Sadness for the lost child

Child 5.jpg

I think it is a real sign of growth when we can weep for the child in us who never got to fully live, who often had to be buried or hidden deep inside or who was forced to don a disguise of coats of shame or soot and ashes to survive the invalidating, unfacilitating environment of childhood.  Images of this soot covered slave or servant child appear in the book Leaving My Father’s House by therapist Marion Woodman.  In it, along side stories from several of her client’s lives and psychological recovery stories, she shares a psychological interpretation of the fairy tale of Allerleirauh a young girl who running in flight from her family becomes a servant girl to the King, cooking in his kitchen a number of different soups.

In time in the course of this fairytale she attracts the King’s attention and dons three different dresses, the final one being made of Stars.  This is an allusion to how in the course of our psychological work to recover the child covered in soot and ashes we also reclaim and begin to fully live and express our inner radiance and being, that sense of true self that just could not live in our family of origin, was buried, covered in neglect or shame or nearly destroyed over time by internalised, killing voices.

I know that when I feel and shed tears for the years of living covered in soot and ash I have expereince ever since I was a young adolsecence at times I have felt like I could not possibly cry to the depths of it.  However, over time, the undeniable emotional truth becomes very apparent and real – all that we lost, all the ways in which we suffered and were dismisse, all the anger we felt but were not allowed to express.  With the tears shed in grieving we are, in some way, washing away the soot and emerging clearer and cleaner.   We cannot make up for those lost years, ever. But we can emerge into our true radiance if we just trust that we have depths of goldenness and star stuff inside just longing to burst forth, to ‘be’, to express in this life.

When we can fully feel it all through, and that includes our terror, rage, sadness, shame and anger, we will feel buried inside all of those feelings the truth of our spirit which longed over all those years for our recognition, realisation and championing.  We must feel all of these feelings most fully in a body that may have been neglected or filled with shame, for are these not also feelings which will lead us to realise the inner love that our body and soul longs for: a feeling of the fully conscious feminine deep inside of us both man and woman, girl and boy.   The suffering we buried in our body is felt and released as we nurture the spirit, soul child we know ourselves to be most fully from within.

Conscious femininity is living the redeemed body of Eve, regardless of the gender of the human being.  This body is conscious of itself as an intelligent instrument, a living system that actively participates in the divine unfoldment of planetary life.  While finding the harmony of its own natural laws of being, it is at the same time finding the harmony with all forms of life on Earth… Conscious flesh knows that its function (when fully awakened) is the consciousness of this Earth.

We are not separate from the Earth and our inner child knows this, as does our vital lived spirit.  We must do all we can to fully express this truest part of our being.

(Quote taken from : Redeeming Eve’s Body by Mary Hamilton : in Leaving My Father’s House : A Journey Toward Conscious Femininity, by Marion Woodman)

Letting go of numb

The following extract comes from Tara Brach’s book True Refuge : Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart.  Interestingly it concerns a woman who Tara was working with in therapy who as a young child had her long hair cut off by her mother as it was too much bother. I was sharing in a post a few days ago how this also happened to me and the trauma of it was felt when I went to the hairdresser late last week following my Mum’s death.   The woman in question, Jane, had also had her mother die a few years before the time she was seeing Tara.  In therapy she was sharing how the pain of this event had awakened in her heart through intense feelings of fear, felt as a claw “pulling and tearing at my heart”.  What followed was an outburst of anger towards her mother for subjecting Jane to this ordeal.

The anger soon turned into deep sadness as Tara worked with Jane encouraging her to feel the pain and grief deeply in her body, and in time it transformed into peace.  Jane had reached some deeply powerful realisations as a result.

