Setting Fire to the Soul

Don’t say a word

But just come over and lie here with me

Cause I’m just about to

Set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad

I go back on the things I believe

There I just said it

I’m scared you’ll forget about me.  

I fall in love with songs, not just the words but the entire soundscape wave melody undulating inward gripping soul engaging power of another’s emotional territory put into words which echoes my own experience, past or present.

I am deeply enthralled at the moment with this lyric and the soul of John Mayer’s song Edge of Desire, most especially the line “I want you so bad I go back on the things I believe”…..echoing a strong theme my tangled Venus square Neptune ruling Pisces in the 7th house of relationships.

Born into a much older family already well established when I arrived, by accident in the early 60s I learned to observe and orient myself around others but also felt a deep disconnect.  There were not many safe places to go, to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, to be nurtured, everyone was so busy working and my sister and I got left alone.  She took her frustrations out on me at times, probably feeling frustrated at having to look after her younger sister who was full of energy and fire.  I had a wild, expressive streak.

Anyway this theme of confusion and pain in relationships, of trying to connect and yet not quiet being able to manage it, of bringing to relationships a powerful backlog of unexpressed needs, difficulties and issues was highlighted yesterday when I caught up with a very old friend.

Quite a long time ago the man she loved chose not to follow her when she decided to return to her home town.  They had both been living and working away and the relationship had hit problems, he was shutting down, not communicating and the tensions between their two very different ways of being introverted (him) and extroverted (her) were beginning to develop a void too dark to cross. I think also from what I can gather her partner had suffered, was suffering depression, or was it just a deep introversion?

Initially he said he wouldn’t make the move but later he changed his mind, just after she got used to the idea that she would be facing a move and a new life alone.  Turns out a few months later he changed his mind and said he would be taking a job in a far away town instead of moving to be with her, but could he keep calling her every Tuesday? Needless to say she drew a boundary saying it was over, angry at being messed around and deeply confused by his behaviour.

Whenever she would relate this story to me in the past, I empathised with her but I also empathised with her partner and his need for introversion, whilst feeling how frustrating it was for her.  Her needs were obviously different and she did not know how to meet him in his dark spaces.  I have had a similar experience in being depressed (deeply introverted) with a partner who did not want to understand, called me agoraphobic and was hostile towards sadness, confusion and pain.

Fast forward to 12 years later after much confusion and heartbreak a mutual friend who introduced them had a stroke and my friend knew her past lover may be unlikely to find out in any other way. Through another mutual friend she got in touch to let him know.  He asked to meet her for a coffee. What followed was a dramatic outpouring of grief and regret on his behalf as well as declarations of all the plans he had lately been making (unbeknownst to her) centred around being with her. Although they had been apart for over 12 years she had been constantly in his mind.  This was confusing to her.  How could he now profess all this, her idea of what was reality for him, was not hers?  Although I know she had been secretly hoping for this for many years.

Additionally he revealed that over the past few years he had been prospecting and he laid out before her some jewels to select he wanted to get made into jewellery for her.  At this point I started crying.  It all struck me as so very human and deeply sad, the tangled vagaries of the human heart. All the fears, tears, confusion and defences dismantling.  Tangled hopes, dreams, disappointment, frustration and thwarted desire thrown into the mix.

The telling of the entire story went for well over 40 minutes and I while it was going on I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. It was not only the emergence of the buried emotion that he had not allowed to express before that resonated for me but also the deep confusion she was experiencing in the face of long ago given up hopes being re-awakened and questions around his state of emotional health.

My friend is currently in a really secure and relatively happy position, but the return of this person to her life has now upset the apple cart.  Which way should she turn?  Should she hold out hope?  Could he be trusted?  So many questions and underneath it all a tender heart.

Her dilemma really got me to thinking about my own push pull dynamics in relationships in the past, push pulls dynamics evoked by extreme outbursts of emotion on both sides and in response too to lack of empathy shown at critical times by past partners.

