Finding the unconditional love for ourselves inside that we missed as children is perhaps our greatest adult recovery task. The pain of not being met or loved unconditionally or in an open receptive way can haunt many of us well into adulthood. The yearning for this love and deep disappointment over its absence may or may not be fully conscious. It may be triggered by what brings up the hurt we felt when we were not loved in this way. Re reading the Chapter I Forgive Myself in Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process this morning is reminding me of this as I read back some of my blogs from yesterday as well as comments left.
I think of my Dad’s generation and what they went through. Dad’s solution to the poverty and loss of his childhood was to get as far away from his family and war torn country as he could. He only went back to Holland briefly after Mum was sent there with my brother to try and get healing for his rickets after they were stationed in Indonesia during the late 1940s and eary 1950s. He found it too small and too confined. My mother was left there with my brother and sister who were only small for 13 months. She had to learn to speak Dutch in order to communicate. My father was nearly killed a couple of times at the hands of resistence fighters in Indonesia where during those years the Indonesia freedom fighters were engaged in a violent fight for independence. He never told me a lot about it but in later years my Godfather, Uncle Piet did. I was lucky to have the later connection with Piet who began to open up his own inner child’s grief and vulnerability in way my father could not.
Dad was taught to smoke at the age of 8 and could never give it up because when he did his feelings would start to get unmanageable. I remember one family member saying they wished he would start smoking again so his behaviour would be more placid again. Exactly what was he defending against? He kept a remote distance from us, was not unkind but he was not demonstrative and often our needs were neglected or denied or we we taught we needed to supress them. The two times we hugged where after we nearly lost our lives in a road accident and on the evening Dad revealed his cancer dignosis to me in 1984. He cried then too, as I hugged him. I value that one tender moment.
It may be hard to feel an emotionally distant parent’s love. The other parent may engage with you in unloving and hard ways, as my Mum did then you feel unprotected. Its harder to hate or be upset by the parent you cant figure out and in any case should we hate them or just what they did to us. If they had known unconditional love themselves only then would they be able to give it or if they felt it deep inside.
The point that Michael makes in this chapter I am reading at the moment is no matter how hard we search for unconditional love outside, our healing only happens as we learn to give it to ourselves. If we were raised in dysfunctional ways with upside down ideas about love, we carry that through. We attract those who will spark our wounds so we can feel them and understand them and heal. We can blame the person but he makes the point they are only the messenger. We are the ones who have to try to attune to the inner child in us that gets hurt in these kind of relationships and help her or him to be set free without shame or blame. Unconscious people attract unconscious people, or people working towards inner connection attract someone who alerts them to the need to love themselves. Its only at the end of the relationship we have the choice to deal with the emotional fallout and understand the deeper resonances of why we were attracted to this person in the first place.
Learning to show ourselves compassion and hold our own hand when we are hurting is so important. We dont have to lash out at others who dont give us what we want even if it does hurt. That said its okay to lash out too, as we are only human. The hurt we feel covers over the denied pain we long for. Passing that hurt on to others or ourselves over and over will never break us out of the destructive cycle, Only self love, self compassion and unconditional love for ourselves will, and we can apply loving discipline in this process of learning to be fully present to any pain our inner child holds in order we can feel, release it and heal.
Silence bathed in green and grey
This is a silence
Which contains no hurting
No shadow imprints of pain
It is just a peaceful open space
In which I rest for a while
As dusk steals in
To shroud me
In heart’s tender
Warmth is what I feel in my bones
When I return from you
The one who sees so deep
And allows it all
The one who recognises the truth
Of the madness of split off human ways
I am restored on some level
To my deep soul
It was always here
This soul of mine
Waiting for me patiently in silence
It knew there would come a day
When all the pain in being recognised
Would find a place
To rest inside
My soul was always willing to wait
In this still, silent moment
I know I am enough
I cried for years
With trying so hard
When it wasn’t the solution
To any wound I carried
Now I know I am loved
And I can feel love
I am comfortable in silence
Silence is no longer empty
In a hurting way
It is full
Silence you give me a home
A deep resting place
For my soul
I wrote this quite a few weeks ago and it concerns how I was treated in my last relationship. Often my grittier, real posts don’t see the light of day. I feel guilt for stating a harsh truth, setting a boundary or being legitimately angry over harsh treatment. My mother taught me she could not survive my anger and so boundaries were hard. I am posting this today to get it ‘out’.
