Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Healing

There is a saying that you can't heal what you can't see. This is why I went searching for answers about how I felt because I knew what I felt wasn't how I wanted to feel, and intuitively I understood that I needed to know where I had been to begin to heal.

I've read a number of books now on topics that seemed related to my circumstances. There was marginal assistance through the psychology sessions I have had but nothing directly related to a full understanding of my circumstances and certainly no advice was administered as to what to do. In other words, there was no diagnosis and no treatment plan.

However, I feel quite clear about what happened to me now and this is a great blessing, to see the history clearly. This is profound.

I think when the brain has been subjected to thinking in a certain way over a long period of time - I am in my early 60s - it is not realistic to think that I won't have some tough moments going forward, but I definitely feel grateful to have understanding, and so long as I am kind to myself, which I see as vital, I think there is much reason to be hopeful that the shame and blame that I put on myself will fade.

It was difficult to say the least to learn that it was my inner critic that kept me in torment. I blamed myself for not being stronger and more resilient, whereas now I am learning to turn that message around:

"Things were difficult for you for no fault of your own. You had to survive, and you did what you could to survive. Now, new strategies are needed to thrive. And, you are putting those strategies in place. Be proud of yourself."

Without going into too much boring detail about my reading and understanding here's what I discovered:

- Although my parents loved me in an overarching way (the feeling was no doubt in their hearts) I was not given a childhood. I have no memories of being kissed, cuddled, held. I have no memories of being read to at night, or being tucked into bed. I didn't eat with my parents. My parents demanded that their two children be as little effort as possible and so I closed down my emotions, was 'good'.

- I began to masturbate at a very early age and this was my attempt at 'self-soothing'. My childhood environment did not provide me with a sense of safety and masturbating myself to sleep became a survival strategy for me; a way of soothing my troubled mind that was flooded with chemicals that made my body and mind anxiety prone.

- I am kinky and this is now hard wired and cannot be alerted. Fear and sexual arousal at a certain point intertwined.I don't seek to alter it. It is obvious, day by day, that I am aroused in a 'feel good' and sexual way when I have an overt sense of ownership. I want to be 'attached' to my husband. He gets this, fortunately. He is comfortable with it. I have shared my understandings with him.

- I was susceptible to having my attachment system activated due to the lack of mother love. I was also susceptible to having my inner critic activated and exacerbated. It hadn't occurred to me that the lack of mother love repercussions were the fault of my parents but rather I blamed myself, unconsciously. I now understand the thoughts. I wasn't lovable. I wasn't worthy of love. I wasn't pretty enough, or sexual enough. Importantly, I needed to be pleasing. I had learned this as a child. If you don't act how they want you to act, they reject you.

- In short, I was highly vulnerable to any sort of narcissistic behavior of another; to love-bombing, to verbal abuse; manipulation. My trained sense of loyalty to people, even when they behaved in a  selfish and unloving way made me feel that I needed to find even more tolerance and strength for toxic behavior.

- What I came to see was that in the end it wasn't about the Other. It was about the fact that I had failed to understand that any disrespectful behavior towards me should have been a red flag on which I acted to create a boundary against the toxicity of the relationship.

- I was kind of right. It was all my fault, no matter what the training of my childhood. You see, I can't change the behavior of others, but I can change my behavior and in this way I can change how I feel. It is in my power to say no to a sense of blame and shame, to have some control over the depression; to say yes to a sense of personal power; to have respect for myself.

This is a game changer. I can't say I won't have tough days. I know I will. But, there's a huge sense of power over my destiny now.

I am eternally grateful to Kelly McDaniel who wrote 'Ready to Heal: Breaking Free of Addictive Relationships' and to Abdul Saad of Vital Mind Psychology who has free on You Tube videos that have helped me so much.

