TrueHeartWork | loss
333
archive,tag,tag-loss,tag-333,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-3.1,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive
 

loss 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.

4
0

Don’t You Remember?

When a lover,  close friend, or  family member refuses to discuss their unilateral decision to break off  a treasured relationship, the sting of rejection can reverberate for years, plummeting us into the abyss of depression. Our agonising why spins soundlessly like spokes on a rusty wheel.

When  the One we love is not willing to speak to us – she distances emotionally, he blocks our calls or leaves our empassioned emails suspended in cyberspace – the answers we long for, the amends we pray for, hang like dust motes in the cold silence of separation that strains over the history we’ve shared. To be silenced, shut out, triggers a primal wound of rejection that may bleed for years.

We all need a story to comfort us in the cold bunker of our loss. Our narratives become a soft blue blanket to wrap our lacerations as we weave some meaning that resonates with our core values and beliefs about the world.

For some, the tale of the despicable Villain assuages the pain for a while. This is a tale full of sound and fury that keeps us tied to the railway track, the hapless Victim, powerless and immobilised. We remain in rigor mortis, clutching the self-righteous umbilical cord to the person who silenced us, trampled brutally on our trust. We may not really want the other person to understand how we are feeling, or to excavate the reasons why they behaved so patronisingly or so sadistically. The subtext may be that we want them to suffer the way we still suffer. The people who have wronged us may never realise or even care to understand how much they’ve hurt us. Nothing we can do or say can make someone love us the way we want them to. Stay when they want to go. Nothing we can say can make them understand our hurt and sincerely apologise. Their own feelings may make them unavailable for an authentic exchange, so we will never hear the words we long to hear – and if we do, will we really be willing to drop the black rose of blame? So they remain a corrosive presence in our lives – lovers, friends, relatives – blocking out the light, crushing the bud of joy, a deadly rot that blights our courage to love again.

Rebecca and Johan had a long distance relationship that had bridged three years. When she received an email from Johan saying he loved her but was not “in love with her”, was sorry for hurting her, but did not want to discuss it further, she felt as though she had been disembowelled. Rebecca pleaded and implored, and Johan stalled, blocking all her requests for an explanation. So the messages on his answering machine remained unanswered, the heart-felt emails floated like confetti in cyberspace… the silence stretched into weeks, months. “I just need to understand why he left me so suddenly. Why he broke it off by email, why he would not give our relationship a chance to grow?” she said tearfully a year later, still weighted with the burden of her loss. “My friends are losing patience with me. They say it’s time to “move on”, “let it go,” “what goes around comes around,” but I just cannot stop myself obsessing, trying to understand what went wrong, why he did what he did.” Negative emotions pickle our attachments; preserving our sense of togetherness with those we once loved so intensely, those who meant so much in our lives. Anger is the glue that keeps us stuck in the obsessive, self-harming thoughts and traumatic events of the past. Nailed to the impotent “whys”.

Neale Donald Walsch advises, “stop looking all over the place for “the answers” – whatever they are – and start looking for the questions – the inquiries which are most important in your life, and give them answers. You do not live each day to discover what it holds for you, but to create it.

There must come a time when we ask ourselves what we gain by giving  the villains of our story so much power over us. Why our energy circuits are still attached to an event which happened so long ago, allowing the vampire of the past to sink its fangs into our life blood, leaving us to float, ghostly spectres between worlds? Why is a useless question. It disempowers, keeps us in stalemate. What I am going to do about my thoughts, my feelings, my own life, has a impetus that is far-reaching and empowering. It implies choice, and control. Our challenge is to retrieve our energy and plug it into the wall socket of present time. To invest in a future where we can courageously love again.

Perhaps Johan did not have a rational explanation for breaking up the way he did. Perhaps he could not tell Rebecca what he did not know himself. Perhaps he did not allow himself to feel regret, guilt or sadness. Rebecca will never know. When she was ready to step aside from the pain, release the fantasy that Johan might one day see things the way she did; when she was willing to acknowlege that what she wanted to hear was her own truth, she vowed to take from her own experience this priceless pearl: she would never diminish or disregard another person or leave someone breathless, waiting to exhale… she would weave a new story of compassion for this soul-mate-teacher-lover who had come to bring her the gift of Truth. Says Marion Woodman, “Don’t talk about being true to yourself until you are sure to what voice you are being true.”

