A vial containing our tears : reflections on grief and grieving

There is a beautiful psalm or bible passage that I cannot remember the reference to which says that God counts and collects each one of our tears.  In a culture which so often denigrates grief it is important for us to know that our sorrow is not unimportant or in vain.  The implication is so often that we need to ‘be over it’, not carry it forward or just make sure we don’t make others too uncomfortable around us, because it can be hard for those who have not dealt with or are familiar to a grieving process to understand how essential the shedding of tears is.

I watched a movie a few weeks ago about a painful loss called The Shack and in it Sam Worthington plays an adult child of an alcoholic and abusive Dad who ends up losing his youngest daughter to a violent crime.   The movie is about his quest to come to terms with the anger, pain, sadness and resentment he holds towards a God who he feels ‘has forsaken him’ in allowing such a terrible thing to happen.  He ends up being transported to a cottage where he lives for a time with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and in one scene the Asian singer/actress who plays the later part holds up a vial that is full of his tears.   

This image speaks to me of ‘holding’ and containment which are two things we can really struggle with if we are not surrounded by those who assist us and support us to grieve.   I know in my own life that after my father died and my partner abandoned me I went overseas with much unresolved grief.  I acted it out over the next 8 years of my active addiction and my recovery was a journey to find my way back to it in order to understand, feel and release it.  (I am not going to say to ‘heal’ it because in a sense I think its a central mistake of our culture that grief is an illness that need to be cured or fixed somehow.)  Its a sad indictment of our modern society that in past years there has been a move to have grief included as a mental illness in the bible of psychiatry The DSM.   

Grief that is unresolved can indeed make us mentally and emotionally unwell.  To my mind it can be the huge unspoken ‘monster’ that lives at the basis of addictions and anger and the rage of acting out of terrorism and other means of reclaiming a sense of power and control within situations where we are actually overpowered.  Grief itself is feared by many because it is like a tidal wave in a way.  We can try to run from it or defend against it, but in my experience it always then finds some kind of way to knock us over sideways.  Far better not to see it as a monster but as a rejected energy that wants us to turn towards, surrender and acknowledge it.  

Being able to accept that grief is there and that we are powerless to a degree is the first step.  We can use different forms of containment.  For me dancing and writing and walking help to move the grief through my body, the freeze state of some traumas and traumatic injuries can be all about frozen grief that brings a critical event to us which externalises its intense charge in some form and then leaves us knocked over, frozen paralysed or powerless. 

And if we look to the ancestral epigenetic component we can see how this stored charge of grief and anxiety can be passed on from generation to generation.  When I start to get into compulsive cleaning I am aware of how much grief and a sense of powerlessness fuelled my Mum’s own manic cleaning binges.  And I got badly injured myself when she was in the midst of some of them.   I have injured myself so many times or broken things either gardening or cleaning that these days I am much more mindful in the midst of such activities, stopping and breathing and centring myself as much as I can.

I do believe that like most emotions grief is a kind of visitor to us, as in the poem by Rumi.  If we welcome the visitation of grief and take some steps to give it a place, then just possibly we will not be as compulsively ‘run’ over by it (or over run by it) and in time we as we integrate it, it will deepen and enrich us in the process.  

And what is most important is to know that grief has a purpose and its presence in our lives or heart is a sign that something had great value to and was cherished deeply by us or longed for.  It has come time to understand that value or experience or let that something or someone go and so there will be a shedding if we are to move forward.  Such losses and griefs will always be with us and remain forever a vital part of our soul on our ongoing journey through life.

Another tough day

My inner censor is prompting me to keep the following blog under wraps.  I am not going to listen to the censor too much today:

Tough day of really painful symptoms of grief today.  Before I manage to tap into it I am not even sure that this is what I am undergoing.  Feelings occur first for me on body level as sensation, before I can even recognise the feelings I am having are feelings of sadness.  I feel like I am being dragged sideways, or pulled down a plug hole,  I feel though there is a huge stone on my chest holding me down and it is hard to breathe.  Then a portal breaks open somewhere and the sadness just rises up and floods the landscape of my being with tears.

I just had a terrible reaction after trying to eat my breakfast and that followed a long struggle to wake up, feeling like last night I had been weighted down my magnets.  Was it that or was it that my body was responding to the relaxation prompted by the tissue salts I have been encouraged to take to help with my PTSD symptoms?  Going to sleep and waking up for me triggers the old trauma of coming to and finding out my body has been smashed up.  Its a weird feeling of being suspended between two worlds, rendered powerless, feeling incapable of moving my body, feeling I have been taken over or invaded, that my limbs wont work or carry me along.

