Some thoughts on forgiveness

Alice.jpg

I am reading another interesting book on forgiveness at the moment and it is making me contemplate the subject anew as I often do.  I know for a fact premature forgiveness that does not take on board or in some way seems to excuse perpetrators of abuse can be detrimental to the recovery of our true selves.  We live in a culture that tends to defend against intense emotions telling us that to be sane we have to ‘play it cool’.  Its very much part of the ocker (or Australian culture I grew up in) this disparaging kind of ‘cool’ or looking askance upon tenderness, sensitivity, deep soul anguish or longing.  I’m actually watching a new season of The Bachelor in Australia at the moment and one of the girls who just left the programme after being rejected has been dubbed “a stage 5 clinger” on social media as she fell hard for this year’s bachelor.  Admittedly she is young and wide eyed, but she is also golden, honest and open and expressive in her feelings and it kinda bites me to hear her described in this way.

Anyway I have gone a bit off track but the thing is in our culture you aren’t allowed to be excessive or tender in any way… its seen as a sign of madness  and this is even if you have been driven to excess or emotional overload by abuse or trauma that would drive anyone half mad.  Things are slowly changing in our awareness but its still very hard to be authentic in this culture and not be roasted in some way.

When it comes to forgiveness its appears to me that anger and rage have to be felt towards those who hurt us, we need to know what happened was detrimental and had bad effects but holding onto it too intensely although perfectly understandable can also obscure the wider picture and the more honest reality of what a perpetrator suffered in their own life, since they were also a victim at some stage.  In the end forgiveness is to let ourselves off the hook not the other person and that said its not even necessary for some.  Some people can hold onto not forgiving and be happy about it.  That is fine but for others it can damage us.

Difficult

For me the anger we feel at abuse or disregard is a message to us from our True Self about what we can and will and will not tolerate. Sadly in the end we dictate how we will be treated by others by what we are willing to accept.  If we don’t feel we have the right to stand up for ourselves or are somehow ‘mad’ or ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ for doing so we will never have good boundaries and our immune systems as well as our physical and psychological and mental and emotional health will suffer as a result.

In the end whether or not we forgive is up to us.  For me I have felt in my own journey moments after intense grief of coming to a point of greater and deeper clarity as to why I was treated by someone as they did.  Often there was no malice or intent, often it was ignorance or psychic blindness that led them to treat me as they did, or else they split off part of their vulnerable self and projected it onto me or judged me without looking any deeper than a surface level of morality or superficial interpretations of wrong or right.  Seeing such things has helped me to have better boundaries.  It means I don’t have to cut away as much as I used to.   And at times lately I feel my soul flooded in the deepest forgiveness as I see the mistake at the heart of things that is both multigeneration and collective.  Its hard to express in words but those moments of transcendent forgiveness alter me deeply and restore me to a place of peace that would never have been possible for me as long as I held onto thoughts of anger or vengeance towards perpetrators.

Deep injury.jpg

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/reflections-on-empathy-forgiveness-and-narcissism/

