We had nowhere to go with the pain and the wounds ran deep

Reading Marian Keyes latest novel Again, Rachel is quite triggering for me.. For those who do not know Irish writer, Marian struggled with addiction and got sober around a similar time to me, I came across the book at Target but did not buy it then and got home to hear her interviewed on our Radio National book program about 4 Mondays ago following therapy. T

The lead character Rachel must be based loosely on Marian’s own life and family and in it Rachel is an addiction counseller working in a facility with a smaller amount of sobriety to Marian.. In the piece I just read a client begins to tap into and unload some of her abandonment trauma in group therapy and in the novel Rachel has to shut that down to continue the deeper feeling work one to one.. It moved me a lot as it had to do with a young pregnancy and abuse and abandonment. This same thing happened to me (with the exception my Dad was not abusive but emotionally disengaged) but when Mum found out I was sleeping with that boyfriend I fell pregnant too at the age of 21 a month or so before, she would not talk to me for days so when I found out I was having his baby I could not go to her, she screamed and yelled at me that day and told me she was ashamed of me.

I fell pregnant twice to him and he abandoned me miles from home with the first pregnancy only I did not know I was pregnant at the time, but Dad was very upset he and Mum had to wire me money for a train ticket home as this guy, Jim drove off leaving me with nothing at all. When we got back together Dad must have been really worried as he ended up getting sick the next year having already gone through all of the trauma of me and my older sister nearly dying in 1979 and 1980. Interesting this is all coming up as the Full Moon at 23 degrees in Libra opposing the Sun in Aries had set off my father’s painful Venus in Libra opposite Chiron in Aries square to Pluto in Cancer (Dad was born in 1920.) I just read the following about Chiron in Aries and both Mum and Dad had it and it has to do with wounds of feeling worthless.

If you have Chiron in Aries, it means the core of your pain comes from a feeling of worthlessness. Very often you carry the pressure of being the best you can be.

(People with this placement :

They tend to avoid talking about their pain at all costs, which is why it is quite hard to tap into the healing gifts of Chiron in Aries.

Source : TF20S

Reading this makes me realize that for addicts, just as Gabor Mate says there is no tough love, the abandonments we go through are real and our younger life of trauma often may remain hidden, out acting out behavior becomes problematic for others who end up labelling us as crazy.. but then as Alain de Botton points out, who does not suffer from some kind of wounding or craziness in the emotionally ignorant world.

For me I never got into treatment, I did it all alone apart from attending AA for over 8 years almost daily at first and then three or so times a week, before Jonathan and I went overseas and I started one to one therapy.

I am glad now that my pain and tears are not as great.. I have unpacked a lot of it over the past 23 years since then, but at times I can still get the spins, lately its about someone pulling me in to try and help him and his daughter who is sick.. I cannot afford it and he chose to be away from her after her mother died but I cannot help but think its all magnetic attraction, after all I was sent away so many times and after Dad died I had no one to speak to of anything, it got acted out in drinking and often lashing out with boyfriends which they could never understand and so left me.

Even in sobriety marriage was difficult trying to feel my feelings, which were not seen as acceptable. I have a post to share after this one prompted by Cherie White about how bullies shut down, shame, smear and gaslight targets but in an alexythymic culture its the ones who are sensitive and feel that so often get disparaged.

All I know today is that the abandonment i lived through in my life was intense.. I have not made it up.. I saw the heavy cost in my family too of two sisters being medicated rather than addressing feelings.. Yes, its sad at Easter to have no contact with anyone but in a way it feels safer and better. At least on my own I am free to be a mess and to feel if I need to, but today there have been no tears only a lot of anxiety dancing. Still I am alive even as it draws closer the anniversary of losing Judith my sixteen year older sister. The tears have gone now, what just lives on is the unadulterated recognition of how hard it was for all of us girls to be feeling, vulnerable woman in a deeply feminine wounded world.

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.

