A Just Anger : Freeing our fight response

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It is fantastic to witness many female trauma survivors recently taking a loud stance against invalidation abuse.  For those of us who have suffered trauma and most especially women there appears to be a powerful prohibition against the expression of righteous anger and pain which is so necessary especially for those of us who have suffered due to being overwhelmed by a larger adult or bigger person’s power.

In this situation the likely response is that the individual goes into some kind of freeze state.  Sadness can also come to dominate a person’s emotional life, they may have been allowed to be sad but not really angry about what happened to them.  And in the end for people subjected to this kind of abuse righteous anger needs to be expressed so that the frozen individual can release their vital energy from its fundamental blockage and get free of the overpowering feelings of depression and often suicidal pain which results when the true feelings are never allowed to be expressed, released, emotionally discharged or fully addressed.

I thought that I would just share here in a small blog something I read this afternoon about this subject.  It involves some regression work being undertaken with a client of John Lee outlined in his book on age regression who suffered molestation at a young age.  Lee’s work with the client, Susanna involved getting her to liberate her buried fight response :

Before Susanna began discharging some of her pent up feelings, the fight response simply was not a choice for her.  Her uncle took away her choice to fight.  But now she is retrieving a part of herself that is rightfully hers.

When Susanna first consciously regressed back to that time with her uncle and started pushing out her anger… she began crying.  I said “Let the tears come, but not at the expense of your anger.”  As I said in my book on anger, Facing the Fire, many women were allowed to cry as children, but they were not supported when they expressed their anger.  For that reason, when grown women feel angry, they let the water of their tears douse the fire of their anger.  Many women have told me that the reason they cry is that they are sad that expressing anger was not an option – and still does not seem to be.

Only when a woman – or a man – feels safe can they begin to feel anger.  As Marge Piercy says in her poem, “A Just Anger,”  “A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power.”


Unhooking from the Narcissist : Our journey in the Wilderness

I am not as preoccupied with narcissists and narcissism recently as I was for all of those confusing, painful years when I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on with my last romantic partner and my families responses to my own grief and emotional pain over years.

Learning about my own emotional neglect from childhood which I have shared about in other posts helped me to see how I was set up for this kind of relationship by an unmet and unfulfilled pit of emotional hunger and need.  Finally finding myself a completely emotionally available therapist who is capable of 100 percent empathy has helped me enormously and without this I may still have been left alone starving in a lonely cold wilderness of confusion, repressed anger, thwarted longing and self blame, which is where a lot of us carrying these kinds of wounds end up.

In the past  I have thought of this situation as being like a hungry dog starving for scraps and yesterday I read just such a description of the same thing on another blog.  Reading about other people’s struggles to unhook, the utter pain and desolation of finally recognising that we are powerless to effect any change or get much in the way of recognition from those whose love, attention and respect we longed for I am filled with compassion, but a part of me also is anxious for them to unhook, knowing the back lash that comes when we try repeatedly to engage and point out what is happening to them.  In the long run frustration and the bitter pain of repeated disappointment and outrage is the bitter medicine we must swallow in order to learn how essential it is for our emotional health and sanity to unhook.

In this quest it helps enormously to have somewhere we can go to vent the pain.  The narcissists in our life won’t hear us, and in fact we will be blamed or made to feel ashamed for trying to point out how their lack of empathy is wounding us.  This does not mean that we should not express how we feel to them.  Their response to our attempts to do this may make some change, in some cases. In other cases we will be hurt again and our quest to be heard will fall on deaf ears.  Painful as this is it will show us who and what we are really dealing with and help us in the boundary creating process which is our first line of defence against investing in further painful relationships where old patterns are repeated.

In her book on emotional neglect  Running on Empty, therapist Jonice Webb helps us to learn to develop the skills of  connecting with and learning to express our emotions.  Tapping into our feelings is the most important tool we have to deal with the painful consequences of being raised in families and by people where true emotional expression of all the feelings of our true self were not permitted or blocked in some way.

Jonice recommends that when we have any painful emotional encounter we need to speak about it with someone and unpack the feelings.  This is where I do believe sites and blogs which give us air time are so important, most especially if we are struggling in the wilderness alone and without close friends or a good therapist.  We need someone as we cannot heal totally in isolation and there is a saying in recovery circles “we are only as sick as our secrets”.

I was helped in my own recovery online at a very critical time of pain when I found an wonderful blog by an adult child of narcissistic parents late in 2013 who was a long way along in her own healing process.  She kindly published a poem I had written about the past most recent painful relationship with a narcissist on her own site and then recommended I start blogging myself.

I was deeply unsure how my writing would be received but I made a tentative beginning and when my oldest sister died I was so grateful to have a place I could pour out all of the grief.  At that stage I was struggling to find a good consistent therapist.  I was carrying a huge bag of unresolved trauma and rage, much of it turned in upon myself for feeling I had failed in not recognising how stuck I had been in unhealthy relationships and how poor my own inter personal boundaries were.  I had a lot of work to do to learn to love and forgive myself for wounds that were compounded and were never my own fault in the beginning.

I feel so blessed now to know I am a long way along the road of healing.  I can now recognise red flags.  I am able to set boundaries.  I have made several attempts to express and process my pain with family members.  The first reactions were typical of narcissists but in the end when I held my boundaries my experience has been that there have been some changes.  My only remaining sister actually apologised to me a year or so ago.  Other attempts to address pain have not gone so well and I have been blamed, but by holding firm and refusing to engage in their ‘change back’ tactics I have been able to unhook.  I can now even laugh at things that would have sent me into a rage just over a year ago. In short I feel I have reclaimed my life and my energy through the tough process of mourning, raging, being confused, spun about then reconnected at a deep level with my own emotional truth.

I am very proud of the fact that I have managed just over a month’s break now from my therapist.  She has been sending me a little email every week, which is what I asked for when she left.  I am getting very excited as we will be meeting tomorrow afternoon and there is so much to share with her.

I think this break has been important as I have had so much loss, there have been so many times others have walked away from me and there has been no way to process that pain or resolve things.  Katina’s return after this break will be a reminder to my soul that leavings don’t always necessarily result in endings.  Thought I know in time my therapy will end, I will always have the good Katina inside me, that fully loving consistent presence that my mother could not be due to her own wounds and history.  I cannot fully express how this relationship has helped me.  It is easier to unhook from what is unhealthy when we have a healthy place to go, that is what I have learned.

Family scapegoats who carry the rejected feelings get sent out into the wilderness, or we have to escape there to find some kind of safety and connection, even if it is only with ourselves and the terrible pain of our w0unded and torn about insides.  In that wilderness a lot of healing can happen for us if we seek it in the right places (and we may have to go to a lot of wrong places on that journey too).

In that wilderness many of us come home to the starving child or ravenous hungry dog inside of us that needs so much succour, nurturing, feeding, empathy, self soothing and healing.  And hopefully in that wilderness we find other scapegoats too, those who understand and mirror our wounds, those who help the wounded scapegoat to recognise they we not ugly ducklings but a beautiful swans still seeking that true family and place of belonging which is the true home of our soul and can only be found deep within and in fecund rather than desolate places.

Psychological exile : disabled assertion and feeling responses.

The unavailable parent leaves their child alone emotionally. By not noticing or validating the child’s true feelings the parent denies the child an experience of his or her reality. By shaming or invalidating legitimate responses of anger or sadness, the parent disables the child’s self assertion and leaves the child with a sense, often subconscious, of longing, hunger, powerlessness and grief, as well as deeply repressed anger and sadness.  Such repression lowers the person’s energy level in life and abandonment  depression results.

