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


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 explains 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 begin the difficult emotional uncovery work of feeling our feelings in therapy, 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, process and make sense of 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, 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.

Angry with my family


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 :



The power and necessity of self expression in healing trauma


I woke late this morning to hear the tail end of a very powerful interview with an aboriginal writer and artist. Rhonda Collard Spratt who has recently written a book on the trauma of being one of the stolen generation, those precious young children who were forceably removed from family and community ‘for their own good’ by white people who actually invaded their country and set up missions to educate them out of their indigenous ways and subjected them to all kinds of abuse.

She was sharing about her experience, about the power of story and the importance of grieving for those of her people who suffered abandonment and abuse on an emotional level due to be stolen and were subjected to harsh discipline.  One of the things she said which really struck me were the words :  “Many of my own people are drowning in their unshed tears”.  She then spoke of the essential need to grieve, of taking that little one on our knee, caring for him or her, loving him or her, listening to his or her pain, letting him or her shed tears.

She also went on to share about how many times when she has tried to share her pain or her story she has been ‘shut down’ by white people.   I hear it myself all the time on various media, white commentators saying how its been going on too long and that aboriginal people ‘need to put the past behind them’.  Little understanding is given to how that is actually done nor is their a recognition that is a process and that what was stolen in childhood left wounds, wounds and memories that will always be there no matter how much so called ‘healing’ happens.

It is really only since the formal apology to aboriginal people in this country which occurred in 2007 that attention is actually being given to the grief of the stolen generation together with the recognition that what was done all those years ago caused great hurt and trauma which has left a lasting legacy, especially of addiction for so many.

In another interview last week a woman who was subjected to years of sexual abuse by a priest was speaking about her experience about which the movie Don’t Tell has been made.   Her therapist was also interviewed and she was saying how important an apology or recognition of what was done to children is, and how healing is blocked when we cannot find this.  I know this is an issue I have struggled with all of my life, mine was not sexual abuse, it was emotional neglect, invalidation and teasing but I have been so often gaslighted or blamed in the past that I learned to turn my painful feelings inside and medicate them with booze and drugs.

In the interview the aboriginal woman was saying how many of her own people have died due to medicating pain in this way.  She was speaking of how essential it is for others not to judge, to show empathy and understanding.  She then spoke about going back to one of the communities with a fellow sufferer where she had been abused and of how the person wanted to hit one of the priests she saw there.  The person involved would hang aboriginal children on the clothes line when they wet their pants, leaving them hanging their for hours.  My immediate thought was that the priest deserved a smack!  I was thinking about that, what happens when we are not allowed to express the anger in some way and of how grief is so much a part of that anger and may only be felt once and after the angry outburst can be expressed.

Internalised anger is, I believe, behind so many auto immune diseases.  It relates to pain gone inwards or internalised, buried deep inside the tissues, healing involves externalisation and ex – pression that we press the pain outwards and let it exit the body.  We need places to pour in into too, places to contain it, and validation is so important in this regard, for from my experience and understanding when invalidation or blocking of our feelings happens we can de – press it and all the now toxic unexpressed feelings and pain gets sent back inside to kick around in our systems where it burns and lives a vibrational charge and other imprints dumped deep in the cells.


At the moment in Australia there is a huge push by aboriginal people for recognition of what happened to them in the past.  Deeply painful as it is, what occurred for indigenous races all over the world at the hands of imperialist colonialism is part of the evolutionary story of mankind.   These primitive people are immersed in the unconscious and connected to the earth and to the deep soul in ways so many modern people are not, due to the evolution of ego centred consciousness where religion and materialism became so powerful as a way of defending against and finding meaning when humans were confronted with the power of destructive forces, namely the Black Plague which killed millions.  To be black or of a different colour to so many whiteys was to mean one’s value was diminished.  A lack of empathy and a rugged need for possession and survival was what pushed so many to overrun and steal and kill and disempower indigenous races.  It was a case of the heroic ego gone wild.  Such stealing and killing and disempowerment forces live on, these things happen not only on an outward physical level, but also as deeply powerful psychic forces both within and without form any of us who suffer abuse and neglect or shaming of our emotional selves and are now trying to recover while being left with a deeply painful legacy of years of trauma.

