Two triggers

I noticed today two triggers that propelled me into flashback mode.  Doing some cleaning and tidying up today I hit my head and was immediately in flashback and my system and hormonal/neurotransmitter responses were being activating, flooding my brain and gut.  I lay down on the floor and gently head my head and said to myself “You are having a flashback,  you feel scared but you are safe”, I then connected on breathing as I practiced self soothing, I did what an earlier body harmony therapist taught me.  Looked around the room, connected to something pretty and safe in present time,  an embroidered cushion and eventually I was able to stand up and self calm.  Part of my PTSD trauma is that I crashed on a pushbike after doing a cranio sacral session to deal with my near death accident at age 17 and was flung over the handlebars, cutting my head open on an iron foundary  This occured close to the first anniversary of my husband returning to the UK and telling me he was going to leave me.  I also had another accident (more minor) on the second annivesary in 2006 and at that stage I did not know what flashbacks were.  I was living totally isolated and alone at the South Coast.

The second trigger prompted sadness over something my friend, was asking me about yesterday concering my ex husband. I shared with her my sorrow over a pregnancy I decided to terminate when I was only 6 months sober from active alcohol addiciton in 1994 and only 8 months married.   I made that decision from my own fear of not being able to be a good enough mother and I know it hurt my ex husband as after he left me he quickly got involved with someone new who gave him a child and told my mother before he told me.  (Mind you they both bonded over refusal to allow me my therapy to deal with a traumatic neglectful past.)

Today this sadness about children was trigger as when Jasper my dog and I go on one of my favourite walks we pass by a child’s play centre and the kids are behind the fence and often they run down and call out to us saying things like : “look, doggie!!!”  So today we went over and then I helped them by throwing back about 6 plastic spades that had been thrown over the fence near to where Jasper and I were standing.   After I left the children behind this huge wave of sadness came upon me and I started to cry and feel so guilty with thoughts like “its no wonder your husband left you”, “you were just a hopeless alcoholic” despite the fact that by that stage I was working as hard as I could on my recovery.  Anyway we kept walking as I cried to the oval where we threw the ball around and then walked back to sit in our favourite spot by the swings on a bench under the tree and by that stage I had moved through the trigger.

Its good to be able to share about these things, about the sadness I will always carry not only for the 5 children I could not bring to term but also for the inner child in me who never really got to become a proper grown up.  My therapist often says that due to the traumas that befell me between age 17 and 23 I never got to properly leave home.  She uses the expression “it was like you were flung out of a cannon”… I was also drowning my shame and false sense of inadequacy in booze and drugs from 23 to 31 when so many other expereinces of emotional abandonment and isolation kept replaying.  The final two abandonments were my husband and then last partner leaving me while telling me I was damaged goods, something it has been hard to get out from under.  But today I can say I think I am making progress. Realising a flashback is a reminder of being so small, powerless and helpless THEN… but not necessarily NOW is so important.  As Pete Walker points out some of us who become passive or co-dependent have our fight and flight responses disabled and we have a lot of work to do to beat the inner critic who beats us up or comes at us from others who know fuck all about our real inner history.  Learning to fight off and not succumb as much to the flashbacks and to make sense of them is so so important to recovery.   It really really is.

Push, push, push

Masterchef Australia is currently on tele here in Oz and the refrain push, push, push is heard nearly every night but its a reminder to me that sometimes I just need to rest, rest, rest because I can push and push and push to have to get things done and sometimes its coming out of anxiety or critical energy.

Earlier I wrote a post that touched on positive self will, I guess this is action which is line with Self that tries work in a balanced way to both project us into the world, but at the same time tell us when to rest, go easy, or take it slow. In childhood I never got to experience relaxed happy times with my parents.  It was a very duty bound home full of responsibilities and in some ways this can be good but not when it interferes with my ability to relax, let go and have some fun!

