Sadness for the lost child

Child 5.jpg

I think it is a real sign of growth when we can weep for the child in us who never got to fully live, who often had to be buried or hidden deep inside or who was forced to don a disguise of coats of shame or soot and ashes to survive the invalidating, unfacilitating environment of childhood.  Images of this soot covered slave or servant child appear in the book Leaving My Father’s House by therapist Marion Woodman.  In it, along side stories from several of her client’s lives and psychological recovery stories, she shares a psychological interpretation of the fairy tale of Allerleirauh a young girl who running in flight from her family becomes a servant girl to the King, cooking in his kitchen a number of different soups.

In time in the course of this fairytale she attracts the King’s attention and dons three different dresses, the final one being made of Stars.  This is an allusion to how in the course of our psychological work to recover the child covered in soot and ashes we also reclaim and begin to fully live and express our inner radiance and being, that sense of true self that just could not live in our family of origin, was buried, covered in neglect or shame or nearly destroyed over time by internalised, killing voices.

I know that when I feel and shed tears for the years of living covered in soot and ash I have expereince ever since I was a young adolsecence at times I have felt like I could not possibly cry to the depths of it.  However, over time, the undeniable emotional truth becomes very apparent and real – all that we lost, all the ways in which we suffered and were dismisse, all the anger we felt but were not allowed to express.  With the tears shed in grieving we are, in some way, washing away the soot and emerging clearer and cleaner.   We cannot make up for those lost years, ever. But we can emerge into our true radiance if we just trust that we have depths of goldenness and star stuff inside just longing to burst forth, to ‘be’, to express in this life.

When we can fully feel it all through, and that includes our terror, rage, sadness, shame and anger, we will feel buried inside all of those feelings the truth of our spirit which longed over all those years for our recognition, realisation and championing.  We must feel all of these feelings most fully in a body that may have been neglected or filled with shame, for are these not also feelings which will lead us to realise the inner love that our body and soul longs for: a feeling of the fully conscious feminine deep inside of us both man and woman, girl and boy.   The suffering we buried in our body is felt and released as we nurture the spirit, soul child we know ourselves to be most fully from within.

Conscious femininity is living the redeemed body of Eve, regardless of the gender of the human being.  This body is conscious of itself as an intelligent instrument, a living system that actively participates in the divine unfoldment of planetary life.  While finding the harmony of its own natural laws of being, it is at the same time finding the harmony with all forms of life on Earth… Conscious flesh knows that its function (when fully awakened) is the consciousness of this Earth.

We are not separate from the Earth and our inner child knows this, as does our vital lived spirit.  We must do all we can to fully express this truest part of our being.

(Quote taken from : Redeeming Eve’s Body by Mary Hamilton : in Leaving My Father’s House : A Journey Toward Conscious Femininity, by Marion Woodman)

Understanding self absorbed behaviors

Lack of clear perception into our selves often comes from our early environment and deficits in mirroring.  If we consider generational and collective impacts too many of our parents and their parents and parents parents were engaged in a process of survival.  Attention was tied up with outer, rather than inner concerns and losses may have made one parent less emotionally available to them, leaving psychic and emotional deficits and burdens.  The research and work I have quoted from in previous posts from Mark Wolynn on multi generational trauma(It Didn’t Start With You)  addresses these issues in some way and shows how people tend to disconnect from parents in this situation, feeling hurt, betrayed abandoned or let down, often rightly so.  However there may be so much more to their story we never get to know.

Once we become more aware that our emotionally unavailable parents laboured under very real deficits, deficits that they passed down to us we can begin to take steps to address what we carry and hopefully become more aware of when and how we may have become self absorbed ourselves.

According to Nina Brown, author of Children of the Self Absorbed, the first step to reduce self absorbed behaviors is to accept that we may have absorbed some of them from our parents.  She outlines ten key behaviors associated with self absorption we may need to address or work upon as follows :

