Acceptance : healing from the inside

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The single most healing attitude we can hold towards ourselves is one of acceptance.  Even if there are parts of ourselves that we don’t like or that we struggle with, is there some way we can learn to love and accept these parts of us and understand where they come from and perhaps even learn to look deeper into where self critical views came from?

Self rejection seems to be such a huge part of our culture.  It becomes even more prevalent if we were raised in an environment or home where there was neglect or invalidation abuse.  In this case self rejection can become a huge part of our inner landscape, not really loving and accepting ourselves for who we truly are means that self condemnation and low self esteem become an habitual way of life.  The inner critic forms inside of us making feelings guilt, shame and powerlessness central issues we struggle with and we may try to hide these feelings from ourselves and others or silence then with addictions.

Add to this the complication of the fact that if as a child difficult things occurred which may have not been our fault we may have mistakenly come to believe that something we did played a part, for example the early death of a parent, illness in a sibling, abuse or chronic rejection.   Well into adulthood we may go on struggling with the critical voice inside of us or deeply unconscious feelings of guilt that cause all kinds of probelms.  We may also begin to learn to turn that critical voice outwards.  We come to believe in negative expectations.  If we feel we are not good enough we won’t learn to set appropriate boundaries against abuse or we may go on fearing rejection when there is actually no need to maintain such a fear.  We then learn to live from a self fulfilling prophecy which just brings more of the same to us.

The way out of such a dilemma is the practice of self acceptance, self care and love.  When we have distressing critical attacks we can learn to address the critical voice and the shame it may be trying to pass onto us in a loving way.  We don’t even have to argue, we can agree with the critic that we are messy or absent minded or careless but recognise that such traits have nothing to do with our self worth or lovability.  As human beings we don’t need to be ‘perfect’ to be loved, we should not have to ‘earn’ love by forcing ourselves into shapes others would like us to assume or by hiding who we really are deep inside, even if we are deeply emotional and deeply hurt or angry.  All such feelings really are acceptable, but he hard truth is that in childhood and even well into adult hood we may have been around those who struggled to accept such feelings and so we learned to internalise a similar lack of acceptance.

We can also, as we grow in critical self insight and self acceptance, learn that we cannot always expect a perfect love from those around us, who in being human are not perfect either.   I struggle at times when I hear of those who suffered some neglect in childhood saying they are going ‘no contact’ with parents.  Often it is apparent the parent has suffered deep wounds, wounds they may have passed on, and I do understand if the abuse is bad the person would not want a lot of contact.  But at the same time it is true that human beings suffer in all kinds of different ways in the course of their upbringing and so often pass this suffering onwards.

When we choose to undertake a journey of inner healing we are on a course to open up to this so called ‘shadow’ material or dark side in ourselves and in others.   We are on a journey to explore all the blockages of separation, fear and guilt as well as shame that have kept us from the experience of love, we are also being called on a journey of forgiveness.  We don’t ever have to like what happened to us, forgiving does not mean we ever say that what happened to us is okay, but forgiveness is the conscious choice we make at one critical stage in our healing process when we get to see the cost of pain passed on over years, ages or generations and resent into and through our own emotional systems and in relationships and see with absolute clarity that the cost of holding onto it is too great a price to pay and solves nothing.

Working through our anger may take years.  We find it hard to let down that steely defence which in keeping us protected blocks us from truly expressing the deeper pain or sadness of the hurt we feel, grieving and mourning in order to pass through the process, releasing from deep within our cell tissue traumas that hurt.  We may never have the hurt, or anger or sadness validated by the other person. In order for many o fus to heal we most certainly initially need to seek validation from someone but most importantly in time we must learn to find it from deep within our selves and our own souls for this is where our true healing lies.

Once our reality is validated from inside it becomes so much easier to love ourselves, to know that we were always worthy of protection and care but that also life is not perfect and due to this we as humans can and do suffer all kinds of hurt and abuse.  We may think “this should never have happened to me” but the truth is it has.  Hate it as we must we have to deal with the consequences and further we have to learn how to live a peaceful and loving life from within that place in order that we don’t go on to re-enact the hurt upon ourselves or others over and over and over again.

