Work with Younger Parts of Me

To explain to people I trust when they ask how I am, I’ve been saying: “I’m dealing with flashbacks to early trauma, and I often feel terrified.”  The reality is that I am overwhelmed with very young parts who are terrified, and working with them can be tricky.  Slightly edited notes from my journal for today, Wednesday, June 9.

Woke at 5, burning heart, heat all over body.  It was a real struggle, but I finally managed to connect with young one and to convince her that she should not have been left with younger ones to care for, that she was much too young.  She had a really hard time getting it.  I just realized that she might have thought that she just wasn’t good enough.  NO. You were too young.  It’s not that you could have done it, but you didn’t try hard enough.  It’s not that someone else your age could have done it but you weren’t good enough.  It’s wrong that you were left alone with younger children.  Young one asks “Then why did they do it?”  Because they were irresponsible parents.  It was too scary to see that when you were a child, so you had to make it be that you were the one who was not good enough.  I feel her relax with a big sigh.  I tell her I am the older one now, and I will take care of her and not ask her to do things she can’t do.

My heart gets cold.  I think it must be about the phone and all the other devices I don’t know how to take care of because I’m caught in a younger part.  I feel “I can’t go on” get big again.  I tell her she doesn’t have to, that I can find help.

Just had to reassure another little one, or a bunch of little ones, that I want to be present for each one, but if I’m overwhelmed I can’t be present, so I need them to dial back.  They do, and I feel a gush of gratitude.  Good work, you guys!  We’re managing together.

Looking for help yesterday, I went to see the Doctor, and she said it was OK to raise my dose of Buspar to help with anxiety.

I took 2 buspar at bedtime.  It felt like it took a while to go to sleep, and then I woke at 5, did all that inner work, and felt very sleepy when I finally got up.  It ’s like I’m too relaxed to function, but still terrified.

Dear little ones who are scared, you can go to the Bodhisattva of Compassion — I look at my statue of her holding a baby — if you need help.  I don’t want to send you there because you might feel rejected, but if you want help, she’s available.  I will still be available when it works out for me to be with each one of you.

It seems to me there are some major categories.  There’s the tiny baby who’s been left alone and is in a state of frozen terror.  There’s the one trying to protect me from Mom, but who shuts out everyone else too.  There’s the one who feels responsible to take care of younger ones.  Reassuring her is tricky.  If I tell her she doesn’t have to take care of younger ones any more, she might feel rejected, so I have to reassure her that I still want to be connected to her.  I also have to make sure that she understands that she is too young to care for younger ones, not incompetent.

This is such hard work!

O yes, there’s also the one who can’t go on.  I have to reassure her that Erica and I can take care of the younger ones, that I have help, that she can relax and rest, and that I still need her as part of myself.  Maybe she’s the hardest one.  To reassure without rejecting.  Well, I managed to reassure the one who is too young, that she is truly too young, and not incompetent or a failure.

God.  No wonder I’m exhausted.

Having trouble with things seeming very strange when I walk around, and feeling so overwhelmed.  I asked the little ones to use their venetian blinds.  I realized why I’ve been feeling so odd, even tho I’m doing better.  It’s because younger parts are awake in me, and they are seeing this world for the first time.

“Venetian Blinds” was a suggestion made to me as a highly sensitive person, to help me cut down on sensory input.

Sometimes I think it must be hard for these young ones to wake up in an old body and realize they never got to live the life in between.

When I think about this, I feel enormous grief.

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Bombed-Out Village, Reprise

On May 24, I wrote my “primary wound history,” following the assignment from Matt’s course. At the end of this writing I say:

At least writing this has helped make the fear fade.  I also am somewhat surprised to see what enormous hardship I’ve been through, and how well I have done just to survive.  I haven’t even begun to address the second part of the question.

