am in the morning just a few days after my father died to tell me not to bother joining him overseas as he didn’t love me any more and had found someone else.  Do you believe that later when our paths crossed in Greece I slept with him only to come home one night and find him in bed with someone else only to be accused of being ‘mad’ when I reacted to it poorly?  Luckily at that time I was with other friends in Greece and the owner of our B and B deplored my ex’s behaviour.  Never the less I internalised the abandonment seeing it as due to a flaw in me.

I won’t go into the pain of three more similar ‘leavings’ of exs over a period of 18 more years, often on the back of being told there was something wrong with me.  What that ‘something’ I now know was terror and fear pure and simple and Susan Andersons’ newer book which I just bought Taming The Outer Child : Overcoming Self Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment explains how very real changes in our neurochemistry involving the amygdala leave us with an over active fear, flight and fight response which is automatically triggered in any new relationship or prospective interaction  (and not only with new potential partners, from my experience).  This reactive pattern she gives the name Outer Child and it can sabotage and lay to waste new connections but not only that leaves us with cumulative Post Traumatic Stress as a result of our abandonment trauma or ‘schemas’.

Anderson.jpg

As I sat with my sister yesterday after she tried on the clothes I bought for her and saw how much of her self love had been decimated I thought it is criminal what people are telling her, I know her fixation on clothes and looking good are symptoms of her abandonment but its not only that, the roulette wheel of psychiatrists and medications has left her depleted, she went down the exercise route but withouth any psycho dynamic therapy and no emotional recovery buddies.  She is not able to express and read as I am and that works against her.   I know new clothes will not fix that deeper wound to her self esteem but I think it doesn’t hurt to be there to try as it’s getting so much colder here and she has no warm jumpers and when people tell her ‘its all in her head as she has lots of clothes’, that to my mind is pretty invalidating and harsh.

I seem to have gone a little off track here but what I am trying to address in this post is how our abandonment at another’s hands can leave us questioning our own use, meaning, value, beauty and goodness and how healing involves not internalising those feelings from someone else.  In her earlier book Anderson uses the acronym S.W.I.R.L. to describe the process of working through a recent abandonment which may trigger far earlier ones.  (Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalisation, Rage, Lifting).

The true abandonment as adults is then self abandonment which occurs as we internalise false beliefs about our value and worth and fail to understand or validate reactions to abandonment and its deeper triggers. For sure we may not be perfect and have wounds and scars and reaction patterns we need to understand and work with : the process Anderson outlines in the second book, but we are not worthless because we have been abandoned or gone through loss and all our feelings and reactions make complete sense once we understand their roots and work to understand our own history and self sabotaging behaviours.

From this position we should be showing compassion to those who have suffered emotional abandonment not be taking out a big stick to hit them over the head with.   For healing involves compassion, wisdom and tenderness both to others and to our inner child that bleed from very real wounds in earlier life.

Enough

How different would our lives be if we only believed we were enough and had enough?  As I look around this society and even consider my own life and past I see that a fear of not enoughness can dog so many of us.  This fear can cause us to compete or to believe we are not worthy enough, it can prevent us from expressing ourselves, from reaching out to love and be loved and it makes us attack or collapse when that reaching out hits a brick wall or is demonised or rejected by another person who also feels not enough or that we are not enough for them.

I guess this is coming to mind as its interesting I had the clash with the gardener the other day all around the 11th anniversary of getting together with my ex partner back in 2007.   At the outset of the relationship he had a long list of why and how others were not enough and of how he had struggled to find enough love, and during the entire relationship he found it so difficult to relax and then began to point out to me all the time how I wasnt enough this or that.    I know now that as an adult child of an alcoholic parent he had never had a resting place either and he was driven by a lot of unresolved grief which manifested as rage when things triggered him.  He drove one of his sons very hard and would call him mean names if the son refused to do something his father wanted often only because he was tired too and loved to play guitar and needed to rest or just loved being in the ‘now’ as I did.

