At the ending… is a new beginning : reflections on bearing with and growing through pain

Ever feel like you have reached the end of a huge journey?  One that seemed to take ages and took you down so many twisted, convoluted, difficult pathways at times you felt like you would never find home or find yourself on solid ground again?

Ever felt like an avalanche had fallen on you very soul, that you were weighted down with the burden of so much painful “stuff” that you could never rise again?   It seems difficult to breathe with all that is pressing down and you are fighting to stay alive but the fighting is at the same time about bearing with the burden of all that is coming down, that must be felt, accepted, surrendered to and through the surrendering, shed?

Ever felt like it would never end in the depths of the darkest night that it was all too painful and hopeless to bear?

And then have you ever woken to find the landscape cleared by the avalanche, your toes touching fresh soil and the view you have is vast, but it was a vastness that came out of a heap of pain finally accepted.

Addicts like to run from pain.  We don’t want to have to face the tough stuff.  Its not only that its that when we were young containers that would help us to contain, soothe and make sense of our painful feelings were absent.  Or we were loaded with the painful unresolved stuff of others who could not bear their own darkness, insecurity and confusion so dumped it into us without us knowing.

We go forward into life longing for an Eden where these inner feelings of confusion and pain will disappear, we may actively seek it through a host of addictions, not even knowing what the pain is about our what we are doing, just acting out the wound unconsciously, until some kind of turning point comes, a rock bottom where we are not able to run and hide any longer but must start to face up to the part we have played in perpetrating our own pain, due to our unconsciousness and launch on a path to recognising how we got set up to play the game in the first place.

Certain deep revelations have been being integrated by me over the past weeks.  Its no mistake that Saturn has been stationing to move forward over the past few weeks. For me it will soon pass out of the third house for the final time, crossing the IC of the chart which has to do with birth, psychic foundations and the inward basis of security that we need to find in order to begin a time of building towards a form of self expression which honours the unique fate and karma of our past, without being trapped in it by a victim consciousness.

At the moment Saturn is transiting in waxing square to my natal Uranus in the first soon it will repeat the waning square aspect to Chiron in the seventh and the waxing square to natal Pluto in my first.  It seems on the weekend I entered a very dark space of understanding the full impact of all the Uranian shocks, separations and dramatic tearing apart events that I experienced from the time of Uranus moving towards the waxing square with its natal position (the degrees of where Saturn is now transiting, it is giving me a deeper insight into my dharma/karma as one born with Uranus in the first.

I am never going to have been a person with a normal kind of history.  I will have an inherent tendency to be a bit of a loner (most especially with Pluto in the first two).  Part of my identity will be tied up with being a shock force in others lives at times and I wont find it easy to fit in or just go with the normal flow of things.  I will often feel separate or apart.  Its not just about my history, I am now beginning to see, this position is tied up with needed to be a revolutionary in some small way, most especially I hope it will and does involved being a revolutionary to my past conditioning, understanding it, gaining intuitive insight and being reborn on some level.  At the ending is the new beginning.  Shattering happens for a purpose.

Ever noticed when you are on the brink of change that things begin to break?  I remember when my marriage was ending my partner threw a glass across the room and it shattered into fragments.  This was my Uranus opposition to natal Uranus and the Furies were being unleashed as I was taking some time out for me.  He didn’t like it and was justifiably mad.  If I chose not to make the break for a time the Furies would probably have been unleashed inside me.  Its not easy to change.  You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, so the saying goes.

In the end the Furies were sent back to me when my partner walked out, 11 years ago tomorrow.  We were married 11 years in all so perhaps there is now an end to the grief that was felt in that ending, an ending whose pain evoked the pain of so many other endings, so many losses never fully grieved.

There is a wonderful book by the Jungian therapist, Murray Stein that I read many years ago called In Midlife.  In that book Murray talks of the midlife passage being a time when we bury the corpse of ourselves, of the conditioned self, of all the losses large and small that have made up the first half (hopefully) of our lives, all the wrong turnings that led to pain, all the sadness of not living as our true selves (if over years we only lived out of the false self).

In this prolonged journey that may take many years we are undergoing a psychic death rebirth experience that we can choose or not choose to consciously participate in.  While it is happening this dark night may just consume us totally.  We may find ourselves crippled by a terrible depression and yet hiding in the shadows of that dark place are so many things we need to feel and release and grieve.  The experience of that grief will be the necessary cost of our new life emerging, a sacrifice of old hopes, dreams and ideals.  Much of this is not fully conscious when it is happening, only made obvious once we are to some degree on our way out of the dark woods, Dante spoke of.

