Family, being triggered and grief

Ram Das once said ‘If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.’ Now, I don’t think I’m enlightened at all, very far from it, and I’d be suspicious of anyone who said they were. But I have worked hard on my spiritual awareness and can access a certain level of inner peace when I keep my focus on being in the present moment and responding from love rather than the less conscious and wounded part of my personality. However, Ram Das was right on point by saying that it’s our family who trigger us the most.

Even after all these years (I’m in my 40s) the essence of my struggle lies in not being able to let go of the wish my family were different and the need to belong to some sort of family unit. Even as an adult this need has been denied me for so many reasons. I try to see the positives; I am free to live my own life in the way I choose now and I don’t have to answer to anyone. But somehow this need survives and at times it is all pervasive. Christmas stirred it all up of course but the reason I am writing this is not even about Christmas, it is due to the realisation that deep down I still carry hope and expectations that my family will change and so many unconscious wishes still underlie my (albeit limited) relationship with them.

I know that how they were and are with me is not personal. There’s some sort of comfort in that. Most relatives don’t even know me as a person so it couldn’t be personal. A baby came into the family at a certain time and it happened to be me. Their lack of interest wasn’t a reflection on me but what was happening in their life at the time. For years I blamed myself because, well, as a kid you always think it’s your fault. And if it’s your fault you can potentially fix yourself. There is a lot of grief in realising there’s nothing you could have done because the problem lies elsewhere. It’s freeing, for sure, but devastating all at once.

It’s so hard to break free from longing for a ‘proper’ (I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’) relationship with my family. I get on well (on a surface level) with my mother, so it’s not even the lack of a parent, albeit we don’t have a deep relationship; it’s more the longing for a sense of belonging because growing up that just wasn’t there. My family was divided in ways that I can’t begin to write about despite living in the same household. There were secrets and rules, family members I could talk to and those I couldn’t. Nothing was ever said, only implied. Mental health issues were rife. I wasn’t brought up, I pretty much did it all myself. I was so withdrawn at school that I had very few friends and was bullied. I turned to God so I never felt truly alone even though I was terribly lonely in my family.

I’ve moved on. I’ve had loads of therapy. I’ve come to terms with so much of it. And yet…there is a part of me who can’t let go, who is still crying out for external acceptance and belonging, to know I am valued as a family member. I’m still seeking their approval even now. I’m glad I have realised this so I can grieve for what never was and won’t be. I don’t need anyone’s approval any more other than my own, it’s just so sad for my inner child who longed for it when she should have been given it. I know I’m far from alone on this healing journey. I’m grateful for that knowledge. That and my spirituality gives me strength.

Thinking of those who are struggling with similar issues around families. I hear and feel you. You’re not alone!

Setting an intention for 2022

The New Year can be seen as a time for letting go of the old and embracing the new as well as setting intentions for the coming year. Intention is a powerful focus of mental energy and can work miracles when in alignment with what serves our highest good.

I set my intention to keep my focus on what Matt Kahn (I love this guy!) calls walking the ‘high road’; asking what love would do in this moment, knowing that love is the only answer, because love is all there is, even when life suggests the opposite.

Love as a word can also be replaced with God, the Universe, Higher Self, Divine, Christ…because it all points to the same truth. It doesn’t matter which word is used and I’ll probably use them interchangeably depending on how I’m feeling at the time. What matters is knowledge of the deepest eternal truth no matter the outer circumstances. It’s a journey of discovering and forgetting and re-discovering again…this is all part of the dance. The storm blows while the eye at the very centre is calm…that eye is our eternal Self, always at peace, always in love.

Blessings everyone. I wish you a beautiful happy and healing New Year. If this time is painful for you, my heart is very much with you.

Spiritual home

I often wake up with songs in my head. Sometimes it’s a reverberation of one I’d been listening to recently but more often it contains a message that is very relevant to something I’m feeling or dealing with. Even the name of the singer can hold meaning. I call these synchronicities, a term was first coined by psychologist and analyst Carl Jung, but is now commonly used in spiritual circles. It can be described as a meaningful coincidence and they seem to occur as a sign of being on the right track in one’s spiritual journey, or in the flow rather than resisting life. This has certainly been true of my experience.