And that is why it is so essential for us to connect to the child within us, that part of us that like aboriginal people can feel him or herself to be connected to the earth and stars, that natural joyous spontaneous part of us which reaches out in love, does not take refuge from fear in separation, attack and killing off, that part of us that is open to all that we feel and all that we see and all that we know deep inside.  When this part is stolen or when it goes missing or is buried deep down inside, we lose so much of our essential connection to spirit, we lose our powerful rebel yell, we lose our joy, our hope, our strength, our power to say ‘No’ and we become immobilised and have difficulty moving with the feelings to flow forward in healing, instead blocking them or burying them.

What was being spoken of this morning in that interview really concerned that process.  The advice she gave was to find some way to be able to tell the story of what happened to us, to sing it, to write it, to paint it, even to dance it out.  These are all ways of ex – pressing of pressing the experience out and giving it some kind of shape and form outside the container of our body.

In true healing we open ourselves body, mind and soul to our story, to whatever pain arises, we welcome it in, we give it a place, we say to it “I see you, you are real”, but healing involves also the deep recognition that this pain is not ultimately stronger than the deeper spirit in us which can open to be its container and can become then too the releaser too of what ever pain, feeling or expression needs to be liberated in the singing, in the writing, in the telling, or in the dancing.  This to me is both the witnessing and the shedding which are such necessary parts of healing.

In another interview last night a video was aired of a young man who went through a very deep depression and recorded his raw pain one night alone on video on his computer in a Tennessee hotel room.  He felt the only way to go through that dark night was to express it, and to have no shame, but to be naked, raw and real.  The video was shown last night on the Australian Show The Project.  He has now started a movement called The Heart on Your Sleeve movement which is a kind of counterbalance movement towards the social media sharing of happy, shiney experiences.  It is a movement to encourage those who struggle to express the authenticity of their experience.

So many of are suffering not only due to ‘mental illness’ but more as a response to the trauma history of our collective which is now seeking understanding and expression.  As I see it there is a deeper movement going on.  Its beyond what I can express this morning in my blog and breakfast is calling, but I think it involves realising that we all suffer and feel vulnerable, that strength lies in sharing that vulnerability, in opening our hearts to the truth, in banding together to accept and love and show tolerance, compassion and understanding.  To begin to pay more attention to depth of our being than the mere superficiality of our at times empty  or pretence filled ‘over doing’.  And that perhaps this awakening happening on such a collective level shows that as a collective we are at an essential time of growth in recognition and understanding towards a necessary evolution of consciousness in which as we connect to truths in our own cells we also connect to the cells of mother earth and learn how the ways we seek to run, deny or numb our pain impact there in terms of mass consumption and overriding of those indigenous cultures who have so much to teach us about how we could reconnect to nature within and without.  Its just a thought I will leave you with as I go off to get breakfast.

Recognising selfishness in my shadow : undergoing necessary psychic surgery

Gradually, you will start to see the ego for what it is. Not only physically, but internally. Through dreams, through visions, through understanding. By stripping away, the ego’s desires and defences, we begin to understand the world in which we live and the circumstances that have occurred, which are easily explained and dissolved, through inner child and ego resolution, to strip back layers of conditioning and discover, the raw, limitless creative power and potential, we each possess is the ultimate discovery.

To be healed, we need a very profound surgery, very deep and very painful. It’s not easy, facing all the demons and voices in your head. Its not easy or pleasant to die psychologically. It’s not something that you will enjoy. You will feel pain. You will cry. You will have regret. You will have remorse. You will be ashamed of yourself. Don’t avoid any of the uncomfortable feelings or traumas. Embrace it, yet do not attach to it. Look squarely at the facts, accept them, and change.

Source :

I admit I can be self centre even while I show care for others.  Sometimes its only after posting about some hurt feelings my ego is struggling with that I get to see deeper and try for at least just a little while to see myself less as a victim of an insensitive world and more as a very ordinary human being who struggles to feel she is good enough and deserves love while realising at the same time realising that as an adult the sense of good enough and love needs to come from within first and only then can be found without.

One of the things I struggle with is connecting emotionally to my family heart to heart.  As the youngest I tend to view my older family from a young part of my inner self.  I see them as all strong and powerful and therefor withholding something I essentially need.  I then forget that they struggle and may have trust issues too and do the very best with what they know.

