Getting in touch with my inner child

As I am going deeper and deeper in my therapy I am becoming much more aware of the pain of my inner child and her struggle to bond and connect. A little while ago I was lucky to come across a book called Addiction as An Attachment Disorder,  by the psychotherapist Philip J. Flores.

In this book he explains how when we have difficulty attaching as a child to a parent, difficulty in being mirrored, affirmed and understood, we have difficulty connecting later both in our relationship to ourselves and our emotions and as a result in our relationship to other human beings.

In the vacuum that forms we learn to attach to substances, which seem to fill the void left but don’t actually do so, with the result we are left even more hungry and filled with despair on an emotional level. It is easy to see how overconsumption and addictions result when we are this out of tune and don’t know what the hunger and pain is really about.

When we seek sobriety and remove the addiction we are left with the deep hole that emotional neglect has left.  We also, at first, find it difficult to make sense of and understand complex needs and feelings we never learned to understand and regulate  growing up.

It seems to me that then if we are in 12 step programmes we may come to believe the wrongly that the fault is in us, in a sense it is in that we are reaching for the wrong thing to fill us up now, but on another level we were not responsible for the fact that in being unable to bond with a caregiver, receive validation, comfort, nurturing love and understanding we naturally reached for substances, things and relationships to fill the void that was left and failed to mature.

However we are responsible in sobriety to learn what the wound of emotional neglect, failure to bond and lack of connection to our feelings and to needs and to others is really about.  The true nature of our childhood wound needs to be understood and grieved on a real level, rather than medicated with the wrong things.

Healing involves acknowledging what happened, mourning what we missed, longed for and never really received so that that pain becomes the fuel to recover and make healthier choices.   It also involves a long journey to become aware of ourselves and our feelings and needs as well as those of others.  One legacy of a wounded or damaged inner child is that our capacity to see others as separate may not have developed adequately.

One way we may try to heal  a wound of emotional neglect is that we become the parent or the caring one for our emotionally absent parent in an attempt to bond. When we were young if we were emotionally sensitive we probably felt their deep wound any way. I know this was true for me.

Later in life we may try to heal both wounds through caretaking. The truth is our caretaking cannot heal the original wound in either of us. It is a huge wake up call to realise a long way down the track what we may have sacrificed in our own life in order to do this while not being fully conscious.

This is where I find myself today. I found myself mourning so deeply today after a telephone call to my Mum. I was left with the deepest sadness and pain of my inner child over her insensitivity to my own needs that went so far back and I was also full of sadness for her insensitivity to her own feelings. Despite the fact of the anger and pain she has caused me for my own neglect, I still feel sad for my Mum who seems to have no way of expressing the deep grief she holds and has been carrying for years, to the extent now that her legs are all swollen with fluid and she is on all kinds of medications.

It is being pointed out to me in therapy that her sadness is not mine to carry, but still at times I feel powerless in the redeemer role I set for myself.

Today I really sat with my inner child after this conversation with my Mum. I felt anger and hatred towards her at the same time I felt the deep, deep longing for her love. While sitting with myself and allowing all of this pain to rise up I said to my inner child.

“Little Debs, please tell me about your pain growing up, I really want to hear you and be there for you and to know how it was for you. I want to give you comfort.”

Lots of tears came and my child took me back to the times I was in a world of adults wandering around feeling invisible and longing to have my feelings and true needs noticed instead of ignored. It felt like I wandered so very long and was so very lost and confused for so, so long looking for the path home to me, making connections watching them break when my rage came out then understanding the pain underneath.  Trying to give love to both sisters in their damage, pursuing finally my own addiction recovery only to discover I was deeply co-dependent myself and had so much work to do to grow.

I was also made aware of the many times I ignored my own true needs and feelings.

“Why won’t you listen to me when I tell you what I need?” my inner child cried.

“I have been in so much pain, I need for you to feel the pain, to hold it in order to gain understanding.”

In contemplating this dialogue and through some of the investigation I have been doing into anger and pain lately I am beginning to realise the difference between acting out pain and holding it consciously in love, working through and processing it, without stuffing it.

Often I have acted out my pain and fear in rage. At the time I did not realise that was what I was doing. I did it in my last relationship where I was hurt deeply by similar behaviours of ignoring and neglect and downright insensitivity that mirrored my child hood. But acting out my rage never served any purpose but to show me where my needs were not being met and it often led to me feeling deeply ashamed.  There had been no conscious adult there to hold my child’s rage.  For me the healing only came after the acting out when I could realise this, grieve it and act in a healthier way on what I needed to do for me.

I am conscious lately that there is no where to go in my family to get my true feelings acknowledged. The truth is that only I can do that for myself and the curious thing is that often when I stand firm and true in this way and acknowledge my own feelings they sometimes get validation from my family. I do get my feelings acknowledged in therapy and often on and through blogging, reading blogs and sharing. I thank God for those sweet victories.

Coming to know what my true feelings are is so important, understanding that they were not met in childhood and how suppression of that truth led me to addictions has been a long journey in sobriety for me (It has taken over 20 years).

It seems to me that any encounter I have with my family of two (sister and mother) ends up in hurt for me. It has taken me over four years of different hurts occurring to see this. I am the one who sets myself up for it by hoping it will be better next time. At the same time I am realising that asking for intimate connection with people who are not intimately connected to themselves is not realistic. However, the hurt that comes when I see them doing things together taps the old wound that I am on the outside.

As a child I felt on the outside my sister and mother worked together. At one point this sister was a boss to me, a very tough boss. I am on the outside but it doesn’t need to be a lonely place if I am there for me. Even now they are forming an alliance of two, but today when I shared about all of this with my therapist she said “that must feel really painful seeing them do things together but the point is they aren’t really connecting, they are just doing things together.”   The truth is I feel most deeply connected when I am in touch with my true needs and feelings with or without them.

