Spun

Spun

Feeling quite spun around with my thoughts today.  I got out to the park with Jasper which means I can get out of my head and problems and just be in the moment, the beautiful magical present moment in which there is no inner torment going on.  Arriving back I was aware of the many flaws in my old home and of how much upkeep it demands and then I get totally overwhelmed and forget it is all manageable. In my head the other voice is going “Why don’t you just go forward into the new place?”  At the moment not doing so is causing so much agony and then I remember that I was manipulated through my openness and vulnerability and perhaps bid too much.  Its very uncomfortable to think that others will bear the cost but if I was never offered financial help in the first place I never would have made an offer and gone against what my gut told me.

It’s all a little too late now to fix the original mistake!  I have important lessons to learn and the realisation that the new place would be a lot less work.  But at some point I have to draw that line in the sand and decide I am going forward with one decision and not look back, lest I be turned into a pillar of salt like Orpheus.  (Come to think of it what metaphor does that allude to : that if we do not allow ourselves to totally go through the tears of letting go in grief, endings and loss we will get solidified in place in trapped and deadened feeling?)

Anyway. the antidote for me for getting too spun about in my thoughts is just to take some action, but not to allow my anxiety to force me to action if that makes any sense.  This morning I had very intense anxiety coursing through me.  I was conscious that I was holding my breath, its something a body work therapist was getting me to work on by doing a big exhale when I was not even conscious I had been holding onto my breath.  Part of it is being angry and feeling I am stuck in place, powerless and can do nothing, just as I was when two major collisions overwhelmed me.  I also probably had to hold on in the womb as I had to wait to be born, Mum was too busy bottling plum jam to let me out.  Its a very deep imprint.

Forward movement or the ability to engage my muscles and my will are big recovery tools for me.  It was very confusing to be in AA and told I had self will run riot.  I get it that that can happen sometimes when we are pushing for something that isn’t meant to be.  It is what the agent used on me the day I said I would like 24 hours to think about my offer, then he pushed again and I said I would like a few hours, he didn’t accept that either so I caved!!  Then when I got second thoughts I felt I had to press on anyway.

Now it is going to be impossible to get out of the contract without huge penalties I want to cave to make it easier because I find it hard to tolerate the discomfort. But what I realised today is that I CAN TOLERATE DISCOMFORT, it is possible.  I did it today when my anxiety was huge, I just let myself fully feel the discomfort of it and breathe through.  It didn’t kill me.  So maybe now that is what I have to do and then set the intention to shift my focus away from what spins me or is painful or anxiety provoking for me.  I know that probably seems like a contradiction but on some level it isn’t.

I guess what I am really trying to say is that I need to care for myself when I start to feel spun.  I need to ground myself and get out of my head and into just being because when I am really in the present moment, anxiety goes.  I just have to keep going forward a day at a time.  This too shall pass.  I just have to keep going forward, not round and round in circles.

Turning back to face myself

Child 2.jpg

I have been reflecting on my experience today in yoga class of my inner child looking this way and that, towards others, hoping to be seen and then of the sad feeling that came when there was really no one to connect to from my deep feelings.  I became aware of a pattern of looking outward when I needed to turn my gaze back within.   I had the revelation in the active imagination today that I need to turn the child’s face back towards me, the adult.  I am no longer a child but the inner child in me can often be abandoned by that inner adult the one whose true responsibility it is to take care of this inner child.

I am aware that after some years of becoming more and more conscious of my anger towards my mother for what I didn’t get I am now moving past that anger to the grief that was underneath it.  I could not really feel the true grief if I was always reacting in anger towards the person who due to her own limits could not give to me what I needed. I  can see that my Mum gets really annoyed when I try to point out any grief about certain things.  We had a huge fight five or so years ago about it and I swore at her.  She told me to leave her house and so I drove for four hours through the night to the next major town and slept in my car, I was homeless as my ex had just broken off the relationship a few weeks before while I was visiting my Mum.  I had no home to  go to, and this all happened on the anniversary of my father’s death, it was extremely traumatic.  I couldn’t go back to my mother’s place for some months, until things became badly unstuck in the town.  I was engaged in a fruitless battle with my Mum for recognition and attention of my emotions.  Now that I have a good therapist that recognition has come, and my therapist has made clear to me that while she can support me, it is up to me to feel my feelings, she consistently affirms that my feelings make sense, even though often I have been told they don’t.

