Posted by: starrystez | July 10, 2015

Thinking of Tunisia

I woke up crying about the recent terrorist attack in Tunisia. It affected me upon hearing about it at the time it occurred, but for some reason today it hit me full pelt. It might be because the UK Government has now told British tourists to leave the country since it is ‘highly likely’ another attack will occur. Tourists are being flown out in their droves and even the coaches sent to collect them have to have military protection on route to the airport. My tears aren’t just for the people injured and killed in the attacks, although my heart really goes out to the families affected as I can’t begin to imagine the devastation of losing someone in such a horrific way, but the Tunisians themselves, the innocent Tunisians who rely upon tourism to survive. What will happen to them now the Britons, at least, have gone? Naturally there will always be some tourists who continue to visit the country but I’m sure there won’t be anywhere near the amount there used to be. The impact goes beyond those who were directly affected to a worldwide heartbreak.

My tears are for everyone who suffers and the spiritual unconsciousness that seems to be an epidemic on this planet right now. I am thinking of everyone affected by the Tunisian tragedy as well as those who are in a difficult place right now for any reason. One day people will realize the peace that they are.

Posted by: starrystez | July 8, 2015

What my dream ‘Thalidomide’ counsellor taught me

I haven’t written about a dream for a while but I felt this one was mysterious yet meaningful enough to warrant a mention. Like most of my dreams it holds an important message when reflected upon.

I dreamed I went to see a counsellor at her home-based private practice. I sat opposite her on a couch whilst she sat on a chair; there was an area in her house dedicated to the purpose of counselling. There was a library to the right of her and whilst in the middle of the session I remember looking up and seeing a lady walk past and go into another room.

To start the session I said ‘I have a difficult ex husband’ to which she replied ‘I can see in the way you hold your shoulders.’ She advised me to breathe into my belly to ease the tension, which I did. Around about this point I noticed that the counsellor’s limbs were misshapen; her arms were small and stumpy, underdeveloped, although she did have hands. She asked me to describe myself and I replied ‘I’m spiritual, quite intelligent, I went to university.’

She began to end the session which annoyed me as it was really early! Then I noticed the counsellor wore a heavy ring around one finger; on closer inspection I saw a word engraved on it: it read Thalidomide. She suddenly put a book in my lap and said I could borrow it. I replied ‘Thanks, I love reading.’ I can’t remember what the book was about. She told me that I could think about whether to go back. I replied that I probably would. With a burst of inexplicable joy she presented me with more gifts. I flicked through, recognised and ackowledged them in the following order:

A book (again, no idea of content)

A picture of a cat

A picture of a pig

A picture of an elephant.

I thanked her and prepared to leave. There was a brief scatter of conversation at the door when I mentioned my son and she replied ‘the kid’ before reminding me my time was up. I tried to open the door but this was partially blocked by a large fire extinguisher. Finally I got out and began walking down the main road. The dream continues for a bit longer but the rest doesn’t feel as relevant, at least here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the counsellor being a Thalidomide victim that most drew my attention to the dream. I could not make out why I would dream about that. I know little about the medical disaster that bears its name apart from bits my mother mentioned since the babies were born not long before she had my half brother (who thankfully was not a victim). For anyone who doesn’t know, Thalidomide was a drug commonly available (I believe over the counter) to pregnant woman in the late 1950s and early 1960s for treating morning sickness. Needless to say, the drug had not been tested for this purpose and the sad consequence was that many babies of mothers who took it were born deformed, most often without arms or legs, but eye deformity, blindness and deafness also resulted in some cases. I am not sure whether this also occurred in the US in addition to the UK.

I have had a terrible headache over the last few days which has bordered on migraine and made me feel extremely sick. Yesterday I forced myself to get down the chemist for migraleve, a reasonably effective medication for migraines that contains coedine. Although I have taken it lots of times I was struck by a strange interest in the ingredients and side effects which I spent some time reading about. I suspect this is at least partly why my subconscious latched onto Thalidomide but the real reason is, I think, much more symbolic.

At the end of last week I went to see a counsellor for the first time in a number of months. My decision to go was based on all the difficulties that both me as an individual, and as a family, are facing right now; not being able to see my son, my dad’s terminal cancer, my mother’s cancer, another family member’s cancer, and decisions to be made around another child in the family that involve local authorities. In short, it is quite overwhelming.

So I went..

I talked and talked but all I felt was emptiness. It did not feel the way it did when I used to go to counselling regularly. Back then I really enjoyed going; I loved the relationship we had, being able to talk about what was on my mind and being heard, coming away with a renewed sense of mattering and being able to cope. Even the painful sessions felt good in their own way because they got me to where I needed to be.

