The wave and the whale

I felt your sadness

like a wave

entering me

as our conversation ended

My heart aches for you,

all the things you suffered,

all the ways you were prevented

from expressing your heartbreak

I sit quietly with my self

letting this wave roll on

I feel powerless

I pray to a higher power

to take care of you

I know I cannot help

I can only love

I can only try

to reach out

across the seemingly unbridgeable distance

between me and your soul.

I am reminded of

a dream I dreamt

many years ago

you and I walking along a beach

close to the water

coming across a beached whale

One of us said

“The whales are such sad creatures.”

Today I think

of what may have been buried

ancestrally over generations

and may be only

finding its way to the surface

in both our lives now

There is so much I cannot express

I want to protect you

I don’t want you to be alone

but just maybe

you need this aloneness

or it is all you know

Memories of our older sister

and her pain echo here

It is a vast ocean

this pain we know

and have entered many times

These days I know

it is only a part of my soul.

I cannot live there permanently anymore

I will only visit for a time

from time to time.

Yet as long as I love you

I will keep reaching out

as I realise

just how difficult it is

to let you go.

My wish

This a cry from the heart blog which comes from a very raw and vulnerable place.  I just spoke to my sister and when I ended the call, I was brimming with sadness and inside my heart from the ache I was feeling came the cry “I wish my sister wasn’t on medication”.

I also wish my sister had never had to go through the violence of shock treatment which she did two years ago. I felt sick today while we were talking, my sister is suffering really bad nausea and a headache because she has recently had her medication changed. I cannot tell you how many different medications she has been on over the past 10 years but after her suicide attempt two years ago I had to take home a bag of empty packets she used and there were about five different meds in it. When I googled several of them I read the following “may cause (amongst a heap of other things) anxiety”. WTF.

Sorry is it obvious I am in a recovery programme and have been for over 20 years and I HATE THE FUCKING MEDICALISAED PSYCHIATRIC SYSTEM which offers fuck all insight into childhood at times and just resorts to drugs?

While my sister was in intensive care following the suicide attempt in 2013 a doctor asked me :

“why is your sister on an anticonvulsive.”

I was so distressed that I exploded.

“You want to fucking know why, because they don’t have a clue, they play Russian roulette with her meds and take a look at the result, without any awareness we have a family history of alcoholism on my mother’s side.”

I expected them to send in the men with white coats and put me in a straight jacket, following my angry outburst.  I had really screamed in the middle of the ICU unit.  Instead I was stunned to see them treat me with tenderness and a new found respect. The nurses took me to another room and sat me down while I began to cry and tell them about our history. They had put my sister on yet more medication which they then decided to stop. They showed real compassion and care for me and for my sister.

Possibly my sister needs to be on meds as it is clear she cannot manage her moods alone and without this, but never the less it makes me feel so very sad to see what she has to go through and the lack of emotional nurture and insight that at times surrounds her. My heart breaks for her. I wish she had a therapist, that she could explore the impact of her childhood, and our family with, as I have done as I believe it may help her more, but in the end it’s not my decision and its out of my power and control.

At the moment I am just aware that my sister is suffering deeply and I can’t do anything but call her, show my support, concern and love and then let go to focus on my own recovery.

I can also share about these feelings in a blog for at the moment there is no recovery meeting to go to pour it out.  Just being able to voice it in this space will help me to process and come to terms with my feelings and the burden I feel in seeing another sister suffer in this awful way with so many memories of how my other sister ended up at the end of her life bloated from all the drugs they gave her that never took away the deeper pain she suffered until it all got to much and death came for her last year.

Having written this I am aware both sisters could have tried to find a healthier way, but could not.  This gives me the incentive to keep working hard to heal myself and make healthy choices and find a way to deal with the feelings in a positive way.

A Healing with my Sister

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I received an apology from my sister today. It was truly from the heart. It broke through the wall of all my anger which was really a cry for love, for respect, for understanding. It is not always easy being the younger sister. It probably wasn’t easy for my sister to have a younger sister, particularly when she hit puberty and I was just an annoyance. Never the less I would have loved to have a sister who was kinder.

My oldest sister who died was always more loving to me, taking me on holidays and away from the emotional vacancy of my growing up years with a Mum who didn’t really want to spend any time, but was working two jobs and tired all of the time. I was just a handful, a burden that was a bit too much to bear. So it hit all the harder when my older sister was the one who went under in the most painful way with a brain haemorrhage.