I thought of this unhealed wound yesterday as I have reached the chapter in Jeanette Wintersons’s book Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal (which is what her stepmother said to Jeanette when she found out she was gay) where she has a breakdown after a love relationship dissolves in her adulthood.  Reading it reminded me that suicidal feelings often accompany the opening to the realisation of our wounded self that never got to fully birth in dysfunctional homes that could not honour our sacred wholeness.   Jeanette expresses very powerfully the forces within herself that she struggled with and that over the period 2007 to 2008 caused her to break down and break open to the self hatred and ‘madness’ inside her which was nothing less than a composite of all the toxic things, behaviours and beliefs her mother had introduced into her life over years as well as associated feelings that for most of her life she was writing over the top of.

Jeanette tried to take her life in 2008 and had what I can only call a spiritual experience in which she understood her old self was dead and she had to be born again on a deeply psychological level, she also began to realise she needed to address and understand the feelings and forces that were driving her from within.

In a very heart wrenching paragraph she writes :

extremes – whether of dullness or fury – successfully prevent feeling.  I know our feelings can be so unbearable that we employ ingenious strategies – unconscious strategies – to keep those feelings away.  We do a feeling swap where we avoid feeling sad or lonely or afraid or inadequate, and feel angry instead.  It can work the other way , too – sometimes you do need to feel angry, not inadequate, sometimes you do need to feel love and acceptance, and not the tragic drama of your life.

It takes courage to feel the feeling – and not trade it on the feelings exchange, or even transfer it altogether to another person…..you know how in couples one person is always doing the weeping  or the raging while the other one seems so calm and reasonable?

I understood that feelings were difficult for me although I was overwhelmed by them.

She then began to hear voices and inside them found : ‘a piece of me…..so damaged that she was prepared to see me dead to find peace…. my violent rages, my destructive behavior, my own need to destroy love and trust, just as love and trust had been destroyed for me…. The fact that I did not value myself”  And she also found that ‘the lost furious vicious child’ was the ‘war casualty’ and that was the part of her hated herself and also hated life.

Jeanette began to dialogue with this destructive part of herself which was really a defence against her childhood pain and that is what brought her back home to herself.  It also led to the writing of a children’s book The Battle of the Sun which as a person with an astrological interest intrigues me as the Sun in our chart is our spiritual centre, it is the essence of us born to shine before it becomes in many cases covered in tarnish or buried under the force of our inner demons or monsters, or what Jeanette imagines as ‘the Creature’ within.  It was this creature which was a representation really of all the lies she had been told about her being a bad self, never good enough, and it’s primary purpose (as for all of us who internalise the critic) was to mock, disparage and tear her apart, but never the less giving this part of herself a voice in the end, as for all of us, helped Jeanette to reclaim her sanity.

Her pen ultimate realisation which she shares at the end of the chapter The Night Sea Journey makes me cry :

A few months later we (the creature and Jeanette) were having our afternoon walk when I said something about how nobody had cuddled us when we were little.  I said ‘us’ not ‘you’.  She held my hand.  She had never done that before, mainly she just walked behind shooting her sentences.

We both sat down and cried

I said. “We will learn how to love.”

Learning to love ourselves, to accept our pain, to hold our own hand, to know that we were and will always be ‘enough’ no matter what other forces or voices in the family or culture have told us well really isn’t this our most important challenge?  And doesn’t the deepest recognition of this truth mean a lessening of our insane and voracious consumption which drives us in covering over our sense of emptiness and not enoughness to over produce and over consume in ways that close our eyes to the reality of vast magentic gift of enoughness that surrounds us on this living, breathing, fully sentient, spirit infused love infused planet earth?  Is it not the trance of our not enoughness either internalised or projected the thing that keeps us hungry and blind, causing us to lash out, over protect or self or other harm?   Is not what is needed on this planet an awakening to the sacredness of earth and all life which can only come from a deeply realised sense of preciousness and enoughness?

The path of recovery can be lonely

Alone

The path of recovery is in many ways a path of shedding.  We release old beliefs, we see through illusions, we discover patterns, we come to understand those we thought were friends were really not, we face ealier loneliness in our soul that before we covered over with addictions.  My therapist Kat often reminds me how lonely this kind of psychological work can be and as I see others struggle, too I know I am not alone although on some of the darker days as my followers know I find myself like Dante in the middle of a deep dark wood.  And yet in that wood there are trees and grass and lot of other critters.  There may be a little wooden shack with a fire I can light and twigs. There like the maiden without hands from a fairytale I may have been led to grow my own feeling hands back, something I want to touch on in another post I am currently writing and has been in drafts for some weeks.

