Sweet Surrender

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How would it be

If we could enter our innocent heart

And feel the power

Of deep true feelings

Blossoming forth

Like flowers

And set them free

Without care or concern

For the opinions and responses of others

Freed from old imprints of

Shame

Disapproval

Disregard

How sweet that would be

I remember

That funeral

When old unfelt grief poured forth

And I cried like a child

The look of contempt

You gave

I was reaching out with the arms of love

To his grieving grandchildren

Who returned my embrace

And we melted in

They didn’t stiffen and pull away

And I remember too

The tender hugs

Of the other dancers

As we fell spent to the floor

After we danced the element water

On the evening of that painful day

When you came to me in the garden

By the Chalice Well

And told me that you

Who I had loved for eleven years

Now loved another

The child in me cried

For there were layers and layers of loss

But the child in me also danced

With that great abandon

That is the soul’s true release

Revealing how sweet it would feel

To enter my innocent heart

To look upon all of this suffering

With the eyes of a child

Eyes of love

Eyes of hope

Eyes of forgiveness

Holding nothing back 

No pretending

To feel this

To allow this expression

To live deeply centred

In a child’s pure soul

Would be surely be for me

The sweetest

Of sweet surrenders

To value life

Hearing that a loved one is perhaps dying is a very big shock. I guess my first real brush with death happened when my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1984. I only so young then, I was only 22 but a very young 22, I had just spent a year in my first job at the Research School of Biological Sciences and had moved out of home for the second time to share with some friends who were in the military at the Duntroon college here in Canberra. I was running a bit wild on the weekends but also holding down a second job waitressing to save for my overseas trip with my then partner Jim.

Dad’s diagnosis was a big shock to us and I have shared how it was the one time we connected where Dad expressed his emotions and I really felt his vulnerability. Up till then we had had a lot of healthy disagreement because I didn’t like my Dad was a property developer who was bulldozing old buildings to put up huge modern office blocks with my brother. I was also unconsciously angry he would not support my academic studies and forced me to go to business college.

Dad’s illness was in some ways mercifully short. He was operated on December and came out briefly from hospital on 24 December only to be returned in the early hours of Christmas morning. He died while they performed an emergency tracheoctomy on him to help him breathe in the early hours of Thursday 8 January. I got the call at work to come home.

I never got to say goodbye. I had not been well enough to go to the hospital, I was to be leaving for India in January to meet my partner who left in December and had had shots the day before Dad died. As it was my partner broke it off with me in the middle of the night shortly after Dad died, he told me not to come overseas but Mum forced me to go on with the trip which was horrendous. My brother handled the funeral and I never got to see Dad’s body. I do not remember the funeral at all, only some of the wake and not even a lot of that. Within a month I was alone overseas in the UK and very lost.

Lately I have achieved some kind of peace with Dad’s death. I have a post banked up on what grieving people need and how each death is personal and different according to the relationship we had with the person, Dad was always emotionally remote to me, as is my brother so I have struggled so much in my relationships with men, most of my partners could never validate me emotionally and my last partner caused me untold damage by not even trying to understand my complicated grief issues. That said I would often lash out due to anger I had with my father at not really ‘getting’ me and showing me empathy. I am sure I had to go through all of this pain in life to learn what a loving relationship with a healthy emotionally validating partner is, and harder to believe I do deserve to be treated with more empathy and respect.

Now that my friend, Christine seems to be possibly suffering from cancer the synchronicity of timing is not lost on me. I found my Mum also lost close friends in the final years of her life very close to the anniversary of Dad’s illness, diagnosis and death. In the case of my father it dogged every Christmas celebration and one year my older sister and I found ourselves at logger heads, it was the year Jonathan left me.

Christine’s illness is a reminder to me, too of my own brushes with death. Four of us have been diagnosed with cancer in my family, my father, my brother, my second oldest sister and I. I have not been brave enough to go for my own breast cancer check up yet, it is something I know I must deal with.

I wanted to write this post though to work through how intrinsically death and life can seem to be inter-related. Really bad grief or sadness or loss can steal our life energy for a long time and can be made more complex by earlier, perhaps unresolved griefs. What is clearer to me after all the research and reading I have done on grief as well as my experience of seeing how the failure to deal with, or rather struggle to do so manifested in my family is that we do need support and validation in our grief, in order to move through it an embrace life energy again. That said if the bond to someone is powerful, for example in the case of Johnny Cash and June Carter that I shared about in recent posts the death of one may bring about the death of the other.

Its is our heart energy that is most impacted through loss, death or leavings. I know my own heart and panic symptoms began when Jonathan told me he was leaving me. The month he spent with me before packing up to go ‘home’ to the UK in July 2004 was one of the most painful periods of my life and the following 7 years spent in the wilderness of abandonment involved a brush with death due to a head injury on the first anniversary and a bad fall on the second, but maybe on all those years we were together I was on the run from my own grief and trying my damndest to live. I think of how I struggled with the grief in my body and how little affirmation or recognition I so often got. I think of how grief still gives me ‘spins’ at critical times of the day and especially around the 5 pm critical timeslot which was when I went head over heels over my bicycle following a cranio sacral session to deal with earlier trauma. Maybe I would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie, who knows if I bought the accident on myself as my sister tried to tell me many years ago. It was just so hard to trust a family so often shut down who told me I should not be where I was nor doing it as tough as I was. That said I know its not their fault either. I truly do believe everyone does the very best they can with what they know at the time. Its just sometimes their ‘best’ falls woefully short.

