The Divine within

My life has been far from easy. But I’ve never felt truly alone, not even during the isolation of my childhood, and then, into adulthood when my health deteriorated dramatically and my son was diagnosed with severe autism, I felt more and more that life was pushing me to realise something that was lurking in the depths of my unconscious: I am part of the Divine. I am Life itself. I am not the fragmented, unworthy, rejected, broken human being that those around me led me to believe over and over again.

As a child I felt I had the potential to be something great, whether it was an actress, journalist, writer, it didn’t matter. I just knew with a untarnished certainty that my destiny was something special. I knew it despite the pain of my external environment. I wrote it into stories, poems, prayers. Many times as an adult I lamented over those young dreams, thinking how silly they were, how crazy I was to believe I could ever be somebody in this world. When I got sick and my life closed in around me as I entered survival mode trying to cope with my severely disabled son, I despaired at ever believing it. Instead I was totally ruined. I couldn’t even manage parenthood. My son was out of control. I was so unwell that I couldn’t walk up the stairs. I fell into such a deep depression that I don’t know how I ever found my way out.

But here’s the thing: life never gave up on me. That Divine spark kept the truth safe like a precious jewel, knowing that the time would come when I could allow myself to remember and allow it to shine. Even when I was engaging in self-destructive thoughts and activities, which has been often, it’s been there, gently pushing me to realise what I always knew. It wouldn’t let me go. Even when I actively wanted it to go away, preferring to close my eyes and sleep my way through existence as it felt the safest, easiest option, it wouldn’t. It acted like a nagging parent, constantly saying ‘you know you are more. You know.’

And I do know. I’ve known it logically for a long time. Allowing the truth into my heart has been a harder process. It takes acceptance and surrender, both of which aren’t easy when it involves facing grief over what life could have been, indeed should have been (according to my ego). It’s keeping my heart open to not only my own truth, but that of the Divine in others, ALL others, even my extremely difficult ex who is like my nemesis on this path. None of it is easy. It requires intensive healing work, courage and most of all faith to keep going and surrendering to the Divine force which has always had my back.

The little girl was right. I am destined to be something special – we all are. We already ARE. Our destiny is realising it, or re-realising it, over and over again.

The problem of suffering

It’s the hardest thing when your child is suffering and there is no real way to help them. I don’t know how anyone can possibly make peace with that. I feel guilty for even wanting to feel at peace when I can’t help my child. Even worse is knowing my child is suffering as a result of the actions of his narcissistic father. I don’t use that word lightly. I’ve spent a good part of my life coming up against my ex husband’s self-absorption, his controlling behaviour, and total lack of empathy, and realised a long time ago that it was pointless getting frustrated and angry – he isn’t going to change because he can’t see the problem. I had to make some terrible sacrifices as a result of the situation I was in. It wasn’t easy but I did the best I could for my son and myself.

Now the staff at my son’s assisted living accommodation are experiencing what I did for years with my ex – a complete lack of responsibility and integrity, even a tendency to outright lie when it suits him. My ex is free to live the life he chooses – and he certainly does – but when it hurts our son and threatens the security of his new home environment, well that’s a whole different thing.

The staff and myself are doing all we can on a practical level to improve the situation. Unfortunately when so much depends on one person’s willingness to communicate and getting nothing, there are real limits to be faced. I have taken some action which I feel terrible about and may not even change things, but I simply could not just sit and face the helplessness.

On a spiritual level, how does one deal with situations like these? Meditate, pray? Surely the real test of any spiritual practice is when we are facing helplessness in our lives. Unfortunately when I’m distressed the very last thing I feel like doing is sitting on a meditation cushion to find peace. I’m sure I’m not the only one. My mind is thrashing around, distressed, heartbroken, angry, clawing for a solution….but there is none. Maybe the only answer is surrender. But that doesn’t help my son either. My ability to accept what IS doesn’t change his suffering. Accepting his suffering feels like the ultimate NO. But what else can be done? Seriously?

Intellectually my mind starts making a story out of this. It has to be happening for a reason. The way life turned out. The way my son is. The way my ex is. I want to create some meaning and purpose out of all of it because it’s so devastating and unbearable and not in the least bit fair. How can I make it okay somehow? The answer is I can’t. It truly is awful….and no spiritual explanation will change that, whether or not there really IS a purpose to it (which I believe there is, on some level).

