Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Feeling of Disbelief

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A family member (relative through marriage) died over the weekend. At first this was the upsetting news that left me feeling sad; that was until I read the obituary later and learned he had remarried and never mentioned it. So not only did I find out he died-but also he had gotten married and never told anyone besides his closest family. It just feels so surreal. I didn’t expect for him to die so soon despite being ill and I certainly never dreamt he would have gone and remarried. There’s nothing wrong with him remarrying. That is not the issue. What I am having trouble with is why he would keep that information from his extended family.

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Image credit: Pixabay

Isn’t getting married (even if it’s a second time around) good news worth sharing? Did he think we’d be upset since his first wife (our blood relative) only died not quite two years ago? We kept in touch but we hadn’t visited since the same year his first wife died close to two years ago. Anyhow, I know it isn’t earth shattering he got remarried and never told us but finding out the same day I learnt he died has been a shocker. It kind of feels like a betrayal-I know it is not-but that doesn’t stop the thought from entering my mind that he obviously didn’t think enough of anyone outside his closest relations to share the news.

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Image credit: Pixabay

 

So I feel hurt. I think he should have told us. It sucks learning about something through a person’s obituary. I feel discombobulated. We weren’t terribly close, I suppose when it comes down to it, but he felt we were family enough to know about how ill he was, so why not him meeting someone and remarrying? This is all fresh news for me so I am still processing it but maybe it will be less painful in the days to come. I’m not sure if I ought to attend his funeral or not given we aren’t blood relations nor close friends. It might be awkward to have to meet his wife and I don’t want to cause conflict or tension for his family that was around him regularly (especially since we never were introduced to them).

 

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Image credit: Pixabay

You know, I kind of feel angry now that I’ve had time to digest the news. It’s like suddenly I have to change the narrative of the relationship; okay, so I think it’s actually more that I am being forced to confront the fact we weren’t as close as I tried to tell myself. I was aware of the parameters of the relationship and it being lacking but still… When someone dies it forces you to confront the stuff you tried (I tried) to push down and not think about. Now that I am facing the redefinition of our relationship I feel all the emotions associated with the five stages of grief circulating through me.

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Image credit: pixabay

He was my last connection to the relative I was blood related to. The fact he remarried p*sses me off because it ruins the way I viewed the couple and I kind of feel cheated. Yes, it’s immature but the blood relation (his first wife) and him were my godparents. So even though they never acted in that capacity I am annoyed and hurt. Perhaps he wanted to avoid dealing with people (including myself) who would be conflicted over his choice to remarry. I sort of wish he had told me while he was living though because then I would not be dealing with shock over him dying AND remarrying.

Okay, I guess I am through for now. This writing has helped me in a cathartic way. That’s why I like writing when I am super upset because it acts as a catharsis so long as I am totally honest with myself.

Thank you for reading.

©Natalya Lyubov, 2017.

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Transgenerational Trauma & Transmission

http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/ValentTransgenerationalTraumaHolocaust_15.pdf

You can see I posted a link directly above my writing that is about transgenerational or intergenerational trauma. Although it is about Holocaust trauma it is easily generalised to other groups having experienced long periods of trauma. For my situation I am using the term to refer to childhood abuse passed down through the generations. In the linked article it talks about the unconscious and unwitting process of the traumatic transmission to the next generation. This means parents are unaware they are passing their traumatic experiences onto their children because they have not consciously dealt with their grief over having experienced horrible things. I really feel the article opened my eyes to how I ‘picked up’ on my mother’s trauma even though she avoided speaking about it when I was very young.

Growing up I was abused and traumatised by my mother. Much of it happened unconsciously in so far as mom didn’t recognise her behaviour as abusive due to her own experiences. Usually children think their parents are perfect but I was only too aware mine were anything but that. They did their best but you can’t give what you don’t have. I was long aware mom was treating me badly which caused me to have a lot of anxiety as a child. I’m not sure how I ended up without that protective buffer most kids have that allows them to think its their fault not the parent’s. In any case I didn’t have that and felt very depressed and anxious growing up. It wasn’t easy because I reacted with anger to my situation but was basically told this was inappropriate; I beg to differ! From my perspective the anger was more than appropriate considering what I was being subjected to on a regular basis. It was not my fault I happened to be the poor kid that shouts “the Emperor has no clothes!” and my family didn’t appreciate my honesty.