Anyway after an hour of trying to stretch out of it, as is my way, the flood of grief flowed out.  I had been free from these post breakfast attacks for quite a while but over the last three days they have returned with a vengeance. I am not sure why but I know I get affected by things and lately I have been watching a mini series on the Kennedy family which is full of very painful dynamics between the characters.  It is also filled with loss, trauma and grief, Joe senior’s stroke (which evokes powerful memories of my own sister’s stroke) and of course the loss suffered by the family and Jackie Kennedy in particular after JFK and then Robert Kennedy were gunned down in 1963 and 1968 after Jack’s administration, under the direction of Bobbie Kennedy, attempt to go after the American Mafia.

I was prompted to look into the astrology of it all last night and I found a website devoted to the Kennedy curse, where an astrological chart was featured of the marriage of John F Kennedy’s parents Joe and Rose.  Prominent in this chart is a Saturn Pluto conjunction at 2 degrees in the sign of Cancer which has to do with clans, family, close ties of psychic enmeshment and suffocating parental holds on children.  it was noted on this particular blog that this conjunction was activated when critical events occurred for their children.

The astrological synchronicity in all of this for me is that currently I am undergoing the Saturn square to my own natal Pluto in the first house.  Bobby Kennedy in particular had a very strong Plutonian signature in his own chart with three planets including Mars in Scorpio and trine to Pluto. Our own family went through some very powerful Pluto transits and Pluto squared my own natal Mars Saturn Moon when my father died, in addition my oldest sister suffered a cerebral haemorraghe on a Pluto transit to her own Saturn.  The dynamic of an attorney general (Bobby Kennedy) going after the American Mafia bosses is a very Saturn Pluto signature.  And Saturn Pluto speaks of defences erected against powerful feelings of fear in reaction to dark issues of power, control and other deeply transformative elements in life and nature.

I am aware this blog is skipping between some seemingly unrelated subjects but I have been wondering today if the issue of family grief of the Kennedy family has triggered for me this week, powerful imprints around my own family trauma.

I spoke to my sister yesterday and often when I speak to her I find myself encountering feelings of great sadness.  She has been on medication for bi polar for many years and at the moment they have changed her meds and she is feeling very low and nauseated.  My Mum rings me in tears about it and I feel the full weight of it all.  We have our own fairly heavy family legacy which comes from a similar theme to the Kennedy’s.  My Dad was also a migrant trying to escape the poverty and powerlessness of his past and his own daughter came unstuck by overstepping the boundaries to try and achieve within this family dream. My older sister who had the stroke, ended up permanently incapacitated and died last year had bi polar as well with strong Jupiter Saturn, Saturn cut down the Jupiterian impulse to endless outward expansion and flight.

All of these associations are on my mind today, and I am interested to remember that last night I dreamt that I was visiting a close friend in hospital.  She told me that she had to go no contact with her family and since she had she was feeling so much better, “its what you need to do too”, she said to me.

My pathway began to diverge from the family when I got sober in 1993, but with my strong Saturn Moon there has been a gravitational pull back, due to the fact there are so many hidden feelings over the buried trauma that dogged our family from 1979 to 1985 when my father died.  Its been a burden to work to bring consciousness too the entire thing, something I been working through over the past 20 years in different recovery programs and therapies.  There are some days when I become overwhelmed with feelings of sadness over the dark years of our family and my own personal trauma, as well as the sometimes very lonely path that has resulted.  Its not that I am consciously even thinking about these things, but I do feel that since I started to watch this Kennedy mini series last Tuesday I have been feeling the weight of things quiet a bit and maybe my dream has messages for me.  My mother actually gave me this mini series to watch and I think it had powerful synchronicities for her own grief.  Maybe I need some distance from it, or maybe I just have needed to feel all of this through in order to connect the dots.

Just a short time ago my mother called.  I was very sad today and she was distressed by it, which also saddened me, but then again feelings are better off shared.  While I was having my attack earlier I had the impulse to call someone and inside my head I heard a voice say “don’t you go bothering anyone with this burden of yours, you will just ruin their day”.  I am aware that the adult thing to do is to acknowledge my feelings and hold my hand in the midst of them but its also so important to be able to share our feelings with someone empathic, I think this was an old message.  I let my Mum know I didn’t feel it was her responsibility to fix my feelings, I would be happier for her if she could enjoy the outing with her best friend she had planned.  She didn’t feel good about it, and I felt sad for causing her distress, especially as I know she is very worried about my older sister at present and I am sure she is aware of the burden we both carry which is ancestral too, really.