I was not sure for so many years of how I was using various addictions to run from these feelings and due to my difficulty with making sense of feelings.  When I attend any AA meetings (and this is rarer these days) I often hear others share how much difficulty they have in feeling and staying with painful feelings.  Often they judge themselves for natural feelings, or substitute certain feelings for other primary feelings.  Today I feel I am making progress.  I am really making progress in being a better mother to myself and understanding that I do have the power to contain my own feelings and make sense of them..

Today when I realised I needed to turn back towards myself I think I made a big step forward in my recovery.  I am also recognising I feel less painful symptoms in my body when I find a home there for myself in which I can be fully alive to and receptive towards all my feelings and meet them in a tender way and allow them to diffuse instead of build, escalate and magnify.  With the capacity to tolerate difficult emotions, the capacity to experience the positive ones increases too and I start to feel a real sense of homecoming and peace.  This for me is what emotional recovery means.

 

 

Creating a calm, safe space : some reflections on trauma and the pain body

When we have suffered a lot of trauma, our emotional and physical systems have literally been overloaded with input.  It is as though the inner circuit board of our being is endlessly lit up with warning lights flashing, sounds blaring, neurons endlessly firing backwards and forwards in an awful cacophony of inner white noise, electric pain and fury which revolves endlessly around and never seems to stop.

We need to find our own individual circuit breakers to interrupt the endless feedback loop cycle from endlessly refiring within us.  To me this means developing an awareness of what has caused us pain and trauma in the past, amped up our nervous system or triggered us.  It means creating and finding peaceful places within and without which are nourishing for us on every level, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, places of soothing, calm, expansion and warmth within which our hurting, contracted places can release and let go of what limits, restricts and confines in an unhealthy way or endlessly re-traumatises us.

I have been thinking lately a great deal about the pain body, a concept that Eckart Tolle has written and spoken about. All of us carry some degree of pain within us, some people such as myself carry a huge pain body around.  The pain body consists of all the pain from trauma, injuries, hurts and/or losses we have suffered in this life that may affect us unconsciously.  According to Tolle developing awareness of or consciousness into our own pain body as well as the pain body of others, developing some intelligence into the ways in which we react out of the pain body and can retrigger our own and other’s pain is very important to learning to becoming more skilful and happy in our lives.

I started to write a blog this morning about compassionate communication.  It was prompted by a book I started to re-read last night on love. Suffice to say for this blog we are only able to be compassionate towards ourselves and others after we have developed an awareness and acceptance of the fact that some pain is part of life.  We carry pain, others carry pain and the best answer and healing remedy to deal with the pain body in ourselves and others is an attitude of what Pema Chodron calls unconditional friendliness, an open, loose, expansive, state of awareness, acceptance and presence, a radiant field of loving tolerant energy within which pain can be embraced, soothed and de-potentised (Word press isn’t recognising that word but I think its a good one for stepping down the potent charge of a pain body that is firing off and getting magnified and magnetised by a triggering event or state we are encountering within ourselves or in our relationships).

Trauma and pain’s most noticeable impact upon many of us is a state of contraction, a state of pulling in or away as a result of hurt.  We either react, run, hide, avoid or attack, play dead, freeze or spin out.  And it is perfectly natural that we react in this way, from the more primal centres of our brain.   However over time and when these kind of reactions lead our pain to repeat or magnify or get us caught up in a fruitless destructive cycle we may feel the urge to reach for a better way of responding.   Is there a chance we could lean in, take a deep breathe and hold ourselves still in the midst of trauma allowing its vibration to release and have its way its way with us?