Can you see me? Doesn’t really matter now As I see myself You will never live inside my skin and I will never live in yours But sometimes I will meet a fellow traveller on the road They will see my scars or show me theirs and we will In that one brief instant recognise each other There will be no need for fear or hiding There will only be an open embrace Not a defensive stare Or that heart breaking glare Of how dare you Strange and dangerous creature!
It isn’t my fault that you cannot see me but still it can cut Especially when you misunderstand You label me agoraphobic not knowing I have known trauma And also that as an intuitive empath I absorb more and feel things more deeply being susceptible to energies that fall off your back
You say I am too sensitive not knowing the cuts or hole of misattention that kept my boundaries open or stopped them from forming at all You can never know that due to never having been shown empathy for struggling in this way its a long process to learn who I really am and what I feel inside and to put up the barrier or stop your misguided perceptions from stealing in and wounding me takes pain suffering learning and time
For so long I hoped that you would see me But really what I now understand is that all along you only saw your projection And when I failed to affirm your limited view of things I was then a threat that had to be amputated or exiled Or an infection you had to take distance from telling me how sick I made you But then maybe just maybe you were sensitive too and due to the fact I was in so much pain I could not understand
Now do you not see me? That is okay! There are those around who see me, know me, get me. There are those too who actually think I am kind of special and great They let me be goofy They don’t cast water on my ideas and they don’t try to reign me in due to their own fears of being out of or losing control All in all it really is okay If you don’t see me Just as long as I see myse
The scar traces
Your cruelty left
Ran deep with rivulets of tears
A river of pain that flowed
From my soul
And when you scorned the river that bled
Who and what was it you denied?
Was not your own pain
Or did you just chose to forget
What it was to be small vulnerable
Lonely and hurting?
When you denied what I feel
You shut the door on your own soul
Now there is no more weeping to be done
My pain has all run dry
When I bled from your invisible cuts
It was a blood letting
Now my scars have healed
They are reminders
To never again
Expose my tender flesh
To such cruelty
Such poison barbs
Reading the seventh story in the book Beyond Borderline : True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, ‘If I were to tell you’, reminds me of how the pain we experience in our soul when we are invalidated grows. In this story the emotional pain of the sufferer became localised in her abdomen. When she went to her mother to express it, she was told ‘just take an Advil’.
We can carry so many feelings deep down in our gut. It is here that I have learned the inner child in us lives. If our needs, wants and feelings were not met, understood, responded to or validated the can get buried, often the people we are trying to connect to don’t have a strong inner connection or any empathy for our plight or sensitivity. Its something I relate to, as growing up often I was told something didnt hurt that did. Or Dad would refuse to stop the car on a long trip for a toilet break. I remember one night Mum, Dad and I went to the movies and Mum went over on her ankle in the car park. Dad kept telling her there was nothing wrong, but the ankle had a broken bone. This is just one of many incidents.
In the story above the teller speaks of how sad she became when her pain was not responded to. At the hospital she was accused of being ‘an attention seeking anorexic’. How fucking awful. Our souls need to be heard, as do our feelings. In BPD feelings begin to feel unmanageable to the sufferer as they were never mediated or soothed properly, they often become somatised. It takes so long to overcome this burying of our feelings and in order for it to happen we need empathic people around us. When our true self and feelings are not responded to our soul goes ‘dead’, we feel empty and bereft and want to die. Its not rocket science. It really isn’t.
