Some thoughts on forgiveness

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I am reading another interesting book on forgiveness at the moment and it is making me contemplate the subject anew as I often do.  I know for a fact premature forgiveness that does not take on board or in some way seems to excuse perpetrators of abuse can be detrimental to the recovery of our true selves.  We live in a culture that tends to defend against intense emotions telling us that to be sane we have to ‘play it cool’.  Its very much part of the ocker (or Australian culture I grew up in) this disparaging kind of ‘cool’ or looking askance upon tenderness, sensitivity, deep soul anguish or longing.  I’m actually watching a new season of The Bachelor in Australia at the moment and one of the girls who just left the programme after being rejected has been dubbed “a stage 5 clinger” on social media as she fell hard for this year’s bachelor.  Admittedly she is young and wide eyed, but she is also golden, honest and open and expressive in her feelings and it kinda bites me to hear her described in this way.

Anyway I have gone a bit off track but the thing is in our culture you aren’t allowed to be excessive or tender in any way… its seen as a sign of madness  and this is even if you have been driven to excess or emotional overload by abuse or trauma that would drive anyone half mad.  Things are slowly changing in our awareness but its still very hard to be authentic in this culture and not be roasted in some way.

When it comes to forgiveness its appears to me that anger and rage have to be felt towards those who hurt us, we need to know what happened was detrimental and had bad effects but holding onto it too intensely although perfectly understandable can also obscure the wider picture and the more honest reality of what a perpetrator suffered in their own life, since they were also a victim at some stage.  In the end forgiveness is to let ourselves off the hook not the other person and that said its not even necessary for some.  Some people can hold onto not forgiving and be happy about it.  That is fine but for others it can damage us.

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For me the anger we feel at abuse or disregard is a message to us from our True Self about what we can and will and will not tolerate. Sadly in the end we dictate how we will be treated by others by what we are willing to accept.  If we don’t feel we have the right to stand up for ourselves or are somehow ‘mad’ or ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ for doing so we will never have good boundaries and our immune systems as well as our physical and psychological and mental and emotional health will suffer as a result.

In the end whether or not we forgive is up to us.  For me I have felt in my own journey moments after intense grief of coming to a point of greater and deeper clarity as to why I was treated by someone as they did.  Often there was no malice or intent, often it was ignorance or psychic blindness that led them to treat me as they did, or else they split off part of their vulnerable self and projected it onto me or judged me without looking any deeper than a surface level of morality or superficial interpretations of wrong or right.  Seeing such things has helped me to have better boundaries.  It means I don’t have to cut away as much as I used to.   And at times lately I feel my soul flooded in the deepest forgiveness as I see the mistake at the heart of things that is both multigeneration and collective.  Its hard to express in words but those moments of transcendent forgiveness alter me deeply and restore me to a place of peace that would never have been possible for me as long as I held onto thoughts of anger or vengeance towards perpetrators.

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https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/reflections-on-empathy-forgiveness-and-narcissism/

The body bears the burden : and is the place of healing

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One of the legacies of unresolved trauma in my life, and of not having formed a good connection to my natural instincts was that over years, I became disconnected from my body.  The pain in my body or the joy that comes from feeling, at least to a significant  degree, embodied is a great gift.  Trauma and the resulting lack of embodiment in my own life, not only led me to addiction, but addiction, contributed to the numbing and loss of embodiment in my life, of my true soul.  A kind of soul loss.   Healing from addiction and putting down substances, meant coming alive to painful buried truths that lived in my body.  It has made me aware that the often dismissed or neglected symptom in trying to get our attention, reminds us of our true story.   As Alice Miller has written, while the mind may lie to us about what we have experienced, the body never does.  We just need to develop the ability to listen to what it has to say.

