You carried (all you bore in silence)

You carried a huge burden

I am so sorry that my wounding

Blinded me to this before

It was your anger I felt sadly

Landing upon me like a brand

From a hot poker held for a long time captive inside

A burning furnace

And when your lance landed on me

With that terrible frisson

The pain was

So very far

From personal

I see that now

If you are now

The incacerated one

The ‘identified patient’

What role did I play?

Now that pain has made me see and feel it all more deeply

I always recall that healing dream

You and I alone

Walking the length of that stormy windswept beach

Our father loved

Seeing the beached whale

You turning toward me with eyes like oceans

Full to the brim with tears

Saying the words

‘The whales are such sad creatures’

To know now how they shocked and medicated you

Makes it seem

The most horrendous aberration

I had to walk away

But there is never a day

I do not hold the awareness of it all

So deep inside of my heart

And that is why

I always pray for you

That one day you will come to know

The deeper truth

Of all you bore in silence

For the collective

Jesus wept : Easter Saturday reflections

Jesus wept!

I think these are some of the most powerful words in the Bible. On the even of his crucifixion, Jesus was desperate, he was alone, he was praying to be saved from his ‘fate’ while on another level knowing he could not be.. We can draw a parallel her with how it is for us when we go through so much trauma, especially at the hands of those who should care for, protect, nurture and love us ; parents, siblings, teacher, partners even friends. Going through so much damage and pain or loss of potentials can often seem a burden too huge to bear but until we can we will never find liberation from that ‘fate’, nor be able to embrace the transformation or post traumatic growth that lies on the other side

Jesus could feel and wrestle with those ‘demons’ and that is what marked him out and his crucifixion also shows that he could bear death.. In an interesting synchronicity, today in Australia on breakfast radio, presenter Geraldine Doogue interviewed a woman who has written a book on death and principally about how shy we are in our culture at facing it.

Most often when someone dies we leap to get the funeral organized as quickly as we can.. We often do not see the dead body and here in Australia often caskets are closed.. I know that in Holland there is a ritual in which the body is actually put in one of the rooms in the house in an open casket and is able to be viewed.. This gives people time to visit and say goodbyes or even talk to the loved one in order to resolve the loss.

For me, losing my father at 23, and never getting to see him either before or after he died was a major thing contributing to the fact that I never began to work through or resolve that loss (along with so many others) until many years later.. In my family my brother stepped in to manage everything and took over it all, as he did when my mother died, but in the case of Mum I did get to see her dead body. And I had said all I needed to say over those final 5 or so nights leading to her death in December 2017.

Many years later after I finally got sober and my godfather died in 2003 at 10 years of sobriety, I asked to be able to go to see his body. On the day he died from an aneurysm I actually had a pain in my head and at his funeral I got to cry but was shamed by my sister who called me to task for ‘making an exhibition of myself’ by crying while hugging his oldest grandson. One of the reasons my husband left me in the end in 2004 was that he did not want me feeling anything of the sadness of my Dad’s loss which began to really open up from around 2001 onwards and only when I had lived through over 8 years of active abstinence from alcohol and drugs. As I look back unresolved griefs from generations played such a huge part in the addiction legacy of my mother’s side of the family.

The anniversary of my older sister dying is in 4 days time but she actually died on Easter Sunday morning at 3 am in 2014.. I was lucky to be able to spend a lot of time with her on the Easter Saturday from around 4 pm to 11 pm when her sons arrived, sons she had been removed from in around 1983. After her death two of them came to stay with me and we got to talk through a lot, there was a big argument on the night of the funeral because they came home drunk and I was upset my other living sister had been shunted away into the psyche ward and so prevented from attending her funeral.. But the next day when they sobered up and I calmed down we resolved all of that. I will always be so grateful for those 4 or so days we three got to spend together while all the arrangements for her funeral were made.

The point I am trying to make here and the point the author of that book makes it that in trying to rush hurry up and hide ourselves from the dead body and our grief we miss essential times of transformation and deepening that may, in the end help us to face more of life.. We lie to ourselves when we think hiding our pain and grief or feelings of sadness or loss or ‘protecting’ people from theirs is doing them a service. That said each person’s grief process is individual and complex and we all know a manifold number of griefs in our lives and may come into families already riven with hidden ones from generations back, at least this is what I have began to learn about my own family of 6 or 7 generations lately.