Brach writes the following in her book :

Carl Jung wrote, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of the parents.”  The outer domain of our unlived life includes all the places where we’ve held back from pursuing and manifesting our potential – in education and career, in relationships and creativity.  But it is the inner domain of our unlived life that sets this suffering in motion.  Here we find raw sensations, the longings and hurts, the passions and fears that we have not allowed ourselves to feel. When we pull away from the energetic basis of our experience, we turn away from the truth of what is.  We make a terrible bargain.  When we separate from the felt sense of our pain, we also separate from the visceral experience of love that allows for true intimacy with others.  We cut ourselves off from the sensory aliveness that connects us with the natural world.  When there is unlived life, we can’t take good care of ourselves, our children, our world.

The feelings you are trying to ignore are like a screaming child who has been sent to her room.  You can put earplugs in and barricade yourself in the farthest end of the house, but the body and the unconscious mind don’t forget.  Maybe you feel tension or guilt.  Maybe…. you are baffled by intimacy or haunted by a sense of meaninglessness. Maybe you fixate on all the things you need to get done.  You can’t live in a spontaneous way because your body and mind are still reacting to the presence of your distressed child.  Everythingy ou do to ignore her, including becoming numb, only strengthens your link with her.  Your very felt sense of who you are …is fused with the experience of pushing away a central part of your life or running from it.

In shutting down the passion, hurt and pain she had experienced as a young girl whose precious hair was butchered, Jane had locked herself into a numb and anxious fragment of who she was.  Yet something in her was calling her to live more fully.  By beginning to contact her body’s experience, by touching ground, she was opening the door to what she had been running from.

Traumas of this kind may seem inconsequential, but really they are not.  Something was done to us we didn’t want or need and had no power over and feelings do remain.   The true self in Jane probably loved her long hair,  it wasn’t all just about ego and looking a certain way, hair does hold our power and is connected to our heads which are such a vital part of our being. To be subjected to something that upset us and then to be laughed at for reacting (as Jane was) leaves a scar and a powerful subliminal message.  Going numb to it does not mean the feelings go away, they need to be dealt with, with compassion and sensitivity.

Sweet Solace

AB

Sweet solace

Is like a soft blanket of velvet you wrap around me

When my being is pierced

By a terrible pain

That won’t stay outside of my skin

They say to me

Put on your armour

And take care not to feel so much

Yes, I can see some wisdom in that

But does it not also mean

Closing down a part of my soul

That longs to stay open

Or steming a tidal flow from the heart

That needs to flow?

Instead

Sweet solace says

I see you

I hear you

I feel you

This hurt is real

Here is some healing balm

Given from my soul to yours

Salve to soothe your wounds

And help you find rest

Solace you are so sweet

So thank you

You who gave me

The gift of this comfort

At such a dark and deeply painful time

A whole lotta love

A whole lot of love flowed at my Mum’s funeral celebration today.  I was the little shy crab creeping in the side door of the chapel to avoid too much contact and it was hard to know how much I could trust if the ocean bank flowed open, which it did following my eulogy.  I was held and comforted by my youngest nephew as How Deep Is Your Love played.   The love from those who attended was overwhelming.  My mother was deeply loved.

It was so hard to say goodbye to my oldest nephew who is returning to the UK this evening.   I had a deep feeling I may not see him again but wondered if it was ancestral as in a letter some years after he had emigrated to New Zealand my great, great, great grandfather told my great, great grandfather he feared he would never see him again and it was true.  I let go anyway.  I was a little upset they didnt invite me to lunch so I just went home alone which was fine.   I had a salad and relax with Jasper the huge hole that seems to open up and nearly swallow me only lasted for an hour or so.   As I settled quietly at home I felt better.  We are going out to dinner tonight, I am anxious about it, I carry anxiety that everyone will get on.   Its not rational but its part of me.

