Understanding, accepting and trusting your feelings

The following excerpt from Jonice Webb’s book Running on Empty : Overcoming Your Childhood Emotional Neglect may help you if you struggle with emotions.  I know in my own life a lot of problems were caused by not understanding nor fully accepting or trusting my own feelings.   An education in a Catholic school taught me certain emotions were really bad, such as anger.  Ideally in childhood we should be helped to understand and identify our emotions so we can use the information they give us and respond wisely, but if we were emotionally neglected we never got to build these skills.    I hope this excerpt may be of help to others who struggle with understanding and accepting their emotions.

If you were emotionally neglected, chances are you have difficulty with accepting and trusting your feelings.  Some emotionally neglected people are completely unaware of the existence of emotions.  Others push their emotions down because they have a deep seated notion that feelings are bad, will burden other people, or can make them a bad person.  Remember the following three rules:

1.  There is no bad emotion

Emotions themselves are not good or bad, right or wrong, moral or amoral.  Every human being has felt rage, jealousy, hate, destructivenss, and superiority, for example, at one time or another.  Most people have even had homicidal feelings  These feelings are not bad, and do not make us a bad person.  It’s what we do with them that matters.  Do not judge yourself for your feelings.  Judge yourself for your actions.

2.  Feelings do not always make rational sense, but they always exist for a good reason.

Emotions do not follow the principles of logic. They can seem inexplicable and unpredictable.  But every emoiton can be explained if you try hard enough. With every emotion our body is trying to send us a meassage, no matter how bizarre that might seem.  As an example, lets go back to David, the forty something businessman who had zero supervision as a child.  David once shared with me that he occasionally felt an unbearable disgust and repulsion when he saw a random person eating at a restaurant.  He was mystified by this feeling, and worried that it might mean he was crazy.  Eventually, through a lot of exploration of his Emotional Neglect, we figured out the reason : David’s limbic system, unbeknownst to him was equating eating, the taking in of food with nurturance.  David himself took no enjoyment from food.  He had great difficulty letting himself enjoy nutritional nurturance as well as emotional nurturance.  Unconsciously, he felt disgusted when he saw someone letting down their guard, and allowing themselves to enjoy taking in nurturance.  This is an example of a feeling that seems on the surface irrrational and meaningles, but was actualy quite meaningful, and existed for a very good reason.

3.  Emotions can be powerful but they can be managed

Emotions that are hidden tend to have a lot of power over us.  When we are aware of an emotion, we can then take charge of it.  David felt at the mercy of his intense feelings of disgust, and sometimes avoided going to restaurants in order to avoid that feeling.  Once he realised the source of the feeling and didn’t judge himself for having it, he was at a point of full awareness and acceptance.  He started to fight it off, and the feelings of disgust lost its potency.  Eventually it disappeared altogether.

The IAAA Steps

IAAA may sound like a retirement fund but it is not.  IAAA stand for Identify, Accept, Atrribute, Act.  These steps are a culmination of the three rules above.  They are the four steps to maximising the value of our emotions, and gaining energy and guidance from them.  First, Identify the feeling, then Accept it.  Do not judge it as bad or good.  Third, try to discern the reason you are having the feeling, or Attribute it to a cause; fourth, identifty whether there is an Action that the emotion calls for and, if so, take it appropriately.

Whar are you feeling right now?  Close your eyes and ask yourself that question.  If the answer is ‘overwhelmed” don’t despair.  The process of making friends with your emotions may seem complicated, or even insurmountable, but you can do it.  Yes, it will take time.  But if you keep working at it, you will start to notice small changes in yourself.  The changes may be subtle and may at first seem unimportant.  But each time you have an emotional realisation that’s new to you  its a sign that you are growing and learning.  If you find yorself struggling too much, or on the verge of giving up, look for a therapist to help you.  A skilled therapist will be able to help you to build these skills, so that you can become fully connected, present and alive.

Borderlines are not ‘manipulative, malicious’ creatures.