  • An attitude of entitlement.   Feeling that you deserve preferential treatment. That you can do or say whatever you like to others and that they shoud not be upset.  The idea you deserve special consideration or treatment.  Insensitivity to others.
  • Attention seeking.  Behaviors such as talking loudly when it will disturb others.  Dressing just for attention.  Trying to distract or upstage others.  Starting fights.  Interrupting ongoing conversations.  Dropping hints and teasers.  (All with the intent to gain outside validation that you are significant, important, different to or better than others, or to reassure yourself that you are worthwhile, or to ease chronic self doubt.)
  • Admiration seeking.   Yearning for reassurance you are valued through different means including the attainment of material or ‘status’ symbols.
  • Grandiosity.  Taking over in situations where it is not called for.  Feeling you are inherently superior to others.  Arrogance.  Displaying contempt. Failure to value the opinions of others.  Acting big as a defence against feeling small or shameful inside.
  • An impoverished self.  This is the self that feels deprived, ignored, abandoned or unnurtured or treated unfairly.  And this is all a matter of perception for as Brown points out me may not have a lot of support but still feel we are supported by the Universe.   Focusing on weaknesses or what you do not have instead of what you do.  Lack of ability to take constructive action to fix or address what you can.
  • Lack of Empathy.  Restricted or limited ability to sense what another person is experiencing inwardly in a specific situation without becoming enmeshed in their feeling or experience or reactions or overwhelmed by them.  Being able to hear and sense what lies behind words and actions… the real message behind the words.  (Brown notes we cannot be empathic with everyone all of the time and at times being too open to negative or toxic feelings can be inappropriate.  Brown says “Many adults who were not subject to a parent with a Destructive Narcissistic Pattern.. are able to be empahic with many people some of the time. “)
  • Seeing Others As Extensions of Self.  According to Brown “the self absorbed person is only dimly aware of other people in the world as separate and distinct from her (or him), and at the unconscious level thinks others exist to serve her (or him).  The self absorbed person sees everything in terms of self, as if they were the only real person in the world.”  This leads to : lack of respect for other’s possessions and boundaries, making decisons that affect others without consultation, making choices and decisions for others who are able to decide for themselves, touching things that belong to others without permission.  Asking overly personal questions.
  • Needing to be  percieved as unique and special by others. Everyone needs to know they are unique, special and worthy but when self absorbed this is taken to an extreme, or acted upon in a demanding way.  This relates to having an extra high opinion of oneself that is not based in fact.  It can lead to a lack of respect for others needs and rights.  It can result in criticism of others faults and flaws.  Making comparisons that put them up and the other person down.  Blaming others for getting in the way.  Needing to be complimented or praised first.
  • Exploitation of Others  This involves using other to gain benefit, coupled with the conviction that others are not as worthy.  Taking advantage of another person’s kind, generous or caring nature, desire to please or need for approval just to serve the self.  Expecting favours without reciprocation.  Lying, cheating, misleading.  Using “if you loved me or cared about me” to manipulate others
  • Shallow Emotions.  Adults with healthy narcissism can experience and express a wide and deep variety of emotions.  In contrast, self absorbed adults are extremely limited in experiencing and expressing their feelings.  Experiencing for them seems to be mainly limited to fear and anger and while they have the words when expressing other feelings, they don’t have the accompanying emotions.  These people are not genuine in their expression of feelings, except for the variations of fear and anger.   To get an idea of your range and level for experiencing emotions Nina recommends an exercise in which you make a list of each hour in the day and beside each time portion list all the feelings you remember experiencing.  Beside the list of feelings list the names of people you expressed the feelings to.  Review how open you were in either expressing or not expressing them.  Did you have much variablity in what you felt?  Did you primarily express negative feelings?  Did you have an expansive or limited vocabulary for your emotions?
  • Emptiness at the Core of Self.  Arises when children become isolated and lack meaningful connection to others.   When we are not received as kids we don’t develop a strong connection to and faith in the Universe.   The capacity for experiencing and understanding our feelings may be severely limited as a result. If we were not shown compassion we cannot feel it for ourselves.  If we are focused on our emptiness and hurt we are robbed of seeing the beauty and wonder around us.  We feel separate and disconnected and so emptiness grows.   Experiencing ‘holes’ and then reaching to substances or unfulfilling activities to feel ‘full’.

Bear in mind when reading this list that there is a difference between being self absorbed and self reflective.  It’s only natural that when we didnt get want we needed we would dig in and come to mistrust or not understand where others are coming from.  I have written another post to follow this one soon on the distinction between self absorption and self reflection.  People with destructive or malignant narcissism cannot self reflect or introspect, they tend to attack or blame often out of the narrow range of feeling, Brown speaks about in her book.  We are, in healing and becoming more self aware learning to strike a balance, its painstaking work.

 

A place within the pain to find a place outside the pain.

I awoke a little while ago to a golden morning.   I had such a fitful night last night.  I never take any medication but last night I took a Panadol hoping it would allow me to rest.  My body has been all over the place since the anniversary of my accident trauma.  I was also not fully aware of how much my nephew’s visit triggered and the aftermath of feeling.  I was up and down last night and had all the spasms and shock releases in my body which feels like it is trying to unwind.  I wind myself up in my mind with worry over my dog and my mother.  Despite the fact my relationship with my Mum is complex now she is aging so much and in pain I am full of care, this conflicts with feelings of frustration I have in longing for freedom from worry, care and trauma and anger I feel over past hurts.  But the truth is way more complex than I can fully express in any blog.  There are times I know she wanted to support me but since she struggles to accept her own emotions and responses (or does so under the cover of silence and protection like a lot of Scorpios) she hasn’t been able to validate me in the ways I wished, nor fully acknowledge her part.

I was watching the movie Thanks for Sharing for the second time on the weekend and I got triggered in the scene where the son of the older man in recovery confronts his Dad with hurt he caused him and his failure to apologise.  The father who was a big guy in recovery circles as well as full of AA platitudes and pearls of wisdom was being hypocrite pure and simple and refusing to face it.  I saw my self and how alone and emotionally devastated not getting the necessary apology leaves us.  It fucks with our heads as we question the truth and fear losing the parent’s love by confronting their defences with their shadow.

