You carried (all you bore in silence)

You carried a huge burden

I am so sorry that my wounding

Blinded me to this before

It was your anger I felt sadly

Landing upon me like a brand

From a hot poker held for a long time captive inside

A burning furnace

And when your lance landed on me

With that terrible frisson

The pain was

So very far

From personal

I see that now

If you are now

The incacerated one

The ‘identified patient’

What role did I play?

Now that pain has made me see and feel it all more deeply

I always recall that healing dream

You and I alone

Walking the length of that stormy windswept beach

Our father loved

Seeing the beached whale

You turning toward me with eyes like oceans

Full to the brim with tears

Saying the words

‘The whales are such sad creatures’

To know now how they shocked and medicated you

Makes it seem

The most horrendous aberration

I had to walk away

But there is never a day

I do not hold the awareness of it all

So deep inside of my heart

And that is why

I always pray for you

That one day you will come to know

The deeper truth

Of all you bore in silence

For the collective

We had nowhere to go with the pain and the wounds ran deep

Reading Marian Keyes latest novel Again, Rachel is quite triggering for me.. For those who do not know Irish writer, Marian struggled with addiction and got sober around a similar time to me, I came across the book at Target but did not buy it then and got home to hear her interviewed on our Radio National book program about 4 Mondays ago following therapy. T

The lead character Rachel must be based loosely on Marian’s own life and family and in it Rachel is an addiction counseller working in a facility with a smaller amount of sobriety to Marian.. In the piece I just read a client begins to tap into and unload some of her abandonment trauma in group therapy and in the novel Rachel has to shut that down to continue the deeper feeling work one to one.. It moved me a lot as it had to do with a young pregnancy and abuse and abandonment. This same thing happened to me (with the exception my Dad was not abusive but emotionally disengaged) but when Mum found out I was sleeping with that boyfriend I fell pregnant too at the age of 21 a month or so before, she would not talk to me for days so when I found out I was having his baby I could not go to her, she screamed and yelled at me that day and told me she was ashamed of me.

I fell pregnant twice to him and he abandoned me miles from home with the first pregnancy only I did not know I was pregnant at the time, but Dad was very upset he and Mum had to wire me money for a train ticket home as this guy, Jim drove off leaving me with nothing at all. When we got back together Dad must have been really worried as he ended up getting sick the next year having already gone through all of the trauma of me and my older sister nearly dying in 1979 and 1980. Interesting this is all coming up as the Full Moon at 23 degrees in Libra opposing the Sun in Aries had set off my father’s painful Venus in Libra opposite Chiron in Aries square to Pluto in Cancer (Dad was born in 1920.) I just read the following about Chiron in Aries and both Mum and Dad had it and it has to do with wounds of feeling worthless.

If you have Chiron in Aries, it means the core of your pain comes from a feeling of worthlessness. Very often you carry the pressure of being the best you can be.

(People with this placement :

They tend to avoid talking about their pain at all costs, which is why it is quite hard to tap into the healing gifts of Chiron in Aries.

Source : TF20S

Reading this makes me realize that for addicts, just as Gabor Mate says there is no tough love, the abandonments we go through are real and our younger life of trauma often may remain hidden, out acting out behavior becomes problematic for others who end up labelling us as crazy.. but then as Alain de Botton points out, who does not suffer from some kind of wounding or craziness in the emotionally ignorant world.

For me I never got into treatment, I did it all alone apart from attending AA for over 8 years almost daily at first and then three or so times a week, before Jonathan and I went overseas and I started one to one therapy.

I am glad now that my pain and tears are not as great.. I have unpacked a lot of it over the past 23 years since then, but at times I can still get the spins, lately its about someone pulling me in to try and help him and his daughter who is sick.. I cannot afford it and he chose to be away from her after her mother died but I cannot help but think its all magnetic attraction, after all I was sent away so many times and after Dad died I had no one to speak to of anything, it got acted out in drinking and often lashing out with boyfriends which they could never understand and so left me.

Even in sobriety marriage was difficult trying to feel my feelings, which were not seen as acceptable. I have a post to share after this one prompted by Cherie White about how bullies shut down, shame, smear and gaslight targets but in an alexythymic culture its the ones who are sensitive and feel that so often get disparaged.

