Thank you God – Even through the Dark Night

This is a blog I wrote heading in to my 22nd birthday of addiction recovery.  I felt reticent about posting it but today I am letting it out into the open air of blogsville to breathe:

Today I am full of an immense feeling of gratitude.  I love these kind of days.  In six days time it will be my 22nd birthday of sobriety.  On 6 of 3December 1993, I entered the rooms of AA and I learned that I could stop drinking a day a time.

It may seem simple but it had just not occurred to me to not take the first drink.  Wasn’t the problem that I couldn’t just stop at 4 or 5? In the rooms of AA I learned that the first drink set up a compulsion over which I was powerless.  I was not in a position to argue since I was SICK TO DEATH of they way I was feeling in being on the roller coaster of binge drinking that seemed to be like a run away train that would destroy anything good in my path.  That December I stopped drinking alcohol and a short while later I stopped smoking too.  I cannot tell you the happiness that followed for me.

It was not an easy time.  I had lost a job, I was newly married and I found I was not able to drink but at the same time I had the support of a good man who loved me and wanted to move forward in to a healthy life with me.  When I was shown that I was heading down a self destructive pathway that could ultimately hurt both of us I decided I had to do something.  Luckily from my first meeting I got sobriety and I haven’t drunk since.

Ten years into recovery I must say I was under the influence of my own inner script of powerless hopelessness even without a drink in me because all my past pain and grief that had not been dealt with which was rising up in me to be known.  It pulled me inwards and downwards and backwards.  I pulled the pin on my life attempt to move overseas and ground into a new life.  I cane back to Australia.

After much toing and froing after a few years of returning “home” my marriage ended.  Transiting Uranus which is natally in my first house was opposing itself and transiting the seventh house of relationships.  I felt the urge of a caterpillar spiralling about inside a cocoon bursting out but it was a bursting into a dark place.

I went into my cocoon at that time.  I was for me, the dark night of the soul that is spoken of in spiritual circles. It was a journey down, a descent into my body from which I had for so many years and after so much trauma attempted to take flight,  a descent into grief, into wracking painful body symptoms of being crushed, breathless, struggling to breath, feeling like a weight was on me, drowning, coughing up blood and phlegm, being shaken by paroxysms of muscular and nervous tension, pushing and pulling over which I had not much conscious control (or so it seemed to me, now I see the journey to heal was about seeing I did play a part in how how things turned).  It was like being buffeted about in wild seas, learning to ride the wave and being tumbled under at times, dumped, beached, coughing up sea foam, a twin dance of action and surrender.

Really this DNOTS (dark night of the soul) was and is indescribable.  Only if you have been through it will you know.  And while in it you don’t know how long it will last, if it will ever end and if you will come out alive, which on some level you don’t as you come out of it transformed on some level, while simultaneously also stripped back to the essence of who you really were that got covered over by layers and layers of soot and conditioning over many years.

Its not nice having the skin stripped off you.  You feel raw and exposed.  At times you feeling like am amorphous omeba who does not know who or what it is for.  You look around and everything you thought you knew, trusted or defined you no longer makes sense and there is a terrible feeling that you are dead and there is no energy left to keep living and yet still from somewhere comes the desire to live anyway.  Often only after enduring the darkest of dark moments where you have had to make the perilous journey back to meet the child, adolescent and young adult you were, to bear witness to the traumas, see your powerlessness and unconsciousness, feel and allow to move through you those overpowering (at times) emotions of anger and grief and when you do find the lighter ones hidden inside that got covered over love, enthusiasm, joy.

In a way its almost impossible to communicate about the DNOTS…. but I try anyway.  I get upset when I see people going through it being treated like they are mad.. as one of my favourite spiritual writers had said sometimes on the spiritual path you have to go mad in order to transform into the one you were always meant to be, outside of what was demanded of you by people who didn’t have a clue and led you to feel you don’t either.

In the end its a great paradox and like all paradoxes, difficult to locate and name, and yet perhaps due to the fact that Uranus soon will station forward and finally pull free of its long drawn out square to Pluto it is incumbent on me to try.  For Uranus awakens that which Pluto transforms through these kind of Dark Night Experiences and those who undergo them, must speak to help others to know there is a light the other side of the Dark Night if you trust, surrender and weather the storm.

Wow where did all that come from in a blog that started with a feeling of immense gratitude?  Well my gratitude is that all through this Dark NIght something has sustained me.  At moments of most intense suicidal feeling I have found somewhere within the will to keep living, but only when I have been vulnerable enough to surrender to and articulate the truth I was feeling, dark and scary and strange as it seemed to myself and others.  I’ve been misjudged, I’ve been rejected, called names, subject to dismissive and minimising comments and these reactions hurt me but in the end I was able to bear them when I found the love for myself to not be crippled by them and not to take them on.  They were, in the end the a reflection of the level of consciousness of those who spoke them and came out of fear, perhaps at seeing me have to struggle.  I understand that now.

