To value life

Hearing that a loved one is perhaps dying is a very big shock. I guess my first real brush with death happened when my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1984. I only so young then, I was only 22 but a very young 22, I had just spent a year in my first job at the Research School of Biological Sciences and had moved out of home for the second time to share with some friends who were in the military at the Duntroon college here in Canberra. I was running a bit wild on the weekends but also holding down a second job waitressing to save for my overseas trip with my then partner Jim.

Dad’s diagnosis was a big shock to us and I have shared how it was the one time we connected where Dad expressed his emotions and I really felt his vulnerability. Up till then we had had a lot of healthy disagreement because I didn’t like my Dad was a property developer who was bulldozing old buildings to put up huge modern office blocks with my brother. I was also unconsciously angry he would not support my academic studies and forced me to go to business college.

Dad’s illness was in some ways mercifully short. He was operated on December and came out briefly from hospital on 24 December only to be returned in the early hours of Christmas morning. He died while they performed an emergency tracheoctomy on him to help him breathe in the early hours of Thursday 8 January. I got the call at work to come home.

I never got to say goodbye. I had not been well enough to go to the hospital, I was to be leaving for India in January to meet my partner who left in December and had had shots the day before Dad died. As it was my partner broke it off with me in the middle of the night shortly after Dad died, he told me not to come overseas but Mum forced me to go on with the trip which was horrendous. My brother handled the funeral and I never got to see Dad’s body. I do not remember the funeral at all, only some of the wake and not even a lot of that. Within a month I was alone overseas in the UK and very lost.

Lately I have achieved some kind of peace with Dad’s death. I have a post banked up on what grieving people need and how each death is personal and different according to the relationship we had with the person, Dad was always emotionally remote to me, as is my brother so I have struggled so much in my relationships with men, most of my partners could never validate me emotionally and my last partner caused me untold damage by not even trying to understand my complicated grief issues. That said I would often lash out due to anger I had with my father at not really ‘getting’ me and showing me empathy. I am sure I had to go through all of this pain in life to learn what a loving relationship with a healthy emotionally validating partner is, and harder to believe I do deserve to be treated with more empathy and respect.

Now that my friend, Christine seems to be possibly suffering from cancer the synchronicity of timing is not lost on me. I found my Mum also lost close friends in the final years of her life very close to the anniversary of Dad’s illness, diagnosis and death. In the case of my father it dogged every Christmas celebration and one year my older sister and I found ourselves at logger heads, it was the year Jonathan left me.

Christine’s illness is a reminder to me, too of my own brushes with death. Four of us have been diagnosed with cancer in my family, my father, my brother, my second oldest sister and I. I have not been brave enough to go for my own breast cancer check up yet, it is something I know I must deal with.

I wanted to write this post though to work through how intrinsically death and life can seem to be inter-related. Really bad grief or sadness or loss can steal our life energy for a long time and can be made more complex by earlier, perhaps unresolved griefs. What is clearer to me after all the research and reading I have done on grief as well as my experience of seeing how the failure to deal with, or rather struggle to do so manifested in my family is that we do need support and validation in our grief, in order to move through it an embrace life energy again. That said if the bond to someone is powerful, for example in the case of Johnny Cash and June Carter that I shared about in recent posts the death of one may bring about the death of the other.

Its is our heart energy that is most impacted through loss, death or leavings. I know my own heart and panic symptoms began when Jonathan told me he was leaving me. The month he spent with me before packing up to go ‘home’ to the UK in July 2004 was one of the most painful periods of my life and the following 7 years spent in the wilderness of abandonment involved a brush with death due to a head injury on the first anniversary and a bad fall on the second, but maybe on all those years we were together I was on the run from my own grief and trying my damndest to live. I think of how I struggled with the grief in my body and how little affirmation or recognition I so often got. I think of how grief still gives me ‘spins’ at critical times of the day and especially around the 5 pm critical timeslot which was when I went head over heels over my bicycle following a cranio sacral session to deal with earlier trauma. Maybe I would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie, who knows if I bought the accident on myself as my sister tried to tell me many years ago. It was just so hard to trust a family so often shut down who told me I should not be where I was nor doing it as tough as I was. That said I know its not their fault either. I truly do believe everyone does the very best they can with what they know at the time. Its just sometimes their ‘best’ falls woefully short.

