How trauma and PTSD disrupts relationships

I happened upon an excellent blog for trauma survivors today. I have linked to a post from it in my previous blog post, but the following with resonate for trauma survivors like me who have struggle in their relationships. I identified with most of this comprehensive post.

http://www.new-synapse.com/aps/wordpress/?p=741

Venus as Goddess of Love and War

We would not traditionally think of the planet Venus as a Goddess of War, when everything seems to associate the planet and archetypal energy of Venus with love and relationships, but what happens to our love in the face of enormous frustrations and thwarting and obstacles, what does it turn into and how does the soul cope without destroying itself?  Burning itself up in the fires of its own frustrated desires?  Do we just drop the desire and resign ourselves to the fact that what we longed for ‘was never meant to be?’ and give up or judge ourselves for trying and/or desiring?    Or do we keep holding on and persevering (recognising life and love are never purely ideal or romantic at times) and dig even deeper for love within?

It was actually the Mesoamericans (Aztec and Maya) who understood the dual aspect of this Goddess/archetype and recognised that during the retrograde movement of Venus (which occurs once every two years in different zodiac signs) Venus is swallowed by the Sun when it becomes evening star during the first three weeks of the retrograde.  Three weeks into the retrograde Venus then appears from the Underworld at its heliacal rising (when Venus moves back to meet the Sun in conjunction at a certain degree – this occurs today in the current retrograde) appearing in the psyche potentially as the Goddess of War not love after its summoning up of underworld ghosts or memories or energies.

The Aztecs and Maya made sacrifices at the heliacal rising  and they believed vindictiveness was generated from the underground sojourn, so it is that critical events can occur at the time of the inferior conjunction which show us how the shadow of love and relationship patterns may haunt us still in current times, at least this has been my experience most particularly in this last retrograde conjunction which squares exactly my natal Saturn.

In Erin Sullivan’s own word during the entire retrograde

it is a time to contemplate what one’s deepest, most personal, creative needs are and from what wellspring those needs originate.  It is a time to explore one’s own needs for love and nourishment and to examine one’s capacity to receive both of those life sustaining forces.

The mysterious ideal can interrupt and tear apart what one has found to be loving and nurturing – flaws and faults in others can become enhanced, and one might see all the dangers of intimacy, rather than the supportive aspects of it.  The call to war after the inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun might bring forth the dead, and one may be recalled to times in the past when rejection and emotional pain conspired to erect an emotional fortress which for current circumstances might be quite inappropriate.  Ultimately, it will depend upon the degree of responsibility that one assumes for one’s own lovingness and the capacity for commitment that will correct the situation, allowing for necessary changes.

Astrologer Melanie Reinhardt has expressed it another way. During the later part of Venus retrograde we are challenged to, in her words, “keep our heart open in hell!”  Are we prepared to allow love to be the final answer, even when frustration or thwarting or rejection reminds us of all the other times where love was taken from us, or we were challenged or disappointed or hurt deeply in some way?   And can we go through the devastating grief process that may be reawakened at the inferior conjunction and dig deep enough to sit with our own wounded self, summoning up the Goddess of Love from deep within our souls, even if from a supra personal force in the collective unconscious?

Today I woke up with the realisation that love, at least to my mind, is state of being.  It is not something we acquire from out there, if only others would love us enough, – at least later in life.   (That said in childhood having empathy, encouragement, emotional support and kindness as well as mirroring shown to us does help us to know and love ourselves more and when such things are missing its a long journey of trying to understand or repair or compensate in some way for what was originally lost the way to.)

But in the end (if many outside sources betray us) it is ultimately our inner self who can offer the missing love to this wounded self first, and then seek for those also capable of this kind of love.  Whether or not we find it out there (and yes, it is going to hurt like hell when we don’t) the least we can do is show kindness to the wound even if we initially are taken down to levels of anger and rage at the missing of what was so longed for or needed.  In the end the existance of love depends upon the attitude we take to our sojourn and return from a personal Underworld.

I remember your touch

One of the aspects of aging and perhaps too, of having more time on your hands is to be drawn back by memories of youth and of the moments that shaped your younger life.

