Trauma and the Body/Mind : the importance of understanding and making peace with feelings and sensations.

The following is an excerpt from Peter Levines’ book  In An Unspoken Voice : How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness which speaks about the necessity of developing an awareness of our body sensations and feelings as children.  But it also addresses how this process goes awry under trauma and what is needed to set the balance right.

“Under ordinary circumstances, physical sensations are signals for action: to fight or flee when threatened, to chase down a wild turkey or open the fridge and make a sandwich when hungry, to go to the bathroom when the urge presses, to make love when aroused by passion, to sleep when tired, to break into song when the mood strikes or to plant your feet and raise your voice in anger and assertiveness when your boundaries are violated.  In all these instances, the body initiates and the mind follows.

Having an intimate relationship with and understanding of, your physical sensations is critical because they, in signalling action, guide you through the experiences and nuances of your life.  If one has been traumatised, however, one’s sensations can become signals not for effective action but rather, for fearful paralysis, helpeessness or misdirected rage.  When some of one’s bodily signals become harbingers of fear, helplessness, impotent rage and defeat, he or she is typically avoided like the plague at a dear cost mentally, emotionally and physically.  While attemptiong to shut down distressing senstations, one pays the price of losing the capacity to appreciate the subtle physical shifts that denote comfort, satisfaction or warning of clear and present danger.  Sadly, as a result, the capacity for feeling pleasure, garnering relevant meaning and accessing self protective reflexes also shuts down.  You can’t have it both ways; when feelings of dread are kept at bay, so are feelings of joy.

The good news is the human being are generally flexible and resilient: we are ordinarily able to learn from and integrate a variety of life experiences.  These experiences, whether uplifting or down beat, flow easily through our body/mind stream of consciousness as long as we are no chronically over or under aroused. The body/mind keeps flowing through new encounters with vitality, bouncing back into the stream of things unless there is a significant disruption.  In this case, the person is knocked off that normal course whether it is from a single episode, such as a disaster, an accident, surgery or rape, or from a chronic stressor, such as abuse or marital stress.  When such disruptions fail to be fully integrated, the components of that experience become fragmented into isolated sensations, images and emotions.  This kind of splitting apart occurs when the enormity,intensity, suddenness or duration of what happened cannot be defended against coped with or digested.  Personal vulnerability, such as age, genetics and gender also account for this psychic implosion.  The result of this inability for the body/mind to integrate is trauma, or at the very minimum, disorientation, a loss of agency and/or lack of direction.

Trapped between feeling too much (overwhelmed or flooded) or feeling too little (shut down and numb) and unable to trust their sensations, traumatised people can lose their way.  They don’t feel like themselves anymore; loss of sensation equals a loss of a sense of self. As a substitute for genuine feelings, trauma sufferers may see experiences that keep them out of touch – such as sexual titillation or succumbing to compulsions, addictions and miscellaneous distractions that prevent one from facing a now dark and threatening inner life.  In this situation, one cannot discover the transitory nature of despair, terror, rage or helplessness, and that the body is designed to cycle in and out of these extremes.

Helping clients cultivate and regulate the capacity for tolerating extreme sensations through reflective self awareness, while supporting self acceptance, allow them to modulate their uncomfortable sensations and feelings.  They can now touch into intense sensations and emotions for longer periods of time as they learn how to control their arousal.  Once a client has the experience of ‘going within and coming back out’ without falling apart, his or her window of tolerance builds upon itself.  This happens through achieving a subtle interplay between sensations, feelings, perceptions and thoughts.  I believe that the people who are most resilient, and find the greatest peace in their lives, have learned to tolerate extreme sensations while gaining the capacity for reflective self-awareness.  Although this capacity develops normally when we very young, one can learn it at any time in life, thankfully.

Children gradually learn to interpret the message their bodies give them  Indeed, it is by learning to coordinate movement (behaviours) and sensations into a coherent whole that a child learns who he or she is.  By remembering actions that have proven to be effective, and discarding those that are not, children lean how to anticipate what the most appropriate response is and how to time its execution for maximum effect.  In this way, they experience agency, satisfaction and pleasure.  When a child is overwhelmed by trauma or thwarted by neglect, this developmental sequence is aborted or, if already developed, breaks down, and negative emotions come to dominate his or her existence.”

On overwhelm and traumatic anniversaries

I just spoke to my sister and on the weekend she was involved in a minor accident with turned into a huge bleed, my mother tore her skin on an open cupboard, because she is on certain blood thinning drugs she bled and bled.  My sister convinced her she needed to go to hospital, due to a huge accident occurring at the same time with people being flown in from the country to our town they had to wait all night in casualty.  My sister had no sleep which is always triggering for her due to her own psychological issues, I was also aware that this time of year is the time of year our sister had her cerebral bleed and last year, on this anniversary my sister who was on medication for bi polar had two falls, and cut her head open, she ended up in hospital and then my mother had another fall in trying to carry a suitcase with her clothes down a long flight of stairs alone. Not asking for help.

What made matters worse was that just prior to this last year we had had a huge disagreement.  I had confronted my Mum on some of her boundary violations and my mother had got extremely upset, accused me of judging her and my sister had sided with my mother.  Both decided they would not talk to me for a while and then the “accidents” happened,  all on the anniversary of my dead sister’s stroke.

I received a call from my Mum yesterday telling me of their traumatic experience in emergency.  She was asking me to go to the market to get her a piece of fruit she wanted.  I had to say no.  I was struggling myself and feeling very tired.  I offered to buy her anything she needed from the shop where I was at the time of the call, but that wasn’t good enough, so I had to stand firm on my boundary.