My inner critic gave me a hard time again today for going over and over my trauma again in this blog earlier. It told me I need to be ‘moving on’ and that its boring for my followers. I will let you be the judge of how accurate my critic is, while acknowledging that at times my fear and sensitivity may have kept me more stuck than I needed to be.

That said I am alive and I want to live, I really really do. Life is full of such a profound mix of ‘blessings’ and ‘curses’ and in the end its up to us how we handle them and the attitude we take to them as well as the choices we make in the face of it all that makes our life what it is, and so often we are not always consciously choosing. Today I choose as much as I can to embrace life, despite my knowledge of how vulnerable it can be at times to live and face death. But I want this awareness of death to always help me keep my heart open to love and to the opportunities to connect and be fully alive that life constantly presents me with.

Being kind and patient with ourselves

Sadly in our society so few of us learn to be kind and soft towards ourselves.  We may equate this with an attitude that won’t help us to get far or achieve our goals but if we suffer from a remorseless inner critic that won’t let up (most common to suffers of PTSD and Complex PTSD or childhood trauma), its going to be harder to reach any goals anyway.

Sadly some of us were not encouraged in our childhood, we may have been shamed or blamed.  We may have learned to pretend or to put on masks, we may never have been rewarded for authenticity.  In my own childhood I was stomped on many times, or just left alone and ignored and in adulthood I have learned holding onto resentment about it isn’t going to help and if I don’t change that same internalised attitude of being too critical of myself or others I am not going to get far, in fact my perfectionism will make me too weak to even start.

So it was with a smile I read the following reading from Tian Dayton last night about patience.  Patience may be a disregarded or maligned quality in modern society but if it’s well done patience can get us much further and bring our closer to our dreams.  The following reading is about self love too and today I am sharing it as the Sun starts to move through critical Virgo and we are drawn toward noticing the earthly practical dimensions of our experience and how far we have come or not come, let’s be kind to ourselves.

Patience

Today I will be patient with myself.  When I do not do as well as I wish I would I will not make that a reason to get down on myself.  I will instead recognise that the fastest way to bring myself out of a painful funk is through understanding and being good to myself.  I get caught in my own cycle of shame, resentment and blame.  If a child is upset,  I comfort it because I understand that that is what will make things better.  Calling a child names will increase its hurt and shame.  I will not call myself names either.  Rather, I will show love and patience in every way I can.

I am patient with myself.  

Patience accomplishes its object, while hurry speeds to its ruin.

Sa’di

Mark Epstein on ego and primitive feelings (The Trauma of Everyday Life)

The problem with the ego, according to Mr. Epstein, is that it wants so badly to know.

“The ego comes into being when we’re two or three or four years old,” he said, “just feeling our own separateness and how difficult it is to navigate the external pressures from parents and teachers, and the internal pressures of one’s biology, one’s drives and so on. The ego wants security and stability and coherence. It’s rooted in the intellect, so it tells stories. It fastens on to the first stories that start to make sense, both positive and negative.”

We then incessantly repeat these stories to ourselves “under our breath,” as Mr. Epstein writes in (his)

new book. The classic stubborn story dealt with in therapy, he said, can be summarized in four words:

“The problem is me.”

And the low self-esteem reinforced by such stories “is as much ego as the puffed-up, ‘I’m the best,’ competitive, American way we ordinarily think of the ego.”

(Mark Epstien is a American based psychiatrist, therapist and author in practice in New York who draws on Buddhist philosophy his three books which I highly recommend are Open To Desire, The Trauma of Everyday Life and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart as well as many others).

Why anxiety and logic don’t mix : relationships and insecure attachment

Reading the book I recommended yesterday Anxious in Love is putting into perspective for me why things can hurt and go so wrong for us who suffer PTSD, Complex PTSD or anxious and insecure attachment in relationships.  As the authors point out in Part 2 :  Connecting With the One You Love different parts of the brain are operating for us and our partners who don’t see what all the fuss is about when we respond with anxiety to certain events or triggers.  I am being taken back with every word to my last relationship where I would get an hour long lecture on how wrong I had things to be responding in the way I did with little empathy shown.