Separating past from present

Past abandonment trauma has a way of poisoning our life from the inside.. When others reach out to us,at times we can be triggered, not feeling seen or validated we may react from deep within that tender and aching wound.. Before we know it the other party has pulled back startled, perhaps gone silent (hopefully has not tried to attack us more but that can sadly happen too.) I had a touch of this yesterday with someone I have connected to over past weeks via Instagram.. He tried to fix me with his comments and then used a word that I actually abhor ‘should’ in a sentence, never mind that that word ignored the validity of what I was feeling and my windows of tolerance and capacity to cope. I did not know how to reply at first so I simply said, I am human and I have read that Joseph Campbell once said if any word would be best to be erased from our human vocabulary it is the word ‘should’ the person replied back that I seemed to be hurt and so I listed for him some of the traumas I witnessed or was subject to since 2004.. that shut him up… and of course I would be lying if I said my fear of abandonment was not triggered but it could not unsettle me enough to say anything more.. I feel proud of this today.. I managed to hold onto myself.

Holding onto our trauma reality and not diminishing or discounting it is not easy with some people who can never have clue about how it feels. That said there is a time to separate past trauma from the present moment in which it can often bleed through for those of us with high level abandonment, emotional neglect or abuse trauma.

By divine happenstance after praying this morning I opened my Tian Dayton reader to this page and meditation.. I hope it resonates for you.

Separating Past from Present

Today I can take care of myself in the present. I can identify feelings as they come up and separate them – those that belong to the past and those that belong to the present. If they belong to the past I will not make them about my life today but will instead understand that something current has triggered them. The enormity of my response it probably not about what is going on right now. If I make it about my present, my life will quickly feel overwhelming and unmanageable. I will seek help from people and situations that are designed to assist me and I will separate what about today from what is about yesterday.

I do not make my present about my past

Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as bird from the hand of the fowler.

Proverbs 6:5

Don’t keep me down

When i look back to the abuse and nasty things said to me in my last relationship I see how much I was also low in self esteem inside myself.. I have been working so hard on building up my sense of self in these past years.. It has taken a lot of work and grief and anger and lots of other feelings and to be honest a good therapist.. Also sharing here and trying to be as real as I can about my past and foibles, fears and insecurities..

These days I am being much more loving to myself and I am able to face criticism but also to know when it comes out of a not very fair place.. I do not need to shame myself for anything for I am a human and as a human there is stuff I cannot do and do not know, but there are things I do too.. In short, these days I try not to be super human nor to feel that I would be okay if only I had not endured a lot of the trauma I have, it is just that sometimes I do worry that my emotional neglect trauma has made much it harder for me to be and stay connected.

Listening to a lot of Louise Hay is really helping me lately.. Louise helps me to realise that I can leave my trauma in the past, that I do not have to allow it to define me, at the same time I will never be another Deborah who grew up with things I would have loved to have.. a mother who was present and engaged, a father who wanted to know about my day when he came home, a sister who was not hateful and hard at times when I really needed softness.. these are things I cannot change and the lack of emotional availability has left scars and made it hard to trust at times in a brighter tomorrow but still I know there is a chance if I take the actions to bring good things into my life and take the chance to stop doing things that may hurt me or be counter productive instead of sit around complaining about things…life can always improve.. just as long as I do not self sabotage.

This morning i let myself lay in bed for an extra hour and a half.. Its not something I usually do but today we had rain and I had a few rocky nights so I just let myself sink back into sleep again.. but when I woke in the darkness I must confess I did feel the shadows of those lonely years at that empty holiday house at the coast I retreated to in 2002 and 2004.. I saw how I pulled back but also how I was seeking the way home to my lost self.. to the littler girl who did not really know how to live with self confidence.. I see it all far more clearly now all of these years onward and I also see how I could be at risk of repeating old patterns if I do not champion myself and trust those who do reach out and want to be with me…

Sometimes I wonder if I am doomed to go through life without a loving partner.. God knows so many do it and they find the way to a full life of love in other ways, through ministry, friendship or career… but still deep down there is a part of me that longs for my own little family.. while another voice of doubt always seems to whisper “maybe it isn’t meant for me”.. Maybe I am pushing away an opportunity now due to past doubt and fear. I am not entirely sure.. All I know is that I will keep trying every day to grow in self esteem and love.. and to reach out to connect, even if so often there seems to be a voice so deep down inside that tells me not to trust and that I am ‘doomed’to always be alone.