My inner critic gave me a hard time again today for going over and over my trauma again in this blog earlier. It told me I need to be ‘moving on’ and that its boring for my followers. I will let you be the judge of how accurate my critic is, while acknowledging that at times my fear and sensitivity may have kept me more stuck than I needed to be.

That said I am alive and I want to live, I really really do. Life is full of such a profound mix of ‘blessings’ and ‘curses’ and in the end its up to us how we handle them and the attitude we take to them as well as the choices we make in the face of it all that makes our life what it is, and so often we are not always consciously choosing. Today I choose as much as I can to embrace life, despite my knowledge of how vulnerable it can be at times to live and face death. But I want this awareness of death to always help me keep my heart open to love and to the opportunities to connect and be fully alive that life constantly presents me with.

A vial containing our tears : reflections on grief and grieving

There is a beautiful psalm or bible passage that I cannot remember the reference to which says that God counts and collects each one of our tears.  In a culture which so often denigrates grief it is important for us to know that our sorrow is not unimportant or in vain.  The implication is so often that we need to ‘be over it’, not carry it forward or just make sure we don’t make others too uncomfortable around us, because it can be hard for those who have not dealt with or are familiar to a grieving process to understand how essential the shedding of tears is.

I watched a movie a few weeks ago about a painful loss called The Shack and in it Sam Worthington plays an adult child of an alcoholic and abusive Dad who ends up losing his youngest daughter to a violent crime.   The movie is about his quest to come to terms with the anger, pain, sadness and resentment he holds towards a God who he feels ‘has forsaken him’ in allowing such a terrible thing to happen.  He ends up being transported to a cottage where he lives for a time with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and in one scene the Asian singer/actress who plays the later part holds up a vial that is full of his tears.   

This image speaks to me of ‘holding’ and containment which are two things we can really struggle with if we are not surrounded by those who assist us and support us to grieve.   I know in my own life that after my father died and my partner abandoned me I went overseas with much unresolved grief.  I acted it out over the next 8 years of my active addiction and my recovery was a journey to find my way back to it in order to understand, feel and release it.  (I am not going to say to ‘heal’ it because in a sense I think its a central mistake of our culture that grief is an illness that need to be cured or fixed somehow.)  Its a sad indictment of our modern society that in past years there has been a move to have grief included as a mental illness in the bible of psychiatry The DSM.   

Grief that is unresolved can indeed make us mentally and emotionally unwell.  To my mind it can be the huge unspoken ‘monster’ that lives at the basis of addictions and anger and the rage of acting out of terrorism and other means of reclaiming a sense of power and control within situations where we are actually overpowered.  Grief itself is feared by many because it is like a tidal wave in a way.  We can try to run from it or defend against it, but in my experience it always then finds some kind of way to knock us over sideways.  Far better not to see it as a monster but as a rejected energy that wants us to turn towards, surrender and acknowledge it.  

Being able to accept that grief is there and that we are powerless to a degree is the first step.  We can use different forms of containment.  For me dancing and writing and walking help to move the grief through my body, the freeze state of some traumas and traumatic injuries can be all about frozen grief that brings a critical event to us which externalises its intense charge in some form and then leaves us knocked over, frozen paralysed or powerless. 

And if we look to the ancestral epigenetic component we can see how this stored charge of grief and anxiety can be passed on from generation to generation.  When I start to get into compulsive cleaning I am aware of how much grief and a sense of powerlessness fuelled my Mum’s own manic cleaning binges.  And I got badly injured myself when she was in the midst of some of them.   I have injured myself so many times or broken things either gardening or cleaning that these days I am much more mindful in the midst of such activities, stopping and breathing and centring myself as much as I can.

I do believe that like most emotions grief is a kind of visitor to us, as in the poem by Rumi.  If we welcome the visitation of grief and take some steps to give it a place, then just possibly we will not be as compulsively ‘run’ over by it (or over run by it) and in time we as we integrate it, it will deepen and enrich us in the process.  

And what is most important is to know that grief has a purpose and its presence in our lives or heart is a sign that something had great value to and was cherished deeply by us or longed for.  It has come time to understand that value or experience or let that something or someone go and so there will be a shedding if we are to move forward.  Such losses and griefs will always be with us and remain forever a vital part of our soul on our ongoing journey through life.

Embracing our grief


Let not even one of the clearly-struck hammers of my heart
fail to sound because of a slack, a doubtful,
or a broken string. Let my joyfully streaming face
make me more radiant; let my hidden weeping arise
and blossom.

How dear you will be to me then, you nights
of anguish. Why didn’t I kneel more deeply to accept you,
inconsolable sisters, and, surrendering, lose myself
in your loosened hair.

How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration
to see if they have an end.

