Finding the Love of a Good Mother and Father Inside

Mother’s day has now passed.  Today I was browsing in our local Chinese dollar shop and there was a radio programme in which the presenters wanted to acknowledge all those Mum’s ignored or blindsided on Mother’s Day by family.  “Lets have a programme where we acknowledge mad mother’s day” the announcer said with typical Aussie tongue in cheek humour.

I just read a post on how difficult Mother’s day can be for those of us who were not fully nurtured in childhood.  Having to feat a mother who was never really there or hurt us with abuse or neglect is like a double wound for anyone who was not mothered.  I know that for all of my life I have tried to compensate for my mother’s emotional absence by trying all that more to connect and give her what I never got.   I am a bit older and wiser now and I recognise the pattern to a degree.

As the youngest in my family I had less of both parents time and attention and understanding.   I really did not allow myself to know this until very recently, I was happy to take the blame as a recovering alcoholic for so called ‘defects of character’ which included difficulties with trust and intimacy left over from having been raised by emotionally distant parents who recently my therapist has pointed out were more like grandparents.  My older sister was the closest person to a mother I knew but she left when I was 3 to get married and then came back and went again and then had a cerebral bleed and psychotic break.  It wasn’t until I was about 6 years sober that my feelings of pain around all of this began to break through in therapy.  By this time I was thousands of miles from home in England which in some way was the repeat and a trigger for the trauma I suffered after my father died and I was encouraged to go overseas alone.

Around that time I was working in job with 6 women in a small office in the University.  When news came from home that further trauma was happening with my now severely disabled sister I was able to share with these women who showed me such empathy and understanding.  I remember one of them saying “it is no surprise that you have struggled as you have with your mixed up mother background”.  Sadly though a conflict occurred in the office a short while later where my job share colleague who was a lot like a lovely older sister got sidelined and then decided to resign.  One of the other women (who incidently was a lot like my second sister) was instrumental in the conflict.  At that time I decided to resign my job too.  There was a lot going down in my therapy and at home.   I was feeling the pull of traumatic attachment tearing me home.  I have shared about it in my blog before.

Lately when I have cried in therapy over what I lost in coming home due to unconscious influences I have felt as though my being and heart will shatter in two.   I have felt over past days the most intense dissociation from the life I have since tried to rebuild in my home town, especially in the first part of the morning.    There was just so much lost promise around that time.  I made two attempts to go back and then had a really serious accident.  I came back home and went into almost complete hibernation.  I really feel as I look back now that in 2005 I went into the wilderness for at least the next 11 years.  Everything dissolved.  Neptune transited over all of these planets in order Mars, Saturn, Moon, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and the South Node and anyone out there who understands a bit of astrology knows how that watery, confusing influence can erode things.

In so many ways I am only now coming out of that dissolution.  Neptune later passed over Chiron in my seventh house.  I have had to explore how the pain of earlier wounds in relationships has dogged me and how the lack of mothering theme has been a huge repeat across the multi-generational line on my mother’s side.

My older sister died on 20 April 2014 when I was still grieving the end of the last relationship which only started four years after the ending of my marriage before so much of my earlier traumatic past was processed.  And all through the demise my ex blamed me and then I think also on one level partly he knew it wasn’t the right time for me to really be involved in any new relationship, since I seemed to need all my energy for healing  and he often told me “I just cant be bothered with what you need, when I need so much!”

I look back and see how impoverished my own inner mother and father energies really were then.  I was struggling so hard to prove to this person that I was capable of love, turning myself inside out, allowing him to slam me hard for PTSD symptoms I had no control over.  When he told me he would stop seeing me if I didn’t stop being sad I tried to not be sad.  It was so awful to abandon myself in that way.  I was in horrendous pain when the relationship finally in ended in 2011.  That ending brought up all the other masculine abandonments starting at age 23 in the year my father died but reaching further back when I understand how little my own father ever supported me emotionally as a youngster and how later in life he forced me on a path that I did not want to follow.   From that time on addiction became my unconscious rebel yell, but the pain and anger and frustration was all turned in.

I shared in a recent post that I was beginning to recognise all the work I needed to do with healing the inner father inside, but I am also aware that I still have work with the inner mother too.   At times I am not kind to my body.  I push myself too hard.  I extend myself to help others when I need that help myself.   I guess for me deeper recognitions have been a long time coming.   Therapy has given me a place to find empathy and support to overcome the ‘not good enough’ voices inside which have been mirrored in criticisms from those intent on hiding their own defects and culpability.   I see how much my need to care from others comes from low self esteem at times, but on another side it has to do with feeling so protective to those who are hurting or have been neglected or abused and then blame themselves, since I know how hard it is to struggle in this way myself.

Anyway today was a good day, after a painful start.  I cleaned through the house and got rid of some things that were bringing me bad feelings.  Jasper and I went briefly to the park and then I took myself off for lunch and to the library where I found a brilliant novel about PTSD called All Is Not Forgotten  which I am going to share some excerpts from in a blog soon.  I then did my groceries and nurtured my inner child by buying two little fairy figures I had been looking at in a shop window for the past few weeks.

I need very much to let my happy inner kid have some free reign at the moment.  I was talking to Mum this morning and saying how I remember being a very happy child before my sister left home, and she agreed, problem being I think that happy energy and vitality was a bit too much for a far older mother who was trying to start her own business and find her own way in the world after a life in which her own inner child was repressed.

Its a strange thing but both my Mum and me have the North Node at 18 degrees Leo.  At times I see us less as mother and daughter on spiritual level and more as two little kids skipping along a pathway.  The healing I have had to do has so much of my Mum’s own pain in it.  It may also have a great deal of ancestral pain in it too, for all I know.  Lately I have been taking a lung tonic before going to bed at night.  It has been helping me to breathe easier and I felt my entire body relax after I took it last night.  I hope in time the grief that I have carried can be dispelled.  I will always miss my older sister but often I feel her so near to me on the spiritual level.  I also talk to my father all the time and he answers.  He has apologised to me from spirit level many times for what he failed to give and mistakes he made.  Last night I cried a lot at 5 am when I opened my heart to him and asked for his protection and guidance.

