When our grief is hidden : reflections on finding and feeling our feelings

Pema

I read a long time ago in one of my favourite books on the planet Saturn that Moon Saturn contacts show a person whose emotions so often get buried or hidden deep in the body, they become what is called ‘somatised’.  Feelings that cannot be acknowledged or understood in childhood by our closet emotional caregivers, feelings we get left alone with become over time inaccessible to conscious awareness.  If we are shamed or meet prohibitions against feeling them it is even worse.  Now we are most certainly not only not allowed to have them but if we do we feel ashamed, we feel wrong and we feel bad and we then become conditioned to self reject and those feelings get mixed up.  Just writing that last sentence makes me very, very angry.   What a terrible predicament for a child or anyone really to go through as without access to our true feelings we suffer and get twisted in our deepest spirit and soul.

Come to think about it, this shaming or disallowing of feeling relates not only to individuals but to wider collective and social influences around how a culture allows the expression and working through feelings around death, loss and endings.  In a book which I believe won the Purlitzer Prize by Ernest Becker called The Denial of Death attention was bought to how much our culture since the middle ages has been arranged around the repression and denial of death, as well as by the seeking of power and control over nature and natural cycles which oh so naturally contain a death/decay component as part of the intrinsic wholeness of the life cycle.

It’s not a far step from here to see how the entire issue of grief and grieving becomes complex. Grief confronts us with our powerless and helplessness, it is a painful reminder of the depth of love and connection or attachment we feel towards what is lost.  Expressing grief over our true losses is essential to the integrity, truth and honesty of our soul.   And a soul whose grief is blocked becomes a kind of ghost, forever haunted by the spectral shadow memory and essence/imprints of feelings disallowed that hover in a far off place waiting to return or be called home leaving the self vacant and hollowed out, hungering, wandering and wondering endlessly what is really wrong, casting shadows upon real feelings that disallowed now have become invisible and mute and deeply confusing, only later to emerge in illness.

If I had one purpose in my life I feel it would be to be a grief crusader.  I would want to be the one out there saying, don’t bury your grief, don’t hide from it, allow it a place in your life.  Dis those people who shower you with platitudes in the midst of your grief due to their own problematic relationship with feeling powerless.  Honour your grief, don’t feel like it will kill you…..although I know how painful it can be to feel it, how feeling it often feels as though your soul’s skin is burned or seared by a fire whose white heat seems almost impossible to withstand.  Hold yourself there in the midst of those flames and let grief do its work.  Rage if you need to in the midst of that process if that is what your soul demands for a time as part of the process of letting go or what helps you recognise your deepest truth and authenticity.

Friend

Because this cry of mine speaks not only for grief but for other feelings too.  Maybe it is not your grief but your anger and sense of protest you have buried, maybe it is your own deep need for personal authenticity or agency that was stolen or given away over the course of your years, if so that is where you work lays, in the reclaiming of it even amidst the giant wave of repression and misunderstanding that so often meets you both from forces without so often internalised within.

And seek those who understand their own feelings.  That is most important.  Gravitate towards the ones who will honour rather than deny your authentic feelings, those who have the courage and heart to look more deeply below the surface of the so called ‘real’, for it seems to me that in modern society we have so sorely lost our way over years from our authenticity of soul.  Yeats said it well in these few lines written just a few years after the end of the First World War.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

We need to find a centre that can hold our hearts open in the midst of this falling apart process and maybe they are meant to fall apart. W B Yeat’s poem may have been about the grief he must have felt watching as forces of avarice and destruction were unleashed during those horrible years of devastation on battle fields of Europe, and yet were not each of our families in some way impacted upon by this war?   My own grandfather fought on the Western Front and returned, he was only 16 when he joined up.  He died when he was in his 30s of war related injuries and like him so many men returned unable to speak of what they endured suffering such deep wounds and scars then called shell shock.  They were deep in a wordless grief and complex trauma buried deep in cells that vibrated with the unspoken anguish, how many of us in later years also carry these imprints or the suffer the ripple effects as they have played out across generations?