After being with my inner child to day it seems to be that for so long my inner child had nowhere to go to get her true feelings heard. In my last relationship silencing of my true feelings was essential to being accepted.

It is now so important that I be there for me. That I listen to my inner child’s pain, that I hold her hand and tell her that her feelings matter. It seems clear to me that the only healing that can come for me now is in being my own parent. Understanding how emotional neglect led to here means also being diligent in taking steps to ensure that such emotional neglect no longer continues from within me.

I also need to find a place for this child in me to grow and to connect with others in a healthy way, that does not involve caretaking. I long to connect to others and don’t always know how for today that is all I can express.

The wound in my child throbbed today, I felt the scars both on the inside and being coughed out too.

For today I just have these realisations, new realisations on a path of recovery that goes on. I am feeling so young today. I am aware that I have not fully matured because for years I seem to have been stuck in pattern of looking outside for mothering and fathering. There is pain in that (and some shame too) and awareness of much more work that need to be done to allow myself to grow in new and healthier directions.  And yet I am growing.

Sometimes it is tough work to allow myself to feel this vulnerable but I do know that in allowing the vulnerability to be and to be seen I grow in strength and authenticity.

When Love meets Fear

How comfortable is it for you when someone looks deeply into your eyes? This blog which I wrote a few days ago was prompted by a comment received on a recent blog The Loving Gaze from myblackspotblog. I have often felt uncomfortable when being looked at deeply. I can at times feel the shutters of my soul wanting to close, and a similar feeling was expressed in myblackspot’s comment. This got me to thinking and wondering if, when being looked at, old fear, pain or experiences of being seen into and misunderstood are evoked when we are being looked at, and whether also there is a fear of being invaded or invalidated due to that having happened to us in the past.

Or is it something deeper, something to do with a deeply private interior part of us that is not always so comfortable with being seen and needs to keep a place of separation or sanctity where we can just feel free to be, safe from scrutiny?

I am aware of something within me, that I experience a great fear of being shamed, of not getting something right and perhaps then of being rejected. In my last relationship as we began to connect more deeply, or try to, a lot of painful feelings arose for me, feelings that were not that comfortable for my partner and which he could not validate. This echoed old experiences of difficulties with mirroring.

What occurs for the child who is not mirrored or is told to feel differently or that what they feel is wrong is that we begin to adopt a false self or a mask as we begin to hide who we really are, how we truly feel. For the narcissist, as I understand it, the vulnerable self having been in childhood so rejected and exposed to punishment, invalidation and shame goes so deeply into hiding and his or her pain then becomes inaccessible or buried, often it will be projected on others.

The projected self that had to be discarded and judged as too bad, vulnerable, wrong or painful to face then becomes rejected in the other.  The fully blown narcissist is not aware of any painful or difficult aspects of the self, these all belong to others. It’s a very difficult situation to be on the receiving end of and it is one we need to be very aware of as we begin to heal early childhood trauma and experiences of being shamed, abandoned, punished or humiliated in unloving ways for just being a very human self with very human emotions parents may not have been able to deal with.

I am currently reading a book which deals with experiences in childhood that lead to borderline personality disorder. It speaks of the difficulty certain children face at the time they go through the beginning of the separation/ individuation process with mother. The psychological health of the child is dependent very much upon the mother’s ability to deal with frustration, anger, sadness and other responses which are evoked in the child as a response to steps toward connection and separation, dependency and independence.  A healthy mother can tolerate these powerful emotions without humiliating the child.

This process is very difficult for the mother if she never received containment of painful emotions herself as a child and as a result learned to distance and distrust her own painful emotions. The borderline personality disorder that can develop out of such painful interactions with Mum leads to a difficulty with accepting painful emotions in the self.

With such experiences of early wounding we seek to find ways to numb, suppress, cover over or project the painful feelings we are feeling. Since we have never learned how to be with the difficult feelings and found healthy ways to regulate and self soothe we seek this through less effective ways and often learn to keep our painful emotions under wraps, tending then to explode when the pressure builds too much.

In addition if we were looked on harshly when we were suffering or angry, or scared or sad, or even excited or extremely happy we may begin to feel an internalised shame for feeling such feelings which then become bound in shame. Later in life when we encounter these difficult states and even if we ae being looked on with love, this may feel very threatening to our soul.  We may unconsciously feel deep shame and fear or even terror.

I well remember the first time I had to stand up in front of a crowd at an AA meeting and expose my own true self who lived behind the mask of the false self.  I was both frightened  and ashamed.  Luckily I found the strength to be real. I remember how free I felt after enduring this fear and unmasking.

After posting my recent blog I received a comment from telllingheavysecrets saying how important she has found it to her recovery to look upon herself with the love she sought from others. THS expressed how she realised that for most of her life she had been looking everywhere for that loving gaze.

The truth is we cannot fully heal in isolation, especially if we have developed shame and frozen emotions due to an invalidating and traumatising past.  It is going to take some help from healthy individuals who can gaze on us in love, even when we are in painful and difficult states of mind and emotion if we have learned to despise or distrust these ourselves.

I remember a little way along in my relationship with my last partner who had narcissistic injuries expressing empathy for his kindness in some matter and he hit the roof. I had the audacity to imply that he was human and vulnerable in some way. How dare I? At the time the power of his rage scared me. He took himself off into the backyard and started hammering something ferociously. At that point I had really seen into him, and he did not like it. I got an angry roar. It has taken me some healing myself to understand why.

Today I am glad that for me my ability to take in the loving gaze from someone is increasing. What is even more important for me to learn to look on myself with the eyes of compassion when I am in a trauma invoked state. I take on board very deeply the advice of the Buddhist monk Thich Knat Hahn who advises to treat oneself and one’s pain as tenderly as one would a little child.