So what was so different this time? I know it was not the counsellor although I did wish she would say more at times rather than just listen (previous counsellors had been more proactive) but it was not the first time I had seen her, so I knew our work together had been helpful once. No, I come to the conclusion that I simply didn’t need to go anymore. Talking about the pain and struggle, which had been so helpful once, merely reinforced them in my mind, even reinforced an identity based on them. I did not need practical tools to manage the pain, nor did I need someone to listen to it and make it real in my mind. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing those things; I did for many years, but now I realize that there has come a time to fully trust in the spiritual path. I have already been doing this but in a moment of doubt I thought to myself ‘There’s so much going on…I MUST need to talk to someone. I MUST need help…surely?’

I believe the emptiness I felt during my recent counselling session was my heart telling me I was in the wrong place. Yes my life hurts, I have moments of tears, I feel sick when I think about my precious son, I wish things could be different. But the answer does not lie in counselling anymore. There is nothing another human can give me that I cannot give myself. Ultimately, the answer lies in my spiritual truth, in letting go and living in the moment, trusting in the flow of life, having faith in God/Spirit/my Higher self, not in earthly matters. It does not mean earthly matters don’t hurt, but that the hurt doesn’t become who I am.

So what about the dream? To me, this simply reinforced my realisation that I have to rely on my inner strength and spiritual faith to sustain me. Going back to Thalidomide, I believe it symbolises being self sufficient, not needing to reach out to a counsellor anymore. Arms mean communication, contact, reaching out for help. Of course, I am not alone in life (even though I feel it sometimes) and I can and do reach out to friends where necessary, but I simply do not need a counsellor’s help. The dream was, I think, a message from my inner counsellor or guide, even my higher self, to remind me of my self sufficiency and connection with the All as shown by the ring. Her advise to breathe in my belly is very apt considering there is a lot of tension in that area right now. She asks me to describe myself to demonstrate the all-important question; who am I? What is my earthly identity? What can I take that is helpful to me, and what do I leave?

The pictures of the cat, pig and horse are all important totems that symbolise intuition, inner strength, fertility (note link with Thalidomide – it needs to be used in the right way), power and wisdom. The library may indicate the aksara records as well as wisdom. The fire extinguisher shows that I am dealing with my emotions without letting them overwhelm me, even though they feel overwhelming sometimes. The counsellor finished the session early because I no longer need it; I am ready to move on. I mentioned my son at the door because he my strongest attachment to this earth. Maybe the counsellor said ‘kid’ as a symbol of the young goat; a large mountain to climb, hurdle to cross.

I feel so grateful to have experienced such a vivid and meaningful dream. It reinforces the fact I am growing in all areas of life and I can trust myself, not measure myself against what others may be doing or feeling.

I am away on a spiritual retreat this Friday-Sunday and I am looking forward to writing about that.



Posted by: starrystez | July 1, 2015

The worst kind of sadness

At the moment I am locked in the worst  kind of sadness, one that is caused by cruelty and injustice. It is hard to know how to write this but I did want to be honest here, of all places.

I have not seen my lovely son for two months because his dad cruelly stopped contact after I told him I was physically incapable of continuing to have him for the length of time each week that his dad had recently told me to have him (that’s told, not asked). I tried to have him longer but it made me so ill that it was not sustainable. Although I offered a compromise (several actually) his dad has refused all texts, emails, letters and a mediation appointment. I have now applied to court. My fear is that he will not go there either and while in theory he should be sanctioned, I know justice does not reign on this Earth, even in our law courts.

Struggling with being unheard, misunderstood and at the brunt of others’ cruelty has been a common theme in my life but only now am I having to face its worst effects. I am at peace with my decision to ask his dad to have my son full time four years ago – I know without a doubt that I physically could not give him what he needed, whereas his dad could. I have been more than reasonable and offered to support his dad in making a decision should his dad be struggling, but really, what it comes down to is that he is looking for someone to blame. That someone has to be me.

I could cope with all that if it wasn’t for our son caught in the middle. Right now his best interests are clearly NOT being adhered to, however his dad has justified his actions to him and to himself. I shudder at both. His dad has convinced himself that I am so worthless that our son won’t even miss me. Or perhaps he hasn’t even considered that our son would miss me. Perhaps that thought has yet to cross his mind. Perhaps it never will.

I am left with a terrible sadness so intense that most of the time I won’t even acknowledge it. I won’t go into my son’s room or try to think about him – that is, most of the time. I just can’t. It’s too painful. I can’t face losing a child who I have already lost in so many ways. I gave him my absolute best but it wasn’t enough.