And it appears to me that as one blogger shared today, that in the end it is love that will heal us, it is love that will allow us to keep our hearts and minds open to healing, to forgiveness, to wisdom, to understanding, it is love that will give us the courage and tenacity to move forward on each new day to embrace the inner and outer good and to build the loving inner mother and father inside who can fully sustain, nurture and guide us on the journey home to our true selves.

They do the best they can : and when it isn’t enough we struggle to accept and find release.

At times its so hard to appreciate that others are doing their very best when we are not getting what we want or need especially from someone we long for something from in the way of validation or connection.   In this situation the limits of our ability to relate is diminished and its a sad complex feeling when there are deep feelings of hurt or frustration around the relationship or certain things we experience.

The best we can do in this situation is let go and only we can make the decision to do this as in some way the decision involves drawing a line underneath something and perhaps closing a doorway of possibility in our heart we long to keep open.  Then there are the aftershocks we go through as we try to get our head around a situation that has no real solution.  We truly find ourselves in a place where our will and desire is powerless to effect any change.  And I guess that is where I have found the AA serenity prayer so essential, especially in praying for the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change.  And so often our feelings are just our feelings, they arise organically out of who we are as a person and what we value in our lives and I am sure there is a way to at times change how we feel?

This last question is one that still confuses and mystifies me to a degree because my Mum always tells me I need to feel differently about things and so I guess I have been conditioned to surrender my own feelings and point of view at times.  It occurs to me that this plays a huge part in keeping me stuck and angry as validation is so important of our emotions because as energy in motion of the spirit and soul inside us, such emotions give us so much essential information about what is necessary to keep us well and in a good place.

Learning to recognise our emotions and feelings makes the difference between knowing who we are and what is good for us.  It plays a part in giving us information about what we may need to set boundaries up against.

That is why I feel I struggled a fair bit yesterday after the Sunday encounter with my Mum.  I had a dream last night that the caretaker of the building where my Mum lives wanted to have a sexual relationship with me, he was pressuring me and because I know he is married I told him it would be wrong, but he was trying then to invade my boundaries using his will and power.  I awoke quiet startled and twisted around and feeling like I had to fight to get back to being on my centre.  When I thought about the dream I thought about how so often when I try to address or confront something with my Mum she uses the defence of how hard her own life has been and how unfair it is that I am bringing it all up, she may also collapse in tears but they aren’t adult tears, they are like the tears of a little kid having a tantrum over something.  I then feel so guilty and that I have to take care of her feelings and put my own aside.   And this happened to a degree on Sunday.  Even though we connected and shared mutual pain, I also felt such guilt and shame for having caused my mother sorrow by trying to address and get her to see some of my own pain.  But while it was going on I was talking to myself about what was happening inwardly and saying I didn’t feel it was really fair, but that I would have to accept it as I cannot change my Mum or her reactions.  She had so much to deal with after my father died due to her own father loss issues that she ran into a new relationship too fast, instead of fully working through her grief.  And that left me alone when I finally returned from overseas.

Thinking about this it isn’t any wonder that yesterday I felt very sad and defeated.  I spoke in a recent post about the unhealed wound but after writing it, I began to think how I don’t want an unhealed wound to forever dog my life in totally negative ways.   There needs to be a time when I recognise the deep unfairness of a lot I have gone through in the working out of familial and ancestral karma but also don’t identify with it as strongly since its a wound that should not really forever affect my sense of self.  For what I am seeing is that I am a very kind person with so many good qualities.  The thing that has really dogged me all of my life is low self esteem and that is now something I need to begin to work harder to address.

The fact is that I suffer emotionally when I try to play the role of emotional caretaker of others feelings.  It is something I have done for  lot of my life and at heart it comes out of a feeling of guilt and low self esteem over things that really are not to do with me at all.  How different the last 14 years would have been for me if I was more able to put the focus fairly and squarely on my own life?

I guess some deep patterns can take a long time to see.  I understand now though why I felt the need to rebel in my family.   I see now how deeply and unconsciously a traumatic past has affected me and I see the part I can play in keeping the co-dependency dance going.   Even though it was painful last week having limited contact with Mum I did feel better for it in the long run and I recognise the need to separate emotionally has now become essential for me.

I have compassion for my Mum.  In many ways I don’t blame her any more as I feel she never got the support to really understand her emotions and that my father understand how to deal with emotions even less than my Mum did.  I think the reason I so often give way in my own relationships is that that is what I saw my father do.  Hard as it was the painful incident over the auction for the town house all those weeks ago with Venus retrograde showed me essential things about my relationship with my father and what I did and didn’t learn from and longed for from him.

As I see it now the most critical work I need to do is self parenting my inner child and younger adult self.  I am reading Louise Hay’s book The Power is Within You at the moment and she speaks a lot in that book about how we can be with and establish a strong caring connection with our inner child, that part of us that is the source of all our power, love, truth and joy.  When we neglect this little one or tell her or him horrible things our parents may have told us or were told themselves we really suffer.  I look back on all the mean and unloving things I have said to myself over years and as Louise says would you really feel like you wanted to leap out of bed if you knew deep inside you were going to face a nasty inner adult beating you over the head all day for not being good enough?  Its only natural in this situation that we feel depressed.  And our inner child has a lot of lesson to learn about detaching from others’ reactions which are hurtful or come out of their own disconnected state.

Self love, self joy, self compassion are such important things.   Learning to be strong and to be able to say “No” to what is painful or not good for us in the long run is just SO IMPORTANT.   If we don’t champion ourselves and our own lives how can we grow strong?  How can we be there?  How can we really love others, if loving others means not taking care of us?  And loving others means recognising that often they struggle so much too and are not always there to meet our needs. That so often they cannot be there for us in the ways we may have needed.  So often we transfer old pain of an abandoned or neglected inner child in upon new relationships with people who carry their own deep wounds as well and may not be fully equipped to help, love or understand us.   Loving them as well as us means recognising this, really, well at least I feel it does for me.  For only through this kind of awareness can I really find peace, calm and freedom.  And with these strongly in place I can take care of me and look for relationships where frustration does not outweigh connection and satisfaction of my real needs.