The loving parent we needed to look on us with love may have been very absent or non existent for us growing up, but that does not mean we cannot find that force of love within our hearts and minds now. It takes courage too, to open up to the love that may want to come our way from others, when past experiences of being rejected or shamed have led us to feel terrified of being truly seen.

In the case of the borderline a torrent of fear may come our way when we try to truly love, as it did with my ex partner but it may not be so obvious that it is fear that we are truly dealing with.   For myself I know that when I am in a fearful state I most need to understand and accept that feeling. I don’t have to like it, but if I can own it there is just a chance that I may be able to no longer be held as deeply captive by that fear. For a second I can choose love for myself and I have found along the way to be true these very important words from the bible. Perfect love casts out fear.

The loving gaze that meets and finds our fear may help the fear to dissolve if we can in tolerating and accepting the fear develop a relationship with what may have in the past been pushed away.  In looking upon ourselves and others in this way just maybe we can allow the love in that at times our fear and shame tries to keep us separate from.

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.

Who becomes the scapegoat?


Another post that I wrote just over a year ago that never made it out of drafts:

The phenomena of the scapegoat and scapegoating fascinates me deeply.  Many years ago I was intrigued to come upon a book The Scapegoat Complex by Sylvia Bretton Perrera.

At the time I had been recovering from addiction and was learning that addictions are often an avenue the family scapegoat or scapegoat identified individual uses to cope with the relentless inner self criticism and pain of disconnection from and love of the True Self, that dogs those of us who were not able to fully express and develop the wholeness of our living being and emotions in a damaged family.

The family described in Perrera’s book is one that very much identifies with external collective mores of perfection, appearances and collective ideals, it is not one that allows for the reality and expression of deeper emotions such as sadness and anger.  This type of family demands of its members that they repress some of their psychic reality in order to belong and receive acceptance.  It is not okay to express intense emotions of anger or pain but other ways of being are highly validated, ones that do not threaten the parent with their own repressed feelings (the shadow).

There are those of us who are more likely to develop addictions due to the fact we have a higher level of sensitivity to the inner world and to intense emotions.  In the scapegoating family these emotions are ones the parents had to repress and which confront them with their own repressed shadow. The scapegoat individual is one who sees beneath the surface to the repressed feelings of the parent and by a form of participation mystique (exquisite sensitivity and attunement) begins to express them or act them out.  They may become the identified patient or “sick” one, really they are the one that has the most potential for wholeness.

The parent defends against the realisation of deeper truths and is confronted by the emotional honesty and attunement, or vulnerability of the child.  The child is punished by an accuser within the parent which is then internalised (taken within the self).  This is called an introject.   The parent denies the reality of the child which is invalidated.  This leads to the child beginning to doubt the self and its perceptions.

The psychologist R D Laing was one of the first to realise that such parenting can lead to schizophrenic conditions, a hearing of inner voices.  The further work of Robert Firestone has shown how the internalised critic with its destructive voice operates to wall the sufferer off from happiness, connection, intimacy and love.

Many years on the parent may be long gone from the scene but the accusing voice remains. The remorseless critic who invalidated the psychic reality of the True Self of the person and led the person to live as a False Self.  One cannot live within the psychic entrapment of the False Self for long without beginning to experience depression.  If one has been taught not to know and asserts one’s own true needs and feelings due to neglect or downright repression on behalf of the parent a feeling of lowered energy and vitality will occur.

In addiction when abused and criticised the self feels an outrage that may not be permitted expression, which is then internalised as further feelings of despair, powerlessness and depression.  In depression such as this is the longing for the True Self, the way to which is barred by the accusing voices.

Addictions can be a way we reach to self soothe.  Unfortunately addiction also numbs and masks the pain and arrests our emotional and psychological development.  Abuse is traumatising and trauma tends to make us want to escape.  Eventually if we want to heal we must learn to face and feel what we have been running from.  We cannot do this without love and support and validation.

In order to heal we need to learn about how the True Self within us has been invalidated.  What messages have we received that are not true, the lead us to hate ourselves, doubt ourselves, neglect ourselves, punish ourselves.

I have shared elsewhere that after my marriage ended after 11 years of sobriety and I went into a voluntary retreat due to abandoning my first attempt at therapy I began to hear the voice of the accuser talking to me.  I did a piece of writing called Destruction 11:11 in which the voice told me of its hatred, and that it wanted me dead.  It was an important piece of writing as it woke me up to many realisations about myself.  Reading Sylvia Bretton Perrera’s book at this time helped me to understand further.

Lately I have tried to address some issue with my abusers around lack of sensitivity, invasion of boundaries and invalidation.  It was a learning as I was yet again demonised for my anger which was seen to be wrong and attempts were made to shut me down by a number of means, emotional blackmail was used.  This encounter has firmed up my understanding that expression of self assertion and differentness in our family is not valued.  One is expected to toe the line and is rewarded for making sacrifices.  When one asserts any hurt attempts are made to deflect attention from the hurt.  In invalidating the anger the self is invalidated.

Usually I would buckle back under after one of these incidents.  Thank God for good therapy.  Understanding the impact of the scapegoat psychology and issues of shaming and repression has helped me to heal.  I am sharing about it here in hopes it can help others.

Untwisting the twisted legacy of narcissistic injury.

When our needs and true self or beingness are not met, mirrored, affirmed and integrated into our conscious awareness (ego) one of the consequences is that we begin to feel confused, empty, disoriented and twisted inside.

