Angry with my family

Anger

I am not going to deny my anger any more.  I have legitimate reasons to be very angry at my family and my mother and sister in particular for what they put me through following the end of my marriage and even in the years before where I was just never treated with support, empathy and love.  I am sick to death of denying the truth to myself, rationalising it and minimising it.  I just spoke to my therapist and she said my anger needs to flow out and I need to find ways to do that today… write about it in your blog, draw it out or scream it out, do what ever you need to do to get it out of your system she said to me and so this blog is part of that process.  Internalised, invalidated anger has been kicking around inside my system for so long, it resulted in my accidents and in my alcoholism.  Part of my recovery is that I need to speak about it and value and validate my inner self and inner child.

I recognise what happened when I spoke to my mother yesterday when writing my blog A hollowed out shell was that by crying and becoming really vulnerable my Mum roped me into compassion.  Earlier on I had ended the conversation when she was once again telling me I needed to forget about things and put them behind me.   She called me back out of guilt to ask me to dinner and at first I said no and then wanted to relent when she showed me how much pain she was in and how insecure and unable to truly express herself she feels.  While I feel compassion for her I cannot let that over ride my own anger about what happened to me for it is anger that lets me know something hurt me deeply and wasn’t okay and that then helps me set some kind of boundary.  If I get told I shouldn’t have it or feel it that is invalidation abuse pure and simple and if the person is trying to guilt me out of it that is worse abuse.  Full stop! No argument, no debate!

I had a difficult day yesterday.  I noticed I got onto You Tube and posted some videos in two posts which although they had interesting insights don’t really help me to cut to the depth of dealing with the trauma and anger I am still carrying from the head injury that happened to me 12 years ago as the result of my sister and my mother’s meanness. At that stage I needed support and help to heal and grieve and know my truth, but I see how impossible this is to attain from anyone in my family they were just not that awake to the inner self or emotional realities.  My Mum is close to waking up but she seriously needs therapy.  I am sick of trying to be her therapist.  It isn’t my job really and she often told me that its not a good idea to go to others with your problems.  Her bottom line is that you need to work things out alone but that comes from a childhood where she was left alone and had to figure things out all alone.  Yesterday she was touching into deep realities and she told me how she feels so helpless and alone with no one much to talk to about all the things she goes through.  I want to say “well Mum get some therapy” but she never would.  So I end up being the font of all compassion but my compassion now is only prepared to extend so far when no recognition of past hurts or any apology has been forthcoming.

Second reason for anger and terribly acute body symptoms over the past few days has been unresolved issues with my living sister.  She was so awfully mean to me at the aforementioned time, telling me I was a selfish little girl and that I had had a shit of a life and she pitied me.  Oh and also going behind my back to my nephew (my older dead sister’s son) who I was really establishing a close relationship with and telling him how jealous I was of her.  Luckily at that time (just under 3 years ago now) he told me and I confronted her on the day we putting a party on for my mother.  I wish I had just walked out for at first she tried to deny it and then she said he had no right to tell me and then that she thought it was true.  But what I actually think is true is that the situation was the reverse and narcissists always believe they are so wonderful that the universe is jealous of them, why I do not know when the are such superiority junkies looking down their noses at all and sundry.  I have never been that person, as those who know me and have told me its just NOT ME.

Anyway she has softened somewhat in later years and actually did give me a grudging apology about what occurred in 2005 when I confronted her and Mum about it 2 years ago around this time of year.  But it was in no way an apology that came from her heart or truly recognised the damage done and the other day when she rang me about my tooth issue concerned to see how I was, it was I who ended up apologising to her for reacting to the horrible way she traated me.  Did I need to apologise  NO!  And my inner child is very upset with adult me about it and let me know as I woke up with shocking PTSD symptoms yesterday.  Whenever I see my sister my anxiety level goes through the roof and I was telling my therapist today that it was because I feel there is a lot of anger and hurt my body is carrying and the only way it has to come out is as anxiety.  But the mixed up irony is that as anxious as I feel I try even harder to bond with her and its a trauma bond and end up having an extra coffee with her even though its not really good for me to do it, because I feel she may be lonely.

I am aware as I write all this out it may seem like sour grapes to some.  I don’t really care as what you think isn’t my issue.  But what I need to know and see more clearly which is why I am putting it out there in black and white is how I can over ride my own impulses and intuitions. I often find my inner critic attacks my real attempts at feeling the truth of my feelings and most particularly that includes genuine expressions of anger.

Katina, my therapist was today reminding me that as much compassion as I feel I also need to remind myself that its okay to be angry.  So many of the messages around me growing up in family and Catholic school were based on anger being a ‘bad’ or negative emotion, when really anger is a signal of something from our deepest, truest inner self.  If we deny or over ride our own angry impulses we end up in such strife.  I have had so many accidents due to traumas from my past or pain replaying over in the present moment and this is one of the saddest facts about trauma,  it tends to attract more of the same to us but most particularly for those of us who were taught to value compassion, rationalisation and excuses over valid expression of anger.  So many times I have been told I better be careful as anger is dangerous, but this is only the case when it is not cleanly and clearly expressed, or if it is expressed aggressively.   We need to be so mindful of where our sore angry spots lie because when triggered they are signs of something from the past that needs to be dealt with or is calling for our awareness or attention, if we don’t pay attention we are in trouble  It won’t do us any good to act our anger out on those who really are just triggering a massive back log of past stuff but we still need to be aware that such people aren’t good to be around on a long term basis.  I am sad to say that goes for my family at present, much as I long for their love, when they are around it comes with huge reminders of pain from the past.  I have not ‘let it go’ yet, it hasn’t let go of me.

