We have feelings for a reason

In many ways the rational enlightenment, which was a critical turning point in human history together with the ascendency of patriarchal forms of social control put paid to so called ‘irrational’ feelings.  At the same time both forces created an enormous split between mind and body, a split we are working hard to understand and heal, a split that leaves us many of us lost, disconnected and disempowered.

I love how synchronicity works, most especially where my blog is concerned as this evening I was re reading a very important section in a book I have referenced before by Andrea Mathews, Letting Go of Good and that section, titled Understanding Your Inner World : Your Internal Messaging System addresses the issue of repressed feeling.  Shortly after reading it I came across a link to another post that had been reblogged by a follower on the work of author and therapist Mama Gena (aka Regina Thomashauer) and in the words of the author of that blog

She discusses how our patriarchal society trains us to control and stifle our emotions, which causes them to fester. She writes “our patriarchal society doesn’t honor grief. (Or rage. Or longing. Or jealousy. Or frustration–just to name a few).”

According to Mathews, following the rational enlightenment

Emotional people, or people who are in touch with internal message, such as intuition, came to be thought of as unstable.  This was because emotions and other internal stimuli could not be trusted or relied upon at the time.  They are here one minute and gone the next.  They make us do things we later regret. They drive us insane or to a proximity of insanity.  They make us worry, ruminate, and do all kinds of other things with our thoughts that are not at all rational.  No.  We need to turn off emotions and other internal stimuli in favour of thought.  Thought is always rational.  But, of course, this is not true.

What we have done in the name of reason is repress.  We have repressed emotions, intuition, discernment, and other internal stimuli, as well as awareness of actions, words, thoughts and anything else we consider to be unacceptable.  We have, in fact, repressed awareness of our own inner world.  And of course, any time we repress awareness of our own inner world our thoughts are not going to be very reasonable – or rational – because they cannot now come from wholeness but from only one segment of who we are.  Thought that exists without a direct connection to emotion, intuition, or other internal messages, or which exists relative to a bunch of connections to repressed material is not going to be reasonable  Indeed repression make us more unstable – not less.

.. most of us don’t want to know what goes on in our inner world… we suspect that we will find badness and all kinds of pain, betrayal, secret darkness and angst that we just don’t want to have to wade through… there is also a large contingent of spiritual leadership… that teaches that our so called “negative” thoughts and emotions are dangerous to our well being.   According to these teachers, our thoughts are always supposed to be positive and our emotions are always supposed to be set on bliss, and when they are not, that is evidence that bad old ego has stepped up and taken hold of us. …. Much like the old traditional ideas about the devil, these ideas about ego set us up for a battle between various aspects of the identity.  They do NOT facilitate an awakening to the authentic Self.  They simply have people struggling and striving to rid themselves of an essential part of their being, in much the same way that the Age of Reason did.

..These teachings and those that remain from the Age of Reason have a very similar result – self-betrayal….(but) our emotions, our desires, our intuitions, and our discernment are essential to understanding both the identity we have and the authentic Self.  We will not come to understand either, nor will we heal any brokenness until we have come to understand the inner world.

And those emotions which are most helpful to us are very much a part of our inner world and exist for a reason.  In the following chapters of that section of her book Letting Go of Good Mathews deals with the emotions which she sees as critical to our internal messaging system along with intuition, discernment and desire.  We literally cannot survive nor thrive well until we have learned what these emotions have to teach us.  In an earlier post I already shared a post taken from that book on fear as one of the internal messengers that come as protector and teacher.

The other three emotions explored by Mathews are as follows :

  1. Resentment
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness/Sorrow

I am sure many of us out there have been educated at one time or another to believe that one or other of these four emotion is bad or negative in some way but really, as Mathews explores in chapters devoted to each, each has a message for us, a message that we ignore or dismiss at our peril.

Resentment comes to teach us when we are overstepping our boundaries and not sufficiently honouring ourselves. When we have been hurt or shamed or our anger invalidated.   Resentment makes us feel something over and over again until we pay attention to that something and deal with it.   If it is something we cannot change we need to walk away or at least put up boundaries.