When we have had a narcissistic parent who was never valued and nurtured themselves we learn to connect to a false, unreal image of who we really are.  We find false ways of being in the world in order to navigate the minefield of living with a parent who does not allow us to have our own needs and requires us to reflect them perfectly.  Often this parent projects their rejected or repressed shadow qualities onto us which are despised.  This can lead us to be very confused.  We begin to feel bad for having real needs and feelings and then question the validity of what is being projected and distorted by our parent.

The devastation of this lack of mirroring or attunement is not conscious but we feel it deeply in the soul and it sets us up for patterns of abuse in later relationships. Growing up with a narcissistic parent we feel all the time the deep sting and confusion of having displaced feelings projected onto us, due to the confusion we can wander in a fog for years as there can develop a deep schism.

We often find ourselves recycling in patterns of pain and confusion of new relationships all of which are serving the need of our soul to be led to pain in order that we can know the truth.

Often a narcissistic parent only wants to identify with the positive golden qualities of superiority, happiness, success, power and control. They often reject feelings that made them feel powerless such as uncertainty, human need, vulnerability, longing, mess and the daily chaos of ordinary experience.

The true nature of the evolving human experience is not about perfection but about process. The narcissist is attached to a mask that covers over these kind of qualities. Performance and the projection of a certain image becomes all important. One must look good, be in control, hide sadness and hurt, look “nice”.

Nice is one of my mother’s favourite words. When a genuine conflict is going on where someone is trying to address real pain and issues, my mother negates it, for such a struggle is not “nice”. Niceness becomes a stultifying prison of entrapment in which we become glued and enmeshed.

To be real and express real feelings that separate us from the narcissist, is to incur the disapproval and sometimes wrath of the narcissist. Not being nice is being angry about real hurts and injuries to the self, having a self, wanting, needing and hurting as a result of coming in contact with the deep, vulnerable, real self that wants, needs, loves, hates, desires, has passion and burns in order to come into a deeper relationship with the core.

Religions become narcissistic and many perpetuate this kind of narcissism when they teach us to reject the shadow of longing and need and especially to reject our anger in response to violation. Anger is seen as not spiritual.

Repressed anger is a devastating curse. It can and does lead to all kinds of somatised feelings and pain that is the hidden message of the self, disguised now as symptoms which seem to lack meaning. Spirituality and religions can lead us to reject the primal self, in fact this occurred in the evolution of religions during our movement into the current patriarchal ego centred age. This was a necessary step but cut us off from the primal depths of sexuality and need.

The battle to integrate these repressed shadow qualities is now going on in our religions. The deeper truth is that the true response of violation to and negation of one’s self is lashing out and rage in the first stages which gives us the power to stand for the self and mark ourselves as separate in some way, a necessary stage to develop a functioning ego for ourselves without which we become vulnerable to abuse and cannot function.

One of the very painful things in healing narcissistic injury is that the  breakdown of a false self needs to occur as we recover from this kind of abuse as the false construction must ultimately fall apart. Coming to terms with all the so called “shitty” feelings is essential as shit is the fertiliser of the self. It is the result of a process of assimilation and digestion of our experiences. Metaphorically it is needed for us to grow the flower of true self.

In fact the metaphor of flowers and plants trying to grow is a profound metaphor for what may occur as we grow up narcissistically wounded. We may have to twist ourselves out of natural shape in an effort to grow towards a light that is not a true reflector and those twists and turns will mark out the journey we have travelled and show the struggle we undertook to come to navigate the dicey terrain of self and other.

At the end of my last narcissistic relationship in which my own narcissistic wounds came to the surface my ex accused me of being “screwy”. It hurt, but on some level it was true.  I twisted myself out of shape to become something and someone else to try and find approval.

This was not a result of being defective, wrong or bad, but a consequence of a certain upbringing and survival responses that led me to become co dependent. Finding a way to untwist from years of self negation involved, for me, a descent into pain over quite a number of years.

My twisting is a result of my responses to my conditioning and struggle to live and express in a culture and family where there was a lot of denial and in which it was difficult to fully know and identify my true feelings and needs.  It was the result of my spirit seeking the light.

Twisting was also due to seeking the love I did not get in a round about way, by becoming the deeply empathetic one who would caretake and hold the feelings and tend the needs of others, I wished they could meet for me.  It was a confused way of seeking love but also of trying to compensate for a collective legacy of pain carried across many generations. But it was not pathological only, since the pain I have felt of generations is real, just beyond the capacity of one ordinary human being to bear.

For many years I thought that as the youngest it was my duty to fix our family trauma and bring awareness to it. The awareness did need to come but most importantly for myself in order to find freedom while retaining compassion for the entire mess, while still having boundaries to not feel as responsible for something that in the end was not just personal but collective.

No one will know how many rivers of tears in witnessing that collective journey and the suffering were shed, but were the raft that carried me to healing.

The healing path out of narcissistic injury involves coming to know the full human self in all its dark and light aspects, coming to know where and how we got twisted and conditioned to reach outside the self for what was really within us all along.

It is about repeating the same old painful patterns just long enough and using the pain as a path to self awareness and healing. Our deeply painful unconscious journey to become conscious is a labyrinthine pathway that leads us through the dark night of the soul. In this process the pain of the unreal being stripped away is felt and we burn in order to burn clean.

The toxic relationship is really a gift. It offers us the pain that can bring us to consciousness and love. In healing we learn that the love, affirmation and approval we seek must eventually come from within. In order to get there though, we need the affirmation of others or at least to understand  when negation of our whole self occurs this has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the other person’s splits and projections (although on some level we do attract that in order to understand our own splits and projections too).

In Eleanor Roosevelt’s words “no one can make us feel inferior without our consent”, when we become aware of the dynamics of projected inferiority.

As we heal we learn, unlike the narcissist that we do not need to dispel the darkness entirely but to use it and find the light hidden deep within it.  We can and do have the power to emerge, express and shine as we are, our twists become a complex lattice tapestry of beauty that make us who we are.

