The painful cost of trauma : understanding abandonment depression

Painful trauma has a way of driving us out of our body.  To have lived with an intolerable reality which we are given no help to process or understand is an agony beyond words.  Not to be held, understood and empathised with in our suffering means our neurobiology cannot be soothed, we become flooded with stress chemicals such as cortisol.  Recent studies show that empathy increased the presence of oxytocin in our neurobiological systems.

I know the relief that has come for me in therapy as  have been able to let my own feelings out.  I know the damage that has occurred when, in trying to express said feelings with unsafe others who are defended, blocked or lacking in empathy they have become, not only trapped within, but other feelings have then occurred in reaction such as pain, disappointment and distress.  It was only last week in reading the chapter on abandonment depression in James Masterton’s book on the real self that I became aware of how complex and multilayered the feelings of that state are.  It is within the abandonment depression that we feel suicidal as it contains what Masterton has labelled the six feelings of the psychic apocalypse, very aptly named.  Guilt, rage, panic, fear are four of these feelings.

In recovery those of us who have undergone trauma or abandonment trauma need help to understand our feelings and the courage and strength to bear with or integrate these feelings. Rage is a huge part of what we feel when we meet again invalidation or similar abuse that triggers our earlier abuse.  There is panic when we face the rage which also comes with a great deal of fear, after all when we were younger and abandoned we experienced fear as we were confronted with overpowering situations of stress and distress which we can go on reliving unconsciously for years and had no help with.

In our recovery we begin to regress to these feelings and since such a huge part of so called borderline trauma involves invalidation or lack of support and empathy, when we meet such triggers again, we can regress and find ourselves once again filled with grief and rage.  Our overt reactions will most likely not be understood by those who have no idea of the complexity of feelings we are left trying to contain, process and express as a result.  This why we need in recovery an enlightened witness who is able to show empathy for what the real self had to suffer in childhood which led to the adoption of a false self as a defence against fully feeling the complex feelings of the abandonment depression.

In his book on Complex PTSD Pete Walker deals with the abandonment depression.  He also explains how the inner critic becomes very active at a certain stage in our recovery, shaming us for daring to recover and try to become well.  The inner critic may be comprised of things said to us when young by others who tried to shame or judge us instead of showing empathy or helping us make sense of difficult feelings.  We can shame ourselves in similar ways for our reactions, which comes often from the so called ‘adult’ part of us that won’t accept or allow the child to be the child, vulnerable, tortured at times and deeply confused.

Empathy is so essential as we begin to deal with our inner critic less we start to shame the child all over again in a bid to protect it or protect against the feared rejection of others that we experienced in the past.  It’s a complex process.  We do need to become aware of when we become triggered or start to act out old pain, but shaming ourselves for it won’t work and help us to heal.  Painful feelings need to be lovingly contained and soothed for true healing and integration to happen.

Anger with my therapist leads to deeper reflection

I found myself feeling a lot of anger towards my therapist, Kat yesterday.  The intensity of what my body goes through on any day and any night as a result of having recently had this tooth removed on the back of a traumatic head injury at occurred after a time I so needed family support and was once again denied it at the end of my marriage bites me hugely.  I feel like I have giant incisor like wounds from that bite lodged in my psychic flesh and over the past few nights of the eclipse I have been bang awake between 3 and 5 with all these powerful sensations coursing through my body as my mind has struggled to make sense of the tangled up jigsaw pieces of the past 17 years of struggle to find and make sense of my true feelings and find a centre of self in the messy conglomerate of energies within and without which like wild currents and eddies swirl this way and that, at times setting up huge surge like storms of ‘meness’ and then at other taking me down with the powerful centrifugal undertow of black inky sludge drowning me completely and making it hard to draw a free breath!!!

I am angry that Kat didn’t seem to even remember the piece of writing I actually read to her last Thursday, I had to read it all over again and I was feeling so tired,  she is my fucking therapist why can’t she remember, why doesn’t she take the time to read my blog before I go to a session so she can help me a bit, for fucks sake its only one hour and reading three or four blogs to catch up is exhausting because often when I write the feelings are there simmering away under the surface and only emerge when I read them in session which now that I write it just goes to show if she did read it then that wouldn’t happen so why am I getting so mad?  I still am because I have to work so fucking hard at times and there is so much to get through in session.

