Alone in the pain

I just reblogged a post on the impact of the silent treatment in abuse.  I was on the receiving end of the silent treatment a lot in my past relationship.  When something triggered my ex partner’s pain or nastiness or when he felt the need to disempower me or control my valid responses and needs he would just walk out and refuse to speak to me for days.  At the same time I would be slammed with judgement about how wrong, or bad I was, simply for expressing my self and being me.

At the time I met that person I was isolated and alone in a very out of the way place.  I was suffering from the impact of a head injury and a nasty fall.   When this person offered me titbits of attention I became quickly ‘hooked’, I was like a starving animal being fed scraps after a time in solitary confinement, admittedly one I chose myself due to the other abuses that had gone before.

As I look back I don’t know how I didn’t take my own life at that stage.  The only thing that saved me was writing and writing everyday in my journal on the computer and going to weekly Al Anon meetings.  Even there though I was sidelined a lot because I was a ‘dual member’, someone who participated in both AA and Al Anon and those affected by other’s alcoholism did not take well to knowing I was in recovery for addiction myself at times and I was told I needed to stay silent about that too.   I was not in therapy at that times and I was all alone with, (by that time) over 40 years of pain locked up inside me.

I look back now with the benefit of hindsight and many years of researching and reading about narcissistic abuse behind me.  When I read the post shared by Pascale’s Healing Journey and the poem it broke my heart.  It made me realise how important empathy is and how profoundly damaging it is to abuse a child with deed or words and then leave them all alone to stew in their own juices in silence with no comfort or validation or understanding.  If we are very young when this happens our little bodies cannot really cope with all of those powerful feelings of hurt and hatred at unjustified abuse, we literally have nowhere to go with them, so they stay locked or trapped inside and in later life when they are triggered and we have no rational way to articulate or release them in a healthier way, others may judge us as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’.  Welcome to the genesis of so called ‘borderline personality disorder!’

If we later find no way to solve the dilemma we were left with, we get attracted to the same ‘type’,  narcissists tend to be attracted to the highly emotionally charged or intensely sensitive ‘borderline’ like moths to a flame!  But in some strange way such a painful outcome may hold the genesis of our healing too.  For the pain being retriggered  in the present may show us where old wounds and injuries lay.  However, that said, if we can’t find the right help to understand how such things as the silent treatment work to evoke and block access to our deeper feelings and reactions we may struggle for years.  When my ex used to cut me off at those times, I would frantically try to re-engage with him to prove how he was so wrong, but later I was advised that a narcissist would have had to trigger me and then paint me black due to the dynamic.  As one friend who knew us both said to me a few years after my ex and I separated.  “He used you like a bar of soap to wipe his dirty hands on!”

If you are on the receiving end of this kind of abuse, please do all you can to get some help.  No one deserves the silent treatment as punishment.   Being left all alone with unbearable feelings which prevent and stymie our capacity to self soothe is dangerous on so many levels, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  No one deserves this abuse and if you have suffered in this way it is so important you have someone there who can help you to understand, contain, unpack and work through your feelings which are too much to cope with alone.



Staying with myself : feeling my pain


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.

The witness : thoughts on being a Highly Sensitive Person


Sometimes it feels in life as if I am not a participant but a witness.  I stand at the centre of my own life and watch things revolve and evolve around me, waiting, watching and learning and making sense of.

Does this way of being reach back to my childhood where I was the youngest on the outside of events watching everything unfold?   Was it a result of that accident I had at 17 where I was confined to a hospital bed for three months or more and then of a later accident when at another critical point of transition I was stopped from moving forward into life and pulled back deep within?   In any case my life is as it is and I am as I am, these days and  I am not sure I can change it myself nor should want to, perhaps I need to accept who I am.

A few years ago I was introduced to the book The Highly Sensitive Person and in that book Elaine Aron speaks about people like me who are interior in their orientation, those who display high sensitivity and she makes the observation that such people have a precious function in society, because we are sensitive and have known pain we can relate to others who suffer, because we are attuned to nature and beauty and animals and the inner soul live we have a lot to give.

As HSP’s we are empathic and naturally pick up upon pain, sadness or vulnerabilities in others.  We have an antenna attuned to such things and because we have endured them we can offer some form of comfort, nurture and understanding, who  knows, perhaps many of us may actually be (as one of my close friends recently pointed out) ‘old souls’ who came to earth with a sensitive way of being and knowing that is most sorely needed in these times when we stand on the brink of major crisis.

