Facing reality : some reflections on the body, being, recovery and the sad cost of dissociation.

I am on my own but I am not alone – today’s realisation.  I see the past I came out of.  I see the young me that struggled.  I see the familial patterns that repeated.  I see how hard it would have been for me to break out of this conditioning before pain could have revealed what it was.  And then I see how for so very long the truth seemed far too bitter a pill to swallow.

As I write this I am reminded of the necessity of acceptance and how acceptance means I face reality instead of arguing with it.  While I am arguing with reality I am in an adversarial relationship with it and the truth is that reality has some deeply dysfunctional and painful elements which  cause hurt and pain and so this is life, sadly but truly at times.  The best I can often do is to meet it mindfully and with compassion and help the pain show me what it is I need to reach for to soothe it.  My difficulty with the past I didn’t want shows me longing to reach for more and yet not really knowing how to go abou that….how can I find the way to it?

And could the meaning and purpose of my life be purely about expressing my own pain and truth in some way to help others, just as when others expressing theirs helps me too?   Is there not some great comfort in that?   For the truth is that openness to reality can heal and I can find ways to love myself and others through it without allowing it to embitter me and block me off fully from trust, hope, truth and love.

I am seeing lately how the bitter pain of the past kept me locked off from new possibilities of love in the present moment and yet I still had to navigate that past and pain until I reached bedrock.  Mine has been an inner healing path that led to addiction and then emotional recovery.  As I do more and more work to overcome the power of an intensely powerful inner critic I am beginning to see that in many ways I have not done anything wrong as my path has been my path and it has been a path of breakdown and breakthrough.

When I put down alcohol in 1993 I did not know that I was a stranger to myself in so many ways.  I had years of unintegrated trauma behind me and for a time I had found love and stability with my husband but so much of myself was, as yet not known so I am not sure how much of a true self I had to give him at that time.   Together we made the cosiest life possible and then we tore it up on a dream and tried to build a new life overseas but the trauma power energy of my family drew me back.

In many ways I was possibly born different to many members of my family.  For one thing I was a lot younger and of a different generation.  Those of us born in the 60s saw a lot of revolution in music, in life and in relationships.  Old patterns were breaking down and we were part of that breaking open and breaking apart.  Is it any wonder so many of us went through our own breakdowns which to my mind now appear more as break throughs and waking ups with all the pain and confusion such a process entails?

Are we not still in the process of building new lives which are based on stronger more soul and heart centred values than those dictated by a social collective mindset that was so much stronger on ‘doing the right thing’ and had fostered in us such a profound split between heart and head?

So many of us have suffered in a body that we often betray and run roughshod over.  I do believe as a result of my own understanding that in culture presently we are often self rejecting of our physical and emotional selves to extreme degrees.  We were so often taught such self rejection.  In my own family we never learned to take care of our bodies or of our souls in bodies.  The deeper message of my own religious schooling was that in some way the body was flawed, mistrustful, disgusting and evil.  What terrible things to have a child believe, the realisation makes me cry.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading an intensely moving autobiography Love Warrior based on one woman’s struggle with her addiction and the breakdown in her primary relationships. What she finds midway through the journey is how divorced from her own body and being her own conditioning has made her.  And what conditioning forced into her shadow brought her into a relationship with a husband who sought a connection to the primal body and rejected soul shadow energy through internet porn.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that due to her own distance or disconnection from her body, soul, being and heart she has attracted a partner with similar issues only expressed in different ways.  Together they go on a healing journey to find what is really leading to their powerful disconnect.  In one very moving section she realises the truth is that so long ago she learned to fear and disconnect from her body and being, to seek distance and to dissociate.  I am sure so many of us will relate to this.

In trauma the body becomes a fearful and very unsafe place.  We experience emotions through a body so when we start to numb the body we also numb emotions.  If we fear the arising of primal feeling from within, our habitual defence is to reach for something to stop our feeling.  If the feelings long ago were what we learned to mistrust or if we suffered in young bodies at the hands of those dissociated from their own, our own split, dissociation and fear only deepens.

And yet part of us longs to feel, we were born to feel and we do not fully truly live until we come fully awake and alive to what has been rejected, dissociated from, feared or neglected in our body.  Our body/soul longs for our absent self, to  find the way back to what was lost when we started to dissociate but what is longed for is also feared, as imperfection and shame researcher, Brene Brown has pointed out in many of her talks and much of her writing.