I do know why I am angry though.  This is old anger.  I have had fuck all help in my life in the way that really mattered.  I didn’t need money thrown at me, I needed a parent who got me, and was there emotionally not one who consistently abandoned me and then told me I was a late developer when I shared I got into sobriety.  Yeah Mum it was all my fault that I drank in a situation in which so many painful feelings were going down that I didn’t know how to deal with in the absence of support, after a major traumatic injury at 17 that I never got any help to deal with later only to be followed six months later by even less care available due to my sister’s aneurysm occuring with all the complications that followed all at a time I was trying to develop and mature.  Fuck That!!!

Yet even as I write this and consider my last post about the poor fit between a mother and child that leaves the child, lost, confused, split off from her body and feelings and lacking self containment and integrity of being I realise that I must accept my mother went through the same with her mother and so just passed down the wound. The anger is understandable that I feel but it wont help me unless I use it to drive a deeper understanding and also to set boundaries so that I don’t open up and share intimate emotional stuff she is likely to dismiss, deny or be confused about herself.

So its probably not really even my therapist I am really angry with but with the entire sad history of a child who came to not be able to understand, express, or even tolerate her own feelings and then became an addict, only to get sober and be told it was the result of ‘character defects’ which just reinforces the scapegoats idea fixee of being the ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ or damaged one, inherently flawed in some way.

I don’t actually remember in the rooms of AA being given any help to understand my own feelings.  I do remember sitting there in meetings and crying my eyes out as other’s shared from such a damaged split off place, full of self blame and self denigration.  It broke my heart in two.  And then in Al Anon meetings I got the askance looks from those trying to whip alcoholic loved ones into shape with their own self righteousness not getting for a moment the suffering or deeper dilemma the person concerned was going through.   I remember not being hugged after a meeting or reached out to after I shared from a deep well of pain.

I know it probably wasn’t their job but I do feel that once our buried feelings begin to open up in sobriety we need some form of encouragement and affirmation from others to assist us and yet even that hope or demand has hidden deep in the centre of it a hope or demand that is loaded with the sadness and longing of deep needs of long ago for the parent’s unconditional love, understanding, mirroring and acceptance of feelings; needs we never got to fully understand or contain.

In the end, as I was discussing with Kat yesterday, perhaps no one now can give us enough to make up for what we lost or never received in the first place.  Such an empty void or space in the place where we most needed to be met, filled up, affirmed, received  must be acknowledged, deeply understood and grieved.  And then we must meet the challenge of finding ways to fill our lives with the good energy of connection and love, learning how to understand, feel and tolerate all our feelings.   Being or becoming the good loving mother and father to ourselves so that ultimately we don’t end up re-enacting our emptiness, wound or anger on others or keep ourselves lost and trapped inside the deep dark desolate place of that emptiness.

I do wonder now, though, if we end up alone with no life partner and disconnected from so many friends due to the wounds we have carried driving so many away from us in misunderstanding how sweet can life be?  Can we really fill ourselves up from the life font or spring of spirit that was meant to flow within and through us and can that be enough?

Its obvious to me now that the hyper sensitivity that so many of us feel who were not met or received in the needed ways, grew larger in the absence of such love and care.  The burden of our so called ‘over sensitivity’  needs to be understood and we need to make sure that we don’t blame ourselves while at the same time learning to take responsibility for the wound we carry in terms of taking care of ourselves, learning to be open, vulnerable and honest to ask for what we need rather than demand it or get shitty when it doesn’t just come automatically.

We also need an awareness of the real failures of others which came from the limits of their own capacity to be fully embodied themselves, a wound that seems to plague so many in a technologically driven modern society that has grown increasingly removed from the natural and soulful elements in vibrant earthly life.   To begin to feel that love means that we open ourselves body and soul to the soft caress of the sun on skin, to the luxuriant feeling of sea water on flesh, to the sheer love that shines in our dog’s eyes as he runs to great us, to the joy of feeling our free spirit express its bounty through dance, movement and song.

It surely means we open up again to try to find the love and containment we missed from a loving mother’s arms in places and spaces where it does exist.  And it also means that we as ones who have been damaged and know the cause and consequences of such disconnection and damage make a stand in a world where sensitivity and depth is so often not championed.  For the pain our souls have suffered has perhaps highlighted for us how essential such an earthly connection to life, feeling and nature is and to the deeper realisation that the wound to the mother that leads to severing from body and deep feeling is one we end up enacting on the earth and ourselves over and over again if we don’t fully face, feel and speak for the painful and agonising consequences of its loss or absence.

