I love how google search images links you to articles which express something strongly associated to what you were writing about and seeking an image to portray. I just came across the following article from the Huffington Post. It seems in modern times we are determined to exile aspects of the soul such as spiritual and romantic longing to the psychological bin of so called ‘neurosis’. I love this article as it speaks to the desire of the soul to long for an object of love and connection to the sacred or numinous, surely its not all just about projection but something far deeper and more important to our soul.
All the beautiful responses to my recent post/poem Trust in Silence have really got me thinking today of how important silence is to being able to be with and connected to depths of our soul. When we are struggling or suffering often we can be abused by being told we need to ‘get out of our own heads’, “get off our pity pot!’, (yes readers I have heard this one many times in 12 step meetings) or that we are ‘isolating’ and at times there can be some truth to that, sometimes when we need the loving touch or support of others or look for the gifts or message in a painful experience, but in world that find it hard to stomach or fathom certain truths, is it any wonder we learn to turn more and more towards the silence if we can, deep in that silence, find an inner source of soothing, calm and healing?
I know for myself the healing to be found in the warm of the sun, in sitting in a shady spot with doors open, Jasper at my feet just feeling the sense of connection with the moment that is awesome, magical, healing and mysterious and beyond words to fully describe (though I make stumbling attempts in poems). Then there are the times when the silence is more like a deep dark indigo ocean that almost squashes me, I feel myself subsumed or I feel the cresting of a wave of anger or grief or sorrow that wants to rise up and sweep through me, possibly even sweep away some debris from inside, memories or feelings I buried long ago, and if I just allow myself to surrender than I can expand rather than contract in response to that and feel the beauty of having touched base with my soul.
And lets face it, for many of us who have endured depths of loss and trauma others do not, have not and could never know the depths of we are not going to find that recognition or acceptance and allowing of our process from most people and my personal feeling is that therapists also don’t always know the territory themselves. I was told by astrologer Melanie Reinhardt 13 years ago after my last major accident which was a repeat of my near death one at age 17 that most therapists would not be able to fully understand the deeper spiritual dimensions of the wound of nearly losing my life as well as all the deeply Plutonian experiences that followed over the next 30 or so years for me. She directed me towards the work of Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron and said a soulful meditative practice would be the best therapy for me. Sadly I got into another relationship two years later with someone who saw my need for solitude as pathological. According to him I had agrophobia!!!! Anyway don’t really want to go back into the relationship today, it was a learning curve for me and I got some good things out of it and deeper understanding due to all the pain we both acted out on each other.
Lately I am learning to accept and validate more my need for soulful solitude. It is where I create from. It is where my deepest healing happens. I don’t feel that level of connection in may relationships in the world, in some I do. I feel it here because I feel here other trauma survivors and people in recovery are on the same page. Just connecting with you brings me SO MUCH HEALING. I was blown away yesterday by the love shown to me on a really tough day, coming out of a painful and challenging week.
I wanted actually to post another Thank You blog too as I was so grateful yesterday and today to open my page and see all the comments and love on here. As well as responses to other comments of mine where I am trying to support others going through trauma and meeting misunderstanding and woefully inadequate response to their Complex Trauma. I really see my life purpose to be as a Wounded Healer and it is what Melanie Reinhardt teaches about in her work on Chiron. Its really only us who have navigated the depths of trauma that fully understand and since all traumas are also different in some ways we wont understand everything as we all have our own unique journeys, but in time I want to set up some kind of site to offer help. If my journey and suffering and losses and gains can be used to help others that is what really makes me happy, it gives me a peace and feeling of wholeness that really lays so far beyond words.
But as I read this back I am mindful too that the healing for all of us lies both in connections with others, but more paramountly through the healing that comes from connection to our deepest soul. I feel collectively we are trying too, to heal a deep split from nature and instinct and the divine feminine. It is hard to articulate this in a post but there is a source of power that to me is Goddess like, I don’t find the concept of a male God as personally healing in my own journey unless I think of the Frank Lloyd Wright quote in which he says he believes in God but his God is nature. We are part of this mystery and so is our deepest soul and many of us are on a journey now to connect more to that source both within and without in order to find peace and love after years of separation, fear or trauma. And to recognise more deeply our essential kinship with all living beings as well as the deep silence.
