FATHERLESS

Fatherless

I would like to recommend a book today, by my friend, Phil Barber. I have only known Phil a few months, but we have been sharing quite a journey together on our weekly sessions of something called ‘Solo Autobiographical Theatre.’ You can‘t call it a drama class alone, as it is much more than that as you may guess from the autobiographical bit in the title. I wanted to do something that would get me out of my comfort zone and this was it and it has proven to be more than I could realise and in it, I am pretty fearless with the hope and desire this will spread into other areas of my life.

Together with 2 or 3 others we get together and pull strands from our own lives and find a way to express the story, face the sadness and some of the sweeter memories, but also tune into the wider story and break down some of those false beliefs and emotions that keep us stuck in the story. It really is an incredible gift and I am embracing it all and finding out things about myself I didn’t know I could do and becoming aware of emotions and experiences I didn’t know about. I find I can improvise a piece so quickly because with my spiritual journey in mind, I decide to focus on the emotion of a memory rather than the detail of that memory and from the feeling something grows. I also get to experience and watch others courageously opening themselves, unveiling their raw and vulnerable spots, as well as innate creativity.

But the other gift is that the four people I do it with sit without judgement and allow and encourage me to find the rawness of the emotion I feel and I so I feel uninhibited ( mostly), even with anger – an emotion I have found difficult to show publically or in the past admit I even had. There feels a supportive love present. In our different ways, we are seeking something and facing fears and challenging each other to be truthful and adventurous. Sometimes it is incredibly intense and yet very beautiful to see each other’s vulnerabilities and unlike therapy it feels less staged.

I know that sounds weird and there have been times when I have had therapy and it has helped me, but there have been many times when I felt a therapist was trying to control what I was feeling – so as “not to re-traumatise” me. If you have read some of my other blogs you will know that I understand and experience that it is the suppression of our emotions that has damaged us/me and to me that kind of therapy, just falls into society’s fear of emotional overwhelm and logically, if we look around at the problems in the world it is our denial of our true emotions that allows us to live so much of life in facade and untruths.

This autobiographical theatre is allowing me to experience myself in a new way and it has stirred up memories that are painful, but need to be felt, as well as moments of childhood that are sensory, that are good. So, in a short time, we all may have got to know more about each other, than we may have with other friends we have known for years. I guess when you are not sitting there over coffee having a chat over mundane or everyday things, you skip some facade and that is refreshing.

During the process, there have been some emotions in Phil that I related to a lot and so when he said he had written a memoir of his childhood, which was a journey of his life in and out of various children’s home and foster care I wanted to read more. From my experience, I have read more bad autobiographies/memoirs than good ones. Phil’s memoir is a very, very good one. He said it took him five hard years to write and I can see why as much of it is heart-breaking and sad and a poor reflection on how children are treated by their own family, but also by the systems in place which are meant to keep them safe from harm. It must have been a very emotional journey to write -and there is the gift.

In his introduction, Phil says he wrote it because “in fathoming more deeply my own journey it would help my children fathom theirs… and to speak to the orphan in us all.” The book is a gift of love to himself, which when you read the story, will see why that is so important; a gift of love to his children and to any of us that connect in with the feelings his childhood created and which so many of us relate to.

It is very well-written, but mostly frank, honest, deeply touching, but very self-effacing, making it all the more easy to read and connect with. I want to say a very personal thank you. I could not put this book down and by the end of it was in tears as I connected with many of the emotions of not feeling good enough, loneliness, shame and grief of my own childhood. So yes, it touched the “orphan” in me.

But I digress! Please read this wonderful memoir. It will help you emotionally, if that is what you want, or it will just be a beautiful read. As the title of my blog, Phil’s book is called Fatherless. I can’t recommend it enough and I feel blessed to have such a friend.

And Phil – you truly have come a long, remarkable way. Well done and thank you so much.

With love,

Maxine

Sisters, Sisters, Sisters….. there were never such devoted Sisters….

haynes-sisters

Sisters, Sisters, Sisters,

There were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone “No, sir,”

I’m there to keep my eye on her

Caring, Sharing,

Every little thing that we are wearing…..

This is the song from White Christmas and a while back it kept popping into my head so I took that as a hint from my guides about some emotions that were coming up for me around friendships, particularly women so writing this helped me explore it a bit more.

If we believe we are all children of God, all men are our brothers and all women are our sisters. So when I refer to sisters here I talk just not of biological sisters we may have had, but also about our friendships: an area that has been a challenge for me all of my life.

All relationships have been a challenge for me, but those with women I have found difficult in ways I can not describe fully yet, as I am still investigating, still feeling through painful emotions and I have a way to go yet.

I find it hard to believe I am accepted and loved. I feel rejection in all sorts of scenario’s: an anxiety and fear that does not actually relay the truth of the situation – it is often just my fear and I live in it still and in the last few years it has got worse. Of course it has: I have not felt the causal emotion – the reason it all started.