It was a very formative time in my life, no one’s fault but it made that adolescent time, already made difficult by my near fatal car crash and three months suspended in skeletal traction at the age of 17, harder. It was two major traumas in a six month period and the trauma with my older sister extended over many years.

I can’t expect anyone who has not been through that to understand, some show empathy. At times I feel a bit anxious sharing on here about it all the time. Is that a narcissistic pursuit? For me telling my story over and over is a way of healing and it is necessary for trauma sufferers but we need some validation with this.

Anyway back to my other sister’s apology. I have watched her struggle through several breakdowns now, five separate hospitalisations including one that involved extensive shock treatment, which was horrific to me, but others swear it helps them. I would have liked her to be treated in a more loving way, but the truth is when she would be in a manic flight, she was really difficult to be around, taking over control of everything, being very invasive at times and very brash and harsh in her speech. Nine years on she has no memory of much of the nasty things she said. I wish I did not take it to heart, was tougher and able to shrug it off, but that isn’t me.

I guess what was affecting my sister was the illness, not her true self underneath that was struggling for expression after coming out of a less than satisfying marriage. She went through a lot of loss and change and was trying to support several people she love through death. In the end it all took its toll.   But sometimes it was hard to feel for the vulnerable, soft person underneath who seemed to be hiding. Sometimes (most times) I just could not access that part of her.

It’s not like that now but the memory of those past nastinesses have haunted me and some of her words have remained lodged in my body psyche like pieces of schrapnel. All I really wanted was acknowledgement of this, a genuine sorry and that is what happened today. That sorry helped to break down and express the longing I have to be close. I don’t know how close we can be as we are very different people but I have the desire in my heart to love and be loved by my sister.

Last Friday we finally laid my oldest sister’s ashes to rest. This had to wait over 14 months due to both my mother and my other sister being hospitalised, twice since then, the first time on the day of the funeral. This week I am conscious that something very deep and dark stirred within me. My body has carried and buried a lot, this time it rose up which is par for the course when we have had so many planets in the watery sign of Cancer.   My body felt water logged.

Yesterday there was huge confrontation. This time of year the shift from water to fire is always tumultuous as the Sun opposes my Mars Saturn Moon in the sixth.   Sixth house Mars energy tends to get buried and there is a real need to express but we tend to internalise. The anger I felt came out in a huge blast, I probably could have handled it better if I was more aware but I could only do what I could do.

Once it blows Moon Mars energy is usually spent very quickly and I’ll move on, Saturn thrown into the mix though tends to indicate I’ll meet external Saturn defences which I’ve internalised and give me a lot of fear around emotional expression.  Strong Neptune and a lot of seventh house planets make me fear conflict.

I’m glad for myself I was able to bring this out of the shadows yesterdy. While Mum found it hard to validate the way I really feel, going through this made me realise how a lack of validation and other intense frustrations have shaped me and this helps me to be more aware and learn others of bringing it to light.

I was able to feel more real love for my sister whose apology was so genuine and underneath I felt the love and compassion that was eclipsed when the harder side of her comes out. Mercury opp Moon doesn’t always have an alignment between heart and head, my sister’s Virgo moon probably feels deeply but is reserved, Mercury Pisces plumbs the emotional depths but they are hard to articulate.   And our mutual Chiron Mars aspects end up causing us both problems at times.

I’m feeling so much more peace tonight. I’ve learned a lot over the past 36 hours. I have love in my heart where before there was pain. Loosing Judith my older sister was both hard and also a relief as she suffered so much and was on too many drugs at the end of her life.  Its been hard to fear my sister going down a similar pathway.   I see the way she is trying to front up and deal with things.  I know that can be tough.  I no longer feel such a gulf between us.  I am so grateful for the precious gift of that apology.

The trouble with normal

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I cant hide it, I just have a problem with the whole idea of normal and it seems to me that there just seems to be so little acceptance in the majority of things out there that cause us some discomfort or are a little off kilter.   I can be guilty of it myself and its subtle thing, at times I can have my ideas of how things should be, the way in which people should react and deep hopes often for more compassion and empathy than seems to be the norm, but that’s just me and its the way I have been since I was young.