This morning’s song was ‘Driving home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea. I HAD heard it recently due to the barrage of Christmas songs playing on the radio and music channels of both households I visited at Christmas, but as nearly a week had passed and now it was suddenly playing with fervour in my head, I looked up the lyrics. Instantly I realised that it is the perfect depiction of my spiritual journey, with all its obstacles and tailbacks – I am quite literally on my way home for Christmas, back to my spiritual home where my true Christ self, which is love, will be born within me as I acknowledge and open to it. Interestingly still, the singer’s name Chris means none other than Christ, and his surname Rea means ‘flowing’ which can be compared to the tao; the eternal river of life.

Here are the lyrics (copyright unintended: I do not own these lyrics):

I’m driving home for Christmas
I can’t wait to see those faces
I’m driving home for Christmas, yeah
Yeah, I’m moving down that line

And it’s been so long
But I will be there
I sing this song
To pass the time away
Driving in my car

It’s gonna take some time but I’ll get there

Top to toe in tailbacks
Oh, I got red lights all around
But soon there’ll be the freeway, yeah
Get my feet on holy ground

So I sing for you
Though you can’t hear me
When I get through
And feel you near me

Driving in my car
Driving home for Christmas

With a thousand memories
I take look at the driver next to me
He’s just the same
Just the same

Top to toe in tailbacks
Oh, I got red lights all around
I’m driving home for Christmas, yeah
Get my feet on holy ground

So I sing for you
Though you can’t hear me
When I get through
Oh and feel you near me

Driving in my car
Driving in my car
Driving home for Christmas
I take look at the driver next to me
He’s just the same
He’s driving home
He’s driving home for Christmas

Driving home for Christmas, yeah

Many of us, myself included, feel stuck in Earthly traffic dealing with our individual obstacles of life, trying to move forward but sometimes having to detour or even go backwards, not being sure whether we’re on the right route or believing we’ve gone completely wrong. If we’re lucky we enjoy the journey and pass the time in creative and/or meaningful ways – arts, relationships, parenting, spiritual seeking. But one thing is for sure; we are all on holy ground making the same trip, longing to contact with those with love, whether they are on this plane or passed on years ago. And we will all reach home either in this lifetime or beyond the physical.

I believe this song came to me because I am re-connecting with my spiritual self. I am literally coming home to myself and realising that love is what it’s all about. It’s not trying to get somewhere ‘out there’ but to connect to myself ‘in here.’ The spiritual journey has always been an inward one. Even though we want and need to express love to others through relationships and service, it’s healthiest when expressed through the knowledge that each of us is whole and deserving of our own love. I don’t identify as a Christian when I say that the Christ is within all of us; that’s what the image of his crucifixion is all about. We all suffer, we all get lost, but at the same time we all on the path back to our Christ self, our eternal soul which is untarnished by fear or negativity or pain.

Thank you Spirit for sending me that beautiful song this morning, on the last day of 2021, to remind me of my symbolic journey within as I prepare for my outer journey into the new year.

I wish everyone a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a Happy New Year! I will aim to write a New Year’s post within the next few days.

Love over fear

In last night’s dream a man kept shaking me. Or was it the other way around? I told him I was sorry for all his pain and that I hadn’t realised because I was a little girl. Someone else told me that I was the focus of his wrath now because I was getting the attention. Prior to the shaking, he was following me, hunting me down, even going into female toilets and pushing his way into a cubicle where my mum was sitting (not using, thankfully).

Who is this man? He represents masculine energy within my being; my mental or logical side which is concerned with thinking, action, assertiveness, dominance and the material world. In contrast, the little girl represents innocence, the pure heart, receptivity, the spiritual. In the dream she responds with love because she is in tune with her natural state of being and knows no fear or pain. The man, caught in conditioned thoughts and beliefs, only knows to attack what he doesn’t understand. His goal is survival at any cost and the little girl is a threat at some basic level because she is now the focus. Love, rather than fear.

What I have taken from this is that my old conditioned thought patterns are fighting for survival against my increasing focus on the light within my self and the knowledge of the innocence of my true being. Conditioned thoughts are rooted in fear because they are born of woundedness and pain. They attack because they do not feel worthy of love – my love. They cannot see or feel the light. They do not want to because they may disappear and then what? There can be a lot of comfort tied up in old negative thought patterns and wounds. We do not always want to let go of them. It can be more frightening to surrender to the light of truth.

The pivotal message of the dream is this: despite the threat, I responded in love rather than fear. Despite the fear of letting go, symbolised by the toilet cubicle, I am facing those wounds. As I reflect on this, I am remembering a prayer I sent recently which consisted of the genuine intention to be happy for those with whom I sometimes have a tendency to lose myself in sadness; to rise above self-centredness and enter into the realm of pure unconditional love where everyone and everything is accepted and welcomed with love, even my deepest wounds.

