Hollow

Every time you left

I felt

Hollow hollow hollow

The pain went deep into my bones

Swirling around in the marrow

Bathing me in dread

And it felt that with all the letters

Rearranged

Left created

Felt sense

Of sheer terror

Difficult for a soul to contain

But all these years hence

I sense

The reasons why

This hollowness began to surround

My soul

And take me down

To that loveless place

And only then

Within the devastation

Did I learn how

To become my own mother

And defeat the terrorist

Who only wanted to tear me apart

Inside

As I realised how that force always lied

About a truth I lost the way to

And could only find

At the end of a long journey

Filled with confusion

That finally led me home

To a place so deep and full

And bathed in love

No longer

As hollow

The mental confusion of early childhood trauma

When there is not as much going on in my life I want to share information from Tian Dayton’s book Emotional Sobriety on the effects of relational trauma, that is the damage that happens to us when we are affected by early childhood abuse, trauma or lack of mirroring and empathy.  However today one of the key symptoms that is capturing my attention is distorted reasoning.  Tian writes :

Many people experience trauma within their family unit, rather than from an external source  When one’s family unit is spinning out of control, people are prone to adapt all methods of coping mechanisms – whatever they have to do to maintain feelings of connection.  Distorted reasoning – which may take the form of rationalizing and justifying bizarre or unusual forms of behavior and relations – can be immature and can also produce core beliefs about life upon which even more distorted reasoning is based.  For example “he is only hitting me because he loves me.”

I am thinking of this today as my Mum lies so ill and pumped full of chemicals in hospital.  I am thinking of how with no father she had to suffer aloneness and then be pushed to clean and clean.  Down on her kness in the bathroom she was told to ‘polish that floor until it shines’  and then she was hit or forced into domestic service.   With all this unprocessed trauma was it any wonder it was passed on to us all in different ways.  My older sister worked and worked and then drank and drank until the cerebral bleed took her down, my brother in law who eventually abandoned her was the evil one, but he too was scrambling to survive.   Amidst all of the following trauma I was scrambling to make sense of it, seeing my sister in a mythological light or struggling to understand the truth, caught up but not able to see clearly, carrying terror of abandonment into all subsequent relationships.

Lats night as I sat by my mother’s bedside and held her hand in the darkened room, an ocean of peace opened up between us.   I wept to the depths of my being as she told me she loved me.  She is very heavily drugged at the moment and chock full of toxins.  She also knows she hurt me and that we struggled at times, but what I really felt so deeply last night was the love that she tried to express in the only way she knew how.  Her own mother never once tole her she loved her, in later years she would push my mother out of the way in her desire to see my father, who she adored.   I know at times as a patriarchial Dad, my father frustrated all three of his daughers and there were a lot of times he could not give my mother the understanding she needed.   I see how my Mum was as a young person so focused on survival that emotions had to take a back seat.  Now its so sad to witness the years of trauma she has lived through as the result of her earlier emotional neglect richocheting over three generations.  My nephew made a lightening visit to see her yesterday morning driving four hours and weeping so intensely.   My heart goes out to him really, he has been through so much in past weeks all in an effort to fill the gaping mother wound in his heart (Saturn in Cancer).   He is carrying pain of many generations, that much is clear to me, as the very sensitive one.

Two other symptoms of early relational trauma are also somatic disturbances as well as memory disturbances and dissociation.  The continuity of time is warped in trauma, we don’t remember key events but they are held deep in somatic memory, however they are obscured and disjointed and may make so sense.   Due to dissociation we experience reactions to events that mirror earlier ones that may seem out of control or order.  We are then judged or judge ourselves for suffering, not fully understanding the extent of our suffering.  Re-enactment patterns and relationship issues are also a result of relational trauma in early life.   We will try in any way to make the the unconscious conscious in order to feel and heal it, but so often that involves experiencing more pain in order to connect to the original cause that my lay deeply obscured within us.   Maybe triggering traumatic events and disturbances in later relationships are ‘wake up calls’ trying to draw us towards understanding, healing and feeling.   It major work and we need so much help along the way.  We cannot do it alone and we need positive connections to heal but making them is hard when we are often attracted to what is bad for us.