Christ rises on Easter Sunday and a great light dawns.. to me that seems to a powerful metaphor for the fact that if we allow a grief process to play out fully (symbolically represented in the time he spends in the tomb with the 3 Marys also grieving fully during that time,) we can emerge into the light again and become deepened in our appreciation of the preciousness of each and every small moment of living remaining.. That is most certainly what I am experiencing lately, especially at this Easter anniversary of Judith’s death 8 years later.

Jesus shows me a human face when he cries, he shows me that my tears mean something. It is said in another part of the Bible that each one of our tears ever shed is held in a sacred vial and is meaningful to God. I firmly believe that.. So lets stop shunning those who grieve and stop running from our own.. Grief does make us feel powerless but as we say in AA there is one who has all power and if we kneel in full surrender to our grief then we will all too easily be able to see that magical and mysterious face of God.

Linked post :

Fragmenting

Lately when I have therapy it feels like I am fragmenting, I get overwhelmed with visions and memories of my older sister around the anniversary of her embolism and then those memories are interspersed with words she said to me.. How she told me there would be a healing to all of this in years to come.. Magical thinking? I remember the painful aftermath of the bleed in the following 5 yeas leading to my father death and how the rippling effects in arresting my early adult development then decimated my marriage. In later years I recall how tough it was sometimes visiting or taking her on outings and needed to push the increasing expanse of her medicated, increasingly disabled and damaged body along in the wheelchair.

Several times the chair fell forward either on the path from her home to the cafe opposite or at the movies. One time we got tipped half way upside down in the elevator going to the movies and I was in such a panic but managed to right it all alone somehow. Often I would meet the maxi taxi on the opposite side of the street then wheel her over to the cinema.

One time she wailed and screamed so much in a movie – A Royal Affair that I wheeled her out so as not to ruin the screening for the other viewers (feeling so so conflicted about it) and this was the movie about a woman whose children were taken from her. When my brother in law returned my sister to Mum and Dad in 1984 like a used up package he lied to the younger ones and led them to believe she had abandoned them. To be honest in recent years her third son has told me of psychotic incidents involving my sister and they were not pretty. My sister could be a demon due to her own trauma and he ensuing medication and other long term affects of brain damage.

Today in therapy I wept and wept while my whole body went into an explosive spiral we had to go about 5 minutes over time which never happens, I had my denture in and out and there were both tears and spasms, lately the emotional constriction we lived within has been revealing itself. There was a tightness to Mum and my second sister a kind of disconnected drivenness that made relaxing impossible. Even now I sometimes fear the price of relaxing or resting may be death. And woebegone if I was happy or full of life or needing something that was most often met with punishment, shut down, isolation or ridicule.

Anyway after therapy today I was so disoriented emotionally I left the car in the shopping centre parking lot with the keys in the ignition after running around madly thinking I’d lost them. What a dunce I felt when the security guy helping me went back to the car with me and we found them. I got myself in such a state crying “there’s no one to help me” and yet they were trying. But today in editing this back I see its the fucking critic on my case am I at fault for valiantly battling on while risking to come alive again even with five missing upper teeth.. This is not on shaming myself.

All of this makes me feel I should be stopping therapy, that it’s making me lose my grounding in the now. This is the way my mind goes endlessly over analysing until a massive groundswell of feeling floods the banks of conscious awareness and yet today editing it back I consider what major work this re-membering and trying to gather together the scattered pieces not only of a remotely intellectualized ‘narrative’ but what that really means and how enormous it is on a bodily as well as energetic level. At one point in therapy after a huge outburst of tears my eyes were blurry and then I was with the angels in my body then telling me that my vision was being cleared and then looking at my therapist thinking DO YOU EVEN HAVE A BLOODY CLUE OF HOW TOUGH THIS IS?

What a relief to get home to Jasper to feel the cool breeze flowing close by, to unpack all my groceries and clean out the fridge, to then rest in the simplicity and the emptying of a gentle trouble free moment not hijacked by past traumatic memory. I need to breathe lately….drowning in past stuff just feels wrong somehow and yet I lived all of these experiences and like it or not my older sister’s soul journey will forever remain intertwined with mine BECAUSE I DEEPLY LOVED HER. This is the cost of loving to feel pain, this is the truth of being an embodied person not trapped in a head trip.

