Monday, April 23, 2007

The eternal search for my Self

They say that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Well I hope the dawn is coming soon! I keep catching a glimpse of it and then it seems to elude me. My 'dawn' is a sense that I am truly at peace with my Self - my Inner Diva. I keep thinking I may have got there and then...wham!!! another curved ball comes flying in and knocks the dawn out of my grasp again.

Then of course there is the other saying' it's not the destination it's the journey that really counts'. Yep, I'm sure it is. I would just so like some of this journey to be a downhill stroll rather than an uphill struggle.

I have done so much clearing out over the last year of energy blockages that were protecting me from my Inner Diva, I thought that was over for a while and I could focus on inviting my Inner Diva back into my life.

So last week I had a lovely session with my friend Sally ( where we justed shifted any lingering energy out of the way so my Inner Diva could come out to play. At one point, Sally put a box of tissues on my lap, clearly expecting some emotional shedding... which didn't happen...then...but it is now! Hence my feeling that I am still in the darkest hour and dawn is still a pinprick on the horizon.

This is likely to be a long post so I suggest you go get a cup of tea and possibly a box of tissues now before settling down to it.

For some time I haven't been able to write. Even my Monday Moments have been a struggle. But I feel a need to write about this experience I have been going through over the last 48 hours - it's cathartic, but also I hope it gives hope for those of you who read it and are in the darkness too. You aren't alone. You might even have had similar experiences. Let's keep taking a step at a time onwards, together, towards that pinprick of light.

I have been reading Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star over the weekend. If you haven't read it, I really recommend that you do. Martha refers to our Essential Self (I call her my Inner Diva) and our Social Self. The Essential Self is the true essence of who we are, we were born this person and it's the part of us that is our true compass. It's our Self that would run naked down the street laughing and pulling cherry blossom off the trees.

Our Social Self is the who we think we should be. It's the part of us that would tut at the very notion of running naked in public and would make us go out clothed in order to avoid ridicule. It's the part that we allow to run our lives. It takes centre stage and relegates our Essential Self to the chorus. And yet it doesn't control the compass, so allows us to get pulled from shore to shore on the tidal wave of shoulds and ought to's and obligations and guilt and... and often those shores aren't anywhere near where our compass bearing tells us we want to go to.

Interestingly Martha also refers later in the book to the four stages of change:
Death and rebirth
Dreaming and Scheming
The Hero's Saga
The Promised Land

I have only got as far as the Death bit (I am hoping for a rebirth soon!). The first thing that struck me as I was reading the book was that the headache I had had for two days felt like it was literally splitting my head in two. I had put it down to the weather (it's been a bit close), dehydration ( I really must drink more water) and hunger (I must eat more regularly), but I knew it wasn't. In a blinding flash I could almost hear my Essential Self and my Social Self scrapping it out. Like Sleeping Beauty awoken, my Essential Self had been freed from the thorns and was now insisting on taking her starring role. Social Self was not giving up that easily!

'For God's sake', I yelled at them both, 'will you stop splitting me in two!'

They turned, aghast that I had actually heard them. I had to give them a good talking to. 'You are both essential in my life but you have different roles. If you don't work together, then you will tear us all apart and there will be no life to star in!'

Fortunately they were both so gob-smacked at my outburst I managed to continue before either could get a word in. 'ES, your role is to see the view from the trees and to set the compass bearing so we go in the right direction. SS, your role is to see the wood from the trees and manage the process of getting through the forest and onwards on our journey. Unless you appreciate each other, we're doomed to wander in this forest forever. So get a grip!'

Clearly I shocked them into some sort of agreement because the headache started to cool a bit; hushed tones took over and someone took the axe out of my head. Though I still felt decidely 'unwell'. I allowed my body to talk to me as it felt fit, following Martha's advice.

I quietly went back to reading Martha's words of wisdom about death and rebirth and the three events that are catalytic to the death/rebirth process: shock, opportunity and inner transformation. Shock is major life events that literally shock you out of your Self (positive -e.g. winning the lottery, though even that might not be positive for some, or negative e.g. death of a loved one, loss of job etc). I hadn't got as far as opportunity, suddenly the tears flooded and a huge emotional pain swept through me. Wracked is such an apt word. That's exactly what I was... wracked with...grief?

A small Tina came into my head, small, lost, confused in desperate need of a cuddle. I knew exactly when my Essential Self became Sleeping Beauty, when my Social Self took over, when I stopped being me and became far too much of who I thought I ought to be. It was when I said, aged just 12, 'Don't worry Daddy I'll look after you'. In that moment I became another person, a person who put her Self second and locked her Self away in order to make others happy. No actually, to alleviate other's pain. My driving motivation was to try to take away my parents pain.

It was a bright sunny September day - the 4th, 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee year. I remember I was playing out in the field with a friend. I am sure she was on her pony, jumping the straw bales. I was probably playing at being a pony, I usually was. I remember the clear bright blue sky, I don't recall who called me into the house. I do remember there were police people there. Dad was lying on the camp bed in the sitting room. He'd had a severe back problem and been bed ridden most of the summer. He'd only recently started to walk down the stairs and be taken swimming.

Quite how he managed to get the words out I don't know. My beloved brother Jonny was dead. A motorbike accident that morning. Somewhere near Driffield. My first response was 'Don't worry Daddy, I'll look after you.' The you being both my parents, not just Dad. What a bloody commitment for a 12 year old. What an identity to take on. I remember going to tell the vicar and being cuddled by the vicar's wife and being given tea.