So now, please let our grief be grief.  Let it not be turned against others as vengeance or buried and then turned against them and ourselves in criticism or misunderstanding or shame or unending resentment.  Let our true tears fall, let them soften our hearts and let them nurture for the rest of our lives tiny seeds of strength, tolerance, fairness, honesty, understanding, wisdom, empathy and love so that was is hidden in the dark and has gone mute can finally find some light, freedom, release and air, a magnificent falcon set free to fly.

 

As Autumn Leaves fall

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I woke after a very deep sleep this morning to an overcast autumnal day.  I was conscious of how deeply down I had spiralled into sleep and of the dream I had just awoken from in which I opened the front door of my home which had come ajar during my absence to find a pile of kangaroos on the front living room carpet and a box containing overseas letters the post man had left.  Was he the one who left the door ajar?

Like many dreams its symbols remain a mystery to me.  I have some ideas about it, in terms of the wild animal element of life which I long to be close to and to develop a better relationship with, and I am conscious too of today’s anniversary, two years ago they took my sister into the hospital due to lung complications and we were advised that it would be best for her to be taken off life support which happened three days later on the 20th of April.

Today my Mother goes into hospital on the recommendation of her doctor, there is fluid on the lung, her heart is not pumping well and there is a strong risk of stroke.  She will be in the hospital where I will be going to start my radiation treatment on Wednesday.  I cannot help but feel there is some deep connection to grief, love and longing all those heart centred concerns.

The airmail letters in my dream are an association to the airmail letters of my sister I have been reading again last week which tell of her separations from husband and family at times, of the facts of our family’s life when I was very young which is a story very much a part but also apart from mine since I came into a family which was much older by the time I was born.

At the time my sister was taken ill two years ago by a spot of curious synchronicity my brother was in town.  It was he who called me to let me know she was in hospital.  Over the past week he has been back and I had an urge to call him, but I block it sometimes as I find him difficult to connect with emotionally.

This morning I called him.  I narrowly missed him at Mum’s yesterday, he was to arrive at 4 pm but (as usual) didn’t turn up until much later than he said he would and until after I had left,  “I just got so engrossed in what I was doing”, he said “I forgot about time”.

After our conversation I felt okay but had to remind myself the longed for emotional connection can’t really come from someone who is so deeply focused in another world and wears huge emotional blinkers.  It is essential I  keep remembering the reality of my family situation, and don’t get caught up in illusions of what I wish could be.

In my longed for family, anniversaries would be remembered, there would be empathy and sensitivity to each other’s feelings.  We would reach out and connect and share our grief and pain, but in our family this doesn’t happen, at least not with my siblings.

This morning when feeling so emotional I rang my therapist. I told her of how Mum was going into hospital on the EXACT day Judy had two years ago. I also told her how Mum had just ‘forgotten’ me again on Saturday.  “She told me she didn’t mean to”, I said.  “I’m sure she didn’t”, she said “but the fact is, she cannot ‘hold’ you, she often gets distracted and then seems genuinely distressed and confused.  She just doesn’t get it or fully understand how that is for you.”  Yes, but she is aging too.

She also made the point that the mother I long for cannot be there as I need her to be and that is difficult, most especially at a time when I so badly need emotional support.  Its Saturn Moon territory for me.

The fact is that there are other places I can turn to for support.  There are other people who can mother me at this time, as I can learn to mother myself.  If I face the reality and feel the anger and grief of my little girl, (as I have been doing over past years of therapy) eventually I get to the place where I have processed this.  The hurt in time becomes smaller and not as overpowering, but never not real.  And in accepting the reality of the situation I feel more peace.

Today conscious of the falling leaves, I am conscious of how two years ago this was a time of deep letting go and grief.  My sister was taken at this time of year as the leaves fell.  In one blog I wrote at the time I spoke of my sister as another leaf that had “fallen” from the family tree.   I am conscious that my sister no longer now has to suffer in the way she did while alive.  She is free.  I am at peace.  My grief is no longer so intense, as I have over these two years been able to grieve with others and through grieving I feel the love for my sister.  I am also aware my Mum hasn’t had this opportunity and is carrying huge grief within her over my sister and the circumstances of her life which were so tragic and sad.