I really am back to acceptance. It’s all I have. But how does one accept the unacceptable – that my child suffers at the hands of a narcissist father and that life will continue to be painful for all of us? Indeed, how does anyone accept suffering? The Ukrainians are no doubt asking the same thing. People who have lost children through war and murder and suicide. Those who have suffered in other unspeakable ways. How do we find the will to accept and move forward?

It is said that love is the only answer. I don’t love the situation of course. Not at all. But I love my son and I hope on some level that will help him. Even if doesn’t, it may help me connect to the fabric of the Universe and see the reality, which is that the Universe is bigger than all this suffering. The Divine is in the midst of it – in me, in my son, even in my ex – and thus the journey will always return us to love, and none of us are alone in what we face.

A dream of Minerva; wisdom, intellect and creativity

The Roman goddess Minerva appeared in my dream last night in the form of a theatre within which I was watching a play. First I was looking at an onscreen layout of the theatre and trying to choose my seat. They were initially situated in a circle around the stage but then that seemed to change and it was more haphazard. Then I was in a room walking towards a large seating area. Somehow I knew my seat was number 109. I could see people around a table and knew my seat was nearby. I sat in front of them and could see the stage in front of me. However, my view was partially obscured by people’s heads. Then I realised the others were watching a smaller version of the stage on a TV screen behind me. I turned around and could see the play, whatever it was, high up on a small ceiling TV set. I was aware that others were staying overnight in this building and needed keys but I was leaving that evening, sometime after 10pm. When I woke from this dream the time was 8.17 which is interesting as I’d woken up exactly an hour earlier, at 7.17, before going back to sleep and dreaming the dream…

On researching Minerva I realised she is the god of wisdom and intellect, the arts, music, strategy, defence and victory. She is strongly associated with the owl. Immediately I linked this to my focus on developing my online business yesterday, as well as picking out ‘The World’ oracle card before going to sleep last night. There is something in all of this about broadening my horizons, trusting my inner wisdom, and unblocking my creativity; harnessing my thoughts and skills to change my outer world going forward.

When numbers appear in a dream and/or in synch on waking, I know they need closer analysis. I found that 109 ‘symbolises any leap and any achievement’ according to Abellio, which reinforces Minerva as a positive symbol for creativity and strategy. I then looked up ’17’ since this combination came to my attention twice; this has a variety of meanings including balance between spirit and matter, the son of Man, harmony after the fight of existence, the Holy Spirit, and karmic liberation after evolution.

Looking at my dream as a whole, which I can only do after studying the details (the autism in me perhaps!) it seems highly significant. I was trying to choose my seat which is symbolic for choosing where I wish to focus my attention; which particular perspective I want to invest in. Initially the seating was arranged in a circle, symbolising the Oneness of life, but then became haphazard, symbolising the play of form within it and our thoughts and emotions. Life is a stage as they say, the story of my life. My view was partially blocked, suggesting that I’m not seeing clearly as there’s too many conflicting opinions/ideas/perspectives in my way. Then I realised I was facing the wrong way and in fact if I turned and looked higher up I could see, but the play was smaller, there was space around it. I wasn’t planning to stay in the theatre as I knew I had to go; the number 10 (for 10pm) is the symbol of individual within the One. There needs to be balance between the intellect and creativity, matter and spirit.

What an amazing dream! It is multifaced and unusual, common for my dreams at least, and accurately portrays my frame of mind currently in wanting to focus on my online business and unleash my creativity as a way of moving forward. In doing so I am aware of all the conflicting states of mind wanting to pull me back down, draw me away from spirit, block my view. I feel more confident that I am on the right track and I can continue on this path even when I am temporarily blinded by painful thoughts and emotions.

Only love is real

A few days ago I was crying hard when I had an epiphany. I realised with utter certainty that my entire life has been preparing me for what I’m currently going through – a shedding of the old me; a peeling away of the layers of conditioned self that I have wrapped around myself for comfort and familiarity; a removing of the desires that keep me entrenched in this way of being.

Suffering breaks our heart open, if we let it. It makes us realise that we were never in control and never will be. That is an illusion. There is the conditioned self and there is the soul who expresses through the personality structure as love itself. My conditioned self is falling away, bit by bit. It isn’t needed anymore. Everything it wrapped its identity up in is disappearing. Only love is left. Only love is real.