From my journal for Tuesday, May 25

3rd cup. Kombucha.  Not wanting tea or coffee or caffeine.  Walking Mocha I thought of the bombed-out village, and the dreams of atomic bombs, seeing the pictures of Hiroshima in Life magazine, the possibility that in my last life I died in London during the Blitz, the truth that there are presently bombed-out villages in Syria, in Gaza, in Afghanistan…  I remembered that strange feeling at Debbie’s when I seemed to be in two places at once.  So I continue to be in the bombed-out village, aware of the 3yo who’s there too.  It feels like there’s no point in trying to talk to her right now.  But as long as I stay in the bombed-out village, I don’t feel scared.

Hiroshima was bombed on August 6, 1945.  I was three years old on August 25.  I saw drawings in Life magazine — I presume because there were no photographs — the drawings were line drawings in black ink with some swathes of red.  They showed people running and falling, buildings crumbling, fires. I knew that some disaster had happened to the world.  The earliest dream I remember, I have no idea how old I was, was that I was in the living room of our house, and the atomic bomb fell just outside the window.  I could see it, it looked like a huge bullet, it was an evil yellowish metallic color.  I turned around and tried to run away, but my knees were like rubber and I could barely move.

From my journal for Wednesday, May 26

The “bombed-out village” came to mind, and I kept it present while I walked with Mocha.  It helped calm the fear, and a bunch of other associations came to mind.

I think one reason it helped with the fear is that when I walk around with triggered trauma, I feel like I’m in a war zone, but there’s no one there with me. If I were in a real war-zone, there would be others there to validate my experience.

From my journal for Sunday, May 30

3rd cup. dandelion.  That was a surprise.  Reminding myself of what happened to me actually made me feel better.  There’s so much emphasis on not going over the bad things that happened, and I know that can keep people stuck, but in my case I need the reminder of exactly what did happen, how I had no choice about learning dysfunctional strategies, and that these dysfunctional patterns, and flashbacks to real events, are not character flaws.  Which is of course how I first defined them, because I had no idea of what had really happened.

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Finding Help for Terror

What would be a 3rd cup writing except I’m too scared for caffeine.  Looking for help, I went to Matt’s blog, and just intuitively clicked on April 2019, then on “A Container of Holding.”  Matt reminds me that I’m not alone, that there are other empaths out there with wounded younger parts, who are feeling terror for the destruction of the earth.  I am suddenly aware of a huge crowd, and people are coming to sit down next to me.  It is comforting to know I’m not alone, I’m in the company of my peers.  

Before sitting down to write, I prayed to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, saying that I simply couldn’t handle this much fear, that I need some help with even the fear that is legitimately mine.  Then I got out the statue of the Bodhisattva holding a baby and set her up in front of the big crystal.  I intended to light a candle in front of her, but got distracted until I looked up just now, after doing this writing.

Thank You.  I still feel  little fear, but I also feel comforted.  I am not alone.  There are people sitting near me, and people all around the planet doing the lovingkindness meditation for all beings.

These are paragraphs from Matt’s blog that helped the most:

Is it my pain alone that I am feeling, my personal emotional overwhelm, my trauma, my grief, my uncertainty, my anguish? It’s so much to hold. Or is it that of the ancestors, the stories and feelings and memories and images of those who have come before, or even have yet to come? It is not always easy to tell and the weight of tending to it all can be unbearable at times. 

While recognizing our common humanity and history—and the vast relational field that we share with others who have come to know healing, wholeness, and mercy—doesn’t necessarily make the pain go away, it provides a context or container of holding in which we can find the strength, the hope, and the vision to find a way through, to discover a light that has never truly gone out.

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Primary Wound History

I wrote this yesterday as part of a program given by Matt Licata, who is a trauma-sensitive therapist and writer.  I found about him from a piece of his blog, which was posted on Jalaja Bonheim’s Circlework Page.  I’m in a time of feeling a lot of triggered fear, and find Matt’s work comforting.  So I signed up for a course called The Path of the Wounded Healer.  It includes talks by Matt, Q & A sessions from the Zoom version, meditations and writing exercises.  The following is what I wrote in answer to the Question: Write a few paragraphs about the primary wounds you’ve suffered/ struggled with in your life and what you have learned from these experiences. In what ways have you come to see your wounding as supportive of your path and in what ways has it been an obstacle? 

