Really really gone

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When the one you love has gone

There is no longer a spirit at home in that body

Hands have grown cold

And the heart that used to beat love’s blood

Is deathly still and silent

As the lifeless corpse greets us

Or is hidden in a box

Shielding from us

Such a stark and painful reality

Blocking the full onslaught of our grieving

And if you think about it

Is not our grief

Just another kind of shedding?

From the cold body

Spirit has taken wing

Flown off to nether regions

Like breath that is surrendered

Becomes the air

And wind

And rain

Around us

Last night

I felt your spirit in the thunderstorm

That brought relief after weeks of dry heat

In a dessicated place

The deep hole left by your absence

Slowly filled

Becoming a pool of tears

This is where I sit now

As images and memories of you

Rise from the depth of it

To the surface

My heart opens wider

To encompass painful realities

Of how sometimes

Life with you hurt

And I realise

You are really really gone

And yet too

As long as my heart beats

And my eyes see

Even inwardly in imagination

Your essence still

Lives on

Giving Back Responsibility to Others

For the good guy, taking responsibility for other’s emotions, well being, finances, etc., is a way of breathing.  This comes from a deep seated belief that he can only call himself a good guy if he is always being there, being present, being attendant to the needs, desires and happiness of others.  Changing this belief is vital.

Beliefs change slowly over time due to experimentation with an alternate belief.  Generally speaking, the belief that we are not, and indeed, cannot be responsible for others comes slowly due to the lifelong bargain with trying to take responsibility for others.  Eventually the body and mind begin to scream their exhaustion and the person begins to listen.  When that happens the person might be willing to begin to experiment by deliberately choosing to give responsibility for other’s lives back to them.

But if we implement a practice meant to lead to a process, perhaps we won’t have to wait to get to exhaustion before we can yield the floor of responsiblity for someone else’s life to them.  Therefore, the practice goes something like this.  Every time you find yourself worrying about someone else’s stuff, you say to yourself, “I’m giving that back to them for them to carry.  It does not belong to me.”  Every time you feel guilty for saying no, for thinking no, you say to yourself, “I’m giving that back to them to carry.  It does not belong to me.”  Every time you realize that you are carrying someone else’s stuff you say to yourself, “I’m giving that back to them to carry.  It does not belong to me.”  In this way you are training your mind to accept the belief that it is not possible for you to be responsible for someone else’s life.  You may also come to understand and therefore believe that when you take over someone else’s responsibility, you are actually robbing them of one of life’s most precious jewels – for it is in taking responsibility for our lives that we give ourselves permission to become whole.  As you practice this more and more over time, it begins to become a process in which you recognise immediately when you have taken on someone else’s stuff and you surrender it willingly to them as a precious gift of love.

Creating Boundaries

The practice of ceating boundaries starts internally.  First you recognise that you are doing something or engaging in something that is not authentic for you.  Then you can decide where to put the boundaries so that you can stop betraying yourself by violating your own boundaries.  So many times we think that we put up boundaries to keep others out. But actually, we put up boundaries to keep ourselves in – within our own bodies, our own authentic life structure, our own power to respond, and our own personal responsibility.

The practice of creating boundaries begins by checking our energy levels, desires, passions, and compassions against our patterns of behaviour.  When the thought of doing something for someone makes us feel a deep sense of exhaustion or tiredness, that is a signal from the Self to say no to doing that thing.  When being around a particular person trains our energy, that is a signal from the Self to stop being around that person.  When we are asked to do something but our compassion is not in it, that is a signal to say no to doing that thing.  When we are charged with a job that we have no passion or desire to do, that is time to delegate that task or to talk to our boss about reassigning it.

Making these kinds of decisions on a regular basis means that we develop a process of being led by the internal messaging system rather than by the shoulds, have-tos, ought-tos, obligations, and loyalties of the culture, family, or social agenda in which we hapen to lve.  This procss is genuine and it offers the potential of manifesting an authentic life.

Andrea Mathews : Letting Go of Good : Dispel the Myth of Goodness to Find Your Genuine Self.

Its not easy for me to take on board the advice above.  I read this out to my therapist today in session and she clapped her hands, she told me it is what she is hoping that we are working towards in therapy.  It seems in my family I have always placed myself in the position of emotional caretaker.  I did it with my older sister who died and then with my Mum and now at times it could also happen with my sister who is the only one remaining here in my home town following my mother’s death and is struggling with depression.  I just know as much as I love her I cannot take on board her suffering as mine.  I feel for her, I try to ring her every second day but more than that I cannot do and I have finally made the tough decision that I will no longer sacrifice my life in caring when that care goes down a drain of endless sadness.

Believe me I know how much suffering there can be in life.  I see how much we live as a culture divorced from deeper values of self care and care for the feminine as well as the natural environment, but I also know that its up to each of us at some point to make a strong choice for solid values to invest our energy and time in.   I cannot live for another person.  I can feel for their problems but often I am powerless to do more than just care and over caring when it drains me leaves me in an empty place.