There are very good people in the world. Of this, I have no doubt. If you have struggled in a similar way to the way I have struggled, I encourage you to seek your answers. Once you know what in fact happened to you, you are on your way to healing. Know that you are not alone. You deserve to be happy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Being decisive

There has been a burst of action in my life. I think feelings had been building up  for me for some time so that when I really felt them with full force, action, not words so much as action, was easier than I ever imagined it could be.

For one piece of action, which came more like a decision, a decision to take no further action, it was decisive, but sad. I knew I had to make the decision. I knew I didn't have a choice. I felt strong. I felt a bit like a Warrior, protective of myself, and that part felt good. There was the smaller and more vulnerable part of me that felt sad, but the Warrior won, and I felt proud that that part of me insisted on being decisive and clear.

How it took as long as it did, well that's another story; a painful one. But, the decision was made to end the pain, like a surgeon saying that the patient would need to lose a leg but he could save his life. I haven't heard of anyone that said 'No, no, just leave me to die with everything intact' and I made the same decision.

For the second piece of action, I have turned the other cheek with a friend over the past few years. Conflict avoidant, I had chosen to not speak what I thought, any number of times, although I registered the intuitive thought that something was not right there, in the things she said. She's ratty at times; short tempered and comes across as fragile in a sense, but she's also a strong defender of herself. She has trouble seeing how she comes across and I recognized some time ago that she wasn't going to find a man, because there aren't perfect men/people out there, and that's what she insists upon. She must have gone through a dozen or more in the past few years.

The weird thing is she's good too. She works in the caring industry and she does good work on the whole, as far as I can tell. She does snuff off people along the way because she so wants her own way and most people don't want that sort of conflict in a relationship/friendship, but I chose to ignore the trait, until now. I guess I didn't process how much it bothered me. Or, maybe I was taking the bottom down position yet again and found myself tired of the view from there...

But, she turned on me this evening and said some truly awful things by text over the course of the evening. She sees me as a competitor which I said was a silly thing to do and she just kept upping the ante. The thing is a couple of people gave me praise for what I do, and what she does, and as far as she was concerned any praise for me, even though I am the new kid on the block with loads to learn, was a reason for her to garner more control; ensure I held my place in the pecking order, below her.

In the end, she acted like a domineering, son of a bitch Narcissist telling me what I was and wasn't go to do, and with full clarity and precision of thought I texted back that I wasn't planning to adhere to her demands and that our friendship was over.

(It's the morning and I don't regret this decision although I am sad about it. Something deep inside me tells me to defend that vulnerable part inside of me. My husband, furious about the way she treated me 'I told you she'd do this one day...', wanted to go and tell her off, and you have to love his protective streak, but no, I am standing up for myself.)

I've seen her behave with people in this way before, a number of times, and I kept my own counsel about it, but what's clear is that something has cleared in me.

I can speak up. I can protect myself if necessary. I have agency in this world.

In the past, I've been a Mamma Bear for my kids. I've stood up and protected them. But, it's a very rare day in my life when I stand up for myself in this way, and twice in two days! That's some sort of miracle. There is some sort of transformation going on. I may be growing up.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Feeling into the authentic appetite

I can reject my own appetite; my own responses to stimulus. If I feel that my authentic self is tied up with what I see as the difficulties of needing someone to be in a particular way, I see no other option than to try to not need that part of myself.

Yet when the planets align, it is as if no amount of effort to be some other way could ever come to anything. When I feel the presence of Dominance, dished out like a favourite meal, my mind and my body react in just the same way as ever. Like, ahhh, rice pudding, what a treat, dominance hits just the right spot.

And, I noticed on Tumblr just now, after some considerable time, a tumblr blog that made me hold my breath. Perhaps I have held my breath a thousand times before, when my heart does a little dance, but today, fresh from a double yoga class, my mind registered it; the pleasure; the connection of two souls in some way, if only for a moment; if only through words and images that resonated so instinctively.

