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emotions Tag

Out of Reach

_72148568_9cec5944-2377-4fa5-97ed-deb0a0ca2518Like the shimmering wing of a dragonfly, a sliver of silver juts out of an ancient sea of sand.  It’s the wing of a DC 10 that casts a long shadow across the tawny sand of the Sahara. A delicate silhouette of an aircraft encircled by dark stones and 170 broken mirrors marks the place where the white hot fire of a bomb of terror melted the bodies of 170 men, women and children on September 19th, 1989. It’s where Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc and others have marked the place where the ones they love have died.

Guillaume was twenty-six years old when his father Jean-Henri boarded the UTA flight 772 in Brazzaville. The flight that never arrived in Paris. For Guillaume and so many others this monument etched across the shifting sands has been a quest for peace and for justice that has consumed eighteen years of his life. As the ghosts of grief haunted him, he lost his business and his marriage. But the memorial to his father and all the others that died then can be seen from Google Earth and from the aircraft that still fly over this vast sea of sand. And although the desert will irrevocably draw into its hot belly the debris of the plane and the 170 broken mirrors, his act of grieving has been given form. Though the pain of loss will be there, I suspect, for as long as he lives.

Closure has been assimilated into the common lexicon. Like the admonishment to “move on” after a devastating divorce or the loss of something we cherish like a precious pearl and keep enclosed in the chambers of our heart. Closure means to bring something to an end. A conclusion. Like lowering a coffin into a grave and shovelling lumps of soil on top. Closure is often accompanied by a gaggle of shoulds and ought-tos that suggest that closure is something we can order like a new app on our iPhone. Closure implies that grief has a time frame, a sell by date.  And that in our grieving, one size fits all.

imagesCA334DAJYet despite our best efforts and our bright smiles, we may find that we can’t fix grief or sew the frayed ends of grief together neatly. We can’t superglue the jagged cracks in our hearts. Grief seeps under the door at anniversaries. And stays over the holidays like an uninvited guest. It makes itself at home when we hear a certain melody or smell a scent that reminds us with a sudden sharp tear at the sutures of time, that our hearts are tattooed. Our loss is indelible. The one we love is out of reach, disincarnate. The only link we have is the silver cord that tugs at our heart. A reminder of what we had, what we lost. The temptation to return to the place of suffering is a siren call, for the rocks are jagged and the waves engulf us and suck us back with the undertow. So we straighten our spines stoically. Or invite Grief in like an old friend to brings us news of the one we love.

Pierre Francois Ikias’s 14-year-old brother Fleury le Prince was on that fated flight. “You wouldn’t have thought that 18 years on, the shock would have been quite so palpable – but when you see the destruction, the pieces of aeroplane scattered around, the seats, the remains of people’s luggage – the emotion grabs you by the throat. Unfortunately my brother’s body was never found, so this journey was my way of grieving. While we were there, one of the drivers of the convoy found a human skull, which we buried on site. For me it really was like saying goodbye and burying my brother.”imagesCAGAMZXV

Says psychologist Stephen Grosz in his book, The Examined Life, “I’ve long thought that Kubler Ross was wrong. The “psychological stages” of dying and grieving are wholly different. For the person who dies there is an end, but this is not so for the person who grieves. The person who mourns goes on living and for as long as he lives there is always the possibility of feeling grief.”

Perhaps part of our experience on this earth is to experience a multitude of emotions. In the turbulence of confusion and the broken shards of loss, the human heart opens into its nobility. This is the potency of the soul’s response to Love.

And yet, for some the only way to lance the boil of grief is to plot our revenge.  To shrink and harden our hating hearts. To get back at those who have harmed us, an eye for an eye. Blindly we stand in the harsh glare of our loss. In our pain we spin the wheel of war, terrorism, holocaust and suffer still.  Revenge is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die, writes novelist Anne Lamott.  It’s a poison that prolongs our agony. Embalms  our grieving. There is no closure in revenge. Peace remains elusive, out of reach.

458015_386439001400355_1291352053_oSays Stephen Grosz, “We want to believe that the clairvoyant can bring our dead back in to the world of the living. Closure is just as elusive – it is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief.”

