Working with “Stuck Heart”

from my journal for Friday, July 30

Woke at 5.  Intense heat.  Some fear, but mostly stuck heart.  Feeling desperately discouraged, unable to tune in or figure out what is going on with my heart.  Unable to get any compassion for it, stuck in this painful place.  Trying to be “good” so whatever is punishing me will stop?

“Stuck heart” is very hard to explain.  It’s not fear, but as uncomfortable as fear.  My heart feels squeezed and defended instead of relaxed and open.

Tutu talks about the fear of not being good enough.  “Our perfection is the price we imagine we must pay for the love of God.  So we strive endlessly to ‘be good’ or to ‘do good’ instead of realizing that we are good.” p23  “We need to simply live out of the joy and generosity of our own goodness.    It doesn’t matter if we fall short, because it has no effect on God’s love for us.”  p24

Desmond Tutu, Made for Goodness

So much of my life was spent trying to “prove that I deserve to live despite the fact that my parents were disappointed in me.”  But when I built Neskaya, I wasn’t thinking about deserving to live.  And when I teach the dances and create ceremony I do it because I love the dances and want to share them.  When I go to Grief Group, I can share my pain safely, and I can witness another’s pain and feel honored by the gift.

I think I must be imagining, as I struggle with the fear, and the blocked heart, that if I could do it “right” the fear would stop, my heart would ease.  Can I forgive myself for not being able to do it “right”?

Tutu’s book has a chapter called Stop “Being Good”

The belief that I am somehow making myself miserable, but I don’t know how to stop doing it.  Is it the trying so hard to “get it right” that’s making me miserable?  I realize that I am beginning to trust myself to know when to do something.  I did manage to cancel Ferry Beach.  I haven’t ordered the substitutes Vreeland suggested from Wellevate because it hasn’t “felt right,” not because I am scared.  I realize that despite being scared, I did continue writing big checks while Neskaya was being built.  Despite being terrified, I did make the travel arrangements and go to the West Coast for the Francis Weller workshop.

I think what I need to do is “take a big step back” and look at the Jenny with the stuck heart.  I see a child desperately trying to make her mother happy and failing and feeling desperately discouraged and wrong and bad.  Like someone in Grief Group.  What did I feel for her?  Enormous compassion.  I put my arms around Little Jenny, and tell her that nothing she does will ever please her mother, not because she is wrong and bad, but because her mother is not capable of being make happy.  It’s not little Jenny’s fault.  I remember hugging Mom when she said “I’m not feeling good about myself right now.”  But most of the time she was not willing to be vulnerable.

I’m vaguely remembering a time when I treated her very gently — could it have been after Dad’s funeral — and she said “That terrible person won’t be around any more.”  But I didn’t see that my being kind had anything to do with it.  Now I wonder, if I could have managed to be kind might she have been able to stop drinking?  But I realize she would have needed the support of the AA community to be able to stop drinking.  And at the same time I sent out to Mom a plea for forgiveness that I didn’t see that continuing to be kind would have been a worthwhile thing to do, even if it never got mother to stop drinking.

See previous post for journal entry relating this time with Mom

Sending a plea to Mom for forgiveness was the first time I felt a positive connection to Mom since she died.

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Need for Forgiveness

This morning I wrote a long piece about the constant stuck pain in my heart, and trying to figure out what it was.  It came to me that it might have been about this incident with Mother.  Reading it earlier this year, I saw that my behavior might have made a difference, and that I had failed to keep it up.  I actually copied the journal from 1986 into my document of material for my blog, but didn’t use it then. The parts in brackets were added the first time I typed it up, probably back in 1987.

From journal for 1986, after Dad’s funeral:
I did much better with her this evening.  I realize that last night I was really angry and disappointed that she was drunk and I got very cold and abrupt and fast and efficient.  No wonder she was so nasty and complained of not getting any comfort.  So tonight I just jollied her along like a problem child.  [Actually I felt like someone with a parent they had loved, but who was being destroyed by senility.]

July 29    Tuesday morning: Sober Mom
[I went down to breakfast and was greeted by:]
A normal person:  I’ve made a few decisions.  I’m going to be all right. For a little while it didn’t seem to matter but now I’m going to be OK.