I have pretty much come to the point where I know now Mum wont own her own part in ways she abandoned me emotionally.  To do so she would have had to face her own history and lately she has shared that she was also emotionally abandoned, but the sorry for what she unconsciously did is never coming.  Sharing about it with my therapist the other day she said that she feels to my Mum I am the child inside her she had to cover over long ago and whose pain it hurts to face, sadly.  It takes so much courage and vulnerability to truly own where we fail, often due to unconsciousness.  Not getting that acknowledgement from any member of my family has been painful and difficult.  But at least now I know where NOT to look for it.

In a way I am glad I had no contact with my brother on his birthday.  His daughter shared with me a while back how shut down both her parents are.  She doesn’t blame them for her emotional abandonment and it is ongoing.   I think its a big step to really feel our anger over this, as it can be prohibited.  To stay trapped in anger though in time means a failure to accept and grieve a harsh reality that must be faced and grieved.  I feel in time I will be able to have an honest conversation about how I feel about how he is in terms of being as emotionally distant as my own father was.  He never got the help to face his softer needy side and his wife is furiously defended against her own in so many way too, but the truth is I don’t know her well.  She has always kept up a cold hard distance with the female side of my family, especially after my oldest sister’s breakdown and told her children to do the same.  That is another grief.  I know she has reasons to be angry at my Mum and they are valid.  Mum admits she was in the wrong but doesn’t really have empathy for my sister in law who lost her own mother when she was on the brink of adolescence.

Facing our grief and pain is huge work, I now see.  I feel we skirt around it for so long and as I write this that poem of Emily Dickinson comes to mind : there is a pain so utter it swallows substance up and covers the abyss with trance so we step above or around it (those are not the verbatim words but it goes something like that.)  The reason I think so many of us who carry abandonment trauma suffer and are sidelined by others is that they either have no idea of the devastation it causes or are so deeply invested in denying or covering over their own grief and pain that they can feel scared and threatened when we do and so do things to shut us down or shame us.  Then we can be labelled as ‘ill’ and medicated to shut the fuck up.  (Writing that last sentence I am also aware medications in many cases are used to soften the blow while inner work is prepared for but in many cases they are used to hide from it in the absence of inner reparative psychodynamic work and there is anger for my sisters in that sentence which I own fully!).

As I look back I see this ocean of deep grief and pain began to open up for me in 1999 when my ex husband and I were in the UK.  Facing the enormity of it scared me so I ran home to Australia and then hid out.  My husband and mother were trying to get me some help but I was resisting them a fair bit.  I ran back to the UK and then back to Oz and then back again when I was struggling to find a way to trust and move forward.  So in many ways the anger I have at my family not fully understanding is also anger of my inner child at the adult who would not take the right steps to care for her before. My grief and fear was so huge they were terrifying to face.   And so much went into the fire.

It was only the ending of the next relationship which freed me for the inner work and then my older sister died and that was so hard.  We got to reconnect for a short while with her sons and that opened up feeling but also more fear.  It has taken until this late Mercury retrograde transit to see how strong the Uranus rebellion streak has been in me and how deep the Plutonian deluge of ancestral pain that we carry as a family really is.  In many ways I am the shadow bearer for a lot of repressed energy so its no wonder I have struggled so much and been sidelined so many times by others who are ignorant, misunderstanding or misjudging.  And then I judged myself not seeing how big the task was or how well I was trying, until I found this last therapist who has just been so present, so adaptable, so open and so warm and caring, things I have never received much in my life before.  I come from such a constricted family that holds down so deep so much repressed life force and childlike joy and human wanting/needing, all of which I split off for so many years until now!  Was it any wonder I suffered from anxiety.  It was just repressed life force, wild horse energy in my beautiful body stampeding with hooves of wanting and desiring for release against huge forces of internalised repression!

Phew! Sun is literally streaming in on me at the moment and I awoke today and saw the beauty of my home, which has been such a cocoon and which I nearly discarded earlier in the year in quest of a space that was not the real me I am but the me I thought I should be to be better or neater or more in control.

On that subject last night after I got home I listened to the greatest conversation on radio with a student of ethics and philosophy on transcendant experiences.  What was being discussed was how much the rational enlightenment in the 17th century has stolen from us in terms of raising up qualities of self control, rationality as supreme, making us numb and blind on so many levels to nature and inner mystical worlds that our ancestors were more in touch with.  In the wake of this experiences of feeling connected to a greater power or peak experiences of seeing spirit in matter or feeling that vast overwhelming of love, luminosity and connection have become increasingly pathologised by the mainstream.

On the way home just a while before I had one of those experiences when I saw a hedge of the most glorious yellow wattle shining out at the side of the car.  I was overcome with the awareness of how much love there is in nature and of how much of our suffering is man made by the heroic questing ego that seeks power over nature instead of union with it.

When we fail to see the beauty in who we really are as natural beings, when we go deaf dumb and blind to sensitivities and feelings of connection or suffering, we shut down all that is most beautiful, honest, open and true in ourselves and others.  I know how many others there are out there who also suffering and in many ways our suffering in opening our hearts also connect us to each other.  When we resist that suffering or try to make a illness of it we cut ourselves away from love, life and light.