Today I got a wake up call where I came to see how much I need to remember to think kindly and not see things from the point of view of solely what I am getting or not getting.  It is the young side of me that wants others to be the adult and forgets all the commitments and responsibilities they have and that often they too struggle with the voices in their heads telling them they should be somewhere else and this dark or shadow side of me that I am seeing today was highlighted after I read a post by Kelly Bristow that I quoted from above.

This afternoon I ended up having the chat to my Mum about the anger and resentment I am struggling with that I wrote about in a post earlier.   After this conversation I became aware that it is the mother of the past that was not very emotionally present.  It was the mother of the past who never was connected to by those she needed support from because they were often absent or preoccupied and that because of this she was so often that way herself.  And it was the mother of the past who lost her spouse and own mother in quick succession and then saw her family spread to all the far flung corners of the country  and struggled herself as we all struggled in our different ways, but me perhaps more in those early years following my Dad’s death when I had no loving partner and only painful relationships that ended causing my heart more hurt

In my disconnection during active years of alcoholism all pain was buried.  In recovery a lot of shadow pain has been resurfacing to be dealt with and this process is akin to a difficult kind of psychic or intra psychological surgery I have been undergoing.  As Kelly says, it hurts to have this kind of surgery and to face this level of pain, but at the same time bringing our shadow to light is really the only way we can grow and heal.  And it occurred to me this afternoon that on one level the prospect of having my tooth excised soon is a reflector on the physical plane of what I have been going through emotionally and will be felt on a profound emotional level when I have the dental surgery done, the prospect of it is triggering a lot of trauma to my head over years.

I am never grateful for the pain or suffering I feel at the time, but after wards I do feel a release when certain diseased parts of myself are revealed.  It may be shame, guilt, sadness, anger, disappointment, fear, resentment or some other emotion I am struggling with but I am much better off when the emotion comes out into the open or surfaces like a boil, letting its pus out.  Then the wound has a chance to form a scar and heal, the scar may remain but the wound will no longer be infected, the infected tissue must come out or blocks must be cleared to energy or life blood so that it can run clean and clear.


It became plain to me last week that my diseased tooth must come out.  It has to be faced and the process gone through.  I need to accept.  In the words of the AA Big Book “we thought we could find an easier softer way but we could not”.    And I know my higher power or higher self will always be there to help me through any pain if and when I call upon it to hold my hand as I find the courage to face the surgery.


Force of love


Force of love

Pushing me on

Rising like a tidal wave

From deep in my soul

Is calling me home

Is saying for the first time in my life

You belong

You are here for a reason

Remember all the seasons

Which you weathered

Beaten down with paralysis, fear, agony or pain

And the days on which your soul rose again

From a pile of ash

You were either being cleansed

Or shaped for some new purpose

Do not fear any more

Sweet darling

Trust yourself

Trust your life

Trust others

And know that deep inside

You have the capacity to weather

Any storm

And that you have finally solved the puzzle

By recognising

How much peace is found through surrender

That deeper surrender that only comes

When you learn to let go

And open your heart and being wide enough

To embrace all feeling

Allowing it to have its way and move through you

Carrying you on with the force of its power

And its love

Like a tidal wave

To a new shore

From where you will look back

And realise

How necessary everything you went through was

To the evolution of your soul

What if?

Broken heart.jpg

Something in my heart seems to have unlocked over the past 24 hours.  I sense the shift came today when I finally accepted I needed to have my tooth extracted.  I made the call to the dentist and she picked up while I was only 15 seconds into leaving a message.  I knew last night that I needed to accept due to the infection in my tooth it must come out.  I immediately stopped experiencing all the push pull symptoms in my body and I sensed a well of love from deep within but also all around me as I moved into surrender and acceptance.

I went outside to do some cleaning up of leaves and the thought came to me : what if I view every single thing that has happened to me as part of God’s plan to open my heart? What if I said an unconditional ‘yes’ to it all and stopped fighting it and complaining about it?  What about if I turned any pain I have over to a loving power and asked for the strength to endure?  What if I shifted my focus from how things are affecting me to how others are affected?  What if I opened my heart and just embraced life?