The force that fights love

I just reblogged a post by Monica Cassani which spoke about that sub part of our selves ‘the inner bully’ or ‘inner critic’ who can give us such a hard time as we go about trying to heal ourselves and become stronger on the path of recovery, and when I say stronger I am meaning it in the sense that a strong soul can embrace weakness, deficiencies and other flaws in themselves and set about finding a loving way to deal with those aspects of their being rather than just put on a mask or become filled with bluff or bravado, or get defensive when vulnerability is triggered.

As I read this post and considered my own struggle with my inner bully I thought of the part that fear of love and fear of being loved, embraced, open or vulnerable may play in our lives when we finally do begin to change old ways of being with both ourselves and others from a negative to a more positive slant.  And at the basis of all positive change I think that a healthy attitude of self care and self nurturing as well as self compassion are so very important.   Until we can embrace our weak spots, our past pain, wounds and injuries in self acceptance and love we don’t seem to get very far on the path of healing and we may actually even self sabotage when offered the chance to embrace something good.  Until we can honestly acknowledge our gifts, sensitivities and strengths and our unique spirit in ways even others cannot we also don’t ever get to experience the freedom of a full life.

I notice a lot of things in reading other WordPress posts.  I notice how staying trapped in feelings of self righteous anger at abusers often keeps people stuck and as I read those posts (as well as some of my older posts) I see how such feelings actually hide deep within them a (often unconscious) lack of acceptance, a refusal to be able to let the pain go on some level. T his is understandable as pain can and does run very, very deep if we have suffered abuse and it is a very long and painful process to work this through, acknowledging and embracing all our feelings without being eaten alive by them.

And yet I also feel that as we come to realise that we in fact did not deserve such abuse and as a result now sadly treat ourselves in the very same way that is when we have at our disposal the greatest gift and resource that can be used to help us overcome the negative down spiral that follows a painful history of emotional abandonment and abuse.  We may always stay angry at our abusers and that is fair enough but if our anger implies that in some way we are resisting the pain that we need to feel in order to move through to healing that held in anger can be not only counterproductive but toxic and may block forward movement.

Healing to my mind involves opening the locked door of our heart that wants to stay shut to pain.   We fear inviting that pain in as our deepest fear is that on some level it may destroy us, that we might not survive.   But my experience is that when I open the door of my heart to the full impact of past pain or grief that pain or grief is able to move and to transform on some level.  At that precious instant I fall into a place of deep inward surrender and peace in which I know without any doubt the full impact of my entire emotional pain history and see so clearly its consequences.  As I do a part of me wants to rise up and say ‘NO!”,  This is the cry of my spirit that knew it was deserving of so much more and could have shone so much more brightly and suffered far fewer years in the most painful and lonely isolation, an isolation that kept me imprisoned for well over 14 years.  And this awful truth is a  deeply difficult one to embrace and acknowledge.

And yet, another part of my spirit in some way actually needs to say an unconditional ‘Yes!’ at that moment.  To embrace the pain I didn’t choose in order that I can now let the pain go, knowing that to allow it to define the rest of my life would be to continue to pay too difficult a price which will keep me locked in prison, locked in death, locked in resistance, locked in unbecoming.  And that is now not what my spirit wants anymore!

When I know my spirit to be free, when I look to the positive things in my day, when I count the gifts of this path, compassion, wisdom, insight, deeper psychological knowledge then I find gratitude and that gratitude tends to bring the sunshine out in my soul.  When I look to how I can use my own suffering to help others, when I realise it is a gift to be able to say that I hurt and have suffered, when I no longer need to hide, when I use that suffering to make me reach for the light and love and joy in any day, when I find avenues of self expression and ways to let the energy of love flow out from me and to anchor in those energies of beauty and love all around me, wherever I find them, say in sunshine, nature, good company, music, art, poetry, films, dance then my spirit shines and is no longer as bowed down as it was before by the terrible burden of a lonely painful past full of trauma.

And when I realise that all along the inner bully is just fear and thrives not on life but on attack well then I have a choice to answer that fear with love, compassion, wisdom and insight, and I no longer need to turn my inner bully out on others in the world, criticising them, even if they, due to unconsciousness or nastiness are continuing to try to cause me suffering.  Instead I can just turn to my inner child essence and spirit, take her by the hand and chose to walk away or answer with love, no longer hooked by my own deeply buried anguish into reacting, lashing out or trying to change what is and was never in my power to change and what I am so much better off, walking away from.