I saw so much light and love in that wattle yesterday.  I only saw it as I went to visit my Mum for an hour and we had a few moments of connection.  I connect to the pain in my Mum that she has had to deny for so many years.  Long ago as a child she was left alone without resources.  I see how she coped to the best she could.  It was NEVER enough for me but it was all she could do.  Facing the harsh reality of that means grieving not only for her but for all of my family.  It means not living in denial as so many of us do but it also involves realising the beauty that remains even amongst what at times seems to the rubble and wreckage that is left and it occurs to me as I read this back that grieving and feeling the pain is a form of transformation and birthing, it is a dying to the old past so a new present can rise up and live with more awareness of how deep losses and original injuries go.

What is most important for me at this stage of the road in my emotional recovery is self love not self denial or rejection.  I don’t like what I had to suffer and I wish it was different. I know I deserved more but maybe there was a deeper lesson or learning in every single thing I have gone through.  Making meaning of it, accepting what is, grieving the losses to realise what is most important, most luminous so I can come awake again and fully embodied in both my longing and my pain as well as my luminosity and joy, well to my mind that is essential work maybe not for everyone but most definitely for me.

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Friends with your shadow : on fear

It seems for many of us who undergo pain or difficulty the transformative encounter with our own shadow is an essential part of our awakening journey.  I am called to write about this subject today after picking up a beautiful book by Deepak Chopra called The Deeper Wound : Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering.  And my reflections on fear were also prompted after listening to a radio programme on the subject this morning which reminded me to pick up the book.

I would like to share here three of the 100 meditations that Deepak writes in the middle of the book.  The book was actually written just shortly after the experience of 9/11 in America and was his response to the massive level of fear and suffering that the terrorist attacks awakened.  Astrologers know that at that time a major opposition of two very strong planetary energies Pluto and Saturn was taking place.  Saturn in astrology rules, boundaries, defences and fears, also the ring pass not we often erect to hide from us the deeper Plutonian feelings which can include intense feelings of grief, sadness, powerlessness, obsession, a lust for control or rage often prompted by a deeper wound (thus the title of the book).  Pluto rules what becomes hidden and then persists and exerts a powerful hold – thus its association to the shadow.  But it also deals with transformation in and through facing and making friends with our dark side.

It seems to me that fear is one of the shadow energies in our lives that we need to learn to face and deal with, for often fear is feared and fear of fear means we can and do project it onto others who the split ego judges to be ‘not like me’ and therefore a necessary target for anger, rage or judgement.  We struggle with our fears and don’t often quite know what to do with them and in this situation fear becomes anger and defensiveness or it becomes a paralysing anxiety that is diffuse, generalised and non specific.  And such fear can plague us.

Fear is a large subject but I hope these readings speaks to you, as they did to me today.  When I read something this powerful that really makes me think I like to share it.

I ask my shadow self to emerge 

This is the first step of healing it

.. we are all aware of having dark impulses, which include hatred, fear and aggression.  These impulses arise from our unconscious and our normal response is to keep them there.  We push the dark side out of sight, yet it doesn’t go away.  It seeks expression as all energies will.  Healing isn’t possible when dark energies are kept bottled inside.  To being healing, invite the shadow self back into your awareness.  This isn’t the same as acting out rage or terror or revenge.  You are only sending the message that you are no longer shunning the shadow self : you are acknowledging its right to exist

My shadow self is serving me 

I am grateful for that

This affirmation is about repression.  Your shadow self has gained the energy to frighten you because you are repressed it.  But the shadow doesn’t see itself as the enemy.  It sees itself as your guardian.  It protects you by holding onto those energies that belong to you even though you feel guilty and ashamed of them.  Guilt made you turn to suppression as a solution.  Shame makes you not want to look or listen when these energies call out.  Because the shadow energies got pushed out of sight, they never had a chance to show you their hidden spiritual message.  This message was for your growth, and thanks to the shadow self, who has held these old forgotten experiences, you can revisit them.  As the shadows of fear, rage, terror, and revenge return, you need only see them and understand.  As soon as you do they will deliver their message and then go.  This is the whole process of healing the shadow self.

I ask the dark energies to teach me

This affirmation is about facing fear.  Like the shadow self, your fear doesn’t see itself as harming you.  It, too, believes that it is a safeguard.  Stored in everyone’s memory are past experiences of terror.  By reminding you of those feelings, fear is trying to protect you from repeating the traumas of the past.  As long as you push down your fear, you will nor be able to receive it as an ally.  By the same token, you cannot just act on the basis of fear.  At a soul level you see no need for fear, because you don’t need protecting.  Living in the now poses no threat, and therefore referring to the past serves no purpose.  It is safe to go into your fear and ask it where it came from and what it wants you to know.  Having seen the world from its perspective, reassure yourself that the soul needs no guardian.  Learn from fear, heal it, and ask it to leave.