Most kids learn to cope with their situation through denial or some other defense mechanism like repression or the like. I didn’t seem to have the capacity for this so went emotionally numb instead. It was the only way for me to cope that didn’t involve me lying to myself about my family situation. By 18 I’d already attempted suicide seriously three times and was on antidepressants. I also had an eating disorder that helped me feel like I had a bit of control along with the side effect of leaving me emotionally numb. Following my suicide attempts I entered psychotherapy for the first time and never looked back.

Unfortunately my first few years in therapy were spent on trying to get me stabilised from my depression, anxiety and suicidal impulses. Had I known about transgenerational trauma, boundaries and female to female sexual abuse I might have fared slightly better. If I’d known of these things I wouldn’t have felt so ashamed for being something of an emotional train wreck. To my mind I felt I must have been overreacting since I hadn’t been sexually abused by a man, physically beaten or anything I could pinpoint anyhow. As I stated I knew nothing of transgenerational trauma transmission, nor boundaries. Thus, I continued to feel ashamed for being “weak” thinking I’d “only” been spanked, slapped on the hands and endured messy living conditions. It wasn’t until years later I realised mom had been a compulsive hoarder. I did know she had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder though as I’d come across the disorder in a book when I was 17. The impact of her NPD on me however was unknown until I came across another book in my early 20s on the disorder’s effect on children of NPD parents. That opened my eyes and made me feel much less crazy for feeling the way I did. I won’t bore you further since this is meant to be a post not a book! LOL

Transgenerational trauma transmission was first identified in survivours of the Holocaust but has since been applied to those in other groups as well, notably Aboriginals in North America and genocide survivours. The phenomenon also applies to families where abuse has been passed down to subsequent generations. The German psychoanalyst Alice Miller described the phenomenon in her term ‘repetition compulsion’; this applies to abused children having their own children and repeating the abuse unconsciously on them. In this way the abuse is literally passed down from generation to generation until someone has enough insight to get help to stop transmission. Incidentally, Alice Miller is an excellent author with lots of books available on child abuse. The only complaint I have is she doesn’t address compassion for one’s self or parents. Otherwise she is excellent in her championing of abused children through her books emphasising truth above all else.

Can you identify transgenerational trauma in your family?

©Natalya Lyubov, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 

 


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Nine Lives?

Yesterday when I was out my dad and I came upon a dead cat lying on the road. S/he was on their side and hadn’t been driven

Cat bliss

Not the hit cat. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

over but I imagine hit and killed. It was an 80 km/hr zone on that stretch of road so hard to stop to move him/her. I felt bereft because the cat looked so defenseless and vulnerable lying there void of life. The thought came to mind what would his/her “owners”/humans think when their cat didn’t come home? Would they find out s/he had been hit and killed? I wanted to go back and move the cat’s body before s/he got run over and was unrecognizable. But I didn’t go back because I didn’t have gloves and there were cars to think about-I didn’t want to join the cat!

What do you do when you find animals on the road that have been killed? I don’t mean the ones that are no longer identifiable but the “intact” ones. Sometimes I think about moving them but they’re always on busy roads/highways so I can’t move them unless I want to be hit too! 😛

©Natalya, 2013.


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Coat Closet Clearout

Loaded Coat Closet

Loaded Coat Closet (Photo credit: flatiron32)

Wow, I just finished cleaning out a coat closet that hasn’t been organized or cleaned in 20+ years. There was all sorts of stuff in there that I just looked at and shook my head. My parents never threw anything out and this closet was a “storage” closet essentially. Stuff would fall out if you opened the door because things were thrown in all ‘willy-nilly’. I got tired of thinking about how I should clean it sometime. So I managed to clear out three garbage bags full of junk that was in there. After I finished I felt like I had accomplished something. Of course there’s more to purge and clean but for now I’m pleased I got that task done. My parents are both hoarders, my mom died a few years ago so her hoarding stopped thankfully; my dad on the other hand just keeps things he doesn’t really need. Because I live with my dad I try to help him out where possible. Housekeeping is helpful to him because he has little ability to keep any space tidy and/or clean. It’s not a priority to him so he just leaves it go and I end up trying to keep on top of things.

