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.
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.
Today I am gaining a sense of what it may mean to me to begin to live a free life outside of the suffering of my painful family and past. I read an interesting line in a reading today that said “because my fate – my very life – was no longer tied to theirs”.” WOW!!! Did the lights come on when I read that reading. It made me realise that in one line those words expressed a central truth of my life, and then I thought about something else I read about the North Node in Leo where the writer Martin Shulman spoke of how the central lesson with this astrological placement was to learn how not to identify with impersonal karma.
I am very aware of how much my own strong family karma legacy tied up with addiction and emotional abandonment has affected me until now and it is only lately that I am glimpsing the possibility that I may be finally able on some level to break free, that all along these wounds I suffered had nothing to do with me and my intrinsic soul but were learnings never the less. They are ancestral issues that have replayed and I believe that also a huge part of my recovery journey involves learning about how to live as a person deeply conscious of all that ancestral karma but able to also transcend and live outside of it, too.
I do believe it is possible to no longer tie my energy to that ship of doom because I heard an inner voice telling me to open the book to that page to read those words this morning which turned a light bulb on inside my mind.
But just writing that I do believe that perhaps in someway it has been my necessary fate to be the one who brings conscious awareness to the wound which is really a deep mother wound, a mothering and mother wound that I recognise from knowing the ancestral history goes back to the death of my great, great, great grandmother hundreds of years ago. That death and grief led to the migration of my great, great grandfather in 1874. He travelled thousands and thousands of miles away from his family in Cornwall with a young family and a little baby daughter who died and was the first one to bear the name Eliza Jane Trudgeon, the name of my mother’s mother’s mother! And also the name of my oldest sister’s youngest son’s wife. Really if you know the whole historic tapestry there are just so many of these marvellous, mysterious, interconnections that repeat complimentary colours woven by a skien unravelling across years and lifetimes!
I finally reconnected with my niece yesterday. A schism between her Mum and my Mum has meant that distances and fissures have formed since the 1960s when a motherless daughter came home to meet our family. She was, to my Mum, a curious emotionally detached creature who did not seem to want to ‘fit in’. Then someone (my Mum) did something that hurt someone (my sister in law) and then that someone decided they did not want to have anything much to do with that other person (my Mum). But what lies deeper is the fact that the mother wound in my sister was never understood, nor acknowledged by my own mother. In not being aware many years ago she acted in a way that didn’t show empathy. The issue and event is now really deeply regretted by my Mum but no forgiveness is coming from the other side which is understandable on some level but has had very painful consequences in the later generations and broken apart other relationships causing yet more separation.
These kind of emotional severings due to attachment wounds unprocessed are par for the course in alcoholic or feeling wounded families and I came across a book years ago that spoke of how such cut offs often lead to a mental illness with an emotional attachment basis in later generations. To quote AA “we are only as sick as our secrets” or as damaged as we are to past wounds and issues gone unconscious or buried, severed or sealed off locked tightly away with fear and hate bred through misunderstanding and deep hurt unprocessed and unhealed. Suffice to say that this wounded person also lacks empathy most particularly to her own daughter and then you realise it really is a case of the blind and wounded hurting the blind and wounded. One or two scorpions locked in a deathly battle fearing ever to let down their guard and be open and vulnerable.
Together yesterday my niece and I unravelled and then tied back together some of the severed threads. I missed my beautiful niece being in my life for so many years, as for a couple of years we were so close to each other. There is really no one like one of your blood family who is also spiritually awakening to share with. In each others eyes and from sharing heart to heart you find yourself no longer split off, but returned home to deep soul recognition.
Yesterday bought both sadness and happiness. Mum is in hospital with blocked veins. Trauma gave me the courage to try to connect with my niece and that made my heart sing with joy, she gave me so much affirmation and I learned even more from our hour long chat, but our conversation also brought into stark relief my own need to separate from an emotional caretaker or holder of wounded feeling/family scapegoat role that I seem to have been locked inside for years and years leading to inner unhappiness. And I see most clearly that my need to break free must now be honoured. So much of that karma was never personal but I took it on in a saviour role which was not healthy and I feel now must be firmly and finally let go.