After the call I experienced a lot of anxiety and guilt.  I knew I had acted to take care of myself for once.  Mum understood, she wasn’t upset with me, but still I felt bad.  Aware of the anxiety I went into a spin for some hours.

Last night I was thinking of a comment my therapist had made recently.  “It is important to take care of yourself on the anniversary of traumas”, she said  “you can be particularly vulnerable to accidents this time.”  I have certainly experienced this in my own life.  On the first two anniversaries of my husband telling me he had decided to leave our marriage I had two accidents, one a major bike crash where I split my head open and in the second a fall where I hit my back really badly on a piece of metal.   I was contemplating all of this last night as I became aware of the resonances of emergency visits all around the anniversary of my eldest sister’s trauma.

When I spoke to my sister this morning she said to me “I am feeling so overwhelmed, it feels like everything is coming in on me”.  I am aware that lack of sleep, lack of food and extreme loneliness can all be triggers which awaken the traumatic imprints buried deep in the subconscious.  At these times it is so important that we take steps of self care and look after ourselves.

I also wonder about our interconnectedness to those people with whom we share emotional history and DNA connections.  On the day my mother fell down the stairs last year (early March when the sun was activating my transit her Mars in Pisces) I had a major meltdown at the park.  I just started to experience extreme psychological distress.  It was so bad I walked off and left my dog in the small dog enclosure that the park, when I came back a young man was taking care of Jasper. “Are you okay?”, he asked at which point I burst into floods of tears.  I could not quiet express what was wrong as I didn’t know but much later that evening a family friend arrived on the doorstep to tell me my Mum had fallen and was in casualty.

Can you imagine the guilt?  I had had a disagreement with her a few weeks before.  We had spoken since.  I know her fall wasn’t in any way my fault (rather the outcome of her own actions) but I still felt some guilt for bringing up painful wounds from the past and expressing anger (admittedly in an assertive rather than aggressive way) that may have triggered anxiety for her.

I am very aware that in my family I act as a container and a conductor of energy.  I had a very strange sleep on Saturday night when all of this was happening.  It was as though I didn’t sleep and was on hyper-alert even though I know I did sleep.

Prior to logging on to write this blog I was experiencing much anxiety.  What helped was calling my sister, checking in and then getting online to write about what was happening.  This morning I felt all churned up and very spun around.  I also felt tired.  It was only when I spoke to a good friend that I could achieve some kind of clarity around the weekend’s events.

I am facing my own surgery in just over a week.  The timing of the finding of my breast cancer is not lost on me.  I went for the mammogram just before the anniversary of my father’s death and now I will have the surgery very close to my sister’s stroke.  Maybe there is no interconnection.  Perhaps all of these connections are a vast convoluted tapestry I have woven with my own mind.  Or is there a chance that my own wound relates to earlier traumas never fully mourned or resolved asking now to be noted and honoured?

I do not know the answer.  I can only use my intuition.  I can watch the astrological connections and see how the wheel of the year and the zodiac carry me across familial ground with themes that repeat and replay over time.  Most especially I can work to be aware of both my personal and familial triggers in order to live more consciously and to become more aware of how I am interconnected and how living in touch with a deeper level of things brings me a sense of wholeness and leads me away from overwhelm and anxiety.

 

 

Looking for solid land through fog and mist

Many days lately a mist comes down.  It is not clear to me where I am going and maybe it only needs to be clear to me that I am being, that I am breathing, that I am inhabiting this body.  Perhaps for someone like me who has spent a lot of her life hoping to escape from painful conditions in some way this is a big sign of growth that I don’t have to hold my breath and go out into trauma but can feel instead the flesh and tissue inside me as it reverberates with these trapped imprints and feelings I am trying to release.

Over these years of working to understand the impact of numerous traumas in my life I have learned that trauma puts a tear in the fabric of your being.  The present moment and even your bodily wholeness and integrity is impinged upon by an event which cuts into you, that shreds you and breaks up the continuum of what you knew, what you felt you could trust in, rest in, depend upon.  It brings displacement, disorientation, dislocation all of those “dis” words  (is it any accident or a sign of deep synchronicity that my name starts with the initial “D”?)  And most of all a deep sense of distrust.

Need it be like this?The healing comes in knowing that the world and other people will not always traumatise you but maybe its a lesson in a deep truth that things don’t always stay the same, that pain and accidents, illness, death, loss, change all happen.  But this doesn’t really take into account the full throttle impact on your body and central nervous system that takes place in trauma, that fires it up in such a way that when it is trying to let go, there comes always a jolt that disrupts the rest, flinging you this way and that.

Every morning that I awaken this is what I encounter, for the waking itself is also fraught with the deep cellular memory of coming to consciousness after the impact of at least two major traumas that nearly caused death and that whipped and flung my body about and so I twist and turn never sure that I can put my foot down on the ground and trust that it will hold me in the morning, that I will, on this day, be able to move into the day and not be held back by trauma.  Some days I really have to fight to move out into life.

I have tried so many different kinds of body therapies over the past years and this year the closest I have come to any deeper understanding has been through my Body Harmony treatments, but lately I have had major breaks in the continuity of these treatments, its been hard to trust and surrender and over Christmas and New Year I am having to hold it together (or try to) through the most painful time of year for me without much support.  I’ve noticed particularly over the past few days I have been feeling really lost and full of grief and loneliness.