Feeling my true feelings : not easy!

Sometimes it seems to me that feeling my true feelings is impossible without my mind arguing back. There is the running critical commentary in my mind that argues with me about the way I am feeling and telling me I ‘ought to feel another way or uses some kind of philosophy.. This is not always bad as expressing our true feelings with some people may get us in a lot of hot water.. We may be judged. Then it is always a surprise to me when my repressed feelings just burst out sideways like they tend to do every second Wednesday when my gardener David comes..

David gets very focused on the garden, he was a bit mean and abrupt with me last year and I nearly told him not to come back, instead he reduced me to tears as I pleaded with him for help…he took mercy on me then but today he nearly tore my jumper when he was trying to take a branch off me I had pruned and I just said to him “please can you be more gentle with me?” On reflection I do think David’s visit triggers my painful feeling around masculine Mars energy and about my Dad too.. The struggle I seem to have with my living sister who can also be short, sharp tongued and abrupt seems to correlate with her Mars in Sagittarius at 4 degrees and squaring my natal Chiron at 4 Pisces in the 7th house of relationships. However in her chart Mars also squares her own Sun and Venus conjunction in Pisces and often I see her softer feeling side buried.. Mum had Mars in Pisces at 4 degrees.. Dad was often wounding her with his disconnection when she got highly emotional or triggered.

I woke today all twisted around anyway.. I have been listening to videos going to sleep from Louise Hay but I wake up and the phone is on fire next to my body, I know we are told not to sleep with our phones but I love the soothing of Louise’s voice and her focus on loving ourselves and this one I listen too involves also taking the inner children of both parents into our own heart.. for so often our parents inner kids caused us problems growing up…

It also occurred to me in the middle of the night that my brother’s oldest son lost his Grandad (my Dad) at the exact same age that my Dad lost his father.. 12 years of age.. That was also the age his Mum was when her mother died.. and that death marked her for a long long time. I had taken a family friend out yesterday who worked for my father and brother for a long time and when I mentioned wanting to try to improve this distant relationship she just said to me “Deb, be careful, Anthony is very controlling and narcissistic and anything you say will find it back to your brother” Its so tough to fear I will be judged, but his perfectionism/control issue is something I saw one time when we visited my nephew’s place and he talked down to his wife in a bossy way. In a strange stroke of synchronicity when I came back to my home town this house I ended up buying was the one his wife grew up in and at a recent family event my niece in law’s mother asked me if they could come and see it… I have not been prepared to do that before now as I did not feel safe or secure enough but I long to do it as I just love connecting.

I am realising that I have had so much to grieve today as I shed all of those tears trying to cut through a tree branch without a lot of success. I thought of the terminations of pregnancy particularly.. How sad that was.. to never be able to bring a child to term and how hard it was for my husband.. I was not ready… but sometimes it feels I am just cursed to so much aloneness. The battle is going on with Scott too.. I have few doubts he is not genuine now but this money issue is hanging over my head.. Money is a horrible issue because I have not lacked for money but I have lacked for attention, togetherness and most of all TIME.. Scott only has brief windows of contact due to his heavy schedule with training and patrol. We have two hour or hour and a half windows 5 days a week but lately with the morning’s closing in and due to the fact sometimes I am awake for a couple of hours in the middle of the night I am not often awake to talk.. I pushed myself today then got the shits he had to go.. I am never like this usually but I got really really angry about it and later was shouting at people in traffic blocking my way and going at a snail’s pace. WHY DOES EVERYONE ELSE’S SCHEDULE DOMINATE MINE.. WHY IS MY TIMETABLE SO FUCKING UNIMPORTANT.. Could be another wounded ego issue? Or a valid anger.. just not sure at all????

