A Death in the Family

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Scent of Cedar *, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    One of my brothers has died.

    The hurt and rage are like some living thing, devouring me from the heart. I don't know how to think about the ugliness and blame and outright hatred I feel. Or the guilt ~ that feeling of trying to fight my way out of poisoned cotton batting without the strong core of me.

    I don't know what to do with all this.

    I imagine compassion for myself, and for my brother, and for the ugliness of all of our lives, lived beneath the shadow of rejection and hatred and shunning but I cannot get there. I am shocked. But even exposed and so ugly and shriveled a thing I am a thing with a will of its own. A thing ugly and disreputable and yet, a thing not to be denied or fooled or shortchanged. It is like intentionally, determinedly pushing through layer after layer of denial, but without any sense of control.

    Cedar in free fall.


    Whatever do we do with these feelings.

    The way my mother hurt him, both when he was little and as a grown man, calls an intensity of rage or hatred or huge thundering steps or a trapped feeling or something. Like when whichever Greek hero that was who shot the eye out of the Cyclops. It's like part of me wants that eye shot out before I see what I am determined I will see.

    WTF, Odysseus.

    The way the family comes into collusion and hurts and disparages and parades and justifies themselves is driving me batty. I cannot believe the intensity of emotion. I am shocked by what I have lived through, what I have seen, how frightening it all was and how I could not protect or cherish and on and on and on it goes.

    The consensus has been to keep the news from my mother. Not because she would grieve. Because she will hate; because she will celebrate his death with the same hurtful words and imagery she spoke against him once my father was dead. And I want to spew ugliness and speak words filled with hatred. It's as though I have no moorings.

    "A frank encounter between his (Pericles) audience and the primary sources of their trauma: Their own dead."

    I am out of time.

    Last summer I could not tell him what I now know. I did not know it. It was just last summer that I was posting about fearing my sister's phone call or that she and my mother would show up at my door. We worked hard last summer. We got me through to where I needed to be.

    But I was not where I needed to be in time to make a difference for him.

    This rage feeling is so bright.

    Like a nuclear explosion.

    Comes the silence, burning


    I understand the names of what happened to all of us, now. I know the terms and have shared my stories here and read my story in the stories of others. Finally, I am finished with trying to establish who the Liar is. This summer ~ in just a matter of days, I would have been home. I would have seen him again. I could have told him what I now know about how to see. About calling in witnesses when we cannot see through our own eyes. I would have given him the names of the things I've learned that he could look up for himself, and accept over time like I did.

    But that did not happen. Here is the answer: Guilt is counter-productive in this case. He no longer needs to know how to see.


    It is well and good to instruct ourselves to stop judging. Or to have mercy. But when the wrongs have been intentional, and harm filled, and repetitive...telling ourselves how we wish we felt about it doesn't work.

    So...what to do with those feelings.

    Grieving and raging and blaming and roaring around in my own head found me circling the same feelings, re-experiencing the same shocked disbelief that it was what it was and still is.
    This brother's story, and mine, have been written and cannot be altered (unless we are willing to tell and believe lies) or undone. I begin circling and circling the same territory, the same betrayals.

    The same blind rage.

    The quality of Mercy is not strain'd
    it falleth as the gentle rain from Heav'n
    upon the place beneath

    It is twice blest;
    it blesseth him that gives
    and him that takes.

    'Tis mightiest in the Mighty.

    That is from Shakespeare, of course. The Merchant of Venice. I think. When I cannot understand how to envision mercy, this helps me. This imagery.

    "It falleth as the gentle rain from Heav'n
    upon the place beneath...."

    It is the finality. This is how his story ended. This. Ugly. Thing.

    I am all about ten thousand shades of rage, today. Like a kaleidoscope, then. Which means I am moving. Just to move from this space, just to know I am moving, feels like mercy. I am not, after all, fixated on and celebrating and devouring myself through hatred. How afraid I am of that. Who knew that whatever these overwhelming feelings are, that they come in so many echoing colors, or that guilt rides beneath them, and shame. I could not be more surprised at the rage I feel. I am helpless in the face of it.

    I had to do scream work.

    You know, where you scream into a pillow until you are done screaming. I was less done than hoarse, but it helped me to do that. I went to Tai Chi, saw friends afterwords. But still, I was walking around ragged and raw. Talking about rage, and about guilt. Babbling away about my mother oh for heaven's sake.

    I should never go anywhere when I am upset.


    There are two points of focus:

    1) The things my mother did. I could go ballistic right now at imagery that must represent all kinds of things. That I did not protect is there too, but it is less that than...guilt. The savagery of the feelings and imagery is unimaginable.

    And the grief.

    I have the correct stance regarding guilt.

    I could not have a conversation I was not prepared to have.

    And he no longer needs to know what I know about how to see himself.

    2) So the emphasis has been turned, once again, away from the loss of this brother's life ~ from the completion of his story with gratitude and joy ~ than what that means and what our lives meant and what was done and what was left undone (well, I could go on in that vein but let's just stop here). Toward the other sibs bemoaning the way it has been lately between them and me, and how this death should be a catalyst for putting our relationship back together.


    It isn't only the cheap melodrama in that kind of thinking. It's that the death and the hurt of the things that were done would be sacrificed, would be made meaningless, would be used to fuel the coming together again of that same dark engine at the heart of this.