Could it be that on some level some of us actually fear the feeling of being alive as such feelings open up our most tender vulnerability and associated fears of death or losing control?   Can we be strong enough to face this fear in head on instead of projecting our deeply unconscious intrepidation on others in fear, criticism, attack or blame?  These are just a few of the realisations I am having at the moment.  I found myself shedding tears so often towards the end of the book Love Warrior especially in the paragraphs where she spoke of reminding her young dauther how to be truly beautiful is to be full of the beauty and joy that comes when we learn to fill up on the beauty in life and nature.  We come alive most fully when we connect to life and each other nakedly, vulnerably and at our most honest, stripped back with open hearts to a body and soul that is finally able to feel its need for life, rawness, richness and love.

Push, push, push

Masterchef Australia is currently on tele here in Oz and the refrain push, push, push is heard nearly every night but its a reminder to me that sometimes I just need to rest, rest, rest because I can push and push and push to have to get things done and sometimes its coming out of anxiety or critical energy.

Earlier I wrote a post that touched on positive self will, I guess this is action which is line with Self that tries work in a balanced way to both project us into the world, but at the same time tell us when to rest, go easy, or take it slow. In childhood I never got to experience relaxed happy times with my parents.  It was a very duty bound home full of responsibilities and in some ways this can be good but not when it interferes with my ability to relax, let go and have some fun!

After getting into a rage last week about being stuffed around by the dentist and that arking up all my head trauma, I then got reminded of how it felt to be around family energy.  Just this morning my brother called from America.  He is go, go in the garden nearly put his back out by digging in the front yard.  “Just be sure to take care of yourself”, I said.  Then when I had to share about my dental trauma there was absolutely zilch emotional reaction or connection just a dull heavy emptiness and as so often happens after I got of the phone to him I found myself in tears.  My family are JUST SO SHUT DOWN.

Later my sister called to say that in training this morning her personal trainers dog jumped on her and soiled her nice clean leggings,  I just wanted to say ‘get lost’ she said.  I considered this with a calm irony.  I just said “Wow I can almost sense Mum’s flared nostrils from here!”    I remember how my dead sister would never let my mother remove old flowers from her room and how she loved the story where Mum visited a family friend’s farm and got upset due to ending up with chicken shit on her shoe…this delighted my sister.

I have empathy for my Mum though, to be left that alone when you are young and then to feel the only way you can find value or worth is by taking control, keeping everything perfect and looking good is very sad on some level when it costs a heavy price in being able to just let loose, laugh at chaos and have some fun.  I get anxious just thinking about the chicken shit, to be honest but I think that is a conditioned reaction.

I allow my own dog to jump up when he wants too.  People at the dog park don’t mind, I know some would consider it not a good sign, a sign of ‘bad manners’ or inadequate training. I see it as a sign of how affectionate he is and how much he loves people, and having him has re-connected me with that part of myself which so long ago went into hiding in a home where we were conditioned to think more about how we looked on the outside, than about how we felt on the inside and must keep genuine needs and interest locked behind a wall of fear or shyness.

Today, once again I am not going to push, push, push.  I just had a moment where I realised I was pushing and then felt really, really sad and an inner voice just said to me “how bad could it be if you just relaxed for a while?”  So for the first time in over 2 years I sitting in my faded floral chair in my small dining room and writing this.   It feels GREAT!

I know I can overcome my childhood conditioning.  Day by day I am learning more about it.  A constant theme in therapy is about how the inner critic pushes and savages me and I am learning to let go.  I had a positive dream last night in which I was being expected to make a meal at an event where there was already a lot of food, I decided in the end not to make anything even though I felt guilty.  I see that as a good sign.  The other positive dream image was that I had met a lovely man and he got undressed to get into bed, I was about take off my jeans and then I felt I wasn’t ready.  I got into bed next to him and said.  “I’d like to take my time to get to know you before we sleep together.”  He was fine with it.  I am nearly crying as I write that because sadly due to low self esteem and lots of emotional intimacy hunger in my teenage and younger and even older adult life I have jumped into bed with partners far too soon, and in the last relationship warning signs were there at the start that he had narcissistic issues and I overrode my own instincts when he asked me to have sex as I was so lonely.  This dream seems to auger really well for boundary issues.  Maybe my ‘no’  and self esteem muscles will get stronger in time.  Maybe I no longer have that same hunger due to my inner work and can now be a lover to myself, first, maybe I am learning to practice self care.  The dream sure seems to be saying just that.  Thank you God.

