The sound of grief

As part of the counselling degree I am studying for, we were asked to write about grief and loss, either what it felt like or what it sounded like, according to us. I chose to write about how it sounded.

A piercing sound that shatters the core of me as if I were made of glass. I no longer recognise myself. I am fragmented.

I search through the shards for my reflection. I am desperate, flailing. Physical pain isn’t registering but God, the emotional pain is slicing into me like the glass slicing through my fingers.

The piercing sound has stopped but its echo lingers in my mind tormenting me. I can’t find my way back.

There is no way back.

Upon reflection, it is clear to me that I have written about the grief and loss I experienced as a result of rape.

And there is no way back. No way of restoring the sense of self I had identified with before I was raped. Like the echo of the sound that lingered, I will never not know the pain of that experience, the sound of it, but in the shattering of who I was I was awakened to the knowledge of that which cannot shatter, and with that knowledge I continued and continue on.

-Zoe Patterson

-Fighting Back

Asking the moon for help

I thought I may have been the only one to ask the moon for help, but as it turns out, asking the moon for help is something people have been doing since ancient times. Last night I asked the moon for help and had what I refer to as a processing dream which I’d like to share with you.

I dreamt I was observing my family from within the family home but they couldn’t see me. I noticed I was holding a copy of my book. As I stood there observing them I got the sense that I had to let go of the idea that I could change the nature of my experiences with them, or figure out a way to reconcile in order to lessen the pain of what they had put me through. There was a sense that I had to accept what had been and what was. This idea was frightening to me but I wasn’t sure why.

I began to look through the pages of my book to see if I could find an answer there. I noticed that at the end of the book it felt as if there was something missing. There was a page that had something written on it about healing but it hadn’t been understood and so was printed as something almost like a code to be figured out. I was then transported to another country. Here, I was physically paralysed by sadness. I was lay upon grass in the grounds of what seemed to be a private estate or healthcare facility. When awake, I could do nothing but cry and feel my grief. I had the sense that I had been unable to speak in this paralysis, coma like state, and had been in and out of wakefulness for years, perhaps decades.

In the grounds of this estate there were two people I didn’t know stood over me. One was angry with me and was blaming me for the paralysis, and the other had decided that I would never recover and should be transferred to a place where I’d be shut away and never expected to recover. I was aware of the conversation taking place and it added to my sadness but I realised that I had to let go of trying to reach them to appease them or explain what was going on, for none of this would help my current situation at all. I now had the sense that I had to let go of the desire to control or change the nature of anything and instead stay with my grief and see what happened. As scary as it was, I was tired of fighting it and it had already caused paralysis along with the loss of my voice so what more did I have to lose?

Upon realising this I was transported to another country where I found myself stood at the bank of a beautiful river surrounded by plants, trees and green shrubs. There were also hundreds of white flowers blossoming, some I recognised and some I did not. It was heavenly. I was with another version of myself who I could see had healed from all that I was experiencing now. She was wearing white and moved as if she was a part of the rivers edge, as if she herself was a flower blossoming there. I had healed from the paralysis but I was constantly weeping. This other self was showing me how she had healed and also where I had gotten stuck. She advised me to return to this place often.

I felt I had understood what was being asked of me and so I went for a walk to explore this new country. I passed people in streets and could here them talking in a language I didn’t understand. I then passed a home with the door open and saw a soldier, who looked as if he was returning from war, enter it. You could see that he had been psychologically injured. I went into the home to observe as I had done in my own family home and I saw that the man had not been to war but had chosen to wear the uniform of a soldier as a way of protecting himself from those he was living with. His mother was trying to convince him he had been to war and that his injuries were not caused by his family, and this I saw had the effect of worsening the mans psychological injuries. The mother then decided that the man needed to be kept locked in his room for his own safety, and to passers by she seemed to be a perfectly caring mother, but I could see that it was not for his safety at all but to protect herself from the truth being discovered by the rest of the town. And this she did willingly at the expense of her sons health and life. She would let him die before the truth was discovered.

I realised then how many of us there must be, victims of our own family. I hoped the man had a self that would come for him to guide him through his torment, for I knew that he was blind and deaf to everything outside of himself right then as he fought to remain sane, not wanting to accept that his mother was not only lying to him but was also in fact the cause of his psychological injuries, that were to him the equivalent to injuries sustained as a result of having been to war.

This is not the first time I’ve tried to converse with the moon. The first time was around two years ago. I had recently given up drinking after a relapse (I am now over two years sober) and I was worrying about my future. At that time in my life, Pam had met someone new and had moved to the other end of the country to live with them. I felt very alone. I was also feeling a little lost and decided to show the moon some shadow boxing as a kind of thank you for its presence.

I then had a dream that God (the universe) had thrown down a lightening bolt into my life that had made space for me to carry on in the pursuit of my dreams. It looked like destruction to anyone looking in but it was a parting of the sea so I could continue to fulfil my purpose, although I still wasn’t sure what my purpose was.

From that dream I concluded that my path had been cleared but this would not be visible to me until I let go of my attachments to the way I think things should be or the way I wanted them to be and instead turned my attention to my connection with God (the universe), then I would see clearly and know that my path was clear.

Around a week after this dream I discovered mindfulness based meditation and it transformed my life. All of the issues mentioned in the final page of the book: problems socialising, distrust of other people, a sense of disgust for having any sexual urges, fear of physical contact, are now predominantly memories. I have now been in a loving relationship with a woman I met a year ago, a relationship that is as physically fulfilling as it is emotionally.

And all of this I attribute to the practice of mindfulness based meditation combined with mindful movement and mindful conversation. Basically, becoming present and aware in all areas of life, and it is in this state of presence that I can love fully. In this state of presence I do need to forgive myself for the mistakes I had judged myself to have made, nor do I need to forgive others. In this state of presence forgiveness is redundant for there is clarity, with clarity forgiveness is not required.

In the coming months it is my intention to offer a daily live online guided meditation combined with mindful movement, likely to be shadow boxing or boxing based exercise, lasting for no more than 20 minutes per day. Once a week I will offer an extended session to include mindful conversation about our weeks practice. If this is something you feel you would be interested in, please get in touch with me at zoe@zoepattersonfightingback.com to let me know your thoughts, and keep an eye on the blog for further updates.

With love,

-Zoe Patterson

-Fighting Back

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