My challenge is to remember my natural state of being even when those thoughts and patterns take over and attack myself or lament others for having what I desire or lost. In the light, there is no pain, no loss, no separation: there is only love.

Christmas: The eternal light within

Firstly, I truly hope everyone had the best Christmas possible, whether spent with family, friends, strangers, or oneself (I have done all of these at some point).

I was listening to another you tube video by the wonderful Matt Kahn yesterday entitled ‘Choosing to be here’ and thought how badly I need to take that in and really, really, apply it to my life right now. I am feeling a lot of inner resistance to what IS. I spent Christmas day with a few relatives and while I was blessed to have somewhere to go, I felt very disconnected and sad. The wounded part of me was crying out for my upbringing to have been different, for my relatives to behave differently, for my life to feel more connected and loving than it does. On reflection it was obvious that the disconnect came from me. Not that it means blaming myself for my feelings or experiences because they happened and they hurt, but I have a choice now in how I relate to myself and those around me.

Matt Kahn talks about relating to each moment as if we had chosen it. I know this is a common idea in spiritual circles but I had not fully grasped it until now, whilst feeling the pain of resistance to the extent that I did after spending Christmas with my family. It does not mean that myself or anyone else ‘asked’ for abuse or other horrific experiences or even that we literally chose them before incarnating (although we may have, who can know); instead it points to the idea that everything that happens is our teacher and we can sift even the most terrible experiences for their gold. Rather than sinking into despair over our longing for something different, we can look at what IS and ask how we can respond to this, how we can learn from it, how we can let it transform into something greater.

My hurt is real. My inner child is real. A common pitfall on the spiritual path is to ‘bypass’ our woundedness in favour of intellectual spiritual wisdom, all the while forgetting that true wisdom is found in facing our darkness, our pain, head on and understanding and accepting it. The essence of Matt Kahn’s teaching is loving whatever arises, or if we cannot love it, loving the part of us who cannot love. In this context, I can love the little girl in me who was sad at Christmas because she knew others were having Christmases that she could only dream about. More than that, she longed for the experience of belonging to a family who loved each other and had fun together in ways that hers never did or will. Those longings are valid. Who as a child didn’t want to be cared for by people who loved and respected each other and came together at Christmas of all days? It is okay to hurt. But the key is not getting stuck. We feel to heal.

I spent two nights crying with emotional pain that I thought I’d transformed ages ago. I felt so awful that I wondered if I was dying. Then it occurred that maybe I was. Not literally of course, but dying to a past that has gone; dying to the wish that things could have been any different. I can only accept the child’s emotions and tell her that she is loved and accepted and we’ll be okay somehow. She needs to know that it is not ‘wrong’ to feel the way she does. But as with any child, she also needs to know that those feelings are only a small facet of her world and they’re not going to destroy her entire being. On the contrary, they will bring rainbows once the storm has passed.

The adult me knows that I can only change myself, not other people. Maybe the gift of Christmas lies in knowing that ultimately I belong to myself. I am made of light. I can love and accept myself. I can learn to feel at peace within my own being. No matter how dark and dire our personal circumstances are, how agonising the despair, our inner light is stronger. Whilst I feel on the outside with family members and indeed many others at Christmas, the learning lies in what Christmas is all about: love and hope and transformation. Emotional pain WILL be transformed, if we let it. The image of the crucifixion is what THIS is all about: ‘I have overcome the world’ says Jesus. So can we all. This doesn’t mean never being affected by anything – Jesus himself felt abandoned by God in his darkness moments – but we can trust in our eternal light which cannot ever be destroyed. This is the spirit of Christmas.

Wishing everyone the very best as we approach the end of 2021.

Fears, lockdown, returning to Love

The thought of another lockdown terrifies me. I’m not even sure why. What am I really scared of? What am I afraid of losing? I have an upcoming mini-Christmas with someone very dear to me and I don’t want that not to happen, but if a lockdown did take place, we could surely re-arrange it. I am planning to spend Christmas with family as I couldn’t last year, and I don’t want that to be cancelled either, but likewise, we could hopefully re-arrange, albeit with the nightmare of lockdowns earlier in the year we never did.

