I’m in two minds – changing perspectives on life, trauma and relationship

I started this blog over two weeks ago, when Mercury was retrograde but in true Mercury retrograde fashion it never got birthed.  While I was writing it,  it also morphed into something very different.  And now that Mercury is moving forward again I am posting it.

Well the Sun has passed out of the bi polar sign Gemini, but its ruler Mercury is travelling backwards through the latter degrees of that sign, and with my own Mercury natally, also retrograde I have been considering how my mood, perspective, attitude and feelings shift and change in response to changing conditions on different days and can polarise between dark and light.

That is interesting as we have just had the solstice and in the southern hemisphere the days are shorter and there is less light.  In my daily orientation I am also becoming more aware of the impact my own choices, conscious and unconscious, around how I spend my time are having.  I am also becoming more mindful of how my attitude in response to external factors impacts on my mood and emotions.  Hopefully its not all too controlled, however it is very much Mercurial this current experience I am having.

Maybe its due to having my Mercury placed out there in the house of opposition and relationship, the seventh, that I tend, when considering things, issues, events, experiences, people and my relationship to view them from a number of different angles, not always initially, but certainly over time. I tend to mull these things over and move them around like a prism to catch light and reflect it across a number of different shades of the spectrum.   This tendency is being called out of me during the challenging circumstances of the past few years.  But sometimes I wonder too, if I don’t just have a tendency to over think things.

Perhaps the significant placement of my North Node in the fiery sign of Leo and fiery first house of Aries is calling me to think more of myself and to act more spontaneously.

I moved back to my home town about three years ago following the end of an intense and volatile relationship in which my ways of thinking were continually challenged. At the time I met my partner I was still in a lot of emotional pain due to past events and the ending of my marriage.  He too had his own pain but also a very fixed black and white view about “the way things should be”.  He spoke a lot about “being on the same page”.  The trouble was that page was dictated a lot by past hurts and wounds of his Chiron Moon, that should never, at least to his way of thinking, have occurred.  Primarily the abandonment by his mother.

The sad fact was that my ex partners mother left what was an extremely abusive marriage.  Her leaving was an act of courage and bravery.  She endured a breakdown and was hospitalised for a time.  It was an extremely painful situation for my ex who was very, very young at the time.    The anger towards his mother and also towards his female older siblings simmered deeply throughout our relationship and often burst out, or was projected onto me or my sisters.  We had met as as Neptune was passing over his Saturn showing that our meeting was to some degree on course as a time of challenged vulnerability of his defences.

One of our earliest conflicts centred around this issue of vulnerability.  Having made a connection, my partner was anxious to pursue it, the problem being, at least to his mind, that I was in his words “too vulnerable”. Knowing what I know now this would be a red flag.  Knowing what I know now I would also call into question the idea that we can be “too” much of anything.

Those of you out there who have been accused of being “too sensitive” will know what I mean.  That evaluation or judgement naturally comes from someone who has their own idea and agenda of how much of a certain quality is deemed to be okay or not okay.

Sadly my self esteem during this relationship was in some level in my boots, or at least, this man who seemed to possess so much golden light, energy and assertiveness was presenting me with trapped or at the very least under expressed qualities of my own that I needed to develop a more complete relationship with.

I did not really realise until a long way out of this relationship that what I was really longing for, and had been longing for all of my life was deep understanding and empathy.   The problem was in this relationship I was seeking it from the wrong source, an external one and from someone who had a deep investment in looking at life in a different way.

This is not to say that I was right and he was wrong or vice versa.  Just that this conflict between us ended up creating more pain and frustration for both of us.

In fact, as I look back now, I see the point of many things this person would say to me while at the same time seeing that, at a time when my emotional pain and grief was actually seeking some kind of resolution, being involved in just such a relationship was going to prove more damaging.  The understanding I was longing for from him was just not possible and the path of pain out would be the price of finding a new way to heal.

I came out of this relationship questioning things deeply. Also deeply sad about the fact that a second relationship had failed, even though now, with the benefit of a number of years growth I see that both endings were inevitable and led me to a more deeply contented place within wherein I am more aware of myself and more in charge of my own life.

I guess this two mindedness that I referred to at the beginning of this blog is all about attitude and perspective  It seems to me the further I travel and unravel along this journey of life the more I am aware that there are so many different ways of thinking about and relating both to my inner self and to my outer world.  And so much of my contentedness depends in any day on the perspective or attitude I take towards things and the understandings and insights I gain, not only by thinking about things but through the experience of enduring them, making mistakes and learning lessons. In the light of this..

I had a challenging and upsetting  experience on the weekend. Its interesting as a few days before I wrote a blog about fear, about how important it has been for me to develop a relationship with and understand my fears.  One of the places of refuge and connection in my, at times very solitary life, is the dog park which is located in a beautiful little section of pine forest close to lake and gardens a short way from my home.  On most days my beautiful spaniel Jasper and I go there to socialise and play.  I had a really tough week last week.  I was in a lot of bodily pain, the weather was bitterly cold and foggy, it was heading towards the darkest time of year and we had some real peasouper fogs, there wasn’t much sun and I was finding it really hard to get moving.

Then on Saturday a lot of grief bubbled up, I was not aware of this deep underground river that may have struggling to burst forth.  I had a lump on my head, not from any injury but from a backlog of repressed feelings. I recently lost my sister and the deep sadness was really emerging on Saturday, weekends often are reminders that I am alone with not  whole heap of support.  It was late by the time we got to the park and the usual group of my friends weren’t there.  Little Jasper bounded in enthusiastically and full of fun as usual.  Within less than a few minutes a huge black dog barrelled out of nowhere and began to attack Jasper.  The owners were a long way off sitting on a bench.  Instinctively I grabbed the dogs collar from behind and lifted him off, shouting at the same time, which I guess was my fear response in over drive. The dogs owner, a young woman, rushed up.  “Let go of my dog” she said.