Angry with my family

Anger

I am not going to deny my anger any more.  I have legitimate reasons to be very angry at my family and my mother and sister in particular for what they put me through following the end of my marriage and even in the years before where I was just never treated with support, empathy and love.  I am sick to death of denying the truth to myself, rationalising it and minimising it.  I just spoke to my therapist and she said my anger needs to flow out and I need to find ways to do that today… write about it in your blog, draw it out or scream it out, do what ever you need to do to get it out of your system she said to me and so this blog is part of that process.  Internalised, invalidated anger has been kicking around inside my system for so long, it resulted in my accidents and in my alcoholism.  Part of my recovery is that I need to speak about it and value and validate my inner self and inner child.

I recognise what happened when I spoke to my mother yesterday when writing my blog A hollowed out shell was that by crying and becoming really vulnerable my Mum roped me into compassion.  Earlier on I had ended the conversation when she was once again telling me I needed to forget about things and put them behind me.   She called me back out of guilt to ask me to dinner and at first I said no and then wanted to relent when she showed me how much pain she was in and how insecure and unable to truly express herself she feels.  While I feel compassion for her I cannot let that over ride my own anger about what happened to me for it is anger that lets me know something hurt me deeply and wasn’t okay and that then helps me set some kind of boundary.  If I get told I shouldn’t have it or feel it that is invalidation abuse pure and simple and if the person is trying to guilt me out of it that is worse abuse.  Full stop! No argument, no debate!

I had a difficult day yesterday.  I noticed I got onto You Tube and posted some videos in two posts which although they had interesting insights don’t really help me to cut to the depth of dealing with the trauma and anger I am still carrying from the head injury that happened to me 12 years ago as the result of my sister and my mother’s meanness. At that stage I needed support and help to heal and grieve and know my truth, but I see how impossible this is to attain from anyone in my family they were just not that awake to the inner self or emotional realities.  My Mum is close to waking up but she seriously needs therapy.  I am sick of trying to be her therapist.  It isn’t my job really and she often told me that its not a good idea to go to others with your problems.  Her bottom line is that you need to work things out alone but that comes from a childhood where she was left alone and had to figure things out all alone.  Yesterday she was touching into deep realities and she told me how she feels so helpless and alone with no one much to talk to about all the things she goes through.  I want to say “well Mum get some therapy” but she never would.  So I end up being the font of all compassion but my compassion now is only prepared to extend so far when no recognition of past hurts or any apology has been forthcoming.

Second reason for anger and terribly acute body symptoms over the past few days has been unresolved issues with my living sister.  She was so awfully mean to me at the aforementioned time, telling me I was a selfish little girl and that I had had a shit of a life and she pitied me.  Oh and also going behind my back to my nephew (my older dead sister’s son) who I was really establishing a close relationship with and telling him how jealous I was of her.  Luckily at that time (just under 3 years ago now) he told me and I confronted her on the day we putting a party on for my mother.  I wish I had just walked out for at first she tried to deny it and then she said he had no right to tell me and then that she thought it was true.  But what I actually think is true is that the situation was the reverse and narcissists always believe they are so wonderful that the universe is jealous of them, why I do not know when the are such superiority junkies looking down their noses at all and sundry.  I have never been that person, as those who know me and have told me its just NOT ME.

Anyway she has softened somewhat in later years and actually did give me a grudging apology about what occurred in 2005 when I confronted her and Mum about it 2 years ago around this time of year.  But it was in no way an apology that came from her heart or truly recognised the damage done and the other day when she rang me about my tooth issue concerned to see how I was, it was I who ended up apologising to her for reacting to the horrible way she traated me.  Did I need to apologise  NO!  And my inner child is very upset with adult me about it and let me know as I woke up with shocking PTSD symptoms yesterday.  Whenever I see my sister my anxiety level goes through the roof and I was telling my therapist today that it was because I feel there is a lot of anger and hurt my body is carrying and the only way it has to come out is as anxiety.  But the mixed up irony is that as anxious as I feel I try even harder to bond with her and its a trauma bond and end up having an extra coffee with her even though its not really good for me to do it, because I feel she may be lonely.

I am aware as I write all this out it may seem like sour grapes to some.  I don’t really care as what you think isn’t my issue.  But what I need to know and see more clearly which is why I am putting it out there in black and white is how I can over ride my own impulses and intuitions. I often find my inner critic attacks my real attempts at feeling the truth of my feelings and most particularly that includes genuine expressions of anger.