We see what we project

I was moved to write a poem yesterday on darkness gathering which I didn’t post then.   It was prompted by reading the post of someone who was struggling with seeing how much hatred, violence and suffering there seems to be in the world. If we are a sensitive person and most especially if we have been abused or neglected seeing so many painful things going on hurts and is a reminder of how challenging human nature can be.  I still think it is important though for us to maintain a sense of hope and a remembering that there is a lot of goodness and heart out there in the world.  When very painful experiences and things happen to us they can absorb all our energy and pin us in the most difficult place where it is difficult to see more than darkness.  Those experiences obscure the light of love and joy and simplicity, all the beauty there is in the world which we no longer see if our focus is always on darkness.

I am midway through the biography of Eva Schloss, the step sister of Anne Frank this week, After Auschwitz.  As a Vienesse Jew, Eva and her mother had to leave their home in Austria when war broke out and the Nazi’s began their campaign of hatred over the Jewish people.  They escaped to Holland and were hidden there by two families but the second family betrayed them to the Nazis and on her 15th birthday Eva and her mother were taken to Auschwitz.

In a remarkable story of survival they managed to live, due to a set of coincidences which saw them both very close to death on several occasions.  Only part of the book concentrates on their time in Auschwitz but most of it is devoted to the issue of how one survives seeing such unspeakable suffering and hatred and lives in the traumatic aftermath without being totally defeated by anger, hatred and resentment.  In the end it is only by actively choosing to embrace the attitude of a survivor rather than a victim that Eva rises above the pain that in the end killed countless others.   It really is a great read for those of us who suffer with resentment and issues of forgiveness.

I tried to write a post yesterday about Nazism as a symbol of the narcissistic negative killing ego gone horribly wrong.  The entire story of Hitler and his attitude to the Jews is related to issues deeply imbedded in humanity in relation to the scapegoating of others and shadow projection.   Jews were resented at a time where many were poor and suffering following the end of the First World War when Germany and the German people were highly penalised for their involvement in that war by the Treat of Versailles.  The hatred shown towards them meant that people could download their own painful feelings onto a scapegoat people and send them to extermination and exile.  Its a repeating theme in history with archetypal and mythical themes : the way darkness is projected and how pain and suffering then end up breading more pain and suffering in an endless feedback loop that then recycles over and over without end.  And it seems that the only way out in the end is through forgiveness, empathy and understanding.

I titled this post ‘we see what we project’ to address this issue but I guess in a way a better title may have been we see what we have experienced and we act out of that experience and often unconsciously react out of those experience at least until we become more conscious of the seeds we learned to sow as a result of what we went through.  There comes a time when we get to see what the cost of our projections and colouring of the world is and what plants grow out of those seeds.  Then we get to see that there comes a time when there may be another way or looking or projecting.  We then get to see that in the end we do have a choice in how we choose to react and respond out of our suffering.  We never fully escape suffering and some of us have a huge dose of it, but those of us who do often birth deep wisdom out of such suffering.

Along with the Buddha I do not believe there will ever come a time when painful things no longer happen.  Hatred, violence and destruction will always be a part of our human experience, but the degree of our suffering does in some way depend on where and how strongly we place our focus on destruction or creation, on love or fear.  That is not to imply that we ever get beyond pain but we can learn to embrace that pain and those who cause it tenderly and gently, without unnecessary harsh defences which only end up causing us more pain.

In the end much also depends on where we place our focus, on fear or on love, on hatred and holding on or on letting go and surrender of hate in time.  The choice is up to us.  We may never be able to turn blind eye to our own or another’s suffering and we should do all in our power to change it if we can, but if not let us place our focus on what love we can give to ourselves, to others and to a hurting world that so badly needs our wisdom, sensitivity and care.

Mars Chiron : awakening old wounds for healing and care

Chiron

Apologies to those who get sidelined by astrological symbolism, but when I read the monthly astrology on Lua Astrology’s website last night where astrologer Lea Whitehorse spoke of the Mars Chiron square to become exact on June 2, suddenly the deep pain I was in over the weekend made sense.  Prior to this we have  also  been experiencing Mars opposite Saturn which is not the easiest of transits.  Mars represents our self assertion or self expression, the soul desire for forward movement and action from heartfelt or imperative need and when it meets Saturn we experience deep frustrations, blocks or no go areas, alternatively we may have to slow down, mature and look for different options and so adjust our desires and need for movement or expression.  Its painful.