So often when we keep the door locked on our fear or tell ourselves we shouldn’t have it we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.  If we can really face our fear, know the situations from the past that gave birth to it and make peace with these events we can know that there was at one time a very real threat that caused us terror.   It may be difficult to feel that we are safe now but if we deny our fear we don’t really get that chance or opportunity to give up old defences that no longer serve us and keep us blocked, trapped and driven by fear.

An instrument of awakening

I have some powerful moments of realisation at times.  You know the feeling where a new vista opens up on past issues and you suddenly see things from a new and different perspective?  Often it occurs after a long, long period of suffering and questioning.  You descend to the depths in order to see things at a more profound level, so that in some mysterious way the deeper you go the higher your view.

Today I had the thought about my brother in law, the one who caused so much pain and fracturing for our family, or rather was the instigator of a lot of it, what if he was just an instrument of awakening and what also if he carried some of the family shadow?   My Dad for most of his later life was preoccupied with financial success.  Deep down he was a soft man, but born to harsh conditions in 1920 in Holland.  He was also born in a patriarchal world.

I had a counsellor for a while, who was herself Dutch about 4 years ago and when I explained how my father treated his daughters and displayed little affection physically, she told me that was usual for Dutch fathers of his age.  He also did not believe that women should pursue further education to advance a career.  In my case I was forced to go to secretarial college, which I hated and my older sister who had the stroke became a nurse when she would rather have gone to Uni.

Anyway to cut a long story short, my father was responsible and strove and did well, but my brother in law ended up falling short, getting into debt, absconding with the family then sending some of the boys back when things got too hard after he abandoned my sister.  I don’t know the full story, in the end he hurt my sister deeply but she always forgave because that is the kind of heart that she had.  Perhaps she understood more of how hard she pushed to try and move them forward in a way to which he may not have been suited.

The entire result was devastating in every way.  It has marred so many lives including my own.  But today when I rose a little while ago to see the Sun shining I felt a kind of awakening.  What if all of these trials were for a larger purpose of awakening?  What about if our family had to go through all of this separation and disconnection so that in the end it could come back together in a healthier or different way?  What if we could make gold out of this blackness and see how old patterns were actually trying to be arrested?  And what if love was the answer?  Loving something even though it contained such pain?

I also awoke today thinking a lot about alchemy and containment.  For the purposes of maturing we need to contain our impulses and emotions in a healthy way.  We should not repress what we feel but we do need to make a relationship with feelings, most importantly with our reactions to difficult events.  Things not going our own way is challenging for sure.  Having to face frustration of our needs and impulses is so challenging, deeply painful but also essential and important. In order to be emotionally and physically healthy in our world we need the drive and ability and power to express our spirit in some way, rather than have it blocked.  At the same time it seems to me that containing and working through our frustrations, losses and thwartings and handling the associated feelings involves a kind of alchemy.  We have to digest our experiences often over a long period.

This is where the sign of Virgo comes in that we in now.  Mercury is retrograde in Virgo at the moment. It has been for some weeks.  For me it hit the deepest part of my chart when it stationed backward a few weeks ago.  It hit my Pluto.  We had the lunar and solar eclipses during this time.  Personally I have felt so much going on in my physical and emotional digestive system.  The sign of Virgo is ruled by Mercury and I was thinking today that we actually have two brains in our system.  There is the brain in our head as well as the brain in our gut.  I read in a book by trauma specialist, Peter Levine a few years ago that for every nerve fibre travelling from the brain to the gut we have 10 more travelling in the other direction.

Our deepest emotions live in our gut. This too, is where the inner child lives (in esoteric astrology the sign of Virgo is ruled not only by Mercury but by the Moon which relates to emotions and our inner child).  The gut is where we digest things and experiences and process them to then make sense of them in our brains. What is processed here is also passed onto other organs such as the kidneys and liver.  Add to this that we have a heart too that is ruled by the Sun and fiery Leo where we feel the will to both love and expression.

When that fire goes out our vital spirit feels almost dead. It is hard to eat and even to breathe as our heart connects so closely to the lungs (ruled by Gemini and Mercury too).  We have to process things.  We have to contain them.  We have to chew the raw food of experience over and over in order to gain the right understanding and nutrition, wisdom, intelligence and insight.

And I guess that during this current Mercury retrograde period that is what has been happening for me.  I have began to make sense of the fact that perhaps every thing that happened to my sister via my brother in law was really the working out of something deeper, some thing that had lessons for all of us.

It seems to me that often when we blame circumstances in some way we miss the deeper understandings that can come.  You see it all the time when tragedy strikes, people quickly rush to blame or seek the person or person’s responsible and punish them.  And most certainly people should be held to account.  But what if when tragedy strikes really there is deeper work than this to be done?   If we don’t stop and grieve and allow our pain to go deeper and teach us important things or birth deeper realisations it seems to me that we can often miss the deeper truth or meaning or purpose of the experience.

In my own case I am seeing now how much fear I have carried in my own life.  I was scared of my brother in law in many ways.  I linked that fear to fear of being close to my nephews in some way in therapy yesterday.  I both longed for connection and feared it.  Would they be safe? Would they end up hurting or abandoning me in the way their father did my sister?  Is it any wonder I felt so much fear?  That in the years following my sister’s abandonment and suicide attempt that I had 6 terminations of pregnancy and untold difficulties in getting close to any man in a deeply intimate way?   That I myself, came to fear life and love and risk as well as full embodiment?