Anger comes as a cry of authenticity from our true sense of self to let us know if we have been diminished or treated unjustly in some way,  “when we forget (anger), it comes up to remind us that we exist, that we are real, that we are here in the room with others by whom we wish to be seen and heard, and that we matter.  We have a primal need to exist, to be real, to be here, and to matter to ourselves.”  Anger will let us know when something that is not okay is happening to us.  Abusers or drainers may try to convince us anger is a selfish emotion but anger always exists in tandem with assertion so we can take action to self protect and self care, so “anger is an energy that must be heard and authenticated”, most importantly by us.  Buried anger will make itself known in psycho somatic ways if we don’t listen to it and take heed.   Anger cannot be denied without difficult consequences.

Sorrow or sadness is an “admission that we are not in control…(letting us know) there has been a searing loss…. Sorrow knows that what we wanted is gone.”  According to Mathews the purpose of sorrow is to get us to acceptance, the more we accept sadness and allow ourselves to grieve, rather than block, defend and deny our grief, the more transformation can happen in our lives, or opening to deeper spiritual truths.  Good sorrow (well grieved) can cleanse us, clear away fog and toxins, ground us and make us more human and authentic, as well as emotionally available.

Mathews worked with addicts in recovery and in every case she saw how those who resorted to addiction had denied or somehow negated their true sorrow over a loss.  Many blamed themselves in some way and she tells the story of Jared in her book a man whose mother was murdered when he went out one night to a friends place and never spoke about the torment he carried inside, until it emerged in group therapy.  Through grieving and finally externalising the blame he had held silently within and drank over for years he moved towards a new acceptance and understanding of loss.  Love of his self which had been so absent before grew out of this experience, as it will for all of us when we finally have compassion and understanding shown to us which will help us to show to ourselves the same by and through honouring our true feelings.

Mathews concludes with these words.

When we make time to be with our emotions, listening to their wise messages, they often leave us with powerful and transformative shifts towards healing.

When we deny ourselves this process, when we continue to engage with the lie so widespread in a toxic and rapidly deconstructing patriarchal split mind-set, we cut ourselves off from the true source of our healing, which always lies deep within our selves and within the emotions that so often hide deep within buried under our thoughts about them.

Forgiveness : a high price?

I am reflecting a lot on forgiveness lately.  Part of us when hurt wants to exact a retribution of kinds or at least block love from flowing back to the source of the hurt because perhaps we feel this is the only way we can hold onto a boundary and escape the pain of more hurt.  And by all means consciousness demands we find out who is hurtful to us most often from their own unconscious pain and wounded.

I always loved the saying “hurt people, hurt people”.

I shared earlier in a blog that I was so angry when I learned of something intensely hurtful my brother did to his daughter yesterday.  I felt anger burning through me like wild fire.  Maybe it triggered my own wounds, I am not sure but I was so impressed by my niece’s reaction.  She clearly owned the damage and lack of love in both parent’s as well as the unresolved hurt.

Maybe it might help more of us if we saw this kind of unfeeling narcissistic abuse as the outgrowth of an evolutionary pathway in which older generations were not allowed to feel hurt or pain or were humiliated or emotionally abandoned by a parent stunting permanently their own empathy.

In his excellent book on narcissism therapist Alexander Lowen shares his insight into how much early humiliation in childhood can lead people to develop a narcissistic defence, blocking feelings of vulnerability and deep anger at violation which then being disallowed may often permanently disable the person turning them into a rationaliser or someone who avoids further emotional pain by becoming a people pleaser or adopting a false self, or alternatively shutting them down emotionally and leading them to project rejected vulnerability towards others, most often children who act it out then get shamed, exiled or scapegoated all over again.

The way out of this dilemma involves owning the anger, to re-engage the assertive impulse for self care and self protection and end the shaming that can be internalised.  Holding onto the anger helps keep the defence in place, turning too soon towards forgiveness may mean being open to more abuse.  But in the long run some letting go of intense anger may need to take place as anger that hardens into resentment can become corrosive and lead to physical and emotional problems.

The next step often lays in realising the damage in the person that caused the pain.  Seeing they were once a vulnerable child defenceless against a parent’s inner conflicts or aggression or splitting of and hardening of feeling.  In my brother’s case I see why he may have had to shut down his sensitivity early on.  I know some of the things my Dad did to him in the late 1940s that were punishing and over the top. Last year he also revealed a bit about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Christian brothers.

