Critical symptoms of Childhood Emotional Neglect

Benign neglect is still neglect, it is something therapist Jonice Webb addresses in depth in her book Running on Empty. Many of us could say that we came from loving homes or homes that to all appearances seemed okay or functional from an objective external point of reference and yet something was still missing at the core of such families, a critical sense of warmth, emotional resonance, parental presence, availability and connection which can be hard to articulate. Feelings of emptiness haunt the soul who suffered CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) and the pervasive if unspoken feeling ‘there is something wrong with me’ may dog many of us well into adulthood, it is one of the critical symptoms of CEN. It is not based on any objective truth though, the truth was we never got adequate care and then internalised the belief it was somehow our fault. Our responsibility in the present rests in recognising levels of wounding and trying to find ways to get valid needs met we did not feel allowed to have at the time, rather than internalising self blame.

I shared a lot from Jonice’s book a while back, you will find links to these posts below when I manage to find them back. It took me until I read her book to really get a true handle on what haunted me many years in sobriety when I felt I should be doing a lot better than I was, never the less I was still attracted to dysfunctional emotionally absent relationships and I suffered profoundly mixed feelings of sadness, anger, pain and confusion, I also see now I struggled with critical issues of boundaries and self care.

CEN sufferers often blame themselves when things go wrong or for our suffering and we often don’t know how to take care of ourselves across many levels. For example the child who is left alone a lot may look to comfort from substances like food or drink, seeking the missing love that would come from an emotionally present, warm, available, engaged parent.

I was triggered to break down in tears when watching a programme about latch key children about a month ago. The film showed a little boy going to a fridge to take out some food with a lonely and forlorn look on his face. As I think about this now after just having met up with a close family friend to my mother, an image of her as a child comes to mind. I love the Louise Hay evening meditation in which she asks us to visualise in our mind’s eye both our parents as small children, taking them with love into our hearts. I think of my Mum sitting all alone on the back step after school with no mother at home looking longingly at the neighbourhood kids playing with siblings and longing for a brother and/or sister. I think too of how when she had kids were born too far apart in age to really be able to play like this, something my siblings and I sometimes talk of.

It came up in conversation with my friend earlier how my sister wished not to have a bar of me when I was about 8 to 14. I remember clearly getting my period while Mum and Dad were on a trip away and I had never been told what period was, I went to my sister crying with bloody underpants and got fobbed off in some way. I remember the mix of shame and aloneness and confusion I felt. I don’t remember how it was addressed when Mum and Dad got back home.

Another symptom of CEN is that we feel we must be independent. We learned early on that it was not possible to reach out, open up or rely on anyone. We learn to keep our cards close to our chest, we feel we should manage things that others naturally need help with, the list can go on. I see how this manifests now in the life of my other sister and I see how self contained my brother stays remaining perpetually self focused on work work work and not engaging emotionally AT ANY TIME. The exception was at my older sister’s funeral when he broke down giving the eulogy. He rarely went to visit her in the care home where she lived in the later years with Complex PTSD and acquired brain injury (incorrectly diagnosed bi polar disorder, I feel). His wife told my mother years ago she never wanted her daughter anywhere near my older sister who flipped out and tried to take her life after her husband abandoned her. Guess what? My niece ended up in the psyche ward AT THE EXACT AGE MY OLDER SISTER HAD HER CEREBRAL BLEED AND RESULTING PSYCHOSIS.

I think while writing this of my own struggle with addiction, about how silent I used to believe I must be, how I must try never to be ‘too much trouble’ and sadly remember it was because of this my mother eventually had the final fall that ended her life, she drove herself all alone to a doctors appointment then went to do shopping when she was struggling with walking and chronic back pain because she ‘didn’t want to bother me or my sister!’

I just broke down with our family friend. She told me I am a cry baby but this is the real pain and struggle of my entire family with CEN that I am realising now after almost 26 years of active sobriety. My so called defects of character could read like a skit from British comic act Monty Python : fear, surprise, a ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope (just joshing!!!) But the perfectionism (ruthless efficiency) as well as ruthless self sufficiency defects could be primary ones. That said there are times we need to take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves if we want to truly recover and own our power, but never the less being forced at times to cope on all alone, put on a good front and ask nothing of anyone IS NOT GOOD FOR US. And often it may also come from never having felt truly safe, validated or ‘got’. As a default the sense that if we are to get attention or be considered ‘good enough’ we must always be there for others and never demand too much also sets in making us codependent in an attempt to win the missing love.