In my own life the prospect of hoping to be loved again has at times opened up deep, powerful and complex emotions, emotions that would flood the landscape often triggered by some perceived abandonment or lack of attention or misunderstanding, emotions that were difficult to regulate and articulate.  These would cause confusion for others and sometimes the severing of ties.  I have also been on the receiving end of the same.

At many times in my life I have been exiled or made to feel bad for expressing very real, raw human emotion.  As a person who developed addictions as a way of coping with a lack of emotional understanding and support, it took a long time in sobriety to sort out all that had been  suppressed and so lay unmatured deep within my psyche.  Only relationship could bring those wounds to the surface in order to feel, to heal, to become aware and to grow.

Over the past few years I have begun to realise how difficult and confusing my own emotions and those of others in response have been especially where there is minimal awareness of the history of past pain carried.  I carried a huge backlog of emotions and then 7 years ago I entered into a relationship with someone who was carrying a huge backlog of their own.  Sadly they were invested in not exploring any pain, only projecting it, so I was made to carry the burden of being the one “with the problem”.  The realisation of all of this has made me very wary of relationships.  The fact is I have opened my heart and been bruised again, but the bruising had a gift and lesson within it.  It was the fuel for understanding.

After having lunch with my friend today and contemplating the echoes and synchronicities I went to visit my Mum. Despite all challenges we have had over years I am still in a process of trying to meet, engage with my Mum and find some understanding.  Over the past few months it seems Mum has had an interest in reaching out and exploring the hurts between us. I have been taking the risk of opening up about hurts and we have been talking about past issues : anger, frustration, thwarted need, miscommunication and difficulty with empathy.

Today she opened up to me about the impact my addiction had upon her in the years following my father’s death when I was 23. At this stage I was yet to find sobriety and I had a back ground of much emotional hurt, betrayal and abandonment.

Some of the background which I have shared about here online in the past was that at 23 I was already struggling in a pretty dysfunctional relationship in which I had fallen pregnant twice, two pregnancies which I had decided to terminate due to the fact that my then partner had addiction issues and I was aware the ground that I was standing on was precarious, unstable and could easily give way, no where enough support to bring in another life dependent on us.

As more background my then partner had been in love deeply before meeting me and his past girlfriend left him as her parents did not think he was good enough….according to them he came from the wrong side of the tracks. (And he was a fairly frequent dope smoker.)

Throughout the relationship I was aware things were off but I didn’t have the strong sense of self that would allow me to leave, the emotional vacancy of my own childhood had left me vulnerable, emotionally illiterate and oh so hungry.

My ex ended up abandoning me twice.  We had made plans to travel overseas.  I had been working two jobs for a year to save the money.  He left before me.  I was to meet him.  Around this time my father was diagnosed with operable stomach cancer.  He died within two months. I had to delay my departure.  A few days after his death I received a 4 am phone call.  It was my boyfriend.   “I don’t love you, please don’t come,” he said,  “I’ve met someone else”.

I was devastated.   Part of me broken.  I did not feel prepared to make a trip which now had to be altered.  I would be alone.  I faltered as I packed my bags crying.  “You must go”, Mum said.  “Dad would not have wanted you to change your plans.”  And so I went and found comfort in a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

I spent some months in London, living and working.  Later in 1985 in Greece while changing money at the American Express office I saw my ex again.  He drew me in (or my fear of being alone did?).  I allowed the hope of being together again.  I opened up the door to my heart and slept with him turning my back on the truth of past patterns that showed so clearly he did not love me.  My own lack of self love and understanding hooked me in again..  Only a few weeks later after meeting with the friend I met today by accident in Greece we both went out to dinner, he did not come.  Later that night when I returned to our room I found him fucking a girl he had met that night (or was it the woman he had thrown me over for who suddenly reappeared out of nowhere that night? I was so traumatised I don’t remember).