I asked my Mum if she was aware of this abuse and she said that no, my brother just came home and hung his school coat on the wall and quietly went off saying nothing.  I felt so sad for him when he told me that story in June last year I wrote a blog about it.

When I felt the anger to my brother I wondered at my right to judge someone who was acting out of buried pain.  I almost considered that I never want to have contact with him again on the other side and then questioned that.  Then today I read this on forgiveness :

Forgiveness is a selective remembering of what someone did right, at a time when the ego mind is shrieking about what someone did wrong  We always have a choice about where to focus – whether to blame someone or to bless someone.  I can concentrate my attention on what you did wrong, or I can seek to remember a moment when you tried to do right.  Although the ego insists that you don’t deserve it, the spirit absolutely know that you do.  And my ego has an ulterior motive, in seeking to attack you, it is seeking secretly to attack me.  Only when I remember who you really are (an innocent child of God, regardless of your mistakes) can I remember who I am (an innocent child of God, regardless of mine.)

Condemning another person, while it might give us a few moments of temporary relief, will always boomerang and make us feel worse.  If I attack you, you will attack me back – or at least I’ll think you did.  In terms of how consciousness operates it doesn’t matter who attacked first, who ever attacks feels attacked.

Forgiveness takes us off the wheel of suffering. It delivers us to quantum realms beyond time and space, when thoughts of guilt have marred neither your innocence nor mine.  This is summed up by Rumi “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”  There, in this space of no-thing the universe miraculously self corrects.  In the presence of love, things automatically return to divine right order.  That which the ego has made imperfect is returned to the track of divine perfection, releasing possibilities for healing that would not other wise exist :

I’m sorry

I’m sorry, too.

Simple worlds, and how much better those words are than the ego’s alternative.

Mmm, but what of the person who when you say sorry, uses that as an opening to deny or as a weapon to beat you over the head with?  I was warned of this in my last relationship with a narcissist, to be aware that apologising to someone such as he may be used against me and it was.  In this case it was his ego that had shut down and locked the door and I could do nothing about it but walk away, knowing I was powerless and in time knowing that the price of holding onto the outrage was too much to bear, that in the end letting go and allowing the person to be shut down was the only way to become free, knowing I deserved something else.

Forgiveness, it most certainly is a thorny issue.  There are times I was slighted and could only see the wrong and the hurt and anger eclipsed other things that were right, so I do agree with some of what Marianne Williamson writes in that quote above but I still have some reservations and I wondered what others think of it?  Maybe you might like to comment below.  If we are repeatedly hurt and other refuse to own up, surely its in our best interests to keep a wide berth.

Struggles with guilt : insights into anxiety

I awoke struggling with a lot of guilt this morning.  As much as I can write that its not okay for the critic to beat me up, its also important that as an adult I take responsibility for my own life and feelings.  The complication is that so many of my current feelings date back and are connected to old feelings and hurts, emotional absences and injuries from the past.  When I put the sole focus on those I can become resentful and bitter, hurt and angry which is fair enough but if those feelings are poisoning or affecting certain choices I am making today I am in trouble and not only am I in trouble but others around me are too.

The issue that I am struggling with this morning is my financial dependency on my mother.  Much as I express here all my angry feelings with my Mum she has tried to compensate in many ways for what she failed to give me by providing financial support when I have needed it.  As a result I have chosen not to work for the past 10 years following my accident which gave me a head injury and focus on my healing and recovery work.   Although I posted a post yesterday on how that is the most important work for me, at times I don’t fully believe it.  I feel that I could have been more responsible as an adult for myself financially.

Then I go through all the guilt over the chain of inner causes that contributed to the financial difficulty we had back in March when due to a real estate agents pressure I put in an offer for a townhouse that I then wished to retract but could not, he had kept us pinned at the house on the day of the auction when it was passed in and pressured for an offer that day, knowing that if we made that offer then we would have not cooling off period and no way out.  Due to the fact I had not properly read the contract I was not aware.  I made a mistake and I have had to own it, but my Mum has been the one who paid up.