Today when I was having one of the body attacks that I have in which my trauma seems to be trying to push its way to the surface of my consciousness I was aware of the longing of my body for the deep sexual connection with an intimate partner and how this healthy, totally natural impulse and aspect of human experiencing was denied to me as a result of a Catholic education in which I was taught not to love and value my female body but to fear and despise it.

I never had a sexual relationship with my first boyfriend, Robert.  I longed for it but I feared it as well.  The truth I now know was that I had come to believe from my upbringing that I was not loveable and I was also carrying an anger around my parents being emotionally unavailable that played out for me in many close relationships with men.  I also feared the exposing of my self and by body in an act of pure vulnerability which is the sexual act, that I may be looked on with revulsion or that I may not be adequate to the task, that my lack of self esteem would be all too obvious.

This is so sad for me and there is much, much more to this aspect of my story that I don’t have the time or energy to go into today but suffice to say it has left a scar.  Every single relationships ended in being left and reminded me of my all too deep inadequacy and the inadequacy of my partners to meet me with truth understanding and  compassion.

I was remembering today my partners touch.  I was drawn back to that moment at age 17 when the possibility of reaching through to  deeper sexual intimacy was offered and of the fear I felt and the need to pull back.  I was reminded of how close on the heels of this experience came my motor vehicle accident which led to being torn out of school and that critical time of adolescent transition which was the ending of school, the embarking on adulthood, of how I was taken away and confined to a hospital bed.

And the next year more trauma visited my family.

As I lay on the floor today, my body contorting with waves of pain which were also undulations of supressed life energy trying to find understanding and conscious expression for me I was back in that time in 1979 with Robert and my stomach lurched with grief and longing as I was aware of the many other times the opportunity to express love and connect was taken away.

In the end my journey has been to love myself for only from that point of self acceptance, self knowledge and understanding can I show love for any other.  My defences held me back, but they were, at the time, I felt necessary protections, ones I now long to shed.

The painful journey home

You came to my door

With hungry eyes

And stories of sorrow

Of love gone wrong

She did me wrong

I felt the pain

When you spoke of her psychosis

I just did not know then

The part you played

You wanted a place

To cast the blame

Outside yourself

While I was more interested

In asking the question

Why?

For you this was an affront

To your sense of being right

The heater exploded

In the middle of our kiss

A storm started to brew

That flung us wide apart

When I felt something

Dark and hard in your heart

I had the urge

While on that beach

To run so far away

To swim quickly out of the realm

Of your fisher’s hook

You sucked the goodness out of her

Then hung her out to dry

I sensed it

Why didn’t I keep running?

I should have listened to my gut

But my longing was stronger

Swirling with the

As yet

Unknown knowing

I fell and hit my head

The first of many falls

It took me years to know

What from my history

Made this imprinted lure

So magnetic

I had my own longing

My own deeply

Unresolved hunger

Ours was a journey I had to travel

Every step of the way

Over the broken eggshells

Of your projected pain

In order to learn

Essential lessons of self love

Loneliness has taught me

That even though painful

The price of being myself

Is not too much to pay

Feeling safe to be me

Even in all the dark melancholy

Is the cosiest place

One I could never find

The way back to

Through centuries of wandering

The truth is

The deeper I go

Into the grief

You so despised

The more fully

I come home to myself

And feel the beauty

And integrity

And love of this place

That no one

Can ever take away again

Things may not be as they seem

After spending much of an overcast foggy winter day in PJs writing a very long complicated blog about past things I had a moment of thinking like this.  Things might not be as they seem.   The stories I am telling myself about what happened are probably biased from my side.  For I can’t really always see into your soul and know what is going on, what effect I am having.  I need to talk to you to find out how it was for you.  I need to ask a lot of questions, and as I type this I am reminded of how questions at times really annoy me as I just would  love the other person to get it.

Truth is sometimes I will just get another person.  It happens naturally, it flows, there are not a lot of hard edges in our inter actions it could be said “we are on the same wavelength”.  These days I think it may be important to accept that its okay that you don’t get what I am on about as long as I feel understood by myself I can be happy.  I may or may not understand you and that will happen or not happen as it does.