I need to remember though that on days like yesterday when my sister refused to come to dinner as painful as that may be it is also maybe a blessing.   I know for a long time my path led a different way to the path of family.  I chose active recovery, to acknowledge the roots of alcoholism and emotional neglect that reached three or four generations back as well as the mother wound that repeated throughout my family.  I chose not to go on drugs, I chose to do therapy, I chose to read, to listen to dreams, to understand depression not as an illness but as purpositive something to do with the dark night of the soul, and as I look back I see that all along the Self in me, as part of my purpose guided my soul and it is that Self that I believe gives rise, not to meaningless feelings ‘that might get me in trouble,’ but to purposeful ones which show me the effective and ineffective ways to live.

At times I have been slow getting the message.  At times I have not understood where I was NOT meant to go and be.  I hungered for love and understanding from my family but it was not meant to be and in a way I was a pioneer or circuit breaker as far as our family trauma went.  I had to look outside my family ust as the duck that I read about in another book I cannot remember the name of in recovery had to leave the posion pond that his other family would not believe was poisoned.  And yes on this journey for a lot of it I have had to walk alone and yet in some way I know I am not or I am and I am not if that makes sense.

I will not lie and say I do not hunger for a soul who deeply sees, knows and loves the whole of me and yet I also know I do have that in therapy and with a few others.  I also know although I feel so alone on some days as long as I write and reach out here I am never truly alone as so many of you are on a similar path, one that leads to embodiment and authentic honesty often through your own deep dark wood and in many ways society is emerging in and through this process along with many of us.

For that I am grateful as WP has given me a medium to share, and although I still doubt my way and purpose on many days maybe it does not lie in some far off place but is actually here right before me when I get up and after breakfast turn on my computer to link to my own and others blogs.  For its  then that I feel, on the lonely days, less alone, that all I have gone through does have a meaning and a purpose, one that I can chose to believe in and nurture with my recovery, my writing and by showing up in my life to be a force of love for myself and others who feel alone, sometimes too and struggle just as I do.

Holding to our boundary?

I guess every victim of emotional neglect or abuse has a struggle knowing what’s what, who is really harmful and better not to be around.  Feeling anxious when we receive a call from one of our ‘triggers’ can be a trigger, but due to our past holes in development we don’t alway feel we have the right not to take the call.  I just read a post on unconditional love and part of me thought, yeah, I am not sure that I believe in that any more.  Giving people the benefit of the doubt or trying to be stronger or a bigger person is what a Good Guy with the feeling we dont have a right to legitimate needs or boundaries is taught to do by conditioning.

When love is absent and real care and empathy, where do we go?  What we experience is a terrible numbness, emptiness or void, a soul pain that often is not understood intellectually but since our body is really the home of our soul, somewhere inside our bodies know and yet for a child in this situation what can we do.  When we cannot leave physically, we choose a form of dissociation, its something I have been thinking a lot about while reading writer Jeanette Winterson’s autobiography.   Many of us escape into books or tv or we start to write from a young age.  Like me Jeanette never had her boundaries respected, her adoptive mother violated them and read her diaries, she threw out and burned all of her books.  Jeanette wrote in the quote I posted yesterday that she learned early on that anything could be taken, and the only thing that could not was her what was inside, her capacity to express and to create.  For some of us, however, if our insides are invalidated and we are told we are bad or selfish it can be hard to hold onto the internal reality, too.

The abuser who wants control over us wants to destroy our reality as well as our understanding of them as a perpetrator so they turn it around on us, we are the ones who are selfish or too vulnerable or too sensitive for just feeling normal feelings that any caring emotionally connected person would.  I had a commenter on one of my blogs yesterday tell me that feelings will get us in trouble, yes if we dont know how to use them as internal messaging systems and I dont think the person really got the jist of the post.   This does not apply to feeling ‘bad’ which is a feeling that may be grown by thoughts that we are incompetent in some way when really that is just a form of depression or an introjected voice talking to us inside our heads.