Primary wounds: being left alone too much as an infant — trauma, frozen because fight-flight not online yet.  Also no object constancy so mother is really nonexistent when I can’t see her.  Very much in line with the frozen fear I’ve been feeling lately where there is no friendly presence in the universe.  Then Mother’s “mis-representation” of me to myself.  Instead of mirroring me accurately, so I would have some idea of who I really was, she projected her cold, selfish, narcissistic persona on to me so I learned I was incapable of loving, I didn’t care about anything, and I “thought I was so great.”

Until I was 42, I thought I was defective.  That’s still my default, I fall back into it very easily.  When I was 42, I found out about Children of Alcoholic parents.  My parents weren’t violent, but because of their drinking they weren’t really available and present for me.  The new information let me know that I wasn’t defective.  I had learned dysfunctional behavior from dysfunctional parents, and I could unlearn it.  I had been in & out of therapy since I was in my twenties, but now I came at it from another direction.  I looked to identify and dismantle the COA patterns.  I went to workshops for COA’s, drove 2 1/2 hours to Boston with a friend to go to the first COA workshop offered, and then to go to a special group for women.  This carried me a long way, but looking back I can see that the idea that I am defective stayed untouched in a very deep place.  The very early trauma didn’t help since my brain and nervous system matured under the influence of trauma, which left me with a strong bias toward negativity and being easily triggered.

(Not mentioned: in my 20’s I cut myself for a few years and was hospitalized for violent behavior when abandoned by a boyfriend.)

As a result of early trauma and alcoholic parents I suffered from severe depression until I was 55.  I knew I’d had bad depressions, but didn’t know how bad it was until I was diagnosed with severe depression and told I should get on medication right away.  My first attempt at medication was a terrifying experience, but when I finally got on one that worked, and experienced normal brain chemistry for the first time, I was astounded.  It was a completely new experience.  As a consequence, my husband of 18 years left me for another woman.  He had only stayed with me because he thought I would kill myself if he left.

The main reason our marriage failed was because I was unable to be sexual.  Because of the self-mutilation, I explored the possibility of having been sexually abused as a child, but never got any conclusive evidence.

A good friend, who had been majorly traumatized in her early life, told me more than once that she thought I was dealing with the same thing, but I didn’t believe her.  I thought trauma was caused by violence, and my parents had never been violent.  Finally, my friend started doing Somatic Experiencing and having positive results.  I read Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger, and when I went into a spiral of terror on reading the chapter on hyper-vigilance, I put the book aside (as they recommended) and made an appointment to see an S.E. practitioner.  Somewhere, Peter Levine says an infant can be traumatized by being left alone in a cold room.  Learning the mechanism behind trauma, that when the reptilian brainstem concludes the organism is in danger of death, it triggers survival mode.  If the person is unable to fight or flee, the instinctive default is freeze.  Freeze means that the enormous energy that has not been used in fighting or fleeing is still locked up in the body.  A baby can’t fight or flee, so survival mode goes to freeze.  If the energy frozen in the body is not discharged somehow, the experience does not get metabolized, but remains in the body to be triggered over and over again. The person is forced to experience the undigested pieces of the experience.  When those flashbacks happen, the person does not experience them as memory, but as present happenings.  This is why the combat veteran’s body dives behind the couch before his brain has time to identify a car backfiring out in the street.  I used this to tell myself when I was terrified — NOT “There’s nothing to be afraid of” or “You are perfectly safe” which are invalidating and only make me feel worse — but “What you are afraid of really happened.  But it happened in the past, it’s not happening now.”  Sometimes I would add “Mother is dead, she can’t hurt you any more.”  This didn’t make the fear go away, but at least it gave me an intellectual container.

At least writing this has helped make the fear fade.  I also am somewhat surprised to see what enormous hardship I’ve been through, and how well I have done just to survive.  I haven’t even begun to address the second part of the question.