However, as HSP’s in childhood we often were not understood or attuned to by our families, we may be carriers of the family shadow and we may suffer more due to our sensitivity and most especially if we don’t have help with understanding and nurturing our sensitivity, reactions and emotions we may even turn against ourselves in some way and develop a very nasty inner critic.

Its really interesting to me that this is a post I just refound in drafts which was incomplete and just before opening it to edit it I came across a post from Alexis Rose on Untangled about seeing and recognising the suffering in someone’s eyes.   Alexis’s writing and journey show how sensitive and open she is.  What she wrote confirms and began to flesh out this post as I became aware of how being a ‘witness’ could go along with feeling ourselves to be different or on the outside in a modern culture which can at times be deeply insensitive or emotionally violent, disconnecting, invalidating or minimising.

Being able to understand how awakening to the sensitive vulnerability of our inner child and trauma may go hand in hand, helps us to take the onus off the feeling that there is something wrong with us for having acted in the way we did or feeling the feelings we do.  A diagnosis of so called ‘mental illness’ may actually show that we didn’t get help with trauma and had our reactions misunderstood or dismissed.

It feels good when we can connect to other witnesses and sensitive people because we grow in understanding together and this helps the outsider to feel more like the insider we truly are.  As a sensitive persons we may have felt ourselves to be on the outside, we may have found it hard to find others to connect to or relate with others.  If early on we did not learn to accept and love ourselves as we are we may have tried to change,  If we didn’t learn how to understand and accept our at times intense feelings we may have been drawn to addictions.  If we never got to grow a loving inner parent our hurting inquiring child may search desperately outside to find this energy but subsequently feel ashamed for this need which really just needs to be understood and redirected within the self for us to grow, mature and find peace and understanding.


It helps once we find the inner recognition to know that there is a way to grow a loving supportive inner parent who will help us through and won’t shame us inwardly for very real needs that could not find expression, validation or acceptance in the past. We often need a sensitive therapist to help us on this journey.

I am sure there are many sensitive persons out there who went down a different road. On some level they were able to affirm and validate themselves from within.   They did not develop as much toxic shame around sensitivity and then they were able to honour the gift of sensitivity and nurture it and express it in the outer world.

Whatever our unique path though those of us who are emotionally sensitive can learn to honour and value ourselves from within.  We can learn that we may have been more vulnerable to hurt that happened when younger if we were not supported to truly understand and develop ourselves. We CAN find that sort of support now, if we look hard enough and trust.  For in truth our sensitivity is a gift.  The world needs witnesses, those who see to the heart of the matter and have the courage to express what they see, to stay true to who they are and honour and nurture emotions and sensitivity in a world that so sorely needs the insight and rich gifts that sensitivity brings.

Reflections on addiction, abuse, choice, power, sensitivity and the awakening that leads us through the Dark Night of the Soul.

By dealing with the darkness within,

Light can shine more brightly

Leah Whitehorse

Flower Sun.jpg

When we are emotionally free we have the power to choose.  One of the things abuse can steal from us is our belief in ourselves and our belief in our power to make choices.  If our wants, needs or feelings were shamed we may feel unsafe and unsure of connecting to them.  If they were threating to others and we got bullied and there was a threat of loss of love we may get fearful of feeling what we do.  We may associate feeling what we do with being abandoned and if we don’t have that sense of Self strong inside we can make the poor bargain to give over and surrender our power.  We then believe that we are powerless.

This is one of the things I think is problematic when we get into 12 step programmes as active alcoholics if our alcoholism was an attempt to deal with the pain of abuse.  Being told we have no power isn’t really helpful.  We may have no power over the addiction at that time if we are using unconsciously and then an admission of powerlessness does have a good benefit, we can reach for external aid of those who have surrendered negative self will for sobriety.  But there does come a time when we need to find the power within us to affect change and act from a positive sense of will which comes from a healthy loving place.  It takes strength of will to surrender our defences and ways of running or reacting to experience the depth of powerful feelings that addiction may have hidden from us. For example : feeling anger if we have or were violated or abused is part of recognising that our power was stolen in some way.  Acting out our anger with our abuser may not help and lead to more problems but using our anger to set a boundary or defence against such treatment in the future will mean we gain the power of choice over what we allow to affect us for good or ill.

I am a firm believer that the universe of our spirit wants us to be free.  If we feel unfree in some way there was at some time a limit or shackle placed upon us that we need to cast off. We have the right to connect with the truth of our spirit in our emotional life.