In anxiety our forebrain (or rational brain) is emotionally hijacked by the lower brains (hind brain and mid brain) where centres such as the amygdala lie.  Being responded to with logic as most of us know is tantamount to having a red flag waved in front of the face of a raging bull!!!!  But we also need to understand our partner may be coping with the situation in the best way they know how while lacking a more complete understanding of how rationality has flown out the proverbial window.

In this situation what is called for is developing the ability to intentionally respond rather then becoming reactive.  The solution is for each partner to understand and have an attitude of curiosity about what is happening for the other.  It’s something an old therapist of mine would bring up a lot about by ex saying “its just sad he cannot have an attitude of curiosity about what is occurring for you”.  To be told you are bad or wrong for responding as you do is just terrible and I think its a key to so called Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer’s struggle.  Perceived abandonment when triggered can send us into a cascade or spiral that takes is into the darkest place for days and if we are left alone in it too long for some the feelings (what therapist Pete Walker calls the abandonment melange) can lead to suicide, addiction and other self destructive mechanisms of coping.

What Carolyn Daitch and Lissah Lorberbaum, authors of Anxious in Love offer instead is a way of each partner entering the other’s reality for a time to validate it, both the non anxious partner and the one who suffers anxiety.   As sufferers of insecure attachment we can learn to understand our partner’s reactions and can learn to voice our needs in relationship in a less angry, attacking or accusative way.  Often non sufferers who operate from the higher brain just do not understand the severity or intensity of our responses to triggers.

Lack of emotional flexibility is one of the hardest legacies of anxiety reactions in relationship, it shuts down emotional attunement between partners and makes an open dialogue impossible.  Being able to set a time out when we know we are being triggered and our brain is going into hijack mode is useful, and hopefully our partner will accept it if we let them know what is going on with us.  The alternative is they respond with emotional distance/withdrawal themselves, judgement and anger (being triggered themselves), misunderstanding or protest which can be very difficult.  The more we can talk through these reactions and responses in our relationships the better change we have of resolving conflict and growing empathy and attunement.    The more we can step into their shoes and understand what is happening the more we can make an “appeal to reason” while explaining what underlies our reaction.

Some partners may be even triggered by us saying what has triggered us, though. They may respond by telling us “that’s all in the past” but in that case they need to work to understand how emotional hijacking works and show empathy in any case.  A person who is not willing to do this for those of us with insecure or anxious attachment may not, in the long run, be the best partner for us.

More detailed techniques for reconnecting are given in the book in later chapters of Part Two but today I thought I would just share what I have learned from the book so far for those not in the position to purchase a copy at this point in time.  The book is building on my knowledge of many years of trying to deal with anxious attachment and its destructive effect on some of my relationships.

Because the experience of attunement with a significant other is powerful, ruptures in attuned connection bring about a sense of absence, loss, and even distress.  Yet those ruptures in attunement are inevitable in all relationships, no matter how solid.  There are times when you just fall out of sync with one another.  It’s important, therefore, that you both have the ability to repair ruptures when they occur.   Just as quickly as you fall out of sync, with some flexibility you can repair the disconnect and engage one another in attunement again.

Anxious In Love, p. 98

Frightening lessons in love : Jeanette Winterson

Unconditional love is what a child should expect from a parent even though it rarely works out that way.  I didn`t have that, and I was a very nervous watchful child.  I was a little thug too because nobody was going to beat me up or see me cry.  I couldn’t relax at home, couldn`t disappear into a humming space where I could be alone in the presence of the other.  With the Depressed Dead wandering around the kitchen, and mice masquerading as ectoplasm, and sudden fits of piano playing, and the sometime revolver, and relentless brooding mountain range of my mother, and the scary bedtimes – if Dad was on nights and she came to bed it meant all night with the light on reading about the End Time – and the Apocalypse itself was never far away, well, home wasn`t really a place where you could relax… Ask for reassurance and it would never come.  I never asked her if she loved me.  She loved me on those days when she was able to love.  I really believe that is the best she could do.