All I know today is that the abandonment i lived through in my life was intense.. I have not made it up.. I saw the heavy cost in my family too of two sisters being medicated rather than addressing feelings.. Yes, its sad at Easter to have no contact with anyone but in a way it feels safer and better. At least on my own I am free to be a mess and to feel if I need to, but today there have been no tears only a lot of anxiety dancing. Still I am alive even as it draws closer the anniversary of losing Judith my sixteen year older sister. The tears have gone now, what just lives on is the unadulterated recognition of how hard it was for all of us girls to be feeling, vulnerable woman in a deeply feminine wounded world.

Separating past from present

Past abandonment trauma has a way of poisoning our life from the inside.. When others reach out to us,at times we can be triggered, not feeling seen or validated we may react from deep within that tender and aching wound.. Before we know it the other party has pulled back startled, perhaps gone silent (hopefully has not tried to attack us more but that can sadly happen too.) I had a touch of this yesterday with someone I have connected to over past weeks via Instagram.. He tried to fix me with his comments and then used a word that I actually abhor ‘should’ in a sentence, never mind that that word ignored the validity of what I was feeling and my windows of tolerance and capacity to cope. I did not know how to reply at first so I simply said, I am human and I have read that Joseph Campbell once said if any word would be best to be erased from our human vocabulary it is the word ‘should’ the person replied back that I seemed to be hurt and so I listed for him some of the traumas I witnessed or was subject to since 2004.. that shut him up… and of course I would be lying if I said my fear of abandonment was not triggered but it could not unsettle me enough to say anything more.. I feel proud of this today.. I managed to hold onto myself.

Holding onto our trauma reality and not diminishing or discounting it is not easy with some people who can never have clue about how it feels. That said there is a time to separate past trauma from the present moment in which it can often bleed through for those of us with high level abandonment, emotional neglect or abuse trauma.

By divine happenstance after praying this morning I opened my Tian Dayton reader to this page and meditation.. I hope it resonates for you.

Separating Past from Present

Today I can take care of myself in the present. I can identify feelings as they come up and separate them – those that belong to the past and those that belong to the present. If they belong to the past I will not make them about my life today but will instead understand that something current has triggered them. The enormity of my response it probably not about what is going on right now. If I make it about my present, my life will quickly feel overwhelming and unmanageable. I will seek help from people and situations that are designed to assist me and I will separate what about today from what is about yesterday.

I do not make my present about my past

Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as bird from the hand of the fowler.

Proverbs 6:5

Grateful to be alive

Even though some days living can feel crushing I am still grateful to be alive, especially on Saturdays.. In the letter Mum sent to me in 2001 that I found and read in therapy this week, she mentioned how painful the effect of my accident was on her and Dad but she said she could not have ever imagined how hard it was for me.. I think it also must have had an effect on my sister who has gone through so much, especially considering the fact that our other sister almost died, less than 6 months later and hovered for a long time in a state of suspension in a coma.. So the period of September to late February is fraught with a lot of past resonances that in terms of the spiral vortex of hidden inner life can still manage to have an impact.

There has been no word at all from my nephew about my sister.. I have not called either. I have just pulled back.. I know this may not be good but I just don’t want to do or say the ‘wrong’ thing and it is so hard to know what the ‘right’ thing is anyway and even writing those two words is pretty dualistic and black and white which is the way it can go when I get caught up on the mental level.. Maybe the truer statement is that, at this time I need all my own love and care to keep my own mental and physical health on an even keep. That is why lately just getting into my body and out of my head and negative or worrying thoughts seems essential and when trauma imprints call I just have to notice and anchor into the ‘Now’. Success with that today… I managed to stay upright after both breakfast and lunch today when the head neck lower back trauma cascade hit.. I am doing some of the vagal nerve exercises too that I found on line and that is helping me too…

My therapist thinks part of me.. a huge part did dissociate after that 1979 trauma and in 1981 I took myself away but got emotionally overwhelmed and in a difficult relationship. That is why, in 1982, when I pleaded with Dad to let me go back to my teaching degree it hit extra hard when he blocked that avenue alienating me from a lot of my good friends I had at the Canberra College of Education.. Possibly this kind of severing was a huge part of the reason why I later in life found it hard to feel like I ‘belonged’ and often took myself away or kept up a great distance from old connections. Luckily since coming back to my home town in 2011 I have been able to restores some of these..