After I got of the phone, I just sat and wept.  I felt the huge heavy weight of it.  I then checked my phone and saw an email notifying me that someone had liked a recent post of mine :

https://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/coping-with-the-really-tough-days/

which prompted me to re-read it and doing so actually helped me to move through the sadness of today and the heavy weight dispersed after I decided to write this post.  It seems all blogging is really for ourselves?  Hopefully it helps someone else too.

Its clear to me what helps me move through the pain.  It is so important to try to recognise what my body is carrying so I can find love for myself in the midst of the pain.  This is what helps me, this is what soothes me, this is what turns a tough day of pain into a meaningful day for me, being able to write and share, to make some small sense of what at times feels very overpowering and burdensome.

Loving through Letting Go

Last night I dreamed of the lover who last broke my heart and launched me on the deepest dark night of suffering. I was no stranger to loss and the meeting with him triggered all the pain of past losses, although I was not yet fully conscious of this suffering and much of it was replayed out over the four and a half years of our relationship.

He needed me to be without the wounds and scars that I bore, I still was capable of love and of loving but there were oceans of pain buried in my body and of anger too. He had his own anger, I am sure this is why we found each other.

In a strange way it would take the loss of this relationship to lead me to the place of suffering where awareness would grow and where I could find love in the understanding and empathetic embrace of therapy, writing, solitude, new understanding relationships and deep in the sanctuary of my own home.

In the dream last night we were together again but there was the awareness that it was only for a time, and if the relationship were to survive I would need to let go and him too, no longer making demands. So it was in the dream.

This dream was probably prompted by listening to the song Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez last night. This song and the album it appeared on was the soundtrack to our relationship and takes me back in a most powerfully evocative and haunting way to that first winter on the coast of our relationship : beautiful love making, dinners shared, picnicking and lying on the beach while he surfed, cuddling his lovely dog, Sally and listening to him play guitar.

This idyll did not last. Arguments began after many months of bliss. He wanted me to change into someone I was not. He could not explore that my being different was not a threat to him, most especially my sadness, I had gone through a lot of loss. Probably it was not the right time for us. But in a way it was the right time to try again for me, even if it failed and lead to even deeper loneliness and heartbreak for a long time.

The agony following his decision to end it for me was the worst I had known, containing within it the buried pain of three other heartbreaks as well the pain of my father’s death at 23 still not fully grieved, only grieved more fully through enduring echoing losses (of his father and mother).

This week I tapped most deeply into this pain. I became once again the deep sea diver of my own soul. The feelings of deep sadness in being fully felt passed. I must say this weekend even though it is dark and overcast here I am not feeling the deep soul ache of suicidal pain that has been with me from time to time over the past four years. My soul is healing. I can feel it and with the Sun passing through my twelfth house memories from times long past are rising up to the surface of consciousness like flotsam and jetsam.

I’m glad to have the astro awareness as it helps me to navigate and accept these cycles in my psyche and soul. And I am conscious too that soon Venus which was been navigating the second half of the sign Leo and has recently passed over my North Node in the first house will move forward to approaching square with my natal Chiron in the seventh where it will in the 0 degree of Virgo station to turn retrograde. This will be a time of navigating self value, of understanding where my pain has taken me, of the essential lessons of solitude have been necessary for me to live truly as the soul I need to be for me, while still part of the collective (my Sun Venus Mercury Jupiter and descendant are all in the seventh house in Aquarius opposite natal North Node in the first).

I see clearly this morning that the relationship I nearly tore myself apart to hold onto was not meant to last. I was meant to have this time alone and now I can remember the beautiful times before the fights without the terrible aching of pain and longing in my soul. All of this has been transformed for me. It has taken not only time but work. I needed to feel that pain and the other pains too, so intimately connected like a painful lattice tapestry in my soul.

This dark night is not a path I would have chosen but one I was destined to take and travel and was prefigured in a dream where an African woman with deep soul suffering in her eyes told me she had lost a baby the knowing was a dark light of acceptance around that loss.

And that we cannot hold onto love but must in letting go allow it its own time and space to effect the necessary dark alchemy on our souls.

Out of the Ashes

Fire

you warm me

with your amber kisses

glow of remembrance

heat

of love and desire

which burned too brightly

then was gone

leaving only ashes.

