Sadly, we don’t always trust our emotions

Allow.jpg

In Western culture we have a history of treating emotions with suspicion and contempt, as somethign alien, other, separate from us.  From Plato onwards the ‘passions’ have be viewed as our ‘lower nature.’  Regarding the source of the passions, as Freud did, as an ‘it’ (id), ‘a primitive chaos, a cauldron of seething excitement’, makes it hard to develop a friendly relationship with emotions or accept them as part of ourselves.  This view of emotion as primitive and alien is a classic form of dualistic Western thinking.

As a result of regarding emotions as other, we feel the need to rid ourselves of these alien forces invading our system, either by acting them out or suppressing them.  Yet this fear of our emotions indicates how alienated we are from ourselves.  First we are alienated from our own energy, making it other and judging it negatively.  Then we start to imagine these emotions are demonic, that we have monsters in side us. The irony is that in judging and controlling our emotions, we become further overwhelmed by them, which leads to explosive eruptions that leave us all the more alienated from ourselves.  In treating emotions as other, we grant them dominion over us.  Suppressing emotions and acting them out are both alienated, afflicted strategies that prevent us from experiencing emotions as they are, face to face.

John Welwood : Toward a Psychology of Awakening

An alternative way of regarding our emotions is to understand them as part of us, an intrinsic part of our raw and vital aliveness, expressions of basic life energy moving through us.  The saddest part of suppressing our emotions is that we lose access to this liveliness and depression is often a result.  We become split and divided from our essential engine of soul/spirit in body that guides us and keeps us in touch with life through our emotions and our felt sense of being.

Gendlin addressed the concept of felt sense in his book Focusing.   A particular feeling such as sadness may actually have different layers of feeling associated with it and there are ways we can use to get in touch with the felt sense of a particular feeling in order to come in touch with the more essential part of our being and vital aliveness underlying certain emotions.

At first the felt sense that lies beneath an emotion may not be very clear to us, most especially if we are conditioned to run from or over express certain emotions in such a way, rather than be in touch with them, instead we then tend to become over powered.  This is because often an emotion is a more intense form of feeling.  For example sadness can build into grief, irritation may erupt into rage, a feeling of fear may turn into panic.  When feelings become intensified in such a way they do tend to  overtake us and we need a strong sense of attention to be able to contain and feel and hold the feeling and observe how it may build into something more intense and wisdom to see what lies under it and may be motivating us.

In his book Toward A Psychology of Awakening, therapist John Welwood describes such a situation as ’emotional entanglement.  He explains how a feeling of sadness can be amplified by the way in which we choose to respond to it.  Whether we resist or judge ourselves for it thinking or seeing it as a sign of something wrong, annoying or unwanted.  This can happen when a feeling threatens our self image and then we can start to tell ourselves stories about the feeling we are having most of which tend to magnify it or make it far harder to engage with in a productive way.

reacting against feelings – fearing fear, being outraged about anger, becoming depressed about sadness – is much worse than the primary feelings themselves, for it turns us against ourselves and causes us to go around in emotional circles.  As we spin around in the cycle of feelings – giving rise to highly charged thoughts, our perception becomes cloudy, and we often say or do things we later regret.

Cutting through this tendency to get lost in emotionally driven thoughts and stories requires a certain discipline, which psychotherapy and meditation provide in different ways.

Working in a therapeutic way with our psyche involves unpacking the deeper felt sense underlying emotions and stories we tell, it is a way of tapping more deeply into underlying meanings and responses beneath emotions.  In fact certain emotions may be pointing towards a need we must address.  For example sadness may be a reason to look at the ways in which we are missing happiness, joy and connection in our lives, or an indicator of loss we need to work through.   Anger may be a message that we need to express certain feelings and needs to someone who is hurting us or a sign we need to treat our frustration and discomfort gently by setting a boundary or sharing a truth.  Fear may be a sign that something isn’t safe for us or we may need to take care.

Without access to our feelings we either split them off and denigrate ourselves or let feelings build and build intensifying with the punishing stories we can tell.   If instead we can open our minds and hearts to our bodies and the feelings that may have valuable messages for us, if we can welcome them in and pay mindful attention we may learn a valuable lesson in self care and find a sense of calm, connection, contentment and rest that does not come if we are continually fearing them and pushing them away

The importance of empathy in healing past hurt and anger.

I love it when I get guidance to go somewhere, often to a bookshop or a library and the book I just need to read turns up for me.  It happened last week that I got that message on a brief window of time before my Thursday therapy appointment and came across Arthur C. Ciaramicoli’s book, The Stress Solution : Using Empathy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Develop Resilience.   Personally I have never been a huge fan of CBT as I believed it encouraged sufferers to over-ride injury or deep issues of hurt with mental directions to reframe thinking that may be justified and bypassed the deeper feeling work that needs to accompany true healing.  This book provides the missing link in helping to show how old hurt that cannot be felt, understood, empathised with, expressed and resolved then warps our ability to think, interpret and trust clearly exiling us to a wasteland of anger, resentment and depression as a result.