Over the past week or so this is the kind of practice I have been attempting to engage in.  I find the Universe often has a tendency to present us with challenges and lessons when we put our hands up in this way.  Today I lost my car keys in the shopping centre where I had gone for a cup of coffee.  I am sure they were in my bag when I went to the discount pharmacy to buy some things, not so sure if they were still there when I visited the library, but by the time I was heading towards the carpark I reached my hands inside my bag to find it void of any keys at all.  I started to feel sick inside as I do in this kind of situation.   (Its a while since this sort of thing has happened to me as I have been much more mindful of my keys after having lost them on at least 6 occasions over the past year or so.)  My first impulse was to freak out and panic after I had checked the concierge desk and customer service in the department store I was in at the time.  It was not possible to check the library as the library closed at 4 pm.

I stopped myself mid panic and said “the keys are lost for now, you need to stay calm and think of how to solve the situation.”  My phone was in another bag in my car in the car park.  I knew I had a spare key at home, taxis stood nearby in the taxi rank so I got into one and told the driver what had happened.   He drove me home and waited while I collected the spare key then returned me to the shopping centre from where I drove home.

I still noticed that I was running a ‘disaster’ script in my head, self judgement over how careless I was to have lost the keys in the first place, a sick feeling thinking I had no idea where they were and may never find them back.  But then calmer voices came into play.  How much of a disaster is it really if I loose those keys?  I don’t have any control over the situation now and making it worse by awfulising things will just end up adding stress that I don’t need. The keys may turn up later, but for now isn’t it just best to let it go, kiddo.   Problem solved.  I did not have to add to the difficulty by amping up things and I just had a chat to a friend about it and we had a huge laugh.

A few days later I went to the library and was told my keys had been found on the floor near the self issue station.  My calmness payed of.  Everything was really okay.  By not freaking out I had stopped more pain for myself.  It took a lot of work and conscious intent and taught me some really practical things about dealing with the pain body.

 

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On getting lost

I tend to get lost without realising I have become lost.  I might not make any sense to some.  It can take a while for me to see that I am slowly loosing a boundary, beginning to empathise deeply with others but then moving deeply and projecting myself into their world, perhaps seeking attention, recognition or affection.  I am noticing lately that a part of me rushes forward energetically with a desire to get connected to that person very quickly.  This is when problems can start for me as I tend to invest them with a lot of power and put myself behind the eight ball.  It is a very subtle dynamic and it must be a sign of my emotional growth and recovery that I am beginning to notice that this is what I do.

I am beginning to realise it all stems back to my primary relationship with Mum and Dad and my early bonding experiences which were unstable and subject to lots of changes and chaos.  I also have an experience of being very small and alone and looking around for someone and finding no one.  Accidents would then happen, or I would get bored and get up to mischief.  I would also get very confused.

One other deeply primal imprint I think concerns my older sister’s romance and marriage which took her away overseas when I was only 3, she was the one person who spent consistent time with me, and later, as as teenager, when she returned she took me for holidays.  Mum and Dad always worked and never took any time off apart from 2 weeks at Christmas, but even then everyone was older and I was left in the car alone for hours while they went into the golf club for drinks.

When Judy returned we had lovely holidays together but only for a week or so and as she lived in another town I had to go home then, I remember being so sad and wishing something would happen so I could stay with her and her family.  Later she drank a lot and was encouraging me to drink too, from my early teens onward, it wasn’t a very healthy dynamic.

Anyway I am now becoming more and more aware on a bodily level of a deep void and hunger within me from these times and from the fact my way of coping was to look to addictions as a substitute.  I see I carried that hunger most especially into my last relationship and my pain over parental disconnecting and emotional abandonment was played out within it.

A lot of grief is around and within me over the current period.  I am becoming aware of father hunger, which has been raised by making a tentative connection with someone at a group meeting on the weekend.  I had asked for the person’s number and he had given it to me.  I wanted to call but I was very aware of not connecting from a place of hunger and emptiness, especially at a painful time of year connected with my Dad’s illness and sudden death, as well as with my sobriety birthday.

