The loving gaze

I wrote this post earlier in the week.

As a child we need the loving eyes of the mother to connect with, to mirror us. I had a powerful experience in today’s body work session as my therapist was working with my spine.  I was standing upright and she was touching me gently around the heart, one hand on the front and the other behind.

As usually happens, she was reminding me to breathe. At that moment I had trouble breathing and then I was pulled deeply into a past traumatic time/memory  :  I am in the car with my lungs crushed by the steering wheel and my teeth broken, legs cut with car pieces inside them, searing pain although me, struggling to breathe as my lung is pierced by a rip and fluid flows inward, paramedics behind me with a mask trying to put it over my face which I wanted to fight and twist to push off.

My therapist kept her gaze on mine and I felt anxious at connecting to her gaze being so powerfully drawn in by the trauma and in the session, her gaze became for me an anchor to connect me with present time. My tendency is to dissociate back into the trauma which obviously still lives for me on a body level.

As she was looking into my eyes with love and telling me I was safe a huge well of emotion rose up. Trauma takes you into a lonely place where it seems no one else can accompany you. It is about a split or a removal from a place of connectedness and love where you are flooded with pain and no one can help you or reach you. You feel yourself to be so alone.

On the day of my accident all those years ago I was conscious enough to be able to give the paramedics my mother and father’s telephone number. Mum came to the site of the accident and rode with me in the ambulance. I was lucky to be found. At the time I was so caught up in my own experience I had not consciousness of its impact on others.

I have relived this event in another cranio-sacral session many years ago after which I had a bike accident and the pattern was repeated, except this time I was on the other side of the world with no support, only my ex husband and his mother who didn’t want to have to really be bothered with me. It was a dark and lonely time.

Glimpses of light came. The beautiful girl from my Dad’s home down in Holland who came to help me with my shopping and be a companion when I needed it. I don’t know how I would have survived without her.

And yet then again the family I was with were unable to cope and I made the decision to take myself to Glastonbury and an ashram away from the support of my friend.  This is a pattern for me.  Uranus and Pluto in the first house.

There are imprints and echoes for me at this time of year which represents the time I was in hospital in 1979 in the final term of school unable to attend my graduation and of that journey to the underworld over in England later in 2005.

It takes time to integrate the overwhelming nature of trauma. I am still deep in process. I seem to be making progress.

Last week was hard. I had four days where the trauma pulled me in, what pulls me out each time is talking to someone, my best friend, my Mum or the Lifeline counsellor on the days no one else is answering the phone call.

Without love and connection there is nothing to form  a link into the traumatised reality and the fact it scares others, since we are undergoing enormous fear means we can be abandoned again. As a trauma sufferer who has often lashed out I am grateful for those who understand and don’t abandon me. I think of the times I was alone as a child and there was no set of eyes to see me. To hold me in a loving gaze.

It is something my recently deceased sister used to give me, in the absence of my Mum’s care she was there, until she married and went overseas. In later life in the care home she would often gaze on me with love. She too was traumatised, she was stuck, it’s a family pattern.

I am not entirely sure where this blog has gone. I just came home from the dog park where I have not been able to connect with the group I usually connect to. They are caught up in an easy banter and joking that on some days I just cannot participate in.

I need to just play with my dog and have some simple time together where we are not frozen in place by conversation but are free to move about the park. I am aware today how important movement is for me.

The longing for the loving gaze from the wrong quartes is not as strong now I have the therapeutic support. Being seen, held and understood makes it easier to do this for myself.

For now I want to write about the experience as it so important that those living within a traumatised reality are understood and attempts made to connect with them.

You do not know what even a kindly smile can do for a person who may not have seen or been able to connect with anyone else all day. In the end its love that heals, its non judgemental awareness and presence which makes trauma bearable for us.  Even if you cannot understand, even it scares you, please try.  And if you cannot, please try to be kind.  Do not devastate us more with your misunderstanding, fear and judgement.

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.

Entering the wound – Liberating the body’s truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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