All around seem to be examples of people who are connected to love ones.  This year at Christmas I lived the truth of how fragmented our family is, of the lack of true connection.  This isn’t the truth with all family members.  I have noticed over the past year my sister and mother making attempts to understand me at a deeper level.  This has occurred only as I have had the strength to confront what seemed abusive or lacking in empathy.

Mum has her own deeply buried pain but like many of her 1920’s generation they had to “just get on with it”.  “Just put it all behind you”, she said to me today when I was telling her of some recent disappointments with friends.  I don’t argue with that kind of advice today.  Its what she has tried to do.  It is not like I want to wallow in it 24/7 but I do feel that in healing recognition only comes when we allow people to be where they are and validate that.

Lately I am experiencing deep feelings of pain and sadness over the lack of really deep, affirming connections in my life, but I must also keep positive and say that I now have two or three, its just most of the time I feel like I am surviving on crumbs or scraps of caring and its not nearly enough to sustain me.

To be honest I get more affirmation and support through my blog and from others who live this journey online that out there in daily life which at times I find very isolating.

I have received a lot of messages that aren’t helpful, telling me to try and move out from it, or run away from it, go here, do that, buy this or that, have a holiday etc etc.  But the truth for me is that my pain only transforms when I face it head on and admit the reality of it to myself, no matter how painful.  It means staying with myself and my body and my breath when things get so painful I am tempted to split off.  It means holding myself like a little baby that needs good care on the tough days and saying loving things to myself.  It means not comparing my traumatised self with that of others who have not endured that level of trauma and finding myself wanting.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t take steps to take care of me and give myself good things too, its just these days I am finding trying to run or escape from me just doesn’t work or heal me.

Some days its hard to orient myself and I need to rest. Living alone there is a lot to do to sustain my life and at times I wish I could be taken care of, that I did not have to do it all alone, or that someone would just call to ask “How are you?”.  This morning this prayer was answered, my sister called as she was thinking of me and we had a lovely chat where I really could say what I was feeling, that was such a gift to me, for a time it made the fog disappear.

When I was at the park with Jasper earlier this afternoon I had this thought.  Often after people suicide the people around them say “I wish I knew what he or she was going through” or “they should have reached out”.  This doesn’t take into account whether those around the person had enough empathy to even care or reach deeper or whether they just filled up all the available air time with their self centred life and ignored that person who spent a life time burying their painful feelings.  This isn’t to imply blame but only to say, at times when I tried to talk of my pain others would not listen, or only thought about the impact on them.

That is why it is so important to really listen and to care.  Until we can give this to ourselves however, though, I guess we can’t give it to anyone else and sometimes the suicidal person’s pain is so deep they cannot reach out or speak of it.  For me it is always a healing breakthrough when I can say this is how it is for me no matter how dark the thoughts and feelings and  be heard.  For often trauma takes our voice and without it the fog comes down, disorients us and sweeps us away.

It is true to that on each day I also have to look through the mist and fog for the sunshine things in life, places, activities, food, music and other things that dispel the gloom.  On the dark days it can be hard for these to even reach us but on the greyer days they might just make all of the difference.  In the end its a fine line between honouring how we feel and not being trapped there, feeling so lost and alone.  And maybe just maybe there are some of us who live closer to this lost, alone place.  Having endured what we have we have lived things others never will and we have been changed by that experience.  We cannot erase those memories or the pain, we can only find a way to bear them with dignity and grace, working hard not to dispel a sense of hope and gratitude for this present moment, attendant with the realisation that our present does not need to be a repeat of the past, that in acknowledging our trauma and speaking of it we can find freedom, peace and understanding.

 

 

Drink from the Beauty

I have decided that each day I will drink from the beauty all around me, and allow it to rejuvenate my entire Being. All we need to do is pause, for just one minute, and really take it in, remembering to thank Mother Nature for her beauty. This is one of the real blessings of life…

Ashtara.

These are not my thoughts or words but I am posting them up as they are a powerful medicine for me and for my soul.

I am sure I am not alone in putting my focus at times on the difficult things in life. the things that have hurt me or caused me pain.  I know that in loving at times I will lose and there will be pain in the losing and the letting go.  It may be a process I have to work through in order to feel through to my heart, but I can also in the midst of pain look to the things that will bring beauty, peace, love and healing into my life.

When I had separated from my husband a profound period of loss and grief came upon me.  I had a bike accident and a major head injury as a result of a cranio sacral session to deal with a major trauma at 17.  It can happen when we go deeply into the body unconscious that something is triggered and I was not properly grounded by the therapist following the treatment.  The end result was that I crashed and hit my head on an iron foundry.  I date my difficult PTSD symptoms including broken sleep from that time.  When I awake every day I try to check the position of my limbs which seem all out of kilter and then adjust when really I just need to realise I need to get up slowly and orient to my day.

Anyway following the crash I went on retreat to Glastonbury in the UK and while there someone gave me a card with the following words on it:

Rather than focus on all the misery, I would rather remind myself of the beauty that still remains.

I do know that at times this is really, really hard and there is no easy way through grief, but I also know while going through this process we can focus on taking care of ourselves, being loving and surrounding ourselves with beauty and nurture.  This is most essential for our soul thrives on these things. So for today this is my go to thought which I am sharing hoping it touches others too.

 

Being present to the truth

We need to count by touching

Not by adding and subtracting

Mark Nepo

There are thoughts about life and then there is just life, pure and simple as it appears before you in all of its wondrous and at times terrible beauty, as you touch it and taste it, rather than analyse it. What is the story we make of life?  This is a question I am asking myself at present.