Tears

you are the heart’s silent rain

that fall

over so many years

as I sit alone

in the dark pit

grown cold now

only memories

to keep me warm.

Tears

as you fall

you turn the ash to clay

and this substance

becomes workable over time

turning and turning

on the wheel of the year

navigating

all the backwards and forwards

of longing

desire

heartache.

Empathy and understanding

are the water

that forms this dark sludge

into something

awesome

terrible

Yet beautiful.

I contemplate

the surface of this vessel

I made

cracked and crazed in places

with the deeply etched scar marks

of tempered pain

desire and love

the fire

that alchemises

and transforms

this suffering

into a vessel

which contains

and in containing

heals

Visitation by a Dark Angel

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What is this dark angel that hovers over me, laying to waste all happiness, entering me into some deep dark mystical sadness that is like an ocean that threatens to drown me, that pulls on me with its restless tide that comes unbidden from an unknown place?

I have no power over the times of its coming and going and then I question do I create its visitations with my resistance to the world I see that seems barren of feeling and leaves no place for a deeper darker vision of events which have fallen below consciousness.

I remember asking my first therapist. “Do you think I am a borderline personality?” To which she replied, “No, Deborah I believe you are someone who lives very close to the collective unconscious.”

Carl Jung was such a person. His sun in Leo opposes mine in Aquarius and he had the Sun Neptune square.   Just prior to the outbreak of World War I Jung had dark visions of Europe bathed in blood. He had broken with Freud due to their dispute over the unconscious.   During this time his deep interior journey and dreams led him to develop the concept of the shadow, that dark twin of ours which we can enter into a relationship with at midlife.

Jung also developed a relationship with the inner child at midlife, he learned to play, to build castles of sand. I feel a resonance.

This darkness around me others don’t often understand.

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My brother just called, disappointed I could not make dinner last night. All that came out from me “sorry” and a flood of grief. He has not often seen this side of me. I’ll probably be judged as bi polar now by his entire family. They keep their distance as if I am infected by something they don’t want to catch.

He wasn’t nasty or uncaring, just mystified and perplexed.  He did listen. Now he has seen my dark side. I am relieved in a way as often I feel there is some kind of pretence and I have to present a bright face so not to be rejected.

Today I read a blog by Therese Borchard who struggles with depression and death thoughts. It was a letter she wrote in response to a friend who was disturbed by her death thoughts. Therese could not deny them.  In the writing of the letter she spoke for her right to give voice to sadness and darkness that society labels as an illness.

I am not so sure if it is an illness or just a shadow aspect of modern life. Maybe certain experiences mark us out for this type of encounter and surely there is a temperamental aspect to it. It is a deeply Plutonian energy.

Only in astrology have I found a real understanding of how we get marked by archetypal experiences, (indicated by planetary influences) those common to people of all ages and times. In this modern society with its emphasis on happiness we melacholics and depressives are seen as somehow sick, but might there not be some value too in a dark vision?  We cannot just erase one side of the yin and yang of existence. And the truth is that sometimes the descent to the darkest place represents a turning toward the light.

At this time of the in the Southern Hemisphere we are reaching the time of maximum light, while overseas the Northern Hemisphere turns toward Winter Solstice, that time when the Sun has gone as far down and light will begin to return.   People there are experiencing the time of maximum darkness.

Certainly here though at this time of year we are in the time of most light, I do go into the dark as the sun inches its way through the nadir or lowest point of my chart, which has familial and ancestral themes.

I was trying to explain this to my brother how this time of year holds great grief. It is not something I feel I will “get over”. The dark angel makes her visitations at certain times, it is something that is part of living having gone through experiences where death came close and I saw the threat of light extinguished for a time.

I think we need voices such as mine and Therese’s who give exposure to this side of life. Suicidal thoughts come to me too, I had some yesterday.   As Therese noted in her blog today, they do pass in time. It’s a matter of holding through the most painful dark times, until the light begins to dawn again.

There is a saying I first heard in early sobriety. “This too shall pass” and so it will. Everything in nature is subject to death phases. It is one of the reasons my higher power in sobriety was a massive tree. Trees shed leaves at certain times, are in death but death is not an ending : there is a force slumbering there even when no life shows on the surface.

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The world turns and life turns again to show its other face. In astrology January is associated with the god Janus who has two faces, one looks back to the old year passing out, the other towards the new year. In the past is sadness, and maybe in the future the possibility of returning light. But it seems to me that all of life in some way reflects doubling, polarity and paradox, which only our modern society tries to erase in its naive quest for an eternal summer.