In response to this situation the child learns to dissociate, turning away from intimacy, engaging in destructive self soothing behaviours to numb and deny pain. The person becomes vulnerable to addictions as an attempt is made to feed a hole in the soul within which should have been filled with love, compassion, empathy and understanding.  Often the person has no idea what the feelings of emptiness are truly about until well into to recovery.Or some who find their needs, emotions and impulses  are consistently ignored, shamed, invalidated or dismissed learn to turn themselves inside out to become of help to the unavailable parent (projected onto new associations), subverting hidden emotions and needs.

In this situation, their true emotions of sadness and anger get deeply buried and valid needs ignored or neglected (by their adult self.)  Victims are set up later in life for relationships with narcissists, people who care little about their needs and invalidate their feelings.  Their unconscious fear of experiencing their hidden abandonment depression will drive them to accept this situation and absorb any negative projections from others.

Healing from this defensive pattern of co-dependence often (or as Self Love Deficit Disorder – a newer term coined by therapist Ross Rosenberg) involves repeating it until awareness emerges and help or understanding is sought.  The disabled self assertive or fight response which in healthy development acts to champion and promote the person’s needs, desires and interests will need to be excavated or reclaimed, brought back from exile.

Ideally in childhood we need a parent who helps us develop emotional intelligence into our feelings, emotions, reactions and responses, but this is only possible if we are raised by parents who are able to understand, mirror and help us express them in healthy ways.  If instead out parents are emotionally blind, too focused on themselves, emotionally absent or have exiled their own true feelings, or are carrying deeply submerged feelings from the past which block this ability, they cannot help us and may disable our healthy fight or self assertive response and discourage or invalidate our expression of emotions.   We will internalise their shame, criticism and misunderstanding of our feelings, reactions and responses. In response we develop an introjected inner critic which berates us when feelings arise.

Inner voices which block healthy expression of self will need to be confronted on the path of healing.  An ally will be necessary in this work, someone who has trodden or knows the path to recovery and reclamation who will help to champion this process. Reading literature which helps us to understand how our self and will becomes negatively disabled will also help us to identify abuse and invalidation and the role they play in self suppression.

When I got into addiction recovery I began to hear a lot about ‘self will run riot’, as if self will were the problem.  Something in it didn’t ring true for me, I began through therapy to see that the true problem in addiction was that the sufferer’s true self and will was subverted into other channels which were unhealthy or controlling of oneself or other’s true emotions and actually hid deeper feelings that could not be recognised.  For example angry self will may hide deep fear, guilt, sadness and shame which has been projected onto someone or absorbed via the parents unconscious patterns.  It is often the soul’s legitimate cry of upset when old pain is triggered in the present.

In her book Breaking the Cycle of Abuse, Bevely Engel shows how important it is to our recovery that we learn to identify our true emotions.  She writes:

if you were neglected or abused in childhood you will tend to be overwhelmed and controlled by your emotions. Many become so overwhelmed by their emotions that their emotions become their enemies. Dysfunctional behaviors, including abusive or victim like patterns, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviors are often attempts to cope with intolerably painful emotions.  Many try to regulate their emotions by trying to make themselves not feel whatever it is that they do feel. This style can be the result of the emotionally invalidating environment you were raised in  – one which mandated that people should smile when they are unhappy, be nice and not rock the boat when they are angry, and confess or beg for forgiveness when they have done nothing wrong.

Because of this you may feel sideswiped by your emotions, or overwhelmed when your emotions build up.  This in turn may cause you to project your emotions onto others.  What is referred to as psychic numbing (stuck or frozen feelings) is another frequent result of abuse in childhood.  Children shut off their feelings or dissociate in response to a traumatic situation. Learning to re-experience frozen feelings takes time.   But once these deadened feelings are liberated they can help you by providing helpful information so you can make rational decisions and take appropriate action in your life.  Reconnecting with feelings can provide you strength, courage and joy.

Learning to identify and name our true feelings is such an important factor in recovery from co-dependence and addiction, learning to understand when we are reacting due to fear or shame from the past and learning to dis-identify this present pain from past pain is extremely important to our reclaiming of our true self.  Learning to assert ourselves, feelings, needs thoughts and desires in a healthy way and not allowing narcissists to shame, discount, minimise or shut us down in the only way we will eventually get our souls’ out of jail.

Letting go of controlling our own or other’s feelings will most likely make us feel extremely vulnerable at first.  We are re-experiencing the child of the past in an adult’s body which can be very painful.  (This experience has been named age regression by John Lee and flashback experience by Pete Walker).

In the midst of age regression or flashback we may feel very small, vulnerable, fearful and ashamed but our path of healing involves staying with, experiencing and connecting these feelings to incidents in the past.

Finding others who can support us in experiencing, identifying and working through these feelings, will help us to uncouple the fear or shame from our true feelings.  It will help us to grow an inner adult who recognizes and takes seriously the inner child’s feelings from a damaging or traumatising past.

For many of us who have disconnected from feelings we may experience confusion as to what feeling we are feeling at any given time.  In her book Beverly Engel gives tips for identifying feelings.  Our body is where we experience our emotions as feelings and sensations, for example grief may be felt as a tightness in the chest or a feeling of pressure around the heart.  Anger may be felt as a tightening of the jaw or muscles in various parts of the body, often the gut.

Certainly learning to re-experience our feelings will not be easy for many of us, but we can find resources to help with this process and as we do our level of peace and ability to take action will improve.  We can reactivate out ability to move through emotions and reclaim our will for positive expression and inner and outer connection  one we develop a capacity to own, name, sort out and act for our own positive wellness on these formerly misunderstood or out of touch emotions and feelings.

How comfortable are you with your anger?

Do you feel comfortable with expressing anger?  Do you have any kind of fear around it?  When you start to feel angry about something, do you also start to feel fear or shame?   I am asking this because of a blog I recently read and because that is how I realise I feel when I feel angry.  I am also aware that when I start to feel angry I can enter into a rational negating dialogue with myself, I want to be sure that what I am feeling is in proportion to the action and not over the top.

I am aware that this is due the way my anger was or was not handled by my parents.  Often when I was angry I got in trouble or I was sent to my room.  When my parents were angry with each other they didn’t handle it in a rational way, either and undercurrents of anger often ended with my mother giving my father the silent treatment or erupting into a storm.

In the past few years on the four or so occasions I have tried to express valid feelings of anger with my Mum, she immediately gets fearful and scared and says to me “I wish you didn’t have to get angry.”  Often my feelings of anger are justified and I haven’t even been expressing them in a damaging way, I have just been expressing very intense old feelings I haven’t shared before.  In this situation I have discussed them with an outside person to get a reality check as due to my conditioning I can never be entirely sure if I am being reasonable or unreasonable.  Often in the past I was being told I didn’t have a right to be angry, was made to feel like the bad guy for being real and expressing myself passionately.

I now know after many years of therapy that I learned over many years to swallow down my anger with other painful feelings much of the time.  When anger has come up I have often tried to share with people who could not or would not hear it, or with people who were invested in me keeping it under wraps.  It has taken me about five therapy attempts to find a therapist who helps me and is comfortable with me expressing anger.  She validates when she feels my anger is righteous.

Today I was at the dog park and a mother shut down her son for talking too loudly.  I must admit it triggered me.  I think that when we have had to shut down or repress anger for many years when it finally does emerge, at first it comes out like a tournado.  It has taken me some time to learn of the term historical anger.  Historical anger may be years of anger that never found expression before and got blocked or buried or barricaded away. When it finally emerges it can be immense and very, very big and can piggy back onto new hurts.