I am conscious this week of more of my sister’s early married life in New Zealand as a young wife and pregnant with her first child.  Of the love between her and the husband who eventually deserted her after they came back to Australia and my sister got caught back up in the destructive family urge to achieve material success.  I feel sad for the fact that they could not sustain that connection, but there were so many separations even in their early years due to the work my brother in law was doing with the Forestry School he was associated with.

I am conscious of the same theme playing out in my own life.  How the pull of family bought me back, that over all those years of addiction how the longing to heal the broken or non existent deep attachments and missing connections was so strong in me and led me on so many wild goose chases.

Now I am a midlife woman who lives alone with her dog. Its not how I wish it could have been.  I would have loved to have sustained a loving relationship with a partner.  But you know what?  Where I am is more than good enough.

In my imaginary world I may have hoped for more, but this current state of affairs is my real situation, which arises out of the very real facts of my life.  I could not separate from something I did not yet understand and the return to family was so essential to learn certain lessons.

Today too, I am also grateful for my knowledge of astrological associations and timing.  As I allow myself to slow down, get cosy and type in my pyjamas nurturing myself with a lemon cinnamon drink I am aware of Mars and Pluto which are slowing to enter their retrograde cycle.  I am aware of this as a time of deep inward turning in which I need to re-orient my own personal energies within in deep introspection and become more considered in how and where I am expressing my energies and desires (Mars) and how these maybe motivated by past pain or unconscious feelings (Pluto).

I am aware too that in life, things do eventually work out in their own timing.  Its okay to go gently.  If I can slow down, if I can connect, if I can process and look for the places where my deeper self is reflected and mirrored, in time I come to wisdom.  And after all the pain and suffering fully felt things eventually burn or wash away clean and I am returned to life even in the midst of facing grief, loss, endings, change, death and the breaking open of illusions.

Reflections on Saturn Moon

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Lately I have been reflecting on my Saturn Moon and trying to get a deeper understanding of my defence mechanisms. In reality my moon placement has other contacts, too.  But the Saturn Moon side of me, as I age is throwing up information, particularly at this time of year.

If the Moon in our chart represents the mother she is our earliest experience of containment, nurture and home. But we are born in to a family, too.  In my case the family was already well established, my parents had me late in life, both had Sun Saturn Mercury conjunctions.  So I have been reflecting that perhaps our sense of the Moon contains all the individual members or our home as well, and the emotional sub tone of our relationships with them, too.

When I was born my eldest brother was 17, and my eldest sister 16. In fact in the surrounding neighbourhood there was a fair bit of talking going on. As my sister used to wheel me around in the pram people would throw questioning glances at her, was I her child?

This morning I went to buy some Christmas gifts and got chatting to the sales assistant she has a child of 18 and another child of aged one year.  I told her of my elder sibling being around the same age distance from me. “How was it for you?” She asked. ” It was complicated”, I said, in some ways like being an only child and having a number of people play a parenting role.

I was very young when my eldest sister left home, only 3 and I missed her a lot.  When my brother married and left home I was 7.  We don’t really know each other very well.  I have some difficulties as our lives have followed very different directions and to be honest as upset as I have been, at times in not getting much from him emotionally, lately I feel he has tried to reach out.  I probably hasn’t been easy for him either, with the variations in ages.   However we have things in common.  We both came from a family short on emotional nurture, so lately I am questioning how realistic it is, to have certain expectations of him, expectations that have often led to disappointment. Might it not be a little self centred?

My brother is highly successful but a quiet achiever. He is understated and thoughtful, at least that is what I am learning of him now (probably a lot like my father who was also Virgo with Mercury and Saturn in conjunction there). Both individuals found it difficult to know how to respond emotionally and to express themselves. There were no spontaneous displays of feeling or embraces.

I am beginning to realise it isn’t that my brother is unfeeling and doesn’t care, it is just that he holds his feelings quiet close to his chest and finds it hard to communicate.  Also his life is about work, achievement and business, though in later years I have noticed he has began to change.  My father was very similar (he had Sun Mercury and Saturn conjunct in Virgo which speaks of a serious internal disposition).

