A wonderful talk by spiritual teacher and therapist Tara Brach on how to move with the tide of change in a world both living and dying, while opening our heart to what is both precious and passing.
You will forever be for me
A ghost or a shadow
But never near enough to touch
The longing and memory of you
Will be with me every day
Even though sometimes
Much of the time
These longings and memoies
Will fall into forgetting
Like a heavy stone
That falls into a stream
There may always live inside of me
At times my heart will break
Open with the sadness
Of all you lacked the capacity to give
And today I realised
That for my heart
There may never be
An absolute healing
But never the less
Day by day I try my very very best
To make my peace
With all of this.
I lay in bed and cried with love thinking about my sister last night and how hard she has struggled with her mental health. It was good to let those feelings go and flow through, opening up to the love (that is ful of grief) and not be stuck in petty blaming of past stuff that went down between us.. It has taken me some time to see how everyone is injured in traumatised or neglectful families and how then, we so often turn it around and blame each other.
The truth is in the past I felt scared of my sister.. At times she could be abrupt, but it was abrupt with caring at times I think she also struggled a lot with emotional repression being a sensitive person.. Recently it is not lost on me how caring my sister actually is and all the times she tried so hard to be a loving sister.. I just could not see it so clearly before. When she got sick she was often nasty but I guess that was just the dis-ease within her talking. I see that more clearly now too.
I think because of the way I ran away after my Dad died on the back of such trauma there was a lot I could not see or understand from a more mature perspective, these days I see my parents as people who tried their best with SO GODDAM MUCH ON THEIR PLATES. I also understand the fear that might had driven my Dad escaping Holland narrowly before it’s German occupation… I always wondered why he never kept connection with his siblings and why I had such an outpouring of emotion when I finally deeply connected with my Aunty Lies (his third sister) in 2000. Now I see SO MUCH OF MYSELF IN HER and understand how attachment patterns carry along generations. I just feel sad I could not go to her after my head injury in 2005 as she really wanted me there with her. It was too much for me at that stage, but in later years I have connected with her oldest grandson.
My heart opens in compassion a lot more lately, even for my brother who maintains distance and is palming off this struggle with my sister’s and my inheritance.. I wonder why he doesn’t fully let himself enjoy the money he has worked so hard for and won’t allow it to be released to my sister and I so we can make good use of it (including helping family to make their live easier because there is more than enough to help everyone who needs it in such challenging times a little bit.) But then I think as someone born in 1944 he is victim of the cult of individualism and the each man for himself in a man made universe mythology he suffered.. He also lived through the early years when Mum and Dad returned to Australia in the early 50s from the (then) Dutch East Indies and had no money at all. During that time Dad could not get his engineering qualifications recognised and had to take up a desk job.
If my brother is a member of the ‘just put it all behind you’ club, maybe it is because when Dad died he was with a partner so rigidly defended against her earlier losses she could not be with him and even told him to push my Mum away with the backhander “She needs to stand on her own two feet”. I wonder at his own carried grief over Dad and I remember the tears he shed at both my older sister and Mum’s funerals.
That said as the oldest boy he got more of the help than my older sister Judith and I did and far more attachment connection with Dad and he stays very close to his own family on a practical level in a way my two other sisters’ could not when various traumas shattered and splintered our family. By the time I was struggling to develop as an adult I had already nearly died, seen my sister cut down and then endured the death of my father and then I was pushed overseas with not support, so my pattern is to go it alone and not reach out for support. To turn away in avoidant/anxious/insecure attachment.
I was saying to Scott the other day that as soon as he can get my money back to me I want to start some form of study.. I really want to help others more actively with mental health and he diploma that appeals to me is one that through TAFE helps me to work with young people in crisis. I cannot pay for the course until the powers that be release money I am rightfully owed..I don’t want to feel guilt over the money owed to me from Mum that she and Dad worked so hard for. The sad thing is they never go to enjoy it before Dad died as he worked so hard and then pushed too hard on the back of escaping a war ravaged country. But then I think my real need is just to be able to sustain a close loving relationship that is not riddled with fear or anxiety.. I so often think of inviting people over but an inner voice blocks the impulse…. I know connection as to begin with me, because at times I pushed everyone away.. I had so much grieving to do.. so I see it as a sign of progress being less miffed with siblings.. a sign of growing maturity to see it from a different perspective.. Being the youngest was not easy… but I guess each sibling role came with difficulties.