Posted in Depression, Present Day, Trauma, Writing | Comments Off on Primary Wound History

Empathetic Distress

From Kosmos Journal, 5/18/21

Unfortunately, the difficulties of late capitalism, as more of us are pressured to compete with each other in distorted markets, while we increasingly perceive the turbulence both around and ahead of us, means that anxiety is increasing in many parts of the world and for many age-groups. Within our modern cultures, we have also been schooled to feel fearful of not knowing. A growing sense of vulnerability, due to increasingly precarious personal circumstances and perception of a more turbulent world, means we can grasp for ‘correct’ answers rather than allow for more ‘not knowing’ and more maplessness.

The great risk of such habitual responses is that they will lead more people to latch onto the simple stories offered to them by incumbent power, on the one hand, and opportunist contrarians on the other. 

by Katie Carr, of Deep Adaptation

From Oneing, a pamphlet, this one on Trauma, produced by the Center for Action and Contemplation:

We might ask, what could be the consequences of merging with the sufferer through overidentification? I am not talking about a fleeting moment of sensing or understanding but about an experience of deeply fusing with the suffering of others physically, emotionally, and/or cognitively and not releasing the experience. 

When we identify too strongly with someone who is suffering, our emotions can push us over the edge into distress that might mirror the anguish of those whom we are trying to serve. 

by Roshi Joan Halifax, in a section called “Empathetic Distress”

It comes from her latest book: Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet (New York: Flatiron, 2018) 

Trying to deal with what I now suspect is Empathetic Distress, I came up with three prayers, from May 16        “Whatever of this is not mine, may it be drawn into the ball of white light and sent to the healing realms.”  “I choose to trust that there are beings in the universe who are bigger, stronger, and wiser than me, and who are available to help us all go in a positive direction.”  “I offer myself to this process.”

I go back again and again to this passage.  It’s part of a long journal entry from 1996, when I was suffering from the terror produced by the paxil episode, before I got on anti-depressant medication that worked, and before I realized that I had been traumatized in infancy.

But the truth is, going over the whole thing in detail again again, writing down exactly what the fear feels like and then seeing how it matches my childhood, results in me feeling much less fearful, much more stable, seeing beyond the shoulders of my parents’ shadows to the possibility of a real Universe, big enough, wild enough, creative enough, compassionate enough, to meet my Soul’s need.

Recently I read the whole statement as part of sharing my “Spiritual Journey”  with the Quaker Community in Hanover.  What I saw was that if my soul needed a universe that was big, wild, creative and compassionate, then my soul was big, wild, creative, and compassionate, and since my soul is a hologram of the Universe, then the Universe must also be at least as Big, Wild, Creative, and Compassionate as my soul.

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“Unreal” Suffering

I’ve been struggling with almost continuous terror for the last three days. Knowing it was trauma-based, being pretty sure it was because of social distancing, I tried to spend more time with people, but even eating dinner together didn’t help. My journal writing this morning was pretty desperate, but when I walked Mocha, I found some things that made a difference.  The fear has not gone, but it’s lessened enough that I can manage. I still find practical things almost impossible, except for absolutely necessary things like cooking and getting food and walking the dog.  This is what I wrote later:

3rd cup. dandelion root tea.  I’ve discovered some prayers that help.  “Whatever of this is not mine, may it be drawn into the ball of white light and sent to the healing realms.”  “I choose to trust that there are beings in the universe who are bigger, stronger, and wiser than me, and who help us all go in a positive direction.”  “I offer myself to this process.”

I said these while I walked Mocha.  Also reminded myself that I do love Mocha, even when I don’t have loving feelings or feel connected.

I thought about the mystery that some suffering is “real”: Joe lost his wife, Rob fell and hurt his back.  Another friend had some mysterious illness with psychotic symptoms but is doing better — she came by our dining table last night with a walker, looking pale and weak.  There are people struggling with poverty and racism and marginalization, losing their jobs, being treated unfairly by the police, etc. etc. 