Yesterday I found myself on You Tube listening to old songs from the 70s, the time of my adolescence when Dad and I did connect sometimes and crying and crying and crying. And I cried a lot today after receiving a text from my new friend telling me of meetings he is going to over the next few days.  I felt so raw.  I felt so scared to connect.  What if I cry?  What if I break down?  In my mind are all the memories of being abused by my narcissistic ex when I broke down then, it hurts so much to think of how mean he could be.

Funny how the Higher Power works though.  Yesterday just after listening to 7 or 8 of my favourite 70s songs, my sister’s youngest son rang me.  We had the most honest and connected conversation.  I was able to tell him what I was going through about Dad and even cried about my ex’s treatment of me. I told him how much I have been beating myself up lately too.  He just listened and understood.  It was so healing to talk to him.

I feel sure all of this grief is perfectly natural. In a way it is a big blessing to be able to feel it.  Last night I watched a documentary made by UK rapper Professor Green on his father’s suicide.  Prof G. was looking for reasons his father, who was an inconsistent presence in his life, may have taken his life.  What he found was so sad and moving.  What came out of this doco for me though was, that in the end he just needed to cry, all the seeking for answers and reasons of course was necessary but not the essential work of healing.  The need to feel his feelings around it was more important.  He finally managed to tap into them with a therapist toward the end of the programme.

When I feel into my own grief, I feel my soul entering me more fully, or me entering more fully my soul.  I guess I know I wont lose myself any more if I can just stay present and recognise what the prospect of getting close to someone can trigger for me.  I hope I wont get lost again, but that for as long as I need to I can get lost in grief, at least for as long as it takes to heal.

The connection between pain, hurt and the critic : reflections on Mercury Retrograde in Virgo.

Has anyone been especially aware of the critic in themselves and others over the past week or two?  The critic has been on my mind a lot in the past few weeks.  I have been watching my own criticism and judgement towards myself and others.  I am usually fairly tolerant and like to see both sides but I must also own that I am at times a pretty impatient person.  I have issues when I think people fail to show consideration for others on the road or if they seem to be dawdelling, but I am aware that my idea of something dragging the chain may be someone else’s idea of a relaxing drive.

This week in Australia a controversial episode of the social experiment Married At First Sight was screened on national television.  This episode was controversial as there was a passionate exchange which involved one of the participants stepping all over the boundaries of another and then criticism and aggression came into the mix as a result, things escalated when the person aggressively pursuing their own agenda incited the ire of the person whose boundaries were being pushed, more criticism was levelled against him (unfair, undue, unwarranted) and the person being pushed challenged the partner of the other one to ‘take it outside’.  He was then talked down by the other male participants.

The episode evoked a storm of comments on social media, most siding with the person who under threat of having his personal boundaries stepped all over took up the challenge and got aggressive.   However others accused this guy of being a thug, using aggression and all sorts of accusations were levelled against him.  The person who stepped over his boundaries also received a lot of criticism as well as a lot of name calling.

Much as I sided with the guy who in getting his boundaries validated arked up in response to more damaging criticism from those who did not know him, I was not really comfortable with all of the criticisms levelled against the other female participant who in choosing to bear all about the details of her and her partners sexual involvement on the first night of the experiment evoked the ire of a large part of the Australian population. Being able to read through all of the comments on Facebook to me was a very interesting exercise in how the critic functions when we see something happening that we don’t like and we want to justify our own take on things.

It really got me to thinking about how we can set up divides.  How the ego when hurt or challenged will fight back.  I felt angry myself that some people could not see that the person evoked to aggression was on some level justified.  He had his boundaries trampled on.  His partner got up and left him alone in it. He was cruelly judged and name called.  He was really just trying to defend himself.  He probably didn’t handle it in the best way but in the face of what I saw as narcissistic abuse he was trying to express valid frustration.  I was aware when I started to get very involved in the comment stream myself that it was triggering something deeply for me.  I had been in that guy’s position many times, judged or criticised by people when they did not understand the full spectrum of what I was dealing with.