Somedays it all seems to be moving too fast, life and demands seem enormous.. It is one of the reasons for the past three mornings I have let myself settle back to rest for a hour or more just to slow myself down, constant demands play in my head, fears for my sister, lists of things I need to do to maintain my own life and health and that of Jasper, so today I just stopped the angst and settled my breathing and rolled over and got an extra hour’s rest (did the same on Friday and Saturday too!)
Today the neighbours needed to meet about a new fence they are building as their home is nearing completion over the next few months. I had to get to the fruit and veg markets today as I had spent yesterday afternoon with my sister the round trip can take up to 3 hours depending on how long I stay. Its a constant balancing act but today my own needs came first and Jasper and I managed only a short walk around the block.
I’ll be glad to settle in and rest again at home this afternoon… Commitments to help my sister with clothes will have to wait and even though today is Dad’s birthday I am letting it pass in silence.. no one has reached out and he was in my thoughts a lot this morning… It is interesting visiting a house under construction as it reminds me of being with Mum and Dad when the Mugga Way place was being built. It was a big move for us and we had to live in a very cold house with only concrete floors through a tough, bleak Canberra winter. The number of that house 88 relates both to transformation and death, during the years there I crashed and nearly died, my sister had a stroke and entered a coma for a month later turning psychotic and my Dad became ill and died.
Today I am not crying over Dad I just have acceptance for it all. I am not fighting life or my past today.. Some may say you need to keep expressing the pain and fury or hate or hurt over what happened to you, but what if your soul chose it on some level? I know that angers a lot of people who have been abused or endured a lot of loss. I know for myself, as therapist Alice Miller says, genuine anger cannot be passed by on the road to authentic healing from trauma, abuse or injury….and believe me in no way am I saying we deserve abuse or pain but when we let that pain turn us into a person who only uses it to feed ongoing feelings of hatred, resentment and hurt what is the purpose? And when we use it to amp up the fight/flight response all of the time we just end up triggering more panic and anxiety and disturbance.
Yes there is a time to vent and get that unearned shit or slander or the put downs out of your system. Yes there is a time to rebel, to say no, however surrender and letting go is not always about defeat but about saying some things are just larger than us and so far out of our control.. This realisation is part of the reason I wept so deeply and for so long and so quietly with my sister yesterday.. there were no words to say and she didn’t say much either was just perplexed. But sharing about it on the empath page others said they also cry around certain people and energies and then feel a release as soon as they leave. Who knows what I am clearing for the collective when I cry, who knows if just being with my sister opens up all of our shared pain…. The grief I felt yesterday went so deep into the core and heart and soul of myself, the tears were not only for what got stolen from me in terms of life but for my mother and father and sisters too in dealing with the long term affects of multi-generational traumas our grandparents and great great grandparents endured.
Pulling back from the downward spiral of hurt and angst is never easy for me. Saying “No” to others demands in the past has often been beyond me..but at the moment, I am at my limit and IT MUST BE DONE FOR SANITY AND HEALTH, if only for a few days.
I was grateful to be guided by higher power to a good reading on anger earlier today in the reader Hope For Today. I will share it at the bottom of this post, later.. Recovery shows me with time I have a choice of how to respond to hurts, angers, invalidation or triggers. I do not have to give the power to others over my reactions.. I can go vent to get a grip on what is burning me, share the frustration and pain with a safe person and then quietly go back and speak my truth to the triggerer if that seems right and valid.. If not I can pray to release the charge or externalise it somehow…..
Sometimes in the past I have had to scream NO only to have people look at me like I have leprosy of some kind.. But my experience is that those who know why I had to yell that NO end up sticking around, they get it. I wish my sister was strong enough to say NO to shock treatment but she isn’t.. Being passive serves no one and I am not talking about passivity when I talk about surrender and letting go. I am talking about an active step of sanity and health that shows me where my boundaries lie.. I am not super human I am just not and there is a time to pull the pin and walk away from shit rather than lose energy in a response that will only end up depleting me further.