How to survive when people tell you you have got it wrong?  Just accept that is their version of events and you may have something to learn.  But still you will question as you interpreted it in one way and they saw it from another perspective.  Sometimes we meet and sometimes we don’t meet.  Sometimes we agree and disagree. Sometimes we agree to disagree.

The problem, to long for something that is not there.  To think that just because you aren’t suited to one other person there is something wrong with you because they were so invested in you conforming to their version of you it got too painful and you had to change to suit them and ended up in an ill fitting suit with too short legs and too tight crotch.  It may just not be right with that person.  Why stay in a place were it is always so much hard work?  Why not just let go?  These are questions I am asking myself lately.  Having just written a long blog about the pain of past relationships in terms of not being met, truly loved or understood, what was it in me that kept holding onto that which hurt, longing for it to be difficult?  That now seems to me insane.

Am I waking up?  It seems the wool is being pulled away from my eyes.  I am seeing all the struggle I engaged with in hopes of being loved, all of my lack of self acceptance, all of my putting up with what was wrong not to be alone and so feeling more alone than ever.  What would happen if I had just accepted it was as it was I was as I needed to be and so were they.  That I needed to be alone and maybe I thought I didn’t but actually I did as that is the way it rolled.  In fighting it I made it worse, in accepting it, I found peace.  That being introverted and alone was not a sign of something wrong with me but was in fact a soul necessity for me.

The other day I had this conversation with my Mum, no hang on was it a conversation?  She said “I think the thing that is wrong with you is that you spend so much time alone.”  I challenged her.  “Mum,” I said.  “I actually enjoy having time alone and to myself, I am a deep thinker and at times I am introverted, that style of being nourishes me, but I seem to have been given consistent messages that it is a sign of something wrong, I don’t think it is.  Its part of who I am.”

Not a lot else was said and I felt clear and strong.  Having this dialogue which wasn’t really a dialogue but a monologue (of necessity) felt good.

I guess I am beginning to see where the inner voice comes from that is incessantly correcting me and trying to make me into something or someone else is coming from.  I am beginning to feel that nothing was wrong and that my idea of things being wrong was in fact a misinterpretation bestowed upon me by someone else who did not know but got a sense of power from thinking they knew.

In the end I think its far better to question others than to speak to them as if you know all the answers.  How much lovelier to live in questions, to keep questioning, rather than to feel I must know all the answers most especially for everyone else. Truth is I don’t and even that truth is open to doubt.  So for now I’ll take comfort from staying loose while feeling stronger about knowing accepting and loving myself as I am.

Setting Fire to the Soul

Don’t say a word

But just come over and lie here with me

Cause I’m just about to

Set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad

I go back on the things I believe

There I just said it

I’m scared you’ll forget about me.  

I fall in love with songs, not just the words but the entire soundscape wave melody undulating inward gripping soul engaging power of another’s emotional territory put into words which echoes my own experience, past or present.

I am deeply enthralled at the moment with this lyric and the soul of John Mayer’s song Edge of Desire, most especially the line “I want you so bad I go back on the things I believe”…..echoing a strong theme my tangled Venus square Neptune ruling Pisces in the 7th house of relationships.

Born into a much older family already well established when I arrived, by accident in the early 60s I learned to observe and orient myself around others but also felt a deep disconnect.  There were not many safe places to go, to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, to be nurtured, everyone was so busy working and my sister and I got left alone.  She took her frustrations out on me at times, probably feeling frustrated at having to look after her younger sister who was full of energy and fire.  I had a wild, expressive streak.

Anyway this theme of confusion and pain in relationships, of trying to connect and yet not quiet being able to manage it, of bringing to relationships a powerful backlog of unexpressed needs, difficulties and issues was highlighted yesterday when I caught up with a very old friend.