I have the aspect in my birth chart and I can tell you that since I have been young trying to express and go after what my soul and heart desires has been problematic to the degree that in childhood I began to subvert my true needs and desires.   I also have Moon with Mars and Saturn and we were raised in a very duty bound house when I was growing up.  Life was intensely serious, my mother was either elsewise engaged and trying to keep everything running perfectly or overworking and was then exhausted to the point any fun or mess or natural chaos caused an angry reaction or was a drain.  My parents fun times involved a lot of older adults and drinking or going out on the boat which I abhorred.  I was happiest on the beach with my surfboard growing up.

This authoritarian, dogged, do the right thing side of me often squashes the fun part.  My ‘fun’ later in life involved alcohol and drugs and these are not enriching pass times, they drain life and energy and leave one with a hangover and even more disconnected, or at least they did in my case.  So it is interesting that this aspect coincided with getting together with old drinking buddies from that time of my life and being faced with a huge brick wall of deep pain and hurt from the past.  I opened up my wound with them late on Friday night shortly before we were due to go home when they were already on about their 6th glass of champagne.

I know I am so lucky to be sober.  I was in deep pain over the weekend but I did my best to sit with it and feel it and affirm myself for feeling it.   The Chiron wounding part though is that it brought back to me the ways I have felt imprisoned or caged by a dark past I am trying my best to break free of.  In her commentary on this aspect currently Lea Whitehorse, UK based astrologer made the point that being opened to wounds at this time would draw our attention to the need for better self protective boundaries.  This rang true for me and dovetailed with what I wrote yesterday in one of my posts.

Chiron was a centaur in mythology who got wounded in the Achilles heel with by a poisoned arrow left lying around in the Hydra’s den after one of the Hydra’s battles, probably with the Gorgon.  The poison on the arrow going into Chiron in a vulnerable place (and heels or ankles ground our feet and contain tendons that help us to move forward or get away from damaging situations) relates on a psychological level to wounds we encounter by accident or just in the course of life that may leave a poison inside us or paralyse forward movement and faith in life and goodness.  We do not necessarily bring them on ourselves (though we often make them worse by the way we react).  In the myth Chiron’s wound is incurable and acts as a wisdom or insight builder into internal wounds, difficulties, challenges and psychology.  Chiron spends a lot of time helping others and birthing creative visions from the wounds but he never heals and if he did, come to think of it his purpose would be done.

So reflecting on it Chiron Mars times bring those times when we face deep wounds or watch them re-enacted and have to learn strategies to be with them in ways that don’t make the poison or pain inside worse.  Then yesterday when I wrote a little post about the pleasure of finding myself in a lovely present moment free of body and soul pain which I did not post but will today, I was thinking about Echardt Tolle’s concept  of the pain body and how that related to how I was feeling over the weekend.  The wound inside me from the past and due to 5 broken relationships could possibly be healed or eased in a new one, but the pain of aloneness on some of the dark days is hard when I don’t sit with my wounds and be my own best friend, finding ways to self soothe and come to think of it I really experience a paralysed ankle on those days when getting out can in fact be a necessary distraction that helps ease the pain for a time.

Today as yesterday the sun is streaming through windows on a very cold winter morning while my icy numb fingers type.  I find the Sun so healing and warming, it opens up and expands my being and my PTSD is very much about shock, removal, disconnection, dissociation and contract.  The warming power of the Sun counteracts this and lets me open myself more, it counters my Mars Saturn tendency to bite down hard on difficulties and pain.  Earlier today I found myself re-experiencing the anger towards this particular ‘friend’ who many years ago when I was really struggling kicked me out of her party as she had an issue with the guy I was dating at the time.  At that particular point I was in such grief over the loss of my father and was a long, long way from home.   I was very reticent about going to the dinner last week and my inner child was giving me curry over it this morning.

Talking about self protection and Chiron wounds also brings to mind the need we who are traumatised must learn to exercise around discriminating those who are and are not healthy to share our wounds with, when exactly do we open up?  How do we cope with some of the wounding things others who don’t have a clue about trauma and its deep impact say  to us?  How do we deal with the pain body when it becomes very active and preys upon us with its negative thoughts or chains of wounded logic?  How can we release and express our wounds in ways that are not retraumatising for ourselves or others, in way which makes them sources of creative insight?