Its difficult writing this, as I was the television was just turned on by some automatic process.  I went over and Jasper my dog had his ear on the remote but what was most interesting was that it was a show called Compass and was on a priest’s life, and at that moment in time he was speaking of the ‘false ego’ that has to die if we want to fully embrace our humanity.  It made me question the wisdom of hanging onto my anger.  Maybe my sister had changed now and has soften, maybe she regrets what she did to me all of those years ago.  Maybe my mother wishes she hadn’t been so cruel to have chosen my sister over me when I was ‘too sad’ grieving at the end of my marriage.  I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.  Is my anger coming from ‘false ego’?  Is that why the television automatically came on?  I don’t know either but I am putting this in my blog as part of the mental process I go through on a day when I am trying to make sense of and deal with this anger from the past and the deep wound in me that gets triggered around this time of year.  I feel less angry now after writing this.  I have attempted to express my true reality, for what it is worth.   And I appreciate any feedback or any sharing from others about how you have dealt with your own anger.

And in the interest of openness the following are just a selection of anger quotes I came across on line :

 

 

An open field of hurt : reflections on carried trauma and abuse

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My body feels like it is dislodging and dissolving the sediment of ages of neglect, trauma and abuse today.  I wrote the post Unprotected last night after coming home from the chiropractor.  Last night I felt a shift in my body from the treatment but following it the drama of symptoms my body goes through in trying to unravel its tragic tale is almost overwhelming. This nightly nightmare is not just an ‘anxiety attack’ but the cellular reliving of every trauma, wrists cut open, teeth smashed out, feet with third degree burns, arms pulled out of socks, bloody webbing between big and little toe from where Dad’s fishhook lodged due to his leaving it lying in seagrass matting, the feeling of having foetus’s removed from my womb, nights and nights of drinking to blot it out, go numb or forget.  And then the traumas that came after the addiction was arrested but the deeper trauma of the child’s plight was, as yet so far from being understood.

Last night I re-read some chapters of Alice Miller’s book The Truth Will Set You Free ; Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self as a reminder that is it only by waking up to what happened for so many of us in childhood and in our parent’s childhood that we can find freedom from emotional and body pain, for our bodies and cells REMEMBER EVERYTHING that happened to them and I believe what our ancestors lived is repeated and carried down cellularly and in repeated behaviour until someone wakes up.

However, in  order to know what happened to us, really happened, those painful truths so many seek to deny we need an enlightened witness to believe us and so many of this don’t even find it with certain therapists, in my opinion.

I now know that although I was unprotected, so were both my parents.  They passed down what they knew and my Dad never got to wake up because he died.  My Mum still rationalised her own mother’s beatings as explainable as due to her own misbehaviour and the fact my Grandmother was a frustrated single mother, a widow.   I am deeply ashamed to say that there are a few times I have punished my dog for weeing in my bedroom.  By some kind of curious synchronicity he did this yesterday for the first time in ages and I felt that old fury arise which was a lot like the fury my own mother used to express.   It would start with her nostrils being flared and we were then tensed and contracted in every muscle, scared for what would happen.  I am so sad to say at times I have enacted this on my own dog.  😦    But yesterday I didn’t do it.  I took him and put his nose gently in the mess and then told him I was upset (not that he can probably understand) and then I gave him a hug.  I got control over my own feelings of wanting to displace my own fury onto him and then I cried as I remembered everything, most especially why I felt the need to turn to the bottle and drugs.

Today I just see how infinitely sad and tragic the entire sorry mess has been.  I have found it so hard to separate from a mother who  herself was emotionally abandoned and when I think of the resentment I have been feeling lately at times I feel shame as my Mum has tried in other ways to support me in later years but I rejected her help as my traumatised child had not yet forgiven her.  She has never been able to own how difficult it was for us to live as we did growing up and as I look at myself and my other siblings I see we all carry the scars of this kind of pain in different ways but I know how my Mum now suffers in seeing us suffer and I must remember that she too suffered and learned to rationalise as a defence, something she does when I try to point certain painful truths out.  But the most important thing, as Alice Miller points out in all her books is that we know and believe our own deep emotional truth.

For myself I have almost been crippled by this pain.    When I ran to the other side of the world again 12 years ago only to smash up on my bike it was due to the fact of feeling overtaken by that furious unresolved family energy swooping down on me following the end of my marriage.  I abandoned my first therapy due to agonising fear, not being aware that was what drove the abortion of the first serious attempt I  had made to try to get to grips with my life and pain.  It would take me a further 13 years of wandering in a lost world and wilderness to find another therapist to stick it out with.   And even then at times I feel my therapist struggles to make sense of my body symptoms.

It is so sad to me to think that at 55 I am still by no means free of a painful childhood which has replayed its traumas and defeats.  But I am 23 years sober so that is a major achievement, but alcoholism was a symptom of a far deeper malaise and the real work starts with our sobriety which is then end of our numbing.  We embark on a long journey when we finally make that commitment to heal and its one that has deep roots which stretch back generations into my ancestors past.  The abandoned and traumatised or beaten child struggling alone against enormous obstacles is a vein that stretches back pumping its poison blood into the next generation until we take the steps to see what the nature of the poison is and how we can turn away from pumping it out there over and over and over and over again.  Staying bitter, angry and resentful will not bring final healing but feeling all of these difficult feelings is very much a part of the process.  Its a great paradox.  I am reminded that only prayer and turning the deep resentment toxin over to a higher larger stronger force than the mere human works when we come to the thorny issue of forgiveness.  We fore – give so we no longer re-enact the pain on ourselves and others.  Its a strong gesture of inner power that may only be reached after travelling over harsh, rocky landscapes of pain.

For me self nurture. self love and self compassion then projected out is the only way home, the only way to find freedom from this mess.  My body will carry its scars and my missing teeth are a testament to so much pain that was swallowed down and went mute only to be expressed in a blinding rage of fury which in biting down so hard only hurt me.  Somehow I need to find forgiveness and I do believe as Alice Miller writes that this can only come after we mourn our losses and injuries and face up to the truth and pain of what happened, naming it for what it is and seeing how much of it is a horrible mistake that in D H Lawrence’s eloquent words “mankind has chosen to sanctify”.  When we believe that by sparing the rod we spoil the child we buy into lies and some cuts and whippings go deeper than the physical they are the unkind words spoken to us or carried down that speak lies that we swallow wholesale and so tragically make our reality.   With every fibre of our being we must hold the wounded child, love the wounded child, champion the wounded child, help the wounded child to understand and not re-enact its own pain.  Let it begin with us, let us hate the actions but not the person of the perpetrator who in being so unconscious of what he or she is doing weaves a tragic outcome that takes all the healing love, empathy, consciousness and understanding in the world to change.