Recovery has shown me that I have to be willing to look death, pain and suffering in the face and know truly that none of these things can really destroy my essence.  Recovery has shown me that only surrender to a deeper will and wisdom ever really helps, for to choose not to surrender, to choose not to die every day means we never truly live and can never truly be reborn, refashioned, made new through acceptance of our all too human imperfection.

There is enormous love there hidden deep which we find when we are willing to be in the dark and face our past pain, unconsciousness and despair to find the truth that we did the best we could.  Despite all of this pain and suffering it is a wonderful world, full too of good things. A kindness that comes out of nowhere, acceptance shown to us when we truly unmask and find our spiritual family, and the love we feel when through loving and accepting ourselves in all our wounded and hurting places we emerge, from out of the dark night into the day of light.

 

Orpheus : Reflections on Looking Back

I go through a huge tug of war in my mind at times, on this long and complicated, twisted, winding road of healing engaged deeply as I am, not only with memories of the past that haunt and echo along a chamber of years, but pulled in and dragged deeply down by underground emotions never completely integrated that lie subterranean like vast underground reservoirs.

One reservoir contains grief, another anger and yet another confusion, loneliness, self doubt, thwarted development and questioning. And yet there is another powerful place that I visit, one that contains joy, celebration, wonder, happiness and awe, one that is filled with longings and desires that have no thwarted hurt contained within them.  This is the place I am longing to live but I know its existence depends upon the truth of the other world too being felt and understood.

The conflict I have been experiencing at present is with questioning the need and desire to look back and dive down deep into those older pools of suffering which I KNOW have been essential to navigate, when I feel the greater peace experienced in the light filled world.  And so today after reading another writers blog on Orpheus I have been prompted to write this blog.

In the mythic tale of Orpheus, we meet someone who has endured a great loss in the realm of love.  The love of Orpheus, Eurydice has died and been taken to the Underworld.  Orpheus pines and longs for his lost love, he courts the favour of the Gods who strike a bargain with Orpheus, they allow him to visit the Underworld and reclaim Eurydice on one condition : that he does not look back.

Orpheus travels to the Underworld to be reunited with Eurydice but as they are leaving Orpheus is prompted by either fear or mistrust to look back where in Eurydice is taken once again.  I should imagine that now Orpheus has undergone twin losses, the initial painful loss of his love and the second missed opportunity made more tormenting due to his so called mistake or error.

Astrologers Liz Green and Juliet Sharman Burke associated Orpheus and his myth with the planetary energy of Neptune.  And  I resonate strongly with the story of Orpheus, I have strong Neptune and Neptune rules my Chiron in Pisces in the seventh house or relationships.

There was a time fourteen years ago when I had the chance to move forward in my own personal life and make a break from a complex family history of tragedy to the other side of the world.  I took steps in my new life to move towards healing and understanding,  I was in therapy and moving towards a course of study in Psychological Astrology.  And at this time Saturn was passing through my 9th house of overseas journeys, higher learning and just crossing the midheaven into the 10th house of career.

At this time as psychic forces were building within me to make the break I had a powerful dream.  In the dream I was ascending a spiral staircase and on the stair case as I was climbing the stairs with my husband coming down the stairs was another couple.

Next in the dream on there was a powerful explosion of energy it was not only on the stair it was deep within my spine (in the dream the staircase a powerful metaphor for my spine?).  Then I was in a room and the walls were closing in on me.  It was as though I was trying to be born and reach through to the new life but I was being squeezed.

At this time there was a powerful pull deep within my psyche to return to Australia.  My mother had fallen my sister who has recently died was undergoing difficulties our house lease ended with no possibility of extending.  And so my husband and I returned.  Within three years my marriage was ended.  I was alone in the underworld in a deep dark place.  I had looked back and lost, captured and trapped.

Its interesting to me to consider as I write that Saturn is now opposite the position it was in when I had the spiral staircase dream and so much came to pass that brought me back.  It was as if Saturn had to travel back down from its elevated view in order for me to renegotiate essential experiences of my development which could only be understood by returning and loosing everything, thus launching me on the interior journey but that underground journey came at a terrible price.  I was consenting on some level to being buried for some years deep in the dark night.