I posted a poem yesterday on the sorry that my own mother has never really been able to say to me.  I have shared that my mother showed empathy for her own mother’s situation to the point she could never ‘blame’ her for hitting my mother and driving her so hard as a child.  This failure on her part to say sorry and to act wounded and upset when I try to point old hurts out had been a sticking place for me in the past and I have needed outside validation of therapy to help me face and address the painful state my own unresolved hurt, sadness and pain has left me in for years.   But now that I am facing having to have my front tooth removed tomorrow my mother is in an acute state of distress.  She sees how I have suffered and all the onslaughts my body has been through as a result of my childhood and the trauma of those years of accident, illness and loss and she feels bad.  But is still not able to say sorry about her part in it, only that she is sorry I have suffered.

A comment from a reader today made me think about how important sorry and empathy really are to healing our hurt, anger and distress and its the exact point that Ciaramicoli makes in his book.  Anger which goes around and around affects our neurochemistry and then can lead to all sorts of body issues later in life, including heart attacks and strokes.  I also believe it can be behind the development of many auto immune diseases.

If we were hurt in childhood we need to understand the nature of those hurts and not carry the anger on where it can poison other later relationships with fear, insecurity and mistrust, but our hurt needs to be expressed with someone who can validate it for us.   I made this point in a blog last week.  I mentioned how trauma expert Peter Levine has showed that if, when faced with a traumatic situation we have one person who can calm us and show empathy we are less likely to develop long term Post Traumatic Stress.  Empathy is the key that can then help us to rewire the mental negative thought forms of mistrust that accompany a childhood of loss, trauma, pain, invalidation or hurt blocking us from love and empathy in the present and future.

I highly recommend the Ciaramacoli’s book and below is an extract from it that I found extremely helpful to my own emerging understanding.  I am sharing it in the hope it will help others too:

When hurts accumulate without a positive resolution, we often lose ourselves in self absorption and resentment.  This kind of preoccupation is a tremendous drain on mental energy, leaving us with little capacity for interest in others.  Anger can turn to tolerance, however, when our perceptions change from fear to truth.   When we stop seeing others through the hurts of the past, when generalisations cease and we begin to perceive more objectively, we become more hopeful and optimistic.  We feel closer to people in our lives as we recover trust.   Trust is often correlated with happiness in communities or individuals.  When we trust others, we feel safe and calm.  We can then perceive more accurately and thoughtfully.  What we feel inside determines what we feel outside.

Once a person….harbours unresolved hurts, her anger and sense of helplessness can dramatically change the way (they) think and behave…. even a trauma survivor can return to a state of calm through meaningful contact with an empathic, understanding individual.  Such relationships make us more reflective and enable us to embark on a journey to learn what has troubled us, how to resolve our hurts, and how to move on.

Sadness is often seen as synonymous with depression.  Depression is often, in fact, an attempt to avoid the sadness.  Sadness is the body’s cue to stop, think, and work through what is troubling us.  People who don’t head this cue avoid examining their troubles, and the stress caused by avoidance becomes a way of life.  In essence, depression is often an avoidance of using the information sadness can provide.

We cannot resolve our thoughts alone.  Without input from others, we repeat our thought patterns over and over again and remain stuck in the mire of our own negativity.  This is a formula for continual stress.  By releasing ourselves from the mistaken beliefs that support our uneasiness with people, however, we reawaken our basic goodness and allow love and compassion to break through.  Our empathic breakthrough then removes the obstacles to seeing our world and ourselves clearly.  If (we) allow (ourselves) to be open and vulnerable, to share (our) hurts with others and accept empathic feedback – a courageous step for sure – (we) might ….(be) able to recover the spirit for living (we) once possessed…..holding onto anger and resentment ties us to the past and the story we created when emotionally distraught.

I would like to say here though, something he does not address and that is, it is no point sharing our feelings or vulnerability with those who will not validate them.  It is essential to this process that we choose someone who can validate that our pain and hurt at the time was real.   If we don’t get help to see how we were affected in a negative way we cannot fully address the sense of injury that occurred when we had to face such difficult and ultimately alienating experiences of abandonment or trauma alone, feeling our hurt, grieving for it and then allowing the outflow of that feeling to be shed and released is so important and we need validation and lots of loving affirmative support with this.

And then there comes a point where we have to make the conscious choice to open our heart and let the pain out, rather than close it tight shut again, locking it all back inside, running the endless negative, repeat, feedback button over and over and over again, which only ends up hurting us.   If we suffered abuse in the past we can let our anger be an informative guide of what may not be safe for us, ie, person’s lacking in empathy who lack the capacity through emotional insight to help us release and validate our pain.  For it is these people who trigger our stress response.  Recognising this requires we show empathy for ourselves and our healthy emotional boundaries and honour them.