I don't remember seeing my Mum. I think that she was being comforted by friends. Knowing, as I do now, that my Mum was fostered but had regular contact with her own mother until around 11 or 12 when her Mum seemed to just disappear, I can imagine that my brother's death would have stirred up all sorts of hidden emotion for her. I am very close to my Mum. I acutely felt her pain, though I didn't understand it.

So suddenly, here I am at 41, 30 years later, in floods of tears, having a conversation with my 12 year old Self - my Small Self - about how she felt. Here's our conversation:

Small Self: 'I wanted to take away their pain. I wanted to take care of them. They were hurting so much. I wanted it to be ok. I wanted Jonny to come back. I didn't understand why it happened. I didn't know how to be sad.'

Big Self: 'Sweetheart, you can't take away someone else's pain; you can only hold their hand while they go through it. I know you wanted it all to be ok, but sometimes life isn't ok. You just have to ride through the storm until the sun comes out again, which is always does. Hurt happens; it's part of life. We have to accept that it will heal itself given time.

I know you wanted to look after Mum and Dad. I understand that you felt their pain so much. I know you wanted to make it all better for them. But that wasn't your job to do, my love. Maybe there were lessons in life they needed to learn. Maybe they were being tested for a reason. Who knows.

It's not for us to know why sometimes; we just need to accept that things happen; we can't control everything; we can't always make things better. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can't, and when we grow wise we start to know the difference.'

Small Self: 'But I still feel so sad. Will I be wise one day?'

Big Self: 'You are already wiser than you know. It's ok to feel sad; empathy is a good thing and it's good that you feel sad about Jonny. It was a sad thing. Feeling responsible is too much for a 12 year old though. Do you still feel responsible for taking away Mum and Dad's pain?'

Small Self (sighs): 'Not now. I didn't do a very good job anyway. In fact I think I made it worse!'

Big Self (with a hug): 'You did just fine, my love. You did the best you could with the resources you had. So how do you feel about Jonny? What do you feel about him dying?'

Small Self: 'Confused. I don't really understand why? Why did he die? Why wouldn't Mum and Dad let me go to the funeral?'

Big Self: 'I don't think anyone knows why some people die young. It seems such a waste, but it happens a lot. I think Mum and Dad just wanted to protect you and the funeral was a big emotional time for them. Perhaps they wanted to make it better for you too. Perhaps they just felt it was best. Where do you feel the feeling of confused?'

Small Self: 'In my head. It's like a black hole.'

Big Self: 'Can you put your attention on that black hole? What is it like?'

Small Self: 'Just heavy and black. It gives me a headache.'

Big Self: 'Suppose we got some golden sunlight and filled the black hole. Can you do that?'

Small Self: 'Yes, I can do that. I've filled it right up.'

Big Self: 'You're good at this! So now it's full of light let's call that acceptance. We've filled up the black hole called Confused with sunlight called Acceptance. Can you do that too?

Small Self: 'Yes'

Big Self: 'So let's say together: Although I don't understand why Jonny died, I don't need to know why. I can accept that he did and it's ok to accept that.'

Big Self and Small Self: 'Although I don't understand why Jonny died, I don't need to know why. I can accept that he did and it's ok to accept that'

Big Self: 'Now, holding that thought in our heads, that its ok not to know and we can accept that it happened, let's use that sunlight to fill our bodies and heal all the parts of us that need to accept this and need to feel accepted. Shall we do that?'

Small Self: 'Yes, shall we just let it flow about?'

Big Self: 'That's right; let it flow around all the places in your body it needs to go; all the places that need healing and when it's done it can flow right on out through our toes. Let me know when you're done.'

Small Self: 'I feel a pain in my heart'

Big Self: 'That's ok, just let the light do its work, soften the pain and let it go'.

Small Self (smiles): 'I'm done'.

We just sat for a few minutes, Small Self and Big Self, in peaceful silence.

Big Self: 'How are you doing?'

Small Self: 'I feel better. Acceptance feels better than Confused'.

Big Self: 'Well, let's check in with this new feeling of acceptance. How does it feel to accept that you had no control over these events?'

Small Self: 'Ok, it feels ok now.'

Big Self: 'And how does it feel to accept that you can't take away Mum and Dad's pain or make it better?'

Small Self: 'That's ok too. I feel sad for them but I don't feel I need to look after them now.'

Big Self: 'How does it feel to accept we'll never know why Jonny died?'

Small Self: 'Well I'm sad that he did and I miss him, but it ok.'

I hugged my Small Self. I felt my Social Self hug my Essential Self and agree to be soul sisters.

And I've started to remember funny things, things that were hidden away in my memory of life before 12 - like the den I had at the bottom of the garden. I used to make mud pies in an old tart tin in my den and I used Hawthorn berries for cherries when Mum stopped me pinching her glace ones. I remember a particular tree in the field where I lived called the Horsy tree because it was shaped like a horse's back. I spent hours and hours riding the Horsy tree. It was my favourite spot, unless the cows were in the field; then my favourite spot was in my den. And I remember insisting on being called Princess Rita and leaving lemon curd tarts on a ridge under the kitchen table. Perhaps more will start to come now...

The headache has gone, but I am distinctly knackered. When more starts to pop out, I'll pop it on here. Right now I need sleep.

Thank you for listening. If you've read this far, I admire you. You must have a very numb bottom.

love and twinkles, Tina B xx

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


For some time now you have been to me (and doubtless to hundreds of other diva's)a great source of calm and advice and a voice of light across the ether - it was / is very brave (and yes cathartic) of you to blog these memories - i feel that althought you think "the light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarily switched off" it will return... oh, and it was Nancy Reagan "women are like tea bags ... you never know how strong they are until their in hot water" - your a definate cup of Yorkshire Tea! Vic