Core trauma and core sentences : addressing carried ancestral or parental trauma and pain.

Many of us have core thoughts or beliefs, often fuelled by past pain, losses, trauma or fear which run over and over like an ongoing monologue either at the level or just below the level of consciousness.  We may not be fully aware of them.  We may not be fully aware of where they come from.  Not knowing our parents or grand parents or great grand parent’s history (about which they often remained silent) we may not realise that they actually relate back to something – a loss, trauma, illness or injury that happened in past generations.  They may then fuel our lives in painful ways causing much havoc.

This blog is a continuation of earlier ones I wrote last week on the subject of ancestral healing  Its something I became aware of in my own life through intuition as I learned more about past traumas on my mothers’s side of the family after I got sober in 1993.  I was aware when I began to attend Al Anon after many years in AA that my addiction was a family inheritance, something passed down in some way.  It wasn’t until I was given access by chance to information about my great great grandfather’s history of addiction, loss, grief and eventual abandonment that I began to join up some of the dots.  That is why I was so excited to finally read Mark Wolynn’s book on ancestral pain and healing It Didn’t Start With You last week.  

In an early chapter of his book, Mark tells the story of a young (19 year old man) called Jesse who at that age suddenly began to experience panic attacks which involved his body feeling covered with cold and shaking.  On exploring the family history Mark found out that Jesse had an uncle who died at the age of 19 after falling down face first in the snow.  Jesse at the same age of his uncle’s trauma was re-experiencing the symptoms and emotional as well as physical pain of his uncle. Once the connection to his ancestor’s pain was acknowledged and healing work was done to make a separation Jesse’s symptoms and panic attacks subsided.

The second story Mark tells of a woman who began to feel suicidal at a certain age.  She would be overcome with the worst depression and say to herself “I just want to incinerate myself”.  Turns out a host of her relatives had actually been gassed in the gas chambers by the Nazi’s during World War II.   The family history was hidden and never spoken of but this woman carried the painful feelings of longing to die which hit around the age some of her relatives were killed.

There are too many other powerful stories of healing in Mark’s book to relate in this one post and I have a limit tonight on what I can transcribe.  What I would like to address is that so often pain we carry may not only be ours.   It may have roots in childhood but often the childhood relates in some way to the past of a parent or grandparent that was transferred.  According to Mark if the there is a murder or other legacy of guilt in a family a later member may be urged to attone for that guilt or murder.

What is required to free ourselves from such unconscious repetition compulsions and carried ancestral trauma bonds is the ability to honour the ancestor’s pain and give the guilt or grief back to whom it belongs.   To this end Mark suggests the following ways of handing back and releasing ourselves from ancestral pain so we no longer need to carry on the unhappiness, grief or guilt that didnt start with us.

Visualise the family member or members involved in the (traumatic) event.  Tell them : “You are important.  I will do something meaningful to honor you.  I will make something good come out of this tragedy.  I will live my life as fully as I can, knowing that this is what you want for me.”

Construct a personal language or healing sentences to counteract the destructive power of damaging ones.  In this language acknowledge the unique connection you share with the person or people.

In addition you can use the following healing sentences :

“Instead of reliving what happened to you, I promise to live my life fully.”

“What happened to you won’t be in vain.”

“I will use what happened as a source of strength.”

“I will honor the life you gave me by doing something good with it.”

“I will do something meaningful and dedicate it to you.”

“I will not leave you out of my heart.”

“I’ll light a candle for you.”

“I’ll live my life in a loving way.”

“I will make something good come out of this tragedy.”

“Now I understand.  It helps me to understand.”

Mark give additional practices in the next part of the book which involve keeping a photo and working to return guilt or pain to its original source. Lighting candles to honor the journey of our ancestors,  Visualising and creating boundaries and distance between the ancestor’s or parent’s pain and keeping that boundary clear and clean while honoring their loss, pain or trauma.

Additional practices involve connecting with our own bodies to honour our integrity and self as we learn to achieve a psychic wholeness and deepening connection within.  I shared one of these in an earlier post today.  The involve putting a hand on our body, breathing deeply while saying the following :

“I’ve got you.”

“I’m here.”

“I’ll hold you.”

“I’ll breathe with you.”

“I’ll comfort you.”

“Whenever you’re feeling scared or overwhelmed, I won’t leave you.”