Katina, my therapist was today reminding me that as much compassion as I feel I also need to remind myself that its okay to be angry.  So many of the messages around me growing up in family and Catholic school were based on anger being a ‘bad’ or negative emotion, when really anger is a signal of something from our deepest, truest inner self.  If we deny or over ride our own angry impulses we end up in such strife.  I have had so many accidents due to traumas from my past or pain replaying over in the present moment and this is one of the saddest facts about trauma,  it tends to attract more of the same to us but most particularly for those of us who were taught to value compassion, rationalisation and excuses over valid expression of anger.  So many times I have been told I better be careful as anger is dangerous, but this is only the case when it is not cleanly and clearly expressed, or if it is expressed aggressively.   We need to be so mindful of where our sore angry spots lie because when triggered they are signs of something from the past that needs to be dealt with or is calling for our awareness or attention, if we don’t pay attention we are in trouble  It won’t do us any good to act our anger out on those who really are just triggering a massive back log of past stuff but we still need to be aware that such people aren’t good to be around on a long term basis.  I am sad to say that goes for my family at present, much as I long for their love, when they are around it comes with huge reminders of pain from the past.  I have not ‘let it go’ yet, it hasn’t let go of me.

Its difficult writing this, as I was the television was just turned on by some automatic process.  I went over and Jasper my dog had his ear on the remote but what was most interesting was that it was a show called Compass and was on a priest’s life, and at that moment in time he was speaking of the ‘false ego’ that has to die if we want to fully embrace our humanity.  It made me question the wisdom of hanging onto my anger.  Maybe my sister had changed now and has soften, maybe she regrets what she did to me all of those years ago.  Maybe my mother wishes she hadn’t been so cruel to have chosen my sister over me when I was ‘too sad’ grieving at the end of my marriage.  I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.  Is my anger coming from ‘false ego’?  Is that why the television automatically came on?  I don’t know either but I am putting this in my blog as part of the mental process I go through on a day when I am trying to make sense of and deal with this anger from the past and the deep wound in me that gets triggered around this time of year.  I feel less angry now after writing this.  I have attempted to express my true reality, for what it is worth.   And I appreciate any feedback or any sharing from others about how you have dealt with your own anger.

And in the interest of openness the following are just a selection of anger quotes I came across on line :

 

 

A hollowed out shell : realisations on the way to freedom

******TRIGGER WARNING : THIS POST CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE *****

I’m having deeper realisations today.  I see how I am living in a hollowed out shell.  It’s an encasement I built in trying to stay connected to my family, out of fear of walking away and leaving them behind, staying tied in my mind to a childhood mythology of connection when in fact there is no deeper connection between us on a personal level.

I feel like a stranger in a strange land, a little child who lived for so long behind glass screaming out for love and attention from people who could never see her.  On my side of the glass I see all of them going through the motions but its a pane of glass which from their side is opaque, they cannot see me or understand or hear my soul and its beginning to occur to me that just possibly they were never meant to.  If I had become subsumed in their world would I ever have really fitted there?   Maybe it was always my karma as the youngest most attuned one to be more aware of deeper realities they were blind to.

The truth is that spiritually I don’t feel a great connection to the mainstream culture around me.  I watch it with a kind of curious detachment.  On some level I am aware that this world is not my ultimate home, that I am on some level on a spiritual journey that has set me apart and all my attempts at belonging are doomed to fail for ultimately they rest on the negation of who I really am at a deeper level, a person who lives as an essence beyond all human ‘roles’, ‘positions’ or even points of view.   I just never found ‘my place’ whatever that is and I feel more connected to the world of night time and dreams than to human schemes that often seem to end in such peril.

And yet as I am writing this I am also aware of the critic’s voice in the shadows saying to me, don’t you think this all comes out of your own childhood trauma of being raised in a family where you never felt connected to?  Yes, probably!  As the black sheep maybe I have yet to find my true place of belonging or maybe I have a job to do with learning to rebuild authentic connection with others which comes from living more ‘unmasked’, vulnerable, open, raw and real!

And it occurs to me that possibly at the moment that the past ties that bind me to others are breaking apart and I am being freed at some level. I had a chat with my mother yesterday.  I couldn’t talk to her last week after all my rage came out over the phone with her. It wasn’t targeted at her but at the dentist who has left my dental surgery hanging in a suspended sentence but the anger was also hers, the anger, frustration and perfectionism with a huge dose of survival fear that was passed down to all of us unrecognised, unmediated, undigested.   She seemed oblivious when she called me yesterday, more concerned with sharing the pain over the loss of a close friend, and telling me I really must learn not to get so angry.  I then started to feel guilt for my resentment and that she had to go to the funeral alone, but later on I realised I didn’t need to feel guilty, my anger was genuine and I am not responsible for my Mum, I can care for her but I can’t always be there when I am going through my own issues.