I will carry this

Grace

I will carry this deep pain

But I will carry it lightly

When I think of the vast span of experiences and memories we shared

Its impossible to fully express

The extent of it

But I will carry it forever in my heart

I will carry the painful times when we had conflict

When I needed something from you

But could not find words

When I needed something from you and you gave

When I needed something more from you and you failed

We are only human

I will carry the memory of

All the times you offered your support

Of all I put you through as a mother

It was a lot and you had no partner

Mum you carried a lot I see that now

But so did I

Both struggling to love and do our best

You had your very real limitations and defences

But you also had a giving heart

I will carry the knowing of the loneliness you felt at times

In an estranged family

An estrangement that in trying to heal

Bought us a little undone

I will carry those final memories of you in so much pain

Trying to stand or get away

From your earthly shackles

As you heard the ancestors

Calling you home

I will carry the memory of you yesterday

Labouring to breathe

And to let go

I will carry the memory of the shell of your body

Left behind after your spirit flew away

To those you loved

And most of all

I will carry always in my heart

The memory of beautiful times we shared

When our souls met and recognised each other

And we found a hidden grace beyond words

We see what we project

I was moved to write a poem yesterday on darkness gathering which I didn’t post then.   It was prompted by reading the post of someone who was struggling with seeing how much hatred, violence and suffering there seems to be in the world. If we are a sensitive person and most especially if we have been abused or neglected seeing so many painful things going on hurts and is a reminder of how challenging human nature can be.  I still think it is important though for us to maintain a sense of hope and a remembering that there is a lot of goodness and heart out there in the world.  When very painful experiences and things happen to us they can absorb all our energy and pin us in the most difficult place where it is difficult to see more than darkness.  Those experiences obscure the light of love and joy and simplicity, all the beauty there is in the world which we no longer see if our focus is always on darkness.

I am midway through the biography of Eva Schloss, the step sister of Anne Frank this week, After Auschwitz.  As a Vienesse Jew, Eva and her mother had to leave their home in Austria when war broke out and the Nazi’s began their campaign of hatred over the Jewish people.  They escaped to Holland and were hidden there by two families but the second family betrayed them to the Nazis and on her 15th birthday Eva and her mother were taken to Auschwitz.

In a remarkable story of survival they managed to live, due to a set of coincidences which saw them both very close to death on several occasions.  Only part of the book concentrates on their time in Auschwitz but most of it is devoted to the issue of how one survives seeing such unspeakable suffering and hatred and lives in the traumatic aftermath without being totally defeated by anger, hatred and resentment.  In the end it is only by actively choosing to embrace the attitude of a survivor rather than a victim that Eva rises above the pain that in the end killed countless others.   It really is a great read for those of us who suffer with resentment and issues of forgiveness.

I tried to write a post yesterday about Nazism as a symbol of the narcissistic negative killing ego gone horribly wrong.  The entire story of Hitler and his attitude to the Jews is related to issues deeply imbedded in humanity in relation to the scapegoating of others and shadow projection.   Jews were resented at a time where many were poor and suffering following the end of the First World War when Germany and the German people were highly penalised for their involvement in that war by the Treat of Versailles.  The hatred shown towards them meant that people could download their own painful feelings onto a scapegoat people and send them to extermination and exile.  Its a repeating theme in history with archetypal and mythical themes : the way darkness is projected and how pain and suffering then end up breading more pain and suffering in an endless feedback loop that then recycles over and over without end.  And it seems that the only way out in the end is through forgiveness, empathy and understanding.

I titled this post ‘we see what we project’ to address this issue but I guess in a way a better title may have been we see what we have experienced and we act out of that experience and often unconsciously react out of those experience at least until we become more conscious of the seeds we learned to sow as a result of what we went through.  There comes a time when we get to see what the cost of our projections and colouring of the world is and what plants grow out of those seeds.  Then we get to see that there comes a time when there may be another way or looking or projecting.  We then get to see that in the end we do have a choice in how we choose to react and respond out of our suffering.  We never fully escape suffering and some of us have a huge dose of it, but those of us who do often birth deep wisdom out of such suffering.

Along with the Buddha I do not believe there will ever come a time when painful things no longer happen.  Hatred, violence and destruction will always be a part of our human experience, but the degree of our suffering does in some way depend on where and how strongly we place our focus on destruction or creation, on love or fear.  That is not to imply that we ever get beyond pain but we can learn to embrace that pain and those who cause it tenderly and gently, without unnecessary harsh defences which only end up causing us more pain.

In the end much also depends on where we place our focus, on fear or on love, on hatred and holding on or on letting go and surrender of hate in time.  The choice is up to us.  We may never be able to turn blind eye to our own or another’s suffering and we should do all in our power to change it if we can, but if not let us place our focus on what love we can give to ourselves, to others and to a hurting world that so badly needs our wisdom, sensitivity and care.

