Tussle : a conundrum

Difficult night’s sleep last night after the revelations that came to light yesterday about my older sister (who is now dead) and her suicide attempt.   I felt very enmeshed coming out of yesterdays meeting with a family friend who is the oldest daughter of my god parents.  The background is that my godfather, Piet, left Holland with my father in 1938 to go to Indonesia.  Growing up Uncle Piet was more like a father to me, especially in later years after I got sober.  He validated my pain and struggle in my emotionally neglectful family to a great degree.  It was with he and my Godmother I went to stay after returning from overseas at 25.  I went there (overseas) a few months after Dad died and stayed 2 and a half years.  There was no place back home with my mother who was on the phone pleading with me to come home after sending me away and then told me when I arrived home she was remarrying.   I left shortly after to live in another town and my God parents took me in.  They took me back in when I fell pregnant in the darkest final years of my addiction and needed to have a termiantion as the sac with the baby ruptured.  My sister told me many years later my Mum was questioning whether she should support me or not at that time.  Thanks a lot Mum, when I needed you when the fuck were you ever there!!!  (This is past anger I am working on it!)

I woke in the middle of the night with all of this going around and around in my head.  A photo of my godfather sits on my bedroom table.  It was taken on the day of my wedding in 1993, he gave me away and we are hugging in the photo.  I cried a lot last night with missing him.   He died in 2003.  He was more emotionally there for me than my father ever was but perhaps if Dad had lived it may have been different.  The difference was Piet was not hell bent on becoming a millionaire and sadly in later years my Dad had less to do with him because Piet was only a ‘lowly’ mechanic.  I use that word to convey my Dad’s bias not mine

My Godmother and I had a difficult relationship after Piet died.  I felt upset because in final years they were trying to paint him as angry and full of dementia.  What was happening was that his maternal abandonment (his mother died when he was only 3) which had never been dealt with came to the fore.  His daughter was telling me yesterday how she spent a lot of time with him in the later years talking about it.  What if she had not done that and just tried to judge him as my Godmother did?   I knew myself what he had endured and it was a part of our bond.

I like to believe my Godfather is around me in spirit.  I was praying to him last night.  I know he was in no way a perfect father and had heaps of flaws but he was the one male figure I felt close to.

I am having some residual anger towards my Mum.  My sister wanted to strangle her for all kinds of reasons.  I can get it.   I still have empathy for my Mum though, but at times its tough as she has never owned her own part in emotional abandonment.   She wants me to go and pick her up tomorrow night to take her to a function 10 minutes away.  Partly I dont want to do it.  I want to tell her to get a fucking taxi.   I dare not say it!  There I go miss ‘nice girl’.  Maybe I need to be honest.  Luckily I have therapy today so we can discuss this.  I try to compensate when I know my Mum and my other living sister are in pain.  My other sister’s suicide attempt 4 years ago came up yesterday too.  It was the first time Mum could unburden her story about it with someone.  I wish to God my Mum was in therapy, all this pain is too much to carry alone, its why her pelvis fractured several times and why she is now on constant pain meds.  Feeling the feelings and being honest enough to face her part in things would free her.  But she wont do it.  I do feel compassion but I no longer want to sacrifice my life.

I am a bit scared at the moment as I have been reading a book on Radical Forgiveness in which the author claims that failing to forgive often leads to cancer and that often a broken heart proceedes breast cancer.  I had my heart broken in the few years before my cancer appeared.  I also had a lot of anger to my Mum in those years.  I want to heal it, but suppressing or denying it wont help either.  Its a conundrum for sure but at least its one I am gaining greater insight into lately.   Feedback and comments greatly appreciated

The mother wound we carry

I wanted to share the following excerpt from Mark Wolynn’s excellent book on inherited family trauma : It Didn’t Start With You.   It is one of the most important books I have ever read, just sad I heard about it over 2 years ago and only just bought it.  What he shares of his own experience and understanding with healing multigenerational trauma in both his own life and lives of his clients is nothing short of remarkable.  He also uses the latest research conducted into epigenetics to support his claims showing how early stress and lack of nurture affects our neurological structure even in the womb, as well as how inherited trauma of a grandparent or great grandparent can be carried and communicated even along paternal (as well as maternal) streams of inheritance.  It is changing the way I am thinking about my own mother nurturance wound and the addiction that grew out of it.