I have tried for so many years to be my Mum’s emotional caretaker and also she has roped me into that role with my other sister, getting me to feel all kinds of uncomfortable feelings of responsibility which are just not mine.   I recognised after yesterday that the pattern of connection with my Mum is that I care for her emotional needs and feelings while she tells me to put all of mine behind me and forget about them focusing on the present.  Ultimately that might be good advice when we have actually been able to have those emotions, feelings and needs and been able to express them in the first place.  I am FUCKING OVER THIS ROLE,   DID I SAY THAT CLEARLY ENOUGH, I AM FUCKING OVER IT!!!!!!  And the cost is that I carry everything and have not one recognition given of any pain I have suffered at their hands.  FUCK IT AND DOUBLE FUCK IT!!!

I am wearing the cost of a traumatic head injury all as a result of what went down when I really needed my family’s emotional support following the end of the marriage I sacrificed 13 years ago.   At that point my sister forced my Mum to choose between her and I… it was insane….. my Mum chose her because I was ‘too sad’.  That drove me 12,000 miles away.  At that time I should have broken all contact with them and gone forward into my own life, but my older sister was still alive and I didn’t want her to be emotional abandoned so I was back and forward between the UK and home and at that point (a year out of my marriage and when I suffered the head trauma) I was 12,000 miles from home with next to no protection or support around me.

I think there is an anger which is separation anger.  I think it is a legitimate feeling that we need to feel.  This kind of anger is clean and clear, it isn’t resentment.  It helps us to recognise what needs to be done, what is needed by our soul to be free and get clean and clear.  This anger helps us to recognise what hurts us and say ‘ouch’ so that we can set boundaries.  It is the rebel yell we need to have to maintain our authentic essential connection to self and yet we float about as an individual in a precarious sea of others who have a very deep investment in us not being different or real or true to ourselves by rocking their boat and so often if we are empathic, in feeling so deeply what they don’t feel, expressing anger becomes deeply problematic as we see how unconscious others so often are.

The choice to be us, to be an individual is ultimately our responsibility and demands that we leave the victim stance behind and yet we are also part of collective and families where we struggle to express and live our essence surrounded by the force fields of others.   My anger says “others hurt me, I need to care of myself”.  We need boundaries but what happens when boundaries become walls and defences that we use to keep all others out, is this where love compassion and discrimination comes in.  If others are dismissive to our deeper wounds do we accept that they were never meant to understand and also accept that in the end our task as emotionally mature adults is to take care of our own inner child.  In the end isn’t it only we who can do that to the extent that we become aware of our inner child’s wound and in doing so don’t we become aware of the wounds of others and learn to show compassion but when is our compassion self defeating to our own needs and journey  I am struggling here as you can sense.

In the middle of writing this blog my Mum called me back.  We had an honest talk.  I shared with her how angry I feel when she doesn’t seem to hear me and she shared with me her vulnerabilities and her deep sense of inadequacy, how alone and ill equipped she had felt following my father’s death, how exhausted by the mental health struggles of her two daughters (I really wish she would have some therapy and take some ownership of what went down.   She broke down and I felt so much compassion for her which is the old pattern but as an empath I can’t seem to stop it.

I saw how even though she is my mother she may not actually be the emotionally mature parent figure in our dyad, she hasn’t had the benefit of any therapy or emotional recovery.  The good thing was that we could each share out pain honestly and I saw more and more clearly how I have to look to others to provide and help me learn to provide for myself emotionally what is impossible for my emotional ill equipped Mum.  In the end she passed on a portion of her wounds to each of us.  In the end she has done what she could to provide for us on financial levels, in the end she gave to the very best of her ability all that she could and perhaps too much in the wrong ways.   In the end its time to for me to separate and grow up realising more and more about the wounded abandoned child who living so deeply buried inside so often had to remain hidden or find guises to hide behind which may help him or her appear big and strong when really he or she wasn’t.

Compassionate consciousness, empathy, realisation of where the bondage of self may obscure from us a larger view of all important things these are all so essential on my path of recovery.  One things I know Mars in Cancer coming towards an opposition with Pluto soon is revealing deeper layers of the generational mother wound deep inside that left a hollowed out shell in which new seeds of life and consciousness are growing.

