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.

Further travels with pain and trauma : bringing light into the dark

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I just spent some hours writing the following blog.  As I read it back it struck me I am just really struggling with loss and feelings.  The inner censor is making some comments. But after a few corrections to typos I putting it out there anyway.  🙂

Last week was really painful and tough. I wish I knew the reason why, then I could make the change to make it better and to feel more of the strength and positivity in the good feelings which are there on many days.  But sometimes, there is a tide that is pulling me back into the darkness and pain especially surrounding the burden of my family history.  With one sister recently passed away and the other struggling with depression, I too, struggle in maintaining a sense of separation from other people’s pain and feelings.  Most  especially I struggle to maintain a sense of happiness and hope for a better future in the face of that darkness.  And I do know that on any day there are a number of choices I can make in placing my energy and time in nurturing, rather than depleting directions.

I have been very aware of being there to support my mother in the face of the difficulties surrounding both siblings.  In the wake of my sister’s death there are the tasks that follow the ending of a life, administrative things to do with death certificates that need to be witnessed  and the issue of the collection and handling of my sister’s ashes.   In this task there is only my mother and me present   None of my sister’s children live close.  Separated from her by the circumstance of her own trauma and their father’s struggle to survive and cope all fours sons live quiet far away.  It was great to have them with us in the time leading up to and just following her death, but now with these other issues to deal with,  it is  quiet a lonely task.  I am grateful in one way to be able to front up ad be there but at other times I am conscious of a deep emptiness that stretches back in our family, so much separation and emotional absence, over many generations which I am trying in some small way to redress.

At times the entire task seems too big and I feel like I am drowning or, at least, struggling to live and breathe and maintain a sense of self and boundaries within it..  I am trying to remember to breathe, move, not to clamp down, not to struggle so much and yet there is so much banked up feeling.

My body suffers a lot on some days.   Its a struggle to get moving and I have body spasms and twists, especially at night.  There is a suck in, push and pull out  out dynamic that happens.  Over the past three years there have been at least seven different hospitalisations of three family members and I have been the one in the middle going backwards and forwards, trying to be supporting, living on my nerves, trying at the same time to support my own life and care of my home and dog, is it any wonder, at the moment that I am feeling so exhausted and longing for some one to care for me.  Oh the joy of Saturn transits!!!   Transiting Saturn is moving back towards natal Neptune and will be squaring Sun, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and the South and North Nodes over the next four months.

I continue to put my hand up for tasks that are often not my responsibility due to the fact others cant, or wont front up.   It my first instinctive response, one that comes naturally to me.  Only after I have volunteered do I realise that I have overcommitted myself and energy not allowing enough time for my own tasks that need attention and yet, if I don’t give love in this situation the emptiness will go on with no light in the darkness at all.

Today I am still in my pyjamas at 2 pm.  We are moving into winter and had a lovely fall of rain last night and throughout the morning it could have been a peaceful morning but  marring the day I had a major cuffufle with my mother this morning.     I wasn’t really aware that the lingering resentment around her own emotional absence over earlier years which lies dormant (and I thought I had dealt with) was about to rear its ugly head  today.  We ended up having one of our painful tussles and I said somethings which hurt her and were probably best left unsaid.  The conversation left us both in tears and with my insides feeling like they had been scoured out with a huge wad of steel wool.

“Maybe its best if we don’t have as much to do with each other for a while” she said. This is her default setting for not dealing with conflict and issues which cut a bit too close to the bone.   I know she is struggling with a lot of painful feelings herself and most of the time I try to go gently on her. But  today I guess I was just feeling angry, sore and raw and a trifle put upon having spent the day yesterday nurturing my sister, driving her back and forward from hospital on a weekend where she is totally institutionalised and sees no one much.  My mother’s comment really hurt.  In the process of grieving my sister’s loss I have very few places to go to share the sadness, as usual it was all about my Mum’s wounded ego.    Earlier she had tried pulling out the guilt card.  “I don’t have much longer left on this earth”.  I called her on it.  This is another one of her tactics for trying to  making me feel bad for addressing painful feelings which she would really rather deny.  “For God’s sake isn’t it time you put it to rest?”.  Most of the time I do and I wish I remembered this one fact :  its not possible to deal with these feelings with my Mum and deep down I am angry at having tried to deal with a challenging situation which has endured over so many bloody years.

We two and do at times  get into some terrible tangles.  They say oil and water don’t mix but sometimes air and water have a lot of trouble too.  Sometimes it really sucks having a parent whose Sun Mercury Saturn hits all of your personal planets, especially the Moon and Venus,  planets of closeness and relationship.  These interconnections can be cutting at times and its not always easy to get a deeper connection and understanding.   And maybe its not even her job  Maybe that responsibility is mine now.  It  was her responsibility at one point and she failed pretty miserably at it and that has left a painful legacy for all three of her daughters, something I am not even going to try and point out.  She couldn’t give what she never got from her own mother in the first place and she has tried, over the past years to make some kind of amends.  After our terminated call I was left questioning myself a lot.  Did I place too much of a burden of expectation upon a parent who is now struggling herself?   Not an easy feeling.