I’m on the BPD awareness bandwagon today as you can probably tell from a few recent posts.  One of the claims that really triggers me and is mentioned in the fourth story in the book Beyond Borderline is that people with BPD are manipulative and malicious.  This is all pure projection of the helplessness and misunderstanding many mental health care ‘professionals’ exhibit when faced with a client or person with BPD who may be acting out pain due to a percieved or actual abandonment trigger.  Without a deeper compassion and understanding of the vortex of emptiness, frustration and deep need many people who suffer borderline wounds and injuries are left with from childhood and preverbal days there is no way such therapists can help and in fact they end up causing their clients or patients even more damage.  I know this because it happened to me.

I was lucky enough in my pre addiction recovery days to be recommended to a very skilled therapist who I eventually broke with due to my own abandonment wound being triggered when he went into hospital for an operation but had the strength to reconnect with years later when I understood what had triggered my leaving.  He said to me that for people who had suffered the degree of abandonment I had I needed a therapist who was available twenty four/seven.   This was after another therapy broke after my therapist went away for over a month and I got overwhelmed.   I should never have been left with no support at that stage in a therapy for that long when I had just begun to open up my deepest unconscious pain.  It has taken me some years to understand the melt down and retrigger to complete isolation that break caused me.  It took me years to get back to therapy with a consistent therapist.  12 years!

I will say this.  So called ‘borderlines’ are not manipulative.  They are hurting.  They are in emotional pain.  They are beseiged by negative voices that they can’t understand or control.  They are literally drowning at times in emotions they can’t soothe or regulate.  They need support.  They need empathy.  They need consistency.  They need understanding.   If you have ever been labelled as manipulative (and I have) dont take the projection on board.  You may suffer from a host of unmet needs you dont yet fully understand and you should always be treated with respect, most especially by anyone you engage to help you in your recovery.  Dont allow the said therapist’s emotional unavailability, ignorance or defences to cloud you from knowing what you need, which  is loving consistency and emotional availability.

I understand that many therapists could never be available twenty four/seven and in time we need to learn to hold our own pain, but in the early stages of recovery its important to have someone who is there emotionally and doesn’t retrigger your own wound over and over again leaving you hanging with pain you dont yet have the skills to manage.

Understanding abandonment depression : insights from James Masterson

Abandonment depression appears as a subject in a few of my posts.  I made a leap forward in my own recovery when I first began to become aware of the term just over a year ago following reading Pete Walker’s book on Complex PTSD where he deals with the subject in depth.  Abandonment depression is different to basic depression which can be a feeling of depletion or lowered energy following a loss of massive change of some kind in a person’s life.  When dealing with this kind of depression easy solutions of distraction for a time or a taking of pain relief to help when people find them selves in the critical stages will help.  In the case of abandonment depression we are dealing with something that will not be helped by these kind of solutions since it involves a core wound that must be understood, felt, mined and addressed through psychological work.

Here is how James Masterton describes the abandonment depression :

In the throes of the abandonment depression, a person will feel that a part of his very self is lost or cut off from the supplies necessary to sustain life.  Many patients describe this in graphic physical terms, such as losing an arm or leg, being deprived of oxygen, or being drained of blood.  As one patient put it : “I felt as though my legs would not work so I couldn’t possibly leave the house, and when I went to fix lunch I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to swallow.  And if I did I would probably throw it back up.”

At the darkest level of this depression, a person can despair of ever recovering her real self, and thoughts of suicide are not uncommon.  When one is brought low enough repeatedly, or for an extended period of time, it becomes increasingly harder to imagine oneself happy again or able to push through life with the strength and confidence with which the reasonably healthy go about their daily living. At this point a person can teeter on the brink  of despair, give up and consider taking her own life. If the separations they experience in their external lives are painful enough to reinforce the feelings of fear of abandonment, some will commit suicide.

(this is well beyond an acute episode of the ‘blahs’)… The roots of depression push farther into the past than seems apparent.  In time, true sources, eating away inside, make themselves known.  But initially they are well defended by the false self.

It is the nature of the false self to save us from knowing the truth about our real selves, from penetrating the deeper causes of our unhappiness, from seeing ourselves as we really are – vulnerable, afraid, terrified, and unable to let our real selves emerge.  Nevertheless, when the defences are down and the real self is thrown into situations calling for strong self assertion, situations that trigger the repressed memories of earlier separation anxieties and feelings of abandonment by the mother, the serious nature of the depression is glimpsed and felt.  At this point it is not uncommon for the patient to panic and slide down to the very bottom from which he convinces himself he will never recover.