I have watched two partners walk away from our relationship because they struggled seeing me embraced by the dark. Therese’s partner stands by her and supports her through her dark phases. At this time of year I am aware who walked away, of those who turned their back on me or took a wide berth. I finally have acceptance rather than anger around it   Those who choose to leave must go and I understand why.   Living with sadness is not easy for some, especially those who had to eradicate it because it was just too much of a burden or too difficult to face.

I know that the clouds that accompany this latest visitation by the dark angel will lift in time, there is even some kind of deep beauty and comfort in being able to cry and feel sad, for at least when this happens energy is moving and I don’t feel as though I am drowning or strangling.

But one thing I question. Is it my protective resistance to further hurt and misunderstanding that holds me back from being with those who are challenged by my vulnerability? I am not sure. In the end it made me sad to not see my brother and yet I felt better and more true to myself for not subjecting myself to what may have been too much for me to bear, at least last night.

On the phone this evening I was genuine and real, I spoke to my limitations and feelings and held nothing back and I felt love in my heart even though I have struggled for years with my brother’s lack of understanding. Maybe it is even more poignant due to the close relationship he had with my Dad, now dead, with whom I never had the opportunity to establish an adult to adult relationship.

For now, even though I feel sad, I am also feeling a kind of peace. There is comfort in the encroaching dusk and the shadows that play across the screen as I write. In giving voice to all of this, I am returned to my deepest self and send this message out into the ether along with the love I feel in my heart informed by and tinged with the deep  sadness I feel at present, hoping it will speak to someone.

What is so wrong about sadnesss?

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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.

John Rohr

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.

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Who knows where the time goes?

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My darling sister Judith died just over a month ago.  There are some things that bring me close to her and are helping me in my grieving.  One of them is the beautiful album by Eva Cassidy, Imagine, which I found when clearing out her room in the care home she lived in for the past ten years.   On this album my most favourite song is Who knows where the time goes?  In the beginning of this song is the image of birds flying away, there is an ending that has occurred, a movement away, perhaps a change of season as there was when my sister passed, leading to an absence and at the base of it grief, a sense of a chapter ending.  This song and the instrumentation is so profoundly bittersweet and beautiful.  Music has a rare power to touch something deep in my soul, opening the underground river of grief that is there for the loss of my sister but also reminding me of the great joy and her deep, deep love of music and the gratitude I have for still being alive.  On Friday evening her youngest son became a father of twin boys, and I was reminded of the dark and the light, that in life some things are taken and new beginnings come following loss.  This too is bittersweet. My sister’s spirit lives on in her children and grandchildren.

(6) Eva Cassidy – Who Knows Where the Time Goes – YouTube

Many times I would I visit my sister in the care home and we would listen to music and sing together lyrics we both loved.   Yesterday I visited my other sister with my mother in hospital and on the way home my mother cried.  She told me that she was coming out of her unit and saw some people she knows.  When they mentioned my sister who died my mother cried.  The people she was with were embarrassed and did not know what to say.

I have just been given a thesis on sibling grief and loss by a Canadian woman, Brenda Marshall.  Brenda lost her younger brother just over eight years ago.  She loved her brother deeply and found it a very challenging loss as it was so difficult for her to find places to share her grief.  She began to research sibling loss and found a great silence surrounding it.  Siblings when loosing someone were the ones supporting others grieving, most particularly parents and children of their brother or sister but having to hold the grief silently due to lack of concern from others.  Brenda dealt with her grief by speaking about it and connecting with other grieving siblings three whose stories and experiences she explores in her thesis.  What helped these people to grieve was the ability to connect with their siblings possessions, things that had meaning and significance for them.  In my own place at the moment in every room there is some reminder of my sister.  Beautiful little cards, photographs, items of clothing, trinkets, scarves, jewellery, books of poetry and of course CDs.

Was it a divine piece of synchronicity which drew me to a counsellor who also had an interest in sibling grief.  Through my contact with Julie this thesis has been put in my hands and is helping me to understand the challenges faced by a grieving sibling.

I must admit Eva Cassidy’s song brought me to my knees this afternoon.  The kitchen floor was covered with teardrops which my dog Jasper licked up after instinctively drawing closer toward me to give me comfort.

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These words came to me, so I wrote them down.