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You didn’t protect me

I just had a watershed moment after briefly connecting with my sister at the markets and touching on the recent death of her daughter in law’s father about how alone I was following the death of my Dad and how prior to that Dad never protected me from Mum’s angry whirlwind energy and perfectionist project which was part of an onslaught on me from a very young age.

Byron Brown’s book which shows how we engage with the introjected critic from a young age in three ways, counterattack, rationalisation or by absorbing and collapsing in reaction to its energy has mirrored insights I came to following reading Pete Walker’s book on Complex PTSD a year or so ago but Brown expresses this information in a more useable way showing how each matter of relating means we respond from one of three bodily levels, gut, head or heart.

You will need to read the book to find the outline of the information he presents in it but his basic explanation is that early on we learn to take in the criticism that is not fair on us and identify with it even when we are defending against it, rationalising it away or using it to fall into a depression or psychic paralysis we are wedded to the critical energy and it exerts profound power over us.  When we respond to inner or outer criticism with any of these three methods we are in fact ‘hooked’ by the idea that in some way the critic is right or that we deserve such criticism on some level.  From this position we self reject and so disempower the helpful response which would be to let the critic’s criticism fly past us without reacting, instead staying connected to love and compassion for self from our inner centre.   Which is a powerful position of letting go.

I found myself crying on the way to the market after reading the chapter Engaging the Judge for I remembered how often as a child I was on the end of ‘attacks’ from my Mum.  I would defend against these attacks, sometimes by flying into rages or even pulling knife on my Mum at one stage after it had gone on for years and Dad would just sit on the sidelines and do nothing to help except say to my Mum behind my back “her mouth is her defence”.

I internalised my Mum’s own shame as I see it now and this is why my father’s death had such an affect on me, regardless of the fact I had no one nearby to comfort or protect me after he died, I was also without the inner protection I needed from internalised criticism due to my upbringing and I think this realisation is what really brought me undone this afternoon. I also identified how often when others criticise or hurt me I rationalise the pain away rather than feel it and I have also allowed it to enter me and overtake me so badly that at the end of my marriage I had completely absorbed it and collapsed under its weight.

Add to that this afternoon we were speaking about how much support my niece in law has around her following her Dad’s death and that triggers the deep pain that following my own father’s death I was completely unsupported which is why I left the meeting with my sister with a bursting chest and tears fell when I was soon out of the carpark.

In a way this blog isn’t really for my readers although I do hope some others gain some insight into how their own inner critic may not belong to them, it is my attempt to put in black and white what I have gone through.  I am recognising how emotionally abandoned I have been not only after my Dad’s death but by so called boyfriends and friends who didn’t recognise the full brunt of what I was going through in those painful years age 23 – 31 and even into recovery both with my ex husband and last partner.

On the way home from the markets I listened to Massive Attack’s song Protection full bore as I recognised how the loving arms I needed around me were never there.

I was never protected and even worse my own deep pain was never validated nor understood anywhere apart from with one or two therapists …oh and yes, on here with those who have gone through the same devastating soul crunching emotional abandonment in their own lives.  I watch other’s struggle with the critic’s attacks of their own process when they are opening to deep and valid emotional pain, so long buried in their own souls.  I recognise what they go through when that inner critical voice tries to shame them for feeling or starting to depend on someone who finally WILL protect them when the fear of being hurt again is so huge.

All I can say is that such recovery takes so much courage and so much work for the worst ever thing would be for the critic to jump in at the most critical stage of healing and cause us one again to sabotage the process.  This is exactly what happened to me in two therapies, the first I started in July 1992 and the second attempt in 2001 and I am reliving that pain as the anniversary of the head smash up accident of 2005 draws close.  It was after this I met with astrologer Melanie Reinhardt and she gave me the gift of Byron Brown’s book a gift I could not open for 12 years.  Ouch and double ouch and triple ouch, but thank God now I can start to get a handle on so much in my own life and psyche that has been for me a permanent stumbling block.

Brown’s book is helping me so much because he brings recognition to a process whereby we can help ourselves by becoming more mindful and recognising too that our soul really is the part of us we most need to connect to in order to heal.  On one level our soul or essence or pure being can never be open to criticism, what flows out of it when our own energy is lovingly received (which happens for so few of us in) should be natural experiences of flow and discharge of essential energies inside of the soul and our inner being.

When all we meet in the outer world from day one is forms of resistance to the flow of our innate energy, hungers and needs which issue from the soul we naturally begin to dam ourselves up with alarming consequences, However later in life we can become more conscious once we learn to tap into who we really are deep inside, that instinctive innate part of which knows how to be and what to do freed of a hundred and one defences of the inner critic we internalised over years, inner voices and judgements which keep us locked up in defensive responses and reactions that keep us trapped and locked up inside.

The power and necessity of self expression in healing trauma

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I woke late this morning to hear the tail end of a very powerful interview with an aboriginal writer and artist. Rhonda Collard Spratt who has recently written a book on the trauma of being one of the stolen generation, those precious young children who were forceably removed from family and community ‘for their own good’ by white people who actually invaded their country and set up missions to educate them out of their indigenous ways and subjected them to all kinds of abuse.

She was sharing about her experience, about the power of story and the importance of grieving for those of her people who suffered abandonment and abuse on an emotional level due to be stolen and were subjected to harsh discipline.  One of the things she said which really struck me were the words :  “Many of my own people are drowning in their unshed tears”.  She then spoke of the essential need to grieve, of taking that little one on our knee, caring for him or her, loving him or her, listening to his or her pain, letting him or her shed tears.