This Saturn Moon legacy of mine speaks of a family where duty and hard work came before emotional expression and connection.

In the book Saturn : A New Look At An Old Devil, astrologer Liz Greene expresses it thus:

In the Saturn Moon childhood “there has been rather a lot of emphasis on duty and the appropriate forms of behaviour. Sometimes Saturn Moon contacts are concurrent with a childhood that is difficult because of financial reasons; sometimes there is an abundance of material comfort but little warmth or spontenaeity of emotional expression. The mother is frequently undemonstrative or a disappointment in some way”

in addition

there is “a well defined stamp of emotional close fistedness which infers a long past of learning to control the feelings beginning at an age where feelings, freely expressed, are the only outlet a child possesses for communication. There is often a brooding loneliness about this contact….an aloofness and isolation that is not easily broken.”  

I must be honest. It’s painful to even read those lines, let alone share them in a blog! I am becoming all too aware of my tendency to brood but I do question if all of this brooding is negative or whether it leads to a capacity for introspection and depth that has gifts.

I notice the held back tendency of mine, especially around my beautiful dog Jasper, who is full of bounding enthusiasm. At times I feel he represents for me the child in me, that I try to reign in, in the way I was reigned in by my Mum. (She used to put me in a harness when I was young, like a dog on a lead) and was always unsettle by my (to her) “overly dramatic” nature.

I have been considering these influences lately, especially around Christmas when the tendency I experience to withdraw and isolate is conflicting with deeper longings to be a part of things.   I hope it’s not boring to say again (am I brooding?). My father was diagnosed with cancer and died quickly following an operation around Christmas in 1984.

At the moment I am in the midst of watching the HBO series In Treatment which focuses on the life of a psychotherapist, Paul (played by Gabriel Byrne) and his patients.  Paul is treating a couple Jake and Amy who are having problems connecting.  Amy’s  father died in childhood. The shadow of this death is reverberating in Amy’s life and affecting the way Amy is erecting defences by pushing away tenderness from her husband which threatens to awaken the pain over the loss of her Dad.

Amy suffers guilt surrounding her father’s death, she had left him sitting outside on the kerb to go into the shop and get a second ice cream and while she was in the shop her father is hit by a runaway car and dies.  In the  episode I watched last night both Amy and Jake begin to be aware of the ghost of this unconscious influence over their struggle to love, connect and find intimacy.

I have digressed a little here but I did feel an echo when watching this episode of the series last night, of how a death can lead us to withdraw and put up protective defences around closeness.   I am considering this in relation to my behaviour around my brother, the part I play in maintaining a distance from a person on whom I project some of my own fears.

I shared in another blog posted last week, that I had resistance to connecting with my brother at Christmas. He always spends Christmas overseas in America. We usually connect in the few weeks before. I often leave these sessions holding back tears which I don’t feel safe enough to share.  Inside I wonder why he always goes so far away around the anniversary of Dad’s death.

I shared in a post how I struggled with the thought of meeting  on Tuesday night.  Initially I said I would not go, then I changed my mind, only to have an attack that made it impossible to get out of the house.

The following night my brother called to say goodbye, he expressed his disappointment. It has been hard for me to feel my brother’s love. I could not hold back the tears.  I shared some of my grief over Dad, over my own lack of family.  He didn’t say much but he was kind and I was aware of seeing things from his side:  he lost his father too, they were close for many years, working side by side.  He never mentions Dad much, but I am sure he feels the loss too, he doesn’t have many places to share it. His wife is rather critical of feelings and harsh, not a nurturer.

The following morning I spoke to my mother. She told me how disappointed my brother had been that I could not make the dinner. He had come over to see her and for the first time picked up a photograph of my father taken when he was ill from the table. My mother was crying as she told me this.

I shared with my mother that I was beginning to realise that my brother grew up at a time in which Mum and Dad were struggling to build a new life. He lived through the painful and traumatic years which involved time as a very young child living with my parents while Dad was stationed in the Dutch East Indies during the early 1950s during the time that a precarious fight for independence from Dutch colonisation was underway and made conditions dangerous. He shared the early years of their return to Australia where they had no money much.