This blog is prompted by the fact that I am back working with a cranio sacral therapist, who I linked up with in 2008.   Sadly I have had two aborted therapies with so called “somatic” therapists who rarely ever laid a hand on me.  While I appreciate the gift of being able to talk about what has happened to me, I feel there is a greater integrity and genuineness of letting the body speak to me of its truth.  There is a reality there that is alive and burning with energy, longing to find a vessel or avenue for expression.  It is amazing to me that when the energy of the therapist’s hands meshes with my body and spreads a warmth into it, the places that are contracted. hurting, or hold old painful imprints, become awake and have a story to tell that emerges into the mind spontaneously.   Release occurs as energetic imprints shift and transform prompted by the warm, trust and holding of the therapist.  This is work that reaches far beyond the mind. 

In session, while lying there I am conscious that there is a pulsation to life which runs through this body and which in energetic intonations of tingling, or stabling or vibration speaks a language that, in the hands of empathetic mirroring and validation can help lead me home to embodied truth and wisdom. 

I have shared before on this blog about my painful, middle of the night symptoms.  I have become aware that in the depths of night the body unconscious is more awake and sending messages.  They are energetic messages.  Sometimes I will get a vision or a sense of the association back to some trauma in my past, but dealing with this alone has been very difficult.  Dreams images are another way the unconscious speaks to me about these kind of truths through the body/psyche.

I shared in an earlier blog about a dream I had, at the end of my marriage about a little girl who was in a change room with a barbed wire coat hanger sewn through her shoulder, that I was trying to disentangle but was so deeply enmeshed I could not.  It is interesting today that after moving from my legs to the sacrum, in feeling her way and dialoguing with me, my therapist and I were both led towards this shoulder and an area to the right side of the heart. 

The right side of the body is associated to masculine energy.  This side was also the site of the major trauma of my first accident, when my lung was punctured by a broken rib.  It deflated as I was trapped in a crushed vehicle.  It took over an hour to be cut out and in that time the paramedics came from behind me with an oxygen mask.  Feeling as though I was drowning and being unable to breathe this was terrifying.  This imprint (which I have worked with before) came up but what also emerged was my attachment to and longing for my father’s emotional presence.  As I do sometimes when I think of him I hear in my head a call coming from a long way off “I’m in the garden.”  My father died just a month before my 23rd birthday.  He wasn’t an abusive man, but neither was he emotionally demonstrative or present and engaged.  He took flight from Holland at age 18 at a painful and scary time, the outset of World War Two.  He didn’t speak a lot. My memory of his presence was that he would come home from work and say hello, but then retire to the garden. 

There was a deep sense within me of our similarities in nature, gentle, thoughtful, a little withdrawn, but also of an emotional disconnect or absence. My father lost his own father at age 7.   This theme of disconnect or loss around the father is one that has dogged me and has led to many painful relationships with emotionally absent or shut down men  It is also an ancestral pattern.  My mother also lost her father at 7 years of age.  Separation from or loss of a father was a theme that has gone back over three generations on my mother’s side of the family  At present transiting Mars is on Neptune in the third in square to the Sun in the seventh house which signifies not only the outer but inner father.  Developing a strong inner father has been a major theme of past years, for me, especially of the midlife transition.  And I have had five major relationships which ended in some kind of loss.  Today I was very conscious of the pain around my heart and emptiness that was present inside. 

The beautiful thing today, though, was that once I could feel these feelings a warmth and tingling began to flood into the area that before had felt empty.  My therapist felt it as well.  Much came up to speak about. There were tears but also a calm recognition of some powerful inward truth.

It is now some day since I wrote the above.  On the night of my treatment, the warmth and relaxation, the profound sense of homecoming led to a beautiful sleep. On the following morning I awoke, pottered around home, and listened to The Carpenters song.  We’ve Only Just Begun.  It was deeply resonant for me. This traumatic journey has been long but to feel the sense of opening to my body, of being held and supported through the cranio sacral work took me into a place of hope and peace.  Like a flower unfolding my petals felt open and love was flowing through my heart and indeed I felt like at the age of 52 my life was indeed beginning on some level. 

