The need to express

When we share what is emotionally important to us, we learn to connect with others in a meaningful and healing way.  This applies to sharing concerns that excite and please us as well as those that frighten or depress us.  Perhaps there was no more detrimental consequence of our childhood abandonment than being forced to habitually hide our authentic selves. Many of us come out of childhood believing that what we have to say is as uninteresting to others as it was to our parents.

Authentic sharing can be triggered and sometimes flashes the survivor back to being punished or rejected for being vulnerable. 

As deep and meaningful connection with another becomes more available and frequent, the survivor increasingly experiences the shrinking of his abandonment trauma.

Pete Walker

How important it is for us to speak the truth about what happened to us.  How difficult this can be for so many of us who perhaps were not allowed to know, or had to develop defences of dissociation or repression to deal with childhood trauma.

Dissociation from trauma is very common and is a result of having had no one to really connect to at the time, no one who could be emotionally present.  In addition it comes as a result of what happens when our authentic feelings of anger, sadness or fear where shamed and invalidated by those around us.  The result of this is that later when we need to feel these feelings we cannot as our expression of feelings are blocked by shame.  We may hear voices of the inner or outer critic telling us there is something wrong with us for feeling this way, we are being too sensitive, over dramatic or worse even making it all up.

In his book on Complex PTSD from which the above quote is taken Pete Walker discusses the essential healing work of grieving which involves the feeling the blocked or shamed feelings of anger, sadness and fear that accompanied our traumas.

When legitimate feelings of anger over violations or hurts were blocked we cannot feel our valid sense of outrage, and if we were shamed for being angry or sad those feelings can be walled off. We develop an internalised punishing or critical shaming voice when we feel or even try to express these feelings.  This is why in recovery it is important to find those who will help us to confront and overcome this shame, those who will hear us, validate us and encourage us to experience and express our legitimate emotions.

So often what happens instead is that as we begin to recover we actually attract others who may seek to shame us in ways we were shamed in the past.  For our own recovery it is necessary to develop enough strength and wisdom to notice when this is happening and to allow ourselves a legitimate feeling of outrage which would prevent this from occurring in order to have good internal and external boundaries.

Self negation is not uncommon for those of us who in childhood were unseen or unheard, left alone in our distress and with painful feelings that were too much to cope with at the time all alone.  These feelings then get driven inside us, deep into our bodies.

This week in therapy I have been reliving the distress of my dental trauma which took place over two years in my teens.  Last Saturday in the process of trying to contain powerful emotions of anger and distress that were emerging as part of my chiropractic treatment I bit down hard on a piece of plastic with the result that I tore part of the veneer off my bridge.  At the age of 17 I lost two of my front teeth as the result of a car accident just a few months after the braces had been removed from my teeth.

Part of the painful orthodontic trauma of the previous two years involved the removal of four teeth, bracing of my teeth and then the wearing of a bridle like head apparatus that strapped around my head and pushed into metal inserts in my teeth pushing my teeth back against my skull.  I had to wear it over night (f0r how long I now cannot remember), I just remember the pain and ache of having to wear it and the sense of deep natural outrage that I was not allowed to express.

Yesterday as I was crying over this after coming into therapy quite dissociated and being brought back in touch with myself by my therapist I cried out “I was just like a wild horse that they tried to bridle”,  “the feeling I had was that I had to pull my head back in”.  Interestingly that week in chiropractic the chiropractor had said that in observing my posture my head was pulled in to my shoulders like a turtle’s head pulled back into a shell (this association has just come to me while blogging).

The therapist and I had both made the connection that the huge smash up only a short while after having my braces removed was some kind of eruption of psychic energy trying to unleash, and the irony of busting the veneer off one tooth this week was not lost on me as in the session on Friday the chiropractor was encouraging me to kick out against being diminished, invalidated while hearing the internal voice “go to your room”.

It felt such a relief yesterday to be able to express all of this in therapy, to be instinctively understood and “got”, to be able to ventilate it and to be returned to a feeling of great tiredness that spoke of facing a fundamental truth I had lost touch with for some time, at least on an authentic bodily level.

I am facing the prospect of surgery in just over one week.  There is much fear abut this.  Part of me wonders if the breast cancer is a result of my tissues having to absorb so much pain and trauma and if I work in therapy the surgery may not be necessary.  I long NOT to have to go through the cutting and yet on some level too I am willing to face it, to move through it despite my fear so I can find the love on the other side.  Part of me sees the surgery as yet more abuse.  I feel angry that this beautiful wild horse inside me that had to be reigned in could not just have been seen and loved for who and want it was, bucked uneven teeth and all.  Why did I have to be beautified, changed?

Another part of me feels my mother did what she thought was best, and yet why couldn’t I just have been loved, bucked teeth and all?  Why did I have to go through all of this pain simply just to look more acceptable?

Following the first reconstruction work on my teeth after my accident in 1980 I have had to undergo two further painful bridge reconstructions over the past 30 years.  Yesterday I was informed my bridge cannot be repaired in any long term effective way, that the opinion of the dentist is now that I need to have yet another tooth removed and the bridge constructed onto the next tooth which will involve implants which I do not feel strong enough to undergo at this stage. I was really angry with the dentist yesterday (not so much for having to deliver the bad news) but for  saying “presentation is SO important”.  I want to get a second opinion and a more sensitive fucking dentist!!!

Despite all the pain of this today I feel more relaxed, more at home in my body.   The reason is that yesterday in therapy I was able to speak about it and feel the truth of it all through with my therapist.  Painful as that was, tired as I felt, to day there is around me a sense of far greater relaxation and peace.

Still my spirit longs to be unbridled.  I love setting my dog free without his leash to run and this is why.  When I hold him and cuddle him I feel my own pain of that younger self who had to be hurt, who was vulnerable and innocent and subject to so many forces around her over which she was powerless. I grieve for her and yet I know her spirit lives on.  The task for the rest of my life is to love her, to nourish her and to make up to her for all that was taken, to give her a place to run free, to dance, to sing and most importantly to express without shame the deep truth of what happened and what really hurt.