All in all today went beautifully.  Most people commented on how wonderful the eulogy I gave was as were the heartfelt eulogies given by my nephews (three in all) as well.   It was a fitting send off to my Mum and now she is let go.   I felt a wave of missing her so strong around 4 pm.   I know these waves will come and go like the tide and pass.  I am in a grief process with its own schedule.   I must try to trust it and ride it.  I have noticed there is a lot of fear around loss and grief and maybe that is why sometimes we lash out in the middle of it  Luckily that isnt happening now and I feel grateful I could let the tender fearful feelings just exist and give them space inside me.   I must have made some progress even over the past weeks with this

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

As much as I can take.

I had to leave the hospital in the midst of the doctor being there trying to explain everything to my sister, brother and I.  I seem to get overwhelmed or triggered so often and this afternoon the doctor showed up an hour later than he said he would and I hadnt yet had lunch.  After one and a half hours I just had to grab my bag and leave, not able to explain as the doctor was in the middle of a long winded repetitive speech about my Mum’s condition.  Last night I had to watch her in agony as they stuck canula needles in her arm, and could not find a vein.   By the time I arrived it had been going on for over and hour and I had to say something.  The doctor didnt like it.

Even today I struggled seeing how doped up Mum is, how yellow and how weak.   At one point while I was trying to help her eat, I just could not stop crying, I took myself off to the little chapel they have at the hospital she is in and just wept.  I felt drug fog cover my eyes even though I havent taken any drugs.   I am just so sensitive and I am over tired as i only slept for four hours last night before waking and then got back to sleep for one hour.   I’m drained.

Knowing when my internal battery is on low is so important.  Last night my sister was in such a state I offered to cook her a meal, I held her as she was very down and struggling. My heart went out to her, when Mum dies she will lose her best friend.   The truth is my sister has relied a lot more on Mum emotionally in many ways, but this latest illness with Mum is seeing how much she has tried to give in later years and now its all too much.  She needs a gentle calm space where she can be cared for with love and she needs support, she cannot be pulled upon any more.   Its a wake up call for me, too, if I am honest.

I know so many others also struggle with elderly parents.   Its not easy to witness the vulnerability and decline.  It reminds us of our own mortality, of what we didnt get and what we did,  it reminds us the aging and decay is part of the larger life cycle, no one escapes it.  Today I saw in my mind’s eye my Mum’s long long journey of loss that leads to here.   I feel she is so utterly, devastatingly tired.  The doctor has hope as its seems she may have a kidney infection and her liver is toxic from all the pain killers she has been on.  I wish to God a few years ago when she had an appointment with a Traditional Chinese Medicine specialist she would have gone down that route but at the last minute she cancelled it.  I know what help the Chinese herbs and supplements I take give me in terms of cleansing and assisting chi flow and function in some of my organs.   My Mum needs to be in a facility where she is treated holistically, when she comes out of hospital one thing is for sure, she cannot be alone.

I cannot and will not abandon my Mum in her illness.   I was pleased my brother is delaying flying out of Australia for a while, I was shocked to hear it, but he was still wanting to know how long he had to hold off, yesterday it looked as though Mum may not be with us much longer.   I am prepared for that eventuality and I will care, but I also need to take care of myself.  I won’t be any use to anyone at all if I don’t.

Where has your spirit gone?

Aether Ashley Lebedev.jpg

For me Dad You will always be alive In my imagination We never really got to know each other There was a chasm we could not cross I felt you so far away In another land Though close to me Is it any wonder I struggled so much To be close to men in my life

But now I imagine where your spirit has gone Into the ether Or fishing off a celestial beach Living the life you never got to live on earth

1985

Songs of innocence take me back To that world Something changed irreversibly When you were taken so suddenly And its so hard to fathom now Where I went And all the ghostly paths of exile I travelled Always silently crying out your name Fearing to get close to anyone again They could never know the ghosts that haunted me

Its taken me years too To now feel you silently breathing In the air that surrounds me Never really far away Yet never truely found A mystery I will never fathom A ghost that will walk with me for the rest of my days

And yet there is too, a curious love I do not fully understand And the acceptance of a destiny never chosen that I must embrace

 

(Image : Aether by Ashley Lebedev)