Well I am glad I could shed the tears anyway. I know the cure to what ails my sister is not an easy one and I honestly never believed it lay in medication nor in some of the so called ‘strategies’ they are trying to arm her with for about the 8th similar hospitalisation. My sister’s heart is lonely and she may feel there is definitely ‘something wrong with her’, a person who tried all her life to be there for others and not expect or ask too much. But my heart knows the true pain lies deeper and cannot ever be fully addressed by band aids or medications.

Many CEN sufferers do end up ending their lives, like Robin Williams they may have had to put on funny or happy mask but never the less what they were forced to face deep in the lonely privacy of their own hearts and souls may in the end being far far too difficult to come to grips with or digest, inner disparaging voices of self blame also dog many CEN survivors marking us in many places with deeply inarticulate wound which may seem impossible to fully make sense of or bear.

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/who-are-we-really-the-lost-feeling-self-and-its-role-in-suicidal-ideation/

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/signs-you-may-have-been-emotionally-neglected/

I want your body

No. I don’t mean this in a purely sexual way.  What I am talking of here is how in this world where so much is getting electronic, ethereal or digital and how our mind creates all kinds of stories and trips is of how the body is often left far behind and we lose touch with the need to just ‘BE’ with another body.  Relating face to face.

Okay maybe a lot of this yearning of mine is currently coming to mind as I realise how disconnected I had to be from my own body when trauma hit so as to not feel the full onslaught or of how it was at the tender age of 17 when the prospect of an embodied relationship with a male sparked so much fear lodged in me from a Catholic education which taught me to despise or demonize the female body.  I had my car crash on the back of my first sexual awakening that got aborted and now my therapist believes at 56 I am starting to need to re do my adolescence as so much got stolen from me then.

Well the man who has shown up in my life is online.  He is signed up with the forces till March and may only possibly be able to get out early due to a medical issues and we have made this connection since mid March 2018 which has just been growing and deepening but the frustration is we cannot meet.  I know my Mars energy is burbling from the basement as Mars goes retrograde for two months on 25 – 26 of June which is the anniversary of my second accident in 2005 on the first anniversary of my husband’s decision to leave me.  Ours was never a deeply sexual relationship.  In many ways we were like brothers and sister or twin souls.  We both lost our Dads in our early 20s and were then left by our partners.  When we met this wound bonded us. But when I went on to do my healing my husband wanted me NOT TO GO THERE and so things broke apart for a reason.  That does not mean I didn’t grieve so deeply the loss of my ex husband and our new life in England, actually its taken all of these past 13 years to come to terms with things and to see ours was never going to be a life time relationship and that this wound was just the repeat theme of three other broken hearts I suffered from 23 to age 29.

Now I am so happy to have another opportunity at love.  I don’t want to blow it and luckily I am able to be fully honest with this new friend of mine especially on a day like yesterday when the Mars frustration was reminding me of how it was to be trapped inside a crushed car unable to breathe with pieces of metal inside me and collapsed lung bleeding pleura into surrounding tissue after having been pierced by a broken rib.  And a guy behind me with an oxygen mask I was trying to fight off.  All of that trauma got retriggered following a cranio session back in the UK in June 2005 and I ended up smashed and cut open again waking up after lost time with a paramedic again hovering over me in an ambulance.  Scary shit.  Plus I was 12,000 miles from home all alone.

Love is scary for me.  I know that now but what is scarier is facing a life without the opportunity to experience a fully embodied love in skin.  Today I got a call from my sis asking me for a coffee which was so so great, as some of you know she just got out of hospital after 6 weeks of treatment for anxiety and depression.  We met in the arcade my Mum used to run down alone on those afternoons after school when she had no one, the arcade where my parent’s first business a continental deli was in the 1950s. I made a real effort to get there, cause I know my sis is trying so hard to live again after hospital and all of her grief.  Her husband also left her in 2010 so we know a similar heartache.  We don’t talk much of these things but just being with her was good.   There was so much silent history there too, but some of my resentment is fading these days.