To put it simply, we receive aspects of our grandmother’s mothering through our own mother.  The traumas our grandmothers endured, her pains and sorrows, her difficulties in childhood or with our grandfather, the losses of those she loved who died early – these filter, to some degree, into the mothering she gave our mother.  If we look back another generation, the same would likely be true about the mothering our grandmother received.

The particulars of the events that shaped their lives may be obscured from our vision, but nevertheless, the impact of those particulars can be deeply felt.  It’s not only what we inherit from our parents but also how they were parented that influences how we relate to a partner, how we relate to ourselves, and how we nurture our children.  For better or worse, parents tend to pass on the parenting they themselves received.

These patterns appear to be hardwired into the brain, and begin to be formed before we’re even born  How our mother bonds with us in the womb is instrumental in the development of our neural circuitry.  Thomas Verney says, “From the moment of our conception, the experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personaltity, emotional temperament, and the power of higher thought.”  Like a blueprint, these patterns are transmitted more than learned.

The first nine months outside the womb function as a continuation of the neural development that occurs within the womb.  Which neural circuits remain, which are discarded, and how the remaining circuits will be organised depend on how the infant experiences and interacts with the mother or caregiver.  It’s through these early reactions that a child continues to establish a blueprint for managing emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

When a mother (or father) carried inherited trauma, or has experienced a break in the bond with her mother (or father), it can affect the tender bond that’s forming with her infant, and that bond is more likely to be interrupted.  The impact of an early break in the mother – child bond – an extended hospital stay, an ill timed vacation, a long term separation – can be devastating for an infant.  The deep, embodied familiarity of the mother’s smell, feel, touch, sound, and taste – everything the child has come to know and depend on – is suddenly gone.

“Mother and offspring live in a biological state that has much in common with addiction,” says behaviour science writer Winifred Gallagher.  “When they are parted, the infant does not just miss its’ mother, it experiences a physical and psychological withdrawal… not unlike the plight of a heroin addict that goes cold turkey.”  This analogy helps to explain why all newborn mammals, including humans protest with such vigour when they are separated from their mothers.  From an infant’s perspective, a separation from mother can be felt as “life threatening.” says Dr, Raylene Philips, a neonatologist at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.   “If separation continues for a prolonged period,” she says, “the… response is despair….  The baby gives up.”

In my early life, I knew that feeling of giving up.  It came from my family.  What my mother didn’t get from her mother affected what she was able to give to me and to my sibling.  Although I could always feel her love shine through, much of her mothering was infused with the traumas in our family history – specifically the fact that her mother, Ida, lost both of her parents when she was two.

Orphaned at two, my grandmother was raised by her elderly grandparents, who earned a living peddling rags from a pushcart in the Hill District in Pittsburgh.  My grandmother adored her grand parents, and often lit up with she shared memories about how much they loved her.  But that was only part of the story – the part she could consciously remember.  A deeper story lay beneath her reach.

Before Ida was a toddler, perhaps even in the womb, she would have absorbed the sensations of her mother’s distress caused by the constant arguing, the tears and disappo8ntmets.  All this would have had a profound effect on the crucial neural development taking place in Ida’s brain.  Then, losing her mother at age two would leave her emotionally shattered.

It’s not only that my mother was raised by an orphan who couldn’t give her the nurturing she never got from her mother, my mother also inherited the visceral trauma of Ida’s separation from her mother at an early age.  Although Ida was present physically in my mother’s life, she was unable to express the depth of emotion that would support my mother’s life.  That missing emotional connection also became part of my mothers’ inheritance.

….

In order to end the cycle of inherited trauma in my family, and ultimately for my own healing, I realised that I needed to heal my relationship with my mother.  I knew I couldn’t change what had happened in the past, but I certainly could change the relationship we had now.

My mother had inherited her mother’s stress patterns, and so did I.  She would often clutch her chest and complain about feelings of agitation in her body.  I realise now that she was unconsciously reliving the fear and loneliness that rippled through our family, the terror of being separated from the one she needed most – her mother.