Recently when I started my Body Harmony therapy I got a bit offended when the therapist made mention of my being caught up in a story. I guess I thought on some level she was trying to imply that my pain was not real. This week when I just let out the feelings of deep sadness and grief I had trapped inside with very little of the story around it and she placed her hand on me knee and looked into my eyes with true deep empathy and compassion, I got it and I realised my fears that she was yet another person who was going to deny, invalidate and shut me down were unfounded?

My ideas of who people are, are not always right, (sometimes, yes, but not always). I have had two experiences this week with projecting onto two men around me in the park things that were not true when we finally began to talk. These two experiences have left me questioning my view of the world. How much of the story I make up around life and other people is actually real? How much also do I hold back after having decided something upon supposition or past fear will be detrimental to me or difficult or painful

I am not meaning to imply here that the impulse to be protected and safe while we seek healing is wrong, especially if we have been traumatised in the past.  Such damage can create so much fear of reaching out and may block us permanently.

One of the other impacts of trauma is that it captures your attention and takes it to another place where it is no longer so fully present to the sensations of today, instead we are caught up in past sensation or triggered by new ones which echo old and leave us no longer truly and fully present to the external and real in an open, feeling way.

I have tried to express this in an earlier blog about being caught between two worlds. What came up for me this week was how much the illness of my older sister took from me, how much separation came about as a consequence and how much fear of being present to life and love as a result. For some time I have been wanting to go and visit her surviving children, but I have been feeling held back. I know seeing them will bring up pain for me, but also deep joy and a part of me longs to connect while the other fears and holds back.

Another aspect of my past I relived in session this weekwas  the trauma of undergoing my first termination of pregnancy in 1983. It comes as a memory of being laid flat on my back with legs spread wide and pain going up deep inside me and spreading all through my abdomen, a terrible dragging pain which I seem to fight off every morning now when I awaken. When I am feeling all of these painful sensations and then feeling myself so powerfully pulled back to the room I sat in following the procedure with tears falling down my face, the present has faded out of consciousness.

I am being reminded by my therapist to be in present time to bring myself and my focus back to the room while still being aware of the sensation. then rather than thoughts there are deeper body sensations flowing like waves and often tears erupt which evokes a relief of the painful holding on and in. The sense of my heart faltering as tears break through to the surface of consciousness …. I am reminded of how last week when I went to the dentist and they tilted the chair back and then placed a heavy lead coat on me before taking an x-ray I was triggered back to other situations of being laid flat out on my back.

With so many of these deep body memories is it any wonder I struggle each morning to get out of bed? Its interesting to me that the more fully I feel the pain of these experiences, deeply feel it, allow it to move through me and release it, the more joyful desire I now feel to be present and engage deeply with life. My retreat into isolation all those years ago was driven by so much fear. There came a point in my sobriety where I had to begin to feel and engage in the deep pain I had buried. There was a desire to go back somewhere safe, to be in the old environment but also a resistance towards that too. It took me further 10 years to make it back to my home town and it has taken another four to begin to fully engage with the process through a number of stops, starts and replays of separation trauma where intense anger and fear came up for me.

you-cant-expect-to-have-a-deep-relationship-with-a-shallow-person

There is a joy I feel today in feeling real, in having places to go where I am truly seen below the surface by others being real who can see deeply.  Many people don’t touch that depth and they may fear it deeply, I am aware shallow may be a value judgement that doesn’t sit well with me, but I am also aware that in order to heal I need to find places of validation where I am truly seen and can be real in order to touch deeply and engage fully with what lives inside me.

For so many years all of this felt like a deep ocean that would threaten to drown me.  I needed help to navigate and deep sea dive it, it was just too much alone.  What came up too when I shed those tears about my sister and then my Dad’s sudden death was the deep understanding that all those years ago I had no place to express the pain, it got driven deep in my body, I used booze to cope, then there were the painful explosions as others drew close to someone who had a mine field of grief trapped inside her.  I felt true compassion for myself and for everyone else who wanders lost, looking and yet not truly knowing what for until that truth emerges in a difficult to find place which offers support, understanding and recognition.

It can be a long and difficult journey to find the right kind of help.  Having had so many negative experiences I can only say you know when you are in the right place with those who will help you.  it may take some time to trust if you have tried and been hurt before, but don’t stop searching until you find the place where you can be real and present to the deep truth that lives inside you,

In between two worlds

Trauma fractures our normal waking reality.  When we undergo a major trauma there is a tear in the normal timeline or continuity of experience.   Consciousness may shut down as what is occurring is too much for our mind and nervous system to handle.  In addition our endocrine system is highly activated by neurotransmitters of the central nervous system’s two branches, sympathetic and parasympathetic which flood our body with stimulating chemicals.  We remain permanently activated in this way even when the threat or trauma has passed.  This puts an end to the idea that we should just “get over” traumatic experiences.

Once consciousness is torn what we experienced in trauma falls to the somatic (body) level in the unconscious and we enter a kind of twilight zone too, where there are fractures we experience in our waking reality which can be impinged upon by traumas at the unconcious level.  The permanent activation of our fear/flight/fight systems leads to fear and projection of old pain onto new experience. We can be easily triggered, Or, as in my case, we can go into freeze in the face of an overwhelming threat.