Dissociation for many of us was a way to survive trauma.  It was a way of preserving the inner self, the problem comes when we turn self protection and externalised fear into global concepts where we feel the entire world is bad and not to be trusted.  As survivors we will always be wary and we need good boundaries.  We need to know what hurt us was valid and not just all in our imagination as we will often be told by gaslighters.  We need to trust our feelings not fear them and then put them to good use.   We may also not ever need to forgive certain abuse and this need to forgive may be something that is forced on us by moralistic people.   Abuse is not okay, its not okay to trammel a sensitive person and lead them to believe their reality is skewed when they are trying to be who they are and express their true and real selves.   I had to leave one Al Anon group when two members told me I was not allowed to express anger over my Mum’s abandonment of me as a child.  While I know my Mum went through something similar she never allowed herself to be angry at her own mother and as a result she never had good emotional awareness or strong boundaries later in life.  The pain meds she was on in the end ruined the last years of her life.

I have watched two siblings struggle with anger and self assertion.  I have seen them cut down when they were trying to break free but also I have seen them become manic with the unresolved fear and anxiety we all absorbed in our family home was not contained or made sense of in therapy only treated medically with a cocktail of drugs.  I’ll be damned if I will shut up about it.  I makes me angry and so, so sad.  My living sister is not able to be emotionally and assertively present in any way these days and she is collapsed as a person.  In the end she could not break out of her feeling wounded prison.   It makes me cry,  especially leading up the anniversary of my older sister’s death which occured on Easter Sunday in 2014.

Knowing who we are.  Holding to our boundary.  Knowing what we feel makes perfect sense these things can only come out of the long hard painstaking work of emotional recovery and these things are not given to us we have to earn our right to boundaries over and over again and we struggle so remorsefully with self doubt as our ego strength was never encouraged.  As children we were not helped to develop a heathy ego or good boundaries, in fact we were conversely actively stymied in our emotional education and so we have work extra hard now.  And we cannot afford to open once again to emotional invalidation from those who would try to convince us our boundaries are wrong or there is something wrong with us for protesting neglect, abuse or betrayal, that it is wrong to have an ego and that we should come to love everyone unconditionally.  Yes hurt people hurt people and we can have compassion but if that means we lose our own passion for rigourous emotional health and self care that kind of over compassion can be dangerous.

We have feelings for a reason

In many ways the rational enlightenment, which was a critical turning point in human history together with the ascendency of patriarchal forms of social control put paid to so called ‘irrational’ feelings.  At the same time both forces created an enormous split between mind and body, a split we are working hard to understand and heal, a split that leaves us many of us lost, disconnected and disempowered.

I love how synchronicity works, most especially where my blog is concerned as this evening I was re reading a very important section in a book I have referenced before by Andrea Mathews, Letting Go of Good and that section, titled Understanding Your Inner World : Your Internal Messaging System addresses the issue of repressed feeling.  Shortly after reading it I came across a link to another post that had been reblogged by a follower on the work of author and therapist Mama Gena (aka Regina Thomashauer) and in the words of the author of that blog

She discusses how our patriarchal society trains us to control and stifle our emotions, which causes them to fester. She writes “our patriarchal society doesn’t honor grief. (Or rage. Or longing. Or jealousy. Or frustration–just to name a few).”

According to Mathews, following the rational enlightenment

Emotional people, or people who are in touch with internal message, such as intuition, came to be thought of as unstable.  This was because emotions and other internal stimuli could not be trusted or relied upon at the time.  They are here one minute and gone the next.  They make us do things we later regret. They drive us insane or to a proximity of insanity.  They make us worry, ruminate, and do all kinds of other things with our thoughts that are not at all rational.  No.  We need to turn off emotions and other internal stimuli in favour of thought.  Thought is always rational.  But, of course, this is not true.

What we have done in the name of reason is repress.  We have repressed emotions, intuition, discernment, and other internal stimuli, as well as awareness of actions, words, thoughts and anything else we consider to be unacceptable.  We have, in fact, repressed awareness of our own inner world.  And of course, any time we repress awareness of our own inner world our thoughts are not going to be very reasonable – or rational – because they cannot now come from wholeness but from only one segment of who we are.  Thought that exists without a direct connection to emotion, intuition, or other internal messages, or which exists relative to a bunch of connections to repressed material is not going to be reasonable  Indeed repression make us more unstable – not less.