I’m scared because none of it is in my control. I’m not keen on the term ‘ego’ for various reasons but the younger, scared, mind-identified, isolated part of me believes she won’t cope without the people and things she loves most. The irony is that my life doesn’t really change all that much, lockdown or not. I am volunteering and working to start a business from home due to my health limitations, and now, with the threat of Covid never ending, I imagine that situation will become far from unusual. I still have my dog, thank goodness, and I can see and speak to those I care about via Facetime, although that isn’t the same of course. I hate not being able to go places and see the people I want; no one likes to feel their choices have been taken away, however good the reason may seem to be. I miss my meditation group and while there are plenty of online options, they never feel the same.

But no, it’s not about any of those things; my fear comes from both the loss of control and the almost tangible sense of fear that I absorb from the world daily. I really need to limit my exposure to the media as I know that doesn’t help. It isn’t just the media though, it’s people’s differing viewpoints on vaccinations and covid and the government – I’m taking in their words and feeling their anxieties, leading to emotional overwhelm. I don’t claim to have any particular viewpoint other than I want – need – to keep it simple. I will look at the evidence and do what I think is best…and that’s the best I can do. But the energy of fear in the world right now is impacting on me. I think I need to look closer at this and take further steps to protect myself.

I can focus on what I CAN control, which is how much information I am willing to expose myself to in order to keep myself emotionally and spiritually healthy.

I can choose how to RESPOND to the information I read, since my response dictates how I feel about it. While I cannot control whether or not there will be a lockdown or my sense of being out of control, I can focus on my thoughts about this and what I can proactively do within my own life to improve my wellbeing and that of other people.

Perhaps most importantly, I can PRAY for guidance and faith when I feel I am too lost in confusion and fear, reminding myself that prayer sets the intention to remember the light that I am.

Existential issues such as isolation, meaning, loss and death are familiar to us all and are what make us human. Regardless of how spiritually aware we are, everyone struggles with one or more of these at various times in their life. However one feels about the current worldly situation, there is no denying that it’s brought us face to face with the existential realities of life and it’s more important than ever to face faith in the light and not get lost in the darkness of fear, however prevalent it is in the world. As an empath, it is perhaps harder than most to ‘shake off’ the painful energies surrounding us, but with greater attention and intention, and asking for help from God, guides, or our own Higher Self, we can reaffirm the light within us and return to the love that we are.

A miracle

My dog had her cardiac ultrasound today. I already knew she was improving. Since Saturday her frailty has been less evident and she has shown more inclination to move around at home and more enthusiasm on her daily walk. Whilst she is still far from as energetic as she was before 4th December, more and more signs of the old Zoey are returning with each passing day.

Prior to this scan, two vets on two separate occasions picked up an arrhythmia. Today, the ultrasound detected no issues with the structure of the heart and an EKG found no evidence of an arrhythmia at all. This doesn’t mean there isn’t an arrhythmia because any scan is but a snapshot of course. Plus she had been exceptionally frail and had a very fast heartrate on moving in the mornings up until last weekend, which meant she had to lay in her dog bed and recover before starting her day. She had lost a lot of muscle power and was exhibiting rapid eye movements while wide awake. There was something going on, perhaps a stroke, but whatever that something was/is, she is now improving every day.

I don’t know if it would have happened anyway or it has to do with the amount of prayers and healing sent her way. It doesn’t matter which. My mind might never know or understand. The main thing is that she is recovering, and it FEELS like a miracle. Before she became ill I had started re-reading Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love, a beautiful interpretation of ‘A Course in Miracles,’ where it states that a miracle is “a shift in perception from fear to love.” I love that. It reminds me that love is the energy of life, and by letting go of fear, which is incredibly hard to do, we open the way for our highest good and the highest good of others to emerge, instead of being blocked against. We have faith in the cycle of life instead of clinging and resisting it. We learn to dance with life and feel the light of our souls rather than the heaviness of pain and fatigue. None of it is easy yet it’s the simplest and most natural experience there is – returning to the love that we are.

It now feels like a miracle that I have more time with my special dog, no matter how long that time ends up being. I have taken care of her in the best ways that I know how. It has not been easy; I have been in tears at the thought of not having her in my life. It would be like losing my right arm. The emptiness at home would be unbearable. Despite all this, I tried not to succumb to fear and to trust that if it was her time, it was her time, and with that understanding and faith I would be okay. Fortunately it was not her time. She is still living her life fully and her little body is regaining strength. Love was sent her way and for that I am grateful. A miracle, for sure.