My father struggled to earn a living, as a returned Dutch serviceman his qualifications as an engineer, which were considerable, were not recognised by the Australian Government. Despite the fact the Dutch East Indies forces played a huge part in the protection of Australia from enemy attack by the Japanese, no recognition in the form of financial support was ever received.

As a young adult my brother worked in the family businesses of which there were three, very long hours. Together he and Dad worked to build an empire. There was a lot of work, work, work, not any time to just play, laugh, goof off and relax. Illness took my father in the mid 1980’s. For over six years, prior to his illness Dad was under both enormous financial and emotional stress, my eldest sister had a breakdown and had been abandoned by her husband, my brother was overextending the company he and my father ran through borrowing money offshore at a time of economic collapse.

One thing that occurred during this time was that my eldest sister, who died this year, became psychotic. During the psychosis she rang my brother and accused him of devil worship. The devil : Money. In truth she had fallen foul of trying to live up the family ethos of overwork with little emotional nurture.

Over the next four years things fell apart for my mother and father.   Following my father’s death my mother lost her mother, my sister who had had a stroke and had lost her husband and four children struggled and Mum struggled to support her.  She then ran into a new relationship out of loneliness and in a flight from grief.  My brother went on from strength to strength, in time amassing a large fortune from his development activities.

For me the loss of my father at 22 led to a time of travel and then a move to a new city where I could be far away from the family and their businesses. I wanted so much more than this, at a time when I did not know what I had really been through growing up in such a family, I also did not truly know the wounds I carried and what my soul was longing for.

Being pushed into a solitary path of travel after my father died, I took to addiction and hid the scars deep inside. I partied and tried to forget, I struggled a lot in relationships to connect and experienced several painful endings before getting sober in 1993 when transiting Chiron passed over my natal Pluto in the first house.

By the late 1999’s my husband and I tried to make an overseas break but the truth is, where ever we go with our particular legacy we still carry it. In the end it asks to be dealt with and so, in time, after two years of therapy and the opening to my deep feelings we returned, and in time that marriage went into the fire.

It has taken me about 14 years to come to more awareness around my Saturn Moon issues, from the time I started therapy to understand my own issues as well as my struggle to individuate in the midst of all of these familial forces understanding and insight has grown. The journey is ongoing. In the absence of therapy, at present, this blog and my journaling takes its place.

This morning I got a greater insight into my brother. I saw how my own disappointment and frustration at him was really something that needed to be accepted and how much of my resentment and anger came out of an ignorant or childlike place. In the end my expectations have been unrealistic, they may also have been a bit self centred and narcissistic.

Maintaining a distance is, perhaps, something I have chosen to get a better perspective and to protect against a sensitivity to hurt, it may also be an attempt of a growing part of myself to achieve separation and growth (and yet, and yet I long so much to connect deeply and share emotional intimacy). There were times a while back I really opened my emotions to my brother and I got stung by him. It was enough to make me clam and up and be fearful of opening my heart again.

It really has only been following my older sister’s funeral that I feel my brother has shown me much in the way of respect.   When I gave a eulogy for her, I spoke to the heart of what I saw as my sister’s struggle, probably with a depth that my brother was not capable of. I know he felt it.

On Wednesday I let my pain out. I bore with the struggle that was taking place. The longing to connect (so often thwarted and ending in misunderstanding and rejection) and the desire to protect and keep myself whole, safe, intact and emotionally real was bringing about a deep inner struggle which in true Saturn Moon fashion manifested psychosomatically.

This morning as I spoke to my Mum I felt into the heart of her suffering and loss, as well as that of my brother. I thought about how the loss that occurred happened for all of us and affected us all in different ways. I felt some of the pain and sting receding and compassion and insight dawning.

As I write this blog over the days of Uranus station direct in my 8th house, I reflect on the legacy of my Saturn Moon which has Pluto thrown into the mix. I think of the very dark places I went when my buried emotional hunger and need, the longing of the small child to be held and to connect deeply went astray over long years. I think of the hopes I had in five relationships that turned to ashes and dust, returning me to new pain which contained echoes of old. I see that, hard as it has been at times, in some way I found the capacity to bear it.