Also I feel things. By my nature I am a sensitive and an empath not a shut down person, I feel the heights and depths and breadths. As tough as it feels at times, as seemingly vast and impossible to contain would I really want to be someone else?

#Never the less there is a time to blow this stuff off when it cripples or fragments me or stops me from embracing the pregnant possibly of a new and clear present moment, but neither can I negate what it is nor how enormously lonely carrying the full weight of it has been at times.

What I’ve learned about grief

Grief undone.jpg

I’ve learned

That grief is all about love

The longing the losing or the lack of it

 

I’ve learned

That the depth of my grief

Shows the extent of my longing

As well as being a measure of the value

Or hurt, pain and emptiness

Others brought to my life

 

I’ve learned

That the depth and breadth and expanse of my grief

Measures the empty space remaining

When those I loved died or left me all alone

 

I’ve learned

There was grief my body knew

That my mind was unaware of

In response to losses

Occurring long before I had a conscious memory

Or ego to know of them

 

I’ve learned

That when others speak of the connections they enjoyed

With loved ones

I ache for the wound of its absence

In my own life

 

I’ve learned that there really isn’t a lot

That is wrong with me

Only a lot that happened to me

And that for most of my life

I was left to fall through space

So many times with no safety net

And so I used my addictions as a way to cope

A way to be held

In the absence of holding and presence

 

I’ve learned

That people who deny me my grief

Are not that wise or safe or sane for me to be around

 

But I’ve also learned to accept

That as much as it hurts

They could never fully understand

Unless they had suffered in similar ways

And not closed their hearts to their own suffering

 

I’ve learned

That I can hold my own hand

When there is grief

But a deeper part of me still longs

For the presence of another

And such absence or denial

Is a double grief and abandonment

That leaves a wound

That can be overwhelming

And oh so challenging to deal with

The importance of grieving in recovering a sense of self

Grief reveals

With sufficient grieving, the survivor gets that he was innocent and eminently loveable as a child.  As he mourns the bad luck of not being born to loving (or emotionally available) parents, he finds within himself a fierce, unshakeable self allegiance.  He becomes ready, willing and able to be there for himself no matter what he is experiencing – internally and externally.

Peter Walker

 

 

Two triggers

I noticed today two triggers that propelled me into flashback mode.  Doing some cleaning and tidying up today I hit my head and was immediately in flashback and my system and hormonal/neurotransmitter responses were being activating, flooding my brain and gut.  I lay down on the floor and gently head my head and said to myself “You are having a flashback,  you feel scared but you are safe”, I then connected on breathing as I practiced self soothing, I did what an earlier body harmony therapist taught me.  Looked around the room, connected to something pretty and safe in present time,  an embroidered cushion and eventually I was able to stand up and self calm.  Part of my PTSD trauma is that I crashed on a pushbike after doing a cranio sacral session to deal with my near death accident at age 17 and was flung over the handlebars, cutting my head open on an iron foundary  This occured close to the first anniversary of my husband returning to the UK and telling me he was going to leave me.  I also had another accident (more minor) on the second annivesary in 2006 and at that stage I did not know what flashbacks were.  I was living totally isolated and alone at the South Coast.

The second trigger prompted sadness over something my friend, was asking me about yesterday concering my ex husband. I shared with her my sorrow over a pregnancy I decided to terminate when I was only 6 months sober from active alcohol addiciton in 1994 and only 8 months married.   I made that decision from my own fear of not being able to be a good enough mother and I know it hurt my ex husband as after he left me he quickly got involved with someone new who gave him a child and told my mother before he told me.  (Mind you they both bonded over refusal to allow me my therapy to deal with a traumatic neglectful past.)

Today this sadness about children was trigger as when Jasper my dog and I go on one of my favourite walks we pass by a child’s play centre and the kids are behind the fence and often they run down and call out to us saying things like : “look, doggie!!!”  So today we went over and then I helped them by throwing back about 6 plastic spades that had been thrown over the fence near to where Jasper and I were standing.   After I left the children behind this huge wave of sadness came upon me and I started to cry and feel so guilty with thoughts like “its no wonder your husband left you”, “you were just a hopeless alcoholic” despite the fact that by that stage I was working as hard as I could on my recovery.  Anyway we kept walking as I cried to the oval where we threw the ball around and then walked back to sit in our favourite spot by the swings on a bench under the tree and by that stage I had moved through the trigger.