From My Heart – In Gratitude

I’m very emotional today after receiving so much response to my last post, including two reblogs  I just felt the need to share my feelings here.

In that post I feel like a deep part of me expressed itself and others connected too because we all have the child deep inside, the deepest most authentic part of us which sometimes gets so buried, lost, confused and hidden as well as separated from deep feelings of joy, connection, wholeness, peace.

It is really sad to say but over time I got to be very ashamed of this part of myself. I felt like it was too young, too full of energy, too much to be in this life and that this part of me would overcome others too, and I guess at times that part when it started to unthaw sometimes expressed extreme feeling held under wraps for years which were too much for some but you know what I’ve realised? These feelings I had of being overwhelming are for me a deep imprint of how it felt for my Mum to deal with my energy as a small child.

My Mum was a fair deal older when I was born in the 60s.  I was a mistake in that the pregnancy wasn’t planned.  Deep down I don’t thing at that point in time Mum was much interested in being a Mum, she wanted to work and was frustrated at being at home.  For a long time I was left.   There was also long period where she would put me in a harness with a lead when we had to go out.

As I’ve shared somewhere else here, after my oldest sister died a year ago I found a lot of letters she had kept that Mum wrote to her after she married and moved overseas. At that stage I was only about 3 but the letters were full of my Mum not being able to spend time with me, with feeling overcome by my liveliness and with being surprised when in the light of attention given by other relatives I was actually less seeking of attention than I obviously was when she had so little time to spend with me.

I’ve had a long journey to come to terms with this fact, to understand that a long time ago my Mum, too had to put her little girl away and be a strong adult before she was really grown up. There just wasn’t anyone there to be with her at lonely moments, my Grandmother had to go out to work, it was during the depression in Australia following the First World War, and my Grandfather had passed away when my Mum was only 7. My Grandmother would leave my mother alone in the mornings and at night, she had to get herself dinner, and get up in the mornings, long after Nana had left to clean offices, get herself dressed and off school.

Often Mum played hooky and when she was in class if she wasn’t being abused by the Nun’s she was being pulled out of classes to clean the chapel. Mum developed cleaning issues, I can still remember feeling very stressed and anxious when the vacuum would come out and when things fell into mess or chaos she may fly off the handle at home. I got to be hypervigilant for the flaring nostrils which were a sign of her displeasure. Things may fly across the room including hairbrushes.

Recently my therapist said to me that perhaps for my Mum I represented chaos, a chaos that she needed to control. This left me with scars that have taken a long time to come to awareness within me. Inside me I still feel today the part of me that is very young but also very wise and loving, I have fear around expressing that young self, and I have needed to learn how to parent her on a better way than either I or my own mother was parented.

I am aware today of the many times I turned against that true self in me and kept her in prison in all kinds of ways. Yesterday’s reconnection with this part of me that I shared about wasn’t the first time I had connected with her so deeply but it was a very powerful connection.

As I write this blog I feel the child where she is living inside my body, I feel her hunger for life, the trapped energy that wants to release and dance and tell the truth but at times still can be judged within me for being too out of control. I think one of the things alcohol did for me was enable me to live out this part of myself and release the inhibitions and insecurities I carried, but unfortunately I had repressed so many other young, raw feelings, it also unleashed those too, but not in a way by which I could become aware.

I remember once years ago at the local dance club I used to frequent in my twenties making a really good friend who saw this child part of me as the most essential part of me. As I grew up I learned to be serious, to adapt and to hide this part of me that was so full of need, so full of love, so full of life. I learned to be ashamed of her and that strikes me as so very awful.

I’m feeling a huge outflow of sadness this morning but it’s a good kind of sadness and gratitude for the way that earlier blog connected for others. In the blogging world I guess 7 likes aren’t huge. And it’s not so much the likes but the sense that I have touched others and then their response has touched me deeply too, that a part of me was recognised and connected for others.

So this in one way is a post of gratitude as an outpouring of the happiness and positive emotion I feel for the responses that came back. Thank you for sharing your comments.  They mean the world to me.   A big hug to everyone out there in cyberspace who got it and supported my post with reblogs and who continue to inspire with their own writing and expression.

Feeling like I dont belong may be the price of belonging to myself.

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For a long time in my life, although I was not aware of it, I was wandering the world hoping for understanding and comfort.  As the youngest I felt very much like an observer and an outsider in my family.  There are huge age gaps between me and my oldest siblings and so in some ways living in my family was like being an only child.

I wrote in an earlier blog about finding a cache of letters written during the year I was four which outline the context of our family life.  What came across were two parents who were very involved in their own life and little involved in mine.  A conversation with my mother midweek revealed little memory, on her behalf of this time, only the observation that I was a “difficult child”.  It wasn’t only me who was difficult, the dog was difficult too.  What I am beginning to see is that we were probably both really bored and so, as lively beings do, we began to get up to mischief.

Its interesting as it has been coming into my mind this week that I need to write some blogs on the family scapegoat.   I am actually intrigued by the concept of the scapegoat and felt so grateful to come across the most wonderful book on the subject by a Jungian analyst Syvlia Bretton Perrera around the time my marriage ended.

The fact was that I became a scapegoat target for my husband’s family and eventually, towards the ending of my marriage when I was trying to bust out of my false self and reclaim my true self, an alignment took place between my husband and my mother who seemed determined to keep me in lock down by scapegoating me further. I wish I could say, that at that time, I was strong enough to break out, but I wasn’t.

If you have spent a life time being told that who you are, isn’t who you are, that what you feel isn’t what you feel, its not so easy to break free.  In my case I needed others around me who actually saw who I was and the person I was struggling to be, that got buried so many years earlier.  I also needed to be part of a group of others who were determined to bust through facades and come clean about the true reality of their deeper selves, all the ways in which they had put on fronts, consciously or unconsciously to hide the secret of who they were.