Though they are really
our winter-enduring foliage, our dark evergreen,
one season in our inner year–, not only a season
in time–, but are place and settlement,
foundation and soil and home.

Rilke

This Rilke poem came to mind this morning after reading a blog about the pain of loss suffered by someone faced with much grief over the death of their father many years ago.  The person was finding their grief too hard and painful to face.  It IS so painful when we lose someone we love.  My own father died when I was 23.  Although I was so very lucky in a way not to have been without a father in earlier years, our relationship had some very painful moments and looking back I wished for so much more from my Dad.  I eventually got a lot of those things from my Godfather who just happened to be my Dad’s best friend from Holland.  But my father’s death from cancer was still very painful and sudden.

I am also aware that in fully facing the pain of losing my father and facing and feeling any hurt and anger through has ultimately been very liberating.  I feel a lot like Rilke in that I feel that our grief and sadness is a place where we can come home most deeply to our souls.  There comes a time when an attitude of acceptance, accepting life on life’s terms, is birthed through the facing of intense pain.  This pain can keep us prisoner as long as we stay trapped in and resist our grief through a lack of deeper surrender and acceptance.

I am contemplating at the moment, and most particularly after reading through a lot more of what Peter Levine writes on finding the healing in and through facing trauma, how much pain can turn to suffering when we go over and over and over our pain or trauma without deeply engaging with it and releasing it.  When we avoid the true healing pain we don’t get the associated gifts which can come; seeing how essential joy is to life, seeing all the love and beauty that remains.

In a way the full nature of our grief show us how deeply we have loved.  If we never loved and lost we would never grieve fully and deeply and we would never be truly in touch or alive in our soul.  We may continue to live in a barricaded place where fear of really opening our heart and soul haunts us and makes our life smaller.  In kneeling into and going towards our suffering, rather than resisting it we go with the flow of the Universe rather than resisting what is.

I also have a very strong belief that any soul that has lived is still there, over the other side, in the spiritual world.  I know from powerful dreams I have had where my Dad visited me at critical times that love never dies.  I could not always feel my father’s love as he was not a demonstrative person.  As a Dutch man born in the 1920s he was quite patriarchal at times and hurt me deeply  with things he did due to ignorance or a lack of awareness and yet I know there was love there, just not a deep capacity to reach beyond his own conditioning.   In my dreams he has come to me and shown me he feels sad about the past, that he does love me and wishes now that I could be free of any suffering caused by his disconnection and ignorance.  I have awoken from several of those dreams crying and feeling deep love in my heart.

I lost my sister two years ago and I often talk to her.  I am sure she can hear me.  If we have unresolved issues with a loved one we can often talk to them even after they have died.  We can find a place in our heart or on paper to express most deeply all that we felt, all the ways in which we have suffered in order to liberate these feelings.

I know from my own experience that grief fully entered and surrendered too is a healing force.  It has the power to dismantle ignorance and disconnection, it reveals to us what is most essential and unchanging and what is most temporary and ultimately unimportant, it puts things in perspective.

Facing my own breast cancer earlier in the year made me see many of the things I was not grateful for and that I was in many ways holding myself back from life with certain excuses and fears.  I was trapped in PTSD too and in PTSD our focus is pulled towards the hurt and pain of past events now long gone but living on inwardly.  My work with a Body Harmony therapist concentrated on putting the focus on beauty in the present moment when powerful trauma imprints started to activate.  We need something to pull us out during these times, because the things we cannot change that hurt us in the past will only hurt us more if we keep our focus there endlessly recycling our hurt and pain.  In this way we open up a place of safety in present time within which past grief or painful sensation can be felt and released.

It was very important for me to find someone who could really hold and contain me in my grief.  For so many years I had nowhere to go to express my pain and the healing for me has come when my grief could be understood and contained within the healing light of someone else’s unconditional presence.   There is a lot of deep resistance and fear tied up in unresolved grief or PTSD both for those of us who suffer and for those who surround us and are helpless in knowing what to do and are incapable of showing us this loving unconditional presence, so finding this kind of support can be difficult.

There is a terror of facing the twisted Gordon’s head of pain, a fear that it has the power to pin us to the spot or paralyse us (and this is what PTSD is all about), the fear is that we will be destroyed by the emotions or sensations or eaten alive.  And yet the reverse is true.  When we face our trauma and grief and feel, open to and observe the nature of the energies and sensations of grief, fear or other trauma, when we identify where we freeze, brace, resist or pull away we have the opportunity in these moments of awareness to reverse our habitual reaction pattern, open up and expand, rather than pull away, resist, contract, constrict and lock down. In doing this we provide a space of openness, containment and acceptance within which our situation can transform.  In this way through embracing our grief we can find the necessary and longed for healing, shedding the tears and pain which keep the locked barricade in place in our hearts and minds.