Its good to be able to share about these things, about the sadness I will always carry not only for the 5 children I could not bring to term but also for the inner child in me who never really got to become a proper grown up.  My therapist often says that due to the traumas that befell me between age 17 and 23 I never got to properly leave home.  She uses the expression “it was like you were flung out of a cannon”… I was also drowning my shame and false sense of inadequacy in booze and drugs from 23 to 31 when so many other expereinces of emotional abandonment and isolation kept replaying.  The final two abandonments were my husband and then last partner leaving me while telling me I was damaged goods, something it has been hard to get out from under.  But today I can say I think I am making progress. Realising a flashback is a reminder of being so small, powerless and helpless THEN… but not necessarily NOW is so important.  As Pete Walker points out some of us who become passive or co-dependent have our fight and flight responses disabled and we have a lot of work to do to beat the inner critic who beats us up or comes at us from others who know fuck all about our real inner history.  Learning to fight off and not succumb as much to the flashbacks and to make sense of them is so so important to recovery.   It really really is.

All in the past : a prayer

Flying with Birds

Dear Higher Power and Higher Larger Self, you see all and know all of me.  You know all of my past pain, you know my body remembers, you know what a torment past pain can be.  Help me remember that today is today.  It is a new day.  I do not have to carry that past pain with me all the time.  Surely there has been so much that has happened to us all that would cause us to break down weeping and never get up, but surely all of that is now in the past.  Please I would love a life that is free, one in which I could be lighter, one in which suffering would not endlessly weigh me down.   Please help me today to celebrate what is good and healthy and beneficial and hopeful in this day.  Help me to open and keep reaching out and to keep love in my heart.  Let me be soft with old pain but dont let it hold onto me for too long.  Today Higher Power set me free to live and learn and love again.

On mood swings and accepting the flow of healing in recovery

I found the following meditations very helpful and enlightening when I read them a few years ago.  When we are recovering on an emotional level it is likely that we will experience many ups and downs.  I know I have less of the abyss like days than I had two years ago.  When I have one of these days lately I do feel scared that I am regressing.  I have heard it said that recovery is often three steps forward and two steps back, if we are doing work to process past experiences the feelings we can feel can be scary and intense.  In the long run we need to accept them, so we can feel them understand them and let them pass through without keeping them lodged deep inside.  We abort this healing process when our inner critic judges us when we have them or tells us we should not have them or they should not be happening to us.  We need to let them move through us so we can move to a better place but this process takes a while and uses a lot of our emotional energy.

I hope the following mediations help some readers.

Accepting Mood Swings

Today I will not be down on myself if I seem to swing in my moods through my recovery process.  Mood swings have been scary to me, so I use them as a way to judge (or misjudge) my health.   I force myself to be in a stable good mood and then I feel I`m okay.  As I re-experience old, repressed feelings, it is possible that I will feel deeply disoriented, angry, rageful or depressed and then two hours later almost high.  This is not just because I can’t control my moods – I am opening myself to all that is going on with me. – I am not longer denying parts of myself so that I will fit into a designated constellation of roles.  I am allowing what happening with me to happen to me.

I understand that my moods may swing in this life changing process.

Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live. 

Goethe

Natural Growth

Today I recognise that my bursts of growth are accompanied by backslides and I accept that as a natural learning pattern.  When children have a learning explosion into talking, walking or whatever, they experience a minor regression.   When I have a learning or growth explosion, I may experience a regression afterward.  New behaviour and awareness stabilise with practice  Today I will not take the regression to mean that growth was not genuine.  I will understand that accompanying a large step forward is a small step backward.  I will allow this to take place,  trusting that my experience of growth will integrate naturally if I allow it to.

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.  Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Ella Fitzgerald

Taken from : Meditations for Forgiving and Moving On, by Tian Dayton

Softening

Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.