There is a powerful belief that the body is the unconscious.  As babies born we were just a mass of sensate being, in the womb as a foetus we were connected to the vibrational currents around us, what the mother experiences we experience. When we are born we have the shock of the birth trauma which can have all kinds of impacts.  We may have had an easier birth, but birth is still a trauma.

In my own case my mother held me back, she put off going to the hospital to give birth to me because she wanted to finish bottling plum jam.  The pattern I am now aware of in my own life is that I hold myself back.  This is part of my PTSD experience as well and a way of being.   I may sense something I want to go towards but I hold myself back with thoughts or fears, conscious or unconscious.

The current body work I am doing is encouraging me to write down when I hear any of these voices.  A lot of the inner voices I hear question me and my experience, put on a censor or a stop from moving forward.  Add to this that I live with the buried experienced of at least six major traumas and its no wonder that on awakening now I am so conscious of the fact I am strung between two worlds.  The world of trauma can hold me captive for some hours in the day if I don’t find the courage to move forward.

One of the symptoms of PTSD is trouble falling asleep.  In my case it takes me about two hours to fall asleep with lots of twisting and turning along the way.  I am trying to learn to breath deeply instead of holding my breath.  With the current help of tissue salts I am now managing to sleep through and if I do wake up to go to the toilet I no longer hold it all inside for an hour or so as I used to do.  My natural response is to check my body, to feel parts of my body are frozen, to hold the breath and then to twist.  I fear that if I do get up I am so twisted I will fall down.  The closest thing I have seen to what I go through is old footage of survivors from the First World War who lie their bodies twisted around with convulsions and spasms from an overloaded nervous system.

On awaking I am also aware that I am strung between two worlds, that of the conscious day and the unconscious trauma and body symptoms.  Last night I dreamt of a huge tall narrow bridge suspended over a major road. I was conscious that I needed to cross this bridge but I was terrified of it.  I think from what I remember that in the dream I did manage to cross the bridge.

It seems to me that in trauma two bridges are broken, the one with normal conscious waking reality and the other in our interpersonal relationships.  We loose a sense of safety and trust in the benevolence of the world. It takes courage to open ourselves up, especially when some of our intense reactions and symptoms are misjudged or misunderstood by others.

One of my purposes in blogging about this is to speak from within the experience of trauma and its effects in order to bring more understanding of the impact of trauma on survivors.  Empathetic understanding helps us to feel less isolated and feared.  Its taken me some time to realise the anger I get from others about the way my trauma affects me and them is about fear and a sense of powerlessness.  That I can do nothing about that but that I must not judge myself but show myself, love, mercy, tenderness and compassion while continuing to reach for the courage to move forward each day.

To feel the wind : Lessons in trauma recovery

I just had one of those beautiful moments when I felt the wind gently caress my face and was touched by the grace of nature. Nature offers me a place of peace far from the storm of painful sensations, emotions and conflicts stirred up by my past trauma and by my own reactions to being hurt.

I am considering this issue at the moment since beginning to work over the past few months with a therapist to foster body awareness due to painful symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. What happens in trauma is the over activation of the nervous system which goes on high alert and begins to pump out stimulating chemicals which can’t easily be soothed or arrested. I am learning there are things I can do to help myself and breathe through the feelings without freaking out as much.  I can also help myself by reaching for remedies which support my recovery at the cellular level.

One interesting fact that I have recently learned from my therapist is how the chemical content of our body cells is changed by ongoing trauma and stress, I am taking tissue salts to help redress this balance and as result I am starting to sleep unbroken for the first time in over 10 years. Not for very long, maybe max 5 hours, but that is fine for me to feel able to cope and that I have energy if I am refreshing my system with time spent in nature, good company, cuddling my dog and letting myself be present to the elements instead of closing myself off and shutting down to life.

So much is changing for me and I am seeing how my past trauma has affected me, how rough it was when I began to enter recovery and uncover deep and complex emotions that got split off and drowned in my addiction. Around 7 years into this process of recovery I began to look for a less stimulating lifestyle and one in which I could release what was trapped inside but I was not in a supportive environment. Instead I had others around me who were frightened by me and my emerging feelings and wanted me to change. I had to lose a marriage, (admittedly not by my own choice) and then have a very dark time alone where I had two other major traumas on the anniversary of that abandonment which triggered all my pain from other times of being left and told I wasn’t good enough and I flailed around for quite a few years looking for new support which would encourage me in the process of healing.

I was not aware until very recently (and now it is clear as I finally AM in a supportive environment with several people who encourage me to take my inner world seriously) how hypervigilant I was in trying to seek approval from the wrong places and how often I was made to believe by my catholic education and upbringing that there was something wrong with me for having very real strong human feelings and needs. This is a very powerful unconscious conditioning which I now understand and that understanding is making it easier for me to be alone and sustain myself from within and in healthier ways.

Nature is a profound source of soothing for me in this process. Trauma leads to dissociation from the body and from our inner nature, if we lack a sufficiently supportive holding environment to help us re-engage with that trauma in a context of self soothing we remain split off, and it seems to me that nature helps me to split off from myself less, a good walk along the windswept pathway puts me back in my body and that feels wonderful.

Movement helps my trauma to dissipate because so much of my trauma is associated with being still and overpowered by an accident of some kind in which something from outside entered my body and ruptured the continuum of my boundaries. This left me struggling to know my boundary and in having good boundaries.

Walking and moving or pushing out shows me where my boundary is. The wind on my face shows me where I meet the wind in life and helps me know how it feels to be soothed and caressed rather than penetrated painfully and jangled around, it gives me a context for soothing rather than painful experiences.