Today I was thinking of the line from a poem of T S Eliot “teach us to care and not to care”.  I dont know if I can ever ‘not care’ but I can detach to a degree with love.   I can make an active choice to say that I am human and this is my limit over which I cannot cross.  It doesn’t mean I am abandoning you, I am here if you want help and will take the steps to help yourself but if not, there is no more I can do.  I watched my Mum overcaring at times and struggling to keep her boundaries and failing at times.  Often she was punished by my older sister for that care.   I dont want to travel down the same road so my new years resolution is to care for me, and my dog this year.   I know I am now an adult enough to do it.  And its not anyone else’s job.  If you care for me that is wonderful and I am so grateful but care is only a given and cannot in the end be demanded.   I am going this year to work to take the advice of Andrea Mathews which I quoted above.

Taking responsiblity for other people’s feelings is often learned in a childhood in which the parent’s needs came first and/or took priority.  We learned it wasnt okay to have needs and desires of our own.  We end up not knowing what we want and need or feeling guilty if we do want or need what runs counter to other’s wants and needs. We then suffer anxiety if we dont think of others all the time.  We then learn to chronically self abandon.  It may be a long road to learn to know, value and champion our own needs but if we want to regain our emotional help we must learn this, or else we will suffer much anxiety and depression in our lives.

Making our lives harder : the value of simplicity

I look at the way our world is becoming more stressful and complex and breathe a huge sigh at times.  Just going to my local shopping centre over the past week has been a concern.  People are in a frenzy of buying.  Why?   In Australia over a billion dollars will be spent on Christmas tat while homelessness increases.  What if every family or person just donated 10 percent of what they are spending to those in need?    Its crazy!

I watched what my mother went through in the hospital too, just before her death.  They were jabbing her endlessly with needles and her poor flesh was all bruised.  Medical intervention helps to a point but what if that prevention is adding to the stress and lowering immune response and health.

Today I started the day pottering quietly in my garden in order to be close to the breeze and soft green leaves.  Here I could draw close to my dead Mum.  I had the hankering for a coffee so went out and got it then a lovely quiche for lunch which I came home and had with a nutritious salad.  I thrive on salads in summer as well as half an avocado.  Good nutrition is also something that works best when we keep it simple.

I am also glad to be back to AA meetings surrounded by slogans such as Easy Does It.   Simplifying life may be going against the flow of how things are these days in an exceedingly complex and highly driven world but its the only thing that makes sense to me lately.  How well we are present, how soft and kind we are towards what warrants that softness and kindness is surely more important than running round and round in circles trying to amass more of things that only leave us feeling emptier, tireder and more frazzled.   Surely at this time on the planet more of us can wake up to this fact and just learn to keep life simple and take things easier.  How much more of our busyness and over consumption can the planet handle?

All in the past : a prayer

Flying with Birds

Dear Higher Power and Higher Larger Self, you see all and know all of me.  You know all of my past pain, you know my body remembers, you know what a torment past pain can be.  Help me remember that today is today.  It is a new day.  I do not have to carry that past pain with me all the time.  Surely there has been so much that has happened to us all that would cause us to break down weeping and never get up, but surely all of that is now in the past.  Please I would love a life that is free, one in which I could be lighter, one in which suffering would not endlessly weigh me down.   Please help me today to celebrate what is good and healthy and beneficial and hopeful in this day.  Help me to open and keep reaching out and to keep love in my heart.  Let me be soft with old pain but dont let it hold onto me for too long.  Today Higher Power set me free to live and learn and love again.

Being sad and not sad, moving on from grief.

A post from Friday I didn’t post then :

After a tough morning (inside my mind with all kinds of thoughts revolving) I went down to sit in the sun at our local fruit and veggie market and read the final chapter of my novel  This Must Be the Place, by Maggie O’Farrell.  I have been lingering with it for over a month now as I love it the story so much, ending it will be like losing a good friend or heart companion.

The story encompasses all kinds of emotional themes that really resonate for me, and the following excerpt really put into words something I could not fully articulate with my brother last week when he told me Dad’s death was so long ago now it should not be an issue any more.   I share this kind of stuff more for me but since others may struggle in similar ways I hope it speaks to some of you too.

In the novel (spoiler alert, stop reading here if you want to read the book) there is a death that takes place and the threads leading to it are multifaceted and complex.  Guilt is involved, earned or unearned for the central character, Daniel who was the father of Phoebe, Niall was her brother.  Anyway here it is :

“Can Niall come, like last time?” asked Marithe.

“We can ask him.  I’m sure he’ll come if he’s not busy.”  I go over to the sofa and take her by the hand.  “Come on sweetheart.  Time for Bed.  I think.”

Marithe stumbles to standing position, leaning on my arm as we move up the stairs.  “Does Niall still live with you?” She asks.

“Not any more.  He has his own place now.”

“Have I been there”

“No.”

“Can we go?”

“Sure.”

At the bathroom door, she turns to look at me.  “Is he still sad?”  she asks.