I guess this is what I am feeling today, this sense of emerging from the dark wood.  I am aware the transiting Sun is just following Mercury out of the 12th house of my chart today.  Mars is about half a sign behind it, still buried deep in the middle of the 12th house (but soon to be leaving the sign Cancer of deep memory and feelings).  Today I am feeling the warmth of some of the Sun’s rays emerging over the horizon. There is a dim light at this stage and it is not as dark and cold as it was.  I am getting insights into so much.

I had a huge outburst a few weeks ago with my family.  I unleashed the Furies on them over a lot of stuff I had been internalising (in true Mars Saturn Moon in the 6th fashion) over many years.  At the time the Furies were mirrored back to me in a sense of outrage and yet the relationship survived the unleashing of it.   Getting it out of my system has helped me.  The two people involved have Saturn square to my Moon, Mars, Sun, Venus and Mercury and smack bang on my natal Neptune.  Where I want to go deep, there I hit a wall.  It is a necessary wall.  It is a wall that will help me to mature,  it is a wall that will make my unruly idealistic self righteous Uranus in the first come to grips with some painful realities that don’t live up to my Promethian ideal.

Last week I re read the book The Scapegoat Complex by Sylvia Bretton Perrera and saw my journey on many pages.  I came across the following that seemed to sum up where I am at the moment:

She …(began) to sacrifice her demand for a perfect mirroring from her therapist and her family as she began to sacrifice the demand for a lost paradise state and to accept the true burden that was her life.

The burden in my case is the burden of a childhood in which insufficient mirroring and bonding was given to help me deal with painful feelings and develop a healthy relationship with them, my body, my true feelings and self, with my insides.  This burden led me to addiction and to much damage the full pain of which had to be felt, the true anger of which borne with and transformed, integrated over time.  In her book Perrera associates the Scapegoated Individual as the one who is marked out as the shit eater.  In myth there is a figure who takes the shadow stuff of the family, into its mouth, all the poisons and transforms them.  This she has seen is often the role of someone in the family who has to carry the burden of rejected qualities and feelings.

One of the complex and thorny problems of having suffered and failed to develop a healthy narcissism in childhood relates to our tendency to identify with the victim role and with suffering as a lifestyle.  Our inverted healthy narcissism fallen into the shadows acts as a magnet to attract us to overt narcissists who cannot honor us, as we cannot honor ourselves.  The pain of this sets us on a journey to heal.  Suffering is the price of our release.

Learning new ways to be with and contain intense and painful feelings and understand the message they have for us, brings an end to unnecessary suffering.  Letting go of the victim/scapegoat role, frees those of us who have suffered under it for a new life, one in which we love even our most vulnerable feeling self without apology or shame and in and through loving it mature, learning to make less impossible, unrealistic demands.  In the ending of that old pattern, lies our new beginning.  We can let pain go and recognise it as our necessary teacher.

Its a fine line this, feeling our pain to contain, transform and release it without  being trapped by it, weighed under buried or drowned.  Maybe for a time we do drown but if we can keep with it we will surface again.  Pain will leave its scars on us, through these we will become human, humble, both small and large, but not in a grandiose but rather a majestic way.  One that lets us be a light and recognise ourselves as part of a greater light, one we can share and spread and use to warm our souls and the souls of others following behind on the same path out of the dark night, into the light.

The Magic of Self Empowerment

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It never ceases to amaze me, but even years after coming out of a relationship with a narcissist I can still have times when the pull of that connection and all that happened during the time it lasted comes back to me. At these times I lose the sense that the narcissist was a narcissist and I think, perhaps it was me that got it wrong, and after all that is what I was conditioned to believe by them.  I have just noticed a post on Kim Saeed’s site that caused me to think of an issue I often encountered with the narcissist.  That is, he would tell me how difficult it was to love someone like me, a person with so many issues and irritating habits.

http://letmereach.com/2014/09/21/to-the-woman-whos-made-to-feel-like-shes-difficult-to-love/

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend about depression, grief and sadness, but particularly about something I believe, that in our modern culture we often don’t differentiate all that well between the three.   I have been no stranger to sadness, have had to carry my fair share and I also thing that some people are more temperamentally inclined to see into the so called “darker” side of human experience. Often early experiences predispose them to this.  These kind of experiences lead us to distrust.  If we have been subject to invalidation, hurt and humiliation, especially in our earliest source relationships it is likely we might attract this again and be very wary or hyper-vigilant to such mistreatment.  These traumatic experiences incline us to carry a reservoir of pain and sadness or suspicion that is an apt response to what happened to us.

In this case in later life we can tend to believe that this is what we will encounter in the world, and in some situations we will, but not in all. Its about learning what we attract, what is valid, what is healing, what is hurtful, what needs to be taken on board and what needs to be ignored or let go.  If we have been the subject, especially of covert aggression or emotional abuse it is essential that we can see it and name it for what it is.