At this time when the news is all about Prince Harry I find myself feeling that we all need to be comfortable in our skin. That comfort starts with accepting ourselves as we are; just as we are.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Life's work

If it is true that we are all working on something, our 'journey' through this life, then my thing is 'speaking my truth'. This is true on a psychological, emotional and spiritual level.

My daughter and her little family have been staying with me, just me, for the others are on an adventure. She pointed out to me that I sometimes give off a feeling of holding onto something. She noted this as a sense of discomfort in the air and urged me to speak my truth.

I explained to her that I had no experience with this as a child and that my experience with it as an adult provided me with further proof that it isn't a good policy. I explained that I fear the reaction to my truth.

She felt that I had to try nonetheless, to practice. So, I explained that having her dogs here was not easy for a number of reasons, which I outlined. She acknowledged this information without saying very much about it.  I felt a wee bit better, but I continue to feel (which I didn't say) that one dog in particular needs to see a dog behaviorist, because I feel another 10 years of not allowing it off the lead in parks seemed a far too limited life and unreasonably stressful for the adults walking it.

Today, I messaged a friend to see if she wanted to meet for lunch in her neighborhood  and being someone au fait with past lives she shared with me for the first time what she felt were my past lives. I had been chatting about this huge difficulty of mine to express my truth and that's when she said that I had had that difficulty for a number of lives.

'Feeling that sense of choking in my throat?' I asked. She nodded.

I didn't ask for details. I don't want to know, but I am open to letting something, if anything, evolve in a meditative way over time.

As well today, I shared that I had been remembering my dreams over the past week or more and that this was most unusual for me. I had been remembering them in some detail and it seemed to have a common theme, that I was interested in 'charm', trying to charm people that  I didn't like, or to take an alternative view, trying to like someone I didn't like; to start the relationship over. It's about two men - the only two men I truly dislike, and co-incidentally both once lived on my street.

She said it was to do with the universe's movements, or something or other. I was happy to listen but I don't understand that cosmic sort of belief system.

Anyways, for the first time ever I found myself looking up, 'how to access past lives' and listened to a couple of fairly quick explanations which relate to getting very still in mind and body and seeing what comes up, more or less.

I am comfortable in saying that I only ever have had one experience of sort of slightly touching on a past life. I was in New Zealand a few years ago and in the process of a mostly silent retreat.  After lunch, my choice with part of my free time was to climb the mountain of the retreat on my own. I know I loved this time. I distinctly remember stopping at a little bridge in the thick of  the enclosed landscape of palms and trees, a little water gurgling along below the short wooden bridge, and thinking, 'Remember this', which is something I do when I feel a complete sense of peace.

I had reached the Sanctuary, sat for a while on a bench, and was making my way back when two things happened. First of all, I felt I was walking along with my husband. His presence was profoundly with me; not in body but in spirit.

(And, co-incidentally, during a meditation hour at my yoga studio last night my mind returned to this experience in such a grounded way that I made a loose fist with my left hand, much as I would if I was holding his hand.)

A little further down towards the retreat centre it occurred to me quite spontaneously...perhaps in a past life I had been a slave, or, a member of royalty. I tried to feel into both states but a slave seemed more authentic. It was no more than that, a momentary glimpse.

If it could possibly be so, and I have held my tongue, swallowed my words for goodness knows how many lives, this has some resonance for me. Above all things, this seems to be my work in this life, in any case.

I somehow think that I have been attracted to people who cannot accept my words, thereby making this work as difficult as it could possibly be. Here we are, me who fears so deeply the upset that comes from speaking my truth and the other who struggles so to hear any words that might suggest they have a flaw, or that I am criticizing them.

Ram Dass or Eckhart Tolle or the Budda or the Dalai Lama would say of this that this is what makes them so important in my life; they are helping me overcome this struggle, once and for all.

If all of this has an ounce of truth about it, then to live my best life I need to learn this lesson - to speak my truth without the fear, the overwhelming fear of being rejected, annihilated, abandoned, rebuked.