Perhaps I may always feel a little imprisoned in my ability to connect, trust, reach out and bond emotionally due to my history. I notice when the desire to do so comes, simultaneously an inner voice sends up all the doubts and reservations. I feel the Dweller on the Threshold, at times barring my way from connection and movement forward towards connection, happiness, lightness, joy and hope.

At times I feel like a deeply introspective watcher whose way is barred, the exile who only witnesses others receive these kind of gifts. I acknowledge the reality of that, and just for now I breathe through it. I know I am not the only one to feel this way.   In so many ways I am blessed because there is love around me and there are other sunnier influences in my chart too.  Sometimes love doesn’t come in a form we recognise or fully understand and yet, it is there.

Even in my very painful past relationship there were moments when we connected. In the end the way into each other’s hearts was lost and the barricades came down, from the other side .  One of my ex partners even said I had shown him more capacity for love than anyone he had med, but he was not in a place to receive it.  My last partner  decided to project a lot of his own shadow onto me, he was not ready to engage with the pain and deeper work that was needed to bring us through to connection. I had to make the journey alone, was sent back to myself for the fifth time.

In her writing about Saturn Moon Liz Greene expresses the view that for the Saturn Moon person the way to love and peace comes through the giving up of the longing for the security and warmth of familial love and leads us towards a certain kind of independence, perhaps not asked of others without this kind of contact.

She writes

Saturn’s gift of independence usually follows on the heels of failure or disappointment because only failure appears to be sufficient to cause a person to question himself or develop the necessary wisdom and strength. The security of family ties is an illusory one, and it is often very dangerous to assume that one has the right, because of blood ties, to command emotional support from others. …. As (the Saturn Moon person) builds his own inner stability and taps the resources of his creative and intuitive side, he generally finds that he does not have to demand the affection of others. This is offered to him freely, because he has something to offer – a whole person.

I take comfort from those words on some level and feel them to be deeply true. A lot of growth has taken place in this direction during the past 14 years as Saturn as travelled around my chart and is now close to squaring natal Pluto in the first house which speaks deeply of the importance of my struggle for differentiation and individuation.

It seems to me that Saturn then, offers us through the hard experiences a way forward that can be lonely and tough but on some level has great gifts nevertheless.

As I face Christmas in my own orbit with little Jasper by my side, I feel grateful for this astrological knowledge, which in some way gives me the ability to make gold from what could be seen as darkness.   This knowledge gives me a way to find the light hidden in the shadow of the darkness of Saturn’s influence which falls across my heart at times like a ghost, a dark angel or spectre.

Inside my little house I will turn my energy back towards comfort, centring and emotional nurture.  I will distil the wisdom of Liz Greene’s words and  fall back on my own gifts whilst also reaching out to family with a more complete understanding of the very real necessity and reason for their limitations, asking nothing of them and finding a way to give love.

Last night I had dinner with my Mum and sister and towards the end of the night we which lifted the lid off some painful issues.  Mum and I were able to share our grief and speak  and be listened to with love and respect.  We both cried, I opened my heart.  Mum wrapped her arms around me and told me how much she loves me, how much she sees me struggling with my self esteem, how much she longs for my happiness. It was a precious moment. I shared with her that I feel quite deficient at times emotionally with this Saturn Moon legacy, at times I don’t see my true heart clearly.  But I do know it is a heart full of love, that is what gives me he capacity to be with sadness and pain.

Maybe one of the legacies of my Saturn Moon tends toward the negative, which makes me sad. (Reading that back I see it still contains a judgement for Saturn Moon sees into the dark heart of truth, maybe it just doesn’t need to make a permanent residence there).

I don’t only have the Saturn Moon I have a lovely Sun Mercury Venus Jupiter too and a warm ascendant and North Node in Leo.   I feel how much these parts of me want to love and embrace life, I am just not always that sure how to go about it. I seem to have deep fears. Maybe the acknowledgement of all of these is important.