I am also at a loss as to how I move forward. There should be a hearing and I hope my ex will turn up, but knowing him as I do, I’d be surprised. The best possible outcome is that I see my son again and continue to see him. The worst is that I never will and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Maybe all I can do is act from a loving place, try all I can to show I want contact with my son, and leave the rest to the universe. I can’t control everyone and everything – sadly, my ex has made very sure of that. I hope I will be able to forgive him, whatever happens, for my own sake.

Posted by: starrystez | June 21, 2015

Sad visit

It was so hard visiting my dad today. He’s got advanced cancer and isn’t doing well at all. The bone has deteriorated in his left leg due to the prostate cancer metastasis and he is in severe pain despite strong painkillers. He can’t go out anywhere unless someone takes him out, and even then he has to be in a wheelchair. He can hardly stand and it’s obvious he’s struggling. There was a huge pile of washing up that he insisted I didn’t have to do, out of pride I guess, but of course I did it. It’s far harder for him than it is for me. My mother has changed his bed and is doing his washing but very begrudgingly it has to be said – she has never been very kind to him and sadly that isn’t going to change now. At least she is there for him on a practical level even if she can’t manage any more than that.

It was the first time I’d been to my dad’s flat in many years for complex reasons, but mainly due to my mother. As a result, I had quite a shock when I walked in, not just at the sight of my poor father bent double hanging onto a stick in one hand and the telephone table in the other, but the endless piles upon piles of books, cds and tapes that lined every stretch of his floor, right up to the ceiling, in every room. There were two chairs squashed in one corner but even these had less than one square foot of floor space around them. When I first looked into what was supposed to be his bedroom I thought it was a large store cupboard, I didn’t even see the bed in a small corner behind more stacks of records, dvds and books. Even the kitchen, to which there was barely any room to walk, had books and dvds piled on every surface, leaving very little room for the saucepans and cutlery which were in a precarious filthy pile next to the sink. There was little furniture in the lounge apart from two small armchairs and a cabinet that was almost invisible behind more stacks of books and dvds. Three large framed school photos sat on top; two of my son, and one of myself as a child.

I wanted to cry as I took it all in. I hope I don’t feel pity, I’m not sure what it is, but it grieved my heart to see how my dad lives. I felt a horror that is hard to put into words. Maybe it is the pervasive emptiness that seemed to exist in every book, every tape, every dvd that he clearly needed to hang onto to, perhaps in an attempt to feel complete.

My dad has always been a lonely person; we have that in common. His childhood was physically and emotionally abusive; his dad was a bully, his mother died when he was a young child. Although he has two sisters who he has some contact with, plus his religious faith and his friends in association with the religion, he has struggled to find his way in life. Unfortunately my mother has projected a lot of her issues onto him, leading to a very unhealthy dynamic between the two of them which exists to this day. He does his best for her but she will always find a reason to be critical, and due to his belief that he doesn’t deserve any better, he absorbs her words like a sponge. This has been the case since I was born, creating a very unpleasant environment for me to grow up in, alongside other difficult issues in my family at the time.

The relationship I have with my dad has improved a lot over the years, starting when my son was born, and I am grateful for that, as I’m sure is he. He used to visit me regularly and bring gifts for me and his grandchild and even take me out for lunch in his healthier days. My mum has had to accept this even though she does not like it; today she didn’t really want me to go to his flat, but I’m a grown woman and did anyway.

Today was painful for so many reasons; seeing for myself his clear deterioration, even though my mum insists it’s just his leg and he will improve; being thrown by all his – well – his stuff, which says everything that he does not. I’m not saying he won’t improve, but today I sensed a feeling of resignation emulating from him. He is clearly in intense pain and extremely miserable. I’m sure I wasn’t projecting when i felt this. The whole flat reeked of sadness.

I did the washing up, we chatted, I gave him some food I’d brought over, he gave me a cd, and I left. I text him later on saying I was home, as I travelled back by train, and that I’d be over again very soon, hopefully before his next hospital appointment in a month’s time. I urged him to call his doctor this week to get stronger painkillers. I managed to keep the tears in until I walked back through my own door, no less than several hours later.

Sometimes life is so very hard. I will continue to be a loving daughter now. I just wish that, in so many ways, things had been different for him, for both of us. I also know that life begins in the present and,with my presence today, I hope life feels that bit better for my dad.

Posted by: starrystez | June 17, 2015

Where I’d rather be

I was very interested to wake up with the following song playing in my mind this morning, particularly after watching The Matrix yesterday, and mediating on following the spiritual path and trying not to succumb to fears and worries of the flesh, as immediately I could see the message:

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