    I barely recognize myself.

    Maybe what is happening is about truth and courage. And not rage. Not the wrongness of rage. Maybe, the rage has to do with refusing to "behave" ~ with refusing to buckle and be nice and understand. I want nothing to do with sheltering or even welcoming; want nothing to do with that Family Dinner imagery ever again.

    Never, for them, again.


    According to the research I did Wednesday, rage and guilt after the death of a sibling are a normal phase of the grieving process. I just keep seeing him when he was little. I replay those awful, awful things I know and I become so angry....

    It's like I am helpless.

    I feel defeated by these feelings. And yet.... Okay. So I feel a little like Martin Luther. Here I stand, right? (Otherwise known as F You, Mom. Remember the old days, when that phrase was my mantra. Even if I did have to hide it in the motorcycle handbag so I would not see and rationalize myself back to sleep.)

    Here is Copa's Sleeping Beauty Kiss.

    But I no longer have Copa.


    Here I stand. I can do no other. (We are back to Martin Luther, and to Martin Luther King, too.)

    And this morning, and yesterday too, I am thinking about both Martins Luther ~ thinking about Dr Martin Luther King, too. There is a living audacity in declaring that wrong is wrong, and in proclaiming that publicly. That is where my fascination with the Protestant Martin Luther, boldly nailing his Proclamation to the Church door, was seeded.

    Martin Luther, Dr. Martin Luther King...and me. I do feel just like that, actually.

    But way madder.


    What has Dr. Martin Luther King to say about rage and guilt and shame.

    As it turns out, many beautiful things. This the most beautiful: The words of the poet Aeschylus, spoken by Robert Kennedy to the crowd gathering upon the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King:

    "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us through the awful grace of God."


    Rage in Greek mythology:

    See More Lyssa Pictures >

    Lyssa or Lytta was a primordial deity in Greek mythology, the spirit of blind rage, as well as rabies in animals. She was closely linked to the spirits of insanity called Maniae.

    One source has it that she was the daughter of the primordial deity Nyx (night), that emerged from the blood of the Titan Uranus after he was castrated by his son Cronus. Another source names Gaea and Aether as her parents. Hera asked Lyssa to take command of the hero Heracles and overpower him with madness. Lyssa initially said that she was not fond of visiting the homes of men, nor use her powers to turn friends against each other. She unsuccessfully tried to give the task to Iris, so she had no choice but to fulfill the command of Hera. She sent Heracles into a fit of madness, during which he killed his wife Megara and his children.

    Another myth in which Lyssa participated was that of the hunter Actaeon. While hunting in the woods with his dogs, he came across the goddess Artemis, who was bathing naked in a lake. Artemis spotted him and, enraged, she turned him into a stag. Lyssa then inflicted rabies on his dogs and tore him apart.

    Lyssa Is also called Ira, Furor, Rabies, Lytta.

    See Also: Maniae, Nyx, Uranus, Gaea, Aether, Hera, Heracles, Megara, Actaeon, Artemis


    Reading my own words about where I was last year at this time has absolutely validated my faith in the efficacy of FOO Chronicles.

  2. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry Cedar.

  3. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member

    I offer you some warm cyber hugs for you pain. It isn't much, but at least you know you've been heard. :hugs:
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  4. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Cedar, how I feel for you and am so sorry for your loss. Words are not enough in times like these.
    Holding you in my heart and thoughts.
  5. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Cedar, my deepest sympathy. May he rest in peace.
  6. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member

    So, so sorry...
  7. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    The Road Not Taken

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that, the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.
    - Robert Frost
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry.
    Your words are beautiful.
    I confess I don't know the difficult back story here.
    I recall well my mother's face when her brother died. It haunts me a little. Maybe I will never fully "get this" since I have no siblings.
    But it is clear there is much emotion and pain here.
    I love that you can express yourself so well and that you can imagine compassion for yourself. Blessings.
  9. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Gentle loving hugs for your hurting heart.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Im very sorry for your loss.
  11. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry you did not get to see him again, Cedar, and to share what you have learned. I too don't know the back story about what happened in your childhoods, though it was obviously very painful. I hope that he was able to come to his own truths and his own peace about it all. I think from the way you have written about him that he surely felt a tremendous bond with you and knew how very, very much you loved him. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    “In streams of light I clearly saw
    The dust you seldom see,
    Out of which the Nameless makes
    A Name for one like me...
    All busy in the sunlight
    The flecks did float and dance,
    And I was tumbled up with them
    In formless circumstance.”
    Leonard Cohen
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  12. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    Cedar, I am so sorry for your loss. Sending you a gentle hug.

    Love, Esther
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Thanks, you guys.


    Posting the hurt and the shame denatures the core of whatever this is, somehow. I am not walking around wondering whether I am wrong to feel as I do. I am not wondering what is the matter with me, that I feel as I do. I've written and posted feelings I am not supposed to feel. Somehow, the act of posting, the decision not to hide behind who I should be, how I should feel, stops toxicity in its tracks. What was on its way to becoming an unspeakable secret (who I am and how I feel versus what is acceptable to the role I hold in my Family of Origin).