I said  O good ma   (teary)
What decisions did you make?  [I wanted to hear her say explicitly that she was going to stop drinking.]

Mom:  I don’t know, I just woke up in the middle of the night and
decided it was worthwhile. That horrible person won’t be around any more.

Me:  that makes me very happy.

When I wrote this, I didn’t see the possible connection between my treating her with kindness and her decision.  I don’t think I saw it on rereading until just recently.

Today I wrote:

I’m vaguely remembering a time when I treated her very gently — could it have been after Dad’s funeral — and she said “That terrible person won’t be around any more.”  But I didn’t see that my being kind had anything to do with it.  Now I wonder, if I could have managed to be kind might she have been able to stop drinking?  But I realize she would have needed the support of the AA community to be able to stop drinking.  And at the same time I sent out to Mom a plea for forgiveness that I didn’t see that continuing to be kind would have been a worthwhile thing to do, even if it never got mother to stop drinking.

It actually took a whole long journal entry to work through this.  I plan to publish it next.

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Order — Disorder — Reorder

This is from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today, July 25

Living in a transitional age such as ours is scary: things are falling apart, the future is unknowable, so much doesn’t cohere or make sense. We can’t seem to put order to it. This is the postmodern panic. It lies beneath most of our cynicism, our anxiety, and our aggression. Yet, there is little in the biblical revelation that ever promised us an ordered universe.     

Chaos often precedes great creativity, and faith precedes great leaps into new knowledge. The pattern of transformation begins in order, but it very quickly yields to disorder and—if we stay with it long enough in love—eventual reordering. Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender, the path to God that Jesus called “faith.” In her work on “crisis contemplation,” CAC teacher Barbara Holmes confirms what we and others have long suspected—that great suffering and great love are the two universal paths of transformation. Both are the ultimate crises for the human ego. Barbara writes:

The crisis begins without warning, shatters our assumptions about the way the world works, and changes our story and the stories of our neighbors. The reality that was so familiar to us is gone suddenly, and we don’t know what is happening. . . .

If life, as we experience it, is a fragile crystal orb that holds our daily routines and dreams of order and stability, then sudden and catastrophic crises shatter this illusion of normalcy. . . . I am referring to oppression, violence, pandemics, abuses of power, or natural disasters and planetary disturbances. . . .

We can identity three common elements in every crisis: The event is usually unexpected, the person or community is unprepared, and there is nothing that anyone could do to stop it from happening. Even if there are signs everywhere that something is not right, we tend to ignore the warnings and the signposts.

Rohr often talks about the process Order — Disorder — Reorder.  Francis Weller also talks about three stages in both trauma and initiation.

In any true initiatory process, there’s three things that happen. First, there’s a severance from the world that you once knew. Then there’s a radical alteration in your sense of identity. And then there’s a profound realization that you can never go back to the world that was. In true initiation, you don’t want to go back to the world that was. Initiation is meant to escort you into a wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.

Trauma, on the other hand, has the inverse effect. The same three things happen. There’s a severance from the world. There’s a radical alteration of the identity and in a sense, you cannot go back to what was. But what trauma does to the psyche is it reduces it down to a singularity. I become cut off and severed from that sense of being engaged with a wider and more encompassing sense of identity. I become isolated in the cosmos. If you talk to anybody who’s gone through trauma, that’s the effect that it has on the body and on the psyche. You are torn out of that sense of being a part of the cosmos.

Many people now want to get back to the old normal.  Many others recognize that the old normal was extremely unhealthy and unsustainable.  As Weller says, we need to open ourselves to a “wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.”  I have been reciting those words “wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos,” and beginning to find them very comforting.  I have gotten back to my vision of the Universe as a profoundly intelligent, profoundly complex, sacred process.

In Quaker Meeting this morning, someone gave us two quotes: “Man plans, God laughs,” and “Either you live like nothing is a miracle, or you live like everything is a miracle.”  I thought about Hydrogen burning into Helium, Lithium, Boron, Carbon, Oxygen, etc and making possible this incredibly beautiful diverse and complex world we inhabit…  I looked at Pleiades and thought — can you make luck happen?  can you break the law of gravity? Something about Rohr’s daily meditation suggested that god’s universe is a complex adaptive system, that very well might not behave like our predictions.  We simply don’t have enough information to make accurate predictions.  Anything could happen.  Every little thing we do to help direct things toward “a wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos” makes a difference.

