Mum, I feel your pain

As a highly sensitive person were you attuned to pick up on one of your parent’s pain?  It is something I have been thinking about a lot more after a dinner out last night with my Mum, older brother and sister.  We very rarely get together and what I noticed is how shut down both my siblings are to my mother on an emotional inner child level.

I have a deep feeling that my 8 year older sister has a lot of unresolved anger to my Mum.  It used to come out in harsh criticism and I am sure there a lot of things she has to be angry about.  My Mum often tends to compete with her and they are so alike that often when they go out they turn up dressed the same without knowing before what the other one was going to wear.  When my sister was struggling with so called ‘bi polar disorder’ I witnessed several arguments in which my Mum tried to undermine my sister.  Last week I had one of the most honest conversations I have ever had with my sister.  “Mum never made it easy for us to separate from her emotionally”, she said.  Wow!

I watched the whole thing play out.  How my sister was forceably hospitalised by her sons, how my Mum struggled to accept her part in the way she had shaped my sister in terms of taking responsibility and then how she called my brother in to put out the fire.  Being in recovery I sat on the sidelines and tried my best not to get too swept up in it all, I was struggling at the time following my own divorce.

Anyway I got a bit off track there.  I am aware that as the ‘baby’ of the family I have absorbed and replayed a lot of my Mum’s inner child abandonment issues.  When I first got sober back in 1993 Mum made a very interesting comment to me. She said “Each of my children has absorbed something from me.”  “What have I absorbed”, I asked.  “You have absorbed all my insecurity.”  Wow thanks for that Mum, I got to be left alone a lot and then tried to become a satellite in order to be seen but was so rarely seen.

Such a pattern has often attracted strong older sister or mother types into my life who seem to hold a lot of power but also exist behind solid defences.  I am presently learning to hold onto my own sense of self in such relationships and remain the adult rather than repay an old adult/child pattern.   As a perceptive person I pick up a lot, most especially of others suffering and I have in sobriety spent so many times listening to my Mum’s history, learning things none of my siblings even know since I guess they are not on any kind of emotional recovery journey.  My older sister died and my other sister has chosen medication and sport as a way to deal with her own challenges.  I don’t put myself above her as I often feel I should exercise more and it is one way of throwing off other people’s stuff but as someone in recovery I am also aware of how exercise can be used as an emotional escape if the inner work on feelings is not being done.

Anyway last night I was very conscious of sitting with my Mum and listening to the pain of her past, and of the sadness she held inside when she spoke of how no one seemed interested in the family to ask her anything about her childhood or even very key critical events in the history of her early life with my father.   I don’t take it on as a burden for understanding my Mum and Dad’s history, especially their inner child history and bonding history has been important to understand my own attachment issues. But I do have to be aware that my Mum’s pain is not mine to fix or heal in any way.

As an empath I can bear witness and sometimes I wish I could be as hard and defended as my brother and sister seem to be towards my Mum’s sadness.  Maybe as the older ones they see things I don’t see.  And I am not really close enough to them to ask certain questions, as I don’t know how much I could trust their answers.  I am also aware of the astrological synastry which involves interconnection between parent and child and shows which traits we pick up and which we defend against.  In my own case my Neptune in Scorpio that is attuned to deep watery realms of feeling and inner sense on the deeper personal and collective unconscious level is smack bang on three Scorpio planets of my Mum.  While my sister has Saturn in Scorpio which related to fear of feeling deep emotions and subsequently erecting powerful defences.  I feel lucky to have that kind of knowledge which helps me make sense of why I pick up and attune to so much.

Lessons in Life from the 12th House

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Even though I have been a great believer in astrology for well over 20 years, I can still get blown away by how spookily accurate things seems when I read about particular transits that I am undergoing.  What I read often resonates so deeply and is spot on and to the point.

I am also very interested in the dance that takes place between the three inner personal planets, Sun, Mercury and Venus. They cross forwards and backwards over each other.  At times of the cycle the Sun is shining out ahead, as it currently is in the middle degrees of Leo with Mercury picking up speed following its retrograde transit close behind.  Just about to cross the ascendant in my own chart.  And then at the moment, Venus is lagging behind in the sign of Cancer, just moving into my 12th house from the 11th, which has been a particular time of growing friendships with people in my close personal environment.

Today I read the following about the 12th house transits of both Mercury and Venus in Robert Hand’s Planets in Transit.

If necessary confront someone and don’t be afraid of that.  If you keep the situation out in the open it is less likely to work against you.

As planets transit the 12th house subconscious patterns from childhood and maybe even from the deeper ancestral past can rear their heads or be brought to the surface.  These transits are the time to have a good hard look at subconscious reaction patterns, fears, limitations and buried feelings.  I have certainly been experiencing this over the past month or so.

As I shared in an earlier blog, there were some really painful things that occurred in childhood which have been a lingering source of resentment for me which I really needed to address with certain family members.  In this case, even before reading Robert Hand’s words I chose to speak up, not only with family members but also with another person who seemed determined not to hear what I had to say.   In the end I felt better for saying what I felt and sticking up for my own needs and expressing my feelings calmly, rather than simmering in angry repressed silence.