So in grieving perhaps there is no closure. No great literature, art, or music would exist if it were not for grief and suffering and the transcendent Grace of Love. As we bargain, beg, rage and rail against the brutal inevitability of endings, our wails become poetry and sweet music. The salt from our tears softens our hearts. In our grieving we build a monument to Love.

Gabrielle’s beautiful rendition of Out of Reach

Read the full story about this memorial that can be seen from space.

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Words

So often we talk about what we don’t want in our lives. “I don’t want a partner who lies to me.” “I don’t like my job.” The insidious, “I can’t sing, I can’t resign from my job, sell my house, live alone … ”

The ubiquitous “I’ll try to” that reflects our ambivalence and disempowerment. Or the threadbare, “I’ll see what I can do”, or the terminal, ” we’ll see”… Thickets of thorny don’ts barricade our path to change and new growth. The slippery, non-committal words that signify nothing. The “buts” that negate and nullify.  They are the fear and self-righteous judgement that bind us to the ever-spinning wheel of Ixion, tormented by our self-defeating thoughts and habitual behaviours.

Words wound and scar. With reptilian-like dispassion our forked tongues spew the putrid gossip that oozes around the office or our homes. We lacerate our partners, our children, our colleagues with words that make fragile hearts weep. Most of us have a habitual vibrational frequency, well-worn neural pathways in our brains that allow us to keep thinking those thoughts, feeling those emotions, saying the words that resonate with that frequency. Our aching bodies speak of our inner conflict, symptoms of a frequency that can make us literally ill.

Last year, the Italian clothing company, Benetton’s “Unhate” Campaign, was aimed at fostering tolerance and “global love”. It featured the provocative and superbly Photoshopped image of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a senior Egyptian imam. This image of love was too strong for the barnacled bastion of the Vatican, but it was the slogan, “Unhate”, that drew my attention. Bob Nicoll, author of Remember the Ice, uses the NLP model to reframe words and eliminate what he dubs the (K)notty words – the not’s, the don’ts. So, if we say, “don’t talk about Bill’s affair with Susan,” our confused brain will do just that! When I read “Unhate”, my energy dropped as I registered the word, “Hate”.

In the dark shadow of the cataclysmic First World War, a woman called Blanche Ebbutt, compiled two slim volumes of do’s and don’ts for a happy marriage. I would like to share these “how-tos” of 1913 with you in 2012:
The Don’ts for Wives:
Don’t be out if you can help it when your husband gets home after his day’s work.
Don’t let him have to search the house for you. Listen for his latch-key and meet him on the threshold.
Don’t omit the kiss of greeting. It cheers a man when he is tired to feel that his wife is glad to see him home.
Don’t greet him at the door with a catalogue of the dreadful crimes committed by servants during the day.
Don’t think your husband horrid if he seems a bit irritable; probably he has had a very trying day, and his nerves are overwrought.
As Bob Nicoll, points out, when faced with the don’t, this is what we are advised to do: Be out when your husband gets home. Let him have to search for you. Skip the kiss of greeting. Greet him at the door with a catalogue of dreadful crimes. Think your husband horrid if he seems a bit irritable.

I could not resist the Don’ts for Husbands, in the interest of gender balance, of course:
Don’t sulk when things go wrong. If you can’t help being vexed, say so, and get it over with.
Don’t “nag” your wife. If she has burnt the cake, or has forgotten to sew on a button, she doesn’t want to be told of it over and over again.
Don’t shout when you are angry. It isn’t necessary to let the children or the servants know all about it.
Don’t scowl or look severe. Cultivate a pleasant expression if Nature hasn’t blessed you with one.
Don’t “let off steam” on your wife or children every time anything goes wrong in the garage or the garden, or the fowl house, or the dark room.
So, if we remove the (K)notty words, the message we receive will be:
Sulk when things go wrong. “Nag” your wife. If she has burnt the cake or forgotten to sew on a button, she wants to be told over and over again. Scowl and look severe. “Let off steam” on your wife or children every time anything goes wrong. (This last one could be grounds for building a case for how potential abuse occurs…. says Nicoll.)