She also went on to share about how many times when she has tried to share her pain or her story she has been ‘shut down’ by white people.   I hear it myself all the time on various media, white commentators saying how its been going on too long and that aboriginal people ‘need to put the past behind them’.  Little understanding is given to how that is actually done nor is their a recognition that is a process and that what was stolen in childhood left wounds, wounds and memories that will always be there no matter how much so called ‘healing’ happens.

It is really only since the formal apology to aboriginal people in this country which occurred in 2007 that attention is actually being given to the grief of the stolen generation together with the recognition that what was done all those years ago caused great hurt and trauma which has left a lasting legacy, especially of addiction for so many.

In another interview last week a woman who was subjected to years of sexual abuse by a priest was speaking about her experience about which the movie Don’t Tell has been made.   Her therapist was also interviewed and she was saying how important an apology or recognition of what was done to children is, and how healing is blocked when we cannot find this.  I know this is an issue I have struggled with all of my life, mine was not sexual abuse, it was emotional neglect, invalidation and teasing but I have been so often gaslighted or blamed in the past that I learned to turn my painful feelings inside and medicate them with booze and drugs.

In the interview the aboriginal woman was saying how many of her own people have died due to medicating pain in this way.  She was speaking of how essential it is for others not to judge, to show empathy and understanding.  She then spoke about going back to one of the communities with a fellow sufferer where she had been abused and of how the person wanted to hit one of the priests she saw there.  The person involved would hang aboriginal children on the clothes line when they wet their pants, leaving them hanging their for hours.  My immediate thought was that the priest deserved a smack!  I was thinking about that, what happens when we are not allowed to express the anger in some way and of how grief is so much a part of that anger and may only be felt once and after the angry outburst can be expressed.

Internalised anger is, I believe, behind so many auto immune diseases.  It relates to pain gone inwards or internalised, buried deep inside the tissues, healing involves externalisation and ex – pression that we press the pain outwards and let it exit the body.  We need places to pour in into too, places to contain it, and validation is so important in this regard, for from my experience and understanding when invalidation or blocking of our feelings happens we can de – press it and all the now toxic unexpressed feelings and pain gets sent back inside to kick around in our systems where it burns and lives a vibrational charge and other imprints dumped deep in the cells.

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At the moment in Australia there is a huge push by aboriginal people for recognition of what happened to them in the past.  Deeply painful as it is, what occurred for indigenous races all over the world at the hands of imperialist colonialism is part of the evolutionary story of mankind.   These primitive people are immersed in the unconscious and connected to the earth and to the deep soul in ways so many modern people are not, due to the evolution of ego centred consciousness where religion and materialism became so powerful as a way of defending against and finding meaning when humans were confronted with the power of destructive forces, namely the Black Plague which killed millions.  To be black or of a different colour to so many whiteys was to mean one’s value was diminished.  A lack of empathy and a rugged need for possession and survival was what pushed so many to overrun and steal and kill and disempower indigenous races.  It was a case of the heroic ego gone wild.  Such stealing and killing and disempowerment forces live on, these things happen not only on an outward physical level, but also as deeply powerful psychic forces both within and without form any of us who suffer abuse and neglect or shaming of our emotional selves and are now trying to recover while being left with a deeply painful legacy of years of trauma.

And that is why it is so essential for us to connect to the child within us, that part of us that like aboriginal people can feel him or herself to be connected to the earth and stars, that natural joyous spontaneous part of us which reaches out in love, does not take refuge from fear in separation, attack and killing off, that part of us that is open to all that we feel and all that we see and all that we know deep inside.  When this part is stolen or when it goes missing or is buried deep down inside, we lose so much of our essential connection to spirit, we lose our powerful rebel yell, we lose our joy, our hope, our strength, our power to say ‘No’ and we become immobilised and have difficulty moving with the feelings to flow forward in healing, instead blocking them or burying them.

What was being spoken of this morning in that interview really concerned that process.  The advice she gave was to find some way to be able to tell the story of what happened to us, to sing it, to write it, to paint it, even to dance it out.  These are all ways of ex – pressing of pressing the experience out and giving it some kind of shape and form outside the container of our body.

In true healing we open ourselves body, mind and soul to our story, to whatever pain arises, we welcome it in, we give it a place, we say to it “I see you, you are real”, but healing involves also the deep recognition that this pain is not ultimately stronger than the deeper spirit in us which can open to be its container and can become then too the releaser too of what ever pain, feeling or expression needs to be liberated in the singing, in the writing, in the telling, or in the dancing.  This to me is both the witnessing and the shedding which are such necessary parts of healing.

In another interview last night a video was aired of a young man who went through a very deep depression and recorded his raw pain one night alone on video on his computer in a Tennessee hotel room.  He felt the only way to go through that dark night was to express it, and to have no shame, but to be naked, raw and real.  The video was shown last night on the Australian Show The Project.  He has now started a movement called The Heart on Your Sleeve movement which is a kind of counterbalance movement towards the social media sharing of happy, shiney experiences.  It is a movement to encourage those who struggle to express the authenticity of their experience.

So many of are suffering not only due to ‘mental illness’ but more as a response to the trauma history of our collective which is now seeking understanding and expression.  As I see it there is a deeper movement going on.  Its beyond what I can express this morning in my blog and breakfast is calling, but I think it involves realising that we all suffer and feel vulnerable, that strength lies in sharing that vulnerability, in opening our hearts to the truth, in banding together to accept and love and show tolerance, compassion and understanding.  To begin to pay more attention to depth of our being than the mere superficiality of our at times empty  or pretence filled ‘over doing’.  And that perhaps this awakening happening on such a collective level shows that as a collective we are at an essential time of growth in recognition and understanding towards a necessary evolution of consciousness in which as we connect to truths in our own cells we also connect to the cells of mother earth and learn how the ways we seek to run, deny or numb our pain impact there in terms of mass consumption and overriding of those indigenous cultures who have so much to teach us about how we could reconnect to nature within and without.  Its just a thought I will leave you with as I go off to get breakfast.