An open field of hurt : reflections on carried trauma and abuse

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My body feels like it is dislodging and dissolving the sediment of ages of neglect, trauma and abuse today.  I wrote the post Unprotected last night after coming home from the chiropractor.  Last night I felt a shift in my body from the treatment but following it the drama of symptoms my body goes through in trying to unravel its tragic tale is almost overwhelming. This nightly nightmare is not just an ‘anxiety attack’ but the cellular reliving of every trauma, wrists cut open, teeth smashed out, feet with third degree burns, arms pulled out of socks, bloody webbing between big and little toe from where Dad’s fishhook lodged due to his leaving it lying in seagrass matting, the feeling of having foetus’s removed from my womb, nights and nights of drinking to blot it out, go numb or forget.  And then the traumas that came after the addiction was arrested but the deeper trauma of the child’s plight was, as yet so far from being understood.

Last night I re-read some chapters of Alice Miller’s book The Truth Will Set You Free ; Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self as a reminder that is it only by waking up to what happened for so many of us in childhood and in our parent’s childhood that we can find freedom from emotional and body pain, for our bodies and cells REMEMBER EVERYTHING that happened to them and I believe what our ancestors lived is repeated and carried down cellularly and in repeated behaviour until someone wakes up.

However, in  order to know what happened to us, really happened, those painful truths so many seek to deny we need an enlightened witness to believe us and so many of this don’t even find it with certain therapists, in my opinion.

I now know that although I was unprotected, so were both my parents.  They passed down what they knew and my Dad never got to wake up because he died.  My Mum still rationalised her own mother’s beatings as explainable as due to her own misbehaviour and the fact my Grandmother was a frustrated single mother, a widow.   I am deeply ashamed to say that there are a few times I have punished my dog for weeing in my bedroom.  By some kind of curious synchronicity he did this yesterday for the first time in ages and I felt that old fury arise which was a lot like the fury my own mother used to express.   It would start with her nostrils being flared and we were then tensed and contracted in every muscle, scared for what would happen.  I am so sad to say at times I have enacted this on my own dog.  😦    But yesterday I didn’t do it.  I took him and put his nose gently in the mess and then told him I was upset (not that he can probably understand) and then I gave him a hug.  I got control over my own feelings of wanting to displace my own fury onto him and then I cried as I remembered everything, most especially why I felt the need to turn to the bottle and drugs.

Today I just see how infinitely sad and tragic the entire sorry mess has been.  I have found it so hard to separate from a mother who  herself was emotionally abandoned and when I think of the resentment I have been feeling lately at times I feel shame as my Mum has tried in other ways to support me in later years but I rejected her help as my traumatised child had not yet forgiven her.  She has never been able to own how difficult it was for us to live as we did growing up and as I look at myself and my other siblings I see we all carry the scars of this kind of pain in different ways but I know how my Mum now suffers in seeing us suffer and I must remember that she too suffered and learned to rationalise as a defence, something she does when I try to point certain painful truths out.  But the most important thing, as Alice Miller points out in all her books is that we know and believe our own deep emotional truth.

For myself I have almost been crippled by this pain.    When I ran to the other side of the world again 12 years ago only to smash up on my bike it was due to the fact of feeling overtaken by that furious unresolved family energy swooping down on me following the end of my marriage.  I abandoned my first therapy due to agonising fear, not being aware that was what drove the abortion of the first serious attempt I  had made to try to get to grips with my life and pain.  It would take me a further 13 years of wandering in a lost world and wilderness to find another therapist to stick it out with.   And even then at times I feel my therapist struggles to make sense of my body symptoms.

It is so sad to me to think that at 55 I am still by no means free of a painful childhood which has replayed its traumas and defeats.  But I am 23 years sober so that is a major achievement, but alcoholism was a symptom of a far deeper malaise and the real work starts with our sobriety which is then end of our numbing.  We embark on a long journey when we finally make that commitment to heal and its one that has deep roots which stretch back generations into my ancestors past.  The abandoned and traumatised or beaten child struggling alone against enormous obstacles is a vein that stretches back pumping its poison blood into the next generation until we take the steps to see what the nature of the poison is and how we can turn away from pumping it out there over and over and over and over again.  Staying bitter, angry and resentful will not bring final healing but feeling all of these difficult feelings is very much a part of the process.  Its a great paradox.  I am reminded that only prayer and turning the deep resentment toxin over to a higher larger stronger force than the mere human works when we come to the thorny issue of forgiveness.  We fore – give so we no longer re-enact the pain on ourselves and others.  Its a strong gesture of inner power that may only be reached after travelling over harsh, rocky landscapes of pain.