Most certainly it helps to have a champion or companion on this journey.  In my own life the unconditional loving presence of my therapist Katina has meant so much to me.  I have and do struggle with such self criticism at times, mostly over things that were so far outside of my control, with Katina I get a reality check as to where I am being too hard on myself and I see also where others can at times be hard on me and I see that I can stand up for my truth in the face of that.  I had an incident yesterday where I had to do that with someone who was a bit of a bully and was trying to criticise me in a joking way.   I didn’t have to carry the anger of it as I took the steps to stand up for myself at the time.  In years past his criticism could have launched me into a negative spiral for some days.

Self love, self care, self compassion and self acceptance are such critical issues on our healing journey from neglect, emotional abandonment and any other kind of trauma or abuse.  These are the healing balm to counter the voices and forces of self condemnation and self rejection that we may have internalised while growing up in dysfunctional environments and societies full of shame based attitudes which can leave such a destructive lasting legacy and impact recycling for years.  Without them it is hardly possible to heal and grow as we so need to.

 

Angry with my family

Anger

I am not going to deny my anger any more.  I have legitimate reasons to be very angry at my family and my mother and sister in particular for what they put me through following the end of my marriage and even in the years before where I was just never treated with support, empathy and love.  I am sick to death of denying the truth to myself, rationalising it and minimising it.  I just spoke to my therapist and she said my anger needs to flow out and I need to find ways to do that today… write about it in your blog, draw it out or scream it out, do what ever you need to do to get it out of your system she said to me and so this blog is part of that process.  Internalised, invalidated anger has been kicking around inside my system for so long, it resulted in my accidents and in my alcoholism.  Part of my recovery is that I need to speak about it and value and validate my inner self and inner child.

I recognise what happened when I spoke to my mother yesterday when writing my blog A hollowed out shell was that by crying and becoming really vulnerable my Mum roped me into compassion.  Earlier on I had ended the conversation when she was once again telling me I needed to forget about things and put them behind me.   She called me back out of guilt to ask me to dinner and at first I said no and then wanted to relent when she showed me how much pain she was in and how insecure and unable to truly express herself she feels.  While I feel compassion for her I cannot let that over ride my own anger about what happened to me for it is anger that lets me know something hurt me deeply and wasn’t okay and that then helps me set some kind of boundary.  If I get told I shouldn’t have it or feel it that is invalidation abuse pure and simple and if the person is trying to guilt me out of it that is worse abuse.  Full stop! No argument, no debate!

I had a difficult day yesterday.  I noticed I got onto You Tube and posted some videos in two posts which although they had interesting insights don’t really help me to cut to the depth of dealing with the trauma and anger I am still carrying from the head injury that happened to me 12 years ago as the result of my sister and my mother’s meanness. At that stage I needed support and help to heal and grieve and know my truth, but I see how impossible this is to attain from anyone in my family they were just not that awake to the inner self or emotional realities.  My Mum is close to waking up but she seriously needs therapy.  I am sick of trying to be her therapist.  It isn’t my job really and she often told me that its not a good idea to go to others with your problems.  Her bottom line is that you need to work things out alone but that comes from a childhood where she was left alone and had to figure things out all alone.  Yesterday she was touching into deep realities and she told me how she feels so helpless and alone with no one much to talk to about all the things she goes through.  I want to say “well Mum get some therapy” but she never would.  So I end up being the font of all compassion but my compassion now is only prepared to extend so far when no recognition of past hurts or any apology has been forthcoming.

Second reason for anger and terribly acute body symptoms over the past few days has been unresolved issues with my living sister.  She was so awfully mean to me at the aforementioned time, telling me I was a selfish little girl and that I had had a shit of a life and she pitied me.  Oh and also going behind my back to my nephew (my older dead sister’s son) who I was really establishing a close relationship with and telling him how jealous I was of her.  Luckily at that time (just under 3 years ago now) he told me and I confronted her on the day we putting a party on for my mother.  I wish I had just walked out for at first she tried to deny it and then she said he had no right to tell me and then that she thought it was true.  But what I actually think is true is that the situation was the reverse and narcissists always believe they are so wonderful that the universe is jealous of them, why I do not know when the are such superiority junkies looking down their noses at all and sundry.  I have never been that person, as those who know me and have told me its just NOT ME.

