I am having a very slow, deep, sad time at the moment and still things are not totally dark. There is so much light around, but its just that I am so aware of this weary, deep rooted sadness, like finding myself at the end of a long journey that seemed to take me in the very wrong direction and caused so much anguish along the way as I flailed this way and that, trying to find a way through the world, while feeling deep within the intimation or pull of something far, far deeper that could not be fully expressed or communicated. But maybe in some way all is not lost or sad as this blog of mine which I started at the end of last year is helping me to find some avenue of expression, a way to be naked and transparent about what I am feeling really, with no inner censor there to put the stops on that. (Not that I don’t get that still on some level. Just reading back the second sentence my inner critic said that it was too long and ran on. Never the less I’m going to leave it as it is 🙂 ).
I have felt that the true expression of who I am and what is in my soul, is just not okay for certain people in my life. I’m not one who is going to control the way you express yourself. I see that as your right to live as the person you want to be and feel yourself to be. Maybe that’s why it troubles me like hell when I see other people doing it and have it done to me, over and over and over again. And yet at some deeper level I know I cant even argue with that, that is, with certain individual’s way of expressing against me because the reality is this : that way of being is part of who they are. On some level it has nothing to do with me anyway. It is beyond my control. If it bugs me to the point of hurting me. these perceptions help me to let go and move away from what hurts. I still need to honour my feelings, otherwise depression results..
In one way I am still in a learning process around feelings and other people’s reaction to them. I’m still learning about my feelings and finding ways to feel okay about having and expressing them. Sometimes too, I realise I don’t really know what my feelings are about, they just start to burst out of me. That’s the way it is with feelings they are of another realm to thought. Instinctive, body centred. It is only much later after some time has passed that I am more aware of where my feelings come from and what triggered them. I am also aware that with the level of loss and trauma I have had there are layers and layers of feeling and sometimes feelings and reactions, such as lashing out in anger, hide other deeper feelings of powerlessness and grief. While sometimes lashing out is a cry of my soul to be free from bondage and misunderstanding,
These reflections are all prompted by some time away in the city I moved to following my father’s death. I moved from a smaller town to the closest big city after returning from two years overseas in Europe when I was in my mid twenties. My father had died in 1985 and it was in 1987 I returned to my home town to find I wanted something more than the life on offer there, My mother had remarried very quickly, in a bid to escape the depth of her own grief, there was no place for me with her and her new husband. And so I made the decision to move to the city. I now know I was carrying a lot of inner struggle and was well on my way to becoming a binge drinker and alcoholic.
This city was the place I endured a lot of things and in time I was married and found recovery there. I began to start the journey of self discovery. Time led me over to Europe again and then back to the coast of our country to the family home the was at the centre of six years of trauma and loss following my accident. When my husband and I moved back to the coast things were tough finding work. I was still stuck in trauma and could not really face moving back to the city. My marriage ended as a result.
And so on returning last week there were many memories and complex emotions kicking around inside me. I felt a sense of aliveness and promise being back there, a realisation that the tough times there were all for the purpose of me growing as a person. But the depths of feelings were more complex. Perhaps I was feeling sad because back in 2003 I could not find the courage to return there and so a phase of life ended and was closed. Moving back to the city would have saved my marriage. And yet there was something deep within me I was trying to honour by remaining on the coast and journeying inward, a journey my husband could not support.
Sometimes I have questioned: did that choice really carry me to a place of greater life and love? Or was it a resistance to moving forward on some level. As I question this I realise resistance speaks of something important that was going on and even my self doubt and questioning is a reflection of much earlier invalidation. In the end I wish to be a person who embraces the wholeness of life and doesn’t just slice it into manageable pieces and so loose something in that translation. But might this be part of my problem? Is it a problem? Or is it just part of what makes me, me? So many questions. And yet it is what it is. It became what it now is due to the choices I made. All of which now make me, me with the feelings I have.
As happens when I start to write I travel down a path with many twists and turns and what prompted the starting of this piece was the experience I had of a river of sadness opening up for me, on the last night in that city. I was with my family, which is never really very easy. This was trip my sister had arranged to give my mother some light relief from a year of pain. The loss of my sister, my other sister’s hospitalisation and recovery and my mother’s own health issues. So as you can imagine they were not very impressed when on the last night I met them in the bar and a flood of sadness poured out.
“What’s wrong” my mother said. “I thought we were here to have a happy time.” (implication : you are now spoiling it by your sadness.) Inside I’m thinking I FUCKING HATE THAT QUESTION. FOR GOD’S SAKE I AM FEELING SAD, I DONT HAVE WORDS FOR ALL THE SADNESS, ITS JUST SADNESS. I COULD TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE SADNESS BUT I DONT KNOW IF THAT WOULD HELP AND TO SEE SADNESS AS WRONG AND BAD, WELL I JUST FEEL EVEN SADDER ABOUT THAT. WOULD IT KILL YOU TO EMBRACE ME AND JUST GIVE ME A HUG. (I was able to say these things to my Mum a few days later in a calm manner, but it took some reflecting and sorting out to do so.)