With Mercury planet of mind and communications moving backward through the meaning making sign of Sagittarius this month and back towards a confusing square (or crisis aspect) with the planet of distorting Neptune, issues of mental confusion may be highlighted but the unconscious which Neptune also rules may be trying to get our attention in all kinds of ways.  Who can we trust for validation when our thinking and ability to make sense of our experience may be essentially wounded or thwarted and distorted in some way by past relational trauma or lack of mirroring?   It is so important that we find the right avenues to deepen in understanding and heal our minds as well as our hearts, souls and bodies.

Mars the planet of self assertion is moving into trine Neptune over the next two weeks or so, so a flow of healing may open up in many of our lives, a push to move forward in love and compassion in order to find freedom from past hurt, its what I am feeling very deeply this morning.   We cannot avoid the mental distortions that are a part of trauma but we can, in later life work for more clarity and insight.    Information on how trauma can discombobulate us is essential for our emotional recovery.

Deep Sea Diver

diver

I am

the deep sea diver

to this

my soul

Excavating

memories

feelings

frustrations

desires

that have sunk

so deep down

within my soul

that seem to be forgotten

under the heavy weight

of unshed tears

remembered by my body

they resurface in waves

that heave and swell and then flow forward

like a flood

that cleanses

this the unconscious suffering in my soul

This wreckage

I dive for

was

a train wreck

a car crash

a high flying plane

shot down

nose diving and crashing

this bower bird pile

I now assemble

into a mosaic

pattern contains

fractured fragments

now become something valuable

what seemed to be

a discarded wreckage

becomes a work of art

its all in the

action I take

to make sense of pain

to accept open to and not reject

that which in being broken

creates the rich mosaic pattern

of my soul

My Mum : wounded body : Ancestral healing

I went shopping with my Mum yesterday.  We were no longer like mother and daughter but two sisters or two little kids out for a fun day.    I helped my Mum to find a lovely pink cable knit jumper, due to her decreasing size it was difficult to find anything to fit and the size that my Mum needed was on display so I helped her to get it off and she tried the jumper on and it looked beautiful.

While I was sitting in the change room I saw how twisted around my Mum’s aging body had become.  I thought of the suffering she witnessed her three daughters go through over years.  I thought of the ways she tried to help in the absence of a loving husband.  I then thought of my Mum’s own unhappy and deeply lonely childhood in which there was no father and no emotionally available mother to help her with anything.   It was such a deeply poignant moment and it did humble me, as I saw far deeper and saw my Mum no longer as person who should be occupying a role in a certain way, but just as a very frail and fallible human who did the very best she could with what she knew.

Feeling all this for my Mum does not minimise any of the hurts from the past, however what I am seeing is how I became conditioned to run or to turn away from her.  In a way this was very good as I needed to look elsewhere for what I could not find at home, but none of that seeking could make any deeper sense until the deeper bedrock of my foundation or lack of nurturing foundation came to realisation and there was a lot of pain before that.

My aloneness does not seem as acute today.   It does grow in spaces and places though when I am too far away from kind bodies and human beings who provide a foundation of energy and life for me to connect with.   Little things mean a lot.  My gentle kind gardener who only comes infrequently but today is helping to pick up leaves.  The rare call from a friend asking me how I am and would I like to go for a coffee.  All of these connections that in the past year have come into my life mean so much to me, a person who before could not really bear to have anyone too close in her world for fear she would be overtaken.

And having seen my Mum’s body yesterday and having sat with my own traumatised body yesterday gently in the sunshine just feeling the breath makes me so aware of how much of our soul’s life our bodies carry for us and how important it is for us to go gently with them.

This kind of soft attention is the complete opposite of the violence and trauma of difficult injuries my body has gone through in my life.  I am going to list them below as each hurt and several of them came out of inattention on the part of my caretakers or just their intense focus on other things :

A burnt foot that suffered 3rd degree burns on a camping holiday due to my Mum cleaning the caravan with a bucket of scalding water on the step near where I was drawing.

A fish hook lodged between the webbing of my big and second toe that had to be pulled out by Dad… he left it in the seagrass matting after sorting his fishing tackle.

A deep gash to my wrist which got 30 stiches which happened when the window broke after I was trying to get into an empty house after school.  I had to run to the neighbours to find someone to take me to hospital.

The arm pulled out of shoulder socket after being pulled around by my Mum.

The smash up of my 1979 accident in which I nearly lost my life, punctured my lung, broke and splintered my femur and ulnar bones, lost three teeth and tore my tongue in half.