Disconnection, perfectionism, reconnection

The feeling and imprints of being disconnected, of being in the words of AA “so far from human aid” are so deep and such repetitive themes for me I am realising lately , and that felt sense or inner experience gets triggered at certain times of the day and the two times accompany the times of my accidents : early morning and dusk/early evening which have deeper ancestral echoes of past times of loneliness and disconnection for my Mum.

In these space of disconnection/trauma my energy starts to spin around itself and this is like the trauma vortex Peter Levine shows in one of his books on trauma which cycles inwards and down with repetitive thoughts accompanying of all the ways in which I have fucked up.  What stops it is being able to connect to something or someone true for me outside of myself who hears me and I hear them.

This morning it was a very important post from one of my most valued fellow bloggers, Rayne, on facing her own feelings of suicide and death thoughts   In that post Rayne shared how her connection with her therapist bought her through to the other side.  Before reading this post I felt like I was literally drowning in my own phlegm and at the same time a huge rain shower came with a torrential down pour, I really was in a dark place and it did feel as if I was literally drowning.

I then had a lovely connection from someone new to me who is on a very similar path and reading her blog warmed my soul.

I am aware that this trauma imprint of separation/disconnection/drowning is something my own mother carried,  my dusk/dinner time trigger points were also times she was alone.  And I am learning Mum never helped me know how to nurture myself.  I put all my focus out on trying to engage with a mother who was revolving her energy around her and my father, not me.  Dad didn’t engage with me at this time of day, both engaged with Scotch Whiskey and I am coming to realise more and more how alone I felt and how I could not know how to attach and so in time I started to use alcohol and drugs too.

I am 23 years out of active addiction but I am only just getting a stronger hold on some of my other patterns now.  That is many years of recovery.   I also think my natural difficulty with attaching and engaging with healthy others has at time stymied my recovery.  But reaching out and really connecting is for me a healing balm, for my heart lives to be connected to others and that connection is stronger and healthier when I am connected to myself.

Yesterday I had a far better day due to the fact I connected with three positive people.  I met my cousin for a coffee and our friendship has grown over the past year.  Sadly a legacy of our familial disconnection is that my Dad was so distant with her Dad, my Dad’s younger brother.  We are healing that now and I can talk to her with great honesty about my past and she shares with me her own struggle to be a good parent and get help for her son who has needed assistance to work through some psychological issues.  My cousin is comfortable talking about death, grief and emotions in a way other members of my family are not and that helps me as I naturally express how I feel, it is so essential to me that I can be with others who can also express how they feel and not shy away from emotional matters in the way my family do.

I think one of the reasons I really struggled last week was that on the third anniversary of her death my oldest sister’s name was not mentioned once by any of my family.  I knew they were probably thinking of her, but in our family the deeper, painful issues are shied away from, all hidden under the surface.  We eat and drink over them.

In a way for me now it is okay on one level to recognise this, there is so much pain and trauma in my family that can never be healed.  I am also learning that its not my responsibility to heal it for anyone else.  I think one of the big delusions I carried in my sobriety was that I could and would in some way heal the legacy of mutigenerational alcoholism, trauma and emotional neglect legacy for my family.  I now see that is hubris, the most I can do is work to understand.

The truth is everyone in my family has been affected and few have wanted to acknowledge the roots of it.  I think my brother trying to bring attention to the way Mum treated Dad the other day was all part of him trying to make sense of things and wanting to open up a dialogue but Mum could only leap to a defensive position.  There are much deeper layers to the way my mother developed as a person and most especially developed striving defences of perfectionism and control as a result of the painful empty legacy of her past.  This has reverberated on all of our lives along the generational line, but most especially in the lives of her daughters.  I think my Dad just wanted to relax more, he never could as someone was always pushing him on, his defence was to go AWOL, he didn’t abuse alcohol but used it to take the edge off.

Much as I have had compassion for my Mum, what I do not have compassion for is her not being able at times to say a genuine, ‘sorry’! The amount of times she has allowed us to take the wrap for her bad behaviour and control mechanisms is huge.  My brother the other day was trying to lift the lid on something and Mum wasn’t going to go there.  Maybe she might at a later date.

For myself at the moment though I just need to keep remembering to focus on all of my recovery tools.  I need to start doing more to nurture and nourish the good connections I do have,  they are there, just at times I check the impulse to reach out due to fear.     I also need to stop reaching out to my Mum all the times in hopes of getting the empathy and attention that is so absent.  My Mum is a vey self centred person.  I think a lot of it has to do with having no siblings and zilch emotional attention and nurture.

Thinking about it today I realised fear was actually the underlying emotion that drove my mother.  Fear of not being able to survive materially, fear of not being good enough, this later fear fostered in climate where no one championed or fathered her.  In the absence of that she learned to ‘pull herself together’ and put on a shiny perfect face that hid far deeper insecurities inside.  She pushed and pushed and pushed in an effort to try and perfect us and the home environment but to a point where there was no place of being or rest.  I feel it finally killed my father to be honest.

And sadly my brother as the oldest also learned to push himself and my Dad too, later when they got into business.  My older sister was separate for a time but then tried to come back and push and compete and well and then had her cerebral bleed.  And in the face of all of this, as the youngest I was the observer and my other sister just became the lost child and learned to try and assist the oiling of the family machine.  Is it any wonder she broke down later in life when all of that familial conditioning was trying to dismantle itself?

I can see all of this now and know why my suffering was so strong.  I see why and how I became a substance abuser in my teens and I feel grateful that I could arrest that at age 31 and get sober.  But the real work of recovery began 6 years in and there was so much to feel, heal and work through.