Facing Fear

I wrote this post just over a week ago.  It turns out that the diagnosis my sister was awaiting was a positive test for breast cancer.  I am posting this today as I walked through the fear of going with her to receive the results on Tuesday.   I am learning that when I feel fear I must reach for a place to love myself through it and take the steps to move forward, rather than letting it paralyse me or hold me back :

I am reaching a point where I want to embrace my fear and take action and still feel hope and love for myself and everyone even in the midst of this fear so that I don’t spin out totally and loose touch with my safe ground.  I also do not want to allow my fear to paralyse me like it does at times.  I think the further I go on this journey the more insight into myself I obtain.

Today I felt a lot of fear as my sister had to go for a biopsy following a routine mammogram.  The results will not be known until Tuesday but I felt immediately scared and began to spin out a little. I used self talk to calm myself and contain the negativity and fear that was arising.  The other thing was the sadness that came up when I spoke to my sister and the realisation, after I got off the phone,  that all of this is occurring at exactly the same time of year as my father was diagnosed with cancer in 1984.

Those memories are pertinent at this time of year, even though it was so many years ago.  I am powerless really over the outcome of the test for my sister.  I can only be there to love and support.  My sister sounded so strong and positive on the phone.  As we spoke she said she had been in melt down earlier, especially after she had spoken to her sons.  I am reminded of the day my mother called to ask me to come and visit her and Dad and Dad had to give me the news of his own cancer.  How hard that must be for a parent.  How painful it was for both of us but the love that was felt too as I crossed the room to hug my Dad and he dissolved in tears.

Until the outcome of the biopsy is known I can do nothing and worry will rob my day from me and keep me paralysed.  At times like this I always think of the serenity prayer

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

The first step is to figure out if it is something I have any power over to change.  If it is not I can pray for acceptance and serenity and take active steps to put those in my day by engaging in something that brings joy and good energy for me.  If it is something I can change and need to find courage for I can take a deep breath and go forward holding my fear by the hand and acting anyway.

Even if it is a negative result I know I have the resilience to cope.  I was able to be by my other sister’s side in the last days of her life and accept it was time to turn off the life support and let her go.  I could cry and tell her all the things I didn’t get to say to my Dad, as his death was sudden under an emergency procedure and I had been unable to visit him the night before.

Many years ago I could not work through these feelings.  It took until 15 years later for them to come out of the deep freeze and numbing of my addiction.  These days though I miss him, I know I have grieved.  Some days I am still grieving for my sister who has died.  Some days I am grieving for myself and other days for my Mum too.  Grief will not destroy me.  I do not need to fear it.  I need only feel it and know it as part of what it means to love and face the final earthly separation.

The Hard to Breathe Days

On the hard to breathe days

there is a weight of despair

which covers everything

like a thick blanket weighted down

with lead which presses on your soul

everything lacks meaning

and you are reminded of a deep helplessness

a sense of what it was

to be a small child

ill prepared

for a world peopled with strangers

adults all so busy

deaf and blind to you

how deeply confused you were then

you didn’t really understand anything

about the way the world worked

and yet you were driven

by a childlike hope and longing for love

dashed on the rocks of the harsh reality

of others mixed up agendas

how to find the way

in the midst of all this confusion

stumbling around

too open to what hurt

not wise enough to know what you needed

until you grew enough

to learn lessons from the hurt

its seems as though

its has taken you till a long way along

in midlife to realise

where the heavy weight comes from

how to lessen it

how to choose what heals

from what hurts

for so many years it seemed

you foundered like a helpless fish

washed up on dry land

holding deep inside your cells

the memory and longing for water

your true home

writing and touching base with your soul

is what helps on these difficult days

it is what fills the emptiness you feel

when you have strayed too far from yourself

and life seems a painful mystery

too full of confusion to bear fruit

in the writing

in the being with

in the staying with

and being truthful about

what you really feel

you are returned home

and breathing a full breath

 becomes possible

again

The wave and the whale

I felt your sadness

like a wave

entering me

as our conversation ended

My heart aches for you,

all the things you suffered,

all the ways you were prevented

from expressing your heartbreak

I sit quietly with my self

letting this wave roll on

I feel powerless

I pray to a higher power

to take care of you

I know I cannot help

I can only love

I can only try

to reach out

across the seemingly unbridgeable distance

between me and your soul.

I am reminded of

a dream I dreamt

many years ago

you and I walking along a beach

close to the water

coming across a beached whale

One of us said

“The whales are such sad creatures.”

Today I think

of what may have been buried

ancestrally over generations

and may be only

finding its way to the surface

in both our lives now

There is so much I cannot express

I want to protect you

I don’t want you to be alone

but just maybe

you need this aloneness

or it is all you know

Memories of our older sister

and her pain echo here

It is a vast ocean

this pain we know

and have entered many times

These days I know

it is only a part of my soul.

I cannot live there permanently anymore

I will only visit for a time

from time to time.

Yet as long as I love you

I will keep reaching out

as I realise

just how difficult it is

to let you go.

The light returned

Today sometime in the afternoon the light returned after a morning of great darkness.  I am aware of the part WordPress plays for me in this process.  Nearly two years ago I was in so much pain following a sinus operation just prior to Christmas.  I faced that day alone and following a google search I found a post on Uranus transiting the eighth house written on the blog space of An Upturned Soul who some of you may know from here.  Through a chain of connection that led from this to other posts, Ursula ended up publishing a poem I wrote about my last narcissistic relationship and she recommended I start blogging.