Mars Chiron : awakening old wounds for healing and care

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Apologies to those who get sidelined by astrological symbolism, but when I read the monthly astrology on Lua Astrology’s website last night where astrologer Lea Whitehorse spoke of the Mars Chiron square to become exact on June 2, suddenly the deep pain I was in over the weekend made sense.  Prior to this we have  also  been experiencing Mars opposite Saturn which is not the easiest of transits.  Mars represents our self assertion or self expression, the soul desire for forward movement and action from heartfelt or imperative need and when it meets Saturn we experience deep frustrations, blocks or no go areas, alternatively we may have to slow down, mature and look for different options and so adjust our desires and need for movement or expression.  Its painful.

I have the aspect in my birth chart and I can tell you that since I have been young trying to express and go after what my soul and heart desires has been problematic to the degree that in childhood I began to subvert my true needs and desires.   I also have Moon with Mars and Saturn and we were raised in a very duty bound house when I was growing up.  Life was intensely serious, my mother was either elsewise engaged and trying to keep everything running perfectly or overworking and was then exhausted to the point any fun or mess or natural chaos caused an angry reaction or was a drain.  My parents fun times involved a lot of older adults and drinking or going out on the boat which I abhorred.  I was happiest on the beach with my surfboard growing up.

This authoritarian, dogged, do the right thing side of me often squashes the fun part.  My ‘fun’ later in life involved alcohol and drugs and these are not enriching pass times, they drain life and energy and leave one with a hangover and even more disconnected, or at least they did in my case.  So it is interesting that this aspect coincided with getting together with old drinking buddies from that time of my life and being faced with a huge brick wall of deep pain and hurt from the past.  I opened up my wound with them late on Friday night shortly before we were due to go home when they were already on about their 6th glass of champagne.

I know I am so lucky to be sober.  I was in deep pain over the weekend but I did my best to sit with it and feel it and affirm myself for feeling it.   The Chiron wounding part though is that it brought back to me the ways I have felt imprisoned or caged by a dark past I am trying my best to break free of.  In her commentary on this aspect currently Lea Whitehorse, UK based astrologer made the point that being opened to wounds at this time would draw our attention to the need for better self protective boundaries.  This rang true for me and dovetailed with what I wrote yesterday in one of my posts.

Chiron was a centaur in mythology who got wounded in the Achilles heel with by a poisoned arrow left lying around in the Hydra’s den after one of the Hydra’s battles, probably with the Gorgon.  The poison on the arrow going into Chiron in a vulnerable place (and heels or ankles ground our feet and contain tendons that help us to move forward or get away from damaging situations) relates on a psychological level to wounds we encounter by accident or just in the course of life that may leave a poison inside us or paralyse forward movement and faith in life and goodness.  We do not necessarily bring them on ourselves (though we often make them worse by the way we react).  In the myth Chiron’s wound is incurable and acts as a wisdom or insight builder into internal wounds, difficulties, challenges and psychology.  Chiron spends a lot of time helping others and birthing creative visions from the wounds but he never heals and if he did, come to think of it his purpose would be done.

So reflecting on it Chiron Mars times bring those times when we face deep wounds or watch them re-enacted and have to learn strategies to be with them in ways that don’t make the poison or pain inside worse.  Then yesterday when I wrote a little post about the pleasure of finding myself in a lovely present moment free of body and soul pain which I did not post but will today, I was thinking about Echardt Tolle’s concept  of the pain body and how that related to how I was feeling over the weekend.  The wound inside me from the past and due to 5 broken relationships could possibly be healed or eased in a new one, but the pain of aloneness on some of the dark days is hard when I don’t sit with my wounds and be my own best friend, finding ways to self soothe and come to think of it I really experience a paralysed ankle on those days when getting out can in fact be a necessary distraction that helps ease the pain for a time.

Today as yesterday the sun is streaming through windows on a very cold winter morning while my icy numb fingers type.  I find the Sun so healing and warming, it opens up and expands my being and my PTSD is very much about shock, removal, disconnection, dissociation and contract.  The warming power of the Sun counteracts this and lets me open myself more, it counters my Mars Saturn tendency to bite down hard on difficulties and pain.  Earlier today I found myself re-experiencing the anger towards this particular ‘friend’ who many years ago when I was really struggling kicked me out of her party as she had an issue with the guy I was dating at the time.  At that particular point I was in such grief over the loss of my father and was a long, long way from home.   I was very reticent about going to the dinner last week and my inner child was giving me curry over it this morning.

Talking about self protection and Chiron wounds also brings to mind the need we who are traumatised must learn to exercise around discriminating those who are and are not healthy to share our wounds with, when exactly do we open up?  How do we cope with some of the wounding things others who don’t have a clue about trauma and its deep impact say  to us?  How do we deal with the pain body when it becomes very active and preys upon us with its negative thoughts or chains of wounded logic?  How can we release and express our wounds in ways that are not retraumatising for ourselves or others, in way which makes them sources of creative insight?

This morning an idea came to me ‘the juice of the wound’.  In the myth the wounded arrow contains poison and that in itself is a kind of ‘juice’ with certain affects upon us.  That poison or ‘juice’ can and does lodge deep in our emotional bodies, it can immobilise or paralyse it.  Finding a way to ‘let’ it or dispel it seems essential as we don’t want to just stew in it always in a deeply painful way, and yet some kind of ‘stewing’ gives birth to art and poetry.  Juice and stewing images bring to mind the idea of alchemy or cooking our instinctual energies that run amuck or go awry.  It was something Carl Jung devoted a lot of time towards exploring with alchemical images such as those of Lion’s with their paws cut off being roasted in vessels over a fire which a kind of therapeutical or alchemical image for deep wounded healing processes.