There is so much grief in realising that what we needed and wanted as a child to grow and be nurtured was missing. Its difficult and painful to live with residues of trauma which were a result of emotional neglect that then drove us on to yet more trauma and abuse and neglect.  It is so much to take on board.  But what is most important is that on some level we can express and vocalise our pain, panic or distress, that we can reach for compassion and a deeper understanding, that we can turn around and embrace our wounded self and the wounded selves of others in love.  For if there is a Jesus figure or a Christ or God force in the Universe well isn’t that just about love?  Isn’t that force about understanding our wounds?  Isn’t it about the capacity to bear with suffering and trials in order to gain wisdom and to grow in love? And isn’t it also about learning that when we reach beyond and share our own and other’s truth and pain, connection and healing is born out of endless disconnection, suffering and fear?

And at the end of a lonely road when we find the missing father to be absent, just as Christ did, don’t we then have to grow that father inside?  Isn’t it now our responsibility to be the father we always needed? To find the strong boundaries for self care?  To find the strong voice to cry out or speak up for what is real and true? And to find the power to leave our victim self behind, knowing that past suffering was real but does not have to mean a totally disempowered, disconnected present?

 

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The hardest time of day

I am becoming more aware lately of how this time of day, 5pm to 7pm is often the hardest time of day for me.  I was born at 7:10 pm and I am not entirely sure how that is related only to say I can get a tightness in my chest and start to feel deep, deep loneliness and sadness at this time of day.  Leading up to this over the past four or so months I became aware that at this time of day I tend to stuff my face with some kind of snack.  Lately I have been trying to make it a healthy snack but eating in a compulsive way, even if what you are eating is good for you is not the best idea.  Today after a tough day where I finally got out to the park around 3 pm and didn’t eat much more than an apple to clear my system out I went to the fruit and veg markets.  I needed some Brazil Nuts and I slowly and very mindfully at 3 of them remembering to breathe.  I then got home and swept up some of the autumn leaves but a lot was going on inwardly within, memories of how the trees shed in this way in the days leading up to my sister’s funeral in 2014.  Deeper memories are there of how my life also began to fall apart in 1990 towards the tail end of my days of active addiction when I woke with stomach pains in the middle of the night and being unable to rouse my them partner drove myself to emergency,  I had an ectopic pregnancy which had to be aborted and the trauma tore my relationship apart.  Within a few weeks I was out of the group house I shared and back with my godparents and then later in a new unit and my relationship briefly resumed only to hit the wall and then I gave up my job and the darkest years of my addiction followed.

I am very aware that I am not there now.  But I will always have a life that has been marked by trauma.  I had at that time already been through three terminations of pregnancy.  In the early years of recovery and sobriety when I undertook my first therapy I wrote a letter to each child that never got to live and named them.  I asked their forgiveness for not being able to bring them into the world and explained why.  I grieved them over years and have acceptance now over my choices. But as autumn draws in darker memories are near and this afternoon I am making the conscious choice to keep my ‘eating’ to a minimum and wait for an early dinner.  I am also choosing to blog about it more for myself, for I am sure it will be boring to some readers or they may even judge, nevertheless I make the intention in this blog to be as honest as I really can about what I am going through.

I am in the cosy living room now.  Jasper has just had a bone and its time to get us both dinner.  I haven’t had a panic attack yet and I usually get them religiously between 5 and 7.  Today I also chose to politely end the conversation with my Mum when she told me I was being ‘ridiculous’ for being traumatised by the events of the past my brother brought up yesterday, she also would not give me further information about something that would have helped me put more pieces in place and I am learning that everyone in the family has their own take on things and Mum is invested in not really owning up to all of her shortcomings.  That is her business, not mine.  I just need to detach otherwise it really hurts too much.

I have written a fair few posts today.  I have needed to.  Mars planet of action moved into Gemini planet of siblings and communication a day or so ago.  Its hitting my Chiron and it explains how what my brother bought up yesterday triggered essential placements of Mars planets in my Mum and sister and dead father’s charts.  I don’t know how astrology works only that when something get triggers I see it in the charts and Mars being in Gemini would suggest its good to communicate about it and get it out in the open which is not something my Mum or sister really want to do.  That much I realised last night when I got no support from my sister to understand things and anyway I was defending Mum at the time which was not right.

I have to keep reminding myself it is okay to reach for understanding of my family, the past and family dynamics.  I was very young when so much went down and had not a lot of way to make sense of it.  I can shame and judge myself for my struggle to make sense and there are some things I will never know.  But in expressing I get to contain my feelings to a degree and make sense of them, which helps me be not as unconsciously overwhelmed as I can be at times. I feel less sad now simply for writing this post at this time of day.  If I can bring my patterns to better consciousness and not over eat at this time my panic attacks may just stop, so this process is, in the end, essentially for me.

The wounds in my heart

Wounded heart

I perhaps write about the wound in my heart in indirect ways, but yesterday I really encountered it in therapy in a deep and painful way.  We were exploring my difficulty with attaching and bonding to my Mum as a child, how I had to revolve myself around my parents in order to be seen, how I felt invisible a lot of the time and  how that original wound has dogged me.  I am beginning to realise it wont every fully go away, it makes up a large part of my experience and soul.  There are wounds that added to that wound and deepened it over years.

I still long to connect with my Mum and at times it is just impossible.  I tried to write a poem about it last night but I couldn’t post it.  Mum gets fixated on what is happening inside her own head.  She makes up what is best to do without really asking and forms all kinds of ideas that are just not related to the other person at all.  Trying to connect from this point of view becomes so impossible and leaves me so alone and if I try to point something out I am told I mustn’t speak and influence her train of thought or else she wont be able to hold onto her own mind and thoughts.   As my therapist pointed out it them becomes almost impossible for me to hold onto my own reality, to have my own thoughts or find a place to go when I am struggling with issues or dilemmas.  All I can say is thank God for therapy and blogging!  Here I try my best to pour things out but even here at times the critic endlessly critiques them!