    That's the center of the thing I am thinking through and around. That is the thing betrayed by these inappropriate feelings.

    My role is to carry the potential for healing. Is to believe for all of us that we are good and decent and that we can come together. That I carry this role frees the Primary Abuser to engage as she wishes. I was forever holding the hurts, drying the tears, believing them and myself better than we were taught that we were.

    Small steps, as we come real ~ as we come into an acceptance of our own realities.

    So, that's good, then.

    Thank you for witnessing for me. We have been discussing the value and validity of FOO Chronicles in this setting devoted to supporting one another over issues having to do with our children. Here is an interesting thing: Confessing our truths, telling the real feelings and vulnerabilities swirling around everything to do with our kids was the first bravery, the first defiant act of courage and of love. The public posting of the private reality is the healing act in our work here. I worked and worked through feelings on that first post. I did not intend to post because I don't like to look bad, first of all, and secondly, I felt ~ who knows. Because of everything we have been discussing regarding what is appropriate and what is offensive and etc. What could be more offensive than someone roaring on and on about her own feelings when a brother has died.


    It's like there is a place within us where feelings of rage and rejection and confusion and shame coalesce into some unrecognizable thing that, if we do not address those unacceptable feelings, takes on the weights and shades and toxicity of shame, over time. We hide it away, surprised at ourselves, and not sure how to understand anything about it. Maybe, what happens is that as more time passes, the now unrecognizable mass sinks further, sinks into that darker place echoing with traumatic fearsomeness having to do with abandonment. (I think that is all the feelings but you know what. I forgot love. I forgot deep regret. I forgot betrayal ~ forgot what it is to have believed in and accepted and excused the continuous, unremitting betrayal that loving someone who hates us becomes.)


    That betrayal I just described is where rage is seeded. That is the heart and core of it. I saw an ad for Scotch this morning on Facebook. This is the reality of Family Dinner. This is Braveheart imagery, which I've also worked with pretty extensively as I've come through this. The theme of betrayal runs like a river through the movie Braveheart.

    In any event? In the ad for Scotch that I found this morning on my Facebook, I am that first really cute man wearing the kilt.

    Well, roar. It won't come through. Here is the link.

    To follow this down, then: In another time, I would have been numb to rage. In another time, I would have been the family peacemaker because that was my role. For all those years, that was my role. That is what the Family Dinner imagery was about: Role fulfillment. That is why it felt so right. That is why I excused them, again and again and again. In creating that role, I created imagery of a decency that I recognize as a real potential but that does not come to fruition when my people come together. A place of stability. A steady current through which all might swim and survive and come together over time. Hope, for all of us. That is the benefit to the dysfunctional family in the very rigid role categories assigned and in the particular role that I played. Here is an interesting aside: In describing me to someone new to the family, my mother used the words, "Cedar is the family romantic."

    And here is the thing. I was sincere, in my role. As far as I can remember feeling, anyway. That is why I could excuse roaringly inappropriate behaviors time and time again without a second thought.

    "That's just my mother." "That's just my sister."

    The destroyers, the jealous ones, the victimizers who feed on the pain they've created, they were sincere as well.


    I am thinking of the article SWOT posted for us back in the beginning of FOO Chronicles. (jkf, I am always remembering the meaning of FOO in your language. :O) The article SWOT posted for us had to do with issues of role rigidity versus role flexibility in dysfunctional families. We all take on roles to one degree or another, all the time. Healthy families, healthy people do, too. It is how we empathize with a character in a book or a movie and maybe, with one another in person. We educate ourselves through our reflections in the eyes of those we love. Or, hate, I suppose. The article SWOT posted for us had to do with the correlation between the degree of role rigidity and the intensity of a given family's level of dysfunction.

    That is my interpretation of SWOT's article.

    But boy, does it ring true for me.

    This dynamic too, so I believe, is begun with the creation of the Culture of Scarcity Brene Brown writes about.


    This morning, I am ~ it feels like I've dodged a bullet. Not in the way I dealt with FOO issues, but in the way I put the traumatic imagery called by my brother's death away in my own heart. These times when we interact with our so determined families of origin are the times ~ so says me, and it looks like I know everything again this morning ~ when deep trauma is seeded in some echoing place we are afraid to go. (And again, this determination on the parts of our families to see us ruined is nothing personal ~ we all are playing the most incredibly transparent roles in our Families of Origin. I think no one is real but the Puppet Master.) Those traumatic seeds ripen, over time. The seeds ripen into those seemingly legitimate self concepts having to do with shame and self contempt and self hatred. I can see now that these concepts are the energy that makes the circle move ~ the energy that creates the whirlpool or the black hole or whichever imagery works for you in envisioning how negative self concept is formed.

    The helping role is the only white role. There is another, but as it does not apply to my situation, I will not note it here. It resonates with beautiful emotion. Like Glinda, the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz.

    And we already know I am whirling around like my pants are on fire roaring about rage and etc. (Liar, liar, pants on fire?) Well, yes.

    Because the possibility that I am the Liar here is very real. Given the forever flexible nature of what is real, of what is true, and my certain knowledge that there is a determined consensus that the dysfunctional family of origin will come together by labeling me the Liar, that is the truth my own people will claim is the truth of me.

    How sad for me that this is so.