When love is unreliable and you are a child you assume that it is the nature of love – its quality – to be unreliable.  Children do not find fault with their parents until later.  In the beginning the love you get is the love that sets.

I did not know that love could have continuity.  I did not know that human love could be depended upon.  Mrs Winterson’s god was the God of the Old Testament and it may be that modelling yourself on a deity who demands absolute love from all of his children but thinks nothing of drowning them (Noah’s Ark), attempting to kill the ones who madden him (Moses), and letting Satan ruin the life of the most blameless of them all (Job), is bad love.

True, God reforms himself and improves thanks to his relationship with human beings, but Mrs Winterson was not an interactive type; she didn’t like human beings and she never did reform or improve (or repair????)  She was always striking me down, and then making a  cake to put things right, and very often after a lockout we`d walk down to the fish and chip shop the next night and sit outside on the bench eating from newspaper and watching people come and go.

For most of my life I have behaved in much the same way because that is what I learned about love.

Add to that my own wildness and intensity and love becomes pretty dangerous.  I never did drugs, I did love – the crazy, reckless kind, more damage than healing, more heartbreak than health.  And I fought and hit out and tried to put it right the next day.  And I went away without a word and didn’t care.

Love is vivid.  I never wanted the pale version.  Love is full strength. I never wanted the diluted version.  I never shied away from love`s hugeness but I had no idea that love could be as reliable as the sun.  The daily rising of love…

It was never too late to learn love.

But it is frightening.

Jeanette Winterson  

Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal

Tender with you

Horse Embrace

I will be tender with you

Even though your crusty outside

Belies the truth inside

Even though you look on me with a gaze

That seems to say

You are such a strange and alien creature

I will see deeper

Far beyond the defences you erect

To the frosty space inside

That contains a child in an icecube

All frozen

You were never shown tenderness

You don’t have the strength I have

To collapse into and feel a soul that aches

You take your numbing medicine

To hide from deeper truths

Why should I scorn you

Or show anger

When really that will just cause me further pain

Instead I will be tender with you

Knowing that

Even though you scorn my tenderness

Your reaction was never about me

I will not let the arrow of attack lodge

Too deep

Inside my own skin

I deserve better

And so did you

You just didn’t get it

And that is sad

Whether or not you recognise it

So I will be tender with you

Because my own wounds have taught me

To be tender with my self

Can you see me?

I wrote this quite a few weeks ago and it concerns how I was treated in my last relationship.  Often my grittier, real posts don’t see the light of day.  I feel guilt for stating a harsh truth, setting a boundary or being legitimately angry over harsh treatment.  My mother taught me she could not survive my anger and so boundaries were hard.  I am posting this today to get it ‘out’.

Can you see me?  Doesn’t really matter now As I see myself You will never live inside my skin and I will never live in yours But sometimes I will meet a fellow traveller on the road They will see my scars or show me theirs and we will In that one brief instant recognise each other There will be no need for fear or hiding There will only be an open embrace Not a defensive stare Or that heart breaking glare Of how dare you  Strange and dangerous creature!

It isn’t my fault that you cannot see me but still it can cut Especially when you misunderstand You label me agoraphobic not knowing I have known trauma And also that as an intuitive empath I absorb more and feel things more deeply being susceptible to energies that fall off your back

You say I am too sensitive not knowing the cuts or hole of misattention that kept my boundaries open or stopped them from forming at all  You can never know that due to never having been shown empathy for struggling in this way its a long process to learn who I really am and what I feel inside and to put up the barrier or stop your misguided perceptions from stealing in and wounding me takes pain suffering learning and time

For so long I hoped that you would see me But really what I now understand is that all along you only saw your projection And when I failed to affirm your limited view of things I was then a threat that had to be amputated or exiled Or an infection you had to take distance from telling me how sick I made you  But then maybe just maybe you were sensitive too and due to the fact I was in so much pain I could not understand