Six terminations of pregnancy where my womb was sucked out, which may not seem sever but leaves its pulling, tearing echo imprints deep inside.

Various injuries including a cut foot and face smashed into with a metal frame door while in the later years of my addiction.

The final smash up in 2005 when I was on the run trying to address my tortured past.

These are the things that came out of my unmothering, these are the things that came out of my emotional neglect, these are the tortured body/shocks that I have been working to contain and come to terms with as a result of suffering with Complex Post Traumatic Stress for over 20 years.

Its been a lot to grieve.  It has been so much to understand and heal, it has been so much to contain, but I have and now I need to heal the connections and find the restful place of peace which comes at the end of a long journey to understand it all.  It seems to me that healing compassion can only come for me out of the deeper understanding of how our suffering human wounded body struggles to cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in a world that so often does not teach us how to care for and be deeply conscious of our soul in body.

Yesterday shopping with my Mum I felt quiet tired and was so conscious of all I have been asked to carry, however I was also aware of a healing trying to come about, a reconnection between two lost kids who are finally finding in each other a friend.  And my mother is the body my body came out of, her body reflects mine, and my struggle to connect with hers and find mirroring and nurturing there has been so difficult.  Healing for me is only felt in the deeper and acceptance of how much I longed for mirroring and recognition in her body and how much I suffered at times in not finding it, but how that mirroring and recognition was waiting there for me all along in the depths of my own body soul that I had to drag to therapy over so many years in search for the right place where I finally did find a good mirror.

Within that mirror and deep within the mirror of my soul, I have been able to look along the corridor of mirrors of our multigenerational line.  Along this hall of mirrors I have finally found reverberating and reflected across years the struggling lost child with so much grief looking everywhere for a place to lay his or her burden down or have it recognised.  Now I see that burden not as a burden any longer just suffering but also as a tiny new baby that is crying and asking of me mothering at the end of a long road that finally is leading me home.  Along this road I am beginning to find a deeper connection with my ancestors as I work to bring conscious awareness to things as yet unhealed that affected us all so deeply in different ways.  And in this consciousness lies my deepest spiritual work, that and giving it some kind of voice so that it no longer lies unrecognised in the depths of the collective unconscious and to that my mother and her body seems lately to provide my strongest link for body carries soul and life grows out of it as consciously or unconsciously as we allow.

Soft : A Hymn to Body

forest

Soft like a blanket

Insider knowing

You rain realisation down

You, the body/soul that long ago

Became too painful for me to enter

You, body/soul are calling me home

Showing me where sadness is created

Birthed from emptiness of the disconnected kind

When we are not truly touched and embraced

And of how wholeness is felt

When my awareness is returned to you

Feeling I had no place to rest before

Left me with no true home in you body

Endless distancing

A painful repeat of all the times I was sent so far away

I lost contact with you body due to grief and loss

Buried so deep inside

But now I know

Pain asks of me this softening

Soul you demand

That I become pliable as a reed

Capable of moving with the wind

That wants bend me

To a new purpose

Wants to form me

Into a body of substance

Body you are the home I always longed for

You give me the answer to secrets

I could not know in any other way

And when I embrace you

There is love I find beating here

Deep inside my chest

Soft body

No longer brittle, angry, defensive

Imprisoning me within hardness and misunderstanding

Hurting defended against with armour

Soft body you show me there can be a end

To running

To restlessness

To go, go, go

A homecoming found

In mindfulness, attention and soothing

Shining its light

On fearful, tense, contracted, suspicious places

Body how you long

To be covered by a soft blanket

Given shelter from tormenting thoughts

Of not good enough

Done wrong

Illusions all

Body teach me

I am open

You are my temple

Show me how to come home to a space

That in containing it

Has the capacity to transform suffering

And bring me peace

Bittersweet paradoxes and mysteries

When I spend time with my Mum I see her inner child so close to the surface in these later years of her life.  I recognise what I carry of hers and perhaps sensed as a sensitive child growing up…all the things unsaid by her.