I was willing to lose the deposit but due to my mother’s issue with money she was not prepared to let it go and so bought the place herself rather than see the deposit forgone.  She has tried to rent it since then but no renters have been willing to take it on and then a few weeks ago she asked me to consider moving into it and I have once again been stuck in a back forward process of trying to take the easier way and move in which means surrendering my older cottage but also the creative beautiful aspects of it.  One part of me says why not just let this place go.  It was my mistake that led to the problem and really as an adult I should own it, not depend on my Mum but it was a failure too on her part on the day when I turned to her for help on that day that made me make the offer and she also left me alone while chatting to her friend at the time the auction was taking place which gave the agent space to move in and try to force my hand by putting in the high bid the owner wanted when no one else was bidding.

All of this is interesting to me as I am in the midst of reading the book Power Over Panic at the moment and in it the author Bronwyn Fox explains how it is the passive perfectionist who most often ends up with an anxiety condition.   She suffered from anxiety and panic attacks herself so she knows what is involved in recovery and the point she makes is that it is our fear which drives so much of what contributes to the condition in the first place, fear of not being all things to all people, fear of being selfish if we care for ourselves and put our own needs first, fear of disappointing others and being real and then fear of the anxiety or panic itself which is what keeps the attacks going.

As I have been reading this book I have seen our own family pattern with poor boundaries and interpersonal connections of truth and emotional honesty.   Our family pattern is to always ‘do the right thing’, swallow our own feelings and needs and then to over extend ourselves and not take good care of our boundaries and body.   And then this can also dovetail into a very strong adult child pattern of taking on responsibility for what is not our issue due to feeling we are responsible for others, which leads to emotional caretaking and then emotional, physical and spiritual depletion.  We also loose our own deeper connection to joy if the inner critic is always driving us with its perfectionistic project and not letting us rest in and find what lights up our own hearts independent of other demands or our own inner pressure to help or be the good guy.

As I look at it I see my Mum has at times helped us too much in the wrong ways.  I went to another meeting yesterday of my Al Anon group and there were a couple there whose son has recently entered into recovery.  They were sharing about how they needed to support him but not too much and to his own detriment, for our recovery is really a personal issue, how others treat us can trigger us ultimately as much as people would like to argue that it doesn’t, but becoming an adult also means learning about what is triggering and taking the steps for self care.

Anyway I don’t know if this blog has a theme.  I just woke up and needed to write down some of the things I am struggling with in my own head.  I had pretty much made the decision I am not going to move into the town house but commit to this place despite all the responsibility such a decision entails.  Winter is a hard time as my house is very cold and really needs a better heating system.  But winter will not last forever and is a time when its good for the emotional psyche to get in tune with the swing of nature and look inwards.   Even as I type this I know I could make another decision and make the best of it and I realise how lucky I really am to have so much choice and the support that I do.

I never fully got the emotional support I needed in the past. I came from a family where we were taught to serve others more than understand and respect our own inner boundaries, feelings and needs.  I see how the pattern has replayed and how so much of it was deeply unconscious.  In a post yesterday I was sharing how we can only say we are free to choose when we are fully conscious of all of these unconscious patterns and factors which makes me question a point that Bronwyn makes in her book on anxiety and panic  attacks.  We develop these conditions not because we are bad or weak but due to the fact that we have lot to learn and become conscious of.  Being diagnosed with such an illness or condition is actually a wake up call to our inner self to begin to become more conscious and aware and to take care of what most needs support, comfort and nurturing in our own lives.  If we beat ourselves up for suffering with them we cant really go forward on our recovery and being kind and compassionate and loving to ourselves is an enormous part of overcoming such conditions. If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks I really highly recommend the book.  I am learning a lot from it.

An agent of destruction

My godmother died yesterday.  Her death has provoked so many memories.  In the later years of her life we were estranged after years in which she and my godfather tried to support me at times when my emotionally unavailable parents failed to.  It was with her I lived for a short time after returning to Australia to live a few years after my father died.  As I look back to that time I see the deep, deep pain my young adult self was in and the wreckage she had already begun to live at that state at the age of 25 in the early stages of my alcoholism.  I was hungry and empty and longing for love and a present family and parents and my god parents gave me some of this.  However, emotionally it was my godfather, Piet who really saw into the depths of me and validated why I needed to turn to alcohol in the family I grew up in, he gave me the missing love and understanding I never got from my father.