There is much more to the story of family patterns Mark inherited and finally uncovered and discovered after a long journey of seeking outside for answers to his own psychological anxiety and trauma issues.   Reading his account has made so much sense to me of the symptoms of separation anxiety I experience at exactly the time of day my own grandmother, widowed in her early 30s, left my own mother (aged 8) alone to go and clean offices.  The two times of day were 4 to 8 pm and in the early hours of the am.  These are the times of day I experience my own anxiety/panic issues.  I had a growing sense developing in later months that what I was experiencing at those times was not mine alone, that it didn’t start with me.  And that was the exact time of day I had my head trauma injury in 2005 a year after my husband and I separated as I ran from him and my mother out of fear they would not support me in my own deep grief which I now know relates to a mother separation wound going back 4 generations.

Mark’s evidence and experience of his own and in his clients life (which I will share more remarkable examples of in a following post) backs up my own.  His work with inherited family patterns is so important that I am going to make it focus of my following posts.  This is important knowledge so many of us need to have, in order to heal and end deeply entrenched patterns of emotional blindness, ignorance and blame that keep us separated from a profound psychological understanding.

It hurts when I see you

I wrote this post on Friday, on Sunday I came down with a killer flu/virus but on some level it felt so much more than that, my entire body was burning up both with the virus and post trauma memory as wave upon wave of trauma memory hit.  I thought I might die with the seering pain.   Its taken some days to resurface and some help from a body therapist today.  As I go to post this and read it back I see the anger with my Mum, which to some degree errs on the black side, but often life doesn’t give us the best ‘fit’ with our mothers.  I have struggled to mother and emotionally nurture as I never was but neither were either of my parents That said I am going to post this blog.  On here I just express : emotional truths live and then die.   I am working to find the mothering I need from reliable sources instead of empty vessels.

When I see you Mum it always hurts.  There is this pain deep down inside I carry for all I wanted from you and all you hoped to give.  I see how frustrated you feel that I have not been able to live the happy  life of your ideal.  Instead I was a real child who had so many needs you could not see and feelings you did not understand.  You get angry at me for speaking my truth and then try to guilt/shame me with the way I should be grateful for how hard you worked to give us a better life.  Mum I see and my heart aches but you will never understand we needed so much more.  So now I am a frustration, the emotional truth teller you wish would shut up but feel safe enough to cry out all your own pain with because I recognise it so deeply.

So once again I put it all aside.  I pack and lock it up in a suitcase deep inside until I can carry my bags away from our meeting and unpack them in private.

I think you are insecure you said to me.  Yes Mum insecure attachment : go figure You never held me in mind  But I don’t expect you to understand : how could you, its all beyond the grasp of a mind that sees only the surface of what occurs and that is how you survived but please don’t ask me to survive that way.  I have a heart that bleeds and believe me I don’t reject all that you say and wish for a happier life, one not always full of this worrying and wanting for things from a family so desperately unable to give me anything at all and caring so much only to get kicked in the face,  Oh and while I vent my spleen thanks for choosing my sister as the person you would rather have been with all those years ago because I was ‘too sad’, when I was grieving not only the end of my marriage but the loss and deep emotional absence of my father too as well as all the other lost relationships where true love was never really shown to me, only judgement.  They took what they wanted and failed to care for the hurting girl inside who had gone through such loss.  Why, oh why did I blame myself?  Because you blamed and shamed me and left me all alone in it with nowhere to go.  FUCK YOU!

But fuck you isn’t all because love still remains underneath the hurting That said I am sick of trying to support and heal the consequences of things I never caused, was only a lonely witness to.  Sometimes I feel I am dying deep inside.  I see the care lines in my face worn with dramas of later years the illnesses that beset you because you would not reach deeper  I was the exile – the ‘drama queen’ the alcoholic  I remember when I told you I was in recovery you said to me ‘no one else has a problem in this family’ and ‘you were always a late developer’.