I was having a conversation with a very close friend this morning and we were talking about how being emotionally sensitive is not valued in our culture, most especially in Australian culture.   The iconic Australian is ‘cool’, ‘laid back’.  “No worries, mate” is a natural Ocker expression that supposedly expresses how we operate here.

If you aren’t like this growing up you often get shamed or people look on you askance.  Escaping from the toxic mindset of such an emotionally violent culture is not always easy.  You have to find a strong backbone inside to be able to see the bullies use shame and put downs to judge you as weak for feeling emotions and being vulnerable.

There was a very powerful example of this the other week on our Australian version of “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here”  where one of the contestants got extremely emotional when faced with a difficult tucker trial which involved awful ‘tests’ of fortitude such as putting her head inside a nest filled with rats, snakes, cockroaches or other scary critters.   She had a pretty vocal emotional response.  This week when she was eliminated in an interview she said “I was just myself.  I was pretty honest with all of my emotional reactions.  I didn’t put on a mask”.  The interviewer who is a comedian raised her eyes and there was a lot of media attention devoted to what a ‘baby’ she was being.  Kudos to her she hung in there.

Part of me is intrigued by this show.  It is apparently entertainment to watch others go through these kind of harsh trials.  For all I know it may be character building and some of the participants have spoke of how it makes them appreciate all they have in life in such an affluent culture.  You may have your own ideas and take on it.  To me its a bit emotionally violent.  But then I am not really a fan of tough love.  One of my favourite quotes come from Gabor Mate who writes powerfully about the true forces that drive addicts to seek elimination of pain. He has said :

There’s either tough or there’s love. But there’s no tough love. There’s nothing tough about love. Love is actually very soft and open. Tough love is another word for punishment. It’s a euphemism.

Gabor Mate

In many ways we live in a culture that thrives on shame, blame and punishment.  To be vulnerable or sensitive is to be weak and or ill.  To be depressed is a sign of failing or not being well.  But what if the experience of a depression is actually a doorway into the depths of one’s soul an opportunity to examine very deep things that have gone on within one’s life?  What if a so called ‘dark passage’ or ‘dark night of the soul’ is actually a form of spiritual awakening at a critical time on this planet when there is so much to be sad about in terms of the way we can abuse one another and nature?

Indian mystics have a belief that for a few thousand years humanity has been caught up in what they called The Kali Yuga.  Translated this is an age in which forces of darkness and destruction have taken hold within human consciousness.  Abuse of women and the feminine is part of it.   Development of the idea of God separate from nature is part of it.  Assertion of mankind’s will to power over natural forces and finding ways to cheat death is part of it. Addiction as a falling out of relationship with a sensitive, emotionally awake aware, body, mind and spirit that is connected to love and power and strength of good healthy spiritual energy and vitality is part of it.

During the Kali Yuga lost souls have the power of awakening to what is going down. Therefore to be sensitive at this time is to be in touch, it is to feel the suffering that occurs when we abuse life, animals, nature and others.  Awakening involves releasing the suffering of abuse that we may have gone through.  A part of this depression or the so called ‘dark night of the soul’ is a massive call to awakening.   I see much evidence of it everywhere and most especially on WordPress.

So many of us are waking up and knowing that the future of our world depends upon our capacity to make healthy choices.  Choices where we are connected emotionally and spiritually as cells within the body of earth and can choose for that which unites us rather than separates us from light and love, power and strength, and the vulnerability and humility of knowing our true limits and dependence on nature.  Sensitivity allows us to attune, rather than just barrel through and involves a willingness to surrender to something we may not have chosen but has the power to transform us at the very deepest level.



When you touch me

This post is inspired by a fellow bloggers post which moved me so deeply this morning.

I remember the first time my first therapist reached a warm hand across from her chair to hold my hand when I was in deep distress.  An ocean of tears burst forth and it was terribly frightening, longed for but frightening.  One of my favourite songs, Touch is by Seal and it brings me to tears every single time.  It reminds me of how much it means and gives to us to be touched with love.  Especially if we never were in childhood or had abusive touch in terms of sexual abuse or beatings or even just slaps with the wooden spoon or a hairbrush(Mum once hit me with a flying hairbrush and then slapped me hard on my bare leg with the bristles of a brush), added to all the other injuries such as burns and cuts it made me associate touch with hurt as I am sure so many of us do.

Being touched in this way, being treated with love, respect, empathy and kindness opens up a deep, deep wound in so many of us who were abandoned or hurt in early relationships.  Our fear is awakened and then we can start to blame ourselves for feeling this vulnerable, but we should not.  We should wrap both loving arms around ourselves metaphorically and just let the part of us that holds all these feelings of tenderness, longing, fear, pain and vulnerability express until the river we dammed up inside of us for so long is no longer such a raging torrent of hurt and pain but runs clear and clean and open and free in the way life and love designed it to.