The forgiving moment

This quote speaks more deeply to the issue of our struggles with forgiveness than any other quote I have read before.  It is so powerful and true, I just had to share it.

Don’t try to forgive yourself or anyone else right now.  Forgiveness is not a destination, not a ‘doing’, not something you can skip to.  First, accept, that this moment is exactly the way it is right now.  And the past was the way it was.

Accept your non acceptance in the present.  Forgive your inability to forgive, right now.  Feel your breath, the sensations in your body, the life that burns brightly in you.

Everyone is doing their best, even when it seems like they are doing their worst.  Everyone is dreaming or having a nightmare, battling with pain you may never understand.  You don’t have to condone their actions.  You may not be able to wake them up.  You don’t have to like what happened.

Simply let go of the illusion that it could have been any different.  You are different now anyhow.  Don’t focus on something you have no control over.  The past is a distant land.

Bring your attention back to this moment.  Your true source of power.  Your place of connectedness.

Wake up from the dream that anyone has any power to take away your inner peace.

Drop the need to be right.  Embrace the need to be free.  Come out of the story of “my life”.  Reclaim the moment

Forgiveness will come in its own sweet time, and you are forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Jeff Foster

Decisions, boundaries and self care

It was a tough therapy appointment yesterday.  I am really regretting having my tooth out.  I don’t seem to feel any better at the moment and not being able to chew food well is really affecting me.  I am aware that I need to be patient as what I am going through is as huge adjustment but I just wish I had stuck with the crack in the tooth as I am not really sure it was giving me an infection, as my body is still full of phlegm and gunk.  I also felt very disappointed in my therapist and wanted to throw the whole therapy over yesterday but at the same time I was aware of the state of mind I am at and it was poisoning my right view of the value of what Katina does give to me.  So I just went to it and fully expressed all my feeling to her.

She was amazing, she sat there and empathised and then apologised for influencing me because she had said to me several times “if you do have an infection it is probably poisoning your entire body”.  I am not sure that is really what has been happening, the poison is the anger I sometimes feel that I don’t use effectively to assert boundaries at times.   Anyway we discussed it all and I left the session feeling a whole lot calmer basically because of the empathy Kat showed to me.  And I am adult enough to know no one has the answers always for me.  They may be able to understand or empathise but they may not know how things will turn out for me if I make a decision and they can advise but they don’t have to live with the consequences which is something my niece and I were discussing the other day.

Have you ever decided you wanted to do something that may be good for you, but when you mention it to others, they try to dissuade you or pour cold water over your decision?  I think it happens a lot and its something we were also discussing in therapy yesterday, how do we know who to truly trust with our decisions?  After all no one else has to live our lives.

I have been on the end of discouragement when I have asked for advice on doing what would have ultimately been good things for me.  I look back to those times and see I didn’t stay strong and own my own power.  And afterwards I felt resentment but also had to accept I was responsible for the decisions and choices I make.  As a people pleaser it is sometimes hard for me to say I wont do something that I think may bring joy to another person or to take care of me when you are hurting or in need.  As I shared the other day, when I have the energy to give to others, I will give it, naturally it is what I want to do as an empathic person.  But there are times I just need to take care of me.  And I guess that is where discrimination comes in as well as a good sense of connection to my inner energy levels, feelings and needs.   What I am talking about here are boundaries and on some level we can say that on the spiritual plane boundaries don’t fully exist as we all come from the source, that grander sphere where we are connected to each other beyond words and other human constructs and as our egos form we learn what is ours and what is not ours if we are lucky enough to have good help to build healthy egos but if not we can be in trouble.