(Panic hides fear of the rage underneath depression).  Depression and rage ride in tandem.  As depression intensifies, and comes to the surface of awareness, so does anger.  At first (the real reasons cannot be pinpointed)…rage is diffuse and projected onto outside sources (anger at life or the world or just angry in general…..Anger of the abandonment depression is far more intense and complex).  Anger that is part of the abandonment depression. has more damaging consequences.  Its intensity can cause bodily shaking, feelings of helplessness, feeling like a baby (age regression) and it comes from painful childhood experiences that may not be easily recalled because they are so solidly defended against.

Eventually in therapy real causes of the anger begin to become apparent but the anger is still defended against by being projected onto targets that are often stand ins or proxies….this occurs because feeling anger is associated with fear of rejection as well as fear of intimacy since in childhood being close came with difficulties and rejections.

Rage and fear (the) lead to panic.. Panic feeds on the fear that we cannot express our anger over abandonment.  It can be a claustrophobic strangling of energies, a tightening up of options : either we express our anger and risk losing the love of others or we deny the anger in order to remain in the helpless state of dependency and hold onto others.  As the panic grows, patients report that it feels like facing death or actually being killed.  Often this anxiety will be channelled into psychosomatic disorders such as asthma and peptic ulcers, each being a perfect metaphor for the underlying fear… A person with a peptic ulcer is often hungering for emotional supplies that were lost in childhood or that were never sufficient to nourish the real self.  As an adult, she is unable to find sources to supply the needed emotional support or to get through life without it.

The person living with (such a) death threat, or what is perceived as a death threat, hanging over his head necessarily leads a fearful life, in which every move to express hiself, to allow his rea self to emerge, is accompanied by the need to look over his shoulder in fear and panic… panic can escalate as the patient slowly becomes aware of the depression and anger that have been bottled up over the years.  The false self has blocked any expression of these feelings for so long that when they do manage to surface, even in the slightest way, the resulting panic can be paralysing and terrifying.  Fear of letting these feelings out into the open, even in therapy can mushroom into panic proportions.

Guilt is the fifth column behind.. the patient’s frontline of defences.  (This is not normal reasonable guilt but rather)… fed by the guilt we internalise in early childhood from the disapproval expressed by the mother for self actualisation or individuation……Not being able to face up to the internalised guilt about that (healthy) part of themselves, these individuals will suppress making any moves in forbidden direction and resort to old familiar clinging behaviour that they remember made them safe and good years ago.

(Clinging and guilt lead to…) helplessness.  Failure to activate the impaired real self (and) to deal with painful feelings.. which in the abandonment depression is abiding and total…. staying in unhealthy jobs and relationships, fearing moving on from old unhealthy patterns, even denying that we desire to.

James A Masterson, Fear of Abandonment, The Search for the Real Self

The anger against, fear of and panic due to devaluation of our true self internalised by the false self in the course of growing up lives on inside of us and must be faced on the path of healing.   Facing such internalised voices, feelings and fears means we must also confront the inner critic who has become hostile to the real self ever breaking free and asserting its real needs which bring with them the deep seated fear of abandonment by others that had its roots in the past.  Mastering our fear of abandonment and the abandonment depression is the price we pay to discontinue the inner self abandonment we face when we begin to become more conscious and aware of the real roots and aspects of the abandonment depression.

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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Let me live! So much trapped inside.

I got to therapy with a splitting head this afternoon.  It was from the sheer force of old feelings that I had to hold being evoked by a family visit this weekend that caused the sense that I had of an ocean or torrent of feelings rising up in both my head and my heart that were about to burst the boundaries of my skull apart.     I shared my post on the grief of yesterday with Kat and cried for most of the way through it, telling her how lost and hopeless I have been feeling today.

I came to the session with the sense that for most of my life I have lived doubled up inside a box that is too tight for me.  We talked about how hard I try to ‘do the right thing’ and keep everything tidy and in order, which vies with the dynamic vital life energy inside me that so longs to live free of prohibition which so often my inner saboteur or naysayer tries to kill off.  The sense I have is that if I fully allow myself to live I will die.