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Blow by Blow Description of Work with “Parts”

This is an attempt to illustrate what my work with parts is like.  I wrote in my journal exactly what was going on, when it was happening.

Sunday, July 18

I think if I can’t do anything else, maybe I should try to work with my parts.  I felt “can’t go on” earlier, so I turned that way and immediately got burning and fear in my stomach.  What’s going on for you?    I am terrified! I’m exhausted!     Sounds pretty bad.  No wonder you feel exhausted.  Do you know what you’re afraid of?      Something terrible!        Now listen to me.  what you are afraid of did happen, you did get left alone, but you survived.  You are still here.  I am the you that’s grown older.  You’ve been stuck in a pocket of time, while I’ve gone on living and growing.  I don’t like being alone much, but it hasn’t killed me.  Does that help?     Can’t go on is stopped with surprise.   Deep breath.  Stomach gurgle.  I ask would you like a hug?   The part is in a place of astonishment.    I won’t hug you until you tell me it’s OK…   She flings herself into my arms.  I hold her saying Welcome! Welcome!  She is crying tears of relief like waking from a bad dream.  I think of Edith confessing to Mary that she stole the Little Things.  Redemption.  I feel another slight chill of fear.  I think it’s not “can’t go on” but another one wanting the same.  I tell it I’m sorry, I can only manage one at a time.  I ask it to dial back and it does.  Thank you.  I want to give my attention to can’t go on.  Somewhere in there I had a big burp.

“Pocket of time” is a term Nancy Napier uses to describe the experience of a part. “Stomach gurgle” something my therapist told me is an indicator of trauma release, like a yawn that mens the nervous system is shifting from activated to relaxed.  “Burp” is another one, that’s why I write them down when they occur. “Dial it back” is asking the parts to lower the amount of emotion so I can function.

I named this part “Can’t Go On.”  Edith and Mary and the Little Things are from a novel by Elizabeth Goudge.

Now an ache in my heart, turns into a chill, I think it’s grief for all the lost parts, that there are so many of them.  Listen, dear ones, you have to dial it back.  I want to be able to be there for each of you, just as I was there for can’t go on.  I have to go on and check email, have breakfast, walk the dog.

Monday, July 19

Thinking about what happened with D.  She says I yelled at her on purpose.  I tried to explain it was a part of me that was triggered, but she doesn’t get that the part is not here now, but there then.  Maybe it was “fight” energy not flight, and she was right to say I had a lot of anger — maybe that’s even what the heat is — but that’s the reptilian brainstem, not the neo-cortex.  The only thing the neo-cortex could have done would have been to recognize the anger right away and choose not to act out.  But it’s something that happens so rarely that I don’t have any practice in catching it in time.  I remember as a child something I called “red rage,” going up the stairs in Maine, saying “Rugs, Rags, Rhubarb and Rhinoceri!”

I remember using all these R-words as swear words because the usual Damn and Hell didn’t express my feelings.  I was probably a teenager.  When we were traveling together in Europe, my friend Bettie told me I didn’t have to lose my temper.  I think I must have learned from my father because he did have explosions of temper.  But after Bettie said that, I found I didn’t have to do it.

It’s so amazing.  I’ve been continuously in my adult since I started writing — except that my handwriting is badly deteriorated.  It’s pouring rain.

I thought about parking outside 45 Lyme and felt a swell of “fear” — maybe it’s more complex than that. I started to say “What you are afraid of never happened” and realized that this was probably a different part. I asked “What are you afraid of?” Got no answer but when I started writing the feeling faded. I’m getting that this one is afraid of doing something wrong and getting rejected. I remember that Lisa was more amused than angry when I said I had trouble with the scheduling, and was totally willing to do it for me, instead of insisting that I “shape up.” I can feel scared one relax.

Lisa is a Physical Therapist who works at 45 Lyme.