This morning an idea came to me ‘the juice of the wound’.  In the myth the wounded arrow contains poison and that in itself is a kind of ‘juice’ with certain affects upon us.  That poison or ‘juice’ can and does lodge deep in our emotional bodies, it can immobilise or paralyse it.  Finding a way to ‘let’ it or dispel it seems essential as we don’t want to just stew in it always in a deeply painful way, and yet some kind of ‘stewing’ gives birth to art and poetry.  Juice and stewing images bring to mind the idea of alchemy or cooking our instinctual energies that run amuck or go awry.  It was something Carl Jung devoted a lot of time towards exploring with alchemical images such as those of Lion’s with their paws cut off being roasted in vessels over a fire which a kind of therapeutical or alchemical image for deep wounded healing processes.

Speaking of roasting Lions, last night I watched some of Madonna’s Rebel Heart concert on television.  I am not a huge Madonna fan but I was taken with the anger she was expressing and the hurt that formed the basis of two of her more recent songs Heartbreak City and Living in Love, as a Sun Sign Leo she expressed her angst and hurt in a very dramatic way.  The second song is full of positive lines about how as hurt as she has been she will not allow the hurt to poison her, it was an interesting case of synchronicity after just reading about the Chiron Mars Saturn transits of late.  We all go through pain, we all suffer and some of us do good work with the wounds.  We have our days when they consume us entirely.  The poison runs around our systems and we can feel paralysed or wired, on fire with anger and outrage or flooded and drowned in grief, these are all very human responses to what it is to be a soul that can suffer in the instinctual emotional part of us but we are then left with the outflow or outfall to deal with.  What we do with it I guess in the end speaks a lot about who we are and the attitude we take, after the flood or fire has passed or we have passed through it.  Many of us try to use our wounds to help others. By sharing our pain and suffering we connect to each other and are helped in some small way to feel less alone, in pouring out our experience or by sharing another’s we find the spot where we connect and through expressing and witnessing vulnerability become empowered.

Healer

 

My body needs love and quiet attention.

Body 2.png

It seems to me that so often in my life I have left my body behind.  I have let my head get carried away with ideas and reactions to things and I have taken certain decisions or just been run, run, run by an inner agenda with who knows what deep conditioning imprints to do, do, do, that at times I have just barrelled on with something and in the depths my heart or body has been crying out to me “please don’t”!  And I wept so deeply today with the realisation of how much this has hurt my body.

My body was also hurt by something I read this week in a spiritual book which said the body is just basically dust and that the soul is the real centre of us.  I don’t know if I really agree with this, I believe our soul lives in our body and expresses so much through our bodies.  I also feel that a lot of modern western culture is geared towards disconnecting us from our bodies and teaching us to split off our heads from our hearts.  In a powerful book based on a Jungian Myth of Ivan and the Baba Yaga I read many years ago there was a symbolic image of this, of how we get pinned through the neck and cut off feeling and thinking at some point in our conditioning.

Healing may require a drawn out dark night of the soul as surreptitiously the body and soul and heart within us deep inside tries to gain the attention of the mind.  I feel that if we switch off or disconnect for too long the cost is illness or chronic pain of some kind, an indication the true message has gone mute and been deeply buried and hidden.

My body reacts all over the place these days.  I am trying to rebuild a stronger connection with it and I am noticing that I get some kind of backlash when I am not listening or my attention is pulled away by oughts or shoulds, things my soul doesn’t really need but that I have been conditioned to think or believe I need when I really don’t.

Today I had one of those miraculous times where I felt my body so deeply.  I was aware of how much my body has gone through in my life.  I must say I was crying deeply and my body was talking to me telling me how much it needs my love and attention these days.

I had a struggle with going to therapy yesterday.  I was happily ensconced at home writing and the last thing I really felt like doing was having to drive over to see my therapist.  I don’t know if part of me was trying to avoid pain as lately so much has been coming up about the past and what I have lost or what I did not get to complete or fully live due to the deep responsibility I felt to be close to my family.  Now I am getting older I am seeing more clearly lost potentials, times when I decided for others rather than for myself.  And yesterday after reading out my poem Goodbye to the Meadows I was grieving again so deeply for all that was lost.  I then had a discussion with Katina how I felt myself to be a coward for not being able to make it over in the UK on two further attempts.  She just looked at me with such love and told me how wrong she thought I was.  She was explaining to me how my past wounds at critical developmental points in my life left me so ill equipped and reminding me of the level of traumas I endured from age 17 to 26.   We went over the critical injuries and wounds of my later addiction too.  There is just a hell of a lot of sadness and pain there and it has taken me quite some years to unpack in therapy.