Being held hostage by an inner persectuor-protector figure in our inner world is common for those of us who were highly sensitive and suffered significant childhood trauma or insecure, anxious or broken attachments. It is an issue dealt with comprehensively by Elaine Aron in her book The Undervalued Self. In chapter six of the book she outlines what this inner complex is and why it exists drawing on the work of psychological analyst Donald Kalsched. (See my previous post :
The Persecutor-Protector needs to be understood and worked with by those of us who want to stop isolating in fantasy totally (not that we won’t still want to introvert which is important for the creative amongst us and for touching base with our inner world and life) and convincing ourselves we are not skilled or gifted enough to have a valuable contribution to make to the world.
I will open this post with a quote taken from Elaine’s book.
A protector-persecutor that arises from insecure attachment is often the harshest. In these cases the protector may replace the missing maternal or paternal presence with an addiction, whether to smoking, alcohol, work, or something else. Or it may create a vision of perfect love the child never received. It encourages the unbearable craving and yearning while undermining or belittling things in the world that may actually satisfy some of the craving. It says they are not enough, or not real, just lies or illusions, or will not work out in the long run.
Since attachment trauma often involves an unbearable separation, such as divorce or the death of a parent, the protector-persecutor very often rules out love because it brings the risk of loss, which, it supposes, you cannot bear, as you could not when it happened before. Until you work out your own answer to these scenarios, it’s impossible to convince the persecutor-protector that you can live with the pain of separations and loss, that you can tolerate in future what you could not in the past…..
(however) the good news is that as you struggle to accept the fact that all relationships eventually end, you may become far more prepared for loss than those who are secure because they had good childhoods.
When the persecutor-protector keeps you from being intimate with someone you love, do not give up. Freeing yourself to love is perhaps one of the greatest challenges a person with a troubled past can face, and even a partial victory must be acknowledged for the triumph that it is. Further, the undervalued self simply cannot be healed without finding some freedom to love. It is linking and love that take you out of ranking and undervaluing.
The protector-persecutor either as a unit or in one of its two forms, tries to break down every link you make, both outer links with friends and inner links that would end the dissociation it wishes to maintain. However, you can see why your attempts to dialogue with the innocent (inner child) might lead to mysterious resistance.
Emotions, memories, current thoughts and behaviours, and bodily states related to a trauma can all be dissociated. Memories may be repressed, literally unlinked from consciousness. Or your emotions may not be linked to current memories or events. You may feel numb, lacking all emotion, or all too conscious of emotions that seem to arise for no reason. Your body may be unlinked from memories, so you remember the events of the trauma but have no idea what happened to your body during it. Your body will still be dissociated from your thoughts, with the result that you are hardly aware of its needs. Or the body does not link with your actions, and you feel unreal or detached as you go through the day….you do things that make no sense or are self destructive but your behaviour is not linked to its real causes. You may have stress related illnesses because memories, feelings, or thoughts are pushed down in the mind then arise in the body. Or you may have recurring nightmares that seem unrelated to anything going on in your life.
As for outer links the persecutor-protector makes every linking situation seem to be about ranking, usually with you as the inferior, although it can also make you feel superior – “he’s not good enough for me” – if that will keep you out of a real, close, lasting relationship. The persecutor-protector might allow you to link in a limited way with someone who likes you by creating a false self that adapts to the world, but you know you are not really connected or authentic.
Using examples from her real practice Aron shows how clients dreams often contain persecutor figures and details the means it uses to break links, just as the witch in the fairytale of Rapunzel tries to disconnect the prince from ever reaching Rapunzel in her tower by cutting off her long hair. This occurs due the prevalence of earlier losses that were never fully integrated into conscious awareness and the fear of not being able to survive the feelings should it ever happen again.
We can work to become more aware of how the complex operates in our own lives. Some of these are listed below and appear in Aron’s book and they correspond to some of the tactics avoidants or insecure people use to maintain distance or sabotage relationships with others:
- When we are supercritical of the other, especially after times of connection.