Mother’s Day for the unacknowledged

It’s Mother’s Day today in the UK. As many of you know, my son has severe autism and is non-verbal apart from the occasional word. He is now 20 so for many years I have come to terms with the fact he will never say ‘I love you’ or ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ or even have any concept of the latter. Today is all about acknowledging mothers…which makes it incredibly painful when your child does not give much back. It is the ultimate journey towards unconditional love because loving a profoundly learning disabled child is not a two way street in the conventional sense. On rare and brief occasions my son has shown love towards me, such as putting his hands on my face, but not for many years. I have no idea whether I have done right by him but try to trust that like any well intended parent I did the best I could, even though the fruits of those intentions are not obvious in ways they might be for others.

I’m not going to deny that today is very hard. But I know it’s hard for many people for a whole host of reasons. I am thinking of all the mothers who don’t experience the joy of being acknowledged on Mother’s Day….and sometimes any other day. Those whose child/ren are sick, profoundly disabled, mentally unwell, estranged, or have passed away. Mothers who can’t have children. Mothers who might have been. Children who have lost mothers. Mothers who have lost children. There are many ways to feel loss on Mother’s Day in particular. I am holding everyone who struggles in my heart today ❤️

The unconditional love in my grief

I seem to be shedding bucket loads of grief at the moment. I’m in a kind of transition period where I’m integrating my past with my present and acknowledging where I have been stuck and releasing those old energies. That said, I’m not sure the grief will ever fully leave me. I suspect I will reach a point where I can accept my son for the way he is and not feel so sad and angry for how life could have been for both of us. However, I’m not sure I will completely stop looking at other people’s children with envy and disappointment. Maybe I’m selling myself short though. It’s possible I will one day truly take in the knowledge that I was never meant to have a typical child or be a typical parent. And my child was never meant to be anyone other than who he is. I thought I’d accepted those things years ago but although I understood them logically and thought okay Universe, this is my lot, I never took them in and felt them in my heart. That’s not unusual for me because I was very dissociated from my emotions as a child. I’m also highly likely on the autistic spectrum myself, a fact that seems even more likely the more I think about how I was back then and how I am now.

I visited my son at his assisted living accommodation yesterday, not for the first time, but the visit went badly again. He didn’t want me there. He started off very calm and I felt massively relieved, but very quickly he started telling me to go with the word ‘bye’. He repeated it over and over while I tried to tell him I wasn’t going yet, that I was there to spend time with him. He became so distressed that in the end I had to leave, even though it was half an hour before I was due to be picked up, since I don’t drive. I realised that although it was difficult for me practically and emotionally, this was about my son and he clearly didn’t want me to visit. I had to accept that. It’s probably one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to do. The staff at the home gave me a card and some flowers for Mother’s Day from my son, which was incredibly kind, and it was hard holding back the tears enough for them to think I was absolutely fine about my son not wanting me there, that I was only thinking of him.

I went to lunch with a friend straight afterwards which with hindsight wasn’t the best idea, either physically or emotionally. I was shattered. I’d spent every bit of energy I had on the half an hour visit with my son. My friend isn’t the the empathetic sort and hasn’t seen my son in many years. He doesn’t even know how severely autistic he is now. I wanted to get home and cry, which I eventually did. I’m not ashamed to say that I wanted to get a bottle of something – maybe for comfort, dissociation, I don’t know – but I didn’t in the end. I kept reminding myself how crap I would feel the following day, how anxious and depressed I’d be, feelings that I’m struggling with anyway, never mind with alcohol in my bloodstream. There is a better way and that is knowing grief is beyond awful, but it doesn’t last forever. The light will come and illuminate my path and understanding that this was meant to be exactly as it is. But in the meantime it’s excruciating.

On a practical level, I’ve decided to keep my son’s visits very short and as much to a regular schedule as possible so he knows when to expect me. I’ll make clear when I arrive that I’m not going to stay long but want to see him to make sure he’s okay, and to let him know that I’m always here for him. Beyond that, if he wants me to go, I will go. The focus has to be on him and his needs. Then in time if he wants me to stay, I will. I have to tap into my unconditional love for him that expects nothing but gives the best I have.