The reading on handling anger taken from Hope For Today follows.
I was around a lot of anger this weekend. Some of it belonged to the alcoholics in my life, and some of it belonged to me as I came to grips with my powerlessness over people, places and things.
By applying the Serenity Prayer to the various situations that occurred, I was reminded that my anger can be an attempt to change someone or something because I don’t want to change. Being willing to change – to acknowledged my anger, identify its source, look at my part in it, and express it lovingly – is a big part of my Fourth and Tenth steps (inventory and daily inventory).
I gain self worth when I change the things I can and accept responsibility for my reactions rather than blaming or shaming another. I have choices. I can stay in my anger, or I can use it as a signal that I need to change. I trust my Higher Power (or inner sane parent) to show me what I need to do so that I can experience the sense of self that comes from accepting emotional responsibilities and realities.
The how, what, when, and why of expressing my feelings is one major part of life over which I do have control.
It seems to me our deepest impulse in terms of the need to be loved underlies so much of our grief.. not only over loving and losing but over never finding that love in the form we needed it when young… We all long to be seen and known, when this doesn’t happen there is a grief that sits under the surface of consciousness and may not be ‘known’ by us for some time.. This ‘hole in the soul’ runs deep and since we first seek that in our family of origin its here where the wounds happen and they need to be addressed in later life if we want to eventually come fully to life in order to live and love as our true selves.
I was thinking a moment ago of the four solutions we resort to that Mark Wolynn talks of when we seek to connect with a parent or source of love in childhood.. one is that we find that source in them and do connect, the second is the parent fails to provide and so we cut off that longing and flow and subvert it.. in another we seek it from a sibling.. this is what I did with my Mum and Dad being unavailable.. it was my older sister who saw me, but she left and then got sick and so that was a double grief for me. Over time I learned to turn within or to substances and in time I lost access to my true feelings over it, it has been these feelings I have had to work with in active sobriety.
I just went and sat down by the lake and finished off a wonderful novel I have been reading but at the end of it my thoughts turned to my sister.. Earlier I read Oscar Cainers daily horoscope for Aquarius that said in an uncertain world its hard to know what to believe or where to turn but that there are five qualities that can sustain us.. : Kindness, Friendship, Generosity, Compassion and Love.. I thought of the nasty inaccurate things my living sister said to me in the year after Jonathan left and how her brutality coming out of emotional ignorance drove me over to the UK where the unprocessed anger and hurt over it lead to a massive head injury.. maybe something about this time that is now erased for her due to all the meds and shock treatment is perculating down inside.. She tried to erase me from the coast house earlier in the year by packing up all of my books and boxes and storing them in the shed.. To her it was probably done out of a desire to help me as I said it was hard to go down there alone to the place I ended up forsaken and abandoned after my husband left. I was so hurt by that back in February but I sucked it up on our trip there.. I just called the removalists and they came to pack it all up. I didn’t have an angry outburst I just cried and cried and cried. I seem to do a lot of crying around my sister when I don’t have anxiety spin outs around her.
Despite all of this I feel for my sister.. lying in bed with the blankets pulled up all around her unable to communicate with visitors… I don’t know what it is going to take to bring her back from the dark side this time.. and despite this I do feel love… but its a confused kind of love.
In the movie 28 Days Sandra Bullock makes friends with her sister who appears to be the more high functioning sibling in the traumatised family.. she recognises that her sister was once a child too in the family system and sought her own role which involved looking down on the ’embarrasing’ active addict who is expressing so much of the family pain…In a similar way my mother always forgave her mother for hitting her as she knew that as an abandoned war widow with no government assistance left to support a young daughter all alone so far from family that her Mum was frustrated.. it was something her best friend’s daughter and I discussed the other day… that generation had to suck it up… and they had to bury so much… trauma and stress just get carried or passed on as epigenetic research by Bruce Lipton and Dr Yehuda demonstrates..