It was heartening to see the support for this person on social media by most people who understood his position and were empathetic.  There were those there who wanted to lambast him and one woman accused him of being an abuser, which frankly I could just not see.  He had treated his partner with respect and part of the reason he got so upset was the this desire to maintain their privacy was not respected by the other person.  But I still did not think that she needed to be judged for choosing to pursue a  sexual relationship on the first night and I don’t think some of the nasty comments made about her were fair.

The whole thing has died down a little now but it really got me to thinking about the function of the critic, how tied into hurt the critic is.  When we feel hurt we are more likely to criticise.  And there are discriminative functions of our being which need to operate and act to keep us safe from harm and protected to demark the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable for us.  If we just abandon our discriminative function we end up without a functioning ego that can keep us together and moving in the direction that we need for physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health.

We are deep in Virgo territory at the moment and the sign of Virgo being ruled by Mercury the energy of mind and perception is highlighted now.  Mercury (along with Mars) also rules our movements and choices powered by desire and discrimination.  With this sign highlighted there is concern with the operation of the daily discriminations that we make in order to keep our life functioning at an optimum level.  What time do we choose to get up?  What fuel do we decide to give our body?  Who do we choose to interact with today?  Do we need time to connect or time to be alone?  Can we share this part of ourselves with that person?  If so how much should we share?  Is it a time to rest or to move?  Should we take action on that concern or just sit with it in order to get a better perspective on the issue?  How did we feel when that person said that too us?   How can we deal with our feelings well?   How can we take care of ourselves and show compassion, discrimination and love?

Over the next few days Mercury in Virgo will be moving backwards to form a conjunction with the Sun at 20-21 degrees of this sign.  This may be a time of growing insight or a time in which a seed is planted.  That c0njunction (called in astrology the inferior conjunction) takes place midway through the Mercury Retrograde cycle.  The full Moon Lunar eclipse takes place opposing this in the sign of Pisces on the 16fh of September three days later.

In thinking about what this full moon opposition to Mercury and the Sun in Virgo might mean we must also take into account that the Moon will be meeting up with Chiron in the sign of Pisces.  The wounding power of our words will be highlighted during this full moon which in being a lunar eclipse means the bringing to light of some areas of our mind that may have lived in the shadows.  We may find ourselves on the receiving end of criticism, or we may be feeling especially critical either of ourselves or others.  This criticism might not be all bad, there may be elements of discrimination contained within it.   Things we need to see or adjust to keep our lives growing and functioning better.

Virgo is for me the sign of adjustment.  In the 360 degree phase it rules what astrologers call the waxing  inconjunct, this Virgo ruled phase of the cycle is where two or more opposing energies need to make adjustments to each other, but the adjustment comes before a fuller insight occurs, which takes place in the next phase related to Libra and the opposition.  Seeds of awareness are growing within us now about how our discriminative faculties may have been wounded or affected by criticisms or perceptions born our of past pain. We may get insights how we react when we are in pain or how pain is projected through criticism or misunderstanding, an inability as yet to see things from the other person’s side.

This is what I have seen playing out over the past week within the context of the Married At First Sight social experiment programme and in the communities reaction to it.  It will be interesting to see what plays out this week as things unravel or progress on the programme.  I believe we can learn much about ourselves in seeing how others relate and how we react to what they go through, how their wounds are stirred, how they respond when they are and how fuel is added to the fire or how the burning embers of the fire are husbanded and contained through the powers of empathy, understanding, love and discrimination.

 

 

 

 

 

The key role of acceptance

One of my favourite sayings from the AA Big Book says  :

Acceptance is the key to all my problems to day.

I am thinking and reading about acceptance a great deal a the moment, most especially due to reading a book on the connection between feelings and over eating.  One of my favourite quotes from the book I am reading is :

The solution is in the problem

How many times do we try to run away from our problems?   We think if the difficult situation or thought or feeling could just be forgotten or ceased to exist we would have the solution to all of our pain.  But real life just doesn’t work like this.  The way out is through facing up to our feelings and difficulties and true emotional health lies in an acceptance of our feelings (even the painful ones).