After getting into a rage last week about being stuffed around by the dentist and that arking up all my head trauma, I then got reminded of how it felt to be around family energy.  Just this morning my brother called from America.  He is go, go in the garden nearly put his back out by digging in the front yard.  “Just be sure to take care of yourself”, I said.  Then when I had to share about my dental trauma there was absolutely zilch emotional reaction or connection just a dull heavy emptiness and as so often happens after I got of the phone to him I found myself in tears.  My family are JUST SO SHUT DOWN.

Later my sister called to say that in training this morning her personal trainers dog jumped on her and soiled her nice clean leggings,  I just wanted to say ‘get lost’ she said.  I considered this with a calm irony.  I just said “Wow I can almost sense Mum’s flared nostrils from here!”    I remember how my dead sister would never let my mother remove old flowers from her room and how she loved the story where Mum visited a family friend’s farm and got upset due to ending up with chicken shit on her shoe…this delighted my sister.

I have empathy for my Mum though, to be left that alone when you are young and then to feel the only way you can find value or worth is by taking control, keeping everything perfect and looking good is very sad on some level when it costs a heavy price in being able to just let loose, laugh at chaos and have some fun.  I get anxious just thinking about the chicken shit, to be honest but I think that is a conditioned reaction.

I allow my own dog to jump up when he wants too.  People at the dog park don’t mind, I know some would consider it not a good sign, a sign of ‘bad manners’ or inadequate training. I see it as a sign of how affectionate he is and how much he loves people, and having him has re-connected me with that part of myself which so long ago went into hiding in a home where we were conditioned to think more about how we looked on the outside, than about how we felt on the inside and must keep genuine needs and interest locked behind a wall of fear or shyness.

Today, once again I am not going to push, push, push.  I just had a moment where I realised I was pushing and then felt really, really sad and an inner voice just said to me “how bad could it be if you just relaxed for a while?”  So for the first time in over 2 years I sitting in my faded floral chair in my small dining room and writing this.   It feels GREAT!

I know I can overcome my childhood conditioning.  Day by day I am learning more about it.  A constant theme in therapy is about how the inner critic pushes and savages me and I am learning to let go.  I had a positive dream last night in which I was being expected to make a meal at an event where there was already a lot of food, I decided in the end not to make anything even though I felt guilty.  I see that as a good sign.  The other positive dream image was that I had met a lovely man and he got undressed to get into bed, I was about take off my jeans and then I felt I wasn’t ready.  I got into bed next to him and said.  “I’d like to take my time to get to know you before we sleep together.”  He was fine with it.  I am nearly crying as I write that because sadly due to low self esteem and lots of emotional intimacy hunger in my teenage and younger and even older adult life I have jumped into bed with partners far too soon, and in the last relationship warning signs were there at the start that he had narcissistic issues and I overrode my own instincts when he asked me to have sex as I was so lonely.  This dream seems to auger really well for boundary issues.  Maybe my ‘no’  and self esteem muscles will get stronger in time.  Maybe I no longer have that same hunger due to my inner work and can now be a lover to myself, first, maybe I am learning to practice self care.  The dream sure seems to be saying just that.  Thank you God.

Belly low

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Belly low to ground

You lie my little teacher

Spreadeagle in complete touch

With the moment

You are always present

Always trying to draw near to this human

Who comes and goes

You are the silent loving presence

That always wants to stay close

That always has a happy smile to give

The one who seeks out company

And shows infinite joy

At each new arrival

You win so many hearts

Others long to draw close

To your sweet animal innocence

You bring smiles to their faces

And joy to their hearts

You remind me what profound peace

There is in silence and stillness

And in sacred rest

There in your animal dreaming

I will never truly know

What goes on

But just having you close to me

Gladdens my heart

And makes the painful days

Bearable

I am so grateful Jasper

For all you give to me

And all I learn

By being close to you

The Wild Child within

Moon.jpg

This is a post I wrote a long while back.  I have over 80 posts in my drafts file that the critic sanctions.  As a practice of letting things out I am freeing some of my drafts from drafts.. to published:

I find synchronicity really interesting.  Yesterday I went to the local library to get some new audio books and I came across a novel by P C Boyd of The Boy In the Stripped Pyjama’s fame.  It was called Wild Child and was about a boy raised by wolves who is then found and taken back into society and of the struggle and drama that ensues.  I haven’t borrowed it or listened to it yet, but it really intrigued me, this idea of where the human and the animal intersect and how being exiled into the animal world may impact someone, forcing them to develop in certain ways that are not so civilised.