I think I went back with Jeanne to her apartment…

Thinking about resilience, how she has managed.  Listened to gsig-tana-mook’s TED talk where he says how amazing that he could still speak the language his ancestors spoke.  I think how amazing that I have survived everything that happened to me, and how lucky that I had money and could afford the therapy, and maybe that’s why I am called to do this deeper work.  A wave of hope in resilience swells in my heart,  — burp —  a knowing that we are going to make it.  Maybe not save the planet but at least create a community of everyone.

Jeanne is a friend dealing with Post-polio syndrome.  She pretty much lives her life from a wheel chair.  She needed help packing to go to Maine.

gkisedtanamoogk is the correct spelling of the name of the man I learned about in the film Dawnland, and who was one of the writers in The Gatherings.

Back from walking Mocha.  While I ate breakfast I read more in The Gatherings, working to strengthen and return to the Resilient One in me.  Getting ready to walk Mocha, another big surge of fear.  I said “I have to take Mocha out, but I’ll pay attention to you.  Please tell me what you need.”  I get that it needs reassurance that it is not a weakling and a coward.  I tell it/her “NO.  You are facing and dealing with issues that D, strong as she is, has refused to face.”      — teeth chattering —      I’m wearing my Journey T-shirt and remember that I say in my monologue that I’m a weakling and a coward.  “If I weren’t I could get somebody to listen to me!”  O yes!  get somebody to listen to me.  That in some ways was the worst of my abuse.  Neither Mom nor Dad listened to me and validated what was going on for me.  I tell that one now “People don’t listen because they don’t want to face the things you are courageous enough to face.”

Resilient One is an older self, older than I am now, who has learned to live after initiation.  Teeth chattering is a trauma release I learned about from Somatic Experiencing.

Tuesday, July 20

Terror got big before I even started cooking breakfast.  I realize I hadn’t responded to C’s email about scheduling a day for her to come and help me, and I also got a bunch of emails from A about the Perseid meteor shower and other sky-watching.  I realized that I’m afraid both of them will judge me for falling apart.  So I have a part who’s terrified of judgement, and a part who’s angry at me for falling apart.  Yesterday started out with me feeling so good and solid in my real self.  The sense of resilience in my heart.  And now it’s all gone.  “Don’t think you’re so great!”  That part is angry at me for feeling good.

“Falling apart” essentially means that I can’t do something that would probably help if I could do it.  It’s the triggered fear that stops me, not the fear of actually doing the thing.  At least if it’s a thing I know I can do.  Stage fright never stopped me.  I don’t know why this fear does.  Maybe because part of it is “freeze,” and what’s triggered is a very young part not an adult.  Gosh that’s hard to explain!

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Rescuing Young Parts

My therapist and I are working with Richard Schwartz’s ideas, developed over the last 20 years as Internal Family Systems.  Instead of being able to deal with parts who can talk individually, I get flooded by parts who are desperate and terrified. I suspect that these parts are pre-verbal and so I have to “tune in” to what’s going on for them. It is very hard work just to be able to cook breakfast and walk the dog, and almost impossible to do things like call Toyota and make an appointment for a badly needed checkup for my car — which I did manage to do.  I have not yet been able to make an eye appointment.  Someone suggested I call Kirsten for help, but I haven’t even been able to do that.  I have posted about a couple of parts, and also about rescuing babies, one from as long ago as 2016.  Don’t even remember how I knew about that technique of soul-retrieval.

Here are some relevant earlier posts:

Rescuing another little jenny   oct 2016

A new part of me    feb 2020

Work with parts in the IFS model:

Work with Younger Parts of Me       June 9, 2021

Work with Stuck Energy      June 18, 2021

Angry One     June 24, 2021

 

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My Indigenous Celtic Soul

Something I’ve been discovering lately, after reading The Gatherings, is that I in fact have an indigenous soul, and an indigenous spirituality.  I realized that the traditional folk dances are indigenous, they come from people who had lived for generations on the same land.

This post is made up from excerpts from earlier posts (with links to the earlier posts) with some summations and additions.