Adele soars as she sings Don’t You Remember

 

1
0

When All is Said And Done

Loss can be a seismic shock that cleaves us open to release a torrent of pain or anger. There’s an art to grieving, I believe. An art to embracing the conflicted feelings: shock,  denial, bargaining, anger, and the bleak finality of acceptance. To grieve well requires patience and enormous courage, in a culture which has few rituals to swaddle the weeping heart, to embalm the wound till we grow scar tissue to venture into our lives once again. We are not taught how to grieve. We are taught how to name, categorise, label, mostly,  not how to deeply feel in our fast-food culture of “closure” and “moving on” as if  Love and Loss were malls, or drive-thrus.   Many of us don’t do “closure” easily. We find it excruciatingly difficult to cauterise, tie a torque around seeping lamentation.  We lack the will to dam up the tears that flood the excruciating emptiness. We stand naked in the winter of our discontent.  We sit, immobilised,  in the ashes of our grief.  The salt of our  tears lubricates the keening of our aching heart.

A young woman client arrived today, bowed with grief. She raged with Tiger-fierce anger, then imploded, numb with disbelief, as she told her story of betrayal and humiliation after a unilateral break-up. Her lover’s masochistic behaviour made her realise that she was still loyally clinging to old stories she had told herself about love. Still playing the powerless Victim, still meekly turning the other cheek, afraid to ask, afraid to want.  For some of us, part of the soothing balm of healing is the realisation that we can be angry when our former lover slithers up to us at a party, arms outstretched in a pseudo hale-and-hearty-greeting, hapless trophy-girlfriend firmly in tow.  It is permissible to recognise that the plume of white hot indignation that rises means we are still triggered, and that our pain does not have a short sell-by date. We do not need to be the compliant “good girl / boy”, and force a friendship with someone who has behaved despicably, or go through the motions of “learning lessons” when our inner brat wants to scream obscenities from the abyss of our pain.  We might need to knead and roll out the resistance patiently and creatively. Self-soothe, rather than push down further the bloodied blade of “whys” and “what ifs”.

New Age psychobabble has a lot to answer for sometimes, I feel. And, as for the much extolled virtue of “turning the other cheek,” or the misguided belief that our feelings are infallible truths, or we must think only “good and positive thoughts” lest we do ourselves harm, energetically, I have found that we often muddy the healing waters and prolong our wretched agony. Seeing things from your partner’s perspective can be useful – up to a point. But all we can really change is our own perspective – with a no-nonsense, “is this true?” as we question the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the one who did not, could not, want to love us. Even this takes some doing, and can be just another form of self abuse if we have not allowed the anger to rush up and release.

Anthropologists guess that humans first developed language and a bulging cerebral cortex about 1.6 million years ago, taking us down a very different evolutionary path to our close cousins, the chimpanzees. We developed, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, a sense of self, and importantly, a reflected sense of self, which shapes our choice of partner, as it is reliant on feedback from others. So, being humiliated, abandoned, or betrayed by the one we love has a devastating effect on our neurochemistry.  Emotions like anger and deep grief can hijack our positive self-talk and blaze through the libraries of books we have read on self-growth and spirituality, leaving us charred and utterly bereft if we do not have a solid sense of Self; and very few of us do. “Forgiving before you are ready is an act of violence against yourself.  And, you may never be ready” says Nicole Urdang.  Yet, once we are aware that all our long-term relationships and brief encounters are mirrors of our inner beliefs about ourselves, mere shadowy reflections of our shaky sense of Self, we can “love our neighbour – and ourselves.  No more pathological childhood trauma – wallowing in how your parents disappointed or abandoned you. The gift of grief and anger is another step in growing up. And if you honour the process, take your time to self-reflect, not self-flagellate, your tears will turn to pearls.

Astrologically, the transits to your own birth chart may suggest that this drama of grief and pain is happening through you, not to you. You have constellated the actors on the stage of your life, and you can access the power to change old patterns, even short-circuit family fate that has been mired in your ancestry for eons. If you can see your own collusion – not trusting your own instincts, perhaps “settling for” a lover who does not desire you enough to move from gridlock, who does not value you enough to commit to working through the power struggle.  To observe your own stonewalling, withholding, fear, criticism that has polluted the space between you, to have compassion for yourself as you revert to old default buttons, replay threadbare scripts. Only then can you begin to allow the cool tears and the hot anger to cleanse your heart, and make ready to Love again. Astrological Mars, representing anger, libido, fear, the Masculine Principle and our ability to fight off disease stationed early on Monday morning, then moves into retrograde motion on January 25th, reversing through Virgo for the next three months. This suggests that globally and personally, this is a time of turning points, of critical tipping points. A time that it might be helpful to examine how we betray ourselves, deny our intuition, stuff our anger and indignation down, tyrannize ourselves through negative self talk. A time to accept that the soul contract you had with your Lover-Betrayer was one of forgiveness and compassion.