Anyway she has softened somewhat in later years and actually did give me a grudging apology about what occurred in 2005 when I confronted her and Mum about it 2 years ago around this time of year.  But it was in no way an apology that came from her heart or truly recognised the damage done and the other day when she rang me about my tooth issue concerned to see how I was, it was I who ended up apologising to her for reacting to the horrible way she traated me.  Did I need to apologise  NO!  And my inner child is very upset with adult me about it and let me know as I woke up with shocking PTSD symptoms yesterday.  Whenever I see my sister my anxiety level goes through the roof and I was telling my therapist today that it was because I feel there is a lot of anger and hurt my body is carrying and the only way it has to come out is as anxiety.  But the mixed up irony is that as anxious as I feel I try even harder to bond with her and its a trauma bond and end up having an extra coffee with her even though its not really good for me to do it, because I feel she may be lonely.

I am aware as I write all this out it may seem like sour grapes to some.  I don’t really care as what you think isn’t my issue.  But what I need to know and see more clearly which is why I am putting it out there in black and white is how I can over ride my own impulses and intuitions. I often find my inner critic attacks my real attempts at feeling the truth of my feelings and most particularly that includes genuine expressions of anger.

Katina, my therapist was today reminding me that as much compassion as I feel I also need to remind myself that its okay to be angry.  So many of the messages around me growing up in family and Catholic school were based on anger being a ‘bad’ or negative emotion, when really anger is a signal of something from our deepest, truest inner self.  If we deny or over ride our own angry impulses we end up in such strife.  I have had so many accidents due to traumas from my past or pain replaying over in the present moment and this is one of the saddest facts about trauma,  it tends to attract more of the same to us but most particularly for those of us who were taught to value compassion, rationalisation and excuses over valid expression of anger.  So many times I have been told I better be careful as anger is dangerous, but this is only the case when it is not cleanly and clearly expressed, or if it is expressed aggressively.   We need to be so mindful of where our sore angry spots lie because when triggered they are signs of something from the past that needs to be dealt with or is calling for our awareness or attention, if we don’t pay attention we are in trouble  It won’t do us any good to act our anger out on those who really are just triggering a massive back log of past stuff but we still need to be aware that such people aren’t good to be around on a long term basis.  I am sad to say that goes for my family at present, much as I long for their love, when they are around it comes with huge reminders of pain from the past.  I have not ‘let it go’ yet, it hasn’t let go of me.

Its difficult writing this, as I was the television was just turned on by some automatic process.  I went over and Jasper my dog had his ear on the remote but what was most interesting was that it was a show called Compass and was on a priest’s life, and at that moment in time he was speaking of the ‘false ego’ that has to die if we want to fully embrace our humanity.  It made me question the wisdom of hanging onto my anger.  Maybe my sister had changed now and has soften, maybe she regrets what she did to me all of those years ago.  Maybe my mother wishes she hadn’t been so cruel to have chosen my sister over me when I was ‘too sad’ grieving at the end of my marriage.  I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.  Is my anger coming from ‘false ego’?  Is that why the television automatically came on?  I don’t know either but I am putting this in my blog as part of the mental process I go through on a day when I am trying to make sense of and deal with this anger from the past and the deep wound in me that gets triggered around this time of year.  I feel less angry now after writing this.  I have attempted to express my true reality, for what it is worth.   And I appreciate any feedback or any sharing from others about how you have dealt with your own anger.