Many of us don’t want to hear that, we think accepting something means we are condoning it or will suffer more from not putting up a necessary fight, but the truth is the more we see things as they really are and feel the consequences, the more likely we are to be able to take action for self care.  And when our reactions no longer come out of deeply resistant over reaction we will end up not sabotaging our lives as much as we do when we have knee jerk reactions to triggers and painful reactions or feelings.

Feeling our feelings is not always easy.  For many of us raised in low nurturance houses where there was little in the way of emotional connection or intelligence we may have not been helped to know what our true feelings are.  It takes some work to recognise what they are, what other feelings can underlie certain feelings such as anger and sadness.

There is a certain power in being able to name our feelings.  For those of us who have problems in recognising our feelings with words, our first entry point into understanding of our feelings is to become mindful of bodily reactions to certain situations.  Tension in our jaw, might be anger, pain and breathlessness around our heart, may be sadness and grief.  A clenching in our belly may be fear.  Once we can recognise and name the feeling we are in a better situation to be able to do something constructive with this feeling.

For those of us recovering our relationship to our feelings and reactions, it is a good exercise to become aware of the relationship between our thoughts and our feelings.  Often we can have a feeling and then a thought follows which magnifies or intensifies the feeling,  thoughts such as “this is just too much to bear”,  “I’ll never get through this”. “this is just too painful”.

I noticed this most particularly in March this year when I went for the needle biopsy to confirm the presence of breast cancer.  As they were struggling to insert the needle four times I was filled with the following thoughts.  “This just isn’f fair, it hurts so much, I wish I didn’t have to go through this”, and as a result I felt my muscles clench making the inserting of the needle harder.  At a certain point I consciously let my body relax.  I cannot truly say how the shift came about but at some level I just surrendered.  I knew that whatever the outcome was and no matter how much pain I was in that these feelings would not last forever.  I also knew that on some level having breast cancer was the next stage of my healing journey.  At this point I chose to start singing a song to myself.  The nurses holding my hand performing the procedure noticed it and commented on the shift.

I believe this mindfulness practice of noticing our feelings and the associated thoughts surrounding them is the point of power in which we can change our attitude to feelings we cannot choose to have or not have.  In changing our attitude to one of acceptance of and openness towards our feelings we can self soothe and nurture ourselves.  We can hold our own hand.  We can say loving things.  We can become willing to accept the pain we need to face in order to be real and to heal.  And when we are no longer blocking or resisting our true feeling we can learn from them.

There is a reason for the word e-motion.  For our emotions are energy in motion, they are the substance our soul and spirit uses to guide us.  And when we are free to feel and notice them and the surrounding thoughts or meaning we give to them, we are in a better position to respond rather than react in negative, self defeating or self sabotaging ways.

I am very interested in astrology and I have most especially felt the very strong power of the current station back to forward motion of the planet Saturn over the past six days.  Saturn I believe on some level rules the issues we have to face in life in facing our reality.  Saturn is the ring pass not of challenging experiences our souls must go through.  Saturn also on some level rules our thought processes and his transit around our chart shows us how and where we must structure and restructure our lives in order to move through our karma and build new structures, containers, approaches and relationships.

Saturn is currently in the sign of meaning making, Sagittarius.  Saturn in Scorpio was the prior transit in which many of us had to face the murky depths of feelings, pains and secrets, the shadow side of ourselves.  Upon his entry into Sagittarius many of us were challenged to make meaning of this shadow transit, to shine the light into the depths of our interior landscape and emotions, our (at times painful) interconnections with others. As Saturn has negotiated the first 16 degrees of Sagittarius since October last year we have been challenged to find the meaning in these depths and with the square to transiting Neptune (ruler of dreams, illusions and the collective unconscious through which we are all deeply connected) I feel many of us have had to face the difficult fact that the ideal or dream we wished for is often at odds with the true reality of our lives.  People may have disappointed us, they may have hurt us deeply, we may have been scarred and suffered many losses and yet Saturn in Sagittarius shows us that we can still find hope deep within ourselves if we are willing to dive for meaning within and accept what we find, accept even the difficult passages of our lives and all the feelings which make us human and teach us what it means to suffer.  Saturn shows us the places where we are challenged to dream a more realistic dream, one that in facing and accepting reality allows us to birth love,  maturity. integrity and wisdom.