I have shared in another blog :

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/permission-to-be-angry-the-role-of-anger-in-healing/

that the Anger Detour process as outlined by John Lee has helped me to work through old angers  and work to find how they may be triggered or re-awakened by current incidents.  Unpacking and releasing old anger is very important for if we suppress our true feelings, in time we tend to develop all kinds of body problems, digestive upsets, headaches, stiff muscles and auto immune problems.

The truth is that as a baby or a child we have very intense feelings that require the mediation, soothing and mirroring of a caregiver.  I read a very powerful book many years ago by the psychotherapist Donald Kalsched called, The Inner World of Trauma.  In it he shows how when such intense bodily centred feelings find no way of being expressed, understood, held, mirroring and reflected by outside caregivers they build up within the baby or young child and can actually become powerful inner demonic figures or inner voices.  In some cases the inner voices become so all powerful and self protective they will encourage the person to isolate totally or even take their lives.

Kalsched came to his understanding through the experience of having people in therapy that were unable to be helped, they may abort the therapy or erect all kinds of powerful defences against being helped.  Due to the trauma of having been hurt in the past or neglected by those from whom they sought attachment, there was no way these clients could ever risk being cared for or loved again.  And the prospect of feeling this old pain (which is so necessary to the healing and maturing process) was too much for them.

Its is easy to see how borderline rage is a natural outcome of such treatment.  Borderlines are one of the most demonised of so called character disorders.  Many therapists abandon borderlines all over again if they are not able to handle the natural rage and anger of the borderline and help them to come to some kind of understanding of it. Of course the most essential healing of borderline rage must come from within the person themselves in understanding the hurt and pain of their abandoned or neglected inner child that they may transfer onto the therapist.   Only self compassion and a true understanding of our trauma history and our erected defences can help us to understand and meditate the anger, learning to express it in ways which no longer alienate others.

That said, there are times when we have to express our anger and we need to have that anger heard.  Anger is our legitimate protest that serves the protection and expression of the self.  When it comes out of a justified hurt anger is a protest that needs to be heard and understood by the parent in an empathetic and loving way when we are a child. If it is not, if justified anger is shut down or misunderstood we can loose a very important psychological defence that helps us to maintain healthy interpersonal boundaries. In this situation we take flight in defensive patterns perhaps of disempowerment and collapse associated with co-dependent coping strategies.

Certainly feeling the power of old anger is not very comfortable.  We have to be very careful in this process that we don’t dump old anger on new situations.  We need ways to understand when we are age regressing to an earlier inner child injury or undergoing a triggering flashback  (for help with this look to Pete Walker’s book on Complex PTSD).  Once we have done this we need to find assertive ways to express our truth and experience with someone safe.

Like or not anger is something we need to make friends with.  A natural understanding of what hurts us or makes us angry (justifiably) is necessary for us to find happiness and live with healthy boundaries.  It also will have a powerful affect on our immune system, so in the end may literally make the difference between living well or dying of an autoimmune related disease.  My own cancer journey has shown me this fact.  I know that I ignore anger at my own peril. And that those who deny it or negate it are just not psychologically healthy individuals for me to be around much.

 

 

The struggle to live as me

Contemporary interpreters of certain yogic and meditative traditions speak of keeping one’s awareness right with any emotional pain or physical discomfort, as that is where growth and change occurs, right at the edge of intensity, before pain or avoidance overwhelms us. It’s a subtle business for sure, but what else are we going to do when life is showing us that backing up and looking within may be quite revealing.

Mars Shows the Way, Mary Plumb, Mountain Astrologer.

Anyone else out there currently undergoing or experiencing frustration or banked up anger from incidents long past that strangled or disabled your true self, desires or needs?

Its Mars slowing to station direct territory and currently we are in the intense building part of the retrograde (Mars moving backward) cycle. In two weeks Mars will slow to move forward on the 23rd degree of the sign Scorpio, anyone with important planetary energies in the fixed signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius will be feeling it, but not us alone, for Mars turned retrograde in the early degrees of Sagittarius some months ago.

For myself at the moment in my therapy I am touching base with intense feelings of frustration and anger towards my now dead father over the way he prevented me from returning to study teaching at a critical time of pain and stress in our family, forcing me to go to secretarial college which I loathed.  At that time typing was on manual typewriters it had to be done in triplicate with carbon samdwiched between pages and if you made more than two mistakes per page you had to throw the entire thing out and start again.  We were stuck in a room for 3 hours each morning or afternoon doing that mindless task, the other part of the day being given over to shorthand.

My rebellion was silent, secretive, I started smoking a lot of dope and going out on wild weekends to the local punk disco and having lots of random, casual sex, really I was longing for love but going about it in all the wrong ways. Eventually I met a guy still in love with his ex addicted to dope and fell pregnant twice, I was taking no precautions as I had been too shy and distant from both my parents to have the talk about sex, which was a subject of intense fear and shame due to my dysfunctional Catholic background. I had also been shamed for something intensely private surrounding my bodily insecurity at a tenuos time in adolescence that led me to distrust my father and fear him even more.

By the age of 23 when my father died, I was carrying deep in my body so much trauma, so much shame, so many secrets. Returning to live with my parents just prior to my fathers illness in late 1984 and then postponing my trip to meet my boyfriend due my father’s sudden death in early January 1985 I received a 4 am phone call from India asking me not to join him there as planned, since he no longer loved me.  We had just buried my father.  Mum read my diaries at that time found out about the two terminations and confronted me with the shame, no empathy expressed.  I was then pushed to get myself overseas just one month following Dad’s death, no place to grieve no place to be comforted only comfort a one litre bottle of Johhny Walker scotch.

I remember arriving to bleak cold Heathrow in the early morning dragging two big bags, boarding the Tube and having no idea where I was going.  Higher power stepped in at the eleventh hour and in the first hotel I visited there at the reception desk was a friend from the town we used to visit for summer holidays, Caroline, bless.

It seems that where this piece of writing started has led to another destination.  It began with the idea of what happens when the very thing we need and desire, the stepping stone to developing and manifesting our True Self in the world is thwarted or stolen from us and that frustration is buried only to emerge at a later time. NOW.

At business college I had no connections, my best friends (a close knit group) were all at the college I was prevented from returning to, my ties to them broke and we are only now reconnecting, they had no idea of all I suffered, cast out for so many years, only now returning. Is it any wonder I often feel propelled away from groups?

It would take seven years for me to get off the secretarial train led for dead end street and attempt in so many befuddled ways to find a new avenue, two more terminations of pregnancy, so many lost years of addiction, more painful relationships, and three more years to find recovery arriving there, dragging behind me a body loaded with the dumped unconscious wreckage of years which I have hauled along and sought a place to unpack over 13 more years.  Rivers of tears that hid the deeper rage, the primal scream of thwarted frustration, a forest fire dampened so many times by others invalidation or stuffed back inside again due to their fear..feelings shut down so many times by unhelpful platitudes : he did his best, just put it behind you, do anything but feel.

Well fuck no I will no bury this anger any more Dad..it wasn’t good enough, you didn’t see me or ever support my true self and all these years I’ve grieved a ghost who I never connected to on any conscious level, only on a deeply subconscious one.  You were a refugee of War thrown into a self imposed exile to pursue a dream that cost us all far too much in terms of connection and of feeling, and in the end your dream stole your life and prevented us ever knowing each other as adults,  these are the bones I’ve grieved over, holding the anger and grief inside and all these years I’ve been cast out, forbidden from grieving here with you my family.