And in the interest of openness the following are just a selection of anger quotes I came across on line :

 

 

Staying with myself : feeling my pain

BBB

I did not realise I was so sad and in emotional pain this morning.  Instead for two hours I was tussling with my body.  I got to bed far after the usual time and my eating schedule was thrown out by going to friends for dinner and eating too much too late for my body to fully digest it but really it was only when I broke down in tears this morning that i realised that what has happened was that old pain of my past was retriggered of those painful black years that were filled with so much emptiness and sadness, wandering and trauma that I did not know or could not fully feel at the time.  Last night the evening got later and later and the conversation going on about politics wasn’t really that interesting but moreso I think what I really struggled with was what came up was about all that had gone on for me before those friends got to know me overseas in the 1980s.  Once they found out last night all I had been through in the four years previous they understood why my behaviour was the way it was.

When I finally got home at quarter to midnight I just sat and cuddled Jasper and cried.  Then I had a very disrupted sleep while so much arose in my mind and the darkness fell around me in slumber after I got into my cosy warm bed.  What occurred to me is that in these past years I have been trying hard to process and digest a past full of trauma that often sticks in my gut or my throat.  There were no tears last night as my friends still drink a fair bit and there were questions being fired at me such as “what do you do with yourself all day” and when I told them “and is that working for you?”  Its a fair enough question but what can I say I am where I am at and sometimes I wish it was different and my life had been different but I cannot ever have that and so now I must sit with the reality and the pain of what young me went through over those very dark dark years.

The gift today in just being able to be with myself and allow the tears was that there was no punishing inner voice telling me I should be feeling differently.  Instead I felt that wises inner loving mother comforting me and telling me I needed to stay with it, allow the grief and let it move through me.  The inner voice told me how much I suffered and how lonely my childhood was as when I told my friends last night that each day after school I came home to an empty house they could not believe it.  One friend told me how her mother made her snacks and always asked about her day and encouraged her to do her homework, the other had four siblings and wished she could have more space!  It felt so sad to know how I didn’t have that and it did have a profound affect.  I think sometimes my attacks at that time of day are about body memory of being so alone in childhood and as a teenager and then the bike accident happened at that time of day when I took myself so far way overseas repeating the old pattern.

I have known profound loneliness.  There are times when my inner loneliness has been so painful I have contemplated taking my life.  These are the facts of my life.  I cannot pretty them up or deny them, I cannot put a ‘positive’ slant on them, they were part of my painful reality.  And I repeated that lonely pattern as it was all I really knew and I formed complex defences to tell me I needed to stay alone so as never to be hurt or misunderstood again.

At least last night I could speak about the reality.   At least last night I could be heard.  It was hard to be asked what I did all day as I felt in a way I may have been being judged.  But maybe I wasn’t, who knows.  And at times its better to be alone and feel free to feel your real feelings than have to be with those who wouldn’t let you be yourself.

The greater realisation for me today is that all of this suffering and aloneness somehow got buried in me at a bodily level.  At times my body pain is about my body and soul and inner child saying to me she needs not to be left as alone as she was in the past.  I no longer need to stay alone, but I can also accept and nurture my solitude when it is necessary,  And I am realising too that as a highly sensitive person alone time feeds my soul. loving boundaries and self care support me and go alone with the recognition towards my self and consciousness of the true nature of my deeper self as well as wounds of the past that I have carried which have scarred me into the present.  But that I also need connection with loving others at times, never to fill the hole within that must be met with my own loving presence as well as my spiritual connection, but as a way of remembering that as a humans being I do need connection for loving connection with others from a real place of truth is what most binds souls of humans and makes moments precious.

My past is my past.  It cannot be changed.  It will always be with me.  I am still exploring its affect and that is a lot of work.  I may move on from the past one day to a new life and new expression, I just don’t know, but before I can what has been needs to be fully honoured and recognised, the losses have to be grieved. And this is an act of self love, allowing myself to be with it is showing the love for the deeper part of me that was so often shamed and dismissed, first by others but later and more sadly and destructively by my self.  For I am now seeing more and more true healing and self acceptance must most surely come from within.