I’m hoping my dad will look at the stuff I put in garbage bags and agree it’s junk. There’s a possibility he might want to keep some of it! 😛 Hopefully he’ll not want to keep the stuff though.

Beyond Therapy

Beyond Therapy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The portfolio workshop I have been taking for the past two months is almost over. It ends April 29 and my last counselling appointment is the 30th. I am not too sure what I’ll do next because I doubt I will get a job right away. As for counselling, I may leave it go for awhile. The sessions I’ve had with my counsellor have been okay but I don’t feel like I want to carry on with another counsellor afterward because of cost (also it’s hard to just go from one counsellor to another without a break in between to process things). Therapy or counselling should not be so expensive. I know therapists need to make a living but when you’re unemployed like I am it stinks being charged $40 each appointment. My dad has been picking up the tab but I still think it’s unfair to be charged that much when I have no income. Thankfully I have my dad but it makes me think there must be more people out there with little money unable to partake in therapy or counselling due to cost. There are of course the free places but they have wait lists that can be quite long unless you’re in a crisis. I don’t think it’s a very good set-up when you have to wait to see someone six months to two years, in some cases, or be in an acute crisis to see someone in a month usually.

Fortunately, my dad has looked at the garbage bags and allowed me to get rid of the stuff. This is good news because I wasn’t keen to keep any of it. Too bad most of it is not really in good enough condition to give to charity. It will have to be thrown out with the garbage 😦 Normally we are pretty reasonable and have little garbage anyway so we should be able to get rid of the bags without halving them for the following pick up date.

I feel like it’s been a really long “Spring Cleaning” period this year. We’ve gotten rid of so much clutter and cleaned a lot. It’s been very therapeutic for me because I lived for many years not allowed to touch the stuff. After my mom’s death we started the clean up process and it has not stopped. We have not been constant in our efforts though because of energy levels and mood. In the case of death you have grief to complicate an otherwise straight forward clean up effort. Although it has been 4 and a half years my dad has been slow moving forward with his grief and I’ve had to be respectful of that and not try to purge everything in one or two sessions. Instead it has been a series of MANY decluttering sessions, some large and some small, interspersed with periods of inertia.

Have you ever had to clean up or clear out someone’s belongings after they’ve died? Were they pack rats too?

©Natalya, 2013.


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Thinking About Dying

Well there you have it, the topic I’ve been mulling over lately, death and dying. Why? I’m not sure apart from I generally

Grief

Grief/contemplative

think about it sometimes more so than others, depending on the situation or circumstances at present. Right now I suppose it’s because I found out my last grandparent has dementia. She’s in her 80’s but last year when I saw her she was sharp and doing well according to a recent(then recent) medical inspection. So when I found out she had Dementia with Lewy Bodies I got a little…hmm, contemplative I guess. My grandmother was a very abusive woman to my mother and didn’t apologize until late in my mom’s life, and only after my mom pushed the subject. Perhaps you can understand then my less than overly affectionate feelings towards her. Mom kept me from seeing my grandmother when I was a child because she was so angry with her. I was fed lots of negative stories about her and I have no doubt they were very true, thus I didn’t miss her.

Full of Remorse?

Full of Remorse?anguish?

Then when I was an adult and my mom reached out to her mother a relationship was established-not a strong one but it was something. A few years passed and my mother forgot the repairs to the relationship as her Early on-set Alzheimer’s took hold of her memory. So the relationship drifted. All this is to explain why I’m not overly emotional about my grandmother’s dementia diagnosis. It’s complicated when you’ve gone so long without any connection then try forging one when you’re an adult. I guess the death piece entered my mind because it’s been 4 years since my mom died and my grandmother has been declining in her health ever since. Primarily she had depression and understandable guilt from having been a terrible mother. Now she has dementia. I can only guess at how long she’ll last but I have a hunch it won’t be as long as expected for the specific condition she has. My intuition is she’ll go early from grief. How does one ever truly reconcile out living one’s child knowing your part in it was to blame? I suppose she could live years, but I think months are more likely. A boat load of guilt is hard to live with for very long. But she might surprise me and live a few more years yet.

Lately I’ve been wondering about what happens to the soul once the body dies. I’m not Christian so don’t believe in

How do you view death?