I recently met up with an old school friend who like me crashed and burned with alcohol.  We didn’t have heaps to do with each other at school but I like her and was not aware of the abuse and suffering she underwent being only one gay oriented person within an all girl’s school, as well as gifted and intelligent to boot.  Maybe these were the very things that marked her out as “different”,  I don’t know.  Of all of my friends from that period of my life who have come back into my life over the past few years on returning to my home town, I most enjoyed the time meeting up with my friend and we were able to have a depth of connection that I just don’t find possible with some of the others of that year.

It was great to have realised, too that even all that long time ago someone saw the struggle I was having, that my alcohol abuse was out of control and yet not to be judged for that, but rather, deeply understood.  What has brought this to mind is that I have just been reading a blog with concerned someone with Asperger’s being judged as disabled, a label with which the writer was justifiably upset.  I could relate to a lot of the things she shared about the way she processes experiences, not all, but quite a lot and in fact I didn’t really see anything at all that “abnormal” about it.

I have a sister who is really struggling at the moment.  She has been given a label by her sons.  That label is “bi-polar”.  I have a problem with this kind of labelling.  I really truly do.  For so often its a way of escaping a deeper understanding of what the person is dealing with.  The map is definitely not the territory.  I was blessed enough this week to have been given a beautiful little book on grief by a friend in my Al Anon group called Good Grief.  In it the author who comes from both a spiritual and a medical background lays out simply and beautifully some of the core facts surrounding the grief process.  Grief is a result of loss, it is a natural reaction to the taking away, turning upside down or ripping apart of a certain order of being in our life, of places, people and things which were very dear to us.   In my experience it has a profound impact upon the entirety of our being, mind, body, heart and soul.  Its not something that can be intellectualised about although coming to terms with the impact of the loss will take us along certain pathways of philosophising or reaching for truisms in order to try to make sense of the loss.  But the impact of the loss will bring about profound changes with which we will struggle and it will also, in many cases lead us to physical symptoms and even diseases all of which are manifestations of grief, often not recognised as such, especially in the absence of deeper emotional insight.

It may seem a strange thing to say but we need permission to grieve.  There is much damage done to us when those around us will not allow us to recognise and express the full extent of our grief.  This has been my experience.  In the low nurturance family grief will not be allowed or there may be certain beliefs around what is wrong and right to express.  In my sister’s case much of her so called bi-polar behaviour surrounded not only grief from things taken but an even deeper grief denied over years.  Of being but down by her husband and having sons who learned to do the same,  of being hurt by nuns who were supposed to be nurturing her profound musical talent and so contributing to her loss of her love for piano, of being the lost child in the family in the third position where her energies were put from a young age into the service of others desires and needs.   Of being the caring “good” girl who gave so much and when she got burned out from exhaustion due to a lack of self care then fell down in a huge heap only to be abandoned by the person who was supposed to love her.

I visited my sister on Sunday in the hospital.  Her face was sallow and sad all the life and vitality sucked dry.  We sat for a while and as usual, I cried, I can’t help it when I am around her the tears just come down in a flood.  We then went and did a jigsaw puzzle.  I asked her about the new drug she is on.  Then when it was time to go I looked back to see her standing behind the glass waving me goodbye and my heart tore apart.

Last night I rang my nephew to try and make some kind of impact on him, to find some care for my sister where she does not need to be medicated but can be nurtured, cared for, healed.  He was matter of a fact and on his way home from business.  I felt sick after the call, even though he agreed with me on some points, the feeling was absent.  I felt scalded after I got off the phone.

As a recovering addict for years I beat myself up for my so called dysfunction, but what I now know it was a way of surviving in a so called “normal” situations which was emotionally barren.  The addiction was a way of wrapping some kind of protection around me.   When talking to my old school friend last week, she told me she would have died without the medication of alcohol.  When I heard of the extent of abuse she had suffered from her mother and school buddies I could only agree.  When there is no where to go suicide may seem the only option, but then there is also recovery which is finding a place with others who have undergone similar experiences and feel themselves to be outsiders, just not normal.

So I guess its not difficult to understand that I have a problem with “normal”, I’d rather not partake and am slowly learning to judge myself less for not being able to live up to something that in the end would have only killed me.

Death brings healing

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I have been studying eclipse periods for some years and have noticed that significant deaths often accompany eclipses. which is not unusual since eclipse seasons rule endings and new beginnings. My sister passed away at 3.30 am Eastern Standard time on Easter Sunday morning, 20th April.  Two other friends have lost their fathers prior to today’s solar eclipse and following the full moon lunar eclipse and one of our dog park visitors sadly lost his 14 year companion, Muriel and was grieving today when his owners bought him out on a gorgeous, sunny autumn day. As the world turns towards a new season, souls have gone home.