I was not entirely sure how my writing would be received. I have used writing as a form of therapy since I was very young.  When I felt as though there was no one around to listen or understand my deepest feelings, I could always pour them out onto the blank page.

After my marriage ended in 2004 I retreated to the coast house my Dad built in the years prior to the major car accident I suffered at age 17, in 1979 and while in isolation there I wrote reams and reams of journal entries, reflections on my recovery, stream of consciousness writing with both the inner accuser voice as well as the  voice of a loving archetypal Mother figure who stepped in to comfort me when the times were particularly dark and lonely.  There were days and days on which I saw no one.  At times I could not sleep but still it was an achievement to get out of my pyjamas all day/ I had a lot of trouble breathing and began to suffer strange symptoms.  At times it was hard to eat, just to walk a part of the way down the beach was a Herculean effort.  Another two accidents followed as I made attempts to leave my self imposed isolation behind, I was at war with a lot of the darkness I was being forced to face.  I now know having suffered so many endings and so much loss I was being forced to face grief but I didn’t know how to deal with it and it was hard to feel it alone.

Being given the opportunity to find a voice via WordPress to speak about my journey of trauma and recovery has helped me through the recent dark times following the death of my older sister and the mental illness of my other sister at the same time as I have been working through the grief of painful relationships stretching back across years.  I am aware of the time I have needed to be alone and heal, but I am also so fully aware of how important good connections are in that process.

Earlier today I shared about the really tough day I was having.  At one point I was on the floor in foetal position with spasming pain all through me, the pulling and tearing was the hardest it has ever been and I was struggling to breathe.  When I finally managed to get upright and take a call from my Mum, I cried and cried.  Then I felt a release of the weight on my chest as I followed a like as mentioned before and found links to other sites of people undergoing similar trauma.  A little of this is a repeat of what I wrote about in the earlier blog but my reason for writing this one tonight is to say publically thank you those of who have expressed empathy and support and shared your own struggles.

I feel there is a healing community here on WordPress which can help some of us in the darkest times to express what we are going through and see a return of the light.  Reading the experiences of others who suffer too helps us to know we are not alone.  We all have wisdom to share.

I’ve just come back from a dinner with my Mum and her best friend.  My relationship with my Mum is healing.  For so long she just did not get what I was going through but lately as my other sister has struggled with her own bi polar illness I have felt my Mum trying to compensate for what she could not give us when we were young. Both she and my father worked very hard. They were not bad parents but neither were they emotionally present, their attention was consumed with business and their priorities were not focused on emotions and inner needs.  Neither had much in the way of nurturing themselves.

Add to this the stress we all went through following my older sister’s breakdown and abandonment by her husband and most particularly the pain we went through when my father became really ill with terminal cancer and died very suddenly following complications after an operation to remove the cancer from his internal organs, all deeply Plutonian events, huge underworld experiences banking up which took me into the realm of addiction in an attempt not to feel, not realising this was what was going on.

The pain of father and mother hunger took me towards three heart breaks, as I struggled with feelings I could not really express.  When love came and gave me the opportunity to reach for sobriety and recovery I took it but after a number of years my buried pain opened up and my husband and I did not make it through.

In a circular way I have now returned to the earlier paragraph in which I wrote about finding myself alone and writing in the house by the sea my dead father built.  I know now I needed to really feel the darkness of all I had gone through and writing could take me there but healing and feeling the feelings takes more than this.  Writing comes often after I have made sense of some of the feelings which are not fully conscious as more than curious body pains and sensations.

In the midst of this there was another relationship which was also a repeat of low nurturance themes I have struggled with over many years, in the end the nurturance I needed has had to come from therapy and from recovering people in groups and online here.  I am very grateful for this forum which helps me to know I am not alone.  That so many others suffer in similar ways and that they appreciate the effort to give voice to what is at times very painful and difficult.  I’ve been able to share some of my writings, thoughts, feelings, struggles, insights and poems here which has given me a sense of purpose in some way.  I know there are so many others of us out there attempting to do the same.

I feel a great returning of the light tonight.  I am aware that over the next little while the Sun in Libra will oppose Uranus in Aries while squaring transiting Pluto in Capricorn.  The name I would give to this process (Pluto will soon station to move direct again after 5 months of backward transit) is an unleashing of personal authenticity and emotional freedom through purging and emerging the dark emotions.

At present Pluto is transiting my fifth house of the inner child and self expression. There are so many of us out there who are aware of the importance of the Inner Child within, it seems to me that this part of us holds the authentic key to our spiritual essence.  We need to learn how to love, care for, understand and parent this precious little one in us who holds the light for us, even in reminding us of the darkness we faced in never finding support for him or her while growing up.  Part of the journey is to feel and recover earlier feelings and make links to today in order to understand and parent ourselves as emotional beings who can have emotional awareness centred in love not through rejecting our fear but through understanding and embracing the fearful self in love and compassion.