As I see it any way so much goes silent in trauma and then gets displaced onto relationships or projections or appears as myriad mysterious bodily symptoms as well as profound push pull dynamics in attachment.. Lately I see how, as soon as I long to attach, I can fear and pull back and not being ‘got’ or seen can be a big trigger. What I began to realize only very recently is that it is not how the other person is reacting so much that is the problem but what that echoes for me of a past in terms of a flashback., when I can get a handle on that I can bring myself into present time and feel more grounded and ‘safe.’

Today maybe I felt safer in my body.. I was more self supportive and self loving when the shit hit the fan with Scott last night and this next demand for money.. I did not get that huge abandonment cascade of anxiety, I held myself and told myself I am safe.. I can cope alone and that I do not have to give away myself to be related to anyone.. I used to do that a lot. (give my self away or bury my painful feelings just to stay related). Then you get those who shame dump you or try to say you are being selfish for not doing things they need, that also can be a difficult issue to figure out for some of us with high levels of emotional confusion, alexithymia or poor ego boundaries..

Being able to manage these things does make it easier too, to want to live and feel gratitude for a life that comes with a deeper inner intuitive connection to our authentic self not so grounded or fed on toxic shame…. When we know somewhere deep down inside we are not getting what we need and are settling in order to keep the peace that can be damaging for both parties especially if we use various philosophies to deny the truth.. there seems to be a lot of that in our society.. platitudes people spout calling on some text or other that actually can derail us. What really is needed instead is for us to become even stronger in our own inner knowing as well as our connection to what others have called the higher self or loving inner parents, when those are no longer attacking us from within as much it becomes far more likely we will begin to feel more of the positive feelings in life that come with knowing our own heart, mind body and soul well and trusting that we really can and do have the answers to what helps and hurts us more under conscious control or encompassed by conscious present time awareness.

On love and anger : some thoughts

It seems love and anger can not only coexist but have a big effect on each other, for if we loved and longed for love we may feel hurt and angry when it is not returned, at least not in the way that made sense for us.

I have not read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman but I know for some of us time is one of the important ones.. My parents didn’t have a lot of time for me, often their focus was elsewhere and maybe I should be ‘over’ it by now but my heart can only leap for joy when a family member or anyone else calls or wants to spend time with me as sometimes that wound of being alone does smart, or maybe it only began to make its true presents felt to my conscious mind through the work I have been doing in therapy over past years.

This morning for some reason after reading all of those chapters on anger in John Lees book (as he addresses how few therapists can actually help us work on this issue due to not having done their own anger work) I woke thinking of the six therapists I went through after returning to my home town and before connecting with Katina in January 2016,… I was sent to Kat as my then therapist Rae went on a break and it was long break, when Kat and I connected I just felt her to be more engaged and warm, so after Rae got back from holiday I told her I wanted to make a change.. Kat has never kept me waiting, was always there to open the door and then walk me out to the top of the stairs and smile and wave at me as went back down them to my car. To someone like me with that level of attachment wounding this did mean a lot and one of my first therapists Brian Hunt once told me “Deb when you look for a therapist it needs to be someone who is freely available most of the time” I thank God for that advice.. Attachment wounds can only really begin to heal or become less painful if we are connected to and shown enough understanding and empathy so that we can then internalize that and then begin to show it to ourselves as adults.

Thinking of my other therapist, Anna Karamuel was a lovely Dutch therapist i managed to connect to shortly after returning to Canberra in 2011 a good friend of my sister recommended her as she went to see Anna after her own difficult relationship ended, but Anna was not available for twice weekly sessions. In time I tried several other therapists. One, a somatic therapist and I came to loggerheads when she tried to come too close to me in a body work session I just got triggered and lashed out.. She gave me a very cold hard look and said to me “you can leave if you want” all I could do was cry in shock as I retreated back to the couch I would sit on during other sessions we did not do on the floor body work.. Things fell apart rapidly after that.

I then went to see a lady called Christine Wild, that went okay but when my sister Judy died she was so strict, she would not allow me time to go with my Mum to clean out my sister’s room in the care home where she had been resident since 2003 and this sadly ended our relationship.. When ever my Mum was ill or take into emergency hospital care, Kat would always understand my need to be there for her was, at that time, more important than my own therapy, at least for a short while.