Wow good to spit that out.  Without my loving therapist how would this ever have been validated?  I am realising that for all these years I have blamed myself for something far bigger than me that was never my fault.  I have denied my self true life as I was taught to do.  All that I have lost, all the potentials lost must now be laid to rest, so the future no longer becomes an echo of the past, for the truth is I deserve so much more than this and no one will give it to me now but me. Is there hope now that I can fly free from this place of pain, release and unload all of these painful feelings?   I cannot change the past.  But I can live now as me, owning this, denying nothing.

And no I cannot go free without feeling the anger I’ve had to bury and not without realising how damaging and powerful the rationalisations to deny its truth have been and what they have cost me and my body. And not without grieving what has to be grieved.

Mars you are the fire we need, you fuel our Sun and without you all becomes soggy and shapeless, and we become lost, ghosts aimlessl wandering in an empty wasteland, hungering, hungering the hungry ghosts Gabor Mate speaks of in his book on addiction.

Mars you are the sword we need to cut through the bullshit, the admonishments to feeling what is true and real cast upon us by less aware souls, shut in by lies, fearing us finding and owning our power and truth.

Mars you will not allow our grief to undo us but will rouse us from our numbed sleep and call us to awaken and remember the very real truth of who we really are and what truely happened to and hurt and scarred our souls so deeply.  Through connecting with you in our bodies we can find the power to live who we truly are and shine like the Suns we were destined to be

.

Suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

A few days ago in my blog My Bleeding Heart I shared the dream image I had of my Inner Child with a wire hanger sewn through her shoulder and breast with barbed wire.  Today by a chain of synchronicity I was led to a video of Spartan Life Coach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l8ZP3zDu7k in which Richard Gannon speaks of the barbs of guilt, shame, self hate, ignorance and perfectionism that are hooked into us during a childhood in which parents and other caregivers unconsciously transferred their shame onto us.

Thinking about it I was drawn to the realisation that it was not my parents who were the prime offenders, but my Catholic education which focused on the idea of original sin and conditioned us young ones to believe that lashing out in self protection or getting angry and making any kind of self assertive stand against what hurt us was some kind of sin.  I also know from the what I am aware of in my mother’s history she was very much conditioned to be silent in the face of nasty punishments from the nuns which showed a complete lack of empathy into the fact she had no one at home to nurture her, speak for her needs or rights, or help her with her homework.  She just had to swallow down what ever hurt they dished out.  She carried the inner pain and frustration like a wild storm within her and we, her children sucked it up.

The fact is that the burying of our self protective and healthy self assertive instincts sets up for vulnerability to narcissistic relationships, for chronic people pleasing and illnesses which involve the immune system (the bodies natural self protective instinct) against us.  Further more not allowing us as kids to hold onto a natural response of protest nor having our responses validated, makes us naïve.  It leads us to believe that we must always give people the benefit of the doubt and put their opinion or behaviour above our own.  Further if we can’t say “ouch” and have it taken seriously we are set up for serious difficulties in later life and relationships and the pain gets lodged deep inside.

On an astrological tangent my own Mars (which rules the self assertive instinct) is heavily debilitated by Saturn (the inner and outer critic, authoritarian admonishments against healthy self expression and narcissism) and by Chiron in the 7th house which rules relationships where self assertion and personal desire can be sacrificed in an order to win love.  It echoes my Mum’s natal Mars in the sign of self sacrifice Pisces.  It evolved to a challenging Sun Venus in Pisces in my sister’s chart square to natal Mars in Sagittarius.

I’ve read and its born out by my experience that Chiron in the 7th means we probably never witnessed healthy self assertion and were wounded by a response to our anger which made us feel scared or unsafe to express it.  We may have been conditioned to “be nice”.  We may have been emotionally abandoned with we expressed young anger, sent to our room, told we were bad.  Our parents who buried their anger or terrorised us with their own out of control rage never helped us learn how to recognise what part it played for us, nor helped us to develop skills for modulating and expressing it in healthy ways.

I am blogging about this today because a few days ago I had a very painful experience of my sister not turning up on time to take me to my final radiation appointment.  I told her the right time but she wrote it down wrong.  In a panic I decided to drive  myself to the hospital and when I spoke to her later to find out what had happened I just had to hang up the phone.  I felt angry and disappointed.  My reaction to feeling that anger was then to feel bad about it, my sister made a genuine mistake, how dare I feel mad.  Yet the truth is I felt let down, even though I know it wasn’t a deliberate, and my over the top response held so much other grief deep within it.  My anger had also made me scared as I associate feeling anger with loosing love.

On Thursday in therapy I cried about the incident when my therapist said to me : “Deborah, it was natural to feel angry.  Even if she made a mistake, you were left alone again.  That is a huge thing to have to go through when you are dealing with all that you are at present.”  At that point I got to have the anger I couldn’t really express on Wednesday.

As my therapist knows, this pattern of people mixing up communication or just getting distracted or forgetting is a HUGE theme for me and has to do with my retrograde Mercury (planet of communication and siblings) square to Neptune in the third house.  Often times my Mum or Dad were just too busy or distracted to notice what I needed growing up which led me to develop the belief that my needs did not matter and made it difficult, too, for those needs to be accepted and known by me.

The painful feelings of anger and abandonment I was left with last Wednesday had no where to go but into my body.  As I was sitting there waiting for them to come and get me for the radiotherapy treatment I had painful burning twisting sensations in my chest, part radiation outfall, part stress, fear, grief, disappointment, anger and anxiety.  I was feeling fearful I had put down the phone, that my relationship with my sister would be forever severed (extreme reaction I know but probably not in the light of past times of being abandoned by narcissists for getting angry with being forgotten, ignored or minimised.)

Later after the treatment was over and after I had a huge emotional reaction with the nurse, who informed me that my pain and wound would probably worsen over the next week (difficult to hear at that time) I had walked out into the foyer where my sister was sitting.  As soon as she apologised I got very, very sad, but I know now that underneath was anger too, anger and disappointment that didn’t really have anywhere to go. We hugged and I felt how bad my sister was feeling.  What was the point of the anger since it was not going to achieve anything and in any case I needed to accept life on life’s terms, surely?   But I’d still been let down and therapy showed me that.  My tears all afternoon were a delayed grief reaction.

As I’ve contemplated my entire reaction over the past few days its clear to me that once again on Wednesday I had found myself in Chiron’s incurable domain of things going wrong and out of my control at just the time I needed support.  Here lay my Chiron wound that will probably never heal or be cured, I will only develop awareness into it.  Developing awareness will be the antidote to the sting of the barb lodged in my system over years and years and years, sewn in every time I was shamed for lashing out in anger at someone who had hurt me.

It wasn’t until I watched Richards You Tube video on Thursday that I made the connection between the barbed wire coat hanger dress and the personality style I had to develop to deal with the hurts I have undergone since childhood.  Put on my best dress, try to look like it didn’t hurt, put on my best smile, front up but hide inside the pain and shame.  And I have realised that this wound I carry isn’t just personal, it familial (need I say oh so familiar!) and collective too.  We can all be shamed for healthy protest and anger.

It is so important that in the course of our healing we get help to understand the personality conditioning that makes us vulnerable to being wounded or hurt again, to having the barb lodged deep within.