Our struggle is, in many ways what births us. I think this is the deeper reason behind why we can feel pissed or ripped off when people tell us platitudes like “it was all for a reason” which is something that formed a large chunk of a post I posted earlier with a quote from Debbie Ford on the shadow. Even as I was posted it I thought how being told that suffering was all part of the divine plan may anger or be intensely triggering for some reason as the last thing we really all want is to suffer and coming to see the wisdom in awful pain and suffering or abuse is something we have to arrive at in our own time and through our own process.
A central tenant of Buddhist wisdom, though is the fact that suffering is intrinsic to life and we only have power over how we choose to respond. Do we curse it or bless it? Do we put our focus on the lack or the gain? And as I write this it occurs to me that struggle even attends our first moments on earth depending on how easy or difficult our birth was.
Birthing as a physical being is also not the same as birthing ourselves on a psychological or spiritual level. For that birth is something that can be stymied or thwarted depending on the environment we were born into and how well it matched out intrinsic soul need. And then we have the thorny aspect of family karma. If we come from a family where in past generations traumas, loss and separation from love manifesting in alcoholism or addiction were strong themes. Add to this the fact of the collective traumas that our families of the past were subject to, to greater or lesser degrees and that is a lot of historic struggle to unravel and unpack.
Understanding my own family karma and patterns has made it a little easier for me to reach for forgiveness lately. I see how much my own two families, of mother and father were impinged upon by collective events of war and depression. I see how a battle to survive meant my family was full of struggle and so the issue of nurture was a difficult one. At times I have felt a bit selfish to be honestly lately when I realise how my own mother struggled in the absence of a dead father and mother who was constantly absent due to providing for her daughter. At the age of 13 my grandmother also wanted my Mum to go live with a family and become a domestic servant. I think by then she had a new man on the horizon or maybe she just thought this would give her daughter a better chance at survival. My Mum rebelled and found herself a job as a tailor’s apprentice.
At age 13 I went into the family business, a clothing store, part time and on weekends. It was on one of the weekends 4 years later that I had my major motor vehicle smash which aborted my entire last semester of school. I never formally graduated. Times of transition or cyclic new birth times are therefore difficult and full of fear for me. I fear at these kind of times I will literally die. I had the whole thing retriggered when my marriage ended taking myself far away and smashing up. I see that this is what I chose to do even though a large part of my soul hungered to stay close to my own Mum at that time. Separation, transitions and new steps forward are especially fraught for me and that isn’t my fault. I undergo a lot of separation anxiety. The best I can do lately is work to become more conscious of the pattern and love myself through it.
Yesterday the beat up voice was back telling me how little I have amounted to my life, casting its distainful gaze on my home and telling me I should end my life. I was lucky enough to cry from the inner child and then the loving adult showed up and told the critic to back off. I know the critic is trying to protect me from something but the cost of his criticism on my tender soul is too brutal. Would the world really be better off if I were dead, as the critic said yesterday? I don’t think so. Am I really such a fuck up? And is my life over yet? NO!
I know in my life I have struggled in all sorts of ways. I don’t carry deep within me an implicit feeling of trust, security and safety in this life. I tend to see the negative side and anticipate disaster. I know more now and that it is a protective mechanism but it isn’t one that always serves me well. I struggle with believing all the harsh things that happened to me were all part of a plan but in another way I do believe it. And I was so blessed to get sober at 31.
I may have struggled in later years but my sober life is a big achievement and all the emotional work I have done since. I don’t check out for the most part, I front up and try to live and engage to the best of my ability. And my struggle on many levels is both what births me as well as keeping me realistic and grounded. Much of my own shadow is not full of darkness but full of repressed light and love. Its only lately I am feeling that it is finally putting in an appearance after years and years and years of living in the closet. As someone who almost drowned in her own shadow I am so grateful now that I don’t have to identify myself as permanent scapegoat or victim. At one time I was powerless over all kinds of things and they did victimise me. But I also now choose to say, that these things were things I survived and chose to face, not that there is any sin in not doing so, for some darkness weighs too heavy upon more gentle souls and can drown them, especially if there is no one there help with the grand archetypal battle with the inner critic/shame based/shadow.
That is a profound truth that I most implicitly understand. Yesterday when my inner battle was going on a voice inside my head asked me this. “Deborah, which voice are you going to give power to, the voice of love or the voice of fear and hate?” Yesterday I chose love and as I consider the entire thing this afternoon for the rest of my life I want love to be the final word, most of all love for myself, love for the struggle and love for my fellow humans.
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.
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.
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.