The answer is NO its obvious that is how it would have affected most of us!  In the end I would rather this experience never had to befall any of us in my family, but the truth is that it did.  And now our task or my task is to live in the best way with the result and after examining the forces and impact make new choices for happiness or at least gain deeper insight into my fears.

I spoke in an earlier post about the wave I felt pass over me last week and weekend with my nephew’s visit.  I thought a lot yesterday about how much I can actually fear my own feelings and fear having them in relationship.  I intellectualise a lot because I was left alone for most of my life trying to make sense of deeply painful and confusing experiences in the adult world that befell both me and others.   I learned often to take myself off alone.  I learned to knee jerk react and act without containing often as a reaction to over whelming stress and then I hit walls with accidents which pulled me up short, but maybe for a reason, so that I could internalise to then be able to make a more conscious step forward, one that was not so dictated by trauma but informed by it, if that makes sense.

Today that is the realisation and reckoning I am arriving at.  Mercury moves back into the final degrees of Leo in a few days where it slows to station forward.  As it does it hits the degree of the Solar Eclipse of 21-22 August.  That is right on natal Uranus in the first house which is all about individuation, shock, disconnection, severing, enlightenment and awakening.  Oh and freedom!  But its also about turning away at times from the instinctual world of feeling to a realm of intellectual understanding which at times can be a divorced or disconnected from earthly containment and emotional realities.  In the best sense enlightenment brings light to those deeper darker Plutonian experiences and emotions we all go through.  Hopefully in the end deeper understanding when digested helps us and will help me embody more and no longer split.  Maybe it will help me to ground, turn back, embody and make peace with the earthly shackles of a far from perfect or ideal life and experiences which were so often so far beyond my own control.

The gift of our the shadow self

Dark

It is so easy to get trapped in our hurt and pain and allow our history to dictate our future and undermine our wellbeing.  When we hold onto our resentments towards ourselves or anyone else, we bind ourselves to the very thing that has caused us pain by a cord stronger than steel….  refusing to forgive those who have hurt us “is like being a drowning person whose held is being held under water by someone else.  At some point you realise that you have to be the one who fights your way back to the surface.”  The only way to battle heartache and the oppressive power of our shadow is with forgiveness and compassion.  Forgiveness doesn’t happen in our heads, but in our hearts. It unfolds when we extract the wisdom and the gifts from our darkest experiences and emotions.  Forgiveness is the hallway between the past and an unimaginable future….

we are living in accordance with a greater plan and …. indeed, everything happens for a reason. …. we are always evolving, whether we are aware of it or not.  Oftentimes this evolution is painful, but the pain serves an important purpose… By feeling the ache in our loneliness, our hearts open to receive more love; by overcoming the people and situations that have oppressed us, we realise the depth of our strength.  When we are willing to acknowledge that our pain, traumas and heartaches have in fact equipped us with wisdom essential for our growth, we naturally forgive and even bless those who came into our life to teach us these difficult lessons.   Our lives are divinely designed for  each one of us to get exactly what we need to deliver our own unique expression to the world.

Our mind may tell us that bad is bad, and good is good, and that we can never really be all that we dream of being but if our shadow could talk it would tell us otherwise.  It would tell us that our brightest light can shine only when we have accepted our darkness.  It would reassure us that there is wisdom in every wound….. Our shadow would tell us that we deserve better, that we matter, that we are more than we ever dreamed possible, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As we embrace our shadow, we find out that we are living a divine plan, a plan so important, so vital for our evolution as well as the evolution of humankind.  Like a lotus flower that is  born out of mud, we must honour the darkest part of ourselves and the most painful of our life’s experiences, because they are what allow us to birth our most beautiful self.  We need the messy, muddy past, the muck of our human life – the combination of every hurt, wound, loss, and unfulfilled desire blended with every joy, success and blessing to give us the wisdom, the perspective, and the drive to step into the most magnificent expression of ourselves.  This is the gift of our shadow.

Debbie Ford,

Making Peace with Ourselves, Others and the World

extract from :

The Shadow Effect : Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self

 

Use everything on the path

There is a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism of trantric practice and I not speaking here of sexual tantra but of the practice in which every trait, experience, quality and feeling, both so called ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ is used on the path to awakening : absolutely nothing is discarded.  This practice requires of us an opening to those aspects of our so called ‘shadow’ that, particularly in my Catholic background, we were conditioned to regard as unacceptable and unlovable, such as selfishness, anger and jealousy or even sexual feelings of wanting and desire.

On the tantric path it is believed that our nature is fundamentally good, there is a part of us that lies beneath all of our conditioning and perceptions which we have acquired that has a quality of clear light and we can shine this light on the darkest spaces in our soul instead of pushing them away or try to cleanse or remove them in order to make ourselves appear ‘shinnier’.   Indeed our fundamental belief that we are some how better or of more value if we shine and are happy instead of walking around dull, clouded and upset or depressed is such a huge part of our western culture.