The impact of the post traumatic stress of abandonment

As with other types of past trauma, the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder of abandonment range from mild to severe.  PTSD of abandonment is a psychobiological condition in which earlier separation traumas interfere with current life.  An earmark of this interference is intrusive anxiety which often manifests as a pervasive feeling of insecurity – a primary source of self sabotage in our primary relationships and in achieving long range goals.  Another earmark is a tendency to compulsively re-enact our abandonment scenarios through repetitive patterns, i.e., abandoholism – being attracted to the unavailable.

Another factor of abandonment post trauma is for victims to be plagued with diminished self esteem and heightened vulnerability within social contexts (including the workplace) which intensifies their need to buttress their flagging ego strength with defence mechanisms which can be automatically discharged and whose intention is to protect the narcissistically injured self from further rejection, criticism, or abandonment.  These habituated defences are often maladaptive to their purpose in that they can create emotional tension and jeopardize our emotional connections.

Victims of abandonment trauma can have emotional flashbacks that flood us with feelings ranging from mild anxiety to intense panic in response to triggers that we may or may not be conscious of.  Once our abandonment fear is triggered, it can lead to what Daniel Goleman calls emotional hijacking.  During an emotional hijacking, the emotional brain has taken over, leaving its victims feeling a complete loss of control over their own lives, at least momentarily.  If emotional hijacking occurs frequently enough, its chronic emotional excesses can lead to self-depreciation and isolation within relationships, as well as give rise to secondary conditions such as chronic depression, anxiety, obsessive thinking, negative narcissism, and addiction.

Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a so called “disease” of the amygdala – the emotional centre of the brain responsible for initiating the Fight Flee Freeze response.  In PTSD, the amygdala is set on overdrive to keep us in a perpetual state of hyper-vigilance — action-ready to declare a state of emergency should it perceive any threat even vaguely reminiscent of the original trauma. The amygdala, acting as the brain’s warning system, is constantly working to protect (overprotect) us from any possibility of further injury.  In the post trauma sequelae related specifically to abandonment, the amygdala scans the environment for potential threats to our attachments or to our sense of self worth.

People with PTSD of abandonment can have heightened emotional responses to abandonment triggers that are often considered insignificant by others. For instance, depending on circumstances, when we feel slighted, criticized, or excluded, it can instigate an emotional hijacking and interfere in, and even jeopardize your personal or professional life.

36 Characteristics of post traumatic stress disorder of abandonment

This list is meant to be descriptive, rather than exhaustive of the many issues related to the abandonment syndrome.  

  1. An intense fear of abandonment that interferes in forming primary relationships in adulthood.
  2. Intrusive insecurity that interferes in your social life and goal achievement.
  3. Anxiety with authority figures.
  4. Tendency toward self defeating behavior patterns that sabotage your love life, goals, or career.
  5. A tendency to repeatedly subject yourself to people or experiences that lead to another loss, another rejection, and another trauma.
  6. Intrusive reawakening of old losses; echoes of old feelings of vulnerability and fear which interfere in current experience.
  7. Heightened memories of traumatic separations and other events.
  8. Conversely, partial or complete memory blocks of childhood traumas.
  9. Low self-esteem, low sense of entitlement, performance anxiety.
  10. Feelings of emotional detachment, i.e. feeling numb to past losses.
  11. Conversely, difficulty letting go of the painful feelings of old rejections and losses.
  12. Difficulty letting go, even when we know the relationship cannot meet our basic needs.
  13. Episodes of self-neglectful or self destructive behaviour.
  14. Difficulty withstanding (and overreacting to) the customary emotional ups and downs of your adult relationships.
  15. Difficulty working through the ordinary levels of conflict and disappointment within your adult relationships.
  16. Extreme sensitivity to perceived rejections, exclusions or criticism
  17. Emotional pendulum swing between fear of engulfment and fear of abandonment; you can alternate between ‘feeling the walls close in’ if someone gets too close and feeling insecure, love starved – on a precipice of abandonment – if you are not sure of the person’s love.
  18. Difficulty feeling the affection and other physical comforts offered by a willing partner – “keeping them out” or “pushing them away; evidence of emotional anorexia or emotional bulimia.
  19. Tendency to ‘get turned off’ and ‘lose the connection’ by involuntarily shutting down romantically and/or sexually on a willing partner.
  20. Conversely, tendency to feel hopelessly hooked on a partner who is emotionally distancing.
  21. Tendency to have emotional hangovers ‘the morning after’ you have had contact with an ex or someone over whom you have felt pain.
  22. Difficulty naming your feelings or sorting through an emotional fog
  23. Abandophobism – a tendency to avoid close relationships altogether to avoid risk of abandonment.
  24. Conversely, a tendency to rush into relationships and clamp on too quickly.
  25. Difficulty letting go because you have attached with emotional epoxy, even when you know your partner is no longer able to fulfill your needs, or even when you know your partner is not good for you.
  26. An excessive need for control, whether it’s about the need to control the other’s behavior and thoughts, or about being excessively self-controlled; a need to have everything perfect and done your way.
  27. Conversely, a tendency to create chaos by avoiding responsibility, procrastinating, giving up control to others, and feeling out of control.
  28. A heightened sense of responsibility to others, rescuing, attending to people’s needs, even when they have not voiced them.
  29. Tendency to have unrealistic expectations and heightened reactivity toward others such that it creates conflict and burns bridges to your social connections
  30. People-pleasing – excessive need for acceptance or approval.
  31. Self-judgment; unrealistic expectations toward yourself.
  32. Fear response to people’s anger, which unwittingly sets you up to being “controlled” by them.
  33. Co-dependency issues in which you give too much of yourself to others and feel you don’t get enough back.
  34. Tendency to act impulsively without being able to put the brakes on, even when you are aware of the negative consequences.
  35. Tendency toward unpredictable outbursts of anger.
  36. Conversely, tendency to under-react to anger out of fear of breaking the connection and also out of your extreme aversion to ‘not being liked’.