A more 'feet on the ground' proposal, one that my psychologist, who I currently don't see, would propose is quite simply that my childhood experiences ensured that this was always going to be difficult for me.

In the end PP didn't see a point in seeing me any more but rather seeing my husband. This is bearing some fruit, it must surely be so, since we have been talking away in a very heart-centred way; him listening to me quietly as I reveal things that I have held onto.

Just before he left for Europe, maybe two days before that, I found myself telling him of the time I returned home from, I think, a school trip to discover that my mother had either sold or given away my books. This came as a terrible shock but what I missed deeply, then and now, was a book given to me by my ballet master. Before he dismissed us after class on that particular day, he had asked us to take a seat on the wooden floor. Sitting there in our pink leotards and tights he said that he wanted to give a reward to the girl who had made great improvement over the term and he called out my name.

This was a beautiful moment for me. The book was in black and white, of the Bolshoi Ballet with a note from him on the inside cover. It meant a great deal to me. In my absence, my mother had whisked it away from me, out of my life, my hands.

I said to my husband when I spoke about this a few weeks ago, 'why did she do that?' and of course he didn't have a definite answer. I have had two theories over time. Perhaps most likely is that she simply didn't know me; had no idea how much the book meant to me; the books, my alternative life. It's hard to handle the second theory; that the books were too beloved by me, had to go; that my attention needed to be directed more on her.

The point is I absorbed the emotional pain of it. I didn't criticize my mother, had learned earlier that my psyche wouldn't survive doing that. I stayed silent.

Last night, I did a double yoga class, yin and then yoga nidra/meditation and the teacher asked us, 'what is it that you are holding onto?' 'what is it that you are not sharing?'

My answer is that I desperately needed time to myself, which was cut short by my daughter and her little family needing to be with me for 10 days, leaving me with precious few days on my own before the guys get back.

If I review my choices, I chose, when not alone, the yoga studio, and a spiritual friend or two. I visited my mother for a few days out of duty, nothing more. I avoided friends; happily chatted briefly to strangers in the market and such, and listened for hours to Jack Kornfield on the Internet. My treat was 'Mad Men', gobbles of it.

If I am holding back anything at this point it's my creativity. A quiet mind seems right. I adore listening to stories on the radio or podcasts, far more than I want to create a story or to work with my story on the page in story form. I think that might be because just when I think I have 'solved' my story, got the right spin on it, the story changes; another peeling of the onion makes the last edition redundant.

For years now I have been working on this thought, seeking the answer. Is a bad family better than no family? We all need to come from somewhere, and it's a universal need to belong. Yet, what if we limit ourselves with this thought and open ourselves up to the thought that we belong to creation, the universal family. If there are past lives, how can the point be this family, but rather this soul.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Co-existing awareness

Before I turn off my computer for several days, and even though I am in a hurry to get on the road, I felt the desire to make a note of my thoughts.

What comes to say is that in my city it is a superb  afternoon, which comes after a little rain last night, a great relief, and prior to that, a very dangerously hot day.

As I tend to my garden, Confidoring the aphids off the new plantings, aware of the peace and quiet in my garden, a few hours away are horrendous fires, forcing thousands of stranded and isolated people onto a pier and perhaps later into the water. The fires in this state are out of control. Already people have lost their lives and many homes have burned.

In fact, our holiday home may well burn too. Most of my family are currently overseas, but even if they were here, the roads are closed and it would be suicide to attempt to get to the property. It is in the lap of the Gods.

My younger self would have found this deeply disturbing and worrying. Today, I am philosophical. Bad things happen to good people every day and I have no story around the fact that it shouldn't happen. It is happening and there is no reason it shouldn't happen to me in the same way that it may happen to anyone. It is eerie. The calm before the the storm perhaps, but I am at peace with this.