I am a bit off the track writing this right now. It is a processing post… I just thought on the way home of how much, as a young child I longed for my sister’s love but how our family was so geared around externals it was hard to find that… in the end it is something I have had to find for myself as an adult with the help of therapy and my higher power. That said I still grieve for those who left me and could not love me where I was at and this included my ex husband.. He gave me a great gift when he emailed me back in May when he said “I really understand your need for therapy now.” He actively tried to block it along with my Mum but in the end I trusted my path into the dark…
Through it along the way I found the love for myself and even for my wounded family.. how could they give me something they never had, or a sense that I am perfect as I am even with all of my idiosyncrasies? I now see I can only gain that in any authentic way from within and even after years of being almost crippled by a virulent inner critic who was almost demonic at times.. Slowly over time and through much agony I am coming to a deeper understanding of the inner forces that drove me towards addiction and self hatred…I also understand more deeply and have more compassion for the forces that drove that poor inner child of my Mum who had to struggle so hard to be seen and find her own path..
At 14 years of age Mum actively defied a mother who wanted her only to be a domestic servant and found a profession.. She fought to be seen in the fashion industry by top designers.. she was bloody trojan, she just had to be.. I am glad in so many ways for the gifts of strength she bequeathed me as well as the deep deep insecurity… in the end it was for me to make sense of it all and carve my own self out of that inheritance.. today I feel myself becoming stronger while at times more profoundly aware of inner vulnerabilities, fears, weak spots and insecurities…
I am also learning how intimately and intricately longing, grief and love are interconnected along with rage… in the end each of us must work to understand the emotions that drive us as we grapple to find which emotions to express and which are in need of alchemy, each of us has to find ways to contain our wounds and find the healing solution in bearing witness to them for long enough that self love and insight as well as self compassion can arise. Armed with these tools we are less likely to judge others and we become more able to define boundaries as well as see where the impulses to merge or belong create complex challenges for us.
My heart goes out to you
Pain in my chest
Hard to rest
Knowing you feel lost again
There are no longer any ideas here
About what is right or wrong
Because the truth is I do not know
All I know is that
Sometimes I feel we are cursed
By an age old wound
I try my best
To keep keeping everything
But deep down inside I know
There is no way to really say
The absolute truth of what it is
My heart feels for you
You struggle so very hard to stay alive
That now to feel you sinking
Hurts me so
And I am really all out of words
Because deep in my heart I know
This pain you carry
Has no resolution
Will never ever ever
I did not think I could contain all the tears that burst out of me today in therapy, its been such a rocky few days, the body pain has been searing since Tuesday and I did not think I could stay on earth with it.. it was truly horrendous. This pain comes up when doubt eclipses love as more longing and togetherness is thwarted, and it contains all the losses I had to keep at bay..
Today in therapy I was back in the hospital ward after the crash in September 1979 and remembering all the nights Mum and Dad came up with meals for me and a small bottle of wine… they didn’t know any other way but to give me that ‘medicine’ for the pain, and I cried over that. Today I felt the love they struggled to show .. but MY GOD thr pain I was in… it had no words at all and today as the dam inside of me burst with all the pain of the pent up smash and emotions I felt I was exploding as I felt the pressure all around my chest crushing me.
Earlier I had been sharing with Kat my therapist about my post on the astrology of the Queen and in particular about her Saturn in Scorpio that became both the Sun and the Moon in her two son’s charts and Kat shared how in the second season of The Crown you see her becoming more and more boxed in with the repression of the formalism of her role and the pressures of ‘duty’ as well as the pressing down of emotion.
I remembered today too, how my sister came to wash my hair after a few weeks as prior to that time, my head was too smashed around. In fact, at our school reunion last year, someone said the moment they saw me in hospital they had to leave the room and throw up. After the crash I wasn’t given a mirror for some weeks.. my sister had to come behind the back of the bed and use a bucket of water to wash my hair.. these acts of kindness I remember now and they break my heart open.