Speaking of roasting Lions, last night I watched some of Madonna’s Rebel Heart concert on television.  I am not a huge Madonna fan but I was taken with the anger she was expressing and the hurt that formed the basis of two of her more recent songs Heartbreak City and Living in Love, as a Sun Sign Leo she expressed her angst and hurt in a very dramatic way.  The second song is full of positive lines about how as hurt as she has been she will not allow the hurt to poison her, it was an interesting case of synchronicity after just reading about the Chiron Mars Saturn transits of late.  We all go through pain, we all suffer and some of us do good work with the wounds.  We have our days when they consume us entirely.  The poison runs around our systems and we can feel paralysed or wired, on fire with anger and outrage or flooded and drowned in grief, these are all very human responses to what it is to be a soul that can suffer in the instinctual emotional part of us but we are then left with the outflow or outfall to deal with.  What we do with it I guess in the end speaks a lot about who we are and the attitude we take, after the flood or fire has passed or we have passed through it.  Many of us try to use our wounds to help others. By sharing our pain and suffering we connect to each other and are helped in some small way to feel less alone, in pouring out our experience or by sharing another’s we find the spot where we connect and through expressing and witnessing vulnerability become empowered.

Healer

 

An exploration of trust, safety, trauma, instincts and love

I wrote this very long post just over two years ago.  It never made it out of my drafts which contains over 50 unposted posts.  I am posting some old posts to clear what the inner critic didn’t want posted.   I think it meanders all over the place, but reading it back it has some powerful insights contained within it that were working their way to the surface of my conscious awareness at the time :

One of the impacts of suffering trauma of any kind, most especially persistent or repetitive trauma is a loss of trust and safety which can become a major default and expectation. In trauma our limbic system, (the most primitive interior aspect of our brain) is impacted and goes into over drive. At a perception of threat the amygdala sends messages to the hypothalamus which activates the sympathetic nervous system to tell the adrenal glands to release the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine to elevate our heart rate, and release oxygen into the blood which helps to activate our muscles for fight or flight. At the same time the hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing hormone which stimulates the pituitary gland to release edren cortio-trophine hormones which send the message to the adrenals to release cortisol.

Trauma survivors end up with an excess of cortisol being released into our bodies due to the fact that the trauma response cycle once activated tends to be retriggered over and over. We endure states of hyperarousal in which fear, flight or fight can be re-triggered by things that are dangerous and things that are not. Add to this complexity the fact that in severe trauma we can enter a freeze state if we are unable to escape. Our muscles contract, we go “dead”, hold our breath, feel less pain.

Peter Levine an expert on Post Traumatic Stress explains that the inability to escape, the feeling of being trapped is what leads to a hostage state, if we are able to take flight and escape from the threat we don’t suffer as much in feeling permanently stuck and powerless, we may be able to throw off the stress to a degree, establish boundaries around the threat and rebalance our own systems.

However if we are placed in a position where we are immobilised or prevented from fighting back we tend to become flooded with body chemicals which enact powerful changes upon or innate body balance. One of the most debilitating aspects of being traumatised is the belief that the present is not different to the past. We live with the traumatised reality and view repeating over and over.

I myself go into a kind of freeze many mornings on awakening. There is a sense that I am strung between two worlds. One part of my consciousness is anchored in one reality. In the present, in my body, in the room but another part of my consciousness is in a deeper more far off place which is dreamlike, liquid, sticky and heavy. I feel a sense of deep tiredness, sinking, almost a paralysis and a desire to rest but also a desire to move forward which is tinged with the fear of a shadow memory not fully conscious of being hurt when I took the steps to move forward. Normal life, just reaching out to someone or somewhere else seems fraught with danger.

As I reflect upon this I know that in the mornings I am dealing with significant body memory of times I was immobilised or prevented from moving forward and at present it is very close to the anniversary of the accident where I nearly died and was immobilised in skeletal traction for 101 days.

One of the first significant traumas and ruptures we experience is actually our own birth. When I was ready as a foetus for birthing I felt the impulse to forward along the birth canal. My mother held off going to the hospital and held me in, as she wanted to finish bottling plum jam. I got dammed up, stuck in and then birthed in a very short space of time.

This birth imprint/memory has repeated at critical times in my life. I ended up in early adulthood with a condition of the psyche which was quiet a mild form of borderline personality. How this manifested itself was in feelings of profound push pull in human relationships. The desire to be close then the desire to back off due to a fear of being frustrated or engulfed, those fears then alternating with the fear of being abandoned.

It is now recognised that people who become borderline suffer significant interpersonal trauma such as neglect or abandonment. They carry huge backlogs of frustration and rage which are in not being validated or understood become worse. Normal interactions become tinged with the fear of being close again, due to the fear carried that the person will be traumatised as they were in the past.

A significant causative factor of the borderline conditions is invalidation abuse, the person’s reality is denied and anger results.   Triggering situations which may reflect old abusive ones but not in reality may be avoided. It’s a sad state of affairs. How to reach out? How to trust if and when we have been hurt and traumatised or abused in the past or stopped or threatened or held back from expressing what we needed to express from our heart even if it was anger, disappointment, upset?

These thoughts are on my mind today as I am making significant steps to heal my own trauma. I awoke this morning after a night of very powerful dreams which featured my ex partner pointing out to me all the ways in which I was deficient as a woman I awoke at one point and got up to go to the toilet (a major achievement and sign of progress, for often I can stay paralysed in bed for some time holding in my wee) remembering the accusations of where I fell short, feeling inadequate and outraged.

I managed to settle back to sleep (yet another sign of major movement forward since I have begun recent body centred trauma work) for usually my body goes through a push pull tug of war for hours turning this way and that before I can actually settle back to sleep. The dream retuned, with my ex trying to apologise to me. We were at a dinner and I was seated on his left side and my mother was seated on his right. My mother was siding with my now ex partner as he was then trying to apologise and explain that he had been too hard on me (this was true in real life), but by that stage in the dream I was so angry and was expressing my disappointment to many people who found my anger too overwhelming and decided to move away.

I was left alone in the dream feeling guilty for having over reacted and seeing that at one point my partner was now with a beautiful girl and sharing a happiness together we could not share because I was trapped in my trauma which was beyond my control and had paralysed me, thwarting my desire to love and be loved.