    Whether the labeling is done overtly (the shun), or covertly. (Crocodile tears of regret at the shun. Which have been shed copiously, and oh, so beautifully, by the person whose role it now is to fulfill Family Dinner.)

    Oh, those rats.

    Maybe, I would rather be the Family Dinner person. That was a very nice role to hold, actually.

    I did so love that imagery.

    I still do. Just not for them.


    This business of the whirlpool or of the black hole (which current theory surmises is what holds a galaxy like the Milky Way or any other galaxy, together) imagery where family of origin is concerned matters very much. These energies are what fuel the ongoing family dynamic. This happens when the energies we don't want to address ~ rage / guilt / fear of rejection and etc ~ lose coherence, lump together somehow, and sink into the traumatic fear of abandonment place.

    So easy then for the Primary Abuser to hook into the energy she needs to keep the whole dynamic viable.

    That is why we have to know our truths ourselves, first. Winston Churchill was talking about England and the War, of course, but his contention that the only thing to fear is fear itself is true for every situation.


    Given the intensity of emotion, this is an ongoing dynamic, in families like mine. We are re~traumatized, every time we come together. This too has its genesis in the Culture of Scarcity dynamic Brene Brown writes about.

    The brother who died...my mother hated him. She was terrible to him all of his life. I don't need to process that here at this point. His death will leave a vacuum in the family dynamic my mother set up and perpetuates to this day. His personal life, who he was, what mattered to him...has been subsumed by the black hole spinning away at the center of this family's dynamic.


    That makes me feel sad.

    He was a nice man. Here is a lovely description of a troubled family: Charismatic, intense, talented.


    The answer: A quote from Julian of Norwich.


    For those without time to read the article in its entirety, this is the part that matters:

    “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
    Julian of Norwich

    The words are supposed to have been spoken by The Christ in response to Julian's question about why evil existed.


    Here is another set of imageries from Facebook this morning. Imagine the balanced self concept this child will take from this mother. This is beautiful imagery, everyone. Remember as we come through these places in the psyche, that while we need to understand what did happen to us, what we need more is to know the feeling of healthy interaction so we can re-parent ourselves in the ways we require.

    The three year old delivers a lamb. Her mother instructs her. It's beautiful. This is the nature of the energy we need to witness, and to re-parent ourselves with. If you are one of us, reading along but reluctant to post, it might be helpful for you to contrast the feel of your family of origin to the manner of the mother in the video toward her daughter.

    Notice how the little girl is able to concentrate on what she is doing. Notice that she turns her face away from the mother at one point so that she can concentrate.

    That is another difference I have noted between those of us raised in healthy, flexible families and those raised to fill the expectations of some Primary Abuser. Our attention will be squandered, instead of focusing easily and well on the task at hand, in vain efforts to please whoever our abusers are. Our attention, our ability to concentrate clearly and without distraction in our adult lives will be fractured, squandered, in that same way, when we have been raised to fracture.

    Could this be what performance anxiety is about, I wonder.

    The little girl is delighted, not with her accomplishment, not with her mother, but with the baby lamb.

    With what is.

    The mother does not even say "Good job."

    She shares her knowledge. She celebrates, with the child, what is. And nothing more than what it is. She doesn't rattle on about how this or that is going to be.

    What is is enough.

  14. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    So sorry for your loss in this realm, Cedar.
  15. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    That ability to work through ones feelings, type it out, read and reread, edit, then.....to post, or not to post. Who we are and how we feel, real, versus role. Cedar, this must be doubly hard because there has been no contact for so long.

    I have found this to be true, not just the posting, but the responses. We have become each other's witnesses.
    I am glad that you posted your work, the honesty, rawness and intensity of those feelings..........What is appropriate, or offensive when it comes to this? Or even when posting about the horrific stories of our d cs? How can one carefully measure out those intense feelings?
    I know at times people may not understand, or feel offended by what is written, and then there is that absence of face to face, where words can be interpreted entirely different than what the meaning is.
    Still there is no denying the undertaking and all that goes on when someone pours their heart out here.

    You have been so brave to share what you are going through, and it has helped me to be here with you. Forgive me, but I do have to read and reread to keep up, you are just so darn smart, and imaginative and amazing. You are not just the romantic in your family, you are the intellect, and so much more.
    I hope that I have not offended you, or anybody with my writing.
    It is a very personal thing to review FOO.
    Yet, so important to see ourselves through our own eyes.
    I am so very thankful to have read through these threads and shared in the work. The places I have gone with this are life changing. A lot of it is because you, Copa and Insane have held my hand along the way. I am truly appreciative of that. It is also because you have posted your truth. In reading your posts, it has helped me to walk through this journey, the bravery in others posting has helped me to come forward with my story and work through those feelings that surfaced. I feel the same about the FOO forum as you do.

    I did not find it offensive at all, Cedar. You are grieving on so many levels here. It is traumatic to lose a beloved sibling. So many memories welling up inside. I would expect even more so when there are memories that are not pleasant. Cedar, it is good that you are working through those feelings. I am sure your brother knew how much you loved him. It is hard when words were left unspoken about what you have discovered here in your quest in FOO, but you would have shared with him. The timing of it, so close to coming home. I am sorry. You have worked through that piece, and I am glad.