I want to grasp every opportunity there is to connect, share time and really live after so  many years spent in the wilderness.   I want to be in a body and relate to others in bodies in a really present way.   I really want to full embrace life, warts and all, knowing my body and psyche has the ability to withstand all of the onslaughts and the courage to summon up and face my deepest fears while answering with love : body to body, face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul.

Another clash with my brother

My brother called last night to tell me my sister was finally admitted to the care facility at the hospital.   I made the mistake of trying to address some of what I had found out had triggered my sister feeling so anxious with him and he just shut me down.  The first thing that triggered my reaction of feeling so angry were the words ‘she was in a highly irrational state’ this from a man whose daughter said to me ‘Dad will rationalise until the cows come home.’  He then said he didnt want to get involved in any complicated analysis of what my sister is thinking and feeling, it was in no way complex, she was terrified of not ‘measuring up’ something her best friend told me when I let her know my sis was in hospital.

I had to end the conversation with my brother as I was so angry and I woke at 4 am feeling how the anger was sitting in my body and I ended up growling like a wild lion in the middle of the night and then when I settled down my little dog Jasper gave a little bark.  I know he picks up on things as when my brother came around the other day and invaldiated me he left the room immediately we sat down to talk.  Gotta love how animals just act on their instincts as far as humans are concerned.

When I called my sister’s friend back and got angry she got panicked and said ‘don’t get angry with him, he’s just putting up defences and its not only his loss but his sister’s loss as well.’  I wasnt bothered by her trying to calm me down, it was for my own good and is a sign when I dialogued with my inner child/self I need to have stronger boundaries around him and lower expectations.  I should have learned this by now as long time followers will know I’ve been here countless times before.

When I have expressed either sadness or anger with my brother its like he has seen it as some kind of flaw, error or weakness in me. My therapist said as much yesterday.  I then become the ‘bad’ one (for being angry/’mad’) and need to be distanced from which can leave me questioning if I really am bad and sane at all.  Around his family I am constantly made to feel lower than pond scum, and his wife is a rigid narcissist with a lot of blocked feelings and looks upon hugs and other displays of affection as weakness.

Truth is this morning I felt sadness and compassion for my brother but not enough to want to have contact with him much.  I want to handle all my own affairs independently although I did ask him for some help as Mum’s ashes have still not been collected and there is so much to do with sorting out her unit and my sister’s collapse means its not possible for her to do it and I understand why.  But part of me doesnt want to spend any extended time in his company. I felt hatred for him last night and murderous rage to be totally honest!

I know staying angry with my brother probably wont help and will only do me damage.  Good thing was last night I saw how it affected me bodily and in my gut and digestion.   It took a lot of work to get going today as I was awake from 4 to 6 am and then up at 8.30.  But I am getting through.  The mowing people came to clear the yard today and I was able to speak to my nephew who gets how I feel and is so supportive in encouraging me to keep good boundaries.  His advise was ‘to put on my Scobby Do mask’ with my brother.  I am not a good mask wearer would just rather keep a distance but I know letting out my emotions with him is not a good idea as it is not with any narcissist who sees feelings as a sign of irrationality and weakness.  What is most important is that I don’t end up making myself feel bad or wrong for feeling or finding healthy ways to express and contain them.

Not come undone

I know your heart is beating there

And labouring under the weight of so many things you cannot seem to express

I cannot know the full truth of it I can only feel how it has been for you From very young To orient yourself around doing things for others

You found it hard to find your way in to an inner life

What can I do with how I feel What can I do with the thoughts of past pain Of the memoris of how you were run run running and I said to you Please stop Please turn within and feel your feelings

Instead there was an almighty clash and Not this time with me That sent you reeling And at the end led to capture and hospitalisation And the the shock of them trying to control your errant brain

After that it hurt so deeply For us to see the vacancy in your eyes The way your hands shook You tried to take your life then clawed your way back Only to have them defeat you again Yelling at you to get up out of bed I wasnt there but then they sent you and Mum home on the bus And you were shattered How could you trust agaim When there was no resting place No place of comfort or healing from the pain?

The pain of this locked deep inside has never been addressed and now again you will go down Surrendering your will under medication and to doctors who ask not one thing about your past While I stay here on the outside trying to find a way to be with it And not come undone?