 

 

Hurt : Strengthen Me, Help Me Feel My Boundary

Maybe I need to learn the lesson over and over and get hurt enough times to let the hurting go and realise that it doesn’t have anything to do with me, and I can stand it.

My skin got toughened up by you not getting it, by giving me the message it was wrong or there was something wrong with me for just being me.  I got to see that you weren’t right, but it took others to show me, to rid me of this confusion.

I began to doubt and question myself a long time ago.  I had to go through all of this doubt and self questioning in order to realise that its all okay anyway.  I had to get really, really angry a number of times, enough times to find my way back to the self that felt angry and was told finally by someone else that such anger, rather than unnatural was a natural reaction to what just passed and was placed on me by someone who had erected barricades against authentic feeling.

I got this lesson over and over for about 8 years, is it any mistakes it was a lesson I was learning as Uranus passed through the eighth house and the sign ruled naturally by Mars, Aries?  No mistake, timing right on cue.  Thank you Uranus for driving this message home.   Holding this anger in and not being aware that I was holding this anger in meant for a long time suffering from mysterious symptoms where by my anger was hidden and masked.  No permission to feel it, only the tightening in the stomach the breathlessness that came from holding onto my breath without even being aware that I was holding onto my breath, stopping the flow of life, my authentic real life.

Even when I wanted to be born you held me inside until you finished a task you wanted to do with had nothing to do with me.  I had to wait until it got so urgent and so now when I feel the impulse to move, to choose, to reach, to want I question over and over and run the wheels through all the scenarios, look sideways for affirmation or confirmation and then the moment is lost.  I want to reach but I fear reaching and so I stay bound up inside.

Uranus moving backwards driving its message home.   Bubbling away inside making its message felt.  The joy I wanted to feel but was told was wrong, the desire I felt but had to deny, the longing I felt but learned to hold in so as not to appear too needy because I learned to fear and be ashamed of need or came to expect that needs would never be fulfilled.

Anger, today I felt you with someone who gave me permission.  It felt so strange for it to be okay.  Not to be told, “No”, to have my wrist held by other hands like shackles that stopped me reaching, expressing.  To be told mixed up things like “anger is just an expression of fear”.  WTF?  On some level I knew this was not right and so it made me even angrier and then because I could not have the anger so sad.  How liberating now to be told.  It is okay to shout it out, it is okay to speak out, it is okay to run away, it is okay to stand up and say “No more”.  Thank you for allowing my genuine protest. For without this how can I know where my boundary lies?  How can I own my own life?

The creative fire

Ever felt really burnt up by something?  It happens to me a lot.  I just had an image of myself with my hair all aflame and eyes of fire.  In exploring that I also had an image of a phoenix arising out of a bed of flames.

Its a gorgeous process of alchemy how someone’s comments in response to your blog or your comments in response to theirs can fuel creative ideas.  This blog comes out of Amy Rose’s wonderful comment which occurred after I commented on her recent post Judgement which I am sorry I don’t know yet how to link to here.  This blog contains absolutely  STUNNING images of nature on fire with autumn colour.  I highly recommend a visit to her site.

Anyway a short while ago Amy Rose made a comment about how anger is often a fuel for her to create.  I myself have been so deeply conditioned by my repressive Catholic background that anger is “bad”, that at times I forget that authentic justified anger is actually a transformative fire that breaks new ground which leads us home to true authenticity.  It gives us energy to pursue change and create new things, a desire to recognise and celebrate what is beautiful, it also speaks to us in defence of our self and our true values.  Without a living connection to it we become dull and listless, depressed, devitalised and unable to feel the way to our deepest soul.

I was watching an excellent ABC documentary on violence against African  Americans this week and one of the men being interviewed said something like this “I don’t know if it is possible to be a conscious black person in America at this point in history and NOT be angry”.  Towards the end of the programme a gorgeous woman sang a song full of passion of how beautiful it is to be black. I had goosebumps and felt the power in her standing up in self love and self respect.

This afternoon I have been reading and writing a blog on gut feelings and gut instinct that I wont be able to post for some time.  But the gist of it is that when we repress our emotional truth because others dissuade us from it, we suffer profound feelings of emptiness.  Finding out way back to our authentic self depends upon our ability to enter and understand the roots of this emptiness so that it can become fullness.  We may need to find a belly of fire at times in order to re-find our true purpose and meaning

Getting angry about something can enliven me and fill me up with the knowing of what it was inside me that got buried or transgressed against.  In the midst of feeling my anger a voice will speak about something important that it is so essential for my soul to know.

I spent a lot of time getting shamed for anger when I was growing up.  Even now with my certain members of my family if I try to express anger I get a slap of some kind.  I’m learning to recognise when it comes and speak up for myself but I am 53 now and being able to feel comfortable doing this without experiencing some form of backlash has taken YEARS.  Anyway better late than never, I say.

It is a lovely insight of Amy’s that this fire can be turned towards a creative purpose.  It gives us the energy to speak and fight for that which has value for us.  I’m sure I’ve explored this topic before but it just felt right today. With a New Moon later today in a Fire sign it seems timely to be speaking of things fiery like vision, meaning purpose… all very Sagittarian things very dear to my heart today.

I think back to one of my earlier poems :  Close to the Fire which was cry from myself to recognise myself and celebrate myself.  Through doing this I am also able to better recognise and celebrate others in all of their emotions.  I don’t have to fear their anger or argue with them about it. Feelings are responses of a self to something, how we both respond is not always the same,  respect for you and respect for me means I need to honour this difference.