Luckily another man had arrived at the park just as Jasper and I arrived too.  “That dog is really too aggressive to be on the small dog side” he said,  “It needs to be on a lead”.  The woman looked at us arrogantly, with no apology, put her dog on the lead and marched off.  My gut was in spasm, my heart was racing.  The woman seemed really angry, acting as though I had been the one at fault.  Soon after she left the park. Things calmed down, Jasper was a little nervous in his movements for a while but he soon regained his equilibrium.

We spent an hour at the park and then headed towards the car.  Out of nowhere a young man came up beside the car and motioned for me to wind down the window.  “I want to know ask you a question” he said, aggressively and with a bullish look.  “Did you kicked my dog?”  I was confused and stunned.  He was not present at the park earlier so I did not make the connection to woman whose dog had been involved in the attack that had happened earlier.  “What do you mean?”  I asked.  “I would never kick an animal”.  “Are you sure?” he said eyeballing me threateningly.  “I am positive”.  I responded, feeling somewhat distabilised.  “Are you sure” he repeated,” that’s my girlfriend over there” he said, motioning towards a parked car “and she told me you kicked my dog.”

Somewhere inside part of me realised, I was frustrated, disturbed and sick to the stomach, there was nothing further I could do or say, yet still I appealed to him, trying to get some true understanding or empathy over what had actually passed, why wasn’t he believing me/  The truth of which he seemed oblivious, his dog savaged my dog, the most loving, sociable and gentle dog you could know, I reacted to protect my dog without hitting or hurting his dog, only holding him up by the collar.  This guy was a bully, plain and simple.

“I don’t think its fair that you are disbelieving me.  This is abuse.”  I said.   “Fuck off”.  Looking at me with a nasty look he said  “You better watch out, I have your registration number”.  I rolled up the window and drove away, a sickening feeling of grief, pain, fear and anguish churning away in my stomach.  But in my head were the thoughts.  Don’t let this guy get to you.  He is trying to make you scared.  It isn’t right that you now allow him to instil in you fear, panic and hurt.  Its okay to feel sad and scared, that’s natural.  Shed those tears for sure but don’t let his hurt lodge inside you and make you sick,  Don’t let the hurt you could generate over the unfairness of this add to the pain of behaviour and ideas that aren’t really real and don’t reflect the true reality.  You don’t go around abusing animals. You were just exposed to some pain and nastiness that needs to be let go.

I don’t know if you will understand but this event occurring as it did was like the coalescence of a host of issues I have dealt with in my life.  Being vulnerable to attack.  Getting in trouble for defending myself against such attacks from those who have cared very little for my feelings and being demonised for reacting.  Being the target of scapegoating and being unable to fight back due to my hands being tied in a number of different ways.  Living with the pain of hurts lodged deep inside due to the fact they could not be expressed or even validated and believed.

And in the end, needing to make sense of it all and let it go. I didn’t even run to anyone for any help on Saturday.  My past pattern may have been to call someone to talk out the trauma but I didn’t even do that.  In my mind I knew that my response to what happened was going to be the most important thing.  I didn’t need others validation of it because inside my self I knew the truth of what had happened and that I needed to make my own peace with it.

Dear old Japser rebounded from the trauma.  I had saved him from being hurt.

In the early hours of the morning, waking as I do with my usual disrupted sleep it occurred me that is experience had echoed the experience of having the car come in on me savagely, impacting my chest, breaking my bones, smashing my lung and tearing my flesh apart following its impact with a telegraph pole.  In that situation I was powerless.  In some way this experience with Jasper called up that imprint.

Peter Levine in his work on trauma tells us that the worst traumas occur when we cannot mobilise to get out of the situation.  In such a situation we stay stuck or paralysed in the death reflex response.  So was it for me following two accidents, but most especially the one in which I was trapped in the car.  This incident with Jasper was important for me, because I was able to act to protect the one I loved.  Not just stand by and watch it happen.

I must be honest and say how upsetting it was to me to be actually blamed for taking an action to protect.  But how often does it happen to those of us who develop PTSD responses to abuse or trauma? Traumas, and there have been at least eight major ones, starting with that accident at age 17 have shattered the continuity pattern of my life in many ways.  But enduring and having to live with traumatic imprints has also led me to understandings of things that may have not come without those traumatic events.  Most especially living with, attempting to heal from and make my peace with trauma  has taught me that where and when I can,  I must take action to mobilise in the face of trauma and abuse and not let the imprints of that abuse lodge too deeply within me.

I think for many years this may have been what my ex partner was trying to say to me.  I could not get it because I was still too frozen in pain and trauma.  And yet that is not totally true either for as Peter Levine writes, when we have suffered a trauma in which forward action is blocked or thwarted we can, for many years, remain in developmental arrest.  What is needed to free ourselves is to be able to experience the freeze state of paralysis in which we have faced off death and unpack that experience, getting over time to the point where we no longer remain trapped and frozen, but able to mobilise out of it, seeking a countering experience of vitality and aliveness which is the antidote to that death like paralysis.

The path out of that failed relationship led to suffering but in some way that suffering was the priced of a new found freedom much of which rests on my own understandings and perspectives which are themselves the result of the journey through the path of trauma.  Its not the path I would have chosen but its the one I have lived and now write about.