I know enough by now to know that when I react like this its about me not anything happening around me.. I just went down by the lake then and sat under a tree and prayed.. the cursing coming out of me was pretty darn intense and dark…

Buried feelings of grief so often masquerade underneath anger.. That is something I am learning more and more lately… with my Saturn Mars I feel blocked and put upon by the Universe but such an attitude isn’t a good one for me to feel happy and free.. So I try to keep always examining my motives and where my blocked or heavy feelings may be causing current problems or outbursts with the life and people around me.

Stepping away from my trauma

My traumas never leave me..often they arrive in a cascade or avalanche but it may only be body symptoms at other times images. Last night was super intense awake at 2 then 5 I was in the toilet pushing on the walls with my elbows struggling to breathe..then it arrived a memory of the Nuns forcing my Mum to stand in a corner telling her she was stupid and dumb..a bad girl for not completing her homework. Fucks sake did they know she was left alone every afternoon and evening? That she had no father? Brutal mean unfeeling..so unkind.

Same denomination of nuns brutalised my two older sisters to the point my living sister no longer plays piano. She was very good at it but they punished her for wanting to learn a Dean Martin song she wanted to play as a gift for my Dad. These are the hidden things the unspoken things the knives that go in.

Angels reminded me last night that everything my Mum suffered lays in my cells. This morning I heard voices wanting me dead again. I said No you can’t do this I am eating breakfast and going for a walk. I cried for most of the first 20 mins. My sister called to wish me happy birthday. I am 59 today.

Each step I take forward is a victory as a survivor of 5 generations of Complex PTSD. Last night under that trauma cascade I heard the words “no one puts baby in the corner” my mother needed tenderness, holding, patience, love she got hit instead, left alone but she always forgave as she knew what her mother suffered as a war widow with zero government assistance.

I weep for the times my pain was so much I could not always see the deep roots of my Mums. I will no longer let negativity capture me. I want to live in gratitude even amidst all of the pain. I simply must bless it knowing how toxic it was and how much it hurt my Mum. I must give love to the sore hurting places and love my body..as Mum found it so difficult to love mine and her own.

Keeping moving and reminding myself “I am safe!”

We just got back from a later walk, at times its a push to get moving but when I do I am grateful. I was sharing with a friend with Complex PTSD earlier about how it was to be crushed and trapped in that car, with so much cut and bleeding and my lungs filling up with fluid from the rib puncture. He went through other forms of overpowering and immobilization, and it occurs to me that Peter Levine, trauma specialist and founder of somatic experiencing says that kids pinned down in any way or immobilized as result of traumatic procedures or abuse suffer more.. There is no way to run away in such cases and they get flooded and feel trapped.. Peter helps them later to complete the necessary running movement because he learned from animals those that are allowed to move and discharge through shaking or trembling to throw off trauma fare better than those who cannot and the legacy of anger left in a child may be too ‘hot’ for a parent to handle so they may block or punish a child for it not understanding and so doom them to a host of later problems.

My friend told me today that he was sent to an institution and sent into a bubble room, I didn’t like to ask too much about that but I know his fighting off the entrapment and burst of rage were healthy, even if he got in trouble for them. That said later in life engaging in some fear fight flight reactions can get us in more trouble.

I felt better for my walk this afternoon, even discussing all of this with a good friend stirs me up. We were saying how many dud therapists we have encountered in our time and how useless we know the medication pathway is for many.. This not a popular thing and each to their own in trauma, I can only share what works for me and I never used meds, have seen the toxic results on two sister of prescriptions for many things including lithium, though another friend claims it helped her.. But that is not the purpose of this post.. It is to say how movement is so important but also releasing and discharging with someone who understands and is safe, as with ignorant or unsafe others we may be traumatised again..

That said it is a belief of mine that our body organically knows what it needs to heal and what works, as Levine notes when we over-ride those instinctive movements we lose our way. A large part of dissociation can be about being scared of memories or symptoms that are in reality not dangerous any more, that is why more and more lately when mine come up I just remind myself I am safe and being held in love.. To think the other way arks up anxiety and reactivity… it speeds me up instead of slowing me down and often my body needs me to connect to it, rather than split off as so many of us have no other alternative but to when faced with certain triggers or re-enactments of trauma.