I won’t fear love

What happens to someone when they are not allowed to feel what they feel, when they are having an intense reaction to something and that reaction is then judged as ‘mad’ and steps are taken to shut them down and invalidate the person’s reality?   Really the person was deeply outraged and angry about something that was legitimately hurtful and abusive (perhaps having triggered a complex web of other feelings, issues complexes reaching deep down and far back), but their reaction is judged (often by the abuser, but often also others the abuser has co-opted in to validate their own rejected and repressed betrayal, for example).   Those people bring in a psychiatrist and a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder is made, it is recommended the person is placed on something “to calm them down”.

This type of scenario is unwinding in a novel I am reading at present. The themes explored in the novel are cutting to the heart of similar issues in my own family. The central character in this book is called Grace. When the book opens she has been in a relationship with a narcissist where she walked on eggshells for many years always fearing when the next outburst or angry tirade will be expressed.

As her history is explored in the first half of the book it is revealed that she was raised by a mother who was not only emotionally unavailable to Grace for long periods but prone herself to rash outbursts of anger and strange behaviour that were frightening for her daughter. It is not made clear in the novel what happened to the mother that caused her behaviour but eventually she is diagnosed with “bi-polar” disorder.

The shadow imprints of this painful relationship rears its head when Grace hits midlife. Its nature shows why Grace would have been attracted to a narcissist. Her own emotional needs were never met. She learns to bury her needs and soothe or avoid her husband. Eventually the stress of trying to appease her husband’s endless needs leads Grace to hire an assistant who subtly begins to undermine Grace.

Grace’s behaviour starts to change in response to the mixed messages in the environment, (the not at this stage overt deception going on).  She becomes prone to sleeplessness and then bursts of energy which are nothing more than reactions to stress and buried feelings she has not really been able to articulate over years. Her husband starts to question her behaviour and label it erratic (a huge irony here in that his own behaviour has been even more outlandish). He convinces Grace to see a psychiatrist who diagnoses her with a mild form of bi polar disorder. The diagnosis sits badly with Grace, and yet she questions herself. This guy has a degree from a famous university, he has written chapters in the DSM her own mother was bi polar, has she inherited the bi polar curse? Who is she to question anyway?

Grace reluctantly takes the drugs prescribed which make her hungry, lethargic, sleep 12 hours or more a day and even more depressed. She gains weight and her self esteem plummets. When her closest friend find out what has happened she is outraged. She sees no evidence for the diagnosis. Grace struggles on, being undermined at times by both husband and his new assistant.

Then one day she finds them together having sex, as any normal person would do she flies into a rage attacking the woman who in partnership with her husband then arrange to have her taken to a psychiatric facility. At this part in the story I was hyperventilating. It was so similar to my oldest sister’s story, of which the full details have never been clear, only that her own husband had an affair with a women they were both involved with in and through the business my sister started, either before or after my sister had a cerebral haemorraghe in 1980.

A year later her husband took them and their four children away to New Zealand  (the mistress had gone forward a short while before). I believe on Jude’s arrival in New Zealand she may then have had to witness her husband and his mistress together. She had a series of so called “psychotic” breaks and was admitted to an asylum. She was then sent home home to us with a one way ticket. with one suitcase of clothes, she then tried to take her life.

In the novel Grace is luckier than my sister. She has manages to escape from the influence of the psychiatrist who was loading her with a number of different medications which basically numbed her so that she was only a zombie, less than even a shadow of her former self. My sister was never that lucky. When she came home and tried to cry her eyes out she was stopped from going there. Dumbed down with more meds, as with Grace with the numbing came a loss of all her creative ability, her joy, her zest, her sadness all palled under the greyness of a lifeless “blah” induced by the medications she was fed.

Her authentic liveliness and joy was squashed and little help was given, until later years to help her work through the painful mix of feelings. In the end there were only screaming rages with long crying spells, many of which I sat through in the course of her last years, holding her hand.

I am still in the middle of processing all the feelings that have been coming up for me in reading Grace’s story. I am reminded of the difficult journey we have on earth in coming to terms with our feelings, with their impact on others, with the impact of other’s feelings on us and even of our own feelings impact on us, of the long search to find a place where our feelings can be expressed in a way in which it is helpful and we can move forward rather than be paralysed or trapped by them.

I guess in the end it all has a lot to do with fear. There is a wonderful book out there on this subject it is called When Love Meets Fear and is written by David Richo   I read a quote recently from it which I can now not find but said something like this :  many people will be frightened by expression of your lively energy especially if it rocks their boat or confronts them with a part of themselves they would rather not see, your life task is to be and express this lively energy even in the face of others fear of all the tactics and machinations they use to try and undermine your true authentic expression.

I had a big “ah ha” moment when I read that paragraph. How often as a child was I shamed by the Nuns or even my parents when I expressed something they did not want me to express. This also happened to my older sister mentioned above who it said in later life “was just a little too big for her boots”, a bit too open, too lively, too “over the top”, a “naughty” girl. Witness the jaw drop as she speaks an outlandish truth to someone confronting them with something they are ashamed about or trying to hide. It’s just “not nice”! More outraged expressions and pursed lips.

I am not implying that we should have no restraint, no empathy for or sensitivity towards others feelings but we do need to have the courage to express what is true for us even if at times it makes us seem like an inconvenience for others who would rather we shut it up or dumbed it down a bit.

Interesting that just last month the Sun in Libra faced off with/opposed Uranus in Aries. Uranus has been passing through my eighth house of shadow energies over the past few years. My own Mars is conjunct Saturn which lends a fair bit of repression, duty boundness and doing the right thing to Mars lively assertive joy in self expression and movement. I have struggled with bound up/caged Mars energy for most of my life late childhood onwards.   Luckily I haven’t been medicated through any of the lows which were often descents in which feelings had to be negotiated, painful as they were and interspersed with periods of debilitating depression.

Lately  I am getting lots of hints about where repression due to displaced and projected fears occurs for myself and others and I am grateful for a therapist who allows me to express my own genuine feelings without being scared by them or having any controlling reaction. Being able to get my intense feelings out in a place where I can makes sense of them is what has helped me most.  Being able to own the fact I feel scared and acknowledge while holding my own hand and figuring out ways to act despite the fear has also helped.