And that is why empaths and highly sensitive people can struggle a lot.  We instinctively feel the feelings of others and want to reach out and to do so is natural and good most of the time.  When others have defences against us though we suffer.   I heard a saying a long while back and its a major lesson that I learned in my last intimate relationship that a person can never reject you, just a part of themselves they see in you that they have not befriended in themselves.   This is the defensive ego that may want to reject you if you are feeling sick or vulnerable.  This is the protective ego that doesn’t want to see that you may have hurt and a deep longing for love hidden beneath anger. For if you think about it if we get rejected for anger the person is not seeing that on some level we felt hurt and are trying to get that hurt addressed.  Then the hurt has no where to go,  and we are left holding it and then as someone asked me the other day “where do I put this anger?”.  I responded by suggesting prayer.  It seems to me the only thing I can do when my anger gets too much, I pray to my higher power for help with it.  And if someone won’t address it with me and I see that my anger is justified I have to beware of how I relate with that person in future.  I may need to forgive so I don’t keep holding onto the pain and hurt myself more, but I may be better off not having that much to do with them if they express no concern for how their actions affect me.

It can take a long time for some of us (like me) to see we have the right to set this kind of boundary if people have blown us off before for expressing how we feel.  And we also don’t have to take every hurt we feel to someone else, for in the end its really up to us to care for ourselves and protect ourselves and we all have the right to do this .

If we were sensitive and hurt a lot in childhood.  If we were teased, humiliated, made to feel small, gaslighted or invalidated developing the wisdom and power to develop and set boundaries may be a process fraught with peril.  If we were led to believe that emotional abuse was not emotional abuse we may be very confused as to our boundaries.  That is why we absolutely need an empathic person to go to, to express our truth with and get a reality check.  And we need power and strength to know we have the right to take care of ourselves and that we are not bad or wrong or selfish for doing so.   And some of us can keep chosing to love even when on the end of shitty behaviour from others once we have learned to practice self care, we can learn to positively detach not with hatred and anger but with love, a true honest love that comes out of respect, maturity and a deeper empathy for suffering.

Forgiveness : a high price?

I am reflecting a lot on forgiveness lately.  Part of us when hurt wants to exact a retribution of kinds or at least block love from flowing back to the source of the hurt because perhaps we feel this is the only way we can hold onto a boundary and escape the pain of more hurt.  And by all means consciousness demands we find out who is hurtful to us most often from their own unconscious pain and wounded.

I always loved the saying “hurt people, hurt people”.

I shared earlier in a blog that I was so angry when I learned of something intensely hurtful my brother did to his daughter yesterday.  I felt anger burning through me like wild fire.  Maybe it triggered my own wounds, I am not sure but I was so impressed by my niece’s reaction.  She clearly owned the damage and lack of love in both parent’s as well as the unresolved hurt.

Maybe it might help more of us if we saw this kind of unfeeling narcissistic abuse as the outgrowth of an evolutionary pathway in which older generations were not allowed to feel hurt or pain or were humiliated or emotionally abandoned by a parent stunting permanently their own empathy.

In his excellent book on narcissism therapist Alexander Lowen shares his insight into how much early humiliation in childhood can lead people to develop a narcissistic defence, blocking feelings of vulnerability and deep anger at violation which then being disallowed may often permanently disable the person turning them into a rationaliser or someone who avoids further emotional pain by becoming a people pleaser or adopting a false self, or alternatively shutting them down emotionally and leading them to project rejected vulnerability towards others, most often children who act it out then get shamed, exiled or scapegoated all over again.

The way out of this dilemma involves owning the anger, to re-engage the assertive impulse for self care and self protection and end the shaming that can be internalised.  Holding onto the anger helps keep the defence in place, turning too soon towards forgiveness may mean being open to more abuse.  But in the long run some letting go of intense anger may need to take place as anger that hardens into resentment can become corrosive and lead to physical and emotional problems.

The next step often lays in realising the damage in the person that caused the pain.  Seeing they were once a vulnerable child defenceless against a parent’s inner conflicts or aggression or splitting of and hardening of feeling.  In my brother’s case I see why he may have had to shut down his sensitivity early on.  I know some of the things my Dad did to him in the late 1940s that were punishing and over the top. Last year he also revealed a bit about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Christian brothers.