Last word goes to Abba in that tremulously poignant song, When All is Said and Done:

“Thanks for all your generous love and thanks for all the fun
Neither you nor I’m to blame when all is said and done…”

Abba – When All is Said And Done 

1
0

That’s Just The Way It Is

 

The first month of this much heralded calendar year, is named in honour of Janus, two-headed god of thresholds. “This year will be better…” I hear people say hopefully, perhaps as a talisman to ward off the disappointments and hardships of the year gone by.  “2012 will be exactly what we make of it,” from a pragmatic, more self-actualised perspective. As the effervescent bubbles of New Year’s Eve flatten into the sober days of January and we minister to the minutiae of our daily lives Fate may enter softly through the open door, catching us unprepared.  She brings news that your baby needs heart surgery. That your best friend has been injured in a car accident. That you no longer have a job, a home, a marriage. That your life will change irrevocably. News that sends you skidding off the smooth tarmac of your carefully scheduled New Year planner.

“God never gives us more than we can handle”, is the trite kneejerk response to desperate calamities and unspeakable suffering that so many endure. A visit to a psychiatric hospital, a war zone, the trauma unit in your local hospital, witnessing an execution on You Tube, makes me question what kind of Monster we have created as a god who would gift us with this kind of suffering. The uncomprehending stare of a young mother’s eyes when she is told her child has died, a young man paralysed from the waist after diving into an azure pool one hot summer’s day, the black dog of depression that gnaws at so many, trapped in a snare of excruciating loneliness and loss. For many of us this year, we will have to bow our heads to the necessity of getting out of bed each day and finding something to be truly grateful for.  We will yoke ourselves to the inevitability of change: children who leave home, a lover who no longer loves us, a dear friend who moves far away, a beloved parent who now needs the same vigilant caring as a toddler.

Our ancestors lived close to the cycles of the seasons, the rhythm of Life. During the unrelenting grip of famine or displacement by war, flood or fire, they walked with the primordial goddess of Necessity. She was Ananke, also called Force or Constraint, she was mother to three daughters, the Moirai, the Fates. As omniscient goddess of all circumstance, greatly respected by mortals and  gods, it was she who ruled the pattern of the life line of threads of inevitable, irrational, fated events in our lives. Ananke  determined what each soul had chosen for its lot to be necessary – not as an accident, not as something good or bad,  but as something necessary to be lived, endured, experienced. Necessity is variable, always irrational, and errant.  She has been outcast in our mechanistic material culture where we, in our hubris and our self-inflation, actually believe that are all powerful.  Like a narcissistic two year old, we believe we can fix, cut away, or buy our way out of any mess we make.  And when something in our lives breaks us out of our usual patterns, seems not to fit, this is when it would serve us well to know that our unique and very precious soul has chosen this experience and with an out-breath, accept the  imperative requirement of Necessity. The “good” or the “bad” that we make of this experience is our mind’s doing, the perpetrator of our own suffering.

Ananke is an ancient goddess, and the resonance of her name has its tap root in the ancient tongues of the Chaldean, Egyptian, the Hebrew, for “narrow,” “throat”, “strangle” and the cruel yokes that were fastened around the necks of captives. Ananke always takes us by the throat, imprisons, enslaves, and stops us in our tracks, for a while. There is no escape. She is unyielding, and it is we who must excavate from the depths of our being, our courage, tenacity, and acceptance of what is.

So this New Year, Necessity may lay her hand on a defining moment in your life. She may still the tug-o’-war of the heart’s calling, block the mind’s plan, and fasten the collar around our neck. There will be no escape, except a shift in perception, and the courage to accept that which cannot be otherwise.

We will gracefully accept the necessary ending of a love affair, a not so exciting job that pays the bills, an ageing body, a severe or chronic illness, a barren womb, in the surety that everything is in motion: the cycles of the seasons, the orbits of the planets, the rise and fall of the stock market, birthing and dying, dis-ease and healing, tears and laughter.

So this New Year, may we have the courage to bow our heads to our hearts and honour Necessity, in the knowledge that as painful, challenging, frightening, hopeless, as things seem right now, this too shall pass. A Course in Miracles says: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.”

Phil Collins on Youtube sings That’s Just the Way It Is”, and moves my spirit today. 

 

 

 

8
0

And I love her

After spending three weeks in Mountjoy women’s prison Teresa Treacy, of Clonmore, is home. Her crime, her refusal to comply with High Court orders to allow power lines on her property which would, and did, ruin the beauty of the landscape, destroying tall trees. This act of courage and defiance has made this 65 year old woman a cause celebre in Ireland.