The truth of this goes ages back and in the yard I hear our ancestors weeping as ghosts look on powerless to help And I search for the right way to turn

I took the risk

My brother called this morning.  My sister’s anxiety is so bad that they are putting her in hospital and he wanted to come over to discuss it with me in half an hour.  Her psychiatrist just ‘retired’ leaving her with no one, she then got another referral and has to wait 4 months to see anyone.  I was so angry to hear this.  My sister never opens up to me but maybe I should have asked what the situation is but since my sister chooses to do no therapy I find its a bit of a no go zone discussing psychiatrists.  My sister has been struggling and I think I have failed her by not noticing how hard it was for her lately and concentrating on how I am struggling and not getting enough from her.  I feel some guilt over it.  I think I may have been self centred.  That said I have never found it easy to trust her as she has hurt me before I know she must be missing Mum a great deal and feeling guilt over the stress she caused by trying to take her own life while living with Mum back in 2013.

I then opened up to my brother about things from the past that happened after Dad died and before, he let me cry but then said to me “you need to find a way to put these things behind you because that all happened years agon and is in the past” which shows I was not wrong in being wary of opening up to him.   He did hold my hand as I cried and told me to ‘let it out’ but then his comment felt like being shut down again.  I tried to tell him how trauma such as I have had with things of metal going deep inside by body is just not a ‘head’ thing that can conciously be let go but affects neurobiology, but he quickly said he had to go when it got too intense for him.  Most PTSD survivors will be familiar with this kind of reaction.  Maybe he was just protecting himself.

I have to remember that my brother’s relationship with his own body is not good and he never was one to be able to relate and open up emotionally, my sister also never opens up and I told my brother I see this as a large part of anxiety because of the inner shame and constant inner critical voices that I know my sister does endure because she has shared about them with me.

I called my nephew to share my hurt over what my brother did, I wasn’t angry but I noticed I was shaking after he left and feeling so anxious my heart was beating wildly with the real life energy coming up seeking a container with him and the container broke aparts and it all flooded back on me.  I was also conscious of that body anxiety coming up as I discussed it all with my nephew until tears fell again and I expressed my vulnerablity to him.  He said I am not responsible for my sister, that her sons need to step up but I know the older son is not good with feelings either.

Anyway I did take the risk of opening up with my brother.  I learned why I so often don’t trust opening up and fear I will be dropped or negated.  I know what he said is not fully true wounds we go through do leave scars and much depends upon how we tend them, we don’t need to fixate on them, just respect that they are there and hurt more when soothing empathy is not shown and physical and emotional trauma does leave lasting effect no matter what those who do not suffer from it say to us.

Our total health rests on who we surround ourselves with and how well they receive us, until we can hold the charge for us in relationshp and after they left and recognise what went down in exchanges.  Today some things were confirmed but I have still been crying for my sis I wish she had real help that helped her to deal with her feelings and anxiety.  I hope she gets it in the hospital, but I am scared as I don’t trust they really know the full story or what they are doing.

After you left

Shine

After you left My heart it broke it two But also there was relief As my darling I knew then your spirit had flown free From this place of suffering

My darling sis You were so beautiful and so strong But stubborn too It was not always easy to love you But the love you had in your heart And your kindness to others Well it just shone through

Today I found a card you scrawled in the illegible hand of the brain injured Expressing your love for your caregiver Annette I had a smile As I thought of how strong and positive you were Despite all of your heartbreak and loss

I thought of you too as I watched those later leaves clinging to the branches of the tree Not yet ready to fly free I remembered that last night time vigil by your bed on Easter Saturday As you lay in a coma and I held your hand

Please don’t leave me I cried And then If you must go please go free

In the movie A Monster calls The truth demanded of Colin when his mother is dying Is just this For him to cry out his words of protest and admit his vulnerablity at an inescapable fate rather than defend against the pain with anger

So it is when those we love are torn from us As much as we wish we could hold on Or turn back time In the end all we can do is surrender and open our hearts to the grief that comes As the spirit of the one we love leaves its earthly bond bodily home And finally flies free without us

Parts of my mother my living sister carries.