This morning I had the news that my sister’s daughter in law’s Dad is dying.   It wont be long now that he will end his struggle with cancer.  This afternoon I rang my sister as I knew she would not share the news with me, that she would keep it to herself but all the love I had in my heart made me want to be there and let my sister know I am here if there is anything I can do.   And I am aware that when my Mum opened up to me about it and spoke of my sister’s pain and distress, she was also suffering and being reminded of how it was to have lost a husband very close to her 60th birthday, too.

When I spoke to my sister she told me how cut up her son was. “I know everyone thinks he is a hard person, but the truth is, Deb he is so soft inside.”

I told her that my first therapist had once told me something I feel is very important.  She told me the harder the exterior of a person, the softer and more vulnerable they really felt inside, they just often have a very hard time admitting it and may have developed that hard shell like the proverbial crab to hide a tender underbelly.  I know this about my nephew that he is SO LIKE MY SISTER.  They both have strong Pisces energy opposed by Virgo, the Virgo side of being very organised and literal minded hides or defends in some way against the intense Piscean sensitivity that is so open.  I thought of what must be being triggered for my nephew at present.   He was only four years old when my Dad died and he was so sad.  He had these huge brown eyes that would look you in the soul and when Dad died this is what he said with tears in his eyes when he found out “why did he have to go and do that, we wont be able to go fishing anymore”.   I think his youngest son is now around the age that my nephew was when he lost his own grandfather.

Death makes us vulnerable.  It is the one thing that comes to us all sooner or later.   My heart goes out to my nephew and to the pain he is feeling in watching the wife he loves go through pain.  They live a very long way away and so that is putting pressure on them as my nephew’s wife left for the long trip to be with her father while my nephew stayed behind, unsure of when to go himself, unsure of how much to expose the children to.

As my sister and I talked about it this afternoon we were able to share about how we also struggled with death.  I offered to be there if they need any help at all with the kids, for it seems that these days due to the fact I have worked through a lot of my own pain I want to be there if I can and if it is needed.  If it is not then that is fine too.  And I am also becoming aware that working to accept the way things are is much easaier in the long run.  Surrendering to life’s wave, opening my heart and becoming willing to ride the tide of feelings which move me outside of former comfort zones of self protection erected against those things I can not ever really protect my self or someone else from is in the end a far better way to live in this life than just holding on and sucking in all the pain and energy in fear and resistance.  It appears to me that an open heart is a brave heart, it is the heart that is willing to be broken so that in and with the breaking new life and energy can enter and enlarge the heart’s expanse to accompany more of the good stuff, compassion, acceptance and unconditional love.

And I am beginning to understand that there is no pain that is too large to hold if and when we surrender it in open hearted non resistance to a loving God or Goddess energy that is always there ready to hold our hand and help us transform through the pain



The freedom of being allowed to know and express our feelings


I am always so grateful when those who have suffered as children are able to vent their very real feelings.  The post I wrote last night about strong feelings was really provoked by Summer sharing hers in her own post.   Reading it made me realise how important it is, in terms of recovery from abuse and neglect that we can recognise and own our feelings.  It often appears to me that in society at large people are often mocked, shamed, rejected, diminished or invalidated, either that or we are given some reason why we had to go through them and how it was all a learning experience and we should just shift our focus to something else and be grateful.

And it is true that there is a certain point in our recovery where its best if we shift our energy into positive channels, but I often think if we are continuing to dwell on past pain there may have been a reason, in terms of us not having fully processed or been able to resolve the hurt.

My own mother has often said to me “for God’s sake haven’t you let that go yet?” and the reason I haven’t let it go is that it hasn’t let go of me yet and I haven’t been apologised to. The other night my mother had to apologise to me for behaving badly,  I knew she was stressed about other things and had enough empathy and emotional insight to know it wasn’t all about me, and she admitted as much when she phoned me later to apologise.  I forgave her but I had still had a major panic attack after the episode and my head was full of thoughts of what a ‘loser’ I was.  This incident showed me how deeply I have been effected by being left all alone with big feelings and having so little help to deal with them.  I think it is one of the major reasons I turned to alcohol and drugs in my late teens along with all the insecurity I was carrying about.