Last night I had a very deep dream that I was climbing along a thin bridge made of rope on my hands and knees. There was only a small barrier on the right side and nothing at all on my left. I was terrified of falling off and disappearing into the abyss, but I kept going. I felt I was travelling upward and it was really tough but I was determined to keep going. At some point the bridge disappeared entirely and I found myself floating in a beautiful blue ocean in complete peace. I had no worries anymore – I was light and free. Such dreams give me hope that I’m heading in the right direction and my struggle doesn’t mean I’ve gone wrong – life was never meant to be easy for anyone. I don’t understand why and never will. But like Matt Kahn once said ‘in a world of questions, love is the only answer.’ So love it is. Love for my son and -I hope- love for me too.

From confusion/judgement to love and compassion

I’ve been feeling quite confused and preoccupied lately following my son’s move into assisted living and my own up and down experience with the emotions of dating. I haven’t reached any real conclusions about the latter, only that I find it hard to trust my emotions, maybe because I’m aware that emotions are temporary and not truly who I am. Even so, I wish they would provide me with some consistency and less like I’m completely insane. I went to bed last night feeling very low and genuinely wondering if there was something wrong with me. Yep – it always seems to boil down to that. Maybe because the root of all this pain is feeling disconnected from my soul and from God/the Universe. I thought my dating experience was a way to share my soul and give love but maybe subconsciously I HAVE been trying to fill a gap that historically I’ve filled with spiritual practices such as meditation. Maybe none of this will ever make sense until I make connecting with my soul a priority again. I haven’t stopped meditating but my energy has been elsewhere, seeking experiences that will never make me whole.

I don’t know how relevant this is but it FEELS so. Last night I had a dream that I was adopting an African child of about five years old. She was absolutely beautiful – very long, wiry, black hair. I was aware she was called Shia. I carried her on my hip. Then I went to see her biological parents who were giving her up for adoption. I referred to them as ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ for Shia’s benefit. Then I looked at the parents with love and compassion and said ‘I know you don’t want her but there’s no judgement. I completely understand.’ My thoughts turned to my own son and my struggles to raise him, and I truly did.

The dream felt very comforting on my waking and I wanted to explore it further. I feel it relates to my feeling very bad about myself last night, that there’s something inherently wrong with me and my emotions. This may have been projected onto the parents in the dream who felt wrong for giving up their little girl. Maybe I need my own love and compassion and assurance that no one is judging me. My ego feels judged. That is a powerful thought. Judged by whom? Or maybe it is guilt at feeling disconnected from my own light. Interestingly, the little girl may represent my wounded inner child who is looking for safety and love and acceptance – again from my own being. No one else can give that to her, at least, not in a way that assures permanence. The parents rejected her, representing those part of myself that are rejecting my innocence, as well as the literal context of feeling guilty about my autistic son. Finally, I looked up the name Shia and it means ‘God is salvation.’ This reinforces the whole meaning of the dream – and I use the word ‘whole’ with intent – as it’s all about listening to my soul, loving the aspects of myself that are wounded and scared, and bringing it all to the light of awareness and compassion to become whole. This is our salvation.

Someone once said to me – a Jehovah’s Witness no less, but then I don’t discount anyone’s beliefs if they resonate with me on a deeper level – ‘Put God first, then everything else will fall into place.’ I’ve never forgotten it because I recognise the truth in it. Humans have human experiences and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s what we’re here to do. But losing contact with our soul is a recipe for suffering and leads to a dish of emptiness and misery. I know now that I feel judged when I have lost my connection with my inner being. No one is judging me; I’m doing that to myself, only turning it into guilt and shame. This is as old as time. It’s the fall of Adam and Eve. The way forward is to recognise it and pour our compassion on it. In my dream I even used the words ‘there is no judgement.’ What a relief to hear! We judge ourselves because we know deep down we’re not embracing the perfect, beautiful, holy beings that we truly are.

While I’m not in that place yet, I believe that bringing myself back to a place of deep spiritual connection will bring some clarity to the situations I’m struggling with. I won’t be throwing myself into dating longing for it to bring me answers, or for my emotions to suddenly make some kind of sense. I will know intuitively what I need to do and what is right for us both. And likewise, seeing my son from a place of connection and wholeness will mean not desperately seeking something from him that can never be and feeling upset when he can’t give it. I need to get out of my own way. I need space to find myself again.

A journey through raw grief to a kind of acceptance

Today was exceptionally painful for me. I wondered whether to even write about it but then I thought, well, it’s real life. Maybe someone will relate directly or even indirectly on some level because fundamentally we are all struggling with similar things – life’s choices, painful emotions, finding peace and acceptance in the muddiest and some of the least talked about issues to grapple with.