I asked my Mum if she was aware of this abuse and she said that no, my brother just came home and hung his school coat on the wall and quietly went off saying nothing.  I felt so sad for him when he told me that story in June last year I wrote a blog about it.

When I felt the anger to my brother I wondered at my right to judge someone who was acting out of buried pain.  I almost considered that I never want to have contact with him again on the other side and then questioned that.  Then today I read this on forgiveness :

Forgiveness is a selective remembering of what someone did right, at a time when the ego mind is shrieking about what someone did wrong  We always have a choice about where to focus – whether to blame someone or to bless someone.  I can concentrate my attention on what you did wrong, or I can seek to remember a moment when you tried to do right.  Although the ego insists that you don’t deserve it, the spirit absolutely know that you do.  And my ego has an ulterior motive, in seeking to attack you, it is seeking secretly to attack me.  Only when I remember who you really are (an innocent child of God, regardless of your mistakes) can I remember who I am (an innocent child of God, regardless of mine.)

Condemning another person, while it might give us a few moments of temporary relief, will always boomerang and make us feel worse.  If I attack you, you will attack me back – or at least I’ll think you did.  In terms of how consciousness operates it doesn’t matter who attacked first, who ever attacks feels attacked.

Forgiveness takes us off the wheel of suffering. It delivers us to quantum realms beyond time and space, when thoughts of guilt have marred neither your innocence nor mine.  This is summed up by Rumi “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”  There, in this space of no-thing the universe miraculously self corrects.  In the presence of love, things automatically return to divine right order.  That which the ego has made imperfect is returned to the track of divine perfection, releasing possibilities for healing that would not other wise exist :

I’m sorry

I’m sorry, too.

Simple worlds, and how much better those words are than the ego’s alternative.

Mmm, but what of the person who when you say sorry, uses that as an opening to deny or as a weapon to beat you over the head with?  I was warned of this in my last relationship with a narcissist, to be aware that apologising to someone such as he may be used against me and it was.  In this case it was his ego that had shut down and locked the door and I could do nothing about it but walk away, knowing I was powerless and in time knowing that the price of holding onto the outrage was too much to bear, that in the end letting go and allowing the person to be shut down was the only way to become free, knowing I deserved something else.

Forgiveness, it most certainly is a thorny issue.  There are times I was slighted and could only see the wrong and the hurt and anger eclipsed other things that were right, so I do agree with some of what Marianne Williamson writes in that quote above but I still have some reservations and I wondered what others think of it?  Maybe you might like to comment below.  If we are repeatedly hurt and other refuse to own up, surely its in our best interests to keep a wide berth.

Acceptance : healing from the inside

Acceptance 2.jpg

The single most healing attitude we can hold towards ourselves is one of acceptance.  Even if there are parts of ourselves that we don’t like or that we struggle with, is there some way we can learn to love and accept these parts of us and understand where they come from and perhaps even learn to look deeper into where self critical views came from?

Self rejection seems to be such a huge part of our culture.  It becomes even more prevalent if we were raised in an environment or home where there was neglect or invalidation abuse.  In this case self rejection can become a huge part of our inner landscape, not really loving and accepting ourselves for who we truly are means that self condemnation and low self esteem become an habitual way of life.  The inner critic forms inside of us making feelings guilt, shame and powerlessness central issues we struggle with and we may try to hide these feelings from ourselves and others or silence then with addictions.

Add to this the complication of the fact that if as a child difficult things occurred which may have not been our fault we may have mistakenly come to believe that something we did played a part, for example the early death of a parent, illness in a sibling, abuse or chronic rejection.   Well into adulthood we may go on struggling with the critical voice inside of us or deeply unconscious feelings of guilt that cause all kinds of probelms.  We may also begin to learn to turn that critical voice outwards.  We come to believe in negative expectations.  If we feel we are not good enough we won’t learn to set appropriate boundaries against abuse or we may go on fearing rejection when there is actually no need to maintain such a fear.  We then learn to live from a self fulfilling prophecy which just brings more of the same to us.