I wept a lot with what Katina said.  I felt such a deep release.  I felt that loving, wise, unconditional acceptance of someone who REALLY SAW ME and wasn’t forcing me forward with unrealistic expectations or agendas that take zilch account of who I really am, what I have been through and how I have suffered and I saw in a moment of stark clarity how hard I am on myself.

It was then hard to leave session.  Funny the way life is and the part psychic defences play in trying to keep us safe or even keep us from healing or facing things, really.  I noticed when I got home I crammed my self full of snacks, I had this voracious hunger.  I see it as an expression of what comes up after I face all the pain, of the hungry life energy for a happy expressive life that I didn’t get to live and is now kicking around inside me longing to be set free.  I did an energetic dance to the INXS song Devil Inside.  I shared my post about repression and criticism with Katina as well yesterday and that song is really putting a finger up to my repressive Catholic education.

Today my body felt so tired, I slept deeply and it was a slow move to get out of bed this morning.  I usually push myself on but today I just can’t seem to.  Its important for me to write about what went down yesterday.  I need to get it out there in black and white.

I know I am on the midlife journey of laying the old corpses and ghosts of my life to rest.  I love that metaphor which is one that Murray Stein uses in his book on midlife.  There is a protracted grieving that can take place at this time.  I know I hit into all of this the year I turned 40 which was back in 2002.   Jung believed in the second half of life we work to make meaning of what went on in the first and I do think for those of us who have known a lot of trauma this is when the shit really starts to hit the fan, if we have had to repress huge parts of our life and self and energy at this time they return with a vengeance needing to be heard, but by that time our bodies may have taken such a toll due to trauma, we may end up with chronic pain or chronic illness which in a way may be the way our body tries to vocalise deep imprints and distress.

My body showed me today that I need to put it as the priority in my life at present.  I realised in the midst of writing a poem yesterday how powerfully I have been conditioned to look outside of myself for answers and healing but the truth is that if I can get still enough and quite enough and look within and pray and wait for answers they do emerge from deep within my body which is the temple of my soul.  My heart, my arms, my legs, my feet can all talk to me, they may be crying out to be heard.   Please listen was the deepest message I got from my body today, I also had a sense as I did yesterday that all I really need comes from within, not that I wont choose to engage outside in the world, but only that there is a kind of sweet completeness that only comes when I engage from deep within.   There I may hear the call to go outward for no man is an island but if I am not deeply connected to myself I am most certainly not fully available for any other connection or relationship in my life.  I know its probably been said a lot but love must surely start with the self and with this precious body we have been given to house our precious soul

 

Soothing pain : some reflections on being with unhealed wounds.

Quality

I have shared about the wounded healer on my blog before.  I resonate with this energy, not so much because I see myself as a healer but more because as I go further along or deep into my path I am aware of the wounds that I have carried and yesterday when I finally connected with my Mum I was aware of her wound as well and how painful she finds it to acknowledge that her wounds wounded me.    There was a point there where I got the “I wish you could just forget it and put it all behind you speech”, at this point there was no anger in me I truly felt powerless over everything and I must say at this point when it got very intense in our chat I was just praying to get my own will out of the way.   And when I understand things more deeply I try to take as much responsibility as I can for my part in things because I see the way that I have reacted out of my wounds in the past, when I was not fully conscious has caused me and other people pain.  So in a way I am no different to my Mum, we have both struggled and I have struggled so much to separate.

I felt such enormous compassion for my Mum yesterday.  We were also talking about my Dad’s background and the deep poverty he came out of.  His mother was left alone with 5 children between the ages of 12 and 4 when my grandfather died.  Dad’s mother had to go and scrub the church floor and she had no childminder so the kids had to go with her.  I know part of the reason my Dad left Holland at 18 was to escape the poverty and hardship, as the eldest he had a lot of pressure on him, and Mum has told me in later years he hated Holland as he found it restrictive and confining.   My own brother seeks emotional distance in a similar way to my Dad and his eldest son also lives 5 minutes from us but chooses to have little contact as he is all business, business, business.  It breaks my Mum’s heart and I wish my nephew could extend himself beyond his own blinkered world to reach out to my Mum at times.  But all of this is my mother’s wound and in many ways is also related to my father’s wound which has dogged us all in many ways.