Not sure why all this is emerging right now but it may have to do with twelfth house transits of Sun and Mercury, the sun is due to shift from water to fire soon and that always feels intense for me as that initial 15 degrees of Leo fire are ‘trapped’ in the 12th house. Until these two energies move over the ascendant I can feel like I am being crushed or pressed down, especially as they oppose my Mars Saturn Moon, and lots of images of past things have been flooding through me over the past day or so…
In therapy the grief was also over watching the movie Nights in Rodanthe again yesterday, the scenes in which the lead character waits for her loved one to come home to her from South America only to find he has died broke me apart, and then the scene in which his son hands her a box full of letters and other personal effects of his Dad summoned up memories.. Also at the end of the movie in the midst of her grief on the beach she looks up to see about 5 wild horses running towards her and it was then i remembered that at about this time 14 years ago how my husband handed me a little blue metal box at the airport as he was leaving me with 200 dollars and said to me ‘this is for a horse ride on the beach.’ I know with that simple gesture how much he wanted me to be free but all of my unresolved unfelt grief lay before me then at I hit 10 years of active sobriety.. such a journey of heartbreak into the dark I had to begin from 2004 onwards so dark it almost crushes my heart entirely. It may seem to some strange to say I can still be grieving his loss all this time later, but today again, as that anniversary draws near I feel the both the love and the longing I had for him to say he would stay by my side, n abandon me, and hold my hand while I went through it, but then he had his own grief he had not yet dealt with, so I must forgive, I do forgive.
It is right that I grieve. It is right that I still feel sadness not only for my lost opportunity to live a life in freedom with him overseas but in recognition for the ancestral loss of the father I carried for four subsequent generations… this work I am doing is not only personal, it is collective too. I heard a lovely thing about crying in the movie Little Italy this week in which the grandmother says to her grand daughter Nikki that tears wash the soul clean.. I would never want to deny anyone tears. I also know there is a time to be happy but how would we know happiness without tears and sorrow (the loss of which they speak?) How would we know joy without knowing such agonising depths of pain? So why deny others their legitimate feelings and grief, maybe because so many in our culture fear it.
Tonight I still feel raw, I have a splitting head but its the result of carrying all the pent up emotions that I had to release in therapy today. Just when i think the deep dive is over I hit another wave of remembrance which seems fitting with Mercury passing over the degrees of my Mum’s Pluto in Cancer. Mine has been a life wracked with illness, accidents, addiction, repression, loss and suffering and I am still shedding all of this… I do not dictate this process, God does…. I just have to submit to the cleansing as it happens, allowing the healing waves of emotions to wash over me and bathe me, summoning up all the buried flotsam and jetsum, until they are done with me.
Wow, my eyes are full of tears right now, good tears.. I just got a beautiful comment on a poem I wrote this week that really spoke to me : ’emerging but carrying the weight of the dark night as a valuable treasure..’ That comment was so affirming and it made me realise how much value there is in the dark night journey as well as in honesty…
Last night as I was lying in bed crying over the past and the emotional black hole in my family and someone who messages me from overseas said to me ‘don’t cry, It’s a waste of time.’ I just said this : ‘actually I find supreme value in tears, to me they speak of an emotional truth”. There is also something that analyst and story teller Clarissa Pinkoles Estes talks about in the myth of The Handless Maiden, in that chapter of her book Women Who Run With the Wolves she says “tears soften the soul and keep away the predator.”
Have you ever noticed that there is something calcified and almost demonic about people who cannot cry deeply nor acknowledge you when you do, or even worse, treat you as if there is something wrong with you for having an emotional reaction or crying?” To me, tears come from the soul, in fact I just opened up a book in which I sometime jot down poems to find these written down from somewhere : ‘tears, the soul’s rain shower!’