Maybe Saturn is, at present, asking me to give it a voice to show my weakness to expose my deeper vulnerability at a time when I am sure others are feeling vulnerable too. To put it out there. And for today that is what I will do. To find out how others struggle and feel similar too.

Further travels with pain and trauma : bringing light into the dark

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I just spent some hours writing the following blog.  As I read it back it struck me I am just really struggling with loss and feelings.  The inner censor is making some comments. But after a few corrections to typos I putting it out there anyway.  🙂

Last week was really painful and tough. I wish I knew the reason why, then I could make the change to make it better and to feel more of the strength and positivity in the good feelings which are there on many days.  But sometimes, there is a tide that is pulling me back into the darkness and pain especially surrounding the burden of my family history.  With one sister recently passed away and the other struggling with depression, I too, struggle in maintaining a sense of separation from other people’s pain and feelings.  Most  especially I struggle to maintain a sense of happiness and hope for a better future in the face of that darkness.  And I do know that on any day there are a number of choices I can make in placing my energy and time in nurturing, rather than depleting directions.

I have been very aware of being there to support my mother in the face of the difficulties surrounding both siblings.  In the wake of my sister’s death there are the tasks that follow the ending of a life, administrative things to do with death certificates that need to be witnessed  and the issue of the collection and handling of my sister’s ashes.   In this task there is only my mother and me present   None of my sister’s children live close.  Separated from her by the circumstance of her own trauma and their father’s struggle to survive and cope all fours sons live quiet far away.  It was great to have them with us in the time leading up to and just following her death, but now with these other issues to deal with,  it is  quiet a lonely task.  I am grateful in one way to be able to front up ad be there but at other times I am conscious of a deep emptiness that stretches back in our family, so much separation and emotional absence, over many generations which I am trying in some small way to redress.

At times the entire task seems too big and I feel like I am drowning or, at least, struggling to live and breathe and maintain a sense of self and boundaries within it..  I am trying to remember to breathe, move, not to clamp down, not to struggle so much and yet there is so much banked up feeling.

My body suffers a lot on some days.   Its a struggle to get moving and I have body spasms and twists, especially at night.  There is a suck in, push and pull out  out dynamic that happens.  Over the past three years there have been at least seven different hospitalisations of three family members and I have been the one in the middle going backwards and forwards, trying to be supporting, living on my nerves, trying at the same time to support my own life and care of my home and dog, is it any wonder, at the moment that I am feeling so exhausted and longing for some one to care for me.  Oh the joy of Saturn transits!!!   Transiting Saturn is moving back towards natal Neptune and will be squaring Sun, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and the South and North Nodes over the next four months.

I continue to put my hand up for tasks that are often not my responsibility due to the fact others cant, or wont front up.   It my first instinctive response, one that comes naturally to me.  Only after I have volunteered do I realise that I have overcommitted myself and energy not allowing enough time for my own tasks that need attention and yet, if I don’t give love in this situation the emptiness will go on with no light in the darkness at all.

Today I am still in my pyjamas at 2 pm.  We are moving into winter and had a lovely fall of rain last night and throughout the morning it could have been a peaceful morning but  marring the day I had a major cuffufle with my mother this morning.     I wasn’t really aware that the lingering resentment around her own emotional absence over earlier years which lies dormant (and I thought I had dealt with) was about to rear its ugly head  today.  We ended up having one of our painful tussles and I said somethings which hurt her and were probably best left unsaid.  The conversation left us both in tears and with my insides feeling like they had been scoured out with a huge wad of steel wool.

“Maybe its best if we don’t have as much to do with each other for a while” she said. This is her default setting for not dealing with conflict and issues which cut a bit too close to the bone.   I know she is struggling with a lot of painful feelings herself and most of the time I try to go gently on her. But  today I guess I was just feeling angry, sore and raw and a trifle put upon having spent the day yesterday nurturing my sister, driving her back and forward from hospital on a weekend where she is totally institutionalised and sees no one much.  My mother’s comment really hurt.  In the process of grieving my sister’s loss I have very few places to go to share the sadness, as usual it was all about my Mum’s wounded ego.    Earlier she had tried pulling out the guilt card.  “I don’t have much longer left on this earth”.  I called her on it.  This is another one of her tactics for trying to  making me feel bad for addressing painful feelings which she would really rather deny.  “For God’s sake isn’t it time you put it to rest?”.  Most of the time I do and I wish I remembered this one fact :  its not possible to deal with these feelings with my Mum and deep down I am angry at having tried to deal with a challenging situation which has endured over so many bloody years.