Lately, I have become less optimistic about the state of the planet. It's possible we won't be here as long as we think. Certainly, we can't take for granted what we once did, but maybe that's the wake up call; to stop being complacent and to start being more mindful about everything.

I have become far more comfortable with the idea that I am not in control. Oh sure, I can't stop loving things in their place and feeling good when I am on top of the details of life. But, I recognize I can't make every post a winner, and nor should every post be a winner.

I've been more or less alone now for a few days. I can feel the magic of alone time, and silence, weave its magic on me, like it did for me earlier in the year when I was fortunate enough to be on retreat in India.

Silence quite naturally restores us back to our natural selves; not bogged down in anxiety and thinking, but free to let the mind wander in a 'no thinking' sort of way. My goodness, how I love that!

I get in the car now and go down to visit my mother. Will she trigger me; will I feel an intense tightness in my chest, a number of times during the visit? I think this is inevitable.

Perhaps the answer lies in not having a story around that either. It's not an easy time for me with her, although I will do my best to make it as pleasant as possible, for both of us.

It's not the relationship I'd like it to be, that's for sure, but I can't do anything about that either. I can make it as good as it can be, but 63 years later I recognize that there are reasons why it became problematic for me (thought not at all for her). And, that's just the way it is.

What's really important to note here, I believe, is that life is this weird experience of good and bad happening at the one very moment. Yes, my holiday house is in peril and at the very least the surrounding land is burning, and yet, in this moment I feel an abiding peace with the fact that today on this planet there is both good and bad happening; that no matter how bad it is gets, there is good. You might say this mindset is a co-exising awareness. Like people, the situation is never all bad.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Recuperation


A dozen years younger, I could never have predicted that my sexuality would change with me; that I would feel as I do today. In another dozen years, should I live so long, I feel certain that the situation will be vastly different than what it is today. We are in constant change in fact, flowing along, sometimes moving so automatically and steadily that we are unaware of the change, until it boldly demands our attention.

As a young girl, I had certain fantasies that dominated my mind as I drifted off to sleep, and when I woke. To some extent, they have endured. I see them for what they are now, with the benefit of hindsight, and talking in the past few months with a very good older psychologist.

They were bound in fear. I will probably never know why I was so fearful as a child. It probably related to growing up in a hotel where there wasn’t much security for me. As well, and most importantly, I think it related to a sense that I needed to be ‘good’. To be in trouble seemed as bad as it could get. 

The fantasies related to people, both men and women, who were stern, punishing and quite uncaring and unloving. I do still have those fantasies today but only around orgasm. It’s a quick route from one to the other and sometimes I succumb to them, even though I wish the fantasies were different. I wish I could completely outgrow them, but so far, no luck.

Of course, any reader of old here knows that I dabbled in power exchange and BDSM. This lasted for some years with much passion and pleasure afforded.

It wasn’t always as I had hoped. It’s remarkably tricky to align sexuality with another person when the sexuality is on the margins. If you read relationship advice it’s generally for those in the middle of the curve and the rest of us have to more or less make it up as we go, or adjust, and experiment, and yes, change for the other.

I’m unquestionably a quiet living person. Without doubt, I was attracted to the opposite of me. As a quiet living person and a non-competitor, I was attracted to the more aggressive and competitive man.

As someone who instinctively wanted to be succumbed, I was attracted to the type of man who enjoyed succumbing me.

It became not just a passion but an obsession and all the entries of the past here attest to that obsession.

I think it is a fair call to say that through psych sessions it has been well established that my childhood created a situation in adulthood where I could easily become enmeshed with a man. It’s an attachment problem. I was not securely attached with either parent. That can lead to attachment issues in relationships as adults as well, unfortunately. It’s like getting doubly punished.

When there is an attachment issue, conflict in the relationship can seem overwhelming. It’s an ideal set up for a sadist because without this secure attachment in childhood as one’s psychological backbone, the partner will do almost anything in order to gain approval.