For me self nurture. self love and self compassion then projected out is the only way home, the only way to find freedom from this mess.  My body will carry its scars and my missing teeth are a testament to so much pain that was swallowed down and went mute only to be expressed in a blinding rage of fury which in biting down so hard only hurt me.  Somehow I need to find forgiveness and I do believe as Alice Miller writes that this can only come after we mourn our losses and injuries and face up to the truth and pain of what happened, naming it for what it is and seeing how much of it is a horrible mistake that in D H Lawrence’s eloquent words “mankind has chosen to sanctify”.  When we believe that by sparing the rod we spoil the child we buy into lies and some cuts and whippings go deeper than the physical they are the unkind words spoken to us or carried down that speak lies that we swallow wholesale and so tragically make our reality.   With every fibre of our being we must hold the wounded child, love the wounded child, champion the wounded child, help the wounded child to understand and not re-enact its own pain.  Let it begin with us, let us hate the actions but not the person of the perpetrator who in being so unconscious of what he or she is doing weaves a tragic outcome that takes all the healing love, empathy, consciousness and understanding in the world to change.

Alice 3

 

 

 

 

You didn’t protect me

I just had a watershed moment after briefly connecting with my sister at the markets and touching on the recent death of her daughter in law’s father about how alone I was following the death of my Dad and how prior to that Dad never protected me from Mum’s angry whirlwind energy and perfectionist project which was part of an onslaught on me from a very young age.

Byron Brown’s book which shows how we engage with the introjected critic from a young age in three ways, counterattack, rationalisation or by absorbing and collapsing in reaction to its energy has mirrored insights I came to following reading Pete Walker’s book on Complex PTSD a year or so ago but Brown expresses this information in a more useable way showing how each matter of relating means we respond from one of three bodily levels, gut, head or heart.

You will need to read the book to find the outline of the information he presents in it but his basic explanation is that early on we learn to take in the criticism that is not fair on us and identify with it even when we are defending against it, rationalising it away or using it to fall into a depression or psychic paralysis we are wedded to the critical energy and it exerts profound power over us.  When we respond to inner or outer criticism with any of these three methods we are in fact ‘hooked’ by the idea that in some way the critic is right or that we deserve such criticism on some level.  From this position we self reject and so disempower the helpful response which would be to let the critic’s criticism fly past us without reacting, instead staying connected to love and compassion for self from our inner centre.   Which is a powerful position of letting go.

I found myself crying on the way to the market after reading the chapter Engaging the Judge for I remembered how often as a child I was on the end of ‘attacks’ from my Mum.  I would defend against these attacks, sometimes by flying into rages or even pulling knife on my Mum at one stage after it had gone on for years and Dad would just sit on the sidelines and do nothing to help except say to my Mum behind my back “her mouth is her defence”.

I internalised my Mum’s own shame as I see it now and this is why my father’s death had such an affect on me, regardless of the fact I had no one nearby to comfort or protect me after he died, I was also without the inner protection I needed from internalised criticism due to my upbringing and I think this realisation is what really brought me undone this afternoon. I also identified how often when others criticise or hurt me I rationalise the pain away rather than feel it and I have also allowed it to enter me and overtake me so badly that at the end of my marriage I had completely absorbed it and collapsed under its weight.

Add to that this afternoon we were speaking about how much support my niece in law has around her following her Dad’s death and that triggers the deep pain that following my own father’s death I was completely unsupported which is why I left the meeting with my sister with a bursting chest and tears fell when I was soon out of the carpark.

In a way this blog isn’t really for my readers although I do hope some others gain some insight into how their own inner critic may not belong to them, it is my attempt to put in black and white what I have gone through.  I am recognising how emotionally abandoned I have been not only after my Dad’s death but by so called boyfriends and friends who didn’t recognise the full brunt of what I was going through in those painful years age 23 – 31 and even into recovery both with my ex husband and last partner.

On the way home from the markets I listened to Massive Attack’s song Protection full bore as I recognised how the loving arms I needed around me were never there.

I was never protected and even worse my own deep pain was never validated nor understood anywhere apart from with one or two therapists …oh and yes, on here with those who have gone through the same devastating soul crunching emotional abandonment in their own lives.  I watch other’s struggle with the critic’s attacks of their own process when they are opening to deep and valid emotional pain, so long buried in their own souls.  I recognise what they go through when that inner critical voice tries to shame them for feeling or starting to depend on someone who finally WILL protect them when the fear of being hurt again is so huge.