Quite a long time ago the man she loved chose not to follow her when she decided to return to her home town.  They had both been living and working away and the relationship had hit problems, he was shutting down, not communicating and the tensions between their two very different ways of being introverted (him) and extroverted (her) were beginning to develop a void too dark to cross. I think also from what I can gather her partner had suffered, was suffering depression, or was it just a deep introversion?

Initially he said he wouldn’t make the move but later he changed his mind, just after she got used to the idea that she would be facing a move and a new life alone.  Turns out a few months later he changed his mind and said he would be taking a job in a far away town instead of moving to be with her, but could he keep calling her every Tuesday? Needless to say she drew a boundary saying it was over, angry at being messed around and deeply confused by his behaviour.

Whenever she would relate this story to me in the past, I empathised with her but I also empathised with her partner and his need for introversion, whilst feeling how frustrating it was for her.  Her needs were obviously different and she did not know how to meet him in his dark spaces.  I have had a similar experience in being depressed (deeply introverted) with a partner who did not want to understand, called me agoraphobic and was hostile towards sadness, confusion and pain.

Fast forward to 12 years later after much confusion and heartbreak a mutual friend who introduced them had a stroke and my friend knew her past lover may be unlikely to find out in any other way. Through another mutual friend she got in touch to let him know.  He asked to meet her for a coffee. What followed was a dramatic outpouring of grief and regret on his behalf as well as declarations of all the plans he had lately been making (unbeknownst to her) centred around being with her. Although they had been apart for over 12 years she had been constantly in his mind.  This was confusing to her.  How could he now profess all this, her idea of what was reality for him, was not hers?  Although I know she had been secretly hoping for this for many years.

Additionally he revealed that over the past few years he had been prospecting and he laid out before her some jewels to select he wanted to get made into jewellery for her.  At this point I started crying.  It all struck me as so very human and deeply sad, the tangled vagaries of the human heart. All the fears, tears, confusion and defences dismantling.  Tangled hopes, dreams, disappointment, frustration and thwarted desire thrown into the mix.

The telling of the entire story went for well over 40 minutes and I while it was going on I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. It was not only the emergence of the buried emotion that he had not allowed to express before that resonated for me but also the deep confusion she was experiencing in the face of long ago given up hopes being re-awakened and questions around his state of emotional health.

My friend is currently in a really secure and relatively happy position, but the return of this person to her life has now upset the apple cart.  Which way should she turn?  Should she hold out hope?  Could he be trusted?  So many questions and underneath it all a tender heart.

Her dilemma really got me to thinking about my own push pull dynamics in relationships in the past, push pulls dynamics evoked by extreme outbursts of emotion on both sides and in response too to lack of empathy shown at critical times by past partners.

In my own life the prospect of hoping to be loved again has at times opened up deep, powerful and complex emotions, emotions that would flood the landscape often triggered by some perceived abandonment or lack of attention or misunderstanding, emotions that were difficult to regulate and articulate.  These would cause confusion for others and sometimes the severing of ties.  I have also been on the receiving end of the same.

At many times in my life I have been exiled or made to feel bad for expressing very real, raw human emotion.  As a person who developed addictions as a way of coping with a lack of emotional understanding and support, it took a long time in sobriety to sort out all that had been  suppressed and so lay unmatured deep within my psyche.  Only relationship could bring those wounds to the surface in order to feel, to heal, to become aware and to grow.

Over the past few years I have begun to realise how difficult and confusing my own emotions and those of others in response have been especially where there is minimal awareness of the history of past pain carried.  I carried a huge backlog of emotions and then 7 years ago I entered into a relationship with someone who was carrying a huge backlog of their own.  Sadly they were invested in not exploring any pain, only projecting it, so I was made to carry the burden of being the one “with the problem”.  The realisation of all of this has made me very wary of relationships.  The fact is I have opened my heart and been bruised again, but the bruising had a gift and lesson within it.  It was the fuel for understanding.

After having lunch with my friend today and contemplating the echoes and synchronicities I went to visit my Mum. Despite all challenges we have had over years I am still in a process of trying to meet, engage with my Mum and find some understanding.  Over the past few months it seems Mum has had an interest in reaching out and exploring the hurts between us. I have been taking the risk of opening up about hurts and we have been talking about past issues : anger, frustration, thwarted need, miscommunication and difficulty with empathy.