How do you view death?

Heaven. But I have my own ideas on where the soul goes. I should mention I don’t believe in Hell either. I’m quite certain we make our own Hell here on earth. I’d venture to share with you my theory about the “afterlife” but this blog isn’t focused on that; also I don’t think it’s fair to get into a host of metaphysical discussions when I’ve marketed this as a place for sharing my thoughts on abuse, mental health and spirituality(in a general sense). So I’ll spare you the speculations I have about what happens when we die.

How many of you regularly think about death(in a broad sense)? including your own death? Is it something you fear or accept?

©Reflectionsonlifethusfar, 2012.


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Cleaning Up After Grieving

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer's patient in No...

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer’s patient in November 1901, first described patient with Alzheimer’s Disease. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 23rd will be the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death. She died in the hospital’s palliative care ward after only one month in hospital. Her diagnosis was early on-set Alzheimer’s disease but she died from dehydration/starvation-refusal to eat & drink. Reflecting back, I think she refused to eat and drink on purpose when she knew she couldn’t leave. There was a point where she went from not eating much to not eating/drinking at all. Eventually she just died from dehydration from not having enough fluids and food. My dad, sister and I knew she didn’t want to be kept on any sort of life support so we let her die without force feeding her. One of my aunts and grandmother were not pleased at first but accepted it was the right decision once they talked a bit more with the doctors and nurses.

I thought it best to give you that bit of information because when I mention cleaning up after grieving it’s a

English: Photo of the living room of a compuls...

English: Photo of the living room of a compulsive hoarder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

present issue. Four years ago we did not throw away most of my mom’s things. We donated some of her things and gave away some items to other family but by and large her stuff is still around today. Yesterday was important because I helped my dad clean/tidy up his room that he couldn’t handle himself. Grief had made him inert where tidying up was concerned because he’d have had to go through my mom’s things in his room. He had all kinds of blocks/obstacles in front of her things that I think he was unaware of. The obstacles kept him physically unable to deal with moving her clothes and donating them to charity. Every ‘block’ was another excuse for him to put off dealing with her clothes. I gave up a year or so ago on trying to convince him to part with the things. I realized he’d do it when he was ready-not because I pestered him into it. Today he sounded like he was ‘ready’ when he mentioned giving my mom’s clothes away finally. My tidying up his room gave him the momentum and clarity he needed to see a way through his resistance to parting with mom’s stuff.

Clothes

Clothes (Photo credit: codey)

I feel very pleased my dad is finally moving forward in his grief work. Some people can toss their spouse’s clothes and belongings in the first year. Dad needed longer but at least he’s getting there. Maybe I have been able to help him by living with him. He says he appreciates my company. But sometimes I feel guilty for not doing more. Yet now I see perhaps I have given him something less tangible and concrete-a way to heal.

There’s still a lot of things to be dealt with in terms of giving things away but we’re a lot further ahead than we were just a few days ago, and even more so than four years ago! My mom was a compulsive hoarder so she had more things than is normal and healthy. Thus, despite giving away a large amount of her stuff there remains a fair amount to be sorted still.

Related post: http://findinghealthafterillness.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/picking-up-the-pieces/

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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A Crazy Dream I Had Last Night

Last night I dreamed about my mother being alive and telling me she was going to try and give birth to my twin (I am a twin but my other half died in infancy) but each time she tried she miscarried. It was so bizarre. I kept thinking to myself I’m going to have to share my room and then I’d be devastated finding out the baby had been lost. She miscarried three times in my dream. Three times I saw my twin dying before my eyes. I have never dreamed of my twin before and I do not know what to make of it.

The only thing I am able to gather, interpretation wise, is it must signify a type of grief and

The Meaning Of Dreams

The Meaning Of Dreams (Photo credit: xcode)

transition/transformation in my life that I’m going through. In my mind all I can think about is how weird it was to be a child again finding out about loosing my twin. Why three times though? I tried to commit suicide three times. Is there a connection there? My mother was not the focus of the dream. It was more about birth and re-birth as a cycle in my dream. I think it’s pointing me towards the healing I’ve been going through and asking me to grieve what I have lost while being thankful I am still here to live my life.

Any dream interpreters here? Anyone have a weird dream telling them something about their life before?

Thanks for reading.

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.