Then there’s suffering that’s “unreal” like mine.  Yes I know it was caused by an event in the past, but there’s no direct evidence.  My suffering is almost entirely invisible feelings, that other people don’t see, that they mostly don’t understand because the feelings don’t connect with something obvious and present.  Maybe even because, as I think it’s Lenore Terr who says, the fear and rage of a trauma survivor don’t feel like normal fear and anger.  I think the terror I experience is frozen terror, the default of freeze.  I suppose the freeze without fear is apathy, but the freeze with fear reminds me of dreams when I tried to run away from a bomb and my knees were like rubber.

One of the difficulties in believing that it’s not my fault, besides my father telling me “You’re miserable because you want to be,” is that I didn’t know about the trauma until I was nearly 60. Not understanding about the cause for my difficulties left me believing that I was defective.

What is the purpose of “unreal” suffering?  Because it’s not directly caused by someone else, there’s no one to blame.  I always took responsibility for healing my misery, although I also blamed myself, judged myself harshly.  That’s why the prayers are such a help.  They represent handing it over to something I trust, a healing process if not a loving being.  I guess one thing that that makes “unreal” suffering so difficult and painful is most people judge the suffering person, and refuse to feel sympathy.

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A Sojourn in Hell

Here are some extracts from my journal for the week after I fell and hurt my knee on Monday, April 5.  See Knockdown.  During the week my knee got worse, and I had a very bad time psychologically.  I think these pieces give a sense of the interaction of trauma with the stress of the pandemic.

from my journal for Sunday, April 11:

Trying to think about how I feel right now, which is totally miserable.  I thought I was going to do better today because I woke up without the headache and not feeling so sick.  But I was too tired to drink more than one cup of ginger tea, to put out my supplements — I had only my meds this morning — too tired to write emails I’d like to.  I did make a full breakfast and manage to eat it, and do the dishwasher.  I’ve iced my knee a couple of times.

My psyche feels tied up in knots.  Like there’s no refuge.  I feel anxious about all the things I have to do, even though I don’t think about them I feel the tension.  There’s no relief, no refuge.  I’m sure this is the result of being too much alone. 

I ate a fruit cup and I’ll have some soup later for lunch.  Mocha has left me for the chair, so I think I’ll lie down on the couch.  I haven’t been able to read — Gentian Hill — and I haven’t been able to type journal, both normal ways I keep occupied.

Gentian Hill is a Novel by Elizabeth Goudge, one that I read over and over.

I’m terrified that I won’t be able to talk for Erica for two weeks after next Tuesday as she will be away.

Called for help and had to leave messages.

This is triggering because as an infant, left alone, my cries for help were often not answered. If I call someone and they don’t call back, I start feeling scared.

I was thinking that this place that I am, every part of me uncomfortable, every system tied up in knots, is Hell.  I looked at myself in Hell and thought, well OK I can do that.  No sense of compassion, more like how I felt at 3AM when I was thinking “I won’t do the family Zoom any more,” and my true self knew I didn’t mean it, supported me in letting off steam.  Now it’s more standing beside myself in “choiceness awareness.”  It’s OK, you can handle it, and it won’t be able to hurt you.

Monday, April 12

I feel as miserable in my body as I’ve ever felt.  Slept badly last night.  I invited myself over to Dulany’s last night hoping that company would help.  She wanted to watch a movie which I found very painful.  Didn’t feel connected to Dulany.  She said the other dog folks asked about me, but no one called me.

So I’m feeling completely confused.  Am I being too hard on myself or too easy?  It felt like I just gave up the last couple of days, but no one has come to rescue me.  I don’t even know who to ask for help, or what help would look like.

Part of me is saying OK, nobody’s going to help you, so you just have to shape up.  Another part says I need help — please someone help me.  Trying to find a prayer last night — I tried “Lord God have mercy on me,” and “May all beings be held in loving kindness,” and just counting breaths.  I can hang on to them pretty well, but they don’t shift anything.

It looks like I’m going to be in Hell for a while, so I’ll forget trying to feel better, but I’ve got to take better care of my body.  I did notice yesterday that my knee felt better after walking around Scattergood.

I’m thinking that it’s the Tough Drip that got knocked down so badly that she just can’t keep going, and immediately my heart goes out to her.  There, there, tough drip.  It’s time you took a rest.