Pain is a traveller

This poem is prompted by a comment I saw on a blog recently and the title is the comment.

Pain is a traveller

It flows through the spaces of our being

Left vacant by wanting

It pulls on the tendrils of our heart

That lie all entangled

Tying us up in knots

We hold our breath

As pain reminds us of a past that is gone

While waking us up to what it is

We most need and long for now

Opening to the breath

And all of the deep feeling

The tendrils of our heart

And very being uncoil

As we fall into the truth

That the essence of our soul

Is love

How shame and the inner and outer critic prevent us living wholeheartedly.

It was shame researcher, Brene Brown who a few years back coined the term foreboding joy which is a term to describe the fear we carry into life that can protect us from embracing joy in the moment and living wholeheartedly… We see a small baby and our heart just fills with love but then fears of loss can come too and steal that moment from us..

While driving home I was thinking about a very involved and informative post Trauma Research UK recently shared on shrinking the inner and outer critic.. In fact I read it in therapy today crying at some parts as well as being doubled over with pain in my gut at others.. there is so much in it that resonates with me…

My inner child is speaking very loudly lately about how she felt in our family and how she struggled with very distant and preoccupied parents.. and about how painful it was to be sent to my room when I was legitimately angry, or hurt over some incident. In the post the writer shares that toxic parents do hurtful or neglectful things, but then also shame and silence the child’s legitimate protest, as a result the child has no alternative but to turn those feelings back inside the self and develops a virulent inner and outer critic that shames the child or seeks to protect and avoids other people who have that fear of the hurtful parent projected on to them…

Today in therapy I felt the pain of being sent to my room with all of those feelings I needed help to manage from one of my parents deep in my body while my inner child articulated it.. the feelings felt so so big… .. In fact Dad often laughed as Mum terrorised us with rage, things that hurt then being mocked is just an awful kind of pain for a child. I also remember being laughed at and shamed for being passionate and dramatic and come to think of it not hearing or validating someone’s grief for a lost loved one is a lot like shaming them for passion and deep feelings.

I will share the link to the related post as I believe it is essential reading for people who have endured relational and attachment trauma. What a painful place to find ourselves, cut off from relations in the outer world that could reconnect us all due to the fear of experiencing what we did in the past, or seeing rejection when it isn’t really there?

https://traumaresearchuk.wordpress.com/2020/08/21/the-role-of-the-inner-and-outer-critic/

I have written extensively on the protector/persecutor complex in my blog before.. The persecutor is an inner figure that goes on beating us up well into adulthood.. It may be that we experience a sense of shame and guilt for what was done to us. It was a very powerful relief in therapy today to hear my mother’s voice telling me how proud she was of me to be doing this work and how none of what went down in terms of my own neglect was my fault. In later years I saw her struggling with seeing how it brought about the ending of my marriage while at the same time wanting me to stop any focus on inner work or therapy which, at least initially she did not understand

In later years she actually came to some appointments with me and began to open up to me about her own neglect and I know she wished in some way my living sister could follow this path instead of a purely psychiatric ‘drug relief’one.

I understand my father has having endured neglect too and he ran away from Holland n 1938 leaving his family behind to save his own life.. He worked so hard to put all of that behind him but he just created more problems as neglected children of neglected parents often end up crashing and burning.. This has not applied so much my older brother who has been able to hide neglect behind enormous outer success in the world, especially financially, although his only daughter has borne the brunt of much of this. I was so sad to hear from my sister on the weekend that she had a stroke recently something my brother did not feel safe enough to share with me.. and we tried to get close many years ago (my only niece and I) but this was derailed by the family which made me cry for years…it being just more of the same old same old emotionally distant family pattern.