Needless to say a ten minute agony ensued as an argument took place over whether they even wanted me at dinner if I was feeling so sad. And ended with me seeking a hiding place in the convention room in floods of tears and very close to packing up all of my bags and heading home on the late night bus. Instead I endured the morning of upset stares, starchy responses from my sister and sidelining from everyone else. I felt so alone when I got home and very depressed. I am still working my way through this depression and I am in and out of it. Less in it when I share with more empathetically attuned people and my support group.
Over the weekend, one of my very wise friends explained to me that she finds people get very threatened and confronted by people who show raw emotions, especially sadness and grief. (though I do feel this applies to anger as well, so much we equate anger with insanity ie. you’re “mad”) They hate it as it makes them feel inadequate, powerless and that things are out of control Rather than acknowledge that they feel that way, they start to get really angry and hostile. ” It has got very little to do with you really”, my friend said “and I know this might seem difficult but, in the end, its not personal”.
I think I can be okay with that if it means that is okay for me to have my sadness and to feel deeply about things. Where it bites me and enrages me is when my family try and turn it around to make me feel there is something wrong with me for feeling as I do and emphasising how painful it is for them, when really my feelings had bugger all to do with them, before they started personalising them. And yet I realise that I also need to accept the reality, that getting upset about this and reaching the conclusion that I am wrong or bad in some way leads me to a very painful, dark, lonely, hurting place. This is the land of no empathy turned back in on itself. This is a place I now realise and I have lived for years especially when their mistreatment, misunderstanding, lack of empathy and hard line responses led me into panic and a resulting serious accident the PTSD symptoms of which have troubled me over nine long years and caused the bust up of many friendships.
Having chewed over this experience over the past four day I realise that how may family respond to me is not something I can argue against, And what I have realised too, is that personal feelings, just are. I cant expect that just because someone says they love me they understand how I feel totally. That probably isn’t even their job. It is, however healing and causes me less sadness to be around more empathetic, emotionally aware people. My feelings aren’t bad or wrong. They are just feelings and when I can accept them and allow them to be, they usually pass through and don’t get all mixed up and complicated, as happened in this experience with my family. (An astrological note might be appropriate here, both my sister and Mum’s Saturn in Scorpio sit on my natal Neptune and square my Moon, Sun, Mercury, Venus and the North Node in Leo and my sister has Mars square the Sun and Venus and my Chiron is squared by her Mars and is conjunct her Sun/Venus. I must represent a part of her that she rejects in her quest for onwards and upwards. Says it all really 🙂 Her Mars cuts into me like a knife. But that’s not personal either, just affects me that way )
Why do we make feelings so wrong and demonise people who express them? I think so much more freedom could come for us, and especially me, if I can just accept that I feel a certain way. And what happened on that night shows me why, in my family, I learned not to feel what I felt and know what I know.
My family and particularly this bi polar sister like to portray a certain image to the world. My mother makes a point of being especially well turned out. She also comes from a generation that might not only have taught her to hide her real feelings, but gave her no place to express them. Her father died of war injuries her mother was left alone with a small child. My mother learned to cope by being strong and looking as good as she could On some level as an empath and her youngest I feel I connect to some of those buried feelings.
The sadness I felt at the end of our stay away, does not negate the happiness. We did have some enjoyable time in the trip, but as usual, there was no place for sadness. And the sadder thing is, the sadness that needed to be felt could have passed much quickly if permission was given for it to flow, instead it got banked up again and I had another restless few nights of twisting and turning and little sleep. When tears flowed the hurting passed but when they got banked up, I was in pain again. This makes me angry because I have fucking suffered due to going to the wrong places in trying to have feelings acknowledged. That pattern now can end as I have realised the lesson which has repeated over and over to drive its point home.
I do feel that the feelings issue is problematic in our culture. The Jungian psychoanalyst, Robert Johnson talks about our feeling wounded culture. How much better it might be if we were allowed avenues of sadness. given a place to feel what we need to feel. I am going to become a warrior for this, because I feel so passionate about it. My true feelings lead me home to me.
The walls we build around us to keep sadness out
also keeps out the joy.
I was touched on Monday night to watch a performance of the Veronicas, an Australian sister duo. When asked about the song they sung one of the sisters said it was about sadness. “There is something beautiful in sadness”, she said.
Wow I thought. Thank You. What is the problem we have with being sad? Isn’t it just another feeling? It wont kill us. I’m not talking about being morose, negative and down beat all the time, although I am sure there are reasons for being this way too. I just have a problem with those who have a problem with sadness. Cause as I see it the doorway to happiness often opens once we have fully walked the avenues of sadness we feel. That’s just my experience.
We would not know light without the dark and deep and there is always, I have felt, in fully felt sadness a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Feeling sad is just one part of the experience of being human on this planet. It can be a path that leads us home, to authenticity, to spirit, to life, to love and even to joy.