I was crying with Katina over how strong my separation anxiety is and how it would manifest in my past relationship.  I actually googled it last night and there is a disorder called Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder.  Katina told me that separation anxiety is stronger if you never really got to fully bond or connect in the first place.   Then she said this to me “it is a tragedy”. (By this she meant the unrequited longing and needs not ever being fully met.) Wow!!! That really hit home.  I was able to actually grieve not only for the young me who went through so much other trauma due to my wounds but also for the fact of how judgemental I have been of myself and of how often I attracted that judgement from others with no possibility of help to get through it.

I said to Katina “presently it seems as though there is another part of me that witnesses all of this, and that feels like progress.  I am not judging myself as much and when the critic judges me I answer it back with compassion”.  I also asked her “do people get through or heal this”.  “You are doing that,” she said.  “You are working so hard!”

Today I am fully aware of how for so many years I have felt like an exile in the wilderness of life.  Cast out on my own with only a few belongings, carrying this unresolved pit of hunger and need.  I have also noticed that at 5 pm I start to get ravenously hungry.  I just eat and eat and eat and then I have a panic attack after dinner.  This time of day was the most lonely and painful for me growing up and particularly all through my teens when I was the only one at home after my sister left but even when she was home it was lonely.

I would come home to an empty house and try to fill in the emptiness with television and snacks.  Dad would come home and barely talk to me, just go immediately to his room, change and go out into the garden.  I would wait and wait for Mum to come home just before 6 pm and then I would revolve my evening around trying to help her so to get some of her attention but most of it was focused on Dad and the two scotches they had every night before meals.

It is interesting to me that after my marriage broke apart and I tried to go back overseas it was at this time of day I had my major head trauma after a body therapy session trying to deal with the trauma of my divorce and earlier accident at 17.  I came off my bike and split my head open and woke up sick and stunned in an ambulance all the way on the other side of the world with not one real friend or family member.   Apparently when my family heard about it they didn’t think the problem was serious enough for them to come and help.  The family I was lodging with saw it all as an inconvenience.  Why was I over the other side of the world after my marriage had ended?  Why wasn’t I with family?  If they only knew.  My family was NEVER emotionally supportive.

Within all of this emotional emptiness it was not easy for me to be the best partner, either.  To be an adult walking around with so much soreness is not easy as so many of us know.  Its a real journey to learn how to love yourself through the entire experience and not fall into the trap of blaming yourself when that is what often happens anyway if you are a child who comes out of a narcissistic or emotionally neglectful background.  You carry then deep inside you along with feelings that in some way you are the cause of it all, if only you had tried harder, not been so needy, got away sooner, seen the writing on the wall…. on and on and on goes the inner critic that forms inside the deep void space.  And then add to this the judgements that rain down on you from the outside world.

This morning when I woke with my usual anxiety I was reminding myself just to keep meeting my anxiety with tenderness and compassion.  I was reminding myself that the field of compassion which we can find within and with a good therapist is the one open loving containing space that enables us to feel all of the pain in such a way that we also shower it with tenderness and mercy, without making the wound worse.

Then there is the work to do with reaching out to others for relationships and to express ourselves which also becomes the path we just don’t want to have to walk down due to the wounds we have known in the past,  we see phantoms all around and its hard when our insecurity or fear is not met with tenderness and compassion by others.

I mentioned the astrologer Melanie Reinhardt in a recent post.  I went to see her in London a few months after my accident.  She was speaking about the painful spiritual journey of being wounded and almost killed.  She was explaining to me how a near death experience such as I had at 17 opens someone up to a spiritual aspect of life where we are removed from the ordinary, veils get stripped away and we enter a place where things are never secure or solid or certain again.  Come to think of it its a lot like what certain Buddhist teachers such as Pema Chodron talk of : the groundless space where we experience the falling way of solid ground and our ego falls through space.  When I think about it this kind of void experience is something that many of us who have known emotional abandonment, betrayal or neglect encounter and so I guess such experiences do, in some way open us up to harsher realities and we feel the need to find sources of spiritual support.

At that meeting Melanie said to me that many therapists are not fully able to help with this kind of injury.  She made two recommendations.  Nurture your inner life and find a spiritual practice.   She also recommended the work of trauma specialist Peter Levine to me that I have shared about in other posts.  Today I am aware that this wound in my heart that I carry needs to be tended lovingly.  I need to realise that so many others suffer from it to.  Its not just me all. alone in an alien universe although this is how it often feels for us as children when we had no enlightened witness or support.  The wounds I went through are real but they can be the doorway that leads me into a deeper life and experience.  Much of my blog has come out of this wound space too and for that I am so grateful.  Today I know that opening up about my wounds connects me.  I don’t have to live in them every day, but they are very real and can not just be cured with platitudes or quick fixes.  I need to remember that and keep speaking about those deeper truths.

Last night I watched a programme on sex addiction and there were so many arguments on it from different points of view, but sadly early attachment trauma was not even touched on.  I left a comment on the programmes comments page.  It saddens me at times we don’t look deeper in our society into the soul of things.  That is also a form of heartbreak.  For me I can only find my own answers to the wound, others may have their own answers.  But it was also encouraging to see others opening up about their wounds on this programme.  I do believe that is where we find our healing, through that kind of openness and vulnerability.

 

An Ocean of Sadness

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Whenever I speak to my Mum lately I feel such deep sadness.   I feel that having me as a daughter has been difficult for her from the start.  I seemed to be too full of energy as a young one and she didn’t have the time for that.  I don’t even want to be resentful any more it doesn’t get me anywhere.   I long to be close to her but that kind of longing isn’t always for the best.  And then when we speak because I feel connected to her through that Neptune contact on her Sun Mercury Saturn and with my strong Pluto Moon at times it feels almost like a psychic connection, as though I can feel in my body when things are ‘off’ with her and I am not feeling well either and then calmer when I know she has been in a calm space.  I strongly feel that I am energetically connected to my Mum and I have a close friend who went through something so similar with his mother, when she died a lot of his painful physical symptoms ended.

My Mum carries a lot of grief.  When I speak to her I find myself crying silently.  I get off the phone and at the moment my heart feels like its pumping inside a brace or a straight jacket.  I feel the blood flow through which is the love I have always longed to give to someone but has never really been able to flow that way.   I think back to the last relationship when my ex would be gone for hours and hours surfing and of the helplessness, emptiness, grief and then rage that would come up.  I am sure it was an old imprint for me for by that time I had experienced four significant relationships go to the wall and had known so much other trauma of being so alone at critical times of needing emotional support.