Everything I think, or look at, or read about, I feel grief.  Knowing that I will lose Mocha some day.  Feeling anger for the Black people who are treated so unfairly, anger and grief for the earth and plants and animals that are exploited and abused.  It’s all a weight and a soreness on my heart.  I have no place for it to go.  No friend who would grieve with me.  No sense of a compassionate spirit holding all of this pain.  Yet people I trust — Richard Rohr, Elizabeth Goudge — say that God holds all our suffering in compassion.

I wish I didn’t feel so alone with it.  The only times I’ve felt not alone were when I was the witness looking at myself in Hell, and when my heart went out to the Tough Little Drip.

Tuesday, April 13

Yesterday was tough.  Emotionally and physically.  I walked Mocha 3 times.  That may be why my knee hurt so much last night.  I only went once around Rivercrest.  Getting there over the rough ground was the hardest part.  It was hard to read, hard to type, hard to do puzzles.  Felt like I was actively trying to distract myself rather than do something.

I called Affectionate Pet again & left message but never heard back.  I emailed Christine asking for a day of help, but she’s going to Florida and having guests and won’t be available until fall.

I wrote a lot in here, trying to deal with my feelings.

O Jesus some kind of machine.  Sounds like a leaf-blower.  At least it’s moving away.  Maybe into Scattergood.  O god back again.  No use trying to think.  Gnarling away at the edge of hearing.

One symptom of PTSD is hyperacusis, sensitivity to sound. This particular grinding sound is one of the most difficult.

Well, this is life.  Just one thing after another.  One niggling little difficulty after another.  I’m doing the best I can, trying not to push myself too hard, but not to give up either.  It’s not good enough and that’s got to be OK.

Late yesterday I felt very scared.  I couldn’t figure out what I was scared of.  My knee not getting better?  Erica being away?  I tried just to be with it, but wasn’t able to imagine a terrified baby.

If I’m able to imagine another being feeling the emotion, that draws out my compassion. I can at least go sit with it. But if it’s just me, I feel stuck, powerless.

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Empath Quiz

Erica suggested I take Anita Moorjani’s empath quiz. She wrote a book called “Dying to be Me,” about her healing experience.  The quiz is on her website.

My result was 25 yes answers out of 34.  It said:

You’re most definitely an empath. You’re pretty intuitive and can usually tell when people are lying. You may want to look into becoming an energy worker or healer, because this could be a natural gift for you. You prefer to be in nature and preferably around water. You particularly love to experience the healing properties of nature. You have a gift for influencing the moods, energies, atmospheres, and environments around you. You need to work on differentiating other people’s energy from your own. You may have a tendency to mirror other people and their energy.

Your score indicates that you would benefit from learning to run energy (flow energy throughout your body to release blocks); ground yourself (connect with the earth); and protect your aura (according to Merriam-Webster, “the energy field that emanates from all living beings”)—all of which I discuss further in my new book “Sensitive is the New Strong”. You love to help others, rescue others, and heal the world; however, you need to slow down and give to yourself before you do so! You would benefit from an energy healing yourself.

I only started wondering if I was picking up other people’s feelings when I started feeling a lot of fear at the start of the pandemic. I knew I wasn’t afraid of getting COVID. Being here at Kendal is about as safe as anyone could be, and I’m afraid I look forward to dying as a relief more than I look forward to going on living. It’s never been clear to me that I was feeling somebody else’s feelings, so I had to answer all the questions about that in the negative. If “don’t know” had been a possible answer, that’s how I would have answered.

This morning, I’m having a really bad time. Everything feels meaningless. What if this is someone else’s feeling and not mine at all? My heart goes out to her. “There, there dear, you are doing the best you can. It isn’t good enough according to people who don’t want to know you are suffering, and don’t want to be asked to help. But it’s absolutely OK according to Jesus, God, and the Universe.”