Staying with myself : feeling my pain

BBB

I did not realise I was so sad and in emotional pain this morning.  Instead for two hours I was tussling with my body.  I got to bed far after the usual time and my eating schedule was thrown out by going to friends for dinner and eating too much too late for my body to fully digest it but really it was only when I broke down in tears this morning that i realised that what has happened was that old pain of my past was retriggered of those painful black years that were filled with so much emptiness and sadness, wandering and trauma that I did not know or could not fully feel at the time.  Last night the evening got later and later and the conversation going on about politics wasn’t really that interesting but moreso I think what I really struggled with was what came up was about all that had gone on for me before those friends got to know me overseas in the 1980s.  Once they found out last night all I had been through in the four years previous they understood why my behaviour was the way it was.

When I finally got home at quarter to midnight I just sat and cuddled Jasper and cried.  Then I had a very disrupted sleep while so much arose in my mind and the darkness fell around me in slumber after I got into my cosy warm bed.  What occurred to me is that in these past years I have been trying hard to process and digest a past full of trauma that often sticks in my gut or my throat.  There were no tears last night as my friends still drink a fair bit and there were questions being fired at me such as “what do you do with yourself all day” and when I told them “and is that working for you?”  Its a fair enough question but what can I say I am where I am at and sometimes I wish it was different and my life had been different but I cannot ever have that and so now I must sit with the reality and the pain of what young me went through over those very dark dark years.

The gift today in just being able to be with myself and allow the tears was that there was no punishing inner voice telling me I should be feeling differently.  Instead I felt that wises inner loving mother comforting me and telling me I needed to stay with it, allow the grief and let it move through me.  The inner voice told me how much I suffered and how lonely my childhood was as when I told my friends last night that each day after school I came home to an empty house they could not believe it.  One friend told me how her mother made her snacks and always asked about her day and encouraged her to do her homework, the other had four siblings and wished she could have more space!  It felt so sad to know how I didn’t have that and it did have a profound affect.  I think sometimes my attacks at that time of day are about body memory of being so alone in childhood and as a teenager and then the bike accident happened at that time of day when I took myself so far way overseas repeating the old pattern.

I have known profound loneliness.  There are times when my inner loneliness has been so painful I have contemplated taking my life.  These are the facts of my life.  I cannot pretty them up or deny them, I cannot put a ‘positive’ slant on them, they were part of my painful reality.  And I repeated that lonely pattern as it was all I really knew and I formed complex defences to tell me I needed to stay alone so as never to be hurt or misunderstood again.

At least last night I could speak about the reality.   At least last night I could be heard.  It was hard to be asked what I did all day as I felt in a way I may have been being judged.  But maybe I wasn’t, who knows.  And at times its better to be alone and feel free to feel your real feelings than have to be with those who wouldn’t let you be yourself.

The greater realisation for me today is that all of this suffering and aloneness somehow got buried in me at a bodily level.  At times my body pain is about my body and soul and inner child saying to me she needs not to be left as alone as she was in the past.  I no longer need to stay alone, but I can also accept and nurture my solitude when it is necessary,  And I am realising too that as a highly sensitive person alone time feeds my soul. loving boundaries and self care support me and go alone with the recognition towards my self and consciousness of the true nature of my deeper self as well as wounds of the past that I have carried which have scarred me into the present.  But that I also need connection with loving others at times, never to fill the hole within that must be met with my own loving presence as well as my spiritual connection, but as a way of remembering that as a humans being I do need connection for loving connection with others from a real place of truth is what most binds souls of humans and makes moments precious.

My past is my past.  It cannot be changed.  It will always be with me.  I am still exploring its affect and that is a lot of work.  I may move on from the past one day to a new life and new expression, I just don’t know, but before I can what has been needs to be fully honoured and recognised, the losses have to be grieved. And this is an act of self love, allowing myself to be with it is showing the love for the deeper part of me that was so often shamed and dismissed, first by others but later and more sadly and destructively by my self.  For I am now seeing more and more true healing and self acceptance must most surely come from within.

Tough day : trudge on

I had one of those days today.  You know the ones where metaphorically your soul feels like it is wearing cement boots and you are being forced to walk through quicksand or heavy mud?

It came after another session in therapy where I travelled down so deep into dark times of my past and then told my therapist I was a coward for not being able to make an independent life in England, despite the fact I suffered a major head injury and had other forces conspiring against me.  Her response opened up the floodgates as I saw HOW HARD I can be on myself for my past failures.   She was just so compassionate and caring with me it really brought me undone.