The words to this song, from the movie White Christmas, intrigued me years ago: I had never had a friendship like that. I had had what I thought were close friends, but they didn’t seem to last. When I was a kid, we moved around a lot, so I made friends and then I would be off. One year I left a school, then plans changed and I was back there in September, but off again within a few months. I remember my discomfort at having to return after having said goodbye to everyone. I felt like everyone thought I had lied about leaving. When I was 12 we moved to Devon and I did stay in the same place for 6 years but by that time I was already uncertain and unsure of myself. I still made friends, still giggled together with others on the bus home from school, still compared notes on boys, but never felt that closeness with one particular friend and even if it started to feel like that, it seemed to change. I often felt like a strange creature with a secret world that no one understood or knew about: I often felt like an observer of my own life. I would relate to a certain point, but mostly I felt so utterly alone, in my thoughts and behaviour and with my feelings. My only true friend became the ocean, where I went to talk, cry, sing and write poetry: its strength, beauty and far out horizon gave me space to feel and express myself.

I moved away from the ocean when I was 18 and my tentative relationships with women continued. I would seem to make good friends but they only lasted a few years and then they were gone. We would lose contact or something would happen and we no longer had anything more to say to each other. One friend ended our relationship because I was “too thoughtful.” At the time it made no sense to me and I learned to trust or like myself even less: not knowing when I was giving too much, which sometimes led me to feel worn out and resentful if it felt like others were just taking and not giving: not understanding what I had done “wrong.” If problems arose in friendships I would often bury my head in the sand: not answer calls, pretend not to be in, panic if I bumped into them, or pretend everything was fine, but retain feelings of anger, confusion, fear,sadness and even devastation within.

I was too scared to speak up in case I was not liked anymore: I averted disaster to avoid the pain of rejection or judgement or punishment. The truth is I had become ashamed of myself, unsure, and certain I was not truly liked, that people would find out in the end how awful I was – that the real me was a bad, unlovable person.

Naturally, it was not just that I moved house a lot: in fact the constant moving, the never asking how we children felt about it was just a clue to the fact our feelings or the effects of the changes on us were never considered. I still have huge blanks in my memory, but my feelings tell me that everything was about the adults, especially about my mother. She was needy and narcissistic. Her own childhood, her own family history created a parent who really struggled to be a parent at all. How can you love your children when you do not know about love? When you do not know how to love yourself? All you do is believe that the world is against you and you fight in whatever way you need to to get attention, to get “love”. For my mother, the need was so great, the pain so deep, that she used her children to meet her emotional needs, which is very damaging.

The most painful emotional event for me was how my mother would pull me closer, tell me I was her favourite (which didn’t make me feel comfortable), get what she wanted from me, which could be any form of caring for her – either emotionally or physically. Then I would not do something as she expected in some way, if I didn’t make her feel better, if I didn’t stop her pain, didn’t do enough chores, didn’t listen to her enough, she would push me away – tell me I didn’t know what she was going through, that she “had sacrificed everything for her kids” and that we were ungrateful and I was a terrible daughter.  I would stand confused. I tried to please her more and more. I would get her breakfast in bed, I became an entertainer to make her smile. I feared her wrath. I feared the uncertainty of her moods and the events it created. I feared rejection and abandonment.

I became a carer, a people-pleaser. I had been taught my emotions didn’t matter and in fact to express them was “selfish.” I learnt that love meant I had to earn it, I had to be perfect: in this way the love I dreamed of became unattainable.

My fears became so great I suppressed them hugely and many times my own law of attraction brought me events where I was rejected by friends. Of course this is God’s law working with love to help us feel and release the painful emotions – but that is something I have only understood in the last couple of years. Most of my life I have continued to suffer and hide my pain, my aloneness..

Rather than face others judgement I judged myself first and have self punished myself in many, many ways all my life: through food, through poor self-care, through relationships, living in fear and not following my dreams and desires. I gave myself the slap before others did – it seemed the easier option. It is a route many of us take. One that imprisons us in fear and suppression. A prison cell that only we have the key to.

Of course I never did reach the perfection I felt  my parents wanted, no matter how hard I tried, particularly with my mother. So I mostly felt unloved and unaccepted.  The rest of the craziness of my childhood led me to feel invisible and insignificant.  Most of my life I have felt that no matter what I did or who I was, I could not be loved.

So why would I believe that a friend could really love me? Every other minute I wait to be “unloved”, rejected and alone. How can I trust my sisters, when the one big sister ( my mother) who was meant to guide me and teach me about love and trust, manipulated and hurt me. It may not have been consciously, but it happened. This is how the past become our present, when we don’t grieve over the things that were lost or missing.