Piet left Holland in 1938 with my father and they both went to the Dutch East Indies and he told me in later years of my father’s relentless dream to become a millionaire, in later years he did not see my father as much as Uncle Piet was only ever a ‘lowly’ mechanic and I loved him so much for that and use the word ‘lowly’ to describe how society might view a person who was more real than real and had a heart of gold and who I admire more than any millionaire in the world.

My godfather was the soft emotional one, my godmother was harder having had a very tough childhood and having lost a brother to suicide at a young age, she had to bury her pain under a lot of stoicism and philosophy.  In later years she turned to yoga to find peace but there was always a hardness in her and she shut down in later years and had my godfather diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when really it was just the pain of his own deep childhood abandonment having lost a mother very young that came to the surface and began to manifest in anger and clinging.

Anyway the story of my connection to them both would take many pages, and in the later years we were less connected especially after Piet died in 2003 and my marriage broke up the following year.

In the later years my quest for love took me into a very dysfunctional relationship and it was to my godmother that I turned in 2011 when that relationship finally hit the wall all around the anniversary of my father’s death.  My emotional wounds and inner child’s emotional abandonment was so close to the surface and I ran to Sydney and away from my home town after a fight with my Mum when she callously mocked me for grieving.  My godmother took me in but she didn’t understand any of the emotional side of what I was going through and so, at that time and I must say in a lot of pain, I turned to internet dating thinking that if only I could find another man to love me everything would be okay. I now see the fallacy of that, my real inner work had to begin with the ending of that relationship in 2010.  My godmother turned on me one day and said I had to leave her place the next day, as her grandson was coming and that was not true as she had a spare bed and room for both of us.  I was distraught and ended up moving to a boarding house and then into a share house with an abusive alcoholic before finally returning to my home town 6 months later.  It was hard to forgive my godmother for not supporting me at the time I most needed it but I don’t resent her for it as much any more, it was what she felt she needed to do and what she did put me in a deeply painful place .  For some time I turned towards more dysfunction as a result.  Now I see that then I was on the brink of my deepest wound and emotional work in recovery, emotionally I needed to take care of myself but that would take some time and a lot more realisation to happen.

Death of someone is very final but I guess it is not the end of the relationship we had with them that lives on in our inner life and soul.  I spoke to my godmother last night in my soul and shared with her the tears and pain of how hard it was to be abandoned emotionally again by the one person I hoped to trust, but while my tears fell I saw she did the best she could from her level of consciousness.  Speaking to her daughter a moment ago and hearing how she suffered at my godmother’ s hands from her harshness and emotional shut down confirmed so much for me.  It was that generation’s way of coping and my godmother shut down on so much, so of course she had to shut me out and send me away into the wilderness, that was all part of my journey.

My godmother and my mother were best friends. I feel so deeply for my Mum today.  She has lost her best friend after 70 years of friendship and today she has responsibilities due to the debacle with the property we bought at auction to deal with on the back of her grief.  I started this post with the heading An Agent of Destruction because sharing about all this with my therapist this morning that is how I feel.  I feel bad due to what happened with my godmother, even though I was only seeking a place to protected and cared for, I feel so bad about what happened with the property even though that all happened too because I didn’t really have adequate protection and care from outside or inside.  I am not a destroyer and I am not bad, but that is how it sometimes feels.

I was reading something about blame, struggle, grief and suffering in a book by Buddhist Teacher Londro Rinzler last night in which a student had gone to a Zen teacher crying over all of their heart break and saying to the Rishi “Why, why, why”, the teacher looked at him and just said “no reason”.  That really made me realise how much we make up about the reasons why something happened, how habituated and conditioned we are to look for someone to blame at times (most often ourselves) and how often we cause so much further suffering by not just sitting still and feeling what we need to feel and letting go into and learning, but insteaed thinking, thinking, thinking and questioning in such as way as we get tied up in knots and experience even more the suffering of suffering.

Do we need to create more suffering by the way we react to our suffering?  Is there a point where we can let others off the hook?  Can we also understand that at times there are reasons but the reasons we make up are off base and don’t have to focus on projections of badness and blame?  Are there ways we can show each other more tenderness, mercy and compassion.  These I feel are such important questions to ponder and amidst them they allow me to enter my heart and be with my own and other’s suffering in a way that doesn’t end up creating more suffering through judgement.