Listening with my Heart

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Attentiveness and empathy are so important and it heals my heart to be around little children with their beautiful openness and inquisitive nature.  I was really sad when visiting my nephew a few months ago to hear his little son saying ,”Dad, Dad, Dad” and being ignored.  He is such a deep and serious and soulful little boy and so gorgeous to be around.  Inspired by this I just wanted to post the following quote from Alice Miller to encourage everyone out there to develop and open their inner empathetic, listening ear.

“If we are not open to what the other person is telling us, genuine rapport is hardly possible.  We need to hear what the child has to say in order to give our understanding, support, and love.  The child, on the other hand, needs free space if he or she is to find adequate self expression.  There is no discrepancy here between means and ends, but rather a dialectical process involving dialogue.  Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening in attentiveness to the other person.  In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.  It is a different matter for parents or educators who would like the child to be a certain way or think they must expect him to be that way.  To reach their sacred ends, they try to mould the child in their image, suppressing self expression in the child and at the same time missing out on an opportunity to learn something.  Certainly abuse of this sort is often unintentional; it is not only directed against children but – if we look more closely- pervades most human relationships, because the partners were frequently abused children and are now showing unconsciously what happened to them in childhood.Alice Miller

The subject of listening has been very much on my mind this week.   A while ago I came across the following quote:

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it.

Rachael Naomi Remen

I was at my support group meeting on Monday and one of the members was talking about listening, and more importantly about how she came to understand that she wasn’t really very good at it. This made me think a lot about listening. Sometimes, I can get so caught up in the chatter in my own head that I am not really present and listening to what you are saying. In recent years I have begun to be more aware of this tendency and am working to change it. So now, when I listen, I am consciously beginning to question whether or not I am really listening or running an ongoing commentary on what you are sharing rather than listening with my heart. Practising mindful awareness, when I notice I am drawn away by my thoughts from my heart I use my consciousness to listen from here.

Another issue comes to mind in this writing and it’s about resonance and empathy. After having the issue of being an empath brought to my attention this week I have been made aware that at times when I am listening it is not just a listening with my ears but a listening with my very body and being which then sets up a resonance. Last week another group member was sharing about going through a separation from someone with a personality disorder which made them emotionally abusive. Her experiences mirrored my experience and part of the way through her sharing I had the real felt experience of my stomach being torn apart by the most violent spasm.

This week when I was experiencing some really deep feelings of pain around an issue and when I went to someone hoping for a listening ear and a resonance, what I got was an interpretation with suggestions of how to ignore or actually work to override the experience of being in this situation. During this discussion as my body picked up and expressed the pain of not being received and heard, once again my stomach went into violent spasm, a spasm that was only relieved when I rang another friend and was able to honestly share my experience and be heard.

This experience has helped me to realise that at any time if I really pay attention to myself and listen to myself, the answers come back loud and clear as to what helps me and what hurts me.  As a child I was taught to override these signals or maybe being too sensitive I began to turn to substances at times to dull the ache of feeling too much.  Although its not a great experience to feel that kind of pain, at least now I can feel it and know it for what it is.  Even if others try to lead me astray I can keep listening to myself. One thing I feel is certain I will be stronger and happier when I do.

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The Dark Side of Soul Mates

I was just editing some of my recent posts when another blogger’s post about Soul Mates caught my eye.  Not an hour ago I was re reading over my old journals which were fraught with attempts to make sense of an extremely painful relationship in which I was involved for over four years.  In this relationship there were constant battles with emotional expression. I would say my ex was a narcissist.  Certain emotions were taboo, especially grief.  Just expressing my vulnerability may trigger an attack, and so my feelings would bank up and I began to experience a lot of symptoms of repressed anger.

It seems easy to write this now that it has become clear after a few years of therapy, but at the time it was hell on earth.  At that time I was not in therapy, though my ex was telling me all the time that I needed to be since I was the one with a lot of problems.  I was ordering every book on Anger and googling Narcissistic Personality Disorder and buying books on that too to try to make sense of it.  At one point my ex told me “Don’t you dare put any of those psychology books in the room where my son, sleeps,”  Suffice to say it was painful to watch that relationship from the sidelines.