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Prayer Call for India

On Sunday, May 9, I participated in a Zoom call for prayers for the people in India suffering from the COVID overwhelm. It was put on by ServiceSpace.  I got this from the folks who put it on, thanking us:

Thank you again for joining a palpable prayer circle, just half-a-day ago.  Interspersed with reflections from the frontlines in India, we took breaths of each other’s goodwill and sat with that wordless whisper in our hearts. It was profoundly humbling to witness over 500 “signatures of sincerity” across 40+ countries converge into such a sacred stream of Oneness.

One of the reasons I signed up for it is that recently, when I was feeling very disconnected from everyone, I thought that there must be other people feeling just as disconnected.  I thought of someone in India, dying alone in a huge stone floored building with other sick people, in the dark.  I went and sat next to him and put my hand on him, and said “I’m here.” It always helps when I can remember that I’m not the only one, and go to be with someone else, even if I can’t help, just as I do with Little Jenny when she’s scared.

from my journal for Monday, May 10:

Feeling so lost.  I remember that yesterday, when I was on the call for meditation to help the COVID crisis in India, it seemed like everything else, the political idiocy in this country, even global warming, just faded away.  A woman was singing a Sanskrit chant, and I found myself, without effort, doing the meditation Erica described.  Energy going through me toward, into, the ball of light.  My only thought was “may you go to the healing realms.”  It felt wonderful.  I wish I could just do that all the time.  It would be a worthwhile way to spend the rest of my life.

The meditation was for letting go of feelings that didn’t belong to me.  I was to imagine a basketball-size sphere of light, at a “conversational distance,” and let the feelings stream into it, telling the feelings to go to the “healing realm.”

“I love that river, river’s taking care of me.”  I wonder if that’s a message from my Higher Self to tell me that there is a bigger Force in the Universe, that can help painful experiences become opportunities for transformation.  I am held in that field of healing energy.  I offer myself to the healing process.  I can’t make healing happen, but I can offer myself to the process.  I still feel disconnected and lost, but maybe that’s just part of the process.  Maybe I just have to let go of a lot of old stuff, old familiar stuff that constituted a false self, a mistaken notion of who Jenny is that nevertheless gave me a false sense of being grounded.  “We are chipping away at the very ground she stands on.”  Not my job to pull myself back to the old normal.

“I love that river…” are lines from a song by Magpie, on their Living Planet CD. It’s about the abundance of Nature that is always offered to us.

“We are chipping away…” is from I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. The therapist is telling Deborah’s parents why she may not look well, even though the therapy is progressing toward health.

So amazing.  I was going to ask Higher Self for help, but the help just came.  Thank You.

Getting up to make my second cup of tea I see a huge beautiful female spirit holding her arms out to me.  She gives me a hug, says “I’m always here.”  I ask why sometimes I can’t feel her.  She says “You have to be willing to be lost.”

Ah yes.  The way I have sometimes healed depression, by being with it and willing to be depressed forever, the way I sit with Little Jenny in the pit and say “I’m here, and I won’t leave you.”

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Guide Meditation: Robin Williams

June 17, 1993  Writers group, Sybil & Lynn

Guide Meditation: This is a standard one, I don’t remember where I got it.  I may have had it on tape. You start following a path, then come to a cave, then meet an animal in the cave. The animal leads you to your Guide for this time.

Walking between very tall trees, bushy undergrowth, fragrant flowers, jeweled birds.  Cave is a Neolithic mound, stones at entrance, like Kercado.  The back of the cave opens into the fairy realm.  The “animal” is a tinkerbell like character, and I am led to Peter Pan (Robin Williams) & Parry from Fisher King & Keating from Dead Poets & Mork.

Robin Williams played all these characters.  Parry is a character in the movie Fisher King, Keating is the teacher in Dead Poets Society, Mork is a character on the TV show Mork and Mindy.

The Mound of Kercado is a neolithic mound in Brittany, with a passage going in and ending in a chamber.  I spent some time there when I was doing research for my book, The Feminine of History is Mystery.