We two and do at times  get into some terrible tangles.  They say oil and water don’t mix but sometimes air and water have a lot of trouble too.  Sometimes it really sucks having a parent whose Sun Mercury Saturn hits all of your personal planets, especially the Moon and Venus,  planets of closeness and relationship.  These interconnections can be cutting at times and its not always easy to get a deeper connection and understanding.   And maybe its not even her job  Maybe that responsibility is mine now.  It  was her responsibility at one point and she failed pretty miserably at it and that has left a painful legacy for all three of her daughters, something I am not even going to try and point out.  She couldn’t give what she never got from her own mother in the first place and she has tried, over the past years to make some kind of amends.  After our terminated call I was left questioning myself a lot.  Did I place too much of a burden of expectation upon a parent who is now struggling herself?   Not an easy feeling.

I was lucky enough following my upsetting phone call with my mum to call a very kind and gentle friend. ! Maybe these feelings you are having towards your Mum you can put in a letter”, she said.  “And if you would like to read it to me I would be happy to listen”. This friend has the same name as my sister Judy.  I could always go to Jude with Mum issues and she would understand.  Now I no longer have that older sister to go to who understands but maybe my Higher Power did provide someone else.  I was very grateful for her attempt try to understand where I was coming from and show empathy.

I must say its a huge relief just to be on my own today.  To be in the quiet and peace of home without any obligations or responsibilities pulling on me.  Jasper is sleeping quietly and doesn’t seem to perturbed by having missed his usual morning play in the park.  In a moment I think I will light the fire and read a book.

I’m praying this week will be a little easier than last.  I wonder if its the pain body that has been giving me trouble last week. This is a term Eckhardt Tolle uses to describe the entity that can live inside of us and rear up from time to time.  My own pain body is pretty large.  I have had three major physical traumas, the last two following the painful separation that attended the ending of my marriage.  Its taken me some time to be able to feel deeply into the pain body and the traumatic footprint left by physical and emotional trauma that is more active at night….To find ways to be with it while breathing in the pain instead of reacting to it.  Its taken some years but bearing with this process I have found is beginning to bear fruit.  When I can be with the pain without magnifying the pain the pain does lessen and dissolve and usually if I just concentrate on the breath or a lovely song in my head, I manage to fall asleep.

No one will ever know how hard some day are for me with my Post Traumatic Stress.  Its not something you can see and its not always there.  At times pain that is submerged, emerges as tides of consciousness recede as I attempt to let go and slip away into sleep.  On some days my body contorts a lot in a way that I have seen in images of shell shock victims following war.  I read somewhere in book on Buddhism that traumas cause a twisted “tsa” or energy.  At times I feel that twisting is trying to find a way to unravel.  It is not ever present, it comes and goes.

I’m making an effort to try and find words for my experience because at times its lonely.  In the end its my responsibility to deal with it.  There really isn’t anyone else.  I have tried a lot of therapy and was once told by the astrologer Melanie Reinhardt that my kind of trauma is often not helped my most therapists.  Instead I try to find ways of dealing with it alone having gone through repeated let downs and frustrations with therapists.   Maybe this is my Saturn Moon Mars legacy.   In the end it is what I must carry because I can’t check out with any kind of pain relief due to my sobriety.  In any case this kind of legacy is beyond pain relief of the pharmaceutical kind.

Instead I look to life  I look to the breathe.  I cuddle little Jasper and feel the healing of his soft tummy lying close to my sore tummy  And I continue to commit to seeking the light and to remembering that although the darkness does exist there are still tools available to build a fire, to bring light, warmth, energy and healing to the dark places.

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Better to Light a Candle, than to Curse the Darkness