Today she opened up to me about the impact my addiction had upon her in the years following my father’s death when I was 23. At this stage I was yet to find sobriety and I had a back ground of much emotional hurt, betrayal and abandonment.

Some of the background which I have shared about here online in the past was that at 23 I was already struggling in a pretty dysfunctional relationship in which I had fallen pregnant twice, two pregnancies which I had decided to terminate due to the fact that my then partner had addiction issues and I was aware the ground that I was standing on was precarious, unstable and could easily give way, no where enough support to bring in another life dependent on us.

As more background my then partner had been in love deeply before meeting me and his past girlfriend left him as her parents did not think he was good enough….according to them he came from the wrong side of the tracks. (And he was a fairly frequent dope smoker.)

Throughout the relationship I was aware things were off but I didn’t have the strong sense of self that would allow me to leave, the emotional vacancy of my own childhood had left me vulnerable, emotionally illiterate and oh so hungry.

My ex ended up abandoning me twice.  We had made plans to travel overseas.  I had been working two jobs for a year to save the money.  He left before me.  I was to meet him.  Around this time my father was diagnosed with operable stomach cancer.  He died within two months. I had to delay my departure.  A few days after his death I received a 4 am phone call.  It was my boyfriend.   “I don’t love you, please don’t come,” he said,  “I’ve met someone else”.

I was devastated.   Part of me broken.  I did not feel prepared to make a trip which now had to be altered.  I would be alone.  I faltered as I packed my bags crying.  “You must go”, Mum said.  “Dad would not have wanted you to change your plans.”  And so I went and found comfort in a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

I spent some months in London, living and working.  Later in 1985 in Greece while changing money at the American Express office I saw my ex again.  He drew me in (or my fear of being alone did?).  I allowed the hope of being together again.  I opened up the door to my heart and slept with him turning my back on the truth of past patterns that showed so clearly he did not love me.  My own lack of self love and understanding hooked me in again..  Only a few weeks later after meeting with the friend I met today by accident in Greece we both went out to dinner, he did not come.  Later that night when I returned to our room I found him fucking a girl he had met that night (or was it the woman he had thrown me over for who suddenly reappeared out of nowhere that night? I was so traumatised I don’t remember).

I only remember the pain of him calling me a crazy bitch for having an angry emotional reaction to his callous treatment of me. But I was the fool, hungry and lonely enough to be with him, burying the knowledge of his treatment of me over years and all the hurts.

Following this for the next 6 months I was spinning all around over there in Europe, no stable base, travelling, drinking, working.  I found a job in Switzerland in 1986 and while there I fell pregnant to a man I adored on the first anniversary of my father’s death, but he was also in love with someone else.  I had the termination I spoke of in an earlier blog.

I remember Mum calling me in the midst of this and telling me to come home.  We have been discussing this today. She sensed something was up but I could not open up to my Mum, just buried it all for the next eight years.  She had confronted me and shamed me following my father’s death when after reading my journal she found out about the two earlier terminations, so  why would I have trusted her with this information.

All these memories are so strong at present as the Sun is passing through the deep emotional territory of Cancer, inching close to my Mum’s Pluto in Cancere which trines my Neptune in Scorpio (as transiting Neptune has turned retrograde in exact opposition to my own natal Pluto in the first).

At times I have felt that my mother did not care.  I have been so angry at having no place to go and angrier still that the angry outbursts were misunderstood. Today I know she cared but it was not expressed in a way I could make sense of. While she was trying to draw me close, I was pushing her away with anger and rage at not being responded to in the way that I needed.

According to her, my anger scared the living daylights out of her.  She could not feel through it to the deep longing for love that underlay those fits of passionate anger the hurt, wounded, tend, vulnerable underbelly of my Saturn Mars Moon. So many times I needed the loving arms of my Mum wrapped around me, but all the trauma in our family that went down from the age of 18 meant that attention energy and care was directed elsewhere.