Desperately Sore

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Today my throat is desperately sore and raw, not from cold, not from flu, but from the pain buried deep, deep down inside that’s coming to the surface with having to have my tooth out but that is just the iceberg, the cold hard thing that has buried underneath it countless blackness and desperately sad memories of painful times and it doesn’t help to wake to a freezing house which is impossible to really warm on the minus 3 mornings.  I am reminded I had an option to move somewhere warm but that would have involved losses of things I loved here, so I’m not going to beat myself up and say I made the wrong decision.

This morning instead I have been working to honour the deep sadness and pain I have deep inside and really listen to my true self when she tells me how hard it was, because as I write this and before while I stayed in bed late keep warm I was aware of how often I have been dismissed and my pain minimised.  How often I may have been told it is not real.  Realising this I can decide to treat myself differently today, in gentle loving soothing way.  There is always something loving and positive I can do for myself.  I don’t have to follow on with words of inner condemnation and shame.

Today my therapist is away too and that is hard as I finally need to see the dentist who will take my tooth out, possibly next week.  A part of me is struggling and doesn’t want it out, its another bloody procedure but I have to face up and get through it.  It isn’t the end of the world but its also another loss so I have to walk a fine line between self compassion and self care which means doing what I have to do to take care of my health.

An empty house full of stuff in the mornings triggers negative thoughts for me right away however I got a little book out of the library on panic attacks yesterday written by a psychologist who recovered from her own panic attacks.  It is written in cartoon form and gives some really positive suggestions about how not to let critical inner voices win.   In the mornings alone on the dark grey days I am more susceptible to being captured by the negative voices.  As the writer Bev Aisbett describes this inner force it really is a downer that wants to paint everything black and heavy and I need to keep being conscious of what it is up to, so as not to be captured!

I also realised there is an other trigger for tomorrow as friends have asked me over for dinner but I have painful memories associated with the times we had most to do with each other in the years after my father died when I was in a bad way inwardly and drinking too much.   Tomorrow night I need to come clean and talk some things through with them, as I know they have changed and matured more now and they are aware I really struggled at that time, everyone in that immediate circle was abusing alcohol or drugs at the time and they don’t do that now.

Despite the fact I know I feel a lot better when I get up and get myself moving about, today I stayed in bed until just before 10 am.   I am aware its okay not to have rules and regulations my inner critic uses to keep me stuck or locked up inside, at times I need more rest and this week has been busier with getting my car fixed, but I also know the happiness that comes for me when I can embrace a day when I connect with someone or something outside of myself.

I don’t have a lot that is really positive at the moment to offer in my blog.   I am finding that my poetry has dried up somewhat.   I look on others blogs and see that mine has just puttered along, followers come and go and the precious few who stay over time mean so much to me, but I will probably never achieve the kind of popularity I see on other blogs and that is okay.   Do I really have to be popular?    In I just need to be myself  and express as honestly as I can.  I don’t have a lot of great life achievements to share in my blog, I just live a quiet life with my dog and try to look for the positive but can at times get very consumed with the negative and with the old ghosts that try to haunt me.

When winter comes and I see how over the years instead of reaching outwards I have so often isolated myself it gets painful on some days.  And then I feel that on the contrary side the inner life is really what is most important and cannot always be shared with others.  We never really know who others truly are and how they suffer inside.  One of the good things about blogging is that fellow writers share from that place which makes real honest connection all the more possible.

Writing takes me out of myself and it has worked this morning. I will do what I can to bring some love into my day.  I need to keep reaching to build a better life while keeping the connection of self compassion strong to myself deep inside so that I can comfort myself on the tough days and build myself up rather than let my inner critic tear me down.  When I show myself that softness and love the harshness melts within me as I realise how hard on myself I have been in the past and realise I can work to change that if I stay awake and aware.

Blog on

Thank you kind followers : relax Mr A

You let me struggle

You allow me to be real

You listen when I express

You don’t judge me

You press a little button ‘like’

To let me know

That just maybe what I wrote

Makes sense to you

And when you do

I just say to my inner critic

‘See!’

Skepticallly and with his usual aplomb

He raises one eyebrow with a sneer

And asks ‘Really?’