In a post the other day I shared about panic attacks prior to therapy and then today I connected that with the fact that after a therapy session that intensely dealt with the trauma of my near death collision at age 17 all those years ago, I did crash and break my head open on an iron foundry.   My sense is that that imprint is with me prior to any session with my new therapist, there is a feeling I wont make it back home in one piece and I didn’t share in that post about how so often after arriving home I have another attack..  (Today I didn’t have one, though!).

Kat’s feeling is that in session the young child in me who was such a free spirit, full of sass and vigour and energy is finally feeling it is safe to come out of hiding or out to play, but another side of me is scared.  I cannot tell you how many times prior to therapy I nearly don’t make it to appointments and how when I arrive there in the depths of despair, after I am able to unload, the entire feeling I carry shifts, as I feel the joy and possibility of life and happiness near by.   The attacks that followed come as a response to that, the fear is that if I really allow myself to live I will die.  What a terrible situation?  Makes me want to cry but instead I am going to see it as a breakthrough.

Are there many of you out there who also have felt for years like who you are is ‘too much’?  I know I have and do.  There are other painful feelings around at present and these concern the feeling that for most of my life I feel I have never really had a home or ground beneath my feet to hold me, or to fall onto.  I often feel as though I have been flung out into space and into ‘a world of strangers where I don’t belong’ to quote Karen Carpenter – one of my favourite lyrics of hers that really used to resonate with me in childhood.

This too muchness and the feeling that I have been and will be permanently exiled for expressing it or being by true self was highlighted by an astrologer I spoke to a few years back who told me the story of Lilith, a strong feminine archetype which is about having an energy that is complete within itself and full of passion, but is so often exiled from a normal home or from connection with others.   She said it would always be a strong theme with me.  And that is sad in a way when I long for the cosy comfort of feeling that I belong.

But as Kat pointed out today I have yet to really find my peeps, those free spirits and souls who feel deeply and are sensitive and aware like me.  (With the exception that in many ways I feel that many of the beautiful soul’s who write and share their own processes and feelings on WordPress are the closest ones I feel to forming part of a family of emotional/spiritual siblings which I can and do identify with).

Anyway I left today’s session with less of a headache.  I was able to share and unpack some of the fears surrounding my nephew’s visit this weekend.  It was clear that this is triggering grief, not only around the loss of my sister but of my father too and I need to be realistic that maybe as the one who is in a more conscious relationship with a lot of those familial feelings, the fear may be that expressing them may be seen as too much in some way.   Can I hold onto myself in the midst of the together time this weekend being aware of all the layers of feelings that may be triggered not only for me, but for everyone else too?  I am not sure, but its good to be able to acknowledge the fear and to know its natural I would be feeling the way I felt today.

It was a tough day and I didn’t share much about how tough it was before I got out this morning as now I have moved through it I am no longer in that space.   Which makes me wonder where I would be without therapy and my blog, for without these two resources all those feelings and fears kicking around inside me would have no outlet.  And that I fear would be dangerous territory for me.  Without self expression and a person who gets us and allows the gates of the dam to be opened all that energy would bank up inside and become the flood that threatens to drown us (me).

Panic attacks prior to therapy

I have noticed over the past few weeks I get a major panic attack two or so hours before my Tuesday 3 pm session time.  I have released lately that what ever I sign up for, for example meeting someone at a certain time is accompanied by the anxiety that I will not make it or should not be going and this happens even if and when I meet or go to the appointment and things go well.  There is a critical voice on the sidelines wanting to undo things.

However lately prior to therapy sessions I have a feeling that what I am going through is about more than this, part of me feels it would be better for me to cope alone.   Today’s anxiety is also about the fact that I have a built in detector around not overdoing things to getting too energetic or ‘high’.  My therapist and I discuss this a lot and we have figured out that in childhood it wasn’t okay for me to be lively or energetic at all, and that often I associate someone being energetic with them going over the top, as my Mum would do when she got overwrought.  When I start to feel my spirit rise, it feels safer to  withdraw or to criticise myself.  Often, when young, I was left alone so I had to bury a lot of feelings about what I was going through and hide it even from myself.

Now I can almost turn against the lively child like energy of enthusiasm in myself.  I have the fear that I may be getting ‘high’ or ‘manic’ (and no, I have never been diagnosed with bi polar disorder though two of my sisters have!).