The way out of such a dilemma is the practice of self acceptance, self care and love.  When we have distressing critical attacks we can learn to address the critical voice and the shame it may be trying to pass onto us in a loving way.  We don’t even have to argue, we can agree with the critic that we are messy or absent minded or careless but recognise that such traits have nothing to do with our self worth or lovability.  As human beings we don’t need to be ‘perfect’ to be loved, we should not have to ‘earn’ love by forcing ourselves into shapes others would like us to assume or by hiding who we really are deep inside, even if we are deeply emotional and deeply hurt or angry.  All such feelings really are acceptable, but he hard truth is that in childhood and even well into adult hood we may have been around those who struggled to accept such feelings and so we learned to internalise a similar lack of acceptance.

We can also, as we grow in critical self insight and self acceptance, learn that we cannot always expect a perfect love from those around us, who in being human are not perfect either.   I struggle at times when I hear of those who suffered some neglect in childhood saying they are going ‘no contact’ with parents.  Often it is apparent the parent has suffered deep wounds, wounds they may have passed on, and I do understand if the abuse is bad the person would not want a lot of contact.  But at the same time it is true that human beings suffer in all kinds of different ways in the course of their upbringing and so often pass this suffering onwards.

When we choose to undertake a journey of inner healing we are on a course to open up to this so called ‘shadow’ material or dark side in ourselves and in others.   We are on a journey to explore all the blockages of separation, fear and guilt as well as shame that have kept us from the experience of love, we are also being called on a journey of forgiveness.  We don’t ever have to like what happened to us, forgiving does not mean we ever say that what happened to us is okay, but forgiveness is the conscious choice we make at one critical stage in our healing process when we get to see the cost of pain passed on over years, ages or generations and resent into and through our own emotional systems and in relationships and see with absolute clarity that the cost of holding onto it is too great a price to pay and solves nothing.

Working through our anger may take years.  We find it hard to let down that steely defence which in keeping us protected blocks us from truly expressing the deeper pain or sadness of the hurt we feel, grieving and mourning in order to pass through the process, releasing from deep within our cell tissue traumas that hurt.  We may never have the hurt, or anger or sadness validated by the other person. In order for many o fus to heal we most certainly initially need to seek validation from someone but most importantly in time we must learn to find it from deep within our selves and our own souls for this is where our true healing lies.

Once our reality is validated from inside it becomes so much easier to love ourselves, to know that we were always worthy of protection and care but that also life is not perfect and due to this we as humans can and do suffer all kinds of hurt and abuse.  We may think “this should never have happened to me” but the truth is it has.  Hate it as we must we have to deal with the consequences and further we have to learn how to live a peaceful and loving life from within that place in order that we don’t go on to re-enact the hurt upon ourselves or others over and over and over again.

Most certainly it helps to have a champion or companion on this journey.  In my own life the unconditional loving presence of my therapist Katina has meant so much to me.  I have and do struggle with such self criticism at times, mostly over things that were so far outside of my control, with Katina I get a reality check as to where I am being too hard on myself and I see also where others can at times be hard on me and I see that I can stand up for my truth in the face of that.  I had an incident yesterday where I had to do that with someone who was a bit of a bully and was trying to criticise me in a joking way.   I didn’t have to carry the anger of it as I took the steps to stand up for myself at the time.  In years past his criticism could have launched me into a negative spiral for some days.

Self love, self care, self compassion and self acceptance are such critical issues on our healing journey from neglect, emotional abandonment and any other kind of trauma or abuse.  These are the healing balm to counter the voices and forces of self condemnation and self rejection that we may have internalised while growing up in dysfunctional environments and societies full of shame based attitudes which can leave such a destructive lasting legacy and impact recycling for years.  Without them it is hardly possible to heal and grow as we so need to.