 

 

The wall of pain : reflections on trauma, healing, in-rage and out-rage.

I just read a comment from a new follower about trying to support a child who had been molested. My heart went deeply out to the mother but also to her daughter.   I was thinking about how much anger there is which comes from the deep sense of outrage a soul feels at being violated.  I believe there are natural laws of love, support, connection and protection which the soul in a body needs to be raised in a healthy way and grow a peaceful sense of self.  Often these are ripped apart due to the wounding of others.  We may have been so powerless over this wounding at the time and the result is a sense of deep rage or protest in the soul that can manifest in all kinds of destructive ways.  If we truly want to help others heal we have to be prepared to survive the onslaught of outrage and anger that needs to be expressed and find ways to contain it so that love and need and deep grief underlying it can break through.  It is not easy for anyone involved and empathy is the central ingredient!

The alternative when we have been violated is that out-rage becomes in-rage and we direct it towards the self and damage or self harm in some way.  This acting in is a huge part of so called ‘borderline’ conditions and may take the form of self harm like cutting or addiction or promiscuity which are just ways the soul tries to find to correct the deficits and express the truth of the pain.

A positive ‘holding’ environment is so important for those who were traumatised in relationship because then the entire issue of relating becomes difficult for the person and they are defences erected against it, necessary defences that enabled the person to survive such a damaging situation.  Such defences need to be dismantled slowly and the thought distortions due to lack of trust that developed to protect and keep the person ‘safe’ worked through over a long period.

In support groups such as Al Anon when my justified anger towards my parents was expressed, I was actively shut down by a couple of group members several times.  I also saw this done to another two people there.  Luckily during this time I finally found a good therapist and was able to work through my outrage at this further censoring.  (I have shared about it in my blog.)  I left the group as it wasn’t a truly supportive place for me.  I may have had more success in expressing all of that in AA with other survivors but even there I did not always feel safe and I needed professional support.

Anger and rage at times may seem over the top to those who have not been traumatised and cannot imagine what it is to live in that territory, but they are valid feelings which have a right to exist and need over time to be transformed so that deeper feelings that lie underneath can come to light.  Healing is a journey and a process and one in which we need to show love, empathy, support, encouragement, compassion and understanding to the survivor. They are not ‘mad’ (in the sense of crazy though they act this way) just carrying justifiable anger, an anger that is needed to mobilise their healing and the growth of healthy boundaries in which all feelings can be experienced and digested.

The rage of the survivor kept them safe.  It will need to be expressed and surrendered in the healing.  Support, love, compassion, empathy but also good boundaries on the part of the one who may be attacked are important too so as to recognise what his happening.

Born through struggle : Insights on resentment

Each morning on our walk Jasper and I seem to come across something that delights or informs our soul.  Today it was not as it appeared, as we passed the nature strip on our way to buy a bottle of water I saw what I thought was a single magpie struggling to get up.  I went towards it thinking that perhaps I could give it some help, but lo and behold, what looked like one bird struggling was actually two birds locked in what seemed to be like a death embrace.  As I moved towards them the situation became clearer as they began to wrestle with each other and then suddenly they both broke free and flew away separately.

So many things came into my mind at that point.  I was thinking about how the force of thwarted desire can hold us down and keep us locked in in a negative way in a struggle with something that we can’t quite let go of.  As we are held down and tangled up there is no way we can fly free until the force holding us down breaks open or apart in some way.  I then began to think about how we are actually birthed in some way if we stay with a struggle long enough to see things through to resolution.

I then went to have my morning coffee and came upon the following two readings by a case of synchronicity.

(1)

Struggle

In order to grow we must struggle.  Children struggle as they move through developmental stages, sorting and resorting what they learn and adapting it to new challenges. Our brain grows with use, new information creates brain growth and alters cell assemblies or particular constellations of memories.  Part of struggling is working through previous stages in new ones, changing thoughts and behaviour patterns, continually shaping and reshaping the self.  When I am able to struggle, I can change, and I can allow others to change in my presence.  I can move through stages of life without getting marooned in one because I can’t face the anguish of the struggle towards a new one.