As Richard points out, removing the barb makes us snappish and angry, we need to feel the pain that lies underneath it,  pain we didn’t cause, pain that happened as a result of not being sufficiently valued, nurtured or understood.

This childhood pain is very, very real.  Its waiting deep in the underground of our psyche.  We have to feel it in order to heal the old pattern.  Feeling it and grieving, won’t feel pleasant, for sure, but we can trust that when we face our feelings fully we will move out of powerlessness and gain the right to express the truth of what we feel.  One of the false beliefs our child self can have is that we will not survive pain, pain that in childhood felt too much.

The truth is that as adults today we CAN survive feeling the pain that was too much for us and others in childhood.  We can survive and heal hand in hand with our adult self, that witness within who can help us make sense of old wounds and who will embrace us as we go through that process.  We can also find others who have overcome their own shame and will be there for us without shaming us.

Growing some spine

Well people I have over 33 documents in my drafts folder.  I wrote this one well over two years ago so I am letting it out for some air, not sure why it never passed the censor!

Ever got really insanely, blisteringly angry with someone, something?   I had an experience of this state today and its never a comfortable experience for me.  I shared about it with someone I trust and she helped me to understand that a boundary that was very important to me had been crossed by someone.  This person works as a body therapist and as I was speaking about the issue she acted as a witness to me of what effect different expressions of anger can have on body posture, most especially how upright the spine is when we use anger as an empowering experience allowing us to move the energy in a way that is assertive, rather than purely aggressive.

We spoke through the difficulty I had with feeling free to express anger in a healthy way due to a family background in which I wasn’t really helped when upset or angry, only sent to my room and admonished for being “bad”.   Anger can feel like I am being bad especially if the expression of that anger in response to something someone else did is not empathised with and the person involved is invested in making me feel bad.  The bottom line is that anger is a sign that boundaries need to be drawn, that an important value of ours may have been violated.  Anger is a sign to me of what has value to me, and of what I can and cannot tolerate.

I’m interested in this at the moment, considering transiting Mars (planet of agency, anger, assertion and aggression) is currently moving through my 12th house and ever closer to the ascendant while squaring 3rdh house Neptune and opposing my Aquarian Sun, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and South Node in the seventh house.  In addition transiting Mars is beginning to form a wide waxing trine to transiting Uranus in the eighth house.

Transits through the 8th and 12th have to do with energies that may have been buried in the unconscious becoming more conscious to us, through conflicts or experiences which bring our attention to them during the transit. Aries, ruled by Mars, rules my eighth house and represents that the energy of assertion and creative agency has fallen into the shadows.  I may feel (and do at times feel) scared and guilty for expressing and asserting my own needs. All my Aquarian planets and the South Node there encourage me to forget myself and look to what the family or group needs, my Leo North Node in the first indicates that in order grow forward I need to be able to feel a sense of power and strength in the expression of my Self, to become more of a King of my own domain.

Added to that the polarity planet of values Venus is currently also transiting retrograde in the sign of Leo (currently at 16 degrees) towards transiting Mars moving forwards at 11 Leo.  In all the reading I have done about retrograde Venus transits I have learned that frustration can build into old unresolved psychic conflicts around relating, relationships, self esteem and self value as Venus moves backwards.  It may be a time we have to go to war or learn about the values that are important to us, due to being frustrated or denied.  A force for transformation builds as Venus stations to move forward again which it will do

My anger today wasn’t just about the person involved.  It had a lot to do with how I was feeling inside at present.  A little put upon and just a bit sick of overextending myself for the other person involved.  Sun/Venus/Mercury/Jupiter/South Node in the seventh tends to make me over do the compassion initiative and to deny myself and my needs for the sake of preserving the relationship.  Which is fine if the other person is taking my needs into consideration, but when they are not.  Well as I experienced it today this blows my gasket and I need to understand why, to take steps to fight in a good way for my own needs in an assertive, mature way.  Lesson learned today.

I’ve dumped a lot of repressed anger into my body in the past.  Growing up I did not really learn to open up and communicate when hurt.  I was taught by Catholicism to turn the other cheek but sometimes you run out of cheeks and get tired of being slapped about my others inconsiderateness and insensitivity.  The point is that the lesson for me isn’t about them, its more about developing sensitivity into myself, my body and my true needs and values.  For these things cant be denied without me suffering symptomatic consequences.

Reflections on reactivity following a hurt

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I wrote this blog a few weeks ago.  Injury has made me much more present to the here and now.  I am undergoing physio to work with the injury and maximise my healing.  And this blog has been slumbering in draft.  Today I release it like a butterfly.

I awoke after a long and fairly peaceful sleep, this morning.  It was filed with powerful dreams and images and my body was twisted around due to the ankle injury I sustained last week, but the twisting and turning that goes on when I try to push myself out of pain stopped, I rested quietly with the breath.  I am conscious that the building pressure of the Mars Pluto conjunction was beginning to loosen.

I had a challenging day yesterday.  I reached out the day before to someone, then had second thoughts then they rejected me or my need because they wanted to handle the situation in a different way. I wasn’t gracious about it.  In fact I was really, really angry and I let them know.  (Always a scary thing for me.)

I did a double take when I realised the Moon was opposite not only Pluto but Mars too.  Maybe this was a time to get powerful insights into my own Moon Mars Saturn conjunction that has a lot of intensity around it, due to the connections with Chiron and Pluto too.

Relationships have always contained a lot of pain and difficulty for me.  As a growing person I did not learn to negotiate feelings in relationship.  I did not see healthy confrontation and conflict modelled in relationships.  I was not mirrorered, due to the way my parents treated me when I was angry and due to the way I saw conflict modelled (or not modelled) in the home.  Outbursts from my Mum never led to any kind of resolution.  There was this pool of seething frustration in the atmosphere I did my best to negotiate warily around, by trying to do the right thing so as not to get in the way of a bullet.  I also probably didn’t learn very effective ways of understanding and controlling my impulses.  After many years of mixed up development I landed in recovery, a binge drinking alcoholic.

Over the years of my recovery I have began to realise that I learned that anger was a powerful and dangerous emotion that was best repressed or kept under wraps.  That method did not work, since anger would erupt.  Anger is intimately related to our self assertive drive to express ourselves effectively in the world.  If our method of self expression becomes blocked in some way we end up with a backlog of repressed energy and the anger banks up.  It took me many years to understand that anger could come out when other emotions, feelings, wants, needs and perceptions were not really understood and being expressed by me. Anger could be the eruptive force that hid a softer side, that softer side was being protected by the full force of anger thrown out, that then had the effect of alienating others, who did not really know how to cope.

It was not possible for me to say.  “Listen I am feeling really scared at the moment and I really need some comfort and reassurance.”  Or “I’ feeling really confused, I don’t really understand how to do that/what you are saying/how you are  feeling/why you are treating me like this/what this all means.”  I would either retreat and stuff it, because that is what I watched my Dad do in response to my Mum, or when that method didn’t work explode in a rage, just as I saw my Mother do.  I grew into an adult, but inside was a child that didn’t have a lot of skills to negotiate the world.

I have talked with another friend around my own age in recovery and we have discussed how its a bit of a generational thing for us born in the 60s, we grew up pretty mixed up around feelings, raised by parents and institutions short on emotional intelligence and surrounded by peers undergoing their own struggles and sometimes acting them out on us.