 

Time Out

Lay down with it

I have been taking time away from blogging and electronic media, time to get closer to being, to the present, to feel my soul and to what arises in that space.  I am seeing with great clarity how I hammer myself with criticism and how much that comes out of old pain.

I experienced depths of rage yesterday I thought may blow me apart.  It didn’t but today I have a dull headache, feeling all that anger had a big impact on my body so this morning I sat quietly with Jasper stretched out beside me, listening to my soul, listening to my old pain, feeling the enormity of it, seeing judgements the critic was trying to rain down then hearing the strong uprising of love, self forgiveness and compassion from deep within, feeling myself float in an ocean of peace way beyond the agony of the deep twisting pain I was in yesterday.

As I was contemplating there it occurred to me how shallow the critic is in its judgements and observations.  It doesn’t see the full deep complex humanity of things, it thrives on absolutes and black/white categories, wrong/right, bad/good polarities.  In no way does it embrace the mysterious totality, it narrows our heart’s space, confining us and others in that toxic prison.

In contrast the open expansiveness of self love and forgiveness frees our souls from breathless confinement.  Pain eclipses our view of all rational reference points while forcing us to travel much deeper below the surface of things.  We penetrate mysteries and feel restored to depths difficult to communicate, we feel the release of peace, a wide open vista, often only after those terrible days on which the intensity of our sadness, fear or anger felt completely overpowering.   On these awful days, difficult as they are we are recognising, feeling and releasing something.

Yesterday showed me how much resentment I have towards my mother over things from the past.  There is always a trigger and on Tuesday it was finding out that I have to wait 3 months to have the infected tooth removed and that there was no way they would move anything to accommodate me earlier despite the fact that the infection is painful and having a negative impact on my system, despite the fact I was crying in pain, despite the fact I was led to believe the tooth would be coming out next month.

This put me back in that old powerless painful place where there is nothing I can do get the help at the time I needed the help, and yet despite this and the fact my therapist offered me an extra session to make up for the one we will miss today,  I didn’t take it, which made me see that sometimes I don’t reach for the things I want or need because I feel I shouldn’t or should put my needs on hold and I see now how the two are related for in childhood I was indeed deeply powerless over things my mother did, ways she held us hostage in fear, ways in which our bodies drenched in fear had to lock down into anxious hyper alert while waiting with anxious trepidation to see what may be flung at us or fly through the air possibly to hit us!!!!  Powerless, powerless, powerless and then my father DID NOTHING.  HE JUST LAUGHED!!!!

After writing that sentence on one level I can laugh too, but I also see how for a child these things are not funny, they are deadly serious, they are full body/soul experiences which engage every molecule and cell with in us and lock the effects in tissue deep inside until a later time when old cell, trigger, imprints are once again engaged.  And then we blame our selves or others blame us because we have frozen, gone mute, collapsed, rationalised or got paralysed.  WTF!!!  Inner, outer critic you see nothing, you know nothing!

Re sent ment.  Anger we resend over and over and over again, replaying it in our systems, replaying it in our relationships, both in the partners we attract as well as the way we react or fail to react and yet this anger is our vital life’s energy and blood, it is the part of us that makes us know something is happening to us that isn’t right, the pain of the splinter we swallow and that continues to roam around inside of us shows the place where we most need to bestow on our own soul and process awareness, consciousness, present attention and love.

Today I am going easy on myself.  Today I am not going to replay that old pain over and over and over again.  Yesterday I finally got to scream it out over the phone with my Mum but not ‘at’ her.  Yesterday I finally got my body and soul to say HOW MUCH IT ‘F’ING HURT!!!  Today I have maybe on some level ingested the anger to such a degree that body spasm is letting me go and the concertina of pull in/push out symptoms working out are abating as my body has shown me how much of the pain it carried had so little to do with me and was about a far larger and longer generational history playing out.  The anger coming at me wasn’t mine but being powerless and on the receiving end of it meant I then got that upload or down load of anger and fear like a shot of adrenaline into my system.