My adult son has severe autism and learning difficulties and has recently moved into an assisted living unit where he has support from carers 24/7. I visited him today and it did not go well. He hasn’t lived with me for a few years due to my own declining health and lack of ability to manage him but I have always visited even when it has been hard. He had lived with his father and stepmother but due to various issues they felt he was better placed in a structured environment where he could be given the support he needs. And indeed, he seems to be happy and thriving so far.

My pain is, and has always been, personal. When I got there my son smiled and seemed happy to see me, but soon became very stressed, and I was faced with the familiar challenge of feeling unable to connect with him. I forgot to bring his ipod for him to watch Thomas Tank videos on, and while I said he could use my phone, he was upset by this. He spent most of my visit biting his hands in anger, picking hairs off his clothes, not knowing where he wanted to be. I suggested we sit in the summerhouse, and he organised the trains that I’d brought for him, but he was soon bored by this and wanted to go back inside. I tried to talk to him, show him photos and videos, tell him things, connect with him – he just wasn’t interested. This scenario is far from new but today felt much more raw and painful as it was the first time I’d visited him in his new home and I hadn’t seen him for longer than normal. I had expectations of the visit. I felt good about going to see him as I’d heard good reports from the staff and his paternal grandmother. I wanted to feel he was pleased to see me. I wanted him to enjoy my visit. Instead, I felt like I was making him more stressed and unhappy. He didn’t seem to want me there. I left after an hour feeling deeply sad.

I’m recovering from a bad virus (the second in as many weeks) so I went to bed and sobbed. I felt so useless as a parent. I felt like I’d offered nothing of value. I longed for a connection with my only child and felt none. This struggle has been there for so many years. While many parents of autistic people find ways to reach their children, I never have. It’s not through lack of trying although in all honesty I’ve wanted him to enter my world rather than vice versa. The pain of bringing him games or dressing up clothes that he didn’t want has never gone away. As a small child he was happier playing with the bathroom taps or light switches. Not ideal. I tried to reach him but I had so little energy myself dealing with a chronic illness which eventually led to hospitalisation. He eventually lived with his ADHD father and life was easier but there’s always this sorrow that I don’t know will ever leave me.

I talk about acceptance a lot and I know that the ultimate acceptance is love – loving someone for who they are. This means accepting the child he wasn’t and the adult he isn’t and loving him for who he is no matter what. Even when he was a young child I knew this, at least in theory, and tried hard to do so. Of course I have always loved him as he is my child, but putting acceptance into practice has felt a whole different ball game. My son arrived tied up in my hopes and dreams of being the mother I never had and the need to experience a kind of childhood through my son which never materialised. Grief is multi-faceted and complex; it isn’t just one thing, but a whole kaleidoscope of emotions.

My son doesn’t exist to satisfy my need to feel loved or valued or connected. I have had to find those things elsewhere, including within myself. He could never give me the acknowledgement or validation that I craved. He couldn’t show me I was doing okay. In fact, he brought me to my knees many times, believing that I had messed everything up, got it all wrong, failed so utterly and completely. That has been my journey. It continues to be. I have no idea whether this was all meant to happen, was planned in some way, or whether it just randomly happened that evening in 2000 when I took his father back despite my better judgement. Life has a funny way of turning out. All I can do is surrender to it, trust it somehow, and believe in the perfection in this moment. And indeed, love is thinking about what my son needs now in this moment and being present to him, even when it’s different to how I wish it was.

While I was crying earlier the New World Symphony (Largo) theme suddenly started playing in my head, which many will know in the UK as the music from the Hovis bread advert. I have taken comfort in the lyrics which were created to fit the beautiful and haunting melody. My son is now in his new home and this is about me finding my journey home to myself, which ultimately, of course, is all we can ever do.

Going home, going home
I am going home
Quiet like, some still day
I am going home

It's not far, just close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Never fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting too
Lots of faces gathered there
All the friends I knew

I'm just going home

No more fear, no more pain
No more stumbling by the way
No more longing for the day
Going to run no more

Morning star light the way
Restless dreams all gone
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life has begun

There's no break, there's no end
Just living on
Wide awake, with a smile
Going on and on, going on and on

Going home, going home
I am going home
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life has begun

I'm just going home