I only remember the pain of him calling me a crazy bitch for having an angry emotional reaction to his callous treatment of me. But I was the fool, hungry and lonely enough to be with him, burying the knowledge of his treatment of me over years and all the hurts.

Following this for the next 6 months I was spinning all around over there in Europe, no stable base, travelling, drinking, working.  I found a job in Switzerland in 1986 and while there I fell pregnant to a man I adored on the first anniversary of my father’s death, but he was also in love with someone else.  I had the termination I spoke of in an earlier blog.

I remember Mum calling me in the midst of this and telling me to come home.  We have been discussing this today. She sensed something was up but I could not open up to my Mum, just buried it all for the next eight years.  She had confronted me and shamed me following my father’s death when after reading my journal she found out about the two earlier terminations, so  why would I have trusted her with this information.

All these memories are so strong at present as the Sun is passing through the deep emotional territory of Cancer, inching close to my Mum’s Pluto in Cancere which trines my Neptune in Scorpio (as transiting Neptune has turned retrograde in exact opposition to my own natal Pluto in the first).

At times I have felt that my mother did not care.  I have been so angry at having no place to go and angrier still that the angry outbursts were misunderstood. Today I know she cared but it was not expressed in a way I could make sense of. While she was trying to draw me close, I was pushing her away with anger and rage at not being responded to in the way that I needed.

According to her, my anger scared the living daylights out of her.  She could not feel through it to the deep longing for love that underlay those fits of passionate anger the hurt, wounded, tend, vulnerable underbelly of my Saturn Mars Moon. So many times I needed the loving arms of my Mum wrapped around me, but all the trauma in our family that went down from the age of 18 meant that attention energy and care was directed elsewhere.

I witnessed my eldest sister being discarded by her own husband and then trying to take her life. Lots of drugs and alcohol to try and numb the pain and then a few years later my father’s shock diagnosis with terminal cancer and his death six weeks later. So much trauma, no time to process it, to feel it through.

After my father died my Mum’s grief over her own loss was so all consuming it blinded her to the pain her youngest daughter was going through. Yes I turned up hung over reeking of alcohol after an all night  bender after returning from overseas in 1987. I spent 6 more agony years in the wilderness of addiction before finding enough self love to reach for sobriety.

Mum said today she felt she could not reach me, she did not know what to do.  I understand : we struggled to reach each other in the way we both needed and wanted.  I had withdrawn from her in self protection due to times of hurt when her concern was felt as an invasion, taking place in secret behind my back, reading my personal journals and poems and making hurtful comments or at least comments that showed a lack of understanding.

All this hurt that I have held deep inside is like a tangled knot of Gordian proportions and my pain expressed evokes not only my mother’s own pain but also her own wound her deep feelings of  inadequacy in knowing deep down the way she handled things was ineffective, left me bleeding more, vulnerable to more toxic relationships but could not be better due to her  own history.  Tears and hugs between us today signal a melting of old defences, a reaching across a deep chasm filled with pain, loss and trauma.

When my friend was telling me today about her lover’s tears and al the precious jewels laid out I found myself crying. I felt the pain he must have experienced somewhere that made him withdraw or to hold back and sabotage his chance of connection as well as the pain of loving but not being able to express it in a way it could be understood due to being held prisioner by depression which can create huge barriers and walls between people.

I thought of the times I hurt my past love by not being there to be supportive due to the fact that things he was going through evoked my own pain from past things that had never been fully processed, pain which then expressed by me brought anger and misjudgement and even the silent treatment from him.  Emotional cut off for days.

I question my own narcissism and self involvement due to the fact of having carried pain and I recognise the pain of my friend as the pain of past partners who felt alone when I was captured by deep pain of past hurts I was trying to feel, understand and heal..