I witnessed my eldest sister being discarded by her own husband and then trying to take her life. Lots of drugs and alcohol to try and numb the pain and then a few years later my father’s shock diagnosis with terminal cancer and his death six weeks later. So much trauma, no time to process it, to feel it through.

After my father died my Mum’s grief over her own loss was so all consuming it blinded her to the pain her youngest daughter was going through. Yes I turned up hung over reeking of alcohol after an all night  bender after returning from overseas in 1987. I spent 6 more agony years in the wilderness of addiction before finding enough self love to reach for sobriety.

Mum said today she felt she could not reach me, she did not know what to do.  I understand : we struggled to reach each other in the way we both needed and wanted.  I had withdrawn from her in self protection due to times of hurt when her concern was felt as an invasion, taking place in secret behind my back, reading my personal journals and poems and making hurtful comments or at least comments that showed a lack of understanding.

All this hurt that I have held deep inside is like a tangled knot of Gordian proportions and my pain expressed evokes not only my mother’s own pain but also her own wound her deep feelings of  inadequacy in knowing deep down the way she handled things was ineffective, left me bleeding more, vulnerable to more toxic relationships but could not be better due to her  own history.  Tears and hugs between us today signal a melting of old defences, a reaching across a deep chasm filled with pain, loss and trauma.

When my friend was telling me today about her lover’s tears and al the precious jewels laid out I found myself crying. I felt the pain he must have experienced somewhere that made him withdraw or to hold back and sabotage his chance of connection as well as the pain of loving but not being able to express it in a way it could be understood due to being held prisioner by depression which can create huge barriers and walls between people.

I thought of the times I hurt my past love by not being there to be supportive due to the fact that things he was going through evoked my own pain from past things that had never been fully processed, pain which then expressed by me brought anger and misjudgement and even the silent treatment from him.  Emotional cut off for days.

I question my own narcissism and self involvement due to the fact of having carried pain and I recognise the pain of my friend as the pain of past partners who felt alone when I was captured by deep pain of past hurts I was trying to feel, understand and heal..

Today I have a sense of the healing balm of Neptune being poured on the deep soul searing pain of that Pluto in the first of mine that forms and opposition to Chiron in the seventh house (so much early wounding in relationships) carried on and held deep inside as both touch that sore spot Mars Saturn Moon.

Such is my legacy of Mars Saturn Moon : the deep dark pain that is a bitter fruit that has healing hidden only in the recognition deep within my soul of what was its genesis : this being my ancestral karma/dharma: a life path not chosen (or was it?) that administers to my soul the necessary medicine that in hurting grows consciousness and wisdom through pain.

I think of the words of astrologer Liz Greene for Saturn Pluto(my Mars/Saturn/Moon aspects Pluto)

Wisdom through suffering…..Purification through the ordeal by fire. 

I have burned, awake at 4 am with seering nerve burn pain of post traumatic stress due to accidents I had while running to find healing.  And it seems to me that the fire that John Mayer wants to set alight in his song is the fire that he must know inwardly burns when we long for that which in hurting us most at the same time heals.  It seems to be that true soul knowing burns and in so doing reminds us of love, of what is most true, most essential to our soul.  For there is love at the heart of the flames and it takes love to suffer the burning, the burning that transforms ash to tarnished gold and purifies our spirit through anger, through longing, through frustration and even through despair.  To keep our heart open in midst of the flames that is the task so wisdom and love can grow through the pain, through the burning.

And yet the burning must also one day surely end and then is our initiation done?  We will have garnered the necessary wisdom to step aside from that which in burning hurts us.  It seems so much self knowledge is necessary for this to happen for those of us who have been raised in Neptunian confusion, where what hurts us is portrayed as something else, maybe even something we brought upon ourselves.  Until we are conscious we will not see our part in it, since it was due to earlier patterns laid down that only suffering could make us aware of, that suffering births within us compassion not only for our own pain but for the deeply unconscious pain of others, pain they did not have the strength and courage to face.

Kissing the broken places

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I tend to write a lot about feelings. I tend to read a lot about them too, probably a legacy of a childhood where what I felt wasn’t really mirrored and I did not have the tools or support to make sense of feelings.