The impact of abandonment trauma can be mitigated by abandonment recovery – a program of therapy techniques designed to help you overcome abandonment and its aftermath of self sabotaging patterns.

Source :

And after the flood : a clearing opens up


I only slept four hours last night. I know that I had two huge days over the weekend.  I was feeling the depths of so many things and connecting the dots on so many more.   I had contact with an old friend with whom I had had a very traumatic experience just over 5 years ago.  I was hesitant to mention any of it in my blog, my friend knows I write a blog but guards her privacy.  In the heat of our difficulties she was upset with me that I had posted a comment on an astrology site about what happened between us back in 2010.  I was only trying to find some clarity in what was a deeply confusing situation in which so much was undifferentiated for me.  We had made a visit to a monastery in the country which she loved but I felt to be steeped in pain. From the moment we arrived there I could not stop crying and I was not the first person to respond in this way.  I know now, knowing the history of what took place there that my feelings had a reason based back in time and also as a resonance for our own emotional abandonment issues.  My friend responded to me in the way my mother would. With a sharp look and the words ‘what’s wrong’.   I saw red.  I left the room and I went into the chapel and screamed.  I did not have the words to express my frustration and anguish in any other way at the time.  I see my part.  But after we got back home my friend said some really nasty things to me and accused me of being off the recovery programme.  It really hurt, I sought clarity with a very talented therapist at the time in order to try and make sense of what was happening.

I think all of this came to a head on Saturday as we had contact.  My friend kindly made a very sincere apology to me and told me she thought she had been cruel to me.  I had brushed it off which is something I should not do. When things hurt me and are wrong even if its just emotional ignorance on the part of someone else I really do need to say how it hurt.  Apparently this is one of the major lessons for someone with a Leo North Node and South Node in Aquarius.  I also know with all the air in my chart square to deep feeling watery Neptune in Scorpio my intellect often runs all over my feelings.  I intellectualise instead of feeling.  Its not that I don’t feel but my capacity to articulate what I feel has in the past been very poor due to the fact my true feelings were not mirrored or contained in childhood, most especially neediness, self assertion, frustration and anger.  My response is my issue and I cannot really blame my friend for just triggering something deep for me.  At the same time as an empathic person who is also very sensitive to energies and environments I know I do pick up on things and those things may mirror some issues for me.  At the time I lacked certain awareness and emotional skills which   I would have now.  And there was a failure on her part to empathise.

In my home growing up my Mum expressed all the anger and frustration, while my father either ignored it or laughed it off, this included injuries and pain which we were told we were not feeling or had not happened.  It was a crazy making, emotionally confusing and invalidated environment that gave me absolutely no help in dealing with and understanding my feelings.  On the top of emotional neglect, being left alone a lot and other losses it contributed to me burying all my pain and need and feeling in addiction for 14 years.  Even in recovery lately I have recognised that I use milky food and sweets to swallow down my feelings and as a substitute for the emotional nurturing and nourishment I hunger for.