Now do you not see me?  That is okay!  There are those around who see me, know me, get me.  There are those too who actually think I am kind of special and great  They let me be goofy They don’t cast water on my ideas and they don’t try to reign me in due to their own fears of being out of or losing control All in all it really is okay If you don’t see me Just as long as I see myse

 

Finding connection through disconnection after trauma

Some people just get us.  Some people are an energy of love that you can just feel.   When you are with them your heart opens and you feel your energy lift.  They don’t subtly or so unsubtly invalidate you or put you down.  When you have not known this kind of pure love and open heartedness it can be so easy to distrust.  And we sensitive ones do need to be careful at times who we open up to as a lot of people may blame or shame us.  But still I do think there are also those out there who recognise our high sensitivity.

I often wonder how much less sensitive we may have been in a better or more self protective way if this side of us was seen, acknowledged or valued earlier on.  Traumatic things hit us hard and Peter Levine, the trauma expert makes the point that how we are treated immediately after trauma affects how well we recover.  In my own case I was on the other side of the world so far from family support when my second trauma hit and I escaped there as to be around their energy felt violent emotionally to me.  After the accident I struggled to find a safe space then freaked out and came back home.  It was a night mare.

I retreated alone and then got into a relationship with someone who brutalised me when I showed grief.  I justified how he treated me and kept going back because I did not know I needed more.  I was not kind to myself and had never learned really to value who I was and my capacity to feel.  I put down alcohol and smoking at 31 as I really wanted to live in a kinder way but that was just the beginning of understanding how the energies of others around me affected me and how I was responding.  As I look back over the past six years of being back near family I see I have struggled to maintain my own boundaries and self care with all the other traumas that followed especially the attempted suicide of my other sister.

Not one family member has chose to do any emotional work at all.  I try to point things out but it is often like trying to lead a horse to water.  And I am beginning to see that by myself I suffer in a family at times where feelings and sensitivities have to be so hidden and that is physically so repressed and non demonstrative.  I see how my living sister uses exercise herself to connect in the absence of the love and holding that is really needed.  These days I only see one or two friends who I can really connect with and often I think my body is suffering and crying out for holding care and love.  Maybe it is time for me to start to seek out some kind of touch therapy and holding, I have been considering Reiki.

I have often come to grief with holding therapies.  I had the accident after a session of cranio sacral.  The second time I tried it I freaked out with the therapist and she shamed and invalidated me so much I left, letting someone into your body when you have suffered traumas to it and violations of it is fraught with peril and such big feelings but at the moment I think it may help to release some of what my tissues have had to hold so deep inside over past years.

I am sharing about this today and the synchronicity with astrology is that today Mercury is in the body ruled sign of Virgo which relates to earth mother and is coming up to oppose natal Chiron in the seventh which is all my wounds in relationships from the past and maybe that is healing now as on WordPress I now seem to have made so many good connections with people who truly validate and understand.   It helps me to write about all of this and what others post really prompts and awakens my own healing.  In this way I make connections in all kinds of ways and that is the work of Mercury who travels and links us.  Today I as I was walking I was imagining the entire world as a web of interconnected energies.  Who we meet with and connect with on any day has such a powerful impact on us for good or ill and surely there people out there who we could really gel with but just never get to meet.  In any case here is where I get to share and pour out the way I feel and I am so grateful for that.

Conditioned to self reject?

Sadly lately I have been seeing where my own hurt and fear has taken me in the past.  I see where and when I started to isolate and to enter into a place of solitude haunted by ghosts of the past.  And then sadly rather than seek comfort with loving people I kept myself alone.  Part of the problem was as a highly sensitive person who was recently sober I found the world a very harsh, hard and cutting place.  I remember being at one Christmas celebration with family members who were judging and shaming a well known public figure who I knew was in recovery for addiction. The person had been gaining a lot of weight after letting his primary addiction go and that was making them a great target for ridicule.  I spoke my mind to the people in question then left the family dinner.  I went back a while later and then burst into floods of tears.