Today I have a sense of the healing balm of Neptune being poured on the deep soul searing pain of that Pluto in the first of mine that forms and opposition to Chiron in the seventh house (so much early wounding in relationships) carried on and held deep inside as both touch that sore spot Mars Saturn Moon.

Such is my legacy of Mars Saturn Moon : the deep dark pain that is a bitter fruit that has healing hidden only in the recognition deep within my soul of what was its genesis : this being my ancestral karma/dharma: a life path not chosen (or was it?) that administers to my soul the necessary medicine that in hurting grows consciousness and wisdom through pain.

I think of the words of astrologer Liz Greene for Saturn Pluto(my Mars/Saturn/Moon aspects Pluto)

Wisdom through suffering…..Purification through the ordeal by fire. 

I have burned, awake at 4 am with seering nerve burn pain of post traumatic stress due to accidents I had while running to find healing.  And it seems to me that the fire that John Mayer wants to set alight in his song is the fire that he must know inwardly burns when we long for that which in hurting us most at the same time heals.  It seems to be that true soul knowing burns and in so doing reminds us of love, of what is most true, most essential to our soul.  For there is love at the heart of the flames and it takes love to suffer the burning, the burning that transforms ash to tarnished gold and purifies our spirit through anger, through longing, through frustration and even through despair.  To keep our heart open in midst of the flames that is the task so wisdom and love can grow through the pain, through the burning.

And yet the burning must also one day surely end and then is our initiation done?  We will have garnered the necessary wisdom to step aside from that which in burning hurts us.  It seems so much self knowledge is necessary for this to happen for those of us who have been raised in Neptunian confusion, where what hurts us is portrayed as something else, maybe even something we brought upon ourselves.  Until we are conscious we will not see our part in it, since it was due to earlier patterns laid down that only suffering could make us aware of, that suffering births within us compassion not only for our own pain but for the deeply unconscious pain of others, pain they did not have the strength and courage to face.

Entering the wound – Liberating the body’s truth

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I have been sharing a little about the craniosacral treatment I have been undergoing lately to help me unwind from a life time of trauma.   My body began to bear the impact from a young age of being in a family where feelings and needs were not noticed, mirrored, affirmed and attended to.

As the youngest child in a much older family that was geared towards achievement and success there was no time to spend with anyone much.  My creative solution was to turn inward, towards books and imaginary friends.  There was a fairly happy period between the ages of three and seven when our family moved next door to a family with two children around the same age as I.  I nearly lived at their place and finally had the siblings I longed for.  Sadly this was taken away soon.

At the age of seven we moved into a shell of a house in one of the more affluent streets of my home town that was being constructed and away from the cosier comfort of our little suburban home.   Mum and Dad were working hard and wanted to upgrade to a better environment.  Energetically it was empty, dead and cold a symptom of my family’s empty focus on things rather than relationships.   I see that home as the place where we all went finally into the dark. Dad never came out of that home alive.  It was an 88 house, the number of death, destruction and regeneration.

Throughout my childhood my parents were  preoccupied and involved, they showed a dismissive, jokey attitude to my needs, as if my needs made so sense.

This was highlighted this year when following my eldest sisters death some letters my mother wrote came to light.  My eldest sister Jude took me out of that environment from time to time.  I don’t remember being cuddled or hugged.  I remember longing for my Mum to stay home from work just one day when I was sick.  She would instead leave me with a plate of jatz crackers and cheese and the recorded version of the story of Peter and the Wolf.

I have never looked into the deeper psychological dynamics of that tale, but suffice to say it was a fairly scary and traumatising tale to leave a little girl alone with.  I remember one times having so longed for my mum’s attention I developed a stomach ache and a doctor was called in and I was given an enema.  I felt sick inside and although I did not have words for the feeling then – violated.  I now know that to have been a form of emotional abuse.  That realisation has taken some years.  My mother lacked the empathy to see into her daughters heart.