Mum isn’t a bitter person and yesterday she told me how she just accepts this is the way it is (regarding her grandson).   We are also lucky as my older sister’s children do reach out to us both a lot and have more of an emotional connection.  However in the case of my brother’s children is painful to see that these emotional distance patterns keep repeating.  Its the wound that doesn’t really ever go away and the most any of us can do is try to live with peace in the midst of it and not focus on it too much.

And this is pretty much what came out of my talk with Mum yesterday.  We both broke down and Mum told me she feels she did the best she could struggling with all that she did after my father died.  I know this but I also have my own wounds and I am seeing more and more I need to keep remembering to seek acknowledgement elsewhere as well as deep within, at the same time as finding ways to live in peace with the deep, deep sadness I carry in my heart at times.

Today I just felt so weary.  I started the day as positively as I could by going for a lovely long walk.  Jasper and I are exploring a gorgeous neighbourhood area that has lots of lovely pathways that lead here and there through grassed areas and autumn colour, the scenery was lovely but we were alone.  We then went to the park and sat for a while. I then got a text from a girl who I accidentally backed into on Saturday afternoon.  I was quiet emotional after leaving my sister and didn’t look properly as I was leaving the carpark and I did a little damage to her car.  She was annoyed at first but when I apologised she treated me so kindly, I really was grateful but when her text came this morning while we were at the park I just broke down about it.   Things around me so often fall apart and I feel so shell shocked some days that I almost feel I am bit autistic.  Its probably not that at all, I think part of it is I find it difficult at times to relax because often when I do trauma symptoms can ark up.

Anyway the insurers will handle everything and there is no reason to stress.  To be honest I am trying not to stress about anything today.  All my autumn leaves are nearly down and unlike in past years I am not rushing to clear them up.  I do a little each day and the gardener will come later in the week to clear the others.  This for me is a huge step and its being kinder to myself.

And I think what came out of yesterdays talk with Mum was that we both really do love each other and wish for our final years together to be peaceful.   I see how hard Mum has tried to compensate in financial ways because she doesn’t really know how to support well emotionally due to her own background of emotional neglect.   I often see her as a little girl who had to cope with so much and be so stoic and strong.  I see the same qualities in my sister and am filled with more compassion for her these days.  Its tough to have a childhood in which you didn’t learn how to deal with emotions.  And we have the alcoholism background in our history and reading adult child literature about the affects is helping me to understand how adult children and adult grandchildren struggle with empathy, emotional understanding and expression in relationship deepens my understanding.  It helps me to realise that defects or deficiencies are not really anyone’s fault, they all came out of unhealed wounds passed down, but that we can and do have a choice to take responsibility for educating ourselves and finding better ways to express, accept and empathise with ourselves and others.  If we cannot get that understanding and empathy in our family of origins (and we will not, so often) we really need to look elsewhere.

Finding ways to soothe myself when I encounter the desolate places inside is so important these days.  I saw after talking to Mum how much my own tendency to isolate has made her life and mine all the more difficult.  Not being responded to with empathy makes one withdraw even more and then the wounds go deep inside.  Then wounds just repeat and become a closed feedback loop that leads nowhere with hurt and pain just causing more hurt and pain.   To be honest I am sick to death of it.  I want something different.

The wounds are there but I don’t have to keep stirring them up, in some way I need to find ways to let the muddy water settle and the pain fall to the bottom of the glass or jar of my soul like sediment so that I can see my way more clearly to peace.  And peace for me only comes when I have attitude of calm, acceptance and love towards my wounds and the wounds of others.

Today when I was really sad at the park I just sat with myself while I cried and said these words over and over “It’s going to be okay,  I am with you, I will never leave you, its okay to feel, its okay to let go of your grief”.  Self soothing, self witnessing, self compassion, these attitudes are the one’s I most need to express in order to soothe the hurting place inside that can so often ark up.  When this is done and I feel release then my soul is free to look for things that feed me rather than starve me.

And I also know that inner pain is not the whole of me.  I am just facing the true trauma history of my past at present.  There are so many things that happened to me over years that I could not change.  I also never learned to really put up strong protective defences against painful unhealthy things.  There were times in the past when I could have chosen for my own life, but I did not really know how to do that without reaching outside of me.

Now I am seeing that in order to grow I have to grow up.  I have to bear what has happened with as much strength and tenderness as I can, and there are times I have to be alone in order to feel the truth of and validate my authentic heart, letting go of what wounds or hurts to embrace a less painful future.