Then we had a grey, cold day.   I had a commitment to get my car out to get a quote for repair of damage sustained a few weekends ago when I over ran my boundaries, it was perhaps another reminder of how I get over extended then I looked around home and felt even more overextended and completely exhausted.   I lay at one point on the floor in the bedroom wrapped up in my doona watching the few remaining leaves that have not let go of the tree flutter in the breeze and wondered why some leaves let go easily and other don’t.  Lots more was going on in my head and I was in a deep place of sadness. I felt as though with my strong Neptune I can no longer fight against the fate of being a caring person who loved her family so much she had to stay close but often felt like she fell out of their minds.  I felt the love beating in my chest that will always be there, maybe I never got back as much as I gave.   Maybe I will live with regrets for the rest of my life.  Maybe some days will be hard always.   I really prayed today to be able to meet everything with acceptance and love.  I am tired of fighting.

I then thought of how our ancestral name was actually Trudgeon.  When you break that down it reads trudge on, the metaphor and association to feeling like I was wading in a cesspit with concrete boots was not lost on me and in some way I saw the humour as well as the deep tragedy in it.  Later my Mum called and sounded so tired and her voice was breaking.  I haven’t had the energy or time to take her over the chicken soup I made on Sunday and promised her.  I have had to take care of me.  I cried after I got off the phone and then felt my energy return.

Yesterday I was sharing with Katina how my dog Jasper often sits silently by my right hand side with his back to me.  It is as though he is my protector and he is simultaneously reading my energy and standing on guard.  I was sharing how that kind of loyalty moves me to tears some times and I said to Katina how I saw that is the way I have often been with my Mum and my family.  It was hard to let go when I knew they were in pain but maybe they never even expected it of me.  It was me who chose that option.

Outside of what I was feeling today I know there is another part of me.  It is not always accessible to me.  The light, playful, happy, dancing, gregarious side can go to ground on the tough days as I feel myself trudging through life.   The only thing that sustains me is the realisation these heavy feelings have come and gone before.  I don’t live in them as much these days and the slow approach of the shortest day and winter is probably playing a role in the way I am feeling.   I wrote a post on loving my body earlier.  I will probably post it after this one.  I was searching for an appropriate image for it but by then it was nearly 11 am and I hadn’t had breakfast which was kinda strange seeing the post was about caring for my body and being connected to my body.  However blogging connects me too.  I provides my feelings and mood with an outlet which means not everything stays locked up inside.  On the tough days I give myself a hard time for feeling paralysed and forget I am still a work in progress and that I must keep remembering to honour progress rather than perfection or other self punishing ideals that don’t speak to the full truth of what my heart contains and has gone through over years both in and before recovery.

Dark Night : reflections on a dream, a fated meeting, and the leaving that sent me home

Well.png

Dark night you came down on my soul.  I was taken to a place beyond words, a living experience of experiences past all jumbled up into an inner soup of mixed up hurting and longing, no longer knowing where to turn but within, only feeling deep pain and at times not even that : just a bloody field of wreckage in which dead carcasses of cows littering ancestral fields haunted the landscape of my soul.

When I reflect on that, which was a pure dream image summoned from my inner depths at the time just days before we both embarked for the land of our ancestors and as I look back now on the experiences we had there with your own family pain I see a deep message from the collective unconscious.  Cow = Taurus = Self worth, inner feminine, mother and feeling values, nature and contentment all shattered on a collective battle field of suffering our ancestors grew out of.

I think of your father suffering through a life in which he could not live his true dream living with a woman who seemed so bitter and angry until the cancer laid claim to his insides.  Exactly what miracle of destiny was it that led me on a cold winter night on the way home with an inner message to go back to a certain hotel?  It was there that I met you and not many hours later after that first meeting we would discover that we both lost our fathers to cancer within a year.   You were one year younger and your partner abandoned you then also and you too went travelling, feeling so bereft and alone.  We were both only 23 and that was 8 years before our meeting.  My heart aches.  We were only meant to travel so far down the road, together.  I am sorry. It wasn’t our fault!

Slaughtered cows lying on ancestral field, bleeding spent life blood, love and self value onto green fields, a metaphor for so many things : for how it felt for you to be dragged back to the place where you struggled to birth your own sense of power and potency out of the wreckage of a wounded father and mother, a country trying to tell you that as a humble gardener you were not worth much.  And it occurs to me too in the editing that your father’s brother was the golden child, your Dad only got the scraps.

Here in Australia you were valued, but something inside the partner you chose was pulling you back to face something deeply unresolved.   There in England my grief broke open after 7 years of sobriety.  Your family didn’t like it, you wanted back ‘the happy girl you married’ but I had such a long journey to take back to her.   In the end we were torn apart.  Dark night, how you descended with his leaving, deep soul ache of remembering how many leavings and deaths there were in relationship with men for me but the first leaving was my sister who carried so much of the light in our dark, duty bound family where so little joy could live.