There is a powerful line in a song I have been listening to lately by Sarah McLaughlin :

 “ If I feel a rage I won’t deny it, I won’t fear love.”

There are people who are going to tell us that our rage makes us madwoman but it doesn’t.  My rage shows me where love and respect for me isn’t being shown and life and love for myself and others asks me to see and own that rage and takes steps to empower a self that in being repressed or denied for too long is now rattling the cage from which I must liberate myself in order to express and fight for what I most need to live, to love, to express, to breathe, to survive and to thrive in my deepest authenticity.

Those who love me will validate my feelings, they will see the sense in them, they will not make me bad or wrong for having them. And it is the adult in me who must help me to hold those feelings, to process them, to make sense of them and then express them in ways which help me to become empowered and strong. When I feel a rage I won’t deny it. I won’t fear love.  For in feeling the rage, in allowing it to move me to authentic assertive (rather than aggressive) action  I demonstrate love, power and authenticity for myself, for you, for my sister and for the journey which in, at times, leading us to the darkest depths and deepest night eventually brings light and the dawning of a new day filled with understanding, compassion and hope.

The importance of validation

Do you have a really good friend who sets your world back to rights when you get a little mixed up, uncertain, filled with confusion?

I am blessed to say that I do. This friend is a lot like me, he never judges me, he shows me understanding, when I am confused and stuck in self judgement as a result of my invalidating past, he sets me straight in the nicest way by valuing, validating and putting out a sane and balanced point of view.

This happened to me today. I was feeling like there was something wrong with me. In a body work session some deeply buried anger and grief at not being supported or loved when I was grieving by a few rigidly defended members in my support group 7 or so years ago came up. I had an outburst about it in the therapy as I was tapping into the feelings in my body work session.

At the time, all those years ago I had stuffed the distress and upset in my body. When I came home I put on loud music and danced around the room in a frenzy and as a result I ended up falling backwards and hitting my shoulder very painfully against a lounge chair arm with a steel casing. This is quite funny as I read it back and it not sound like a very traumatic injury but it really hurt me and it came one year following a major head trauma I suffered overseas, on the first anniversary of my husband making the decision to end my marriage.

I now see how stuck I was at the time, still very bonded to a family with lots of unresolved trauma in both my family and myself. When the second injury occurred I was isolated and living alone in a coastal town without any support or daily contact with anyone but my support group on one day a week. I didn’t have a therapist which I now know is essential to healing and I could not move forward to make a new start. I was too traumatised. The bridge of trust to the outside world and others was broken due to past invalidation and lack of emotional support.

My family suffered from a difficulty in showing empathy, unconditional love and I now see it was a mistake to look to them. I needed to build a sense of support within myself from knowing who I truly was, what I had suffered and the extent to which my grief over past difficulties including the loss of my father had impacted on me. I only realise all of this now though, with the gift of hindsight.

It is only lately that I am able to feel the true pain of the things I carried and struggled with, without self judgement. I didn’t really have a place to go to fully express my aching soul.

I am so grateful to have come across a wonderful blog online here : The Invisible Scar through following a post, reblogged on yet another site by Robert Goldstein yesterday. This blog is related to informing people about the impact of emotional abuse in childhood, abuse which is not as obvious as overt physical abuse but never the less leaves deep scars on the psyche and soul which are invisible.

This invisible wound or scar aches, throbs and burns. In my own case I have felt this wound to self like a piece of schrapnel which is lodged deep within me, which moves around, is sometimes soothed and receeds into the back ground from a time, and then comes to consciousness in pain especially at night when the unconscious makes itself more conscious on a somatic level. I am working with a body work therapist now to understand and help with the total immobilisation I suffer on some days.

I am not sure if in today’s bodywork session my anger was fully validated by the therapist. She looked a little taken a back. My anger wasn’t directed at her it was at the old situation. She said to me “you know it is okay to be angry”. Part of me doesn’t truly believe this to be so. She questioned me as to whether I was in the present or past when I was feeling it. I have always been able to keep a check on my anger in that I won’t lash out at others and am very much aware it is of the past. At times I have projected and transferred it but it doesn’t take me long to get a handle on it. It first began to emerge over seven years ago after Chiron passed over my natal Mars Saturn Moon, I would allow myself to scream and shout or hit something after removing myself to a safe space.  I would also express it in my journal often tearing up the page through about seven layers with the pen after laying down an angry scrawl. Then after many years the grief under the anger began to make itself felt.

I know at times I have scared others and even when I have not hurt them they have tried to make me feel my anger has hurt them and I am bad or wrong for feeling it.  Today I know that feelings just are, emotional invalidation is to judge someone’s feeling as wrong if it challenges you and the to try and manipulate them to change.  I have suffered this at the hands of my family many times.

This kind of invalidation has had to happen several times for me to see it wasn’t my problem, but theirs especially if they tried to demonise me for it.   At the time these reaction made me feel that it was NOT okay to be angry. But I beginning to trust that when I feel angry some kind of boundary has been violated or I have been abused subtly. I now have a good therapist who can help me in this.  As my  awareness has grown, I don’t have to vocalise as much and can take steps to deal with it. When I do I can ask myself how I have been triggered.

My catholic education led me to believe anger was wrong and yet justified anger is what is needed most to protect our spirits from violation. In the temple Jesus showed real anger with the sanctity of the space was violated by the money lenders.

My being, soul and body is my own temple. It’s a temple that has often been invaded, in childhood by having procedures forced on me like painful orthodontic treatment to improve my bucked teeth, a haircut of long hair off I didn’t want or need, through to injuries from parental neglect or lack of care and attention. Once I  got third degree burns to my foot after my Mum placed a boiling hot bucket of water on a step near to where I was drawing which I stepped into. My arm was pulled out of socket by her pulling me back. Once I cut open my wrist and nearly severed the tendons after being locked outside the house. The key to the house had not been put back on the hook and when I came home I was locked out and ended up breaking a window which cut my wrist open. I ran down to the neighbours and they took me to hospital but when the cut happened I felt so scared and alone.