When we are sensitive or have known trauma it makes it much harder for us to be a part of certain things.  We carry a lot of inner knowing or inner pain inside.  Paradoxically we may have a lot to give to an often insensitive or uncaring world, but the mere nature of our sensitivity or trauma makes it hard to give this and even harder to be received.   And so we look for a place of retreat and protection.  What I am seeing lately is that inside my own consciousness a judging part of me has been shaming me for years for the fact I actually am trying to do positive and consciousness growing things.  Instead of supporting me this inner devaluing voice tries to tear thing to shreds.  When I read post of others who self harm in more overt ways I feel so sad, but I can also see myself.  My self harm doesn’t come from cutting though on some days I wage a battle with my own body not fully realising at that time I am being besieged with negative voices.

Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves?  To be loving and accepting of ourselves?  Is it true that we now live in a culture where self rejection and shame so often dominate? I started Brene Brown’s book on vulnerability Daring Greatly yesterday and she makes the point that narcissism comes from the now widespread notion that to be important or of value we have to ‘be a someone’.  Its not okay just to be an ordinary person with foibles, needs or insecurities.   We are meant to ‘get it together’ or ‘have it together’.  To prove something.  This makes sense to me of why people who suffer panic or anxiety are actually those who are more prone to be lacking in self acceptance, self soothing and self love, a point which is covered in the book Power over Panic.

If we love and accept ourselves as we are we don’t end up shaming ourselves.  We also don’t end up shaming others.  We accept that life is full of imperfection.  We may not like it but we accept it.  Coming from this premise when we see others shaming in order to feel one up we would probably let it roll off of our backs.  I think the incident I referred to above triggered me because at that point I was in addiction recovery for about 9 years and so I felt defensive of someone on the same path.  It was good for me to stand up against that shame and to make my voice known though but a part of me also knows that there will always be unconscious, insensitive people in this world who in lacking empathy are more than willing to try to put others down.

Once we are aware that our value in fact does not rest on outward acclaim or acceptance but instead on a solid bedrock of inner acceptance then we are less likely to feel anxious and panicky.  I have noticed lately that often my panic attacks come when an unconscious part of me is forcing me on to do something I feel that ‘I should” rather than what my soul really wants to do.  And so I am self divided.  Panic also comes when I give something far more importance or urgency than it really requires.  Self awareness of these kind of things takes time.  I am seeing for a lot of my life I was conditioned to self reject rather than self accept. I also rejected and failed to accept difficult things that were really none of my business or outside of my control.  The early death of my father and my sister’s illness gave me the illusion I had to be there when really what I needed most to do was take care of myself.

I am beginning to see it is very hard to live a happy life when we are conditioned to self reject the entire time.  In so doing we live outside of ourselves or leave our selves behind in some way all of the time and it gets harder and harder to just find peace in the present moment and in the pure simplicity of being.   Going outside of myself means I forget to breathe.  It means I retreat to my mind and thinking and away from my body.  It means I withdraw from life when I really want to reach out at times and actively engage.   Or it makes me reach out when I really would rather just stay home and read a poem or a good book.

Giving up patterns of self rejection does take awareness.  It may be so hard for us to see how, when and why we are self rejecting.  Learning to seek our value from within instead of without may be a pattern that for some of us is deeply ingrained.  We do need others support at times but this is also usually easier to come by if we are self accepting.  We are then less likely to attract those who reject who we really are or at least set boundaries with them.  We learn that we are worthy of good things and of love.  If that isn’t forthcoming from the world we let go and turn back within to find the love and goodness that we need to feel at peace.

Forgiveness : a high price?

I am reflecting a lot on forgiveness lately.  Part of us when hurt wants to exact a retribution of kinds or at least block love from flowing back to the source of the hurt because perhaps we feel this is the only way we can hold onto a boundary and escape the pain of more hurt.  And by all means consciousness demands we find out who is hurtful to us most often from their own unconscious pain and wounded.

I always loved the saying “hurt people, hurt people”.

I shared earlier in a blog that I was so angry when I learned of something intensely hurtful my brother did to his daughter yesterday.  I felt anger burning through me like wild fire.  Maybe it triggered my own wounds, I am not sure but I was so impressed by my niece’s reaction.  She clearly owned the damage and lack of love in both parent’s as well as the unresolved hurt.