 “Genuine positive thinking begins by including all our reality.” –

Gabor Maté

The pool of our grief and pain

I shared about being let down again by my Mum today in an earlier blog.  Just after I posted it the phone rang.  It was my mother ringing to apologise.  She had “just forgotten” to call me as she promised to let me know where and when we could all catch up.   I shared with her how it made me feel.  This is about the fourth incident of this kind that has occurred in the past four weeks following my breast cancer surgery.  Being forgotten is a big trigger for me.

“It really wasn’t intentional”, she said.  I think deep in my heart I know it wasn’t she isn’t well, she is aging and she is forgetting a lot of the time.  She is 91 now.   She has fluid on her lung.  The second anniversary of her eldest daughter’s death is just a few days away. They had wanted to put her into hospital over the weekend and she fought to stay out.  My dead sister’s youngest son will visit with his two boys who my mother and I have never met next weekend for the first time in two years (since the funeral of my sister in 2014).  Mum doesn’t want to have to go into hospital before they come, it would be such a painful reminder of all the sadness in our family, of all the loss.

When this was being shared at dinner my other sister came over all parental with my Mum, scoffing and tutting.  I just held Mum’s hand and said “I know why you didn’t want to go into hospital, Mum.” At this tears began to fall for her.

I drove home from our dinner in a reflective state of mind.  After leaving Mum in the foyer of her apartment and after her apologising again I drove away with a peace in my heart.

We have had so much trauma in our family, so much illness, accidents, death, mental illness, emotional struggle and loss and as the youngest I have been a witness to it all.  But so has my Mum.  Tonight I need to rest in peace.

I joined up on an online course today.  It is conducted by a woman who hit the wall when her life partner died.  It basically just gives techniques of breathing and mindfulness that help to connect to our feelings, to giving space to our feelings, to watch and experience our feelings arise and pass.  It takes the focus off analysing our feelings, or thinking about them and when I practiced the Spaciousness Breath today it really worked.  This afternoon when I stabbed my finger painfully with a rose thorn I practiced really being with the pain.  It went really deeply through me and then passed completely.

I think of my mother struggling to breathe in the middle of the night.  This morning when I was walking (which I find often puts me in contact with my intuitive self) and thinking about the fluid on my Mum’s lung the following words came to me.

Each of us who has suffered loss has a pool of pain deep inside

We can choose to experience this pool as a feeling and release it

But this involves being in touch with ourselves

As well as those who will allow the pool to flow and release

If the pain is suppressed it pools on the bodily level

Remember the dream you had where you had to clear out a muddy pool?

That was your pain and grief which you have been working over these years to release.

Your Mum has a deep pool of pain within her

You cannot fix it

You cannot change it

You may feel it but you cannot heal it for her

You can only love her where she is at

Tears fell then as I experienced an “ah ha” moment and Jasper and I continued on our walk.

I was very worried about Mum in the middle of the night last night.  I felt it may be soon that she goes.  In a moment of synchronicity tonight as we arrived at our local Thai Restaurant for a meal there in the foyer in front of me was an old friend who I had heard last this week was close to loosing her own mother who had a stroke in the middle of the week.  We chatted for a while.

“Life is so fragile and impermanent”, she said to me.

“That is why we have to make the most of each moment we have”, I said.