My anxiety seems to have calmed down now for some reason.  I noticed the same pattern last week, I had to phone my therapist to tell her that the attack was so bad that I may not make it.  She didn’t get the message until after I made it there anyway and was on my way home, as I calmed down half an hour before I needed to leave the house.  I think that my psyche must be trying to show me lately and more clearly what  huge part fear has played in my life.  I do believe that often this fear would rather I self sabotage than allow myself to have anything happy or ‘good’, it would rather tell me that others may not be trustworthy than take the chance to find out for sure.  Fear is also a big part of the abandonment depression.

Today I also do think that I may be feeling quiet tired.  I have been awake since 5.30 am I was expecting the man who comes occasionally to help with the garden at 9 am. And at 9.20 he rang to say his grandmother had been taken to hospital. In a way it was a relief as it meant that Jasper, my dog, and I could get out for an earlier walk and on the walk we ran into two lovely people we know and had time to have a long chat as well as a swing at the park that is half way between where I park and the oval where we walk to and play.

After this I went for a coffee, but at the café they were showing Donald Trump’s speech on the increased military intervention in Afghanistan, watching it made me sad, scared and angry and I actually ended up leaving the café in tears.  It triggered feelings of sadness for those caught up in such a terrible situation and also anger that he could be so blind as to justify increased killing would rectify an by now intractable situation which is based on a lie.  Would the US really be seeking to so call ‘protect democracy’ in a country that offered no economic power or control to them?   I left the café wondering if any of us really want to live in Donald Trumps apocalyptic world.

From there I went to the nursery to get some plants, came home and had lunch and then planted the plants but in the midst of planting them a whole lot of negative voices were going around in my head and so then followed the panic attack when I got over heated outside.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see what leads to the attacks.  They occur after I stop from activity and then my body goes through an inward tussle and feels flooded with energy or fluid which I fight to control. I can be close to tears at times.  It is only when I stop and get centred or make the effort to connect to my inner self that the attacks abate.

I am noticing how often lately I can run ‘disaster programming’ over in my mind.   But I also have to be careful as I can dismiss signals telling me I need to take care with certain people who I don’t really connect with or who misunderstand me.  When this happens I tend to blame myself instead of seeing that we operate on different wavelengths.

I am now finishing this post after coming home from therapy.  I managed to do some shopping for groceries on the way home so all in all its been a productive day and despite my fears that I will ‘over do’ it I am actually not feeling tired but just a good energy level.  I seem to be at a point too where I have gained more insight into myself or am at least gaining that insight.  Panic attacks come and go.   When I have them it feels as though I am dying but I know now that that is not the truth, the panic would like to have me believe it, but it lies!

Anger with my therapist leads to deeper reflection

I found myself feeling a lot of anger towards my therapist, Kat yesterday.  The intensity of what my body goes through on any day and any night as a result of having recently had this tooth removed on the back of a traumatic head injury at occurred after a time I so needed family support and was once again denied it at the end of my marriage bites me hugely.  I feel like I have giant incisor like wounds from that bite lodged in my psychic flesh and over the past few nights of the eclipse I have been bang awake between 3 and 5 with all these powerful sensations coursing through my body as my mind has struggled to make sense of the tangled up jigsaw pieces of the past 17 years of struggle to find and make sense of my true feelings and find a centre of self in the messy conglomerate of energies within and without which like wild currents and eddies swirl this way and that, at times setting up huge surge like storms of ‘meness’ and then at other taking me down with the powerful centrifugal undertow of black inky sludge drowning me completely and making it hard to draw a free breath!!!

I am angry that Kat didn’t seem to even remember the piece of writing I actually read to her last Thursday, I had to read it all over again and I was feeling so tired,  she is my fucking therapist why can’t she remember, why doesn’t she take the time to read my blog before I go to a session so she can help me a bit, for fucks sake its only one hour and reading three or four blogs to catch up is exhausting because often when I write the feelings are there simmering away under the surface and only emerge when I read them in session which now that I write it just goes to show if she did read it then that wouldn’t happen so why am I getting so mad?  I still am because I have to work so fucking hard at times and there is so much to get through in session.