One of the powerful exercises in working with trauma developed by therapists such as Peter Levine is to pendulate or move between the parts of the body which are in pain and carry traumatic imprints and the parts of the body which feel sensations of peace and pleasure.   So much of being traumatised leads us to a focus on what hurts, that place of hurt is like a magnet that draws the iron filings of our attention towards it, but if we can find a focus of goodness in the body to counter balance that we can learn to draw our attention away from the pain. It is not that we deny it, we can notice or touch it with our awareness but we don’t need to let the painful, traumatic sensation engage our entire focus.

Feeling the wind on my face is such a blessing and I am not sure if you will understand if you haven’t suffered trauma why, but that caress of the wind shows me I am in the body that I took flight from due to trauma and that there is the hope of pleasure outside the dark valley of pain that for so many years has held me down under its weight of sadness, loss and longing.

I feel a new sense of purpose in this work with trauma.  I want to share about it as much as I can to help others who are trapped in trauma.  Sometimes I can hear a voice in the wind which is a portent from spirit with a message about what my purpose is.  Wind is associated to spirit.  Spirit enlivens and engages, it moves things about and lets a flow happen which trauma dams up.  In my heart when I listen to the voice of wind telling me there is freedom beyond pain I wish to let the message circulate, freely like the wind and to remind others of the precious gifts nature offers us in helping us to reconnect and heal.

Feeling good enough

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Here is a question for you.  Do you believe you are “good enough”?  My thoughtful self balks at even writing those two words, which invite another couple of questions, good enough for whom or what? This post is provoked both by reading the daily meditation for 19 September in my daily reader, One Foot in Front of the Other,  on perfectionism and also by the remorselessly critical inner voice that lays me to siege from time to time and most especially on the days when I am not travelling as well.

In this reading Tian Dayton, the author writes :

Dark forecasting was a residue of a childhood dysfunction and trauma. I experienced a loss of trust and faith that the world was a predictable, safe place, that my needs were meet-able and not too much, that relationships could be fulfilling rather than disappointing.

As the reading goes on Tian talks of how a sense of seeking perfection of ourselves and others and looking for the worst can begin to prevail in our lives and alter the way we think about people, life, experiences and relationships. It can also affect the way we think about ourselves, most especially if how we were or expressed ourselves was deemed to be bad or an inconvenience for others, our true feelings and needs, ignored, punished, misunderstood, denigrated or shamed, leading us to internalise this treatment. The healing path is to recognise the impact of our past and the role it plays in our thinking.

Today my inner critic began one of its familiar rants :  what a waste of space I am, growing less attractive, as I age, just not measuring up at all. Today was the first time I’ve told the voice full throttle to Fuck the hell Off. I was aware that my body was being pulled into the downward spiral of post traumatic stress. As I yelled back at the voice and allowed my self to get really angry at it (this dear reader is a first for me!!!) I did some powerful; resistance stretching, got dressed and moved out into the brisk cold windswept day to walk, my dog Jasper by the lake. I then went to our local fruit and veg markets, read my book and had a cup of coffee.

While I was smack bang in the middle of this experience I looked down and noticed the complex textures and colours in my denim jeans, flecked cardigan and scarf.  I felt the wind on my face and as well as feeling with my fingers the texture of the page. At that moment I felt joy in just being present.  I had the awareness that I was actually grounded in my body rather than stuck in a world of thoughts. I also had a very strong experience of how full and complete the present moment is.

I’ve been having some bodywork lately to deal with the impact of my post traumatic stress. I needed to call the therapist today as I was getting overwhelmed. In my state of overwhelm, she drew attention to the fact I wasn’t breathing, when the breath slowed down there was a deep sadness and a lot of tears, I had not been able to feel before our contact.  This experience made me question :

How often am I actually split off from my body, from what I am actually feeling?

How often am I trapped in thoughts instead of just noticing where I am presently in the room?

And how much of my thoughts related to memories of the past experiences that hurt me and keep me trapped, in the car or flung flat on my back with a massive head trauma which made me feel disoriented, nauseated and overpowered by trauma?

Also :  how much does that experience entrap me now if I don’t keep track of the present moment and make the differentiation between the past and present?

I am not entirely sure how this relates to feelings of not being good enough only to mention that I recently read that one of the impacts of trauma is to blame ourselves, even when we are not at fault.  Also add to this that our trauma in affecting others may lead them to blame us for it too.

On the difficult days I feel I am not very far along in my life and have been in a kind of prison for the 10 years since that last major trauma on the first anniversary of my marriage ending. My attitude then shifts to the negative when I focus on that too much, instead of seeing all the ways in which I have coped and continued to front up on the tough days when I can. Considering the number of times I have felt extremely suicidal, just being alive is a miracle for me.

Being discarded by someone can leave us feeling we did not measure up in some way. It’s a painful legacy to deal with. I was watching a show about a person who had been discarded in such a way last night and she was crying about feeling like in some way she had failed to “measure up” and wasn’t good enough. I could really empathise with her pain. I know it well.   But whose standard was it she was failing to measure up to? Was it realistic for her? Should her feelings for herself be tied to this person’s lack of approval?

It’s a journey to move away from that kind of pain. It takes a real mental effort, not one that is about denying reality but about accepting it. I have to watch also when my own inner standard it too high for who I really am in this life and turns toward the negative, when the expectations I have internalised are not mine but someone else’s.