Last night I dreamed I was giving birth to a baby, but I did not have a name for her (she was a girl) and I did not feel I had the capacity to care for her.  This reflects that even now I don’t always know how to protect, care for and nourish the young self in me that is being born within and trying to mature and it speaks to the central issue that I had with my friend, neither of us had words for feelings and this was expressed in the conversation on Saturday.

I also recognised this morning when I woke after only four hours sleep that much of the feeling that poured out of me with Mum yesterday was about my emotional neglect, as well as that me carrying feelings of sadness around this time of year that have gone underground in our family and never been spoken about or shared.   I become the syphon or the sponge that soaks up all the feeling and then expresses it but in a very intense way that others cannot understand.  But I am slowly finding ways to articulate my feelings with loved ones.  It is the work of ongoing emotional sobriety.  I carry a lot of damage with in me that exists as tender, raw wounds.  I need to recognise these and apply my own salve, I can recognise when salt is being poured on my wounds now and take steps to step away, but lately, luckily that is happening less and less as I recover deep and complex emotions.

With the split in me between heart and head often my feelings just become bodily pain.  I was in extreme agony bodily all weekend.  It only abated yesterday after contacting my therapist and expressing real pain over not being able to have an extra session which I felt I needed today, her diary was too full.  I expressed the pain as knives all through me and she responded with a call which soothed me right away.  I know I was angry with her but she is so consistent with me and loving that anger could not last.  For today I could not get what I needed from her but I will survive and be able to carry it over to another day.

Today by a weird act of weather synchronicity I awoke to a deck made soft and shiny by rain.  We have been having 30 C degree days here over the weekend and the rain was a welcome relief.  I could not help but feel that on some level the weather was mirroring what occurred for me yesterday during and after the inner flood of grief.  Today the sun is out again metaphorically, or at least I am bathed in a soft light as awareness has come through the bearing with the pain of the dark days over the weekend and in reality as I type this at 7 am there is a soft grey sky outside my window.

I feel the approach of Christmas stealing in with its ghosts, shadows, pains, memories and echoes but I also feel a real sense of hope.  I have a sense in my family that some kind of communication is going to open up.  It may not come to pass but for me I will be in a far better position this year to have insight into my feelings and better placed to take care of myself in the midst of them.  I need to learn how to care properly for the child in me that is being born.   I need to be the loving disciplined adult that child needs to grow.  Sadly its only happening for me at age 54 but hopefully there are still years left, years in which to love, to learn, to reach out, to grow, years in which insight and growing emotional awareness and capacity to express and contain my feelings can evolve and lead me onto the next stage in my journey.  I want to grow and mature more deeply so I can be a real force for love and healing in my world and make the years that are left productive, healthy happy ones that allow a place for all emotions but in a balanced healthy way which has the power to connect and deepen intimacy between me and others rather than sever precious relationships.

The mixed up conundrum of feeling


I feel like I am drowning today.   When I decide to relax and take a bath it never ends well.  I feel like I am going to drown when I put my head under water and then the current pulls on me and it feels as though I will be taken under.  In the accident I had at 17 my lungs filled with phlegm, I was smashed up badly, thrown forward onto the wheel with my teeth cutting my tongue in half and schrapnel lodged all through my legs, my lung was punctured and fluid seeped in.  Paramedics had to enter the car from behind to put a mask over my face to breathe.  It was a day until they could operate on my lacerated legs.  I spent that 24 hours and more in intensive care.

Its a powerful metaphor for me about how I can get drowned in the feelings, emotions and concerns of others and how I can neglect my own in over care for them and them lose my sense of solid land and my inner centre.  I am aware that their pain and my pain is not really separate though at the same time.  I remember a friend on a retreat with my saying to me once, “Deborah you have a Sufi mystic heart, you feel the pain of the world”.

Part of me baulks at this.  I don’t want to be some kind of masochistic person drowning in the worlds woes, but at the same time I need to be true to myself and my capacity to feel.  At times it is a blessing at other times it can feel like a curse, one I am very aware of today.

And reading this back I am also aware that as a very airy intellectual person at times my feelings are mystery to me and they rise up in all kinds of strange ways.  Maybe when I am in the bath its almost as if I fear I will drown in a sea of feeling that is a metaphor for all the loss and sadness I have known that has dogged me and robbed my present happiness and ability to move forward on some days.