And today I got to forgive myself for all the pain that caused so many ill effects, for in the end I was never to blame.  I was never a bad person.  I was only a person who was struggling with the impact of so much,so often alone.   And I was the one who said, when I got sober, something deeper is going on here and I am going to break the cycle and turn back within to find out what it is.

It’s going to be some time until I can totally forgive others, but I know I am on the way.   Forgiveness is starting with myself and its what I must live, if I ever really want to be free.  It seems so clear to me that forgiveness can only come AFTER we have lived through and fully acknowledged the painful consequences of what hurt and damaged us and found the deeper reality, painful as that is.   I may never be able to forget all that I was powerless over but allowing the opening of a peaceful place of self forgiveness and unconditional acceptance inside reveals to me an expansive space within which everything can be met with love even hate, resentment and anger, if these two are, as I suspect, just darker forms of soul expression.   Such an opening shows me that peace is possible, does exist,  out in an open field where the sun shines on a new day free of the strangle hold of pain and is found when pain is accepted and entered deeply rather than resisted, only then can it perform its alchemy on our soul.

Self judgement

Forgiveness.jpg

I just listened to a radio programme about a woman who was raped as a teen by someone she trusted when she was drunk.  Many years down the track the perpetrator has owned up to his actions and together they have written a book.  What struck me was that the theme of self judgement and forgiveness was central to the interview.  The woman spoke of how she blamed herself as a victim of abuse, how a large part of her healing involved forgiveness for herself.  I thought of my own struggles with self judgement when I have got into difficult situations particularly with men, especially in my earlier years.  I also thought of how sad and challenging it is that survivors have to struggle so with self judgement in situations in which they were powerless.  The woman eventually forgave herself and the abuser.

It would be so good if we could learn to show ourselves self compassion, if we could admit our powerlessness in situations in which we truly were powerless, as opposed to situations in which we can use that as an excuse.   Feeling helpless and powerless does tend to develop in people who were not empowered when they were young, who had justified flight and fight responses disabled by parental shame, abuse or criticism.

Feeling trapped, or powerless has been a big part of the legacy of my own trauma which involved being trapped in a car following my MVA and in a hospital bed for many months afterward.   I recognise a deep part of me that can feel powerless in situations where I really have the power to leave, but leaving my requires of me courage or the ability to speak for myself and my own needs and face my fears.  I fear disappointing others at times when really I should not disappoint myself.  I fear moving forward at times when the way ahead seems unclear.

In the end the woman in the interview found love, forgiveness and compassion for herself.  What a different approach we would take to life and others if we could forgive while at the same time recognising abuse as abuse, something we didn’t deserve or play any part in causing.  Something painful and deeply tragic that was a very difficult learning experience.

 

 

 

Forgiveness, like rain

Set free.jpg

Forgiveness tender falling down like rain

With these tears I shed

The shackles of my braced soul

Loosen

And I feel my heart to be

Not the centre of my body

But rather

The entirety of my consciousness

When we spoke

I felt the distance between us

We will never fully breach

All the times our words flung us so far apart

And yet in your heart

There was a longing

I feel in some way I fell short

I was never the one you could recognise

In the end that was my task

To undertake elsewhere

To find that recognition

Through others and deep within

Now I ask for your support

I wonder what old need I am replaying

Surely I am an adult now

It is time to make my own way in the world

I lingered a long time

Looking for something in the emptiness

And only found deeper darker space

And yet love was there too

Birthed within the deeper recognition

Of that emptiness

Which was, in some strange way

A place of birth

In the recognition

Of all you could not give

I see how much you lacked

And so tenderly

Forgiveness falls down like rain

Washing all my wounded places clean