Folk Dance as “Experiential Worship

When I was living in Brunswick Maine in 1975, I found out that there was a local folkdance group that met Wednesday nights.  I went and loved it.  A synchronicity happened that first night, a woman came in with a record under her arm and wanted to teach a simple dance.  We lined up shoulder to shoulder.  It was 3 steps moving to the left, arms go down, and 3 steps in place, arms come up.  The music started with bagpipes and immediately I was on a moor in Scotland with a bonfire and a full moon rising.  Dottie wound us into the tight spiral at the end.  It turned out the music was by Alan Stivell, a harpist from Brittany.  I had never heard of Brittany, but I immediately realized that this was the music and dance of my Celtic ancestors (Scots and Irish.)  I had always envied the Greeks and the Israelis their ethnic music and dance, and now I found my own ethnic heritage.  Within a very few years I traveled to Brittany and went to a number of “fest-noz”, night festivals, with a band and 100 people dancing in long lines.  A whole part of myself woke up and rejoiced.

In 1988, a friend told me that there was going to be “Sacred Circle Dancing” on the green in Danville Vermont, to celebrate the Fall Equinox.  “Sacred Circle Dancing, what’s that?”  So I went and found a circle of people doing a dance I already knew, around a centerpiece made of a scarf, a candle, a bowl of water, and a feather.  Well of course!  I already knew the traditional dances carried sacred energy, but here it was being acknowledged.

The Red Woman

Thinking about having this person wake up in me.  She is both me and not me, she is huge, she is a flame, a fountain, she has wings, and my life is dedicated to her service.  Is she my soul? God?  She seems much bigger than I ever imagined my soul to be, and at the same time she is much more personal and unique to me than I could ever imagine God.

The work that we do together is the geomantic healing of the planet earth.  I know the timing of the festivals and the steps of the dances, and the placement of the stones.  And I am part of that company of human beings who have chosen to take the abuse of the planet into our own bodies and heal it there.  Such a feeling of stepping into my heritage, little things making sudden sense, all the pieces of my life falling into place.

This was written in 1989. At that time I still had no idea that I was dealing with PTSD.  Once I was able to accept that I had been traumatized in infancy, I realized that trauma is a shamanic initiation.

It wasn’t until 1998 that I painted the “Red Woman” at Aviva Gold’s “Painting from the Source.”  It was a long time before I connected the two.

Francis Weller describes the difference between trauma and initiation.

From a talk published in Kosmos Journal:

In any true initiatory process, there’s three things that happen. First, there’s a severance from the world that you once knew. Then there’s a radical alteration in your sense of identity. And then there’s a profound realization that you can never go back to the world that was. In true initiation, you don’t want to go back to the world that was. Initiation is meant to escort you into a wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.

Trauma, on the other hand, has the inverse effect. The same three things happen. There’s a severance from the world. There’s a radical alteration of the identity and in a sense, you cannot go back to what was. But what trauma does to the psyche is it reduces it down to a singularity. I become cut off and severed from that sense of being engaged with a wider and more encompassing sense of identity. I become isolated in the cosmos. If you talk to anybody who’s gone through trauma, that’s the effect that it has on the body and on the psyche. You are torn out of that sense of being a part of the cosmos.

The basic difference is that initiation happens in a container which allows transformation to happen. That doesn’t happen in trauma.

Weller describes the container:

What distinguishes these two things is initiation, what I call the contained encounter with death. The containment was provided by the community, by the elders, by the ancestors, by the rituals, by the space itself. In a sense, you are initiated into a place, not into abstraction. You are actually initiated into the ground beneath your feet. Those are the five things that provided a containment field for that encounter with death, because all initiations require some kind of encounter with death.

Reading this, I realize that Neskaya is a container for initiation.  It totally amazes me that I somehow knew what was needed and created it deliberately. Perhaps it was my indigenous soul that knew, that led me to folk dance, that woke up when I did my first Celtic dance, that sent me to Brittany where I actually danced with a hundred Bretons in a field with live music and a full moon rising.  My indigenous soul that said “Let’s build it!” of the dance hall/dojo my husband and I talked about.  The design, a twelve sided figure made into an 8-sided one by extending the first and third sides, that mirrored the Cross-Quarter days of the Old Nature Religion of Western Europe… which I only realized when I wanted to teach a workshop called “Dancing the Sacred Calendar.” 

Neskaya Movement Arts Center was designed as “sacred space” for movement disciplines that are also spiritual practices.