I was lucky enough following my upsetting phone call with my mum to call a very kind and gentle friend. ! Maybe these feelings you are having towards your Mum you can put in a letter”, she said.  “And if you would like to read it to me I would be happy to listen”. This friend has the same name as my sister Judy.  I could always go to Jude with Mum issues and she would understand.  Now I no longer have that older sister to go to who understands but maybe my Higher Power did provide someone else.  I was very grateful for her attempt try to understand where I was coming from and show empathy.

I must say its a huge relief just to be on my own today.  To be in the quiet and peace of home without any obligations or responsibilities pulling on me.  Jasper is sleeping quietly and doesn’t seem to perturbed by having missed his usual morning play in the park.  In a moment I think I will light the fire and read a book.

I’m praying this week will be a little easier than last.  I wonder if its the pain body that has been giving me trouble last week. This is a term Eckhardt Tolle uses to describe the entity that can live inside of us and rear up from time to time.  My own pain body is pretty large.  I have had three major physical traumas, the last two following the painful separation that attended the ending of my marriage.  Its taken me some time to be able to feel deeply into the pain body and the traumatic footprint left by physical and emotional trauma that is more active at night….To find ways to be with it while breathing in the pain instead of reacting to it.  Its taken some years but bearing with this process I have found is beginning to bear fruit.  When I can be with the pain without magnifying the pain the pain does lessen and dissolve and usually if I just concentrate on the breath or a lovely song in my head, I manage to fall asleep.

No one will ever know how hard some day are for me with my Post Traumatic Stress.  Its not something you can see and its not always there.  At times pain that is submerged, emerges as tides of consciousness recede as I attempt to let go and slip away into sleep.  On some days my body contorts a lot in a way that I have seen in images of shell shock victims following war.  I read somewhere in book on Buddhism that traumas cause a twisted “tsa” or energy.  At times I feel that twisting is trying to find a way to unravel.  It is not ever present, it comes and goes.

I’m making an effort to try and find words for my experience because at times its lonely.  In the end its my responsibility to deal with it.  There really isn’t anyone else.  I have tried a lot of therapy and was once told by the astrologer Melanie Reinhardt that my kind of trauma is often not helped my most therapists.  Instead I try to find ways of dealing with it alone having gone through repeated let downs and frustrations with therapists.   Maybe this is my Saturn Moon Mars legacy.   In the end it is what I must carry because I can’t check out with any kind of pain relief due to my sobriety.  In any case this kind of legacy is beyond pain relief of the pharmaceutical kind.

Instead I look to life  I look to the breathe.  I cuddle little Jasper and feel the healing of his soft tummy lying close to my sore tummy  And I continue to commit to seeking the light and to remembering that although the darkness does exist there are still tools available to build a fire, to bring light, warmth, energy and healing to the dark places.

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Better to Light a Candle, than to Curse the Darkness

Love starts with loving myself

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We all have bad days.  When we have undergone a lot of loss or pain and sadness or if we have come out of an abusive relationship, one in which someone tried to convince us we were not lovable the bad days can be really, really bad.  I know how it is cause three years ago I came out of one of those relationships.  I have just watched a documentary on a woman who following the loss of her partner was scammed over the internet by a young Nigerian man who eventually seduced her to give away to him all of her life savings. She then gave up her life in Australia and moved to Nigeria and was dead within a short time.  This story resonated with me for following the end of my emotionally abusive relationship I too was scammed for a considerable amount of money.  At that time my head was full of many of the nasty things my ex had told me about me.  I thought finding love from someone else could erase this pain.  In the end it only led to more pain, but on a positive note, this experience did help me to turn my life around.

I look back now and the deep abandonment pain I felt  is no longer there. I realise this was a lesson I had to live through on my path towards self love and self understanding.  Lacking love and support of my true self over many years I learned to abandon myself.  I feel incredibly grateful to no longer live in that place.  It has taken a lot of work to get here and to feel good. I still have some bad days, especially following the loss of my older sister but good days do follow.  What I do know now is that my happiness rests in my own hands.  Only I have the power to give my goodness away, only I have the power to protect and nurture it.

Following on this belief I would like to share a daily meditation from Tian Dayton’s book “One Foot In Front Of The Other.”  Tian specialises in helping people affected by a loved one’s addiction or attachment to non nuturant relationships.   She has been a light on my own path of healing.

Feeling Good

I am the one who ultimately needs to sustain my own state of mind.  If I don’t keep my spirit strong, no one else will, no one else can.  My state of mind and my mood are my responsibility.  I will set the intention of feeling good, knowing that that is a way of increasing good entering my day.  My breath connects my body with my spirit so breath awareness is a time honoured way to elevate my mood. Today I will take moments throughout my day to consciously breathe out anxiety and breathe in peace and serenity.  Through breathing easily and deeply I invite spirit in.  This is a simple form of meditation that I can do when I am sitting still, lying down or walking. I can let my mood lighten as I repeat this gentle process over and over again, until I experience a subtle shift.  Meditating in this way is accessible and easy.  It gives me a way of calming my mind and body and restoring good feeling whenever I want to.

I sometimes forget to breathe deeply, or I can get so focused on a task I sometimes get caught up in my head and on a subtle level loose contact with my body.  I noticed this today and while I was gardening made a deliberate intention to focus on the breath, not in an artificial way, but in a way that opened me up to being in the present and finding everything in the moment vital, vibrant and alive. While I was eating dinner tonight I came upon this writing of Tian’s and it resonated with the experience of my day.

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