I believe that the power of love can overcome the power of ignorance and fear.  We should not be afraid to voice the deepest darkest feelings we have, for this is the way that light returns to us and to the world. Tonight I am feeling very much the return of that light.  To those who have reached out to me today.  Thank you, so very much.  Collectively we are undergoing this transformation very much tied up with the outer planets Uranus and Pluto because collectively we are all connected by mutual experience.  For me there is great peace that comes from this awareness which grows in power as we share honestly and reach out.

Another tough day

My inner censor is prompting me to keep the following blog under wraps.  I am not going to listen to the censor too much today:

Tough day of really painful symptoms of grief today.  Before I manage to tap into it I am not even sure that this is what I am undergoing.  Feelings occur first for me on body level as sensation, before I can even recognise the feelings I am having are feelings of sadness.  I feel like I am being dragged sideways, or pulled down a plug hole,  I feel though there is a huge stone on my chest holding me down and it is hard to breathe.  Then a portal breaks open somewhere and the sadness just rises up and floods the landscape of my being with tears.

I just had a terrible reaction after trying to eat my breakfast and that followed a long struggle to wake up, feeling like last night I had been weighted down my magnets.  Was it that or was it that my body was responding to the relaxation prompted by the tissue salts I have been encouraged to take to help with my PTSD symptoms?  Going to sleep and waking up for me triggers the old trauma of coming to and finding out my body has been smashed up.  Its a weird feeling of being suspended between two worlds, rendered powerless, feeling incapable of moving my body, feeling I have been taken over or invaded, that my limbs wont work or carry me along.

Anyway after an hour of trying to stretch out of it, as is my way, the flood of grief flowed out.  I had been free from these post breakfast attacks for quite a while but over the last three days they have returned with a vengeance. I am not sure why but I know I get affected by things and lately I have been watching a mini series on the Kennedy family which is full of very painful dynamics between the characters.  It is also filled with loss, trauma and grief, Joe senior’s stroke (which evokes powerful memories of my own sister’s stroke) and of course the loss suffered by the family and Jackie Kennedy in particular after JFK and then Robert Kennedy were gunned down in 1963 and 1968 after Jack’s administration, under the direction of Bobbie Kennedy, attempt to go after the American Mafia.

I was prompted to look into the astrology of it all last night and I found a website devoted to the Kennedy curse, where an astrological chart was featured of the marriage of John F Kennedy’s parents Joe and Rose.  Prominent in this chart is a Saturn Pluto conjunction at 2 degrees in the sign of Cancer which has to do with clans, family, close ties of psychic enmeshment and suffocating parental holds on children.  it was noted on this particular blog that this conjunction was activated when critical events occurred for their children.

The astrological synchronicity in all of this for me is that currently I am undergoing the Saturn square to my own natal Pluto in the first house.  Bobby Kennedy in particular had a very strong Plutonian signature in his own chart with three planets including Mars in Scorpio and trine to Pluto. Our own family went through some very powerful Pluto transits and Pluto squared my own natal Mars Saturn Moon when my father died, in addition my oldest sister suffered a cerebral haemorraghe on a Pluto transit to her own Saturn.  The dynamic of an attorney general (Bobby Kennedy) going after the American Mafia bosses is a very Saturn Pluto signature.  And Saturn Pluto speaks of defences erected against powerful feelings of fear in reaction to dark issues of power, control and other deeply transformative elements in life and nature.

I am aware this blog is skipping between some seemingly unrelated subjects but I have been wondering today if the issue of family grief of the Kennedy family has triggered for me this week, powerful imprints around my own family trauma.

I spoke to my sister yesterday and often when I speak to her I find myself encountering feelings of great sadness.  She has been on medication for bi polar for many years and at the moment they have changed her meds and she is feeling very low and nauseated.  My Mum rings me in tears about it and I feel the full weight of it all.  We have our own fairly heavy family legacy which comes from a similar theme to the Kennedy’s.  My Dad was also a migrant trying to escape the poverty and powerlessness of his past and his own daughter came unstuck by overstepping the boundaries to try and achieve within this family dream. My older sister who had the stroke, ended up permanently incapacitated and died last year had bi polar as well with strong Jupiter Saturn, Saturn cut down the Jupiterian impulse to endless outward expansion and flight.

All of these associations are on my mind today, and I am interested to remember that last night I dreamt that I was visiting a close friend in hospital.  She told me that she had to go no contact with her family and since she had she was feeling so much better, “its what you need to do too”, she said to me.

My pathway began to diverge from the family when I got sober in 1993, but with my strong Saturn Moon there has been a gravitational pull back, due to the fact there are so many hidden feelings over the buried trauma that dogged our family from 1979 to 1985 when my father died.  Its been a burden to work to bring consciousness too the entire thing, something I been working through over the past 20 years in different recovery programs and therapies.  There are some days when I become overwhelmed with feelings of sadness over the dark years of our family and my own personal trauma, as well as the sometimes very lonely path that has resulted.  Its not that I am consciously even thinking about these things, but I do feel that since I started to watch this Kennedy mini series last Tuesday I have been feeling the weight of things quiet a bit and maybe my dream has messages for me.  My mother actually gave me this mini series to watch and I think it had powerful synchronicities for her own grief.  Maybe I need some distance from it, or maybe I just have needed to feel all of this through in order to connect the dots.