All I can say is that such recovery takes so much courage and so much work for the worst ever thing would be for the critic to jump in at the most critical stage of healing and cause us one again to sabotage the process.  This is exactly what happened to me in two therapies, the first I started in July 1992 and the second attempt in 2001 and I am reliving that pain as the anniversary of the head smash up accident of 2005 draws close.  It was after this I met with astrologer Melanie Reinhardt and she gave me the gift of Byron Brown’s book a gift I could not open for 12 years.  Ouch and double ouch and triple ouch, but thank God now I can start to get a handle on so much in my own life and psyche that has been for me a permanent stumbling block.

Brown’s book is helping me so much because he brings recognition to a process whereby we can help ourselves by becoming more mindful and recognising too that our soul really is the part of us we most need to connect to in order to heal.  On one level our soul or essence or pure being can never be open to criticism, what flows out of it when our own energy is lovingly received (which happens for so few of us in) should be natural experiences of flow and discharge of essential energies inside of the soul and our inner being.

When all we meet in the outer world from day one is forms of resistance to the flow of our innate energy, hungers and needs which issue from the soul we naturally begin to dam ourselves up with alarming consequences, However later in life we can become more conscious once we learn to tap into who we really are deep inside, that instinctive innate part of which knows how to be and what to do freed of a hundred and one defences of the inner critic we internalised over years, inner voices and judgements which keep us locked up in defensive responses and reactions that keep us trapped and locked up inside.

Judging affects our body

This is another post inspired by Byron Brown’ book Soul Without Shame. Ever since starting to read about it I have been connecting the dots on so many things, on how John Bradshaw years ago connected addiction and disconnection with the inner child to toxic shame, pointing out how often addicts came from religious or other overly controlled and controlling households where certain feelings and expressions meet with hostility, rejection and shame becoming ‘shame bound’.   Shame bound feelings explains a state where you cannot have a feeling such as sadness or anger without also feeling ashamed for the pure fact of having it, you then have a lot of feelings locked up inside that you exist in a deeply problematic relationship with.

Shame becomes internalised in this state of being and feelings can only be had under her cover of night.  If we have a lot of anger over stuff that happened to us we swallow it down since it would be shameful to express it and then we become the super nice do good people pleaser who jumps through hoops by day but becomes on fire at night or when drunk with blind reactions or rages.  We then wake up and feel ashamed about the shadow energies that came alive in us when we took the risk to shut the judge up with some form of numbing.

Recovery opens us to a cacophony of feelings bound in shame that we can no longer suppress, we try extra hard to work on our recovery and ‘become good’ but the fact is that our self judged ‘bad’ isn’t really bad at all, its just repressed life energy now bound in shame and fear and we no longer have the liberation of the ‘numb’ to at least let us blow off some steam.  Now we not only have to feel but we need to feel what is real for us in a body that is slowly waking up or becoming less numb.  How will we allow this when the  judge that is on our case exists inside us an energy of self suppresssion?

I cant clearly articulate any kind of process or formula here of the ‘way out’ as so many of us find our own ways out of toxic shame.  We all have our own unique battle with the forces of judgement and self judgement we have internalised but what may help some of us most particularly on a somatic/emotional level is the recognition of how shame and self rejection of our needs, wants, desire, meaning and feeling may manifest on a bodily level.  We can engage in a process of self monitoring towards what happens in our body when we try to meet certain standards. and react to inner and outer judgements and shame.

Late last week I also began to read the book Power Over Panic in which the author draws attention towards perfectionism, control, the need to impress others or live to certain ideal standards that are not realistic and panic attacks.   Apparently a panic attack can only happen when there is resistance on one level to an emotional truth which we are attempting to suppress or deny.  Such information interested me since I have suffered from a host of weird body symptoms and manifestations of anxiety ever since my marriage ended just under 13 years ago    Slowly while reading this book I was connecting the dots, dots which are becoming even more connected now reading Byron Brown’s book on shame and the inner critic.

The chapter I am currently reading speaks about developing a process in which we become attentive to what goes on in our body as we talk to ourselves in certain ways.  I have noticed in myself that a state of contraction comes with feelings of fear and shame and with inner voices saying things around me are out of control or not perfect enough.  I have noticed too how a deeply compassionate loving attitude in which I put my focus on my heart and the opening healing breath actually allows my being and consciousness to expand and the result may be tears of relief and release following often by feelings of joy, peace and happiness.  I am noticing more and more how my own consciousness can both contract and expand as I judge not only myself but others as well.  It is enlightening to me and so I wanted to share my own insights around how I am noticing judgement impacts and affects my body, for we live in such a judging culture that is externally focused in this day and age, is it therefore any wonder that anxiety conditions are so prevalent.  I am sure it is in no way a new insight, but it is one that I am coming to understand and become aware of more and more lately.