This week I have been reading a lovely little Buddhist book on heartbreak.  I started to write a blog about it yesterday that I have not posted yet.  The author himself has known over a dozen different forms of heartbreak and speaks of the Buddhist concepts of impermanence and the suffering of change that every human goes through, just some of us more times than others.  He speaks of the need to keep an open heart, even towards those who have hurt us, a belief in the intrinsic goodness or Buddha nature that Buddhists believe exists somewhere deep down in even the hardest of characters.  He also speaks of Boddhisatva nature which concerns the aforementioned ability to keep our heart open wide in the midst of our own suffering.  But where does that leave us with healthy boundaries?  Its a big conundrum.

I went to a lecture by astrologer Melanie Reinhardt in London many years ago on Venus retrograde which is where we find ourselves now.  When Venus moves back towards the Sun it is retrograde, when it meets the Sun that is called the inferior conjunction and lays a seed.  I was interested to note this particular conjunction between 4-5 degrees of Aries a few days ago  in the dark of the moon was very close to my dead father’s Chiron which squared his natal Pluto in Cancer (mother wound) and opposed his Venus (values, self esteem and the feminine nature inside us all male and female).  In the lecture Melanie spoke of the pain that Venus retrograde can stir up from times in the past we were not loved or valued, the pain that came when we longed for connections that were illusive and ended in betrayal or tears.  She spoke of the concept of ‘keeping our heart open in hell’.  What I am going through at the moment with seeing the stress the auction of the property I went to nearly three weeks ago just as Venus stationed to move backwards the week before has made me think of this.  We go to see my Mum’s solicitor on Thursday to discuss what will happen as my Mum has offered to buy the property and lease it out, but now I am having second and third thoughts due to the stress that has been created, all around a search for hone which really needs to be found inside.

After the call with my Mum I felt myself straining to connect, longing to be noticed.  She spoke of how she had a lovely chat with my brother on Sunday,  while my brother is overseas for nearly 5 months every year I never hear from him.   I have to let even that go as we are not close, we don’t really connect at all at a heart level.  It hurts as I don’t have a Dad but who knows if Dad and I would have connected either had he lived, I was always closer to my godfather who really saw ‘me’ deep inside.

In the end I have to just keep breathing through this ocean of sadness.  When there is an ocean of tears as is the case often later in life when we have lived so and lost so much and known a lot of disappointment we really need to learn how to swim in those deep waters.    That is what I am doing now and it is strange as we now have quite a few planets in fire, but soon Venus will be back in the watery depths of Pisces for most of April, old pain I think is going to be revisited to be released.  I am going to meditate my way through it as much as possible.   For good or ill I have made the decision to stay in my old place where there is a lot of work to do and some expense rather than move to the new one.  I am scared that this means I am not letting go on some level.  Who knows?  I know I don’t or maybe I do and just don’t want to admit it.  Time will tell I guess if for now I can just learn to keep my heart open and keep swimming and not drown in this ocean.  I DO know that I won’t drown.  The only drowning could be that my breast cancer comes back and that is a constant fear.

Most of the book on heartbreak concern skills we can develop to be with our hearts in the midst of heartbreak.  It focuses on what we can do to practice self care.  That will be a topic for another post. For now taking care of me means a healthy lunch and then a visit to my therapist who I know I can trust with my heart.

 

 

 

When you have known pain : personal reflections on the wound of narcissism

When you have known great pain and trauma and loss there is no way you can unknow that knowing.  This is the thought that came to me this morning after writing a poem about where the so called negative thinking inside my head can take me at times and then reading another blog about how happiness is not necessarily a realistic goal for those of us who have undergone a lot of trauma.   What happened to us is real, it was painful and it hurt.  In bed last night when I was struggling with post traumatic pain the thought came to me that I needed to open my heart to the pain and let it in, instead of trying to block it, resist it, repress it or deny it. I am becoming aware that this is what I do not only with my own pain but with the pain of realities I see about other people who have damaged me in certain ways.

Yesterday after watching a video on the causes of narcissism in childhood I became aware of the wounding in my own relationships with my parents, certain expressions or emotions were not allowed or they were denied.  Often pain was denied.  If you had an injury it was often denied and you were told that it didn’t hurt or hadn’t happened.  Later in life when there was real sadness I needed to express I was not allowed to do so around certain people, especially my mother due to the fact it caused them or her discomfort.  In the video I watched yesterday and reblogged this kind of treatment was discussed and hearing about it yesterday really triggered me into a spiral of anger and sadness : anger that I was not allowed to be and express my true self and sadness not only that I was not allowed but that I then turned against myself and my own feelings and tried to turn the sadness off to be and become a person who would then be loved and accepted, but the price was that I was not loved and accepted as I really was.

In the video what was discussed by the therapist was how as children if we suffer these kind of narcissistic wounds and injuries we learn to disconnect from our true being, feelings, thoughts and self on some level.  The truth lives on in us but we turn away, disconnect and deny, often because we were either actively shamed, humiliated, dismissed or ignored when feeling that feeling.  What then came into my head was the concept of Inner Bonding which is discussed into books my Margaret Paul, the first called Healing Your Aloneness, the second Inner Bonding.   In both books a method of reconnecting to your disconnected feelings and thoughts is taught so that you no longer split off from or deny the truth.

The feeling I have most problem with connecting to or feeling and expressing is anger.  Getting angry with my Mum has landed me deep in hot water so many times.  Feeling my sadness with her is not really possible either and it wasn’t really until I listened to the video yesterday that I connected the anxiety my mother feels when I try to express anger or sadness with the kind of narcissistic injury he speaks of.  Prior to this I had some kind of idea but it was not fully formed.  I then had some deeper insights how over the past 5 years I have turned myself around to find ways to find my mother’s love, approval and attention.