In the belief that everything is connected to everything else, and that if humans are to survive the current planetary crisis, we need to recognize that we are a part of the natural world,  Neskaya offers ways of celebrating our place in the natural world thru seasonal celebrations.  In the belief that one of the ways to end war is to make our differences a reason for celebrating rather than fighting, we do dances from around the world. In times of crisis, we dance to support everyone in finding the best way out.  At the time of the fighting in Kosovo, we did dances from Kosovo, Albania, and Serbia as a prayer for this region to heal its differences.  We do “Red Rain,” played by musicians from Greece, Turkey and Armenia, as a prayer for peace between cultures that have been fighting each other for generations.

Our mission is to promote inner happiness, healthy social connections and world peace through the practice of celebrating our differences.  By offering such activities as Sacred Circle Dance and Yoga we want to heal the divisions between soul and body, between people of different cultural backgrounds and between human beings and the material body of our planet.

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Dawnland and The Gatherings

Early in January, Hanover Friends Meeting hosted a talk by Bruce Duthu about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Maine.  The TRC was intended to uncover the truth about child-welfare practice with Maine’s Native people.  They wanted to create opportunities for Natives to speak about their experiences and heal from them.  Dawnland, a documentary about the commission’s work, was released in 2018.  Bruce was important in the making of the film, and he arranged for us to see it before he did a talk to the members of the Meeting on Zoom.

June 18 I watched the recording of the Beacon Hill Friends discussion with the authors of The Gatherings.

A few days later I went to Kilowatt North with some friends and dogs.  A familiar looking man was seated on a bench near the water.  We started talking to him, and he turned out to be Bruce Duthu.  I mentioned The Gatherings to him, and he said he had the book on order and was waiting for it eagerly.  As a result, I ordered the book the next day, and the Norwich Bookstore called back right away with the information that they had the book in the shop.

The Gatherings is a book about meetings between Natives and Non-Natives to create more understanding about their differences.  The subtitle is Reimagining Indigenous-Settler Relations.  After two meetings, the Natives said they wanted to use a Native form, the circle with a talking piece, and also have some of their ceremonies.  A circle with a talking piece can use a stick, a microphone, a piece of pottery, any object.  The person with the talking piece is the only one who speaks, everyone else just listens.  All the Non-Natives had powerful experiences.

Shirley Hager is the Non-Native who did much work to put the book together. Her name is on the front along with the word “Mawopiyane,” which means a group gathered together for a specific purpose.  There are stories of their experiences written by seven Natives and seven non-Natives who participated.

Shirley writes “Being in those Circles was a spiritual experience, I don’t know any other name for it; as if we were doing something so right with Creation that you could feel it.” p66 “I felt a subtle shift from seeing myself as primarily a listener and learner in relation to the Wabanaki participants, to feeling that we were partners in something larger than ourselves — our shared concern for the Earth and for one another’s well-being.” p69

Another white participant, Joann, who is of Irish descent, was told by a Native “If I were you I would go to Ireland and walk the land.” p111  After spending time in Ireland, she says “You’re there to find your identity; you’re there to understand something really very deep — your original connection to the land. We need it; we absolutely need that sense of belonging in order to live. Once you have it, you want the environment to be healthy and you want to protect it wherever you are.” p112.

Dawnland and The Gatherings helped me see the importance of my own Celtic Heritage — a Scots grandmother and an Irish grandmother — and the Celtic soul in me that rose up when I first did a Celtic folk dance.

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Forgiveness

From my journal for Monday, June 28

Yesterday was a miserable day.  The low-grade fear or whatever it is in my heart is so uncomfortable.  I’ve been trying to get her to tell me what the problem is, but so far I haven’t heard anything.  I keep guessing.  Are you afraid of me rejecting you if you tell me what’s wrong?  Are you afraid of me?  I feel a pause & relief.  It’s OK to be afraid of me.  I’ve pushed you away a lot.  I’m so sorry. so so sorry.  There, there.  I’m hesitant because I’m scared of doing the wrong thing.  What comes is an image of Dana looking at me so coldly when I came back to the house to get some of my things after the divorce.        