This balanced, confident self assertion and expression is not something that has ever come easy for me.  I have a strong Neptunian influence in my chart (especially around my introverted retrograde Mercury in the seventh house) and this has made me, as a natural empath a bit of a psychic sponge for energies in the environment to be projected onto me and then absorbed.  It has given me a fragile and low self esteem and made me into someone who has been scared to ask for what I want and need.  I’ve been more content to just fall into the background and lacked social skills, which in earlier years, prior to recovery, led me to seek my confidence via artificial means, most commonly alcohol and/or drugs.  The strong Neptunian influence around my Sun and Venus too, has made me a sitting target for a narcissistic relationships.

It has taken me some years to come out from under the heavy burden of this pattern and I must say, difficult as the transit of Saturn over my natal Neptune has been I have been grateful for this reality wake up call.  I’m not absorbing half of the shit I used to and am feeling much clearer and stronger as a result.

Writing on Venus transiting the 12th house Robert Hand has this to say.

unresolved problems in relationship come to the surface.  Your forebearance and grace in handling these intensities as they arise will eventually work to your advantage.

This afternoon I have spent some time with my bi polar sister.  I have found dealing with her illness at times very scary, but what I have realised is that now I have a greater awareness around her cyclic pattern I am better able to weather the storms and understand the energetic pattern which is so clearly portrayed in her birthchart.  In a few months the Sun will move closer to her firey Mars which clashes with the water influence which leads her to become more introverted and subdued as we head towards winter in this part of the world.   At the moment her energy is in the ascendency.  I can go along for the ride when she is feeling well and perhaps have a greater degree of detachment around the down times. And I can choose to sidestep things when it all gets too much.  I guess too, I am no longer demanding that my sister be other than she is and I am more realistic now about who that someone is.  Certain of her defences seem to have fallen away.  As I have been enduring the Saturn transit to my natal Neptune in the third, she has been undergoing her second Saturn return, with echoes of my mothers Saturn return resonating too, since she is undergoing her third Saturn return, together with Saturn transits of Sun conjunct Mercury.

There is a deeply introverted withheld energy within my mother which made it difficult as a child to connect with her.  This current transit of Saturn has made me much more aware of the inter aspects between our two charts that have led both to difficulties and to healing.  As I have been sharing before, in later times I have begun to see her less personally and demand less of her as a parent.

Yesterday I read the following quote in a wonderful book by Tian Dayton entitled

The Adult Children of Alcoholics Trauma Syndrome : The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships.

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As children we are faced with the task of integrating conflicting sides of the parents they love.  For the child of addiction (or other trauma), this inner picture looks more like Picasso in his Cubist period than a Renoir.  Children of Alcoholics (or Grandchildren, in my mother’s case) and Adult Children of Alcoholics are faced with incorporating a drunk, out of the control and perhaps abusive (or narcissistic) parent into there internalized working model.  …

Children of fairly regulated parents have the job of facing up to their parent’s faults, perhaps their tempers, or their shyness, weaknesses, or lack of success in the world.  These children have to somehow incorporate these deficits into the image of the parents they have internalised throughout their childhood…. the parents who seemed to have enchanted powers in a good night kiss, who made the best tasting food in the entire world , who lifted then up into the air and into a heaven of two filled with blue sky, love and warm caressing breezes.

Children need to make peace with their childhood wishes and their need to see their parents as all powerful and perfect, and move into a  more mature psychological state in which they can love their parents as they are warts and all.  There is a profound freedom in realising that a parent isn’t perfect, because we simultaneously incorporate the knowledge that we, too can lead a relatively happy life even without being perfect ourselves.

And just maybe this deep dive into some of the hidden subconscious patterns which I absorbed in the course of my own childhood, while understanding their resonances in terms of the history both of my parents carried with the legacy of the Sun Saturn Mercury has made the differentiation easier.  I can accept that which has impacted and been absorbed into my own psyche and the psyches of my sibliings, while at the same time gaining some distance and detachment from these patterns. I am coming to know, now the happiness Tian is speaking of in this excerpt.

Earlier today I read today’s daily meditation taken from Tian’s lovely reader : One Foot In Front of Another : Daily Affirmations for Recovery.

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Lesson and Life

I recognise that today I am in charge of my own learning.  Life is constantly offering up circumstances that are useful to in my personal growth, that I can use as my teacher.  It is up to me whether I learn from life, or live unconsciously.  When I live unconsciously, I do the same thing over and over expecting a different result; I repeat behaviours even when they obviously don’t work, exhausting myself and learning very little.  Or I learn.  I step back in my mind and ask myself what I need to see that I am not seeing, what I need to learn that I am not learning.  I extract the wisdom that is hidden behind circumstances, and I grow in awareness and expand my capacity for living.  The deepest and most appropriate things I need to learn in life are generally right in front of me.  Life is my guru if I can use it as such.  It is rich with subtle learning if I look for it.  The real achievement for me today is to learn to be in my own skin, to see truth in all that surrounds me, to know that placing value and judgement is pointless and illusory – all of life is valuable.

I see beyond what is apparent

The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are

many dark places.  But still there is much that is fair.

And though in all lands, love is now mingled with

grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater

J.J.R. Tolkien