If you have spent years locked in an addiction, as I had and then get into recovery the point is this : that the false self has to crack.  As I recovered and reviewed my history it became clear to me that my addiction began to escalate around the time I was forced to follow a career of my father’s choosing, rather than pursue the one was dear to my heart. Along that path part of me went into a deep freeze.

I looked to substances and other outside sources of soothing and comfort that would help me to unfreeze and liberate some of the buried energy I had locked down deep inside.  At my Saturn return the pain of the distance between my true and false selves began to squeeze and cause me a great deal of pain.

Prior to finding recovery and dealing with my addiction I make a conscious effort to make a move away from what was imprisoning me.  Thus began a journey that led me to recovery and along the way as things began to thaw I had to navigate some fairly powerful emotions.  Emotions that most certainly were not acceptable to my spouse or my family.

In her book Perrera makes the point that the scapegoat carries, for the collective of which it is a part, energies that have been placed in the shadow and are so necessary for wholeness.  Rather than accepted these energies are exiled to wilderness, that wilderness may lead the scapegoat to the acting out of addiction.  While engaged in the addiction the scapegoat is expressing the pain of their entrapment and exile.  Once consciously navigated this pain can act as the motivation for spell breaking, for finding ways to explore and release the repressed and trapped energies which so long ago were exiled, but only to the degree that we reach an understanding of the role we have had to take on, of necessity.

Its interesting to me that as a child I was expressive, strong, outspoken and emotional.  By the time I was an adolescent I had turned into someone who was awkward, insecure, shy and uncertain.   It is obvious to me now that I became that way as my true self was never mirrored by the collective of which I was a part.

The exception to that was my eldest sister.  A scapegoat herself, she saw me, she got me, but unfortunately she had a cerebral bleed when I was 18.  Perhaps the powerful underground message that I absorbed from this tragedy was that it was dangerous to be strong, to be independent, to be expressive and to try to break free.  Indeed my sister moved away from home when I was only 3.  She returned when I was 17 and things rapidly fell apart.  The consequences of her trauma causing rifts in a family which was set to undergo it own transformative splintering.

In the end my sister suffered exile to a home, where most members of my family had little contact with her.  I was lucky enough to witness the entire collapse, her attempt to take her life and then diagnosis and drugging that followed and kept her trapped in that role.  I am sorry to say that I was “lucky” enough, but I was having this conversation yesterday with a close friend, who is himself the youngest in a large family about the gifts of being the younger.  We get to witness and learn a lot.  In my case, being an outsider came with gifts.  And I made the choice not to have children and have them carry my own pain before I could process it and become conscious of it.

At times in different groups I have been aware that I have taken on a scapegoat role, being exiled or thrown out of the group, due to the fact I was suffering emotionally.  As an active addict I was an easy target for others scapegoat projections.  What was so important for me during the course of my recovery was to break my own identification with both scapegoat and victim.  I have just been re-reading Eckhardt Tolle’s power of now and in it he makes the following comment:

There is a great deal of unconscious ego investment in pain and suffering.

I had a bit of an ah-ha moment when I read that comment.  My exile is only painful to me when I identify being part of the group as a cherished ideal.  In truth, though at times it can be lonely, not feeling apart of things brings a far greater freedom.  Its amazing how the unconscious process we undergo also brings insights at certain moments, from deep within when we have been elaborating on certain truths.

Last night I had powerful dream that the group of which I have been a part for some years, told me that I was no longer welcome there. “You are just too outspoken” they said.  I walked away feeling there was nothing I could do, that I most certainly did not belong, that who I was in my deepest self had been rejected and that I was now on my own.

On waking I was aware of a very powerful underground grief and a dull headache.  Over the day it has passed.  I am not totally sure what to make of this dream but it was no surprise when I looked into the ephemeris to see that the Sun had passed into 00 degress Leo today and that I was undergoing my annual solar opposition to Mars Saturn Moon in Aquarius.

Yesterday following a conversation with one of the leaders of this group I had a knot of pain in my stomach telling me that what had occured during our conversation was all about invalidation.  I had been aware of this before and not honoured my true feelings.

Deep in the twelfth house the Sun is transiting.  Energy has been low, but I am feeling the rumblings of that slumbering Lion.  Currently Venus and Mercury are behind the Sun and we are heading in a few days towards the dark of the Moon prior to the annual Leo New Moon.

Maybe the Lion roars too loudly at times, but what if its trapped cries have been imprisoned for ages.  The thorn in its paw hurts and it may be taking some time for it to heal.  Still I am glad of the Leo/Lion energy and find a great primal beauty in it.  It appears to me such an antidote to the loaded Aquarian energies of my own chart.  With my Sun’s ruler Uranus in the sign of the Lion and in the first house opposing the seventh, was I ever really going to feel like I belonged in the group?

In a conversation with my Mum last week she said “You never wanted to do what everyone else wanted to do”.  What I do remember is that at times there were very painful things going on, I just energetically did not want to be a part of.  It occurs to me that over later years I pretended that I did and even came to believe there was something wrong with me for feeling this way.

Apparently this is not an unusual situation for empaths.  Sadly in the past, the price of being outcast just seemed too expensive to pay.  I am beginning to realise now that maybe at times, its better to be able to be alone in that and be real, rather than pretend and loose my self, my way and my authentic voice and feelings.  If others like it or lump it is that really my business?  As I continue on this ongoing journey that is my life I pray for the strength and courage to be true to me. And to find the power and strength in times of aloneness.