I just had a conversation with my Mum in which I got told not to take on other people’s problems and issues, which is fair enough but the issue was a flashback/age regression/mirror one for me.  Yesterday I met with my cousin and she was sharing the difficulties she is having with her son who does not want to go to school or complete exams.  I feel he may be being bullied, he is a very sensitive, caring boy.  But that wasn’t the issue.  He wants a dog and can’t have one as his sister who is older is allergic to dogs.

This not being able to have a dog issue is one I went through after my older sister left home and I was lonely with just Mum and Dad.  First I asked to be sen to boarding school, second I wanted a dog.  I was told I would not be able to care for a  dog.  I was sharing about this yesterday with a friend in recovery and he seemed to think it was a very cruel thing to be told.  At the same time I know having a dog is a lot of work, I now have one and raised him from a puppy, together we have weathered the toilet training storms and other issues and now we have many golden moments.  This morning I was feeling for my cousin’s son and crying about it actually.  When I told my Mum she said I needed to not get tangled up with their issues and brush it off.

While I get where she is coming from it also feels invalidating to me when I reflect back.  Its just one of the many times lately she has told me not to be a certain way with sadness or have a certain feelings.  I just said to her “Mum I know you mean well but when you tell me to get over it or whatever, it hurts, I feel like you don’t hear what I am feeling”.  It wasn’t an unpleasant conversation, she heard me and got where I was coming from (just) and I got where she is coming from but it still left me with many questions and feeling like I am a bit of a sop to be so over concerned with others issues and feeling a little sad.

Its probably true, I probably do take certain things on board but on another level I know that my pain is not just my pain.  Every single pain we go through in life on some level reflects someone else’s pain somewhere else in the world.  We all suffer, we all lose things we love, we all feel sadness and pain at times.

I know that what happened all those years ago is now in my past.  It did affect me and I have needed to know how and why.  My parents weren’t really tuned into me emotionally at all and because of this I will still feel for a young boy who can’t have what he needs emotionally due to the influence of others because its a mirror for me of something painful I went through.  That makes me human, compassionate and sensitive.  In failing to acknowledge that my Mum isnt really showing empathy and then she can say how difficult children are and how difficult it is for parents.  Yes, I want to say. Don’t fuck with a child by bringing it into the world if you don’t want to care about its feelings or needs.

Is it me that needs to change?  Maybe its not something I need to take on long term but I still have feelings about it.  That makes me human.


The precarious life of the emotional invalidee!

This title came to mind this morning as I was going about my life thinking about insights I had since learning yesterday of the concept of the sensitive emotionally invalidated person…… My therapist was explaining how precarious and difficult is the life of those who carry deep sensitivity in this life and meet with invalidation at every turn.. Seeing and feeling deeper than others can see and feel, they feel alone.  Sharing insights and feelings only to be told they are wrong, bad, confused or mixed up for feeling that way fucks with their heads, with their sense of self value and with the belief that they have viable inner stand point.

This precarious state of affairs was reflected in a dream image from last night.  When my disabled sister was alive and I was meeting her to take her to a movie or out to lunch, a maxi cab had to be called to collect her in her wheelchair,  since she was wheelchair bound for the later part of her life.  Last night I dreamed that she arrived in the maxi cab but as the wheelchair came out of the cab she had lost both her legs, they had literally been amputated from the waist down.  Thinking about this image today the phrase “I don’t have a leg to stand on”, came to me and the association to what my therapist and I had been discussing towards the end of our session yesterday.

My therapist often talks about the need and process of me finding my ‘sea legs’ a way of being able to hold onto a calm strong sense of an inner centre when powerful emotions come and I find myself met with invalidating voices within and without.

Part of what I experience on a bodily level together with my psychological issues  of self doubt due to emotional invalidation has been the feeling that I am being spun around in some way.  In one of my two major accident traumas I was literally flung head first over my bike doing a somersault and landing with my head cracked open by an iron foundry on the Mill Road in Cambridge while there in 2005.  Since this time that I have experienced the spins.  They come along around the time the accident occurred most evenings or just after I eat dinner.  At the time they occur it as though my body is flooded with phlegm, I am spun and drowning.  It is hard to breathe.  Come to think of it this reflects how I feel when I hit the stumbling block of others invalidation, dismissal and gas lighting.

Meeting a lack of validation and understanding does literally leave us without a leg to stand on and spins us off centre.  We are cut off from the waist and from a grounded, deeply rooted understanding of our essential being and self which requires we embrace the truth and value of our feelings empathy or sensitivity and anguish, anger and pain over meeting invalidation.