When my grief is fully spent

You will have pressed me down

So low

The lowest low

I will ever know

And when I rise

Again

The twisting and turning

Of old griefs

So long buried

Will, too have cycled their way out

I will turn again

To face a new day

Without the one’s I loved

Yet with the courage

To go on

Knowing true love never ends

And loving’s price

When faced with loss

Is a profound grief

To which these precious teardrops

Bear witness

Give me your black wing, sadness

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I was drawn to pick up a book the other night, when sleep proved illusive and when I opened the book I found this beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda.

The Mournful Face of God

Sadness, 

I need your black wing.

So much honey in the topaz

each ray smiling in the wide fields

and all the abundant light about me,

all an electric whir in the high air.

And so give me your black wing,

sadness.

to have the sapphire extinguished

and to have the angled mesh

of rain

fall,

the weeping of the earth

Now I am missing the black light.

Give me your slow blood,

cold rain,

spread over me your fearful wing.

Into my care give back the key

of the closed door.

For a moment,

for a short lifetime,

remove my light and leave me

to  feel myself abandoned,

wretched,

trembling in the web of twilight,

receiving into my being

the quivering hands of the rain.

Commenting on this poem Cedrus N. Monte writes:

In the bitters of Neruda’s poem, we are reminded of a primordial longing for darker places, spaces where we can rightfully mourn, feel our sadness, our grief and despair; a place where we can let ourselves experience, without shame or guilt, the sense of abandonment, and wretchedness we encounter in the wake of our wounds, in the recognition of others’ wounds, in receiving the “weeping of the earth”.

We are reminded that the mournful face of God, the shrine of darkness, is a holy place, a place that makes us whole, and heals. True to the paradoxical nature of spiritual and conscious life, the wounds we bring to this shrine are both the suffering and the redemption. Through them, we are pierced and torn apart, but without them, we would not have the opportunity to forge a forgiving and compassionate response. We would not have the opportunity to make love conscious.

In the pilgrimage to the shrine of darkness, something is attempting to come into fuller consciousness. Through pilgrimage, the rites of mourning are asking to be lived, death is seeking to be fully embraced, as part of life, the dark sister, the Dark Feminine, is asking to be honoured.

It is not the wholesale eradication of suffering that we must heroically achieve, but the humble understanding that suffering is inseparable from life.

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How eloquently did he express the truths I was feeling inside my own heart.  At times in my life when sadness was all around me and when the way into mourning was blocked or denied so was the entry way into the necessary passage closed off which would have led to a dark place which was the place of a difficult regeneration so necessary to face and experience.

At just such a time the book which contained Monte’s essay was recommended to me by a wiser soul.  It seems at times in collective culture we don’t want to have to feel and accept the necessary passages of the Dark Feminine, of difficult and challenging emotions that are a necessary part of the darker side of the human experience. It seems to me that, at just such points (and I have experienced this myself) medication or some other pain killer is offered as a solution.  And yet, the taking of such a solution often bars the way towards the necessary passage whose purpose is to enlarge and deepen our consciousness as human beings, fully awake and alive to the reality of being human.

We need courage, heart, strength, resilience and the suspension of rationality and control as we stand suspended at the doorways of such places as these are the qualities which will sustain us on the journey across that wide abyss which leads to a new shore.  Sometimes we need permission to be in the dark, to shed the tears which are necessary; we need the psychic midwives that will encourage us and usher us across such passages not the killing voices of those who would deny their healing power.

Today I was speaking to a girlfriend in recovery who once a month goes through a painful surgical procedure to deal with a medical condition which is beyond cure.  “The nurses have come to know me”, she said.  “I always cry when they give me the needle”.  Her tears to me speak to the fact that as a sentient creature she is alive and awake to pain and bearing witness to it.  I have cried under painful needles and been there at the bedside of my mother and other elderly patients crying in pain as the nurses sought around for yet another vein.

Yesterday I was listening to a radio programme on Radio National about the healing power of tears.  An author was saying how tears flow at the end or release point of the experience of difficult experiences not only of sadness but also of frustration, loss, shock and betrayal. To deny ourselves such a release means that we cannot integrate the full truth and enormity of our experience.  I am always grateful for real honest heartfelt tears as they signal the watershed moment when pain and restriction which has gone on too long is finally giving way and releasing.  I trust my tears as a portal into my own soul.

I love Neruda’s poem for speaking of the need we have to be held by the black wing of sadness when such holding is appropriate.  It is a beautiful image to dream on.  To contemplate.  To celebrate.