“I’ll stay with you.”

“I’ll breathe with you until you are calm.”

When we place our hands on our body and direct our words and breath inside, we support the parts of ourselves that feel most vulnerable.  In doing so, we have a chance to erase or release what we experience as intolerable.  Long standing feelings of discomfort can give way to feelings of expansion and well-being.  As the new feelings take root, we can experience ourselves being more supported in our body.

Such ways of being with our selves and supporting our bodies provide for us a holding environment and counter act dissociation or an attempt to move away and self reject or self abandon.  We may never have learned this way of coping or self soothing before but now we can.  We truly can be present for us and send our own body all the love, support, comfort and healing we need for our journey of separating from old pain we should not have to carry onward.

Cultivating peace

Focus

It is occurring to me lately that cultivating peace on any day is something I can choose to do.  I would rather feel the soft cool balm of peace washing over my troubled soul at those times when it may be hurting or aching.  I would rather answer that cry of regret or feelings of not good enough or criticism with a soothing caring word from self that lets me know that having it all together is not the answer to peace and happiness for me in the present moment, rather that answer lies in peace and at oneness, acceptance of the fact that life can at times be full of pain and far from easy.

Past years have shown me beyond any doubt how hard I can be on myself inside my head.  I didn’t hear voices of self compassion growing up.  I was alone a lot with my thoughts and I felt an emptiness from my parent’s emotional distance which I now know went back to disconnection from their own parents and having to mature at a time of great emotional turmoil in both their worlds affected by traumas beseiging their families due to war and other difficulties.

What I did develop in this environment was a sense of being alone and not knowing where to turn but to substances.  I also became very critical inside my head.  Because I did not know how to manage, nor who to ask I just took myself off and diverted or buried feelings.  Even in my sobriety as trauma began to emerge I started to feel and hear a very destructive inner voice telling me to take my life.

I will post a post after this which comes from a recovery story in the book Beyond Borderline in which a sufferer speaks of how she struggled with her own inner critic. Those of us recovering from Complex PTSD which is a wider less stigmatising diagnosis that could be an umbrella under which others such as Bi Polar and Borderline could fall have deep work to do with the inner critic in recovery.  The inner critic doesn’t accept anything, it judges which is different from discriminating between helpful and unhelpful responses to trauma.  It runs an ongoing monologue of all the ways we have failed, fallen short and not measured up without considering that we lacked certain skills or support.

The antidote to the inner critic is a wise mind loving compassionate voice which is more realistic and understands how we have suffered.  It understands that we have only fallen short of arbitrary standards that are not necessarily realistic nor kind.  It allow for us to progress rather than demanding us to be perfect.  This is the voice that gives us peace, that helps us to cultivate peace.  This is the voice we need to listen to keep our lives in love and balance, rather than full of pain, fear and destabilisation.

I do believe what we choose to focus on grows in our life.  My work with a trauma body therapist involves putting the focus on goodness or pleasant feelings and sensations or things in the environment, not purely as a distraction to pain but as a reminder of what good still lives on outside a traumatised reality.  In many instances the trauma or pain we carry is not even ours, it belongs to the ones who passed it on or the ones that passed it onto them.  We can learn to give this pain back where it belongs and I will write about this soon in a post which shares the work therapist Mark Wolynn does with recognising core trauma and fears we take on from the past.   We are not meant to live a life of constant fear, pain and insecurity but this is what we will find if we keep our focus on it.

In touch with ourselves

Eternity

Just after I post a post on my blog I often find there comes into my mind a contrary view.  It could be something to do with the way I view the world, constantly questioning views and looking to see what lies on the other side.  In my last post I spoke about consistent loving emotional presence as an antidote to the agony, trauma, pain and suffering of BPD.  But after posting it I had a thought how the deepest connection we really need at any moment is to the compassionate wise loving self inside, that can so often be obscured by the inner critic and demoniser that lives inside painting everything black.

I had a really healing day with my Mum yesterday. I took her to the shops so she could buy a card for a friend’s 90th birthday.  We just strolled around a little as its hard for Mum to walk these days and then we sat down at the cafe in our local centre and had a piece of sour cherry and almond loaf with a juice.  We spoke of so many things.  I held her hand, I cried, I felt all the pain of our past and all we had lived through conflicts and fears as well as struggles and tears but also love.   I then drove her home and did some pottering in my garden.  My sleep was not too long in coming and it was deep with a few short break awakenings which is not how it has been over the past few nights where I woke up feeling swollen with undigested feelings and food on the days I connected with no one.