I reach out my hand to brush the hair off her face.  “Niall is a lot better.  You musn’t worry about him.  It’s nice that you do but Niall is OK.”

My daughter looks me in the eye and says devastatingly, “Are you still sad?”

I swallow.  “Am I still sad…. about …. Phoebe?”

She frowns, concerned and nods.  And I look at her, this perfect being, her skin so vital, so pale that you can see the life blood coursing beneath it.  I am besest by twin sensations: that I am luck, the luckiest man in the world, to have this daughter, these children, and that I would kill, main, destroy any person who tried to harm them.

“I will always be sad about Phoebe,” I say with an effort to keep my voice even, “and so will Niall.  But what happens is that after a few years, you slowly realise its OK to be happy too.”

She looks at me for a moment longer, as if checking the veracity of this idea.  Then she turns and goes…..

End of extract

Grief is part of us, it seems to me.  Those who find later happiness may have more protection and insulation against being permanently beseiged by the ghosts of lingering grief and loss, something arrives to take the full on agony away a little or provide some kind of relief.  Others of us fall down into a deep well and it takes longer to touch base with our grief and move foward, realising the longing for full engagement in a life left by the loved one .

For some of us being happy again may feel like an abandonment or a betrayal, but really I guess in the end it is a saying that in the end the life we are left with has value and that who ever we have loved and lost still lives on in our hearts, forever.   There may be times we cry, times we are grateful we knew them, we may rue the day, if that ‘someone’ was a someone who hurt us deeply, but maybe even then we learned lessons, and realised after a time we deserved happiness and that that happiness it could co-exist with the sadness, nostalgia or melancholy that we sometimes still feel on the darker days.

Some times it just doesn’t work out

Its so hard when a relationship ends.  If you didn’t choose it and the one leaving sited all kinds of reasons why it couldn’t work and they name your part in it, just remember that is just one side of the story.  Relationships ask a lot of us.  I believe the difficult ones can often be about dark or wounded places in us that may not have had a chance to see the light of day.  Some relationships are ones in which we attract someone who carries some of our shadow, that hidden dark side of ourselves that we may have learned to be ashamed of or have a difficult time living.  I have been in several relationships where I carried the wounded feminine or shadow of the guy I was dating.  Of course when it ended they ended up blaming me, even though I did my best.  There were parts of themselves they did not want to face and like it or not people go into relationships with all kinds of agendas that can be hidden underneath the so call desire for love.  Just because you contributed some issues that were problematic doesn’t mean the entire relationship ending was all your fault or that it was all the other person’s fault.

When we have a relationship with a narcissist, someone who doesn’t want to own vulnerability or face parts of themselves its likely at the ending we will be blamed in some way.  We may even side with the person blaming us at the end and end up feeling entirely worthless.

I am not meaning here to imply that I or you did not contribute faults or flaws in relationship, but in a healthy relationship where both partners want to do the work of being emotionally available and open to each other it should be possible to work things through.   Being able to say you are sorry when you made a mistake, not coming over all bullet proof and defensive when wounds or early injuries are triggered, these are some of the things that can challenge and be challenging but that you work through and try to work with in a healthy relationships.  There needs to be a willingness from both sides to see the other person’s side and things from their point of view.

Then there times that we meed the right person at the wrong time or the relationship in which we find out that sadly, in the end we wanted different things.  Or then there is the relationship where someone for some reason falls out of love, projections are withdraw and placed onto someone else.

When this happens naturally we grieve.  If we have a lot of earlier losses they may be triggered and we may need help with our grief work.  Relationships fail for all kinds of reasons but just remember it isn’t always your fault, even when there are lessons to learn.  Maturity helps us to let go with grace and just say, sorry this time it just didn’t work out and I let you go with love.  If you are being blamed, attacked or shamed or dumped with all the responsibility, just remember that may say more about the other person’s lack of maturity and self awareness.

 

The hurts inside that won’t let go

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Sometimes the hurts inside that won’t let go Suck on our insides Like a parasite We turn our pain over and over And that shard of glass That cut us so painfully to ribbons Pierces us again We rail at a universe that doesn’t seem to want to know or understand And perhaps we even feel ashamed That it all happened That we suffer as we do

What can we do When all those we turn to will only deny the truth?  Do we turn against our true inner self and inner knowing in forgetting Or shut it down and tell ourselves lies to ease the pain? Or can we dig so deep for that loving containing presence that is so much larger than us That earth mother who can hold us While we cry or rage?

Do we give our pain over to her Or hold on even tighter Cutting ourselves to ribbons? Or can we lay down That terrible burden All those thing which over time we were so powerless over?

Our hurting hurt so much and often memories or visions of it come again. Can we let the memories or vision in and say : hello visitor from the past I know your restless aching contours so deeply and profoundly But now I say rest here with me a while Hurting me more now is neither helpful nor kind

In my mind you say so many things to protect me : Hold back Don’t trust How do you know you won’t be hurt again? But these are the old stories that keep defences in place Pray dear hurt lay your burden down So that my fearful anxious heart, my body my being and mind can be free to live and love again