Constellations

Project

Ready to galvanise my grief into something positive, I visited a hypnotherapist to enhance my resolve for a new creative project (What to do with negative emotions).

Unfortunately it didn’t go at all as I had imagined. I had already begun to feel empowered, that I was taking control of my negative emotions, would be soon turning them into something else, of creative value, and of cathartic value for me. I felt that one or more sessions of hypnotherapy (with someone I had worked with previously) could help bring the best from me in terms of what I was about to do.

Trauma

But something completely unexpected happened. She started talking to me about childhood trauma & how she mainly works with something called ‘constellations’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Constellations) as she feels the most beneficial work can be done with this technique.

She said we could do hypnotherapy, but the description she gave of how unresolved trauma is re-enforced through later trauma, and how to survive, we have to become more and more vociferous in protecting ourselves from it, felt too familiar to me, and I realised I needed to explore it.

At the start of the session I told her how I do much better than when I last saw her – she could tell. I said it was mainly from going through such a traumatic relationship experience and as a result not giving a shit about anything anymore – it was the best therapy I ever had!

I also told her that I am also much better at protecting myself now, and am much happier for it – I have a ‘veil’ inside my head (Sadness & Grief), an ability to shut things out (to a certain degree) that are too painful so I can get on with my life which serves me very well indeed (most of the time – certainly better than any other strategy I have used to date).

She explained the impact of compounded trauma (we may not remember the initial trauma) in terms of a bird in a room that is caught. When the bird is caught the first time it ‘freezes’ to protect itself and when it is released it ‘unfreezes’ and starts flying round the room again. The more times the bird is caught, the shorter the time it ‘freezes’ for – until eventually, it is so stressed that it has a heart attack and dies.

Apparently as humans we don’t ‘freeze’ in the same way a bird will – our mechanism to protect ourselves from unresolved trauma we are not supported to manage, is to block the trauma away in our brain. The problem is that this initial trauma if not dealt with, can get re-enforced through our lives. And the more the initial trauma is re-enforced, the stronger our defences have to become to withstand it and, essentially, to survive.

In this way she (almost embarrassingly) pointed at my survival strategies as textbook reactions to intergenerational or early childhood trauma – my ‘veil’ or protection; managing to just not think about things if they caused me too much distress – seemingly distress that would never go away no matter how much grieving I did; my anger which is much more present & upfront than it ever was before. Though in reality for me, these strategies have been my (very effective) way of surviving the last few years – and I don’t plan to change them any time soon unless someone offers me a better alternative.

And in terms of my latest project idea (What to do with negative emotions) it rang particularly true. I felt that if I didn’t take these awful feelings and channel them into something new, something creative, something worthwhile – that I would die. I know this sounds really odd, and melodramatic but I genuinely don’t know how else to explain it. This is 100% how it felt for me – ‘do or die’, like my survival was at stake. Maybe channelling them elsewhere is a way of not dealing with them – but I make no bones about that; I’ll admit I’m completely lost when it comes to knowing what to do with those emotions. Given that everything I have tried to date hasn’t worked or affected any change with my basic romance pattern. Your guess is as good as mine. Why not make a film? Seems as good idea as any and it’s a new one! Nothing else has worked so why not try this?! And at the very least it might be something of value at the end of it. And I might learn something where I haven’t anywhere else.

So I felt left with nothing. Not only did I now not have the resolve, strength, creative energy & drive to go full steam ahead with my project, but I had to just sit there then with these awful feelings – no way out or of doing anything about them, and my defences suddenly pierced.  My strategies since my catastrophic break up (in June 2016) for coping with difficult emotions have been really effective, allowing me to get on with my life rather than feel depressed in my bed all day (which was basically the other option – do or die right?) – and not just plod along, but to have had some of the most exciting, creative, worry free & happy times I have ever had and crucially – to feel the best about myself that I ever have. To realise, at last  – of course there is nothing wrong with me!! (What a relief for someone that has just always believed this).  I used to persistently, relentlessly, bravely confront my thoughts & worries head on and try to deal with them in a ‘healthy’ way. I definitely made huge advances but day to day I was still largely depressed and anxious and often couldn’t shake the feeling I was somehow inferior to others around me. As such, having utitlised both methods, I remain to be convinced that the former is such a bad idea.

Relief

In a way it was also something of a relief that at last someone agreed there was ‘something wrong with me’. Of course this is not how she phrased it. But to date everyone around me has only ever been as baffled as me about my romantic failures. I think people around me don’t see (maybe they can’t (or can’t afford to)?) that I have been rejected in relationships much more often than most people I know and still remain stuck in the same pattern.

This is very understandable because they love me, but not altogether helpful as it offers me no answers. I makes me think I’m imagining it, that I’m crazy or weird, not tough enough for the real world where others are – or worst of all – some kind of idiot for not understanding a secret that is screamingly obvious to everyone else but I just can’t see it (this is what makes me wonder sometimes if I have some kind of Autism – are there social cues/signals in the navigation of romantic relationships that I just don’t pick up on or don’t understand??).

I know it to be true that something is not right & never has been. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have someone recognise & even agree that something IS wrong, something DOES need changing. The idea there is a possibility of a path I could explore that may actually help break my pattern is a relief, even though I remain sceptical about its potential for success given all the other methods I have tried for years and years that have not worked in any long term, meaningful way.

In exploring constellations I will allow my survival strategies to be loosened – at least for the time being. This is a very painful and uncomfortable thing which has knock on effects that  I won’t go into – but I reassure myself it is temporary (I absolutely pray this is temporary and I can get them back when I need them… I do worry I have opened some kind of Pandora’s Box that will just not close again once I try…). Though hopefully, who knows, some healing may come of it.

I have a vague hope that it may help the men I meet romantically to react differently to me, if not now then maybe sometime in the future – the prospect of this is the reason to bear the temporary discomfort – though of course I remain sceptical about this. However, there is another reason I am opening up to this. Another type of trauma the therapist told me about is ‘intergenerational’ trauma, passed as the name suggests, from generations before. I am pretty sure there is a significant amount of this kind of trauma within my family, and very close – more than 1 of the people involved are still alive. I have an instinct that intergenerational trauma may have led to any childhood trauma I may have experienced, and hence played a very big part in the problems I have experienced to date through my romantic relationships.

As mentioned, I am still ruminating on, and taking small steps towards potentially becoming a single mother by choice (the more traditional route not being to be a current option for me). So, if for no other reason, achieving some healing from any trauma would make opening up to the pain & discomfort worth it in the short term, if it can reduce the impact on the (potential) generation to come.

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