When I woke I thought of how in his book Mark Wolynn speaks of connecting to ourselves by placing a hand on our heart and just saying “I am here”.  I awake every morning with startle PTSD symptoms of push pull with body sensations that would be too complex to explain here but this morning instead when I woke up I just put my hand on my heart and said to myself “I am here”  “I will never leave you.”

I felt better and got up and slowly pottered around the house and garden, did some cleaning.  I had my juice and fruit and then wrote two blogs and then had eggs on toast.  I got to thinking after I posted my last post on needing someone there 24/7i healing from emotional abandonment how the one person who can be there for us 24/7 is actually us.  We can learn to be the unconditional loving presence we need in our own lives.  We can take that burden off of others.  We can find a source of joy to connect to on any day, whether it is music or a song we like to sing, or to looking a thing of beauty or reading an inspiring post.  We can make our life happy and content from within.  But only after we have processed any past pain that stands in our way.  And for this we initially need another person’s unconditional loving presence to teach us how to do that and be there for ourselves in a loving way no longer so beseiged by an attacking destructive inner critic.

When we feel this connection from within our emptiness disappears.  The emptiness we feel in certain conditions is actually for many of us a signal of a past life in which we were not connected to emotionally and so could not feel filled up or ‘real’.  We need to heal that deep disconnection and find a way to connect emotionally from within so that emptiness is no longer a source of pain but a place in which we can explore depths of our souls best known in silence and later able to be shared with others.  The deepest connection we long for is really deep inside us.

Broken / insecure attachments and anxiety

I am getting more awareness around my own anxiety issues these days.  I borrowed a book from the library on male borderline personality disorder and reading the section on attachments reminded me how much we can suffer and how insecure we can feel when in childhood early attachments were a source of pain.  If they were non existent or unreliable or if we suffered physical or emotional abandonment when young, then we never got to establish that sense of secure trust and holding that I mentioned in my post on the mother wound yesterday.  And without this it is nearly impossible to establish a secure sense of self.  We may struggle for a lot of our life with anxious feelings around being close, reaching out, establishing intimacy and depending and relying on others.

In a post I wrote a while back on avoidant attachment https://wordpress.com/post/emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/35898

I addressed how avoidance can be a response to being let down and emotionally abandoned as well and then that pattern is replayed.  Those of us with avoidant attachment may attract those with insecure attachment (really we are both insecure but one of us is invested in NOT showing it).  It can be hard for both parties to see their part and then the relationship can be full of hurt, misunderstanding and frustration.

This week I have managed to organise to have two outings with friends and that is a difficult issue for me.  I am anxious prior to meetings at times and then I am anxious also in initiating contacts too.  As an empath I often fear being overwhelmed.  Developing a sense of trust in new relationships where I am no longer as invalidated as I have been in the past is taking time, but it is happening.

Its important to know what our attachment style or difficulties are in life, especially if we have known past abuse, abandonment or trauma.  This lessens the self blame we can feel for ‘not being like everyone else’.   If we can explore our past as well as the things in childhood or friendships that hurt us or overly trigger our anxiety and core wound we are better placed to find boundaries to deal with it.  I had to let one friendship go last year because each time I organised to meet up with this girlfriend she would be up to half an hour late.  It wasn’t just once that it happened but nearly every single time.  The last straw was when she turned up late to take me to a radiation appointment.  I chose to get myself there and she was upset when I told her I was annoyed.  What she didn’t realise was that every time she ran late without doing me the courtesy of letting me know she was forcing me to carry anxiety.  As a over scheduler who was always doing too much, her relationships got to bear the brunt of her own tendency to have poor boundaries.  I have felt better not spending time with her though I do honestly miss aspects of our friendship but caring for myself meant I had to set my boundary.

Dealing with the ongoing effects of insecure attachment is not easy.  Its not our fault that we suffer from the affects of earlier abandonment or abuse or inconsistency.  It was not until I read a book on attachment styles earlier in the year that I learned that those with anxious attachment do better if they don’t have to deal with those who have an avoidant style.  If we do we are endlessly triggered and that is not good for our stability, ongoing emotional and physical well being or mental health.  If we were not sufficiently held when young we may not be aware of what is healthy and recovering a sense of self means we need to find out what is best for us and not endlessly settle for less or second best.   ‘To gain we have to know we have value and the power to ask for what we want and need or express distress if it is necessary or will help our connections and intimacy with another to grow.