This theme of repression of emotional expression has been one of the ongoing themes of my life.  Those of you who are astrologically aware will know what I am saying when I mention I have the Mars Saturn Moon aspect, which is associated with difficulty expressing feelings.  Also people who have it tend to be placed in a position where their wills are thwarted by stronger wills.  In one dream I was shown an image of what happens in this situation.  There was a gun pointed at my own head, held by me.  The dream showed me how to turn it around.  This was the beginning of my repressed anger becoming known.

We often think romantically and idealistically about soul mates.  But as people such as Thomas Moore have noted maybe there is a darker side to this phenomena.  A soul mate may be someone who comes into your life to teach you a lesson that you need to integrate certain qualities that are in your shadow, difficult to express, hidden or disallowed by parental and social conditioning.

In my journal of that time I wrote:

I know that this time I must honour and guide and protect my precious child.  She has been given away too much, suffered alone and swallowed down so many painful feelings for so long.  There has been very little willingness on Mum’s part to look at any of her patterns and there are strong narcissistic and manipulative patterns there under all the lovely Mum qualities.  At present I am doing battle with and separating from those.

I know I need to strengthen, feel more fully into the pain and disappointment and  grief over Mum’s refusal to validate my feelings and be there for me.  But I do have compassion.  How could she tolerate it when her own was so stifled?  “Nice girls” don’t do that.  And a lot of it was the conditioning of the time.

Perhaps there is a chance I can move out of child to X’s strong adult and be an available adult for myself by honouring my inner feelings. The pain of his neglected child is deep but he is not ready to acknowledge it.

And then a I had inserted a quote from a book I was reading by Alice Miller titled, The Truth Will Set You Free.

She gives an example of how our bodies carry the burden.   The high price we pay in health to be barred from knowledge of what we suffered, citing the experience of man from the Communist Party who “attempted to engage in an exchange with his colleagues about the view that violence and the desire for power are learned in childhood, and that the subject of education by the use of force should be integrated into Marxist thinking.  He endured virulent animosity..  did not sacrifice his views.  Developed arthritis in his feet, decided to leave, notified them in writing and in so doing evoked

“massive anxieties bound up with the abandonment he suffered as a child of a religious family with strict Protestant rules of discipline, a child who never had the right to his own opinions without the threat of punishment and emotional abandonment.  To his surprise and joy three hours after giving his notice, the pain in his feet disappeared.  He saw this as proof that he had succeeded in refusing to perpetuate the situation he had been in as a child and in breaking out of a state of dependency that, although affording him the illusion of security in the past had started to stifle him.  The man was astounded at the speed of the bodily response to his action. He knew, though, that this was not a case of “miracle healing” in the usual sense of the term but the logical consequence of his decision to walk out of the prison in which he had been incarcerated.”.

Synchronisitically I had just experienced an inflamed elbow at the visit of my mother and sister and a very strong transiting Mars aspect was taking place with my natal Mars Saturn Moon.  And also in the relationship with my partner I had been experiencing ongoing symptoms.  The body doesn’t lie.

My journal then continued:

Today the Moon is waxing onto Saturn so all of X’s defences are being triggered.  I feel it in his hard, defended hug, in the tyrannical way he bats away emotions.  Funny but T laughingly calls him the tyrant. My heart aches and I long for someone softer and more understanding.  But then part of me thinks “Didn’t I get just the partner I needed in order to grow and learn?”  Isn’t this just a challenge to my soul to become stronger?

It took me a long time to learn to stop looking to someone who could never give me what I needed.  Eventually he ended the relationship and the pain was intense as it triggered all the other abandonments of my life. In the end the only was to stop trying to contact him, get a good therapist and let go. That process took about a year. I had to go cold turkey to save my sanity since I was continuing to repeat and persist in futile attempts that were a replay and bound to end in frustration. It took a lot of work and I now feel free and have clarity.

Certainly the synastry aspects between both our charts were very strong and indicated this would be a very Plutonian relationship, powerfully transformative in either a positive or negative way.