Often the people who have “sinned” against us as covert aggressors have a desire for us not to see what they are doing, they are quick to deny it, denigrate us, call our perceptions into question, turn the tables on us or make a joke of us and our “over sensitivity”. Understanding how covert aggression can be directed at us is most important for us, in order to escape from the crazy making labyrinth of tangled meaning and projected blame which is a cover for their own lack of empathy that these people weave for us, and from which it can be so difficult to extricate ourselves.

“Sometimes the abuse narcissists inflict on their relationship partners can be quite subtle, especially at first.  For example, because in their own eyes they can do no wrong, when something bad happens, it’s always their partner’s fault.  As a result, the partner can become the target not only the object of blame but also the target of the narcissist’s ridicule, disdain, maltreatment. Gaslighting and even sadistic torment.  Most folks who, for some reason, found themselves drawn to a narcissist early on begin really feeling regret at this point in the relationship. But this kind of abusive behavior often happens so subtly and incrementally that it takes a whole lot of being subjected to it before the victim finally sees the light.

Source :   http://www.manipulative-people.com article : Narcissism-and-relational-abuse-both-active-and-passive

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Certainly in my relationship with the narcissist, one big issue that caused problem was the sadness and grief I carried over my father’s death, the ending of my marriage, 16 years of alcoholism in which I surrendered myself and a host of hurtful incidents where I found myself to be alone and discarded.  Showing any serious emotion would invite a tirade of abuse about how it affected the narcissist. Lacking emotional depth my narcissistic partner was not comfortable with displays of sadness and grief and most especially wanted me to be over the pain so that his life could run more smoothly. The law would be laid down over how I needed to change, so as to make him feel more at peace. I can certainly understand that it was distressing and yet the implications was that my grief and pain was damaging to him, just as my period pain was, after all it left him “so alone”.

At this stage in my life I was still in core trauma and still working to develop awareness.  Finding a way to heal involved taking flight from nearly all toxic relationships and I ended up wounded by traumatic injuries which were my body’s way of expressing the violence that was done to me in earlier years. It is only recently in reading Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery that I have come to understand this.  Judith writes that when people who have been emotionally or physically abused come into therapy they carry the violence of their perpetrators as a third entity in the healing relationship.  I have certainly experienced this  The hurt and anger that could never  be felt, as it was denied by our abusers has to be felt, understood, expressed and released.  Only in this way can we find relief from our symptoms.  The difficult thing is that when such anger and rage comes out it can force others away from us , re-traumatising us further.

At the end of my relationship with the narcissist he told me “I deserved a commendation for sticking with you so long.” Ouch!!!! And Urrggghh?  How even to reply to that? I think silence was the best response, but not one I was capable of at the times.  I could not yet see nonsense as nonsense. I did not yet love myself enough to let it go.

The more powerful point was this : Did I believe it to be true? Finding a way out of believing it to be true has taken quite a number of years and still on some days, when I am feeling emotionally fragile and when the world has turned against me again for being in pain or feeling suicidal I can slip back into thinking it was, indeed all my fault. But was it my fault that I carried this emotional history and the bodily impact of it?

before-you-diagnose-yourself-with-depression-or-low-self-esteem

The most telling thing for me now and the thing which now determines the kinds of people I stay close to is this. How comfortable are they in allowing me to express the truth of what I feel inside, even when it is dark our uncomfortable for them.

Last Monday at my support group there was a movement to silence people sharing information of their abusive pasts that was “too confronting” for other members. One person there who this applied to was quick to say she would not be coming back, if that was to be the case. I’ve seen so many people walk away from this group due to this issue before. The point is, what if they have nowhere else to go to speak about what happened to them?

Several of us spoke to this issue at the meeting on Monday. The truth is I don’t believe that such things are depression, suicidal thoughts and feelings and murderous rage are illnesses or dis-eases. I believe they are valid responses to a traumatised and traumatising past, especially an emotionally invalidating or abusing one.

I was part of an AA recovery for six years from the age of 31. But over time I became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of alcoholism as a disease. Reading more and undergoing my own recovery over years has shown me that it is in fact, a response to traumas or attachment problems conscious or unconscious. It is a way of self medicating pain that is too much too bear as well. That is not to say it works. But the greater issue is do we see it as a cause or a symptom of something else?

In my own case I do believe in recovering that empowerment has been the most important thing. Empowerment to know that what I have endured is true, that it has caused wounds but also a strength, that becomes available to me once I can identify those wounds and move toward awareness and healing. That strength can only be found to the degree that I am empowered to know the full truth of what I have experienced. In the finding of channels to express this truth where it will be validated I find my empowerment. Without this sense of empowerment I may remain a victim forever trapped in a limited idea of myself as an “alcoholic” when in fact I have not drunk in many years.