I notice at times I can attack people in the outer world who want to get close to me.. I am more aware of the pattern lately.. In fact on the weekend I had to own some of this with someone I care for deeply, luckily ours is one of those relationships able to hold the paradoxical feelings of hate and love, longing and fear and he never ever ever shames me.. Something I cry deep tears of gratitude for. As a Complex trauma survivor I need these kind of relationships in my life, as I am still healing and very raw with grief lately.

Much as we say we need to do our own healing work alone, sometimes the Complex PTSD ‘warrior’ defence may work against what Elaine Aron calls ‘linkages’, bonds that we try to establish as adults.. The outer critic can function to try and cut these bonds by seeking that ‘worm in the apple’ I have mentioned that those of us with avoidant attachment so often go looking for in relationships. Also when we split people into all good or all bad we loose the capacity for connection. A good enough relationship is one in which we make mistakes but can express our full range of feelings and be heard.. it comforts me so much when someone says they understand how I feel to me that is a strong healing balm, since as I child I was so often led to believe my feelings were wrong or made no sense at all.

Shame and fear of experiencing joy seem to be interconnected in so many ways in those of us with Complex PTSD, taking the risk to open our hearts again often opens us to old pain but that also has a purpose… so we can grow in awareness of the complex mix of feelings we can so often experience in relationships. Working on listening to all of the inner voices we hear too is ongoing work in order that we can sort out the mix of those that are helpful and life promoting and those that hinder us, keep us trapped in shame or only promote a freezing or disconnection from the heat of engaged interaction and possible attachment. There is a part of us that often seeks to sabotage our healing if we were badly hurt in childhood… those interested in this could look into the work of therapist Donald Kalsched who wrote brilliantly about it in his book The Inner World Of Trauma.

Have you ever? : reflections on the scapegoat and buried emotional trauma

Have you ever been scapegoated by family members? Have you ever had the finger pointed at you telling you you are the problem? There is a saying I heard in the 12 step rooms many years back… “when you point the finger at someone you have three fingers pointing back the other way towards you” (yes folks try it right now and you will see it is true.)

Many many years ago led by his unconscious and dream images psychiatrist Carl Jung had a dream that showed a psychic inner structure that he came to call the shadow. This shadow he came to believe contained all the characteristics of us we are not on friendly terms with or that our family or culture was no on friendly terms with (ie. there is both a personal and collective shadow).

Some people have a lot of darker emotions hidden in the shadow, fear, sadness, rage or anger and some others of us have a lot of gold in the shadow and we may have been the ones others in family or culture tried to project darker things upon. There is also a concept in family therapy that talks of the concept of the ‘identified patient’. This is the family member who develops an addiction or breaks down in some way or has to have treatment. This is the family member that struggles in the family to be the whole of themselves and express truths or secrets others would prefer remain hidden (eg. emotional or sexual abuse). This is the family member that may be more likely to be led on the individuation pathway, a path of trying to uncover and rediscover the entirety of the soul in them that got loss or buried.

I am mentioning this today as lately I am seeing this process play out in my older sister’s (now deceased) family. And it is interesting that this is happening very close to the anniversary of her death. As I see it in the alcoholic or traumatised family there is a lot of pain but rather than every member carry their portion of the pain, each struggles in their own way and often they will target someone else in the family and tag or dump them with things. They may even exile the person just as in mythology the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness with the so called ‘sins’ (or wounds) of the collective heaped upon its back.

Alcoholics are most usually likely to be the ‘family scapegoat’. They may struggle with emotions that were not permitted a place in the family and come to think of it in a feeling wounded culture there are feelings such as anger and sadness which are harder to express and which people are more rigidly defended against. These emotions are often not allowed expression and so they get dumped into a kind of collective psychic waste bin that is then passed on from generation to generation. Pain then accumulates and one person gives expression to it most overtly.

People who struggle with shadow projection may find it hard to ‘get their lives together’ in a culture that venerates this. That is not to say that there are no healthy ways to get our lives on track but mostly they should involve us being able to be real and struggle, to fall down sometimes, to make mistakes, to need help and support and just possibly not do as well on financially or externally on some level as others. Does that necessarily mean such people are actually failures? Does this actually mean such people are not worthy of help? Does this actually mean that such people have less value?