As emotional sensitives we may have been subject to many projections from others who may even have been threatened by our true selves, they may have a hidden agenda for treating us as they do.  They may have felt threatened or they may have had no reference point for dealing with us.

If we could not be truly heard, affirmed, supported, nourished, empathised with, mirrored and if instead we were shamed or actively discouraged from expressing what we long for and need to express we may have lost contact with the essential nature of who we really are.  We may feel cast out, wandering in what seems like an alien universe for many years.  Some of us may never even find the way back home and we may choose to depart.

Life becomes precarious, confusing, challenging and disorienting until we can in some way find the way back home to the depth of heart and being that felt and was in contact with a whole universe, too large for others to understand or recognise.

After constantly hearing that I shouldn’t be feeling what I was feeling and that my observations couldn’t be trusted, I began to label myself hysterical, dramatic, and other words used to make people…… discount their emotions.

For those who are not aware of the term, gaslighting is a subtle form of abusive communication used by others to invalidate or disregard an emotional truth we are trying to express or address.

By an act of synchronicity while writing this article and being on Facebook I came across a link to an article online on gaslighting that included the following quotes:

A common result of gaslighting is questioning everything. You may feel like you’re going “crazy.” Like you don’t know what’s real and what’s imagined. Like you can’t even make the simplest choices, because you find it impossible to know what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”

You may feel like you’ve lost your sense of self – like you need someone else to confirm that your perception is correct before you trust that anything you believe is true.

This is exactly how gaslighting erodes your trust in yourself. When you’re constantly hearing that you’re doing something wrong, it’s only natural to begin to question whether you can do anything right.

Getting angry or sad or fearful in response to mistreatment or injustice (both of which gaslighting are) makes perfect sense. You have every right to express your emotions in a healthy way.

And allowing yourself to feel what you really feel – instead of burying your emotions under shame – can be profoundly healing. You can be honest with yourself about what you’ve been through, how it affects you, and what you need.

Reframing your thinking to see your vulnerability as strength, rather than weakness, can help you escape the cycle of self-blame and move through a cycle of healing.

Instead of believing your vulnerabilities put you in a position to be abused, think of it this way: Someone took advantage of your positive qualities, which is not your fault. But those same qualities helped you get through it to be the powerful survivor you are today.

Regaining our ground from invalidation abuse takes time, healing and a lot of insight.  There are resources out there.   We can learn to heal, grow strong, accept the gift of vulnerability and see how it actually is a great strength, contrary to what many others would have us believe.

For help in understanding emotional invalidation the following web article may be also be useful :

The Sensitive Invalidated Person

I have just returned from this afternoon’s session with my therapist and she shared a very interesting insight with me about her understanding of so called ‘borderline personality disorder’.  Apparently there is a therapist in my home town who brought the work of Marsha Linehan, Dialectic Behaviour Therapy to Canberra and her insight (and it is by no means new or hers alone) is that people with a so called ‘borderline’ psychology are actually incredibly sensitive people who are not understood, nor their sensitivity, depth of feeling and insight acknowledged.  As a result they meet invalidation in an insensitive world all of the time, which breeds lots of inner frustration, disappointment and anger.

Their reactions to this are then misunderstood or invalidated further leading to an increase rather than decrease in their feelings of being alone and frustrated, cast to the side, misunderstood and shunned.  To ease our pain over this is it any wonder we start to look for places to self sooth or may even indulge in self harm or feel suicidal.

The insight that I also shared with my therapist which has been coming to me later is that in order to connect with people who don’t and never could ‘get’ or understand us we turn against ourselves. We indulge in self judgement which can be very harsh.  We blame ourselves for not being different or ‘better’.  We have a hard time valuing who we are and experiencing a feeling of self worth until we can understand our dilemma.  We may reverse bond with others in an attempt to win love which makes us even angrier and sadder on the inside.

This kind of dilemma we are set up for is not easy to break out of.  It involves seeing the ways in which others have failed us and recognising the pain of that but also coming to an acceptance of the lack of depth of sensitivity in others who never need to react to things in the way which we do, as well as a turning towards more validating sources and learning how to self validate and self soothe our pain, sensitivity and distress.

The name that this particular therapist gives to such people is sensitive, invalidated persons. This takes the onus of disease and illness off of us.  It ends the pathologising of who we are as unique individuals.  It speaks about what happens to us and how we and others respond which brings us back to a place of power, validation and recognition.  It helps ease the pain of the feelings we have that we don’t truly make sense or belong anywhere.