- When we over idealise to the degree that minor failures are blown out of proportion.
- When we mistrust or don’t bother to get a reality check or talk things over
- When you feel crushed if someone doesn’t want to be with you all the time.
- When you look down on others for wanting to be with you more than you want to be with them.
- When you decide “it’s all over” as soon as there is the slightest conflict.
- When you are obsessed with concerns one of you is needy, dependent, or weak.
- When you cannot stop thinking about the other leaving or betraying you or dying.
- When you cannot see any flaw at all in the others, as if he or she is a god.
In addition Aron outlines some of the unconscious rules the persecutor-protector can use to keep us safe.
- No intimacy. Never open up about personal issues, ignore or belittle the disclosures of others, be flippant or rude, leave if someone wants to be closer
- No arguing. Always be nice, end relationships as soon as there is a whiff of conflict or if the other is angry, walk out on arguments (rather than asking for time out)
- No growth. Turn down opportunities or invitations to do anything new, do not aspire, act stupid so no one will think of you when an opportunity arises.
- No dating or marriage. Postpone, be unattractive, stick to crushes or fantasies, say with someone who isn’t good for you, have affairs with unavailable people, be forever young or flirty when it’s not necessary.
- No strong feelings. Stay in control at all times, don’t cry, get angry, be terminally cool.
- No sex or enjoyment of it. Avoid, be mechanical, split off, get numb with substances before hand, remove all emotion from sex.
- No believing someone who say he or she cares about you. Bat off compliments and expressions of caring and affection. Don’t believe they are genuine.
- No asking for help. Be ruthlessly self sufficient, be suspicious, never complain, withdraw.
- No honesty. Just say what you think others want to hear. Be careful with what you express especially when asked to be yourself.
- No hope. Don`t expect help, joy or good things. Do not place faith in anyone.
- No standing up for yourself. Just let others say or do whatever they want, don’t cause trouble, don’t expect justice, respect or fairness.
- No trusting. Don’t be fooled; they don’t really care about you (a favourite thing the protector will say to you inwardly.)
As you can see its a pretty harsh joyless confined existence living with a strong persecutor protector complex inside of us, but we can work to understand these rules and challenge the p-p on them when it tries to use them to keep ourselves and others in line.
Your goal is to convince the p-p that breaking its rules and taking risks is working out for you and that you want more freedom…
Listen to its disagreements because ignoring it wont work according to Aron… the p-p needs to be heard but challenged to give up the limiting rules and restrictions it uses to keep you trapped.
The following is an excerpt from Linda Schirese Leonards book Witness to the Fire : Creativity and the Veil of Addiction.
The necessity of facing death and going into a dark night of the soul is, according to Jung, essential to human development. This dark night may be forced upon one (in the case of addiction or neglect) or it may be freely chosen, as in the case of the creator. But, in any case, it is the way of the transformation process. And as is the paradoxical nature of human kind…
When libido leaves the bright upper world, whether from choice, or from inertia, or from fate, it sinks back down into its own depths, into the source from which it originally flowed, and returns to the point of cleavage, the navel where it first entered the body. The point of cleavage is called the mother, because from her the current of life reached us. Whenever some great work is to be accomplished, before which a man recoils, doubtful of his strength, his libido streams back to the fountainhead – and this is the dangerous moment when the issue hangs between annihilation and new life. For if the libido gets stuck in the wonderland of this inner world, then for the upper world man is nothing but a shadow, he is already moribund or at least seriously ill. But if the libido manages to tear itself loose and force its way up again, something like a miracle happens : the journey to the underworld was a plunge into the fountain of youth, and the libido, apparently dead, wakes to renewed fruitfulness.
This describes the challenge for the addict (or depressive) who has fallen into The Abyss – to turn that addictive underworld journey into the fruitful return to life and creativity.