Today in therapy Kat and I were discussing how and why this process of scapegoating and shame dumping in family has been affecting me so bodily over the past few days. I got to therapy today in a lot of physically based emotional pain. I pretty much started crying as soon as I got in the car and the cascade of trauma flashbacks then began taking me back to a trauma (which come to think of it now took place around this same time of year in 1990) when I had to spend hours in casualty after driving myself with severe abdominal pain in the middle of the night. Turned out I was pregnant at the time and that the sac containing the tiny embryo had ruptured. I ended up having to have a termination of pregnancy (my fourth) and it coincided with having to leave the group house I was living in and with my them boyfriend lying to his family and pretending I had had an operation for kidney stones.

After the termination he broke things off with me and I got drunk and ended up at his parent’s place crying and yelling, of course they thought I was demented and out of control and they never found out the truth as he broke things off with me again fairly rapidly (after a brief reunion) and in the aftermath the next 2 years saw some of the lowest points of my addiction spanning the years to December 1993 when I finally got sober.

Well today in the car I was back here in St Vincent’s casualty lying alone for hours and hours as they ran tests. I think too this trauma was triggered over the weekend because calls were not returned by family, Scott was AWOL and my nephew then rang telling me I needed not to give help to my other nephew who is struggling financially in the aftermath of his relationship ending. Being left all alone and waiting and missing a therapy appointment which was delayed due to Easter Monday meant that issue of having to wait all alone was retriggered for me and then the shadow projection onto my lovely nephew triggered how I was treated over the next year by a so called ‘friend’ who kept confronting me about my addiction which was nothing less than self medication in the face of ongoing trauma spanning the years 1979 to 1992.

The truth is addicts often say their addiction saved their life. We use the self medication until it no longer keeps working for us. Recovery then involves a huge and long drawn our journey of unpeeling or unravelling down to the true causes of which addiction was only obscuring or a symptom of.

For me the original trauma is about attachment traumas, wounds and emotional neglect vacancies or ‘black holes”. I now know this without a doubt. After years and years of blaming myself (as most emotional neglect survivors do) today in therapy I finally wept for my true self who so often gets beaten up by a self compassion lacking inner critic who is echoed by the outer critic lately being turned on my nephew. Only another addict in recovery may fully understand that fact unless the person had been trained in empathic attunement. Attachment traumas and wounds so often become gravitational force fields for others, in the well known process of so called ‘repetition compulsion’ what we fail to call up to consciousness will repeat until it is addressed or felt and this must happen IN THE BODY. THE CELLS CONTAIN EVERYTHING.. THE MIND CAN BE USED TO MAKE SENSE OF IT WHEN ATTUNED TO THE BODY. JUDGEMENTS WILL NOT SHOW US THE UNDERLYING PSYCHIC REALITY WHICH MUST BE FACED IN TIME AND DEEPLY FELT IN ORDER TO BE RELEASED AND MADE SENSE OF (BROUGHT OUT OF DISSOCIATION INTO ASSOCIATION OR RE-MEMBERING!)

Scapegoating the sufferer is cruel. It is lacking in both insight and empathy. It concentrates on the ugliness of the symptoms while NOT FULLY SEEING OR UNDERSTANDING THE FEELINGS OF PAIN DISTRESS AND UNWORTHINESS WHICH UNDERLIE IT. Scapegoating serves no other purpose but to bolster up the defended ego and keep in place the ignorance of the Scapegoatees. In traumatised and addicted families or families with multi-generational trauma everyone struggles, but the one who struggles a little more with hidden emotions needs support and encouragement. They need to be brought back out of the cold place of exile and embraced in their full humanity but sadly this will be almost impossible unless the Scapegoatees also face what they are blocking, projecting or defending against or finding it hard to open up to or face. Blaming and targeting others in such a way never really ends well and it blocks connected healing and embracing of the actual trauma that sorely needs recognition.