And then I just smile at him

And give him a big hug

Relax Mr A

Maybe just for today

You can let go

Cause I am safe

And the world isn’t as judgemental

As you would like me to believe

Facing the truth we buried or locked away

Child 4

It takes courage

To face and feel the pain

To leave denial behind

The thoughts and wishes that protected us

From the full onslaught of the harm

We learned to run or take distance from

When there was no witness there

And if others turned the killer energy on us

And our emotional reality

If they tried to punish or silence us

For trying to express the truth

They may force all these feelings to go mute

Or be locked so deep inside the body

We turn upon ourselves

And try to kill off our inner child

Or silence her screams of hunger, pain and hurt

We may have locked the child away

Behind a closed door

Or sent her far away

Consigning her to the bottom of an abyss

From within which she cries

But somehow with help

We must find the courage to face the pain

To give a voice to the hurt

To name the traumas

To feel and honour what was suffered

We must turn back within

Or make the long descent

To reach that abandoned little one within us

Who so sorely needs our love, belief, witness and attention

We must bring her into our heart

Hold her close to our breast

And help her to know

That she is loved

Treat anger with tenderness

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I just read a lovely post on grieving.  https://naijawomanchronicles.com/2017/01/18/the-five-stages-of-grief/ and it made me reflect upon how tied together grief and anger actually are and it made me raise this question, how much more aware and more skilful could we be as a society if we had a deeper understanding and empathy for what actually can lie at the base of anger and how often grief and anger are connected?

Anger and aggressive outbursts can be a huge factor in all kinds of Complex PTSD situations.  The frustration or thwarting of essential longings and needs in a person’s life leave huge scars as we are literally wired for connection and soothing.   To be highly traumatised due to abuse or other injury means to be have all senses on high alert, and anger is a justifed and often deeply compounded response or affect of what occurred to a person who was consistently invalidated or suffered huge lacks or losses that were beyond the person’s control.  Having a sense of how and why the person may be in pain and how anger comes from underlying pain means we are in a better situation to show love and compassion which are soothing elixars which help to calm the person down, rather than incite more pain and anger in them.

One of the reasons I feel strongly drawn to the teachings of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh is because he puts a strong emphasis on this kind of approach when dealing with intensity and anger.  As a very active advocate for peace and sensitive compassion much of his teaching concentrates on taking a soft emotionally attuned approach to the deeper wounds, grief, loss or injuries underlying anger.  I highly recommend his book Anger : Buddhist Advice for Cooling the Flames. 

In this book he explains how the best approach to a person who is suffering is to be told “I see your suffering and pain, I care about it, I would really like to be able to help or be there for you”  In this situation we don’t advise, we don’t say what we wish or hope for the person we just offer our help and our care and our love.  We don’t try to admonish the person or tell them they need to get over it, or should be at peace, we just acknowledge with kindness and empathy the deeper sensitivity or wound that may underlie the behaviour.    We can say things like “I see you are angry and that’s okay”  we can ask for feedback, we can accept where the person is and if they are still angry or won’t be appealed to in this way we may take some distance.

One of the sentences that most appealed to me in the post I mentioned above was the one that said that anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.  What might happen if when the anger was expressed we were not so scared but could see into the heart of the person crying out to love and be loved or crying out due to the losses or grief from other times?  What would happen if we could respond from this place?

I know personally how hard that is to do as I shared in a post the other day I broke up with an ex when he was really angry about something that hurt.  At the time I was blinded to the hurt beneath the anger.  I know the anger and hurt was also associated to far more than the incident with me that only served as a trigger. And for those other wounds I was not responsible and I was also powerless over the other person’s response and his anger.  After it all blew over I tried the best way I could to show love.  By then the relationship was over, but it served as a very painful reminder to me of how grief and anger can be so closely intertwined and how important it is for purposes of connection and communication to understand this connection.

Anger is just one of the five stages of grief explored in the post mentioned but it seems to be a most essential one as anger can express itself in all kinds of mysterious ways when we are grieving the loss of something or someone that was so important to us.