My recovery from co-dependency and addiction has taught me that in order to be a whole human being, awake and alive in the moment it is so important for me to understand what my feelings and emotions are.  I see emotions as energy in motion and they are the energy that propels my spirit forward into life and expression, while at the same time being a guide into my inner truth and reality, giving me instinctive information about the environment and my current inward state.

Guidance often comes to me when I need it from a source, some others call that source a Higher Power or the Higher Self.  I call it intuition and Mercury is currently opposite my natal Uranus in the first which some say rules intuitive insight.  Yesterday as I was facing a major conflict that needed to be discussed with someone I was urged by my intuitive voice to read page 137 in a book called Addiction as an Attachment Disorder by Philip J. Flores.

The particular page was on attachment styles, specifically those outlined by psychologist Mary Ainsworth, expanding on the work of John Bowlby.  It outlined the four major types of attachment and spoke about the importance of protest as the child expresses his feelings to relation to the comings and goings and actions of the parent.  I won’t outline the four styles in depth here, but the point made was that securely attached children were not necessarily the ones taken up in to mother’s arms most frequently and for the longest period.  Rather they were the children who had mothers who were able to respond to their cues to be picked up or put down as the child needed, that is they had mother’s who were more in tune with their unspoken needs.

Consistently unresponsive mothers were more likely to ignore the child’s distress and often intruded on the child when they were playing happily.  They were less attuned to the child’s emotional states and unspoken needs.  These mothers had ambivalently insecure children.

Lack of warmth and brusqueness or gruffness was the characteristic of Insecure and avoidant mothers who then raised avoidant-insecure children.

In the disorganised responsive and insecure disorganised group, explored by Ainsworth such mothers were those who were suffering great distress and had a high incidence of abuse in their history.  These mothers were unable to be consistent and so their children suffered a similar disruption to attachment.

Quoting psychologist J. Holmes, Flores writes:

Parental attunement on one hand and the ability to accept protest without retaliation or excessive anxiety on the other hand form the basis for secure attachment. … through parental attunement, the child must be able to feel she has “created” the object, that the world is her oyster.  This is the basis of healthy narcissism and self esteem.  Second, the child needs to be able to feel that her parents can survive her rage, and so be able after an angry outburst, to say.  “Hello… I destroyed you.” … these primary attachment and separation experiences provide a nucleus for the development of the capacities for intimacy and autonomy, respectively.”

A few pages back, Philip Flores narrates the story of Paul, an addict in recovery who through early experiences of difficulty with attachment became disconnected from his deeper feelings and as a result became sexually compulsive.  Flores mentions while discussing Paul’s case a paper by John Bowlby entitled “On Knowing What You Are Not Supposed to Know, and Feeling What You Are Not Supposed to Feel.”. Here I felt was the intuitive guidance for me with what I was struggling with, in learning to respect and honour my own feelings not being attuned to by the person which whom I had experience conflict.

Flores writes:  “Paul compounded his dilemma by trying to keep his own feelings and knowledge secret even from himself.”  He became sexually compulsive acting out old repressed feelings in this way rather than deal with them directly.

Contemplating all this this afternoon I was drawn to page 213 in the Language of Letting Go, where  Melody Beattie writes:

Since I’ve been a child, I’ve been in a antagonistic relationship with an important emotional part of myself: my feelings.  I have consistently tried either to ignore, repress, or force my feelings away.

I’ve denied I was angry, when in fact I was furious.  I have told myself there must be something wrong with me for feeling angry, when anger was a reasonable and logical response to the situation

I have told myself these things did not hurt, when they hurt very much.  I have told myself stories such as “That person didn’t mean to hurt me”…”He or she doesn’t know any better”… I”I need to be more understanidng.”  The problem was that I had already been too understanding of the other person and not understanding and compassionate enough with myself.

I didn’t succeed in my attempts to control emotions.  Emotional control has been a survival behaviour for me.  I can thank that behaviour for helping me get through many years and situations where I didn’t have any better options.  But I have learned a healthier behaviour – accepting my feelings.