I am becoming more and more aware too that my parents also must have struggled with strong feelings.  My Mum could fly into a frenzy or a rage at times and I am aware of that in the mornings when my anxiety can some times be high and I feel an urge to push, push, push which isn’t about reality or the present, but instead about past trauma energy I carry.  This is when I need to sit quietly with my breath or ask myself if there really is any hurry or emergency.  I am also aware more and more now of the anxiety that underlay that in my Mum, my Dad on the other hand would detach and remove himself to get out of the line of fire but that left the rest of us alone a lot of the time.  I notice this same tendency to take himself away in older brother and his niece was talking the other day about her own tendency to disengage.   To me it all speaks of a fear of and difficulty in dealing with feelings.

Children by their very nature experience strong feelings.  For a baby who as yet lacks the power of a functioning ego/mind or words for feelings, feelings just exist as very strong body sensation and it is believed that some babies feel more intensity of feelings.   I ask myself is it that they are born this way or is it that some babies have stronger feelings because their parents struggle to contain them and reflect them back due to their own issues with strong feelings.  So much of how we react and respond to others comes our of our own history stored in our body/mind.

Intensity of feeling and emotional hypersensitivity is a big issue in so called ‘borderline’ conditions and I can see it in bi polar conditions as I have had two sister’s diagnosed with this in the past. And the intensity of these feelings are real.  Also if we have lost contact with strong feelings due to addictions or minimisation or invalidation in the course of our healing as our true feelings begin to unpack and unthaw they are going to be intense at first.  We may most likely shame ourselves for having them or be shamed by others.  This is one of the problem of some 12 step groups which don’t have an intelligent, aware mediator.  I have personally been shut down at an Al Anon meeting and it was really wrong and very damaging.  I didn’t go back and my breast cancer developed over that time.  One of the women in the group was very sanctimonious and obviously had never fully dealt with her strong feelings towards her own alcoholic parent.

Alice MIller

Add to this that our feelings and emotions are so much connected to our true spirit or spiritual self. To me a spiritual awakening isn’t a lofty thing that isn’t of this world, its about coming home to our bodies and knowing that who we are and what we feel makes perfect sense.  There is a degree of containment in this process for lacking containment we can tend to lash out or act out our wounded feelings but even this may be necessary at first.  This is why so many of us need a good therapist, support people and others who will provide this containment, empathy and validation for us and help us strengthen the trust in what we deep down know to be real and true.

When our spirits feel fully awake and alive we are at home in ourselves.  We trust how we feel.  We act on how we feel.  We find our voice and our truth.  We can speak up for ourselves.  We have better boundaries. We have more compassion for others and we are more able to protect ourselves from abuse.  All of this may not be possible if we don’t learn to take strong feelings seriously and incorporate then into our person and understand where they come from.

The capacity to understand and self soothe also means that in taking our feelings seriously we don’t have to magnify them by negative thoughts of ourselves and others and make our feelings and suffering worse.  We have permission to feel angry and upset and express those feelings, but not in a way that damages others for once we have learned to understand and contain our feelings and take them seriously we can use them kindly and skilfully, but with a far greater power and determination.  We can also take a deep breath.  We can ground.  We no longer feel so scattered, because we have learned to embrace within the circumference of ourselves all that our spirit feels, knows, has experienced, hates and loves and we can use this knowledge wisely.

Strong feelings


Just some thoughts after reading about someone’s deep emotional pain as a response to overwhelming abuse.

Strong feelings don’t mean you are crazy.

Strong feelings don’t mean you are out of control.

Strong feelings result from intense experiences which overwhelmed you and which your soul intuitively rebelled against.

Strong feelings don’t make you ‘bad’.

Strong feelings are an indication that you may be getting very close to painful or intense realities or abuse that you endured.

Expect that when you have strong feelings that there are those out there who may not understand, who may try to invalidate you or shut you down, you don’t have to like it, and its likely it will anger you as well.

From my own experience strong feelings come out of a passionate response.  Often those who have them are judged or misunderstood.  A chiropractor who I sometimes see to help with my own intense body symptoms told me recently how what I choose to call ‘terminal coolness’ is a sad sort of social standard these days.  To be judged as ‘cool’ your responses need to be tempered and laid back but what is more likely is that you are just emotionally shut down.