I remember today the blue tin box you gave me at the airport as you bid me goodbye, with enough money for a horse ride on the beach I never took.   I know you loved me so much you had to let me go, how our souls were aching.  I am so sorry, but it had to be, it really did and I miss you but we were a dream and I had to find my deeper reality that led over  a long road littered with boulders and stones shown in another dream just days before you told me you were leaving and no longer loved this sad me.

The ways of the soul are so mysterious, fate plays out and you don’t know where it is taking you.  You make your choices without all the information and the cards fall where they will.  You play your hand as best you can and sometimes you have to give up the game, throwing in your hand and turning up your palms to heaven waiting for something new to birth deep within what feels like a deeply barren place.

When all seems most lost then perhaps you stand with one foot poised on the edge of a most massive discovery. Its truth may be hard to swallow but nevertheless you drink it down over years, it scalds your insides.  But one day it has passed through, your scarred insides have healed and a bright day dawns on which your remember it all with awe in a state of surrender seeing so much more clearly how and why it all turned out as it did, knowing there was such innocent young hope of love beating in both hearts then, but knowing also how much a true deep love really costs and how much that price can only be paid by a consciousness that has been strong and patient enough to endure the fire and weather the storm to birth realisations that could have never come without the necessary losses and the necessary suffering that the reaching for love and understanding of love’s tangled ways birth over years of long journeying and heartbreak/soul ache.

Bright day, you stream your love though my window filtered through golden rose leaves of pom pom tree reminding me of how gorgeous nature is, how my love of it was what drew me to you and to England in the first place.  Wrapped in a cosy blanket I shed such deep tears for all that was lost while a wiser part of me sees through all the illusion involved in the feeling that something true was really lost.  For what is most true can never be lost.  And it is often in the depths of our very real suffering that real truth and wisdom is born.  Our individuated self is created through forming a body of substance which over years has the capacity to bear with, contain and bear witness to painful truths that reveal at depth a far more profound reality than innocent young souls could ever know.

And love goes on, is what in the end has the capacity to endure and to say an unconditional “yes” to it all, to this at times mixed up complicated experience that is life.  And it occurs to me that love is the witness, it is the writer, it is the one who has the capacity to observe it from a distance bearing witness to what the soul and consciousness shapes out of life giving it form, shaping it into a vessel of expression.

 

Tears : the soul’s rain shower

imagesrpzftzne

Falling like gentle rain

Your tears will soften you

They will moisten your soul and your heart

So that it never becomes a fortress

Or a wall of barbed wire

To permanently keep others out

At times you may fear

That letting the hurt in will kill you

It will not

Not if you surrender

While holding on to your own sense

Of deep self love

And self value

For only from this position

Can you honour soul

Only from this place

Can you allow love

And it is soul and love that allows the tears

It is soul and love that also

Forms the container

In which they are held

So that their healing elixir

Can work its magic on your heart

And soften you to truths

You mind will only comprehend

After the soul’s rain shower

Has passed

The hardest time of day

I am becoming more aware lately of how this time of day, 5pm to 7pm is often the hardest time of day for me.  I was born at 7:10 pm and I am not entirely sure how that is related only to say I can get a tightness in my chest and start to feel deep, deep loneliness and sadness at this time of day.  Leading up to this over the past four or so months I became aware that at this time of day I tend to stuff my face with some kind of snack.  Lately I have been trying to make it a healthy snack but eating in a compulsive way, even if what you are eating is good for you is not the best idea.  Today after a tough day where I finally got out to the park around 3 pm and didn’t eat much more than an apple to clear my system out I went to the fruit and veg markets.  I needed some Brazil Nuts and I slowly and very mindfully at 3 of them remembering to breathe.  I then got home and swept up some of the autumn leaves but a lot was going on inwardly within, memories of how the trees shed in this way in the days leading up to my sister’s funeral in 2014.  Deeper memories are there of how my life also began to fall apart in 1990 towards the tail end of my days of active addiction when I woke with stomach pains in the middle of the night and being unable to rouse my them partner drove myself to emergency,  I had an ectopic pregnancy which had to be aborted and the trauma tore my relationship apart.  Within a few weeks I was out of the group house I shared and back with my godparents and then later in a new unit and my relationship briefly resumed only to hit the wall and then I gave up my job and the darkest years of my addiction followed.

I am very aware that I am not there now.  But I will always have a life that has been marked by trauma.  I had at that time already been through three terminations of pregnancy.  In the early years of recovery and sobriety when I undertook my first therapy I wrote a letter to each child that never got to live and named them.  I asked their forgiveness for not being able to bring them into the world and explained why.  I grieved them over years and have acceptance now over my choices. But as autumn draws in darker memories are near and this afternoon I am making the conscious choice to keep my ‘eating’ to a minimum and wait for an early dinner.  I am also choosing to blog about it more for myself, for I am sure it will be boring to some readers or they may even judge, nevertheless I make the intention in this blog to be as honest as I really can about what I am going through.