I was listening to a radio program today on conflict and discord in relationships and also on the issue of repair, it involved two aboriginal actresses playing a part in a new drama on racial issues, one of them intelligently said that she felt sometimes important relationships need to fracture so they can come back together in a new and more deeply intimate way.. That made sense to me. It is understood in Al Anon that those of us affected by alcoholism so often will cut off from people when hurt, that is fair enough, as we may need to self protect for a time but there is also the issue that we are all different, that we all come to relationships with different styles and energies and pasts and that sometimes these may clash and that a good relationship allows us a place to have conflict and so learn more from and about each other.

When I think of my relationship with Scott lately I think of how we have had to negotiate a number of difficult issues of trust, dependency, suspicion, anger and also longing.. Somehow the friendship we have developed between us over past years has survived even as I have now had to set limits on over giving to him.

Hopefully anger can find a place in our relationships if we can find a healthy way to express it.. Taking the risk of expressing my anger over certain issues to family members earlier in the month does seem to have made things much better between us.. Much as my sister keeps her own anger under wraps she has really shown compassion to me in mine, lately.. For that I am grateful.

Gary Chapman has actually also written another book on anger.. In it he speaks about giving others the opportunity to express angry feeling with and to us and from us to them.. How well we are responded to will make or break the relationship. For me, with huge fears about anger, I have always been scared the expression of it would lead to an ultimate rupture.. but this is not always the case and come to think of it if anger and grief are deeply linked then so are anger and love, when what we long for is withheld me may rage and as John Lee pointed out in that writing I shared yesterday under that rage may be old feelings of emotional abandonment surrounding our younger longing to be loved..

The depth of the hole we feel (often spoken of in recovery circles as ‘the hole in the soul’) will be a massive indicator of where our longings and wounds lay.. And it will be hurt in this situation not to be responded to with empathy even at the same time as we come over time to know that (as an emotionally mature adult) we can not always expect this from another separate human being,

The link between fear and anger and boundaries

Reading about how overwhelming an experience fear can be for our Inner Child when no loving adult shows up within us is making me think a lot today.. Apparently when we disconnect from that fear or anxiety and have trouble managing it by staying grounded in the now, having good boundaries and taking care of any distress our Inner Child feels by not projecting it or turning it into anger then our reactions can become extremely problematic. Also, reading up about the neurobiology of trauma and faulty attunement a lot of my reactions and difficulties both connecting and making sense of my emotions now make sense to me. I am beginning to understand why my own feelings of fear became too large to manage and that at times I did abandon my Inner Child in very unhealthy ways. And I do think when I spun out overseas in 2001 prior to giving my first presentation on my course about psychological astrology multiple fears were playing a huge part, that said I had a lot more to learn about my inner life, I may not have learned on that course or by coming back home..

In addition, a balanced sense of what is and is not within our power or control can be difficult at times, especially if as kids we got made responsible or had to assume responsibilities which, at that stage of development, were beyond us. In fact in discussing Sun Saturn aspects in one lecture on that course astrologer Lynn Bell stated that many with these aspects do go through that experience due to traumas, often due to outside collective traumas as well such as war, famine, illness, or loss of a parent.. Also in larger families the burden of sibling care may fall to older siblings if the parents are not physically and emotionally available or are dead or sick or addicted to something, that also sets up complications around boundaries..

At the moment it sometimes feels I am stepping into a parenting role with my sister.. Spending time with her last night has made me realise how confused she feels about what she needs and I am also finding I had bursts and rushes of anger around her coming up half way through the night.. I did all I could to make it a good night.. After the meal I lit a fire and I put on music she could watch on You Tube but when I asked her what she would like to watch she did not know, so I just put on some concert performances from various artists like Sade, George Michael, Lionel Richie, Smoky Robinson, Daryl Hall and Fleetwood Mac.. my sister absorbed all of this and was grateful. I noticed I had a fear of things not being up to her standards and that she told Jasper that he smelled when I do not think he did.. As it was he didn’t want to be near to her when she tried to pat him he barked at her and jumped away. I just watched this as I know animals will only come to you if they feel comfortable and it is so important not to overwhelm them, maybe he was carrying a bit of anger at her for me I just do not know but he did jump up on the lounge to be near her later on when we were both more relaxed.