As Saturn crossed my ascendant some seven years later I had another relationship which challenged the path I was on of healing and negotiating the past.  The entire first house transit of Saturn engaged me on a push pull dynamic of self and other. In the end the urge for self became too strong and the relationship shattered when he wanted me to be a satellite of his self.  When Saturn went into the second house of self value the conflict of his extraverted narcissism rubbing against my own buried introverted narcissism caused a rupture and I was drawn on the path of reclaiming my own sense of self love and self value.

Looking back, experiencing the entire reservoir of feeling left behind and buried in the deep underworld of myself has been essential and yet there have been so many challenges to this journey from others who saw it as a kind of indulgence.  And at the moment this blog is not even making sense and yet I must persist after having written it once and having lost entirely that first draft, since on the second writing it is morphing less into a meditation on Orpheus and looking back and more into an exploration of Saturn as it has passed through the eastern hemisphere of my chart since 2001.

The spiral staircase in my dream has also for me the resonance image of the journey of growth in consciousness of our deeper soul self as we travel through life, a journey I see as spiral in nature in that we seem to go through cycles and repetitions as we travel which enable us both to dig deep and get at an under standing (seeing underneath what happened of which we were not conscious before) and get a broader view from above.

To expand on some themes of the dream maybe in the dream travelling as I was up the stairs I thought that on some level that by going overseas and getting away from the family I could gain freedom and perspective and yet in the dream while travelling in this direction I met a couple travelling back down (down under to Australia the land of my birth) and the explosion happened. I was pulled back to experience the tragedy and trauma here first hand with all others stripped away for a time.

And so I find myself here today, on the 15th of July remembering deeply after yesterday diving into one of the deep underground reservoirs the time in July 2004 when my husband returned and packed all his things to leave me alone on the 4th of August just as the Sun crossed my ascendant.  I was looked down on by he and his family, misjudged, discarded for being too sad, for not being the happier person he needed me to be.  And so,  I was launched onto my own healing journey and the remembering of all the other losses evoked by that leaving cycling and cycling around the history over 11 more revolutions, Eurydice in my own Underworld and only partly at home here longing for Orpheus to return as he longed and grieved for me.

Am I Orpheus or Eurydice?  I am both.  I am both he who travels down into that place and she who is there.  I am also the one who returns to the Upper world informed by the suffering of the Underworld, carrying that suffering and all those powerful memories of loss of so called “mistakes” which were really just deeper learnings forward, translating it all into a longing for life, real deep, true authentic soul life in which there is a part for everything, loss, grief, longing, desire, love and ultimately joy.

This joy is not happiness it is a joy that rests not on the absence of consciousness of suffering and its fruit but is joy that is all more valuable, powerful and poignant for having been informed by the agony and ecstasy of darker experiences and emotions not negated but endured, alchemised.

The Darkest Part

Over here in the Southern Hemisphere we are slowly making our way to the darkest part of the year.  There is a lot of light in the sunshine days that have a clarity only present in winter, but in the depths of my soul I sense the inner darkness that contains a multitude of experiences, losses, endings and grief that become most acute for me at this time of year.

I need a place to give voice to this experience, to externalise what banks up inside.

Today I have had very strong thoughts of suicide.  I have been feeling the weight of supporting others and the weight of the strong Saturnian part of me so strongly in recent months and days that I have felt I can not find a point to it all. And yet as I allow these thoughts and feelings a place I find, curiously, that I can move beyond them.

A well of grief opened up this afternoon.  It took me unawares.  I went out to a local café to have a cup of coffee, I watched the lovers together, families and others like me alone.  I felt so far apart in some way, ever so slightly off kilter.  I then went looking at clothes at a shop in the city where, as synchronicity would have it, I ran into an old friend from childhood.  When she asked me how I was and I was explaining about recent events, my mother’s fractured pelvis, my sister’s long battle with depression, my own attempts to support I felt the most intense tiredness and then tears just burst out through the banks, I could not really hold them back.  She said to me “Who is caring for the carer?”  It was a pertinent question.

Adding to the sad feeling earlier this week I had a dream about my ex husband leaving me.  I had left a pot of rice to boil on the stove and forgotten it then I looked into an adjacent room and he was packing his bags and on the bed was a note explaining why he needed to go.  Later in the dream I said to a friend.  “He left me because I left him alone too much.”  Today is the anniversary of our meeting 23 years ago and soon it will the anniversary of his leaving 11 years ago.  The exact number of years we were married.