Words are potent tools to change our perceptions, lift our energy to a higher vibrational level. Each one has meaning and a vibration and can change the course of our lives. By judging anything bad, or wrong, we stay stuck in the swamps of negativity and block our inner Guidance. Let’s self-censor before they slide out, razor-sharp, and cut someone today. Instead, try this on, see how it feels: “I love you, I will never leave you, and I will always take care of you. (Said to oneself.)” Elizabeth Gilbert

Bee Gees, “Words”

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No White Flag

Nothing is more abrasive to the human spirit than being ignored or invalidated by the one you love. When a lover, or cherished friend makes a unilateral decision to abort a relationship, and “move on”, we remain behind, emotions cauterised: unheard, unseen, invisible. Very few of us journey through this lifetime un-scalded by the sting of rejection.

“She won’t return my calls,” Jeff told me, despondently stirring a third spoon of sugar into his cappuccino, as if to sweeten the sorrow in his heart, ameliorate the loss of his dream. “She says it’s over. She’s in love with someone else. There’s so much I feel I still want to say to her!” he says, staring despondently into the dark chasm of a future without his Kathy.

Deep attachments are excruciatingly difficult to release lightly, to unravel effortlessly. Especially if they come, not in a fit of pique, or a defensive cold shoulder, but as a deliberate closure, or when some fated event cracks us open, catapults us into the thunder ball of rage and grief.  Of course, we can embalm the Love that once was. Conceal it like a precious pearl in our hearts. Defiantly refuse to raise the white flag and surrender. Or we can accept that these sudden jolts are critical moments in our spiritual life, in our evolution towards a new level of opening.

If we allow ourselves the Grace to experience the raw pain of loss and the darkness of depression, to sit, for as long as it takes, in the stinking sewer of our own self pity and anger, to allow the salty moisture of our tears to cleanse and heal – then, and only then, will our Wise Woman self emerge  to garner the fruits from the dark Mystery of this experience.

Pathos, rather narrowly defined in the modern dictionary as “suffering” was understood in a far more sophisticated and subtle way by the ancient Greeks. For them, pathos embraced the profundity and enormous scope of human experience. We feel the breath of pathos when embraced by a powerful unexpected bolt of passionate love. Or when someone we love dearly leaves us or dies. Or when cataclysmic change occurs in our lives to shock and disorientate us, to fling us into the dark abyss of unknowing. Pathos is something outside us, bigger than ourselves. Joseph Campbell said, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”

Our ancestors knew Pathos. They knew Necessity. They embraced the Mystery of Fate that realigned their lives and personalities.  The shaman would travel to the Underworld to enter into the temple of the soul, to be dismembered by pain and suffering, to be born a-new. With our fundamental either-or beliefs in “facts”, our dumbed down, literal world-view, when Fate intrudes in a coldly detached way, we are so often left, entrails dangling, disorientated, stumbling in the darkness, searching outside ourselves for logical answers.

In my interpretation of astrology, I see pathos acitve in the birth charts of clients who are visited by fate in the form of life threatening illness, a devastating love affair, loss of a child, the seemingly inexplicable ending of a long friendship. It is a visitation of something non-ordinary, impersonal, supernatural. It is a breaking open. We face our own Armageddon  when we succumb to our hidden longings, unfurl our crumpled wings, and free fall into the unknown – a new relationship, new job, a courageous move to a new country. Broken open, we allow our soul to shine through.

“White Flag” – Dido
I know you think that I shouldn’t still love you,
Or tell you that.
But if I didn’t say it, well I’d still have felt it
where’s the sense in that?

I promise I’m not trying to make your life harder
Or return to where we were

I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be

I know I left too much mess and
destruction to come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you can’t talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of “it’s over”
then I’m sure that that makes sense

I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be

And when we meet
Which I’m sure we will
All that was there
Will be there still
I’ll let it pass
And hold my tongue
And you will think
That I’ve moved on….

I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be 

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