Like a sick, sad puppy I kept coming back, denying? I don’t know. Longing?  Hoping that things would change?  Swallowing down how I really felt and leaving my body to bear the cost.  Singing hurting cells left to cry out in agony all the things my heart wont admit to my mind.  Anchored here under a dead weight before our meeting I start a poem on depression paralysis tic knowing I am going forward to yet another encounter where you will try to get me to deny all that I know just to win your love and part of me will be paralysed as my true life blood, energy and power drains away.

Mum I am so tired.  I see how much pain you have but I also see that to admit the entire truth to your mind might completely undo the dream image you have that dissolves to dust when you face a truth too hard to swallow a hurtful pill too bitter to taste. And yet a wiser part of me knows that to ask what I have asked of you is doomed to fail and perhaps was never meant to be, perhaps rested on emotional immaturity.  For now I must be my own parent (as well all, must for that is growing up)  and quit this longing so as to grieve and finally let go of all I never got.  Its a journey and a process and it takes time, that is all I know and letting go doesn’t come until things are processed and let us go of us.

Sunlight streams on a peaceful day I am happy to be able to spend alone in a place where I can lay my burdens down and reach for self nurture.  Everything in me wants to forgive for the cost of holding onto angst is too much to bear but sadness will always remain, a weary sadness of the battered ocean sailor/deep sea dreamer who suffered years tossed about on a small raft besieged by wild seas and then dove so deep down to find hidden wreckage at the bottom of that wild ocean.  I am not earth dweller but sea farer, wayward deep sea diver often lost and wandering sometimes found when glimpsing deep truths in those miraculous ocean pearls of multicolours, found at the bottom of that deepest ocean which has been my personal, maternal and ancestral life.

The ways you loved me

Always

The ways you loved me were not always easy for me to see

I could not feel before the ache in your heart for the ways you fell short through no fault of your own with the best intentions

Moving on was the only way you knew to cope And then there are the silent regrets you may never share About things we will never be able to change

So now I pray for acceptance Of all that went before Because the hurting that goes on is not good for me

You don’t really know how to reach out at times Because you were left alone

Now you don’t want us to have to carry a burden we never chose

But somehow we have to make the best of what is left Together For separation avoidance or denial will only bring more pain And sometimes it feels my heart cannot stretch wide enough to contain all these broken threads

Emotions gone mute never totally go away but form the swell under the surface that threatens to rise and fall in those silent quiet moments When my soul draws close to your soul

I will always love you And long for your body Because you are my body and I am yours Let me not forget this

For love is not disembodied but only happens to us in and through a body  awake alive to the vibrancy of soul and longing from ages past surfacing and resurfacing from deep within for healing

Stopping the running from my mother wound

I had a clear awakening today after posting an earlier post and then finding a quote on the ancestral mother who is calling us on a path of healing that until I make true peace with my own mother wound I can never find true healing and release.  I am sad in a way to see how much anger I have borne my own mother when she acted in ways she was conditioned to due to mother and father wounds in her own heart.

I went to lunch with a good friend today and she said how tough and hard her mother was (but loving too) and how she saw the damage and stoicism coming out of being a child of war.  I thought about how my Mum was the only child of a World War One survivor who only lived until she was 7 and then of how my Dad lost his own father at 12 and then was called far away from the land of his birth when large forces were breaking open in Europe during the 1930s. I see how little they could give in terms of warm holding and affection that was physically demonstrated and now I feel so strongly the burden of all that I carry wasn’t it that that led me to seek the warm embrace of alcohol?

I was saying to my friend that when I try to hug my older brother’s oldest son he is stiff as a board, and how he and his wife air kiss you on either cheek.  So so sad.  I feel the abandoned body in them and feel my own body hunger to be enveloped in a big hug the one my other nephews of my older sister seem to give so easily. But I also see one nephew a few weeks ago crying at his mother’s grave and my Mum and sister standing on the side not touching him.  It was me who tried to give the love and it was hard at times as I did not want to invade his boundary.  Never the less it was given.  I wanted to give him a letter his Mum had written and a school report but I was scared to on some level.  I passed on instead the nature book that my sister had at the home that she never lived to give her grandsons and little Aiden was so sad when he left us a few weeks ago.  I will treasure that moment with him for the rest of my life.