For me, Teresa symbolises the uncompromising Crone energy we must draw from our bellies if we are to live authentic lives in challenging times. I believe that in order to cross the threshold into the realm of the Crone, we as women, (and those men who have integrated the Feminine energy,) must experience a rite of passage, so that we may enter the sacred centre of the web of our lives, to learn what real Love is. Illness, divorce, death of a child or a partner, retrenchment, prison – tsunami times of intense physical or emotional suffering when the loss of our old identity becomes a psychic death. Times when we feel like utterly alone, floating in a fathomless ocean… no direction home.

How does it feel ?
Aw, how does it feel ?
To be on your own ?
With no direction home ?
Like a complete unknown ?
Like a rolling stone ? sang Dylan.

I saw an interview with 74 year old activist and feminist Jane Fonda. Breasts like Barbie’s, face taut, impossibly white, perfect teeth. She seemed brittle, very fragile, unmothered. Still hungry, unable to embrace the energy and quiet assurance of the mature feminine or the fierce wisdom of The Crone. The initiation into the wise woman archetype or Crone (which means “corona” meaning “crown”,)   lacks ritual and celebration in a world where we worship at the altar of  youth. Change is never easy. Most of us lack the support of community, or the mentorship of mature women to guide us over the crossroads through the dark forests and dangerous pathways. Mature Women to shake us firmly from our torpor, when we prick our fingers on the spindles and fall “asleep”. Our conversations are a timorous lament of our loss of youth. We sprinkle conversations with self-depreciating remarks – saggy breasts, stretch marks, flabby arms. We self-harm in our desperate attempts to stay sweet sixteen foolishly falling for the folly of Botox, HRT, face lifts.

Hollow-eyed beggars, starving for the crumbs of love. We’ve been fighting our bodies all our lives.  Marion Woodman describes the Crone cycle as a time of Crossroad, where we come eventually, to a place of deep surrender. “After a lifetime of trying to improve herself in order to become a “perfect” daughter, wife and mother, a woman’s “surrender” to herself just as she is, becomes like bathing in the refreshing water in the pool of her soul. Grounded in her connection with her inner wisdom, she now lives from her own authority.”

And so, through illness, loss, the inevitability of our own death, we stumble or are pulled with ferocity into the liminal landscape of the Crone. She is uncompromising. The giver and taker of life. She demands as payment for crossing the threshold, precious gifts hidden in the challenges that crucify. These are times when we may also glimpse the white butterfly of new possibility. As we integrate our aloneness and despair into new learning, we plant it back into a world that looks the same outwardly, though we have changed irrevocably. Says Marion Woodman, “periods of renunciation are the initiations in life when we realise God is not running a day care centre.”

Goddess is a word that has lost its currency. This powerful archetype has been prostituted to sell perfume, bath oil, and deodorant. It’s bandied about as a term of endearment.  Goddess, like Woman, has been made infantile, pretty-in-pink, static, always smiling, naively youthful.  But, there is not only one goddess. She has, for eons, appeared in three: Maiden, Mother, and Crone; and she takes many forms. In a civilization as flatlined as ours, she lives still as the Fairy Godmother, the Woman of the Mist, Baba Yaga, the Cailleach. She is the dark moon, the cruel winter, the fierce, wise Mother of All. The Crone courageously embraces her values, her truth, and her beauty. She caresses the silver riverbeds that lattice her belly and her thighs, sees the eyes that stare back at her in the mirror, and says, yes!  She works through those who have not pricked their fingers on the spindle and fallen asleep.

There is an old story, told by Lame Deer, a Lakota Elder. It speaks of the importance of injury. When we die, we meet an old hag in the Underworld. She will eat our scars, and then allow us to continue on our journey. If you have none, she will eat your eyes instead. This suggests to me, the value of inner sight, as we die in various ways on our journeys. It is in our scars, the fractures in our hearts, our wrinkles, our stretch marks, as Leonard Cohen says, There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

So there will come a time when we must stand in the fire, like Teresa Treacy of Clonmore. We must speak our truth quietly, with assurance. We must persistently mine the metaphors in our lives. Dig deep, chew the cud of our dreams and savour the delicious sweetness. Stir the cauldron of our darkest emotions. And when we have prepared, and are ready, the Crone will appear. She will take our hand, and lead us back to the Garden.

Well, then can I roam beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel myself a cog in something turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year, yes, said maybe it’s the time of man.
And I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Joni Mitchell, Woodstock.

Love the Crone, and listen to the original sounds of the Beatles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaJIQmIei14  And I love her, the Beatles http://www.offalyexpress.ie/news/local/teresa_treacy_to_meet_with_esb_1_3143058

 

 

8
0