I read somewhere once that the definition of a soul mate is not the one you mesh with but the one you have conflict with that challenges you to grow in your soul and in every other way too.

So though it ended in tears about 6 months later I did find my soul mate in X.

That’s why I think a Soul Mate may have a dark side and if we can accept it, and grow through it and integrate the lesson we can move forward into the light.

Chrysalis…emergence from the pain of the lost (true) self

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Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood. Is it possible to free ourselves altogether from illusions?  History demonstrates that they sneak in everywhere, that every life is full of them – perhaps because the truth is so essential that its loss exacts a heavy toll, in the form of grave illness.  In order to become whole we must try, in a long process, to discover our own personal truth, a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom.  If we choose instead to content ourselves with intellectual ‘wisdom‘, we will remain in the sphere of illusion and self deception. 

The Drama of Being a Child

Alice Miller

My name is Deborah..  For many years I was lost,  the bridge between myself and others was shattered by events in my history and in my family, but even before those events I wandered with a sense of deep aloneness in my soul, restless and seeking.  From an early age it seemed I watched from the sidelines and saw further and deeper into things, but there was no place of affirmation and so very early on I began to use a journal to write and find an avenue of expression for my soul.

At the same time I experienced much confusion due to the neglect and emotional abandonment of my parents.  These wounds were all invisible and would take a long time to bring to light, since I was provided for physically, however the emotional connection was absent and as my family of much older siblings began to break apart I suffered a deep sense of growing disconnection and dissociation, which I have come to understand through therapy and inner work on my emotional recovery are core symptoms of Complex PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

At the age of 17  I suffered a massive motor vehicle trauma.  My left femur was shattered, my ulnar bone and ribs were broken leading to a punctured lung and I was trapped in a crushed car while rescue workers and paramedics worked to free me.   It was a painful and frightening experience, that left deep imprints on my soul.  I was placed in skeletal traction after being operated on and spent the final semester of my schooling in hospital.

Six months following this my eldest sister lay down on the floor after weeks of headaches and a blood vessel burst in her brain, she entered a coma and hovered there for some time. Following this other painful events followed.  Our family began to shatter which led to more broken attachments.

Several years later my father was diagnosed with cancer and died within six weeks.   By the age of 23 I was certainly suffering from as then undiagnosed and untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and attempting to medicate that with alcohol. And life was due to spiral even more out of control over the next 8 years as all the complex emotions surrounding these experiences and from my lonely childhood were more deeply buried in my body.

Immediately following my father’s death my partner of the time decided it was all to hard to cope with and met someone else.  In truth I now see he had never really loved me.  Throughout the entire relationship he would refer to his ex girlfriend who was the love of his life.  Our relationship was not real, it was based on illusion, he was a dope addict and we were both using drugs addictively for some time.  Our entire relationship was based around getting high.  At the age of 23 I was in a fog and suffering from psychic blindness.  In that relationship I had my first two terminations of pregnancy.  Emotionally unnurtured and immature I knew on some level I would not be able to give a child what it most needed.

Our plans to meet overseas and travel were cancelled in a 4 am phone call.  The deep psychic suffering I was in and the grief, all of which I could not feel or share with my family I drowned down with alcohol.  One month following my father’s death, pushed away by my mother, scared and confused I travelled alone to England, and worked and travelled through Europe.

Intimate relationships were fraught with difficulty all during those years.  I had weak boundaries to non existent boundaries, was highly sensitive and receptive emotionally and energetically and had next to no emotional insight into myself.  Due to my history with my parents and siblings, I had the pattern of attracting partners who would abandon me and were emotionally illiterate (suffering what I now know is as Alexithymia – a difficulty naming and processing emotions), shut down or absent as I was to my inner self.  In truth, I too found it impossible to sustain emotional intimacy.  During that entire time I was cast out on so many occasions by people who did not understand the deep inner pain my addiction hid.