    Things are so different when we have understanding, a clearer picture. Cedar, I can only imagine the many feelings racing through you. How long has it been since the last communication with your family? Now, there must have been so much said, and yet, not said.
    I was a bit distracted by that ad (that man is incredibly cute, by the way). You do realize that is a Polynesian team performing the haka (war chant). Forgive me for asking, in the imagery do they represent your family, your rage, or both?.....Cedar, I don't recommend wearing a kilt when you see your family.......
    Your brothers passing has forced communication. It does not matter what follows, Cedar. It is your decision how to proceed. You know who you are, that is what matters.

    This is so. I have thought much on this with hubs condition. It is still touch and go. So many unanswered questions, but life with its necessities must go on. I cannot be frozen with fear. Nor can you, or anyone else. There is nothing left to do but go day by day, work through the feelings, and be true to ourselves.
    Again, you have introduced us to a notable woman in history. Julian of Norwich lived in the Middle Ages, is said to be the first woman of her era to write a book. This is what I found researching about her.......
    "During her early life, the Black Death hit the city of Norwich three times. It is estimated that the plague killed about a third of England's population in one single epidemic. People died so quickly and in such numbers that "the dead could not receive proper burial and in the worst of times, lay stacked in carts like so much cordwood, or in hastily dug pits on the edge of town, or simply where they fell, in the streets".[4] Seeing these images may have affected Julian, who was just six years old when the plague first hit Norwich. Although she does not speak of the plague directly, her book shows a deep sensitivity to suffering and dying."
    Can you imagine at six years old, living through such a thing? To come out of it, dedicate oneself to God, fall deathly ill at around 30, receive epiphanies, then live to write of them. Thank you for the article about her. I know you meant to share the meaning of her vision and revelation ( I went a bit further). Humans capacity to overcome and survive is amazing. You have come through the fire of your difficult past a diamond, Cedar.
    Whatever comes of this, you will be fine.

    I will be uttering these words relayed to Julian "All is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

    Another interesting tidbit I found on Julian is this

    "She may also have participated in a medieval form of the Internet, called the Friends of God, in which both men and women, across Europe and through time shared their contemplative texts and supported each other in that work of contemplation........"

    Sound familiar?

    I am struck by these images and examples you have shared, Cedar. Julian of Norwich contemplated life and faith and acceptance of what is through her experience with death, the horror of the plague she witnessed ravage her country as a young child, then faced with her own near death as a woman. She lived to write of it, and what shines through her writings is her faith and trust in God. Here, we see a little child, delivering a lamb, so confident and brave, fascinated with.....life.
    What is.
    That is the essence.
    So simple, yet so complicated.
    So much said in two small words.
    It is what's left over from all of the discussions here on FOO.
    Not only what was, but
    what is.
    It is what my father strived to understand and live by in his latter years and sadly, he lamented all of the mistakes he made throughout his life upon his deathbed.
    "It is what it is" was oft repeated by him.
    Yet,he was a perfectionist and his imperfections bothered him greatly.
    Isn't that what is?
    Humans are imperfect, we all make mistakes.
    The point is to learn from our mistakes.

    Even with all of our searching on FOO, we are still left with what is.

    My sister, is my sister. It is the same with my family as you wrote, "That is my sister".
    I have heard it so many times. " That's just Attila....."

    And it is.

    I can't change the past, or my sister, but through all of the work done here, I have a better understanding of who I am.

    I see the same for you, Cedar.
    You know who you are and what is real, not role.

    You are working through this loss within your family seeing with your eyes.

    It must be entirely freeing, yet confusing all at the same time. How do you react and respond now, with all of this understanding you have?

    There is much to think about, yet not.
    Because of what is.

    It will, you know.
    All shall be well.

  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Cedar. I send my condolences to you upon the death of your brother.
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Thank you, New Leaf.

    I think the first team, leaping and shouting and so frightening, represent our fear of the unknown. Our fear of not being enough; of not being equal to the task. I think the Scotsmen standing without shirts or weapons or false bravado or the certainty of the win represent...I think they represent what it is to stay present.

    The Scotsmen are an example of steady state. They are a visual representation of Viktor Frankl's contention that what happens to us matters less than the self we birth through our responses to our situations. The Scotsmen are a visual representation of standing before what is. Right, wrong, or indifferent, there is no posturing in them. I have the sense that, other than showing up for it, the Scotsmen did not behave in ways that would instigate a fight. In their respect for themselves and for what is, they neither fidget nor run.

    They stand naked.

    Like we do, here in FOO Chronicles, to learn the truth of the things that happened and that are still happening, so we can lay claim to ourselves and our lives, and not be ashamed.

    We are like the Scotsmen in that way. Or we will be.

    They represent the concept of nothing to protect.

    They are just so real. Going role would not help them now in any case. But they simply stand there, attentive and fully aware.

    That is what I see in that imagery.

    There is no shame. There is no fear. There is no bravado. That is self-acceptance. Winning or losing matter not at all. Standing up matters.

    Accepting what is without rancor or fear matters.

    That is my goal. No rancor, no resentment, no fear, no shame. It is what it is.

    I love that there is no expression on their faces.

    They just do the next right thing.

    Thank you for asking, New Leaf.