I am aware today of the undercurrents within all of these anniversaries and that my husband was alone before I met in the deepest part of his soul, looking for something in me I could not give.  The truth was when I met him I was in a very dark place in terms of my soul and my addiction.  For a  time meeting him bought connection into my life, a shift out of the increasingly lonely place I inhabited in my addiction.  In time I found sobriety and we had happy years but I had not yet found myself and he found it difficult to accept that was a journey I needed to go on.  That journey left him feeling very alone.  I feel great sadness about this while accepting its reality.

Embarking on that process of healing for me, meant he felt he was left alone, but also he could not accept the totality of my emotion and so I was left alone too.  That kind of journey often has to be taken alone, at least that is my experience.

It may be a legacy of my Saturn Moon signature that in emotional matters I have found myself to be alone.  That is slowly changing as I have found two new supportive people in my life who really get the depth of what I have been and am going through, however in the past three weeks one of these people has been absent.

I am aware that I am having to hold many emotions inside that I can explore with this person in the safety of her little room which is like a womb or a cave to me where I journey down and inward to the darkest most hidden part of me.

After my breakdown in the shop with my friend I felt the need to be at home.  I was overcome with grief as my little dog Jasper ran out to meet me so eagerly as I drove into the garage.  I was grateful that some being is there for me, waiting patiently and is willing to be with me and bear witness to these tears which I really needed to shed today.  Dogs don’t question you or quarrel with you about feelings, asking for reasons why.  That is a great comfort.

I am aware of the slow grind of Mercury inching back towards a wide opposition with Saturn over the next six days.  There is a heaviness around me which seems to have karmic and ancestral themes and I am aware of the blockages to communication that are part of this transit and how they have manifested in absences for me of those I depend upon emotionally.

In the severity of my PTSD spiral in the bath today as I sounded out the Voo sound which Trauma specialist Peter Levine recommends using when working through the freeze state I was aware of the foghorn sounding out as my ancestors left the docks in Cornwall bound for New Zealand.   I wondered about the DNA spiral helix and what it contains.  Something dark and deep was resonating.  I cant give it words, there were only intimations in my soul.

The afternoon sun now is throwing its long shadows over the garden as it moves towards it daily sleep.  I am aware that the brightness of the waning full moon will be lessening, it has been waking me as it crosses past my bedroom window before setting around 4 am these last few days.  I feel the approaching of the winter solstice here, always a time of reaching into the darkest part of me.  I know I need to find ways to bear witness to this, to hold myself through it, painful as it is, to honour what truths and memories is has for me.  I know I cant ask the world to honour that for me, its a deeply interior experience.  And yet I find the need to give a voice to it.

I am aware of the dark twin which is echoed in the mythic theme of Gemini which shadows these current transits through that sign.  It speaks of the shadow self that is a constant companion on this road to understanding, it speaks of understandings that come when we accept contradictory parts of our nature and of the openness that is needed to explore the darker side of life and love.

For in much wisdom is grief,

and he that increaseth knowledge

increaseth sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:18

The Light within the Dark

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Deep down in here it is dark