It’s a very interesting dynamic I have with my 8 year’s older sister.  I have shared about our relationship on here a lot before about how the close loving bond I hoped for from her never seemed to be there and I wonder how much of it comes out of fear on my part, because of all the family members she carries a lot of my Mum’s perfectionism and wariness or shyness around people.  My Mum lost her own father at 7 and had to fend a lot for herself, there was just no protective parent there to care for her as her mother had to work.  My oldest sister who died in 2014 and had the brain trauma was born when Mum was only 22, Mum was 30 when my living sister was born and 38 when I was born, so we have large gaps in ages and I know that when my two sisters were born life was very different for both parents.   My two older sisters also got to have relationships with my mother’s parents in a way I did not as my mother’s step father who married her Mum when she was 14 died when I was only one year old.  An astrologer told me years ago that as the sensitive baby I had absorbed and lot of that sadness.   As Poppa lay dying they would take me to the hospital to sit on end of his bed in my basinette.   Was it any wonder I was called ‘the tissue queen’, as I am reading sensitive kids are born with acute radar and are absorbers.

Anyway my older sis was more involved with me as Mum went out to work all the time leaving me alone, she looked at me with eyes of love.  My second sister got to be the good girl who was the one who geared herself around helping the family to function in its business drive which consumed most of every day.  She was not happy to have to take care of me after school a lot of the time and at times I got bullied.  I still longed for my sister’s love and I have realised yesterday though she sometimes says she loves me I don’t feel it and I wonder why?  As a perfectionist also when she comes over to my house I cannot but help feel she is casing the place and she told me the other day my dog is fat while another friend told me she feels he is a good weight.  I told this to my therapist yesterday and we smiling over how people’s perceptions can vary. At the same time she was kind enough to come over unannounced on Sunday with an easter bunny for me which really touched me but when I see her walking down the drive my first reaction is fear.

Thinking about it astrologically my sister has the Moon in Virgo which is where my Mum’s Venus was.  Mum’s Venus was triggered by retrograde Mercury in Sagittarius back in December when all the trauma occurred that led to her death.  This was hitting the aspects that hit my older sister’s Mercury in Sag being triggered by Neptune at the time of her cerebral bleed.   As some of you know my grand niece (her granddaughter and my Mum’s great granddaughter) ended up having a seizure during that visit while at my mother’s house and that precipitated a chain of events that led to my mother’s death 7 days later following a fall.  I know it’s all interconnected really.   My grand niece is a very sensitive little girl and I cannot help but feel she picked up on something.  After some time on medication following my Mum’s death my nephew now tells me she is fine, no more medication and no seizures which makes me realise the family unconscious is such a powerful thing and Neptune which rules the collective unconscious was opposing my grand nieces Mars in Virgo back in December during the visit and seizure time last year.

Anyway I digressed or followed a flow here as I started to write about how lately I am becoming aware of what my sister who still lives is carrying of my Mum, how it has in some way kept her a prisoner and how she longs to be more free.  This was made clear by comments she made while having a cup of tea here with me on Sunday.  I started crying while she was here and my therapist seems to think that due to the fact my sister’s emotions are repressed with medications, as a sensitive person I am picking up on her sadness.  I am not sure whether it’s that or that she just triggers my own wound when she comes around and I start to feel that carried familial anxiety and trauma.  Even when she was hospitalised several times for depression when I visited I would often cry while with her and the last time was just after my older sister died and Mum and had to clear her room from the care home alone due to lack of any other help. We then went to visit my sister whose family decided she was too ‘ill’ to attend her older sisters’ funeral… so sad….:(

With her strong Pisces I also feel my sister carries some multigenerational pain of the ancestors as her birth date is the death date of one of my great great grandmother’s baby siblings two of which had the same name Eliza Jane and died in infancy.  My sister also has a lung condition that I have felt for a long time goes back to the trauma to his lungs my grandfather suffered during his time being gassed during World War I.  I cannot prove this but intuitively I know it and Mark Wolynns’ work on ancestral trauma being carried multigenerationally shows how epigenetics affects ancestral descendents cells.  I have written several posts about his work which I will link to below later.

Anyway what prompted me to write this blog was reading the following excerpt in a Jungian book on the archetypal mother

the queen has divided her mother’s image into good and bad and kept the good parts for herself.  Everything that was unpleasant about that relationship she plans to give her sister, whom she already detests.   Her rejection of the bad mother is so complete, the queen even forgets to take that piece along on her trip.