After going to the nursery and pottering around to find plants we decided to go to our little café in the place close to where Mum grew up and wandered the streets as a youngster.  We were talking about the tragic stabbing of a garage attendant, fifteen minutes before the end of his shift he was set upon by two angry teenagers armed with a knife.  “I just don’t understand it”, my Mum said.  “He was an Indian boy working hard to survive, I wonder where his parents are?”   We talked of how hard Mum and Dad worked, how little time they had to share with friends just goofing off.   Sadly the hard work never ended and Dad died before he got to enjoy the fruits of it.  There will always be a sadness there for what we never got to share, dying when he did in my life before I could truly know him as an adult.

It was a long and slow work (walk!) to the café.  Mum will never travel again.  She is in constant pain from a fractured pelvis which occurred when she fell down stairs trying to take a suitcase down them to take to my sister on one of her last hospitalisations for depression a few years ago.  I cried walking to the café as I realised we are coming to the end of a tine where we can ever go away again.  I didn’t see it coming.

Later I helped her in the lift with the two cyclamens, one for her friend, one for herself.  I left her to go home to my house and my own life, a separation of sorts.  What will happen when she gets even older I don’t know but I really want to be there for her.  I felt scared though on the way to the café.  My body was hurting and my left breast where I had the cancer has been sore.  Its probably nothing but I have thoughts of dying, don’t get me wrong in some ways I have never felt more peace and happiness and contentment (I am not feeling suicidal, I have never wanted to live more), it is just that our family has known so much trauma and stress and I feel such a desire to live and give and love lately.  As I read this back it occurs to me that as a resonate being when I am with her at times I think my own body picks up her pain and some of our maternal inherited ancestral pain, all that pain is gone from my body now.

I spoke to my sister too today.  Turns out she isn’t as freaked out about going to Melbourne as Mum had said.  I had to call my therapist to try and work out that one and an avalanche of tears fell after our phone call as I realised how pulled around I feel when others speak about a difficult time someone else is going through.  In a way I would rather not know about it but on another level I was relieved.  Anyway the tears were some kind of deep release and compassion for the little child and young girl who struggled so much in stormy seas that swelled in her later adolescence and for the young woman who in sobriety has worked as hard as she could to find self knowledge.

Lately I am seeing ways that I can be self centred when my inner child of the past has her abandonment issues triggered.  She gets upset when no one calls or reaches out and forgets they are going through stuff, and the distance isn’t personal.   I need to be with her at these times and give her love and help her to realise it isn’t personal.  It can be hard to keep giving love when you feel you wish it would come back but just sometimes after a day in which I HAVE been able to give my heart swells with such a powerful ocean of love it nearly blows my body apart.  I am made aware at these times of how love is the bedrock that really underlies everything and it makes its presence felt at times when we least expect the tide to come in.   Life is full of bittersweet paradoxes and mysteries sometimes and they are difficult to express at times, but feeling them makes all the pain we have gone through on the journey of suffering and working towards understanding worthwhile, even if only for moments.

Gratitude

Ocean

Gratitude

You are a vast expanse opening within me

Where in everything is allowed and flows

A space in which I see so clearly

Where invisible barricades and illusions lived before

Gratitude

You show me that everything happened for a reason

My heart broke apart and ached for a season

A vast dark seemingly endless winter of time

But in time light returned to the places darkness lived

Sucking up all energy in the past

Love you were there under the wreckage

Only asking me to be present to everything

Asking me to open my heart wide enough to see

All the ways in which love was offered

In a way I didn’t understand

The love was always there

But for me it was behind barricades

Once I began to love my pain

I found love in those barren places

A love soft and tender

That healed the aching spots

Within

Gratitude you show me now

Everything happened for a reason

A passing season that in time

Led to spring

The heart that welcomes you

Heart

The heart that welcomes you here

Should have been your mother’s heart

A heart open to love

Without a locked door

With all feeling sealed shut inside it

With a door bared by rage

That now becomes massive compulsive cleaning

Never giving you a place to rest

Driven out of your body and your mind

Your innocent body begins to hurt

And so you seek succour in substances

Substances become the warm heart of the mother

Absent for years that welcomes you home

But over years that heart grows cold

And you find no rest

Within this icy kingdom

That draws you in with false promises

It will be a journey over a wasteland of ice

That finally leads you to the place

Where you can light an inner fire

To thaw the traumas

And terrible heartbreaks

That froze your soul

Don’t go towards the coldness now, love

Stay here by the simple fire

You are lighting within

Tend your own flame and hearth

Until it becomes a raging bonfire

Of love

And you can find a heart

Within your heart

That welcomes you home