I am willing to struggle

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with

composure one heavy mischance after another, not because

he does not feel them, but because a man is of high

and heroic temper.

Aristotle

(2)

Grace Versus Justice

I recognise today that when I carry resentment within me. I am held down and back by the strength of my own feeling.  The tree does not know that it elicits in me a feeling of serenity.  A sunset may not know that it gives me a feeling of safety and warmth – just as the person I resent does not know the extent of the hidden anger I carry daily in my heart.  I am not free when resentment drags on my soul force, dissipating its energy…

I cannot break free alone.  All the wisdom in the world cannot put back in my heart the love yearned for but never received, or had but lost.  Whatever the wound, it may take more than I have to heal it.  I need to ask for and pray for grace to enter my life and help me do what seems impossible.  I will pray for grace to move me toward freedom and away from my wish to destroy, knowing that I cannot destroy another without wounding myself.

I pray for grace

To forgive is the best revenge

The Bible

What kind of synchronicity led me towards those two birds today I will never know.  But I felt some important message that the soul of the world present in nature was trying to say to me today.  How many times I have remained locked in a death like struggle with resentment, not even knowing at the time that is what was really going on?   How much better off may I have been if I have prayed for grace before reacting and making things much worse?    And perhaps even this is asking too much of myself, asking me to have known something deeper that I could only learn by struggling and hurting and restuggling again and again.

This I do believe though : healing is always available to me.  In order to attain it I need the grace and strength to bear with and through my current challenges in order to birth the wisdom that waits for me on the other side of struggle.

Lancing a boil, cleaning out the wound

We are currently in the midst of a conjunction or meeting together of the planet of communications, perceptions, early relationships and siblings (Mercury) with the planet that deals with subconscious intense experiences which lead us either to a negotiation with deeply buried pain. We can deal with this pain through ongoing resentment or find a transformation of perspective (Pluto) through facing the dark and painful reactions we meet through the experience most especially through accepting and grieving the wound.  I  touched on this subject in an earlier post.

When I read about this conjunction the other day it made sense of the deep pain I went through between Friday and Sunday.  Today I feel I have come out into a clearing where I can see the deep, deep resentment, pain and anger I have always carried at a deeply subconscious level as a result of repeated abandonments, many of which took place at this time of year.   The abandonments go way, way back to my earliest childhood and I see the repetitive theme as it has played out over at least 50 or more years.  The intensity of the pain on Friday and Saturday felt for me almost too powerful to contain. Certain avenues of support were pulled back due to the rage that came out of me and other avenues of support opening up (thankfully) as I am not sure I could have contained the experience on my own, without both validation and an awareness of others who could help me raise my own perspective.

I guess that our psyche in some strange way arranges for us, experiences in which we get to discover our wounds.  There are wound awakeners around us who catalyse old pain in intense ways.  Through this experience we get to learn more about ourselves and the unconscious impact of our past on us, through them we get set up for an encounter with our wounded self or inner child.

According to abandonment expert, Susan Anderson the way we deal with our abandonment which may be largely unconscious is to act out in outer child behaviours.  In this state we are age regressed, emotionally hijacked, no longer in our adult mind at all.  We are just overcome powerfully by an intense experience of pain, rage, discomfort, disappointment, anger, anxiety, emptiness or dread.

Susan uses the acronym of S.W.I.R.L. for how the abandonment depression affects.  First we feel Shattered, blown into a million pieces, dissociated or numb, secondly we Withdrawour energy into ourselves like a wounded animal with a painful splinter lodged in its paw, thirdly we Internalise the pain in our body and suffer from depression, loss of energy, heartache and interned helplessness and anger, fourthly we encounter Rage at the abandonment or loss, we rail against the injustice, we may go on binges of eating, drinking or sexing, and through our rage we can touch base with old pain and grief which we can then feel once we begin to let go of the powerful hold that rage can have on us.

Finally once we have negotiated all of the four stages we have the chance Lifting  out of the abandonment experience but only if we can get help and development of working through the initial stages.  I would refer readers to Susan’s book The Journey from Abandonment to Healing for a more detailed exploration of the stages of S.W.I.R.L.