Tian writes

My mind can be my greatest enemy or my greatest ally. It depends on how I use it. When my day goes sour rather than try to manipulate others (by trying to be what they want) or complain about my fate I will step back and observe what is going through my mind.

What is going through my mind may not be about the reality and promise of the present moment which holds all kinds of simple pleasures and gifts but about past things or circumstances I cannot change, such as someone not loving me as I am or my past trauma which I also cannot change.  But I do have power on this day.  I do have the choice to love and care for myself in this moment by thinking in a way which frees me rather than locking me deeper in an inner prison of trauma and dark forecasting which endlessly repeats.

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.

How the Light Gets In

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I was reflecting in my garden, as reflections of the shadows of leaves waving in the breeze, being tossed lazily around fell before me, about how important nature is to me, and about how I see my recovery from addiction and the pain I carried as a way of seeking to come back into step with the natural cycle and order of things.

When I got sober in 1993 it was the beginning of summer here in the southern hemisphere. Winter brought a new relationship into my life, and by spring, we were married.  By early summer I was in so much pain I around my alcohol abuse that I entered the rooms of AA and found sobriety. Now that I look back I know there was something not quite conscious about the speed with which my husband and I committed, and yet our marriage and coming together was all part of the path, of what was meant to happen in my life in order for me to grow.

Ever since that time, spring represents me a coming to birth and light out of a deep heavy fog of darkness. The loneliness that had dogged me ever since my father’s death and all through adolescence really lifted in the light of new love when my husband and I met. The love of my husband gave me enough support to allow me to make the decision to deal with the impact of my binge drinking.   His love gave me a window and insight into the hurting in my heart and the support to heal. For the rest of my life I will be so grateful to him, even though he is not now in my life. In four days we would have been married 21 years.

I do believe that even when relationships end in real life, the relationship that you had and continue to have with that person lives on inside you. People can remain like ghosts, leaving you haunted or, through a process of healing, you find a way eventually to come to peace and transform the relationship. I feel that peace around me in my heart at the moment despite the ending that came in early 2001 when we left England and the promise of a new life there.

Home brought me back to a sense of deep loss and trauma and our relationship only survived another three years. With so much trauma still undealt with and unprocessed over here in Australia with my remaining family; with my sister incapacitated and stuck in an abusive relationship which was ending; with my mother having sustained a major injury; with the burden of the promise I had made to my dying father to take care of my mother weighing heavily on my heart, I could not live in peace without coming home.  But a part of me was rebelling so deeply against this.  It didn’t seem entirely fair.  Exactly how was it my responsibility? And yet, on some level I thought it was.  The astrologically attuned may understand if they saw all the conjunctions to the South Node in my seventh house of relationships, while the North Node in Leo roars out alone in the first house.

I now see that although I gave myself such a hard time for leaving what was unfolding in the UK for me during 2001, it was necessary for me to come home to deal with the past.  I chose to remain somewhat removed from home and yet got stuck in a place so associated to the past and trauma. It was the house my father built in the final years of his life, those difficult years of trauma, 1979 – 1985.

These days I know the impact of unresolved trauma, of feelings we have no permission or avenue to process can and do often keep us in a freeze state : an inner purgatory or liminal space with is like a cocoon or alembic, a receptacle in which death processes are going on that are not accessible to thought but live like echoes or intimations buried deep. The entire body psyche is bound and regurgitating on an unconscious level, that which was too huge to process and which is needing to be worked through.

Giving a name to our traumatic imprints, finding words is essential to find the freedom, to loosen the tenacious grip that unconscious trauma can leave on the soul. We unravel from it and uncoil, slowly in the presence of acceptance, understanding and love which are difficult for a traumatised person to find amongst even the most familiar to them. In their absence we remain bound and imprisoned until enough failures lead us to no longer abandon ourselves, encourage us to find the love needed inside as well as the courage to make our way through unleashing the necessary feelings.

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I was chatting to a friend of mine who is sober like me, has been sober and in recovery for over 20 years and she was saying how difficult it is in her family to find understanding and recognition. “I realise” she said to me (echoing my own recent experience, “when I can have my feelings and find help to feel them I move through them. When I don’t get this I stay stuck.”

Later that day I was making my way through Judith Herman’s chapter on safety in her book Trauma and Recovery where I read the following :

The traumatised person is often relieved simply to learn the true name of her condition. By ascertaining her diagnosis, she begins the process of mastery. No longer imprisoned in the wordlessness of the trauma, she soon discovers that she is not alone; others have suffered in similar ways. She discovers further that she is not crazy; the traumatic syndromes are a normal human response to extreme circumstances. And she discovers finally, that she is not doomed to suffer this condition indefinitely; she can expect to recover as others have recovered.”

Such recognition, understanding and healing is only possible when we can feel and give a name, true name to what we have experienced. We may have to live the realisation over and over to come to acceptance in a long and drawn out process of healing, but once we can understand and express our complex feelings we are closer to acceptance and freedom.

Judith Herman notes that people with the complex disorder of post traumatic stress (those who have been impacted severely or by several traumas stacked on each other, or those whose PTSD has been worsened by a lack of empathy around them) often feel they have lost themselves.

“The question of what is wrong with them has often become hopelessly muddled and ridden with moral judgement. A conceptual framework that relates the person’s problems with identity and relationships to the trauma history provides a useful framework for formation of a therapeutic alliance.(which) recognises the harmful nature of the abuse (or trauma) and provides an explanation of… persistent difficulties.”