Bizzarely fate brought me into contact with my ex in Greece during that time and due to my lack of self care and boundaries I allowed him to use me for sex further and then abandon me when he found someone more together emotionally than I was.  Sad as it is to say.  I really believed on some level I did deserve this kind of treatment.  I should have had a sense of outrage for myself.  But due to the pain of my past I had not learned about psychic boundaries.  Because I was not respected, I learned not to respect myself and so promiscuity, tied with alcohol all became part of the picture.  I was an open target for predators, due to the pain of my past and the lack of value that was shown towards my deepest feelings and needs and towards the sanctity of my body in childhood.

The list of invasions to my psychic and physical boundaries I could list here.  Having my personal journals read and then being mocked or diminished for the feelings, having my arm pulled out of my socket by being swung around, being tickled past the point of distress and pain and having my cries to stop unacknowledged, having my foot burned due to my mother leaving a bucket of boiling water under it in one of her cleaning frenzies on a caravanning holiday.  Having a fishhook stuck in my big toe that was left on the floor.  Being told you really are a clumsy child, just too sensitive, such a drama queen.   These are just some of what is abuse but took me years to recognise as abuse.

I will not go further into the details of the next painful 9 years suffice to say that at 31 I turned up at an AA meeting and finally found the key and modicum of self respect and care for myself to put down substances.  And so my journey to recover and heal myself began.  It took 10 more years and the ending of my marriage to discover my co-dependency, which lay at the core of my addiction.  To begin the recovery of what Charles Whitfield and others have called the real or True Self, from within the prison of the false self, well that would take 20 years and is still ongoing.  It has been a massive work which led me to breakdown and the dark night of the soul about which I am writing here.

I now see that all these experiences forced me inward to develop the most important relationship, the one with myself.  However nurturing empathetic relationships with others who understood were very important.  The problem was, due to my history I was not likely to attract these.

I have learned, the nature of our relationships is always a product of the nature of the relationship we have with ourselves and that relationship is so strongly influenced by the one we have with our parents and by the nature and quality most early significant attachments. Also if we do not learn to develop a relationship with our deepest feelings and needs and learn to act on behalf of them we end up with a deep problem which can and does lead to illness.  For me the feelings that I could not express began to be experienced somatically.  At the age of 31 I sought help for my addiction through Alcoholics Anonymous, a great river of sadness that I had been holding began to break open but new problems came with developing the power to express and feel my own truth.

In my quest for healing and in order to attempt to build a bridge with my then husband’s family we moved over to the UK from Australia.  I moved  away from those rooms of AA because it felt that on some level I was questioning things that just did not gel.  It seemed I was being blamed for being an addict and being told it was a life sentence when really the addiction was an avenue I took due to my difficulty with honoring and expressing feelings.  That I had developed this difficulty was not my fault, it was a result of my history. It was in the UK that I embarked on my second attempt at therapy.  An attempt which sadly was aborted due to fear and the deep psychic calling I felt to return to my father’s house by the sea which was the place the represented to me the smash up of those Plutonian years 1978-1986 and offered me a place of rest and healing that I needed.

In truth I needed to be alone with my soul.  So in 2001 feeling great sadness and ambivalence we returned, I aborted therapy and eventually my marriage of 11 years fell apart.  There as Neptune began its slow passage over all of my personal planets I entered the dark night.  Three years later fate bought to me the last painful relationship which was the final attempt to be heard by someone else and the most essential learning of my life.  That until I could love for, care and nurture me, no one else was going to do it.

I have learned that the most important need of the child is to be mirrored and affirmed for her true self.  To have his or her feelings and needs reflected back and made sense of.  This was not possible for my parents, due to their own issues.  I was taught early on to deny pain, that injuries should not hurt and there were many injuries, especially physical ones that have only come to awareness in later years.  At times I was laughed at when I was injured, sent to my room when I tried to express anger, or had my boundaries invaded in ways which, as a young child I was not aware of.