What is your name? Robin

Why have you come? Humor and magic

What do you require of me? Just come along with me…

I follow through underground tunnels. There are roots hanging down with little starry lights attached to them. We come to a large room hollowed out of the dirt. It is an alchemist’s workshop, an artist’s studio. There are jars of pigments on shelves, chests of old cloth and costumes, jars full of beads, there are skulls and bones, pieces of fur and feathers, masks on the wall. There is a small fire with a kettle over it and a table with odd apparatus. Robin is gleeful as he shows me around.

Transformation. Something about recombining the elements so that something completely new can emerge. I think about the work I am doing with my journals, and how the fragments combine to tell an unexpected story. Today I was typing a description of how I put together the version of 1991 for RM — and I think of her response, how she couldn’t put it down. I want to ask Robin some questions but he’s such an odd little gnome, dancing around the room, showing me a piece of red cloth, or a beautifully shaped pine cone. I suggest we have a cup of tea to slow him down.

He mutters something about herbs and gives me my tea. We sit in companionable silence.

J: what I really want is some help with the noise of the airplanes. I had a bad time today.

R: (rocks, and sips tea, and stares into the fire.) Yes, pain is real, and pain is painful. There is no real escape, there is only transformation, and transmutation. Remember that some days are better and some days are worse. It may be time to make the “scare plane”.

J: Will you help me?

R: I can try. Remember how Neil died because his father couldn’t let him be an artist. Remember how Perry got lost in the pain of trauma. Pain is real. The Red Knight must be battled in many places and on many levels. Sometimes death happens because someone is uncaring, unconscious, not malicious. Sometimes death happens because someone does a cruel thing on purpose. Sometimes death happens because someone called people out of a false security to live a real life, and under the power of that calling they risked all and lost. The tragedy of your struggle with the airplanes is that the noise they make is at once obnoxious and trivial. The risk of death is not obvious, and so your courage fails to be roused. But what you lose when the planes go over is not your physical life, but your connection to what makes life worth living. This is serious, not trivial. If you think of it as trivial, you make yourself weak. And sometimes we are truly powerless, sometimes the forces operating are beyond our will or courage or desire to affect. Remember that when you hold to doing your art in the face of the disrupting and invalidating snarls of the planes, that you are little Jenny staying true to herself while her parents try to destroy her. It is as serious as that. No different than what Neil’s father did to Neil. No different than what Jack’s unthinking remarks did to Perry. No different than what disease did to Leonard in Awakenings. Your battle is of the stature of theirs. Yes, the planes are trivial. But little Jenny holding her own against her parents is not.

Well, I certainly got a long way from the “Robin” character. But the resonance with all those movies is what brought him to mind. The heroism of daily life.

I offered an apple to Robin. He took it and whirled into a shower of stars and vanished.

The “Scare-Plane” was a sculpture I imagined with big wings made from two large branches with strips of blue denim hanging down like feathers.  I imagined it as an antidote to the planes.  I did make one of the wings.

At this time I had no idea that I was dealing with trauma. Reading it now, knowing something about how pain must lead to growth or it will only lead to more pain, I am amazed at the truth revealed in this imagined interaction.  Another example of this meditation is the post Ereshkigal.  I went back to find the original and it was written just a week before the Robin one. From my journal:

Writers Group: Guide Meditation    Lynn & Sybil.  5 minutes.

“Clear the tubes — write off all that junk that’s going thru your head.”  We just did a ritual of smoking Sybil’s house to drive out all the leftover negative vibrations from her marriage.  She was divorced two weeks ago, and Bob is getting remarried on Saturday.  We lit cedar and sage in a casserole and walked around the house, Sybil carrying the smudge pot, Lynn and I following, banging on pot lids and calling out: “Evil spirits begone!  Negative energies, get out!”  I also chanted “Om triyambakam” and “Om mata Kali” for good measure.

Then I talked a little (a lot? too much?) about this sort of meditation, the varieties of results, the problem of expectations.  I recorded the tape this afternoon and hope it’s OK.  My voice always sounds weird to me — so nasal, so midwestern.

We listened to a tape of me reading the “Guide Meditation” from Deena Metzger’s book. It’s on pp128-130 of Writing for Your Life.  It just amazes me that we did the guide meditation for the first time after performing such an important ritual.

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