As a young child I was left alone all the time.  My parents never played with me.  The family drill was that we did all our chores and then we may be allowed to play outside alone.  As I grew into an older child my mother always worked.  I remember waiting and waiting for both her and my father to come home.  When they did my father would ignore me and go into the garden.  When my mother came home I would orient myself around her to get her attention by following her around in the kitchen trying to help as much as possible. I made a contest of being able to do all the dishes before the meal was put on the table to be served.  In this way I hoped to win my mother’s love and attention. It’s only writing this now that I am connecting the anxiety and panic attacks I have had for several years now around this time of day when I prepare my dinner and do the washing up to this pattern of becoming a little satellite to my Mum at this time of day.  Last night I could not wash up for over 2 hours due to being stuck in a panic attack.   These kind of light bulb moments are essential for my recovery.

Last night I had a fitful night.  I woke up after a painful dream in which I was being attacked by a girl with a severe Asian hairstyle and in trying to protect myself I stabbed her in the shoulder with nail scissors very deeply and drew blood.  As a result I was then put before an intervention committee and told that I was being sent out into the wilderness by the committee for being so destructive.  I then knew the cost of my anger had been too much, but without it I would have been powerless so I can now see the dilemma I have been put in for all of my life.  Expressing anger means exile from connection, suppressing it means disconnection from and wounding to my true self.

I need my anger and my sadness to show me what is real for me, where my frustrations lie and how upset I am to know that a lot of the pain I suffered was due to the narcissism and self involvement of both my parents because I spend whole days sometimes being actively shamed and blamed inwardly by a remorseless inner critic.  I seem to keep moving into and out of denial around this issue for years.  Now I believe my psyche is trying to show me a painful truth and I need to open up to it and let it in rather than block or deny it as my parents would.  My body showed me last night I was on the right track for when I opened to the truth of the pain my body finally began to relax and the sharp hard thing I feel lodged inside me most nights then began to lose some of its intensity.  My own Mars vital force turned within and against myself, internalised rather than externalised causes me deep pain.  I need to liberate myself from this pain by feeling it, understanding it and releasing it.

I won’t let fear and anxiety stop me living

I have had an anxious weekend.  I am very anxious when a member of my family is suffering.  Despite the fact I have difficulties with my family at times, when they are suffering, most especially my mother it seems to cut through the heart of my life and body.  I am working as hard as I can to detach at the moment because the anxiety I feel when I concentrate on the pain my mother is currently in does really painful things to my body and as some of you may know who follow my blog in the past I have often put my life on hold to be there for people in my family, I did not feel that I had a right to be happy and be living my life if someone I love is in pain.  It doesn’t seem to matter that often the pain is a result of their own choices that were totally outside of my control, I still try to find the way I can help.  But at the same time I am now beginning to see that if I don’t want the rest of my life to end up swallowed up by other’s pain and difficulties I really need to put the focus on my own life, without surrendering to guilt feelings or inner self talk that tells me I am being selfish.

The pain my mother is now in comes out of her own co-dependency.  She tends to overextend herself in the same way that I can also overextend myself, taking on too much in her compassion and empathy for others.  The other day I actually started to feel really, really angry with my mother for this but after some contemplation I saw that as much as the anger has a purpose and a place getting stuck in it long term is detrimental for my own physical and emotional health.  I have to take steps in any day to detach. I show my care and love by taking her food, calling her on the phone to see how she is and let her know I love her but more than that I cannot do.  I do not have the power to take away her pain.  I am just not that powerful much as I might feel if only I could say or do the right thing I could make it better.

I am also angry because on some level I feel some of her pain is emotional pain gone onto a bodily level.  I wish she could have let herself feel the pain that comes up at this time of year on an emotional level instead of barricading from it,  I feel if she could allow herself to do this her pain would lessen.  It seems to be stronger too when she is alone.  I may be right or wrong about this.  I am not sure.

I try to feel my own pain when I am in it.  I try not to immediately lean on pain relief.  If there is something I need to learn from my pain I need to face that.  If I feel sad, I need to cry.  If I feel angry, I need to let myself feel it so I can know what is up.  Same thing for my fear.  This morning I awoke drenched in hyper-vigilance anxiety.  Those of you who suffer from it will know what I mean.  I still have an itchy pinching feeling all across my back from the anxiety I am feeling and I had a talking to with myself this morning about how often in our society we no longer call fear, fear we label it anxiety.  I know that I don’t have a choice that these feelings exist as they tell me something and occur because I am human, sensitive and subject to worry, but I do have a choice with what I say to myself about them and how I take care of myself in the midst of them.  I can learn to identify them and name them and then ask myself what I need to take care of myself in the midst of the feelings so that I don’t drown in or get swallowed alive by them.

I recognise this morning that my thoughts were starting to drive fear into an anxiety state.  I am feeling calmer now due to writing this and making the decision to get on with my day rather than stay still paralysed in fear and anxiety.  I know if I share about it I will feel better.  I will start to have externalised it.  I no longer want to stay trapped and paralysed in a painful place.  I need to know what I can and cant change.  I will always be a deeply caring person but I also know now that I need to at times put boundaries around the extent of how much I care for others to make sure I take care of me in the midst of it.

At the same time I need to keep reaching out and know that due to being sensitive and caring I can and do pick up on others emotions.  I may  feel them at times in a way they cannot at the time due to barricades or defences.  I may get a sense of them and then the work is to realise I cannot take the feeling on as mine but I can and do recognise it as part of being human  Having gone through much pain and suffering myself and I can do identify and will for the rest of my life.

 

The Distress Cry or Primal Scream

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The third response that we need to be able to re-engage with as we heal our past trauma and age regression is the ability to cry in sadness or scream in pain.  I don’t know what your particular conditioning was from childhood but I know a lot of mine centred around being able to repress feelings of pain and anger and lock them deep inside.

In my astrology I have strong aspect of Saturn planet of restriction and repression which sits on  my Moon (emotional nature) and Mars (desire/impulse to action responses).   The sense I have been able to make of this over the years of my recovery is that it is an imprint I have carried from my mother (Moon signifies mother).