It made me wonder how much of the bad mother I often project onto my own sister when I feel unseen by her and unwanted.  Is what I think I see and feel true or not, does it come out of my own psychology. Most certainly my sister keeps her emotions close to her chest and doesn’t display them readily.  I don’t really ever remember seeing her cry.  Or could it be that it is true what I am reading about in my book on high sensitivity, that as the feeling child I do give expressions to emotions my sister finds hard to feel.  My therapist was quick to point out to me yesterday how loving I am about family members even when they hurt or ignore me or sideline my feelings.   As the baby I always longed for their love but what I am learning is that no one else can help me understand my own self or heal my hurting places but me.  I dont want to make my older sister all bad because she has good parts its just that a lot of her is repressed due to the trauma she underwent through several hospitalizations and harsh shock treatment.   I treat her tenderly as I have seen all she went through and at times it really, really breaks my heart but is this sorrow mine to carry?

My wound that you cannot heal

I had such a strong need to speak to my sister this morning.  I knew she had not been feeling physically well with headaches and nausea.   My mind wondered if it was emotional or due to her liver but of course it is not my job to know and yet there there was that longing for a familial connection that runs so deep and doesnt have a lot of places to go now that my Mum is dead and my older sister too.   I found myself remembering painful times in our past and seeing also how I was not seen in the way I needed to be at a critical time.   I could not ever seem to find a soft place of comfort and support when I needed it, despite the fact my sister did reach out to me after my marriage ended and wanted me to spend the first Christmas with her.   I could not do it so I had the Christmas with my Mum and my older sister who was not in a very kind or empathic place.  We ended up having conflict which then upset my Mum and it was all around my own emotional wound which I really started to feel when sharing this morning with my sister about times of emotional neglect in the past especially around my family’s overconsumption of alcohol.

I was triggered by watching a comedy last night in which a drunk person threw up.  It was a show about other people watching the comedy on television being filmed themselves, some of the laughed a lot and one person said “that is just not funny, its awful” which was my feeling as I know how horrible it feels to be throwing up from drinking too much and it’s something that happened following this sister’s 21st when I was only 13 which was held at a fancy hotel when the waiters kept giving me alcohol and no one was watching.  Of course my family felt it was a great joke and I know there is a funny side, but for me it was not funny at the time and now just strikes me as sad.

Anyway, my sister does listen and doesn’t dismiss things now.  “You have such a good memory,” she said to me, “mine is awful”.  Well if you have had shock treatment and suicide attempt after copious prescriptions of a cocktail of over 10 different medications on the back of a hysterectomy and abandonment by your husband that kind of thing is going to affect you, but it means when it comes to emotions there is not a lot of insight and ability to share from that level from her side which means I do a lot of the work and its a long conversation with many gaps I am always feeling my way through.

I am glad we had the chat, and found myself crying at times in some of the longer silences, and as I listened deep within to the pain of my wound I realised how it came out of a longing for her to see me and for my father and mother to see me, to see how alone I felt when young, how I struggled and how it hurt not to have the things I loved recognised.  That was when I became aware of what I was longing for from my sister which she cannot give to me and that is sad and its also sad how I keep on trying and trying?  She has her own wounds too and I am very very aware of that.

This is our first Easter without my Mum.  My sister doesn’t seem to be keen to ever meet up, the exception was my birthday so I feel that the distance between us is really meant to be.  I do need to accept it.  After getting off the phone I hoped I had not talked too much about everything as we spoke for over an hour about different subjects.   But the lovely thing was that during the call my sister did acknowledge things in me.   And I was able to acknowledge in her some good things she often does not see due to her tendency as another trauma survivor to blame herself or be confused at times.