I see until I make peace with my own mother wound and allow my own need to be connected and depend I will never heal.  There are places I can express that and other places where I cannot.  So much of the twisting and spasming my body goes through on a daily basis is about this unexpressed need and longing of my own body to be held.  One of the saddest things of my own trauma mother wound history is that I have terminated 6 pregnancies.  The last one in the first year of my sobriety and marriage.  I just did it and didn’t really think of the impact on my husband at all.  When he left me he quickly found someone to have a baby with. When I cried about that with my new partner he accused me of being jealous. It was not that.  I was grieving for what, at that point I could not give. I decided at the earlier point my own wounds were too deep to pass on but maybe the baby would have helped me heal and feel them,  I don’t know.

Today when my body symptoms around twisting and my pelvis were happening I felt the times the instruments went in to suck out my womb.  At times after I eat I feel I am being sucked and all my fluid is being drained away. Its helpful now to associate that to earlier traumas my body is carrying.

Anyway I am so glad I happened upon that quote about the ancestral mothers calling on our soul for healing.  A year ago I found out that it was after the death of his mother that my great great grandfather left the UK and then he became an alcoholic and his wife left him and then there were migrations and leavings/divorces or other deaths along the maternal ancestral line.  My older sister who died replayed all that when her husband abandoned her taking her back to New Zealand from Australia which is where my great great grandfather emigrated in 1874 and was eventually abandoned himself. The wounds I carry are not mine and yet it has been my task to become conscious of the ancestral thread and to face the pain that comes when I act all of this out unconciously from wounded child self who does not realise the deeper complexities of everything.  I am so lucky to have found that quote which I posted on an earlier blog.  Funny how life is always trying to bring us toward growth, healing and consciousness.

 

Messy?

I am reluctant to post some of what I write, especially when it is part of a sorting out process taking place in my most complex relationship, the one with my Mum. Probably many mother daughter relationships get messy and mixed up, after all mother is our source and we can go on looking to her for years for validation.  Growing up and separating means we find it easier to relate on a level we may not like but come to accept out of appreciation for the others and our own wounds.  I wrote this after an outing with my Mum on Wednesday.  I am posting it just to express it.  And later I feel selfish for doing so!

Messy when we get together I don’t know where your feelings begin and end Held under the cover of darkness They become so deeply hidden Seeping into the ether That I absorb through open pores When we are close

Distance hurts because I long For connection But when together There is dissonance I try to lead you to a place You barricaded long ago To you that place is an abyss And you drown in it most days alone To talk about it hurts too much  There is no resolution in any case Of these old pains and sufferings over which we are now so powerless  I feel the great pain your body carries

The only safety I feel now is in distance  My heart feels there is no longer any way to be close We are strangers And yet so intimately known And the truth is I will probably never stop longing for you for the rest of my life

But the sadder truth is Such longing is all in vain We never truly meet And so this mess I am left with is not able to be sorted So as hard as it is I have to let go At least for now Or maybe just maybe your pain is deeper than words and so my care and consolation is an intrusion?  Wake up, her pain is her pain and trying to get her to see yours always ends in tears.  Let go!

You weren’t there

Dark Spirit

I longed for someone to be there

On those lonely wide open afternoons

You were gone from home

In just the way your own mother was gone

I reached for the key

That hung on the hook in the shed

And on one of the days it wasn’t there

I broke the window

And cut my wrist

Thirty stiches

Neighbours took me to casualty

Do you know how much it hurt Mum

To know that dresses and other people

Were more important than me?

It wasn’t that you worked

It was that you left me alone

Why not get help?

But how could you know how it was

When you just repeated your own silent history?

Now I see

What I could not see then

I understand why panic attacks visit me at that time of day

When

One of the six horseman of the psychic apocalypse

Comes calling

Panic

Hidden deep inside panic are so many other emotions

That could neither be expressed nor contained

As well as a hungering heart

That needed to be held

And tended in love

Now I know why ravenous hunger visits me then

I eat and eat

But the hunger is for something else

My inner child

Help adult me

To remember and to understand

It all makes sense

That body will never lie

Show me how to be there for you

So that panic can end

And love attention and self care

Can fill up the empty spaces

Of a wound

Far larger than me