.. most of us don’t want to know what goes on in our inner world… we suspect that we will find badness and all kinds of pain, betrayal, secret darkness and angst that we just don’t want to have to wade through… there is also a large contingent of spiritual leadership… that teaches that our so called “negative” thoughts and emotions are dangerous to our well being.   According to these teachers, our thoughts are always supposed to be positive and our emotions are always supposed to be set on bliss, and when they are not, that is evidence that bad old ego has stepped up and taken hold of us. …. Much like the old traditional ideas about the devil, these ideas about ego set us up for a battle between various aspects of the identity.  They do NOT facilitate an awakening to the authentic Self.  They simply have people struggling and striving to rid themselves of an essential part of their being, in much the same way that the Age of Reason did.

..These teachings and those that remain from the Age of Reason have a very similar result – self-betrayal….(but) our emotions, our desires, our intuitions, and our discernment are essential to understanding both the identity we have and the authentic Self.  We will not come to understand either, nor will we heal any brokenness until we have come to understand the inner world.

And those emotions which are most helpful to us are very much a part of our inner world and exist for a reason.  In the following chapters of that section of her book Letting Go of Good Mathews deals with the emotions which she sees as critical to our internal messaging system along with intuition, discernment and desire.  We literally cannot survive nor thrive well until we have learned what these emotions have to teach us.  In an earlier post I already shared a post taken from that book on fear as one of the internal messengers that come as protector and teacher.

The other three emotions explored by Mathews are as follows :

  1. Resentment
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness/Sorrow

I am sure many of us out there have been educated at one time or another to believe that one or other of these four emotion is bad or negative in some way but really, as Mathews explores in chapters devoted to each, each has a message for us, a message that we ignore or dismiss at our peril.

Resentment comes to teach us when we are overstepping our boundaries and not sufficiently honouring ourselves. When we have been hurt or shamed or our anger invalidated.   Resentment makes us feel something over and over again until we pay attention to that something and deal with it.   If it is something we cannot change we need to walk away or at least put up boundaries.

Anger comes as a cry of authenticity from our true sense of self to let us know if we have been diminished or treated unjustly in some way,  “when we forget (anger), it comes up to remind us that we exist, that we are real, that we are here in the room with others by whom we wish to be seen and heard, and that we matter.  We have a primal need to exist, to be real, to be here, and to matter to ourselves.”  Anger will let us know when something that is not okay is happening to us.  Abusers or drainers may try to convince us anger is a selfish emotion but anger always exists in tandem with assertion so we can take action to self protect and self care, so “anger is an energy that must be heard and authenticated”, most importantly by us.  Buried anger will make itself known in psycho somatic ways if we don’t listen to it and take heed.   Anger cannot be denied without difficult consequences.

Sorrow or sadness is an “admission that we are not in control…(letting us know) there has been a searing loss…. Sorrow knows that what we wanted is gone.”  According to Mathews the purpose of sorrow is to get us to acceptance, the more we accept sadness and allow ourselves to grieve, rather than block, defend and deny our grief, the more transformation can happen in our lives, or opening to deeper spiritual truths.  Good sorrow (well grieved) can cleanse us, clear away fog and toxins, ground us and make us more human and authentic, as well as emotionally available.

Mathews worked with addicts in recovery and in every case she saw how those who resorted to addiction had denied or somehow negated their true sorrow over a loss.  Many blamed themselves in some way and she tells the story of Jared in her book a man whose mother was murdered when he went out one night to a friends place and never spoke about the torment he carried inside, until it emerged in group therapy.  Through grieving and finally externalising the blame he had held silently within and drank over for years he moved towards a new acceptance and understanding of loss.  Love of his self which had been so absent before grew out of this experience, as it will for all of us when we finally have compassion and understanding shown to us which will help us to show to ourselves the same by and through honouring our true feelings.

Mathews concludes with these words.

When we make time to be with our emotions, listening to their wise messages, they often leave us with powerful and transformative shifts towards healing.

When we deny ourselves this process, when we continue to engage with the lie so widespread in a toxic and rapidly deconstructing patriarchal split mind-set, we cut ourselves off from the true source of our healing, which always lies deep within our selves and within the emotions that so often hide deep within buried under our thoughts about them.