The link between fear and anger is an interesting one to me.. that is why I have to do work on not getting angry about things I cannot control while listening deep within to when part of me feels angry at taking on the burdens of others and what may be the underlying fears driving it : not feeling good enough fear of rejection, fear for the other person’s healthy or life.. I also read something very good about being accused of selfishness written by Margaret Paul. Often a crazy making partner will accuse us of this if we do not do something they want us to do, we may take that as a sign of rejection of our Inner Child but its up to us to give our child the messages that she or he is okay and allowed to do what she wants and needs (without any intent to harm) even if others do not like it or get angry at us for not doing want they want us to do and vice versa..

The point is this : are we caring about how they feel (or vice versa) or is it all about our needs? This can be a difficult boundary to navigate at times….but if we keep doing inner attunement work and connect with our child if at times he or she feels overwhelmed, fearful or unnecessarily rejected to soothe and comfort him or her we may also find the strength to stand strong in our boundaries and not collapse them in the face of unfair anger or other means of control used upon us by someone not taking care of their own inner needs. We may also learn not to use those weapons unconsciously upon other innocent people in our life.

The power of apology

I don’t know if anyone born after the 1970’s knows of the movie Love Story but there is a saying in it “love means never having to say you are sorry!”. I do not think it is wise or good advice really. As long as we are human we will stuff up from time to time, we will do things to hurt others, (maybe even unintentionally). Being able to say you feel sorry shows you care about what the other person is feeling even if their response also comes more out of their past history.

It is common knowledge that some people can never admit to being wrong, or say they regret anything.. My Mum was a lot like this, you often got the blame for stuff she did and she told me once when she hurt my sister in front of a good family friend, “I didn’t want to ‘lose face’ with Betty.” That struck me as really lacking in empathy for my sister who always tried to be so good to Mum and when she struggled got labelled as ‘being on a high” something she often repeats to me now when she looks back to something she did out of character. That always confuses me because it seems to be associated with needing something that has life and energy in it and we have both so often been cut down, especially by past partners with narcissistic issues.

One of the things I deeply love and respect about Scott is his ability to apologize.. He always says to me “sorry shows you care more about the health of your relationship, than your own ego.” Wow typical triple Libran comment that…

These days I know how important the admission of wrong doing can be.. It is so important not to label people when we are upset or accept labels laid on us by others.. Some of these can stick deep inside of us for years if our self esteem is low and often they say more about a certain person’s reaction to us than about us per se.. Empathy is always going to trump scatter gun judgments every single time.. Mercy is very important as a soul expansion attribute.

How to be close?

I miss this

Being close to you

Leaning in

Because it just comes naturally

And sometimes I cry

With the remembering

That I never really knew how to do it

You see there were always

These fears

Hidden so deeply in the shadows

Over years and years

And for so long I pretended to myself

I did not need this

Someone to trust

Someone close

But now I cry

With the realisation that

No man is an island

And islands only form

As land masses become overwhelmed

With water

How sad that over time

We lose the way to each other

As our memory of how to be close

Disappears so very very far away

Haunting us never the less

With an invisible longing

That dogs us

All along the life path of our years

To value life

Hearing that a loved one is perhaps dying is a very big shock. I guess my first real brush with death happened when my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1984. I only so young then, I was only 22 but a very young 22, I had just spent a year in my first job at the Research School of Biological Sciences and had moved out of home for the second time to share with some friends who were in the military at the Duntroon college here in Canberra. I was running a bit wild on the weekends but also holding down a second job waitressing to save for my overseas trip with my then partner Jim.

Dad’s diagnosis was a big shock to us and I have shared how it was the one time we connected where Dad expressed his emotions and I really felt his vulnerability. Up till then we had had a lot of healthy disagreement because I didn’t like my Dad was a property developer who was bulldozing old buildings to put up huge modern office blocks with my brother. I was also unconsciously angry he would not support my academic studies and forced me to go to business college.

Dad’s illness was in some ways mercifully short. He was operated on December and came out briefly from hospital on 24 December only to be returned in the early hours of Christmas morning. He died while they performed an emergency tracheoctomy on him to help him breathe in the early hours of Thursday 8 January. I got the call at work to come home.