Suffice to say for the purposes of this blog I know I have negotiated all stages since my marriage ended 12 years ago and then worked out more with the second relationship gone wrong 5 years ago.  Lately I have experienced times of lifting out of the abandonment depression but I was retriggered into it most intensely last week by a friend letting me down and then my therapist having trouble containing me on Friday.  Luckily for me I have another therapist I could turn to today.  I was able to be put back in my adult mind and self by talking through everything with her today.  We worked on some strategies to use when I felt over come.  I then talked it over with my mother and sister and they offered me empathy, validation and support but not the connection back to my childhood, that is and has been my work.

This afternoon I feel in a stronger place.  I know tomorrow when I meet my therapist I will be able to express my pain and disappointment not from the regressed outer child but from my adult and inner child.  I will be able to apologise but I also think that for now I have met the end of the road with Katina for a little while.  Mercury goes retrograde soon and that is a time to put the stops on too much outer activity and time to reflect deeply on past issues.  I want to spend some quiet time with myself and my inner child over the net few weeks.

Today I also bought Louise Hays’ book The Power is Within You.  I want to use her advice to get in touch with my best self and begin to make real efforts to demonstrate and practice self love and unconditional acceptance towards myself.  I no longer want the rage or negativity to dominate my life and relationships. I know facing my deep rage and anger has been necessary, now I need to put things in place to set good boundaries for my outer child.  I am at a critical phase of my healing and Mercury’s meeting with Pluto has lanced a boil that was simmering away inside me and needed to be purged, a wound that needed to burst open so that toxins could come out and healing energy could enter.  I know this most absolutely as a strong conviction within my inner self which I am learning is the true source of all love.

I want to be force for the love and light of this inner self in the world from now on so the wound no longer dominates by keeping me in withdrawal as it has in the past.  I know the withdrawal was a necessary stage, but now I want to re-engage with life and relationships, from a far clearer place than I have previously been able to occupy.

 

This humanity that we are

Why is it so hard for us just to allow others and ourselves to be human? Why are we so goddam hard on ourselves and others? This isn’ t a cry for rampant selfishness and self destruction, but maybe self destruction would decrease if we could just love and accept ourselves a little more and see what part our very real human emotions play. And that includes most expecially dark ones.

I was having a text conversation with a friend in recovery last night, he is going through alot and back in a place of painful memories.  He chose this time to do a resentment list and the result was he felt like shit.  We had a chat about how AA doesn’t accept even justified anger, seeing it as a danger ground for more drinking.  I have a problem with this. There is a difference between venting and scatter gun dumping impacted historical anger on present situations and finding a way to express it clearly and cleanly in order to get the toxic pain of invalidation anger out of our guts where it may have been buried or dumped for years over old pains and injustices so long deflected or denied by others.

I’m feeling the heat even writing this.  Not getting our very real human needs for love empathy support care nurture and understanding hurts.  It bites large. And it causes real consequences for those who turn pain in then follow an addictive pathway.  To recover we have to face our hurts and other’s very real deficits and imperfections.  And we have to face our anger.  We cant just write it off as resentment but we do need to understand how we dealt with hurtful things.  And that journey takes place over s a thorny path scattered with broken shards that it may take years to sort through.

In the end continuing to turn our pain or anger in doesn’t work.  We need places to speak about it, air it, release it, hold it tenderly, and transform it.  Most especially we need to be believed supported and affirmed, not to nurture a heart of vengeance but rather to grow an enlarged heart in which pain digested, mulled over, becomes a rich compost to nurture seeds of authenticity and selfhood.

We need to allow ourselves very real human emotions, understand the part they play and find compassion and insight into how such feelings toxify when not allowed the air to btreathe. And we need not shame ourselves further by  denigrating ourselves any more in the way our abusers did, shifting the blame and shame back on us.

Knowing what hurt us, knowing what riled us will also give us insights into what we need and value, being able to let go in time of old pain will free us from having to go over and over old ground that led us to deeper wisdom about what it means to grow as a person.

In the narcissus myth, Echo was unable to advocate for herself; she was unable to express her feelings, and she died.  This is a vivid metaphor for the need to be in touch with our feelings, and the need to find ways to express them assertively and – we hope – be successful in getting our needs met.

Stephanie Donaldson Pressman

The Narcissistic Family