I am in the cosy living room now.  Jasper has just had a bone and its time to get us both dinner.  I haven’t had a panic attack yet and I usually get them religiously between 5 and 7.  Today I also chose to politely end the conversation with my Mum when she told me I was being ‘ridiculous’ for being traumatised by the events of the past my brother brought up yesterday, she also would not give me further information about something that would have helped me put more pieces in place and I am learning that everyone in the family has their own take on things and Mum is invested in not really owning up to all of her shortcomings.  That is her business, not mine.  I just need to detach otherwise it really hurts too much.

I have written a fair few posts today.  I have needed to.  Mars planet of action moved into Gemini planet of siblings and communication a day or so ago.  Its hitting my Chiron and it explains how what my brother bought up yesterday triggered essential placements of Mars planets in my Mum and sister and dead father’s charts.  I don’t know how astrology works only that when something get triggers I see it in the charts and Mars being in Gemini would suggest its good to communicate about it and get it out in the open which is not something my Mum or sister really want to do.  That much I realised last night when I got no support from my sister to understand things and anyway I was defending Mum at the time which was not right.

I have to keep reminding myself it is okay to reach for understanding of my family, the past and family dynamics.  I was very young when so much went down and had not a lot of way to make sense of it.  I can shame and judge myself for my struggle to make sense and there are some things I will never know.  But in expressing I get to contain my feelings to a degree and make sense of them, which helps me be not as unconsciously overwhelmed as I can be at times. I feel less sad now simply for writing this post at this time of day.  If I can bring my patterns to better consciousness and not over eat at this time my panic attacks may just stop, so this process is, in the end, essentially for me.

Our soul in our body never forgets

Eyes.png

Our soul lives in our body and our soul never forgets the deepest things.  Our mind might fool us into thinking we ‘know’ what is going on, but the story of the soul within the body is far deeper and it won’t be fooled or allow us to forget the truth entirely.

I am conscious today of pain around my heart.  Yesterday was an acute day of body symptoms coming up to the anniversary of my sister’s death.  I lost my godmother last week too and by some strange case of soul synchronicity she will be cremated tomorrow a day after my sister’s anniversary.  I was so conscious of this when I spoke to my Mum this morning.  She had a lot of body pain herself and I know the entire trajectory of my Mums’ trauma history interconnected as it is with her three daughter’s trauma history and of the complex tendrils of interlaced connection to her first ever daughter and  best friend who was the longed for sibling my mother never had in real life.  And interconnected to this is my own pain over the loss of a sister who was more like mother to me and the huge hole I feel around struggling in my own life to make heart to heart connections of trust with other women. I came away from the conversation with my heart feeling like it would burn my chest to ashes and I am never entirely sure after these connections how much of the pain is mine and how much my own soul is reading my mothers’ soul energetically.   Then there are the voices in my head in which I struggle to think of things I could ‘do’ to make it better but that can be problematic for her pain is her pain, my pain is my pain.  As adults we each have to carry our own.

I came down with a severe cold which I picked up from my Mum, yesterday and I have felt my immune system struggling to throw it off.   I remember that shortly after my sister’s death in 2014 I came down with a bad flu and had a deep rasping cough that settled on my chest.  I am sure it was all related to loss and grief and its now being triggered again, my soul in my body is aware of these anniversary imprints as I sweep up the fallen autumn leaves that are associated with my sister’s death and funeral three years ago. Imprints of other traumas are associated too, the two babies I gave up, one the result of an ectopic pregnancy in 1990.

Admist all of this I am struggling with how to connect with my Mum at this time. Do I mark both events by offering to take my Mum to the crematorium garden where my sister’s ashes are interned tomorrow, to mark in some way the anniversary and give my Mum a place to share some tears?  Otherwise I am aware of only a huge gaping hole or empty space between all of us that is most intuited by the soul, especially for me and of my own grief which comes in like a wave at the moment but doesn’t really have any place of containment or witness apart from in therapy?

Alternatively do I just sit silently in mindfulness and take care of my own life, knowing that at a deep interconnected level this is enough.  And is the way that brings soothing and peace?  I don’t have any answers at the moment.  I just need to keep listening to my heart and choosing nourishment.

Its a tender hearted situaion and I am never quite sure what to ‘do’.  A little while ago I posted a post on just ‘being’ in response to reading how much others struggle with punishing voices and judgementsin their own heads which I was reading earlier.  But I am also aware that a deeply spiritual embodied life, calls for action too.  Action that will move with spirit and in deep alignment with it in order to express care, commitment and love in the world.

These are the values my own pain has shown me are most valuable to live for and to express.  Hurt and anguish and pain and loss and illness and grief and shame and soul pain are all best met with love and it seems at times this is the thing we most struggle to express and ground ourselves in.  And love comes from a beating heart that pumps its life and love blood through our body which is nothing less than soul in substance to other hearts and souls with whom our earthly journey here has chosen to connect us.