I never got to say goodbye. I had not been well enough to go to the hospital, I was to be leaving for India in January to meet my partner who left in December and had had shots the day before Dad died. As it was my partner broke it off with me in the middle of the night shortly after Dad died, he told me not to come overseas but Mum forced me to go on with the trip which was horrendous. My brother handled the funeral and I never got to see Dad’s body. I do not remember the funeral at all, only some of the wake and not even a lot of that. Within a month I was alone overseas in the UK and very lost.

Lately I have achieved some kind of peace with Dad’s death. I have a post banked up on what grieving people need and how each death is personal and different according to the relationship we had with the person, Dad was always emotionally remote to me, as is my brother so I have struggled so much in my relationships with men, most of my partners could never validate me emotionally and my last partner caused me untold damage by not even trying to understand my complicated grief issues. That said I would often lash out due to anger I had with my father at not really ‘getting’ me and showing me empathy. I am sure I had to go through all of this pain in life to learn what a loving relationship with a healthy emotionally validating partner is, and harder to believe I do deserve to be treated with more empathy and respect.

Now that my friend, Christine seems to be possibly suffering from cancer the synchronicity of timing is not lost on me. I found my Mum also lost close friends in the final years of her life very close to the anniversary of Dad’s illness, diagnosis and death. In the case of my father it dogged every Christmas celebration and one year my older sister and I found ourselves at logger heads, it was the year Jonathan left me.

Christine’s illness is a reminder to me, too of my own brushes with death. Four of us have been diagnosed with cancer in my family, my father, my brother, my second oldest sister and I. I have not been brave enough to go for my own breast cancer check up yet, it is something I know I must deal with.

I wanted to write this post though to work through how intrinsically death and life can seem to be inter-related. Really bad grief or sadness or loss can steal our life energy for a long time and can be made more complex by earlier, perhaps unresolved griefs. What is clearer to me after all the research and reading I have done on grief as well as my experience of seeing how the failure to deal with, or rather struggle to do so manifested in my family is that we do need support and validation in our grief, in order to move through it an embrace life energy again. That said if the bond to someone is powerful, for example in the case of Johnny Cash and June Carter that I shared about in recent posts the death of one may bring about the death of the other.

Its is our heart energy that is most impacted through loss, death or leavings. I know my own heart and panic symptoms began when Jonathan told me he was leaving me. The month he spent with me before packing up to go ‘home’ to the UK in July 2004 was one of the most painful periods of my life and the following 7 years spent in the wilderness of abandonment involved a brush with death due to a head injury on the first anniversary and a bad fall on the second, but maybe on all those years we were together I was on the run from my own grief and trying my damndest to live. I think of how I struggled with the grief in my body and how little affirmation or recognition I so often got. I think of how grief still gives me ‘spins’ at critical times of the day and especially around the 5 pm critical timeslot which was when I went head over heels over my bicycle following a cranio sacral session to deal with earlier trauma. Maybe I would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie, who knows if I bought the accident on myself as my sister tried to tell me many years ago. It was just so hard to trust a family so often shut down who told me I should not be where I was nor doing it as tough as I was. That said I know its not their fault either. I truly do believe everyone does the very best they can with what they know at the time. Its just sometimes their ‘best’ falls woefully short.

My inner critic gave me a hard time again today for going over and over my trauma again in this blog earlier. It told me I need to be ‘moving on’ and that its boring for my followers. I will let you be the judge of how accurate my critic is, while acknowledging that at times my fear and sensitivity may have kept me more stuck than I needed to be.

That said I am alive and I want to live, I really really do. Life is full of such a profound mix of ‘blessings’ and ‘curses’ and in the end its up to us how we handle them and the attitude we take to them as well as the choices we make in the face of it all that makes our life what it is, and so often we are not always consciously choosing. Today I choose as much as I can to embrace life, despite my knowledge of how vulnerable it can be at times to live and face death. But I want this awareness of death to always help me keep my heart open to love and to the opportunities to connect and be fully alive that life constantly presents me with.

How trauma and PTSD disrupts relationships

I happened upon an excellent blog for trauma survivors today. I have linked to a post from it in my previous blog post, but the following with resonate for trauma survivors like me who have struggle in their relationships. I identified with most of this comprehensive post.

http://www.new-synapse.com/aps/wordpress/?p=741