I feel part of my healing is to have embarked upon a relationship with my dog over four years ago.  I haven’t had children and so I haven’t been brought face to face in that kind of relationship with the triggers of my own childhood.  I think deep down I was scared that if I did have children I would pass a lot of damage on and so, many years ago I had several terminations of pregnancy.  Having an animal is not exactly like having a child but there are similarities and I do believe that having such a relationship triggers so much about our own history and conditioning and approach to life. It also raises issues around obedience and control.  I read somewhere recently that owning an animal often forces us to recognise aspects of our shadow, which animals can express for us.

In my own case my childhood was controlled and controlling, when my parents were around but when they were not (which was a lot of the time) I had free reign and because of my deeply inquisitive and passionate nature I would get up to all kinds of mischief.  Due to the emotional repression or the scary outbursts of aggression in my Mum I learned to repress and hide, the acting out of the repressed impulses came a lot later when alcohol entered the picture.

Alcohol freed me from the repression and unloosed the tied up energies.  It made me a real wild child.  It turns out that yesterday at a funeral I ran into an old school friend and she was laughing over how wild our year was.  We were raised in the Catholic education system and I think that wildness was a legacy of all the repression.

There is a certain element of being wild that to my mind has to do with living the life of a spirit where the true fire or essence of ourselves has a chance to shine or burn clean obstructions to that spiritual energy that is divine being.  At times this fire can be dampened and we can be over civilised or have this wildness distorted by conditioning and by a collective culture (most especially those of us born prior to the 1980s),  which does not allow the nature wildness of the soul a free reign to grow and express.

Jungian psychotherapist, Clarissa Pinkola Estes devoted an entire book this subject : Women Who Run with the Wolves.  She speaks much of the soul in this book and most especially the wild aspect of a woman’s soul that can be destroyed or captured by too much civility, repression or conditioning.

The idea of a boy raised by wolves intrigues me if the wolves were a metaphor for a people who lived closer to nature and to the vital aliveness of wildness.  Would chaos reign supreme?   Who knows.  But something about that kind of society appeals to me.  I’m not a big fan of the word or principle of control.  In the words of a recent movie I feel the world would be better if we all allowed A Little Chaos and wildness into our lives.   I would love to see a world where people did not feel the need to apologise for expressing natural emotions.   This post is my attempt to reflect on this wild self a little.

As if my synchronicity today I was reading how control can be one result of not attaching or bonding or forming relationships of trust in childhood. At time I try to over control myself because my natural messy, expressive, passionate self does not live up to what was appreciated by my parents.  I then turn against myself and my own energy and my dog Jasper in carrying the shadow ends up making a mess, pissing on the bathroom mat or engaging in some other mischief.  When I get upset I then see how unreasonable my response is to a small animal that is just acting in line with his instincts or perhaps picking up my own anxiety around being out of control, natural or unrepressed.  I want to allow the wildness out.  To let the spontaneous uncaged part of myself free, to find the beauty and mystery in chaos, accidents and mess, to let nature take its course so that I can breathe a full breath and let go of so much of the fear that has dogged me since childhood.

I have placed the tarot image of the Moon card at the head of this blog.  Many years ago I had a reading with a woman in Sydney.  When this card came up she said to me.  “Inside your deepest soul and spirit you are like this wild wolf baying at the Moon but growing up your mother preferred you to act as a domesticated dog.”  I have never forgotten those words.  At times my conditioning strangles me and I feel myself longing to break free but there is fear, excitement and fear.  Recognising this fact is perhaps all a stage of my healing.