Just sharing this brings up inner voices of admonishment and castigation.  “You think you had it tough?”  Today it is important that I know how alone I felt.  What the true inner reality of it was. When I started to heal the real work began.  To have my emotional reality validated was a huge ask.  And often I went to the wrong people.

Learning who I could and could not ask for validation and empathy is, of course, one of the hardest issues to confront when we have been abused and are healing from narcissistic abuse.  We are used to not being understood or validated and as a result we question our own reality.  Also when the truths we have to tell and share in order to find freedom are confronting for others, especially the narcissistic abuser who sees nothing wrong with their actions or justifies them, its doubly hard,

Luckily the craniosacral approach for me allows the living felt, embedded experiences of my life to arise naturally to awareness in order to be connected to and understood.  Under the warmth of the therapists touch I am accessing the hurting places especially deep in my abdomen where abandonment traumas, imprints and memories are stored.  Tissues of our inner body, the fascia, tighten in response to trauma.  We don’t always feel this tightening but in my case, over many years of repression and struggle to express with the wrong people, it has led to a twisted condition that never allows me a full nights sleep and pulls at me in the day, affecting digestion and assimilation.  On some days the tearing has completely immobilised me.

Today in writing this blog I lost a portion of it, The was a painstaking period of typing whilst Worpress went into extreme slow mo.  I had been sharing about how under the touch of my therapists hands I was swept back with the cranial rhythm by 30 years (an entire Saturn cycle for the astrologically minded) to the first anniversary of my fathers death.  January 1986,   I am in Switzerland staying with a woman my friends and I met while travelling and partying in Greece.  We had gone to her place in Switzerland after being invited there, my friends hoping to find work, me following the thread of connections I had made at that time.  My friends eventually left me there to go back to Belgium.  I found a job working for a UK company based there  Early that year I fell pregnant following a one night stand.  I decided to terminate the pregnancy.  I felt ashamed and alone.  In Switzerland such a procedure was performed under general anaesthesia.

My friend had promised to collect me from the hospital.  After a hour of waiting for her she did not show.  I called to find her drunk at her local tavern.  “I’m not your fucking mother.” she screamed at me.  “Find your own way home.”.  Outside it was minus 5.  I made my way to the bus stop in the snow.  At home I crawled into my little bed, a single mattress on the floor, folded up inside myself.  Inside my womb the cold dark emptiness of hollowed out need mirrored by the cold outside.    It was just another or many secrets carried for years.  I am not sure if I was capable then even of tears.  Those tears came many years later.

I have just recalled that just over 10 years ago as part of my healing I wrote the baby who I called Freya a letter.   It speaks of somethings I did not recall today.

The blackest pain, the darkest night.  I had travelled to the UK a short time following Dad’s death and my partner Jim telling me he didn’t want to see me any more as Dad’s death was too hard.  I connected with him for a time overseas and he betrayed me a year before I fell pregnant with you, Freya.  Everything was unresolved – I was a fierce creative, suffering wounds I didn’t know consciously.  Onto a mad binge of drinking and sex.   After my time on the Greek Island Ios I tried to break away from that excessive party world and crowd and travelled alone through Spain, Italy and France  – returning to Lausanne only intending to pass through. 

Blind, unconscious I got caught up with Heidi.  Sue and Carmel left me in Switzerland just before Christmas and in January you were conceived in a night of passion but I was shamed for the encounter was with a friend of Heidi’s who was involved with another woman and this I did not know.    The termination took place in a Swiss hospital.  I have deep images of a white room, of coming around alone.  Heidi did not show.  There was snow on the ground.  I waited in a bus stop on the top of the hill.  I was very scared.  

Heidi cursed me when I got home.  “I’m not your fucking mother.”  She hated her own mother.  Her mother hatred fuelled her addiction.  I was drawn into her web by resonances between us.  She must have been an echo of my mother abandonment wound, the deep wound that fuelled my own addictive hunger, Freya,  I don’t want to imply I was a victim, but I was alone, unconscious of the roots of my own deep abandoment.   