 

Finding connection through disconnection after trauma

Some people just get us.  Some people are an energy of love that you can just feel.   When you are with them your heart opens and you feel your energy lift.  They don’t subtly or so unsubtly invalidate you or put you down.  When you have not known this kind of pure love and open heartedness it can be so easy to distrust.  And we sensitive ones do need to be careful at times who we open up to as a lot of people may blame or shame us.  But still I do think there are also those out there who recognise our high sensitivity.

I often wonder how much less sensitive we may have been in a better or more self protective way if this side of us was seen, acknowledged or valued earlier on.  Traumatic things hit us hard and Peter Levine, the trauma expert makes the point that how we are treated immediately after trauma affects how well we recover.  In my own case I was on the other side of the world so far from family support when my second trauma hit and I escaped there as to be around their energy felt violent emotionally to me.  After the accident I struggled to find a safe space then freaked out and came back home.  It was a night mare.

I retreated alone and then got into a relationship with someone who brutalised me when I showed grief.  I justified how he treated me and kept going back because I did not know I needed more.  I was not kind to myself and had never learned really to value who I was and my capacity to feel.  I put down alcohol and smoking at 31 as I really wanted to live in a kinder way but that was just the beginning of understanding how the energies of others around me affected me and how I was responding.  As I look back over the past six years of being back near family I see I have struggled to maintain my own boundaries and self care with all the other traumas that followed especially the attempted suicide of my other sister.

Not one family member has chose to do any emotional work at all.  I try to point things out but it is often like trying to lead a horse to water.  And I am beginning to see that by myself I suffer in a family at times where feelings and sensitivities have to be so hidden and that is physically so repressed and non demonstrative.  I see how my living sister uses exercise herself to connect in the absence of the love and holding that is really needed.  These days I only see one or two friends who I can really connect with and often I think my body is suffering and crying out for holding care and love.  Maybe it is time for me to start to seek out some kind of touch therapy and holding, I have been considering Reiki.

I have often come to grief with holding therapies.  I had the accident after a session of cranio sacral.  The second time I tried it I freaked out with the therapist and she shamed and invalidated me so much I left, letting someone into your body when you have suffered traumas to it and violations of it is fraught with peril and such big feelings but at the moment I think it may help to release some of what my tissues have had to hold so deep inside over past years.

I am sharing about this today and the synchronicity with astrology is that today Mercury is in the body ruled sign of Virgo which relates to earth mother and is coming up to oppose natal Chiron in the seventh which is all my wounds in relationships from the past and maybe that is healing now as on WordPress I now seem to have made so many good connections with people who truly validate and understand.   It helps me to write about all of this and what others post really prompts and awakens my own healing.  In this way I make connections in all kinds of ways and that is the work of Mercury who travels and links us.  Today I as I was walking I was imagining the entire world as a web of interconnected energies.  Who we meet with and connect with on any day has such a powerful impact on us for good or ill and surely there people out there who we could really gel with but just never get to meet.  In any case here is where I get to share and pour out the way I feel and I am so grateful for that.

Conditioned to self reject?

Sadly lately I have been seeing where my own hurt and fear has taken me in the past.  I see where and when I started to isolate and to enter into a place of solitude haunted by ghosts of the past.  And then sadly rather than seek comfort with loving people I kept myself alone.  Part of the problem was as a highly sensitive person who was recently sober I found the world a very harsh, hard and cutting place.  I remember being at one Christmas celebration with family members who were judging and shaming a well known public figure who I knew was in recovery for addiction. The person had been gaining a lot of weight after letting his primary addiction go and that was making them a great target for ridicule.  I spoke my mind to the people in question then left the family dinner.  I went back a while later and then burst into floods of tears.