I have, without doubt, got off on being dominated, but I don’t consider myself a masochist. I could be wrong. I suppose it depends on the definition. 

I don’t want to be hurt. Some pain, or discomfort, or some psychological dominance, like taking me places I may not at first want to go, can be very appealing ultimately – quite delicious. In my mind, that’s different to being hurt; like sad; distressed; a feeling of being unloved; a sense of distance.

I wonder if sometimes the wires get crossed about that. A sexually dominant person who is consistent – as in right across his (or her) life – may not understand the need for expressions of love and affection. It’s possible his (or her) brain works in a different way since love and affection are expressed so differently sexually.

If there are different modes of expression of sexuality is it not possible that there are different modes of expressing love and affection in words and actions? Perhaps there is even an inability to offer comfort in a way that is so natural to those whose sexual expression is more mainstream. In the same way as it is hard to get sexuality to align on the fringes perhaps it is just as hard to get the need for expression of feelings and emotions to align as well.

All relationships can go through tough patches but those on the fringe are particularly tricky through the years, I think, for these reasons and others.

Feelings and emotions evolve as we age and particularly so for people like me who may not have had the full component of feelings and emotions available to them as children. If you feel the need to be ‘good’ over your lifetime that’s going to cause issues and it’s going to have you susceptible to shame any time that people aren’t happy with you. It’s going to demand that other people have their way, and your needs are quite secondary to theirs. This is the way it has been. Don’t rock the boat.

Over this year, as I completed a course where I had to read books about emotions, I came to see that I had suppressed emotions. Emotions tumbled out after that. Anger, sadness, frustration – they came at me quite violently at first.

Masochism, particularly on the psychological domain, became as much of a ‘turn off’ as it had been a turn on. I complained bitterly to the psych about being spoken to harshly or out of turn at home. I could no longer tolerate rudeness. I wanted very much to be treated like an equal, with kindness, care and consideration. I wanted to be able to talk without people talking over me or raising their voice; with consideration.

I have struggled to feel at peace with my mother. With her zero awareness of the damage caused to me in childhood and the misery this has caused in adulthood, especially over the past year,  a conversation is and will always be impossible. The silver lining there is that my brother and I, each other’s witness, have become close. We have talked often this year and been able to make sense of our lives and the damage caused through these discussions.

My husband, aware of my trials, but perhaps not all the repercussions of the angst, tends to think that along with respect, patience and kindness, I need a little sexual dominance. Perhaps. I am not so sure. I can feel myself moving towards him, but it feels delicate. I am delicate.I want it to be organic. I don't ever want to be hurt again.

 I don’t want a dark place. I want very much to move towards light. I want to experience happiness as my default. To be honest, joy is only fleeting, but a part of my life. I adore to guide people in meditation. I love to be with my family. My grandson fills up my cup.

Mostly, I love to be alone. I come home in the afternoon with ingredients to make a meal from scratch, turn on some meditative music, and feel perfectly happy with my own company.

I don’t expect it to stay this way for all that long. At some stage, the healing process will be complete. I feel sure that instinctively I will know how to get back into life in a more complete way.

Right now, everything, my body and mind, tells me to take my time; walk, write, read, listen to music, garden, take yoga classes, sleep and meditate; teach others to meditate.

Years ago, people would recuperate from being unwell in sanitariums; laze about in the sun and drink cups of tea until their energy rose quite naturally. I am taking a leaf out of that book, as much as I can. 

I am happy to be writing again here. I waited until it felt right, and it does.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Time to say goodbye

This blog has been going for a long time. I still enjoy having a writing outlet but I think a blog with a particular theme might work better for me these days.

My interests in meditation, yoga and going deeper into the self are stronger than ever. It therefore makes sense to me to have a blog devoted to those topics, when I can get to it. It will be a fresh start. We all need to have fresh starts from time to time.

To anyone out there still reading the workings of my mind, thank you very much for your anonymous kinship.