I awoke with a complex myriad of feelings passing through me, one of which was grief. How all of this relates to the blog that I began a short time ago I am not sure. But one thing I do know. When I entered that relationship I was already traumatised and I had also gone through about 4 instances of significant emotional abandonment by partners who could not understand my emotions and reactions.

I carry the guilt of my extreme reactions which I see were not my fault but a (then) unconscious reaction to the trauma of abandonment and abuse which at that point I did not have the consciousness or skills to communicate in a more “rational” way.

I suffer at times from an extremely punishing inner voice. I have read that this voice is one which individuals who are scapegoats due to the fact they carry powerful emotions and insights into emotions suffer in families who deny these and in the book I read about it the author calls this voice “the inner accuser”.

The inner accuser is an introjected (injected into our psyche from the outside voices of parents and others) voice which runs an ongoing monologue on how we are falling short of an externally imposed ideal which has nothing to do with who we really are. It arises out of us as a result of us not being validated, having our true emotional reality ignored, denied or stomped on and a lack of empathy shown.

A few nights ago this voice appeared to me in the dream image of a huge beast which stomped its hooves on my dog killing him underfoot after I released him on a wild plain and watched on powerlessly. This morning after getting out of the bath I was aware of this part of me looking down at my clothes which were laying in a pile on the bathroom floor. It then came out as a killer voice and was almost demonic about how messy I was and lazy and to “pick those clothes up right now”. Luckily I was able to look this subpersonality in the face, I was facing the bathroom mirror at the time. “I don’t think you are being fair”, I said “I’ll pick the clothes up later, it’s not that important anyway, a few clothes lying on the floor.”

I can’t tell you what a major achievement this was for me. Often this “voice” terrorises me and makes me break down in tears. I recognised the voice from my childhood and from my mother’s childhood. One story my mother tells is of how she was forced to clean and had to iron the sheets by her mother. She would stand on a stool at the ironing board and cry “when I grow up, I’m never ironing the sheets”. Guess what we were taught to iron our sheets!

It could be good home economics or just a waste of time dependent on your own view or values. But it’s a major insight for me to understand the multigenerational source of some of the patterns inculcated in us in our family. On another note and again I am not entirely how this is related to this very long and meandering blog but lately I am reading Jeffrey Masson’s book Dogs Never Lie About Love which talks of how dogs just love out of this instinctive childlike essence of being that has no ulterior motive or guile.

This is how we come into life, with our instincts fully alive and awake but dependent too on how others mirror us in the environment. Some of us who suffer abuse will come through because this living, loving part of us that sees deeply, senses and knows will not allow itself to be fully thrown off the scent of it own instincts or be fully conditioned to betray its own deepest impulses. Yet for many of us this betrayal and understanding it may be a huge part of our journey of healing and recovery. Many of us (me included) may become twisted and warped by being told we are wrong, mistaken or off base but the strongest of us will keep pushing through fighting against the inner voice in our heads that would lay what is the best of our instinctual feeling self to waste.

In a beautiful paragraph in his book Masson writes.

Dogs are not worried about how they will be perceived by other dogs. They do not have to hide their joie de vivre for fear of being naïve (oh how I relate to that one!!), and they do not need to feign boredom when they are in fact interested for fear of appearing unsophisticated. Dogs never stand around at parties wondering what to do or say, or why they came, or how pitiful they might seem to more elegant or more amusing or more important guests. They do not struggle to be witty, getting right to the point… Yet they manage to come away with a greater and more accurate fund of information than human do at their parties. For the dog sex may or may not be present, in deed or thought, but information, knowledge is critical: What kind of dog am I dealing with? Who stands before me? Where have you been and what did you do there? But even more basic.: Who are you really? Questers of the truth, that’s who dogs are seekers after the invisible scent of another being’s authentic core. Eoq

Maybe dogs don’t suffer in the way we do as they are not led off the scent by humans who would tell them they are wrong or bad for being who they are, they just keep doing what they do (having written this though some training of dogs leaves a lot to answer for in the way we impose our own very human ideals and values on dogs). Dogs may be neglected as we humans too can be neglected and show the scars and yet they will keep questing and trusting in the hope of one day finding love.

Reading this book made me think so deeply about the ways in which I have responded in my own life and allowed trauma to hold me hostage with the deep unspoken unconscious expectation that the present will be like the past. My binding to the trauma in my own family led to the abandonment of two crucial relationships. I think the pain of that underlay this morning’s reaction to the dream I spoke of above. In the dream the apology had come. I had the opportunity to embrace the apology and move forward but my anger kept me trapped, it kept me trapped in the expectation that the present would me like the past and tricked me into believing it would be too dangerous to reach out and try again. I would be risking getting my fingers burnt.

Exactly how long have these powerful emotional defences been in place? I think back to Simon, my lovely boyfriend of years ago who wrote one day in my diary “for me I see Deborah struggling to love and reach out and fearing getting her fingers burnt”. He had his own issues that led me to fear, but love could have won through. In end it did, he chose someone else due to his own fear of abandonment and I accepted his choice. For him the relationship did not work out, later he came looking for me due to a chain of circumstance he missed me.

Anger has for me broken apart several key relationships. This is a Saturn Mars Moon issue that I have been working on for some times and came to a head with my present body work therapist who has been able to empathise with and contain my anger and in doing help me to understand its necessary place and move forward to a place of risk and trust.

In her book on healing trauma which I mentioned in a recent blog, Babette Rothschild points out that the first most important thing to develop when working with the traumatised person is a place and feeling of safety where psychological defences are understood and worked with rather than labelled as “resistance” or dysfunction. The therapist is working with someone who has undergone extremely scary and painful events which shadow over the present day and the person needs adequate holding and support to work with strong body sensations of the past which impinge so powerfully on the present.