Just a short time ago my mother called.  I was very sad today and she was distressed by it, which also saddened me, but then again feelings are better off shared.  While I was having my attack earlier I had the impulse to call someone and inside my head I heard a voice say “don’t you go bothering anyone with this burden of yours, you will just ruin their day”.  I am aware that the adult thing to do is to acknowledge my feelings and hold my hand in the midst of them but its also so important to be able to share our feelings with someone empathic, I think this was an old message.  I let my Mum know I didn’t feel it was her responsibility to fix my feelings, I would be happier for her if she could enjoy the outing with her best friend she had planned.  She didn’t feel good about it, and I felt sad for causing her distress, especially as I know she is very worried about my older sister at present and I am sure she is aware of the burden we both carry which is ancestral too, really.

After I got of the phone, I just sat and wept.  I felt the huge heavy weight of it.  I then checked my phone and saw an email notifying me that someone had liked a recent post of mine :

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/coping-with-the-really-tough-days/

which prompted me to re-read it and doing so actually helped me to move through the sadness of today and the heavy weight dispersed after I decided to write this post.  It seems all blogging is really for ourselves?  Hopefully it helps someone else too.

Its clear to me what helps me move through the pain.  It is so important to try to recognise what my body is carrying so I can find love for myself in the midst of the pain.  This is what helps me, this is what soothes me, this is what turns a tough day of pain into a meaningful day for me, being able to write and share, to make some small sense of what at times feels very overpowering and burdensome.

Today we laid her to rest

It is now just over fifteen months since my eldest sister died in the early hours of Easter Sunday morning, 2014.  A call came suddenly as I was pulling up in the car close to the park where I walk my dog, Jasper on Good Friday last year.  It was my brother and I hear from him so rarely.  The news was a shock, my eldest sister who had been living out her final 12 years in a care home for those living with acquired brain injury was in hospital on life support following a bout of pneumonia.

“Deb, we need to make a decision as a family whether to take her off life support, I think it is what Judy would have wanted.”

Shock, disbelief, then I bristled at this inwardly.  Old pain surfaced as I thought “how the fuck would you know?  You so rarely visited her.”  On reflection this was my reaction at having to face painful news.  Later that day I made the journey to the hospital to find my sister unconscious and having difficulty breathing.

My sisters four sons live away from here.  The eldest was af that time living overseas in Singapore.  The younger three live up north with their partners, an hour’s plane ride away.  “We’ve called the boys”, my brother said.  Huge heart leap, excitement at seeing them, when I see them so rarely mixed with such painful sadness to know the reason they would have to visit.

When my father died a month before my 23rd birthday I did not get to visit or say goodbye.  I had had vaccinations the day before for an overseas trip and was feeling unwell after the injection.  I received a call at work the next day to say he had passed earlier that morning following the performing of a tracheoctomy to help him breath.  He had recently been operated on for stomach cancer and had experienced complications following the surgery.  A few weeks later he was dead.  No chance to say goodbye as he had been unconscious for a few days due to a reaction to a drug given to calm him down.  I did not see his body.  My brother handled all the details.  That time is blur to me as it was such a shock and his death came hot upon the back of six years of trauma we had endured as a family.

Jude’s passing was different, an opportunity to be with her  (even though she was unconscious), many hours alone sitting holding her hand knowing that soon the decision would be made and it would be time for the final good bye.

I was able to say how much I loved her, to ask her please not to leave, but also say “if it is your time Jude,  its time to let go”..  time to cry (for the first time, to share the grief with my much loved nephews) two of whom stayed for a further week, time to talk over the traumatic years in which she was separated from them while her ex husband conducted an affair, to learn details of her psychosis, to share memories, pain and feelings.

Its a paradox to say this was a special time for me, it was a chance to finally share some grief.  After my father died I left to go overseas and drank over a lot of the pain. I did not begin to truly process my father’s death until I was well in to sobriety and recovery some 12 years later.  Some losses are just too huge to process at the time and we need support to grieve.  This is something I have had to learn over many years of my body holding complicated, unresolved grief.   A new loss triggers the old ones.  My marriage ending also brought a revisitation of the pain felt once the protective masculine influence is gone.

I remember just following my father’s death how a little mouse came to visit and I was the one who had to take the steps to get rid of it.  The same thing happened in the weeks after I had been informed my husband would be leaving me after returning from an overseas trip.  I buried a little mouse body in the rose garden and remembered the weeks after my father’s death.

Luckily today was also an opportunity to share grief.  My mother, my sister and I made our trip to the crematorium and the beautiful memorial garden there.  My sister’s ashes had been sitting in the office for some time.  My other sister was taken into hospital with depression on the day of my older sister’s funeral.  A decision made by her sons (one that upset me deeply but that I now understand).  A second hospitalisation took place this year between January and June, on the anniversaries of both my father’s death and Judith’s cerebral bleed.   As a family the time was not right to lay my sister to rest yet.  And it would be the women in the family doing it, in the absence of the masculine, an echo of both the death of my mother and father’s fathers at a very young age, an association made by all three of us today.