In addition as a child I learned to orient myself around my mother’s needs, it was the only way to get her attention which was focused almost solely on her business and keeping the house and us perfectly clean, tidy and controlled. She was never there after school to care, cherish, nourish and support. I found myself in tears yesterday after seeing the support being offered to someone who was being mentored for singing.

Reading about similar issues on the blog of The Invisible Scar has made me realise where the emptiness, loneliness and sadness of my late childhood and early adolescence came from. I sought relief from it through addictions from my late teens on and caused myself even more damage through picking people who could not support or validate me.

I feel a certain anxiety even writing all of this, a fear of judgement, inner voices telling me I am being narcissistic and self obsessed. Whose voices are these?. That is part of not feeling very strong in my own sense of self.

Those of us recovering from this kind of history know how long it takes, how painful the road and how necessary it is to have those who can validate us along the way. My friend that I mentioned earlier does that for me. There was a period a few years ago when I had to let go of some friends who seemed determined to blame me and shame me. It was a painful lesson but in the end I was better off alone, hard as that was. They had no idea of how trauma had trapped me, how jangled my nervous systems was.

Now I am lucky enough to have my best friend as well as others online and a very good therapist who support the part of me that is truly me and trying to emerge, that unconsciously carries all the body memory of violation and is working hard to integrate these into awareness.

Without them I don’t know if I could have made sense of my twisted world or of the body symptoms I have suffered from repressed feelings. I am beginning to attain clarity into my past by listening to what has been buried in my body. In releasing it, in acknowledging it, I heal.

For this to happen I need first external validation and help in understanding how I can be confused when those threatened or unaware or unconsciously triggered in their own defences seek to invalidate me.

Blogging gives me a voice, a place to share, and reading others blogs helps me to recognise we are all in this together and have much to teach and learn from each other along the journey of healing. Through hearing your story I can heal and I hope by hearing mine you can too. xo

Growing some spine

Well people I have over 33 documents in my drafts folder.  I wrote this one well over two years ago so I am letting it out for some air, not sure why it never passed the censor!

Ever got really insanely, blisteringly angry with someone, something?   I had an experience of this state today and its never a comfortable experience for me.  I shared about it with someone I trust and she helped me to understand that a boundary that was very important to me had been crossed by someone.  This person works as a body therapist and as I was speaking about the issue she acted as a witness to me of what effect different expressions of anger can have on body posture, most especially how upright the spine is when we use anger as an empowering experience allowing us to move the energy in a way that is assertive, rather than purely aggressive.

We spoke through the difficulty I had with feeling free to express anger in a healthy way due to a family background in which I wasn’t really helped when upset or angry, only sent to my room and admonished for being “bad”.   Anger can feel like I am being bad especially if the expression of that anger in response to something someone else did is not empathised with and the person involved is invested in making me feel bad.  The bottom line is that anger is a sign that boundaries need to be drawn, that an important value of ours may have been violated.  Anger is a sign to me of what has value to me, and of what I can and cannot tolerate.

I’m interested in this at the moment, considering transiting Mars (planet of agency, anger, assertion and aggression) is currently moving through my 12th house and ever closer to the ascendant while squaring 3rdh house Neptune and opposing my Aquarian Sun, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and South Node in the seventh house.  In addition transiting Mars is beginning to form a wide waxing trine to transiting Uranus in the eighth house.

Transits through the 8th and 12th have to do with energies that may have been buried in the unconscious becoming more conscious to us, through conflicts or experiences which bring our attention to them during the transit. Aries, ruled by Mars, rules my eighth house and represents that the energy of assertion and creative agency has fallen into the shadows.  I may feel (and do at times feel) scared and guilty for expressing and asserting my own needs. All my Aquarian planets and the South Node there encourage me to forget myself and look to what the family or group needs, my Leo North Node in the first indicates that in order grow forward I need to be able to feel a sense of power and strength in the expression of my Self, to become more of a King of my own domain.

Added to that the polarity planet of values Venus is currently also transiting retrograde in the sign of Leo (currently at 16 degrees) towards transiting Mars moving forwards at 11 Leo.  In all the reading I have done about retrograde Venus transits I have learned that frustration can build into old unresolved psychic conflicts around relating, relationships, self esteem and self value as Venus moves backwards.  It may be a time we have to go to war or learn about the values that are important to us, due to being frustrated or denied.  A force for transformation builds as Venus stations to move forward again which it will do

My anger today wasn’t just about the person involved.  It had a lot to do with how I was feeling inside at present.  A little put upon and just a bit sick of overextending myself for the other person involved.  Sun/Venus/Mercury/Jupiter/South Node in the seventh tends to make me over do the compassion initiative and to deny myself and my needs for the sake of preserving the relationship.  Which is fine if the other person is taking my needs into consideration, but when they are not.  Well as I experienced it today this blows my gasket and I need to understand why, to take steps to fight in a good way for my own needs in an assertive, mature way.  Lesson learned today.

I’ve dumped a lot of repressed anger into my body in the past.  Growing up I did not really learn to open up and communicate when hurt.  I was taught by Catholicism to turn the other cheek but sometimes you run out of cheeks and get tired of being slapped about my others inconsiderateness and insensitivity.  The point is that the lesson for me isn’t about them, its more about developing sensitivity into myself, my body and my true needs and values.  For these things cant be denied without me suffering symptomatic consequences.

Trying to figure out, what is right for me.

I wrote this over a month ago when I made a connection with a body work therapist.  I am seeing that around this time of year which coincides with a major trauma in my late teens the issue of looking for help with bearing the burden and legacy left emerges.  So for what its worth, I am taking it out of drafts, dusting it off, turning it this way and that to extract some meaning for me now.