Chrysalis…emergence from the pain of the lost (true) self


Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood. Is it possible to free ourselves altogether from illusions?  History demonstrates that they sneak in everywhere, that every life is full of them – perhaps because the truth is so essential that its loss exacts a heavy toll, in the form of grave illness.  In order to become whole we must try, in a long process, to discover our own personal truth, a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom.  If we choose instead to content ourselves with intellectual ‘wisdom‘, we will remain in the sphere of illusion and self deception. 

The Drama of Being a Child

Alice Miller

My name is Deborah..  For many years I was lost,  the bridge between myself and others was shattered by events in my history and in my family, but even before those events I wandered with a sense of deep aloneness in my soul, restless and seeking.  From an early age it seemed I watched from the sidelines and saw further and deeper into things, but there was no place of affirmation and so very early on I began to use a journal to write and find an avenue of expression for my soul.

At the same time I experienced much confusion due to the neglect and emotional abandonment of my parents.  These wounds were all invisible and would take a long time to bring to light, since I was provided for physically, however the emotional connection was absent and as my family of much older siblings began to break apart I suffered a deep sense of growing disconnection and dissociation, which I have come to understand through therapy and inner work on my emotional recovery are core symptoms of Complex PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

At the age of 17  I suffered a massive motor vehicle trauma.  My left femur was shattered, my ulnar bone and ribs were broken leading to a punctured lung and I was trapped in a crushed car while rescue workers and paramedics worked to free me.   It was a painful and frightening experience, that left deep imprints on my soul.  I was placed in skeletal traction after being operated on and spent the final semester of my schooling in hospital.

Six months following this my eldest sister lay down on the floor after weeks of headaches and a blood vessel burst in her brain, she entered a coma and hovered there for some time. Following this other painful events followed.  Our family began to shatter which led to more broken attachments.

Several years later my father was diagnosed with cancer and died within six weeks.   By the age of 23 I was certainly suffering from as then undiagnosed and untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and attempting to medicate that with alcohol. And life was due to spiral even more out of control over the next 8 years as all the complex emotions surrounding these experiences and from my lonely childhood were more deeply buried in my body.

Immediately following my father’s death my partner of the time decided it was all to hard to cope with and met someone else.  In truth I now see he had never really loved me.  Throughout the entire relationship he would refer to his ex girlfriend who was the love of his life.  Our relationship was not real, it was based on illusion, he was a dope addict and we were both using drugs addictively for some time.  Our entire relationship was based around getting high.  At the age of 23 I was in a fog and suffering from psychic blindness.  In that relationship I had my first two terminations of pregnancy.  Emotionally unnurtured and immature I knew on some level I would not be able to give a child what it most needed.

Our plans to meet overseas and travel were cancelled in a 4 am phone call.  The deep psychic suffering I was in and the grief, all of which I could not feel or share with my family I drowned down with alcohol.  One month following my father’s death, pushed away by my mother, scared and confused I travelled alone to England, and worked and travelled through Europe.

Intimate relationships were fraught with difficulty all during those years.  I had weak boundaries to non existent boundaries, was highly sensitive and receptive emotionally and energetically and had next to no emotional insight into myself.  Due to my history with my parents and siblings, I had the pattern of attracting partners who would abandon me and were emotionally illiterate (suffering what I now know is as Alexithymia – a difficulty naming and processing emotions), shut down or absent as I was to my inner self.  In truth, I too found it impossible to sustain emotional intimacy.  During that entire time I was cast out on so many occasions by people who did not understand the deep inner pain my addiction hid.

Bizzarely fate brought me into contact with my ex in Greece during that time and due to my lack of self care and boundaries I allowed him to use me for sex further and then abandon me when he found someone more together emotionally than I was.  Sad as it is to say.  I really believed on some level I did deserve this kind of treatment.  I should have had a sense of outrage for myself.  But due to the pain of my past I had not learned about psychic boundaries.  Because I was not respected, I learned not to respect myself and so promiscuity, tied with alcohol all became part of the picture.  I was an open target for predators, due to the pain of my past and the lack of value that was shown towards my deepest feelings and needs and towards the sanctity of my body in childhood.

The list of invasions to my psychic and physical boundaries I could list here.  Having my personal journals read and then being mocked or diminished for the feelings, having my arm pulled out of my socket by being swung around, being tickled past the point of distress and pain and having my cries to stop unacknowledged, having my foot burned due to my mother leaving a bucket of boiling water under it in one of her cleaning frenzies on a caravanning holiday.  Having a fishhook stuck in my big toe that was left on the floor.  Being told you really are a clumsy child, just too sensitive, such a drama queen.   These are just some of what is abuse but took me years to recognise as abuse.

I will not go further into the details of the next painful 9 years suffice to say that at 31 I turned up at an AA meeting and finally found the key and modicum of self respect and care for myself to put down substances.  And so my journey to recover and heal myself began.  It took 10 more years and the ending of my marriage to discover my co-dependency, which lay at the core of my addiction.  To begin the recovery of what Charles Whitfield and others have called the real or True Self, from within the prison of the false self, well that would take 20 years and is still ongoing.  It has been a massive work which led me to breakdown and the dark night of the soul about which I am writing here.

I now see that all these experiences forced me inward to develop the most important relationship, the one with myself.  However nurturing empathetic relationships with others who understood were very important.  The problem was, due to my history I was not likely to attract these.

I have learned, the nature of our relationships is always a product of the nature of the relationship we have with ourselves and that relationship is so strongly influenced by the one we have with our parents and by the nature and quality most early significant attachments. Also if we do not learn to develop a relationship with our deepest feelings and needs and learn to act on behalf of them we end up with a deep problem which can and does lead to illness.  For me the feelings that I could not express began to be experienced somatically.  At the age of 31 I sought help for my addiction through Alcoholics Anonymous, a great river of sadness that I had been holding began to break open but new problems came with developing the power to express and feel my own truth.