But somewhere the light is shining

Shadows are being thrown over things

By a past that was full

Of so many painful experiences

Hurts, betrayals, losses and endings

Trauma, smashing ups, crushing pain

The consequences of difficult decisions

And the deep tearing of much life taken

I carry the memory of all this

And the cellular imprints

Deep within

And wake each morning

Struggling to breathe

Holding fast on the knife edge of pain

Paying attention to

And loosening the contraction

Of this prolonged dark night

And re-birth

And yet there is light

In the sweet kindness that is shown

In the sunny greeting of my little dog

Doing his joyous “where’s breakfast?” dance

In the sparkle of sun on water

In the compassion and empathy you show

In the recognition that pain is pain

Deep, dark and difficult at times

But with its own gifts too

Now is growing the understanding

That this pain can be held

In the sweet embrace of love

When you look on me tenderly

And with compassion

And when I do the same for me

And for others too

Then a powerful light grows

Deep within the darkness

And I realise the pain of holding on

Is recognised in the light of understanding

And released in the light of that recognition

I open my clenched fists

And take deep breaths

And surrender to the love

That wants to enter

That love does not erase the memory of pain

But holds it tenderly

And is the soothing balm

That will work its powerful alchemy

Helping the sting to fade

With time

Through this opening

I find the courage to move out

Into the light

Where love can be found

Deep within the hearts

Of those who have suffered

And let love win

And made their peace with nature

And life

In all its terrible beauty majesty and mystery

Emerging through the Dark Night

Image

I sat with you

I held your hand

I kept the all night vigil

While you unleashed an ocean of tears

A flood that almost drowned you

Sucked deep by the tidal pull

Of that underground swell

You held firmly to this place

While all the fears and demons threatened

To unfurl you from this mortal coil

Pulling from every direction

At times they were not even conscious

But the pain was deep

It was the body that wept

Expelling slowly the silted up debris

Of ages

The pain of many generations

Over many years

You were held deep in the silent embrace

Of this house by the sea

Cast adrift

This house was the boat within which you undertook

The perilous night sea journey

Into the unfathomable depths

Of the collective unconscious

Somewhere from deep inside your belly

I hear a child is crying

Longing for its pain and loneliness to be heard

Over how many lifetimes

Was she torn away from her mother

By the fickle restless winds

Of change and fate

Which blew with gale force all round her

Sweeping everything away

From somewhere close

Not too far

The silent witness watched

As death took everything into its mouth

Chewed it round

And digested it

It wasn’t personal

It was just life

Entering its dark phase

The winter before spring

Where the ground of essential being

Seemed to fall fallow

While inwardly new seeds

Were incubating

Through this process

The witness could only hold still
In that shattering place

While everything broke apart

Loosened, dislodged and dissolved

By a greater force

Some higher power

Had its way and begged you

to awaken to a knowing

That could not have come in any other way

But through the dissolution of breakdown

The deeper realisation

So long in dawning

That you were not to blame

For failures that stretched

Such a long way back

And bore painful seeds

That had to germinate slowly

Within the subtle body

Within this hall of mirrors

All turned back to back

You finally saw the truth

And recognised with awe

Where hunger and longing led

To the pain of addiction and promiscuity

Cries of the soul

That arouse out of the unmothered self

Passed down over generations

Whispering from deep within

The rejected body

Now you must hold

And love your rejected being

Back into life

Deeply you feel it

This, the calling to awaken and to understand

The longing to be seen

To be held

To be mirrored

To be cherished

To be nurtured

To hold and to be held

What a terrible storm we endured

Over those 7 years

A storm that had to be weathered

That could not abate

That blew up king tides

There was no other way

But to endure it

But while you were in the midst of it all

The mist and fog swirled around you

It was hard to see ahead

And nothing was clear

Could not be clear

Until the storm and tides did their work

Of changing the psychic landscape

How else could it have been

And yet you longed and longed

With that burning hunger

That could only be understood

And healed through the suffering through

Of those storms and tides

Yet for years you beat yourself up

For whatIn the end

Was not even your fault

So you fell to your knees

And in prayer

Summoned up the witness

Suffering the final defeat

Which led to the ultimate surrender

In this admission of powerlessness

In the crypt

In the arms of this final defeat

Is an unending victory

And though you only sense this

Having reached the end

Through realising ultimately

The fruitlessness of any further action

You surrender completely

And begin to finally grieve

For all that was lost

For what can never be changed or replaced

Such a bitter pill to swallow

It took nearly all your strength

To digest it

Grief was the pain

You coughed up

Over and over

Until recognition came

And now the past is finally being released

In this place by the ocean

Where day by day you suffered such doubt

Something deeper knows

Tormenting voices float away on the breeze

Saying you are nothing

Have nothing,

Mean nothing

This is the voice of the outside world

That sees without depth

That does not value

The essential soul and spiritual deep

Some truths can’t be shared or spoken

Can never be fully understood

By those who fear the depths

Or see them as madness

And in that fearing would cast you out

But that’s okay

Is how it must be

For at the ending

Comes the acceptance

And the reconciliation of everything

And this ending is simultaneously

A new beginning

A new beginning that can only come

After all is stripped away

For so long you were strung

Over an abyss of change so deep

It split you open

Right down the centre

Night after night over many years

You stretched and held yourself still

In the post traumatic burning

While balancing and trying to align

Each energy centre

That ran along the spine

You were twisted

And had to balance

The twin currents

The dual poles of the cadeucus

To birth your wholeness

Out of fractures

Over those years

You dissolved in the ocean

And became the ocean

It was an ocean that you crossed

And the suffering of that crossing

Had to be borne

There could be no holding back

And the fear of extinction had to be confronted.

Don’t hold back out of fear, Deborah

Have the courage to dive fearlessly into that void

Into the undoing

To face the searing emptiness

That scorches flesh from bone

Throw it all into the fire

Submit to burn to dross

All that is not real

Was never real

Allow yourself to be singed

By the fire

That purifies and resolves

Through its burning

All the pain of the past

Then what is essential and timeless

Will be revealed

Let the cords that bind you to the past snap

One by one

Until the tightness and resistance

Passes away

And melts int he open spaciousness of being

All through those years

At the time of darkest despair

You heard the voice of the Goddess saying

You will emerge

From the Dark Night victorious

And see one day

The dawn of a new day

Bright and clear

After the storm of the dark night has passed