Filled with doubts. Lots of questions. How can I know? I went to see a new body work therapist today at the advice of someone who has been urging me down this pathway for some time. I go to these therapists wary and with my BS detector sticking up. Relationship is a mine field for me anyway. Was for some time, especially therapeutic relationships, several of which have come to grief when things done or said just did not gel with me, or I felt someone trying to project things on me that felt wrong. Or with those who could not contain the rage that is part of the Post Traumatic State and only emerges when invalidation occurs or when I have been overloaded by a repeat trauma that has triggered earlier ones.

I was reading today in James Masterton’s book The Search For the Real Self, how not having a good relationship with our true self and feelings sets us up to be very vulnerable to the opinions of others. We look to them as a child to an adult when our relationship to our own sense of self and purpose is not strong. With all my Neptune squares to personal planets I can say I identify.

There is a long period when we are growing and developing what psychologists would call the ego (a mediating construct which helps sort between aspects of our inner self as differentiated from the inner selves of others), when our capacity for emotional intelligence is supposedly very limited.

Children can be sensitive to the energy of emotions, but at a certain point in their development they don’t really have names for them. Children need help with their emotions from caregivers in order to develop a relationship to them, regulate them, name them and express them effectively. Of course the later depends too upon how open to hearing us others really are.

The problem of lack of attunement and our parents own defences can leave us with a mixed up relationship to some of our feelings and emotions. Something I have noticed with several of the body workers I have dealt with has been an attempt to shut down emotions that may have been being expressed, which at times made me feel constricted and boxed in.

Supposedly too by questioning you about why you are angry or crying they can get to the bottom of it and figure it out. It is good to ask these kinds of questions but there will be those who just get it and you come away feeling validated and heard, that your expression flowed and your body felt expanded not contracted.

One of the legacies of undergoing traumatic experiences especially on the body is that the entire system, including our musculature and tendons constrict and contract.   We get scrambled, our central nervous system goes into overdrive, pumping out  cortisol when it needs to relax.  At present I am taking tissue salts to help with this, as during trauma our cells become depleted of certain minerals as cortisol levels spike.

Another question I had today was this.  What happens when a therapist lays the line on you that this is just a storyline, one you need to let go? It’s good to recognise when a pure emotion becomes amped up by our reaction to it.  Instead of letting it flow we chomp down on it like a dog with a bone and won’t let go, it intensifies or converts to another emotion (say anger when we are feeling grief, or grief when we are feeling anger),  then it blows out of proportion and become very reactive, but maybe even this reaction has lesson for us and is not the final world.

Truth is, I guess, we can have an emotion, but then we can have a reaction to that emotion or others have a reaction to our emotion which then interferes with the need of the emotion just to get out and be released so we can move on. Why the problem with questioning it? Validation says I see you are having such and such an emotion. Not that it is right or wrong. Once the person is validated for how they are feeling rather than the other person’s reaction to it there is often peace and an open channel of communication. I would call this non defensive communication.

The other thing I have been questioning what happens when we try to express something which a therapist misinterprets or just doesn’t get. Example. Today, once again I had to go in to my history and most especially my accident history as at night and during the day my body is still expressing this trauma in all kinds of strange symptoms. I was speaking of the experience of being trapped in the car and not being able to move, struggling for breath, being in pain and the ambulance men coming in behind to put an oxygen mask on me that I was trying to fend off. I needed that mask on, so fighting was dangerous. But then the tears came and most especially when I remembered the upset of the impact for my father who died a few years later.

The person I was seeing made the assumption that I in some way blamed myself on some level for that and was stuck in a story line. The truth is that I did not, it was out of my control, but I could feel the sadness and pain my father suffered over it, how the accident had impacted on him (he died several years later after further traumas involving my oldest sister’s illness, abandonment and breakdown).  It was after reliving this in an earlier body work session that I had a second major accident which mirrored the earlier one and left me with further Post Traumatic Stress which I am still working to resolve.

Its best not to assume or project, but I guess we can all do it. The important thing for me  To understand my own reaction and reality.  These days I find it is pointless to try and enter into any argument over my tears or the working of my own emotional inner world.  I am lucky enough after many years of failures in having found a therapist who empathises and really gets it, who does not reach for answers or try to project.

As far as other’s are concerned, I ask this. Why should other people get it that at times I feel really sad when they have not suffered in the same way or spend time denying emotions? Is it that I am too enmeshed in my suffering? (This is how they often make me feel.) That can hardly be true because I have lots of good and happy days, but there are days when sorrow can and does inundate me.

Today we worked with the sensations in my body, the traumatic imprints lodged in the tissues and I began to feel the unwinding and shifting of sensations as blockages dissolved and more sensation came in. At times I was pulled away by thought and I get that thinking came sometimes follow a story line and carry us away from the reality of just being present today. I have written a blog about that before.  When this happens and I am in flight from the sensations I remind myself to return to the breath and just notice body sensation.

I still came away from this first session questioning and running a doubting story line. Truth is I am not going to know how this particular treatment pans out until I front up for it and see if it has any beneficial effect on my symptoms. Until then the jury is out.

Deep down I wish the therapist would just keep the story line comments to herself and let me have my feelings. It’s true I might be caught up in a pattern. I am aware there are times I am holding my breath due to old traumatic imprints arising. At the time I am not always aware, but I am catching myself doing this more. It is one of the things I guess we tend to do when we are hit with something very overwhelming. Never the less it is important to learn to let go with the breath and encourage the new breath a space, because breath = movement = life.

We also need to let our emotions breathe in order to release them. They are like waves that arise and fall if we don’t clamp down on them. E Motion. Energy in motion.   I think many of my problems have come from holding in emotions and not having them validated. A saying of yes would allow the release and not cause further frustration.