I  slept on small single mattress, A few days following the procedure Jean Pierre, your father, brought around a single rose.  I was not home.    Writing these memories now it seems impossible that I could have borne the isolation of carrying this secret for so long.  I shared it only with Sue in a letter I wrote.  She to some degree expressed the loneliness and anguish that I split off.  I treated myself and allowed myself to be treated as a discarded thing that was not worthy of attention.  In the process you were conceived and then your life was sacrificed, Freya. 

I have remembered the pain and anguish of loosing you Freya.  I am reminded every month when my blood flows  At this time I remember it all.  That was 17 years ago this January.  I accept it now, I allow this grief a place. The grief got buried deep, but over these past few years it has begun to be grieved.  Like all of the griefs we suffer,  a portion remains and becomes the seeding of who we become.  You are always with me, the memory of you living inside me, if only briefly.  I won’t forget you or that part of my past, hard as it was.  Today I can even see some light in it.   If you had come to term, today you would be 17.   I could not care for you, darling, sweetheart.  I did not yet know how to love and care for myself. 

I have just retrieved that letter from my underwear draw where I keep it in a white mesh underwear bag,  It feels good to give it air.  To release it, to understand more the part of me that suffered such guilt over these things.  To realise it was all part of a far larger pattern than I could even see then, when I wrote it in 2003.  I can see today that having Freya could have been part of my healing, too.  But it was not the decision I could endure at that time.

One year after writing this letter, my marriage went into the fire.  I could not give my husband the child he longed for, had terminated another pregnancy which occurred less than a year after I got sober.  In unthawing I was suffering depression at times.  The depression followed a termination of  therapy in the UK that could bring me healing and understanding of the core of the narcissistic damage I suffered in my family.   But my journey was to lead me back to Australia to the cocoon that was the genesis of the wound, so that over 10 long years I could wrestle here with my demons and my angel could be birthed through the process that seeds new awareness.

My husband told me in 2003, not long after I wrote this letter, along with five others to the other aborted children  “I want back the happy girl I married, not this person I see in front of me now.”  It was a slap in the face but he spoke for his own need to erase a deeper truth about painful choices that wounded my capacity to connect deeply.

Within a year or two he left me and shortly found a less damaged partner who could eventually give him a child.  The ultimate hurt, he shared this with my mother many month before he told me.  Was he protecting me?  It must have been hard for him.  He could not hold me in my pain.  Over long years I have been no stranger to invalidated pain.

Maybe my need to heal, to feel my pain not only over this but over the loss of my father was too much of a mirror.  He had lost his own Dad to cancer at the same age as I.  He was suffering a similar depression (from unresolved feelings) when we moved back to his home town in Cambridge.  I now understand why.  It was all part of our journey.  I was to spend 10 more long years in the dark, bringing this all to consciousness.

This morning I awoke following a craniosacral session yesterday.  Miraculously my body after a week of severe twisting and contorting, settled.  The Sun crossed over my natal Pluto in the first house on Tuesday, awakening the imprints of Chiron Pluto, Saturn, Mars, Moon pattern laid down over 52 solar cycles.

The 35th anniversary of my car crash is very close at hand. I have had a wracking cough and my body has been throwing up a lot of gunk this week, purging me of the impacted secret and embedded substance that has choked and clogged me over these cocoon years.

I am aware of how much love it takes to heal.  And of how far I have travelled and of the gifts of sobriety which allows me to feel the truth of what I had to repress and struggled so painfully to truthfully feel and heal.

This morning I am grateful for the sunshine, for my little dog Jasper who has waited so patiently and is longing for the company of the dog park.  I am grateful that today I am not stuck in Post Traumatic freeze, that I can venture out and embrace the light, warmth, company and sunshine and connect with the present, not sucked down by the past.  Mostly I am grateful for the love that allows me to feel and to heal what has been buried.