Our psychological defences of anger in trauma keep us safe but in time they may prevent love because anger and fear are so strongly related. When angry we may actually be really scared and that defence needs to be understood in order to be transformed so that the love of healing can flow through and melt the defence when it is no longer necessary and may be self limiting, blocking new experience by old evidence that was true then but is no longer true. We need love to face our fear and the fear of others in a grounded and fully embodied manner. It is our choice to risk and trust and that trust does need to be earned in any relationship.

We who have been traumatised or led to mistrust our true instincts as scapegoats must not surrender our defences too easily to those with whom old abuse may be re-enacted. Recovery and understanding teaches us through trial and error who is and who is not worthy of or trust. Anger is a valid response to invalidation, though and may have lessons to teach us about what we most need, what is most important and where we need to set boundaries. The pain of seeing what was lost in holding onto anger and expressing it was a lesson in the dream I’ve explored in this blog. Did that mean that my anger was bad or wrong? For anger is often related to grief, trauma as we struggle with the deep memories of what was taken from us or lost.

Anger and grief can be sides of one coin that is thrown up by the deep psyche and lands sometimes on this side, sometimes on that. And maybe there is a profound alchemy that occurs as we do work with both. Grief and sadness can unify rather than divide and separate which is what anger does and each may be called for in different situations and at different times depending on what is needed.

The Well, instinctual hunger is calling me now….so for what it is worth these are some of the complex ruminations that have flowed out from me today as I explore the nature of trauma, grief, anger, longing, impulse, instincts, past relationships, hurting, healing and love.

Accepting vulnerability : freeing strength

I am thinking a lot about vulnerability today.  I just watched a video on Avoidant Personality Disorder which spoke of the connection between childhood emotional neglect and avoidance.

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/47895396/posts/1460625306

The subject of vulnerability and fear came up in therapy yesterday.  The chance meeting with the boy next door from my childhood on Saturday sparked memories of little things I did as a kid that showed me how scared I was and how I must have been shamed for things in childhood.  I know that as a youngster I developed this coping strategy –  I learned to hide my vulnerability, shame or fear from others and that indicates to me that on one level I was terrified.  I see how I have carried this fear on and how it has limited my life in so many ways.

I was lucky enough not to have a contraption connected to the mattress to give me an electric shock when I was wetting the bed, like my neighbour did.  But I still think I must have felt so alone and vulnerable in childhood and that it was not safe enough to turn to others for protection and care.   In both my mother and father’s childhood they had no one much to turn to either, so its a carried pattern.

I think of all the hiding I did later in life.  The sixth and most painful termination of pregnancy which happened late in my addiction was one that I went through all alone and hid from my flatmate at the time.  When it happened we were both studying Naturopathy and we had the beginnings of a very close relationship, but I feared so much opening up to her about what had happened that I lied and in the end she moved out of the place I owned and the darkest and most painfully alone year of my active addiction began.

When I think about it now I am so grateful that I finally found my sobriety one year later, but by that stage I was in so much pain over all that had happened that on one level I was trying to obliterate awareness of with my drinking that it would take me years to really come to terms with it.  And it has taken me a lot of work over the past 18 months to stop seeing myself as ‘the bad one’ when really I just had developed very dysfunctional behaviours and coping strategies in my life due to emotional neglect.

I get pretty angry when addicts or alcoholics get demonised by others.  I think the judgement often comes from ignorance.  I am a huge fan of Canadian doctor Gabor Mate who comes out in defence of addicts and tries to draw attention to the early trauma so many addicts suffer which leads them to become addicts in the first place.  If you are damaged in early life and your ability to trust and depend is broken where are you going to turn and what are you going to do with the pain if no one around you is mirroring the truth of the situation for you?   The self condemnation or lack of compassion and empathy is something we can suffer for long years even into sobriety most often turning deep inside, leading many to suicide.

I am so grateful that lately my self talk has been becoming that much more loving and supportive.  I am so happy that I am able now to recognise and champion the vulnerable self in me that lay hidden under so many of my dysfunctional coping behaviours.  I was sharing with Katina yesterday my growing realisation of how I use avoidance out of fear.  Once I can admit to myself the fear or vulnerability then I can step in with the loving supportive adult presence to talk to that little one in me who is so scared and help her to take more positive, healthy, nurturing steps in my life.

Sadly as I grew up I absorbed a self shaming voice that was taken in from my parents and the nuns at my school.  I never learned about self compassion.  I really feel so strongly that self compassion is something we should teach children from a very young age.  At that early stage we need help to deal with our feelings, vulnerabilities and fears.  We do not need to be shamed for self assertion or sticking up for ourselves either.  We should not be taught to fear our vulnerability but to embrace it and learn ways to encourage ourselves from within in the midst of it.  In the absence of this we look to others to do it for us and if we are unhealed or wounded in this area we often attract those who project the shadow of their own vulnerable self onto us and then reject or shame us for it.

Part of our healing in therapy and most particularly if we come out of a narcissistically wounded family involves recognising we are not to blame but that in adult hood we do have a responsibility to change patterns and often we can only do this with good help if our wounds are serious.

Yesterday Katina said to me kindly “you did the best you could at the time”. Lying in bed this morning and thinking about that I thought what a relaxing and accepting thing that is to say in many situations.  People who hurt us do the best they can.  It may be the very worst for us and only we can break away from that kind of hurt and we must not continue to lie to ourselves about the damage such ignorance caused, well meaning as they may claim it was.  Come to think of it just re-editing this now my mother often uses excuses when I try to bring up certain painful things with her, she cannot bear to admit her own vulnerability at times.

At the same time as accepting our vulnerability we need to keep reaching for the best we can at the time and accept when our worst is all we could have done at that point with all we knew at the time.  This to me is showing mercy, it relaxes our muscles and it lets ourselves off the hook so that we can search for healthier kinder and more positive ways to self nurture and grow beyond old formerly unrecognised vulnerabilities and fears.  It may be the most valuable tool we have in our arsenal for dealing with depression which often is created by the unloving things we tell ourselves over and over about our selves or wounded and wounding others.