I am looking for the gifts inside my wound and pain today.  My Chiron in Pisces lies in the seventh house a few degrees off my sister’s Sun and Venus there which is squared by a fiery Mars at 5 degrees Sagittarius which she shared with my Dad.  At times I have been wounded by her blunt approach in her less sensitive and aware days, just as Dad could be blunt even though he had a soft side.     I don’t always want to keep a distance from my sister but such contact is often bittersweet.  My older sister Judith alway expressed her love for me and used to look on me so lovingingly.  Today I remembered being called to her bedside several times when she was highly dissociated in her later illness and over medication.  I would sit and hold her hand and she would come back to me.  I may move around her little room in the care home for people with acquired brain injury she shared with four others tidying and often we would listen to music or sing along to songs we loved on the radio.  I know reading this back it was my inner child who was bonding with hers then and I remember the times she was emotionally dismissive and very cutting and hard on me too, as our mother could be in younger years.

It’s an easier life, to be honest now that my older sister has gone.  It was always painful visiting her but also lovely in another way when we just sat and held hands and connected.   The love I have for my living sister is different.   She was my boss for a while between the ages of 13 and 17 and was often trying to pull me into line from being too casual with other workers or customers at the clothing boutiques she owned along with my mother and brother in law.  When I asked to be included in the family business in my later 20s I was told “NO”.    I eventually went away to Sydney after my father died and from time to time she would visit with her husband and ask me out for a meal but this was during the later days when my addiction was worsening and one day after I had been out to dinner with her I got a call from her telling me how ashamed she was of me.  I had gone out to a pub afterwards and was sitting on the side of the road  with a group of people in the early hours of Saturday morning and she had driven past and seen me.  “What the hell are you doing down there,” she screamed at me.  “living some kind of double life?”  I felt so ashamed and alone that I just hung up the phone and later when things got worse with my addicition I did not feel I could turn to her.

Anyway sobriety came for me a few years later and I met my husband and we married and there were some happy years.  My relationship with my sister was always distant and when it broke apart (my marriage that is) I did not feel I could turn to her.   Now it is just us two family members here in our home town apart from my brother’s son and his family who are very formal and never keep in touch.  I am aware this wound is here and I treat it tenderly and possibly my sister has also felt wounded by me.   Eight years difference is not an easy one, as I shared in an earlier post as children she said she found me a ‘pest’ and its how I felt.  I was ‘the tissue queen’ because I was sensitive and cried when she got married and left home, I needed to ‘pull myself together’ when I got emotional at my God father’s funeral and hugged his grandkids ‘inappropriately’  I was a show off when I danced to a favourite song at mutual friend’s New Year Eve party.

These things stay with me and make me feel anxious (and probably unconsciously angry although on an ironical level it’s kind of funny).  I wish I had a sister who just didn’t think I was too much but then I think I need to be an adult and just accept its okay to be me regardless of these kind of things.  I can write about it here so I externalise rather than internalise all of this and I can acknowledge that this wound hurts but is not the whole of me, it just tends to ache around those times I am reminded of other losses and defeats.

A road in the woods

Road

A road opened up

In the woods

Deep inside the wilderness spaces of this heart

That led to you

It revealed itself

When I let myself feel my loneliness and deep longing

Despite all fear

And answer its plea

By reaching out

You may not fully understand me

But you let me be

Who I am

We were alone in this wood so long

You and I

Separated by mist and fog

Inside I felt the silent cry of your heart

That no one else but one other could feel

This journey we are living out is cellular and emotional

As sisters we share a lonely legacy

I cried today

And you held my hand

I felt more walls coming down

I was always so frightened of you

But now I dont struggle as hard

With being the one

Who expresses feeling

For in the lonely wood

Where we connected

I suddenly heard a choir of angels sing

I am sure it was not just imagining

The heavens rejoiced

When you reached across that great divide

To hold my hand

And the empty space in both of us was filled

With a recognition

Deep pain

And unfathomable love

Unspoken

In and out

Jasper and I just returned from a lovely walk.  We needed to rebond as last night I woke up in the middle of the night to find he had peed all over the mat in the toilet and I flew into a rage. (Yes followers I am neurotic and full of this same anger my mother had when messes are made.)  I threw the mat at him and he ran to the door but it was closed.  I then went back to bed.  Of course this morning I was full of remorse and then all the issues of my past were so strongly with me.  I felt the frustrated impotent rage I often feel that I never moved forward into my own life in 2001 when I started the psychological astrology course and was really hitting my inner child’s pain in my first therapy attempt, as some followers know at this point both my mother and now dead sister were deep in crisis.  Mum and fallen and Judy had been taken out of the care home by her alcoholic partner and beaten up and was finally flown miles away to a place in the middle of nowhere.  Later Mum found a place for her in a care home for people with acquired brain injury.