It is apt that Neptune is currently stationing on my Chiron in the seventh house, as old pain around relationships has been triggered a lot over the past few weeks and as I come to further realisations around Mars issues, since Mars and Chiron aspect each other in my chart.  Good things are coming out of these transits, but injury has accompanied it.   A recent function brought me and my nephew closer together.  We both struggle with the Mars Saturn conjunction and we both struggle with feelings of rage and powerlessness which are tied up with deep feelings of grief.  It felt good to be able to share about it.  A few days later I wrote a blog on Not Magnifying a Hurt.

While writing this I am thinking of what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain body.  According to Eckhart some people have a much stronger pain body, it is more easily triggered.  I would equate this with a person who, having had painful experiences in the past can easily find this old pain triggered by a seemingly (to others) un noxious event (someone with a strong Pluto energy.)  I certainly relate to this.

Last year a friend confronted me about my tendency to explode.  Often this kind of explosion is associated with some lack of compassion and sensitivity (not necessarily to me only) but to those who are more vulnerable.  The fighting warrior comes out in me and flies into full protection or defensive mode.   People around start to feel really uncomfortable.  Grief may then come following the said explosion which is cause for more concern from others, frightened, horrified or shocked looks.  In exploring this issue with someone similar to me, he gets my response totally.  Doesn’t really see the need for judgement at all.  Never the less I can come away from such interactions feeling judgement and then feeling a bit peeved at the lack of understanding.  But I am beginning to see this as a bit self centred too, many people struggle with expressing their own anger so mine challenges them.  We are all only human.

Over the years I’ve explored the idea I might be a person with Borderline Personality.  I fit many of the criteria when my addiction was in full flight.  Recovery has helped me to address some of those characteristics.   But on some level I am not sure if that diagnosis totally sticks.  I have also explored the concept of being both Highly Sensitive and Highly empathic.

In the end the bottom line exists in knowing myself.  In having some kind of idea of the things the irk me and get me fired up, of the things that bug me and trigger me and accepting that.  Of looking at my reactions, questioning myself, sharing with others, reading about anger, finding out about projection and learning to stay in touch with my insides, finding avenues to express my feelings (especially through journaling and blogging).  And reaching out to others who are more likely to be empathetic than judgemental.

For many years I had the idea there was something wrong with me for feeling and reacting the way that I did, and I most certainly did need to learn to grow in understanding of myself.  The truth is my feelings and reactions show me more about my at times unconscious history and sensitivities rather than being a sign of something wrong with me.

I  think if I could have achieved this level of insight and self acceptance sooner, I would have had an easier time of it.  The truth is too, that sometimes it would be better to let go of the irritant that is causing my pain body to ark up or to find ways to self sooth in the face of what grates and grazes on my soul.  Many of my feelings are only magnified by further negative thoughts which act as salt put into a wound that is already smarting.  Instead I need to apply the healing balm of something that soothes and calms the irritated pain body, when faced with tasks that seem massive and overwhelming I can make them more digestable if I bite a little off and chew them piece by piece.

All these tools help to become less reactive, or at best able to deal with and recognise strong reactions when they occur.  This process for me has taken a lot of years.  Looking back now I can see that I had a backlog of desire and need that wasn’t really fulfilled in childhood.  My parents did the best they could.  For me it wasn’t enough and traumas occurring in my late teens and early twenties made growing up and negotiating the challenges of this passage all the more difficult.  Things that happened during this time, and most especially the accident that nearly ended my life at 17 and saw me confined in hospital for three months,  left both wounds and a developmental arrest of sorts that have at times made change challenging.

Lately I am mindful of the Saturn Mars Moon theme that in some way brings me up short, when approaching the brink of change.  Just before I am about to move through to the next  stage some incident happens which brings me back, to the injury at 17, to the arrest, to the circumscribed circumference of a circle that is like a ring pass not fate has ordained for me.  Inwardly I travel far and wide, while being holed up with injury and perhaps the experience which has made it necessary for me to reach out more for help, has been good for me.  My Saturn Moon often tries to tough it out and go it alone.  I am aware that emotionally I need to sustain myself, but connections, too are so very important when we are feeling vulnerable.  Friendships from an unlikely place have been given to me during this past ordeal with my ankle that show me I am not totally alone.  And yet I get frightened by Saturn at times, thinking that planet has some power not only over me but over the entire collective of my family.  I watched my sister struggle with incapacitation following a cerebral bleed and become bed ridden in the last few years of her life.   She also had the Mars Saturn aspect.

I think of the lessons that Saturn may be here to teach me.  To be aware of my tendency to over reach (which is a family trait), to stay grounded and in touch with reality.  To accept the differences between myself and others with good grace.   To put protective and effeive boundaries around my feelings, while respecting the limits of others and to realise that although I am a spirit, matter is the principle through with I must manifest and which I cannot escape as long as my soul is incarnated in this physical body.

And as I look at my swollen ankle and face the fact that the damage sustained to it may not be reparable, I think of Chiron, the wounded healershot in the foot by an arrow that contained poison from the Hydra’s den that Heracles had on its tip from his encounter with the Hydra, that many headed Scorpionic (Plutonian) beast.  The injury I sustained happened after some poisonous family secrets were shared with me following my mother’s 90th in early November.  The profound power of both astrology and mythology to define soulful archetypal truths is strongly with me.  Our family has had a Hydra its heart we have all been affected by the multi generational demon of alcoholism.  Battling that has proved useless, understanding it has been more important and in the end that understanding has probably come from the battles that failed or wounded us. The scars remain, they need tending and healing.

In mythology it is only when Heracles gets down on his knees and raised the Hydra to the light does the awesome beast reveal its jewel.  So in the end some kind of fail, or fall or injury makes possible surrender of a kind, and makes time for the necessary healing.

As the words flow out from me in this blog which, as usual is revealing another face I get out of the way and let it flow, I get closer to some answers or images which rise up and reveal their truths.  And I have felt a particular cleansing and healing over the past couple of days.

I read a beautiful piece of writing this morning by the poet Mark Nepo.  In it he spoke about how life is an ongoing migration of a sort that carries us across shifting oceans to ever new experiences and realisations.  He uses the powerful metaphor of the ocean swell being akin to the process we undergo in living and journeying each day.  At times we are caught up in the belly of a wave, at other times we are cresting.  While in the belly we cant see much and things can get scary, but then another day reveals to us insights we did not have before and so we are riding, for a time, on the wave’s crest.  In closing I will leave you with the following quote which really resonated with me deeply.

The life of the soul on Earth has us bobbing on a raft of flesh, in and out of the view of eternity, and the work of the inner pilgrim is to keep eternity in our heart and mind’s eye when dropped in the belly of our days.

April 30, Our Constant Arrival, The Book of Awakening

The Magic of Self Empowerment

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It never ceases to amaze me, but even years after coming out of a relationship with a narcissist I can still have times when the pull of that connection and all that happened during the time it lasted comes back to me. At these times I lose the sense that the narcissist was a narcissist and I think, perhaps it was me that got it wrong, and after all that is what I was conditioned to believe by them.  I have just noticed a post on Kim Saeed’s site that caused me to think of an issue I often encountered with the narcissist.  That is, he would tell me how difficult it was to love someone like me, a person with so many issues and irritating habits.

http://letmereach.com/2014/09/21/to-the-woman-whos-made-to-feel-like-shes-difficult-to-love/

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend about depression, grief and sadness, but particularly about something I believe, that in our modern culture we often don’t differentiate all that well between the three.   I have been no stranger to sadness, have had to carry my fair share and I also thing that some people are more temperamentally inclined to see into the so called “darker” side of human experience. Often early experiences predispose them to this.  These kind of experiences lead us to distrust.  If we have been subject to invalidation, hurt and humiliation, especially in our earliest source relationships it is likely we might attract this again and be very wary or hyper-vigilant to such mistreatment.  These traumatic experiences incline us to carry a reservoir of pain and sadness or suspicion that is an apt response to what happened to us.