We are meant to feel.  Part of our dysfunction is trying to deny or change that.  Part of our recovery means learning to go with the flow of what we’re feeling and what our feelings are trying to tell us.

We are responsible for our behaviours but we do not have to control our feelings.  We can let them happen.  We can learn to embrace, enjoy and experience – feel – the emotions as part of ourselves.

I will give power and freedom to the emotional part of myself.

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The meeting I had to have yesterday was with a person who had caused me a great deal of upset several weeks ago and then tried to turn the tables and blame me. This person is a therapist. Last Monday she had rung to make an apology last and ask if we could meet to discuss what had happened between us.   I suffered a lot of anxiety for the entire day leading up to our meeting, a lot of which I now know came from the backlog of feelings around our conflict I had to hold inside for a number of weeks.

For much of the scheduled half hour that we met I must say I cried, while expressing to her my truth and deep feelings and the sadness in my soul at what she had done.  It all just flowed out of me and it was difficult to stop the movement of energy that was releasing.  There was not really a lot she could say, except that she felt upset I was sad.   It wasn’t only that I had been hurt, though it was a great weariness I felt yesterday for all the broken attachments, deaths, lack of attunement, misunderstandings, loss of connection and the inability to heal any of it experienced over many years as well as for the lack of recognition or apology to date. Deeper down I guess there was also grief for the loss of the hope of healing in a relationship which two years had proved incapable of being repaired and sustaining a deep and true intimacy, due to another person’s very deep wounds. As I write I am conscious this is real transiting Saturn in Scorpio conjunct my natal Neptune territory!

Today I realise the tears I shed were not only for all the disappointment of what had occurred between us since the end of January, but for so many other losses and deep disappointments, that for so long I have to deny and had buried deep in my body.  It was a lifetime of banked up protest and feeling, I guess, that I was uncovering yesterday. It left me quiet spent and tired.  But today I feel grateful for the opportunity to express it.

Mercury has been stationing on my natal Chiron for the past week or so…  I’ve been under the influence of my Chiron return in the seventh house of relationships for over four years now.  My Chiron in the seventh opposes Uranus in the first and Pluto there too and Chiron semi-sextiles my Mars/Moon/Saturn conjunction, emotional connection and understanding has been a fraught and sensitive sore spot for most of my life.    So I do believe all of this in on schedule and an inward alchemy of a sort is occurring deep in my soul.

Today has been a day of peace at home with my puppy after all the tearing and anxiety of yesterday, pre confrontation.  In a short while Jasper and I will head out to the park to play and be in the healing power of nature, a place where I can experience lightness, joy and peace. These are the balms that do my soul a power of good.

In the tears shed yesterday something very deep was uncovered and released.  It felt good to be able to surrender to that experience and not to have to keep in place the defences I felt against the pain this incident had caused.     I’m not entirely sure why this personal blog was headed out by the quotes and information on attachment styles by Flores, but there is an association that I am sure someone will understand….

In the absence of protest and attunement we get driven into a lonely void where there is no place to know what we know and feel what we feel.  At 5 am this morning I awoke with so much from the past, especially my last relationship in which we were both hurt deeply going around in my head. In the midst of this the following thought came into my mind:

“We are powerless over what we are unconscious of and until we become conscious of it we are prisoners who do not know that we are in prison.”

Consciousness into our deeper selves and our past experiences may come in an avalanche, like it did for me yesterday.   Or it may come more slowly.  But once it comes and is released there is a sense of an entirely new freedom and possibility opening out, one that never existed before.  There is also a  feeling of coming home despite or, perhaps more aptly, because of the pain, sadness, longing, loneliness and despair we have had the courage to face, feel, admit, accept and release.

Recently I came across the following quote:

Therapy is not about healing what is broken but about kissing the broken places.  I would change the word therapy to healing.

Today those words resonate with me deeply. Life might not always go according to plan or fully meet our hopes, expectations or ideals but in the end sense can be made of it and healing can come if we are prepared to kiss the broken places.