This is what happens to emotionally sensitive children when they are not validated and it leads to all kinds of long term problems. There is nothing to be gained from denying sensitivity. It has a purpose and the sensitive child who feels things intensely needs help to validate and understand so they can self soothe and don’t have to reach for numbing substances or behaviours due to having been traumatised by parents who hurt them due to their own ignorance and fear.

I know it irritates a lot of people this sensitivity. The truth is that often I will keep what I feel inside, I won’t express or explode as I am considering your feelings, but it that last few years I have let myself explode in order to separate out validators from invalidators. Sometimes exploding is really essential so I can know how distressed I am and come to make sense of if something has angered me, because often when that happens (but not always) there has been an assault or violation of a kind. It wont be received well by the abuser or invalidator and their response has lessons for me.

The last thing I need now when I am making such progress with my psychotherapist is for this is for this body work therapist now to make me doubt myself when another therapist has said how important it was for me not to stuff this anger any more, so that eventually I can find ways to assert my needs more without the need to explode.

The most important thing for me now, I believe, is to trust my gut, to not have anyone on a pedestal and not to accept that which I find a bit hard to swallow. Well meaning as a person can be they have their own limitations. I am learning that if I have a doubt there is probably something not quite right. My true insights are often dismissed by my family something I have blogged about recently and so I naturally doubt myself when really I should just trust my gut. When I don’t, I get into problems.

What is important on this journey of healing is that I can validate myself and trust myself, something it has not always been easy to do. Something I want to explore more in my blogs. A lot of sorting out and separating is going on for me at present. It feels good.

I am looking forward to Saturn moving forward soon as I will be getting the waning sextile transit to Mars Saturn Moon when it does. This bodes well for me. I will be much more aware of my own Mars Saturn Moon than I was when I underwent the squares.

The major astrological lesson I have learned is that with a weak or damaged Mars I am emotionally Fucked. Mars serves the Sun. We need a healthy sense of self assertion to help us navigate through life with power and authority, not a power and authority over others but a power and authority that comes from knowing our self and our boundaries. What is and is not acceptable to us. This can be argued with by others but nevertheless as emotional adults we have authority over our own life and inner world.

There are some lovely world from a song from Dido which express this well:

This land is mine, I’ll let you in, I’ll let you navigate and demand, just as long as you know this land is mine.

What I ask for, I also have to give. That sometimes you won’t get it or understand and that you may even misunderstand me too, the most important thing being, that I no longer misunderstand myself.

As a post script I continued to see the body work therapist over the next eight weeks and I had a major blow up with her.  We managed to work through the anger and fear at the heart of it.  I shared with her about how I had been invalidated by two other body work therapists over four years and she said to me “I really get how scary and difficult it must have been for you to trust me.”  Immediately I could relax and feel that she really got what living inside the traumatised reality is like, when you reach out and trust only to be misunderstood and violated again.  I still struggle with my symptoms but they are lessening.  Mars in now in my first house and more available to me than it was when buried deep in the twelfth bringing up all my unresolved issues, but even all that questioning and indecision, the self questioning and self doubt was part of the process in trying to figure out what was going on and what was right for me.

Who becomes the scapegoat?

Scapegoat.jpg

Another post that I wrote just over a year ago that never made it out of drafts:

The phenomena of the scapegoat and scapegoating fascinates me deeply.  Many years ago I was intrigued to come upon a book The Scapegoat Complex by Sylvia Bretton Perrera.

At the time I had been recovering from addiction and was learning that addictions are often an avenue the family scapegoat or scapegoat identified individual uses to cope with the relentless inner self criticism and pain of disconnection from and love of the True Self, that dogs those of us who were not able to fully express and develop the wholeness of our living being and emotions in a damaged family.

The family described in Perrera’s book is one that very much identifies with external collective mores of perfection, appearances and collective ideals, it is not one that allows for the reality and expression of deeper emotions such as sadness and anger.  This type of family demands of its members that they repress some of their psychic reality in order to belong and receive acceptance.  It is not okay to express intense emotions of anger or pain but other ways of being are highly validated, ones that do not threaten the parent with their own repressed feelings (the shadow).

There are those of us who are more likely to develop addictions due to the fact we have a higher level of sensitivity to the inner world and to intense emotions.  In the scapegoating family these emotions are ones the parents had to repress and which confront them with their own repressed shadow. The scapegoat individual is one who sees beneath the surface to the repressed feelings of the parent and by a form of participation mystique (exquisite sensitivity and attunement) begins to express them or act them out.  They may become the identified patient or “sick” one, really they are the one that has the most potential for wholeness.

The parent defends against the realisation of deeper truths and is confronted by the emotional honesty and attunement, or vulnerability of the child.  The child is punished by an accuser within the parent which is then internalised (taken within the self).  This is called an introject.   The parent denies the reality of the child which is invalidated.  This leads to the child beginning to doubt the self and its perceptions.

The psychologist R D Laing was one of the first to realise that such parenting can lead to schizophrenic conditions, a hearing of inner voices.  The further work of Robert Firestone has shown how the internalised critic with its destructive voice operates to wall the sufferer off from happiness, connection, intimacy and love.

Many years on the parent may be long gone from the scene but the accusing voice remains. The remorseless critic who invalidated the psychic reality of the True Self of the person and led the person to live as a False Self.  One cannot live within the psychic entrapment of the False Self for long without beginning to experience depression.  If one has been taught not to know and asserts one’s own true needs and feelings due to neglect or downright repression on behalf of the parent a feeling of lowered energy and vitality will occur.

In addiction when abused and criticised the self feels an outrage that may not be permitted expression, which is then internalised as further feelings of despair, powerlessness and depression.  In depression such as this is the longing for the True Self, the way to which is barred by the accusing voices.

Addictions can be a way we reach to self soothe.  Unfortunately addiction also numbs and masks the pain and arrests our emotional and psychological development.  Abuse is traumatising and trauma tends to make us want to escape.  Eventually if we want to heal we must learn to face and feel what we have been running from.  We cannot do this without love and support and validation.