My fears about trusting women have grown rather than shrunk, because have grieved about the lack of love from my mother. This is just an example from my own life of the the impact of not processing emotions and I have need to be compassionate about the fact that as a child expressing emotions always resulted in punishment, anger, shut down so it is something I will need to learn.

But until I do process these emotions about mum, I am blocked to the feminine side of God, the majority of the time. The only time I open a little is when I am out with nature and I do have some interest in finding out about God. For my own health, my soul’s growth and my relationships it is an issue I can’t keep avoiding so I plan to connect with some friends I haven’t been and see what happens.

Fear is a very damaging thing when we make it our God, but it is just an emotion – an imagined event too. But we blow it up into this big monster we keep running from. Mary has written some great blogs on fear and there are some talks too. Here are the links:

  1. Let Yourself Fall from the Plane blog
  2. Living in Fear and the Freedom to Choose Differently blog
  3. Sometimes I think of Dogs blog
  4. Fear is your Friend Part 1 seminar
  5. Fear is your Friend Part 2 seminar
  6. Fear Revisited Part 1
  7. Fear Revisited Part 2

Maxine

The Abandonment Punch

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For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . . When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us.”
Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

I was looking at the word abandonment because I have been feeling the emotions in me, what it has meant to me. I like words and I am sometimes interested in where they come from, I break them down. This is what I saw: abandonment; ‘A -Band -On -Me.’ Then it made sense. A band on me… a band, as in a restricting, uncomfortable , sometimes suffocating band on me.

Abandonment: one of the biggest wounds in humanity which plays out and permeates our lives. It runs deep, it runs wide, it takes many forms. It is not just about the day our father left the house and never returned. The chances are he probably “left” emotionally and mentally even before he packed his suitcase.

A child feels every moment of abandonment like a punch to the chest. And currently every child is likely to experience it at some point during their childhood. It happens every time a parent is angry or in fear. For some this is infrequent and is not very damaging especially if that parent is normally very loving and recognises the emotional needs of that child, and allows that child to express its anger or grief about what has occurred. But for many of us, there is chronic abandonment: an emotionally unavailable parent or parents (whether physically present or not). These parents often or completely shut us down every time we try to express our own emotions: they can not handle or do not want to feel their own painful or negative emotions so they can not or will not deal with ours. Even though we are often the perfect reflection of their own unhealed emotions.

This emotional abandonment leaves most children in a void of not knowing: not knowing if they are loved, or who they are. John Bradshaw says it as it is:

“Since the earliest period of our life was preverbal, everything depended on emotional interaction. Without someone to reflect our emotions, we had no way of knowing who we were.”  ( from Healing the Shame within you)

The messages are:  “I can’t love you;” “you are unlovable;” “you are not enough;” “I wish you hadn’t been born;” “it’s your fault I am like this” and so forth. For a young soul, new to the world these messages are felt even before they are spoken in some way. For a young soul, trying to find out who she is it can slow down or even put a halt to that discovery. She just becomes all the false beliefs and messages she is told. She will grow to believe she is worthless, unloved and unlovable and she trusts no-one, mostly with an expectation they may “leave.” This belief affects every decision, every action and every relationship, most importantly and including the one with him/herself. It can lead to a cycle of self punishment that is just normal for him/ her. It is not always obvious to the world around her as so many live in this cycle it is normal and we choose to close our eyes to what is happening in us and around us.

How many of our young people struggle to find meaning in their life? How many are obsessed with celebrity lives, feeling that is the answer to their own emptiness? How many think alcohol is the only way to feel free, to live without abandon? When really it is just a way we use to not feel the pain of abandonment. For years I used food as my main source of self punishment: sometimes to feel in control of life, of my emotions, by starvation and other times.whilst I binged, as a numbing drug: a pushing down of the pain. I unconsciously suppressed my feelings in  many other forms during the dance of low self-worth.

And sometimes I still do: I yell at the man I love. Inside little me is screaming, in panic, “He is going to leave me, he can’t really love me.” The difference now, thank God, is that I know its there, and I am peeling back the layers of my anger, fear and grief that abandonment brought me. I am easing the “band-on-me.” Denial will not do this, pretending everything is ok will not release this band. We have to be prepared to FEEL it. Not forever, just long enough to release it. Just enough to set us free. Feeling it will not destroy us. If we consciously just give ourselves permission to feel, when we do, when we let it exist and let it out of our soul, then we start to find out who we truly are: then we discover we are much more than we ever knew and certainly much more than what we have been told.

There is so much fear in this world just from this wound. If we want to change this world we need to be willing to feel the truth. Generations of parents are hurting generations of children from not acknowledging the truth of their patterns or their life, by denying their wounded emotions. This cycle has gone on for thousands of years. It is time to try something different: to break the chain. Let us be brave, let us surrender to our emotions with sincerity, without projection and blame. Just purely to know ourselves and to know Love: real love.