So much of what we experience in childhood remains inside us, not as a memory, especially the earliest experience, but as a deep psychic and sensory energy or vibration that is just felt.  Before we develop and fully formed ego, and that depends on the ability of our parents to adequately mirror us, we are just immersed in a sea of sensations.  Assaults on our person are stored in the body.  The work of Peter Levine into trauma shows that imprints of traumas stay in the body as a psychic imprint and then later try to work their way out.

I think it was Freud who gave the name repitiition compulsion to this process.  Alice Miller talks about it in many of her books, but most especially The Drama of Being a Child, from which I have quoted at the beginning of this article.

For me the path of grief and loss due to the loss of relationship with myself  led into the dark night of addiction and then to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and then out again in a quest for a deeper understanding than I could find there.  I was not a defective character, my soul was in mourning for the loss of myself and I never learned to separate who I was from others because I was so sensitive and receptive. I had never been taught the skills to care for, nourish and protect myself.  I had an open heart and also a hunger to receive the love that it was hard for my parents to show me.

When the traumas of my early adolescence hit, I had no resources to deal with them and so I began to turn to alcohol to numb my feelings: a practice that was encouraged by my father and elder sister, who sought a drinking buddy.    In the absence of support in the face of these traumas, also I learned to deny them and bury the pain inside… But what was buried had to emerge and it took many years of recovery for that process to begin to unfold and unravel, a process that is still ongoing today as I learn how to nurture myself and care for my spirit in nourishing ways.

Broken attachments underlie addictions.  Broken or insecure and inconsistent attachments leave us traumatised and alone and very confused and insecure when relating.  They lead us to isolate or seek other avenues to alleviate the distress.  When the bridge inward to our heart and feelings, to our deepest core nature is blocked, we suffer and this suffering takes the form of an unconscious longing and grief.  Charles Whitfield, John Bradshaw and Alice Miller write that it is only through developing the capacity to do our grief work, to mourn for what was lost that we recover and find our way home to our true self.  It is only in understanding our history and its impact that we come home.  For, from out of the depths of aloneness and through the recognition of our deepest suffering we pay the coin to the ferryman which will take us across the dark ocean to the distant beautiful shore of sunlight, grace and love which is our true home.

For a long time I wandered, seeking the way back to my heart and my home.  In the Divine Comedy Dante writes.

In the middle of my life I found myself in a deep dark wood.

That is where I found myself in midlife.   There was fog all around. It has been a long, long,  journey to find a path through that tangled wood, to understand the nature of and mend my fractures, a journey with many twists and turns which led at times to the re-traumatisation of unconscious injuries which rose up in order to make more clear the nature of the initial trauma.  It has been a journey that has taken me  through deep ravines of pain and suffering and periods of extreme isolation and aloneness within which I was trying to develop a new relationship with myself.  Such a journey is not uncommon in midlife, when the deep needs and scars of the soul can rise up and ask of us a finding of a new way to express and free our trapped spirits.

Slowly I am finding my way home to myself.  When I feel the truth inside my body I am home.  When I feel the tears flow.  When I can feel great joy and revel in my darling puppy’s excitement and play without censoring.  When I can laugh and sing and dance and feel the vast awesomeness of a dappled sunset I know I am coming alive and finally emerging from my chrysalis and the dark night experience of my soul to be fully awake and alive on this amazing planet which is earth.

My journey through the dark has led me to deep aloneness and through my ability to remain in that to a deeper feeling of connection with the earth and the collective of which I am a part.  Some degree of aloneness I do feel is essential to birth ourselves as individuals.  Paradoxically the more deep my capacity for solitude the more deep my capacity for intimacy is.  I need periods of rest and quiet contemplation to feel my connection with my feelings and with life.  For me without that ability to be with and see into me (intimacy) I am lost to myself and to others.  With it and through it I am connected to humanity and to life.

To begin to learn that I had a right to live my own life and be me, well that is the biggest lesson of all.  Sometimes in order to grow I may have to leave behind that which no longer serves me.  This isn’t selfishness.  It is a sign of self respect.  And the deeper truth is that is it in learning to love and care for ourselves that we learn to love and care for others.