Bessel van der Kolk

Pain and abuse or trauma can make us harden and contract.  Some of us erect steely defences, we fight or we may take flight.  Others of us just collapse in a big heap with our insides spewing out all over the metaphorical floor.  In any case pain, abuse or trauma can and does change us and fosters in us certain reactions.

I had the thought as I awoke early today to a soft morning after gentle rain had fallen (which was like nature mirroring my inner world as last night when I wrote about tears as the gentle rain, the skies were clear. But isn’t our grief just like this?  It comes in shower, storm or a wave and washes us through.)   The thought I had was that my soul is often in grieving for my false or fighting self that had to push through all the pain and trauma alone.  My therapist and I were talking about how the inner critic forms yesterday in the vacuum left by a parent’s lack of availability or as a way to please and how it then becomes unconsciously melded to us, until we do the inner work of uncovery and recovery.  We wouldn’t survive without this push to bring us through.  Many collapse in depression or inward turned anger and take their lives or end up with such a compromised auto immune system that all kinds of diseases can result.  Last night I was reading a post of someone who endured two terrible losses and ended up with fibromyalgia due to the complex feelings she struggled to express, process and understand.

I have always been a great believer in the soul which I see as a kind of deeply authentic internal witness that knows all about us.  I was drawn to the work of Carl Jung and Jungian therapists such as Thomas Moore, Robert Johnson, James Hillman and Marion Woodman in my early sobriety because they spoke of the importance of this soul and how its symptoms are cries for healing that may sometimes fall on the deaf ears of our false self who had to turn away or compromise.

I remember a few months back when I was beginning to open up to a lot of grief in therapy, Kat my therapist, said to me so wisely : “these are the tears of your true self.”  At the age of 54 trauma and my own defences have stolen from me so many life opportunities .  As I look back at past relationships I also see how I blame myself for wounds I was not conscious of.  My emotional hunger made me bond with inappropriate people far too early.  My emotional neglect meant I did not have strategies of self care.  And when I was in rampant addiction there was really no real me to show up to protect or be truely intimate even though my soul longed for this deep intimacy.

What I have realised is that for me to ever find such a form of intimacy, it is going to need to come from my own soul first.  After years of validation I needed my current therapist so desperately but I cannot tell you the amount of times my inner saboteur, critic and nay sayer has tried to get me to abort this last therapy.  I wonder why a part of me would fight something that helps me so much.

Anyway this morning I woke up soft.  I woke up just before dawn.  I made sure not to contract my muscles and to try to breathe deep into my belly as part of my pattern of trauma involves unconsciously holding my breathe.   I was trapped in the car in 1979 for a long time and had to be cut out.  I had a collapsed lung so it was hard to breathe and they were behind me trying to put on a mask.   I held my breathe in my family to put my own needs back and try to revolve around Mum to be seen.  I tried so hard to do everythign right.  Yesterday as I was crying with Kat in therapy I heard a deep inner voice say : “you better get everything right and perfect, or there will be hell to pay.”  Part of my own defence and ancestral defence is to try to make order out of chaos.  I know often in adult children of alcoholics meetings I would hear how this reaction was a response to the chaos of a parent’s addiction.  In our family the addiction was my great great grandfather’s,  My grandmother and mother carried both the trauma imprints and reactive imprints.  With my Neptune in Scorpio in the third house I know it is my fate to bring awareness to all of this so I can free myself but first I have to see it and realise that maybe such deep rooted patterns are not always easy to change.  I need to have patience with myself and practice self compassion while still trying to set limits and boundaries of self care so I am not driven all the time by the emptiness of my childhood neglect.  Only self care will help in this situation.  A false self develops as a survival strategy and it takes time to release it.  I am engaged on this process.

I have a lovely book on the soul by Deepak Chopra that he wrote as a response to the 9/11 attacks called The Deeper Wound : Recovering The Soul From Fear and Suffering that I rediscovered earlier this year.  In it there are 100 poweruful meditations with a core saying to help us get in touch with our souls, that soft wise inner part of us that just sees and knows beyond all the fears, insecurities and strategies of the false self or wounded ego.

I am making a practice of letting these meditations soak in as a kind of healing balm when I am forced to push or fight something it may be better to open up and surrender to.  I don’t doubt my soul knows what is required to embrace my fractures.  I just have to trust and stay open and soft enough to let that healing in while staying strong and setting boundaries for good self care.