A dark day

It was a dark day today.  We had our first real taste of winter approaching with steely skies and showers that didnt amount to much, no its not April yet but the weather had this feeling.  I seemed to just cry a lot today, I don’t really know the deepest reason.  I tried to share about the pain of emotional disconnection I felt today from a friend and family with young sons who I love, but I always try to look deeper too, so as not to blame but to see its just triggering a deeper wound.

It’s painful but not impossible to feel this longing from my soul that makes me conscious of a very deep emptiness and aloneness.  I sat with it for a while tiday and also put a lot of my energy into writing posts on trauma recovery I really hope help new followers so as not to just be mired in the sadness I cant seem to do much about but feel.   I don’t know if you all know how the one thing that lifts my heart is to see your beautiful faces that come through on gravatar images that appear when you like one of my posts.  Its not so much for the acclaim as for the sense it may have touched you or helped you for if I think of what my values are then my values are to reach out and connect when and where I can with others who go through similar experiences.

Staying with feelings of deep abandonment is never easy.  Therapist Pete Walker whose work on Complext PTSD I have been sharing a lot about lately calls this painful soup or vortext the abandonment melange.   I know I should not feed it with negative thoughts and ideas or stories but just need to feel it as an energy in my body, it affects my heart and my gut.

Anyway later this afternoon I took myself off to our shopping centre for a coffee and to get some groceries and took my daily meditation reader with me.  Often when I pick it up I pray for guidance for it to open to a reading that has a message for me and lo and behold this is the page that opened this afternoon.

My Feelings of Abandonment

Today I am willing to feel my feelings of abandonment, rather than run away from them.  When my abandonment feelings get triggered, I am thrown into deep anxiety and I hold onto anything around me as if for dear life.  I want the feelings to go away, and I mistakenly think that if I keep all the people, places and things I need exactly as I want them, everything will work out.  But life is change and people change.  There is no way to keep anything where I want it all of the time. My anchor needs to be with myself.  If I allow myself to experience my deep feelings of abandonment rather than run from them, I have a chance of working through them.

I can tolerate feeling alone

Reading this made me realise that today I didn’t totally run away.  When I was tempted to react I just sat with the pain and felt it.   I cannot say I felt a lot better but at least my body was feeling is and I didn’t get my usual spins.  Taking myself out felt more like good self care than running away.  I got a nice piece of steak for dinner and an afternoon snack.  I felt a bit guilty I hadn’t walked Jasper today but everyone needs a lay day.  I dont know why my niece in law is not returning my calls, it makes me feel really lonely and sad as I thought we had developed a connection.   But I also know I have to accept whatever is going on without trying to change it.  I have to feel these feelings and they are not new.   They are the feelings I drank over in my addiction.  I also realise the past and all I have gone through will never be gone from me totally.  I dont have a lot of friends I hear from here in Canberra, everyone is very detached.  I think there is a great deal of loneliness out there in society but not a lot of people have the courage to engage with it.  Maybe my view is skewed, I dont know.   Today was a dark day but I dont feel suicidal or hopeless as I have on other dark days.  I know winter is harder than summer feelings wise, but I also know I can treat myself with love and compassion on the tough days and hope in time these abandonment feelings do pass.

The importance of grieving in recovering a sense of self

Grief reveals

With sufficient grieving, the survivor gets that he was innocent and eminently loveable as a child.  As he mourns the bad luck of not being born to loving (or emotionally available) parents, he finds within himself a fierce, unshakeable self allegiance.  He becomes ready, willing and able to be there for himself no matter what he is experiencing – internally and externally.

Peter Walker

 

 

Facing the reality : learning to live consciously.

Facing the reality of our own life and feelings is not alway easy, at times I find it downright difficult and painful and on Sundays like today I can often feel a great loneliness in my soul when I face deeper realities of our feeling wounded society that seems in so many ways to be split off and increasingly divorced from nature and authenticity.  My heart breaks at these kind of times.