My sister died of a deep seated and untreatable lung infection.  She was sixty eight years of age.  Her family were gathered around her over the final 48 hours of her life.  Her four sons had only been together with her twice in a 30 year period and were with her until two hours before her death.  I had sat with her for most of the two previous evenings and I felt deep in my heart that it was time to let go and say goodbye at 1 am which is when I left the hospital.  She had been removed from life support at 11.30 pm and seemed to be rallying, however that was just my wishful thinking.  Despite her tenacity, she finally let go.

My sister knew a lot of suffering, betrayal, loss, tragedy but she also loved life.  Although wheelchair bound and bed ridden for much of the past 8 years, she was a creative and vibrant spirit who bought laughter and love into the lives of so many of the beautiful people whose paths crossed hers and who cared for her in her later years.

It was so touching at her funeral to hear such happy stories of the joy she but into some of the carers lives and witness the amount of love pouring out from their hearts to hers.  It made me realise that death, although sad is such a profound passage that possibly brings gifts to our lives.

My sister was separated from her four sons, several years following a massive cerebral bleed. The two youngest did not know that their mother did not choose this separation but was in fact removed from their lives by their father.  The two eldest were abandoned by their father and had to survive on their wits.  It developed a toughness and resilience in all of the boys and despite the pain, it was so inspiring to see that part of them remained forever non corrupted by the challenges of their past, although deeo scars remain, they have worked to grow in love and understanding.

When I lost my own father I never had the experience of being supported in my grief.  I went over to the other side of the world alone and the grief became buried and acted out in addiction, until I began to stop self medicating and chose recovery.  Subsequent deaths have presented opportunities to feel what was too difficult to feel all those years ago due to lack of support.  It may be a strange truth but we actually need permission to grieve.  It is harder to grieve alone and a grief process can be actively blocked especially in certain families.  I have experienced a lot of problems in my own life due to repressed and somatised grief (grief buried in the body0>

I felt incredibly blessed during the brief time that we all had to say goodbye to my sister and over the following week that led to funeral, that I was supported and could support my nephews in their grief.  I cannot tell you the healing that has come to me during this time, a time in which we have been able to talk about some of the traumas we endured.  I have been witness to the struggles of the younger two who now have loving partners and are well on the way to establishing beautiful families of their own.  And although my sister is dead her amazing gifts now live on into the next generation. These include: generosity, creativity, resilience, intelligence, wisdom, penetrating insight, love and care for others less fortunate, artistic talents, ingenuity.   The darker traits are there too: powerful self will, a huge appetite for alcohol, stubbornness, intractability.

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My sister was a Sun sign Capricorn. Today I was re-reading some of Sylvia Bretton Perrera’s book The Scapegoat Complex and could not help but think of my sister when I read the following paragraphs, for following her breakdown and rejection by her partner she was exiled by part of my family, who though living less than 10 miles away never bothered to visit her. When family events occurred, birthdays, weddings and other celebrations she was in later years often excluded, a fact which used to cause me a lot of pain.  In witnessing this exile and the suffering it caused I could not help but think of the exiled goat which Perrera talks of who is cast out by the community with the sins of the collective on its head.  In mythic parlance this figure is given the name Azazel, The Goat of God.

Perrera writes:

Azazel was originally, a divinity symbolised and embodied in the goat, that lively, swift, high-climbing, yet earthy, sexually potent animal with a strong odor.  It is an animal both combative and nurturant, able to lie in inhospitable terrain and willing to be domesticated.  As horned god, the goat is an image of primal creative energy of the generative and destructive force of desire.  As ibex, its form appears on an early Sumerian cylinder seals, ritually rampant with the figure of the Great Goddess: the kid with the Mother.  There it suggests the instinctive forces of the Great Round, especially those which can be somewhat tamed for human benefit.

The goat was also sacred to a large number of other divinities,… All these divinities are associated with the ecstatic depths.  They compel, and sometimes mediate, the awesome truth of reality through passionate encounter with affect states that grip the soul and are experienced as transpersonal dismemberments and renewals. They are the states which the laws of Yahweh sought to order and limit.  Thus Azazel was posited as the divinity of the place outside Hebrew collective life.