    I am not in that place of courage or self acceptance, yet. *** I wrote these words the day New Leaf responded and asked the question. The concepts have clarified over time. Now I am more sure. For those reading at some future time, know this is how it works. It takes a number of days for the concepts to clarify.

    Hold faith that this is so. Sit with the feelings. Journal them in some public place if you can. Maintain your anonymity.

    Part of that clarification has been to demand better of myself than to pander to denial.

    It has been very hard.

    And very worth it.

    I feel raw.

    I was in contact with the brother who died, Leafy.

    I am glad, Leafy.

    I am changing too, down in the secret darkness where hurts are protected.

    Maybe the best way to describe what happens is that we recover our "NO".

    And when we do, we find we have recovered our yes, too.

    We live with our whole hearts, which have come alive, again.

    He knew I loved him. Communication was sporadic, but always kind.

    I am at peace with his passing, and with my response.

    You all have been part of my coming into balance around this brother's death.

    Thank you.

    With my mother, it was two years in March. With my sister, it will be one year, in June. I think that is correct. My brother (I have two brothers) will have been two years this past April.

    This is the second time I have been shunned by my family of origin.

    The first time was five years.

    Whether I were participating in family of origin or not, everything that is happening would still be happening. To participate, I would, to various degrees, have joined in creating the reality of denigration, and denied the brother who has died while he lived. When he died, I would have attended his funeral though neither of the other sibs attended the wedding of this brother's daughter. I did. Nor did they acknowledge the birth of his grands. I did. To me, the ultimate condemnation here is that they attended his funeral. Regretfully pondering, with his family and children, how rotten he was and how wonderful they all are to have come together for his funeral. Killing more than two birds with any number of stones, they slip the scapegoat's guilt into the pockets of his children while proving there is nothing wrong, here at the heart of the family of origin.

    This is the source of the rage. This dynamic.

    How well they hide what is. How they blame the victim for his victimization.

    But he is free of it, now.

    Leafy, especially when we are in communication, there is no communication in my family of origin. There is regret that we are not the family we could be, but we don't know how.

    My work here involves accepting what is for what it is. Anonymity is crucial to this process. I am ugly, here. It is helpful to know that the patterns of behavior in my family of origin are common to certain kinds of dysfunctional family patterns in other families. It is helpful too, to learn, here on the site, the ways healthy families interact. In this way, the burdens of guilt and resentment and anger having to do with my family of origin can be made to come into focus clearly enough to be examined. We can learn to choose healthier ways to think about ourselves and our families.

    We can learn this.

    At the heart of the hurt is rejection, which is a version of the Shun. The Shun in all its variations is a core dynamic in my family of origin.

    Isn't that something.

    And I feel so fortunate to know it, and to know that like love or hate or mental illness or sexuality, shunning too proceeds along a continuum. If shunning is a dynamic in your family, there will always be some version of it in play.

    So says me.



    Devastating deviation from the norm (a child in trouble, an addiction or a mental illness) are addressed differently in healthy families. That a family member has problems no one knows how to address often becomes a catalyst for changing how such occurrences are viewed in the world at large. For instance, the Kennedy family changed the way mental health issues are addressed for all of us with their creation of Special Olympics. The story is a horrific one. Much of what that family accomplished had to do with addressing rage. Their story too was very hard. Somehow, they did what they did, and changed the world, not only for children and adults challenged in those ways, but for all of us, in that this family's story enabled all of us to examine and then, change, the way we see and assign value, both to ourselves and to one another.

    Dr Martin Luther King. The Protestant Martin Luther. Maya Angelou. Viktor Frankl. Maria Harris. Karen Armstrong. Anne Lamott. Joseph, with his teaching about the internal mindset of slavery.

    So many.

    There are so many people who have changed the way we see.

    As I come through this time, I am seeing the correctness in blazing rage. Not in rageful destruction or behaving badly in public, but rage as a brilliant signpost to...something that matters, but that I cannot describe. I was so shocked at the intensity of rage. In fact, rage is a blessing. When we acknowledge our rage, even if we don't know what to do with it (like me) there is suddenly no need for the shame based dynamic of denial.

    That portion of the game falls apart of its own accord.

    We have colluded in our own blackmail for all of our lives.

    This is the lesson, I think, in the story of Joseph's enslavement at the hands of his brothers. When we stop believing in them, when we begin to see through our own eyes and not theirs, we stop playing, and we stop paying. Suddenly, we see we have paid our good, good money (power/integrity of self in the sense of an unbroken whole) (Courage, from coins minted in fear) for a counterfeit cause.


    Their actions, their motivations, the nature of the win and the terrible burden of the cost of it enrage me. Good for me. Rage is clean. Like in the poem about the mosaic, (when the tiles of that mosaic first composed in blood on stone fall seamlessly together, revealing no face but her own) rage is the heart of me.

    I wish it were love.

    But in the raw honesty of it, rage is love.


    If my family of origin are mistaken, it is a question of vision. It is true they may not be responsible for their blindness, any more than I could see beyond my own. (Family Dinner)
    That is why the Rocky imagery is good for me to remember. Or the Scotsmen. Or the mother teaching her child integrity of self.

    Each of them, just doing the next right thing.

    I am sorry for your father's pain, Leafy.