A lovely gentle man met us at the office of the crematorium.  He walked with us to the garden where the plaque was laid for my sister, very close to the plaque for my Nana who died when I was overseas in 1987 two years following my father.  How hard for my Mum.  Three major losses.

I was the one chosen to place the box with Judith’s ashes in the earth.  It felt so heavy and as usual I was the one in the active masculine role, I was the one who drove there, I was the one who thought to bring flowers, I was the one crying all the tears. But I was not necessarily the one grieving most.  I just always seem to be the one expressing the feelings most externally.

Birds sang as I placed the box in the ground, we then placed a handful of earth and some rose petals in the hole which was then filled.  My sister had finally been laid to rest.

As an astrologically minded person I always look at the transits.  Today the transiting Moon was opposite my own Mars Saturn Moon and conjunct my sister’s Pluto in Leo at the time of our ceremony.  It was squaring Mum’s Sun Mercury Saturn conjunction and my sister’s Saturn in Scorpio.  Transiting Venus was conjunct to my second sister’s Pluto in Leo. As I wrote in an earlier blog at present the transiting Sun is close to both Saturn and Mars in my dead sister’s chart.  And most appropriately today Venus is exactly smack bang on my Uranus in Leo in the first house as Saturn in Scorpio squares it.  I am aware of the many powerful eruptive Uranian events that have littered my life and splintered things apart.

Following our little ceremony we drove to our favourite café and had lunch.  We then spoke of many things.  I was asking questions about what occurred all those years ago following my sister’s cerebral bleed.  I was 18 at the time, then 20 when she was sent back with a one way ticket by her husband.  I learned at the time of her death from my nephews of what occurred in New Zealand in 1982 when she was in a psychosis.  Her husband had been carrying on a affair. He had planned to meet the woman he was having an affair with over there and my sister had to be a party to this.  Later, as I shared before, he had her committed to an asylum.

I wont ever know what my sister suffered.  She would not speak of what happened at this time. I do know that my sister was not an easy person.  She had addiction issues, in fact, as an adolescent she encouraged me to drink at a time when it had a bad effect on me.  I have had such a struggle to make sense of it all, being the youngest, I was bonded for many years to my sister due to unresolved trauma.  I understand that now.  At some level I felt responsible for her, especially when I found out more about the multi-generational legacy of addiction in our family on Mum’s side many years after I got sober in 1993.

My sister’s ex husband died a few years ago.  In all that time he never talked to his sons of what occurred in his marriage but I learned today that on his death bed he admitted to his oldest son that he had really betrayed my sister and regretted his actions.

It was good to be able to talk about this with my sister and mother today.  I am so grateful for the softening in my remaining sister who put her arm around me as we laid my other sister to rest.  My sister who died was like a mother to me growing up.  She was 16 when I was born and she would wheel me in the pram around the neighbourhood and received funny looks when it was assumed it was a teenage pregnancy.  With her wicked sense of humour she drew great delight from this.

It is now close to dinner time. I sit typing with the soft glow of lamps around me and the buzzing of a silence that is always present at deeply spiritual times.  I have danced out some of the complex emotions that today has evoked.  Exhausted when I left my family, I am now refreshed by time alone.

Its a great mystery to me, the family we choose.  The question, do we choose?  How fated it it?  What are the common themes that wend their way tendril like throughout the generations?  I see patterns, creating patterns. I see that sometimes we choose, sometimes we are compelled, sometimes magnetised and then we live to reap results we could never had imagined.  Much as we try to control things at times, greater forces work their way out. It seems at times we make fatal choices and mistakes which then we learn from, even though the learning is gut wrenchingly painful at times. If we can bear the consequences we live on.  And sometimes fate forces upon us a hand we wish to lay down or escape.

Today the issue of my father’s grave came up.  Unlike Nana and my sister Dad is exiled to another part of the cemetery, buried in a coffin.  At the time he died the Catholic church did not accept cremation.  Mum cried today as she hates to think of Dad being alone.  We spoke of Dad’s belief that when you are gone you are gone, and yet you are not wholely gone when others remember.  I guess we project our own feelings on the dead.  The memorial is probably mostly for us who remain and need a place to remember.  But the exile of my Dad’s grave, so rarely visited does reflect something of how, in the past our family has not fully dealt with our grief.

It is interesting to me to note that in the week that astrologers have gained their first sighting of Pluto, so recently demoted from the planetary pantheon, that we as a family have begun to bring our own grief out of the shadows.  I like to think this is a collective indication that our society is becoming more prepared to deal with the so called “dark” side of life.  Death has lessons for us and emotions, sometimes very hard to express and resolve.  It takes us into a place of healing, of recognising what was loved and what was of most value to us.  In feeling it through we have a chance to engage with our hearts and with the complexity of our attachments and interconnections.  Important work for our soul.

There attachments and interconnections are deep as our soul is deep.  Even when we seek to avoid or deny them the affect us in many ways.  We are not separate but inter connected.  Death, loss, separation does not end this interconnection just moves it to another plane.  That is my belief.