In my quest for healing and in order to attempt to build a bridge with my then husband’s family we moved over to the UK from Australia.  I moved  away from those rooms of AA because it felt that on some level I was questioning things that just did not gel.  It seemed I was being blamed for being an addict and being told it was a life sentence when really the addiction was an avenue I took due to my difficulty with honoring and expressing feelings.  That I had developed this difficulty was not my fault, it was a result of my history. It was in the UK that I embarked on my second attempt at therapy.  An attempt which sadly was aborted due to fear and the deep psychic calling I felt to return to my father’s house by the sea which was the place the represented to me the smash up of those Plutonian years 1978-1986 and offered me a place of rest and healing that I needed.

In truth I needed to be alone with my soul.  So in 2001 feeling great sadness and ambivalence we returned, I aborted therapy and eventually my marriage of 11 years fell apart.  There as Neptune began its slow passage over all of my personal planets I entered the dark night.  Three years later fate bought to me the last painful relationship which was the final attempt to be heard by someone else and the most essential learning of my life.  That until I could love for, care and nurture me, no one else was going to do it.

I have learned that the most important need of the child is to be mirrored and affirmed for her true self.  To have his or her feelings and needs reflected back and made sense of.  This was not possible for my parents, due to their own issues.  I was taught early on to deny pain, that injuries should not hurt and there were many injuries, especially physical ones that have only come to awareness in later years.  At times I was laughed at when I was injured, sent to my room when I tried to express anger, or had my boundaries invaded in ways which, as a young child I was not aware of.

So much of what we experience in childhood remains inside us, not as a memory, especially the earliest experience, but as a deep psychic and sensory energy or vibration that is just felt.  Before we develop and fully formed ego, and that depends on the ability of our parents to adequately mirror us, we are just immersed in a sea of sensations.  Assaults on our person are stored in the body.  The work of Peter Levine into trauma shows that imprints of traumas stay in the body as a psychic imprint and then later try to work their way out.

I think it was Freud who gave the name repitiition compulsion to this process.  Alice Miller talks about it in many of her books, but most especially The Drama of Being a Child, from which I have quoted at the beginning of this article.

For me the path of grief and loss due to the loss of relationship with myself  led into the dark night of addiction and then to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and then out again in a quest for a deeper understanding than I could find there.  I was not a defective character, my soul was in mourning for the loss of myself and I never learned to separate who I was from others because I was so sensitive and receptive. I had never been taught the skills to care for, nourish and protect myself.  I had an open heart and also a hunger to receive the love that it was hard for my parents to show me.

When the traumas of my early adolescence hit, I had no resources to deal with them and so I began to turn to alcohol to numb my feelings: a practice that was encouraged by my father and elder sister, who sought a drinking buddy.    In the absence of support in the face of these traumas, also I learned to deny them and bury the pain inside… But what was buried had to emerge and it took many years of recovery for that process to begin to unfold and unravel, a process that is still ongoing today as I learn how to nurture myself and care for my spirit in nourishing ways.

Broken attachments underlie addictions.  Broken or insecure and inconsistent attachments leave us traumatised and alone and very confused and insecure when relating.  They lead us to isolate or seek other avenues to alleviate the distress.  When the bridge inward to our heart and feelings, to our deepest core nature is blocked, we suffer and this suffering takes the form of an unconscious longing and grief.  Charles Whitfield, John Bradshaw and Alice Miller write that it is only through developing the capacity to do our grief work, to mourn for what was lost that we recover and find our way home to our true self.  It is only in understanding our history and its impact that we come home.  For, from out of the depths of aloneness and through the recognition of our deepest suffering we pay the coin to the ferryman which will take us across the dark ocean to the distant beautiful shore of sunlight, grace and love which is our true home.

For a long time I wandered, seeking the way back to my heart and my home.  In the Divine Comedy Dante writes.

In the middle of my life I found myself in a deep dark wood.

That is where I found myself in midlife.   There was fog all around. It has been a long, long,  journey to find a path through that tangled wood, to understand the nature of and mend my fractures, a journey with many twists and turns which led at times to the re-traumatisation of unconscious injuries which rose up in order to make more clear the nature of the initial trauma.  It has been a journey that has taken me  through deep ravines of pain and suffering and periods of extreme isolation and aloneness within which I was trying to develop a new relationship with myself.  Such a journey is not uncommon in midlife, when the deep needs and scars of the soul can rise up and ask of us a finding of a new way to express and free our trapped spirits.

Slowly I am finding my way home to myself.  When I feel the truth inside my body I am home.  When I feel the tears flow.  When I can feel great joy and revel in my darling puppy’s excitement and play without censoring.  When I can laugh and sing and dance and feel the vast awesomeness of a dappled sunset I know I am coming alive and finally emerging from my chrysalis and the dark night experience of my soul to be fully awake and alive on this amazing planet which is earth.

My journey through the dark has led me to deep aloneness and through my ability to remain in that to a deeper feeling of connection with the earth and the collective of which I am a part.  Some degree of aloneness I do feel is essential to birth ourselves as individuals.  Paradoxically the more deep my capacity for solitude the more deep my capacity for intimacy is.  I need periods of rest and quiet contemplation to feel my connection with my feelings and with life.  For me without that ability to be with and see into me (intimacy) I am lost to myself and to others.  With it and through it I am connected to humanity and to life.

To begin to learn that I had a right to live my own life and be me, well that is the biggest lesson of all.  Sometimes in order to grow I may have to leave behind that which no longer serves me.  This isn’t selfishness.  It is a sign of self respect.  And the deeper truth is that is it in learning to love and care for ourselves that we learn to love and care for others.