What  we resist tends to persist. What we open to embrace and shine the clear light of the heart and soul’s loving compassion on tends to transform in some way.   You will have experienced this yourself if you have been able to be truly present to your heart and inner self in times of great sadness and anger, if you can just be with quality of the experience, truly feeling it instead of resisting it or making up stories about it such as “this is just so bad and wrong its unbearable”, “if I open to this it will kill me”, or even “if I open to this others will reject or kill me!” in time the feeling does tend to dissipate and transform.

And writing this Rilke’s quote about things coming to us and asking help of us comes to mind.

Everything

I am not sure Rilke knew of tantric practice but he did know great suffering in his life. This is evidenced in his writing which is full of wisdom and advice on how we can be kind, loving and accepting to ourselves and our demons even in the most wounded places.

I have been practicing in this way for some time now.  Following my godmother’s death on Wednesday I was flooded with memories, images and feelings of the past.  I listened all day on Thursday to the Carpenters as one of my most special memories is that it was my godmother who took me to the shops in Sydney to buy my first ever album with was A Song for You   Some of the songs on it are so sad and come out of deep feelings Karen Carpenter must have struggled with.  I used to listen to this album after school on the days when there was no one home and I was all alone.  It is very sad to me that in some way my soul really identified with some of the deepest songs on that album such as Bless the Beasts and the Children and the haunting Road Ode even in my early teens.

Listening to the music on Thursday put me in touch with my heart and with old memories, it helped me to touch base with grief so that I could release it in tears and come to deeper understanding of how I really felt over all of those heartbreakingly lonely years where I struggled.  The feelings broke apart and left me in a clearing by late Thursday I was able to cry in therapy and really be validated.

To me this process of opening my heart to suffering doesn’t mean I have to get stuck there.  It means I open a door to awakening to realities I could not if the door was kept shut.  And in time being able to feel it means I am reconnected from a deeper place.  I don’t need to struggle to ‘let go’, instead the feelings actually let me go when they have been acknowledged, they were just beating on the door of my heart asking to be let deep inside and praying the door would not be closed on them again.  And once I could feel and release them I felt such a weight removed from my soul.

The wound of separation

Love peace joy

I am on about wounds a lot today. I got to thinking after reading my last post again and reading a comment from a valued follower that there is a deep wound of separation that I did hear spoke of a lot both in and out of recovery circles.

In the years just prior to getting sober in AA at age 31 I was very interested in spiritual matters, astrology, emotional and psychic sensitivity, the wound to the earth and of the World Wars and all wars really, the wound to the deep feminine.  It was after I got sober that the reality of all of this wounding really struck me so deeply and I understood more why it all resonated so much within me.  I felt our collective suffering deeply and so often in AA meetings where I would sit and weep at many of the stories of addicts in recovery.

I was also dreaming a lot and recording my dreams.  Just before and after getting sober I had two very psychically strong and powerful dreams about my father who had died about 8 years before. In the first one he called me out of this den of iniquity and helped me hide behind a bush as I watched the house I had been in burn to the ground.  That was so metaphorically true of how my old being would be transformed in the following years.  In the second I literally felt his spirit connect to my heart and fill it with love. I woke to feel him with me so powerfully in a way I had never done before his death. That dream occurred in the first month of my sobriety..

There have been other dreams in ensuing years but none as powerful as those two.  And over the past years I have felt that deep wound of separation in my soul so often and read about it in many books especially those with a focus on A Course In Miracles by writers such as Paul Ferrini and Marianne Williamson.

When I read the comment from my dear follower about how he can be sometimes repulsed by a part of himself that is wounded,  I thought of this wound of separation.  Why, I wondered, is it so hard for us to love the wounded other and even our own wounded self at times?  Although I am no fan of narcissists something in me cringes when their victims come over all nasty and mean about the narcissist.  Another part of me thinks “Good on them!!”  But I do find it hard to despise totally the suffering self in others that leads them to darkness or lovelessness, part of me just feels this infinite compassion for the broken or separated part of them

The original wound of separation occurs for us at birth.  We are forced from our mother’s womb by the urge to life and who knows if our soul chose it.  We come into form in the world where so much is outside of our control and we encounter so much pain and so much loss.  At times it is real feat to walk on earth and to keep walking through all the suffering unless we can open our hearts and keeping our hearts open IT IS JUST SO FUCKING PAINFUL at times, it takes really courage and real gumption to keep moving forward!  And its also okay if we are not up to the task either on some days or for a whole life as we are only human.

My ex partner used to say to me all the time “For God’s sake you aren’t fucking Jesus!”  but another part of me would think, well why not?  He is not such a bad person to aspire to be.  In darkest times I have felt how it must have been to be Jesus suffering as he did with his own infinite wisdom and open heart, being misunderstood all over the place.  At other times I think to aspire to be that way is a sign of some form of perverse masochism if taken too far.