Azazel then was once a horned and herdsman god of nature, a fertility daimon, a healer, an expression of the creative process in art, and a consort of the Great Goddess, alternating in his office with the farmer god.

All these aspects of the goat have been lost to Judeo Christian culture, although they have remained in pagan and folk tradition.  Within the dominant stream of culture in the West the goat is identified with Satan and the demonic energies of the accusing Azazel.  This has ensured repression of the qualities the collective rejects.  The goat god himself has been made to stand against very life forces he originally mediated into collective life.  As demon an punisher, his image warns away those who would seek him.

In scapegoat identified individuals’ material, the goat often appears after the complex is partially worked through. Awareness of the complex forces a particular set of relations to the horned goat god, as one rediscovers for the modern culture the enormous creative energies symbolised in the image.  Initally, the goat appears as an ambiguous figure.  On the one hand it is felt to be excessively wild and untamed impulsivity.  On the other hand, it holds creative and erotic potential.

Perrera goes on to explain how this complex played out in the life of one client with the Azazel figure forcing a repression by a judgemental inner figure against her own needs and assertiveness, while at the same time making her a victim of violent eruptive rages.  This was a complete mirroring of my own sister’s story and some of the incidents in which this occurred where told to me by my nephews following my sister’s death.  I knew these erruptions well, our mother with a Capricorn Moon had them.  I have experienced them myself.

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The aggressive instinct within during the process of this woman’s particular journey over time became humanised. The anger and rage which were in fact an explosive expression of an assertive drive split off in childhood as a result of dynamics with both parents and grown huge with the subsequent repression, could slowly transform expression over time, as the repression was lifted and the impulsive raw energy regulated over time.

In my sister’s case, without the benefit of this kind of therapeutic intervention and after years of medication, sadly my sister’s eruptive rage could not be totally tamed and integrated into concsicousness and yet its energy fuelled a vast creativity that was able to find avenues of expression even though she had, over years become totally dependent on others for care and could not be moved without mechanical assistance.  Her destructive choice of partners was her Achilles heel.  The last alcoholic beat my sister and left her only to return when her circumstances had improved and he could prey on her again.  Due to my sister;s lack of self protection she attracted this destructive force into her life and bore the consequences and yet she never blamed him, for on some level the need to be associated with someone who had gone through wounding experiences and had turned toward booze for comfort was too powerful.  .

On her birthday in January, a group of us gathered to celebrate with my sister, she received many beautiful gifts.  At one point as she was unwrapping a necklace, she burst into tears.  “I don’t deserve any of this.”   I will never really know exactly what thoughts went through my sisters head.  On collecting the clothing that she would be buried in one of the carers said to me.  “Your sister was a very tortured individual.”  Did she know her history?  Did she understand all my sister had been through?  Yet I knew there was some truth in those words.  And yet there was more to her even than this.

The Great Round chose to take my sister home on Easter Sunday.  As autumn leaves are falling here and we pass into winter, yet another leaf has fallen from the great tree of my family.

New connections have been made over the funeral time.  Healings have begun in my family, unravelled threads are beginning to be tied back.  Spending time with two of my nephews has opened up a dialogue around their wounds, the manner in which one, himself seeks comfort from alcohol.  We even had our own mini explosion of energy in the early hours following my sister’s funeral which, rather than creating a rupture opened up deeper insight into how energies that could not find a new balance in my sister’s life are now seeking a new balance in the lives of the ancestors who remain.  During this time as Mars has retrograded through the sign of relationship and balance, Libra new balances are being found and the entire experience around the funeral, the way in which we were able to support each other and consider each other’s vulnerabilities and factor in care has been an amazing process to behold.

On the eve of my sister’s death as I sat in the ICU and watched each person saying their goodbyes to my beloved sister tears fell. I cannot begin to express the profound welling up of consciousness and healing that came, for what I understood was, how even in the darkest of times there is a light that shines within, that life is a blessing even with all the challenges it presents, how innocent we really are and how impersonal life really is and yet, at times we take it so personally.   In the end although I grieved, I actually felt a lightness, joy and peace at my sister’s passing.  She will be missed and yet I don’t feel she is all that far away. She lives on all around me and our journey goes on with the memory of all we shared which will be a light to guide us forward into the next chapter of the story that is unfolding.