In this case in later life we can tend to believe that this is what we will encounter in the world, and in some situations we will, but not in all. Its about learning what we attract, what is valid, what is healing, what is hurtful, what needs to be taken on board and what needs to be ignored or let go.  If we have been the subject, especially of covert aggression or emotional abuse it is essential that we can see it and name it for what it is.

Often the people who have “sinned” against us as covert aggressors have a desire for us not to see what they are doing, they are quick to deny it, denigrate us, call our perceptions into question, turn the tables on us or make a joke of us and our “over sensitivity”. Understanding how covert aggression can be directed at us is most important for us, in order to escape from the crazy making labyrinth of tangled meaning and projected blame which is a cover for their own lack of empathy that these people weave for us, and from which it can be so difficult to extricate ourselves.

“Sometimes the abuse narcissists inflict on their relationship partners can be quite subtle, especially at first.  For example, because in their own eyes they can do no wrong, when something bad happens, it’s always their partner’s fault.  As a result, the partner can become the target not only the object of blame but also the target of the narcissist’s ridicule, disdain, maltreatment. Gaslighting and even sadistic torment.  Most folks who, for some reason, found themselves drawn to a narcissist early on begin really feeling regret at this point in the relationship. But this kind of abusive behavior often happens so subtly and incrementally that it takes a whole lot of being subjected to it before the victim finally sees the light.

Source :   http://www.manipulative-people.com article : Narcissism-and-relational-abuse-both-active-and-passive

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Certainly in my relationship with the narcissist, one big issue that caused problem was the sadness and grief I carried over my father’s death, the ending of my marriage, 16 years of alcoholism in which I surrendered myself and a host of hurtful incidents where I found myself to be alone and discarded.  Showing any serious emotion would invite a tirade of abuse about how it affected the narcissist. Lacking emotional depth my narcissistic partner was not comfortable with displays of sadness and grief and most especially wanted me to be over the pain so that his life could run more smoothly. The law would be laid down over how I needed to change, so as to make him feel more at peace. I can certainly understand that it was distressing and yet the implications was that my grief and pain was damaging to him, just as my period pain was, after all it left him “so alone”.

At this stage in my life I was still in core trauma and still working to develop awareness.  Finding a way to heal involved taking flight from nearly all toxic relationships and I ended up wounded by traumatic injuries which were my body’s way of expressing the violence that was done to me in earlier years. It is only recently in reading Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery that I have come to understand this.  Judith writes that when people who have been emotionally or physically abused come into therapy they carry the violence of their perpetrators as a third entity in the healing relationship.  I have certainly experienced this  The hurt and anger that could never  be felt, as it was denied by our abusers has to be felt, understood, expressed and released.  Only in this way can we find relief from our symptoms.  The difficult thing is that when such anger and rage comes out it can force others away from us , re-traumatising us further.

At the end of my relationship with the narcissist he told me “I deserved a commendation for sticking with you so long.” Ouch!!!! And Urrggghh?  How even to reply to that? I think silence was the best response, but not one I was capable of at the times.  I could not yet see nonsense as nonsense. I did not yet love myself enough to let it go.

The more powerful point was this : Did I believe it to be true? Finding a way out of believing it to be true has taken quite a number of years and still on some days, when I am feeling emotionally fragile and when the world has turned against me again for being in pain or feeling suicidal I can slip back into thinking it was, indeed all my fault. But was it my fault that I carried this emotional history and the bodily impact of it?

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The most telling thing for me now and the thing which now determines the kinds of people I stay close to is this. How comfortable are they in allowing me to express the truth of what I feel inside, even when it is dark our uncomfortable for them.

Last Monday at my support group there was a movement to silence people sharing information of their abusive pasts that was “too confronting” for other members. One person there who this applied to was quick to say she would not be coming back, if that was to be the case. I’ve seen so many people walk away from this group due to this issue before. The point is, what if they have nowhere else to go to speak about what happened to them?

Several of us spoke to this issue at the meeting on Monday. The truth is I don’t believe that such things are depression, suicidal thoughts and feelings and murderous rage are illnesses or dis-eases. I believe they are valid responses to a traumatised and traumatising past, especially an emotionally invalidating or abusing one.

I was part of an AA recovery for six years from the age of 31. But over time I became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of alcoholism as a disease. Reading more and undergoing my own recovery over years has shown me that it is in fact, a response to traumas or attachment problems conscious or unconscious. It is a way of self medicating pain that is too much too bear as well. That is not to say it works. But the greater issue is do we see it as a cause or a symptom of something else?

In my own case I do believe in recovering that empowerment has been the most important thing. Empowerment to know that what I have endured is true, that it has caused wounds but also a strength, that becomes available to me once I can identify those wounds and move toward awareness and healing. That strength can only be found to the degree that I am empowered to know the full truth of what I have experienced. In the finding of channels to express this truth where it will be validated I find my empowerment. Without this sense of empowerment I may remain a victim forever trapped in a limited idea of myself as an “alcoholic” when in fact I have not drunk in many years.

In the relationship that I started this blog talking about, in time my partner left as he was more comfortable and in tune with people who drank. I never foist my non drinking on anyone else. In fact my ex husband drank throughout the 11 years of our marriage. He didn’t have a problem with it and I never interfered with nor commented on his drinking. In the case of my ex narcissist partner, in the end what he valued in me, ie my abstinence from drugs and alcohol for him became a reason why I was flawed. Perhaps I was a bit at fault on those times when he did drink and was scared to reveal it to me as he feared my reaction, something I found it difficult to understand. I don’t think I would ever judge someone for drinking but perhaps having seen the damage it can do and the way it spins people off course from deeper emotional truths I lost tolerance for it at times. God knows I’m far from perfect. Life has just forced me to make certain choices for my own emotional health.

Since I’ve been thinking a lot about empowerment lately, I had a little inward smile andn ah ha!! moment when I checked the ephemeris the other night and saw that Pluto the planet of transformation, empowerment and healing is due to move forward in a few days.   My interest in empowerment is a result of having felt so disempowered for years and looking to people, places and things that, at times stole my power. Rather I gave it away to those channels, not knowing better.  Finding my power again has been about finding and connection to the deeper emotions and reactions I had to bury in order to be considered “nice” and amenable in my mixed up schooling, parenting and relationships.

Something I do know the darker Plutonian emotions such as shame, guilt, fear, anger, grief and sadness all have had so much to teach me about what it is to be human. At times I feel so sad that these are the very emotions denigrated by our society. It seems these days that if you have depression there is not a recognition of the powerful cocktail of mixed emotions that this can contain. Surely there is much gold there within the dark of pain and suffering that can be mined for meaning once we become aware of the deep causes that lead us to become disempowered and stuck in a victim or post traumatic freeze.  When animals are traumatised they come out fighting and shaking.  As Peter Levine has shown this is how they throw off the trauma.  So it is with us.  Contacting our disabused power might not look “pretty” but it is essential to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing. And is this not, the deeper way we begin to come in contact with our souls and become embodied as vital spirits alive and present on planet earth?

The poet John Keats said that we should call this world the vale of soul making. In that way would we come to know the purpose of the world. Certainly this isn’t a common view but it is one that attracts me. These days I feel drawn to soulful people, the ones who are willing to allow the pain time to percolate in order to transform into something richer.