    I think maybe we are seeing what is for the first time. The hard part is working with the emotions we went into denial to avoid.

    For me that is the hard part.

    What I have learned in the nine days since my brother's death is that the forbidden emotion (rage) tells a truth we are blessed to hear. There is fear. The fear ~ I don't know yet what it is comprised of. I am afraid I am who they believe me to be. I am afraid lest the abuser hated the very things I rage against, and found them in me. I think that is the fear that fuels denial until it becomes automatic ~ until it becomes just the way our brains work. Fractured self image and fear of fraudulence at the heart of us, where core integrity was, in the beginning. Damaged, not defective, remember?

    We disown inappropriate feelings, deserting and holding parts of ourselves in contempt, to do so. We are (I am ) like Nessie in that way maybe. The living mystery at the heart of Loch Ness.

    Very cold water.

    Very black.

    Something in there.

    We are correct, in our rage. I think rage may be the cleanest emotion. Hatred, resentment ~ those feelings carry the tinge of justification.

    Rage is my own.


    Radical Compassion for ourselves, in our rage and our ugliness.

    Radical Compassion is necessary if we are to come through without re-traumatizing ourselves. Radical Compassion in the face of our fear that we are ugly, broken things, sickly certain the abuser will tell again the same truths that destroyed us the first time. (Here is the imagery of the Scotsmen again, lifting their kilts.) The challenge (and the healing) has to do with requiring that we accept and cherish ourselves as a mother would. Accept and teach ourselves as a father would. In healthy families, children are cherished and taught, from the time they are born, who they are to be in their interactions with the world.

    Think of the little girl in the video of the lamb's birth.

    Think of the self concept engendered through the mother's attitude.

    Envision the integrity of self in the adult.

    Fear of failure, fear of the unknown; fear of failure to complete the task successfully. The mother's question: Can you feel the nose. (Figure out where you are. There is no action to take until we know what action is required. That is what the mother taught her child in that video.) That is how we can know how to parent ourselves. Instead of panic, small, flexible choices, easily reversed, until we know where we are. This is how we know how not to be afraid.

    Imagine having been raised that way. Imagine having known that one true thing.


    We will learn to stand like the Scotsman.

    Yes. I like that commercial very much.

    I may begin drinking Scotch, to remind me.

    There too, the Scotsmen take time. They assess the fearsome situation. When it is time, they are ready.

    No fear.

    It is what it is.

    Yay. Everytime we come to "it is what it is", we are probably correct in our thinking.

    So having written this post over the past days, I think I have learned about fear. That is the thing I am learning about. Rage is overwhelming, yes. But fearing it is a separate and very damaging dynamic. It is the fear that what we were taught about ourselves and one another is true ~ that is the thing that fractures reality. And the shards are edged in denial and shame, every one of them.

    Thank you very much, New Leaf, for giving me the opportunity to clarify and compare my thinking with yours.

    Fear, and how to know a better way.

    That is what the videos are about.

    Rage, shaming as it was for me, turns out to have been around for very long time. The lust of vengeance too.


    Who knew.

    If ever I have a tattoo, it will be something to do with these concepts.

    Rage is cleansing.

    And of the cost of the very real damage done.

    I was talking to someone during this week about rage and family. Again, I heard that old saying that what we want most is what we have never had. Everything to do with Family of Origin is like, edged in fire for me.

    Spew them out.

    Thank you, New Leaf. It seems you are correct. I do seem to be coming into some kind of balance. An effortless one. Probably it seems effortless because I am conditioned to brace against the unknown things that I know. They say we hold the tension of it in our bodies.

    But man, what a ride.

    It was so good to know I was not alone in my ugliness. I think we do need witnesses before whom we decide to declare ourselves as we are. I was so appalled at the way I was thinking.

    Now I am...well, I don't know.

    Thank you.

  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I have been making a study of how we respond to fear. Less intensely, I have been studying the ability to focus, and to concentrate. Excluding fear from the equation. All of this has to do with the concept of "When chopping onions, just chop onions." Or, with drinking our tea as though the Earth turns upon our pleasure in this moment. (Thich Nhat Hanh) I have been dancing (Only barre work, nothing fancy.), and find the discipline and externalization of pain to be helpful.

    And then, healing.

    Regarding how shocked I was at rage, I am reminded of someone's comment (Brene Brown?) that we should not compare our insides with what others display publicly.

    So I am less appalled at rage. It felt like everything was on fire for awhile there. Here is a secret: I enjoyed it at the same time I could not believe it was happening. I am less appalled than proud about it, these days. Isn't that something. It seems very real to me, and I am pleased to have that real emotion that is so intense.

    I really like it.

    But it tends to burgeon out at inappropriate times. Like, BOOM, there it is, surprising me with its intensity.

    I like it, very much.

    I am not acting inappropriately. It is that I usually don't feel ~ or allow ~ rage. Sometimes now I am speechless with it. I think the difference is that I am no longer afraid I will turn into someone (My mother) insane with rage; stupid with it. New Leaf posted a video for me yesterday in which the speaker said: "Everyone is doing what they like to do." That would have included everyone in my Family of Origin.

    It may be there is no mystery, here.

    It may be there is only me, here.