Growing up my mother was frustrated a lot.  She would get into a storm in the face of any mess and throw a tantrum, (there was no screaming though) it was as though she was caught up in a powerful inner whirlwind of blind anger, frustration and panic.  Now that I know  a lot more about her childhood I know where this distress came from.  She was left alone a lot and forced to clean in an abusive way by her mother and the Nuns at her school.  Her mother left her alone and hit her sometimes, she forced her into domestic service at the age of 13 to get her out of the way so she could marry a new partner.  My mother was strong enough to rebel so that took guts, but a deeper level she was raised with the belief that it was uncivilised to express anger or sadness.   I believe she had a difficult time being able to cry alone and was most definitely not allowed to  get angry.  She also had a deeply repressed longing for companionship, being an only child.

Mum repeated a lot of her patterns with me and with my siblings.  There was a strong emphasis on looking good and doing the right thing.  Chores at home were always to be completed before we had any fun (which was in short supply and often for my older family revolved around food and drink).   I can see the abandonment theme has repeated across at least 5 generations and many of my nephews have partners whose mothers were emotionally absent or neglectful in some way, their attention drawn to larger concerns that child rearing alone.

When my older sister was eventually abandoned by her husband after her stroke and illness, one of the things she did was go out into the yard and scream.  She later told me she had to go outside as it was not allowed to express this kind of primal anguish around  Mum and Dad.  Mum was shocked, embarrassed and outraged that my sister was outside screaming where the neighbours could hear.  My sister then tried to take her life, that is how deep her pain and anguish was.

Quiet a few years ago, when I was in early sobriety, Mum told me this about her childhood.  She said that she was so lonely when her mother went out to work leaving her alone in the mornings and at night that all she felt like doing was crying.  Then she said “but there was no point in that, after all there was no-one there to hear or comfort me”.  Suddenly how she had treated my sister made sense to me.

I know there have been critical times in my recovery where crying out or screaming has been essential.  If we are in pain a cry will often help us to release the stress of that pain on some level.  There are times we may need to breathe into the pain, and times when screaming or crying out can be counter-productive.  But there are also times when it is essential to engage our vocal self expression and release hurt that should not stay locked up or trapped inside our bodies making us ill.    A necessary scream or tear may also get someone or something off or backs that needs to be kicked to the curb!

I have personally been shamed for crying and screaming many times in my life.  The looks I have been given at such times have implied that my emotional display was disgusting to people.  It hurt at the time but I now understand it was other people’s issue.

My sister who died was a big screamer too.  I  would often observe that her scream was the legitimate protest of someone locked up in pharmaceutical abuse.  She would often scream if others tried to respond to her distress with a lack of empathy and deeper connection.  Thinking about it now there was a large degree of age regression in this for my sister too.  A feisty young girl raised during the 50s she was often given the message to shut up or repress herself.  I think had she been born 40 years later my sister would have had more success and most certainly would not have had a cerebral bleed from the toxic build up inside of her of all her emotional energy and desires she had to repress.

Adults need to cry and scream occasionally out of frustration, anger, confusion, stress or tension.  Not only is crying not a sissy act, but when a man weeps, his testosterone level actually increases – a far cry from what we were taught as boys.

John Lee

Freeing ourselves from the entrapment of past pain requires us to feel our feelings and express in such a way that we can make sense of past hurts and what they meant, so we can ensure deep pain does not forever remain trapped or locked inside.  We need the capacity to express and reclaim our vital energy which can course through our systems re-engaging us in life when anger and sadness is acknowledged and expressed, rather than keeping us trapped in the death lock of a life killing depression or suicidal ideation when our true life energy is repressed, ignored, or diverted deep inside.

Post script.  Reading this back later I think I should make something clearer.  At times my screaming was an acting out of old pain on present relationships that wasn’t appropriate to dump there.  It was a first step in a longer journey of realisation.  There are times when raging is actually a sign we have age regressed back to earlier injuries.  To recover we have work to do to sort out what it was that originally made us angry and what steps we need to take care of ourself and address our wounds now.

Its painful to separate : its difficult to be together

These two perhaps contrary thoughts came to me to day after considering whether or not to spend time with my family and most especially with my Mum.   The unresolved longing for my Mum’s love and connection with her never goes away.  I want to connect emotionally but its not really possible to connect emotionally with someone who wants to be separate and different and who refutes everything you say when you try to suggest deeper feelings may be behind physical complaints.  You are just told you have got it wrong and your ideas about feelings are rubbish!

Its yet another rebuff but what can I expect my Mum’s Saturn in Scorpio is right on my natal Neptune square every single personal planet Moon to Jupiter!

Just had another conversation with her about her blocked tears ducts.  I wrote a poem about it earlier.  I think its grief, I said.  No its not grief, she said. Its just blocked tears ducts.  I know what to do the pharmacist has told me.  Not the end of the conversation  I didn’t feel angry, just resigned and a little sad, but not overwhelmingly.

It is time to let go.  To let go of the idea that I have to parent my Mum.  To let go of the idea that we will one day cry together.  To let go of the need for my Mum to get it.  To let go of the idea that we can truly, deeply connect.  The truth is I can still love my Mum on one level, I can spend time with her, but I also need to consider her as a little retarded emotionally.  Not that she doesn’t feel, she feels deeply.  Its just she wants to feel alone and maybe that is the lesson I have to learn with Saturn Moon, that this emotional distance and reserve I grew up with is a painful legacy and yet one I have to bear.

And that all is not lost because I have other ‘mothers’ there for me.  People I can share emotions with and who will understand, who speak my language.

I will always to some degree be the scapegoat or outsider in my family, because I try to make sense of my feelings and think they are important and have a necessary place and because I value the inner life so deeply.  I may not be a success in the material way, but on a spiritual and emotional level I do feel I have achieved a lot against great odds often with the dice stacked against me.

PS.  After writing and re reading I realise this is about boundaries.  My Mum has a right to her reality.  I need to respect her boundaries but also understand mine.