My own relationship with my mother has been fraught with pain at times and yet there is love there too.  I know at 91 she is facing her own mortality.  I know that even though she has let me down and hurt me at times, in her heart she has done the best she could and given me more than she got from her own mother.  It is up to me, not to deny this hurt, but not to allow it to define my present or future.  “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.  Lonely as life has been at times there are places I can draw comfort and pain does not have to be the parting word.  Today I can be my own mother.  I can show compassion for my mother and for all of us who suffer due to loss and heartbreak, abandonment, loneliness and pain. To be able to feel these feelings rather than deny them is a precious gift. And for that I am grateful.

Let your pain dissolve

Heart Ocean

This morning finding myself in a calm peaceful state after spending a lovely evening with a close friend, sharing a meal, going through photos of when we were young and then this morning awakening to share breakfast before we bid farewell, I pottered around my house.  Tidying up, dusting, sorting things, washing the dishes, slowly mindfully, I sat down and called my Mum.

My Mum does not sleep well.  After the traumas of over thirty years and several operations her rhythms have been disrupted, she sleeps maybe only 3 or four hours at a times.  When I asked her how she was today, she said to me.  “It was the strangest things, after you left yesterday I lay down on the lounge at about 6 pm I woke up and everything was dark, I looked at the clock and it said 10 pm.  I was really disoriented.”  She apparently then got into bed and slept through the night.

“I don’t know what happened” she said in a mystified voice.  “But it was as if something in me collapsed.”

Yesterday during our conversation in which I’d spoken gently of the need to feel emotions, she had started to cry.  I think of the many tears my Mum has needed shed.  Of how she was alone following my father’s death, how she tried to care for my older sister who by that stage was disabled but managing to live independently.  Of her rushed marriage to escape the grief over my father’s loss. And of all the pains that have followed for both daughters with our past narcissistic partners.  Of the sadness of being estranged from her son’s family due to my sister in law never forgiving her for a bad boundary violation many, many years ago.  Its a massive amount of grief.

As I sat quietly on the lounge following this call these words came into my mind :

Let your pain dissolve in the vast ocean of compassion.

As I contemplate those words I think of how little pain relief medication I have actually needed since my recent operation.  I have used my mindfulness practice most of the time to stay with and lean into the grief and pain as I have learned to do through reading Pema Chodron’s books The Places that Scare You, When Things Fall Apart and Taking the Leap.

I have allowed myself to shed tears and have been lucky to have three really wonderful witnesses who could be with me and hold me while I grieved, asking nothing offering nothing but love.

My mother has been in the difficult situation of supporting my other sister following her breast cancer surgery in December last year.  My sister is on lithium for Bi Polar Disorder, she is often sending Mum to the doctor for medication when the emotional pain in her body manifests physically.  Despite being a very compassionat person, when Mum feels sad or cries my sister doesn’t move towards her to touch or comfort her, but sits and just watches her.  My sister does things for my Mum but she also stayed sleeping in my Mother’s bed for over three months while my Mum slept on the fold out in the spare room.  My Mum has been making sacrifices for my sister at times which have negated her need for her own comfort, she is 91.

At the moment my sister is overseas at her son’s wedding.  Mum is alone and so that is hard, but she is also free to live her life as she needs to.  She is back in her own bed.

I see how hard Mum has worked to make up for her emotional absence of years past. I see how my own anger used to flare up  (though I no longer yell like I used to).  I guess I am also seeing that the wounds of Mum’s past just repeated.

I now see that an open sea of compassion insight and understanding is the only thing that will dissolve the harshness and pain of the past.  I recognise it is in that place of healing that I need to centre myself and rest.    And maybe when I rest in that place everything softens and that softening is felt by those energetically connected to me.

This morning I have been thinking a lot about Neptune and the sign Pisces.  Of the past eclipse which brought all this old pain up from the depths of the ocean, to be felt, acknowledged and healed.  Of the issues of perfectionism and striving I have inherited and of the need for self compassion as a softening antidote to these harsh task masters.  Of the need I now feel to be in touch with others from the heart, and from the body.  And also with myself.

This sea of compassion is perhaps for me a place I can return to when the wound smarts again.  It is what has the capacity to soothe me when things hurt.  It is a place I can cultivate through practices of gratitude.  It is the place where I can come to rest and find peace.

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