You will hold me
As I long to be held
One day you will listen
And say oh my darling
And I will say thank you
Your heart opened to my heart
But did not close in defence
Your heart didn,t try to make me wrong
Or lead me to doubt
What I knew in my bones to be true
That soothing milk of human kindness will flow
As it needs to flow
No longer blocked
Or cancer filled
It will be love that flows
From your heart to my heart
On that day
I will find myself home
Difficult night’s sleep last night after the revelations that came to light yesterday about my older sister (who is now dead) and her suicide attempt. I felt very enmeshed coming out of yesterdays meeting with a family friend who is the oldest daughter of my god parents. The background is that my godfather, Piet, left Holland with my father in 1938 to go to Indonesia. Growing up Uncle Piet was more like a father to me, especially in later years after I got sober. He validated my pain and struggle in my emotionally neglectful family to a great degree. It was with he and my Godmother I went to stay after returning from overseas at 25. I went there (overseas) a few months after Dad died and stayed 2 and a half years. There was no place back home with my mother who was on the phone pleading with me to come home after sending me away and then told me when I arrived home she was remarrying. I left shortly after to live in another town and my God parents took me in. They took me back in when I fell pregnant in the darkest final years of my addiction and needed to have a termiantion as the sac with the baby ruptured. My sister told me many years later my Mum was questioning whether she should support me or not at that time. Thanks a lot Mum, when I needed you when the fuck were you ever there!!! (This is past anger I am working on it!)
I woke in the middle of the night with all of this going around and around in my head. A photo of my godfather sits on my bedroom table. It was taken on the day of my wedding in 1993, he gave me away and we are hugging in the photo. I cried a lot last night with missing him. He died in 2003. He was more emotionally there for me than my father ever was but perhaps if Dad had lived it may have been different. The difference was Piet was not hell bent on becoming a millionaire and sadly in later years my Dad had less to do with him because Piet was only a ‘lowly’ mechanic. I use that word to convey my Dad’s bias not mine
My Godmother and I had a difficult relationship after Piet died. I felt upset because in final years they were trying to paint him as angry and full of dementia. What was happening was that his maternal abandonment (his mother died when he was only 3) which had never been dealt with came to the fore. His daughter was telling me yesterday how she spent a lot of time with him in the later years talking about it. What if she had not done that and just tried to judge him as my Godmother did? I knew myself what he had endured and it was a part of our bond.
I like to believe my Godfather is around me in spirit. I was praying to him last night. I know he was in no way a perfect father and had heaps of flaws but he was the one male figure I felt close to.
I am having some residual anger towards my Mum. My sister wanted to strangle her for all kinds of reasons. I can get it. I still have empathy for my Mum though, but at times its tough as she has never owned her own part in emotional abandonment. She wants me to go and pick her up tomorrow night to take her to a function 10 minutes away. Partly I dont want to do it. I want to tell her to get a fucking taxi. I dare not say it! There I go miss ‘nice girl’. Maybe I need to be honest. Luckily I have therapy today so we can discuss this. I try to compensate when I know my Mum and my other living sister are in pain. My other sister’s suicide attempt 4 years ago came up yesterday too. It was the first time Mum could unburden her story about it with someone. I wish to God my Mum was in therapy, all this pain is too much to carry alone, its why her pelvis fractured several times and why she is now on constant pain meds. Feeling the feelings and being honest enough to face her part in things would free her. But she wont do it. I do feel compassion but I no longer want to sacrifice my life.
I am a bit scared at the moment as I have been reading a book on Radical Forgiveness in which the author claims that failing to forgive often leads to cancer and that often a broken heart proceedes breast cancer. I had my heart broken in the few years before my cancer appeared. I also had a lot of anger to my Mum in those years. I want to heal it, but suppressing or denying it wont help either. Its a conundrum for sure but at least its one I am gaining greater insight into lately. Feedback and comments greatly appreciated