I think there’s still some confusion and misunderstanding between us, but I’m willing to work it out.  You don’t have to do anything you’re not old enough to do.  I’ve managed to do almost all the things that needed a grown-up to do.

I feel the burning in my heart again.  It’s some kind of baffled fury at what’s happening on the planet, and my inability to take action.  There’s some intense tangle here.  We may need some further piece of information.

Yes, I really want to know what’s going on for you.  If it’s something bad or scary I’ve done or said, I’d like to be able to reassure you that it was a mistake, that I won’t do it again.  There there Little One.  I’m so sorry you’ve been hurt so badly.

Were you afraid I was sending you away when I sent “these energies” to the white light?  I feel the burning in my heart.  I know I didn’t always get the exact words right, but I never meant to send you away.

I’ve spent my whole first cup of tea working on this and I still feel the burning in my heart.  I really need some help.

Second cup of tea.  Blessed Lord Jesus have mercy on me.  Please!  Now I have to wait patiently for help to manifest.

I continued writing about yesterday.  Then, after I finished writing about yesterday, I went on in imagination and this is what happened.

Trying to reassure the one I’ve been working with that I don’t want to send her away.  I see a small child, maybe 5 yr old, crying and running frantically toward me.  I get that it’s a situation where she did something wrong and tried to apologize and mother wouldn’t accept it.  There was no forgiveness.  My heart goes out, I take her in my arms and say I’m not like that.  God’s not like that.  Of course I forgive you for giving me a bad time.

I don’t have an actual memory of Mother refusing to forgive me.  I didn’t realize that’s what happened until I saw the movie “Mommie Dearest,” and when the adopted daughter says “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” the mother says “Just don’t do it again.”  There was no “That’s OK,” or “I still love you.”  I learned that the only thing I could have done “right” was not to have done whatever it was in the first place.  Then there was the threat to “send me back to Sears & Roebucks,” which told me that not only would I not be forgiven, but I would be sent away to some impersonal adult place where I wasn’t wanted.

I choose to trust that I am in a healing process, and that all my mistakes are forgiven.

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Angry One

Feeling desperately scared the morning of June 22, I found it really hard even to go through my well-practiced routine of cooking breakfast.  As soon as I finished breakfast and walked Mocha, I went down to the Clinic to see if anyone could see me, and to just sit there where there were people around.  They were able to arrange a meeting with my primary care person, Karen Skalla, at 10:00.  When I got there, Kirsten King, a staff member concerned with community health was there also.  They made sure that was OK with me.  I figure I need all the help I can get.  

They suggested I have a definite plan for when I first get up.  I explained that I have my first cup of tea and write in my journal, and have a definite routine up to walking the dog.  The problem is when I wake up at 4 or 5AM, too tired to get up, too scared to go back to sleep.  One of them suggested I have a tape to listen to.  I know that Nancy Napier and Belleruth Naparstek make tapes (and CD’s) for relaxation in stressful situations.  So that sounded like a good idea.  Being reminded of Belleruth Naparstek also reminded me about her book, Invisible Heroes, about trauma survivors.  I got it out and started reading — the book was published in 2004, shortly after I started Somatic Experiencing, and I found it helpful — and found it even more helpful now that I’m struggling with confusing symptoms.

From my journal for Wednesday, June 23

Went to bed last night listening to Sharon Salzberg on Lovingkindness.  This was the suggestion of the medical folks for what I should do first thing in the morning when I feel scared.  So I played the CD last night & fell asleep easily.  Then when I woke up in the middle of the night and felt the first hit of fear I put it on again and went right back to sleep.  Finally at 6, I woke up and was hit with a real jolt of heat.  I told it to go away and it got stronger.  OK, I’ve got to find out who this is.  I put on Sharon again and continued to try to find out more about where this heat is coming from, what it’s about.  I suspect it’s anger — I just got a hit, it’s very young.  That shifted everything.  The one who broke David’s windows.  Davis.  The Madwoman of Chaillot.  Earth Day.  Rewriting Genesis.  The one who has a lot to say and never got a chance.  Something like that.  The child who was validated by Dr. Asher.

The Sharon Salzberg CD is the 3 CD set on Lovingkindness put out by Sounds True.