This is the main reason I broke contact with my last therapist. The implication was that things needed to be fixed…. Maybe she took it as a reflection on her competence that this should occur. But where was the notion that it might take some time, some support, some containment, some holding. I thought that was what cranio sacral therapy was for. Obviously I was mistaken.   Another dis-appointment, or reality check, rather. However as I have contained the experience over this past week I have come to a sense of peace about it.  The most important thing for me is to understand and act on my own genuine feelings and truth.  This is not to say validation is not necessary, especially when we have been confused by abusers and disempowered.  I have been lucky to have friends who have validated me.

What I guess I am trying to say in this blog is this: believe in yourself, trust your emotional reality, even when people try to get you to distrust it or tell you it is wrong.  Look for and surround yourself with those people who encourage you to express your truth.

In my last blog I shared an interpretation of co-dependency by John Lee where he said that co dependents repeatedly betray their values. This has stayed with me. I have natal Venus square to natal Neptune and this to me seems one description of what could happen under that kind of aspect. I look back to all the times I betrayed my own values. Now with Saturn’s passage maybe that is ending. Suffering has given me pause and has been the rich fertiliser that has given birth to insight. For this I am grateful, in and through this, I have found peace.

I’m beginning to feel a sense of lightness and joy that has been absent for so many years.  Lately I have been  dancing around my living room a lot, feeling the joy that comes from unrestricted, expressive movement, just as I did as a child before I became bound up and confined emotionally.  On some level I am busting out of the prison that has kept me caged up for so many years.

Who knows?  What the narcissist said about me, had nothing to do with me, but paradoxically it may even have been a projection of my own inner critical voice attracted by me so I could undergo this journey, this healing and this learning.  What ever it was on some level I am grateful for that relationship. I know it was not an accident or a sign of something wrong and it appeared in my life when Saturn moved into my first house, awakening all my Saturn, Moon, Mars, Chiron, Pluto issues for healing.  It was a sign of something to learn from and grow through. Seeing it in this light as Pluto slows to move forward in my 5th house of personal power brings me a comfort and peace that feels warm to me.  I feel the inner fire and enfold myself within it.  Often lately I hear the words.  Tend the inner fire, stay close to your centre.  It is here I feel joy, it is here I feel and find my inner peace.

Reflections on the Scorpio Experience

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I have a very strong connection to Scorpio and the ruling energies of this planet are two fold.  If you follow the older, traditional rulership, it is Mars.  If you follow the more modern designated rulership, it is Pluto, planet of the underworld, unconscious, depth and intensity, regeneration, destruction, rebirth and transformation. 

Dealing with Scorpio and Plutonian energies requires a trip to the dark side.  I sometimes equate it with acavernous pit, with depression, with decay, gestation, decomposition, and the unseen alchemical processes by which different substances are transformed or change from one form to another after being forced to undergo an experience that can sear our soul’s deeply and is most definitely not of our choosing.  Issues of power and powerlessness are tied up with these experiences, especially in close personal relationships where an exchange of energy is taking place between people.

Pluto and Scorpio rule some fairly difficult experiences.  As part of the process a descent to the bottom of some fairly gruelling and harrowing emotions is necessary for us to emerge and evolve.  Reactions to the experience, either of loss or betrayal, rape, violation or sundering, all Plutonian experiences can leave us with a legacy of anger, rage and resentment that can fester like a toxin.  When covered over and denied the wound can turn gangrenous, alternatively these can all be the raw material of our growth and transformation.  We need the healing balm to be applied and often we have to wrestle with some dark forces and forms of experience in order to come out the other side or re-emerge, stronger, battle scared, wiser having developed a deeper far less superficial response to the situation.

Paradoxically, the very fuel for the positive energies that can result is something that may be viewed as negative but through the process has been transformed into something that is a source of great nourishment and personal power.  One that is deeply organic since it has been born out of deeply real substance.  In the process we gain insight, a way of seeing what could not have been revealed if we did not endure the necessary travail.  This is expressed in the alchemical image of gross, dark matter and substance being transformed by different processes into a highly burnished gold.

I have seen mentioned in another blog these kind of experiences described as the Phoenix process.  This provides a powerful image of the Scorpionic or Plutonian experience, in which the fire that the bird burns up inside is generated by deeply inward psychological processes in reaction to trauma, loss, betrayal or endings of some kind.  Under a Plutonian rulership or transit the soul often experiences a severing or cutting away from attachments that which no longer serve the soul in its forward evolution and growth.  With Pluto and Scorpio we experience events to do with powerlessness, loss of control, or alternatively the seeking of control as a result of feeling powerless, especially as a child. 

There can be the inward decision of the soul to no longer allow a suffering of the kind that was effected by having experienced its own deep vulnerability and helplessness, thus the generation of narcissistic disturbances which put the soul in a position of power by denying and projecting the vulnerable difficult parts that never gain acceptance in the eyes of the parents.    A strong Pluto signature in our chart may represent an attraction to these kind of people and experiences. 

In myth the God Pluto wears a helmet which renders him invisible to the naked eye.  In re-editing this I had an idea of how much this might actually relate to therapists, those who take on a healing role, and in moving into a position of power hide or conceal their own pain and vulnerabilities.  Of course, having undergone such experiences one would also naturally be drawn to help others undergoing something similar.   I also feel this is a powerful metaphor for the psyche when it has undergone experiences of which it has not been able to obtain conscious awareness until later in life, when situations we attract reawaken what is hurting us but has, as yet, not come fully to consciousness.  The difficult experiences that we undergo in the Plutonian process occur for the purpose of taking us down to face parts of ourselves that may have been rejected or buried in earlier life or that we have lost connection to.  Implied is the fact that there is a strong emotional context to these since water and fire as elements, to me speak of living e – motions, energies in motion in the soull

In her powerful retelling and exploration of these Scorpionic and Plutonian themes, Descent to the Goddess,  the Jungian astrologer, Sylvia Bretton Perrera explores a lot of the issues which people undergo in the Scorpio or Plutonian experiences. The legend that Sylvia relates is taken from an ancient Babylonian tale of sister Erishkegal and Innana.  Like many myths and tales, this one contains resonances and metaphors for profound psychological processes that we can undergo as humans.  The telling of this tale certainly helped me to understand some of the complex inner processes I was undergoing as someone with a strong connection to Pluto.  It speaks about finding a way to travel down to visit the parts of our self that are in pain, sitting with them mirroring them enabling the pain to work its way through our system so that toxins are eliminated and in the process we heal, transform, gain insight, slough off old parts of the self and birth new ones. 

On a personal note my mother is a triple sign Scorpio, with the Sun, Mercury and Saturn there in a fairly close conjunction which sits smack bang on top of my natal Neptune.  It has not always been easy for me to see her, to connect with her and, to be honest, growing up with her was like being on constant alert for whatever was going to explode out.  She carried a lot of expressed and repressed anger which as children we could be on the receiving end of.  It is an interesting developmental fact but the lack of something really needed by the child sets up a gravitational pull towards that which was lost or longed for, but perhaps, could not become conscious.   What the parent longed for and did not get replays in the life of the child if consciousness has not come for the parent and then the child is left carrying a specific developmental burden or field of charge that attracts certain relationships and personalities like iron filings to a magnet.

I guess that my relationship with my mother, the hurt and anguish that it generated, for me are all part of the Scorpio experience, and surround issues which I have written about on this blog. 

For what is worth these are some of the associations and thoughts I have had on the Scorpio Experience.  I would be interested to hear some of yours.