Life is precious and unpredictable

In the last week I’ve come face to face with the unpredictability and preciousness of life.

On Friday my dog became ill with what the vet has termed a ‘vestibular event,’ or, to my mind, a stroke. She was absolutely fine on Thursday night, bouncing around like her usual lively self, only to wake up the next morning shivering uncontrollably, arching her back and looking very disorientated and confused. After a restless hour of pacing, she settled into her bed and slept all day. As she has a diagnosis of (well controlled) epilepsy, I immediately thought this was related to a non-obvious seizure and as such she would sleep it off. Sadly, this was not the case, as on Saturday morning she was the same. To cut a long story short, two trips to the vet later and there is clearly something wrong with her heart that requires an ultrasound scan, due to take place on Tuesday. In the meantime she has stabilised somewhat but is weak and exercise intolerant. Mornings are far worse; she seems to be experiencing a rapid heart rate on moving which calms down a bit later in the day. She is eating and drinking independently and normally but is having to rest, rest, rest. She manages a very slow walk around outside but not for long or it sets her symptoms off again.

Needless to say, this has all been incredibly stressful and scary. My dog has always been healthy for her age (almost 12) and until last week was walking for an hour most days, divided into two walks, and was always full of energy and enthusiasm. Seeing her how she is, clearly confused about what has happened to her, is very difficult to deal with. She is my constant companion and has been for eight years. I would not even be about to put into words how much I love my dog. She was there with me when my Dad died. She came into my life at a desperately painful time. Even her name ‘Zoey’ means life, as to me, she really did represent a new life.

This last week has reminded me on a whole new level that life is always fragile, and whatever we attach to we will lose eventually; such is the nature of life. All we can do is be reminded of the preciousness of times shared, deep in the understanding that they cannot last in the way we wish them to. I can only hope that my dog makes a decent recovery with time and medication, but if she does not, I am finding comfort in knowing how deeply I have always loved her and how much she has given me. And that maybe the sparks of Consciousness that are her and me will find each other again one day, in a new way.

Birthday blessings and realisations

Last Friday was my birthday which is a day that has historically been a source of sadness, longing and other painful emotions, as well as gratitude for the people who cared and wanted to spend some of the day with me. This year is the first where I have experienced no painful emotions at all, only happiness and gratitude for those many people who thought of me and made it special by sending cards, gifts or, in the case of one good friend, met up with me despite having no money! I am so grateful for them all.

I am also more aware than ever that that day merely marks the incarnation of me in this particular lifetime and I am so much more than that. It doesn’t mean diminishing the importance of my birthday to the part of me who needs it, but remembering it is only one facet of my existence. My soul exists beyond this lifetime: it is part of the Divine and thus has always existed and always will exist. This life, this personality, my experiences in this lifetime, are one colour in a spectrum of many. When I lose sight of this for too long and attach to my personal history as being the totality of who I am, I will suffer. When I embrace my history as part of my soul’s many journeys through many lifetimes, I am free.

This said, my birthday has enabled me to take stock of this lifetime and what wish to experience (within the bounds of what is possible). I’ve decided to join the dating scene again for the first time since before the pandemic and put myself out there, even though it terrifies me. I still fear rejection on an emotional level, despite all I know spiritually. This is because my inner child still longs to belong and be accepted, as much as I am working on accepting myself and belonging to my own sense of being. I have enough self awareness to give myself to a relationship without becoming enmeshed or wanting to back away. At least, that is the hope. I’m an HSP and empath, so relationships have historically been hard, leaving me needing to back away to get some space. Maybe I will find someone who functions on a similar wavelength so we understand each other. That is my birthday message to the Universe: I will experience a healthy, connected, loving relationship where we both understand the wholeness of love that is in our hearts and share it freely. So be it.

Acceptance and gratitude

Gratitude helps me stop and take stock of what’s positive and working in my life on days when it’s hard to see past what is far from ideal or I wish was different in some way.

It’s too easy to fall into lamenting what seems wrong or feeling jealous of what others have that I wish I had.

Being grateful for my lot doesn’t mean pretending my feelings are any different than they are or denying they even exist; the last thing anyone needs is to feel bad for having feelings that simply ARE.

Acceptance is the key. In accepting where I am right now, I let the feelings flow, allowing my heart to open and space for new perspectives and experiences to emerge. This is when gratitude can take shape within us as we realise we’re always guided by the Divine to be the best we can be, even when life is unbearably tough. We’re never alone.

In the words of the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So be it.