This morning I was literally down on my knees in the bathroom crying gut wrenching tears as images of the final week of my Mum’s life rolled by inside my inner vision.  I was triggered this morning by two people I contacted yesterday leaving me hanging.   The first one was a friend I contacted to get together with yesterday as I thought she had suggested, only to not hear back for 24 hours, she was out with another friend and I had got the Saturday wrong… the point driven home with 3 exclamation points???  I am sure I did not hear it incorrectly but this sent me into the deepest darkest space which was a sign I was  back in intense flashback mode and I was reduced to gut wrenching sobs and feeling about 2 years old.  For those who dont know I had an older sister like a surrogate Mum that left me when I was 3, in my teens I had a ‘friend’ who would abandon me like this to go play with other friends without notice and the stole my first boyfriend at 17.  It was hard things to go through, I have had so much abandonment as my parents left me alone all the time in favour of work and then I was treated at a bit of a ‘strange one’ for needing attention and being ‘dramatic’.  Mmmmm I wonder why?

These kinds of wounds stay lodged in deep and they dont really go away and I need to be mindful of that, also that currently I dont really have a close friend who really hears me heart to heart and soul to soul apart from this friend who treated me this way.  I was tempted to fire a text back (She didnt even bother to phone me) but I am aware she does not have my abandonment history and would not fully understand if I asked what’s with all the exclamation points?  (???) So I just sat with myself and made the attempt to follow it through inwardly by tuning into why I was wanting to react in that way.  My abandoment depression had been triggered and it hurts – a lot.

The other non returned contact was from a relative who had reached out to me a while ago about abuse in her family, these are relatives of my older sister who died i 2014 and went away when I was 3.  I noticed on Facebook it was the older son’s birthday the day before yesterday and felt so sad and ashamed I had not realised.  I had not sent him a card or the younger son either and I recieved cards from them for my birthday.   My thoughts were full of fear for not being a ‘good enough relative’, but lately after losing my Mum there has been a lot to contend with and there was the abuse issue which made me so scared for the boys but also partly wanting not to be too triggered either. Anyway its probably only natural that all of this would have made me feel sad today and I have to be realistic as my therapist said the other day that it is not rational the way I take on blame for things that are not my responsibility.  Its a deep default mechanism which comes out of my own emotional abandonment and neglect and I project that and then can as a recovery codependent reach out to help when really its I who need the support and help and this is an issue I was exploring in Pete Walker’s book on Complext PTSD yesterday and have written a post to share about soon.

As a codependent with emotional neglect I can react without being fully conscious or realistic, instead I am driven by all kinds of deeply hidden fears and fanatasies.   I tend to over extend myself the minute I see someone in need when its not always good for me.

Anyway today I really sat with my inner child when I was feeling so regressed and asked her what was going on deep inside for her.   She told me she was upset when I betray her needs and sensitiivty to be with others who dont have the same degree of care or sensitivity.  She said she would rather we be alone than subjected to that.   She wants me to care for me because really I am the only one who can do it.

Anyway for what its worth that is what came out of today when I sat with a painful reality.  I know as someone who was emotionally neglected my feelings are not always conscious and dont always make sense.  I am feeling and instinct injured two things I want to feature in other posts I am working on lately.  But my true feelings are guides adn they do make sense, healing for me is learning how to use them as guides to how to live and care for myself well, so I can live more consciously.

I know that part of growing up is learning to live more fully from an adult self rather than a fearful anxious wounded inner child.  After reading this back I see how often that part of me can be triggered.  I know if I act out of that part it wont be good for me.   This abandonment/trauma history I carry is about the past and not now.  My friend I am sure had best intentions and I get very mixed up as to how much I can call upon or rely on others at times.  I also find rainy cold Sundays harder.  I miss my morning walk and then the inner life exerts such a poweful hold, but there is a truth in that that needs to be faced and deep grief there that does need to be acknowledged for what my history of emotional neglect has denied me and others.

When you are trapped in a flashback, you are reliving the worst emotional times of your childhood.  Everything feels overwhelming and confusing, especially because there are rarely any visual components to a Cptsd flashback…. This is because… amygdala hijackings are intense reactions in the emotional memory part of the brain that override the rational brain.  These reactions occur in the brains of people who have been triggered into a 4F (flee, fight, freeze or fawn) reaction so often, that minor events can now trigger them into a panicky state.

Pete Walker