I do know why I am angry though.  This is old anger.  I have had fuck all help in my life in the way that really mattered.  I didn’t need money thrown at me, I needed a parent who got me, and was there emotionally not one who consistently abandoned me and then told me I was a late developer when I shared I got into sobriety.  Yeah Mum it was all my fault that I drank in a situation in which so many painful feelings were going down that I didn’t know how to deal with in the absence of support, after a major traumatic injury at 17 that I never got any help to deal with later only to be followed six months later by even less care available due to my sister’s aneurysm occuring with all the complications that followed all at a time I was trying to develop and mature.  Fuck That!!!

Yet even as I write this and consider my last post about the poor fit between a mother and child that leaves the child, lost, confused, split off from her body and feelings and lacking self containment and integrity of being I realise that I must accept my mother went through the same with her mother and so just passed down the wound. The anger is understandable that I feel but it wont help me unless I use it to drive a deeper understanding and also to set boundaries so that I don’t open up and share intimate emotional stuff she is likely to dismiss, deny or be confused about herself.

So its probably not really even my therapist I am really angry with but with the entire sad history of a child who came to not be able to understand, express, or even tolerate her own feelings and then became an addict, only to get sober and be told it was the result of ‘character defects’ which just reinforces the scapegoats idea fixee of being the ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ or damaged one, inherently flawed in some way.

I don’t actually remember in the rooms of AA being given any help to understand my own feelings.  I do remember sitting there in meetings and crying my eyes out as other’s shared from such a damaged split off place, full of self blame and self denigration.  It broke my heart in two.  And then in Al Anon meetings I got the askance looks from those trying to whip alcoholic loved ones into shape with their own self righteousness not getting for a moment the suffering or deeper dilemma the person concerned was going through.   I remember not being hugged after a meeting or reached out to after I shared from a deep well of pain.

I know it probably wasn’t their job but I do feel that once our buried feelings begin to open up in sobriety we need some form of encouragement and affirmation from others to assist us and yet even that hope or demand has hidden deep in the centre of it a hope or demand that is loaded with the sadness and longing of deep needs of long ago for the parent’s unconditional love, understanding, mirroring and acceptance of feelings; needs we never got to fully understand or contain.

In the end, as I was discussing with Kat yesterday, perhaps no one now can give us enough to make up for what we lost or never received in the first place.  Such an empty void or space in the place where we most needed to be met, filled up, affirmed, received  must be acknowledged, deeply understood and grieved.  And then we must meet the challenge of finding ways to fill our lives with the good energy of connection and love, learning how to understand, feel and tolerate all our feelings.   Being or becoming the good loving mother and father to ourselves so that ultimately we don’t end up re-enacting our emptiness, wound or anger on others or keep ourselves lost and trapped inside the deep dark desolate place of that emptiness.

I do wonder now, though, if we end up alone with no life partner and disconnected from so many friends due to the wounds we have carried driving so many away from us in misunderstanding how sweet can life be?  Can we really fill ourselves up from the life font or spring of spirit that was meant to flow within and through us and can that be enough?

Its obvious to me now that the hyper sensitivity that so many of us feel who were not met or received in the needed ways, grew larger in the absence of such love and care.  The burden of our so called ‘over sensitivity’  needs to be understood and we need to make sure that we don’t blame ourselves while at the same time learning to take responsibility for the wound we carry in terms of taking care of ourselves, learning to be open, vulnerable and honest to ask for what we need rather than demand it or get shitty when it doesn’t just come automatically.

We also need an awareness of the real failures of others which came from the limits of their own capacity to be fully embodied themselves, a wound that seems to plague so many in a technologically driven modern society that has grown increasingly removed from the natural and soulful elements in vibrant earthly life.   To begin to feel that love means that we open ourselves body and soul to the soft caress of the sun on skin, to the luxuriant feeling of sea water on flesh, to the sheer love that shines in our dog’s eyes as he runs to great us, to the joy of feeling our free spirit express its bounty through dance, movement and song.

It surely means we open up again to try to find the love and containment we missed from a loving mother’s arms in places and spaces where it does exist.  And it also means that we as ones who have been damaged and know the cause and consequences of such disconnection and damage make a stand in a world where sensitivity and depth is so often not championed.  For the pain our souls have suffered has perhaps highlighted for us how essential such an earthly connection to life, feeling and nature is and to the deeper realisation that the wound to the mother that leads to severing from body and deep feeling is one we end up enacting on the earth and ourselves over and over again if we don’t fully face, feel and speak for the painful and agonising consequences of its loss or absence.