I do believe that tears come from the soul and from love as well as the hollow pit of utter emptiness from which the soul cries out trying to make its need for love known in it echoing absence as well as bear testament to an emotional truth.. I wish we would mine our tears more to be honest.. I wish there was a literacy around tears, permission to have them.. To me tears act as a release.. A beautiful follower of mine, Mark always says “I feel so much better after a good cry ; snotty nose!” I am not saying that we should all sit around crying all of the time, and there is a time to look for the blessings in things going wrong, emotional pain and challenges or things getting stolen or lost. There is also time to take ourselves by the hand after we have been feeling sad and find ways to lighten up and bring some fun and joy into our lives but we can also find the gifts present in the darker times…
I think of all of the beautiful songs and poems that come out of sadness, heartbreak and sorrow, I also think of those songs that have the power to uplift us spiritually and speak to our soul in the depths.. Listening to the blues or someone like Eva Cassidy helps me to move through sadder feelings or come to terms with things not working out…there is a time just to let the soul ache and release the heartbreak so that we can use it to move on through and power our next phase of the journey…
I am back in a deep dip at the moment to be honest.. This time of year corresponds with a very painful and dark time for me when I fell pregnant and had to have the baby terminated due to a health issue…it also coincided with a break up and a time of betrayal at the hands of the person I was involved with then.. That said I was also bringing darkness on me by drinking too much and taking drugs and it would only be three years later that the final years of my active drinking and drugging would occur… I still had so many years left to work through my pain… I can never not forget that time on a deeply unconscious bodily level as the air turns heavier and darker with the slow approach of winter…I feel the great darkness of the years 1980 to 2011 when I finally moved home and began the necessary inner psychological work to make it conscious.
I have known great darkness and it will always be a part of me.. but as that reader acknowledged my blog must show that I do carry it now more as a gift than a curse….I can not ever live completely on the light side of life. In astrological terms I am far too Plutonian for that with the planet of the Underworld in my first house of soul identity and connected to my Moon Saturn Mars and Chiron. I got sober in 1993 when that configuration was triggered by a Pluto transit.. Mars is hitting it now and will be for the next few weeks…. so in some way I have to go with Underworld pull when its summons me leaving part of myself above ground as an observer, available to throw my soul a life line should I need it to come back up to the light, daylight world should things get too heavy..
Before this time the Underworld used to claim my soul completely. As a Persephone woman I identify with the dark themes of loss, pain, grief and feelings of being overpowered by stronger more willful souls. Yes I know the Underworld.. I just sometimes don’t feel that comfortable with the pull, especially in a world that sees the Underworld sojourner as a bit of a threat or danger… Robert Hand says of first house Pluto people.. people love you deeply or are scared to death of you, seeing you as a threat….its not an easy energy to carry at times, but if we want to manage in life we have to find some kind of way to carry that energy in a positive way.. encouraging others to not feel so strange or exiled or alone if they do too.
It helps me a bit to articulate these energies when they become strong.. It makes me feel less alone at those times I feel pulled on by things that hurt or remind me of the burden of the past… I will be grateful too, for a therapy call this afternoon… dark things and feelings needs to be given air time and I will always be grateful to those willing to listen and extend an open heart and hand when I go through one of my dark phases.
When he slipped away from here
He loosened his hold
On the material world
As his soul was carried away
Into the dreaming
If the pain right now
Almost impossible to bear
That his soul is free
At peace there in the dreaming
And as thoughts of the past are teaming
Through your soul
Like wild rain
You are not so far away yourself
From the dreaming
It is only this disconnected world
That makes you forget
The eternal connection
Hidden by thought
Hidden by time
For the dreaming is as close
As your breath
And it only takes you
A moment to remind
Your soul and your mind
To open your heart
And embrace the dreaming
This piercing in my head
Hurts like hell
Especially when you speak of the togetherness
I am barred the way from
Is it my permanent curse
To be exiled
To not be able to find
A way to be welcomed in
Unless I break down the door
And yet something in me falters
Feeling I don’t belong here
While another part feels spun awry
By this feeling
Are we not family
Flesh of the same flesh
With blood ties only severed
By a death
No one ever speaks of
Lingering like a ghost
Upon the eve of Christmas
So I will sit all alone here
Remembering so much
While you drive
Not really knowing the way
Full of anxiety
It would be so easy to reach out a hand to me
But instead I will be here
Crying into my hands
Knowing the one who offered me love
Is now exiled too
Because all along
It was just too impossible
To break the family curse