In the journals I read on the weekend I was by that stage back here in Oz with my now ex husband angry on some level I had come back, while wanting to be there and feeling the pressure to, since on his death bed Dad asked me to care for Mum.  At that stage I had left my ex husband for 6 months to go back to the UK but could still not make a break forward with him alone there.   The bond with my family was just too strong and so I came back again and he ended up leaving me.  I then tried to go back to the UK again and suffered a huge head injury.  As I look back now there was not a lot of support in the UK at that stage for me but to be honest there was enough.  I say all the time to my therapist that I don’t feel I was brave enough to make it on my own.  Knowing how hard I am on myself she doesn’t agree, she often just smiles and shakes her head, saying “there goes Mr A again!” (the name I give to my inner critic).

Anyway on an astrology level at that stage Saturn planet of self definition, standing alone and separation was on the MC or the top part of my chart (tenth house).  14 years later its now in the 4th which has to do with mother, home, family and karmic inheritance.  A few of my past few posts have been about this.  The nephew who visited well his Sun falls in my fourth house and on the weekend I felt how I often feel I take on a mother role in the absence of his own Mum who died.  On the weekend I wanted to drive him to the cemetery (and also didn’t in a way).   Today I am aware how much the bond to my family has cost me in terms of moving forward but I am, at the same time also aware that this is a limited view.  I have learned a lot more about my family and myself by coming back to Australia in 2001 and 2006.   I was able to be there at time for my sister before her death in 2014 and I have been able to make tentative connections with the boys who were like brothers to me growing up, and taken from us when my brother in law took them all away to another country, disappearing.   But I have not managed to move forward into my own life.

Today I was grateful that on our walk after we reached an open field and I sat for a while on the chair looking out over the ground, watching a swallow dip and dive that Jasper cried at me and then sat at my feet looking longingly.  I picked him up and he sat on my legs back to me and bottom to my pelvis while I cried.  I felt the pain of that anger of mine he has to bear sometimes when all of my frustration at not moving forward comes up.  The bond with my sister who died WAS SO HUGE!!!  She was the one I went to for holidays.  Mum and Dad just worked all of the time and my other sister tried to say how it was the same for most of our generation but I am not sure.  Other friends speak of times with the family on holidays when they spent time together.  By the time I was in early adolescence my other sister had left home and my brother was in business with my Dad while my sister was in business with my Mum.  I was alone ALL THE TIME.  My older sister at that point was in Sydney for a while and I could fly down for holidays but I hated having to leave.   I prayed for her to return to our home town but then she got to overworking in her own business and had the stroke.  Did I feel in some strange way responsible as I had prayed and prayed for her to move back.  When she did everything came unstuck.

It is important today for me to let all of this flow out, boring as it may be for others who live a different life.  I need to see that I didn’t do anything wrong and that all along I have been doing the very best to become more aware and separate from the past.  In many ways the pain of what I went through with my sister, through loving her will always be with me, etched so deeply, powerfully and painfully on my soul.  But there is also a light side in that I know that on some level what worked out was a karmic thing that is and was far larger than me and that my sister for all the tragic sadness also had such light inside her, albeit a light that never got to fully live.  In my own case  I acted out my own pain or buried it deeply in addiction from 1979 to 1993 when I finally got sober.  Becoming conscious was a far larger journey and will not probably be over until I die, should I really be flying into a rage with myself over the things I cannot change.  Should I be being hard on my poor dog who probably couldn’t get outside to the loo so decided to pee in the place the smelt human pee?  Answer is No!  But the truth is I am a far from perfect human.  And sometimes I feel shame about it, however the deeper problem is that I demand too much perfection of life, myself and others.

I am due at therapy soon and haven’t had any lunch so I am going to post this much now.  I had some very strange things happen yesterday, the television in the bedroom which is mounted on the wall turned on by itself and then a book that I was reading on grief just disappeared I have searched the house for over 24 hours and there is no sign of it.  I feel my sister is around at the moment as these are two things that are just two of four bizarre kinds of psychic occurrences which have occurred over the past 4 weeks.  For now I need to post this much and go tend to my body with some nutritious food. I will be back!