Unfortunately shame is still very pervasive in our society.  Its used to keep people in line, to judge them and label them and put them in boxes.  It helps to bolster the egos of those who lay claim to the moral high ground and may rain down platitudes on your head that make no sense.

I personally now believe in trusting my strong feelings. There was a time when I really needed to act them out and they were super intense due to a lifetime of being mocked, judged, invalidated and stuffed down deep inside.  Over time my strong feelings have become less intense but I still say a silent ‘yes’ and feel an inner leap of joy when I see or hear someone express strong feelings that come deep out of their emotional core, for that person is then well on their way to healing, they have begun to be able to acknowledge painful emotional truths and their freedom and right to self expression has no longer been stolen.  The right to protest is so often taken from us in abuse. And to heal it needs to be validated and valued.


John Bradshaw : on sadness, grieving and healing


“Our sadness is an energy we discharge in order to heal,

Sadness is painful. We try to avoid it.

Actually discharging sadness releases the energy involved in our emotional pain. 

To hold it in is to freeze the pain within us.

The therapeutic slogan is that grieving is the ‘healing feeling.” 

John Bradshaw

Integrating our child self


Last week I shared some content from Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process about how important rediscovering the original innocence of our inner child is.  Unfortunately as we grow and are subjected to upsets in the course of our development we learn that this innocence is not so, we may feel we are bad for expressing certain emotions or having certain needs.   When we have tried to express our pain or distress with our parents, often we were not responded to with unconditional support.  We may have learned to distract ourselves or deny what we feel, we may carry anger, hurt, sadness or fear in response to what has happened to us.

Unfortunately such feelings don’t go away but remain locked deep within us in what MB calls emotional charge located deep inside our body at a felt level though just below our conscious awareness. However these feelings can be accessed if we apply a process of being present when we experience our distress instead of seeking ways to distract, numb or run away.

This process involves being a caring adult to our inner child.  Michael has this to say :

If we haven’t consciously interacted with our child self before, then our current relationship with it is similar to that of a parent who has for many years abandoned their child.  At about the age of seven, our childhood experience is deliberately redirected in preparation to enter the adult world.  This requires a willingness to turn around and walk away from our childhood.

As the years unfold, it’s unlikely we will choose to look back and consider the state of the child we once were.  We lay a blanket of forgetfulness over this aspect of our experience and openly admit we can’t remember much of what happened to us when we were children  For this reason, we may no longer be aware of our child self even though it continually watches everything.  We seemingly no longer feel the unintegrated aspects of its condition, despite the fact our adult discomfort is a mirror of this unintegrated charge.

We are so out of touch with how our child self affects us in the present that we may ask “Why now go back and face the past?   Why not leave the past alone and carry on with our life?”

Often the wider society around us reinforces this view. How often is the childhood of celebrities who meet a harsh end through suicide or other trauma explored at a deeper level?  People shake their heads and say “he or she was so popular, why did this happen?”, when the truth is that despite the acclaim, attention or outer recognition that person received perhaps it was for a  false self they learned to adopt, a dark humour which covered up a far deeper wound to their self esteem and self belief that remained hidden or was carried alone deep inside that they found it difficult to share with anyone else and felt the need to mask.

Meeting the inner child’s pain is the most loving thing we can do for ourselves on the path of healing. Knowing and revisiting or original pain or wounds can bring a deeper understanding and liberation from the past, freeing us to be more present and less likely to attract repeated traumas that are old unconscious replays.  Being able to grieve and own the fact of our pain and wounds allow us to know that there is nothing wrong with us for feeling sad or depressed or less than and that really all of these deep feelings make great sense in the right context. As children we may have been shamed for them by adults who were wounded children themselves but if we can see and recognise this we can free ourselves from unnecessary shame.

Being present for our inner child as a loving inner mother and father to this child will allow us to integrate this deepest part of us that has so much to teach us about who we really are and how we feel and what we really, truly need inside.  It will show us a door into our secret heartache and then we will find the words to speak about it feel it, acknowledge it, accept it and free it.

The price of our liberation can be pain.  But it is far better in the long run to allow ourselves to feel this pain than to keep denying it and leaving it trapped inside.  For to do so is to shut the door on a most essential part of us that is so necessary to our healing. and can only be shut out and exiled at great cost.