Reading a book on panic attacks this morning I learned how much avoidance becomes part of anxiety.  The thing that hurt us makes us contract or pull back and we get trapped in that state of inward pulled contraction as a fear and control response to things that hurt.  But to live in a state of contraction is not the natural way and ends up limiting life our heart and our soul.

In the law of expression expansion should follow contraction.  If you tense your muscles they will relax because you are working them.  We were born to open our hearts if we really want to live, breathe, experience and over come.  Not that we really overcome entirely but we do have a certain choice as to whether we make the effort to open and expand, to listen to the heart and move with its connection trajectory, or contract and make the body carry the burden of what it had to close off to knowing, accepting and expressing because of fear.  Then it seems to me our soul suffers in some way and our body carries the burden as trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk has pointed out.

Today I am striving for a balance between doing and being.  I am aware that although there are some pains I can never heal there are things I can do to give the pain a place to speaks its voice and be responded to in love without blocking off from, but opening to being and feeling.  If I listen to my body I can hear the signals my soul may be sending out and respond from a place of openness and love.   I can also accept that in this present moment I can choose to be in a place and attitude of peace.   A place where I just allow myself some rest from all the thinking that can rob me of connecting more deeply in the present moment.  This is what my soul craves most of all.  A place of deep connection and rest far away from all the separation and conflict my mind can so often create.

 

A gaping hole : reflections on loss

Forget

I just saw a friend whose mother died just over a month ago and we were speaking about the empty space that is left that was filled by the loved one’s earthly presence.  I was sharing how after my sister died I read the biography of Anita Moorjhani who died and then came back to life after suffering terminal lymphoma, on the other side she met only a vast expanse of love, she saw more deeply into nature of her enormous struggle to be herself outside of her conditioning and her biography of the experience is called Dying to be Me.   What I shared with my friend was that on the other side she felt herself to be connected to her father who had died many years before and realised the truth that the soul goes on, to a new phase of existence, that all the love we feel never dies and that really our soul is part of everything in death.

There is no way this kind of knowledge can totally fill the empty space once filled by a loved one’s presence though, nor erase all the memories of earthly connection and experience perhaps etched with tragedy, great joy, happiness, devastating separations or heart filling connection.  After a loved one’s death we find ourselves alone and it is for ourselves that we grieve on some level, for the person we miss, for the connection we shared or never got to share.  But perhaps the insight that some essence of our lost loved one goes on is a comfort while we grieve and come to terms with our loss.

It is the anniversary of my oldest sister’s death tomorrow and I found myself crying as I went back to the car, I drove home along the tree lined street now bursting with autumn colour that my nana used to live in and remembered how little I was really connected to my grandmother.  At home alone after school I could have easily gone up to spend time with her in her little flat at the back of our house where she lived out the last 10 or so years of her life, but I didn’t and the reason must have been that I didn’t know how to connect with her.  I was reminded that that one person in my family I really could connect to apart from my Mum is now gone.

This morning I was in a very dark space.  Mum called me to let me know that she and a family friend are going to the real estate agents to see about letting out the town house we went to buy at auction just over a month ago.  I  couldn’t really speak much, I was in a deep place of exhaustion with everything.   The house smells of varnish as I have had the back deck finally treated after 5 years of neglect.  One by one I have fronted up to the repair tasks this place demands of me but at times I feel so alone and empty and on some level I am grieving the loss of an opportunity to move into something new even though the place wasn’t ideal for me.

The difference these days is that I don’t let this emptiness paralyse me like it has before.  This morning I just sat quietly with my inner self and felt into my heart to listen to the part of me that is so tired.  I then got out for a walk with Jasper  We explored a new part of the local neighbourhood where I sometimes go to get my morning coffee and came upon a play ground with swings, close to a preschool.   It felt comforting to me to swing in the air and feel the autumn sunshine on my skin and some of the deep heaviness and exhaustion lift for a while.  And I am aware now, as I was earlier when I connected with my heart that even though I would like to say I have put my sister’s death behind me, I haven’t fully, I am still grieving and that is perfectly natural.  I have definitely accepted it in a way I could not really accept my father’s death for years.  I need to keep my own hearts’ door open to the grief that at times and on its own schedule needs to flow into cleanse my mind of illusions and prohibitions others have placed in it.

My sister’s life was full of tragedy but she made the very best of it.  She never really got over losing her boys and her marriage on the back of her cerebral bleed and psychosis but she always had a smile when she broke through from the deep dark depths of despair that often lay claim to soul.