Maybe it might help more of us if we saw this kind of unfeeling narcissistic abuse as the outgrowth of an evolutionary pathway in which older generations were not allowed to feel hurt or pain or were humiliated or emotionally abandoned by a parent stunting permanently their own empathy.

In his excellent book on narcissism therapist Alexander Lowen shares his insight into how much early humiliation in childhood can lead people to develop a narcissistic defence, blocking feelings of vulnerability and deep anger at violation which then being disallowed may often permanently disable the person turning them into a rationaliser or someone who avoids further emotional pain by becoming a people pleaser or adopting a false self, or alternatively shutting them down emotionally and leading them to project rejected vulnerability towards others, most often children who act it out then get shamed, exiled or scapegoated all over again.

The way out of this dilemma involves owning the anger, to re-engage the assertive impulse for self care and self protection and end the shaming that can be internalised.  Holding onto the anger helps keep the defence in place, turning too soon towards forgiveness may mean being open to more abuse.  But in the long run some letting go of intense anger may need to take place as anger that hardens into resentment can become corrosive and lead to physical and emotional problems.

The next step often lays in realising the damage in the person that caused the pain.  Seeing they were once a vulnerable child defenceless against a parent’s inner conflicts or aggression or splitting of and hardening of feeling.  In my brother’s case I see why he may have had to shut down his sensitivity early on.  I know some of the things my Dad did to him in the late 1940s that were punishing and over the top. Last year he also revealed a bit about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Christian brothers.

I asked my Mum if she was aware of this abuse and she said that no, my brother just came home and hung his school coat on the wall and quietly went off saying nothing.  I felt so sad for him when he told me that story in June last year I wrote a blog about it.

When I felt the anger to my brother I wondered at my right to judge someone who was acting out of buried pain.  I almost considered that I never want to have contact with him again on the other side and then questioned that.  Then today I read this on forgiveness :

Forgiveness is a selective remembering of what someone did right, at a time when the ego mind is shrieking about what someone did wrong  We always have a choice about where to focus – whether to blame someone or to bless someone.  I can concentrate my attention on what you did wrong, or I can seek to remember a moment when you tried to do right.  Although the ego insists that you don’t deserve it, the spirit absolutely know that you do.  And my ego has an ulterior motive, in seeking to attack you, it is seeking secretly to attack me.  Only when I remember who you really are (an innocent child of God, regardless of your mistakes) can I remember who I am (an innocent child of God, regardless of mine.)

Condemning another person, while it might give us a few moments of temporary relief, will always boomerang and make us feel worse.  If I attack you, you will attack me back – or at least I’ll think you did.  In terms of how consciousness operates it doesn’t matter who attacked first, who ever attacks feels attacked.

Forgiveness takes us off the wheel of suffering. It delivers us to quantum realms beyond time and space, when thoughts of guilt have marred neither your innocence nor mine.  This is summed up by Rumi “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”  There, in this space of no-thing the universe miraculously self corrects.  In the presence of love, things automatically return to divine right order.  That which the ego has made imperfect is returned to the track of divine perfection, releasing possibilities for healing that would not other wise exist :

I’m sorry

I’m sorry, too.

Simple worlds, and how much better those words are than the ego’s alternative.

Mmm, but what of the person who when you say sorry, uses that as an opening to deny or as a weapon to beat you over the head with?  I was warned of this in my last relationship with a narcissist, to be aware that apologising to someone such as he may be used against me and it was.  In this case it was his ego that had shut down and locked the door and I could do nothing about it but walk away, knowing I was powerless and in time knowing that the price of holding onto the outrage was too much to bear, that in the end letting go and allowing the person to be shut down was the only way to become free, knowing I deserved something else.

Forgiveness, it most certainly is a thorny issue.  There are times I was slighted and could only see the wrong and the hurt and anger eclipsed other things that were right, so I do agree with some of what Marianne Williamson writes in that quote above but I still have some reservations and I wondered what others think of it?  Maybe you might like to comment below.  If we are repeatedly hurt and other refuse to own up, surely its in our best interests to keep a wide berth.