    Maybe, there was no win. I have been believing they meant me to feel what their actions created in me. Maybe, they were just doing what they like to do.


    Probably, they still are, then.


    As the days have passed, this intensity of feeling (rage) seems to become incorporated. I am learning the parameters. Like when volcanoes make new mountains from the depths of the oceans and create Hawaii.

    Or, Iceland.

    Lots of steam.


    Once the abuser has hurt us badly enough to break us, they only need to refer to the hurt place in future to break us again.

    That is what I meant. That is what keeps the circle of abuse alive even when the abuser is old and frail. Or, say we are in relationship with someone who likes to do that. This imagery explains that dynamic. Tells us something about why certain people from our pasts can hurt us so deeply and easily, even after much time has passed.

    Shame that they saw us broken and did not help us.

    That they watched us suffer.

    And did not help us.

  19. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    I think that we stood up many times, that is why we are here, we differ from our family, or those that abused us. We did not become like them, we left the game. It's that we didn't have the whole picture when we left, but that is different now. We have a better understanding.

    Rediscovering ourselves, knowing what happened in the past, the truth of it. Working through the layers.

    I am glad that you had a good relationship with your brother and are at peace with his passing Cedar.

    Yes, we can. It is a big piece to the puzzle of it, isn't it? Seeing everything through our own eyes.

    Is it also the rage that was denied as children? I could not feel rage. It got me into trouble. It was not "nice."
    I was so surprised at myself when I felt it out surfing. People would be dangerous and not abide the etiquette of it.
    Like rude, inconsiderate drivers.
    I would stand up for myself out in the ocean. Hubs insisted on it. He said, "If you do not surf aggressively, then people will not respect you and will take advantage of you, claim the wave from the moment you see it and paddle for it, never, ever miss a wave you claim." Okay, hubs never said all of these words together in one sentence, but I am consolidating here.
    There is a certain aggression with wave riding mixed all up in the exhilaration and peace of it. We learned the old way, one endeavors to set up into the best position at the peak of the wave. There are surfers who follow no rules and will try to drop in on the wave in front of you, that is a big no-no. I became pretty competitive and clever at thwarting the rule breakers efforts. I was surprised at my aggressiveness, like I had another persona. I had to tone it down a bit, learn how to use it, and not overdo. If I did, I would feel badly about myself. I was not rude, or inappropriate, or selfish, I took a stand for what I worked for. It was proper.
    I feel like this is what you are describing in a way. Rage is a blessing. It is an acknowledgement of injustice. But, it must be maintained. Is there such a thing as steady state rage? Controlled. Righteous indignation.
    It is good imagery, thank you for sharing this Cedar. We live in such a convenient age, with so much available at our fingertips. I am thankful for your words woven with these images. I love being able to make use of videos.
    You know Cedar, I think Dad was in review of his life for a very long time. I never knew my grandparents, they passed before I was born. So, I do not know the dynamic of his FOO. He was an interesting, complex man. I think he was very sensitive and built a wall up around that. He went inside of himself for a long time. It does not surprise me that he was deep in thought upon his deathbed. What surprised me was his sorrow and concentration on his mistakes.
    I think that was part of the whole process. Maybe also why he took a long time to pass, even while his body started to break down.
    Are any of us ready to meet our maker when the time comes? Will we feel like there is so much left to be done, or will we be at peace?
    Cedar, you have always been there for me through this. I have learned much from you, I do so appreciate the time you took to walk through my memories and thoughts with me.
    I do believe so, like fire cleanses the soil. Controlled burning. Some seeds, such as sequoia, remain dormant until fire breaks down the seed coating.
    You are growing into a strong upright tree, Cedar.
    I know, me too. It is good to have witnesses.
    Dancing, how lovely. I see barre work as intense stretching and preparing the body for dance. (I have never done barre work.)
    I took hula with my girls for awhile. We did warm ups before practicing the songs. Hula basics, different steps and stretches. It developed into a routine, but learning the names of the steps and executing them properly took time before it could be done without overthinking about it. We would work up quite a sweat.
    It must be nice to be moving your body through the routine again. The simple basics, it is the foundation.

    There is a certain power to rage. The fire within welling up. There is also a power to managing it.
    I think that is a very simplified way to look at it. I was thinking about it this morning. It is different to have lived through such a thing as a young child, then review it as an adult. What is the win for them, or for anyone who does what they want to do, regardless of the effects on others? It is all pretty complex, but all so simple at the same time. They just do what they want to do. Not "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The golden rule is not followed by everyone.
    They just do what they want to do.
    Volumes and volumes of books could be written about the whys and why nots, but it all boils down to that. People doing what they want to do.

    That is their shame, they may not own up to it, but it is theirs.
    But I do not want to go there, it is too much. I cant change the way things were, or even the way things are now, just my reaction to it. I don't know how I will feel if one of my sibs passes, or mom. I would expect to be running the tapes again, sent reeling back with so many memories. I feel somewhat at peace with it now, but don't know what will wash over me with the finality of losing a loved one within my FOO.
    I hope to keep working at building myself up to meet whatever comes with more understanding and grace.
    Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts, Cedar. I do not know if there is any way to prepare for such a thing as loss of a sib coupled with traumatic memories of the past. I am glad that you are at peace.