When we are sensitive or have known trauma it makes it much harder for us to be a part of certain things.  We carry a lot of inner knowing or inner pain inside.  Paradoxically we may have a lot to give to an often insensitive or uncaring world, but the mere nature of our sensitivity or trauma makes it hard to give this and even harder to be received.   And so we look for a place of retreat and protection.  What I am seeing lately is that inside my own consciousness a judging part of me has been shaming me for years for the fact I actually am trying to do positive and consciousness growing things.  Instead of supporting me this inner devaluing voice tries to tear thing to shreds.  When I read post of others who self harm in more overt ways I feel so sad, but I can also see myself.  My self harm doesn’t come from cutting though on some days I wage a battle with my own body not fully realising at that time I am being besieged with negative voices.

Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves?  To be loving and accepting of ourselves?  Is it true that we now live in a culture where self rejection and shame so often dominate? I started Brene Brown’s book on vulnerability Daring Greatly yesterday and she makes the point that narcissism comes from the now widespread notion that to be important or of value we have to ‘be a someone’.  Its not okay just to be an ordinary person with foibles, needs or insecurities.   We are meant to ‘get it together’ or ‘have it together’.  To prove something.  This makes sense to me of why people who suffer panic or anxiety are actually those who are more prone to be lacking in self acceptance, self soothing and self love, a point which is covered in the book Power over Panic.

If we love and accept ourselves as we are we don’t end up shaming ourselves.  We also don’t end up shaming others.  We accept that life is full of imperfection.  We may not like it but we accept it.  Coming from this premise when we see others shaming in order to feel one up we would probably let it roll off of our backs.  I think the incident I referred to above triggered me because at that point I was in addiction recovery for about 9 years and so I felt defensive of someone on the same path.  It was good for me to stand up against that shame and to make my voice known though but a part of me also knows that there will always be unconscious, insensitive people in this world who in lacking empathy are more than willing to try to put others down.

Once we are aware that our value in fact does not rest on outward acclaim or acceptance but instead on a solid bedrock of inner acceptance then we are less likely to feel anxious and panicky.  I have noticed lately that often my panic attacks come when an unconscious part of me is forcing me on to do something I feel that ‘I should” rather than what my soul really wants to do.  And so I am self divided.  Panic also comes when I give something far more importance or urgency than it really requires.  Self awareness of these kind of things takes time.  I am seeing for a lot of my life I was conditioned to self reject rather than self accept. I also rejected and failed to accept difficult things that were really none of my business or outside of my control.  The early death of my father and my sister’s illness gave me the illusion I had to be there when really what I needed most to do was take care of myself.

I am beginning to see it is very hard to live a happy life when we are conditioned to self reject the entire time.  In so doing we live outside of ourselves or leave our selves behind in some way all of the time and it gets harder and harder to just find peace in the present moment and in the pure simplicity of being.   Going outside of myself means I forget to breathe.  It means I retreat to my mind and thinking and away from my body.  It means I withdraw from life when I really want to reach out at times and actively engage.   Or it makes me reach out when I really would rather just stay home and read a poem or a good book.

Giving up patterns of self rejection does take awareness.  It may be so hard for us to see how, when and why we are self rejecting.  Learning to seek our value from within instead of without may be a pattern that for some of us is deeply ingrained.  We do need others support at times but this is also usually easier to come by if we are self accepting.  We are then less likely to attract those who reject who we really are or at least set boundaries with them.  We learn that we are worthy of good things and of love.  If that isn’t forthcoming from the world we let go and turn back within to find the love and goodness that we need to feel at peace.

Facing reality

Sometimes we can see no further than our own hurt We have our needs from relationship So often denied We see the refusal to give as a slight to us But what if it is really all about the other person?  A person who does not have the ability to really be there?  Or a person who is suffering from their own wounds If we love them we may question and deny  Maybe they told us there is something wrong with us for responding to them the way they are or for wanting what we did But maybe we are just being human Maybe we have needs they cannot fill That does not make our needs wrong It just means we may have to give up the fruitless search that leads in wrong directions and look elsewhere And then take care Of our own aching heart

These are not easy lessons to learn When you really long for a parent or a person’s love It can be hard to give up and know they cannot be there nor express things in the way you want Try to let go Try to forgive Not in saying it was okay but in saying I accept the reality of who you are instead of my wishful dream Then keep looking It may be easier to deny that anyone could ever care or give but I am finding that when you start to really heal you will find new friends, new loves who get it and get you Those who will stand by you no matter what the cost and really see and hear you

When you find those people keep them close  They are precious jewels in a life that at times can be oh so full of stones And we all need a soft place to land now and then!