In order to heal we need to learn about how the True Self within us has been invalidated.  What messages have we received that are not true, the lead us to hate ourselves, doubt ourselves, neglect ourselves, punish ourselves.

I have shared elsewhere that after my marriage ended after 11 years of sobriety and I went into a voluntary retreat due to abandoning my first attempt at therapy I began to hear the voice of the accuser talking to me.  I did a piece of writing called Destruction 11:11 in which the voice told me of its hatred, and that it wanted me dead.  It was an important piece of writing as it woke me up to many realisations about myself.  Reading Sylvia Bretton Perrera’s book at this time helped me to understand further.

Lately I have tried to address some issue with my abusers around lack of sensitivity, invasion of boundaries and invalidation.  It was a learning as I was yet again demonised for my anger which was seen to be wrong and attempts were made to shut me down by a number of means, emotional blackmail was used.  This encounter has firmed up my understanding that expression of self assertion and differentness in our family is not valued.  One is expected to toe the line and is rewarded for making sacrifices.  When one asserts any hurt attempts are made to deflect attention from the hurt.  In invalidating the anger the self is invalidated.

Usually I would buckle back under after one of these incidents.  Thank God for good therapy.  Understanding the impact of the scapegoat psychology and issues of shaming and repression has helped me to heal.  I am sharing about it here in hopes it can help others.

A Healing with my Sister

imagesCAPAIDRT

I received an apology from my sister today. It was truly from the heart. It broke through the wall of all my anger which was really a cry for love, for respect, for understanding. It is not always easy being the younger sister. It probably wasn’t easy for my sister to have a younger sister, particularly when she hit puberty and I was just an annoyance. Never the less I would have loved to have a sister who was kinder.

My oldest sister who died was always more loving to me, taking me on holidays and away from the emotional vacancy of my growing up years with a Mum who didn’t really want to spend any time, but was working two jobs and tired all of the time. I was just a handful, a burden that was a bit too much to bear. So it hit all the harder when my older sister was the one who went under in the most painful way with a brain haemorrhage.

It was a very formative time in my life, no one’s fault but it made that adolescent time, already made difficult by my near fatal car crash and three months suspended in skeletal traction at the age of 17, harder. It was two major traumas in a six month period and the trauma with my older sister extended over many years.

I can’t expect anyone who has not been through that to understand, some show empathy. At times I feel a bit anxious sharing on here about it all the time. Is that a narcissistic pursuit? For me telling my story over and over is a way of healing and it is necessary for trauma sufferers but we need some validation with this.

Anyway back to my other sister’s apology. I have watched her struggle through several breakdowns now, five separate hospitalisations including one that involved extensive shock treatment, which was horrific to me, but others swear it helps them. I would have liked her to be treated in a more loving way, but the truth is when she would be in a manic flight, she was really difficult to be around, taking over control of everything, being very invasive at times and very brash and harsh in her speech. Nine years on she has no memory of much of the nasty things she said. I wish I did not take it to heart, was tougher and able to shrug it off, but that isn’t me.

I guess what was affecting my sister was the illness, not her true self underneath that was struggling for expression after coming out of a less than satisfying marriage. She went through a lot of loss and change and was trying to support several people she love through death. In the end it all took its toll.   But sometimes it was hard to feel for the vulnerable, soft person underneath who seemed to be hiding. Sometimes (most times) I just could not access that part of her.

It’s not like that now but the memory of those past nastinesses have haunted me and some of her words have remained lodged in my body psyche like pieces of schrapnel. All I really wanted was acknowledgement of this, a genuine sorry and that is what happened today. That sorry helped to break down and express the longing I have to be close. I don’t know how close we can be as we are very different people but I have the desire in my heart to love and be loved by my sister.

Last Friday we finally laid my oldest sister’s ashes to rest. This had to wait over 14 months due to both my mother and my other sister being hospitalised, twice since then, the first time on the day of the funeral. This week I am conscious that something very deep and dark stirred within me. My body has carried and buried a lot, this time it rose up which is par for the course when we have had so many planets in the watery sign of Cancer.   My body felt water logged.

Yesterday there was huge confrontation. This time of year the shift from water to fire is always tumultuous as the Sun opposes my Mars Saturn Moon in the sixth.   Sixth house Mars energy tends to get buried and there is a real need to express but we tend to internalise. The anger I felt came out in a huge blast, I probably could have handled it better if I was more aware but I could only do what I could do.

Once it blows Moon Mars energy is usually spent very quickly and I’ll move on, Saturn thrown into the mix though tends to indicate I’ll meet external Saturn defences which I’ve internalised and give me a lot of fear around emotional expression.  Strong Neptune and a lot of seventh house planets make me fear conflict.

I’m glad for myself I was able to bring this out of the shadows yesterdy. While Mum found it hard to validate the way I really feel, going through this made me realise how a lack of validation and other intense frustrations have shaped me and this helps me to be more aware and learn others of bringing it to light.

I was able to feel more real love for my sister whose apology was so genuine and underneath I felt the love and compassion that was eclipsed when the harder side of her comes out. Mercury opp Moon doesn’t always have an alignment between heart and head, my sister’s Virgo moon probably feels deeply but is reserved, Mercury Pisces plumbs the emotional depths but they are hard to articulate.   And our mutual Chiron Mars aspects end up causing us both problems at times.

I’m feeling so much more peace tonight. I’ve learned a lot over the past 36 hours. I have love in my heart where before there was pain. Loosing Judith my older sister was both hard and also a relief as she suffered so much and was on too many drugs at the end of her life.  Its been hard to fear my sister going down a similar pathway.   I see the way she is trying to front up and deal with things.  I know that can be tough.  I no longer feel such a gulf between us.  I am so grateful for the precious gift of that apology.

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.