It seems to me that in giving our traumas words we are recognising the truth of their impact too, recognising this truth may necessitate a period of suffering and or mourning.  That profound period and stage of healing takes the time it takes to work through.  Once negotiated it can and does lead us to re-integration and once we choose it, re-engagement with life.

Tied up with healing may be experiences where we replay unresolved traumas or issues by what is known as repetition compulsion. Before the traumas or losses we have been through can be named we may need to re-experience then in differing guises.  Anniversaries can bring new traumas or events that echo earlier ones.

It has been recognised that unresolved trauma does tend to magnetise to it other traumas which are attempts of the trauma to make itself known (see Peter Levine’s work : Taming the Tiger). I certainly experienced this in my own life. The end of my relationship with my husband brought up not only all the unfelt grief and unnamed trauma of my father’s death and eldest sisters’ illness and breakdown to the surface, but pain of three other major relationships ending.

In the absence of support and recognition as well as the down right hostility of my family and friends to the deeper layers of trauma and grief I was literally driven away, scapegoated and set up to repeat not only those traumas but the very profound trauma of my earlier accident of 1979.   These repeats occurred following the end of my marriage as I had made the choice to return to the scene of earlier “crimes” because their true impact remained unconscious and unprocessed.

The pain of my relationship ending, led me to repeat old traumas over a period of six years. It led me into a relationship in which I would be abandoned in nearly exactly the same way as I was in the month following my father’s death 26 years later. This pattern was not conscious as it was unfolding, only as I worked through the pain, did the repetition elements reveal themselves and in so doing helped me to heal and make sense of how the compulsion to repeat had replayed in my own life.

On an astrological note the true integration of all of that pain took an entire Saturn cycle to play out.  In the last two years, Saturn’s transit through Scorpio has crossed over my natal Neptune and returned to the place it occupied when my father died in 1985 and I took flight over to the land of my ancestors.

When I began this blog earlier it was with the idea in mind of how we can fall out of step with natural cycles or of the profound power of natural cycles to play and replay sometimes in a spiral pattern. The point I was hoping to make was that when I found sobriety in 1993, eight years following my father’s cancer diagnosis and death it was to nature and to a tree that I turned for solace and healing. (This makes great sense to me as I read the blog back, humans around me often were not safe and could not be trusted to be true witnesses to my grief as nature can.)  This may seem strange but in 12 step groups we are encouraged to find a sense of higher power or strength in any avenue that is fitting for us. The word God is used but many people have difficulty with God due to the abuse of certain religions.

For me in the summer of 1993 it was to the roots of a huge fig tree in McKell Park in the eastern suburbs of Sydney that I turned for refuge. It absorbed the tears of mine which fell to the ground when following my first AA meeting I had an experience of coming home, of opening up, of letting go and of being held and comforted by unseen forces, of knowing I was in the right place. It was under this tree that I could sit and feel my way into the heart centre that I closed down over all those years, years during which I felt myself to be driven so far from my own body into addiction and painful relationships.  These were all necessary but misguided attempts to run from a pain I was not able yet, to fully feel my way through to the dark centre of, while replaying an unconscious pattern.

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As I sit and type this today these words appear on top of a background of reflected green : the shimmering leaves of the beautiful tulip tree which graces my back yard. As spring birds call out in the distance I find myself at home and at peace. Through all of this unfolding nature and the unfolding of cycles, the turning of wheels within wheels, has carried me through.  Nature bids me these days to find rest when I am overtaxed, it lets me know by its slower natural rhythms when I am out of step or overtaxing myself.  When relationships got stripped away or fell apart because and grief and anger I carried seemed to tax every single relationship, apart from the one with myself,  trees and nature like my little dog have waited patiently giving me something deep and soothing that is in the absence of words a lot like love, that reaches a far deeper place than words could.

Not all humans have failed me and god knows I have failed people too, at times. There have been those, particularly in later years, in person in and online who have been willing to listen and to help me name my true experience, just as there have been those who have been so damned uncomfortable with this that they have sidelined me or tried to shut me up.

Was it that in my addiction I fell out of step with the natural cycle? In trauma something gets ripped open or torn apart. The natural cycle is interrupted or shattered for a time and such shattering leaves a legacy of symptoms which speak of dis-order.  There is, on the astrological side, something profoundly Uranian to this, in that often Uranus disrupts the natural order, perhaps to bring to birth something individual that could not come to birth out of that natural, unbroken order.

And yet in the living of a life that has balance I know I have needed to seek for the order within that disorder, to seek for connection even in the midst of disconnection. To make of the torn apart threads a new garment that has an individual beauty and complexity that rests on the disordered skeins being woven into a new pattern.

So perhaps what happened was this, things fell out of order to find a new order. It is said that it is through the cracks that open from these kind of things that light enters what was previously opaque and impenetrable.   Traumatic events can bring about amazing healing and reconnections between people who might never have met or never experienced connection nor come to outgrowths of new understanding.

And so trauma has its place and things do get torn apart, fall apart and break. Perhaps in the end much depends on the perspective we take and the perspective we reach. Often that change in or re-framing of perspective rests on having travelled a little further down the road. I certainly find this to be true.

Sometimes our healing and resolutions demands of us a patience with that which, as yet has not fully come to birth or form. Life itself and our understandings, too are ceaselessly evolving.   It is good that this is true. That we stay open, that we don’t seek to fix things into place too soon. That we expand our minds eye just a little wider and with the benefit of that expanded aperture find a perspective that reveals to us more of wholeness, of truth of life.