In the long run though we have to come out on the side of something.  To understand how separation hurts us, how we intensify it with our reactions and thoughts or negative ego (as opposed to the positive ego we all need to move through life’s challenges) is big work.  Seeing where we have to let go of valued and seemingly valuable ego ideals is important, seeing where compromising them costs us too much is also important.  And then sometimes we just find ourselves down on lacerated knees in a pile of glass shards screaming in pain from the separations others have forced on us, or we have forced on ourselves or others due to ego ideals gone bad.

Can we keep loving anyway?  Can we give up thoughts of attack, blame, guilt and separation? Can we answer all of these with love? And can we, as my lovely follower wrote, just wrap our arms around that wounded self in the darkest of times?  If so perhaps we can find ways to ease the pain of separation that we undergo in the course of living every day.  Could this be, at the present time, the most powerful meaning we could strive for, knowing and accepting that so often we and others will fail and that we so offer err and meet so much suffering in the world?

The Wild Child within

Moon.jpg

This is a post I wrote a long while back.  I have over 80 posts in my drafts file that the critic sanctions.  As a practice of letting things out I am freeing some of my drafts from drafts.. to published:

I find synchronicity really interesting.  Yesterday I went to the local library to get some new audio books and I came across a novel by P C Boyd of The Boy In the Stripped Pyjama’s fame.  It was called Wild Child and was about a boy raised by wolves who is then found and taken back into society and of the struggle and drama that ensues.  I haven’t borrowed it or listened to it yet, but it really intrigued me, this idea of where the human and the animal intersect and how being exiled into the animal world may impact someone, forcing them to develop in certain ways that are not so civilised.

I feel part of my healing is to have embarked upon a relationship with my dog over four years ago.  I haven’t had children and so I haven’t been brought face to face in that kind of relationship with the triggers of my own childhood.  I think deep down I was scared that if I did have children I would pass a lot of damage on and so, many years ago I had several terminations of pregnancy.  Having an animal is not exactly like having a child but there are similarities and I do believe that having such a relationship triggers so much about our own history and conditioning and approach to life. It also raises issues around obedience and control.  I read somewhere recently that owning an animal often forces us to recognise aspects of our shadow, which animals can express for us.

In my own case my childhood was controlled and controlling, when my parents were around but when they were not (which was a lot of the time) I had free reign and because of my deeply inquisitive and passionate nature I would get up to all kinds of mischief.  Due to the emotional repression or the scary outbursts of aggression in my Mum I learned to repress and hide, the acting out of the repressed impulses came a lot later when alcohol entered the picture.

Alcohol freed me from the repression and unloosed the tied up energies.  It made me a real wild child.  It turns out that yesterday at a funeral I ran into an old school friend and she was laughing over how wild our year was.  We were raised in the Catholic education system and I think that wildness was a legacy of all the repression.

There is a certain element of being wild that to my mind has to do with living the life of a spirit where the true fire or essence of ourselves has a chance to shine or burn clean obstructions to that spiritual energy that is divine being.  At times this fire can be dampened and we can be over civilised or have this wildness distorted by conditioning and by a collective culture (most especially those of us born prior to the 1980s),  which does not allow the nature wildness of the soul a free reign to grow and express.

Jungian psychotherapist, Clarissa Pinkola Estes devoted an entire book this subject : Women Who Run with the Wolves.  She speaks much of the soul in this book and most especially the wild aspect of a woman’s soul that can be destroyed or captured by too much civility, repression or conditioning.

The idea of a boy raised by wolves intrigues me if the wolves were a metaphor for a people who lived closer to nature and to the vital aliveness of wildness.  Would chaos reign supreme?   Who knows.  But something about that kind of society appeals to me.  I’m not a big fan of the word or principle of control.  In the words of a recent movie I feel the world would be better if we all allowed A Little Chaos and wildness into our lives.   I would love to see a world where people did not feel the need to apologise for expressing natural emotions.   This post is my attempt to reflect on this wild self a little.

As if my synchronicity today I was reading how control can be one result of not attaching or bonding or forming relationships of trust in childhood. At time I try to over control myself because my natural messy, expressive, passionate self does not live up to what was appreciated by my parents.  I then turn against myself and my own energy and my dog Jasper in carrying the shadow ends up making a mess, pissing on the bathroom mat or engaging in some other mischief.  When I get upset I then see how unreasonable my response is to a small animal that is just acting in line with his instincts or perhaps picking up my own anxiety around being out of control, natural or unrepressed.  I want to allow the wildness out.  To let the spontaneous uncaged part of myself free, to find the beauty and mystery in chaos, accidents and mess, to let nature take its course so that I can breathe a full breath and let go of so much of the fear that has dogged me since childhood.

I have placed the tarot image of the Moon card at the head of this blog.  Many years ago I had a reading with a woman in Sydney.  When this card came up she said to me.  “Inside your deepest soul and spirit you are like this wild wolf baying at the Moon but growing up your mother preferred you to act as a domesticated dog.”  I have never forgotten those words.  At times my conditioning strangles me and I feel myself longing to break free but there is fear, excitement and fear.  Recognising this fact is perhaps all a stage of my healing.