The jolt of heat is a jolt of fear, it almost feels like I’m burning, it carried an intense sense of DO SOMETHING.

David was my boyfriend who abandoned me, and I went to his apartment and when he wouldn’t answer me I got my car jack and started breaking his windows.  Dr Asher was a psychiatrist I was seeing who, when I told him about my childhood, said “You must have been very frightened.”  The Madwoman of Chaillot was put on at the University at Davis, California.  It was a great performance with environmental overtones added by the students.  The first Earth Day was celebrated that spring of 1970.

Finally I realized that this one was ANGRY.  Angry at me for not standing up for myself.  I didn’t write down this realization, so I don’t remember where in the day it happened. Before I thought that it was very young I got the word “antagonistic” and thought it might be angry at me.  Well it was, but on my behalf, SHE was angry that I didn’t stand up for myself.  It was the first and only time I got angry enough to commit violence.

From my journal for Thursday, June 24

Yesterday, after connecting with Angry One, I felt a little high all day. Possibly energized by the anger that was finally reclaimed.  So it was a good day.

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Work with Stuck Energy

From my journal for Wednesday, June 16

“May this energy go to where it can be used for the highest and best good of all.”  I woke at about 4:20 and felt the burning energy in my heart and elbows.  I realized it’s not so much fear as stuck energy.  Trying to talk to parts was not helping, so I worked on trying to find the best words to send the energy out to do good in the world.  I saw images of very strange dark unstructured places, maybe slums and hippy houses.  I didn’t try to figure anything out, just kept saying my prayer.  The heat faded and came back many times.  Finally I began to feel empty and cool and quiet which was wonderful.  It certainly feels like this is the right thing to be doing.  In some ways “stuck energy” is the definition of trauma.  Maybe I am helping the collective trauma by doing this work.  I certainly hope so.

The heat in my heart and elbows was familiar from something I felt a lot during the Summer from Hell, after I had freaked out on Paxil.

“Unstructured” is a word used by Matt Licata.  Something I expected would make me uncomfortable, but in this work I was so focussed on sending the energy out that I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the images.

From my journal for Thursday, June 17

OK whoever you are.  I’m sorry I’ve been avoiding you by playing puzzles.  No wonder you’ve been coming on stronger.  I just got a new post from Matt.  I went there, and he’s talking about grief. he speaks of “the forgotten, broken-hearted orphans” and I feel tears come.  Perhaps you are one of those.  I wonder if you have something to do with the heat I was feeling yesterday, perhaps you are the one who lived through the summer from hell in 1996.  The words “fear is a choice” come.  I remember how the woman said that at Jalaja’s Circlework Training, and how my fear went through the roof.  It took days to talk myself down.  I feel your fear, and that you are afraid you are never going to come out of it.  I tell you that we, or I, come out of it over and over.  You, as a frightened part, may be stuck in fear.  But fear is not a choice, unless you choose to tell yourself scary stories.  You are not doing that.  Something truly fearful happened to you, I don’t know what it was because there are a number of possibilities.  Your experience was truly overwhelming, your capacity to process it was swamped, and so you experience it as present reality.  But instinct, not cognitive choice sent you into a place of frozen terror.  I am so sorry that happened to you, that the psychiatrist who prescribed the Paxil didn’t believe you when you said you were afraid.  It wasn’t until Char said “You wanted to be un-depressed so badly that you kept on taking it, even though you were scared out of your wits.”  There, there.  I hold her and rock her, tears in my eyes.  “It was not your fault.”  And because of it, you were unable to take in all the goodness that was there at the Circlework Training.  That deserves grief, it is not wrong for you to grieve that that happened to you.  You have a right to grieve all your unlived [unloved] life.

My journal writing these difficult days has been full of wrong words, left out words, mistakes that make sense…  “playing puzzles” must have been a memory of when I used to play solitaire compulsively.  The word unlived was rejected by my spell checker and replaced with “unloved.”  In some ways both are true.

Disclaimer: I usually try very hard to make sure what I’ve written is understandable. Today my brain is not working well enough to have any idea of whether this post is understandable. You could see it as an example of living with PTSD.

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Trauma | Comments Off on Work with Stuck Energy