In the relationship that I started this blog talking about, in time my partner left as he was more comfortable and in tune with people who drank. I never foist my non drinking on anyone else. In fact my ex husband drank throughout the 11 years of our marriage. He didn’t have a problem with it and I never interfered with nor commented on his drinking. In the case of my ex narcissist partner, in the end what he valued in me, ie my abstinence from drugs and alcohol for him became a reason why I was flawed. Perhaps I was a bit at fault on those times when he did drink and was scared to reveal it to me as he feared my reaction, something I found it difficult to understand. I don’t think I would ever judge someone for drinking but perhaps having seen the damage it can do and the way it spins people off course from deeper emotional truths I lost tolerance for it at times. God knows I’m far from perfect. Life has just forced me to make certain choices for my own emotional health.

Since I’ve been thinking a lot about empowerment lately, I had a little inward smile andn ah ha!! moment when I checked the ephemeris the other night and saw that Pluto the planet of transformation, empowerment and healing is due to move forward in a few days.   My interest in empowerment is a result of having felt so disempowered for years and looking to people, places and things that, at times stole my power. Rather I gave it away to those channels, not knowing better.  Finding my power again has been about finding and connection to the deeper emotions and reactions I had to bury in order to be considered “nice” and amenable in my mixed up schooling, parenting and relationships.

Something I do know the darker Plutonian emotions such as shame, guilt, fear, anger, grief and sadness all have had so much to teach me about what it is to be human. At times I feel so sad that these are the very emotions denigrated by our society. It seems these days that if you have depression there is not a recognition of the powerful cocktail of mixed emotions that this can contain. Surely there is much gold there within the dark of pain and suffering that can be mined for meaning once we become aware of the deep causes that lead us to become disempowered and stuck in a victim or post traumatic freeze.  When animals are traumatised they come out fighting and shaking.  As Peter Levine has shown this is how they throw off the trauma.  So it is with us.  Contacting our disabused power might not look “pretty” but it is essential to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing. And is this not, the deeper way we begin to come in contact with our souls and become embodied as vital spirits alive and present on planet earth?

The poet John Keats said that we should call this world the vale of soul making. In that way would we come to know the purpose of the world. Certainly this isn’t a common view but it is one that attracts me. These days I feel drawn to soulful people, the ones who are willing to allow the pain time to percolate in order to transform into something richer.

This is the main reason I broke contact with my last therapist. The implication was that things needed to be fixed…. Maybe she took it as a reflection on her competence that this should occur. But where was the notion that it might take some time, some support, some containment, some holding. I thought that was what cranio sacral therapy was for. Obviously I was mistaken.   Another dis-appointment, or reality check, rather. However as I have contained the experience over this past week I have come to a sense of peace about it.  The most important thing for me is to understand and act on my own genuine feelings and truth.  This is not to say validation is not necessary, especially when we have been confused by abusers and disempowered.  I have been lucky to have friends who have validated me.

What I guess I am trying to say in this blog is this: believe in yourself, trust your emotional reality, even when people try to get you to distrust it or tell you it is wrong.  Look for and surround yourself with those people who encourage you to express your truth.

In my last blog I shared an interpretation of co-dependency by John Lee where he said that co dependents repeatedly betray their values. This has stayed with me. I have natal Venus square to natal Neptune and this to me seems one description of what could happen under that kind of aspect. I look back to all the times I betrayed my own values. Now with Saturn’s passage maybe that is ending. Suffering has given me pause and has been the rich fertiliser that has given birth to insight. For this I am grateful, in and through this, I have found peace.

I’m beginning to feel a sense of lightness and joy that has been absent for so many years.  Lately I have been  dancing around my living room a lot, feeling the joy that comes from unrestricted, expressive movement, just as I did as a child before I became bound up and confined emotionally.  On some level I am busting out of the prison that has kept me caged up for so many years.

Who knows?  What the narcissist said about me, had nothing to do with me, but paradoxically it may even have been a projection of my own inner critical voice attracted by me so I could undergo this journey, this healing and this learning.  What ever it was on some level I am grateful for that relationship. I know it was not an accident or a sign of something wrong and it appeared in my life when Saturn moved into my first house, awakening all my Saturn, Moon, Mars, Chiron, Pluto issues for healing.  It was a sign of something to learn from and grow through. Seeing it in this light as Pluto slows to move forward in my 5th house of personal power brings me a comfort and peace that feels warm to me.  I feel the inner fire and enfold myself within it.  Often lately I hear the words.  Tend the inner fire, stay close to your centre.  It is here I feel joy, it is here I feel and find my inner peace.