Grief 2

And as I drove along that tree lined street a little while ago I had the thought that many of us are possessed by ghosts or phantoms, there are the longings, the very real longings for attention and connection that never got met in our lives, there are the ghosts and empty holes of wounds left by deaths, endings, leavings or vacancies we had no control over.  The best we can do is admit these facts to ourselves and try our very best to embrace them, rather than try to erase the very deep reality that tries to make itself known to our soul. We move on the best way we know how.   As I said to my friend before, there is no resolution or closure for some losses or difficult experiences.   We carry the wound, or the emptiness or the gaping hole for life, and look for ways to fill it the very best we can with presence and love.

In the silence that is left after those last words are written I hear my sister’s voice.  I feel the comfort she wants me to find, I feel the love that was always there and will never be ended by any separation or death.  I know my life will go I.  I wont always feel the heaviness I have felt today.  There are places and spaces of reprieve outside the loss that can bring happiness.  Loss is not all there is, it is just one big part of my life story.

 

Love makes you ache at times

I am feeling for my nephew and his partner and family at the moment.  The place they are living has been becoming a harder and harder situation for them over the past year or so.  The gallery my nephew put so much love into had to be closed due to the owners selling to those who put the rent up far too much for it to be sustainable any more and then last week they were told their rental property is being sold as well.  After a lot of thinking it through (and I should image agony and heartache as well), they have decided to pack up and move a long way south to Tasmania.

In one way it may be a good move for them, to be able to live more sustainably in a cooler climate with perhaps more artistic possibilities, never the less last night I woke up feeling very distressed for them.  They will be moving away from his two brothers and their children won’t see their cousins all the time, Tasmania is a long way away.   I felt so sad for them last night and it’s probably a case of projection on my part of my old pain around moves.   But it’s also a concern around old ancestral pattern repeating, having to move due to financial constrictions rather than purely to heart felt considerations and making another separation all around the anniversary of my sister (and my nephew’s mother’s) death.

And it calls to mind the painful migration that occurred for my nephew after his mother’s aneurysm in the 1980s when he was about the same age as his young son.  Knowing all of this history makes my heart ache for them but at the same time I have to put some of the emotional considerations aside (or do I?) to recognise that much of life and growth and forward movement does involve at times painful separations.  Birth or change is painful and involves death of certain things too.   I still feel for my nephew.

I’ve noticed that night mind for me can be full of these kinds of agonies and connections.  And then this morning I awoke feeling very sad because of all the separations and knowing how my sister’s death anniversary brings up essential themes of this kind of movement and disconnection.  Its a strong reminder of my painful family history where a lot of connections suffered.  At the same time I see the ancestral history playing out with it themes all of which are somehow so much bigger than one finite human consciousness.

There is a theme here for me of noticing the sadness and realising how ‘big’ life and certain issues are.  A knowing of this has almost paralysed me at times that its been hard to make any move forward and I am called to remember while writing this how on Friday I had a big ah ha moment of realisation when I saw how much I associated forward movement with death or danger or accident.  Its a deep imprint and one I need to be mindful of as the unconscious is very powerful whether we choose to realise it or not. It cannot just be glossed over.

Last night I was thinking of all the things I could do to try and help my nephew so he did not have to go through this kind of separation again.  Maybe they could move into my house as a family and I could go and rent something else and then we could all live in my home town as a happy family, but I know this dream is probably an illusion or deeply impractical and I am reminded of the Al Anon three Cs :  I didn’t cause what is happening for them, I can’t control it and I cannot cure it either.  Those kinds of ideas are I guess all a part of my co-dependent feelings at times (all around what may be a good move for them in the end) but reading this back I know they come out of my own deep wish and longing for closer physical and emotional connections which has been so thwarted at times and caused me a lot of grief.

The deep love I have for my nephew is real.  I feel sad that I haven’t felt up to visiting him prior to this but I have been putting the focus on my own life and staying in my centre while I choose to do the inner work of understanding the part of my painful unconscious history.  But I also realise that that there is a degree of fear of being close and then threatened with the sadness of loss when I have to go away again.  Maybe I have been protecting my heart from all the love inside that can get so big at times and feels so overpowering to me.   I recognise that this is deeply true for my life and it is something I want to change a bit.  I now feel there is perhaps a way to be close while not losing myself and being totally overwhelmed by my feelings.  In the end I live inside my own skin and that is the only thing that I have some control over at all in this life, dealing with all the things in life that affect us is big work, especially if we have known pain in the past.  It helps me to sit down and write about the feelings and all the thoughts my mind goes through so that I can achieve clarity.  I see more of myself and have to act fewer things out.

In the end for me I guess its about containment, knowing that however painful or sad I do have the ability to deal with my feelings, knowing that its okay to love and hope and long even if at time that longing isn’t returned or always easy.  Knowing that I have the capacity to survive and reach out for connection, well that’s a big step for me. And each day is full of little deaths, changes and endings but new beginnings too.   For my nephew I pray this move doesn’t bring isolation for him and his family, I pray it is the start of a new beginning and hope that I can make some trips to visit in years to come when I feel even stronger within myself and capable of being together with him and his family.