The poet takes the turn of transformation in The Abyss by giving expression to what he finds there. In this respect, poetry, is a call to all of us to embark upon the nightsea journey. It calls us forth, if we respond, into the dark unknown by jolting us from the ordinary with its unusual and powerful images. Yet it is also an attempt, while in the depths, to articulate the numinous unknown – a primordial beginning to name that which emerges towards us from the depths. Poetry invites us to accept momentarily the death of our ordinary ego world so that we may enter into a strange, often terrifying new vision, and from this extraordinary experience to return renewed .. to a more differentiated level of human existence – one that can accept and dwell more consciously in mystery… revolting against the one-sidedness that has far too long rationalised existence.. (the artist must) confront those opposite unconscious chaotic forces that have too long been repressed.
Only if we confront the chaotic irrational power at the very depths of our being will we be able to transform them into something more meaningful. ..
The readiness for the creative journey requires giving up possessiveness and expectation, dying to old ways of perceiving, daring to leap into the unknown, and being ready to open and receive what comes, be it something or nothing.
Perhaps everything terrible is its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.
Rilke, Letter to a Young Poet
Psychologically, then, the “Dark Night of the Soul” is due to the double fact of the exhaustion of an old state, and the growth towards a new state of consciousness. It is a “growing pain” in the organic process of the self’s attainment of the Absolute. The great mystics, creative geniuses in the realm of character,have known instinctively how to turn these psychic disturbances to spiritual profit.
In the act of creation, we wrestle with the elements. To bring the new creation into being requires our standing in the struggle between that which shelters and conceals and self disclosing openness. The artist is a gentle warrior who must stand between these opposing elements to allow and bring forth the new.
In the silence
I hear you call my name
From so far away
So how can it be
That you are still here with me
In the lacunae spaces that open
After long wind swept walks
Lead me home to silence
Queen of my domain
There is here
Only music, breath of wind and these voices
Carried on the breeze
And my heart beating still
After so much tragedy
Lingering with a haunting refrain
Reminding me of
So many mistaken choices that seemed so right
When I was held ransom by pain
But now I see
All the lost opportunities
(When one door closes?)
But if youth is wasted on the young
Then maybe I can dare to reach again
Using all the wisdom
Opening my lungs
Breathing a new breath
Aware of second chances
Left within the wide open spaces
Of so many goodbyes
Of so much unlived life
That seemed to pass me by
Now revealed to be a lie
For isn’t it true
I am still alive?
Alone in the alone Tears fall As I feel at times the helplessness That comes in As the inner tide rises claiming my soul Dis-allowing my will Power over a body awash in so much unspoken feeling that then breaks open like a wave surprising me (have just endured over 2 hours of panic attacks this morning!)
Thoughts of how I failed to live my dreams Come haunting me And I lay to wreckage the idea that I have any purpose in my life. Alone in the alone All I can do is seek inner comfort Not to deny what is arising but welcome it in Open the door to my own heart
I think of later demands and upset with others not being there and wonder how much of that pain is about my past I know only this Love has to be freely given And we cannot bring a love to us that is absent Out there everyone is getting on with their own lives And that is their responsibility None amongst us is responsible for another’s happiness But if we love someone we want that for them : happiness And when we have time we naturally want to share it
Today a wave of regret over my past came and claimed me again It hit me full force The inner critic was back Saying I lacked courage when I know it was not the full truth I did feel fear launching out on an attempt to live in another country at a time I was still in deep grief for the loss of a love I just need to remember to go easy and not give myself a hard time. Just when I think that pattern is done It comes back and rears its head in my life I can do nothing about the past I must live in this day Regret will only steal my energy from present time. I can welcome regret in I don’t need to push it away but I also don’t need it to take up residence here permanantly and allow it to adversely affect my day The cost of doing that is too large
I enjoyed the end part of Richard Grannons’ video yesterday where he talked of his need to stay in reality and watch his impulse to act as well as the thoughts that might be driving such reactions within him. Psychological awareness and maturity probably means we react less out of our past and are more aware of triggers and motivations It takes some work Today I can recognise I struggle as I tend to do a lot on Saturdays Then I can put some good things in place to help myself be calmer And part of this is just looking around the room and acknowledging simple things of beauty here, the way the sunlight falls on the carpet, the tumult of heavy winds blowing about branches outside, the simple quiet comfort of relaxing and being free from punishing thoughts and feelings once the panic attacks have subsided I know the attacks dont last They are wave like in their quality Its just such a relief once they have passed